Adonis Diaries

Archive for March 2016

We need All kinds of minds: autistic Temple Grandin

Professor · Temple Grandin, diagnosed with autism as a child, talks about how her mind works — sharing her ability to “think in pictures,” which helps her solve problems that neuro-typical brains might miss.

She makes the case that the world needs people on the autism spectrum: visual thinkers, pattern thinkers, verbal thinkers, and all kinds of smart geeky kids.


Posted Feb 2010
Autism is a very big continuum that goes from very severe — the child remains non-verbal — all the way up to brilliant scientists and engineers.
And I actually feel at home here, because there’s a lot of autism genetics here.

00:34 It’s a continuum of traits. When does a nerd turn into Asperger, which is just mild autism? I mean, Einstein and Mozart and Tesla would all be probably diagnosed as autistic spectrum today. And one of the things that is really going to concern me is getting these kids to be the ones that are going to invent the next energy things, you know, that Bill Gates talked about this morning.

If you want to understand autism, animals. And I want to talk to you now about different ways of thinking. You have to get away from verbal language. I think in pictures, I don’t think in language.

Now, the thing about the autistic mind is it attends to details.

OK, this is a test where you either have to pick out the big letters, or pick out the little letters, and the autistic mind picks out the little letters more quickly.

And the thing is, the normal brain ignores the details. Well, if you’re building a bridge, details are pretty important because it will fall down if you ignore the details.

And one of my big concerns with a lot of policy things today is things are getting too abstract. People are getting away from doing hands-on stuff. I’m really concerned that a lot of the schools have taken out the hands-on classes, because art, and classes like that, those are the classes where I excelled.

In my work with cattle, I noticed a lot of little things that most people don’t notice would make the cattle balk. Like, for example, this flag waving, right in front of the veterinary facility. This feed yard was going to tear down their whole veterinary facility; all they needed to do was move the flag.

Rapid movement, contrast.

In the early ’70s when I started, I got right down in the chutes to see what cattle were seeing. People thought that was crazy. A coat on a fence would make them balk, shadows would make them balk, a hose on the floor … people weren’t noticing these things — a chain hanging down — and that’s shown very, very nicely in the movie.

In fact, I loved the movie, how they duplicated all my projects. That’s the geek side. My drawings got to star in the movie too. And actually it’s called “Temple Grandin,” not “Thinking In Pictures.”

What is thinking in pictures? It’s literally movies in your head.

My mind works like Google for images. Now, when I was a young kid I didn’t know my thinking was different. I thought everybody thought in pictures.

And then when I did my book, “Thinking In Pictures,” I start interviewing people about how they think. And I was shocked to find out that my thinking was quite different.

Like if I say, “Think about a church steeple” most people get this sort of generalized generic one. Now, maybe that’s not true in this room, but it’s going to be true in a lot of different places. I see only specific pictures. They flash up into my memory, just like Google for pictures.

And in the movie, they’ve got a great scene in there where the word “shoe” is said, and a whole bunch of ’50s and ’60s shoes pop into my imagination.

There is my childhood church, that’s specific. There’s some more, Fort Collins. OK, how about famous ones? And they just kind of come up, kind of like this. Just really quickly, like Google for pictures. And they come up one at a time, and then I think, “OK, well maybe we can have it snow, or we can have a thunderstorm,” and I can hold it there and turn them into videos.

Visual thinking was a tremendous asset in my work designing cattle-handling facilities. And I’ve worked really hard on improving how cattle are treated at the slaughter plant.

I’m not going to go into any gucky slaughter slides. I’ve got that stuff up on YouTube if you want to look at it. But, one of the things that I was able to do in my design work is I could actually test run a piece of equipment in my mind, just like a virtual reality computer system.

And this is an aerial view of a recreation of one of my projects that was used in the movie. That was like just so super cool. And there were a lot of kind of Asperger types and autism types working out there on the movie set too. (Laughter)

But one of the things that really worries me is: Where’s the younger version of those kids going today? They’re not ending up in Silicon Valley, where they belong.

One of the things I learned very early on because I wasn’t that social, is I had to sell my work, and not myself. And the way I sold livestock jobs is I showed off my drawings, I showed off pictures of things.

Another thing that helped me as a little kid is, boy, in the ’50s, you were taught manners. You were taught you can’t pull the merchandise off the shelves in the store and throw it around.

When kids get to be in third or fourth grade, you might see that this kid’s going to be a visual thinker, drawing in perspective. Now, I want to emphasize that not every autistic kid is going to be a visual thinker.

I had this brain scan done several years ago, and I used to joke around about having a gigantic Internet trunk line going deep into my visual cortex. This is tensor imaging. And my great big internet trunk line is twice as big as the control’s.

The red lines there are me, and the blue lines are the sex and age-matched control. And there I got a gigantic one, and the control over there, the blue one, has got a really small one.

And some of the research now is showing is that people on the spectrum actually think with primary visual cortex. Now, the thing is, the visual thinker’s just one kind of mind.

You see, the autistic mind tends to be a specialist mind good at one thing, bad at something else. And where I was bad was algebra. And I was never allowed to take geometry or trig. Gigantic mistake: I’m finding a lot of kids who need to skip algebra, go right to geometry and trig.

Another kind of mind is the pattern thinker. More abstract. These are your engineers, your computer programmers. Now, this is pattern thinking.

That praying mantis is made from a single sheet of paper — no scotch tape, no cuts. And there in the background is the pattern for folding it. Here are the types of thinking: photo-realistic visual thinkers, like me; pattern thinkers, music and math minds.

Some of these oftentimes have problems with reading. You also will see these kind of problems with kids that are dyslexic. You’ll see these different kinds of minds. And then there’s a verbal mind, they know every fact about everything.

Another thing is the sensory issues.

I was really concerned about having to wear this gadget on my face. And I came in half an hour beforehand so I could have it put on and kind of get used to it, and they got it bent so it’s not hitting my chin. But sensory is an issue. Some kids are bothered by fluorescent lights; others have problems with sound sensitivity. You know, it’s going to be variable.

Visual thinking gave me a whole lot of insight into the animal mind.

Because think about it: An animal is a sensory-based thinker, not verbal — thinks in pictures, thinks in sounds, thinks in smells. Think about how much information there is there on the local fire hydrant.

The animal knows who’s been there, when they were there. Are they friend or foe? Is there anybody he can go mate with? There’s a ton of information on that fire hydrant. It’s all very detailed information, and, looking at these kind of details gave me a lot of insight into animals.

The animal mind, and also my mind, puts sensory-based information into categories.

Man on a horse and a man on the ground — that is viewed as two totally different things. You could have a horse that’s been abused by a rider. They’ll be absolutely fine with the veterinarian and with the horseshoer, but you can’t ride him.

You have another horse, where maybe the horseshoer beat him up and he’ll be terrible for anything on the ground, with the veterinarian, but a person can ride him.

Cattle are the same way. Man on a horse, a man on foot — they’re two different things. You see, it’s a different picture. See, I want you to think about just how specific this is.

This ability to put information into categories, I find a lot of people are Not very good at this.

When I’m out troubleshooting equipment or problems with something in a plant, they don’t seem to be able to figure out, “Do I have a training people issue? Or do I have something wrong with the equipment?”

In other words, categorize equipment problem from a people problem. I find a lot of people have difficulty doing that. Now, let’s say I figure out it’s an equipment problem. Is it a minor problem, with something simple I can fix? Or is the whole design of the system wrong?

People have a hard time figuring that out.

09:00 Let’s just look at something like solving problems with making airlines safer.

Yeah, I’m a million-mile flier. I do lots and lots of flying, and if I was at the FAA, what would I be doing a lot of direct observation of?

It would be their airplane tails. You know, five fatal wrecks in the last 20 years, the tail either came off or steering stuff inside the tail broke in some way. It’s tails, pure and simple.

And when the pilots walk around the plane, guess what? They can’t see that stuff inside the tail. You know, now as I think about that, I’m pulling up all of that specific information. It’s specific. See, my thinking’s bottom-up. I take all the little pieces and I put the pieces together like a puzzle.

Here is a horse that was deathly afraid of black cowboy hats. He’d been abused by somebody with a black cowboy hat. White cowboy hats, that was absolutely fine.

Now, the thing is, the world is going to need all of the different kinds of minds to work together. We’ve got to work on developing all these different kinds of minds. And one of the things that is driving me really crazy, as I travel around and I do autism meetings, is I’m seeing a lot of smart, geeky, nerdy kids, and they just aren’t very social, and nobody’s working on developing their interest in something like science.

And this brings up the whole thing of my science teacher. My science teacher is shown absolutely beautifully in the movie. I was a goofball student.

When I was in high school I just didn’t care at all about studying, until I had Mr. Carlock’s science class. He was now Dr. Carlock in the movie. And he got me challenged to figure out an optical illusion room.

This brings up the whole thing of you’ve got to show kids interesting stuff. You know, one of the things that I think maybe TED ought to do is tell all the schools about all the great lectures that are on TED, and there’s all kinds of great stuff on the Internet to get these kids turned on.

