Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Are you an African-American man? Hope your EPHB2 is healthy!

Oh, so this is what it looks like when somebody patents a piece of the human genome (emphasis added):

The present invention provides compositions and methods of using the EPHB2 gene or its related signaling pathways to detect, prognosticate, assess the risk of, prevent, or treat cancers. Cancers amenable to the present invention include, but are not limited to, prostate cancer, breast cancer, and neuroblastoma. In one aspect, the present invention provides compositions which comprise an agent capable of eradicating or alleviating an abnormality in the EPHB2 gene or its related signaling pathways. This abnormality may cause or contribute to the development or progression of cancers. In another aspect, the present invention provides methods comprising detecting an abnormality in the EPHB2 gene or its related signaling pathways. The presence or absence of such an abnormality is indicative of the risk or disease status of cancer in a person of interest. 
1. A method of selecting a pharmaceutical composition capable of correcting the phenotype resulting from a change in expression or function caused by a 3055A→T mutation in a polynucleotide comprising an EPHB2 gene (SEQ ID NO.: 2 or 4) comprising:culturing a cell comprising a 3055A→T mutation in a polynucleotide comprising an EPHB2 gene (SEQ ID NO.: 2 or 4)contacting a candidate pharmaceutical composition with the cellevaluating the capability of the candidate pharmaceutical composition to correct the result.
2. The method of claim 1 wherein the candidate pharmaceutical composition comprises a chemical compound. 
3. The method of claim 1 wherein the candidate pharmaceutical composition comprises an RNAi. 
4. The method of claim 1 wherein the candidate pharmaceutical composition comprises an antibody Fv region. 
5. The method of claim 1 wherein the phenotype comprises a change in the expression of a gene other than the EPHB2 gene (SEQ ID NO.: 2 or 4) 
6. The method of claim 5 wherein the change in the expression of a gene other than EPHB2 is measured by the detection of a change in mRNA expression. 
7. The method of claim 5 wherein the change in the expression of a gene other than EPHB2 is measured by the detection of a change in protein expression. 
8. The method of claim 1 wherein the phenotype comprises abnormal cell growth. 
9. The method of claim 8 wherein the candidate pharmaceutical composition is capable of conditionally suppressing the abnormal cell growth. 
10. The method of claim 1 wherein the cell is derived from a prostate cancer. 
11. The method of claim 10 wherein the cell is derived from an African-American man. 
12. The method of claim 43 wherein the culturing occurs within an animal.
I couldn't find any "claim 43" in the available documentation.

Basically this looks like a catch-all patent request so that they can have an exclusive market for developing medical products based off of anything they can demonstrate to be directly related to problems with the EPHB2 gene.

It is disturbing that they are including an explicitly racial component in a patent about testing for cancer.  I doubt its for anything as fucked up as back when the US government would let Black men die of syphilis for lulz.  Probably the researchers involved noted that Black Americans suffer at greater rates from diseases such as cancers and are hedging their bets that it is related to something genetic rather than environmental factors related to cyclical poverty.

That's the extent of my ability to comprehend the science involved, and is probably well past my ability to decode the legalese... if I'm mistaken please correct me!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Kingdom Under Fire 2 still under development!

I'm a huge fan of the two Xbox entries in the Kingdom Under Fire series, but I lost track of the development of Kingdom Under Fire 2 quite a while ago.  I kinda just assumed that the game was long since cancelled since I had never heard anything about it since 2009.   It turns out I was just not paying enough attention!

I'm happy enough that I'm not even going to mention how fucked up and stupid Circle of Doom was.  (The poor elf woman probably had her lobotomy at the same institution as Samus....)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

In which I instantly, though rationally, fall in love.

Details were leaked about Bungie's new game.

All I have to say is this: it has a goddamn mech.

Reminds me of a song...

Monday, November 5, 2012

Still alive. Still mostly sentient.

In the best of times I have difficulty writing at any great length about any subject.  Right now I am struggling just to write short essays for my classes.  So yeah.  Life's not bad, but my brain just isn't cooperating with my attempts to keep up with this blog.


See you later.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Inspiration at last!

Life has been stressful lately, and I haven't really been able to work up the perfect combination of inspiration, enthusiasm and mental clarity in order to write a half-assed blog post.

Today that all changed.

Perhaps you have seen those vending machines that give out cups of coffee?  Today I purchased a cup of coffee from such a machine, and behold!  The machine gave me all of my money back for no reason.

Truly this is an amazing day.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Territorial Pissing
"Greek neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn has opened up an office in New York, the Greek Reporter reported this week."
The semi-ironic thing is that this "invasion by foreigners" has my blood riled up and I feel ready to fight them.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Good month to be a gamer, if you can find the time.

Torchlight 2, Borderlands 2, Faster Than Light, and Don't Starve.


I also have to study for classes, scratch out a social life, remember to walk the dog occasionally,etc.

Hhmmm feels like I'm forgetting to mention something important that is sucking up a lot of time also....

Monday, September 10, 2012

No tolerance for nationalists.

I've been arguing with fellow leftists about the way the Quebec elections have played out.  Short story is that the disruption caused by the student strikes and civil protests (over a large number of grievances) has enabled a nationalist party to take power from the liberals in the regional government.

As Socialist Worker sums it up:
The Liberals' defeat can be traced to that defiance. But the Parti Québécois, which has just won, is not an ally of the movement. The new government will probably seek to negotiate a smaller fees increase with the agreement of the less militant student bodies. At any rate, the movement has long been about more than fees.
Unmentioned in that article is that Parti Québécois is a separatist and francophone nationalist party.

"Oh, but they are so Left Wing!" - My friends and peers exclaim.

Yeah, sure.  Whatever.

These people usually take a very principled stand for international solidarity, and it scares me to see them uncritically calling this election "a total victory" for our politics.  Undoubtedly the defeat, even if only temporary, of the tuition hikes in Quebec is amazing; but the fact that that victory has propelled an ethnic segregationist political party into power is bitterly distasteful, and may well prove to catastrophic to the Canadian left.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


From that link (emphasis added):

Family members of 11 of the 12 who died in the shooting on 20 July joined relatives of some of the injured at a news conference in which they disclosed increasingly rancorous relations between them and local organisations purporting to help them. They complained that although the funds had been raised to support victims and their families, they had been entirely cut out of decision-making process over how the money should be used.
The website of the fund states explicitly that "it does not make grants directly to individuals, but to non-profit organizations offering assistance to those individuals". 
When Teves protested that the families wanted a robust voice over how the funds were allocated, he said he was told that they should start their own money-raising charity.

Monday, August 20, 2012

I'm back, but not to save the Universe.

See what I did there in the title? *lame, self-satisfied chuckling*

Anyway, was gone for a few weeks on vacation.  My mind is still gleefully empty thanks to the seemingly endless flood of margaritas and interesting people (the two may be related somehow).

I'll chime back in later once I get re acclimated to Wisconsin and caught up on what's been happening in the world.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Wait, so "social spiders" are a thing?

So I was just killing time reading random things about different species of spiders and decided that, since every type of spider that I'm aware of is a solitary creature, I'd do a search for "social spider".


Yeah yeah yeah whatever, the link is to Wikipedia, but still this blew my mind:
Even widow spiders (genus Latrodectus), which are notoriously aggressive and cannibalistic, have formed small colonies in captivity, sharing webs and feeding together
I guess there is hope for Republicans after all!

Anyway, I have the strange feeling that I've discovered my latest obsession.  Last semester I wrote a paper on hyenas because I read about them obsessively, maybe my next one will be on spiders.

Stop laughing.  Spider colonies are so fucking cool!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

"updated" the "into the darknes..." post fyi

I crossed the whole thing out, because it was stupid.  Rereading it, it seems that I was still recovering from my days as a neocon.  Ewe.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Life and death in a nation of fear. (a shamefully self-centered post in the wake of a tragedy)

There was a shooting at a theater, two thousand miles from my home but showing the same movie I wanted to go see with a cousin.

