Monday, October 20, 2014

Seeing the light

On my birthday a couple weeks ago, I had dinner with a friend whose birthday is one day later, and she quizzed me about why I am not a Catholic any more. She is a Catholic, but let's say her outlook has evolved since her daughter turned out to be gay and got married and had kids.

In fact, I'd say she's evolved waaaay past what we Catholics (back when I was one) would have called a liberal Catholic. We don't agree on very much theologically, but we did agree that the recent Synod devoted to issues like divorce, gayness and stuff being held by a bunch of unmarried, straight (we presume) men only was "tone deaf."

I proposed that and she said, "That's a good word for it."

I haven't talked with her since the Synod broke up but I know she was disappointed that the bishops didn't show more kindness to divorced straight Catholics or married gay Catholics. But on the bright side, they at least talked about it. There are other religions that only lecture. And in that other United States too.

I don't think I have ever said so at RtO (although I have done so elsewhere) but it is only stating the obvious that the worst idea humans have ever had was universalizing salvationist monotheism.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Why do the rightwngers quiver?

It isn't a rhetorical question. They do. But why, I'd like to know? Examples:

* They are afraid to go into a pizza parlor without carrying an assault rifle.

And, no, don't give me that shinola about how libtards don't even know what's an assault rifle. If the M1 Garands carried by their grandfathers onto Omaha Beach were not assault rifles, then the words have no meaning.

* They are quivering with fear about the Ebola fever -- and before that about Guatemalans bringing in scabies over the Rio Grande.

Y'know, if your mother started babbling the way U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman does, you'd worry she'd had a stroke and put her in a hospital:

It’s just bizarre there’s not enough action up front and I’m wondering if that’s — I’m not saying this — but I’m wondering if that’s intentional in order to create a greater crisis to use it as a blunt force to say, well in order to solve this crisis we’re going to have to take control of the economy and individuals and so forth. I don’t know. It’s just a strange non-response, a strange way of handling it and I think that if it does go forward and we do not control it, there may be an overreaction where the government starts taking away the rights of those that aren’t that necessarily involved or need that to happen. I hope that’s not that case but as you know this current government uses crisis to advance their philosophy and their agenda. - See more at: http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/gop-congressman-obama-wants-ebola-spread-so-he-can-take-control-everything#sthash.2HAtfGuR.dpuf
 It’s just bizarre there’s not enough action up front and I’m wondering if that’s — I’m not saying this — but I’m wondering if that’s intentional in order to create a greater crisis to use it as a blunt force to say, well in order to solve this crisis we’re going to have to take control of the economy and individuals and so forth. I don’t know. It’s just a strange non-response, a strange way of handling it and I think that if it does go forward and we do not control it, there may be an overreaction where the government starts taking away the rights of those that aren’t that necessarily involved or need that to happen. I hope that’s not that case but as you know this current government uses crisis to advance their philosophy and their agenda.
Madwoman on the loose

And if your grandma started raving like Phyllis Schlafly, you'd call for the men in white coats to keep her from hurting herself:

“There are all kinds of diseases in the rest of the world, and we don’t want them in this country,” Schlafly told WND, adding that “of all the things [Obama has] done, I think this thing of letting these diseased people into this country to infect our own people is just the most outrageous of all.”
She went on to imply that President Obama is intentionally allowing people infected with Ebola into the United States because he wants America to be “just like everybody else, and if Africa is suffering from Ebola, we ought to join the group and be suffering from it, too. That’s his attitude.”

But the rightwingers don't want it to

 * And they are full of indignation that our precious electoral system might be harmed if someone claimed to be someone else in order to cast a fraudulent vote; although the only person known to have done this recently was a white, rightwing Republican, Robert Monroe. But can you name one rightwinger, ever, who said he worried that out precious electoral system would be damaged by systematic laws designed to keep poor people from voting? No you cannot.

Except maybe this one. Except that I've read some of Judge Posner's many books, and while he easily qualifies as a conservative and a Republican, he is doubtfully a rightwinger. He did a lot of damage, though, to our precious voting system:

His dissent includes a devastating response to virtually every false and/or disingenuous rightwing argument/talking point ever put forth in support of Photo ID voting restrictions, describing them as “a mere fig leaf for efforts to disenfranchise voters likely to vote for the political party that does not control the state government.”
As we leftwingers have been saying from the get-go. Some people are just slow learners.


Friday, October 17, 2014

How dumb is Ted Cruz?

Really, really dumb.

The arginine libel

In a Page One story about turtle tumors in The Maui News the other day, UH researchers blamed arginine in the seaweed the turtles eat.

I am skeptical. But one statement in the story was, too typically of greeniacs, just backwards:

Hannah Bernard, president of Hawai'i Wildlife Fund based on Maui, said that arginine is an immunosuppressive and promotes viral growth.
"It is a double whammy," said Bernard, noting that the tumors are caused by fibropapillomatosis, a disease associated with the herpes virus. "Their diet is promoting the growth of the tumors and suppressing their immune system."
Where do they get this stuff? The people, I mean, not the turtles. Pretty much the reverse is believed to be the case. Supplemental arginine may help in wound recovery and some other conditions.

It would be a big surprise to learn that arginine, an amino acid that people make in their bodies, was an immunosuppressor, for us or turtles. Odd things happen in animal metabolism but immunosuppression by one of the commoner amino acids would be hard to explain in evolutionary terms.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

A well-regulated militia

Of course, most gun nuts aren't in any militia, regulated or otherwise, so that argument they use wouldn't fool a 9-year-old idiot. However, the historical fact is that the United States has never had a well-regulated militia.

