Wednesday, October 22, 2014

They’ll Call You ‘Raciss’ Anyway

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Years from now, perhaps even sooner, the brain trust at Oxford English Dictionary (OED) will have to reconsider exactly what the word racism means and how its historical meaning has changed in contemporary times. OED’s is the respected authority on English language “as an unsurpassed guide to the meaning, history, and pronunciation of 600,000 words— past and present—from across the English-speaking world.” 

Since they meet four times a year to revise, update, and replace older versions of words that have newer meaning, I can’t think of a better word with which to start. 
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Monday, October 20, 2014

G.K. Chesterton, T.S. Eliot: Frenemies

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In a recent tongue and cheek conversation between Jason and myself concerning G.K. Chesterton and T.S. Eliot's relationship, I remarked to him that I could not remember if the men were friends or not or even if they had ever interacted.  

While perusing the Imaginative Conservative on a late night read I came across this interesting piece which answered my question. They were basically frenemies.
In 1929, following his much-publicized conversion to Christianity, Eliot wrote to Chesterton in a spirit of reconciliation: “I should like extremely to come to see you one day…May I mention that I have much sympathy with your political and social views, as well as (with obvious reservations) your religious views?”[7] The “obvious reservations” were a reference to the fact that Chesterton had converted to Roman Catholicism whereas Eliot had become an anglo-Catholic, i.e. a member of the “higher” regions of the Church of England. In the same letter, Eliot had added that Chesterton’s study of Charles Dickens “was always a delight to me.”



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Is the Political Left becoming anti-science?

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A good question... Suffice to say that when it comes to science--in the generalist of terms--each side of the political aisle has sub-groups that undoubtedly go off the rails when it comes to their perceptions of information and data. Their views tend to be cynical, conspiratorial, and one-dimensional. Nevertheless on a wide variety of issues the Left has felt and portrayed that "science" is unconditionally on its side.


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John Keats (1795 - 1821)

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John Keats wrote in a 1820 letter before he died of tuberculosis in Rome: “I have left no immortal work behind me, but I have lov’d the principle of beauty in all things, and if I had had the time I would have made myself remember’d.”


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All Is Not Well: America “Completely Out of Control”

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What could one possibly mean by saying one’s country is “out of control?”
An overwhelming majority of voters in the most competitive 2014 elections say it feels as if events in the United States are “out of control” and expressed mounting alarm about terrorism, anxiety about Ebola and harsh skepticism of both political parties only three weeks before the Nov. 4 midterms.
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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Geological Investigation of the Alluvial Valley of the Lower Mississippi River (circa 1944)

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"The Mississippi River will always have its own way; no engineering skill can persuade it to do otherwise..."

 ~Mark Twain in Eruption


From Geological Investigation of the Alluvial Valley of the Lower Mississippi River, by W. O. Dement for Harold Fisk (1944)

This cartographic beauty wasn't pulled from the mind of some orphic minded Art-Informal devotee trying to focus on the "uneasy co-existence of mind and body." It is the result of some 16,000 soil samples combined with aerial topography of the lower-Mississippi and shows Big Muddy's past routes which it travelled.

The yeoman's work, which was started in 1941 by geologist Harold Fisk and his accompanying team, was performed for a 1944's report titled "Geological Investigation of the Alluvial Valley of the Lower Mississippi River."

Truly an awesome and humbling reminder that within all of the apparent chaos in nature there exists a working order of the highest level.
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The Berlin Wall: A Symbol of Misery and Oppression, Also Served As An Extensive Laboratory For Human Nature

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‘Ohne Butter, ohne Sahne, auf dem Mond die rote Fahne ’ (‘There’s no cream, there’s no butter, but on the moon the red flag flutters’). A popular slogan in the German Democratic Republic. 

Only days before the barbed wire went up around West Berlin on the night of 12–13 August 1961, Walter Ulbricht, leader of the ruling Socialist Unity Party (SED) in East Germany, vigorously complained to Khruschev about the seemingly insurmountable obstacles that the porous sectoral boundaries around West Berlin posed to the entire socialist project in East Germany:
The entire situation, influenced by the open border, hindered us from implementing adequate measures to eliminate the disproportions in the wage structure and to create a proper relationship between wages and performance. . . . Simply put, the open border forced us to raise the living standard faster than our economic capabilities allowed. . . . Of course we had similar difficulties with the transition to agricultural co-operatives as in other People’s Democracies. But one should not overlook the fact that some things are much more complicated here. . . . In all the other People’s Democracies, in the context of their closed borders, such political–economic issues could be tackled differently than was possible under our political circumstances.
This was merely one in a series of urgent letters during 1960–61. As Ulbricht had been warning the Kremlin, the mass population drain to the West was costing the German Democratic Republic (GDR) billions: production losses alone were estimated at around 2.5 to 3 billion DM. As a result, not only was
the much-vaunted goal of surpassing West Germany’s economic performance completely unachievable, but the aim had essentially become one of damage limitation, not least in order to curb the further population flow westwards.

