Category Archives: Austerity

Hot Air

Learnin’ — Who Needs It?

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is back on the slicing and dicing trail. This time he wields his machete against the state’s university system that serves 180,000 students and employs 39,000..

Walker, of course, is an early, early, early front runner in the Republican beauty pageant for the 2016 presidential nomination. He came out on top in a Des Moines Register/Bloomberg poll of GOPers yesterday, edging out even Jeb Bush in popularity among likely Repub. voters. That’s the way things stand — this minute at least.

Walker

This Minute’s It Guy

Anyway, Walker’s big news of late has been his desire to slash the state’s financing of the University of Wisconsin by a cool one-third in his next budget. As of now, Wisconsin spends about $1 billion a year on its university system. Walker proposes cutting $300 million from that total.

Criss-crossing the state and even appearing on the nationally televised Sunday morning gasbag programs, Walker adds that professors and other U. teachers just might have to start thinking about teaching more classes and working longer hours. The Guv is falling back on the old Republican canard wherein teachers are sitting around smoking pipes, reading the Socialist Worker, and planning their next wife-swapping get-together.

Scads o’ Republicans these days think all a college teacher has to do is spout some facts and figures for 45 minutes and then go back to plotting the overthrow of god. In addition to the grueling hours major university instructors put in preparing classes, actually teaching, meeting with students, grading papers and trying to keep up with advances in educational theory, many also engage in research in whatever field they’re in. The U. of WI demands that its teachers do research. This is how our breadth of knowledge is expanded. Seems inarguable, right? Wrong. In fact, one of Walker’s coat-holders, speaker of the Wisconsin assembly Robin Voss says, “Of course I want research but I want to have research that focuses on a way of growing our economy, not on ancient mating habits of whatever.”

Cute, huh?

Reminds me of Sarah Palin’s old line — back when she was inexplicably relevant — about university researchers spending our good, hard-earned tax dollars on studying fruit flies. Fruit flies! Imagine that. How inane! Her GOP audiences ate that stuff up. Only the fruit fly studies she was talking about were agriculturally significant in terms of invasive species knowledge, but also were being done by genetics researchers. They use fruit flies because the little buggers’ life span is so short; scientists can learn about numerous generations of mutations within a few weeks. Gregor Mendel would be proud.

It’s one thing for a dingbat like Palin to spout nonsense but when a presidential contender’s loyal lieutenant starts talking like a baboon, things suddenly begin looking a little grim for this holy land.

The Bestseller That Nobody Has

One of the hottest books out right now is Pioneer Girl, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s recently released memoir, complete with annotations. Well, let me amend that: the book is out, but not out. Wait, what? Yeah, PG was released back in November and quickly sold out. Its publisher the South Dakota Historical Society Press isn’t used to dealing in blockbusters. Not when its catalog includes such page turners as County Capitals: The Courthouses of South Dakota and The Mystery of the Pheasants.

One of the big publishing houses would have rushed second, third, and fourth printings off before impatient book buyers could stomp their feet twice. As of this moment, SDHSP has issued no statements about when Pioneer Girl will be available again.

Book Cover

We had a couple of copies at the Book Corner back at the end of last year. They passed through our hands so quickly I didn’t even have a chance to thumb through them. So, if you’re a fan of the creator of the Little House on the Prairie series, you’ll just have to cool your heels.

Magic Pill

Let’s recognize the passing of the scientist who helped women achieve whatever modicum of equality they enjoy today.

The Pill — no other identifier is needed — was created in large part by one Carl Djerassi, chemist, novelist, and playwright. Back in 1951 he and two research partners (there’s that old bugaboo again, research) figured out how to make the synthetic steroid hormone, norethisterone, usable in a tablet taken orally. The hormone effectively prevented ovulation in women taking The Pill daily during their fertile weeks of the month. (The Pill regimen usually includes placebos to be taken during those days when the women is not fertile.)

The Pill

Good ol’ Doc Djerassi — who, coincidentally enough, earned his PhD form the University of Wisconsin — died Friday. He was 91. Like many scientists of his generation, Djerassi escaped from Nazi occupied territory back in the 1930s.

The Pill just may have been the single most important scientific or technological advancement aiding the cause of women’s rights. It allowed women to enjoy sex without worrying about conceiving. It was approved for use by the US Food and Drug Administration in 1960. Next thing anybody knew, women were agitating for things like equal pay, workplace advancement, progressive rape laws, and others. Because The Pill was the first birth control method that women exclusively control every day, their newfound self-dominion inspired a greater desire for autonomy in many other areas.

