fake pageantry

“Men fear thought as they fear nothing else on earth — more than ruin — more even than death.

“Thought is subversive and revolutionary, destructive and terrible, thought is merciless to privilege, established institutions, and comfortable habit.

“Thought looks into the pit of hell and is not afraid.

“Thought is great and swift and free, the light of the world, and the chief glory of man.” – Bertrand Russell

We live in a period of enclosures unparalleled since the sixteenth century.

The freedom of all types of cultural and literary acts is vital.All practices that hinder freedom of publishing should be eradicated. Linguistic oppression is unacceptable. Digital media is essential for freedom of thought and expression.

we pick the cherries

Let’s test the story.

It’s easy to show our economy grows when tax rates are higher. Our economy is better when tax rates are higher.

We’ll do well. Our nation is good. I am happy here. A good country. I give. I take. I provide. That’s my gift in return. I can be happy when you are happy. I work for that. We all do. We all must. This is America. Our country. A good country. We make America. We are America. There’s no argument about that. You want an end of the day? You want to be right? Do country. Do America. Make today.

study your bent

Behavioral economics plummets bias, seeking leverage, measuring tendency.

And has lyrics created by Bradley Wray, a high school teacher in Maryland:

I’m biased because I knew it all along… hindsight bias… I knew it all along.
hindsight bias… I knew it all along

I’m biased because I put you in a category which you may or may not belong…
representativeness bias don’t stereotype this song

I’m biased because of a small detail that throws off the big picture of the thing
Anchoring bias see the forest for the trees

I’m biased toward the first example that comes to my mind
availability bias to the first thing that comes to mind

Oh oh bias don’t let bias into your mind

history of our words

Language changes. For example, child care is more fashionable than nursery school.

Although there are only about 500,000 books published in English before the 19th century, Google has launched a database of 500 billion words contained in 5.2 million books published between 1500 and 2008 — a sequence of letters that is one thousand times longer than the human genome.

The corpus cannot be read by a human.

If you tried to read only the entries from the year 2000 alone, at the reasonable pace of 200 words per minute, without interruptions for food or sleep, it would take eighty years.

Play with Google’s new “Books Ngram Viewer” yourself.

Yes, language changes. Google’s discovered usage of Carlin’s seven dirty words from 1650 to 2000.

at a dead calm

“This is really a huge challenge, unprecedented in my lifetime,” Jerry Brown said.

Gregor Macdonald adds, “Uptick in economic flow is not enough to move the trailing dead-weight of US unemployment–which is now becoming structural.

“For anyone who would like to challenge the notion and assert that ‘California is not the US economy’ I would say this: Sorry, but California is indeed the US economy.

“The US will be going nowhere without the full participation–if not the leadership–of California.”

radiating photons of goodwill

“Every now and then, I’ll meet an escapee, someone who has broken free of self-centeredness and lit out for the territory of compassion. You’ve met them, too, those people who seem to emit a steady stream of, for want of a better word, love-vibes. As soon as you come within range, you feel embraced, accepted for who you are. For those of us who suspect that you rarely get something for nothing, such geniality can be discomfiting. Yet it feels so good to be around them. They stand there, radiating photons of goodwill, and despite yourself you beam back, and the world, in a twinkling, changes.”

Marc Barasch via whiskey river

faulty transporting

About half calling 911 for a heart attack are hospitalized, yet only 20 percent actually have heart attacks.

Robert DeBusk, MD

“Patients don’t know when to go to the ER. They agonize, they wait. Once the patient does go to the ER, there’s a high rate of unnecessary hospitalization.”

Why not ask a few questions? Ask callers to identify symptoms of chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, weakness and visual changes. It can be administered over the telephone. For example, a patient reporting ischemic chest pain that occurs at rest, lasts 20 or more minutes and is still present at the time of the patient’s report, would be categorized as ‘high risk’.

daily writhe

Daily dawns another day;
I must up, to make my way.
Though I dress and drink and eat,
Move my fingers and my feet,
Learn a little, here and there,
Weep and laugh and sweat and swear,
Hear a song, or watch a stage,
Leave some words upon a page,
Claim a foe, or hail a friend —
Bed awaits me at the end.
Though I go in pride and strength,
I’ll come back to bed at length.
Though I walk in blinded woe,
Back to bed I’m bound to go.
High my heart, or bowed my head,
All my days but lead to bed.
Up, and out, and on; and then
Ever back to bed again,
Summer, Winter, Spring, and Fall —
I’m a fool to rise at all!

— Dorothy Parker, Inscription for the Ceiling of a Bedroom

sufficiently unhealed

Robert Whitaker, the Polk Award-winning journalist and author of the recent “Anatomy of an Epidemic”:

The story told to the public by the NIMH and by academic psychiatry is that psychiatric medications have greatly improved the lives of those diagnosed with psychiatric illnesses.

