Hodge-podge post coming up...
Cavalcade of bright minds
3 Quarks Daily has a neat line-up of snapshots of everyone in their blog, with a Monday Musing selection picked for each. I wish they had a better way to pick each of their best so that only the ones that I liked personally would appear. Sigh. Abbas Raza is all too modest. His most gripping Monday Musing is one I will not forget
After a year's hiatus The Dissident Frogman resolves to resume blogging. Something in me gets great satisfaction when I read takedowns of what passes for authority, even if the takedown comes from the right and is aimed at the left. Get a load of this:
To love Jesus, just because that - and a valid NRA membership - is a winner when one's little joy in life is to upset post-modern French deconstructivist drones and the mindless legions following Mr. 'M', Prophet by trade and Pedophile by taste.Plus Jesus is really cool, and really big on free will - unlike a certain self-proclaimed prophet and revealed pedophile, and the deconstructed drones.
Progressive thought is down but not out
Lean Left has an essay that struggles manfully with some of the contradictions in thinking that continue to plague the cause. If "the cause" is redress for inequity and maltreatment of those at the bottom of all measurable ladders -- which it is -- then the challenge grows larger as prosperity seems to wash over the whole world.
...It is commonplace for conservatives to argue that there really isn’t any actual poverty in the US, because almost all “poor” families own a color TV and many own a car. I don’t know what line of reasoning leads to this conclusion (when has poverty been defined in terms of color TVs?); it seems to be based on a stereotype of what poverty is like (color TVs used to be expensive and owning one was a luxury; poor people can’t afford luxuries, so anyone who owns a color TV isn’t poor), with the conclusion that if actual poor people’s lives don’t match the stereotype, they can’t be poor. (Color TVs, and even cars, are no longer that expensive, especially if you get them second-or-third-hand, and anyway it’s easy for a family to afford a few one-time purchases of expensive items when they have the cash, then still own those items years later when the family is struggling to get by. Real poverty has to do with lacking the means to meet the necessities of life, with constant grinding to survive - which can very easily be the case even for someone who owns an honest-to-goodness color TV.) [How do you spell H-e-a-t-i-n-g B-i-l-l-s this winter?]
There is a lot of psychological research to suggest that people’s subjective happiness levels are really set by comparisons between themselves and their neighbors, rather than by objective standards of well-being - which is embarrassing and unfortunate for many theories of economics and human welfare. But, mere jealousy or resentment aside, the issue of equity and privilege is of great importance.
People’s lives today are better than they were centuries ago because of the material progress that has been made, largely as a result of industrialization and the technology revolution. But their lives are also subject to inequities that did not exist, and in some cases were impossible, previously.
Today, those with what would previously have been inevitably fatal heart disease can get literally a whole new life with a heart transplant. That is an amazing advance over barely 50 years ago. But you cannot get one if you are one of the 15 million or so Americans who have no health insurance at all, or the tens of millions more whose insurance is inadequate. So today, the “medically indigent” are in essentially the same position as 100 years ago - a bad heart means an early death - while still enjoying many of the less-expensive benefits of medical science (vaccinations, antibiotics, etc.).
Arguably, they are no worse off than before, and in many ways better off. But they face an inequity that never before existed: others around them can get a new heart, while they cannot. In inventing heart transplants (it was actually a South African surgeon who did so), but putting them in a capitalistic healthcare system, we have given “the miracle of life” to the privileged few who can, directly or indirectly, pay for them, while holding them visibly out of reach of many who cannot, and who die each year in that knowledge.
It’s hard to argue they are not harmed by that, or that any resentment they may feel is unjustified or just selfish whining. Looking at that from the opposite perspective, we have created a system in which the most affluent and most-privileged get to live while watching the less-well-off die around them - and doing so while having the power to create a more-equitable system (that would give them less privilege) and refusing to do so. In healthcare, housing, education, childcare, job training - virtually every aspect of life that touches on and influences people’s well-being - we have created a system that is the equivalent of locking the steerage-class passengers out of the Titanic’s lifeboats.
As for me, I plan to continue chipping away at whatever inequities and contradictions I come across. Having nothing more than a keyboard and a fading mind, I take it as my duty to do all in my power to inch forward the Great Commision and the Golden Rule. Logic and theology aside I find the most compelling argument for the existence of God and Jesus as his Son to be His command (at least, I don't think it was an option) that we love our enemies. Such an idea could never have originated in the mind of man. It must have come from God. And hardly a week passes that I do not experience anew some sure evidence of His power. There is a saying that for the believer, no evidence is needed, and for the non-believer, all the evidence in the world will never be enough.
Now he tells us...
Seems like the practice of letting terrorist suspects be held prisoner in other countries (rendition they call it) was started during the Clinton administration.
Well why didn't you say so, boss? That makes it all better.
Love this line: In Cairo, people are not treated like they are in Milwaukee.
Later, December 31...
Eerie! I picked up on that last line to be cute, but within hours we get this report...
At least 20 Sudanese refugees and asylum-seekers, including three children, have been killed and dozens injured after authorities cleared a protest camp in the Egyptian capital, Cairo..According to Sudanese witnesses, up to 4,500 central security police surrounded the small park late on Thursday night. After negotiations failed, the police turned water cannons on to the men, woman and children who had been living in squalid conditions inside in the camp since September.
.Shortly before dawn, police used tear gas before charging the camp, destroying tents and beating the protesters in an attack which lasted half an hour..The refugees lived crammed together with no clean water and no lavatory facilities. By night they huddled under plastic sheeting, with suitcases marking their family groupings..As the Egyptians began to clear up the park, Mr Eddin said: "I am very, very afraid. I have nowhere to stay. I am afraid of what will happen to us now."
.However, there was no sympathy from local residents. "They've all got Aids, they're filthy, they stink," Samir Mohammed said. "They should go back where they came from."
God, save us. Forgive us. Show us the way.