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      I, and others, have noted a number of times that the only nation which handled the financial crisis correctly was Iceland: they bailed out ordinary people, let the banks go bankrupt, and jailed bankers who had broken the law. The only one. Iceland’s population is tiny, but it isn’t size, exactly, that matters, what matters [...]
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Thursday: Jim DeMint makes my ears bleed

Last night, Jon Stewart took apart Jim Demint’s worldview piece by piece.  It’s a thing of beauty.  Unfortunately, you have to listen to Jim Demint’s irritatingly folksy South Carolina drawl speaking nonsense right wing talking points during the segment.  By the way, why is it that Stephen Colbert, a South Carolina native, does not speak in the same drawl?  I lived in SC as a kid, in Charleston, and EVERYONE down there had a southern accent.  So, what gives, Stephen?  And is it possible that Fox type viewers respond to the drawl in a hypnotic sense? My natural speech pattern is more like Stewart’s.  It’s rapid, a bit throaty, punctuated.  Demint’s is slower, more musical, even a bit soothing and against it, Stewart sounds harsh, like a splash of uncomfortably cold water on the upper arms.  When you listen to these two go at it, you can’t help but pick a side.  I’m on Stewart’s side but I imagine that Demint’s southern siren call is hard to resist.

***********************************

I love Craig Crawford.  He’s one of the more honest pundits on TV (that I don’t watch anymore).  Check out his blog Craig Crawford’s Trail Mix for interesting observations on the campaign.

However, I did find his recent post on the effect Ron Paul will have on the Republican primary and nomination to be a little weird.  It’s a short post, here’s a lengthy excerpt:

GOP bosses talking about winnowing the field so that Mitt Romney doesn’t face a lengthy nomination battle against multiple foes ought to consider the alternative: Ron Paul goes to the convention with 40 percent of the delegates. That could happen if he’s the last rival standing sooner, rather than later.

With fewer winner-take-all primaries and caucuses, and Paul already proving an ability to garner up to 25 percent of the votes in a crowded field, it’s not a tough mathematical challenge to conclude that he would capture even more of the anti-Romney vote and roll into Tampa next summer as a trouble maker.

It’s not that Paul could threaten Romney’s nomination, but he could steal the coverage, much as Jesse Jackson did to Michael Dukakis, and Pat Buchanan to George H.W. Bush. (Reminder: Both nominees lost the election).

At the very least Paul would want a prime-time speech, and probably a whole lot more. Chairman of the Federal Reserve, perhaps? Just kidding, but …

Ok, here’s the weird part.  Obama and Hillary Clinton went to the convention in Denver in 2008 in a dead heat.  Actually, if the DNC hadn’t busted Florida and Michigan to half votes and reapportioned Michigan votes by giving 4 delegates from Hillary and all uncommitted delegates to Obama, Hillary would have been ahead.  According to Crawford, Ron Paul would deserve a lot more than a prime time speech if he only had 40% of the vote, not even a dead heat.  So, why is it that Hillary only got a prime time speech, no floor debate, and not even a legitimate roll call?  How come Jesse Jackson and every other candidate from the Democratic primary system prior to 2008 got treated as legitimate politicians and their delegates accorded a voice but not Hillary’s?  How do we explain a discrepancy like this?  We should all be asking ourselves this question until we get an answer that makes sense. Oh, sure, the superdelegates all moved like osmosis to Obama’s column, pulled no doubt by a hypertonic money solution.  But the elected delegates should have counted for something.  And they didn’t.

So, either the Republicans are going to be a lot more honest about their convention than the Democrats or they will adopt the Democrats’ model from 2008 and negate the primaries altogether so that they don’t have to accommodate Ron Paul’s constituency.  And if that’s the way the parties are going to go, why go through this expensive and painful process every 4 years?  If the money guys are going to pick the male party nominee anyway, why bother with the façade of electoral legitimacy?  We all know what our preisdential campaigns have boiled down to in the past 12 years.  The preferred candidates get the nod.  It will either be a money wing candidate with social conservative tendencies or a money wing candidate with socially moderate tendencies.  Them’s the choices.  Pick one.

If you don’t like your choices, and that’s all you’re going to get, you HAVE to go outside the parties and pick a different flavor of politician.  Yes, it takes effort to find them on a ballot.  No, there’s no guarantee your candidate is going to win, although it will be easier if as many people as possible show up to vote for the same person.  That’s usually how it’s done.  But at some point in time, enough of us have to decide that we have no other alternative and decide to pick someone else.  It can be done.  Just say no to both parties this year unless they give you a choice you can live with.

