Friday, July 27, 2007

What should I do with this blog?

I have gotten annoyed and bored with my blogging. Vacation cannot go on for ever. Note the poll at the top of the right sidebar. Suggestions in the comments are welcome. The idea that I would write pithy little sentences to help us remember that sense of right and wrong that Carl Rove has nearly erased from American discourse was where I began this blog but nothing particularly valuable seems to have come of that. And I am getting long winded as I age here.

As I have hinted, I find steady engagement in the outrageous politics of our times requires personality traits I don't wish to hypertrophy by exercise. The focus on wrongs and problems is natural but life is too short for taking shortcuts to feeling righteous. Rather, I'd like to work in a more positive and constructive way. Building things, solving problems or at least fixing things...these have been the essence of my professional life as an engineer and my also of my most rewarding hobbies. The course I seem to have gravitated to in this blog, while within the rhetorical fashions of the liberal blogosphere is just not on a satisfactory bearing.

The time it takes to blog interestingly and frequently does not exist in my life at this time, so this is partly a way of deciding what will have to give way. The talent to blog interestingly at any frequency may be lacking but readers will know what they think I do better and what worse. This is your big chance here to get what you want with flattery.

Note: "Fold it up until it is all sharp corners and stick it up where the sun don't shine." is not one of the options. Neither is "give it a rest", though I am doing that a bit just now. I may nearly be over my withdrawal symptoms from my hit counter addiction.

I linked this blog into a few causes: Saving the environment, ending the dark age of bushes and neocons and staving off the many collapses that dark age has fetched neigh. These causes I remain supportive of and for that reason, the blog may simply emerge as a less random outlet and relay station for the news and views supporting those causes. But if so, I am looking for ways to make some contribution to those causes others have overlooked.

To all who have left comments, I am particularly grateful as many of you have been fairly tactful and helped me see things differently. You are the flickering starlight of common sense in a black void of silently suffering masses and mindless numbing noise the telly says is the news.

Monday, July 23, 2007

MSM: not just stealing from dot-orgs, bragging about it.

An article in today's New York Times says of an upcoming CNN broadcast of candidates answering recorded video of queries culled from YouTube:
The first of a new kind of presidential debate is scheduled for tonight, one in which members of the general public pose questions to the candidates via homemade video.
"First"? Not really. This is exactly the format of the candidate response we showed at about 1300 MoveOn house Parties for the Planet two weeks ago. The turn out was good for those so maybe CNN is just casting about for a way bump the ratings. I watched late last night as CNN took pains to give a peephole of transparency to the process by which they winnow down hundreds or thousands of videos. Basically they don't have a way or don't trust the ways they do have for polling: they said partisan hacking of a poll or vote was likely so their editors and consultants were deciding what was best or at least representative. That is bs. Why don't they just finish the job and swipe MoveOn's entire method. MoveOn does trust its members and polls them regularly for the issues and questions foremost on their minds. In theory, the Times is a newspaper and one of the better ones read for its it can't be that both writer and editor were simply uninformed of what nearly 100 thousand people in this country just watched.

The supporting quote in the Times article comes from someone who should be even more aware of the trends but who, I suspect, considers MoveOn a threat to her party's grip on power and to her very paycheck:
“These debates are the first real political foray into citizen journalism,” writes Morra Aarons, a blogger and political director for, which covers women’s issues. Ms. Aarons is also a Democratic consultant who supports Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton but is not affiliated with her or any campaign.
Perhaps I should not be surprised that one MSM outlet is scratching the back of another as it attempts to make money through use of media with which they have not been able to innovate as well as groups who have only democracy on their minds and not advertisers. I can see what they are doing and unless they take to scratching people's eyes out, eventually we will all see it.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Creeping toward the exit

...patting myself on the back as I go.
I have spent enough time reading and getting upset and posting and finally blowing hours I should spend working just to do a particular kind of blogging. Not Jewish, not Buddhist, not Humanist, not wise, not even witty, just political outrage. The time has run out, and not been well spent. I bore even myself. This post is not my last but I hope it is the end of the perfunctory, egotistical repeating myself and others. I don't have time to write this...something must be boiling over somewhere in my so called life.

