Archive for October, 2014

American Exceptionalism? I Take Exception To That.
October 21, 2014

One public definition of American Exceptionalism reads, “American exceptionalism is the theory that the United States is qualitatively different from other nation states.”

One could engage in a prolix discussion of this, that, and the other that prove or disprove that America is exceptional, and the result would be a lot of wasted breath on both sides.

But perhaps a simpler path is available. Baseball.

Is America exceptional because its professional baseball league runs a contest every year to determine the best pro team in American baseball and calls it ‘The World Series’? While it barely qualifies as a series worth a capital S, it does not involve baseball teams from any other country (alright, Canadian teams in MLB are eligible, but not as Canada). What the league calls a ‘World’ series is really nothing more than a local, United States activity.

For a real World Series one might want to consider the four-year international marathon of soccer, the World Cup, involving scores of nations.

Or perhaps the annual UEFA Championships of European pro soccer. Or the international Rugby championship. Or Cricket.

Now those could righteously be called World Series.

So perhaps we might consider America exceptional in that it pretends – oh, let’s just call it a lie – that it is a world class player playing in a worldwide baseball tournament.

It is not surprising that an American sport overbills itself this way, particularly baseball. After all, the lies and hypocrisy start out in baseball’s childhood game, the Little League. (Oh, how dare I sully that bastion of childhood and innocence! Perhaps because my idea of childhood does not involve angry, screaming parents and coaches.)

In any event, the Little League also runs a ‘World Series’ every year, down in Pennsylvania somewhere, I believe. Now it is true that the LLWS does involve teams from several countries, and that there is a playoff to determine the best teams for the final one-game ‘series’.

Actually, there are two playoff round-robins. In one, the non-US teams play each other to determine a contender. In the other, only US teams play to determine a contender.

Did you catch the whiff of American exceptionalism there? Did you notice that in the Little League World Series, there will always be a US team playing a foreign team. In effect, the LLWS is rigged.

In a fair contest, only one US team would be involved, and it would play in the round-robin with the foreign teams to determine the two best teams for the final. The US would thus not be guaranteed a spot in the final, and the LLWS could then call itself a real World Series.

Until that happens, perhaps it’s best to just consider the winner of the foreign playoffs the World Champion, who deign to play a United States team in a demonstration game that the Little League powers-that-be insist, contrary to fact and fair play, is a championship game.

As it is below, in the LLWS, so it is above, in Major League Baseball.

American Exceptionalism. A lie, a hypocrisy, an ego trip of gigantic proportion unrelated to reality.

That said, my bet in the World Series this year is on… umm… wait, who’s playing tonight?

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Ebola And The Three Stooges
October 18, 2014

The three stooges in this case are any three Republican wingers who are pushing the idea that the United States is in deadly peril because we had a couple of cases of Ebola and one entire, whole dead man. By extension ‘any three Republican wingers’ pretty much covers the entire Republican party, which seeks to spread terror about Ebola for the sole purpose of garnering votes next month. Americans appear to be stupid enough to allow that strategy to succeed.

However, by misdirecting the attention of the American electorate, they leave more room for the real threat. India. Southeast Asia. If the virus gets to India and Southeast Asia, given the massive poverty and the massive crowding of the poor in the major cities and the culture of saving face rather than saving lives, the virus will feed on those conditions and with a base like that it’s likely to burn its way through the primate population across the whole planet (primates include humans, though most of the other primates, I suspect, want as little as possible to do with humans).

For all the macho talk coming from Washington about the United States being prepared to handle an Ebola outbreak here, the truth is closer to the thought that American hospitals, in a serious outbreak, would just wash away in a stream of blood. They couldn’t handle it. They’d be overwhelmed in a matter of weeks.

Here’s a bit of a sample of what’s up, from a commenter at Talking Points Memo yesterday:

My wife’s ER has an ‘ebola cart’ with some lightweight protective gear and written instructions for putting on a PPE, but the instructions are a loose bundle of papers and the pictures don’t match the gear in the cart and has inaccuracies that put them at serious risk. It’s an object of gallows humor for the staff. That’s the totality of their training or preparedness so far.

The commenter notes further on that the head of the hospital publicly declared that the hospital, a large hospital in a major city, is fully prepared to handle an outbreak.

Yeah, okay. The American Ethic: Cover your ass, always, and never mind reality.

Imagine masses of people fleeing India and Asia ahead of the epidemic. Panicked. Hysterical. Seriously determined to get the hell out of the way and into… oh, right, the United States where they will be safe and secure. A dozen carriers hiding in American city slums and civilization falls apart, with half the world dead. Slums in London. Paris. Moscow. Madrid. Istanbul. Indonesia. Tokyo. Manila. Australia might make it through, being an island continent, but all those sneaky Indonesians are just a stone’s throw away and they’ll just come crawling up the beaches in the dead of night, bleeding as they go, and pretty soon it’s ‘On The Beach’ again, only messier. Maybe Tony Abbott can build walls of coal along the shores of the continent.

Not too far fetched really. Especially given the willful ignorance and unmitigated stupidity of the politicians the Americans have sent to Washington and to their various state capitols the last couple of decades. Most of the Republican members of the House science committee have publicly stated, one way or another, that they don’t believe in science. I suspect that for all the noise they’re making about Ebola they don’t believe in viruses either.

And if the Republicans win control of the Senate next month, you can bet the Three Stooges Protocols of the American Government will be operating in full force. (Apologies to the original Three Stooges, who were a lot smarter than most of the Republicans slithering around on the floor of the House and Senate.)

Some of the more astute among you may have noticed I didn’t include China in the scenario. I suspect that if Ebola showed its bloody face in China, the victims and their families and friends would be summarily executed, their bodies burned en masse, and any town or city that harbored the virus  would be firebombed to ashes, people and all. Followed of course by an announcement that there is not and never was Ebola in China.

Why Antarctic Sea Ice Has Increased…
October 11, 2014

 

Hint: it’s because of global warming climate change… so it’s not a good sign as some would crow.

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Get Out Your Waders and Forget About Seafood. Hot Seas Are Here.
October 6, 2014

Maybe one of these days the scientists will stop making estimates that are conservative and safe and start stomping their feet and raging at the idiot politicians pushing civilization into that not-so-good night.

Here’s a good start…

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Ebola Interview
October 6, 2014

 

Here’s an interview in The Guardian with the scientist who discovered the Ebola virus back in 1976. Interesting read.

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