Sunday, December 14, 2008


It can be so hard to work with this damn pyramid thingy.  Lower levels....can be so time consuming.  And more dangerously, can pose as higher ones.

And in the context of relationships - romantic, platonic, familial - it takes either an agreement (unspoken, probably) to accept a position and stay there, or a constant negotiation of interests and needs to build upwards.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Art, Object, Sale, Meaning

A conversation I had earlier with a friend resulted in this little napkin sketch... reproduced here.  Hmm.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

re Auto Industry

When did union-bashing become so popular??  Even CNN is in on it.  (would include image but blogger is not working).  What ever happened to showing some love to "the people that brought you the weekend"??

First of all, this $73 per hour figure is misleading.  More importantly, it's pure nonsense to suggest that labor is the cause of Ford, GM, and Chrysler's problems.  It's because they made cars people don't want.  Case in point - compare unsold inventory levels.  Sales across the board are down, of course, but it is telling that Toyota has unsold inventory of 80 to 90 days compared with the Detroit average (Ford, GM, Chrysler) of 115 days.

Also - shout OUT to the workers at Republic Windows and Doors!

Monday, December 8, 2008


I grew up shooting trap* with my grandfather. I own a Beretta 682 combo.

Guns kill people.


## Well, cars kill people.

@@ But cars have other uses.

## So do guns. My gun is expressly for trapshooting (or hunting) - it's designed for birdshot. You could use it to kill someone but it's not a very good choice for that. This is why Dick Cheney's friend is still alive. Now, handguns. Handguns really have only one purpose.

So it's ok because my gun is less useful as a weapon against a person? I've made it a matter of degree. Compare to A, who would prefer all guns illegal.

She completely has a point. Simple googling brings up some useful numbers:
  • In 2005, there were 30,694 gun deaths in the US
  • 55% were suicide (17,0002)
  • 40% were homicide (12,352)
  • 5% accidents (789)
What about those homicides? What about protection - protecting oneself, family, or property in the case of home invasion?

And.....No. The numbers are a little older from the Brady Campaign, but they point out that in 1999, there were 8,259 firearm homicides in the US. Of those, only 154 were "justifiable homicides committed by private citizens with a firearm" (per the FBI). That's 1.8%. (And sadly, note the 50% increase from 1999-2005)

On the other hand, the Campaign states that a gun kept in the home is 22 times more likely to be used to kill someone you know than an invading criminal. "More kids, teenagers and adult family members are dying from firearms in their own home than criminal intruders." Christ.

At thanksgiving, this topic came up. There have been a rash of home invasions back home. My grandfather made it clear he keeps his arms ready just in case..... not sure how to feel about that. He also told us how he used to have a pistol for self-defense in the house - when the grandchildren came, he got rid of it (and locked up the other guns).

I don't want guns to be outlawed. I'll never keep a gun in my house for safety reasons, but I wouldn't stop someone else from doing it. Sensible restrictions, for sure. Like - automatic weapons. No. Simply, no, that's retarded and no one has a need or use for a freaking machine gun. And if handguns were illegal - wouldn't mind that either.

And of course, if I have children.... I'd want to know if their friends' parents kept guns.

*Yes this photo is our gun club (apparently from the time of the pharaoh), down on the banks of the tippecanoe

On connecting to Action

Oh my aching body! So maybe it wasn't food poisoning. Mayhaps I am simply sick. Again.

I was thinking about connecting good ideas and visions to concrete action. Implementation.

How do you write? You get an idea, you put in on paper, and...
... to me, it's become a series of Whats and Hows. Like html v. content. Like, What's the idea? Ok, now How do I explain that, write it, argue it? The Hows are necessarily simple, and they in turn become the What for the next level down.

One I really liked, came up earlier. Working with A on this paper, not even that long, just a beast anyways - on humanitarianism, old and new, in the context of Kosovo. Supposed to be 10 pages (10 or more? well, that's what I thought)... we currently stand at 17. Shoot. A: "We need to trim this down to 10." Me: What's wrong with a few extra pages? We've got a lot to say. Not quite what I said. But, I didn't take it particularly well. Thinking... because I saw us hacking off like 40% of a paper. What, how. What - we have to trim this down. How - go paragraph by paragraph, improving, consisifyin', and rationalizing. Once I made that connection, it worked.

On Reading. I feel like my personal reading has not had the rigor, nor provided the intellectual stimulation, that I am looking for. Comparing this to some of the classes I've had (the good ones!), I realized I was missing the purpose of the reads. Like, if I'm simply curious about Aristotle, diving directly into Poetics may or may not lead me anywhere. Wikipedia might be a good starting place, though. Because, without the purpose of the read - its context, its import - I risk reading it in a vaccuum and that is certainly not how it was written.

This last leads me to my search for a geneaology of ideas. I discovered the Archeology of Knowledge, plan to look that up. Perhaps it will help... Also found the History of Knowledge. I feel like with the aid of such a tool, I will be able to 'design' mini-courses of reading for myself and actually build something up.

reading to learn, improve

Friday, November 21, 2008


I wonder how much cognitive dissonance can slow you down?  Or am I just looking for excuses?  I need to spend more time on myself - you know, like America's neglected infrastructure and the hidden costs that imposes on our economy and our daily lives, I'm sure that my mental and emotional 'infrastructure' needs attention.
  • I purport to like writing yet have only written 2 of a possible 12 short papers in a certain class.  And these are the kind I should like.  Do like.  Just not writing them.
  • I like languages but I'm not learning any right now. 
  • I like reading yet I mostly read blogs.  Nothing against blogs.... IOZ's wordsmithing notwithstanding.... but at some point I'm just wasting time.
  • I love learning... yet find myself so uncommitted to my studies.
  • I thought I was a hardworker but I seem to choose distraction and sleep over actual work.  Today I literally slept through work.  (Well, somewhat sick but still).  Where is my drive?
  • Why haven't I learned more about my bicycle?
Meh.  So there's more, I'm sure.  I'm going to buy a journal and spend some time with myself.  Adieu.

Oh, and where can I find a genealogy of ideas?

Thursday, November 20, 2008


I found a lot of things in The Color Purple, but foremost I think I was struck by forgiveness.  Such a beautiful, energetic, over-active (?) picture of life.  The people in the book went through so much, largely at each others' hands.  Yet at the end I'm crying quietly near the Fire of Hospitality* as the family the final reunion of sisters.  And all together, full of love, "so happy...the youngest us ever felt..."

In the end, I liked Albert best, as a character.  What he goes through, his story of redemption, acceptance, forgiveness... humanity could learn a lot from him.  (from all of them).

