Main Entry: ruth
Etymology: Middle English ruthe, from ruen to rue
Date: 13th century
1 : compassion for the misery of another
2 : sorrow for one's own faults : REMORSE
~ Merriam Webster 11th Collegiate Dictionary
The latest issue of The Economist, published yesterday, includes an article titled The new face of hunger. Here's a clip...
"World agriculture has entered a new, unsustainable and politically risky period," says Joachim von Braun, the head of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in Washington, DC. To prove it, food riots have erupted in countries all along the equator. In Haiti, protesters chanting "We're hungry" forced the prime minister to resign; 24 people were killed in riots in Cameroon; Egypt's president ordered the army to start baking bread; the Philippines made hoarding rice punishable by life imprisonment. "It's an explosive situation and threatens political stability," worries Jean-Louis Billon, president of Côte d'Ivoire's chamber of commerce.
Gosh, why is this happening? The article suggests a couple reasons, high among which is this:
The prices mainly reflect changes in demand -- not problems of supply, such as harvest failure. The changes include... the sudden, voracious appetites of western biofuels programmes, which convert cereals into fuel. This year the share of the maize (corn) crop going into ethanol in America has risen and the European Union is implementing its own biofuels targets.
Googling around a bit, I find that Oxfam Policy Adviser, Robert Bailey said: "People in poor countries are being driven off their land to make way for new plantations. They are working in punishing conditions for pittance. The price of food is spiralling rapidly out of their reach and rainforests are being destroyed."
And on November 6 last year, George Monbiot wrote in The Guardian...
It doesn't get madder than this. Swaziland is in the grip of a famine and receiving emergency food aid. Forty per cent of its people are facing acute food shortages. So what has the government decided to export? Biofuel made from one of its staple crops, cassava. The government has allocated several thousand hectares of farmland to ethanol production in the district of Lavumisa, which happens to be the place worst hit by drought. It would surely be quicker and more humane to refine the Swazi people and put them in our tanks. Doubtless a team of development consultants is already doing the sums.
I have long suspected that much of the populist bandwagon boosterism for "the ecology" (sorta like the Iraq and such as) has been driven by a turning away from deeper and more difficult social issues -- like the poverty and such as -- and instead toward a burning spiritual desire to get a pat on the head and a gold star from Goddess Gaia.
Zygmunt Bauman shows that the problem of coping with "wasted lives" — the "superfluous" populations of migrants, refugees and other outcasts — provides a key for understanding some otherwise baffling features of our shared life, from the strategies of global domination to the most intimate aspects of human relationships.
posted by Doctor X - Kat Herding at #
Friday, April 18, 2008
It's old news (you can tell by the use of such phrases as "John Edwards" and "front-runner"), but dig it: ABC News reported on October 5 last year...
In a scathing attack, Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards went after front-runner Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., Friday, calling her a "corporate Democrat," comparing top Clinton campaign strategist Mark Penn to former Bush aide Karl Rove and assailing Penn's ties to Blackwater USA, the embattled private firm of military contractors accused by the Iraqi government of firing upon and killing 11 unarmed Iraqi civilians last month.
Well, Hilldog didn't give Penn his walking papers over that little dustup, but she did fire his ass this past Sunday. Something about Columbia. Maybe her shipment was late.
Blackwater, oh man. Hard to let that one slide. Check out the slick Flash slideshows on their site (try Advanced Training - Homeland Security). Or check this -- and be afraid. The photo to the left is from a Wired article -- also old news, same date as the above -- titled Blackwater's Hired PR Guns: Hillary's Helpers, wherein it is stated, and I quote...
UPDATE: Oooh, oooh. "In addition to his role as a top campaign consultant to the Clinton campaign, Mark Penn is the worldwide president and CEO of Burson-Marsteller. The firm's lobbying subsidiary BKSH helped Blackwater's top executive, Erik Prince, prepare for his congressional testimony this week."
