Turkey, Syria and ISIS: Links 11/30/2015

November 30, 2015


The Turkish government wants to establish a “safe zone” in Syria territory that supposedly will be a haven for refugees fleeing the so-called Islamic State (aka ISIS, ISIL or Da’esh).

But Tony Carlucci, in the article linked below, contends that its real purpose is to be a safe zone for ISIS oil tankers moving out of Syria, and arms and ammunition coming in.  And it also would keep apart Syrian Kurdish fighters, which the Turkish government opposes because of rebellious Kurds in Turkey itself.

The U.S. government is supposedly fighting a war against terrorists.  But in Syria, the U.S. and Turkish governments are more interested in toppling the government of Bashar al-Assad, even if it makes ISIS and other radical Islamist terrorist groups stronger.


Why the West Won’t Hit ISIS Where It Hurts by Tony Carlucci for Near Eastern Outlook.  (Hat tip to Bill Harvey and his friend Frank Munley.  Unlike Carlucci, I don’t think the U.S. government is intentionally promoting ISIS.   I just think there are certain people in the government who have delusions about their ability to manipulate groups such as ISIS for their own purposes.  But the intention doesn’t matter – only the result.

Why Turkey Stabbed Russia in the Back by Pepe Escobar for World News Daily.  (Hat tip to Bill Harvey and Frank Munley)

Guess Why The U.S. Is Not Seriously Bombing ISIS’s Oil Business by Moon of Alabama.

Will Turkey Close or Erase Its Border With Syria? by Moon of Alabama.

Erdogan’s Dirty Dangerous ISIS Games by F. William Engdahl for Near Eastern Outlook.

7 Things I Learned Reading Every Issue of ISIS’s Magazine (7 – 4) by Robert Evans for Cracked.com.

7 Things I Learned Reading Every Issue of ISIS’s Magazine (3 – 1) by Robert Evans for Cracked.com.

The geography of American names

November 28, 2015
Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Not sure this has any signficance, but I find it kind of interesting.


What’s the Most Popular Surname in Your State? on Ancestry.com.

What’s in a surname?, an interactive National Geographic map.

How people really fought with swords

November 27, 2015

Hat tip to kottke.org.

A look at the European martial arts tradition.

‘Despite all our accomplishments …’

November 26, 2015


And also to those who farm the land.

Source: The Grey Enigma.

Hat tip to The Tin Foil Hat Society.

Melting of the Arctic sea ice

November 25, 2015

Source: National Snow and Ice Data Center.

The new super-coyotes of eastern North America

November 25, 2015


Eastern North America is home to millions of a new breed of coyote, or maybe new species — the coy wolf, which typically has 25 percent wolf DNA and 10 percent dog DNA.

The eastern coyote, or coy wolf, has the cunning of a coyote and the ferocity of a wolf.  Like the western coyote and unlike the eastern timber wolf, it is at home on the open prairie.  Like the timber wolf and unlike the western coyote, it is at home in the deep woods.  Unlike both, it is at home in cities.

An estimated 20 coy wolves inhabit New York City, living on garbage, rodents and small pets.  They have been seen in Boston and Washington, D.C.  Evolution never stops.


Greater than the sum of its parts from The Economist.

Asian illustrations of European fairy tales

November 24, 2015
Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast

When you think of classic Western fairy tales, such as Alice in Wonderland or Snow White, Disney’s depiction of the princesses are probably the ones to come into your head first. Korean illustrator Na Young Wu, however, decided to bring a fresh and new perspective into our visualization of the fairy tales by re-drawing them in a traditional Korean style called manhwa.

The artist, who also goes by the name of Obsidian on Twitter, left the iconic features of the princesses and other fairy tale characters, such as the dominating colors and the surroundings, but changed their appearances and clothes so that they reflect the traditional Korean costumes, hairstyles, and nature.

Read the rest of this entry »

How to run a lost and found service

November 23, 2015

Hat tip to kottke.org.

