A compendium of the past twenty years

September 11, 2021

On the twentieth anniversary of the day terrorists from the al-Qaeda network used four civilian airplanes as weapons against the United States, the weather was eerily similar to the bright, clear blue sky of what has come to be known as 9/11. George W. Bush, who was president on that horrific day, spoke in Pennsylvania at a memorial for the passengers of United Airlines Flight 93 who, on September 11, 2001, stormed the cockpit and brought their airplane down in a field, killing everyone on board but denying the terrorists a fourth American trophy.

Former President Bush said: “Twenty years ago, terrorists chose a random group of Americans, on a routine flight, to be collateral damage in a spectacular act of terror. The 33 passengers and 7 crew of Flight 93 could have been any group of citizens selected by fate. In a sense, they stood in for us all.” And, Bush continued, “The terrorists soon discovered that a random group of Americans is an exceptional group of people. Facing an impossible circumstance, they comforted their loved ones by phone, braced each other for action, and defeated the designs of evil.”

Recalling his experience that day, Bush talked of “the America I know.”

“On America’s day of trial and grief, I saw millions of people instinctively grab for a neighbor’s hand and rally to the cause of one another…. At a time when religious bigotry might have flowed freely, I saw Americans reject prejudice and embrace people of Muslim faith…. At a time when nativism could have stirred hatred and violence against people perceived as outsiders, I saw Americans reaffirm their welcome to immigrants and refugees…. At a time when some viewed the rising generation as individualistic and decadent, I saw young people embrace an ethic of service and rise to selfless action.”

Today’s commemorations of that tragic day almost a generation ago seemed to celebrate exactly what Bush did: the selfless heroism and care for others shown by those like Welles Crowther, the man in the red bandana, who helped others out of danger before succumbing himself; the airplane passengers who called their loved ones to say goodbye; neighbors; firefighters; law enforcement officers; the men and women who volunteered for military service after the attack.

That day, and our memories of it, show American democracy at its best: ordinary Americans putting in the work, even at its dirtiest and most dangerous, to take care of each other.

It is this America we commemorate today.

But even in 2001, that America was under siege by those who distrusted the same democracy today’s events commemorated. Those people, concentrated in the Republican Party, worried that permitting all Americans to have a say in their government would lead to “socialism”: minorities and women would demand government programs paid for with tax dollars collected from hardworking people—usually, white men. They wanted to slash taxes and government regulations, giving individuals the “freedom” to do as they wished.

In 1986, they had begun to talk about purifying the vote; when the Democrats in 1993 passed the so-called Motor Voter law permitting people to register to vote at certain government offices, they claimed that Democrats were buying votes. The next year, Republicans began to claim that Democrats won elections through fraud, and in 1998, the Florida legislature passed a voter ID law that led to a purge of as many as 100,000 voters from the system before the election of 2000, resulting in what the United States Commission on Civil Rights called “an extraordinarily high and inexcusable level of disenfranchisement,” particularly of African American voters.

It was that election that put George W. Bush in the White House, despite his losing the popular vote to Democrat Al Gore by more than a half a million votes.

Bush had run on the promise he would be “a uniter, not a divider,” but as soon as he took office, he advanced the worldview of those who distrusted democracy. He slashed government programs and in June pushed a $1.3 trillion cut through Congress. These measures increased the deficit without spurring the economy, and voters were beginning to sour on a presidency that had been precarious since its controversial beginnings.

On the morning of September 11, 2001, hours before the planes hit the Twin Towers, a New York Times editorial announced: “There is a whiff of panic in the air.”

And then the planes hit.

“In our grief and anger we have found our mission and our moment,” Bush said. America had seemed to drift since the Cold War had ended twelve years before, but now the country was in a new death struggle, against an even more implacable foe. To defeat the nation’s enemies, America must defend free enterprise and Christianity at all costs.

In the wake of the attacks, Bush’s popularity soared to 90 percent. He and his advisers saw that popularity as a mandate to change America, and the world, according to their own ideology. “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists,” he announced.

Infrastructure rules

Ground Rules

Posted: 06 Sep 2021 04:23 AM PDT

We cannot build our way out of the environmental crisis.

By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 1st September 2021

Dig for victory: this, repurposed from the Second World War, could be the slogan of our times. All over the world, governments are using the pandemic and the environmental crisis to justify a new splurge of infrastructure spending. In the US, Joe Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework “will make our economy more sustainable, resilient, and just.” In the UK, Boris Johnson’s Build Back Better programme will “unite and level up the country”, under the banner of “green growth”. China’s Belt and Road project will bring the world together in hyper-connected harmony and prosperity.

Sure, we need some new infrastructure. If people are to drive less, we need new public transport links and safe cycling routes. We need better water treatment plants and recycling centres, new wind and solar plants, and the powerlines required to connect them to the grid. But we can no more build our way out of the environmental crisis than we can consume our way out of it. Why? Because new building is subject to the eight Golden Rules of Infrastructure Procurement.

Rule 1 is that the primary purpose of new infrastructure is to enrich the people who commission or build it. Even when a public authority plans a new scheme for sensible reasons, first it must pass through a filter: will this make money for existing businesses? This is how, for example, plans to build a new hydrogen infrastructure in the UK appear to have been hijacked. In August, the head of the UK Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association, Chris Jackson, resigned in protest at the government’s plans to promote hydrogen made from fossil methane, rather than producing it only from renewable electricity. He explained that the government’s strategy locks the nation into fossil fuel use. It seems to have the gas industry’s fingerprints all over it.

For the same reason, many of the beneficial projects in Biden’s infrastructure framework and American Jobs Plan have been cut down or stripped out by Congress, leaving behind a catalogue of porkbarrel pointlessness.

Much of the time, schemes are created and driven not by a well-intentioned public authority, but by the demands of industry. Their main purpose – making money – is fulfilled before anyone uses them. Only some projects have the secondary purpose of providing a public service.

Worldwide, construction is the most corrupt of all industries, often dominated by local mafias and driven by massive kickbacks for politicians. If infrastructure is to create any public benefit, it needs to be tightly and transparently regulated. Boris Johnson’s plans to deregulate the planning system and to build a series of free ports, where businesses will be able to escape many labour, customs and environmental rules, will ensure that the link between new building and public need becomes even more tenuous.

