Friday, February 19, 2010
2) Shhhhh. Don't tell anyone. The stimulus really did work!
3) Wanna screw around with a self-absorbed conservative crackpot? Just click "Helpful"
4) Astute readers of SLB may recall my review of Sasha Abramsky's book Conned. He's baaaaack! Imagine being jailed for stealing food...oh wait...this isn't France!
5) One wonders why this is STILL not being called a terror attack? Oh. Wait. I see why now...Dave Neiwert has more on the right wing walkback.
6) Shame on WellPoint executives. Caviar prices are lower!
7) I don't understand why President Obama is protecting the jerks who have undermined his administration. If I was him, I'd have made this a tit-for-tat arrangement: get my agenda passed, and I'll get you re-elected.
8) I thought competition was supposed to be good for the economy?
9) MEMO: To: Sarah Palin.
10) Simply Left Behind. Not a particularly funny story, I just couldn't resist using it.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Not that this is that remarkable a story on its own merits. Elton John is entitled to whatever opinion he wants to form, and I'm OK with that. And it's not like he's demonstrably wrong. There's no real proof Jesus wasn't gay, just as there's no real proof that Jesus was straight or married, as others have postulated.
The simple fact is, Jesus was an adult Jew in a culture that taught men should be married by adulthood who publicly seemed to prefer the company of His Apostles to that of any woman except Mary Magdalene, to whom He first makes Himself known after His resurrection.
A case could be made that He was gay. A case could also be made that He was married to Mary (after all, who would you want to visit first if you resurrected?)
No, what's extraordinary about this comment by Sir Elton is the venue: Parade Magazine, a publication intended for rock ribbed Republicans to read after Sunday services!
To periphrase Sarah Failin': "How's that Galt-y Teabaggy thing working out for ya?"
So I moved, only to find out that this is a place with a highly inflated sense of self-importance and where damn little real engineering work is done. I’ve never experienced such a hard time finding work. The rates are 1/3 of what I was earning before the crash, because pay rates here are fixed by the three or four large companies in the area who are in collusion to drive down prices and wages
UPDATE: Original link to website has been severed. Here's a transcription
[O]n the eve of the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) conference in Washington, more than 80 conservative leaders gathered on the grounds of George Washington's former Virginia estate to unveil a manifesto reaffirming the movement's beliefs.Bollocks, as they say. The "contours of conservatism" is what got us into this mess, and if you think one year of a moderate-to-right-centrist administration has undone the thirty years of greed embodied by the very corpse these asshats trot out anytime someone mentions how much nicer we can make this nation for its people, I got a bridge to sell ya.
The "Mount Vernon Statement," as they have dubbed the document, seeks to tether conservatism to constitutional principles at a time when Republicans and many independents have become outraged over what they view as governmental overreach. Its authors, a group of boldface names and Beltway veterans who have been among the movement's leaders for decades, have been working for months to hash out language that satisfies the party's often fractious factions. They cite the compact as a contemporary version of the Sharon Statement, a document named for William F. Buckley Jr.'s Connecticut hometown that helped shape the contours of conservatism for the past 50 years.
Indeed, along with Geo. Waƒhington spinning in HIS grave, undoubtedly Adam Smith is likely spinning in his grave to see the rape of the average American that has been foisted upon this great nation in a bastardization of his economic principles.
The joint stock companies (ed note: corporations) which are established for the public-spirited purpose of promoting some particular manufacture, over and above managing their own affairs ill, to the dimunition of the general stock of the society, can in other respects scarce ever fail to do more harm than good. Notwithstanding the most upright intentions, the unavoidable partiality of their directors to particular branches of the manufacture of which the undertakers mislead and impose upon them is a real discouragement to the rest, and necessarily breaks, more or less, that natural proportion which would otherwise establish itself between judicious industry and profit, and which, to the general industry of the country, is of all encouragements the greatest and the most effectual.
