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    • What Protests in Lebanon, France, Chile and Ecuador Have In Common
      There’s some important events happening today: another Brexit vote, and the Canadian federal election (whose results are not obvious), but we won’t know how either of those end till later, so let’s discuss some popular protests of massive size. In France the protests were sparked by an increase in diesel taxes. The demands included an […]
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Why Ebola spread in Dallas: Americanism

Lorenzetti’s Allegory of Good Government, 1339

We’re number one.  That’s what we always tell each other.

We have the best health care in the world.

Our public safety institutions are number one in the world.

We  are the richest country in the world.

We are supremely over confident.

How many people know that when Dr. Kent Brantley and Nancy Writebol returned from Liberia with ebola that their care was paid for by Samaritan’s Purse?  I’ll bet a lot of us just assumed that the US government picked up the tab for the flight, biocontainment units, ZMapp doses and hospital stays.  Not so.  So, who is paying for the transport and treatment of Nina Pham and Amber Vinson?

Probably a few more of us have questioned whether money was behind the shoddy care that Mr. Duncan got in Texas.  I have.  I’m betting that his lack of insurance and status as a foreign national had a lot to do with why he wasn’t immediately isolated when he first came to the hospital and why he was left in the ER for hours, some nurses say days, before he was transferred to a critical care unit.

As for the best health care in the world, the nurses were very unprepared for ebola.  The biggest chunk of the blame goes to the hospital.  It’s a hospital for the middle class and those who can afford the best health care in the world.  That’s where people go to have their babies and bypass operations.  Maybe they didn’t associate their kind of hospital with an epidemic in a third world country.  Bad things happen to THOSE people over there in Africa.  Not their kind of people in Dallas.  At best, that’s a benign form of American narcissism.  We’re so used to having clean water and streets and good food.  So, why should the hospital get all Girl Scouty and be prepared for a situation that will never happen to it?  Training for such an eventuality takes time from nurses doing their duties and time is money.  It’s the American way.

The CDC seems to have vastly overestimated the outcomes of our educational institutions, especially our K-12 schools, where everyone should have a pretty good understanding as to where Liberia is.  But then again, Liberia was a state created by former American slaves in the 19th century and Texas is a state notorious for trying to rewrite the past when white Americans might have done bad stuff to anyone.  But still, don’t these ER intake people, nurses and doctors watch the news??  At least one nursing supervisor seems to have been on the ball and insisted on moving Mr. Duncan to an isolation unit instead of letting him shed viruses all over the ER but she was shot down by her administration.  Still, you’d think that a hospital so concerned with its reputation and profits would have been more proactive in limiting the damage that his presence was causing.  Not so, apparently.

And what was the hospital thinking when they gave antibiotics to Duncan when they hadn’t bothered to find out whether he  had a bacterial infection that required them?  Does Texas Health Presby Hospital routinely overprescribe antibiotics?  Is this a hospital or a student health center?

What were Republicans and Democrats thinking when they cut the budget for the CDC by 12% and the NIH by 20%?  Friedan said yesterday that $30 million was restored earlier this year in an “anomaly”.  How the hell are you supposed to prepare for emergencies if you never know what your budget is going to be from one year to the next?  We complain about administrators making decisions for our health care instead of physicians but our bigger problem is that we have politicians making decisions for our disease fighting institutions.  Should the CDC and NIH know in advance what diseases are going to become epidemic on some kind of 5 year plan and ask for the right budget money in advance?  Or are their functions compromised by their unreadiness brought on by this reckless political posturing?

And everyone, politicians, journalists and people who should know better, is under some mistaken belief that the private sector is going to step up and perform the tasks in research and disease prevention that the CDC and NIH were created to do.  But they’re too busy trying to reap profits for the shareholders to engage in such money sucking activities like research. Meanwhile, we underfund the NIH and CDC.  Is that so Republicans can point to what a sh*%%y job government does?  Are they paying no attention to how our scientific infrastructure is being dismantled in this country and concentrated on a few narrow therapeutic areas?  They are leaving a gap that no one is able to fill.

This may be the richest country in the world but the riches are hoarded by some pretty selfish individuals and we don’t seem to be able to get our act together to force them to give up their loot for the greater good.

