what is real and everything for sale, browse your life, blue translucent wallpaper

What Isn’t for Sale?

• A prison-cell upgrade: $90 a night. In Santa Ana, California, and some other cities, nonviolent offenders can pay for a clean, quiet jail cell, without any non-paying prisoners to disturb them.

• The services of an Indian surrogate mother: $8,000. Western couples seeking surrogates increasingly outsource the job to India, and the price is less than one-third the going rate in the United States.

• The right to shoot an endangered black rhino: $250,000. South Africa has begun letting some ranchers sell hunters the right to kill a limited number of rhinos, to give the ranchers an incentive to raise and protect the endangered species.

And you’ll need money to buy the stuff that is for sale. You can start by selling yourself,

• Serve as a human guinea pig in a drug-safety trial for a pharmaceutical company: $7,500. The pay can be higher or lower, depending on the invasiveness of the procedure used to test the drug’s effect and the discomfort involved.

• Fight in Somalia or Afghanistan for a private military contractor: up to $1,000 a day. The pay varies according to qualifications, experience, and nationality.

• Stand in line overnight on Capitol Hill to hold a place for a lobbyist who wants to attend a congressional hearing: $15–$20 an hour. Lobbyists pay line-standing companies, who hire homeless people and others to queue up.

According to the author of that article and some other observers I have read over the years, we’re in the golden ascendency of the Reagan/Thatcher age where if the market wants something, the market decides whether to provide it, not government – the people by proxy. So pretty much everything is for sale, including government. Government respond far more quickly and with generosity to those at the top of the market pyramid than it does to the average office or construction workers.

Economists often assume that markets are inert, that they do not affect the goods being exchanged. But this is untrue. Markets leave their mark. Sometimes, market values crowd out nonmarket values worth caring about.

When we decide that certain goods may be bought and sold, we decide, at least implicitly, that it is appropriate to treat them as commodities, as instruments of profit and use. But not all goods are properly valued in this way. The most obvious example is human beings. Slavery was appalling because it treated human beings as a commodity, to be bought and sold at auction. Such treatment fails to value human beings as persons, worthy of dignity and respect; it sees them as instruments of gain and objects of use.

nature, blue, translucent

blue translucent tree branches wallpaper

Microsoft Builds a Browser for Your Past

Software called Lifebrowser processes photos, e-mails, Web browsing history, calendar events, and other documents stored on a person’s computer and identifies landmark events. Its timeline interface can explore, search, and discover those landmarks as a kind of memory aid.

“The motivation behind Lifebrowser is that we have too much stuff going on in our personal digital spheres,” says Eric Horvitz, the distinguished scientist at Microsoft who created Lifebrowser. “We were interested in making local machines private data-mining centers [that are] very smart about you and your memory so that you can better navigate through that great amount of content.”

Lifebrowser’s interactive timeline looks like a less polished version of Facebook’s recently introduced Timeline feature. However, Horvitz’s design predates Facebook’s and doesn’t rely on a user to manually curate it. Photos, e-mails, and other documents and data points appear in chronological order, but Lifebrowser’s timeline only shows those judged to be associated with “landmark” events by artificial intelligence algorithms. A user can slide a “volume control” to change how significant data has to be if it is to appear on the timeline. A search feature can pull up landmark events on a certain topic.

Horvitz, who has nearly 20 years of his personal data loaded into Lifebrowser, gave Technology Review a demonstration. For instance, searching for a person’s name made it possible to find the first e-mail that person had sent Horvitz, way back in 1997. Alongside it, Lifebrowser displayed photos from a significant family event that occurred at around the same time, aiding a fuller recollection of the period.

Privacy issues aside for the moment One can see how amazing it would be to transform your computer into an instant archive of your life. In its own crude way – compared to Lifebrowser – Google’s Picasa does something like this with the media on your PC. When I used to use Picasa I was amazed that a particular picture was ten years old. That some pictures, ones given to me by others went back years. I had a chronology of all the media I stored and viewing some it, which I had forgotten about, brought back memories of what I was doing and the things I had a special interest in at the time. Like digitally thumping through a scrapbook that displayed the date for every scrap.

