it is not religion

The issue here is the resurrection of a spirit of pan-Arabism after several decades when a sense of Islamic identity seemed to be supplanting Arab identity.

That trend now appears to have been reversed.

This shifting balance between Arab and Islamic identities is a central feature of what is happening in the Middle East today, and it’s likely to generate some heated debate in the weeks and months to come.

He writes:

For the first time in a generation, it is not religion, nor the adventures of a single leader, nor wars with Israel that have energized the region.

Across Egypt and the Middle East, a somewhat nostalgic notion of a common Arab identity, intersecting with a visceral sense of what amounts to a decent life, is driving protests that have bound the region in a sense of a shared destiny.

He continues:

Rarely has there been a moment when the Middle East felt so interconnected, governments so unpopular and Arabs so overwhelmingly agreed on the demand for change, even as some worry about the aftermath in a place where alternatives to dictatorship have been relentlessly crushed … The Middle East is being drawn together by economic woes and a shared resentment that people have been denied dignity and respect.

True views and recent history is one more failing by the Western mainstream media. If thousands of members of secular, liberal organizations in Egypt had been regularly arrested in recent years, the names of their leaders would be household words.

Two resolute and conscientious Twitter feeds on Egypt.
Parvez Sharma, New York,
2) Ramy Raoof, Cairo, Egypt.

states of superstition

Gallup Poll:

“Four in 10 Americans, slightly fewer today than in years past, believe God created humans in their present form about 10,000 years ago.

Thirty-eight percent believe God guided a process by which humans developed over millions of years from less advanced life forms, while 16%, up slightly from years past, believe humans developed over millions of years, without God’s involvement.”

Despite 80 years of court battles ousting creationism from public classrooms, most public high school teachers are not strong advocates for evolution. Such teachers “may play a far more important role in hindering scientific literacy in the United States…”

almost friendly?

The current situation in Egypt is, as they say, fluid. There is the remote possibility that the Egyptian people will achieve their apparent ends relatively peacefully, without further loss of life.

But while the power of authority arrayed against them—the police, internal security apparatus, and perhaps the army—relies for its ultimate effectiveness upon the credible threat of violence, the power of protest and resistance relies in the last instance upon a people’s willingness to die for their cause.

This is what it means to be courageous: to place yourself in the path of irresistible force, certain of your own destruction, for a cause higher than yourself and your petty concerns. Flesh arrayed against bullets, bodies against tanks. Lives willingly offered for beliefs and aspirations.

Without sacrifice or the threat of sacrifice, there is no courage.

using what’s ours

Profiteers are watching you. Always.

David Cain:

I do encourage you to become a millionaire, if that’s something that interests you. If it’s billions you’re after, I’m a bit suspicious but I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. Aspiring to trillions, though, is the domain of the wicked alone and we won’t be able to be friends any more.

The big money isn’t in creating products, it’s in creating customers.

A single, lifelong customer who lives his life spending the way you want him to is worth six or seven figures. A single one. Creating millions of these is the only way to make trillions.

You can make millions by selling a great product to people who need it, but you make billions and trillions by conditioning an entire nation of people to react to every inconvenience, every whim, and every passing desire or fear by buying something.

It does take some capital to get it going. You won’t be able to manage it with 5-dollar-an-hour overseas virtual assistants, but like I said I’d prefer if you didn’t strive to be a trillionaire, because it’s not so good for the rest of us.

While were at it, who’s the most loathsome in America? #1 is you:

Your brain’s been cobbled together over millions of years of blind evolution and it shows. You’re clumsy, stupid, weak and motivated by the basest of urges. Your MO is both grotesquely selfish and unquestionably deferential to questionable authority.

You’re not in control of your life.

You wear your ignorance like a badge of honor and gleefully submit to oppression, malfeasance and kleptocracy. You will buy anything. You will believe anything. You believe that evolution is a matter of belief, because you’re an impatient, semi-literate Philistine who’s either unable or unwilling to digest more than 140 characters at a time.

very understated problem

For the second year in a row, the U.S. military has lost more troops to suicide than it has to combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.




Apollo is our benchmark. My mind changed and never stopped that first day outside Earth. Discovering home. There cannot be enough seeing ourselves. No puzzle is better. Suddenly we.

how big = this big

The effort in this shot !

Light balance. The depth of field. The triumph, Jimmy’s brow.  Seconds, anyone?

It's A Wonderful Life

electing the wrong

Sweepstakes here.

Which politician seeking the Presidency said this?

