“fragile” high self-esteem, summer yellow wallpaper, islam and evolution

Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson (May 25, 1803 – April 27, 1882) ” an American essayist, lecturer, and poet, who led the Transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century. He was seen as a champion of individualism and a prescient critic of the countervailing pressures of society.”

One could think of Emerson’s warning as a counter balance to the contemporary concept of self-esteem. A sure way to screw up any concept, even one with the best intentions, is to let percolate for a while in the public consciousness. High self-esteem is not always what it’s cracked up to be, especially when it comes to being insecure and defensive

Increasingly, psychologists are looking at such behavior and saying out loud what may go against the grain of how many people act: high self-esteem is not the same thing as healthy self-esteem. And new research by a psychology professor from the University of Georgia is adding another twist: those with “secure” high self-esteem are less likely to be verbally defensive than those who have “fragile” high self-esteem.

“There are many kinds of high self-esteem, and in this study we found that for those in which it is fragile and shallow it’s no better than having low self-esteem,” said Michael Kernis. “People with fragile high self-esteem compensate for their self-doubts by engaging in exaggerated tendencies to defend, protect and enhance their feelings of self-worth.”

Any news day would provide at least one example. Today’s news provides two, Sarah Palin Taken Aback by Hollywood’s Reaction To Her

Sarah Palin apparently hadn’t known that a lot of people in the entertainment industry don’t like her very much before last night, when after she saw The Undefeated, Steve Bannon’s documentary about her, she told the Hollywood Reporter she couldn’t understand why the celebrities who bash her in the movie’s opening montage can’t stand her:

It makes you want to reach out to some of these folks and say, What’s your problem? And what was the problem? And what is the problem? What would make a celebrity, like you saw on screen, so hate someone that they’d seek their destruction, their death, the death of their children? What would make someone be so full of hate and, I guess, a sense of being threatened that they would want to see that person destroyed?

Some of the language used to describe Palin was harsh and abrasive( as one would expect from comedians – see Fox News “comedy” show Red Eye for some examples of conservative harsh and abrasive here and here) and some like Matt Demon’s calling her a Disneyland character pretty tame. The Right, including Palin, spews so much hate, falsehoods and disinformation what can explain Palin’s disconnect from her own words and actions. Her speaking tours and books are all about demonizing people who disagree with her. During the 2008 presidential campaign she claimed Obama hung out with terrorists. During 2009  and 2010 she claimed the ACA – health care reform contained “death panels” to kill grandma. Those would be panels similar to the ones Republicans voted for overwhelmingly in 2003 that would provide end of life counseling. Gosh gee wiz she can’t understand why people might find her morally repulsive. Maybe some of that fragile high self-esteem is getting in the way. Palin’s will not allow her the possibility that she is wrong. That carefully constructed bubble of pride she lives in will not allow her to consider that her political prescriptions are anything but patriotic. They are in line with certain strains of fanaticism that has haunted the U.S. from day one. Her views jell perfectly with the kind of movements that historian Robert O. Paxton warned about in “The Five Stages of Fascism”, and modern far right conservatism as “movements that employ authentically American themes in ways that resemble fascism functionally.” In short what David Neiwart calls “pseudo-fascism”. Remember that Palin’s husband Todd belonged to a treasonous pro secession group in Alaska. Inside the mental bubble is the political bubble. No wonder Palin cannot fathom that she subscribes to a dangerous and deeply un-American political beggars stew. If her mental insulation were not enough, her like-minded followers reinforce her deeply radical beliefs.

More “fragile” high self-esteem at World Net Daily: Birthers Sue Esquire Over Parody, Seeking More than $200 Million

Farah, the CEO of WorldNetDaily.com, and Corsi, author of “Where’s the Birth Certificate? The Case That Barack Obama Is Not Eligible to Be President,” have filed suit against Hearst, Esquire magazine and writer Mark Warren over a satirical article that they say defamed them and damaged their business interests. They’re seeking compensatory damages of $100 million and punitive damages of $20 million, plus legal costs. [Update: As a commenter points out, that’s only for one of the five counts; the full amount sought totals more than $285 million.]

[  ]…In their suit, Farah and Corsi say this update itself was “another actionable attack on Plaintiffs and exhibited the malice of Defendants toward the Plaintiffs.” The malicious intent that that allege spawned the article succeeded, they say, in interfering with their ability to sell books through Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Tower and other retailers. The plaintiffs also say that Warren’s parody exposed them to “extreme ridicule in the community where they reside and where their works are viewed and read.” I don’t see Warren challenging them on that point.

How dare someone ridicule their baseless malicious attack. When someone lives in a fantasy world of their own making and that fantasy clashed with reality, the acid trippers like  Farah and Corsi will be damaged in a way. The real world has come crashing down on their fairy tale world. It has ruined all their fun. Reality is mean like that sometimes and eaten up some of the profits from their poisoned well.

One pill makes you larger
And one pill makes you small
And the ones that mother gives you
Don’t do anything at all
Go ask Alice
When she’s ten feet tall

White Rabbit Lyrics by Jefferson Airplane

summer bench against yellow ground

summer yellow wallpaper

Does Islam Stand Against Science?

