June 1, 2013 archive

Jun 01

SNAP Multiplier 1.7

From the Mouths of Babes

By PAUL KRUGMAN, The New York Times

Published: May 30, 2013

Food stamps have played an especially useful – indeed, almost heroic – role in recent years. In fact, they have done triple duty.



Indeed, estimates from the consulting firm Moody’s Analytics suggest that each dollar spent on food stamps in a depressed economy raises G.D.P. by about $1.70 – which means, by the way, that much of the money laid out to help families in need actually comes right back to the government in the form of higher revenue.

Wait, we’re not done yet. Food stamps greatly reduce food insecurity among low-income children, which, in turn, greatly enhances their chances of doing well in school and growing up to be successful, productive adults. So food stamps are in a very real sense an investment in the nation’s future – an investment that in the long run almost surely reduces the budget deficit, because tomorrow’s adults will also be tomorrow’s taxpayers.

So what do Republicans want to do with this paragon of programs? First, shrink it; then, effectively kill it.



Look, I understand the supposed rationale: We’re becoming a nation of takers, and doing stuff like feeding poor children and giving them adequate health care are just creating a culture of dependency – and that culture of dependency, not runaway bankers, somehow caused our economic crisis.

But I wonder whether even Republicans really believe that story – or at least are confident enough in their diagnosis to justify policies that more or less literally take food from the mouths of hungry children. As I said, there are times when cynicism just doesn’t cut it; this is a time to get really, really angry.

Jun 01

On This Day In History June 1

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

Click on image to enlarge

June 1 is the 152nd day of the year (153rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 213 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1980, CNN (Cable News Network), the world’s first 24-hour television news network, makes its debut. The network signed on at 6 p.m. EST from its headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, with a lead story about the attempted assassination of civil rights leader Vernon Jordan. CNN went on to change the notion that news could only be reported at fixed times throughout the day. At the time of CNN’s launch, TV news was dominated by three major networks–ABC, CBS and NBC–and their nightly 30-minute broadcasts. Initially available in less than two million U.S. homes, today CNN is seen in more than 89 million American households and over 160 million homes internationally.

CNN was the brainchild of Robert “Ted” Turner, a colorful, outspoken businessman dubbed the “Mouth of the South.” Turner was born on November 19, 1938, in Cincinnati, Ohio, and as a child moved with his family to Georgia, where his father ran a successful billboard advertising company. After his father committed suicide in 1963, Turner took over the business and expanded it. In 1970, he bought a failing Atlanta TV station that broadcast old movies and network reruns and within a few years Turner had transformed it into a “superstation,” a concept he pioneered, in which the station was beamed by satellite into homes across the country. Turner later bought the Atlanta Braves baseball team and the Atlanta Hawks basketball team and aired their games on his network, TBS (Turner Broadcasting System). In 1977, Turner gained international fame when he sailed his yacht to victory in the prestigious America’s Cup race.

Early history

The Cable News Network was launched at 5:00 p.m. EST on Sunday June 1, 1980. After an introduction by Ted Turner, the husband and wife team of David Walker and Lois Hart anchored the first newscast. Burt Reinhardt, the then executive vice president of CNN, hired most of CNN’s first 200 employees, including the network’s first news anchor, Bernard Shaw.

Since its debut, CNN has expanded its reach to a number of cable and satellite television companies, several web sites, specialized closed-circuit channels (such as CNN Airport Network), and a radio network. The company has 36 bureaus (10 domestic, 26 international), more than 900 affiliated local stations, and several regional and foreign-language networks around the world. The channel’s success made a bona-fide mogul of founder Ted Turner and set the stage for the Time Warner conglomerate’s eventual acquisition of Turner Broadcasting.

A companion channel, CNN2, was launched on January 1, 1982 and featured a continuous 24-hour cycle of 30-minute news broadcasts. A year later, it changed its name to “CNN Headline News”, and eventually it was simply called “Headline News”. (In 2005, Headline News would break from its original format with the addition of Headline Prime, a prime-time programming block that features news commentary; and in 2008 the channel changed its name again, to “HLN”.)

Jun 01

Ian Welsh on Ethics

The Moral Calculus of the Woolwich Murder, 2013 May 27

You should read a transcript of the Woolwich murderer’s reasons.  It seems that he was offended by the fact that other Muslim civilians were routinely being murdered.  Having been taught, by the state, that murdering is acceptable, he proceeded to do so.

He, however, proved himself superior to the contemporary American and British States by murdering a military man and not a civilian.  He took far more care in choosing his victim than Obama does his.

So spare me the hand-wringing and condemnation.  He’s a bad man, to be sure, but he’s not as bad a man as the men we put in office.

When Tony Blair and George W. Bush are put in front of war crimes trials, along with Rumsfeld and many others, we can talk.  Till then, our “justice’ isn’t, it’s just tribalism dressed up in the name of justice, because it picks and chooses amongst murderers, letting the greatest of them, the ones with the most blood on their hands, walk free.

