December 4, 2009 archive

Understand Organized Crime and Rogue Economics

I think the thing that fascinate me the most is the solemn and evangelical need for Americans to “be born yesterday”. This naivite is beautifully portrayed by Mark Twain and it continues to this day. That’s why it is so easy to fool Americans. I remember when I lived in Florence, Italy I knew some hustlers, mainly Papagalli or gigolos (I have a penchant for always associating with “low” companions) who told me that the stupidest people in the world and the easiest marks were the Americans by a long shot. People from other countries knew the score, knew what they wanted and got on with it. But Americans were clueless in the eyes of these professionals and wanted to be fooled.

So it’s no surprise that we have entire institutions built to convince us that we need to pull the wool over our own eyes. So the propaganda organs (and they are entirely that–I see no difference between Pravda of several decades ago and say NYT except that Pravda stories were better written. There is a party line in the U.S. media and there’s are pretend conflicts that resemble professional wrestling but no real fundamental political differences are ever seen in the official press.  

Afternoon Edition

Afternoon Edition is an Open Thread

Now with World and U.S. News.  49 Story Final.

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Pakistan militants kill 40 in mosque attack

by Nasir Jaffry, AFP

2 hrs 56 mins ago

RAWALPINDI, Pakistan (AFP) – Suicide bombers stormed a mosque frequented by army officers in Pakistan’s garrison city of Rawalpindi on Friday leaving 40 people dead in an onslaught of gunfire, grenades and explosions.

Four militants launched the attack, opening fire, tossing grenades and then detonating suicide vests in a crowd gathered for Friday prayers in the city adjoining the capital Islamabad, witnesses and officials said.

Rawalpindi is home to the military’s headquarters and is a frequent target of Taliban insurgents, who have staged a wave of fierce attacks in recent months to avenge military offensives against them across the northwest.

Invade Pakistan!!!

Or better yet, nuke it back to the stone age.


Let’s just get it over with, shall we?

I mean, we are AMERICA dammit! We go where we want and do what we want and take what we want and we are more than willing to make shit up, forge evidence, lie to ourselves and the world and do whatever else it takes to justify our blatantly self interested actions.

But we ARE reasonable. We will after all only conquer places and kill masses of people (and wedding parties) if they pose a FULL 1% chance of maybe, perhaps, ever possibly attacking us in the near future…….or the medium future….or ever.

After all…..9/11!

We lost almost three thousand people on 9/11, and have only killed hundreds of thousands of Muslims since then….maybe not even a million….yet. And we have only killed about double the number of our own troops/people who got killed on 9/11, to avenge the people who we lost on 9/11.

So let’s stop dithering….and conquer the WORLD!

Or we will never be absolutely safe, and only a 100% ironclad guarantee that we will never lose another American life to terrorism is good enough, right?

The half-hearted, Greening of America, via China, Spain, Poland …

Elusive Goal of Greening U.S. Energy


The Great Green Hope for lifting America’s economy is not looking so robust.


Growth in clean energy industries and in green jobs has been considerably slower and bumpier than anticipated, industry experts say.


Last week, the Gamesa wind turbine plant in western Pennsylvania announced it was laying off nearly half its 280 workers. Last month, General Electric said it would close a solar panel factory in Delaware


There are myriad reasons why green jobs have grown more slowly than hoped. The clean energy component of the $787 billion stimulus package has only recently started to kick in. Energy experts say that banks, which have been reluctant to lend generally, have been especially loath to lend for alternative energy projects.

And renewable-energy companies are hesitating to invest in new plants and equipment before Congress enacts new environmental mandates, like cap and trade, to limit carbon emissions.


Presto! Unemployed people vanish before your very eyes

  The big economic news today is the unemployment rate dropped slightly.

 The rate unexpectedly fell to 10 percent, from 10.2 percent in October, as employers cut the fewest number of jobs since the recession began. The government also said 159,000 fewer jobs were lost in September and October than first reported.

  If part-time workers who want full time jobs and laid-off workers who have given up looking for jobs are included, the so-called underemployment rate also fell, to 17.2 percent from 17.5 percent in October.

 Understand that I’m suspicious of any government numbers, especially positive economic numbers, because politicians have a long tradition of lying with them. So when these numbers came out so much better than everyone expected, I decided to look at the raw numbers.

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Iraq War Inquiry, Day Seven

Today, Dec 4th, they’re already into day eight of the Inquiry with that covering “Military Planning” and “The view from London and Baghdad 2004-2007”.

