Friday, 04/18/2014

A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark...

Paul Revere was just lucky there was an "unusual phase of the moon" that night in '75.  But why did he ride down that road?

On Tuesday evening, the 18th, it was observed, that a number of Soldiers were marching towards the bottom of the Common. About 10 o'Clock, Dr. Warren Sent in great haste for me, and beged that I would imediately Set off for Lexington, where Messrs. Hancock & Adams were, and acquaint them of the Movement, and that it was thought they were the objets.

And what happened as he was out alarming the countryside?

I observed a Wood at a Small distance, & made for that. When I got there, out Started Six officers, on Horse back, and orderd me to dismount;-one of them, who appeared to have the command, examined me, where I came from, & what my Name Was? I told him. it was Revere, he asked if it was Paul? I told him yes He asked me if I was an express? I answered in the afirmative. He demanded what time I left Boston? I told him; and aded, that their troops had catched aground in passing the River, and that There would be five hundred Americans there in a short time, for I had alarmed the Country all the way up.

He imediately rode towards those who stoppd us, when all five of them came down upon a full gallop; one of them, whom I afterwards found to be Major Mitchel, of the 5th Regiment, Clapped his pistol to my head, called me by name, & told me he was going to ask me some questions, & if I did not give him true answers, he would blow my brains out.

He then asked me similar questions to those above. He then orderd me to mount my Horse, after searching me for arms. He then orderd them to advance, & to lead me in front. When we got to the Road, they turned down towards Lexington. When we had got about one Mile, the Major Rode up to the officer that was leading me, & told him to give me to the Sergeant. As soon as he took me, the Major orderd him, if I attempted to run, or any body insulted them, to blow my brains out.

We rode till we got near Lexington Meeting-house, when the Militia fired a Voley of Guns, which appeared to alarm them very much.

No mention of his warning the British that, "hey, you're not going to succeed."


April 18, 4:54 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Cantico del Sole

Ezra Pound:

The thought of what America would be like
If the Classics had a wide circulation
                      Troubles my sleep,
The thought of what America,
The thought of what America,
The thought of what America would be like
If the Classics had a wide circulation
                      Troubles my sleep.
Nunc dimittis, now lettest thou thy servant,
Now lettest thou thy servant
                      Depart in peace.
The thought of what America,
The thought of what America,
The thought of what America would be like
If the Classics had a wide circulation . . .
                      Oh well!
                      It troubles my sleep.

I could use a nap myself.


PS--A reading.

April 18, 8:43 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, 04/17/2014


For no reason...


April 17, 6:25 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Democracy In Our Republic

Just a couple thoughtful posts on subverting democracy at home:

Adding to that last one: I still think the NPV is unwise.


PS--Forgot that we're not a democracy, but an oligarchy.  Which shows that voting isn't the only fundamental component in a free society...

April 17, 5:13 PM in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Nobody Goes There Anymore Because It's Too Fucking Crowded With Deranged Bloggers

This is illustrative of why I haven't read, let alone posted at, Corrente in a long, long time.  I always agreed that Obamacare is suboptimal, which is why I actively fought against it and pushed for HR676 until the last moment, but holy fucking derangement.


April 17, 2:49 PM in And Fuck... | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Other Than That, How Was The Pogrom, Mr Babel?

Well, this is nice:

Jews in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk where pro-Russian militants have taken over government buildings were told they have to "register" with the Ukrainians who are trying to make the city become part of Russia, according to Ukrainian and Israeli media.

Jews emerging from a synagogue say they were handed leaflets that ordered the city's Jews to provide a list of property they own and pay a registration fee "or else have their citizenship revoked, face deportation and see their assets confiscated," reported Ynet News, Israel's largest news website.

Donetsk is the site of an "anti-terrorist" operation by the Ukraine government, which has moved military columns into the region to force out militants who are demanding a referendum be held on joining Russia. The news was carried first by the Ukraine's Donbass news agency.

The leaflets bore the name of Denis Pushilin, who identified himself as chairman of "Donetsk's temporary government," and were distributed near the Donetsk synagogue and other areas, according to the reports.

Pushilin acknowledged that flyers were distributed under his organization's name in Donetsk, but denied any connection to them, Ynet reported in Hebrew.

I guess some people are still mad the job wasn't finished.  It's a wonder the Pritskys left...


PS--There are denials.

April 17, 2:03 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Rancher? I...Can't...Stop!


Bundy doesn’t recognize the federal government. Speaking to conservative radio host Dana Loesch last week, he said he believes in a “sovereign state of Nevada” and abides by all state laws, but, “I don’t recognize the United States government as even existing.”

