is not triumph

Dana Blankenhorn:

We are creating our own version of Al Qaeda in the United States.

A Christian Al Qaeda, if you will. We have many Christian versions of Al Qaeda’s Madrassas, we have Christianists among us not unlike the Taliban, and we have an immense political movement which aims to make America a mirror image of Saudi Arabia.

the everyday read

The last paragraph of Lincoln’s great speech at Gettysburg, because that’s the core, the direct and unambiguous “of, by, and for the people“:

“It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honoured dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government: of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

J. Brooks Spector:

So we’ve made you read how Abraham Lincoln grasped both the moment and eternity, simultaneously, when he spoke of a generation lost in battle.

Government officials… could do a great deal worse than read – every day – Lincoln’s lesson on the ultimate purposes of government, any government.

wasted nation

The vast majority of Americans saw their incomes rise only modestly in 45 years.

Measured in 2006 dollars, the average income of the bottom 90 percent grew from $22,366 in 1961 to $31,642 in 2006. That is a real increase of $9,276 in average income. But it was also after 45 years, longer than the careers of most workers.

Lower taxes, free market initiative and lazy government has been and is a complete fraud.

Millions are out of work, and the jobs they once held are … not coming back.

And even if the Great Recession is coming to an end, we face years of jobs growing more slowly than the working-age population, which could radically transform America’s culture, work ethic, and sense of progress.

In 2006 families worked on average about 900 more hours than families did in the 1960s and early 1970s. That is a roughly 45 percent increase in hours worked…

For many, the reality is that two jobs produce the same or a smaller after-tax income than just one job did three and four decades ago.

During the 45 years starting in 1961, payroll taxes have gone from a minor levy to almost a sixth of wages for the bottom 90 percent of American households. This $760 in income tax savings that the average taxpayer enjoyed in 2006 was taken back, and more, by the increased tax rates for Social Security and Medicare. Those rates rose from 3 percent withheld from pay in 1961 to 7.65 percent in 2006. Not all income is from wages, of course, but those higher payroll taxes wiped out the seeming reduction in the income tax and more. …

And at the top? Now, that’s a different story. The average income for the top 400 taxpayers rose over the 45 years from $13.7 million to $263.3 million. That is 19.3 times more.

The income tax bill went up too, but only 7.8 times as much because tax rates plunged. Income tax rates at the top fell 60 percent, three times the percentage rate drop for the vast majority. And at the top, the savings were not offset by higher payroll taxes, which are insignificant to top taxpayers.

urge to destroy

Tony Judt:

We are entering, I believe, a new age of insecurity.

Why is it that here in the United States we have such difficulty even imagining a different sort of society from the one whose dysfunctions and inequalities trouble us so? We appear to have lost the capacity to question the present, much less offer alternatives to it.

Why is it so beyond us to conceive of a different set of arrangements to our common advantage? What do we mean when we speak of a “good society”?

What we have been watching these past decades is the steady shifting of public responsibility onto the private sector to no discernible collective advantage.

If we have learned nothing else from the twentieth century, we should at least have grasped that the more perfect the answer, the more terrifying its consequences.

what are gods good for?

NYTimes review of ‘The Faith Instinct‘:

Hunter-gatherers were egalitarian and, shamans aside, had direct access to the divine.

But when humans began to farm and to settle in cities and states, religion became hierarchical.

Priests emerged, turning unwritten rules and chummy gods into opaque instruments of surveillance and power. Church bureaucracies created crucial social institutions but also suppressed the more ecstatic aspects of worship, especially music, dance and trance.

tolerable revolution

Buckminster Fuller coined 'doing more with less'.

The handshake we do not want and mustn't offer.This is an idea I’ve relied upon over the years; a mother of motive that should be in our thoughts while we bump heads. Better living reduces social argument, though I doubt humans will ever stop bitching at each other. It’s too easy, with too many prizes.

I had lunch with Bucky about 1981 I think. He filled his life and innovation poured out. Good model. Diligent fellow. Gracious and warm.

B. Fuller Institute published this hand: The handshake we do not want and mustn’t offer.

we can hope

John Maynard Keynes said at the end of the Second World War.

If by some sad geographical slip the American Air Force (it is too late now to hope for much from the enemy) were to destroy every factory on the North East coast and in Lancashire (at an hour when the directors were sitting there and no-one else) we should have nothing to fear. How else are we to regain the exuberant inexperience which is necessary, it seems for success, I cannot surmise.

Posted by John Hempton.

full third of words

  1. In the past, information consumption was overwhelmingly passive, with telephone being the only interactive medium.
  2. Thanks to computers, a full third of words and more than half of bytes are now received interactively.
  3. Reading, which was in decline due to the growth of television, tripled from 1980 to 2008, because it is the overwhelmingly preferred way to receive words on the Internet.

Global Information Center via ieee

unsafe surface alert

wood pallet thumbnailThe recall of Tylenol is fresh evidence of the need regulate wood pallets used to transport food and pharmaceuticals because of Salmonella, E. coli, Listeria or extremely high bacteria counts – as much as 6.8 million spores per gram – in more than one-third of the wood pallets tested.

In Portland, 5 of 30 pallets tested positive for Listeria.

In Philadelphia, 15 of the 30 wood pallets had high bacteria counts that exceeded 100,000 colonies/gram.

Nearly half of the wood pallets tested in Maine had high bacteria counts.

“There are more than one billion wood pallets used in the United States, so it’s critical to understand the role they play in outbreaks of food poisoning.”

But note: It’s chemicals used to treat wood pallets cited as causing a moldy, musty or mildew-like odor in the recalled Tylenol that caused nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and stomach pain.

news link
lab report

face to face harmony

Peter  Yarrow photo by Kevin MazurListening to Peter, Paul, and Mary, I’ve started to feel that your harmonies become a metaphor for human cooperation.

“You’ve stumbled onto something that’s fundamental to my life. Other vocal groups look straight out at the audience; Peter, Paul and Mary looked at each other, and always did. We became the model of the way people could be: totally open, virtually naked before each other. And we celebrated that. You didn’t see that intensity of closeness in other groups.” ?

clear enthusiasm

You never enjoy the world aright, till the Sea itself floweth in your veins, till you are clothed with the heavens, and crowned with the stars; . . . Till your spirit filleth the whole world, and the stars are your jewels; . . . till you love men so as to desire their happiness, with a thirst equal to the zeal of your own. – Thomas Traherne

He was moreover not alone in his search.

define: felicity