I don't want to go see the movie now.  I do not think I'm scared (consciously, at least), just kind of frustrated and sad.  I spend so much time reading about violence and death- drone strikes in Yemen, disappeared labor organizers in South America, Black kids beaten by the NYPD etc.

That's in addition to the 'normal' things that we're confronted with every day.  Turn on the TV and see another mutilated corpse on one of the hundreds of 'cop' shows.  I play video-games and get points for killing my friends.  Go to a book store and there are rows and rows of carnage (why are all the "fantasy" books about killing things?), go to the mall and there are Army recruiters.  Walk down the street and see Christians screaming about abortions and hellfire.  Try talking about politics with anyone (and with the billions being spent on political advertising it is impossible for it not to come up in conversation every day) and it is always in apocalyptic terminology about "financial meltdown", "Public Sector Parasites", "regulatory tyranny", "police state", "War on Drugs", "War on Terrorism", "11 million Illegal Aliens".

"They Hate Us For Our Freedoms!"

The new Batman movies are all about shadowy entities that want to use violence to destroy our civilization, who can only be countered by the vigilante brutality of an elite few.  For the fascists in Greece and the border militias in the US it means going out and thrashing the migrant workers and the refugees. To Obama that means raining death down on family gatherings in the desert because there might be A TERRORISTtm there.  I'm sure the shit-head in Colorado felt like he had a perfectly justified reason too.

"Stay at home."  "Be afraid."  "They are out there, among us."  "Load your weapons and be ready Stand Your Ground."

"Land of Free and home of the Brave." - It makes me want to vomit.

Friday, July 13, 2012

So, are Nazis "socialists"?

The question as to whether or not the National Socialists are "socialists" is almost entirely meaningless at this point since the commonly accepted definitions of socialism are so vapid and divorced from historical context.

Nonetheless, Marxists are going to have to offer clear and principled explanations to these questions if they are to become relevant to the global Left once more.

So, are Nazis "socialists"?

At the time Marx and Engels wrote the Communist Manifesto they were very explicit in explaining that they were using to word "Communist" so that they could differentiate themselves from various "socialists" such as the Utopians and various 'reformers'.  This touches on the core problem with defining socialism properly: it has never been a term for a movement with any set goal, but rather is a term that covers a broad spectrum of reaction against the negative aspects of Capitalist society.

In this sense the Nazis have some claim to being socialists, at least ideologically.  They are socialists, however, in a way that is completely at odds with Marxist socialism, just as the Utopian cults in the United States had nothing to do with Marxism.

Marxism, in the sense of "what Marx actually wrote, rather than all that state-bureaucratic bullshit that dominated the Cold War", is about worker's control of society politically, economically, and for the most part socially, in a very "bottom up" way.  It is about economic planning based around cooperatively meeting human needs and wants, and ending capital exploitation.

National Socialism was about purging Germany of "parasitic" peoples and concentrating power in the hands of a ruling minority who would restore the German people to greatness.  In this way it was similar in many important aspects to Stalinist, "Socialism in One Country."  The important difference is that Stalin (while being a grotesque monster who made a mockery of Marxism) at least paid lip service to ending exploitation of the working classes, and largely abolished the capitalist markets within the USSR (to disastrous effect, in many places they would have been better off under pure capitalism than under Stalin).  In comparison the Nazis's central leaders never talked about ending capitalism, only ridding it of its "Jewish" and "anti-German" components.

So the Nazis, in rhetoric, were kinda socialists.  In practice they really weren't (most of their nominally "socialist" reforms such as "abolition of the standing military and its replacement with the armed German People" they never even tried to implement) and even in rhetoric their claim to being socialists is tenuous at best.

The fundamental issue for Marxists is that the Nazis rejected entirely the core parts of our version of socialism: the self-emancipation of the working class, the abolition of all exploiting classes, an end to all forms of exploitation and repression (that of women, national/ethnic minorities, LGBT, etc), and international solidarity.

Friday, July 6, 2012

North Korea's "new" song.

Remember those children singing a song about President Obama?  The one about children singing praises to the Dear Leader?  No?  Well I assure you that Fox News hasn't forgotten yet.

Anyway here's another song about a Glorious Leader.  This one is from North Korea.

In 1951 Natalia Sedova Trotsky wrote a letter of resignation from the Fourth International which said in part, "Obsessed by old and outlived formulas, you continue to regard the Stalinist state as a workers state. I cannot and will not follow you in this."  Obscenely much of the Trotskyist left has yet to grasp the wisdom in her words.

The ideas put forward by too many of my comrades that North Korea is a "deformed" or "degenerate" worker's state are nothing more than obscene jokes being told by children who fail to grasp the significance of their words.

Update: Ah! I forgot to link to her letter.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Random Inspirational Quote

Holy shit I've been busy lately :)

I just finished an excellent book titled Revolutionary Rehearsals.  The core of the book is a series of examinations of five different 'failed revolutions' (France 1968, Chile 1972-'73, Portugal 1974-'75, Iran 1979, Poland 1980-'81) and an analysis of the lessons to be learned from their successes and failures.

Despite the bleak subject matter there is an overall optimistic tone to the book, and I want to repost a few things from the final summary here.

None of this is copy/pasted.  I had to type it up manually and apologise for any errors in advance.  Obviously the brackets are my own.
How do situations of this kind arise?  Much of the time, after all, social revolution appears a forlornly improbable and utopian hope.  The dominant images of society emphasise order and continuity, mere reproduction.  Socialists - and especially revolutionaries - are a small minority, whose view seem at best eccentric.
[Skip ahead a bunch of pages]
In such a [revolutionary] situation there is an unleashing of what Lenin, writing on the 1905 revolution, called 'festive energy'.  The term is apt.  The development of a revolutionary situation involves a great change in the psychology of millions of people.  New hopes emerge.  Previous habits of subordination and deference collapse.  A new sense of personal and collective power develops.  The 'common sense' of class society suddenly falters.  Normal everyday social relations are transformed.  Historic hierarchies - in workplaces, in the state, in schools and college, in families - are threatened or actually tumble.  Old divisions between different groups of workers, national and ethnic groups, among peasants, between men and women are shattered and re-shaped by the development of new solidarities.  Ordinary people find them-selves performing tasks and assuming repsonsibilities from which society previously excluded them.  New kinds of competence appear, new divisions of labour, new powers.
Popular Confidence and imagination advance by leaps and bounds.  With them, practical intelligence also rises: nothing is so mentally numbing as the act of subordination.  Every 'festival of the oppressed' involves a sudden release of collective pleasure [ewe].  Perspectives alter, the horizons of possibility extend.
From personal experience, this was exactly what was beginning to happen during the Capitol Occupation in Madison a year ago.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Remember Egypt?

Things aren't going very well in Egypt right now (link to Socialist Worker article):  
But the Sunday maneuver by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) was an even bolder grab for power. "With the new Constitutional Declaration issued by SCAF tonight, Egypt has completed its full transition into a military dictatorship," human rights activist Hossam Bahgat wrote on Twitter.
First, despite half the population voting for revolutionary candidates, in the presidential election they ended up with a choice between a Muslim Brotherhood (Islamist/capitalist hack) and a Junta official.

Now the Supreme Court is shredding the rights of the people it ostensibly was created to protect.  (kinda sounds familiar...)

Find out if any solidarity rallies are taking place near you and show up!  This is important especially if you live in a larger city with an Egyptian consulate- protests alone won't help anything, but it is important to do whatever we can to keep this in the popular consciousness here in the United States, especially since it is our tax and corporate money that feeds the Egyptian military and without US pressure for change nothing good will come from the situation over there.