Norman Rockwell’s images of Thanksgiving

November 22, 2015

           Read the rest of this entry »

Philosophers and welders

November 22, 2015

… make higher education faster and easier to access, especially vocational training.  For the life of me, I don’t know why we have stigmatized vocational education.  Welders make more money than philosophers.  We need more welders and less philosophers.

==Senator Marco Rubio in the 4th GOP debate

Marco Rubio is mistaken about the purpose of studying philosophy.  The purpose is not mainly to earn a big salary as a professional philosopher.  It is to give student a broader perspective on life.  This is important for everyone, whether a welder or a United States Senator.

education-in-liberal-artsEveryone has a philosophy, whether they know it or not.   Everyone operates on certain assumptions about how you know what’s true and what’s false, and what’s right and what’s wrong.   Some people get their basic assumptions about life from parents, teachers or  religion.  Some get them from peers.  All too many get them from the mass media.

The study of philosophy helps you to look at your assumptions and decide how well they stand up.  It helps you to understand the assumptions of people different from you and where they’re coming from.

And it gives you a kind of cosmic perspective that helps you escape the limits of the here and now.  It can be a kind of spiritual practice.

Once the study of the liberal arts—including philosophy—was reserved for the upper classes to give them the perspective they needed to be successful rulers.   Education for the lower classes, what there was of it, consisted of basic literacy and vocational skills.

With the rise of democracy, many Americans had the dream that the kind of education once limited to the aristocracy could be made available to everyone.   Thinkers from Thomas Jefferson to John Dewey believed that American citizens could not be both ignorant and free.

That’s why Americans established free public schools and free or cheap public universities.  It was also a reason for the eight-hour work day and five-day work week—to give people time and energy to engage in something else besides labor.

I fear we’re reverting to the older idea—liberal education for the elite, vocational education for the masses.

Read the rest of this entry »

Why so few Christians among the refugees?

November 21, 2015
Click to enlarge.

Click to enlarge.  Source: Newsweek.

The Christian community in Syria dates back to the time of St. Paul, who was converted on the road to Damascus.

Today the survival of Christianity in Syria and other Middle Eastern countries is under threat.  Syria has lost 700,000 Christians in the past five year, nearly two-thirds of its Christian population.  Iraq has lost more than a million Christians since the 2003 invasion.

The so-called Islamic State (aka ISIS, ISIL or Da’esh) singles out Christians for beheading and rape.  It calls them “crusaders,” meaning that they are supposedly part of an age-old European invasion of the Middle East.  Yet Syria was a Christian country for centuries before Mohammad was even born.

20150327cover600x800revMany religious scholars fear for the survival of the ancient Christian communities in Syria and Iraq.  This is something new, not a centuries-old conflict.

Christians and Muslims mostly lived together in peace during the Arab Caliphates, the Ottoman Empire and European colonial rule, and, if there was persecution, it fell short of genocide.

Despite all this, there are relatively few Christians among the Syrian and other Middle Eastern refugees knocking on the doors of Europe and the United States.

An estimated 10 percent of Syria’s population is Christian, yet they constitute only 2.5 percent of the Syrian applicants for asylum in Europe.   I would have expected more, if only because, unlike with Muslims, there are no predominantly Christian nations in the Middle East region.

I don’t think this is because of intentional discrimination.   Asylum seekers are screened in refugee camps, and Middle Eastern Christians reportedly are reluctant to enter refugee camps because of persecution and abuse by Muslim refugees.

Certain American and European politicians have called for asylum of Syrian refugees to be limited to Christians. [1]

Barring refugees solely on the  basis of religion is wrong and possibly a violation of international law.  But there surely is justification for an affirmative action program for some of the world’s most persecuted people.


The New Exodus: Christians Flee ISIS in the Middle East by Janine Di Giovanni and Conor Gaffey for Newsweek.

Syria’s Beleaguered Christians by the BBC.

Christian refugees discriminated against by US and UK governments by Harry Farley for Christianity Today.

Why So Few Syrian Christian Refugees by Jonathan Witt for The Stream.