Because I’m seeing a lot of these geeky nerdy kids, and the teachers out in the Midwest, and the other parts of the country, when you get away from these tech areas, they don’t know what to do with these kids. And they’re not going down the right path.

The thing is, you can make a mind to be more of a thinking and cognitive mind, or your mind can be wired to be more social.

And what some of the research now has shown in autism is there may by extra wiring back here, in the really brilliant mind, and we lose a few social circuits here.

It’s kind of a trade-off between thinking and social. And then you can get into the point where it’s so severe you’re going to have a person that’s going to be non-verbal. In the normal human mind language covers up the visual thinking we share with animals.

 This is the work of Dr. Bruce Miller. And he studied Alzheimer’s patients that had frontal temporal lobe dementia. And the dementia ate out the language parts of the brain, and then this artwork came out of somebody who used to install stereos in cars.

Now, Van Gogh doesn’t know anything about physics, but I think it’s very interesting that there was some work done to show that this eddy pattern in this painting followed a statistical model of turbulence, which brings up the whole interesting idea of maybe some of this mathematical patterns is in our own head.

And the Wolfram stuff — I was taking notes and I was writing down all the search words I could use, because I think that’s going to go on in my autism lectures.

We’ve got to show these kids interesting stuff. And they’ve taken out the autoshop class and the drafting class and the art class. I mean art was my best subject in school.

We’ve got to think about all these different kinds of minds, and we’ve got to absolutely work with these kind of minds, because we absolutely are going to need these kind of people in the future. And let’s talk about jobs.

OK, my science teacher got me studying because I was a goofball that didn’t want to study. But you know what? I was getting work experience. I’m seeing too many of these smart kids who haven’t learned basic things, like how to be on time.

I was taught that when I was eight years old. You know, how to have table manners at granny’s Sunday party. I was taught that when I was very, very young. And when I was 13, I had a job at a dressmaker’s shop sewing clothes. I did internships in college, I was building things, and I also had to learn how to do assignments.

All I wanted to do was draw pictures of horses when I was little. My mother said, “Well let’s do a picture of something else.” They’ve got to learn how to do something else. Let’s say the kid is fixated on Legos. Let’s get him working on building different things.

The thing about the autistic mind is it tends to be fixated. Like if a kid loves racecars, let’s use racecars for math. Let’s figure out how long it takes a racecar to go a certain distance.

In other words, use that fixation in order to motivate that kid, that’s one of the things we need to do. I really get fed up when they, you know, the teachers, especially when you get away from this part of the country, they don’t know what to do with these smart kids. It just drives me crazy.

What can visual thinkers do when they grow up?

They can do graphic design, all kinds of stuff with computers, photography, industrial design.

The pattern thinkers, they’re the ones that are going to be your mathematicians, your software engineers, your computer programmers, all of those kinds of jobs.

And then you’ve got the word minds. They make great journalists, and they also make really, really good stage actors. Because the thing about being autistic is, I had to learn social skills like being in a play. It’s just kind of — you just have to learn it.

And we need to be working with these students. And this brings up mentors. You know, my science teacher was not an accredited teacher. He was a NASA space scientist.  Some states now are getting it to where if you have a degree in biology, or a degree in chemistry, you can come into the school and teach biology or chemistry. We need to be doing that.

Because what I’m observing is the good teachers, for a lot of these kids, are out in the community colleges, but we need to be getting some of these good teachers into the high schools.

Another thing that can be very successful is there is a lot of people that may have retired from working in the software industry, and they can teach your kid.

And it doesn’t matter if what they teach them is old, because what you’re doing is you’re lighting the spark. You’re getting that kid turned on. And you get him turned on, then he’ll learn all the new stuff. Mentors are just essential.

I cannot emphasize enough what my science teacher did for me. And we’ve got to mentor them, hire them.

And if you bring them in for internships in your companies, the thing about the autism, Asperger-y kind of mind, you’ve got to give them a specific task.

Don’t just say, “Design new software.” You’ve got to tell them something a lot more specific: “Well, we’re designing a software for a phone and it has to do some specific thing. And it can only use so much memory.” That’s the kind of specificity you need.

16:10 Chris Anderson: Thank you so much for that. You know, you once wrote, I like this quote, “If by some magic, autism had been eradicated from the face of the Earth, then men would still be socializing in front of a wood fire at the entrance to a cave.”

16:26 Temple Grandin: Because who do you think made the first stone spears? The Asperger guy. And if you were to get rid of all the autism genetics there would be no more Silicon Valley, and the energy crisis would not be solved. (Applause)

CA: So, I want to ask you a couple other questions, and if any of these feel inappropriate, it’s okay just to say, “Next question.” But if there is someone here who has an autistic child, or knows an autistic child and feels kind of cut off from them, what advice would you give them?

16:55 TG: Well, first of all, you’ve got to look at age. If you have a two, three or four year old you know, no speech, no social interaction, I can’t emphasize enough: Don’t wait, you need at least 20 hours a week of one-to-one teaching.

You know, the thing is, autism comes in different degrees. There’s going to be about half the people on the spectrum that are not going to learn to talk, and they’re not going to be working Silicon Valley, that would not be a reasonable thing for them to do.

But then you get the smart, geeky kids that have a touch of autism, and that’s where you’ve got to get them turned on with doing interesting things.

I got social interaction through shared interest. I rode horses with other kids, I made model rockets with other kids, did electronics lab with other kids, and in the ’60s, it was gluing mirrors onto a rubber membrane on a speaker to make a light show. That was like, we considered that super cool.

17:42 CA: Is it unrealistic for them to hope or think that that child loves them, as some might, as most, wish?

TG: Well let me tell you, that child will be loyal, and if your house is burning down, they’re going to get you out of it.

CA: Wow. So, most people, if you ask them what are they most passionate about, they’d say things like, “My kids” or “My lover.” What are you most passionate about?

TG: I’m passionate about that the things I do are going to make the world a better place. When I have a mother of an autistic child say, “My kid went to college because of your book, or one of your lectures,” that makes me happy.

You know, the slaughter plants, I’ve worked with them in the ’80s; they were absolutely awful.

I developed a really simple scoring system for slaughter plants where you just measure outcomes: How many cattle fell down? How many cattle got poked with the prodder? How many cattle are mooing their heads off? And it’s very, very simple.

You directly observe a few simple things. It’s worked really well. I get satisfaction out of seeing stuff that makes real change in the real world. We need a lot more of that, and a lot less abstract stuff.

18:49 CA: When we were talking on the phone, one of the things you said that really astonished me was you said one thing you were passionate about was server farms. Tell me about that.

TG: Well the reason why I got really excited when I read about that, it contains knowledge. It’s libraries. And to me, knowledge is something that is extremely valuable. So, maybe, over 10 years ago now our library got flooded.

And this is before the Internet got really big. And I was really upset about all the books being wrecked, because it was knowledge being destroyed. And server farms, or data centers are great libraries of knowledge.

Mary Temple Grandin is an American professor of animal science at Colorado State University, world-renowned autism spokesperson and consultant to the livestock industry on animal behavior. Wikipedia

Born: August 29, 1947 (age 68), Boston, Massachusetts, United States

Heroine addicted police officer in Baltimore

“I was a Heroine addicted police officer in Baltimorefor 21 years. I was addicted to heroin the entire time I was on the force. A lot of the guys had their addictions.
I don’t think people understand the fear involved in the job.
Humans of New York's photo.

Humans of New YorkLike Page

We were scared all the time. Baltimore was the murder capital of the world. It was tremendously stressful.

I never used needles. Just powder. I was too scared of needles. My partner knew about it.

One time he walked in the bathroom while I was using. He told me: ‘The moment I feel like you’re putting my life in danger, I’m turning you in.’

I did feel guilty when I was arresting drug offenders. But I always told myself: ‘You’re doing them a favor.

One morning I looked in the mirror and saw death. I had no soul. So I made myself quit. I took two weeks leave, locked myself in a hotel room, and quit cold turkey. It was the darkest two weeks of my life. I can’t talk about it. But I never used again.

My wife was never able to quit, though. She committed suicide six years ago.

I woke up one morning and she’d been dead for seven hours, right next to me.”


Anti-Zionism does Not equal anti-Semitism: People in the Near East are catalogued Semitic too by the racist Western colonial powers

Someone please tell Hillary Clinton and the University of California

U.C. is at it again, with its deceptive attempt to thwart criticism of Israel.

. Tuesday, Mar 22, 2016

Last summer there was a flurry of activity in the University of California system as U.C. regents were pressured to suppress criticism of Israel on U.C. campuses.

One regent in favor of such silencing played a trump card: He threatened to bring his particularly well-connected partner in to add muscle.

The regent was wealthy developer Richard Blum, his wife is Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Here is what Blum said in September:

I should add that over the weekend my wife, your senior Senator, and I talked about this issue at length. She wants to stay out of the conversation publicly but if we do not do the right thing she will engage publicly and is prepared to be critical of this university if we don’t have the kind of not only statement but penalties for those who commit what you can call them crimes, call them whatever you want.

