I have dozens of blog posts languishing in my draft file and I’ve finally decided to move them all into this file: The Isle of Misfit Posts

The files are listed in FIFO order with the date associated with their creation.





The Price of Covering the BP Oil Spill



creating a regional land use plan…

cost of sprawl…

True cost of living where you live: where the individual housing, publishing the hidden costs.

Jules Verne’s Paris In The 20th Century describes the sprawl of Paris.

Develop a universal lexicon for sprawl… Bruce Donelly. Town center is one example?

High density development vs. low density development, Angie.

Check Angie’s blog.

An MPO is a ? Municipal Planning Organization?

Miesha… You have to figure out who cuts the check…

Where you live and what do you love about it, email David Beach.

Al Norman and Sprawl Busters…

Walkability website.

cost of infrastructure and prioritizing infrastructure spending…



Jonathan Murray and I are discussing the 849-page Dodd-Frank bill or, officially, the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act/Public Law No: 111-203.

Section 203 of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 (15 U.S.C. 80b–3) is amended by adding at the end the following:

‘‘(l) EXEMPTION OF VENTURE CAPITAL FUND ADVISERS.—No investment adviser that acts as an investment adviser solely to 1 or more venture capital funds shall be subject to the registration requirements of this title with respect to the provision of investment advice relating to a venture capital fund. Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this subsection, the Commission shall issue final rules to define the term ‘venture capital fund’ for purposes of this subsection. The Commission shall require such advisers to maintain such records and provide to the Commission such annual or other reports as the Commission determines necessary or appropriate in the public interest or for the protection of investors.’’.


‘‘(A) IN GENERAL.—The term ‘illiquid fund’ means a hedge fund or private equity fund that— ‘‘(i) as of May 1, 2010, was principally invested in, or was invested and contractually committed to principally invest in, illiquid assets, such as portfolio companies, real estate investments, and venture capital investments; and ‘‘(ii) makes all investments pursuant to, and consistent with, an investment strategy to principally invest in illiquid assets. In issuing rules regarding this subparagraph, the Board shall take into consideration the terms of investment for the hedge fund or private equity fund, including contractual obligations, the ability of the fund to divest of assets held by the fund, and any other factors that the Board determines are appropriate.



Reading Creating Shared Value by Michael Porter and Mark Kramer in the January-February issue of the Harvard Buseiness Review reminds me of the many conversations I’ve had over the years with publishers and advertising sales people that sales and editorial should work together becaused everyone was working toward the same goal: profit.

Except we weren’t, hence the ongoing struggle between church and state in publishing.



Day 1, Page 1
Day 1, Page 2



Mongol General: Conan! What is best in life?

Conan: To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women.



And Bob Goldwaite…



The true equation is democracy = government by world financiers.

The main mark of modern governments is that we do not know who governs, de facto any more than de jure. We see the politician and not his backer; still less the backer of the backer; or, what is most important of all, the banker of the backer.

Throned above all, in a manner without parallel in all past, is the veiled prophet of finance, swaying all men living by a sort of magic, and delivering oracles in a language not understood of the people…

There should only be one source of money: one fountainhead from which flows the nation’s blood to vitalize commerce and industry, ensure economic equity and justice and safeguard the welfare of the people… In other words, it has always been and still is our contention that the prerogative of creating and issuing the money of the nation should be restored to the State.

No, this isn’t Frodo talking about Sauron, but rather these are the words of Frodo’s creator, J.R.R. Tolkein writing about banking.

Via Greg Coleridge



So, I’ve stayed away from Facebook and Twitter for around 12 hours. At 2000 I’ll check in and see how bad the back log is. I’ll have a timer running to see just how big of a time suck the two sites really are.

Facebook 12 alerts and one message…

25 minutes for message and 12 alerts…



IZRAEL: Thanks, Celeste. All right. Well, we turn from diversity 101 on the campaign trail to dueling dictionaries for your morning paper. Antonio Jose Vargas is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist turned activist and he was called on news organizations to stop – or he has called on news organizations to stop using the term illegal immigrants.

Now, Vargas himself came to the U.S. as a child and didn’t understand that he was undocumented for years. Fernando Vila, Univision surveyed people on using the term versus undocumented immigrant. How did people respond?

VILA: Well, just because we surveyed undocumented people…


VILA: …to see what they made of the term and it would be – the response was overwhelmingly against the use of the word illegal immigrant. I mean, I don’t think any – I think one person said it was OK. And we got over 300 responses. I think it’s important to note – I mean, Justice Anthony Kennedy, in the ruling – the Supreme Court ruling of the SB1070 law in Arizona said that it’s not a crime to be a removable alien in this country.

Being an undocumented immigrant is not a criminal offense in this country, so to call someone illegal, to sort of define their entire identity as illegal for a noncriminal offense is strange and dehumanizing and it’s just inaccurate and imprecise and I think it’s about time every news organization dropped it, including NPR, New York Times, Associated Press. Everyone should drop it. I mean, ABC and Univision has dropped it. Miami Herald has dropped it. The Huffington Post, the San Antonio Express News.

It’s just one of those things. It’s not only wrong and imprecise. It’s incredibly dehumanizing.

IZRAEL: NPR gets called on the carpet.

VILA: Yeah.

IZRAEL: Dr. Neil, where do you stand on this?

MINKOFF: I’m pretty neutral. I mean, I don’t think that the thing that matters in this debate is whether or not we call people illegal aliens or undocumented immigrants or whatever the term is or whatever euphemism we choose. I mean, the fact is that we have this gigantic population in our country that we need to figure out what the policy ramifications are and I’m pretty agnostic about how we choose – if undocumented immigrants is the proper term, I’m fine with that.

VILA: Well, the thing – the thing is that word sort of frames the debate. Right? You know, illegal implies bad. It implies they’re bad people or that they’re doing something incredibly, you know, morally heinous or that they shouldn’t be here. I mean, 70 percent of the agricultural workers in this country are undocumented. I mean, we rely on these people every single day for food, for – you know, a whole host of services, often in the shadows that we don’t see in our day-to-day lives.

And, sort of – I agree that we have to figure out the policy and that’s the most important thing, but the words used to describe these people frame the policy in a fundamental way.

HEADLEE: But, Arsalan, let me just ask you really quickly. The drive to use the word illegal comes often from people who feel that we should call people on the carpet, as Jimi likes to use. I’m not putting you in this framework.


HEADLEE: But call people on the carpet for being undocumented, for not following the law of immigration.

IFTIKHAR: Right. And, you know, as the resident lawyer here in the Barbershop, you know, I’m going to have to cosign my man Fernando on this one because, you know, the violation of immigration laws, for the most part, in this country are civil infractions. They are not criminal. And so, when you label something as illegal, you are playing into the narrative of it being some sort of criminal enterprise.

And so, you know, that’s why, you know, I fully support, you know, the use of undocumented immigrant and, you know, a lot of newspapers, depending on, you know, their political leanings, would even, you know, go so far as to say illegal aliens. Now, aliens in itself also has another negative connotation. So do catch phrases like amnesty, so you know, we have to talk about the meta-narrative that our entire American sociopolitical zeitgeist is dealing with comprehensive immigration reform.

It’s not just the legislation that’s passed on the Hill. It’s not just Supreme Court decisions, but it’s also narratives and phrases that we use in order to shape this meta-narrative.

HEADLEE: I think it’s great, though, to start it as a conversation, which will continue.



Part of a holiday letter I wrote to my daughter . . .

If you ever catch yourself feeling blue, as we all sometimes do from time to time, here are ten things that if you do three days in a row (I promise) will make you feel better.