You don't recognize the US government?  Then you do not abide by state law.  The Nevada constitution:

[T]he Members of this Convention, elected by the Authority of the aforesaid enabling Act of Congress, Assembled in Carson City the Capital of said Territory of Nevada, and immediately subsequent to its Organization, do adopt, on behalf of the people of said Territory the Constitution of the United States.
In obedience to the requirements of an act of the Congress of the United States, approved March twenty-first, A.D. eighteen hundred and sixty-four, to enable the people of Nevada to form a constitution and state government, this convention, elected and convened in obedience to said enabling act, do ordain as follows, and this ordinance shall be irrevocable, without the consent of the United States and the people of the State of Nevada.
That the people inhabiting said territory do agree and declare, that they forever disclaim all right and title to the unappropriated public lands lying within said territory, and that the same shall be and remain at the sole and entire disposition of the United States.
[T]he Paramount Allegiance of every citizen is due to the Federal Government in the exercise of all its Constitutional powers as the same have been or may be defined by the Supreme Court of the United States; and no power exists in the people of this or any other State of the Federal Union to dissolve their connection therewith or perform any act tending to impair[,] subvert, or resist the Supreme Authority of the government of the United States. The Constitution of the United States confers full power on the Federal Government to maintain and Perpetuate its [existence]...

He's a fucking idiot, and a seditious anarchist bully, to boot.


April 17, 1:45 PM in And Fuck..., Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)


I hardly know-ah!


April 17, 12:20 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Healthier? I Hardly...Oh, Nevermind.

[I]t would deserve [government's] most serious attention to prevent a leprosy or any other loathsome and offensive disease, though neither mortal nor dangerous, from spreading itself among [the great body of the people], though perhaps no other public good might result from such attention besides the prevention of so great a public evil.

 - Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations

Of course Lochner and Jacobson got me thinking about the history of health regulation in the US.  Apparently we can look to Baltimore for starters:

Epidemics played a role in the formation of public health agencies in Maryland. The first health office in the State was created in Baltimore to cope with yellow fever epidemics beginning in 1792 (Chapter 56, Acts of 1793), and in 1797, after Baltimore was incorporated as a city, the State's first local health department came into being. Baltimore physicians had ample opportunity to study yellow fever, since more than a century would elapse before the mosquito was identified as the carrying culprit. Baltimore doctors, however, were among the first to vaccinate for smallpox, and by 1802 had set up their own Institute to vaccinate the poor free of charge, a duty later assumed by the City Health Department. In 1809, the General Assembly authorized a lottery to support the Vaccine Institute, but did not create the State Vaccine Agency, the first statewide health agency, until 1864

And as I've observed before, the US enacted the first payroll tax in 1798 to provide healthcare and hospitals, originally for our seamen:

The federal customhouses efficiently collected the marine hospital tax. Rough estimates suggest that from 1800 to 1812, mariners’ wages fluctuated from fifteen to twenty dollars per month. Marine hospital taxes constituted a withholding of between 1 and 1.33 percent per month. In these years, tax collection peaked in 1809 at $74,192, the majority of which came from New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Charleston—a trend that would continue throughout most of the century. On the strength of the marine hospital tax, the federal government established a network of hospitals and other health care facilities for the merchant marine.

As a matter of policy, the marine hospitals treated several thousand mariners per year, and in so doing, helped to maintain a stable supply of healthy maritime workers. This was a goal that Alexander Hamilton had articulated in Federalist no. 11. "When time shall have more nearly assimilated the principles of navigation," wrote Hamilton, "a nursery of seamen…will become a universal resource." This "nursery of seamen" indeed powered the United States economic expansion. 

Speaking of Charleston, one marine hospital was built there in the 1830s:

A National Historic Landmark, the Old Marine Hospital, was designed by Robert Mills, often referred to as the first professionally trained American architect, and a Charleston native. Mills was responsible for the Washington Monument and many public buildings throughout the State and nation. He also developed a pattern design from his Charleston hospital that was used to build similar hospitals around the country. The Old Marine Hospital is one of only eight remaining from a group of around 30 marine hospitals built before the Civil War.

The Marine Hospital was also one of the most controversial buildings of Charleston's antebellum period, viewed by state's rights advocates as an illustration of the Federal government's abuse of its powers...In Charleston, many people resented the heavy hand of the Federal government in the construction of their Marine Hospital, which began in 1831. Even though Mills had left the city only two years earlier, state's rights supporters were particularly infuriated by the replacement of their local architect and contractors with Mills and other professionals from Washington D.C., as well as the increased costs of the project. By the time of its completion in 1834, the Marine Hospital was rejected by Charlestonians as an unworthy civic accomplishment.

This was all within the context of South Carolina's first dalliance with nullification, so it's not entirely surprising they'd react to fairly beneficial acts by the Feds (oddly enough, the rebels used it as a military hospital during the Civil War).  Anyway, our system of scattered marine hospitals eventually consolidated into the Marine Hospital Service and morphed into the Public Health Service (which now includes agencies like the NIH, CDC and FDA):

Cholera was one of the most feared epidemic diseases in 19th century America. It killed, within a short time, a sizable proportion of persons whom it infected. Major epidemics had occurred in the United States during the periods from 1832 to 1834, 1848 to 1849, and 1865 to 1866; and minor outbreaks had happened in 1850, '51, '52, '53, '54 and perhaps other years.