A few quotes:
I think us here to wonder, myself.  To wonder.  To ast.  And that in wondering bout the big things and asting about the big things, you learn about the little ones, almost by accident.  But you never know nothing more about the big things than you start out with.  The more I wonder, he say, the more I love.

Which I found hopeful.

-Who do you think you is?  You can't curse nobody.  Look at you.  You black, you pore, you ugly, you a woman.  Goddam, you nothing at all.

-But I'm here.

[emphasis mine]

And then there are the youngsters who want bicycles and British clothes.  Mirrors and shiny cookpots.  They want to work for the white people in order to have these things.  Things!  He said, in disgust.  Bloody things!

Which..... is how cultures are destroyed.

A propos forgiveness....  I have one in the hopper about the 9-11 Forgiveness Movement.  Need to get on that.

* A symbolic and always-burning fireplace in our university's student union.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Things to keep track of, #1

  • Crashing economies, especially developing countries and the world's poor. Everyone talks about the US, and how Iceland went bankrupt, but really, we're going to be ok. Not great, but ok. What about all those 1.4 billion making less than $1.25 per day?
  • Sudan. Horrific conflict that I'm sure my country, myself, somehow have a role to play...
  • Russia. What in the world is going on there, what are they thinking, how are we the same? and different?
  • Congo. There's a war going and a lot of people are dying. What role am I playing in this?
  • Good theatre. I saw Hamlet last night and it was awesome. Reminded me that I love theatre and need to spend more time with it.
  • Bees. Are the bees still dying? Is this a sign of something going wrong in the system? Are we doomed?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Do you hear them


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Home sick

keepin' the spirits up -

Funny Dog Pictures
see more puppies

Also - join in the fun!  Send this to all your friends and everyone can sit around, sick at home, gchatting with their friends about how cute these lil guys are...  (yes its live)

And, prop 8 protest signs:

Thursday, November 6, 2008


Reasons for joy and hope.

A need to recognize Yes We Can can't change to Yes We Did (even though we did) - there is still so much work to be done.

But I think today it is important to recognize that OMG HOLOGRAMS.  Star wars is real.  Only, apparently that telltale blue glow wasn't real.  As in, the movies have so molded our expectations that CNN added the glow to reassure viewers that it was only a hologram.  Sheesh.

Finally, importantly - read this.  Just to quote part of the poem he has in its entirety:

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.


(It never was America to me.) 

O, let my land be a land where
Liberty Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There's never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath–
America will be!

Monday, October 27, 2008


Just trying to understand myself, my place, who I am.  You know, the reg.

Does anyone really know themselves that well?  Is it worth fretting over?

I've been feeling a lot of raw emotion lately.  Generally good, I think, full of love, feeling joie-de-vivre as it were.  Still, I'd say the spikes to the negative are, if fewer, still stronger.  Why is that?  How does this work?  Who am I....

Just got home from a lengthy 1am bike ride.  Hmm.

I feel that finding rhythm and connecting with others is what I would consider my greatest weakness.  At least, right now.  Why?  No se.  I just feel so disconnected lately.  Plugged out.  Empty, often.  

There are bright spots.  That one 'Fest' a few weeks ago.  Mindblowing and amazingly positive.  The first night a and I sat out and drank wine until the wee hours - intense is the only word for it.   Frisbee.  The Wodehouse.  


Who am I, what am I doing, and where the fuck am I going?  

I feel a period of hermitness coming on.  It's desirable in some ways..... but it feels so dangerous in others.  I'm afraid I would become something and lose connection.  There's this song (Waifs), it worries me to like the first lyrics so much, what with what follows immediately thereafter... and how it sometimes feels right.

I've decided no one's knowing
anything about where I'm going

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Quote- his face got so red that, what with the white collar and the fact that the wind had turned his nose blue, he looked more like a french flag than anything else.

From - The Inimitable Jeeves, PG Wodehouse.  Awesome.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Free Market Utopia

There is no active research or support for any of this, other than what's in my head today and needs to come out.  Hopefully soon I'll springboard off of these thoughts for a more indepth post.

1. What is the rationale for the free market?  It should provide the most efficient allocation of scarce resources.  To parse that a little:  
  • SHOULD - really?  why?  how?  
  • PROVIDE - through what process?
  • EFFICIENT ALLOCATION - what is efficient?  does everyone benefit?
  • SCARCE - is this a rhetorical descriptor/does it mean all resources are (ultimately) scarce?
  • RESOURCES - does it work for all resources?
2. What are the theoretical underpinnings of the free market?  The economic argument is always made ceteris paribus - "all else held constant" - so what is not constant and what threatens the model?  IF the market truly "should provide the most efficient allocation of scarce resources," what are the shortfalls that it faces in the real world?  These are probably cases for outside intervention, ie the government.  

3. The point, as it relates to utopia, is that everyone has a utopia.  (Is a utopia definitionally a fantasy?  Or would I do better to write "utopian fantasy")  There are many ways in which the theoretical free market does not fit reality.  One example that comes to mind are monopolies, which distort the market.  In any case, to ignore these and claim ad nauseum, without critical reflection, that we should "let the market work" or that government is "just in the way of the market" - is blissfully ignorant at best, maybe willfully myopic, and self-servingly blase at worst.

4. On the point of government.... I've tried more than once to create my own model for understanding the world.  Part of my current framework has the individual or group in a 3-dimensional context of the Social, Political, and Economic.  Through recent discussions and learnings, I've come to better understand the relationship among these three - to understand things in this way is effective, I think, but more usefully perhaps can be taken as a prescription as well.  There needs to be a balance among these three for a society to function smoothly.  One example - the rise of Naziism was at least partly due to the fact that the economy was in shambles and the political sphere was very weak.  The social became very strong, too strong, and eventually overshadowed the others....

Got to run.  More later

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Speaking of feminist underground railroads...

...A and I have this plan where if McCain wins, I will help her run a feminist underground railroad out of her apartment.  You know - contraception, emergency contraception, maybe some informational brochures and sex ed.

