the collaborative inertia problem, farm sunrise wallpaper, deficit vultures

Cognitive Surplus by Clay Shirky

With this many people involved, the collective leverage that can be brought to bear on any particular project or problem is colossal. Whether it’s “couch surfers” pooling resources to create an international network of sofas for each other to sleep on, or the open-source community of programmers that maintains Apache, a free program that now drives more than 60% of the servers constituting the internet itself, the world’s collective cognitive surplus is already being put to transforming uses. And the fun, Shirky says, is only just beginning.

There are those who have proved either allergic or immune to Shirky’s particular brand of optimism, arguing that the power of social media is extremely limited in the face of many intractable real-world problems, and can even exacerbate them, both by making it easier to track activists and by displacing energies that might have been better expended elsewhere. To accuse Shirky of preaching a panacea, though, is to misunderstand the simplest fact about the emerging technological and social landscape he describes: that it represents not so much a replacement of existing systems as a restoration of many far older and more intimate kinds of human relations.

Wikipedia is cited as an example of what can be accomplished with world-wide collaborative efforts. Despite its short comings Wikipedia is a fair place to start on a subject – though if they would keep their links to sources up to date and make sure the ones they have work, that would be nice. I want to be a believer and the best of net initiated collaborative activity may yet live up to Shirky’s optimism. The first thing that spring to mind as I read this article was Facebook. It just surpassed 500 million users. There are lots of groups over there for every cause you can think of. It is one infamous Alaska politician’s major connection to the world. The Mount Sinai of her digital commandments. On the other hand it does have the Environmental Defense Fund. A great group that we can thank for having drinking water far less polluted than it would be without them. Out of 500 million people EDF has 2,600 members. The American Civil Liberties Union, dedicated to defending the U.S. Bill of Rights, has a whopping 36,500 members. The adult population of the U.S. is a little over 200 million ( total about 320 million) and we have millions of internet users of which a mere 36,500 care about defending the BOR. More people will watch the worse rated day time soap today than have even read the BOR. Maybe we could run it across the bottom of the screen during Grey’s Anatomy. People will think or leisurely ponder issues, but their enthusiasm ebbs and flows. The net still cannot make people into activists.

farm sunrise wallpaper

Beavis said to Butthead, if you put the land in the hands of the private sector they will intuitively know it is in their best interests to be good caretakers of that land, Libertarian Rand Paul: Controversial Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining Isn’t So Bad — It Enhances The Land! I’m sorry to see that Randy, like his dad, seems to suffer from some rainman syndrome. Mountaintop removal is only a few degrees better than dropping a nuke on one.

Beware of the Cowardly Deficit Vulture It Nests with Corporations, Squawking for Tax Breaks, Bailouts and Military Contracts that Have Little to do with National Security

A mature hawk knows that budget politics are complicated and that borrowing is the path of least resistance for both major political parties. It understands the pressure that politicians face from powerful constituents that want both tax cuts and preferential spending.

That’s why a mature deficit hawk would reconsider the prudence of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for households with incomes over $250,000, which are due to expire at the end of this year. Retaining the tax cut would add $826 billion to the national debt over the next decade.

But the deficit vulture takes flight when faced with the possibility of reversing reckless tax cuts for multi-national corporations and the very wealthy. Instead, it appears bold about cutting retirement benefits for future generations.

Seasoned hawks also demonstrate support for two proposals that would generate over $200 billion per year and strengthen the U.S. economy: closing overseas tax havens and instituting a financial speculation tax. This is wisdom we should follow.

U.S. multinational banks and corporations use overseas tax havens to reduce or avoid taxes, adding billions to the deficit and creating phony subsidiaries in places like the Grand Cayman Islands. They compete unfairly against responsible domestic businesses that pay taxes. Such tax-dodging costs responsible American taxpayers an estimated $43 billion to $123 billion a year.

A financial speculation tax is a modest levy on financial transactions, such as the purchase and sale of stocks, bonds, derivatives, and swaps. One proposal would collect a penny on every four dollars of financial transactions, generating an estimated $177 billion a year. Hawks in England and Taiwan have secured such taxes on securities that encourage productive investment and discourage the kind of reckless trading that crashed our economy.