Students that do the things that have been cited here today probably ought to have a dismissal or a suspension from school. I don’t know how many of you feel strongly that way but my wife does and so do I.

So now a U.S. senator says she’ll use the power of her office to suspend undergraduates for speaking out against Israeli state policies?

Interesting read of her mandate.

Blum was particularly incensed because just a few months before, free speech and pro-Palestinian activists had won a victory.

As I wrote back then:

For a while it looked like on July 23 the regents of the University of California were going to adopt the U.S. State Department definition of anti-Semitism and in some fashion or another put policies into place that would have a severe impact on what can and cannot be said about Israel on each of the 10 U.C. campuses, which together enroll some 230,000 students.

Those students, along with 190,000 faculty and staff, would all be constrained under the regents’ interpretation of the definition.

The decision would in fact be continuing a process that began in 2012, when the California House passed a resolution condemning anti-Semitism (HR35), and continued into this past spring, when the Senate passed a similar resolution (SCR35).

The stage was set, the momentum was there, activists and advocates on both sides were ready to march on the regents meeting in San Francisco and address the regents and U.C. president Janet Napolitano. (A former politician and a judge?

But just before the regents were to meet, it was announced that they had decided to drop the matter entirely and instead to have a discussion about “tolerance” in general at their meeting in the autumn.

Since the autumn there has been speculation as to what, exactly, the regents would vote on; how would “tolerance” be defined?

Well, now we know, and the document under discussion still shows the two main perspectives of the prior discussions. We see efforts to produce a broad and positive statement for tolerance, and also the fingerprints of those who wish to smuggle in a false and destructive equation of anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism, thereby making the University of California a place where any criticism of a certain state’s illegal policies is intolerable.

The manner in which this is done in the current draft is deceptive and underhanded.

In the main body of the text, the rightful condemnation of anti-Semitism is clear and unadorned: “In a community of learners, teachers, and knowledge-seekers, the University is best served when its leaders challenge speech and action reflecting bias, stereotypes, and/or intolerance.

Anti-Semitism and other forms of discrimination have no place in the University. The Regents call on University leaders actively to challenge anti-Semitism and other forms of discrimination when and wherever they emerge within the University community.”

Fair and good.

But in the introduction to the document we find the proposal for tolerance when it comes to anti-Semitism presented this way: “Anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism and other forms of discrimination have no place at the University of California.”

This portion of the document, separated from the section where the proposals appear, is couched as a “contextual statement.” Thus a casual reader could endorse the proposal itself while being unaware that the entire framing of the discussion of anti-Semitism is being used as a cover for silencing voices protesting state policies that might include, among other things, the continued demolition of Palestinian homes and the building of illegal settlements, which have been publicly condemned by the U.S. State Department and which are part of a Zionist project.

What this means is that if the U.C. proposal passes, the U.S. State Department can protest illegal settlements and the Occupation as a whole, but students and teachers in the U.C. system cannot.

This sleight of hand has been called out by both activist groups and mainstream news sources such as the Los Angeles Times.

California Scholars for Academic Freedom (disclosure—I am a member) states: “For the record, we wish to underscore that criticisms of Zionism are co-extensive with the history of Zionism and have from the start included Jewish voices from a variety of political and religious orientations. The inclusion of such a broad category as either intolerant or bigoted represents a fundamental misunderstanding of the political viewpoints critical of Zionism.

Many political positions, including those that favor Palestinian rights, statehood, and political self-determination, can be considered anti-Zionist although they comply with internationally accepted norms of human rights and principles of democratic self-governance.”

The Los Angeles Times editorial notes that the document

conflates anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism and says both are forms of discrimination that “have no place at the University of California.” It’s difficult to read that as anything other than a warning to those students or faculty members who have fundamental disagreements with the state of Israel. ..

The equation of anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism might also make it easier to stigmatize protests against Israeli policies — particularly the treatment of Palestinians — even if they don’t actually oppose the idea of a Jewish state.

Pro-Palestinian activists on campus are right to fear that such a statement would target their advocacy even when it doesn’t involve anti-Semitic language or harassing behavior.

This issue is not a matter of splitting hairs; it goes to the heart of issues of free speech, and the exercise of power to suppress certain types of political expression while letting others flow freely.

What is most telling about this latest episode is the tactic being employed. Faced with substantial public pressure from grass-roots activists, the regents’ working group chose this back-door route to insert its insidious equation. Now it has been called out, and we should be watching carefully which way the regents will move.

What is happening in California might well serve as an index to how these issues will play out on the national scene.

The position of at least one of the two front-runners in the presidential elections is crystal clear. Hillary Clinton has consistently been one of Israel’s staunchest supporters.

What is most troubling, however, is the fact that she has come out vocally as someone who will, in her own words, make “countering BDS a priority.”

In a letter to potential donors she uses exactly the same equation of anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism that we find in the U.C. document:

I am writing to express my alarm over the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction [sic] movement, or “BDS,” a global effort to isolate the State of Israel by ending commercial and academic exchanges.  I know you agree that we need to make countering BDS a priority.

I am seeking your advice on how we can work together—across party lines and with a diverse array of voices—to reverse this trend with information and advocacy, and fight back against further attempts to isolate and delegitimize Israel….

I am also very concerned by attempts to compare Israel to South African apartheid.

Israel is a vibrant democracy in a region dominated by autocracy, and it faces existential threats to its survival.  Particularly at a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise around the world—especially in Europe—we need to repudiate forceful efforts to malign and undermine Israel and the Jewish people.

And on Monday, in her appearance before AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee), Clinton doubled down on her support of Israel.  As CommonDreams reports:
During the address, Clinton vowed to take the U.S.-Israel relationship to “the next level”—a level which seemingly includes more war and imperialism, few, if any, rights for Palestinians, and definitely no economic boycotts of Israel….
Later, Clinton doubled down on her previous pledge to dismantle the growing international Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, linking the campaign against Palestinian apartheid to anti-Semitism, saying “we must repudiate all efforts to malign, isolate and undermine Israel and the Jewish people.”
In a statement to Common Dreams, Rebecca Vilkomerson, executive director of Jewish Voice for Peace, said that the speech “is a reminder of the current limits of the mainstream discourse on Israel, which rely on racist and Islamophobic tropes to justify unquestioning support for Israel.”

“From Democrats to Republicans, the message is the same,” Vilkomerson continued. “More arms for Israel, a stronger relationship between Israel and the U.S., no mention of Palestinian rights, and no recognition of the impossible contradiction of being both democratic and Jewish when the state is predicated on maintaining systems of unequal rights and rule by military occupation.”

This is deeply troubling, especially as the Palestinian cause has now been established as one of the most pressing human rights issues of our age.  Education on this issue therefore needs to be rigorous, debated, argued, in order for us to make informed decisions and take meaningful action.

The suppression of ideas is anathema to the university, but this is exactly what is being suggested by reputed leaders in education and politics, all under this deceitful equation.

Stating the obvious, but oh so cleverly

Malcolm Gladwell is a cerebral and jaunty writer, with an unusual gift for making the complex seem simple and for seeking common-sense explanations for many of the apparent mysteries, coincidences and problems of the everyday.

He is also an intellectual opportunist, always on the look-out for a smart phrase or new fad with which to define and explain different social phenomena.

In his first book, The Tipping Point, he studied events such as crime waves and fashion trends and settled on an arresting metaphor to explain why they happen. ‘Ideas and products and messages and behaviours spread just like viruses,‘ he wrote, suggesting that we contaminate and infect one another with preferences and recommendations, until we reach a ‘tipping point’, after which a social epidemic becomes contagious and crosses a threshold to reach saturation point.

The tipping point: who does not now use this phrase to describe a moment of definitive transition? (‘Tipping point’ seems to have become this generation’s ‘paradigm shift’, a phrase popularised by Thomas Kuhn in his 1962 book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

The success of the book, which began as an article in the New Yorker, the magazine for which he works as a staff writer, propelled Gladwell into the realm of super-consultancy. He has since become a lauded pontificant and ideas progenitor on the international lecture circuit.

He is the go-to man for a corporate business elite seeking to understand the way we live, think and consume today.

It helps that with his wild, unruly curls and wide-eyed gaze, Gladwell has the look of an übergeek.

He seems to have absorbed one important lesson of the consumerist culture he deconstructs – that the image you project is paramount; in effect, he has made himself, superficially at least, into a brand.

If you didn’t know he was a writer and journalist, you wouldn’t be surprised to hear that he was a leading operator at Microsoft or Google. As it is, he’s a kind of literary Bill Gates, a guy so far ahead of the rest of the pack that you never quite know what he will do next.

What is an outlier?

The word may not be a neologism but I have never heard anyone use it in conversation. According to one dictionary definition, an outlier is ‘something that is situated away from or classed differently from a main or related body’.

But Gladwell uses the word with more metaphorical flexibility. For him, an outlier is a truly exceptional individual who, in his or her field of expertise, is so superior that he defines his own category of success. Bill Gates is an outlier and so are Steve Jobs of Apple, Robert Oppenheimer and many others Gladwell speaks to or writes about as he seeks to offer a more complete understanding of success.

