To tell the truth
November 29th 2011
I was reading the latest on the Leveson inquiry, which is the British investigation into the sometimes horrible excesses of Britain’s tabloid newspaper culture. Front and center in the investigation, headed by Lord Justice Leveson, is an examination of how much damage was done to individuals who were spied upon and betrayed by the tabs. In a more general way, the panel examines how much damage these newspapers have done to British culture. Among other things the Lord Justice is tasked with is determining what, if anything, needs to be done to bring these entities to heel.
It’s the type of situation that cries out for a good dose of irony, and it came in the form of a website called “Guido Fawkes”, which published the formal statement of a witness scheduled to appear before the inquiry, three days before that scheduled date. The judge is demanding that Paul Staines, the owner of Guido Fawkes, reveal the source(s) that leaked the statement to him, and is considering what punishment is appropriate to the case, which violates the law much in the way revealing empaneled grand jury deliberations is in America.
Where the irony comes in is that Guido Fawkes, better known to English children as Guy Fawkes, is the man who tried to blow up Parliament in 1605, had his plot discovered on November 5th 1605, and was executed several months later. The fifth of November is commemorated in England as “Guy Fawkes Night,” a cheery holiday – considering – that features bonfires and fireworks and combines Halloween and Fourth of July. It is the Guy Fawkes mask that was worn by Prisoner #5, better known as “V” in “V for Vendetta” and has since gone on to become a symbol of Anonymous and Occupy. Continue reading “Guy Fawkes”
And oh, look! It’s started to snow!
© Bryan Zepp Jamieson
November 12th 2011
Matt Tiabbi hit it out of the park with a piece this week entitled “How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the OWS Protests” (available at the Rolling Stone magazine site here: http://tinyurl.com/7q9f4zh)
Tiabbi summed up the motivation behind the Occupy protests succinctly: “People don’t know exactly what they want, but as one friend of mine put it, they know one thing: FUCK THIS SHIT! We want something different: a different life, with different values, or at least a chance at different values.”
Continue reading “Now is the Winter of our Discontent”
The target isn’t “the rich”
October 29th 2011
A few days ago, Michael Moore, the documentarian and author, wrote a piece for his blog entitled “Life Among the 1%”
Moore, who has gross income – or is it just revenues? – in the region of $50 million since 1989, qualifies as a one percenter.
Now somehow, in the heads of the apologists of the GOP, that means that the 99%ers are supposed to hate Michael Moore. The idea is that he’s an eeevil plutocrat who, true to his class, feels entitled to strip America of all her assets, giving nothing in return. An idle coupon clipper who feels his justification lies in his inherited wealth. A speculator who leaves millions in poverty so he can make untold millions jacking up the price of daily necessities for personal profit. Maybe he sends hundreds of lobbyists to persuade Congress not to pass laws that might impact insurance companies, such as a decent health care program, or to understand the profits of war make a few thousand dead American kids more than worth while.
Continue reading “The 99% Solution”
The Standard Model comes under question
October 22nd 2011
The Standard Model has been a mainstay of physics for over one hundred years. A lot of it has been empirically demonstrated through a variety of experiments, and never shown to be false. For ANY theory to last that long without serious challenge is amazing, especially given how much our knowledge of the universe has expanded in just the past twenty years.
As a result, the Standard Model has gotten a little frayed around the edges. In fact, recent events pose the possibility that after all this time, physicists may have to discard Einstein and start from scratch, a truly shocking possibility.
A little over ten years ago, I discussed some of the problems I was having in coming to grips with modern physics in an essay entitled “…Well, if you say so” I acknowledged then, as now, that I do not possess the math skills needed to really understand the equations that underlie the Standard Model, although I’m in better shape then most people in that I know the three laws of Kepler and Newton, can work out the Lorentz Contractions, and possess a basic working understanding of Special Relativity.
In short, I have just enough knowledge to be a danger to myself.
Continue reading “Oh Say Can you c?”
Fighting the coming Great Depression
October 8th 2011
British Prime Minister David Cameron, who has spent the past year assuring people that the Euro would not collapse, and then that it could not collapse, and then that it must not collapse, is now reduced to hoping “the Americans won’t let it collapse.” To that end, he put in a lot of phone time with Barack Obama over this Columbus Day weekend.
That he is doing so tells us several things. The Euro is in immediate trouble. Merckel’s effort to contain a revolt among the right wing members of her parliament is unraveling. And the recent downgrades to Spain and Greece are sending shockwaves through the markets, even as they defy economic gravity.
Obama’s response, if any, will tell us what the investment sector in the US wants to see happen. Normally it would be politically impossible for Obama to get a bailout package for Europe through Congress. With the American economy on the ropes, he would have a revolt on his hands.
And nobody except the fundamentalist morons of the Church of Saint Rand think that the financial sector is capable of following its own best interests. The meltdown three years ago pretty much assured all and one that they couldn’t and wouldn’t. Even their top acolyte, Greenspan the Rationally Inexuberant essentially admitted that the markets couldn’t tie their own shoelaces.
Continue reading “Crash 2012”
Alabama has a new crop of blind boys
October 8th 2011
The California economy is still in the crapper, thanks partly to the ongoing world crisis in capitalism and thanks partly to thirty years of Republican insistence that taxpayers not be forced to pay for the items they wanted. As a result, California put a lot of needed growth items on credit in the form of state bonds, and because a lot of them were via the state initiative process – best described as brain surgery with a sledge hammer – it took an already bad economic situation and made it far worse.
