Today, we seem to serve not as custodians of our inner worlds but as their terrified and terrible wardens, policing our own interiority along with that of others for any deviation from the proscribed identity-political correctness. And yet identity is exclusionary by definition — we are what remains after everything we are not.

Maria Popova @BrainPickings

This is a beautiful and resonant piece.

Tourists: Succinctly

It is inspiriting without doubt to whizz in a motor-car round the earth, to feel Arabia as a whirl of sand or China as a flash of rice-fields. But Arabia is not a whirl of sand and China is not a flash of rice-fields. They are ancient civilizations with strange virtues buried like treasures. If we wish to understand them it must not be as tourists or inquirers, it must be with the loyalty of children and the great patience of poets. To conquer these places is to lose them.”
― GK Chesterton, Heretics

Only now when I read Chesterton do I realize how deeply he has influenced my thinking and dispositions. My hatred of tourism as a pursuit is no doubt inspired not just by living in a tourist hell, but by my teenage exposure to Chesterton’s musing on the how the spirit of adventure is better sated by the backyard, then a trip across the world.

While I’ve not read the IMF report, I’d fancy that part of the reason that the US has been so treated is that our response to the fiscal crisis consisted of three things: lying, defending the corrupt, and de facto promises to keep insolvent and essentially immoral corporations in business.

The public has been lied to so shamelessly and so often in the course of the past four years that the failure to tell the truth to the general populace has become a kind of baked-in, official feature of the financial rescue. Money wasn’t the only thing the government gave Wall Street – it also conferred the right to hide the truth from the rest of us…Even worse, the $700 billion in TARP loans ended up being dwarfed by more than $7.7 trillion in secret emergency lending that the Fed awarded to Wall Street…decided that the public just can’t handle the truth.

All of this – the willingness to call dying banks healthy, the sham stress tests, the failure to enforce bonus rules, the seeming indifference to public disclosure, not to mention the shocking­ lack of criminal investigations into fraud committed by bailout recipients before the crash – comprised the largest and most valuable bailout of all. Brick by brick, statement by reassuring statement, bailout officials have spent years building the government’s great Implicit Guarantee to the biggest companies on Wall Street: We will be there for you, always, no matter how much you screw up. We will lie for you and let you get away with just about anything. We will make this ongoing bailout a pervasive and permanent part of the financial system. And most important of all, we will publicly commit to this policy, being so obvious about it that the markets will be able to put an exact price tag on the value of our preferential treatment.

-Via Rolling Stone

A Real Problem

But especially since the Bush administration’s reaction to September 11, 2001, the United States has increasingly become the world’s most notorious jailer. … [I]t appears to be under pressure to “balance” such punctual criticism by blanket denunciations of governments targeted for regime change by the United States.

Amnesty International has devoted extraordinary attention to the Pussy Riot case, while totally ignoring, for instance, the threat of U.S. prosecution that led Julian Assange to seek political asylum.

This is becoming a real problem, where formerly reliable protest organizations are being subverted by the powers that be. This really should even concern the most conservative of people as the same people who head up these organizations increasingly focus on more PC social issues, allowing the US to try position itself as a great defender of homosexual (which in many societies is a real issue) and abortion rights even as it ignores more fundamental rights such as the right to not be bombed to all hell. 

-Read More At CounterPunch.

Things to Know

Answers to a few of the deep questions I pondered while backpacking courtesy of Peace Bomb Polly who actually bothered to look them up.

Origin of the Word Butterfly:

1. Witches would turn into winged creatures at night and land in kitchens to steal milk and butter (from German Milchdieb: milkthief)
2. Deriving from their often yellow, butter-like color.

Are Grasshoppers Predatory?

Nope, plants only.

Why Can’t Humans See in the Dark:

Cones: color sensitivity.
Rods: light sensitivity.
Humans have more cones than rods. If cones were replaced by rods, we’d be able to see in the dark better but have less sensitivity to color.

I still think this is bogus. Lack of night vision=evolution failing. Common. We should have more rods and more cones. Or just that reflective layer in the back of our eyes like felines.

Are Crows Migratory?

Some: when minimum January temperatures reach 0 C. Or they may move a few miles to join communal roosts (roost of >720,000 birds have been reported).

How Do You Pronounce Raconteurs?

rack on tours.

What Are the Health Benefits of Sulfur?

Improves skin quality, relieves inflammation, aid collagen growth, improve digestion, protect against toxins & antimicrobial activity.

Where Do Bees Go In the Winter?

Honey Bees form a winter cluster around the queen in the hive whenever the temperature is below 50 F to keep the queen at 80 F.
Carpenter Bees: Hibernate in their nest tunnels.
Bluebanded Bees lay eggs then die.