winged griffin sculpture, spanking and impact on vocabulary

Winged Griffin Nibbling on Sacred Tree, 8th-7th century BC (Neo-Assyrian). Levantine origins. Ivory & Bone.


If you’re a blogger, especially one with comments and you do not want to piss off your regular visitors, you do not write about two things, religion or how to raise children. Since I have been blogging long enough to have pissed off just about everyone I have nothing to lose, Spanking your kids could affect their vocabulary down the road

To spank or not to spank: For most American parents, it isn’t a question.

The majority of U.S. children have been spanked at some time in their life, despite a robust body of evidence that suggests spanking a child leads to problems in the future.

The latest evidence of the negative effects of spanking comes from researchers at Columbia University. After analyzing data from more than 1,500 families, they found that children who are spanked in early childhood are not only more likely to be aggressive as older children, they are also more likely to do worse on vocabulary tests than their peers who had not been spanked.

I have heard parents make good, if problematic arguments for at least a little corporeal punishment – much of it based on the parents being at a loss as to how to stop some bad behaviors. Though corporeal punishment may work to some extent, there also seems to be a price to pay. Perhaps some parents know that spanking produces resentment and hostility in their children, but see that as a good thing.



the philosophy of bull, burning down your house is not a reasonable demand

Man on Sidewalk in Front of Movie Poster

Man on Sidewalk in Front of Movie Poster, 1936. Walker Evans, photographer.

Bullshit, Politics, and the Democratic Power of Satire

In 2005, Harry Frankfurt wrote a monograph entitled On Bullshit and this work received a flurry of attention. At its core, Frankfurt argues that while lying is a misrepresentation of the truth, bullshit is a misrepresentation of the self, and an indifference to truth, which in his mind is worse than lying.

For all the attention it receives, outright lying is relatively rare in democratic politics. And when it does happen, politicians may pay heavy price. Bullshit, however, is all too common, produced not just by politicians, but pundits, and dare I say it, academics who study politics. And unlike lying, bullshitting is well rewarded.

The history of political thought presents us with possible parallels. In Gorgias, Plato warns us of the danger of rhetoric, and what he describes comes close, bullshit. On the other hand, he also argued that in certain respects lies could be noble. In a different context, George Orwell made important observations about the way abuse of language harms political discourse. The kind of abuses Orwell details fit nicely under the designation “bullshit”.

Plato and Orwell’s insights are especially relevant in democracy. Bullshit is more dangerous to democracy than lying. Unlike a lie, bullshit is destructive of even concern for the truth. Thus, in politics, it creates conditions where it is easier to present a lie as truth, and indifference to truth in public discourse renders public discourse impotent or worse. Even more destructively, it infects thinking. The corruption of language is bad enough, but even worse is the corruption of thinking. This is Plato’s insight into the problem with rhetoric, where the weaker argument can defeat the stronger.

Because of this, the exposure of bullshit is an important political duty. A most effective means for this is political humor, especially satire. Bullshit seems to be resistant to conventional modes of argumentation and dispute, but at its best, satire exposes the pretensions of the powerful.

The full paper is available as a PDF at the link. BS probably covers The Big Lie as well – Bush and the conservative echo chamber about WMD in Iraq and ties to al Qaeda. That Fannie May or Barney Frank caused the Wall Street collapse of 2007 would be another Big Lie and still part of the ongoing BS on some web sites. BS carries the same penalty as big lies. Once started the believer must continue in order to save face. To acknowledge a major falsehood requires both the moral courage to admit wrong and frequently the epiphany that one has invested a tremendous amount of ego, time and energy into something not morally defensible.

How conservatives think about compromise and the government shutdown

What conservatives want and how they think about compromise and the government shutdown.

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.,

space bike, wealth gives rise to a sense of entitlement and narcissistic behaviors

Spacelander Bicycle

Spacelander Bicycle. Designed by Benjamin Bowden for a 1946 exhibition of British industrial design. While this great postwar example of streamline futuristic design was a critical success at the exhibition, Bowden had a difficult time finding a manufacturer who would put it into production. By the time it found a manufacturer in the U.S. in 1960, much of the public’s taste in this kind of style had changed. Only around 500 were sold. Though now it is was of the most highly valued old bicycles on the market.

Study finds wealth gives rise to a sense of entitlement and narcissistic behaviors

According to a new study published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin this month, wealth tends to increase a person’s sense of entitlement, which in turn can lead to narcissistic behaviors.

