Miscellany14: Cannibalism – Alive and Well in America; Tort Reform; The American System of Waste; The Bishop of London; Athena to Telemachus; The State of the US Economy; A Glimmer of Hope; Murder Is a Local Matter, unless It Has Political Potential; Will President Bush Be Assassinated in 2006?; The Quality of Life in Haiti under Democracy; American Grammar Has Gone to the Dogs!; No Spare Time; Jesse Jackson; Lester Brown’s Plan B Didn’t Work – On to Plan C!; The Loss of Free Television; Remembering Pearl Harbor
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Commentary on recent news, reading and events of personal interest.
A few years ago, my wife and I were staying in a tourist
resort near Etosha Pan in
My wife was very surprised at this use of the word, “to harvest.” Previously, she had thought of “harvesting” as the collection of food that had been grown by man, and that the killing of wildlife should not be referred to as “harvesting.” Well, it appears that our hostess’ use of the term was quite correct. Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition defines the noun harvest as: (1) the season for gathering in agricultural crops; (2) the act or process of gathering in a crop; (3) (a) a mature crop (as of grain or fruit); yield; (b) the quantity of a natural product gathered in a single season (deer crop, ice crop); (4) an accumulated store or productive result; and the verb to harvest as (1) (a) to gather in (a crop); reap; (b) to gather, catch, hunt, or kill (as salmon, oysters, or deer) for human use, sport, or population control; (c) to remove or extract (as living cells, tissues, or organs) from culture or a living or recently deceased body, especially for transplanting; (2) (a) to accumulate a store of; (b) to win by achievement.
On the February 3, 2006, edition of the NBC Today show, hostess Katy Couric presented a feature on a “domino” transplant operation, in which one baby received the heart and lungs of a baby who had just died, and a second baby received the heart from the heart-and-lung recipient. The act of removing the dead baby’s organs was referred to as “harvesting” those organs. As in the case of the giraffe, the use of the term “harvesting” to refer to the removal of organs from dead babies had a rather “jarring” effect.
In both of the preceding instances, the term “harvest” is somewhat of a euphemism. The “harvesting” of the giraffe would better have been described as “killing” or “slaughtering” a giraffe for food, and the taking of body parts from one dead human baby in order to extend the life of another human baby would have better been described as “cannibalization.”
On the Today show, Ms. Couric asked the mother of the baby receiving the heart and lungs from a donor baby how she felt about what was happening. Her response was that she had felt guilty praying for a heart and lungs for her baby, since she knew that that was tantamount to praying for the death of another baby (i.e., the donor). When you get into cannibalism, there are some difficult moral choices.
The consumption of body parts from cadavers in medical
operations has exploded in the
Today, in the
Wait a minute, you may protest. Cannibalism refers just to eating of one’s own species, you may claim. Not so. The following definitions appear in Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition (1996). Cannibalize: (1) to take salvageable parts from (as a disabled machine) for use in building or repairing another machine; (2) to make use of (a part taken from one thing) in building or repairing something else. Cannibalism: (1) the usually ritualistic eating of human flesh by a human being; (2) the eating of the flesh of an animal by another animal of the same kind; (3) an act of cannibalizing something. Cannibal: one that eats the flesh of its own kind. To eat means to consume. According to these definitions, the use of parts from one body in another is cannibalizing the dead body, and the user, who has consumed the dead part, is a cannibal.
The only difference between the cannibalization in the case of the shipwreck and the cannibalization taking place in our hospitals is that no money was involved in the former, and lots of money is involved in the latter. Once you start to worship Mammon, nothing remains sacred. Our society frowned on cannibalizing human corpses as ghoulish when no money was to be made, but now promotes it with enthusiasm when large amounts of money are in the offing.
Last year, Congress passed the Class Action Fairness Act
(CAFA), aimed at reforming some of the worst abuses. The
I have written previously that elimination of the “contingent fee” system, by which a lawyer receives 33-40 percent of the award, after his expenses, would do much to fix the system. In other areas of contract, such as research and development contracts funded by the US Government, the use of contingent fees is illegal. In addition, the American practice of allowing jurors to award millions of dollars to defendants, simply on whim or on the basis of emotional appeal from an articulate lawyer, is silly.
The Business Week article presented an interesting table comparing the American system of tort law to the European system.
