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Remember, Remember, the 5th of November

The 1% treason and plot

I see no reason why the 1 % treason

Should ever be forgot

Today is the day to move your bank accounts if you still need to.

see the V for Vendetta ending here.

“A government afraid of its citizens is a Democracy. Citizens afraid of government is tyranny!”
― Thomas Jefferson

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

60% of science majors switch majors before graduating?? Quelle Surprise!   In Why Science Majors Change Their Minds, It’s Just So Darn Hard, the NYTimes writes:

But, it turns out, middle and high school students are having most of the fun, building their erector sets and dropping eggs into water to test the first law of motion. The excitement quickly fades as students brush up against the reality of what David E. Goldberg, an emeritus engineering professor, calls “the math-science death march.” Freshmen in college wade through a blizzard of calculus, physics and chemistry in lecture halls with hundreds of other students. And then many wash out.

Studies have found that roughly 40 percent of students planning engineering and science majors end up switching to other subjects or failing to get any degree. That increases to as much as 60 percent when pre-medical students, who typically have the strongest SAT scores and high school science preparation, are included, according to new data from the University of California at Los Angeles. That is twice the combined attrition rate of all other majors.

Yeah, try the math when you’ve been at 14 different schools before graduating high school.  Talk about test anxiety.  With all of the obstacles to getting a degree in the sciences, and the Times lists several including the full immersion into theory and low GPAs, you have to be really dedicated and interested in science to want to stick with it to graduation.  Or crazy.  Or both.

“We’re losing an alarming proportion of our nation’s science talent once the students get to college,” says Mitchell J. Chang, an education professor at U.C.L.A. who has studied the matter. “It’s not just a K-12 preparation issue.”

No s$%^, Sherlock.  Could it be the hundreds of thousands of layoffs in the computer science and life science industries and the low pay as a consequence of those layoffs when you finally do find another job have scared students away?  No one goes into science to get rich but they do go into it expecting that those  years of calculus, physics and P. Chem. mean a decent salary and some kind of recognition by upper management that these are very difficult fields of study leading to very difficult jobs.  If everyone could do it, you wouldn’t have 40% of your majors switching and regular average Americans avoiding you at cocktail parties when you try to describe the last project you worked on.  And even if you are a math wiz, that doesn’t necessarily make you a good problem solver.  In other words, high SAT scores are helpful but not sufficient.

This paragraph is either really funny or horrifically out of touch:

Most of the top state research universities have added at least a splash of design work in the freshman year. The University of Illinois began this fall to require freshmen engineering students to take a course on aspirations for the profession and encourages them to do a design project or take a leadership seminar. Most technical schools push students to seek summer internships and take semesters off to gain practical work experiences. The hope is that the lure of high-paying jobs during an economic downturn will convince more students to stick with it.

Little Children, run away, run away!  Do not pursue a degree in science.  No matter how good you are or how hard you are willing to work, the executives think the Chinese can do it better.  It doesn’t matter how many Chinese scientists your parents know who turn out to be a mixed bag like every other demographic group.  There are no high salaries in science and engineering anymore.  Every company is laying off in droves and bugging out to Asia and western Europe.  All there are is a series of contract positions with low pay and no benefits for all of your years of toil and sweat over your condensation apparatuses, Hamiltonians and operator algebra.  Go into finance.  You may be miserable but you’ll never starve.  The New York Times has no idea what it is talking about.  Take it from us, the unemployed researchers of America.  Avoid chemistry and math like the plague.

I’ve wanted to be a scientist from fourth grade when my teacher burned sugar in a pan and put a watch glass over it so we could see the physical and chemical trasformation.  Damn her!  She ruined my life.  Don’t get sucked in by clever teachers who make it look “cool!”  Burning sugar is just a gateway drug to bitterness, sorrow and wasted lives.  People will see you and shake their heads and think, “She could have *owned* her house by now if she had just become a CPA.”  I volunteered to do a demonstration at a science night for little kids at Princeton recently and I’ve been feeling guilty ever since.  It’s a hard habit to break.

This has been a public service announcement to promote good mental hygeine among aspiring scientists.  Just don’t.  We can’t stress this enough.