I will plead that it is easy to become obsessed. The rewards however are scant. I can, with no better sources than a few on-line newspaper articles, develop a slight sense for what crap should hit the fan next, or at least, writing two million characters of indignant posting, a few sentences are bound to match a footnote or a headline somewhere. Yesterday I protested we should be told what deals Cheney cut with the oil companies. Today TPM peels back the wraps on those old meetings. A few weeks ago I sarcastically suggested we give Bush a third term. The idea is so nauseating, MoveOn, coincidentally, used it in an email plea last week that began:

Dear MoveOn member,

What would a third Bush term look like? Endless war in Iraq, continued torture and spying, more ultra-conservative judges, more and more people without health care, and so'd be awful.

But that's impossible, right? Well, maybe not...

What does it mean that my anger becomes tuned to the anger of the reality based? What have I sunk to? What have we all sunk to? Am I so different from or any less formulaic than a Limbaugh or a Coulter? Did my hit counter's success not hang upon the outrageousness of my topic vis-a-vis our liberal values more than upon its significance to any wider audience or even its accuracy? Judgments of accuracy may be a matter of perception to some extent but I call myself a liberal because I found more accuracy on that side. What have we given up in order to get a little attention? Are we damned from the start when we decide that to slant things a bit is justified if being ignored is the alternative? Must hyperbole and emphasis of only the grotesque be adopted if those are the techniques of the other camp? I do confess I hate those who push corrupting and degrading half truths but why would that make their methods worth emulating?

For example, look up some puddle of poo like this presumably real plea for a third Bush term. Easy to find with google. Easier to throw rocks at. So easy I get tired of it. This could become habit forming but it is not respectable blogging. Enough.

I have heard you can dislocate your arm trying to pat yourself on the back but I am good at it. There is a callus back there big enough to make me look like Dumas' bell ringer. But the hunchback did not let his soul become grotesque.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Beating the drums for impeachment

The AP did most of the reporting I have found on the latest little tussle over whether we have a constitution or a monarchy. CBS writes it up pretty clearly as a disagreement this administration is having with the constitution...and the loser is you, dear citizen. That the white house and the vice president have their own peculiar understanding of what law means and to whom its obligations apply is familiar territory but still alarming. What self-styled democracy, what legislative branch would stand by and do nothing? The congress still thinks because we are in a war they cannot lay a hand on the executive while troops are afield. Bullshit. We are in a debacle this incompetent administration concocted, led and mismanaged. They should not be allowed the vicious circularity of arguing an ongoing war somehow justifies the war going on. They have had more than enough time and money to have taken out Osama Bin Laden and chose instead to let him regroup on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border...our real enemy lives to plague us further and we have sown a new crop of enemies just for good measure. We have destroyed the country we were told we meant to save. We have so angered and alarmed the Iranians they no longer take dollars for oil. A development like that preceded our invasion of Iraq. If only there were oil fields in Waziristan, perhaps we'd have been sold a war that, as a side effect, brought a little justice to the inspiration for the 9/11 plotters

Note in that CBS writeup that Gonzo, incompetent to the core, has had half a year to work out the legality of the Vice President's office excusing itself from executive branch reporting requirements on how secrecy is used but he has failed to deliver any guidance. Instead, the creepy VP has been pushing to abolish the watchdog agency ISOO that sees to it laws about government secrecy are used only as intended and effectively

Digging a bit deeper, note in this version of the AP story from PR-inside, that about one tenth of the 20 million documents that get some kind of secrecy clamped on them get that way without justification of why they should be classified. And since 2002, Darth Cheney has not even been submitting his paperwork to the ISOO.

