Saturday, February 4, 2012

Wastes of Time and Money

Remember not that long ago when the Feds when after Lance Armstrong everyone predicted that he was curtains? Like every other inquiry into Armstrong's alleged use of PED the Feds found nothing. What's especially puzzling here is the question of why these guys and gals thought they could find a smoking gun when an insurance  company seeking to avoid paying out couldn't.

Friday, February 3, 2012




No Way Out

According to David Brooks there is no way out of the current mess. He argues that
[e]ffective rebellion isn’t just expressing your personal feelings. It means replacing one set of authorities and institutions with a better set of authorities and institutions. Authorities and institutions don’t repress the passions of the heart, the way some young people now suppose. They give them focus and a means to turn passion into change.
So I ask when MLK and others worked on creating a new society in which the older institutions of white supremacy were overthrown in favor of a truly egalitarian and just society, where did they look for "authorities and institutions"? Christ's message was clearly King's finger post but the world he and his fellows sought to create wasn't reliant and indeed could not be reliant on any older set of institutions because all the older sets of institutions relied on some kind of hierarchy in which some subset of this or that civilization ruled while others were ruled and in which inequality was assumed to be natural.

In short, what Brooks here advocates for, as I read him he sees Marx and socialism as ruled out of court always already becuase -- you know -- Stalin, grasping some early erroneous system of hierarchy and privilege.

One of the reasons that I thought Graeber's book on debt was so intellectually stimulating was his refusal to make predictions or to impose on a chaotic moment some self-limiting solutions. What happens next is unknowable but our best hope is to try something new.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Life Means Life

Over to the Slacktavist there is a nice post on the wretchedness of the Susan Komen Foundation's decision to stop giving money to Planned Parenthood. Personally the stuff I've read over the past few days makes clear that it is a horrid organization working on a important cause. Were I someone who had at some point spent much time working with or for the Komen I would be contacting them and making clear that that participation is at an end.

Jill Lepore writes about the whole mess here.  She is, as I've mentioned before, a national treasure.

Reputation or Reality

The Reality is that a sociopathic robot Mitt  Romney is an over entitled twit who does in fact think that because he is rich he ought to run the world and who thinks that nobody else matters as much as other rich people. Almost all rich people think this way. Consider Sarkozy:
It’s incredible that Sarkozy, whose biggest battle in this election is to overcome his reputation as an arrogant, luxury-loving capitalist, would have sent a government jet to rescue Pierre.
Pierre is Sarkozy's son who was ill with food poisoning. What's incredible here is that Lauren Collins thinks taht Sarkozy's reputation is somehow or another inaccurate. like Bush the Lesser's reputation for being a tough guy.

The rich as a class do not care about the rest of us and worry only about manipulating the system, whatever it might be, to their own benefit.

Talking Back to The Man

From E. B. White.
12 April 1951

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
York Avenue and East 92nd Street
New York, 28, NY

Dear Sirs:

I have your letter, undated, saying that I am harboring an unlicensed dog in violation of the law. If by "harboring" you mean getting up two or three times every night to pull Minnie's blanket up over her, I am harboring a dog all right. The blanket keeps slipping off. I suppose you are wondering by now why I don't get her a sweater instead. That's a joke on you. She has a knitted sweater, but she doesn't like to wear it for sleeping; her legs are so short they work out of a sweater and her toenails get caught in the mesh, and this disturbs her rest. If Minnie doesn't get her rest, she feels it right away. I do myself, and of course with this night duty of mine, the way the blanket slips and all, I haven't had any real rest in years. Minnie is twelve.

In spite of what your inspector reported, she has a license. She is licensed in the State of Maine as an unspayed bitch, or what is more commonly called an "unspaded" bitch. She wears her metal license tag but I must say I don't particularly care for it, as it is in the shape of a hydrant, which seems to me a feeble gag, besides being pointless in the case of a female. It is hard to believe that any state in the Union would circulate a gag like that and make people pay money for it, but Maine is always thinking of something. Maine puts up roadside crosses along the highways to mark the spots where people have lost their lives in motor accidents, so the highways are beginning to take on the appearance of a cemetery, and motoring in Maine has become a solemn experience, when one thinks mostly about death. I was driving along a road near Kittery the other day thinking about death and all of a sudden I heard the spring peepers. That changed me right away and I suddenly thought about life. It was the nicest feeling.