Actually, there already is a feminist underground railroad:

New York City is one of the few places women can go for late-term abortions.  Reasons for needing a late-term abortion range from lack of money or relationship issues to being unaware of the pregnancy or even, simply, deciding what to do.  Regardless of the need:
“I had to tell myself, ‘Every abortion is the choice of the woman having the abortion. This is about somebody else’s body. It’s not President Bush’s body, but it’s not mine, either,’ ” she says. “Being pro-choice is a morality that takes you morally out of the picture.” (article)
In NYC, there is a group called the Haven Coalition that provides free homestays to women who have to come to the city for an abortion.  It brings together two very different groups:
Most Haven hosts are white, Jewish, well schooled, and political. Some are empty-nesters with beds to spare and memories of the sixties and seventies women’s movement; many are young idealists with matchbox apartments and roommates who don’t mind an extra body crashing in the living room. 
Meanwhile, most of the women helped by Haven are black and Latina, with GEDs or less, low literacy skills, and not much civic moxie.
The article really is a nice read.  It is personal but not sappy, and political without being overbearing or preachy.  And very, very real - as if to highlight that this is real life and not a movie, at the point in the story when the main character - Adeena - "should" open up to her guardian angel host, and pour out her story, on the eve of her abortion, having just watched a movie about a young black woman who has an abortion - "she asks for lights out.  I set the alarm, fluff the quilt, and tuck her in."  

It leaves me feeling quiet, calm, and hopeful.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Read this. Now.

It's an article about drugs.  Made me cry.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Too many coincidences

They began last night, these coincidences of topic.  (Update: having written this post, I realize they didn't begin last night by any stretch but the quote at the end of post just got me thinking.  This post could be much longer)

Stopped at a's house to help move a couch (which actually was mostly taken care of by the three-armed duo before my arrival!), and the conversation turned to indignant annoyance/outrage at Beyonce - her new song, If I Were a Boy.  We watched the video, aka watched part of it and got too annoyed and bored to finish it.  So, we looked up the lyrics.  I was hopeful that it was satire, in some way, but you know what, it wasn't.  Or, if it was, it was too good for us.  Just too sharp, that Beyonce.  Maybe.  

Maybe not.  

So, after some basic research into Febreeze, (A's new couch kinda ....has a scent, shall we say) we continued our journey of fake homo -

I Kissed a Girl, is a song re-done by Kate Perry.  We weren't sure how to take it.  Thought about it.  Decided we didn't like it.  Did some more research (ahem, yes back to the wikipedia).  Uh, kissing girls to get attention including from your boyfriend...... is undeniably and outrageously fucking stupid.

So.  What else?  

Oh shit.  Local random college newspaper ran an article today that almost made me shit and puke at the same time.  It's about hetero-flexibility.
This trendy word describes straight women who make out with each other to entice men but don’t consider themselves lesbians or bisexual.
Um.  Fuck off.

On the bright side, this gem from Britain.  MI-5 is actively recruiting gays.  In fact (and this is not in the linked article, but I read this earlier just can't find the article) - it seems you have to be out to get in, for fear that you would be vulnerable to blackmail otherwise.  (A sort of beautiful perversion of Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell)

Finally, have been reading Jocks 2, and will end with this quote, which really struck me:
His parents suggested a therapist.  Ryan countered that he would go on one condition:  They go first.  Surprisingly, they agreed.  After one visit his parents told Ryan they realized he was normal; they, however, would continue to see the doctor to work through their own issues.  Over time they came to accept their son.  One of his proudest moments came when they helped him move in with his boyfriend.  These days, his mother cheers him on at meets wearing Ryan's sponsors' logos - including Outboard.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Back to the echo chamber. .

You know, whatever to the whatever that some people persist in smearing Obama by spouting that he is secretly a Muslim, trained to overthrow the government, etc.  There will always be crazy people.  

But isn't it just fucking LOW, and DESPERATE, that this has become an actual, utilized line of attack for more "legitimate" conservative outlets?  And so funny how it is done:

1. Tool Andy "Never-Saw-A-Lawsuit-I-Didn't-Like" Martin, an "independent and contrarian columnist," claims that Obama is a closet Muslim.  (Martin filed so many frivolous lawsuits that he has been barred by multiple state and federal courts from filing further suits without preliminary approval)

2. The "story" is picked up by, a pretty insular and rather extreme right-wing site.  Quote: "Andy Martin, will publish a column and hold simultaneous news conferences ... to disclose he believes Barack Obama is a political fraud who "lied to the American people." [emphasis added]    Seriously?  Seriously???  "To disclose he believes" - and people take this seriously??

3. As explained by Salon's Glenn Greenwald, Martin then appeared on FoxNews:

Over the weekend, Sean Hannity hosted a show on Fox News entitled Obama & Friends: The History of Radicalism. The star of Hannity’s smear fest was none other than Andy Martin, who was featured as an honored, credible
 investigator and source to expose “the real Barack Obama.” There wasn’t a hostile or adversarial word uttered by Hannity about or towards Martin. To the contrary, Martin’s claims were the basis for many of the Fox News show’s allegations against Obama.

4. And now Martin's claims can stand as a legitimate source in Hannity's own expose on Obama and his "History of Radicalism":

Et voila!  Just a few simple steps from kook to "Author & Journalist".  

Update: Martin's claims have surfaced in other places as well.  Love that echo chamber.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

For another Matthew S

I can forgive but I will not forget

our world needs to recognize its common humanity

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Thursday, October 2, 2008


The debate left me feeling alternately meh and depressed.  After the gay marriage bit, I sort of mentally and emotionally checked out.

This, however, made me feel so positive:

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Remember playing 'Telephone,' back in the day?

And how funny it was how the message could get distorted so badly?

Well, try this on for size:

Here, Kitty: Cop Expects House Cat, Gets Cougar

Beverly Hood said she was inside when she first saw the mountain lion lying on her porch Monday. Hood said the lion hissed at her, but she wasn't scared.

She called 911, animal control and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and reported that she had a bothersome "big cat." A dispatcher told Officer Mike Ableman that it was a house cat.

A game warden tranquilized the mountain lion and the animal was relocated.

A (short) History of Bread

Summers 2005, 2007 - mmm, baguettes.  Parisian baguettes.  Oh, and almond-chocolate croissants.

Beginning with the fall of 2007 - cornbread.  MMMMM.

A late night in the spring of 2008, after getting home from the bars with A - red wine and irish soda bread.  Not so much :-(   .... came out like a bob evans biscuit.

Last night - home made all-wheat baguettes.  MMMMM.  MMM.  fresh w butter!

Frames. This is complicated.

Yours truly is in an international business seminar, with a great professor and a diverse, involved class.  The class itself is usually quite good, informative, learning takes place, much of it through the discussion and sharing of perspective - and interestingly, considering the context (business class), there is quite a bit of populism and anti-freetrade sentiment.  Lively discussions.