******************

For a different take on the 2-party system, check out Virtually Speaking Susie’s interview with Mike Patterson from Occupy DC.  Mike spells it out for the occupy doubters: the Occupy movement is not interested in becoming an arm of the Obama campaign.  It doesn’t like Democrats any more than it likes Republicans right now.  Both parties have let the American people down.  What Occupy will turn into is a different question but it’s not there to support Obama, that’s for damn sure.

By the way, tune your bat channels for Virtually Speaking tonight when one of my favorite bloggers, Lenore Skenazy of FreeRangeKids is on to talk about what happened to American childhood.  I’m convinced that there is a connection between fearmongering and strict behavioral controls of both parents and children and the goals of the right wing.  I hope Jay Ackroyd and Lenore explore this connection.  The one thing you can count on is that Lenore will bring her horror stories from modern day parenting.  The fact that she is not exaggerating makes it all the more frightening.  That’s tonight at 8:00pm EST.  Virtually Speaking A-Z with Stuart Zechman and Virtually Speaking with Lenore Skenazy.

Here’s a little taste of Lenore:

**************************************

This headline says it all: “SOPA Sponsor Rep. Lamar Smith to SOPA opponents: You don’t matter.

Ok, good to know.  I hope he’s not doing anything important when the internet giants decide to pull the plug temporarily for system maintenance.

*************************************

For those of you who have made a resolution to be less of a slob this year (moi!), check out ApartmentTherapy’s homekeeping tips.  Think of it as housecleaning for people who have better things to do with their time and less “impeccably fresh” Martha Stewart-esque attention to obsessive detail.  Like, is it ok to clean your jeans in the freezer.  Or, if your house is really messy, where do you start?  It’s so overwhelming.  Start with the bedroom.  Here’s the list for deep cleaning your bedroom, step-by-step.  You can do this.  Er, *I* can do this.

Just do it.

*************************************

Another one bites the dust: Sanofi closes its Bridgewater, NJ site.  This happened faster than my former colleagues anticipated.  I’m very sorry to hear this and hope that they’ve all been preparing for their Plan B’s.  I’ve been getting a recent flood of LinkedIn invitations in the last week.  It’s nervewracking, guys.  All I can say is get out of NJ if you can.  The money has dried up.  You need to decide to not to live a precarious existence.  Pack up the family and head west or at least mid-west.  Scale down, regroup, renew and reclaim your dignity.  To those of you who didn’t get an invitation to Cambridge, don’t beat yourselves up.  I know how good you are.  It’s nothing personal.  It’s mostly politics and, unfortunately for Cambridge, it will *not* be getting all of the “best of the best”.  One final thing, you will feel so much better once the shoe drops.  I sleep a lot better these days.  Good luck to all.

***********************************

And now, a thing of beauty to relieve you of combat fatigue.  This is a ballet of the seasons from a new version of Cinderella.  The company is Belle Etudes in Arizona and the dancers are pretty young.  The choreography is exquisite:

Wednesday: Two things

A bit busy today.  Have to bop over to the library and look up some new papers.  So this will be brief.  (Ha-ha, it never is, right?)

Thing One: It looks like Mitt Romney is the Republican nominee.  How can we tell so early in the primaries, you ask?  Well, unlike the byzantine and UN-democratic Democratic primary system, which can be reconfigured on the spur of the moment to suit the intended outcome of the party uberclass (and its Wall Street backers), the Republican primaries are winner take all.  So, in just a few states, the frontrunner can put a sizeable distance between himself and the next tier.

What is interesting to me is the positioning of Jon Huntsman and Rick Santorum.  It signals to me that the people of New Hampshire want more of a “moderate” Republican and cooled to the religious nutcases.  In fact, knowing my own religious nutcases, they might have thought Santorum’s thoughts on birth control extreme.  For one thing, they’re not against birth control, as long as it’s only for married couples.  But Santorum didn’t sound like he was discriminating between FORNICATORS and married men and women doing whatever unspeakable things they want to do in the dark.  And THAT probably made them focus on another aspect of Santorum’s person- he’s a papist.  Yup, and he’s not the John Kennedy “this is the 60′s, we’re enlightened Catholics and don’t take orders from the pope” kind of papist.  Santorum is the Torquemada kind or the kind that would have made Galileo renounce the heliocentric theory.  He’s the baaaaaad kind of papist who probably gets email messages with orders straight from the Vatican itself every morning.  He’s the kind who we suspect scourges himself right after he has sex with his wife.  The one thing the evangelical fundy distrusts slightly less than an atheist and a muslim is a papist.

