RSSCategory: Culture

Only in America

July 21, 2012 | By | 4 Replies More

http://www.raygregory.com/cartoons/NRA.html

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The importance of repairability

July 20, 2012 | By | Reply More
The importance of repairability

At Treehugger, repairability of consumer gadgets is presented as not only a good idea but a consumer right.

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Morgan Freeman’s solution to the race problem: Stop talking about it.

July 12, 2012 | By | 2 Replies More
Morgan Freeman’s solution to the race problem: Stop talking about it.

Morgan Freeman doesn’t want a Black History Month because “Black History is American History.”

On Sixty Minutes, Mike Wallace asked Freeman how we could solve America’s race problem? Freeman’s answer: “Stop talking about it. I’m going to stop calling you a white man, and I’m going to ask you to stop calling me a black man.”

I like this approach immensely, since there is no scientific basis for “race.” I also offer a slightly different suggestion: All of us should acknowledge that we are all from Africa. Whenever people ask me about my ancestors, I tell I’m “African,” because it is true, despite my outward appearance.

Specialists in race, both geneticists and anthropologists, maintain that modern ideas of race are . . . primarily historical constructions that reflect the pattern of contact between previously distinct populations in the colonial period.

Given recent findings, though, I shouldn’t merely say that I’m “African.” I should add, “With a touch of Neanderthal.” And I should add one more thing to be even more accurate: I’m a descendant of many other critters, including sponges, fungi and bacteria.

It’s amazing how so many of us still put any emphasis on “race.” It’s time to admit that it was a ridiculous category to create in the first place, and that it has caused only mischief ever since. The characteristics associated with “race” are a infinitesimally small part of what it means to be a physical human being. It’s time to bring our culture in line with our physical reality.

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The gods swat back the corporations who think they own the Fourth of July

July 7, 2012 | By | 3 Replies More
The gods swat back the corporations who think they own the Fourth of July

Last year I expressed great frustration with corporations who have no compunctions hoisting their own profit-tool logos on the same flag poles as American Flags. And they choose to do this on America’s most holy of civic holidays. I first noticed this crass display last year at the biggest Fourth of July celebration in Fair St. Louis.

What’s the problem with allowing corporate logos to flap in the wind right next to Old Glory? I can’t think of a bigger insult to the People of the United States at a time when big money, mostly corporate money, has essentially purchased Congress, divesting ordinary people of the ability to run their own country. If there is anything that the Fourth of July is supposed to represent it is the notion that the governed should be self-governed (but do also check out this excellent recent article by Mark Tiedemann, who considers what it really means to be patriotic).

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What Being An American Means To Me

July 3, 2012 | By | 3 Replies More
What Being An American Means To Me

I am not given to setting out pronouncements like this very often, but in light of the last several years I thought it might be worthwhile to do so on the occasion of the 236th anniversary of our declared independence.

I don’t think in terms of demonstrating my love of country. My affection for my home is simply a given, a background hum, a constant, foundational reality that is reflexively true. This is the house in which I grew up. I know its walls, its ceiling, its floors, the steps to the attic, the verge, and every shadow that moves with the sun through all the windows. I live here; its existence contours my thinking, is the starting place of my feelings.

The house itself is an old friend, a reliable companion, a welcoming space, both mental and physical, that I can no more dislike or reject than I can stop breathing.

But some of the furniture…that’s different.

I am an American.

I don’t have to prove that to anyone. I carry it with me, inside, my cells are suffused with it. I do not have to wear a flag on my lapel, hang one in front of my house, or publicly pledge an oath to it for the convenience of those who question my political sentiments. Anyone who says I should or ought or have to does not understand the nature of what they request or the substance of my refusal to accommodate them. They do not understand that public affirmations like that become a fetish and serve only to divide, to make people pass a test they should—because we are free—never have to take.

[More . . . ]

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Why rich kids hate their parents

June 28, 2012 | By | Reply More
Why rich kids hate their parents

I’m not convinced that most rich kids hate their parents, but there are presumably some who do. I also know many non-rich kids who don’t get along with their parents. Franco Lombardo says many rich kids hate their parents in his new book, “The Great White Elephant: Why Rich Kids Hate Their Parents.” Lombardo bases his claim on the failure of 70% of rich families to pass their wealth-making ability onto the next generation intact. This reminds me of a proverb:

The first generation in a family makes money (goes from rags to riches); the second generation holds or keeps the money; and the third generation squanders or loses the money (and so goes back to rags).

