We continue to see abuse of labor from the horrible explosions in a West, Texas chemical plant to the collapse of a building in Bangladesh. US workers continue to get the shaft when it comes to working harder and more productively for less. It is a sad trend that just keeps reaching new records. The gap between incomes going to workers and profits going to owners–mostly passive stockholders–continues unabated. This gap does not reflect a lack of labor productivity. It appears to reflect mostly the ability of capital owners to gamble themselves into strong positions. Industrialists are force to drive down costs to attract capital and to do some very short sighted things. The rush to increase ROE with no thought to other factors is a very bad omen for this country.
Corporate profit margins just hit another all-time high. Companies are making more per dollar of sales than they ever have before. If you’re a shareholder, that seems like good news (in the very short term, anyway). Alas, most people aren’t shareholders. And for folks whose investment horizon is longer than “this quarter” and “this year,” it’s actually bad news. Companies are under-investing in their employees and the future.
It’s May Day, and Henry Blodget is celebrating — if that’s the right word — with three charts, of which the most germane is the one above. It shows total US wages as a proportion of total US GDP — a number which continues to hit all-time lows. Blodget also puts up the converse chart — corporate profits as a percentage of GDP. That line, you won’t be surprised to hear, is hitting new all-time highs. He’s clear about how destructive these trends are:
Low employee wages are one reason the economy is so weak: Those “wages” are represent spending power for consumers. And consumer spending is “revenue” for other companies. So the short-term corporate profit obsession is actually starving the rest of the economy of revenue growth.
In other words, we’re in a vicious cycle, where low incomes create low demand which in turn means that there’s no appetite to hire workers, who in turn become discouraged and drop out of the labor force. Blodget’s third chart is one we’re all familiar with: the employment-to-population ratio, which fell off a cliff during the Great Recession and which will probably never recover. The current “recovery” is not actually a recovery for the bottom 99%, for real people who need to live on paychecks. And today is exactly the right day to point that out.
And yet that’s Tom Friedman’s column this May Day:
If you are self-motivated, wow, this world is tailored for you. The boundaries are all gone. But if you’re not self-motivated, this world will be a challenge because the walls, ceilings and floors that protected people are also disappearing. That is what I mean when I say “it is a 401(k) world.”
This manages to be both incomprehensible and incredibly offensive at the same time. I have no idea what Friedman thinks he’s talking about when he blathers on about disappearing protective floors; I can only hope that he isn’t making a super-tasteless reference to the recent disaster in Bangladesh. But it’s simply wrong that today’s world is “tailored” for anybody who happens to be “self-motivated”. Both the self and the motivation are components of labor, not capital, and as such they’re on the losing side of the global economy, not the winning side.
Friedman is a billionaire (by marriage) who — like all billionaires these days — is convinced that he achieved his current prominent position by merit alone, rather than through luck and through the diligent application of cultural and financial capital. His paean to self-motivation recalls nothing so much as Margaret Thatcher’s “there is no such thing as society” quote: “parenting, teaching or leadership that ‘inspires’ individuals to act on their own will be the most valued of all,” he writes, bizarrely choosing to wrap his scare quotes around the word “inspires” rather than around the word “leadership”, where they belong.
True leadership, in a society where the workers are failing to be paid even half the fruits of their labor, would involve attempting to turn the red line in Blodget’s chart around, and to spread the nation’s prosperity among all its citizens. Rather than telling everybody that they’re “on their own” and that if they’re not a success then hey, they’re probably just not “self-motivated” enough.
The ultimate Friedman kick in the balls, however, doesn’t come from his lazily meritocratic priors. Rather, it comes from his overarching metaphor: the idea that if you have a 401(k) plan, then you’re somehow in charge of your own destiny. Friedman might be right that we’re living in a 401(k) world, but if he is then he’s right for the wrong reason. In Friedman’s mind, a 401(k) plan is an icon of self-determination: you get out what you put in. “Your specific contribution,” he writes, italics and all, “will define your specific benefits.”
We are learning more and more each day on how the finance industry games the kinds of investments available to you in those plans. We also know that mega corporations are getting congress to defund OSHA and any regulatory agency that watches over worker safety. Many investments are also subject to whacked performance because of excessive speculation that is encouraged by our tax laws. This has destroyed home values during the Great Recession and eaten up many folks retirement plans and savings. Frankly, it’s difficult to see how any one that relies on their sweat and has no rich family connections these days even crawls into the middle class. All of these things add up to major insecurities and risks. This is simply not the way things are supposed to work. But, it is the world that the Koch Brothers and others have carefully crafted by making politicians and pundits whores to their agenda of greed.
