black and white plane hanger, attacks on freedom of the press, peace heart tattoo

Continental Can hangar, Morristown Airport, New Jersey

Continental Can hangar, Morristown Airport, New Jersey. 1952. Gottscho-Schleisner, Inc., photographer.

Continental Can hangar, Morristown Airport, New Jersey

Continental Can hangar, Morristown Airport, New Jersey.1952. I just liked the contrasts and the pattern of the hangar ceiling.

 The Demi-God of Conservatism, Internationalist Rupert Murdoch: Journalism’s Jack the Ripper

The scenario that should truly alarm and depress the rest of us is the one that many have posed as the salvation of these papers: a Tribune Company takeover by Rupert Murdoch. While one group of Los Angeles businessmen is interested in buying the LA Times, they have no interest in the package of eight. That leaves Murdoch. And while resistance to a Koch purchase among editors and reporters is strong enough to convince the new owners that they might be buying an empty shell, the attitude toward a Murdoch takeover is quite the opposite. When, during a meeting of the entire staff, LA Times columnist Steve Lopez asked those assembled to “raise your hand if you would quit if the paper was bought by Rupert Murdoch,” only a handful reportedly did so (compared with about half of the staff when the Koch purchase was proposed). Similarly, one member of the Baltimore Sun staff wrote Jim Romenesko that “Murdoch, at least, is a newsman,” a view that was echoed nearly word for word by a Chicago Tribune journalist: “Murdoch, for all his flaws, is a newspaper man.”

True, but by the same logic, Jack the Ripper was a lover of the ladies. Murdoch may be a “newspaper man,” but he is surely not a man who respects honest journalism or even the laws of society as they apply to it (or much else, for that matter). Just in the past few weeks, Murdoch has been making news in the following ways:

He paid out $139 million to settle a class-action suit by News Corp. shareholders, who accused the board of directors of putting the Murdoch family’s interests above those of the company with regard to both the British phone-hacking episode—one of the most egregious criminal scandals in the history of journalism—and News Corp.’s sweetheart acquisition of his daughter Elizabeth’s television production company. The lawsuit alleged that the board “disregarded its fiduciary duties” and allowed Murdoch to run News Corp. as his “own personal fiefdom.”

Eric Alterman’s larger point was that while the wacky Koch brothers may buy eight newspapers as outlets for their radical propaganda, and many journalists at those newspapers are upset at the idea, they feel less objection to Rupert. Wealthy plutocrats using the media to push their agenda is not new – see William R. Hearst (1863-1951). Though more than ever they are not just ruining the media, they’re smearing the basic concept of journalism. Journalist as unbiased watchdog for the people. We don’t have time to hang around Congress and report on what they do. We don’t have the resources to fly out to a mine disaster, or oil rig explosion to report on how, who and why. Many people have turned to the internet – one of the reasons newspapers print readership is down. Though bills sponsored by corporate interests keep coming up in Congress. How long before the gates of the internet are rigged to point people in certain directions for their news. Or in the worse case scenario, any site that questions the status quo and corporate power, is gated off completely. Even if the Kochs or Murdoch lose money they don’t care ( Eric says the Kochs will care). They make enough money in simple interests to pay for the loses. In the mean time, while conservative media has only limited success, mostly preaching to the choir, they can muck up the truth enough to eck out those tiny electoral victories and advance their legislative agenda.

peace heart tattoo

peace heart tattoo. i added the dust and scratches.

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time for a cultural shift in the food and retail business, carol highsmith photographs

The subtitle to this amazing essay – Sustainable food makes no sense when restaurants pay only sustenance wages – may sound like the beginning of a tirade against the local or sustainable food movement, but it is really about some structural issues in the restaurant business and retailing. Both industries employ millions of people. Very few of those people make a living wage.