1. In the morning write down five things you are grateful for.
2. Think about a random act of kindness you can do for someone that day.
3. Eat well (you know what that means); drink well (no coffee, soft drinks or alcohol).
4. Exercise hard for 20 minutes.
5. Write an old friend an email or better yet a letter.
6. Actively relax, meditate or pray for 10 minutes.
7. Take a walk in the sun.
8. Watch a John Hughes’ movie like “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” or “The Breakfast Club”.
9. Sleep deep and long.
10. Remember that you are loved (I promise).
Thursday at 9:25am



The Lincolnian rhetoric of “continuing revolution,” by contrast, has been the ideological cornerstone of all American wars ever since the “Civil War” (a.k.a. War to Prevent Southern Independence). It is routinely used to disguise the fact that war is always and everywhere a “racket” as General Smedley Butler, the most highly decorated Marine in U.S. history, declared in his book, War is a Racket. War is invariably waged over some hidden economic agenda for the benefit of the politically-connected class. As Rothbard further pointed out, in the past “interventionists were more correctly considered propagandists for despotism, mass murder, and perpetual war, if not spokesmen for special-interest groups, or agents of ‘the merchants of death.’’” Scarcely a high ground.

Today we “are obligated to take up the sword and wage a perpetual war to force Utopia on the entire world by guns, tanks, and bombs,” said Rothbard. We are “humanitarians with a guillotine,” as Isabel Paterson wrote in her book, The God of the Machine. We go about “pursuing freedom and equality” for other people in other countries, supposedly, even if we must kill them by the hundreds of thousands and wreck their entire societies. “The humanitarian in theory is the terrorist in action,” she wrote.

From my dad, of course…

From My Dad,Abraham Lincoln



One of the distinctions I’ve noticed between progressives and conservatives is that I’ve found progressives less certain about the answers to big questions. Conservatives, in my experience, have quick responses to complex challenges, while a progressive will vacillate among a number of options, seeking the find the nuance.

For instance, Ohioans are discussing the Common Core Standards for Education to be implemented in the 2014 school year. In particular, I have listened to and been engaged in more around Language Arts because of the



Part of my work places me in contact with adolescents manifesting a range of brain wellness issues including anxiety, Autism spectrum disorder, bi-polar disorder, depression and other conditions that directly affect how they learn.

While in Marietta this past weekend I learned of the Mental Health First Air program and decided to investigate the program here in Cuyahoga County. This morning I found that a course will be offered next month at the



Kent Brantly always wanted to be a medical missionary, and he took the work seriously, spending months treating a steady stream of patients with Ebola in Liberia.

Now Brantly is himself a patient, fighting for his own survival in an isolation unit on the outskirts of Monrovia, Liberia, after contracting the deadly disease.

The Texas-trained [what does that have to do with the price of tea in China? JH] doctor says he is “terrified” of the disease progressing further, according to Dr David Mcray, the director of maternal-child health at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, where Brantly completed a four-year residency.

“I’m praying fervently that God will help me survive this disease,” Brantly said in an email Monday to Mcray. He also asked that prayers be extended for Nancy Writebol, an American co-worker who also has fallen ill with Ebola.

Associated Press in US doctor fighting Ebola in Liberia ‘praying fervently God will help me’ in The Guardian.

If this doctor is spending a single second praying to a non-existent figment of his imagination rather than bringing every ounce of scientific knowledge, training and skill to fight this horrible epidemic, then he is guilty of malpractice.



The steady march of judicial approval for same-sex marriage over the past year ran into some skepticism here on Wednesday as a three-judge federal appeals panel heard arguments in six same-sex marriage cases from four states.

In three hours of back-and-forth questioning, it appeared that neither side could take victory for granted in the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, where the cases from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee were heard by two judges appointed by President George W. Bush and one by President Bill Clinton.

Eric Eckholm writing in One Court, Three Judges and Four States With Gay Marriage Cases for The New York Times.



America: Exceptionally good or exceptionally evil?

One sides loves the America of Columbus and the Fourth of July, of innovation and work and the “animal spirit” of capitalism, of the Boy Scouts and parochial schools, of traditional families and flag-saluting veterans. The other side loves the America of tolerance and social entitlements, of income and wealth redistribution, of slave-revolts and the civil rights movement, of Indian rights and women’s rights, of sexual liberation and abortion, of gay rights and gay marriage.

[B]oth sides believe America is exceptional, but one side believes America is exceptionally good while the other believes that America is exceptionally evil. Even here, the former group hates certain aspects of contemporary America while the latter affirms those same aspects, such as government-administered national health care or heterosexual and homosexual promiscuity advanced under the banner of “moral freedom.”

Let’s begin with Tocqueville, who observes at the outset that America is a nation unlike any other. It has produced what Tocqueville terms “a distinct species of mankind.” Tocqueville here identifies with what will later be called American exceptionalism. For Tocqueville, Americans are unique because they are equal. This controversial assertion of the Declaration – that all men are created equal – Tocqueville finds to be a simple description of American reality. Americans, he writes, have internalized the democratic principle of equality. They don’t bow and scrape in the way that people in other countries – notably in France – are known to do. In America, unlike in Europe, there are no “peasants,” only farmers. In America, there are employees, but no “servants.” And today America may be the only country where we call a waiter “sir” as if he were a knight.

So, Tocqueville visited The United States in 1831-2. How did he miss all of the bowing and scraping (not to mention beatings, rapes and murders) taking place in the southern states?

Tocqueville and Foucault – two very different men, separated not only by different temperaments, but also by a century and a half. Tocqueville visited a very different America than Foucault did. In a way, they each witnessed and celebrated a certain type of freedom. Tocqueville celebrated the spirit of 1776 – a spirit of enterprise and voluntary organizations and religious freedom. Foucault celebrated the spirit of 1968 – not freedom of enterprise or America as a force for freedom in the world, but rather pelvic freedom – the freedom of gay promiscuity and pedophilia.



Previously on Have Coffee Will Write

Dr. Susan Hough is



How about mandatory voting that requires voting to get a tax refund?

How about a tax break for voters?

How about electronic voting from home?

How about a “none-of-the-above” rule that says that in any race where “NOTA” gets more votes than the No. 1 candidate, the race is declared null-and-void and voters get a do-over in 90 days?



The Texas town where America’s oil and natural gas boom began has voted to ban fracking, in a stunning rebuke to the industry.

Denton, a college town on the edge of the Barnett Shale, voted by 59% to ban fracking inside the city limits, a first for any locality in Texas.

Organisers said they hoped it would give a boost to anti-fracking activists in other states. More than 15 million Americans now live within a mile of an oil or gas well.

“It should send a signal to industry that if the people in Texas – where fracking was invented – can’t live with it, nobody can,” said Sharon Wilson, the Texas organiser for EarthWorks, who lives in Denton.

An energy group on Wednesday asked for an immediate injunction to keep the ban from being enforced. Tom Phillips, an attorney for the Texas Oil and Gas association, told the Associated Press the courts must “give a prompt and authoritative answer” on whether the ban violates the Texas state constitution.

Athens in Ohio and San Benito and Mendocino counties in California also voted to ban fracking on Tuesday. Similar measures were defeated in Gates Mills, Kent and Youngstown, Ohio, as well as Santa Barbara, California.

Suzanne Goldenberg writing in Texas oil town makes history as residents say no to fracking for The Guardian



There’s a lot of unfinished business when it comes to protecting civil rights for many people. That fight is visible in every story about activists pushing for comprehensive US immigration reform. It’s obvious when protesters take to the streets after white police officers kill unarmed people of color and face few if any consequences, as in the recent cases of Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson and Eric Garner’s death in New York.

The fight for justice for the transgender community is largely invisible to our fellow citizens, despite the rampant systematic discrimination of trans people – those whose gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth.

Unfortunately, it seems to me that when it comes to issues affecting the trans community, most people who are cisgender – a word describing those people whose gender identity is in alignment with the sex they were assigned at birth – focus too much on the administrative, legal and medical aspects of trans identity. Such a focus on these institutional definitions of gender is constricting, and too often it leads to difficult obstacles for most trans people.

Take something as basic as obtaining photo identification. Many people need photo ID for their workplace. You need one to drive, you often need one to vote – especially with many US states passing disenfranchising “voter ID” laws.

For many in the trans community, just applying for basic identification documents is a hostile experience. You’re told you don’t belong because you don’t fit into one of the tiny boxes offered by the system. And for those of us in the military, this civil rights violation of trans people’s basic identity is downright life-threatening.



