Monday Reads

Good Morning!

Retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor is speaking out on America’s declining opinion of the Supreme Court.

Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor suggests that declining public approval of the court dates back to the controversial Bush v. Gore decision, which decided the 2000 presidential race.

“That was one that was widely talked about at the time, as you know, and involved the public in a presidential election,” O’Connor said in an interview aired Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “And that could be something that triggered public reexamination.”

She said she wasn’t sure if people thought the court had become too political.

“But I suppose that’s part of it, yes,” she said. “And of course, anytime you’re deciding a case involving a presidential election, it’s awfully close to politics.”

She cast the deciding vote in the case, but she demurred on taking responsibility.

“I don’t see how you can say anybody was the deciding vote,” she said. “They all counted.”

O’Connor said she has no regrets about her vote.

“No, I mean it was a tough deal; i[t] was a closely fought election; and it’s no fun to be part of a group of decision makers that has to decide which side the ball is going to fall on,” she  said.

I think if I were her that I’d feel a lot of remorse for that decision considering the decline that the Bush administration has brought to this country in every possible, thinkable positive category of national endeavor.

This should make people appreciate Social Security.  A lot of Americans with ” virtually no assets”. What would so many do without it and Medicare?

It is a central worry of many Americans: not having enough money to live comfortably in old age. Now an innovative paper co-authored by an MIT economist shows that a large portion of America’s older population has very little savings in bank accounts, stocks and bonds, and dies “with virtually no financial assets” to their names.

Indeed, about 46 percent of senior citizens in the United States have less than $10,000 in financial assets when they die. Most of these people rely almost totally on Social Security payments as their only formal means of support, according to the newly published study, co-authored by James Poterba of MIT, Steven Venti of Dartmouth College, and David A. Wise of Harvard University.

That means many seniors have almost no independent ability to withstand financial shocks, such as expensive medical treatments that may not be covered by Medicare or Medicaid, or other unexpected, costly events.

“There are substantial groups that have basically no financial cushion as they are reaching their latest years,” says Poterba, the Mitsui Professor of Economics at MIT.

Here’s a great article from AlterNet: “How Mitt Romney Got Rich Destroying American Jobs and Promoting Sweatshop Capitalism”.

Right now, a man whose predatory career has claimed the jobs of countless Americans is trying to wrap himself in the flag and call himself a “job creator” and “wealth creator.”

Does he mean miserable jobs in Chinese factories? Wealth for the 1 percent? Apparently that’s exactly what he means.

Republicans claim that Mitt Romney’s entrepreneurial activities at Bain Capital have been good for Americans. The truth is that Romney has spent his career offshoring and outsourcing American production processes — and associated jobs — to countries like China where human labor is valued in the market at a very low wage rate.

Mitt Romney’s tenure as Bain’s CEO has long linked him to offshoring and outsourcing. Even today, although he is no longer in that position, Romney still makes a nice profit on undertakings done long after he left the day-to-day management of the firm.

Those profits continue to pour in because of Bain’s practice of vulture capitalism.  This isn’t Schumpeter’s creative destruction.  It’s not even what good equity capital companies achieve.  It’s piracy pure and simple.

Here’s a great interview with Graham Nash. According to TD:  “Graham Nash Still Really Gives a S#!*”

Fish: So where are they then? Where are the songwriters who try to remind us that human beings are precious and fragile and deserving of a world that is environmentally sound, just as an example? Where are the poets to make beautiful the notion that we should not be victimized by the shitty foreign and domestic policies of our governments? Such subject matter seems much less apparent in contemporary popular music.

GN: It’s less apparent because it’s not being shown. It’s less apparent because the people who own the world’s media you can count on one hand. It’s less apparent because [corporations] don’t want protest songs on their radios and their TVs and in their movies. They don’t want to stir up the sheep. They want you to fucking lie there and buy another pair of sneakers and another Coca-Cola, shut the fuck up while we rob you blind. That’s what’s going on—“Bread and circuses, Part II.”

Fish: Which, I guess, brings us to the significance of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

GN: Right, it’s important for people to realize that they’re not alone and that they’re not crazy for thinking we’re fucked. [The movement] is about recognizing the division between the haves and the have-mores—it’s not even between the haves and have-nots. It’s between the haves and have-mores. That’s what’s going on here and people recognize that and they’re getting infuriated.

Fish: And it’s so obvious, this victimization of the 99 percent, that the whole thing came about as a mass realization, like you said. It didn’t require the emergence of a leader or a prophet to arrive on the scene and convince people of something they weren’t aware of.

GN: Exactly, there is no leader, which is a good thing. What happens with movements, historically, is there is usually a face, a leader, for the movement, and an enemy, if he’s smart, will attack that leader.