The trouble with the book is that Gladwell is ultimately engaged in a long argument with nobody but himself. Throughout, he defines his position against a floating, ubiquitous, omnipotent ‘we’; a Greek chorus of predictable opposition and received opinion. ‘There is something profoundly wrong with the way we look at success,’ he writes.

‘We cling to the idea that success is a simple function of individual merit and that the world in which we grow up and the rules we choose to write as a society don’t matter at all.’ And so he goes on.

These assumptions can be irritating, since who is this naive, unquestioning, plural intelligence identified as ‘we’?

Do we in wider society really believe that outstanding success, in whichever field, is achieved without extraordinary dedication, talent and fortuitous circumstance, as Gladwell would have it?

Do we really take no account of the sociopolitical context into which someone was born and through which they emerged when we attempt to quantify outlandish achievement?

Do we really believe that genius is simply born rather than formed? Gladwell wants his readers to take away from this book ‘the idea that the values of the world we inhabit and the people we surround ourselves with have a profound effect on who we are’.

But I don’t know anyone who would dispute this.

The world for Gladwell is a text that he reads as closely as he can in seeking to decode and interpret it. He is adept at identifying underlying trends from which he extrapolates to form hypotheses, presenting them as if they were general laws of social behaviour.

But his work has little philosophical rigour. He’s not an epistemologist; his interest is in what we think, rather than in the how and why of knowledge itself.

There is also a certain one-dimensional Americanness at work: many of his examples and case studies are American and he spends rather too much time in New York, at one point even riffing at length about the founder of the literary agency that represents him.

The book would have been more interesting if he’d roamed wider and travelled more, if it had been more internationalist in ambition and outlook.

However, it’s still fun to follow Gladwell on his meandering intellectual journeys, even if the conclusions he arrives at here are so obviously self-evident as to be banal. Even when he is not at his best he is worth taking seriously.

He has a lucid, aphoristic style. His case studies are well chosen, such as when he writes about the birth dates of elite ice hockey players and discovers a pattern: most are born in the first three months of the year.

His range is wide, and he writes as well in Outliers about sport as he does about corporate law firms in New York or aviation. Little is beneath his notice.

One last thing, as Gladwell might say. There’s perhaps another way of reading Outliers and that’s as a quest for self-understanding, since the author himself is obviously an outlier. In seeking to find out more about how other people like him came to be who they are and to occupy the exalted positions they do, he’s also indirectly seeking to learn more about himself, about how he came to be who he is: the smartest guy at the New Yorker, with the big ideas and the lucrative book deals.

Jason Cowley is editor of the New Statesman. His book The Last Game: Love, Death and Football will be published in April 2009.

Note: I have reviewed extensively most of Gladwell books, (to my knowledge) and I enjoyed the read and the ideas.

The Rise of 1,000 Small Jails

The rate of incarceration of People of color behind bars in small counties increased 10 fold growth when the resident people of color population had only doubled.

A few jails are notorious.

Think New York City’s Rikers Island or the Los Angeles County Men’s Central Jail.

News stories about overcrowding, violence, and deplorable conditions fuel ongoing public debate about the nation’s two largest jail systems and capture the public’s imagination about just what jail looks like.

But it turns out urban jails are in decline—there is even a movement to “close the jail” in New York City; Los Angeles is already tearing down its largest jail and building a smaller one—and it is rural America that represents the true picture of U.S. jails today.

That’s because growth in the jail population is not driven by the largest counties; it has taken root in a thousand very small ones across the United States.

By Jacob Kang-Brown. Mar 24, 2016

It wasn’t always like this. The nation’s very small counties once had less than half as many people in jail as New York City and Los Angeles combined.

Now, it is the very small counties that have double the combined jail population of the two cities. Original analysis of the Vera Institute’s online jail population tool show that jails have grown the most in small counties, not large ones.

In the last decade, the outsized jail growth in very small counties has only continued, but jail populations in larger counties have actually begun to decline.

To illustrate this, I conducted additional analysis to compare two groups of counties—each with a population of 18.6 million.

The first group: Los Angeles County and New York City, which have a combined resident population of 18.6 million in 2014, and are also the largest—and perhaps most notorious—jail jurisdictions in the United States.

The second group: 1,003 very small counties, each with between 10,000 and 30,000 residents in 2014, and also with a combined resident population total of 18.6 million (around one-third of all U.S. counties fall into the 10,000 – 30,000 category).

Each group holds 6% of the total U.S. population, and has grown at nearly the same rate since 1970.

There are differences between the two groups. The growth of mass incarceration in local jails is one key difference.

From the 1970s to the present, NYC and LA’s combined jail population grew 30 percent, from 23,000 to 30,000 people on any given day.

This outpaced the cities’ resident population growth of 25 percent. In contrast, in the very small counties, jail populations started out much smaller.

For example, Gonzales County, Texas—with 20,000 residents between San Antonio and Houston—had 2 people in jail in 1970. But very small counties grew far more. The jail populations in these very small counties grew six-fold from the 1970s to the present—from 9,000 to 62,000—and now hold double the amount of people behind bars as NYC and LA.

Gonzales County had 87 people in jail in 2013, for a jail incarceration rate twice the national average. Or Marion County, Tennessee— with 28,000 residents outside of Chattanooga—had only 8 people in jail in 1970, and now has 131 in 2013.

Another meaningful difference is in diversity: the combined population of New York City and Los Angeles is about 70 percent people of color, and the very small counties are about 80 percent non-Hispanic whites.

To understand the full impact of mass incarceration at the local level, it’s important to understand how it affects people of color.

Compared to very small counties, far more people of color live in NYC and LA County. One might expect NYC and LA to have more people of color in jail. But they don’t—very small counties have more people of color behind bars on a given day than NYC and LA.  

While data limits mean we can only compare back to 1990, the changes since then are dramatic. In 1990, 33,000 people of color were behind bars in NYC and LA, but only 9,000 were behind bars in the local jails of very small counties.

Twenty-four years later, in 2014, very small counties had tripled to 27,000 and NYC and LA had dropped to 25,000.

In some very small counties, the change is dramatic: Custer County, Oklahoma held 11 people of color behind bars in 1990 and 114 in 2013—10 fold growth when the resident people of color population had only doubled.

When thinking in terms of populations, might the increasing numbers of people behind bars in small counties be caused by rapidly shifting demographics, particularly in diversifying suburban areas?

Though the number of people of color in very small counties has grown, this relatively moderate population growth does not explain the huge increase in jail incarceration.

When looking at the changes in terms of rate of jail incarceration, the racial disparities in the very small counties become even more visible. (Looking at rate controls for changes in the population, by taking the number of people of color who are jailed per 100,000 people of color aged 15-64.)

In very small counties, nearly 1,100 out of 100,000 people of color aged 15-64 are behind bars in a local jail on a given day. For NYC and LA, that rate is significantly lower, at just 280.

For a national perspective, the jail incarceration rate of people of color is 502 out of 100,000 aged 15-64, which is less than half the rate in very small counties, and significantly higher than the total national jail incarceration rate of 341.

This disproportionate growth is further evidence that the era of mass incarceration hasn’t delivered on public safety. It has, however,  taken a fiscal toll as well as damaged individuals, families, and whole communities.

Jails are under the jurisdiction of local stakeholders, and their day-to-day size and operations are not significantly affected by federal or state legislative proposals to reduce prison populations.

As we know from looking deeper into the national data, the use of jail incarceration is embedded in the culture and practice of communities nationwide, large and small.

Growing evidence suggests that reform efforts to downsize local jails are catching on in many large jurisdictions. Ways to shrink jail populations safely include alternatives to arrest, expanded pretrial release options, alternative sentencing options, improved drug treatment, and mental health resources.

However, in many small communities, there’s little awareness of a jail overuse problem that would spur the adoption of such tools. For national criminal justice reform efforts to be successful, every county will need to understand not only their jail size in relation to historical trends or similar counties, but also the racial disparities it may contain.

With more information about jail trends nationwide—and who they are affecting—small counties can begin the critical conversation about what kind of change is needed in their own backyard.

This article is part of our Next America: Criminal Justice project, which is supported by a grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Your talk may be convoluted, but let your living be straight

Posted by Claire Bou Nassif

E7ki a3waj wa 3eesh jaless

احكي أعوج وعيش جالس

Tokborni tizak (Let your pretty ass bury me?)

بدأت الحصّة، وكنّا سبعة طلاّب في الصفّ، كلٌّ من بلدٍ وثقافة. غير أنّني كنت الفتاة العربيّة (إن سمحتم لي بأن أقول إنّي عربيّة، وإنّ لبنان بلدٌ عربيّ) الوحيدة التي شاركت في ورشة العمل هذه.