Yet, even as our society has embraced the use of psychiatric medications during the past two decades, the number of people receiving government disability due to mental illness has more than tripled, from 1.25 million people to more than 4 million people.

So you can see, in that data, that something may be wrong with that story of progress.

And then, if you look at how psychiatric medications affect the long-term course of psychiatric disorders, you find — in the scientific literature — consistent evidence that they increase the likelihood that a person will become chronically ill.

I know this is startling, particularly since we do know that some people do well on the medications long term, but that evidence, in terms of how the medications affect long-term outcomes in the aggregate, shows up time and again in the scientific literature.

to create significance

Defenceless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.
W. H. Auden

Umair Hague:

The untapped capacity to create significance (and all the stuff that follows on from it — higher purpose, a sense of meaning, animating passion, intrinsic motivation) has never been more important: I’d gently suggest it’s the wellspring of 21st century advantage.

…the real roots of this crisis are that 20th century institutions, whether banks, governments, or corporations, are becoming more and more useless to people, communities, and society. They’re extracting wealth from them, instead of creating enduring, authentic value for them. And that game of musical chairs is this Great Stagnation writ large.

our offended conscience

Matt Taibbi, where good rant is extraordinary relief:

Week after week, month after month, we watch politicians who disappoint us, not just as leaders but as people, failing to achieve the basic life-competency standard we expect of most grown-ups, doing things we wouldn’t tolerate from 15-year-olds.

It’s sad but true, but in 99.9% of all cases, you wouldn’t think of looking up to an elected official as a moral role model. Which is why Bernie Sanders is such a rarity, and people should appreciate what he’s doing not just for his home state of Vermont, but for the reputation of all politicians in general.

Here’s how Bernie put it:

“How can I get by on one house? I need five houses, ten houses! I need three jet planes to take me all over the world! Sorry, American people. We’ve got the money, we’ve got the power, we’ve got the lobbyists here and on Wall Street. Tough luck. That’s the world, get used to it. Rich get richer. Middle class shrinks.”

of obligation

Roger Ebert is asking, really asking, when will women break free of cruel institutions?

Only two weeks ago, a Republican filibuster in the U. S. Senate prevented passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would have added teeth to measures for equal pay.

The Republicans presumably feel they have some support from women on this subject, especially those following religions which preach that a woman must submit to the will of her husband: Either her actual husband, or her legislatorial surrogate.

we all once young

By adulthood, our worldview is so fixed that most people don’t even know that there is another way to be.

To further complicate matters, these unconscious tendencies to feel threatened leave many people open to manipulation by the demagogues of the day.

Ronit Herzfeld:

Ninety percent of human-brain growth occurs in the first five years of life.  During this critical developmental period, life experiences determine how the millions of neurons in the human brain connect. These connections form the structure of our brains, which in turn create our minds.  Hence, our early life experiences shape our minds and define our individual beliefs and values — who we are.  While genetics plays a significant role, our experiences are responsible for how the genes are expressed, because our experiences actually shape our brain structure.

As we continue to grow, our tendency is to filter new information and experiences through our initial sets of beliefs and values.  We develop patterns in our brains that determine how we perceive and respond to our world. These patterns are relatively fixed and will tend to stay that way unless and until repeated new experiences restructure the brain, and thereby change the mind. For example, if a child is raised by racist parents, his brain structure becomes wired to think and feel racism.  The child’s view can change, however, if he is actively exposed to tolerance.

Our worldview is so fixed that most people don’t even know that ?!

“A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move toward higher levels.” —Albert Einstein

so to speak

Zbigniew Brzezinski, ex- US National Security Advisor :

SPIEGEL: And the American decline. Are Americans aware of that trend or does the fate of Carter await President Barak Obama should he openly address the issue?

Brzezinski: I am very worried that most Americans are close to total ignorance about the world. They are ignorant. That is an unhealthy condition in a country in which foreign policy has to be endorsed by the people if it is to be pursued. And it makes it much more difficult for any president to pursue an intelligent policy that does justice to the complexity of the world.

SPIEGEL: Yet the American right is still convinced of American exceptionalism.

Brzezinski: That is a reaction to the inability of people to understand global complexity or important issues like American energy dependency. Therefore, they search for simplistic sources of comfort and clarity. And the people that they are now selecting to be, so to speak, the spokespersons of their anxieties are, in most cases, stunningly ignorant.

wisdom list

Regina Brett, columnist for Cleveland’s Plain Dealer.

The lessons life taught me.
The most-requested column I’ve ever written.

1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.
2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

50. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.

Link luv to her full list here.

50. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.

festive diatoms

12 Plankton of Christmas
Dr. Richard Kirby at Plymouth University

“The importance of plankton on a global scale is obvious when you realize that 50% of the world’s photosynthesis takes place in the surface of the sea, drawing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere into the oceans and releasing oxygen.”

the world has changed

Henry Porter:

Publication of the cables has caused no loss of life; troops are not being mobilised; and the only real diplomatic crisis is merely one of discomfort. The idea that the past two weeks have been a disaster is self-evidently preposterous.

Yet the leaks are of unprecedented importance because, at a stroke, they have enlightened the masses about what is being done in their name and have shown the corruption, incompetence – and sometimes wisdom – of our politicians, corporations and diplomats.

More significantly, we have been given a snapshot of the world as it is, rather than the edited account agreed upon by diverse elites, whose only common interest is the maintenance of their power and our ignorance.

the pity remainder

Are the American people obsolete?

Michael Lind:

The richest few don’t need the rest of us as markets, soldiers or police anymore.

Have the American people outlived their usefulness to the rich minority in the United States? A number of trends suggest that the answer may be yes.

In every industrial democracy since the end of World War II, there has been a social contract between the few and the many. In return for receiving a disproportionate amount of the gains from economic growth in a capitalist economy, the rich paid a disproportionate percentage of the taxes needed for public goods and a safety net for the majority.

In North America and Europe, the economic elite agreed to this bargain because they needed ordinary people as consumers and soldiers. Without mass consumption, the factories in which the rich invested would grind to a halt. Without universal conscription in the world wars, and selective conscription during the Cold War, the U.S. and its allies might have failed to defeat totalitarian empires that would have created a world order hostile to a market economy.

Globalization has eliminated the first reason for the rich to continue supporting this bargain at the nation-state level, while the privatization of the military threatens the other rationale.

from rock to rock

In the face of what humanity is dealing with these days, incompetence might be history’s biggest word. OMG, is it true there’s no one running our ship?

This article is short. Who’s got the time to dig into friggin’ $trillions war culture? But between the lines, its conclusion is freaky on a lot of levels.

…the former head of the CIA’s Bin Laden Unit shares his thoughts with us on Afghanistan, Bin Laden’s current status and the importance of questioning the rhetoric of Western leaders.

A couple tidbits came to mind:

Of course there’s bizarre and caustic islands and crowds appearing, from Morocco to Mindanao, and one cause is our neglect. I spent the evening with one of Kuwait’s media chiefs many years ago, drinking good rum while encouraging him to set up a Muslim version of Sesame Street. Producing lo-cost media, 1000s of product, could encourage an apolitical culture of learning rather than deferring to myth dominated by oligarch. Salmon Rushdie commented the other day that dropping millions of Nintendo across the Islamist geography would do more than the State and Pentagon have ever dreamed.

I think civilian powers can do a great deal. The retired ambassador of Guatemala and I put together a proposal which I managed to get to James Baker during Reagan, not directly but through the Brown Group, a Whitehouse-directed outside team popular in its day.

Mullahs controlled spice trade. One of the premier is cardamom which is used daily in coffee as a ritual to ‘cleanse the breath’ prior to prayers. It’s like a religious currency and gives much power in local circles.  Central America is a top producer. Top cardamom berries are shipped across Islam while we get the smaller ‘leftovers’ in our market.

We argued that organizing a neutral supply, breaking containers into small lots along 100s of Muslim ports would dilute mullah influence and local oligarchs, building a simpler merchant system rather than mosque control. They mulled on it for a few days but called back and said, “Nice approach but not at this time….” We missed that small chance at good relations.

Lack of adequate response to various bell curves and hockey sticks.

We’ll figure it out, I suppose. Energy, waste, poison versus sustenance and prosperity, but there’s plenty of goofy days ahead. Would be nice to get a grip on the fools and thieves though. Petty dominance. They scramble for the pickings and wreck our focus.

A stronger goodwill rather than pepper and argument could keep us on track. But we haven’t spelled out where we’re going or how to get there. We need that. Don’t have it. Have you noticed? I guess we don’t know. It’s up to the ‘new guys’ to bring better tech and workable ventures and the ‘old guys’ just gotta soften up the rigid structures and relentless pilfering. Camel, needles, geesh. Darn near like prairie pioneering all over again.

pay ’em off

I’m surprised and not surprised and sad.

One in every four people paid a petty bribe for some basic services in the last year.

30% paid a bribe to police !

Around the world, 8 out of 10 say political parties are corrupt.

Report at Transparency International.

Thus ample taxes are a good thing?!

psychically kettled

I say, here’s a neat British term.

Suzanne Moore:

Maybe we’ve been psychically kettled.

We live in a society in which we are told there is no money and yet see it washing around the upper echelons.

And a neat  R.J. Matson cartoon.