Paul Piff of the University of California at Berkeley told PsyPost “there is something about wealth that gives rise to a sense of entitlement, a sense that one deserves more good things in life than others, which in turn gives rise to an increased or inflated sense of self-importance, vanity, grandiosity, and omnipotence (narcissism).”

“Narcissism is a multi-faceted and complex construct, but that wealth is specifically associated with it suggests that as a person’s level of privilege rises, that person becomes increasingly self-focused – in a sense, becoming the center of their own world and worldview,” he explained.

“The studies in the paper measure narcissism in a whole host of ways, including measuring how likely someone is to stare at their reflection in a mirror (wealthier people do that more often). Even students who come from wealth, but have done little to create their own wealth (yet), report more entitlement. This suggests that wealth shapes an ideology of self-interest and entitlement that’s transferred culturally from one generation to the next.”

This is obviously not always the case, some people with wealth turn out to be great humanitarians. For those people the Spiderman message about great powers  being coupled with great responsibility does sink in with some people. I’ve experienced this quite a bit. There is an attitude of entitlement over the phone or in person – do you know who I am – I want what I want, I want it now and I deserve it because I am a executive VP or a wealthy lawyer or banker. Very strange behavior, I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it.

beach walkway

beach walkway. I noticed this morning that the 6 am sunrises are gone and then along came the big yellow school buses. Summer will soon be gone.

This recent editorial is a good example of the culture of entitlement and narcissistic behavior that guides our economy, The Leveraged Buyout of America

According to legal scholar Saule Omarova, over the past five years, there has been a “quiet transformation of U.S. financial holding companies.” These financial services companies have become global merchants that seek to extract rent from any commercial or financial business activity within their reach.  They have used legal authority in Graham-Leach-Bliley to subvert the “foundational principle of separation of banking from commerce”. . . .

It seems like there is a significant macro-economic risk in having a massive entity like, say JP Morgan, both issuing credit cards and mortgages, managing municipal bond offerings, selling gasoline and electric power, running large oil tankers, trading derivatives, and owning and operating airports, in multiple countries.

A “macro” risk indeed – not just to our economy but to our democracy and our individual and national sovereignty. Giant banks are buying up our country’s infrastructure – the power and supply chains that are vital to the economy.

These assets – airports, toll roads, and ports; control power plants; and store and hoard vast quantities of commodities of all sorts – are being packaged as investment instruments, a bet on their future value, much like the collateralized debt obligations that contributed so much to the Great Recession of 2007. And their are doing it with your money, your deposits – the excess of deposits over loans – as collateral for borrowing. Once again making bets that they cannot pay, if like the housing market, values should go down.

mountain train wallpaper, the sequester has consequences, marriage is something the working class can no longer afford

mountain train wallpaper

mountain train wallpaper


Apparently Rupert Murdoch only believes in hiring editorial board members who have no use for math, WSJ’s Stephen Moore: Devastating Sequestration Cuts Are A “Success” Free Of “Negative Consequences”. There are people in the world who do not have to take off their shoes to do simple math, and even more math wizards here.

Train concourse, Union Station, Washington, D.C. Between 1905 and 1910

Train concourse, Union Station, Washington, D.C. Between 1905 and 1910.

Love And Work Don’t Always Work for Working Class in America, Study Shows

The decline and disappearance of stable, unionized full-time jobs with health insurance and pensions for people who lack a college degree has had profound effects on working-class Americans who now are less likely to get married, stay married, and have their children within marriage than those with college degrees, a new University of Virginia and Harvard University study has found.

The research, “Intimate Inequalities: Love and Work in a Post-Industrial Landscape,” will be presented at the 108th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association.

“Working-class people with insecure work and few resources, little stability, and no ability to plan for a foreseeable future become concerned with their own survival and often become unable to imagine being able to provide materially and emotionally for others,” said Sarah Corse, an associate professor of sociology in U.Va.’s College of Arts & Sciences and the study’s lead author. “Insecure work changes peoples’ non-work lives.”

The study was conducted through direct interviews and surveys with more than 300 working- and middle-class men and women in the U.S. The study participants were white, African-American, Asian, and Latino, between the ages of 18 and 70, and with a range of educational histories. They were married, single, divorced, cohabitating, and widowed, as well as non-parents and biological and adoptive parents.

The researchers found, generally, that educated middle-class workers are better able to recover from the destabilizing effects of insecure work than the working class, and therefore can seek and find stability in relationships.

“Marriage is becoming a distinctive social institution marking middle-class status,” Corse said.

