September 15, 2007 archive

Another look at Garrett Hardin (1915-2003)

A column in Counterpunch this week (Iain Boal in conversation with David Martinez) inspired me to reconsider the intellectual legacy of Garrett Hardin.  In this essay, I will consider Hardin’s short piece “The Tragedy of the Commons” as an defining phenomenon of modern ecology.  Even though the “tragedy of the commons” is real, I argue, it has more to do with the poverty of capitalist commons management than with the incapability of society to manage the commons.  Good commons management will be necessary in the future, which will at some point mean a global human society more capable of protecting the commons than what we have now.


The Deciders Coming Out Party

President George Bush today held a press conference to officially “come out” as a dyed in the wool sociopath. Addressing the reporters present he declared himself “Loud, Proud, and totally committed to fucking over the entire world”. “I’m on a mission to alienate, piss off, destabilize and kill as many motherfuckers as possible with my remaining time in office”.  I’m tired of pretending to be something that I’m not, and I’m tired of hiding behind this whole compassionate conservatism thingy Bush said. He then gave a smirking thumbs up to those in the room, a move obviously mocking his predecessor Clinton’s famous crowd pleasing gesture.

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Quick Hello from D.C.

Hey, everyone: just a short hello from Washington D.C., where I and a few other thousand people marched from the White House to the Capitol building.  Later tonight or tomorrow people will be around to post pictures from the demonstration, including a few of your favorite bloggers.  And not-so-favorite, I guess.  Don’t worry: my feelings aren’t hurt.

A quick impression: lots of people, and especially lots of young people.  Crowds that have no business hanging out together, in other circumstances.  Libertarians marching side-by-side with militant socialists.  A thin and pathetic line of conservatives along the street, warning us that we’re all traitors.  Some expected musical accompaniment (guitars, bongo drums) and some quite unexpected (solo horn, a family quartet backed by accordion).  Students groups, feminist groups, civil rights groups, 9-11 truthers, proletarian newspaper distributors, the good, the bad, and the nutty, all moving in a mass towards the Capitol, at least for once under the banner of a common goal. 

It’s a start, at least.  I hope y’all have plans for the 21st, as well.

Satchmo in the Shadows

(Promoted at 12:11 AM PDT on Sunday, September 16, 2007)

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting(Originally posted at Truth & Progress)
If you’ve come by for politics today, I hope you’re not disappointed. Perhaps it’s the weather. In fact, it probably is the weather, but not in the way you might think. The never-ending war built on a pile of lies combined with the F’d-up-state of our government and poltiical discourse are also under my skin a so if these are things you’re looking to fix today, perhaps you should go elsewhere. It’s just my mood. Today, if you’d like to stay, lets enjoy a song together instead. 

Growing up in a very musical household with mom a pianist and dad a clarinet/saxophone playing band leader, music is tightly woven though my DNA. Louis Armstrong would have been a household name there anyhow but before I even came along, “Satchmo” was the name of our resident stray cat; a scat-cat, if you will. ‘spose I should count my blessings that I wasn’t named Dolly.

Four at Four

This is an OPEN THREAD, but it also features four stories in the news at 4 o’clock. A book is like a garden carried in the pocket.

  1. BBC News reports that the rush on Northern Rock continues in Britain. “The rush of customers taking money out of Northern Rock has continued for a second day, amid concerns over its emergency Bank of England loan… The bank is not short of assets, but they are tied up in loans to home owners. Because of the global credit crunch Northern Rock has found it difficult to borrow the cash to run its day-to-day operations. Northern Rock’s business and capital base themselves have been judged to be sound by the Financial Services Authority… Unlike most banks, which get their money from customers making deposits into savings accounts, Northern Rock is built around its mortgage business.” The Telegraph adds police were used to disperse Northern Rock queues. “Long lines formed at 72 branches across the country even before counters opened this morning. ¶ Police were called to deal with ‘boisterous customers’ after a Glasgow City Centre branch closed at midday… In Sheffield city centre, an officer asked more than one hundred savers to leave the Pinstone Street branch after their details were taken by Northern Rock staff. The majority of people queuing were middle aged or retired.”

