Thursday, June 30, 2005

Escape From The Giant Robots

It's been pretty sparse posting here at my own home-sweet-homesite and The American Street, though I try to make more regular contributions at corrente as I can. This is the end of the fiscal year, a time of inevitably intense ratcheting-up of tasks at the place where I do that voodoo that I do so well for a union paycheck that has been shrinking like a frightened turtle under the past years of Bush's fuck-you economic kiss-off to the states. And for those of us for whom this blogging gig is merely an act of love, sometimes real life just has to come first.

But in another 24 hours or so I'll be putting it all behind me to head for the Adirondacks and hide out on an island for the national birthday---a place you can only get to by kayak, where the views will look something like this:

Enhanced

We will then pitch our tent, and weather willing, lay back under the Milky Way (which I can never see where I live) with homemade sangria, and put all this madness aside for a little while. We will read nothing but field guides, listen to nothing but loons and an ocasional wolf, and pretend for a little while that the world is a safer place than it is, or at least only dangerous in a way that makes sense.

martian3 If I were planning to stay home for the holiday, I might get out and give "War of the Worlds" a shot. I'm not a big Tom Cruise fan, and Spielberg's hothouse perfections can really grate, but the advance word intrigues the misanthrope in me. The H.G. Wells novel is a sustained threnody of terror that plugs directly into that part of the unconscious where fear of spiders and falling out of trees resides. What could be more frightening than the unstoppable onslaught of monstrous mechanical things aping vague life-forms, spreading through the countryside and targeting you for death simply because you live? (Seeing enemy tanks and APVs rumbling through your hometown probably does the same thing, except that it's real, and we do it to ourselves, over and over and over again).

venusrob One of the most terrifying and fascinating movies I remember seeing as a little kid was about giant robots who came to a city and laid waste to the inhabitants. Where did they come from? Why did they hate us? There were no answers, and none needed in that Cold War era of permanent paranoia. I grew up learning that simply being alive was enough to make those not like me want to kill me, whether they were giant robots or Russians. And what better time to re-visit those old horrors than in this brave new world of terrorism-with-a-trademark, where George Bush is working hard to give us the same free-floating anxieties that worked so well for Harry Truman, and have bloated to bursting the thousand defense industries that profited so greatly during the last World War?

Mushroom%20_Cloud The Village Voice's reviewer, Michael Atkinson, makes much of Spielberg's harkening back to 9/11; the destruction in the movie seems possibly exploitive to him. But any movie whose central premise is mass destruction will have scenes that you can't help link to 9/11. And we do have a predilection for that sort of cinematic bombast that considerably predates 2001. (Strange, isn't it, that one of the two years we link to literature and cinema--"1984", "2001: A Space Odyssey"--has turned out to have been a harbinger after all;. just not the kind Stanley Kubrick intended.) More likely to me is that we externalize our fears into the stories we tell ourselves, and nowhere is that more obvious than in horror movies and books. If nothing else, it helps us see ourselves and offers a way to collectively brainstorm solutions by seeding the public consciousness.

On the other hand, if all this is too much like fantasy, there is always James Wolcott's favorite buzzkill, Jim Kunstler, inveighing against our fossil fuel-guzzling ways over at Clusterfuck Nation:
"Oil's remorseless up-ratcheting past $60 is as much a symptom of a weak dollar as a strained global energy allocation system, and the dollar is weakening because the way of life it represents is becoming more and more unreal. The harsh truth is that we've reached the limit of our ability to expand our suburban sprawl economy and there is no alternative US economy in the background ready to take its place. The world can't fail to notice this weakness. The inability to generate even fake wealth, in the form of ever more WalMarts, will take its toll on the consensus that the American Dream has enduring value.
The stock market contraction ought to reflect this reality -- apart from desperate attempts by US government proxies to levitate share prices -- and it is hard to imagine a rally in the face of $60 oil. I'm inclined to predict a gruesome journey down for the Dow Jones into the 4000 range by the end of the year. Until now the dollars created by the Federal Reserve's supernaturally loose credit policy have sought shelter in the "hard assets" of houses? A meltdown of the stock markets will translate into vanishing leverage in all other areas of finance, especially in real estate (as well as a swath of destruction through hedge funds, retirement accounts and, eventually, the entire creaking superstructure of the hallucinated mortgage industry). A few Americans are actually going to get the message that this is not a good time to buy an overpriced raised ranch house. A lot of real estate geniuses are going to witness their own ruin with wonder and nausea."
Ah. Good times, eh? Who needs a giant robot or a fleet of homicidal alien APVs when we've got...humanity!

And that's why I'm going to paddle off into the sunset and forget all this. See you next week.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

The Debutante's Ball

Cheetah babies have their coming-out party at The National Zoo:
cheetah cubs
At least there's something coming out of Washington that's not entirely repulsive.

A Meditation On Hamburger

Intro

First, Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) is one form of a group of brain-wasting diseases known as Transmissable Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSEs) that is most likely caused by a mustant protein called a prion. It is related to the human Creuztfeld-Jacob Disease (CJD)--which takes various forms--and to kuru, which was orginally first discovered in a cannibal people, the Fore of New Guinea, back in the 50's. It was found to be passed by eating infected tissue, particularly brain tissue. When humans eat animal tissue infected with BSE, they can develop new variant Creutzfeld-Jacob Disease (vCJD).

Animals and humans who contract these diseases will die--no ifs, ands, or buts. They are long-developing diseases, so one may not become symptomatic for 4-20 years, or longer. It is a horrible death. The brain literally evaporates, as the proteins erode the tissues and leave holes till it eventually resembles a sponge, hence the name. Once the symptoms show, the victim loses mind, movement, sight, hearing, and then mercifully dies in a matter of months.

The easiest way to contract vCJD from eating infected meat is by eating hamburger or other ground/mixed meat that has been formed prior to your buying it. The process used to stun the animals, and of separating and grinding the meat after hand de-boning, often leaves or spreads brain and spinal tissue through the meat. Eating large chucks of muscle meat, like steak, chops, or roasts almost eliminates the possibility of ingesting stray neurological tissue.


