Flimsy Sanity: January 2007

Flimsy Sanity

In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule. - Friedrich Nietzsche

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Falling in Line

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Cleaning House

Peacechick Mary's post is about cleaning house. How serendipitous that she should post about the very thing I am doing right now. I am planning on moving and in order to do so, I need to sort my crap. I cannot believe some of the shit I thought was worth saving - hell, I even bought Roughneck containers to hold it. I only shop second hand, so someone threw it out before I got it.

Working at McDonald's

Listened to the Senate debate on the minimum wage this morning. They are tying it to 8.3 Billion in tax breaks to small business. As an aside, you would be shocked at who they consider small, but that is off topic. The Wyoming Republican was going on about how minimum wage is just a step up the ladder to prosperity and how the workers at McDonald's should get a low wage. Obviously, the fat bastard has never worked fast food - the pressure is intense, the working conditions are hot and greasy and you seldom get enough hours to make any progress - most only get to work the rush hours. Rich people always cry about how hard it is to make it. Give me a break!!! If McDonald's wasn't very profitable, there wouldn't be one in every town.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Whatever happened to Susan McDougal

Video and transcript of interview with Susan McDougal at Truthdig.

When Susan McDougal refused to implicate the Clintons in the Whitewater fiasco, she was thrown in prison, left alone with murderers and her own stubborn dignity. Savaged by Republicans and abandoned by Democrats, she refused to lie even to save herself.
One of the rules of a high profile woman prisoner was that she wear the red dress. It was something that let everyone know that this was a high profile case, and most of those cases were women who had killed children. And they were the most hated people inside the jail system. And so on murderer’s row, where I was being held for civil contempt, most of the women who were there were accused of killing a child or a helpless person—some kind of really bad, heinous crime. And they wore the red dress. And when you would go to court, the women who were in the red dress were put on the bus to court, but they were caged inside the bus in a cage that was locked. And the men and women who were on the bus would spit on those women, ejaculate on those women, call them names, try to get through the bars and hit them or tear at them, because they were the most despised people in the system, and they were locked in the bus for everyone not to be able to get to. And going to court was beyond description. I would spend a day getting ready to go to court, trying to get myself psyched up for going. Because you are woken at dawn, there is no breakfast, you are hustled downstairs into a locked cell, you’re strip- searched, you’re handcuffed, your legs are chained in irons. You’re in waist chains, and you wait for hours for the bus. Then you’re herded onto the bus, and you’re locked into the cage. And then all the prisoners come. They have no idea who you are, but you are abused the entire trip on the bus. And the women who are locked in there with you cry and sob all the way to justice, which is your day in court. It’s a lovely day, I can tell you, getting your day in court. You go to court, you’re locked in a holding cell, you go out into the court room, you are strip-searched, chained, locked inside the cage on the bus for the trip back to jail, then once again as you get inside you are strip-searched again. And by this time it has been a full, maybe, 12 hours of being chained and dragged around like an animal, and hooked to other people, and chained, and maybe they fall, and you fall. That happens many times, where you can’t walk in lockstep, and you all go tumbling down. And the degradation of it, of your day in court, is horrible that you don’t want to go. And so you get back in the locked room, and once again you’re strip-searched with all the other women there, and you are bent over, your cavities are searched.

What is happening? What is happening in America, that you can go to jail in leg irons and waist chains and handcuffs, and be taken away to jail because you refuse to cooperate with Kenneth Starr.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Bee Dancing

I earned my livelihood for many years as a beekeeper. I thought you might find this interesting. I copied it from another blog Keithrselassie:
I don't know how much you know about this, but honeybees can communicate the location of a food source to other bees by doing a little dance. They wiggle around and walk in one direction, and the length of their dance is proportional to the distance of the food source, and the angle they move in is equal to the direction of the food with respect to the sun. There's a little video of it on youtube, it's adorable : Link. So, in this way they can communicate the direction and the distance of the food they found to all the other bees.

