Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Exit bags for the peeps

""Sharlotte Hydorn peddles a product touted for its deadly simplicity. Inside her butterfly-decorated boxes are clear plastic bags and medical-grade tubing. A customer places the bag over his head, connects the tubing from the bag to a helium tank, turns the valve and breathes. The so-called suicide kit asphyxiates a customer within minutes.

Orders come from all over the world, from people young and old, depressed and terminally ill. "People commit suicide by jumping out of windows and buildings, and hanging themselves," said the 91-year-old former elementary school science teacher. Her product, she says, ends lives peacefully, leaving people "eternally sleepy.""

There you have it, Bubba. Do the world a favor.
Mo' on the metaphysics of "To off, or not to off"

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Friday, May 27, 2011

DoD phunn


""Less than a month after Obama got Osama, House Republicans still don't trust the president to safeguard U.S. national security. At least, that's only possibly explanation for this year's National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which passed the House yesterday and is now headed to the Democrat-controlled Senate.

While the NDAA is intended to define the budget of the Department of Defense, this year's bill includes provisions that, if signed into law, would undermine a number of President Obama's signature national security initiatives, including his repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," efforts to reign in wasteful defense spending and, most significantly, the implementation of the New START nuclear agreement with Russia.

Approved by a bipartisan majority in late 2010, the New START nuclear arms control treaty requires the United States and Russia to reduce their arsenals to 1,550 deployed, strategic nuclear weapons. Considering that nearly all of these weapons are far more powerful than the bombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, such an arsenal would provide more than enough firepower for the United States to meet any conceivable national security threat. If you're not going to be deterred by 1,550 nuclear weapons, you're not going be deterred by anything. Perhaps most importantly, the treaty replaces the verification system that expired with the START I treaty, thereby providing an element of stability to the U.S.-Russia relationship.

The NDAA, however, attempts to hamper President Obama's nuclear policy in three ways. First, it bars funding for New START reductions until the Secretary of Defense and Energy Secretary certify to Congress that that the administration is on track to invest $180 billion in nuclear modernization over the next 10 years.""

What's $690 billion between friends.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The argumentative theory of reasoning

Win the argument--advance the gene pool

""Communication is hugely important for humans, and there is good reason to believe that this has been the case throughout our evolution, as different types of collaborative—and therefore communicative—activities already played a big role in our ancestors’ lives (hunting, collecting, raising children, etc.). However, for communication to be possible, listeners have to have ways to discriminate reliable, trustworthy information from potentially dangerous information—otherwise speakers would be wont to abuse them through lies and deception. One way listeners and speakers can improve the reliability of communication is through arguments. The speaker gives a reason to accept a given conclusion. The listener can then evaluate this reason to decide whether she should accept the conclusion. In both cases, they will have used reasoning—to find and evaluate a reason respectively. If reasoning does its job properly, communication has been improved: a true conclusion is more likely to be supported by good arguments, and therefore accepted, thereby making both the speaker—who managed to convince the listener—and the listener—who acquired a potentially valuable piece of information—better off.""

Logic--it's in your best interest, say the experts. Or at least, far superior to an Eddie Joonley  attitude adjustment lecture. 
+ + + + + + + + +

Feliz cumpleanos a Bob Dylan

Sunday, May 22, 2011


""Numbers are language, and John of Patmos, author of The Revelation of John, loved numbers. Sixes, obviously, in triplicate, a few 10s, and sevens -- especially sevens: Seven messages to seven communities, seven seals, seven trumpets, seven bowls. It is the author's "single most insistent motif," writes Jonathan Kirsch. Adele Yarbro Collins calls it "an organizing principle" of the whole of the work." But why sevens? Why not twos, eights or nines? Collins tells us that the late Pythagoreans as well as Philo of Alexandria, Jewish biblical interpreter and philosopher, agreed that "all reality is ordered and that order is expressed in patterns of seven ... [because] ... [t]he symbolic significance of this number is cosmic." And, as Kirsch points out, it was God's resting on the seventh day that signified creation's completion, making seven a "symbol of divine wholeness in Judaism."

