Daily Archive: 09/20/2012

Sep 20 2012

Why Do People Riot?

The above  question has been sort of dogging me for several days, and I felt the need to write about it.  Why do people riot in the streets?  Why are the riots throughout the world presently taking place?   Is it one incident or event that causes a given riot, or is it a whole set of other factors at play that only needs a specific set of incidents/events to set off a riot?

Riots, in general, are quite complicated, and nobody really knows how or why  even the most respectable, law-abiding people will sometimes engage in this kind of civil disorder, or allow themselves to be influenced by a small percentage of people in a given group who are prone to this kind of behavior in the first place?  Again, nobody really and truly knows.  

Sometimes, even good, law-abiding people can get caught up in all the excitement of rioting, and become aroused when the people all around them are acting as such.  What makes such people prone to that?  Is it because they, too, are under some sort of pressures that they don’t particularly wish to discuss with others?  Is it because they, too, are bothered by things that’re beyond their control, or at least tough to change?  Is it because they, too, fear that they’ll one day end up with no job, no home, money, food, or opportunities for education and meaningful employment?  Is it because being under martial law puts a ton of pressure on them, they feel trapped in a cage and need to throw things out, so to speak?  Is it possible that people believe that if they don’t partake of the riots, they’ll either become outcasts, or get beat-up or possibly killed?    I believe that all these things definitely produce a sort of a powder-keg situation, where all it takes is one seemingly small (or not so small) incident or event to set off a riot.   On the other hand, however, riots are often instigated by people who are prone to breaking the laws to begin with, and find further excuse for law-breaking when they instigate such civil disorders.  Without a small band of angrier people to set things off, riots might not occur, either.  

Sep 20 2012

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

New York Times Editorial: The United States and the Muslim World

The anti-Islam video that set off attacks against American embassies and violent protests in the Muslim world was a convenient fuse for rage. Deeper forces are at work in those societies, riven by pent-up anger over a lack of jobs, economic stagnation and decades of repression by previous Arab governments.

In the wake of the Arab Spring, these newly liberated nations have become battlegrounds for Islamic extremists, moderates and secularists, all contending for power and influence over the direction of democratic change. These forces and the attacks may be beyond the control of American foreign policy, no matter what some might want to believe. [..]

But it would be wrong to retreat from supporting people in Libya, Tunisia and Egypt who are committed to building democratic governments and pluralistic societies based on the rule of law as some in Congress urge. The United States has to stay engaged in whatever ways it can.

Richard (RJ) Eskow: The Radical Rich: From Romney to Re-Occupy

Two recent movements have transformed the political landscape. The Occupy movement literally operates in the light of day. The other movement operates in secrecy, with money as its “speech” rather than… well, you know, speech.

The Romney video offers us a rare glimpse of the other movement. This movement of the extremely rich is ruthless, radical, and full of rage. And it’s on the rise.

If you’re not scared, you’re not paying attention. [..]

Romney articulated both his own emotions and those of his crowd when he said of the American majority, “The things that animate us aren’t the things that animate them.” Well, right back at ya, pal.

That’s why it’s time to Re-Occupy the country — now, before it’s too late.

Jim Hightower; Our Disgraceful Minimum Wage

In natural terms, our economy is a giant sequoia. Unfortunately, our present corporate and governmental leadership can’t seem to grasp one of the basic laws of nature: You can’t keep a mighty tree alive (much less have it thrive) by only spritzing the fine leaves at the tippy-top. The fate of the whole tree depends on nurturing the roots. Recent studies show that increasing the minimum wage even during hard times is good policy, providing higher pay but no loss of jobs.

Sadly, we’re led by a myopic crew of leaf-spritzers. [..]

One of the least excusable of today’s injustices is that in this country of unsurpassed wealth, it’s an abomination that the power elites are casually tolerating poverty pay as our wage floor. How deplorable that they can actually juxtapose the words “working” and “poor” without blinking, much less blushing.

Jamal Abdi and Robert Naiman: Meet the Press Gives Netanyahu Cheney’s Bully Pulpit for War

If you happened to catch Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Meet the Press this past Sunday, you may have thought you were watching a rerun from ten years ago.

