Collection of

counting from infinity to zero, backwards,

you don’t know where to begin.


Oh how the Lord does hammer

“Do you think the use of torture against suspected terrorists in order to gain important information can often be justified, sometimes be justified, rarely be justified, or never be justified?”

CNN Poll:

White evangelical Protestants were the religious group most likely to say torture is often or sometimes justified — more than six in 10 supported it.

People unaffiliated with any religious organization were least likely to back it. Only four in 10 of them did.

25% said torture is never justified.

Morality becomes a license.

All Incubate Are Us

H1N1 has been around a long time.
1918 flu resulted in current lineage of H1N1 swine influenza viruses

Protecting Flag Vessels

Maersk Captain Richard Phillips at Senate Foreign Relations CommitteeMaersk Captain Richard Phillips testifying to Congress:

… the four most senior officers should be armed, or,

… military detachments should be aboard U.S. vessels, or,

… the U.S. Navy must escort U.S. merchant vessels.

“First, I believe it is the responsibility of our government to protect the United States, including U.S.-flag vessels that are by definition an extension of the United States, their U.S. citizen crews, and our nation’s worldwide commercial assets.

“So, it follows then that the most desirable and appropriate solution to piracy is for the United States government to provide protection, through military escorts and/or military detachments aboard U.S. vessels. That said, I am well aware that some will argue that there is a limit to any government’s resources – even America’s.”

We’ve become crops?

Rant at the Economic Populist:

Economic Populist blogWe need a new economic system because the old has failed. American Capitalism has failed so many people in so many ways.

We need to transform our economy to one that works for the most people possible.

We need a new form of capitalism.

What is the state of American capitalism today? As Professor James Galbraith has stated American capitalism is not what we are told by politicians, media or textbooks: benign competition leads to a greater good for most people. We are far from that.

The defining feature of American capitalism today is predation – where a class of people – the oligarchs – feed off the demise of people not within this class. This oligarchy, or as Professor Galbraith calls them the predatory class, has control over the government and the capital in our economic system.

Hubbub and Hullaballoo

Christopher Locke commemorating Cluetrain’s 10 years:

Did we fall asleep? Just for a little while.

We only have a little while to live. Such a precious time to be here. Wherever here is. To see each other and this awesome, incredible world. So let us not talk falsely now. Let us be what we truly are, which is human, and try to get our heads and hearts around what that might conceivably mean.

Favors out in the open

Earmarks policy evolves under Obama:

These principles begin with a simple concept: Earmarks must have a legitimate and worthy public purpose. Earmarks that members do seek must be aired on those members’ websites in advance, so the public and the press can examine them and judge their merits for themselves. Each earmark must be open to scrutiny at public hearings, where members will have to justify their expense to the taxpayer.

Next, any earmark for a for-profit private company should be subject to the same competitive bidding requirements as other federal contracts. The awarding of earmarks to private companies is the single most corrupting element of this practice, as witnessed by some of the indictments and convictions that we’ve already seen. Private companies differ from the public entities that Americans rely on every day –- schools, and police stations, and fire departments.

When somebody is allocating money to those public entities, there’s some confidence that there’s going to be a public purpose. When they are given to private entities, you’ve got potential problems. You know, when you give it to public companies — public entities like fire departments, and if they are seeking taxpayer dollars, then I think all of us can feel some comfort that the state or municipality that’s of benefit is doing so because it’s going to trickle down and help the people in that community. When they’re private entities, then I believe they have to be evaluated with a higher level of scrutiny.

Furthermore, it should go without saying that an earmark must never be traded for political favors.

And finally, if my administration evaluates an earmark and determines that it has no legitimate public purpose, then we will seek to eliminate it, and we’ll work with Congress to do so.

Distributing illness

The list of difficult issues on our human agenda seems to increase, wot?

Q&A on swine flu with virus hunter Nathan Wolfe:

“We’ve created a perfect storm for viruses”

“For most of our history, we lived in geographically disparate populations. So viruses could enter from animals into humans, spread locally and go extinct. But the human population has gone through a connectivity explosion.

Romance through a surgical mask“All humans on the planet are now connected to each other spatially and temporally in a way that’s unprecedented in the history of vertebrate biology.

“Humans — as well as our domestic animals and wild animals we trade — move around the planet at biological warp speed.

“This provides new opportunities for viruses that would have gone extinct locally to have the population density fuel they need to establish themselves and spread globally. … we’ll continue to see … a whole range of new animal diseases as outbreaks in human populations. …

“Right now, global public health is like cardiology in the ’50s — just waiting for the heart attack, without understanding why they occur or the many ways to monitor for them, detect them early and ultimately prevent them.”

