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Showing posts from August, 2019

US Roots of Nazi Racism

The extent to which Nazi racial theories derived from US law and literature was not mentioned in my high school history courses, nor does it come up much in polite conversation.  Hitler, though, was quite open about the extent to which his racial laws and practice were borrowed from Jim Crow laws in the US.  There are clear parallels between the so-called Nuremberg Laws and the laws that were systematically used to restrict Negro voting, property ownership, employment and education.  He also liked US immigration laws designed to restrict non-Nordics from entering the US, sterilization laws for those deemed unfit, and the US genocide of the American Indians.

It wasn't just laws.  The first half of the Twentieth Century was the high water mark of so-called scientific racism, and the US was its epicenter.  Two books in particular got a special place on Hitler's bookshelf: Madison Grant's The Passing of the Great Race, and Henry H. Goddard's The Kallikaks.

The first attemp…

The Worst

So who is really the worst President of the last 75 years or so?  Three major contenders have to be Nixon, W. Bush, and Trump.  Nixon was the only one driven out of office for his criminal conduct, but the fact is, he did some good stuff too, so let's drop him as a contender.  Trump is a terrible president, a rotten human being, and quite likely far gone into senility.  He is also likely a traitor. 

By contrast, Bush seems to be a decent and personable human being, but I still have to give him the ribbon.  Evidence:

1) He was warned that bin Laden was planning a big attack on the US, but instead of acting, he mocked his briefer and did nothing - thousands of Americans died.

2) After the attack, he rushed to spirit the bin Laden family out of the country, shielding them from interrogation.  He also actively covered up the heavy involvement of Saudis in the attack.

3) He made only a half-hearted attempt to capture bin Laden, and let him escape in order to pursue a war against a comp…

The Second Coming of God

Has the self declared "King of the Jews" and "Second Coming of God" gone off the edge?  Is he having a psychotic break?  Some shrinks think so, but not to worry, the faithful still worship him and Moscow Mitch and Leningrad Lindsey still have his back.

What is Culture?

One of the most popular myths is the notion that there used to be an ideal culture that was disrupted by evil forces, colonial conquest, immigration, television or whatever that could be gotten back to if only.  It is a myth because culture is something that is created continuously by the people living in it, in response to the environment, contact with other cultures, history, and the continuing genius of the people living it.

I think that the biggest revelation for me in Pinker's book The Language Instinct was the fact that groups of people thrown together without a common language spontaneously invent one.  This is true even for deaf children who can't speak or hear - they invent a sign language.  It only takes about a generation, but the invented language is full featured, richly expressive, and internally complete.

It appears that the same is true of culture.  When Zora Neale Hurston went back to her birthplace to anthropologically investigate her fellow southern blacks, …

Greenland

Trump is reportedly contemplating trying to buy Greenland, perhaps contemplating all the potential golf courses after global warming does its work.

Personally, I'm kinda hoping Canada would buy the US.  Would selling Texas back to Mexico help sweeten the deal?

A Humane And Effective Immigration Policy

I start with three fundamental principles: 1) We don't want unlimited immigration, 2)We need much of the labor our millions of undocumented immigrants provide, 3)Our policies should be as humane as possible consistent with 1 and 2.

Current policy targets the undocumented with terror campaigns but almost always ignores employers.  My policy would reverse this - only the employers of undocumented immigrants would be targeted.   If ICE were to raid, say, a Trump enterprise and found 100 undocumented workers, the workers would be ignored but the employer would be fined on a sliding scale - say $100 for one undocumented, $1000 for each more than ten, and $10,000 for each more than 40.  Higher fines if necessary to suppress illegal employment.  This would be far easier to enforce than current policies targeting individual workers.  There would be no sanctions for the individual workers, though they would likely lose their jobs.