The disease was not native to America, but came across the Atlantic from Europe after traveling all the way from India, where it smoldered perpetually. Presumably quarantine could have prevented cholera from entering the United States, but the country did not have a national quarantine system. Instead, a tug-of-war between States Rights and Federal Rights had caused quarantine to be left under the control of state and municipal governments. As a result the Atlantic, gulf, and Pacific coasts were dotted with quarantines controlled by local officials concerned only with the welfare of their own ports, not the welfare of the Nation.

In the spring of 1874, following a year in which cholera invaded at least 18 states, Congress resolved that the recent epidemic be studied by an Army medical officer and the Supervising Surgeon General of the Marine Hospital Service (the agency which developed into the Public Health Service). Officials hoped that this study would provide information for local, state, and national officials to use in preventing or containing future outbreaks.

People today really don't know how much epidemic was a part of our history, and few remember the days before vaccines reduced misery and death from disease.  We need to be reminded time and again that one great benefit of centralized government has been to provide coordination and economies of scale to address serious problems of national scope.  Preventable illnesseses are more of a threat to individual liberty as supposedly tyrannical health laws.


April 17, 11:46 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)


Oh, hello there!  (Jan 2010)


April 17, 10:39 AM in Family Life | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Filibuster? I Hardly Know 'er!


An appeals court has rejected a long-shot lawsuit seeking to invalidate the Senate's filibuster rule as a violation of the Constitution's implicit principle of governance by the majority.

A three-judge panel of Republican appointees ruled unanimously Tuesday that the challengers -- led by the transparency group Common Cause -- lacked standing to sue, but didn't weigh in on the merits. They said the listed defendant, Vice President Joe Biden (in his capacity as president of the Senate), could not be held liable for any injuries suffered by the plaintiffs.
In his ruling, Randolph identified a major problem with regard to standing: the onus for the cloture rule is on the Senate, and senators cannot be held liable for filibustering, due to the Constitution's Speech and Debate Clause.

"If 'we assume for purposes of standing that [Common Cause] will ultimately receive the relief sought' ... it will be the Senate that has to conduct its legislative business according to a court-ordered change in its rule. Yet the complaint named neither the Senate nor a Senator. It is apparent why," the judge wrote. "The Constitution’s Speech or Debate Clause provides that 'for any Speech or Debate in either House,' Senators and Representatives 'shall not be questioned in any other Place.' The Clause confers immunity for any act that falls 'within the sphere of legitimate legislative activity.'"

Stephen Spaulding, policy counsel for Common Cause, took issue with the ruling.

"Obviously, we're disappointed by today’s DC Circuit decision. Our attorneys are reviewing the court’s opinion before deciding on a future course of action," he said in a statement Tuesday. "It's important to note that the court’s decision was strictly procedural; the judges did not rule on the merits of our claim that the filibuster rule and its 60 vote requirement for Senate action is unconstitutional."

Um...yeah, "strictly procedural" is a fairly important component in the process.  That's a silly dismissal of the ruling.  And you're wrong on the merits, too.


April 17, 9:17 AM in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Lochner? I Hardly Know 'er!

Activist judges used the 14th Amendment to toss labor laws.  Holmes dissented:

It is settled by various decisions of this court that state constitutions and state laws may regulate life in many ways which we as legislators might think as injudicious, or if you like as tyrannical, as this, and which, equally with this, interfere with the liberty to contract. Sunday laws and usury laws are ancient examples. A more modern one is the prohibition of lotteries. The liberty of the citizen to do as he likes so long as he does not interfere with the liberty of others to do the same, which has been a shibboleth for some well-known writers, is interfered with by school laws, by the Postoffice, by every state or municipal institution which takes his money for purposes thought desirable, whether he likes it or not. The 14th Amendment does not enact Mr. Herbert Spencer's Social Statics. The other day we sustained the Massachusetts vaccination law. Jacobson v. Massachusetts...

United States and state statutes and decisions cutting down the liberty to contract by way of combination are familiar to this court...Some of these laws embody convictions or prejudices which judges are likely to share. Some may not. But a Constitution is not intended to embody a particular economic theory, whether of paternalism and the organic relation of the citizen to the state or of laissez faire.

Naturally, Republicans wish Lochner were still the regime today.  Because government isn't instituted to help protect a variety of liberties, only to stay out of the way as the freedom to exploit others runs amok.  Damn those Reconstruction Amendments!


April 17, 8:29 AM in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, 04/16/2014

Je La Tu La Ti La Twah

Voulez-vous le taximeter?


April 16, 10:49 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

You Know Who Else Loved Productive Mothers?

Amanda tells us about a lovely scandal:

Back in November 2013, Doug Phillips, who, in his capacity as the president of Vision Forum Ministries, is probably the most important leader in the world of Biblical patriarchy, confessed to cheating on his wife and resigned as president of his ministry. “I engaged in a lengthy, inappropriate relationship with a woman,” he wrote. “While we did not ‘know’ each other in a Biblical sense, it was nevertheless inappropriately romantic and affectionate.” Shortly after his confession, Vision Forum Ministries closed up shop, unable to continue with the stink of sex scandal upon them.