How did swine flu enter into the human population?

Swine flu has been known since at least the early part of the 20th century, since the 1930s. It was originally a virus of bird origin — all influenza viruses were originally bird viruses — and it probably spread to humans before it was in pigs.

A fine reply

Charlie Rose asks Bill Gates, “Do you have a role model?”

He answers, “I’d have to say Warren Buffet.” Charlie asks, “Why?”

Bill answers, “Because of his thoughtfulness, integrity, and joy.”

Now We All Hereby Proclaim

Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release April 28, 2009


NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim April 28, 2009, as National Equal Pay Day.

I call upon American men and women, and all employers, to acknowledge the injustice of wage discrimination and to commit themselves to equal pay for equal work.

Shareholder and Securities Fraud

There’s a lot of noise, many charts, too many bullies, and Mike Stathis continues to separate his points:

Throughout this debacle, I have made accusations against the executives of the major financial institutions, claiming they intentionally made bad loans and sold them off to naive investors.

They did this of course to boost earnings, which automatically boosted their bonuses.

Let me reiterate. The executives of every single large financial institution (as well as some medium-sized ones) engaged in shareholder and securities fraud. And due to the response from Washington, one could argue that our political leaders are guilty of taxpayer fraud.

Connect the dots.

new days of science

President Barack Obama pledged Monday to return the United States to a “high water mark” of scientific achievement, announcing a goal to commit three percent of GDP to research and development. [physorg]

“At such a difficult moment, there are those who say we cannot afford to invest in science, that support for research is somehow a luxury at moments defined by necessities.

“I fundamentally disagree. Science is more essential for our prosperity, our security, our health, our environment and our quality of life than it has ever been.

Citing a plunge in federal funding of physical sciences over the past 25 years, Obama warned that US achievement, particularly science and math study, dramatically lagged in the late 20th century — and threatened to fall even further behind other rapidly advancing nations.

“I believe it is not in our American character to follow, but to lead. And it is time for us to lead once again.”

Obama also declared a need to end the politicization of scientific research, a charge he has leveled at the Bush administration.

“We are restoring science to its rightful place.

“Under my administration, the days of science taking a back seat to ideology are over.”

north American flu

The term swine flu is wrong.

The World Organization for Animal Health said the virus is of swine, avian and human components… in fact, a cocktail of four different strains.

“The virus has not been isolated in animals to date. Therefore, it is not justified to name this disease swine flu.

“The avian strain is of American origin, and of the two swine strains, one is American origin and the other appears to be Asian. The human strain is American.

“There is no proof that this virus, currently circulating among humans, really is of animal origin. There is no element to support this.”

The strain may further mutate as it is transmitted among humans, and, in addition, humans may infect pigs rather than the other way round.

Karl Rove strips flu system

Republicans stripped $900 million in flu pandemic preparedness funds from the stimulus bill and refashioned the budget so that state and local emergency services get nothing.

Positioning for deeper tax cuts, Karl Rove complained that “$462 million for the Centers for Disease Control and $900 million for pandemic flu preparations” is wasteful spending. Tax cuts are not.

House and Senate Republicans bet that they would be able to score their political points without any life or death consequences… but how do so-called free markets manage flu pandemics?

Victory Over Torture Day

Name: Charles Pierce
Hometown: Newton, MA

Yeah, right.

I have now lived through three major episodes in my life where the political elite have told me quite plainly that neither I nor my fellow citizens are sufficiently mature to suffer the public prosecution of major crimes committed within my government.

The first was when Gerry Ford told me I wasn’t strong enough to handle the sight of Richard Nixon in the dock. (Ed. note–I would have thrown a parade.) Dick Cheney looked at this episode and determined that the only thing Nixon did wrong was get caught.

The second time was when the entire government went into spasm over the crimes of the Iran-Contra gang and I was told that I wasn’t strong enough to see Ronald Reagan impeached or his men packed off to Danbury. Dick Cheney looked at this and determined that the only thing Reagan and his men did wrong was get caught and, by then, Cheney had decided that even that wasn’t really so very wrong and everybody should shut up.

Now, Barack Obama, who won election by telling the country and its people that they were great because of all they’d done for him, has told me that I am not strong enough to handle the prosecution of pale and vicious bureaucrats, many of them acting at the behest of Dick Cheney, who decided that the only thing he was doing wrong was nothing at all, who have broken the law, disgraced their oaths, and manifestly belong in a one-room suite at the Hague. Not to put too fine a point on it, but I’m sick and goddamn tired of being told that, as a citizen, I am too fragile to bear the horrible burden of watching public criminals pay for their crimes and that, as a political entity, my fellow citizens and I are delicate flowers encased in candy-glass who must be kept away from the sight of men in fine suits weeping as they are ripped from the arms of their families and sent off to penal institutions manifestly more kind than those in which they arranged to get their rocks off vicariously while driving other men mad.

