Archive for February 24th, 2010

The ugliness and the hope

| February 24, 2010 | Reply
The ugliness and the hope

Jeremy Rifkin has a few things to say at Huffpo. First, the problem:

In a nation that has come to think of human nature as competitive, even predatory, self serving, acquisitive and utilitarian, is it any wonder that those very values have led to a “winner take all” syndrome in the marketplace in which the rich get richer while everyone else becomes marginalized, and the well-being of the larger community, including the biosphere, becomes eroded?

And then the hope:

If we listen very closely, we can hear the whisper of a new dream in the making, one based on what youth around the world are beginning to call “quality of life”. In this new world, the American Dream seems almost provincial, even quaint, and entirely unsuited for a generation that is beginning to extend its empathic sensibility beyond national identities, to include the whole of humanity and the entirety of the planet as their extended community. If the American Dream served as the gold standard for the era of national markets and nation-state governments, the dream of “quality of life” becomes the standard for the emerging biosphere era. . . The empathic civilization looms on the horizon.

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“The greatest preventable holocaust in the history of planet Earth”

| February 24, 2010 | 6 Replies
“The greatest preventable holocaust in the history of planet Earth”

“The greatest preventable holocaust in the history of planet Earth”

That’s the judgment on what awaits us from Michael Ruppert, in a new documentary entitled “Collapse“.
The age of fossil fuels has been a blip in the scale of human history. We’ve only been using them a few centuries, and yet we are unable to remember a time when fossil fuels were not abundant and cheap. That age is now over. Recent experience has taught us that the end of this age was heralded by massive price spikes and has already caused the greatest economic dislocation since the Great Depression, or possibly even including it. Given that the growth of human population has so neatly coincided with the growth in the production of fossil fuels, human population now faces a analogous decline on the far side of the bell curve.

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Take a nap to get smarter

| February 24, 2010 | 3 Replies
Take a nap to get smarter

This is a post to complement Huffington’s “sleep challenge.” U.C. Berkeley reports this good news for afternoon nappers:

In the recent UC Berkeley sleep study, 39 healthy young adults were divided into two groups — nap and no-nap. At noon, all the participants were subjected to a rigorous learning task intended to tax the hippocampus, a region of the brain that helps store fact-based memories. Both groups performed at comparable levels.

At 2 p.m., the nap group took a 90-minute siesta while the no-nap group stayed awake. Later that day, at 6 p.m., participants performed a new round of learning exercises. Those who remained awake throughout the day became worse at learning. In contrast, those who napped did markedly better and actually improved in their capacity to learn. Matthew Walker, assistant psychology professor, has found that a nap clears the brain to absorb new information.

These findings reinforce the researchers’ hypothesis that sleep is needed to clear the brain’s short-term memory storage and make room for new information . . .

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GOP Budget/Strategy Goes From Nothing to Worse

| February 24, 2010 | Reply
GOP Budget/Strategy Goes From Nothing to Worse

The Republican Party has decided upon a strategy of complete denunciation, obfuscation and obstruction as its best tack to regaining political hegemony in American politics. The Obama administration’s stimulus bill was passed to seek to control the fallout of the impact of the financial crisis upon America.

The president sought bi-partisan support for the bill that included (in my opinion) too many GOP style tax breaks. The president’s bill received three Republican votes. But, the fact that only three GOP votes were cast in favor of the stimulus bill in both chambers of Congress has not kept Republicans from touting the benefits of the Obama stimulus plan to their districts and states. The Republicans then voted against the president’s budget without posing any alternative, while claiming they had an alternative with no numbers! And, the Republican no-numbers budget had even larger deficits than the budget proposed by President Obama. The Republican alternative to Democratic healthcare proposals was nothing; which was endorsed by the minority whip Rep. Roy Bunt (R-MO).

The Republicans voted against an equal pay bill that was needed after the conservative US Supreme Court threw out a claim of a woman for equal pay because she did not file suit when she was hired some 30 years ago, but after she left the company where she had worked, only then findng out she hadn’t been paid as much as men who had worked for her. The Republicans voted against a bill to allow the government to withhold funds from companies that refused to allow female civilian contractors of American companies in war zones to file suit against their co-workers and employers for multiple forcible rapes by male co-workers while on the job overseas. The Republicans voted against “pay as you go” which required that as you increased spending for any item in the budget you had to make a specific tax increase or budget cut to fund any increase. This legislation was in place when President Clinton balanced the budget and there were “surpluses as far as you cans see.” The Republicans filibustered the Democratic defense spending bill. The Republicans voted against troops and Veterans Affairs bills

supported by Democrats.

The Republicans even voted against a bill co-sponsored by Republicans to set up a bi-partisan commission of the deficit so as to reign in government spending (they did this because President Obama supported the legislation). After taking months to “negotiate” a Senate healthcare reform bill, Republicans then said they weren’t going to vote for their own bill. Republicans have criticized President Obama for the failed Christmas bombing but, many voted against the bill to install the costly full body scan equipment for US airports which would likely detect such bombers. Perhaps the Republicans will oppose President Obama’s proposed bank tax to fund the bailout of the banks. I wonder?

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