People who are living in an unsecure and unstable situation have difficulty being trustful of possible partners because of the risk of betrayal, noted Harvard sociologist Jennifer Silva, Corse’s co-investigator, who earned her sociology Ph.D. at U.Va. They also find it difficult to meet material or financial obligations and may feel that the emotional and psychological commitment required by marriage is too great a demand on top of other challenges.

“Marriage has lost its relevance as a marker of adulthood,” said Silva, author of the book, Coming Up Short: Working Class Adulthood in an Age of Uncertainty, to be published in August by Oxford University Press.

People with college degrees, however, tend to work in stable jobs with better incomes allowing for the emotional and material commitment of marriage and having children within marriage. Middle- and upper-middle class people, as a result, express high expectations for their marriages, centering on self-fulfillment, deeply engaged parenting by both parents, and psycho-emotional awareness. They also “insure” themselves against marital complacency, conflict, and dissolution through private material and emotional “investments,” such as therapy and special “date nights,” Corse said.

According to Corse and Silva, wages for the non-college-educated have fallen dramatically in the United States as manufacturing work has been outsourced to other countries, greatly reducing the number of high-paying union jobs with good benefits.

Increasingly, the jobs available to those without a college degree are service-sector jobs, many of which are short-term and/or part-time and lack benefits, they said.

“These are foundational changes in the labor market for the working class and they broadly affect people’s lives,” they said. “Our interviewees without college degrees expressed feelings of distrust and even fear about intimate relationships, and had difficulty imagining being able to provide for others.”

College-educated middle-class workers, with material, cultural, and intellectual resources, are more resilient, however, when faced with the effects of possible insecure work in tough times, and therefore are more able to commit to marriage and to planning families.

In the U.S. almost everyone from people living in exclusive gated communities to people trying to get by on minimum wage and living with two roommates, describes themselves as middle-class. All these people might be middle-class culturally, but economically they are very far apart.

wrought iron

wrought iron blue wallpaper

wrought iron blue wallpaper


The late Bruce Chatwin, author of  what has become the itinerant travelers classic In Patagonia, once noted that it has been a relatively recent development for humans to seize being nomads. Sometimes we traveled hundreds of miles, sometimes a few dozen between our winter and summer camping grounds. In THE beginning as it were, we traveled and inevitably mixed. Then we started staking out territory and building cites and castles. If we are innately creatures of war, maybe the territorial annexing and invasions were inevitable. Or maybe they  where the result of a series of sociopaths who mislead large enough swaths of mankind to screw things up for the next couple dozen centuries. I tend to think it was the invasions and the growth of greed that lead much of humanity into being nativists of one kind or another. Those people over there, the for’ners, became the dirt. It does not really serve us well to think of it that way or cultivate cultures that demonizes the outsiders. The virtues of impurity in early modern England

If dirt is matter out of place, then according to Wolfram Schmidgen, impurity is matter just where it needs to be. His adventurous new book celebrates “mixture’s elusive otherness, in its out-of-placeness”. The famous phrase that Mary Douglas claims to have taken from Lord Chesterfield (though nobody seems to have traced it in the Earl’s letters) enshrined dirt as a “residual category”, but for Schmidgen mixture is at the heart of everything, a constitutive part of meaning in all cultural activity. Far from polluting, impurity creates a healthier state of being. Centrally here, its traces can be found “in the joint scientific and political struggles of the seventeenth century to displace ideas of order that privileged strong boundaries, clear forms and sovereign essences”.

Portrait of a Lady

Portrait of a Lady. c1460. Oil on panel.  Rogier van der Weyden (1399/1400 – 1464).

With 71 New ‘Tort Reform’ Conservative Legislators and Courts Are Making Criminal Conduct Legal For Corporations

For decades, ALEC has been a conduit for the oil, tobacco, and pharmaceutical industries to push legislation that changes the rules to limit accountability when a corporation’s products or actions cause injury or death — such as when a Koch Industries pipeline explodes and kills teenagers , or when the tobacco or pharmaceutical industries withhold evidence that their products are dangerous. In just the first six months of 2013, seventy-one ALEC bills that advance these “tort reform” goals have been introduced in thirty states…

Conservatives and libertarians like to speak in code. One of their code words or phrases is free enterprise. Translation: the freedom to behave without much moral responsibility. They also like to use the word regulation. Translation: Any legislation that keeps them from making more money, like limiting the amount of poison they can put into our lands and water supply, is communism or at least anti-capitalism. They generally do not entertain the complex consequences of the unregulated pursuit of money beyond any moral constraints or respect for democratic republican principles. Anyone who tries to introduce humanitarian considerations into the equation is the enemy. Billionaire Charles Koch on helping the poor: Eliminate minimum wages.