A little ray of hope came through yesterday when I saw that some television content providers are breaking away from the package deals offered by cable companies to allow viewers ala carte channel selection.  That’s great because eventually I will no longer have to subsidize right wing propaganda from Fox News or be forced to pay for Fox to mislead unsuspecting American viewers.  I’m betting that a lot of like minded individuals across the country will drop Fox from their lineup the second they are able to do it.

But the damage may already be done.  The Senate may fall into Republican hands this November and in the next two years, the predators who have been stalking us since FDR got us out of the Great Depression will finally be able to finish us off.   The willfully ignorant elderly and angry white males will finally stick a fork in us, and allow the extremists to carelessly destroy Social Security, roll back women’s rights and plunge us back into recession with unrestrained austerity.  The only thing that will stand between the power extremists and us will be Barack Obama.  That right there is a very depressing scenario.  But maybe he will have the courage to stand aside when we finally pick up our torches and pitchforks.

We have been living a myth of our greatness.  We’ve been in denial about how government works.  We have told ourselves lies about how we can “starve the beast” that once made our country a formidable force of good around the world.

I’m only glad that the ebola crisis here will be under control before the next session of Congress begins and before the gung-ho, American exceptionalists who take over show us just how unexceptional we are to the hunters who prey on the young, old, and weak.

Section from Lorenzetti’s Effects of Bad Government, 1339

 

More speculation and budget numbers at Angry Bear Blog.

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What’s in my Instapaper queue?

It’s getting crowded in the Instapaper queue.  Time to clean it out.  This is what I’ve found interesting lately:

1.) The Dragons of Inaction is a 2011 paper from the journal American Psychologist listing the reasons behind the resistance to climate change claims.  As you may expect, resistance can be grouped into ideological and non-ideological causes.  One of the most interesting causes is mistrust.  We should expect that the people most likely to benefit from climate change denialism will play on trust issues in their target audience.  The conclusion section is light on recommendations but I thought it would be a good exercise to learn how the Fox News crew might put this information to use.

2.) An Ominous Health Care Ruling is the latest editorial by the NYTimes on the two Obamacare rulings yesterday regarding subsidies.  The editorial board is remarkably frank, given its boosterism for the ACA:

The 2-to-1 decision issued by the panel hinged on how to interpret language in the Affordable Care Act that most experts agree was poorly drafted and would ordinarily have been corrected by a Congressional conference committee. In this instance, there was no conference committee because the law was passed on a take-it-or-leave-it vote in the House to avoid a Republican filibuster in the Senate.

But then it reverts to form at the end by stating that regardless of what Congress did or didn’t do by rushing the bill through, the judiciary has a responsibility to not use ideology as an excuse to take subsidies away.  IMHO, the ACA perfectly demonstrates my former advanced inorganic chemistry prof’s saying, “If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?” In other words, we are all potentially screwed by the effects of this bad legislation until Congress decides to do it over the right way.  When it has time.  And when it also has the rare astronomical convergence of a filibuster proof majority in the Senate, a majority in the House and a president in the White House who, you know, actually gives a crap.  Maybe some time next century. Maybe that was the plan.

3.) In A $650Million Donation to Psychiatric Research, we find research into the causes and a cure for bipolar disease funded by a billionaire with deep pockets who also has a son afflicted with the condition.  It’s great for people with bipolar spectrum disorder but not so great in that it takes a private person to fund it.  The reason so many pharmaceutical companies are pulling out of psychiatric research is that it’s incredibly expensive and there is an extra hurdle to jump when it comes to the brain.  It’s called the blood brain barrier and it gives drug designers and medicinal chemists fits because only compounds with certain physical properties can cross this barrier and they are devilishly hard to make and get approved.  So, you know, there’s not so much profit in it for Big Pharma.  And now we have to rely on billionaires with a personal stake.  {{sigh}}

By the way, the recipient of this largess, the Broad Institute in Cambridge, MA, is primarily a computational biology outfit.  That will be very useful for tracking down the genetic causes and systems biology associated with bipolar spectrum disorder and schizophrenia but biologists don’t make the drugs.  That’s what medicinal chemists, structural biologists and drug designers are trained to do.  It will be curious to see going forward whether the Broad Instituts recruits more of these specialties or decides to farm them out.  Farming it out would be a mistake, I think, since project teams need to see the same material and work on it together.  On the other hand, if Broad doesn’t mind hiring modelers remotely, I am available.  😉

4.) The Atlantic posted an article on The Dark Side of Emotional Intelligence.  In short, being acutely attuned to the emotional states of everyone around you might be great for salespeople but it sucks for people working in professions that require concentration and contemplation.  For the latter group, paying attention and kissing up to the people around you is a distraction.  The resulting effects on the working environment of those people expected to play the EQ game when they don’t have time for it are predictable. From the study cited in the article:

Cote’s team assessed how often the employees deliberately undermined their colleagues. The employees who engaged in the most harmful behaviors were Machiavellians with high emotional intelligence. They used their emotional skills to demean and embarrass their peers for personal gain.

