Friday, October 16, 2015

Twins double your pleasure

Many years ago - in the earliest stages of my second pregnancy - I watched a program on multiple births. The commentator waxed eloquently on the close relationship bond that multiples share, and I was entranced by the idea. I was particularly struck by his closing comment, "The best gift a parent could give a child was its twin."

And in that brief moment in time-oh, how I wanted twins. I combed both sides of the family tree, discovered there were some multiple births, and crossed my fingers. Mother Nature, however, proved she'd quite a twisted sense of humor. She didn't split the egg but the personality. I birthed a Gemini with all the quirks of two wrapped inside one body.

But I digress.

Eight months ago I became the honorary grandmother to an adorable set of identical twin girls. Born prematurely, at only a few pounds apiece, they are now thriving. As I watch them develop I'm most surprised at how different they are from each other. I guess I thought identical twins would be little clones of each other. But from the moment of birth their progress and personalities are quite unique.

So I decided to do a little research and found:

11 Facts About Twins That Make Them Even Cooler Than You Already Thought

 |  By
Here are only a couple of facts I learned through Ms. Jacques article. 
Identical twins do not have identical fingerprints. 


Their genetic makeup originates from the same source but can develop differently in each twin 


Mirror image identical twins have reverse asymmetric features.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Oligarchy or Democracy


noun ol·i·gar·chy \ˈä-lə-ˌgär-kē, ˈō-\
: a country, business, etc., that is controlled by a small group of people
: the people that control a country, business, etc.
: government or control by a small group of people


noun de·moc·ra·cy \di-ˈmä-krə-sē\
: a form of government in which people choose leaders by voting
: a country ruled by democracy
: an organization or situation in which everyone is treated equally and has equal rights

In the United States of America where big business and the upper 2% control all the money in the land - can we still call ourselves democratic?

According to an article by the BBC and a Princeton study the US is no longer a democracy. 

The US is dominated by a rich and powerful elite.
So concludes a recent study by Princeton University Prof Martin Gilens and Northwestern University Prof Benjamin I Page.

After extensive research, two professors explain the US's form of government and say it is an Oligarchy.

Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence. 

The BBC article puts this in plain English for us: the wealthy few move policy, while the average American has little power.
The two professors came to this conclusion after reviewing answers to 1,779 survey questions asked between 1981 and 2002 on public policy issues. They broke the responses down by income level, and then determined how often certain income levels and organized interest groups saw their policy preferences enacted.
"A proposed policy change with low support among economically elite Americans (one-out-of-five in favor) is adopted only about 18% of the time," they write, "while a proposed change with high support (four-out-of-five in favor) is adopted about 45% of the time."

On the other hand:
When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organized interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the US political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favor policy change, they generally do not get it. 

The study goes further to say:
Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association and a widespread (if still contested) franchise. But we believe that if policymaking is dominated by powerful business organizations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America's claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened. 

Eric Zuess, writing in Counterpunch, isn't surprised by the survey's results.
"American democracy is a sham, no matter how much it's pumped by the oligarchs who run the country (and who control the nation's "news" media)," he writes. "The US, in other words, is basically similar to Russia or most other dubious 'electoral' 'democratic' countries. We weren't formerly, but we clearly are now."

This is the "Duh Report", says Death and Taxes magazine's Robyn Pennacchia. Maybe, she writes, Americans should just accept their fate.
"Perhaps we ought to suck it up, admit we have a classist society and do like England where we have a House of Lords and a House of Commoners," she writes, "instead of pretending as though we all have some kind of equal opportunity

This is what Jimmy Carter had to say:

Former president Jimmy Carter said Tuesday on the nationally syndicated radio show the Thom Hartmann Program that the United States is now an “oligarchy” in which “unlimited political bribery” has created “a complete subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors.” Both Democrats and Republicans, Carter said, “look upon this unlimited money as a great benefit to themselves.”
Carter was responding to a question from Hartmann about recent Supreme Court decisions on campaign financing like Citizens United.
HARTMANN: Our Supreme Court has now said, “unlimited money in politics.” It seems like a violation of principles of democracy. … Your thoughts on that?
CARTER: It violates the essence of what made America a great country in its political system. Now it’s just an oligarchy, with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for president or to elect the president. And the same thing applies to governors and U.S. senators and congress members. So now we’ve just seen a complete subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors, who want and expect and sometimes get favors for themselves after the election’s over. … The incumbents, Democrats and Republicans, look upon this unlimited money as a great benefit to themselves. Somebody’s who’s already in Congress has a lot more to sell to an avid contributor than somebody who’s just a challenger.

Bernie Sanders Proposes Public Funding of Campaigns

ROLLINSFORD, N.H. – Decrying the influence of big money in American politics, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders on Sunday said he will introduce legislation to provide public funding of elections. “We’re going to introduce legislation which will allow people to run for office without having to beg money from the wealthy and the powerful,” Sanders said.
He called the current campaign finance system a “sad state of affairs.” Public funding, he added, would level the political playing field and make elections more competitive. It also would let candidates spend more time meeting voters and discussing issues and less time raising campaign funds. “That’s called democracy and I am going to do everything I can to bring that about,” Sanders said.