Why the question of Christian vs. Muslim refugees has become so incredibly divisive by Michelle Boorstein for the Washington Post.


[1]  Actually, I think it would be a fine thing if Texas, Hungary or some other place became a haven for the world’s persecuted Christians.

Threat of terrorism once was worse than now

November 21, 2015

eu-terrorism1As this chart shows, terrorist attacks were more frequent and lethal back in the 1970s and 1980s than they are now.

I’ve read the statement that while not all Muslims are terrorists, all terrorists are Muslims.  Not so!

The terrorism of the 1970s was spearheaded by left-wing radical extremists such as the German Red Army Faction and the Italian Red Brigades.  The Oslo bombing and Utøya Island massacre was carried out by a lone anti-Islamic fascist.

Terrorism is a tactic that can be, and is, used by people with all sorts of beliefs.


The facts about terrorism by Paul Robinson for IRRUSSIANALITY.  More charts showing the waning of terrorism.

ISIS law and Saudi law

November 21, 2015



The Shared History of Saudi Arabia and ISIS by Madawi Al-Rasheed for Hurst Publishers.

Crime and punishment: Islamic State vs. Saudi Arabia by Rori Donaghy and Mary Atkinson for Middle East Eye.

Inhuman Monsters: Islamic State vs. Saudi Arabia by Peter Van Buren for We Meant Well.

Read the rest of this entry »

Europe and the refugees

November 20, 2015


3.FT_15.09.29_asylum_420pxThe Syrian civil war is a worse disaster than the Haitian earthquake or the Indian Ocean tsunami.

More than 4 million Syrians are refugees outside their country and many more are homeless and displaced within the country.

But fewer than one-tenth of the Syrian refugees have sought asylum in Europe, and, according to Pew Research, four out of five of the asylum-seekers are not Syrian.

The International Convention on Refugees requires countries to accept anyone who flees their own country out of a well-founded fear of persecution on the grounds of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a social group.

National governments put applicants through a vetting process to determine whether they truly are refugees.  I think it is reasonable to think that many of the applicants are just typical poor immigrants in search of a better life.  I don’t condemn anybody from migrating in search of a better life, but this is not the same thing as being a refugee.

I think it would be a nice gesture for European countries to take in Syrian refugees.  I think the countries that should take in the most refugees are the countries that did the most to create the refugee problem.

Aside from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, these countries are the USA, the UK and France, which have bombed Syria and backed radical terrorist rebels against the government.

But this would be a gesture only.  The only real solution to the Syrian refugee problem is peace in Syria, followed by rebuilding, so that they can return to their own country.

The tide of illegal Mexican immigration ebbs

November 20, 2015

PH_2015-11-19_mexican-immigration-01These days more Mexicans are leaving the United States than entering.  As Mitt Romney might say, they are “self-deporting.”

Immigration, both legal and illegal, peaked in 2007.  Pew Research reported that in that year, the U.S. resident population included:

  • 5.9 million legal immigrants from Mexico
  • 6.9 million unauthorized immigrants from Mexico.
  • 5.3 million unauthorized immigrants from other countries.

By 2014, the figures were:

  • 6.1 million legal immigrants from Mexico
  • 5.6 million unauthorized immigrants from Mexico
  • 5.7 million unauthorized immigrants from other countries.

Overall, according to Pew, there are just under 59 million foreign-born residents and citizens of the United States, comprising a near-record 14 percent of the population.

Pew Research said one reason for the net out-migration of Mexicans is that the U.S. economy is less of a magnet than it once was.  Increasing numbers of Mexicans tell pollsters that they are just as well off staying in Mexico as they would be going to the United States.

Another factor is increased immigration enforcement.  Even though the number of unauthorized immigrants being stopped at the border is down, the number of deportations is up.

There are still 11.3 million unauthorized immigrants in the USA, and even if the unauthorized immigrant population continues to shrink at the rate it did from 2007 to 2014, it would still take more than 87 years before they were all gone.

As I’ve written before, I’m of two minds as to what to do about this.  I don’t think immigrants who break the rules should get a place in line ahead of those who obey the rules.   At the same time, I can’t much blame people for breaking rules to  better their lives and the lives of their families.