Yesterday

Yesterday evening I first saw it. An almost harmless-looking little blurb in the NYTimes Science Section headed: "Tests Confirm 2nd Case of Mad Cow Disease in U.S." It went on to say that the USDA had confirmed that a cow had died last November of the disease, but as it hadn't entered the food chain, all was well. In fact, the animal had tested inconclusively for the disease. Additional testing was done in England, where they take such things seriously, and the test proved positive. Our Secretary for Agriculture had this to say:
""We are currently testing nearly 1,000 animals per day" as part of the program to detect mad cow disease, Mr. Johanns said. He added that scientists had performed more than 388,000 total tests. "This is the first confirmed case resulting from our surveillance.
"I am encouraged that our interlocking safeguards are working exactly as intended," he said. "This animal was blocked from entering the food supply because of the firewalls we have in place. Americans have every reason to continue to be confident in the safety of our beef."
Mr. Johanns also said that beginning immediately, if another cow disease screening test results in inconclusive findings, the department would run two kinds of tests, including the "Western blot" test conducted in England and an immunohistochemistry test."
In another article the Times ran the same day, the cow in question was said to be a beef cow 8 years of age (very old for an animal raised for beef) and that it was slaughtered at a pet food plant. It was old enough to have been born before a 1997 ban on recycling cattle remains in cattle feed, which is a key vector for the disease. All should be well, right?

Except that Johanns' assurance about testing and safeguards and firewalls rings a little hollow when you compare his testing numbers ("nearly 1000 animals a day") with the truly vast numbers--30 million a year--being slaughtered. This means more than 461,538 cattle,or almost half a million, are killed daily. A thousand cows tested a day is only 2/10ths of 1% of the total animals killed every year, which leaves a lot to slip through the firewall. Former Ag Sec Ann Veneman had an opportunity to do something about this when the first incidence of mad cow was reported in December 2003, but chose not to, flacking instead for the cattle industry and the Bushco party line, and instituing the tiny inspection program currently in place, not to protect consumers but to ease fears of foreign beef buyers for the sake of the industry.

Further, cattle blood is still added to feed, and despite a supposed ban on using them for food, downer cows are still not taken seriously. Imagine yourself a farmer, and that you saw a sickly cow falling to the ground or staggering weirdly around your herd. Upon examination, you found it appeared very ill, perhaps on the verge of death. Would you then go ahead and kill it and set it on your family's table? This is what the USDA has allowed for decades, and only recently begun to limit. It is the downer cows who are tested, and not all of them. Then, tucked into the very bottom of the second article was this:
"USDA officials said the new BSE case was a different strain from the first U.S. case and the outbreak that occurred in Britain in the 1980s. Some experts had speculated the conflicting test results were due to an unusual type of BSE."
Which raise the chilling possibility that the form has mutated into yet another variant.

Then, in a follow-up article that mostly elaborates on the reports of yesterday, the foul-ups of the testing and protocols followed were laid out: the cow was "too crippled to walk" when it was killed; the cow was tested twice by Elisa and found positive, then once by the "gold standard" and found negative, then again by an "enhanced, experimental" version of the gold standard and found positive; the methods of handling and storing tissues was badly violated and compromised; no records were kept.

After all this, the USDA Inspector General ordered a Western blot test, the good one used by the Europeans and British, and confirmed a positive. Johanns, who has your welfare at heart, was ticked that this last test was ordered without his knowledge, though if it hadn't been, you would not likely have heard about any of this. And as was noted in the article, it took them 7 months to get around to this testing, and no written records were even kept.


Last Year

If you regularly read my stuff, you know how I caution against giving this administration credence when it comes to any form of communication, but especially that related to science. Back on January 3, 2004, I sent the following to Josh Micah Marshall of Talking Points Memo:

"Dear Josh ---
I'm sending this to you because you may be able to get the word out. In the wake of the discovery of BSE in the U.S. cow, Bush's agriculture department has done everything it can to maintain a "no sweat" face to the rest of us. Of course panic should be controlled,and people should be educated about what it means. What they shouldn't be is lied to, and that is exactly what the government is doing here. Despite the CDC's own report on the occurence of vCJD (the variant that infects humans who eat BSE meat) in Florida in fall 2002, also echoed by the Wolrd Health Org., their layman's FAQ section denies any such incidence. If they lie to us about this, how much can we trust them with our lives?

At the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Report, back on May 12, 2003.

And also at the WHO website, revised as of November, 2002.

BUT...at the consumer-friendly CDC website for dummies."
He responded with:
"i'm not sure i understand. are you saying that they're denying a proven link between BSE and CJD? "
Which I wasn't, and so followed up with this:
"I don't think they're denying a link exists between BSE and vCJD. Too much credible scientific research, in and out of the US, has proven it, and they acknowledge this in their MMWR. But I think they're flat-out lying on their website(there--I've said it!) by stating that a case of vCJD has never occurred in this country. This is clearly untrue,and they know it. Hell, they reported it, and WHO followed up. But this switchback may be quibbling on their part. The incubation period can be very long---9-15 years---before signs of the disase finally show, though once signs appear, death usually happens very quickly, in about 6 months. The kid who was confirmed with the disease down in Florida in 2002 was originally from England, and moved to this country in 1992. Although he could have contracted it while still in the UK, it's also possible he contracted it here because he was here for 10 years before he showed. But by rejecting that possiblity and framing it as a non-native incidence, they could justify claiming that there have been no occurrences in the US.
Considering Bush's people's penchant for twisting science and bowdlerizing scientific information to suit their political and religious wolrdview as they have done on the NIH website and elsewhere, not to mention their earnest desire to keep the National Cattlemen's happy, I think this bodes ill for the chances that we'll get upfront, honest information and real protection from them in this matter. The point is, while this may seem like a relatively inconsequential bit of cognitive dissonance by the CDC, I fear something much worse being withheld or covered up down the road, if not already."

