Wednesday, December 28, 2011

More signs the times they are a changin'

Twenty years ago, I tried to get a piece making a similar argument published in 'The Crisis' the 'house organ' of the NAACP.  It was roundly rejected.  It does my heart good to see more and more black people who are not gay coming forward and telling the community, particularly the black church which is the undeniable well-spring of anti-gay sentiment in the black community, that they are on the wrong side of history. 

Monique Ruffin: It's Official: Gay Is the New Black

Gay is the new black. And some Christian blacks must be willing to look into their hearts and find the seeds of fear that would have them deny the humanity of another in the name of God (just the way it was done to them not that long ago). Let's ask ourselves: do we fear gays or fear being gay? Why must gay leaders in our churches and communities serve clandestinely? Consider what the power of love and acceptance might offer if we are willing to stand courageously with gays as we stood for ourselves decades ago. Our freedom will not truly be granted until we can pass it forward. Gay is the new black, sadly, because many blacks haven't been willing to embrace their own practices, secrets, fear, and shame about homosexuality. Many blacks have not been able to reconcile their real-life experience with their faith, and until they do this, they are oppressed people who are also practicing the oppression of others.

The Mark of the Barbarian

(in ancient times) a member of a community or tribe not belonging to one of the great civilizations (Greek, Roman, Christian).
• an uncultured or brutish person.
of or relating to ancient barbarians: barbarian invasions | barbarian peoples.
• uncultured; brutish.

We live in a time and place that puts high value on emotion, and that views emotions as self-validating. To feel something is thought by many to be sufficient evidence of its truthfulness, or at least its authenticity. This is a mark of the barbarian. I understand why post-Sixties liberals make the mistake of believing that nonsense. But conservatives?
This is another one of those “scary-to-write” posts because what I am going to say so breaks with standard Left orthodoxy that it feels as if I am writing religious heresy. The above quote is taken from a post at Frum Forum written by a conservative about older conservatives (Fox Geezers) who get all their news from FOX News. My concern in this post is not with the Right-leaning people who think that it is sufficient that they feel that the HCR law leads to ‘death panels’ or that Obama is a Marxist Islamist. My concern here is with the Left-leaning people, my own political tribe, that think it is sufficient to ‘feel’ something in order for it to be ‘true’ or ‘authentic’. The barbarian I speak of is in the second sense of the uncultured or brutish person.

The examples I have are too numerous to count. It is such a commonplace on the Left that whenever two or three of us are gathered together, it is a near certainty that someone will make a statement of the ‘George W. Bush was worse than Hitler’ species. If challenged, that person will then claim that “well, that’s true for me” as if that makes a difference. “That’s true for me” is just another way of saying “I felt it, that settles it.” The Left, generally, and the Queer-Left specifically has a disturbing tolerance for these kinds of statements. What’s more there is a colossal blind spot that people willfully ignore even though it causes all manner of problems. If your feelings are accurate barometers to what is going on in the real world then by what logic are my feelings not an accurate barometer?

In other words, if one leans left and believes that, for instance, the Republican party has active plans for the elimination of queer people in America and you believe that the mere fact that you feel it means it must be true how can you turn around and argue that the FOX News watcher who believes that Barack Obama wants to enslave white people is wrong? They aren’t working off of a basis having any more foundation than your belief.