It’s hard to underestimate the importance of Phillips in the small world of extreme fundamentalists. His father is one of the most critical founding fathers of the Christian  right movement generally, and Doug extended his work by largely building this culture of the far Christian right as we know it, especially if you watch 19 Kids & Counting. The Duggar family are friends and acolytes of Phillips, and Vision Forum, in turn, has used Michelle Duggar in their efforts to demonize contraception, including giving her an award for “Mother of the Year” for having so many children.

Mrs Breeding Vat would've qualified for Ehrenkreuz der Deutschen Mutter (1st Class), like...two times over (and counting).  Yeah, I went there.


April 16, 6:08 PM in Family Life | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Silver Liquor Of The Spirits

Lithium Dreams (White Sea):

Buzz Aldrin spied a plain from space: twice Rhode Island-sized,
not a glacier but this vast evaporation, a place so flat we use its plane
to calibrate the altitude of satellites, measure the retreat of polar ice.
A dry lagoon of element. Energy. Winking like a coin in a well.

Amy Beeder.


April 16, 7:25 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, 04/15/2014

Too Much Heaven On Their Minds

At last, all too well I can see where we all soon will be.


April 15, 10:23 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

He deigned to appear for a moment to the people

Oh, here's a bit of The Grand Inquisitor:

Thou wouldst go into the world, and art going with empty hands, with some promise of freedom which men in their simplicity and their natural unruliness cannot even understand, which they fear and dread- for nothing has ever been more insupportable for a man and a human society than freedom. But seest Thou these stones in this parched and barren wilderness? Turn them into bread, and mankind will run after Thee like a flock of sheep, grateful and obedient, though for ever trembling, lest Thou withdraw Thy hand and deny them Thy bread.

Dost Thou know that the ages will pass, and humanity will proclaim by the lips of their sages that there is no crime, and therefore no sin; there is only hunger? "Feed men, and then ask of them virtue!" that's what they'll write on the banner, which they will raise against Thee, and with which they will destroy Thy temple.

Oh, never, never can they feed themselves without us! No science will give them bread so long as they remain free. In the end they will lay their freedom at our feet, and say to us, "Make us your slaves, but feed us." They will understand themselves, at last, that freedom and bread enough for all are inconceivable together, for never, never will they be able to share between them! They will be convinced, too, that they can never be free, for they are weak, vicious, worthless, and rebellious.
It is prophesied that Thou wilt come again in victory, Thou wilt come with Thy chosen, the proud and strong, but we will say that they have only saved themselves, but we have saved all. We are told that the harlot who sits upon the beast, and holds in her hands the mystery, shall be put to shame, that the weak will rise up again, and will rend her royal purple and will strip naked her loathsome body.

But then I will stand up and point out to Thee the thousand millions of happy children who have known no sin. And we who have taken their sins upon us for their happiness will stand up before Thee and say: "Judge us if Thou canst and darest." Know that I fear Thee not...Thou shalt see that obedient flock who at a sign from me will hasten to heap up the hot cinders about the pile on which I shall burn Thee for coming to hinder us. For if anyone has ever deserved our fires, it is Thou. To-morrow I shall burn Thee. Dixi.
When the Inquisitor ceased speaking he waited some time for his Prisoner to answer him. His silence weighed down upon him. He saw that the Prisoner had listened intently all the time, looking gently in his face and evidently not wishing to reply. The old man longed for him to say something, however bitter and terrible. But He suddenly approached the old man in silence and softly kissed him on his bloodless aged lips. That was all his answer. The old man shuddered. His lips moved. He went to the door, opened it, and said to Him: 'Go, and come no more... come not at all, never, never!' And he let Him out into the dark alleys of the town. The Prisoner went away.



April 15, 7:23 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wait, Are We China Or North Korea?

It's so hard to tell which evil empire we are today.  Wake me when we're Iraq under Saddam Hussein.


April 15, 3:39 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Of That Day And Hour Knoweth No Man

No, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only:

Pastor John Hagee is warning members of his megachurch to prepare for the end of the world because a “blood moon” eclipse on Tuesday is signaling that the End Times could be beginning.

On Tuesday, most of the United States will be treated to the first of four complete lunar eclipses — which scientists call a tetrad — occurring in six month intervals. The eclipses are often referred to as “blood moons” because as sunlight shines on the moon through the Earth’s atmosphere, it gives the moon a red color.

Hagee, pastor of Texas’ Cornerstone Church, has written a book on the phenomenon titled Blood Moons: Something is About to Change. And he is airing a live television event on Tuesday to reveal “direct connections between four upcoming blood-moon eclipses and what they portend for Israel and all of humankind.”

Dude, that ancient nomadic desert shepherd tribe called and want their myths back.  And, for the record, it was Comet ISON that portended doom.  Derp.


