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David Brooks’ world: Let all the worms that lurk in the mud hatch out

Ashley Moser, age 25

The shooting in Aurora, Colorado and its aftereffects, appear to be a culmination of all of the ways we Americans have let each other down in the past 30 years.  Let’s take a look, shall we?

Ashley Moser: If there was a poster child for everything that has gone wrong in America since Richard Nixon resigned, Ashley would have to be it.

Ashley is 25 years old.  Her father died recently from leukemia.  His illness wiped out the family’s financial resources.  He died penniless.  Ashley is a single mother, it’s unclear if she is divorced or ever married.  But the “little Depression” has been hard on families who struggle to make ends meet and are broken up by distance when one parent has to make a living in another location and can’t take the whole family.  It’s a common situation these days and marriage is no safeguard against it.  She was living with her parents but times got tough and when her father died, she had to move in with her aunt.

She’s a student.  She is also unemployed.  She had applied to and was accepted into a nursing program.  She was living on student loans.  LOANS, not grants.  She had a six year old daughter who she took to the movie with her.  Been there, done that, waiting with the kid for the latest book in the Harry Potter series at the local bookstore at 12am, surrounded by a store full of Hermione Grangers and Draco Malfoys.  Veronica Moser-Sullivan, aged 6, was the youngest victim.  She died at the scene.

Ashley was shot in the neck and the abdomen and is in critical condition.  Her doctors say she will suffer some paralysis but may have the use of her hands.  There’s a bullet in her head that hasn’t been removed yet. She is pregnant.

Because she is unemployed and uninsured, she is on medicaid. If she weren’t horribly injured at the moment and didn’t have the nation’s sympathy, it’s likely that she’d be shamed by these very same people who would be calling her a deadbeat leech on the American taxpayer.  She’d be treated with more dignity and respect in Norway but she had the misfortune to not be Norwegian during these last critical years of her life. That’s where single motherhood is no big deal, children are valued and she wouldn’t be struggling to live on student loans while she got her life together and was able to contribute to society, which should be the *only* definition of success, other than good parenthood, that gets admiration and respect.

It is unclear what her prospects, medical expenses or living arrangements will be once she is released from the hospital, if she is released. But whatever they are, it is likely that her future wages will be garnished to pay back her student loans.  Otherwise, it would be irresponsible to let this kind of moral hazard stand and wouldn’t be teaching Ashley a valuable lesson.

Her relatives had to tell her about her daughter on Saturday night.  She didn’t take it well and screamed that she wanted to die.

In all likelihood, if she *does* look like she is about to die, some Christian group will petition the state for guardianship of her unborn baby, intending to keep her on life support until the delivery.  Or, she may he on the brink of death without an abortion and they may interfere at that point.  Or, because she is on Medicaid, she will have to pay for a lifesaving and possibly much more expensive high risk abortion herself.  If it’s a “partial birth abortion”, there might not be any way to do it in the state of Colorado.  The scenarios that play out here sound like an updated version of Stephen King’s Misery crossed with Never Let Me Go.  Her family should have kept this information out of the media but it’s too late now.  The cat’s out of the bag and the evangelicals are no doubt already winding up for the prayer circle of all prayer circles, sending her messages about how her lifelong paralysis happened for a reason and god wanted Veronica for his newest angel but it’s a miracle that god has blessed her with a precious replacement!  As if children are swappable objects.  If it were up to me, I would leave life and death decisions up to Ashley and her doctors.  Maybe we should ask Michael Schiavo how that kind of thing works out.

The mass murderer, James Holmes, is apparently a very disturbed individual.  He’s not unlike many other disturbed mass murderers.  Friends and family notice that there is a personality change or he starts to behave strangely but there’s not a whole lot of things parents can do.  After all, the kid is an adult now.  The owner of a gun club says that Holmes left messages on his company’s voice mail and that his voice made him very uneasy.  He thanks god he didn’t have to deal with him, probably because guns are big business in America and it would have been hard to turn him away.

Not much is known about whether or not Holmes was treated for any psychological problems. It’s hard to know when science geeks have crossed the line mentally.  Many a time I have heard, “You know, so and so is acting really weird. He gives me the willies.  If anyone here were to go postal, it would be him.”  “Yeah, but he’s great in the lab! Fricking brilliant. His boss would be lost without him.” (True story about a gun “enthusiast” I used to work with many years ago.) His University probably has a counseling office but in America these days, it’s almost unheard of to commit people.  We usually just let them fall to their natural level, as David Brooks might say, and let them live on the streets. Holmes will probably get better mental health care now that he’s in prison or at the facility for the criminally insane.  For sure, he should never be free again, but will he be turned over to an institution run by a for profit company?

