Noam Chomsky talks politics

From this exchange published at Truthout.org emphasis mine

They [Republicans] have a primary constituency, a real constituency: extreme wealth and corporate power. That’s who they have to serve. That’s their constituency. You can’t get votes that way, so you have to do something else to get votes. What do you do to get votes? This was begun by Richard Nixon with the Southern strategy: try to pick up racists in the South. The mid-1970s, Paul Weyrich, one of the Republican strategists, hit on a brilliant idea. Northern Catholics voted Democratic, tended to vote Democratic, a lot of them working-class. The Republicans could pick up that vote by pretending—crucially, “pretending”—to be opposed to abortion. By the same pretense, they could pick up the evangelical vote. Those are big votes—evangelicals, northern Catholics. Notice the word “pretense.” It’s crucial. You go back to the 1960s, every leading Republican figure was strongly, what we call now, pro-choice. The Republican Party position was—that’s Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, all the leadership—their position was: Abortion is not the government’s business; it’s private business—government has nothing to say about it. They turned almost on a dime in order to try to pick up a voting base on what are called cultural issues. Same with gun rights. Gun rights become a matter of holy writ because you can pick up part of the population that way. In fact, what they’ve done is put together a coalition of voters based on issues that are basically, you know, tolerable to the establishment, but they don’t like it. OK? And they’ve got to hold that, those two constituencies, together. The real constituency of wealth and corporate power, they’re taken care of by the actual legislation.

So, if you look at the legislation under Trump, it’s just lavish gifts to the wealth and the corporate sector—the tax bill, the deregulation, you know, every case in point. That’s kind of the job of Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, those guys. They serve the real constituency. Meanwhile, Trump has to maintain the voting constituency, with one outrageous position after another that appeals to some sector of the voting base. And he’s doing it very skillfully. As just as a political manipulation, it’s skillful. Work for the rich and the powerful, shaft everybody else, but get their votes—that’s not an easy trick. And he’s carrying it off.

And, I should say, the Democrats are helping him. They are. Take the focus on Russiagate. What’s that all about? I mean, it was pretty obvious at the beginning that you’re not going to find anything very serious about Russian interference in elections. I mean, for one thing, it’s undetectable.

Snip

The Democrats invested everything in this issue. Well, turned out there was nothing much there. They gave Trump a huge gift. In fact, they may have handed him the next election. That’s just a—that’s a matter of being so unwilling to deal with fundamental issues, that they’re looking for something on the side that will somehow give political success. The real issues are different things. They’re things like climate change, like global warming, like the Nuclear Posture Review, deregulation. These are real issues. But the Democrats aren’t going after those. They’re looking for something else—the Democratic establishment. I’m not talking about the young cohort that’s coming in, which is quite different. Just all of that has to be shifted significantly, if there’s going to be a legitimate political opposition to the right-wing drift that’s taking place. And it can happen, can definitely happen, but it’s going to take work.

I’m training for the Chicago Marathon!

I’m documenting my training this year for my first marathon this October in Chicago with a few races in between. This video is a mixture of footage from this past winter, but primarily from one run on a cold, snowy and very windy day in February.

It’ll be my first marathon. I’m 43. Longtime runner and soccer player. The thought of 26 miles in one fell swoop is daunting!

My goal is to run it at a 7:45/mile pace (or faster). I started training early because I want to run a mock marathon (or two) before October. I’m currently running approx 45 to 55 miles a week.

This vLog isn’t for everyone. It’s loaded with sweat and snot. But if you want a quick reminder of how awesome the weather is right now, just watch a few seconds of this video.

Follow along on this 13.1 mile training run in the dead of Chicago winter.

WOW. Humpback Whale Breaches Surface By Docks

This is the incredible moment a humpback whale feeds just feet away from docked boats showing off his giant mouth. Fisherman Cy Williams watched as the behemoth majestically beached the surface of the water at Knudson Cove Marina, Alaska, USA. As Cy tried to follow the whale’s path under the stationary vessels – including his own – on Monday May 2, he spotted bubbles heading toward the surface. Suddenly the gaping jaws of the mammoth mammal shot into the air, taking a massive gulp on the way back.