Pity the poor working man and woman.
Good Morning and
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Hope everyone enjoys their day, I am also hopeful that today we see justice prevail. A verdict is expected in the Steubenville Rape Trial . We will let you know if and when the verdict does come down…
I will start this post off with some political news, CPAC is over, the conservative party has tried to rebrand their image…they sure haven’t changed one bit. Not that I expected anything different, but the conservative nut cases definitely made some people feel unwelcome to the party.
Another graphic example of the right wing’s “minority outreach:” CPAC: Black Man Tossed Out After Breitbart Hack Screams at Him ‘Race Doesn’t Matter’.
In this video from CPAC, a black man seems like he sincerely interested in helping find a way for conservatives to appeal to other African Americans, but then he suddenly gets screamed on by a white guy who insists that “race doesn’t matter.” Which in short, summarizes why the Republicans continually lose the vote of any group that doesn’t have white skin.
And the whole scene was caught on tape:
And if you think this was the only disgusting racist outburst at CPAC you would be mistaken…When The GOP Told Whitey I Aint Gonna Take It No More
Yesterday, a CPAC breakout session on reaching out to black voters broke down in shouting and acrimony as a handful of ‘disenfranchised whites’ attacked the premise of the session (along with black complaints about slaveholders), got into a verbal fight with a black female attendee and with all that managed to unite the crowd against the black woman as the one who somehow spoiled all the fun.
TPM’s Benjy Sarlin was there right as it was all happening and wrote this eye-popping account in more or less real time.
the bigger thing coming out of this raucous event isn’t what the one or two people said — though that was probably enough to be the takeaway for many for the entire conference — as the fact that the whole imbroglio ended with denunciations of the black woman who was the one person to go into freak out mode — pretty understandably — on hearing the merits of chattel slavery being argued in the 21st century at a panel on racial tolerance and outreach.
From the Benjy Sarlin link…Tea Party Event On Racial Tolerance Turns To Chaos As ‘Disenfranchised’ Arrive
A CPAC session sponsored by Tea Party Patriots and billed as a primer on teaching activists how to court black voters devolved into a shouting match as some attendees demanded justice for white voters and others shouted down a black woman who reacted in horror.
The session, entitled “Trump The Race Card: Are You Sick And Tired Of Being Called A Racist When You Know You’re Not One?” was led by K. Carl Smith, a black conservative who mostly urged attendees to deflect racism charges by calling themselves “Frederick Douglass Republicans.”
Disruptions began when he started accusing Democrats of still being the party of the Confederacy — a common talking point on the right.
“I don’t care how much the KKK improved,” he said. “I’m not going to join the KKK. The Democratic Party founded the KKK.”
Lines like that drew shouts of praise from some attendees and murmurs of disapproval from one non-conservative black attendee, Kim Brown, a radio host and producer with Voice of Russia, a broadcasting service of the Russian government.
But then questions and answers began. And things went off the rails.
Heh…heh, sorry for the laugh, but what the hell would you expect with a discussion entitled “Trump The Race Card: Are You Sick And Tired Of Being Called A Racist When You Know You’re Not One?”
Scott Terry of North Carolina, accompanied by a Confederate-flag-clad attendee, Matthew Heimbach, rose to say he took offense to the event’s take on slavery. (Heimbach founded the White Students Union at Towson University and is described as a “white nationalist” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.)
“It seems to be that you’re reaching out to voters at the expense of young white Southern males,” Terry said, adding he “came to love my people and culture” who were “being systematically disenfranchised.”
Smith responded that Douglass forgave his slavemaster.
“For giving him shelter? And food?” Terry said.
At this point the event devolved into a mess of shouting. Organizers calmed things down by asking everyone to “take the debate outside after the presentation.”
I have to quote a bit more of this TPM post because it is just too fantastic…
Brown, who took offense at the suggestion modern Democrats were descendants of the KKK, tried to ask a question later once things finally calmed down. She was booed and screamed at by audience members.
“Let someone else speak!” one attendee in Revolutionary War garb shouted.
“You’re not welcome!” a white-haired older woman yelled.
Eventually she asked a question. It was about whether Republicans should call out racist ads.
Attendees interviewed by TPM afterwards expressed outrage at the way the event turned out. Not at Terry and Heimbach — they were mad at Brown.
Chad Chapman, 21, one of the few black attendees, said overall he enjoyed the event — except “there were lots of interruptions, mainly because of the woman.”