Graduate students are used to working conditions that are unusual.  I’ve heard it said that they have a lot of flexibility in their work.  They can work any 80 hours of the week they want.  It’s unclear if his work schedule contributed to his mental state but we should consider that Wall Street traders and analysts Holmes’ age work about 80 hours a week without a break for a couple of years and they nearly blew up the world, so, you know, there’s that.  His stipend, no matter how much the media makes of it, was probably less than minimum wage for the hours he would have been expected to work and was not enough to live on in the Denver area.  I’ve had a kid who worked in Denver as a chef for a couple of years.  They didn’t pay her enough.  She had to move.  She loves Denver.  Denver wages?  Ehhhhh, not so much.

Holmes ended up in Denver at graduate school because after earning a master’s in Neuroscience in 2010, he couldn’t find a job.  That’s not really all that unusual for scientists these days, including yours truly and everyone I’ve ever worked with.  A master’s is plenty sufficient for anything industrial research could throw at him but without experience, even young, cheap labor can’t find work.  Neither can older, experienced labor.  I find that a lot of employers want experienced labor, they just don’t want to pay for it.  So, Holmes had to go back to graduate school.  He probably would have been better off learning plumbing or joining the navy.  At least the military will help you pay your student loans.

This is not to say that I feel any kind of compassion for James Holmes the mass murderer.  But I do feel sorry for colleagues of James Holmes who are in a similar economic situation through the actions of a bunch of financiers on Wall Street who thought mergers and acquisitions of research companies in the last two decades was a sweet way to make loads of money and big bonuses.  Too bad it ruined research.

Holmes was able to order many rounds of ammunition online.  He also ordered an urban assault vest.  Unlike buying birth control, there is no conscience rule that would allow someone who is using common sense to stop a graduate student like James Holmes from buying combat equipment.  No one was allowed to say, “Where are you headed, buddy? Afghanistan?  Iraq?  Because I don’t think you need any of that stuff in Aurora.  Whatever you’re planning, I’m agin’ it.  No sale for you.”

Let’s think about that for a second.  It is harder for Ashley Moser to buy Plan B in the very same places where James Holmes could buy his own arsenal.  Enough weaponry to mow down a theater?  As long as you have a credit card, not a problem. No questions asked.   A couple of pills of early intervention to prevent a mistake?  Everyone you don’t know has an opinion and a hoop you must jump through.  Sure, the conscience rule executive order has been modified but whose going enforce it?  In a couple of years, Sasha and Malia will be able to buy their own Glocks but long after they’ve given up bubble gum, they will still have problems locating a pharmacist who will sell Plan B to them from behind the counter.

And because this is an election year and we must not piss off the young, white males in western states who might vote, Barack Obama sees no reason why he should develop any policies to address the issue of unfettered access to guns.  He also sees no need to promote an assault weapons ban that Bill Clinton put in place during his terms but went out of fashion during the Bush years.

I wonder if Ashley Moser knows this.  I hear Obama has been visiting the victims.  There’s an outpouring of support for Ashley right now, including a fundraiser.  But in a couple of months, America will forget about Ashley and she’ll have to navigate the social welfare system on her own.  For what it’s worth, I think a fundraiser should never be necessary for Ashley or others like her.  She, and all of the other Ashleys and Alexes, deserves a nation’s support, not charity or pity or insensitive moralizing.  She needed her country to be behind her in the last couple of years.  We’d better not fail her in the years to come.

So, there you go.

Worms everywhere.

Update: Katiebird says there is a second family that will be ruined by this shooting through no fault of their own.  Caleb Medley was shot in the eye and is in a medically induced coma.  His medical bills are expected to top $2 million, which is $2 million *less* than what David Brooks paid for his new house.  Caleb’s wife is on a separate floor of the hospital ready to give birth.

Of course, according to David Brooks, if the Medley’s end up broke, disabled and must remain deliberately impoverished in order to qualify for the bare modicum of subsistence medical care that Medicaid provides, at least we can console ourselves that the nation didn’t “commit sociology” to rescue any Americans who were collateral damage of a disturbed guy who just happened to use an easily available gun on their bodies.