That career has spanned eleven years, during which I’ve worked as a prep cook, fry cook, pantry cook, grill cook, pastry chef, and baker. The least I’ve made was $7.50 per hour; the most was $13.50. To be a line cook and eventually a chef you must submit to the hell that is the professional kitchen: long hours, low pay, no breaks, no respect. As you advance up the line, the work gets harder and the responsibility increases while the pay does not. An entry level line cook job starts at as low as $8 an hour and tops out at around $15. (In 2011, the national median wage for line cooks was $10.61, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.) If you want to make more, you have to advance up to a management position such as sous chef or chef de cuisine. Even then, the pay is going to be around $16 to $18 an hour and is not likely to top $23. I never advanced to the top of the pay scale, mostly because the added hours and stress those jobs demanded never seemed quite worth the pay. The last sous chef I worked under was all-consumed by work. You could see in his leering eyes that he was in a constant state of caffeinated fatigue. I didn’t want that.

When I was growing up and still today I hear that if you work hard, have good work ethic – on time, few missed days, put in the extra effort, you’ll make a living and get ahead. Simply not true for a large part of the U.S. work force. Like this gentleman, you might eventually make a decent living, but only if you work yourself into the ground for years. And not everyone is suited for management. There is such a thing as management skills, but they are not so valuable that they should be prized over the day to day work skills of the people who make it possible for management to even exist. He mentions a possible solution,

If people working in the kitchen are to earn an actual living wage, fine dining restaurants will have to charge twice as much they already do. In other words, if I am to be paid enough for me to feel valued as an employee, the cost of dinner is going to have to go way up, to the point where it is inaccessible for the average person — for me — to eat there. When you’re in the industry you get around the hurdle of high prices by knowing people: Your friends at other restaurants “hook you up” or “style you out” when you visit. But there’s no guarantee of being hooked up. I don’t know everyone at every restaurant, and I’m only in luck if Joey happens to be working the night I happen to go out. In the end, affordability and fair pay in the restaurant are mutually exclusive. The only solution to this contradiction that I can imagine is an operation where the money goes directly to the worker: for example, an owner-run food cart, or a fine dining establishment structured as a worker-owned co-op.

The food and retail industry would be best served – in terms of doing the greatest good for the greatest number of people if most of it were structured as a co-op. To make that kind of paradigm shift would make herding turtles in a hurricane seem easy. If I started my own restaurant – that is a common conservation topic – i would not mind at all structuring it so that employees from dishwashers to wait staff to cooks become part owners. To have a self directed staff – where as much as possible the chain of management is flat – not like the current very steep pyramid. Maybe I would make a little less money, maybe more, who knows, over the life time of the business. In the interim everyone involved got to have a life. They get to take pride in what they do, be self motivated and largely self directed and reap the rewards. I can’t take the money with me, but I could leave a nice humanitarian capitalism  legacy.

abandoned travel agency, san antonio, texas by carol highsmith

abandoned travel agency, san antonio, texas by carol highsmith. this photo was taken around 2005. there were some efforts underway to revitalize this neighborhood that was very vibrant back in the 1950s-60s.

A mural on the side of a grocery store located on the West side of San Antonio, Texas.

A mural on the side of a grocery store located on the West side of San Antonio, Texas. also by Carol Highsmith.

tattoo collage

tattoo collage. the individual snips all have a little artsy Photoshop texture and color enhancement.

The Real Rationale for the 2nd Amendment, That Conservatives Are Totally Ignorant About

The reality was that the Framers wrote the Constitution and added the Second Amendment with the goal of creating a strong central government with a citizens-based military force capable of putting down insurrections, not to enable or encourage uprisings. The key Framers, after all, were mostly men of means with a huge stake in an orderly society, the likes of George Washington and James Madison.

President George Washington, as Commander-in-Chief, leading a combined force of state militias against the Whiskey Rebellion in 1794.

The men who gathered in Philadelphia in 1787 weren’t precursors to France’s Robespierre or Russia’s Leon Trotsky, believers in perpetual revolutions. In fact, their work on the Constitution was influenced by the experience of Shays’ Rebellion in western Massachusetts in 1786, a populist uprising that the weak federal government, under the Articles of Confederation, lacked an army to defeat.

