the economic superiority complex, wealth is considerably more heritable than genes

Police Dogs Attack Demonstrators, Birmingham, Alabama Protests]

Police Dogs Attack Demonstrators, Birmingham, Alabama Protests, 1963. Charles Moore, photographer.

Nozick: Libertarians are “filled…with resentment at other freer ways of being”

The Reactionary Mind:

Neither is conservatism a makeshift fusion of capitalists, Christians, and warriors, for that fusion is impelled by a more elemental force—the opposition to the liberation of men and women from the fetters of their superiors, particularly in the private sphere. Such a view might seem miles away from the libertarian defense of the free market, with its celebration of the atomistic and autonomous individual. But it is not.

One of the most insightful and concise definitions I’ve read of of what conservatism and con-libertarians are about. Things like religion do play a role. Regardless of what else it says in the Christian Bible about business and taxes, certainly Jesus Sermon on the Mount would take precedence. So conservative leaders twist what is in the Bible and deflect form the issue by claiming to know that their invisible friend really likes that Wal-mart pays less than a living wage and it is his will that business be run this way. Those conservatives that see any for’ners as a threat, are always inventing new threats and making existing ones much larger than they are. The far Right interpretation of religion and the pandering to paranoid minds both coalesce under what they see as their rightful place as everyone’s superior. The far Right has had this tendency in culture and economics since before the Civil War – Slave Capitalism.

Bread line at kitchen

Bread line at kitchen, 4th and Jefferson [streets], Feb. 1934. And related – Low Wages Cost Taxpayers A Quarter-Trillion Dollars Every Year.

Over the last couple years research suggests that genes alone are not destiny. How one – thus their genes interacts with the environment tends to have a large role. So may be it should not be that be a surprise that one’s economic status has much more to do with how well one’s life goes than genes, Wealth is considerably more heritable than genes. Policymakers who misuse genetics to argue a child’s fate is preordained are deliberately ignoring the effects of inequality

In his latest book, The Serpent’s Promise, Jones examines how nurture and nature are inseparably intertwined. The human genome project was for a while the modern version of eugenics, but Jones says it has disappointed those who thought it would reveal the destiny of physical traits, let alone psychological ones. “The more we learn about genes, the more important the environment appears to be.” Plomin spent years scanning top children for success genes, but never found them, says Jones. In life, “success and failure depend far more on the economic than the genetic accidents of birth”. Wealth is considerably more heritable than genes. The most equal nations with the best Gini ratings score the highest average intelligence.

Milburn’s report will pull no punches about unequal Britain. With destiny all but set by five years old, he wants redoubled investment in early years, targeting extra money at low-earning families: 500 Sure Starts have closed, many more are hollowed out, and a third of nurseries in poor areas are low quality….

…Teacher quality and status matter: in Finland, the leader of international league tables, teaching is first choice for the top 10% of graduates. Our top 20% of pupils do well, but our bottom 20% drag down UK results, as the shocking OECD report on basic literacy and numeracy shows.

If someone is lucky enough to be born into an upper middle-class family, even if they have slight below medium level intelligence, there is a built in safety net that makes sure they do not fail  – or at least not pay the way others do for failing. I remember a lot of the discussion about George W. Bush’s record in 1999. His supporters claimed he was a successful businessman. Not true in the least. He lead three business ventures into the ground. His family and their connections rescued him every time. yet many of these lucky people believe they are entitled to what they have regardless of the great advantages they started with. That lack of humility might be one of the biggest personality factors in public policy right now certainly, but for the last fifty years.

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yellow fall wheat wallpaper, the myths of free trade and growth

yellow fall wheat wallpaper

yellow fall wheat wallpaper

 

‘Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism’

Second, the way “infant” economies become “mature” economies is not via free trade. It never has been and never will be. Whether it be the mature economies of Britain (which began to seriously grow in the early 1600s), America (late 1700s), Japan (1800s), or Brazil (1900s), in every single case, worldwide, without exception, the economic strength and maturity of a nation came about as a result not of governments “standing aside” or “getting out of the way” but instead of direct government participation in and protection of the “infant” industries and economy.