But so far some of what has come forth has been that the administration, long before Sept 11 2001 were focusing on regime change in Iraq and probably looking for ways to justify their wants. On 9/11 Condi Rice mentioned not only al Qaeda as being suspected guilty parties to the attacks that day but also Saddam might have had a hand in them. This while the rest of the Country was intently focused on the devastating Deaths and Destruction and while the President was flying around the Country instead of directly back to Washington from the Florida visit when the attacks took place. Not three days later even President Bush was talking up possible Saddam’s guilt

You’re Welcome

Hey, don’t everyone thank me at once!

As my gift to this country that I love so much, I personally fixed that whole unemployment problem there by lowerin’ the unemployment rate from 10.2% to 10.0% last month.  It was obvious that rampant socialism wasn’t gettin’ the job done, and that someone had to goose the free markets to get things rollin’ again.  And I am that goose.

How, you may ask, did I save the country?  With my book, of course!  The publishing company had to hire millions (-ish) of new workers to print additional copies, plus all those pilots, stewardesses, and associated airport employees needed for my bus tour, and also all those additional mall employess for the crush of humanity linin’ up to get there books signed.  The waves of free market activity are like a giant tiramisu rollin’ across the ocean!

Blessed are the Pure in Interpretation

Recently, it has become known that a group of conservative Bible scholars are attempting to re-translate the Bible to fit a decidedly conservative spin.   Calling themselves the Conservative Bible Project, the Wikipedia-inspired platform removes troublesome things like facts and original intent, instead softening the language of that original radical liberal Comrade Jesus.   The problem among many, of course, is that the original Bible as rendered has no allegiance to Twenty-first century ideology, since it was written centuries before.   The strength of the document is in its relative impartiality, at least as regards contemporary culture conflict.   Much about this project troubles me, but my own red flags arise whenever revisionism without just cause and with a stated agenda are justified by excuse and rationalization.   Apparently unable to stick to its own interpretation within the existent passages, this group must create its own scripture in the process, else those evil liberals continue their nefarious brainwashing.

If this were merely some over-reaching effort to put an ideological spin on Jesus and his words, that would be bad enough, but the project contains an element of prudishness to it as well.   In researching for this piece, I came across a helpful column in America Magazine, written by John W. Martens.

There are numerous other issues on which one could raise substantial concerns. The CBP editors are unwilling to grant that Jesus is talking about wine, you know, the stuff with alcohol, in Mark 2: 22, and instead suggest “fresh grape juice” for oinos. It is hard to know how this ancient Welch’s will “burst the wineskins,” thereby destroying the point of the parable, and even harder to know why there were prohibitions on drunkenness amongst early Christians if they were only drinking grape juice.

The project has chosen to address The Old Testament as well.  I’d be curious to know how they’re going to get around Noah’s unfortunate David Hasselhoff-like bout of intoxication.  Genesis 9 provides the story.

Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard.  When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent.  Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father’s nakedness and told his two brothers outside.  But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it across their shoulders; then they walked in backward and covered their father’s nakedness. Their faces were turned the other way so that they would not see their father’s nakedness.  When Noah awoke from his wine and found out what his youngest son had done to him, he said, “Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers.”  He also said, “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem! May Canaan be the slave of Shem.

As I interpret it, I take the passage to mean that even the Godliest of the Godly have gaping flaws and make poor decisions at times, but it speaks far worse to those who seek to cover up these matters as a means of suiting their own purposes.   The Canaanites mentioned in the passage were a Semetic peoples conquered by the Israelites and largely assimilated into their numbers.   Conventional interpretation labels the sons and daughters of Canaan a wicked and evil people who were justifiably driven out of the Promised Land to make way for the Hebrews, as they were squatting on land not belonging to them.   Rather than joining forces and entering the promised territory hard won by conflict, they were conquered by force.

Scholars have never completely come to a consensus agreement as to what the curse of Ham really entails, but in any case, the latter verses of the above passage have been variously used over time to justify racism and enslavement of Black Africans.  It would be interesting to see how the Conservative Bible Project can reconcile this particularly troublesome situation, since words alone cannot defeat context and intent.   So much of biblical understanding relies heavily on back story and correct framing, but taking words literally in isolation from the larger picture is where intolerance and rigidity of understanding find their nexus.          

Ham is not directly cursed for his actions; instead the curse falls upon his youngest son Canaan. The curse seems unusually severe for merely observing Noah unclothed. An explanation sometimes offered notes that the phrase “exposing or uncovering nakedness” is used several times elsewhere in the Pentateuch as a euphemism for having sexual relations. See Leviticus 18:6-19 in which this phrase is mentioned in connection with a variety of women in the family–one’s mother, stepmother, sister, half sister, granddaughter, aunt, daughter-in-law, sister-in-law– as well as in certain relationships (during her menstrual period, sleeping with a mother and daughter, etc.)