Seen that happen with my own eyes.  Depressing but all too common, especially in the uber-competitive environments engineered by biz school grads and propagated throughout the industries they manage.

5.) The website, Ask the Headhunter, has a video for those of you who can’t get through the HR filters that you are required to navigate to apply for jobs.  If you are lucky enough to already have a job and haven’t been through this exercise in futility, it goes something like this: You see a job on a website for which you are (probably over)qualified and are directed to the company’s HR application system.  Then you spend hours per application uploading your resume and then reformatting it (god knows why the reformatting step is necessary but the OCR never gets it right.  Besides, didn’t you just upload a copy of your resume??).  Anyway, after you have edited and reformatted and written a brilliant cover letter telling the company all of the reasons why you would be more than perfect for the job, you never hear from them again.  Oh, sometimes you’ll get a form generated reply saying they received your information.

The truth is, there are filters that are set to weed people out and nobody knows what they are.  In some cases, the HR filter is set so unproductively that most applicants who qualify never make it to the resume review round.  That may be why so many employers whine they can’t get good help anymore.  If they would only hire people who could reset the filters for them they might get better candidates.  But to do that, they’d have to reset the filters themselves in the beginning and that takes vigilance, time and probably one FTE. It’s a vicious circle. Nick Corcodilos says to scrap the resume and don’t bother going through the HR application process.  The best way to get a job is to hang around people in your field or the area that you want to get into, and make connections.  In other words, you need to be a human with a face because HR filters do a lousy job of staffing and are probably not worth your time.

6.) Alistair McCauley reviewed the current production of the Bolshoi’s Swan Lake at Lincoln Center.  It’s not pretty but it is a fun read:

At the start of every dance, my heart would lift again, noting some marvelous feature of Bolshoi style. The communicative generosity of manner! The thick-cream legato flow and keen dynamic sense! The juicy red-meat richness of texture! The unaffectedly erect posture of the torsos and their gorgeous pliancy! The easy amplitude of line! The powerful sweep through space! Yet nothing availed. Each dance soon grew monotonous.

I can’t remember, is McCauley the critic who thinks all ballerinas could stand to lose a little weight?  Anyway, I’m not a fan of companies with a lugubrious ballet style.  Give me something livelier, and, er, probably not Swan Lake.

7.) I. Must. Have. This. Desk from CB2.  I am confident that my life and blogging will be improved by it.

And a heads up to you IKEA fans.  The 2015 Catalog is supposed to hit the interwebs tomorrow.  I can hardly wait!

8.) Finally, I am on the third part of the longest Audible book I have ever “read”.  It’s The Last Lion, a biography of Winston Churchill.  It’s excellent and probably more detailed than any biography has a right to be.  Highly recommended.  5 sponges.

So, I ran across a page on some of his predictions and inventions.  For example, did you know that Winston invented the tank and the onesie?  Ok, maybe not his finest hour.  But he was a great futurist.  Check it out.

The funny thing is, Churchill was never a great student but he had a formidable intellect.  He was definitely not Ivy League material in the most 2014 sense of the word.  That would have been a great loss for England if our current standards of performance were in effect then.  He might have ended up writing Op/Eds for WaPo and gone no further in life.

And here are a few Winston quotes for good measure:

“If you’re going through hell, keep going.” (Sound familiar?)

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”

“If you have an important point to make, don’t try to be subtle or clever. Use a pile driver. Hit the point once. Then come back and hit it again. Then hit it a third time – a tremendous whack.”

“It is no use saying, ‘We are doing our best.’ You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary.”

“The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.”

He made his share of mistakes and was on the wrong side of history as far as women’s suffrage was concerned (they turned out for him anyway).  He failed many times but he learned from his failures and he never surrendered.  Cool dude and an honest guy.  We need someone like him right now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday: Power Wash

It’s a nice day, the kid is available, why not power wash the house? That’s what’s on the menu today. I’m headed off to the rental place to pick the washer up. Fun, fun.