The readings, on the other hand, can be quite different.  Frustrating even.   For example, talking about the rose industry (and paying lipservice to questions of environment and labor rights), the text goes, "...thanks to free trade, a New Yorker can now buy a bunch of fresh roses for his beloved on February 14..." or "On February 14, however, most consumers are oblivious to these issues; they simply want to show their appreciation to their wives and girlfriends with a perfect bunch of roses." [emphasis mine]

Two things.  There's the obvious framing from the traditional, straight, male perspective.  Meh.  This framing is self-perpetuating, though.  Obviously, anyone and everyone can take Valentine's day in their own way, by giving a rose or just saying 'I love you' to a loved one or two or more.  Gay, straight, male, female, queer, single, etc.  But the constant, persistent, never-ending framing of the holiday in this way surely carries with it meaning for the participation of groups outside of that frame.

It's complicated and a lot of it beyond my judgment, understanding.  But you can't help but notice things like this.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Hum, hmm, meh. Trapped.?

I've been very up and down in recent weeks (e.g. - eating my 6th fudge poptart of the day).  Personal stuff, politics, economy, all these crazy things going on.  Generally, I feel pretty up, any more, though there are definite down times.  Today, is a down time.  And, the first such time I've still felt like posting.  Is that progress?

Today, I woke up at 1pm.  No.  Actually, I woke up at 6:30am, 7, 8, 8:30, 11, and finally 1pm.  I missed the same two classes (7:45 and 9:30) last week as well.  I also have a 1pm course tuesdays and thursdays, which I have made perhaps half the time.  Now, as most people know my class attendance has never been my strongest suit.  Don't worry - I'm dependable, just maybe not the most disciplined.  Anyhow, whatever to past attendance issues, this is bad.  Grad student, for ____'s sake.

As of 90 seconds ago, I'm having second thoughts about relating this up and down-ness and subsequent poor attendance to the personal stuff. 

My outlook, involvement, interests, passions, etc, have changed quite a bit (I think) in the past several months.  x^2 kind of like.  Where before there was a general disquiet about my degree program, now there is outright disinterest and dismay.  But with student debt being what it is, I don't have a choice at this point.  I just don't.  And so maybe my current depression could be better attributed to this growing dissonance - while the assumed relation to my own personal issues better understood as a cognitive cop-out to avoid recognizing what was, in retrospect (hindsight being 20 20), a poor decision on a degree program.

So, I guess the key question is, can this realization be translated into improved discipline when it comes to classes and classwork?  I mean, for the lord's sake*, I'm a good student and I have one freaking semester left.  I mean, I have 10 weeks left.

My advice to everyone (and my past and future selves):
Neither a borrower nor a lender be;
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.

* reference to my future cat.  her name will be 'the lord'

Sunday, September 28, 2008

On Genetic Testing, and Health Insurance Pirates (repost)

First off this is awesome :

Second....check out this posting at slashdot about a bill to prohibit genetic discrimination. Good point in and of itself, but the larger question about it is interesting. Basically, the point is that if health insurance companies have access to your genetic information, they will be able to pinpoint propensities towards diseases and either target you with higher premiums, or simply refuse coverage altogether. That's what the bill seeks to outlaw.

However, it's more complicated than that - some argue that genetic testing in itself will drive health insurance out of business, that it is an argument in favor of a national system. If the health insurer can't use the genetic testing information... that doesn't stop the consumer from doing so. In other words, the consumer could get his information, pinpoint what diseases he or she might be genetically predisposed towards, and then insure heavily for that - but the insurance company wouldn't see this coming so they would lose money hand over fist on such people.

Indeed, the argument is that insurance companies depend on the uncertainty that is threatened by genetic testing. Insurance is for uncertainty. There will always be uncertainty, but how much of it is potentially removed by something like genetic testing??

In all, genetic testing is a good thing. Yes? Earlier and earlier diagnoses mean better (and cheaper) prognoses and treatments, higher quality of life, etc etc. Lower costs and better health are good for everyone.

Smart thoughts on a bail-out

I does be likin' dis from Thom Hartmann:

For Grover "Drown Government In The Bathtub" Norquist, this bailout deal will work out very well. At a proposed cost of $4,780 per taxpayer, it'll further the David Stockman strategy of so indebting us that the next president won't have the luxury of even thinking of new social spending (expanding health care, social security, education, infrastructure, etc.); taxes will even have to be raised just to pay for the bailout. It'll debase our currency, driving up commodity prices and interest rates, which will benefit the Investor Class while further impoverishing the pesky Middle Class, rendering them less prone to protest (because they're so busy working trying to pay off their debt). It'll create stagflation for at least the next half decade, which can be blamed on Democrats who currently control Congress and, should Obama be elected, be blamed on him.

But there's another way: Create an agency to fund the bailout, loan that agency the money from the treasury, and then have that agency tax Wall Street to pay us (the treasury) back.

It's been done before, and has several benefits.

He is advocating a STET - a Securities Turnover Excise Tax - a small tax on trading. 

He lists out a whole bunch of nice-sounding benefits.  He explains how this has been done before and is done now by a few nations - UK and Taiwan for example.  He also explains how it's been done time and again to pay for needed programs, right here in the US.  He explains how, in the first year, a tax of 0.25% - one quarter of one percent - could raise $150 billion.  And how, post-paying for the bail-out, such a tax could support national healthcare. 

I can hear those free market evangelists howling already.  :-)

Where to start?

Look.  Globalization is real, ok, the world is speeding up, it's smaller, it's flatter, and there's a whole hell of a lot of money to be made out there.  For those who have access to it.  Aside from that last sentence, this is the meme that's been driving most Americans' acceptance of the good, and even the need, of globalization.  However, I don't think most Americans think they've seen anything by way of benefit, unless you count the table crumbs of lower prices at Walmart that we all enjoy.  Yes, enjoy.  Sheesh.

But I think Hartmann puts it well, drawing the distinction between the 'investor class' and the 'middle class'.  The investor class has access to the gains of globalization. 

And that investor class is now about to pawn its losses off on the people.  Imagine - make Wall Street pay for itself!  Pull its own load!

What else....

I love his point about speculation v. investment.  Speculators try to make profits on the margin, small profits, in the shortterm.  Money to be made here is only going to be made by those have time to spend on playing the market and those who have enough money that small gains can be multiplied by large investments.  Investors try to find good companies to, you know, invest their money in.  Speculators don't pay to gamble, as of now, unless they lose, and even then, if they can lose big enough - the people will pay.  A side benefit to the tax is that it discourages, in a small way, the speculation - so it encourages longer term investing, helps stabilize markets, and even small investors can invest in a compay.

He also gives a history of bailouts - and their generally poor, poor track record.  He doesn't think the taxpayers will get much money back on their bailout.

Finally, I also like the name of the tax - Securities Turnover Excise Tax - the word 'excise'.  Like with alcohol, for example, to tax something as a vice of sorts and thus mildly discourage it. 