I have had this conversation so many times in online lesbian circles that I have now had to leave two online lesbian communities because of it. The first time was when someone insisted that there were clauses in the 2009 stimulus package that were demonstrably not there. This woman kept posting ‘as if’ those statements were there and when I pointed out to her that they weren’t and that she was clearly lying about it, I was told by a moderator that we had to be ‘tolerant of diverse opinions’. Except she wasn’t expressing an opinion, she was making a statement of fact. Either the stimulus package had language about reparations for slavery or it didn’t (for the record it didn’t) but this woman kept insisting that it did, along with language about a train from Disney to Vegas. On another board, there was a discussion about whether quantum mechanics explained telepathy and telekinesis (it doesn’t) and when I pointed out to my interlocutor that the brain is too large and too hot for quantum effects to be observed, they kept insisting that in their quantum mechanics it did. On that same board, I did a post on how humanity has become less violent over time. As an example, I offered up the fact that slavery is no longer legal in most of the world and is certainly illegal everywhere in the West. Someone then responded to say that slavery still happened in the United States and the rest of the world. Now, it is important to note that I was talking about the legality of slavery and its being socially acceptable. This person was using the (cough) logic (cough) that if slavery happens anywhere then it might as well be legal everywhere. Their response was about emotionalism. They want, perhaps even need, to be able to see America as a nation that is singular in its malevolence and so the idea that things might have improved in America was anathema to them.

There was a time in the West that we thought that self-control and particularly control of our emotions was a virtue. Now, we believe pretty much the opposite. To practice self-control and control of the emotions is seen as inauthentic and is, perhaps, even a vice. At least it is a vice when it is oneself who is expected to show some self-discipline. On the other hand we still like it when others show self-control since it makes them easier to deal with. I have a sign “keep calm and carry on” on the wall outside my office at home. Can you imagine people giving that advice in contemporary Left-leaning circles in America? I can’t.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Ben Nelson Retiring Ahead Of 2012 Election

Someone will miss Nelson, I’m sure but I don’t know who that Democrat is but I’m sure he’ll be missed by someone. I wonder if he’s measured the drapes for his lobbying office on K street yet.

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) is expected to announce that he will not run for reelection in the 2012 election cycle, Politico reported Tuesday. Nelson is currently in the middle of his second term. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2000.

Ben Nelson Retiring Ahead Of 2012 Election

Egads I'm such a geek!

My lovely wife got me a Bag of Holding for Xmas! If you ever played ‘books and dice’ Dungeons and Dragons you know what these wonderful items were. A bag that is larger on the inside than it is on the outside! Egads I’m such a geek!


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The times they have changed

This made my day! Oh and welcome home sailor!


Petty Officer 2nd Class Marissa Gaeta and Petty Officer 3rd Class Citlalic Snell share the first kiss after the USS Oak Hill returned home.
[Photo credit: Brian J. Clark/Associated Press]

At least Newt is being honest

You've got to admire Newt for his honesty.  He doesn't want our vote and is explicit in saying so.  It's still insanely stupid but it's honest stupidity.  Would that the GOP, as a whole, adopt this level of honesty and just tell the voters they don't want voting for them that they can vote for the other side.  It would save the GOP a lot of pain gotten from contorting themselves to try to appeal to blacks while using racially charged and dog-whistle politics.  It would save them the trouble of turning themselves into four dimensional toruses trying to court the Latino vote while simultaneously trying to scare the bejeezus out of the base at the thought of hordes of Mexicans coming over the border.  And then there's Arab and Muslim Americans who it is manifestly obvious the GOP does not want their vote.  They could at least be polite enough to tell Arab and Muslim Americans to just piss off.  

Newt To Gay Voter: Support Obama | TPM2012

If you’re a gay American, don’t vote for Newt Gingrich. That’s not a Democratic talking point — that’s reportedly what Newt himself said to a gay man in Iowa Tuesday.

Put a fork in it, Boehner is done

When the WSJ abandons you and you're a GOP politician, you're done.  The Journal has abandoned Boehner, calling him out by name.  David Frum, over at Frum Forum, makes another interesting observation that the Journal is responsible for the GOP being in this position because they taught them that this is what they are supposed to believe as good conservatives.  At some point, the GOP is going to have to decide that governing is more important to the nation than campaigning.  It's clear, though, that they aren't there yet. 


Another GOP Domino Falls In Payroll Fight After WSJ Cries Uncle | TPMDC

“Both Republicans and Democrats have agreed that this is going to happen and probably the best thing to happen now is just to get it over with — one more policy blunder— but just get it over with and move on because now it’s been framed as a tax increase which it’s not,” he said. “I know what’s going to happen and I agree with the editorial this morning in the Wall Street Journal,” Corker went on. “Probably the best thing to do at this point is just get this behind us and move on and hopefully figure out a way to deal with the real issues that our country needs to deal with.”

