Archive for the 'Society' Category

The good 1% and the bad 1%

I send my compliments to Mark Suster on Putting Tom Perkins Comments into Context.

Perkins opened his Wall Street Journal letter Progressive Kristallnacht Coming? with the headline:

I would call attention to the parallels of Nazi Germany to its war on its “one percent,” namely its Jews, to the progressive war on the American one percent, namely the ‘rich.’

Really?

Boorish entitlement has never worked, at least not in public.  It never ceases to amaze me that many well educated successful people can stoop to third grade name calling and be so insular and oblivious to the rest of the world.

Suster, a self-professed one percenter himself, called the letter insensitive and tone deaf.  That’s far too mild.  He did a terrific job on his comprehensive post.  So I’ll skip further pontification and just recommend you click on his link above.

The Russian Tea Party

Not to gloss over the titled intent of the article Understanding Russia’s homophobia, the most interesting part for me was the history lesson on Russian culture and how similar it is to the U.S.  You could have changed countries and names and easily been reading about our version of ultra-nationalists, including American exceptionalism, ruling oligarchs and corporatists, conservatives, Tea Party, fundamental Christians, NeoNazis, and old white men (and some women) still pining for the fantasy of the “Good Old Days”.  It was only two years ago that our own national homophobia was still institutionalized.   Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.   Case in point, as documented in the piece – fancypants liberals from Russia – or the US – spouting French.

The Civil War anew: U.S. economic slavery 150 years later

The New York Times commemorates the Civil War’s 150th anniversary with an ongoing series called Disunion.  The closed patriarchy of slaveowners clashed with the freedom and opportunity of the West.  The article Mitchel Thompson’s War documents the strong support for the war in the Union Midwest.

Slave ownership made for bad economics …

[F]uture governor Richard Ogilvy told how, as a young laborer in Kentucky, he could charge only $6 a month, lest he lose out to slave labor, which could be rented out at $75 a year.

… and bad culture.

Rev. Charles Beecher  said the question was not “ whether black men are forever to be slaves, but whether the sons of Puritans are to become slaves themselves.”

The country was growing up and recognizing the externalities of an unjust and imbalanced socioeconomic system.

Northwest Illinois farmers’ mantra became “free territories, free homesteads, and protection to free labor.”

Is it any different today as billionaire industrialists have created their own plantations of wealth, often squirreled overseas to save every last penny … where their enterprises are too big to fail … their jobs are guaranteed with golden parachutes … their adverse actions have no consequences?   Their money has bought the political power to increase their holdings at the expense of the rest of the country.  They’ve destroyed the middle class, weakened the social network, gutted job security, increased poverty, and cheapened life for those who are not privileged.

150 years ago:

[A] new Republican Party alliance was struck between Western free farmers and Eastern industrialists.

Where is the alliance, Republican or otherwise, that will break today’s slavery?

When will the technology and innovation industries meet their social obligations and join with the people to make the US great again?

Bad news on climate change

We know global warming has been unprecedented in the past several hundred years. A new report  from Oregon State and Harvard researchers goes much further back, reconstructing temperature over the past 11,300 years, from the time almost of the last ice age.   It’s not a pretty sight.

Current temps (so far) aren’t ahistorical.  It was this warm for a long period that extended from five to ten thousand years ago (the Early Holocene).  What’s shocking is the speed of warming.  The warmup from the ice age to the Early Holocene took about 2,000 years.  Thanks to human industry it just took 50 years with no end in sight.

Commentary in the New York Times is here and here.  The abstract from the research follows.

Surface temperature reconstructions of the past 1500 years suggest that recent warming is unprecedented in that time. Here we provide a broader perspective by reconstructing regional and global temperature anomalies for the past 11,300 years from 73 globally distributed records. Early Holocene (10,000 to 5000 years ago) warmth is followed by ~0.7°C cooling through the middle to late Holocene (<5000 years ago), culminating in the coolest temperatures of the Holocene during the Little Ice Age, about 200 years ago. This cooling is largely associated with ~2°C change in the North Atlantic. Current global temperatures of the past decade have not yet exceeded peak interglacial values but are warmer than during ~75% of the Holocene temperature history. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change model projections for 2100 exceed the full distribution of Holocene temperature under all plausible greenhouse gas emission scenarios.