To continue the tortured analogies let’s say the Bush tax cuts – which cons said would pay for themselves – were a magic alchemists mix of economic goodness which would taste yummy in 8 years. The cake seems to have matured into a putrid mess. Cons and libertarians, faithful to the point of having knee burns, swear now is not the time to look for new recipes, the old cake is fine. Rotten cake does seem to taste fine to the wealthy, not so much for everyone else.

More here.

“(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To” by Weezer.

Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable set of The Misfits. The Misfits(1961) was the last film either of them made. Monroe had done some filming of “Something’s Got to Give”, but died before that film was completed. The Misfits was written by the great American playwright Artur Miller and directed by John Houston. It also starred the legendary Eli Wallach who was recently in The Ghost Writer (2010) with Ewan McGregor. Wallach plays the old man who lives at a beach house near where the body was found and supplies Ewan’s character with a clue that aids with his suspicions about the death of the former ghost writer.


mad existentialism, stella’s neighbors, bulletproof patriot

There were preview Mad Men articles like  Season 4 Preview: What Will the Show Do With Betty Draper? and instant reviews – “Mad Men” recap: Who is Don Draper?

“My job is to write ads, not go around talking about who I am,” Don tells them, but he might as well be voicing the concerns of a whole generation of professionals encouraged to prattle endlessly about their value to Twitter followers, industry magazine writers and Facebook friends alike. At a point when self-branding has replaced psychotherapy as the cure to every malady under the sun, whether fiscal or identity-related, Don’s sudden unsteadiness couldn’t be more timely.

Don’s stubborn refusal to sell himself like another product is one of his few admirable qualities. That quality is an odd companion to his general arrogance. The later would fit in fine with the make sure you fellow my every utterance on Twitter crowd. Though Don’s tweets would probably be about a new product or client that had signed with the firm not about building a cult of personality. With so many Mad Men commentators and many of very good it’s kinda hard to find an angle that someone else has not already mined. Of all places the WSJ let’s an existentialist take a stab at Roger Sterling (John Slattery) – ‘Mad Men’ Gets Deep: ‘The Existential Void of Roger Sterling’John Slattery as Kierkegaardian hedonist, Roger Sterling.

The existential philosopher Søren Kierkegaard (1813 –1855) sketched three stages of life, processes by which we make choices, act, and define ourselves. Kierkegaard’s first stage, the aesthetic stage, fits Roger Sterling more crisply than one of his own custom-tailored three-piece suits.

The person in the aesthetic stage basks in the immediacy of the moment. The pursuit of sensations and feelings rooted in particular pleasures defines this stage of life. Detached from firm commitment to the extent possible and governed by sense, impulse, and emotion, Kierkegaard’s aesthetic person recognizes no fixed, universal moral standards. Instead, aesthetic persons strive for the absence of all limits, except those imposed by their own tastes. Boredom is taken to be the worst evil. Immersing themselves in pleasure, whether sensual or intellectual, aesthetic people live overwhelmingly for the moment, in search of yet another self-gratifying experience.

Yea, but Roger was married for over twenty years and has very deep feelings for his daughter. Mr. Belliotti gets to that. It was a long interval which was frequently punctuated by affairs during which Roger never made a real internal commitment. Marriage was something that a young man of his wealth and social status did. His wife, along with the other accoutrements and furnishings that one  acquires in living the life which gives all the proper appearances. Which doesn’t mean that Roger was completely cold and calculating, only easily bored. The word neurotic is said not to be a legitimate clinical term any more, but behind the high philosophy of aestheticism Sterling is just a guy that gets tired of things almost as fast as he acquires them. Sterling believes in God, but is sin all week and pray for forgiveness on Sunday type. He has read the fine print and knows he has an escape clause in his holy contract. He’s white and rich, and hasn’t killed anyone for goodness sake, people like him don’t go to, well you know Kierkegaard was a Christian existentialist). If there was a real Sterling and  were alive today he would be pleased at all the coverts he’s made. Many of them expert at rationalizing the worse behavior and projecting their sordid traits on others. To Sterling’s credit, few have his charm. If you’re going to be stabbed in the back, or front, it might as well be someone with a sense of style.

stella’s neighbors

At Military Contractor’s Trial, a $100,000 Buckle

The expense-account abuse, the prosecution has said, represented a pittance compared with the $190 million that Mr. Brooks and another top employee are accused of making through a stock fraud scheme in which he falsified information about his company’s performance — including significantly overstating the inventory of bulletproof vests — to inflate the price of the stock before selling his shares in 2004.

