March 2010 Archives

Judge Rules Against Genetic Patents


Earlier this year in another post regarding patents on genetic material I said, "To me it is insane to allow corporations to claim ownership of gene sequences. Mere primary discovery of a sequence and its functions should not allow any particular company from barring others to either the information or allowing the company to exclusively profit from it. This is the same sort of problem as allowing genetically altered organisms or seeds to be made commodities."

Now a judge has sided with those concepts and handed down a judgment against the patenting of human genes.

Judge Invalidates Human Gene Patent

By John Schwartz and Andrew Pollack

A federal judge on Monday struck down patents on two genes linked to breast and ovarian cancer. The decision, if upheld, could throw into doubt the patents covering thousands of human genes and reshape the law of intellectual property

United States District Court Judge Robert W. Sweet issued the 152-page decision, which invalidated seven patents related to the genes BRCA1 and BRCA2, whose mutations have been associated with cancer.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the Public Patent Foundation at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York joined with individual patients and medical organizations to challenge the patents last May: they argued that genes, products of nature, fall outside of the realm of things that can be patented. The patents, they argued, stifle research and innovation and limit testing options.

Myriad Genetics, the company that holds the patents with the University of Utah Research Foundation, asked the court to dismiss the case, claiming that the work of isolating the DNA from the body transforms it and makes it patentable. Such patents, it said, have been granted for decades; the Supreme Court upheld patents on living organisms in 1980. In fact, many in the patent field had predicted the courts would throw out the suit.

Judge Sweet, however, ruled that the patents were "improperly granted" because they involved a "law of nature." He said that many critics of gene patents considered the idea that isolating a gene made it patentable "a 'lawyer's trick' that circumvents the prohibition on the direct patenting of the DNA in our bodies but which, in practice, reaches the same result."

The case could have far-reaching implications. About 20 percent of human genes have been patented, and multibillion-dollar industries have been built atop the intellectual property rights that the patents grant.

An Historical Moment in Physics


LHC sets 7 TeV collision record

GENEVA - The world's largest atom smasher conducted its first experiments at conditions nearing those after the Big Bang, breaking its own record for high-energy collisions with proton beams crashing into each other Tuesday at three times more force than ever before.

In a milestone for the $10 billion Large Hadron Collider's ambitious bid to reveal details about theoretical particles and microforces, scientists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN, collided the beams and took measurements at a combined energy level of 7 trillion electron volts.

cern.jpgThe collisions herald a new era for researchers working on the machine in a 17-mile (27-kilometer) tunnel below the Swiss-French border at Geneva.

"That's it! They've had a collision," said Oliver Buchmueller from Imperial College in London as people closely watched monitors.

In a control room, scientists erupted with applause when the first successful collisions were confirmed. Their colleagues from around the world were tuning in by remote links to witness the new record, which surpasses the 2.36 TeV CERN recorded last year.

Dubbed the world's largest scientific experiment, researchers hope the machine can approach on a tiny scale what happened in the first split seconds after the Big Bang, which they theorize was the creation of the universe some 14 billion years ago.

The extra energy in Geneva is expected to reveal even more about the unanswered questions of particle physics, such as the existence of antimatter and the search for the Higgs boson, a hypothetical particle that scientists theorize gives mass to other particles and thus to other objects and creatures in the universe.

LHC Homepage

סדר השתלשלות



Say It Loud, Say It Proud


It's one of the universally best if not the most utile word in the English language. You know the one...starts with F and ends with K and has nothing to do with fires or trucks...unless you are describing a particularly big one.

What's the 'big f-ing deal' about swearing?

By Emily Sohn

This week's historic health-care vote evoked strong reactions across the United States, including from the vice president of the United States. "This is a big f-ing deal," Joe Biden whispered to Barack Obama, as the men shook hands in front of a cheering crowd and an open mic.

Biden's remark was intended for Obama's ears only, but that nearby microphone broadcast his profanity to the world. Now, as blogs buzz about whether the comment was inappropriate or uncivil, language experts say that the slip is simply another example of how normal it is to swear in everyday speech.

In fact, while the specific words we consider vulgar have changed over time, curse words have been around for hundreds of years, maybe more. Words like the f-bomb are powerful because they do a particularly good job of expressing strong feelings.

"'Big f-ing deal' is a perfectly reasonable thing to say when you're talking to a friend about something that was a big f-ing deal," said Geoff Nunberg, a linguist at the University of California, Berkeley's School of Information. "It's emphatic and has an intensity of emotion. To say 'This was certainly a big deal,' or, 'This was an awfully big deal,' does not convey that emotion."

It's their taboo status that gives swear words power: the more restrictions you put on something, the more alluring it is to say. In saying something that we're not really supposed to say, we're pointing out that this topic is so important to us that we're willing to cross boundaries to make that clear.

There may be another reason why we swear so much. Studies by psychologist Timothy Jay, of the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams, have found that swearing can provide both emotional release and relief from pain.

"People have a sense of catharsis, they feel better after using this kind of language," Jay told Discovery News. "Most people look at swearing as a bad thing that you shouldn't do, without asking what the positive aspects of it are."

Satan, Get Thee Behind Me...

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...on second thought, wait a minute!

Oh the irony of using an expensive and evil machine to test for cancer that actually causes cancer and all because people fear having things stuck up their butts.

Actually, as usual,its about the money:

The battle between the two sides intensified over a push by some device manufacturers and radiologists to use CT scans routinely to screen healthy patients for lung, colon and other cancers. At stake was another rapid increase in radiation exposures and scans worth hundreds of millions of dollars annually.

Scientists Say F.D.A. Ignored Radiation Warnings

By Gardiner Harris

Urgent warnings by government experts about the risks of routinely using powerful CT scans to screen patients for colon cancer were brushed aside by the Food and Drug Administration, according to agency documents and interviews with agency scientists.

After staying quiet for a year, the scientists say they plan to make their concerns public at a meeting of experts on Tuesday called by the F.D.A. to discuss how to protect patients from unnecessary radiation exposures. The two-day meeting is part of a growing reassessment of the risks of routine radiology. The average lifetime dose of diagnostic radiation has increased sevenfold since 1980, driven in part by the increasing popularity of CT scans. Such scans can deliver the radiation equivalent of 400 chest X-rays.

An estimated 70 million CT (for computed tomography) scans are performed in the United States every year, up from three million in the early 1980s, and as many as 14,000 people may die every year of radiation-induced cancers as a result, researchers estimate.

Sam's Sermonette

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Science can answer moral questions

Welcome to America: The Remix


Sometimes I wish there was a smart bomb that could be dropped on all the people stupid enough to consider themselves Teabaggers.

Whose Country Is It?

By Charles M. Blow

The far-right extremists have gone into conniptions.

The bullying, threats, and acts of violence following the passage of health care reform have been shocking, but they're only the most recent manifestations of an increasing sense of desperation.

It's an extension of a now-familiar theme: some version of "take our country back." The problem is that the country romanticized by the far right hasn't existed for some time, and its ability to deny that fact grows more dim every day. President Obama and what he represents has jolted extremists into the present and forced them to confront the future. And it scares them.