Santorum got all giddy and is now going to suffer from the “Oh, shit, did I say that out loud?” gaffe.  The evangelical fundy crowd is still going to need a religious type to balance out Romney the Mormon.  Maybe Santorum will get VP.  Who knows.  But Romney is going to bring the nomination in for a landing.  And if it’s Romney, Obama is going to have some problems because to the rest of us, the only difference between the two of them is that Obama didn’t run a private equity firm first.

Thing Two: Does anyone remember when Michelle Obama in 2008 made that crack on an ABCNews interview about how she was going to be paying close attention to Hillary’s tone?  Ahhh, here it is.  (H/T Delphyne):

I don’t know about taking the country in a new direction but he most certainly did take the Democratic party in one, specifically wayyyyy to the right.  But I digress.

I remember thinking that Hillary wasn’t running against Michelle but this was a diabolical move by Obama’s campaign staff to set up a Crystal Carrington- Alexis Carrington “cat fight in the pool” scene.  I appreciated how Hillary refused to take the bait.

Then Michelle moved into the White House and played the role of suburban stay-at-home  wife that is all too common around here in central NJ when hubby’s income reaches the level to which they intend to become accustomed.  It doesn’t matter how long she took to get her law degree or masters in public administration or MBA, she quits and stays home to tend the garden.  You won’t hear another controversial or opinionated statement out of her mouth ever again.  She will become as boring as lemon jello.  Having a life outside the home is no longer her role.  Her role is to maintain relationships with the other couples in the neighborhood.  It’s strictly social.  Work?  That’s for women who are married to losers or who aren’t married at all.  Ladies do not work.

Then Michelle docilely travelled the world in her awkwardly tailored, but modest and boring A-line skirts and twin sets, assuming the role of the tall but silent second class sidekick.  Well, of course, it was all perfectly arranged by his advisors so as to look like she wasn’t interfering in his work, that she knew her place and that was to be invisible, or as invisible as a beautiful, statuesque amazon was supposed to be.  Her brains were of no interest to them.  The less known about the internal workings of Michelle’s brain, the better.   The Washington press corps and their little Village does not understand women who think for themselves and it was much better for Michelle to know her place than push the envelope and stir Sally Quinn and her hive into a frenzied, relentless pursuit of trivialities and rumormongering.  And besides, the first lady doesn’t really have any official capacity, and lord help us, we don’t want her to develop any policies that might prove to be crucial 15 years later, unless she’s secretly lobbying for some hospital association but strictly on the QT.

Michelle bought into this.  In fact, she bought into it so thoroughly that she had to have her mother move in and take over some of her duties so that any perceived power was even further diluted.  And what the heck was going on with Desiree Rogers who got her ass canned for dressing too nicely and unintentionally letting the riff raff in to a “members only” soiree at the White House?  Well, anyway, the role of woman in the White House is to 1.) look ornamental 2.) keep her mouth shut  3.) keep The Village quiet and 4.) not make policy.  This applies not only to the first lady but also to the women who had to work for her husband, like Christine Romer, Sheila Bair, Elizabeth Warren, people like that.  One might have thought that Michelle would have spoken up for them but she did not.

She *could* have taken a different route.  She could have been more of a Rosalyn Carter or a Hillary Clinton.  But then, we would have been complaining about her “tone” and Michelle has shown by her own example, that she would prefer to take a backseat and be a model of the flavorless surburban privileged woman and not a courageous leader who bucks the trend and tries to break new boundaries for American women.

I don’t mind that she wanted a nice family life.  I don’t begrudge that of anyone who lives in the White House, including Anne Romney who is living with MS.  If she thinks that being a good mother means staying at home to tend to two tweens who are at school for most of the day, who am I to judge?  And if she wants her husband to take her to a night out to NYC for a play, I’m all for it.  No, seriously.  Life in the White House is grueling no matter how cul-de-sac you arrange your life to be.  Anyone who lives in that environment needs a little privacy and normalcy.

