Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Dawkins & Dennett Discuss Darwin: Must See TV!

June 03, 2009 — Richard Dawkins interviews Dan Dennett for "The Genius of Charles Darwin", the Channel 4 UK TV program which won British Broadcasting Awards' "Best Documentary Series" of 2008.

Buy the full 3-DVD set of uncut interviews, over 18 hours, in the store:

This footage was shot with the intention of editing for a television program. What you see here is the full extended interview, which includes a lot of rough camera transitions that were edited out of the final program (along with a lot of content).

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Tim Wise: "Virginia Is For Liars..."

I first encountered Tim Wise when I was teaching pre-service teachers at LSU in the 80s. He's an LSU alum. I required students read his material (it was on the test). They--predominantly privileged cracker off-spring--HATED it. Heh. Those days, the cracker kids "celebrated" MLK's birthday with a Jackson/Lee parade.
Neo-Confederate Mythology, Racist Realities and Genuine Southern Heroes
By Tim Wise
April 13, 2010

Am I the only one who finds it a bit too coincidental that in the midst of a political season in which conservative whites can be heard screaming that they “want their country back,” the Governor of Virginia should declare April “Confederate History Month?” Or that others would be clamoring for the inclusion of a “Confederate Southern American” identity box on the decennial census forms? I mean, damn, waxing nostalgic for the 1950s is one thing, but the 1860s? Quite telling, to say the least.

And yes, I know, the Governor’s proclamation wasn’t really about desiring to fondly remember everything about those days, and certainly not the less palatable aspects of the period such as the enslavement of African peoples. Slavery, after all, wasn't even mentioned in the proclamation. Rather, Governor Bob McDonnell was just trying to remind all good Virginians (the white ones at least) that they should deign to honor their ancestors who fought so valiantly for a cause they believed in. That the cause in question was, well, ya know, slavery, is but a minor quibble, which "doesn't matter for diddly," in the immortal words of self-proclaimed "fat redneck," and Governor of Mississippi, Haley Barbour.

For this last sentence--specifically the part where I note the centrality of slavery to the southern cause--I can now expect to receive literally hundreds of angry and rambling e-mails from neo-Confederates insisting that I have committed a “heritage offense.” To suggest that the Confederacy's purpose was in any way the maintenance of slavery is, to these folks, a vicious and untrue calumny, placed upon the heads of their brave forefathers unjustly by leftists and liberals, beholden to Yankee propaganda, and unwilling to see the finer nuances of antebellum ideology.

But aside from the fact that so-called Yankees are perfectly capable of doing first-rate historical research on the period and discerning the true causes of the North/South conflict at the time, the fact is, I am no such breed of animal. I am a southerner, and most of my family has been in the South, going back at least 250 years, and in some cases, all the way back to the Virginia of the 1630s. In other words Bubba, and as Flo used to say on that TV show, Alice, you can “kiss my grits.”

Several of my family members served the Confederacy in battle. Whether or not they understood the battle to be about slavery (and let’s not kid ourselves, most all southerners at the time knew full well that maintaining the institution of enslavement was the point of their breakaway government), their leaders made clear that this was the very purpose of the confederacy. So, if we are to remember history, we must surely begin with this fact: that whatever sacrifices confederate soldiers made, they made them for an underlying mission that was evil; a mission that cannot be sanitized, scrubbed clean of all inculpatory evidence, and turned into something valiant and worthy of positive commemoration.

What the Confederacy Was Not About

To suggest, as the neo-confederates do that the seceding states left the Union to preserve "state's rights" as a principle--separate and apart from the right to maintain slavery in those states, specifically--is absurd. After all, the rights that southern leaders felt were being impeded were specifically those rights tied to the maintenance of the slave system, and its extension into new territories in the West, recently added to the nation as a result of the war with Mexico. Because the Republican Party and Lincoln were "free soilers"--dedicated to banning slavery in the new territories--the slaveocracies of the South were convinced that their economic systems would be crippled over time, as they became outvoted in the Congress, and as the nation moved to a free labor system, as opposed to one deeply reliant on enslavement.

