Flimsy Sanity: February 2007

Flimsy Sanity

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

Friday, February 23, 2007

A Happy Dream

A float depicting U.S. President George W. Bush being spanked by the Statue Of Liberty at the Rose Monday carnival parade in Mainz, Germany
stolen from Women on the Verge blog.

Magical Thinking

Children exhibit a form of magical thinking by about 18 months, when they begin to create imaginary worlds while playing. By age 3, most know the difference between fantasy and reality, though they usually still believe (with adult encouragement) in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy. By age 8, and sometimes earlier, they have mostly pruned away these beliefs, and the line between magic and reality is about as clear to them as it is for adults.
It is no coincidence, some social scientists believe, that youngsters begin learning about faith around the time they begin to give up on wishing. “The point at which the culture withdraws support for belief in Santa and the Tooth Fairy is about the same time it introduces children to prayer,” said Jacqueline Woolley, a professor of psychology at the University of Texas. “The mechanism is already there, kids have already spent time believing that wishing can make things come true, and they’re just losing faith in the efficacy of that.”
Magical thinking is most evident precisely when people feel most helpless. Giora Keinan, a professor at Tel Aviv University, sent questionnaires to 174 Israelis after the Iraqi Scud missile attacks of the 1991 gulf war. Those who reported the highest level of stress were also the most likely to endorse magical beliefs, like “I have the feeling that the chances of being hit during a missile attack are greater if a person whose house was attacked is present in the sealed room,” or “To be on the safe side, it is best to step into the sealed room right foot first.”
Read the whole New York Times Article Magical Thinking: Why Do People Cling to Odd Beliefs


Ok, I made one of these up. Can you guess which one?

How many doctors does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
Three. One to find a bulb specialist, one to find a bulb installation specialist, and one to bill it all to Medicare.

How many lawyers does it take to change a lightbulb?
How many can you afford?

How many football players does it take to change a lightbulb?
The entire team! And they all get a semester's credit for it!

How many Necrophiliacs does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
None, Necrophiliacs prefer dead bulbs.
Only one. Oh, could you please test the socket with your finger while I go get a new bulb ...

How many senators does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
29. 2 to claim the idea, 4 to draft the bill, 12 to sit on the bipartisan committee, 3 to debate which part of the country the lightbulb should be manufactured in, 2 to filibuster for days on end, 1 to screw it in, and 5 to prosecute him for acting without authorization.

How many reborns does it take to change a lightbulb?
One evangelist to screw it and thousands to sway and chant "I've seen the light"

How many second sopranos does it take to change a light bulb?
15: 1 to stand on the chair, 4 to pull it from under her and 10 to say "I knew it was too high for that cow..."

How many technical support people does it take to change a lightbulb? "Have you tried switching it off and on again?"
or "uh we have an exact copy of your lightbulb here and its working fine

How many guitar players does it take to change a light bulb?
10. One to change it and nine to say "I can do that!"

How many republicans does it take to screw in a light bulb. -one, but you'll be hearing about how they saved us from darkness every four years.

How many North Dakota University freshmen does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
Answer: None, that's a senior course

How many actors does it take to screw in a light bulb?
4 - One to climb the ladder, and 3 to look up and say "It should have been me up there."

How many Vietnam Vets does it take to screw in a light bulb?
You'll never know, man, you weren’t there...

How many Bible Thumpers does it take to screw in a light bulb?
One to threaten "You won't need a light bulb where you're going!"

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Some quotes for your Wednesday

The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane - Marcus Aurelius

The United States is a nation of laws: badly written and randomly enforced. - Frank Zappa

Every serious problem has an easy solution that is usually wrong - H L Mencken

Monday, February 19, 2007

Documentary on child evangelist

Marjoe is re-released on DVD. Winner Academy Award - Best Documentary, 1972 but not shown in the Bible Belt. The writer, Sarah Kernochan, discusses it and also evangelism in general.
I hope people of other faiths will understand where the power of the evangelical movement has come from, understand the lure of the music and the promise of a life-altering spiritual experience. I hope they will see, too, that this ecstatic union with Christ is also … sometimes … commandeered by ruthless and greed-fueled “servants of God” -- the ministers who have, since the year Marjoe was made, erected a formidable enterprise sprawling over the media, corporate America, and the Beltway, with no notion of stopping until the United States becomes one big mega-church.