(minor edits for formatting)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

WATCH IT NOW!!!! (assuming you like Starcraft...)

If you enjoy Starcraft 2 pro-gaming you need to go watch this video.

Don't read any of the comments!  Just trust me that around the half-way point things get amazing.  (update: Specifically, 21 minutes into the video if you're impatient.)

If you aren't a Starcraft 2 fan, well- uh, not much to say at the moment.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Random Review: "Relapse" by Ministry

meh.  Ministry's new album isn't as shamefully bad as a lot of people were expecting, but it isn't particularly great either.

Except for Double Tap.  That song is amazing- it perfectly captures the strange mix of joy, frustration, and gruesome catharsis so many people felt about the assassination of Osama Bin Laden.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

*sigh* - The Democrats drop another easy victory.

Governor Scott Walker has won against his Democrat challenger in the recall election here in Wisconsin.

Forget the Democrats- the real losers here are everyone who want an escape from the suffocating Two Party System here in the US.  The mass demonstrations that kicked off because of the Republican government's assault on worker's rights were not about getting Democrats elected.  The fact is that the Democrats and their enablers in the labor movement successfully co-opted the the protests and converted them into a grand electioneering campaign, and this would be to the detriment of everyone even if Barret had won.

Because we're essentially only allowed one candidate from each of the two major political parties in most elections here in the US, both sides abuse the "well the other side is worse!" argument.  In this instance it was nauseating watching the whole spectacle; the fact that Barret is a hack who used many the worst parts of the Republican legislation to attack organized labor in Milwaukee is just adding insult to injury.

So yes, as always I would have preferred for the Democrat to beat the Republican.  I'm still not going to lose any sleep over this particular loss- there is hard work to be done outside and away from the Democrats, and none of it would be any easier because of the Democratic Party, even though it will be much more difficult with the Republicans instead.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Random Review - In Progress: Dust 514 (NDA Compliant!)

So I'm in the Dust 514 beta, and the non-disclosure agreement is pretty draconian for a semi-public beta.

Nonetheless!  I have a few things I want to record as I slog my way through this thing.  Here is the NDA; I've read the confidentiality agreement and an confident that nothing here violates if.  If anyone wants me to take this post down just let me know.

Let's start with some background.  Dust 514 is the "ground side" compliment to the zealously-love-it-or-rabidly-hate-it EVE Online.  EVE is an a "massively multiplayer" game contained entirely within a single persistent universe where hundreds of thousands of players (though there are usually only 20-40 thousand on at a time) engage in pretty much anything you can imagine, from working the player-driven markets for a quick (and fake, this isn't Diablo 3 with its insane "real world money" mechanics) buck or fighting in 1000+ person battles for control of large sections of space.

It's kind of hard to explain, but I love it.

All of the action in EVE Online takes place flying in spaceships for the most part (you spend an unfortunate amount of time staring at menus in space stations though).  Dust 514 is an attempt to add planet-side warfare to the macro-strategic elements of EVE.  While EVE is a PC/MAC exclusive game, Dust 514 is only on PS3.  There is no space combat in Dust, instead you get a FPS in the vein of the Halo/CoD/Battlefield series.  Right now there isn't any real connection to EVE other than thematically, so I can't really comment on how well it integrates into EVE's radically different style of gameplay, but that will change as the beta test progresses.

Impressions after about an hour of gameplay, including dead-time sifting through menus:
  • I play on a standard-definition television, and CCP (the creators of EVE and Dust) unfortunately hasn't taken into account the effect of HD-text on a proletarian's TV.  I literally can't read half of the things written on the screen.  This isn't a unique problem to Dust, but there are plenty of contemporary games that don't have this problem and I hope CCP addresses it soon.
  • The visuals in general seem low-resolution and ugly.  The battlefields are rather large, but the lack of visual fidelity is alarming.
  • It is way too frustrating to tell the difference between allies and enemies.  The low-quality visuals and the lack of easy identifiers means you often can't pick out who is who in a firefight, and will inevitably waste some ammo on team mates.
  • Overall it is still fun, and character customization does feel a lot like spaceship 'fitting' in EVE.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

An unelected and unaccountable official who I'd vote for!

America, Fuck Yeah! [link to article by Glenn Greenwald]


A federal district judge today, the newly-appointed Katherine Forrest of the Southern District of New York, issued an amazing ruling: one which preliminarily enjoins enforcement of the highly controversial indefinite provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act, enacted by Congress and signed into law by President Obama last December. This afternoon’s ruling came as part of a lawsuit brought by seven dissident plaintiffs — including Chris Hedges, Dan Ellsberg, Noam Chomsky, and Birgitta Jonsdottir — alleging that the NDAA violates ”both their free speech and associational rights guaranteed by the First Amendment as well as due process rights guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution.”

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Yes Virginia, the Public Sector is the problem. [micro-updated]

Whenever the so-called Great Recession* is discussed the conversation has a tendency to become binary in nature.  If you read the comment threads on a site, such as Matt Taibbi's excellent blog, the discussion becomes this-
Person A: "The financial industry is to blame."
Person B: "No, the Government is to blame."
Sometimes Person C will butt-in (and rudely turn the discussion into a ternary one) to pin the tail on the lazy donkey, "No, the Idle Masses are to blame!"
As with most any over-generalized caricature there is a modicum of truth to all three, though in this case it is not in equal amounts.

The main problem is that A and B both fail to realize that the government and financial industry are indistinguishable at this point.

There are small pieces of the various governments, such as the public sector unions and populist politicians, who don't view their role as shoveling wealth upon the elite economic interests.  Those pieces are being marginalized and excised with increasing zeal every day by the real powers in government.

In order to understand the role of government in this mess you have to start with the hack politicians.  They are funneled through an electoral apparatus such as the US's Two Party System which requires them to cozy up to the economic elites in order to have a chance of being elected, though typically the politician is one of those elites to begin with.  Once in office the politicians appoint unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats, drawn from the corporate and financial sectors, and it is those bureaucrats who do all of the actual work of governing!

To blame only the public or the private sector, to only blame one or the other, is to miss entirely half of the problem!  They are not competing interests, but rather are one unified power structure which thrives on confusing and dividing the general population.  Just look at how the American Republicans blame the government that they inhabit and the Democrats offer tepid chastisement of everyone while both the Rs and Ds execute political programs that are merely different interpretations of the same economic strategy.  Incidentally, while the differences between different main-stream political parties are very important, in the long run the end results are nearly indistinguishable!

And the "idle masses"?  They, including the non-idle masses, have yet to organize themselves and smash apart the systems of financial, corporate, and government exploitation.

Unfortunately I'll need some more coffee before I'm ready for that.
* I'm sure that the citizens of the Southern Cone were happy to be informed by Serious Economists that the '70s and '80s weren't a time of great economic suffering like they remembered.
[Updated because I forgot a paragraph and also can't spell.  Sorry.]

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

So my Greek comrades have done pretty well for themselves....

Just chiming in for a second so that I can be on the record with this:

The radical left coalition has done amazingly well in the most recent elections in Greece, and are already shaking things up. [from the Guardian, emphasis added]

The fate of Greece is, on Tuesday night, in the hands of the leader of a far-left party who launched the quest to form a government by declaring the country could no longer commit itself to the terms of an international loan agreement keeping its economy afloat. 
After accepting a mandate to create a multiparty administration following inconclusive elections, Alexis Tsipras sent shockwaves through financial markets by announcing the pledges Athens had made to secure rescue funds from the EU and IMF were null and void. 
"The popular verdict clearly renders the bailout deal null," said the politician, whose stridently anti-austerity coalition of the radical left, known as Syriza, sprung the surprise of the weekend's poll, coming in second with 16.8% of the vote. "This is an historic moment for the left and the popular movement and a great responsibility for me."  
[...]Syriza, a coalition of ex-communists, Maoists, Trotskyists, socialists and greens[...]
Two important things to say here:

  • The Maoists are on board with this and still the KKE (a Stalin-esque party) is refusing to join the coalition!  Somebody needs to tell them that the 3rd International is long dead [hurray!] and they can stop being slaves to Soviet Union reactionary policies.
  • On the Marxist/Socialist/Communist spectrum I'm ideologically closest to the Trotskyists; when I refer to "my comrades" in the title of this post I primarily mean them.  I'm also perfectly happy to include other Eevull Commees when they are doing good work.
    • Anyway, I won't be terribly surprised if Syriza coalition ultimately disappoints on every front, but please comrades, don't let me down.