Postscript: The comments section of that article just kills me.  The educators go on about how noble and lofty a science degree is, you just need to buckle down and study hard.  It’s hard work but so rewarding.  While the *real* scientists are like, “Are you nutz??  THERE ARE NO JOBS, NO MATTER HOW HARD YOU WORK TO GET A DEGREE!  Go take an easy major and become an investment banker.  Don’t break your heart in science.  We are severely underappreciated.”  Go read them, very illuminating how off the mark the general public and journalists are.  They are being deliberately mislead into thinking that a profession that requires so much hard work and dedication from its practitioners MUST be well paid and valued.  Nothing could be further from the truth and it would be immoral for those of us who have been there to tell students anything else.

39 Responses

  1. power to the people!!!! 🙂

  2. Love it!

  3. No matter how good you are or how hard you are willing to work, the executives think the Chinese can do it better.

    Corporate America is trying to lock down control over China’s economy–they want China to be another Mexico, not another Japan. American professionals are pawns to be sacrificed in the game.

    • Yes, we are being sacrificed. But the people who will really suffer are the patients who are waiting for cures that will not come for a long, long time. Even the Chinese are not ready to do the kind of research this country specialized in. We have attracted the cream of the crop to study here from China. And even among them, there are good researchers and average researchers and terrible researchers. But the point is, they came *here* to learn research and once they got here, they didn’t want to return home. Which is fine by me. They make the schools more rigorous. But if the MBAs think there are plenty where they came from, I think they are in for a shock. It’s also not the case that you can do life science research like you can research a new computer chip. Electronics obey strict laws of physics in a straightforward fashion; cells do not. MBAs who are counting on the latter behaving like the former are setting the shareholders up for a lot of disappointment.

  4. Sure, V is an over the top, dystopian melodrama, but it’s one of my all time favorite movies
    So well done and a powerful answer to our overlords who use “The War on Terror!!!!” to strip us of our Constitutional rights.
    I always well up at the last scene when we discover the dead are at the protest/moment of triumph, too, because ideas like liberty and decency never die.
    Call me an old fool, but when I look at the Occupiers, this is what I see.

  5. Are the Chinese really teaching their students in small classes with lots of hands-on projects during the early years and a deemphasis on theory? I doubt it. In psychology, we get a lot of pre-vet majors switching because they dislike or cannot do the sceince required. They want to be vets because they love animals, not because they have any affinity for science or animal medicine. It has been my experience that students who love the subject will gobble up theory and work hard at the math-based problems. Those who love some aspect of the field but not the subject matter (such as making a bunch of money down the line, working with people, etc.) would be better off pursuing that interest in some other way, so good riddance if they leave. I believe the real problem in science education is that the parents are forcing the kids to pursue certain majors that they think will lead to good jobs, but the kids have no intrinsic interest in the major (or in making money beyond satisfying their own needs/wants). Better counseling upon entry so that kids can shed their parents aspirations and discover their own would greatly reduce failure rates in the sciences. I’m sure science majors would prefer to pursue their studies without the winnowing and competitive aspect of the first year, since it must be distressing to those with a sincere interest in science witness friends in their classes wash out.

    • Sally, here in NJ, our schools have become extremely competitive. The Chinese Tiger Moms send their kids to prep schools over the summer so they can take their math courses in advance before school starts in the fall. That way, they are almost guaranteed an A. And Chinese students *expect* to be number 1 in the class. Last year, my daughter answered some problems in her math class before the kid who had designated himself as the No1 student and he got so mad at her he turned around and pushed her books off her desk.
      These students are driven, mostly by their parents. They know that what teachers really want is compliance. They want everything done perfectly and these kids comply. They are very good at math and science. But to really be good at science as a career, you have to find it fascinating even if the math is harder than you can ever, ever do. The sad thing is that once you get into industry, math is important but you don’t sweat over equations all day long. You get computers to do that. All you need to know is how things relate to other things mathematically.
      The bizarre thing is that employers are now checking transcripts even after you’ve been out of school for 20 years. That’s just weird. If you’ve been able to keep your job for the past 20 years in this environment of constant mergers and acquisitions, Jack Welch performance evaluations and layoffs, only to succomb at the very end when the hemorrhaging of industry meant EVERYONE is getting laid off in spite of their excellent recommendations, then what you did as a 22 year old seems to be a really strange and pointless way to evaluate a future employee. By those standards, half the innovators in Silicon Valley would be homeless. I’d like to see their statistical model and which principal components they’re using.

