Blue Monday Reads

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Good Morning!

I waded through a few of the Sunday New Shows yesterday just to see what kinds of outrageous lies my governor would tell the nation in his search for the next big job opening.  Basically, watching any panel of Pressketeers is a depressing exercise in repetitive memes with the same-old same-olds. None of them are ever brighter than about a 20 watt bulb.  Alex Parene’ sums up my sentiments precisely. 

Finally, the “Meet the Press” panel. Each panel this morning was somehow worse than the one before. This one was Wall Street Journal scribbler Peggy “Lady Peggington Noonington” Noonan, Harold “Living Embodiment of Everything Wrong With American Politics” Ford Jr., NPR’s Steve “Objective Journalist Who is Implicitly Here to Represent the ‘Liberal’ Side Even Though He is Not a Liberal” Inskeep, and two representatives from NBC’s right-wing finance “news” station CNBC, Maria Bartiromo and Jim “Wrong About Everything and Sort of Crazy But Actually Not That Bad on Politics In Terms of CNBC Figures” Kramer.

Everyone said precisely what you’d expect them to say. Noonan was very sorrowful about how the president is going around making Americans feel scared by saying scary things about how the sequester will be bad for the economy. “I just have a bad feeling about going out and trying to scare the American people right in the middle of the Great Recession when everybody is nervous enough.” Ford and Noonan both agree that people in Washington need to “think big” and also leaders should show leadership. Pegs obviously blames the president for being mean to Republicans and being scary, but Ford had the much more controversial perspective that in the current situation, both sides are to blame for bad stuff. “No one, Democrat or Republican, can be pleased with how their party is performing,” he said, which is a very self-evidently untrue statement, because obviously lots of people can and do think their party has the right idea. But those people are “extreme partisans” and thus they do not count.

Inskeep basically said Republicans are willing to cut a revenue deal but are scared of it being called a tax hike. Bartiromo said the sequester won’t be so bad because “the markets” aren’t complaining. A few minutes went by and then Cramer said the stock market is doing well because “the markets” don’t believe the sequester will happen. That’s TV financial news in a nutshell, basically: Two completely opposite premises based on unknowable interpretations of the intentions of “the markets” stated with absolute certainty.

They closed, again, with Oscar talk. These people talking about who will win Oscars is absolutely perfect, because none of them have any clue — they don’t have any special insight into or expertise in the movie industry, or even film in general, they are just people who are on TV — but they were all very happy to explain what they thought would happen and why.

It’s hard to believe that people get paid so well to be that mundane and worthless.  Better we should be paid to watch it.  Oh, it get’s worse. Juan Mermaid Life magazine cover, June 5, 1931Williams is still complaining about getting fired for making bigoted statements about Muslims.  Hasn’t this dude figured out that this is bigotry and not just a dissident voice?

Fox News political analyst and “Special Report” panelist said in an interview with The Daily Caller’s Ginni Thomas that mainstream media outlets “stab” and “kill” dissenting voices.

Williams was fired from National Public Radio in 2010 after saying he sometimes gets “nervous” when seated on an airplane with Muslims, while making a broader point about the importance of religious tolerance.

“I always thought it was the Archie Bunkers of the world, the right-wingers of world, who were more resistant and more closed-minded about hearing the other side,” he said. “In fact, what I have learned is, in a very painful way — and I can open this shirt and show you the scars and the knife wounds — is that it is big media institutions who are identifiably more liberal to left-leaning who will shut you down, stab you and kill you, fire you, if they perceive that you are not telling the story in the way that they want it told.”

I’m sure Juan would’ve been very understanding of some lily white person talking about how they get “nervous” when walking near black men, yes?  The link goes to The Daily Caller and the host is the revolting Ginni Thomas.  Go there at risk to your own stomach contents.  I’m reminded again why I stick to the foreign press as a rule.  What a set of morons!

So, it’s an easy jump from the wife of Justice Long Dong Silver to the subject of pedophiles.  As BB can attest, there’s always been a huge debate in the study of human behavior and the role of nature v. nurture.  The study of men and pedophila is in the middle of that debate.  There will be a new pope.  Let’s hope this one had no role in enabling the churches’ baby rapers. Let’s also hope we can figure out ways to squash this horrible behavior no matter what the root.