Data collected by the World Bank and Unesco confirm this bleak assessment. A study of 20 member states of the Organization of the Islamic Conference found that these countries spent 0.34 percent of their gross domestic product on scientific research from 1996 to 2003, which was just one-seventh of the global average.

Those Muslim countries have fewer than 10 scientists, engineers, and technicians for every 1,000 people, compared with the world average of 40, and 140 for the developed world. And they contribute only about 1 percent of the world’s published scientific papers. Another study of OIC nations found that scientists in 17 Arabic-speaking countries produced a total of 13,444 scientific publications in 2005, which was 2,000 fewer than what just Harvard University produced.

There is hope for the modernization of Islam. In the west fundamentalist Christians, and the New Atheists for that matter, have tied evolution to atheism. It is possible, at least some enlightened Muslim scholars hope so, to separate atheism from religion. The late paleontologist Stephen J. Gould made that point. The west’s Christians, the ones who are frightened by the fact of evolution anyway, want to keep injecting their quasi-science into the discussion – like the earth and universe are only a couple to a few thousand years old or all fossils are fake. That tends to take the discussion down the usual dead-end. Their god can still exists within the framework of evolution. After all Darwin was a minister. As the full article explains the stakes are high for the west and the world’s one billion Muslims. In the next fifteen to twenty years are Muslims going to hang on to the 19th century and fall further behind the west in technology, economic well being and culture. The west and China would certainly benefit from a truly global economy and the modernization of Islam might allow some westerners to be a little less paranoid.

Public Speaking (2010) a documentary about Fran Lebowitz. Bloggers who are serious about writing might find it discouraging. The curse of why bother if you cannot do something well. She has very high standards for herself and the art of writing. For those who would rather skip the movie an interview from the NYT, AT LUNCH WITH: Fran Lebowitz; Words Are Easy, Books Are Not

“I’ve never met anyone who even comes close to me in laziness,” Ms. Lebowitz says. “I would have made a perfect heiress. I enjoy lounging. And reading. The other problem I have is fear of writing. The act of writing puts you in confrontation with yourself, which is why I think writers assiduously avoid writing. The number of alcoholic writers makes a lot of sense because if you’re going to be face to face with yourself, maybe it’s better that you don’t recognize that person.” (She herself doesn’t drink because she has hypoglycemia.)


traveling 3900 miles to work for a buck fifty a day, the deficit myth, motion aftereffect

men wanted railroad work one fifty per day

From the archives of the NYT is a report from August 1880 about accusations about a man who sent Swedish railroad workers, who had taken a ship over from Sweden, to a project  in Arkansas. Acting as an agent for an employment agency and himself he(Zander) seems to have mislead the men about how much they would have to spend for their transportation and their pay. He also seems to have been stingy with food rations. It turns into a what Zander claimed versus what the imported labor said story. One telling aspect is that about a dozen of the immigrants were rescued by Germans in Memphis.

I’m borrowing most of this post by Jonathan Chait, Bernie Sanders, Left-Wing Madman

If you want a short encapsulation of how far right the economic debate has moved, check out this passage from the Washington Post:

Sen. Bernard Sanders, a Vermont independent with socialist leanings, delivered a 90-minute address Monday outlining his plan calling for 50 percent of all savings to come from tax increases. “The wealthiest Americans and the most profitable corporations in this country must pay their fair share,” Sanders wrote Monday in a letter to Obama.

Such a proposal has no chance of passing because Republicans and many Democrats believe steep tax increases are both politically unpopular and potentially harmful to the struggling domestic economy.

So the socialist plan for one of the lowest-taxed advanced economies on Earth — a country that could balance its budget entirely through tax hikes and still have a tax burden that ranks in the lowest third among the OECD — is to cut the deficit with a plan consisting of half spending cuts. And that plan is immediately dismissed as so wildly unrealistic it stands no chance of passage. Cut hundreds of billions of dollars of spending and also raise taxes to cut the deficit, during a massive economic crisis? Go back to Russia, you crazy socialist!

Polls show that most Americans support a tax increase on the wealthiest 1%. That despite the shrill noise of the 24/7 conservative noise machine. Yet the goal posts that frame the debate are way the hell off in wing-nut gulch. A lot of people really believe the country in some kind of dire spending crisis and it is certainly the End-Times if we don’t solve the problem solely through spending cuts. If the Bush tax cuts were done away with there would be no debt crisis. Even president Obama is going along like a well-trained member of the Republican-lite party, otherwise known as centrist Democrats. All he is asking for is to close some loop-holes for the uber rich.

black and white train interior

Woman arrested for videotaping traffic stop from her front yard. This is the second story of similar events that I’ve read in the pass month. I still believe most police are decent and do a good job, but there are a sizable minority of police who need to do more serving and protecting, and less brutalities and abusing their authority. The police did get this nutter, Former Rand Paul Campaign Worker Gets Probation for Stomping Liberal

 The Time Michele Bachmann Thought She’d Been Kidnapped By Lesbians


Neuroscientists Find Famous Optical Illusion Surprisingly Potent

The yellow jacket (Rocky, the mascot of the University of Rochester) appears to be expanding. But he is not. He is staying still. We simply think he is growing because our brains have adapted to the inward motion of the background and that has become our new status quo. Similar situations arise constantly in our day-to-day lives – jump off a moving treadmill and everything around you seems to be in motion for a moment.

