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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita 1

 A Straw Dog

In the middle of the journey of our life...

Some would find it hard to believe that "middle" would apply to my situation, and I should write something like "bucket-list time" - to use a favorite description of the present age; "bucket-list"... the expression just drips a tedious lack of lively creativity.
Might as well say something about paying cash for some agricultural acreage, and smile about buying the farm.

I have not posted much over the past two weeks.
I am bored.

I do not read the news anymore. I had stopped watching or listening to it years ago. One can't write about the foibles of the time if one does not acquaint oneself with said foibles.
I can be assured, however, that the process towards a fully weaponized society will continue, and unhappy groups, sad scads, and weepy heaps of kids and adults will continue to be gunned down by psychopaths and/or their own family members as we struggle to accomodate our vision to the new reality.

I think along the lines that my life started in the revolution of Rutherford, Einstein, Bohr, Compton, Hahn, Meitner, Lawrence, Seaborg, and Robert Oppenheimer, eventuating in the atomic bomb, then continued through the great engineering feats of myriads minds leading to the journey to the Moon in 1969, and then reached a ante-climax in 2008, with its foretaste of disaster.

I spend a lot of time with my mother, trying to get her house ready to sell, finding her a new place nearby, maintaining her summer place. My wife assists. The rest of the family is not close by, or they are physically incapable of helping. In some situations, they are spiritually or mentally incapable of helping.
It is the perfect background for a Stephen King story about pent up resentment and poltergeists. However, as Lao Tse held and Sam Peckipah believed, heaven and earth regard mankind as nothing but straw tied to look like dogs and to be jettisoned into the fire of sacrifice.

Over many years my mother and I were not close; hardly even friendly.

My daughter was allergic to dogs and my mother used to have at least two. My daughter could not go to Christmas at Grandma's. She could not attend Thanksgiving over the river and through the woods to Grannie's.
In the summer, she could only stay outisde at my parents' summer place. Obviously, she could not spend the night.
Everyone said how sad it all was.
Very sad.

No one ever got rid of the animals. They died off in their own time. Even now, a certain family member brings dogs to the summer cottage. Over Memorial Day weekend they were present, both aged, both gasping for breath in an appalling manner which was an argument in itself for euthanasia.
One has numerous tumors, rheumatism, and incontinence.
They have a right to life, but they have no right to share my space.
We played second-fiddle to animals for our entire married lives.

Perhaps my analogy with Dante goes even further than I had thought.

The point is I am beginning to have a relationship with my mother. My father passed last year, so that is very different.
One month before he died, he was determined that certain changes be made to my parents' trust and that they had established for my brother who is disabled. No details are available from me, but my burdens are increased thereby. That is enough to say.

So they trust me. I am a trustworthy and simple soul. I am merely a difficult person to be with; totally different stuff.

My mother enjoys the time we are together, because we interact as equals, and we don't take any prisoners. Nobody else has such a relationship with her.
I suppose it would be even nicer if she did not chatter on quite so much, but I have discovered that she does not expect an answer to what she is musing out loud about.

I think we will be going to the ear doctor together soon to get our hearing tested. People have indicated a need exists. She seems resigned to it if I also am hard of hearing. However, I absolutely refuse to spend vast sums of money - $3,000 or more! - on hearing devices that buzz, whirr, chirp, and gobble up expensive batteries!

I intend to use a modified ear trumpet. To fill out the appearance, I shall ditch the spectacles and adopt a lorgnette, fastidiously emulating Des Esseintes, the aesthete and recluse anti-hero of Huysman's A Rebours!

à bas l'epoque actuelle...


Friday, May 23, 2014

Got Virtue?

So I was arguing with some fellow about ethics and violence:  he said that true Christianity necessarily includes the command to "turn the other cheek" after all and sundry offenses.

I stated that the passage of the New T. in question states that when struck on one cheek, we turn the other, but leaves silent what to do if the abominable cheek-striker also hits the second proffered cheek.
I said that this passage was all about the first response, and nothing subsequent to that.

When confronted, let your first response be the peaceful response. Things being what they are, the majority of people would respond well to the peaceful response; they would let their anger subside, and there would probably be no escalation.

Beyond this, however, it may be time to kick tukhes.

The way I understand it, the cheek-turning could be interpreted as a strategy at the very beginning of a confrontation, which if successfully done, could avert conflict.
However, once this fails, we are in the realm of Virtue.

Whatever we do should be formed by our upbringing in Virtue - our reaction after our first peaceful response is rejected should be in accord with what we understand Virtue requires of us.

Virtue has a duality.
It has an eye on the Holy and morality, but is also has an eye on our humanity - "virtue" being derived from Latin "vir" meaning "man", and usually "man" with some notion of strength, not just generic "man", which would be "homo".

Within that duality we act out our morality play about violence and peace.

Pity the guys and dolls who skipped school the day Virtue was being taught, however.


Sunday, May 18, 2014

The End Of An Era

J. Robert Oppenheimer

It is the end of an era, not the nuclear era - unfortunately - for nukes are still around, but it is the end of a time, a small saeculum (a period of time) whose beginnings we can just feel and who ending is slipping by us unnoticed.

 Niels Bohr

HADES searches for dark matter
May 12, 2014
Although Dark Energy and Dark Matter appear to constitute over 95 percent of the universe, nobody knows of which particles they are made up. Astrophysicists now crossed one potential Dark Matter candidate – the Dark Photon or U boson – off the list in top position. This is the result of recent HADES experiments, where researchers from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) and from 17 other European institutes try to pin down the nature of Dark Matter. These negative results – recently published in Physics Letters B – could even lead to challenges of the Standard Model of particle physics.


While evidences for the Higgs boson were found recently at CERN, the Standard Model looks now complete when supplemented by some neutrino masses, and nothing else seems to be needed to understand the wealth of atomic, sub-nuclear and particle physics phenomena. Nevertheless, Dark Matter appears not to be explained by any of the constituents of the Standard Model. This status of the affair has initiated worldwide efforts to search for Dark Matter candidates.

Albert Einstein
Up to now the search for such a signal of a U boson as a candidate for Dark Matter has remained unsuccessful. Together with many other searches for the other candidates of Dark Matter the situations becomes more and more intricate. Cosmology on precision level requires the existence of Dark Matter; however, the various experiments have not found any positive hint. The negative results on the U boson by HADES and other experiments make the hunt for new physics beyond the Standard Model more challenging.


The HADES collaboration has accumulated more than ten billion analyzable events during the last years. The notion "events" means that in collisions of energetic protons with target protons or atomic nuclei or in collisions of atomic nuclei with target nuclei, among other final-state particles, an electron-positron pair could occur. Sources of these pairs are, e.g., unstable hadrons being transiently produced in these collisions. The highly sophisticated apparatus HADES has the capability to select out of a huge background of other particles such electron-positron pairs which can be attributed to primary sources.