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Someone Who Has Really Smart Stuff to Say about Mrs. Palin

Ta-Nehisi Coates:

Of course the irony of all this is how conservatives have, for years, lampooned the liberal pursuit of multiculturalism/identity politics. But here's the thing, even when done haphazardly, awkwardly, and imprudently, the fight against bigotry and ignorance has rewards. But when you decide to not be a leader in the fight against sexism/racism and simply criticize those who do, you rob yourself of political experience. Put differently, there is a price--bigger than the black vote--to be paid for disengagement. You become ignorant of a growing sector of the world. They expected Hillary. And if it were a black man, they never even knew it could be someone like Barack Obama. So these guys go to the well one more time, and ressurect the old spectres of "Us against Them." But the fools haven't been paying attention--the"Us" has changed. This isn't Alabama, and it ain't 1968. There is a whole class of educated, working women, themselves, the children of educated working women. And this is what McCain has to say to them, "I don't care if you know a thing about foreign policy. I don't care if you know a damn thing about the economy. Here is what you are to me--breasts, hair and a lovely smile."

h/t Bitch PhD

Friday, September 26, 2008

Oh Lovely Bailout. Why dost thou...

make no sense as I currently understand you?

In fact, some of the most basic details, including the $700 billion figure Treasury would use to buy up bad debt, are fuzzy.

"It's not based on any particular data point," a Treasury spokeswoman told Tuesday. "We just wanted to choose a really large number." 

h/t Pancake City

Yes I watched the Debate.

Myself and New Friend caught the debate in a crowded, even boisterous bar.  Unfortunately, I think that once the music teacher left, we were the only ones whose primary interest was beyond baseball and booze.  Either way, it was awesome, fists were pounded, and drool was drooled at the thought of what could happen next week when Biden makes Palin look childish.  I mean hell Katie Couric already did this (2nd one is even worse, totally cringe-worthy).  I think Biden can handle as well.

The debate?  Well,  I don't think my direct reaction is interesting.  Of course I thought Obama won.  However, it was interesting to see the approval lines for Republicans, Democrats, and Independents move around.  And it was clear that Independents favored Obama. 

I agree, though, Obama should have hit harder.  He had 2 prime opportunities:

1. Torture.  Said McCain, during the debate, "I have opposed the president ... on torture of prisoner".  However, back in February, he voted against a bill that would have outlawed waterboarding, which McCain himself has called an illegal form of torture.  A bill that was heartily opposed by our dear president.

2. Caring for Veterans.  Umm.  What a silly name for a point?  Anyhow, McCain tonight, speaking to this point, said, "And I love them.  And I'll take care of them."  ......Except maybe for when you voted against (ahem, did not vote on but consistently opposed) the 21st Century GI Bill.  Additionally, what do vets groups have to say about McCain?  He received a grade of D from the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and a 20 percent vote rating from the Disabled Veterans of America.

Good night.

Debate Transcript

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Come on, who said it?

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.

This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals.

It is some 50 miles of concrete highway. We pay for a single fighter with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.

This, I repeat, is the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.


Yes, very determinedly not doing homework on this fine, fine sick day.  Meh.


They've some sort of algorithm that matches politicians' quotes on topics.  You can see what any two politicians have to say on a particular subject, and click 'Spin' to see more on the same, or switch out one of the pols to compare to another.


Update: Actually this is a fun game!  Most of the politicians have many, many quotes associated with a particular issue, but with Sarah Palin you can take bets with your friends on how few she will have!  Sort of like a sad, inane version of the Price is Right...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A few more things

Read this earlier, came across this quote describing the media's current role:

Have you ever been fucked violently in the ear? And then your friend comes in and, instead of helping, starts telling you what the guy's balls look like? That's you. You're that friend.

I want you to protect me from getting fucked, and all you're saying is "Balls, balls balls."

What else...watched the Daily Show and was struck by Bill Clinton's at least three times referencing an event or issue in relation to when it occurred during his presidency.  I did appreciate the way he spoke about the "media narrative" of his and Hillary's supposed dislike for Obama.

Ah, and of course the Colbert Report.  Not every night one has the good fortune (and time!) to sit around for an hour...  I did like how he made fun of some republican congressman's analogy about how Congress' delay in passing the $700bn bailout is like someone stopping the firefighters on the way to your fire - he merely pointed out that Paulson, having spent 30-odd years at Goldman Sachs might better be called an arsonist...

And thank you for emphasizing the non-reviewable demand the fucking administration had the gall to include in their proposed legislation.

A few things. (Why am I in this handbasket and where are we going...)

Whoa.  How to take this? 

Haha.  Freal, though?  So, we love our bankers more than.... I mean, we pay out the ass for healthcare but don't have corresponding better health outcomes.  (Infant mortality, for example).  One of these two sectors - financial, health - deserves nationalization more than the other!

Hmm.  I especially love the need to fight 'life claustrophobia'.

Oh, and apparently McCain is on record as wanting to fix the healthcare industry just 'like we fixed banking'.  Great.  Speaking of the Wall Street Journal, even they caught this point, relating to Social Security especially.  Even the WSJ. (9/22/2008 - "Crisis Draws Attention to McCain Social Security Plan")

There's probably more...

Youth voting...

HistoryLearn from itNah

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Indiana could go Democratic

Indiana might go Democratic for the first time since, well, who knows but a long damned time.

I know the red base has become more energized since Palin, ok.  It does seem like Obama is in a lull and *needs* to get back on the offensive (the media offensive, that is - lots could be said about THAT). 

But the energy, the action, the organization, and the get-er-done is definitely still on Obama's side I think. 

In 2004,

             Primary           General

Democrats:   335,000 --------> 969,000
Republicans: 469,000 --------> 1.4 million

That was a year in which George Bush ran uncontested through the primaries, although there was a vigorously fought general election.

This year, John McCain is running and seems to have injected some energy into the Republican base but I think the right's past love-hate relationship with him will still prove a factor.  I know too many people here who I would picture as McCain supporters but who say that don't like him and don't plan to vote.  Obama meanwhile has certainly generated a lot of excitement and built a huge machine, especially here in Indiana. 

In the primaries this past year, with a hotly contexted Democratic primary and a decided Republican primary (by the time Indiana voted):

Democrats:     1.27 million
Republicans:   411,000

It depends on how motivated the republican voters are and on what happens with the 646,000 Hoosiers who voted for Hillary.

* From Indiana Secretary of State Elections Division Statistics.  Numbers are approximations...

** A good-sized chunk of Obama supporters have only a cellphone and/or have just moved back to college, many into dorms.  I wonder what impact this might be having on these stupid, daily polls?

