“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Monday, December 22, 2014

What do you see when you turn out the light?

There were about 300,000 of those fuckers out there


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      The production wasn't hurt by having the incomparable and imperturbable Leon Russell directing what might have appeared a mad house.

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    1. Well, not the being dead part, of course...

      Damn, for all that, we are not immortal after all.

  3. You certainly know a lot of music, allen.

    Broad and deep and going back a long way.....

  4. OT -

    Human Origins
    8,000-Year-Old Olive Oil Found in Ancient Clay Pots
    by Laura Geggel, Staff Writer | December 18, 2014

    Chemical analysis of ancient pottery from Israel.

    Researchers suspected that people began domesticating olive trees about 8,000 to 6,000 years ago, but this is the first evidence of olive oil in the country of Israel.
    Credit: Courtesy Israel Antiquities Authority
    View full size image

    This story was updated Dec. 18 at 1:40 p.m. EST.

    Ancient people pressed olive oil as far back as 8,000 years ago in Israel, a new study finds.

    Researchers found residues of the Mediterranean-diet staple on ancient clay pots dating back to the 6th millennium B.C.

    "This is the earliest evidence of the use of olive oil in the country, and perhaps the entire Mediterranean basin," Ianir Milevski and Nimrod Getzov, excavation directors at the Israel Antiquities Authority, said in a statement. [See photos of the fragments and reconstructed clay vessels]

    The team discovered the clay vessels by accident. The government required an excavation at En Zippori in the Lower Galilee region of northern Israel before the Netivei Israel Co. could widen Highway 79. The researchers unexpectedly found the pottery during the excavation, which lasted from 2011 to 2013.

    Milevski and Getzov wanted to find out what had once been stored in the vessels. So, the researchers, together with their colleague Dvory Namdar, of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Institute of Earth Sciences, extracted organic residues left on the clay.

    The analyses showed that the pottery containing olive oil dates back to the Early Chalcolithic period, a phase of the Bronze Age. To double-check their work, the researchers looked at modern clay shards with one-year-old olive oil residues on them, and found a strong chemical resemblance between the ancient and contemporary samples.

    In all, the researchers studied 20 pottery vessels, including two that date back to about 5,800 B.C., indicating that the oil was well preserved inside the vessels for almost 8,000 years. The findings support previous research that suggests people first domesticated the olive tree about 8,000 to 6,000 years ago.

    Archaeologists have suspected that an olive oil industry once flourished in ancient northern Israel, but this is the first definitive evidence that this type of oil was used at such an early time.

    "Although it is impossible to say for sure, this might be an olive species that was domesticated and joined grain and legumes — the other kinds of field crops that we know were grown then," Milevski and Getzov said.

    The study was published online Nov. 24 in the Israel Journal of Plant Sciences.

    Editor's Note: This story was updated to correct the millennium that the olive oil was dated to in the study.

    Follow Laura Geggel on Twitter @LauraGeggel. Follow Live Science @livescience, Facebook & Google+. Original article on Live Science.

  5. OT -

    We need to empathize with The Crapper -

    Why are we so eager to embrace conspiracy theories?

    22 December 2014 by Eric Oliver and Tom Wood
    Magazine issue 3000. Subscribe and save
    For similar stories, visit the Comment and Analysis and The Human Brain Topic Guides

    A staggering number of people believe the unbelievable. How should we respond, ask two political scientists

    THE world is awash with conspiracy theories: Malaysia Airlines flight 17 was diverted by the CIA; drug companies are preventing the release of natural cures for cancer; Queen Elizabeth is part of a secret plot to control the world.

    Most pundits dismiss such theories as the ravings of a paranoid fringe. Some claim they are cranks who pose a serious risk to society. The evidence, however, reveals a more nuanced picture.

    For the past eight years, we have been asking people in the US their views about conspiracy theories. We find three important facts.

    First, the theories are widely endorsed. At any given time, at least half of Americans agree with one or more of the common ones.

    Second, adherence is common across the population. Although racial minorities and the less-educated embrace them more readily, educated whites also subscribe to them.

    Third, conspiracy theories are embraced across the ideological spectrum. More conservatives than liberals believe that Barack Obama fabricated his birth certificate, but plenty of liberals believe 9/11 was an inside job. Some conspiracies are equally appealing to the left and right.

    As researchers, the interesting question to us is not whether these theories are right or wrong, but why so many people endorse them in the face of overwhelming evidence. We think the answer lies in human psychology.

    The brain did not evolve to process information about industrial economies, terrorism or medicine, but about survival in the wild. This includes a tendency to assume that unseen predators are lurking or that coincidental events are somehow related. Conspiracy theories reflect how we intuitively understand our world and, ironically, provide emotional reassurance. They are stories with good and bad guys, conflict, resolution and other narrative elements that have a natural appeal. In short, to adherents, conspiracy theories feel like the truth.

    It is this that makes them problematic. By crystallising intuitions into incontrovertible claims, they limit possibilities for public discourse. This might not be a problem if the conspiracy involves aliens. But when it comes to important issues such as gun control or vaccinations, conspiracy theories impede our ability to sustain public debate.

    Thus, rather than trying to argue or reason, the first step should be to empathise. After all, whether knocking on wood or wishing someone luck, we all engage in magical thinking. Only by appreciating the emotional tug of conspiracy theories will it be possible for us to communicate in a meaningful way with our neighbours in tinfoil hats.

    This article appeared in print under the headline "Larger than life"

    Eric Oliver is a political scientist at the University of Chicago. Tom Wood is a political scientist at Ohio State University in Columbus. Their latest findings are in JAMA (vol 174, p 817)

    1. >>>>Thus, rather than trying to argue or reason, the first step should be to empathize.<<<<

    2. Good catch, Bob. Nonetheless, Michael Bloomberg is a megalomaniac ass who fears guns. Neither his fear nor that of gun owners is misplaced.

  6. I've been watching some truly remarkable performances from the days when we were all young. I watched Leon Russell's induction into the Hall of Fame and learned that for all his gifts and friends, he was found a pauper in old age by Elton John.

    The Romans had it right. When a general would come to Rome, victorious, a whisperer would ride or walk beside him, saying, "You are but a mortal."

    They were beautiful days...Alas...

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.


    2. I recall that about the Romans. Good advice for us all in our worldly petty moments of 'victory'.