April 15, 8:44 AM in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d

Uncle Walt:

O western orb sailing the heaven,
Now I know what you must have meant as a month since I walk’d,
As I walk’d in silence the transparent shadowy night,
As I saw you had something to tell as you bent to me night after night,
As you droop’d from the sky low down as if to my side, (while the other stars all look’d on,)
As we wander’d together the solemn night, (for something I know not what kept me from sleep,)
As the night advanced, and I saw on the rim of the west how full you were of woe,
As I stood on the rising ground in the breeze in the cool transparent night,
As I watch’d where you pass’d and was lost in the netherward black of the night,
As my soul in its trouble dissatisfied sank, as where you sad orb,
Concluded, dropt in the night, and was gone.

Didn't stay up to see the Blood Moon because I'm too old and anyway it was rainy.


April 15, 7:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, 04/14/2014

Here's A Little Handel

Because his Water Music and whatnot would just be too cliched.


April 14, 10:13 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)


Plowing through detritus in the woods.

Suuuuuch a nice day.

Yes, she can say 'rock'.  And can throw.


April 14, 7:50 PM in Family Life | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

More State Suicide

Think Progress:

Earlier this month, the Wisconsin Republican Party’s Resolutions Committee voted to endorse a proposal expressing the party’s support for “legislation that upholds Wisconsin’s right, under extreme circumstances, to secede...” 

Though there is no shortage of irony to the Party of Lincoln now morphing into the Party of Secession, this Wisconsin resolution is part of a larger pattern of conservatives questioning the legitimacy of the United States as a nation. Last week, several major conservative media figures, including Fox News’ Sean Hannity, promoted the cause of Cliven Bundy, a Nevada rancher who says that “I don’t recognize [the] United States Government as even existing.” On Saturday, federal officials announced that they would stop trying to enforce a court order against Bundy, at least for now, because of the potential for violence that resulted after armed right-wing militia members rallied to Bundy’s cause.

I guess they have the right to commit suicide and thus lose all their rights...


April 14, 1:55 PM in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Take You In The Sun To Promised Lands

Indeed, it is the time of the season...


April 14, 12:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Rent-seeking Run Amok


Four years ago Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey, abruptlycanceled America’s biggest and arguably most important infrastructure project, a desperately needed new rail tunnel under the Hudson River. Count me among those who blame his presidential ambitions, and believe that he was trying to curry favor with the government- and public-transit-hating Republican base.

Even as one tunnel was being canceled, however, another was nearing completion, as Spread Networks finished boring its way through the Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania. Spread’s tunnel was not, however, intended to carry passengers, or even freight; it was for a fiber-optic cable that would shave three milliseconds — three-thousandths of a second — off communication time between the futures markets of Chicago and the stock markets of New York. And the fact that this tunnel was built while the rail tunnel wasn’t tells you a lot about what’s wrong with America today.
[S]pending hundreds of millions of dollars to save three milliseconds looks like a huge waste. And that’s part of a much broader picture, in which society is devoting an ever-growing share of its resources to financial wheeling and dealing, while getting little or nothing in return.

How much waste are we talking about? A paper by Thomas Philippon of New York University puts it at several hundred billion dollars a year.

Mr. Philippon starts with the familiar observation that finance has grown much faster than the economy as a whole. Specifically, the share of G.D.P. accruing to bankers, traders, and so on has nearly doubled since 1980, when we started dismantling the system of financial regulation created as a response to the Great Depression.

What are we getting in return for all that money? Not much, as far as anyone can tell. Mr. Philippon shows that the financial industry has grown much faster than either the flow of savings it channels or the assets it manages. Defenders of modern finance like to argue that it does the economy a great service by allocating capital to its most productive uses — but that’s a hard argument to sustain after a decade in which Wall Street’s crowning achievement involved directing hundreds of billions of dollars into subprime mortgages.

Wow, that's fantastic!  What do you call your act?  The Rentiers!

Alternately: Rentiers! Fuck me. I mean, say what you want about the profit motive, Dude, at least it's an ethos.


April 14, 11:09 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Comparing Apples And Polio

On FB the other day there was a dude who claimed he wasn't an anti-vaxxer.  He asked rhetorical questions like, "do you realize how many vaccines there are today?" and, "why shouldn't parents be concerned about toxins like mercury in them?"  Etc.  So yeah, an anti-vaxxer--some of them, I've noticed, try to play the same game as Intelligent Design proponenst.

He also suggested we should be skeptical because, you know, corporations manufacture them and golly, Jonas Salk didn't make any money from his polio breakthrough:

On April 12, 1955, Edward R. Murrow asked Jonas Salk who owned the patent to the polio vaccine. “Well, the people, I would say,” Salk responded. “There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?”
Over the last half-century, Salk’s rhetorical question to Murrow has become a rallying cry for those who campaign against pharmaceutical company profiteering. To many, it represents a generous view of scientific discovery distilled down to a beautiful simplicity. One critic of the big pharma called Salk “the foster parent of children around the world with no thought of the money he could make by withholding the vaccine from the children of the poor.”

In fact, Salk’s three-sentence response to Murrow is a dangerous intuition pump—a misdirection from complex questions. It represents an easy but wrongheaded way to avoid the messy work of constructing a system to incentivize medical breakthroughs and make them widely available in the context of 21st-century economic realities. That’s not to say Salk was a propagandist or a panderer—he probably meant every word he said. But his thoughts on the polio vaccine applied to a specific situation at a specific time in our history.

