Current Wisdom

Current Wisdom

By From the February 2013 issue


Time magazine gives its invaluable Person of the Year award to the man who will lead America for the next four years from the White House’s official John Deere D140 48-inch 22 HP Hydrostatic Front-Engine Riding Mower, complete with utility cart:

Obama says he long ago decided that he should not compare himself to Lincoln. But he nonetheless begins his second term with a better sense of what is possible in his job as well as what is not, something Lincoln struggled with as well. “You do understand that as president of the United States, the amount of power you have is overstated in some ways,” Obama says. “But what you do have the capacity to do is to set a direction.” He has earned the right to set that direction and has learned from experience how to move the country. After four of the most challenging years in the nation’s history, his chance to leave office as a great president who was able to face crises and build a new majority coalition remains within reach.

December 31, 2012/January 7, 2013

Ken Knabb, editor of the Bureau of Public Secrets, muses nostalgically on the late Occupy movement and endeavors to explicate a peculiar American fetish, just before the cops sweep him away on yet another charge of shoplifting and evacuating in public:

The Occupy movement already had the implicit goal of “reclaiming the commons”—occupying public squares or parks played on this theme, since regardless of quibbles about permits it was obvious that such spaces belong to the public and are, or at least originally were, intended for public use. But these more recent actions have the merit of challenging the fetish of private property in a more direct manner. That fetish has always been extremely strong in the United States, and the police responses to its transgression have always been more immediate and brutal. But I like to hope that these types of actions will eventually weaken the fetish, just as happened in the days of the civil rights movement.

November 20, 2012

Gourmand advice offered with a clear conscience in an age free of D.D.T. by the culinary nuts at National Public Radio:

Want to eat sustainably? Then eat bugs.

That’s the word from the Dutch, who are doing their best to make a scientific case for the environmental benefits of insect proteins. Reduce greenhouse gases? Check. Produce more edible protein while using less land than more traditional livestock? Check.

That last one’s an easy target; livestock take up about three-quarters of the world’s agricultural land. And livestock production is also a major source of greenhouse gases, accounting for about 15 percent of emissions caused by human activity....

But no one had run the numbers on bugs as livestock, until now.

The bugs in question are mealworms, actually larvae of the mealworm beetle, Tenebrio molitor. Mealworms are no strangers to Americans; they’re common in nature, often used as fishing bait, and sold in pet stores as food for reptiles and fish. But most people don’t consider snacking on the wriggling tan larvae themselves.

December 19, 2012

New York Times

Zoological observations of the strange American flora and fauna found on the Acela Express by Frank Bruni, Times columnist and fellow traveler:

I once took a long train ride with Grover Norquist. This wasn’t intentional. We found ourselves next to each other on the line to board an Acela from Washington, D.C., to New York, and we fell into a conversation, by which I mean that he did a great deal of talking, in that faintly maniacal way of his, while I presented a captive audience. He continued to talk as we walked along the platform and was still talking as we entered the train, so it was more or less unavoidable that we sit together. Besides which, I was genuinely fascinated, which is a very different adjective from amused.

November 27, 2012

Poughkeepsie Journal

On the Howl Page of a leading organ of the MSM in progressive Poughkeepsie, Eli cries out for help:

Men and male energy are dangerous. Men are violent. They rape and beat women. (More than one rape a minute in the U.S.) Men take us to war. Men glorify violence (just watch the NFL). Men run the government. Men run the corporations. Men run the military. Religious men oppress and often kill women (look at the Taliban). The men of Hamas oppress Palestinian women. The men of Israel oppress all Palestinians (men, women, and children).

Golda Meir brutalized and oppressed Palestinians, Margaret Thatch [sic] devastated the poor, and Madeleine Albright approved sanctions in Iraq that killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children. These are women who behave like men.

The Bible, the Koran, and the Constitution were written by men. Is it any wonder that women have been exploited and abused for centuries? In the quest for power and profit men have not spared “mother nature” either—as the result of endless warfare, deforestation, mining, drilling, and countless other assaults on our air, water, and soil the stability of our climate is in jeopardy.

As long as men (and women who act like men) run our governments, militaries, corporations, religious institutions, media, families, and schools, we are destined for endless wars and violence. Our environments will continue to deteriorate and all the creatures on this planet will face ever increasing threats to their survival. Are we doomed? Only if we continue to be ruled by men, their male energy, and women who act like men.

Eli Kassirer
New Paltz

November 7, 2012

South Florida Gay News

Higher education as practiced at Florida Atlantic University between volleyball classes and hula hoop lectures:

Condom Bingo isn’t your normal, run-of-the-mill bingo game your grandmother plays on Thursday afternoons at the community center. Local drag queen Misty Eyez was on hand to be the guest bingo caller. Students were handed a playing card upon entering the hall. Instead of the usual BINGO and numbers on the card, it was covered in sexual organs and jargon. Everything from penis and blue whales to “splooge” and cunnilingus was listed on the bingo cards. Eyez didn’t just call out answers. Question and definitions were randomly drawn, and their corresponding answers were marked on the bingo cards. Students were enticed to come play with prizes, including FAU gear, movies and an iPod shuffle if they stuck around for the fifth and final game. Student Health Services also provided Papa John’s pizza.

November 22, 2012

Exigent market research for the age of the Internet and the Peeping Tom:

It’s no secret that more and more holiday shopping is now done online, but apparently many Americans buy loved ones gifts while on the toilet. Some 16% of mobile-device owners do their holiday shopping in the bathroom, according to a recent survey by CashStar, a digital gifting company. The survey of 2,000 adults, which was taken by polling company Harris Interactive last month, found that the shop-til-you-plop approach was more prevalent among men than women. “Smartphones and tablets have enabled consumers to shop and gift on the go in more ways and places than ever before,” says David Stone, co-founder and CEO of CashStar. Other odd places consumers have done their online gift-buying, according to the survey: during business meetings and, despite the safety warnings about texting and driving, while stuck in traffic.

December 5, 2012

Washington Post

Thus begins another E.J. Dionne Jr. column of giddy sophistries to which the magnanimous conservative may respond, “E.J., you are not psychotic but there are other problems”:

I try to be hopeful about things. I long for a time when people on the left and the right might exchange opinions without assuming the very worst of each other. I don’t view conservatism as a form of psychosis and would like conservatives to harbor the same attitude toward progressives. Happy warriors are better than grim antagonists.

December 13, 2012

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