RSSCategory: Culture

Lee Camp on losers and real racism in Afghanistan and on militarizing global warming

August 8, 2013 | By | Reply More

Lee Camp has been on a roll for a long time:

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NeoAmerica as Moby Dick

July 8, 2013 | By | Reply More

Chris Hedges sees parallels between Captain Ahab and those who steer modern America.

In our decline, hatred becomes our primary lust, our highest form of patriotism and a form of eroticism. We are made supine by hatred and fear. We deploy vast resources to hunt down jihadists and terrorists, real and phantom. We destroy our civil society in the name of a war on terror. We persecute those, from Julian Assange to Bradley Manning to Edward Snowden, who expose the dark machinations of power. We believe, because we have externalized evil, that we can purify the earth. We are blind to the evil within us. Melville’s description of Ahab is a description of the bankers, corporate boards, politicians, television personalities and generals who through the power of propaganda fill our heads with seductive images of glory and lust for wealth and power. We are consumed with self-induced obsessions that spur us toward self-annihilation.

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U.S. media pummels Edward Snowden with snobbishness

July 6, 2013 | By | Reply More

When they don’t like you, media outlets can crucify you with irrelevant personal attacks. This means that there is always an out for those who don’t really want to report a story. That’s what happened regarding Edward Snowden. He didn’t graduate from high school, though he did pick up a GED. Nonetheless, he has repeatedly been smeared as a “dropout.” FAIR reports on this hatchet job.   It turns out that Snowden is in fine company. Consider this excerpt:

Consider these high-school dropouts: Founding father and genius inventor Benjamin Franklin. Founding Father and First President George Washington. The founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale. American aviation pioneers Orville and Wilbur Wright. The first lady of civil rights, Rosa Parks, who refused a Montgomery Alabama bus driver’s order to give up her seat to a white passenger. The man who gave the world its most popular chocolate bar, Milton Hershey. Before he would become America’s most beloved author, Mark Twain left school at the age of 12 to become a printer’s apprentice. The great man who saved the Union, Abraham Lincoln.

There are many others, including Bill Cosby, and presumably Jesus. But as we’ve seen, calling someone a “dropout” is a selectively used weapon, not a truly relevant aspect to most stories. To compound things, many of the smartest people I know do not have college diplomas, yet they too are treated miserably by a society that seeks quick, easy and often wrong answers to the question of who is “smart” or worthy of respect. This is a travesty for all of us, credentialed or otherwise.

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Tip for folding shirts in 2 seconds

June 21, 2013 | By | 1 Reply More

I saw this quirky video, tried it and like it. Truly, 2 seconds to fold a shirt.

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Matt Taibbi puts the spotlight on the rating agencies

June 20, 2013 | By | Reply More

The financial meltdown could never have happened if the ratings agencies hadn’t rated crap loans as excellent. It would have brought the entire corrupt system to a halt. Matt Taibbi is whipping these culprits with some stunning evidence that has recently come to light.

Thanks to a mountain of evidence gathered for a pair of major lawsuits, documents that for the most part have never been seen by the general public, we now know that the nation’s two top ratings companies, Moody’s and S&P, have for many years been shameless tools for the banks, willing to give just about anything a high rating in exchange for cash.

In incriminating e-mail after incriminating e-mail, executives and analysts from these companies are caught admitting their entire business model is crooked.

“Lord help our fucking scam . . . this has to be the stupidest place I have worked at,” writes one Standard & Poor’s executive. “As you know, I had difficulties explaining ‘HOW’ we got to those numbers since there is no science behind it,” confesses a high-ranking S&P analyst. “If we are just going to make it up in order to rate deals, then quants [quantitative analysts] are of precious little value,” complains another senior S&P man. “Let’s hope we are all wealthy and retired by the time this house of card[s] falters,” ruminates one more.

Here’s Taibbi’s conclusion:

What’s amazing about this is that even without a mass of ugly documentary evidence proving their incompetence and corruption, these firms ought to be out of business. Even if they just accidentally sucked this badly, that should be enough to persuade the markets to look to a different model, different companies, different ratings methodologies.

But we know now that it was no accident. What happened to the ratings agencies during the financial crisis, and what is likely still happening within their walls, is a phenomenon as old as business itself. Given a choice between money and integrity, they took the money. Which wouldn’t be quite so bad if they weren’t in the integrity business.

This is an engaging and detailed article that will leave you frustrated that it’s business as usual for the ratings agencies. Excellent reporting and phenomenal writing by Taibbi.

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The other side of parenting

May 27, 2013 | By | Reply More

I’ve enjoyed being a parent, though it has sometimes been a lot of work. I’m proud of who my two daughters are turning out to be. They teach me many things, including humility.

Recently I read this post at Huffpo, an extraordinarily sad post, or at least that is how I reacted. This website features the comments of people for whom parenting is a sad, and sometimes dismal experience. It includes a “confessional” where people often openly express their dark thoughts regarding their own children. Here’s the post, and here’s the “Scary Mommy Confessional.”

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Bernie Sanders sums up what we can learn from Denmark

May 27, 2013 | By | Reply More

At Reader Supported News, Bernie Sanders notes that Denmark and the United States are very different countries, but insists that there are lessons the U.S. can learn from Denmark:

While it is difficult to become very rich in Denmark no one is allowed to be poor.

Health care in Denmark is universal, free of charge and high quality. . . . They spend about 11 percent of their GDP on health care. We spend almost 18 percent.

Danes understand that the first few years of a person’s life are the most important in terms of intellectual and emotional development. . . [M]others get four weeks of paid leave before giving birth. They get another 14 weeks afterward. . . . [B]oth parents have the right to 32 more weeks of leave during the first nine years of a child’s life. The state covers three-quarters of the cost of child care, more for lower-income workers.

[V]irtually all higher education in Denmark is free.

In Denmark, adequate leisure and family time are considered an important part of having a good life. Every worker in Denmark is entitled to five weeks of paid vacation plus 11 paid holidays. The United States is the only major country that does not guarantee its workers paid vacation time. The result is that fewer than half of lower-paid hourly wage workers in our country receive any paid vacation days.

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New Pope jumps over a very low bar

May 22, 2013 | By | 1 Reply More

Non-believers have been villainized for so long by religious leaders that it leaves us flummoxed when a religious leader fails to take an unfair swipe at us. The religious leader I’m referring to is Pope Francis, and what he said was resoundingly refreshingly ordinary, though it sounded so good coming from the leader of the Catholic Church:

“Atheists should be seen as good people if they do good, Pope Francis has said in his latest urging that people of all religions, and none, work together.

“Just do good, and we’ll find a meeting point,” the pope said in a hypothetical reply to the hypothetical comment: “But I don’t believe. I’m an atheist.”

The new Pope has thus jumped over a very low bar. One small step for a man–one giant leap for a religious leader.

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A breast is a breast is a breast

May 17, 2013 | By | Reply More

According to PolicyMic,

Ladies of New York , you are free to walk bare-breasted through the city! New York City’s 34,000 police officers have been instructed that, should they encounter a woman in public who is shirtless but obeying the law, they should not arrest her. This is a good step towards gender parity in public spaces.

So, a woman’s bare breast should be treated no differently than a man’s breast under the law. Nonetheless, the fact that this NY law is so contentious (or at least newsworthy), means that a breast is not the same as an arm or a leg, especially a woman’s breast. I explore the existential connotations of breasts here.

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