Friday, April 27, 2012

fyi: two posts I'm working on rewriting.

It has been a while since I posted anything of note, so I just wanted to explain that I'm working on revised versions of these two posts.  They are two of the most viewed on this blog, and considering how much attention they've been receiving I'm really not satisfied with the quality of the writing (ad hominids!?!?! wtf).

So... yeah... now you know....

I'm not going to hold my breath.

I read way too much stuff on Salon; anyways go read this post, "Joseph McCarthy Reborn."  Here's the last paragraph, emphasis added:
So beware, Rep. West, beware: In the flammable pool of toxic paranoia that passes these days as patriotism in America, a single careless match can light an inferno. You would serve your country well to withdraw your remarks and apologize for them. But if not, perhaps there are members of your own party, as possessed of conscience and as courageous as that handful of Republicans who took on Joseph McCarthy, who will now abandon fear and throw cold water on your incendiary remarks.
Heh, and right after that the congressional Dems with admonish Obama for the ever expanding war on terror insanity.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

whoa.... shiny......

A bit out of it lately, but not in a bad way.

  • I replayed some of Halo: Reach today.  It's been a long time and it feels good to remember just how much I love Bungie's games.
  • I'm feeling completely overloaded on political/social/economic literature.  I think I'll shelve Orwell's Homage to Catalonia and finish the Warhammer 40k book I have laying around.
  • I'm horribly ignorant of contemporary European politics (wait, didn't I just say I'm sick of this stuf?!? aaahhh!!!!) but the voting in France has me concerned.  Just under 20% of the vote went to a far right candidate.
  • Apparently, however, a nominally Socialist candidate took the single largest group of votes at just under 30%.
  • Questions I have:
    • How do French elections work?
    • How do French electoral politics normally play out?
    • What are the historic precedents for the performance of the various parties?
    • How "far right" are we dealing with here?
    • Are there any real Socialist parties (anti-capitalism, in favor of mass democracy, etc) worth noting in France?  What about Marxist parties?
  • Quick!  I must go do extensive research on French politics walk my dog and play more Halo!

Friday, April 20, 2012

When the fuck did this start to happen?

God damn it, when did Wisconsin, my home state, turn in to this?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Wow [something positive]

Don't laugh; I'm just having one of those neurotic moments when I need to post something [relatively] cheerful because the top post on my blog is too depressing :P

edit: *facepalm* posted wrong version of video at first.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

That IS NOT acceptable.

Just an example:

I support the Palestinian resistance but capital punishment, targeting civilians, and political repression are never acceptable.

It's hard to support an organization when it so consistently sinks to level of its opposition.  I understand that revolution and resistance are bloody affairs, but that does not excuse such cold-blooded and calculated killings.

Truly the, "Yeah well the Americans do this all the time," defense is an ethically bankrupt phrase.

A surprisingly non-flaky article.

It occurred to me just now that I never posted a link to this surprisingly (given the title and subject matter) good article.

Speaking of hippies, George Orwell once complained that “the mere words ‘Socialism’ and ‘Communism,’ draw towards them with magnetic force every fruit-juice drinker, nudist, sandal-wearer, sex maniac, Quaker, ‘Nature Cure’ quack, pacifist and feminist in England.” 
Feminist, mind you.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

I also want to puke.

Neat video showing lots of love for Femshep from the Mass Effect series.

The comments section for that video is painful.  Just fucking disgraceful.

Some jackass named Demolition_D
Sadly, the novelty wore off quick. They put this totally unrealistic, poorly spoken, testosterone emitting female lead with the same lines, same animations, and same everything as male Sheperd into a universe and story that takes itself so seriously that, as a writer, made me want to puke it was so poorly stitched together.
That's why I traded that bitch in for DMC HD.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm all for a strong female lead. But this is not how it's done. You shouldn't have to make a womanly do super manly things to convince us that's she's a strong female lead. Make her earn that conviction. Go watch David Fincher's "Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" if you want some indication of a good female lead, Bioware. You're supposed to prove to us that's she's strong in her own, original way, like tying a rapist to a bedpost and tattooing the word pig into his chest.
This kind of bullshit is endemic to pretty much all hardcore gaming communities, particularly for FPS and fighting games.

Incidentally I just figured out yesterday that Jennifer Hale, who does the voice for Sheppard, also did excellent voice work for the character Dr. Elizabeth McNeil in Doom 3's expansion pack, Bastila's voice in Star Wars: KoTOR, female Jaden's voice in Jedi Academy, all of which are games I love.

Leninism/Trotskyism and bulleted list! Yay!

I intend to eventually write an at length post about this stuff, but maybe I won't, and I just feel like posting something right now before I run out of coffee and, subsequently, motivation.
  • War Communism was a horrifying mistake.
  • Suppressing the Kronstadt Rebellion in 1921 unacceptable hypocrisy; if anything the Kronstadt revolutionaries were among the first ones to realize that something was going horribly wrong in the Soviet Union.
  • The failure of the Bolsheviks to include the lower-class peasantry (not all peasant were 'peasants' in the sense we use the word today, some were actually quite wealthy) in the power structures of the new society they were trying to create was one of the crucial failures of the early Soviets.  It led to a feedback cycle of callousness and hostility that led to senseless factionalism and frustrated the economic health of the Soviet Union, to say nothing of the brutality of the suppression of peasant discontent or the millions of people who starved to death.
  • Many lefties support strict bans on handguns and rifles.  This is born, in part, of an ignorance of the history of revolutionary struggle.  One example; in Chile on the eve of Pinochet's military coup president Allende allowed the military and police to confiscate the weapons that were being hoarded in places such as factories as insurance against a fascist counter revolution.  Allowing that disarmament to happen was, to put it mildly, completely moronic, and should have been apparent as such even before the coup happened.
  • The United States does not have a problem that we are near the point of too strictly restricting access to weapons.  The recent murders of Trayvon Martin and Bo Morrison have started to bring to people's attention a long-standing problem with our society: we have a culture and legal system that encourages violence and murder.
  • When I write the word 'eve' I instinctively write it in all capital letters, as EVE.  Holy shit I am addicted to EVE Online.
edited for formatting and grammar

Friday, March 30, 2012

United vs Popular front: How to relate to the Democrats?

Don't let the name of this post fool you; there is no reason to ever consider the adoption of Popular Front tactics.

But let's back up for a moment.

The rise of fascism in Europe caught everyone off guard.  From the time the Italian fascists became organized under Mussolini to the time they assumed power in Italy was about two years.  At no point was there any wide-spread effective resistance to the fascist onslaught.

The various Communist and Social Democracy sects were horrified by the obliteration of all Left (as well as most Right groups also, for the fascists are not content with half-measures, but now I'm getting distracted) and working class organizations in Italy in so short a time and in such a bloody manner.  In response, four general strategies were eventually put forward as a way of fighting back.

The concept of 'fighting', of course, being subjective.

Strategy: Quick, to the constitution!
Early (pre-Second World War) Twentieth Century marxist political parties can be divided into the categories of "reformist" and "revolutionary."  When confronted with the Stormtroopers the reformist parties of Germany and elsewhere retreated into the realm of government bureaucracy and constitutional handwringing.

