wealth we texting are

A million dollar fender bender? 

Yes, a one million dollar fender bender at the Monte Carlo Casino.

Making jobs for everyone!?

Call me a heretic, fire up the kindling and ready the stake, but I’d say this particular item — which I’ll readily hold up my hands and admit hit a nerve — is a peculiarly apt metaphor for what’s gone wrong with the economy today: the super-rich, whose gains reflect little social value creation, have gotten richer — and are hyperconsuming the stuff of idle, yawning luxury with an appetite that makes Caligula look like a blushing bride. – Umair Haque: How Our Economy Was Overrun by Monsters and What to Do About It

silly politicians

Duty under the 14th Amendment to pay the nation’s bills.

Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.

the debt wing

via Slate’s Andrew Leonard:

“On Sunday, the New York Times published a chart demonstrating the relative contributions to the deficit made by George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Short version: The total cost of new policies initiated during the administration of George Bush: $5.07 trillion.”

Barack Obama: $1.44 trillion. Most of that cleaning up the Bush disaster.

How the Deficit Got This Big

collapsed in acrimony

Vince Cable has launched an extraordinary attack on “rightwing nutters” in America who are trying to block the raising of the US government’s debt ceiling and who are, he said, a bigger threat to the world economy than problems in the eurozone.

Vince Cable is Britain’s business secretary. He said:

“The irony of the situation at the moment, with markets opening tomorrow morning, is that the biggest threat to the world financial system comes from a few rightwing nutters in the American Congress rather than the eurozone.”


fervor sales

Los Angeles Times on Nancy Grace:

Anyone who had occasion to watch her relentless coverage of the recently completed Casey Anthony murder trial witnessed something quite new to the American news media: a mainstream news organization giving one of its commentators a nightly forum from which to campaign for the conviction of a criminal defendant.

to put it politely…

the extraction era

Our money…

“It doesn’t measure how good of a human being you are, but it does measure, in most cases, how much value you have provided to your fellow man.  How is this true?  Because your fellow men have chosen to give you their money for your service.”


This ain’t necessarily so.  Rentiers collect, but they need not contribute.  They exalt themselves, and devalue labor.

In the past 30 years, nearly all the increase in surplus has been skimmed off by the top few percent in wealth.  The top 1% used to control 7% of the nation’s personal income. They now control over 21%.  Has their contribution to the rest of society tripled?  Not so.  They have manipulated the system, toforce labor to hand over its share of the increase in surplus.

Their contribution to the rest of society has not changed.  Their contribution to themselves has tripled.

If labor’s share of the nation’s output had remained constant, (and the top 1%’s) the middle and working class would all be about 15% better off than they are now.

And the economy would be in much better shape.

naught lawn

The Oak Park Outlaw
… she gardens her front yard
… city sends citation
… war ensues

The scofflaw, Julie Bass,
Rejected trees and grass,
And took to life of crime
With parsley, sage and thyme.

Her crime is avant garde:
The beds in her front yard
Contain illegal greens,
Like peppers, peas and beans.

Thank God the planner saw
Within the public law,
A means to prosecute
Before she planted fruit.

The plaintiff, Kevin R.,
The Oak Park planning czar,
Will see the line is toed
By pointing to the code.

But folks can misconstrue
What’s ‘suitable’ to do,
So Kevin has deferred
To ‘common’ as his word.

And what is more unique
Than cucumber or leek,
When planted in a bed
Where grass should grow instead.

Uncommon as they are
Outside a mason jar,
She’ll need to clear her yard
Of broccoli and chard.

Then justice will prevail,
And Oak Park can exhale,
Devoid of squash and kale,
With Julie safe in jail.

truth isn’t out

By Joe Keohane:

Like an underpowered antibiotic, facts could actually make misinformation even stronger.

This bodes ill for a democracy, because most voters — the people making decisions about how the country runs — aren’t blank slates. They already have beliefs, and a set of facts lodged in their minds. The problem is that sometimes the things they think they know are objectively, provably false. And in the presence of the correct information, such people react very, very differently than the merely uninformed. Instead of changing their minds to reflect the correct information, they can entrench themselves even deeper.

“The general idea is that it’s absolutely threatening to admit you’re wrong.”

wrong about wolves

Oops. We’ve been wrong about wolves.
Wrong about dogs too says John Bradshaw via Salon: How we came to misunderstand dogs.

Throw out the choke chain and shush those dog whisperers.

But it’s fascinating to learn that the influential studies about wolves — which have so heavily influenced how we treat dogs — were seriously flawed.