  2. The Los Angeles Times reports on a win-win day for Mexico’s congress where they passed tax measures sought by President Felipe Calderon’s conservative party and electoral reforms wanted by the leftist opposition. “Mexico’s legislature approved major overhauls of the nation’s tax and election laws Friday, untangling a months-long stalemate that had threatened to make the country ungovernable in the wake of last year’s bitterly contested presidential election. ¶ Longtime rivals crafted the compromise in weeks of highly sensitive talks that gave President Felipe Calderon’s conservative National Action Party, or PAN, the tax reform it had sought for more than a decade. The leftist Democratic Revolution Party, or PRD, which accuses Calderon’s party of stealing the 2006 presidential election, gained tough new limits on negative campaign advertising and a purge of top election officials… ¶ Calderon was willing to compromise with PRD leaders even as they attacked him in public as an ‘illegitimate’ leader. At the same time, PRD moderates gradually and quietly distanced themselves from defeated presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who proclaimed himself Mexico’s ‘legitimate’ president after last year’s vote.”

  3. News from The Guardian that 1,300 years of global diplomacy has ended for China’s giant pandas. “The world’s cuddliest diplomats are out of a job. China will no longer give giant pandas to foreign countries as a way of improving international relations, the domestic media has reported. Ending an ancient tradition, wildlife officials said the endangered animals would only be lent for breeding and biological research. ¶ But questions are likely to be raised about the financial motives behind a decision that looks likely to boost the lucrative business of renting out the animals to zoos for as much as $1m (£490,000) a year.”

  4. Finally, this rather bleak story from Damien Cave at The New York Times — “Curfew Over, a Baghdad Book Mart Tries to Turn the Page“.

    Mukdad Ismail rearranged his books, … turned and faced the street. “Books, books: five books for 1,000 dinars, one for 250,” he shouted, his voice thick as a tenor’s, from his years of studying acting. “Come on, come on, those who are hungry for literature!”

    Exactly 15 men looked on.

    Here on Mutanabi Street, the capital’s 1,000-year-old intellectual core, they had come to celebrate and witness the first Friday in more than a year in the city without a curfew from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. It was a moment of potential revival…

    And on Friday, few Iraqis seemed confident enough to test their newfound freedom. Just before noon, only a few cars could be seen on streets downtown that are typically dense with traffic. At a market named Haraj (the word means “noisy”) the only sounds of commerce came from a half-empty cafe with a growling generator. At one point someone left a small shopping bag behind, and customers panicked, fearing it might contain a bomb.

    Fear kept most of the booksellers from appearing at Mutanabi. Though complaints about the curfew had been common for months, Mr. Ismail was joined on the sidewalk by only two or three other vendors, clustered near ornate Ottoman-era buildings charred black by the March 5 bombing. To the booksellers’ left, two Iraqi soldiers strolled by a scrawny gray cat and shops imprisoned by metal grates…

    “Today,” he said, “I am a king.” Then he smiled broadly and chuckled at the mostly empty street.

    Only a few books had been sold by the time the men began to pack up for home in the early afternoon. Customers acknowledged that the market had a long way to go before matching the hustle and bustle of the old days.

    The whole story is worth reading (it’s short). Rather a bleak reboot for books again in Iraq.

One more story below the fold…

How Are We Doing? Feedback Thread

Surprisingly enough, this is the first big group blog I have ever run! The same goes for all my partners in crime here. Logically speaking, I anticipated not being able to control everything….but I guess the non-logical parts of me expected to be able to.

Those parts are freaking out a bit!

There are more essays and comments than I can read, but I want to read every one! I want to be able to rate very comment, I want to make sure everyone is happy….I want, I want, I want…..perfection!!! 

But of course I have NO idea how to make that happen!

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Can We Fix It? Part II

Last night I wrote about a nagging thought that hangs out in the back of my head these days. Today, I think I’ll bring another one out from the dank recesses and let it see the light of day. I was actually spurred to do so by this bit from a diary at Who Is IOZ:

In any event, the notion that Bush isn’t a moron is a form of national self-flattery. At its root is the belief that he can’t be a moron because if he were, that would mean that the American people, our government and institutions, allowed ourselves to be conquered by a moron. It would mean that the whole edifice of Western Democracy, centuries in the making, is cheaper than a backlot set. It would mean that the fruits of the political Enlightenment were finally plucked and chucked onto the compost heap with no more effort than it takes to nickname some reporters, shamble around, talk with an aw-shucks accent, and produce some decent war pornography. It would mean that the founders were right to fear democracy and their descendents wrong to give it to us.

emphasis mine

The thought that roams around in the back of my head is to wonder whether or not a democratic republic can actually work. To my view, we have already proven that it is not working in this particular time and place. The question for me is if it can ever work – or at least whether or not it can work on the scale of a country the size of the US.

How to Second Life part 1 – Creating Kossack Fullstop.

When I offered the community the option of having in-world tutorials for Second Life, or a howto diary, the community overwhelmingly chose howto diaries.