All this would have made sense to the seven communities John had in mind and as he took up his pen, around the year 95 C.E., he was writing to them, not to us, and in a language of symbol and imagery that were as current and familiar to them as it is ancient and weird to us. Which brings me back to Fred, an obviously bright fellow, yet whose assumption about the meaning of 666 is characteristic of the inevitable flattening-out that results when ancient, complicated texts are read as if they are stories from old newspapers. """


Saturday, May 21, 2011

Sabado gigante

For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun? ~Kahlil Gibran, from "The Prophet"

Thursday, May 19, 2011

P.K. Dick vs. Lincoln and Hegel


"SLASH: What’s your prognosis for the next 25 years? Do you think things are going to get real dismal?
DICK: No! No! I think things are going to get really good. I think we’re going to see a great decentralization of the government, which is good. The government is just failing to solve the economic problems and it will devolve to the state.
SLASH: States? That’s what Ronald Reagan is after, isn’t it?
DICK: Yeah. I think he’s right about that. If you got really sick now it’s the state of California that’s going to pick up your bill … not the federal government. We could survive much better without the federal government than without the state government.
JETER: It’s like those forces in the Brown administration who want to conclude a separate treaty with Mexico for petroleum products. What the hell! California is the sixth largest industrial nation in the world …
DICK: I know where my state taxes go. They don’t buy weapons with that. I would like to see this country break up into individual states.
SLASH: Wouldn’t that mean some pretty piss poor states?
DICK: Yeah, but presumably you’d still be free to travel. I spent years and years studying the war between the states and as much as I admire Lincoln, I think his philosophy was wrong and they should have let the South secede. That would have been a much wiser decision.
SLASH: What would things be like now? Would the South still have slavery?
DICK: Definitely not. Civil rights would be much worse for Blacks in the South than they are now but … on the positive side … uh I have books written during the war of speeches made by General Sherman have the right to self determination.
SLASH: Sounds more Socialist.
DICK: Well, actually they influenced the Germans on that. The North adopted the Hegelian view of state as a real entity rather than an abstraction which has led to the massive centralized government as bad as the Soviet Union. The original model for the U.S. was modeled by Jefferson after the models of the American Indian Federations. There is no doubt that the founding fathers were designing a system of independent and allied states based on these Indian models. Jefferson would have been appalled by Lincoln’s contesting the supremacy of states rights."

*Not an endorsement of American Conservative, or PK Dick's pro-Confederate, libertarian politics as expressed herein.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

the Spuds

Queen Liz II visits Eire--
"Sometimes words aren’t necessary. That was the case Tuesday when Queen Elizabeth II placed a wreath in Dublin’s Garden of Remembrance to honor the Irish rebels who lost their lives fighting for freedom — from Britain.

The queen became the first British monarch to set foot in Dublin for a century. Her four-day visit is designed to show that the bitter enmity of Ireland’s war of independence 90 years ago has been replaced by Anglo-Irish friendship, and that peace has become irreversible in the neighboring British territory of Northern Ireland."
"Of the various forms of government which have prevailed in the world, an hereditary monarchy seems to present the fairest scope for ridicule. "

Edward Gibbon

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

adios, Trump


""Donald Trump is out but the memory of the Trump-for-President era will, I hope, live on.

We've learned a lot. The public, for instance, has been educated to understand that you can't trust a thing the guy says.

"I maintain the strong conviction that if I were to run, I would be able to win the primary and ultimately, the general election," Trump said in a statement.

Is it possible he really believes that? If so, would you buy a used apartment building from this man?

The Trump presidential campaign should go down in history as a huge warning sign for other rich, high-profile jerks who think they can notch their name recognition up to even more astronomic levels by pretending to be presidential timber and making outrageous, headline-grabbing allegations about whoever's running the country."

Monday, May 16, 2011

Tax increases...

without a public vote...

LA Times/Brown

""""Gov. Jerry Brown, facing mounting pressure to walk away from his stalled budget plan, is refusing to yield and will seek to reinvigorate his campaign for a public vote on taxes with the revised spending package he releases Monday.

But there will be a new twist.

Having failed to win enough Republican votes to put the taxes on the ballot in June, the governor is expected to ask lawmakers to impose at least some of the levies first and seek Californians' blessing after the fact, said officials with knowledge of Brown's plan.

The governor faces rough seas in his quest for billions of dollars in additional income, sales and vehicle taxes.