Ethical Degradation, 2013 May 28

We make distinctions between crimes, even the same crimes.  Unintentional killing is ranked lower than intentional killing, and pre-meditated (planned) killing is ranked higher than crimes of passion (finding your husband in bed with another woman and killing him.)

We also make distinctions between people who kill one person, two people, three people and so on.  A person who has killed more people, gets a longer sentence.

This is known as proportionality. All murders are not the same, nor are all thefts, nor are all acts of fraud.  The amount of harm they cause varies, and the amount of punishment they are due varies by reason: we punish the woman who kills her cheating husband when she finds him in bed with another woman a lot less harshly than we do a cold calculating murder to get the life insurance reward.



The inability to make these sort of ethical distinctions, to say ‘well Fred killed one man, a military man, and that’s just as bad as Stalin killing millions” is an ethical failure.  It is an abominable ethical failure.  Scale matters and crime and justice are not boolean.  More to the point, it is far more important to stop the mass murderers of this world, whether they are Stalin, Mao or lesser mass murderers (note the distinction!) like George Bush and Barack Obama.



To use one of the phrases of the day “this is why we can’t have nice things.”  Specifically, this is why we cant have a justice system that works, a just foreign policy, politicians who aren’t monsters and citizens who aren’t complicit in mass murder. If you think what the Woolwich murderer did is anywhere close to as bad as what George Bush or Tony Blair did you are unable to make even gross ethical distinctions, and are unsuited to exercise the responsibilities of citizenship.

Tens of thousands of murders are worse than one murder.  Understand this.  If you can’t, recuse yourself from the public sphere, please.

Ethics 101, Part 3: Forseeable Consequences, 2013 May 28

Since we’re on basic ethics, let’s take another basic ethical principle.  It is impossible to have a good society if you do not punish and reward people for the forseeable consequences of their actions.



The idea of forseeable consequences is fundamental to reasoning about ethics and morality.  It is especially important in reasoning about public policy.



Entire countries have gone in to permanent depression as a result of the forseeable consequences of their actions.  Then various countries, especially in Europe, doubled down on austerity. Austerity has never worked to bring an economy out of a financial crisis or depression, and it never will.  It does not work, and this is well known.  Engaging in austerity has forseeable consequences of impoverishing the country, reducing the size of the middle class and grinding the poor even further into misery.  It also has the forseeable consequence of making it possible to privatize parts of the economy the oligarchs want to buy.

It is done, it has been done and it will be done because of those forseeable consequences.  They are all either desirable to your masters or, if not desirable, irrelevant compared to the advantages austerity offers them.

These are, if not criminal acts, then unjust and evil acts, done to enrich a few at the expense of the many, with disregard for the consequences to the many, including death, hunger and violence.

One of the reasons I write so little these days, is that there is so little point.  Basic ethical principles are routinely ignored even on the so-called left.  Basic principles of causation are ignored.  Basic economic reality is ignored.  And virtually everyone in the so-called democracies is scrambling to pretend that they have no responsibility for anything that has happened.

If someone does something with forseeable consequences they are responsible for those forseeable consequences.  Just because an act has bad forseeable consequences doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be taken, the alternatives may be worse, but whether the action should be taken or not, the decision has consequences.



As a society we have in the last few decades and are today making decisions with entirely forseeable consequences (as with climate change) that will kill a few hundred million people to well over a billion people.  We know it will happen, and we’re doing it.

Ethics 101: The difference between ethics and morals, 2013 May 30

The best short definition I’ve heard, courtesy of my friend Stirling, is that morals are how you treat people you know.  Ethics are how you treat people you don’t know.

Your morality is what makes you a good wife or husband, dad or mother.  A good daughter or son.  A good friend.  Even a good employee or boss to the people you know personally in the company.

Your ethics is what makes you a good politicians.  It is what makes you a statesman.  It is also what makes you a good, humane CEO of any large company (and yes, you can make money and pay your employees well as Costco proves.)

When you’re a politicians or a CEO, most of what you do will effect people you don’t know, people you can’t know, people who are just statistics to you.  You have no personal connection to them, and you never will.  This is at the heart of Stalin’s comment that “a single death is a tragedy, a million deaths a  statistic.”  Change the welfare rules, people will live or die, suffer or prosper.  Change the tax structure, healthcare mandates, trade laws, transit spending-virtually everything you do means someone will will, and someone will lose.  Sometimes fatally.



We call the family the building block of society, but this is nonsense except in the broadest sense.  The structure of the family is entirely socially based, generally on how we make our living.  A hundred years ago in America and Canada the extended family was the norm, today the nuclear family is, with single parent families coming on strong.  In China this transition, from extended to nuclear family, took place in living memory, many adults still in their prime can remember extended families, and were raised in them.  The wealthy often have their children raised by servants (I was for my first five years), tribal societies often put all male children in to the same tent or tents at puberty, and so on. A hundred and fifty years ago children were taught at home, by the extended family, and not by professional teachers.  They spent much more time with family until they were apprenticed out, if they were.