A tale of two systems. Western Europeans smoke, take Vioxx, and buy Firestone tires, too. But when they get injured, claims are handled far differently. Here’s a simplified summary of the key differences between their system and ours…
National insurance plans cover most health costs.
Private coverage means more uninsured citizens and higher personal exposure.
Emotional and punitive damages
Payments for emotional distress restricted. Punitives nonexistent.
Potential for lottery-like winnings for a small percentage of victims.
Payment rulings made by administrative judges with fee schedules
Justice is dispensed by ordinary citizens. No scientific or business expertise required.
Qu’est-ce que c’est?
Plaintiff’s lawyers rake in 33% to 40% of their client’s winnings.
…and how they play out for all involved
Size of awards
Much smaller. Even extreme emotional distress does not lead to larger awards.
Much bigger. Thanks to sympathetic juries, multimillion-dollar verdicts common.
Speed of payment
Faster. No adversarial process. Less room for pretrial maneuvering or appeals.
Slower. It can take years for victims to recover their money.
Much smaller. Very few call themselves plaintiff’s attorneys.
More than 1 million, some 10% to 15% of whom represent plaintiffs.
Less elaborate pretrial discovery equals fewer smoking guns.
Battles that should be won in court are won in press – but public learns more.
While visiting my sister at her home in
The cost of most commodities is basically a reflection of how much energy has been expended to produce the item. The new HDTVs cost so much more because much energy has been expended in the research, development and production of those items. Since the current system of television is quite adequate for entertainment purposes, one must ask why society is expending so much of its limited – and fast disappearing – energy resources in an unnecessary improvement. Not only are the new models far more expensive, but, in an instant, the old models will be made obsolete (since the picture under the new system will appear as a narrow “letterbox” on the old models).
My friend Gordon, who lives in
I was watching the movie, Ulysses, a few months ago (starring Armand Asanti as Ulysses). There is a scene in which the goddess Athena says to Telemachus (the son of Ulysses and Penelope), “Remember that the gods will not do for man what man must do for himself.”
The following article was posted on Internet website CounterPunch, at http://www.counterpunch.org/roberts02112006.html , Weekend Edition, February 11/12, 2006.
Nuking the Economy by Paul Craig Roberts
Last week the Bureau of Labor Statistics re-benchmarked the payroll jobs data back to 2000. Thanks to Charles McMillion of MBG Information Services, I have the adjusted data from January 2001 through January 2006. If you are worried about terrorists, you don’t know what worry is.
Job growth over the last five years
is the weakest on record. The
Over the past five years the
The declines in some manufacturing sectors have more in common with a country undergoing saturation bombing during war than with a super-economy that is “the envy of the world.” Communications equipment lost 43% of its workforce. Semiconductors and electronic components lost 37% of its workforce. The workforce in computers and electronic products declined 30%. Electrical equipment and appliances lost 25% of its employees. The workforce in motor vehicles and parts declined 12%. Furniture and related products lost 17% of its jobs. Apparel manufacturers lost almost half of the work force. Employment in textile mills declined 43%. Paper and paper products lost one-fifth of its jobs. The work force in plastics and rubber products declined by 15%. Even manufacturers of beverages and tobacco products experienced a 7% shrinkage in jobs.
The knowledge jobs that were supposed to take the place of lost manufacturing jobs in the globalized “new economy” never appeared. The information sector lost 17% of its jobs, with the telecommunications work force declining by 25%. Even wholesale and retail trade lost jobs. Despite massive new accounting burdens imposed by Sarbanes-Oxley, accounting and bookkeeping employment shrank by 4%. Computer systems design and related lost 9% of its jobs. Today there are 209,000 fewer managerial and supervisory jobs than 5 years ago.
In five years the
Offshore outsourcing and offshore
production have left the
Unemployment benefits were intended to help people over the down time in the cycle when workers were laid off. Today the unemployment is permanent as entire occupations and industries are wiped out by labor arbitrage as corporations replace their American employees with foreign ones.
Economists who look beyond
political press releases estimate the
Unless the BLS is falsifying the
data or businesses are reporting the opposite of the facts, the
They were wrong.
At a time when
No sane economist can possibly maintain that a deplorable record of merely 1,054,000 net new private sector jobs over five years is an indication of a healthy economy. The total number of private sector jobs created over the five year period is 500,000 jobs less than one year’s legal and illegal immigration! (In a December 2005 Center for Immigration Studies report based on the Census Bureau’s March 2005 Current Population Survey, Steven Camarota writes that there were 7,9 million new immigrants between January 2000 and March 2005.)