Very moving personal story, ‘We Have No Choice’: One Woman’s Ordeal with Texas’ New Sonogram Law. There is nothing moral about the principles of conservatism put into practice. In practice it is like some medieval torture belt that makes it impossible for a human being to live their life. It is the antithesis of liberty.

Stanton Warriors ‘Turn Me Up Some’

Stone Temple Pilots – Vasoline

One time a thing occurred to me
What’s real and what’s for sale?
Blew a kiss and tried to take it home

Isn’t you, isn’t me
Search for things that you can’t see
Goin’ blind, out of reach
Somewhere in the vasoline

stopping oppression is the new oppression, the ghosts of The Scarlet Letter live on

Telegram to President Kennedy from South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond September 30, 1962

larger view

The entire telegram is four pages – the rest are at the link. This is a transcription of most of page three see above,

The current situation in Mississippi illustrates clearly
the dangers of usurpation of power by the national government
and also the possibilities of oppression which exist for people
under the rule of a powerful central government.

I urge that you desist from further actions to impose, in
this case, unconstitutional will of the national courts
in the people of Mississippi.

Thurmond was a conservative. This portion of the telegram – written 49 years ago displays much of the same kind of reasoning ( a very generous interpretation of the term) still used by conservatives and libertarians today. It also displays either a remarkable lack of knowledge about Supreme Court and other legal precedents or Thurmond was intentionally making a dishonest argument. Marbury v. Madison (1803) was a supreme court case that obviously very early in the history of the union decided that the SCOTUS decided what was to be the supreme law of the nation, not individual state courts. In Texas v White it was decided that the U.S. was, among other implications of the ruling, a union, not a loose confederation of states. The Civil War itself also decided that state’s rights had limits. “Oppression” for who? Conservatives have most recently used this bizarre take on rights and freedoms regarding discrimination against female employees and access to contraception. Thurmond was arguing, just as the conservatives advocating unequal access to health care, that stopping them from infringing on the rights of others is an infringement on their right to oppress people., i.e. stopping oppression or stopping the oppressors is a form of tyranny.

Nathaniel Hawthorne as photographed by Mathew Brady. Mathew Brady Studio (active 1844–1883)
Albumen silver print. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. On March 16,1850 Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel “The Scarlet Letter” was published. Hester Prynne is not the pure victim or the pure sinner. She is a complicated character that embodies much of human pride, ignorance, strength and longing. The way many people reacted to her is still a common form of petty spiteful judgement that does not accomplish much except to make the sanctimonious hypocrite have a false sense of superiority. Something we have seen recently in the “shaming” by conservatives of Sandra Fluke, or any woman who uses contraception for that matter. NPR has a very good and concise write-up of “The Scarlet Letter” in which we can recognize what might have seemed like old, dry and outdated social norms in our high school readings, is still very much alive,

Hester Prynne, protagonist of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s masterwork The Scarlet Letter, is among the first and most important female protagonists in American literature. She’s the embodiment of deep contradictions: bad and beautiful, holy and sinful, conventional and radical.

At first glance, Hester may seem more victim than heroine. The adultery she committed when her husband was thought lost at sea leads Boston’s Puritan authorities to brand her with the bright red “A” of the title. She’s forced to stand in shame before the mass of Puritan citizens, enduring their stares, their whispers and their contempt. In the self-righteous eyes of the townspeople, she is the ultimate example of sin.

Hester Prynne is also the object of a cruel and shadowy love triangle between herself, her minister lover, Arthur Dimmesdale, and her husband, now called Roger Chillingworth.

“The drama is really the drama of the patriarchial society’s need to control female sexuality in the most basic way,” says Evan Carton, literature professor at the University of Texas, Austin. “This classic male anxiety: How do you know for sure whether your baby is yours? If you don’t know if your woman and your child are actually yours, then you have no control over property, no control over social order, no control over anything — and that’s the deep radical challenge that Hester presents to this society.”