In the meantime, remember a couple weeks ago when I wrote that Pfizer was a poster child for The Strategy of No Strategy and that the pension fund would start looking like a target soon?

Gettin’ closer. Pfizer announced on Thursday that they were ending their pension plan. Yep, everyone will now be transitioned to a 401K. Isn’t that special? It looks like people with pensions in companies that were acquired may be safe (please, please, please) but, you know, who knows at this point. The change in the pension plan will affect people who will be turning 55 in about the year 2018. Unfortunately, I know a number of Pfizer employees who may be affected by that and can only imagine how thrilled they are at this news after the cruel amount of stress they’ve been through in the past 4 years.

So, to recap, for scientists living in America but not some parts of Europe:

  • Pharmageddon continues at a steady pace, throwing many, many scientists out of work, perhaps permanently.
  • The only jobs we can get pay a LOT less. You don’t even want to know.
  • Benefits are few to non-existent.
  • Job-hopping and instability is now “expected”. You may have to leave your family behind. Better yet, don’t have a family.
  • You might end up working for a CRO where your input in projects is restricted to task oriented, boring procedures all day, like widget making. No more creativity or learning will be necessary after all those hard science courses.
  • You probably won’t be getting that pension you were counting on after 2 decades of work.
  • If you want health insurance for yourself and your family, you’ll have to pay through the nose for it from your vastly reduced salary at a CRO.
  • Your 401K is tanking- again. But THIS time, because you are out of work, there won’t be any build-back.
  • You are slowly being turned into an “entrepreneur” without any of the benefits. No group insurance rates, no labor protections, no reasonable business loans, and the costs of starting your own pharma, with all of it’s associated risks, are astronomical and suicidal. If you haven’t asked yourself whether all of the entrepreneur talk politicians keep touting will eventually lead to abuse and exploitation of workers without protections, now’s the time to think it over.
  • And finally, the morons in Congress whose skinny necks you would like to wring right now are blithely and capriciously talking about significantly reducing the only retirement option left to you- Social Security. (BTW, see Charles Pierce’s destruction of David Brooks this week. Very satisfying. I strongly suggest David Brooks stay out of central New Jersey because there are a lot of unemployed cancer researchers who he finds indistinguishable from Maury Povitch trailer trash who would like to rip the face off of people like him- metaphorically, of course.)

You know those elected people in Washington? Yeah, I hate those people. I knew the bastards would be putting the screws to us before the election to make people panic and agree to anything. But I never thought they could be this clueless, savage or viciously cruel. I’m not afraid but I am extremely angry at both parties. And, Yes, I know one party is much worse than the other but it hardly makes a difference which party is the worst when both have now crossed the threshold to the dark side. That leaves the vast majority of us without representation but still paying taxes, unemployed or not. And taxation without representation fueled the last revolution.

We are living in a kleptocracy and Democrats did not try hard enough to keep it from happening. Everything you’ve ever worked for your entire life can be stolen from you piece by piece. Your career, your patents, your house, your pensions, your retirement nest egg and all of those extra taxes you paid into a Social Security plan. Promises can be broken, you could get screwed and end up dying poor and no one is held accountable.

Yep, what Washington, DC needs is a good power wash, on the inside.

P.S.- Working people who vote Republican because of social issues should have their heads examined.

‘gits
****************************************
One more thing: according to a new book by James Mann, Hillary Clinton and Timothy Geithner didn’t get along at the beginning of the Obama administration. Geithner was muscling Clinton aside when it came to dealing with China. It seems that Geithner wanted the Treasury department to be in charge of foreign policy with China and to concentrate solely on economics. Clinton wanted to address more than economic matters and wasn’t going to yield on China. There was a standoff and Clinton won. But she was overruled on the issue of ambassador appointments. Why is that significant? It’s because the ambassador that Obama appointed to China is none other than former Republican presidential candidate and wealthy chemical company scion Jon Huntsman. Yep, read it and weep, labrats. The guy that Obama appointed to China at a time when our jobs were hemorrhaging there was none other than a Republican chemical company guy who speaks Mandarin.

No wonder this administration doesn’t give a royal F#%* about the destruction of our American research industry. It was the plan all along. Right, Mr. Geithner? You guys did nothing to slow things down. In fact, you went out of your way to make it easier for our companies to relocate to Shanghai.