Prez sez... me.  Please!

More seriously, I think the perspective betrayed in the "Fact Sheet: The Seventh Anniversary of 9/11" shows how little progress has been made.  I think terrorism is a symptom, and like most (all?) conflicts can be traced to past injustices and competition over scarce resources.

And I don't think 9/11 or the burst pimple of past and current injustice that it represents should be summed up in a sycophantic press release about how great our Great Leader is.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Friday, August 22, 2008

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Aristotle, Hypocrisy, US, Russia, and Georgia

This is late in coming - it's been done for quite awhile, just been kinda ....busy.

Russia invades Georgia.
World outcry. Sharp, confused (?) criticism by US.
Charge of hypocrisy against US (over Iraq). Duh.

Hypocrisy does NOT weaken an argument, not directly. It lowers persuasive value but the logic still holds.

Three parts to rhetoric: Argument (or logic), the Speaker (how she is perceived), the Listener (his emotions) (the argument being the logic).

So, the US invasion of Iraq doesn't weaken the logic of the simple argument - nations shouldn't invade other nations - but it kills kills kills the Speaker (the US) because no one (few) will take the US argument very seriously due to its own actions of recent history. (Yes the EU is talking too but .... they're not known for action and anyways most of them depend on Russia for their energy).

Hurricane Katrina

Trouble the Water

This looks reallllly good.  The website for the movie has a trailer, and just watching that I realized - in all the coverage of the thing, of the whole ordeal, I can't really remember video or images like what's in this movie.  Always plenty of footage of floods from above, and speeches, and promises, and national guardsmen, but the people?  A neighborhood?

Was I watching the wrong station?  (Was there a right station...)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

That's it. I'm done. Never paying for music again.

Goodbye Pandora (and the rest of web radio)

And it drives me crazy knowing that they don't care - SoundExchange, the RIAA, record labels, they could give a damn about me because they've got millions already paying them. At what point would they care....or could we just get rid of them?

From the article:

Last year, an obscure federal panel ordered a doubling of the per-song performance royalty that Web radio stations pay to performers and record companies.

Traditional radio, by contrast, pays no such fee. Satellite radio pays a fee but at a less onerous rate, at least by some measures.

As for Pandora, its royalty fees this year will amount to 70 percent of its projected revenue of $25 million, Westergren said, a level that could doom it and other Web radio outfits.

Oh, and:
Moreover, they [SoundExchange*] complain, Internet radio stations have done too little to make money from playing their songs.

Seriously? Seriously???

God forbid they just play music for enjoyment.

* SoundExchange is an organization that collects royalty fees on behalf of artists - whether or not the artist wants them to, or is actually getting the cash.

Ah, read it twice...

I was amazed, and at the same time I felt it was ridiculous: in my first shot at the West I was seeing to what absurd devices it had fallen to keep its proud tradition.

God's empty chair

He starts the first chorus, then lines up his ideas, people, yeah, yeah, but get it, and then he rises to his fate and has to blow equal to it. All of a sudden somewhere in the middle of the chorus he gets it - everybody looks up and knows; they listen; he picks it up and carries. Time stops.

Now you just dig them up front. They have worries, they're counting the miles, they're thinking about where to sleep tonight, how much money for gas, the weather, how they'll get there - and all the time they'll get there anyway, you see. But they need to worry and betray time with urgencies false and otherwise, purely anxious and whiny, their souls really won't be at peace unless they can latch on to an established and proven worry and having once found it they assume facial expressions to fit and go with it, which is, you see, unhappiness, and all the it all flies by them and they know it and that too worries them no end.

By this time Dean was so exhausted and out of his mind that everything he saw delighted him

I realized I was beginning to cross and recross towns in America as though I were a traveling salesman - raggedy travelings, bad stock, rotten beans in the bottom of my bag of tricks, nobody buying.

He looked more like himself huddling in the cold, misty spray of the rain on empty Madison Avenue at night.

The muddy cobbles and the Montana logs, the broken steamboats, the ancient signs, the grass and the ropes by the river. The endless poem.

He's on his way already ... Suddenly I had a vision of Dean, a burning shuddering frightful Angel, palpitating toward me across the road, approaching like a cloud, with enormous speed, pursuing me like the Shrouded Traveler on the plain, bearing down on me. I saw his huge face over the plains with the mad, bony purpose and the gleaming eyes; I saw his wings; I saw his old jalopy chariot with thousands of sparking flames shooting out from it; I saw the path it burned over the road; it even made its own road and went over the corn, through cities, destroying bridges, drying rivers. ... Behind him charred ruins smoked. He rushed westward over the groaning and awful continent again, and soon he would arrive.

Sal, I am digging the interiors of these homes as we pass them - these gone doorways and you look inside and see beds of straw and little brown kids sleeping and stirring to wake, their thoughts congealing from the empty mind of sleep, their selves rising, and the mothers cooking up breakfast in iron pots, and dig them shutters they have for windows and the old men, the old men are so cool and grand and not bothered by anything.

"D'you think I can ride to Fortieth Street with you?" he whispered. "Want to be with you as much as possible, m'boy, and besides it's so durned cold in this here New Yawk.."

Friday, August 15, 2008

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Links: Racial framing

More on Oil, Or, How OCS and ANWR Together Offer Less than SIX Years of Energy Independence

Here are the numbers (ANWR, OCS), and a touch of analysis:

(click the image for larger view)

Drilling for more oil does NOT offer a path to "energy independence".

US Annual demand for oil is about 7,300 million barrels of oil. Subtract domestic production (1,825), and you've got about 5,100 of unmet demand (mostly, imports). ANWR and the OCS offer about 28,400 millions of barrels, TOTAL, so 28,400/5,100 gives 5.2 YEARS of energy independence, not accounting for increasing demand.

Another way of looking at it: independence from OPEC. That's easy - ANWR + OCS is about 28,400 millions of barrels of oil, and we import about 2,153 yearly from OPEC. 28,400/2,153 gives 13.2 years of independence from OPEC - again, not accounting for increasing demand.

Friday, August 8, 2008

On Selling Pension Plans to Wall Street

Just a note for now - heads up on plans to sell defined-benefit pension plans to be managed by Wall Street.  I'm sure they'll have the vewy vewy best intewests of those workers at heart...

Thursday, August 7, 2008

I want one

I really liked this piece from the LA Times on the whole stupid flap.
It's worth considering why this was a story at all. No one would argue that proper tire inflation is not a good thing, though some people nonetheless managed (McCain's camp eventually backtracked a bit on the tire gauge critique). Further, no serious person believes offshore drilling will significantly affect either supply or price: Offshore drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf "would not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030," according to the government's Energy Information Administration.

