Saturday, February 28, 2015

IT'S EMERSON, LAKE, AND PALMER WEEK!

For me, anyway.  On Facebook.  So no Frank Zappa Friday and 70s Pop Monday on Saturday this weekend.  Instead, here are a couple of ELP posts.


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Friday, February 27, 2015

FRIDAY CAT BLOGGING

Sammy


Be sure to check out Modulator's Friday Ark for more cat blogging pics!

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Poll: 54 percent of Republicans believe Obama is a Muslim

From the Houston Chronicle:

Yes, a majority of conservatives still believe Obama is Muslim. A poll published by the Washington Post on Wednesday showed that 54 percent of Republicans think that “deep down” Obama devotes himself to Islam.

More here.

When I hear self-identified Christians saying horrible things, stuff which is CLEARLY counter to the teachings of Christ, you know, stuff like "I support torture," or "poor people are lazy and deserve to be poor," or statements revealing hate, not love, for an enemy, that sort of thing, I give them the benefit of the doubt. After all, as the Apostle Paul said, "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." So, you know, maybe these people are Christians lost in sin. Whatever. Who am I to say that someone's not a Christian if he says he's a Christian? That's between him and God, right?

But conservatives, who are presumably, for the most part, self-identifying Christians themselves, just can't let this crazy "Obama the Muslim" thing go. As if they can stare into his soul.

So it's pretty obvious that there's something bizarre going on with this. Obama has declared, rather endlessly, that he is a Christian. And that's enough. He's a Christian. But more than half of all Republicans, inexplicably, think he's a Muslim. I mean, without one lick of evidence that would make one think that's the case, half of all Republicans have just gone into total fantasy land with this. Okay, sure, they do that all the time, really, anyway, on global warming, taxation, economics, evolution, women's reproductive biology, and on and on. But this Obama thing is weirder than even all of that.

I personally think it's because they hate him. Because he's "liberal." Which is even weirder because he's actually moderate-right, far right, even, on some economic issues. Certainly not liberal. I'm liberal, and I can tell you Obama is a liberal only because the conservatives call him liberal. But that doesn't make it so. Nor does calling the President a Muslim make it so.

But conservatives just keep on trying. Really, folks, Republican mass delusion is getting more and more dangerous. These people have no business running the country. Running anything at all, for that matter.

How could anyone in his right mind call himself a conservative these days?

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Deeper Ties to Corporate Cash for Doubtful Climate Researcher

From the New York Times:

One of the names they invoke most often is Wei-Hock Soon, known as Willie, a scientist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who claims that variations in the sun’s energy can largely explain recent global warming. He has often appeared on conservative news programs, testified before Congress and in state capitals, and starred at conferences of people who deny the risks of global warming.

But newly released documents show the extent to which Dr. Soon’s work has been tied to funding he received from corporate interests.

He has accepted more than $1.2 million in money from the fossil-fuel industry over the last decade while failing to disclose that conflict of interest in most of his scientific papers. At least 11 papers he has published since 2008 omitted such a disclosure, and in at least eight of those cases, he appears to have violated ethical guidelines of the journals that published his work.


More here.

I've been saying for some years now that the controversy over global warming, the actual controversy, among actual climatologists, has been over for a very long time, and that the only remaining dissenters are on Big Oil's payroll. Of course, I'm absolutely right about that. And this guy's not even a climatologist.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

State Dept. Official: US Can't 'Kill Our Way Out Of This War' With Islamic State

From Talking Points Memo:

"But we cannot win this war by killing them. We cannot kill our way out of this war," she continued. "We need in the medium- and longer-term to go after the root causes that lead people to join these groups, whether it's lack of opportunity for jobs --"

Matthews stepped in to challenge Harf on that point.

"We're not going to be able to stop that in our lifetime, or 50 lifetimes," he said. "There's always gonna be poor people, there's always gonna be poor Muslims. As long as there are poor Muslims, the trumpet's blowing, they'll join. We can't stop that, can we?"

Harf responded that the U.S. government can work with terror-stricken countries to improve their systems of government and boost their economies to produce more job opportunities. 


More here.

Chris Matthews is among the biggest idiots on television, which is an accomplishment in itself, given the competition. But the woman he's attacking here has it more or less right, which gives me some hope because she works for the state department: until we deal with the living conditions that make terrorism seem like a damned fine idea, terrorism will be a permanent way of life for desperate populations in the Middle East, one that simply cannot be eradicated with ever increasing levels of violence.

