An Inclusive Litany
I really believe that inside me there is just this big black person that keeps trying to get out. There is so much soul in R&B, and soul for me is just the most important thing. And I relate to people who have a lot of it.
Citizens for Tax Justice ... reported that almost half of those Americans in the bottom 60 percent of income earners—more than 32 million individuals and families—will receive no rebates [under the new tax bill]....
Michele Davis, a Treasury Department spokeswoman, said: "We have a single statistic: One hundred percent of the people with income tax liability will receive a rebate."
[CTJ director Robert] McIntyre said "that is a fair statement."
[Ed.: Following the bill's passage, a coalition of more than 500 organizations called Fair Taxes for All charged that the tax cut was not just unwise but immoral. Many organized an appeal to direct rebate checks their way, so that they could more effectively address various progressive concerns, among which to expose the immorality of the tax cut. Seemingly, these groups should be asking the public to send rebate checks back to the government, where the money presumably belongs. (A little-known fact: if you send the IRS extra money, hey, they'll take it!) Simply put, these groups are either greedy and have no standing to criticize the vice in others as they benefit from the tax cut they deplore, or implicitly acknowledge that they are more effective than the government at addressing their agenda items, thereby validating a non-coerced free-market approach in that arena.]
Environmental attorney Robert F. Kennedy Jr. claimed that "Vieques has the highest rate of infant mortality and cancer in Puerto Rico." But the Puerto Rico Health Department noted that the statistics this claim was based on simply left out the years 1996 through 1998, which if counted in would have shown a lower rate of infant mortality than on the mainland. Also, the alarming claim about cancer rates was taken from a data set that showed, largely due the small population of Vieques, the cancer mortality rate fluctuated dramatically, alternately higher and lower than that of the mainland. Activists merely picked the year that best served their cause. The overall rate is actually much lower than that of many major U.S. cities.
A recent report prepared by the Canadian government by a panel of marine experts points to another unexpected cause of the decline [in seal hunting off the coast of Newfoundland]. In the past, hunters benefited from a market for seal penises, which some Asians believe to be an aphrodisiac. The report cites "the increased use of Viagra as a substitute for seal penises."
Sales are "way down" from a few years ago, says Sang-Jo Chung, who runs an herbal-remedies shop in Toronto's Korean district. Mr. Chung points to a leathery 10-inch seal penis on display in the glass case, which he says has been sitting unsold for more than four months.
A few years ago, Mr. Chung says he would sell 20 or so penises a year, and he has had to lower the price to about $70 down from more than $103. "I think it's Viagra," he says.
Ireland cut taxes in 1986 as a supply-side response to a massive and intractable government budget crisis, and has been cutting them aggressively ever since. Since 1995, Ireland's growth rate has been 9.4 percent, compared to the EU's modest 2.6 percent, and compared to its own abysmal rate of less than half a percent prior to the policy change. Government revenues from personal income taxes have increased fivefold over fifteen years. Revenues from its capital gains tax, Europe's lowest, have increased sixfold between 1993 and 1998.
[Ed.: For a strange expression of pan-European aspirations, see captaineuro.com. Or perhaps it's just a joke.]
[Ed.: In the wake of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in September, polls by Gallup and Zogby found that African Americans are more likely than other racial groups to favor profiling and stringent airport security checks for Arabs and Arab-Americans.]
I am a few years younger, but I belong to the same generation as W. Bush and Quayle. I know how many classes we skipped, how much we partied, how much TV we watched. I have a generational sense of the vacancy in their state because I share it. I myself don't know what I am doing a good forty percent of the time. I am now the kind of white-haired, thick-waisted, superficially presentable male who people give responsibility to and ask directions of on the street. And often I'm just making it up. The situation is one I've become quite familiar with—I'm asked a question, no answer presents itself in my brain, and I begin to answer anyway. My mouth moves and words come out, propelled perhaps by pure syntax or by momentum of language, while I watch from a distance, as curious as anybody to hear what I'm going to say. And somehow words do emerge, and my listeners somehow accept them as an answer representing thought and knowledge, and I alone, apparently, know that no thought or knowledge was involved.