What To Do

At the very least, avoid pre-made burgers. Shop, if you can, at farmer's markets where you can meet and get to know local farmers and butchers, and know where your meat comes from. Have it ground there, or buy a grinder or Kitchen-Aid attachment and start making your own burger and sausage from larger cuts of meat. Not only will you be doing your body a favor, you may be supporting more humane farming and you'll definitely be eating better-tasting food.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Like A Tea-Tray In The Sky

madhatter Madness truly has descended on the land, when I object to the outrage of this kind of Supreme Court decision, and discover that I'm on the same side as Scalia, "Lumpy", and Rehnquist:
"A divided Supreme Court ruled that local governments may seize people's homes and businesses against their will for private development in a decision anxiously awaited in communities where economic growth conflicts with individual property rights.
Thursday's 5-4 ruling represented a defeat for some Connecticut residents whose homes are slated for destruction to make room for an office complex. They argued that cities have no right to take their land except for projects with a clear public use, such as roads or schools, or to revitalize blighted areas.
As a result, cities now have wide power to bulldoze residences for projects such as shopping malls and hotel complexes in order to generate tax revenue."
The Right has been extreme about property rights for decades, but this pushes the concept of "eminent domain" into the arena of tyranny at the service of laissaiz-faire robber barons and free-wheeling real estate speculation. O'Conner, in her dissent, puts it this way:
"Any property may now be taken for the benefit of another private party, but the fallout from this decision will not be random," O'Connor wrote. "The beneficiaries are likely to be those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms."
She was joined in her opinion by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, as well as Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas."
The true irony of this decision is that it puts the some of the most conservative jurists ever to sit on the Court at odds with their own supporters, while the moderate justices, whom Bush and his cronies have railed against for years, stand squarely behind the Boy King, whose aiding and abetting of the theft of family homes in Arlington TX paved the way for the Rangers to build a new arena complex, as the Texas Observer noted in 1998:
"In an October 26, 1990, memo from Mike Reilly (an Arlington real estate broker and part owner of the Rangers), to Tom Schieffer, Reilly says of the Mathes property, "... in this particular situation our first offer should be our final offer.... If this fails, we will probably have to initiate condemnation proceedings after the bond election passes."
The Mathes memo reveals a sharp contrast between Bush's public pronouncements in defense of property rights and his private profiteering. While running against Ann Richards, Bush said, "I understand full well the value of private property and its importance not only in our state but in capitalism in general, and I will do everything I can to defend the power of private property and private property rights when I am the governor of this state."
Yet Bush and his partners used Arlington's powers to condemn the land for the stadium, and relied on taxpayers to repay the bonds sold to build the Ballpark -- receiving what amounts to a direct $135-million subsidy. Now, after tripling the amount they paid for the Rangers, Bush and his partners won't re-pay the city a measly $7.5 million.
"The best way to allocate resources in our society is through the marketplace. Not through a governing elite," Bush said on the first day of his 1993 campaign. By selling the Rangers, Bush and his fellow sports moguls demonstrated the power of the marketplace -- not exactly a "free-market" marketplace, but who worries about small details? Now, by refusing to pay their debt to the people who pay the taxes in Arlington, they are also proving that the governing elite live by their own rules."
"Very uncomfortable for the Dormouse," thought Alice; only, as it's asleep, I suppose it doesn't mind."

Hope your home sweet home manages to avoid the covetous eyes of roving capitalists. If not, you can take comfort in knowing the "marketplace" has your best interests at heart. As for the rest of America, as they're asleep, I suppose they don't mind.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Moloch, Baal, Xipe Totec

Romulus_et_remus Something weird is happening in Mother Africa, cradle of life: first, a baby is thrown away like garbage, only to be rescued and protected by a stray Kenyan dog. Now comes a story from Ethiopia of a young girl rescued by lions:

"A 12-year-old girl who was abducted and beaten by men trying to force her into a marriage was found being guarded by three lions who apparently had chased off her captors, a policeman said Tuesday...
She was beaten repeatedly before she was found June 9 by police and relatives on the outskirts of Bita Genet, Wondimu said. She had been guarded by the lions for about half a day, he said.
"They stood guard until we found her and then they just left her like a gift and went back into the forest," Wondimu said.
"If the lions had not come to her rescue, then it could have been much worse. Often these young girls are raped and severely beaten to force them to accept the marriage," he said."
A local wet blanket had this explanation:

"Stuart Williams, a wildlife expert with the rural development ministry, said the girl may have survived because she was crying from the trauma of her attack.
"A young girl whimpering could be mistaken for the mewing sound from a lion cub, which in turn could explain why they didn't eat her," Williams said."
Yes, I'm sure the look and smell of her gave off no clues. Regardless, these stories touch the romantic in me, and I can't help think how much alike they are in the message they send...that as the humanity leaches out of our miserable race, the animals around us seem to be developing their own, and like dutiful grandparents picking up the pieces of their grandchildren's broken lives when their kids abandon them, animals are beginning to shoulder the responsiblities we are no longer human enough to carry.

And for this we murder them into extinction, torture them in labs, and torment them in pits for our amusement. We are indeed made in the image of our gods.

Midsummer's Day

The summer solstice has arrived!

sampcourt

Friday, June 17, 2005

Losing Durbin On The Freeway

hanged_man Sez the political traitor Senator Dick Durbin:
"When you read some of the graphic descriptions of what has occurred here -- I almost hesitate to put them in the record, and yet they have to be added to this debate. Let me read to you what one FBI agent saw. And I quote from his report:
    On a couple of occasions, I entered interview rooms to find a detainee chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, with no chair, food or water. Most times they urinated or defecated on themselves, and had been left there for 18-24 hours or more. On one occasion, the air conditioning had been turned down so far and the temperature was so cold in the room, that the barefooted detainee was shaking with cold....On another occasion, the [air conditioner] had been turned off, making the temperature in the unventilated room well over 100 degrees. The detainee was almost unconscious on the floor, with a pile of hair next to him. He had apparently been literally pulling his hair out throughout the night. On another occasion, not only was the temperature unbearably hot, but extremely loud rap music was being played in the room, and had been since the day before, with the detainee chained hand and foot in the fetal position on the tile floor.
If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime -- Pol Pot or others -- that had no concern for human beings. Sadly, that is not the case. This was the action of Americans in the treatment of their prisoners.
It is not too late. I hope we will learn from history. I hope we will change course."
While the White House and its political cronies wax white with foam over the recent remarks by about the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo, they seem blithely unconcerned over the implications of the recently publicized UK memos.

"Appalling!" "Beyond belief!" "Egregious misjudgment!" cried the Armies of the Rule of Law, from deep within the tender sensibilities of their fine-tuned compassion.

"Reprehensible...disservice to our men and women in uniform...should apologize," sputtered well-known human rights activist Scott McClellan about Durbin this a.m on NPR. Meanwhile, when asked about the "forum" on the Downing Street Memo held by John Conyers, Jr. yesterday, he said "Our focus is not on the past, it's on the future..." And don't fucking trouble me with this twaddle again.

