american field mouse wallpaper, lithium a simple metal and the oldest drug in psychiatry

mouse in grass

american field mouse wallpaper


The Metal Marvel That Has Mended Brains for 50 Years

Lithium is as puzzling as it is potent. It was the first drug used to treat mental illness, and more than 50 years later, it is still one of the most widely used psychiatric medications. But the doctors who prescribe lithium to their patients still do not know how it works or even why it works. “It is the most mysterious drug in psychiatry,” says De-Maw Chuang, a biologist at the National Institute of Mental Health. “It’s so small, but it is so powerful.”

Unlike other psychoactive chemicals—large, complex molecules like Prozac (fluoxetine) or Abilify (aripiprazole)—lithium is extremely simple. It is an element, the lightest of the metals, and its chemical properties are similar to those of the sodium in table salt. Nonetheless, researchers have recently found that lithium could be something close to a psychiatric wonder drug. It has two remarkable powers in the brains of mentally ill patients: protecting neurons from damage and death and alleviating existing damage by spurring new nerve cell growth. Far beyond its current application as a mood stabilizer, lithium could be helpful in treating or preventing Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, stroke, glaucoma, Lou Gehrig’s disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), and Huntington’s disease—an impressive tally that earned it the nickname “the aspirin of the brain” in the journal Nature.

By way of serendipity a psychiatrist named John F. J. Cade discovered the therapeutic effects of lithium in the 1940s. he experimented on himself before giving it to patients( I strongly advise against self diagnosis and self medicating). In his first round of experimenting on patients with psychiatric disorders all 10 improved.  As recently as 2004 some researchers at the Eve Topf and National Parkinson Foundation Centers of Excellence for Neurodegenerative Diseases Research in Haifa, Israel found lithium can prevent or partially mediate the cell death implicated in Parkinson’s disease – in mouse systems thus far. One of the reasons for avoiding self experimentation is the narrow window for what constitutes both a safe and effective dose. Too much lithium can cause side effects which range from lethargy to tremors to permanent kidney or thyroid damage. I’d rather be depressed than not have kidneys myself. large clinical studies that examine the wider sues and formulations of lithium at a snail’s pace because lithium per se is not a patentable drug. Thus drug companies have little incentive to finance such trials.

I’d stop there but experience tells me people will not click over to read the whole article. Concerned about psychosis, personality disorders, crime rates and suicides? Studies which have found high trace amounts of lithium in city drinking water show a correlation with lower rates of those pressing medical and social issues. A correlation does not prove effect but it does indicate reason for more study.

Short of reading a few books on the subject, one of the best articles I’ve ever read on the history of poverty in the U.S. – The Poorhouse: Aunt Winnie, Glenn Beck, And The Politics Of The New Deal

An employee of Associated Charities, a private organization dedicated to alleviating poverty in the District of Columbia, met an old black woman carrying a basket of cinders near the dump in Southeast D.C. on a bitterly cold day in December 1896.

The woman “could not give street and number, but could ‘fotch’ the agent to her place,” according to a case study labeled “Aunt Winnie” in one of the organization’s annual reports from near the turn of the century. “Old age, with a heavy load on top and a strong wind blowing, made the walk a trying one. At last the 8×10 cabin was reached. In it was a stove in many pieces held together with wire, a bedstead with rags for mattress and rags for covering. From the leaky roof the floor was wet through and through.”

Aunt Winnie, the report said, had no income save the 50 cents she made every two weeks for taking in wash.

[  ]…Aunt Winnie, whose story is preserved in the archives of the Historical Society of Washington, had been sent to an American institution that was by then some 300 years old and went by a variety of names: the county farm, the poor farm, the almshouse or, most often, simply the poorhouse. She would probably have been surprised to learn that more than a hundred years later, after the virtual eradication of elderly poverty, a powerful political movement would materialize with the mission of returning to the hands-off social policies that made the poorhouse the nation’s only refuge for the jobless, the aged, the infirm and the disabled.

[  ]…Democratic President Grover Cleveland is one such hero. When Beck and guest Joseph Lehman were discussing the proper roles of welfare and charity this summer, Lehman noted that one “extreme [position] is, you’ve got welfare only as a last resort and all assistance is private.”

It wasn’t too extreme for Beck. “And this is where we actually were a hundred years ago,” Beck said, rightly thinking — or not — of people in Aunt Winnie’s situation.

“We used to be here. In fact, Grover Cleveland has this excellent statement. In 1887, President Cleveland said, ‘Though the people may support their government, the government shall not support the people,'” Lehman responded.

“That’s great,” said Beck.

[   ]…The nearly 54 million people drawing Social Security benefits receive, on average, $1,073.80 per month, according to the Social Security Administration. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates the program keeps some 20 million people out of poverty, including 13 million elderly Americans.

