Thursday, January 31, 2008

1940: minimum wage is about 40 cents an hour. 5 cents buys you a beer, veal is 13 cents a pound. In 1940, you could work one hour, and have meat and bread for two days plus six beers...

What does one hour of minimum wage buy you now? Two beers in a restaurant, if you are very lucky. Hopefully they will offer you some free peanuts....

A friend told me that when he was young in the early 1970's, he could live by himself, own a car, and work part time, on close to the minimum wage....

What cost you $100 to buy in 1964 costs you $650 in 2006.
When Eisenhower was running for president, it became known that he had never been baptized. He told a reporter that after becoming the prez, he would get around to it, which he did. No-one ever brought it up again, it did not matter.

Can you imagine this scenario happening today?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Upper middle -class and Wealthy people have no idea what poor people go through, although the well- to -do think they have all the answers; They are actually quite ignorant about what it means to be poverty-stricken.

When reporters ask Congressmen (lawyers, almost all of them) what they think a middle-class person earns, they always guess about three times too high- about $75,000/year...

Our leaders are 'out to lunch.'


The idea that everything is 'art' has consequences:
1. It greatly diminshes the achievements of 'real' artists like Picasso and De Kooning and Michaelangelo, et al.
2. It 'enables' talentless poseurs

I recently went to a university lecture given by a goofy pretend artist- she merely puts wallpaper on objects out in the street, or she splashes white paint on drab buildings.... she had the post office put postal straps upon a blank canvas and then it became a near 'masterpiece...' then she mourned its loss......She also cut a piece of material into a circle and painted it red, and then placed it in the mathematical center of the city, and then took a photo of it.... she is hailed by the art world as a great avante-garde 'artiste.'
What a load of crap.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Jews never derived a concept of 'original sin' from the book of Genesis....Original sin was a Christian invention, part of their theodicy to explain the presence of evil in the world. God knows the future, so he knows in advance who will sin or not...from this idea Augustine framed the concept of 'Grace'- which was later fully developed by Calvin in the 1500's into his theory of 'Predestination'-you either had God's favor, or you didn't. Only God knew- so the virtue of 'prudence' took root- God may know who had Grace, but Man could never be sure-so lets be 'prudent' and not declare that we absolutely know the truth.
The consequence: wherever Augustine-Calvinism took hold, certainty was often kept in check by 'prudence,' and may have prevented pogroms, holocausts, and other abuses. It was in Catholic-rationalist France that the guillotine did its mournful work without was in Soviet Russia where the party was 'sure,' therefore they had the purges. In Italy in the last century, there were over 40 governments....But in the British Commonwealth, what do we see? How many governments has Canada had? New Zealand? or the USA? The tolerant Dutch low countries, Scotland, the Swiss....they were largely devoid of the urge to politically disagree and then chop off your head. They were 'prudent.'

Can Protestantism account for these developments? Did Augustinian piety eventually foster secular tolerance and inquiry? (I know, we got rational inquiry from the Athenians and Ionians, etc....this post might be a stretch).

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Contrary to what most people believe, the 1936 Berlin Olympics were a smashing success for Nazi Germany- they won most of the gold, silver, and bronze medals. (The US came in second, with Hungary a distant third).

Medal count: 33 gold for Germany, 24 gold for the USA, 10 gold for Hungary.
America is in such rapid decline that nearly 10% of the population are making plans to leave the country.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Lawgiver legacy

Lycurgus, the legendary founder of the Spartan state (about 650BC)...He abolished debts, distributed land evenly, and set up training camps for war (the agon, from which we get the word 'agony'). At age seven, males left home to learn martial arts.

Infants considered to be defective-by the city elders, not the parents -were hurled off a cliff to die (in other Greek communities, the child was simply abandoned in the wild).