This age-old illusion, first documented by Aristotle, is called the Motion Aftereffect by today’s scientists. Why does it happen, though? Is it because we are consciously aware that the background is moving in one direction, causing our brains to shift their frame of reference so that we can ignore this motion? Or is it an automatic, subconscious response?

[  ]…This discovery reveals that the Motion Aftereffect illusion is not just a compelling visual oddity: It is caused by neural processes that happen essentially every time we see moving objects.

cruelty is the new freedom, life saver wallpaper, some linkage

By way of hereWhy Conservatives Punish Their Victims: A Lesson From Arizona

Blaming the Victims

But that doesn’t answer the basic question: Why? Why attack people whose lives have been shattered by conservative policies? One answer is: Because their lives have been shattered by conservative policies. Once you accept the fact that the misfortune of the unemployed isn’t of their own making, then you have to ask what caused it. And since that leads to an indictment of the right-wing agenda, these conservatives can’t let that happen.

Politics and religion have been a toxic mix for centuries. While there is a religious liberal movement that dates as far back as the progressives of the 1930s, one that has been largely a force for good. There has also been a regressive right leaning religious movement. What might be one of the most unfortunate, if not outright destructive phenomenons of our time is the far Right merging of politics and religion. For them there is no point of differentiation. So when one indicts their economic beliefs or just point around to the economic wasteland of the great recession – a wasteland for the middle-class and working poor anyway. The rich are still very well off –  you’re challenging a deeply ingrained orthodoxy. Most strains of libertarianism are just as dogmatic. Telling them their economic policies have been a massive failure is close to denying the existence of their deity. Conservatives and libertarians just happen to worship Milton Friedman along with other idols.

I would have included F.A. Hayek, author of a book called “The Road to Serfdom” ( often promoted by Glenn Beck and the tea stains), but Hayek was not the pure libertarian that conservatives, libertarians and republiterians like to think, HAYEK’S ROAD TO SERFDOM by Walter Block(pdf file) this critque is by a far Right libertarian from The Mises Institute

There is no reason why in a society which has reached the general level of wealth which ours has attained . . . security against severe physical privation the certainty of a given minimum of sustenance . . . should not be guaranteed to all without endangering general freedom. . . . There can be nodoubt that some minimum of food, shelter and clothing, sufficient to preserve health and the capacity to work, can be assured to everybody. – The Road to Serfdom, p. 120.

I was and still might do a longer piece on Hayek. Despite the praises of even some Keynesians I tend to think Hayek has reached an undeserved level of idolatry by some. I don’t get the fascination with the Austrian school of economics. Their theories have been largely disproved, yet along with Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” continues to appeal to the grand delusions of people who think of themselves as mini-John Galts who swear they earn their wealth all by themselves in a hermetically sealed bubble.

seascape, the ocean, summer

life saver wallpaper

Investing in the Health and Well-Being of Our Children(pdf) by a former Surgeon General of the U.S.

As the 16th Surgeon General of the United States, from 1998 to 2002, I stated that the best investment that we could make as a nation was to invest in the health and future of our children. Childhood obesity is one of the greatest threats to child and adult health that we are facing today. Not only are children who are overweight and obese more likely to be overweight and obese adults, with increased risks of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer, but children who are overweight and obese are also at increased risks for depression, diabetes, and hypertension in childhood.

The Sand Cat – Desert Cat Extraordinaire

Don’t be fooled by the off the scale cuteness quotient. This is the Sand Cat – of Felis margarita, a little known species of desert cat. In the wild it lives in areas that are too hot and dry for any other cat- the deserts of Africa and Asia, including the Sahara.

If you’re addicted to cute you’ll love the pictures at the link.

Excavating a “Solar Boat”

For the first time in centuries, a multi-ton limestone slab—one of dozens—floats free of the “tomb” of a 4,500-year-old, disassembled “solar boat” at the foot of the Great Pyramids in Giza (map), Egypt, on Thursday.

[   ]…Once the months-long process of extracting the pieces is finished, researchers expect to spend several years restoring the ship before placing it on display in Giza’s Solar Boat Museum near the Pyramids. A similar ship found nearby has already been reconstructed and is on display in the museum. At about 140 feet (43 meters) long, the restored ship is thought to be a bit bigger than its still fragmented sister.

Solar boats played an important role in story of the afterlife in ancient Egyptian mythology. Each night the sun god Ra—in the form of the evening sun, Ra-Atum—was thought to sail through the afterlife in one boat to battle gods and beasts until he rose as the morning sun, Ra-Horakhty, and sailed his day boat across the sky.

One first thought was that the ancient Egyptian obsession with the afterlife seems a little neurotic as compared to thoughts of one’s most imminent existence. Though since their beliefs in the afterlife went so deep, by their logic the afterlife would be more important since being dead is like forever. You can’t go eternity without a boat.

