Saturday, February 13, 2016

Hate Mail

Oh, what a big surprise it is not, that someone who thinks they're some kind of great big lefty is upset at me for saying that we shouldn't have any more Ivy League trained lawyers on the Supreme Court.  Apparently it's a tenant of the faith of that left that only Ivy League products have a right to be on the Supreme Court - or maybe it's anxiety at the impiety and blasphemy of someone believing that mere mortals who went to, you know, the kind of university that most of us go to might be able to know how to produce what our Supreme Court, staffed by Ivy League products so seldom has, equal justice for all.  

What a craven, servile attitude that is, the belief, unnamed, that the country is properly under nothing but the colonial administration of the prep-school-Ivy-League class. 

Scalia Is Dead

I suppose it's evil of me but hearing that Scalia is dead is about the best news I've heard for the past year.  He was just one of five entirely evil members of the Supreme Court but he was certainly one of the worst in its history.  His dishonesty matched by his arrogance, his hatred of minorities, women, his servile aid to the rich and fascist .... Well, I could go on and on. 

I certainly hope that Obama doesn't appoint someone like Laurence Tribe to the court, I hope he doesn't appoint anyone who went to any of the Ivy league class law schools,  Though I doubt that's in the works.  

Randi's Involvement With Identity Theft And His Lies About His "Carlos" Scam Part 1

Note:  You never know when you write on various topics which of those will have the most effect.  When I wrote about the con man, liar, pseudo-scientific idol and all round sleaze, James Randi, I didn't think those would become the most often read things I ever posted.  But that's the case.  I get complaints from his fan boys at a fairly steady rate, most of which I ignore as they are as stupid as the typical comments at his "Educational" Foundation website, his fan base, the anti-intellectual thugs who act as a goon squad for him, something which other pseudo-skeptics have copied, people like Susan Gerbic, P.Z. Myers and Jerry Coyne.  And now if I've made all of those cults furious I'll have had a better morning than I anticipate.  

I got a comment on that last night which I answered, and I decided to have the fun of posting just the two posts I did on his "Carlos" stunt, in which he was involved with many lies but also knowingly being a party to identity theft and the obtaining of documents under that false identity, lying to the media and then lying about the reaction of the Australian media to his stunt (as documented in the second half).   I might post the entire series dealing with his lies and frauds which atheists, materialists, "skeptics" lap up like radon water, proving that what they really are not is all about the evidence.  All they really care is to have their ideological preference, their faith system, reinforced. 

I'm busy with family problems this morning, I hope to post some new things later. 

If GLBT folks had equal rights in the United States it is quite possible that James Randi's long time, live-in companion might not have committed the crime of identity theft.   Randi would have been able to marry him and been able to regularize his living in the United States as many straight couples have been able to do.  But that's not what happened. 

Randi's companion, Jose Alvarez, was arrested for identity fraud at Randi's home on September 8, 2011.  His real name was David or Deyvi Pena who had come to the United States on a student visa which he overstayed.  He is documented in a story that appeared in the Toronto Star in August 1986 and people who knew him at the time to have been associated with James Randi, under the name of David Pena.

A reporter profiling Randi for the Toronto Star caught up with the magician at LaGuardia Airport in New York in August 1986:

"A few feet behind him, David Pena, a young man of about 20, struggles with three large suitcases," the reporter wrote.

One of Pena's landlords in Broward County was Jim Sitton, a motel owner who let him stay in a room in exchange for some artwork. Sitton identified a photograph of the young Alvarez in his "Carlos" role as the man he knew as Pena.

"He was a young artist. He was going to the Art Institute in Fort Lauderdale. I think he went by different names, though," Sitton said. "At some point, I became aware that he used two names. The name he used is David Pena."

Sitton said Pena later told him he was working with Randi.

"He seemed like a really good person. I have very good memories of him. He was very serious about his artwork," Sitton said. "I wish him the best. I can't imagine how he got into this kind of serious trouble."

All of the available evidence shows, beyond any reasonable doubt, that James Randi knew his companion's real name was David, or Deyvi, Pena in 1986.

The next year, after he won a MacArthur "Genius" Grant, James Randi staged one of his well known PR operations in Australia with the purported purpose of exposing how credulous the media is when presenting people with claimed supernatural abilities,  his "Carlos Hoax".   He presented a young man called Jose Luis Alvarez as a medium named "Carlos", shopped him around to various TV and radio programs and presented him on stage while all the time running him like Peter Popoff was run by his wife in one of the rare instances when the Randi legend comes close to matching his PR use of it.

Only, as you might have guessed, Jose Luis Alvarez was really David Pena. 

will deal with the misrepresentation of the "Carlos Hoax" later.  For now, in order to travel to Australia David Pena needed a passport.   Since he was in the United States illegally he couldn't obtain one under his own name.   In order to get a passport Pena stole the identity of Jose Luis Alvarez, who was living in New York, working as a teachers aid. 

ASteve Volk and other's who reported the facts point out,  the real Jose Luis Alvarez suffered considerable trouble because someone had stolen his identity.  He had problems with the IRS over income he hadn't earned in Florida.  He had his bank account frozen and, when he wanted to go outside of the country to attend his sister's wedding, his passport was refused.

As the Sun-Sentinel reports: “Alvarez, a teacher's aide from the Bronx, said he has suspected for several years that someone had stolen his identity — … that he's been dunned by the IRS for taxes he didn't owe on income in Florida, that his bank account has periodically been frozen and that he had difficulty renewing his driver's license. He's had to repeatedly prove he is who he says he is, brandishing his New York driver's license and a birth certificate, as well as his employment record.”

Recently, when the real Alvarez tried to obtain a passport to travel to his sister’s wedding in Jamaica, his application was pegged as potentially fraudulent—because, after all, someone else had already been traveling the world with a passport bearing all the same information. Sadly, the real Jose Luis Alvarez was not able to work the matter out in time to attend his sister’s wedding at all.

So far we know that James Randi knew that the man he was marketing as "Carlos" was traveling under the name of Jose Luis Alvarez on a fraudulent passport in 1987.  We also know that year before that he was traveling in the United States with the same man under his real name, David Pena.  It is a reasonable conclusion that since Pena was closely associated with Randi and an employee of his, that Randi knew the reason for the identity theft,  that Pena was in the United States illegally.  Steve Volk points out that some of the remarks Randi made about a man he was living with and traveling with, who he knew was using two different names and who he was presenting under a third, made some rather sly and deceptive comments about "Carlos" that were relevant to the real owner of the identity he was traveling under:

And intriguingly, the Sun Sentinel found, when Alvarez first performed as “Carlos” Randi billed him as 19 years old—the same age as the New York man whose identity was allegedly stolen by Randi’s partner. Further, in this video, recorded in 2009, Randi says, around the 2:40 second mark, that one worry they had before they put Pena/Alvarez on stage as “Carlos” is that his “Bronx” accent might creep through.

