August 5, 2012 archive

Fiat Lux: Banishing Alienation Through Lights and Loud Noise by Northsylvania

Alienation can be considered part of the process of capitalist exploitation, but it can also mean feeling cut off and isolated from the surrounding world.  Alienation in the Marxist sense means that capitalist production separates the worker from the object or service he produces, leading him to separate the effect of his own labour from the products he uses that are made by others. At the same time, he becomes no more than a product or object himself.

Thus the more the worker by his labor appropriates the external world, sensuous nature, the more he deprives himself of the means of life in two respects: first, in that the sensuous external world more and more ceases to be an object belonging to his labor – to be his labor’s means of life; and, second, in that it more and more ceases to be a means of life in the immediate sense, means for the physical subsistence of the worker.                                              

In both respects, therefore, the worker becomes a servant of his object, first, in that he receives an object of labor, i.e., in that he receives work, and, secondly, in that he receives means of subsistence. This enables him to exist, first as a worker; and second, as a physical subject. The height of this servitude is that it is only as a worker that he can maintain himself as a physical subject and that it is only as a physical subject that he is a worker. (emphasis his)

This separation can often lead to alienation in the sense that I use it here: the feeling of being cut off from society, which leads to feelings so deadened that the outside word seems unreal. This is a common feature of depression, a disease, and dis-ease is an appropriate description, so common that it is considered the fourth leading cause of disability worldwide.

Communism, cooperative working associations, and unions were meant to address not only the economic injustice of capitalist working conditions, but also the loss of identity that comes with the lack of control over circumstances in working life. Justina expresses this aspect in her diary on Venezuelan workers’ cooperatives:

The key to overcoming capitalism’s human devastation and systemic greed is to be found in joining together with other members of one’s community or work place and acting to transform our economy and thus our society into one that places human needs and aspirations at the top of our priorities.

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Curiosity

So tonight at 1:30 am-ish the new Mars Rover, Curiosity, will, if all things go as planned, land gently on the surface near Gale Crater close to the Martian equator.

If I sound a little tentative it’s because there’s a lot that could go badly.

For one thing this whole separate rocket descender concept is a bit complicated.  The idea is that you don’t need the motors and fuel once you’re on the ground so you’re better off ditching them.  I think that stringing your mission critical cargo beneath another chunk of untested junk that could go spectacularly, amusingly, and expensively wrong is a mite…

ambitious.

But hey, I’m not a rocket scientist.

As I write NASA has already forgone their last course correction and is debating a final update to the data that the computers will use.  The rover has to land independent of radio control because light is slow and on a round trip to Mars takes just a little under half an hour.  If you’ve ever gamed over a sucky connection or are a high frequency trader you know what I’m talking about.

But people aren’t talking about that very real problem and are instead focused on the “Seven Minutes of Terror” that uses conventional atmospheric braking and includes a radio blackout from the plasma which will only be 50% or less (one way) of the regular everyday lag.

No one has a really good record at landing intact probes on Mars, though the United States has the best.  This is why last time out we sent both Opportunity AND Spirit in the expectation something would probably fail.

Instead they were both incredibly successful, far exceeding their designed objectives.

This time we have only 1 lander and it’s the size of an SUV, not a Golf Cart.  The mission is not to find life, but to determine if conditions on Mars could have supported the development of life.  I consider this a pretty settled question, but you can never know too much and actual results often lead to unexpected discoveries.

We will probably not know tonight, or even for the next week, whether things have gone as planned.  If the lander is even partly functional we can get some data, if not it would be 8 months to get there if we launched tomorrow.

However once down and functional Curiosity should prove much more capable than its predecessors.  It has nuclear power for one thing so we’ll be a lot less dependent on favorable storms.

And if you are a Deficit Hawk who likes to pretend money matters I invite you to compare the $2.5 Billion for the Curiosity program to the $23.7 Trillion we gave to the Banksters.  Even a non-rocket scientist can use a calculator to figure out that’s just barely over .0001%.

