Archive for March, 2009

Harvard Goes Back In Time To Save The World
March 30, 2009

In the midst of all the usual sturm und dreck of the daily news – you know, economic catastrophe, Iraq crashing, Afghanistan crumbling, Obama reneging, Republicans stupidifying – there’s a good piece about Harvard by Tracy Jan on the front page. Granted it’s down in the lower right-hand corner, but still, a front page story on the resurgence, sort of, of the liberal arts is worth noting.

Some tidbits:

Today, the number of students conversant in Cicero and Plato has dwindled, with only 42 – less than 1 percent of Harvard’s 6,640 undergraduates – choosing classics as a major. Then there’s Sanskrit and Indian studies, which has three students, and astronomy and astrophysics, with five starry-eyed souls.

Although most students may deem the undersubscribed subjects impractical, the bastion of liberal arts education has in recent years begun promoting learning for learning’s sake as a worthy and enriching pursuit. Rather than viewing a major solely as a stepping-stone to a career, the university is pushing students to broaden their interests and explore more esoteric topics.

Annual majors in economics and in government number 700 and 500 respectively. Not that The Lion would draw a straight line between such numbers and the current state of the economy and government, but it’s interesting to contemplate the movement of universities from bastions of liberal arts education to bastions of career training over the last several decades.

Instead of teaching classics and literature and history and philosophy and critical thinking, they’ve been teaching how to make a living. The Lion suggests a straight line from that education to the credo of American society summing up as something like, “Whoopee, look at all the money I got myself. I’m dumb as fucking post and don’t know anything and haven’t read a book since ninth grade, but I got money.”

The value of a philosophy major – a fellow who could do hard thinking, who valued logic, who could think critically – decreased as businesses sought drones to push paper and technicians who could competently perform rote operations. And too often, as the world has learned to its dismay, the bright stars who moved up lacked any ethical compass, lacked conscience, lacked any concern for consequences. But they certainly knew the ins and outs of finance and economics, fancy cars and champagne, penthouses and pricey call girls.

It’s educational to note that the financiers apparently consider their businesses to be the biggest industry in America. Odd, since they don’t produce anything, they don’t build anything. They move money from here to there and skim a healthy piece off the top. Sometimes the money makes a bridge possible or starts a business, sure, but in recent years the only thing that’s been important to these fellows is how big a chunk of cash goes into their pocket and the consequences  be damned. These people are more akin to bookies and loan sharks than they are to honest businessmen.

Maybe if Harvard and the rest of the universities get back to education, to the liberal arts, to the classics, to history, maybe the world can get back to being a decent place to live in the future.

Advertisements

On The Popularity Of Americans In Afghanistan…
March 28, 2009

image

Kind of looks like the robot in the sunglasses and armor maybe messed with the sister of the guy in the white hat.  Oh, hell, give him the benefit of the doubt – he probably only killed her. Or maybe it was Gray Hat’s brother or cousin. Or White Hat’s father or brother or third cousin in the next valley. Doesn’t matter. Sunglass Robot is toast.

Gray Hat and White Hat will get even, sooner or later. They’ve been fighting invaders for a long, long, long time. For all his armor and high-tech weaponry and fancy sunglasses, that trooper’s going to get his ticket punched if those other two fellows have anything to say about it. They’ve got ancient eyes. Sooner or later, sooner or later… They’ve got patience. And it’s their land.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Obama The New Jim Jones, Drinks Afghan Kool-Aid
March 27, 2009

Apparently the crowd that thinks it can bomb and shoot Afghanistan into the twenty-first century has won the bullshit debate on Afghanistan and Obama is committing the United States to another decade or three of chasing people around South Asia and the Middle East, draining the US Treasury and spilling the blood of whatever soldiers he can dragoon into the fighting.

Naturally the Republicans are all dewy-eyed and weepy happy over this, but they’ve been idiots for war, any war, for a long time, and haven’t got a fucking clue. About anything, apparently, given the so-called budget they flapped around yesterday. Wonder if they included the costs of Iraq and Afghanistan in it? Their deposed psychopath, Bush, never did.

As for the clowns that support the military bullshit in Afghanistan, The Lion doubts that a single one of them asked what Americans would do were the tables reversed. Except for Republicans and Conservatives, who haven’t got the balls for a real fight, Americans would fight until the invaders were all dead or all gone. What makes anyone think the Afghanis are different, especially given that they’ve been successfully fighting invaders for a couple of thousand years?

Oh, you say, al-Qaeda isn’t Afghani? Right, but the Taliban is, and from their point of view the United States and its Europrops are invaders.

As for al-Qaeda, they can operate from anywhere. They don’t need Afghanistan or Pakistan, but the presence of American forces, the continued killing of civilians, and the disruption of Muslim society gives them all the incentive they need to sow discord and chaos with the intent of tying the Great Beast down in the swamp of South Asia. They don’t need to attack the United States; all they need do to weaken and possibly bring down the U.S. is to get the Americans to send troops to fight ghosts, bleeding the treasury and the soldiery and ultimately all the citizenry.

Obama’s plans for that area are simple, unadulterated bullshit dressed up in competent speechmaking. For an intelligent guy, he’s as out of his fucking mind as George Bush was over this terrorist crap.

Screw ‘em all.

New Laws Of Robotics For The Pentagon’s Autonomous Killer Robots
March 26, 2009

The Pentagon’s planners and dreamers seek to create killer battlefield robots which operate without human control. Turn them loose in a city and let them decide who to kill.

Obviously such a robot would need a high degree of artificial intelligence. Ultimately these machines would likely develop their own set of robotic laws to insure their survival.

First Law: Breed.

Second Law: Kill all humans.

Third Law: Create a God.

Oh, wait a minute! That’s Cylons. Been there, done that.