You asked about Minnie's name, sex, breed, and phone number. She doesn't answer the phone. She is a dachshund and can't reach it, but she wouldn't answer it even if she could, as she has no interest in outside calls. I did have a dachshund once, a male, who was interested in the telephone, and who got a great many calls, but Fred was an exceptional dog (his name was Fred) and I can't think of anything offhand that he wasn't interested in. The telephone was only one of a thousand things. He loved life — that is, he loved life if by "life" you mean "trouble," and of course the phone is almost synonymous with trouble. Minnie loves life, too, but her idea of life is a warm bed, preferably with an electric pad, and a friend in bed with her, and plenty of shut-eye, night and days. She's almost twelve. I guess I've already mentioned that. I got her from Dr. Clarence Little in 1939. He was using dachshunds in his cancer-research experiments (that was before Winchell was running the thing) and he had a couple of extra puppies, so I wheedled Minnie out of him. She later had puppies by her own father, at Dr. Little's request. What do you think about that for a scandal? I know what Fred thought about it. He was some put out.

Sincerely yours,

E. B. White

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

I'm Voting

for Canada:


On Last Thing

on Romney's lineage according to an essay in the NYT, Romney's dad oversaw a Johnson era idea that he, Romney pere, thought was the bee's knees: mortgage backed securities. They failed spectacularly. This shouldn't have surprised any one. Building prosperity on the back of housing never worked.


I've lost track of where this picture came from but it suggests one of the larger problems confronting the  sociopathic robots and defenders of western civilization populating the ranks of the GOP's presidential hopefuls.

If It's Not Robots

it's genetically modified bugs that will bring about the final catastrophe. According to Der Spiegel, a private bioengineering firm has created genetically modified moths, which harm agriculture, and mosquestos, which carry dengue fever, and released them into the wild on their own say so.  The bugs, the scientists claim but for reasons of profit and patent decline to prove, give birth to larvae that die. Again according to this secretive band of world savers, the genetically modified bugs will mate with the regular bugs and thus will the reign of terror come to end. How, one wonders, could anything go wrong? It's not as if humanities use of science to improve its lot has a downside.

Oh How I Long for the Millionaire Hobo of Yesteryear

I was reading Whateveritisimagainstit this morning and  learned of James Eads How the "millionaire hobo." I assumed, foolishly, that the epithet was ironical. According to Wikipedia, he was in fact a millionaire. Or, more precisely, the son of a millionaire one who refused his wealth because, he said:
I have not earned it, it is not mine
Instead he spent his time trying to improve the lot of the poor and, as his name suggests, living like hobo even as he attempt improve their lot.  And odd man? Perhaps. However, he understood the difference between merit and luck; between unjust suffering and unjust opulence and he decided to work to overcome rather than benefit from the system that created both.

In contrast, robotic sociopath Mitt Romney has been given everything he has and yet claims that
I did not inherit what my wife and I have.
He goes yet even further and enlists, or tries to, Thomas Paine in his war on equality and justice. In the process he exposes his general ignorance of history, which is nice. Finally, he says, in a burst of honesty, that he is not
concerned with the very poor. We have a safety net there.
I mean really, he likes to fire people, he isn't worried about the poor. Next he will actually kidnap some young woman and tie her to the railroad tracks.

Let's hope that Newt Gingrich stays in the election and the two horrid little men continue to expose their horridness, their littleness, and their aversion to the truth for a few more months. Ideally this will ensure the Obama's election and we can have four more years of disappointment that don't include recreating all of the 19th century.

Question of the Day

Wasn't this a movie? 
Some were even thinking of passing up Spain’s huge Christmas lottery, known as El Gordo — the fat one — which is something of a national obsession. But they bought tickets out of loyalty to the homemakers’ association here, which makes a small percentage on the sales.
And then, their number came in.
All but one household in Sodeto held at least a piece of a winning ticket in the lottery’s huge first prize, $950 million, the biggest ever.
And if it wasn't how long until it is?

End College Sports Now

When the John Chadima booze-to-minors and sexual-assault-while-losing-the-Rose-Bowl scandal broke out there really wasn't much to say. Once again a Football program had harbored a sexual predator and when the miscreant was caught covered for him. However, now that local sports writer Andy Baggot and Alvarez parrot Tom Mulhern have argued that the Athletic Department's abhorrent and illegal behavior was honorable and courageous, it is more than a reasonable person can stand.

The facts of the matter are that Chadima has for years held booze-drenched parties for underage students without any punishment. It is also that the case that providing underage men and women with alcohol is a crime. It is also the case that Chadima sexually assaulted a student. Sexual assault is a crime. Yet when officials in the Athletic Department heard credible accusations of Chadima's engaging in sexual assault and  providing alcohol to minors they did not phone the police. Indeed, even after Chadima had at least tacitly admitted guilt by resigning the UW as a whole refused to publicize his criminal and cretinous behavior.

The AD protected a man who, more likely than not given that defeated in one sexual assault he immediately attempted another, has engaged in multiple sexual assaults on students under his care and supervision. The Chadima situation is identical to the Paternal situation. The individuals to whom the student reported the sexual assault ought to have immediately called the police and let Chadima deal with the full ramifications of his actions. Protecting a criminal is, last I checked, a crime.