Non Sequitur 1108

Zen Pencils Kevin Smith

Dilbert 1111

Derf Mr. Rogers

Derf 0903

Non Sequitur

Derf on Hunter S. Thompson

Non Sequitur



California farmers resign themselves to drought: ‘Nobody’s fault but God’s’

If enough of us decide that climate change is a crisis worthy of Marshall Plan levels of response, then it will become one

It is our great collective misfortune that the scientific community made its decisive diagnosis of the climate threat at the precise moment when an elite minority was enjoying more unfettered political, cultural, and intellectual power than at any point since the 1920s

Florida banned state workers from using term ‘climate change’ – report




I’ve voted for every Democratic party candidate for president since Jimmy Carter at least once (I voted third party in 1996 and 2012), but I will not be voting for the party’s candidate in 2016, regardless of who that candidate is, because, to steal a line from President Reagan, the party left me.

The best third party candidate gets my vote in 2016

In the very unlikely case that Clinton’s election does fall to that 50 percent plus one, I will not be that one.

Jeff Hess
Have Coffee Will Write



Tom Engelhardt’s essay The New American Order has been on my second-reading pile for several weeks and after listening to WCPN’s discussion about the 2016 elections yesterday on my drive to work, I turned back to Engelhardt piece to consider again his thoughts. He begins:

Have you ever undertaken some task you felt less than qualified for, but knew that someone needed to do? Consider this piece my version of that, and let me put what I do understand about it in a nutshell: based on developments in our post-9/11 world, we could be watching the birth of a new American political system and way of governing for which, as yet, we have no name.

And here’s what I find strange: the evidence of this, however inchoate, is all around us and yet it’s as if we can’t bear to take it in or make sense of it or even say that it might be so.

Let me make my case, however minimally, based on five areas in which at least the faint outlines of that new system seem to be emerging: political campaigns and elections; the privatization of Washington through the marriage of the corporation and the state; the de-legitimization of our traditional system of governance; the empowerment of the national security state as an untouchable fourth branch of government; and the demobilization of “we the people.”





non sequitur 150713



You only find this new economy if you look hard for it. In Greece, when a grassroots NGO mapped the country’s food co-ops, alternative producers, parallel currencies and local exchange systems they found more than 70 substantive projects and hundreds of smaller initiatives ranging from squats to carpools to free kindergartens. To mainstream economics such things seem barely to qualify as economic activity – but that’s the point. They exist because they trade, however haltingly and inefficiently, in the currency of postcapitalism: free time, networked activity and free stuff. It seems a meagre and unofficial and even dangerous thing from which to craft an entire alternative to a global system, but so did money and credit in the age of Edward III.



Marianne WIlliamson

There are four psychological principles that activate the power to create profound political change, including the election of Bernie Sanders as president:

  • Know that anything is possible; the last thing to worry about is what the majority thinks.
  • Remember that democracy is more than a political system; it’s an evolutionary step forward for the human race. It isn’t just our right, but also our responsibility, to protect our democracy when it’s threatened and expand it where its scope is limited.
  • Exercise emotional self-discipline. Personal negativity expressed towards individuals carrying the banner of the corporatocracy diminishes our power to create the alternative.
  • Reject the propaganda that someone else’s win is inevitable.
  • —150525—


    The last few weeks have been particularly hectic and now I’m playing catchup with my backlog of stories. Because I don’t want these to be buried, I’m going to temporarily back-link to the pieces as I post them beginning with:





    When I was a teenager I recall a variety of posters and t-shirts that carried a variety of takes on the message: Patience, hell. Let’s kill something. Years later, when I was in the Navy, I came across Admiral Hyman Rickover’s dictum that: Good ideas are not adopted automatically. They must be driven into practice with courageous impatience. The Admiral’s thought is delivered more eloquently than that of the buzzard, but the message is essentially the same.

    Yet, there is great power in patience. I’ve learned this from decades of meditation. Oliver Burkeman, writing in Why patience really is a virtue for The Guardian, explores this power.

    Historically speaking, as [author of The Power of Patience Jennifer] Roberts points out, patience was a matter of “conforming yourself to the need to wait for things”; it was a way of accepting one’s lack of control over the world. But now we don’t need to wait for most things, patience has become a form of control over the world and, as she puts it, “over the tempo of contemporary life that otherwise controls us”. In this new environment, there’s nothing remotely passive about standing in front of a painting for three hours. On the contrary, it’s a subversive act. On the other side of impatience—if you can learn to wait out that jitteriness – lies power.

    When will they be expected to offer spontaneous responses, and when will they be expected to spend time in deeper contemplation?

    I want to focus today on the slow end of this tempo spectrum, on creating opportunities for students to engage in deceleration, patience, and immersive attention.

    [J]ust because you have looked at something doesn’t mean that you have seen it. Just because something is available instantly to vision does not mean that it is available instantly to consciousness. Or, in slightly more general terms: access is not synonymous with learning. What turns access into learning is time and strategic patience.



    Dear All,

    As some of you may have heard, there is some strike activity taking place on campus tomorrow.

    I want to let you know that I will not be striking, which means that I will be, so-to-speak, crossing a picket line. Moreover, I know that two of your GSIs have decided to strike, but because I happen to be free in the afternoon when they teach, and because I enjoy teaching smaller classes from time to time and I haven’t had a chance to in a while, I’ll be covering those sections. If you were planning to see me at office hours tomorrow afternoon, then feel free to come to one of the sections I’ll be covering. I will be in Stephens 230c from 2:10 to 4pm, Cory Hall 285 from 4:10pm to 5pm, and Evans Hall 6 from 5:10pm-6pm.

    The reason for me taking this decision is extremely simple: We have 7 class days left until the end of the course. Despite the fact that we’ve made good time and are likely to finish the syllabus with a few lectures in hand for review, class hours are valuable and your education is too important to just cancel a class if we don’t have to. Whatever the alleged injustices are that are being protested about tomorrow, it is clear that you are not responsible for those things, whatever they are, and I do not think you should be denied an education because of someone else’s fight that you are not responsible for. I say this with no disrespect whatsoever to the two GSIs who have decided to strike. Societies where people stand up for what they believe in are generally better than societies where people do not, sometimes dramatically so. Further, I cannot discount the possibility that I may be in the wrong on this and they may be right. I have certainly been on the wrong side of political judgements before and I’m sure I will be again. However from a practical point of view I’ve made my decision and you should all turn up to class and discussion tomorrow as normal.

    Beyond practical matters, I think it’s also worth reflecting a little on the broader relationship between politics and your education, and I think I have some important things to share on this topic that may be helpful to you.

    I do this with some trepidation. Normally I try to avoid talking about politics with my students and also my professional colleagues because people have a wide variety of views, sometimes held with great conviction and feeling. If I was to get into a political disagreement with one of you or one of my colleagues, it might get in the way of or distract us from the central mission we have of working together to give you a great education.

    However sometimes political events reach into our lives without our invitation or control, and we have no choice but to engage with each other about politics. Many times in history it has done so with far more violence and disruption than a strike, and it is wise to be psychologically prepared for this fact.

    If I’ve learned one thing about politics since I was your age, it is this: Politics, like most things in life worth thinking about, including mathematics, is very big, very complicated, and very interconnected. I’ve lived and worked in four countries on four continents, all with societies set up differently both politically and socially. I’ve discovered that there is no unique or obviously best way of setting up society. For every decision and judgement you reach, there are people who benefit and people who lose out. It’s the same with the way I teach my classes. I know that for every decision I make about how to teach you there are some of you who benefit and there are others who would do better if I did things differently. There is no way of getting around that. Every judgement you make in life is a question of balancing different interests and ideals. Reasonable good people can disagree on political questions like whether to strike or not, and they can disagree about far more contentious topics also.

    All this may sound like speaking in platitudes. However it is a point worth making to all of you because you are so young. One of the nice things about being young is that your thinking can be very clear and your mind not so cluttered up with memories and experiences. This clarity can give you a lot of conviction, but it can also lead you astray because you might not yet appreciate just how complicated the world is. As you get older you tend to accumulate life experiences to learn from, and this is the source of wisdom, but the trouble is that the lessons we glean from life do not all point in the same direction. Sometimes it is hard to tease the correct learning from the experiences life throws at us.

