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December 05, 2010

"There's shelling on the Korean peninsula and ballroom dancing on TV. Happy 1952 , everybody!"*

(* title courtesy of Friend of the Mojo James Miller)...

American Psychosis: What happens to a society that cannot distinguish between reality and illusion?…

projectworldawareness.com | American Psychosis: What happens to a society that cannot distinguish between reality and illusion?…| by Chris Hedges, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the New York Times
Our culture of flagrant self-exaltation, hardwired in the American character, permits the humiliation of all those who oppose us. We believe, after all, that because we have the capacity to wage war we have a right to wage war. Those who lose deserve to be erased. Those who fail, those who are deemed ugly, ignorant or poor, should be belittled and mocked. Human beings are used and discarded like Styrofoam boxes that held junk food. And the numbers of superfluous human beings are swelling the unemployment offices, the prisons and the soup kitchens. It is the cult of self that is killing the United States. This cult has within it the classic traits of psychopaths: superficial charm, grandiosity and self-importance; a need for constant stimulation; a penchant for lying, deception and manipulation; and the incapacity for remorse or guilt. Michael Jackson, from his phony marriages to the portraits of himself dressed as royalty to his insatiable hunger for new toys to his questionable relationships with young boys, had all these qualities. And this is also the ethic promoted by corporations. It is the ethic of unfettered capitalism. It is the misguided belief that personal style and personal advancement, mistaken for individualism, are the same as democratic equality. It is the nationwide celebration of image over substance, of illusion over truth. And it is why investment bankers blink in confusion when questioned about the morality of the billions in profits they made by selling worthless toxic assets to investors. We have a right, in the cult of the self, to get whatever we desire. We can do anything, even belittle and destroy those around us, including our friends, to make money, to be happy and to become famous.

December 02, 2010

What food says about class in America - Newsweek

This is important stuff. I wish Newsweek weren't pitting "good food" against "no food" -- false dichotomy. What we need is good Federal food POLICY, rather than agribusiness corporate welfare. What Food Says About Class in America - Newsweek
But modern America is a place of extremes, and what you eat for dinner has become the definitive marker of social status; as the distance between rich and poor continues to grow, the freshest, most nutritious foods have become luxury goods that only some can afford.... What this means, in practical terms, is that the richest Americans can afford to buy berries out of season at Whole Foods—the upscale grocery chain that recently reported a 58 percent increase in its quarterly profits—while the food insecure often eat what they can: highly caloric, mass-produced foods like pizza and packaged cakes that fill them up quickly. The number of Americans on food stamps has surged by 58.5 percent over the last three years.... According to studies led by British epidemiologist Kate Pickett, obesity rates are highest in developed countries with the greatest income disparities. America is among the most obese of nations; Japan, with its relatively low income inequality, is the thinnest.... Even the locavore hero Pollan agrees. “Essentially,” he says, “we have a system where wealthy farmers feed the poor crap and poor farmers feed the wealthy high-quality food.”

December 01, 2010

Charlie Stross: Julian Assange of WikiLeaks deserves a Nobel Prize

Julian Assange, defending our democracies (despite their owners' wishes) - Charlie's Diary
The Nobel Peace Prize for 2011 should go to Julian Assange (if he lives long enough to receive it). You don't need me to point you at the huge mass of US diplomatic cables disclosed by wikileaks this week. Nor do you need me to point to the outrage it has generated, including calls for his assassination and, ludicrously, trial and execution for treason by the US government (Planet Earth to Mick Huckabee: by definition it's not treason if he's not an American citizen and isn't acting within the USA). But you might be wondering why he's doing it? If so, read this now. Around the world, governments seem to be more interested in obeying the goals of industry lobbyists and the rich than in actually governing well; this isn't an accident, but the outcome of the capture of the machinery of governance by groups of individuals who are self-selecting for adherence to a narrow ideological outlook. In effect we are beset by accidental authoritarian conspiracies — not top-down conspiracies led by a white-cat-stroking Bond villain, but unintentional ad-hoc conspiracies by groups of individuals who work together to promote common interests. By coordinating, they can gain control of our institutions and impose an agenda that is agreeable to their interests (but not to the majority of the public). Familiar examples might include: the music and film industries and their catspaws among the lobbyists attending the WIPO intellectual property negotiations, the oil and coal industries, the religious right, and so on. . . .