Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Andrew Young's Book Confirms Much of What We Already Knew About John Edwards -- Daily Intel

Andrew Young's Book Confirms Much of What We Already Knew About John Edwards -- Daily Intel: "Made in USA: Young says Edwards is an Atkins-dieter who hated making appearances at state fairs where “fat rednecks try to shove food down my face. I know I’m the people’s senator, but do I have to hang out with them?” Before a SEIU candidate forum in Las Vegas, Young says Edwards made him cut out a “made in the USA” label from Young’s own suit to sew in place of Edwards’s “made in Italy” label."

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

book notes

From colony to superpower: U.S. foreign relations since 1776 By George C. Herring

Foreign relations was a huge part of the U.S. from the very beginning, as colonists wanted to trade with England's enemies, including the colonies of its enemies, like French Canada.

Fredrick the great said that war is not a success if most people know that it is going on.

The French and Indian War or Seven Years War -- the "war that made America"

Even during the Articles of Confederation there was the jockeying between Northern commerce and Southern preservation of slavery and power -- debate on treaty with Spain that would cede access to the Mississippi for trade concessions.

Munich -- Hitler actually wanted war in '38 and was maneuvered into Munich, giving the weak allies a year to prepare for war.

"I mean who gives a shit if the minimum wage is $1.15 or $1.25?" -- JFK on why he found foreign policy more exciting than domestic policy.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Hoist Your Pitchforks! | The New Republic

Hoist Your Pitchforks! | The New Republic: "Their bill is still being written, but the ideas they're considering include prohibiting political spending by corporations that receive government money, hire lobbyists, or make most of their income abroad.

And shouldn't shareholders have the right to vote before a corporation spends money on politics? Do we want foreign-owned corporations, especially those owned by foreign governments, to exercise an undue influence in our politics? Imagine what an enterprise owned or influenced by the Chinese or Russian governments might try to do to a politician who campaigns too ardently for human rights?

My favorite idea: Requiring CEOs to appear in ads their corporations sponsor, exactly as politicians have to do. ('I'm Joe Smith, the CEO of Acme Consolidated Megacorporation, and I approve this message.')"

Clinton racism

Game Change provides more evidence of the Clintons' shocking behavior during the 2008 campaign. - By Christopher Hitchens - Slate Magazine: "After his wife's third-place showing in the Iowa caucuses, Bill Clinton telephoned Sen. Edward Kennedy in pursuit of an endorsement and, according to Kennedy's own account as given to a friend, said of then-Sen. Barack Obama: A few years ago, this guy would have been getting us coffee."

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Lexington: The fat plateau | The Economist

Lexington: The fat plateau | The Economist: "each obese American racks up medical bills 42% higher than an American of normal weight, according to Eric Finkelstein and Justin Trogdon, writing in Health Affairs. Add to that the indirect costs of obesity, such as lost productivity due to sickness or premature death."

book notes

Dancing in the Dark by Morris Dickstein

The beat writers harken back to the 30's -- ginsberg to micheal gold, kerouac to hobo literature.

Americans, unlike Europeans, didn't resort to militarism or totalitarianism in the 30's because they blamed personal failure on themselves -- the result of individualism and 50 years of Success evangelism.

Part of popularity of 30's gangster films is that gangsters were the only plausibly success entrepreneurs in the 30's. And the 30's monsters were sympathetic characters, whereas to 50's monsters were invaders.

Fitzgerald's talent was self-knowledge, which allowed him to write great fiction about himself at an early age. Fitzgerald's coining of The Jazz Age for the 1920's referred not to music but to anti-bourgeois culture.

The Day of the Locusts -- "Once there they disover that sunshine isn't enough. . .they haven't the mental equipment for leisure, the money nor the physical equipment for pleasure. . .the sun is a joke"

Thursday, January 14, 2010

TSA plays solitaire

book notes

The Faith Instinct: How Religion Evolved and Why It Endures By Nicholas Wade

Evolutionary importance of religion in warfare. Humanoids who would not risk lives for the group would be eliminated by groups that included members who would.

As humans evolved larger brains, they also increased their ability to calculate individual interests over group interests. Religion was required as a countervailing force to avoid social disintegration.