That the only "state's rights" being fought for were the rights of said states to operate a slave system was attested to by southern leaders themselves. In December of 1860, Alabama sent commissioners to the other slave states to advocate for their secession. One of the commissioners was Stephen Hale, whose job was to persuade Kentucky to leave the Union. In his letter to the Governor of Kentucky, he asked and answered the question as to which "state's rights" were being violated by the North

"…what rights have been denied, what wrongs have been done, or threatened to be done, of which the Southern states, or the people of the Southern states, can complain?" he asked. In the very next paragraph he offered the answer, clearly and unmistakably:

"African slavery has not only become one of the fixed domestic institutions of the Southern states, but forms an important element of their political power, and constitutes the most valuable species of their property…forming, in fact, the basis upon which rests the prosperity and wealth of most of these states…It is upon this gigantic interest, this peculiar institution of the South, that the Northern states and their people have been waging an unrelenting and fanatical war for the last quarter of a century. An institution with which is bound up, not only the wealth and prosperity of the Southern people, but their very existence as a political community…They attack us through their literature, in their schools, from the hustings, in their legislative halls, through the public press…to strike down the rights of the Southern slave-holder, and override every barrier which the Constitution has erected for his protection."
So too, the conflict was not about trade and tariff issues, as often claimed by the revisionists. Although the South had long opposed high tariffs on goods from England--which had a disproportionate impact on the South because they raised the cost of goods the region needed and which were not locally produced, and also made it more costly for Britain to purchase southern cotton--by the time of secession, the tariffs had been cut dramatically. Alexander Stephens, who would become Vice-President of the Confederacy noted as much when he spoke to the Georgia legislature in 1860, explaining:

"The tariff no longer distracts the public councils. Reason has triumphed...The present tariff was voted for by Massachusetts and South Carolina. The lion and the lamb lay down together--every man in the Senate and the House from Massachusetts and South Carolina, I think, voted for it…(the duties) were made just as low as Southern men asked them to be, and those are the rates they are now at."
The fact is, the worst of all tariffs ever imposed--known in popular lore as the Tariff of Abominations--had been most harshly enforced during the Presidency of Andrew Jackson, a Southerner. Yet no state save South Carolina ever threatened secession over this "mother of all tariffs," suggesting that it alone (or others like it, even less harsh) would hardly have been a significant contributor to the rupture of 1860-1861.

Wearing Their Racism On Their Sleeve: The Real Reason for Secession

Not state's rights, not tariffs, but slavery and the desire to maintain and extend its reach was the reason for southern secession, for the creation of this putrid confederacy the Governor of Virginia (and the legislatures of several other southern states) would have us commemorate. CSA Vice-President Stephens explained as much in crystal clear detail when he noted that the Confederate government's "foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and moral condition."

In this address, delivered in Savannah in the spring of 1861, Stephens went on to distinguish the centrality of racism and slavery in the South, from that of all past governmental systems, including the United States:

"This, our newer Government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth. Those at the North...assume that the negro is equal, and hence conclude that he is entitled to equal privileges and rights, with the white man. If their premises were correct, their conclusions would be logical and just; but their premises being wrong, their whole argument fails."
Then in April, 1861, after Virginia lawmakers had voted 2-1 against secession, Stephens traveled to Richmond to implore the state's leaders to change their minds and join the confederacy. In order to convince them, Stephens made what he thought would be his most persuasive pitch, laying out the case for dissolving the union in blatantly racist terms. He noted:
"One good and wise feature in our new and revised Constitution is that we have put to rest the vexed question of slavery forever…On this subject, from which sprung the immediate cause of our late troubles and threatened dangers, you will indulge me in a few remarks as not irrelevant to the occasion."