So, here’s something in my continuing legacy of sharing my fascination with really old graves with you. This is from the UK Telegraph: “Skeleton reveals violent life and death of medieval knight ,  620-year-old skeleton discovered under the floor of Stirling Castle has shed new light on the violent life of a medieval knight.”

Archaeologists believe that bones found in an ancient chapel on the site are those of an English knight named Robert Morley who died in a tournament there in 1388.

Radio carbon dating has confirmed that the skeleton is from that period, and detailed analysis suggests that he was in his mid-20s, was heavily muscled and had suffered several serious wounds in earlier contests.

The knight was laid to rest under the stone-flagged floor of a chapel near the castle’s royal apartments and his skeleton was excavated along with 11 others in 1997.

However, it was only recently re-examined following advances in laser scanning techniques that not only revealed the nature of the three wounds, but also showed that the knight had lost teeth, probably from another blow or from falling from his horse.

Gordon Ewart, of Kirkdale Archaeology, which carried out the excavation for Historic Scotland, said: “This is a remarkable and important set of discoveries.

“At first we had thought the arrow wound had been fatal but it now seems he had survived it and may have had his chest bound up.”

Mr Ewart said that Morley was by far the most likely candidate. His skeleton also shows the effects of riding on the ankles and muscle injuries caused by lifting heavy loads.

Talk about your short brutal lives.

So, did you know that scientists have connected a part of the brain to one’s ability to grasp irony? This is from The Atlantic.

Using magnetic resonance imaging, scientists seem to have located a part of the brain centrally involved in grasping irony.

The IronyBrain2.JPGFrench research team that made the latest contribution to this effort presents its findings in the current issue of the journal NeuroImage. Referring to a part of the brain known as the “ToM network,” the researchers write, “We demonstrate that the ToM network becomes active while a participant is understanding verbal irony.”

This isn’t just one of those “shot in the dark” MRI studies, where you see what brain regions happen to light up when people engage in a particular mental activity. The ToM network has been the focus of previous work on irony apprehension, and enough is known about it to give us some ideas about the particular role it could play in that apprehension.

Here’s how the experiment worked. The researchers prepared short written stories, and each story came in two versions. Both versions contained a sentence that could be read either literally or ironically, with the correct reading depending on how the context had been set earlier in the story. In one story, for example, one opera singer says to another, “Tonight we gave a superb performance,” and whether the sentence is ironic or literal depends on whether the performance had been described earlier in the story as a failure or as a success. The researchers had correctly predicted that the ToM network would show more activity when the sentence, read in context, was ironic than when it was literal.

ToM stands for “theory of mind,” which in turn refers to the fact that we naturally attribute beliefs and intentions and emotions to people we interact with. That is, we develop a “theory”–though not necessarily a theory we’re consciously aware of–about what’s going on in their minds. (An inability to do this is thought to play a role in autism.) And this “theory” in turn shapes our interpretation of things people say. The “ToM network” is a brain region–or, really, a network of different brain regions–that seems to play an important role in the construction of these theories.

It makes sense that parts of the brain involved in theorizing about other people’s minds would be involved in grasping irony. After all, detecting irony means departing sharply from the literal meaning of a sentence, something it’s hard to do without having a “theory” about the intent behind the sentence.

I’m sure we’ll begin to hear the horrible news about the murder of Sikhs in Wisconsin today as well as other things.  Hopefully, this little bit of interesting stuff will get your day started out okay!  What’s on you reading and blogging list today?

33 Comments on “Monday Reads”

  1. Fannie says:

    Love the lady who was raised on the Lazy B ranch………………she left her imprint for all to see.

    I suppose Rev. Wright was indeed familiar with those headquarters, espcially when it came to speech.

  2. Pat Johnson says:

    Nothing says “capitalism” better than paying some poor soul $1.00 per hour to make a sneaker that costs $180.00! Better yet that he/she is underage and unaware of their rights as human beings.

    It’s “the American” way and what we are “fighting” for in this election.

  3. Pat Johnson says:

    In another example of “never say die”:

    Drove through Brimfield, MA yesterday, a town of about 4,000 people, and saw a lone sign for Ron Paul on someone’s lawn.

  4. dakinikat says:

    The shooter has been identified and is–as feared–a right wing hater.

    This is from the SPLC:

    The man who allegedly murdered six people at a Sikh temple in suburban Milwaukee yesterday, identified in media reports as Wade Michael Page, was a frustrated neo-Nazi who had been the leader of a racist white-power band.