As far as I’ve read, the conservative freak-out is all about some modest new restrictions like closing the gun show loop hole and bringing back the assault weapons ban that George W. H. Bush signed into law. While Parry writes a good article I don’t this rational arguments will go far to convince people that worship fire arms the way ancient tribes worships idols.

one of the greatest unknown scientists, native tribal tattoo, secretive bankers and derivatives

Who decided to call dinosaurs, dinosaurs and  founded the world’s greatest natural history museum – Richard Owen: the greatest scientist you’ve never heard of

In 1861, William Gladstone, the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, stood up in the House of Commons and paid tribute to a man he called a “splendid genius”, and the world’s greatest living naturalist. Yet today, Professor Richard Owen may be remembered as the first superintendent of the Natural History Museum in South Kensington, but for little else.

In fact, when listing his achievements, it is hard to know where to start. Elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1834, at the age of 30, he was a comparative anatomist with an extraordinary range and depth of knowledge in zoology, biology and palaeontology. He described and named an astonishing number of creatures new to science, and published more than 600 books and papers on subjects as diverse as the duck-billed platypus and the gorilla. It was Prof Owen who gave the name “dinosaur” to the order of great extinct reptiles that were then being discovered.

Owen’s greatest legacy is the Natural History Museum, but he was also an adviser to governments, reported on environmental health issues and was awarded more than 100 honours – including a knighthood. He was a famous lecturer, tutored the royal children in science and was awarded a grace-and-favour home by Queen Victoria. His friends included Charles Dickens, Sir Robert Peel and Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

Actually it is difficult to say which is the best natural museum in the world. The British Natural History Museum opened its doors in 1881 while the American Museum of Natural History started in 1861 and opened in 1877. Roy Chapman Andrews (January 26, 1884 – March 11, 1960) – who few have ever heard of was either, one of the American Natural History Museum’s closely associated paleontologist/naturalists and one of several scientists who inspired the Indiana Jones character. The AMNH broke new public science ground when it opened the “Hall of the Age of Man” 1921 ( now called The Bernard and Anne Spitzer Hall of Human Origins). It was the first science exhibit in the U.S.A. which explored human evolution.

native tribal tattoo. this is an exaggerated or corruption of a native American design. Because it is both distorted and the eyes given a more realistic quality than one actually finds in native symbol art it is difficult to say what tribe it came from. it reminds me of both Alaskan native symbols and Mayan.

Haida tribal symbol. This symbol from the Haida – an indigenous nation of the Pacific Northwest Coast of North America – has the kind of imaginative exaggerated eyes and beak of the kind used in the tattoo.

This report from just five days ago – A Secretive Banking Elite Rules Trading in Derivatives

On the third Wednesday of every month, the nine members of an elite Wall Street society gather in Midtown Manhattan.

The men share a common goal: to protect the interests of big banks in the vast market for derivatives, one of the most profitable — and controversial — fields in finance. They also share a common secret: The details of their meetings, even their identities, have been strictly confidential.

Drawn from giants like JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, the bankers form a powerful committee that helps oversee trading in derivatives, instruments which, like insurance, are used to hedge risk.

In theory, this group exists to safeguard the integrity of the multitrillion-dollar market. In practice, it also defends the dominance of the big banks.

The banks in this group, which is affiliated with a new derivatives clearinghouse, have fought to block other banks from entering the market, and they are also trying to thwart efforts to make full information on prices and fees freely available.

Banks’ influence over this market, and over clearinghouses like the one this select group advises, has costly implications for businesses large and small, like Dan Singer’s home heating-oil company in Westchester County, north of New York City.

This fall, many of Mr. Singer’s customers purchased fixed-rate plans to lock in winter heating oil at around $3 a gallon. While that price was above the prevailing $2.80 a gallon then, the contracts will protect homeowners if bitterly cold weather pushes the price higher.

But Mr. Singer wonders if his company, Robison Oil, should be getting a better deal. He uses derivatives like swaps and options to create his fixed plans. But he has no idea how much lower his prices — and his customers’ prices — could be, he says, because banks don’t disclose fees associated with the derivatives.

“At the end of the day, I don’t know if I got a fair price, or what they’re charging me,” Mr. Singer said.