He went on to articulate the principle of white supremacy as being central to the ideology of the Confederate government:
"As a race, the African is inferior to the white man. Subordination to the white man is his normal condition. He is not equal by nature, and cannot be made so by human laws or human institutions. Our system, therefore, so far as regards this inferior race, rests upon this great immutable law of nature. It is founded not upon wrong or injustice, but upon the eternal fitness of things. Hence, its harmonious working for the benefit and advantage of both…The great truth, I repeat, upon which our system rests, is the inferiority of the African. The enemies of our institutions ignore this truth. They set out with the assumption that the races are equal…hence, so much misapplied sympathy for fancied wrongs and sufferings. These wrongs and sufferings exist only in their heated imaginations. There can be no wrong where there is no violation of nature's laws…It is the fanatics of the North, who are warring against the decrees of God Almighty, in their attempts to make things equal which he made unequal."
Only after Stephens's presentation, in which racial supremacy was the clear and singular rallying cry, did Virginia opt to secede, suggesting that their decision was not merely in response to a perceived federal invasion of the South, or state sovereignty in the abstract, but because of the perception that white supremacy and racism were imperiled. One wonders if Governor McDonnell will require that Virginians reflect upon this aspect of their role in the confederacy: namely, that only after being whipped into a racist fervor by appeals to white supremacy did the state's lawmakers even seek to join the breakaway government in the first place.

Additionally, we know that secession and the formation of the Confederate system was about the desire to maintain enslavement of blacks, because of the proclamations made by various leaders of the southern states at the time. Four states issued explicit "Declarations of Causes" for their secession, and in each case their stated reasons specifically spoke to the fear that the slave system upon which they had grown dependent was imperiled. Mississippi, for instance, listed its grievances with the North as follows: the failure to uphold the Fugitive Slave laws, enticing of slaves to run away, the desire to prohibit slavery in the territories, the desire to exclude new slave states from the union, and the desire, ultimately to abolish slavery in all the Union.

When South Carolina's legislature voted for secession, it reported out two documents from its convention. The first was a Declaration of Causes, which spoke exclusively about the increasing "hostility" of the Northern states to the institution of slavery. The second was an address to the other slaveholding states, written by Robert Barnwell Rhett.

In Rhett's document – an exhortation to the other slave states to secede – he argued:
"The fairest portions of the world have been turned into wildernesses, and the most civilized and prosperous communities have been impoverished and ruined by Anti-Slavery fanaticism. The people of the North have not left us in doubt as to their designs and policy…they have elected as the exponent of their policy one who has openly declared that all the States of the United States must be made Free States or Slave States…if African slavery in the Southern States be the evil their political combinations affirm it to be, the requisitions of an inexorable logic must lead them to emancipation. If it is right to preclude or abolish slavery in a territory, why should it be allowed to remain in the States?"
And when Alabama Commissioner Stephen Hale wrote to the governor of Kentucky in late 1860, after Lincoln's election but before his inauguration, seeking to persuade him to leave the union he argued similarly:
"The Federal Government has failed to protect the rights and property of the citizens of the South, and is about to pass into the hands of a party pledged for the destruction not only of their rights and property, but…the heaven-ordained superiority of the white over the black race…Will the South give up the institution of slavery, and consent that her citizens be stripped of their property, her civilization destroyed, the whole land laid waste by fire and sword? It is impossible; she cannot, she will not…"
Hale's fanatical commitment to the notions of white supremacy and African savagery was made clear later in the letter when he argued:

"…this new theory of Government (as articulated by the Republicans) destroys the property of the South, lays waste her fields, and inaugurates all the horrors of a San Domingo servile insurrection, consigning her citizens to assassinations, and her wives and daughters to pollution and violation, to gratify the lust of half-civilized Africans…"

He continued by conjuring up the fear that whites and blacks would be made social equals under Republican rule: a fate that, to hear him tell it, was worse than death,

"If the policy of the Republicans is carried out," Hale explained, "according to the programme indicated by the leaders of the party, and the South submits, degradation and ruin must overwhelm alike all classes of citizens in the Southern states. The slave-holder and non-slave holder must ultimately share the same fate—all be degraded to a position of equality with free negroes, stand side-by-side with them at the polls, and fraternize in all the social relations of life; or else there will be eternal war of races, desolating the land with blood, and utterly wasting the destroying all the resources of the country. Who can look upon such a picture without a shudder? What Southern man, be he slave-holder or non-slave-holder, can without indignation and horror contemplate the triumph of negro equality, and see his own sons and daughters, in the not distant future, associating with free negroes upon terms of political and social equality, and the white man stripped, by the Heaven-daring hand of fanaticism, of that title to superiority over the black race which God himself has bestowed?"
Hale then explained that a Southern triumph over the Union would allow the maintenance of slavery as its principal (and only mentioned) benefit, and would serve as a bulwark against black barbarism.
"If we triumph…we can…preserve an institution that has done more to civilize and Christianize the heathen than all human agencies beside—and institution beneficial to both races, ameliorating the moral, physical and intellectual condition of the one, and giving wealth and happiness to the other. If we fail, the light of our civilization goes down in blood, our wives and our little ones will be driven from their homes by the light of our own dwellings. The dark pall of barbarism must soon gather over our sunny land, and the scenes of West India emancipation, with its attendant horrors and crimes, be re-enacted in our own land upon a more gigantic scale."
Praising Villains and Ignoring Real S/heroes: The Real "Heritage Violation"

