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Unpopular Ideas

Ramblings and Digressions from out of left field, and beyond....

Location: Piedmont of Virginia, United States

All human history, and just about everything else as well, consists of a never-ending struggle against ignorance.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Hitting the Debt Ceiling

I've been reading -- and am only a few days from finishing -- " The Proud Tower," Barbara Tuchman's exploration of the situation in Europe and the U.S. in the 20 years just before World War 1 broke out.   And it just reinforces the idea that human history for the most part has consisted of the never-ending battle between the Haves and the Have-Nots among the population.  The Haves by definition have the lion's share by far of all the comforts of life, while the Have-Nots are consigned to scrape by as best they can, and, in the eyes of the Haves, hopefully with as little as they can.

The book chronicles how incredibly high up on the hog the so-called "upper clases" were living in those years, as compared to the privations being endured by the ordinary working people, and the efforts of groups like the Liberals, the anarchists, the Socialists, and Labor to combat this situation.

Today, in the bitter fight between the Democrats and the Republicans, with a crucial deadline at hand, we can see that same story being played out yet again.  The Republicans, the party of the Haves, are using this fight as an excuse to cut any spending, such as for the Medicare and Social Security safety nets, that would have helped the Have-Nots.  To that end they absolutely refuse to consider obtaining any additional revenue by means of raising taxes and closing tax loopholes that would make those cuts unnecessary.

But this fight has an additional aspect that is carefully kept unexpressed, and but for that an agreement would have long since been reached to raise the debt ceiling yet again, as Congress already has done a number of times in recent years.   That additional poison factor is the burning desire of the Party of the Haves to discredit the current President as much as possible, not only to right the wrong that the Haves saw in the mere election of a President who was, disgracefully, as much as half "black" in his genetics, but also to make things so uncomfortable for him that none other of his persuasion will ever again aspire to serving in that office.

So everything the Party of the Haves does in this conflict has to be looked at more in terms of that skin color aspect than in the financial, especially because the leaders of that party are ignorant of the fine points of money matters.   Scurrility and brawling are easy to understand, whereas financial instruments are beyond them.

Something more important than "mere" dollars and cents are at stake in this one.  

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Heritage and the Heat Wave

The two big news items these days are the struggle to increase the debt ceiling and the hot weather.  Well, plus also the determinations that scientists have just made that people in most areas of the world are carrying Neanderthal blood, genes, DNA, frames of mind, or whatever.  Only the people in sub-Sahara Africa are not carrying Neanderthal heritage.

Given the way that Neanderthals have been maligned ever since some of their skulls were first found, I don't expect this to be a popular conclusion.

I always thought the Neanderthals were cool myself, dealing with the Ice Age and all that kind of stuff in Europe and Russia.  Especially the ones that you could see on the Discovery channels.

I've been waiting with interest to see what those who are vying to be the Republican candidate for President will have to say about this.   So far there's been nothing, and in any case, it probably just means they will draw the transparent plastic sheeting of religion even tighter around their naked bodies and their deprived souls, while saying, "Science?   Who cares what the scientists say?"

Yeah.   Who cares what the scientists say, especially all the warnings they make about global warming.   Yes, not when right now better than half the U.S. is in the grip of 100-degree days, with every prospect of a lot more of that to come.  Who cares?

True Irony -- Crampons and Dog Livers

 Since I seem to be taking an extended course in learning how to survive in case I somehow find myself being a part of a team of unfortunates struggling to trek out of the unbelievable winds, snows, ice, low temps, crevasses, and the many other constant indignities of lower Antarctica, the main thing I have learned is never, never, never for any reason throw away your crampons --  sets of metal teeth that you attach to your boots to give you traction when you are crossing glaciers or climbing mountains.

Also, should you see a sledge loaded with most of your human food and all the dog food, plus your best tent, your warmest clothing, and all kinds of other invaluable things, disappear down an extremely deep crevasse along with all the strongest sled dogs and also a human member of your party -- which happened with a small party of Australians in Antarctica in 1912, as described in "Mawson's Will," a book not for the faint of heart or the weak of stomach, written by Lennard Bickel -- do not on any account eat the livers of the dogs that you have left, no matter how hungry you get.