Why is this so difficult for Americans to understand? 


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Monday, February 23, 2015

Malcolm X Remembered 50 Years After 1965 Assassination

From Democracy Now:

This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Malcolm X, one of the most influential political figures of the 20th century. He was shot dead as he spoke before a packed audience at the Audubon Ballroom in New York City on February 21, 1965. Malcolm X had just taken the stage when shots rang out riddling his body with bullets. He was 39 years old. Details of his assassination remain disputed to this day. We air highlights from his speeches, "By Any Means Necessary" and "The Ballot or the Bullet." We also speak with journalist Herb Boyd, who along with Malcolm X’s daughter, Ilyasah Shabazz, co-edited "The Diary of Malcolm X: El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz, 1964."


Watch, read, or listen to the rest here.

They say that it is impossible for a white person understand what it's like to be black in America, and I agree. One has to actually live life as a black person in order to fully appreciate the black experience, to "understand." But I also believe that the closest a white person can get is by reading The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Indeed, my reading it back in the late 90s was was one of the most revelatory moments of my entire life.

We should ALL get to know Malcolm X better. 

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Sunday, February 22, 2015

Bill O'Reilly Has His Own Brian Williams Problem

From Mother Jones:

After NBC News suspended anchor Brian Williams for erroneously claiming that he was nearly shot down in a helicopter while covering the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly went on a tear. On his television show, the top-rated cable news anchor declared that the American press isn't "half as responsible as the men who forged the nation." He bemoaned the supposed culture of deception within the liberal media, and he proclaimed that the Williams controversy should prompt questioning of other "distortions" by left-leaning outlets. Yet for years, O'Reilly has recounted dramatic stories about his own war reporting that don't withstand scrutiny—even claiming he acted heroically in a war zone that he apparently never set foot in.

More here.

You might have noticed that I've said almost nothing about the whole Brian Williams thing, and the reason why is that I already have mostly contempt for big time television news, well, virtually all television news.

For starters, television is an AWFUL vehicle to really get across the sophisticated and complex ideas that often comprise the news; instead, television naturally gravitates toward simple stuff, which usually means just simplifying things that aren't simple. That is, television plays to its own strengths, conflict, spectacle, emotion. And, to be fair, it does that really well. Television news is nothing these days if not entertaining. Lots of explosions and bikinis and sexual predators and frothing-at-the-mouth politicians and pundits and black people with guns. But that's not news. It's television.

So, okay, Brian Williams lied about being shot at in Iraq. What a scum bag. But really, that's what his entire profession does. They just have some rules they follow about how they make shit up, and Williams broke those rules, making him slightly more awful than his colleagues. Hardly worth mentioning, in my opinion.

But now it's started to get a bit more interesting. Turns out that the biggest butthole in all of television news, Bill O'Reilly, who recently used his Fox News show to lambaste Williams, now stands accused, fairly convincingly, of doing almost the exact same thing. NBC suspended Williams for six months without pay, and his career in "news" is probably over. What will happen to O'Reilly?

As one of my favorite bloggers, Digby over at Hullabaloo, observes, very likely NOTHING.

After all, Fox News' ENTIRE BUSINESS MODEL is about lying, I mean, waaaay more so than everybody else, and O'Reilly is at the top of the food chain there. He's the KING of lies. He lies so much that it's very likely that he believes his own lies, as Senator Al Franken once asserted. A bully who lives in his own brutal imagination which he pushes on the country. And it's not just Fox: the rest of the television news world continues to treat Rupert Murdoch's flagship operation as being somehow legitimate, which means that O'Reilly gets a corporate news media presumption of legitimacy, too. In spite of the fact that O'Reilly makes Williams look like the compulsively truth-telling George Washington in comparison.

So I'm looking forward to seeing how this plays out. It's probably just going to fade away like it never happened at all. O'Reilly's career is very likely safe. Almost certainly he will be allowed by everybody to continue to be the King of Lies. But you never know. Maybe this is the end. I'd LOVE to see it.

I mean, THAT would be some good television.


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Saturday, February 21, 2015

FRANK ZAPPA FRIDAY AND 70S POP MONDAY ON SATURDAY

Two of my facebook features exported to Real Art.



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Friday, February 20, 2015

FRIDAY CAT BLOGGING

Frankie


Be sure to check out Modulator's Friday Ark for more cat blogging pics!

