Spanish Bombs Rock the Province

Chomsky on Obama

Posted in Uncategorized by mrkd on 10 March 2011

He’s an opportunist, mostly supported by the financial institutions. He had no positions on anything. He’s very intelligent. If you look at his program, almost no substance.Change, hope, what’s that? I mean, he had some policies, but it was almost certain that he would give them up instantly, which he did. On the health programs he did say some words about national health care, and so on, but as soon as he had a chance to get in and give it all to insurance companies, okay. (via)

For the record, Chomsky voted Green but if he lived in a swing state would have “held his nose” and voted for Obama rather than “the alternative, which was worse.”

What I love reading about now is how the Republicans – that is, the governmental arm of business interests – are searching for the correct narrative to embrace in the upcoming election, the angle that will give them an edge and possibly return them to the executive branch. For example, Republicans seem to be dismissive of Huckabee’s late “misspeaking” about Obama’s childhood in Kenya, which never happened. They have decided that attacking him as a foreign “other” with an anti-Americanism born of anti-Colonialism is perhaps too rife with holes, and that they must attack from a different perspective. The entire election is theater, they understand, and they must discover the correct emotional resonance that will attract the largest number of supporters. The issues are immaterial – jobs? Education? One minute teachers are the most undervalued heroes in the country, and the next they’re overpaid layabouts. What Chomsky’s saying here, I think, is that the Democrats are in the same business.

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Somali Pirates

Posted in Uncategorized by mrkd on 26 February 2011

1. I don’t understand why they killed the missionaries. Why bother? At least, this is what the NYT is saying: it doesn’t make sense, and it doesn’t bode well for the future.

2. I had either completely forgotten or never knew that this country fought a war against the Barbary pirates two centuries ago. I think it’s the latter, since the Barbary Wars led to the “shores of Tripoli” line in the Marine Corps hymn and I would’ve remembered that.

(more…)

In summary: Coke makes you fat, Diet Coke makes you fatter

Posted in Uncategorized by mrkd on 23 March 2010

This morning I read another article about research demonstrating (conclusively, again) that High Fructose Corn Syrup causes obesity and it reminded me of the first time I ever read about America’s sweetener — it was a really fantastic Believer piece reviewing a book that details HFCS’s postwar/cold war origins. The same postwar science that suggested melting the ice caps with nuclear weapons would change the useless frozen parts of the planet into agricultural sweet spots (thus creating a food surplus) also developed high fructose corn syrup, the miracle sweetener that keeps fried chicken crispy and America diabetic.

Give ’em Enough Rope

Posted in Uncategorized by mrkd on 21 January 2010

Today’s ruling upends the nation’s campaign finance laws, allowing corporations and labor unions to spend freely on behalf of political candidates.

What I really want to see from this is full-on corporate endorsement of candidates, absolute commitment past the point of product placement in tv spots to actually inserting a company’s logo onto candidate signs — “Joe Jones for Congress” next to an American Flag and GE’s cursive circle.

This could work, too: a candidate endorsed and funded by Goldman Sachs is presented as someone with sound ideas of fiscal responsibility. The Pepsi candidate is focused on young people’s interests. The Wal-Mart candidate is someone who wants to build solid jobs in smalltown America, and his primary funder recognizes his ability to serve the interests of the rural people who depend on big-box stores for their goods, services, and livelihood.

What I suggest is a simple co-mingling  of the money and the message. Get in front of the inevitable scandal that emerges every time a reporter shovels out the striking truth that (audible gasp) a guy running for the state Senate is funded in large part by an energy company by having said company’s marketing team run the candidate’s campaign. Don’t just admit that you fund the guy — flaunt it. Decry the people who complain that he’ll only serve the company’s interest by reminding them that you, the power company, supply power and therefore know more about it than just about anyone, and you feel that this candidate has a feasible, practical, serviceable energy policy that will help everyone within the company’s umbrella. It’s time for America’s companies to take a more active role in shaping this nation. Or at least a more visible role.

Now: what are the restrictions on foreign companies? Can Gazprom get in on this?