After all, it was September 2002 — almost a decade ago to the day — that Dick Cheney went on Meet the Press to sell Americans a war based on distortions that he claimed were an “absolute certainty.”

And when Cheney met the press, he was never challenged. Eventually the free pass that the media gave Cheney and others led us into a quagmire in Iraq to dismantle WMD that didn’t exist.

It was déjà vu all over again this past Sunday when Netanyahu presented his own absolute certainties to Americans. He told us that Iran “is racing to develop nuclear bombs” and said if the U.S. does not set a redline for war to block Iran’s enrichment program, Iran would “proceed to the bomb.”

Eugene Robinson: Standing Up for Teachers

Teachers are heroes, not villains, and it’s time to stop demonizing them.

It has become fashionable to blame all of society’s manifold sins and wickedness on “teachers unions,” as if it were possible to separate these supposedly evil organizations from the dedicated public servants who belong to them. News flash: Collective bargaining is not the problem, and taking that right away from teachers will not fix the schools. [..]

The fact is that teachers are being saddled with absurdly high expectations. Some studies have shown a correlation between student performance and teacher “effectiveness,” depending how this elusive quality is measured. But there is a whole body of academic literature proving the stronger correlation between student performance and a much more important variable: family income.

Yes, I’m talking about poverty. Sorry to be so gauche, but when teachers point out the relationship between income and achievement, they’re not shirking responsibility. They’re just stating an inconvenient truth.

Ari Berman: Is Pennsylvania’s Voter ID Law Headed for Defeat?

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court today vacated a lower-court decision upholding the state’s voter ID law, instructing Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson to rehear the case, looking specifically at whether the state is doing enough to make sure that every eligible Pennsylvania voter has the right ID to cast a ballot. The supreme court, in a 4-2 decision, found a “disconnect between what the Law prescribes and how it is being implemented,” and noted that “if the Law is enforced in a manner that prevents qualified and eligible electors from voting, the integrity of the upcoming General Election will be impaired.” [..]

The important takeaway from the ruling is that the supreme court shifted the burden of proof from the plaintiffs, who in lower court had to show that eligible voters would be disenfranchised by the law, to the state, who now has to prove that voters will not be disenfranchised. That’s why lawyers for the plaintiffs, which includes the ACLU and the Advancement Project, are optimistic about the chances of receiving a preliminary injunction when the Commonwealth Court rehears the case, possibly as soon as next week. [..]

Sep 20 2012

On This Day In History September 20

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

September 20 is the 263rd day of the year (264th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 102 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1973, in a highly publicized “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match, top women’s player Billie Jean King, 29, beats Bobby Riggs, 55, a former No. 1 ranked men’s player. Riggs (1918-1995), a self-proclaimed male chauvinist, had boasted that women were inferior, that they couldn’t handle the pressure of the game and that even at his age he could beat any female player. The match was a huge media event, witnessed in person by over 30,000 spectators at the Houston Astrodome and by another 50 million TV viewers worldwide. King made a Cleopatra-style entrance on a gold litter carried by men dressed as ancient slaves, while Riggs arrived in a rickshaw pulled by female models. Legendary sportscaster Howard Cosell called the match, in which King beat Riggs 6-4, 6-3, 6-3. King’s achievement not only helped legitimize women’s professional tennis and female athletes, but it was seen as a victory for women’s rights in general.

Billie Jean King (née Moffitt; born November 22, 1943 in Long Beach, California) is a former professional tennis player from the United States. She won 12 Grand Slam  singles titles, 16 Grand Slam women’s doubles titles, and 11 Grand Slam mixed doubles titles. King has been an advocate against sexism in sports and society. She is known for “The Battle of the Sexes” in 1973, in which she defeated Bobby Riggs, a former Wimbledon men’s singles champion.

King is the founder of the Women’s Tennis Association, the Women’s Sports Foundation, and World Team Tennis, which she founded with her former husband, Lawrence King.

Despite King’s achievements at the world’s biggest tennis tournaments, the U.S. public best remembers her for her win over Bobby Riggs in 1973.