I asked whether he was concerned about the question from Terry and Heimbach.
“No they were just telling the truth,” he said. You mean you agree blacks are systematically disenfranchising whites, I asked?
“I listen to anybody’s point of view, it doesn’t really matter,” he said.
A media scrum formed around Terry immediately after the close of the event. A woman wearing a Tea Party Patriots CPAC credential who had shouted down Brown earlier urged him not to give his name to the press.
She wouldn’t give her name either, but I asked her what she thought.
“Look, you know there’s no doubt the white males are getting really beat up right now, it’s unfair,” she said. “I agree with that. My husband’s one of them. But I don’t think there’s a clear understanding about what really is going on. He needs to read Frederick Douglass and I think that question should be asked to everyone in this room who is debating.”
Alright, just go to the link and read the rest…including a statement from K. Carl Smith, the man who led the session…wow.
Ralph Nader is the author of this next link: Walmart Bosses and the Minimum Wage
Last weekend on a bright, sunny day a dozen of us demonstrated at shopping malls where Walmart has three of its giant stores, supplied heavily by products from China and other serf-wage countries. But outsourcing the jobs of its American suppliers to China was not the focus last Saturday. We were drawing attention to the plight of one million Walmart workers who are making far less than what Walmart workers made in 1968 when the minimum wage was the inflation-adjusted equivalent of $10.50 an hour today.
In 1968 Walmart was run by its founder, the legendary Sam Walton, who started with one store in Bentonville, Arkansas. Sam had to pay his workers wages that were worth much more than wages today because the law required him to do so.
The clenched-jawed CEO opposition to catching the minimum wage up with 1968 for their workers continues to manifest itself today. CEOs seem to have little concern for the budget-squeezed daily lives of their employees.
These days, however, Walmart is feeling some heat with the rising demand for increasing the stagnant federal minimum wage finally coming from Washington, backed by over 70 percent of the people in polls. A Walmart rival, the successful Costco, has a CEO who already endorsed a federal minimum wage over $10.00 an hour. Costco starts its entry-level workers at $11.50 per hour plus benefits that Walmart workers do not receive. As blogger Alan DiCara said, “Walmart’s benefits department is the U.S. taxpayer.”
Yup, and read the rest of Nader’s post. I’d comment more on the sad situation with Walmart employees….but you all are well aware of the difficulties that come with working for minimum wage.
One thing I find funny is this latest image of the new pope…or should I say…the poor man’s pope.
Hey, look at that…no designer ruby slippers for Pope Francis. You can read Andrew Sullivan’s take on the new pope here.
Meanwhile, here in the states…North Dakota Passes Ban on Abortions After 6 Weeks of Pregnancy
The North Dakota legislature approved the most restrictive abortion laws in the United States on Friday, cutting off abortion access as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. The bill, HB 1456, makes it illegal for doctors to perform an abortion if a heartbeat is detectable in the fetus—something that can happen as little as six weeks after conception. It passed the Senate by a vote of 26 to 17, and will now head to the desk of Republican Gov. Jack Dalrymple.
North Dakota lawmakers have been considering a variety of anti-abortion bills. While this wasn’t their most extreme option—another bill would have outlawed all abortions, period—it does mean that North Dakota now has the most restrictive abortion law in the country. This comes just over a week after Arkansas claimed the crown for most restrictive abortion laws, passing a twelve-week ban.
This new law will more than likely be challenged in court, but damn…six weeks? That is ridiculous.
Now for some real interesting stories…in link dump fashion.
Polish archaeologists have identified the remains of three grand masters of the Teutonic Knights, a medieval religious and military order that ruled much of the Baltic coast in the late Middle Ages.
Take a look at this post and you may find something new to read…New Books on the Middle Ages: March | Medieval News
There is a beautiful gallery here about Science as art: Photography competition brings the two disciplines together
Albert Einstein’s claim that “The greatest scientists are artists as well,” is illustrated by some of the contenders for a photography competition at Cambridge University on Tuesday.
And since it is St. Patrick’s Day, we will end with something green…Globe glows green: It’s St Patrick’s Day fever
Sláinte is the traditional greeting today, and the normal toast is made with a pint of a certain black stout. More extreme fans of St Patrick’s Day – as found among those of Irish descent in the US – will be dressing in as much green as they can lay their hands on, painting their faces and even dyeing their hair.
This year, in celebration of the Celtic saint’s day, more than 40 international landmarks are being lit in green. From the pyramids and the Leaning Tower of Pisa, to the Sydney Opera House and South Africa’s Table Mountain: some of the most recognised man-made and geographical attractions will join a host of British landmarks to “go green”.