How Dare The WSJ Blame The House GOP? | FrumForum

The Journal also of course as always favors tax cuts too. But not this one. The payroll tax holiday is the rare example of a tax cut the Journal strongly dislikes. In today’s editorial, the Journal suggests that its dislike is based on the holiday’s temporary nature. Yet the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 were temporary too, and that time limit did not disqualify them in the Journal’s eyes.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Huffing-woo Post goes all in with the 2012 Mayan flapdoodle

So to answer the question of whether 21 Dec 2012 will be the end of the world; in a word, no.  Do I know exactly what is going to happen on 21 Dec 2012?  No, but I'll hazard a guess:

The Sun is going to rise in the East and set in the West.  People are going to be born and others are going die. The American news media will be patting themselves on the back and/or flaggelating themselves because of their horrible coverage of the 2012 elections.  Dogs will be walked.  Cats will clean themselves.  The kids will be alright.  

The thing I'm waiting for is 22 Dec when we will be treated to a lot of talk about 'a spiritual change' or 'spiritual evolution' that will have taken place. You can already see the shift if you are in an environment where the woo is thick on the ground.  Two years ago, people were wondering if the 'polar shift' was going to happen (there were people who *genuinely* believed that the Earth was going to turn 'upside down' so that the continents in the Southern hemisphere would suddenly be in the Northern hemisphere!) or if there was going to be this or that cosmic calamity.  As each potential calamity was thoroughly debunked, goal posts got moved until the 'end of the world' became 'there will be a spiritual evolution' or 'the beginning of a new spiritual vibration'. Now the really neat things about spiritual 'vibrations' and 'evolution' is that the evidence for them is anything you want them to be. So it's very convenient.  But somehow, when people are trying to sell their books or whatever other woo flapdoodle is going to separate the gullible from their money they aren't talking about spiritual evolution but real, actual, 70s-style disaster movie events.  But those can be verified and so aren't nearly as escapable.  

Dec. 21, 2012: Will End Of Mayan Calendar Bring Doomsday? (VIDEO)

No one knows exactly what will happen on Dec. 21, 2012 -- the day that the Mayan calendar runs out -- but it's safe to say there will be a lot of hype regarding what might happen.

Newt as GOParasite

It is one of the true delights of a bizarrely entertaining Republican presidential contest to watch the apoplectic fear and loathing of so many GOP establishmentarians toward Newt Gingrich. They treat him as an alien body whose approach to politics they have always rejected.

Friday, December 16, 2011

This is either the laziest or the dumbest person on the planet

Okay this is a truly majestic level of either laziness or stupidity. An end-user opens a ticket saying that he is unable to download from our web site. We have a tool that allows us to impersonate users so I logged in as him, thinking that perhaps he had not registered his product. That wasn’t the case. The way our downloads page works is this: you select what software you are interested in and then the page refreshes with links for the operating system you are using. So if you are on Windows you would click that, if you are using Linux or Solaris you would click those. Pretty simple, right? Not for this guy. He sees the page below and doesn’t even bother clicking the Windows link, he opens a ticket because he believes he cannot download the software.

What kind of thinking process would someone have to have, someone who works in information technology (we do not sell commercial software, if you are using our stuff you are in IT) to not even think to click the Windows link and see if he can download the software from there. Like I said, he’s either the laziest or the dumbest person on the planet.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I got on The Daily Dish!!!