For the Social Democrats of Germany this took the form of the so-called Iron Front.  The line of thinking was a simple as it was naive.

"The constitution guarantees a wide range of political and social freedoms.  We have the massive strength and resources of the working class as our base of support and the power of various police forces and parliamentary positions at our disposal.  Therefore, all we need to do is wait for this fascist 'fad' to pass!"

Needless to say, this failed.  Turns out that Hitler wasn't particularly fond of the Constitution.

Strategy: Fascists? What fascists?
Want to see a magic trick?

"The fascists are the party of bourgeois counter-revolution.  The Social Democrats are (de facto) the parliamentary screen for bourgeois negation of working class discontent.  Therefore, the fascists and the Social Democrats are the same thing!"

Thus the theory of "Social Fascism" was born.  The abominable child of the Stalinist clique in the USSR (which had taken power and purged all internal dissent at this point), Social Fascism was their first attempt to grapple with the lessons learned from the defeat of the communists in Italy.  Needless to say, they learned all the wrong lessons.

Operating under the theory of Social Fascism the official Communist party in Germany proceeded to act like the party of total lunatics; unsurprising given who was leading them at this point.  By holding that the Social Democrats were synonymous with the fascists the Communists completely isolated themselves from the overwhelming majority of german workers who were united under the Social Democratic banner!

In the end the Communists were one of the few groups who bravely took the fighting to the streets against the fascists in 1933, and many of the rank and file gave their lives in the struggle.  If only that energy hadn't been so thoroughly misspent by the assholes in Moscow.

For more info:

Strategy: This does not have to happen.
Which brings us to the United Front.

Trotsky, as well as other leaders of the anti-Stalinist "Bolshevik-Leninist Left Opposition" in exile, put forward the doctrine of the United Front as their solution to the fascist problem.  Recognizing that although the Social Demorcats ("marxists in name only") and Nazis were both parties that represented the bourgeoisie, they also contained fatally irreconcilable contradictions between the two of them which put them violently at odds.  This in addition to the fact that the Social Democrats had the working class locked up behind them opened up an amazing opportunity for the Communists and other revolutionaries.

Trotsky argued that by publicly calling for full cooperation with the Social Democrats on specific pragmatic goals in the fight against fascism the Communists could reveal the hypocrisy of the Social Democratic leadership, awaken the working classes to action, and obliterate the fascists by drawing the workers into revolutionary struggle.

In order for this to work all members of the United Front would have to maintain full political and organizational independence, except obviously on the specific points where they agreed to cooperate, and retain the right to criticize their allies.

This doctrine was rooted in the fact that the workers of Germany were overwhelming opposed to the fascists, but were held inert and discontented because the Social Democrats feared awakening the working class to direct action, because it would lead to revolutionary fever and threaten their privileged positions within the various bourgeois organizations (parliament, trade union officialdom, etc), and instead redirected the energy of the masses into elections.

By publicly agitating for sensible direct actions against the fascists the Communists would have had the potential to either build a mass movement that would have forced the Social Democratic leadership to engage directly in the life and death struggle against the fascists, or to tear the working class out from under the Social Democrats and into the arms of true revolutionary leadership.

At this point in time Trotsky still seemed to naively trust that the Communists had good intentions despite Stalinist malpractice; within a decade Stalin would have Trotsky murdered anyways, Trotsky who had founded the Red Army and fought alongside Lenin in the 1917 revolution.

Nonetheless the United Front was the only sensible option on the table, and under the leadership of the Left Opposition rather than the Stalinists the Communist Party may have had a strong chance of winning in Germany.

Strategy: Fascists? OH FUCK FASCISTS!
Never somebody to allow an excellent idea go un-ruined Stalin eventually adopted a form of the United Front, following the victory of the Nazis, and rebranded it as the Popular Front.  Instead of limiting cooperation to specific points and retaining independence and the right to criticize, Stalin's formulation demanded total subservience of foreign Communist Parties to anyone who would take up arms against the fascists.

The disastrous results of this are too numerous to recount here.

Bringing it home: What does this have to do with the Democrats?
Leading up the mid-1930s the Communist Party in the United States of America had done a lot of excellent work.  They led the fight against racism in the worker's movement and were one of the only organizations that never compromised on refusing to segregate any part of their organization, and many Blacks became leaders in the highest positions of power within the party.  They were staunch opponents to both the Republican and Democrat parties and refused to compromise or back down on issues of austerity measures or the rights of workers, women (for the most part), and minorities.  They fought against the corrupted union bureaucracy and served as a catalyst for many of the most important strikes and factory sit-ins of the time period.

Then the Popular Front ruined everything.  Because the Stalinists needed the Roosevelt White House on its side in the fight against fascism the US branch of the Communist party was ordered to throw its full support behind the Democrats.  Overnight the Communists disowned all of their accomplishments and towed the Democratic party line on every issue without complaint or reservation.

This was particularly horrendous in the fight for Black equality, which suffered a fatal setback for decades with the de-radicalization of an entire generation of disillusioned Black revolutionaries who were betrayed by the Communists.  (Well, I'm oversimplifying a bit, there was a lot that happened to the Black liberation movement during that time, but you get the general idea.)

None of this helped the Communists following the war when the Truman administration led the purges of the Communists from American public life; all of their former allies turned against them because of their betrayals during the Popular Front phase.

But this is the general story of the Left in the United States.  The Democrats thrive on cannibalizing leftist organizations.  First the Populists, then Communists, now the equal rights and environmentalist and Union activists are all sucked into the Dems' camp by simply pointing a step to the right and screaming "look they're scary!"  In return for their unwavering support the Dems give them: nothing.  The Dems are the party of seemingly perpetual half-heartedness and compromise.  Because every election is the choice between evils, every vote against the Dems is "a vote for the Republicans," the Dems are free to court Wall Street and perpetuate Endless War and cave in to the creeps in the socially conservative lobbies.

The American Democrats are "the second most enthusiastic capitalist party in history" and wear that badge with pride.  They support union rights as long as the unions only want the right to campaign for the Democrats.  They support women's rights when the voting demographics show that it's a winning campaign issue, and only to the extent that they are forced to.  The Democrats whine about Neocon insanity under a Republican president and then entrench and codify the same "shredding of the constitution" and "senseless imperialism" as soon as they are elected.

The Republicans aren't fascists, but they are a party of extreme right-wing insanity.  The American Democrats aren't the German Social Democrats, but they are close enough to serve our purposes.

The argument goes that we need to support the Democrat leadership, that we can pull them to the left over time.  This is patently just drivel.  If the Democrats truly want support against the right-wing that's nice, I'll support that.  But we on the Left cannot continue to surrender our independence, our energy and organizational integrity to the Democrats every time they scream "It's an election and we're the lesser of evils!"

If they want our support they will have to take action that we can support.  They must take seriously universal healthcare, worker's rights, electoral reform and true universal suffrage, equality regardless of gender, creed, ethnicity or nationality, end the war on drugs, the war on Muslims, and a million other things they pay lip service to.

Reverse the usual agitprop and look at it this way: if the Democratic leadership wants to win the fight against the Republican insanity they are going to need us.  We, the workers, the poor, the students, everyone who wants a better world, must make it clear that the Democrats will need to join our United Front.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

It's hard to watch, but I can't look away.

Sure it's an airbrushed view of war presented for the purposes of glorifying western imperialism and allowing wanna-be SEALS to vicariously sate their blood-lust.