Public funding of campaigns would counteract the disastrous Supreme Court ruling in a case known as Citizens United. That 2010 case and others which followed in its wake have gutted decades-old limits on campaign funding and paved the way for millionaires and billionaires to spend unlimited sums to influence election outcomes. “We must overturn that decision before it’s too late,” Sanders told the crowd here. “We are increasingly living in an oligarchy where big money is buying politicians,” Sanders added.
He cited former President Jimmy Carter’s concerns about how the Citizens United ruling resulting in “unlimited political bribery.”
The senator compared politicians to NASCAR drivers with their sponsor’s logos emblazoned on their uniforms. He imagined a politician with a sign saying, “I’m sponsored by the Koch brothers” or “I’m sponsored by Big Oil.” Said Sanders, “It’s a really sad state of affairs.”
In his own presidential campaign, Sanders has said he does not want help from super PACs, which the Citizens United ruling spawned. Instead, during the first two months after he declared his candidacy, Sanders has relied on contributors who gave him small donations.
Altogether, more than 76.5 percent of all his contributions – totaling more than $10.5 million – came from individuals who donated less than $200.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Picking on the South, yes I am

This was the article on FB that I decided to comment on:

New Social Studies Textbooks In Texas Do Not Mention KKK Or Jim Crow Laws

Author: July 6, 2015 8:30 pm
We saw it coming. We knew it was nearly inevitable. First, it was creationism in Biology textbooks. Then, it was the battle for Moses in the Social Studies textbooks, which included teaching right-wing political views as history. And finally, they’ve successfully done the impossible. The Washington Post is reporting that this fall, over five million public school students will be taught using  social studies textbooks that do not so much as mention the Ku Klux Klan or Jim Crow laws. In fact, it is reported that the new Texas guidelines for American history “barely address racial segregation.”
And how is the history of the Civil War being taught? Well, it was states’ rights of course!
Pat Hardy, a Republican who sat on the state board of education in 2010, when these new standards were adopted, says:
“There would be those who would say the reason for the Civil War was over slavery. No. It was over states’ rights.”
According to Hardy, the issue of slavery was a “side issue to the Civil War” and now that is exactly how it will be taught in public schools in Texas. Children will be learning that the war was driven because of “sectionalism, states’ rights and slavery” – deliberately documented in that order in the new books.
Amazingly enough, Rod Paige, who is a Republican who served under George W. Bush as education secretary, met this change with criticism:
“I’m of the view that the history of slavery and civil rights are dominant elements of our history and have shaped who we are today. We may not like our history, but it’s history.”
While the fury surrounding the confederate flag continues, we are reminded just why there is so much “pride” on behalf of the southern states – revisionist history. And now, that history is coming to Texas school kids this fall. Pew Research Center conducted a survey in 2011 which showed that nearly half (48 percent) of those asked believe the Civil War was about states’ rights while 38 percent said it was mainly about slavery. Just like Texas’ textbooks, those that argue states’ rights seem to omit the right the south was fighting for: keeping human beings as property.
The civil rights era was an extremely historic time for our country. Yet, kids in Texas won’t be learning the history of Jim Crow laws, the role the KKK played in the oppressive nature of the south, or the impacts of racial segregation. Because apparently knowledge is an extremely dangerous thing when attempting to mold the future base of the grand old party.
How many racism deniers will be created when their public schools omit the important lessons that our history teaches us? Will future generations understand the tragedy that existed in the south that was not only the act of owning and selling human beings, but then also using that as a compelling reason to rally for “states’ rights” TO continue to own and sell human beings as property – so strongly that they were willing to divide the country?
Texas’ schools ranked 39 in the nation – certainly not a stellar grade for the Lone Star State.

I stepped into the forum by saying:

    • Robin  Supposedly history is written by the victor but this isn't true of the Civil War and the years of desegregation. The south persists on revising history to candy coat their racist acts as heritage