    So what are we to do with the fact that when we are young we lack a lot of the perspective we need to make definitive judgements about what is right, but that as we get older our judgements tend to be informed by our experiences, and these experiences guide us in contradictory ways, both between different people and within the same person?

    I don’t know.

    However one thing I do know is that you are not going to be able to avoid making these kinds of judgements, just as I cannot avoid making a judgment about whether to strike or not. Like it or not, I have to make a political choice, and I have to talk to you about it. For me, the choice not to strike is quite easy, but for you the kinds of judgements and choices you are going to face in your lives are going to be far from easy; they are going to be of a complexity and importance that will rival that faced by any previous generation. To an extent that you may not yet appreciate, the world is changing incredibly quickly. In just a decade, since I was your age, the internet and telecommunications has truly transformed the way we live, not just in rich countries but around the world. When I was an undergraduate, if I wanted to check my email I went to a little room in the basement to use a computer, and if I wanted to learn something I went to a library. The kinds of breakthroughs we are seeing in biotechnology remind me of the way people were talking about electricity in 1900. Of course I don’t know – nobody knows – but my guess is that biotechnology in the 21st century could be similarly transformative to the way the full power of electricity only hit prime-time in the 20th century. The recent controversy about the NSA has shown that the role of information technology on society can be, or at least might become, double edged. There is climate change, another controversial and difficult topic, the exact impact of which we do not yet know. These are just a few of the challenges we can see, and we should remember that history has a habit of throwing curve balls at each generation that nobody saw coming. And among all this tumult, our search for common human peace and happiness on some level becomes more difficult, though no less important. A previous generation dodged the bullet of nuclear armageddon when things looked bleak, but for your generation the bullets are coming thicker and faster than ever before. The potential all of you in your generation are going to have for both good and harm is tremendous.

    I suspect many of you have heard sentiments along these lines before. However I also suspect that many of you will think something in response along the lines of `I know all that, but these things are for someone else to figure out, not me.’

    That is a mistake.

    One of the things you can lose track of when you attend a top tier university like Berkeley is just how exceptional and amazing you really are. I’m blown away every time I talk to you. The way you ask penetrating questions, the way you improved so much between midterm 1 and 2, the way you challenge me to be a better teacher, it just knocks my socks off. You really are amazing. I’ve taught students all over the world, and I’ve never seen a group of students so talented. I’m not just talking about some of you. I’m talking about all of you. It’s a privilege to be your professor. Sadly, however, I know many of you don’t feel that way. The difficulty you all face is that as you look around at all your fellow students, it’s easy to have your eye drawn by people doing better than you. Or rather, I should say people who look like they’re doing better than you. In reality the true extent of how much people are learning can be difficult to measure. Sometimes failures and adversity are better preparations for long term success than effortless progress.

    Why am I telling you all this?

    I’m telling you this because you all need to know that there is not some great pool of amazing people in some other place who are going to shape the way our species navigates the coming decades. The simple fact is that, like it or not, technology is going to change the way we live in the future, and you’re going to have to solve some very hard problems, as well as figure out how best to use new technology for good, while at the same time facing human dangers that have haunted humanity throughout history.

    Part of the work of your generation is going to be technological, using scientific ideas to serve the interests of society, and part of the work is going to be fundamentally human, tied inexorably with qualities of the human condition – human emotion – that dominate the whole of history. These things are not separate, but are inexorably linked, and you are in a better place to understand that connection than me.

    I can’t tell you what your particular role should be in the new realities of the 21st century. It’s up to you to decide if you want to make the focus of your life technological, focused on new innovations to drive society forward, or essentially human, focused on the age-old struggles of trying to get along, work together, and find happiness, or some combination of the two.

    However I can tell you this:

    Whatever you decide to do with your life, it’s going to be really, really complicated.

    Science and technology is complicated. History and politics is complicated. People are complicated. Figuring out how to be happy, and do simple things like take care of our kids and maintain friendships and relationships, is complicated.

    In order for you to navigate the increasing complexity of the 21st century you need a world-class education, and thankfully you have an opportunity to get one. I don’t just mean the education you get in class, but I mean the education you get in everything you do, every book you read, every conversation you have, every thought you think.

    You need to optimize your life for learning.

    You need to live and breath your education.

    You need to be *obsessed* with your education.

    Do not fall into the trap of thinking that because you are surrounded by so many dazzlingly smart fellow students that means you’re no good. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    And do not fall into the trap of thinking that you focusing on your education is a selfish thing. It’s not a selfish thing. It’s the most noble thing you could do.

    Society is investing in you so that you can help solve the many challenges we are going to face in the coming decades, from profound technological challenges to helping people with the age old search for human happiness and meaning.

    That is why I am not canceling class tomorrow. Your education is really really important, not just to you, but in a far broader and wider reaching way than I think any of you have yet to fully appreciate.

    See you tomorrow,

    Alexander Coward







    Much has been written about the hyperbolicalizing of language that began when the first person took offense at being described only as nice and stretched beyond the point where we describe chicken wings as amazing. This is Orwellian double-speak gone double-plus ungood.

    Oliver Burkeman, writing in The truth about corporate lies for The Guardian had this to say:

    The other day, after resetting my online banking password, I received a message in all caps: “CONGRATULATIONS!” I like to imagine the ripple of applause spreading from desk to desk as news of my triumph arrived at the bank’s headquarters….

    The obvious worry is that this might devalue the currency of sentiment: if I’m congratulated for changing my password, does it mean anything when I congratulate you on your new baby, or your Nobel prize for chemistry? But actually, it’s worse than that: the statements in question are usually outright lies…. The radical economist Charles Eisenstein noticed something similar about a beer ad.

    Every day, I drive past a billboard for Coors Light with the slogan ‘Coors Rocks Harrisburg’,” he wrote, in a brilliant essay entitled The Ubiquitous Matrix of Lies. “Now, does anybody actually believe that Coors does in fact ‘rock Harrisburg’? No. Does the Coors corporation itself believe it? No. Does anyone believe that Coors believes it? No. It is a lie, everyone knows it is a lie, and no one cares.

    Einstein is spot on. What follows, however, struck deep to that part of me that is a writer.

    What are we as writers, then, to do? Shall we stop writing? No. But let us not labor under any illusions. The truth has been exposed again and again, but to what effect? What have forty years of correct analysis of the environmental and political state of the world brought us? The reason that the entire staff of your favorite left-wing website is not in a concentration camp is that it is not necessary. Words themselves have been robbed of their power. Thoreau said, “It takes two to speak the truth: one to speak and another to hear.” Who hears now but the already-converted?

    One of the first questions most people ask me when I tell them that I blog, is How many readers do you have? Anyone who has a blog and who follows their stats know that the number, usually given in terms of hits, is problematic, but generally speaking Have Coffee Will Write has clipped along very nicely through the years.

    (I just did a quick check and during the month of November, HCWW earned 92,597 hits from 9,048 unique visitors who made 23,259 visits.)

    So, are people reading my truths? Maybe.

    I don’t think people want to learn any truth, they want to confirm the truth they hold. Eisenstein moves the discussion from the corporate realm into the political (an area with increasingly dangerous overlap).

    Like words, images have become divorced from the objects they are supposed to represent, until the very word “image” itself has taken on connotations of inauthenticity: a corporate image, a politician’s image. In a world of lies and images, nothing is real. Immersed in such a world, is the political apathy of the American public so difficult to understand?

    This is where I think Bernie Sanders is shaking up the complacency of, at least, the American public. Eisenstein continues.

    The danger when we operate wholly in a world of representations and images is that we begin to mistake that world for reality, and to believe that by manipulating symbols we can automatically change the reality they represent. We lose touch with the reality behind the symbols. Grisly death becomes collateral damage. Torture becomes enhanced interrogation. A bill to relax pollution controls becomes the Clear Skies Act. Defeat in Iraq becomes victory. War becomes peace. Hate becomes love. Freedom becomes slavery.

