Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Democracy denied: millions of American denied right to vote

Al jazerra has the story here.  the story is accurate.  How does this make the USA look in the middle east?  we invade Iraq and Afghanistan to bring democracy, only we don't have democracy in our own country.  We are the only country with an alleged democracy that does not have a parliamentary system of government.  even when we create new gov's like in iraq and afghanistan, we import a parliamentary system. We have a strange kind of democracy in the US, and the resistance to same day voter registration, the resistance to allowing all Americans to vote, the resistance of allowing the District of Columbia representation in Congress, is hypocritical.

Monday, October 29, 2012

birth defects in Fallujah

here is the story.  The battle for Fallujah was intense, and used much depleted uranium in bombs.  uranium tipped bombs-missiles can penetrate metal easier than non uranium tipped.  of course, radiation is left behind.  the irony of the Iraq war is that WMD's turned out not to be there, until we entered, and we brought WMD's into Iraq in the form of depleted uranium and white phosphorus.  here is another resource about the destruction we brought to Iraq that is long lasting.

The least we can do after we introduce toxins to a nation is to clean up after ourselves.  in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, there is lots of unexploded ordinance, land mines, and left over toxins from agent orange.  of course, we didnt put in all the mines.  but the least we should do is to help those countries clean up the unexploded ordinance.

its so easy to drop bombs, much harder to clean up afterward.

No doubt the battle for Fallujah took many lives of US soldiers.  It was not clear however if the iraqi men who were fighting in Fallujah were Al queda terrorists, of if they were Iraqi men defending their city.

What a mess.  Now there has been a significant increase in birth defects in Fallujah and other locations across Iraq.  This will effect an entire generation of people.

And there is a video game called "Six days in Fallujah," a real shoot em up game where you can kill terrorists.  making money off the misery of these people.  off the deaths of our own soldiers.


Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Human Stain by Philip Roth

I have read this book before, and it is fantastic.  Roth rails against academia, against shallow political correctness, against racism, against sexism, against violence.  I enjoy the main character, Silky Silk, because he works hard to create his own existence, his own identity, in a very existential fashion. Contrasted with the empty, shallow whining of his colleagues, his marginal students, Professor Silk wants to live life on his own terms.  i remember the title of a biography of James Baldwin (my master's thesis) "The furious passage of james Baldwin"  this book could be called the furious passage of Coleman Silk.

It was made as a movie.

It reminds me of the self righteous faculty at SRU.  the shallow feminism.  the smug condescension of the deans and provost and president.  Go along, get along.  Embrace the popular metaphors, the popular myths. Live the illusion.

But Coleman Silk wants to live life on his own terms.  he is a hero.  misunderstood by many, even his own children.  but the alternative?  to live as a black man, to survive academia as a black man in the 50's, 60's, 70's ?  Would he have become a professor of classics?  would he have married who he married?  Silk was born into a racially obsessive culture, he was a brilliant student, gifted athlete, but he was black (or should we  say light almond?)  Like Thomas Jefferson's children, he decided life would be easier, and more successful, a a white man, as a middle eastern looking Jew.  He could live out his potential better by passing himself off as jewish.

But jews are not immune to suffering from racism.  and men in academia are also subject to being reduced as a cultural stereotype.

I was once accused of being part of a "male conspiracy" at SRU - yeah, that was one reason i retired early, what absolute bullshit. but some people thrive on the petty opportunities for grandstanding, for making accusations that make them look superior in some "goldfish bowl" way.

Coleman Silk was true to himself, as he defined himself.  great book.  i think Roth's best book.

Political Scientists predict Romney win

the article is here.  these two political scientists are legitimate, and their economic model is surprisingly accurate.  political scientists know that economics matters more than politics.  This goes back to research in the 1960's where policy differences among the American states were explained (mathematically) by the economic conditions of states, and not so much on the unique political culture variables of the states.  But something is lacking here.  yes, their model predicts the last 8 presidential races.  but that does not mean that extraneous variables, not included in their model, were not at play.  In 2004, for example, Bush relied on fear, on commander in chief issues, on boots on the ground feelings among the voting public.  He also had his operatives pass out campaign literature in churches in Ohio the sunday before election day:  he used christianity, the prostestant evangelical version, to get votes.  In 2000, the economic condition was good for gore; however, there was election day ballot problems in florida, and the Nader campaign also took away votes.  I would have to say that these two political scientists were lucky in the past.  I mean, a sample of 8 elections isnt enough for me to be convinced, and they leave out important variables (such as the church stuffing, the fear mongering....)

Besides, politics does matter:  i found in the case of Medicaid reform, that the political culture of a state was a better predictor of reform success than economics:  oregon and massachusetts had effective reform, due in large part to their political culture.  Both these states now have affordable, accessible, and quality health care programs:  and all their citizens are covered by some kind of plan.

If these two professors are correct, however, we will be having a President the next 4 years who wears funny looking religious underwear, and believes that God talked to a farmer and have him a religious text printed on the inside of a hat.  Then again, people believe that some jewish guy lost in the desert climbed up a mountain and received commandments from God written on stone.  so maybe mormonism isnt that weird.  but the underwear stuff is just too weird for me.  I can see wearing a kippah to cover the head out of modesty before God, but the underwear stuff (i mean no one can see it!) is just too weird.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

six toed Halle Berry

so we all know that the Nihilist in Big Lebowski had only 9 toes, ("....nihilist with a nine toed girlfriend!"  Walter says during the epic fight scene where he bites off the nihilist's ear, I guess that makes him a one eared nihilist with a nine toed girlfriend....) anyway,  here is a pic of Halle Berry with 6 toes.

This is not a "defect" - our hominoid ancestors had 6 fingers and 6 toes.  It is a dominant trait of humans.  Still is.  however, in a rare moment of adaptation, the recessive trait of 5 fingers and 5 toes is now prevalent. Not dominant, but prevalent.  every once in a while, a child is born with one dominant 6 finger or 6 toe gene, and exhibits what is a dominant human trait.  Usually, it is amputated right after birth.  In Halle's case, it was not, so she has a 6th toe on one foot.  which is dominant, normal for humans, but unusual since most of us have two recessive genes for 5 finger 5 toe expression.

have i cleared that up?