Let me remind everyone, especially you, sick Dick, why we have the notion of classified documents and the elaborate protocols and bureaucracy for shepherding those documents: There is some information believed to useful to those who would harm us militarily or economically. NOT POLITICALLY. Your fellow citizens and other members and branches of the government are not the enemy. It costs us tax payers an arm and a leg once a piece of paper gets that red stamp on it. All the work done with that information going forward is done under expensive contained and guarded conditions. The one to two year back log to obtain a clearance [unless you are Paul Wolfowitz's girlfriend] means much of the work does not get done in a timely fashion....which may be exactly what Darth Cheney is aiming for. Confusing the interests of Halliburton with those of the people of the United States might be forgivable were it not for the huge appreciation in Cheney's personal wealth that resulted from this war he worked so hard to start. I find it reasonable, based on all the misrepresentation and mismanagement that has already been exposed, that we should be suspicious of what Cheney has been up to, starting with his "energy policy" closed door meetings with oil company executives early in the first term. What has Mr. Cheney and company got to hide from its own government? No one has asked that paperwork of the VP office be read onto the airwaves or even to the Senate Democratic leadership...just that everyone in government should follow the laws.

I am just one more citizen who has taken up pounding the drum for impeachment because its clear creepy VP is not listening to me, to you or to congressional subpoenas. And I herewith abandon my wait-and-see hopefulness about the congress we tried to turn blue and true...they as a body are behaving like gutless fools. Pelosi: sic sick Dick or you will pay come next election, your party will pay.
You will hear this again and again. You will hear it from others, experts like Greenwald who have prepared the cases against these usurpers and destroyers of democracy. I have not listed the economic and domestic failings, some that literally got thousands killed. I will not apologize for adding nothing but volume to the debate. The volume needs to be turned up.

Monday, July 16, 2007

why I watch Huffington Post

yes, "watch". Sometimes I read it and I take the handy Daily Brief email too. But it both has the news and, for media watchers, is news. I predict their page hits per day will begin to climb. They have been tinkering with what I call the "slashdot afterburner" in which commenters rate other commenters. Works for Kos.

Arianna is pretty good snoop. Kristol may never learn to shut up but at least he is going to learn to whisper.

And they get good pics: here is William Kristol, trying to look thoughtful while passing a brick right on Fox news.

And here is dear leader, getting a little rush by inserting the brick.

just us words

just us words

He who drafted us and toiled with us and finally left us thus arrayed,
Not certain he is done, he left us as he came to us: strayed.

Chaos is the tendency of all things and life a motif bobbing on that stream
As all forces flow toward cold uniformity, joining, mixing, splitting, briefly resisting.
Desperate for the meaning, the tools of sense ask: Where is the sense?
From tools fashioned for survival, the appetite for meaning is an accidental byproduct
Forever reflexively scanning for portent, we have to drag in cause.

Just us words remain, fossil of a still coursing thought.
If all the letters on the spilled dice fell as a good sentence,
Greater yet would be the miracle that there was a reader for them.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Gimme a break

I wanted to shut up for a while and see what quiet felt like but damn, there is such sick folly afoot.

The NY Times, you don't need me to tell you, has a mixed record on getting their facts straight but when they report congressional testimony of several recent Surgeons General to the effect that the Bush league routinely pressured them to water down any health policy or reported findings that didn't look good for Rethuglican supporters, I assume that the Surgeons General have not garbled their facts. It is a fresh provocation to see old lies and disservices to the republic laid out afresh like the corpses of so many dead truths unearthed.

As Seen on the Internets: turning over a rock so that you won't have to...

I was still coming down from a bit of a high I had over the great turnout for Live Earth/Party for the Planet last weekend, when this horrid pile of lies crashed me jarringly back to the realities of the fight for our planet. I don't know if I should have done them the favor of a link but rather than go there, just see a few of their headlines:
Origins of Environmental Religions
Jay Lehr, Ph.D. - July 12, 2007
Conventional religions have been under attack for some years from liberals who have drifted into secular humanism and away from any devout belief in God. ...