Spartan women were the most free of all the ancient cultures-they owned estates, could divorce, and inherit and conduct business and move freely about. (Athenian women lived secluded lives indoors).
Sparta had two kings simultaneously...Youth could steal food, but if caught, they were severely punished-for being caught. A form of adultery was permitted, when it might allow more births...
Men lived in barrack style mess halls, drinking boiled pigs blood with life was diminished (male and female homosexuality was compulsory) the individual subsumed into the collective communist martial ideal.
Slaves, or helots, vastly outnumbered the elite hoplite warriors. Sparta had no walls- 'spears' were used in their place...Women enforced the military code, by taunting the less than brave in the marketplace. Bachelors were ridiculed or shamed into finding a wife, around age 28. Sparta generally condemned writing and literature, as well as luxurious living.

Spartan valor has been forever immortalized by the sacrifice they made to save Greece from the invading Persians at the battle of Thermopylae 480BC (The Spartans were outnumbered 40 to 1)

The economic focus on slavery and war gradually reduced the population, until there were fewer than 500 Spartan soldiers left..(slave revolt issues)...

Strict obedience to the ideal of Lycurgus made 'change' an enemy, and helped cause the Theban victory(371BC) and later Roman takeover.
One must learn how to suffer in silence.

Friday, January 25, 2008

FICA scores are about 90% inaccurate.
The discovery of King Tut's tomb by Howard Carter in Egypt in 1922 was the first real 'media event.'
Fair bankruptcy laws made America great- they allowed people to take chances.
The 'surge' is NOT working. What is working is the policy of constructive engagement with Sunni tribal elders- this is reducing the level of violence somewhat.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Celebrities are introduced to, or meet, more people in one year than the average person meets in their whole life.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Some of the funniest movies I have ever seen:

Young Frankenstein
Animal House
Silver Streak
Stir crazy
High Anxiety
Take the money and run
The Blues Brothers

Anything Charlie Chaplin related.
One in seven humans alive today are squatters.

A majority of people on the planet have never held a book in their hand.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Right claims that almost everything is Left, far-Left, or radical. Or at least thats the way their rhetoric makes it seem. In reality, the corporate/government collusion has increased in power, immensely aided and abetted by 'The Right'. Money not only talks , it also screams obscenities.

Who in the land is calling for universal disarmament? The abolition of all debts and rents? A 30 hour workweek? The immediate phase-out of fossils fuels? The pulling of the charters of the major corporations? So you see, there is virtually no 'Left' left.

The bungled and the botched

Most people on the so-called Right assume that your life is 100% your own responsibility-government or other organizations do not play any role in shaping your destiny-you are on your own. The boot strap, or the self-made man theory, does not seem valid. If one has a serious disease, and the clinic you need shuts down, The Right tells you that it doesn't matter, your fate is completely up to your next decision. Can you then decide to magically heal yourself, since the clinic is no more, the necessary drugs or surgery that you needed are gone?

How many people are actually willing to hire the homeless person they sometime see on the street? Not very many regular folks would take the chance- the members of the underclass are nasty. They are crazed and violent, and not too bright....This is how most people feel about them, whether it is true or not. So where do the homeless keep their 'bootstraps'?

Most people still rationalize the situation- the disadvantaged person must have done something to trigger their downfall. This could be true in many cases- but do things have to be made worse by removing the opportunities for recovery and instead handing out imaginary bootstraps? Are the homeless really deprived early on, have they received a callous calling beyond their control? Why do the numbers seem cyclic? Is the gene pool cyclic? Or is it the attitude and policy that is cyclic?
Many industrial societies have never experienced homelessness-Scandinavia, and the Soviet bloc. When I was a student in Russia, I hung out with two Swedes- we saw beggars in Moscow (this was during the 1990's). My friends reported that they had never seen a beggar before, and they came Stockholm, a large city.

If diseases are kept off the street, don't we all benefit?

Historically,most members of most ethnic groups have known deep down in their bones that they are intimately connected to the community, and alone they would never survive. 'Rugged individualism' is an almost uniquely (peculiar) American attitude.

From about 1864-1943, about one American male in nine was homeless for a large part of his life. Most cities had sections where day labor and temporary night lodgings were available, and the 'homeless' had their own culture with bars, brothels, etc.