As a whole, the accusations might present just another cautionary tale of excess and entitlement in a powerful individual, but Mr. Brooks’s story stands out because of details and characters that give it the strange and sordid depth of a long-running soap opera.

“What makes it interesting isn’t that there is anything novel legally about it, but just how egregious this guy’s alleged behavior is, how gross the abuses are and how much greed is involved,” said Meredith R. Miller, an associate law professor at Touro College in Central Islip, N.Y. “Add in what the company does — the fact that this is a military contractor — and the facts are really interesting,” she said.

Sterling is practically a saint compared to David H. Brooks. Brooks has described himself as a real patriot who’s flak vests were just what the country needed at the right time. Vests that did not work as well as touted in high heat – you know like the desert – or protect some body parts as well as they should have. Brooks cared about his family and employees too, in his own way. He bought plastic surgery for his wife, pornography for his son and hired prostitutes for his employees.

einstein’s belief in wonder, big apple at night wallpaper, a dudes survey says

Albert Einstein’s Faith: Was the Great Physicist Spiritual?

Here is a passage that comes close, I think, to a concise description by Einstein of his quintessential “faith”:

A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, of the manifestations of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty — it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute the truly religious attitude; in this sense, and in this alone, I am a deeply religious man. I cannot conceive of a God who rewards and punishes his creatures, or has a will of the type of which we are conscious in ourselves … Enough for me the mystery of the eternity of life, and the inkling of the marvelous structure of reality, together with the single-hearted endeavor to comprehend a portion, be it ever so tiny, of the reason that manifests itself in nature.

This is a short article and I recommend reading it to get at the subtlety of thought that Tippett brings to her interpretation of Einstein’s thoughts. For those that have watched a Start Wars movie or read Arthur C. Clarke’ 2010: A Space Odyssey, or Einstein himself this is not particularly new territory. The universe seems to exist ( we’ll skip that on going debate for today). Aesthetics are subjective, but most people can find something about the universe they think of as beautiful. Whatever all this existence is, is a wonder. It probably did not all come about by way of a breaded man partly draped in a white sheet who occupies a throne on an ethereal plain. The Big Bang, matter, anti-matter, black holes and quantum theory have a majesty much their own and not really matched by fables.

evening city skyline

big apple night skyline wallpaper

The dudes are all right – Great Male Survey reveals a focus on family, and some surprising role-reversals, By Tracy Clark-Flory

“The ultimate male status symbol,” according to respondents, isn’t a fancy car or a Budweiser-sponsored man cave — it’s having a family. (Not to interrupt the chorus of “aww’s” — but “a beautiful wife or girlfriend” ranked third.) As for what “defines a ‘real man’ in 2010,” they say it’s “being a great father and husband who takes care of his family.” That’s either retro (man brings home the bacon) or progressive (man helps to support his family both financially and emotionally), depending on how you look at it; the same can be said for the rise of a family as the ultimate status symbol.

Frankly, you men make us women look a little superficial: Cosmopolitan magazine did a sister survey of their female audience and found that 46 percent rank a “beautiful house” as the ultimate status symbol, and a successful husband or boyfriend came in at second. Let me just point out, though, that the self-selecting survey was conducted by Cosmopolitan magazine; I’d hardly expect the results to be any different. While I’m at it, it’s worth pointing out that the self-selecting bit applies to’s side of the survey as well — so, grain of salt, ya’ll.

A nice discussion starter over coffee after dinner, but the stats are a little questionable. Only 29% of men can and enjoy cooking. That seems a little low. I’m not sure why Tracy gives grilling technique a shrug. When did things out of a teflon pan start to taste better? Women value, I mean really value owning a house. I wonder if that isn’t younger women or women owning their first house. I’d like to see those numbers again after a few years of maintenance, cleaning and utility bills. Houses are greedy and clingy entities that take possession of their occupants over time. Some people like that, for others it becomes a trade-off for the irritations that come with  apartment or row townhouse living. 62 percent of men say it is wrong to be deceptive about their feelings in order to get a woman to sleep with them. Just judging from casual conversation that seems about right. A lot of romcoms and Fox TV dramas make it seems as though it would be 62% who would lie.

fight the spin, vineyard autumn sky wallpaper, hair and its perceptions

Maddow to White House: Giving in to conservative spin ‘makes it worse’

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow has some advice for the White House about reacting to conservative media stories: “Believing conservative spin about what’s so wrong with you and then giving into that spin, is not an effective defense. In fact, it makes it worse.”