Randi was no novice when it comes to assuming identities and deceiving people.  There is every reason to believe Randi was an accomplice to the identity theft, which, in itself, is a serious crime that could carry a prison term.  Peter Franceschina's piece in the  October 18, 2012 Sun-Sentinel said:

Now, time may be running out for Alvarez to reveal his identity – prosecutors and Alvarez's attorney recently told a federal judge that he would plead guilty in the identity theft case. Alvarez is scheduled to have a bond hearing Friday, but two previous such hearings were postponed. His trial is scheduled for early November, and his attorneys, Ben Kuehne and Susan Dmitrovsky, declined to comment.

The lawyers have told Randi, 83, not to comment on the case. "I've been advised silence is the way to go," he said.

When asked about the Sun Sentinel's determination that Alvarez was previously , known as Pena, Randi would only say, "Well, if that's who you think he is."

Randi won a $272,000 MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant in 1986, and one of the first things he did with the money was hire an assistant – Pena.

In the end, Pena got off fairly easy.  He was sentenced by a magistrate to six months of house arrest, followed by three years of probation.   I don't have any problem with that, though,  as Greg Taylor pointed out, Randi's plea to the court was less than honest:

As per usual, I think Randi's being a bit loose with the truth here in saying "no one was hurt" - for instance, the victim of the identity theft reportedly missed his sister's wedding due to passport problems arising directly from Pena's actions. However, from all reports Pena is quite a lovely person, and two years in prison may have been a bit of a harsh punishment in my eyes.

don't know what the real Jose Luis Alvarez has done or will do but if it were me, I'd sue for high damages going after his employer who was clearly in on the identity theft.  If he has or if he will, I hope he doesn't agree to sign a gag order as part of a settlement.  James Randi and the "Skepticism" industry would pay big money to keep this as quiet as possible.

As I noted yesterday, an even more interesting thing to see is the reaction of James Randi's fan base and his allies in "Skepticism"/atheism, people whose stock and trade is in loudly made claims of their rigorous honesty and above board integrity.   If any of them had information on a scientific researcher into parapsychology, that they had done any of the things Randi did in this caper, they would trumpet it as absolutely destroying, not only that researcher's credibility but the entire field of parapsychological research. They have used falsified, undocumented and clearly false accusations against people such as as Irving Langmuir's clearly false smears against J. B. Rhine to that end.  But when James Randi, the trademark of the "Skeptical" movement, has repeatedly, over a number of decades, proven to be a liar and fraud, they cover up and lie on his behalf.  They've even made a recent movie trumpeting his status as a serial liar as if it were some virtue when that is done in the name of "Skepticism".   It's been well past time, for decades, that someone says this emperor really doesn't have any clothes and that James Randi's courtiers deserve to be discredited for their part in maintaining his fraud on the world.

Part 2:  The Real "Carlos" Hoax 

To recap the first part of this story*:

-  As a young man of 22, David "Deyvi" Pena came to the United States from his native Venezuela on a student visa to study art.  He overstayed his student visa and continued living here illegally.  

-  In 1986 he is documented as traveling with James Randi, appearing in a story about Randi in the Toronto Star “A few feet behind him, David Pena, a young man of about 20, struggles with three large suitcases.”   1986 is also the year that James Randi was awarded a large amount of money through the MacArthur "genius prizes".  It has been reported one of the first things he did was hire the man known to him as David Pena.

-   In 1987, possibly using some of his "genius prize" money, James Randi mounted one of his PR campaigns calling it the "Carlos Hoax", in which David Pena impersonates a "channeling" medium, "Carlos" who is booked to appear on a number of Australian media and staged events.  While "Carlos" was supposedly giving messages from the his spirit contacts, Randi would be feeding him lines through a hidden radio receiver, as the phony faith healer, Peter Popoff's wife did in one of the few real and documented successes endlessly repeated in Randi's PR.  The stated intention of the "hoax" was to show how the media didn't treat claims of the paranormal skeptically and a large number of people were gulled into believing in a total and complete fraud.    

-  Traveling to Australia to play his part in Randi's PR stunt presented a huge problem for David Pena, who is believed to have been living with Randi at the time.  He would need a passport and, as he was in the United States illegally, he couldn't use his real identity.   As he pled guilty to have doing in 2012, David Pena stole the identity of Jose Luis Alvarez, a United States citizen who was living and working in The Bronx, in New York City.   He obtained a passport and was an employee of James Randi under the name of Jose Luis Alvarez, the name that Randi presented him under during his hoax and after that until Pena was arrested in the fall of 2011 for identity theft and, possibly, immigration violations.   The victim of the identity theft, the real Jose Luis Alvarez, had continuing problems with the IRS, his credit and banking and, ironically, with his genuine passport due to David Pena stealing and using his identity, with Randi's obvious knowledge and very possible involvement.  Remember, Randi wasn't only Pena's house companion and lover, he was also his employer who knew full well that he had used his real name before needing the passport.

-  Pena was sentenced after pleading guilty to a term of house arrest followed by three years of probation.   I'm not aware of how his immigration violations will be treated by authorities but that is certainly a crime which could get him deported.  Which would be too bad as he seems to have made a life for himself here but he did commit a crime which caused considerable harm to the victim of his identity theft. 

The "Carlos Hoax", though, has a life and legend of its own, apart from the crime of David Pena and the victimization of the real Jose Luis Alvarez by both Pena and those who participated in his identity theft.  Accounts of the "hoax" hardly ever mention that it was based in a crime and a fraud committed by James Randi and his lover. 

While Randi was deceiving the government and the media about the identity of "Carlos"-Alvarez**,  his account of the "Hoax" presents it as a triumph of Randian debunkery, a master stroke to show how gullible the media are when presented by claims of the supernatural.  That is how you'll see it written up in Wikipedia and in Robert Carroll's frequently cited (and often badly evidenced and researched) "Skeptics Dictionary".

José Alvarez had hoaxed an entire continent with his art. But he had created something that the media and his audiences would take from him and recreate to suit their own needs. One lesson here has to be the magician's refrain: deception requires cooperation. Another lesson might be that the need to believe in something like a "Carlos" is so great in some people that we must despair of them ever being liberated.

But, typical of the Randi Legend, as seen so often in American media and as touted by American "Skeptics" the real hoax is Randi's presentation of it as a triumph for him.  

