april tulips wallpaper, nobel prize winner gets some vindication over iraq

april tulips wallpaper

april tulips wallpaper

Many of the details of events that lead us into the disastrous invasion of Iraq are fading, like too many other important details tend to do. One of the things the Bush administration did was to get rid of the director of Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, José Bustani. Bustani got some justice when he won the Nobel Peace Prize, To Ousted Boss, Arms Watchdog Was Seen as an Obstacle in Iraq

But Mr. Bustani and some senior officials, both in Brazil and the United States, say Washington acted because it believed that the organization under Mr. Bustani threatened to become an obstacle to the administration’s plans to invade Iraq. As justification, Washington was claiming that Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi leader, possessed chemical weapons, but Mr. Bustani said his own experts had told him that those weapons were destroyed in the 1990s, after the Persian Gulf war.

“Everybody knew there weren’t any,” he said. “An inspection would make it obvious there were no weapons to destroy. This would completely nullify the decision to invade.”

…..Getting Mr. Bustani fired took some doing. Washington failed to obtain a no-confidence motion from the chemical weapons watchdog’s executive council. Then the United States, which was responsible for 22 percent of the agency’s budget at the time, threatened to cut off its financing and warned that several other countries, including Japan, would follow suit, diplomats have said.

Former UN ambassador John Bolton ( and unbelievably also mentioned to be a possible presidential candidate in 2016) said that Bustani did not make the chemical weapons argument until after the invasion. Which is ridiculous considering the timeline, Bustani was working on getting Iraq to join the OPCW since the late 90s and was getting more and more cooperation. Bolton was and still is a very good neocon, he believes in the doctrine of the Big Lie, repeated loud and often, he is a master of bull. He probably suffers from something like O.J. syndrome, he has been BSing for so long he has begun to believe the twisted narrative in his head.

Grand Bal poster for a Swiss film festival, March 23, 1929. They’re difficult to see, but the Cubist-style jazz musicians are an especially nice touch.

alien world with possiblity of life, secede and show us mortals how it is done

Electrotower, Coney Island. c.1903.

Electrotower, Coney Island. c.1903.

An alien world dripping with water? Scientists see possibility of life

Scientists have found the shredded remains of a large, water-rich asteroid raining down on the embers of a dead star, 170 light-years from Earth.

It is the first time that scientists have found a mix of rock and water in a solar system that is not our own. The discovery also suggests that hundreds of millions of years ago, this distant solar system could have been conducive to life as we know it.

“What we know is that this system had the main ingredients to build planets like the Earth,” said Boris Gänsicke of the University of Warwick in England, who coauthored a paper about the discovery.

Finding life, especially something advanced as say a plant, would be a starling discovery just in terms of pure science. Though it would also create, not some theological and philosophical problems, but even more than we already have. While Wikipedia is not the last word on every detail of a subject, they do a fair job of introducing one into the shear number of creation myths that exists, without taking extraterrestrial life into account. Just a sample: Creation from chaos: Sumerian creation myth,  Greek cosmogonical myth; Emergence myths: Hopi creation myth; Ex nihilo (out of nothing):  Islamic creation myth, Genesis creation myth (Christianity and Judaism); World Parent: Heliopolis creation myth, Hiranyagarbha creation myth; Central Asian: Mongolian creation myth.

For Every Fighter a Woman Worker

For Every Fighter a Woman Worker/ United War Work Campaign/ Care for Her through the YWCA. Designed by Adolph Treidler, 1918.

Pat Buchanan: Is Red State America Seceding?

In the last decade of the 20th century, as the Soviet Empire disintegrated, so, too, did that prison house of nations, the USSR.

Out of the decomposing carcass came Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Moldova, all in Europe; Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan in the Caucasus; and Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan in Central Asia.

The spirit of secession, the desire of peoples to sever ties to nations to which they have belonged for generations, sometimes for centuries, and to seek out their own kind, is a spreading phenomenon.

What are the forces pulling nations apart? Ethnicity, culture, history and language – but now also economics. And separatist and secessionist movements are cropping up here in the United States.

Conservatives have been flirting with secession as far back as i can remember – certainly during the Clinton administration and have read stuff from the 1950s by the old John Birch Society conservatives advocating secession. While some libertarians have also joined in, they generally stick with some nebulous ideas about creating some utopian state of their own. There are many decent, moderate minded Americans living in every state where these secessionist’s yearnings are loudest ( Texas, Arizona, Alaska and North Carolina come to mind) so I’m not in favor of punishing those moderate Americans with the spiteful cravings of a vocal minority. Though I do wonder about what seems to be holding up the secessionist and the utopian crowd. Where are the candidates  running on a secession platform. Why haven’t the conservatives and libertarians who have all the answers and are more perfect than the rest of us used their fortunes and skills to create a new nation. They’d finally be able to have some solid proof, a living example of how anything and everything should be done in their pure societies. Back in middle-school we had a saying, put up or shut-up.