“…the very founders that wrote those documents worked tirelessly until slavery was no more in the United States….Men like John Quincy Adams, who would not rest until slavery was extinguished in the country.”

glass of tort

A California resident filed a class action lawsuit Tuesday against Apple Inc. alleging the iPhone 4 has a manufacturing defect that causes its glass housing to break after ‘reasonable use’.


compulsion loop

Adrian Hon:

Someone is making a lot of money out of this.

A new breed of computer games is creating compulsive behavior.

Isn’t the entire point of games that they are more engaging and fun than poor, passive TV? Yes, TV shows are driven by commercial motives and try to be just as manipulative as games with their incessant cliffhangers, but a show with cliffhanger every 30 minutes pales in comparison to games containing ‘mini-cliffhangers’ every 30 seconds.

Nota bene: “Developers aren’t doing this on purpose.”

gut level wrap up

Succinct is always nice. Succinct that says it all is dynamite.

I can’t say I was surprised by a single Wikileak … they all seemed so deja vu and utterly timeless, as if they could have been intercepted letters, hand-written by Napoleon-in-exile to his cohorts on the mainland.

Humorzo noticed this great line by Sylvia Paull.

no arguing here

Oh, if we had goals and targets too.


So why isn’t there more agreement? Certainly some smart people out there must have figured out the “right way” or the “best solution”… right? Well, NO.

See, that’s the problem that so many of us make, and definitely one that the legislators and zealots make A LOT. There is no single right way, no single best solution. Each of us has different goals, different skills, different resources, and different motivations; and that doesn’t even take into account different cash flow and different climates and different environments. Given all the unique factors that an individual must take into account, how can we expect to have a single right answer? We simply can’t, it’s just not realistic. We each need to figure out what we need to do for our desired situation and then determine how to best achieve it based on our individual parameters.

money is speech

Charles Sullivan:

Corporate power expanded.

Driven by the religion of market fundamentalism, capitalists championed the deregulation of industry and markets.

Money triumphed over people.

With deregulation the disparity between rich and poor reached historic proportions. Corporations ostensibly created to serve the public interest mutated into a malignancy eroding liberties and killing the planet.

The duplicitous meanings of democracy are used interchangeably by the plutocracy, leaving the American people ambivalent and confused. This was an engineered bait and switch that went virtually unnoticed by a naïve and somnolent public.

And thus capitalism, the very antithesis of democracy, became synonymous with representative government in the public mind. Few people have bothered to question, much less challenge, the secular matrimony of capitalism with democracy.

recitation isn’t thinking

Democrat Congressman Frank Pallone read the natural born Citizen clause of the U.S. Constitution on the House floor, Section 1 of Article Two of the United States Constitution.

A woman seated in the front row of the public gallery shouted out, “Except Obama! Except Obama! Help us, Jesus!”

Unlawful conduct, disruption of Congress; processed and released by the Sergeant at Yarns.

our lousy assistance to ourselves

We’ve used our very best minds in politics, economics, business and science to create a self made disaster that threatens to destroy much of human life on earth. —John Veitch

The world that is.

“The planet Earth has it’s own system.

“People have never understood it. Once upon a time it was so mysterious that people used all sorts of superstitions and ritual….”

The world as we see it.

“Your world view dictates what you think is important, what questions you can ask, and what you imagine is reliable evidence.”

To quote the Club of Rome:

“The classical models and strategies of development are destroying the environment, overusing resources, generation widening disparities and leaving billions excluded from the benefits of progress. … We are facing a social transformation and level of upheaval that is historic in it’s proportions and uncertain in it’s outcomes.”

a long process quickly

Jeepers. This copy from the Washington Post’s Q&A with China’s Hu Jintao struck me as a laundry list of central government action, although merely a list, perhaps insufficient, perhaps better than nothing, yet definitely more assertive than the perpetual arguing in our politics. I threw in a numbered count while wondering if any US political party could manage the complexity on our plate.

Question #3;

What lessons do you think can be drawn from the 2008 international financial crisis? What effective measures did China adopt to counter the impact of the crisis?

Hu Jintao answers #3:

This international financial crisis has reflected the absence of regulation in financial innovation. Its root cause lies in the serious defects of the existing financial system. . . . The international financial crisis has inflicted on China unprecedented difficulties and challenges.

To address its impact and maintain the steady and relatively fast growth of the economy, China quickly 1. adjusted its macroeconomic policies, 2. resolutely adopted the proactive fiscal policy and 3. moderately easy monetary policy, 4. put in place a package plan to boost domestic demand and stimulate economic growth, 5. significantly increased government investment, 6. implemented industrial readjustment and 7. reinvigoration plans on a large scale, 8. energetically promoted scientific innovation and 9. technological upgrading, 10. raised social welfare benefits by a substantial margin and 11. introduced a more active employment policy. As a result, our economy in 2009 and 2010 maintained steady and relatively fast growth and contributed to the economic recovery of the region and the world.

