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    • Inequality is Unnatural
      I’ve been reading UltraSociety, by Peter Turchin. Turchin’s a biologist turned to mathematical models of human society, and he’s done interesting work, not all of which I agree with (or agree is quite as radical as he claims.) But one of the points he makes in UltraSociety, which has been made by many archeologists and […]
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This explains the “Obama Youth”


Remember long ago in 2007 when a rookie senator from Illinois used a paltry hundred million dollars in seed money he got from Wall Street and other Joe Moneybags special interests to build his own cult of personality? Remember how the media gushed about his ability to recruit young people from college campuses and enlist them into a virtual army to win the caucus states?

Ever wonder how so many smart kids could be so fucking stupid?

Study: Many college students not learning to think critically

An unprecedented study that followed several thousand undergraduates through four years of college found that large numbers didn’t learn the critical thinking, complex reasoning and written communication skills that are widely assumed to be at the core of a college education.

Many of the students graduated without knowing how to sift fact from opinion, make a clear written argument or objectively review conflicting reports of a situation or event, according to New York University sociologist Richard Arum, lead author of the study. The students, for example, couldn’t determine the cause of an increase in neighborhood crime or how best to respond without being swayed by emotional testimony and political spin.

There’s the answer.



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Tuesday: Keeping it Real …. or something.

I don’t know where this last week went …. have you seen it any where? There’s a reward waiting for anyone who can get it back to me.


And the YouTube clause makes it all OK? I don’t think so. But it will make it easier for us to post videos from Jon Stewart and Saturday Night Live.

Comcast-NBC joint venture approval expected Tuesday

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski threw his support behind the deal in late December with a number of conditions. Among them, senior FCC staff said the joint venture would have to commit to assurances that it wouldn’t stifle competition in the fast-evolving online video market.

To that end, sources said the company may also be required to share NBC content with Internet companies, such as YouTube and Roku, if other networks, such as CBS and Walt Disney, are doing so.

Justice is expected to impose conditions that prohibit “anti-retaliatory” moves by the joint venture against competitors and partners. As Justice did in the merger of Ticketmaster and Live Nation, the new company couldn’t retaliate against any venue owner that chooses to use another company’s ticketing services or promotional services.


First of all — 35-40 kids taking Advanced Placement macroeconomics …. in high school? What’s that about? And then they make the kids GO to the school to work at a computer lab? Are pajamas allowed in the dress code? Because otherwise it just doesn’t seem fair.

Florida Has Classes Without Teachers

These virtual classrooms, called e-learning labs, were put in place last August as a result of Florida’s Class Size Reduction Amendment, passed in 2002. The amendment limits the number of students allowed in classrooms, but not in virtual labs.

Under the state’s class-reduction amendment, high school classrooms cannot surpass a 25-student limit in core subjects, like English or math. Fourth- through eighth-grade classrooms can have no more than 22 students, and prekindergarten through third grade can have no more than 18.

Alix Braun, 15, a sophomore at Miami Beach High, takes Advanced Placement macroeconomics in an e-learning lab with 35 to 40 other students. There are 445 students enrolled in the online courses at her school, and while Alix chose to be placed in the lab, she said most of her lab mates did not.

“None of them want to be there,” Alix said, “and for virtual education you have to be really self-motivated. This was not something they chose to do, and it’s a really bad situation to be put in because it is not your choice.”


Knowing full well the Republicans have no real intention of changing anything, I can’t wait to see how people feel about this bill if the subsidies are stripped from it. Can you imagine that mandate without any subsidies? How can they guarantee all that sweet, sweet cash to the insurance companies without subsidies? I have to laugh at the thought that they’re seriously planning to cut funding:

Repeal vote just the first step for Republicans on health care

The real work begins immediately afterward, with Republicans using every legislative and political tool at their disposal to wage a two-year campaign against the overhaul. And there won’t be anything subtle about this slow-drip strategy as Republicans aim to erode public confidence in the law and, they hope, make it so politically unpalatable that even some Democrats turn against it.

And it seems that we’ll be substituting “passion” for “overheated” in the future. Don’t forget:

House Set to Launch Health Law Challenge

Both sides, though, may try a little harder to keep the debate from becoming overheated. President Obama and Republicans alike reject claims that political rhetoric contributed to the shooting last Saturday in Arizona. But the president urged Congress to keep the discourse “worthy” of the victims. And in the days following, House Speaker John Boehner has noticeably avoided describing the bill as the “job-killing” health care law.

