Archive for August, 2010

More quotes from Mike Baker

| August 31, 2010 | 2 Replies
More quotes from Mike Baker

Mike Baker is one of our repeated visitors here at DI. He kindly sent me his long list of quotations he has been gathering. I published part of Mike’s collection here. In this post, I’m published a second set of quotes Mike has gathered. I must admit many of these quotes regarding the role and power of government leave me in a dark and uneasy mood. It was oftentimes surprising when I saw the names of the well-known people who uttered these ominous but thought-provoking words. It’s better to know than not know, right? With that in mind, here they are:

“Liberalism is trust of the people tempered by prudence. Conservatism is distrust of the people tempered by fear.” ~ William E. Gladstone

The radical of one century is the conservative of the next. The radical invents the views. When he has worn them out, the conservative adopts them. ~ Mark Twain

The real rulers of Washington are Invisible and exercise power from behind the scenes. – Justice Felix Frankfurter – US Supreme Court Justice

“The powers of financial capitalism had [a] far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert by secret agreements arrived at in frequent private meetings and conferences.”
— Quote from Caroll Quigley’s Tragedy and Hope, Chapter 20

“I am a most unhappy man. I have unwittingly ruined my country. A great industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit. Our system of credit is concentrated. The growth of the nation, therefore, and all our activities are in the hands of a few men. We have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled and dominated Governments in the world – no longer a Government of free opinion, no longer a Government by conviction and vote of the majority, but a Government by the opinion and duress of small groups of dominant men.” –Woodrow Wilson, 28th President

… the 20th century has been characterized by three developments of great political importance: The growth of democracy, the growth of corporate power, and the growth of corporate propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy.
~Australian social scientist Alex Carey

“The two greatest obstacles to democracy in the United States are, first, the widespread delusion among the poor that we have a democracy, and second, the chronic terror among the rich, lest we get it.” [1941] Edward Dowling

A nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves. ~ Edward R. Murrow

When the Government fears the people, there is Liberty . When the people fear the Government there is Tyranny. – Unknown

We’re not a democracy. It’s a terrible misunderstanding and a slander to the idea of democracy to call us that. In reality, we’re a plutocracy: a government by the wealthy.” ~ Ramsey Clark , former U.S. Attorney General

The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been two hundred years.
These nations have progressed through this sequence:
From bondage to spiritual faith;
from spiritual faith to great courage;
from courage to liberty;
from liberty to abundance;
from abundance to selfishness;
from selfishness to complacency;
from complaceny to apathy;
from apathy to dependence;
from dependency back again into bondage.
Sir Alex Fraser Tyler: (1742-1813) Scottish jurist and historian

[More . . . ]

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9,236 gallons of oil

| August 31, 2010 | Reply
9,236 gallons of oil

I recently visited the website of Rocky Mountain Institute, where I learned that the United States consumes nearly 19 million barrels of oil per day. That sounds like a lot of oil, but how can I put it into a number that I can understand?

Consider, that there are 42 gallons per barrel. I decided to calculate how many gallons American consume each second. The answer? Americans consume 9,236 gallons of oil each second. Consider that an Olympic sized swimming pool holds about 660,000 gallons. Thus, Americans use oil at such a high rate that we could almost fill up an Olympic sized swimming pool every minute, day and night, 365 days a year.

Much of that oil is burned for transportation. What can we do in the transportation sector to use oil more efficiently? As individuals, we can use less by walking, biking, using public transportation, carpooling, combining trips and making sure that your engine is tuned and your tires are fully inflated. No Impact Man Colin Beavan offers a free manual full of ideas (register here). Here are 365 more suggestions.

RMI suggests an additional way to cut back our use of oil: by using “feebates.”

The basic idea of a feebate is simple. Buyers of inefficient vehicles are levied a surcharge (the “fee”), while buyers of efficient vehicles are awarded a rebate (the “bate”). By affecting the purchase cost up front, feebates speed the production and adoption of more efficient vehicles, saving oil, insecurity, cost, and carbon.

One form of a feebate program has been in use in France, where vehicles now have the lowest carbon emissions in the European Union. To read more about feebates, see “Feebates: A Key to Breaking U.S. Oil Addiction.”

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Standardized tests are biased against unmotivated students

| August 30, 2010 | Reply
Standardized tests are biased against unmotivated students

The Onion continues to be on top of breaking news. This time, the story concerns the fact that standardized tests discriminate against students who don’t care about schoolwork:


In The Know: Are Tests Biased Against Students Who Don’t Give A Shit?

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The Onion: “Man already knows everything he needs to know about Muslims.”

| August 30, 2010 | 8 Replies
The Onion:  “Man already knows everything he needs to know about Muslims.”

The Onion has issued a new report from Salina, Kansas:

Local man Scott Gentries told reporters Wednesday that his deliberately limited grasp of Islamic history and culture was still more than sufficient to shape his views of the entire Muslim world. . . “I know all I’m going to let myself know.”

Here’s the rest of the story.

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It’s STILL the economy, stupid!

| August 30, 2010 | 4 Replies
It’s STILL the economy, stupid!

Former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich has it right.

Democrats should propose eliminating payroll taxes on the first $20,000 of income, and making up the revenue loss by applying payroll taxes to incomes above $250,000. This would give the economy an immediate boost by adding to the paychecks of just about every working American. 80 percent of Americans pay more in payroll taxes than they do in income taxes. And because lower-income people would get most of the benefit, it’s likely to be spent.

It would also give employers an extra incentive to hire because they’d save on their share of the payroll tax. And most of the incentive would be directed toward hiring lower-income workers – who have taken the biggest hit on jobs and pay during the recession.