Riggs had been a top men’s player in the 1930s and 1940s in both the amateur and professional ranks. He won the Wimbledon men’s singles title in 1939, and was considered the World No. 1 male tennis player for 1941, 1946, and 1947. He then became a self-described tennis “hustler” who played in promotional challenge matches. In 1973, he took on the role of male chauvinist. Claiming that the women’s game was so inferior to the men’s game that even a 55-year-old like himself could beat the current top female players, he challenged and defeated Margaret Court 6-2, 6-1. King, who previously had rejected challenges from Riggs, then accepted a lucrative financial offer to play him.

Sep 20 2012

Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Alcohol

America has a long interesting history with alcohol that dates back to the Pilgrims running through what really started the American revolution to Prohibition. The Discovery Channel began a three part series, “How Booze Built America,” that examines the history of alcohol in the American culture. Mike Rowe, the series host, spoke on MSNBC’s The Cycle about the series and making history fun.

Did you know that the Puritans landed the Mayflower early on Plymouth Rock … because they ran out of beer? Or that Johnny Appleseed was actually creating farms to sell hard apple cider?

It was all the fault of demon rum.

Sep 20 2012

Fighting for the Right to Vote

Voting rights have come under attack in the last few years based mostly on the false premise of voter fraud. Civil liberties and private citizen groups have been fighting back with some help from the Federal Government in states that are governed by the 1965 Voting Rights Act that ended “Jim Crow” laws. Recent federal court rulings threw out the voter ID laws in Texas, South Carolina and the District of Columbia.

In Pennsylvania this week, the State Supreme Court handed down a 4 – 2 ruling that returned that state’s controversial voter ID law (pdf) back to the Commonwealth Court for review with these instructions:

Thus, we will return the matter to the Commonwealth Court to make a present assessment of the actual availability of the alternate identification cards on a developed record in light of the experience since the time the cards became available. In this regard, the court is to consider whether the procedures being used for deployment of the cards comport with the requirement of liberal access which the General Assembly attached to the issuance of PennDOT identification cards. If they do not, or if the Commonwealth Court is not still convinced in its predictive judgment that there will be no voter disenfranchisement arising out of the Commonwealth’s implementation of a voter identification requirement for purposes of the upcoming election, that court is obliged to enter a preliminary injunction.

In other words, the state must show that they can get a valid ID in the hands of any eligible voter who wants one between now and the election. If they can’t and , the court believes that voters will be disenfranchised, then the court must issue an injunction enjoining the law.

After all this country went through in the 1960’s to ensure the voting rights of minorities, it seems surreal that we are having a similar battle to protect not only those same minorities but the elderly, the poor, and students.

Sep 20 2012

My Little Town — Easy Decisions 20120919: Regular Blog or Time Well Spent

Those of you that read this regular series know that I am from Hackett, Arkansas, just a mile or so from the Oklahoma border, and just about 10 miles south of the Arkansas River.  It was a rural sort of place that did not particularly appreciate education, and just zoom onto my previous posts to understand a bit about it.

Tonight I did not post a blog, because The Woman and I spent just about all of our waking hours together, until five minutes ago, and it was just then 10:50 PM Eastern.  It was an easy decision.

As much as I love all of my online family, I must confess that spending time with her is much more important to me.  I sincerely hope that no one takes offense at that.  I think that I know most of you well enough to feel that you agree with me about this.

It started out slowly, just talking over the telephone, then she asked me to come and visit.  Of course I did!

Sep 20 2012

It Be International Talk Like A Pirate Day!

The Pastafarian Service Council wants to remind you that today, September 19th, be International Talk Like A Pirate Day.

As Slushy the Polar Bear says-

“Only you can prevent Global Warming.  Arrgh.”

PhotobucketAhoy mateys.  It be Cap’n Hank Bloodbeard hijacking your blog ag’in.  Since the establishin’ of International Talk Like a Pirate Day in 1995, the number of Pirates has increased gratifyin’ly thereby proving the success of our Pastafarian Pirate Recruitin’ Program and confirmin’ the link between increased piracy and declinin’ Global Warmin’.

But wait ye say, Global Warmin’ has gotten worse and Pastafarianism is a made up religion contrived out of equal measures of ennui, ignorance and Rum!

WHY IS THERE NEVER ANY RUM!  Oh, that’s why.