The tire gauge vs. offshore drilling debate frames a competition of world views. On one side are those who believe
in conservation as a practical matter and, perhaps, a matter of "personal virtue," per Vice President Dick Cheney. On the other are those who find the tire inflation message an insufficiently grand and inspiring idea, weak-wristed, retreatist. Offshore drilling has the romance of heavy industry, with hard-hatted men named "Deke" going after what America needs. What, after all, is more macho: an oil derrick or a tire gauge?

The offshore drilling position also enjoys the stupendous advantage of asking nothing from consumers.

And here's the DOE info. Essentially, don't expect a significant impact until 2030, and even that assumes that more exists than has been found and that it is economically recoverable - assumptions the report is careful to point out are very optimistic.

As for the stupid tire gauges? I want one. (personally - it sounds like free advertising for the obama campaign, if you ask me)

:-) this is so sweet. i am sitting here by the water, on the edge of this park, and noticed a flower in a tree where none should be. it's a flower and a love note in the crook of a tree! just the sweetest thing to see

Monday, August 4, 2008

Protester Arrested

I watched this happen. Freaked my shit out

It was the old guy who has been protesting at the white house for 20 odd years. He seemed like he might have been intoxicated? Not sure. Later on his friend said something about him being diabetic. Anyhow, another guy had brought a PA system, and the old guy was on it, yelling at the cops to arrest him. "Arrest me, you dammed monkey!"

They did. Hard.

His friend got on his cell phone, claimed he was calling 911 to save his friend. Who knows. Cops took him too - hard. They grabbed him, told him to get off the phone (I think?) and he said hell no don't touch me. They tackled him and he fought back.

I talked to a couple of fellow loiterers. Everybody thought it was fucked up.

The old guy had had another friend occupying his tent. I went towards him, to ask him about the whole thing, and a cop stopped me. "Where you going" I told him I was going to read the sign and talk to the man. He said no you're not, get out of here. I turned away, and then asked if I could ask why. He said NO, you want to join them?

I left.

I wonder what will become of the pair? I did not know it was a crime to yell, or even to insult the police. The second guy - all he did was make a phone call, as far as I could tell. But they both gave each other what they wanted. The protesters wanted attention, the cops wanted resistance, they resisted, the cops got an arrest and a scrape elbow to prove they fought back, and the protesters got a bunch of people standing around taking pictures on their cell phone.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

So cool

I meant to share this sooner.  Super cool, cuz it's for real

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Thoughts, Questions

I don't know a whole lot about art.  But, I can remember defining it in a course once, as "a creative act of representation". 
  • how does this conflict (or not) with the idea of 'found art'
  • is 'found art' really art
  • if so, then how does definition get reconciled...since 'found art' doesn't (on its face...) seem creative or representative
  • (can you represent a thing with itself?)
  • (where does the creativity come from?)
  • maybe a thing loses its original identity or function when it is given a new function as art?  as such, it represents its former self, sort of like animals in a zoo
  • which brings up....the frame.  maybe the creativity is found in how the thing is framed

Also, something the director of Pan's Labyrinth said in the director's commentary.... about symbols.  He said, symbols have to be ambiguous, because otherwise, they become ciphers, and the movie becomes a formula.  This sort of touches, I think, on how people with no experience with art approach it....
  • commonly, people seek the meaning, the answer, the artist's message
  • artists are asked, "what do you mean by this?"  and they respond cryptically, or not at all, or ....
  • is it art, if it has a deliverable message?
  • because if there is a direct answer to "what is the meaning of this painting?", well, there's not really any mystery left is there.  it becomes a cipher, or a puzzle to be solved...
  • ...or not even that, perhaps it's a portrait.  it could be admired for its technical skill or the fineness of the representation.... is there more to it?*
  • does art hate objectivity?  (note to this)
  • whatever you want in a work of art.  look for function, look for answers, look for questions, look for asthetics.  look for yourself. 

How is the constraint of so much work being done via keyboard and mouse changing human thinking as a whole?  Is there more cognitive freedom in a blank sheet of paper and a pen(cil)?  What if we had invented a different way to record knowledge, how would that have changed us?

I watched Volver tonight and liked it.  I liked the way Raimunda gets approached at the restaurant and rejects the guy, and how he graciously accepts this.  I struggle to picture this in American film.  I also really liked the scene of 4 women heaving a refrigerator (with a dead body inside) into a truck.

* Yes:
"There are two ways to think about this existence we have. One of them is that it's Wednesday and it's three fifteen and we're talking here in my home, and at four o'clock I have to leave for another meeting. Now, that's a reality. But there's another reality. We're in the solar system of a second-rate star, three quarters of the way out on a spiral arm of an average galaxy in a thing called the Local Group. And ours is only one of billions of galaxies, each of which has billions of stars. Some star systems are binary, and there could be a planet that revolves around a center of gravity between two binary stars. So you'd have two sunrises and two sunsets every day. One could be a red giant, the other a white dwarf; two different-sized, -shaped, and -colored suns in the sky. And there might be other planets and comets. In other words, fuck Wednesday, fuck three fifteen, fuck four o'clock, fuck the United States, fuck the earth. It's all temporal bullshit. I like thinking about being out there and not thinking about the corporate structure, not worrying about freedom, and not worrying about guns. I chose a life of ideas. That entertains me. That nourishes me."  - George Carlin

Really, there's no need to self-incriminate. We already know...

And, you have a constitutional protection against being forced to bear witness against yourself.  If you go in for, you know, the constitution...

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Blog and wine

No wine glass only wine with which to toast the awesomeness of BitchPHD

Oh good. People do care about something..

Yes.  People are organizing to save their starbucks.

Meanwhile, God gave up.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Dammit. I don't think a word exists to describe this


The American leader, who has been condemned throughout his presidency for failing to tackle climate change, ended a private meeting with the words: "Goodbye from the world's biggest polluter."

He then punched the air while grinning widely, as the rest of those present including Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy looked on in shock.

(emphasis mine)

Seriously?  Seriously!????

Movie: Pan's Labyrinth


This movie left me stunned.

Also, at what age do we make that switch, after which we would no longer follow any random fairy who showed up to wherever they led us?

Part 1: Decision-level


Part 1: Decision-level objectivity

Part 2: As a basis for comparison or judgment

Part 3: God or whatever you take or don’t take as His equivalent


To take the idea of objectivity on its smallest (and most manageable?) scale, I’ll consider decision-making. Something humans are notoriously not so good at.