Rashi, the main commentator on Torah, explains the harshness of the curse: “Some say Cham saw his father naked and either sodomized or castrated him. His thought was “Perhaps my father’s drunkenness will lead to intercourse with our mother and I will have to share the inheritance of the world with another brother! I will prevent this by taking his manhood from him! When Noah awoke, and he realized what Cham had done, he said, “Because you prevented me from having a fourth son, your fourth son, Canaan, shall forever be a slave to his brothers, who showed respect to me!”

Greed combined with personal gain compels others to violence and brutality.   Lessons like these are why the Scriptures never truly date, though I can almost certainly guarantee that the Conservative Bible Project’s bastardization endeavor will need to go through several revisions.  Political winds change at will, but human nature never does.   Still, nothing sets conservative tongue a-waggling quicker than the fear of socialism.    

What is most troubling, however, for the editors of the CBP is the socialism that is rife in modern translations. For instance, “volunteer” is a conservative word, and appears rarely in translations, while words such as “laborer” and “fellow-worker” appear numerous times. Apparently, “work” and labor” reflect socialism, which strikes me as a place that conservatives might not want to go. Are they truly opposed to work?

They themselves?   Yes.   Their loyal voting bloc of the easily deceived and educationally impoverished?  No.   Why unite when you can divide and conquer?

Martens concludes, quite devastatingly,

Best of all, though, is the new translation of Mark 3:27, where “the strong man” of the KJV (also in NRSV and NIV) becomes the “well-armed man” of the CBP. I can just see the “well-armed man” now, ancient rifle in hand, defending his turf, against wine, socialism, and co-workers. There is a little problem here for the CBP: in Jesus’ parable, the “strong man” is Satan. Hmmm…labor on my fellow-workers, labor on, we will disarm him yet.

The verse in Mark that Martens cites is prefaced by this one.

And if Satan is divided and fights against himself, how can he stand? He would never survive.

I used the larger parable from which these verses come in a column I wrote a week ago, where I set out a familiar turn of phrase widely attributed to Abraham Lincoln.  The verse prior to that one reads,

If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.  

Some translations render the passage,

Similarly, a family splintered by feuding will fall apart.

The Bible doesn’t promise us what we want to hear.  At times its wisdom is as sharp and cutting as it is inspiring and guiding, but wisdom as I understand it is not meant to be a pep talk.   The idolatry of the Conservative Bible Project is no less damning than that of the Golden Calf or the pursuit of profit.   Faith is not something that we can transform into our own image, lest it guide us towards places that make us uncomfortable or challenge our assumptions.   Faith is not tunnel vision, either, which is something many Evangelical conservative groups and loyal conservatives are quick to adopt, since it promises nothing messy, incomplete, or inexact.   Yet, conceding as so many do that faith guidance is outdated or would force us to adopt some singular uniform focus that would come at the expense of our independence is not a correct assumption, either.  

Jesus concludes,

Let me illustrate this further. Who is powerful enough to enter the house of a strong man like Satan and plunder his goods? Only someone even stronger–someone who could tie him up and then plunder his house.

NY State Sen Diane Savino On Gay Marriage

I am so proud that I had the opportunity to help elect this woman. Even though the NY State Senate voted down same sex marriage equality, Sen Savino’s words are so eloquent. It is so sad that her fellow legislators did not hear her words and comprehend their meaning. Sen. Savino says it all for me and so many others.

Open Snow Thread


It snowed here last year too. This pic is my kid’s snow angel from last time.

snow angel3

Houston braces for about 2 inches of snow

Preparations under way, and some in Houston area may even see half a foot of the white stuff


Dec. 4, 2009, 8:29AM

Airport travelers should call 281-230-7000 to check flight status. Travelers can also check

To report icy streets, call 311.


Complete forecast, radar and more


See live traffic updates

22 tips for driving on slippery roads

School Zone: Updates on dismissals, closures

Snow talk: Chat with SciGuy at noon today

Vent or rejoice on Twitter

How to keep your pets warm, too

Tips for garden care in the cold

Houston is on track today to break a record with the earliest snowfall ever recorded in the city’s history.

Forecasters are still hedging their bets, but say the most likely scenario is 1 to 2 inches of widespread snowfall beginning this afternoon. Some areas could get up to a half a foot.

Iowa and North Carolina

D225G melt out your lungs disease.…

3 Days until December 7, Pearl Harbor Day!  Having seen videos by of Al Gore fading away behind his praetorian guards.  The facial features, the body language says it all.  The last vestiges of my survival depend on selling my house, which now of course I can’t.

ABC mindwipe TV featured our glorious troops this morning.  God, are we right back in the Bush years?  My rants are pissing people off.  They are just not polite.  Armageddon is just not marketable even if it is the truth.

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