And because no frontier is final without Tiberius-

Here are some places you can stream the video commentary-

Cartnoon

Tick Tock Tuckered

Overcoming The Odds

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Age, heart conditions, and traumatic events were no deterrents to achieving their goals of reaching this Summer’s Olympics games in London and for some it has earned them gold.

Swimmer Dana Vollmer overcame a heart condition to win Olympic Gold and set a couple of world records

Dana Vollmer, 2012 OlympicsAt the age of 15, already an elite swimmer, Ms. Vollmer, from Granbury, Tex., was taken to a local doctor after experiencing dizzy spells while training. Doctors discovered she had an abnormal heartbeat and set up a procedure to correct it. But they then discovered she had a genetic cardiac electrical disorder called long QT syndrome, which could lead at any moment to sudden cardiac arrest.

The diagnosis was sobering. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, each year about 2,000 people under the age of 25 die of sudden cardiac arrest in the United States, most because of long QT syndrome and other electrical and structural defects in the heart. While sudden cardiac arrest can strike those who are sedentary, the risk is up to three times as great in competitive athletes.

Such diagnoses have derailed the ambitions of many young athletes. But Ms. Vollmer and her family decided against what may have been a career-ending decision to implant a defibrillator in her heart, and instead chose – with the approval of her doctors – to allow her to continue training as long as an external defibrillator was always within reach.

In 2004 in Athens at the age of 16, Dana won her first Olympic gold in the 4×200-meter freestyle relay event. Dana didn’t qualify for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing but has since returned, renewed and refreshed overcoming her physical problems and the psychological effects that were holding her back. Monday night, she not only won the gold in the 100 meter butterfly, she did it in won in 55.98 seconds, breaking the world record. Then on Wednesday night at the Olympic Aquatic Centre, Dana Vollmer swam the second leg of the 4×200 freestyle relay, along with Missy Franklin, Shannon Vreeland, and Allison Schmitt on the last leg, the U. S. swim team won the Olympic gold medal and setting an Olympic record. The U. S. women’s team hadn’t won a swimming relay eight years at the Olympics.

Overcoming the psychological trauma of being sexual assaulted by her coach when she was 13 years old, Kayla Harrison won the first gold medal in judo for the United States.

Kayla Harrison, 2012 OlympicsIn November 2007, a man pleaded guilty in a federal court in Dayton, Ohio, to illicit sexual conduct involving a 13-year-old girl. He was a judo coach, and the girl was a student he had trained closely and brought to international tournaments. Her name was given in court papers simply as “K.H.” or “the victim.” [..]

Harrison is simply the best on the team. It helps that she is also good-natured. And that she has a story she is not afraid to tell, a story that is jarring even for a sports press that can be nearly unhinged in its pursuit of the next inspirational tale.

The questions she fielded at the end of her match, about what she was thinking on the podium, about what the medal means to her, about how this compares to her own struggles, could be wince-inducing in their coy inquiries into such a painful topic.

But she answered them all with the same composure she had just used against her opponents on the mat.

“It’s no secret,” she began, after a long pause, when a reporter asked her to name the worst moment she had to face in her career, “that I was sexually abused by my former coach. And that was definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever had to overcome.”

Harrison has told her story before, first to USA Today only days after the indictment of Jerry Sandusky came down and the front pages were full of news about Penn State, sexual abuse and coaches who exploit their authority.

She said she felt it necessary to speak out so that others in her position could take heart.

Kayla is not a “victim”, she is a hero and a champion.

And for us for us seniors, who think that our time is over to be Olympic competitors  there is Equestrian Hiroshi Hoketsu of Japan the London Olympics oldest athlete:

Hiroshi Hoketsu, 2012 OlympicsThe crowd did not go wild for Hiroshi Hoketsu of Japan as he rode Whisper out on to the sand of the Greenwich Park equestrian arena at one o’clock on Thursday afternoon. It wasn’t a question of bad manners; more a question of consideration.

A stadium-sized roar to acknowledge the arrival of the Games’ oldest competitor – a ramrod-straight and dapper man of 71 – would have frightened the mare and probably embarrassed her rider.

