Weekend Update 10-29-2011

Posted: October 29th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Weekend Update | 2 Comments »

Our government is basically an insurance company with an army. That’s actually a pretty good way of putting it. I’m reminded of something the head of the CBO told a Republican member of the “super committee” in one of the committee’s few meetings. The member asked if the CBO could cost some part of the government or some program that irritated him and the savings from eliminating it. The head of the CBO said his office worked for Congress and would provide a cost/savings analysis on anything requested, but went on to tell him that on the scale of the committee’s task it would be essentially meaningless — a fraction of a percent.

Pope Benedict XVI speaks on economic justice issues.

For those who are unfamiliar with it, the White House tax receipt tool provides a pretty good tool for understanding federal government expenditures by relating it to a breakdown of the taxes you actually paid.

From 1979 to 2007, the top 1% of Americans tripled their inflation-adjusted income. I agree that class warfare is at work. The top 1% (or enough of it to implement policy) has been engaged in sustain class warfare against everyone else in our country for the past three decades. And make no mistake, they have been winning.

The Bible is not God’s revelation to man: Jesus Christ is God’s revelation to man. I’ve never suffered from the anxiety of the particular sort of modern fundamentalist literalism Fr. Stephen describes, but I’ve certainly seen and heard it at work in my SBC context.

Bailing out the banks while punishing workers is not, in fact, a recipe for prosperity. Well, duh.

Who’s decided to quit governing? Technically, you have to have governed at some point in time before you can quit. Boehner and the GOP house have refused to govern from day one.

So unless Obama agrees to sharp spending cuts, we’ll be forced into austerity? What? Why does anyone take these buffoons seriously?

So Ryan is outraged, outraged, that Obama is offering a wholly accurate description of his party’s platform. I’m shocked, I say, shocked!

Occupy Wall Street: Outing the Ringers. Well worth watching.

Richard Wilkinson: How economic inequality harms societies. Not that evidence indicates that facts have any impact on ideology.

Liespotting. All my life I’ve had something almost like a sixth sense in this regard. Most of the time, when it mattered most, I ignored it. Despite all evidence to the contrary, I’ve wanted to believe people are better than they often are. Me? I’m a pretty bad liar. Always have been.

RSA Animate – The Divided Brain. A better look into the complexity than most.

And Republicans go ballistic at Obama’s announcement that our troops are coming home from Iraq as required by the agreement Bush signed with the Iraqi government. Another great Jon Stewart segment. Shoe!

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Weekend Update 10-22-2011

Posted: October 22nd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Weekend Update | 4 Comments »

What’s the Greek for “ruled by spoiled brats”?

The GMO Emperor has no clothes!

Wall Street is whining.

Intimate Violence: Purity. Perhaps not an easy post for many to read, but one that more should read.

Frequent Bible reading can make you liberal.

I was going to do a post on the math behind Cain’s 9-9-9 plan that walked people through the process of looking at their last Federal income tax return and budget and figuring out what the impact would be on them personally. (Since apparently a large segment of our population is incapable of doing elementary school level arithmetic.) I still may if things slow down at work. In the meantime, this post has some charts that should be pretty easy for most people to understand even if the words between the pictures are beyond them.

US pay data is awful. Things are continuing to get worse. Not that I think it will have any meaningful impact on voting patterns. The American people no longer seem to be able to evaluate truth claims, even ridiculous ones like most of what we’re hearing from the current incarnation of the GOP.

For Republicans, the laws of economics change when it’s an oil company rather than a school district doing the hiring. Classic. We’re down 14 million jobs. Obama’s plan (which probably repeats the mistake of his last plan by being too small) will create 1-2 million jobs next year according to multiple independent estimates. The petroleum industry inflated report claims at best 200,000 jobs in 2012 at the cost of polluted air and water. (And if you believe their claims, there’s this bridge in Brooklyn I’m offering at a great price.) So remind me, why are people voting for these greed-consumed candidates who aren’t even bothering to hide their blatant self-interest?

Of course, as the current sociological studies referenced by Rob Bell in this sermon all show, they are actually deluded about what’s in their self-interest. The strongest predictor of social health is an inverse relationship with income inequality — that is the gap between the poorest 20% and the richest 20%. And as social health declines, life spans decrease, divorce rates increase, crime increases, and the negative impacts are felt across the board — including the top 20%. By striving to increase their percentage of the aggregate wealth of our country, the richest Americans are actually working against their own self-interest. But then, that’s what Christianity has always taught. When you are bound by a passion, you suffer from its effects and often can’t even see the damage until it’s too late or almost too late. The passion of greed is no different in that regard, and may be even more subtle and pernicious than many of the others. Perhaps that’s why Jesus spent so much time talking about it compared to all the rest. (UPDATE: Check next week’s update for a video by Richard Wilkinson discussing the findings Rob references in more detail.)

Right now, Generation X just wants a beer and to be left alone. Funny and in some ways true.

Here’s what the Wall Street protestors are upset about. It’s a pretty good set of graphs.

A running meter showing the cost of the tax cuts to the wealthiest 5% of Americans.

The Walken Dead

Things you put in your mouth, but don’t swallow …

Doctor Who: Regeneration. All of them in 10 minutes.

Scorn in the USA. Jon Stewart, as usual, is right on target. The GOP loves America, they just hate most Americans.

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Weekend Update 10-15-2011

Posted: October 15th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Weekend Update | Comments Off on Weekend Update 10-15-2011

Panic of the Plutocrats.

The seven biggest economic lies. In text and video. Check it out.

I am not God. And yet I judge as if I were.

