ows is not the paris commune redux, roller coaster wallpaper, vocal fry

I wonder about conservative intellectuals. For one, do they not understand the conflicting evidence they use to support their thesis. That’s jumping ahead. Do they check to see if their thesis is valid in the first place. James Panero compares OWS to the Paris Commune – Commune plus one. The Commune ruled Paris for three months from March of 1971 until May of 1871 to . How many months has OWS ruled, as in established some kind of governing body of any part of the country. Zero. he states correctly that the Commune was made up of self-styled anarchists and socialists. It is true that some of the OWS have identified themselves under the same labels, but they seem to be a small part of the OWS movement. he consulted exactly one OWS site that stated its pretty nebulous goals. He could have used this survey for at least a little more solid ground – OWS: 70 percent of the survey’s 1,619 respondents identified as politically independent, compared to 27.3% Democrats and 2.4% self-identified Republicans.

Wealth varies widely
A full 15.4% of the sample reported earning annual household income between $50,000 and $74,999. Another 13% of the sample reported over $75,000 , and 2% said they made over $150,000 annually, putting them in the top 10 percent of all American earners, according to the Wall Street Journal’s calculator. That said, 47.5% of the sample said they earend less than $24,999 dollars a year and another quarter (24%) reported earning between $25,000 and $49,999 per year. A whopping 71.5% of the sample earns less than $50,000 per year.

Highly educated
92.1% of the sample reported “some college, a college degree, or a graduate degree.”

They have jobs
50.4% reported full-time employment, and “an additional 20.4% were employed part-time.”

An awful lot of capitalists for a group that is supposed to be analogous to the Paris Commune. Panero writes,

The Commune was born in a moment not unlike our own. After the extravagant Second Empire of Napoleon III came crashing down in the Franco-Prussian War, the establishment of the Third Republic left French radicals with unrealistic expectations for the new government. “A majority of the Republicans in the 1870s proved to be more conservative than they had been under the Liberal Empire, even less interested in social reform than before,” writes Roger L. Williams in his French Revolution of 1870–1871.

He acknowledges that the Commune was born after the disarray caused by a war of imperialistic expansion and sees the OWS movement as rising out of “a moment not unlike own”. Iraq could be described as imperialistic and what started out as an international law enforcement issue in Afghanistan, turned into a botched victory precisely because of shifting focus and resources to Iraq. That things lead to a weaker econnomy and those costs contributed to the deficit, but he does not draw that line. The OWS movement itself started as a response to huge gaps in wealth distribution ( most of the pie the nation made went to the top 1%), the fact that Wall Street was bailed out of its financial problems but nothing was done for homeowners who went underwater on their mortgages or were forced into foreclosure or were not allowed to renegotiate new mortgage terms. The housing market and highly volatile trades in CDOs had nothing to do with the Commune. The Commune was very violent. The vast majority of violence assisted with the OWS has been caused by police – with corporate interests and spineless politicians behind the scenes. The Paris Commune was also paranoid about two things. Both of them with some degree of justification. In admittedly fuzzy terms the Commune wanted a “the democratic and social republic!” – specifics about what that is can get contentious, but then as now the same general sentiment applies – a government that respects individual rights yet is representative of the people. Thus their concerns that there might be a return to monarchical rule ( a possibility since a monarchist majority had been elected to the General Assembly in 1971). In weakened state militarily the Commune was also concerned that the Germans would attack. I have not heard such fears – which fueled some of the paranoid behavior of the Commune voiced by OWS. They seem mostly concerned about so much power being invested in and exercised by an unelected body of people – Wall Street in general, but more specially big banks and corporations. Those general sentiments are not the stuff of paranoid conspiracy theories. Much of the legislation written at the state and federal level is written by corporate America. I could write another thousand words on how OWS and the Paris Commune have so little in common as to make any analogies ridiclous, but even with this short passage most will the obvious. Panero goes on to add some interesting trivia about the Comune and the artist  Gustave Courbet. Having only proved that he has acess to the internet or a few history books he than concludes he’s got those rascally OWSers,

For those of us who watch from the sidelines, the Occupy Wall Street movement may appear sympathetic to our own concerns. At the very least, it seems to offer a safety valve for others to vent their frustrations. Yet the history of idealistic occupations suggests this will also end poorly, with a polarized public and the movement collapsing in ruin.