They also do the same dance when they're moving to a new home, and they find a good site for their hive, and they want to tell everybody about it. It's pretty interesting because they all move together, and their decision making process is very efficient, as they always choose the best option. (They have very well defined preferences for their homesite - they prefer large volume cavities, with small entrances, that are high off the ground) The guy presented their strategies in the context that we could learn a thing or two when we have to make our own decisions as a group. How often does a group of people choose the best option?

They have scout bees that go out, and find sites, and return and tell everybody where they are. Initially there are lots of different sites, and some bees are doing their little dances for a variety of them, but dancing for the best sites persists and eventually everybody is dancing for the same site.

Some key points to their decision making process:

There are a lot of options initially, everything is considered.

No bee ever dances for a site without visiting it herself. So, there's no conformity for conformity's sake.

They take their time to decide. They have to take their time, only the scout bees are prepared for long distance flight. Everybody else is semi-dormant and just hanging out, and they can't just jump up and fly off the moment one bee comes back and is fired up and in love with some particular site.

The scouts report their opinion of a site a few times, but then they stop. Good ideas persist by the action of other bees, who have visited the site themselves and agree that it's good.

They wait for a fairly high quorum before they begin preparing for flight. By the end, 80-100% of the scouts are in agreement as to which way to go.

I think it's interesting anyways. There's nobody making the final decision, they decide together, and they make the right choice. There's also some interesting things about how they know when it's time to finally pick up an go too.


I was watching CSpan this morning (my life is a yawn) and Timothy Murphy a republican from Pennsylvania was speaking. He was trying to blame PTSD of returning soldiers on the people in US who do not support the war. I've run into this theory before. One time when I was talking with my psychiatrist I said that the reason so many Vietnam veterans had mental health problems was due to the prolonged stress of not knowing who was friend and who was enemy. He said the reason they were mentally ill was that they were not welcomed home. Now is the time for me to insert the reference to a piece I read that soldiers in combat don't concern themselves very much with the folks back home but are only listening to their fellow buddies and their command but I cannot find it. From what I gather, the media piped to them is completely hawkish - Rush Limbaugh is a regular, Al Franken is not. I really don't believe the influence of the war protestors are driving them crazy.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Military Spending

Bushford Wife

Am I the only one that thinks Laura Bush looks like a Stepford wife? And how can she call herself a librarian? The librarians are the ones most active in trying to preserve our first amendment rights - be it privacy when the cops want to see what books you checked out, running anti-censorship campaigns or speaking out on net neutrality. I think a librarian has been replaced with a machine.

Part of me thinks that spouses of politicians should be off-limits but their actions are important. I know the Republicans hate Hillary but at least she voiced her opinions about healthcare and Rosalynn Carter is fairly vocal. The Republican President's wives are pretty docile and wimpy. Sure Nancy had her "Say no to drugs" campaign, but that was only after the press attacked her for ordering expensive new china and she needed a diversion. She could have cared less about the warped drug policies (George Carlin says we could stop the drug trade by putting a few bankers in jail). Barbara Bush was strong but very flawed as we saw in her compassion toward brown people in Katrina's waters. I think you learn a lot about a man when you see who he choses for a wife. A smart, confident man picks a smart confident woman, someone who will be a partner in a team. An aggressive, arrogant man chooses someone meek who will be his cheerleader.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

End of Hormone Therapy Causes Demise of Thousands of Horses

The market is flooded with thousands of horses no longer needed to produce hormones like Premarin.
For much of the 11-month pregnancy, mares are kept immobile in narrow stalls, strapped to urine collection cups. After the foals are born — one a year — the horses are re-impregnated and the cycle begins again. PMU mares can produce only for 12 to 13 years and are then adopted or slaughtered.

Full article here The article did not mention that the mares are usually restricted in their water intake so their urine is more concentrated.
If you think the mares have it bad, consider the pig. Rolling Stone article about Smithfield Foods will make you an expert on pig shit.

I grew up on a farm but a small farm where animals weren't too mistreated or overcrowded. Farming is one place where bigger is not better.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Bambi Meets Godzilla

Credits are pretty funny.