In the earliest studies of wolves, going right back to the late 19th century, they put wolves together in zoos. I think, for its time, the science was perfectly valid, but they did construct these wolf packs assuming that wolves you put together in a zoo would form a society which was typical of wolves. And then it emerged — really, didn’t emerge until the 1990s, when it became possible to really keep an eye on wild wolf packs with developments like GPS — that families should behave completely differently to groups of animals that are not family.

It’s basically the conception, now, that the wolf is an animal that breeds [a lot like] many other social species, birds and all sorts of things, not just mammals. The young, when they grow up, have essentially two choices. One is to stay and help their parents raise the next generation, the next litter. The other one is to leave. Staying behind is genetically very good because they share genes with their parents. When those conditions are good, it’s a sensible strategy to stay around for a couple of years. Help your parents, learn a bit more, and then go off on your own. And that’s essentially the way that the wolf biologists now conceive wolf societies. Family-based units. Also, voluntary. I think the key point is it is voluntary.

The young, the so-called subordinate or submissive animals, are not there because they’re being compelled to stay by their parents, by a diet of aggression. They’re there voluntarily and, in fact, have to almost ask their parents if it’s OK to stay every now and again. Because, of course, they are competing for food and so on. So it’s turned the whole idea of wolf society on its head.

And you believe positive reinforcement is always the way to go for dogs in all situations?

With all the research we’ve done — I’ve worked a lot with the military, and with dogs used in places like prisons to sniff out narcotics, I’ve worked with people who train dogs for obedience competitions, and with people who train guide dogs — most of them now use positive reinforcement. The research, there’s not very much of it, but the research that’s been done all points in the direction of the dog is much more reliable if it’s been trained with reward, whether it’s been trained to help a blind person around or whether it’s been trained to attack terrorists. The dog that goes into that because it’s fearful of its handler is less effective, and particularly less predictable, than the dog that’s been trained that biting somebody’s arm is fun, which is how they do it. So, I’ve obviously not been privy to every single bit of training that the military have ever done, but most of what I’ve seen has been very much focused on positive reinforcement, and seems to be very effective.

we secrete delusion

Perhaps there is a journey about ourselves here:

“How our brains secrete religious and superstitious belief.”

Yes. Michael Shermer uses the word ‘secrete‘.

The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies.

How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths.

Religions and superstitions may stem from the brain’s ability to spot patterns and intent…

And as Frank Schaeffer notices, “The countries in the world that are the most fundamentalist and religious, and/or those whose identity is most religion-based, are the world’s greatest troublemakers. Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the USA, Vatican City and the state of Israel come to mind.

“The delusion is this: ‘We’re chosen, special and enlightened, and only we have The Truth’.

porn molecules

philtrum says: July 5, 2011 at 8:11 pm

Naomi Wolf always had a tendency to histrionics, but she’s gone totally off the deep end in the past 10-15 years.

I recall that in “The Porn Myth” she rhapsodized about how beautiful and empowered ultra-Orthodox Jewish wives must feel because their husbands don’t even get to see other women’s hair, or something like that. (Women living under the Taliban must have the hottest sex lives of all!)

Oddly enough, she was unsympathetic, to the point of misogyny, about the women who claimed Julian Assange had assaulted them. Like Phyllis Chesler, she’s really stopped doing anything resembling principled feminism and is now exclusively working out her own demons.

mall cattle

American Fez:

Personally, I am glad that the middle-class is being ground into economic dust.

They are the bovine majority after all, who invented leisurewear, vote for politicians, and sign petitions to prevent others from doing things that they don’t understand.

It is incredible that anyone as mean-spirited and as greedy as the middle classes can point an accusing finger to even the most avaricious of tycoons.

We are all accessories to economic crimes, of course, but only they plead innocence.

these are not winners

Lucy Kellaway reporting at the BBC:

I’ve amassed a treasure trove of data that overwhelmingly supports a long-held pet theory of mine.

The three worst traits of chief executives are a lack of self-knowledge, a lack of self-knowledge and a quite extraordinary willingness to give themselves the benefit of the doubt.

When it comes to describing their dark sides, 58 out of 60 leaders felt bound by the same rule – any weakness is perfectly admissible, so long as it is really a strength.

They almost all cite impatience, perfectionism and being too demanding – all of which turn out to be things that it’s rather good for a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) to be.

What is particularly interesting about this mass outpouring of faux weaknesses is that there is no difference between men and women, and no difference between Americans and Europeans.

All are as bad as each other.

way back when

Scott Rosenberg at Salon:

Then Facebook started to get massive. And consultants and authors started giving us advice about how to use Facebook to brand ourselves. And marketing people began advocating that we use Facebook to sell stuff and, in fact, sell ourselves.