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  • Our Kinder, Gentler Ancestors (tip to David)
    Ardi casts doubt on the notion that we have an innate killer instinct

  • Chomsky: Understanding the Crisis -- Markets, the State and Hypocrisy
    From roughly 1950 until the early 1970s there was a period of unprecedented economic growth and egalitarian economic growth. So the lowest quintile did as well -- in fact they even did a little bit better -- than the highest quintile. It was also a period of some limited but real form of benefits for the population. And in fact social indicators, measurements of the health of society, they very closely tracked growth. As growth went up social indicators went up, as you'd expect. Many economists called it the golden age of modern capitalism -- they should call it state capitalism because government spending was a major engine of growth and development.

    In the mid 1970s that changed. Bretton Woods restrictions on finance were dismantled, finance was freed, speculation boomed, huge amounts of capital started going into speculation against currencies and other paper manipulations, and the entire economy became financialized. The power of the economy shifted to the financial institutions, away from manufacturing. And since then, the majority of the population has had a very tough time; in fact it may be a unique period in American history. There's no other period where real wages -- wages adjusted for inflation -- have more or less stagnated for so long for a majority of the population and where living standards have stagnated or declined. If you look at social indicators, they track growth pretty closely until 1975, and at that point they started to decline, so much so that now we're pretty much back to the level of 1960. There was growth, but it was highly inegalitarian -- it went into a very small number of pockets. There have been brief periods in which this shifted, so during the tech bubble, which was a bubble in the late Clinton years, wages improved and unemployment went down, but these are slight deviations in a steady tendency of stagnation and decline for the majority of the population.

    tip to Pedantsareus



  • Apple abandons U.S. Chamber of Commerce over climate policy

  • THE FEAR FACTOR (tip to Arthur)
    Why would a parent decline to vaccinate his child against a virus that has already infected a million Americans? Half of those who participated in the poll expressed concern about possible side effects. Vaccines do cause side effects, and, in rare instances, the side effects can be serious. In particular, people who are already ill with another infection should avoid vaccines. But the odds that a flu vaccine would cause more harm than the illness itself are practically zero. Nearly half of those polled said that they weren’t worried about their children getting the flu. (There have even been reports of “swine-flu parties,’’ where parents can bring children in the hope that they will contract a potentially fatal disease.) . . .

    In fact, the new H1N1 virus is similar to seasonal flu in its severity. In the United States, influenza regularly ranks among the ten leading causes of death, infecting up to twenty per cent of the population. It kills roughly thirty-five thousand Americans every year and sends hundreds of thousands to the hospital. Even relatively mild pandemics, like those of 1957 and 1968, have been health-care disasters: the first killed two million people and the second a million.

    We are more fortunate than our predecessors, though. Scientists produced a vaccine rapidly; it will be available within weeks. And, though this H1N1 virus is novel, the vaccine is not. It was made and tested in exactly the same way that flu vaccines are always made and tested. Had this strain of flu emerged just a few months earlier, there would not have been any need for two vaccines this year; 2009 H1N1 would simply have been included as one of the components in the annual vaccine.
    Meanwhile, the virus has now appeared in a hundred and ninety-one countries. It has killed almost four thousand people and infected millions of others. The risks are clear and so are the facts. But, while scientists and public-health officials have dealt effectively with the disease, they increasingly confront a different kind of contagion: the spurious alarms spread by those who would make us fear vaccines more than the illnesses they prevent.

  • Sarah Palin Has Some Relatives In Australia

    tip to Jason


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    Comments

    The video from Australia seems to be a comedy routine. It is reminiscent of a bit Abbot and Costello would do.

    user-pic

    Yes, these two are a comedy duo that do this politocal skits, but it is very funny :)

    user-pic

    These guys do weekly fake interviews and have done for something like fifteen years. They have also acted in a number of films and television shows. Their skits are shown on the national broadcaster after their headline current affairs show.

    Interestingly this would be about the 6th or 7th time I've seen them referred to as real. This particular Skit has been listed at least twice before as real, since it was first shown in ~98.

    Ardi the kinder gentler ancestor: 2 blows to fundies.

    1. Fills missing link in evolution of our species

    2. Lack of killer instinct, lowering the sin content, needing less divine guidance

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