If buying a gun in Texas were as easy as getting an abortion

Imagine the legislation…

The buyer would have to go to an approved gun dispensary.  The dimensions of the dispensary would be strictly regulated and the dispensary might end up in a seedy part of town in an unmarked building.  The gun dispensary owner would not be allowed to advertise. Because the regulations would be difficult to meet, there would be less than a handful of dispensaries legally licensed to sell firearms.  A person from Amarillo might have to drive to Galveston to get one.

The free speech rights of anti-gun protestors would be protected.  Prospective gun buyers would not be shielded from protestors petitioning or discouraging the buyer from purchasing a gun as long as the protestors do not approach within a certain number of feet from the buyer and refrain from touching the buyer.

It would be illegal for anyone to refer the buyer to a gun dispensary. However, it would not be illegal for an anti-gun organization to masquerade as a gun dispensary for the purposes of shaming the prospective buyer or talking him or her out of buying a gun.  No exceptions to this advice rule would be made for hunters or other people who may have a specific use for guns that does not include the potential for shooting people.

The gun dispensary owner would need to provide proof of education in the types and uses of firearms.  A degree from an accredited university would be the only proof accepted.  He or she would need to be licensed for each type of firearm.  An assault weapons ban might mean that the buyer would have to travel to one of the few places in the country that sells them to get one.

Prospective buyers would be required to undergo mandatory counseling on the use and effect of firearms.  The buyer would not be able to opt out of this counseling.  If the buyer still wants to buy a gun after the counseling, he or she would need to sign a form certifying that they are aware of the dangers of the use of firearms and that using them may cause lifelong emotional damage and sexual impotence to the user.

During the counseling session, the seller will show the buyer photographs of gun shot victims.  The victims will be shown with their heads blown off and their bellies eviscerated.  The emotional anguish of gunshot victims’ families will also be shown in visual and auditory form.  No compensatory images of poor hunters feeding their families will be permitted.  The audio and video portion of the presentation must be intrusive enough to be unavoidable to the prospective buyer.

After the presentation, the gun seller will read the consent form to the buyer again and ask the buyer to affirm that they are aware of all of the dangers associated with the purchase of a gun.  The seller will also be required to discuss alternatives to firearms, such as compound bows, boomerangs, snares and vegetarianism.  There will be an emphasis on vegetarianism to ensure that the teachings of certain religions are promoted with the acquiescence of the state.  Adherence to Hindu or other plant based religions would not be necessary for the buyer, only recognition and understanding of the deep ethical philosophy behind religious vegetarianism.

No exceptions would be made to save the health or life of the buyer.  Medical reasons for hunting, such as a prescribed Caveman Diet to prevent intestinal inflammation of a debilitating nature due to celiac disease, or the existence of a restraining order from a abusive spouse, would not be acceptable excuses for failing to attend the mandatory counseling session or meeting all of the other requirements before obtaining the gun.

There will be a mandatory 72 hour waiting period to give the buyer an opportunity to change his or her mind.

It would be illegal for the counseling to take place over the phone or the internet.

After the waiting period is complete, the buyer would be required to return to the gun dispensary for the mandatory rectal examination of the prostate with an ultrasound device.  The purpose of this examination is to determine the state of the prostate prior to gun purchase and to assure that the buyer understands the risk to his sexual health.  A similar examination will be made of a woman’s rectum for no good reason but if she is engaged in buying a gun, she has already given her consent to an anal probe.

After this examination, the gun buyer would be allowed to purchase the gun and go on his or her merry way, provided walking is still possible.

The above regulations would not be considered intrusive or burdensome to your 2nd amendment right to bear arms.

Two proposals for solving the gun problem

The issue appears to be how do we keep guns out of the hands of psychotic individuals, thus protecting our rights to see silly superhero movies at midnight in our costumes (because there is absolutely nothing wrong with this, Rocky Horror cultists have been doing it for decades without incident), while maintaining conservatives’ rights to arm themselves to the teeth for protection (against what, I don’t know, but they need them their guns).

Here is my first proposal:

1.) Since conservative states are so into profiling people for a.) being here illegally, b.) looking like an islamofascist terrorist or c.) walking and driving while black, they should be onboard with the idea of profiling people who appear to be buying a greater than average number of guns and ammo in a short period of time.  We’ve seen that a lot of these mass murders are committed by males who are relatively young.  I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some kind of brain development problem that leads to a transient psychotic episode for some individuals.  This episode may be exacerbated by propaganda, stress or isolation.  Someone with a better psych background than I have can jump in here but there does appear to be a pattern.  It seems like it should be possible to identify the parameters that should get our attention and develop a model.  Then, when a person who fits this model tries to buy additional guns, he should be asked to submit to an assessment of mental fitness.  Maybe an MMPI followed by analysis and a meeting with a mental health professional.  If the individual fails the assessment, he should be referred to a treatment center before he can get hold of a killing device.  This is fair to everyone, I think, especially for the person whose mental state is deteriorating.