My bottom line is that it is better to offer a path to citizenship, as President Obama proposes, than to have an exploitable underclass in the United States outside the protection of U.S. law.


More Mexicans Are Leaving Than Coming to the U.S. by Ana Gonzalez-Barrera for Pew Research.

5 facts about illegal immigration in the U. S. by Jens Manuel Krogstad and Jeffrey S. Passel for Pew Research.

Modern Immigration Wave Brings 59 Million to U.S. by Pew Research.

The American failure at nation-building.

November 19, 2015

If you attempt the impossible, you will fail.
        ==One of the Ten Truths of Management

If a problem cannot be solved, it may not be a problem, but a fact.
        ==One of Rumsfeld’s Rules

mason.strategiclessons.PUB1269Why was the United States so successful in building up Germany, Japan and South Korea as independent nations after World War Two, and such a failure in building up South Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan?

Chris Mason, in his book Strategic Lessons, wrote that the reason is that while it is possible to help an existing nation build up a stable government, it is not possible for outsiders to create a national consciousness among a people who lack it.

That is the reason for the failures in South Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan—not any lack of valor or professionalism among American troops, but the fact that they were given a mission equivalent to trying to make water flow uphill.

He said the U.S. military is well-suited for carrying out two kinds of missions:

  1. Defending allies from invasion by use of “intense lethality” against the aggressor.
  2. Intervening in a foreign country to protect American lives or interests by striking hard at a military target, and then leaving—preferably within 90 days.

If the American government is considering intervening in a country for an extended length of time, it should summon the best academic experts to assess whether the people of that country have a sense of nationhood.  If not, the only unity those people will have is in resisting the invader.

Actually there were people inside the government who understood what would happen in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, and said so, but they were ignored, Mason said.   Instead decisions were made by people who knew nothing about those countries, but knew what to do and say in order to advance their careers.

Those are harsh words.  The fact that the Army War College has published his book shows that there are some people in the military who value intelligent dissent.


Click on The Strategic Lessons Unlearned from Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan: Why the Afghan National Security Forces Will Not Hold and the Implications for the U.S. Army in Afghanistan for the text of Chris Mason’s book in PDF form.  I thank Craig Hanyan for suggesting it.

Click on America’s Future in Afghanistan for interviews by ARRA News Service giving the opposing viewpoints of Chris Mason and General John R. Allen, USMC-Ret.  [added 11/20/2015]

Read the rest of this entry »

U.S. decision-makers ignored Afghan realities

November 19, 2015

Military expert M. Chris Mason thinks the U.S. effort in Afghanistan was probably doomed from the start.  But two early-on decisions by the Bush administration destroyed what little chance there was for success.

The first was the decision to browbeat King Mohammad Zahir Shah, the only leader capable of uniting Afghanistan, into abdicating his throne in favor of a U.S. puppet.

The second was the decision to disband all existing Afghan armed forces and create a new army from scratch, consisting of recruits selected precisely because of their lack of any previous military experience.

mason.strategiclessons.PUB1269The results were a government that had no legitimacy in the eyes of the Afghan people, and an army that is incapable of fighting.

Mason, citing the great sociologist Max Weber, wrote in his current book that there are three things—two old and one new—that can make a government legitimate in the eyes of its people.  The two old ones are tradition and religion, which the Afghan people accept.  The new one is the democratic process, which, he said, they don’t understand.

Historically, he said, the only times Afghanistan was united is under the rule of kings.  Afghanistan has been in a continuing state of civil war since the king was overthrown in 1973.  Public opinion polls taken after the U.S. invasion indicated that 75 percent of the Afghan people wanted their king back.  He could have played a ceremonial role similar to the Emperor Hirohito under General MacArthur’s rule in Japan.

But American policy-makers didn’t want him.

The CIA had in mind to install a puppet, Adbul Haq, whom they could control.  Haq was betrayed by Pakistan’s intelligence service, and assassinated by the Taliban, Mason wrote.  So the CIA turned to the only other person on their payroll, the non-entity Hamid Karzai, who was respected by nobody.