“People worked on the polio vaccine like it was the Normandy invasion,” says Jane Smith, author of the book Patenting the Sun: Polio and the Salk Vaccine. More than 650,000 children were vaccinated. Their doctors had to submit forms, and public health officials tracked the information. Then it all had to happen again for placebo and control groups.

In the single year that the polio vaccine was unveiled, 80 million people donated money to the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, which spearheaded the vaccine effort. Many donors could only afford a few cents, but gave anyway (hence the foundation’s modern name, the March of Dimes). Schools, communities, and companies joined in a remarkable display of unity against the disease. Even Walt Disney’s cartoon characters contributed their talents, appearing in a film that adapted the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’ song “Heigh Ho” to an anti-polio ditty. In the 13 years leading up to the vaccine’s roll out, the budget of the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis swelled from $3 million to $50 million. An entire generation of microbiologists received money from the foundation, which even played a role in Watson and Crick’s description of DNA.

There was near unanimity within the organization that the public had already paid for the polio vaccine through their donations, and patenting it for profit would have represented double charging. That’s what Jonas Salk should have said to Murrow—not that all vaccines belong to the people, but rather that this vaccine belonged to the people.
The decision not to patent the vaccine made perfect economic sense under the circumstances. “The National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis was a nonprofit, centralized research and development operation,” says Robert Cook-Deegan, who studies intellectual property and genomics at Duke University. “They didn’t need an incentive structure.”
The landscape has shifted since Salk’s heyday. The U.S. government is now the primary applicant for vaccine-related patents, followed by GlaxoSmithKline and a number of other corporations. Private groups, like the Pasteur Institute, are also active. Responsibility for vaccine development is more evenly distributed now than in the 1950s, and that’s a good thing.

That was then, this is now.  Even if Salk were a saint who nobly forsook profit for his miraculous innoculation, it's not entirely clear to me that would be a great model or ever something that could be replicated.

It should also be noted that the profit motive in this case sucks.  Vaccines ain't big money makers and are actually a risky business, which is why we need different protections and incentives to make sure they keep being developed and manufactured.  That's not to suggest they don't generate revenue, but there's more gold in them that boner pills, and to suggest Big Pharma has pushed mandatory immunization to profit is as unsupported as claiming Big Pharma is funding the anti-vax movement.

And the only thing Salk proves is that vaccines are a necessary and effective.


April 14, 9:53 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Then I Recommend Huckabee Move To North Korea


Fox News host Mike Huckabee on Saturday suggested to a group of conservatives that there was “more freedom in North Korea” than the United States had under President Barack Obama.

Speaking at the New Hampshire Freedom Summit, Huckabee opined that “threats and affronts to our freedom today are so incredibly frightening.”

“Freedom of speech in this country, that for which the men grabbed their muskets off the mantel, did never mean that we’re to have fewer voices, but more voices,” the former Arkansas governor said at the event, which was sponsored by Koch brothers-backed Americans For Prosperity and Citizens United.

“My gosh, I’m beginning to think that there’s more freedom in North Korea sometimes than there is in the United States,” he continued. “When I go to the airport, I have to get in the surrender position while people put hands all over me. And I have to provide photo ID in a couple of different forms, and prove that I really am not going to terrorize the airplane.”

Huckabee added: “But if I want to go vote, I don’t need a thing. All I got to do is show up and I can give them anybody’s name, and that’s okay.”

My gosh, I'm beginning to think that Huckster is just a fucking troll.  So what's his solution to making us more free than the DPRK?  Banning abortion and gay marriage, and letting the Kochs buy elections whilst requiring photo ID to eliminate non-existant voter fraud?


April 14, 9:05 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Obamacare Strawmen Come In Many Sizes


[A]s early estimates of the newly ensured under Obamacare’s implementation are rolling in, it’s time to write a second draft of history — one that doesn’t include anything about John Roberts “upholding” or “saving” Obamacare. Because that’s an odd way to describe a decision that gutted the most effective part of the law.

I'm not sure I've heard anybody suggest that Roberts "upheld" or "saved" Obamacare.  Certainly people have noted his decision didn't toss out the individual mandate which, while it's not the entirety of the law or something that has directly increased coverage, it's certainly the cornerstone of the entire regime and what enables the ban on pre-existing conditions.

No argument from me that the best part of the law is its Medicaid expansion.  From a policy and constitutional perspective Roberts was egregiously in error giving states the ability to opt out, costing many millions of Americans access to healthcare, which is a moral travesty.

The article is fundamentally correct.  I just don't think it's a useful exercise to frame it with what strikes me as a click-bait strawman, nor does it help the law to suggest it's been "gutted" when it is still operating mostly as intended.  Medicaid expansion has, in fact, happened in many states.  And thanks to the effort of outgoing HHS Sec'y Sebelius, that's true even in Red States.

Obamacare itself is a suboptimal solution to our healthcare system's issues, and the Roberts Court's ruling was suboptimal as well.  Let's just not overstate things in either direction.