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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Rudy Giuliani: President Obama doesn’t love America

From Politico:

Rudy Giuliani went straight for the jugular Wednesday night during a private group dinner here featuring Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker by openly questioning whether President Barack Obama “loves America.”


The former New York mayor, speaking in front of the 2016 Republican presidential contender and about 60 right-leaning business executives and conservative media types, directly challenged Obama’s patriotism, discussing what he called weak foreign policy decisions and questionable public remarks when confronting terrorists.

More here.

All these vague sort of "decorum" oriented right-wing attacks on, well, pretty much anybody they're attacking in this way, but particularly a president from the presumed "liberal" party, are always total bullshit. Saluting the flag "properly," honoring, say, veterans or soldiers in an "acceptable" way, saying the "right" prayer at the National Prayer Breakfast, being "un-presidential" during public service announcements, not being "patriotic" enough, and on and on ad nauseam, all these things are just mean-spirited asshole attacks without any meaning at all.

There are no rulebooks for how presidents or citizens are supposed to love America. No Constitutional citizenship or office requirements to speak or behave in particular ways at particular functions. It's all total bullshit, always, all the time.

Consequently, the only real response necessary when such attacks are made is this: that's bullshit; go to hell. No need to explain anything. No need to defend oneself. I mean, I'm tempted to say that one should just ignore this kind of crap, but conservatives have turned meaningless rhetorical attacks into something of a high art since Newt Gingrich taught his tribe to scream continually the rhetorical equivalent of "nanny nanny boo boo" at the top of their lungs, and the pathetic corporate news media appear to buy into it all, so I think the bullshit should be called out for the bullshit it is. Always.


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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Texas is not among the most Republican states as demographics shift

From the Houston Chronicle:

The 10 most Republican states all hold advantages over the Democratic Party by more than 10 percent. But Texas is not among these “solid Republican” states nor the “leaning Republican” states (states where the party gap is between 5 and 10 percent). Instead Texas is among the 18 competitive states, with Republicans holding a 3.9 percent advantage over Democrats.

That small percent still means a more than 1 million voter-advantage for Texas’ Republicans. Still, with the state’s changing demographics, analysts expect that gap to dwindle even further. However it could be at least a decade before Texas realistically has a shot of becoming a purple state.

More here.

See, this is what I've been thinking since I compared the 2008 numbers for Obama in Texas and Louisiana. The President lost both states, of course, but got some forty five percent in the Lone Star State versus only about thirty five in the state next door. Say what you want about Texas being conservative, but forty five percent is FAR from shabby, totally rebutting the notion that being a Texan also means being a right-winger.

So, okay, sure, the GOP runs everything here, but I just don't see it lasting. There's also this "demographic destiny" thing, the inevitable but slow rise of Hispanics here, meaning, as the article observes, that one day, perhaps in a decade, my home state will become a swing state! Really, I'm totally stoked about this, and it will probably keep me living until my late fifties, just so I can see us all emerge from our stifling cocoon.

I really can't wait. We will no longer have to lower our heads in shame. Actually, we don't even have to do that now. Non-conservatives here have some VERY respectable numbers right now.

God, I love Texas!


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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

KNOWLEDGE NOW HAS ENEMIES

ABC News is reporting that a quarter of all Americans believe that the sun revolves around the earth. Meanwhile, Talking Points Memo is reporting that an Oklahoma state House panel has voted to end AP history courses because, as far as I can tell, they just don't like students learning what actually happened, and greatly prefer teaching that America is the greatest country ever and we never did anything worth criticizing.

At face value, these two stories are only connected by the fact that they both deal with education in some way. But I don't know. I think there's more to it than that.

The typical response to stories like the one from ABC is to blame bad students, or, increasingly, to blame bad schools, or bad teachers protected by bad unions. For at least a decade now, and probably longer, however, we've been moving all the schools into this high stakes standardized testing stuff, which is, for my money, the educational equivalent of training dogs to jump through hoops, and not much more. That is, you can make a school look really good on paper when you create a numerical standard and then achieve that standard, but there's just no guarantee that filling in all the right bubbles with a number two pencil actually means students have gained some knowledge and mastery over a subject.

