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.