Ye scurvy dog, them be fightin’ wards.  Ye’ll walk the plank. I’ll keelhaul ye.  I’ll see your black hearted soul in Davey Jones Locker (the one ‘e shares w’ Peter Toth).

We used to worry about that too until we took up w’ a crew o’ Freshwater Pirates from the Chicago School who explained that it doesn’t matter how consistently and thoroughly wrong ye are if ye suck up to rich people enough and parrot their prejudices, beat down the po’ folk until morale improves, and kiss their ass long and hard.  Take what ye can, give nothin’ back, yo ho.

Polly want a grant?

E’en on these shores Cap’n Bloodbeard (aside from really enjoyin’ referin’ to hisself in the thard person) be known for ‘is trail of terror and carnage and really bad puns.

I generally celebrate International Talk Like a Pirate Day by telling the 3 Pirate Jokes.  There are only 3, all the others are just variations.  As Cap’n Slappy says:

Thar be only three pirate jokes in the world. The biggest one is the one that ends with someone usin’ “Arrr” in the punchline. Oh, sure, thar be plenty o’ these, but they’re all the same damn joke.

“What’s the pirate movie rated? – Arrr!”

“What kind o’ socks does a pirate wear? – Arrrrgyle!”

“What’s the problem with the way a pirate speaks? – Arrrrticulation!”

…and so forth.

The second joke is the one wear the pirate walks into the bar with a ships wheel attached to the front o’ his trousers. The bartender asks, “What the hell is that ships wheel for?” The pirate says, “I don’t know, but it’s drivin’ me nuts!”

And finally. A little boy is trick or treatin’ on Halloween by himself. He is dressed as a pirate. At one house, a friendly man asks him, “Where are your buccaneers?” The little boy responds, “On either side o’ me ‘buccan’ head!”

And there ye have it. A symposium on pirate humor that’ll last ye a lifetime – so long as life is violent and short.

If ye steer a course to the official website of International Talk Like A Pirate Day, ye may wish to read the FAQ, to help ye splice the mainbrace proper like.  Then ye’ll be ready to talk like a pirate.

Talking like a pirate, however, doesn’t just mean running through the hallways yelling “yarr!” at everyone. To get more in touch with one’s inner pirate, here is a short list of useful terms that may help readers throughout their day of pillaging and searching for buried treasure.

I also spend this day in Worship at Church and emulate the manners, customs, and language o’ me Pirate forbearers (I have the good fortune to be 1/4 full blooded Pirate through my Viking ancestors, indeed Viking is a verb which means ‘Pirate’) and singing some Pirate Carols.

There will come a time when you have a chance to do the right thing.

I love those moments. I like to wave at them as they pass by.

Sep 20 2012

It Be International Talk Lika A Pirate Day!

The Pastafarian Service Council wants to remind you that today, September 19th, be Talk Like A Pirate Day.

As Slushy the Polar Bear says-

“Only you can prevent Global Warming.  Arrgh.”

PhotobucketAhoy mateys.  It be Cap’n Hank Bloodbeard hijacking your blog ag’in.  Since the establishin’ of International Talk Like a Pirate Day in 1995, the number of Pirates has increased gratifyin’ly thereby proving the success of our Pastafarian Pirate Recruitin’ Program and confirmin’ the link between increased piracy and declinin’ Global Warmin’.

But wait ye say, Global Warmin’ has gotten worse and Pastafarianism is a made up religion contrived out of equal measures of ennui, ignorance and Rum!

WHY IS THERE NEVER ANY RUM!  Oh, that’s why.

Ye scurvy dog, them be fightin’ wards.  Ye’ll walk the plank. I’ll keelhaul ye.  I’ll see your black hearted soul in Davey Jones Locker (the one ‘e shares w’ Peter Toth).

We used to worry about that too until we took up w’ a crew o’ Freshwater Pirates from the Chicago School who explained that it doesn’t matter how consistently and thoroughly wrong ye are if ye suck up to rich people enough and parrot their prejudices, beat down the po’ folk until morale improves, and kiss their ass long and hard.  Take what ye can, give nothin’ back, yo ho.

Polly want a grant?