I had responded to a post on The Daily Dish and Andrew Sullivan put it on the blog in full!
A reader writes:
I appreciate the comparison you highlighted between the gay vet who confronted Mitt Romney and the black veterans in history observed by Ta-Nehisi.  I am a former soldier, having served in the US Army from 1985 until 1989 before being discharged after a witch hunt.  My sister is a retired soldier and my son is currently serving.  We have a tradition of military service going back to at least the Second World War.  It is my father, who fought with the storied 761st Tank Battalion (the Black Panthers) and his generation for black soldiers and airmen that I want to talk about briefly.  
On my mother’s side, there were three Tuskegee Airmen.
My father, as I said, was a tanker.  Before WWII, both my father and my uncles had lived every day of their lives in either Louisiana or Alabama, respectively.  My father joined the Army the week following the attack on Pearl Harbor because the Army would let him fight as either infantry or a tanker but the Navy would have had him shining shoes or being a cook.  My father wanted to fight.  
He spent four years in the Army, was decorated with the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star.  When he came home at the end of the war, he went to college where he met my mother, who had spent the war building airplanes as a ‘Rosie’.  Because my father served, he and my uncles got the GI Bill that allowed them to go to college.  World War II made my father who he was.  
My parents stayed in Alabama, where I was born, until 1968 when they moved us to California.  The 1968 election was the first time my father ever cast a vote in the nation he had fought and bled for. When I joined the Army my father was very opposed to it - partially because my sister had joined four years earlier, partly because of his memories of serving in a segregated military.  To convince him that my reasons were good, I told him that it takes a special kind of man to go and fight for a country that does not consider him enough of a human being to go to school where he wishes, to vote in elections, to live where he can afford and to work in any job he is qualified for.  That generation of black men who signed up and served knowing that they would return home and not be able to vote were very special men.  
When I think of the generations of gays and lesbians who served in our military, I think that whether the likes of Romney (or a non-trivial swath of the GOP for that matter) realize it or not, they are in the debt of these folks and are in the presence of the very best of America.  
I am not trying to blow my own horn.  This is not about my service.  I went in because I felt that I had grown up in a nation that did consider me an actual citizen and if my father could put on the uniform when he was, at best, a second-class citizen I could do no less.  I just want us, as Americans, to acknowledge that gays and lesbians have served and continue to do so and that these are the very best of our nation.  They get up and they do their duty knowing that the man or woman they love back home is not considered their actual, wedded spouse and yet they do it anyway.  We should honor them as the exceptional Americans they are.
As a quick aside, I also want the gay community to get off their Left-leaning, anti-American high horse and recognize that our queer vets are the very best of us and give them our full support and thanks for their service.

Why do people have such trouble with error messages

So a colleague of mine took a call from a user who got a “cannot open file located in <path>” error. This person asked “what could it mean”. This begs the question of why this person didn’t immediately just go to the path and see if the file existed. I just responded to someone who got an error “cannot create project in directory <path> because a project already exists in that location”. Once again, the user asked “what could that mean”. Now, given that the error messages actually tells you “here’s where the problem lies” why on Earth would someone not just go and put eyes on the issue? What is it about error messages that computer professionals have trouble with “look, go here, the problem exists at this location”?

MacJournal 6.0!!!

Since I bought my Mac in 2008, MacJournal from Mariner Software has been one of my staple apps. I just noticed in my RSS feed of MacUpdate that MacJournal 6.0 has finally been released. This is my first entry with the new version and even though it’s been a long wait for it to come out (I paid my $15 for my upgrade back in late September) it has been well worth the wait! The timeline function alone is fantastic as it allows me to see how active (or not) I’ve been with my journaling and blogging. I can now set word count goals for my writing week. I’m only just beginning to scratch the surface of all of the new features in this release.

If I Were A Middle Class White Guy

Now, I'm not a middle class white guy, I'm a middle class black woman who grew up upper-middle class (and needless to say black) but sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. So since Gene Marks, the Forbes columnist, feels qualified to tell poor black kids what they should do I think it only fair to tell middle class white guys what they should do.  