 Peter Higgs

Something terrifically new is in the air.
The Ptolemaic Dark Matter quest will come to a timely end, and... something new.


Angry Matthew

 People Whose Job Is Memorizing Books

Matthew 6:

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?

31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.

33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

And this brings us to The Angry Bear on Automation and Jobs and the very, very near future:

Eighty percent of current jobs may be replaced by automation in the next several decades.

Steve Roth | May 18, 2014 11:46 am
That’s the conclusion of Stuart W. Elliott in his recent paper, “Anticipating a Luddite Revival.” (Hat tip: RobotEconomics.)

We’ve seen that scale of transformation before. But this one promises to be roughly four times as fast, dwarfing Luddite-era concerns:

…the portion of the workforce employed in agriculture shifted from roughly 80% to just a few percent. However, in the shift out of agriculture, the transformation took place over a century and a half, not several decades.

But there’s a much bigger difference this time — a hard limit that time can’t ameliorate:

...The level 6 anchoring tasks in Table 2 are not only difficult for IT and robotics systems to carry out, but they are also difficult for many people to carry out. We do not know how successful the nation can be in trying to prepare everyone in the labor force for jobs that require these higher skill levels. It is hard to imagine, for example, that most of the labor force will move into jobs in health care, education, science, engineering, and law.

I’ve said it before: the median IQ is 100, by definition. Fifty percent of people are below that level. We (and they) are facing a hard cognitive limit that the Luddites never approached. I don’t think anybody reading (or writing) this post can appreciate how hard it would be to make a go of it in today’s technological society — even get through high school, much less provide a healthy, happy, financially secure life for one’s family — with an IQ of 80 or 90.

Are people who aren’t born smart lacking in “merit”? That’s what meritocrats are claiming. (Though they will vociferously defend themselves, deploying endless arguments both specious and obfuscatory.) If you’re in the low-IQ group (and don’t inherit), your miserable position in life is fixed at birth. Get over it.

Currently, work is the only way for the majority of people to legitimately claim any significant share of our remarkable prosperity. (Social-support programs provide a pretty insignificant and tenuous, insecure claim that’s not generally viewed as legitimate, only unfortunately necessary.)

If those folks 1. can’t find jobs that they can do, and 2. receive negligible claims on our prosperity if they are lucky enough to find one of the few remaining, we’re facing a world of haves and have-nots. Sound familiar?


One fundamental belief has to change: that finding and doing a job is the only thing that gives you any claim on a decent life. Because for many, jobs that provide decent claims simply aren’t there, or won’t be soon. (Likewise the belief that rebalancing your financial portfolio annually — doing the arduous, taxing work of “allocating resources” — is extremely meritorious and gives you a just claim on an outsized share of our collective prosperity.)

Horses faced exactly this situation in the first industrial revolution. They could never learn to drive tractors and trains.

I’ll be the first to say that people aren’t horses. Which gives rise to the ugly next thought:

They shoot horses, don’t they?


Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Liars Avoid Gorky Park (Парк Горького)

Mike Rogers (R.) of Michigan:
Will Betray Your Freedom For Radio Job

From The Guardian:

Everyone should know just how much the government lied to defend the NSA

A web of deception has finally been untangled: the Justice Department got the US supreme court to dismiss a case that could have curtailed the NSA's dragnet. Why?
If you blinked this week, you might have missed the news: two Senators accused the Justice Department of lying about NSA warrantless surveillance to the US supreme court last year, and those falsehoods all but ensured that mass spying on Americans would continue. But hardly anyone seems to care – least of all those who lied and who should have already come forward with the truth.

Here's what happened: just before Edward Snowden became a household name, the ACLU argued before the supreme court that the Fisa Amendments Act – one of the two main laws used by the NSA to conduct mass surveillance – was unconstitutional.

In a sharply divided opinion, the supreme court ruled, 5-4, that the case should be dismissed because the plaintiffs didn't have "standing" – in other words, that the ACLU couldn't prove with near-certainty that their clients, which included journalists and human rights advocates, were targets of surveillance, so they couldn't challenge the law. As the New York Times noted this week, the court relied on two claims by the Justice Department to support their ruling: 1) that the NSA would only get the content of Americans' communications without a warrant when they are targeting a foreigner abroad for surveillance, and 2) that the Justice Department would notify criminal defendants who have been spied on under the Fisa Amendments Act, so there exists some way to challenge the law in court.

It turns out that neither of those statements were true – but it took Snowden's historic whistleblowing to prove it...

And the ex-FBI agent Representative Mike Rogers of Michigan, who heads the House Intelligence Committee, would never have done anything. He's leaving Congress to become a radio personality. That's a step forward for everyone. We do not need leaders like him.

A Betrayer gets rewards, and Snowden sits in Gorky Park.


H.R. 2847

I have seen a number of advertisements about the coming collapse of the US Dollar on July 1, 2014, when House Resolution 2847 takes effect.

It is also the FATCA, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, and it targets non-compliance of US taxpayers using foreign accounts.

It can be viewed as a part of "currency controls", which constitute part of a scheme of financial repression, which is the only politically acceptable way politicians will deal with the debt.

No particular harbinger of catastrophe. If you think it is, send me $50 for my catastrophe newsletter.


MotorCity ComicCon 2014

I went to the MotorCity ComicCon at the Novi Suburban Selection Showplace (whatever that means!) yesterday.

I looked at comix, books, geegaws, toys, clothes, and some costumes. Saturday is CosDay, so there will be more today. Yesterday, about 15% were in cos.
I never realized how short skirts are in cos. Kilts remain standard length - whew! - and I saw one on a bloke who had a bumper sign that read "This is a kilt. If I were wearing something beneath, it would be a skirt!"

I was most impressed by the use of the subjunctive "were" instead of the usual "was" or even the more usual and frequent  "wuz".

I think everyone should attend a ComicCon wearing. Next year, I shall be wearing.
Wearing what, though, is the question.

She-who-must-be-obeyed suggested we do Little Lulu (by Marge). That sounded OK. Only I am not tubby enough to be Tubby. And my grey Wolverine beard would make for a strange Lulu.

So if we do Lulu, I shall be McNabbem, the truant officer. I shall probably have to have a button or card on the lapel saying "Truant Officer", since McNabbem is not a figure of general knowledge. However, that is to my advantage, too, since McNabbem is a bit rotund.
I could be Mr. Gruffly, the principal, or Mr. Tompkins, Tubby's paterfamilias.