The Obama administration had asked for the resignation of USDA official Shirley Sherrod after a heavily edited video surfaced Monday on Andrew Breitbart’s Big Government website that appears to show her describing how she had denied help to a white family trying to save their farm. The story was quickly picked up by Fox News as an example of racial discrimination by the Obama administration.

The NAACP condemned Sherrod and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack asked her to resign. After obtaining the unedited video, which showed that Sherrod had been describing an incident 24 years ago in which she did successfully help the white farmers, the NAACP apologized and Vilsack said he is willing to reconsider her firing.

Considering the rapid collapse of the original Breitbart story, Maddow had some tart comments to make on the Obama administration’s hasty response.

“What is not really interesting about this whole situation is that Fox News is doing this,” said Maddow on Tuesday. “This is what Fox News does. This is how they are different from other news organizations. This is why the White House argued months ago that Fox should be treated as a media organization, but not as a normal news organization, because they don’t treat news the way a normal news organization treats news.”

“What is interesting about this story is that the Obama administration inexplicably keeps falling for it,” she continued.

“Dear White House, dear administration, believing conservative spin about what’s so wrong with you and then giving into that spin, is not an effective defense against that spin,” Maddow advised. “Just buying it and apologizing for it and doing whatever they want you to do doesn’t make the problem of them lying about you go away. In fact, it makes it worse.”

One conservative commentator theorized the administration acted in such haste because it fears the rathe of the far Right noise machine. i tend to think the Obama White House suffers from the same kind of bend over backwards to be fair syndrome from which journalists were affected during the Clinton years. Obama is so adverse to the public impression that anyone in his administration might be perceived as being too partisan that he over compensates. During the Clinton years, journalists has had be brow beaten by the incessant and shrill accusations of OMG – being too liberal – a stained blue dress became the an issue so large that public policy issues about education, energy, the environment got smothered ( at one point 500 news stories in one day) in the never ending obsession. Thus allowing the press corps to show, see we’re not so liberal after all. Otherwise bright professionals manipulated by conservatives who knew what buttons to push.

Maybe because we live such busy lives and catch snippets of information and often rely on the impression of what’s going on via retelling of the news by a friend over lunch. Impressions rather tan facts with context become the community narrative. Even faced with hard evidence that contradicts our beliefs many Americans – Facts, they found, were not curing misinformation. Like an underpowered antibiotic, facts could actually make misinformation even stronger

vineyard autumn sky wallpaper

Bald women: So hot right now

The AolNews article quotes “fashion expert” Toni Love, a cosmetologist and certified barber: “For some, going bald is for fashion, and for others it is medical. Many people lose their hair due to chemotherapy, radiation and other medical conditions, so there is an advantage to these patients who are suffering because, with this new trend, they fit in, not being self-conscious of their looks.” How convenient! Your chemo-induced hair loss will blend right in — no need to worry about wigs or scarves. It really fits with the whole “beauty is pain” mantra, now doesn’t it?

But the pain of losing your hair to chemo is about more than just blending in (plenty of cancer patients are visibly sick before they even start the therapy) — it’s about the loss of a body part, a part of your body. Sure, it isn’t a limb — but, for women, it’s the loss of a major part of their feminine identity. And when you lose your hair because of a terminal illness, as in my mom’s case, it can feel like a major step toward the end (even if it is in fact part of a measure to forestall the inevitable).

This is an interesting insight into self perception, beauty, feeling whole, along with fashion changes and societal pressures. Though it would have worked better as a blog post to compare and contrast a rather long blog post made recently here at WordPress by a feminist blogger who felt so freed by finally working up the courage cutting her long and “sexy” hair. But I lost the link. Anyway polar opposite ideas about hair and how it relates to personal identity and happiness.

color washed retro

My example to go with this, How To Give Your Photos a Cool Retro Analog Effect

Back in the days of analog photography imperfections were part of the job. Colour washes, light leaks, vignettes and blurs were all common problems that appeared during the processing of your film, particularly from cheap cameras such as the Holga, or simply down to human error. While these problems don’t affect digital cameras, we can recreate the cool effects in Photoshop to give our shots that cool lo-fi retro effect.