Rule 2 is that there’s an inherent bias towards selecting projects with the worst possible value for money. As the economic geographer Bent Flyvbjerg points out, “the projects that are made to look best on paper are the projects that amass the highest cost overruns and benefit shortfalls in reality.” Decisions are routinely based on misinformation and “delusional optimism”. HS2, whose nominal costs have risen from £37.5bn in 2009 to somewhere between £72bn and £110bn today, while its alleged financial benefits have fallen, is not the exception; it’s the global rule. By contrast, for £3bn a year, all bus tickets in the UK could be issued without charge, a policy that would take more cars off the road and reduce emissions much faster than this gigantic white elephant. Continue reading Infrastructure rules

COVID 19 update asof July 21st

The Coronavirus Pandemic

(Erin Schaff / The New York Times / Redux)

The Delta variant is thriving on America’s immunity gap. The majority of those currently hospitalized with COVID-19—we’re talking more than 97 percent—are unvaccinated. Health-care workers recount horror stories of patients begging for the vaccine all too late.

And yet still only about half the country have completed their doses, despite the shots’ widespread availability. The months-long slowdown is yielding tragic consequences. Where do we go from here?

Katherine J. Wu answers:

This is a great question that’s become more relevant as of late, as case rates climb, and we don’t have concrete answers yet. That said, we can draw on some basic principles of immunology: Your immune cells get better at recognizing viruses the more often they see them (or things that resemble them). After each subsequent exposure, they’ll respond faster and with more precision and oomph. There are—surprise!—caveats to this: Variants that look distinctly different from their predecessors might discombobulate immune-cell memory, for example. But both being infected with actual viruses and being vaccinated with mimics of those viruses can boost your immunity, the latter option being the safer one. For anyone who has experienced the combo, there’s a decent chance that you have extra-ornery immune cells inside you. But because we don’t have much evidence either way, I wouldn’t act as though that’s true.

Read Katie’s reporting on why there’s no good way of measuring whether your vaccine worked—yet.

Climate change is adversely our National Parks

EarthTalk®

From the Editors of E – The Environmental Magazine

 

Dear EarthTalk: I’ve heard that U.S. national parks are disproportionately affected by climate change. Is this true, and if so, why?                                          ­— Joseph Pearl, Longmont, CO

 

The effects of climate change can be felt all over the globe in various ways, but America’s national parks seem to be suffering more than U.S. overall land mass. A 2020 study by researchers from UC Berkeley and the University of Wisconsin found that “human-caused climate change has exposed the U.S. national park area to more severe increases in heat and aridity than the country as a whole and caused widespread impacts on ecosystems and resources.” Since 1895, annual average temperature of the area of the 419 national parks has increased at a rate of 1.8ºF per century, double that of the U.S. as a whole. Precipitation declined significantly on 12 percent of national park area, compared with just three percent nationally.

 

What’s driving this exaggerated response? One theory holds that national parks are feeling the heat more because they tend to be located in extreme environments to begin with. Their rarer ecosystems are in some cases fragile and less resilient to change than the average backyard or suburban park.

 

Some of the specific ways national parks are affected disproportionately include twice as much wildfire decimation and tree mortality from infestations and disease as non-parks lands, the melting of glaciers in northern parks in the continental U.S. as well as Alaska, a loss of bird species and biodiversity in southerly parks, and sea level rise at coastal sites everywhere.

 

According to Patrick Gonzalez, the study’s lead author and a UC Berkeley climate scientist, climate change could increase temperatures in some U.S. national parks by as much as 16ºF by 2100. “This could melt all glaciers from Glacier National Park, raise sea level enough to inundate half of Everglades National Park, dissolve coral reefs in Virgin Islands National Park through ocean acidification, and damage many other natural and cultural resources.”

 

Some individual parks are taking matters into their own hands and channeling some of their maintenance budgets to bolster ecosystem resilience to the climate-induced changes already underway. Biologists in Joshua Tree National Park, for example, are cordoning off sections of the park to reduce the trampling of sensitive plants in particularly biodiverse areas. And Florida’s Biscayne National Park is raising heat-resistant local corals they hope can play a role in stemming the tide of underwater biodiversity loss.

 

While these efforts are laudable and are no doubt helping address a dire situation, the only way to really turn things around across the board is to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions. Gonzalez underscores the importance of energy conservation and efficiency improvements, renewable energy, public transit and other actions to reduce global warming. Like at no other time in history, the future is in our hands today. Whether or not our grandkids will get to see glaciers at Glacier National Park may well depend on actions we undertake today.

 

CONTACTS: “Human-caused climate change in United States national parks and solutions for the future,” https://escholarship.org/uc/item/9443s1kq; Climate Change in National Parks, https://www.nps.gov/chis/planyourvisit/upload/Brochure-ClimateChangeInNationalParks.pdf; Report: Greater Yellowstone area expected to become warmer, drier with changing climate,

https://www.montana.edu/news/21258/report-greater-yellowstone-area-expected-to-become-warmer-drier-with-changing-climate.

 

EarthTalk® is produced by Roddy Scheer & Doug Moss for the 501(c)3 nonprofit EarthTalk. See more at https://emagazine.com. To donate, visit https//earthtalk.org. Send questions to: question@earthtalk.org.

Climate change…where we are now

Climate warming

Global Warming Current Status: Full Review

When looking at information involving global warming, many might find the data misleading or inaccurate. The internet is a vessel for the sharing of incorrect information, including global warming. This revelation can make people entirely disregard information that is accurate and truthful.

With that being said, our extensive amount of research on this topic has led us to formulate this article containing valuable notes that are worthwhile reading. In this article, you’re guaranteed to find all the essential information regarding our current status of global warming.

Additionally, sharing this article is exceptionally worthwhile and highly encouraged. This is because sharing such an article with your acquaintances, friends, and family is going to offer them valuable information to warn them about the dangers of increasing greenhouse gases and the effects that are caused by global warming. Thus, it also helps others make a conscious effect of preventing global warming from getting even worse.

How Critical is Global Warming Now?

At this point, global warming is critical. There is no doubt about that. How do we know this? There’s more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere today than at any point in time in the last 800,000 years. This might not sound too alarming, but this signifies some disturbing facts.

The biggest misconception is that global warming and climate change are terms that can be used interchangeably. However, this isn’t the case. The majority of scientists classify global warming as the increase in the Earth’s surface temperature. This temperature rise is what causes climate change.