Cuba's Black Hole

The Spaceship USS Cygnus in The Black Hole

If you have never seen the film The Black Hole, I shall let Wikipedia synopsize it for you:
The Black Hole is a 1979 American science fiction film directed by Gary Nelson for Walt Disney Productions...

Nearing the end of a long mission exploring deep space, the spacecraft USS Palomino is returning to Earth...

The Palomino crew discover a black hole in space with a spaceship nearby, somehow defying the hole's massive gravitational pull. The ship is identified as the long-lost USS Cygnus... The Palomino...  manages to move back to the Cygnus and finds itself able to dock to what initially appears to be an abandoned vessel.

The Palomino crew warily boards the Cygnus and soon encounter the ship's commander, Dr. Hans Reinhardt, a brilliant scientist. Aided by a crew of faceless, black-robed android drones and his sinister looking robot Maximilian, Reinhardt explains that he has lived all alone on the Cygnus for years....

 Dr. Reinhardt and his Robot, Maximilian

Reinhardt then reveals that he has spent the past 20 years studying the black hole and intends to fly the Cygnus through it...

The rest of the Palomino crew grow suspicious of the faceless drones' human-like behaviour: [one of the Palomino crew] sees a [drone] limping and [another] witnesses a [drone] funeral and discovers the Cygnus crew's personal items in the ship's living quarters...  a battered early model robot... explains that the faceless drones are in fact the human crew, who mutinied when Reinhardt refused to return to Earth and had been lobotomized and "reprogrammed" by Reinhardt to serve him...

 Dr. Reinhardt's "Drones"

When I first saw the film, I thought the drones were zombie-like creatures, who although dead, were kept functioning in some ghastly  science-techno-"there are things man was not meant to know"- manner,  which would have made the film even more gross. Not to say the film was entirely disturbing: Slim Pickens did the voice of the loveable little good robot, and there was an uncommon mixture of horror and slapstick.

Now we turn to this:

Al Jazeera America
A US judge has ordered the military to stop force-feeding a hunger-striking prisoner at Guantanamo Bay naval base.
The temporary order, issued on Friday by Judge Gladys Kessler, means that staff at the facility cannot feed Syrian prisoner Abu Wa'el Dhiab until a hearing next Wednesday.
"While the Department follows the law and only applies enteral feeding in order to preserve life, we will, of course, comply with the judge's order here," Defense Department spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Todd Breasseale said in response to the ruling.
Kessler also ordered the US military to stop taking Dhiab out his cell if he refused to go to feedings and said the government had to keep all videotape evidence of forcible cell removal and force-feeding until the hearing.
It is the first time a judge has ordered an end to force-feeding of a prisoner in Guantanamo...

It seems to me that the government does not know what to do with the people in Guantanamo, yet will not part with them, nor put them on trial.

It will not even let them die.

Perhaps we can look forward to zombie drones in Gitmo in the near future.


The Rabbi Deconstructs

It finally became clear that Deconstruction is Midrash.

And Creation is the exegesis of the Holy.


Deadpool States: Saw VII - The North Dakota Car Wash

Al Jazeera America

At night North Dakota glows almost as brightly as Chicago as gas from more than 9,000 wells is just burned off, NASA satellite photos show. A third of the natural gas gets wasted this way, according to Ceres, a nonprofit that tracks the environmental records of companies. If companies are willing to waste $1.2 billion of natural gas per year, imagine the calculus on job safety.

Oil-field work, while inherently dangerous, need not result in nearly as many deaths as North Dakota reports. The problem is that state legislators have enacted laws that place a low value on human life. That value is so low that it makes no economic sense for employers to invest in worker safety. In North Dakota, preventing accidents costs much more than paying off the families of dead workers.

Here are the facts. The one-time death benefit for workers killed on the job in North Dakota: $1,200. If the worker has dependent children, that payment goes up by $400 per child. The state also covers documented funeral expenses, but only up to $6,500.

Those rates of payment may have been appropriate in 1919, when North Dakota’s workers’ compensation law first took effect. But in 2014 they are worse than heartless — they are an incentive to avoid investing in equipment and practices that will reduce worker deaths.


But the best single indicator of callous disregard for human life shown by North Dakota lawmakers is the benefit authorized for orphans, a maximum of $15 per week. You read that right — 15 bucks a week.
At current staffing, it would take federal job safety inspectors 111 years to inspect every job site in North Dakota.

That strikes me as a form of state-sanctioned child abuse that every child advocate, every member of the clergy, every moral leader in North Dakota should denounce daily until it is replaced by a payment schedule that reflects the needs of orphans, not the greed of those who donate to political campaigns.


Years ago I interviewed Joshua Zimmerman, who was 15 years old and working at Valley Dairy Car Wash in Grand Forks when his arm was ripped off by an industrial-size cloth-drying machine that was being used without a door.

The North Dakota workers’ compensation program held that the teenager was entitled to nothing for the loss of his arm despite the fact that the machine had been used for months without safeguards and a manager had been warned about the risks. Josh told me he never got a dime...

We have freedom.
We can behave like Andy Hardy and his pristine family, or we can behave like monsters.

However, when the government supports the monstrous, then the scales are tipped and the game is rigged for the outcomes of a future of Saw, Hostel, and The Walking Dead.


Friday, May 16, 2014

Freighter In Aspic

 Oeuf en Gelee - Egg in Aspic (with parsley)

Some of the freighters were still at anchor in lower Lake Huron Tuesday past. Some had left, ostensibly to their now ice-free destinations.
On Mothers' Day, my brother looked at a GPS display of 15 vessels at anchor using a ship tracking site. Although there was no ice in the lower lake, those freighters were held by ice as sure as larks' tongues in aspic.

I rose early Tuesday and looked out at the lake. The lights of the one vessel I could see were bright.

I remembered all the films I ever saw about ships, ghost ships, haunted ships, great ocean liners, ancient triremes.
I thought of Oliver Platt and Stanley Tucci singing Skokiaan in The Impostors.
I dreamed of grim, icy enclaves where small groups huddled together against the cold and terror: John Carpenter's The Thing, Ian Holm and Adrian Lester in The Day After Tomorrow, the blog of the British Antarctic Expedition, the story of the intrepid Robert Falcon Scott and his crew...

The lights were mostly in a line following the far away boat deck, and it was a line such as Orion's Belt, and it filled me with promises of the future and threats of the future.

Mostly it reminded me of the day I was backing down the driveway on my way to the store. The moon was up early that day. I glanced at it and thought it looked large. Then  my sight zoomed in on it, and it filled the horizon, and I was on my way to the spaceport...
and I was taking a trip to the moon as if it were an everyday affair...
and freedom! I could taste the freedom! For there was the Moon and Mars beyond, Mars where the dispossessed of Earth were granted asylum:  people from Uganda, from Palestine, from Bahrain...