[   ]…The GOP is after Medicare, too, proposing to turn it into a voucher system, where the elderly would be given a coupon to buy health insurance, but the value of the voucher would rise at a rate much slower than health care costs, eventually making health care unaffordable for the elderly, just as it was before the program was implemented. And the economic engine of the New Deal, the necessity of deficit spending to spur employment and growth, has quickly morphed from a near-universally accepted law of economics to a political toxin Washington has puked up.

The easiest leg of the New Deal for the GOP to kick out from under it was Aid to Families with Dependent Children — more commonly known as welfare. In a debate stained with racial prejudice, the nation was introduced to the “Welfare Queen,” a largely mythical mother living fat on the public dole and popping out children for the sole purpose of increasing the monthly stipend. Democrats gave up defending it and President Clinton signed it away in 1995.

[  ]….What is dangerous about Social Security is that it works. It is evidence that people can do a better job insuring against life’s cruel downturns by working together and pooling resources than by going it alone in the market.

The last paragraph ( the whole article is much longer than my generous snips) is not a matter of political triumphalism. It is just facing facts about how markets have never and will never be perfect. As such the people that can least afford it – as now – will always be the ones who pay the steepest price in terms of quality of life. It is also an element of something which has less to do with politics and a lot to do with public policy, the structure of a modern democratic republic and being an adult – facing the reality of the human condition.




black and white smooth city wallpaper, heavy meals and the “food coma”, the ever so lovely death panel myth

enhanced city photograph

black and white smooth city wallpaper


Something I have wondered about – Why do I get a slump in mental energy after eating a meal?

What is the link between eating a big meal and feeling sleepy? The process begins as food hits the stomach and small intestine. Eating stimulates activity in the parasympathetic nervous system, which tells your body to slow down and digest. The more food you consume, the more the parasympathetic nervous system revs up, causing your body to focus the bulk of its energy on digestion.

Although large quantities of any food can cause a food coma, common table sugar, or sucrose, found in desserts tends to be the main culprit. As food breaks down into glucose—the simplest form of sugar, which the body uses for fuel—you will experience a surge in blood sugar.

As the level of glucose increases, the insulin producing cells in your pancreas release the hormone insulin which converts the glucose to glycogen. That would all be will and good, but the insulin spike also causes the brain to release sleepy time neurotransmitters melatonin and serotonin. So after about an hour or so that whole cycle starts to wind down and you feel less drowsy. This is one of the reasons I started eating lighter meals years ago. My main motivation was dogs who took no excuses for their after dinner play time. Now I have a light lunch and dinner. One of the best things about a light dinner is I get to have a banana a couple of hours later……..on top of some Cherry Gracia ice cream when the budget allows, and not feel sleepy or bloated.

President Obama Announces Recess Appointments to Key Administration Posts. I wont’ bother with the apocalyptic reactions of the usual bed wetting reprobates. Dubya (pdf),

As of October 31, 2008, President Bush had made 171 recess appointments.
President William J. Clinton, in comparison, made a total of 139 recess appointments
during the course of his presidency.

President Obama has made 24 recess appointments thus far.

What’s Your Political News IQ? Take the Quiz – Pew Science Knowledge Quiz. Other than a couple of questions related to foreign countries and leadership is was relatively easy. Except for all the people who did poorly. It should have included some questions about spending and policy specifics , and the SCOTUS. Either you have, will have relatives on Social Security and Medicare. Thus already depend on those programs indirectly. Some day they might be your lifeline to surviving. Why no questions about such important programs in the survey is a mystery.


PewNews IQ score



The whole subculture urban legend type meme surrounding supposed “death panels” is probably a lot like the birthers phenomenon. It is a way for some people to convince themselves of what they believe is an illegitimate presidency. As such cultural myths serve such a primitive craving on the part of believers there is no stumping it out for good. It does cause some infliction on the believers to point out facts like this, Oh, Those Death Panels

You would think that if Republicans wanted to totally mischaracterize a health care provision and demagogue it like nobody’s business, they would at least pick something that the vast majority of them hadn’t already voted for just a few years earlier. Because that’s not just shameless, it’s stupid.

Yes, that’s right. Remember the 2003 Medicare prescription drug bill, the one that passed with the votes of 204 GOP House members and 42 GOP Senators? Anyone want to guess what it provided funding for? Did you say counseling for end-of-life issues and care? Ding ding ding!!

Let’s go to the bill text, shall we? “The covered services are: evaluating the beneficiary’s need for pain and symptom management, including the individual’s need for hospice care; counseling the beneficiary with respect to end-of-life issues and care options, and advising the beneficiary regarding advanced care planning.” The only difference between the 2003 provision and the infamous Section 1233 that threatens the very future and moral sanctity of the Republic is that the first applied only to terminally ill patients. Section 1233 would expand funding so that people could voluntarily receive counseling before they become terminally ill.