Like the Commune, Occupy Wall Street is about the perfection of itself rather than the reform of others. This is a reason that the Occupationists differ from other protesters who go home at the end of a long march. For the Occupation, the tents do not come down until perfection is attained or destroyed.

That is what Panero declares after he quotes Lord Elton from “The Revolutionary Idea in France: 1789–1871”, “The Commune was revolutionary not because of what it did but because of what it claimed.” Which might be the only legacy of the OWS. That it made a statement that a lot of people feel in various forms – that something went terribly wrong. That of all the Gross National Product the labor of America produces they are getting crumbs. That when the 99% fail – in the case of this Great Recession through no fault of their own, that they don’t get a bail-out. That the 1% are leeching off the labor of the 99%. That those in America with great wealth have broken the grand bargain to pay society back with good public universities, with good infrastructure, with a job that pays a living wage. The Commune, with all of its terrible excesses did leave a legacy of a democratic republic. If OWS leaves nothing but a new national consciousness about fairness and economic justice, well that really will piss off people like Panero. Which is what his thesis is really about and something he could have written in a few lines without all the pseudo-intellectual padding.

An interesting news item that adds a dimension to OWS that has been lacking – in terms of public image thus far – Meet the Financial Wizards Working With Occupy Wall Street
A motley group of Wall Street insiders wants to help the protest movement bring real reform to America’s financial system
. I relate this many of the sentiments expressed in that story because I want a capitalism that works. It would be a capitalism that is not for and by the plutocracy, it would be about people pursuing their dreams, about stability for families, about rewarding work, discovery and creativity, and not just wealth and power for wealth’s own sake.

roller coaster wallpaper

Higgs boson seminar: have physicists found the ‘god particle’?I’ve read a couple of bloggers claim they have found the Higgs boson particle. That is not the case. It looks as though they have gotten very close to confirmation and CERN might announce that confirmation today. maybe not.

Although the Higgs boson grabs headlines – unsurprising, given its nickname, the god particle – it is important only because its discovery would prove there is an invisible energy field that fills the vacuum throughout the observable universe. Without the field, or something like it, we would not be here.

Scientists have no hope of seeing the field itself, so they search instead for its signature particle, the Higgs boson, which is essentially a ripple in the Higgs field.

According to theory, the Higgs field switched on a trillionth of a second after the big bang blasted the universe into existence. Before this moment, all of the particles in the cosmos weighed nothing at all and zipped around chaotically at the speed of light.

When the Higgs field switched on, some particles began to feel a “drag” as they moved around, as though caught in cosmic glue. By clinging to the particles, the field gave them mass, making them move around more slowly. This was a crucial moment in the formation of the universe, because it allowed particles to come together and form all the atoms and molecules around today.

One of the best layman’s explanation of the Higgs boson I’ve read. The discovery would explain, at least in physical terms why there is such a thing as existence at all.

nature patterns, plants, light

green leaves spiral

Vocal fry: “creeping in” or “still here”?

A curious vocal pattern has crept into the speech of young adult women who speak American English: low, creaky vibrations, also called vocal fry. Pop singers, such as Britney Spears, slip vocal fry into their music as a way to reach low notes and add style. Now, a new study of young women in New York state shows that the same guttural vibration—once considered a speech disorder—has become a language fad.

There is some anecdotal evidence for vocal fry in men, usually younger men. Its has been around longer than some commenters and researchers are suggesting. Watch what is now unintentionally funny movie by a very young Nicholas Cage called Valley Girl (1983). Rachel Maddow has a video of Kim Kardashian’s vocal fry.

Aimee Mann – Freeway