By summer 1961, Ulbricht was warning Moscow that the GDR was on the brink of collapse and could not survive the vicious circle of emigration and production loss for much longer.

However, what was intended as a barrier against the freedom of human movement (or put better a peoples escaping despair and oppression to the prospects opportunity and freedom) turned out to provide a study in sociology, culture, politics and economic. 

The Boston Globe covers the human experiment in a wonderful essay.
Imagine this: If you were a researcher trying to determine how a political system affects people’s values, beliefs, and behavior, you would ideally want to take two identical populations, separate them for a generation or two, and subject them each to two totally different kinds of government. Then you’d want to measure the results, the same way a medical researcher might give two sets of patients two different pills and then track their progress.
Ethically, such a study would be unthinkable even to propose. But when the Berlin Wall went up in 1961, it created what London School of Economics associate professor Daniel Sturm calls a “perfect experiment.” While people in West Germany voted in free elections, read independent newspapers, and protested if they felt dissatisfied with their government, their Eastern counterparts lived inside a surveillance state ruled by a zealously doctrinaire communist party. Where “Ossis”—an unofficial term for those who lived in East Germany—drove famously shoddy Trabant cars, wore drab clothing, and drank off-brand soda, their “Wessi” counterparts enjoyed Pepsi and regularly saw BMWs in the street. The two halves of the country were like a pair of identical twins separated at birth and raised by two very different sets of parents. 
Over the past decade, the Berlin Wall has emerged as a uniquely powerful tool for answering questions about politics, economics, and human nature. How well does state propaganda actually work? What role do friendships play in stimulating business and trade? How does living under a repressive regime affect people’s inclination to trust strangers and government institutions?
The results have proved exciting for researchers, but their value goes beyond the ivory tower: They’re also likely to be important in preparing for real-world situations we may see in the future, like the opening of North Korea and Iran. “Understanding how, say, propaganda created by such regimes affects people’s preferences is very important, particularly when these regimes sooner or later collapse,” said Alberto Alesina, an economist at Harvard University. 
The insights that have piled up since the fall of the wall make it clear how long a single political event can continue to have social and economic effects on the people who lived through it. The marks it left are still being uncovered and measured, more than half a century after the architects of the wall unwittingly made it possible.

Read the rest at the link
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Friday, October 17, 2014

Political Correctness Uber Alles

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Americans have long been in the clutch of the despotic hand of political correctness. It has been our country’s civil religion as long as I can remember. It mostly serves as a minor nuisance in everyday life. It exist just enough to control our thoughts and speech, to be an overseer of our behavior and obstruct our natural view the world around us. However, it has even made its way into actual policy decisions and laws, especially under Obama & Holder Inc. For starters, consider immigration. Only a country so removed from reality would allow its borders and laws to be violated the way the US has. 

Once across our border, uninvited and unwanted, illegal immigrants find refuge and welfare relief from many state and city governments. Free from arrest, and least of all, deportation. The goodwill and charity comes, not from private hospitably of citizens but from the aid of government at taxpayer’s expense. Any negative reaction, and there is plenty, is ignored and shamed. Ugly labels are used as duct tape over the mouths of the average citizen. Silenced, pummeled, and threatened back into their living rooms and told to be good consumer peasants. Meanwhile, the “political” debate on immigration is anything but. Instead, it’s an issue that is talked around carefully when it front of cameras, and rather candidly behind doors. More illegal immigration is one of the only issues where both sides tend to agree. 

This is startling considering that Americans routinely poll between 60 and 70 percent in favor of curbing or ending immigration, as well as sending those back to the country of their origin who willfully and knowingly violated our laws. 

Why has nothing happened under the force of a clear majority? The clergy and holy priests who occupy the seats in our town halls, federal bureaucracies, universities, nonprofits, courts and Congress do not answer to the people. Instead they adhere to their dogma. It is better to practice the teachings of political correctness, in the holy name of diversity, then to obey men. 

Our federal government is the secular version of the Vatican. 