April 14, 8:13 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Drum Of War Thunders And Thunders

Call To Account!

Why does
a boot 
crush the Earth — fissured and rough?
What is above the battles’ sky -
When will you stand to your full height,
giving them your life?
When will you hurl a question to their faces:
Why are we fighting?

Vladimir Mayakovsky (1917).


April 14, 7:26 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, 04/13/2014

I See The Bad Moon Arisin'

Don't go around tonight, well, it's bound to take your life, there's a bad moon on the rise.


April 13, 10:52 PM in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)


I love the Darwin Fish:

If evolution is true, and if life on Earth originated in water, then there must have once been fish species possessing primitive limbs, which enabled them to spend some part of their lives on land. And these species, in turn, must be the ancestors of four-limbed, land-living vertebrates like us.

Sure enough, in 2004, scientists found one of those transitional species: Tiktaalik roseaea 375 million-year-old Devonian period specimen discovered in the Canadian Arctic by paleontologist Neil Shubin and his colleagues. Tiktaalik, explains Shubin on the latest episode of the Inquiring Minds podcast, is an "anatomical mix between fish and a land-living animal."

"It has a neck," says Shubin, a professor at the University of Chicago. "No fish has a neck. And you know what? When you look inside the fin, and you take off those fin rays, you find an upper arm bone, a forearm, and a wrist." Tiktaalik, Shubin has observed, was a fish capable of doing a push-up. It had both lungs and gills. In sum, it's quite the transitional form.

Shubin's bestselling book about his discovery, Your Inner Fish: A Journey Into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Bodyuses the example of Tiktaalik and other evolutionary evidence to trace how our own bodies share similar structures not only with close relatives like chimpanzees or orangutans, but indeed, with far more distant relatives like fish. Think of it as an extensive unpacking of a famous line by Charles Darwin from his book, The Descent of Man: "Man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin."

And now, PBS has adapted Your Inner Fish as a three-part series (you can watch the first installment here), using the irrepressible Shubin as a narrator who romps from Pennsylvania roadsides to the melting Arctic in search of fossils that elucidate the natural history of our own anatomy.

Gonna have to check the show out.  Already added the book to my Wishlist.


April 13, 10:08 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Please Pass The Pudding

Oh, how I love Athenae:

"Gay marriage" being legal doesn't marginalize "religion," just some flavors of some faiths, not all of which have made up their doctrinal minds on the subject. 

Marginalizing cetain ostentatious displays of faux Christianity isn't marginalizing "religion," either, unless you define religion down to the six things your sanctimonious sister-in-law is pissed about this week. Taking a bunch of fake issues that have fuck-all to do with the actual practice of religion in this country and using incorrect assumptions about them to agree with the general wingnut position that Christianity is somehow under siege, is ... reductive, at best. 

Read the rest of her delicious punch down on Kevin Mushy Middle Drum.


April 13, 6:36 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sweet Sacrifice

It's true, we're all a little insane.


April 13, 3:31 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Why Won't Obama Enforce Grazing Laws?

Revisiting those plucky ranchers and militiamen who never heard of the General Land Office, I see the Bureau of Land Management has backed off (probably wisely).  I look forward to Sen Grassley's condemnation of Obama for not clamping down on these scofflaws with greater force.


April 13, 12:59 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Naturally, The Rothschilds Must Be Involved

The Copernican Model is a Jewish conspiracy!

The new geocentrists believe scientists have conspired for centuries to undermine religious faith by promoting the heliocentric model of the universe proposed by Copernicus and famously championed by Galileo.

“Just as there are those on one extreme who incorrectly hold that science is antithetical to faith because they have a false or incomplete understanding of philosophy and/or religion, we have the geocentrists on the other extreme who reach the same incorrect conclusion, but because they have a false and/or incomplete understanding of science — and even their own faith,” Palm said. “For these geocentrists, their personal understanding of faith trumps all appeal to reason and physical evidence.”
The view has attracted a rogue’s gallery of crackpots who promote a stupefying variety of conspiracy theories – usually anti-Semitic – that casts doubt on the lunar landing, the Holocaust, and the official investigations into 9/11, the JFK assassination, and even the sinking of the Titanic.

One adherent blames the waning popularity of the King James Bible translation for rising sea levels, while others believe Jews control NASA — which Sungenis himself believes creates crop circles using lasers or plasma projectors.

“All NASA would have to do is put a digital pattern in a laser/plasma projector aboard a satellite and then shoot it down to earth, and presto, you have a crop circle,” Sungenis wrote. “It gets everybody talking about UFOs. But really, all they are doing is getting our minds off the Bible and Christ by making it look like neither are true.”

Well.  That's quite the anti-semitic, anti-science onion to peel.


April 13, 11:56 AM in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

Unlucky 13

Well, that can't be good...


April 13, 11:13 AM in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Pull The Other One, Jenny

She's anti-vax and anti-truth:

Jeffrey Kluger is a science writer for Time magazine. He interviewed [Jenny] McCarthy in 2009 about this issue, and she mentions that interview in her OpEd piece. Kluger disagrees vehemently with what she wrote in the OpEd, to say the very least.

