RSSCategory: Culture

Underlying assumptions of popular board games

November 27, 2011 | By | Reply More
Underlying assumptions of popular board games

Huffpo offers this broad view of what motivates the competition regarding some of the most popular board games. For example, the game of Monopoly encourages players to become the 1%.

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Mark your calendars for the Anti-Fourth-of-July

November 26, 2011 | By | 6 Replies More

Mark your calendars for The Fourth-of-January, the antipode of The Fourth-of-July.

The Fourth-of-January will be a new national date of remembrance.  This new occasion will be about the United States of America, but there won’t be any fireworks and it’s not going to be a happy occasion. In fact, as happy as the Fourth-of-July is, the Fourth-of-January will be the diametric opposite. Citizens will somberly recognize the Fourth-of-January by gathering together to watch mock funerals wind through their city centers, where they will mourn the death of democracy. An American flag will be placed prominently on the hearse, serving as a symbol of the deceased.

On the Fourth-of-January, American citizens will actually bury these American Flags to recognize the fact that ordinary citizens of the United States have no  meaningful input in how their federal government is run. At the destination of the funeral procession, citizens will carve these words onto the tombs:

Here lies Old Glory, destroyed by Citizens United and by the unwillingness politicians to pass a Constitutional Amendment and enabling laws to remove private money from the American political system.

The Fourth-of-January will be a day when people consciously refrain from reading The United

States Constitution, lest they become deluded that federal politicians are public servants of ordinary citizens.  It will be a day when, instead, mourners read proclamations that the existence of vast amounts of money in the political system has made it impossible to meaningfully debate even the simplest of political issues. It will be a day when Americans recognize that big corporate money has turned America’s politicians into  psychopaths.  It will be a day when Americans remind themselves that their every year their politicians spend more tax dollars to air-condition soldiers’ tents in the Middle East than they allocate for the total budget of NASA, to explore the mysteries of outer space.

The Fourth-of-January will be a date when Americans consider  renaming of all of their major holidays based on fact that quest for corporate profits now dominate all celebrations, and that America’s news media celebrates this fact. On the Fourth-of-January, Americans will recognize that, contrary to the will of the People, America has become unstoppably addicted to warmongering, and that it has become a nation that doesn’t treasure safe food, medicine, chemicals, air and water.  It has become a nation that allows big banks, fossil fuel companies, telecoms and insurance companies to write national laws that cause massive financial damages to the People. On this new Day of Remembrance, Americans will pause for a moment of silence to recognize the brutalizing and almost unstoppable financial and political power of America’s corporate-military-prison-industrial-Complex.

The Fourth-of-January will recognize that laws passed contrary to the wishes of the majority of citizens have resulted in sub-standard schools, catastrophic national debt, state sponsored torture, spying on citizens, governmental secrecy and abuses inflicted on citizens and journalists who are attempting to exercise their Constitutional rights.  On the Fourth-of-January Americans will recognize that their highest court has become deaf to the needs of the People, and that the “rule of law” is rapidly becoming available only to those of significant financial means. The Fourth-of-January is a day when we warn our grade school children that much of what they are reading in their American civics textbooks is stunningly false.

The Fourth-of-January will be celebrated every year unless and until the corrupting force of private money is removed from the American political system.

[Photo credits:  Derivative work funeral photo by Erich Vieth, incorporating flag photo by Tarajane at Dreamstime.com (with permission) and Original funeral photo, which is a public domain work.  Corporate flags photo by Erich Vieth, photo taken at the 2011 downtown St. Louis Fourth of July celebration].

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A new Declaration for America: to wake up from its delusions

November 20, 2011 | By | 1 Reply More

With the help of a DI reader who wishes to remain anonymous, I have created the following Declaration for modern Americans to wake up from their delusions. I’d recommend that all adults and school children put their hands over their hearts in the morning and say the following instead of pledging allegiance to the powers-that-be (but see here for an alternate form of the Pledge).

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Food stamps and Wall Street

November 18, 2011 | By | Reply More
Food stamps and Wall Street

Q: What do those guilty of lying to get food stamps have in common with Wall Street bankers who lie?

A: According to Matt Taibbi, nothing at all.

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How Atheism Happens

November 14, 2011 | By | Reply More

There is a new series on the Pharyngula blog: Posts confessing “Why I Am An Atheist” gleaned from comments and responses. Some are well written, others not so much. But each is selected for showing a particular path into the light for people who have recovered from invisible friend addiction.

The most recent post, Why I am an atheist – Adam, shows how an upbringing under the Ken Ham school of Young Earth Creation and science denialism eventually led him to an understanding of the willful ignorance and dishonesty that pervades that culture. Once he began to question the “facts” that he was raised with, he quickly climbed up toward rationalism and lost his religion.

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How to destroy a perfectly good real estate recording system.

November 13, 2011 | By | 2 Replies More
How to destroy a perfectly good real estate recording system.