So if I were a middle class white guy, I would start early, certainly no later than my junior year of high school, reading deeply in American history.  I would go much deeper than the history that I was taught in high school paying particular attention to how American history looks from the point of view of blacks and Native Americans.  I would read some slave narratives and then work my way up through DuBois and Washington.  I would spend a great deal of time reading the speeches of Martin Luther King Jr.  I would watch Glory until I had it memorized and The Color Purple and The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman until I had no more tears to shed.   I would ask more questions than I made statements when talking about race so I didn't come off as an entitled jerk who was blind to the realities that others face.

I would take some time studying, in depth, the exploits of the black men who fought in WW II.  I would seek out Invisible Man and Native Son.  I would buy a seat for an entire run of "A Raisin in the Sun".  I would try to familiarize myself with what blacks have said about life in America so that I might have some idea what I was on about.  When I heard a black person talking about racism, I wouldn't dismiss them out of hand or assume that the black person in question was making it up or 'whining'.  I would have a sense of historical perspective, recognizing that 1967 isn't a time what no living human can remember but recent history as these things are measured in most countries. I would recognize that I have a perspective and that while it is the dominant perspective in America, it isn't necessarily the most accurate perspective.  

I would avoid assuming that poor people are poor because of some fault of their own.  If I were a middle class white guy, I would recognize the role that luck and random circumstance played in my own life.  I'm not saying that white people who 'make it' or (if they were born with it) 'keep it' don't deserve what level of comfort they have.  But luck plays a role and I would never forget it.  I would train my brain to think outside of my own context. I would avoid using phrases like 'my black friend' or 'why don't blacks just...'

No sane person thinks that being white is a trip down the primrose path in America.  White people have to get up and go to work just like everyone else.  Whties get laid off, have car accidents, get divorced, have dogs that chew up their remote controls and teenage kids who listen to music their parents don't like or get.  Life happens to white people too, just like it happens to everyone.   But if I were a middle class white guy, I would try to remember the things that don't happen to me because I'm a middle class white guy.  I would, for instance, remember that because I'm white and male, my intellect or competence will be decided after I open my mouth or act instead of having it dismissed before I do either as happens to, for instance, black women.  If I were a straight, middle class white guy, I would recognize that I can marry the person I love and that it was injust that my gay neighbor or lesbian sister can't and that this was an injustice crying out for rectification.  

If I were a middle class white guy, i would stand up and shout everytime I heard another white guy say that blacks just need to 'develop a habit of work'.  I would put as much daylight between myself and the likes of Newt Gingrich as I possible could.  

If i were a middle class white guy the very last thing I would think of myself was that I was in any kind of position to tell poor black kids what it was they should be doing in order for me to think that they 'deserve' success. If I were a middle class white guy, I would do everything in my power from being the kind of middle class white guy who writes articles in Forbes telling blacks what's wrong with them.


If I Were A Poor Black Kid - Forbes

I am not a poor black kid.  I am a middle aged white guy who comes from a middle class white background.  So life was easier for me.  But that doesn’t mean that the prospects are impossible for those kids from the inner city.  It doesn’t mean that there are no opportunities for them.   Or that the 1% control the world and the rest of us have to fight over the scraps left behind.  I don’t believe that.  I believe that everyone in this country has a chance to succeed.  Still.  In 2011.  Even a poor black kid in West Philadelphia.

Destroy a company, lose a nomination?

This could be interesting and, quite honestly, I would love to see Mittens have to pay a price for destroying jobs--because despite the rather typical Republican denials that we have to destroy jobs in order to keep them--when you destroy a company in Anywhere, USA and move the jobs to Someplace Else, Indonesia you haven't really created jobs in America!  