But if  you signed up for Betty Crocker and the long suffering Griselda, if you turned your back on millions of working women with brains, both in the White House conference rooms and out in the civilian working world, don’t start looking for sympathy later.  Don’t complain about your husband’s advisors who strapped you into this role and from whom you accepted the harness voluntarily.  We don’t care, Michelle.  By your example, you set the rest of us back by four decades.  You abandoned us and let us fend for ourselves in the west wing and the laboratories and factories and the conference rooms and the universities and the sports fields and the abortion clinics.  You’ve spent three years in absence after your husband cheated a more worthy person out of a nomination.  You did not pick up the standard that she had to leave behind.  Challenging the status quo wouldn’t have made you an “Angry black woman”.  It would have made you a person in your own right.   The fact that you have to defend yourself to say that you played no role in your husband’s administration is not a good thing, Michelle.   If you’re not going to assert yourself, it would be better for you to now remain silent.

Don’t make it worse for us.

What we’re up against

Chosen for you

I had lunch with some former colleagues last week and told them I was going to Occupy Congress next week.  Some of them looked like I had lost my mind while others were curious.  One of them grew up in the former Soviet Union.  Once I assured him that I wasn’t marching for a grand socialist solution, we had an interesting conversation. He told me that in his country, the KGB put a label on you, he gestured to his forehead, and never let you alone.  He said, “Don’t misunderstand me, I am on your side, but what you are dealing with is not just in this country.  It’s global.”  And then he gave me a knowing look and, ya’ know, I think I got it.  That was a weird feeling and not necessarily in a good way.

I’ve mentioned this before but it bears repeating, we are now engaged in a struggle between global authoritarianism and small “l” liberalism.  This is a global event.  It’s the shock doctrine on a universal scale.  It’s why there’s a push for austerity everywhere.  Too often, Americans see their politics on a small scale, as if what happens here is just like the political superbowl between two teams that meet every four years.  The media covers the players in the same way with statistics and color commentary.  The primaries are like the playoffs leading to the big one in November complete with nachos and guacamole and a lot of beer.  It’s a process unique to Americans, just another Detroit vs Green Bay.

But that’s not what’s happening anymore.  Our electoral process seems local but it’s part of a global pattern where the players are picked by a small evil group to which no one we know belongs.  And they are presented to us in a process where the outcome is pre-ordained.  In fact, I don’t think we Americans have actually picked our president since 1996.  In every electoral contest since then, the good guys have lost.  I am not referring to McCain.

You THINK you have a choice but you don’t.  It’s time to face up to that fact.  If progressives were smart, they would stop playing this game and at least expose it, even if they feel (incorrectly, IMHO) they can’t do anything about it this go around.  As long as they still think that this is a contest between Barack Obama and whoever the Republicans pick, progressives are dooming us whatever the authoritarians want.  The answer is not to try to influence the Republicans.  You are wasting your time and playing their game.  The answer is to try to put the screws to the Democrats.   And it is a very good idea to find out who the authoritarians most fear.

Otherwise, we may wake up in mid-November to the same situation they have in Hungary right now where the ruling party has rewritten the constitution and has cemented its future electoral victories in place for a couple generations.

Have courage, friends.  The days of comfort for the soft American are over.

I’m off to Philly today to do some work type things.  Later Taters.

The Confluence is not nor ever has been birther territory

It’s strange that we even have to reiterate this fact but I was going through some Twitter references and found that someone proclaimed that we were birthers.  Not only am I a birther but according to this smear artist, I am “one of the worst”.  Whoever this person is wants to associate this site with the stupidist waste of time since the end of the 2008 election and seeks to embarrass us and tag anyone who references us guilty by association.  I guess we must still be making an impact if they’re willing to go this far.

Anyone who has been following this blog knows we have never been birthers.  In fact, we wrote several posts encouraging the birthers to give it up and stop looking stupid.  They didn’t, but some of them were so offended by our unwelcoming attitude towards anything birther that they went away. And that’s fine with me.  If you’re anger and frustration leads you to believe something that is unreal, then please don’t hang around here.

But what does this smear say about the smearer?  I don’t know but it does come on the heels of the posts I made about thought reform techniques and since there are people at DailyKos (geekesque comes to mind) who still can’t resist an opportunity to make shit up about me and this site, I’m inclined to believe it was someone like that who didn’t like what I wrote about DailyKos and decided to drop that crazy bit of misinformation into the twittersphere.