E’en on these shores Cap’n Bloodbeard (aside from really enjoyin’ referin’ to hisself in the thard person) be known for ‘is trail of terror and carnage and really bad puns.

I generally celebrate International Talk Like a Pirate Day by telling the 3 Pirate Jokes.  There are only 3, all the others are just variations.  As Cap’n Slappy says:

Thar be only three pirate jokes in the world. The biggest one is the one that ends with someone usin’ “Arrr” in the punchline. Oh, sure, thar be plenty o’ these, but they’re all the same damn joke.

“What’s the pirate movie rated? – Arrr!”

“What kind o’ socks does a pirate wear? – Arrrrgyle!”

“What’s the problem with the way a pirate speaks? – Arrrrticulation!”

…and so forth.

The second joke is the one wear the pirate walks into the bar with a ships wheel attached to the front o’ his trousers. The bartender asks, “What the hell is that ships wheel for?” The pirate says, “I don’t know, but it’s drivin’ me nuts!”

And finally. A little boy is trick or treatin’ on Halloween by himself. He is dressed as a pirate. At one house, a friendly man asks him, “Where are your buccaneers?” The little boy responds, “On either side o’ me ‘buccan’ head!”

And there ye have it. A symposium on pirate humor that’ll last ye a lifetime – so long as life is violent and short.

If ye steer a course to the official website of International Talk Like A Pirate Day, ye may wish to read the FAQ, to help ye splice the mainbrace proper like.  Then ye’ll be ready to talk like a pirate.

Talking like a pirate, however, doesn’t just mean running through the hallways yelling “yarr!” at everyone. To get more in touch with one’s inner pirate, here is a short list of useful terms that may help readers throughout their day of pillaging and searching for buried treasure.

I also spend this day in Worship at Church and emulate the manners, customs, and language o’ me Pirate forbearers (I have the good fortune to be 1/4 full blooded Pirate through my Viking ancestors, indeed Viking is a verb which means ‘Pirate’) and singing some Pirate Carols.

The Crimson Permanent Assurance

In the bleak days of nineteen-eighty-three, as England languished in the doldrums of a ruinous monetarist policy, the good and loyal men of the Permanent Assurance Company– a once-proud family firm, recently fallen in hard times– strained under the yoke of their oppressive new corporate management.

Pushed beyond the bounds of decent and reasonable victimisation, the aged retainers take their destiny in their own hands and– Mutiny!

And so, the Crimson Permanent Assurance was launched upon the high seas of international finance.

There it lay, the prize they sought, the richest jewel in the crown of the I.M.F.: a financial district swollen with multi-nationals, conglomerates, and fat, bloated merchant banks.

Hidden behind the faceless, towering canyons of glass, the world of high finance sat smug and self-satisfied as their future, in the shape of their past, slipped silently through the streets, returning to wreak a terrible revenge.

Adopting, adapting, and improving traditional business practices, the Permanent Assurance puts into motion an audacious and totally unsuspected takeover bid.

And so, heartened by their initial success, the desperate and reasonably violent men of the Permanent Assurance battled on… until, as the sun set slowly in the west, the outstanding return on their bold business venture became apparent: the once-proud financial giants lay in ruins, their assets stripped, their policies in tatters.

Full speed ahead, Mr. Cohen!

Up, up, up your premium. Up, up, up your premium.

Scribble away!

Up, up, up your premium.

And balance the books.

Up, up, up your premium.

Scribble away!

Up, up, up your premium.

But manage the books.

Up, up, up.

It’s fun to charter an accountant

And sail the wide accountancy,

To find, explore the funds offshore

And skirt the shoals of bankruptcy!

It can be manly in insurance.

We’ll up your premium semi-annually.

It’s all tax deductible.

We’re fairly incorruptible,

We’re sailing on the wide accountancy!

Sail away!

Up, up, up…

And so, they sailed off into the ledgers of history, one by one, the financial capitals of the world crumbling under the might of their business acumen,… or so it would have been… if certain modern theories concerning the shape of the world had not proved to be… disastrously wrong.

There will come a time when you have a chance to do the right thing.

I love those moments. I like to wave at them as they pass by.

More Pirate Carols below.