Besides the old examples of drunkenness and murder and shooting workers whenever the bosses asked, right up to the minute, we have this:

Lt. Col. Lawendowski is a rough tough military man and the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Training of the Alaska National Guard. Please note the use of present tense there, which is rather surprising, given that military investigators submitted a confidential report (an “AR 15-6” in military terms, not to be mistaken for the similarly named semiautomatic rifle) back in March and leaked to the Anchorage Press.
The Press says Lawendowski was found “directly responsible for empowering Alaska guard recruiters to sexually assault and harass female soldiers, recruits and civilians.” The report recommended that he be given an “other than honorable” discharge for his role in allowing some seriously bizarre misbehavior by recruiters when he served as commander of the Alaska Army National Guard Recruiting and Retention Battalion (RRB) from November 2007 to May 2012. Also, too, the growing scandal could very well spill over into the 2014 Alaska governor’s race, since there are questions about Gov. Sean Parenll’s knowledge of the mess — the usual what did he know and when did he know it stuff.
ADVERTISEMENT
Lawendowski himself appears to be the very model of a modern Bad Lieutenant Colonel. Just check his résumé! He is both a “former pornography company owner” and the “co-founder of an ‘end times’ fundamentalist group,”

Well, at least he didn't shoot any workers. Maybe that's progress. The part about the Mongolian Army is curious.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Slow motion stock market crash

RtO has not had much to say about financial markets recently, except to note that people worried about beating down inflation are kinda nuts. ("Whip Inflation Now! Whip it again!," Sept. 14)

But the graceful swan dive by Wall Street -- the DJIA managed to get under 15,000 today before closing at 16,141, about a thousand below where it was just a couple weeks ago -- merits some comment:

Listen up, people. Inflation is whipped. Beat, over and done with. RtO has been saying so almost since its inception in early 2008. Deflation is the problem, and as we learned in the Republican-engineered Crash of '29, deflation is the hardest of all possible economic crises to manage your way out of. (The famous hyperinflation in Germany was controlled rather easily by replacing all the money with "Rentenmarks," though the damage done was irreversible.)

Some people just won't believe it. According to Bloomberg News:

Investors who poured more than $1 billion this year into a $3.8 billion leveraged exchange-traded fund that bets against long-dated U.S. Treasuries are suffering a 4.1 percent loss today alone, Bloomberg data show. The fund is down 38 percent this year, a small window into the magnitude of pain in a market where many traders have been wagering debt prices would fall.
Gold, at last, finally woke up to the fact that securities are tanking and started playing its accustomed role as refuge when people are worried. Monied people, I mean. Gold, after managing to get below $1200 an ounce, was up to $1241 today. Not fabulous compared to where it has been over the last couple of years but reversing a slide that has been going on almost all year.

More from Bloomberg:


“The markets are clearly very jittery,” said Larry Milstein, managing director in New York of government-debt trading at R.W. Pressprich & Co. “It’s not just the global slowdown.”
While Wall Street economists may be sticking to their forecasts Treasuries will lose value, a lot of bond buyers aren’t listening right now. And the bears are suffering the consequences.
Boohoo.

Worse off maybe than bond traders is Vladimir Putin. A different Bloomberg story says:

 Oil has been the key to Putin’s grip on power since he took over from Boris Yeltsin in 2000, fueling a booming economy that grew 7 percent on average from 2000 to 2008.
Now, with economic growth slipping close to zero, Russia is reeling from sanctions by the U.S. and the European Union over its land grab in Ukraine, and from a ruble at a record low. Putin, whose popularity has been more than 80 percent in polls since the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in March, may have less money to raise state pensions and wages, while companies hit by the sanctions also seek state aid to maintain spending.
“His ratings remain high but for a person conducting such a risky policy, Putin has to understand the limits of patience for the people, business and political elite,” said Olga Kryshtanovskaya, a sociologist studying the country’s elite at the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow. “Putin is thinking hard how not to lose face while maintaining his support.”
Couldn't happen to a nicer fellow, either. I await momentarily John McCain's going on Fox to take back all that bad stuff he said about President Obama.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

I call the result of the GMO vote


SHAKA vandalized my sign
The anti-GMO initiative will lose. Big time.

Tonight I attended the lecture on "History, Future and Science of Genetics in Agriculture." About 75 people were there. Significantly, almost no Japanese-Americans.

The AJA vote is not as large, proportionally, as it used to be, and perhaps not as cohesive as it used to be. But it is still true that if an issue doesn't matter to Maui's AJAs, it doesn't matter at the ballot box.

The talk by Harold Keyser and Sally Irwin was long on facts. F'rinstance:

* Toxicity of pesticides has declined by a huge amount -- a factor of 34 -- since the EPA started disallowing the worst kinds, which was around 1965. Most of the decline came before GM crops were introduced around 1996, but the trend remains down. Total amounts used are also down.

* In 2012, the use of GM seed in developing countries exceeded use in developed for the first time.

* It is not true that Europe has banned GMO crops. It imports most of its animal feed, and almost all of that is GMO sourced. It is true that only 2 GMO crops have been approved for growing in Europe.

* Introduction of GMO varieties is regulated and the average time for approval is 7-9 years.

You may have heard different but them's the facts.

The lecture will be posted at www.facebook.com/BiotechCropScience within a couple of days.

Another lecture at Maui College, giving a forum to the anti-GMO side, will be held in a couple of weeks (exact date still open).

Judging by T-shirts, and because I know quite a few of the people who attended, I guess about 15, maybe 20% of the crowd were SHAKA.

I was pleased to see them, less pleased to find that SHAKA had vandalized my Vote
No yard sign overnight.