For a large society, a society where you can’t know everyone, to work ethics must come before morality, or ethics and morality must have a great deal of overlaps.  By acting morally, you must be able to act ethically.

Our current ethical system requires politicians to act unethically, to do great harm to people they don’t know, while protecting those they do.  This can hardly be denied, and was on display in the 2007/8 financial collapse and the bailout after.  The millions of homeowners and employees politicians and central bankers did not know were not helped, and and the people the politicians and central bankers and treasury officials did know, were bailed out.  Austerity, likewise, has hurt people politicians don’t know, while enriching the corporate officers and rich they do know.

The structure of our economy is designed to impoverish people we don’t know.  For developed nations citizens this means people in undeveloped nations.  For the rich this means cutting the wages of the middle class.  For the middle class it means screwing over the poor (yes, the middle class does the day to day enforcement, don’t pretend otherwise.)  We are obsessed with “lowering costs” and making loans, and both of those are meant to extract maximum value from people while giving them as little as they can in return.

We likewise ignore the future, refusing to build or repair infrastructure, to invest properly in basic science, and refusing to deal with global warming.  These decisions will overwhelmingly effect people we don’t know: any individual infrastructure collapse won’t hit us, odds are, and global warming will kill most of its victims in the future.  The rich and powerful, in particular, believe that they will avoid the consequences of these things.  It will effect people other than them.

To put the needs of the few before the needs of the many, in public life, is to be a monster.  But even in private life if we all act selfishly, as our reigning ideology indicates we should, we destroy ourselves. If we all put only ourselves and those we love first, and damn the cost to everyone else, our societies cannot and will not be prosperous, safe, or kind.

The war of all against all is just as nasty when it is waged by small kin groups as when it is waged by individuals.

Jun 01

Cartnoon

Jun 01

Health and Fitness News

Welcome to the Health and Fitness News, a weekly diary which is cross-posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette. It is open for discussion about health related issues including diet, exercise, health and health care issues, as well as, tips on what you can do when there is a medical emergency. Also an opportunity to share and exchange your favorite healthy recipes.

Questions are encouraged and I will answer to the best of my ability. If I can’t, I will try to steer you in the right direction. Naturally, I cannot give individual medical advice for personal health issues. I can give you information about medical conditions and the current treatments available.

You can now find past Health and Fitness News diaries here and on the right hand side of the Front Page.

Bulking Up Smoothies With Chia Seeds

Banana Muesli Smoothie photo 20recipehealth-articleLarge_zpsaf499863.jpg

When you soak the seeds in water, they expand and become gelatinous, a property that aids digestion and contributes to their low glycemic index. When I use the seeds in smoothies, dressings and juices, I scoop up a tablespoon of the gelatinous mixture of seeds suspended in water – which is the equivalent of a teaspoon of unsoaked chia seeds – and add it to the drink or dressing. It adds substance to a drink, and I felt incredibly well nourished by this week’s chia-enriched fruit smoothies. I made five of them, adding other soaked nuts, seeds or muesli along with the chia. They made energy-rich breakfasts, perfect food for a morning workout.

~Martha Rose Shulman~

Banana Muesli Smoothie

If you want a delicious smoothie that will see you through a morning workout, this is it.

Banana Wild Blueberry Smoothie With Chia Seeds

Using frozen berries eliminates the need for ice.

Blackberry Lime Smoothie With Chia Seeds and Cashews

This colorful and tangy mixture gets an herbal note from geranium syrup or rose water.

Pineapple Chia Smoothie With Herbs

Carrot juice and sunflower seeds add flavor and texture to this drink.

Strawberry Muesli Chia Smoothie

A drink similar to a Trader Joe’s bottled strawberry/lime/chia drink.

Jun 01

Late Night Karaoke

Jun 01

Random Japan

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HEAVY METAL

he SDF installed a Patriot anti-missile battery at its headquarters in downtown Tokyo, aka the most densely populated place on Earth.

A customs officer at Fukuoka Airport busted a pair of Japanese men for attempting to smuggle 8kg of gold from Thailand.

A “natural history study group” made up of citizens dedicated to the Izu islands say that the endangered black-footed albatross is making a comeback on an uninhabited island near Hachijojima.

Meanwhile, a strong earthquake ruined a popular rock-climbing cliff on Miyakejima that was hailed as sparking interest in free-climbing on the island.

Jun 01

Transgender Hero #1: Jacob Rostovsky

I’m starting a new serious which will be added to periodically, which I shall call Transgender Heroes.  I will add people to the list as I encounter them and personally judge them to be heroic.  

Now there are plenty of people I’ve known about for years who qualify, but I shall endeavor to shine the light on those who I deem will be helping to carry us forward.  

First up is Jake Rostovsky.  I invite you inside to hear Jake’s story.