Mine is a little different from their example. For one thing the composition of my picture would have suffered with edge coloring. And I went with less reddish-orange tones because they diminished her jaw line and cheek bones.

a tea stained constitution, bloomerism, summer dive

Strange Brew: The Constitution According to the Tea Party

In fact, while the Tea Partiers declare that they want to go to back to the ideas of the Constitution, it seems that they really want to return to the Articles of Confederation, the failed experiment with a weak central government that was such a disaster George Washington once suggested that it nearly cost Americans victory in the Revolutionary War. The Tea Party’s idea that the federal government has no power to act in key areas such as health care, environmental protection and civil rights fits more with the discarded Articles than with the Founders’ second and lasting attempt to craft a national charter, our Constitution.

As a history refresher, the Articles of Confederation, adopted by the Second Continental Congress in 1777 and ratified in 1781, established a confederacy built merely on a “firm league of friendship” between thirteen independent states. There was only a single branch of national government, the Congress, which was made up of state delegations. Congress under the Articles of Confederation had some powers, but was given no means to execute those powers. Congress could not directly tax individuals or enact legislation that directly affected citizens; it could raise money only by making requests to the states.

By the time our Founders took up the task of drafting the Constitution in 1787, they had lived under the dysfunctional Articles for a decade and were focused on creating a new, better form of government with a sufficiently strong federal power. This is exactly what our Constitution establishes, giving Congress the power to, among other things, regulate interstate commerce and tax and spend for the general welfare.

It’s not just the U.S. people around the world love their catch phrases. These small snips of jargonism that supposedly define us. Conservatives have cornered the ‘small government’ meme. While I tend to think those at the top of the far Right food chain know better: the wonderfulness of no bid contracts for Halliburton and Blackwater, unfunded laws like Medicare part D ( funding was shored up and the doughnut hole closed by health-care reform). The Conservatives next door actually believe they are for small government despite evidence to the contrary – yet liberals and Democrats have made government smaller when they govern. We’d never let a jean manufacturer get away with that. If Conservojeans said they were 100% cotton and the public realized they were 50% polyester they’d be up in arms over false advertising. That in mind, maybe we should be putting content and care labels on the constitution and history: Warning do not wring through Conservative wash as the content will become unrecognizable.

bloomerism 1851.

Failure of  “Bloomerism”

The attempt on the part of certain American women to assume masculine or semi-masculine habiliments-a movement which received the name of Bloomerism from one of its prominent American advocates-was a bold and energetic one, but not successful. Some thousands of American women adopted what they thought a convenient and healthful Costume and were brave to heroism and persevering to fanaticism, but the attempted reform was a failure. America could rebel against a foreign government; she may revolutionize her own; out America is not strong enough to war upon the fashions of civilization. A woman in New York may make a political speech to three or four thousand people, but to wear a Bloomer dress down Broadway is another affair, and a far greater difficulty would be to get others to follow her example.

Thomas Low Nichols. Forty Years of American Life. London: 1874. Reprinted, New York: 1937.

I don’t know that Bloomerism was a failure. Fashion on the surface, yet it pushed for individual freedom and expanded the cultural definition of what that meant in the context of women and individual choices. The fashion died, but the ideals would live on through American culture up through the suffrage movement.

A little dark humor – Stouffers To Include Suicide Prevention Tips On Single Serve Microwavable Meals…

summer dive

frustration and despair, summer field wallpaper, cloning neanderthals

“It was the best of nationally advertised and quantitatively produced alarm-clocks, with all modern attachments, including cathedral chime, intermittent alarm, and a phosphorescent dial. Babbitt was proud of being awakened by such a rich device. Socially it was almost as creditable as buying expensive cord tires.