In an exchange on one blog a conservative was sure he had the final gotcha with the point that the Medicare part D provisions was only for the terminally ill… so there…imagine tongue sticking out. The logic, if one is generous enough to call it that, is end of life counseling is OK if you’re dying within the hour, but voluntarily telling your doctor about your feelings, should those circumstances arrive, a few years or months before is a goddammit death panel.

evergreens winter wallpaper, the intertubes get tighter, justice denied

Why Comcast/NBCU merger matters

As Morgan once said of railroads, “The American public seems to be unwilling to admit . . . that it has a choice between regulated legal agreements and unregulated extralegal agreements.  We should have cast away more than 50 years ago the impossible doctrine of protection of the public by railway competition.”  In the cable world, we are deep into unregulated extralegal agreements, and competition is not going to rescue us.

In 2011, as the telcos continue to sink, we’re going to need to confront this natural monopoly problem head-on.  How do we ensure a nationwide, affordable, better-than-all-the-competition high-speed Internet service that is characterized by BOTH high fixed costs and increasing returns to society?  How did we confront our need for electricity?

Well, that’s the question for later.  In the meantime, the FCC and the DOJ have to decide what to do with this merger.  What does Comcast get from the addition of NBCU programming?

* As a programmer, Comcast can raise the costs of both its infrastructure rivals (small cablecos) and potential online video competitors (eg, Netflix), making it even less likely that any of them will attempt to compete. And, of course, it can raise consumers’ cable bills.  This is all to the good for the other large cable distributors and programmers – they’re happy.
* Comcast will have a strong interest in making its extraordinarily popular NBCU cable channels (CNBC, USA) even more must-have – and so it will use its tiering/channeling/bundling power to avoid any competition from independent programmers riding over its distribution network
* By tying “free” access to its online TV Everywhere service (made newly powerful through the addition of NBCU content) to a cable subscription, and by charging a premium for “breaking the bundle” to allow consumers to have “naked” Internet access, Comcast will be able to make it very difficult for independent providers of online video (so-called OTT video) to survive – it won’t appear cost-effective to consumers to cut the cord, and they’ll think of online video as being “free”
* Comcast can squeeze satellite providers, who can only sell video, by making access to its broadband services very expensive (in addition to driving up the programming costs of the satellite companies).  No one wants just video these days.

For better or worse Crawford is a business and communications wonk. It does not  have to – this is a done deal so let’s say it did not have to be this way. Federal regulators at the Congressional and executive level could just say no. The FCC is actually supposed to insure there is competition and no so no one  holds a monopoly or a strangle hold on access to content. Sure Hollywood does that to some degree – tightly relating content distribution. Just imagine a not great situation getting worse. Imagine Comcast throttling down your individual pipes because you are mostly interested in reading the net or downloading the occasional song. You’ll pay into the pool that makes everything available, but be a second class internet user. Crawford may have missed an angle. Those on a budget might actually save the DSL providers like AT&T. They might have to download a movie rather than watch it in real-time, but that is just another inconvenience among many working class Americans have learned to  grin and adapt to. Corporate America also has extraordinary influence on shaping our culture. Not all of it bad, but imagine living in the non-stop commercial world in the movie version of The Minority Report. The Comcast -NBC deal is not quite that bad, but is another step closer toward having a captive audience. Shaping both tastes and priorities is a little more insidious than just selling you the latest new and improved deodorant. Those with kids can probably keenly appreciate what I mean. Adults are not immune to the gotta have that, be parta that mentality. Texting is all about having the latest information for many people – being part of the information-entertainment loop is a bigger part of some people’s lives than they are ready to admit or are too ready to admit. Kids clamoring for whatever they saw on TV is that desire not tempered by adult constraints like budgets and time.

evergreens winter landscape wallpaper


Why is Germany in better shape than us and some other European economies. The Right, for obvious political reasons( see tea stains) wants everyone to think it is because they tightened their belt and enacted a massive austerity program. Translation – Germany did not have a stimulus package likes ours. They did not have a housing bubble to deal with for one thing – you know where the U.S. economy lost three trillion dollars in wealth. Germany also has a kind of built-in plan to deal with the economic havoc recessions wreak on the working class – Aided by Safety Nets, Europe Resists Stimulus Push

Last month Frank Koppe gathered together all 50 of his employees at Koppe-Apparatebau for coffee, cake and the kind of bad news that has lately become all too familiar. He told them the small company’s business, designing and manufacturing custom equipment for industrial plants, had been sliced nearly in half.