Tim Mendham researched the "hoax" and wrote up his findings in an article for the Australian Skeptics Magazine, "The Skeptic" in 1988 (p. 26)

During February, Sydney was visited by a fraudulent channeler. But far from being like all the other fraudulent channelers who have visited Australia, this one was different - he was a fraudlent fraudulent channeler, an elaborate hoax organised by Richard Carleton of the Channel 9 60 Minutes program and US arch-skeptic James Randi

Preceded by a sophisticated promotional campaign including a press-kit with totally spurious newspaper clippings, reviews and tapes of radio interviews and theatre performances, and a stunningly inane little volume called The Thoughts of Carlos, 'channeler' Jose Alvarez was interviewed on three Sydney TV programs Terry Willesee Tonight (ch 7), the Today Show (ch 9) and A Current Affair (ch 9). There were also minor references to him on the John Tingle radio program (2GB) and the Stay in Touch column of the Sydney Morning Herald. The Today Show appearance achieved notoriety (and a front page storyin the afternoon Daily Mirror) because Alvarez'manager, upset at continued sceptical questioning by host George Negus, threw a glass of water at him before storming off the set with his charge in tow.

Already we have a problem with the story as told by Randi and his American fans, George Negus apparently didn't play his part by cooperatively being deceived.   I can only imagine the frustration of "Carlos'" "manager" when the person intended to be hoaxed, wouldn't be hoaxed during the broadcast.   And, over all of this, it was a media operation, the Australian version of 60 Minutes, which was in on the caper from the start. 

Mendham continues:

It should also be stated that to a certain extent the whole hoax backfired. As an exercise to prove that the local media were somewhat lax in doing research and effective checking of claims, proved its point, but on the other hand the media were extremely cynical (if not sceptical) of Alvarez' claims, and he received no sympathetic coverage at all. The Today program's hosts, Negus and Elizabeth Hayes, were particularly scathing. Terry Willesee, after screening Alvarez' first appearance on Sydney TV with a satellite interview, followed this up with an interview with Skeptics national committee member, Harry Edwards, who explained how Alvarez' number one trick, stopping his pulse while being 'possessed' was achieved. And the Current Affair program consisted of a confrontation between Alvarez and Negus, at which Negus said it was the first time that audience phone reaction had favoured him. John Tingle's radio coverage consisted solely of an interview with Skeptics president, Barry Williams - he even refused to say where Alvarez would be performing and the Daily Mirror story simply factually reported the waterthrowing incident. Still, the point remains that none of the programs checked out Alvarez' background, which would have proved conclusively that he was a fake. Ironically, the TWT program did check with one authority in the US for a view on the channeler - that authority was James Randi.

Read that last sentence again,  contrary to the story as told by James Randi, he had actually been contacted by the media AS AN EXPERT CONSULTANT IN HOW THE STUNT COULD HAVE BEEN FAKED!   AND IT WAS RANDI WHO LIED TO THE MEDIA TO KEEP UP HIS HOAX.  Which would, one would think, rather definitively show that the media are suckers, for James Randi and his self-constructed and peddled legend.   If you read the article you will find that virtually everything "Skeptical" sources online say about the "Carlos Hoax" is refuted by the facts.  

The rest of Mendham's account is revealing, including the fact that 60 Minutes falsified details in order to make their intended theme come off, the gullibility of their media competition and the public when it comes to claims of the paranormal. 

On the 60 Minutes program, it was claimed that Alvarez would not have had the audience he did at the Opera House (and the potential sales there from) had the media coverage been more aggressive (and factual). "The hall was packed" the program said, screening interviews with the credulous and deluded who had come because "they saw it on TV". Australian Skeptics came, as we had seen it on TV too. The hall was by no means full. Our estimate put the audience at about 250-300, as opposed to the 60 Minutes' 400-500; the Drama Theatre holds a maximum of 550. A large percentage of the audience were sceptical (if not Skeptical), with an even larger proportion thus unconvonvinced after the session was over. We subsequently learned of many who, having intended to attend, had been turned off by the poor performance Alvarez had given on TV

As a "Skeptic", himself, Mendham is to be commended for exposing more of the reality of Randi's failed hoax than American "Skeptics" have, though he obviously doesn't engage in what it really means and placing it in the context of Randi's long history of fraud and misrepresentation of his own record.  The media and the "Skeptics" fan base suck that up without any critical review at all.   The criticism, that the media frequently doesn't sufficiently research what they present is far more general they seldom do sufficient research to catch popular politicians when they lie and deceive, the administration of just about any corporate conservative proved that long before Randi was born.  The media and even large parts of the quasi-academic culture will ususally take the easy and safe route as opposed to the bravely rigorous.  No one needed organized "Skepticism" to tell us that.  Relevant to the theme of these posts, the media covers up and/or fails to discover the fact that "Skepticism" and James Randi are two of the greatest beneficiaries of their negligence to rigorously research the available evidence.  

Organized "Skepticism" has had more than three decades since sTARBABY was first exposed by Dennis Rawlins, it has not cleaned up its act, it is as bad and frequently worse today.   As Steve Volk and others who have gone over Randi's record have pointed out, the great "Skeptic" and his publicity machine are beneficiaries of the suspension of skepticism, able to cover up a long and documented history of lies and frauds.   In every case I'm aware of, when given the choice between the documented record and the easily accepted Randi myth, the media and the "Skeptics" go for the myth.  The near total fraud that the "Skepticism"/ atheism industry is couldn't be clearer than that record.  Which, as I pointed out before, is far easier to read and buy than it is to understand the published, peer-reviewed literature of parapsychological experiment.  I think the reason the media goes with the "Skeptics" PR operation begins in the same failure to do research that the real and larger lesson of the "Carlos Hoax".   There are no greater victims of fraud than the media and the fans who have made James Randi the legend he is today.

Post Script

As I noted at the beginning of this look into the "Skeptics",  Martin Gardner, James Randi, CSICOP, etc. it's hard to know where to begin in writing about their real history.  It's also hard to know when to stop.  The lies and deceptions of James Randi are far more extensive than those I noted, people have been researching and presenting the evidence of the real, as opposed to the public persona of James Randi for decades.  But his PR machine and the media it both dupes and intimidates goes on.

I'm sure this is a subject I will write more about in the future.  For now I will say that anyone who doesn't address the published research and experimental record into telepathy and other topics on the "Skeptics" index of forbidden topics, those who parrot the lines they get from Randi and other professional and amateur "Skeptics" haven't addressed the published, reviewed, scientific record.

Science can't be done through the PR practices of "Skepticism", there is not a single scientist in that ideological movement who would subject their science to those.  They will parrot the line Carl Sagan stole from Marcello Truzzi about extraordinary claims requiring extraordinary evidence.  Well, leaving aside that standards of evidence that are deemed to be inadequate to confirm or falsify telepathy are just as inadequate to confirm any other aspect of any other science.  To use that line against "extraordinary" phenomena would logically impeach any orthodox science to exactly the same extent.  Not that the many psychologists, such as Ray Hyman would tolerate their use in their "science", which has an almost uniformly less rigorous record than scientific research into psychic phenomena.   The frequently extraordinary claims of physics, multi-universes, parallell universes, etc. couldn't withstand that standard even to the extent that the controlled research into psi has, over and over again.