Steere has criticized some practititioners' willingness to prescribe unnecessary long-term intravenous antibiotics, which leads to liver problems, severe infections, immune suppression, and the emergence of resistant bacterial strains. Steere has also taken insurance companies to task for recognizing the bogus disease rather than pay for more expensive psychiatric treatment of psychosomatic disorders.
Included in the list of 9,239 businesses were: 7 Lakes Country Club, A Better You Plastic Surgery Medical Group, All Eyez On Me Hair Studio, Amity Pen Co., Anheuser-Busch Sales of San Diego, Anytime Towing, Baseline Whatta Steak, Baskin-Robbins, Beverly Hills Liquor & Deli, Big Burrito Kingdom, Boom Boom Room, Burger King, Busy Bee Quality Cleaners, Caruthers Raisin Packing Co., Cash It Here, Church of Scientology Mission of San Francisco, City of Beverly Hills, College Soap Opera 24 Hour Laundry & Deli, Critters of the Cinema, Crumbs of Paris, Crusty Tart Bakery, Crystal Magic, Doty Donuts, El Taco Loco, Enanto Drive-in Liquor, Expert Nails, Fantastic Burgers, Five Cities Swim Club, Gardana Bowling Center, Genzyme Genetics, Gucci America Inc., Happy Teriyaki and Sandwiches, House of Blues, Imagymnation Gymnastics Center, Italy's Italian Restaurant, Jehovah's Witnesses, L.A. Dance Connection, Las Dos Victorias Candy, Lortons Fresh Squeezed Juices, Los Gatos Swim & Racquet Club, Mr. Ralph's Café, Pacific Coast Chocolates, Pinoy-Pinay Filipino Fastfood Restaurant, Poochies Bathhouse, Quality Discount Ice Cream, Rodeo Land Co., SeaWorld, Sharpshooter Range, Sick Dogs Tattoo, Snowy Pines Christmas Trees, Stevedoring Services of America, Stevie G's Prime Time Pizza, T-Shirt Mart, Uptown Touchless Car Wash, and Valencia Pancakes.
The study of the history of a disease can provide clues to its pathogenesis. We note a possible case of antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) nearly three thousand years ago in the biblical figure Samson (Judges, Chapters 13-16), son of Manoah. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders requires that three of seven criteria be met for the diagnosis of ASPD. Samson meets six:
- Failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behavior: The Philistines tried to arrest Samson after he burned the Philistine fields (15:5) and went to Gaza (16:1).
- Deceitfulness, as indicated by repeated lying: Samson did not tell his parents that he had killed a lion. Furthermore, he proffered honey for his parents to eat but did not tell them it had come from the carcass of a lion (14:9), and thus caused them to violate their dietary laws.
- Impulsivity: He burned the Philistine fields (15:5).
- Irritability and aggressiveness: Samson was repeatedly involved in physical fights.
- Reckless disregard for safety of self or others: Samson is reported to have taken on and killed one thousand Philistines single-handedly (15:15). He also told Delilah the secret to his strength (16:17), even after she had attempted three times previously to get this secret.
- Lack of remorse: He gloated (15:16) after killing one thousand men.
In addition, Samson committed many of the actions listed in the criteria for conduct disorder—fire setting, cruelty to small animals (15:5), bullying, initiating physical fights, and using a weapon (jawbone of ass, 15:15). Samson's conduct was considered unacceptable in his time: three thousand Israelites (Samson's own people!) captured him and delivered him to the Philistines (15:12).
Recognition of the diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder for Samson may help us not only to understand the biblical story better but also to recognize instances when a contemporary leader suffers from ASPD.
Refugees can languish in camps for decades....
When American film producer Caroline Baron worked in Kosovo and Macedonia, she was struck by the boredom of the displaced, who had nothing to distract them from their traumas.