Even the optics must be irritating. A woman (Nancy Pelosi) pushed the health care bill through the House. The bill's most visible and vocal proponents included a gay man (Barney Frank) and a Jew (Anthony Weiner). And the black man in the White House signed the bill into law. It's enough to make a good old boy go crazy.

Hence their anger and frustration, which is playing out in ways large and small. There is the current spattering of threats and violence, but there also is the run on guns and the explosive growth of nefarious anti-government and anti-immigrant groups. In fact, according to a report entitled "Rage on the Right: The Year in Hate and Extremism" recently released by the Southern Poverty Law Center, "nativist extremist" groups that confront and harass suspected immigrants have increased nearly 80 percent since President Obama took office, and anti-government "patriot" groups more than tripled over that period.

Politically, this frustration is epitomized by the Tea Party movement. It may have some legitimate concerns (taxation, the role of government, etc.), but its message is lost in the madness. And now the anemic Republican establishment, covetous of the Tea Party's passion, is moving to adsorb it, not admonish it. Instead of jettisoning the radical language, rabid bigotry and rising violence, the Republicans justify it. (They don't want to refute it as much as funnel it.)

There may be a short-term benefit in this strategy, but it's a long-term loser.

A Quinnipiac University poll released on Wednesday took a look at the Tea Party members and found them to be just as anachronistic to the direction of the country's demographics as the Republican Party. For instance, they were disproportionately white, evangelical Christian and "less educated ... than the average Joe and Jane Six-Pack." This at a time when the country is becoming more diverse (some demographers believe that 2010 could be the first year that most children born in the country will be nonwhite), less doctrinally dogmatic, and college enrollment is through the roof. The Tea Party, my friends, is not the future.

You may want "your country back," but you can't have it. That sound you hear is the relentless, irrepressible march of change. Welcome to America: The Remix.

And loudly. childish homophobia rearing its ugly little head full of bigoted assumptions here.

Marine officer: Gays, straights shouldn't share housing

The Marine Corps' top officer says he would want to avoid housing gay and heterosexual Marines in the same rooms on base if the ban on gays openly serving in the military is lifted.

"I would not ask our Marines to live with someone that's homosexual if we can possibly avoid it," Marine Commandant Gen. James Conway told a Web site in an interview posted Friday. "And to me that means we've got to build [barracks] that have single rooms."

Asked about the possibility of gay and straight Marines living together, Conway told the site that he would "want to preserve the right of a Marine that thinks he or she wouldn't want to do that -- and that's the overwhelming number of people that say they wouldn't like to do so."

Conway said the Marine Corps is the only branch of the armed services that houses two to a room.

Or :

"Yeah, gays are ok, I guess, but I wouldn't want one to marry my son or daughter."

I wonder if the preserving the rights of marines who didn't want to room with with a Black was used as an excuse when racial integration in the military was first implemented? Boehner Mashup


It had to be done.

New Concept Urban Car from GM


gmconceptcar.jpgAn EN-V, or "Electric Networked-Vehicle", is driven by a General Motors' staff member during an event to unveil its new concept car in Shanghai March 24, 2010. General Motors will share with its China joint venture partner, SAIC Motor Corp during the World Expo to be held in Shanghai from May through October 2010. The two-seater EN-V, which would be networked with other cars to help avoid accidents and ease traffic in congested major cities like Shanghai, would not hit showrooms for another 10-20 years. "In the EN-V we are really showing a new concept, for not just electrified vehicles but a reinvented vehicle experience for mega cities," Alan Taub, GM's vice president for global research and development, told reporters in Shanghai.

The Privatization of Student Loans Scam

Student Loans: The Right's Hidden Agenda

Click here for our new report on the ties between the private student lending industry and the six Democratic anti-reform Senators, and click here to tell your Senators: Don't let lobbyists gut student loan reform.

By Sara Robinson

President Obama's "no-brainer" suggestion that the government get back into the direct lending business has such obvious fiscal merit that you'd think it would melt the heart of the most obdurate conservative. But it's getting resistance anyway -- which is proof that there's more than money at stake here. This proposal threatens two of the conservatives' most cherished goals; and they're willing to waste as much taxpayer money as it takes to keep us from backsliding away from the progress they've made.

The first goal is preserving privatization. The conservatives have been telling us for 40 years that there's nothing the government can do that the free market can't do better. Of course, most of us really get it now that "privatization" really means "paying 25% more for the same stuff and letting the private sector skim off the profit while sticking us with the messes." While privatization has worked well in some areas, it's been a disaster in others -- and this is one of them.

The conservatives are demanding that we pay a totally unnecessary premium for our student loan programs because a) their banking friends are pocketing a fortune off the program and b) we must not ever question the proposition that the private sector can do this better. It's just bad form, bad taste, and bad politics to suggest otherwise, even when it's patently obvious that the actual goods or services we're getting cost considerably more -- and are produced with less oversight and lower standards -- than what we used to get directly from the government. Therefore: Obama's brazen suggestion that we need to bring this program back into the public fold is outright heresy. If Americans figure out that the government really can do this one thing better than the private sector does, this piece of the conservative gospel could be called into question in other areas as well. The right will not stand for this.

The other goal -- and this is what I'm really on about today -- is all about the right wing's fundamental distrust of the middle class. One of their big takeaways from the 1960s was that giving the masses a high level of education (as the GI Bill and the generous educational subsidies to the Boomers did) is one of the worst mistakes a would-be aristocracy can make. Send 'em to college, and the next thing you know, you've got a big, boisterous, pushy middle class pouring out into the streets demanding their "rights," asking the rich to share their wealth, questioning their bought-and-paid for government policies, and devising technocratic "fixes" to problems the corporate masters really would rather ignore. You can't manipulate 'em -- they're too smart for that -- so you can't make 'em do what you want. The upshot is exactly the kind of social chaos no self-respecting plutocrat should ever let happen on their watch.

Seen this way, defunding education -- especially higher education -- for the middle class and poor was one of the conservatives' most important (and effective) strategies for pulling the plug on the whole postwar progressive project. Best of all: over time, it blunted the influence of that despised class of degreed professionals (journalists, lawyers, accountants, engineers, biologists, etc. etc. etc.) who once aggressively monitored private industry on behalf of the public interest. Without those watchful eyes and ears, it got much easier for corporations to do whatever they pleased.

hat tip to Mr Baker:

via email

Three Little Words That Work !!

(1)The three little words are: 'Hold On, Please...'

Saying this, while putting down your phone and walking off (instead of hanging-up immediately) would make each telemarketing call so much more time-consuming that boiler room sales would grind to a halt.

Then when you eventually hear the phone company's 'beep-beep-beep' tone, you know it's time to go back and hang up your handset, which has efficiently completed its task.

These three little words will help eliminate telephone soliciting.

(2) Do you ever get those annoying phone calls with no one on the other end?

This is a telemarketing technique where a machine makes phone calls and records the time of day when a person answers the phone.

This technique is used to determine the best time of day for a 'real' sales person to call back and get someone at home.

What you can do after answering, if you notice there is no one there, is to immediately start hitting your # button on the phone, 6 or 7 times, as quickly as possible This confuses the machine that dialed the call and it kicks your number out of their system. Gosh, what a shame not to have your name in their system any longer !!!

(3) Junk Mail Help:
When you get 'ads' enclosed with your phone or utility bill, return these 'ads' with your payment. Let the sending companies throw their own junk mail away.