GOP lawmakers' resolve to block both a legislative vote for the taxes and a public referendum has intensified with recent news that state revenue is outpacing projections. The uptick could continue, they say, erasing billions from a $15-billion deficit.

Even Democratic leaders and the governor's union backers, doubting the odds of a tax measure passing at the ballot box, are pushing Brown to break his pledge and forgo voter input.

"Go get a deal done," said David Kieffer, executive director of the state council of the influential Service Employees International Union, in a challenge to Brown and the Legislature. Californians "would vote the taxes down," he said, and "they don't actually need to be involved in this decision."""

That's how the State works.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Civil War/150

Irish soldiers

"Though parades, battle reenactments, and speeches will be common to mark the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, the mission of members of the 69th Pennsylvania Irish is different:

They find the burial spots of Civil War soldiers whose families could not afford gravestones. They sift through Philadelphia death records and look up cemetery plot maps. When they find a soldier, they file the required paperwork to get a headstone for the unmarked grave.

"We have located 350 of our soldiers around the country. Of those, we have put stones on 66," said Don Ernsberger, former Council Rock High School history teacher and author of five Civil War books, including Paddy Owen's Regulars about the 69th's Irish volunteers from Philadelphia...."

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Sabado gigante

Music is the melody whose text is the world.


Friday, May 13, 2011


fear of Friday the 13th:

...""The sixth day of the week and the number 13 both have foreboding reputations said to date from ancient times, and their inevitable conjunction from one to three times a year (there happens to be only one such occurrence in 2011, in the month of May) portends more misfortune than some credulous minds can bear. According to some sources it's the most widespread superstition in the United States today. Some people refuse to go to work on Friday the 13th; some won't eat in restaurants; many wouldn't think of setting a wedding on the date.

How many Americans at the beginning of the 21st century suffer from this condition? According to Dr. Donald Dossey, a psychotherapist specializing in the treatment of phobias (and coiner of the term paraskevidekatriaphobia, also spelled paraskavedekatriaphobia), the figure may be as high as 21 million. If he's right, no fewer than eight percent of Americans remain in the grips of a very old superstition. ...""

In the words of Penn Jillette...bull-shit.

for a conservative Christian viewpoint on Friday the 13th: click-a-nate

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Floods--climate change in its early stages

McKibben/LA Times

"There are no grounds for optimism in this fight against the weather. So far we've only increased the temperature of the planet about a degree, and that's been enough to set the Arctic to melting, turn the ocean 30% more acidic and make the atmosphere about 4% wetter, loading the dice for floods. Climatologists predict that unless we kick oil, gas and coal habits very, very fast, the increase in temperature will be 4 or 5 degrees before the century is out. If one degree does the damage we're seeing at the moment, we'd be fools to find out what 4 degrees will look like.

But foolishness is carrying the day at the moment. Consider the fecklessness Washington has shown on climate. Just last month, the House voted by a 56-vote margin to deny that climate change was real. It's like an entire chamber full of Neville Chamberlains, hopeful that they can wish trouble away.

There's no one we can shoot to make global warming disappear. But we could, if we wanted, devote the scale of resources we've spent in the last decade invading Iraq and Afghanistan to the task of retooling our energy infrastructure. That's the kind of commitment it would take, an effort we usually seem to muster only in the face of military threat. But the danger that comes from climate change is every bit as real, and in the long run far greater, than anything Al Qaeda could throw at us. We're really fighting for our civilization, as people in the lower Mississippi will spend the next few weeks finding out.""
Let's not forget that the Teabugger-led House recently voted to deny that climate change was occurring .

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

J-Edgar Feinstein

From a WSJ article scrawled a few months ago by Senator Dianne Feinstein, arguing for vigorous prosecution of Wikileaks leader Assange--overlooked by most of the blogger "liberals":

""When WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange released his latest document trove—more than 250,000 secret State Department cables—he intentionally harmed the U.S. government. The release of these documents damages our national interests and puts innocent lives at risk. He should be vigorously prosecuted for espionage.

The law Mr. Assange continues to violate is the Espionage Act of 1917. That law makes it a felony for an unauthorized person to possess or transmit "information relating to the national defense which information the possessor has reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation."