Baron dreamed up a project she thought would bring "hopeful entertainment and laughter" to children and exiles [by sending] projectors and films into the camps for Kosovo refugees in April 1999. Now her project, FilmAid International, is taking wing....
FilmAid's library has expanded from Charlie Chaplin movies, cartoons and "Titanic" to include education material on... sexual and gender-based violence and conflict resolution.
And to avoid giving offense, the Los Angeles Times officially discouraged use of the words "sneak attack" when describing the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, preferring the term "surprise attack" instead.
When asked for a specific reference for this claim, Kennedy's office directed reporters to Richard Dieter, author of The Death Penalty in Black & White: Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Decides. Dieter's actual claim is that "Race is more likely to affect death sentencing than smoking affects the likelihood of dying from heart disease."
"He kind of paraphrased it," explained Kennedy spokesman Larry Berman.
If Bill Clinton was, as poet Maya Angelou put it [sic], "America's first black president," then George W. Bush is trying to sound (and dress) a lot like our first Hispanic president.The Christian Science Monitor, May 14, 2001:
Leaders of the African-American community fondly called Bill Clinton America's "first black president." Now, his successor in the Oval Office seems intent on becoming the first Latino one.Richard Rodriguez in the New York Times, May 21, 2001:
Some years ago, the novelist Toni Morrison, in a Time essay, proclaimed Bill Clinton America's first black president. Leaving aside the affront to American blacks that Ms. Morrison's conceit carries today, it might be useful to regard George Bush as America's first Hispanic president.
Exploring Old English texts ranging from Beowulf to Ælfric's Lives of Saints, this book examines ways that women's monastic, material, and devotional practices in Anglo-Saxon England shaped literary representations of women and femininity. Horner argues that these representations derive from a "discourse" of female monastic enclosure, based on the increasingly strict rules of cloistered confinement that regulated the female religious body in the early Middle Ages. She shows that the female subjects of much Old English literature are enclosed by many layers—literal and figurative, textual, material, discursive, spatial—all of which image and reinforce the powerful institutions imposed by the Church on the female body. Though it has long been recognized that medieval religious women were enclosed, and that virginity was highly valued, this book is the first to consider the interrelationships of these two positions—that is, how the material practices of female monasticism inform the textual operations of Old English literature.
"This is an important and inventive book. Horner uses a supple argument about the discourse of female enclosure—enclosure in a monastery, enclosure in the body, and enclosure in a text—to link feminist reading of four Old English works not usually read together...."
—Jonathan Wilcox, editor of Humour in Anglo-Saxon Literature
Similar purchasing decisions nearly sent the neighboring state of Arizona into bankruptcy. What was originally intended as a modest $3 million initiative to encourage the use of alternative-fuel vehicles quickly led to a half-billion-dollar boondoggle that some called The Great Pickup Stick-Up.
The state offered consumers generous rebates and tax credits that, coupled with federal incentives, slashed the price of pickup trucks equipped with alt-fuel converters by more than half. Consumers only had to pledge to burn 100 gallons of propane or condensed natural gas—a few refills—but there was nothing stopping them from filling up with gasoline. As a result, what was originally intended to reduce pollution by targeting the worst-offending vehicles led far more people to purchase them.
As word of the subsidies spread, car dealers increased prices of popular truck models as demand rose, and consumers added all the expensive accessories they could think of, knowing that taxpayers would pay for them. Large corporations such as car rental agencies took the opportunity to purchase entire fleets of vehicles at half the usual cost. Many Arizonans disconnected their alt-fuel systems immediately after having them installed, with little fear of penalties since it was all being done on the honor system.
The botched policy led to political scandal and even criminal probes. The program's main political sponsor, former State House Speaker Jeff Groscost, was found to have purchased two new trucks of his own under the program, had close ties with manufacturers of alt-fuel conversion kits, gave interested parties a direct hand in writing the law, and received tens of thousands of dollars consulting for the program's potential beneficiaries in the natural gas industry.