The economics profession has failed
On February 10 the Commerce
Department released a record
Polls indicate that the Bush
administration is succeeding in whipping up fear and hysteria about
Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org .
Most of the
Under the US Constitution, the crime of murder was always a
local matter, under state, not federal jurisdiction. That changed with the Civil Rights Act of
1964, when murder of someone could be considered a federal crime, if the crime
could be construed as an act that infringed on a person’s “civil rights.” This begs the question, of course: what more
important “civil right” could a person have than a right to life? In other words, any murder that was of
political interest could be investigated and prosecuted using the
law-enforcement and judicial resources of the federal government. A curious aspect of the current mass
immigration crisis is that thousands of US citizens are being raped, injured
and killed by the 20 million illegal aliens in the country, and these murders
are all being left to local law enforcement to deal with. The
The following piece was posted on the FaithForum.org website
Predictions for 2006:
1 - Assassination of George W. Bush
2 - Corruption in The United States and lots of Bombing
3 - Problems inside Tony Blair Government the result is collapse
4 - Death of Algerian President Abdelaziz Boutaflika
5 - More problems in
7 - Israel Prime Minister Sharon- lose his place
8 - Death of Palestine President
9 - More Corruption in
10 - More corruption and bombing in
11 - Death of Saddam Hussein after long years of sickness
Dr Hassen Charni is a Tunisian astrologist. He became famous by predicting Princess Diana's death in a horrific car accident 11 months before it happened.
On Arabia TV on 1st of January 2004 he predicted the death of Arafat in very fishy and unexplained circumstances towards the end of 2004.
Dr Charni predicted by the end of
2004, the Tsunami that hit the coast of the
On December 2004 Dr Charni
predicted "strong blasts that will rock
Dr Charni holds a doctorate in astrophysics he is the vice president of international astrology federation, he is a special adviser to many prominent and influential figures around the world.
In an interview to a Tunisian paper released on December 20th, Dr Charni, gave some forecasts for the year 2006.
According to astrological signs the next year is going to be critical on political and socio-economic levels.
It will be a year of huge crises and terrorism as well.
Many terrorist acts will take place all around the world. The world will go through freak weather, climate will see dramatic changes and hazardous consequences, flooding and drought will burst out at any moments of the year, hurricanes rain storms will be common on many areas. Many towns around the world will swamp.
According to Dr. Charni the year
2006, will see a rise of Iraqi Resistance Operations against the American army,
which will be in a situation worse than
The trial of Saddam Hussein will face
a tragic end after his disease, then his death, the situation of anarchy will
According to Dr Charni, anti Bush
and anti war movements will be organized in
Dr. Charni forecasts strong social
disturbances in European countries, especially in
Dr. Charni forecasts a large fire in a French city, a huge rail accident, a great traffic accident which will cost the life of many people, Dr. Charni predicts also a terrorist act as well as the death of Johnny Halliday.
According to Dr. Charni the
He predicts also the appearance of new information concerning the role of Mossad, the CIA, Ben Laden and Zarqaoui in the attacks of September 11.
[End of Charni article.]
Now, as you know if you read my articles, I do not put much
faith in prophecies that include specific dates. I myself have made a number of predictions,
but they are based on logical reasoning, not on astrology. If you make enough predictions about famous
people, some of them are bound to come true, since they, as all human beings,
become sick, die, and have automobile accidents. Charni’s prediction that
The issue that I wish to address here is Charni’s prediction that President George W. Bush will be assassinated in 2006. What do I think of this? Well, Bush is playing a very dangerous game. Throughout history, leaders of nations have waged war. War, in fact, has been referred to as the “sport of kings.” But in most cases, kings do not target kings. It is not a good strategy tactic for a king. If kings are not targeted, then, win or lose, a king keeps his life. The stratagem of not killing kings has evidently been a tacit agreement among the world’s leaders throughout much of history. In fact, Machiavelli observes that a very good strategy for taking over a conquered nation is to keep the old leaders in place, and leave the job of administering their country to them, while they are henceforth beholden to their conqueror.