Guest worker programs:  Many more guest workers would be pe…

Immigration: Waves and Crises

Hysteria over immigration is hardly new.  The US saw large waves of immigration from 1890 to 1910 and reacted strongly with riots, discrimination and federal action.  Books and pamphlets warned of contamination of the nation by inferior races.  In that case, the "inferior races" everyone was worried about were Italians, Poles, Jews and other East and South Europeans.
A book that embodied the spirit of the times was: The Passing of the Great Race, by Madison Grant.  Grant was a highly educated New England patrician, an explorer, naturalist, and a pioneer in attempting to preserve the Bison and other rapidly disappearing fauna of the American West.  After these adventures, he devoted himself to the study of so-called scientific racism, and his book summarized and popularized these notions.

His book was rooted in the idea of separate origins of the various races of man, and the notion that there were higher and lower races.  The highest races, he proclaimed, were the Nordic or…

Coverup

Jeffrey Epstein's apparent suicide today stinks of coverup.  Police and prosecutors had clear indications of a risk of suicide or murder when he was previously found unresponsive in his cell with marks on his neck.  Those have never been publically explained.  Moreover, the "suicide" if that's what it was, was simultaneous with the first release of testimony implicating many powerful people in Epstein's pedophile ring and the coverup of his first conviction.

With every reason to believe that Epstein was about to commit suicide, or be murdered, he was somehow allowed to have the means and opportunity to kill himself - either that, or he was murdered in his cell.

India Stirs the Pot in Kashmir

There is plenty of blame to go around in the long running India-Pakistan conflict over Kashmir, but the latest move comes from India.  Kashmir is a popular contender in the "most likely to trigger a nuclear war" trouble spot lottery, and India got a bloody nose in their last attempt to gin up a conflict there, so why now?
Beats me, but religious fanatics in India seem to be driving the bus now.
Government authorities severed internet connections, mobile phone lines and even land lines, casting Kashmir into an information black hole that made it very difficult to discern what was unfolding. For years, India’s Hindu nationalists have wanted to curtail the special freedoms enjoyed by Kashmir, a mountainous, predominantly Muslim territory that has turned into a tinderbox between India and Pakistan, both of which wield nuclear arms. If another conflict starts there, and it turns nuclear, there would likely be millions of casualties, many of them in neighboring China, which would…

Headline: Trump Claims Deadly El Paso, Dayton Shootings Were Caused By ‘Mental Illnes

So when can we schedule his (Trump's) lobotomy.  Can't be soon enough.

That Devil Ag

Agriculture gave us the civilization and the world we live in today, but it was hardly a win-win for the human race during most of its existence.  I previously mentioned a few of the downsides: epidemic disease, malnutrition, war, slavery, bankers and lawyers.

I would like to focus here on how agriculture created hierarchy and the repression of women.  Mobile hunter-gathers (HG) have hardly any property - only what one can carry.  Similarly they have few children, because a woman can usually only carry one.  Once agriculture is created, land becomes the central item of property, and it cannot be moved and is capable of only limited subdivision if it's to sustain the owner.  Since farmers typically have many children, usually only the oldest son can inherit.  Others become landless, with the option of going to war or becoming landless workers.  Almost always, land ownership becomes increasingly concentrated in the hands of a wealthy few, and societies usually divide up into the rel…

12 Years, 10 Years, 18 Months - Yesterday?

Supposedly what scientists say is how much time we have to do something drastic about carbon emissions.

It's a crock, but not because drastic climate change isn't happening.  To start with, a lot of climate change is already baked in the cake.  Even if we could stop emitting carbon tomorrow, or yesterday, or even last year,  oceans would continue to rise, the Arctic and Antarctic would continue to melt, and heat waves will continue to get worse.

Of course the more carbon we emit, and the longer we continue emission, the worse it will get.

So it's past time to start thinking about amelioration as well decarbonization.

On a possibly more optimistic note, I recently drove through big chunks of the Mojave and Sonoran deserts.  One interesting thing I saw was hundreds or maybe thousands of acres of mostly new solar panels. Much of this land is very desolate, so solar panels don't crowd out any other human uses.  The Sun shines nearly every day there.

The US generates a bit …