I Did Not Know That

Posted in Uncategorized by mrkd on 13 January 2010

In the case of chimps, their mating habits are probably the source of the fierce evolutionary pressure on their Y chromosome. When a female comes into heat, she mates with all the males in the group, setting up competition within her reproductive tract between the sperm of different males.

As my friend Mike notes, it’s like the Thunderdome, except more than two sperm enter.

This crudeness has been extracted from a very interesting piece in the NY Times about the Y chromosome’s rapid-cycling evolution, a recently discovered phenomenon that explodes the old belief of the male gene being in a state of decay. The new, scientific masculinism: competition makes babies, man genes determine change in the species, only the strong survive. Everything old is new again, I guess.

Too bad the religious guys who like subjugating women — that’s fundamentalist Christian and Muslim, for those of you playing along at home — don’t dig on the human-chimp connection. If they believed in science, they’d have some good ammunition here for the male-dominated society, ie Strong Man Make Strong Baby, Strong Man Make Strong Species, Woman Take Strong Sperm.

Posted in Uncategorized by mrkd on 20 September 2008

It’s pretty much all tumblr, all the time. If anyone is reading this, please follow me over there.

I like wordpress. I’m just too tired.

end of the world in two weeks

Posted in news by mrkd on 29 August 2008

The Large Hadron Collider is almost ready, and everyone’s pretty much sure that it won’t create a black hole that will consume the earth.

Posted in Uncategorized by mrkd on 15 August 2008

There’s a Creationism Museum just outside Cincinnati, because science is for suckers. Or the hellbound.

We call them pirates out here, Ned.

Posted in books by mrkd on 14 August 2008

One of the NPR book review guys just did a three-book summer reading bit on piracy; as I recall, two of the books were about like say Bluebeard and the golden age of pirates with parrots and muskets and cannon and so on, and the other — Dangerous Waters by John Burnett — was about modern piracy in the Malacca Strait off of Singapore. Ah, I thought, that’s the one. I probably associated the guy’s synopsis with the Ping Island Lightning Strike Rescue Op, which of course is completely insane.

The book, and modern piracy (insinuates Burnett), is about oil. The ship Burnett travels aboard is the Montrose. The Montrose is part of a class of ship with the completely logical and very silly name Very Large Crude Carrier, or VLCC, which carries an absurd amount of crude from Dubai to Singapore. The Group (nameless, faceless oil giant) owns a fleet of Very Large Carriers. To save money — and all the company wants to do, it seems, is save money — ships are manned by the absolute minimum crew required to safely pilot hundreds of millions of gallons of crude (don’t sleep! don’t spill!) through the most pirate-infested waters on earth, so they drive around with all their lights on and shoot firehoses off the side to discourage people from climbing aboard. And it’s not like modern pirates are trying to steal the cargo — what are they going to do with crude? They steal the crew’s wallets. Couple that with the fact that these ships spend a lot of time in international waters, where there is effectively no law, and the fact that pirates are not shy about using their machetes on a ship where discharging a firearm when you’re standing on 300 million gallons of oil is a bad idea…well, it’s bad. And complicated: many (not all) pirates are destitute and desperate enough to rob the giant cash cows they see floating past their villages. But the companies that own the ships don’t want to lose money, so their ships don’t carry cash. It’s like a large version of robbing the pizza delivery guy and not stealing the pizza. Imo’s doesn’t get hurt; just the driver.

Like most book-length journalism I’ve read lately — with the stunning exception of God’s Middle Finger — it’s a bit choppy and repetitive. More information than adventure, which is weird considering the lives these guys lead.

SnagFilms

Posted in movies by mrkd on 13 August 2008

SnagFilms is free documentaries, but more legal-looking than say Surf The Channel, where you can watch free feature films (if you don’t mind Chinese subtitles).

It looks like they have everything Morgan Spurlock has done, that new Confessions of a Superhero thing I keep seeing on the Netflix insta-play, and Lucha Mania 5to Aniversario! Wait, what?

(via The Morning News, which seems to be the only thing I read anymore.)