When you get those 'pre-approved' letters in the mail for everything from credit cards to 2nd mortgages and similar type junk, do not throw away the return envelope.

Most of these come with postage-paid return envelopes, right? It costs them more than the regular 41 cents postage 'IF' and when they receive them back..

It costs them nothing if you throw them away! The postage was around 50 cents before the last increase and it is according to the weight. In that case, why not get rid of some of your other junk mail and put it in these cool little, postage-paid return envelopes.

4) One of Andy Rooney's (60 minutes) ideas.

Send an ad for your local chimney cleaner to American Express. Send a pizza coupon to Citibank. If you didn't get anything else that day, then just send them their blank application back!
If you want to remain anonymous, just make sure your name isn't on anything you send them.

You can even send the envelope back empty if you want to just to keep them guessing! It still costs them 41 cents.

The banks and credit card companies are currently getting a lot of their own junk back in the mail, but folks, we need to OVERWHELM them. Let's let them know what it's like to get lots of junk mail, and best of all they're paying for it...Twice!

Let's help keep our postal service busy since they are saying that e-mail is cutting into their business profits, and that's why they need to increase postage costs again You get the idea !

If enough people follow these tips, it will work ---- I have been doing this for years, and I get very little junk mail anymore.

Then of course there's this.

What's Wrong With America?


This level of ignorance and out right stupidity:


Imagine the advancements this country could make if it weren't encumbered by these club brained mental cripples. I mean, nearly 1 out of 4 of the GOP believes Obama is the Antichrist? How seriously screwed up is that?

Now Comes the Big Push


Help if you can.


Obama Signs Landmark Health Care Bill


A succinct and astute response From: F.M. Baker Jr:

To President Barack H. Obama

March 23, 2010

Dear President Obama,

Well done.

Sincerely Yours,

Theodore Roosevelt
Woodrow Wilson
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Harry S. Truman
Dwight D. Eisenhower
John F. Kennedy
Lyndon B. Johnson
Richard M. Nixon
James E. Carter
William J. Clinton


cc: William H. Taft
Warren G. Harding
Calvin Coolidge
Herbert C. Hoover
Gerald R. Ford
Ronald W. Reagan
George H.W. Bush
George W. Bush

Democracy Restoration Act


I couldn't agree more with the intent of the proposed Act or this related NY Times editorial:

Ex-Offenders and the Vote

Millions of ex-offenders who have been released from prison are denied the right to vote. That undercuts efforts to reintegrate former prisoners into mainstream society. And it goes against one of democracy's most fundamental principles: that governments should rule with the consent of the governed.

Congress held hearings last week on a bill, the Democracy Restoration Act, that would allow released ex-felons to vote in federal elections. It would also require the states, which administer elections, to give them appropriate notice that this right has been restored.

Voting rights are largely set by state law, and many states prohibit people who have been convicted of crimes from voting in state and federal elections.

Currently, about four million Americans who have been released from prison are disenfranchised in federal elections by laws barring people with felony convictions from voting.

Many of the laws disenfranchising former criminals date back to the post-Civil War era and were used to prevent freed slaves from voting. These laws still have a significant racial impact. About 13 percent of black men in this country are denied the right to vote by criminal disenfranchisement laws, more than seven times the rate for the population as a whole.

There is no good reason to deny former prisoners the vote. Once they are back in the community -- paying taxes, working, raising families -- they have the same concerns as other voters, and they should have the same say in who represents them.

Disenfranchisement laws also work against efforts to help released prisoners turn their lives around. Denying the vote to ex-offenders, who have paid their debt, continues to brand them as criminals, setting them apart from the society they should be rejoining.

Although elections are generally considered state matters, the federal government has a proud tradition of enacting laws, like the Voting Rights Act of 1965, when states wrongly deprive some of their citizens of the franchise. For reasons of both principle and sensible social policy, Congress should step in and give ex-offenders the right to vote.

House passes health care bill


Such as it least its a start.

One question - Was Stupak's hold out over abortion concerns actually a clever tactical ruse?

At the moment of passage:

healthcarevote.jpgFinal vote was yea 219 nay 212

Boehner couldn't even be his typical boner self, just an "chew the scenery" hysterical dick.

Fear Strikes Out

By Paul Krugman

The day before Sunday's health care vote, President Obama gave an unscripted talk to House Democrats. Near the end, he spoke about why his party should pass reform: "Every once in a while a moment comes where you have a chance to vindicate all those best hopes that you had about yourself, about this country, where you have a chance to make good on those promises that you made ... And this is the time to make true on that promise. We are not bound to win, but we are bound to be true. We are not bound to succeed, but we are bound to let whatever light we have shine."

And on the other side, here's what Newt Gingrich, the Republican former speaker of the House -- a man celebrated by many in his party as an intellectual leader -- had to say: If Democrats pass health reform, "They will have destroyed their party much as Lyndon Johnson shattered the Democratic Party for 40 years" by passing civil rights legislation.

I'd argue that Mr. Gingrich is wrong about that: proposals to guarantee health insurance are often controversial before they go into effect -- Ronald Reagan famously argued that Medicare would mean the end of American freedom -- but always popular once enacted.

But that's not the point I want to make today. Instead, I want you to consider the contrast: on one side, the closing argument was an appeal to our better angels, urging politicians to do what is right, even if it hurts their careers; on the other side, callous cynicism. Think about what it means to condemn health reform by comparing it to the Civil Rights Act. Who in modern America would say that L.B.J. did the wrong thing by pushing for racial equality? (Actually, we know who: the people at the Tea Party protest who hurled racial epithets at Democratic members of Congress on the eve of the vote.)

And that cynicism has been the hallmark of the whole campaign against reform.

Yes, a few conservative policy intellectuals, after making a show of thinking hard about the issues, claimed to be disturbed by reform's fiscal implications (but were strangely unmoved by the clean bill of fiscal health from the Congressional Budget Office) or to want stronger action on costs (even though this reform does more to tackle health care costs than any previous legislation). For the most part, however, opponents of reform didn't even pretend to engage with the reality either of the existing health care system or of the moderate, centrist plan -- very close in outline to the reform Mitt Romney introduced in Massachusetts -- that Democrats were proposing.

Instead, the emotional core of opposition to reform was blatant fear-mongering, unconstrained either by the facts or by any sense of decency.

It wasn't just the death panel smear. It was racial hate-mongering, like a piece in Investor's Business Daily declaring that health reform is "affirmative action on steroids, deciding everything from who becomes a doctor to who gets treatment on the basis of skin color." It was wild claims about abortion funding. It was the insistence that there is something tyrannical about giving young working Americans the assurance that health care will be available when they need it, an assurance that older Americans have enjoyed ever since Lyndon Johnson -- whom Mr. Gingrich considers a failed president -- pushed Medicare through over the howls of conservatives.

And let's be clear: the campaign of fear hasn't been carried out by a radical fringe, unconnected to the Republican establishment. On the contrary, that establishment has been involved and approving all the way. Politicians like Sarah Palin -- who was, let us remember, the G.O.P.'s vice-presidential candidate -- eagerly spread the death panel lie, and supposedly reasonable, moderate politicians like Senator Chuck Grassley refused to say that it was untrue. On the eve of the big vote, Republican members of Congress warned that "freedom dies a little bit today" and accused Democrats of "totalitarian tactics," which I believe means the process known as "voting."