But Bush has chosen not to do this. Instead, after conquering
But the case of Saddam Hussein is somewhat different. In this case, Bush has turned Hussein over to a court comprised of and conducted by his former enemies, knowing with virtual certainty that his enemies will put him to death. Bush has conquered another nation, and has decided to execute its former leader, albeit vicariously via a kangaroo court of his enemies.
The problem that Bush has caused for himself is that he
lives in a very “open” society. It is
said of Hussein that when he was a dictator, he surrounded himself with 15,000
secret police. Bush has a small
contingent of Secret Service protecting him, and will have even few protecting
him when he retires. Saddam Hussein has
many loyal followers, and, with the open borders that Bush allows in the
My view is that by going after Hussein, Bush has placed himself in grave danger, and that it is likely that he will be assassinated, if not by one of Hussein’s adherents, then likely by an Arab. Will this be in 2006? I have absolutely no way of knowing. It is worth noting that Bush’s term ends next January, after which time he becomes a private citizen and his Secret Service protection is lessened, and his vulnerability to assassination increases substantially.
I worked in
It is now common to hear, on American television, a plural pronoun or verb referring to a singular antecedent, e.g.,: “Everyone has their own point of view.” Just as jarring is the use of a dual entity, such as “Everyone has his or her own point of view.” What is wrong with the grammatically correct, and shorter, “Everyone has his point of view.”
The cover of last week’s Spartanburg Herald-Journal “Select TV” television guide featured a snowboarder, with the headline, “Who to watch.” To a person educated in the 1950s, this is very jarring. What is wrong with using the correct expression, “Whom to watch.” Is the new generation of Americans too lazy to bother to use proper grammar? Are our schools no longer teaching it? When I was in high school, there was a public uproar over the cigarette commercial, “Winston tastes good, like a cigarette should.” You now hear “like” in place of “as” on a routine basis.
A few months ago, my wife and I saw the movie, The Legend of Zorro, starring Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones. This was a sequel to the movie, The Mask of Zorro, released in 1998 and starring, in addition to Banderas and Zeta-Jones, Anthony Hopkins.
The most amazing thing about this movie was the fact that, although it was totally concerned with swordfighting, not a single scene was shown in which anyone actually got stuck with a sword. I found this absolutely amazing.
But then, during the recent Christmas holidays, we saw C. S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The same thing! Lots of sword fighting, but no one ever gets stuck with a sword! Is this political correctness gone berserk?
The total absence of sword injuries causes the Narnia movie great damage. A key scene is where the elder brother, Peter Pevensie (played by William Moseley), fights an evil wolf. Peter is armed with a sword. All he does in this scene is “rotate,” with his sword pointed at the wolf, while the wolf threatens him. Finally, the wolf springs on him, and Peter falls to the ground under the wolf. The audience sees nothing that hints of any violence. It turns out that the wolf is dead, however, and Peter gets up from under him. Evidently, the wolf “killed himself” by “falling” on Peter’s sword. Peter is absolved of all blame, responsibility, and accountability for the wolf’s death. Peter is now proclaimed head of the army.
But in the book there is a clear – and logical – link to the wolf’s death and Peter’s being proclaimed head of the army. Peter bravely faced the wolf, and actively killed it. The wolf did not accidentally cause his own demise by falling on Peter’s sword. In the movie scene, Orieus, the centaur general of Narnia, must play the role of professing fealty to Peter, but the look on his face clearly reveals the contempt that he feels for Peter as a frightened little boy afraid to take any action that might harm the wolf.
The scene with the wolf was a crucial, pivotal scene in the story. Without this scene, Peter would never have displayed the courage and prowess necessary for him to be proclaimed leader of the Narnian army. By absolving Peter from all responsibility for killing an enemy, the director has made an illogical, nonsensical, non-sequitur sham of the entire story.
Chronicles of Narnia is a Christian allegory. It is a popular, powerful series of
children’s books, and should not have been “gutted” of its moral lessons. Is this foolishness simply an example of
political correctness gone awry in the extreme, or one more example of
When I was a boy in the early 1950s, nuclear power was just coming on the scene, and petroleum reserves seemed infinite. You often heard the comment that nuclear power would be “too cheap to meter.” With the tremendous supply of power, there was talk that the main problem facing Americans would be what to do with their spare time, since machines would be able to do most of the work.