Balance, not Bluster: Free market ideology is anti-science

Research from the University of Western Australia sheds light on the irrationality of extremism, typified by the far right of the Republican party in the U.S.

The data is from a survey called  NASA faked the moon landing|Therefore (Climate) Science is a Hoax: An Anatomy of the Motivated Rejection of Science. While the study finds support for crank magnetism (if you believe in one anti-science theory, you believe in others), it found an even greater correlation with free market ideology where believers rejected science from humans causing climate change to smoking causing lung cancer and HIV causing AIDS.

Science Blogs has excellent commentary at More data on why people reject science.

The survey unfortunately doesn’t break down free market ideology.  The free market is a proven part of modern economics.  But it’s just one cog in a strong and healthy civilization. A strict belief that elevates the free market at the expense of the other pillars of society is a fundamental part of what caused the global recession and the breakdown of the middle class in the U.S.

Of course if you are one such believer you’ll reject this piece of science as well.  Please continue on to the next blog on fairies, unicorns, little green men, the drug war, universal forces that take an interest in your personal affairs, and  the salvation (i.e. continuing destruction) of America through greed and anarchy.

A real gun license

Gail Collins writes in Arms and the Duck in the New York Times:

[I]t’s only in movies that people are good shots during a violent encounter. In 2008, Al Baker reported in The Times that the accuracy rate for New York City officers firing in the line of duty was 34 percent.

And these are people trained for this kind of crisis. The moral is that if a lunatic starts shooting, you will not be made safer if your fellow average citizens are carrying concealed weapons.

I’ve been kickboxing for ten years.  I’m a muscular macho guy in great shape.  When I began sparring I had the false confidence of the pro-gun crowd, as well as the oil rig workers in Collins’ article, and got creamed.  I could barely last one round.

The first lesson any fighter must learn is to conquer your fear.  A combat situation is fundamentally different from any exercise, class, or simulation, including shooting at defenseless animals.  It’s biologically impossible to keep your wits about you.   The natural adrenaline rush is conducive to running, not effective fighting … not thinking … and absolutely not firing a gun. Be very afraid of those with concealed guns.

Now if you really have to have a License to Kill, there should be a way to qualify where you’re trained and have proven you can be effective under extreme pressure.  Perhaps a Marines Boot Camp.  With copious live and accurate return fire. That ought to cull the herd.

Texas, not so great

No, the United States is not the greatest country in the world and Texas is not the greatest state.  I’m sorry.  You’ll just have to leave your ranch, take down that orange U of Texas flag, and join the rest of us in reality.

I’ll leave the first to Aaron Sorkin and just handle Texas … Texas where we proudly executed a retarded man and ignored the U.S. Supreme Court, and wallow in the bottom with states like Mississippi when it comes to health care.

Execution

Of Mice And Men: The Execution of Marvin Wilson
By Andrew Cohen, The Atlantic
Aug 8 2012

How the State of Texas blew off a Supreme Court decision so it could execute a mentally retarded man.

At 6:26 p.m local time last night, an hour or so after the last appeal was denied, Texas executed a mentally retarded black man named Marvin Wilson, a man who could not handle money or navigate a phone book, a man who sucked his thumb and could not always tell the difference between left and right, a man who, as a child, could not match his socks, tie his shoes or button his clothes, a 54-year-old man with an IQ of 61. …

Health Care

Texas is the #1 state with the highest medically uninsured residents and was rated among the 10 worst US States for Women’s Health from Health.com.

Texas ranked dead last in the percentage of women receiving first-trimester prenatal care in 2006 (just 62%, versus 89% in Massachusetts), and the percentage of women with health insurance (31% had no coverage in 2008-2009, compared to 5% of women in Massachusetts and 20% in the U.S. overall).

Women in the Lone Star state had the third-highest rate of chlamydia infections (12% in 2010, up from 9% in 2007). Nationwide, the chlamydia rate was 7% in 2010, compared to 3% in West Virginia, the state with the lowest infection rate.

 


Join 2,306 other followers

Twitter Updates


%d bloggers like this: