Recent Articles

Comedian Lee Camp offers a sobering view of the state of the world

Lee Camp summarizes what is going on. He’s a comedian, but it’s getting ever more difficult to hide his deep concerns behind his laugh lines. I suspect that what is especially bothering Lee Camp is something that Trump and his dysfunctional friends are immunized from: Facts.

In this second video, Camp and his guest, Alnoor Ladha, set for an alternative to the current U.S. priority of Banks and Tanks.

Ladha is Executive Director of an organization called “The Rules”:

The Rules is a worldwide network of activists, artists, writers, farmers, peasants, students, workers, designers, hackers, spiritualists and dreamers, linking up, pushing the global narrative in a new direction. We’re tired of the incremental reforms. The corrupt CEO’s. The tax havens. The esteemed economists. The development industry. The secrecy regimes. The empty promises. The cancelled futures.

March 18, 2017 | By | Reply More

Only one space after a period!

In high school typing class (in the 1970s), I learned that there are TWO spaces after a period. Since then, I’ve learned and relearned from reputable sources that there should only be one space following a period, but shaking that habit has not been easy. Today, I was reminded that there is no dispute about what to do after hitting a period on a keyboard:

Felici writes that typesetters in Europe began to settle on a single space around the early 20th century. America followed soon after.

Every modern typographer agrees on the one-space rule. It’s one of the canonical rules of the profession, in the same way that waiters know that the salad fork goes to the left of the dinner fork and fashion designers know to put men’s shirt buttons on the right and women’s on the left.

Every major style guide—including the Modern Language Association Style Manual and the Chicago Manual of Style—prescribes a single space after a period. (The Publications Manual of the American Psychological Association, used widely in the social sciences, allows for two spaces in draft manuscripts but recommends one space in published work.)

Let this be the day when my fingers start doing what my brain has been trying to tell them to do for decades!

March 18, 2017 | By | Reply More

In Light of the GOP’s new Health Care Proposal, it’s Time to Rename the GOP as the “Social Darwinist Party.”

In light of the GOP’s “solution” to the “problem” of Obamacare, it’s time to simply and clearly declare that the GOP has become (and should be renamed) the “Social Darwinist Party.”

Addressing the cries of the Super Rich (“I want even more money”) is no solution at all to the medical crises many of us face. I realize and recognize the frustration of the GOP that people who are lazy and/or who repeatedly make bad decisions resulting in being poor should not be able to mooch off the rest of us. But what about those who have worked hard and have been laid off by downsizing, and now earn $10/hour? What about people who are doing their best after being raised by dysfunctional families and/or “taught” at dysfunctional schools? Should they really be told that health care is totally out of their reach?

I’m lucky that I am a 60 year old man who can afford to pay the market rate of $900/month for a $6,000 deductible (“Bronze”) health care policy with Anthem for me and my teenage daughter. It was the best deal I could find this year.

But there are good hearted hard-working people who are paid minimum wage, meaning that they gross about $1,500 a month for full time work. After Social Security taxes, if they were to pay $900/month for health insurance (and then all the co-pays and deductible) they would have NOTHING left on which to live. NOTHING.

The GOP solution, I assume, is to have these people (many of whom voted for Trump) begging for health care at hospital doors, with many of them eventually dying in the streets. Is the GOP then going offer block grants to cities to help clean up the bodies of sick and dying people on the sides of streets?

Obamacare was an flawed attempt to balance the many competing interests at play. But it was an attempt. It was far better than the GOP proposal, which is essentially, “If you can’t come up with a LOT more money than minimum wage will pay you, then into society’s scrap heap you go!”

We can do better than Obamacare. We can do a LOT better than the current GOP proposal. It’s time for single payor, a solution used by almost every other industrialized country.

March 13, 2017 | By | Reply More

GOP can’t afford $75B/year to provide public college to everyone, but CAN afford handing $600B tax cuts to top 1%

When Bernie Sanders proposed that the US spend $75 Billion per year to eliminate tuition to those attending public colleges and universities, the GOP scoffed and said that this money wasn’t available and that Sanders’ plan was irresponsible. For example, see the criticisms by Betsy DeVos, President Trumps’s Head of the Department of Education.

Now we hear that we can make America great again by handing the highest earning taxpayers (mostly the top 1%) a giant tax cut of $600 Billion stretching into 2026. And that $600 Billion tax cut also buys the horror of throwing tens of millions of Americans into the status of lacking health insurance.

Therefore, we can’t afford $75 Billion per year to give young Americans a college education, but we can afford to threaten the health and lives of tens of millions of Americans in order to hand the 1% $600 Billion in tax cuts. It’s time to rename the GOP for what it is: The Social Darwinist Party.

March 12, 2017 | By | Reply More

Pan: Saturn’s tiny oddly shaped moon

NASA just published photos of Pan, one of Saturn’s moons. Such an unusual shape!

[caption id="attachment_28101" align="aligncenter" width="528"] Pan – Moon of Saturn. Photo by NASA[/caption]
March 11, 2017 | By | Reply More

On Reverse-Engineering a Soldier’s Death to Justify More of the Same

From Glenn Greenwald, of The Intercept:

While there is certainly truth in the claim that Trump’s use of the suffering of soldiers and their families is politically opportunistic, even exploitative, this tactic is hardly one Trump pioneered. In fact, it is completely standard for U.S. presidents. Though Trump’s attackers did not mention it, Obama often included tales of the sacrifice, death, and suffering of soliders in his political speeches — including when he devoted four highly emotional minutes in his 2014 State of the Union address to narrating the story of, and paying emotional tribute to, Sgt. Cory Remsburg, who was severely wounded by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan.

George W. Bush also hauled soldiers wounded in his wars before cameras during his speeches, such as his 2007 State of the Union address, where he paid tribute to Sgt. Tommy Rieman, wounded in Iraq.

There are reasons presidents routinely use the suffering and deaths of U.S soldiers and their families as political props. The way in which these emotions are exploited powerfully highlights important aspects of war propaganda generally, and specifically how the endless, 15-year-old war on terror is sustained.

. . .

By dramatizing the deaths of Americans while disappearing the country’s victims, this technique ensures that Americans perpetually regard themselves as victims of horrific, savage, tragic violence but never the perpetrators of it. That, in turn, is what keeps Americans supporting endless war: These savages keep killing us, so we have no choice but to fight them.

Greenwald points out that our natural sympathy for family members of brave dead soldiers is consciously reverse engineered at events such as President Trump’s recent speech, such that the heroism of the soldier appears to make the war a worthy war and the President a worthy President.

March 3, 2017 | By | Reply More

“Mercy,” short violin-piano piece by Max Richter

I’m loving this musical offering by Max Richter (performed by Hilary Hahn and C. Smythe). So short, sweet and deep.

March 1, 2017 | By | Reply More

Craig Newmark’s Truth-Seeking Philanthropy

Craig Newmark is the introvert who founded Craig’s List. Now he is turning his attention to the needs of organizations seeking to do excellent news reporting and fact checking. The story appeared in NiemanLab:

In recent weeks, Newmark’s foundation has given $1 million gift to the Poynter Institute for a chair in ethics and a $500,000 donation to Wikipedia for its anti-harassment Community Health Initiative, after giving Wikipedia $1 million last June. Those gifts look like they be might be just a start of his news/information-centric philanthropy; Newmark now tells me he is committing to give away, at this phase of his philanthropy, another $3.5 million. Those further gifts — to companies in the news and information sphere — will be announced over the next weeks and months. Taken together, we’ve got to be impressed with this renewed spurt of news-oriented philanthropy and the big subscription upticks we’ve seen post-election.

February 27, 2017 | By | Reply More

David Frum discusses the era of Trump

Fascinating conversation: I just listened to a discussion on Donald Trump involving long time conservative David Frum and Sam Harris. What did Trump do that resonated deeply, according to Frum? A) The pain felt by rural America, B) That America’s trade policy is not working well for most Americans, and C) Immigration does impose often invisible economic and cultural costs on many Americans in the bottom 30-40% of Americans.

None of this suggests that Trump should be President. He is massively incompetent and disorganized, and has failed to make appointments. The U.S. has great power to end human life through it’s nuclear arsenal. Trump is erratic and therefore dangerous. It’s like being in a car with a hopelessly drunk driver. Trump is not a strategic visionary. He makes impulsive bad decisions, and digging out of his messes by blaming others. Trump is not Hitler. He is filled with bitterness and rage. His advisors are filled with rage–none of them are fully functioning people. Millions of people filled with rage are delighted to see Trump be rude to the snobs out there. His followers don’t care about detrimental effects to themselves.

February 26, 2017 | By | Reply More