My book has been released

Note: I am going to keep this as the new top post for a while. Later posts will appear below it so please scroll down.

To find out more information about the book, click here and for ordering information (including discounts) click here. You can read the first three chapters at the Amazon webpage for the book. (Click on the ‘Look inside’ link at the top left.) Barnes and Noble gives a smaller excerpt (Click on the red arrow on the cover image.).

If those of you who read it and could spare a few moments to post a review on the various book-related sites and as comments here as well, I would really appreciate it.


Samantha Bee on the impeachment trial

If one wanted evidence of how degraded the US political system has become, look no further than the current impeachment process against Donald Trump. Supposedly a process where possible wrongdoing by a president that might require removal from office comes under careful scrutiny, it retains all the formal trappings that hide a hollow core, now a cynical charade where the Republican party has taken a determined ‘See no evil, hear no evil” approach, indeed extending it to “See nothing, hear nothing” approach by refusing to allow any witnesses or new information or testimony, and the accused Trump even boasting that he refuses to release the information that he has.

It is a symptom of a degenerate system, one whose foundations are tottering because of the willful ignoring of basic democratic norms.

Samantha Bee walks us through the opening day.

I am sick of stories of the execution of innocent people

We have yet again another depressing story of new evidence emerging that a man who was executed two years ago while strenuously pleading his innocence of the crime may have been telling the truth.

The day before Ledell Lee was executed on 20 April 2017, he talked to the BBC from death row. He said that while he could not prevent the state of Arkansas from killing him, he had a message for his executioners: “My dying words will always be, as it has been: ‘I am an innocent man’.”

Almost two years after Lee was strapped to a gurney and injected with a lethal cocktail of drugs, it looks increasingly likely he was telling the truth: he went to his death an innocent man. New evidence has emerged that suggests Lee was not guilty of the brutal murder of a woman in 1993 for which his life was taken.
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Are you forgetting some things? Don’t panic

I am of the age when many of my contemporaries worry about dementia. This results in them taking steps that they think will lower the probability of that happening, such as exercise and learning new things. There are many articles such as this one that make recommendations to stave off dementia using just lifestyle changes alone. Following all the recommendations can be overwhelming. I don’t know how much they actually help but they are good things to do for their own sake because they enrich life and even if people do them out of a mistaken belief in their neurological efficacy, they are still worthwhile.
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Bernie Sanders surges to the top in new polls

Newsweek has released a new poll that finds that Bernie Sanders has surged to the top and is the Democratic candidate who leads Trump by the widest margin.

SurveyUSA asked 4,069 registered voters nationwide how they would vote in an election today if Trump was pitted against each of the 2020 candidates in the Democratic race. The progressive Vermont independent came out on top.

The poll found that 52 percent of voters would choose Sanders and 43 percent Trump, giving the veteran senator a nine-point lead. Next was former vice president Joe Biden at 50 percent to Trump’s 43 percent, a seven-point lead.

Michael Bloomberg, the media and financial data billionaire, also led Trump by seven points at 49 percent to 42 percent. Democratic Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren leads Trump 48 percent to 45 percent, a three-point advantage.

Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is also ahead of Trump by three points, at 47 percent to 44 percent. The tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang is ahead of Trump by two points, at 46 percent to 44 percent.

The billionaire hedge fund manager Tom Steyer is tied with Trump at 44 percent apiece, Democratic Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar loses to Trump by two points at 43 percent to 45 percent.

Democratic Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard loses to Trump by five points at 39 percent to 44 percent.

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Solidarity will overcome Clinton’s divisiveness

Naomi Klein describes how she overcame her initial infuriated reaction to Hillary Clinton’s savage attack on Bernie Sanders, the news emerging just after Sanders had appealed to his supporters to dial back attacks on other candidates. She says that we should all take a deep breath and avoid Clinton’s attempt to disrupt the Democratic primary for who knows what reason.

Within seconds, that 2016 primary feeling flooded my bloodstream. Screw what I had planned for the morning — none of it felt as importing as firing off a volley of rage tweets about Clinton, her staggering absence of self-awareness, and her outrageously revisionist history.