Instead, Boehner substituted the term “job-destroying” during Republicans’ retreat in Baltimore over the weekend. And in a post on his official House speaker blog Monday, his office referred to the policy as the “job-crushing” heath care law, which contained “job-destroying” taxes and requirements.

That doesn’t mean the name of the “Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act” will change. Sources say it will not. It doesn’t mean either side will do away with the dire warnings about what’s at stake. But it suggests lawmakers may show a tad more restraint in setting the terms of a debate which is unavoidably passionate.


It looks like Steve Jobs medical fight continues. It’s really bad news, but at least he should be able to pay his bills:
Apple’s Steve Jobs takes medical leave

For the second time in two years, Apple CEO Steve Jobs is taking leave of absence from the company because of a medical condition, according to a letter Jobs sent to Apple employees.

“At my request, the board of directors has granted me a medical leave of absence so I can focus on my health. I will continue as CEO and be involved in major strategic decisions for the company,” Jobs says in the letter.

Tim Cook, Apple’s chief operating officer, will take control of the company in Jobs’ absence.


I don’t think this is going to be a surprise to anyone who’s lost a lot of weight all at once. I thought it was from the diet changes but, it doesn’t surprise me that fat cells hide pollutants in addition to fat. They’re already storing fat so we know they have no loyalty to us at all.

Weight loss may send pollutants into bloodstream

Body fat stores certain pollutants, including such pesticides as DDT and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). If a person loses weight and significant amounts of body fat are broken down, these chemical compounds, known as persistent organic pollutants, are released and can lead to disease, said researchers from Kyungpook National University in Daegu, South Korea.

“The strong dogma on weight change is that weight loss is always good while weight gain is always bad,” but that may not always hold up, said study researcher Dr. Duk-Hee Lee, a professor at the university.

Hypertension, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis have been linked to persistent organic pollutants, Lee said.


While some people were shocked I thought Ricky Gervais was the best thing about the Golden Globe ceremony the other night:

Globes host Ricky Gervais explains ceremony absence

In the latter part of the show, having been off stage for a lengthy period of time, a more subdued Gervais appeared, prompting speculation he had been told to tone down his act.

But Gervais insisted: “I was allowed to choose who I would introduce in advance. I obviously chose presenters who I had the best jokes for, and who I knew had a good sense of humour.

“Everyone took it well and the atmosphere backstage and at the after show was great.”

US critics appeared divided, with The Los Angeles Times saying his jokes set “a corrosive tone” for the night.

Jon Stewart ‘Offended’ by Rickey Gervais’s Golden Globes Comedy

On the other hand:

Last night, Jon Stewart weighed in on the debate over whether or not Ricky Gervais blew it at the Golden Globes, admitting that he was “offended that a comedian could be that funny at an awards show.”

So, I think we’ve settled THAT.


That’s the news here in Kansas … what’s going on in your Internet?

Tuesday: Jumping the Shark

Ok, I promised myself I wouldn’t go over this subject again but it seems we have lost perspective.

It pains me to point this out, but here goes.

In the past two decades, those of us on the left have watched with increasing alarm at the rise of the right wing noise machine.  I forgot who called it the Wurlitzer but it’s an accurate description.  The Wurlitzer is loud, rude and everywhere.  You can’t get away from it.  I don’t know how many times we have wrung our hands in frustration that we can’t trust the news, can’t find any reliable news and can’t seem to get on the airwaves.  When there is something important the left wants to say, the right puts us on mute.  When there’s an issue that deserves debate, the right rolls out slogans like “cut and run” and “weapons of mass destruction” and “congenital liar” (that last one was from William Safire to describe Hillary Clinton).

Two weeks ago, it seemed like the sentiment on most lefty blogs, including this one, was that the news was a waste of time, that cable news, in particular, was chock full of conservative voices.  Atrios frequently points out the number of conservatives vs liberal voices on the talking head programs and asks us to “document the atrocities”.  We all agreed that the right was abrasive, aggressive, dehumanizing, and was out to shut us down.  We despaired that if Obama got the nomination, the right would draw and quarter him in the general election campaign in 2008.  (They didn’t, which should have been a sign that they were up to something)

We think Glenn Beck is appalling, Rush Limbaugh an arrogant, bigoted, asshole with a suspected taste for sex tourism.  We couldn’t stand Fox News and its ubiquity in doctor’s waiting rooms and liquor stores.  We glommed onto any tiny slivver of hope of an alternative voice, includeing Keith Olbermann’s, at least for awhile.