Actually, I'll go a step further and just straight up assert that gearing all of education toward passing multiple choice tests destroys education. It's no wonder a quarter of Americans don't know that the earth revolves around the sun. We've totally failed our children in this respect, and it has nothing to do with bad students, bad teachers, or bad schools. Instead, it has everything to do with corporatizing education.

Profits, not children.

That's bad enough, but put the test-freak movement together with extreme right-wing ideas about, say, evolution, global warming, US history, and so on, that is, "we should teach the reality we want, not reality itself," and we have now, starkly obvious for all to see, a multi-pronged all-out assault on the very concept of learning and knowledge itself.

Let's throw in the anti-vaxxers while we're at it, too. Also, the History Channel's ancient aliens shit.

All this bodes very ill for America. Democracy absolutely depends on an intelligent, critical, well informed population in order to succeed. That's tough enough to accomplish even when you don't have well funded and widespread social forces trying as hard as they can to keep it from happening. But knowledge now has enemies. Powerful enemies.

There will be a price to pay for this horrible folly.


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Monday, February 16, 2015

Lawmaker Opposes Education Funding Because It Would Go To ‘Blacks’ Who Get ‘Welfare Crazy Checks’

From Think Progress:

A Mississippi state lawmaker said he opposed putting more money into elementary schools because he came from a town where “all the blacks are getting food stamps and what I call ‘welfare crazy checks.’ They don’t work.”

In an interview with the Clarion-Ledger regarding education funding, state Rep. Gene Alday (R) stated his opposition to a push to increase funding to improve elementary school reading scores. Alday implied that increasing education funding for children in black families would be pointless.

More here.

The big story with this isn't the story itself.

Well, okay, it's a story definitely worth mentioning--an elected Republican official is spewing crazy racist crap. But the BIG story is that it's YET ANOTHER elected Republican official spewing crazy racist crap. How many of these do we need to get before people acknowledge that there's a problem?

I'm getting kind of tired of being told that these people are outliers, or "isolated incidents," or that they're "not representative" of the GOP. I mean, to some undeniable extent, these people are, in fact, representative of the GOP, in that they have been elected to be representatives in various legislative bodies around the country. But I'm supposed to keep on imagining that being elected to represent doesn't really mean that they represent any point of view but their own. It's starting to get confusing stringing all these bizarre and contradictory defenses and refutations together into a coherent idea.

If the Republican voters electing these people to office aren't racist, and don't endorse the racist views of these foot-in-mouth Republicans, how on earth are they elected to office in the first place? What kind of voters vote for people with whom they disagree?

No, I'm not calling Republicans racist, but this is getting pretty sinister and weird.


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Sunday, February 15, 2015

ECONOMISTS AREN'T REALLY MUCH SMARTER THAN YOU OR ME

"To analyze the world in this way requires, in effect, the redefinition of human experience into a special language. That language must have a vocabulary limited to those concepts that can be dealt with inside the model. To accept these restrictions is to be an economist. Any refusal to shed the larger perspective--a stubborn insistence on bringing a broader set of facts or a different range of theory to bear--identifies one as 'not an economist.' In this way, the economists need only talk to one another. Enclosed carefully in their monastery, they can speak their code, establish their status, rankings, and hierarchies, and persuade themselves and one another of their intellectual and professional merit.

A community and a line of argument constructed in such a manner are unlikely to be well prepared for an event like the Great Financial Crisis."

-James K. Galbraith, "The End of Normal," 2014 p64

"Economists using mathematical expressions to decorate arguments about the perfection of market systems may believe that their work is beautiful. Outsiders see instantly that it isn't. Quite apart from the messy problems and ugly realities of the economic world (capitalist or otherwise), no one with a sense of aesthetics would take the clumsy algebra of a typical professional economics article as a work of beauty. The main purpose of the math is not to clarify, or to charm, but to intimidate. And the tactic is effective. An idea that would come across as simpleminded in English can be made 'impressive looking' with a sufficient string of Greek symbols. A complaint about the argument can be deflected, most easily, on the ground the complainer must not understand the math."

-ibid, p67

This is not to say that the field of economics is without value. It, like the press, has GREAT value. The real problem, to regular people like you and me, is figuring out which economic theories, which economists, are intellectually honest and reasonable, and which aren't. This isn't an easy task, especially when considering that economists, like journalists, tend to think in packs, and may be both right and wrong in the same paragraph they've written--economists, also like journalists, tend to be employed by corporations and the very, very wealthy, which makes the tendency toward bias all the more acute.