Now I remember the film Melancholia, and realize that the Moon fills that sky where we sit within a naked and bare wikiup awaiting the unfolding.


Beat! Beat! Drums!

 Holocaust's unholy hold
The deeper we are stuck in our Auschwitz past, the more difficult it becomes to be free of it.
 By Avraham Burg 
 November 16, 2008,0,4227786.story
 ...The Shoah is so pervasive that a study conducted a few years ago in a Tel Aviv school for teachers found that more than 90% of those questioned view it as the most important experience of Jewish history. That means it is more important than the creation of the world, the exodus from Egypt, the delivering of the Torah on Mt. Sinai, the ruin of both Holy Temples, the exile, the birth of Zionism, the founding of the state or the 1967 Six-Day War...  

...I voluntarily withdrew from political life in Israel. I couldn't help feeling that Israel has become a kingdom lacking in vision and without a prophetic horizon. On the surface, everything is in order; decisions are carried out, life moves on, the ship sails along. But where is this movement heading? No one knows. The sailors are rowing without seeing anything; the lower-ranking officers are holding their eyes up to the leadership, but the leaders are not capable of seeing past each coming, rising, tumbling wave...

  ...utopian vision has fallen silent in Israel. Concerns for personal survival and well-being, as well as fear about the ongoing bloodshed and security emergencies, about Gaza and Iran and the realities of demographics and population, have silenced the moral debate and blocked the horizons of vision and creative thinking. I believe Israel must move away from trauma to trust, that we must abandon the "everything is Auschwitz" mentality and substitute for it an impulse toward liberty and democracy...  

The Past as a Mutual Panopticon Prison, wherein the Past imprisons the Present, the Present imprisons the Past, and both imprison the Future.

Time is growing short everywhere: Israel, the USA, Russia, the Ukraine, China, Vietnam.
There is an unholy gigantic drum and there are years between percussions.
The drums are beginning to beat again.
Beat! beat! drums!—blow! bugles! blow!
Through the windows—through doors—burst like a ruthless force,
Into the solemn church, and scatter the congregation,
Into the school where the scholar is studying,
Leave not the bridegroom quiet—no happiness must he have now with his bride,
Nor the peaceful farmer any peace, ploughing his field or gathering his grain,
So fierce you whirr and pound you drums—so shrill you bugles blow.
Walt Whitman

reprint from 2008

Setting The Bar

Old-Timey Police Commissioner

Town's white police official calls Obama N-word
WOLFEBORO, N.H. (AP) — A police commissioner in a predominantly white New Hampshire town says he won't apologize for calling President Barack Obama the N-word, and he sat with his arms crossed while angry residents at a meeting called for his resignation on Thursday.

Wolfeboro Police Commissioner Robert Copeland, who's 82 and white, has acknowledged in an email to his fellow police commissioners he used the racial slur in describing Obama.

Town resident Jane O'Toole, who moved to Wolfeboro four months ago, said she overheard Copeland say the slur at a restaurant in March and wrote to the town manager about it. Copeland, in an email to her, acknowledged using the slur in referring to the president and said he will not apologize.

"I believe I did use the 'N' word in reference to the current occupant of the Whitehouse," Copeland said in the email to his fellow police commissioners, part of which he forwarded to O'Toole. "For this, I do not apologize — he meets and exceeds my criteria for such." ...
 "He meets and exceeds my criteria for such."
I like the pretense at rational evaluation, which is exactly how such people disguise their racism: a pretense of rational evaluation of capital punishment, of crime statistics, of popular music; the list is almost endless.

Of course, my mother will say that the poor guy is 82 - two years older than Donald Sterling - and comes from a different generation. I usually ask her, "Do you mean a racist generation?", and she agrees, although she does state that she herself was not.
In her case, I believe it true, for she is an unusual person. Genetics. Her mother was very unusual.

The smug face of Racism masquerading as Homespun Wisdom of the Aged is an image that reminds me of the last stages of cancer, the hidden guest of the body politic becomes death triumphant.

I refer to the police commissioner as a slimey old coot; he meets and exceeds my criteria for such.


Thursday, May 15, 2014

In Which We Think Ourselves Gods

Mr. Sasse's Concept of Celestial Choirs and Bands

The Raw Story:

According to ThinkProgress, the winner of Tuesday’s Republican primary in Nebraska believes that the United States “cannot force citizens to violate their religious beliefs under any circumstance.”

Republican “rising star” Ben Sasse is predicted to win the Senate seat being vacated by Republican Mike Johanns in November by a wide margin, as Nebraska is a solid red state. On his official campaign website, Sasse claims that he “believes that our right to the free exercise of religion is co-equal to our right to life. This is not a negotiable issue. Government cannot force citizens to violate their religious beliefs under any circumstances. He will fight for the right of all Americans to act in accordance with their conscience.” ...

"He will fight for the right..."?

I can just see God humming "From the Halls of Montezu-u-ma to the shores of Tripoli, humty-num-tum."

Mr. Sasse does not know the distinction between himself and God. That is usually a bad sign.

Notice that Mr. Sasse is referred to as a "rising star"...  perhaps a "light bearer"?


Bayna Yaday Allahi

Mr. Redogan of Turkey

Between the hands of Allah; our lives are between the holy hands.

You would think that Mr. Redogan, the PM of Turkey would know that, especially since he has traded politically upon Islam, and often been seen as imperiling the secularism of Turkey as set up by Kemal Ataturk in the 1920s.
You would think Mr. Redogan would be aware of the twists and turns of fate as we wish it to be versus what it is veiled from our sight within the folds of what is as yet unfolded.

Los Angeles Times:
As public fury mounted Thursday along with the casualty toll in what officials were describing as Turkey’s deadliest mine accident, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan found himself on the defensive in the wake of a seemingly tone-deaf response to the disaster.

The number of confirmed dead rose to 282, the state-run Anatolia news agency reported, citing Energy Minister Taner Yildiz. Outside the town of Soma in western Turkey, the families of miners still missing kept a grief-suffused vigil, even as prospects dimmed for finding any survivors.


The disaster cast a spotlight on harsh and dangerous working conditions endured by miners in Turkey, and raised troubling questions as to whether cozy relationships between mine owners and the government had quashed stricter safety standards. Two weeks ago, Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party, known by its Turkish initials AKP, had rejected calls for a parliamentary probe of safety practices in the Soma mines.

"Two weeks".

That is how quickly one can go from the summit of pride to the abyss of harsh reality.

Irony, eh, Mr. Redogan?