Spiders on Drugs

I used to help my friend preview films for schools. We loved the ones that came from the Film Board of Canada and this is a good one. I remember one Simpsons episode where Bart's class has to watch a Film Board of Canada film and they all groan. Most are wonderful.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Bill Moyers Speech

Here are just a few snippets from Life on the Plantation by Bill Moyers delivered to the Media Reform Conference, Memphis, TN January 12, 2007

Beyond what is officially labeled “Secret” or “Privileged” information, there hovers on the plantation a culture of selective official news implementation, working through favored media insiders, to advance political agendas by leak and innuendo and spin, by outright propaganda mechanisms such as the misnamed “Public Information” offices that churn out blizzards of factually selective releases on a daily basis, and even by directly paying pundits and journalists to write on subjects of “mutual interest.” They needn’t have wasted the money. As we saw in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, the plantation mentality that governs Washington turned the press corps into sitting ducks for the war party for government and neo-conservative propaganda and manipulation. There were notable exceptions – Knight Ridder’s bureau, for example – but on the whole all high-ranking officials had to do was say it, and the press repeated it, until it became gospel. The height of myopia came with the admission by a prominent beltway anchor that his responsibility is to provide officials a forum to be heard. Not surprisingly, the watchdog group FAIR found that during the three weeks leading up to the invasion, only three percent of U.S. sources on the evening news of ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, FOX, and PBS expressed skeptical opinions of the impending war. Not surprisingly, two years after 9/11, almost seventy percent of the public still thought it likely that Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the terrorist attacks of that day. An Indiana school teacher told the Washington Post, “From what we’ve heard from the media, it seems like what they feel is that Saddam and the whole Al Qaeda thing are connected.” Much to the advantage of the Bush administration, a large majority of the public shared this erroneous view during the buildup to the war– a propaganda feat that Saddam himself would have envied. It is absolutely stunning –frightening– how the major media organizations were willing, even solicitous hand puppets of a state propaganda campaign, cheered on by the partisan ideological press to go to war.

There are many other ways the plantation mentality keeps Americans from reality. Take the staggering growth of money-in-politics. Compared to the magnitude of the problem, what the average person knows about how money determines policy is negligible. In fact, in the abstract, the polls tell us, most people generally assume that money controls our political system. But people will rarely act on something they understand only in the abstract. It took a constant stream of images – water hoses, dogs and churches ablaze– for the public at large to finally understand what was happening to Black people in the South. It took repeated scenes of destruction in Vietnam before the majority of Americans saw how we were destroying the country to save it. And it took repeated crime-scene images to maintain public support for many policing and sentencing policies. Likewise, people have to see how money-in-politics actually works, and concretely grasp the consequences for their pocket books and their lives, before they will act. Media organizations supply a lot of news and commentary, but almost nothing that would reveal who really wags the system, and how. When I watch one of those faux debates on a Washington public affairs show, with one politician saying this is a bad bill, and the other politician saying this is a good bill, I yearn to see the smiling, nodding beltway anchor suddenly interrupt and insist: “Good bill or bad bill, this is a bought bill. Whose financial interest are you serving here?”

The greatest challenge to the plantation mentality of the media giants is the innovation and expression made possible by the digital revolution. I may still prefer the newspaper for its investigative journalism and in-depth analysis but we now have in our hands the means to tell a different story than big media tells. Our story. The other story of America that says free speech is not just corporate speech, that news is not just chattel in the field, living the bossman’s story. This is the real gift of the digital revolution. The Internet, cell phones and digital cameras that can transmit images over the Internet, make possible a nation of story tellers…every citizen a Tom Paine. Let the man in the big house on Pennsylvania Avenue think that over. And the woman of the House on Capitol Hill. And the media moguls in their chalets at Sun Valley, gathered to review the plantation’s assets and multiply them; nail it to the door– they no longer own the copyright to America’s story– it’s not a top-down story anymore. Other folks are going to write the story from the ground up and the truth will be out, that the media plantation, like the cotton plantation of old, is not divinely sanctioned, and it’s not the product of natural forces; the media system we have been living under was created behind closed doors, where the power brokers meet to divvy up the spoils.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


The new minimum wage won't become law until 2009, if Bushee doesn't veto it. What kind of bullshit is this, I would think it could be instituted in 07.

