Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Quick Hits: Now with Sex, Death and Reading

That’s a Wide Load

I sometimes wonder if scientists talk to each other or read each others research.  A new study has come out that says that women with wider hips have more sex.  The reason they suspect has to do with ease of childbirth and less fear of having a child.


Did they completely ignore the research showing that women who don’t fit the stick thin ideal that the fashion houses and women’s rags promote are more likely to have sex because they are seeking affirmation of their attractiveness?

Women with wide hips aren’t less afraid of giving birth and therefore are less afraid of having sex.  Women with wide hips are afraid they aren’t as pretty as other women and therefore are more likely to use sex to feel desirable.

One in 25 on Death Row Likely Innocent

According to a new study, four percent (or one in every 25) of all defendants sentenced to death – and who are still on death row, are likely innocent of the crime of which they have been convicted.

To quote my youngest daughter’s famous line from kindergarten, “What the hell Josh?” (And soon after to her teacher who overheard: “It’s okay, it’s in the Bible. Besides, my mom says it all the time.)

Those revenge hungry, pro-death penalty folks will also quote the bible.  An eye for an eye they say.  But in every passage they quote, the person to be put to death is GUILTY. If we are unable to ensure that the people we are giving the ultimate penalty are actually guilty, then we have no business executing anyone at all.

Executing an innocent person is murder.  If I remember the commandments, somewhere around five or six on the “Thou shall not” hit parade is murder.  Whether you are a Christian or not, I think we all agree that murder is wrong and that is exactly what the death penalty is, or could be four percent of the time.

Oh, and the next time a pro-death penalty advocate decides to go all Old Testament on you, just give him the President Bartlett treatment.

Maycomb County goes Digital!

Harper Lee
For those of you who share my affinity for To Kill a Mockingbird, perhaps the greatest American novel, there is good news.  Author Harper Lee has given the okay for a digital release of her book. It comes out comes out July 8, the 54th anniversary of the book’s original release. 

I hope this opens up the beauty that is Mockingbird to a whole new audience.  It is a masterpiece that everyone should read.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Another Reason to Occupy Wall Street

You learn something new every day.  

Unfortunately, these days, it seems like I’m not learning anything that really makes me feel good.  At first, I thought it was me.  But the more I read, the more I learn, the more disillusioned I become, the more I realize it is the world around me and I’m just reacting the way any sane person would.

This excellent article in The Week is a perfect example. 

It turns out that one of the big drivers behind our faltering infrastructure in this country is the deregulation of the banking industry and the total Vegas-esque free-for-all that is the investment sector of the economy.

Because of the disproportionate growth of the financial sector, money is no longer flowing to infrastructure or R & D investment.  In its simplest terms, the Wild West Wall Street investors are looking for short-term profits.  Investment in infrastructure and R & D is a long-term investment in the future.

To quote the article:

The deregulation of the financial sector — promoted by Republican and Democratic administrations — has changed America from an economy focused on sustainable growth toward a free-for-all for the wealthy.
This change is called "financialization." The financial sector has grown to almost 8 percent of GDP, from about 4 percent in Reagan's time. That the financial sector has grown isn't necessarily a problem; what is a problem is that it has grown faster than the rest of the economy. The purpose of the financial sector is to facilitate investment in a wide array of activities — to grease the wheels of the economy, so to speak. If the rest of the economy doesn't grow along with the financial sector, it is not fulfilling that purpose.

So, instead of money flowing to things like building/repairing bridges and roads and sewer systems that create good middle class jobs (which raises the ability of the masses to consume which helps grow the economy), money is being gambled back and forth at the Wall Street craps table where all the money goes back into the pockets of the gamblers. 

Oh, and the occasional hooker.

When you combine that with the historically low taxes on this type of income and the growing wealth and income disparity, cities and states no longer have the cash (or financing) available to keep our roads from crumbling from beneath our feet.

There is more to this story than that, but that is the gist.  Not only did the tax payers have to bail out the “too big to fail” banks, but now they are back to screwing us so that they can make even more profit.

We have to put some common sense back into our economy.  The richest among us should be taxed at a much higher rate, Wall Street needs to be regulated, and investment in infrastructure, in our country's future, should be rewarded.

It seems so simple when I say it out loud, but it doesn't make me feel any better.