The Taliban, on the other hand, exercise religious authority, which, according to Mason, is a more legitimate source of authority than election results.  The Taliban may not be popular, he wrote, but they are regarded as legitimate, which is something different.


Chris Mason

Chris Mason

Mason said the other bad decision was to exclude from the Afghan armed forces anyone who had ever previously served in a military-type capacity, such as former mujahideen, former communist Afghan army troops and members of warlord militias.  Recruits in 2002, as part of a standard questionnaire, were asked, “Have you ever used a rifle before?”  If the answer was affirmative, they were disqualified.

Much the same thing happened in Iraq.  The armed forces were disbanded, but allowed to keep their weapons, a perfect formula for violent chaos.  Mason did not speculate as to what Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had in mind.  Maybe he had some idea of starting over with a clean slate.

The result in both Iraq and Afghanistan was the recruitment of young unemployed men whose main motivation was pay.  They were mostly illiterate, but expected to master sophisticated American military technology.   The army’s problems included

lack of an air force, extreme over-reliance on weak and static police forces, nonexistent logistics, pervasive drug abuse … [and] the attrition that runs 50 percent per year in combat units in the south.

But the worse problem was lack of motivation.  The Taliban believe in what they’re fighting for.  Afghan government troops generally care only about themselves and their tribal groups.   It is not within the power of Americans to change this.


Click on The Strategic Lessons Unlearned from Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan: Why the Afghan National Security Forces Will Not Hold and the Implications for the U.S. Army in Afghanistan for the text of Chris Mason’s book in PDF form.  I thank Craig Hanyan for suggesting it.

Afghan civil war predates U.S. invasion

November 19, 2015

The U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 was an episode in an ongoing Afghan civil war that began 40 years ago and will probably continue after American forces leave the country.

The basic conflict is between the Pushtu-speaking people of southern Afghanistan and the Dari- and Uzbek-speaking people of northern Afghanistan.

The Soviet-backed government that was installed in 1979 mainly represented Dari and Uzbek speakers.  The rebellion against that government, backed by Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United States, was mainly Pustu speakers.  The Taliban are mainly Pustu speakers.  The U.S.-backed government in Kabul represents the same ethnic groups as the old Soviet-backed government.

mason.strategiclessons.PUB1269This is the analysis of Chris Mason, a military expert familiar with Afghanistan, whose latest book is available free on-line in PDF form from the United States Army War College.

Mason wrote that there are many ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan, such that the English language cannot do justice to their complexity.

There are religious conflicts among the Taliban, moderate Sunni Muslims and Shiite Muslims.  There are ongoing conflicts the various ethnic groups—Pushtuns, Tajiks, Uzbeks, Turkmen and Hazaras.  There are conflicts between tribes and clans.  If one clan supports the Taliban, the other is likely to look for help from the Americans, and vice versa.

The only time Afghanistan has enjoyed any kind of unity was been under its kings, who exercised a loose authority over diverse ethnic and religious groups.

This unity was broken, Mason wrote, when the Pushtun Afghan King Zahir Shah was overthrown by his cousin, Mohammad Daud, in 1973.  Instead of installing himself as king, Daud abolished the monarchy and tried to rule without traditional authority.  He was overthrown and killed in 1978 by the Afghan army, with the support of Afghan Communists—the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA).

bellaigue-map_102810_png_600x540_q85The PDPA had two factions, the predominantly Tajik Parcham faction and the predominantly Pushtun Khalq faction.  With the help of Soviet Spetznaz commandos, the Parcham faction overthrew the Khalq faction.  The PDPA attempted reforms, such as redistribution of land and emancipation of women, which, although enlightened, were resisted by traditional Afghan religious leaders.

An uprising against the Soviet-backed government consisted mainly of Pustuns, Mason wrote.  Members of the other Afghan ethnic groups continued to serve loyally in the government’s conscript army.