I can see why. Here is what she writes in the OpEd:

“People have the misconception that we want to eliminate vaccines,” I told Time Magazine science editor Jeffrey Kluger in 2009. “Please understand that we are not an anti-vaccine group. We are demanding safe vaccines. We want to reduce the schedule and reduce the toxins.”

But Kluger points out that she left the last line out of that quotation. Here’s the whole thing:

People have the misconception that we want to eliminate vaccines. Please understand that we are not an antivaccine group. We are demanding safe vaccines. We want to reduce the schedule and reduce the toxins. If you ask a parent of an autistic child if they want the measles or the autism, we will stand in line for the f*cking measles.

Huh. That last line rather changes the changes the tone of her position considerably, wouldn’t you agree? That’s a difficult stance to square with someone who is not anti-vaccine. As Kluger points out, her entire premise is false; since vaccines don’t cause autism, no one has to make the choice between measles (and other preventable, dangerous diseases) and autism.

Kluger finishes with this:

Jenny, as outbreaks of measles, mumps and whooping cough continue to appear in the U.S.—most the result of parents refusing to vaccinate their children because of the scare stories passed around by anti-vaxxers like you—it’s just too late to play cute with the things you’ve said. You are either floridly, loudly, uninformedly antivaccine or you are the most grievously misunderstood celebrity of the modern era. Science almost always prefers the simple answer, because that’s the one that’s usually correct. Your quote trail is far too long—and you have been far too wrong—for the truth not to be obvious.

He’s right. She has gone on and on and on and on and on and on about it. She can claim all she wants that she’s not anti-vax, but her own words show her to be wrong.

I like Plait's line earlier in his piece about injecting botulin and her saying anything with a straight face.  I wish we could put her toxic face and fake boobs in jail for endangering public health.


April 13, 9:40 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Oh, This Is Rich


Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) attacked President Barack Obama on Friday night over his support of same-sex marriage. Mediaite reported that Huckabee was appearing on “The O’Reilly Factor” with substitute host Laura Ingraham when he made disparaging remarks about the president’s Christian faith.

In 2008, said Huckabee, Obama stated that his Christian faith kept him from wholeheartedly endorsing same-sex marriage. Then in 2012, he reversed that decision, which Huckabee sees as a desertion of Obama’s “Christian principles.”

“Does he have them or does he not?” the pastor-turned-Fox-News-host demanded to know.

Does anybody who votes for the Paul Ryan budget have them or does he not?  Turns out, some people disagree about stuff in the Bible.


April 13, 9:02 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

By God, the old man could handle a spade


The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I’ve no spade to follow men like them.
Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I’ll dig with it.

Seamus Heaney.


April 13, 7:49 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, 04/12/2014


A rocket would've been nice today.


April 12, 10:16 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Colours, Even, Accord With The Tenor Of The Day

Against Travel:

These days are best when one goes nowhere,
The house a reservoir of quiet change,
The creak of furniture, the window panes
Brushed by the half-rhymes of activities
That do not quite declare what thing it was
Gave rise to them outside. 

Charles Tomlinson.


April 12, 6:15 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, 04/11/2014

Erbarme dich, Mein Gott, um meiner Zähren willen!

Have mercy Lord, My God, because of my weeping!


April 11, 11:06 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Which Chamber Do You Serve, Mr Cruz?

I really do love this guy:

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) says Attorney General Eric Holder should be impeached because the Justice Department has failed to fully investigate the IRS scandal.

"Among other things, Congress should impeach Eric Holder because Eric Holder is defying Congress and defying rule of law," Cruz said on conservative host Sean Hannity's radio show on Thursday. 

Besides the fact that there's no there there with the IRS "scandal", it's amusing on a couple levels that a US Senator would suggest that "Congress" should impeach Holder.


April 11, 10:38 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Imagine There Was No Louisiana Purchase

Ah, so some "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" rancher now has armed militias defending him from paying grazing fees.  These strict constructionists claim the Constitution doesn't allow the Federal gummint to own lands.  It's fairly clear they are in error.  

What they're rally saying, of course, is that there is no United States beyond the 13 original colonies.  Because otherwise the nation would never have been able to acquire land to then dispose of in the form of territories and states.

Anyway, have fun stormin' da castle!


April 11, 9:14 PM in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

House Needs New Roof, Let's Burn It Down

Don't make eye contact and move away slowly:

Fox News gave Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) the opportunity Friday to say that he would use the confirmation of the next Health and Human Services Secretary as an instrument in his quixotic quest to repeal Obamacare.
"I think Burwell presents an ideal opportunity to examine the failures that are Obamacare. And four years ago, reasonable minds could have differed over whether this thing might work," Cruz said. "Today, seeing the disaster, seeing the trainwreck that is Obamacare, in my view, it is the essence of pragmatism to acknowledge this thing isn't working. We need to start over, repeal every word of it. Start over."

Why stop there?  Let's call for a convention and get rid of the Constitution, or at least the Senate.


April 11, 5:59 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)