Global Warming Scapegoat
James M. Taylor - July 09, 2007
Regarding “Officials discuss health, climate change” (July 2), it is amazing how global warming is becoming this generation’s version of UFOs; anything that a cursory analysis doesn’t immediately explain must be a UFO… or global warming....
And there is much more merde where that came from...they get some ignorant liar to write a crank letter to the WaPo and then publish it in their little web page of bought and paid lies as if it were news that bore repeating. Who is this "Heartland Institute"? Pretty much the spewers of specious conclusions that only bush league supporters could swallow. Herbert J Walberg, from the Hoover institute, heads their board of directors. He managed to get in a career in academic psychology before he found it more appealing to denounce school desegregation and argue that total free market treatment would leave no child with a behind. Joseph L Bast, frequent contributor of articles and co-author with Walberg did not even earn his stupidity: he is blatantly a paid liar who just repeats the lies of others.

How very Bush League of them: a PhD adviser to the department of education with his name all over a web zine of utter rubbish denials of well established science on the environment.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

If the constitution were written in the era of King George Bush II

The bill of rights would have added to separation of church and state, a requirement for separation of corporations and state.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Whither my activism, wither my blogging

Some days a dreadful inertia mires all action.
Causes and excitements lose their attraction.
I have no heart, I have no faction.

Or perhaps I just have too many.

I admit, I am developing a resentment, in spite of the pleasures of self expression, to the time it takes me to blog. I could be doing something about all the broken things I end up merely writing about. I could be face to face with others rather than at the distilled isolation of an anonymously authored web page. The satisfaction of going overtime in 40 minutes of intense conversation with 22 perfect strangers who have shown up at Casa Greensmile to hear what the candidates have to say in answer to questions about global warming, that satisfaction is much more engaging than the faint hope that three or four people might read the occasional post, often hours in the writing, that is not utterly repetitive of what they can read elsewhere. Today, the only reason I can make myself write is the vain hope that someone knows a few words to dispel these doubts:
  1. The public whose mind I wish I could change or awaken is not reading this blog.
  2. The case for amateurs writing about political issues is weak at best: we start with borrowed facts and come to similar conclusions to what readers have seen better written in a dozen places already.
  3. Looking beyond the liberal blogosphere, we have become a jelly dough nut of a nation, fat, insubstantial in our interests, addicted to pleasures and entertainments, tolerant only of the very shortest appeals to our conscience and the very nearest and personally painless horizons in considering the common good. And many are now content to take the pseudo-sectarian shortcuts to feeling right about skipping all the old questions about our fellow humans. We have in short, become a very poor stock, getting Bushwhacked as we deserve for dropping the yoke of democracy.
  4. The infrastructure on which we communicate is frayed, frail and under attack. A few disgustingly rich people want to own the roads and the Internet as soon as a few rule changes make it profitable to do so. Even where private enterprise raised money to lay wire, they did so as sanctioned monopoly, employing technology developed with heavy public subsidy. It has been a gift to publish pages for no cost at all save leaving my words as fodder for some one's advertising scheme. When "publish post" has the same effect as hitting "call" on my cell phone, will I still write? would you pay one cent to read my drivel?
  5. Since the FCC and Reagan effectively obliterated the idea that broadcasters are permitted to use the electromagnetic commons as a trustee licensed to make responsible and beneficial use of a public resource and since the supreme court 1976 Buckley vs Valeo decision, "free speech" means* "how much can you afford to publish or broadcast". As long as the rich-get-richer, poor-get-poorer trend continues its march to an obscene lopsidedness, nothing we little people can put in words cannot be completely drowned out.
  6. The "Paris-Britney-OJ is all that you are interested in ... we are telling you that" journalism will be the Wal-Mart of information as long as "informing people" and "making money" are essentially tied together. The mightiest liberal blogs are, in the scope of national politics, just the little independent bookstore or cafe that has such loyal customers, Wal-Mart couldn't put them out of business and the smart conversations are still going on there...what we needed to do was put the Wal-Medias out of business or at least stop them from packaging whole demographics the way huge chain stores package Chinese dog food. To get the attention of an addled consumer nation, a lot of people carrying signs in the street may be necessary.