Normally, I don’t respond to our critics.  In fact, I don’t even read them.  But people believe stuff that isn’t true, which is why I wrote those posts on thought reform and high control group recruitment techniques.  This much is true: you will never find a post or comment from me in favor of birtherism.  Quite the opposite.  On the other hand, you most certainly will find love bombing, phobia induction, categorization, shunning, behavioral controls and conversion testimonials at DailyKos and these tend to get more pronounced during election years.  That doesn’t mean that DailyKos is a cult but the site is vulnerable, whether intentionally or not, to high control group tactics.

Readers are advised to consider what is more dangerous to their political mental health: a site that encourages decision making based on independent thinking and principles or one based on using well known compliance techniques in order to persuade the individual to conform to the herd.

A little night dancing

Here’s another contemporary ballet I happened upon.  This one features Aurelie Dupont and Manuel Legris of the Paris Opera Ballet.  This pas de deux is from a longer work called Le Parc. It starts off a little kinky but starts to grow on the viewer about half way through.  The feeling is intimate and familiar.

Scientific Journals and SOPA

There is some good news and not so good news on the scientific journals front.

First, the good news.  For those of us in STEM jobs who are laid off, we face a double whammy.  In order for us to stay current in our fields we *must* keep up with new literature.  Future employers won’t want to hire someone who doesn’t know what’s been going on in this rapidly changing research environment.  Watching NOVA is no substitute. The problem is that when you get laid off, you lose access to the licenses you need to search and retrieve literature, patents, methods, etc.  You can still get papers but you either need to subscribe to the journals, which could cost hundreds of dollars a year, or you need to buy the paper outright.  Prices for a *single* paper from journals like Journal of Medicinal Chemistry or Science cost $30.00.  On new projects, it is not uncommon to read a dozen papers to start.

There are some other subscription services like Deep Dyve that offer packages of a certain number of papers per month.   The problem with this is that you may need to go back to that paper sometime in the future and with Deep Dyve, that’s impossible.  You are only renting that copy and within days, it disappears, never to be accessed again without forking over the cash.  The best option is to go to a library where you can read as many papers as you like for free but then you have to go to the library.  You can’t just do it from home.  And that becomes a problem when you’re in the middle of reading a paper at home and you see a citation for a paper you need for background.  Then you have to haul your sorry ass down to the library.   I’m close enough to Princeton’s scientific library so access is not a problem but it’s not exactly convenient.

Let’s just say that it adds insult to injury for the journal aggregators to charge an unemployed person so bloody much for a digital copy of a paper, especially when those papers are important to our future employment.  I brought this up to a representative of the American Chemical Society (ACS) last May and got the impression that the old dude was really living in a different century.  The ACS had no intention of lowering the cost or allowing us to buy papers ala an iTunes model.  So, I was surprised to see that the ACS is relenting somewhat and is making their SciFinder application available to unemployed chemists who previously had an account at their former workplace.  They must have gotten a lot of desperate and angry pleas for access.  SciFinder licenses are difficult enough to get when you are employed.  In fact, I finally got one about two weeks before I was laid off so I don’t think I ever had an opportunity to use it.  But if you’re looking for a way to search the literature/patents through SciFinder, and you previously had access, you might want to check it out.

The bad news is that SOPA might make all that access impossible.  That’s because when scientists write papers, they liberally filch methods, pictures and other details from previously published papers from other authors.  That’s just the nature of science.  Everyone is standing on the shoulders of someone else and the reason authors publish is so they can share that information and to keep their jobs.  Publish or perish.  SOPA will interfere with that process for scientific literature in digital form, which is everything these days.  From the TechDirt article on the issue:

These kinds of “violations” are inevitable, because science is about sharing – it’s what you are supposed to do in order to spread knowledge. And thus drawing on standard materials in this way is a habit that pervades all of academic publishing to such a degree that few scientists are even aware they are doing it – or that there might be legal issues. That will make policing this kind of “accepted” infringement extremely difficult, if not impossible.

If SOPA is passed, Neylon points out an interesting consequence:

“So if someone, purely as a thought experiment you understand, crowd-sourced the identification of copyright violations in papers published by supporters of SOPA, then they could legitimately take down journal websites, like Science Direct and Nature.com. That’s right, just find the plagiarised papers, raise them as a copyright violation, and you can have the journal website shut down.”Scientific publishers that are represented by the Association of American Publishers, which appears in the “List of Supporters” (pdf) for SOPA, could therefore find their own Web sites shut down repeatedly thanks to this law they are currently backing by default, since none has yet come out against SOPA. Looks like US politicans aren’t the only ones who haven’t really thought this through.