How ridiculous this view was! The work week did decline from 44 hours in the 1940s (most people had to work Saturday morning) to 40 hours in the 1950s. But, despite the fact that a seemingly endless supply of energy was available for Americans, the work week never shrank any further. In fact, it eventually happened that the American wife had to enter the labor market just for the family to be able to afford to own a home, and many middle-class men are now forced to take two jobs, just to make ends meet.
What happened? Well,
what happened is that the wealthy plutocrats that control the
The wealthy American aristocracy could not stand having a
middle class that enjoyed a high standard of living and good quality of
life. That way of life has now been
largely destroyed. The
Spare time? Forget it! If a large middle class can have spare time and a good quality of life, what is the point of being rich?
Early last year (2005), Jesse Jackson levied false charges
of racism against Toyota Motor Company, blackmailing them into spending
millions of dollars for black social programs.
In January of this year (
Of course, the
A couple of months ago, Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute (formerly WorldWatch Institute) published a book called Plan B 2.0 (Norton, 2006) “Plan B” refers to the fact that “Plan A,” which is what the world has been doing to date, didn’t work (to stop the planet from environmental destruction. Unfortunately, there is nothing new here. Plan B is more commentary on how overpopulation and economic activity are destroying the planet, and more “hand wringing” about how the destruction will be terminal if we don’t do something about it fast.
The world has been executing Plan B for decades, and nothing has changed. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results (although this approach does work in single-deck Blackjack and poker, and there is nothing insane about that!).
This is what Lester Brown and others have been writing for five decades. The fact is, the world leaders are not going to do anything to stop large-scale human population and economic activity / industrial production from destroying the planet. Under Lester Brown’s Plan B, the large human population and industrial activity would continue.
Plan A did not work, and Plan B did not work. It is now time for Plan C: Global nuclear warfare to destroy the mass industrialization that is destroying the planet. (Note, to stop the flood of protesting e-mails and weblog tongue-wagging: Once again, I am not advocating global nuclear war, or war of any kind. What I am saying is that these things will happen, and the real leaders of the planet should prepare to take over when the current system is destroyed.)
Before reading Plan B, the reader would do well to read Jared Diamond’s Collapse (Penguin/Viking, 2005), and visit the “Dieoff” website at http://www.dieoff.com .
By the way, Plan B is excellent reading, and I highly recommend that you do read it. It contains many interesting facts and observations. For example, it points out that now that global oil production is stalling, and the price of oil has gone so high, it is now economically profitable to use cereal grains that were previously used for food as a source for ethanol alcohol and biodiesel vehicle fuel. Because of the insatiable and growing demand for vehicle fuel, the use of grains for fuel rather than for food will increase. This is the beginning of the mass famine that will spread over the planet as global oil production declines.
In this connection, I was interested to see Willie Nelson on
television a few weeks ago, promoting his brand of “biodiesel” fuel. Did you know that in the
It is interesting to see history fade from one generation to
another. When I was a boy, we still
celebrated Armistice Day,
It is interesting to compare what has happened to Pear
Harbor Day, and what happened in
Social Change in
If we extend our survey from the
A foreign observer who visited
the Old South in the fifth decade of the twentieth century would assuredly pick
out Virginia and South Carolina as the two States in which there was least sign
or promise of recovery; and he would be astonished to find the effects of even
so great a social catastrophe as theirs persisting so starkly over so long a
period. In these States the memory of that catastrophe is as green in our
generation as if the blow had fallen only yesterday; and ‘the War' still means
the Civil War on many Virginian and South Carolinian lips, though two fearful
wars have since supervened. In fact, twentieth-century
What explains the springlike
burgeoning of life in
The earlier failure of
[End of Toynbee quote.]
It is important to note that this piece was written by
Toynbee in 1946. I lived in
Last year, I returned to
When I was younger, television in the
In the 1980s, the industry changed. “Cable” television was introduced. Under this system, the signals were transmitted by cable, or by cable and air. When it was introduced, a major selling point for cable TV was that there would be no commercials. It was also advertised that there would be more channels than just the three major networks, and that the signal quality would be very high quality.
When I first signed up for cable TV, I lived in
The sad thing that has happened over the last two decades is
that the major networks stopped worrying about providing good reception over
large areas. Here in
In a capitalist society, the government does not want the middle class to receive free services. The receipt of free services is reserved for people who are on “welfare,” or for illegal aliens.