إستعرضت المعلّمة تاريخ إسبانيا بإيجاز قبل أن تصل إلى إنجازات حقّقتها بلادها في مختلف المجالات: التجارة، وصناعة السيّارات، والسكاكر، والملابس… ثمّ عرضت لنا موقع إسبانيا الحاليّ ومكانتها على المستوى الأوروبيّ. فاستنفرت إحدى الفتيات، وهي من بولونيا، قائلةً إنّ بعض البلدان الأوروبيّة تسبقها بأشواط، ولكنّ الحقّ يقال، فالشعب الإسبانيّ بطيبته وخدمته وضيافته يبقى الأفضل.

أثنت الأستاذة على ذلك، موضّحةً على سبيل المثال أنّ الشعب الإيطاليّ هو شعبٌ يحبّ المظاهر والأبّهة، ومتكبّر لايساعد، ويعيش على أمجاد أجداده (حتّى الآن، “ماشي الحال”)، ويعتبر نفسه أعلى مكانةً من الشعوب الأوروبيّة الأخرى (كمان ماشي الحال”)، تمامًا كالشعب اللبنانيّ!!! (لم أعرف، أكان ذلك إطراءً-فنحن الشعب الأفضل، أو ذمًّا-فنحن الشعب المتكبّر؟)

تفاجأت من الفكرة التي تكوّنها الأستاذة- وليست الوحيدة- عن لبنان وشعبه. ولكنّها أبت أن يمرّ الموضوع مرور الكرام، فنادتني قائلة: “أليس كذلك يا كلير؟”


ماذا عساي أقول؟ ويلي إذا أنكرت كلامها (وأنا أعرف تمام المعرفة أنّه صحيح)، ويا سواد ليلي إذا أثنيت على قولها (قد أُتَّهم بأنّني أشوّه صورة الوطن، “هيك هيك صارت دارجة!)” فأجبت بكلّ دبلوماسيّة: “هذا ما يقال عنّا، ولكن، في هذه الحال، التعميم يظلم الكثيرين”.

كنت آمل من خلال إجابتي هذه أن ينتهي النقاش. ولكنّها تابعت:”يعتزّ اللبنانيّون بلبنان الذي سُمّي في الماضي البعيد سويسرا الشرق ومنارة العرب، ولكنّه اليوم بلدٌ مظلم (متطرّقةً بذلك إلى موضوع الكهرباء المقطوعة والانفجارات المتتالية) ووضعه أسوأ من البلدان التي كانت وقتذاك متخلّفة وسلبت منه في الوقت الراهن لقب سويسرا الشرق (وأعطت دبي مثالاً على ذلك). ومع ذلك، لايزال اللبنانيّ يعتبر نفسه أفهم وأذكى من البلدان المجاورة له”.

نعم، أعترف بأنّ هذه الفوقيّة التي قد تبلغ حدّ العنصريّة أمرٌ واقع في لبنان. لن أتحدّث عن أوجه الفوقيّة، فاللبنانيّ إنسان مبدع، وقد يحقّ له بذلك. كلّنا نفتخر بلبنانيّتنا، ولكنّنا في حقوق الإنسان صفرٌ، لأنّه في ثقافتنا الحاليّة مغيَّب؛ فالإنسان في لبنان اليوم قيمته بقيمة أمواله. سأتحدّث في ما يلي عن لهجة تساهم نوعًا ما في ترسيخ فكرٍ لاواعٍ سوداويّ وعدائيّ، وعن الحبّ اللبنانيّ الذي ينمو في الموت، والشابّ اللبنانيّ الذي لا يعتبر نفسه فوق العرب وحسب، بل فوق زوجته أيضًا.


للهجتنا اللّبنانية نكهة مميّزة،على الرغم من أنّها تشترك مع أخواتها في معظم الكلمات. ولكن، لا شكّ في أنّها الأشدّ دلعًا، وغزلاً، ورقّةً.

فلنأخذ شابًّا لبنانيًّا على سبيل المثال وهو يحاول أن يتقرّب من فتاة ما.

أوّلاً، وقبل أن يباشر غزلاً، ما يميّزه هو ثقته بنفسه؛ فهو “شايف حالو محلّ اللّه”؛ ويعتبر نفسه عاشقًا من الطراز الأوّل، بل وبطلاً في عالم الحبّ العربيّ. لماذا؟ لأنّ القانون يحميه، ونظرة المجتمع تراعي فسقه، ولأنّه ذكر (لم أقل “رجل” لأنّ كلّ الذكور ليسوا رجالاً) فتسهل عليه تلبية رغباته. بالعودة إلى موضوعنا، الشابّ اللبنانيّ مغازل من الدرجة الأولى:

حبّك نار وقلبي مقلاية”، “مقلاية” تصبح “طنجرة”على رأس منال. “معليش”، أوَلا تعرفون المقولة الشهيرة: “ومن الحبّ ما قتل”؟… “ما فيّي عيش من دونِك”، ولكنّه يعيش مع عشرات غيرها (والحجّة طبعًا أنّ زوجته سمينة وبشرتها مترهّلة- “بعد 5 ولاد وركض وشغل”، أو أنّه ما عاد يحبّها لأنّها تغيّرت وأصبحت تهتمّ بعائلتها أكثر من زوجها، أو، أو، أو…). “إيه وشو عليه؟ هوّي رجّال، بيغيّر عَ ضرسو”!! وكأنّ ضرس الرَّجل من ذهب، وضرس المرأة من تراب!

مجتمعٌ يحلِّل للرجل ما يخلّ بآداب المرأة، ويحلّل للمرأة ما يمرّح الرجل! وعلى أيّ حال، تبقى المرأة ملامَة، ومتَّهمة، ومستضعَفة!


يستهلّ الشابّ اللبنانيّ “الجغل” مغازلته بعبارة: “يخرب بيتك ما أجملك!” جميل! ها قد دمّر بيتها قبل أن تصبح في بيته. “يخرب ذوقك ما أهضمك!” قضى على ذوقها وأحاسيسها المرهفة. الغريب في الموضوع أنّها مفردات اعتدنا عليها وبتنا نردّدها من دون أن نفكّر ولو لبرهة في معناها. لست أدري لماذا، في لهجتنا اللبنانيّة خاصّةً، ولغتنا العربيّة عمومًا، نستخدم أبشع العبارات للبوح بالحبّ. كلّها تنطوي على العنف، والسوداويّة، والحزن…

تزوّجا. فقال لها هامسًا:”بموت فيكي”… هل من الضروريّ أن تموت يا عزيزي العاشق لكي تبرهن لشريكك عن حبّك؟ أنا شخصيًّا أفضّل أن تقول لي: “بعيش فيكي”. فأشعر بأنّني مصدر فرح لك، وبأنّ حياتك بملئها تدور حولي أنا، وبأنّ دقّات قلبك تنتعش في وجودي، لأنّك إذا مُتَّ فيّي، فأنا ميتة أيضًا!


يصبح أبًا، فيقول لابنه مدلِّلاً إيّاه: “يقبرني طيزك يا بابا”، ويأتي دور الجدّ: “تقبرني يا جدّي”…ولو! لماذا الأسى هذا كلّه؟ “الله يطوّل بعمر الكلّ! مش ناقص يعني غير نجيب المجرفة وننقبر نطمّو!”


الجدير بالإشارة أيضًا أنّ كلمة”بْحبِّك/بْحبَّك” تبدأ بحرف ساكن. إن أردت أن أكون إيجابيّة، أبرّر استخدام السكون، فهي ضدّ الحركة وانعدام الصوت، وهي أضعف الحركات في اللّغة العربيّة؛ تمامًا كالعاشق، في جوّ من الرومنسيّة، الذي أتخيّله ساكنًا، وصامتًا، وضعيفًا قبل أن يبوح لشريكه: “بحبّك”.

ولكنّ الكلمة، وما أجملها في اللّغة العربيّة الفصحى، تبدأ بهمزة مضمومة: “أُحبّكَ/أُحبّكِ”، لا بهمزة مكسورة، فلا تنكسري أيّتها المرأة اللّبنانيّة، وطالبي بأن يحبّك شريكك بحركةٍ لا بسكون، وبضمّةٍ لا بكسرة!

Trade myths and realities

In this bitter campaign, one area of agreement unites the major candidates: trade.

Bernie Sanders brags is opposed all recent trade agreements;

Hillary Clinton now rejects the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), President Obama’s signature trade success that she once supported; and

Donald Trump blames incompetent U.S. trade negotiators for devastating job losses to China that might be cured by a 45 percent tariff on Chinese imports.

You should take all this with a boulder of salt.

John Bernson shared this link

Factual and convincing.

The political problem is that the costs of free trade have fallen disproportionately on white non college educated males who form the bedrock base of today’s Republican Party.

Without Republican Congressional support TPP is in deep trouble.

Spread misleading rhetoric.
 Robert J. Samuelson writes a weekly column on economics. View Archive

True, a flood of Chinese imports over the past 15 years has cost hordes of U.S. jobs. In a recent paper, three respected economists — David Autor of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, David Dorn of the University of Zurich and Gordon Hanson of the University of California at San Diego — estimated the loss of manufacturing jobs at 985,000 from 1999 to 2011.

But this large number needs context.

Over the same period, all U.S. manufacturing jobs dropped 5.8 million; the share caused by China was a bit less than one-fifth.