I’m not surprised that publishers like the ACS haven’t thought this through carefully.  They are just trying to cash in by soaking companies, academic institutions and the unemployed for as much as they possibly can.  That’s why they charge $30.00/copy.  Of course they want SOPA so they can make sure that no one gives out copies of papers that they didn’t authorize.  But they’re really not thinking about the copyright violations in each paper.

I don’t know how they’re proposing to get around this.  There could be a lot of pharmaceutical company tit for tat.  Maybe Glaxo doesn’t want Merck scientists lifting their methods and throws a flag, while some little company wants to publish based on multiple companies published citations and gets flagged multiple times.  The end result is that nothing would get published and we’d all be cut off from one another, scared silly that our internet access could be terminated over some unintentional violation.  Not that you’d use the internet much because everything would be off limits.  It could open up a whole new field of employment in companies.  You could have copyright MBAs sitting in their cubes, heartlessly penalizing everyone they are competing with, damaging the spirit of sharing among the science community.  It wouldn’t be the first time they’ve thoughtlessly ruined research.

So, those of you out there who care about keeping science literature sharable, contact your congressman and senators.  SOPA is going to make an already bad situation so much worse.

#opBlackout January 23, 2012

Most of you have probably seen this by now.  Internet giants Wikipedia, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, AOL, PayPal and others are contemplating an internet blackout of their services for January 23 to protest proposed SOPA legislation to be voted on January 24.

Companies including Google, Facebook, Twitter, PayPal, Yahoo! and Wikipedia are said to be discussing a coordinated blackout of services to demonstrate the potential effect SOPA would have on the Internet, something already being called a “nuclear option” of protesting. The rumors surrounding the potential blackout were only strengthened by Markham Erickson, executive director of trade association NetCoalition, who told FoxNews that “a number of companies have had discussions about [blacking out services]” last week.

According to Erickson, the companies are well aware of how serious an act such a blackout would be:

“This type of thing doesn’t happen because companies typically don’t want to put their users in that position. The difference is that these bills so fundamentally change the way the Internet works. People need to understand the effect this special-interest legislation will have on those who use the Internet.”

The idea of an Internet blackout should seem familiar to anyone who’s been paying attention to the debate so far. In addition to a blackout already carried out by Mozilla, hacking group Anonymous proposed the same thing a couple of weeks ago, suggesting that sites replace their front pages with a statement protesting SOPA. That suggestion itself came a week after Jimmy Wales had asked Wikipedia users about the possibility of blacking out that site in protest of the bill.

I think they’re serious.  Holy hemiola, we’d have to look stuff up and talk on the phone.  I know it sounds trivial but I think about how I use each one of these services each day and how without them, I would feel disabled.  We would have to relearn how to do things all over again.

Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google said:

The bills “give the U.S. government and copyright holders extraordinary powers including the ability to hijack DNS (the Internet’s naming system) and censor search results (and this is even without so much as a proper court trial),” Brin wrote last month on his Google+ page as Congress was considering the measures. “While I support their goal of reducing copyright infringement (which I don’t believe these acts would accomplish), I am shocked that our lawmakers would contemplate such measures that would put us on a par with the most oppressive nations in the world.”

That CNN article also writes that:

When contacted by CNN, none of those companies would confirm that such a drastic move had ever been considered. By Friday, the advocate whose comments had fueled the speculation appeared to back away from claims that a Web blackout was still likely to occur.

“Internet and technology companies will continue to educate policymakers and other stakeholders on the problems with the (legislation),” Markham Erickson, director of Web trade associationNetCoalition, said in a statement. “An ‘Internet blackout’ would obviously be both drastic and unprecedented.”

Or maybe they’re just not going to tell us what day or hour.  Sort of like Armageddon.

Al Gore appears to oppose SOPA as well.  In a recent speech, “the ex-veep warned that proposals to levy an Internet death penalty against allegedly piratical Web sites “would very probably have the effect of really shutting down the vibrancy of the Internet.”” and  “anything that would serve to threaten the vibrancy and freedom of the Internet in the future, I’m against.”  There was a youtube video of Gore’s remarks on the subject but somewhat ironically, it was deleted from the internet.