In contrast to such misgivings, I have the very positive impressions from discovering that right in my own neighborhood there are a crowd of people who care as much as I do about global warming. I only signed up to host 15 people. Turned out they were people like me: not kids and not too bad off and able to imagine, and care, about the world as it will be when they are gone...people with other ideas and more complete knowledge that I only learn of when I start talking with them. They will put aside their own interests and pleasures occasionally to help make an impression on our leaders that we need to change direction. I don't know if any of those people who showed up at my party for the planet read this blog. So, even if I am not reckoning only from the negatives, I find it reasonable to question why I blog.

MoveOn queried its members today as to which of several current political causes they should focus on. I am not telling you the choices. Join MoveOn and get yer own damn ballot. They apologized for giving a list, all of which you would like to support for some positive change in public policy, and making us pick one. But they are right...the American public, its mind reduced by TV journalists to equating Paris Hilton's celebrity incarceration with Scooter Libby's cannot be schooled or moved on more than one issue at a time. We have a long row to hoe.

*It was from one of my guests Saturday night that I learned of that terrible precedent, see what I am starting to think real people work better than HTML pages?

Monday, July 09, 2007

Antepartum Patriarchy

An interesting report in PNAS, also summarized in Nature, is not about the gender biases built into our culture but about the endocrine machinery that influences childbearing outcomes. Those outcomes have such dreadful weight in a society that prizes and promotes fecundity. It is we cultured apes who tend to lay these outcomes heavily at the feet of nurture and behavior. Very briefly, for the ultra lazy who won't even read the Nature explanation: extensive birth and marriage records, from a period and place where no modern reproductive choices or mores held any sway, have shown that females with a fraternal [that is male] twin were only getting married and if married only having kids at about 2/3 the rate of the women who had no in-utero testosterone exposure. The researchers went to some length to eliminate the likeliest sources that could skew such statistics. That is just an observation. What to make of it?

One can raise a lot of eyebrows and ire by offering mechanistic biology, dumb and billions of years amassing its complexities, as an explanation for any consequential difference in mating success. 50 pages into Louann Brizendine's book "The Female Brain" [which, plodding reader that I am, I will eventually review] it has become believable to me that hormones alone can account for much behavior by rewiring that spaghetti bowl of neurons that is the seat of behavior. I insist that if you pay any attention at all to this post, you go read at least the abstract of the paper. I will tease you with the most controversial claim about the findings:
...Nor are our results explained by after-birth social factors (females growing up with similarly aged brothers) because females born with a male co-twin have reduced success even when their co-twin dies shortly after birth and are raised as singletons after birth. Our findings suggest that hormonal interactions between opposite-sex fetuses known to influence female morphology and behavior can also have negative effects on daughter fecundity and, hence, maternal fitness, and bear significant implications for adaptive sex allocation in mammals.
When you consider the social pressure, the weight of convention and community expectations around marriage and having children, and you put that together with the crap shoot called conception which produces the people on whom these expectations weigh, it is a wonder we don't have more feminists, ... or more suicides.

When some one figures out a way to get clean and meaningful data about which in-utero effects alter male behavior [Anthony Bogaert has tracked down one phenomenon but there are perhaps others] so that we don't have a lot of whining "but you didn't study my situation", maybe we could all just lighten up on what people are "supposed" to do with their lives, reproductively speaking.

Extra helpings of John Edwards.

I have been too busy to properly blog the party for the planet...but the turnout at my house party was overwhelming. I will say a bit about it when I have time but I just want to pass the word that Bora got a lot more of John Edwards thoughts than there were time for in the format of the MoveOn Town Hall Meeting for candidates to answer questions about their plans to prevent a climate change disaster.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Go See Sicko!

It is, as many will tell you, Michael Moore's best yet. Me and Mrs Greensmile were crying by the end of the Cuba segment.

