615 Articles


2 years Ago

Analyzing a LateStageCapitalism meme

Published by marco on

There was a meme posted to Reddit at How are we supposed to live? that discusses the costs of various features of life now vs. 40 years ago.

The discussion petered out quickly when someone posted a refutation from Meme Policeman. In fairness, it didn’t exactly refute the meme, but questioned its numbers and tried to put them into a better context.

I responded with the following comment,

It’s not just the cost of these things, but also the value obtained for the money.

While offering more... [More]

Leaving Syria

Published by marco on

The article Trump gets it (half) right by John Quiggin (Crooked Timber) is about Trump’s recent decision to pull U.S. troops out of Syria. In it, he makes the following point:

“[…] the history of US involvement in the Middle East has been one of consistent failure at least for the last 40 years. […] Reagan in Lebanon, 40 years of failure on Israel-Palestine, failed confrontation on Iran, incoherent attempts to influence oil supplies, and, of course, the second Iraq War including the rise of ISIS).”

Pulling out of Syria... [More]

A discussion about RussiaGate

Published by marco on

Is RussiaGate a giant pile of smoke? Just listen to two defenders of it, James Risen and Jane Bradley[1] in this video CIJ Logan 2018: Collusion or the New McCarthyism? by CIJ (Vimeo).

Risen circumlocutes into a summation that says that the Russians almost certainly didn’t do anything worthwhile, but that they tried real hard to do something, even if that something can’t be proved. He backs off considerably on the main RussiaGate accusations, although he is a stickler for terminology. It’s just that this... [More]

Why do we need Jobs?

Published by marco on

You’ll very often hear politicians, pundits and pretty much everyone talk about “jobs” as the be-all, end-all of the economy.

But why do we all need jobs? To stay busy?

Jobs are a means whereby the needs of a society are provided by its members. People have certain needs in order to survive—food and shelter being two of them. We’ll get to others later. A society is filled with people, each of whom need food and shelter.

Let’s imagine the beginning: each member fending for itself. There is... [More]

The State of the World

Published by marco on

How not to be ignorant about the world by Hans and Ola Rosling (YouTube)

This video poses a few interesting questions about the state of the world. The two presenters argue that we should be less pessimistic about certain features of global society. For example, extreme poverty and deaths by natural disaster have all gone down significantly. There is almost global parity between men and women on number of years of schooling. These are all good things.

However, they seem to play fast and loose with some statistics. They use the statistics about people in extreme... [More]

Sohaila Abdulali Interview

Published by marco on

I just listened to this interview with Sohaila Abdulali, the author of the book What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape. This is an incredibly lucid, pragmatic, sensitive and occasionally funny interview.

On rape and the conversation about rape by Sohaila Abdulali (This is Hell)

“I never forgot what happened to me. I wouldn’t say I ‘got over’ it, in the same sense I wouldn’t say I ‘got over’ the fact that my father died. Both of those things are awful, but here I am. I figured it out. I feel bad sometimes, and often I don’t.... [More]”

3 years Ago

YouTube content warnings

Published by marco on

At first, YouTube stopped bringing certain subscribed content into newsfeeds – unless you explicitly marked that subscription as “show all content”. Shows like Redacted Tonight weren’t exactly being suppressed, but they weren’t being promoted in the same way that much-more mainstream content was being promoted. However, if people simply browse the next item suggested by Google, slack-jawed and dull-eyed, then it amounts to suppression, in the end.

Now, YouTube/Google is plastering warnings on... [More]

Acknowledging and punishing crime

Published by marco on

Louis C.K. did 15 minutes at a stand-up club last week. The audience seemed to like it. They gave him a standing ovation.

This is not allowed because he copped to sexual-harassment allegations less than a year ago. He is a pariah and has been ostracized for it. That is his punishment. It’s unclear how long this is to last, but one year is definitely not enough.

There was never a ruling and his exile was more-or-less self-imposed, but it’s been made very clear that he should never be allowed... [More]

Go Down Swinging

Published by marco on

This is taken from Chris Hedges, “America: The Farewell Tour” (1h 12m) by Chris Hedges (YouTube), a truly excellent talk Hedges gave at a bookstore in New York.[1]

“We’re talking about revolution, by the way – we’re talking about the overthrow[2] of the corporate state. Because these people are going to kill us, and they’re going to kill my children.

“And, in the end, these corporate forces have us, they have us by the throat – and they have my kids by the throat. And I don’t know if we’re going to win – I don’t even know... [More]”

Greenfield responds to a nation gone mad

Published by marco on

From the article, The Constitution Will Survive, If We Deserve It by Scott H. Greenfield (Simple Justice), which attempts to address the absolutely hyperbolic and absurd hysteria surrounding Kavanaugh’s inevitable nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“This isn’t how the law works, how courts work, how the process works. It’s really quite absurd. Worse than absurd, it feeds the craziness and ignorance that makes people hysterical about the future, that there is no hope. The solution to Trump isn’t to rewrite the Constitution, to... [More]”

Empathy for Immigrants

Published by marco on

“How can those people not know how things work here? How can they abandon and/or endanger their children?How can they not know they’re going to get caught?”