    The Orwellian ambition to render language incapable of even expressing the concept “freedom” has nearly been fulfilled. Not by eliminating the word, but by converting it into a mere image, an empty shell, a brand. How can the voices of protest be effective when everyone discounts all speech as image, spin, and hype? Whatever you say, it is in the end just words.

    Words, however, matter. A lot.

    Eisenstein concludes.

    The power of word, like all magical powers, will turn against us, wither, and die if not renewed by frequent reconnection to its source. Abstracted too many levels from its subject, language and reason itself maroons us in a factitious fantasy world, an unconscious story that turns us into its victims. Those of us dedicated to creating a more beautiful world must not lose ourselves in abstraction. Let us not imagine that we are more intelligent than the Neocons in their think tanks or the liberal professors in their universities. They are just as clever as anyone else at manipulating logic. All they say follows logically from their premises. It is the premises that are at fault, and these cannot be reasoned out. Remember that the Neocons too believe they are creating a better world. Only arrogance would say that we, being smarter than they are, can do better. Indeed, it is arrogance that defines them, and the opposite of arrogance is humility, and to be humble is to constantly open to new truth from the outside, from the real world and not one’s interpretation of it.



    Good morning Mr. Fisher,

    Here’s another name to add to your list:William Celli.

    California man arrested for building a pipe bomb and threats to Muslims.

    The list grows day-by-day.

    Do all you can to make today a better day,

    Jeff Hess

    Mr. Hamm,

    Please do not confuse science with the rantings of religious zealots declaring the approach of the end times or the disingenuous simpering of Ted Cruz.

    You’ll find plenty of links to actual data in my previous comments as well as in my guest column of 7 November

    Do all you can to make today a better day,

    Jeff Hess

    Mr. Sidik,

    When you call for the trials of President George Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on charges of war crimes.

    Jeff Hess

    Mr. MacPherson,

    Let’s try this one final time.

    In my original guest column and in each of my replies, I have backed up my statements with links to verifiable sources of information. You, on the other hand, simply repeat the same assertion without providing a source for your position.

    Perhaps one of your sources is William Happer or Willie Soon (or some lazy journalist/commentator relying on the likes of Happer and Soon).

    Happer and Soon are just two of the many ethically challenged individuals bought and paid for my the fossil fuels industry, just as the tobacco industry did decades before, to create controversy where none existed.

    I also suggest you read William Ferguson’s 1 March 2013 article: Ice Core Data Help Solve a Global Warming Mystery.

    Unless you have actual references from actual scientists not in the employ of the fossil fuel industry, I’m done here. I’ll leave you to enjoy the last word, secure that readers who take the time to explore the facts will not be distracted.


    Mr. MacPherson,

    I find your reading of the conclusions concerning the Vostok Ice Core studies puzzling.

    According to the Carbon Dioxide Informational Analysis Center:

    There is a close correlation between Antarctic temperature and atmospheric concentrations of CO2 (Barnola et al. 1987). The extension of the Vostok CO2 record shows that the main trends of CO2 are similar for each glacial cycle. Major transitions from the lowest to the highest values are associated with glacial-interglacial transitions. During these transitions, the atmospheric concentrations of CO2 rises from 180 to 280-300 ppmv (Petit et al. 1999). The extension of the Vostok CO2 record shows the present-day levels of CO2 are unprecedented during the past 420 kyr.

    According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, In September 2015 Global CO2 was at 397.08 ppm. At the same time in 2014, the measurement was 394.93 ppm. Well above the levels found in the Vostok cores.

    So, again, I ask, when has atmospheric Carbon Dioxide not had a significant roll in climate change?


    First, how about a real name? I don’t enjoying talking with people hiding in shadows.

    Second, the short answer to your question is simply “never.”

    The longer answer is that when a president spends eight years leading his country into two wars with no exit strategies that result in the loss of more than 10,000 of my brothers and sisters in arms and then finishes off his watch by doing his best to trump the 1920s Republican excesses that drove our country into the Great Depression, he doesn’t get a pass from me; even eight years later.

    As for Cybercast News Service’s Terence Jeffrey’s article on Gross Domestic Product growth, I think the fact that data before 1947 was not available to Jeffrey was convenient (in the same way that Climate Change deniers love to use data from 1998 in their weak attempts to disprove Global Warming). I have to wonder how the GDP numbers might compare to those from the first two terms of President Franklin Roosevelt as he fought to repair the damage caused by Republican presidents Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover.

    Third, attempting to suggest that banks engaged in insanely risky loans because of presidential pressure from a man no longer in office suggests that those banks were managed by either very stupid or very greedy people. You pick.

    Time magazine named 25 people, including President Clinton for his signing of Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, repealing Glass-Steagal, and Commodity Futures Modernization Act, which exempted credit-default swaps from regulation; both horrible decisions, as “blameworthy.”



    H.R. 40…

    114th CONGRESS
    1st Session
    H. R. 40

    To acknowledge the fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality, and
    inhumanity of slavery in the United States and the 13 American colonies
    between 1619 and 1865 and to establish a commission to examine the
    institution of slavery, subsequently de jure and de facto racial and
    economic discrimination against African-Americans, and the impact of
    these forces on living African-Americans, to make recommendations to
    the Congress on appropriate remedies, and for other purposes.



    January 6, 2015

    Mr. Conyers introduced the following bill; which was referred to the
    Committee on the Judiciary


    A BILL

    To acknowledge the fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality, and
    inhumanity of slavery in the United States and the 13 American colonies
    between 1619 and 1865 and to establish a commission to examine the
    institution of slavery, subsequently de jure and de facto racial and
    economic discrimination against African-Americans, and the impact of
    these forces on living African-Americans, to make recommendations to
    the Congress on appropriate remedies, and for other purposes.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the
    United States of America in Congress assembled,


    This Act may be cited as the “Commission to Study Reparation
    Proposals for African-Americans Act”.


    (a) Findings.–The Congress finds that–
    (1) approximately 4,000,000 Africans and their descendants
    were enslaved in the United States and colonies that became the
    United States from 1619 to 1865;
    (2) the institution of slavery was constitutionally and
    statutorily sanctioned by the Government of the United States
    from 1789 through 1865;
    (3) the slavery that flourished in the United States
    constituted an immoral and inhumane deprivation of Africans’
    life, liberty, African citizenship rights, and cultural
    heritage, and denied them the fruits of their own labor; and
    (4) sufficient inquiry has not been made into the effects
    of the institution of slavery on living African-Americans and
    society in the United States.
    (b) Purpose.–The purpose of this Act is to establish a commission
    (1) examine the institution of slavery which existed from
    1619 through 1865 within the United States and the colonies
    that became the United States, including the extent to which
    the Federal and State Governments constitutionally and
    statutorily supported the institution of slavery;
    (2) examine de jure and de facto discrimination against
    freed slaves and their descendants from the end of the Civil
    War to the present, including economic, political, and social
    (3) examine the lingering negative effects of the
    institution of slavery and the discrimination described in
    paragraph (2) on living African-Americans and on society in the
    United States;
    (4) recommend appropriate ways to educate the American
    public of the Commission’s findings;
    (5) recommend appropriate remedies in consideration of the
    Commission’s findings on the matters described in paragraphs
    (1) and (2); and
    (6) submit to the Congress the results of such examination,
    together with such recommendations.