How any responsible adult looking at this disaster coming as it does on the heels of similar disaster and not insist that everyone involved resign is beyond me. The time has come to end college athletics as currently constituted or admit the enterprise's whole purpose is the financial enrichment of handful of coaches and ADs as a means of providing Saturday afternoon content for multi-billion dollar corporations.

Simpler and Kinder

it was when men wore tweed and strapped wheels to their legs:

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

On a Lighter Note

I sort of remember listening to Jacques Brel in my early days. What strikes me now is the extent to which this haggard son of a cardboard manufacturer is the least likely Belgian/Flemish/Dutch international superstar. Here on drunken Fishermen bringing out their Dutchmen.

And on the life cycle of Bohemianism


When Newt Gingrich said that he was
 little bit tired of being lectured about respecting every … religion on the planet, I would like him to respect our religion.
I thought it was the usual Obama hates Christianity. However as
a campaign spokesman confirmed Gingrich was referring to Romney.
Who'd a thought the maniac would go all in on the Mormons aren't real Christians. The Republicans are going to have a hard time getting the evangelicals back on board if they select Romney.

See also Gingrich's supporters proving that Romney is a Medicare fraud enabler:


Here is a nice post on the futility of finding work. I take isssue, however, with the 4 workers for each job stat. I just applied for a job that wold normally be the province of high school students, there are, according to the email telling me I have the minimum requirements for the job, 135 equally qualified candidates moving forward to the next step in the hiring process.

When an Idiot Endorses a Racist

you get David Brooks' column on Charles Murray. Murray's racist nonsense on i.q. has long since been debunked and his general ignorance detfly exposed and the place of his argument in the history of racist clap trap made clear. Today Brooks, one assumes  inadvertently, exposes his own racist assumptions about the world. He suggests that when it comes to the issue of "behavioral differences" between rich and poor people is where
Murray is at his best, and he’s mostly using data on white Americans, so the effects of race and other complicating factors don’t come into play.
The horrid little man thinks that 1) white isn't a race or its a "normal" race or the racial effects of being white are good or that blacks are so fundamentally different that we can't discuss similarly situated whites and blacks, 2) racial determinates trump all else or genetics is destiny, and 3) Murry ought to be taken seriously.[1]

Brooks makes sure to mention that the vast and growing inequality of income and wealth aren't the main drivers of unequal and unjust outcomes but rather it is the failure of the poors to act bourgeois. This retrograde neoconservative bladerdash finds its roots in the intellectually bankrupt tradition of Gertrude Himmelfarb and the nonsense of Diedre McCloskey. This notion that the poors are poor because they want moral virtue is an old lie perpetuated by the haves to give a gloss to their power. In Victorian England, for example, the poors were notorious for their failure to marry and general promiscuity, sound familiar? Well it wasn't true then and it isn't true now. You can read all about the old lies here.

Just like Murray's desperate and doomed attempt to reanimate the corpse of "scientific racism," Brooks' attempt to insist that the our unjust and unequal society hinges on the moral turpitude of the poors is more bullshit and squid ink designed to keep meaningful change at bay. Brooks, in one short column, has managed to conflate racist nonsense with historical fantasies to create a festering stew of ignorance that, as his policy proposal suggests, offers nothing other than more of the same misery to the many attended bycontinued opulence for the few.

What a wretched little man.

[1] If you want to object that Brooks really means that America's fundamental racism makes  it impossible to treat blacks and whites alike in a sociological study, I say 1) bullshit and 2) then he ought to have the "courage" to say so.

Non-Romney Sociopathic Robots

Right now much of Eastern and Central Europe are caught in frigid cold that has led to dozens of deaths. Seeing an opportunity the advertising firm for Mini German paid 199 euros to have the
weather system. . . dubbed Cooper, named after the Mini Cooper, a car made by Mini Deutschland..
Presumably under the impression that all publicity is good publicity the "mad men" decided that death ought be no barrier to brand recognition. Outside of a a coterie of sociopathic robots, who would think this is a good idea?

There are moments when events convince me, at least briefly, that I am living in a Hans Fallada novel.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Muppets as Reverse Newt Gingrich

In South Carolina Newt Gingrich made like a cordoroy pillow, i.e., created headlines, when he attacked a moderator for asking obvious questions that torpedoed Gingriches sanctimonious preaching to the less fortunate concerning their immorality and etc. Because King is a buffalohead, he accepted the chastisement and begged the lordly fathead Gingrich for pardon. Here is how public figures need to deal with the demented bullies of Fox News and the robotic sociopaths of the right:

In this case, of course, the scorn and laughter are earned.