The upside is that a whole lot of economics doesn't even come close to rocket science, and is penetrable by most people who are willing to do some reading. But you've got to do the reading.


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Saturday, February 14, 2015

FRANK ZAPPA FRIDAY AND 70S POP MONDAY ON SATURDAY

Two of my facebook features exported to Real Art.
 


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Friday, February 13, 2015

FRIDAY CAT BLOGGING

Winkie


Be sure to check out Modulator's Friday Ark for more cat blogging pics!

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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Abbott: Parents should be able to opt out of vaccine mandates

From the Houston Chronicle:

Weighing in on a national debate, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott made clear this week that he supports laws that include exemptions to requirements that parents vaccinate their children.

"Abbott recognizes the public health benefits of vaccines and encourages all parents to have their children vaccinated, as he and the First Lady did with their daughter," spokeswoman Amelia Chasse said, but the governor "supports current Texas law that he believes strikes the right balance of requiring vaccinations while still allowing parents to opt out under certain circumstances."

More here.

This is something of a misleading headline. It makes Abbott out to be a fringe kook. I mean, okay, Abbott may very well be a fringe kook, but when you dig into the article just a little bit, it turns out that he's simply endorsing Texas law that's already on the books.

Still, though. Given that the current cultural climate across the nation is such that the anti-vax movement may very well be having a detrimental effect on pubic health, I wonder how good an idea it is to keep this "personal objection" opt-out available. As the article observes, there has been a massive uptick, more than tenfold, in the number of parents taking the exemption over the last decade. You've just got to wonder what, exactly, all these "personal objections" are.

At any rate, I wouldn't be surprised to discover that Abbott is pandering to a potential Texas anti-vax constituency with this. Indeed, it strikes me as a clever move, if that's what he's doing, supporting the science, but sort of also endorsing a kind of "libertarian" and "freedom" oriented stance. I mean, Republicans are the KINGS of nudge-wink politics, so why not? Support vaccines and attack vaccines at the same time. Best of all worlds.

Really, it's pretty sleazy if that's the case.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Alabama Marriage Mess Shows Dangers Of Distorted 'Religious Liberty' Claims

From Right Wing Watch:

So what would America look like if we allowed such massive holes to be poked in laws that are supposed to protect everyone? What if lesbian and gay couples were legally treated as outsiders in their home communities, had fewer legal rights than anyone else in those communities, and had to travel anywhere from another neighborhood to another county to find a bakery willing to make a cake for them, a hotel willing to rent them a room for the night, or an employer willing to grant them spousal employment benefits? What if a woman's ability to find adequate healthcare depended on finding an employer and a pharmacist with compatible religious beliefs? What if people's basic rights varied depending on where they were, and upon the prevailing religious beliefs of people in the area? What would such a religiously balkanized nation look like?

It would look a lot like Alabama does today. And it would be ugly.


More here.

"And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." Romans 12:2 KJV

You know, all this resistance to gay marriage, especially when it's more and more starting to look like a done deal, strikes me as doing the absolute opposite of what the apostle Paul asserts in the verse above. Instead of avoiding conforming to the world, instead of transforming the mind, these people seek to transform the world so that their minds don't have to do anything at all but sit around being pleased that the filthy sodomites can't get married.

That is, it seems to me that the New Testament, being forged within the pagan Roman Empire as it was, makes a clear distinction between Christians and the prevalent secular social reality. They're just not the same thing, the Bible tells us, and Christians ought to focus on themselves as Christians, and on their relationship with God. At least, that's how I understand it. But the anti-equality crowd seemingly wants to make the prevalent secular society conform to their idea of how things would work if God was in charge.

Never mind the fact that, if you're a believer, God is already in charge. The point is that this is plain weird.

For that matter, from a Christian perspective, what's the ultimate goal for making civilization "Christian"? Does it lead people to become Christians? Does it save souls? Does it make people closer to God? Here is one thing of which I am certain: mandating Christian behavior doesn't make anybody a Christian; rather, it just creates a lot of lip service. And very likely a lot of resentment.

This is all very misguided.


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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

MY GOOD DEED TODAY

A canvasser for the Texas Campaign for the Environment just got me to write letters to a couple of state officials:

Dear Representative Jessica Farrar (I also sent this to Texas State Senator John Whitmire),

A canvasser for the Texas Campaign for the Environment recently made me aware of some issues with which you are dealing in the legislature which are important to me.