Starving In The Midst Of Plenty

 The Old Rugged Bridge

Los Angeles Times

Without quick action by Congress, the U.S. Transportation Department may begin scaling back or halting work on thousands of roads, bridges and other infrastructure projects at the height of the construction season this July, when the nation's Highway Trust Fund is expected to run dry...
"Quick action"? Did you say "quick action"?
The way Congress acts, it makes me think that they have read the biblical quote as a mutually exclusive choice: the quick or the dead, you may have one, but not the other.
They have often chosen the dead and moribund road to the future.

There is so much money and wealth, yet there is so little available to re-build roads, lower the national debt, fund social programs, etc., etc., etc.
Many people seem to believe that projects such as Keystone will do miracles, but they strike me as akin to "9 day wonders", and their effect is soon swamped by the general depression of the state of the society.

The roads around here are incredibly bad after the winter.
We have to change normal routes which went directly to our destinations into maze-like twistings and turning to avoid the pot-hole swamps that infest the area.

Part of the history of the USA is the great history of building roads and connecting markets and getting goods and commerce around the country and around the globe. If we cannot support it, we are criminally stupid, and we will merit to opprobrium of our grandchildren and their offspring.


Sunday, May 11, 2014

Running And Groups


A good paper on moral agency of Groups.

Group Persons Without Tears

I’ll be giving this paper at the department workshop here...
(click on the phrase "...this paper...")

How do Groups differ from Crowds? I suppose, Groups have some sort of formal structure, while Crowds possess an ad hoc structure of a set of chaotic possibilities.

Oh, Running...
I ran 3 1/2 miles this morn, which was 1 mile warming up, 1 1/2 miles at 6 1/4 mph (no short breaks!) and 1 mile at intermittent bursts mixed with dragging my sore whatever around.

Not bad for Noah's crow.


Thursday, May 08, 2014

All Benefit At No Cost


Wastewater disposal may trigger quakes at a greater distance than previously thought
San Francisco CA (SPX) May 08, 2014
...According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), an average rate of 100 earthquakes per year above a magnitude 3.0 occurred in the three years from 2010-2012, compared with an average rate of 21 events per year observed from 1967-2000...

Once again we see the acute inability to forecast the downside costs; just as in the Keystone Pipeline, just as in Exxon Valdez, the list goes on.
There is even no attempt on the part of Industry at a Bayesian probability analysis of the social costs. Politicians do not even know what "probability" means.

This is why the Keystone Pipeline is:

1) assured 100% of having numerous leaks, and

2) when they happen, adequate remedial measures will not be in place, and

3) clean-up will be a cost borne by the taxpayers, effectively a tax on their cheap energy.


Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Love Is...

 A Darwish Dancing In Meditation

Love is an ability of beings, not a need.
We do not need to love; rather we are possessed of a great and urgent ability to love.
Since love gives and reciprocates, since it is a two-way street, our ability to love leads immediately to our receiving love.

If someone needs love, then it is almost certain that that person is not giving love, either.

Love is an ability, and we exercise it.

When we speak of God having a need to love humanity, that is incorrect. The divine ability to love is great, and to exist, it requires the correct type of world: a world with humanity.
The ability to love is not a need to love; rather when the setting is right, it is an overwhelming outflow of love, and the river of love is so great and powerful, we think that it had been dammed up somewhere and needed to be let loose.
Without humanity, all creation would be drab and mournful.


Ships At Anchor

 NOAA Ice Cover On The Great Lakes

My mother has been looking north for a month or so and wondering what those "salties" (ocean sailing vessels) were doing anchored just north of the Blue Water Bridge at the very southern end of Lake Huron. I have seen ships at anchor before, so I did not think much about it.
When I finally began to think about it, I could not figure out why they were there. I did not even know if they were the same ships, or whether some went their way, only to be replaced by new laggards.

I even let myself imagine that they were waiting for dock space in Goderich, Ontario, which is the only possible port in the immediate 60 mile radius taht might have large tonnages being exported. Since Goderich was mostly shipping salt, it made sense at a different time of year, not after winter, but I needed an explanation, so I gave the Goderich explanation its day in the sun.

My mother and I like such analytical speculations.
The notion of going to the Internet is quite impossible, since she is dead set against computers, judging them a scheme to steal her ID.
She also cancelled the newspaper, which had become a 16 page expense of little interest other than local ads for sales.

We drove up the lakeshore and counted 14 ships.

It turns out that these ships are waiting for the ice to clear from their destinations on the Great Lakes. Some have been waiting for a month. New ones arrive and drop anchor. They may be headed to ports of lesser size and importance and cannot get an icebreaker escort.
If I had paid attention, I could have gotten a couple of large pontoon scows and provided victuals and wet goods. Some of the ships have run out of coffee, and have had their larders replenished.

I do not remember such a long wait for ice to clear.

I think this winter was colder for a longer time than any previously, even though the Coast Guard says that the winter of 1979 had more ice cover. They do speculate that this year's will take longer to dissipate, estimating the ice to be in the lake until June.

Duluth News Tribune
Will Lake Superior still have ice in June?
By Mike Creger on May 1, 2014 at 3:03 p.m.
Ice continues to be a problem on the lake, especially around the Duluth and Superior entries after the wind-whipped storm earlier this week shoved ice in.

Mark Dobson, a vessel traffic manager at the Soo Locks, said ice had loosened across the Great Lakes and ships were moving, only to be stalled by the gale warnings. On Tuesday, several upbound ships waited in Whitefish Bay, next to Isle Royale or other calm points.

“The ice is getting sparse, especially after the storm blew through,” Dobson said. He said the wind was a setback for traffic “but might be a blessing” in clearing locked-in ice. “Every day is another improvement.”

Ships are still being escorted with ice breakers on Superior, so the clump of those seen coming into Duluth on Wednesday will likely be repeated in coming days. Nine upbound ships were just north of Whitefish Bay on Wednesday afternoon, headed to ports west.

The pickup in traffic pleases Glen Nekvasil, vice president of the Lake Carriers’ Association. Shipments on Superior, the home of five iron ore ports and vital coal links, were sparse in April.

“It’s pretty obvious it’s going to be significantly reduced,” Nekvasil said of the expected monthly tonnage report he files.

He groans about a poster ship for the slow season dealing with braking ice: an ore carrier that left the North Shore March 23 and didn’t make its delivery until April 23. Lakers usually can make four trips in 30 days under clear sailing, Nekvasil said.

“This is the worst,” he said, recalling past benchmarks for ice and slow seasons in 1976 and 1994, a year when cutters broke ice until May 18. Not having access to the ports at Thunder Bay, Duluth, Superior and along the North Shore has a huge effect on the whole of the Great Lakes commerce. Steel mills have had to idle or conserve while waiting for taconite.