Derivatives shift risk from one party to another, and they offer many benefits, like enabling Mr. Singer to sell his fixed plans without having to bear all the risk that oil prices could suddenly rise. Derivatives are also big business on Wall Street. Banks collect many billions of dollars annually in undisclosed fees associated with these instruments — an amount that almost certainly would be lower if there were more competition and transparent prices.

Like capitalism and incorporation there is nothing wrong in the basic concept of derivatives. Derivatives are a form of insurance. As long as the company issuing the derivative has the assets to actually pay off if the bet goes sour – like betting on fuel oil prices, housing prices or commodities. During the housing bubble the derivatives sellers and traders were betting they would never have to pay off, the housing bubble would last forever. Here we are in a jobless recovery and it seems some of the same delusional thinking and arrogant traders are back at the same game. Republicans are fighting enforcement of the oversight passed in the financial reform bill. The banks are relying on them to keep as much secret as possible. One of the frequent and inane defenses of the worse parts of the Patriotic Act was the assertion that if you are not doing anything wrong you have nothing to hide. It is largely the same people who are fighting for the banks right to hide from competition and transparent prices. A corruption of capitalism, financial corporations and derivatives. Just as there are two Americas there are proponents of two kinds of capitalism. There are those who favor as much competitiveness, transparency and basic ethical standards as possible and then there are conservatives and their corporate collectivism which they sell as bright and shiny free market snake oil. How many stomach aches does America have to have before it stops buying the snake oil.

wisdom is humble that he knows no more, henna star tattoo, infidel of every denomination

Whether research into happiness – what it is exactly, what makes people happy, does it have roots in our biological evolution or is striving for happiness mostly a phenomenon of culture, is difficult enough. Research into wisdom will probably yield just as much perplexing information. Words to the Wise: Experts Define Wisdom – Survey identifies central, unifying characteristics – and how wisdom differs from other traits

[   ]… In fact, there is no enduring, consistent definition of what it means exactly to be wise.  It is a virtue widely treasured but essentially unexplained, a timeless subject only now attracting rigorous, scientific scrutiny.

[  ]…Phase 1 of the survey revealed significant group differences among the concepts on 49 of 53 statements. Wisdom differed from intelligence on 46 of 49 items, and from spirituality on 31 items.

In Phase 2, the definition of wisdom was further refined by focusing upon 12 items from the Phase 1 results.  Most of the experts, Jeste and Meeks said, agreed that wisdom could be characterized thus:

It is uniquely human.

It is a form of advanced cognitive and emotional development that is
experience-driven.

It is a personal quality, albeit rare.

It can be learned, increases with age and can be measured.

It is probably not enhanced by taking medication.

The survey was conducted using the Delphi method, developed by the RAND Corporation in the 1950s and based on the principle that forecasts from a structured group of experts are more accurate than those from unstructured groups or individuals. The paper’s authors identified 60 recognized experts on wisdom in the world, focusing upon those outside their own institutions. The nominees were required to have at least two peer-reviewed publications on wisdom or spirituality, though the number of total publications was not the sole criterion for selection.

Rene Descartes, even though he included a spiritual aspect was of the opinion that knowledge was the foundation of wisdom. What one perceives must be sifted thoroughly. The knowledge won from careful deliberation – at times to the point of personal torment – produced wisdom. Great profundity, yet Descartes felt that some supreme other worldly being was the font of ultimate wisdom. A wisdom difficult to obtain because of the “illusions” and impermanence of this physical world. Emanuel Kant on the other hand believed that wisdom could only be found via the supremacy of reason. Any conclusions that skimped on reason were faulty by their nature. Wisdom than, just like reason, must be objective. A simple majority may not come up with wisdom by the subjective winds of emotion. Something found to be wise by way of a rule formulated by reason and knowledge will always be wise. Kant’s wisdom contains the implication there is such a thing as pure reason. Less problematic than imaginary friends of channeling wisdom from a nether world, but that formulation is probably outside the realm of pure empirical truths. Knowledge might be hard to grasp and has a less humane quality about it. It has little regard for people’s feelings or consequences. Often times people feel threatened or insulted by knowledge. While wisdom has a softer edge. William Cowper (1731-1800) wrote,

Knowledge, a rude unprofitable mass,
The mere materials with which wisdom builds,
Till smoothed and squared and fitted to its place,
Does but encumber whom it seems to enrich.
Knowledge is proud that he has learned so much;
Wisdom is humble that he knows no more.