Think of your own culture, of the many idioms, historical events and nuances of language that influence your quotidian actions. Think of how much work it is to know implicitly what is possible and what isn’t, what is acceptable, how things are done. Many of our cultural idiosyncrasies blossom from large or small events in the past, spreading... [More]

Escalating Assange’s Torture

Published by marco on

 If nothing else, Julian Assange’s continued imprisonment lays bare the West’s hypocrisy about rule of law and about human dignity. Whatever you may feel about Assange’s journalism or views or connections, the man has not been charged with a crime but is a de-facto political prisoner in the heart of London. His jailers would almost certainly prefer to drone-bomb him but they certainly seem satisfied with the stalemate that results in him rotting in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

They are... [More]

The Story of Jerusalem

Published by marco on

President Trump did something supposedly unprecedented recently: he acknowledged Jerusalem as the de-facto capital of Israel and vowed to move the U.S. embassy there.

When I heard this, I wondered what the uproar was about, since I was sure it wasn’t the first time I’d heard something like this. I couldn’t quite place my finger on it, though. I couldn’t remember whether it was Bush or Obama who’d said something similar, or whether they’d said it during their campaign or as President.

Granted,... [More]

Born on third, thinks he hit a triple

Published by marco on

This HackerNews comment by notacoward (Hacker News) on the article Entrepreneurs Aren’t a Special Breed – They’re Mostly Rich Kids by Nimmala (Asia Times) offers a lovely analogy for what it takes to succeed as an entrepeneur.

“Entrepreneurship is like one of those carnival games where you throw darts.

“Middle class kids can afford one throw. Most miss. A few hit the target and get a small prize. A very few hit the center bullseye and get a bigger prize. Rags to riches! The American Dream lives on.

“Rich kids can afford many throws. If they want... [More]”

My problem with John Oliver in a nutshell

Published by marco on

The article John Oliver, Dustin Hoffman have heated exchange over sexual harassment claims illustrates exactly why we should be very careful of whom we let carry our flag for us. Many people like John Oliver because he generally punches upward and he’s quite funny. His schtick is wearing a little thin, but he’s still pretty funny.

He took some time off of obsessing over every detail of Donald Trump’s life recently to interview Dustin Hoffman about sexual allegations.[1] When Hoffman said that “it... [More]”

Short take: Greenfield on Peterson

Published by marco on

The article The Non-Apology To Lindsay Shepard, Eh? by Scott H. Greenfield (Simple Justice) sums up my opinion of Jordan Peterson better (more succinctly, at least) than I could:

“I’ve never been comfortable with Toronto psychology professor Jordan Peterson. Much as I agree with his position that people can’t make up their own gender pronouns and demand others use them, under force of law, there’s something unseemly about him. Too self-promotional. Too one-note. Too . . . obvious.”

The article itself is about a professor in Canada... [More]

4 years Ago

The economic theory of human mobility

Published by marco on

The article Katko, Tenney to Donald Trump: Don’t tell people to leave Upstate NY discusses President Trump’s recent statement about Upstate New York:

“When you have an area that just isn’t working like upper New York state, where people are getting very badly hurt, and then you’ll have another area 500 miles away where you can’t get people, I’m going to explain, you can leave. It’s OK. Don’t worry about your house.”

Trump is only one of many people who think that the answer to an utterly failed... [More]

Our tools versus theirs

Published by marco on

We’re told that democracy is the mechanism whereby we can effect change in our society. While true, it is irrelevant in all but the most trivial of applications.

For example, legislators in the US are legally allowed to take money from lobbyists and corporations. There are some restrictions, but, for the most part, bribery is legal. And it seems to work quite well. How does democracy help us combat this? We can elect other people, people that don’t take bribes. What if none are running for... [More]

Correspondence on Trump/Obama with a friend

Published by marco on

I received a response to some recent articles from a friend. He reads English fluently, but is much more comfortable writing in Italian, while my strengths are reversed. We agreed long ago to communicate bilingually to maximize expressiveness.

In a recent mail, he referenced two of my articles Once more unto the breach and Avoiding Distraction.

His comments are quoted below—I have translated them from the Italian—followed by my responses.

“You exalt the initiative of Trump versus the... [More]”

Public Service Announcement: Redacted Tonight

Published by marco on

I’ve written several times about Redacted Tonight this year already, but I’m damned if that show doesn’t keep topping itself. The shows from the last two weeks have again been well-worth watching, providing unvarnished international news.

Yesterday’s show was about the complicity of mainstream media in the glorification of U.S. violence around the world. Lee shows examples from CNN, MSNBC and FOX where the reporting on America’s weapons of mass destruction is pornographic. A correspondent... [More]

The French Presidential Elections of 2017

Published by marco on

I’ve been trying to get a grasp on the candidates before the election tomorrow. The following article comprises those notes and impressions. Maybe it will help someone else, but be aware that my primary sources are not French (though I did read through a few Wikipedia pages on candidates in French). As always, grain of salt, YMMV etc. etc.