So, let’s review: the people who really didn’t get along with Tim Geithner were all women. They were Sheila Bair, Elizabeth Warren, Christina Romer and Hillary Clinton. I’m sure there are others but any woman who stands up to Geithner and disagrees with him is ok by me. All of these women proposed policies that were ignored by Geithner and the White House but would later turn out to be right. In every case, Geithner had the upper hand except in his interactions with Hillary, where she had a victory on overall policy with China but didn’t get to pick the ambassadors.

And we’re still not at war with Iran.

It’s amazing how so many Democratic party activists got it so wrong. I wonder how that happened, given that they supposedly do not fall for political mind tricks and propaganda…

Peeing in a cup for UI benefits

I’m not sure politicians are getting it.  Some of us have been laid off multiple times and others just can’t find a job.  It’s not like we’re passing the dutchy around because we have nothing better to do.  Nevertheless, Congress is determined to cut our benefits and test our pee for illegal substances:

The duration of federal jobless benefits — which generally kick in after 26 weeks of state-provided benefits run out — was reduced to a maximum of 73 weeks in high-unemployment states and 63 weeks in average states, compared with as much as 99 weeks currently. That’s better than the 59 weeks that Republicans had called for, but it is still stingy at a time when there are 5.5 million people who have been unemployed for more than 27 weeks.

Democrats successfully blocked Republican demands to impose uncalled-for conditions on applicants for jobless benefits, including drug testing and requiring them to be high school graduates or working toward an equivalency degree. (A fig leaf requires applicants to be drug-tested if they lost their job because of a failed drug test or if they are seeking a job that generally requires a drug test.)

I believe the NYTimes is calling this a good compromise.  I guess it’s because none of them have to be drug tested like some low life junky who can’t hold down a job because they’re high all of the time.  We’re supposed to be grateful that they are only requiring this of people who lost their jobs because of previous drug use.  But we know what they’re really thinking.  They’re thinking that they just want to be mean and make our lives even more miserable, lowering our morale and assaulting our dignity.

Yes, I can hardly wait until we chemists and biologists, pharmacologists and engineers have to go down to the unemployment office to take a pee in front of some officer of the law.  Just a couple of years ago, we looked like nice, polite middle class men and women, driving our Dodge Caravans and Toyota Priuses to work and back.  But once we got that pink slip, we shed our labcoats and became wild and crazy fiends.  Sex fiends too.  We just can’t get enough.  And we listen to Def Leopard and Pink Floyd all day long.  (I’m dating myself, aren’t I?  Must consult number 1 child to see what the debauched are doing these days)

Come on, Congress, drug testing?  Really?  We’re drug designers and chemists.  We could whip up a batch of something that you haven’t made illegal yet that will make meth look like baby aspirin. Can we please be serious?  What a phenomenal waste of money.  Money, I might add, that would be better used to extend the UI benefits.  I’m not worried- yet.  But reducing the bennies at a time when COBRA is already eating up half of a month’s benefit is not especially compassionate.  How about NOT making us pee in a cup and give us the same consideration as the previous 99-ers?  Or would that interfere with the maximum pain that you intend to inflict just before the election?

Is that the plan?  Everyone pointing fingers?  The Democrats will be whining, “Don’t look at us, we didn’t cut your bennies and make you pee in a cup”, while the Republicans will have another temper tantrum, shrieking, “If Barack Obama and the Democrats had only cut the deficit, we wouldn’t have to apply these thumb screws, gouge out your eyes and put you on the rack.  By the way, we’re going to bill you for the screws, racks and icepicks”.

Hey!  I have an idea!  Let’s vote all of them out and once they’re all unemployed, let’s make them pee in a cup, have them tested for AIDS (*I* passed, will you?), make them wear ankle bracelets and phone their mothers before they go anywhere, do a background check on all of their friends and make them attend mandatory counseling where they will have to acknowledge their addiction to doing stupid things followed by making amends to all of the scientists and other innocent working people they have insulted and whose lives and careers have been ruined while their elected officials played mean-spirited political games.

I can hardly wait.

Thursday: Just get it done

Just Get It Done!