    In 2010, Page, then the leader of the band End Apathy, gave an interview to the white supremacist website Label 56. He said that when he started the band in 2005, its name reflected his wish to “figure out how to end people’s apathetic ways” and start “moving forward.” “I was willing to point out some of my faults on how I was holding myself back,” Page said. Later, he added, “The inspiration was based on frustration that we have the potential to accomplish so much more as individuals and a society in whole.” He did not discuss violence in the interview.

    Page told the website that he had been a part of the white power music scene since 2000, when he left his native Colorado on a motorcycle. He attended white power concerts in Georgia, North Carolina, West Virginia and Colorado. At various times, he said, he also played in the hate rock bands Youngland (2001-2003), Celtic Warrior, Radikahl, Max Resist, Intimidation One, Aggressive Force and Blue Eyed Devils. End Apathy, he said, included “Brent” on bass and “Ozzie” on drums; the men were former members of Definite Hate and another band, 13 Knots.

    • Video via Huffington Post mentions a recent break-up about a month ago, recent move, and no real connections locally (apparently he had moved there from Chicago). The strange part is his background as a Psychological Operations (PSYOP) Specialist when in the Army.

      The Poverty Law Center apparently had been tracking his band he formed, albeit originally it was a one member band, but apparently others joined. Personally I think there must have been some mental health issue here that was undiagnosed. The Sikh community suffered terribly from what ever motivated this man and his troubled mind. I still remember the senior Sikh man out for a walk in Sacramento, post 911 who was killed, and no one was ever charged with his murder, the murder remains unsolved.

  5. dakinikat says:

    Read Charles Pierce Today:

    Of course, Priebus now leads a party that has spent the last four decades ensuring that almost nobody can be a “union electrician” any more, and spent the previous couple of decades deregulating things so that a) the average “realtor” is greeting people at Wal-Mart, and b) “moms and dads” lost the houses that the realtor once sold them because gigantic banks gambled away their equity and their mortgages turned out to written in Klingon. And, as for the American dream, I think the son of a single mother who works his way through Harvard Law and gets elected to the U.S. Senate and then to the presidency despite being named Barack Hussein Obama, and despite the fact that doughpops like Reince Priebus are in positions of power understands it better than the runner-up in a state senate race from eight years ago.

  6. HT says:

    With regard to Mitt RMoney (tm Ralph) article – the rich know how to cut their contribution to society by employing lawyers and business managers. Unfortunately, the local governments have to be able to provide ongoing services to the rich, so guess who makes up the tax burden.

  7. Pat Johnson says:

    After caling the president “unAmerican”, demanding “proof” of his birth certificate, referring to him as a “racist”, and basically undermining every policy proposal he puts forth as “subversive”, the Right is taking to the “fainting couch” with the statement by Harry Reid that Mittens may have eluded the IRS in paying his taxes.

    As Michele Bachmann and Alan West continue to make outrageous claims of “Muslin and communist” infiltration within the goverment without a shred of proof, and Rush Limbaugh continues his daily assault against women, not one Repub has come forward to make it stop.

    Pot meet kettle.

    • RalphB says:

      The best revenge is to hand those people their heads on election day. They all can rot in hell for all I care.

      • Pat Johnson says:

        But will enough make the effort to deny Romney his 50.1%? That’s the issue. Even if only 1/4 of the electorate manages to get off their duff’s and vote, and factoring how many are being disenfranchised as we speak, will there be enough outrage against the GOP and their hateful policies to prevent it?

        I’m not so sure. Watching the once liberal blogs execute a 180 degree about face and find Romney a “positive alternative”, his chances are in play. It is also wise to consider that many crazy Tea Party candidates have emerged from the primaries as victors to face off against the Dem challenger and we may find ourselves in the complete control of the GOP in both Houses of congress.

        It’s scenarios like this that keep me awake some nights since much of the “revenge” is based soley on “I hate Obama enough to vote for a corporate vulture who cannot be trusted”.

      • RalphB says:

        Pat. I worry about the same things but those supposedly once liberal blogs have proven to be nothing but worthless ratfuckers and they can rot with the rest. I want nothing to do with people who let their personal hatred push the rest of us down a sewer.

      • Pat Johnson says:

        The “I love Hillary” crowd that is championing Romney makes absolutely no sense on any level. There couldn’t be two more diverse people on the planet than Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney.

      • RalphB says:

        That particular “Love Hillary” crowd wanted her to be president for emotional, rather than policy, reasons. It turns out to be a cult of personality like the swarms of Obots and nothing more, if they now support Rmoney. It’s simply not possible to support Clinton’s policies and support Rmoney.

      • dakinikat says:

        I consider the Tea Party to be a hate group. MIchelle Bachmann and Alan West are good examples of that stream that runs through them.