Without question, the campaign of fear was effective: health reform went from being highly popular to wide disapproval, although the numbers have been improving lately. But the question was, would it actually be enough to block reform?

And the answer is no. The Democrats have done it. The House has passed the Senate version of health reform, and an improved version will be achieved through reconciliation.

This is, of course, a political victory for President Obama, and a triumph for Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker. But it is also a victory for America's soul. In the end, a vicious, unprincipled fear offensive failed to block reform. This time, fear struck out.

A Sermon to Heed


We can march in Copenhagen. We can join Bill McKibben's worldwide day of climate protests. We can compost in our backyards and hang our laundry out to dry. We can write letters to our elected officials and vote for Barack Obama, but the power elite is impervious to the charade of democratic participation. Power is in the hands of moral and intellectual trolls who are ruthlessly creating a system of neo-feudalism and killing the ecosystem that sustains the human species. And appealing to their better nature, or seeking to influence the internal levers of power, will no longer work.

We Stand on the Cusp of one of Humanity's Most Dangerous Moments

We will have to resist the temptation to fold in on ourselves and to ignore the cruelty outside our door.

By Chris Hedges

Aleksandr Herzen, speaking a century ago to a group of anarchists about how to overthrow the czar, reminded his listeners that it was not their job to save a dying system but to replace it: "We think we are the doctors. We are the disease." All resistance must recognize that the body politic and global capitalism are dead. We should stop wasting energy trying to reform or appeal to it. This does not mean the end of resistance, but it does mean very different forms of resistance. It means turning our energies toward building sustainable communities to weather the coming crisis, since we will be unable to survive and resist without a cooperative effort.

These communities, if they retreat into a pure survivalist mode without linking themselves to the concentric circles of the wider community, the state and the planet, will become as morally and spiritually bankrupt as the corporate forces arrayed against us. All infrastructures we build, like the monasteries in the Middle Ages, should seek to keep alive the intellectual and artistic traditions that make a civil society, humanism and the common good possible. Access to parcels of agricultural land will be paramount. We will have to grasp, as the medieval monks did, that we cannot alter the larger culture around us, at least in the short term, but we may be able to retain the moral codes and culture for generations beyond ours. Resistance will be reduced to small, often imperceptible acts of defiance, as those who retained their integrity discovered in the long night of 20th-century fascism and communism.

We stand on the cusp of one of the bleakest periods in human history when the bright lights of a civilization blink out and we will descend for decades, if not centuries, into barbarity. The elites have successfully convinced us that we no longer have the capacity to understand the revealed truths presented before us or to fight back against the chaos caused by economic and environmental catastrophe. As long as the mass of bewildered and frightened people, fed images that permit them to perpetually hallucinate, exist in this state of barbarism, they may periodically strike out with a blind fury against increased state repression, widespread poverty and food shortages. But they will lack the ability and self-confidence to challenge in big and small ways the structures of control. The fantasy of widespread popular revolts and mass movements breaking the hegemony of the corporate state is just that - a fantasy.

My analysis comes close to the analysis of many anarchists. But there is a crucial difference. The anarchists do not understand the nature of violence. They grasp the extent of the rot in our cultural and political institutions, they know they must sever the tentacles of consumerism, but they naïvely believe that it can be countered with physical forms of resistance and acts of violence. There are debates within the anarchist movement - such as those on the destruction of property - but once you start using plastic explosives, innocent people get killed. And when anarchic violence begins to disrupt the mechanisms of governance, the power elite will use these acts, however minor, as an excuse to employ disproportionate and ruthless amounts of force against real and suspected agitators, only fueling the rage of the dispossessed.

I am not a pacifist. I know there are times, and even concede that this may eventually be one of them, when human beings are forced to respond to mounting repression with violence. I was in Sarajevo during the war in Bosnia. We knew precisely what the Serbian forces ringing the city would do to us if they broke through the defenses and trench system around the besieged city. We had the examples of the Drina Valley or the city of Vukovar, where about a third of the Muslim inhabitants had been killed and the rest herded into refugee or displacement camps. There are times when the only choice left is to pick up a weapon to defend your family, neighborhood and city. But those who proved most adept at defending Sarajevo invariably came from the criminal class. When they were not shooting at Serbian soldiers they were looting the apartments of ethnic Serbs in Sarajevo and often executing them, as well as terrorizing their fellow Muslims. When you ingest the poison of violence, even in a just cause, it corrupts, deforms and perverts you. Violence is a drug, indeed it is the most potent narcotic known to humankind. Those most addicted to violence are those who have access to weapons and a penchant for force. And these killers rise to the surface of any armed movement and contaminate it with the intoxicating and seductive power that comes with the ability to destroy. I have seen it in war after war. When you go down that road you end up pitting your monsters against their monsters. And the sensitive, the humane and the gentle, those who have a propensity to nurture and protect life, are marginalized and often killed. The romantic vision of war and violence is as prevalent among anarchists and the hard left as it is in the mainstream culture. Those who resist with force will not defeat the corporate state or sustain the cultural values that must be sustained if we are to have a future worth living. From my many years as a war correspondent in El Salvador, Guatemala, Gaza and Bosnia, I have seen that armed resistance movements are always mutations of the violence that spawned them. I am not naïve enough to think I could have avoided these armed movements had I been a landless Salvadoran or Guatemalan peasant, a Palestinian in Gaza or a Muslim in Sarajevo, but this violent response to repression is and always will be tragic. It must be avoided, although not at the expense of our own survival.

Democracy, a system ideally designed to challenge the status quo, has been corrupted and tamed to slavishly serve the status quo. We have undergone, as John Ralston Saul writes, a coup d'état in slow motion. And the coup is over. They won. We lost. The abject failure of activists to push corporate, industrialized states toward serious environmental reform, to thwart imperial adventurism or to build a humane policy toward the masses of the world's poor stems from an inability to recognize the new realities of power. The paradigm of power has irrevocably altered and so must the paradigm of resistance alter.

Too many resistance movements continue to buy into the facade of electoral politics, parliaments, constitutions, bills of rights, lobbying and the appearance of a rational economy. The levers of power have become so contaminated that the needs and voices of citizens have become irrelevant. The election of Barack Obama was yet another triumph of propaganda over substance and a skillful manipulation and betrayal of the public by the mass media. We mistook style and ethnicity - an advertising tactic pioneered by the United Colors of Benetton and Calvin Klein - for progressive politics and genuine change. We confused how we were made to feel with knowledge. But the goal, as with all brands, was to make passive consumers mistake a brand for an experience. Obama, now a global celebrity, is a brand. He had almost no experience besides two years in the senate, lacked any moral core and was sold as all things to all people. The Obama campaign was named Advertising Age's marketer of the year for 2008 and edged out runners-up Apple and Take it from the professionals. Brand Obama is a marketer's dream. President Obama does one thing and Brand Obama gets you to believe another. This is the essence of successful advertising. You buy or do what the advertisers want because of how they can make you feel.

