“The men were on the front, but women made the food, mended the clothes, and staffed the hospitals,” Ms. Al Orfi says, describing the revolt two years ago against the regime of Muammer Qaddafi. “Without women, we wouldn’t have won.”
Mr. Qaddafi’s fall has cast Libya into a state of flux as leaders struggle to build a democracy from the ruins of dictatorship. Women such as Al Orfi have been energized by revolution and see the country’s transition as a chance to raise their status in a society that has long excluded them from positions of authority.
Our society has really screwed up priorities.
Recently, while wandering randomly around the Net, I remembered this TV show from the 80s. It was one of those rare ones that I made sure I found time to watch every week because I learned a lot from it. A quick Google search found every episode is now available for free on YouTube.
It’s based on the idea that when knowledge changes the universe changes whether you are a society or an individual. Regardless of whether it’s Spanish conquistadors responsible for the modern university or French revolutionary soldier’s obsession with gambling making every one in the West a healthy, long living number, as knowledge changes we change.
This show charted how the West came to be and what makes us different from all the other cultures on this planet. Highly recommended and much enjoyed.
“As a country, as a society, we live and breathe the idea of religious freedom and religious tolerance, whatever the religion, and political freedom and political tolerance, whatever the point of view,” Kerry told the students in Berlin, the second stop on his inaugural trip as secretary of state.
“People have sometimes wondered about why our Supreme Court allows one group or another to march in a parade even though it’s the most provocative thing in the world and they carry signs that are an insult to one group or another,” he added.
“The reason is, that’s freedom, freedom of speech. In American you have a right to be stupid - if you want to be,” he said, prompting laughter. “And you have a right to be disconnected to somebody else if you want to be.
“And we tolerate it. We somehow make it through that. Now, I think that’s a virtue. I think that’s something worth fighting for,” he added. “The important thing is to have the tolerance to say, you know, you can have a different point of view.”
Kerry made the comments on his first foreign trip since becoming secretary of state on February 1. After one-night stops in London and Berlin, he visits Paris, Rome, Ankara, Cairo, Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and Doha before returning to Washington on March 6.
One online trend 16-year-old Temitayo Fagbenle finds disturbing is something she calls “slut shaming” — using photos and videos to turn a girl’s private life inside out. Temitayo reported this story as part of the Radio Rookies program at member station WNYC.
I just listened to this on my drive home. Brought to you by OUR youth: “Radio Rookies” These kids are reporting what’s happening at their schools.
After the loud news (in reference to never forgetting the silent ones) of the rape of the Indian student, then that horrible video of the very youthful full-blown misogynist in Steubenville, OH…
I am so overwhelmed and reminded that rape, slut shaming and the basic position of women in our modern society has not advanced.
The girl is bad, the guy, ah - he’s OK.
Yes, many of us have good jobs and are able to compete with men, AND have experienced wonderful sexual freedom. But do not forget, for many people its still the same. Good girls v. bad girls.
That men, our sons, neighbors, fellow human beings subscribe to this still is unacceptable.
This is right here in our neighborhoods. Right here.
I cried listening to this on the way home. Frustration and a bit of hopelessness.
The richness of human language is astounding. Sometimes it might even seem as if we have too many words for the same thing. For example, the common vernacular doesn’t really distinguish between “properties” and “possessions.” Casting aside for a moment all those instances in which the two words are used metaphorically, we can say that they both describe the relationship between a person and a thing. The person who has property or possessions is generally said to be able to determine their use as they see fit, without the ability of others to interfere in that process. A thing is “mine” if it is my property, and also if I possess it. I can do with it (almost) whatever I want.
I’m not concerning myself here with the legal definition of terms, with the different types of property, or with the restrictions imposed on them by customs and laws. All those apply equally to properties and possessions. Instead, I want to try to tease out what I see as a difference between the two terms. Indeed, distinguishing one from another is of great importance. As a society, we should try to clarify the meaning of words instead of succumbing to their abrasion and disguising in everyday use.
When someone says that something is “his or her own,” that person articulates a very close and irrevocable relationship to a thing. If I own something, it is native to me. It is no coincidence that the English word “property” carries two different meanings: a thing that belongs to someone, and an attribute or quality that characterizes someone or something.