"Skepticism" is a self-interested industry and an ideological movement, not a scientific one.  It is, in almost every case, an aspect of the ideological promotion of atheism and materialism.  I think it's more likely to be a symptom of an ideological dark age than some kind of neo-enlightenment. "Skepticisms" documented history proves it depends on deception and lies, incompetence and cover ups, the insertion of ideological orthodoxy into science.  And that introduction has been, for the most part, a success.

Scientists who have read the literature into psi are reported to often find it convincing, in some rare cases they have admitted that.  But, for the most part, they self-censor and cover up what they know because they can depend on a career damaging ideological campaign against them that rivals and, I'd say, surpasses that of the red-scare of the 1950s.  It's lasted far longer and it has been more effective.  Sometimes, when coming across those rare defections from the enforced common consensus, it feels like the early 1960s, as the red-scare was melting, far too slowly.   Maybe it is.  We will see.



  1. James Randi has enough clout in the world that he could have gotten a passport and real identity to whoever he wanted to... He wouldn't have needed to steal one. We're talking about a man with a 200 000 dollar a year salary who runs a multimillion dollar multinational corporation and rubs shoulders with everyone from Johnny Carson to former and current presidents. Attacking Randi over this is absolutely ridiculous.
    1. The evidence is that he knew his boyfriend was using a stolen identity, he knew him as Pena and, then, after the Carlos stunt as Alvarez, he alluded to the identity of the real Alvarez whose identity was stolen when he obviously knew David Pena's real name and origin.

      The only apparent reason for David Pena to have stolen the identity of Jose Luis Alvarez, a crime he plead guilty to, was to obtain a passport under the name of a citizen of the United States so he could travel to Australia to try to pull off Randi's stunt, while he was in the employ of James Randi. James Randi obviously knew that the man he knew was David Pena had obtained a passport under a false name in order to work under his direction.

      The facts, as they say, speak for themselves. Though you Randi worshipers have never let those get in the way as you buy his lies.

      That was all before Randi's "Educational" Foundation racket, I doubt you know what his yearly income was and if he stated a figure, he's such a total liar that anyone who believed it is a a willing dupe.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Hate Mail - Nah, Nah, Na, Nah, Nah They Found Gravity Waves

Why is that supposed to upset me?    

Now, tell me exactly what they discovered, how they discovered it and what it means.    Hurry up, I don't have the half-life of Bismuth-209 to wait for your explanation.  That last one, by the way, I doubt that anyone knows yet, too soon to predict.  What it means. 

Atheists seem to only conceive of God as a god of the gaps, like some particularly dim fundamentalists do.  That's the god they don't believe in.   Lots of us don't believe in that god, we believe in the One who made everything, including gravity waves and everything else as described and imagined by human beings and our science.  

Update:  I strongly suspect that the number of people whose belief in God hinged on the absence of verification of gravity waves has an absolutely certain measure of ZERO.   Oddly enough, I don't recall reading of a single person who was converted to atheism by the verification of the Higgs boson.  

Christians Learning From Buddhists: Another Post For Lent

I hadn't known who Susan Stabile was before listening to this video yesterday,  I will be ordering her book.   The path she talks about sounded so familiar to me.  I also have used Buddhist techniques with Jewish-Christian "objects" for meditation instead of the neutral ones that I was taught to use by a Buddhist practitioner.  For me that has made all the difference.

Recently someone who read a passing reference I made to that asked me what I did.  Well, to start with I've never found sitting meditation does much but make me either fall asleep or concentrate on the discomfort and boredom of sitting down - as if we don't all do too much of that anyway.  I use a form of walking meditation taught by a student of Titch Nhat Hanh.  You coordinate your walking pace with your natural breathing rate and you either concentrate on the experience of breathing or on some "object" of meditation, a word, an experience, an idea.  And I found that was useful but it wasn't until I started using passages from the scriptures or paraphrases of those that I felt like I was getting anywhere.  The current one I'm using now is from the Letter of John, "Whoever loves God must also love his brother."  Especially since he's been living with me, it's kept me from wringing my brother's neck any number of times in the past year.   You would not believe how annoying a dying alcoholic can get even when he's trying to be good.   I'd better order the book as soon as I'm done with this.

Another thing I've done is to slow down the Lord's Prayer, phrase by phrase, coordinating it with breathing in and breathing out.  It makes it an entirely different experience.  I might try slowing it down more.   I'd rather be mindful of those things than the self-generated objects of "mindfulness"as seen in the Hollywood school of Buddhism.

No More Prep-School Ivy League Secretaries of Education And You Can Say The Same About The Supreme Court

One of the things that I would ask either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders is to promise to appoint a Secretary of Education who had graduated from public schools, gone to public universities and whose children attended public schools.  Arne Duncan, Barack Obama's first Secretary of Education, like Obama is a product of prep schools and ivy league schools.   His replacement, John B. King jr., would seem to have a similar education profile.  He may not have graduated from Phillips Andover, having been expelled in his Junior year, but he went to Harvard, Columbia, Yale and worked for one of those prep schools that cannibalize the public school system, a charter school company.

While I know there are a few people who come from that kind of background who are champions of public schools they are few and don't seem to get appointed to that position, just as they don't seem to ever get on the Supreme Court and, increasingly, are never named to high positions in federal and many state governments.  If there is one glaring problem with the Obama administration it is that he is a product of the prep school - Ivy league culture with little to no real understanding of the lives of most people. For whatever genuine liberal inclinations that he might hold, that training has effectively held it in check.  I think it had a lot to do with his administrations crippling itself by him wanting to be respected by Republicans in the Senate.   It is a culture whose stranglehold on the federal government needs to be broken and it's only going to be broken by Democrats appointing people who have been educated in public schools, in public universities who have a stake in those through their own children and who are in touch with the large majority of people who live in that world.

Update: I think that everything about Barack Obama's education policy demonstrates that he is a total and complete elitist, "Race to the Top" is emblematic of that.  In a race only one wins, everyone else loses.  He is obviously most interested in those who win and has little interest in the many who are not going to win in that kind of framing.  He is, to put it plainly, a prep-school snob of the kind I met throughout my life.  In New England they are thick on the ground and as arrogant as they come.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Flora Purim - Crystal Silence

Flora Purim, voice
Christian Jacob. piano
Airto Moreira. percussion

A Post For The First Ordinary Day of Lent

Last week I recommended the book by Walter Brueggemann, "The Bible Makes Sense".  It is a presentation of the Bible which isn't anything like most people have ever been exposed to, it is an amazingly deep reading of the text and the context of those documents and why they are as meaningful today as they ever were.  It is nothing that any atheist I've ever come across nor any facile fundamentalist could begin to deal with through their accustomed methods.  I can't read it without wishing I had seen it forty years ago when it was first published, it or something similar to it.  I'd have saved a lot of time.