What would you think if an outside enemy systematically attacked hundreds of U.S. county real estate recording offices, making it impossible for most of us to know who owns what legal rights regarding real estate anymore.   Imagine that our courts, from coast to coast, have slowed to a crawl because the enemy had nefariously dismantled a system that had worked quite well for centuries. Imagine that, also for centuries, the filing fees paid for recording real estate interests had funded numerous important local government functions, but that the outside enemy destroyed this source of income, causing many government functions to flounder. Image that this enemy then set up its own real estate “information” offices that gave lots of incomplete information, often refusing to provide any information at all, and did so with reprehensible customer service.

Imagine one more thing:  This has all really happened, but it was not caused by an outside enemy. Rather, all of this has happened regarding 60% of all home mortgages, and the entities doing the damage are America’s banks, who have conspired to create an entity called MERS, designed to circumvent government real estate recording offices, at a high cost to everyone who relies on the integrity of our real estate recording system.

If you want to know the specifics, here is a terrific article by law professor Chris Peterson: “Two Faces: Demystifying the Mortgage Electronic Registry System’s Land Title Theory.”

This damage to our recording system is relatively new–it’s been happening for a bit more than ten years, but the theme is now familiar to many of us: Corporate players taking over government functions and, in the process, rigging the playing field against the interests of ordinary Americans. The challenge now is to see whether the courts across America can recognize MERS for what it is, a despicable scam that has clouded the real estate titles of millions of people in an effort to rev up private corporate profits.   The courts are now clogged with many cases attempting to deal with the problems caused by MERS; you’ll want to keep your eye on this story to see whether the courts will slap down the banks.

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Terrorist = a Muslim who commits violence

November 10, 2011 | By | 2 Replies More
Terrorist = a Muslim who commits violence

Glenn Greenwald points out that Americans are commonly persuaded and controlled through the use of vague terms. One example is the word “terrorism,” which tends to be applied only where the person committing violence is a Muslim and not when non-Muslims commit comparable acts. A “militant” has come to mean any person who dies when an American weapon explodes. “Class warfare” and “Civil liberties” are other commonly used vague terms that are actually used as “tools for misleading political arguments.”

Another such vague term is “rule of law,” which originally referred to the idea that “we are all equally bound to a common set of rules, regardless of power position, or prestige.” It originally meant that “nobody is above the law or below the law.” Citing the work of Thomas Carruthers, Greenwald noted that the biggest challenge is to prevent elites from living above the rule of law. The founding fathers, who personally “loved inequality,” agreed that a central requirement for the new country is that everyone would comport with the law; without this requirement, they agreed that the country would not be “legitimate and just.”

Greenwald explained that with regard to “rule of law,” things aren’t working out so well in modern day America. The biggest problem is that “we no longer believe in the principle itself.”

With regard to journalists (see below), they now tend to be situated as insiders rather than outsider watchdogs who, in less dysfunctional times, embraced the motto: “Afflict the powerful, comfort the powerless.”

Greenwald has been out and about, promoting his new book, With Liberty and Justice for Some. For many additional videos of his talks, see here.

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The anatomy of a proposed settlement by Citigroup

November 10, 2011 | By | 1 Reply More
The anatomy of a proposed settlement by Citigroup

Matt Taibbi dissects a proposed deal between the SEC and Citigoup, after Judge Jed Rakoff harpoons it:

In the deal, Citi made a $160 million profit, while its customers lost $700 million. . . . So to recap: a unit of Citigroup, having repeatedly violated the same laws and having repeatedly violated the SEC’s own cease-and-desist orders and injunctions, is dragged into court one more time for committing a massive fraud.

And what does the SEC do? It doesn’t even bring up Citi’s history of ignoring the SEC’s own order, slaps the bank with a fractional fine, refuses to target any individuals, allows the bank to walk away without an admission of wrongdoing, and puts a cherry on the top by describing the $160 million heist not as a crime, but as unintentional negligence.

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Woman pregnant with her 20th child

November 9, 2011 | By | 4 Replies More
Woman pregnant with her 20th child

Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar are expecting their 20th child. Wikipedia features the family:

The Duggars raise their children using a buddy system, wherein an older sibling is assigned to a younger sibling and assists in their primary care. According to Michelle, “they help them with their little phonics lessons and games during the day and help them practice their music lessons. They will play with them or help them pick out the color of their outfit that day and just all of those types of things.”  In 2004, Michelle Duggar won the “Young Mother of the Year Award” in Arkansas, which is sponsored by American Mothers Incorporated.

In the meantime, Global Population Speak Out is asking concerned citizens to sign its pledge:

I pledge to show I care about people and planet by taking part in the global discussion about population growth. I am joining the Population 7 Billion: It’s Time to Talk campaign. With world population set to surpass the 7 billion mark in October 2011, it’s time for a broader public discussion, especially about the importance of family planning and the role that educating girls and empowering women can play in creating a healthier and more sustainable world. As part of my pledge, I will start conversations with others and help spread the word.

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