From the increase in the Earth’s surface temperature, there are several impacts this has on the entire planet. These include the rise in water temperature, rise in sea levels, and the change in animal population and habitats. However, there are many other significant impacts global warming has on our planet, which we’re going to discuss later in this article.

With that being said, it’s very telling that there is more carbon dioxide in the world than in any other given point in the last 800,000 years. The effects of climate change have also played a role in causing extreme weather conditions. Mass deforestation has taken place, which has left our planet with fewer trees and less oxygen production. This only reiterates that global warming is negatively changing the way our world is functioning.

Thus, it’s clear that global warming is critical, as climate change is leaving our planet with less oxygen and more carbon dioxide. This, as you can tell, isn’t something we want occurring on Earth as we need oxygen to live, not carbon dioxide. Continue reading Climate change…where we are now

The Two-State Solution is Dead…but that’s not necessarily a “bad thing”

Two Cheers for Democracy, Three for One-State

The two-state solution is dead. There are a few who haven’t gotten the memo, including Tony Blinken, Joe Biden and most of the Democratic Party.  Also including liberal Zionists, meaning most of the Israel Lobby i.e. all the leading UK and American Jewish organizations

There’s a reason one-state is especially attractive that’s rarely if ever, noted. Currently, Israel is not a democracy. It is at best an ethnocracy and at worst a theocracy, in which the religious parties and the settlers essentially control all major levers of power.

Defiling Al Aqsa: in a religio-supremacist state, privileged religions suppress others through violence

 

In this, it shares much in common with other religio-supremacist states like Iran and Saudi Arabia.  Despite the latter being a monarchy and the former a republic,  all three privilege a single religion over all others; and reject many,  if not all,  the bedrock principles on which true democracies are founded: religious tolerance,  full equal rights for all citizens,  representative democracy with power deriving from the will of the people.

It also shares much in common with other religious exclusivist movements like the Christian evangelicals and the white Christo-supremacist parties in power in Poland and Hungary.

Despite (or because of) my strong Diaspora Jewish identity, I abhor defining Israel as a Jewish state. I do so for one reason only: the only form of Jewish state on offer is a Judeo-supremacist apartheid state. It privileges Jewish Israelis and offers Palestinian citizens inferior rights. This is a racist, anti-democratic, even anti-Semitic (since Palestinians are, like Israeli Jews, Semites) state.

We must continually drive home to liberal Zionists that their dream of a “Jewish democratic state”  is a chimera.  It will never happen. Jews and Palestinians can have a joint homeland for two peoples.  But any state that is dedicated to one people, as Israel currently is (or another) is doomed to be anti-democratic.
Continue reading The Two-State Solution is Dead…but that’s not necessarily a “bad thing”

A return to the true principles of democracy

July 11, 2021

On Friday, as President Joe Biden signed “An Executive Order Promoting Competition in the American Economy,” he echoed the language of his predecessors. “[C]ompetition keeps the economy moving and keeps it growing,” he said. “Fair competition is why capitalism has been the world’s greatest force for prosperity and growth…. But what we’ve seen over the past few decades is less competition and more concentration that holds our economy back.”

Biden listed how prescription drugs, hearing aids, internet service, and agricultural supplies are all overpriced in the U.S. because of a lack of competition (RFD TV, the nation’s rural channel, has a long-running ad complaining of the cost of hearing aids). He also noted that noncompete clauses make it hard for workers to change jobs, another issue straight out of the late nineteenth century, when southern states tried to keep prices low by prohibiting employers from hiring Black workers away from their current jobs.

“I’m a proud capitalist,” Biden said. “I know America can’t succeed unless American business succeeds…. But let me be very clear: Capitalism without competition isn’t capitalism; it’s exploitation. Without healthy competition, big players can change and charge whatever they want and treat you however they want…. “[W]e know we’ve got a problem—a major problem.  But we also have an incredible opportunity. We can bring back more competition to more of the country, helping entrepreneurs and small businesses get in the game, helping workers get a better deal, helping families save money every month. The good news is: We’ve done it before.”

Biden reached into our history to reclaim our long tradition of opposing economic consolidation. Calling out both Roosevelt presidents—Republican Theodore Roosevelt, who oversaw part of the Progressive Era, and Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who oversaw the New Deal—Biden celebrated their attempt to rein in the power of big business, first by focusing on the abuses of those businesses, and then by championing competition.

Murphy’s Laws en extremis

Murphy understood that optimism is simply a failure to correctly identify the issues

*********************

Murphy’s General  Laws

  • Nothing is as easy as it looks.
  • Everything takes longer than you think.
  • Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.
  • If there is a possibility of several things going wrong, the one that will cause the most damage will be the one to go wrong. Corollary: If there is a worse time for something to go wrong, it will happen then.
  • If anything simply cannot go wrong, it will anyway.
  • If you perceive that there are four possible ways in which a procedure can go wrong, and circumvent these, then a fifth way, unprepared for, will promptly develop.
  • Left to themselves, things tend to go from bad to worse.
  • If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something.
  • Nature always sides with the hidden flaw.
  • Mother nature is a bitch.
  • It is impossible to make anything foolproof because fools are so ingenious.
  • Whenever you set out to do something, something else must be done first.
  • The Light at the end of the tunnel is only the light of an oncoming train.

Murphy’s Military Laws

  • Never share a foxhole with anyone braver than you are.
  • No battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy.
  • Friendly fire ain’t.
  • The most dangerous thing in the combat zone is an officer with a map.
  • The problem with taking the easy way out is that the enemy has already mined it .
  • The buddy system is essential to your survival; it gives the enemy somebody else to shoot at.
  • The further you are in advance of your own positions, the more likely your artillery will shoot short.
  • Incoming fire has the right of way.
  • If your advance is going well, you are walking into an ambush.
  • The quartermaster has only two sizes, too large and too small.
  • If you really need an officer in a hurry, take a nap.
  • The only time suppressive fire works is when it is used on abandoned positions.
  • The only thing more accurate than incoming enemy fire is incoming friendly fire.
  • There is nothing more satisfying than having someone take a shot at you, and miss.
  • Don’t be conspicuous. In the combat zone, it draws fire. Out of the combat zone, it draws sergeants.
  • If your sergeant can see you, so can the enemy.