I hope they go through with it.  Enough with the copyright smokescreen.  This is a great way for media giants to shut down, well, whatever they want to shut down.  It’s not in their best interests to have people making snide and unpleasant remarks about them.  They’ll be like the whiny billionaires and make our stuff disappear. Oh, they won’t mean to delete your occupy videos and tweets because of alleged copyright violations.  But if you can’t use the internet to file a complaint, you’re kinda stuck, right?

So, black them out for a day and plunge us back to 1992 when no one had ever heard of a browser and we were all just thrilled to death that we could ftp the soda machine in the Computer Science building at CMU to see if the cokes were cold yet.  I hope WordPress, Typepad and other hosting sites follow suit.  But google is going to be a real problem because it affects so many businesses and industries.  I use google to find free scientific software, look up papers and unknown terms, as well as for mail, addresses and phone numbers.  I don’t even know where my phone books are.

This should be good.

And here’s a video from Anonymous on #opBlackout.  It’s pretty heavy on the ominous.

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In other news: Ron Paul gave a speech in NH.  His buzzword appears to be “liberty”.  Has anyone ever sat down with Paul and asked him to explain just what liberty means to him and whether it applies to all American Citizens equally or just 49% of them?  You can hear a lot of cheering in the background.  It sounds like a bunch of guys.  It has to be guys.  I’d just like to point out that, once again, the so-called liberals are willing to sell out their sisters just so they can say they stopped a war.  And let me add the disclaimer that I opposed these stupid wars from the very beginning when many on the left were supporting them.  I have a brother over there, a brother who was stupid enough to be all enthusiastic about us kicking ass in Iraq 8 years ago and over which we had the kind of argument over dinner that leads to siblings referring to their relationsip as “estranged”.  (Betcha he wishes he’d listented to me now) I want the wars to stop sucking blood and money from us as much as Noam Chomsky.  But getting us out of a mess that Bush deliberately chained us to is not going to be easy and I don’t want to get saddled with Ron Paul for four years.  I want an FDR style Democrat in the White House who will not sacrifice women to score political points with the religious and who has enough foreign policy experience to not trigger Pakistan to go off on a hissy fit.  Enough of the female sacrifices and the economic inertia.  Get Obama out of the White House and replace him with someone who will act like they give a f^*&.  And if you can’t think through this problem long enough to abandon Paul and his Dickensian worldview, you’re no progressive.

BTW, I’d just like to note that if this is some kind of reverse psychology strategy to get us to vote for Obama as the lesser evil, it won’t work for me.  I will never vote for Obama because 1.) he’s been a lousy president and responsible for the livelihoods ruined and families made homeless by his finance industry backed policies, 2.) if he did a lousy job for the first four years, he sure as hell won’t stand up to congressional Republicans in the second four and 3.) our right to vote is our one sacrament and he and the DNC violated that right for 18,000,000 of us in 2008.  That is unforgivable for a politician.  So, if you’re a progressive male, and they’re almost always men, and you are playing some political game of chicken with us, be careful because you might just get stuck with a hardass Republican.  This is not the way to win friends and influence people.

Anyway, here’s the speech.  You be the judge.

Land’s Sakes, What’s a body to do?

Why are all those busy body adbusters people riling up plain folks?

Educate yourself.

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I don’t know what to make of the liberals for Ron Paul phenomenon except that they seem to edge towards the “Single Issue voter” side of the spectrum.  Civil liberties and war are the primary problems for them.  If I recall correctly, Matt Stoller voted for Obama in the primary because of his reputed anti-war position.  I can remember the day that Stoller announced his decision on Open Left even though up to that point he was at least pretending to be objective.

But I would like to suggest that the best way to end the wars and take on the military industrial complex once and for all is to fix the economy.  Because the vast majority of Americans are stressed out, trying to make ends meet.  It was already stressful enough before the crash of 2008 to keep a job and everything that goes with it, like money for housing, food, healthcare and retirement.  Now, it’s almost impossible.  And when people are that stressed out, trying to keep track of dozens of tasks and walking on eggshells to make sure they’re not on the list for the next layoff, they don’t have time to get all up the grill of the US government about wars.  Did you notice what happened to the anti-war movement since 2008?  From what I can tell, it’s been replaced in the news with endless bad economic news.