Republicans Warn Bain Capital Could Cripple Romney’s Campaign | TPM2012

Mitt Romney’s career at Bain Capital buying up and restructuring companies — sometimes with major job cuts along the way — has been a glaring vulnerability since his earliest political runs. But it’s rarely come up in his two presidential campaigns, where the GOP’s investor-friendly ethos has made rivals hesitant to use it against him. Until now, that is. Newt Gingrich got the toughest shot in on Monday, suggesting that Romney’s time at Bain showed he was heartless and out of touch with the average American. “I would just say that if Gov. Romney would like to give back all of the money he’s earned from bankrupting companies and laying off employees over his years at Bain, that I would be glad to listen to him,” Gingrich told reporters. Jon Huntsman’s been hinting at Romney’s investment capital years as well, albeit more subtly, making extensive use of a now infamous photo of Bain-era Romney awash in dollar bills in his new website and an accompanying web video (This is the same Huntsman whose father is a billionaire). Why is the issue coming up all of a sudden? Despite the Tea Party’s anti-bailout streak, it isn’t because Republicans have suddenly decided they hate investors — Gingrich, for example, got pilloried in the conservative press as anti-capitalist over his “layoffs” line and conspicuously rededicated himself to a “positive” campaign the very next day. The real subtext is electability. President Obama has made it absolutely clear that this race is going to about the 99% vs. the 1% on taxes, entitlements, and regulation. Sure we think Bain Capital is a paragon of free market values, Romney’s Republican critics argue, but what about those swing voters who are all too easily swayed the first time they see an ad featuring workers Romney laid off?

Whites and Blacks have a different view of race in America? Say it ain't so!

This article definitely falls into the ‘this should come as no big surprise’ category. Saw this over at ‘The Nation’ and, of course, my first thought was ‘and in other news ice has been determined to be cold’. No one should be the least bit surprised that whites think that more racial progress has been made than blacks, on average. As the author, Jamelle Bouie rightly notes, given that a white person could go through their entire life and have no real substantial contact with blacks depending upon their location, it would be rather astonishing if whites and blacks did not, on average, hold wildly different views.
One of my favorite demographic tidbits is the fact that there are roughly six white Americans for every person labeled as “black” in the census. Which means, given the extent to which African-Americans are concentrated in a few geographic regions, that there are large numbers of white people who have minimal to nonexistent contact with black people.
With that in mind, it’s not too surprising to discover the extent to which white Americans have a far more optimistic view of race relations than their black (and even Latino) fellow citizens. According to the latest survey by the Greenlining Institute—“a national…institute working for racial and economic justice”—just 16 percent of whites believe that there is a lot of discrimination in America today, compared to 59 percent of African-Americans and 22 percent of Latinos.
Overall, the institute found, whites have an incredibly skewed view of racial progress in this country. Despite the fact that African-Americans and Latinos earn significantly less money and have less wealth than their white counterparts, only 37 percent of whites believe that blacks make less money than whites, and a small majority believe that blacks’ and whites’ incomes are about the same. Likewise, a majority of white Americans believe that blacks’ health is “about the same” as their own, despite all evidence to the contrary.
The one problem I have with Mr. Bouie’s post, and it is a very small quibble, is this:
In addition to the relative lack of contact between whites and blacks, it’s simply true that elite blacks have achieved an unprecedented level of influence in American life (see: President Obama). Absent contact with everyday black communities, it’s easy to think that African-Americans are doing as well as everyone else.
As a middle-class black person, I do have some problem with the construction of blacks in America either being ‘everyday’ (read poor) or elite (read rich). Are not blacks who have middle class careers and lifestyles also ‘everyday blacks’? Aren’t all of those black college professors, ministers, lawyers, doctors and various cubicle drones also ‘everyday’ and are we not part of ‘everyday black communities’? I understand why black identity has been equated, for the last four decades at least, with poor, urban blacks but I remain unconvinced that this should be the touchstone of black identity. All of that said, Bouie does go on to say that our perception of race in America is not necessarily correct but perhaps more accurate.
It would be interesting to know why so few Latinos (only 22%, less than 10% more than whites) think that there is a lot of active discrimination in modern America. It makes me ponder whether somewhere between the overly optimistic view of whites and the potentially overly pessimistic view of blacks there is an accurate picture of race relations held by Latinos. That view would be ‘yes, there is still racial discrimination but, on the whole, it is not your grandparent’s discrimination