We live in a culture characterized by what Benjamin DeMott called "junk politics." Junk politics does not demand justice or the reparation of rights. It always personalizes issues rather than clarifying them. It eschews real debate for manufactured scandals, celebrity gossip and spectacles. It trumpets eternal optimism, endlessly praises our moral strength and character, and communicates in a feel-your-pain language. The result of junk politics is that nothing changes, "meaning zero interruption in the processes and practices that strengthen existing, interlocking systems of socioeconomic advantage."

The cultural belief that we can make things happen by thinking, by visualizing, by wanting them, by tapping into our inner strength or by understanding that we are truly exceptional is magical thinking. We can always make more money, meet new quotas, consume more products and advance our career if we have enough faith. This magical thinking, preached to us across the political spectrum by Oprah, sports celebrities, Hollywood, self-help gurus and Christian demagogues, is largely responsible for our economic and environmental collapse, since any Cassandra who saw it coming was dismissed as "negative." This belief, which allows men and women to behave and act like little children, discredits legitimate concerns and anxieties. It exacerbates despair and passivity. It fosters a state of self-delusion. The purpose, structure and goals of the corporate state are never seriously questioned. To question, to engage in criticism of the corporate collective, is to be obstructive and negative. And it has perverted the way we view ourselves, our nation and the natural world. The new paradigm of power, coupled with its bizarre ideology of limitless progress and impossible happiness, has turned whole nations, including the United States, into monsters.

We can march in Copenhagen. We can join Bill McKibben's worldwide day of climate protests. We can compost in our backyards and hang our laundry out to dry. We can write letters to our elected officials and vote for Barack Obama, but the power elite is impervious to the charade of democratic participation. Power is in the hands of moral and intellectual trolls who are ruthlessly creating a system of neo-feudalism and killing the ecosystem that sustains the human species. And appealing to their better nature, or seeking to influence the internal levers of power, will no longer work.

We will not, especially in the United States, avoid our Götterdämmerung. Obama, like Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the other heads of the industrialized nations, has proven as craven a tool of the corporate state as George W. Bush. Our democratic system has been transformed into what the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin labels inverted totalitarianism. Inverted totalitarianism, unlike classical totalitarianism, does not revolve around a demagogue or charismatic leader. It finds expression in the anonymity of the corporate state. It purports to cherish democracy, patriotism, a free press, parliamentary systems and constitutions while manipulating and corrupting internal levers to subvert and thwart democratic institutions. Political candidates are elected in popular votes by citizens but are ruled by armies of corporate lobbyists in Washington, Ottawa or other state capitals who author the legislation and get the legislators to pass it. A corporate media controls nearly everything we read, watch or hear and imposes a bland uniformity of opinion. Mass culture, owned and disseminated by corporations, diverts us with trivia, spectacles and celebrity gossip. In classical totalitarian regimes, such as Nazi fascism or Soviet communism, economics was subordinate to politics. "Under inverted totalitarianism the reverse is true," Wolin writes. "Economics dominates politics - and with that domination comes different forms of ruthlessness."

Inverted totalitarianism wields total power without resorting to cruder forms of control such as gulags, concentration camps or mass terror. It harnesses science and technology for its dark ends. It enforces ideological uniformity by using mass communication systems to instill profligate consumption as an inner compulsion and to substitute our illusions of ourselves for reality. It does not forcibly suppress dissidents, as long as those dissidents remain ineffectual. And as it diverts us it dismantles manufacturing bases, devastates communities, unleashes waves of human misery and ships jobs to countries where fascists and communists know how to keep workers in line. It does all this while waving the flag and mouthing patriotic slogans. "The United States has become the showcase of how democracy can be managed without appearing to be suppressed," Wolin writes.

Strange Optics



Ponzi Forever


It seems where ever you look, some scam or another is surfacing on a weekly basis and the lot of us realize we have been taken again for the suckers we are. I've railed for years about the stupidity of basing our economic and political lives on a caveat emptor premise. Reap what you sow, jerks. Now we are confronted with the ugly truth that every aspect of our culture from business to personal relationships has been infested with scamming of one sort or another.

How Our Entire Economy Became a Ponzi Scheme

by Andy Kroll /

We're only just discovering how widespread the rip-off schemes riddling our economy are.

Every great American boom and bust makes and breaks its share of crooks. The past decade -- call it the Ponzi Era -- has been no different, except for the gargantuan scale of white-collar crime. A vast wave of financial fraud swelled in the first years of the new century.  Then, in 2008, with the subprime mortgage collapse, it crashed on the shore as a full-scale global economic meltdown.  As that wave receded, it left hundreds of Ponzi and pyramid schemes, as well as other get-rich-quick rackets that helped fuel our recent economic frenzy, flopping on the beach.

The high-water marks from that crime wave, those places where the corruption reached its zenith, are still visible today, like the 17th floor of 885 Third Avenue in midtown Manhattan, the nerve center of investment firm Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities -- and, as it turned out, a $65 billion Ponzi scheme, the largest in history. Or Stanfordville, a sprawling compound on the Caribbean island of Antigua named for its wealthy owner, a garrulous Texan named Allen Stanford who built it with funds from his own $8 billion Ponzi scheme. Or the bizarrely fortified law office -- security cards, surveillance cameras, hidden microphones, a private elevator -- of Florida attorney Scott Rothstein, who duped friends and investors out of $1.2 billion.

The more typical marks of the Ponzi Era, though, aren't as easy to see. Williamston, Michigan, for instance, lacks towering skyscrapers, Italian sports cars, million-dollar mansions, and massive security systems. A quiet town 15 miles from Lansing, the state capital, Williamston is little more than a cross-hatching of a dozen or so streets. A "DOLLAR TIME$" store sits near Williamston's main intersection -- locals affectionally call it the "four corners" -- and its main drag is lined with worn brick buildings passed on from one business to the next like fading, hand-me-down jeans. It's here, far from New York or Antigua, that thanks to two brothers seized by a financial fever dream, the Ponzi Era made its truest, deepest American mark.

Jay and Eric Merkle, active church members and successful local businessmen, were well known among Williamston's residents. In 2004, the brothers discovered that an oil-and-gas venture, which they had invested in and which promised them quick, lucrative returns, was a scam. They'd been duped. Their next move should have been simple: turn in the crooks and get on with their lives, their pockets a few dollars lighter. Jay and Eric, however, grasped the spirit of their age and made another decision entirely -- they teamed up with the guys who had ripped them off, in the process switching from prey to predator.

That first venture actually floundered, but in 2005, court records show, they started their own Ponzi scheme, Platinum Business Industries (PBI).  Based in Williamston, PBI claimed it was socking its investors' money into lucrative oil and gas exploration opportunities in Oklahoma and Texas, and it promised the investors absurdly high returns -- 6% a month, or 72% a year. Despite such promises, the brothers assured town locals handing over their hard-earned dollars that little risk was involved.  Even if the energy exploration didn't pay off, the land acquired by PBI was valuable and could be sold to offset any losses.

Like Madoff in Palm Beach, the Merkles in Williamston exploited local ties -- church and family -- to reel in new investors; and like Madoff's investment fund, PBI, too, was a complete sham, and a classic Ponzi scheme -- that is, an investment scam in which existing investors' returns are paid for with money from new investors.  In the case of PBI, there was no energy exploration in Oklahoma and Texas.

