Fear versus the odds

When there’s a lack of sports on TV I tend to watch a lot of travel & food shows, being an enthusiast of both subjects. I’ve even said that were I to come into wealth I would take up traveling the world and embracing various cultures including their food — basically Anthony Bourdain’s gig minus the cameras. Speaking of whom, I’ve been a fan of every iteration of his food & travel show over the years (yes, even “A Cook’s Tour”), I remember that, though one different thing about Parts Unknown vs the others is since it’s on a news channel he can bring up harder subjects in the process.

I saw a recent episode where he was in Cologne, Germany. In an example of the broader focus of the show, he discussed the New Years Eve attacks that happened there & the backlash against acceptance of refugees since then. As the type of event that those opposed to letting in those fleeing warzones point at as if it explains their entire position, I decided to look up some numbers:

  • The summer prior, the German government had let in over a million  refugees, mostly from Iraq & Syria.
  • The broadest count of people involved in committing these acts I’ve seen is a thousand, across multiple cities.
  • If you were to be deliberately as uncharatable as possible, you could assume that every single one of those thousand people were from that class of refugees from the summer — which would place the rate of blame towards refugees for the attacks at 0.001 . That’s 1/10th of a percent.
  • Since the attacks, arrests have been made of suspects, which gives a real world comparison for worst case scenario number. Well, so much for that scenario, because most of the suspects were actually not from Iraq or Syria, and many had been in Germany for years.

So, in the face of how disproportionate the fear is of the refugee population, what is the incentive for that fear? Some European newspapers have some hints for you on that, happening to rhyme with “Beanophobia” & “Nacism”…

Oh yeah, one more thing about the refugee situation: how about not sowing chaos in their home countries in the first place?

Posted in Foreign Policy | 1 Comment

Briefly considering Polanyi

Some thoughts I had a bit ago, sharing here for posterity & maybe discussion.

BTW: it looks like I’ve found a workaround for Storify: export the HTML!

Some thoughts about a comparison raised by Dissent Magazine

  1. Spotted on Twitter a link to an unexpected comparison of Karl Polanyi — author of The Great Transformation — to the current competitors for the Democratic party presidential nomination. Normally I’d laugh at such a thing, but having heard of Polanyi in passing, though unfortunately not having much chance to read in depth, I figured I’d at least look. Link was here:
  2. So I read it, and the gist was an observation about the construction of the existing market, as in Polanyi in his time seeing the market as having been constructed to begin with, which contradicts talk about the “free market” in reference to existing economy. I’d agree with such despite not going along with any electoral support unlike the authors of the piece (at least as far as I could tell.
  3. #lrt I’m not a supporter of anybody. But going by the summary there, I’d be close to Polyani to an extent.

    Market as we know it is structured by state, & yes ppl will rebel against all things being a matter of prices. >

  4. > The thing is, these don’t mean IMO that *nothing* being priced is possible, or that no market exchange can exist without gov’t. >
  5. That is, outside of a deliberately primitive society cost of some sort is a fact. Also, exchange isn’t something that inherently requires the violent arbiter known as the state — the current structure does not justify itself merely by existing.
  6. > Rather, a significant chunk of the scarcity & inequality that exists is because of the rules imposed, the assumptions operated under. >

    > There are things that currently are matters of price that if not for that imposition would not be. >
  7. This is to say that in my opinion Polanyi’s observation about the penetration of market logic has a point. An environment that maximizes the amount of interaction that involves prices isn’t something that sprouts up naturally.
  8. > There’s other things that the imposition makes artificially expensive for the benefit of ruling class that would otherwise be cheap.

    Meanwhile, other parts of the imposition make labor for others both artificially cheap & ultra necessary when it otherwise wouldn’t be.

  9. Both Sanders & Hillary see current market as inevitable, they just have slightly different responses to it. >

  10. > Bernie is like “remove X & Y from price mech. & we’re good”. Hillary goes “don’t remove anything, just subsidize”. >
  11. This gets to the point of the original piece. The authors say Bernie Sanders questions current market structure as inevitable, but IMO they’re offbase on that. If he truly thought it wasn’t inevitable then he’d be arguing its restructuring in terms of entirely different starting assumptions, rather than about regulating behavior that arises naturally — “unfettered capitalism”.
  12. If Sanders *were* questioning from the ground up, then it’d be acknowledged that “unfettered capitalism” is a contradiction: capitalism is itself a set of fetters. What him & Hillary are talking about is degree of amelioration.
  13. > An actual capital L Left in comparison would acknowledge how everything was constructed & call for *deconstruction*. >

    > Divide then would be between Rebuild in whole other form vs Don’t Build Jack Shit.
  14. In other words, state vs no-state. Marx vs Bakunin.
  15. Sanders vs Clinton has nothing to do with this.

Posted in random shots | 1 Comment

Billionaires with Rainbows

Recently, two state legislatures made US national headlines when they sent to the governors desk new bills meant to generally take yet another dump on LGBTQ folks. North Carolina’s governor signed it, while Georgia governor Nathan Deal vetoed it. As both bills were coming up, and as now continues for the law in North Carolina, I can’t help but notice that a prominent part of the public opposition has been in the form of large corporations saying they would withdraw & refrain from business in those states.