Revisiting the Monty Hall problem

A guest on the show has to choose among three doors, behind one of which is a prize. The guest states his choice, and the host opens one of the two remaining closed doors, always being careful that it is one behind which there is no prize. Should the guest switch to the remaining closed door? Most people choose to stay with their original choice, which is wrong—switching would increase their chance of winning from 1/3 to 2/3. (There is a 1/3 chance that the guest’s original pick was correct, and that does not change.) Even after playing the game many times, which would afford ample opportunity to observe that switching doubles the chances of winning, most people in a recent study switched only 2/3 of the time. Pigeons did better. After a few tries, the birds learn to switch every time.

This probability problem is related to a real math problem proposed by French mathematician Joseph Bertrand in 1889. The math and more explanation at the link.

Elizabeth Taylor in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof(1958). The character’s nickname in the movie version of the Tennessee Williams play was Maggie the Cat.

fire and water wallpaper, ned kelly tattoos and behavior, sympatric speciation, mid summer impressions

fire and water wallpaper

While some people think Ned Kelly was some kind of outlaw that fought against what he considered unjust laws, amid all that perverse brand of social activism he was a cold-blooded murderer, Ned Kelly tattoos – Origins and forensic implications

Tattoos depicting Ned Kelly, a 19th-century Australian bushranger (outlaw) are occasionally encountered in the contemporary Australian population at forensic autopsy. To determine the characteristics of decedents with such tattoos, twenty cases were identified in the autopsy files at Forensic Science SA. All of the decedents were white males (100%) with an age range of 20–67yrs (average 37yrs). Seventeen of the deaths (85%) were unnatural, due to suicide in eight cases (40%), accidents in seven cases (35%) and homicide in two cases (10%). Compared to the general autopsy population suicides and homicides were 2.7 and 7.7 times higher, respectively, than would be expected, with a striking male predominance. A Ned Kelly tattoo identified at autopsy in another country or in a disaster victim identification situation may suggest that the decedent was Australian or had a connection with that country. Although the population studied is highly selected, individuals with these tattoos had an above average incidence of traumatic deaths.

My ability to believe in magic is severely disabled so I tend not to think the tattoos had any influence in such destructive and self-destructive behavior. The sample is awfully small – we do not know how many people total with Ned Kelly tattoos lead productive lives and died a natural death – though there might be enough evidence to suggest that some anti-social personalities in Australia are drawn to getting Ned tattoos.

Rep. Chris Murphy (D-CT) Says Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ Actions Call Into Question Whether He ‘Can Continue To Serve As A Justice’

Justice Thomas has sat on at least 11 cases where a Harlan Crow-affiliated group filed a brief — adopting the group’s preferred outcome in all but one case. Moreover, Thomas has yet to explain the full extent of his connections to Crow, despite news reports that Crow lavished gifts and other expensive favors on Thomas and his family. Nor has Thomas explained how his gifting scandal differs from the very similar gifting scandal that brought down Justice Abe Fortas.

Some what remarkable that the SCOTUS is supposed to be largely self policing – voluntarily adhering to certain ethics guidelines. While Justice Antonin Scalia has also pushed some ethical limits, the court has been done fairly well operating on a kind of honor system. It is also remarkable how fast such a system breaks down when just one or two people think they’re above the rules.

I would suggest one not engage in anthropomorphism while contemplating this article, Model examines factors that contribute to the emergence of new species

Mate choice, competition, and the variety of resources available are the key factors influencing how a species evolves into separate species, according to a new mathematical model that integrates all three factors to reveal the dynamics at play in a process called sympatric speciation.

Titled “Factors influencing progress toward sympatric speciation,” the paper appears in today’s edition of the Journal of Evolutionary Biology.

New species more commonly occur when plants or animals cannot interbreed because of strong mate choice, and therefore they become isolated genetically. A less common type of speciation, called “sympatric,” occurs when a new species arises from a single population that has no geographic or physical barriers. A famous example is the Rhagoleitis pomonella fruit fly that originally feasted on the fruit of hawthorn trees, then shifted and began to feed on apples, evolving into a more genetically distinct type of fly.

The new model integrates three key factors that can lead to sympatric speciation: the degree to which male foraging traits influence female mate choice, the degree to which different individuals compete for resources, and the variety of resources available. By incorporating three different factors together, the study’s authors, Xavier Thibert-Plante, a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis, and Andrew P. Hendry, an associate professor at McGill University, have taken a different more inclusive approach than in previous studies, which examine one or a few primary factors.