Selfishness beats altruism within groups, atruistic groups beat selfish groups

The main enemy of ants are other ants -- they have chemical signals and strong generic bonds to organize. Humans have religion (although this doesn't address why chimps don't have religion -- lack of cognitive ability and strict social hierarchy?)

Ancient and modern religion both have focus on survival -- this world in ancient, afterlife in modern

Pews were introduced to prevent ecstatic dancing, Islam uses military-like rhythmic movement in unison.

Of the 40 cities that Jushua is said to have conquered, only 3 have possible evidence of pillage at the right dates. "So if the Israelites never invaded Canaan, how did they come to occupy it? Because they were Canaanites and always had been" The Bible was a political strategy to regain Isreal after Assyria withdrew 640-630 BC. Around 722 BC Assyria had resettled 27,000 Israelites in Assyria and moved people from other parts of the empire to Samaria.

Mohammed appears to have legalized polygamy in xxxx because he had lost many men in war and wanted to maintain a high birth rate. Polygamy can make sense if a society wants many unmarried young men available for war.

The first crusade was created primarily because there were too many young male religious zealots in Europe, creating instability and a threat to religious order.

Muslim violence with serbs in balkans, jews in israel, hindus in india, buddists in burma, catholics in the phillipines

Natural selection in warfare has created a human character that is capable of extreme cruelty (to enemies) and extreme loyalty, love and trust (to comrades)

Protestantism emerged in part because German states had foreign policy interests different than the Latin states, just as Islam emerged because Arab states had interests different than Constantinople as it withdrew from the Middle East.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

life expectancy vs. per capita spending on health care

Saturday, January 02, 2010

The catchphrase of the decade. - By Ron Rosenbaum - Slate Magazine

The catchphrase of the decade. - By Ron Rosenbaum - Slate Magazine: "Fifteen minutes of fame has had its 15 minutes of fame. Way more than 15 years of fame, actually. And its original meaning has been subtly but ineradicably distorted. When Andy Warhol uttered it in his faux-naive way (or real-naive—I could never really tell; I'm not sure even he could), he meant it, at least in part, as a celebratory observation, not an anti-celebrity thing. When he said 'in the future everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes,' he was pointing out how much fun that would be. Fame, in other words, would be as widely accessible a popular commodity as Campbell's soup. And, he implied, that's a good thing.
OK, maybe that didn't turn out to be true in all respects. Still, the phrase is inevitably used now with a disdainful sneer. A self-satisfied tone of elitist condescension. I mean, didn't you feel there was some of that in the sneering at the White House party crashers? How dare those little people, those nobodies, seeking their '15 minutes of fame,' aspire to be seated next to the truly important people in Washington who have done so much good for the nation? Who had to put in years of sucking up to get invited to a White House dinner, while these climbers waltzed right in?"

Andy Worthington: A Truly Shocking Guantanamo Story: Judge Confirms That an Innocent Man Was Tortured to Make False Confessions

Andy Worthington: A Truly Shocking Guantanamo Story: Judge Confirms That an Innocent Man Was Tortured to Make False Confessions: "She then moved on to al-Rabiah's own explanations of how he came to make false confessions, noting that he had stated that, shortly after his arrival at Guant�namo, 'a senior [redacted] interrogator came to me and said, 'There is nothing against you. But there is no innocent person here. So, you should confess to something so you can be charged and sentenced and serve your sentence and then go back to your family and country, because you will not leave this place innocent.'

This is deeply disturbing, of course, as it indicates that at least one senior interrogator recognized that the Bush administration's refusal to recognize that there were innocent men at Guant�namo -- and it has been clear for many years that hundreds of innocent men were held, who had no connection whatsoever to any form of militancy, let alone terrorism -- had set in motion a system in which, whether voluntarily or not, all the innocent men at Guant�namo were expected to make false confessions, either so that they could continue to be labeled as 'enemy combatants' on release, to maintain the illusion that Guant�namo was full of 'the worst of the worst,' or, as in al-Rabiah's case, so that they could be tricked and transformed into terrorist sympathizers and facilitators."