But rather than resorting to layoffs, Mr. Koppe asked half his employees to come in every other week. The government would make up roughly two-thirds of their lost wages out of a fund filled in good times through payroll deductions and company contributions.

The program — known as “Kurzarbeit,” which translates as “short work” — and others like it lie at the heart of a heated debate that has erupted on the eve of next week’s Group of 20 meeting of industrialized and developing nations and the European Union, creating a rift between the Obama administration and European governments.

[  ]…The German Federal Labor Office projects that it will spend some $2.85 billion this year for more than a quarter of a million people who end up on Kurzarbeit. In comparison, the agency doled out around $270 million last year, as the financial crisis first began to bite, and roughly $135 million in both 2006 and 2007.

That is a relatively small amount of money compared with the $787 billion stimulus package passed by Congress, but the Kurzarbeit program’s defenders in the German government say it is carefully calibrated to keep people on the payrolls, where shared burdens mean an efficient deployment of resources.

In forum after forum the accusations of Marxism tied with to outrage over social safety net programs fly as fast and hard as lizard brained mouth breathers can type with their cap-locks. Where does this fetishist infatuation with suffering come from. Maybe that WASPish Calvinist love of suffering as penance for our sins. Life could not only be easier for the average American, but cost less in the long run. And it’s not like anyone is going to take whatever they earned or lucked into in this life with them when they take their final leave. Not to be a Obama apologist, but I think he and his staff realize this cultural obstentance. Thus they have tried to restore the status quo rather than make the large scale structural changes he is heatedly accused of doing.


rain drops on shop window wallpaper


There are a few ingredients which go into having a successful democracy and preserving individual liberty. Those who guessed the most important thing is free markets are only fractionally correct. Without justice, democratic republics and their free markets would soon spiral into chaos like sports without umpires and referees. Nearly One In Nine Federal Judgeships Are Now Vacant

The Senate adjourned earlier this week, even though it confirmed only half of the 38 judicial nominees awaiting a vote on the Senate floor. And the overwhelming majority of the blocked nominees cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee without a single negative vote.

This failure to confirm even many of the most uncontroversial nominees is the culmination of a concerted GOP strategy to delay as many of President Obama’s judges as much as possible, and it leaves Obama with fewer judges confirmed than any recent president:

The Senate’s failure to even hold a vote on these nominees leaves the federal judiciary with record vacancies — approximately one in nine federal judgeships are now vacant.

Notably, three of these vacancies are on just one court. Of the four active judgeships on the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois, three are presently vacant, leaving the court’s chief judge as its only active member. Two of President Obama’s nominees to this court, James Shadid and Sue Myerscough, were unanimously approved by the Judiciary Committee for this excessively overburdened court. Yet none of Obama’s nominees to the Central District of Illinois received a vote in the 111th Congress.

This failure to confirm anyone to this Illinois court may be the most reckless legacy of the right’s obstruction of Obama’s judges, but it isn’t even the most absurd. One of the president’s blocked nominees, District of Oregon nominee Marco Hernandez, was previously nominated for the exact same job by President George W. Bush. Somehow, now that he’s an Obama nominee, the GOP has suddenly decided to throw up roadblocks before his confirmation.

Republicans – in their latest gimmick and substanceless messaging are going to start citing the part of the Constitution which authorizes new legislation. You know, because every piece of legislation they have signed into law the last fifty years was unconstitutional. Better late than never. maybe a few will actually read the Constitution, the Federalist Papers and Supreme Court precedents starting with John Marshall. I am curious to see where or what they cite as the constitutional power to prevent judicial appointees from even coming to a democratic vote in the Senate.

air pump suitcase misty road wallpaper

air pump suitcase misty road wall

In 2007 ReadWriteWeb posted Is Blogging Dead?. In 2008 Wired wrote Twitter, Flickr, Facebook Make Blogs Look So 2004 and in 2006 Daniel Gross at Slate wrote Twilight of the Blogs. Are they over as a business? here we are in 2010, almost 2011 and Mashable writes an article called Everyone Uses E-mail, But Blogging Is On the Decline [STUDY]. Mashable seems to have read the stats of the Pew study though muddy glasses. Blogs are still not going anywhere. Blogs are a belly button and navel gazing has a long tradition in culture so there is no reason to be upset at periodically rising the question of when a form of communication – the short story, the land line dial phone, crush notes written in lipstick – have out lived their usefulness. It is probably also important to differentiate subtle shifts and the end of the line. Short fiction has changed between the wit of O. Henry and the metaphysical science fiction of Philip K.Dick. People generally move on to less pretentious writing medium than lipstick – though it does come in handy for lady spies and is less obvious than a shoe phone. Why Blogs (Still) Aren’t Dead…No Matter What You’ve Heard