Some of the money they received from later investors the Merkles used to pay off earlier ones and give their scheme the look of success. But in their case, there was a rub. The Merkles were distinctly creatures of the Ponzi Era: they evidently couldn't help themselves.  Even as they ran their own Ponzi racket, documents show, they were getting fleeced.  What they weren't paying out in fake returns the Merkles bet on high-yield, get-rich-quick schemes in the U.S. and abroad that had nothing to do with oil and gas -- and other Ponzi schemers and con artists were robbing them blind.

Their financial crime spree collapsed in 2008. Dead-broke, with investigators closing in, they told investors that various foreign governments and banks had frozen their assets.  The brothers then asked them to wire more than a million dollars to Nigeria, Ghana, and other countries as "fees" to release their money, even as they warned them against cooperating with an FBI investigation. Then, on a brisk autumn day in October 2008, the feds arrested to the two brothers; the game was up. In all, via PBI and other scams, they had duped more than 600 investors out of $50 million, robbing some of their life savings.

Making Suspended Animation Real


Incredible advances have brought the concept of mediated metabolism for humans within reach. The goal at present is to use lowered metabolism as a means of treating trauma victims with hydrogen sulfide to induce a temporary suspended animated state long enough to get them to treatment centers.

Fun With Condoms


Other than the usual fun, that is:


Free Hidden Energency Electricity



Interval Exercise and Diabetes Type II


Study: Working out for less time effective

Researchers from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, had seven men exercise for just one minute on a stationary bike at the highest intesity they were capable of. This one-minute burst was followed by a minute of rest, another minute of intense exercise, and so on, until partipants reached 20 minutes total - 10 exercising, 10 resting.

Participants were subjected to muscle biopsies before and after training, and specific attention was paid to the number of mitochondria - the tiny powerhouses in each cell.

intervaltraining.jpg"People's risk of type 2 diabetes is inversely related to the amount of mitochondria in cells," said professor Martin Gibala, the study's lead investigator. "After the high-intensity training, the amount of mitochondria went up to levels that we've seen in traditional endurance training, 4-5 hours per week."

Translated: muscle fitness in just 20 minutes.

Of course interval training is nothing new - elite athletes have been training with intervals for years, but Gibala says the goal here was to prove that anybody - not just the finely tuned athletes - could train with intervals.

"We've been doing interval training research for years now, but the model we've not something people can use in everyday life," said Gibala. "In this study, we used a less-extreme model of interval training using a standard stationary bike. It's a safer and more realistic for the everyday person, and still time efficient."

But, exercise experts say the only downside to short bursts of high-intensity training - by itself - can be a lack of muscle endurance.

"It depends on what benefit you're looking for," said Forrest Pecha, director of athletic training services at Emory University Sports Medicine. "If you're looking to build cardiovascular endurance, interval training only works in conjunction with longer, more sustained workouts."

If, however, you're looking to simply get in shape, and time is your enemy, Pecha says, intervals may be right for you.

Snidely Bowler ?



hat tip John De Silveira

Proposing a Universal DNA Database


Welcome to Gattica.

The "stopping crime" rationale for this proposal to collect DNA samples from every individual at birth, is exactly the same as the fear mongering rationales used to curtail civil rights in the name of safety from terrorism and it is fraught with exactly the same dangers of unintended state control over every aspect of our lives. One of the principle safeguards of personal freedom is the ability to restrict efficiency of the state.

The major benefactors of such a universal database would be the police and companies that could potentially profit from such information. We have already naively given up far too much information about ourselves for our own good and I find this proposal as repugnant as the idea of a universal fingerprint database insofar as it represents just another means of chipping away at the premise of individual privacy.

I may be a socialist, but I'm not a statist. I believe that government can serve the common good, but I also distrust bureaucracies and the vested interests that far too often manipulate them for their own purposes.

To Stop Crime, Share Your Genes

By Michael Seringhaus

Perhaps the only thing more surprising than President Obama's decision to give an interview for "America's Most Wanted" last weekend was his apparent agreement with the program's host, John Walsh, that there should be a national DNA database with profiles of every person arrested, whether convicted or not. Many Americans feel that this proposal flies in the face of our "innocent until proven guilty" ethos, and given that African-Americans are far more likely to be arrested than whites, critics refer to such genetic collection as creating "Jim Crow's database."

In truth, however, this is an issue where both sides are partly right. The president was correct in saying that we need a more robust DNA database, available to law enforcement in every state, to "continue to tighten the grip around folks who have perpetrated these crimes." But critics have a point that genetic police work, like the sampling of arrestees, is fraught with bias. A better solution: to keep every American's DNA profile on file.

Your sensitive genetic information would be safe. A DNA profile distills a person's complex genomic information down to a set of 26 numerical values, each characterizing the length of a certain repeated sequence of "junk" DNA that differs from person to person. Although these genetic differences are biologically meaningless -- they don't correlate with any observable characteristics -- tabulating the number of repeats creates a unique identifier, a DNA "fingerprint."

The genetic privacy risk from such profiling is virtually nil, because these records include none of the health and biological data present in one's genome as a whole. Aside from the ability in some cases to determine whether two individuals are closely related, DNA profiles have nothing sensitive to disclose.

But for law enforcement, the profiles are hugely important: DNA samples collected from crime scenes are compared against a standing database of profiles, and matches are investigated. Obviously, the more individuals profiled in the database, the more likely a crime-scene sample can be identified, hence the president's enthusiasm to expand the nationwide repository.

The current federal law-enforcement database, the Combined DNA Index System, or Codis, was designed for profiles of convicted criminals. When it became operational in 1998, only certain classes of convicted criminals (for instance, sex offenders) were profiled. Over the past decade, the list of qualifying crimes has quietly grown (states make their own laws on collection). And last year, the F.B.I. joined more than a dozen states and moved to include DNA profiles from arrestees not yet convicted.

There are several key problems with this approach to expanding the database. First, the national DNA database is racially skewed, as blacks and Hispanics are far more likely than whites to be convicted of crimes. Creating profiles of arrestees only adds to that imbalance.

Idiocracy is not Just a Movie


Texas is proving that It also has real life counterparts who are literally serving to dumb down the population. Where the movie is poignantly satirical, the educational situation being foisted by these Texan Republican dodos is nothing but tragic.What's always astonishing to me is the degree of stupidity and irrationality exampled by Americans in positions of power. How can people be smart enough to gain office and social position and yet still be so incredibly provincial and unable to detect the obvious fallibility of their arguments?

Texas Conservatives Win Curriculum Change

By James C. McKinley Jr.

After three days of turbulent meetings, the Texas Board of Education on Friday approved a social studies curriculum that will put a conservative stamp on history and economics textbooks, stressing the superiority of American capitalism, questioning the Founding Fathers' commitment to a purely secular government and presenting Republican political philosophies in a more positive light.

The vote was 10 to 5 along party lines, with all the Republicans on the board voting for it.

The board, whose members are elected, has influence beyond Texas because the state is one of the largest buyers of textbooks. In the digital age, however, that influence has diminished as technological advances have made it possible for publishers to tailor books to individual states.

In recent years, board members have been locked in an ideological battle between a bloc of conservatives who question Darwin's theory of evolution and believe the Founding Fathers were guided by Christian principles, and a handful of Democrats and moderate Republicans who have fought to preserve the teaching of Darwinism and the separation of church and state.