Under  perfect conditions in their model sympatric speciation is rare. Still it does happen as in the case of the Rhagoleitis pomonella fruit fly where the choice of mate pushed the population to resource specialization, thus reliant on different resources than the original population. Not a phenomenon likely to be observed in modern humans since we’ve long pass the time when different hominid populations were sufficiently separate. Though mate selection might be open to debate as a factor is modern evolution – that is if modern human evolution is occurring at all.

graphic art, collage

mid summer impressions

fox news is misinformation central, standard collage edward ruscha

When this poll came out in 2007 it was a hot story among bloggers for a few days – Public Knowledge of Current Affairs Little Changed by News and Information Revolutions, What Americans Know: 1989-2007. 4 hour cable news bigger and more persuasive than ever. All the world’s biggest newspapers are on-line. Research papers from universities and think-tanks are on-line. Some classic literature on history, economics, sociology, math and science have become part of the public domain, and also available on-line. Yet the public’s general knowledge of the world actually slipped just a little in those eighteen years. There is a difference between being uniformed and misinformed. The consequences of not knowing or hanging on to some disinformation are about the same. Though in the latter case one has to walk back the disinformation and replace the falsehoods with new correct information. That ends to be especially difficult some of the time. It is much easier to talk someone through the time line of America’s space program than disabuse them of a conspiracy theory about Neil Armstrong and his moon landing and first steps on the moon. So when Jon Stewart said that Fox news viewers were the most misinformed he was referring to the malicious dissemination of falsehoods by the network. This simple observation, one between being uninformed and misinformed, seems to be one that Politifact has a difficulty in parsing. The whole controversy is not about being misinformed as though misinformation about events, facts and public policy are dead ends. Oh well people believe in the falsehoods Fox News has spread about the Affordable Care Act is just like my uncle swearing he some green spacemen while he was sipping some bourbon out on the porch. People tend not to act on stories from eccentric half drunk uncles. People do echo and act on public policy misinformation. The lies about Iraq, combined with the constant reinforcement of those lies and half-truths cost the nation an estimated three trillion dollars – Want to balance the budget. Jump in the old time machine and undo that debacle. Fox was broadcast news propaganda central. Jon Stewart 1, Politifact 0: Fox News Viewers Are The Most Misinformed

Stewart, very much in the vein of my prior post, went on the air with Fox’s Chris Wallace and stated,

“Who are the most consistently misinformed media viewers? The most consistently misinformed? Fox, Fox viewers, consistently, every poll.”

My research, and my recent post, most emphatically supports this statement. Indeed, I cited five (1, 2, 3, 4, 5) separate public opinion studies in support of it—although I carefully noted that these studies do not prove causation (e.g., that watching Fox News causes one to be more misinformed). The causal arrow could very well run the other way—believing wrong things could make one more likely to watch Fox News in the first place. ( and another poll)

Media Matters also notes several specific incidences and issues where Fox News blatantly misinformed its viewers. ACA or health care reform misinformation by Fox News. Fox News misinfo on Medicare. Fox News lies about women’s health issues and Planned Parenthood.

And Chris Mooney is correct in saying that just as many people use the internet to find disinformation that reinforces their beliefs rather than seek out facts, Fox News viewers may turn to Fox to reinforce misinformation they have already invested in.

Standard Collage 1989 by Edward Ruscha. Ruscha is an American artist. This work is synthetic polymer paint, cut-and-pasted black paper, and pencil on paper.

In that interview with Stewart Chris Wallace made this claim, “I think we’re the counter-weight. I think that they (NBC) have a liberal agenda, and I think that we tell the other side of the story.” Certainly there are ways to slant news. The Right has been doing so for years from newsletters to AM radio, to newspaper editorials, astroturf letters to the editor, to magazines, television, book publishers and the internet. Lets pretend NBC has a bias which is center left. An ethical correction would be to make the network more neutral. Some stories, say the sex and payoff scandal evolving Sen. John Ensign(R-NV), Sen Tom Coburn(R-OK) and Rick Santorum(R-PA) would be embarrassing for Republicans no matter how the story was reported. Fox’s Wallace thinks balance is to tell lies to counterbalance the truth reported elsewhere. His words, not mine,

I’d note, by the way, that Wallace has accidentally told the truth about this before. A year ago this month, Wallace talked to Don Imus about Helen Thomas’ seat in the White House press briefing room, in the wake of her retirement. Wallace said Fox News getting the seat would be “payment for Helen Thomas,” because “obviously, she was very far to the left wing.”

Wallace added, “If her seat were to be taken by Fox News, it would just be kind of poetic justice.”

Of course, it’s obvious exactly what he meant — Thomas was to the left, Fox News is a Republican outlet. It would be “justice,” from Wallace’s perspective, precisely because it’s payback, trading someone from one end of the spectrum for someone at the opposite end.

Imus noticed the implicit concession, and called Wallace on it. The “Fox News Sunday” host quickly realized he’d gone too far. “Well, I just realized that’s probably not the way to go on this,” he said.

Don’t worry, Chris. Your words speak for themselves.