Looking ahead, China will take 12. scientific development as the main theme and focus on 13. transforming the economic development pattern at a faster pace. We will implement a 14. proactive fiscal policy and a 15. prudent monetary policy, 16. speed up economic restructuring, 17. vigorously strengthen indigenous innovation, make good progress in 18. energy conservation and 19. pollution reduction, continue to 20. deepen reform and 21. opening-up, work hard to ensure and 22. improve people’s livelihood, build on the achievements in 23. addressing the international financial crisis, 24. maintain steady and relatively fast economic growth and 25. promote social stability and harmony.

China will pursue the win-win 26. strategy of opening-up and stands ready to work with the United States and the international community as a whole to 27. intensify practical cooperation, properly handle various risks and challenges, and 28. make greater contribution to the overall recovery of the world economy.


totems of tea

“Which makes one wonder: if it were transported back to 1787, would the Tea Party have rejected the Constitution that today it professes to love and defend? Most likely, yes.”

Satisfaction with Life?

Well being correlates most strongly with health, wealth, and basic education, yet some feel that managing economic pilfering will destroy American achievements.

Above the Sea of Fog.

He who hopes to grow in spirit will have to transcend obedience and respect. He will hold to some laws but he will mostly violate both law and custom, and go beyond the established, inadequate norm. Sensual pleasures will have much to teach him. He will not be afraid of the destructive act: half the house will have to come down. This way he will grow virtuously into wisdom. —C.P. Cavafy

chronic trauma

Life on a road of edges.

It has become clear that there is a population in this country living in trauma — repeated, chronic and in many cases, very complicated and overlapping forms of trauma.

— rethinking trauma, a post by Scott Johnson, Violence Reporting Fellow.

The APA’s newest descriptors of what Complex PTSD looks like:

Alterations in emotional regulation, which may include symptoms such as persistent sadness, suicidal thoughts, explosive anger, or inhibited anger.

Alterations in consciousness, such as forgetting traumatic events, reliving traumatic events, or having episodes in which one feels detached from one’s mental processes or body.

Alterations in self-perception, which may include a sense of helplessness, shame, guilt, stigma, and a sense of being completely different than other human beings.

Alterations in the perception of the perpetrator, such as attributing total power to the perpetrator or becoming preoccupied with the relationship to the perpetrator, including a preoccupation with revenge.

Alterations in relations with others, including isolation, distrust, or a repeated search for a rescuer.

Alterations in one’s system of meanings, which may include a loss of sustaining faith or a sense of hopelessness and despair.

rivalry imposed

…a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions

…humanity hanging from a cross of iron

In less than 10 years, our military and security expenditures have increased by 119 percent.

Even after subtracting the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the budget has grown by 68 percent since 2001.

50 years later, we’re still ignoring Ike’s warning, by Susan Eisenhower:

I’ve always found it rather haunting to watch old footage of my grandfather, Dwight Eisenhower, giving his televised farewell address to the nation on Jan. 17, 1961.

“There is a reoccurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties,” he warned.

Plundering our own ease ! So thus reports Economic Undertow:

Our grandchildren will harvest what, exactly?

Both Eisenhower and King grasped the same insolvency metaphors, acknowledging the possibility of a bankrupt notion of progress; that the human race and its embrace of the American-style ‘dream’ would soon enough harvest the bitter crop of its strip-mining, the use of which is vacant of any real possibility.

Thermodynamics is relentless and cannot be negotiated with.

And as Umair Haque says. “If there’s one phrase I might use to describe the global economy’s malaise, it’s ‘values of little worth‘, a criticism that might be applied to nearly every moribund industry under the sun.”

collecting pain

People in Haiti are always telling me their earthquake stories.

I’m 31 years old, an American, a journalist. Even if I did have an answer, which I don’t, it would obviously be circumspect, philosophical, wrong.

Still, people beseech me with their stories, and I have to think it’s because they know I’m a journalist.

I’m a trained listener. I know when to ask questions and when to nod. I’ve taught my face to behave like a doctor’s or a judge’s. I don’t grin or interject. I know the funny bits are actually the saddest. Every story is important — a thousand little blocks built like a wall against the pain.

I told the truth. Imagine all the truth I didn’t tell.

to fit quick

Mental illness isn’t enough to explain assassination or mass murder. And in many cases, it appears, it isn’t part of the explanation at all. We should remind ourselves that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and the others killed or wounded in the Tucson attack were shot by a person–not by a diagnosis. – Paul Raeburn

causes of death

How do we die?

A snippet from the comments:

“Who was the one very unlucky bloke killed by lightning?”


I wonder about similarities to the USA…