The modern history of protectionist trade policies goes back to ancient Rome, stretches through the reigns of a series of King Henry’s in the UK, through Alexander Hamilton’s tenure as Secretary of the Treasury under George Washington, through the trade policies of Dwight D. Eisenhower and JFK, and continues today with China, Korea, the Middle East, and the rapidly-growing Brazilian economy.

[  ]…Once “strategic” and “important” industries are identified, government both encourages and protects their domestic growth in a variety of ways. These include subsidies, legal protections (like patent laws), import tariffs to protect against foreign competition, strong industry regulation to ensure quality, and development of infrastructure to ease manufacture, distribution, sales, and use of the product.

As Ha-Joon Chang points out in his brilliant book Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism,” in 1933 a clothing manufacturing company decided to branch out into the manufacture of automobiles. They had everything going against them – their nation had no really serious domestic auto industry, the company had no experience with the product, and other nations (particularly the US and Great Britain) were already making world-class vehicles that had captured most of the world’s markets.

But the company caught the imagination of its country’s leadership, and a ministry of trade decided to help it along. Government subsidies helped the company develop their first car. Decades of high import tariffs protected it from foreign competition as it grew into a serious contender. Domestic content laws both made sure the company used parts made within the country, and also guaranteed that domestic competitors would have to, thus building a strong base of domestic companies supportive of an auto industry, from tires to plastic components to precision machine tools and electronics.

In 1939 the country even kicked out both GM and Ford from sales within the country, and the nation’s single wholly-owned bank bailed out the struggling textile manufacturer as it moved relentlessly forward in the development of an automobile.

That company, originally known as The Toyoda Automatic Loom Company, is today known as Toyota, and manufactures the infamous Lexus that Tom Friedman mistakenly thought was successful because the world is “flat” and trade is “free.” In fact, the success of the Lexus (and the Prius and every other Toyota) is entirely traceable to massive government intervention in the markets by Japan over a fifty-year period that continues to this very day.

Like so many other words heard in everyday political speech, free trade has been a code word for some time. My neighbors think of it as this nice little system that means they can buy ham slightly cheaper at store X than at store Y. In reality it becomes the nice sounding grand old American tradition morphed into the right to ship jobs to Asia and hobble organized labor – though who object are Marxist radicals who do not want everyone to live up to their potential to be the next billionaire. Free markets is code for not allowing labor to have too much power because it takes away the freedom of rent-seekers to squeeze as much money as they can out of labor without paying them a living wage or simply taking the lion’s share of the profits created by someone else work, ideas, research or invention.

What’s That Smell?

Using advanced statistical techniques, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and Bates College have developed an approach to systematically describing smells.

This work may help guide future studies pertaining to how smells are represented in the brain. The research suggests that there are 10 basic categories of odor including fruity, minty, lemony—and sickening.

Senses such as hearing and vision can be discussed in terms that most people understand and that are tied to measurable physical phenomena. But the sense of smell, or olfaction, has thus far not lent itself to such a systematic understanding of what smells we perceive and how those perceptions relate to physical phenomena.

I’m amazed at how the brain, to an extraordinary degree, links smells with memory. Suede, which is probably partly a smell from the chemical tanning process, brings back very distinct sharp memories of someone I knew as a teenager. While some perfumes/colognes bring back other memories.

deflection from guilt is the rule, orwell plus huxley the new dystopia

Clochard and Posters, Paris. c1930. Gelatin silver print. Photographer André Kertész.