How could a 2nd amendment fanboy possibly object to this?  Presumably, mass murderers getting their hands on enough artillery to kill a village ruins 2nd amendment rights for everyone.

But assuming there are states that do object, let’s go to proposal 2:

2.) Secede.

No, I’m not kidding.  The grown ups of the United States have been way too permissive about anti-tax freaks, ignorance in the science classroom and a 40 year old attack on reproductive rights.  The probability of more mass murders of innocent adults and children without even a minimum of effort to keep guns out of the hands of crazy people is really the last straw.  What we have are a bunch of southern states that are passive-aggressively still fighting the Civil War and a handful of western states that are full of anti-social rugged individualists who are acting like spoiled adolescents on a power trip.  I don’t think the rest of us should have to put up with this shit, frankly.

Clearly, what we have here is a strangled cry for independence and we need to learn to let go. Give them a time out.  Let them find out what it’s like to be their own country in the world. You know, patrol their own borders, negotiate their own trade deals, maintain their own infrastructure, support their own military, regulate their own economy and create their own justice system. The rest of the country has not given the south and the west an opportunity to grow up and mature.  We would be irresponsible if we didn’t allow them to find their own way in life and develop self-esteem by actually earning it.  They shouldn’t be able to coast in the world by throwing around the word American.  If they can’t be trusted to honor that word, let them find a new one to describe themselves.  Confederate was proposed a century and a half ago.  Ok, go with it but just Go!

We could give the reasonable people who live in these states incentives to relocate and then to the rest, sayonara.  Have a nice life.  Enjoy your unregulated assault weapons to your heart’s content.  The added benefit is that the more populated, modern and progressive states will finally have some input into politics for once.  PLUS, we northern states won’t have to send our hard earned taxes to fund the freeloader southern states’ welfare programs, like roads and bridges and basic government services.

I’m tired of being treated like a sucker by the conservative assholes from both parties who represent these states.  It’s time we got tough with these out of control brats.  Get them out of the union and concentrate the Americans who want to go forward into the future into a new America.  The strength of the social conservative in the this new American will be diluted and they’ll just have to go along for the ride in a country that has a stronger social welfare state, more regulation of banks and businesses and fewer guns in the hands of the disturbed.  It’s going to be tough for them to adjust to a fairer, more egalitarian, safer country but with therapy, provided by their government administered health insurance program, they’ll get over it quickly enough.

Conservatives have gone too far.  It’s time we put our foot down and tell them they can fight us all they want, they will not win.  If they don’t like it, there’s the door.  We are fed up with having to live with their selfish demands and their tantrums.  Let’s separate, file for divorce and get on with our lives.

The Breivik Connection: is this a copy cat killing?

Update: There are new facts about the shooter that make it sound like he could be following Breivik’s example.  These details are chilling.  At around midnight, his neighbors heard some very loud techno music coming from his apartment.  One of the downstairs neighbors went up to ask him to turn it down.  Here’s what happened:

Kaitlyn Fonzi, a 20-year-old biology student at University of Colorado Denver, lives in an apartment below Holmes.

Around midnight, Fonzi said she heard techno music blasting from Holmes apartment. She went upstairs and knocked on the door. When no one answered, she put her hand on the door knob and realized the door was unlocked.

Fonzi decided not to go inside the apartment.

The music turned off at almost exactly 1 a.m., Fonzi said.

Kaitlyn had a narrow escape last night because if she had entered that apartment, she would have been blown up.  The apartment is booby trapped.  The booby trap is so complicated that the police haven’t figured out how to disarm it yet.

In Breivik’s case, he preceded his shooting spree on the island by blowing up some government buildings in Oslo first.  Then, while the police were dealing with that, he went on to part two of his massacre at the teen retreat on Utoya.

James Holmes had a similar plan,  Play really loud music, lure the neighbor up to the apartment, leave the door ajar so the neighbor could trip the mechanism and blow up the building.  I have no idea what he used as explosives but science labs are full of all kinds of stuff and if you’re motivated enough, you can make your own.