Be sure to check out those go green images at the link.
So what are you doing today? Share your thoughts with us…
This past week I was watching TCM, and realized just how whacked out this world has become. Well, not this world, more specifically our world…here in the US.
Here is what I mean…while watching Anna and the King of Siam, the one with Irene Dunn and Rex Harrison, one particular scene got me thinking.
Remember when the King summons Anna one late night, because he has a question to ask her about the Bible and Moses claim of how long it took God to make the world ?
King: Mem, I think your Moses shall have been a fool.
King: Moses, Moses, Moses. I think he shall have been a fool. Here it stands, written by him: ‘The world was created in six days. ‘
King: Then what is your opinion of this thing as stated by Moses?
Anna: Your Majesty…the Bible was not written by men of science. It was written by men of faith. It was their explanation of the miracle of creation… which is just as great a miracle… whether it took six days or many centuries. I think science does not contradict the Bible. It has only made us more aware of how great the miracle was.
King: Well, I still think your Moses shall have been a fool. You may go.
I think the King would thing our current day GOP representatives are fools. What do you think?
I have to say, the GOP is not only “stupid” it is “crazy!”
Anyway, here are your links for today, the GOP has started blaming the Sequester on Obama…
From the Maddow Blog: The 2011 ransom note and the GOP’s sequester
A Republican National Committee spokesperson, echoing his party’s favorite new talking point, insists this is all President Obama’s fault.
Tim Miller obviously isn’t the only one making this argument. On the contrary, every speech, interview, and press release I’ve seen from GOP officials in recent weeks includes an obligatory reference to Obama having come up with the sequester.
This next link makes me thing that perhaps the GOP are not completely “stupid” by showing they are a little frightened of Ashley Judd making a run on Mitch McConnell. From Vanity Fair: Karl Rove, Apparently Not a Fan of Kiss the Girls, Launches Aggressive Anti–Ashley Judd Campaign
As evidenced by his embarrassing Election Night temper tantrum last fall, Karl Rove is not one to concede easily. Not when it comes to presidential elections; caloric restrictions, we guess; and completely speculative political runs by Hollywood figures. Proving the latter point, the Republican strategist’s American Crossroads Super PAC unveiled a digital ad against Ashley Judd on Wednesday. It has previously been reported that Judd is considering a senatorial run against Kentucky’s Mitch McConnell, the considerably less photogenic Senate minority leader who was voted the nation’s least popular senator late last year.
Emptywheel takes a look at a new law per Homeland Security: Every Laptop and Cell Phone in Detroit (and Dearborn) Can Be Searched at Will
I’m not really sure how Detroit is supposed to pursue an arts-based resurgence if the Department of Homeland Security maintains that it can seize any electronics along the nation’s borders — which extend 100 miles and therefore include the bulk of the population of Michigan.
This next link was very interesting, a quick look at the Dawes Act in relation to Labor Laws: This Day in Labor History: February 8, 1887 – Lawyers, Guns & Money
On February 8, 1887, President Grover Cleveland signed the Dawes Severalty Act into law. The Dawes Act created a process to split up Indian reservations in order to create individual parcels of land and then sell the remainder off to white settlers. One of the worst laws in American history, the Dawes Act is not only a stark reminder of Euro-American colonialism and the dispossession of indigenous peoples, but also of the role dominant ideas of work on the land have in promoting racist and imperialist ends.
We might not think of the Dawes Act as labor history. But I want to make the beginning of a case that it is absolutely central to American labor history, a point I will expand upon in the future. Labor history is not just unionism. It is histories and traditions of work. The Dawes Act was absolutely about destroying traditions of Native American labor and replacing it with European notions of rural work. That it did so while opening more land to white people was a central benefit.
Read the rest at the link.
Looks like that python hunt in the Everglades isn’t doing so hot: Florida Python Challenge Unsuccessful – Everglades Burmese Python Hunt Not Going Well
The idea for the competition — which ends on Sunday, the first day of the unloved Year of the Snake — was partially brain-fathered by Gov. Rick “I’ve ridden elephants — I’ve never tried to shoot one” Scott. The hope was to at least partially rid the land of the invasive Burmese pythons that have set up their own stronghold. The guy or team that grabs the most wins $1,500. The one who snags the longest, gets $1,000. Over 1,500 people from across the nation have waded into the park so far, and some, like the two dehydrated men, who are from Tennessee, have slept in their cars during the hunt. It costs them $25 to participate.