Aside from a mere historical dispute however--and truthfully, as the evidence above indicates, there is no real dispute among actual historians--neo-confederate mythology is disturbing for another reason. Namely, it forever tethers the history of the South to the history of a four-year breakaway government, as if the latter can and should speak for the former. It conflates the South and the Confederacy, and in so doing suggests that this is what makes the region special, and that this is what we in the South should be proud of.

Yet, such a purposeful distortion does historical violence to the memory of the brave southerners who fought against racism, enslavement and the subordination of peoples of color. It suggests that the South is better represented by Jefferson Davis than Martin Luther King Jr. or Fannie Lou Hamer, or any of the leaders of the civil rights struggle, almost all of whom had southern roots that ran every bit as deep--deeper in fact--than most of the folks running around in confederate costumes re-enacting long-ago battles. To venerate the confederacy as a proud part of southern heritage is to elevate it to an equal or even superior position vis-a-vis that struggle, and to suggest that one should be just as proud of an ancestor who believed in owning other human beings as with an ancestor who stood up for freedom and justice.

Even for white southerners we surely can point to better role models than this. Why turn to Johnny Reb for sustenance when we have Moncure Conway, Duncan Smith, William Shreve Bailey, John Fee, Virginia Foster Durr, J Waties Waring, Anne Braden, Bob Zellner, and Mab Segrest from whom we might draw inspiration?

Why identify with an ignoble cause led by bigots when we have genuine heroes and sheroes, black, white and all shades between, whose efforts on behalf of human dignity and equality lasted far longer than the lifespan of that wicked confederacy? Why confirm every unjust stereotype about white southerners--which is what neo-confederate nonsense does--by cleaving to a tradition that is forever bound up with racism and white supremacy? In the greatest irony of confederate revisionism, then, those whose apologetics have come to define the movement, do a great disservice to the many antiracist legends whose stories are as southern as their own, and in the process, do a disservice to the south.

It is time for those of us who are proud southerners to reclaim our land, and our story, and our heritage: a heritage that includes all of us. A heritage that is as much about Tuskegee as the University of Alabama, as much about Jackson State as Ole Miss. A heritage that is as much about Medgar Evers as it is about George Wallace. And a heritage that, if we are prepared to fight for it, can be as much about justice in the present and future, as it was about injustice in the past.

Tim Wise is the author of five books on race and racism. His latest is Colorblind: The Rise of Post-Racial Politics and the Retreat from Racial Equity, from City Lights.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Newsweek Says Priests Aren't Any MORE Likely To Abuse Than Other Males

And I cannot tell you how much better that makes me feel (actually, I give a fuck: people who believe in magic beings are demonstrably more credulous than skeptics, and are no more entitled to 'protection' from their follies than people who invest in Ponzi schemes or three-card-monte games).

No, really!
Newsweek's Implausible Defense of Catholic Priests
04/10/2010 by Jim Naureckas

The evidence Newsweek presents to back up the heading of a recent Web article--"Priests Commit No More Abuse Than Other Males" (">4/8/10)--is remarkably unpersuasive.

Here's the main argument offered by reporter Pat Wingert:

The only hard data that has been made public by any denomination comes from John Jay College's study of Catholic priests, which was authorized and is being paid for by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops following the public outcry over the 2002 scandals. Limiting their study to plausible accusations made between 1950 and 1992, John Jay researchers reported that about 4 percent of the 110,000 priests active during those years had been accused of sexual misconduct involving children. Specifically, 4,392 complaints (ranging from "sexual talk" to rape) were made against priests by 10,667 victims....