George Leshkevich is an expert on Great Lakes ice as a scientist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Michigan. He said he wouldn’t be surprised if there was ice on Superior in June.


He said ice on the lake this year compares to 1979 in terms of coverage, with about 67 percent iced over on the comparable date of April 23.
He’s still running the numbers, but 2014 looks like “there’s going to be even more” lingering ice than in 1979. “This year is maybe a record-breaking year."

The Whitefish Bay Waiting For The Thunder Bay To Leave The Ice At Duluth
(April 30, 2014 - facing south)


Lake Huron remains a wet parking lot: Freighters are waiting for ice to clear

5/3 - Port Huron, Mich. – Jeannette Zells, of Avoca, counted the 14 freighters anchored in lower Lake Huron on Thursday while she ate her lunch at Lakeside Beach. The spectacle, which started last week, likely will continue for another week or two.

“I was eating my lunch when I saw them,” Zells said. “First I just counted four, then seven, and then I realized there were 14. I had to take pictures, I love freighter watching, and I have never seen them this backed up before.”

Ice in Lake Superior and the St. Marys River like a traffic accident on a terrestrial highway caused the freighter jam.

“This is very unusual,” said Frank Frisk, Great Lakes Maritime Center in Port Huron consultant. “It has only happened a few times, and it is worse than before.”

Freighter watchers might be getting a treat, but the backup is a problem for industries that rely on freighters for commodities such as iron ore and coal.

“Steel mills are hurting from a lack of iron ore and power plants have reported that their coal inventory is very low,” Frisk said. “And there is currently a big demand for steel right now since the economy is moving in a positive direction – automobiles, bridges, and buildings all need steel to be produced.”

One ship that set sail on March 23 did not deliver its first cargo until April 23, said Glenn Nekvasil, Lake Carriers’ Association vice president.

“Normally a ship would deliver four cargoes in one month,” Nekvasil said. “But this reminds me of the winter of 1994 when we were breaking ice in the St. Marys River until May 18.”

He said some manufacturers have had to curtail production because they lack raw materials.

“Ice is part of sailing the Great Lakes, but this is extreme,” Nekvasil said.

Lake Superior’s ice coverage is 40 percent, a 20 percent decrease from last week, said Mark Gill, U.S. Coast Guard director of vessel traffic services at Sault Ste. Marie. “Each wind event is drawing the ice down more and more,” Gill said. “But some of the floes still have a solid 18 to 24 inches of ice and are several hundred feet in diameter, so it’s still pretty substantial.”

In 2013, ice breaking was done by April 20. Currently, the U.S. Coast Guard has eight vessels working along with two Canadian Coast Guard vessels.

“So far we have had a 60 percent increase from last year in the amount of ice cutting hours logged,” Gill said. “We are probably looking at four more weeks of ice still.”

Gill said the ice could clear sufficiently to allow for normal traffic movement in 10 to 14 days. Until then shipments will continue to take two to three times longer than usual, Gill said.

Nekvasil said Thursday was the last day of convoys led by Coast Guard icebreakers.

“I’m not saying we won’t still have problems,” Nekvasil said. “But it is safe for the freighters to move on their own. We might still need to call the Coast Guard if a freighter gets stuck, but after today they are on their own.”

Freighters have had to wait for a convoy before they could head north, said Donna Wiliamson, Western Great Lakes Pilot District 3 chief dispatcher.

“There have also been delays because we have needed two pilots to accompany each captain through District Three, when normally just one pilot is necessary,” Williamson said. “The pilots from each district help the captains navigate the waters since they are experts of the Great Lakes and its ports.”

District 3, which comprises Lakes Superior, Huron and Michigan, has 13 available U.S. pilots and three Canadian pilots.

“The one good thing is that this summer season the water levels will be raised a considerable amount for commercial traffic,” Frisk said.

Karen Hadden, of Richmond, recalled only seeing so many freighters lined up when they were stuck in ice, and never at this time of year.

“Normally there is not so much ice to the north of us,” Hadden said. “I just wonder what they do out there on the ships all day since they can’t move.”


Sunday, May 04, 2014

On Beyond Zionism

Jewish extremists uproot West Bank olive trees
AFP  20 hours ago

Jerusalem (AFP) - Suspected Jewish extremists have uprooted dozens of olive trees in a Palestinian-owned field in the West Bank, Israeli police said Saturday.

"Twenty-five olive trees were uprooted and sawn up in a field belonging to Palestinians near Bat Ayin" in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc south of Jerusalem, police spokeswoman Louba Samri told AFP.

She said graffiti reading "price tag" and "Arab thieves" was found at the scene.

"Price tag" is a term used by Israeli extremists for attacks on Palestinians and their property, often in response to Israeli moves to dismantle settlements.

Similar graffiti was found Friday on a Muslim grave near the northern Israeli coastal city of Haifa.

The State Department's 2013 Country Reports on Terrorism included "price tag" attacks for the first time, citing UN figures of some "399 attacks by extremist Israeli settlers that resulted in Palestinian injuries or property damage."

Such attacks were "largely unprosecuted," it said.

On Saturday, a former chief of Israel's domestic intelligence agency, Shin Bet, condemned the refusal of security services to deal with Jewish fringe groups the same way as any terrorist cell.

"In the Shin Bet, the expression 'we can't' does not exist, it's more a case of 'we don't want to'," Carmi Gillon was quoted as saying by public radio.

And John Kerry took heat for suggesting that in the future Israel may become an apartheid state. Among some groups of Israelis, it already is. These attacks against Palestinians are their own Drang Nach Osten.

Zionism would have to be incredibly re-conceived to accommodate a State with Jews and Muslims together on an equal basis. If the two state solution cannot be implemented, we shall continue to see the oppression of Palestinians in the occupied territories... essentially, an apartheid solution:  we cannot live together, we cannot live side-by-side, so we shall live apart.

Suspected Jewish extremists vandalised a Muslim grave near the northern Israeli coastal city of Haifa, police said Friday, in the latest in a string of racist and religious attacks...

We have allowed extremists to define the world for too long.

(However, there is a certain blog which seems to believe that destruction of trees is somewhat like crop circles, and really unimportant in the scheme of things... except for the lives of the olive farmers. There is even a suggestion that perhaps the Palestinian olive farmers are destroying their own trees, especially the ones hewed down on the Sabbath, for even Jewish extremists would observe Shabbas....

sort of  like:

Settler, settler, spare that tree!
Touch not a single bough !
for the candles have been lit,
and we cannot hew it now.

type of sentiment, and referring to lighting the candles at the start of Shabbas.

I guess the defense of extremism in the name of extremism is not extreme.