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Narrowing down the Higgs boson

Well done Mittens!  Realistically, though, it's just a coincidence.  That doesn't mean he shouldnt' get a ribbing for it though!  :)

Mitt Romney's Slogan Used By Ku Klux Klan, Anti-Immigrant 'Know Nothing' Party

It's the type of coincidence every politician dreads. On Tuesday, political commenters reported that one of Romney's go-to campaign catch-phrases, "Keep America American," was a central theme of Ku Klux Klan publications in the 1920s, and served as a rallying cry for the white supremacist group's campaign of violence and intimidation against black Americans, as well as Catholics, gay people and Jews. The progressive Americablog first posted examples of the overlap, and a spokeswoman for Mitt Romney declined to comment on the matter when reached by HuffPost. The Republican primary debates have ignited issues of immigration and poverty in this country, both of which disproportionally affect minorities. But Romney, a multi-millionaire, has steered away from some of the more drastic positions his rival candidates have taken on these issues.

Trying a more disciplined approach to blogging

So for the half-dozen of you who follow my blog, you might have noticed that I've been a very busy girl today.  That's because I'm trying to take the blog in a slightly different direction although I'm not certain what that direction is quite yet.  One thing I'm trying to do, however, is blog more often. I've got great tools but get lazy about doing the writing. I'm hoping that this will actually keep me writing which I hope will make me more productive as a writer.

Narrowing down the Higgs boson

CERN has announced that they have 'intriguing hints' that the Higgs boson exists.  
Higgs Boson Search: CERN Releases New Data Said To Narrow Hunt For 'God Particle'
Scientists hunting for an elusive subatomic particle say they've found "intriguing hints" – but not definitive proof – that it exists, narrowing down the search for what is believed to be a basic component of the universe. The researchers added that they hope to reach a conclusion on whether the particle exists by next year. The latest data show that the mass of the Higgs boson – popularly referred to as the "God particle" – probably falls in the lower end of the spectrum of mass that can be produced by smashing protons together in the huge Large Hadron Collider, researchers from two independent teams said Tuesday. The two teams said their data indicates the particle itself may have a mass of between roughly 114 and 130 billion electron volts. One billion electron volts is roughly the mass of a proton. The most likely mass of the Higgs boson is around 124 to 126 billion electron volts, the teams said. Until Tuesday, the most likely mass was seen as between 114 and 141 billion electron volts. There is still a small possibility that the Higgs could be much more massive and found above 476 billion electron volts, physicists said. The revelations Tuesday were heavily anticipated by thousands of researchers who hope that the particle, if it exists, can help explain why there is mass in the universe. British physicist Peter Higgs and others theorized the particle's existence more than 40 years ago to explain why fundamental particles – building blocks of the universe – have mass.

Things getting worse before they get better

Andrew Sullivan over at Daily Dish has this to say about the problems of the GOP.  Like him, my fondest hope for 2012 is that the Republicans lose so badly that they have no choice but to reform themselves.  I think that it would be the best thing for both the Republican party and the United States.  

But in many ways, this is all a simple result of the intellectual and ideological collapse of the Republican party. All they have, it seems, are some visceral reactions to social change - Latino immigrants, gay spouses, tolerant Millennials - and an argument that remains unchanged for thirty years, regardless of a hugely changed world. So we have a Cold War mentality without the Soviet Union - and a crazy endorsement of pre-emptive war and torture as core elements of American exceptionalism! We have a myth of massive new regulations by the Obama administration. We have more tax cuts, as if Reagan's supply side policies have been vindicated in the long term. And we have more tax cuts, while revenue is at 50 year lows. Or we have truly utopian ideas like abolishing the Fed, bringing back child labor, and fracking our way out of climate change. The whole caboose is a sign of a party that has long since unmoored itself from the country it exists in. If one of the GOP's problems is that it has lost the last two generations, nominating a 68 year-old curmudgeon who told OWS to get a job and take a bath is not likely to help. Newt's still a boomer, with all that boomer baggage. But here's what he'd do. He'd clarify dramatically the options in front of us. In refusing any tax hikes on the wealthy, and pledging to end Medicare as we have known it, and proposing a pre-emptive war on Iran as Israel's proxy, he'd help put the real GOP agenda on the table. To have that destroyed by Obama, and to have him handily re-elected would reform that party in a way nothing else would. I always said it would get worse before it gets better. The hope now is that it will get much, much worse, and thereafter much, much better. But it's just a hope, not a prediction. Only a fool would predict anything at this point.