Maybe the Pentagon boys have been watching too much television.

Kuttner Tells It Like It Is… Your Government Is Going To Give You An Enron Screwing
March 23, 2009

Robert Kuttner takes apart the Obama plan to rescue the rich with Tim Geithner’s and Larry Summers’ new plan over at Huffington Post.

A nice summary…

If this all sounds vaguely familiar, Geithner’s Treasury, with no sense of irony, is offering a reprise of the several abusive and opaque gimmicks that produced this crisis, a tour that winds back down Memory Lane, from AIG to Enron.

The Lion just loves the bit where Kuttner says the Geithner gang wants to take some of the money for this from the FDIC, the only agency that is behaving rationally and competently as banks fall all around the country, and that is running out of money. Note that the FDIC folks are the ones who can do the most to protect your money in the banks. Timmy and Larry are dedicated to protecting their old buddies on Wall Street, and neither has demonstrated that he has a clue about Main Street.

Obama’s intentions are being subverted by the Old Rich Boy network on Wall Street that is apparently actually running the country. And they don’t give a flying goddam about the country.

Maybe those outraged citizens parading around in front of AIG ought to start thinking about picking up some bricks and taking down some windows and some fancy cars, because the so-called Big Boys need to have their dicks shrunk with some of the fear pervading the Main Street where the Little People live.

The Lion notes the stock market has gone up a thousand points in two weeks. Not surprising since so many stocks are so cheap. Not surprising since the government keeps saying in effect that it will protect shareholders and will finance a giveaway of taxpayer money to any of the Wall Street/Hedge Fund/Old Boys/Rich People’s network who like privatized profit and socialized risk for themselves while they piss on the peons who work for a living and provide the tax money that keeps the rotten bastards afloat in champagne and yachts and fancy cars and expensive whores. You can bet your shrunken pension they are just drooling at the thought of getting their hands on taxpayer money. Hence, the rise in the stock market, which, by the way, is not the economy.

To quote the famous, the notorious, the devoutly perceptive Evo, “We’re fucked.”

Thom Hartmann Takes Names
March 23, 2009

Thom Hartmann, in a piece at Common Dreams, points the finger at the real culprits in the economic meltdown, and it’s not the little guys at AIG. Not surprisingly, one of the biggest criminals bears the initials RR, and it ain’t Rolls Royce. And just to keep things in balance, there’s also the guy initialed WJC.

Pope Condemns Sorcery, Orders Christ Arrested By Inquisition
March 22, 2009

From the Associated Press in today’s Globe, on Pope Jonny Ratz’s trip to the evil continent of Africa:

LUANDA, Angola – Tens of thousands of Angola’s Catholics lined the streets of the capital yesterday for a blessing from Pope Benedict XVI, who urged the country’s faithful to reach out and convert people who believe in witchcraft.

"In today’s Angola," he said at Mass in Luanda, "Catholics should offer the message of Christ to the many who live in the fear of spirits, of evil powers by whom they feel threatened."

And later, near the end of the story:

The pope began his day addressing Catholic clergymen and nuns, telling them to be missionaries to those Angolans "living in fear of spirits, of malign and threatening powers.

Let’s see, Christ turned water into wine, brought a dead man back to life, got himself up out of his tomb, disappeared into the sky, healed some sick people considered incurable.

Yup. For sure, a sorcerer or witch or warlock. Definitely a candidate for the tender mercies of the old Inquisition’s torture chambers which would have made him confess that he was in league with Satan and thus eligible for the garrote or a public burning.

And let’s not forget that the church still condones and performs exorcisms, which is about as bald a statement as can be had that the Pope and his priests believe devils and demons actually exist and buzz around the earth taking over humans, usually, one might guess, ignorant, poverty stricken humans who are prone to see Christ or his mom engraved into the cheese of toasted cheese sandwiches.

Then we also have the profound authority of the Governor of the State of Louisiana, one Bobby Jindal, a devout Catholic, who took part in an exorcism and who believes demons are real and walk the earth.

The Pope and Jindal and their priests and acolytes are just as benighted as the ignorant villagers in Africa who believe in the nonsense of witchery and sorcery. The big difference? The Pope’s got a lot of gold and the villagers have got mud.

The Lion would like to extend a warm welcome into the twenty-first century to the Charlatan in Chief of the Catholic Church, Pope Jonny Ratz.

Huzzah!

 

Chutzpah Redefined! AIG Sues US For Tax Refund
March 20, 2009

Yes, it’s true. The company that paid $165 million in taxpayer money as bonuses to the people who brought the firm, and the American economy, to its knees, the company that took $180 billion from the taxpayers to keep itself alive, is suing the Federal government for $306 million in tax refunds.

To put it another way, the criminals want a refund of taxes they paid on some dodgy deals.

To put it yet another way, it’s time for the Feds to cut the legs out from under these people and put a bullet in the corporate head.

And maybe it’s time for Obama to get the Wall Streeters out of his cabinet and get some people who have no financial or emotional interests in the Wall Street culture that has brought the country down.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Galbraith Makes The Economic Crisis Clear (But You Gotta Think And Pay Attention)
March 19, 2009

A long but interesting and informative piece on the economy by James K. Galbraith (yeah, the kid) over at Common Dreams.

Adam, Eve, And The Banana
March 18, 2009

In Volume 96 of American Scientist Fenella Saunders writes of Dan Koeppel’s book Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World:

In ancient translations of the Bible, he [Koeppel] says, Eve was tempted in the Garden of Eden not by an apple but a banana…

While the fruit of the apple could engender a religion, all that could come of a banana is a stand-up comedy routine.

The Lion would guess that’s the root of the translator’s decision to change fruits.

Please, feel free to indulge your sense of humor…