Archive for the 'politics-social-racism' Category



Russians & Ice in Their Drinks

Alina Simone explores why Russians dislike ice in their cold drinks. The commentators aren’t that impressed with the article, neither am I, but it’s a nice way to open up a post about ice. A lot of people don’t like ice or ice cream because it hurts their teeth. I actually freeze a lot of my drinks, just to the brink of becoming ice and enjoy them. This works especially well for ice tea, to which I also add a lot of ice, and sodas.

I tend to freeze bottles of water and enjoy them as they unfreeze. The same isn’t always true in restaurants, as a lot of people tend to sip their drinks and dislike how the ice dilutes them. To each his own. In Taiwan, people dislike cold water, which they usually drink warm or at room temperature.

Is Shame Necessary?

Jennifer Jacquet on

“Balancing group and self-interest has never been easy, yet human societies display a high level of cooperation.”

The Limits of Friendships

Editors from Wired and Vanity Fair take a look at personal branding through Facebook. Many people aren’t aware or fully aware that they over-share. Employers now Google and Facebook potential applicants to see exactly who they are. Over-sharing can complicate things. Just like real-time conversations, online personas should contain some editing.

Danah Boyd on Google+ Real Name Policy: Assertion of Authority

Danah Boyd comments on Google’s policy with ‘real names’. I totally agree with this policy. While Facebook uses something like this, I no longer use Facebook. This policy actually makes me want to use Google+ less (which isn’t really much overall).

The draconian way Google is enforcing it might also be telltale of what is to come from that company. I think many more people are realizing that Google, just like any corporation, isn’t ‘nice’. They want to make money.

How the Malware Stuxnet Was Discovered by Digital Detectives

In depth article about how computer security experts discovered the malware Stuxnet, which has been classified as a cyberweapon.

Siddharta Deb’s Gatsby in New Delhi

Siddharta Deb’s article Gatsby in New Delhi about Arindam Chaudhuri can be found at n+1 issue 10, but before it was deleted from the original source, someone reproduced. The original publication is being sued by Chaudhuri.

In addition to The Caravan and its proprietors, the suit charges Siddhartha Deb, Penguin (the publisher of the upcoming book by Deb in which the article is a chapter), and Google India (which, the suit alleges, has been “publishing, distributing, giving coverage, circulating, blogging the defamatory, libelous and slanderous articles”).

Michele Bachmann: All Sorts of Loony?

Nice profile and editorial in the Rolling Stone about Michele Bachmann.

Bachmann is a religious zealot whose brain is a raging electrical storm of divine visions and paranoid delusions. She believes that the Chinese are plotting to replace the dollar bill, that light bulbs are killing our dogs and cats, and that God personally chose her to become both an IRS attorney who would spend years hounding taxpayers and a raging anti-tax Tea Party crusader against big government.

[...] in an attempt to reassure the unbeliever of her non-threateningness, is one of the scariest sights in the entire American cultural tableau.

In modern American politics, being the right kind of ignorant and entertainingly crazy is like having a big right hand in boxing; you’ve always got a puncher’s chance.

But by the time you’ve finished reviewing her record of lies and embellishments and contradictions, you’ll have no idea if she actually believes in her own divine inspiration, or whether it’s a big con job.

[...] in which case this hard-charging challenger for the GOP nomination is a rare breed of political psychopath, equal parts crazed Divine Wind kamikaze-for-Jesus and calculating, six-faced Machiavellian prevaricator. Whatever she is, she’s no joke.

Originally a division of Oral Roberts University, this august academy [Bachmann's alma mater], dedicated to the teaching of “the law from a biblical worldview,” has gone through no fewer than three names — including the Christian Broadcasting Network School of Law.

Michele took a job as a tax attorney collecting for the IRS and spent the next four years sucking on the tit of the Internal Revenue Service, which makes her Tea Party-leader hypocrisy quotient about average.

But before long, parents began to complain that Bachmann and her cronies were trying to bombard the students with Christian dogma — advocating the inclusion of something called the “12 Biblical Principles” into the curriculum, pushing the teaching of creationism and banning the showing of the Disney movie Aladdin because it promoted witchcraft.

“She thought it was a socialist plot to turn our children into little worker-automatons,”

The theme of socialists scheming to herd children into a factorylike system of predetermined occupations still comes up often in Bachmann’s rhetoric.

Bachmannites despise IB because its “universal” curriculum refuses to recognize the superiority of Christianity to other religions.

In another version of the story told by Bachmann, she ran against Laidig only because a GOP endorsing convention in April of that year spontaneously selected her, prompting yet another Home Alone extreme-surprise moment. “I came in wearing jeans, a sweatshirt and moccasins, and I had no makeup on at all,” she said. “I had made not one phone call, and spent not five cents, and I did not solicit a vote.”

Bachmann lies because she can’t help it, because it’s a built-in component of both her genetics and her ideology. She is at once the most entertaining and the most dangerous kind of liar, a turbocharged cross between a born bullshit artist and a religious fanatic, for whom lying to the infidel is a kind of holy duty.