David Attenborough Hosts “Climate Change: The Facts”

From the BBC:

Sir David’s new programme laid out the science behind climate change, the impact it is having right now and the steps that can be taken to fight it.

“In the 20 years since I first started talking about the impact of climate change on our world, conditions have changed far faster than I ever imagined,” Sir David stated in the film.

“It may sound frightening, but the scientific evidence is that if we have not taken dramatic action within the next decade, we could face irreversible damage to the natural world and the collapse of our societies.”

Speaking to a range of scientists, the programme highlighted that temperatures are rising quickly, with the world now around 1C warmer than before the industrial revolution.

Holy crap: “The Truth About Dentistry; It’s much less scientific—and more prone to gratuitous procedures—than you may think.”

From a lengthy article in the Atlantic:

When you’re in the dentist’s chair, the power imbalance between practitioner and patient becomes palpable. A masked figure looms over your recumbent body, wielding power tools and sharp metal instruments, doing things to your mouth you cannot see, asking you questions you cannot properly answer, and judging you all the while. The experience simultaneously invokes physical danger, emotional vulnerability, and mental limpness. A cavity or receding gum line can suddenly feel like a personal failure. When a dentist declares that there is a problem, that something must be done before it’s too late, who has the courage or expertise to disagree? When he points at spectral smudges on an X-ray, how are we to know what’s true? In other medical contexts, such as a visit to a general practitioner or a cardiologist, we are fairly accustomed to seeking a second opinion before agreeing to surgery or an expensive regimen of pills with harsh side effects. But in the dentist’s office—perhaps because we both dread dental procedures and belittle their medical significance—the impulse is to comply without much consideration, to get the whole thing over with as quickly as possible

The uneasy relationship between dentist and patient is further complicated by an unfortunate reality: Common dental procedures are not always as safe, effective, or durable as we are meant to believe. As a profession, dentistry has not yet applied the same level of self-scrutiny as medicine, or embraced as sweeping an emphasis on scientific evidence. “We are isolated from the larger health-care system. So when evidence-based policies are being made, dentistry is often left out of the equation,” says Jane Gillette, a dentist in Bozeman, Montana, who works closely with the American Dental Association’s Center for Evidence-Based Dentistry, which was established in 2007. “We’re kind of behind the times, but increasingly we are trying to move the needle forward.”

Consider the maxim that everyone should visit the dentist twice a year for cleanings. We hear it so often, and from such a young age, that we’ve internalized it as truth. But this supposed commandment of oral health has no scientific grounding. Scholars have traced its origins to a few potential sources, including a toothpaste advertisement from the 1930s and an illustrated pamphlet from 1849 that follows the travails of a man with a severe toothache. Today, an increasing number of dentists acknowledge that adults with good oral hygiene need to see a dentist only once every 12 to 16 months.

Many standard dental treatments—to say nothing of all the recent innovations and cosmetic extravagances—are likewise not well substantiated by research. Many have never been tested in meticulous clinical trials. And the data that are available are not always reassuring.

Scientists dissect 42,000 year old extinct male foal preserved in permafrost for cloning bid – video

From Siberian Times:

It was during this laboratory autopsy that they discovery of liquid blood in the baby horse, boosting hopes of cloning the extinct Lenskaya horse species back to life and paving the way for a similar attempt with the woolly mammoth.

The blood is believed to be the oldest ever found, as reported here yesterday.

Now we can reveal that during this groundbreaking procedure scientists also found urine intact in the prehistoric foal – but sadly failed to discover any mother’s milk in the  animal which drowned aged less than two weeks old some 42,000 years ago.

The experts in a laboratory in Yakutsk are dissecting the ancient foal in an attempt to obtain cells which can be used in a cloning bid.