Friday, April 11, 2014

From YouTube: I Am a Ukranian (Yulia Marshevska)

From Charlie Rose: Women Speak Truth to Power

Women Speak Truth to Power with Nadezhda Tolokonnikova & Maria Alyokhina of Pussy Riot; writer Masha Gessen; Political activists Ruslana & Yulia Marushevska. (4-7-2014)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

A Definition From Webster’s Dictionary

by Dee Newman

I am more than pleased to admit that the following Webster’s definition, in part, describes who I am, or at the very least, who I want to be:
– adjective (a word that qualifies or describes a noun) 
1. Possessing or manifesting a free and generous heart; bountiful.
2. Appropriate or fitting for a broad and enlightened mind.
3. Free from narrowness, bigotry or bondage to authority or creed.

– noun (a word used as the name of a particular person, place or thing) 
Any person who advocates liberty of thought, speech and/or action.
Personally, I believe that most loving, kind, compassionate, understanding, fearless and sane human beings would be honored to be identified by the above description.

However, over the last 30 to 40 years the word ‘liberal’ has been so corrupted and sullied (especially on conservative talk radio and Fox News) that many who once were proud to call themselves 'Liberals' cower under the malicious assault. Not me!

Those who have abused and discredited the meaning of the word 'liberal' with their outlandish, offensive and provocative accusations are the ones who need to cringe in disgrace for their dishonorable motives and behavior.

Words have import. They signify and give meaning to objects, places and ideas. If we are ever going to be able to communicate with one another successfully, words must be respectfully used and used correctly.

*Bob, thanks for the suggestion.

From Tickld: The Difference Between Men And Women.

The Difference Between Men And Women. This Is Genius.

Let's say a guy named Fred is attracted to a woman named Martha. He asks her out to a movie; she accepts; they have a pretty good time. A few nights later he asks her out to dinner, and again they enjoy themselves. They continue to see each other regularly, and after a while neither one of them is seeing anybody else.

And then, one evening when they're driving home, a thought occurs to Martha, and, without really thinking, she says it aloud: "Do you realize that, as of tonight, we've been seeing each other for exactly six months?"

And then, there is silence in the car.

To Martha, it seems like a very loud silence. She thinks to herself: I wonder if it bothers him that I said that. Maybe he's been feeling confined by our relationship; maybe he thinks I'm trying to push him into some kind of obligation that he doesn't want, or isn't sure of.

And Fred is thinking: Gosh. Six months.

And Martha is thinking: But, hey, I'm not so sure I want this kind of relationship either. Sometimes I wish I had a little more space, so I'd have time to think about whether I really want us to keep going the way we are, moving steadily towards, I mean, where are we going? Are we just going to keep seeing each other at this level of intimacy? Are we heading toward marriage? Toward children? Toward a lifetime together? Am I ready for that level of commitment? Do I really even know this person?

And Fred is thinking: that means it was...let's see...February when we started going out, which was right after I had the car at the dealer's, which means...lemme check the odometer...Whoa! I am way overdue for an oil change here.

And Martha is thinking: He's upset. I can see it on his face. Maybe I'm reading this completely wrong. Maybe he wants more from our relationship, more intimacy, more commitment; maybe he has sensed - even before I sensed it - that I was feeling some reservations. Yes, I bet that's it. That's why he's so reluctant to say anything about his own feelings. He's afraid of being rejected.

And Fred is thinking: And I'm gonna have them look at the transmission again. I don't care what those morons say, it's still not shifting right. And they better not try to blame it on the cold weather this time. What cold weather? It's 87 degrees out, and this thing is shifting like a garbage truck, and I paid those incompetent thieves $600.

And Martha is thinking: He's angry. And I don't blame him. I'd be angry, too. I feel so guilty, putting him through this, but I can't help the way I feel. I'm just not sure.

And Fred is thinking: They'll probably say it's only a 90-day warranty...scumballs.

And Martha is thinking: Maybe I'm just too idealistic, waiting for a knight to come riding up on his white horse, when I'm sitting right next to a perfectly good person, a person I enjoy being with, a person I truly do care about, a person who seems to truly care about me. A person who is in pain because of my self-centered, schoolgirl romantic fantasy.

And Fred is thinking: Warranty? They want a warranty? I'll give them a warranty. I'll take their warranty and stick it right up their...

"Fred," Martha says aloud.

"What?" says Fred, startled.