Conflating wisdom and age is also questionable. Listen to the lyrics of Beatles songs like ‘When I’m Sixty-Four’ written by Paul McCartney when he was sixteen or “Eleanor Rigby” when McCartney was only 24. Both contain a prescience and insight about life that is easily found lacking in people middle-aged or older. On the other hand seniors are more apt to take an interest in public policy and vote. Those seniors literally make decisions, the consequences of which ambivalent youth will have to live with.

natural as a spring breeze. Maher on Limbaugh’s oil remarks: ‘You know what, you dipsh*t? Mercury’s natural too’

In the midst of a panel discussion on the massive BP oil spill that’s contaminated the Gulf of Mexico in recent weeks, Maher took aim at Republican radio personality Rush Limbaugh, who only days prior whipped up a firestorm of rhetorical controversy by claiming that such pollution is “natural” and will simply go away.

“That’s right, a petrochemical stew is very natural to wetlands,” Maher scowled. “You know what, you dipshit? Mercury’s natural too, but you don’t put it in your Cheerios.”

The people who make their living either directly or indirectly from the Gulf of Mexico would also disagree with Limbaugh who is 59.

Sarah Palin, 46 years on this planet, can count Iranian fundamentalist among her ideological brothers – American Law Should Be ‘Based On The God Of The Bible And The Ten Commandments’. In his autobiography, Thomas Jefferson wrote about the Virginia Act for Religious Freedom:

“Where the preamble declares, that coercion is a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, an amendment was proposed by inserting “Jesus Christ,” so that it would read “A departure from the plan of Jesus Christ, the holy author of our religion;” the insertion was rejected by the great majority, in proof that they meant to comprehend, within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mohammedan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination.

In a letter to Edward Livingston, 10 July 1822, James Madison echoed Jefferson’s sentiments:

“And I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in shewing that religion & Govt will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.”

They both believed in a creator and attended religious services on occasion, but both were believers in the watch maker theory of the universe. The watch maker put all the parts together and stepped back to let creation manage itself.

henna star tattoo. those thinking of getting one for a party or special occasion like a wedding should know they’re not like tempt tattoos. depending on various conditions henna tattoos can last for weeks. some interesting designs here.

parenting and political priorities, summer ghosts, late labor day

Study: Parenthood Makes Moms More Liberal, Dads More Conservative

Parenthood is pushing mothers and fathers in opposite directions on political issues associated with social welfare, from health care to education, according to new research from North Carolina State University.

“Parenthood seems to heighten the political ‘gender gap,’ with women becoming more liberal and men more conservative when it comes to government spending on social welfare issues,” says Dr. Steven Greene, an associate professor of political science at NC State and co-author of the study. Greene and Dr. Laurel Elder of Hartwick College used data on the 2008 presidential election from the American National Election Studies to evaluate the voting behavior of men and women who have children at home. Parents who have grown children were not part of the study.

“Basically, women with children in the home were more liberal on social welfare attitudes, and attitudes about the Iraq War, than women without children at home,” Greene says, “which is a very different understanding of the politics of mothers than captured by the ‘Security Mom’ label popular in much media coverage. But men with kids are more conservative on social welfare issues than men without kids.” Men with kids did not differ from men without kids in their attitudes towards Iraq.

Greene also notes that, “despite media speculation that Sarah Palin, given her status as a self-proclaimed ‘Hockey Mom’ and working mother of five, would be effective at attracting the votes and admiration of parents, especially mothers, the research showed no evidence of a ‘Sarah Palin effect’ (between parents and non-parents), even when looking exclusively at Republicans.” Greene explains that this means there was no difference in how parents viewed Sarah Palin versus how non-parents viewed Sarah Palin.