From 1979 to 1989, the Soviets fought all-out against the insurgents.  They destroyed thousands of Pustun villages and massacred as many as a million Pustuns, he wrote.

The Soviets were merciless, murderous and went all-out to win.  I think their experience shows that mass killing is not the key to victory..

The Pushtun insurgents were backed by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate (ISI), which armed them with weapons provided by the CIA and paid for by Saudi Arabia.

Pakistan supported the Afghan Pustuns partly because many Pushtuns live in Pakistan’s northwest frontier area.  But the main reason Pakistan backed the Pustuns was the fear that their enemies would ally themselves with India, leaving Pakistan will have to face its main enemy on two fronts—Afghanistan and Kashmir.

The Afghan civil war continued after the Soviets withdrew.   Pakistan supported the Taliban, and provided its forces with air support and military advisers.  The opposing Northern Alliance—consisting of Tajiks, Uzbeks, Hazaras and Turkmen—retreated until October, 2001, when the United States entered the Afghan civil war on their side.

The Bush administration authorized Operation Evil Airlift in November 2001 to rescue Pakistan troops trapped in Afghanistan.  Mason said Pakistan’s ISI used this as an opportunity to rescue key Taliban and Al Qaeda leaders as well.  Maybe one of them was Osama bin Laden.  Who knows?

The U.S.-backed government in Kabul is a Northern Alliance government, Mason wrote.  There are hardly any Pushtuns in the government or the army.  Official statistics to the contrary are bogus, he said.

When the United States finally withdraws, Mason expects Afghanistan to divide into a southern part controlled by the Taliban and a northern part controlled by the Northern Alliance, with neither side achieving a decisive victory in the foreseeable future.   Presumably the United States will try to aid the Northern Alliance and Pakistan will aid the Taliban.   It will be up to the various Afghan peoples, not any outsiders, to decide when they want to make peace.


Click on The Strategic Lessons Unlearned from Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan: Why the Afghan National Security Forces Will not Hold and the Implications for the U.S. Army in Afghanistan for the text of Chris Mason’s book in PDF form.  I thank Craig Hanyan for suggesting it.


Who got what in US foreign aid

November 19, 2015

Double click to enlarge.


Double click to enlarge.

Double click to enlarge.

‘Starving the beast’: public sector jobs decline

November 19, 2015


public-sector-jobs-gap1.pngClick on Economic Policy Institute for details (hat tip to Bill Harvey)

One of the reasons for the weakness of the current economic recovery is the loss of public sector jobs—mainly in state and local governments, including school districts.

Read the rest of this entry »

The case for a global debt writedown

November 18, 2015

Debt that can’t be repaid, won’t be.
==Michael Hudson

Since the 1970s, every economic recovery has been weaker than the one before.  Michael Hudson, in his new book, Killing the Host, said the reason is that, with each recovery, there has been a greater overhang of debt, which drains resources from the real economy of tangible goods and useful services.

The current economic recovery has been a recovery of the financial markets, not a recovery of jobs and wages of ordinary people.   United States and European Union economic priority has been to protect bond-holders and creditors from loss.

HudsonKillingtheHost41Jz7lQkwrLHudson argued that this is unsustainable.   Either there will be a planned write-off or write-down of global debt, or there will be a financial collapse, like the one that began the Great Depression of the 1930s.  Either way, the debt will be wiped out.

His preference is for what he called a Clean Slate, as was done in West Germany in 1947 as part of a currency reform.  Basically, most German debts were canceled, except for employer wage contracts and bank accounts below a certain maximum amount (since wiping out bank debt means wiping out bank savings).

This, together with tax reform, the lifting of wage and price controls and the 1953 forgiveness and restructuring of German public debt, made possible the German economic miracle.

As Hudson admitted, this is pretty strong stuff and unlikely to be accepted.  An alternative is the enforcement of an old New York law, going back to Revolutionary times, against fraudulent conveyance.  This means that a debt is void if the lender knew in advance that it couldn’t be paid back.