I still can't stop watching the videos from this Youtube channel.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Our Proud Democracy

Oh dear god make it stop.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Thursday, March 22, 2012

"Scream motherfucking DOOM!" And other juvenile bs

  • I'm replaying the Homeworld series, switching between all three games (the 'core' two and the expansion to the first).  The games are all fun, but the singleplayer campaigns feel horribly unfinished.  The missions all rely too heavily on gimmicks and the gameplay never becomes as fleshed out or involving as the skirmish or multiplayer modes.
  • A while ago I freaked out because a bunch of people were murdered in Afghanistan, ostensibly in retaliation for korans [sic?] being desecrated.  Looking back, I feel like a fool who got suckered into believing mindless propaganda.  It sucks that people were killed and I have nothing but contempt for religious freaks, but the Afghans weren't driven to that level of rage because of foreign soldiers callously gunning down books.
  • Have I already posted this quote by Kevin Phillips (one of the jackasses who helped develop the Republican 'Southern Strategy')? - "Part of the reason that the U.S. 'survival of the fittest' periods of economic restructuring are so relentless rests on the performance of the Democrats as history's second-most enthusiastic capitalist party.  They do not interfere much with capitalism's momentum, but wait for the excesses and the inevitable populist reaction."
  • Went to a coffee shop today, and the cash register broke down so the person gave me a free cup of coffee.  So that was nice.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Has your highway been blessed?

From the Guardian:
Polk County's Highway 98 was first blessed a year ago by a local church group wanting to prevent sinners and wrongdoers from entering the community. 
Annoyed by the appropriation of the public highway by those of a religious bent, humanists took to the street last weekend to symbolically wash away the anointment oil. 
Now, not to be outdone, the group behind the initial ceremony have indicated they will re-bless the road – but they are not saying when.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012



(click the link before you judge me)

"our whole planet is our homeland"

Short video, pretty grim, go watch it anyways.

Friday, March 9, 2012

So True!

If you want an idea what its like interacting with various socialist/communist groups, watch this:

I am, of course, a real socialist.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

This is literal fascism (Small update)

This will probably seem incomprehensible if you aren't up-to-date on your Marxist lingo, but it is still required reading.

So here's a quick primer:

  • Bourgeoisie - The dominant class in a Capitalist society, notable for their complete control (whether de facto or de jure) over the 'means of production' (the industrial, agricultural, and financial sectors).
  • Petty bourgeoisie - The lower sub-classes of the bourgeoisie; the "middle classes", the low-ranking professional bureaucrats, depending on the context this can also include the soldiers and police.
  • Bourgeois dictatorship - Because the bourgeoisie dominates all of the most important parts of society, their rule is essentially a dictatorship of and for their class.
  • Proletariat - The "producing" or "working" class.  These are the factory workers, the miners, the field hands on large-scale industrial farms; any industrial worker in a fully developed capitalist system.  (Maoism, in addition to being a bat-shit cult of personality, is notable for its focus on the peasantry rather than the proletarian.)
  • Lumpenproletariat - Depending on who the writer is, this one will have one of a multitude of definitions.The dispossessed workers, the structurally unemployed, the "ghetto youth" who nobody will hire, the criminal underclasses, military mutineers... I'm honestly not sure what exactly Trotsky means with his use of this word, but you get the general idea.
What follows are excerpts from "Fascism" What it is and how to fight it", which can be read in full here -(

Seriously, go read the full thing.

(Update: Rereading this post I realized that the stuff I highlighted makes it sound like I'm trying to say that the US is already fascist, which would be absurd.  Those are just points I found interesting.)

Here's part of the 1969 Introduction:
Liberals and even most of those who consider themselves Marxists are guilty of using the world fascist very loosely today. They fling it around as an epithet or political swearword against right-wing figures whom they particularly despise, or against reactionaries in general.
Since WWII, the fascist label has been applied to such figures and movements as Gerald L. K. Smith, Senator Joseph McCarthy, Senator Eastland, Barry Goldwater, the Minutemen, the John Birch Society, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George Wallace.
Now, were all these fascist, or just some? If only some, then how does one tell which are and which aren't?
The rest is by Trotsky, and was written during the 1930s.  Emphasis added:

At the moment that the "normal" police and military resources of the bourgeois dictatorship, together with their parliamentary screens, no longer suffice to hold society in a state of equilibrium -- the turn of the fascist regime arrives. Through the fascist agency, capitalism sets in motion the masses of the crazed petty bourgeoisie and the bands of declassed and demoralized lumpenproletariat -- all the countless human beings whom finance capital itself has brought to desperation and frenzy. 
From fascism the bourgeoisie demands a thorough job; once it has resorted to methods of civil war, it insists on having peace for a period of years. And the fascist agency, by utilizing the petty bourgeoisie as a battering ram, by overwhelming all obstacles in its path, does a thorough job. After fascism is victorious, finance capital directly and immediately gathers into its hands, as in a vise of steel, all the organs and institutions of sovereignty, the executive administrative, and educational powers of the state: the entire state apparatus together with the army, the municipalities, the universities, the schools, the press, the trade unions, and the co-operatives. When a state turns fascist, it does not mean only that the forms and methods of government are changed in accordance the patterns set by Mussolini -- the changes in this sphere ultimately play a minor role -- but it means first of all for the most part that the workers' organizations are annihilated; that the proletariat is reduced to an amorphous state; and that a system of administration is created which penetrates deeply into the masses and which serves to frustrate the independent crystallization of the proletariat. Therein precisely is the gist of fascism....
And also:

Two years after its inception, fascism was in power. It entrenched itself thanks to the facts the first period of its overlordship coincided with a favorable economic conjuncture, which followed the depression of 1921-22. The fascists crushed the retreating proletariat by the onrushing forces of the petty bourgeoisie. But this was not achieved at a single blow. Even after he assumed power, Mussolini proceeded on his course with due caution: he lacked as yet ready-made models. During the first two years, not even the constitution was altered. The fascist government took on the character of a coalition. In the meantime, the fascist bands were busy at work with clubs, knives, and pistols. Only thus was the fascist government created slowly, which meant the complete strangulation of all independent mass organizations. 
Mussolini attained this at the cost of bureaucratizing the fascist party itself. After utilizing the onrushing forces of the petty bourgeoisie, fascism strangled it within the vise of the bourgeois state. Mussolini could not have done otherwise, for the disillusionment of the masses he had united was precipitating itself into the most immediate danger ahead. Fascism, become bureaucratic, approaches very closely to other forms of military and police dictatorship. It no longer possesses its former social support. The chief reserve of fascism -- the petty bourgeoisie -- has been depicted. Only historical inertia enables the fascist government to keep the proletariat in a state of dispersion and helplessness....
Also good reading on the subject is Trotsky's "Fascism, Stalinism and the United Front".

The silence is horrifying.

What.  The.  Fuck.

Emphasis in original:

 But the crux of Holder’s argument as set forth in yesterday’s speech is this:
Some have argued that the president is required to get permission from a federal court before taking action against a United States citizen who is a senior operational leader of Al Qaeda or associated forces. This is simply not accurate. “Due process” and “judicial process” are not one and the same, particularly when it comes to national security. The Constitution guarantees due process, not judicial process.

So that is the “process” which Eric Holder yesterday argued constitutes “due process” as required by the Fifth Amendment before the government can deprive of someone of their life: the President and his underlings are your accuser, your judge, your jury and your executioner all wrapped up in one, acting in total secrecy and without your even knowing that he’s accused you and sentenced you to death, and you have no opportunity even to know about, let alone confront and address, his accusations; is that not enough due process for you? At Esquire, Charles Pierce, writing about Holder’s speech, described this best: “a monumental pile of crap that should embarrass every Democrat who ever said an unkind word about John Yoo.”
All of this reminds me of a song, "Silence is Deafening".

Sunday, March 4, 2012

"We will always reject the notion that Zionism is racism."

"We will always reject the notion that Zionism is racism." - President Obama.

He's also awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom to the Israeli president.

