Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Interesting article on what parts of stimulus spending have the most impact on the economy. Tax cuts return less than a dollar to the economy per dollar spent, while direct payments like food stamps and unemployment benefits return more than a dollar per dollar spent. Makes sense... the unemployed have to spend on basics like food and housing.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
|Title||Unbound: A True Story of War, Love, and Survival|
|Tags||non-fiction, history, china, long march, women, communists|
|When the Chinese Nationalists threatened to destroy the Communist forces in 1934, the Communists marched in several armies almos at 4000 miles. A force that began as 86,000 strong ended the march with under 10,000 left alive.Unbound tells the story of 30 women, almost all of whom survived the entire march. Their stories personalize what was an incredible story of privation, death, and courage. Americans have an allergy to almost anything about Communism. But this is a really worthwhile tale to read. Communists, like anyone else, are not all evil. So many became Communists because it promised equality to all. Certainly the life of a Chinese peasant was, as Thomas Hobbes said, "nasty, brutish, and short." The title of this book, indeed, is a reminder of one of the worst injustices against women, the crippling and painful binding of feet so that they were no more than 3 inches long. A few of the women marchers had bound feet. It is no wonder, then, that women were attracted to the promise of a more equal society. The women who survived became most of the women in China who had any real power after the Communist takeover. Some lost power or were killed in the Cultural Revolution of the 60s.It is a tale of incredible hardship. There was starvation, the sheer physical exertion of walking so far. Some of the women were stretcher bearers for the wounded and sick. The march passed over very high mountains that brought on freezing and altitude sickness. Hardest of all is that a few of the women had babies and had to abandon them with a few coins and the hope that someone kind would find them and take care of them. And, of course, they were under constant threat and sometimes reality of attack by the Nationalists, who were the more brutal of the two sides.The author traveled the entire march route, and by doing so, is able to tell the story with real feeling. Judge the visceral impact of the story by this: I was reading the book while having dinner at a restaurant. When my entree arrived, I had moments of sheer astonishment that such a bounty of food existed. Yet the author is also an academic and is detached enough to explain things that did not reflect well on the Communists as well as those that do. The book is a highly recommended work of history.|
|Publication||Little, Brown and Company (2010), Edition: 1, Hardcover, 432 pages|
|ISBN||0316167088 / 9780316167086|
Thursday, June 24, 2010
You realize of course that your soul will not - Lolcats 'n' Funny Pictures of Cats - I Can Has Cheezburger?
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
This article links to several and illustrates a concern that all of them are pretty much carbon copies of each other, which may argue that the other companies are not much better placed to deal with a spill than BP. In fact one of the oil execs admitted as much in testimony. I think some of the other companies are using back-up blow out preventers, and have had fewer safety violations than BP though.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Bishop Moses of Nigeria who consecrated the woman most responsible for the witch hunts in that country that have killed or wounded many children has spoken at an American church. If you are promoting people who harm children, your religion is not one that speaks of the love that was the most enduring characteristic of Jesus.
Monday, June 21, 2010
Excellent article on the main group, Exodus, that claims it can "cure" people of homosexuality. The article points out that not only have they largely failed, even with their leadership, but they have done much harm. We don't know how many suicides have resulted from their work.
...is getting worse. People have lost hope that freedom can be won quickly... but I wish the regime in charge would realize that the more they crackdwon, the more they ensure that change will come. Sadly I think the more brutal the repression the more violent the revolution in response.
He takes everybody to task, which is appropriate, and adds to the fears I've had for years that the partisan gridlock means that government is simply unable to function on the serious issues that may spell dissaster for our country and the world, such as the economy and the environment.
...for only $10 million. I know plenty of witches and Pagans (the differences is similar to Baptists are a subset of Protestants), for real, who would do it for free and I'm sure are already doing it. We are, after all, an earth-based religion, which means we are very oriented to the environment.
...opens Friday. I'm horrified by the homophobia, of course, but also by the secrecy of the degree the Church backed Prop 8. First, it might be illegal - some are trying to get the IRS to investigate how much Church resources were used for the campaign, which is illegal. The documentary also shows the effects the Mormon intolerance of homosexuality has had on Mormon LGBT people.
Friday, June 18, 2010
Just watched and enjoyed this PBS miniseries. Franklin was such an astounding individual, and what is most amazing about the Founding Fathers is what a collection of astounding individuals came together, each with different strengths, to make America happen. John Adams had the passion for independence that, with help, persuaded the Continental Congress to declare for it. Thomas Paine had the writing talent to persuade the American public of its Common Sense. Jefferson words in the Declaration has sparked more than one revolution. Washington, with his strong sense of duty, took on the military role against impossible odds, and Franklin's diplomatic skills finally wrung from France the French troops and Navy without which independence would not have happened. There were many others, not as famous, who were part of it as well. They all had flaws, too... Adams, for one, had no diplomatic skills and almost torpedoed Franklin's efforts with the French.
The miniseries pointed out a couple of things that really resonate with me and I think have something to say to our country today. Almost the first thing they pointed out was that Franklin was born only fifteen years after the Salem witch trials, that monument to the evils that can be perpetrated by irrationality and particularly irrationality due to the evil use of religion. Those who argue that the U.S. was established as a Christian nation not only get their facts wrong, they misunderstand a lot about the Founding Fathers and their times. They lived when each colony had its established church, mostly Anglican or Congregationalist. Preachers of other denominations were often beaten, jailed, and fined..if not worse. The Founding Fathers were much closer in time to the wars of religion that devastated large parts of Europe. Many of them blamed clerics for some of humanity's worst oppressions, and they saw reason as the better guide to human affairs. I think Franklin, Adams, and Jefferson would be appalled today by the irrational excesses and authoritarian nature of today's religious fundamentalism, whether it be Christian, Islamic, or other.
However, the miniseries pointed out how much Franklin's religion/philosophy was based on the idea of service, of making the world better. He and Jefferson, while not being convinced of the divinity of Jesus, thought he created the best system of morals in the world. Jefferson went so far as to create his own Bible, which cut out the miracles but kept the philosophy. I think they would be as appalled by our loss of moral leadership, the careless narcissm of so many (including myself), and that we basically do the equivalent of fiddling while Rome - now the planet - burns...and it seems we can do nothing effective to stop it.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Thursday, June 3, 2010
A young man in this speech stands up for his principles, even though they are unpopular with his school administration and his fellow students, and does it well.
By the way, one reason I often have doubts about the holiness of fundamentalist Christianity is how often people who make a stand like this young man did receive death threats and other harassment. There is also the fact that the religious right often lies. For example, in the Dover, PA intelligent design case one of the fundamentalists advocating ID lied about what was said in a meeting and slandered two reporters who were there. (see Lauri Lebo's book The Devil in Dover). Yes, I know there are some fine and ethical people who are part of the religious right, including my brother and sister-in-law, but there are too many of the other type as well.
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
This is a huge change, and a move towards a brighter future. For so many, including me, this isn't a matter that touches on personal relationship status. It is a matter of justice.
"But let justice roll down like the waters, And righteousness like an ever-flowing stream."
- From the Book of Amos, quote used in the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Alabama.
From a press release from the Sunlight Foundation:
"Today, the Sunlight Foundation’s Reporting Group published an analysis that shows British Petroleum was blamed for roughly 8,000 reported incidents of spills, emissions and leaks of oil, chemicals and gases into the environment (http://reporting.sunlightfoundation.com/2010/british-petroleum/). This analysis is based on data collected by the National Resource Data from reports filed by the company reporting on itself, whistleblowers and the public."
By the way, the Sunlight Foundation does marvelous work in the area of making government more transparent.