But even before the rescue, the competition hasn’t been going too well. As of Tuesday, only 50 had been captured. Not that it would’ve really mattered. As U.S. Geological Survey python expert Robert Reed told us a few weeks ago, “You won’t find any fewer than 10,000. But between 10,000 and 100,000? That’s anyone’s guess.”
Okay, from nasty snakes to cute puppies, Pooches on parade: man’s best dressed friend at carnivals across the world
Here’s a selection of dogs that are making a statement in dog parade sections of carnivals around the world.
Click here to view the gallery
Last night on Discovery, they had their show on The Giant Squid. This next article is also about squid, the flying kind…Revealed: the secret that makes flying squid faster than Usain Bolt
Scientists in Japan have calculated that squid can fly through the air faster than Usain Bolt can run, in a study that confirms the extraordinary aerial prowess of the edible mollusc.
A study based on photographs of flying squid in the Pacific Ocean estimates that they can reach a speed of up to 11.2 metres per second, which is significantly faster than the 10.31 metres per second that Bolt averaged in the 100 metre final at the London Olympics.
Over the past few years, a number of anecdotal accounts have emerged of squid streaking through the air above the sea for several metres and now a team of Japanese marine biologists have photographed them doing it en masse.
Be sure to take a look at that link, there are some images and diagrams that are so interesting…not only from the nature perspective, but also on aerodynamic and hydrodynamic levels as well.
We started this post talking about stupidity and now we end it with a few links about stupidity. The first one is real, Thieves jailed after losing £2m loot
Two inept thieves who stole Chinese artefacts worth £2m from a museum but then could not find where they had stashed them were handed lengthy jail sentences.
These guys couldn’t remember where they stashed the loot. Guess in real life there are crooks that are too dumb and stupid to become successful crooks.
Earlier this week TCM also had another great film, Big Deal on Madonna Street, which if anyone has a chance to see it…needs to see it. It is hilarious. An Italian film from back in the late 50′s, in fact this link below is from the New York Times original review of the film, published in November 23, 1960. Movie Review – Big Deal on Madonna Street – The Screen: Italian Parody of ‘Rififi’:'Big Deal on Madonna Street’ in Premiere Toto Among Bungling Burglars at the Paris –
A LONGTIME popular subject for vaudeville and music-hall farce, the butter-fingered burglar who thoroughly goofs while trying to rob a safe, is given a full-scale treatment and knocked out by a top name cast in the new Italian comedy, “The Big Deal on Madonna Street.” Directed by Mario Monicelli, one of the bright new directors on the Italian scene, this eventually explosive kit of cut-ups opened at the Fine Arts yesterday.
Obviously the film was calculated as an out-and-out parody of the French melodrama, “Rififi,” which was a bit in Italy. For the “big deal” referred to in that title (which was not the Italian title, by the way) is the contemplated burglary of a smalltime jeweler’s safe, and the fellows who conspire to do it try to lay out their plans in the same “scientific” fashion as did the robbers in that serious French film.
But, of course, they are not successful. In the first place, they have a terrible time getting all of their elements together and headed the same way. There’s that nice fellow (Marcello Mastroianni) who has a wife temporarily in jail and so has to mind the baby, which takes a lot of would-be burglar’s time. Then there’s the former prizefighter (Vittorio Gassman) who finds himself much more interested in the maid in the apartment through which the burglars will have to travel than he is in the burglary itself.
There’s the youngster (Renato Salvatori) who falls hopelessly and helplessly in love with the guarded sister of another of the conspirators (Tiberio Murgia), a Sicilian of hot and vengeful moods. There’s the little shrimp (Carlo Pisacane) who is forever concentrating on food. And finally there is the “expert,” a role that the wonderful Toto plays.
This “expert” acknowledged as a genius in the business of blowing safes, knows all the techniques, all the laws, all the loopholes and all the slang words for the chisels and drills. He gives an exquisite lecture (which nobody quite understands). But he gracefully takes a powder when it comes time to the job.
And when that time comes, everybody—everybody who is left—becomes all thumbs. They sneeze, drop their tools with a horrible clatter, they drill holes into water pipes that jet cold streams and they set up a monstrous apparatus with which they laboriously punch through a wall—into an easily accessible adjoining room. At that point, in the cold, gray morning, they all give up and go home.
It was sooooo damn good, see a few clips at the TCM link below, you will not be disappointed.
Well, I know this was a major link dump, but please enjoy these morning’s reads and try to stay warm. What are you reading and thinking about today?