Experts disagree on the rate of sexual abuse among the general American male population, but [National Center for Missing and Exploited Children president Ernie] Allen says a conservative estimate is one in 10. Margaret Leland Smith, a researcher at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, says her review of the numbers indicates it's closer to one in 5. But in either case, the rate of abuse by Catholic priests is not higher than these national estimates.... Even those numbers may be low; research suggests that only a third of abuse cases are ever reported (making it the most underreported crime).
So a study funded by the Catholic bishops found that there had been "plausible accusations" against 4 percent of priests active between 1950 and 1992. That end date is convenient: Wingert notes later, by way of trying to explain why priests seem to molest more kids than they actually do, that two-thirds of complaints against priests have been made since 1992. So a study that included all "plausible accusations" against priests since 1950 would likely produce a figure closer to 12 percent than 4 percent.

Wingert then compares this to estimates--including one by the person who did the bishop-funded study, though the reporter doesn't note this--that 10 to 20 percent of all U.S. males have sexually abused children. Regardless of how credible these figures seem, they're clearly not directly comparable to the John Jay number; there certainly have not been "plausible accusations" of pedophilia against 12 million to 24 million living American men. (Though Wingert seems to think that there might have been, writing that the 20 percent figure "may be low" because "only a third of abuse cases are ever reported." So 60 percent of U.S. males may be secretly engaging in child sex abuse?)

For a more comparable figure, there were 60,749 perpetrators of child sexual abuse identified by the federal National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System in 2008; assuming these were all adult males, that works out to a rate of about 0.05 percent for that group. Now, that's one year, not 42, but even if there were no recidivism at all, it's still clear that the priests in the John Jay study were accused of molesting children at a considerably higher rate than that--and that's a study that leaves out the bulk of such accusations.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Westboro Baptist Church: Hippie Street Theater 'Born Again'

As a less-than-embedded, but more than occasional member of the 'counter-culture'/anti-war demi-monde of the late 60s and early 70s, I was part of no small number of planning and strategy sessions whereby people bent on creating counter-narratives with which to unbalance the dominant ones struggled to figure out ways to capture the attention of the 'press/media' and launch our messages. A commonly suggested stratagem was 'street theater,' a kind of political activity that enacts certain narratives without any proscenium or narrator, per se, other than that which the actors create from the experiences of their audience--a populace at large.

That is, exactly what the Fred Phelps-led demonstrators perform under the banner of Westboro Baptist Church. He's just like all us other old hippies, out there flinging shit, loudly, and outrageously, and infuriatingly. But he's still no more than a stage magician, pulling toxic rabbits out of his pious hats.

It's a clever ploy. We old hippies never really got it right. But Phelps has greater protections than we did. We were, after all, mere "dope-smoking, draft-dodging, treasonous, spoiled, malcontents." Phelps and his lot are hiding behind two formidable barricades. The first is "religion." The First Amendment ramifications of endeavoring to restrain religion are manifold. Then there's the staqtus factor. Phelps and his cohorts are middle-class, well-dressed, plausible 'white people.' The "majority." They're 'entitled' to shriek hatred and defile emotional events by their status in the 'majority.' Lesser folks, such as the counter-culture of my day, and the civil rights demonstrators in theirs, never had police protection.

They're provocateurs who are very good at it. They scruple at nothing short of outright falsehoods. Nobody can say for sure that "God" does NOT "hate Fags"--notwithstanding the fact that nobody can say what such a thing as "God" would (or even could) say on such a matter, even if there were such a thing as "God," which cannot be either proven or refuted, either). You see how tricky it is. Phelps and the Westboro folks have figured out the important part of the puzzle. You're entitled to say anything to anybody, and get away with it if you're 1) religious and 2) white, as long as you don't "break the law."

They're very careful. They're inflammatory, but never START any violence. The law is on their side. There's lawyers in the group who set up confrontations that seem inevitably to engender lawsuits, and they make a living off defeating complaintants, and winning judgments. There's no way to 'persuade" 'em to stop. They have a constituency, power. They get ink/bits. Because they enact a conscious self-parody, you cannot satirize 'em. It's a living Poe, a "post-modern" production...