 NBC Sports Host Who Shot Elephant In Face Compares His Critics To Hitler. Makris: Elephant Hunting Critics Are Practicing “Animal Racism.” When people are caught doing something grossly immoral it is generally the case that they deflect. very seldom does someone caught doing something wrong, ironically, especially when there is a huge public outcry, to admit guilt and apologize. Politicians do so occasionally, but almost always with some hedging. Makris has jumped off the deep end with a bizarre counter attack. If he thinks that all animals should be killed in equal number that would mean we should kill as many elephants as we do cows ( about 300 million cattle, bison, sheep, hogs, goats, chickens, turkeys, and ducks in the U.S. every year). African elephants are all listed as threatened species and Indian elephants are critically endangered, so keeping the kill ration equal would mean the extinction of both populations of elephants within a year. He says the elephant fed people. Who exactly? Did a starving village ask him to go out and kill an elephant to fed them because they were unable to do so themselves. One also wonders how it is a fair comparison to say that those who object to the killing of an elephant are exactly the same as Hitler, a man and system of beliefs responsible for the mass murder of six million Jews. Plus a few million other civilians and military. So this Hitler would have taken a moment to see and hear a person kill an elephant and condemned him. Possible, but for obvious reasons, seems unlikely. If the elephant was killed to fed some starving Jews, communists, intellectuals or liberals – all of whom Hitler hated, that might be in the realm of believability. Is it possible that ten of thousands of people had moral objections to what Mr. Makris did because it was yet another cruel and completely unnecessary act in a world that is not suffering from a shortage of such acts. Makris and his supporters make the argument that since there is frequent killing in the world, what is one more. One could theoretically make the argument until the last one eyed man is standing.

Probably the 1946 issue.

N.S.A. Gathers Data on Social Connections of U.S. Citizens

Since 2010, the National Security Agency has been exploiting its huge collections of data to create sophisticated graphs of some Americans’ social connections that can identify their associates, their locations at certain times, their traveling companions and other personal information, according to newly disclosed documents and interviews with officials.

According to the I have Nothing to Hide So It is No Big Deal crowd on Twitter, this is just another big yawn. In George Orwell’s dytopian future the government uses various kinds of coercion and spying to keep everyone in line. While in Aldous Huxley’s dystopia the people are pacified with drugs and other form of pleasure inducement that make everyone either accepting or apathetic. It seems they were both right. The Nothing to Hides (NTHs) can watch cable, have a cold drink, order in some food, play with their smart-phone, all under the assumption by the government that they are suspects  – thus everything is fine.

* When people stop by to like a post I generally try to visit their blogs and leave a ‘like’ as well – both because i did like the post and as a kind of thanks. I have not had time to do that lately so I just wanted to thank all of you for stopping by.

about that one world government conspiracy, human gut brewery

Canadian Pacific Railway 4-6-2, March 1960. Gelatin silver print. D. Plowden.

Canadian Pacific Railway 4-6-2, March 1960. Gelatin silver print. D. Plowden. Part of that smoke is condensation from the cold, the other part  is coal ash, so only partly romantic nostalgia for the past.

If you grew up in the southern U.S. you grew up with ramblings about One World Govmint and the United Nations. That conspiracy theory is bone-headed in many ways, but one of the worse aspects is that it distracts from the reality that the people who believe it really are owned and help to perpetuate being owned, Exposing the Financial Core of the Transnational Capitalist Class

… people on the boards of directors of the top ten asset management firms and the top ten most centralized corporations in the world … [they find that] … there is a total of thirteen firms, which collectively have 161 directors on their boards … [and] … this group of 161 individuals represents the financial core of the world’s transnational capitalist class. They collectively manage $23.91 trillion in funds and operate in nearly every country in the world. They are the center of the financial capital that powers the global economic system. Western governments and international policy bodies work in the interests of this financial core to protect the free flow of capital investment anywhere in the world.

The writing is a little more breathless than I’d like. It is simply a matter of fact that a few people push the western economies the way they want. They wanted austerity – and they largely got it. many countries are having what Paul Krugman called a dead-cat bounce (a policy of simply shutting down half the economy for a year or two, then letting it start up again, is a smashing success)– the economies were is such bad shape that they had to inch above bottom eventually. Sure local legislators still pass laws that are propelled by local interests, but they are generally not that big an influence on the world economy. Though even locally conservative organizations like ALEC have had a big impact on the lives of average workers and their families.

North Star House

North Star House stairway, 1960. Architecture in the 20th Century. Volume III.