And so now we have a more immediate, pandemic threat in which political correctness was very much a factor. Ebola is a disease so foreign and far away from our shores that most Americans know nothing about it. That was until a man named Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian, who brought it to the United States and infected a yet unknown number. He was allowed to board an airplane in Liberia and fly to America despite the risks to public safety.

A country secure in its identity and unanimous in its beliefs would unhesitatingly take any and all actions and precautions to ensure the public safety of its citizens. We do not, unfortunately, live in such a country. Discussions of travel bans by federal officials and liberal pundits are dismissed as if time travel is being proposed instead of simply ending flights in and out of Ebola ridden areas of the world.

As Patrick J. Buchanan wrote, “The Greatest Generation possessed a common sense that seems lacking today.”
In dealing with contagious and deadly diseases, common sense says to err on the side of safety. Public safety must come before political correctness. Community and country come ahead of any obligation to the people of West Africa.

Indeed, is not the first duty of the government of the United States to protect the lives, liberty and property of the citizens of the United States?

Traveling to Africa decades ago, Americans were given a series of shots to avoid contracting indigenous diseases. Travelers to the United States were questioned about diseases to which they may have been exposed in Third World countries.

Now we have a government that considers it discriminatory to put troops on our frontiers to halt the invading millions from across the Mexican border, and the mark of a cruel and cold people to send back lawbreakers who have broken into our country.

All great religions need their martyrs. But rarely has there been a time when the zealotry of so few endangered the lives of so many.
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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Norway's Green Hypocrisy

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Hypocrisy evidently knows no bounds in the Nordic States...

From Freakonomics


By most measures, Norway is among the greenest countries on Earth. It gets virtually all of its electricity from hydropower; it plans to cut its greenhouse emissions by 30% by 2020; and it has more electric vehicles per capita than any country in the world. But Norway is also the biggest oil producer in Western Europe and the world’s third-largest exporter of natural gas. All that petroleum money allows Norway to subsidize its green lifestyle; it has also helped create what is now the largest sovereign wealth fund in the world, soon projected to top $1 trillion.

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Lockheed Martin attempting to create Compact Fusion Reactor.

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Filed under interesting development...Lockheed Martin's vaunted Skunkworks division states that it is about ten years away from producing a workable Compact Fusion Reactor. Fusion power has long been the considered the "Holy Grail" of energy development and always seemed just out of reach. However, if Lockheed Martin's claims are true, it should be needless to say that the implications of this development are quite profound and  are a game-changer for energy development.

Related:

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Business is Good in Washington

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A record high $3 trillion in tax revenue was collected by the federal government FY 2014. Increases in personal income and corporate taxes by the Treasury Department shows the economy is ticking up. As a result, the budget deficit is at its lowest point since 2007 still at over $400 billion. In 2010 the deficit reached as high as $1.4 trillion. So, all in all, not bad with based on what we have to work.

In fiscal 2014 the federal government estimates revenue will be $3.0 trillion. State revenue for 2014 is "guesstimated" by usgovernmentrevenue.com at $1.6 trillion and local government revenue is "guesstimated" by usgovernmentrevenue.com at $1.1 trillion.
Total revenue at all levels of government in the United States is "guesstimated" by usgovernmentrevenue.com to be $5.4 trillion in 2014.

The bad news is that this will likely give our politicians the green light to spend more money and fight over the revenue, which will result in more gridlock. It is unlikely they will ride the healthy momentum toward eliminating deficits altogether and begin paying down the nations nearly $18 trillion debt. 

In government, increased revenue means increased spending.
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2012 Polls and Election: A cautionary tale for Democrats, and Republicans, for the 2014 Mid-Terms.

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Nate Silver, sabermetrician, political prognosticator, and proprietor of fivethirtyeight.com, reminds us of the Republican now infamous "the polls are skewed" in the 2012 presidential contest.  That Ostrich Effect which infected the GOP has now spread among the Democratic party-faithful.

However...this in no way, shape, or form means that the GOP should suffer from a bout of overconfidence about victory in the mid-terms as Silver highlights
This year’s Senate election is close. Republicans have the clearer path to a majority, but it’s a treacherous one. Republicans are favored in Iowa and Colorado, for example, but not by much. If Democrats eked out victories in those states and picked up the seat in Kansas (by persuading independent Greg Orman to caucus with them), they could control 50 Senate seats and keep their majority. Democrats could also still pick up seats from the GOP in Georgia and Kentucky. And Republican gains in Arkansas and Louisiana are probable but far from certain.

There are still three weeks left until voting day. Subsequently, there is still room for the GOP to flub this election by becoming brash and lazy. Thus throwing away their chances for a Senate majority.  
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