So, to those single issue voters who have the luxury to pick lint out of your belly buttons and get all breathlessly righteous about the war, turn your attention to fixing the economy.  It shouldn’t have to be said again, but the economy was THE most important issue in the 2008 election.  Because if you want to keep the anti-war pressure up, you need to get people to care about it.  And right now, they’ve got more important things on their minds.  I know this is a foreign concept to young men who have no families to worry about but, frankly, your single issue?  Not even on our radar right now. That’s alarming, I know. That doesn’t mean we aren’t just as anti-war as you are, especially those of us who have brothers over there (I do, do you?).  It’s just that we are fighting our own wars right now and feeding our kids is more important.  That’s how the bad guys get their way and their wars.  They distract the very people who care.

People who are overwhelmed with fighting for their own economic survival are less interested in their civil liberties and war.  It is, and always has been, the economy, stupid. Fix that first and the rest will follow.  And if you are following that much of my logic, then you will stop toying with the Ron Paul option.

*********************************

As long as we’re speculating on whether it is acceptable to vote for the lesser evil, why don’t we take a poll?

Of course I can throw Hillary on that list.  Whether the Matt Stollers and Chris Hedges types like her or not, the Stollers and Hedges types are a tiny fraction of the American electorate and they may find out just how tiny a fraction they are come election day.  There are much bigger fractions out there that the Democrats are in danger of losing right now, like women and people with families and the unemployed. Remember, it’s the economy stupid.  So, if you had to pick a lesser evil, why not Hillary?  How much more eeeeeevil than Barack Obama is she?  The party changes its rules when it wants to.  Right now, it *thinks* it can shove Obama down our throats again but there are plenty of us who are not interested in what either party is selling.  Give us a different option, someone we see as less evil, and we might come back.

Think about that.  Do you want a Democrat in the White House or Barack Obama?

Richard Cordray is not Elizabeth Warren

Oh, so *now* Obama has the balls to make a recess appointment to the Consumer Financial Products Buereau. He’s going to catch hell for it from Republicans. He should have appointed Elizabeth Warren, but the boys club at Treasury is not going to let some broad give orders to them or anyone. They don’t even want to work with her. (Tim Geithner didn’t like Christine Romer, Sheila Bair either.  Huh!  Maybe the problem is Tim Geithner, eh?)  So, Obama did nothing.  The outrage from Republicans will be the same this year but the optics will look different, right Mr. President?  This is an election year.  All the human sacrifices of the past three years were painful but necessary so that you could get to January 2012 and announce that you are finally going to appoint someone.  And like the Lily Ledbetter Act, you will boast and strut like the cock on the walk as if you have really accomplished something that will make a difference to millions of people.

But Richard Cordray is no Elizabeth Warren.  She had conviction.  She knew what she was doing.  She made the financial services industry very nervous.  So, she had to go.  Cordray might be a nice guy but the emphasis is on “guy”.  Once again, we have an example of an old boys’ network where the alpha males are seeing who can piss higher on the wall and the beta males are kissing asses to get a plum appointment.  With a wink and a nod, Cordray will take his place and like so many Obama “accomplishments”, it will all be a bunch of sound an fury signifying nothing.  He’s not going to rock the boat if he knows what’s good for him.  He’ll be a team player.

The Republicans may try to block Cordray, but it was the Obama Administration that blocked Elizabeth Warren.

I saw a Hillary bumpersticker today.  It looked new.

Just sayin’.

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In other news:  Some over the counter medications are dangerous.  In 2010, a 2 year old boy died from liver failure that was attributable to a children’s Tylenol (acetaminophen) product.  The parents are suing but to be honest, the trouble with Tylenol has been known for years.  Acetaminophen has unpredictable activity and serious liver damage is a well known side effect.  A few Tylenols might cure your headache, one extra might kill you.    It’s probably one of the more dangerous products on the market and you can get it over the counter, along with bubblegum and batteries.

Gayatri Mantra

Ballerina Diana Vishneva performs FLOW III by Pilobolus choreographer Moses Pendleton.

Om bhur bhuvah suvah

tat savitur vareṇyaṃ

bhargo devasya dhīmahi

dhiyo yó naḥ pracodayāt

Translation:

“May we attain that excellent glory of Savitar the god:
So may he stimulate our prayers.”

The Hymns of the Rigveda (1896), Ralph T. H. Griffith[
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