While the police were supposed to be distracted by the explosion, he goes on a rampage in a crowded movie theater that people couldn’t get out of easily.  It sounds like it was stadium seating which would had made it like one of those carnival shooting games with the tiers of ducks.  Someone correct me if I’m wrong about this theater.

One other thing of interest: He started graduate school in June 2011 and it sounds like he was going through some kind of personality problem in his early 20s.  He was an honors student, Phi Beta Kappa, had a masters in neuroscience and couldn’t find a job. Holmes is by all accounts very intelligent but he was failing his comprehensive exams in the last year.

It may all be coincidence but the way both Breivik and Holmes carried out their massacres seem eerily similar and the timing is too convenient being only 2 days before the one year anniversary of Breivik’s massacre.

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

The similarities are striking. Guy dressed in a uniform, in this case camo, calmly walks into a closed area that is difficult to escape and opens fire on innocent young adults and children. The death toll might be low at this point but the number of injured, 59, is unreal.

The shooter has multiple weapons. He’s well prepared to take out as many people as he can. He’s cool and methodical. Afterwards, he waits for police and does not resist arrest.

And it all takes place two days short of the one year anniversary when Andrew Brevik did the same thing at a teen retreat on a tiny island in Norway.

I’m not typically the kind of person who freaks out about how we’re all going to die, but if one troubled person in a land full of guns gets the notion that this action will somehow prove something to the world, maybe it would be a good idea for theaters, summer camps and amusement parks to be extra vigilant this week end.

I’d love to be proven wrong, silly and crazy for even suggesting this, but you know, we live in interesting times.

Colorado

Update: guys? Has anyone else noticed that the Norway shootings happened almost exactly a year ago? This shooting was two days short of that anniversary. As in Norway, the targets were young people and children. Could this be a copy cat killing?

I blame myself for not being on top of the Colorado theater shooting. I was blissed out on photos of a vacation. But commenter Rangoon composed a comment about violence that I thought was worth posting. I hope he/she doesn’t mind.

As a geezer It’s hard for me to process the violence that is all all around us, some is called entertainment, some is called the war on terror, while this new lead story of violence brings our leaders together to call for America to “come together as a family”

From a 2008 review of the previous Batman film:

“But the greatest surprise of all – even for me, after eight years spent working as a film critic – has been the sustained level of intensely sadistic brutality throughout the film.”

Dark Knight 2008
the film begins with a heist carried out by men in sinister clown masks. As each clown completes a task, another shoots him point-blank in the head. The scene ends with a clown – The Joker – stuffing a bomb into a wounded bank employee’s mouth. After the murderous clown heist, things slip downhill. A man’s face is filleted by a knife, and another’s is burned half off. A man’s eye is slammed into a pencil. A bomb can be seen crudely stitched inside another man’s stomach, which subsequently explodes. A trussed-up man is bound to a chair and set alight atop a pile of banknotes. A plainly terrorised child is threatened at gunpoint by a man with a melted face. It is all intensely realistic.

“I [make a] distinction between violence which is clearly fantastical in origin, such as that in Harry Potter, and that which is realistic and sadistic in tone, such as that in The Dark Knight.
The former might well bother younger children afterwards, and even give them horrifying nightmares – scarcely desirable in itself – but the latter is more likely to taint their fundamental vision of the world and adult norms of behavior…”

“As we do when confronted by moments of darkness and challenge, we must now come together as one American family.
-Barack Obama

And speaking of “intensely sadistic brutality”-
“There has been a great increase in US strikes,” said Muhammad Nawaz, a tribal elder in North Waziristan. “The people feel terrorised because we hear the drones in the sky most of the time.
Few children attend school because they fear for their lives walking to and from their homes.
The tribal elders are afraid to gather together in jirgas, as had been our custom for more than a century. The mothers and wives plead with the men not to congregate together. They do not want to lose any more of their husbands, sons, brothers, and nephews. People in the same family now sleep apart because they do not want their togetherness to be viewed suspiciously through the eye of the drone. They do not want to become the next target… ”come together as a family?
“I saw my father about three hours before the drone strike killed him. News of the strike didn’t reach me until later, and I arrived at the location in the evening. When I got off the bus near the bazaar, I immediately saw flames in and around the station. The fires burned for two days straight. I went to where the jirga had been held. There were still people lying around injured. The tribal elders who had been killed could not be identified because there were body parts strewn about. The smell was awful. I just collected the pieces of flesh that I believed belonged to my father and placed them in a small coffin.”