The Helen Thomas story speaks to another problem that seems too subtle for the Right to parse. Thomas herself was personally more left of center than Right. The Right thinks that means her stories were always slanted, lumping together her personal views and reportage. Wallace thinks that when he sees what he feels deep in his heart is bias on other networks that makes it OK for Fox News to lie because lying is balance.

st georges cycles. 19th century advertising poster. a woman out by herself showing a bit of stocking. would a little shocking for the time. something near modern advertisements by calvin klein or abercrombie.

america is working harder for less, courtyard italy wallpaper, the creepy world of conservative scandal pundits

spring wallpaper

courtyard italy wallpaper

Before I get to yet another article on the incredible income disparity and class warfare in the U.S. let me get into some f the anecdotal thoughts which people usually have when they talk about work, productivity, laziness and meritocracy. Anyone who has ever had a job for long knows that not all employees, middle-mangers or executives are good at their jobs, always productive or are paid according to their contribution. Most of us have worked with people with the same title and responsibilities who do poor quality work or produce less than we do. We have all had supervisors who we wonder how they got their promotion. We know executives whose average day consist of going to a meeting or two, answers some e-mails and phone calls, takes a two hour lunch and works half a day on Fridays so they can go play golf. In other words this is the real world of work in the U.S. It’s not politics, arcane economic theory or some dystopian ideal about how things should be. Most, if not all of us, have had conversations with co-workers, friends and family about these issues. Pay, merit, production, quality of work in our everyday conversations are generally not about socialism, capitalism or libertarianism or American style liberalism. Or any of the variants of those core philosophies. Though some of those things may inform our world view. This article is not ostensibly about politics. Though the solutions are certainly partly political. All Work and No Pay: The Great Speedup – You: doing more with less. Corporate profits: Up 22 percent. The dirty secret of the jobless recovery.

In all the chatter about our “jobless recovery,” how often does someone explain the simple feat by which this is actually accomplished? US productivity increased twice as fast in 2009 as it had in 2008, and twice as fast again in 2010: workforce down, output up, and voilá! No wonder corporate profits are up 22 percent since 2007, according to a new report by the Economic Policy Institute. To repeat: Up. Twenty-two. Percent.

This is nothing short of a sea change. As University of California-Berkeley economist Brad DeLong notes [11], until not long ago, “businesses would hold on to workers in downturns even when there wasn’t enough for them to do—would put them to work painting the factory—because businesses did not want to see their skilled, experienced workers drift away and then have to go through the expense and loss of training new ones. That era is over. These days firms take advantage of downturns in demand to rationalize operations and increase labor productivity, pleading business necessity to their workers.”

How does corporate America have the gall? You pretty much know the answer, but for official confirmation let’s turn to Erica Groshen [12], a vice president at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York: It’s easier here than in, say, the UK or Germany “for employers to avoid adding permanent jobs,” she told the AP [13] recently. “They’re less constrained by traditional human-resources practices [translation: decency] or union contracts.” In plainer English, here’s Rutgers political scientist Carl Van Horn [14]: “Everything is tilted in favor of the employers…The employee has no leverage. If your boss says, ‘I want you to come in the next two Saturdays,’ what are you going to say—no?”

And lest CNBC hornswoggle you, this is not just a product of the recession. Throughout the past decade, salaries stagnated and workloads grew, but Wall Street’s bubble allowed us to drown our sorrows in credit. (Sure, I’m working crazy hours and our pension fund is history, but check out my granite countertop!) Then came the crash, and the speedup…speeded up.

Business has found that it can make profits with a 10% unemployment rate. Since there is very little remaining in the way of employee rights and employers have embraced libertarianism lite, they feel no moral obligation to take a cut in profits to keep people working until there is an upswing in the economy.

For 90 percent of American workers [31], incomes have stagnated or fallen for the past three decades, while they’ve ballooned at the top, and exploded at the very tippy-top: By 2008, the wealthiest 0.1 percent were making 6.4 times as much as they did in 1980 (adjusted for inflation). And just to further fuel your outrage, that 22 percent increase in profits? Most of it accrued to a single industry: finance.

And that poor writer had the temerity to crack a joke about Marxism before laying out those statistics. It is not about – the current system is failing so let’s switch to socialism. The problem is that we have very imperfect markets, no one wants to really intervene ( the Recovery Act did some good, but it was a band-aid at best) and so we have what is becoming a lost generation of workers. With those who are working – even if imperfectly – pulling more and more of the load up hill with less compensation.

beach stones wallpaper

This rant by a wing-nut writer named Lori Ziganto( who she says can be found on Twitter at @SnarkAndBoobs) is a little creepy – Lefty Feminists Expose Themselves by Putting Out for Weiner. Was there a contest to see how many high-school freshman sexual puns she could fit into one sentence.

Termus Interruptus for creepy Rep. Antony Weiner (D.-N.Y.), who finally resigned at a press conference on Thursday, to heckles of “Good-bye, Pervert.”  This caused leftist feminists to once again defend him—how dare you screech pervert at a predator who sends unasked-for shots of his junk to women—as well as attempt to blame the entire imbroglio on conservatives thinking that sex is icky.  The former John Edwards blogger, Amanda Marcotte, who is always obsessed with sex, was the first to weigh in on Twitter with, “Hecklers screamed ‘pervert’ at Weiner as he announced his resignation. #yepitsaboutsex”  and “Yeah, from all the triumphant tweets I’m getting, be prepared.  If we’re going to throw Dems under the bus for being sexually active …”

Yes, because that is what it was all about.  In the deluded minds of “feminists,” at least.  From the story first breaking, through his resignation, ‘feminists’ have lined up on every corner to prostitute themselves for Weiner.  Because, abortion.  Or something.  I can’t be sure because I lost my cuckoo pants to English dictionary.  By doing so, they once again exposed themselves as the utter shams that they are.  They are not for women and they never have been.  In fact, the only thing standing up for women in this case is Weiner’s, well, little weiner, which it apparently does often and in an unsolicited manner.  Let’s see how the feminists stood up for women in this case, shall we?  We should start with the ever-insane Marcotte, of course.  She’s been scrawling up a storm ever since the scandal rose its ugly, gray-underwear-clad head.