"Please don't torture yourself like this," she says, her eyes beginning to brim with tears. "Maybe I should never have...oh dear, I feel so..."(She breaks down, sobbing.)

"What?" says Fred.

"I'm such a fool," Martha sobs. "I mean, I know there's no knight. I really know that. It's silly. There's no knight, and there's no horse."

"There's no horse?" says Fred.

"You think I'm a fool, don't you?" Martha says.

"No!" says Fred, glad to finally know the correct answer.

"It's just's that I...I need some time," Martha says.

(There is a 15-second pause while Fred, thinking as fast as he can, tries to come up with a safe response. Finally he comes up with one that he thinks might work.)

"Yes," he says. (Martha, deeply moved, touches his hand.)

"Oh, Fred, do you really feel that way?" she says.

"What way?" says Fred.

"That way about time," says Martha.

"Oh," says Fred. "Yes." (Martha turns to face him and gazes deeply into his eyes, causing him to become very nervous about what she might say next, especially if it involves a horse. At last she speaks.)

"Thank you, Fred," she says.

"Thank you," says Fred.

Then he takes her home, and she lies on her bed, a conflicted, tortured soul, and weeps until dawn, whereas when Fred gets back to his place, he opens a bag of Doritos, turns on the TV, and immediately becomes deeply involved in a rerun of a college basketball game between two South Dakota junior colleges that he has never heard of. A tiny voice in the far recesses of his mind tells him that something major was going on back there in the car, but he is pretty sure there is no way he would ever understand what, and so he figures it's better if he doesn't think about it.

The next day Martha will call her closest friend, or perhaps two of them, and they will talk about this situation for six straight hours. In painstaking detail, they will analyze everything she said and everything he said, going over it time and time again, exploring every word, expression, and gesture for nuances of meaning, considering every possible ramification.

They will continue to discuss this subject, off and on, for weeks, maybe months, never reaching any definite conclusions, but never getting bored with it either.

Meanwhile, Fred, while playing racquetball one day with a mutual friend of his and Martha's, will pause just before serving, frown, and say: "Norm, did Martha ever own a horse?"

And that's the difference between men and women.

Why I Am a Vegetarian (Vegan)

by Dee Newman

I am a vegetarian (vegan) because I am a human being, an evolved moral creature, capable of choosing one action over another. Let me explain.

The structure of my digestive system is not designed for eating other animals. Humans are vegetarians by nature. Animals who are vegetarians (herbivores) have long gastrointestinal tracts (10 to 12 times the length of their torsos) with intestinal walls that are extremely rutted, designed for maximal nutrient and mineral absorption.

In contrast, the intestines of carnivores and omnivores are very short (three to six times the length of their torsos), straight and smooth, allowing for rapid elimination of animal flesh that can putrefy quickly.

In addition to the fact that human beings have the same intestinal tract characteristics and ratio as herbivores, our saliva and stomach acidity matches theirs, as well.

We also (like other herbivores) require dietary fiber to move food through our long uneven and convoluted digestive tracts, to prevent our bowels from becoming clogged with rotting food. Carnivores do not require fiber to help move food through their short and smooth digestive tracts.

Furthermore, since our bodies manufacture all the cholesterol we need, humans have absolutely no dietary need for cholesterol. A plant-based diet is by definition cholesterol-free. Therefore, consuming cholesterol found in other animals is detrimental to our health.

In fact, aside from smoking, there is no greater health risk for humans than eating other animals. Cardiovascular disorders are the number one cause of death in the United States. The relationship between the human consumption of other animals and heart disease, breast cancer, colon cancer and strokes has been definitively substantiated. The list of other diseases which can often be prevented and/or cured by a low fat vegetarian diet include: kidney stones, gallstones, hypoglycemia, constipation, diverticulosis, irritable bowel syndrome, hemorrhoids, obesity, diabetes, prostate cancer, peptic ulcers, arthritis, gum disease, acne, pancreatic cancer, stomach cancer, hypertension, osteoporosis, ovarian cancer, and asthma, just to name a few.

I have been a total vegetarian for over 45 years. I will be 70 years old this year and in remarkable physical condition. I am living proof that human beings cannot only get all the nourishment we need from a plant based diet while maintaining good health, but in doing so avoid the pain and suffering of many diseases.

However, I did not choose to be a vegetarian for health reasons. Nor did my choice come from any adoring fondness for other animals. I chose to embrace my natural and intrinsic character for one reason and one reason only – to maintain my integrity, to be true to who I am.