Since that post was published last week, it has been re-blogged dozens of times (often with alarmist headlines about the demise of blogging: “victim of Facebook?”), emailed to us here at Regator several times by well-intentioned friends and users, and Tweeted hundreds of times. But we’re not at all worried. And you shouldn’t be either. Here’s why:
The Big Picture

Let’s start by looking at the full report at the original source—always a good place to start when the waters are murky. The Mashable article’s (current) headline states: “Everyone Uses E-mail, But Blogging Is On the Decline.” According the study Schroeder based the post on, this is false. As the handy-dandy chart below (from the same Pew study) shows, blogging is on the decline in Millennials (18-33) and G.I. Generation (74+) but on the increase in all other age groups with an overall increase from 11 percent of internet users in December 2008 to 14 percent in May 2010. In general, blogging is on the rise. One more time for those who are still freaking out: Blogging is not in decline. Put away your shovels and call off the funeral.

There used to be, and there still are, lots of blogs consisting of I just bought a new MAC, I just broke up with my boy/girl friend, celebrated my 5th wedding anniversary. Many of those people have moved over to FaceBook or Tweet instead of blog. I was tempted to say these people have moved to where they should be, but they should be at a social networking site or a text messaging app or back to blogging or back and forth between whatever works for them. It is the net. It is less free and open than it was a week ago, but people can still choose to go and do what they think works best for the way they want to communicate. Blogging is still a good tool and maybe the best to use for citizen journalism, for long form writing, for thinking out loud that requires more than 140 characters, publishing preliminary findings from researchers, displaying different kinds of art and photos, showing video with commentary and analysis, for extended family to have ongoing conversations and remembrances of their lives  and a host of other activities. Blogs are paradise for the amateur specialists. There are lots of people who do not have a string of letters after their names who have dedicated themselves to learning specialized areas of history, the environment, philosophy, pottery making and every other field of interests; FaceBook and Twitter are not well suited to handle that form of communication and documentation. I would not be surprised if FaceBook did not create a separate blogging platform eventually or include blog-like templates as an option in their current iteration. Blogs will continue to evolve. Bloggers will start and drop out. The same as 2004.

U.S. blog readers 2010 to 2014. Monthly readers and projections

Jimmy Carter has been called our best ex-president. I’m not sure that of all our presidents and their careers, and public service, after leaving office whether Carter is the best, but if it’s a contest he deserves great credit for trying – Jimmy Carter’s Fight Against Guinea Worm Approaches Victory

Makoy points out to the women the fingernail-length worm-like creatures whose tails flick back and forth. Then a pond-side health lesson begins on a spaghetti-like worm that has haunted humans for centuries.

This fight against the guinea worm is a battle former U.S. President Jimmy Carter has waged for more than two decades in some of the poorest countries on earth. It is a battle he’s almost won.

In the 1950s the 3-foot-long guinea worm ravaged the bodies of an estimated 50 million people, forcing victims through months of pain while the worm exited through a swollen blister on the leg, making it impossible for them to tend to cows or harvest crops. By 1986, the number dropped to 3.5 million. Last year only 3,190 cases were reported.

Today the worm is even closer to being wiped out. Fewer than 1,700 cases have been found this year in only four countries – Ethiopia, Ghana, Mali and Sudan, where more than 95 percent of the cases are. The worm’s near-eradication is thanks in large part to the efforts of Carter and his foundation.

The guinea worm page at Wikipedia. The pictures there are not as bad or gross as some I’ve seen.

black and white city 41st and 5th wallpaper, the suit turns about 150 years old

black and white city 41st and 5th wallpaper

The lounge suit, battledress of the world’s businessmen, is 150 years old—possibly

The suit still bears the marks of this turbulent past as well as the influence of Enlightenment thinking, sporting pursuits and a Regency dandy. In the year that may well mark the 150th anniversary of the suit it seems a shame that no celebrations were held in its honour.

The pattern was cut in the middle of the 17th century. To maintain an image of what is now called “austerity Britain” after a plague outbreak in 1665 and the Great Fire of London a year later, Charles II ordered his courtiers to dress in simple tunics, shirts and breeches. This was a profound reversal. Monarchs had long imposed sumptuary laws preventing hoi polloi from dressing too grandly. Forcing the elite to dress modestly suggested that power and place were no longer to be marked by yards of lace and frills.