My personal property - or, rather, the sum of personal properties - describes me as a person. Properties are a constitutive part of my individual identity. The particularities of my being are inextricably linked to my properties: a craftsman owns his tools. A stamp collector owns his stamp collection. A publisher owns a publishing house. Parting with those properties would imply parting with the relevant part of one’s identity.
WAYNE LAPIERRE, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, NRA:
The National Rifle Association — 4 million mothers, fathers, sons and daughters — join the nation in horror, outrage, grief, and earnest prayer for the families of Newtown, Connecticut, who have suffered such an incomprehensible loss as a result of this unspeakable crime.
Out of respect for the families and until the facts are known, the NRA has refrained from comment.
While some have tried to exploit tragedy for political gain, we have remained respectably silent. Now, we must speak for the safety of our nation’s children.
An Organization with only four million members, a tiny 1.3% of the total U.S. population, controls the discussion of gun policy and the creation of gun regulations and laws in this country. We have allowed perhaps the most fervently pro-gun fringe group within our nation the power to give direction to our elected representatives. Why is that?
Because for all the noise and anger directed at us over the past week, no one, nobody has addressed the most important, pressing and immediate question we face: How do we protect our children right now, starting today, in a way that we know works?
The only way to answer that question is to face the truth. Politicians pass laws for gun free school zones, they issue press releases bragging about them. They post signs advertising them. And, in doing so, they tell every insane killer in America that schools are the safest place to inflict maximum mayhem with minimum risk.
The gun free zones that he is complaining about do not in any way effect members of law enforcement or licensed security staff, only private citizens. Many schools around the country are already staffed with a police officer during operational hours. Not just in the big cities where many schools already have controlled entry points and metal detectors but in more rural areas too.
It was not a mandated “Gun Free Zone” that prevented Newtown from having an armed security officer, rather it was considerations of cost and the mistaken belief that “It probably wont ever happen here.” Wayne ignores all of this to phrase his argument so that it implies that no armed security is allowed on school property, something that is far from true.
How have our nation’s priorities gotten so far out of order. Think about it. We care about our money, so we protect our banks with armed guards. American airports, office buildings, power plants, court houses, even sports stadiums are all protected by armed security.
We care about our president, so we protect him with armed Secret Service agents. Members of Congress work in offices surrounded by Capitol Police officers. Yet, when it comes to our most beloved, innocent, and vulnerable members of the American family, our children, we as a society leave them every day utterly defenseless, and the monsters and the predators of the world know it, and exploit it.
Again Wayne completely ignores the fact that many schools already have “School Resource Officers” (SROs) and argues that armed murderers only attack schools because they know that no armed resistance will be found there. This flies in the face of reality where the perpetrators of these crimes have attacked both schools and colleges that did in fact have an armed police presence.
The truth is, that our society is populated by an unknown number of genuine monsters. People that are so deranged, so evil, so possessed by voices and driven by demons, that no sane person can every possibly comprehend them. They walk among us every single day, and does anybody really believe that the next Adam Lanza isn’t planning his attack on a school, he’s already identified at this very moment?
Here comes the fear! That’s right folks, monsters and demons are everywhere, they are so prevalent in our society that you meet them every single day! You should quit reading this right now and go out and buy a gun because that is the only thing that will help to make you feel secure again!
Luckily for you in most states you will be able to buy a gun today, with no waiting period, thanks to the efforts of the NRA to defeat the 5 day waiting period that was originally included in the Brady Act. Only a handful of states have enacted their own state waiting/cool down periods for the purchase of firearms and only six include rifles of any type in those regulations.
How many more copycats are waiting in the wings for their moment of fame from a national media machine that rewards them with wall-to-wall attention and a sense of identity that they crave, while provoking others to try to make their mark.
What solution does he propose to this, and is it really an overriding factual consideration? I have yet to see any real evidence that shows that posthumous fame is the primary goal for these shooters. Still, let us assume that he is correct and that media attention is a strong motivating factor, how does he intend to limit this attention?