Since January, Republicans on the board have passed more than 100 amendments to the 120-page curriculum standards affecting history, sociology and economics courses from elementary to high school. The standards were proposed by a panel of teachers.

"We are adding balance," said Dr. Don McLeroy, the leader of the conservative faction on the board, after the vote. "History has already been skewed. Academia is skewed too far to the left."

Battles over what to put in science and history books have taken place for years in the 20 states where state boards must adopt textbooks, most notably in California and Texas. But rarely in recent history has a group of conservative board members left such a mark on a social studies curriculum.

Efforts by Hispanic board members to include more Latino figures as role models for the state's large Hispanic population were consistently defeated, prompting one member, Mary Helen Berlanga, to storm out of a meeting late Thursday night, saying, "They can just pretend this is a white America and Hispanics don't exist."

"They are going overboard, they are not experts, they are not historians," she said. "They are rewriting history, not only of Texas but of the United States and the world."

Happy Pi Day


Health Care Bill in a Positive Light


While I understand Dennis Kucinich's idealistic position on this bill, he's wrong to vote against it. I side more with Krugman'as view.

Health Reform Myths

by Paul Krugman

Health reform is back from the dead. Many Democrats have realized that their electoral prospects will be better if they can point to a real accomplishment. Polling on reform -- which was never as negative as portrayed -- shows signs of improving. And I've been really impressed by the passion and energy of this guy Barack Obama. Where was he last year?

But reform still has to run a gantlet of misinformation and outright lies. So let me address three big myths about the proposed reform, myths that are believed by many people who consider themselves well-informed, but who have actually fallen for deceptive spin.

The first of these myths, which has been all over the airwaves lately, is the claim that President Obama is proposing a government takeover of one-sixth of the economy, the share of G.D.P. currently spent on health.

Well, if having the government regulate and subsidize health insurance is a "takeover," that takeover happened long ago. Medicare, Medicaid, and other government programs already pay for almost half of American health care, while private insurance pays for barely more than a third (the rest is mostly out-of-pocket expenses). And the great bulk of that private insurance is provided via employee plans, which are both subsidized with tax exemptions and tightly regulated.

The only part of health care in which there isn't already a lot of federal intervention is the market in which individuals who can't get employment-based coverage buy their own insurance. And that market, in case you hadn't noticed, is a disaster -- no coverage for people with pre-existing medical conditions, coverage dropped when you get sick, and huge premium increases in the middle of an economic crisis. It's this sector, plus the plight of Americans with no insurance at all, that reform aims to fix. What's wrong with that?

A Great Little Animated Short


Logorama via FilmDrunk:


I'm Beck's New Target


Oh No!!!

I love this guy...he's always been a hero of mine.

About this talk

In this archival footage from BBC TV, celebrated physicist Richard Feynman explains what fire, magnets, rubber bands (and more) are like at the scale of the jiggling atoms they're made of. This accessible, enchanting conversation in physics reveals a teeming nano-world that's just plain fun to imagine.

About Richard Feynman

One of the best known and most renowned scientists in history, Richard Feynman pioneered quantum mechanics. His knack for accessible explanations made him a popularizer of physics of equal... Full bio and more links

An Open Letter from Michael Moore

President Obama: Replace Rahm with Me ...

Friday, March 5th, 2010

Dear President Obama,

I understand you may be looking to replace Rahm Emanuel as your chief of staff.

I would like to humbly offer myself, yours truly, as his replacement.

I will come to D.C. and clean up the mess that's been created around you. I will work for $1 a year. I will help the Dems on Capitol Hill find their spines and I will teach them how to nonviolently beat the Republicans to a pulp.

And I will help you get done what the American people sent you there to do. I don't need much, just a cot in the White House basement will do.

Now, don't get too giddy with excitement over my offer, because you and I are going to be up at 5 in the morning, 7 days a week and I am going to get you pumped up for battle every single day (see photo). Each morning you and I will do 100 jumping jacks and you will repeat after me:


Then we will put on our jogging sweats and run up to Capitol Hill. We will take names, kick butts, and then take some more names. If we have to give a few noogies or half-nelson's, then so be it. In our pockets we will have a piece of paper to show the pansy Dems just how much they won by in 2008 -- and the poll results that show the majority of Americans oppose the Afghanistan and Iraq wars and want the bankers punished. Like drill sergeants, we will get right up in their faces and ask them, "WHAT PART OF THE PUBLIC MANDATE DON'T YOU UNDERSTAND, SOLDIER?!! DROP AND GIVE ME 50!"

I know this is the job Rahm Emanuel was supposed to be doing.

Now, don't get me wrong. I have always admired Rahm Emanuel (if you don't count his getting NAFTA pushed through Congress in the '90s which destroyed towns like Flint, Michigan. I know, picky-picky.). He is what we needed for a long time -- a no-apologies, take-no-prisoners fighting machine. Someone who is not afraid to get his hands dirty and pound the right wing into submission. Far from being the foul-mouthed bully he has been portrayed as, Rahm is the one who BEAT UP the bullies to protect us from them.

That's certainly what he did in 2006. After six long, miserable years of the middle-class getting slaughtered and the poor being flushed down the toilet, Rahm Emanuel took on the job of returning Congress to the Democrats. No one believed it could be done.

But he did it. Big time. He put the fear of God into the party of Rush and Newt. They had never been so scared. More importantly, though, he instilled a sense of hope in the Democrats that they could actually score the mother of all hat tricks in 2008 -- and with you, an African American no less, in the pole position!

It worked. The Darkness ended. The vast majority of nation wept with joy on the night of the election (those who weren't weeping went out and bought a record number of guns and ammo). Unlike the last president, you didn't "win" by 537 votes in Florida (although Gore won the popular vote by a half-million), you beat McCain nationally by 9,522,083 votes! The House Democrats got a walloping 79-vote margin. The Senate Dems would caucus with a supermajority of 60 votes unheard of in over 30 years. The wars would now end. America would have universal health care. Wall Street and the banks would, at the very least, be reined in. Hardworking citizens would not be thrown out of their homes. It was supposed to be the dawning of a new age.

But the Republicans were not going to go quietly into the night. You see, instead of having just one Rahm Emanuel, they are ALL Rahm Emanuels. That's why they usually win. Unlike most Democrats, they are relentless and unstoppable. When they believe in something (which is usually themselves and the K Street job they hope to be rewarded with someday), they'll fight for it till the death. They are loyal to a fault to each other (they were never able to denounce Bush, even though they knew he was destroying the party). They dig their heels in deep no matter what. If you exiled them to a lone chunk of melting polar ice cap, they would keep insisting that it was just a normal "January thaw," even as the frigid Arctic waters rose above their God-fearing necks ("See what I mean -- this water is COLD! What 'global *warming*'?! Adam and Eve rode dinos...aagghh!!... gulp gulp gulp").

We thought we were all done with this craziness, but we were mistaken. Like a beast that you just can't cage, the Republicans convinced not only the media, but YOU and your fellow Dems, that 59 votes was a *minority*! Precious time was lost trying to reach a "consensus" and trying to be "bipartisan."