  6. Prior to today, 650,000 people had moved $4.5 billion from the TBTF banks into credit unions. Not too shabby for a ragtag bunch of hippies in the park 🙂

    Let’s keep it up and hit them where it hurts.

  7. A note on the continuing warfare against the middle class…

    Most of the unemployed no longer receive benefits

    WASHINGTON (AP) — The jobs crisis has left so many people out of work for so long that most of America’s unemployed are no longer receiving unemployment benefits.

    Early last year, 75 percent were receiving checks. The figure is now 48 percent – a shift that points to a growing crisis of long-term unemployment. Nearly one-third of America’s 14 million unemployed have had no job for a year or more.

    Congress is expected to decide by year’s end whether to continue providing emergency unemployment benefits for up to 99 weeks in the hardest-hit states. If the emergency benefits expire, the proportion of the unemployed receiving aid would fall further.

    The ranks of the poor would also rise. The Census Bureau says unemployment benefits kept 3.2 million people from slipping into poverty last year. It defines poverty as annual income below $22,314 for a family of four.

    Yet for a growing share of the unemployed, a vote in Congress to extend the benefits to 99 weeks is irrelevant. They’ve had no job for more than 99 weeks. They’re no longer eligible for benefits.

    • It’s even worse than that. Up until Sept 1, 2011, the government was subsidizing COBRA up to 65%. Not anymore. I got the bill for my first cobra payment. $924/month. Yep, and no subsidy.
      It would be almost double that in the regular insurance market for me and the kid. I can’t just opt to insure her only. Under the terms of my former employer’s health insurance policy, I must be insured or she can’t be. My employer has just one plan. There is no HMO option. To put the kid in the SCHIP program means she has to go 3 months without insurance. And once her dad’s income is factored in, she probably wouldn’t qualify. So, we’re stuck with COBRA.
      There are jobs around here but they don’t pay enough to cover the mortgage AND insurance and they’re in areas that I haven’t done in 20 years. And that’s if I could actually get one.
      Personally? I think the politicians who are allowing this to happen are evil fucks and I plan to vote out as many incumbents as possible next year. For us researchers, this is not a recession. It’s a Depression as bad as it gets.

      • I’m with you. Vote them all out, until we get some good ones in, seems to be the logical thing to me. After enough churning, they’ll get the message not to sell out, I hope.

      • Too bad when Obama, Pelosi, and Reid were selling their souls for thirty pieces of insurance company campaign silver, or as they called it Health Care Reform, they didn’t expand eligibility for CHIPS and Medicaid for the unemployed. But then all their Big Insurance CEO buddies might have had to curtail their vacations to Europe or make do with last years high dollar luxo-cars. Obama felt their pain.

  8. It’s no longer funny when you walk up to a Conservative in full “ha ha, you got 400,000 dollars in debt for a English Studies Degree” and say “Engineer graduates can’t find jobs either”.

    I have yet to find one with the courage to respond.

  9. I was at my local Chase branch at 8:30 this morning – only to find it opens at 9 AM on Saturday. Apparently an internal memo at Chase had declared this “Chase Pride Day” to counteract Bank Transfer Day…anyway, as I turned to return to my car, the door magically opened and a lovely lady said “May we help you?”. I told her I would be back at 9 Am and she asked what I wanted to do…I told her take money out…and she suggested the drive-through (which was open). I said I would return – and did.

    As I waited for my bank check to appear, the Branch Manager asked me if there was anything they could say to make me decide to keep my money with Chase and I said – Yes! His eyes brightened (to match his spiffy, spotlessly clean Chase “uniform” – he obviously got the Chase Pride Day memo!) and I told him, “Tell me your CEO, CFO and all of the other crooks at the top of the Chase organization have been arrested and charged with the crimes that they committed and are now being paraded off to jail in orange jump suits.” Shortly after, with bank check firmly in hand, I heard him say “we need to check to see if her accounts need to be adjusted since she has removed most of her funds.”