Durbin doesn't need me to defend him, he has plenty of more eloquent folks doing that. But Chris Hedges, in his new book, "Losing Moses On The Freeway", has something to say about the idols of the state, and state religion, that seems particularly apt:

"Those who sanctify their own power deny this mystery (that is God). They promise that God can not only be known but also manipulated. False prophets, who say they can harness the power of God for us, lead us away from the worship of God into the corrosive idolatry of self-worship. They seek to speak not only for God, but for the nation, fusing religion and nationalism into a dangerous brew that brings us to kneel before the idol of the state...
We depend on our idols to give us order and meaning. We depend on our idols to define our place in the world. Idols give us a world that appears logical and coherent. Idols free us from moral choice. Idols determine right and wrong. Idols render judgment. We follow. We conform.
When we see the hollowness of our idols, how they have led us to waste time and energy, when we smash these false gods and peer at the uncertainty of life, those who continue to revere the idol turn against us. We are expelled from the cult, stripped of identifying power and left alone. It is easier to remain silent, to pay homage to a false god, even after this god is exposed as a fraud. Those who worship idols deal harshly with those who become apostates."
Durbin has become apostate, and the cult has begun its work.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Fourth of July Meditation

When the jackboots infesting our govenment are hiding their tyrant's ambition behind the voodoo rattles of fear and paranoia, and when they jump on any opportunity to remove the safeguards for citizen control from the system, and when all their high talk about freedom thuds lifeless to the ground, emptier than an eggshell sucked dry by a dog...
then it's time to admit that anything may be possible, including the possibility that we can ultimately prevail over these dark times.

From the wonderful Mr. Fish, via Harper's:

Lady Liberty
It's my country, too, motherfuckers.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Your Lyin' Eyes

cat painter From Florida medical examiner Jon Thogmarton on the release of Terri Schiavo's autopsy report:

"...his examination turned up no sign of abuse or trauma -- allegations leveled by Terri Schiavo's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, against her husband and legal guardian, Michael Schiavo.
A report from a neuropathologist who served as a consultant to the autopsy said Schiavo's brain was "grossly abnormal and weighed only 615 grams (1.35 pounds)." That weight is less than half of that expected for a woman of her age, said the report written by Dr. Stephen J. Nelson. "By way of comparison, the brain of Karen Ann Quinlan weighed 835 grams at the time of her death, after 10 years in a similar persistent vegetative state"...
Schiavo's brain damage "was irreversible, and no amount of therapy or treatment would have regenerated the massive loss of neurons," Thogmartin said.
He said, the vision centers of her brain were dead, meaning she was blind. And his examination showed she would have been unable to take nourishment by mouth because of the danger she might aspirate the food."
No evidence of abuse, no evidence of foul play. The response of Schiavo's parents to this?

"The lawyer for the Schindlers said at a news conference today that the parents continue to believe their daughter was not in a persistent vegetative state and thus should not have had her feeding tube removed."
Ever since the Rodney King video made self-delusion a national past-time, more and more people have been navigating by the comfortable worldmaps inside their own heads, rather than seeing what's right in front of their eyes. Now Schiavo's parents, confronted by information on their daughter's condition that fails to support their own beliefs, simply choose to ignore it, and are joined and even encouraged in this sad shadow play by the vultures of life.

But why not? Hasn't the political and public reaction to the revelations of Abu Ghraib, Guuantanamo, and Bagram Air Base demonstrated that Americans have a talent for this that is nearly phenomenal? Eventually respect for the truth and the desire to seek it out must begin to wear thin, when you live in a world where no evidence is ever enough. You start to suspect that, ultimately, finding out what's real and sharing that with others is not only a waste of time, it could even get you hurt. You stop trying.

And maybe that is the point.

Countries That Sweat Together...

It's been stiflingly hot here on the East Coast this week. Just walking down the street feels like more like swimming in a jacked-up hot tub. And it has made me think about the kind of heat the folks in Iraq are dealing with, the problems they've had with rolling blackouts in the summers since we invaded, and the misery it's caused for lack of air conditioning and fans.

While the rah-rah pro-war stories (Iraq is actually "the victim of success"?) increasingly paint life over there as one big liberated party of progress on repairs to the infrastructure, our own Department of Energy has this to say recently about the electricity situation there (you'll have to scroll more than halfway down to get past the voluminous fretting over the oil situation):

"As of late May 2005, reports indicated that Iraq had around 4,000-5,000 megawatts (MW) of available, operable power generating capacity, well below projected peak 2005 summer demand of 8,000 MW. As a result, Iraqis are likely to face shortages this summer, even if capacity increases by the 1,700 MW Electricity Minister Ayham al-Samarra'i has indicated is possible if adequate fuels can be made available. The shortage of electric generating capacity in Iraq has been caused by numerous problems, including sabotage, looting, lack of security for workers, disruptions in fuel supplies for the plants, difficulty in procuring replacement parts at the aging stations, lack of training for workers, and obsolete technology. In early March 2005, Samarra'i said that unless $5 billion were allocated to Iraq's electricity sector, the situation could become disastrous."
Now remind me again how much money we have poured into restoring infrastructure there?

Not So Much "Froth" As A Cataract

Think we aren't watching a housing bubble blowing up? On Morning Edition today, Ketzel Levine just did a story on a physician-real estate "strategist" whose main talent seems to be driving up the cost of housing in depressed areas and converting hospitals and schools into condos.

Here's the thing: Levine reports that in the area her subject "strategizes", the housing market has been rising by 3% a month.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Chemical Soup

My big thing is posted at The American Street today.

I'm exhausted.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Sex Is Destiny: The Freudian Right