When Solar Panels Are Outlawed, Only Outlaws Will Have Solar Panels

LA Times
David Horsey    May 2 2014,0,6774303.story#ixzz30kGoxrPh
Recently, I wrote about how the billionaire Koch boys, conservative state legislators and big utilities are leading the charge in several states to force private citizens with solar panels on their homes to pay extra fees to be connected to the power grid. At the time it looked as if they had won a big victory in Oklahoma, where the Republican-dominated Legislature passed a bill authorizing just such a fee scheme.

...among the thousands of people who are installing solar panels on their roofs... are a whole bunch of independent-minded folks with strong libertarian impulses. They may or may not belong to the tea party, but they want to be able to fend for themselves without big government or big business telling them what they can and can’t do.

To these conservative-minded citizens, the extra fee being pushed by the Kochs and the utilities is the worst thing in the world: a tax.

“Monopoly utilities want to extinguish the independent rooftop solar market in America to protect their socialist control of how we get our electricity.” That assertion comes from the website of a group named TUSK, or Tell Utilities Solar Won’t Be Killed. It is a coalition of conservatives led by former California Congressman Barry Goldwater Jr. that, so far, has been very successful in beating back the energy industry attack...


The Los Angeles Clippers Are Not The Springboks, But...


If Mr. Sterling were to apologize and admit his faults, would the rest of the National Basketball Association - and ourselves - reconcile with him?


страна для стариков 2

In My Post страна для стариков - A Country For Old Men - I wrote:
There's a lot going on, and it is all war and terror. All involved had better take a deep breath and stop to think of where this is leading.

There has been violence in Odessa, and many dead. Young European men in the Baltic States and Poland and possibly other places - having watched and learned terror against governments while watching their evening news - are applying for visas to fight in the Ukraine. They seem to sense a similar fate for their own countries in the future, and have decided to fight it now.

Terrorism is spreading geographically and culturally.
These people may not sit by and watch a resurgence of the Warsaw Pact.
Remember, Chechen rebels still endure in the mountains and we saw a terrorist act at the Boston Marathon last year done by ethnic Chechens, as well as other acts in Russia.

I do not think people will play by the old rules.


Friday, May 02, 2014

Woman Stands Her Ground And Shoots Raging Wildlife


Terms Limits And Campaign Contributions

Limiting the number of terms a person may serve in the legislature will result over time in the real power being transferred to (1) the bureaucracy, and (2) the large campaign contributors, who will be able to plan years ahead with a slate of potential candidates and replacement candidates.

It will be an assembly line legislature, all funded by big donors.


Super-Individuals: The Meat Industry

The corporations that are the legal super-persons and are the real beneficiaries of the Constitution.

Bigger than you or me...

The Daily Yonder
On a chilly morning in March 2010, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack addressed a crowd of nearly 1,000 politicians, farmers, lobbyists, and journalists in Ankeny, Iowa, a nondescript little suburb of Des Moines. The purpose of the public hearing was to examine the growing power of agribusiness corporations like Tyson Foods.

"Let me start off by saying how deeply concerned I am about rural America," Vilsack said. He questioned whether the top-heavy food industry was rigged against the very farmers who actually produced the food. Then he outlined a governing agenda that was characteristically ambitious for the Obama administration in its early years. It wasn’t enough to simply fix these problems by enforcing existing rules and regulations, Vilsack suggested.

"The president has instructed the Department of Agriculture to establish a framework for a new rural economy," Vilsack said. For those in the crowd, from the farmers to the lawyers, bankers, and politicians, the prospect for fundamental reform was tangible. There could be a new framework. A new system of power in rural America.

As the rule was delayed, it opened the door for a different narrative about the rules to emerge, and for opposition to grow.

What no one in the giant auditorium could foresee that day was that Obama’s effort would ultimately be a spectacular failure. The story of how Obama failed shows how the administration quickly backed down when corporate interests put up a fight, and how political operatives muzzled and undermined the very reformers Obama’s team installed after his election. It is a pattern that has played itself out in failed efforts to reign in the nation’s biggest banks or stop consolidation in the airlines industry, to take just two examples...


中國語文 一 : Chinese Lesson 1

I am going over all my pronunciations.
So far, so good.

I do not see any problems as I had in Arabic with the 'ayin sound.
That should not have been a problem, except for the fact that good teachers are as scarce as the teeth of Noah's crow.



Tom has a post on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP):
Bottom line is plain to see. Another gigantic boondoggle for rapacious, out-of-control capitalism, which, as is becoming increasingly apparent, will be the death of us all.

Corporations are becoming too mighty, indeed, for they take on the characteristics of individuals, but do so on a scale that beggars our individual imaginations.

Looking into Wikipedia:

In criminal law, corporate liability determines the extent to which a corporation as a legal person can be liable for the acts and omissions of the natural persons it employs.

To have legal personality means to be capable of having legal rights and duties within a certain legal system, such as to enter into contracts, sue, and be sued. Legal personality is a prerequisite to legal capacity, the ability of any legal person to amend (enter into, transfer, etc.) rights and obligations. In international law, consequently, legal personality is a prerequisite for an international organization to be able to sign international treaties in its own name.

Legal persons (lat. persona iuris) are of two kinds: natural persons – people – and juridical persons (also called juristic or artificial or fictitious persons, lat. persona ficta) – groups of people, such as corporations, which are treated by law as if they were persons. While people acquire legal personhood when they are born, judicial persons do so when they are incorporated in accordance with law.
 One of the most important reasons that corporations were regarded as legal person(alities) is the need to limit the liability of the shareholders who provided the original capital of the corporation.
If each shareholder were responsible to the fullest extent of the law when an accident occurred, no person in their right minds would provide capital to fund a corporate endeavor.

Back in the old days, no people would have provided funds for ships, if a shipwreck meant that those who were part of the joint stock company were all liable for the deaths of the crew members.

But now this legal personage has become a Super-Individual.

The concept of the legal personality of a corporation was strictly limited to business matters. This modern day straining of the concept of personhood to grosser issues - such as freedom of speech and the ability to contribute to political campaigns - is a laughable measure, if it were not so pernicious.
When a corporation has the right to freedom of speech, it speaks with millions of dollars behind it, and its voice can easily drown my voice out.

If we permit the Supreme Court to continue along this bizarre path, shall we see corporations all grasp the right to keep and bear arms? If it is to protect themselves... or to stand their ground.... why not? I bet some Republicans in Georgia are working on it now.


Gangster Grandma And Stand Your Ground

Stand Your Ground Laws Tested
HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A Montana man is accused of setting a trap and blindly blasting a shotgun into his garage, killing a 17-year-old German exchange student. A Minnesota man is convicted of lying in wait in his basement for two teenagers and killing them during a break-in.
Related Stories

The two recent cases take the "stand your ground" debate to a new level: Do laws that allow private citizens to protect their property also let them set a trap and wait for someone to kill?