Speaking of wages, I was watching CSPAN and the head of the American Bar Association was crying about how federal judge wages need to keep up with CEO's and lawyers in private practice. Seems their pay is tied to and equal to the wages of our members of Congress and is now only a measly $165,200 a year. Now if they worked 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, the poor bastards are making only $79 an hour. If they cannot live on that, they are not wise enough to be a judge.

I want to see a maximum wage which would improve our economy and force something to trickle down.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Cartoon by Bill Day

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Foiled Again

Why Hawks Win

Why Hawks Win
By Daniel Kahneman, Jonathan Renshon
Why are hawks so influential? The answer may lie deep in the human mind. People have dozens of decision-making biases, and almost all favor conflict rather than concession. A look at why the tough guys win more than they should.
Interesting article found via Metafilter

What determines your Political Leanings

The Ideological Animal by Jay Dixit in this month's Psychology Today is a great read. The following are all quotes from the article.
We think our political stance is the product of reason, but we're easily manipulated and surprisingly malleable. Our essential political self is more a stew of childhood temperament, education, and fear of death. Call it the 9/11 effect. We tend to believe our political views have evolved by a process of rational thought, as we consider arguments, weigh evidence, and draw conclusions. But the truth is more complicated. Our political preferences are equally the result of factors we're not aware of—such as how educated we are, how scary the world seems at a given moment, and personality traits that are first apparent in early childhood. Among the most potent motivators, it turns out, is fear. How the United States should confront the threat of terrorism remains a subject of endless political debate. But Americans' response to threats of attack is now more clear-cut than ever. The fear of death alone is surprisingly effective in shaping our political decisions—more powerful, often, than thought itself.

Most people are surprised to learn that there are real, stable differences in personality between conservatives and liberals—not just different views or values, but underlying differences in temperament. Psychologists John Jost of New York University, Dana Carney of Harvard, and Sam Gosling of the University of Texas have demonstrated that conservatives and liberals boast markedly different home and office decor. Liberals are messier than conservatives, their rooms have more clutter and more color, and they tend to have more travel documents, maps of other countries, and flags from around the world. Conservatives are neater, and their rooms are cleaner, better organized, more brightly lit, and more conventional. Liberals have more books, and their books cover a greater variety of topics. And that's just a start. Multiple studies find that liberals are more optimistic. Conservatives are more likely to be religious. Liberals are more likely to like classical music and jazz, conservatives, country music. Liberals are more likely to enjoy abstract art. Conservative men are more likely than liberal men to prefer conventional forms of entertainment like TV and talk radio. Liberal men like romantic comedies more than conservative men. Liberal women are more likely than conservative women to enjoy books, poetry, writing in a diary, acting, and playing musical instruments.

University of Arizona psychologist Jeff Greenberg argues that some ideological shifts can be explained by terror management theory (TMT), which holds that heightened fear of death motivates people to defend their world views. TMT predicts that images like the destruction of the World Trade Center should make liberals more liberal and conservatives more conservative. "In the United States, political conservatism does seem to be the preferred ideology when people are feeling insecure," concedes Greenberg.

Jost believes it's more complex. The reason thoughts of death make people more conservative, Jost says, is that they awaken a deep desire to see the world as fair and just, to believe that people get what they deserve, and to accept the existing social order as valid, rather than in need of change. When these natural desires are primed by thoughts of death and a barrage of mortal fear, people gravitate toward conservatism because it's more certain about the answers it provides—right vs. wrong, good vs. evil, us vs. them—and because conservative leaders are more likely to advocate a return to traditional values, allowing people to stick with what's familiar and known. "Conservatism is a more black and white ideology than liberalism," explains Jost. "It emphasizes tradition and authority, which are reassuring during periods of threat."

Saturday, January 13, 2007


Thursday, January 11, 2007

Bush the Thinker

The staging of Bush's speeches (in front of military people, Mission accomplished, blue lights at New Orleans etc) has changed to a book background.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Follow The Money

Rich people seldom play fair, that is why they are rich.

