Travelers Chant ‘Lock Him Up’ — Chump In Trump Hat Is Removed From Plane

Passengers chanted “lock him up” as United Airlines had a man sporting a Donald Trump “Make America Great Again” campaign hat is removed from a flight in Shanghai. The man delayed takeoff for hours as he was escorted from the flight for being belligerent…

The incident is the latest in a slew of mid-air confrontations this year, with United hitting the headlines for an ugly incident involving a staff member. This time, passengers were reportedly upset with the unnamed man in the Trump campaign hat for refusing to allow anyone to sit next to him on Flight 187, apparently because he had been refused an upgrade.

❝ He became so disruptive that airline staff told passengers to exit the plane so that they could remove him before the flight could travel to its destination in Newark, according to the airline. By the time the plane took off, it had to make an unscheduled stop in San Francisco to replace the crew, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

In scenes reminiscent of Trump taunting 2016 presidential rival Hillary Clinton at campaign rallies, videos show people in the terminal at Shanghai Pudong International Airport chanting “charge him” and “lock him up” at the man.

Preferably, have him share a cell with The Donald. They deserve each other.

Here’s the silliest “performance art” in the world of let’s-pretend-this-is-art-not-play-therapy or public-masturbation

Performance art is a joke. Taken terribly seriously by the art world, it is a litmus test of pretension and intellectual dishonesty. If you are wowed by it, you are either susceptible to pseudo-intellectual guff, or lying.

Is that overstating the case? Probably. There have been some powerful works of performance art – but most of them took place a long time ago, in the early 1970s, when the likes of Marina Abramovic and Chris Burden were risking all. Or perhaps the golden age of performance art was even longer ago, in the days of the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich in 1916. Back then, Dada performance was a real menace to society, when Hugo Ball stood in a wizard costume declaiming words that made as little sense as the world war then raging.

Today, most art that claims to part of this modern tradition of performance is an embarrassing revelation of the art world’s distance from real aesthetic values or real human life. Take, for instance, the latest nude egg layer from Germany.

Performance artist Milo Moiré creates abstract paintings by pushing eggs filled with paint and ink out of her vaginal canal. She does this while standing naked in front of an audience. The nudity, apparently, is artistically essential. As for the act of pushing paint-filled eggs out of her body, it is – as no doubt you perceive – a powerful feminist statement about women, fertility and creativity.

And yet it’s not a strong statement at all. It is absurd, gratuitous, trite and desperate. Anywhere but an art gathering, this would be regarded as a satire on modern cultural emptiness.

And this is the thing about performance art – it has quite rightly become the stuff of satire. When the film director Paolo Sorrentino wants to capture the brittleness of contemporary European culture in his film The Great Beauty, what does he show? Performance art, naturally. A group of arty folk watch as a woman runs towards a stone aqueduct and bashes her head against it. Afterwards she struggles to explain herself in an embarrassing interview.

You cannot achieve any thoughtful goal by measures banal, uncreative and sufficiently self-centered to be a parody of themselves. Egregious to the point of embarrassing is hardly thought-provoking.

The super donor All-Star trading cards

Collect ’em all: Super donor trading cards

Backer of Democrats and hedge fund billionaire James H. Simons jumps to No. 8 on The Center for Public Integrity’s list of top donors to super PACs, surpassing his former protégé,GOP supporter Robert Mercer, who ranks No. 9.

Democrats also came up with a counter to pro-Republican homebuilder Bob Perry (No. 3), who backed efforts in Texas to pass laws that lower jury verdicts. Husband-and-wife trial lawyers Steve and Amber Mostyn, also of Texas, make their first appearance on the list at No. 10.

Get detailed profiles on all and view “trading cards” of this election’s biggest super PAC donors.

Folks at the Center for Public Integrity get nothing but kudos from me. They work diligently at some of the most boring data mining possible – dedicated to turning up decisions, behavior based on what passes for ethical standards in our political life. Practically mutually-exclusive terms, nowadays.

Lawsuit settled for $3.8 million — Lawyers want $4.7m in fees

Early last year, Toyota agreed to settle the class-action lawsuit with about 2,500 people who complained that high intensity discharge headlights in the second-generation Prius sometimes turned off for no reason…By settling, Toyota avoided having to go in front of a jury or declaring a recall…

Now, five law firms representing plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit against Toyota over the alleged defects say the firms have a right to collect $4.7 million in attorneys fees on the $3.8 million settlement…

Lead firm Girard Gibbs, in a July 30 brief, said the judge with the U.S. Court of Appeals’ Ninth Circuit didn’t properly account for the actual amount billed by the lawyers, which Girard Gibbs estimated at $1.25 million for its 2,900 hours — that’s $431 an hour — and which the other four firms collectively estimated at $1.85 million. No, we’re not sure where the other $1.6 million is coming from either.