The researchers evaluated the effect of parenting on voting behavior because parenthood has become increasingly politicized in recent decades. For example, Greene says, the Republican party identified itself as the “family values” party during the 1990s.

Greene and Elder had previously looked at similar data for elections going back through 1980, and their new research shows that the trend is strengthening for men with children to become more conservative, while the trend for moms to become more liberal is holding steady.

“It appears that the Democratic position, that government has a role in addressing social problems, appeals to women with children,” Greene says, “Whereas men with children are drawn to the Republican arguments that government should not play a major role on social welfare issues.”

Greene presented the research, “‘Mortgage Moms’ and ‘More Responsible Fathers’: Parenthood and Issue Attitudes in the 2008 Presidential Election,” at the American Political Science Association’s annual meeting in Toronto

One can understand that since women are more physically and physiologically attached to their children through the process of pregnancy and the act of childbirth they might have a clearer picture of how fragile life is in general. She has a clear goal to rise a child to the best of her ability, especially considering the biological investment. So if a little help from society is required to see the child through up to the point of leaving the nest then she is not going to let false pride get in the way.

The fact that men with or without children view Iraq in a similar way might provide some insight into what happens with males and the onset of fatherhood. Testosterone and murky visions of machismo – protecting mother and child against the world kicks in. Even if rejecting help might lower the chances of juniors success in leaving the nest. Regardless of outcomes for the child, he must be seen as the tough provider. Going without – whether its nutrition or insurance, is just a way of showing junior a taste of the perceived harsh real world. men seem to take the short view and woman the benefits of the long term.

Like all sociological studies this one looks at trends. There is going to be a fair amount of deviance from the mean from individual to individual. I’ve witnessed quite a few families where dad was the nurturing liberal and mom the by the book Sargent major.

summer ghosts

A little late for a Labor Day column, but Micheal’s Lind’s observations cannot be said enough. A few hours a week of watching Fox and reading conservative web sites are witness to the delusion that great wealth is created because wealthy people work so darn hard, Who are the wealth creators? – The right says the answer is rich people, not workers — who are wealth destroyers

Today is Labor Day, when we celebrate the wealth destroyers – at least if the libertarian right is to be believed.

According to many free-market conservatives, economic growth is almost exclusively the result of investment decisions by a small number of rich individuals – the “wealth creators.” The wealth creators, according to the conservative press, are constantly being threatened from above by government, which seeks to destroy wealth by taxation, and from below by workers, particularly those organized into unions, who threaten to destroy wealth by insisting that capitalists share a decent amount of their profits with employees. The entire basis of conservative “trickle-down” economics is the idea that the economy will grow faster if the supposed wealth creators keep more of the profits of private enterprise, with less going to taxes and worker compensation.

Wealth creation is not magic, it comes about by the work of others. The next great idea for some gizmo that people feel that must have has to be engineered, made, sold, distributed, repaired and recycled by labor.One small factor missing from our economy and the way we teach how a free market system should operate is humility. Its a small thing that has had huge negative repercussions for American workers and accelerated the abuse of our natural resources. Executives at corporations like Exxon really do believe they are entitled to hundreds of times the compensation of their employees and the holy writ is quarterly profits, not doing what is right and fair.

intricate tribal tattoo

college and subversion, the conservative war on history, carla gugino’s ankle tattoo

Thinking back to elementary school and my first memories of learning history, it was my perception that historical events and outcomes had an inevitability about them. Partly my fault, but no small part of blame goes to history text books that are watered down and contain oft repeated inaccuracies. People and events take on a foggy fairy tale quality, just ripe for idolatry. It did not take long for me to figure out that western civilization is composed as much of resistance to change as it is revolutions and progress. Progress and enlightenment are incredibility slow in comparison to the leaps in knowledge made through science, mathematics and philosophy. What takes the masses so long to catch up. This lag time is not a quaint issue of our our past. From a recent Gallup Poll,

As far as you know, does the earth revolve around the sun, or does the sun revolve around the earth?
Earth revolves around the sun     79%
Sun revolves around the earth     18
No opinion                                        3

That 79% is great. Politicians of any persuasion dream of approval numbers that high. Yet in a nation of approximately 320 million that 18% represents about 58 million people. Education is the key. Or maybe not, Study shows how college major and religious faith affect each other

College students who major in the social sciences and humanities are likely to become less religious, while those majoring in education are likely to become more religious.

