Monday, December 22, 2014

Look back, to look forward

New York Times editorial

Since the day President Obama took office, he has failed to bring to justice anyone responsible for the torture of terrorism suspects — an official government program conceived and carried out in the years after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

He did allow his Justice Department to investigate the C.I.A.’s destruction of videotapes of torture sessions and those who may have gone beyond the torture techniques authorized by President George W. Bush. But the investigation did not lead to any charges being filed, or even any accounting of why they were not filed.

Mr. Obama has said multiple times that “we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards,” as though the two were incompatible. They are not. The nation cannot move forward in any meaningful way without coming to terms, legally and morally, with the abhorrent acts that were authorized, given a false patina of legality, and committed by American men and women from the highest levels of government on down.

Friday, October 03, 2014

Latest discount book buys

Picked these up at the local library book sale, all a dollar each:

Alpha & Omega: The Search for the Beginning and the End of the Universe (hc) by  Charles Seife

Carl Sagan: A Life (hc) by Keay Davidson

An Atheist in the FOXhole: A Liberal's Eight-Year Odyssey Inside the Heart of the Right-Wing Media (hc) by Joe Muto

Republic (pb) by Plato

The Road to Serfdom (pb) by F.A. Hayek

Mencken: A Life (hc) by Fred Hobson

Of these, I have previously read The Road to Serfdom and have listened to an audio book edition of Republic.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Excerpt of the day

From Cyberstorm by Matthew Mather

"Anytime there's even a hint of the government limiting the public's ability to buy guns, people go crazy about them taking away our freedom, but this new law that gives the government the right to spy into every aspect of your life, without your consent - barely a peep. A clear violation of the third and fourth amendments, but nobody says a word." He took a deep breath.

"You know what freedom really is?" demanded Rory. "Freedom is civil liberty, and the foundation of civil liberty is privacy. No privacy means no civil liberty means no freedom. You know why they don't just fingerprint everyone?"

"Seems like a good idea to me," laughed Chuck.

"Because once they have your fingerprints," continued Rory, ignoring Chuck, "you instantly become a subject in every crime. They'll run your fingerprints against everything they find at a crime. You go from being a free citizen to being a criminal suspect."

"And fingerprints are just one way of identifying you," added Damon. "Location, your face on a camera, things you buy - all your personal information creates a digital fingerprint."

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Baleful quote of the day

"Today, another UN school was shelled in Gaza, killing ten, wounding many more, traumatizing countless others. These civilian deaths even in a place designated as a safe haven simply beggar belief. It is impossible to feel sympathy for either Israel or Hamas at this point. Hamas is daring Israel to kill more innocents; and Israel is eagerly obliging them. How many more children have to die to feed these zero-sum ambitions?" - Andrew Sullivan

Monday, July 14, 2014

Baleful quote of the day

"Israel, Hamas, and Palestinian armed groups in Gaza have been down this road before, and it has led only to death, destruction, distrust and a painful prolongation of the conflict." - UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Quotes of the day

From Bare-Faced Messiah: The True Story of L. Ron Hubbard by Russell Miller

On Scientology hagiographies of Hubbard: "Virtually none of this is true."

On Hubbard believing his fictional biography comprised of lies:

By then [L. Ron] Hubbard was nearly seventy years old and bad lived so long in a world of phantasmagoria that he was unable to distinguish between fact and his own fantastic fiction. He believed he was the teenage explorer, swashbuckling hero, sage and philosopher his biographies said he was. It was perhaps too late for him to comprehend that his life, in reality, far outstripped the fabricated version. He made the leap from penniless science-fiction writer to millionaire guru and prophet in a single, effortless bound; he led a private navy across the oceans of the world for nearly a decade; he came close to taking over control of several countries; he was worshipped by thousands of his followers around the world and was detested and feared by most governments.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Quote of the day

"The anti-abortion zealots are just awful people, really. They have absolutely no problem treating these girls and women absolutely horribly while proclaiming themselves to be saints. It's a truly disgusting display of cruelty in the name of God." - Digby

Thursday, June 05, 2014

"Supporting our troops"

"Taken together, the far right’s dehumanization of the American soldier is clear. If he or she is willing to promote the Sarah Palin version of patriotism, honor and masculinity (or at least allow themselves to be used for that purpose), they are not human beings but rather legends and gods. And if they refuse, they lose their humanity once more, now becoming contemptible beyond all measure. Either way, they are not individuals — complex and mysterious and sacred — but rather means to an end that is, fundamentally, about their self-styled defenders’ ideological satisfaction. This, it seems to me, is an exceedingly twisted way to support our troops." - Elias Isquith

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Further tales of elected Republicans who sound insane

"Democrats bragging about the number of mandatory sign-ups for Obamacare is like Germans bragging about the number of mandatory sign-ups for 'train rides' for Jews in the 40s." - TN State Sen. Stacey Campfield

Yep, just like it. Can't think of any difference in the outcome of the ACA and Nazi death camps.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Quote of the day

