Monthly Archives: September 2015


by Reid Fitzsimons

Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees all others- Winston Churchill

Clothes and courage have much to do with each other- Sara Jeannette Duncan

Up until today I could have searched the recesses of my cultural knowledge and concluded there is a person named Blake Lively and associated the word celebrity with the name. For some reason I happened to notice a trending now headline stating, “Blake Lively Shuts Down Preserve.” My initial assumption was that this Blake Lively person is one of those PETA-type celebrities who pose nude under the banner of “I’d rather go naked than wear fur,” and had been operating some kind of animal rescue organization. Being tangentially simpatico as a philosophical vegetarian for over nine years, my first thought was it is kind of a shame- so many celebrities offer grandiose statements or make ridiculous symbolic gestures pertaining to the progressive cause of the moment, but here was one that actually did something. Sadly, in the realm of “say it isn’t so,” I discovered Preserve is a largely commercial website featuring the “Stories and Creations of Artisans.”

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by Reid Fitzsimons

Note: The following appeared as a Letter to the Editor in the Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania Times-Leader newspaper on Sep 17, 2015 with the title "Sen. Bob Casey Parrots Planned Parenthood's Dubious Statistics."  Below that (“Follow-up”) reflects a discussion subsequent to when the letter was written (early August 2015) with one of Sen. Casey’s policy staffers in his Washington office on Sept. 10, 2015.

A majority in the US Senate recently voted to terminate Federal funding of Planned Parenthood (PP), but a “supermajority” was not obtained, hence the motion failed. Among those voting in support of the half billion dollar plus subsidy of PP was Sen. Robert Casey, Jr. Those who follow such things know that Sen. Casey frequently declares himself to be “pro-life,” but of course he is not- his obsequiousness when it comes to the severe progressive liberalism of Barak Obama disallows whatever independent thought he might possess. Perhaps claiming to be “pro-life” buys him few votes or, less cynically, it helps assuage a sense of inadequacy in his inability to live up to his father’s moral standard.

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by Barry King

Cuban refugees in the USA, who fled Communist violence in Cuba via boats headed for the Florida coast, are emphatically not Communists. Most of them are strongly anti-Communist, and its not hard to see why, if you pay attention to their stories. Something similar may be said of those who managed to climb the Berlin Wall from East to West, and survived. That dynamic helps explain why, during the proxy version of the Cold War fought in Congo during the 60s, there were Cubans on both sides. Cuban-Cubans and Argentinean-Cubans (like Che, though his ancestors were Catalan and Irish) fought on the rebel side as Soviet proxies, while Cuban-Americans fought as proxies of the west. And of course, most of the suffering and dying was done by Congolese people caught in the crossfire, or as proxy victims of the proxy warriors.

On the other hand, refugees now fleeing to Europe from Islamic-State-sponsored violence in the Middle East, appear to be, predominantly, still Muslims.

It wonders me: why is there that difference in how that dynamic works in different cases? I suppose it might have to do with different malleability of religious world-views v. political world-views. But then, Communism was / is quasi-religious, and ISIS-variety Islam is profoundly political. Anybody have any ideas about this?

Here's a link to some stories, photos, and videos about Cuban-American pilots in Congo:



by Barry King

For lovers of science and of nature, parasitism is a fascinating topic. An important detail is the complexity of the definition of "success" for the parasite, who prefers to rely on the productivity of others rather than on his own productivity (the cuckoo prefers not to be bothered by the hard work of building a nest, incubating eggs, and feeding chicks, so she just lays her eggs in someone else's nest.) The "success" of parasitism has an obvious strategic limitation in this consequence, that if the parasite is too "successful" the host is overwhelmed and goes extinct. Then the parasite goes extinct because it had become fatally dependent on a now-extinct host. Cuckoos can get away with it sustainably because they are parasitic only gently and on a wide variety of other species rather than on just one. A forest with cuckoos is more (bio)diverse than one without, but if the cuckoos collectively are not careful they will end up subtracting both their hosts and themselves from the biodiversity gene pool. That's why infectious organisms that cause 100% fatality in their hosts are extremely rare: their evolutionary tactic is strategically suicidal within just 1 or 2 generations. In human politics and economics, the analog to parasitism is misleadingly called "rent-seeking" ( I guess it's a good thing that we humans are not aggressively parasitic organisms - or are we?