The book isn't merely a book it is a curriculum to be followed as an introduction to that way of reading the collection and finding out what it means.  There are questions to be answered and passages to think deeply about.  The first chapter ends with questions about God as a maker of covenants.  If you think that that refers to the covenant made with the Jewish people through Abraham, alone, the first passage to think about shows that even before that in the book, the covenant making was far more inclusive.  Genesis 9 8-17

8 Later, God told Noah and his sons, 9 “Pay attention! I’m establishing my covenant with you and with your descendants after you, 10 and with every living creature that is with you—the flying creatures, the livestock, and all the wildlife of the earth that are with you—all the earth’s animals that came out of the ark. 11 I will establish my covenant with you: No living beings will ever be cut off again by flood waters, and there will never again be a flood that destroys the earth.”

12 God also said, “Here’s the symbol that represents the covenant that I’m making between me and you and every living being with you, for all future generations: 13 I’ve set my rainbow in the sky to symbolize the covenant between me and the earth. 14 Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow becomes visible in the clouds, 15 I’ll remember my covenant between me and you and every living creature, so that water will never again become a flood to destroy all living beings. 16 When the rainbow is in the clouds, I will observe it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living beings on the earth.”

17 God also told Noah, “This is the symbol of the covenant that I’ve established between me and everything that lives on the earth.”

Now, that's a radically inclusive list, in the context of the story it is a covenant which includes not only all people but all animals, perhaps more in that it says "all the flying creatures, the livestock and all of the wildlife of the earth" are included in a covenantal relationship with God and are part of God's concern.   You have to wonder what a deep and effective consideration of that idea would have in the relationship of people and the natural world if it were taken seriously by most people.  If the various People of the Book, Jews, Christians, Muslims, took that idea seriously it would have altered world history in a way that the present world would be totally different.  That, alone, could take up a good week of your time to scratch the surface of it.

It's not going to be any surprise to you that I believe that thinking of the world in those terms is superior to the debased view of life that materialist reductionism and Darwinist natural selection produces.  If all animals, all people are in a covenant relationship with God then the crude hierarchy assumed by the victory of the "fittest" conferring an ersatz worthiness is a delusion.

Given that if there is an extinction of life on Earth it will almost certainly be the work of human beings using nuclear technology, extraction technology, the products of the sciences those were created by, perhaps the alternative contemplated above might make "The Bible (as seen in this way) Works"  would be an apt title for it.  And now excuse me while I ignore the wailing and gnashing of teeth that are sure to come.

More Discussion On the Secular god That Alcohol Has Been Made Into

Kerlyssa Camera Obscura • 16 hours ago

So the only acceptable forms of behavior are ones which are completely risk free? Those don't exist. The US has tried to enforce complete alcohol abstinence before, it did not improve health and happiness of the population. It tries to enforce complete abstinence of many recreational drugs now, too, and that is not decreasing health and harm risks. Watching someone die of a lifestyle related illness is not the endall for commentary on said lifestyle. People almost never die 'well', and always die of SOMETHING.

Camera Obscura Kerlyssa • 16 hours ago

 What is it with you guys who figure that there is nothing between total and enthusiastic promotion of something and making it a felony?

 I'm surprised you found the mention of my brother's death in so far as you obviously missed that my comments didn't "endall" with that, they included far more than that, including information from the CDC and many other issues.

That said, I've watched people kill themselves with alcohol, I've seen a car accident in front of my house in which drunk driving was a factor.... Those things are not irrelevant in a discussion of the effects of alcohol, they don't represent phenomena that aren't massively documented. That's what is known as reality.

 I have to say that this issue in the wake of the condemnation on the blogs of the criminal pollution of the water in Flint has led me to conclude that some people are OK with some risks from the ingestion of some poisons but not others. Look it up, the health consequences from ingesting lead and alcohol are remarkably similar, especially for those who were exposed before birth.

Kerlyssa Camera Obscura • 4 hours ago

 ...people choose to drink. They don't choose to have lead in supposedly safe drinking water. Apples and oranges.

If not illegalization, then what?
 Camera Obscura Kerlyssa • a minute ago

 "If not illegalization, then what?"

Good heavens, everything from simply informing people that drinking risks harming yourself or if you're pregnant then the child who will be born to an attempt to diminish the advertising and product placement promotion of drinking and getting drunk to making it more expensive to drink - a stiff tax dedicated to the treatment of those harmed by alcohol and anti-drinking education and stricter regulation of alcohol.

The idea that because something is harmful means you have to have full blown prohibition and making it illegal or that you have to endorse it with all your will is silly, it is childish and it prevents more practical courses of action which will more likely succeed from being considered or tried. It is TV program thinking, not realism.

 In thinking about this I have to wonder why the people who are upset by the CDC recommendation don't seem to get that most women choose to have children at some time in their life and that they almost always care about the welfare of children they have. Fetal alcohol syndrome is a real thing, alcohol has a damaging effect on fetal health and development just as taking certain other drugs does. Alcohol is hardly the only drug that the CDC and other health agencies advise women who may or intend to become pregnant to avoid.  In terms of effects on developing fetuses, not to mention the women who consume them, alcohol and lead are remarkably similar in their effects, they are not "apples and oranges" in anything but the intentionality of their ingestion.  I can assure you, that makes no biological difference to the outcome.

We've developed some really bizarre ideas about alcohol. One of the lessons I got from one of my brother's mocking refusal to try AA, that he didn't recognize a "higher power", is that he had, in fact, adopted a higher power in his life, alcohol, and it totally consumed him and caused enormous damage to a large number of people.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Pills To Purge Primarymania

Here's a wonderful discussion between Paul Elie and Marilynne Robinson.

Having an Unexpectedly Busy Day

I'm having a really bad morning because my brother's having a really bad morning - had to call in sick to work.  I'll try to post something later.   

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

More Hate Mail On What I Wrote About Yesterday

Most women choose to have children, it would seem.  Most women who have children care about the welfare of their children.  Even more care about the welfare of other children, nieces, nephews, etc.  It would seem to me that any feminism that doesn't include those women and their concerns is a feminism of a self-chosen minority who have decided that what is a major issue in the lives of most women is of lesser importance than most women seem to consider it to be.   I can't see how anyone could think that is a wise strategy. 

Considering that all women, those already born as well as those who are to be were once fetuses in their mothers, as were all men, you wonder why they don't make the connection between risks of fetal alcohol syndrome and the welfare of all girls and women.  