I am naturally not only a vegetarian, I am also an evolved moral creature with the ability to distinguish right from wrong and to make decisions based on that knowledge. In short, I have the capability to choose one action over another.

Being a moral creature I have a responsibility to choose to act honorably. The fundamental moral principle of reciprocity, more commonly known as The Golden Rule, requires me to never allow my wanton desires to interfere with the basic needs and interest of others.

Since I have no need to consume other animals to maintain good health (in fact, consuming them is detrimental to my health), choosing to do so would be a licentious desire that would unnecessarily cause great suffering and harm to other living sentient beings, and therefore, morally wrong. It is that simple.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

From The Rachel Maddow Show (Obamacare)

‘Armageddon’ Not Brought by Obamacare Success 

Rachel Maddow reports on the rare instance in which President Barack Obama is seeking credit for a political victory - the successful implementation of Obamacare as Democrats realize the program is a potential campaign asset.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Paul Krugman from the New York Times

The Timidity Trap

There don’t seem to be any major economic crises underway right this moment, and policy makers in many places are patting themselves on the back. In Europe, for example, they’re crowing about Spain’s recovery: the country seems set to grow at least twice as fast this year as previously forecast.

Unfortunately, that means growth of 1 percent, versus 0.5 percent, in a deeply depressed economy with 55 percent youth unemployment. The fact that this can be considered good news just goes to show how accustomed we’ve grown to terrible economic conditions. We’re doing worse than anyone could have imagined a few years ago, yet people seem increasingly to be accepting this miserable situation as the new normal.

How did this happen? There were multiple reasons, of course. But I’ve been thinking about this question a lot lately, in part because I’ve been asked to discuss a new assessment of Japan’s efforts to break out of its deflation trap. And I’d argue that an important source of failure was what I’ve taken to calling the timidity trap — the consistent tendency of policy makers who have the right ideas in principle to go for half-measures in practice, and the way this timidity ends up backfiring, politically and even economically.

In other words, Yeats had it right: the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.

About the worst: If you’ve been following economic debates these past few years, you know that both America and Europe have powerful pain caucuses — influential groups fiercely opposed to any policy that might put the unemployed back to work. There are some important differences between the U.S. and European pain caucuses, but both now have truly impressive track records of being always wrong, never in doubt.

Thus, in America, we have a faction both on Wall Street and in Congress that has spent five years and more issuing lurid warnings about runaway inflation and soaring interest rates. You might think that the failure of any of these dire predictions to come true would inspire some second thoughts, but, after all these years, the same people are still being invited to testify, and are still saying the same things.

Meanwhile, in Europe, four years have passed since the Continent turned to harsh austerity programs. The architects of these programs told us not to worry about adverse impacts on jobs and growth — the economic effects would be positive, because austerity would inspire confidence. Needless to say, the confidence fairy never appeared, and the economic and social price has been immense. But no matter: all the serious people say that the beatings must continue until morale improves.

So what has been the response of the good guys?
For there are good guys out there, people who haven’t bought into the notion that nothing can or should be done about mass unemployment. The Obama administration’s heart — or, at any rate, its economic model — is in the right place. The Federal Reserve has pushed back against the springtime-for-Weimar, inflation-is-coming crowd. The International Monetary Fund has put out research debunking claims that austerity is painless. But these good guys never seem The classic example is the Obama stimulus, which was obviously underpowered given the economy’s dire straits. That’s not 20/20 hindsight. Some of us warned right from the beginning that the plan would be inadequate — and that because it was being oversold, the persistence of high unemployment would end up discrediting the whole idea of stimulus in the public mind. And so it proved. 

What’s not as well known is that the Fed has, in its own way, done the same thing. From the start, monetary officials ruled out the kinds of monetary policies most likely to work — in particular, anything that might signal a willingness to tolerate somewhat higher inflation, at least temporarily. As a result, the policies they have followed have fallen short of hopes, and ended up leaving the impression that nothing much can be done.

And the same may be true even in Japan — the case that motivated this article. Japan has made a radical break with past policies, finally adopting the kind of aggressive monetary stimulus Western economists have been urging for 15 years and more. Yet there’s still a diffidence about the whole business, a tendency to set things like inflation targets lower than the situation really demands. And this increases the risk that Japan will fail to achieve “liftoff” — that the boost it gets from the new policies won’t be enough to really break free from deflation.

You might ask why the good guys have been so timid, the bad guys so self-confident. I suspect that the answer has a lot to do with class interests. But that will have to be a subject for another column.