mountain dawn wallpaper, government shut down produces hardship and paranoid rants

mountain dawn wallpaper

mountain dawn wallpaper

James Woods claims Hollywood is against him after anti-Obama tweets. Actor and vocal Republican says he won’t ‘work again’ after repeatedly criticizing the president over government shutdown. Woods is not particularly important in the total scheme of things. Another multi-millionaire conservative complaining about how hard life is as he lounges by the pool at his literal mansion. He tweets his opinions, free of facts or logic and tells the maid to bring him another martini. Besides blaming president Obama for the shut-down, he also blames the president for the consequences of the shut-down like the WW II vets  having some of their benefits delayed. I have no inside information as to why Hollywood has some of the most misinformed conservatives in the conservative movement. Woods was just in the Showtime series Ray with comrade in ignorance Jon Voight. Both of them insipid aging actors that, despite their paranoid rants, keep getting work from those mean Hollywood liberals. Though Woods gives us a chance to unpack some basic truths. Who is responsible for the government shut-down. Woods blames Democrats. The lame stream media says there is blame on both sides. The truth is that conservative Republicans are not only to blame, they are seeing the results of their plans, A Federal Budget Crisis Months in the Planning -

….a loose-knit coalition of conservative activists led by former Attorney General Edwin Meese III gathered in the capital to plot strategy. Their push to repeal Mr. Obama’s health care law was going nowhere, and they desperately needed a new plan.

Out of that session, held one morning in a location the members insist on keeping secret, came a little-noticed “blueprint to defunding Obamacare,” signed by Mr. Meese and leaders of more than three dozen conservative groups.

It articulated a take-no-prisoners legislative strategy that had long percolated in conservative circles: that Republicans could derail the health care overhaul if conservative lawmakers were willing to push fellow Republicans — including their cautious leaders — into cutting off financing for the entire federal government.

And of course lots of money from radical conservative groups was involved, The Money Behind the Shutdown Crisis. Some conservatives, backed into a corner on these facts, of which Woods and other true believers are blissfully ignorant or lack the integrity to admit, will say they had no choice. They say the deficit is out of control and a shut-down will force the president to stop his alleged free spending. The problem with that is the deficit has declined steadily under the Obama presidency. Here’s a fact: The deficit is falling. Mr. Woods further claimed, “I don’t expect to work again. I l think Barack Obama is a threat to the integrity and future of the Republic. My country first.” Here is someone using highly inflammatory hyperbole to make brazenly ignorant claims about who is responsible for the shut-down and yet also claims to care about his country.  How can one be a good citizen, try to shift the direction of the nation, yet not know the course or the reasons behind it. Is that patriotism, the blind alliance to a set of weird lies and baseless paranoia. Ultra nationalist throughout history have relied on the ignorance, greed and lack of reflection of people like Woods and Voight. Together they have caused untold misery and death. That is the perverse kind of patriotism Mark Twain was taking about when he defined a patriot as ” the person who can holler the loudest without knowing what he is hollering about.”

South Pasadena Recreation Center. Photographer, Doug White   (No date, probably late 1950s or early 1960s)

the philosophy of bull, burning down your house is not a reasonable demand

Man on Sidewalk in Front of Movie Poster

Man on Sidewalk in Front of Movie Poster, 1936. Walker Evans, photographer.

Bullshit, Politics, and the Democratic Power of Satire

Abstract:
In 2005, Harry Frankfurt wrote a monograph entitled On Bullshit and this work received a flurry of attention. At its core, Frankfurt argues that while lying is a misrepresentation of the truth, bullshit is a misrepresentation of the self, and an indifference to truth, which in his mind is worse than lying.

For all the attention it receives, outright lying is relatively rare in democratic politics. And when it does happen, politicians may pay heavy price. Bullshit, however, is all too common, produced not just by politicians, but pundits, and dare I say it, academics who study politics. And unlike lying, bullshitting is well rewarded.

The history of political thought presents us with possible parallels. In Gorgias, Plato warns us of the danger of rhetoric, and what he describes comes close, bullshit. On the other hand, he also argued that in certain respects lies could be noble. In a different context, George Orwell made important observations about the way abuse of language harms political discourse. The kind of abuses Orwell details fit nicely under the designation “bullshit”.

Plato and Orwell’s insights are especially relevant in democracy. Bullshit is more dangerous to democracy than lying. Unlike a lie, bullshit is destructive of even concern for the truth. Thus, in politics, it creates conditions where it is easier to present a lie as truth, and indifference to truth in public discourse renders public discourse impotent or worse. Even more destructively, it infects thinking. The corruption of language is bad enough, but even worse is the corruption of thinking. This is Plato’s insight into the problem with rhetoric, where the weaker argument can defeat the stronger.