Also from the same Guardian article (emphasis added):
Obama sounds unusually defensive for a US president in stating his support of Israel – a reflection not only of the attacks from Republicans accusing him of endangering Israel by not pressing Iran hard enough but also because of Obama's earlier pressure on Netanyahu to halt settlement construction in the occupied territories and to negotiate seriously with the Palestinians.
Remember kids, Zionism isn't racist, it just means the Palestinians need to get the fuck out of their homes so that the Jews can live there.


In an early post I remarked, rather tactfully, "FUCK THE IDF."  That's not 100% fair I've decided, since the IDF relies so heavily on conscripted soldiers.   I despise the Israeli leadership to no end, but I wish nothing but the best for the vast majority of Israelis.

I just wish they'd get over their racist bullshit.


Damnit.  Mass Effect 2 is one of my favorite videogames, and yet I somehow missed this:
Only Shepard's "magic penis" can cure the "badass biotic bitch."
hmmm ok, maybe you need a bit more context:
Players who play a female Shepard or choose to romance another character will find that after a certain point Jack shuts down, and her character's progression stops. After helping the character complete her loyalty mission, the only way to help Jack reach some sort of closure like every other character does is to sleep with her.
More fair criticism of the sexism in ME2 at

How to kill a revolution.

The best way to kill a revolution?  Peace and prosperity.  Sans any peace I'd still happily go for a bit of prosperity right now.

My bet is that the recovery short-lived, but even if it's permanent I still think dramatic changes are needed.  For instance, Obama is a hack who should be run out of office.

It is infuriating to no end that I'm probably going to end up voting Democrat again purely out of fear.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Congratulations, crisis avoided: Greece

Hurrah!  All is well in the- fuck it just read the articles:  (emphasis added)
The Dow Jones industrial average crossed 13,000 on Tuesday for the first time since before the 2008 financial crisis.
The Dow passed 13,000 about two hours into the trading day.... Its last time above 13,000 during a trading day was May 20, 2008, four months before the Lehman Brothers investment bank went under.
US stocks got help from a long-awaited bailout deal for Greece, aimed at preventing a potentially catastrophic default.....
Just after 11.30am EST, the Dow was up 43 points at 12,993. In other trading, the Standard & Poor's 500 was up five points at 1,366. The Nasdaq composite index was up 10 points at 2,962.
And also

1. Greece will have to accept non-Greek inspectors in Athens
European monitors, "an enhanced and permanent presence on the ground in Greece" as the statement put it, will move into Athens ministries.
Quick! Into the Rabbit Hole!

The Private-Sector Involvement or debt haircut scheme
As evening moved to night the early hours and then morning,sleep deprivation made the March Hare flutter before Eurogroup members eyes once more. His words shown below suddenly seemed reasonable.
Those investors who did not accept a 21% debt haircut will be keen to accept a 53.5% one!
Of course they will! Meanwhile back in reality I expect plenty of trouble from this. I hope that the new forecasts for Greek public expenditure allowed for expensive legal bills. 
Official debt haircuts
These are noticeable in the main by their absence and I am reminded of the words of George Orwell
All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others
And if I may mix my literary allusions the March Hare is back again as the European Central Bank which bought Greek bonds at 80 which are currently worth 20 will share its “profits” with Greece. I kid you not! Does that mean that buying at 20 and selling at 80 creates a loss? Perhaps the March Hare can explain….
Just to be clear the ECB does have income from the coupon or interest-payments on the Greek debt that it holds. However this is far smaller than the capital losses described above and even worse is another “round-tripping” exercise. Greece is receiving bailout money from the Euro zone to help it pay the interest which this part of it is being paid back to the Euro zone representative the ECB. Yes taxpayers do not only subsidise the activities of private-banks these days they also do the same for central banks. 
Whatever the cost you must protect the banks
Estimated bank recapitalization needs have increased . The Blackrock diagnostic exercise, the PSI exercise (including its likely accounting treatment), and refined estimates of resolution costs (as opposed to recapitalization costs) have pointed to higher needs than assumed at the time of the Fifth program review (€50 billion versus €40 billion previously). Recoveries, through the sale of bank equity, are not expected to be materially higher in the medium-term.
You may note the last sentence too.
You are most certainly welcome Greece.  Thanks to the valiant efforts of the EU and EZ and IMF and ECB you have managed to avoid a disorderly default and are on the path to slashing destructive social safety nets.  You may now dream of a future (sometime post-2030) when you will no longer be shackled by your abhorrent public servants and social compacts.  Sleep well knowing that the safety and stability of the banks has been secured.

A Starbucks coffee shop burns, right, as firefighters try to cut open a locked truck to get out the fire hose after protesters took the keys
AAAAHHHH not the Starbucks!  That's the one soulless corporation I like *sadface*

Suddenly I grow concerned for the hoi poloi in Greece .

Congratulations, crisis avoided: Somalia

Hurrah!  All is well in the Horn of Africa.
They expect the oil to flow within weeks. Coming from two miles underground, the crude should reach the arid plains of Puntland in the north-east corner of Somalia by April.
Around the same time, Somali diplomats say an offensive against al-Shabaab militia in the south of the country, backed by US drone strikes, should have damaged the Islamist group's "effective fighting capability".
Meanwhile, the UN plans to impose trade sanctions on the illicit international trade in charcoal, Somalia's "black gold" which not only funds al-Shabaab but also destroys the country's forests and led in part to last year's widespread famine.
The promise of stability coupled with the apparent discovery of oil reserves could help to rebuild this poverty-stricken country. 
Don't know about you, but I'm like totally feeling confident about about this.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Surprisingly not caring about Mass Effect 3

(mini-update: Here's a cheerful preface to all my ranting)
I bought the first Mass Effect twice, on 360 and then on PC.  I bought Mass Effect 2 the day it came out, and then bought all of the add-ons (DLC), even the scandalously overpriced 'alternate appearance packs' which I loved anyways.  I bought Dragon Age (also by Bioware) on launch day, and then bought nearly all of the DLC.

I own other EA games also, sans-DLC.  I own Burnout Paradise, Spore, and Sims 3 plus a slew of older titles.

Then my EA accounts disappeared.  All of them.  They literally stopped existing.  I can't play with any of the DLC I bought for ME2 or Dragon Age, I can't log into the online features in Spore or Burnout Paradise (the only reason I bought those games).  EA and Bioware customer support is a hellish maze of nonsense and frustration that would make Dell proud.

Then Bioware decides to do major day one DLC for ME3.  They did that for ME2 and Dragon Age also, but if you bought the game new you received most of it for free anyways.  Not so this time.  Unless you pay extra for the collector's edition you will have to pay $10 (US) for the extra squad member, squad member outfits, new weapon, and new quest(s).

The ME3 DLC would be aggravating by itself, but all of this together is too much for me.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Matt Taibbi sums "It" up perfectly.

I just had one of those trippy moments where I stumble upon an essay that sums up perfectly something I'd been struggling to articulate in a eloquent fashion for quite a while.
No, it was while watching the debates last night that it finally hit me: This is justice. What we have here are chickens coming home to roost. It's as if all of the American public's bad habits and perverse obsessions are all coming back to haunt Republican voters in this race: The lack of attention span, the constant demand for instant gratification, the abject hunger for negativity, the utter lack of backbone or constancy (we change our loyalties at the drop of a hat, all it takes is a clever TV ad): these things are all major factors in the spiraling Republican disaster.
Go read it.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

We've created a generation of propaganda generators.

After 50 years of a Cold War and a decade of the War On TERROR there is no longer any need for the US government to put any effort into war agitprop.

That's the only way I can make sense of the impending war with Iran.