Sunday, January 13, 2008


Barack Obama speaks well, but rarely ever says anything.

The evidence indicates that he was once a Muslim. If true, then in the eyes of (most of) the Islamic world, he is now an apostate Muslim, and now he must be executed. This belief has far-reaching foreign policy implications. (To convert to Islam, all that is necessary for you to do is to repeat "There is no God but God, and Mohammad is his prophet" with sincerity, in front of a witness).

Hillary 'the iron bitch' Clinton has been selected to be our next prez, selected by our corporate overlords in their secretive Bilderberger meeting last year in Canada. They only pick winners. (The big money is backing Hillary-even Rupert 'the most dangerous man in America' Murdock, owner of Fox news and other media empires). The Clinton's and Bush's are the establishment.

Ralph Nader is showing signs that he will not run this year- he has even mentioned that he might vote for Ron Paul in the fall (Nader endorsed Edwards on the eve of the Iowa caucus, Edwards being the least beholden to corporate America of the top three front-runners on the Democratic side). Nader (whom I voted for in 2000 and 2004) says Ron Paul might be the 'enema' that America needs, to wrench the country back toward republican and constitutional rule. Nader acknowledges that Ron Paul is very different than himself on several issues (specifically on the issue of benevolent federalism- the E.P.A. and the Endangered Species Act are examples. The erstwhile Libertarian wants to end most federalism, and I think he is quite mistaken in his belief). Nonetheless, since Ron Paul was against the war, the Patriot Act, the Homeland security act, the Commissions law, etc.....I am tempted to drop Nader, and join the Ron Paul 'revolution.'
According to official documents and private diaries, people were much more sexually promiscuous during the (European) Middle ages than they are now.
The Vatican City is an independent country, with just a few dozen acres or so. It has a post office, and two wet bars( maybe only one by now). It is the only country in the world where the ATM's use the Latin language.

There are actually two (not one) big-deal Vatican banks- one is officially owned and headed by the Pope, making him technically the worlds richest individual.

The Vatican has been the subject of an on-going lawsuit over billions of dollars of wealth that was transferred to it in the closing days of WW2 ( A fleeing caravan from the Nazi puppet government of Croatia was intercepted and the booty taken to the Vatican.This wealth really belongs to elements of the former Yugoslavia and was stolen and is now hoarded by the Catholic church).

Friday, January 04, 2008

Congress is made up of 535 members:

Last year, 84 were arrested for DUI.
About 71 have such bad credit reports, that they cannot own any credit cards/lines of credit.
21 were subject to lawsuits.
3 have done time for assault.
14 have been arrested on drug related charges
29 have been accused of spousal abuse
7 have been arrested for fraud
19 have been accused of writing bad checks
117 have bankrupted at least two businesses
8 have been arrested for shoplifting

Bush and Cheney are the nations first executives to enter office having prior criminal records- at least five DUI's between them, and one possible cocaine bust in Texas in the 1970's that was scrubbed from official records hours after it happened, and for which one journalist may have been murdered for revealing.


In December 2007, the Lakota (Sioux) Indian nation in the US seceded ('withdrew' is their term) from the union. 77 tribal chiefs renounced their US citizenship, along with thousands of their followers. They claim territory amounting to about half of South Dakota, parts of North Dakota, Wyoming, and Montana-the "Republic of Lakota." Native delegations are meeting with reps from Boliva, Finland, East Timor, and several other countries, in an attempt to gain recognition for the new country, and signs are positive. A recent UN treaty is being used as grounds for the move, and leaders of the secession movement are linked to the revolt on Pine Ridge in the 1970's. While the US State Department has received official documents from the Chiefs concerning their intent to withdraw, the US government has so far refrained from issuing any formal statement that could be viewed as endorsing the legitimacy of the fledgling nation.

Anyone is welcome to become a citizen of the Republic of Lakota, as long as you renounce your US citizenship. Lakota people will pay no income tax.