A dozen more killers, a hundred more? How can we possibly even guess how many, given our nation’s refusal to create an active national database of the mentally ill? The fact is this: That wouldn’t even begin to address the much larger, more lethal criminal class — killers, robbers, rapists, gang members who have spread like cancer in every community across our nation.
The NRA has actively fought against the creation of such a database claiming that it would deny millions of legitimate gun owners their rights based on earlier juvenile mental health records. It has campaigned to restrict the types of information that could be included in such a database. It has also either directly or indirectly supported the appeals of more than 30,000 people who have successfully contested being denied a gun purchase due to background checks.
Judges have repeatedly shown themselves to be loath to hold juvenile records of instability against adults in regards to gun ownership. Even though the truth is that adults almost never encounter the mental health system involuntarily unless through the criminal court system.
But never mind all that, now they want to know why it has not been done yet, obviously it is the fault of the clueless federal government!
Meanwhile, while that happens, federal gun prosecutions have decreased by 40 percent, to the lowest levels in a decade. So now, due to a declined willingness to prosecute dangerous criminals, violent crime is increasing again for the first time in 19 years. Add another hurricane, terrorist attack, or some other natural of manmade disaster, and you’ve got a recipe for a national nightmare of violence and victimization.
Sneaky use of statistics alert: Federal gun prosecutions have decreased by 40% compared to when exactly?
Overall gun crime is down, probably due in no small part to the mandatory long prison sentences now imposed for gun related crimes by most states. Federal prosecutions for gun related offenses only occur in less than 1% all gun related crimes and primarily deal with non-licensed and illegal gun sales or possession of illegal weapon types. How is this at all relevant to the level of violent gun crime within this country?
Oh, and fear II then makes an appearance, just one more hurricane, just one more terrorist attack, or one more “manmade” (Government false flag attack!!!) disaster is going to result in the total breakdown of society. Boy will you be wishing you had bought a gun then, how else are you going to shoot your neighbors when they come to take your stuff?
And here’s another dirty little truth that the media try their best to conceal. There exists in this country, sadly, a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells and stows violence against its own people. Through vicious, violent video games with names like ‘Bullet Storm,’ ‘Grand Theft Auto,’ ‘Mortal Combat,’ and ‘Splatterhouse.’
And here’s one, it’s called ‘Kindergarten Killers.’ It’s been online for 10 years. How come my research staff can find it, and all of yours couldn’t? Or didn’t want anyone to know you had found it? Add another hurricane, add another natural disaster. I mean we have blood-soaked films out there, like ‘American Psycho,’ ‘Natural Born Killers.’ They’re aired like propaganda loops on Splatterdays and every single day.
Fear III rears its ugly head, it is the prevalence of violent video games titles and movies that is responsible for the decreasing violence in America!
Wait a second, violent crimes are decreasing even as movies and games have become increasingly more violent? How can that be? Perhaps the vast majority of people in this country are too grounded in reality to use fictional movies and games to motivate them to actually kill people in real life instead of as escapist entertainment as intended?
1,000 music videos, and you all know this, portray life as a joke and they play murder — portray murder as a way of life. And then they all have the nerve to call it entertainment. But is that what it really is? Isn’t fantasizing about killing people as a way to get your kicks really the filthiest form of pornography? In a race to the bottom, many conglomerates compete with one another to shock, violate, and offend every standard of civilized society, by bringing an even more toxic mix of reckless behavior, and criminal cruelty right into our homes. Every minute, every day, every hour of every single year.
Once again Wayne, this is escapist fantasy and is recognized as such by 99.9999% of those who are exposed to it. Show me some clinical studies that prove that this type of entertainment actually has an effect on peoples decisions in real life and I’ll start taking you seriously.
A child growing up in America today witnesses 16,000 murders, and 200,000 acts of violence by the time he or she reaches the ripe old age of 18. And, throughout it all, too many in the national media, their corporate owners, and their stockholders act as silent enablers, if not complicit co-conspirators.
Rather than face their own moral failings, the media demonize gun owners.
Gee Wayne, did you ever stop to consider that if guns didn’t permeate our society and that if real gun assaults did not constantly happen around us in this country, that maybe they would not be so prevalent in the fictional accounts either?