Here’s a shocker. ISPs exaggerate the cost of data. Turns out they are a tiny fraction of the cost for fixed networks, are falling, and are likely to fall farther. Even for mobile networks, the costs are much lower than most of the companies are portraying. So basically, all their jabbering about the costs of data? It’s a pure money grab with no basis in reality. Explain to me again why we don’t need to regulate these companies? This is the full report referenced, I believe, in the above.

What the New Deal accomplished. To echo the Professor from the Narnia series, “What do they teach in schools these days?”

The GOP is not just down the rabbit hole; they’re through the looking glass.

Hmmm. Maybe this is why Republicans seem to be rejecting arithmetic altogether.

Felicia Day as Tallis in Episode 1 of Dragon Age: Redemption.

The day I turned down Tim Berners-Lee: Ian Ritchie


Weekend Update 10-08-2011

Posted: October 8th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Weekend Update | Comments Off on Weekend Update 10-08-2011

Gosh, it’s regrettable that the markets aren’t confirming my warnings! Funny, but also a sad commentary.

Americans give health insurers the thumbs down. No surprise there. The blurb at the bottom is interesting, though. The most favorably viewed insurer? Medicare.

Blessings don’t come in the form of stuff.  Blessing comes in realizing you don’t need stuff.

So, how’d that trickle-down thing work out? The graphs are pretty much self-explanatory.

Celiac diagnosis and management by practicing physicians needs to improve. It’s interesting that there’s a study on that topic.

Mind and Heart. This post helps make clear part of the distinction between the rational, cogitating mind and the nous. And that’s important to understand because a significant part of the New Testament (Romans 12:2 immediately springs to mind) has been deeply misunderstood and misrepresented because we don’t have an equivalent english word for nous. So it often ends up being translated mind and people read that as referring to the rational, active mind. In some places, I think, it is translated heart, but that doesn’t help much either as people tend to associate that with feelings. And that’s wrong in a different direction. (Thoughts and feelings are actually both products of the cogitating mind and can’t really be separated.) I’m still not entirely sure I understand what the nous actually is, but I am working on it. Frederica Mathewes-Green calls it the receptive, perceiving part of our being.

These aren’t bad points on the mortgage interest deduction. Personally, I do benefit from it. I can’t remember if we always did or not, though. However, my wife and I were in our thirties when we bought our first house. We haven’t been typical in much of anything. The point about a targeted credit being more effective at encouraging home ownership is a good one. Our older son and his wife were able to buy their first house precisely as a result of the first-time homeowner credit that was in place for a while. Personally, I would be willing to trade the small benefit I get from the mortgage interest deduction for a targeted deduction that would benefit society as a whole. I also think the capital gains tax rates need to be restored so they at least match the wage tax rates. I don’t believe it’s in our societal interest to encourage slum lords and day traders.

The Pornography of Death. I wouldn’t have thought to use the terms “basic anxiety” vs. “neurotic anxiety” but I think it helps make clear the subtle way our mortality tends to rule us — often below the level of our conscious thought. That’s the true root of our enslavement to death from which Christ died to free us. And in our modern culture, in many ways, we’ve made that subjection worse by pushing death out of the regular routine and experience of our lives into its neat hygienic bubble.

Are women more sexually adventurous than men? It’s a good article. I’ve always found the adage that men want sex and women want love (and all the variations of that duality) never matched my actual life experience. And I thought the same thing about the college study mentioned. That study doesn’t tell us much of anything about sexuality, per se. It tells us that college age men are much more likely to engage in high-risk (a nice term for “stupid”) behavior than college age women. Well, duh! In related breaking news, the earth is discovered to revolve around the sun.

Like, you know?

Battling Bad Science

The Truth About the Economy


Weekend Update 10-01-2011

Posted: October 1st, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Weekend Update | 1 Comment »

I’m sick of the ridiculous war the GOP is waging on public employees. And it’s disheartening that so many Americans actually seem to accept their blatant class warfare and open attacks on the fabric of American society. This column does a good job deconstructing their attacks. The last paragraph is right on target. If Republicans had even the slightest degree of logical consistency, they would be running on an open platform that soldiers (and policemen and firemen and school teacher and …) should “get real jobs”. They don’t put it in those explicit terms because they know they would be thrown out of office. But that is what their rhetoric means when you peel back the veneer. Have we reached such a level of general public ignorance that Americans can’t even do the simplest logical analysis of rhetoric anymore?

A particularly interesting response in these two polls on American opinions about the food industry is the one that found that 42% said the U.S. is “on the wrong track in the way we produce food,” and only 39% said we are heading in the right direction.

For those who think the US is post-racist. You’re lying to yourself.

The modern tomato and slavery.

This is a humorous look at denominational claims.

Ah those job-crushing government regulations. Of course, as we’ve already seen, facts have no impact or traction with the current version of the GOP. They appear immune to them as they’ve become the party of unreality. I don’t expect anything different with this.

Who’s behind the US Farmers & Ranchers Alliance and why it matters. BTW, if you still haven’t watched Food, Inc. you really should. It’s on Netflix streaming the last time I looked and it’s available free to Amazon Prime members in their streaming movies section.

I really like the Hold the Gluten podcast. I’m glad it’s back.

The Moral Question. Republicans have posed the deepest moral question of any society: whether we’re all in it together. Their answer is we’re not.


Saturday Evening Blog Post – September Edition

Posted: October 1st, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Misc | 1 Comment »

In this month’s edition of the Saturday Evening Blog Post, hosted by Elizabeth Esther, I shared my 9/11 reflections written on 9/13. I thought then we were a better people and a better nation than it turns out we actually are.