But students majoring in biology and physical sciences remain just about as religious as they were when they started college.

[  ]…The authors theorize that three powerful streams of thought interact with choice of college majors to amplify the impact on religiosity. These are science, developmentalism (the belief in progress), and postmodernism (the belief that everything is relative).

“There are important differences among the college majors in world views and overall philosophies of life,” Kimball said. “At the same time, students recognize to some degree the differences among majors and chose a major based, at least in part, on religiosity.

“Our results suggest that it is Postmodernism, not Science, that is the bête noir of religiosity. One reason may be that the key ideas of Postmodernism are newer than the key scientific ideas that challenge religion. For example, religions have had 150 years to develop resistance or tolerance for the late 19th century idea of Evolution, but much less time to develop resistance or tolerance for the key ideas of Postmodernism, which gained great strength over the course of the 20th century.”

The notion that colleges are hotbeds of subversive intellectualism takes hit. Those that tnded not to be dogmatic tend to stay that way or become less so. Those that religious, though not necessarily politically conservative tend to stay away from fields of study that challenge their beliefs. I remember that my science instructors rarely spoke in terms that were a direct assault on religion. Literature on the other hand, paradoxically, like the writings of religious figures like Martin Luther and Thomas Aquinas, along with studying writing directly from religious texts made one aware of contradictions in those writings. Contradictions, inconsistencies and phenomenon that do not correspond to modern experience tend to raise doubts about absolute transcendence. A science instructor can teach about Brownian motion, the first law of thermodynamics or the theory of gravity and still not be cultivating doubt in one’s religious beliefs. At least not to the point where they cannot be rationalized away. Also note the researchers remark “religions have had 150 years to develop resistance”. One of mankind’s more dubious gifts, the ability to resist progress by way of making up some convoluted apologetics for facts that do not fit one’s beliefs. Real progress  does not seem to march forward, but takes tiny steps with frequent setbacks.

first autumn wallpaper

I was reading this post Revisionist History, Texas Style – at Bad Attitudes about the Texas State Board of Education and their desire to properly indoctrinate high school students, “Texas high school students would learn about such significant individuals and milestones of conservative politics as Newt Gingrich and the rise of the Moral Majority — but nothing about liberals.” The conservative mindset sees the injection of of dubious figures as a continuation of the history as a hierarchy of great persons. Such conservatives may not get the desired effect. Not that such strong possibilities will persuade them otherwise. One of the commenters mentions this book by Richard Rosenfeld, American Aurora

For reporting on certain congressmen’s less than professional behavior (spitting, insults, etc), congress bars the paper from the floor of both houses. The Aurora gets shoved into the balconies of congress, far above the whispers of congressman that Bache so often reported on without approval from the House Speaker. Congress marks the Aurora as a troublemaker. This begins the first section of the book, where the Aurora accuses president Adams of wanting to be king of the United States. More than mere conjecture or metaphor spurned this accusation. Adams presented his idea of “titles” to Congress on May 9, 1789. He suggested a verbose title for the president: “His Highness, the President of the United States of America and Protector of the Rights of the Same.” Along with this, he proposed that the president and all senators should hold their offices for life. These ideas deeply disturbed Bache, and the exposure of Adams’ goals became a predominant goal of his paper. In addition, Bache accused the Adams administration of purposefully alienating France. The Aurora and other news sources of 1789 reported on the terrifying prospect of a French invasion of the United States. It never happened, and Bache yelled foul from his printing press. The more he yelled the more the Adams administration responded. The Sedition Act, supposedly created to silence the Aurora, came before Congress and passed in 1789. On top of that the the Alien Bill also passed, which enabled the president to deport any illegal alien without trial. Bache argued the unconstitutionality of both Acts. The inevitable arrest came soon after. Bache posted bail for trial for indictment under the Sedition Act.