Finally…we have a nippy morning here in Banjoland! I love the cold weather, it makes sleeping late in a nice cozy bed even more enjoyable.
There was another shooting late yesterday, this time in Portland, Oregon. Gunman Opens Fire in Oregon Shopping Mall. According to VOA, the gunman shot and killed two people before turning the gun on himself…no final number of wounded as I write this post. I will be sure to update you on this latest shooting as more information comes forward.
Okay…I’ve got plenty of politics for you this morning, if it is okay I will give them to you in link dump fashion. (Honestly, I am still a bit “gun-shy” with WordPress. It may take a few post before I feel comfortable writing a lot of words in these threads. I think it is a slight case of PSTD, from way back in college…when my final thesis went phffft, poof and gone…just as I was printing the thing out on the day it was due. Nightmare!)
Anyway, here are some of the political stories of the last 24 hours:
Soledad kicked some major ass yesterday. She is awesome at her job, which btw is being a journalist and a real savvy reporter. Soledad Grills Jeff Sessions: ‘You Hurt People Who Need Food’ with Food Stamp Cuts
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) on Tuesday faced tough questions from CNN host Soledad O’Brien for his plan to cut the food stamp program and “hurt people who need food,” including 20 percent of his own constituents in Alabama.
Speaking to Sessions in an interview on CNN’s Starting Point, O’Brien wondered if cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) should be on the table as part of the so-called fiscal cliff negotiations.
“Absolutely,” Sessions insisted. “This month was a record increase in food stamp participation at a time when unemployment is declining.”
“But there are people who say if you’re doing cuts, you invariably hurt people who need food,” O’Brien observed. “It’s 61 percent of households in your state have children who are recipients of the food program that they’re on.”
Sessions continued to spew his crap, I mean opinion:
“Soledad, this program has been growing out of control at an incredible rate and there are a lot of people receiving benefits who do not qualify and should not receive them,” Sessions remarked. “No child, no person who needs food should be denied that food. Nobody proposes that. We are talking about an amendment that I offered that would have reduced and closed a loophole of $8 billion when we would spend $800 billion was opposed by saying it would help — it would leave people hungry in America, but it would have only eliminated abuses in the program.”
The CNN host, however, pointed out that the Alabama Republican had voted twice to grow the program and the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities had determined that “SNAP has one of the most rigorous quality control systems of any public benefit program.”
“People highlight the program as actually not having a lot of fraud,” O’Brien explained. “Most people who are on it are not somehow working the system. They’re just hungry people.”
Snap for SNAP…Video at the link.
From ABC News, and what looks like the back of Barbara Walter’s head: EXCLUSIVE: President Obama Predicts GOP Will Cave on Taxes
You wanna bet?
These right-wing Republicans are like bulldogs locked down on a hunk of red meat…they do not give up. Just take a look at these headlines:
Yes, threats and promises of all out war to get what they want. Basturds!
In other GOP political news:
You didn’t think Michigan Republicans had an original idea:
I’ve got to share this political cartoon with you, it can’t wait until our Friday Nite Lite:
Yup, piss on…piss on!
This latest PPP poll shows that people are sick of the mutant asshole turtle, I mean…Mitch McConnell…he is highly unpopular according to Public Policy Polling
Mitch McConnell is the most unpopular Senator in the country. Only 37% of Kentucky voters approve of him to 55% disapprove. Both in terms of raw disapproval (55%) and net approval (-18) McConnell has the worst numbers of any of his peers, taking that mantle from Nebraska’s Ben Nelson.
McConnell is predictably very unpopular with Democrats (23/73). But his numbers are almost as bad with independents (33/58) and even with Republicans he’s well below the 70-80% approval range you would usually expect for a Senator within their own party (59/28).
If only this disgust toward McConnell would relate in votes against the man.
The reason McConnell does decently well in the head to head match ups despite his poor approval numbers is that even though a lot of Republicans dislike him, most of them would still vote for him in a general election before they would support a Democrat. This is the same phenomenon we saw in Florida and Pennsylvania this year where Bill Nelson and Bob Casey won by solid margins despite middling approval numbers because Democrats that weren’t thrilled with them still voted for them. And although independents don’t like McConnell they don’t like most of the Democrats either, and they support McConnell in every match up we tested.
The PPP article mentions Ashley Judd, go read the rest at the link. (I sure hope Judd does run for McConnell seat in 2014. But my hope is up there with a Hillary run in 2016….I think it is kind of a long shot they will run period.)