And now new research suggests that some people are born with brains ‘wired’ for sexual attraction to children—or pedophilia—a propensity that’s further shaped by life experiences and often cannot be controlled.“Whatever the chain of events is, the chain begins before birth,” said James M. Cantor, a University of Toronto professor of psychiatry whose research team has made a series of startling correlations finding that pedophiles are likely to share physical attributes, such as slightly lower IQs, shorter body height, left-handedness and less brain tissue.

“There is no way to explain the findings that we get for pedophelia without mentioning or without including biology,” he recently told Canada’s Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers. “It is inescapable at this point. We cannot rule out psycho-social influences, but we cannot have a complete theory that cannot explain these non-obvious but but exquisitely important biological findings.”

Cantor’s findings have become big news not just because pedophilia is seen as one of the worst crimes—and its scandals and cover-ups don’t seem to end, whether in the Roman Catholic church or football-protecting universities. The idea that moral—and immoral—behavior has a basis in biology is the latest twist in the age-old debate of whether nature or nurture drives human action. For much of the 20 th century, psychologists looked more to the nurture side of the equation. But 21 st century science, with brain-scan imaging and computing power to analyze big data, are suggesting that both factors—one’s genes and one’s upbringing—shape human sexuality.

I’ll let BB check out the methodology and see what she thinks.

Ever heard of a Social Impact Bond?  It’s a new debt instrument used to raise money for social services. It’s being tested in the UK and US.  The Economist follows a homeless advocate in London whose  work is being funded in part via of this new type of investment.

The homelessness SIB is one of 14 that have now been issued or are in development in Britain, which pioneered the instrument back in 2010 with a bond funding a prisoner-rehabilitation programme in Peterborough. The idea is also winning fans elsewhere. New York city launched a SIB last year tackling recidivism among inmates at Rikers Island prison; Goldman Sachs is among the investors. Work is under way on three more American SIBs, one in New York state and two in Massachusetts. Jeffrey Liebman, a Harvard University professor who is providing technical assistance on all three, has just invited applications from other state and local governments to receive help setting up SIBs: 28 applied.

And there is rising emerging-market interest in SIBs, where they go under the name of “development-impact bonds”. According to Michael Belinsky of Instiglio, a start-up devoted to designing SIBs in poor countries, there is less scope for government savings to pay back investors in emerging markets because social safety nets are thinner. So international-development agencies are more likely to act as sponsors. Mr Belinsky is working on potential SIBs in India, to improve educational outcomes for girls in Rajasthan, and in Colombia, to reduce teenage-pregnancy and school drop-out rates.

As the buzz about SIBs increases, the questions will also become more searching. Projects which take many years to have an effect (the impact of pre-school education on university admissions, say) will not interest investors. Good data are crucial for measuring outcomes: that can be a problem in developing countries.

The hardest questions concern the returns that investors will demand if SIBs are to attract serious amounts of money. The Peterborough SIB dangles an annualised return of up to 13% if reoffending rates go down by enough; but investors lose everything if recidivism does not fall by at least 7.5%. That sort of equity risk is not going to appeal to many, acknowledges Nick Hurd, the British government minister for civil society. “SIBs need to evolve so that they become more like a debt instrument.”

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So, it seems only fitting that after banks make so many folks homeless through innovative financing that they now can now actually invest in homelessness.  I’m sure there’s a lesson in there some where but I’m just not prepared to delineate it right now.

Okay, so let me close with my  thing about what we can learn from grave sites.  Today’s lesson is that our teeth aren’t so great in comparison to our ancient ancestors.

Prehistoric humans didn’t have toothbrushes. They didn’t have floss or toothpaste, and they certainly didn’t have Listerine. Yet somehow, their mouths were a lot healthier than ours are today.

“Hunter-gatherers had really good teeth,” says Alan Cooper, director of the Australian Centre for Ancient DNA. “[But] as soon as you get to farming populations, you see this massive change. Huge amounts of gum disease. And cavities start cropping up.”

And thousands of years later, we’re still waging, and often losing, our war against oral disease.

Our changing diets are largely to blame.

In a study published in the latest Nature Genetics, Cooper and his research team looked at calcified plaque on ancient teeth from 34 prehistoric human skeletons. What they found was that as our diets changed over time — shifting from meat, vegetables and nuts to carbohydrates and sugar — so too did the composition of bacteria in our mouths.