Murphy’s Technology Laws

  • You can never tell which way the train went by looking at the track.
  • Logic is a systematic method of coming to the wrong conclusion with confidence.
  • Whenever a system becomes completely defined, some damn fool discovers something which either abolishes the system or expands it beyond recognition.
  • Technology is dominated by those who manage what they do not understand.
  • If builders built buildings the way programmers wrote programs, then the first woodpecker that came along would destroy civilization.
  • The opulence of the front office decor varies inversely with the fundamental solvency of the firm.
  • The attention span of a computer is only as long as it electrical cord.
  • An expert is one who knows more and more about less and less until he knows absolutely everything about nothing.
  • Tell a man there are 300 billion stars in the universe and he’ll believe you. Tell him a bench has wet paint on it and he’ll have to touch to be sure.
  • All great discoveries are made by mistake.
  • Always draw your curves, then plot your reading.
  • Nothing ever gets built on schedule or within budget.
  • All’s well that ends.
  • A meeting is an event at which the minutes are kept and the hours are lost.
  • The first myth of management is that it exists.
  • A failure will not appear till a unit has passed final inspection.
  • New systems generate new problems.
  • To err is human, but to really foul things up requires a computer.
  • We don’t know one-millionth of one percent about anything.
  • Any given program, when running, is obsolete.
  • Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
  • A computer makes as many mistakes in two seconds as 20 men working 20 years make.
  • Nothing motivates a man more than to see his boss putting in an honest day’s work.
  • Some people manage by the book, even though they don’t know who wrote the book or even what book.
  • The primary function of the design engineer is to make things difficult for the fabricator and impossible for the serviceman.
  • To spot the expert, pick the one who predicts the job will take the longest and cost the most.
  • After all is said and done, a hell of a lot more is said than done.
  • Any circuit design must contain at least one part which is obsolete, two parts which are unobtainable and three parts which are still under development.
  • A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that works.
  • If mathematically you end up with the incorrect answer, try multiplying by the page number.
  • Computers are unreliable, but humans are even more unreliable. Any system which depends on human reliability is unreliable.
  • Give all orders verbally. Never write anything down that might go into a “Pearl Harbor File.”
  • Under the most rigorously controlled conditions of pressure, temperature, volume, humidity, and other variables the organism will do as it damn well pleases.
  • If you can’t understand it, it is intuitively obvious.
  • The more cordial the buyer’s secretary, the greater the odds that the competition already has the order.
  • In designing any type of construction, no overall dimension can be totalled correctly after 4:30 p.m. on Friday. The correct total will become self-evident at 8:15 a.m. on Monday.
  • Fill what’s empty. Empty what’s full. And scratch where it itches.
  • All things are possible except skiing through a revolving door.
  • The only perfect science is hind-sight.
  • Work smarder and not harder and be careful of yor speling.
  • If it’s not in the computer, it doesn’t exist.
  • If an experiment works, something has gone wrong.
  • When all else fails, read the instructions.
  • If there is a possibility of several things going wrong the one that will cause the most damage will be the one to go wrong.
  • Everything that goes up must come down.
  • Any instrument when dropped will roll into the least accessible corner.
  • Any simple theory will be worded in the most complicated way.
  • Build a system that even a fool can use and only a fool will want to use it.
  • If it jams, force it. If it breaks, it probably needed to be replaced anyway.
  • The degree of technical competence is inversely proportional to the level of management.

Murphy’s Laws of Love

  • All the good ones are taken.
  • If the person isn’t taken, there’s a reason. (corr. to 1)
  • The nicer someone is, the farther away (s)he is from you.
  • Brains * Beauty * Availability = Constant.
  • The amount of love someone feels for you is inversely proportional to how much you love them.
  • Money can’t buy love, but it sure gets you a great bargaining position.
  • The best things in the world are free — and worth every penny of it.
  • Every kind of action has a not-so-kind reaction.
  • Nice guys(girls) finish last.
  • If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Availability is a function of time. The minute you get interested is the minute they find someone else.

Murphy’s Laws of sex

  • The more beautiful the woman is who loves you, the easier it is to leave her with no hard feelings.
  • Nothing improves with age.
  • No matter how many times you’ve had it, if it’s offered take it, because it’ll never be quite the same again.
  • Sex has no calories.
  • Sex takes up the least amount of time and causes the most amount of trouble.
  • There is no remedy for sex but more sex.
  • Sex appeal is 50% what you’ve got and 50% what people think you’ve got.
  • No sex with anyone in the same office.
  • Sex is like snow; you never know how many inches you are going to get or how long it is going to last.
  • A man in the house is worth two in the street.
  • If you get them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow.
  • Virginity can be cured.
  • When a man’s wife learns to understand him, she usually stops listening to him.
  • Never sleep with anyone crazier than yourself.
  • The qualities that most attract a woman to a man are usually the same ones she can’t stand years later.
  • Sex is dirty only if it’s done right.
  • It is always the wrong time of the month.
  • The best way to hold a man is in your arms.
  • When the lights are out, all women are beautiful.
  • Sex is hereditary. If your parents never had it, chances are you won’t either.
  • Sow your wild oats on Saturday night — Then on Sunday pray for crop failure.
  • The younger the better.
  • The game of love is never called off on account of darkness.
  • It was not the apple on the tree but the pair on the ground that caused the trouble in the garden.
  • Sex discriminates against the shy and the ugly.
  • Before you find your handsome prince, you’ve got to kiss a lot of frogs.
  • There may be some things better than sex, and some things worse than sex. But there is nothing exactly like it.
  • Love your neighbor, but don’t get caught.
  • Love is a hole in the heart.
  • If the effort that went in research on the female bosom had gone into our space program, we would now be running hot-dog stands on the moon.
  • Love is a matter of chemistry, sex is a matter of physics.
  • Do it only with the best.
  • Sex is a three-letter word which needs some old-fashioned four-letter words to convey its full meaning.
  • One good turn gets most of the blankets.
  • You cannot produce a baby in one month by impregnating nine women.
  • Love is the triumph of imagination over intelligence.
  • It is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.
  • Thou shalt not commit adultery…..unless in the mood.
  • Never lie down with a woman who’s got more troubles than you.
  • Abstain from wine, women, and song; mostly song.
  • Never argue with a women when she’s tired — or rested.
  • A woman never forgets the men she could have had; a man, the women he couldn’t.
  • What matters is not the length of the wand, but the magic in the stick.
  • It is better to be looked over than overlooked.
  • Never say no.
  • A man can be happy with any woman as long as he doesn’t love her.
  • Folks playing leapfrog must complete all jumps.
  • Beauty is skin deep; ugly goes right to the bone.
  • Never stand between a fire hydrant and a dog.
  • A man is only a man, but a good bicycle is a ride.
  • Love comes in spurts.
  • The world does not revolve on an axis.
  • Sex is one of the nine reasons for reincarnation; the other eight are unimportant.
  • Smile, it makes people wonder what you are thinking.
  • Don’t do it if you can’t keep it up.
  • There is no difference between a wise man and a fool when they fall in love.
  • Never go to bed mad, stay up and fight.
  • Love is the delusion that one woman differs from another.
  • “This won’t hurt, I promise.”