Monday, December 12, 2011

How long will we continue in the same pit?

Ian Flether has a fairly devastating critique of the American Left and our utter fecklessness on economic issues. Full article here but the part I wanted to highlight is below in yellow.
This points to the second problem with the contemporary American left: it has exchanged equality as its primary goal for diversity. Now one can argue this either way, and I don't do culture-war issues, but the hard fact is that one can't prefer diversity to equality and expect equality to be the outcome. They are simply not the same thing. One can claim to be in favor of both, but strategic choices have to be made, and either one or the other must come out on top.
The real problem with diversity, from a leftist point of view, is not that it's a bad thing per se. The real problem is that diversity intrinsically tends to reduce human solidarity. Solidarity is the emotion people feel towards others that makes them care about the fate of people who would otherwise be strangers. It is thus an essential basis of any political tendency that would impose policies designed to reduce economic inequality. (It's no accident this is a word unions talk about all the time.)
Without solidarity, people don't hate each other. They just don't care. Not really, whatever they may say. Solidarity comes from having something in common with other people, and the less people have in common with each other, the more American society devolves to a model of pure individual self-interest. Which may be a leftist model in cultural or social questions, but it's a rightist model in economics.
I live in San Francisco, where there are an extraordinary number of people about who consider themselves liberal on economic issues. And so they are, when they write checks to liberal causes or participate in local political clubs and other organizations. But the other 29 days of the month or 5 days of the week, they go back to work downtown for the same corporate economy they claim to oppose on their days off. And they work hard to become rich, i.e. to acquire a nice juicy piece of inequality for themselves.
One can't blame a person for having a day job or for working for a living, but one also can't help wondering why they expect a certain economic outcome when they spend five days pushing one direction and only one pushing the other.
How long will the American Left continue to engage in identity politics at the cost of being effective? It seems at least a few more years.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

NYPD on Facebook: West Indian Day Parade Flap Is Overblown

John McWhorter has some interesting observations about race here
This week the big news on the Racism Watch is the New York City cops who have been discussing on Facebook black attendees of Brooklyn's West Indian American Day Parade in classically unsavory terms: "Animals." "Savages." "Drop a bomb and wipe them all out." And it would hardly be hasty to assume that terms even meaner than those were bandied about; we are only being told about snippets of a thread since erased from the site.
Typically, news like this is classified as evidence that racism in America is still "out there," and in ways more significant than what is acknowledged by those who claim it is on the wane. People like, yes, me.

What Republicans used to be

We grudge no man a fortune in civil life if it is honorably obtained and well used. It is not even enough that it should have been gained without doing damage to the community. We should permit it to be gained only so long as the gaining represents benefit to the community. This, I know, implies a policy of a far more active governmental interference with social and economic conditions in this country than we have yet had, but I think we have got to face the fact that such an increase in governmental control is now necessary.
No man should receive a dollar unless that dollar has been fairly earned. Every dollar received should represent a dollar’s worth of service rendered — not gambling in stocks, but service rendered. The really big fortune, the swollen fortune, by the mere fact of its size, acquires qualities which differentiate it in kind as well as in degree from what is possessed by men of relatively small means. Therefore, I believe in a graduated income tax on big fortunes, and in another tax which is far more easily collected and far more effective — a graduated inheritance tax on big fortunes, properly safeguarded against evasion, and increasing rapidly in amount with the size of the estate. (Teddy Roosevelt)