That is unless they figure that since they were not losers in that  game of chance it doesn't need to concern them now.  That's hardly a gender based calculation, though I more associate it with ruling class men.  There's a lot of that around, it's the same attitude of those who, having white collar jobs,  pooh-pooh the risks of environmental pollution, exposure to hazardous substances at the workplace, in the food supply, in the water in places like Flint, Michigan where they don't live. It's something I expect to hear from CNBC or FOX or as the subtext for much of what the rest of corporate media puts out.  

I don't have any interest in leftist politics that doesn't take things like those seriously.  I don't think they're going to either get off the ground or be sustainable.  They'll more likely be a hindrance to any politics that has a chance of succeeding. 

Monday, February 8, 2016

Good Play Gone Bad - I Love David Tennant I Didn't Love David Tennant's Hamlet

David Tennant is a very good actor, eventually he might become a great actor.  He could be one now but I don't think his well know, well regarded TV version of Hamlet shows that except in a few instances.  Some of his delivery of the most famous speech of the play, To be or not to be.... has the best rhythm of any I've ever heard.  Others, not so much.  By the time he's said the first several lines of "Oh that this too, too solid flesh" you wonder how, since he's already coming unhinged,  he's going to act to intentionally convince the court that he's gone bonkers after he saw the ghost.  Well, by giving a stagey, unconvincing, madcap stage version of madness, mostly.  His straight acting of madness reminded me of the brilliant "bad acting" Ophelia mad scenes of Sabrina Grdevich in the great Canadian series Slings and Arrows.* I think The production design didn't help, the moderny-dress set in some dismal institutional feeling building with only the grave scene outside in a dirty Brit churchyard under dirty grey light is pretty bad.  Mariah Gale, the Ophelia,  mostly does better at playing mad though by the time she's gone mad her upper class Brit upper class cool has made it harder to believe.

I saw the movie when they had it on American TV, perhaps shortly after it was on British TV and remembered I didn't like it much.  I watched it again over the weekend, twice, and saw why I didn't like it.

Patrick Stewart as Claudius and his brother's ghost is pretty convincing throughout, especially in the scenes when he's watching his crime reenacted and when he's conspiring with Laertes, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.   The scene where Hamlet first meets his father's ghost has some problems, mostly with the direction, the embrace of the ghost with Hamlet, the rock-opera "SWEAR" that rocks the set is just stupid.

Penny Downie as Gertrude is good though I didn't find her willow speech convincing.  I liked the short scene when Laertes comes back vowing vengeance and endangering the reign of Claudius, that struck me as just right.

Some of the lesser characters were some of the most convincing, Peter De Jersey played Horatio wonderfully, for what few lines and scenes he's got.  Ryan Gage as the obsequious courtier Osric struck me as excellent, his playing of the Player Queen to  John Woodvine's fine Player King, not nearly as good.

Mark Hadfield as the grave digger was annoying instead of amusing.

It is too bad you couldn't see them all play Hamlet in a different production with some other director than Gregory Doran.  There's nothing wrong with an unconventional production except when the production distracts from the performances and the play, itself and this one so often did.  The security camera stuff was stupid.  If someone would tone down the wild-eyed crazy sane-Hamlet of David Tennant and reigned in the crazy crazy-Hamlet Tennant did it might be better.  The soliloquy filmed as a selfie is about the lowest point in it - I won't say which one because I hope it doesn't become know as the "selfie soliloquy".   I found it all more frustrating instead of compelling.  It felt too often like a dress rehearsal that the director should tell the actors to tone it down and lose some of the affectation.   I'd also restore some of the most famous lines, especially in the final minutes of the play. The death scene was too fast, too martial arts movie paced.

I would probably watch it again, it's certainly better than what's likely the most well known filmed "Hamlet" Mel Gibson in Zeffirelli's digestion of the play.  Though reading the play is a better option.

* Sabrina Grdevich played a real Ophelia at the Stratford festival in Canada, one of those performances you read about and wish you could see it, I expect it was great since she played a bad actor playing it badly so well.   If you haven't seen Slings and Arrows you are missing some of the best TV ever made written and acted by actors who knew that world better than anyone.  I generally like Canadian actors more than American or British actors, not sure why but the ones I've seen seem to know their stuff more.   And if you've gotten this far, you might know which fatheads I hope are annoyed by this piece which I'm posting in honor of Fathead Tuesday.  I'll post it later Monday if it looks like we might lose electricity.

ANDREW HILL - Black Monday

Andrew Hill, piano
John Gilmore, tenor saxophone
Bobby Hutcherson, vibraphone
Richard Davis, bass
Joe Chambers, drums

Andrew Hill's harmonic and melodic language almost always seems like afternoon light to me, long shafts of brilliant sunlight.  We're just getting into a snow storm here, early release and all.  

What's Wrong With Public Health Information? Hate Mail

You do have to wonder how many of the people who are upset with the CDC for advocating that women who might become pregnant intentionally or unintentionally, knowingly or unknowingly not drink a poison, alcohol, unless they use contraception are, nonetheless, upset with the situation in Flint Michigan in which a poison, lead, has been ingested through the tap water.

That it is the choice of a individuals in the case of alcohol and the case of criminals in the state government of Michigan and the appointed dictator in Flint doesn't really change the fact that fetuses exposed to either are at risk, in some cases for exactly the same things.

Here's a list of the symptoms of fetal alcohol syndrome.

Some of the behavioral and intellectual disabilities of people with FASDs include:
• Difficulty with learning or memory
• Higher than normal level of activity (hyperactivity)
• Difficulty with attention
• Speech and language delays
• Low IQ
• Poor reasoning and judgment skills
People born with FASDs can also have problems with their organs,
including the heart and kidneys.

Here's a list of symptoms of fetal lead poisoning issued to inform pregnant women

Too much lead in your body can:

• Put you at risk of miscarriage
Cause your baby to be born too early or too small
• Hurt your baby’s brain, kidneys, and
 nervous system
• Cause your child to have learning or
 behavior problems 

And those are only some of the risks from being exposed to either of those poisons, there are others, many of them identical.

It is the job of the Center for Disease Control to inform people of known health risks, what they said last week wasn't a call for legislation to make it illegal for women who are fertile to drink.  That's NOT their responsibility.  Apparently some people figure that it's better for people to not be informed of known health risks.    If you want to discuss what ambitious, unscrupulous prosecutors might do with that information in targeting women for the own political advancement, yes, that's a big problem, a big overreach in many of the known cases but that's still no reason for the CDC to not issue health advice on the basis of known risks.  That's their job, it would be unethical and immoral for them to suppress that information.

The politicization of pregnancy in the career advancement of prosecutors, that's another issue, entirely, a question of politics, not of public health.

Oh, Come On, Stop Pretending Your Favorite Sport Isn't A Fascist Institution

Is there anything more hilarious than the shock and hurt on leftish blogs when they feign to discover, like for the millionth time, that American football players are likely to be right-wing Republicans?   