It wouldn’t add to the deficit. Lost revenues would be made up by applying payroll taxes to income exceeding $250,000. This is certainly fair. As it is now, the Social Security payroll tax doesn’t apply to any income over $106,000. Having the tax kick in again at $250,000 would draw on the top 3 percent of earners, who (as noted) now rake in a larger portion of total income than they have in more than 80 years.

Call it the People’s Tax Cut, and let Republicans explain why they’re against it.”

The other ways that we could improve the economy are simple, may be targeted and could lead to long term employment by many of the some 15 million Americans currently out of work. I recommend the following proposals:

- Expansion of the federal bi-partisan HIRE program which has led to many new job hires by a cross-section of businesses in America.

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A new site for Biblical scholarship?

| August 30, 2010 | Reply
A new site for Biblical scholarship?

I have to admit, I enjoy reading about the gaming scene (I live my geek vicariously).

I was therefore delighted/amazed/surprised/dumbfounded to read about a new MMO game called The Bible Online
warning – extremely slow server
The site describes the game as follows

<The Bible Online: Ch1. The Heroes> is based on the first book of the Bible, Genesis. Players can meet and play the real heroes of Genesis, Abraham and his descendants. The game is designed for users to actually experience the Book of Genesis by fulfilling quests of Abraham, which is based on the true stories of the Genesis.
As a MMORTS, players are to lead their tribe, build buildings, maintain resources and engage in warfare with other tribes. However, players do not stay in one place, but will go on a quest to go to the Promised Land. Players will lead Abraham’s tribe from Ur to Haran and finally to Canaan.

Most game sites are very excited, but confidently expect the game to be ‘adult only’ due to the graphic nature of the sex, violence, and general debauchery inherent in the source material.

[H/T - Destructoid and Penny Arcade]

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People really do play by the rules!

| August 30, 2010 | Reply
People really do play by the rules!

Studies recently completed at Washington State University suggest that we really, really don’t like non-conformists, people who don’t play by the rules, regardless of whether the outcome is positive or negative.

The studies gave participants—introductory psychology students—pools of points that they could keep or give up for an immediate reward of meal service vouchers. Participants were also told that giving up points would improve the group’s chance of receiving a monetary reward.

In reality, the participants were playing in fake groups of five. Most of the fictitious four would make seemingly fair swaps of one point for each voucher, but one of the four would often make lopsided exchanges—greedily giving up no points and taking a lot of vouchers, or unselfishly giving up a lot of points and taking few vouchers.

As expected, participants didn’t want to work with the greedy players who took more than they shared. Unexpectedly, they were also eager to get rid of the unselfish players – who consistently gave more than they received.

The researchers found that

unselfish colleagues come to be resented because they “raise the bar” for what is expected of everyone. As a result, workers feel the new standard will make everyone else look bad.

They frequently said, “the person is making me look bad” or is breaking the rules. Occasionally, they would suspect the person had ulterior motives.

It didn’t seem to matter that the overall welfare of the group or the task at hand is better served by someone’s unselfish behavior.

The do-gooders are seen as deviant rule breakers. It’s as if they’re giving away Monopoly money so someone can stay in the game, irking other players to no end.

I think that this merely demonstrates that the majority of people are generally (small c) conservative, and want to stay within well defined boundaries.

In my opinion, this respect for the rules is one of the major foundations upon which religion builds, and which is (also) appropriated by authoritarians for their personal gain. Hooking into our sense of fair-play and our inherent tribalism seems to be a winning strategy for those who would define the rules for their personal gain.

Define the rules, and the people will enforce them for you. No secret police needed!

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Dangerous Intersection now available on your smart phone

| August 29, 2010 | Reply
Dangerous Intersection now available on your smart phone

We have now upgraded Dangerous Intersection so that you can access all of our articles and comments (and submit comments) on your smart phone.

I’d like to give some recognition to two entities and one person that/who have made this advance possible. First of all, this website runs on a WordPress platform. This is excellent and free open source software has been developed by hundreds of community volunteers (how does Free Market Fundamentalism explain this massive effort?). For the new mobile capability, we are using a new release, WPtouch Pro 2.0, by Bravenewcode. For those of you who run your own WordPress sites, WPtouch allows incredible functionality for about $30 per website. If you visit DI on your smartphone, I suspect that you’ll agree. I’d also like to thank Josh Timmons, a St. Louis computer consultant who tirelessly maintains our server and provides me with immense amounts of technical know-how, much of it in the wee hours.

For those of you who use iPhones, you can also make DI the equivalent of an App. Simply visit this site by entering the URL (http://dangerousintersection.org/ ). Once you see the site on your phone, press the “+” button at the bottom of your screen and choose “Add to Home Screen.” The next screen allows you to choose a shortened name for our site (I chose “DI”). Then press “Add.” From then on, you can access DI directly from your iPhone home screen (you needn’t go through Safari any longer).

I don’t want to be presumptuous. I hope that your finding this site to be thought-provoking in a civil way. To the extent that this is true, then, see you in the future, either on your computer or on your phone.

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Moral conduct in the absence of commandments.

| August 29, 2010 | 12 Replies
Moral conduct in the absence of commandments.

“Thou shalt love puppies.”

Does the above Commandment explain why people dutifully gravitate to homeless puppies, adopt them, feed them and love them? Of course not, because there is no such commandment.

Nor are there any other abstract moral principles requiring us to love puppies. We love puppies because the urge to love small tame animals is deep in our bones. We love puppies because we are built to love (contrary to those who claim that life is fundamentally dog-eat-dog — Consider also, that the “struggle for existence” is only a conceptual metaphor with limited application). Our human bodies are pre-rigged to take care of cute little mammals, especially when they appear to love us back. We would love puppies even if there were a commandment telling us to NOT love puppies.

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