    • Dave  The "South" does not commit racist acts. The US won the Spanish American war also, didn't stop Spanish from being Spanish or flying their flag. We won the war with Japan, no one is demanding they don't fly their flag or honor their fallen. BTW Japan ...See More
    • Dave  BTW, have any idea where the KKK headquarters are? That would be Michigan....
    • Robin  Funny how out of all the comments saying the same thing I did you choose to reply to mine. It makes me feel you want a rebuttal so here goes. I was born and raised in Missouri, a state that was torn apart by the civil war. I lived through desegregation. I've studied both sides of the historical coin, and, frankly I'm sick to death of southerns pretending it doesn't hurts others to see the confederate flag. Or that it won't further harm the rights of ALL regardless of race/creed/or gender by hiding behind revisionist history. These acts are cowardly. I think you've stated before that the KKK is in Michigan though I still don't know how that supposedly makes southern racism correct. However, the KKK was created in Tennessee right after the civil war. Since then they've continually tried to spread their message of hate and misinformation.
    • Dave I currently live in Missouri.. .want to have coffee? Just kidding.. As southern born and raised I was taking offense to the generalization of the south. Prejudice was never preached or allowed in my home and still isn't today. My family has a history or black BFF's and that's not uncommon with southern people. Do we have bad apples, yes. There are also bad apples in the North but I don't call out the entire "North" because of them.
    • Robin Proportionally it isn't the same
    • Dave Oh well, guess we just aren't proportional. And, frankly Scarlet..
    • Robin  but I do and that is the problem between us
    • Dave  No, I told you what the problem is... You generalize about the "South." It's like saying all Muslims are al qaeda.
    • Robin  If the majority of southerns aren't racist they won't revise history to make them sound better and they'll remove the confederate flag from public view. It is things like that which give the rest of the nation such a narrow view of them. Now, I know you'll have to have the last word and I need to get to work. So have at it.
    • Dave I'm sure I speak for the entire southern half of the United States when I say...yawn..
Ah, Dave, I expected better of you. I'd hope you'd finally make some effort at a meaningful contribution to the dialogue. 

Maybe you saw that you couldn't. As, truthfully, you'd have had to do a lot better than what you'd written so far. None of your previous comments made much sense. Take this one: 'the US won the Spanish American war also, didn't stop Spanish from being Spanish or flying their flag. We won the war with Japan, no one is demanding they don't fly their flag or honor their fallen.' How is this a rational or valid point? Neither Spain or Japan ever belonged to the US. Our wars with these sovereign nations had nothing to do with secession.

Did you consider it a rational or constructive rebuttal to my original comment to call it a national problem? The post in question is about Texas changing the history book so they no longer reflect reality.

You found it necessary to say that KKK is in Michigan. Again I'm not sure what bearing that has on the subject at hand. However, I sent you the most updated link I could find showing all the places the KKK have headquarters. Doesn't change the fact the hate group originated in Tennessee. 

You then point out there are good and bad people. Yes, dear, we all know this to be true. It is time for the good ones to stand up for what is right, to recognize and take action ensuring the equality of all. It's time for the needs of the many to outweigh the needs of the few. Confederate flags (a symbol of hatred from the desegregation years) should be removed from public view. Keep your heritage in museums and not where the sight of it hurts others.
Oh, and, my favorite comment, that you've got black friends. I'm so pleased for you. Now, Dave, why don't you honor these friends by not candy-coating their history. 

History shouldn't be rewritten so the southern states can feel better about themselves. You can't hide the past of slavery, Jim Crow laws, and rampant discrimination. 

Take down the confederate flag, keep history accurate as it's more important to honor the living than the dead.

What's more? I believe you know this. Which is why you suddenly felt it necessary to act as if you didn't give a damn by feigning boredom. 

How cowardly.

Deny if you must but if you hadn't cared - if you didn't know you stood on the wrong side of history - you wouldn't have been so upset about my comment in the first place.

You'll have to look it up - you do know how to research don't you? - but I believe your *yawn* is number 11on the list of how men argue. It's an underhanded, childish manipulation to win an argument already lost. Did you really think I'd back down because you tried to diminish my viewpoint? You're all posturing without substance and all you've managed to do is convince me you are another bigot with their head in the sand.

The only thing you got right is that I do pick on the south. I pick on that part of our nation because that is where confederate flags are still being flown over state capitals. I pick on southerns because of situations like Texas where they're trying to revise history. Any attempts to hide the dirty past of slavery, Jim Crow laws, and the horrors enacted by the KKK are dishonorable.

Why do I pick on the south? Let me end this with a sight I saw all too often growing up. Look at this woman's face, contorted in hate, as she screams slurs.
How has it changed? 
 And, finally let's put the whole the civil war wasn't fought over slaves issue to rest. According to the Confederate States of America - Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union, it states:

These ends it endeavored to accomplish by a Federal Government, in which each State was recognized as an equal, and had separate control over its own institutions. The right of property in slaves was recognized by giving to free persons distinct political rights, by giving them the right to represent, and burthening them with direct taxes for three-fifths of their slaves; by authorizing the importation of slaves for twenty years; and by stipulating for the rendition of fugitives from labor.
We affirm that these ends for which this Government was instituted have been defeated, and the Government itself has been made destructive of them by the action of the non-slaveholding States. Those States have assume the right of deciding upon the propriety of our domestic institutions; and have denied the rights of property established in fifteen of the States and recognized by the Constitution; they have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery; they have permitted open establishment among them of societies, whose avowed object is to disturb the peace and to eloign the property of the citizens of other States. They have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes; and those who remain, have been incited by emissaries, books and pictures to servile insurrection.
For twenty-five years this agitation has been steadily increasing, until it has now secured to its aid the power of the common Government. Observing the forms of the Constitution, a sectional party has found within that Article establishing the Executive Department, the means of subverting the Constitution itself. A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery. He is to be entrusted with the administration of the common Government, because he has declared that that "Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free," and that the public mind must rest in the belief that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction. 

You can see the document in its entirety at