Hey, Mr. President. Put these barbarians on trial and watch me. I’ll be the guy out in front of the courtroom with a lawn chair, some sandwiches, and a cooler of fine beer. I’ll be the guy who hires the brass band to serenade these criminal bastards on their way off to the big house. I’ll be the one who shows up at every one of their probation hearings with a copy of the Constitution, the way crime victims show up at the parole board when their attacker comes up for release. I’ll declare a national holiday — Victory Over Torture Day — and lead the parade right up whatever gated street it is that Cheney lives on these days.

Trust me, Mr. President. I can take it.

The Web is young

Greg Linden:

Whoever manages to change the nature of content display on the Web from a ‘search problem’ to a ‘recommender problem’ will reap tremendous rewards.

Bush, Cheney As Recruiters

The chief US interrogator in Iraq, Major Mathew Alexander says that during 1,300 interrogations he supervised, he came across only one true ideologue. He is quoted as saying that:

“I listened time and time again to foreign fighters, and Sunni Iraqis, state that the number one reason they had decided to pick up arms and join al-Qa’ida was the abuses at Abu Ghraib and the authorised torture and abuse at Guantanamo Bay.”

Mediocre But Rich

The NYPost studied five years of mutual fund performance:

Scores of piggish mutual-fund managers got wealthy over the last five years but delivered investors poor results, an analysis of fund performance records by The Post reveals.

The fund managers pocketed the high management fees — adding to the funds’ losses while investors were slammed in their 401(k)s and in other fund accounts — but delivered results that didn’t even beat the S&P 500 Index.

That means investors would have been better off ignoring the professional stock pickers…

Phase 3 Alert

Level 4 on Monday, meaning the global health body feels the virus causing the swine flu outbreak can easily transmit between people.

Swine Flu is a moving target, of course.

A ‘pandemic’ isn’t at this time, but there is a true emergency, and teams are gearing up worldwide.

Human to Human? Only in close quarters and limited circumstance.

Phase 3
…sporadic cases or small clusters of disease in people, but has not resulted in human-to-human transmission sufficient to sustain community-level outbreaks.

Limited human-to-human transmission may occur under some circumstances, for example, when there is close contact between an infected person and an unprotected caregiver.

However, limited transmission under such restricted circumstances does not indicate that the virus has gained the level of transmissibility among humans necessary to cause a pandemic.

Crof’s blog is a layman’s reporting site held in high regard, News and Resources about Avian and Swine Flu.

“We hack disaster novelists know one big truth: When you stress people, you find out what they really are.

“I hope this stress shows that we’re strong enough to deal with this H1N1 outbreak, and with anything else following it that may be far, far worse…like H5N1.”

Doc Gurley is a certified Internist physician and Harvard Medical School graduate.

Here is a list of ten practical steps you can take to prepare and protect yourself and your family.

Now that America has declared a state of swine flu public health emergency, you may be asking yourself – what am I supposed to do?

General Voice of Mankind

Thomas Babbington MacaulayCopyright is monopoly, and produces all the effects which the general voice of mankind attributes to monopoly.

Monopoly is an evil.

For the sake of the good we must submit to the evil;
but the evil ought not to last a day longer than is necessary for the purpose of securing the good. – Thomas Babbington Macaulay

Not Your Accidental Desire

Bertrand Russell, originally published in 1930:

Fear of public opinion, like every other form of fear, is oppressive and stunts growth.

It is difficult to achieve any kind of greatness while a fear of this kind remains strong, and it is impossible to acquire that freedom of spirit in which true happiness consists, for it is essential to happiness that our way of living should spring from our own deep impulses and not from the accidental tastes and desires of those who happen to be our neighbors, or even our relations.

At Google Books, The Conquest of Happiness

Legitimate Methods

Alyssa Peterson was one of the first female soldiers killed in Iraq.

Peterson, a devout Mormon, had graduated from Flagstaff High School and earned a psychology degree from Northern Arizona University on a military scholarship. She was trained in interrogation techniques at Fort Huachuca in Arizona, and was sent to the Middle East in 2003.

Peterson, 27, a Flagstaff, Ariz., native, served with C Company, 311th Military Intelligence BN, 101st Airborne. Peterson was an Arabic-speaking interrogator assigned to the prison at our air base in troubled Tal Afar in northwestern Iraq. According to official records, she died on Sept. 15, 2003, from a “non-hostile weapons discharge.”

Peterson Killed Herself After Refusing to Take Part in Torture