    Next month, my few remaining dollars at Chase will probably be assessed a fee. I need to get my direct deposit changed and close that bloody thing!

    Happy Chase Pride Day!

    • Marsha, just out of curiosity, are you a member of MoveOn?

      • I used to be – gave up on them back in 2007 – for obvious Obot reasons.

        Unfortunately, several petitions that I support have been originated on sign-on, the move-on petition site and so now I seem to be on their list again. I am a strong supporter of Occupy Tucson and absolutely REFUSE to let Move-On or anyone else co-opt its work. Today there was a Move-on March – that they scheduled to start at the Occupy Tucson site (can you say “co-opt?) and I noticed that they had their own “Move Your Money” effort – I joined up with Bank Transfer Day and that’s what it was to me.

      • Just curious…do I sound like a Move-On member? (Note: your answer could ruin my day!! :>)

  10. After being hosed repeadedly by a commercial bank charging me for them misplacing checks I had listed on a deposit slip then charging me again because I had the writers put a stop on them, I switched to a credit union and have never looked back. Oh and the “regular” fees sucked too. (pun intended)

  11. I originally wanted to be a chemist, but my brain hit an invisible ceiling in Algebra 2 (11th grade). After that, math was such a struggle for me that I decided the sciences were not my calling after all. Since my scholarship to UALR (U. of Ark. at Little Rock) depended on maintaining good grades, I didn’t dare shoot for something I might not be able to make good grades in, so I chose history as my major, because it’s another area that interests me.

    I have wondered sometimes if I should have tried for a scientific or technical field after all, but RD’s experience tells me that nothing I could have decided would have made any difference.

    I was just screwed from Day One by factors entirely beyond my control, like the majority of ordinary USAmericans under Heaven’s Own Glorious Conservative Plutocratic Occupation Regime Of The Only True Patriots, which has more or less kept an iron grip on our poor country since the great disaster of November 1980.

    May the Deity forgive me if necessary, but I wish conservatism were a building, so I could burn it down and p!$$ in its ashes.

    • I would like to join you in that whiz. Sounds like good solid fun.

    • I sucked at math. It was the bane of my existence. I attribute it to having very inconsistent math instruction between 4th and 7th grade when I went to 7 schools. (Wait, did I miss one? Was it 7 or 8? I get so confused) When I first went to Pitt, I was terrified of taking math courses. I had a graduate student named Judy Billingslea my first year there teaching me all of the math I didn’t get in high school. She told me that I could only get over my test anxiety by doing every problem in the book. And that worked for awhile. But when you’re up til 2am cleaning the floors of a fast food restaurant because you’re just so danged poor, there’s little time to do every problem.
      For me, it wasn’t the calculus that did me in. I got the word problems. it was the fricking algebra and arithmetic. But I stuck it out because I wanted to study science.
      The graduate classes I took at Rutgers and Princeton were a lot easier. But I attribute that to having a regular job when I took them and a good night’s sleep. Sleep definitely helps.

    • There has been research that shows that how science is taught is only effective for 10 or 15 percent of students. No doubt future faculty come from this group so that since the teaching worked for them, then it must be OK.

      To demonstrate otherwise, an introductory course in physics for non-science students was constructed at the I think the University of Washington which incorporated recent work on how people learn. At the end of the year, a test based on physics concepts was given to those students and to the students who also took the conventional introductory physics course for science students. The non-science students as a group actually did better than the science students.
      So who know MFTI, you may well have had it in you to become a
      scientist.