He sulkily admitted now that there was no more escape, but he lay and detested the grind of the real-estate business, and disliked his family, and disliked himself for disliking them. The evening before, he had played poker at Vergil Gunch’s till midnight, and after such holidays he was irritable before breakfast. It may have been the tremendous home-brewed beer of the prohibition-era and the cigars to which that beer enticed him; it may have been resentment of return from this fine, bold man-world to a restricted region of wives and stenographers, and of suggestions not to smoke so much.” Before there was Mad Men there was Sinclair Lewis and “Babbit”.

Frustration and Despair as Job Search Drags On

Ms. Sadler, who lost her job at an automotive parts plant in October 2008, learned last month that her unemployment insurance had been cut off. She is one of an estimated 2.1 million Americans whose benefits have expired and who are waiting for an end to an impasse that has lasted months in the Senate over extending the payments once more to the long-term unemployed.

So the party that run up record deficits, lied us into a trillion-dollar quagmire in Iraq and drove the economy into a wall are holding up unemployment benefits as they once again fight for Wall Street lobbyists and hedge-fund millionaires. Perversity does not always appear naked except for a tattered rain coat. Sometimes it wears a $2000 dollar suit and belongs to the Republican partay.

the plastics collection

The art of slow reading

Has endlessly skimming short texts on the internet made us stupider? An increasing number of experts think so – and say it’s time to slow down . . .

[   ]…So are we getting stupider? Is that what this is about? Sort of. According to The Shallows, a new book by technology sage Nicholas Carr, our hyperactive online habits are damaging the mental faculties we need to process and understand lengthy textual information. Round-the-clock news feeds leave us hyperlinking from one article to the next – without necessarily engaging fully with any of the content; our reading is frequently interrupted by the ping of the latest email; and we are now absorbing short bursts of words on Twitter and Facebook more regularly than longer texts.

Which all means that although, because of the internet, we have become very good at collecting a wide range of factual titbits, we are also gradually forgetting how to sit back, contemplate, and relate all these facts to each other. And so, as Carr writes, “we’re losing our ability to strike a balance between those two very different states of mind. Mentally, we’re in perpetual locomotion”.

I could say you should be reading a book or at least a thorough and thoughtful long article on the net, but that would be pretentious since you may have just done that and are taking a net surf break. Other than gently nudging people, this net is making us dumber issue is unsolvable, or it is like many of our other problems. People will decide to do something about it or they won’t.

summer field wallpaper

Should We Clone Neanderthals? – The scientific, legal, and ethical obstacles

If Neanderthals ever walk the earth again, the primordial ooze from which they will rise is an emulsion of oil, water, and DNA capture beads engineered in the laboratory of 454 Life Sciences in Branford, Connecticut. Over the past 4 years those beads have been gathering tiny fragments of DNA from samples of dissolved organic materials, including pieces of Neanderthal bone. Genetic sequences have given paleoanthropologists a new line of evidence for testing ideas about the biology of our closest extinct relative.

The first studies of Neanderthal DNA focused on the genetic sequences of mitochondria, the microscopic organelles that convert food to energy within cells. In 2005, however, 454 began a collaborative project with the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig, Germany, to sequence the full genetic code of a Neanderthal woman who died in Croatia’s Vindija cave 30,000 years ago. As the Neanderthal genome is painstakingly sequenced, the archaeologists and biologists who study it will be faced with an opportunity that seemed like science fiction just 10 years ago. They will be able to look at the genetic blueprint of humankind’s nearest relative and understand its biology as intimately as our own.

The author must live a secluded life in an academic ivory tower. Look around there are plenty of Neanderthals. The only thing that keeps us from cloning a prehistorical Neanderthal is some technical issues which will inevitably be overcome. That just leaves the ethical issues. It’s genome will be extraordinarily close to modern Homo sapiens, thus in most of the world would be entitled to human rights. Organ harvesting from such clones would be out of the question – at least for most people. The actual cloning would be an amazing scientific achievement and has the potential to reveal a lot about human development and history, but will we be able to handle the ethical implications of dealing with the physical presence  and providing for an extinct close human relative brought back to life.

The librul Washington Post at work, Krauthammer Revives Reagan Small Government Myth

Sadly, Charles Krauthammer must be confusing Ronald Reagan with someone else. Not only did the size of the federal government continue to grow under the Gipper, but the national debt tripled during the fiscal nightmare that was the Reagan presidency. Reagan was, as Timothy Noah wrote in Slate in 2004, “the man who taught Republicans to be irresponsible.”

german women and the holocaust, garden brick wall wallpaper, gibson’s conservatism

Women’s Role in Holocaust May Exceed Old Notions

Amid the horrors of the Holocaust, the atrocities perpetrated by a few brutal women have always stood out, like aberrations of nature.