Helping Mankind

Poll Results

Sunday, February 18, 2007

@ gets haughty

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Nader as Spoiler

I hate when Nader is described as a spoiler. I think he is a Fixer similar to the hero of the story by Bernard Malamud of the same title - a hopeless idealistic pariah who just wants a better, more fair country. Critics say Nader say is ego maniacal but as far as I can see anyone who runs for any office, even at the local level, has a high opinion of themselves or they couldn't last a day. At least Nader possesses the attributes that any politician should be required to possess - the ability to speak and write - and one the others do not - the ability to tell the truth. I just don't think he has a cadre of speechwriters like Hillary or Bush or Cheney who can twist the words so that nothing gets said.
Two choice mentality of either/or is insane in a country this size. Old time elections in communist countries with just one candidate who wins by 90 percent is just as ludicrous as giving 300 million people two choices of corporate whores. Although they all preach just one God, even my small town of 5,000 people gets a choice of 13 Christian churches. When I go to the grocery store, I get 20 choices of cereal.. When I go to the polls, I am supposed to pick the lesser of two evils rather than choose a good person because some people say that voting for a third party candidate is just throwing your vote away. The truth is that voting is simply when "anonymous people raise or lower things in esteem by the weight of sheer numbers". The majority of people stay home on voting day because (a) they know it is a sham or (b) they don't care.
The problem with the two party system is that it is stagnant and self preserving with no room for people who want improvement. Both are bullies who will not allow any third party candidates to participate in debates and are too corrupt to eliminate the enemies of "one man, one vote" (the very essence of democracy)-the electoral college, diebold voting machines, Washington DC disenfranchisement, spending caps on campaign funds etc. The League of Women Voters sponsored debates of old are now just canned responses to pre-prepared questions. The hive mentality of each party is evident when both repeat the same phrases continually. You cannot spoil something that is already rotten. I say that dissatisfied people that continue to support these parties are the problem, not an individual who is trying to fix the system and just will not give up.
People have often been willing to give up personal identity and join into a collective. Historically, that propensity has usually been very bad news. Collectives tend to be mean, to designate official enemies, to be violent, and to discourage creative, rigorous thought. Fascists, communists, religious cults, criminal "families" — there has been no end to the varieties of human collectives, but it seems to me that these examples have quite a lot in common. I wonder if some aspect of human nature evolved in the context of competing packs. We might be genetically wired to be vulnerable to the lure of the mob. Jaron Lanier


Americans need to understand that many interests are using the "war on terror" to achieve their agendas. The Federalist Society is using the "war on terror" to achieve its agenda of concentrating power in the executive and packing the Supreme Court to this effect. The neocons are using the war to achieve their agenda of Israeli hegemony in the Middle East. Police agencies are using the war to remove constraints on their powers and to make themselves less accountable. Republicans are using the war to achieve one-party rule—theirs. The Bush administration is using the war to avoid accountability and evade constraints on executive powers. Arms industries, or what President Eisenhower called the "military-industrial complex," are using the war to fatten profits. Terrorism experts are using the war to gain visibility. Security firms are using it to gain customers.
Paul Craig Roberts

Cartoon by Dwayne Powell

Thursday, February 15, 2007

A Catchy Tune

Valentine's Day

Yesterday's program on Democracy Now was about flowers, chocolates and diamonds and why to avoid them.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Back to the Future

The minimum wage is headed for a raise -- back to the 1950s. That's right, even after rising from $5.15 now to $7.25 in 2009, the federal minimum wage will still be lower than it was in 1956, when it was $7.41 in today's dollars. Since its last raise in 1997, the minimum wage has fallen 20 percent, adjusted for inflation, while domestic corporate profits are up 74 percent, retail profits are up 55 percent, and business has reaped $312 billion in tax breaks.
Minimum Wage Raise Is Good for Business
by Holly Sklar. Read article here.