Not all oral bacteria are bad. In fact, many of these microbes help us by protecting against more dangerous pathogens.

However, the researchers found that as prehistoric humans transitioned from hunting and gathering to farming, certain types of disease-causing bacteria that were particularly efficient at using carbohydrates started to win out over other types of “friendly” bacteria in human mouths. The addition of processed flour and sugar during the Industrial Revolution only made matters worse.

“What you’ve really created is an ecosystem which is very low in diversity and full of opportunistic pathogens that have jumped in to utilize the resources which are now free,” Cooper says.

And that’s a problem, because the dominance of harmful bacteria means that our mouths are basically in a constant state of disease.

Let me think about that last one.  “Our mouths are basically in a constant state of disease.”  Well, maybe that explains the Sunday Talk Shows and Gini Thomas.  I think it’s a deserving hypothesis, don’t you?

So, after a weekend of gray skies, storms spitting hail at my windows, and being shut in doors most of Saturday by a NOPD man hunt complete with SWAT teams and noisy swooping helicopters, I’m hoping Monday ends a little better than it’s starting. What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

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25 Comments on “Blue Monday Reads”

  1. Morning Dak, that program to invest in homelessness is something else. Wow.

    I have two things this morning, not sure if this has been posted yet…the White House has released a state by state sequester report: White House Releases New State-by-State Reports on the Impacts of the Sequester

    THE WHITE HOUSE Office of the Press Secretary February 24, 2013 White House Releases New State-by-State Reports on the Impacts of the Sequester WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the White House is releasing new state-by-state reports on the devastating impact the sequester will have on jobs and middle class families across the country if Congressional Republicans fail to compromise to avert the sequester by March 1st.

    The link to each state report can be found below:

    Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2013/02/24/184023/white-house-releases-new-state.html#storylink=cpy

    And

    Cardinal Keith O’Brien resigns amid claims of inappropriate behaviour | World news | guardian.co.uk

    Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the UK’s most senior Roman Catholic cleric, has resigned with immediate effect after being accused of “inappropriate acts” towards fellow priests.

    • RalphB says:

      On the sequester, there’s no way Republicans can control the messaged once it hits the states, cause while the Beltway gasbags could really give a fuck about spending cuts that disrupt ordinary American’s lives, a lot of local media will give the stories negative play.

      Volverines, Both sides do it, Waaaahhhhh.

  2. janicen says:

    “Lady Peggington Noonington” Hah!! I’m gonna steal that one! :-D

  3. Pat Johnson says:

    O/T but another high ranking cardinal will not be heading to Rome for the papal enclave due to charges of “sexual misconduct” in Great Britain.

    That makes 3 so far who will be staying close to home not packing their “moral compasses” in dictating how the rest of us must live.

    Oh well!

    • ANonOMouse says:

      The cardinals are probably staying home for the very reason RATzinger is Quitting, sexually salacious bad news reports and even more bad news reports on the horizon.

      Here’s how I, an ex-catholic, senior citizen, lesbian, see the current social circumstance of the catholic church.

      For an organization that rails against homosexuality the roman catholic church spent hundreds of years constructing a priesthood that rejects women and girls and creates environments where men are instructed to live a life of “celibacy”(HAHA!!!) by spending the vast majority of their social and professional lives in contact with men and boys only. In my mind those restrictions, particularly during the time when the celibacy doctrine began in the 12th Century and continuing until recently, would be a magnet for homosexual men, especially those with poor social skills. What better place for a young introverted gay man in the 12th/13th/14th/15th/16th/17th/18th/19th century to hide out than the priesthood or the brotherhood? I also see that environment as a magnet for pedophiles, not only because of the celibacy doctrine, but also because of the proximity to and the traditional role of male clergy to/with children, especially boy children.

      The entire hierarchy along with the dogma of the roman catholic church needs an overhaul. The catholic church must drop it’s self-serving witch-hunt against gays and lesbians (note that vocations to the priesthood and the convent have dropped dramatically with the evolution of the gay rights movement) because that witch-hunt has nothing to do with morality and everything to do with floundering vocations. The catholic church needs to open it’s doors to women, married men and gay people in it’s clergy. They need to air out their musty closets, but are incapable of that because if they do then everyone will see their greed, corruption and their centuries old contempt for the laity, or as I like to call them, THE MEAL TICKET.