The Espionage Act also makes it a felony to fail to return such materials to the U.S. government. Importantly, the courts have held that "information relating to the national defense" applies to both classified and unclassified material. Each violation is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.""

Monday, May 09, 2011

Pig Oil, continued

End Big Oil Tax Breaks/NY Times
""Linking two of the politically volatile issues of the moment, Senate Democrats say they will move forward this week with a plan that would eliminate tax breaks for big oil companies and divert the savings to offset the deficit.

With high gas prices and rising federal deficits in the political spotlight, senior Democrats believe that tying the two together will put pressure on Senate Republicans to support the measure or face a difficult time explaining their opposition to voters whose family budgets are being strained by fuel prices.

President Obama and some top Congressional Democrats have said they want to take some of an estimated $21 billion in savings from ending the tax breaks and steer it to clean energy projects. But the Senate’s Democratic leadership is calculating that using it to cut the deficit instead makes it a tougher issue politically for Republicans who are trying to burnish their conservative fiscal credentials.

“Big Oil certainly doesn’t need the collective money of taxpayers in this country,” said Senator Robert Menendez, Democrat of New Jersey, one of the authors of the legislation that Democrats intend to showcase. “This is as good a time as any in terms of pain at the pump and in revenues needed for deficit reduction.”""

Sunday, May 08, 2011


Reverend Aldous Huxley, First Church of the Ekstacy Contingent takes on the"Philosophy of Meaninglessness"---
"From the world we actually live in, the world that is given by our senses, our intuitions of beauty and goodness, our emotions and impulses, our moods and sentiments, the man of science abstracts a simplified private universe of things possessing only... elements which can be weighed, measured, numbered, or which lend themselves in any other way to mathematical treatment. By using this technique of simplification and abstraction, the scientist has succeeded to an astonishing degree in understanding and dominating the physical environment. The success was intoxicating and, with an illogicality which, in the circmstances, was doubtless pardonable, many scientists and philosophers came to imagine that this useful abstraction from reality was reality itself. Reality as actually experienced contains intuitions of value and significance, contain love, beauty, mystical ecstasy, intimations of godhead. Science did not and still does not possess intellectual instruments with which to deal with thses aspects of reality. Consquently it ignored them and concentrated its attention upon such aspects of the world as it could deal with by mean of arithmetic, geometry and the various branches of higher mathematics. Our conviction that the world is meaningless lend itself very effectively to furthering the ends of erotic or political passion; in part to a genuine intellectual error -- the error of identifying the world of science, a world from which all meaning and value has been deliberately excluded, with ultimate reality."

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Sabado gigante


"The basis on which good repute in any highly organized industrial community ultimately rests is pecuniary strength; and the means of showing pecuniary strength, and so of gaining or retaining a good name, are leisure and a conspicuous consumption of goods” Veblen

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Uncle Abe


Nathaniel Hawthorne meets Abraham Lincoln--an essay censored by The Atlantic, in July 1862--Hawthorne wrote the bogus editorial notes as well:

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

How To Read the OBL Coverage


"The snuffing of Osama Bin Laden has already filled the Snake River Canyon with a torrent of coverage from newspapers, the Web, and television. The news output will only expand in the coming days, and as it does, remain skeptical about it. As we know from the coverage of other major breaking-news events—the Mumbai massacre, the death of Pat Tillman, Hurricane Katrina, the rescue of Jessica Lynch, to cite just a few examples—the earliest coverage of a big story is rarely reliable...."

Monday, May 02, 2011

commando morning

LA Times/OBL dead

"It was a huge million-dollar enclave in Abbottabad, Pakistan, with far too much security and 18-foot high walls, way taller than necessary to protect the two couriers who allegedly lived there alone. (See raw video footage below.)

That in the end is what brought the sudden end to Bin Laden's life with a U.S. bullet into his head, among other places, after a circuitous 10-year hunt for the spiritual leader of the global Al Qaeda terrorist franchise and the master plotter of the 9/11 attacks, which killed nearly 3,000 people.

The hunt began to narrow several years ago when interrogations of Guantanamo Bay detainees produced the nicknames of a pair of highly trusted couriers, used by the captured 9/11 architect Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and Bin Laden, who had learned his electronic communications could be monitored by the U.S.

It took nearly two years of CIA analysis to determine the men's real names and to begin ...."
Allah akbar
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