What's to be surprised?  They make their living in what might be the most heavily subsidized entertainment industry in the world, literally from cradle to the end of their career it's way more than just likely that tax payers are paying most if not the entire bill for the infrastructure that they play in. Their training, their coaching, the seeming scores of referees, etc.   I can guarantee you that hardly anyone in the arts enjoys a small fraction of that level of public funding if any.   I don't know of a musician who ever got the government to pay for their instruction.  Oh, yeah, and if you hear some football jock on the topic, they're more than likely whining about money going to poor people and public services to people other than themselves. 

Then there is the huge salaries making these baby-men  multimillionaires for playing a game, their incomes making it statistically unlikely that they're going to be liberals.  

Then there is the macho entitlement that is the culture of football even more so than most other men's sports.  I'd rather have my niece dating a member of a rock band than a football team.  

The list could go on and on.  Yet on lefty blogs last night there was a pantomime of shock and outrage that one of the players was a JEB! Bush supporter and another one was a Trump supporter....

American football, most sports are a fixture of corporate-imperial culture, there is nothing about it which isn't a glorification of violence and winning at the risk and cost of actual lives, it is the American version of the Roman imperial "games" just by other means.  Of course other than the odd working class guy who remembers his roots football players are Republicanfascists, Republicanfascism has worked very well for them, all round.   

An Exchange On Another Blog

This is an exchange I've been having on another blog.  "Camera Obscura" is the name I use on Disqus, it seems to have successfully confused the several poeple who troll me on other blogs, two of whom are Duncan Black's "Brain Trusters".  I've noted that his blog is a source of harassment of former members of his alleged community before.   Still true three years later.

Camera Obscura • 3 days ago
Nursing the second member of my immediate family who is dying from the effects of alcoholism - he's mumbling in a reclining chair while having a hallucination as I write this - I have to say that I am finding it impossible to see a down side to total abstinence for everyone. Though I do see your point it is a fact that there are health consequences to drinking and potential problems for a child born to someone who drank heavily while pregnant, those are hard truths. The chance someone is willing to take in doing that should be made on the basis of information. Drinking is more realistically seen as a responsibility to avoid harm than as a right. The consequences of drinking carry exigencies that make abstract assertions of rights rather moot.

My guess would be that more children are injured and damaged and killed from alcoholic males after they are born, but that's just based on reading about people who are prosecuted for injuring babies and young children when drunk and as a consequence of car accidents.

Lee Rudolph  Camera Obscura • a day ago
I have to say that I am finding it impossible to see a down side to total abstinence for everyone.

Impossible? Really?

There are people who get pleasure from drinking alcohol, and neither suffer bad effects from it nor cause other people to suffer. There are others—as you say, alcoholics, and as you imply (correctly) some or all of the people who interact with (or are related to, or are neighbors of, or..., or..., alcoholics or alcoholically impaired drivers or ...)—who do suffer and/or cause suffering because they drink alcohol. It isn't immediately obvious (to me) that the first group's losing those pleasures (by having "total abstinence" imposed upon them) isn't "a down side" even though it immediately obvious that if the second group's suffering could be made to cease (by having "total abstinence" imposed upon alcoholics) then that would be an "up side".

I guess that a calculus of balancing downs and ups is not immediately obvious. But I would reject any proposal for such a calculus that doesn't reckon pleasure at all, and considers only suffering. (I'm not saying that you are making such a proposal.)

Camera Obscura  Lee Rudolph • a day ago
Perhaps you have to watch two people die horrible deaths from alcoholism to see what I mean. I mean their abdomens horribly distended with ascites, looking like they are full term pregnant, more so on their right side with hepatic hydrothorax until a blood vessel in their esophagus bursts and they die choking on blood. That's the way my first brother died of it.

People get pleasure from smoking cigarettes. Give me the down side of total abstinence from tobacco.

Lee Rudolph  Camera Obscura • a day ago
I just don't see how any such horror can possibly be relevant to the question of universal abstention. Why should people who aren't alcoholics, and therefore are not going to make anyone watch them die horrible deaths from alcoholism, not drink for their own pleasure (if they also do it in such a way that they don't drive after drinking, etc., etc.)?

Smoking tobacco is, maybe, a somewhat different case. But there's nothing honestly analogous to "second-hand smoke" for alcohol.

Camera Obscura  Lee Rudolph • 20 hours ago
Drinking too much can harm your health. Excessive alcohol use led to approximately 88,000 deaths and 2.5 million years of potential life lost (YPLL) each year in the United States from 2006 – 2010, shortening the lives of those who died by an average of 30 years.1,2 Further, excessive drinking was responsible for 1 in 10 deaths among working-age adults aged 20-64 years. The economic costs of excessive alcohol consumption in 2010 were estimated at $249 billion, or $2.05 a drink.

That doesn't count those who are not chronic alcoholics who die as a result of alcohol or at the hands of those who are drunk. The same document notes:

"Most people who drink excessively are not alcoholics or alcohol dependent."

And, then, there is the issue not covered in that document, people killed by drunk drivers, drunk operators of machinery, etc. You don't have to be drunk to kill yourself or someone else with alcohol. Drunk driving, etc. is the second-hand smoke of alcohol.

The biggest problem with prohibition was it didn't work, it didn't keep people from drinking, it enabled organized crime. If it had succeeded, if it had completely stopped alcohol consumption in the United States the benefits would have massively outweighed any alleged down side. I'd never advocate prohibition be tried again, I'm in favor of decriminalizing most of the drugs with heavy control of their distribution and use by the government.

But I've learned, the hard way, that advocating drinking in the media, in movies and TV shows and on the radio has produced awful results. I would certainly take liquor sales out of grocery stores and make it harder to get while having real and effective anti-alcohol education in the media and in schools.

The idea that there is a right to drink alcohol is stupid, what there is is a responsibility of people to use a potentially dangerous substance responsibly in a way so as not to do harm. Considering he behavior of men who are drunk, far more so than women who are drunk, their propensity to attack people, to rape people, etc. it is insane for anyone to think that they are exercising a right by getting into the condition where they are more likely to do that.

Lee Rudolph  Camera Obscura • 16 hours ago
I deliberate avoid using the language of "rights"; if I did use it, I would probably agree that "the idea that there is a right to drink alcohol is stupid". But I also think that your original statement, that there is no downside to total abstinence (from alcohol) for everyone, is stupid—because depriving people of pleasure that does not harm anyone (or, perhaps, does not harm anyone else) is cruel, and advocating cruelty is stupid. You surely do not advocate total abstinence, for all, from sex; yet such abstinence would undeniably improve some peoples' health! This is, in fact, where we came in.