suit and tie 1940s

It is another intriguing quark of history and culture the suit as we know it – spare, a minimalist length with modest lapels  – was at one point a statement of  reserve, egalitarianism even. A shoe maker, a cabinet minister and an engineer all wore the same basic garment to weddings and meetings. A tie is not a suit but they have been inextricably paired. If there are complaints about suits is it usually the tie which suffers the worse tongue lashing. The tie is an opportunity to indulge in exactly the opposite of the modern lounge suit’s  original intentions. While some men go for the somber most use it as a colorful expression of their individuality. A sartorial tip of the hat to the egalitarian man lost in a crowd of gray and navy. As with any piece of clothing which becomes a standard, the suit became a uniform. A symbol of the conformity of the individual to the standardized dictates of society. As The Economist notes during the 60s anyone wearing a suit was “A Suit” ( the first season of Madmen had an encounter between Don The Man and a village hipster). A walking emblem of lost individuality in a corporate technocratic world. Denim (and cotton twill “khakis” to some degree) became the every man’s choice of wear by the late 50s. The 60s simply sealed the deal when youth – genuinely in revolt – choose them as their uniform. Fast forward fifty years and denim jeans are part of the unwritten national dress code. An item of clothing is hardly a revolutionary statement when Sunday dinners have three generations of a family in Levis or expensive designer jeans made in Tokyo from denim made in France. This might be why the suit – sans tie – refuses to go away. Besides a well fitted suit being able to disguise the average frumpy body, it helps delineate work from leisure. For some people it may even define who they are at given parts of the day. Professional, businessman or professor a few hours ago I have donned my disguise as casual guy or as all-American weekend warrior. Which works in reverse too. So you thought I was old surfer contest t-shirt and jeans never grew up Peter Pan, but see how responsible and adult I am in my all-weather worsted wool just like Cary Grant wore in North by Northwest. Which also say something about modern dress and perceptions. Does the suit mean you’re stand-up citizen or is the suit a camouflage for what is really underneath.

Roger Thornhill: Now you listen to me, I’m an advertising man, not a red herring. I’ve got a job, a secretary, a mother, two ex-wives and several bartenders that depend upon me, and I don’t intend to disappoint them all by getting myself “slightly” killed. – North by Northwest (1959).

Sarah Palin Uses Info Gleaned From ‘Treasonous’ WikiLeaks To Pen Op-Ed On Dangers Of Iran

Sarah Palin sought to build her foreign policy credentials on Tuesday, with a new op-ed arguing that the Obama administration needs to “toughen up” on Iran based on information from leaked diplomatic cables that she had earlier denounced.

The former Alaska Governor writes in USA Today:

Iran continues to defy the international community in its drive to acquire nuclear weapons. Arab leaders in the region rightly fear a nuclear-armed Iran. We suspected this before, but now we know for sure because of leaked diplomatic cables. King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia “frequently exhorted the U.S. to attack Iran to put an end to its nuclear weapons program,” according to these communications. Officials from Jordan said the Iranian nuclear program should be stopped by any means necessary. Officials from the United Arab Emirates and Egypt saw Iran as evil, an “existential threat” and a sponsor of terrorism. If Iran isn’t stopped from obtaining nuclear weapons, it could trigger a regional nuclear arms race in which these countries would seek their own nuclear weapons to protect themselves.

The “leaked diplomatic cables” that Palin speaks of are, of course, dispatches released as part of WikiLeaks’ latest document dump, an action that she deemed “treasonous,” later asking why the group’s founder, Julian Assange, was not “pursued with the same urgency we pursue al Qaeda and Taliban leaders.”

There is another way to see this beyond the blatant hypocrisy. Saudi Arabia is primarily a Sunni Muslim state. Arab Muslims have had a rock relationship with Iranian (Persian) Shia Muslims for a few hundred years – thus the antagonism in the leaked memos and something Palin should already know if she is serious about being a foreign policy guru. It was a radicalized group of Sunni Muslims ( as compared to say the radicalized right-wing Christians who have carried out terrorism in the U.S.) who carried out the attacks of 9-11-01. Palin has shown some forgive and forget attitude in her willingness to follow the foreign policy recommendations of any Muslims. It just happens that once again Palin as is the Right’s tendency – has cherry picked one piece of information – to rationalize some morbid instincts. What with all the hypocrisy of using Wikileaks some may fail to notice her basic premise is not about Iran – a nation we could turn into a pile of glass in 20 minutes – it is about using Iran as a cudgel against the guy who cleaned her political clock in 2008.

city architecture wallpaper, disgust as a litmus test, secession is hilarious

architectural details typography graphic art

city architecture wallpaper . the text is by way of The Steam Shovel by Eunice Tietjens

In Defense of Disgust

But where did this emotion come from? Is it possible, then, that the emotion of disgust was a result of natural selection? Can revulsion be classified as an adaptive mechanism that prevents us from coming into contact with contaminants? Not likely, as anyone who has ever come in contact with a human baby can attest.