  8. bostonboomer says:

    Harry Reid is unfazed by Republican attacks and pundits’ disapproval of his claim that Rmoney paid no taxes for a decade.

  9. RalphB says:

    These people, who are our fellow citizens, are bringing the full bore crazeeee! This crap is what keeps me up some nights.

    Tales From The Grassy Knoll

    For those of you for whom the theory of a single gun-nut drunk on white power shooting up a Sikh temple because he thought they were Muslims sounds like some kind of meth-addled crazy talk, here are some alternate explanations courtesy of Alex Jones eminently reasonable Info-Wars blog.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Good grief, I couldn’t even make it through that. My eyes were glazing over in the first few paragraphs.

  10. bostonboomer says:

    Gunman had a “less than honorable” discharge from the Army. No details, but a military source mentioned “patterns of misconduct.”

    Page enlisted in April 1992 and was given a less-than-honorable discharge in October 1998. CBS reports that Page served at Fort Bliss, Texas, in the psychological operations unit in 1994, and was last stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C., attached to the psychological operations there.

    The Associated Press reports that such specialists are responsible for the analysis, development and distribution of intelligence used for influencing foreign populations.

    Fabulous. They put a racist in charge of “influencing foreign populations.”

    • from the same link:

      The Southern Poverty Law Center, a group that has studied hate crimes for decades, says on its website that Page was a frustrated neo-Nazi who had been the leader of a racist white-power band known as End Apathy.

      Heidi Beirich, director of the center’s intelligence project, tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that her group had been tracking Page since 2000, when he tried to purchase goods from the National Alliance, a well-known hate group.

      Beirich says there was “no question” Page was an ardent follower and believer in the white supremacist movement. She said her center had evidence that he attended “hate events” around the country.

      “He was involved in the scene,” she said.

    • dakinikat says:

      and they turned him loose fully aware he was having real issues … wtf is with these institutions that just turn troubled workers out on the hapless public?

      • RalphB says:

        It’s just what’s done today. Hide your problems under a rock or push them aside onto someone else.

      • northwestrain says:

        Discharging military personal with obvious mental health problems is a common practice. Look at all the known rapists who have been discharged (while the military looks the other way). Once these time bombs are civilians they are “someone else’s problem”.

        Even the sane and normal military personnel who retire need help transitioning from the military life to civilian. But that does not happen. My dad was career Navy and I remember clearly that he had a very rough period of adjustment to the civilian life. Thankfully his job skills were of high value to the Civilian job market.

        We have at least two recent examples of EX military turning on civilians. Oklahoma City Federal Building bombing — and now this skin head. I think I noticed a few more in that list of mass murderers on Mother Jones.

    • No Pat, they hate people who are not “white.”

    • dakinikat says:

      What I’d like to know is how you “hate” something that doesn’t exist. Atheists don’t believe a gawd exists, so how can they hate a nonexistent thing? That guy’s brain doesn’t work right at all.

      • Pat Johnson says:

        But there are enough dimwits out there who sit and listen to this demented demon who actually believe this crap.

        Any bets as to what triggered that white supremacy lunatic to take out his hatred on a group of Sikhs on an otherwise peaceful Sunday morning?

        Could it be those “trigger words” like infiltrating Muslims and commie members of congress that set his crazy cap in motion? There are those out there waiting for the opportunity for someone to give the order (they may be the only ones who hear it) to dive into battle to save the rest of us from the tyranny and god haters who terrorize the land.

        People like Rush, Beck, Robertson, Bachmann who fuel the flames while sitting back and saying “who me?” when tragedies like this occur. Hate speech leads to these events and appeal to those who feel victimized, disenfranchised, and shunned by society along with a sense of entitlement that what they are doing is justified.

        You only have to look no further than the murder of Dr. Tiller to recognize that theory when Bill O’Reilly mocked him as Killer Tiller which sent some other crazy into a frenzy of revenge as the rest of us looked on in horror.

        The same people, I might add, who are up in arms over Harry Reid comments.

  11. RalphB says:

    Bruce Bartlett at Economix. Sort of like Tax Economics for Dummies.

    The Clinton Tax Challenge for Republicans

    Republicans are adamant that taxes on the ultra-wealthy must not rise to the level they were at during the Clinton administration, as President Obama favors, lest economic devastation result. But they have a problem – the 1990s were the most prosperous era in recent history. This requires Republicans to try to rewrite the economic history of that decade.


    I would not argue that tax increases are per se stimulative. It all depends on circumstances. But it is clear from the experience of the 1990s that they can play a very big role in reducing the budget deficit and are not necessarily a drag on growth. And the obvious experience of the 2000s is that tax cuts increase the deficit and don’t necessarily do anything for growth. Those arguing otherwise need to make a much better case than they have so far.