The long survivor of that experience, plus the one man left with him, did just that.   They were happy to get those livers -- and as a result they ended up having to deal with large parts of their fleshly substance simply disintegrating and falling off their bodies, and they never knew why.   They were a few years too early to have heard of Vitamin A and how, though dog livers are rich in it, even just a little of it causes all sorts of disruptions in the work of other vitamins in keeping a person going.

That was true irony.  They thought that with all that fresh air and exercise they were getting out there on the glaciers, they were doing the most resourceful thing, in the face of having nothing much else to eat during the trek of a hundred miles or more they were having to make before reaching any sort of rescue.  One didn't make it, as a result of getting all that vitamin A.   The other lived years longer, while blaming that dire disorder on everything except what had really tried to kill them more painfully and quickly than anything that that worst weather in the world could throw at them.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Always Present "White" Woman

Recently a woman somewhere named (Something) Anthony was tried on the charge of having killed her baby girl.   I noticed that this trial was getting a huge amount of media attention, and the more headlines about it that I saw, the tighter I stuck to the vow I had made from the beginning not to pay the slightest attention to the case, except to wonder what was so special about it that called for that much hoopla..   Now the trial is over and the jury voted the woman not guilty, and the land is awash with howls of outrage.   (After all, she was charged, so she must've been guilty, right? And forget all that garbage about how a person is innocent until found guilty.  Not in today's hard-bottomed America..)  But still there's been no answer to that question about what was so special about that case to start with, compared to the large number of quite similar cases.

That attitude expressed by the community at large is what has been behind the undying hatred shown toward the admittedly hapless, former football hero O.J. Simpson, after he was tried on the charge of murdering his wife.   It's been pointed out, but to little avail, that people feeling so righteous and infuriated about Simpson having been found innocent would have had nothing to say if the victim had been his "black" first wife instead of his "white" second wife.   And another sports hero, Tiger Woods, only missed getting as much opprobrium because his Swedish wife was still very much alive.   Still, he had committed the almost as serious crime of having not only been unfaithful to her, but also he had done it with a succession of other beauties, most if not all of whom (and this is what made his actions so horrible though it was left largely unsaid)  appeared to have been "white."
With reference to Ms Anthony a thinker in Tennessee named Stephen Shirley hits on this point and calls it the "Missing White Women Syndrome--"

where the media and public tend to focus on "damsels in distress." These damsels, most often young, attractive, white females, often receive incredible amounts of coverage while cases involving minority females or even boys of any ethnicity are often overlooked.

That hits the nail right on the head, and he makes a lot of other points in his article that also greatly needed to be said -- and I would only like to say that it might've been better for him to have substituted "usually" or even "almost always" instead of using that last "often" for the third time in the same sentence.. And while I'm at it, I might as well also question the name he gave to the syndrome.   It seems  even better to call it, the "Always Present White Women Syndrome,"  because that is what gives the syndrome its punch, their mere presence.

It's true that "white" women, on the whole, are an impressive bunch, but so are other women of all the other hues and persuasions.  The gender is what is so special, and not the melanin count.

Meanwhile I found it something of a huge coincidence that if you scroll down a little on the right of the Shirley article, you will find a link (it might not be there now but here is another one) to a report that after Tiger Woods' badly betrayed "white" wife had packed the kids up and had apparently taken herself and everything else back to Sweden or wherever in a state of high dudgeon after she found out about his perfidies, she has now changed her mind and is moving back in with him.   The righteous among us will not be happy to hear that.   If true, I think it's great myself..


Thursday, July 07, 2011

Boost to Hate Groups

The presence of B. Obama in the U.S. Presidency has given U.S. hate  groups fresh shots in their arms, their behinds, or wherever else they take their needles.

So says the BBC in more genteel words.

So what else is new?


Angry Arab has expended several posts on correcting various points in an Economist article on Syria, yet he turned right around and said it is the best article he has seen on the situation in that country.

I agree that it is an excellent article.

If the Middle East could be pictured as being built like an arch, then Syria strikes me as being in certain ways its keystone country, more so than Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia, or any of the others.

The main question I've been having about Syria has to do with the tactic being used there, and in Bahrain, of dealing with the demonstrators against the current regime by shooting the protestors down where they stand, in large numbers.    What then, would the Bashar regime end up with, should it manage to hang on to power?  As my wife likes to ask whenever we see huge amounts of damage being done in movie and TV thrillers by the heroes or the police, usually through the use of vehicles and out of all proportion to anything that makes sense: "How will they explain this?"