Hoketsu, after all, had not travelled from his home in Germany to fly the flag for older athletes, nor had he come to court the sympathy vote.

He had come to London, as he went to his first games in Tokyo in 1964, and to Beijing four years ago, to compete and, hopefully, to win.

And beneath a bright sky that turned Whisper’s brown coat a dark gold, that is what he tried his best to do. [..]

His white-gloved hands keeping her on a tight rein, Whisper executed a neat diagonal cross of the arena before pausing and reversing neatly to one corner. Seven minutes later, after she had appeared to jog on the spot, skip and goose-step her way around the arena, Whisper came to a stop in front of the judges. As the first drops of rain began to fall from a greying sky, the crowd burst into applause and Hoketsu raised his hat in acknowledgement.

And with that, the oldest Olympian rode out of the arena, to finish 17th out of 24.

When he was asked about his performance and  if he would compete in Rio in four years, he blamed any errors on himself and said that competing was in doubt because of his partner Whisper’s age. He also lamented how the Olympics have changed since he started competing 48 years ago:

“The Olympic Games itself has changed a little bit,” he said. “At that time, participation was of more importance to everybody. But now I think medals are much more important, not only for athletes but also even for politics.

We salute all the champions at the Olympics.

On This Day In History August 5

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.

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August 5 is the 217th day of the year (218th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 148 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1957, American Bandstand goes national

Television, rock and roll and teenagers. In the late 1950s, when television and rock and roll were new and when the biggest generation in American history was just about to enter its teens, it took a bit of originality to see the potential power in this now-obvious combination. The man who saw that potential more clearly than any other was a 26-year-old native of upstate New York named Dick Clark, who transformed himself and a local Philadelphia television program into two of the most culturally significant forces of the early rock-and-roll era. His iconic show, American Bandstand, began broadcasting nationally on this day in 1957, beaming images of clean-cut, average teenagers dancing to the not-so-clean-cut Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” to 67 ABC affiliates across the nation.

The show that evolved into American Bandstand began on Philadephia’s WFIL-TV in 1952, a few years before the popular ascension of rock and roll. Hosted by local radio personality Bob Horn, the original Bandstand nevertheless established much of the basic format of its later incarnation. In the first year after Dick Clark took over as host in the summer of 1956, Bandstand remained a popular local hit, but it took Clark’s ambition to help it break out. When the ABC television network polled its affiliates in 1957 for suggestions to fill its 3:30 p.m. time slot, Clark pushed hard for Bandstand, which network executives picked up and scheduled for an August 5, 1957 premiere.

Albatross! Albatross!

Jon Stewart’s extended interview with Fred Guterl.

He prayeth best, who loveth best all things both great and small;

For the dear God who loveth us, He made and loveth all.’

The Mariner, whose eye is bright, whose beard with age is hoar,

Is gone: and now the Wedding-Guest turn’d from the bridegroom’s door.

He went like one that hath been stunn’d, and is of sense forlorn:

A sadder and a wiser man he rose the morrow morn.

Six In The Morning

On Sunday

As Syrian War Roils, Sectarian Unrest Seeps Into Turkey

 

By JEFFREY GETTLEMAN

ANTAKYA, Turkey – At 1 a.m. last Sunday, in the farming town of Surgu, about six hours away from here, a mob formed at the Evli family’s door.

The ill will had been brewing for days, ever since the Evli family chased away a drummer who had been trying to rouse people to a predawn Ramadan feast. The Evlis are Alawite, a historically persecuted minority sect of Islam, and also the sect of Syria’s embattled leaders, and many Alawites do not follow Islamic traditions like fasting for Ramadan.

The mob began to hurl insults. Then rocks.

“Death to Alawites!” they shouted. “We’re going to burn you all down!”

Then someone fired a gun.



see
Sunday’s Headlines:

China rebukes US diplomat for sending ‘wrong signal’ on South China Sea

Syria’s ancient treasures pulverised

Malawi’s one-woman revolution

Putin’s Russia in the dock during Pussy Riot trial

In Brazil’s backlands, decades-old feud continues to claim lives