I’ve read more widely, but the citations below come from three articles, Big Stakes in the French Presidential Election: Governance Versus the People by Diana Johnstone (CounterPunch) and The... [More] by Diana Johnstone (CounterPunch)

Once more unto the breach

Published by marco on

We have more information then ever, but know less. The world is almost bereft of journalists. Almost every single person who you think is a journalist is instead a media personality. They are readers, not thinkers, not analysts. They know almost no history. What they do know is wrong, or viewed through such a strong partisan lens as to make no difference.

Most of what you read in articles is actually partially transcribed press releases. Or partisan think pieces based on them. There is little... [More]

The Omphaloskepsis of the Faux-left

Published by marco on

Once you become aware of the self-indulgence of first-world media like the New York Times, you can see it everywhere. Their reporting, such as it is, is almost irony-free. It’s fake, a balsam designed to keep you calm and happy in your comfortable first-world cocoon.

Empathizing with the Elite

This is literally the worst thing to happen to anyone, ever.

For example, the article You May Want to Marry My Husband by Amy Krouse Rosenthal (New York Times) is about as manipulative as they come—and privileged. The author writes about... [More]

Avoiding distraction, part I

Published by marco on

Since the last election, America has become obsessed with synonyms for propaganda—fake news, alternative news—a focus that is, ironically, propaganda. Anything that doesn’t fit a particular worldview is fake news. The sources that trumpet the most about this are the ones I would trust the least: when did CNN or the CIA become purveyors of truth? This newly popular obsession is a distraction.

 Ted Rall 'Protesters Against Trump'After a week of tweets and executive orders, we see that Trump thinks he really did mean a bunch of... [More]

Bernie Sanders on the EPA, military and the ACA

Published by marco on

In 12 minute, Bernie provides some very good context and puts some budget numbers in perspective. He takes Trump to task about how he lies about supporting the environment and what his budget increase for the military could pay for.

Bernie Sanders' […] Response To Trump's Speech To Congress (YouTube)

Bernie says that the $83 billion extra that Trump wants for the military for next year could also pay for all qualified public-university students as well as make a good start on helping other students with their loans. That 83 billion could pay for single-payer... [More]

George W. Bush’s newest book

Published by marco on

 Portraits of courageIt could have been better-timed—April 1st is still almost a month away—but George W. Bush has published yet another book, this one called Portraits of Courage: A Commander in Chief’s Tribute to America’s Warriors.[1]

This is a book of Mr. Bush’s paintings. His subjects are American soldiers. Just their faces, if the cover is any indication. To be honest, I think he’s gotten better over time. He’s definitely found his own style. We’re a long way from those odd bathtub and shower paintings.

 Bush inception showerAs... [More]

Lee Camp > John Oliver

Published by marco on

I’m still watching John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight, but I feel he’s slipping. He’s retreating to the safety of slagging on Trump almost exclusively which is both not very funny and not very helpful. Oliver is fading into the same vanilla and safe faux-leftism that characterized his ideological predecessors Jon Stewart and, to a lesser degree, Stephen Colbert.

Both Stewart and Colbert loved the military. By the end of their respective runs, their opposition to military adventures was not no... [More]

Russian Naval Attack (j/k)

Published by marco on

CNN is fake news. CNN is pure government propaganda. They may not be stumping for the current administration, but they’re definitely pushing somebody’s war-hawk agenda. Remember, CNN was born in the cauldron of the first U.S. Gulf War: it knows where the money is. It would be only too happy to make a ton of money reporting a juicy war with Russia. Don’t believe for a minute that CNN has any scruples.

I will prove this with a single article I found as the top search result for “Russian boat... [More]

Snubbing the New York Times

Published by marco on

As it appears, the New York Times, The LA Times, CNN and other august news-gathering organizations like Politico and Buzzfeed have been barred from a press briefing. Clearly the republic teeters. When The Gray Lady is snubbed, can internment camps be far behind? As you would expect, this immediately became a first-amendment, nay, a constitutional issue for the faux-Left, with the NYT at the forefront, hoisting its own banner high.

I don’t think press briefings are in the Constitution, though,... [More]

Voting with your feet, not your mind

Published by marco on

It would seem that the country is ripe for revolution, given the coverage of protests and unrest since the inauguration of The Donald. But the title of the article Incumbent Reelection Rates Higher Than Average in 2016 by Kyle Kondik and Geoffrey Skelley (UVA Center for Politics) reveals the sad truth. Whereas Americans have learned how to march again, they still don’t know how to to use their civic tools to get what they want.

“This election cycle, 393 of 435 House representatives, 29 of 34 senators, and five of 12 governors sought reelection (several of... [More]”