  12. I’m a scientist in academia and have been so for over 30 years (most of those as a research specialist and the last ten as a doctoral student). On reason I’m not surprised about the current high science dropout rate – the undergrads coming in these days appear much more unprepared (especially with regard to critical thinking skills) and have very different attitudes from those 20-30 years ago. I see a number of reasons for this. One is the emphasis on standardized tests (in grade school they learn to the tests rather than gaining understanding – and they never learn how to actually THINK). Another is that, at least for those in middle class or above – all their time, in and out of school, is filled with structured activities (some schools have even made recess a structured activity) – the amount of real, unstructured play that they experience as children has diminished (and I think that loss kills creativity). They’ve also been trained to be sheep (which I think partially accounts for their massive embrace of obama in 2008) and are far more approval seeking (one study found that approval from authority figures is now more important to them than sex!). And one of the most important things is the whole self-esteem movement. They’re constantly told how great they are, standards are dropped so that they can all feel good about themselves, and they’re not given critical feedback. So they don’t learn to recognize what they don’t know (and recognizing that is crucial in science). And this lack of ongoing, realistic, critical feedback, when combined with constant messages that they’re amazing and will all go on to be top-level political leaders, doctors, etc. – leads to disaster when the first encounter rigorous science courses in college. And I’ll tell you, as an instructor – they want to kill the messenger.

    The NY Times article mentions that colleges are encouraging them to take “leadership seminars”. And they’re constantly beeing encouraged to take “leadership” classes and activities in high school. Spare me on this topic – the kids who take these courses all come out acting and believing that they’re little gods. Causally, I don’t know how much of this is the consequence of the course and how much of it is who gravitates to such courses (I suspect the more narcissistic ones do). In my lab, we make it a point NEVER to hire undergrads who tout the leadership skills they’ve developed or leadership courses they’ve taken. In the past, whenever we’ve hired an applicant who lists such courses on their resume, or who touts his/her leadership skills, they’ve always turned out to be a disaster.

    A final comment – given the recession and the resulting dramatic reduction in faculty hiring – in my particular field, the number of advertised job openings has been about two to three a year NATIONALLY (and each opening is flooded with hundreds of applicants). So that’s what I’m looking forward to.

    • Hmm, well, I have a kid who has been allowed to grow up free range with very few scheduled activities and plenty of time to be creative. In fact, I’m just the money man for her craft store addiction. She also speaks four languages. In addition to English, she is fluent in French and conversational in German and Italian. She is teaching herself Chinese and Japanese (they don’t offer them in her school). She was just inducted into the French honor society. She takes AP English and AP French, honors chemistry and precalc. She is only a sophomore. But you won’t find her at any prestigious university even though she could run rings around most kids who have been helicoptered to death. Why? Because her grades aren’t perfect and she doesn’t do her homework.
      I get a little sick of educators telling me all about critical thinking skills when the only thing they REALLY want is that every tedious, busy work homework assignment is turned in on time. Classes for gifted kids in my district are a joke. There is no critical thinking required. Just lots of extra, brain numbing work.
      Let’s not forget that it wasn’t too long ago when American scientists were winning all of the top international prizes. That didn’t come about by burning kids out at an early age from endless homework assignments and extracurricular activities. It also didn’t come because educators taught critical thinking skills. It came about because of the uniqueness of the American culture which says that we don’t cut people off when they’re young just because they are poor or aren’t the class valedictorian. In our culture, it is ok to just be persistent. Or it used to be ok. Now, you can only get ahead if you have a PhD and a 4.0 gpa. And even then you can’t get ahead.
      And there are no jobs out there in science in academia or industry.

      • Well, I certainly agree with you regarding endless homework assignments. Kids don’t really learn from that. One of the courses I’ve TAed several times makes students jump through a million hoops (lots of useless assignments). I have no say over the course structure and assignments. The kids hate it and I hate grading mountains of useless paper. Of the courses I’ve TAed, the one I enjoy the most is a lab course that I have almost full control over. Over the course of the semester the students get to think up and execute two physiology experiments (there’s only three assignments in the course and very high quality product is expected). Basically, the course is about learning to do science (in a very free-form fashion).The kids love it and (with lots of ongoing feedback and Socratic-style discussion) almost always turn in great work.

      • P.S. Also, these days kids are trained to be obsessed with their grades rather than to be curious about and engaged with the material. In the long run, that strategy just produces uncreative unthinking automatons.

        • You know it and I know it but in this country at this time, grades are the ONLY thing that matters.
          It’s OK though. The kid is not going into science. Well, she might go into computational linguistics but that’s not the same as sweating over a hot plate or counting cells. Totally different animal.
          Too bad because I think she’d make an excellent scientist. But these days a career in science ranks right up there with becoming an artist. In fact, she’d make more money in art because she wouldn’t have to work for an MBA. Come to think of it, slashing science may have been the best thing to ever happen to artists.