Camera Obscura  Lee Rudolph • 15 hours ago
I certainly advocate abstinence from any sex that carries a great potential for harm, I think the current fad for anal sex is insane after seeing what it can lead to since the 1980s - I certainly wouldn't want to see it criminalized again, but promoting it is immoral and insane considering that experience. I would certainly advocate anyone who is infected with an STD to not engage in any form of sex which carries a risk of spreading it. I would advise any heterosexuals who don't want to have children, if they aren't going to use effective contraception, to abstain from coitus engaging in forms of sex that don't carry that danger.

But all forms of sexual relations don't carry risks, last time I looked into it, frottage was associated with no known risk of infection and only among heterosexuals, in some specific forms risking unwanted pregnancy. I'd advocate anyone practicing it to do so with full information and with adequate responsibility.

If you can tell me how someone can drink alcohol without the aspects of it which risk injury due to impairment or addiction, real things that result from having alcohol in the bloodstream and nervous system happening in their bodies, I might consider your claim. I don't see how the two can be equated.

ethel  Camera Obscura • a day ago
There are in fact health benefits from moderate consumption of alcohol, which is not true of tobacco.

Camera Obscura  ethel • 20 hours ago
I doubt there are significant health benefits to drinking moderate amounts of alcohol, certainly none that outweigh the potential dangers of it and the fact that a percentage of people who begin by drinking moderately put themselves at danger of becoming an alcoholic. That is a real phenomenon, it's not some hack script writers' fodder for mockery.

ethel  Camera Obscura • 4 hours ago
Any number of studies have shown that non-drinkers have an increased risk of premature death compared to light and moderate drinkers. That holds even for those who are lifelong abstainers (i.e., it's not because the non-drinkers are all people who have given up alcohol because of alcoholism or because their health was already bad).

Obviously one's individual risk of alcoholism should be factored heavily in the decision, as should interactions with other medications (especially in elderly people), etc., but I don't think there is medical evidence favoring a blanket policy of total abstention for everyone.

Camera Obscura  ethel • 9 minutes ago
There are better ways to improve the statistics on heart disease than drinking alcohol, decreasing the intake of saturated fats and the moderate intake of fats that are beneficial to coronary health. Neither of those carries the risk of occasional intoxication, even mild intoxication increases the chances of accidents and mild intoxication can so often turn into serious intoxication as anyone who has drunk or been around drinkers certainly has observed. Alcoholism isn't the only level of drinking associated with those results of drinking.

Alcohol interactions with other drugs is also a problem, for example, the cases of interaction with acetaminophen are associated with kidney failure and liver disease. Not to mention all kinds of other interactions that can happen with even moderate alcohol use.

Who said anything about "a blanket policy" of total abstention? What policy did I advocate other than that the media not promote alcohol use and that its distribution be regulated? There is a difference between promoting abstinence and prohibition. What I said that got people upset is that I didn't see any down side to total abstention from drinking alcohol. Other than the handful of studies that show a small association between moderate alcohol consumption and a smaller percentage of heart disease - which isn't, by the way, a positive correlation between the alcohol and those effects - I don't see that there has been one asserted. The health benefits of not drinking at all would, I am certain, more than outweigh the alleged benefits.

I'm not unrealistic, I don't think for a second that any country is going to have no alcohol use, I'm saying that if that were possible the benefits would be enormous. Consider the absence of alcohol caused accidents, the absence of alcohol induced violence. I would guess that there would be a decrease in attacks on people and I think women and children would probably be the primary beneficiaries of that. Even if half as much alcohol were consumed in the United States the benefits would far outweigh any alleged benefits of moderate drinking. And that's not to mention that in so many cases "moderate drinking" is claimed by those who definitely have a problem with alcohol. My family members whose drinking came to control their lives claimed that they were moderate drinkers for a time well after that wasn't true. If the studies are based on self-reporting - and just about all of them are - I wouldn't trust them to present a realistic general picture of the actual situation.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Hate Mail

I don't know which one is the bigger phony, Simpy or Freki (JR as she sometimes is).   So I'll ignore them both, equally.   

Prairie Home Companion After Two Weeks of Chris Thile

Chris Thile is very talented, very energetic, very versatile and charismatic, not to mention extremely good looking, but if Prairie Home Companion is going to turn into The Chris Thile Concert-Show it's a big mistake.  Maybe it's the difference between a writer turned performer and a performer turned writer but he could put himself in the background a bit more of the time.   He's just starting and maybe he'll get the hang of it but if it's going to be all about him it doesn't need two hours every week.  He needs to remove himself from some of the segments, many of the skits.  He's established his talent he doesn't need to prove it.  Some of his friends are also very talented but in the context of this weeks show it kind of grated at times.  

I can understand Garrison Keillor deciding to retire, it must have been an enormous amount of work to produce that many shows a year not to mention the touring.   I don't have any problem with the show changing with a new host, every job ends, every career ends and even popular art needs to constantly hear from new minds and voices to be worth anything.  It's wrong to want it to stay the same thing that it was, it should reflect the new host.   I wish Chris Thile and the rest of the staff years of success and think they'll probably make the adjustment.   

NPR Is Useless

The NPR alleged reporter, the Bush II -fawning former White House correspondent and otherwise total hack, Don Gonyea, just delivered one of the stupidest things I've ever heard on that network.

Apparently he didn't bother to do the research and no one has bothered to tell the jerk that The Old Man of the Mountain, that semi-famous bunch of rocks that kinda, sorta, looked like a man's profile, fell off the mountain in 2003 and is a bunch of random rubble on the side of the mountain.  But, then, NPR has had pretty much the same report on the New Hampshire Primary every four years since forever, the names changed, not much else.

And the song, The Old Man of the Mountain isn't about that bunch of rocks.

This Is A Difference Between A Bill of Rights From Slave Owners in the 1780s And One Informed By The Next Two Centuries

Prohibitions against publications 14(1) 

No person shall publish, display or cause or permit to be published or displayed on any lands or premises or in any newspaper, through any radio broadcasting station, or by means of any other medium which he owns, controls, distributes or sells, any notice, sign, symbol, emblem or other representation tending or likely to tend to deprive, abridge or otherwise restrict, because of the race, creed, religion, colour or ethnic or national origin of any person or class of persons, the enjoyment by any such person or class of persons of any right to which he or it is entitled under the law. 

(2) Nothing in subsection (1) shall be construed as restricting the right to freedom of speech under the law, upon any subject. 

1947, c.35, s.14; R.S.S. 1953, c.345, s.14

From The Saskatchewan
Bill of Rights Act

If that were part of the United States Constitution there would be no FOX, cabloid or radio 24-7-365 assault on the rights of individuals or groups, the present front runners in the Republicanfascist nomination would all be in violation of the law instead of poised to have a good chance of running the country and appointing fascists to the Supreme Court.

Instead we have the idiotic, 18th century, slave owner favoring thing we've got and which we won't change because they and our subsequent history made it almost impossible for our Constitution to incorporate what it should have learned by 1947 if not by 1865,