Murphy’s Law of Research

Enough research will tend to support your theory.

Murphy’s Law of Copiers

The legibility of a copy is inversely proportional to its importance.

Murphy’s Law of the Open Road:

When there is a very long road upon which there is a one-way bridge placed at random, and there are only two cars on that road, it follows that: the two cars are going in opposite directions, and… they will always meet at the bridge.

Murphy’s Law of Thermodynamics

Things get worse under pressure.

The Murphy Philosophy

Smile . . . tomorrow will be worse.

Quantization Revision of Murphy’s Laws

Everything goes wrong all at once.

Murphy’s Constant

Matter will be damaged in direct proportion to its value

Law of the Perversity of Nature (Mrs. Murphy’s Corollary):

You cannot successfully determine beforehand which side of the bread to butter.

Corollary (Jenning):

The chance of the bread falling with the buttered side down is directly proportional to the cost of the carpet.

Hill’s Commentaries on Murphy’s Laws

  • If we lose much by having things go wrong, take all possible care.
  • If we have nothing to lose by change, relax.
  • If we have everything to gain by change, relax.
  • If it doesn’t matter, it does not matter.

O’Toole’s Commentary

Murphy was an optimist.

NBC’s Addendum to Murphy’s Law

You never run out of things that can go wrong.

F@b’s comment to Murphy’s Law

While you are reading this, something is going wrong
but you don’t know it… yet 😉

Dementia safety risks at home

By Kara Lewis – June 21, 2021
Like many seniors, those who have Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia often want to remain in their homes as long as possible. Many families choose to accommodate newfound challenges at home soon after a loved one’s dementia diagnosis.

However, most major forms of dementia — including Alzheimer’s disease — progress over time. This means that middle- and late-stage dementia symptoms pose different, more severe risks than early stages of the disease.

While different people will experience different symptoms, Alzheimer’s typically affects judgment, temperament, understanding of time and place, and physical abilities such as balance. These changes in both the brain and the body can complicate home safety for seniors.

Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the U.S. Fire Administration, and AAA all reveal that seniors have a greater risk of common accidents than the general population. Learn below about six specific dementia and Alzheimer’s safety risks for seniors living at home so you can prioritize your loved one’s safety.

Continue reading Dementia safety risks at home

Dental Care for Veterans

Note: The conventional wisdom is the VA does not provide dental care to veterans, but the reality is a bit different.

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Check it out here, – https://www.byteme.com/community/resources/article/veterans-dental-resources/

and regarding vision care: – https://www.nvisioncenters.com/education/vision-care-guide-for-veterans/

 

Liz Cheney’s OpEd in the WaPo May 5th, 2021

Opinion: Liz Cheney: The GOP is at a turning point. History is watching us.

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In public statements again this week, former president Donald Trump has repeated his claims that the 2020 election was a fraud and was stolen. His message: I am still the rightful president, and President Biden is illegitimate. Trump repeats these words now with full knowledge that exactly this type of language provoked violence on Jan. 6. And, as the Justice Department and multiple federal judges have suggested, there is good reason to believe that Trump’s language can provoke violence again. Trump is seeking to unravel critical elements of our constitutional structure that make democracy work — confidence in the result of elections and the rule of law. No other American president has ever done this.

The Republican Party is at a turning point, and Republicans must decide whether we are going to choose truth and fidelity to the Constitution. In the immediate wake of the violence of Jan. 6, almost all of us knew the gravity and the cause of what had just happened — we had witnessed it firsthand.

I am a conservative Republican, and the most conservative of conservative values is reverence for the rule of law. Each of us swears an oath before God to uphold our Constitution. The electoral college has spoken. More than 60 state and federal courts, including multiple Trump-appointed judges, have rejected the former president’s arguments, and refused to overturn election results. That is the rule of law; that is our constitutional system for resolving claims of election fraud.

The question before us now is whether we will join Trump’s crusade to delegitimize and undo the legal outcome of the 2020 election, with all the consequences that might have. I have worked overseas in nations where changes in leadership come only with violence, where democracy takes hold only until the next violent upheaval. America is exceptional because our constitutional system guards against that. At the heart of our republic is a commitment to the peaceful transfer of power among political rivals in accordance with law. President Ronald Reagan described this as our American “miracle.”

While embracing or ignoring Trump’s statements might seem attractive to some for fundraising and political purposes, that approach will do profound long-term damage to our party and our country. Trump has never expressed remorse or regret for the attack of Jan. 6 and now suggests that our elections, and our legal and constitutional system, cannot be trusted to do the will of the people. This is immensely harmful, especially as we now compete on the world stage against Communist China and its claims that democracy is a failed system.

For Republicans, the path forward is clear.

First, support the ongoing Justice Department criminal investigations of the Jan. 6 attack. Those investigations must be comprehensive and objective; neither the White House nor any member of Congress should interfere.

Second, we must support a parallel bipartisan review by a commission with subpoena power to seek and find facts; it will describe for all Americans what happened. This is critical to defeating the misinformation and nonsense circulating in the press and on social media. No currently serving member of Congress — with an eye to the upcoming election cycle — should participate. We should appoint former officials, members of the judiciary and other prominent Americans who can be objective, just as we did after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The commission should be focused on the Jan. 6 attacks. The Black Lives Matter and antifa violence of last summer was illegal and reprehensible, but it is a different problem with a different solution.

There is much at stake now, including the ridiculous “wokeness” of our political rivals, the irrational policies at the border and runaway spending that threatens a return to the catastrophic inflation of the 1970s. Reagan formed a broad coalition from across the political spectrum to return America to sanity, and we need to do the same now. We know how. But this will not happen if Republicans choose to abandon the rule of law and join Trump’s crusade to undermine the foundation of our democracy and reverse the legal outcome of the last election.

History is watching. Our children are watching. We must be brave enough to defend the basic principles that underpin and protect our freedom and our democratic process. I am committed to doing that, no matter what the short-term political consequences might be.