Its better late than never

For the people we have not killed yet, its is not too late. Belatedly, the New York Times, who sucked Cheney hard enough, and helped get us into a complete abortion of a war, now call for our exit from that war. Its not like we don't have better places to spend the money. Who knows, maybe some folks even care about the lives.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

party for the planet

My blogging has been somewhere between lame and empty momentum of habit the last few days and today it is even worse. I have a party to host today. Quit reading blogs and go to a party this evening. My party is oversubscribed but I hear there are 30,000 people signed up across the country so you could meet some of the cool people. There are over a dozen parties within 30 miles of our zip...put your zip code in and find the party nearest you. Your stupid country will not sign on to the Kyoto accords but YOU can make a difference.

Friday, July 06, 2007

What is congress waiting for?

Found at Talking Points Memo: The will of the people is to be rid of Cheney. And Bush is not far behind. I you have been paying attention my Google News toy on the sidebar, you'd notice it is defaulted to fetch whatever is brewing about Cheney...and the pace and the ire have been notching up slowly for most of the past month. I see the occasional blog there but of late, its editorials from LA Times and plenty of other "establishment" sources...and they hate the guy. In a fair and sane republic, Cheney would have resigned, [as Olberman has urged ] some time ago.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Do you also shoot at passing cars just for fun?

I don't have a city or an ID but I do have an IP address for the person who left this search string on my hit counter log:

"how to slip Viagra into drink"

I don't know who you are but whoever you are, please be careful.

...which cues my usual gratuitous moralizing....
"Seeking fun with no sense of responsibility" describes a substantial portion of our prison population and several members of the present republican administration. Democrats may not be as much fun [you are thinking of Gore right now aren't you!] but fewer of them go to jail after being elected.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

I found a live one!

Have you ever wondered who supports the Republican administration and actually likes their agenda? I found a live one: It is incredible...and yet it explains so much. Someone send the poor guy instructions on the use of shift-lock. I would have suspected a spoof site but this creature leaves comments just a brain-stunting as the posts.

just a matter of scope

Ouch. Brain on holiday. Did not want to think and I have commenters Naomi and Patricia calling me on my gushy attitude about patriotism a couple of posts ago.


I am not quite ready to go as far as "my mother drunk or sober". That was our standard retort to the flag wavers when we protested the Viet Nam war. Not everybody who loves their country is blind to, or even tolerant of, the failures of character or of policy in the nation's conduct.

It is true that patriotism is a very loaded word. It is probable that it gets heavily misused when politicians want to use our emotions to blur the vital distinction between feeling like a good citizen and acting like one. Emotion is not a trustworthy mechanism, but it is all we have when you get down to it. Logic and politics only pretend to have much to do with each other.

It may sound like I am making a case that there is good patriotism and bad...not quite. Perhaps in agreement with the reservations people have about patriotism, I see one inescapable flaw in it: it gets touted for uniting the country but by exactly that same means, it divides the world.

Nu? Is there a good patriotism? You could love your country and your world but that is much easier said than done...starting with knowing all the people in your world.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The maturity needed to raise kids = maturity to have none

Well, I have gone and got tangled in another thread over at Pandagon. Amanda Marcotte was more or less celebrating the findings, dredged up in a few liberal blogs yesterday, of a Pew Research Center survey on American attitudes and practices around marriage. The big deal was the clearly eclipsed myth of having children as the most important attribute in a happy marriage. I do tend to get my feathers ruffled when that subject comes up but this time out, I am reassured at what a bunch of solid and sensible citizens hang out their commitments on that thread. To the reactionary complaints of Barbara Dafoe Whitehead of Rutgers University's National Marriage Project that this survey signaled the demise of decent family values and depicted a country where:
“Child-rearing values — sacrifice, stability, dependability, maturity — seem stale and musty by comparison.”
Amanda remarked:
Whitehead is concern trolling people right to the divorce court.