        • And that is a deliberate training. Grade-obsession and testing-to-teach-to was a key goal of the Kennedy-Bush “leave no child behind” law right from the start. Critical-thinking prevention is a major goal of this federally-driven education deform.

          The other major goal is to invent failure to accuse schools of, and engineer them into that failure so as to privatise and profitise all the property-tax-payer-funded buildings, facilities, revenue-streams, etc.
          Senator Kennedy certainly was a useful idiot in the hands of the School System Yeltsinizers.

  13. I remember during the early ’80s . . . I vaguely thought I might want to become some kind of wildlife professional or at least see what that was like. I applied for a 2-month job at Whitefish Point Observatory observing and counting all the large migratory birds passing by. When I continued not hearing back, I finally called up to ask. The nice man on the phone told me that normally these jobs were for grad students, but this time they were flooded with apps from out-of-work wildlife professionals due to the Reagan Recession. So I never had a chance.

    One percent treason? There is a radio programmer with allied website called David Emory who theorizes that to be quite literally correct. I have randomly heard a few of his “For The Record” broadcasts when I had radio-access at the IV hood at work. He has a whole bunch of broadcasts and also an extensive reading list devoted to his theory that the foreign fascist movements always had an elite establishment American counterpart. Some of his broadcasts explore aspects of the Republican Party connection to the Nazi Party and the Fascist Party during the 1930’s ( and the 1940’s as much as they could get away with it). He has also discussed how the elite social class fascists in Germany moved key money and key people out of Germany beginning in 1941 so as to preserve assets for future rounds
    of the fascisms-versus-democracy battle. They left the ordinary Germans behind to keep fighting. He calls these people and their successors today “the Underground Fourth Reich”. He believes they
    seek to destroy the United States from within both to get revenge for the Allied Victory in WWII and also to “fascise” the successor countries
    to the United States after they succeed in breaking the country into smaller manageable pieces. Mere tinfoil? (links to follow below…)

    • One particular broadcast is titled : The Engineer Intends To Wreck The Train. It is about how the Bush Administration deliberately on purpose engineered the debt and deficit we have today in order to produce a “crisis” for the Underground Fourth Reich acting through its Republican Party Cover ( together with certain key Democratic Party collaborators) to bring America closer to a fascist social order.http://spitfirelist.com/for-the-record/ftr-412-the-engineer-intends-to-wreck-the-train/
      One particular quote I still remember from this particular broadcast went like this: “George W. Bush is the visible nexus of the Underground Fourth Reich in America today.” How can one not at least listen to such a broadcast?

  14. The history buff in me is still baffled about this guy who want to kill a king for religious reasons – and failed – gets rehabilitated by a comic book + movie and remade into a revolutionary figure.
    meanwhile, Richard III remains the false image of a monster just because he was the last of his family to have power and had his history written exclusively by his enemies.
    Those masks look cool, but I sure would have wished that Anonymous would have chosen a more suitable historical symbol than Fawkes.

    • I dunno, Richard’s nephews *did* go missing under his care. I don’t think there’s any doubt that he did them in. AND Elizabeth Woodville had to go into sanctuary twice. Sure, her family was as bad as the Boleyns and the Seymours, maybe worse in terms of marrying scads of them into the upper echelons of the aristocracy.
      But the two princes still went missing and it was Richard who was supposed to watch them. You can’t say he didn’t have a motive. Lots of people want to become king with no rivals for the seat. How many of them actually take matters into their own hands? John of Gaunt didn’t and if anyone had reason to do it, it would have been him. Richard just didn’t have the same degree of honor and restraint.

      • The nephews were NOT ahead of him in the line for the throne.