And now in astrophysics…

…courtesy of Brian Koberlein

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It’s the merry month of May, and that means another newsletter. Whether you celebrate Cinco de Mayo or the Revenge of the Fifth, there is plenty of science news to go around.

The Great Beyond

Cosmology has been a big topic this month. The extended Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (eBOSS) released its first results. The study looks at the distribution of galaxies to measure cosmic expansion, and confirmed the existence of dark energy to a stunning 11𝜎. Another study used the light of distant quasars to measure cosmic expansion. The work is still in its early stages but could teach us how cosmic expansion has changed over time. Good news for dark energy, but bad news for dark matter. A study of fast-rotating black holes has shown that if dark matter exists, it can’t be made of light boson particles. It seems that we’re running out of options as to what dark matter could be.

Under the Lens

Black holes are another popular topic. A team released a wonderful simulation of how light is gravitationally warped by a binary black hole system. It turns out to be quite complex. Another team used gravitationally lensed light from a quasar to confirm the mass of an intermediate-mass black hole.These rare objects are larger than a stellar-mass black hole, but not nearly as large as the supermassive black holes in the centers of galaxies. A third team might have discovered the smallest black hole ever, with a mass of only 3 Suns. If confirmed, it will also be the closest known black hole, only 1,500 light-years from Earth.

This Alien World

Over the years we’ve discovered thousands of exoplanets. We’re now at the point where we’re learning about how they form and behave. Recently several worlds were found that spin incredibly fast. A day on these Jupiter-size planets is just an hour long. If they rotated any faster, they would likely tear themselves apart. A new study of asteroids looked at how planets start to form. Based on this work, it seems early protoplanets grow in size rather quickly. Of course, when we talk about exoplanets, folks wonder whether there might be life on some alien worlds. Astronomers are looking for evidence, particularly in the atmospheres of these planets. For example, if we find a world with an oxygen atmosphere like Earth’s, would that mean there’s life? As a new study shows, not necessarily. So the search for life will be a bit more difficult than we once thought.

Warp Engines Engage

Several years ago a team of engineers built an engine they believed could take us to the stars. Known as the EM Drive, it was claimed to create a thrust without a corresponding counter-thrust. It would be cool if it worked, but it would also violate Newton’s third law of motion. Well, a new study has shown the EM Drive doesn’t work. That’s pretty much what we expected, but it’s disappointing that we won’t have warp drive yet. Maybe by the 23rd century we’ll get it figured out.

Once again, that’s for subscribing and reading. I’ll be back next month with lots more to share. Until then, May the Fourth be with you.

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2021 Arguments Mimic 1850’s

by Heather Cox Richardson – Apr 17th, 2021

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“Today, news broke that a number of pro-Trump House Republicans, including Representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), and Paul Gosar (R-AZ), are organizing the “America First Caucus,” which calls for “a degree of ideological flexibility, a certain intellectual boldness… to follow in President Trump’s footsteps, and potentially step on some toes and sacrifice sacred cows for the good of the American nation.”

The seven-page document outlining their ideas, obtained by Punchbowl News, is a list of the grievances popular in right-wing media. It calls for regulation of “Big Tech,” which right-wing commentators claim is biased against them; an end to coronavirus lockdowns, which the authors say “have ruined many businesses to bankruptcy such that many Americans are left unemployed and potentially destitute”; opposition to “wasteful social justice programs like the Green New Deal”; support for oil and gas; and rejection of “globalist institutions.”

And, with extraordinary clarity, it shows the ideology that underpins these positions, an ideology eerily reminiscent of that of the elite slaveholders of the 1850s American South.

“America was founded on the basis of individual and state sovereignty,” the document says, but that federalism has been undermined by decadent and corrupt bureaucrats in Washington. The authors propose to get rid of regulation and the regulatory state, thus restoring individual freedom. This is the exact argument that animated elite slaveholders, who vowed to keep the national government small so it could not intrude on their institution of human enslavement.

The authors of the America First Caucus platform lay out very clearly the racial argument behind the political one. America, the authors write, is based on “a common respect for uniquely Anglo-Saxon political traditions,” and “mass immigration” must be stopped. “Anglo-Saxon” is an old-fashioned historical description that has become a dog whistle for white supremacy. Scholars who study the Medieval world note that visions of a historical “white” England are fantasies, myths that are set in an imaginary past.

This was a myth welcome to pre-Civil War white southerners who fancied themselves the modern version of ancient English lords and used the concept of “Anglo-Saxon” superiority to justify spreading west over Indigenous and Mexican peoples. It was a myth welcome in the 1920s to members of the Ku Klux Klan, who claimed that “only as we follow in the pathway of the principles of our Anglo-Saxon father and express in our life the spirit and genius of their ideals may we hope to maintain the supremacy of the race, and to perpetuate our inheritance of liberty.” And it is a myth that appeals to modern-day white supremacists, who imitate what they think are ancient crests for their clothing, weapons, and organizations. Continue reading 2021 Arguments Mimic 1850’s

Common Cause

The Man Who Waited 50 Years for This Moment

A black-and-white photo of Fred Wertheimer standing in front of a group of microphones; in the background a woman holds up a sign reading "Democracy Is Not for $ale."
BILL CLARK / CQ ROLL CALL / GETTY
Some things are worth half a century of effort. Fred Wertheimer has been campaigning for good government and against corruption in Washington since 1971. That year he joined a new organization called Common Cause, founded by John Gardner and dedicated to getting big money out of politics and empowering Americans to participate in the democratic system. In 1974, during the Watergate scandal (which was partly about the corruption of politics by secret money), Wertheimer and Common Cause successfully pushed Congress to pass legislation that created public financing of presidential elections, limited campaign contributions, and established the Federal Election Commission. Two years later, in Buckley v. Valeo, the Supreme Court ruled that money is speech and reversed some of the law’s spending limits. Decades passed. The bilgewater kept rising. In 2002, as president of Democracy 21—a nonprofit he’d founded in 1997—Wertheimer was instrumental in the passage of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, known as McCain-Feingold, which banned “soft money” contributions to political parties by corporations and unions.Then, in 2010, the Supreme Court gutted the law in its Citizens United decision. The sewers flooded.

This is the burden of the good-government campaigner: years of toil out of the limelight, tracking corruption, enlisting allies, drafting legislation, lobbying politicians, educating the press; a moment of opportunity; a breakthrough; then a reversal that sends the rock rolling at least partway back down the hill.

