“If There Is No Struggle, There Is No Progress”

shorpy-douglass
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“This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”

Frederick Douglass, August 3, 1857

Remembering a dear friend this weekend, Ishmael Flory, Co-Founder of the African American Heritage Association

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Sales of ‘1984’ spike after Kellyanne Conway’s ‘alternative facts’ blather

❝ On Sunday’s “Meet the Press,” Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, called easily disproved claims made by White House press secretary Sean Spicer “alternative facts.”

A bewildered Chuck Todd responded, “Alternative facts are not facts. They are falsehoods.”

❝ While the phrase “alternative facts” reminded many of the terms “falsehoods,” “lies” and “untruths,” it reminded many others of George Orwell’s dystopian, politically charged novel “1984.”

❝ Not only were people inspired to tweet about that, they wanted to purchase a copy. By early Wednesday morning, the novel was the best-selling book on Amazon.com…

Sales of the novel also enjoyed a marked spike in 2013 — one edition experiencing a 10,000 percent jump in sales — following the leak of NSA documents.

❝ Many quotes from the book especially resonated with readers following Conway’s remarks.

“The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command,” for example, reminded some of Spicer’s argument that Trump’s inauguration had record-breaking crowds, despite obvious evidence to the contrary…

❝ Perhaps the phrase “alternative facts” will soon have as much cultural currency as the terms Orwell penned more than a half-century ago, even though the former were said in earnest while Orwell’s were bitingly critical.

Maybe the mainstream media will even rise to brave clarity and describe Trump’s public statements as nothing more than bullshite.

Infrastructure, roads, bridges, airports — all suck, all need repair


Michigan fixes road the way they fix water supplies

❝ The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that the nation’s highways and bridges face an $808.2 billion backlog of investment spending, including $479.1 billion in critically needed repairs. More than two-thirds of the nation’s roads and nearly 143,000 bridges are classified in “dire need” of repair or upgrades. U.S. ports are clogged and need dredging to improve the flow of goods; railroad tracks need modernizing; airport communications technology needs updating and expansion; and urban mass transit is old and inadequate. As president, Trump wants to rebuild America’s core…

If you think the whole of these needs or a significant portion will produce a campfire singalong between elite Democrats, Progressive Democrats, Opportunist Democrats, Teapublicans, Trumpublicans, Hoover Republicans, elite Republicans — I might offer you a deal on one of those bridges. In Brooklyn.

Move the date back on the first humans in North America — another 10,000 years!


Click to enlargeBourgeon et al

❝ The timing of the first entry of humans into North America across the Bering Strait has now been set back 10,000 years.

This has been demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt by Ariane Burke, a professor in Université de Montréal’s Department of Anthropology, and her doctoral student Lauriane Bourgeon, with the contribution of Dr. Thomas Higham, Deputy Director of Oxford University’s Radiocarbon Accelerator Unit.

Their findings were published in early January in the open-access journal PLoS One.

❝ The earliest settlement date of North America, until now estimated at 14,000 years Before Present (BP) according to the earliest dated archaeological sites, is now estimated at 24,000 BP, at the height of the last ice age or Last Glacial Maximum.

❝ The researchers made their discovery using artifacts from the Bluefish Caves, located on the banks of the Bluefish River in northern Yukon near the Alaska border. The site was excavated by archaeologist Jacques Cinq-Mars between 1977 and 1987. Based on radiocarbon dating of animal bones, the researcher made the bold hypothesis that human settlement in the region dated as far back as 30,000 BP…

To set the record straight, Bourgeon examined the approximate 36,000 bone fragments culled from the site and preserved at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau — an enormous undertaking that took her two years to complete. Comprehensive analysis of certain pieces at UdeM’s Ecomorphology and Paleoanthropology Laboratory revealed undeniable traces of human activity in 15 bones. Around 20 other fragments also showed probable traces of the same type of activity.

“Series of straight, V-shaped lines on the surface of the bones were made by stone tools used to skin animals,” said Burke. “These are indisputable cut-marks created by humans.”

❝ Bourgeon submitted the bones to further radiocarbon dating. The oldest fragment, a horse mandible showing the marks of a stone tool apparently used to remove the tongue, was radiocarbon-dated at 19,650 years, which is equivalent to between 23,000 and 24,000 cal BP (calibrated years Before Present).

“Our discovery confirms previous analyses and demonstrates that this is the earliest known site of human settlement in Canada,” said Burke. It shows that Eastern Beringia was inhabited during the last ice age.”…

The Beringians of Bluefish Caves were therefore among the ancestors of people who, at the end of the last ice age, colonized the entire continent along the coast to South America.

Bravo. If I was a young ‘un, again – this would be high on the list of work I’d love to be doing.

A history of living conditions on Earth in 5 charts

world-pop-vs-poverty

A recent survey asked “All things considered, do you think the world is getting better or worse, or neither getting better nor worse?”. In Sweden 10% thought things are getting better, in the US they were only 6%, and in Germany only 4%. Very few people think that the world is getting better.

What is the evidence that we need to consider when answering this question? The question is about how the world has changed and so we must take a historical perspective. And the question is about the world as a whole and the answer must therefore consider everybody. The answer must consider the history of global living conditions – a history of everyone.

Cynic that I am – even as an optimist – I tend to have a low opinion of my fellow Americans’ commitment to lifetime learning, understanding the world around us. This study makes it clear I should extend that analysis to our species worldwide. 🙂

Actually, things are better than that. But, I can’t resist grumbling – especially on a cold, snowy weekend moving into the mud phase.

RTFA. It serves as the debut for OUR WORLD IN DATA website. Which looks really interesting and useful.

Thanks, Barry Ritholtz

Mormon Tabernacle Choir member quits rather than perform for Trump

❝ A member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir has resigned in protest over the group’s decision to sing at President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration, saying “it will appear that [the] Choir is endorsing tyranny and [fascism] by singing for this man.”

❝ The famous choir, which is affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), first announced its decision to perform at Trump’s inauguration last week. The news sparked controversy among Mormons—many of whom are deeply ambivalent about Trump—but organizers justified the decision by noting that the group has performed at the inaugural celebrations of both Republican and Democratic presidents.

❝ …The reasoning was not enough for at least one performer: Jan Chamberlin, a member of the choir, published a Facebook post on Thursday morning announcing she would rather quit than sing for Trump…

“Since ‘the announcement,’ I have spent several sleepless nights and days in turmoil and agony…I’ve tried to tell myself that by not going to the inauguration, that I would be able to stay in choir for all the other good reasons. I’ve tried to tell myself that it will be all right and that I can continue in good conscience before God and man.” Chamberlin wrote. “But it’s no use. I simply cannot continue with the recent turn of events. I could never look myself in the mirror again with self respect.”…

❝ “Tyranny is now on our doorstep; it has been sneaking its way into our lives through stealth,” she wrote. “We must continue our love and support for the refugees and the oppressed by fighting against these great evils.”…

“I only know I could never ‘throw roses to Hitler.’ And I certainly could never sing for him,” she wrote.

Bravo! A courageous stand against bigotry. An evil Mormons have often faced in their young history. Too bad so many mainstream and evangelical sects in this land haven’t the same sense of history and justice.