In this report by CNBC, he gives three reasons:

First, wealthy parents don’t say “no” enough. “A child grows up with a sense that they get whatever they want,” Lombardo says. “When they go out into the world and the world tells them ‘no,” they’re angry. And they resent their parents.” The second cause is time. Wealthy parents are often absent parents, and the kids feel abandoned. . . . The third reason is society , , , makes fun of rich kids. So parents tell their kids at an early age to hide their wealth. When the kids grow up, they feel that a big part of their identity has to remain hidden – and they blame their parents.

These reasons make some sense to me, but I like to see some numbers quantifying this supposed hate. I’d like to know who we “know” that rich kids hate the parents any more than non-rich kids hate their parents.

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JP Morgan continues to slurp at the public trough

June 23, 2012 | By | Reply More
JP Morgan continues to slurp at the public trough

According to Bloomberg:

JPMorgan receives a government subsidy worth about $14 billion a year, according to research published by the International Monetary Fund and our own analysis of bank balance sheets. The money helps the bank pay big salaries and bonuses. More important, it distorts markets, fueling crises such as the recent subprime-lending disaster and the sovereign-debt debacle that is now threatening to destroy the euro and sink the global economy . . . To estimate the dollar value of the subsidy in the U.S., we multiplied it by the debt and deposits of 18 of the country’s largest banks, including JPMorgan, Bank of America Corp. and Citigroup Inc. The result: about $76 billion a year. The number is roughly equivalent to the banks’ total profits over the past 12 months, or more than the federal government spends every year on education.

On his June 22, 2012 show, Bill Moyers discussed this insane state of affairs, and the rampant corruption and criminality of Wall Street with Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone and Yves Smith of Naked Capitalism.

Yves Smith offers this as part of the solution to the ongoing problem with large Wall Street banks:

BILL MOYERS: What do you mean when you say banks should be more like a utility?

YVES SMITH: Banks, more than any other business, more than military contractors, live off the government. They depend on government backstopping. They exist only by way of government issued licenses, which if you had open entry you’d see much lower fees. And they get some confidence from the public from the fact that they are regulated. Oh, and the most important thing is they have access to–

MATT TAIBBI: The Federal Reserve.

YVES SMITH: –the Federal Reserve.

MATT TAIBBI: They’re getting huge amounts of free money.

YVES SMITH: Well, not just the free money. The Federal Reserve basically guarantees the payment system. You know, that’s the really critical architecture that banks control is that, you know, we write checks to each other. We have credit cards. They clear through banks.

But the fact that banks can exchange money with each other confidently is because the Fed stands behind that. So there’s a much– there’s another layer of Fed backstopping beyond what we think of the way they step in in a crisis or the way they’re now intervening to help the banks. So the fact that these institutions really depend in a very fundamental way on government support means they don’t have any right to the upside.

I mean, they should really be paid like public servants. I mean, I’m not kidding. I mean, and if they had been, if the pay had been ratcheted down after the crisis, I would have had a lot more sympathy for them, even if they just behaved for a couple of years. You know, they were bailed out. And then in 2009 the industry went and paid itself record bonuses, higher than 2007 instead of rebuilding their balance sheets. I mean, this was just a slap in the face for the public.

BILL MOYERS: And there’s no shame.

YVES SMITH: No.

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How to make an island

June 19, 2012 | By | 1 Reply More
How to make an island

Do you need to get away from it all? Do you crave an island of your own? Richie Sowa was in that position. Rather than find an island or buy one, he decided to make his own. The foundation of his island is consists of empty plastic water bottles.

Sowa is now growing his own bananas, coconuts, spinach, almonds and tomatoes. In the video below, he says that he has everything he wants. Although his island is currently in Mexico, he plans to keep increasing the size of the island, until he sets out to sea.

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Why is Jerry Sandusky News?

June 19, 2012 | By | 6 Replies More
Why is Jerry Sandusky News?

I was sitting in the barber chair this morning, where they had on some national news show that spent the entire time I was there discussing the ongoing trial of (alleged) pedophile Jerry Sandusky. I’ve been hearing about this on news stations for months. They are spending as long on the nightly news discussing this trial as they do on the collapse of the European economies or the coups in various major oil-producing nations.

I am truly puzzled about the coverage. There are likely several pedophiles on trial any given day. Why are they not newsworthy? Is it because he is a coach? Many of them are. Was it because he was a winning coach?

I just don’t understand why this one (alleged) pedophile is as newsworthy as wars deposing dictators to replace them with democratically elected Islamist regimes. Are both events shaping the course of civilization?

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