The judge estimated that the settlement – which involved cash reimbursements for bulb replacements made within the last five years and extended warranties – was worth about $3.8 million, and that the attorneys had a right to 20 percent of that figure…

So, the judge in the case figured the lawyers were worth about $760K. The lawyers want over six times that amount.

I don’t think those lawyers are worth the powder to blow ’em to Hell.

New Zealand releases their UFO files

Alien worshippers are urging the Government to admit extraterrestrial life is out there after the release of thousands of secret files on UFO sightings.

The Defence Force released thousands of documents detailing alleged UFO sightings between 1952 and 2009 on Wednesday. They include a report into the famous 1978 Kaikoura sighting, where a small plane was tracked by a large cluster of fast-moving bright lights for about 20 minutes.

Aetherius Society NZ organiser Frank McManus says the documents prove the New Zealand Government knows about the existence of alien life.

He is calling for a full state investigation of the sightings…

The Aetherius society…members claim to be in touch with alien life, or ‘Cosmic Masters’, who give messages on how to halt Earth’s slide into ruin…

Other nations including Britain and Brazil have also released Government files on alleged UFO encounters.

The New Zealand Defence Force has said it will not comment on the files, as it was only a collection point for the documents and did not have the resources to investigate or verify their contents.

!. The probability of sentient life forms in one or another galaxy shouldn’t surprise or intimidate anyone who’s gotten an hour or two beyond conventional superstition.

2. The bigger question is why would they ever want to visit Earth? Our governments would probably try to kill them.

Western Nations react to poor education test results

A respected international survey that found teenagers in Shanghai to be the best-educated in the world has prompted officials elsewhere across the globe to question their own educational systems, and even led the British education minister to promise an overhaul in student testing.

The results of the survey — the Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA — issued early Tuesday, were also called “a wake-up call” by the U.S. education secretary.

PISA, conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, based in Paris, is a set of standardized tests that weighs reading comprehension, mathematics and science, and is taken by half a million 15-year-olds in 65 countries.

U.S. officials and Europeans involved in administering the test acknowledged that the Shanghai scores are by no means representative of all of China. But still, the results upended some preconceptions about schooling.

“Two countries with similar levels of prosperity can produce very different results,” Ángel Gurría, the O.E.C.D. secretary general, said in a statement on Tuesday. “This shows that an image of a world divided neatly into rich and well-educated countries and poor and badly educated countries is now out of date…”

Which means most Americans won’t accept the test as meaning much of anything, after all.

The survey showed Finland and South Korea far ahead of the United States in reading comprehension, mathematics and science, prompting stern words from the U.S. education secretary, Arne Duncan.

“We can quibble, or we can face the brutal truth that we’re being out-educated.” Mr. Duncan said.

Designed to compare standards between different education systems around the world, the PISA survey is held every three years. PISA scores are on a scale, with 500 as the average. Two-thirds of students in participating countries score between 400 and 600.

In math, the Shanghai students performed in a class by themselves, outperforming second-place Singapore, which has been seen as an educational superstar in recent years. On the math test last year, students in Shanghai scored 600, in Singapore 562, in Germany 513…

The report also included a finding that in every country surveyed, girls read better than boys — a gap that has widened since 2000. Also included was a finding that the best school systems are the most equitable — where students do well regardless of social background.

Here are the overall scores [.pdf]. Wander down the page and find your home country.

Thanks, Tom

Anthropomorphism and Dehumanization

People talk to their plants, pray to humanlike gods, name their cars, and even dress their pets up in clothing. We have a strong tendency to give nonhuman entities human characteristics (known as anthropomorphism), but why..?

The term anthropomorphism was coined by the Greek philosopher Xenophanes when describing the similarity between religious believers and their gods — that is, Greek gods were depicted having light skin and blue eyes while African gods had dark skin and brown eyes…

Anthropomorphism carries many important implications. For example, thinking of a nonhuman entity in human ways renders it worthy of moral care and consideration. In addition, anthropomorphized entities become responsible for their own actions — that is, they become deserving of punishment and reward.

Although we like to anthropomorphize, we do not assign human qualities to each and every single object we encounter. What accounts for this selectivity? One factor is similarity. An entity is more likely to be anthropomorphized the more similar it appears to humans (for example, through humanlike movements or physical features like a face). Various motivations may also influence anthropomorphism. For example, lacking social connections with other people might motivate lonely individuals to seek out connections from nonhuman items. Anthropomorphism helps us to simplify and make more sense of complicated entities…

Anthropomorphism in reverse is known as dehumanization — when humans are represented as nonhuman objects or animals. There are numerous historical examples of dehumanization including the Nazis’ persecution of Jews during the Holocaust and torture at the Abu-Ghraib prison in Iraq. These examples also suggest that those engaging in dehumanization are usually part of a cohesive group acting against outsiders — that is, individuals who feel socially connected may have an increased tendency towards dehumanization.