———————
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/celebritynews/2461820/Our-attitude-to-violence-is-beyond-a-joke-as-new-Batman-film-The-Dark-Knight-shows.html

From: The Trembling Voices of Those Terrorized by America’s Drone Campaign
http://blogs.alternet.org/speakeasy/2012/05/31/silent-trembling-voices/

“As we do when confronted by moments of darkness and challenge, we must now come together as one American family.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/9414987/Denver-shooting-Obama-calls-for-unity.html

We are so lucky to have been born here and not some place where blowing people up is a commonplace occurance, and so stupid to fritter all of our hard work away by failing to keep guns out of the hands of troubled people.
Dear Colorado, we are keeping you in our thoughts.

Photo to art: Pick one

The perfect shot for a Royal Carribean ad but not for over the fireplace

Since I moved a painting to a better place in another room, I have a big gaping space above my fireplace that needs a piece of art, preferably in tones of blue or green.  I found this great idea at littlegreennotebook on how you can turn photos into art by having them blown up and then mounted on a piece of plywood.  Even I can do this.

So I went looking through my photos and found some that were taken when Brook and I took a Royal Carribean cruise a few years ago.  But I can’t decide which one to choose.  I can make changes with iPhoto and Snapseed if necessary, cropping, straightening, etc.  Take a look at the following pictures and vote for one in the poll below.

Pic1:

Pic2:

Pic3:

The background color of my wall is Simply White by Benjamin Moore and the fireplace is white painted brick with a white wood mantle. Everything else in the room is either white, pear green or dark wood with some blue pillows for something different.  I’m not going for a traditional look in my living room.  I want it to be clean lined, fresh and a bit modern.

Here are the cropped versions:

Pic1:

Pic1 (inverse crop):

Pic2:

Pic2 (inverse crop):

Pic3:

Pic3 (inverse crop):

This one is for Avedon Carol: 600 year old bras

Medieval bespoke soft linen twist front, no padding, size 32 B.

{{smirk}}

From HistoryExtra, which I think is the blog for the BBC History Magazine podcast (highly recommended), comes evidence that bras were originally medieval torture devices:

Lengberg Castle, first documented in 1190, was rebuilt into a representative palais in the 15th century by adding a second floor. During extensive reconstruction in July 2008, a vault filled with waste was found beneath the floorboards of a room on the second storey of the castle, where it was dumped during the 15th-century reconstruction.

Due to dry conditions in the vault the organic waste, mainly consisting of worked wood, leather (shoes) and textiles had been extremely well preserved, and four of the linen fragments resemble modern bras. The criterion is the presence of distinct cut cups – in contrast to antique Greek or Roman breast bands, simple strips of cloth or leather wound around the breasts and designed to flatten rather than enhance.

There are some written medieval sources on possible female breast support, but they are rather vague on the topic. Henri de Mondeville, surgeon to Philip the Fair of France and his successor Louis X, wrote in his Cyrurgia in 1312–20: “Some women… insert two bags in their dresses, adjusted to the breasts, fitting tight, and they put them [the breasts] into them [the bags] every morning and fasten them when possible with a matching band.”

These ‘bags’ served the same purpose as antique breast bands – that is to contain too large breasts. However, the “shirts with bags in which they put their breasts” that Konrad Stolle complained about in his chronicle of Thuringia and Erfurt in 1480 seem to have obtained the opposite effect, as he concludes his description with the words “all indecent”.

Forget the indecency of the “shirts with bags” attached, check out the matching string bikini panties.

What I want to know is did Maid Marian stuff her stretch lace underwires? It looks like they also made halter styles 600 years ago too. A little variety of discomfort for the ladies. Did they also have racerbacks and push-ups?  And now that Hillary has decided to go without makeup, will she dare to wear only a camisole under those pantsuits, setting another precedent for the rest of us? I only ask.

Anyway, I immediately thought of Avedon when I saw it.

Hope I scooped her on this one.  😉

Bank Wankers bear down on Ireland

A half dozen years ago, Ireland was the Celtic Tiger.  Remember the infamous Irish Sandwich? Corporations loved to do business in Ireland because the country had a ridiculously low corporate tax rate.  You know, that thing the “jahb creators” are always screaming about?  If we only let them pay next to nothing in taxes there would be jobs for everyone and we would all be rich beyond our wildest dreams, more prosperous than our father’s father’s father and able to support ourselves fully without any assistance from the government.