From the Guardian:
But while in the case of Iraq an attack was launched over weapons of mass destruction that didn't in fact exist, the US isn't even claiming that Iran is attempting to build a bomb. "Are they trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No," Panetta said bluntly last month. Israeli intelligence is said to be of the same view. Unlike Israel itself, which has had nuclear weapons for decades, it believes the Iranian leadership has taken no decision to go nuclear. [links removed]

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Another thing I agree with Scalia on

This from Joan Walsh, regarding the Catholic Church's freak-out over condoms:

But maybe the best argument on behalf of the Obama administration’s position comes from a very unlikely source, as Jay Bookman points out: Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. In two different decisions, the conservative Catholic Scalia has sided with the court majority in finding that religious teachings can’t justify religious employers – or employees — failing to comply with labor law. In the 1990 Employment Division v. Smith decision, regarding an employer’s ability to fire a Native American employee who used peyote, despite the employee’s claim that using the drug was a religious rite, Scalia wrote:
“We have never held that an individual’s religious beliefs excuse him from compliance with an otherwise valid law prohibiting conduct that the State is free to regulate. On the contrary, the record of more than a century of our free exercise jurisprudence contradicts that proposition.” In an even more directly relevant 1982 decision holding that Amish employers must comply with Social Security and withholding taxes, though their faith bars participation in government support programs, Scalia wrote:
Respondents urge us to hold, quite simply, that when otherwise prohibitable conduct is accompanied by religious convictions, not only the convictions but the conduct itself must be free from governmental regulation. We have never held that, and decline to do so now.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The answer is "no" I've discovered.

March 9, 2011 I wrote a post called "Bordering on literal fascism".  Upon further review: no, it is not even close to literal fascism.

My bad.  My only defense is that I really didn't understand a lot about politics, except through the lens of the American two-party system.  Taking part in something as cataclysmic as the February protests left me shaken, and with few ways to try and make sense of it.  Naturally I fell into the psychological/intellectual trap that plagues us here in America (not to say they are free of this elsewhere): Without any meaningful historical or political context everything is perceived as being either 'extreme' or 'moderate' with few other meaningful distinctions.

Monday, February 6, 2012

What Linda Hirshman gets wrong about what David Brooks gets right about the left.

Continuing the theme, expressing irrational amounts of rage over things I read on Salon today, which I began in my last post, I recommend this piece by Linda Hirshman.

Full disclosure: I haven't read Brooks' article, and have only Hirshman's to go by.  If her's is well-written that should be enough anyways.

Right from the first paragraph things go horribly wrong:

As he often does, in his column Friday New York Times columnist David Brooks offered what looks like a “nonpartisan” analysis.  Social movements, he warned, are suffering because everyone thinks they should make up their own belief system. Unless you’re Nietzsche, Brooks advises, this is a guarantee of failure. Every man is not a political genius.
Well yes.  His analysis certainly looks nonpartisan.  That fact that he's a complete right-wing partisan and establishmentarian hack will be overlooked for a moment though.

Nietzsche's belief system, as much as he professed to have one, can be summed up as, "question everything, and then ask why you were asking those questions."  He also explicitly argued that ideas which are entirely original are necessarily going to be bad ideas.

However, most people never take the time to read any Nietzsche for themselves (start with Walter Kaufman's translations if you do!) and so I'll forgive that gaffe.

Next Hirshman explains a few concise points:

  • "Nobody does “whatever floats your boat” like the liberal left."
  • "Letting every person with a “mic check” suggest a fundamental strategy for the movement is a recipe for disaster." 
  • "Not only have existing intellectual traditions been the product of superior minds, they have stood the test of time. Anyway, how to act collectively when everyone is pursuing his own quixotic dream?"
How is it that conservatives get away with spouting these types of elitist cliches and still get to accuse everyone else of being a snob?

If I have to explain to you the value of group discussion in brainstorming, then you're hopeless.

Describing the left as "everyone pursuing his own quixotic dream" is hilarious.  First, half of the left is pursuing 'her' own dreams, something I'd think Linda could sympathize with.  The more substantive problem with that caricature will become clear as November approaches.  Soon all the GOP ramblings about those damn hippies will turn into warnings about the left 'drinking the Kool-aid' and marching in lockstep off a cliff with Obama.
"For his friends on the left, however,  Brooks advises a simple reversion to their philosopher, Karl Marx"
Wow!  Something I agree with Brooks on!  Well, I'd prefer not a 'simple reversion' but rather a critical reconsideration, but still!

But then Hirshman goes on to make this statement:
Fortunately, should the left be capable of giving up its endlessly proliferating individual belief systems, two schools of thought other than the return to the specter of communism would be available to them.  There is a robust utilitarian tradition, represented most recently in the work of Princeton philosopher Peter Singer....
Wait a sec, if you get to reference the ideas of the much-maligned Friedrich Nietzsche, why can't we talk communism?
The well-worked-out analysis of Singer’s argument for beneficence is a vastly better foundation for a long-term social movement than any of the slogans on OWS placards. “Tax the rich” is catchy, but dissolves when confronted with Brooks’ comrades’ libertarian first principle: “It’s my money.”
Not if you're using a Marxist perspective....

From here her essay devolves into a typical "leftists could save themselves if they just became Randroids" screed.

Another great 20th century philosopher, the late John Rawls, made a very well-worked-out argument for why it’s not “your money” at all. It’s only your money, as citizens of many less well-favored societies than the United States know, if other people are willing to refrain from killing you to get it. Otherwise, life is, famously, “solitary, POOR, nasty, brutish and short.” Rawls set forth elaborate conditions for when societies agree to let the rich keep the money without having to live behind walls topped with ground glass.
Most important, Rawls posits, inequality must also benefit the people on the bottom, e.g., by expanding the size of the pie. This was the case for much of American history, and the society was the better for it. But now that finance has replaced manufacturing as the engine of the economy, not so much. The endless claims of money movers like Mitt Romney that they are “creating jobs” reflects the deep power of Rawls’ construct. If they’re not, what is he doing with all that money? Rich people’s claims to be complying with Rawls’ condition can only go on so long in face of the robust evidence to the contrary.

On second thought, I don't think she got anything right, except for parroting Brooks' call for more Marxism.

Vive la Révolution?

"Don't ask us about social issues, just know we'll bring sweeping change" - A Libertarian

Purely for the sake of amusement, go read this tripe.

Entitled "The Screwed Generation: Libertarian, Not Liberal", here are some of the words of wisdom to be found:
So when the traditional liberal means of protecting ourselves — uniting behind the government to promote action that benefits the common good — no longer serves our best interest, we begin to serve our own. We have a new set of morals that have been established because the old ones were no longer cutting it.
Sounds good.
....The fact that there are still discussions between contending candidates about whether gay marriage should be legal or if women should have the right to have an abortion is shameful in the eyes of the youth vote.
What?  Which "youth vote" are you talking about?  Even though the trend is towards more progressive attitudes there is still substantial, and reactionary, opposition in the 'youth' demographics.
...Let’s be honest, when we’re facing a domestic and global recession, high unemployment and a blunder-filled tax code, social issues act only as a distraction to engage the “religious right” and the “hippie left.” By jettisoning social issues, Paul is able to have a conversation about fiscal policy with a bunch of kids who are growing up in a new economy.
Except you just said that the 'young generation' does care about social issues that are under attack by the religious right.  Are you therefore saying that our generation is mostly of the "hippie left"?
...If our conversation about fiscal reform starts to reshape our economy, we will spearhead sweeping social change. 
Ok, now you're just creeping me out.   What changes do you want to make?  How will they be made?    Saying that you'll make sweeping social changes sounds suspiciously unlibertarian.
We still vote with our heart; it’s just in a slightly different place. We’d rather bring home our troops from overseas and save those lives while spending that money to establish a universal healthcare system that will save even more.

You want universal healthcare?  Do you understand what libertarianism is?  Specifically Ron Paul libertarianism, since you specifically talk about the value of his presidential run multiple times.
We’re still “liberal,”
Then what was the point of your fucking article?  That liberals should shut up about social issues?

If you're just trying to say that "Ron Paul brings important things to the discussion" then just say that instead of blathering on forever.