There were notorious camp guards like Ilse Koch and Irma Grese. And lesser known killers like Erna Petri, the wife of an SS officer and a mother who was convicted of shooting to death six Jewish children in Nazi-occupied Poland; or Johanna Altvater Zelle, a German secretary accused of child murder in the Volodymyr-Volynskyy ghetto in Nazi-occupied Ukraine.

The Nazi killing machine was undoubtedly a male-dominated affair. But according to new research, the participation of German women in the genocide, as perpetrators, accomplices or passive witnesses, was far greater than previously thought.

The researcher, Wendy Lower, an American historian now living in Munich, has drawn attention to the number of seemingly ordinary German women who willingly went out to the Nazi-occupied eastern territories as part of the war effort, to areas where genocide was openly occurring.

In this new wave of research done by historian Wendy Lower found that as much as 10 percent of the concentration camp guards were German women. Lower describes the surreal spectacle of German women serving up refreshments for German soldiers tired from killing Jews and other prisoners in mass executions.

over grown garden brick wall wallpaper

There’s been enough coverage of Mel Gibson without me joining, but Jonah Goldberg of The national Review who imagines himself a historian of sorts and an astute observer of contemporary public figures writes – On Mel Gibson, “Conservative”

But I’m much less inclined to buy this conventional wisdom that he’s a mainstream conservative of some kind. I know he’s a committed old school Catholic, or so he says. I know he made a film about Jesus that was very warmly received by many conservatives and criticized by many others. But I’ve seen interviews with him where he could be a commenter on Daily Kos.  The most recent movie I saw him in, Edge of Darkness,  hinged on an absolutely asinine attack on the U.S. government in general and the Bush administration in particular.

I saw the Edge of Darkness before Gibsons’ latest melt-down and thought it was a good political thriller. It did have a liberal anti-government slant to the narrative, but Goldberg does understand it was a work of fiction and Gibson was hired as an actor to create the illusion of reality. For Goldberg the whole piece would count as a subtle – let’s hurry and get on the record as conservatives distancing themselves from the mad woman beating racist anti-Semite from Hollywood. The problem is this drooling fan boy piece by Ben Domenech from The National Review s still available in NR’s archives 6/27/2000- Mel Gibson, Conservative, As if he needed defending…

Gibson isn’t just a good conservative because of his work onscreen — married to his wife Robyn for 20 years, a devoted Catholic and father of seven children, Gibson has distinctly avoided the pull of the Hollywood scene, speaking out on the importance of family and faith in modern culture despite being routinely named as one of the “Most Beautiful People.” In a recent interview, Gibson criticized the “culture of divorce” that plagues celebrities: “There’s nothing more important than your family . . . If you ruin that part of your life, what’s left? Work, money, screwing around? I see a lot of people living like that who tell themselves they’re having a good time, but if you look under the surface, you only see corpses masquerading as human beings.” Gibson added, “It’s my duty to be a good husband and father, and that’s probably the only thing in life that I take seriously.”

A good actor, a good father, and a good conservative — Mel Gibson is a rarity worth hailing in this day and age. (emphasis mine)

Domenech shares Goldberg’s affinity for conflating the actor with the roles he played. You don’t have to go back to 2000 to read a Con defense of Gibson – Why does the right keep defending Mel Gibson?. Michael Medved’s CNN appearance in which he claimed Michael Moore has done more “damage” to the Jewish community than Gibson should be recorded and released as a comedy album. Neither has done any great harm to the Jewish community per se. Gibsons’ antisemitism is abhorrent, but has hurt him more than anyone else. Moore’s supposed antisemitism is nothing more than the usual far Right math where anything less than unquestioning loyalty to the government of Israel equals antisemitism.

the lollipop cult

Real Time Farms is a live, local food guide.

* Farmers markets and farm stands near you
* What’s fresh near you in real time! Find what produce, pantry goods, and plants are available now!

Great idea but needs more localities to put up lists of local farmer’s markets and co-ops.