And I wish I/we had had the courage to be REALLY disgusting, back in the day. We tried, smearing blood on documents, and burning our cards, and marching, and burning the flag, shit like that. But I do not think any of my generation disrupted any military funerals. Was there something unspoken? I don't know. But I wouldn't have done it...And Phelps would...And there's no cops kicking his ass...

Friday, April 09, 2010

Huh? Chickens? Who? Roost? What? Where?


Here's my prediction for the final outcome of the Wikileaks video: the U.S. military will continue to claim some of the people killed were armed insurgents. This will satisfy all U.S. conservatives and most U.S. "liberals." Meanwhile, everyone else on this planet will continue to gape at us in slack-jawed horror.

Why the sharp difference between us and the rest of humanity?

1. I have no idea whether any of the people shot were armed, or insurgents, or armed insurgents. There will inevitably be long dreary arguments about this between U.S. liberals and conservatives, complete with 5,000-word blog posts analyzing the video frame by frame.

But here's the thing: even if everyone but the journalist and children were armed insurgents, no one else on earth cares. That's because, when another country invades yours, you're allowed to fight back. And if you invade another country and start slaughtering people, you don't somehow make yourself the good guy by proving that they were trying to fight back.

2. The technological mismatch between the U.S. and everyone else is so gigantic that it violates normal humans' sense of justice. This is something almost no Americans give a second thought to, but it's widely appreciated in those countries (ie, all of them) that don't have noiseless death-machine drones flown by joystick from 10,000 miles away.

In other words, even if everyone shot in the video had been fighting the U.S., and even if it had somehow been on some neutral third ground, the rest of the world would still be horrified at the unfairness. For instance, here's Colin Powell writing in his autobiography about the shelling of Beirut in 1983, and how that led to the suicide bombing of the Marine barracks there:
McFarlane, now in Beirut, persuaded the President to have the battleship U.S.S. New Jersey start hurling 16-inch shells into the mountains above Beirut, in World War II style, as if we were softening up the beaches on some Pacific atoll prior to an invasion. What we tend to overlook in such situations is that other people will react much as we would... And since they could not reach the battleship, they found a more vulnerable target, the exposed Marines at the airport.
I think we can count on the fact that, since no one could reach the Apache attack helicopters shooting from far overhard, someone will try to find a more vulnerable target. And Americans will find this terribly unfair, while to the rest of the world it will seem like the essence of fairness.

—Jonathan Schwarz
Posted at April 8, 2010 11:32 PM

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Mock Mormonism

Australian filmmaker John Safran is so fed up with mormons ringing his doorbell early in the morning that he flies to Salt Lake City Utah and tries to convert Mormons to atheism. Needless to say, the locals were not pleased.

Door To Door Atheists Bother Mormons - Watch more Funny Videos

What You Have To Believe To Accept The "Official Story" of 9/11

(I'm of the "LIHOP" (Let It Happen On Purpose) persuasion, myself.)
Directed by a beardy-guy from a cave in Afghanistan, nineteen hard-drinking, coke-snorting, devout Muslims enjoy lap dances before their mission to meet Allah…

Using nothing more than craft knifes, they overpower cabin crew, passengers and pilots on four planes…

And hangover or not, 4 planes manage to give the world’s most sophisticated air defense system the slip…

Unphased by leaving their “How to Fly a Passenger Jet” guide in the car at the airport, they master the controls in no-time and score direct hits on two towers, causing THREE to collapse completely…

Our masterminds even manage to overpower the odd law of physics or two… and the world watches in awe as steel-framed buildings fall symmetrically – through their own mass – faster than the speed of gravity, for the first time in history.