Why Jerry Brown would even want to be governor again at a time like this is something of a mystery. As his predecessors discovered, governors don’t have much power to fix things, but they will get blamed for them in any event. Arnie could have been working on “Terminator 10” right now and getting compared to William Shatner. But no, he had to be a governor, and his reputation suffered as a result.
Brown is just as captured in that as Arnie was, but Brown at least brings a measure of idealism and humanity to the job that Arnie could do only sporadically. It was largely due to his pressure that he was able to shepherd California’s version of the “Dream Act” through the State Lege, and sign it today.
As the name suggests, it’s similar to the Dream Act George W. Bush proposed that would allow undocumented aliens residing in the region to be eligible for funding for college. One of the few good things Bush ever proposed, it tacitly recognized that America owed something to the people who come here and do the jobs most Americans won’t do, and that it was flat-out wrong to punish the children of these people by refusing them educational aid.
Continue reading “Water Wars”
October 6th 2011
I’ve just come back from reading the responses of a group of right wingers who were discoursing – if that’s the word for it – on the #OccupyWallStreet movement. These same people, who loudly cheered the demonstrations by the so-called Tea Party in 2009, are now utterly furious that this motley collection of “grubby, out-of-work hippies” are doing much the same thing. One even compared the moral worth of the two groups by noting that a lot less Teabaggers got arrested, compared to the Occupiers. That sort of led to a discussion on what sorts of behavior warrant arrest, and if Teabaggers, with their guns and placards comparing Obama to Hitler or the Joker, were really much better a group of protesters than the Occupiers, who usually showed a higher ability to spell their messages correctly, if nothing else.
Of course, it overlooks the basic fact that whereas the Tea Party never was anything more than a phony grass roots ad campaign cooked up by the Koch Brothers and Faux News, the Occupiers, with their slogan “We are the 99%”, actually do represent a groundswell of sentiment in America.
And that has the Teabaggers, dupes of the wealthy elite the Occupiers oppose, very nervous and upset. How dare this rabble publicly disrespect the Masters?
Continue reading “Occupy Wall Street”
September 25th 2011
The main problem with the Troy Davis execution wasn’t that the man was almost certainly innocent of the crime he was being killed for; the problem was that no civilized nation should have the death penalty in the first place.
I’m not going to discuss the particulars of the Davis case. If you somehow haven’t heard about it, there’s a million places on the web to find thousands of different opinions, pro and con.
Instead, I’m going to discuss the guilt or innocence of the people who murdered him. That would be you and me, since it was done in our names.
Troy Davis is far from unique. There are 140 men walking free today who had been on death row, found guilty of a capital crime by twelve peers on a jury and sentenced by a judge. Through the work, not of the justice system, but legal volunteers, mostly in the Innocence Project, all 140 men were saved from execution by proof that they did not commit the crime. Witnesses lied. Cops fabricated evidence. In some cases, everyone was simply mistaken. Cops, anxious to close a case that was stirring public passion, arrested someone who might plausibly by the suspect, and witnesses, anxious not to have to spend months on the case, testified with far more certainty than they felt.
Continue reading “The Death Penalty”
No longer just under the eyes
September 19th 2011
It was a sign of the times. Even as they ignored demonstrations in the Wall Street area of Manhattan, CNN breathlessly reported that in a totally meaningless straw poll in California, Ron Paul was the winner! Nearly 834 votes were cast (833, actually), and Paul got 44.9% of them, or 374 votes. Rick Perry was second with 29.3%, or 245 votes. Mittens was a distant third with 8.8%, or 73 votes. The poll didn’t break down the rest of the votes (141) but I would be very surprised if Jon Huntsman, the only other GOP candidate who isn’t a whirling loon, got ten votes. So, assuming that Mittens and Huntsman can qualify as sane, that means that out of 833 GOP delegates, 10% at most voted for candidates who are possibly sane.
Slow news day. No mechanical-orchestra type ‘debates’ from the GOP in flag-bedraped caverns that Jon Stewart memorably described as “looking like Betsy Ross’ vagina”. No Democratic politicians caught in minor sex scandals. And they didn’t care to discuss actual news stories, like the unfolding Greek debt crisis, or the UN vote on Palestine, or that Obama wants to tax capital gains like regular income.
Continue reading “Teabags”
Al Qaida lost. But so did America
September 11th 2011
A lot of people are observing the tenth anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center. Most simply want to remember the people who died that awful day, and to resolve to make such events a remote part of human history. Some want to use it to spread hate, usually against Moslems, sometimes against Jews. (That crackpot theory about how all Jews were told not to report to work at the Twin Towers on 9/11 is still making the rounds, and a lot of people still believe the Iraqis had something to do with it.)
Others simply want to keep Americans scared and docile.
It’s right and proper that we mourn the innocent dead, and condemn the sort of sick thinking that leads to such attacks. We’ll celebrate the heroism of the first responders, and those on Flight 93.
Many will question exactly what did happen that day, since much remains unresolved and unknown. The Truthers will clamor for attention even as their numbers slowly ebb.
Continue reading “9/11 Times Ten”