The first was a jeremiad against school standards, which fizzled out when Ventura’s replacement, then-governor and current presidential rival Tim Pawlenty, backed his own version of school standards with the coming of No Child Left Behind. The other was a hysterical campaign against gay marriage that involved some of the strangest behavior ever attributed to an American elected official.

Bachmann somehow took this to mean that the Obama administration might force ordinary Americans to abandon their familiar green dollar bills for some international and no doubt atheist currency.

She called gay marriage an “earthquake issue,” insisting that failure to pass her proposal would mean that “sex curriculum would essentially be taught by the gay community” and that “little K-12 children will be forced to learn that homosexuality is normal, natural, and perhaps they should try it.”

A photo shows Bachmann, only the top of her Stepford head visible, crouched alone in an extreme catcher’s squat behind the Capitol shrubbery. She later insisted she wasn’t hiding at all, but resting because her heels hurt.

Images of Michele Bachmann squatting behind a bush or hiding from lesbians in a bathroom would seem to be punch lines of funny stories, but they are not. The real punch line is that rather than destroying her politically, these incidents helped propel her into Congress.

Snickering readers in New York or Los Angeles might be tempted by all of this to conclude that Bachmann is uniquely crazy. But in fact, such tales by Bachmann work precisely because there are a great many people in America just like Bachmann, people who believe that God tells them what condiments to put on their hamburgers, who can’t tell the difference between Soviet Communism and a Stafford loan, but can certainly tell the difference between being mocked and being taken seriously.

CEO Pay: There Is Something Wrong with This

Sarah Jaffe reports on the current disparity between the pay of the CEOs and the pay of their workers. It’s unconscionable but corporate America won’t let anyone do anything about it. The way the system works is rigged in favor for large corporate entities. They are running things, and corporations are psychopaths. In fact, since Reagan, they’ve been fostering it. And you wonder why there’s no money for universal healthcare. Instead of paying less taxes, companies and CEOs should be paying more taxes. But thanks to tax havens and corporate accounting practices, they probably pay less taxes than the average American.

Walmart workers, meanwhile, make around $8.75 an hour—about $18,000 a year. They’d have to work over a million years to approach what the chairman of Walmart Stores is sitting on. Alice and Jim Walton each have about $20 billion, and Christy Walton has $24 billion.

That top percentile takes home more than 20 percent of the personal income in the country, and their average income is $5.4 million. The average income of the bottom 90 percent, according to the Post, is just $31,244.

They began to change fast in the ‘80s, with Reagan’s deregulation-first agenda—in 1980, CEOs made 42 times what workers made; now it’s 343 times. This, coupled with the failures of communism in practice, led to what British author Mark Fisher calls “capitalist realism”—the idea that there is no alternative and so we’re stuck with what we’ve got. It might not be fair that the company CEO makes hundreds of times your salary, but that’s the way the system is, and it’s the best system we’ve got.

To suggest there might be anything wrong with corporations paying CEOs millions is treated like heresy.

—the Post notes that we belong in the company of Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Uganda, and Jamaica in terms of raw wealth disparity.

Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that companies with billions held offshore—including companies we all know and use, like Google, Apple, and Microsoft—are asking for a “repatriation” tax holiday to bring that money back to the U.S. In other words, they want to drop the rate they’d pay on that money—$29 billion from Microsoft alone—to 5.25 percent from the 35 percent it is normally, as a reward to them for bringing their money back home.

The kicker to that is that even 5 percent of that cash would be a much-needed jolt of revenue for the U.S. economy, but the last time such a deal was offered, companies shipped money home only to return it to shareholders, lay off workers, close plants, and make plans for the next time the government would reward them for pretending to be patriotic. Merck, the Times notes, “brought back $15.9 billion in October 2005. The next month, it unveiled a restructuring plan to cut 7,000 jobs.”

Robert Watts: Changing Attire to Get Respect in the College Classroom

Robert Watts experimented with wearing beautiful suits every day to work this year and here is what happened to his undergraduate classes.

Classes this year seemed more relaxed, in the best sense of word. Student discussions have been livelier, and comments and questions have seemed more probing and sincere. Where I had thought the suit would create distance, it turns out it has created more trust. Of course, these judgments are uncertain as students change, classes change, and how I act in the classroom is always changing.

In the fall term, I had a record number of students come to office hours for help with papers. These students had the best attitude toward revision suggestions of any students I have ever taught. They didn’t resist or object. They brought questions and sought help.

Errol Morris on the Invention of Email

This is the first part of a five-part series on the NYT by Errol Morris. I’ve finished the first and I’m starting the second part today. They make very interesting reads.


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ranjitwithkinginbehand.jpgI'm Range, your host. On the menu, photos, art, stories, entertainment and reviews. Links, maths, education and social issues. I'm in Quebec (Canada) or Taiwan (R.O.C.). Follow me on Twitter.

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