Despite all their dastardly cunning, they stupidly give their identity away by using explosion-proof passports, made out of material stronger than the black boxes stored on planes, which survive the fireball undamaged and fall to the ground… only to be discovered by the incredible crime-fighting sleuths at the FBI…

…Meanwhile down in Washington…

Hani Hanjour, having previously flunked 2-man Cessna flying school, gets carried away with all the success of the day and suddenly finds incredible abilities behind the controls of a Boeing…

Instead of flying straight down into the large roof area of the Pentagon, he decides to show off a little…

Executing an incredible 270 degree downward spiral, he levels off to hit the low facade of the world’s most heavily defended building…

…all without a single shot being fired…. or ruining the nicely mowed lawn… and all at a speed just too fast to capture on video…

…Later, in the skies above Pennsylvania…

So desperate to talk to loved ones before their death, some passengers use sheer willpower to connect mobile calls at 30,000 feet that otherwise would not be possible until several years later…

And following a heroic attempt by some to retake control of Flight 93, it crashes into a Shankesville field leaving no trace of engines, fuselage or occupants… except for the standard issue Muslim terrorists bandana…

…Further south in Florida…

President Bush, our brave Commander-in-Chief, after being notified that the WTC tower had been hit, continues to read “My Pet Goat” for a full 7 minutes to a class full of primary school children… with the Secret Service shrugging off the possibility that his life could be in imminent danger.
In New York…

World Trade Center leaseholder Larry Silverstein blesses his own foresight in insuring the buildings against terrorist attack only six weeks previously, while collecting 14 BILLION in insurance winnings…

While back in Washington, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz shake their heads in disbelief at their own luck in getting the ‘New Reichstag Fire’ catalyzing event they so desired to pursue their agenda of world domination…
Got it? It's not that tough, really, if you can suitably compartmentalize!

Saturday, April 03, 2010

An Apt Quote May Be A Suitable Substitute For Wit...

This is both well-researched index of the rude philosopher's most pithy observations, and a nice synopsis of why Nietzsche is oftern reviled.

A gift for aphorism is a lonely thing (see "Mis Dichos" on The Well-Armed Lamb, and scroll down). I have often though that, had I been born in an age such as Nietzsche (or Ovid), I might have won tenure....
40 Belief-Shaking Remarks From a Ruthless Nonconformist
by DAVID on MARCH 26, 2010

If there’s one thing Friedrich Nietzsche did well, it’s obliterate feel-good beliefs people have about themselves. He has been criticized for being a misanthrope, a subvert, a cynic and a pessimist, but I think these assessments are off the mark. I believe he only wanted human beings to be more honest with themselves.

He did have a remarkable gift for aphorism — he once declared, “It is my ambition to say in ten sentences what others say in a whole book.” A hundred years after his death, Nietzsche retains his disturbing talent for turning a person’s worldview upside-down with one jarring remark.

Even today his words remain controversial. They hit nerves. Most of his views are completely at odds with the status quo.

Here are 40 unsympathetic statements from the man himself. Many you’ll agree with. Others you will resist, but these are the ones to pay the most attention to — your beliefs are being challenged. It’s either an opportunity to grow, or to insist that you already know better. If any of them hit a nerve in you, ask yourself why.


1. People who have given us their complete confidence believe that they have a right to ours. The inference is false, a gift confers no rights.

2. He that humbleth himself wishes to be exalted.

3. The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently.

4. There are no facts, only interpretations.

5. Morality is but the herd-instinct in the individual.

6. No one talks more passionately about his rights than he who in the depths of his soul doubts whether he has any.

7. Without music, life would be a mistake.

8. Anyone who has declared someone else to be an idiot, a bad apple, is annoyed when it turns out in the end that he isn’t.

9. In large states public education will always be mediocre, for the same reason that in large kitchens the cooking is usually bad.

10. The man of knowledge must be able not only to love his enemies but also to hate his friends.

11. A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything.

12. We often refuse to accept an idea merely because the way in which it has been expressed is unsympathetic to us.

13. No victor believes in chance.

14. Convictions are more dangerous foes of truth than lies.

15. Talking much about oneself can also be a means to conceal oneself.

16. It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.

17. The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude.

18. The future influences the present just as much as the past.

19. The most common lie is that which one tells himself; lying to others is relatively an exception.

20. I counsel you, my friends: Distrust all in whom the impulse to punish is powerful.

21. Rejoicing in our joy, not suffering over our suffering, is what makes someone a friend.

22. God is a thought who makes crooked all that is straight.

23. Success has always been a great liar.

24. Nothing on earth consumes a man more quickly than the passion of resentment.

25. What do you regard as most humane? To spare someone shame.

26. Whatever is done for love always occurs beyond good and evil.

27. When a hundred men stand together, each of them loses his mind and gets another one.

28. When one has a great deal to put into it a day has a hundred pockets.

29. Whoever despises himself nonetheless respects himself as one who despises.

30. All things are subject to interpretation. Whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth.

31. What is good? All that heightens the feeling of power, the will to power, power itself. What is bad? All that is born of weakness. What is happiness? The feeling that power is growing, that resistance is overcome.