From the tone of hand-rubbing glee, you might expect the author to be just another disgruntled ex-hippie, like me. But in that you would be so wrong. Sharon Weinberger is the author of Imaginary Weapons: A Journey Through the Pentagon's Scientific Underworld ("The story of how a lunatic fringe science project became favored by Rumsfeld’s Pentagon.") And as Wikipedia informs us: "She was editor-in-chief of Defense Technology International, a monthly magazine published by the McGraw Hill Aviation Week Group." Having worked Aviation Week in my chequered ex-hippie PR-puke past, I can tell you: that's some serious shit, kids.
Anyway: Hillary, Blackwater, Burson-Marsteller -- don't miss the video of ruthless pigfucker Mark J. Penn talking with senile child molester Harold Burson about "Communications and Corporate Responsibility."
And something about a homecoming queen, wasn't it?
One 2-star Amazon review of Daydream Believers (there are, as of yet, no 1-stars) complains that Kaplan "disappears deep into a dull history of RAND." As if we already knew that story all too well. The surprising fact is, there has never been a full-scale history of the RAND Corporation despite its central role in the Cold War arms race and all that went with that curious time, out of which we have yet to emerge. However, this exceedingly odd historiographic "oversight" is about to be remedied with next month's release of Soldiers of Reason: The RAND Corporation and the Rise of the American Empire. I ordered it on my birthday last November. I can't wait. The jacket copy apparently states...
In the Kennedy era, RAND analysts became McNamara’s Whiz Kids and their theories of rational warfare steered our conduct in Vietnam. Those same theories drove our invasion of Iraq forty-five years later, championed by RAND affiliated actors such as Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld, and Zalmay Khalilzad. But RAND’s greatest contribution might be its least known: rational choice theory, a model explaining all human behavior through self-interest.
I know, I know. You're saying "rational choice theory? give me a break." Too 'eavy fer yer head, innit? But wait. Did you see A Beautiful Mind in which Russell Crowe plays Nobel Laureate John Nash? You did, I know you did (it won four Oscars, so the probabilities are with me here). Remember the fantasy scene with the chicks in the bar? Nash says...
If we all go for the blonde and block each other, not a single one of us is going to get her. So then we go for her friends, but they will all give us the cold shoulder because no one likes to be second choice. But what if none of us goes for the blonde? We won't get in each other's way and we won't insult the other girls. It's the only way to win. It's the only way we all get laid.
A solution here means a determination of the amount of satisfaction each individual should expect to get from the situation.
That's originally from page one of Nash's 1996 Essays on Game Theory. Game theory -- hold that thought; it links everything in this (only seemingly scattered) post. And remember: Nash was mad. Not "driven to madness" by the implacable pressure of events, as the movie trailer romantically suggests. No. Barking at the moon mad, bonkers, cracked, insane. Dementia praecox, psychosis, schizophrenia. On his own Nobel Prize page he writes...
...after my return to the dream-like delusional hypotheses in the later 60's I became a person of delusionally influenced thinking but of relatively moderate behavior and thus tended to avoid hospitalization and the direct attention of psychiatrists. Thus further time passed. Then gradually I began to intellectually reject some of the delusionally influenced lines of thinking which had been characteristic of my orientation.
A couple paragraphs later he refers to "the gap period of about 25 years of partially deluded thinking providing a sort of vacation..." This is not to take anything away from what I must accept (I'm unqualified to judge) as Nash's mathematical brilliance. And less from his honesty with regard to his madness -- an honesty in no way shared by RAND and the Pentagon.
OK, the hard part is over. Now you can kick back and watch the video. But do watch for the bit corresponding to this gloss I found on The Guardian (thanx and a tip o' the hat to BrainMeta.com)...
"I realise what I said at some times may have over-emphasised rationality," an elderly John Nash tells Curtis in an extraordinary interview, after emerging from years of battling schizophrenia. "Human beings are much more complicated than the human being as a businessman." In fact, the documentary notes sardonically, experiments show that only two kinds of people behave like perfect little economists in every arena of life: economists themselves, and psychopaths.
Hey, hey, we're the monkeys!
from "The Trap" - John Nash's Game: "Fuck You, Buddy"
posted by Doctor X - Kat Herding at #
Tuesday, April 08, 2008