Friday over at TAPPED, Garance Franke-Ruta observed some gleanings from that universally-respected think tank, Primetime Live:
"...let's remember that, even though women are more broadly socially liberal than men, their liberalism is a form of tolerance, not libertinism. Overall, women are much more behaviorally conservative than men -- they have fewer sex partners, start having sex later, are less likely to do drugs, commit crimes, etc. -- and their greater tolerance is an outgrowth of an ethos of personal restraint that respects and is sympathetic toward the autonomy of others, not necessarily out of a progressive political mindset. Men, meanwhile, are much more judgemental of others, even while being personally adventurous themselves (which is how you wind up with creatures like Bill O'Reilly of falafel fame).
ABC's Primetime Live reported some interesting differences between the sexes when it comes to what are in political circles known as values questions:
Women are more conservative about sex ..."
There follows numerous stats on the views of men and women toward aspects of sex, proving her point, including that women are less sexually adventurous, think there's too much sex on TV, care less for pre-marital sex, and spend less time in/on sex chat rooms and websites. She continues:
"No great surprises there, but how could all of this not have some kind of political implications in an era where the culture is a matter for political contestation? Maybe it just takes until they have kids for women's greater conservatism on values questions to overide their greater tolerance and swing them over to the GOP side. But their greater conservatism is there from the get go."
"Greater conservatism on values questions"? You mean, like war? Child hunger? Abortion? Job security and fair wages? On each of these things women are generally more liberal than men, and none of it has anything to do with sex. To assume that, because a woman is more conservative sexually it is therefore an indication of her general political temper, is to ignore the roots of that sexual conservatism. When sexuality is used as a weapon or method of exploitation against you, when you grow up being told to be wary of the predators of the opposite sex who may hurt you sexually, emotionally, or physically if you let down your guard, the resulting "sexual conservatism" is merely common sense. It does not automatically extend to the rest of your life and outlook.

Didn't we spend years trying to get away from the idea that a woman's sexuality determined her entire personality? Yes, I avoid porn sites and think there is too much sex on TV, but I'm about as liberal as they get. And I became even more progressive after I had a child.

I understand the desire to get a handle on how the world works by trying to fit difficult problems into pre-fabricated pegholes, but rather than clarify and explain, this kind of summing up just helps maintain the fog of confusion.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Riggsveda's Tiny Universe Gets Expanded

The one and only Riggsveda progeny headed down to TN on Thursday without a banjo on her knee, hepped up to see the Bonnaroo. Dare I admit it? I had no clue as to what she was talking about, until she sat down at the computer and pulled up the website. It states: "A four-day, multi-stage camping festival held on a 700-acre farm in Manchester, Tennessee, the event’s first three annual installments each sold out up to 90,000 tickets with no traditional advertising—an unprecedented achievement...In addition to dozens of epic performances, the festival buzzes with round-the-clock attractions and activities including a classic arcade, cinema, comedy club, theater performers, beer festival, playground, kids area, artist workshops, yoga classes, and a music technology village, not to mention over a hundred vendors, cafes, and concessionaires providing high quality crafts and foods."
jm_belatrio01_6-10-05_jm jm_karldenson09_6-11-05_jm What a lineup! Everybody from Karl Denson's Tiny Universe to Bela Fleck, with Madeleine Peyroux and Herbie Hancock in between. Allman Bros., Black Crowes, Dave Matthews, Allison Krauss, Toots and the Maytalls, Ollabelle, De La Soul, Earl Scruggs, and ...Jesus, what an eclectic line-up. Plus movies, games, auctions, charities, yoga, a masquerade ball, and too much more. I'm thinking this may be my second chance to do the Woodstock thing, and giving serious consideration to going next year.

I hear the barbecue in TN is fabulous.

UPDATE: I stumbled over Mouthful of Feathers' website, and whaddya know? Bonaroo blogging! (Very nice site.)

Haloscan Alert

It's gone mad, I tell you, mad.
catherding
Bear with us till the geeks have herded the appropriate cats.
Thanks.

Michael Kinsley To The Republic's Rescue

What could be more cutting than the discovery that someone you have respected for years, someone you defended against attacks by others who felt he was a rudderless punk, this person has pretty well single-handedly undercut one of the most important revelations the left has been able to use since Bush was appointed Dauphin by his daddy's buddies? Granted, he's not fuzzy lovable, and he has an acid tongue, but for years I overlooked his New Republicitis. I wonder what his predecessor and successor Lewis Lapham has to say about Michael Kinsley these days?

Well, Kinsley has shot his keyboard off, no doubt in the service of "balance", and unleashed a spray of indiscriminate fire across the bow of the LA Times:

"After about the 200th e-mail from a stranger demanding that I cease my personal cover-up of something called the Downing Street Memo, I decided to read it. (By mentioning 200 e-mails, I do not intend to brag. I'm sure Tom Friedman got many more.) It's all over the blogosphere and Air America, the left-wing talk-radio network: This is the smoking gun of the Iraq war. It is proof positive that President Bush was determined to invade Iraq a year before he did so. The whole "weapons of mass destruction" concern was phony from the start, and the drama about inspections was just kabuki: going through the motions.
Although it is flattering to be thought personally responsible for allowing a proven war criminal to remain in office, in the end I don't buy the fuss. Nevertheless, I am enjoying it, as an encouraging sign of the left's revival. Developing a paranoid theory and promoting it to the very edge of national respectability takes ideological self-confidence. It takes a critical mass of citizens with extreme views and the time and energy to obsess about them. It takes a promotional infrastructure and the discipline to settle on a story line, disseminate it and stick to it.
It takes, in short, what Hillary Clinton once called a vast conspiracy. The right has had one for years. Even moderate and reasonable right-wingers benefit from a mass of angry people even further right. This overhang of extremists makes the moderates appear more reasonable. It has pulled the center of politics, where the media try to be and where compromises on particular issues end up, in a rightward direction. Listening to extreme views on your own side is soothing even if you would never express them and may not even believe them."
Gosh, thanks for the broadbrush libel, Michael. Oh, I'm not quoting any more of it, it's full of snarky disdain and ho-ho-ho condescension. But what prompted this unplanned post was finding this poison in the op-ed pages of the Washington Post. And not only in WaPo, but with a weathervane for it on the front page.

So I'm at mithras' blog, and I go:

"Well, the density and incuriousness of the American public is enough of an obstacle without Michael Kinsley (who used to edit Harper's and had some credibility until he decided to mud-wrestle with Susan Estrich) popping off in the pages of the LA Times about how the blogosphere's Loony Left has gotten its panties in a bunch over some no-news memo that doesn't prove a thing about Bush's intentions, and how we poor deluded fools are weaving conspiracy theories out of information that was in plain sight clear back in 2002. His piece drips with such disdain and scorn that I woudn't be surprised if LGF and the RNC sticky-post it on their front pages for the next two weeks.
With ex-liberals like Kinsley purging the ranks of us "fringe elements", who needs Karl Rove?"
And he goes:

""
Which is about all there is left to say.

John Conyers Demonstrates How To Represent

He's doing his job.
conyers
Now you do yours.

