Middle History

Whereas the novelist creates characters to drive his narrative and arranges plot steps into a dramatic arc toward some sort of resolution, the historian is given his characters and tries to find a plausible narrative to support an unfolding record of events and outcomes. He searches the record to identify the circumstance, interpret the motive.

It might seem like an “objective” pursuit, but there is a built-in bias.

Historians value history because they believe the forgetters of history are the condemned repeaters. They usually acknowledge the companion idea that the “winners” in history also record it for posterity’s “losers”. The temptation is strong, therefore, to construct a dramatic narrative to make history both purposeful and instructive. Put another way, history is often told as a story organized to make a point.
Continue reading Middle History

Who Shot Down MH17 over Ukraine?

– Reader Supported News

U.S. Government Backs Some War Crimes, Not Others
Ukriane Plane Photo Gallery
Are Ukraine and Gaza both part of the same war?

The same day that Israeli tanks crossed into Gaza, to continue killing civilians and the occasional Hamas fighter, MSNBC decided to ignore the Israeli invasion in favor of wall-to-wall coverage of the presumed shoot-down of Malaysian Airliner MH17 over eastern Ukraine. Why would MSNBC make a choice that looks so much like propaganda?

The last time the Israelis invaded Gaza, in 2009, more than 100 Palestinians died for each Israeli killed. The 13 dead Israelis were soldiers on the attack, the 1,400-plus dead Palestinians were mostly civilians with nowhere safe to go. That hasn’t changed much.
Continue reading Who Shot Down MH17 over Ukraine?

Field School Update #3

Monday begins the fourth and final week of the Belize archeology field school. This has been an enormous amount of hard work. On Monday my digging technically ended. I am now in the lab analyzing the enormous hoard of ceramics we excavated. As I know nothing of Mayan ceramics it’s been a crash course in analysis and learning. I can now distinguish between Mt. Maloney Late Classic I and II and Terminal. Add to that some Belize Red Ash Ware, a boatload of Cayo unslipped (huge elegantly curved jars) the occasional Alexander’s Unslipped, Dolphin Head Red, Garbutt Creek and a few other and I’m actually learning.

On the last active day of digging our efforts were interrupted when a troupe of Howler Monkeys came in to inspect what we were doing. There were eight of them, just swinging around in the trees right above our excavated units, tossing poop and peeing where ever they wanted to. One almost pissed on my dig partner. He’s a douche and would have deserved it.

Random thoughts: having spent the better part of three weeks looking inside the innards of a Mayan pyramid I am not terribly impressed with their architectural prowess. It’s very rudimentary and ad hoc. On the medial terrace we were excavating, we were looking for and found what they call ‘construction pins’ which serve as a kind of support pier to keep the downward thrust of the pyramid from imploding. They do what they are supposed to do and have held up well. But as architecture goes they’re ugly and asymmetrical. That’s the weird thing about Mayan pyramids, or any city/group structure in general: they are accretive. Few were built in just one building spree like contemporaneous works, take the Samanid mausoleum for example. Elegant, symmetrical and nothing ad hoc about it.

One thing I am aware of every time I dig here in Belize is that the Mayans had no metal weapons, nor did they have beasts of burden like the horse. This had a lot to do with the construction techniques they employed. There are no large dressed stones like the pyramids in Egypt. Every stone in this pyramid could have been carried by one man. And the labor that went into their construction?

The heat is abominable. I am going to sleep in a refrigerator when I return home. The humidity is terrible too.

It’s been an interesting experience, alas, what little curiosity I had in the Maya has been fully satisfied. I’m a desert guy. Jungles are too hot, have too many bugs and are way too loud. There is never any silence in the jungle. Not like that you find in the desert for sure.

You can find the photos and videos of the Howler Monkey invasion here.


You Gotta WATCH This One…,

yeah…, the transcripts of Moyers is usually enough…, and I usually don’t watch the “web extras”…, but I did tonight. I have never seen Moyers as worked up or agitated as this. I thought he was ready to throttle the guy…, I would have.

Moyers Takes on a “Compassionate” Conservative

Full Show: The Conscience of a Compassionate Conservative
July 25, 2014

Politicians in Washington, DC, seem to have stopped talking — and listening — to their colleagues across the aisle, contributing to our virtually deadlocked Congress. While Washington appears to have stopped their conversations, Bill decided to start a new one.