In an emergency session, the Arizona legislature voted to shut out 10,000 to 15,000 of the program's participants, saving $400 million. But some of these angry shutouts filed a class action lawsuit demanding that Arizona abide by their original agreement.
Unlike Arizona, California isn't subsidizing consumers to buy alternative fuel vehicles. Instead, it's punishing producers.
In 1990, the California Air Resources Board decreed that, starting in 2003, 10 percent of all cars sold in the state (roughly 170,000 vehicles) would have to be zero-emission electric vehicles (ZEVs). In 1996, that requirement was reduced to 2 percent (22,000), though automakers were still required to make up for the 8 percent in extremely low-emission vehicles (LEVs). Two years from the deadline, there are roughly 2,200 electric cars operating on California's roads, mostly owned by novelty seekers or affluent environmental activists. There is no sign that automakers will be able to meet the deadline, despite the threat of being fined $5,000 per unsold vehicle.
Although there has been extensive research into battery technology, electric cars remain relatively uneconomical, costing about $20,000 more than their conventional counterparts. Top-of-the-line batteries can take a car 100 miles between charges, but cost $250,000. GM's two-seat EV-1 gets 75 miles to the average charge, but its lead-acid cell battery still adds 60 percent to the cost and weight of the car and takes 5 hours to recharge.
With all the auto manufacturers frantically chasing after a major share of a tiny market, General Motors sued the state of California for regulatory relief, contending that building ZEVs was 150 times costlier than other pollution abatement strategies such as eliminating diesel fuel and encouraging gas/electric hybrid vehicles. Worn-out batteries are also difficult to dispose of, and it is a stretch to refer to electric vehicles as "zero-emission" when the generating plants they rely on emit pollutants.
Cars powered by hydrogen fuel cells operate under a similar set of trade-offs as electric vehicles. While hydrogen burns without pollutants and releases even more energy than fossil fuels, it's not lying around waiting to be stuffed into high-pressure bottles, but rather must be detached from natural compounds such as methane gas or water. Current fuel-cell technology relies on hydrogen extracted from methane, in a process that emits large quantities of greenhouse gases. Domestic sources of methane are far too small to support demand for use in automobiles, and those hoping America would achieve some measure of energy independence would have to confront the fact that the U.S. would have to rely on foreign sources such as Russia, Iran, and other Middle East nations. Alternately, releasing hydrogen from water involves electrolysis, a highly inefficient process that would probably require burning more carbon-based fuels than the use of hydrogen would save. The only sustainable way to produce such quantities of hydrogen would entail large-scale investment in nuclear power plants—a prospect that, oddly enough, is not favored by proponents of zero-emission vehicles.
There are hints that hybrids offer the best long-term alternative, and some conventional gasoline vehicles are also getting arbitrarily close to the zero-emission standard due to computer-enhanced emission control. (Dramatic fuel-efficiency improvements can be achieved from allowing increased use of diesel fuels, but diesel releases more controversial particulate matter.)
The push for alternative vehicles has also had perverse consequences, according to a study by Resources for the Future, an environmental research group. Technology mandates lead to inflated sticker prices fleet-wide, causing consumers to delay their purchase of newer, cleaner conventional vehicles, and thus raising auto emissions across California in what is called the "jalopy effect." And even if California meets its quota, it will reduce auto emissions by a mere 1 or 2 percent.
There are signs that California will do everything it can to allow automakers to fulfill their zero-emission quotas, including redefining success. One credit-earning option would allow automakers to market what are called "neighborhood vehicles" for use in closed speed-bump communities and on roads with speed limits under 35 mph—golf courses, for example. To expedite production of these vehicles, they have been exempted from federal safety standards, allowing them to travel on public roads as well. That means safety experts will have nothing to say at the prospect of Ford's tiny two-seat Think City, which is made of plastic and takes 30 seconds to reach a top speed of 60 mph, trying to merge onto the average California highway.
[Ed.: New York enacted a similar mandate as California's, requiring that 10 percent of vehicles sold in the state use alternative fuels. Massachusetts, Vermont, and Maine are considering similar proposals.]