Compared to America, with its harsh and punitive corporate tax rate {{rolling eyes}}, Ireland must be heaven.  The rivers flow with milk and Jamisons, the economy flowers and ripens with boundless enthusiasm for the free market and children are all above average and women are handsome and it is bliss and, uh, what?

The International Monetary Fund has ordered the Irish government to slash dole payments, cut child benefit, and take the automatic right to a medical card away from old age pensioners.

The IMF also wants the government to introduce a hard hitting property tax as it seeks a return on its investment in Ireland.

The proposals have come from the IMF in a hard hitting directive ahead of the government’s December budget.

The IMF is currently bank rolling Ireland’s economic bail-out along with the European Union and their latest orders have been met with harsh criticism from opposition groups and trade unions.

IMF bosses, in Dublin for their regular review of the Irish economy, ordered the Government to cut high social welfare benefits to encourage people back to work.

They warned: “Dole payments are high by international standards and responsible for low exit rates from the Live Register.

“With the Irish economy to grow by just 0.5pc this year, certain welfare payments should be means-tested to avoid long-term unemployment.”

If you have any doubts about where the money men are headed here in America, look no further than the IMF asking old aged pensioners in Ireland to give up their Medicare.  It’s the IMF’s modern update of A Modest Proposal where if the old are going to die anyway, it would be decent of them to do it quickly.

I love the IMF.  It’s so full of optimism.  Like, an unemployed person in Ireland is just collecting money because the government is generous and if only the government would turn off the spigot, people would go back to work. I’m not sure how that’s supposed to work when there aren’t any jobs.  I suppose they will just have to figure something out or starve.

Oh, wait, they did that back in the 1840’s.  And how did that turn out?

You know, given Ireland’s history of mistreatment from the ruling class and its negligence of the people’s incalculable suffering, you’ve got to wonder why it is that the Irish don’t grow a spine and tell the IMF to take a hike.  Depressing Ireland’s economy is likely to make the situation worse. It’s not doing the country any favors.

So, to recap: banks make a lot of stupid bets, corporations get everything they wanted, ordinary people were encouraged to invest everything they had in a party they were assured would never end and a bunch wankers in London fixed interest rates that affected loans, pensions, municipalities and mortgages all around the world.  THEN when the bankers blew it all up, they got to the front of the line to get a gigantic handout from the rest of us.  This gift was bigger than the world had ever seen.  It pretty much wiped us all out.

Now, those same idiots would like for all of us who have lost our jobs, houses, pensions and everything else to stop whining, go get some non-existent job or starve (it doesn’t really matter which as long as we keep the noise down).  In the meantime, they will sit on the gigantic wads of cash we gave them and complain that the corporate interest rates are too high and too many people want them to get off some of that mountain of cash for the pensions they were promised.

Ireland is not Greece.  Greece acted like a spoiled heiress with all of the money it borrowed.  It spent lavishly and didn’t collect taxes.  Sure, it’s not fair to take it out on average Greeks, who now are facing a collapsing public and medical infrastructure, but you can kind of see why they’re in the mess they’re in.  But Ireland has been operating by the west’s free market playbook.  It wasn’t supposed to turn out like this.  The idea of bailing out out the banks and letting everyone else go under is the social welfare for the criminals who caused the problem in the first place. What Ireland needs is an infusion of good Viking women from Iceland to tell the wankers to go take a hike.

Why the ^*(% are we putting up with this s^(% from the assholes who blew up the world??  Why do we willingly starve ourselves so that the wealthy and well connected   experience no deprivation?  Why are we supposed to settle for vastly reduced wages and benefits while the people who stole our money are just sitting on it? Why is it more important to impost a rigid morality on the working person while allowing a more fungible morality for the rich? Answer me that Mr. Brooks.  We’re talking about Ireland here, a Catholic nation that doesn’t allow abortion and frowns on the types of behavior that you find irresponsible. What did the Irish do to deserve this? They let business have everything it ever wanted and this is how they are treated.  The airwaves are full of a constant stream of harsh, mean-spirited, punitive, selfish and religious propaganda that has turned us all into nations full of whip kissers.

Any politician who continues to shelter these immoral, dangerous, out of control bankers deserves to lose and that goes for the donkey party he rode in to town on as well.