Fascism and America

"When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag, carrying a cross."---Sinclair Lewis, author of It Can’t Happen Here, 1935

Sowing the Seeds of Fascism in America by Stan Goff . Goff is a retired veteran of the U.S. Army Special Forces. This is rather a long article in Truthdig. Here is just one interesting snippet:

Another unique feature of the Bush administration’s militarization program has been the private contracting of military and paramilitary operations to an alphabet soup of corporations, some led by ruling-caste veterans like Bill Perry and many led by the sketchiest characters crawling out of the rank and file of the military itself. In Iraq, mercenaries are now the third-largest armed contingent on the ground, behind only the American armed forces and the Kurdish peshmerga. There are roughly 25,000 of these "contractors" working in Iraq ... and they are almost completely immune from any law.
Last year, after a homemade video "escaped" showing so-called security contractors in an SUV driving down an Iraqi highway with Elvis music blasting as they shot cars off the road for sport, the blogs began distributing it. In December, the Washington Post finally ran a story on it. Only then did the military even comment on the video, which they said they would investigate. Nothing has come of this alleged investigation. What did surface, however, once the media decided it was worth a closer look, is that this kind of colonial impunity is routinely exercised by contractors, who are little more than extremely well paid thugs, and is not covered by either Iraqi law or the U.S. Uniform Code of Military Justice.
Because the salaries of these contractors are routinely above $100,000 a year, with all expenses paid on site, the military itself, especially Special Operations, has had to steeply increase reenlistment bonuses ( some as high as $150,000 in a single lump sum), to partially stem the exodus of Special Ops troops into the lucrative world of corporate mercenaries.
This is a world unto itself, a culture obsessed with death, firearms and racial-purity doctrines. One need only page through the periodicals of this subculture, the most widely circulated being Soldier of Fortune magazine, to find these preoccupations between the articles and ads like a toxic salad. The glue holding them together is gun culture. Gun culture is not an obscure fringe, but a very mainstream, widely popular subculture that taps directly into another key component of fascism: martial masculinity.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Cat Feeder

Men Like to Fight

A former school-mate and I once got into a rather heated discussion. I said men like war and he thought I was insane - that no one would like getting shot at. My contention was that the movies and books men prefer are most often about a violent resolution to problems. The role playing games little boys choose are war-like ones. Competition comes with testosterone, locally with sports, nationally with war. Obviously, they must like it. My cousin's son was in Iraq and wants to go back, school life is too tame. Chris Hedges, author of What every Person should Know About War had this to say:

I have felt the attraction of violence. I know its seductiveness, excitement and the powerful addictive narcotic it can become. The young soldiers, trained well enough to be disciplined but encouraged to maintain their naive adolescent belief in invulnerability, have in wartime more power at their fingertips than they will ever have again. They catapult from being minimum wage employees at places like Burger King, facing a life of dead-end jobs with little hope of health insurance and adequate benefits, to being part of, in the words of the Marines, "the greatest fighting force on the face of the earth." The disparity between what they were and what they have become is breathtaking and intoxicating. This intoxication is only heightened in wartime when all taboos are broken. Murder goes unpunished and often rewarded. The thrill of destruction fills their days with wild adrenaline highs, strange grotesque landscapes that are hallucinogenic, all accompanied by a sense of purpose and comradeship, overpowers the alienation many left behind. They become accustomed to killing, carrying out acts of slaughter with no more forethought than they take to relieve themselves. And the abuses committed against the helpless prisoners in Abu Ghraib or Guantánamo are not aberrations but the real face of war. In wartime all human beings become objects, objects either to gratify or destroy or both. And almost no one is immune. The contagion of the crowd sees to that.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Reality Check

One problem I have with the Conservative Wing is that they live in a fantasy world. A couple examples:
Abstinence education may be laudable but the truth is 95 percent of people have premarital sex.

A War to help the people of Iraq would make sense if the people wanted us there, but 79 percent of Iraqis say that the US is having a negative influence on the situation in Iraq.

I am no longer calling them the Conservative Right since they are usually so wrong. I will only refer to them as a wing from now until the rapture.