[  ]…In the seminal psychological research paper “Body, Psyche, and Culture: The Relationship Between Disgust and Morality”, Jonathan Haidt and his coauthors note that disgusting events remind us of our animal nature. Because we feel the need to hide these markers of our kinship to lower creatures, we develop humanizing rituals and practices.

If you wanted to convince yourself that you were not an animal, your body would confound you in certain domains: you would still eat, excrete, and have sex, and you would still bleed when your outer envelope was breached, or when you menstruated or gave birth. Every culture prescribes the proper human way to handle these biological functions, and people who violate these prescriptions are typically reviled or shunned.

As an example of this animal-reminder view, the researchers point out that the only bodily secretion not generally regarded as disgusting is the only one peculiar to humans: tears.

Some interesting thoughts to ponder, but ultimately I’m not sure what  Carter is getting at. That is not because I do not understand what he has written but because he ultimately muddies up the point. Disgust does have a some useful biological benefits and  some cultural ones. He fails to make an important distinction between biologically derived disgust and culturally derived – even though he cites examples of both types. People who have ‘weak” stomachs and find say, oysters disgusting, actually suffer from a kind of phobia and it is an inherited trait. Disgust at someone’s race on the other hand is a learned behavior. Logic based arguments which are pro segregation usually involve a lot of junk science and personal bias. So defining them as rational or logical is rather strained. Logic is like knowledge, it has advanced over the years. We’re more aware now of personal speech and self definition of language. Even though it may not seem like it. For example, three opposing political groups all may use the word freedom – a closer examination would show the term is loaded with group definitions. In some commentary in the comments Carter writes,

Take, for instance, the recent discussion about consensual incest. The old argument against incest was similar to the one the Klansman might make against misengenation—that it is harmful to the gene pool. But now that we’ve divorced sex from reproduction and made it completely about consent we have not reason to prohibit incest.

At first this bothered me because he seemed to somewhat marginalize consent as a argument. An important one and not the end of discussion as to why incest is wrong whether one finds it disgusting or not. On second thought I think he was simply being brief and to the point. Disgust is closely related in social context to deviance. One can make rational cases against individual kinds of deviance based on arguments about pain, consent, free will and normative consequences. On the other hand deviance and disgust can both have strong cultural roots. What gets confused and frequently where society uses their claimed disgust to persecute certain behaviors is whether the behavior is actually doing anyone any harm. For example some people find homosexuality disgusting. I cannot find any definitive answer as to whether that is a result of biology or culture or a combination of both. Regardless, being disgusted by some behaviors or foods  does not justify making one”s disgust into legal discrimination. Unless one can logically claim a specific behavior harms society. Homophobes have so called experts on the subject much in the way creationists say they have proof against evolution. The resort to experts – real or not – is to justify ranking one’s personal disgust as a culturally accepted label of deviance. Societies should be able to define deviance, but it should take into account genuine harm. Quoting from something a sheep herder wrote a couple thousand years ago is the exactly the end all of a logical argument. If Jane and Marie are consenting adults and doing things which makes me queasy that’s too bad for me, because I cannot prove they are causing tangible harm to an individual or society at large. It is only when disgust or what is perceived as disgusting is forced on the public sphere that we be required to put rational limits on it.

Carter’s strongest argument is based on approaching ethics and morality from a logical point of view. Where he seemed to come up short on his premise is the role of biology and genetics. One could leave the concept of disgust out of the equation. Thus placing the concerns addressed solely under the realm of the morality of consequences. Defrauding investors and consumers is rarely disgusting in the sense of physical revulsion, but the majority of people agree those things cause harm and deserve to be punished. Since his conclusions are e kind of blurry, maybe it was his intention to leave the reader to do some soul searching of their own.

fantasy wallaper new year

the stranger leaves a sack wallpaper

Glenn W. LaFantasie takes at look at the succession and nullification movement and mentions Texas v. White ( which I posted on previously) – How the South rationalizes secession, 150 years later, a campaign to deny that the South’s exodus from the union was a revolution is in full force

Yet if you think that all this secession bluster is only a symptom of some peculiar Texas Tea Party madness, you need only Google the word “secession” to find that the radical right believes, apparently in growing numbers, that the Constitution does not prohibit secession and that states can leave the federal union whenever they want. Worse, a Middlebury Institute/Zogby Poll taken in 2008 found that 22 percent of Americans believe that “any state or region has the right to peaceably secede and become an independent republic.” That’s an astounding statistic, one that means that nearly a quarter of Americans don’t know about the Civil War and its outcome. Sadly, it also means that for 1 out of every 4 Americans, the 620,000 of their countrymen who died during the Civil War gave their lives in vain.

If by defeating the Confederacy during the Civil War, the Union did not prove conclusively that secession could not be legally sustained, the point was made emphatically clear in the 1869 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Texas v. White.