Those of us who live in the corporate world by day are coming to the slow realization that getting anything done in the era of outsourcing is becoming next to impossible.  The functions we once depended on are now being performed by mysterious outside groups who offer an off the shelf service that is not tailored to our specific needs or are so hobbled by the need to keep information secret that they can’t help us without contacting an inside third party or complicated by the redirection to new training requirements that must take place before we are able to perform an operation that used to take seconds but will now take hours.  We are scolded by snippy business types who can not possibly fathom why the people in R&D have not wasted hours and hours of our time to master the arcane minutiae and non-intuitive “user” interfaces for their business units, as if there were no other task more important.  Contractors are former employees hired back at vastly reduced salaries with concomittantly vastly reduced incentive for extending themselves even one nanometer outside of the tortured definition of services to help us with our problem or are disembodied voices with southern accents (I’m guessing Georgia) who do not make the effort to contact us at home during Christmas break to tell us our credit card info in our personal profiles (that THEY entered) is incorrect and the flight we thought we booked is now $800 over budget.  (Thank you very much, Billy Bob)

So much for cost saving measures.  Look guys, we don’t have time for this crap.  Just get it done.

The same goes for Congress.  I am getting tired trying to figure out what version of Kabuki theatre we are playing today.  Are the Republicans going to spend the next two years on focus grouped cultural issues because they know their base voters are senior citizens on limited incomes who watch Fox, are not employed and grew up in an era when women’s lives were constricted, gays were still in the closet and communities were as homogenous as vanilla milkshakes or are they going to block any measure to help regular Americans get back to work so they can blame Obama for the poor economy in 2012? (I’m guessing both)  Are the Democrats going let Republicans hang themselves and concede every mean spirited measure to them so Republicans can take the blame in 2012?  Is anyone going to step up and take responsibility for anything or are they are in it together to force some shock doctrine austerity plan on us so that the small evil group without any national fealty to whom they report doesn’t have to cough up any more money of their own?

In case you weren’t paying attention to the voters in 2006, 2008, 2010, we are losing our patience.  That doesn’t mean we are all panicking.  It means we don’t have time for this crap.  It makes us peevish and unpredictable. If you panic us, you may get something you did not expect. But don’t think we aren’t paying attention to who is doing what to whom.  We see the faux drama and we see the results and we are not amused.  You congresspersons are supposed to report to US, the citizens of the United States, not Dubai or the Caymen Islands.  Quit screwing around and get it done.

In the news:

The readers of the Washington Post were paying attention yesterday when the Post put up a poll asking readers to rate issues they wanted the new Congress to tackle and “jobs” was not among them.  Nor were several other issues like bringing the financial industry to heel or fixing the mortgage crisis.  You know, stuff that the average hard working American, who does not live in the swank suburbs around the beltway, actually cares about.  Eventually, in response to the pages and pages of comments in protest, WaPo relented and added Jobs but did not reset the poll results so the numbers were skewed.  The Republican talking points continued to nest at the top.  Way to go, guys.  “Non scientific poll” indeed.

Obama is replacing Rahm Emannuel with William Daley, who is currently employed by J. P. Morgan Chase.  Because having Rahm beating up the left on a daily basis wasn’t enough?  I only ask.

{{sigh}}

Natasha Chart pointed me in the direction of this American Prospect post that in turn refers me to an article in the Atlantic about how the wealthy see the rest of us wage slaves.  (Hmmm, Global Elites should really be issued their own passports identifying them as not citizens of any country and therefore not entitled to any country’s protections.  Sounds like a fair deal to me in exchange for disenheriting American children born to illegal housekeepers and landscapers.)  This gels with the other study referenced in the New York Times titled “The Rich Lack Empathy” (and water is wet)  about how rich people are less empathic people because they don’t have to be.  In other words, if you’re a working class bloke, you have to be nicer to people to get them to do things for you.  Business units might keep that in mind next time they need the inventors to come up with some get rich quick product.

Speaking of inventorship, I sympathize with Peter Daou and James Boyce in their suit against Arianna Huffington over the genesis of the HuffingtonPost.  You have no idea how hard it is to get on a patent when a chemist who uses your ideas wants it all to himself like some spoiled child clutching his toy screaming, “MINE!, MINE!, MINE!”  Then there’s the documentation and lab notebooks and powerpoint slides and time stamps and endless meetings with lawyers.  Been there, done that.  For what it’s worth, I’m siding with Boyce and Daou on this one.  In my best, “I am not a lawyer” mode, I find argument that the pieces that were proposed and assembled were not unique or innovative to be specious.  The functional groups on a new drug entity are also not unique.  They occur in nature, er, naturally.  It is how they are put together and whether they solve a problem not previously addressed that makes them new creations.  I think we can all agree that HuffPo filled a need that did not previously exist on the left.  Well, some may argue that it *still* doesn’t serve that need but it is without a doubt a huge success and if it didn’t have this quasi libertarian Clinton Derangement Syndrome side effect, probably not intended by its creators, it would be a great addition to the left blogosphere.