 

And dash of science, Auto-Brewery Syndrome: Apparently, You Can Make Beer In Your Gut

So the team searched the man’s belongings for liquor and then isolated him in a hospital room for 24 hours. Throughout the day, he ate carbohydrate-rich foods, and the doctors periodically checked his blood for alcohol. At one point, it rose 0.12 percent.

Eventually, McCarthy and Cordell pinpointed the culprit: an overabundance of brewer’s yeast in his gut.

That’s right, folks. According to Cordell and McCarthy, the man’s intestinal tract was acting like his own internal brewery.

Ordinarily the bacteria in your gut would kill most of the yeast, so this man may have some kind of medical condition that suppresses his gut bacteria.

the day after labor day

Alma Sewing

Alma Sewing, 1935. Oil on canvas. By Francis Criss. Criss, along with Charles Sheeler and Charles Demuth were part of the Precisionists movement. Viewers will have already noticed the clean graceful lines gives the painting an almost 3D appearance.

Protecting the Promise of Labor Day: Five Ways Workers are Under Attack

In 1897, President Grover Cleveland made Labor Day a federal holiday, reacting to pressure from unions following the contentious Pullman Strike.

Over the next century, unions fought to win all sorts of benefits for Americans, ranging from widespread employer-sponsored health care to reduced workdays. But this Labor Day, many of these hard-fought benefits are under attack:

Pensions: Thanks to federal reforms and labor activism, private sector pension plans proliferated in the twentieth century. In March of 1949, the National Labor Relations Board ruled that companies had to bargain with their unions over pensions. Walter Reuther – the famous United Auto Workers (UAW) leader who also addressed the 1963 March On Washington – demanded that Ford Motor Company offer retirement security in the form of pensions, and led his workers in a strike in order to win it. By September 1949, Ford agreed to a $100-a-month pension – a decision that had huge ramifications for pro-pension activism nationwide.

Today, pensions across the country are under attack. In 1979, 38 percent of workers in the private sector had access to a defined benefit plan. By 2010, only 15 percent had access to such a plan. Meanwhile in the public sector, both state and local governments continue to cut pensions even while handing out massive tax giveaways to corporations.

The Right To Organize: One right unions gave America is the ability to collectively bargain for better wages, benefits, hours and working conditions. In the 1950s more than a third of Americans belonged to unions; in 1952, there were 470 strikes involving 2.7 million workers. The recent wave of anti-union laws and aggressive anti-labor tactics by businesses has meant that far fewer Americans have been able to join a union. By the end of 2012 only 11.3 percent of Americans were unionized. Today, right-wing politicians have signed laws aimed at undermining collective bargaining in both the public and private sectors.

Income Equality: As unionization peaked in the middle of the last century, so did income equality. Incomes became “dramatically more equal in the 1940s” and “remained roughly stable through the postwar economic booms of the 1950s and 1960s.” But as researchers at the Center for American Progress found, as union membership decreased, the middle class’s share of national income shrunk at a similar rate.

Access To Health Care: “The rise of unions in the 1930s and 1940s led to the first great expansion of health care” for all Americans, as labor unions banded workers together to negotiate for health coverage plans from employers. In 1942, “the U.S. set up a National War Labor Board. It had the power to set a cap on all wage increases. But it let employers circumvent the cap by offering ‘fringe benefits’ – notably, health insurance.” By 1950, “half of all companies with fewer than 250 workers and two-thirds of all companies with more than 250 workers offered health insurance of one kind or another.” Today, corporations are cutting health benefits and fighting the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, which unions helped pass.

Fair Hours: In the late nineteenth century, unions started to call for an eight-hour workday, and on May Day in 1886, over 300,000 Americans went on strike for a shorter work day. Within decades, railroad workers won an eight-hour workday, and by the 1950s, most other workers had 40-hour weeks as well. Before this burst of labor activism, the average workweek for Americans was much longer — in 1870 it was 61 hours.

In the post-WWII era, the average American worker worked less hours than even a French worker, but the trend reversed itself in the 1980s and the last few decades have seen Americans working more for less. During the same time, productivity decoupled itself from wages, meaning Americans were working more hours while not necessarily reaping the benefits – likely another outcome of declining unionization.