The big one is the disposal of toxic household products such as batteries.  My understanding is that there is great potential for leakage into surrounding areas from landfills.  Having lived in Austin during the Save Our Spring days, I have a keen awareness of how easy it is to contaminate water tables, but it's not simply water that is running a risk here.

I would very much like to see some legislation making disposal the responsibility of the manufacturers of toxic household products, rather than subsidizing these businesses with taxpayer funded cleanup after the fact.  It only seems reasonable and fair to do this; let businesses pay the full cost of their profit-seeking activities, without socializing the downside.

I am also concerned that there may be a movement afoot to override local ordinances about this issue, which establish a higher burden of responsibility for manufacturers, by replacing it with less restrictive state law.  That's got sleazy lobbying written all over it.

Related, but different, is the ability of state citizens to challenge nearby polluting businesses.  My understanding is that this might be in danger, too.

Thank you for listening to my concerns.

Your constituent

RR
Excelsior!

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Monday, February 09, 2015

The Likely Cause of Addiction Has Been Discovered and It Is Not What You Think

From AlterNet:

The street addict is like a rat in the first cage: isolated and alone, with only one source of solace to turn to. The medical patient is like a rat in the second cage: going home to a life where she is surrounded by the people she loves. The drug is the same, but the environment is different.

This gives us an insight that goes much deeper than the need to understand addicts. Professor Peter Cohen argues that human beings have a deep need to bond and form connections. If we can't connect with each other, we will connect with anything we can find—the whirr of a roulette wheel or the prick of a syringe. He says we should stop talking about 'addiction' altogether and instead call it 'bonding.' A heroin addict has bonded with heroin because she couldn't bond as fully with anything else.

So the opposite of addiction is not sobriety. It is human connection.

More here.

Unfortunately, American twenty first century capitalism is all about destroying social bonds, rather than creating and enhancing them. So I guess we continue to be screwed.  Besides, people are making big money dealing with addiction under the assumptions we have now.  Like that's going to ever change.

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Sunday, February 08, 2015

UNICORNS...IN THE BIBLE?!?

From AlterNet:

An article posted at Answers in Genesis – a creationist apologetics website dedicated to substantiating the infallible truths found in the Bible — an author cautions that dismissing the one-horned horse known as the unicorn as a mythical beast “is to demean God’s Word.”

Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell, citing several references in the Bible to the fantastical animal that is a favorite of children and fantasy fans, warns that the unicorn did indeed exist writing, “The Bible is clearly describing a real animal.”

More here.

I must admit that until I read this article, I didn't realize that unicorns are in the Bible.  Apparently they are, however, which means that if you think of yourself as a fundamentalist Christian who believes that the Bible is the literal word of God, then you must also necessarily believe in unicorns.

But guess what?  I'd be willing to wager a hundred bucks that the vast majority of self-described fundamentalists DON'T believe in unicorns.

And that presents a fascinating problem: fundamentalists really do not believe that the Bible is the literal word of God.  I mean, okay, maybe I'm wrong.  Maybe the vast majority of fundamentalists really do believe in unicorns.  But I don't think so.  Instead, it strikes me as highly likely that fundamentalists pick and choose what they think is factually correct in the Bible, just like everybody else, and only use the "literal word" shtick when they're pushing ideas that they like but others don't.  You know, "well, if God said it, then it MUST be true."  So death to homosexuals, and so on.

An important ramification of this observation is that fundamentalists pick and choose which parts of the Bible to believe based on preexisting but unexamined personal biases.  That is, if you think men are superior to women, you're going to find Biblical support for that, and too bad, suffragettes, God says it so it's true!  But unicorns?  Not even worth a mention.  Even though the Bible says they're real.


I guess it's not the crazy beliefs that bug me so much as the inconsistency and hypocrisy with how such "beliefs" are established.

Also, evolution and global warming.


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Saturday, February 07, 2015

FRANK ZAPPA FRIDAY AND 70S POP MONDAY ON SATURDAY

Two of my facebook features exported to Real Art.
 


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Friday, February 06, 2015

FRIDAY CAT BLOGGING

Stella and Sammy


Be sure to check out Modulator's Friday Ark for more cat blogging pics!