When the economists added China’s impact on non-manufacturing firms, the job decline more than doubled to 2.4 million. Still, that’s less than 2 percent of total payroll employment of 131 million in 2011 and 143 million now.

A more powerful job destroyer was the Great Recession (8.7 million jobs lost over two years).

In addition, there are export jobs.

With U.S. exports about 80 percent of imports, they offset most — though not all — of trade-related job loss.

In 2014, exports supported 11.7 million jobs, says the Commerce Department: 7.1 million for goods (aircraft, medical equipment) and 4.6 million for services (software, films).

The trade debate breeds myths. Here are three.

Myth: Persistent U.S. trade deficits reflect recent free trade agreements and, says Trump, America’s clueless negotiators.

Reality: The underlying cause of U.S. trade deficits is the dollar’s special role as the world’s major international money.

The United States has had continuous annual trade deficits since 1976, (actually since the 60’s) well before the North American Free Trade Agreement (1994) and China’s joining the World Trade Organization (2001).

The explanation is that the dollar is widely used to settle trade transactions, to make cross-border investments and — for governments — to hold as international reserves.

The resulting dollar demand on foreign exchange markets raises the dollar’s value in relation to other currencies.

This makes U.S. exports more expensive and imports into the United States cheaper. In the past, Japan and China magnified the effect by keeping their currencies artificially low. Economists debate how much, if at all, this still occurs.

Myth: Americans have turned decisively against free trade policies.

Reality: Public opinion has long been muddled, both supportive and skeptical.

A 2015 Pew Research Center poll reflects the ambivalence. By 58 percent to 33 percent, respondents found free trade agreements a “good thing.”

More Americans (43 percent) than not (36 percent) feel their family finances benefit. But asked how the agreements affect U.S. wages, 46 percent said “lower” and only 11 percent said “higher” (the rest: no difference).

Myth: The large trade deficit ($540 billion in 2015) is an important cause of the U.S. economy’s slow growth.

Reality: Though the rising deficit hurts, the damage is modest. Compared with many countries, the U.S. economy is still driven mainly by domestic spending.

We’re less integrated into the global economy than most.

In 2014, we exported about 14 percent of our output (gross domestic product). By contrast, the same export-to-GDP ratio was 23 percent for China, 46 percent for Germany and 50 percent for South Korea, reports the Peterson Institute. (Countries with high exports also have high imports.) Still, slow growth abroad harms the U.S. economy by dampening demand for our exports.

An open trade policy has served the United States well.

It has advanced our strategic goals — supporting Europe’s recovery in the 1950s and 1960s, improving relations with Mexico in the 1990s — while presenting U.S. consumers with more choices and lower prices.

The constant problem is that the benefits are widely disbursed while the social costs concentrate on unemployed workers and bankrupt companies.

We have yet to cope with this, in part because it’s hard to draw a line between firms that fail from foreign competition and ones that fail from domestic competition.

A similar dilemma involves the dollar. A “strong” dollar is good for the world; it creates certainty and confidence. But a strong dollar also penalizes U.S. exporters and subsidizes U.S. importers. Satisfying both goals simultaneously is tough.

The campaign’s misleading rhetoric is dangerous if it leads the next president to start a trade war (Trump) or to repudiate the TPP (Clinton and Sanders).

It’s better to police for currency manipulation and illegal subsidies. The alternatives have more political appeal but would involve a huge self-inflicted economic wound.

Note: This article is obscuring the clauses that permit multinationals to challenge the laws of the countries, and trade complaints by multinationals are arbitrated by US mediators.

Read more from Robert Samuelson’s archive.

Most demeaning speech to the US citizens: Hillary speech to AIPAC

Mind you that Sanders declined the invitation: He is Not in the mood of licking asses

I did erase all these mindless Applauses in the script that occurred after each sentence

@ryanbeckwith March 21, 2016

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton spoke to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee Monday about the relationship between the United States and Israel.

Here is a full transcript of her remarks.

It is wonderful to be here and see so many friends. I’ve spoken at a lot of AIPAC conferences in the past, but this has to be one of the biggest yet, and there are so many young people here, thousands of college students from hundreds of campuses around the country. I think we should all give them a hand for being here and beginning their commitment to this important cause.

You will keep the U.S.-Israel relationship going strong. You know, as a senator from New York and secretary of State I’ve had the privilege of working closely with AIPAC members to strengthen and deepen America’s ties with Israel.

Now, we may not have always agreed on every detail, but we’ve always shared an unwavering, unshakable commitment to our alliance and to Israel’s future as a secure and democratic homeland for the Jewish people. (How can this be democratic if minorities are excluded from the process?)

CLINTON: And your support helped us expand security and intelligence cooperation, developed the Iron Dome missile defense system, build a global coalition to impose the toughest sanctions in history on Iran and so much more.

Since my first visit to Israel 35 years ago, I have returned many times and made many friends. I have worked with and learned from some of Israel’s great leaders — although I don’t think Yitzhak Rabin ever forgave me for banishing him to the White House balcony when he wanted to smoke.

Now I am here as a candidate for president, and I know that all of you understand what’s at stake in this election. (Vigorous licking of asses to multinationals and defence contractors?)

Our next president will walk into the Oval Office next January and immediately face a world of both perils we must meet with strength and skill, and opportunities we must seize and build on.

The next president will sit down at that desk and start making decisions that will affect both the lives and livelihoods of every American, and the security of our friends around the world. So we have to get this right.

As AIPAC members, you understand that while the turmoil of the Middle East presents enormous challenge and complexity, walking away is not an option. (As long as military involvement is Not the option everytime)

Candidates for president who think the United States can outsource Middle East security to dictators, or that America no longer has vital national interests at stake in this region are dangerously wrong. (Like what are these vital interests? Keep supporting the most obscurantist Wahhabi Kingdom?)

It would be a serious mistake for the United States to abandon our responsibilities, or cede the mantle of leadership for global peace and security to anyone else.

As we gather here, three evolving threats — Iran’s continued aggression, a rising tide of extremism across a wide arc of instability, and the growing effort to de-legitimize Israel on the world stage — are converging to make the U.S.-Israel alliance more indispensable than ever. (Isn’t the Saudi Kingdom aggressing Yemen?)

We have to combat all these trends with even more intense security and diplomatic cooperation. The United States and Israel must be closer than ever, stronger than ever and more determined than ever to prevail against our common adversaries and to advance our shared values.

CLINTON: This is especially true at a time when Israel faces brutal terrorist stabbings, shootings and vehicle attacks at home. (And discharging the machine guns on kids for attempting to stab? or because girls had scissors in their bags?)

Parents worry about letting their children walk down the street. Families live in fear. Just a few weeks ago, a young American veteran and West Point graduate named Taylor Force was murdered by a Palestinian terrorist near the Jaffa Port. These attacks must end immediately…

And Palestinian leaders need to stop inciting violence, stop celebrating terrorists as martyrs and stop paying rewards to their families.

Because we understand the threat Israel faces we know we can never take for granted the strength of our alliance or the success of our efforts. Today, Americans and Israelis face momentous choices that will shape the future of our relationship and of both our nations. The first choice is this: are we prepared to take the U.S./Israel alliance to the next level? (Up her ass?)

This relationship has always been stronger and deeper than the headlines might lead you to believe. Our work together to develop the Iron Dome saved many Israeli lives when Hamas rockets began to fly.

I saw its effectiveness firsthand in 2012 when I worked with Prime Minister Netanyahu to negotiate a cease fire in Gaza. And if I’m fortunate enough to be elected president, the United States will reaffirm we have a strong and enduring national interest in Israel’s security. (A ceasefire that changed nothing in the conditions of the Palestinians in Gaza)

And we will never allow Israel’s adversaries to think a wedge can be driven between us.

As we have differences, as any friends do, we will work to resolve them quickly and respectfully. We will also be clear that the United States has an enduring interest in and commitment to a more peaceful, more stable, more secure Middle East. And we will step up our efforts to achieve that outcome.

Indeed, at a time of unprecedented chaos and conflict in the region, America needs an Israel strong enough to deter and defend against its enemies, strong enough to work with us to tackle shared challenges and strong enough to take bold steps in the pursuit of peace. (How stronger in weapon acquisition? Israel is already the most overburdened with all kinds of weapons and still failing to have the courage to recognize the Palestinians as an entity)

That’s why I believe we must take our alliance to the next level. I hope a new 10-year defense memorandum of understanding is concluded as soon as possible to meet Israel’s security needs far into the future.

CLINTON: That will also send a clear message to Israel’s enemies that the United States and Israel stand together united.

It’s also why, as president, I will make a firm commitment to ensure Israel maintains its qualitative military edge.

The United States should provide Israel with the most sophisticated defense technology so it can deter and stop any threats.

That includes bolstering Israeli missile defenses with new systems like the Arrow Three and David’s Sling. (Israel consider Palestinian traditional stone slings as the most dangerous weapon they ever manufactured

And we should work together to develop better tunnel detection, technology to prevent armed smuggling, kidnapping and terrorist attacks.