While these attacks on workers and their rights have been incredibly damaging, there is reason for optimism. Last year’s massive Chicago teachers’ strike won a number of benefits for both teachers and students. As Allison Kilkenny documented, for the first time in modern American history, labor strikes are becoming a widespread tool for workers in the fast food industry – with strikes in dozens of cities this past week. As workers continue to organize to beat back attacks on American labor rights, they can turn to those workers in the fast-food industry for inspiration. “I know I’m risking my job, but it’s my right to fight for my deserve,” said Julio Wilson, a Little Caesars worker in Raleigh, North Carolina, who dreams of the day his $9-an-hour wage will be large enough to care for both himself and his daughter.

candlelight wallpaper, remotely controlled brain experiment works, the moral deficit of conservatism

candlelight serenade wallpaper

candlelight serenade wallpaper

 

Maybe because of recent news that an NSA employee used their position and authority to stalk an ex-spouse, I’m feeling a little more cynical about this news than I should, Researcher remotely controls colleague’s body with brain

On Aug. 12, University of Washington researcher Rajesh Rao sent the finger-flicking brain signal to his colleague, Andrea Stocco, in a demonstration of human-to-human brain signaling, according to a university announcement.

…A video of the experiment released on the lab team’s website shows Rao observing a cannon-firing video game while wearing an electrical brain-signal reading cap. By imagining his right finger flicking during the game, he triggered the actual motion in Stocco, who sat in a distant lab, wearing a cap designed to send magnetic stimulation signals to his brain. In effect, Rao’s thought was transferred across the campus, via the Internet, to trigger the motion in Stocco, who described it as feeling like an involuntary twitch, according to the announcement.

The development of sophisticated electronic surveillance and the ability to store vast quantities of data was also a great advancement in our national security toolbox. Many of as realize that technology has been badly abused. So there is little reason to believe that advances in directly controlled brain technology will not be abused as well. If only our ethical standards would keep pace with technology.

Starry Night

Starry Night, 1893 by Edvard Munch. Oil on canvas. An interesting contrast with Vincent Van Gogh’s painting The Starry Night. Munch is said to have been more interested in conveying the mood of the setting, or his mood anyway, rather than emphasizing the picturesque qualities.

Pennsylvania, Rep. Tom Marino (R) Tells The Elderly ‘We Do Not Have The Money’ To Fund Meals On Wheels

At a visit to the Meals on Wheels program headquarters in Monroe and Lackawanna counties in his home state of Pennsylvania, Rep. Tom Marino (R) said that he supports the program but that he is concerned with reducing long-term debt. While calling the funding of Meals on Wheels a “no-brainer,” he still said “I can’t stand here and tell you your agency won’t be cut.”

“It’s going to take two decades — even if we start now — to try to eliminate this debt,” he said. “Folks, we do not have the money. The revenue is not there. How are you going to pay for it?”

The executive directors of the program delivered comments written on paper plates from the low-income elderly recipients of the meals asking him to help end sequestration cuts and increase the program’s funding. The local programs haven’t had to reduce meal days yet, but Linda Steier, executive director of Meals on Wheels in the area, told the Pocono Record, “It’s looming large.”

Still, those programs are among the fortunate, as many others across the country have had to reduce the number of meals they serve, freeze new enrollees, shutter community centers, and furlough staff. In fact, nearly 70 percent report having to reduce their meals. All told, initial projections were that $41 million in federal funding for the program would be cut, resulting in as many as 19 million fewer meals served.

We, the gov’mint have enough money to pay Tom $179k a year, subsidize his and his family’s health care insurance with a gold plated plan. The deficit has gone down every year since 2009. So he is lying about having some kind of deficit emergency. If you grow old in the USA you’re entitled to the dignity and respect of having enough nutritious food to survive. Tom, who obviously has no interest in representing or respecting elder Americans not only feels differently, he feels so strongly about not feeding seniors he is willing to lie and exaggerate to not feed them or respect them. Tom has an emergency deficit. A deficit of basic morality.,

language and shaping perception, smart conservative cranks are still cranks

jean seberg in Breathless

jean seberg in Breathless

Does Language Shape What We See?

by Virginia Hughes

At this very moment, your eyes and brain are performing an astounding series of coordinated operations.