First, however, a disclaimer/clarification (and a nod to e!): it’s useless to seek The Answer, to expect a single, objective truth in your answer. There probably isn’t one, and it would take forever (literally…). Instead, what is important is to aim for objectivity in the process, which in turn will inject a measure of objectivity into an answer. Which, in turn demands a recognition of the interpersonal context of the decision or answer…come back to this.

There are innumerable examples of biased decision-making and the [potential] consequences. It would be good to avoid these traps.

There are two main dimensions by which to define objectivity. First, is the answer based on facts, or, did the answer come from “within” or “without”? An answer that was driven by an assertion can be said to come from within, while that based on facts comes from without. Second, completeness in the evaluation – that is, were all relevant facts considered? Because it’s no good being “fact-based” if you cherrypick the facts to fit your story. That’s called the confirmation bias in psychology – the tendency to ‘see what you want to see’.

I’m increasingly thankful to a certain teacher who spent time on what he called “BLINDSPOT” analysis. Yes, it’s an acronym. No, I’m not going to spend the space here explaining the whole thing. But it was a valuable discussion to have had. It was basically a repackaging of psychological biases and decision-making risks into a convenient framework of sorts. And paying attention to these things will go a long way towards ensuring objectivity and making for a better quality decision.

And…fail. There has to be more because having logic on your side just isn’t enough these days. The decisions that matter are rarely, so lots of conflicting opinions and different stakeholders are involved, which demands the effective communication of the answer. Decisions always happen in context.

Back to the idea of completeness, the answer arrived at, no matter how objectively found, has to be put in a larger context. In fact, it is one piece of three: there is the message, the speaker, and the listener(s).* The answer or decision is the message, and it is the only part of this that is, strictly speaking, logical. The other two relate to emotions, perceptions, and projected image. And so, the decision-taking process needs to be wrapped inside the process of communication in order to be complete. One has to have their answer, has to make their decision, and that shouldn’t change. The speaker shouldn’t change, save perhaps a little. But the listener will always be changing.

Oh, meta.

*h/t Aristotle

Monday, July 14, 2008

(Intro) On Objectivity; A Response


Part 1: Decision-level objectivity

Part 2: As a basis for comparison or judgment

Part 3: God or whatever you take or don’t take as His equivalent


A friend (e!) raised some questions on the idea of objectivity and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head since. Been doing some thinking…

Call it an amateur’s taxonomy if you want. But there has to be a basic, bounded understanding for this to work. So, let’s say there are three identifiable kinds of objectivity, though in reality they exist on a continuum (what else could it be), ranging from God to human. Does that work? I mean:

God/Ultimate objectivity ----- Values-clash ----- Decision-level

I hope to treat all three. Perhaps the latter two are most important, as they relate to Life as We Know It; however, the former could easily be the most fun AND the most significant thanks to its far-reaching nature. This last quickly becomes the question, ‘Does God exist’ (“God” or whatever your own particular flavor of ultimate objectivity you may or may not ascribe to). The middle relates to the idea of comparing cultures, and exists perhaps as a counter to cultural relativism. To a point, anyway. Can you compare cultures, make value judgments about others whose experience you do not know? The final point is that of making decisions in relations among people. Here, the question, ‘Is objectivity even possible?’ has no relevance. At this level, I’m talking about a decision-making process.

If the question is, “Is objectivity even possible”, I’ll refer to a previous post in which I find myself sincerely hoping that it is, taking objectivity to signify reason or logic, and this to be ultimately the only path to common understanding, progress, etc fun things. It seems pessimistic to preclude its potential. And, it seems to me that it would at least ‘be a good idea*’ and so I’ll quote a recent read: “Educated, eyes-open optimism pays; pessimism can offer only the empty consolation of being right.” Truly, whether or not objectivity is even possible isn’t an operational question for mere humans – but if we assume it and move positively forward, towards it, maybe we will find ourselves a little closer each time, and a little closer to common understanding as well. And this, I think, would be a good thing.

*h/t Ghandi

Saturday, July 12, 2008

On Fake Issues, or, More Accurately, LIES (damned ones at that)

I noticed a post titled "The pushback against Democrat's attempts to limit online speech continues,"* on Redstate, and it caught my interest.  Dammit, I thought, here we go again.

However, I read the post and noticed that none of the links pointed to actual sources - just more articles similar to the post itself, advocating a position, providing petitions.  Hmmm.  This hyperlink - 'keeping readers informed about this issue while keeping the heat on Congressional leaders - appears to suggest an explanation, but in fact only: (a) makes an absurd claim that is the supposed "logical" progression of the issue at hand, (b) lies about Capuano (the Democratic House Member) making a statement calling the internet a "necessary evil" (he links to this statement from Capuano, which actually refutes these absurd claims), (c) repeats a vague and inflated claim about the intentions of the Democrats.

So, I read Capuano's letter that is the source of this fake controversy, and his response.  (Both available on the same page via his official House website)
In a nutshell, he recommended a LOOSENING of the rules with some recommendations on how to handle this.  Reproduced in their entirety:
  • Official content posted on an external domain must be clearly identified as produced by a House office for official purposes, and meet existing content rules and regulations;
  • To the maximum extent possible, the official content should not be posted on a website or page where it may appear with commercial or political information or any other information not in compliance with the House's content guidelines.
  • Any link from a House website to an external site on which the Member video is hosted must contain an exit notice.
  • CHA, the Office of Web Assistance (OWA), or other designated House entity should maintain a list of external sites that meet whatever requirements are established by CHA.

It's sad that even actual elected officials (e.g. John Boehner, House Minority Leader) are on the bandwagon.  Don't they have ANYTHING BETTER TO DO???  Fuck. 

* Not linking because it's a terrible post and I don't want to push up its rankings.  It's on Redstate, google it if you want...

Friday, July 11, 2008

Dear My Sisters,

Skin cancer rates grow among younger women

Statistics show rate of dangerous melanoma up 50 percent since 1980

..."One possible explanation is increases among young women of recreational sun exposure or tanning bed use," Purdue said. "Both of these things have been identified as risk factors. It's possible increases in these two behaviors may be responsible."

Oh McCain. Still trying to woo those Hillary supporters?

Basically, McCain is asked about birth control (Carly Fiorina from his campaign had earlier said 'it is unfair that insurance companies cover viagra and not birth control')

He froze, and then double-froze when the reporter, added that he had voted against birth control coverage.

His response? "I certainly do not want to discuss that issue."

He ended the freeze-up by mumbling again about his voting record, admitting 'he hasn't thought about it', and saying he would get back to her (the reporter). His eventual response was a canned 'I support competition in the free market.'

h/t Bitch PhD