This week he speaks with the American Enterprise Institute’s president Arthur C. Brooks, whose political views in large measure differ from his own, on how to fight America’s widening inequality.

Brooks says that despite the heated rhetoric of the far right, the compassionate conservatism once touted by George W. Bush isn’t dead. It’s alive and well at the conservative AEI, where Brooks became president in 2009. Residing now at the top of the conservative pecking order in Washington, Brooks advises Republican leaders in Congress and spreads AEI’s message to a wider audience. His specialty, as Newsweek describes it, is “translating ideas from policy speak into soaring moral prose.” One of his key ideas: The endgame of free enterprise is not to preserve wealth but to create opportunity for the poor.

“Republicans could come screaming out of the gate going forward and say, ‘We’re the ones who will fight for the poor. We’re the ones who will fight for workers,’” Brooks tells Bill. “You might not agree with what we’re gonna– how we’re gonna do it, but let me tell you, you will not doubt what’s on our hearts.”

Moyers presses Brooks on why companies like Target, McDonald’s and Wal-Mart don’t pay a living wage to their employees who then have to rely on public programs to support themselves – in Walmart’s case, about $4,000 per worker. Brooks argues the market doesn’t support higher wages and agrees that the country needs public policies that make work profitable for workers.

TGIF- Friday catblogging

Thursday Night and Beyond… Jukebox: Water & Wine

OK, Agonistas- this week has been beyond horrible- every single story of ours since the last Jukebox, every news outlet, every blog site – look at them, look at us!
Sometimes that world’s just too much to take nonstop.

So though the regular Jukebox usually kicks in on  Saturday,
a special early one to help get through this week together
whatever other news stories come in.

“Water & Wine”, Not necessarily sacramental :-)
Songs on one or both, whatever you make of this.
Regulars, try to come up with something you haven’t had a chance to get to before.

Post away!


First water- then wine from me

Led Zeppelin: When the Levee Breaks

Continue reading Thursday Night and Beyond… Jukebox: Water & Wine

Yesterday a Hospital; Today a School.

Okay, Agonistas, enough is enough.  Yes, Hamas refuses to recognize Israel as a “state”. But the carnage has taken on the fury of a slaughter. Yesterday, killed and wounded at a HOSPITAL; today, more than twice as many killed and wounded at a U.N. SCHOOL used to shelter refugees. I am going crazy over this Goliath v. David scenario: total role reversal of Israel v. Hamas in a damned refugee encampment for gods’ sake! I am going to think very, very carefully a bout my U.S. IRS taxes going into armaments, munitions, and materiel to the Israelis.

I don’t give a flying rat’s ass about how the tallies of Hamas rockets have terrorized Israelis since so far, the toll stands two Israeli civilians v. over 600 civilian Gazans. Those #’s do not justify retaliation on the scale that the Israelis are deploying.  Period. Screw anyone claiming anti-Semitism in this screed. It is simple humanitarian care and concern for non-combatants who are being decimated by massive superior force.  I am so repulsed by the usual polite discussions of “proportional force” and why Israel has to use it on civilians.

Continue reading Yesterday a Hospital; Today a School.

The Secret Government Rulebook For Labeling You a Terrorist

The Intercept, By Jeremy Scahill & Ryan Devereaux, July 23

The Obama administration has quietly approved a substantial expansion of the terrorist watchlist system, authorizing a secret process that requires neither “concrete facts” nor “irrefutable evidence” to designate an American or foreigner as a terrorist, according to a key government document obtained by The Intercept.

The “March 2013 Watchlisting Guidance,” a 166-page document issued last year by the National Counterterrorism Center, spells out the government’s secret rules for putting individuals on its main terrorist database, as well as the no fly list and the selectee list, which triggers enhanced screening at airports and border crossings.

The new guidelines allow individuals to be designated as representatives of terror organizations without any evidence they are actually connected to such organizations, and it gives a single White House official the unilateral authority to place “entire categories” of people the government is tracking onto the no fly and selectee lists. It broadens the authority of government officials to “nominate” people to the watchlists based on what is vaguely described as “fragmentary information.” It also allows for dead people to be watchlisted.
Continue reading The Secret Government Rulebook For Labeling You a Terrorist

One Dimensional Press – One Dimensional Policy

GLENN GREENWALD: American media officials are incredibly subservient to American political officials. That’s been—you know, American media figures are. But when it comes to Israeli political officials, it’s virtually cringe-inducing to watch how accommodating and deferential and submissive they become.