Whistleblowing Facts

Yesterday Jon Stewart on the Daily Show had a piece on the pallets of cash shipped to Iraq and the fact that most of it was missing. He featured both the Republicans and the Democrats advertising their websites to report on fraud and abuse. What a joke that is. Here is the truth for you whistleblower wannabees.
From Project Censored, comes this revelation: Federal Whistleblower Protection in Jeopardy

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC), the agency that is supposed to protect federal employees who blow the whistle on waste, fraud, and abuse is dismissing hundreds of cases while advancing almost none. According to the Annual Report for 2004 (which was not released until the end of first quarter fiscal year 2006) less than 1.5 percent of whistleblower claims were referred for investigation while more than 1000 reports were closed before they were even opened. On March 3, 2005, OSC staff members joined by a coalition of whistleblower protection and civil rights organizations filed a complaint against Bloch (Special Counsel Scott Bloch, appointed by President Bush in 2004). His own employees accused him of violating the very rules he is supposed to be enforcing. The complaint specifies instances of illegal gag orders, cronyism, invidious discrimination, and retaliation by forcing the resignation of one-fifth of the OSC headquarters legal and investigative staff. The complaint was filed with the President’s Council on Integrity and Efficiency, which took no action on the case for seven months.....The Department of Labor has also gotten on board in a behind-the-scenes maneuver to cancel whistleblower protections.

And then there is this from Alternet: The Secret War on FBI Whistle-blowers is a 2002 article on the treatment of an FBI agent who claimed the agency "circled the wagons" to cover up a score of pre-9-11 intelligence blunders.
The first stop on the whistle-blower's roller coaster to ruin is discreditation. "Anonymous news leaks always come first," he says.....Next, say those who've taken the ride, comes a gamut of retaliatory tactics: harassment from supervisors, the loss of office allies, a stripping of security clearance, the monitoring of activities, inter-office relocation -- one Department of Agriculture informer was moved to a desk in the hallway outside the bathroom -- demotions, psychiatric or medical referrals, or "administrative leave," to put it euphemistically. "The FBI never fires whistle-blowers, directly," says psychiatric social worker Don Soeken. In the late '70s, Soeken worked for the U.S. Public Health Service, and his job was to perform "fitness for duty" examinations for federal employees whose supervisors thought they were mentally unstable. But Soeken noticed something curious about his clientele. All his patients seemed to be whistle-blowers, Soeken says, and he was asked to label the muckrakers mentally unfit, giving the government the green light to dismiss them. Soeken refused. He became a whistle-blower himself, reporting the shameful practice to Congress, and now helps whistle-blowers recover on a farm in West Virginia that he calls the Whistlestop.

By the way the term "Whistleblower" refers to the action of the referee who blows the whistle when he sees someone cheating or not following the rules of the game and even if the home team hates him for it, that is his job.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


Many years ago when I was working bees in Texas, a woman started a friendly discussion with me and soon she asked me if I had any children. I answered that I did not and she grew very agitated and said that it was the duty of white people to procreate or else the "Niggers would take over the US." This idea of populating the world with your own kind has been encouraged by some religions like Catholics, Mormons, and Muslims sometimes despite a lack of a promising future for them. A new group working on becoming a majority force is the group who call themselves and their belief system "Quiverfull."
They borrow their name from Psalm 127: "Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate." Quiverfull mothers think of their children as no mere movement but as an army they're building for God.
Quiverfull parents try to have upwards of six children. They home-school their families, attend fundamentalist churches and follow biblical guidelines of male headship--"Father knows best"--and female submissiveness. They refuse any attempt to regulate pregnancy.

But if just 8 million American Christian couples began supplying more "arrows for the war" by having six children or more, they propose, the Christian-right ranks could rise to 550 million within a century ("assuming Christ does not return before then"). They like to ponder the spiritual victory that such numbers could bring: both houses of Congress and the majority of state governor's mansions filled by Christians; universities that embrace creationism; sinful cities reclaimed for the faithful; and the swift blows dealt to companies that offend Christian sensibilities.
Read the Nation article here .

Friday, February 02, 2007

When 21,000 is really 35,000

Heard on C-Span this morning that the actual number of additional bodies that will be sent to Iraq is between 35,000 and 48,000. Seems support troops and all the private contractors are not counted in the Surge. Muckraker has a lively discussion on this.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Dog Shopping

Being kind to the Earth

Jumbolair a community for plane owners like John Travolta (who says he owes his fortune to following scientology). Talk about your energy hogs.

One of the first purchasers in the development was actor John Travolta who keeps his own Boeing 707 in his garage. Jumbolair contains America's largest private airstrip, but it’s not the only airpark in the country. According to the "Living With Your Plane" Association, there are about 430 airparks with a total of 22,000 home sites in the United States.

The world belongs to the haves and the have-mores. How dare those little bastards ask for a higher minimum wage?