    (a) Establishment.–There is established the Commission to Study
    Reparation Proposals for African-Americans (hereinafter in this Act
    referred to as the “Commission”).
    (b) Duties.–The Commission shall perform the following duties:
    (1) Examine the institution of slavery which existed within
    the United States and the colonies that became the United
    States from 1619 through 1865. The Commission’s examination
    shall include an examination of–
    (A) the capture and procurement of Africans;
    (B) the transport of Africans to the United States
    and the colonies that became the United States for the
    purpose of enslavement, including their treatment
    during transport;
    (C) the sale and acquisition of Africans as chattel
    property in interstate and intrastate commerce; and
    (D) the treatment of African slaves in the colonies
    and the United States, including the deprivation of
    their freedom, exploitation of their labor, and
    destruction of their culture, language, religion, and
    (2) Examine the extent to which the Federal and State
    governments of the United States supported the institution of
    slavery in constitutional and statutory provisions, including
    the extent to which such governments prevented, opposed, or
    restricted efforts of freed African slaves to repatriate to
    their homeland.
    (3) Examine Federal and State laws that discriminated
    against freed African slaves and their descendants during the
    period between the end of the Civil War and the present.
    (4) Examine other forms of discrimination in the public and
    private sectors against freed African slaves and their
    descendants during the period between the end of the Civil War
    and the present.
    (5) Examine the lingering negative effects of the
    institution of slavery and the matters described in paragraphs
    (1), (2), (3), and (4) on living African-Americans and on
    society in the United States.
    (6) Recommend appropriate ways to educate the American
    public of the Commission’s findings.
    (7) Recommend appropriate remedies in consideration of the
    Commission’s findings on the matters described in paragraphs
    (1), (2), (3), and (4). In making such recommendations, the
    Commission shall address among other issues, the following
    (A) Whether the Government of the United States
    should offer a formal apology on behalf of the people
    of the United States for the perpetration of gross
    human rights violations on African slaves and their
    (B) Whether African-Americans still suffer from the
    lingering effects of the matters described in
    paragraphs (1), (2), (3), and (4).
    (C) Whether, in consideration of the Commission’s
    findings, any form of compensation to the descendants
    of African slaves is warranted.
    (D) If the Commission finds that such compensation
    is warranted, what should be the amount of
    compensation, what form of compensation should be
    awarded, and who should be eligible for such
    (c) Report to Congress.–The Commission shall submit a written
    report of its findings and recommendations to the Congress not later
    than the date which is one year after the date of the first meeting of
    the Commission held pursuant to section 4(c).


    (a) Number and Appointment.–(1) The Commission shall be composed
    of 7 members, who shall be appointed, within 90 days after the date of
    enactment of this Act, as follows:
    (A) Three members shall be appointed by the President.
    (B) Three members shall be appointed by the Speaker of the
    House of Representatives.
    (C) One member shall be appointed by the President pro
    tempore of the Senate.
    (2) All members of the Commission shall be persons who are
    especially qualified to serve on the Commission by virtue of their
    education, training, or experience, particularly in the field of
    African-American studies.
    (b) Terms.–The term of office for members shall be for the life of
    the Commission. A vacancy in the Commission shall not affect the powers
    of the Commission and shall be filled in the same manner in which the
    original appointment was made.
    (c) First Meeting.–The President shall call the first meeting of
    the Commission within 120 days after the date of the enactment of this
    Act or within 30 days after the date on which legislation is enacted
    making appropriations to carry out this Act, whichever date is later.
    (d) Quorum.–Four members of the Commission shall constitute a
    quorum, but a lesser number may hold hearings.
    (e) Chair and Vice Chair.–The Commission shall elect a Chair and
    Vice Chair from among its members. The term of office of each shall be
    for the life of the Commission.
    (f) Compensation.–(1) Except as provided in paragraph (2), each
    member of the Commission shall receive compensation at the daily
    equivalent of the annual rate of basic pay payable for GS-18 of the
    General Schedule under section 5332 of title 5, United States Code, for
    each day, including travel time, during which he or she is engaged in
    the actual performance of duties vested in the Commission.
    (2) A member of the Commission who is a full-time officer or
    employee of the United States or a Member of Congress shall receive no
    additional pay, allowances, or benefits by reason of his or her service
    to the Commission.
    (3) All members of the Commission shall be reimbursed for travel,
    subsistence, and other necessary expenses incurred by them in the
    performance of their duties to the extent authorized by chapter 57 of
    title 5, United States Code.


    (a) Hearings and Sessions.–The Commission may, for the purpose of
    carrying out the provisions of this Act, hold such hearings and sit and
    act at such times and at such places in the United States, and request
    the attendance and testimony of such witnesses and the production of
    such books, records, correspondence, memoranda, papers, and documents,
    as the Commission considers appropriate. The Commission may request the
    Attorney General to invoke the aid of an appropriate United States
    district court to require, by subpoena or otherwise, such attendance,
    testimony, or production.
    (b) Powers of Subcommittees and Members.–Any subcommittee or
    member of the Commission may, if authorized by the Commission, take any
    action which the Commission is authorized to take by this section.
    (c) Obtaining Official Data.–The Commission may acquire directly
    from the head of any department, agency, or instrumentality of the
    executive branch of the Government, available information which the
    Commission considers useful in the discharge of its duties. All
    departments, agencies, and instrumentalities of the executive branch of
    the Government shall cooperate with the Commission with respect to such
    information and shall furnish all information requested by the
    Commission to the extent permitted by law.


    (a) Staff.–The Commission may, without regard to section 5311(b)
    of title 5, United States Code, appoint and fix the compensation of
    such personnel as the Commission considers appropriate.
    (b) Applicability of Certain Civil Service Laws.–The staff of the
    Commission may be appointed without regard to the provisions of title
    5, United States Code, governing appointments in the competitive
    service, and without regard to the provisions of chapter 51 and
    subchapter III of chapter 53 of such title relating to classification
    and General Schedule pay rates, except that the compensation of any
    employee of the Commission may not exceed a rate equal to the annual
    rate of basic pay payable for GS-18 of the General Schedule under
    section 5332 of title 5, United States Code.
    (c) Experts and Consultants.–The Commission may procure the
    services of experts and consultants in accordance with the provisions
    of section 3109(b) of title 5, United States Code, but at rates for
    individuals not to exceed the daily equivalent of the highest rate
    payable under section 5332 of such title.
    (d) Administrative Support Services.–The Commission may enter into
    agreements with the Administrator of General Services for procurement
    of financial and administrative services necessary for the discharge of
    the duties of the Commission. Payment for such services shall be made
    by reimbursement from funds of the Commission in such amounts as may be
    agreed upon by the Chairman of the Commission and the Administrator.
    (e) Contracts.–The Commission may–
    (1) procure supplies, services, and property by contract in
    accordance with applicable laws and regulations and to the
    extent or in such amounts as are provided in appropriations
    Acts; and
    (2) enter into contracts with departments, agencies, and
    instrumentalities of the Federal Government, State agencies,
    and private firms, institutions, and agencies, for the conduct
    of research or surveys, the preparation of reports, and other
    activities necessary for the discharge of the duties of the
    Commission, to the extent or in such amounts as are provided in
    appropriations Acts.


    The Commission shall terminate 90 days after the date on which the
    Commission submits its report to the Congress under section 3(c).


    To carry out the provisions of this Act, there are authorized to be
    appropriated $8,000,000.



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    Ted Cruz thinks it should be easier to off women than to get women off –Larry Wilmore.



    In 1653, Izaak Walton described in the Compleat Angler the fate of “poor-rich men”, who “spend all their time first in getting, and next in anxious care to keep it; men that are condemned to be rich, and then always busie or discontented”. Today this fate is confused with salvation.

    Finish your homework, pass your exams, spend your 20s avoiding daylight, and you too could live like the elite. But who in their right mind would want to?



    It’s been a busy week in Wally World: the Universe’s source of cheap plastic crap from China. On The Writing On The Wal—the blog USA Today says should be on its readers’ radar—I continue my singular work dedicated to drawing back the curtain on the Bentonvile Behemoth’s corporate disinformation and other flackery.

    IS FLORIDA BECOMING THE CENTER OF HELL…? Earlier this week I speculated that Walmart’s decision to build eight new distribution centers directly purposed for the expansion of the Bentonvile Behemoths online competition with Amazon was like… Keep reading…

    WILL THEY GO OR WILL THEY STAY…? Two weeks ago I mentioned that Walmart is making changes to the front-end of the store, but this morning I read a post from The Answer Man at the Rochester, Minn., Post-Bulletin that seems to tell a… Keep reading…

    WHO YOU GONNA CALL…? This is exactly why I leave very little money on any card that has electronic access to my reserves, and that’s on my bank card. I can’t imagine being at the mercy of cards controlled by retailers not under the jurisdiction of… Keep reading…

    HEAD TEXT… Keep reading…

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    HEAD TEXT… Keep reading…




    Suzanne Goldenberg, reporting in ExxonMobil tried to censor climate scientists to Congress during Bush era for The Guardian, writes:

    If you kill enough people slowly enough you may get away with murder.