See part II here: littlegreenfootballs.com
This story first appeared in The Seattle Times about 2 weeks ago, but made it to the pages of the Chicago Tribune just today. It seems that some Washington state residents are having a hard time accepting the will of their fellow citizens.
In the wake of Washington’s historic votes to legalize both same-sex marriage and marijuana use, some longtime conservatives say they’re contemplating moving to more like-minded states — say, Texas.
Bombarded with seemingly endless, breathless news coverage of same-sex couples getting married and respectable people lighting joints in public, some “no” voters say they consider themselves missionaries in a heathen world.
I’m sure nobody left-of-center in Texas can relate to this feeling at all…and life is probably a gumdrop candyland for Obama supporters in Oklahoma and Utah.
To David DeWolf, who teaches law at Gonzaga University, a Catholic institution in Spokane, the votes reflect individuals disconnecting from the rest of society, “elevating the desires of the individual over the needs of the community.”
Yes, the needs of the community dictate that drinking booze is cool while smoking pot is an abomination…and that homosexuals in committed relationships are not entitled to the rights afforded by marriage.
As you can probably guess, a lack of Christian faith is cited as a cause for these troubling developments.
“I feel like I’m living in pagan Rome,” said Dan Kennedy, CEO of Human Life of Washington
Our Gonzaga law professor agrees:
“The introduction of Christianity was the introduction of a way of understanding ourselves that says we’re made for better things, we’re capable of real charity and concern for one another and living a life of virtue.”
Christian virtues, which he believes were ignored in this election, have created “much of what we value in society,” DeWolf said. “In my mind, this is an unhappy reversion to a pagan understanding of ourselves and of society.”
This is my favorite passage:
Kennedy says friends have been talking seriously about moving to more conservative states, such as Texas.
“It’s not fun always feeling like an outsider,” he said. “I feel like I should carry around a sign that says, ‘Unclean, unclean.’ “
Might want to get with a homosexual (or a member of any minority group for that matter), Dan…he or she can almost certainly talk you through that.
I would like to serenade these brave culture warriors with this:
If your appetite for schadenfreude hasn’t been sated, you can read the whole thing here:
I’m currently reading Thomas Sedlacek’s “Economics of Good and Evil.” The Czech economist takes his readers back to the early days of human trading. His narrative follows a long arc that begins by examining the role the economy played during the time of the Mesopotamians or in ancient Greece. Sedlacek looks at the past through the prism of today. Our entrenched economic paradigms - the “invisible hand” of the market, the teachings of Keynes - seem at once too towering and too inadequate to address the challenges we face. Against the narrowing of economic imagination, Sedlacek raises the fundamental question of good and evil - not in a moralistic sense, but as a grand narrative of economic history.
For those who wrote (and listened to) the ancient Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh, forests were places of danger while cities provided security. The periphery of the city constituted the border between good and evil. At the beginning of the story, the hero Gilgamesh builds a wall to fortify the city and protect its inhabitants. The forest is seen as evil, and applause erupts when Gilgamesh begins to cut down the trees. He’s logging not just for economic gain but to defeat the evil spirits that reside in the forest. Permeating through the epic is a mythical, divine conception of nature that, as Sedlacek tells it, only vanished with the advent of Judaism. To the Abrahamic forefathers, nature was constituted in the physical and visible environment. It was a part of God’s creation, but not divine in itself. It offered the resources that man needed to survive - another piece in the economic puzzle.
At this point in the narrative, the question of good and evil entered the economic realm. With the advent of economic thinking, man suddenly became the center of the debate. Responsibility for actions, and for the consequences of these actions, was’t outsourced to a divine authority anymore, but rested with each individual. The contest between good and evil thus manifests itself as convulsions of our inner conscience as we grapple with the burden of responsibility. It’s interesting to note that the Garden of Eden is always a well-tended garden in the Jewish tradition. Work is required to maintain its perfection, and thus becomes an intrinsic element of human self-awareness.
The Greek philosophers subsequently examined what constituted the Good Life. Was it the maximization of utility or the adherence to established norms? A permissive interpretation of hedonism posits the pursuit of personal utility as the highest goal, and equates it with the Good.