The targeting of LGBTQ people for harassment & constant attempts to shove them back in the closet (or eliminate them altogether) is always troubling. I’m surprised that Nathan Deal was the one to reject it, since Georgia is the redder of the two, but glad that was done. That said, the dwarfing of any grassroots boycott threats by corporate heavy hitters, the seeming dependency on the ones with large amounts of money to be at least on this basic social issue Not Assholes (while they feel free to be assholes in other ways, of course) strikes me as a reminder of just how much power the biggest wallets have. Such basic issue, and we really mean jack shit unless we run a business that’s on the stock exchange, so we’re subject to the mercy of whatever some billionaires think.

That even with the tide of tolerance shifting like it has been, all the rest of the system that abuses us & the world as a whole hums along as usual… I’d suspect that’s not a coincidence. Elites can change their aesthetics, but they’ll never stop being the ruling class; they like those cops & tanks & bombs. Oh, look, Officer O’Malley has a rainbow sticker on his helmet, never mind the club he’s beating protesters with…

Update 041316: Well, turns out that the same companies raising indignation about that bill in North Carolina funded the politicians that voted for it. The most charitable conclusion one could conceivably have to this would be that they don’t quite realize how the game works on the further Right wing: see, big business gets state favors, and then the base gets to throw bricks at those who they don’t envision in their ideal society — immigrants, poor people, gays, y’know. But while that’s how it operates on the legislature level, I doubt that those companies were fishing in the checkbooks blind. They more likely didn’t care beyond the favors & afterwards saw an opportunity to polish their brands, to have their coke and snort it too.



Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Argument creep

Due to my philosophical opposition to the entirety of the structure referred to as the US government, I usually don’t keep up with or say much about the latest partisan cockfight between the wings of the party of the ruling class these days. Once in awhile though, their sideline cheerleaders (whether out of ignorance or corruption) will in the process of magnifying difference where there really isn’t much say something that way overshoots what their supposed “point” is, and I will point & laugh. The death over the weekend of Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia & the reaction of republicans to the prospect of  Obama naming his replacement has now provided such an opportunity.

Since this is an election year and republicans would rather have a republican nominate someone, and they currently have the Senate majority, they’re already pledging to block any nominee prior to Obama leaving office. In a column in the Washington Examiner, radio talk show personality Hugh Hewitt included in his endorsement of the blocking the following:

The Supreme Court has inserted itself into every manner of controversy over the past 30 years, from abortion to guns to marriage and now immigration. It has assumed power never intended it by the Framers, but it is what it is and there is no going back. Thus who controls the court controls the meaning of the Constitution.

If there is anything worth fighting for it is the future of the Constitution, and thus Senate Republicans have no choice here.

Think this through here. The Supreme Court picks which cases it reviews, and making a decision after having taken up one, either way, is to “insert” themselves into the issue. Thus, the only way to truly not insert into an issue is to refuse to rule on it.

This isn’t an argument for waiting until the next president is sworn in to fill a vacant Supreme Court spot, it’s an argument that the Supreme Court should not exist. Hewitt, likely intending to fume about Roe v Wade, Obergefell v Hodges, or Lawrence v Texas, instead indicts Marbury v Madison, even though without the review power the top court would… I dunno, shrug at the participants in each case & then go watch porn until they leave?

Funny thing to say while claiming to rep “the framers” that they made a redundant body for nothing. But then, we are talking about a bunch of rich white guys that thought only white male property owners should vote, that blacks were property, and that the natives were to be massacred for their land, so the real problem is that Hugh or anyone else thinks their views on anything should matter. So if you just want to keep the gays down & the women in the kitchen just admit it & cut the high falutin’ crap gloss on your troglodytism, and I’ll admit up front that you’re an oppressing POS and I reject any authority over any of us for any reason, whether from you or a Dem. It’s simpler that way.

Posted in law, random shots | Leave a comment

A brief consideration of Men’s Rights

Most of the population of incarcerated people consists of men. Especially in the US, the leader among caging of other human beings. There are studies suggesting that deaths during war disproportionately happen to men.

…so, can someone explain to me why, given what I describe herein, “Men’s Rights Advocacy” does not overwhelmingly (or even significantly, from my admittedly arms length understanding) concern itself with prison abolition and anti-war/anti-empire efforts, rather than complaining that women do not see them as entitled to their body, attention, or time? Seriously, what gives?

Posted in random shots | Leave a comment

Bit of a change

My old host is going away, so I’ve exported everything I could here. One thing I need to remember is that Storify embeds won’t work anymore, but otherwise all is normal.

I plan to be here more often. Life needs to stop getting in my way tho…

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


I’ve decided that the following shall be my response, today and from now on indefinitely, when some kind, yet unlearned soul asks me who I am voting for/if I am voting, or why I am not voting:

“Tell me, of the candidates running, which one wants the last winner of the office to be frogmarched before the Hague to answer for war crimes first thing January 21st?”

Posted in random shots | 2 Comments