Notice I snuck in a plural there – due to screenshots this is going to be a series. But, I will be making this as thorough as possible so that everyone will be able to join the growing Daily Kos community in Second Life.

I won’t bother to try to sell Second Life here, and if you’re not interested or think it’s pointless, don’t bother commenting to that effect – this diary is help for people who have shown an interest.

That said, join me over the flip, and I’ll introduce you to Kossack Fullstop.

Oh, and lots of screenshots, so be warned.

A Week in the Life

It’s my plan every Saturday to post the essay portion of Teacher’s Lounge as a diary here.  So sometimes I’m going to mention Docudharma as if it is some other place.

Having no time…or a topic…this morning, I took the fall back position…

Humanitarian Disaster – That’s Iraq

In light of the new numbers calculating the Iraq civilian death toll to be 1 to 1.2 MILLION people out of a total pre-US invasion population of what I thought to be 31 million, but is more likely to have been 24 to 26 million I wrote a comment last evening on the inestimable nightprowlkitty’s post about us needing to do THE MATH to make some sense of that number.

What was the original Iraq population? 

I’m thinking perhaps around 31 million?

Let’s compare – California has what, 37 million citizens?

What cities in Cal. have a population of 1.2 million (the same percentage of 1 million out of 31 million)?

San Jose is at 950,000, and San Diego is at 1,200,000. San Francisco is at about 750,000.

Can you imagine San Francisco gone?  San Diego a memory?  San Jose just a cinder pile?

On a national basis, the number would climb to 10 million dead.  No New York AND Boston AND Hartford?

The numbers aren’t real because we don’t translate them into what we know.  Time to do – as Karl Rove says – THE MATH.

This morning, the NY Times’ Bob Herbert speaks to what is being termed a humanitarian crisis.

When the U.S. launched its “shock and awe” invasion in March 2003, the population of Iraq was about 26 million. The flaming horror unleashed by the invasion has since forced 2.2 million of those Iraqis, nearly a tenth of the population, to flee the country. Many of those who left were professionals marked for death – doctors, lawyers, academics, the very people with the skills necessary to build a viable society.

The Iraq Ministry of Health reported that 102 doctors and 164 nurses were killed from April 2003 to May 2006. It is believed that nearly half of Iraq’s doctors have fled. The exodus of health care professionals in a country hemorrhaging from the worst kinds of violence pretty much qualifies as nightmarish.

While more than two million Iraqis have fled to other countries, another two million have been displaced internally. According to the Global Policy Forum, a group that monitors international developments:

But a crisis is not a permanent condition.  It is, by its definition, a critical point in time which requires resolution.

cri·sis  (krss)
n. pl. cri·ses (-sz)
a. A crucial or decisive point or situation; a turning point.
b. An unstable condition, as in political, social, or economic affairs, involving an impending abrupt or decisive change.
2. A sudden change in the course of a disease or fever, toward either improvement or deterioration.
3. An emotionally stressful event or traumatic change in a person’s life.
4. A point in a story or drama when a conflict reaches its highest tension and must be resolved.
[Middle English, from Latin, judgment, from Greek krisis, from krnein, to separate, judge; see krei- in Indo-European roots.]
Synonyms: crisis, crossroad, exigency, head, juncture, pass

I believe that what is occurring in Irzq has gone well beyond a crisis and is a full-on disaster – of genocide.

I’ll let the facts of the actions speak for themselves in that argument.

But for now, I’d like to share with you a bit about how it is to try to be a nurse in Iraq.  I posted this during the week in May which is celebrated – sort of – in the US as “Nurses’ Week”. I tried to give a flavor for the difference in nursing between military nurses at a CSH in Iraq and their native Iraq civilian counterparts.  I haven’t been able to connect with any nurses in Iraq directly, so if you have contacts, please share or forward this so they know they aren’t forgotten.

You Don’t Say

Appearing at The Jaundiced Eye, the Independent Bloggers’ Alliance, and My Left Wing.

“Over the past two and a half years, I have seen tyranny, dishonesty, corruption and depravity of types I never thought possible. I’ve seen things I didn’t know man was capable of.”

— Alberto Ganzales

Alberto Gonzales on the occasion of his resignation from the post of Attorney General of the United States; September 14, 2007.

Pony Party: We’re Awake Now

  I am going to be overly literal for this edition of Pony Party. Some of you might, like me enjoy, taking pictures. This Pony Party is an invite to all of you to share some of your favorite pictures. I have had my coffee, I am awake and kicking, and eager be to be cheery and annoying.
  You know, like Katie Couric, only poor, with no television audience, and possibly slightly more coherent politics. Her problem is not that she is super-establishment, she is too blurry and unaware for that.

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