I keep thinking that I can’t be surprised anymore by the way these people operate and yet, they confound me.  What will it take for us to pull the plug on the whole damn scheme?  What we need now is a hard reset.  Wipe it out.  Wipe it all out and start from scratch. We all start on a level playing field and the bankers get sent to the Cayman Islands where they can spend the rest of their lives worshipping their worthless money.

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

If you haven’t had a chance to see it yet, check out Jon Stewart’s run down of the LIBOR scandal from The Daily Show last night.  There’s no way to make this look good.

Ong namo guru dev namo (repeat)

Convergence: Social distance, Nuns and happiness

The Nuns on the Bus Tour

These three items go together:

First up, Chris Hayes talked to Jay Ackroyd on Virtually Speaking about his new book Twilight of the Elites.  Chris presents the idea of social distance, the tendency of privileged groups to become physically and socially isolated from people who do not share their educational backgrounds or higher incomes.  Chris has been speaking about his book at many venues, such as The New School where he discussed the flaws in the meritocratic system.  At one point, the moderator says that the social distancing phenomenon and meritocratic/cheating behavior hasn’t hit science yet.  I would strongly disagree.  Right now, we are witnessing the transfer of those values to science in an accelerated fashion.  And sometimes, when the change is sped up, the manner by which it is implemented is more obvious than if it were gradual and happened over many decades.

The second podcast comes from Fresh Air where Sister Pat Farrell, president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious talks about the investigation the Catholic Church conducted on her group, which represents roughly 80% of American nuns.  This is another opportunity to watch how social distancing works.  Sister Pat talks about how day to day contact with social and economic injustice has inspired compassion in many of her group’s members and has caused them to challenge whether the teachings of the church are consistent with their vocation.  The Catholic Church hierarchy, especially the bishops, do not confront these issues on a daily basis because they are more concerned with internal church affairs.

Terry Gross handled this interview with great sensitivity. She was our proxy and asked questions that many of us wonder. Like, why are the nuns still in a religion that treats them like second class citizens because they are women?  This interview is not to be missed and ranks right up there as one of Gross’s best. Like her, I was frustrated that their time was up.  There is so much more I want to know.  I found myself very sympathetic to the plight of these nuns.  Their group is about to lose its autonomy if they do not submit to church authority and conform to its teachings.  If you take a vow of obedience, to whom are you obedient?  An earthly authoritarian structure or your conscience?

The last thing is a musical mantra sung by Snatam Kaur.  This is a new addition to my musical library.  It’s not really my kind of thing.  I’m not religious and I think that nature is super enough to be amazing and wondrous without a personal diety. But it is so lovely that it’s a nice way to focus and relax.  It reminded me of the quote I recently saw from Robert Ingersoll:

“Happiness is the only good.
The place to be happy is here.
The time to be happy is now.
The way to be happy is to make others so”

This verse from Ong Namo is soothing:

Oh my beloved
Kindness of the heart
Breath of Life
I bow to you.

Charles Pierces Brooks

Oh, golly, it was soooo worth the wait:

Both Klein and Brooks have taken to the public prints to reassure Willard Romney — and, by proxy, all of the country’s Willard Romneys — that he is being treated so terribly unfairly, darling, by that man in the White House who plainly does not know his place. First, we have Brooks, who never saw a plutocrat for whom he wouldn’t happily serve as a footstool….

“Romney is going to have to define a vision of modern capitalism. He’s going to have to separate his vision from the scandals and excesses we’ve seen over the last few years. He needs to define the kind of capitalist he is and why the country needs his virtues. Let’s face it, he’s not a heroic entrepreneur. He’s an efficiency expert. It has been the business of his life to take companies that were mediocre and sclerotic and try to make them efficient and dynamic. It has been his job to be the corporate version of a personal trainer: take people who are puffy and self-indulgent and whip them into shape. That’s his selling point: rigor and productivity. If he can build a capitalist vision around that, he’ll thrive. If not, he’s a punching bag.”

All those steelworkers, and the people at that paper company, they were puffy and self-indulgent — and not hunks of iron-reinforced man-flesh like, you know, David Brooks — and that’s why none of them have jobs anymore. People at the business end of the “system” that so charms David Brooks over the canapes know the real score: The “scandals and excesses” are the system. Take them away, and Romney is clipping coupons back in Michigan.

But wait!   There’s more!

Pierce also takes on Joe Klein too.  It’s a twofer.  (Moral Hazard, alas, has decided to take a day off)

Bliss, sheer bliss.  I shall savor it slowly while I’m eating my lunch to make it last.