Speaking of Hillary, Nate Silver has this to say about Hillary 2016: Why Hillary Clinton Would Be Strong in 2016 (It’s Not Her Favorability Ratings)
Let’s start by stating the obvious: Hillary Rodham Clinton would be a formidable presidential candidate in 2016.
Mrs. Clinton’s credentials as secretary of state, as a United States senator and as a politically engaged first lady would be hard for any of her Democratic or Republican rivals to match. She would have little trouble raising funds or garnering support from the Democratic officials, and she might even come close to clearing the Democratic field of serious opposition.
Be sure to read the rest of Silver’s post.
With the release of The Hobbit later this week, J.R.R. Tolkien is figuring in lots of blog post, like this one from Medieval.net: Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics
Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics
By J. R. R. Tolkien
Introduction: In 1864 the Reverend Oswald Cockayne wrote of the Reverend Doctor Joseph Bosworth, Rawlinsonian Professor of Anglo-Saxon: ‘I have tried to lend to others the con-viction I have long entertained that Dr. Bosworth is not a man so diligent in his special walk as duly to read the books… which have been printed in our old English, or so-called Anglosaxon tongue. He may do very well for a professor.’ These words were inspired by dissatisfaction with Bosworth’s dictionary, and were doubtless unfair. If Bosworth were still alive, a modern Cockayne would probably accuse him of not reading the ‘literature’ of his subject, the books written about the books in the so-called Anglo-Saxon tongue. The original books are nearly buried.
Of none is this so true as of The Beowulf, as it used to be called. I have, of course, read The Beowulf, as have most (but not all) of those who have criticized it. But I fear that, unworthy successor and beneficiary of Joseph Bosworth, I have not been a man so diligent in my special walk as duly to read all that has been printed on, or touching on, this poem. But I have read enough, I think, to venture the opinion that Beowulfiana is, while rich in many departments, specially poor in one. It is poor in criticism, criticism that is directed to the understanding of a poem as a poem. It has been said of Beowulf itself that its weakness lies in placing the unimportant things at the centre and the important on the outer edges. This is one of the opinions that I wish specially to consider. I think it profoundly untrue of the poem, but strikingly true of the literature about it. Beowulf has been used as a quarry of fact and fancy far more assiduously than it has been studied as a work of art.
It is of Beowulf, then, as a poem that I wish to speak; and though it may seem presumption that I should try with swich a lewed mannes wit to pace the wisdom of an heep of lerned men, in this department there is at least more chance for the lewed man. But there is so much that might still be said even under these limitations that I shall confine myself mainly to the monsters—Grendel and the Dragon, as they appear in what seems to me the best and most authoritative general criticism in English—and to certain considerations of the structure and conduct of the poem that arise from this theme.
Hopefully one of those three links will work for you. Enjoy it!
And finally, a big hat-tip to Fiscal Liberal, who emailed me these links below…kewl as hell!
First link is to a blog that details the movement of sunlight and weather during the day, via Opentopia – World Sunlight Map
A world map showing current sunlight and cloud cover, as of Dec 12 2012 02:00 UTC.
This is the rectangular projection. You can also see a more realistic hemispherical projection.
Image provided by die.net.
Click the link to see the updated real/time image.
This next link is to a 19 minute video, OVERVIEW on Vimeo
On the 40th anniversary of the famous ‘Blue Marble’ photograph taken of Earth from space, Planetary Collective presents a short film documenting astronauts’ life-changing stories of seeing the Earth from the outside – a perspective-altering experience often described as the Overview Effect.
The Overview Effect, first described by author Frank White in 1987, is an experience that transforms astronauts’ perspective of the planet and mankind’s place upon it. Common features of the experience are a feeling of awe for the planet, a profound understanding of the interconnection of all life, and a renewed sense of responsibility for taking care of the environment.
‘Overview’ is a short film that explores this phenomenon through interviews with five astronauts who have experienced the Overview Effect. The film also features insights from commentators and thinkers on the wider implications and importance of this understanding for society, and our relationship to the environment.
I’ve embedded the video below…however if you want to see a larger screen image, click on that Vimeo link up top. Hope you enjoy this one too.
That is all I got for you this morning, should be a good start, right? What are you all reading and thinking about today?
I can not believe that Thanksgiving is this week, it has been one of those crazy fast years. You would think that with all the campaign crap we have been through, it would have seen like it was an eternity since those first horrible GOP debates. Can you believe a year has passed us by?
First take a look at these two articles, I want to get these out-of-the-way…Christian attorney indicted on federal child pornography charges
I actually did not want to include it in today’s post, but I could not help and think of the irony that once again a monster hides behind their religion. You should see the comments at the local newspaper that broke the story, it is disgusting.