One of the first things I’ll do in office is invite the Israeli prime minister to visit the White House. (To do what? Bring another list of weapons that Israel need?)

And I will send a delegation from the Pentagon and the joint chiefs to Israel for early consultations. Let’s also expand our collaboration beyond security. Together, we can build an even more vibrant culture of innovation that tightens the links between Silicon Valley and Israeli tech companies and entrepreneurs.

There is much Americans can learn from Israel, from cybersecurity to energy security to water security and just on an everyday people- to-people level. And it’s especially important to continue fostering relationships between American and Israeli young people who may not always remember our shared past. They are the future of our relationship and we have to do more to promote that. (She means the technologies that Israel frequently steal from the USA?)

Many of the young people here today are on the front lines of the battle to oppose the alarming boycott, divestment and sanctions movement known as BDS.

Particularly at a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise across the world, especially in Europe, we must repudiate all efforts to malign, isolate and undermine Israel and the Jewish people.

I’ve been sounding the alarm for a while now. As I wrote last year in a letter to the heads of major American Jewish organizations, we have to be united in fighting back against BDS. Many of its proponents have demonized Israeli scientists and intellectuals, even students.

CLINTON: To all the college students who may have encountered this on campus, I hope you stay strong. Keep speaking out. Don’t let anyone silence you, bully you or try to shut down debate, especially in places of learning like colleges and universities.

Anti-Semitism has no place in any civilized society, not in America, not in Europe, not anywhere. (Are Moslems and citizens  from the Arab countries considered Semitic?)

Now, all of this work defending Israel’s legitimacy, expanding security and economic ties, taking our alliance to the next level depends on electing a president with a deep, personal commitment to Israel’s future as a secure, Democratic Jewish state, and to America’s responsibilities as a global leader.

Tonight, you’ll hear from candidates with very different visions of American leadership in the region and around the world. You’ll get a glimpse of a potential U.S. foreign policy that would insult our allies, not engage them, and embolden our adversaries, not defeat them.

For the security of Israel and the world, we need America to remain a respected global leader, committed to defending and advancing the international order.

An America able to block efforts to isolate or attack Israel. The alternative is unthinkable.

Yes, we need steady hands, not a president who says he’s neutral on Monday, pro-Israel on Tuesday, and who knows what on Wednesday, because everything’s negotiable.

Well, my friends, Israel’s security is non-negotiable.

I have sat in Israeli hospital rooms holding the hands of men and women whose bodies and lives were torn apart by terrorist bombs. I’ve listened to doctors describe the shrapnel left in a leg, an arm or even a head. (And why she hated to hold the hands of Palestinian babies and kids?)

That’s why I feel so strongly that America can’t ever be neutral when it comes to Israel’s security or survival. We can’t be neutral when rockets rain down on residential neighborhoods, when civilians are stabbed in the street, when suicide bombers target the innocent. Some things aren’t negotiable.

And anyone who doesn’t understand that has no business being our president. (Really? How about you get off your tiny horse?)

CLINTON: The second choice we face is whether we will have the strength and commitment to confront the adversaries that threaten us, especially Iran. For many years, we’ve all been rightly focused on the existential danger of Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon. After all, this remains an extremist regime that threatens to annihilate Israel.

That’s why I led the diplomacy to impose crippling sanctions and force Iran to the negotiating table, and why I ultimately supported the agreement that has put a lid on its nuclear program.

Today Iran’s enriched uranium is all but gone, thousands of centrifuges have stopped spinning, Iran’s potential breakout time has increased and new verification measures are in place to help us deter and detect any cheating. I really believe the United States, Israel and the world are safer as a result.

But still, as I laid out at a speech at the Brookings Institution last year, it’s not good enough to trust and verify. Our approach must be distrust and verify.

This deal must come with vigorous enforcement, strong monitoring, clear consequences for any violations and a broader strategy to confront Iran’s aggression across the region. We cannot forget that Tehran’s fingerprints are on nearly every conflict across the Middle East, from Syria to Lebanon to Yemen.

The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and its proxies are attempting to establish a position on the Golan from which to threaten Israel, and they continue to fund Palestinian terrorists. In Lebanon, Hezbollah is amassing an arsenal of increasingly sophisticated rockets and artillery that well may be able to hit every city in Israel.

Tonight, you will hear a lot of rhetoric from the other candidates about Iran, but there’s a big difference between talking about holding Tehran accountable and actually doing it. Our next president has to be able to hold together our global coalition and impose real consequences for even the smallest violations of this agreement.

We must maintain the legal and diplomatic architecture to turn all the sanctions back on if need. If I’m elected the leaders of Iran will have no doubt that if we see any indication that they are violating their commitment not to seek, develop or acquire nuclear weapons, the United States will act to stop it, and that we will do so with force if necessary.

Iranian provocations, like the recent ballistic missile tests, are also unacceptable and should be answered firmly and quickly including with more sanctions.

Those missiles were stamped with words declaring, and I quote, “Israel should be wiped from the pages of history.” We know they could reach Israel or hit the tens of thousands of American troops stationed in the Middle East. This is a serious danger and it demands a serious response.

CLINTON: The United States must also continue to enforce existing sanctions and impose additional sanctions as needed on Iran and the Revolutionary Guard for their sponsorship of terrorism, illegal arms transfers, human rights violations and other illicit behaviors like cyber attacks. We should continue to demand the safe return of Robert Levinson and all American citizens unjustly held in Iranian prisons.

And we must work closely with Israel and other partners to cut off the flow of money and arms from Iran to Hezbollah. If the Arab League can designate all of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, surely it is time for our friends in Europe and the rest of the international community to do so as well and to do that now.

At the same time, America should always stand with those voices inside Iran calling for more openness. Now look, we know the supreme leader still calls the shots and that the hard-liners are intent on keeping their grip on power. But the Iranian people themselves deserve a better future, and they are trying to make their voices heard. They should know that America is not their enemy, they should know we will support their efforts to bring positive change to Iran.

Now, of course, Iran is not the only threat we and Israel face. The United States and Israel also have to stand together against the threat from ISIS and other radical jihadists. An ISIS affiliate in the Sinai is reportedly stepping up attempts to make inroads in Gaza and partner with Hamas. On Saturday, a number of Israelis and other foreigners were injured or killed in a bombing in Istanbul that may well be linked to ISIS. Two of the dead are U.S.-Israeli dual nationals.

This is a threat that knows no borders. That’s why I’ve laid out a plan to take the fight to ISIS from the air, on the ground with local forces and online where they recruit and inspire. Our goal cannot be to contain ISIS, we must defeat ISIS.

And here is a third choice. Will we keep working toward a negotiated peace or lose forever the goal of two states for two peoples? Despite many setbacks, I remain convinced that peace with security is possible and that it is the only way to guarantee Israel’s long-term survival as a strong Jewish and democratic state.

CLINTON: It may be difficult to imagine progress in this current climate when many Israelis doubt that a willing and capable partner for peace even exists. But inaction cannot be an option. Israelis deserve a secure homeland for the Jewish people. Palestinians should be able to govern themselves in their own state, in peace and dignity. And only a negotiated two-state agreement can survive those outcomes.

If we look at the broader regional context, converging interests between Israel and key Arab states could make it possible to promote progress on the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Israelis and Palestinians could contribute toward greater cooperation between Israel and Arabs.

I know how hard all of this is. I remember what it took just to convene Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas for the three sessions of direct face-to-face talks in 2010 that I presided over. But Israelis and Palestinians cannot give up on the hope of peace. That will only make it harder later.

All of us need to look for opportunities to create the conditions for progress, including by taking positive actions that can rebuild trust — like the recent constructive meetings between the Israeli and Palestinian finance ministers aiming to help bolster the Palestinian economy, or the daily on-the-ground security cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

But at the same time, all of us must condemn actions that set back the cause of peace. Terrorism should never be encouraged or celebrated, and children should not be taught to hate in schools. That poisons the future.

Everyone has to do their part by avoiding damaging actions, including with respect to settlements. Now, America has an important role to play in supporting peace efforts. And as president, I would continue the pursuit of direct negotiations. And let me be clear — I would vigorously oppose any attempt by outside parties to impose a solution, including by the U.N. Security Council.

There is one more choice that we face together, and in some ways, it may be the most important of all. Will we, as Americans and as Israelis, stay true to the shared democratic values that have always been at the heart of our relationship? We are both nations built by immigrants and exiles seeking to live and worship in freedom, nations built on principles of equality, tolerance and pluralism.

At our best, both Israel and America are seen as a light unto the nations because of those values.

CLINTON: This is the real foundation of our alliance, and I think it’s why so many Americans feel such a deep emotional connection with Israel. I know that I do. And it’s why we cannot be neutral about Israel and Israel’s future, because in Israel’s story, we see our own, and the story of all people who struggle for freedom and self-determination. There’s so many examples. You know, we look at the pride parade in Tel Aviv, one of the biggest and most prominent in the world.

And we marvel that such a bastion of liberty exists in a region so plagued by intolerance. We see the vigorous, even raucous debate in Israeli politics and feel right at home.