Light rays from the screen are hitting your retina, the sheet of light-sensitive cells that lines the back wall of each of your eyes. Those cells, in turn, are converting light into electrical pulses that can be decoded by your brain.

The electrical messages travel down the optic nerve to your thalamus, a relay center for sensory information in the middle of the brain, and from the thalamus to the visual cortex at the back of your head. In the visual cortex, the message jumps from one layer of tissue to the next, allowing you to determine the shape and color and movement of the thing in your visual field.

Just that piece of information would seem to imply that processing what we see is kind of modular. All this things are taken in a stream and the brain puts the pieces together in workman-like fashion.  Yet evidence suggest that other input plays a role, either simultaneously or is called on as more visual information is processed. memory may help recognize a visual field faster or may invoke perceptions based on emotions associated with memory so you see a blue box, but your friend sees a blue box and is sad or happy. Perhaps smell – one of the strongest senses for invoking memory affects sight. Worth a read with lots of information for a short article.

Couplet on Water and Flowers

Couplet on Water and Flowers, 1972, by Feng Kanghou  (Chinese, 1901–1983). I liked this just as a work of visual art. The signs and the basic contrast between white and black. Though it does have a literal meaning. Kanghou’s interpretation of a couplet from Hong Yingming’s (fl. 1596)

However rapidly water flows, it is always tranquil in itself.
Though their petals fall from time to time, flowers remain restful at heart.
If we could deal with daily affairs and people with this attitude, there would be no inner disturbances.
How carefree our bodies and minds would be!

There is some evidence – though not conclusive, that people who read books tend to be more moral.  Generally the more education someone has the less likely they are to be street criminals – though Wall Street bankers would suggest that there are clear exceptions for some criminal behavior. And women across all demographics commit fewer crimes than men.  Intelligence is frequently linked to better behavior, though a Arthur Conan Doyle knew, geniuses can be criminals. Reagan appointee  Adm. John Poindexter is said to be a genius, yet was neck deep in the Iran-Contra scandal. Still, it is unsettling that someone with a Ph.D. is a crank, Oregon’s GOP Chair Wants to Sprinkle Nuclear Waste From Airplanes

After months of in-fighting, the beleaguered Oregon Republican Party elected a new chairman last weekend. His name is Art Robinson, and he wants to sprinkle radioactive waste from airplanes to build up our resistance to degenerative illnesses. Robinson, who unsuccessfully ran for Congress against progressive Rep. Peter DeFazio in 2010 and 2012, took over after the previous chair resigned in advance of a recall campaign over her alleged financial mismanagement.

Robinson, who has a Ph.D. in chemistry, has marketed himself for the last three decades as an expert on everything from nuclear fallout to AIDS to climate science in the pages of a monthly newsletter, Access to Energy, which he published from his compound in the small town of Cave Junction.

…On nuclear waste: “All we need do with nuclear waste is dilute it to a low radiation level and sprinkle it over the ocean—or even over America after hormesis is better understood and verified with respect to more diseases.” And: “If we could use it to enhance our own drinking water here in Oregon, where background radiation is low, it would hormetically enhance our resistance to degenerative diseases. Alas, this would be against the law.”

I minored in chemistry. A common, though admittedly not hilarious joke is that if chemists were really smart they would have majored in physics. Hormesis is a real phenomenon, many vaccinations are indirectly based on that theory. It means stimulation by the use of a low concentration of a toxin. There is no, and I mean no evidence that exposure to low levels of atomic radiation increases human resistance to radiation poisoning. He also believes that AIDS was a government invention cooked up to experiment with various kinds of “social engineering, especially in the public schools.” And he reminds of Nobel prize winner William Shockley in his views on race, On diversity: The white-male imbalance at his alma mater, Cal Tech, Robinson argued, was due to the fact that “its applicants are weighted toward those who seek severe, difficult, total-immersion training in science—an experience few women and blacks desire.”