In the progress of the division of labour, the employment of the far greater part of those who live by labour, that is, of the great body of the people, comes to be confined to a few very simple operations, frequently to one or two. But the understandings of the greater part of men are necessarily formed by their ordinary employments. The man whose whole life is spent in performing a few simple operations, of which the effects are perhaps always the same, or very nearly the same, has no occasion to exert his understanding or to exercise his invention in finding out expedients for removing difficulties which never occur. He naturally loses, therefore, the habit of such exertion, and generally becomes as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human creature to become. The torpor of his mind renders him not only incapable of relishing or bearing a part in any rational conversation, but of conceiving any generous, noble, or tender sentiment, and consequently of forming any just judgment concerning many even of the ordinary duties of private life. Of the great and extensive interests of his country he is altogether incapable of judging, and unless very particular pains have been taken to render him otherwise, he is equally incapable of defending his country in war. The uniformity of his stationary life naturally corrupts the courage of his mind, and makes him regard with abhorrence the irregular, uncertain, and adventurous life of a soldier. It corrupts even the activity of his body, and renders him incapable of exerting his strength with vigour and perseverance in any other employment than that to which he has been bred. His dexterity at his own particular trade seems, in this manner, to be acquired at the expence of his intellectual, social, and martial virtues. But in every improved and civilized society this is the state into which the labouring poor, that is, the great body of the people, must necessarily fall, unless government takes some pains to prevent it.Ahem.
Not exactly the unfettered free market that conservatives go crazy over.
Indeed, Adam Smith was quite leery of business combinations that took human beings off the hook for their actions (like corporations). He understood that people are greedy, vain, selfish, and vicious asocial bastards who would gladly sell their fellow men into slavery for a bowl of porridge a la Esau.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
While the Large Hadron Collider gets all the attention (it never hurts a physics experiment's street cred when rumors spread that it might create a mini black hole and swallow up the Earth), a lesser-known particle collider has been quietly making soup—quark soup. For the field of experimental particle physics, in which progress has been at a near-standstill since the glory days of the 1970s (yes, the top quark was discovered in an experiment at Fermilab in 1995, but really, everyone knew this last of the six quarks existed), this counts as the most notable achievement in years: a discovery that doesn't merely confirm what theory has long held, but points the way to new revelations about the creation and evolution of the universe.We note that nothing melted, no black holes were created and the air conditioning in the lab worked fine afterwards.
The reason for that accolade is that quark soup was last seen when the universe was 1 microsecond old, physicists reported at the annual meeting of the American Physical Society. It was created at the 2.4-mile-around Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) at Brookhaven National Lab on New York's Long Island, which smashes together gold ions traveling at nearly the speed of light. The result of the collisions is a tiny region of space so hot—4 trillion degrees Celsius—that protons and neutrons melt into a plasma of their constituent quarks and gluons, as Brookhaven describes here. The soup is 250,000 times hotter than the center of the sun, 40 times hotter than a typical supernova, and the hottest temperature in the universe today.
Interesting, things did not go according to prediction, thus proving that the universe is nowhere near the orderly, precisely designed place that so many people lackign imagination believe it to be.
Indeed, even at its most elemental level, the universe is chaotic and random.
Even more interesting developments, like a possible answer to why the universe even exists in the form it does, have been uncovered from this experiment (short answer: matter and anti-matter should theoretically exist in equal portions, but they obviously don't, since we're here.)
This is Big Science, the kind of science we used to do regularly but have now ceded to the European and Asian scientific community.
Because, you know, tax cuts!
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
They are frequently led by political neophytes who prize independence and tell strikingly similar stories of having been awakened by the recession. Their families upended by lost jobs, foreclosed homes and depleted retirement funds, they said they wanted to know why it happened and whom to blame.
That is often the point when Tea Party supporters say they began listening to Glenn Beck. With his guidance, they explored the Federalist Papers, exposés on the Federal Reserve, the work of Ayn Rand and George Orwell. Some went to constitutional seminars. Online, they discovered radical critiques of Washington on Web sites like ResistNet.com ("Home of the Patriotic Resistance") and Infowars.com ("Because there is a war on for your mind.").
Some have gone so far as to stock up on ammunition, gold and survival food in anticipation of the worst.
Local Tea Party groups are often loosely affiliated with one of several competing national Tea Party organizations. In the background, offering advice and organizational muscle, is an array of conservative lobbying groups, most notably FreedomWorks. Further complicating matters, Tea Party events have become a magnet for other groups and causes — including gun-rights activists, anti-tax crusaders, libertarians, militia organizers, the "birthers" who doubt Obama's citizenship, Lyndon LaRouche supporters and proponents of the sovereign states movement.
It is a sprawling rebellion, but running through it is a narrative of impending tyranny. It is a prominent theme of their favored media outlets and commentators, and it connects the disparate issues that preoccupy many Tea Party supporters — from a concern that the community organization ACORN is stealing elections to a belief that Obama is trying to control the Internet and restrict gun ownership.