But I did something else instead. I blocked Twitter, chatted with my son about why he’s such a Bernie fan (“He will beat Donald Trump”), and started writing about being on the Sanders campaign trail in Iowa and New Hampshire over the last couple months. Because among Sanders’s steadily growing base of supporters, the mood is about as far from rage tweeting as you can get. In fact, despite the senator’s reputation as a finger-waving grump, the more time I spend with the campaign, whether in small meetups or huge rallies, the more I am struck by the undercurrent of tenderness that runs through all these events. Surprisingly enough, the force that is bridging what at first seem like huge divides — between multiracial urbanite Gen Z-ers and aging white farmers, between lifetime industrial trade unionists and hardcore climate organizers, between a Jewish candidate and a huge Muslim base — is a culture of quiet listening.
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Terry Jones (1942-2020)

The multi-talented Monty Python alum died yesterday at the age of 77. He had been diagnosed with a rare form of dementia is 2015.

After huge success with Python in the 1970s and early 80s, including the feature films Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Life of Brian and The Meaning of Life, Jones went on to work on a huge variety of projects. With Palin, he created the successful TV series Ripping Yarns and forged a post-Python directorial career with Personal Services, Erik the Viking and The Wind in the Willows. He made a series of TV documentaries (specialising in medieval history), wrote nearly 20 children’s books, and contributed a string of comment pieces for the Guardian and Observer denouncing the “war on terror”.
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The age and fate of the universe

Corey S. Powell provides a history of the Hubble-LeMaitre law and the efforts to pin down a precise value of the Hubble constant that plays a significant role in determining not only the age of the universe but also its ultimate fate. Like the age of the Earth, the value of the Hubble constant, and thus the age of the universe, has shifted considerably over time.
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Say it, AOC!

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says something that I too have been saying for ages and should be repeated over and over again.

“We don’t have a left party in the United States,” the congresswoman said. “The Democratic Party is not a left party. The Democratic Party is a center or center-conservative party.”

“We can’t even get a floor vote on Medicare for All. Not even a floor vote that gets voted down. We can’t even get a vote on it. So this is not a left party,” she told interviewer, journalist and best-selling author Ta-Nehisi Coates.

I doubt that the political establishment and its media supporters will change their framing of the parties. They have a vested interest in limiting the range of political debate in the country and the best way is to pretend that the two parties represent full left-right range of acceptable political views, rather than what it is, a center-right, crazy-right spectrum.


Hillary Clinton goes full-on ‘never Sanders’

It looks like Hillary Clinton is determined to inject herself into the election campaign and in the most negative way. She has issued a scathing attack on Bernie Sanders, showing once again that the Democratic party establishment is pulling out all the stops to prevent him from becoming the nominee, as the Iowa caucuses approach. She has even “refused to commit to endorsing Sanders should he win the primary this year”, which is pretty shocking. She is essentially saying that she would rather have Donald Trump win than Sanders.
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Matt Taibbi on media stupidity

The utter failure of mainstream media in the US provides a source of never-ending articles as new debacles quickly follow the old. Matt Taibbi analyzes the role that the media played in aiding Donald Trump’s rise and that they are doing the same thing now to Bernie Sanders.

When prominent media voices compare the Trump and Sanders movements, it’s always the same insult: Trump sucks and is evil/wrong, and Sanders is like Trump. The establishment fantasy is that both are illegitimate opportunists.

The diagnosis of Trump is that he rode to power appealing to a collection of humanity’s darkest impulses, in particular racism, sexism, and xenophobia. Few other explanations, importantly even negative ones (like that Trump took cynical advantage of both racism and legitimate economic grievances), are accepted.

The explanation for Sanders is naiveté. Neither the politician nor his followers understand how the world works. They want expensive things for free and blame billionaires when their actual gripe is with reality. Oh, and theirs is also a movement for sexists and anti-Semites and people who refuse to accept the unique role of racism in America.

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