    If a terrorist managed to release a deadly gas left millions dead there would no doubt that capital punishment would be the only outcome for those responsible

    Claudia Black-Kalinsky, in My father warned Exxon about climate change in the 1970s. They didn’t listen for The Guardian writes:

    My father, James F Black, PhD, started working for Standard Oil (part of which later became Esso and then Exxon) during the second world war. He had a distinguished career over 40 years, garnering dozens of patents through his wide-ranging research.

    In 1977, he briefed some of Exxon’s top executives about the risks of burning fossil fuels. A year later, in recapping his presentation in an internal company memo, he wrote: “Present thinking holds that man has a time window of five to ten years before the need for hard decisions regarding changes in energy strategies might become critical.”

    By the end of that 10-year window, however, company executives had started ignoring science, cancelling research projects and investing in “spin”. They poured millions of dollars into advocacy groups and public relations campaigns designed to cast doubt on the scientific realities of climate change. As Exxon entered this period, my father would lament: “A company is in trouble when it falls into the hands of the accountants.”

    Indeed, ignoring data in favor of “spinning” scientific results can cause irreparable harm. Look at the nightmare of lead poisoning in Flint, Michigan. Or consider how tobacco companies distorted their own scientific research on the dangers of secondhand smoke.

    Previously in The Guardian emails…

    Keep Carbon In The Ground…Alan Rusbridger, The Guardian, Climate Change, Global Warming, Keep It In The Ground, James Randerson



    Via Janine Gibson, Times executive editor Jill Abramson–at a meeting to convince the Guardian to collaborate on certain NSA stories–sent a message:

    Please tell Glenn Greenwald personally [but not officially or professionally, JH] that I agree with him completely about the fact that we should never have run the claim about China ‘draining’ Snowden’s laptops. It was irresponsible.

    Gibson seemed to expect that I would be pleased, though I was anything but: how could the executive editor of a newspaper conclude that an obviously damaging article was irresponsible and should not have been published, and then not retract it or at least run an editor’s note? p. 224-5

    –Glenn Greenwald from No Place To Hide: Edward Snowden, The NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State by way of My Electronic Chapbook




    Over the past week or so, I’ve been binge-watching Blue Bloods on Netflix. I chose the program because I knew Mary Jo wouldn’t be interested and the show was one I had watched in Marietta while visiting my father in recent years. (I was also taken by how much Tom Selleck looks like my brother.) The show isn’t bad, the writers produce neatly solved crimes played against a backdrop of a solid Irish-American family with three generations of cops.

    One aspect that I have found deeply disturbing, particularly in light of events in the past few years, is the way central character Danny Reagan routinely brutalizes suspects and the people he believes have information that he wants. In the way Jack Bauer fooled people into believing that torturing people labeled terrorist (a useless word) was not only permissible, but also effective because people told you what you wanted to know when you tortured them, a lesson well learned by the Spanish Inquisition; so too does Reagan get the information he needs to have to solve crimes. The problem is, of course, what yo want to know may have nothing to do with what you need to know or the truth.

    Torture, as much as we like to use magical thinking to convince ourselves otherwise, simply doesn’t work.

    The fantasy, however, is deeply twisting our society.

    Adam Theron-Lee Rensch reporting in The appeal of torture: what I learned from teaching a class on terrorism for The Guardian, writes:

    While creating the syllabus for the class, I assumed we would have discussions of what it meant to live in a major city that remains on constant alert. I thought we would tackle the steady rise of Islamophobia and have debates about the relationships between religion, poverty and violence. I wanted my students to become good writers, but to do this I wanted them to confront the ways terrorism has touched them personally: the anxieties they might have, the discrimination they may have experienced.

    And we did have some of those conversations. We talked about the role of media, its glorification of tragedy and its lopsided coverage of attacks that affect westerners. We talked about the normalizing of violence in many parts of the world, and what it might mean to live under occupation.

    Then, inevitably, we talked about torture.

    Many people think that 24 was created as a reaction to the attacks of 11 September 2001, but that is not the case. While the show first aired on 6 November, the production stretched back many months. Some argued to kill the show, or at least postpone the release, because of 11 September. For Kiefer Sutherland and Fox the decision was epic and millions of Americans saw Sutherland’s Jack Bauer as the hero they needed to protect them for scary non-Americans.

    Rensch continues:

    I was hesitant, at first, to open the box on torture and the ethical dilemmas that surround it, but eventually decided to broach the topic by showing them the first episode of 24’s seventh season. This particular episode seemed relevant, as it deals with the ethical problem of torture as a preventative measure and, as a television show on a major network, is one of the most prominent examples of how the media portrays terrorism in a post-9/11 world.

    The writing is laughably bad: as the opening credits flash across the show’s iconic multi-camera collage, iconic CTU agent Jack Bauer sits before a Senate committee hearing on the use of torture. With his blasé rogue chic, Bauer insists that his use of torture was justified because it saved lives. He did “what was necessary”. When pressed by the senator if he was above the law, Bauer’s response is crucial and cuts to the core of American ideology: terrorists don’t play by our rules, so he wasn’t going to be limited by them either.

    I showed my students this episode right around the time Trump repeated Bauer’s remarks, almost word for word, at a campaign event. I even made the joke that Trump’s foreign policy adviser was Jack Bauer himself, hoping my students—many of whom had protested Trump’s recent event on our campus – would see the absurdity of the position.

    To my surprise, or rather disbelief, almost every one of my 46 students wasn’t bothered by the use of torture. The general consensus was both simple and eerily confident: “It may not be ideal, but sometimes it’s just necessary.”



    It’s been a busy week in Wally World: the Universe’s source of cheap plastic crap from China. On The Writing On The Wal—the blog USA Today says should be on its readers’ radar—I continue my singular work dedicated to drawing back the curtain on the Bentonvile Behemoth’s corporate disinformation and other flackery.

    WALMART FIRST, WORKERS LAST… If you’re going to hang the greater part of your very existence to selling cheap plastic crap from China to Americans then cutting out the cost of shipping by selling cheap plastic crap from China in China makes perfect… Keep reading…

    SHOULD WALMART DUMP THE DONALD…? Who could doubt that Walmart has made financial contributions to the campaign to elect Donald Trump the next President of the United States? I have no doubt that Walmart made contributions to all the… Keep reading…

    COULD STOP-WALMART EFFORT HAVE WORKED…? I can’t begin to count the number of stories I’ve read about citizen groups failing to stop a Walmart being built in their community. Stopping a Walmart is like stopping a Tsunami. So much so that I have… Keep reading…

    HEAD TEXT… Keep reading…

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    word thinking context and caleb carr

    Scott Adams writes in Finding the Political Bottom:

    Word-thinking is a popular alternative to reason. A word-thinker ignores facts and logic, and tries to jam all observations into existing labels. For a word-thinker, everyone in the world is either a racist or a good person. The reality is that human brains operate on pattern recognition, which pretty much guarantees that all of us are sexists and racists to some degree. But word-thinkers only see two categories.

    This same type of word-thinking was seen in the GOP primaries. Much of the discussion was about whether or not Trump was a conservative. People believed, quite irrationally, that if Trump didn’t fit into that label with precision, he was not worthy to be president. Word-thinkers are not confined to one side of the political world. It is a universal mental phenomenon.

    Word-thinking is important to persuasion because if you can convince someone to accept a label on an opponent, it turns off their critical thought and turns on their confirmation bias. Nuance is lost. Context is lost. All that matters once the label is accepted is whatever qualities the label already contained.


    driving directions

    RE: Take a break–Ohio River Sternwheel Festival.

    I can’t imagine what GPS/Google Maps nightmare produced the driving directions from North Royalton to Marietta, but, as someone born in Marietta who makes the trip between North Royalton and my hometown a dozen or so times a year I feel for the poor person who follows those directions.

    To get from North Royalton to Marietta you simply:

    1. Take Royalton Road/Rt. 82 West to I-77 south.
    2. Stay on I-77 south until you come to Exit 1.
    3. Exit I-77 and turn right onto Pike St. (You’re now in Marietta.)