the day texas became more like iran, field meets the sky wallpaper

field meets the sky wallpaper, summer

field meets the sky wallpaper


Imagine one of them foreign countries, ya know where they ain’t got no common sense. Some banana republic, some Ubeckystan kind’a place. Some representative gets up in their capital and proposes some legislation that says the government should make personal health care decisions for its citizens to the point that the government takes away individual autonomy over their own bodies. because, you know, the government and this legislator’s invisible friend in the sky have decided this is the RIGHT thing to do. Of course that legislator, filled to over flowing with common sense and the divine knowledge of their invisible friend would know all there is to know about the simple biology involved in their proposal. Welcome to the mental state of Conservistan, located in Texastan, Texas Legislator Claims Rape Kits Are A Form Of Abortion

Texas Rep. Jody Laubenberg (R) sponsored several anti-abortion measures currently making their way to the Governor’s desk. Taken together, they would shut down the vast majority of the state’s women’s health clinics and criminalize abortions after 20 weeks. But in reasoning out why she did not support an exemption for rape victims in the 20-week ban, Laubenberg betrayed a woeful lack of information on the procedures a victim of rape undergoes — namely, the “rape kit,” which is used to collect data on the assailant and in no way relates to pregnancy:

When Rep. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, called for an exemption for women who were victims of rape and incest, Rep. Jody Laubenberg, R-Parker, explained why she felt it was unnecessary.

“In the emergency room they have what’s called rape kits where a woman can get cleaned out,” she said, comparing the procedure to an abortion. “The woman had five months to make that decision, at this point we are looking at a baby that is very far along in its development.”

The remark about rape kits, which is not accurate, sparked widespread ridicule on social media sites. Laubenberg, who has difficulty debating bills, then simply rejected all proposed changes to her bill without speaking until the end of the debate.

Rape kits are used to collect DNA evidence from the bodies of rape victims; after a victim enters a hospital, staff collect bodily fluid, residue under the victim’s nails, and any blood or hair samples that could be relevant for an investigation. Rape kits are in no way equivalent to an abortion.

Jody feels very deeply that ignorance and malevolence is indeed a good basis for ramming her legislative agenda down everyone’s throat, including forcing rape victims to carry the babies of rapists to full term. I do not have Jody’s address and I strongly advise against it, but one assumes that if Jody received regular instructions from the public inquiring about her uterus and vagina and what she should and should not do with those parts of her body, she would welcome such advice. Since she feels that her uterus and the uterus of every woman in America is the general public’s business, perhaps she could start sending out mailers and buy billboards and give everyone in  Texastan regular updates. Jody would feel right at home in Iran where the mullahs think much the same way. The mullahs are even called conservatives.

A secondhand clothing and pawn shop

A secondhand clothing and pawn shop and a cheap rate hotel. Memphis, Tenn. October, 1939.

If you like virtual traveling you might enjoy this post from one of the neighbors, Spanish Basque Country : the Atlantic coast ( 56 photos ).


Tumblr is not the only guilty party, but quotes are part of the Tumblr culture ( along with a few other quirks). Some quotes stand on their own, but many require context. Often they are repeated incessantly, draining then of their power. Often they seem to substitute for the quoter’s lack of imagination. Henry David Thoreau addressed this phenomenon and general poor habit 150 years ago,

It would be a truer discipline for the writer to take the least film of thought that floats in the twilight sky of his mind for his theme, about which he has scarcely one idea (that would be teaching his ideas how to shoot), faintest intimations, shadowiest subjects, make a lecture on this, by assiduity and attention get perchance two views of the same, increase a little the stock of knowledge, clear a new field instead of manuring the old; instead of making a lecture out of such obvious truths, hackneyed to the minds of all thinkers. We seek too soon to ally the perceptions of the mind to the experience of the hand, to prove our gossamer truths practical, to show their connection with our every-day life (better show their distance from our every-day life), to relate them to the cider-mill and the banking institution. Ah, give me pure mind, pure thought! Let me not be in haste to detect the universal law; let me see more clearly a particular instance of it! Much finer themes I aspire to, which will yield no satisfaction to the vulgar mind, not one sentence for them. Perchance it may convince such that there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamed of in their philosophy. Dissolve one nebula, and so destroy the nebular system and hypothesis. Do not seek expressions, seek thoughts to be expressed. By perseverance you get two views of the same rare truth.

If an excerpt counts, then I just broke the rule myself.