“It’s a long game,” Wertheimer told me recently. “You have to be in this for the long game in order to make progress, because you have to be there at a moment when the opportunity exists to strike and the proposed solutions are on the table.” A lawyer by profession, Wertheimer never abandoned the cause, because he believes that political money is “central to everything else” in American democracy. And now, at age 82, he’s in the thick of the most important battle of his life. Continue reading Common Cause

Essential reading: Reconstruction Era Politics Today

March 28, 2021 article

Since the Civil War, voter suppression in America has had a unique cast.

The Civil War brought two great innovations to the United States that would mix together to shape our politics from 1865 onward:

First, the Republicans under Abraham Lincoln created our first national system of taxation, including the income tax. For the first time in our history, having a say in society meant having a say in how other people’s money was spent.

Second, the Republicans gave Black Americans a say in society.

They added the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, outlawing human enslavement except as punishment for crime and, when white southerners refused to rebuild the southern states with their free Black neighbors, in March 1867 passed the Military Reconstruction Act. This landmark law permitted Black men in the South to vote for delegates to write new state constitutions. The new constitutions confirmed the right of Black men to vote.

Most former Confederates wanted no part of this new system. They tried to stop voters from ratifying the new constitutions by dressing up in white sheets as the ghosts of dead southern soldiers, terrorizing Black voters and the white men who were willing to rebuild the South on these new terms to keep them from the polls. They organized as the Ku Klux Klan, saying they were “an institution of chivalry, humanity, mercy, and patriotism” intended “to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States… [and] to aid and assist in the execution of all constitutional laws.” But by this they meant the Constitution before the war and the Thirteenth Amendment: candidates for admission to the Ku Klux Klan had to oppose “Negro equality both social and political” and favor “a white man’s government.”

The bloody attempts of the Ku Klux Klan to suppress voting didn’t work. The new constitutions went into effect, and in 1868 the former Confederate states were readmitted to the Union with Black male suffrage. In that year’s election, Georgia voters put 33 Black Georgians into the state’s general assembly, only to have the white legislators expel them on the grounds that the Georgia state constitution did not explicitly permit Black men to hold office. Continue reading Essential reading: Reconstruction Era Politics Today

Recall: Florida November 2000

This image may contain Antonin Scalia Al Gore Tie Accessories Accessory Human Person Katherine Harris and David Boies

Shortly after the presidential vote in November 2000, two law clerks at the United States Supreme Court were joking about the photo finish in Florida. Wouldn’t it be funny, one mused, if the matter landed before them? And how, if it did, the Court would split five to four, as it so often did in big cases, with the conservative majority installing George W. Bush in the White House? The two just laughed. It all seemed too preposterous.

Sure, friends and relatives predicted that the case would eventually land in their laps, but that was ignorant, naïve talk—typical of people without sophisticated legal backgrounds. A majority of the justices were conservatives, but they weren’t partisan; mindful of the Court’s fragile authority, the justices had always steered clear of messy political spats. Moreover, the very jurists who’d normally side with Bush were the ones most solicitous of states’ rights, most deferential to state courts, most devoted to the Constitution’s “original intent”—and the Founding Fathers had specifically provided that the Congress, not the judiciary, would resolve close elections. To top it off, the Court rarely took cases before they were ripe, and the political process in Florida was still unfolding. “It was just inconceivable to us that the Court would want to lose its credibility in such a patently political way,” one of the clerks recalls. “That would be the end of the Court.”

The commentators agreed. The New York Times predicted that the Court would never enter the Florida thicket. A law professor at the University of Miami pegged Bush’s chances before the tribunal at “between slim and none, and a lot closer to none.” As Thanksgiving 2000 approached, the justices and their clerks planned their vacations and scattered, leaving a skeletal staff—generally only one of the three or four clerks assigned to each chamber—behind in case the impossible happened. There was just no way, Justice Stephen Breyer remarked over the holiday, that the Court would ever get involved.

It all turned out very differently, of course, and the Court, by the very margin that the incredulous clerk envisaged, put George W. Bush in the White House. Now out in the working world, the two clerks, along with most of their colleagues who worked for the four liberal justices and the occasional conservative justice, remain angered, haunted, shaken, and disillusioned by what they saw. After all, they were idealists. They’d learned in their elite law schools that the law was just and that judges resolved legal disputes by nonpartisan analysis of neutral principles. But Bush v. Gore, as seen from the inside, convinced them they’d been sold a bill of goods. They’d left their clerkships disheartened and disgusted.

The 2000 election in Florida shook Americans from all walks of life and of all political persuasions. Many were left wondering about the viability of America’s democratic system. Much has changed since the election’s frenzied aftermath, in which hordes of reporters jammed the streets of Tallahassee, Palm Beach, and Miami, chasing ballots and lawyers for 36 days before the presidency was called by a margin of 537 votes out of the six million cast in Florida. But Florida is a state with a history of disenfranchising blacks—a legacy that seemed all too current in 2000. And the president’s brother is still governor.

Could it happen again? “Butterfly ballots” are gone, so there will be no more accidental votes for fringe candidates such as Pat Buchanan. Chads—dimpled, hanging, pregnant—are history, for the punch-card machines that used them have been decertified. In their place are sleek, new electronic voting machines, known as D.R.E.’s (direct-recording electronic voting machines). An estimated half of the state’s voters will be using them this November—including those in the three largest Democratic counties.

The D.R.E.’s look and work reassuringly like A.T.M.’s. Yet unlike A.T.M.’s, touch-screens provide no paper receipt—no proof at all that a vote has been cast as the voter intended. Touch-screens have been plagued around the country by serious questions about their security and their accuracy in registering votes. In Florida, however, the story is more disturbing than in most states. The company that sewed up most of the key counties with raw political clout has installed machines that have confounded poll workers and voters alike and led to problems that the state, in its embarrassment, has tried to minimize again and again.

Continue reading Recall: Florida November 2000

Adam Schiff’s request on the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act

Hello,

We are on the cusp of a once-in-a-generation moment in Congress, where we have the opportunity to advance some of the most sweeping voting rights and pro-democracy legislation in decades. It would make John Lewis so proud.