I don't know if Whitehead is really of the opinion that there is a kids vs sex life trade off. Many commenters had practical experience that this is not so. I do think I see what is so irksome about Whitehead's opinion though:

If one recognizes that they are not going to be comfortable giving up a sizable chunk of their time, their money and that mental and physical personal energy that goes into an enjoyable social life [intimate or public], even if we just call that "spoiled and selfish", then they are better off not having children. Such children, had they come along, would have sensed the neglect and brought forward that subtle and deep sense of low value as a person to another generation. If such a child occasionally reaches the cusp of awareness that that feeling of worthlessness was not innate but imposed, they must decide where to battle a foe that has long left the field. To cease cycling such drama into this world, it is vastly more important for a person to know what will make them happy than it is for them to conform to any convention of happiness.

The idea that you should always be happy is a bigger myth and more dangerous than the myth that "a baby will bring us together". Following either is a slow motion train wreck. Pursuit of happiness is a right, we allege, but the state of happiness itself is an illusion oh so popular for two minutes out of every fifteen on television. There is, however, a difference between the myth of "entitlement to happiness" as antagonist to the myth of "have babeez, be happy" and the compromise struck when one [or more often, a couple] is realistic about how children will impact them and still take the plunge knowing some things from the Before Kids life will have to go. I counted at least a half dozen comments from parents who knew these waters and reported satisfaction with that upstream swim to the spawning grounds. It is one of the most common reckonings in the world. Its just a shame some people make it badly. But as Paul Simon sings, "the information is unavailable to the mortal man" [the mortal man should ask a mortal woman! Then maybe this part of the survey would not surprise you:
The survey noted that 37 percent of U.S. births in 2005 were to unmarried women, up from 5 percent in 1960, and found that nearly half of all adults in their 30s and 40s had lived with a partner outside of marriage.

The word "sacrifice" does properly belong in this calculation. In fact all of them: "sacrifice, stability, dependability, maturity" are exactly what I would call for as terms of a procreation contract. And, hoping not to put words in other's mouths, I think those commenters exemplify being conscious of those values as you work at having kids AND a reasonably fun marriage. Where Whitehead gets it wrong is that she is judging all the country through this survey. She denigrates those who know the sacrifice is not for them as if they were evil shirkers of a universal obligation. Quit judging people, Whitehead! Those values are not "musty" they are just not necessary unless you do choose to have kids nor are they for everyone. I wonder if a social critic like Whitehead could imagine how much less burdened and conflict riddled this world would be if the people for whom children were an option were free and informed enough to recognize it would be a mistake in some cases and go on their well adjusted childless way. That would be a greater "maturity" than the one Ms Whitehead judges to be lacking.

It looks like America is not waiting for Ms Whitehead to figure this one out.

Gonzo underlings caught red handed

This bit appears to be a TruthOut exclusive at the moment: Kyle Sampson deleted presumably damaging emails after congressional committees began asking for documents. Strictly speaking, that is not legal. But then in Gonzo's perverted version of the nation's law enforcement branch, neither "strict" nor "legal" mean what you and I would assume they mean.

Monday, July 02, 2007

no holiday for upsetting news.

Hit counter has gone to sleep. Nation has gone to the beach. But that is always a good time for bad news to slip by.

The bad news:

This just sucks. Bush has tried to avoid the appearance of saying there is nothing wrong with what Libby did for Cheney and Rove...and Bush. But for my money, he has not succeeded. One more board for the impeachment gallows. Maybe the Imperror thinks the Putin punch in his approval rating is the best time to try and slip this dagger into an already damaged justice system. Of course Bush's lose-lose options were discussed weeks ago and I don't think anyone is too surprised. Just disgusted. Suggest taking names of those who were urging a pardon. Those fans of Libby are all contemptible creeps who despise rule of law. Virtually any liberal blog that covers the political beat will point out the instances of strict and maximal punishment Bush has routinely delivered. As Texas governor, he found death not too harsh for 150 men and two women yet 30 months in jail for covering up an act of treason [that is more or less the category for blowing the cover of a valuable secret agent working to stop traffic in nuclear weapons materials] was "excessive". The Imperror said back when Plame was exposed that he would demand ruthless prosecution of those responsible. Yeeaah, riiight, Mr. President. Bush is a liar who will blithely contradict his tough talk if the alternative is doing anything untoward to his cronies. Firedoglake and TPM are among the better original reporting news and analysis blogs and if you want the details on this national embarrassment, start there.