      And for-the-record, I’ve known quite a few priests who are or have led actively gay lives. I also know several priests accused of pedophilia and a few who had heterosexual relationships, 5 who left the priesthood altogether to get married. So much for celibacy!!!

      • janicen says:

        You stated very well most of the reasons I left the Catholic Church. And then there’s that whole god thing, but the Catholics managed to take all that one step further and rather than worship an imaginary being, people are supposed to worship men. And not just men but men who enact rules to control women and keep them in a lower status than men. And now we are learning that these men have been hypocrites and in some cases rapists and pedophiles.

        I think there are a lot of good Catholics in the world, but I don’t see any of them in leadership roles in the Catholic church.

      • dakinikat says:

        For some odd reason, all of my best gf’s are ‘recovering Catholics’–including one that was a nun for awhile–and the worst relationships I’ve ever had are with men that were raised Catholic. That just about sums it up for me as some one who was raised a WASP.

      • ANonOMouse says:

        That’s so true Janicen. The papal infallibility dogma that elevates the Pope to the level of (a/the) god on matters of faith and morals is, to my mind, the equivalent of the Emperors and Pharoahs declaring themselves deities. When I hear reporters give the words of the Pope such weight and relevance I’m astonished at their complicity. When heads of State bow and scrape at the papal throne, I feel sickened by the spectacle. It’s a con of the highest order and one of the most devious control mechanisms ever designed by man to control and intimidate humankind. “Behave or you’ll go to hell if you don’t do as directed by the godly” is a very powerful weapon against the weak minded.

      • ANonOMouse says:

        “For some odd reason, all of my best gf’s are ‘recovering Catholics’–including one that was a nun for awhile”

        It’s a hard habit (no pun intended for the nuns) to break, especially if you were indoctrinated from K-12, 365/7/52. Imagine having cathecism and mass shoved at you 5 days a week during the school year and mass on Sunday 52 weeks a year, throughout the formative years. It’s a total brainwash. BTW, most of the women I know who became sisters/nuns, left the convent in the 70’s or 80’s. All I have to say is Thank Goodness for the civil rights movement, the women’s rights movement, the sexual revolution and the gay rights movement, All of those movements overlapping and/or happening simultaneously helped to free our spirits and open our minds.

      • janicen says:

        If you read Ken Follett’s masterpiece, Pillars of the Earth, you learn how the belief in the infallibility and godlike status of the clergy meant that civilization was able to survive throughout the middle ages. It was only this belief that allowed intellectuals and non-barbarians protection against the savagery that was everyday life back then. Follett’s sequel to “Pillars of the Earth”, “World Without End” then shows how that power was used and abused by the clergy to control the masses, particularly women.

        We are now in the 21st century. I think we can safely cast aside the belief in “going to hell” in order to prevent the wholesale slaughter of decent people by the barbaric hoards. At least hope so!

    • dakinikat says:

      Cardinal Keith O’Brien resigns as Archbishop

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-21572724

      Britain’s most senior Roman Catholic cleric, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, is stepping down as leader of the Scottish Catholic Church.

      He had been accused of inappropriate behaviour towards priests dating back to the 1980s – claims he contests.

      Cardinal O’Brien, the Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, apologised to “all whom I have offended” for “any failures” during his ministry.

      He will not take part in electing a new pope, leaving Britain unrepresented.

  4. hyperjoy says:

    correlations finding that pedophiles are likely to share physical attributes, such as slightly lower IQs, shorter body height, left-handedness and less brain tissue.

    Not too hard to understand. Slightly lower IQs, so they prefer children, with whom they are more likely to be intellectually equal or superior than they are to adults. Shorter body height, again the comparison, this time to their body height, is not so unfavorable to children as it is to adults. Left handedness, not sure, except if it indicates some damage to their brains at birth. Less brain tissue, see above, lower IQs.
    The data doesn’t necessarily indicate that these men are “hardwired” to children, but that they may be more likely to prefer children for the reasons stated above. Also, the male sense of entitlement may incline them to think they should get whatever they want even if it is detrimental to others and that they should be superior in abilities to those they sexually use.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Studies also show that most pedophiles were sexually abused as children. I haven’t looked at the reports of the study yet, but there’s a real problem with brain research done on adults. The structure of the brain actually develops in response to life experiences, so how do we know for sure that brain differences are innate? Just about every human characteristic reflects the interaction of genes and experience.