But what can you expect from Arianna Huffington, whose former husband spent a king’s ransom for a senate seat he did not win?  I would have graciously cut Boyce and Daou in for a share of the immense wealth the site has generated. It must really burn their oatmeal that Breitbart is taking credit.   Even a token million or two would have been sufficient.  It’s a way to say, “Thank You”.  But then, I am an empathic working class person, not Arianna Huffington, who only kisses the asses of the people wealthier than her.

Podcast for the day: Melvyn Bragg of In Our Time has a two part series on the Industrial Revolution.  These podcasts are frequently entertaining when Bragg impatiently tells his guests to get to the point.  I think part 2, Consequences of the Industrial Revolution, is more relevant to our present day events as Bragg and his guests discuss the impact of the industrial revolution on society in general and tease out why it is so important for industrialists that religion remain the “opiate of the masses”.  Stick with it.  There’s some meaty goodness there.

And now, for something completely beautiful.  Anaheim Ballet has a youtube channel where they showcase the elegance coupled with strength of ballet.  Here’s a video of athletic loveliness.

 

 

 

Tuesday: It’s official. Obama gave the country to the bankers

img_0073He had a choice.  He could have upheld the Constitution with all of the pretty language on promoting the General Welfare or he could take the easy way out and let the private investors have taxpayer funded sweetheart deals to bail out the bankers.  The bankers come out of this relateively unscathed.  The private equity firms profit no matter which way the markets go.  YOU work until you’re 85 or dead, whichever comes first, provided you can find work.  You can hear the gory details in yesterday’s podcast from Planet Money.  No matter how you slice it the taxpayers get left holding the bag.

The only thing left to do is figure out what to do about this.  The Tea Party idea might be good if it weren’t populated by so many Malkinites who think the real problem is government spending on taxpayers, who you would *think* actually deserve to profit from their hard work.  But that’s not the Republican way.  No, the Republican way is to make you think that the people below you are the problem.  It’s always the pecking order for them.

But what about Democrats?  What’s the difference between Democrats and Republicans these days?  Last year, the party traded in its guiding principles for Republican Lite.  Barack Obama is definitely pro-“money class”.  He’s proven that now by Geithner’s plan where the only people to benefit already have money.  We can rage against Congress but they are feckless.  They pretend to care whether billions of taxpayer dollars go to save the lifestyles of the rich and finance.  But where are they where pensions are concerned?  What about our 401K retirement accounts that we were all forced to take instead of a pension?  What about the giant Ponzi scheme?  If Congress doesn’t back up their diatribes with action to rein in the bankers and hold them accountable for the mess they’ve made, we might as well be voting for Republicans.

Meanwhile, the left seems paralyzed.  Those of us who would rally the troops are trying to keep our jobs.  Those on the left who sold out to Obamamania last year seem like bewildered children who discovered something nasty about their parents.  They just can’t believe it.  But it’s worse than that.  Obama has effectively neutralized the left with the left’s help.  His campaign attacked it from within and made it helpless.

A couple of days ago, I stumbled on this interview of Margaret Atwood on Bill Moyer’s Journal.  The topic was religion and government but she could be talking about any group that seeks power for its own sake.  The last five minutes of the interview is the relevant part:

This is something we recognized early on: *WE*, the liberals of the left, were Obama’s opposition because we were supposed to be the closest to him ideologically.  He had to either co-opt us or discredit us and Voile!, no one on the left could stand in his way.  That’s how the PUMAs and others like us became the old, uneducated, working class, menopausal females because who wants to sit at that lunch table?  That’s why we were called racists because we supported the person who was the real progressive, the real change agent.  That’s why we became the “Old Coalition”, as Donna Brazile called us.  We were the heretics of a new religion.  The question is, what do we do about it?  Because if we do not reconstitute the left, all that remains is the right.


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