"When our own nation is at war with any other, we detest them under the character of cruel, perfidious, unjust and violent: but always esteem ourselves and allies equitable, moderate and merciful. If the general of our enemies be successful, ’tis with difficulty we allow him the figure and character of a man. He is a sorcerer: he has a communication with daemons … he is bloody-minded and takes pleasure in death and destruction. But if the success be on our side, our commander has all the opposite good qualities, and is a pattern of virtue, as well as of courage and conduct. His treachery we call policy: his cruelty is an evil inseparable from war. In short, every one of his faults we either endeavor to extenuate, or dignify it with the name of virtue, which approaches it. ‘Tis evident that the same method of thinking runs thro’ common life.” - David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature

via Less than Human: Why We Demean, Enslave and Exterminate Others by David Livingstone Smith

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Quote of the day

"[N]o amount of after-the-fact sorrow could ever atone for joy taken in destruction, whether it was burning ants or shooting prisoners." - Stephen King, Under the Dome

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Quote of the day

"Whoever would overthrow the liberty of the nation, must begin by subduing the freedom of speech; a thing terrible to publick traitors." - John Trenchard & Thomas Gordon, Cato's Letters #15 (February 4, 1720)

Monday, March 10, 2014

Quote of the day

"She is the living representation of the infantilization of American politics, a poisonous Grimm Sister telling toxic fairy tales to audiences drunk on fear, and hate and nonsense. She respects no standards but her own. She is in perpetual tantrum, railing against her betters, which is practically everyone, and volunteering for the job of avatar to the country's reckless vandal of a political Id. It was the address of a malignant child delivered to an audience of malignant children." - Charles Pierce, on Sarah Palin's 2014 CPAC speech

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Excerpt of the day

"[Ayn Rand] claimed to have created herself with the help of no one, even though she was the lifelong beneficiary of social democratic largesse. She got a college education thanks to the Russian Revolution, which opened universities to women and Jews and, once the Bolsheviks had seized power, made tuition free. Subsidizing theatre for the masses, the Bolsheviks also made it possible for Rand to see cheesy operettas on a weekly basis. After Rand's first play closed in New York City in April 1936, the Works Progress Administration took it on the road to theaters across the country, giving Rand a handsome income of $10 a performance throughout the late 1930s. Librarians at the New York Public Library assisted her with the research for The Fountainhead." - Corey Robin, The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism from Edmund Burke to Sarah Palin

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Baleful quote of the day

"[I]f the entire intelligence community thinks these reporters are either committing a crime or are an accomplice to one [for NSA reports based on Edward Snowden leaks], are they attempting to use this as a justification to target them with surveillance? This is the question the press should now be asking since we know it’s not just a fluke that intelligence officials are trying to paint journalists doing their job as criminals." - Trevor Timm

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Quote of the day

"Saint Petersburg in revolt gave us Vladimir Nobokov, Isaiah Berlin, and Ayn Rand. The first was a novelist, the second a philosopher. The third was neither but thought she was both." - Corey Robin, The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism from Edmund Burke to Sarah Palin

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Quote of the day

"The truth is that neither federal nor state governments have ever mounted a campaign to intern the free-market faithful or blacklist the hardworking proletarians in the Chicago futures pits. However, they have used force over the years to break up strikes, imprison labor organizers, keep minorities from voting, round up people of Japanese descent, and disrupt antiwar movements. Today, though, it suits the resurgent Right to imagine itself as the real victim of state persecution, which no doubt enhances its aura as a dissident movement taking on a merciless establishment." - Thomas Frank, Pity the Billionaire

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Trivia of the day

Question: What was the first typewritten manuscript submitted for publication?

Answer: Life on the Mississippi (1883) by Mark Twain

Twain receives the credit for having dictated the book to a secretary, although this is not so much a verified fact as a claim found to be the most plausible case for first such use of the typewriter.

[Source - The Disappearing Spoon: and Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of Elements by Sam Kean]

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Quote of the day

"Extreme inequality, it turns out, creates a class of people who are alarmingly detached from reality — and simultaneously gives these people great power." - Paul Krugman, "Paranoia of the Plutocrats"

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Quote of the day

"The conservative capacity for driving nails into their own palms may well be limitless." - Charles Pierce

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Quote of the day

"Justice is not only about the right way to distribute things. It is also about the right way to value things." - Michael Sandel, Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do?

Monday, January 13, 2014

Quote of the day

"Clearly he was the cause of the stories that had arisen recently in the more extremely abhorrent sectors of the tabloid press about there being 'Something Nasty in the Woodshead.' The stories had, of course, been offensive and callously insensitive and had largely been ignored by everybody in the country except for those very few millions who were keen on offensive and callously insensitive things." - Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul

Friday, January 10, 2014

Quote of the day

"Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving; it consists in professing to believe what [one] does not believe." - Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason

Monday, January 06, 2014

Quote of the day

"With cold weather it is inevitable that the American right wing, which has a poor grasp of science and math (along with economics, American history, and current events), will claim this to be evidence against global warming." - Ron Chusid