        • In England, primogeniture wins. The princes were the sons of King Edward IV. Richard III was merely his brother. That would be like Prince Andrew getting to the throne before Princes William and Harry.
          In a similar situation, John of Gaunt *could* have inherited the throne. He was the second son of Edward III and heir but for Richard II, the underage heir of John’s predeceased elder brother, the Black Prince Edward. If Gaunt had wanted to, he could have seized the throne for himself but he ended his regency when Richard II was old enough to be crowned. Later on, Henry Bolingbroke challenged Richard for the throne because Richard was a megalomaniacal tyrant who was costing his kingdom dearly. That, IMHO, was a legitimate challenge. Bolingbroke was the grandson of the same king as Richard and son of a respected son of the king.
          I’m not sure Richard III was maligned. He captured his nephew Edward on the way to his coronation and, together with his younger brother, had them imprisoned in the Tower where they were never seen alive again. He had Elizabeth Woodville’s brothers executed. Presumably, they would have had an interest in defending their nephews’ claims to the throne and since Edward V was only 12 at the time, he and his brother needed protection.
          Richard III sounds like a nasty piece of work. Maybe no worse than some of the other pieces of work who came to the English throne and you might even say that he did it to stabilise the kingdom. Or something. But he comes by his reputation legitimately. Something happened to the princes in the Tower and as the heirs and Richard’s nephews, it was *his* responsibility to see they came to no harm. Maybe he simply starved them to death and convinced himself that they were on a hunger strike.
          Well, whatever. Karma came around to bite him in the ass at Bosworth. Granted, Henry Tudor had very little claim to the throne but the mothers worked out a deal to put an end to the ridiculous fighting and the rest is history.
          Still, Richard usurped his nephews. No doubt about that.

    • I don’t know why Fawkes became such a folk hero. He wasn’t even the ring leader. Robert Catesby was. There were probably a lot of secret sympathizers who didn’t have the money to become recusants. Then there was James I himself who was Scottish fergawdssakes. He wrote some prissy pamphlet about how he was going to rule by divine right and absolute authority when he first took the throne. And how did that turn out for his son?
      I saw part of a BBC documentary about the gunpowder plot and if Catesby and Fawkes had succeeded, they would have taken out most of the political hierarchy in England on Nov 5 including the King and over 60 of the most powerful people in England. It would have been a disaster of unprecedented proportions because of the power vacuum left behind. Think of a new War of the Roses. There’s an idea for a novel, what would have happened if the Gunpowder Plot had succeeded?
      Maybe Fawkes became a hero because of the way he died. Drawing and quartering was an ignominious way to go. It was the state’s way of humiliating you and wiping you from the face of the earth. Heros do not get drawn and quartered. Of all the conspirators who were executed, Fawkes did not allow himself to be humiliated. When he got to the scaffold where he was to be strangled by hanging but left still alive and conscious for his genitals to be cut off, he decided to jump off the platform, hanging and killing himself instantly. That took the pleasure of the rest of the festivities away from the executioners. It showed the viewers that he was going to die by his own hand. I’m betting that has something to do with his fame. He was still drawn and quartered but he was already dead and deprived the authorities of the humiliating aspects of the execution. Guy escaped them in the end and didn’t eek out every moment of existence just to see bit by bit of him taken away as if he had no power. And isn’t that what they were objecting to in the first place? The recusants had no power over the state when it came to their own consciences and religion. It was humiliating. The poorer classes couldn’t pay the fines to get out of the protestant sunday attendances. They had to put up with the ritual humiliation of the state. So, I’m going to guess that Fawkes’ death was symbolic and that’s why he’s such an antihero.

  15. Guy escaped them in the end and didn’t eek out every moment of existence just to see bit by bit of him taken away as if he had no power

    That one last inch.
    One last inch of humanity, decency, agency that no one can take away.

  16. The New York Times Still Has Not Heard About the Recession

    Jeez, I really like Dean Baker.

    It is sometimes hard to get news about the economy over in the middle of New York City. Communications ain’t what they used to be. That is what readers might conclude from reading David Leonhardt’s piece telling us that our big problem is that the United States and governments in Europe have promised too much to their populations.

    Leonhardt tells us:

    “On the most basic level, affluent countries are facing sharply increasing claims on their resources even as those resources are growing less quickly than they once were.

    The increasing claims come from the aging of the population, while the slowing growth of available resources comes from a slowdown of economic expansion over the last generation.”

    David Leonhardt is an idiot!

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