Sign here.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Update On Hedges: His Enemies Speak

Ironically, as I was typing in the previous post, I was missing a chance to watch Chris Hedges on PBS' NOW last night, his second appearance as far as I know. What I did catch was former judge and Old Testament fan Roy Moore defend the idea that an American Sikh would have to submit to a Christian God in a courtroom, and complain bitterly about why a statue of a Greek goddess (representing Justice) could remain while his beloved big old rock had to go. Moore evidently would have difficulty understanding that the winged messenger logo used by FTD is not an obeisance to the Greek pantheon, but subtleties and nuances are not usually the forte of the Christian right.

The NOW site gives even more background on Hedges:
"Hedges was a foreign correspondent for fifteen years. He joined the staff of THE NEW YORK TIMES in 1990 and previously worked for THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS, THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR, and National Public Radio. He holds a B.A. in Enlish Literature from Colgate University and a Master of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School. He has taught at Columbia University, New York University, and Princeton University.

Hedges was a member of THE NEW YORK TIMES team that won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting for the paper's coverage of global terrorism, and he received the 2002 Amnesty International Global Award for Human Rights Journalism."
128 The site also notes that Stanley Kurtz of the National Review wrote a comeback to Hedges' Harper's article on the Christian Right, the quote of which completely mis-interprets (deliberately?) one of Hedge's sentences:
"The most disturbing part of the Harper’s cover story (the one by Chris Hedges) was the attempt to link Christian conservatives with Hitler and fascism. Once we acknowledge the similarity between conservative Christians and fascists, Hedges appears to suggest, we can confront Christian evil by setting aside “the old polite rules of democracy.” So wild conspiracy theories and visions of genocide are really excuses for the Left to disregard the rules of democracy and defeat conservative Christians — by any means necessary."
Now, look. I have the article in question, and it clearly does not use that sentence to mean that we on the left must disregard the rules of democracy and law in forwarding some kind of agenda of destruction of the Christian right. Here is the sentence in context:
" I can’t help but recall the words of my ethics professor at Harvard Divinity School, Dr. James Luther Adams, who told us that when we were his age, and he was then close to eighty, we would all be fighting the “Christian fascists.”
He gave us that warning twenty-five years ago, when Pat Robertson and other prominent evangelists began speaking of a new political religion that would direct its efforts at taking control of all major American institutions, including mainstream denominations and the government, so as to transform the United States into a global Christian empire. At the time, it was hard to take such fantastic rhetoric seriously. But fascism, Adams warned, would not return wearing swastikas and brown shirts. Its ideological inheritors would cloak themselves in the language of the Bible; they would come carrying crosses and chanting the Pledge of Allegiance.
Adams had watched American intellectuals and industrialists flirt with fascism in the 1930s. Mussolini’s “Corporatism,” which created an unchecked industrial and business aristocracy, had appealed to many at the time as an effective counterweight to the New Deal. In 1934, Fortune magazine lavished praise on the Italian dictator for his defanging of labor unions and his empowerment of industrialists at the expense of workers. Then as now, Adams said, too many liberals failed to understand the power and allure of evil, and when the radical Christians came, these people would undoubtedly play by the old, polite rules of democracy long after those in power had begun to dismantle the democratic state. Adams had watched German academics fall silent or conform. He knew how desperately people want to believe the comfortable lies told by totalitarian movements, how easily those lies lull moderates into passivity."
There is no implication here that Christianists must be dealt with "by any means necessary". There is a warning that they must be taken seriously, and we should not be lulled into sleepy acceptance, or be comforted by some notion that "it can't happen here". Which sounds entirely reasonable to me.

I smell a religious war, and it doesn't involve Islam.

Friday, June 10, 2005

"Mama"

I've been wrapped up today in Chris Hedges, hedges a 15-year veteran war correspondent who was working for the NYTimes when his book, "War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning", hit the shelves. In the May issue of Harper's he wrote a piece on the recent convention of the National Religious Broadcasters in Colorado Springs. This morning he was interviewed on Philly's WHYY by Marty Moss-Coane on her radio show "Radio Times", about his life, his ideas, and his new book, "Losing Moses On The Freeway: America's Broken Covenant With The 10 Commandments". Hearing him talk, I heard many of my own interests and concerns being discussed, and I wanted to put a post together that presented a digest of many of his interviews.

The son of a protestant minister who graduated from Harvard Divinity School, he speaks eloquently and wisely of the face of war, the lies told by governments to facilitate waging them, and from first-hand experience of the true horror and of it for those who actually particpate in it, and the addictive quality of its intensity. He also talks with the experience of the initiate about the co-optation of our national dialogue by the evangelical Right, and particularly about the Dominionists, militant Christianists whose ultimate goal is to gain political power and convert American government to a theocracy.

This is the guy, if you remember, who was literally chased off the stage at Rockford College in Illinois, tha alma mater of philosopher/social worker Jane Addams, when he gave an anti-war commencement speech shortly after the start of the Iraq Clusterfuck in 2003. A man who spent 15 years watching from the front lines of the worst wars on earth, speaking out against it and being attacked by clueless pups to whom the coward Bush's winks and nods were more credible and comforting than the hard-won experience of a veteran of war. This is from his pre-war 2003 interview on PBS' NOW with Bill Moyers:
MOYERS: I read your book last night. One of the most chilling and haunting scenes in here is when, I think you were in El Salvador, and a young man was near you, calling out "Mama".
HEDGES: Yeah.
MOYERS: "Mama".
HEDGES: It's not uncommon when soldiers die that they call out for their mother. And that always seems to me to cut through the absurd posturing of soldiering.
He also gave interviews to TomPaine.com, Poynter Online (especially insightful into the difference between embedded reporters and real war correspondents), and Religion & Ethics Newsweekly, all of which are excellect perspectives on his character and experiences. In addition, he's done a couple articles for The Nation, and wrote an unforgettable piece on the Palestinians for Harper's.

Please, check out his work.

UPDATE: More on Hedges that relates to his reporting and thoughts about Christianist and Dominionist influence in my next post here.

And James Wolcott agrees.

Chicken-Blogging Friday

I like a chicken once in awhile.
rooster23
Because when a chicken looks you in the eye, you know you've been looked in the eye.