There’s a fundamental problem in our world today: neither our governments nor our press are doing their jobs. Both groups seem to be working for someone else, because governments are either trying to conceal their motives (hence their love for secrecy) or they try to obfuscate by presenting a false motive for their actions.

The press is worse than useless, because they go along with the desire of the politicians to hide their motives and conceal their bad behavior from the people. The press behaves more like a cheering section than “the fourth estate,” whose job is to inform the people. As the old champions die off or retire, they are not being replaced. The news media are more concerned with entertaining their audience than they are with informing them. Poor show, as the Brits would say! Shame on you!

Continue reading One Dimensional Press – One Dimensional Policy

Compassion in Action II-Arizona Inmate Dies 2 Hours After Execution Begins

AP -FLORENCE, Ariz. — A condemned Arizona inmate gasped and snorted for more than an hour and a half during his execution Wednesday before he died in an episode sure to add to the scrutiny surrounding the death penalty in the U.S.

Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne’s office said Joseph Rudolph Wood was pronounced dead at 3:49 p.m., one hour and 57 minutes after the execution started.

Wood’s lawyers had filed an emergency appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court while the execution was underway, demanding that it be stopped. The appeal said Wood was “gasping and snorting for more than an hour.”

Word that Justice Anthony Kennedy denied the appeal came about a half hour after Wood’s death.

Compassion in Action

Read this story and tell me where the logical fallacies comes in.

Done? OK, let’s get to work: Continue reading Compassion in Action

Texas governor to deploy 1,000 National Guard troops to border

Reuters, By Jon Herskovitz, July 21

Austin, TX – Texas Governor Rick Perry said on Monday he planned to send 1,000 Texas National Guard troops to the Mexican border to boost security during an influx of illegal immigration by children, a move that could increase pressure on President Barack Obama.

Perry, seen as a possible Republican candidate in the 2016 presidential race, said the guard troops were needed because the flood of children crossing from Mexico had pushed federal border protection to its limits.

“The price of inaction is too high for Texas to pay,” Perry told a news conference.

The governor’s announcement came just days before Obama plans to meet with the leaders of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador on Friday to discuss cooperation dealing with the flow of child migrants from Central America.

Where is the UN in all of this mayhem?

You remember, the UN,   created to respond to international crises, before the holder of the office of the Secretary General had to be hand-picked by the US (Goodbye, Boutros Boutros-Ghali and  Kofi Annan, for sure), and the misuse of the veto by East and West and..and… ;-)

Even the near-appearance of a UN session, such as Colin Powell’s  charts and pointers. is gone.

Now we have:

MH17: UN resolution on ensuring crash site access set for Monday

Russia will support final version in security council vote if no one is blamed, according to reports in Australian newspaper

Continue reading Where is the UN in all of this mayhem?

Islamic State kills 270 in Syrian gas field ‘massacre’

Militant jihadist group kills dozens of Syrian troops and workers in its largest attack yet on the regime

Reuters, July 19

Jihadists have killed 270 Syrian regime fighters, civilian security guards and employees since seizing a gas field in Homs province, a monitoring group said Friday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights described Thursday’s takeover of the Shaar field as “the biggest” anti-regime operation by the Islamic State (IS) since it emerged in the Syrian conflict last year.

The watchdog, updating an earlier toll of 115, said it had documented “the death of 270 people killed in the fighting or executed” since Thursday.

“A large majority of the men killed were executed at gunpoint after being taken prisoner following the takeover of the camp,” said Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman.

Rape at College, Then Rape by College

Reader Supported News


Hobart & William Smith Colleges does a Steubenville

Two weeks after the fall term started, an unknown number of male students, apparently including members of the undefeated football team at Hobart and William Smith Colleges (Hobart), raped an 18-tear-old freshman girl who’d had too much to drink. Hobart’s response was to re-rape the child bureaucratically by ignoring evidence and finding the alleged rapists not guilty. It was a sham of an administrative adjudication that failed to meet even a shadow of fairness, competence, or even intellectual plausibility. Hobart stands by its dishonest decision. Case closed.
Continue reading Rape at College, Then Rape by College