We asked thousands of people to describe their ideal distribution of wealth, from top to bottom. The vast majority — rich, poor, GOP and Democrat — imagined a far more equal nation. Here’s why it matters.
The inequality of wealth and income in the U.S. has become an increasingly prevalent issue in recent years. One reason for this is that the visibility of this inequality has been increasing gradually for a long time—as society has become less segregated, people can now see more clearly how much other people make and consume. Owing to urban life and the media, our proximity to one another has decreased, making the disparity all too obvious. In addition to this general trend, the financial crisis, with all of its fall out, shined a spotlight on the salaries of bankers and financial workers relative to that of most Americans. And on top of these, and most recently, the upcoming presidential election has raised questions of social justice and income disparities, bringing the issues into focus even more.
It is relatively easy to think about inequality as being too great or too little in abstract terms, but ask yourself how much you really know about wealth distribution in the U.S. For example, imagine that we took all Americans and sorted them by wealth along a line with the poorest on the left and continuing as wealth increases until on the right we have the richest. Now, imagine that we divide them into five buckets with an equal number of citizens in each. The first bucket contains the poorest 20% of the population, the next contains the second wealthiest tier, and so on down to the wealthiest 20% (see Figure 1).
With this in mind, from the total pie of wealth (100%) what percent do you think the bottom 40% (that is, the first two buckets together) of Americans possess? And what about the top 20%? If you guessed around 9% for the bottom and 59% for the top, you’re pretty much in line with the average response we got when we asked this question of thousands of Americans.
The reality is quite different. Based on Wolff (2010), the bottom 40% of the population combined has only 0.3% of wealth while the top 20% possesses 84% (see Figure 2). These differences between levels of wealth in society comprise what’s called the Gini coefficient, which is one way to quantify inequality.
This is the level of wealth inequality that exists in America, and it is clearly higher than people think, but in Goldilocks-esque fashion, we can ask: Is the real level of inequality too high, too low, or just right? When economists consider the desirable level of inequality, they usually define the ideal inequality from the perspective of economic efficiency: What level of inequality will motivate people to be the most productive and move up the wealth ladder? What level of inequality will allow those at the top to lift up society as a whole (say, by having the resources to invent new technologies)? What level of wealth will keep salaries low and competition high? And so on.
This is one approach to assessing the desirability of wealth inequality, but Mike Norton and I wanted to examine this question from a different perspective—that of regular (non-economist) people—and we wanted to examine inequality in terms of its effect on society as a whole, not just in terms of economic efficiency. After all, inequality is not just about economic efficiency. It’s also about our day-to-day experience as citizens, the influence of envy, our social mobility, the importance of equal opportunity, our mutual dependency on each other, etc.
But what does it mean to ask people what level of inequality they want? And how do we get people to respond to such a question without being influenced by their current state of wealth? After all, wouldn’t the rich want a higher degree of inequality and the poor want a more even distribution of wealth?
HOW MUCH INEQUALITY DO YOU WANT?
We took a step back and examined social inequality based on the definition that the philosopher John Rawls gave in his book A Theory of Justice. In Rawls’ terms, a society is just if a person understands all the conditions within that society and is willing to enter it in a random place (in terms of socio-economic status, gender, race, and so on). In terms of wealth, that means that people know everything about the wealth distribution and are willing to enter that society anywhere along the spectrum. They could be among the poorest or the richest, or anywhere in between. Rawls called this idea the “veil of ignorance” because the decision of whether to enter a particular society is disconnected from the particular knowledge that the individual has about the level of wealth that he or she will have after making the decision.
With this definition in mind, we did two things. First, we asked 5,522 people to create a distribution of wealth among the five buckets such that they themselves would be willing to enter that society at a random place. Their answers could range from a perfectly even distribution with 20% of wealth in each quintile to a fully biased distribution with 100% of wealth in one and 0% in the rest.
We found that the ideal distribution described by this representative sample of Americans was dramatically more equal than exists anywhere in the world, with 32% of wealth belonging to the wealthiest quintile down to 11% by the poorest (see Figure 3).