The right owns just about every TV network in some capacity, makes all of the editorial decisions, floods talk radio and used to dominate the internet.  In fact, just about the ONLY outlet that the left has with a major presence is The Huffington Post.  That tells you how bad it is.

The right can make or break you.  Give you 15 minutes of fame or 15 years of infamy.  Put your relatives into a trance like state and ruin your Thanksgiving Dinner.  Turn your friends into walking, talking right wing zombies.  Make state legislatures into non functioning entities.

And yet, in spite of all of the intolerance, intimidation, screaming and yelling, lies, misleading nonsense we have had to put up with for almost 20 years, we have now come to the point where we are defending the right to say any stupid, dangerous thing it wants and we will applaud it.

We see Sarah Palin give an “in your face”, “go on and make me”, shameless, defiant video that pretty much is saying, “go on, make our day, we can say and do whatever the f^&* we want and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it” and we …

applaud it?

They have managed to make most of us here say, “don’t pick on the right wing noise machine.  That’s *Political* and it isn’t faaaairre.”

???

I’m not the least bit surprised that this has happened.  I suspected their guys were on it the minute I heard the term “politicize”.  Oh, man, Karl Rove couldn’t have crafted a better meme to shut the left blogosphere up.  The fact that the right is everywhere a contributing factor.  When that is the message that is broadcast for several days in a row non-stop, it starts to almost seem reasonable.  Before you know it, it’s unthinkable that anyone would ask the right to tone down their rhetoric.  It would be rude, unAmerican.  The right would NEVER politicize a tragedy.  NEVER.

Hello, Terry Schiavo.  Remember her?  Remember how the Republicans rushed back to Washington to pass a bill to override a court in Florida to prevent Terry Schiavo to die with dignity?

How about the Iraq War?  Wasn’t 9/11 invoked relentlessly by right wing media and Republicans to get us into a war we didn’t need?

We seem to have forgotten how ruthless and unsentimental the right can be about politicizing personal tragedies when their agenda can benefit from it.  No one here should be under any illusions about what the right is capable of when it comes to turning on the histronics to 11.

If it had been a Republican legislator gunned down, the right would be on the air right now screaming for the rescission of the first amendment from the Constitution and some Republican extremist in Congress would be drafting legislation to make sure that Fox was the official news channel and the Roberts’ court would be standing by, ready to not only invoke the amendment but retroactively remove all of the speeches it finds offensive in elementary school text books.  Goodbye, “I have a Dream”.

And now we are made to feel sorry for Sarah?  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t BLAME her for the shootings.  But for being a careless, opportunistic, participant of the dehumanization of the left, yeah, I blame her for that.  It’s regrettable that the left has lost its moral authority to call her on it because they’ve gone batshit crazy on Sarah since August 2008.  But that doesn’t mean that Sarah is a nice guy.

So, here I sit, from my perch, unsullied by the media madness, watching as my friends and fellow bloggers jump the shark, abandon all sense of self preservation and defend the right’s right to inflame, shut up, and shout down the left.  We hand them the mallet and say, “Here you go.  We’re sorry we questioned your right to trample us without limitations.  Please beat us some more and do it harder this time.  Harder, Harder!”

Guys, I’m not into S&M.  If you want to beat yourselves up for failing to speak softly to the right and making them cry, go right ahead but I’m not going to do it.  I now expect that commenters will scream that I want to take away our right to free speech, and I have said nothing of the sort.  Or that I am connecting the shooter with the insane political atmosphere in Arizona.  I think the jury is still out on that one and anyone who says there is NO connection is just as wrong as anyone who says that there is.  Or that I am denying the misogyny directed towards Sarah Palin, to which I say that even a target of misogyny can turn out to be a person with questionable motives and no scruples.  Just because they’re picking on you, doesn’t make you innocent of everything you’ve ever done.  But I am not going to do the right’s work for them by blaming everything on the patriarchy.

When we start pulling our punches with the right and feel that we don’t have the right to question their virtual monopoly on the media or the way they have damaged discourse and debate in this country in the past 20 years, then we have truly jumped the shark.

Well, some of YOU have anyways.