"We don't want it to be easy to be able to prosecute people. But we want to be able to hold individuals accountable when they have stepped outside the bounds of society," David LaBahn, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, said Wednesday.

More than 30 states have laws expanding the self-defense principle known as the "castle doctrine," a centuries-old premise that a person has the right to defend their home against attack, LaBahn said. The name evokes the old saying, "my home is my castle."

Most of these changes have come since Florida in 2005 became the first state to interpret the "castle doctrine" to apply outside the home  (1)  with a measure known as the "stand your ground" law.


The principle came under national scrutiny in the 2012 shooting of an unarmed Florida teenager, Trayvon Martin, by a neighborhood watch volunteer who was following the 17-year-old. George Zimmerman was acquitted last year after arguing self-defense.


In Montana, Markus Kaarma told investigators his Missoula home had been burglarized twice within the last week before Sunday's shooting death of 17-year-old Diren Dede. Kaarma told his hairdresser he had stayed up three nights waiting to shoot a kid, the woman told investigators.

The night of the shooting, Kaarma and his partner, Janelle Pflager, left their garage door open. Pflager left her purse in the garage "so that they would take it," she told a police officer. She also set up a video baby monitor and installed motion sensors, prosecutors said. (2)

After midnight, they heard the sensors trip. Pflager turned to the video monitor and saw a man in the garage. Kaarma took his shotgun, walked out the front door and to the driveway.


He told investigators he heard metal on metal and without speaking fired four times — sweeping the garage with three low shots and a high fourth shot. Dede was hit in the head and the arm.

Montana's law says a person is justified in using deadly force if they believe it necessary to prevent an assault or a forcible felony.

I have always maintained the Florida law was insanity and a criminal negligence on the part of the State legislators.
If a man's home be his castle, then that area in which he has the right to attack rather than withdraw and in which he possesses immunity permitting him to use deadly force may be sensibly described by the limits of the man's properties.

If, however, this area of immunity and of the right to attack is extended to the world at large, any serious effort at restricting deadly force is nullified.

The man in Montana took great time and effort to set a trap for burglars. It was not just an enticement; it was an "enticement for burglars".
Hence, the poor slob assumed that anyone found within his trap was a genuine, card-carrying member of the Burglars' Union.

I remember an instance when an old lady with dementia was wandering through our neighborhood, and she ended up in a neighbor's garage.

Go ahead, Granny! Make my day!


Thursday, May 01, 2014

Climate Binge

 This Flood Was Unpredictable, Hence It Does Not Exist
In Any Important Sense Of The Term

Breitbart has a wonderful post about having found - at long last - a single scientist with the nerve to speak the truth.

Read it if you wish. I am only interested in small differences in the meaning of various statements.

Former NASA Scientist: Global Warming is Nonsense

Professor Woodcock dismissed evidence for global warming, such as the floods that deluged large parts of Britain this winter, as "anecdotal" and therefore meaningless in science.
 "Events can happen with frequencies on all time scales in the physics of a chaotic system such as the weather. Any point on lowland can flood up to a certain level on all time scales from one month to millions of years and it’s completely unpredictable beyond around five days." ...

The phenomena are completely unpredictable in the sense that we cannot formulate an exact set of causes to accurately predict an exact effect.
However, insurance companies actuaries routinely predict floods, having computed the probabilities that any point P on lowland L may flood in a time period relevant to the insurance company.

So also governments which must fund for flooding disasters, may also predict the likelihood of such floodings.

So most definitely the insurance industry is predicting, and to a certain extent the government also. Thus, the notion that such a flood is "completely unpredictable" is a strange statement. We may not have one single point in time for a flood, but we most assuredly know the probabilities over time of a flood occurring.

I believe that is what we mean when we say that a "hundred year flood happened": it was a flood of a size such as statistically occurs once every hundred years.

Even Breitbart should be able to understand what was going on in this story.


Happier Times (sigh!)


Symbols of Beliefs And Other Trash

There is a site called Morning Money, which seems to be a money-making scheme for George Gilder -
Rush Limbaugh says, "My friends, it would behoove you to study everything you can get your hands on by George Gilder, a true American genius."
Get that:  "behoove". That is class and education speaking.
I would have mumbled "you should study...", which is a poor, poor substitute.

Anyway, the site has this:

Detroit: The "Model Welfare City"

Now, we know that even George Gilder, a true genius, dare not put up a photo of people of color, or other ethnic groups, or anything at all that smacks of racism. His photo album of the Elders of Zion capering at Jones Beach remains closed.

Here's what they use:

White, overweight, wine-drinking, cigarette-smoking, wearing-clothes-too-small, and....  glasses!

If it had not been for the cigarette and the wine glass, it could have been ME!

The web site ad  appeared on Breitbart.

The National Debt

I think the only time the USA had as massive a debt as today was immediately after World War II.

At that time, we had:

(1) enormous growth of the economy, for we financed and re-built the nations in our sphere of influence which had been devastated by the war;

(2) we had a progressive taxation, which reached a maximum of 80% (or more?) for the extremely high income groups, keeping in mind that taxation was partially offset by the augmented return on capital for these groups;

(3) the government used various approaches to keep inflation under control, somewhat reminiscent of what the Fed is doing today.

Today we do not have anything remotely similar to the enormous rate of economic growth now nor in the future, as far as we can see.

Today we have reduced taxation even on the extremely wealthy to low rates.

Today we have the spectacle of the government having put in place various procedure by which enormously wealthy corporations (who were treated like individuals originally to limit liability for shareholders, but now who are finding that status as individual being extended by our government to that of "super individual") may end up paying no taxes whatever:

Bloomberg View
Matt Levine writing on Energy Future Holdings' bankruptcy Apple did a $12 billion bond deal to avoid taxes, and Pfizer is working on a $98.7 billion merger to avoid taxes, and both of those things have come in for some criticism. But Energy Future actively chose not to avoid taxes. It could have avoided taxes.

In a brief summary, there is no politically feasible approach today.

None. Let that sink in.

If we go to Austerity and slash spendings with gusto with nothing else - and Austerity will saunter in on its own two legs in the future if we continue to dither - we will destroy the lives of millions. However, in the past this approach has been done and continues to this day in places like Greece.
Those destroyed are mute.
Soon afterwards, the party of modern capitalism continues.

So the economic conditions are not set on Boom!, we cannot increase taxes, we cannot even collect taxes from the richest corporations, we cannot slash benefits willy-nilly....

We shall do something eventually.

That is why I say that this continuing crisis will be balanced upon our backs. As the politicians continue to do nothing, the most grisly and unfortunate outcomes will overwhelm us due to our inaction.