Because of this, the exposure of bullshit is an important political duty. A most effective means for this is political humor, especially satire. Bullshit seems to be resistant to conventional modes of argumentation and dispute, but at its best, satire exposes the pretensions of the powerful.

The full paper is available as a PDF at the link. BS probably covers The Big Lie as well – Bush and the conservative echo chamber about WMD in Iraq and ties to al Qaeda. That Fannie May or Barney Frank caused the Wall Street collapse of 2007 would be another Big Lie and still part of the ongoing BS on some web sites. BS carries the same penalty as big lies. Once started the believer must continue in order to save face. To acknowledge a major falsehood requires both the moral courage to admit wrong and frequently the epiphany that one has invested a tremendous amount of ego, time and energy into something not morally defensible.

How conservatives think about compromise and the government shutdown

What conservatives want and how they think about compromise and the government shutdown.

yellow fall wheat wallpaper, the myths of free trade and growth

yellow fall wheat wallpaper

yellow fall wheat wallpaper

 

‘Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism’

Second, the way “infant” economies become “mature” economies is not via free trade. It never has been and never will be. Whether it be the mature economies of Britain (which began to seriously grow in the early 1600s), America (late 1700s), Japan (1800s), or Brazil (1900s), in every single case, worldwide, without exception, the economic strength and maturity of a nation came about as a result not of governments “standing aside” or “getting out of the way” but instead of direct government participation in and protection of the “infant” industries and economy.

The modern history of protectionist trade policies goes back to ancient Rome, stretches through the reigns of a series of King Henry’s in the UK, through Alexander Hamilton’s tenure as Secretary of the Treasury under George Washington, through the trade policies of Dwight D. Eisenhower and JFK, and continues today with China, Korea, the Middle East, and the rapidly-growing Brazilian economy.

[  ]…Once “strategic” and “important” industries are identified, government both encourages and protects their domestic growth in a variety of ways. These include subsidies, legal protections (like patent laws), import tariffs to protect against foreign competition, strong industry regulation to ensure quality, and development of infrastructure to ease manufacture, distribution, sales, and use of the product.

As Ha-Joon Chang points out in his brilliant book Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism,” in 1933 a clothing manufacturing company decided to branch out into the manufacture of automobiles. They had everything going against them – their nation had no really serious domestic auto industry, the company had no experience with the product, and other nations (particularly the US and Great Britain) were already making world-class vehicles that had captured most of the world’s markets.

But the company caught the imagination of its country’s leadership, and a ministry of trade decided to help it along. Government subsidies helped the company develop their first car. Decades of high import tariffs protected it from foreign competition as it grew into a serious contender. Domestic content laws both made sure the company used parts made within the country, and also guaranteed that domestic competitors would have to, thus building a strong base of domestic companies supportive of an auto industry, from tires to plastic components to precision machine tools and electronics.

In 1939 the country even kicked out both GM and Ford from sales within the country, and the nation’s single wholly-owned bank bailed out the struggling textile manufacturer as it moved relentlessly forward in the development of an automobile.

That company, originally known as The Toyoda Automatic Loom Company, is today known as Toyota, and manufactures the infamous Lexus that Tom Friedman mistakenly thought was successful because the world is “flat” and trade is “free.” In fact, the success of the Lexus (and the Prius and every other Toyota) is entirely traceable to massive government intervention in the markets by Japan over a fifty-year period that continues to this very day.

Like so many other words heard in everyday political speech, free trade has been a code word for some time. My neighbors think of it as this nice little system that means they can buy ham slightly cheaper at store X than at store Y. In reality it becomes the nice sounding grand old American tradition morphed into the right to ship jobs to Asia and hobble organized labor – though who object are Marxist radicals who do not want everyone to live up to their potential to be the next billionaire. Free markets is code for not allowing labor to have too much power because it takes away the freedom of rent-seekers to squeeze as much money as they can out of labor without paying them a living wage or simply taking the lion’s share of the profits created by someone else work, ideas, research or invention.

What’s That Smell?

Using advanced statistical techniques, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and Bates College have developed an approach to systematically describing smells.

This work may help guide future studies pertaining to how smells are represented in the brain. The research suggests that there are 10 basic categories of odor including fruity, minty, lemony—and sickening.

Senses such as hearing and vision can be discussed in terms that most people understand and that are tied to measurable physical phenomena. But the sense of smell, or olfaction, has thus far not lent itself to such a systematic understanding of what smells we perceive and how those perceptions relate to physical phenomena.