News that is only bad for people you probably don't like anyway:

Meanwhile, some pesty scientists have been fixing to pull the rug out from under that Bio tech Venture Capital market: This story has been brewing in the labs for a while. By now, if you head over to the science blogs of Seed magazine, you will find some helpful elaborations of the scientific impact of this dawning realization: the one-gene-one-protein-one-biological-function idea is not always right. Networks of genes, through the interaction of their individual effects, produce end-result biology and medical consequences at least in some cases. From a combinatorial argument, it says something awesome about the economy of Darwin's great machine: 22,000 genes seemed puzzlingly small for the hundreds of thousands of different functions our bodies execute like clockwork when we are well. But the combinations of 22,000 things taken two or three or five at a time is a staggeringly big number. Ownership of genetic ideas, gene patents, are going to be shaken hard now. Notice that this is a Business story listed in the science section...all the questions about whether big pharma has enough financial incentives to undertake billion dollar drug discovery get a bit hazy when intellectual property has to be reassessed and companies might have to collaborate the way the genes they "own" have been collaborating. Silver lining?: if the drugs ever do get produced to effect illnesses stemming from networks of genes, maybe no company will have a monopoly and the prices will reflect actual production costs....nah, not in my lifetime.

Sunday, July 01, 2007


Since the "fourth of July" is going to last for about 7 days this year, I feel obliged to say something about patriotism.

We sat in the Koussevitzky Shed at Tanglewood Saturday evening in the audience for the live broadcast of Prairie Home Companion. Garrison Keillor's star guest was James Taylor. We have never seen the show before, not even when it comes to us because the tickets sell out months in advance. But this year some friends who are big fans of the show bought tickets for a van-full of us back in February. We made a day of it with the picnic on lawn and the whole nine yards.

The entire Tanglewood grounds were packed, around 13,000 people according to a Tanglewood employee we know. Keillor could run for president in Massachusetts and get away with it. He really had a knack for working a crowd. His wireless mic must have an incredible range because he walked through the crowd to open the show, all the way to the back of the shed and stood on benches to wave to the sea of folks with lawn tickets.

This crowd was not quite a slice of Massachusetts. Readers of The Boston Globe would have outnumbered readers of the Herald. Keillor got plenty of applause for jokes that mentioned the Redsox in a favorable way. Plenty of other material in the show reflected that Keillor or his writers knew the sympathies of the audience. The one joke that tells much about that knowledge was a skit in which James Taylor's worst secret fear was revealed: that George Bush was a fan.

So I am left to wonder, and hope someone can explain, how Keillor could get that audience on its feet to sing the corniest patriotic tunes [ the show started with the national anthem and later, we did a great job on America The Beautiful] and run a nominal 2 hour show a full hour longer with encores of equally sentimental favorites. These people are, by comparison to the crowd YOU happen to be standing amongst, fairly liberal but you could have heard the same warmth for patriotic songs in Dakota or Kansas. What is patriotism? Its just what you were taught: loving your country, having a good feeling about the place you come from.

I just said two things in that last sentence and first is everybody's claim but in particular conservatives and especially the Bush league: love of country, whatever that means. But the second is exactly what the neocons have sullied and deprived us of: how can we be proud of being a country that tortures people, spies on its citizens and stages deadly invasions of other countries on false premises? Keillor made us feel good but its a kind of parlor trick in which we feel good about a country to be found mostly in songs and memories. At least he can make us feel good. He knows those memories and can spin a yarn that leads us back to them. That Bush and the petty fascists that prop him up have made those old favorites ring more hollow than ever before is something I don't intend to let anyone forget.