[  ]…Marcotte projects her own insecurities constantly by insisting that conservatives care what she does with her girly bits.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Believe me, Amanda, no one wants to think about you “fornicating” (her favorite word of choice), and it’s not because we are prudish.  It’s because we don’t want to lose our lunches.  That would be wasteful!

I’m not going to get into a defense of Weiner. And Marcotte is more than capable of defending herself. I thought it was slightly intriguing that Ziganto wrote about her feelings – just that, no facts, data – just some sexually charged froth that, that with some irony is not safe to read at work. If someone read just my excerpts over your shoulder at work and complains it made them feel uncomfortable, you’re history. I think the least Ziganto owed her readers was an explanation as to why she is a true friend to women and her adversaries are not. What makes Ziganto a true feminist. Maybe the essay was also part mystery story and we’re all supposed to figure it out. Though with such strong feelings – exemplified by the torrential epitaphs – one wonders why she would keep all the evidence of her feminism in the closet. Her feelings about Rep. Weiner and what he was alleged to do hardly count as core principles of anything except gloating over a political adversary she clearly hates. So M’s SnarkAndBoobs is an enigma warped in a mystery. Ziganto is writing for that bastion of brownshirted journalism known as Human Events. Being a kind of wing-nut fount of wisdom about all things cultural and moral perhaps the site contained some more forth coming sources of what Ziganto could only write a dirty little column about. It so happens that brilliant prognosticator of what is good and sane, Ann Coulter, has also written on sex scandals for Human Events, Cruising While Republican
by  Ann Coulter, 09/05/2007

Despite the 9/11-level coverage, Larry Craig is merely accused of “cruising while Republican.” There is nothing liberals love more than gay-baiting, which they disguise as an attack on “hypocrisy.”

If we apply equal Coulterian standards all around then shouldn’t Ziganto be taking up for Weiner up to and including the point at which he starts tapping toes in public restrooms. Isn’t Ziganto straight-guy baiting and straight-guy touchless cyber baiting at that. If Coulter and Ziganto are the judge and jury as to what is or is not appropriate and they pass these judgments from their high thrones as true feminists, how about a playbook of moral consistency. Where Coulter and Ziganto leave us wondering in the fog of wing-nut moral schizophrenia, Mac Johnson of Human Events steps up to the plate. Well in his way, Sen. Vitter Outed As Heterosexual: Heterophobia Feared 

Washington was rocked — ROCKED — this week when it was revealed that Sen. David Vitter, a Louisiana Republican, is a practicing heterosexual.  The news came as part of a larger bombshell, as Vitter’s name was revealed to be on the client list of the so-called “D.C. Madam” (who is apparently not Nancy Pelosi, by the way, but a physical prostitute.)

Vitter, obviously unfamiliar with how to react when one’s sexual identity is made public, immediately apologized and foolishly focused on the paying-for-sex aspect of the whole affair.  He also used the word “sin,” which at the time that this column went to press, I was unable to find a definition for in my official media dictionary.

[  ]…There is just one word for the dark motivation behind Vitter’s outing and that is HETEROPHOBIA!  There I said it.  If this country wants to erase its lingering legacy of heterophobia, then I want heterosexual scandals to be treated with equal stupidity.  Vitter must be re-elected, cleansed, treated with kid gloves by the media, and if he has a lisp then no one must ever make fun of it –EVER– or else be called an ignorant heterophobe.

Some might say this is a bunch of barely rational non sequiturs. A string of insults at those – them people out there who said unkind things about a guy who paid for sex. So it would make just as much sense if it were titled Congressman Weiner Outed As Heterosexual: Heterophobia Feared. Though that essay is not to be found on H.E. Take Ziganto, Coulter and Johnson together and you have some conservatives who are pissed off that the world does not see things exactly how they see them, so you’re all poopyheads. So there. They get paid for this by the Wing-nut Welfare Circle Jerk.

the failure of libertarian duopolies and post hoc evidence, smooth desert wallpaper

In books and essays about writing, among other well worn pieces of advice, they say you should write about things, people, events and so forth that interest you. I find libertarians Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch boring and tiresome. I’m more familiar with Gillespie. His modus operandi in his average piece is to tote the liberalism which libertarians have subverted. Libertarianism is the bastard child of late 19th century anarchists, communists and fascists. Much like conservatism, they do not have an historical base of political science or political theory to draw from. In this piece – Death of the Duopoly– true to form they decry the drug war, foreign wars and the impact of special interests. Even a squirrel finds a nut eventually. A duopoly in this case is the Republican and Democratic party establishment with some examples from business, sports and music thrown in as supposed supporting evidence. It would make things so much easier if we lived in a world of obvious contrasts. Is he completely wrong in his cliched observations about our two major political parties. No. Though far be it from Gillespie to note the incredible rigidity and conformity of the Right and its adherents. If he and Welsh would not stop to make that all too obvious observation they certainly would not note the multiple divisions in the Democratic Party. If that were not enough of a hint that the article is going to be a disaster. An utter failure in even casual observation, this is another clue,