Djerassi

Dr. Carl Djerassi

Its benefit has extended well beyond women. I know for a fact that The Pill has aided me in my desire never to reproduce. For that alone, the world should give thanks to Carl Djerassi.

The Pencil Today:

THE QUOTE

“More things in politics happen by accident or exhaustion than happen by conspiracy.” — Jeff Greenfield

BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG SKY

Heads up for another cool sky show tonight.

The annual Leonids meteor shower will peak tonight after midnight. Look toward the constellation Leo when it rises and, if you’re lucky, you’ll catch ten or a dozen shooting stars and hour. The apparent origin point of the shower will be smack dab in the middle of the question mark formed by the lion’s head. That bright star at the base of the question mark is Regulus, known as “the lion’s heart.”

This should be a terrific year for viewing the shower because this sky is expected to be clear and the moon will be a sliver.

So turn off your TV, bundle up, and watch that sky.

MAD MEN

A hat tip to Professor Richard Lloyd of Vanderbilt University for pointing out this one in Salon.

Republican state senators in Georgia held a meeting a month ago to discuss the maddest conspiracy theory yet. Apparently, the GOP legislators believe President Barack Obama is using advanced brainwashing techniques to turn Americans into pliant sheep so that he and the United Nations can take away private property rights, depopulate the suburbs, move everybody into the cities, and otherwise turn this holy land into some kind of dystopia straight out of a cheap science fiction novel.

Svengali

Again, this is not an Onion article. It’s no joke. I get the feeling I’m going to have to get used to typing that line as time goes by in this, Obama’s second term.

Here’s the dope from the dopes:

The United Nations has an action plan called Agenda 21, created 20 years ago during the Rio global environment conference. It deals with sustainable development, which the sane among us dig, but the psychologically disturbed see as some kind of an Hitlerian/Stalinist plot to enslave us all.

Agenda 21 is a non-binding, voluntary program that most countries of the world, even these United States, at least pay positive lip service to. The Georgia senators, on the other hand, see things differently.

It’s a “conspiracy to transform America from the land of the free to the land of the collective.” So says a man named Field Searcy, a former Tea Party honcho (that figures) who was booted from the party because he seemed a tad, shall we say, deranged.

If you’re considered deranged among Tea Party-ists, you are deranged indeed.

If This Guy Thinks You’re Nuts….

Searcy led the meeting which was called by Georgia Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers, who bills himself the “taxpayers (sic) best friend,” and was held at the state capitol. So this is no secret cabal getting together under cover of night in some dank basement.

Anyway, Obama’s using a something called the Delphi technique to control the innocents of our nation. It was developed during the Cold War by Project RAND (later known as the RAND Corporation) and it has something to do with making behavior forecasts utilizing the collective thinking of a group as opposed to the wildly divergent thinking done by individuals. How this becomes a nefarious thought control tool is not explained by Searcy et al.

Searcy and his fellow dementos believe municipal, county, and state governments are in on this plot along with the commies, brown people, and Muslims of the UN as well as the chief destroyer of America, Obama himself.

According to political reporter Jim Galloway of the Atlanta Journal Constitution, a videographer recorded the first hour of the meeting and then was kicked out of the room. The logical conclusion is that subsequent discussion must have been even more batty than that recounted here.

I suppose if certain anti-Obama-ites have their way and do indeed secede from the union, they should call themselves the United States of the Cuckoo’s Nest.

AUSTERITY, NO

Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! writes in Truthdig that the movement against austerity measures is gaining ground all across the globe.

This news makes me feel a bit better after writing the previous story.

Thanks, Amy

It seems the reelection of Barack Obama and the repudiation of so many Republican candidates a week ago Tuesday is our nation’s little way of rebelling against austerity. Sure, some young people took to the streets for a few months in the Occupy movement of 2011 but, honestly, that had about as much effect as tossing an LSD tab into a big city’s water supply in hopes of turning the populace on.

Most of the American citizenry believe money should remain safely in the hands of the uber-wealthy, no matter what folks say about raising taxes on the rich. Not so elsewhere in the world. We fetishize the plutocracy; the rest of humanity looks upon the Midas class properly, as one would a mobster making you an offer you can’t refuse.

How else would you explain the popularity of Donald Trump?

Execrable, Albeit Explainable

APPROPRIATELY NAMED

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