When my friend and colleague John Lewis passed away last year, he left behind an extraordinary legacy of fighting fearlessly for the right to vote. Whether it was being nearly beaten to death as a young man marching across the Edmund Pettus Bridge or providing searing moral clarity on the Floor of the House of Representatives, John truly was our nation’s conscience.

There is no better way to honor him than by passing the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act which would give the Voting Rights Act real teeth again to enforce the law and prevent voter discrimination, especially in communities of color that are the target of so many blatant voter suppression efforts — like they are right now.

The truth is, Donald Trump’s “Big Lie” that the 2020 election was stolen, along with right-wing Republican legislators across the country furiously trying to pass more laws to suppress the vote has left our democracy hanging by a thread. Unless we take action — in the spirit and memory of John Lewis and the Civil Rights heroes who marched, organized, and died for the cause — our democracy may never recover.

Sadly, Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans will filibuster the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act in a desperate attempt to bury another key piece of our agenda in McConnell’s legislative graveyard. We cannot let them get away with it again, which is why we must press forward with reforming or outright ending the filibuster in the Senate.

So, I’m personally asking you — join me in calling on the Senate to end the filibuster so we can advance important, pro-democracy reforms like the Voting Rights Advancement Act to protect our most fundamental right:

ADD YOUR NAME

We must never let our guard down when it comes to protecting our democracy — just like John taught us for decades. Let’s keep up his fight.

— Adam

Unclassified Intelligence Report on Interference in the 2020 US Election

ICA-declass-16MAR21   – (PDF Formatted File)

Private Schools Have Become Truly Obscene by Caitlin Flanagan in the Mar 2021 – The Atlantic

illustration: a solid gold school desk on a pink background

This article was published online on March 11, 2021.

Dalton is one of the most selective private schools in Manhattan, in part because it knows the answer to an important question: What do hedge-funders want?

They want what no one else has. At Dalton, that means an “archaeologist in residence,” a teaching kitchen, a rooftop greenhouse, and a theater proscenium lovingly restored after it was “destroyed by a previous renovation.”

“Next it’ll be a heliport,” said a member of the local land-use committee after the school’s most recent remodel, which added two floors—and 12,000 square feet—to one of its four buildings, in order to better prepare students “for the exciting world they will inherit.” Today Dalton; tomorrow the world itself.

So it was a misstep when Jim Best, the head of school—relatively new, and with a salary of $700,000—said that Dalton parents couldn’t have something they wanted. The school would not hold in-person classes in the fall. This might have gone over better if the other elite Manhattan schools were doing the same. But Trinity was opening. Ditto the fearsome girls’ schools: Brearley, Nightingale-Bamford, Chapin, Spence.

How long could the Dalton parent—the $54,000-a-kid Dalton parent—watch her children slip behind their co-equals? More to the point, how long could she be expected to open The New York Times and see articles about one of the coronavirus pandemic’s most savage inequalities: that private schools were allowed to open when so many public schools were closed, their students withering in front of computer screens and suffering all manner of neglect?The Dalton parent is not supposed to be on the wrong side of a savage inequality. She is supposed to care about savage inequalities; she is supposed to murmur sympathetically about savage inequalities while scanning the news, her gentle concern muffled by the jet-engine roar of her morning blowout. But she isn’t supposed to fall victim to one.In early October, stern emails began arriving in Best’s inbox. A group of 20 physicians with children at the school wrote that they were “frustrated and confused and better hope to understand the school’s thought processes behind the virtual model it has adopted.” This was not a group with a high tolerance for frustration. “Please tell us what are the criteria for re-opening fully in person,” they wrote. And they dropped heavy artillery: “From our understanding, several of our peer schools are not just surviving but thriving.”

Shortly after the physicians weighed in, more than 70 parents with children at the lower school signed a petition asking for the school to open. “Our children are sad, confused and isolated,” they wrote, as though describing the charges of a Victorian orphanage. They were questioning why “everyone around them gets to go to school when they do not.”

Parents at elite private schools sometimes grumble about taking nothing from public schools yet having to support them via their tax dollars. But the reverse proposition is a more compelling argument. Why should public-school parents—why should anyone—be expected to support private schools? Exeter has 1,100 students and a $1.3 billion endowment. Andover, which has 1,150 students, is on track to take in $400 million in its current capital campaign. And all of this cash, glorious cash, comes pouring into the countinghouse 100 percent tax-free.

These schools surround kids who have every possible advantage with a literal embarrassment of riches—and then their graduates hoover up spots in the best colleges. Less than 2 percent of the nation’s students attend so-called independent schools. But 24 percent of Yale’s class of 2024 attended an independent school. At Princeton, that figure is 25 percent. At Brown and Dartmouth, it is higher still: 29 percent.

The numbers are even more astonishing when you consider that they’re not distributed evenly across the country’s more than 1,600 independent schools but are concentrated in the most exclusive ones—and these are our focus here. In the past five years, Dalton has sent about a third of its graduates to the Ivy League. Ditto the Spence School. Harvard-Westlake, in Los Angeles, sent 45 kids to Harvard alone. Noble and Greenough School, in Massachusetts, did even better: 50 kids went on to Harvard.

However unintentionally, these schools pass on the values of our ruling class—chiefly, that a certain cutthroat approach to life is rewarded. True, they salve their consciences with generous financial aid. Like Lord and Lady Bountiful, the administrators page through the applications of the nonwealthy, deciding whom to favor with an opportunity to slip through the golden doors and have their life change forever.But what makes these schools truly ludicrous is their recent insistence that they are engines of equity and even “inclusivity.” A $50,000-a-year school can’t be anything but a very expensive consumer product for the rich. If these schools really care about equity, all they need to do is get a chain and a padlock and close up shop. Continue reading Private Schools Have Become Truly Obscene by Caitlin Flanagan in the Mar 2021 – The Atlantic

The new scam universe

1. Dine-and-Dash

It’s a hard meal to swallow. The restaurant business suffered a catastrophic blow during the pandemic and economic downturn. But that’s not the only reason a growing number of Los Angeles restaurants are closing down. In a new form of dine-and-dash tailored to the era of delivery apps and curbside pickups, restaurants are seeing a spike in the use of fraudulent credit cards or customers requesting refunds by falsely claiming they never received part or all of an order. And when charges are disputed with big food delivery companies and credit cards — with apps like Grubhub having a no-questions-asked return policy — small restaurants are often left holding the bill. Credit card fraud, which has soared during the pandemic, hit $11 billion last year in the U.S., according to one estimate. Continue reading The new scam universe