32. Fear is the mother of morality.

33. A politician divides mankind into two classes: tools and enemies.

34. Everyone who has ever built anywhere a new heaven first found the power thereto in his own hell.

35. There is more wisdom in your body than in your deepest philosophy.

36. The mother of excess is not joy but joylessness.

37. The Kingdom of Heaven is a condition of the heart — not something that comes upon the earth or after death.

38. What is the mark of liberation? No longer being ashamed in front of oneself.

39. Glance into the world just as though time were gone: and everything crooked will become straight to you.

40. We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once.

Friday, April 02, 2010

More of that good, old *CYCB*I, Health-Care Reform Edition

Pres. Febreez H. Shamwow has sold us people the FUCK out...

Here's a short compendium of the 10 most obvious loophioles and exceptions of which the Heal Insurance Parasites hope to avail themselves over the next TWELVE (12) fucking years, while the Obamination Health Insurance Reform comes, slowly, painfully, erratically, unevenly, probably incompletely into being.

Via Kos, and from Froomkin (HuffPost) and Meg Carpentier (WashInde), here's the TOP 10 Ways The Paraasites Will Game The Law:

1. Raising premiums
There is absolutely, positively no prohibition on companies raising premiums at outrageous rates until 2014 — so they’re not going to stop....

2. Kicking people out for pre-existing conditions
The insurance industry may have relented about using pre-existing conditions to determine children’s eligibility, but ... the way they floated the idea that the law didn’t really totally require them to accept children with pre-existing conditions is a hint that they’re desperately looking for a similar loophole in 2014 and beyond.

3. Changing your insurance plan
...They’re busy shutting down and restricting access to managed care plans (HMOs) and pushing current customers into high-deductible plans, where customers have to pay all expenses out of pocket before the insurance company picks up a dime. ...[C]ustomers pay a (relatively) small premium each month and then the first $2,500 of their health care each year before the insurance company begins to cover a percentage of the costs of their medical care.

4. Making life more difficult for doctors
One great way to reduce insurance company payouts is to make it more difficult for doctors to file claims, which insurance companies are already planning on doing.

5. Tightening up internal practices
That’s a euphemism for giving patients and doctors enough of a run-around trying to get bills paid to convince them to give up asking for reimbursements.

6. Marketing only to healthy people
...[I]f they make certain drugs hard (or impossible) to find on pharmaceutical formularies, or put up physical barriers to obtaining the insurance, they can (and likely will) keep more elderly and sick people from even applying for their insurance.

7. Re-label current overhead expenses at health care
When the reform finally takes full effect in 2014, insurance companies will have to spend 80 percent of their premiums on care for their customers. Thus, in order to make more money, they’ll have to increase the money you spend on care, or figure out a way to classify expenses currently deemed “overhead” as “health care for you.”...

8. Taking full advantage of the unhealthy behavior premium
In the reform, insurers are allowed to makes premiums 50 percent more expensive for consumers who engage in “unhealthy” behaviors, which was intended to allow them to continue charging smokers higher premiums. But there are lots of behaviors deemed “unhealthy.”...

9. Charging old people as much as they can
The law allows insurers to charge people between 55 and 65 (the current age of Medicare eligibility) three times more than people 54 and under. So on their fifty-fifth birthdays, some customers could get new, higher insurance bills that put readjusted mortgage bills to shame — and there won’t be anything remotely illegal about it.

10. Lobbying to make the most of the loopholes that exist and create others
It likely goes without saying that all the money and lobbying time that went into watering down health care reform and trying to keep it from passing aren’t just going to stop flowing to Washington. Rather, as the Department of Health and Human Services spends its time promulgating rules to govern the various reforms in the bill, lobbyists will simply switch their focus from the Hill to HHS....
*CYCBI* = Change You Can Believe In