Just read an interesting article, Our Founding Illegals, written by William Hogeland in the New York Times
In 1763, George III drew a line on a map stretching from modern-day Maine to modern-day Georgia, along the crest of the Appalachians. He declared it illegal to claim or settle land west of the line, all of which he reserved for Native Americans.....George Washington, a young colonel in the Virginia militia, instructed his land-buying agents in the many ways of getting around the law. Although Washington was not alone in acquiring forbidden tracts, few were as energetic in the illegal acquisition of western land. ...By the early 1770's, George Washington had amassed vast tracts to which his titles were flatly invalid. The Revolution rectified that. With British law void, Washington emerged from the war with his titles legal by default.

Little people have to kill each other so rich people can get more money.(War is a Racket (1935) is a short essay by former U.S. Marine Brigadier General Smedley D. Butler, explaining how business interests in World War I commercially benefited from warfare) The rich don't really give a shit about little people, especially little brown people. Cheap Mexican labor means bigger profits for rich people. The Taliban were outlawing opium production and that is why they had to go. ADM (in trouble for price fixing) said the customer (i.e. little person) was the enemy and competing corporations were their friend because who would you pick for your friend, the one who was for higher prices or the one for lower.

Monday, January 08, 2007


Unsafe at Any Altitude

Unsafe at any Altitude: Failed Terrorism Investigations, Scapegoating 9/11, and the Shocking Truth about Aviation Security Today by Susan B. Trento, Joseph J. Trento

Book TV had a talk by the authors of the book Unsafe at Any Altitude. An interesting section was on the "No-Fly List" of (I think they said) 40,000 names. It originally started out with 16 but has grown, including lots of absurd choices. The authors said many of the known terrorists are not on the list so that they can continue to be watched, not stopped at the airport.

They also talked about how lax security is for workers and baggage handlers, so while Grandma gives up her nail file, terrorists could be stashing weapons in the bathrooms.

PJ O'Rourke

The conservative humorist PJ O'Rourke was interviewed for three hours on Book TV over the weekend. One caller compared him to Mark Twain which I thought was ridiculous, as I have read both - less of O'Rourke. Mr. PJ thought bloggers were absurd and he also was rather smug about the fact that he wrote with a typewriter rather than a computer or word processor. If you have read any of his books, they are just hard copy blogs - essays on his own opinion that may or may not be amusing to people depending on their prejudices. How is this in any way superior to a blog, unless the criterion was payment?

As for rejecting a technology that would make your work easier, better written, less work to edit, and easy to transfer to print, well I guess that just shows a lack of common sense.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Corruption Index

I have had several problems with people with Indian (not native American) names. False claims of non-delivery even though I have delivery confirmation, always asking for gift status for ebay items so duty does not have to be paid and a gal from New Jersey that waited six weeks to claim the book was damaged in shipping and said it would take a month for her to return it (probably a vendor to people in India). I was curious about the honesty of the people we have at the other end of the phone every time we call a corporation or order something with our credit card. I googled corruption and got this index of countries ranked from least corrupted to most corrupted. India was 83rd. USA is not even in the top ten. What I find interesting is that the most honest countries seem to be also the most socialistic.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Put this on your reading list

The Rush Limbaugh Story: Talent on Loan from God : An Unauthorized Biography - just saw the title on Paperback Swap.

Bush Smiled

This weekend C Span repeated footage of the funeral service for Mrs. Coretta Scott King. All the bigwigs were there and Bush was seated right behind the podium. When Jimmy Carter was speaking he mentioned the Katrina fiasco and Bush smiled. I no longer think he is just incompetent, I truly believe he is malevolent.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Cool Tool

The Smart Strip is a power strip that shuts off all the extra outlets when the primary outlet's power is shut off. I think they call the small amounts of energy used (by leaving things always on or with instant on) "vampire" energy and this will automatically shut off your monitor, printer, cable hookup, etc. when you shut off the computer. Probably would pay for itself in a short time.