I’m amazed at how the brain, to an extraordinary degree, links smells with memory. Suede, which is probably partly a smell from the chemical tanning process, brings back very distinct sharp memories of someone I knew as a teenager. While some perfumes/colognes bring back other memories.

deflection from guilt is the rule, orwell plus huxley the new dystopia

Clochard and Posters, Paris. c1930. Gelatin silver print. Photographer André Kertész.

 NBC Sports Host Who Shot Elephant In Face Compares His Critics To Hitler. Makris: Elephant Hunting Critics Are Practicing “Animal Racism.” When people are caught doing something grossly immoral it is generally the case that they deflect. very seldom does someone caught doing something wrong, ironically, especially when there is a huge public outcry, to admit guilt and apologize. Politicians do so occasionally, but almost always with some hedging. Makris has jumped off the deep end with a bizarre counter attack. If he thinks that all animals should be killed in equal number that would mean we should kill as many elephants as we do cows ( about 300 million cattle, bison, sheep, hogs, goats, chickens, turkeys, and ducks in the U.S. every year). African elephants are all listed as threatened species and Indian elephants are critically endangered, so keeping the kill ration equal would mean the extinction of both populations of elephants within a year. He says the elephant fed people. Who exactly? Did a starving village ask him to go out and kill an elephant to fed them because they were unable to do so themselves. One also wonders how it is a fair comparison to say that those who object to the killing of an elephant are exactly the same as Hitler, a man and system of beliefs responsible for the mass murder of six million Jews. Plus a few million other civilians and military. So this Hitler would have taken a moment to see and hear a person kill an elephant and condemned him. Possible, but for obvious reasons, seems unlikely. If the elephant was killed to fed some starving Jews, communists, intellectuals or liberals – all of whom Hitler hated, that might be in the realm of believability. Is it possible that ten of thousands of people had moral objections to what Mr. Makris did because it was yet another cruel and completely unnecessary act in a world that is not suffering from a shortage of such acts. Makris and his supporters make the argument that since there is frequent killing in the world, what is one more. One could theoretically make the argument until the last one eyed man is standing.

Probably the 1946 issue.

N.S.A. Gathers Data on Social Connections of U.S. Citizens

Since 2010, the National Security Agency has been exploiting its huge collections of data to create sophisticated graphs of some Americans’ social connections that can identify their associates, their locations at certain times, their traveling companions and other personal information, according to newly disclosed documents and interviews with officials.

According to the I have Nothing to Hide So It is No Big Deal crowd on Twitter, this is just another big yawn. In George Orwell’s dytopian future the government uses various kinds of coercion and spying to keep everyone in line. While in Aldous Huxley’s dystopia the people are pacified with drugs and other form of pleasure inducement that make everyone either accepting or apathetic. It seems they were both right. The Nothing to Hides (NTHs) can watch cable, have a cold drink, order in some food, play with their smart-phone, all under the assumption by the government that they are suspects  – thus everything is fine.

* When people stop by to like a post I generally try to visit their blogs and leave a ‘like’ as well – both because i did like the post and as a kind of thanks. I have not had time to do that lately so I just wanted to thank all of you for stopping by.

new york wallpaper, brain tumor switch identified

Retro New York wallpaper

Retro New York wallpaper

 

Obamacare or The Affordable Care Act already seems like it is generally bending the cost curve of health care inflation. But one of the factors that will help is all that silly public funding for medical-science research to institutions like the UT Southwestern Medical Center, Researchers Identify a Switch Which Controls Growth of Most Aggressive Brain Tumor Cells

Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have identified a cellular switch that potentially can be turned off and on to slow down, and eventually inhibit the growth of the most commonly diagnosed and aggressive malignant brain tumor.

Findings of their investigation show that the protein RIP1 acts as a mediator of brain tumor cell survival, either protecting or destroying cells. Researchers believe that the protein, found in most glioblastomas, can be targeted to develop a drug treatment for these highly malignant brain tumors.

Some of UT Southwestern Medical Center’s funding came through the National Institutes of Health, NASA, and the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas.

PROFESSOR MAYER’S TOPOPHONE.

The aim of the topophone, which was invented and patented by Professor A. M. Mayer, last winter, is to enable the user to determine quickly and surely the exact direction and position of any source of sound. Our figure shows a portable style of the instrument; for use on ship-board it would probably form one of the fixtures of the pilot-house or the “bridge,” or both. In most cases arising in sailing through fogs, it would be enough for the captain or pilot to be sure of the exact direction of a fog horn, whistling buoy, or steam whistle; and for this a single aural observation suffices.

SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, NEW YORK, July 3, 1880.

Just One Senator Is Single-Handedly Preventing The First Gay Black Federal Judge From Being Confirmed. That senator is 2016 conservative presidential hopeful Marco Rubio (R-FL). To be fair, Marco may not understand what he’s doing, his maid still helps him tie his sneakers in the morning.