There are two conservative responses to this article that portray the shallowness and dishonesty of the supporters of state succession. One is the secessionists are just trying to make a point about state’s rights, where’s your sense of humor. I guess since we have reached the point where Seinfeld can have jokes about Nazis it is possible we can joke about another bloody revolution and dissolving the United States of America ( a prospect that might well benefit more those on the moderate side of the spectrum rather than right-wing conservatives). The dishonesty takes many forms. The worse one is probably citing some screwball right-wing historians and agitators who have carefully composed revisionist histories of the issues that surrounded the Civil War – slavery was not that important to the South or the North?

hand made new year’s wallpaper, who’s lazy, lies about taxes

graphic art typography

hand made new year’s wallpaper.

happy new year wallpaper


Why the “lazy jobless” myth persists – We’re asked to believe that the 15 million jobless Americans are all George Costanzas. Some predictable responses from the right-wing trolls can be found in the comments. It is though they did not bother to read the article. Or as is frequently the case facts will not penetrate a knucklehead. Certainly some of those on unemployment are lazy. That is probably a statistical certainly in a group of people who numbers in the millions. Sense some are lazy all benefits must seize immediately. Too bad we cannot have a little more ideological consistency. If all lazy people deserve to be punished get ye corporate crones, AM radio wing-nut deadbeats, and assorted middle managers with a Napoleon complex to the public stocks immediately. It is the curse of humanity, human nature, to resent rewards for the undeserving. Unlike the old adage about watching your pennies and the dollars taking care of themselves – in the U.S. we might consider being less concerned with the pocket change that goes to the social safety net and more concerned with the shadow bankers, the environmental rapists, the social-Darwinist corporate twits who think they can play the outsourcing game forever and the fundamentalists bulldozers who fleece millions from those afraid of everything from death to atheists to Sponge Bob Square Pants.

Another thing we resent – which usually kicks in just after high school or college – is being pegged as one thing. As one-dimensional. Actors sometimes complain of being type cast. We’re all type casts to some extent. Faithful to Two Worlds: The Marines and the Artistic Life

He’s an artist on his way to his second war, and he wants to make one thing perfectly clear: He is not a Marine who paints, but a painter who fights.

[  ]…Colonel Richardson, who has been in the Marine Corps for 19 years, started college on an art scholarship, then switched to biology when he became frustrated trying to develop his artistic vision. After he graduated from Harding University in Arkansas in 1988, his mother encouraged him to paint again. He did and hasn’t stopped.

There is a slide how of his work at the link. Very structured for expressionist’s art and has a strong narrative feel.

blue door

The 9 Biggest Conservative Lies About Taxes and Public Spending. Speaking of trolls. They are almost reliable as smog in L.A. when an article about taxes goes on-line. Someone pretending to be small business owner will show up and talk about those darn liberals, taxes, uncertainty and understanding the tax code. A few times I have taken a moment to clarify some facts – facts a small business owner smarter than a slab of granite should know – and the trolls either suddenly disappear or they come back with a list of tired invectives. It is amazing how much calmly explaining the facts pisses them off.

9. Taxes on Top Earners Are Actually Taxes on ‘Small Businesses’

For years, Republicans have pushed the spin that most of the Bush cuts for the highest earners were going to “small business owners,” the proverbial lifeblood of Small Town U.S.A. Then Republican national committee chair Ed Gillespie launched the meme in a 2003 speech, saying that “80% of the tax relief for upper income filers goes to small businesses.”, the nonpartisan campaign watchdog, looked at the claim, which was cooked up by GOP staffers on the House Economic Committee, and concluded that “it’s untrue—and a classic example of a statistical distortion gone amok.” The lie is pretty simple: around 80 percent of the wealthiest Americans report some business income on their tax returns, either from private partnerships (think big law firms) or from “hobby” businesses. And the GOP committee counted everyone who reported even a dollar on Schedule C of their returns as a “small business owner.”

The reality? Less than 2 percent of tax returns reporting small-business income are filed by people in the top two income brackets. As a Washington Post analysis concluded, “If the objective is to help small businesses, continuing the Bush tax cuts on high-income taxpayers isn’t the way to go — it would miss more than 98 percent of small-business owners and would primarily help people who don’t make most of their money off those businesses.”

A moot point now that the “Obama” tax cuts have been signed into law – When Zombies Win.

Pay attention to Poppy and Nana – Emotional intelligence peaks as we enter our 60s, research suggests

Older people have a hard time keeping a lid on their feelings, especially when viewing heartbreaking or disgusting scenes in movies and reality shows, psychologists have found. But they’re better than their younger counterparts at seeing the positive side of a stressful situation and empathizing with the less fortunate, according to research from the University of California, Berkeley.