This other article is from some right-wing Rabbi, and I warn you, it is f’d up. Rabbi Shmuley Boteach: Jewish Values Are the Salvation of the Republican Party
A ‘malignant weapon.’ That was the phrase used by a friend of mine — a national TV host who inclines toward Republicans but this year voted Democrat — to describe how Republicans use religion. “Why has religion made Republicans harsh. Shouldn’t it give them a soft heart?”
The congressional campaign I ran was based on the idea that the economic malaise in America was due to a values erosion. So long as we obsess over abortion, gay marriage, and contraception to the exclusion of any other values, we cannot fix our problems. I ran to start the process of replacing the austerity of some of the Christian social values, which have defined the GOP for decades, with the positive and life-affirming values of Judaism.
So Rabbi goes on about the problem with the GOP obsession with sex. Fair enough, but then when he gets down to his advice it is the same sexist shit, only warmed over with a bit of kugel and a schmear of cream cheese.
Also, I have two articles on Walmart, one which argues for higher paying salaries and hourly wages for Walmart and retail employees. Bob Herbert: Why Walmart and Big Retailers Should Pay Their Workers More
The other is from Cannonfire, who feels that we should have a Thanksgiving Day boycott of Walmart and other retail stores who are opening their doors on Thanksgiving Day. I agree, keep Black Friday on Black Friday.
Now for the fun stuff. Check this out….Great whites ‘not evolved from megashark’
A new fossil discovery has helped quell 150 years of debate over the origin of great white sharks.
Carcharodon hubbelli, which has been described by US scientists, shows intermediate features between the present-day predators and smaller, prehistoric mako sharks.
The find supports the theory that great white sharks did not evolve from huge megatooth sharks.
The research is published this week in the journal Palaeontology.
Look at these teeth:
The new specimen (examined here by Dana Ehret) links Great Whites to the much smaller mako shark.
Modern day white sharks show similarities in the structure of their teeth with the extinct megatooth sharks.
As they both sport serrations on the cutting edges, early scientists working on the animals used this as evidence for the sharks being closely related.
“But we actually see the evolution of serrations occurring many times in different lineages of sharks and if you look at the shape and size of the serrations in the two groups you see that they are actually very different from each other,” Professor Ehret told BBC News.
Are you all thinking what I am thinking? We need a bigger boat?
Megalodon had one of the most formidable bites known from the fossil record[...]
“White sharks have very large, coarse serrations whereas megalodon had very fine serrations.”
Now, additional evidence from the newly described species shows both white shark-like teeth shape as well other features characteristic of broad-toothed mako sharks that feed on smaller fish rather than primarily seals and other large mammals.
“It looks like a gradation or a transition from broad-toothed makos to the modern white shark. It’s a transitional species, and you don’t see that a whole lot in the fossil record,” Professor Ehret said.
From fins to wings…well metaphorically speaking…Gene distinguishes early birds from night owls and helps predict time of death
Many of the body’s processes follow a natural daily rhythm or so-called circadian clock. There are certain times of the day when a person is most alert, when blood pressure is highest, and when the heart is most efficient. Several rare gene mutations have been found that can adjust this clock in humans, responsible for entire families in which people wake up at 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. and cannot stay up much after 8 at night. Now new research has, for the first time, identified a common gene variant that affects virtually the entire population, and which is responsible for up to an hour a day of your tendency to be an early riser or night owl.
Back in my first year of college I did a thing for my biology class, where I took my temp and blood pressure/pulse rate every hour for 48 hours and what do you think, I had higher temps and heart rates later at night, between 9:30pm and 4am. (But I didn’t need to do that to know that I am a night owl.) I function way better in the evening hours.
Furthermore, this new discovery not only demonstrates this common polymorphism influences the rhythms of people’s day-to-day lives — it also finds this genetic variant helps determine the time of day a person is most likely to die.
The surprising findings, which appear in the November 2012 issue of the Annals of Neurology, could help with scheduling shift work and planning medical treatments, as well as in monitoring the conditions of vulnerable patients.
“The internal ‘biological clock’ regulates many aspects of human biology and behavior, such as preferred sleep times, times of peak cognitive performance, and the timing of many physiological processes. It also influences the timing of acute medical events like stroke and heart attack,” says first author Andrew Lim, MD, who conducted the work as a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Neurology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC).
Give the rest of that article a read, and have a thought filled night. Me? Well, I am just getting started…this is an open thread.