    To get to the Sternwheel Festival:

    1. Follow Pike St. to the 7th Street intersection where Pike merges with Greene St.
    2. Follow Greene St. to downtown Marietta.

    (The Festival is worth the trip, but don’t expect to find an empty room this weekend. Reservations need to be made at least three months in advance.)

    Jeff Hess
    North Royalton



    After I read the biography of Nelson Mandela, I added the great man to my pantheon—along with the likes of Thomas Jefferson, Hyman Rickover and many others—of personal heroes.






    Ta-Nehisi Coates, writing in How Breitbart Conquered the Media for The Atlantic, begins:

    In July of 2010, journalist and provocateur Andrew Breitbart posted a video excerpt of remarks on his site purporting to expose “evidence of racism coming from a federal appointee and NAACP award recipient.”

    That appointee was Shirley Sherrod.

    So frightened were the Obama administration officials and the NAACP that they did not bother to ask if Breitbart had honestly rendered Sherrod’s comments. They did not seek to understand their context or meaning. They did not even bother to see who Shirley Sherrod actually was and whether the charge accorded with her history. Instead they dispensed with any pursuit of the truth, allied themselves with fear, and humiliated Shirley Sherrod.

    Later, when it was revealed that Breitbart had perpetrated a massive deception, when no less than Glenn Beck defended Sherrod, it was easy to think that Andrew Breitbart had, himself, endured a humiliating and disqualifying loss.

    Hillary Clinton made a claim—half of Donald Trump’s supporters are motivated by some form of bigotry. “The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic—you name it,” she said. “And unfortunately, there are people like that, and he has lifted them up.” Clinton went on to claim that there is another half—people disappointed in the government and economy who are desperate for change. The second part of this claim received very little attention, simply because much of media could not make its way past the first half. The resultant uproar challenges the idea that Breitbart lost.

    Indeed, what Breitbart understood, what his spiritual heir Donald Trump has banked on, what Hillary Clinton’s recent pillorying has clarified, is that white grievance, no matter how ill-founded, can never be humiliating nor disqualifying. On the contrary, it is a right to be respected at every level of American society from the beer-hall to the penthouse to the newsroom.

    (I think that events over weekend suggest that that white grievance can be narrowed further to white male grievance. I don’t think Clinton will be elected president in November. I think that Donald Trump will win in a historic landslide and the responsibility for that win will rest solely on the shoulders of the Democratic National Committee.)



    By the time the justices adjourned to deliberate, two justices, Andrew Douglas and Paul Pfeifer, had decided that the funding system was unconstitutional and needed to be changed. Meanwhile, Justice Deborah L. Cook was adamant that the court should not be involved in school funding decisions and “never budged from that position,” but neither side had made that claim.

    A majority emerged among Justices Douglas, Pfeifer, Alice Robie Resnick, and Francis E. Sweeney, Sr. Meanwhile, Chief Justice Moyer and Justice Evelyn Lundberg Stratton indicated they were likely to join Cook but expressed more flexibility, depending on the language of the majority opinion, which was randomly assigned to Sweeney. Although formal deliberations had lasted about only half an hour, the justices continued to discuss the case one on one, as Sweeney tried to coax Moyer and Stratton into the majority. The Court:

    However, in the end, the decision was carried by the narrow, 4-3 majority that emerged after oral arguments. The March 24, 1997 ruling did the following:

  • Found the funding scheme for elementary and secondary education to be unconstitutional;
  • Ordered an end to the “school foundation program” and the reliance on property taxes for school funding;
  • Provided the state 12 months to solve the problem;
  • Awarded attorney’s fees to the plaintiffs; and,
  • Remanded the case to the trial judge.
  • Resnick, Pfeifer, and Douglas each wrote separate concurring opinions. For the minority, Moyer’s dissent acknowledged problems with school funding but questioned whether they actually violated the state constitution[18] and argued that they were matters for the legislature to handle.





    [Update at 0416 on 8 November: Yea Norway! Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners’ bank may withhold loans over Dakota Access pipeline issues.]

    [Update at 0717 on 5 November: From perhaps the most conservative corner of Ohio comes news that: Cincinnati City Council members have sent a strongly-worded letter to Ohio Gov. John Kasich demanding the recall of 37 state troopers from the escalating Dakota Access Pipeline protests in North Dakota.

    Update at 0451 on 5 November: I learned of the petition demanding that Gov. John Kasich recall the 37 Ohio State Troopers from North Dakota yesterday while listening to The Sound of Ideas. As of this morning some 41,000 signatures, including my own, have been added to the petition. I also wrote directly to our governor (below).] More…


    no walmart nightmare






    170202 king mob king mob ii president donald john trump


    jim renacci signature…

    170406 renacci signature



    North Korea wants nuclear weapons for the same reason that gun owners what guns: deterrence and, in the extreme, the ability to defend themselves from aggressive acts.

    Write this for the North Royalton Post



    David French, writing in Campus Sexual-Assault Crisis: Here Is the Root Cause for The National Review, explains:

    Aggressively prosecuting provable rapes will do little to ease the psychic pain of the underlying sexual crisis on campus, a crisis not even a campus kangaroo court can resolve.

    The root of the problem is an ideology that deliberately attempts to strip sex of its inherent spiritual meaning and transform it into little more than transactional, physical, pleasure-seeking behavior. It’s an ideology that denies differences between men and women, including the emotional differences in the way that many men and women experience sex.

    Mona Charon, in Do Conservatives Take Rape Seriously? for The National Review, writes:

    David French, in Trump’s Education Department Takes on the Campus-Rape Lie for The National Review, writes:

    Laura Kipnis, in A ‘Left-Wing Feminist’ Attacks the Climate of Sexual Paranoia on Campus for The National Review, writes:

    David French, in Do Some Feminist Professors Even Know What the Word ‘Rape’ Means? for The National Review, writes:



    Here and Now Hour Two, Timemark 10:50

    Also… 10:59



    How Not to Marginalize the Alt-Right



    171024 this american life linndale spped trap

    In the ’80s and early ’90s I made the commute from Cleveland Heights to Middleburg Heights and back every workday. As I cruised along I-71 I was always aware of the Linndale speed trap.

    Eric Sandy, reporting in The Linndale Speed Trap Got Its Own ‘This American Life’ Episode for Scene, writes:



    Last Tuesday, just before most Americans were preparing for the Native American Remembrance Day Thanksgiving Shopping Orgy holiday Cleveland police officers led by Black Shield, voted Police Patrolmen’s Association President Steve Loomis out of office.

    One of my newest favorite writers, Michael Herriot had this to say in Trump-Loving, NFL-Protest-Hating Police-Union Chief Who Supported Tamir Rice Killer Ousted by Black Cops for The Root:

    The Cleveland police-union president who resembles the love child of Lex Luthor and Sarah Huckabee Sanders was voted out of office Tuesday in part because Cleveland’s black police officers were tired of his incessant bullshit.

    According to the Cleveland [sic] Plain Dealer, Steve Loomis was replaced as head of the Cleveland Police Patrolmen’s Association by Jeff Follmer in a close vote that many say was decided by Cleveland’s African-American police officers. Loomis notoriously endorsed Donald Trump during his presidential campaign and recently stood alongside the apricot autocrat when the Trump administration announced its detailed plan to fight the national opioid crisis by holding a series of press conferences announcing its war on opioids.

    That, by the way, is Harriot being nice. He goes on.

    Loomis riled black cops when he condemned Cleveland Browns players for kneeling during the national anthem at a preseason game, pulling officers from a planned pregame flag ceremony that included other first responders. Loomis was also an unwavering defender of then-Police Officer Timothy Loehmann, who killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice while the boy was playing with a toy gun in a Cleveland park. He criticized the city’s settlement with Tamir’s family and even tried to get Loehmann reinstated after he was fired.

    Loomis, who is currently under investigation by internal affairs for wearing his uniform to a Trump rally in Akron, Ohio, plans to spend his time eating bread pudding dipped in chili covered with cheese.

    We all wish him well.

    He will be missed.

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