As Flies To Wanton Boys, Are We To The Gods (Pop Music Lyrics Edition)

.
"Lord, if you won't take care of us,
Won't you please please let us be?"
--Randy Newman, God's Song


voodoo The Oracle of Nuthin' Much speaks:
"Over the past year, the pace of economic activity in the United States has alternately paused and quickened. The most recent data support the view that the soft readings on the economy observed in the early spring were not presaging a more-serious slowdown in the pace of activity. Consumer spending firmed again, and indicators of business investment became somewhat more upbeat. Nonetheless, policymakers confront many of the same imbalances and uncertainties that were apparent a year ago."
Translation:
That's life, that's what all the people say.
You're riding high in April,
Shot down in May
But I know I'm gonna change that tune,
When I'm back on top, back on top in June.

--Frank Sinatra, That's Life

Or, for those of us less poetically inclined, who knows what tomorrow may bring? Not the Geezer-in-Residence, though you'd never know it by the genuflections the press makes in his direction every time he shows his face in a quasi-official capacity and babbles some incomprehensibly contradictory bushwa. He goes on to assure us, as he has more recently, that while a housing bubble is unlooked for, a bit of froth on the old cappucino can probably be expected. Or maybe not. In fact, who really knows? Not him--his job is to sit back and inhale the incense from the offerings we light to him every time the market gets a little jittery. So, what other pearls of cluelessness does the Oracle grace us with?
"Excluding a large but apparently transitory surge in bonuses and the proceeds of stock option exercises late last year, overall hourly labor compensation has exhibited few signs of acceleration. Thus, the rise in underlying unit labor costs has been mainly the result of the slower growth of output per hour. At the same time, evidence of increased pricing power can be gleaned from the profit margins of nonfinancial businesses, which have continued to press higher even outside the energy sector. Whether that rise in unit costs will feed into the core price level or will be absorbed by a fall in profit margins remains an open question."
You'd never know that these were human beings whose lives he so blithely stuffs into such bloodless econ-numbnuts babble. In other words, excluding some fat cats' golden parachutes, wages didn't go up, and where the cost of employing the peons rose, it wasn't because they were paid more, but because the lazy slobs slacked off. After squeezing the working man and woman out of a raise, and hiking retail and wholesale costs to consumers, it's still a crapshoot as to whether it will all even out or whether business will come out on top. And he gets paid for this. But let's turn our attention to that perennial favorite, the housing market:
"It appears that a substantial part of the acceleration in turnover reflects the purchase of second homes--either for investment or vacation purposes. Transactions in second homes, of course, are not restrained by the same forces that restrict the purchases or sales of primary residences--an individual can sell without having to move. This suggests that speculative activity may have had a greater role in generating the recent price increases than it has customarily had in the past.
The apparent froth in housing markets may have spilled over into mortgage markets. The dramatic increase in the prevalence of interest-only loans, as well as the introduction of other relatively exotic forms of adjustable-rate mortgages, are developments of particular concern. To be sure, these financing vehicles have their appropriate uses. But to the extent that some households may be employing these instruments to purchase a home that would otherwise be unaffordable, their use is beginning to add to the pressures in the marketplace."
People are speculating on houses, and artificially raising purchase prices. They can't afford them. Who knows what may happen if they have to sell and can't get back what they invested? Long-term interest rates have stayed low though he keeps raising short-terms. Lawdy, me, whatever could be the matter? He later slips the possiblility of large-scale bankruptcies in there and then glides right past it as if someone broke wind at the luncheon and the only polite thing to do is to pretend you didn't hear it. He ends with this cryptic statement:
"...despite some of the risks that I have highlighted, the U.S. economy seems to be on a reasonably firm footing, and underlying inflation remains contained...Nonetheless, the Committee will respond to changes in economic prospects as needed to fulfill its obligation to maintain price stability."
Yes, I'm so fucking reassured...watching the price of ticky-tacky cheeseboxes spiral sky-high while dime-a-dozen 3rd tier lawyers and marketing managers cream themselves over their latest acquisitions of preening McMansions and Jurassic SUVs. Meanwhile, this dementia victim is still selling the mythology of the Bush economy.

Please, God, send a miracle. Or lacking that, at least someone who isn't nearly brain-dead.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Sadly, Yes

odingod
Who makes this shit up? Good Christ, people, get outside for a bit and have some exercise. What's next, a pantheon of gods?


via Andrew at The Poor Man, who has a better sense of humor about it than me.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Thespian Love

eRobin over at Fact-esque hit me with a movie blogtag that originated from Thomas at Newsrack, and as this is my first, I figure I damn well better get to it. 4thAnn_postertmbgWhat are the categories?

The envelope, please...

Total Number of Films Owned: Does this include the Beta tapes I can no longer play? I would guess, combining all media, that it's about 150.

Last Film Bought: I picked up 2 at the same time--Big Fish and The Big Lebowski. I'm mad about Tim Burton, the Coens, and Jeff Bridges (ubermensch).

Last Film Watched: Aliens (collector's edition).

Five Favorite Films That I Watch Frequently or That Mean A Lot To Me:
Because no human being of heart should have to answer this question under these limitations, I'm just throwing out some of the ones that I love. This is not to say there aren't others I don't love as much or more. But it's hard to circumscribe oneself so drastically, when it comes to such a sensual art form. So: John Sayles' "Matewan"; Ridley Scott's "Alien", "Angels In America", "King's Row", "School Daze", "O Brother Where Art Thou?", "The Magnificent Ambersons", "The Natural", "Bound", "Titus", anything by Sam Mendes, "Stop Making Sense", oh, enough.

I'll just post a list of movies I own, later. The problem is I can't choose amongst them...they're like my children and this is like Sophie's choice.

A polenta for sure. Thanks, Robin.

UPDATE: I'm tagging Jackie over at The Airing of Grievances, poputonian at Kidding on the Square, and grannyinsanity--On The Edge in Montana. Get busy, you.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Mayer On The Side

John_Mayer Click on the John Mayer link to the left in the sidebar, and sit back and listen to tune after tune from this generous artist's website.

Elements of jazz, blues, rock, and spacy improv, combined with a husky, sexy voice and smart lyrics, all in a package that avoids cliches while reminding me of sources as varied as Jimi Hendrix and Blue Nile.

And it all goes down as easy as a Mai Tai after a hit off a water pipe. What's not to like?