      Even IQ and height are influenced by environmental factors.

      • NW Luna says:

        That definition is very vague. Not to mention that given the normal curve, a fair amount of the population will have “slightly lower IQs, shorter body height, left-handedness and less brain tissue.”

        Brain tissue is nearly always proportionate to body size. So no miracle that smaller brains, i.e., less brain tissue, would be found in persons who are shorter.

        L-handedness is interestin, since most of the world is designed for the convenience of R-handed people.

  5. bostonboomer says:

    The Guardian: BP and Justice Department try for deal ahead of Deepwater Horizon trial

    The US Justice Department and BP were engaged Sunday in efforts to forge a last-minute deal to avert a trial over 2010’s deadly Deepwater Horizon disaster, set to begin in New Orleans on Monday.

    Over the weekend it was reported that the Justice Department and Gulf states were prepared to offer BP a $16bn deal to settle civil claims related to the fatal oil rig fire that cost 11 lives and triggered the largest oil spill in US history.

    But such a deal is at the high end of legal forecasts and for BP remains fraught with complications. Geoff Morrell, head of US communications at BP, said: “BP doesn’t talk about possible offers or negotiations, but I can tell you we are ready for trial and looking forward to the opportunity to present our case starting Monday.”

    A settlement is complicated by the demands of the five Gulf region states affected by the spill. Talks between the states, the Justice Department and BP collapsed last week as the states disagreed on the size of any deal and its structure.

    I hope they go to trial. That would make for more publicity.

    • RalphB says:

      Just the Federal fines could amount to $18 billion, then you have the states and the private claimants. I really hope BP gets crippled at least by any verdicts.

    • RalphB says:

      To be honest, I didn’t like him much. I thought the Oscar show was good in spite of him, not because of him.

      • janicen says:

        I wanted to like him, but he made it very difficult. The show was boring and I couldn’t wait for it to end. There should be three awards shows, The Tonys, The Grammys, and the Golden Globes. The Oscars and Emmys are so twentieth century!

        • dakinikat says:

          Let’s face it … it’s a situation where the country’s kewl/popular kids get to vote on who is most popular. That’s why ARGO won. It was a typical Hollywood movie staring typical Hollywood stars from the same dude that brought you all the Benifer crap. It’s the signal he can sit at the kewl kid’s table again.

  6. bostonboomer says:

    Robert Gibbs says when he became press secretary he was told not to even acknowledge the existence of the drone program.

  7. RalphB says:

    No sympathy for the devil about these sequester spending cuts :-) Least sympathetic evah!

    The Hill: Staff frustrated with lack of guidance from House leaders on sequester

    GOP leaders are giving precious little guidance to members about whether they’ll need to furlough aides or cut office budgets if the sequester goes into effect on Friday.

    A memo obtained by The Hill and sent to offices by the chairwoman of the House Administration Committee on Feb. 15 warned lawmakers their Members’ Representational Allowance (MRA) would be adjusted downward if the automatic spending cuts are triggered on March 1.

  8. Y’all gotta read this: The 2013 Oscars for America’s Foulest Hypocrites | Alternet

    The best actors in America are the business and government leaders who impersonate job creators and makers of prosperity. For their stellar performances over the past year, they deserve to be considered for the special awards listed below.

    Here are the nominees:

    BEST SCORE

    Facebook’s Eduardo Saverin scored big-time, landing Mark Zuckerberg as a roommate at Harvard, using American resources to score billions in income, and then revoking his citizenship to avoid paying any taxes.

    Thanks to a capital gains system that benefits the few over the many, the twenty richest Americans made more money in one year than the entire United States federal education budget.

  9. RalphB says:

    I felt sure this election would go to the center-left democrats. This could be a crappy result.

    BBC: Italy election: Early vote count points to impasse

    Early results from Italy’s election suggest the houses of parliament may split between left and right, causing new anxiety in the eurozone.

    Accorsing to early figures, Pier Luigi Bersani’s centre-left bloc is poised to take the lower house while Silvio Berlusconi’s centre-right appears to leading in the powerful Senate.

    A protest movement led by comedian Beppe Grillo has surged into third.