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Thursday, February 05, 2015

"THE MARKET" GETS US TO WASH OUR HANDS

Of course, that's bullshit, but some dumbass libertarian type actually tried to argue this with me on facebook after the post I made about the topic a couple of days ago.  Here's what I told her:

Susan, I have no doubt that all restaurants, in this hypothetical reality with no public health code, because health codes are "burdensome regulations," would definitely want to have the public perception that they are shining spotless clean. But there is a difference between public perception, needless to say, and reality, and businesses, as a matter of course, are always trying to shape public perception.

But here's the reality: restaurants are ALWAYS on the verge of being filthy pits. Just always. And lots of them, which LOOK clean, get nailed by public health inspectors on a fairly regular basis. That is, restaurants break the law routinely. There is absolutely no reason to believe that the "market" would do better than the law. I mean, when these restaurants get busted, they have to clean up or shut down. So you either comply or lose your business.

It is extraordinarily naive to think that the "market" would assure that employees wash their hands after going to the bathroom. This is a recipe for a hepatitis outbreak. You clearly have no idea what you're talking about.

I mean, this guy always had something to report.
'Nuff said.

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Wednesday, February 04, 2015

All That Jazz: People Who Listen To Jazz Are Smarter And More Creative

From Elite Daily:

Yet, with jazz music, there’s something about the lack of words (even though Miles Davis’ trumpet, Harmon mute and all, does all the speaking necessary), which has always enabled me to focus better on my studies – despite the “background noise.”

As it appears, science supports my impression of the improv-based music form. According to Dr. William Klemm, of Psychology Today, there are a multitude of different cognitive benefits that enrich your mind while listening to jazz music.

Click here for more.

This probably explains how, over the years, I feel like I've gotten smarter than I used to be. Okay, there's all the Chomsky, economics, and mass media criticism reading I've done since college, too. But it's hard to disagree with this guy's conclusion that listening to jazz sort of trains the brain for creativity and intelligence. Maybe the jazz made me more open to dissenting and alternative ideas, more able to follow lines of thinking that are unconventional. I don't know. But I do know that listening to jazz is a wildly different experience for me compared to listening to other kinds of music.

So here, have some jazz:


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Tuesday, February 03, 2015

GOP senator: Let restaurants ‘opt out’ of handwashing after toilet to ‘reduce regulatory burden’

From Raw Story:

Tillis said that at about that time, a Starbucks employee came out of one of the restrooms.

“Don’t you believe that this regulation that requires this gentlemen to wash his hands before he serves your food is important?” Tillis was asked by the person at his table. 

“I think it’s one I can illustrate the point,” Tillis told the women. “I said, I don’t have any problem with Starbucks if they choose to opt out of this policy as long as the post a sign that says ‘We don’t require our employees to wash their hands after leaving the restrooms.’ The market will take care of that.”

More here.

This guy's notion that restaurants would have to put up a sign saying that their employees don't wash their hands is sort of weirdly inconsistent with his overall idea. That is, such a sign is just another "onerous regulation." The way the real "free market" theorists would have it is that restaurants would advertise that they do, rather than don't, require employee hand washing. And that's how the "free market" really functions. In theory, anyway.

On the other hand, I would hate to have to file a lawsuit just because of false advertising about hand washing. I mean, I'd have to get typhoid or something just to have standing. And even then, conservatives would call my lawsuit "frivolous."

It's all Alice in Wonderland with these maroons.

At any rate, everything that's wrong with modern conservatism is right here. I mean, this says it all. This is why conservatism is totally f'd up. This philosophical point of view, and I'm using the word "philosophical" in an extremely ironic way, is why this country is going to hell in a hand basket. An unregulated hand basket.

Why anybody, anybody at all, takes conservatism seriously these days is absolutely beyond me. I wonder if all these people get brain parasites or something because they don't wash their hands after going to the bathroom.

I'm willing to entertain any theory about it now because it really has come to a point of incomprehensibility.


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Monday, February 02, 2015

"CHRISTIANPHOBIA"?

From Talking Points Memo:

Sunday, February 01, 2015

What It Was, Was Football

Pete and Bill are both cheaters and I have no respect for either of them. I don't care who wins. I just want to see a good game. Anyway, here you go:


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Saturday, January 31, 2015

FRANK ZAPPA FRIDAY AND 70S POP MONDAY ON SATURDAY

Two of my facebook features exported to Real Art.




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Friday, January 30, 2015

FRIDAY CAT BLOGGING

Frankie


Be sure to check out Modulator's Friday Ark for more cat blogging pics!

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