Saving The People From Themselves

Bush's war on the old, the sick and the weak continues apace, assisted by those activist liberal judges on the Supreme Court:
"Federal authorities may prosecute sick people whose doctors prescribe marijuana to ease pain, the Supreme Court ruled Monday, concluding that state laws don't protect users from a federal ban on the drug.
The decision is a stinging defeat for marijuana advocates who had successfully pushed 10 states to allow the drug's use to treat various illnesses.
Justice John Paul Stevens, writing the 6-3 decision, said that Congress could change the law to allow medical use of marijuana."
science Like that's going to happen. Right off, there was this from John "Correct Thought" Walters, Minister of Propaganda for National Drug Control Policy, who said:
"Our national medical system relies on proven scientific research, not popular opinion. To date, science and research have not determined that smoking marijuana is safe or effective."
As opposed to, say, ingesting Vioxx? Remember, this is the administration whose political manipulation of and quashing of scientific data for its own ends became so intolerable that the Union of Concerned Scientists had to register a formal protest. The people who put a faith healer in charge of women's health policy. Yes, I'm sure that concern for the scientific method is exactly what motivates these fine folks.

But let me not to the inconsistency of true hypocrisy admit impediments. There's also this gem from Stevens, writing for the majority:
"Our cases have taught us that there are some unscrupulous physicians who overprescribe when it is sufficiently profitable to do so."
Indeed. Based on this criterion, I suggest we immediately suspend all prescription-writing, until such time as exacting scientific methodology and research can guarantee that no such slovenly overprescribing will continue.

But what's odd about the dissenting votes is who is behind them: Rehnquist, who got his start intimidating black voters away from the polls, in bed with Clarence "Lumpy" Thomas, who never heard of discrimination. O'Connor brings up the rear guard, as befits a woman in the brave new world of progressive conservatism, making little token mewling sounds about states' rights that you and I know she has never really believed, at least not since she sided against them on behalf of her boy Bushie in election year 2000.

Round and round we spin, lovin' the spin we're in, under that old black magic that's turning our country into a vat of fools and curs. Or is it curds and whey?

It's all so confusing.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Attention Must Be Paid

uggabugga has an incredible table up at his site on the number of judicial nominees given the high hat by Republicans during Clinton's presidency, and Diane Feinstein's eloquently pissed off speech to the Senate pointing up the stunning hypocrisy of their behavior then and now. Just go see it.

Drunken Notions

drooling%20drunk I used to swear I would never blog personal shit, but I guess I've failed to live up to that commitment for some time. Nonetheless, I will spare the occasional passerby the trials and tribulations of my most recent interesting (in the Chinese sense) life chapters, and simply say that the political is indeed the personal, and one day I will have my revenge. Even if revenge takes the form of folding my hands primly against my defeated body and saying, finally, "Fuck it, life is too short to obsess over other people's petty meannesses---let the cosmos deal with it."

If you only just tuned in, this makes no sense to you. That is my gift to you. In the meantime...

It occurred to me that I used to blog about things that mattered to me, even if they might have been completely off the radar. Now, since I started writing for higher-profile blogs, I've felt tempted to write about the things that everyone else is talking about, because after all, if everyone else is blogging it, it must be what people want to read, and it will be what rises to the top of the Google pile. Which shames me into remembering why I started this in the first place: to blow off steam, and put my ideas in order and maybe try to think a little more clearly...none of which has anything to do with seducing other people into reading what I write. Yet there it is. Even the little interest that's been stirred by what I write has tainted my stuff with ambition. And it gets all mixed up with the legitimate desire to be heard and maybe make a little bit of difference, of wanting to be a conduit for information and knowledge, which inevitably leads to a confusion of intent and the rationalization of less-than noble methods. I really never wanted that. Maybe I took on too much in accepting offers to add my voice to bigger blogs, and the whole gestalt suffers as a result.

Rub_Spry So much emphasis is put on getting readership, and mentions in the Daou, and getting noticed by the big fish, that I wonder if we haven't become one giant echo chamber, blatting the same old shit around day after day, and mentally masturbating to the porn of the most recent David Brooks column or the latest outrage from the West Wing (God knows, there are so many). This, too, is not a new observation, but really...what's it all for? Isn't life too short to waste screaming into the void or preaching to the converted?

two-headed-calf You write something that seems to have great significance, and even may point out something you haven't yet read elsewhere, and who gives a shit? Then you post a picture of some totally irrelevant triviality, and the hits just keep on coming. You start to get the sense that even progressive thinkers are prone to the old bottom-line, lowest common denominator of pop culture attractions, and you may just as well post pictures of two-headed calves and gruesome stories of freak accidents. Maybe I'm just giving in to the stubborn old cynic in me that I've never been able to kill off, and this is just a test of my resolve.

How well can I hold to my own voice and keep from giving in to the inner pressure to do safe, familiar things, things that many others do and do better? I guess time will tell. In the meantime, I have to live with some erratic posting and some personal baggage creeping into the work I do post. And I want to re-commit to writing things that interest me, not the random troller, while acknowledging that I do have a few readers that have pulled me into being part of a community whose give and take I greatly enjoy. You know who you are. Thanks.

P.S.--I wasn'r really drunk first thing on a Sunday morning...it just took me awhile to finally post this. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

A House Is Not A Home

Lots of folks have been speculating on the direction of the housing market since the old soothsayer Greenspan made his cryptic comment on the state of the "froth".

Personally, I look to Britain, where the whole thing seems to have been a few years ahead of us, and where they now see a serious cooling of the market. They're not ready to call it a crash, but when they're giving away an entire first year of your mortgage paid, just to entice you to buy up one of their brand-new surplus houses, it's hard to think of it as anything else. Does this sound familiar?

"The boom has seen the value of homes triple in seven years, driven by falling interest rates and rising incomes and employment. That has pushed the ratio of house prices to average earnings to an all-time high."
Or this?

"But [the Nationwide's] survey confirms the view of the Bank of England's monetary policy committee that its five increases in interest rates to 4.75% between November 2003 and August 2004 has taken the heat out of the market. " (Emphasis mine.)
They're on the downward spiral over there, now, with the inflation of housing prices having fallen to their lowest level in 9 years, a slowdown in consumer spending, and the expected continuance of rising interest rates. And because the path of our own housing market has followed theirs so weirdly, I can't help think we're seeing the future over there.

We rent. We're waiting for it.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

A Cautionary Note

I don't know. I'm in some kind of a rant mode, and I can't seem to get out. Please excuse my weirdness this week, but I think I have to just cycle through.

050126_AIS_Chicken
In the meantime,
there's
chicken shit bingo.

Note: I had to change the chicken bingo link, since the previous one seems to have stopped working. But it's all the same good, clean fun.