Well, you and the Democrats have been in charge now for over a year and not one banking regulation has been reinstated. We don't have universal health care. The war in Afghanistan has escalated. And tens of thousands of Americans continue to lose their jobs and be thrown out of their homes. For most of us, it's just simply no longer good enough that Bush is gone. Woo hoo. Bush is gone. Yippee. That hasn't created one new friggin' job.

You're such a good guy, Mr. President. You came to Washington with your hand extended to the Republicans and they just chopped it off. You wanted to be respectful and they decided that they were going to say "no" to everything you suggested. Yet, you kept on saying you still believed in bipartisanship.

Well, if you really want bipartisanship, just go ahead and let the Republicans win in November. Then you'll get all the bipartisanship you want.

Let me be clear about one thing: The Democrats on Election Day 2010 are going to get an ass-whoopin' of biblical proportions if things don't change right now. And after the new Republican majority takes over, they, along with a few conservative Democrats in Congress, will get to bipartisanly impeach you for being a socialist and a citizen of Kenya. How nice to see both sides of the aisle working together again!

And the brief window we had to fix this country will be gone.


Gone, baby, gone.

I don't know what your team has been up to, but they haven't served you well. And Rahm, poor Rahm, has turned into a fighter -- not of Republicans, but of the left. He called those of us who want universal health care "f***ing retarded." Look, I don't know if Rahm is the problem or if it's Gibbs or Axelrod or any of the other great people we owe a debt of thanks to for getting you elected. All I know is that whatever is fueling your White House it's now running on fumes. Time to shake things up! Time to bring me in to get you pumped up every morning! Go Barack! Yay Obama! Fight, Team, Fight!

I'm packed and ready to come to D.C. tomorrow. If it helps, you won't really be losing Rahm entirely because I'll be bringing his brother with me -- my agent, Ari Emanuel. Man, you should see HIM negotiate a deal! Have you ever wanted to see Mitch McConnell walking around Capitol Hill carrying his own head in his hands after it's just been handed to him by the infamous Ari? Oh, baby, it won't be pretty -- but boy will it be sweet!

What say you, Barack? Me and you against the world! Yes we can! It'll be fun -- and we may just get something done. Whaddaya got to lose? Hope?

Retardedly yours,
Michael Moore

HexaKopter: Car of the Future?


Imagine this large scale with noise suppressor systems in place.

MikroKopter - HexaKopter from Holger Buss on Vimeo.

How big would this have to be to carry a human?
Could the arms be made to fold up for "parking"?
Since it uses GPS, it could travel to preassigned destinations.
It could be equipped with radar collision avoidance and parachute for safety.
What's the fuel and efficiency?
What would be the cost?

Good Riddence IE6


i hardly knew ye...but you know what they say about all things not Scottish.

'Funeral' held for aging Web browser

By Stephanie Goldberg

More than 100 people, many of them dressed in black, were expected to gather around a coffin Thursday night to say goodbye to an old friend.

The deceased? Internet Explorer 6.

iefuneral.jpgThe aging Web browser, survived by its descendants Internet Explorer 7 and Internet Explorer 8, was to be eulogized at a tongue-in-cheek "funeral" hosted by Aten Design Group, a design firm in Denver, Colorado.

The memorial service was to feature a coffin holding a "body" that has an IE6 logo for a head. Attendees were expected to eulogize the Microsoft browser by sharing remembrances, some of which have already been posted on the company's online funeral invitation.

"I feel terrible admitting this, but ... I never really liked him," posted someone who gave his name as Eddie Escher. "He had so many hang-ups, and he looked awful -- especially in his later years. But... he was always there when you needed him. You have to give him that."

Finally Obama Gets It Out There


Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Big bonuses don't mean big results


By Daniel H. Pink

What really motivates us? And what motivational techniques lead us to work smarter and live better? Those are questions that behavioral scientists around the world have been exploring for the past half-century. Their answers might surprise you.

In laboratory experiments and field studies, a band of psychologists, sociologists and economists have found that many carrot-and-stick motivators -- the elements around which we build most of our businesses and many of our schools -- can be effective, but that they work in only a surprisingly narrow band of circumstances.

For enduring motivation, the science shows, a different approach is more effective. This approach draws not on our biological drive or our reward-and-punishment drive, but on what we might think of as our third drive: Our innate need to direct our own lives, to learn and create new things, and to do better by ourselves and our world.

In particular, high performance -- especially for the complex, conceptual tasks we're increasingly doing on thejob -- depends far more on intrinsic motivators than on extrinsic ones.

Read more about Daniel Pink's talk at TEDGlobal2009

With these conclusions in mind, here are a few ways to tap your third drive and enlist the science of motivation at work, with your children and in your personal life.

Reforming the Free Market Ruse


Do you believe there will be actual financial reform? I don't. The vested interested are just too strong and the American public is still too duped by "free market" propaganda promises of eventual personal wealth even in the middle of extreme proofs to the contrary to demand it from their representatives (who haven't really been representing them anyway for quite a while now). I understand Krugman's warning plaint here, but it seems to me he's yelling in the midst of a hurricane.

"Why are the most risky loan products sold to the least sophisticated borrowers? The question answers itself -- the least sophisticated borrowers are probably duped into taking these products."

Is it important that this protection be provided by an independent agency? It must be, or lobbyists wouldn't be campaigning so hard to prevent that agency's creation.

Financial Reform Endgame

by Paul Krugman

So here's the situation. We've been through the second-worst financial crisis in the history of the world, and we've barely begun to recover: 29 million Americans either can't find jobs or can't find full-time work. Yet all momentum for serious banking reform has been lost. The question now seems to be whether we'll get a watered-down bill or no bill at all. And I hate to say this, but the second option is starting to look preferable.

The problem, not too surprisingly, lies in the Senate, and mainly, though not entirely, with Republicans. The House has already passed a fairly strong reform bill, more or less along the lines proposed by the Obama administration, and the Senate could probably do the same if it operated on the principle of majority rule. But it doesn't -- and when you combine near-universal Republican opposition to serious reform with the wavering of some Democrats, prospects look bleak.

How did we get to this point? And should reform advocates accept the compromises that might yet produce some kind of bill?

Many opponents of the House version of banking reform present their position as one of principle. House Republicans, offering their alternative proposal, claimed that they would end banking excesses by introducing "market discipline" -- basically, by promising not to rescue banks in the future.

But that's a fantasy. For one thing, governments always, when push comes to shove, end up rescuing key financial institutions in a crisis. And more broadly, relying on the magic of the market to keep banks safe has always been a path to disaster. Even Adam Smith knew that: he may have been the father of free-market economics, but he argued that bank regulation was as necessary as fire codes on urban buildings, and called for a ban on high-risk, high-interest lending, the 18th-century version of subprime. And the lesson has been confirmed again and again, from the Panic of 1873 to Iceland today.

I suspect that even Republicans, in their hearts, understand the need for real reform. But their strategy of opposing anything the Obama administration proposes, coupled with the lure of financial-industry dollars -- back in December top Republican leaders huddled with bank lobbyists to coordinate their campaigns against reform -- has trumped all other considerations.

That said, some Republicans might, just possibly, be persuaded to sign on to a much-weakened version of reform -- in particular, one that eliminates a key plank of the Obama administration's proposals, the creation of a strong, independent agency protecting consumers. Should Democrats accept such a watered-down reform?

I say no.

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