And, of course, some of us remember a woman, Golda Meir, leading Israel’s government decades ago and wonder what’s taking us so long here in America? (She is the one who declared There are No Palestinians)

But we cannot rest on what previous generations have accomplished. Every generation has to renew our values. And, yes, even fight for them. Today, Americans and Israelis face currents of intolerance and extremism that threaten the moral foundations of our societies.

Now in a democracy, we’re going to have differences. But what Americans are hearing on the campaign trail this year is something else entirely: encouraging violence, playing coy with white supremacists, calling for 12 million immigrants to be rounded up and deported, demanding we turn away refugees because of their religion, and proposing a ban on all Muslims entering the United States.

Now, we’ve had dark chapters in our history before. We remember the nearly 1,000 Jews aboard the St. Louis who were refused entry in 1939 and sent back to Europe. But America should be better than this. And I believe it’s our responsibility as citizens to say so.

If you see bigotry, oppose it. If you see violence, condemn it. If you see a bully, stand up to him.

On Wednesday evening, Jews around the world will celebrate the Festival of Purim, and children will learn the story of Esther, who refused to stay silent in the face of evil. It wasn’t easy. She had a good life. And by speaking out, she risked everything.

But as Mordecai reminded her, we all have an obligation to do our part when danger gathers. And those of us with power or influence have a special responsibility to do what’s right. As Elie Wiesel said when accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, “Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.”

So, my friends, let us never be neutral or silent in the face of bigotry. Together let’s defend the shared values that already make America and Israel great.

CLINTON: Let us do the hard work necessary to keep building our friendship and reach out to the next generation of Americans and Israelis so the bonds between our nations grow even deeper and stronger. We are stronger together, and if we face the future side by side, I know for both Israel and America, our best days are still ahead.

 Girls cannot win at any age

Girl gets pregnant at less than 20: People say “She’s too young to have a baby”.
Girl get’s pregnant at above 35: “She’s risking her baby’s health!”
Girl considers abortion: “Can’t believe she’s just going to get rid of her baby.”
Girl keeps the baby: “How’s she going to afford that baby?”
Girl gets benefits: “Wow, she’s so lazy.”
Girl gets a job: “How can she stand to be away from her baby all day like that?”
Girl becomes a stay at home mom: “She probably doesn’t do anything all day.”
Girl stops hanging out with friends: “She totally changed when she had that baby.”
Girl goes out: “She’s always partying.”
Girl wants to leave crappy bf: “Nobody knows what it means to work things out anymore.”
Girl wants to stay with crappy bf: “She’s dumb.”
Girl eats burger: “Fatty.”
Girl eats salad: “Must be one of those starving health nuts.”
Girl is overprotective of her child: “You need to relax, helicopter mom.”
Girl lets her child play without her: “Where is this kid’s mom??”
Girl spanks her kid: “Call Protective Services!”
Girl refuses to spank: “Her kids are gonna be such brats.”

No matter what you do, people will talk.
So do what is best for YOU & your baby, not other people.

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Photo credit to: Kelly Moore Clark (

Note: My nephew got a baby girl 3 months ago. I can testify that raising a kid requires the import of the extended family, if the sanity and physical well-being is to be sustainable.


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Nativist Riots of 1844

lithograph of the southwark riot

This lithograph depicts key elements of one of the riots of 1844. The image portrays the fight that took place in the Southwark neighborhood on July 7, 1844. (Library Company of Philadelphia)






In May and July 1844, Philadelphia suffered some of the bloodiest rioting of the antebellum period, as anti-immigrant mobs attacked Irish-American homes and Roman Catholic churches before being suppressed by the militia.

The violence was part of a wave of riots that convulsed American cities starting in the 1830s.

Yet even amid this tumult, they stand out for their duration, itself a product of nativist determination to use xenophobia for political gain. In the aftermath of the riots, shocked Philadelphians began debating new methods of maintaining order, a discussion that contributed to the consolidation of Philadelphia County in 1854.

Ethnic and religious antagonism had a long history in the city.

Since the 1780s, Irish textile workers had come to Philadelphia after losing their jobs to mechanization in the British Isles. As early as 1828, when an off-duty watchman was killed after disparaging “bloody Irish transports,” Catholic presence had provoked anxiety among American- and Irish-born Protestants.

In 1831, Irish Catholics battled along Fifth Street with Protestants celebrating the anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne.

Anti-Catholic agitation increased in the early 1840s, organized in part around a perceived threat to the Bible in the public schools.

Catholic Bishop Francis Patrick Kenrick (1796-1863), an Irish immigrant himself, objected to Protestant teachers’ leading students in singing Protestant hymns and requiring them to read from the King James Bible.

Nativists used Kenrick’s complaints to gain followers. In 1842, dozens of Protestant clergymen formed the American Protestant Association to defend America from Romanism. In early 1843, editor Lewis Levin  (1808-60) made the Daily Sun an organ for attacks against Catholicism and Catholic immigration, and in December of that year, he helped found a nativist political party called the American Republican Association.

Bible Reading as Flashpoint

In 1844, the Bible controversy intensified in the district of Kensington, a suburb to the northeast of Philadelphia City and home to many Irish immigrants, both Protestant and Catholic. In February, Hugh Clark (1796-1862), a Catholic school director there, suggested suspending Bible reading until the school board could devise a policy acceptable to Catholics and Protestants alike.

Nativists saw this as a threat to their liberty and as a chance to mobilize voters, and they rallied by the thousands in Independence Square. On May 3, 1844 they rallied in Kensington itself but were chased away.

The first serious violence broke out three days later.

On May 6, the nativists reassembled in Kensington, provoking another fight, during which a young nativist named George Shiffler (1825-44) was fatally shot.

By day’s end, a second man—apparently a bystander—was dead, and several more nativists were wounded, two mortally.

The next day, the First Brigade of the Pennsylvania Militia, commanded by Brigadier General George Cadwalader (1806-79), responded to the sheriff’s call for help. The troops faced little direct resistance, but they proved unable to stop people from starting new fires.

On May 8, mobs gutted several private dwellings (including Hugh Clark’s house), a Catholic seminary, and two Catholic churches: St. Michael’s at Second Street and Master and St. Augustine’s at Fourth and Vine.

Only a flood of new forces—including citizen posses, city police, militia companies arriving from other cities, and U.S. army and navy troops—ended the violence by May 10.

The city remained superficially calm for the next eight weeks, but both nativists and Catholics anticipated further violence.

In Southwark—an independent district south of Philadelphia City and a seat of nativist strength—a Catholic priest’s brother began stockpiling weapons in the basement of the Church of St. Philip de Neri on Queen Street.

On Friday, July 5, a crowd of thousands gathered to demand the weapons. When the crowd reassembled the following day, the sheriff requested militia troops, and Cadwalader led about two hundred into Southwark. Saturday ended without bloodshed, but the situation remained tense, with a small group of militia—some of them Irish Catholics themselves—guarding the church and a group of nativist prisoners inside it.

Armed Clash in Southwark

On Sunday, July 7, the crowd reassembled, and this time it armed itself with cannon.

Egged on by nativist speakers, the crowd forced the militia to surrender the church and its prisoners. Cadwalader returned to Southwark about sunset at the head of a column and tried to clear the area around the church. When the crowd attacked the militia with bricks, stones, and bottles, the militia fired on them, killing at least two and wounding more.

Starting around 9pm, the crowd counterattacked. For the next four hours, rioters and militia battled in the streets of Southwark, with both sides firing cannon.

By morning, four militiamen and probably a dozen rioters were dead, along with many more wounded. Southwark’s aldermen negotiated the militia’s withdrawal from their district, but thousands of militia troops from other parts of the state arrived to patrol the City of Philadelphia.

Although American cities, particularly Philadelphia, had endured a surge of riots since the early 1830s, few individual riots lasted for more than a day, making the 1844 riots extreme in their severity and duration.

While some of the violence had been spontaneous, the ambitions of the nativist newspapers and political party in an election year likely sustained nativist fury through the spring and summer. Though the riots were more than the simple transplantation of anti-Catholic violence from Northern Ireland, they echoed the deliberate provocation seen there.

The riots did not resolve the place of the Irish in the city.

On the one hand, few Philadelphians were willing to endorse publicly the attacks on Catholics, and more than two thousand Philadelphians signed an address praising the militia’s use of “lawful force which unlawful force made necessary.”

On the other hand, in the October elections, amid the heaviest turnout in Philadelphia’s history, Levin and another nativist won congressional seats and other nativists took lesser posts.

Meanwhile, Philadelphians began discussing plans for a stronger police force to deter future riots.

In April 1845, the legislature passed a law requiring each major city and district of Philadelphia County to support at least one police officer for each 150 taxable inhabitants, and in 1850 it created a new Philadelphia Police District to cover the entire metropolitan area, including the outlying districts of Kensington and Southwark.

Though not the sole cause, these steps contributed to the consolidation of Philadelphia County into a single government in 1854.

Zachary M. Schrag is a professor of history at George Mason University. He is at work on a book about the 1844 riots.




March 2016

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