Friday, August 06, 2010
Thursday, August 05, 2010
"The evidence shows conclusively that moral and religious views form the only basis for a belief that same-sex couples are different from opposite-sex couples," Walker wrote.
Wednesday, August 04, 2010
We have not only the most numerous nobility of any country in the world, but perhaps the most powerful. The privileges of the nobility of other lands are limited by laws, and the King on the one hand, and the people on the other, sec that these laws are not transcended. Laws made to restrain our American nobles, have hitherto been found to be but little belter than cobwebs. If a case comes before a Court involving any of the fundamental principles of this system, the boasted " independence of the Judiciary" is soon found to be mere independence of common sense and common justice. And when infractions of the law by any great number of banks are so glaring that even "judicial blindness" can be blind no longer, the State Legislatures are forthwith convened to shelter the transgressors from the penalties they have incurred.
-- The United States Democratic Review, Volume 6, issue 23, p. 459.
That paragraph could be just as easily written today.
If a baseball player slides into home and hands the umpire a hundred dollars before the ump makes his call, we'd call it bribery. But if a businessman sitting in a skybox at the same game sidles up to a congressman and hands him a hundred dollars as that legislator contemplates a bill that might regulate said business, that's a campaign contribution.
Next, take a look at a more contemporary piece, from Amitai Etzioni:
You may not wonder why the auto dealers won exemptions in Congress from the new financial regulations. But the behind-the-scene deals the White House has made are enough to make you sick.
These include deals with private hospitals to drop the public option in exchange for their support of the health care bill and with the pharmaceutical industry to block Americans from purchasing low-cost drugs from other countries.
Some of us have learned to live with these maneuvers as long as something comes out at the other end.
However, many Americans are busy working or looking for a job, taking care of their families and trying to find some spare time to follow their favorite sports team and have a beer. But when they are made aware of these shenanigans, they are nauseated. As they should be.
I choose my words carefully. I suggest that the sense of the tea partiers that they have been had is largely a valid one. At the same time, their ideas of what ought to be done are very much off the mark.
The desire to gut the government ignores the fact that there are many important missions that the government is best-suited to accomplish. However, before those of us who do not belong to this movement can carry this message to the tea partiers, we first need to validate their feelings, rather than dismiss them.
And we must be honest: Reforming the government so that it will be less captured by special interests and more responsive to the public interest is a difficult road to navigate.
If there is anything about the Teabagging movement that pisses me off most, it is that they are SO close to having the right answer, yet cannot get past this last gasp to the truth of this nation.
Tuesday, August 03, 2010
Astroboffins are warning that a mighty "eruption" of superhot plasma has been blasted out of the Sun directly at the Earth. The plasma cloud is expected to reach Earth beginning tomorrow, possibly causing strange phenomena - including a mighty geomagnetic storm which could see the Northern Lights aurorae extend as far south as Blighty or the northern USA.
As you may or may not know, the typical solar cycle lasts about eleven years, intense activity followed by a similar period of calm. Well, the calm period extended a little, and now the buildup is about to hit us, in less than 24 hours, a coronal mass ejection has been spotted heading directly towards the earth.
It could mean as little damage as a few power lines disrupted and a lovely display of the Northern Lights. It could, and I stress this is a small possibility, mean a complete electromagnetic failure planetwide. This last is not very likely but not impossible.
On the other hand, the activity in 2013...well, that will likely create all sorts of havoc, and may cause the electromagnetic failure scientists have all but determined is inevitable, starting with cell phone outages worldwide and cascading into complete power failure on any electric grid, including solar and wind driven local grids.
To give you an idea, a solar maximum (as they're referred to) in 1921 knocked out the fledging New York City subway system. That's, um, the underground railway, you'll note.
Your best defense? Preparation, of course. Batteries. Lots of batteries. Capacitors, any type of electical storage that you can insulate from the grid will be safe unless it is directly attacked by the solar storms that will occur (remember, the night side of the planet will be relatively secure).
Consider Thursday a test run.
Monday, August 02, 2010