If Snidely Whiplash lends money to Mrs. Innocent Goodbody, a poor widow living on Social Security, with her $250,000 house as collateral, with the expectation she won’t be able to keep up the payments and he’ll be able to foreclose on the house—that’s an example of “fraudulent conveyance.”

This applies to the subprime mortgages and “liar’s loans” prior to the 2008 financial crash.  Another concept, “accounting fraud,” applies to the bad loans that were given high debt ratings, securitized and sold to the unwary.  Canceling debt originating in fraudulent conveyance and accounting fraud would have a huge impact.

Hudson said that home mortgages could be scaled back to what is necessary to amortize a property based on its assessed value.  Or mortgages could be scaled back to 25 percent of the borrower’s income, which is what conservative lending practices require in the first place.

Congress in fact authorized a program to do just that as part of the 2008 bank bailout.  But Timothy Geithner, Obama’s Treasury Secretary, declined to implement it.

All this disrupt the financial markets and the economy generally, but Hudson wrote that it would clear the way for a good economic expansion, based on investment in the real economy, as happened in Germany.

Anyhow, he wrote, the alternative is more foreclosures, more economic hardship, more government bailouts until it becomes absolutely clear that that the debts are unpayable.   In the end, debt that can’t be paid, won’t be.

Read the rest of this entry »

College students who can’t write correct English

November 18, 2015

Alex Small, a physics professor, is frustrated with white, middle-class college students who can’t write grammatically correct English.

I’m in a dark mood from grading.  If I have to constantly correct errors of subject-verb agreement in papers written by native English speakers from the majority ethnic/racial group, then higher education is pretty much doomed. I’m emphasizing their ethnic majority status because we can’t blame this on some sort of disadvantage.  [snip]

Alex Small

Alex Small

The dominant group will periodically allow some sort of largess by which “those people” get their “special program” and if they still don’t succeed then the dominant group can write them off with a clear conscience.  And if they do succeed, the dominant group can put an asterisk on their success, because they obviously only got there thanks to the “special program” (an asterisk that will make some seethe with resentment while others pat themselves on the back).

However, the dominant group will never tolerate their own kids being treated with benevolent condescension.  Good middle-class kids from the dominant group can’t possibly be failing, because their kids are (by definition) the measure of success for the mainstream.  Their kids will get degrees.  Period.

Source: Physicist at Large

I usually dislike the term “white privilege” because it implies people getting something they shouldn’t have.  Not being scared when you’re stopped by police isn’t a privilege.  It’s how everybody should be able to feel.

But the term does apply here, although maybe “upper middle-class suburban privilege” might be more exact.

Read the rest of this entry »

Hillary and Jeb are the bankers’ favorites

November 18, 2015


Source: Who Are Bankers Backing for President? by Victoria Finkle for The American Banker.

Why retaliating against ISIS won’t help

November 17, 2015

Evil did not come into the world with the first murder.
Evil did not come into the world with the first execution.
Evil came into the world when the people killed an innocent person because he was the same family or tribe as a murderer.
                 ==Author unknown

I admit I don’t know what to do about the so-called Islamic State (aka ISIS, ISIL or Da’esh).  But I do have a good idea of what the French, U.S. and other governments should not do.  They should not do what ISIS wants them to do.

imrsTerrorist attacks are the classic strategy of rebel and guerrilla movements that lack popular support.  They provide governments into striking out blindly at innocent people, creating grievances that enable the rebels to recruit.

These were the tactics of the left-wing guerrilla movements of the 1970s.  It was the tactic of Osama bin Laden in the 9/11 attacks.  His goal was to provoke the United States into getting bogged down in a quagmire war in Afghanistan.

French bombing raids won’t destroy ISIS.   Neither will they deter ISIS.  The ISIS fighters see their own attacks as retaliation for what the French and other Western governments have done to Arab peoples.

Instead the attacks help ISIS recruit new members and depict its movement as the defenders of the Arab world against outside aggression.

Read the rest of this entry »

The CEO-worker retirement divide

November 17, 2015

Click to enlarge.

Source: Too Much.

Read the rest of this entry »


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