The decentralized and effectively leaderless Tea Party is the most potent example of this permanent non-governing minority. The movement has focused like a laser beam on what all but a few Washington politicians won’t dare to touch: actually cutting spending and debt. Whether the group will be able to maintain its emphasis on stanching the nation’s flow of red ink while avoiding divisive social issues is an open question. But there’s no denying that the Tea Party’s biggest impact has come by backing challengers to entrenched Republican candidates.

Far Right presidential candidate Michele Bachmann started the tea stained caucus in Congress. Most of the tea stains financial backing has come from the far Right Koch brothers, American for Prosperity, and the American Enterprise Institute, among others.  That income inequality that Gillespie and Welsh say is so awful is largely a result of far Right tax policy supported by organizations like AFP. The so-called tea movement is largely driven by the same old special interests that have been bank rolling the far Rights for decades. The Koch brothers father was one of the founding members of the John Birch Society. These people were and still are so far right they thought Dwight Eisenhower was a communist. I’ve read interviews with and seen TV reports of people who say they are with the tea baggers and really are independents and so forth. Those people are a very small percentage of the tea bagger movement. Which means the tea baggers are merely part of the long tradition of the far Right versus the centrist to progressive Democratic Party. The “duopoly” this little essay is said to be against. This deeply false narrative is obvious to anyone who has kept up with social and political events of the last two years. Gillespie and Welsh’s thesis is deeply offensive in that regard. So are they living in a mental bubble or are they trying to appeal to people dumber than the average door knob. A look in the comments is informative in that regard. The Gillespie/Welsh bubble must be plentiful and cheap. The laws of supply and demand at work. I’m not going to Fisk the entire article. This last excerpt demonstrates a logical fallacy that runs through the entire essay,

It is worth taking a closer look at one case on Mr. Darby’s list: Kodak and Fujifilm. For much of the 20th century, Kodak was synonymous with color photography. Memories captured on film were “Kodak moments,” and the Dow Jones Industrial Average listed the company for more than seven decades. At one point it enjoyed an amazing 96% share of the U.S. market for film. Such was its dominance that the federal government sued Kodak for antitrust violations not once but twice, producing out-of-court settlements in 1921 and 1954.

Fujifilm began competing with Kodak globally in the 1970s and seriously in the U.S. after the 1984 Olympics. Though always the junior partner on Kodak’s home turf, the conglomerate held its own enough that the duopoly soon attracted academic studies. Their underlying assumption was that the duopoly would be stable for the foreseeable future.

But the studies were wrong. The share price of Eastman Kodak tumbled from $60 in 2000 to below the $4 mark by 2011.

What happened? Like many duopolies, Kodak and Fujifilm treated their customers like captives, forcing them to pay for pictures they didn’t want and steering them toward ever-pricier analog products. This worked as long as consumers had nowhere else to turn. But digital technology, as we know, changed all that, giving customers not just a Kodak/Fuji-free workaround, but the power to make, delete, alter and otherwise control their own creative product.

That example to prove their point about the evils of duopolies is from Larry F. Darby. Mr. Darby has passed away. It would be just as pretentious for me to speak for him as it was for Gillispie and Welsh to use his work in this laughable stretch of of an analogy between America’s political parties and two film companies. So first there was the monopoly Kodak. Than along came a competitor Fuji. Both companies are took a big hit by the beginning of digital technology. Most people do not even develop their pictures anymore, they just keep digital copies. If they want a print they can buy a film printer or send selected photos to be developed over the net. So event D(digital) followed event F( two film companies) thus two entities dominating an endeavor is proven to be bad. That is a post hoc argument if I ever heard one. Digital film came along via an improvement in technology so the growth of the communist party in North America is thus 1) inevitable 2) the best result for the public. Just substitute tea stains or Green Party or Constitution Party for communists. Gillespie and Welsh completely fail to tell us how the failure of the two film companies to perform in a certain way produced digital technology. They fail because one did not produce the other. The invention of a new technology lead to the downsizing of the two film companies. A lark. Unless they could produce proof the inventors of digital film camera, smart cards and associated technology were invented in order to bring down Kodak and Fuji( which both sell photographic paper, home printers and digital picture dispalys) they might as well have told us a story about a little girl and three bears and how  the moral of the story proves the dominance of our two political parties is not good for the country. That might be true, but two leading intellectuals of the libertarian movement failed to make that case. How is it these two wankers got some prime media real estate for this junior high level attempt at making their argument.

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Ayn Rand hated Ronald Reagan

1. The Presidential election of 1976. I urge you, as emphatically as I can, not to support the candidacy of Ronald Reagan. I urge you not to work for or advocate his nomination, and not to vote for him.