President Washington, Jefferson and other founders mentioned in the book have been reduced to faint impressions in our modern text books and thus the public mind. Many already know Newt as the corrupt philanderer. A truth that he is not likely to shake with time. He’s already what BA refers to as a plastic icon. Let’s say a nice glossed up portrait of Newt or Phyllis Schlafly makes it into the history texts. Not all kids take well to being indoctrinated. What’s the teacher’s supposed to  reply to questions about Newt’s pay for play shenanigans or when they ask why Schafly thinks its a woman’s place to be servile to men.

carla gugino’s butterfly ankle tattoo Her Wikipedia page.

war and propapganda, those zany conservatives, evan rachel wood’s ankle tattoo

Historian Brewer pens timely book on American war propaganda

Susan Brewer, professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, published a book, “Why America Fights: Patriotism and War Propaganda from the Philippines to Iraq,” that scrutinizes American war propaganda in six wars, beginning with the Philippines War to today’s Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“When Americans are called upon to fight, they want and deserve to know what they are fighting for,” said Brewer. “While Americans deserve truthful reasons for armed conflict, which is not necessarily how official government propaganda has historically appealed to Americans, the ongoing debate over our nation’s invasion of Iraq is a case study unto itself on how propaganda is used at the highest corridors of power.”

Its also fascinating, in the way that horrific train wrecks are fascinating, how easy it is to manipulate the public. At least in the short term. Once the propaganda is embraced by the public, the propagandist can for the most part relax. The only thing required is the odd boiler plate speech invoking patriotism, god, threats to national security and puppies. The mob and its pundits then takes over, propelling the steaming BS forward. From a review of  “Why America Fights: Patriotism and War Propaganda from the Philippines to Iraq” at Amazon,

“Marshalling compelling evidence, Susan Brewer documents the rhetorical strategies by which the U.S. government, often with the complicity of the media and key opinion-molding groups, has mobilized popular support for every major U.S. conflict from the Spanish-American war to the invasion of Iraq. Well written and deeply researched, this timely work should be read by all those concerned with issues of war and peace and with how propaganda can coarsen and debase civic discourse on vital public issues.”–Paul Boyer, editor of The Oxford Companion to United States History.

tugboat

And a few short takes, Like Your Private Health Care? Here’s Why You Can Actually Thank the Government for That

At a recent town hall meeting, a man stood up and told Representative Bob Inglis to “keep your government hands off my Medicare.” The congressman, a Republican from South Carolina, tried to explain that Medicare is already a government program — but the voter, Mr. Inglis said, “wasn’t having any of it.” It’s a funny story — but it illustrates the extent to which health reform must climb a wall of misinformation. It’s not just that many Americans don’t understand what President Obama is proposing; many people don’t understand the way American health care works right now.

I’m not sure which is worse, the guy that does not realize that Medicare is like a government run co-op which he paid into during his working life or the people that believe President Obama is advocating “euthanasia.”( from this article – Talk Radio Campaign Frightening Seniors). Medical care is important, but maybe it would help if people thought of it as simply utilitarian. Its something everyone is going to need eventually, you know since we’re not perfectly designed. We all chip in, we all get medical care and then go about our lives with one less thing to worry about. Canada has done it and not dropped into Satan’s death grip.

I’m not the first one to notice that looking back over the last fifty years and certainly the last eight that conservatives had taken a head dive into an empty pool. Even a year could anyone have guessed that yes, they could get loonier, Glenn Beck Fan, Highly Armed, Busted For Casing National Guard Base, Thinking It Was A “FEMA Camp”. Snark aside this young woman apparently has a history of emotional problems and lets all hope that she gets the help she needs. In contrast, Beck, who seems to have some cognitive issues of his own has a cable show soapbox and paid millions to behave like a gorilla that has just been tasered.

And because its the weekend and life is too serious to be….

evan rachel wood’s ankle tattoo

While I was spelling checking her name I noticed she has a Wikipedia entry. It says she might do a movie based on the lesser known of the Bronte sisters, Anne. Her back tattoo is here.