The authors note, “Social connection may have benefits for a person’s own health and well-being but may have unfortunate consequences for intergroup relations by enabling dehumanization.”

Too often, we only seem to move from egregious behavior – to being a mob.

Now that the Village Idiot is out of office, Wall Street returns to funding the Republican Party

U.S. banks and investment firms transferred their political contributions to Republicans in 2009 as Democrats in Washington put the focus on big bonuses, huge profits and tight lending, The Washington Post reports.

The securities and investment industry gave 2 to 1 to Democrats in early 2009 but sent nearly half its donations to Republicans by year’s end, according to data complied by the Center for Responsive Politics for the Post.

The commercial banking industry and its employees gave nearly twice as much to Republicans during the last three months of 2009, the newspaper reported…

Obama drew a larger share of Wall Street financial backing than his Republican rival, John McCain, in the 2008 presidential campaign, according to the newspaper, and analysts noted the Democrats still pulled in more money overall than Republicans from Wall Street in 2009.

The shift toward Republicans came later in the year — as the financial reform debate heated up — and was most evident among commercial banks, which have traditionally tilted Republican, the report said.

The report cited JP Morgan Chase, headed by Obama supporter Jamie Dimon, as having scaled back its giving to Democrats.

“The bank and its employees, who doled out nearly $500,000 in federal contributions last year, went from giving 76 percent of the money to Democrats in the first quarter to giving 73 percent to Republicans in the fourth,” the newspaper said.

Face it. George W. Bush was an embarrassment to all but the most ignorant and bigoted Americans. John McBush wasn’t going to be enough of a change.

Wall Street types aren’t about to accept responsibility for their dedication to greed at the cost of nearly destroying the world’s economy. They will not readily accept oversight or honesty as necessary qualities for doing business.

They will dedicate every penny they can spare to returning their most obedient lapdogs to power.

Political hacks in Italy want Nobel for Berlusconi. WTF?

Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

Ever since the Italian media began peering into Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s personal life — and found a host of attractive young women — his supporters have been furiously trying to change the subject.

Among them is a small group with a big plan: to nominate Mr. Berlusconi for the Nobel Peace Prize.

“An Italian hasn’t won the Nobel Peace Prize since 1907,” said Giammario Battaglia, a 36-year-old lawyer who helped start the initiative a few months ago. “We think it’s a good moment.”

He appears to be serious.

The group contends that Mr. Berlusconi, operating behind the scenes and using his close friendship with Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, helped end the conflict between Russia and Georgia last summer. “He saved human lives,” Mr. Battaglia said.

Some are not convinced that that rises to Nobel heights or that Mr. Berlusconi played such a role in ending the war. The claim “sounds quite implausible,” said Mark Medish, a Russia adviser to former President Bill Clinton and a fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace…

This week, a court began examining the use of government planes to shuttle guests to his Sardinian villa, while a court confiscated hundreds of photos of guests in various states of undress at pool parties, on the grounds that releasing them would violate the prime minister’s privacy…

A handful of members of the Italian Parliament have signed on to the Nobel effort’s Web site — with their campaign advertisements for this weekend’s elections for the European Parliament.

A handful of sycophants kissing the boss’s butt.

Climate change scepticism for fun and profit

Don’t fret. You still have plenty of time left to secure your place at the second annual International Conference on Climate Change – which is not, of course, about climate change.

For any of you who are not yet familiar with this venerable event, this conference is the largest coming together of climate change sceptics anywhere outside of, well, the internet. Organised and sponsored by the Heartland Institute which says its mission is to “discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems” and which Milton Friedman once called “a highly effective libertarian institute”, the conference will be asking whether global warming “was ever really a crisis”.

Followed by, “Do poor people really matter?” – “Is it time time to drop the experiment with democracy?” – and the ever-popular favorite, “Why consider anyone else as your equal?”

Sounds fun, doesn’t it? There’s nothing quite like putting tizzying politicians right. But best of all, the generous souls at the Heartland Institute are offering a special 20% discount on the $720 registration fee. All you have to do to qualify is put your name to the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine’s Global Warming Petition, which to date has been signed by 31,072 American scientists, “including 9,021 with PhDs”. Pretty impressive, huh? The signatories all say they agree with the following statement:

“There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gasses is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate. Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth.”

Join other famous signatories like Perry Mason and even one or more of the Spice Girls. I signed up as Mickey M. Mouse.