UNDERNEWS

Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

August 7, 2009

EXCERPTS FROM READER COMMENTS

BLUE M&Ms

Wow, looks like Van Halen may have known something we didn't after all. A story long-since passed into rock'n'roll legend describes one of the many absurd "riders" attached to Van Halen's touring contract in the late 70s, involving a backstage catering demand requiring that all the bowls of M&Ms have the brown ones removed. - Mike Fliugennock

GATES AFFAIR JUST ANOTHER IRISH BRAWL

Actually, virtually everyone in the West with any sort of European ancestry is going to be a descendant of Niall of the Nine Hostages, Charlemagne, or Cerdic, King of the Saxons. Any random American dude fighting any other random American dude is, by this standard, a good old Irish brawl.

THE FAT-FATALITY MYTH

Those who discriminate on the issue of weight do not see any difference between being overweight and being morbidly obese. To them, if you're not skinny as a rail, you are a terrible person.

Crush the arrogant twigs!

The most likely reason those who are overweight live longer is that they have enough reserve energy stored to survive a serious illness and the often toxic treatments used to treat it.

OVER 1200 RHODE ISLAND BUSINESSES IN TROUBLE OVER SALES TAX NON-PAYMENT

It's interesting, the number of people in business who seem to feel that sales taxes and FICA taxes are part of their profits, and that having to remit them is somehow unfair. - Mairead

THINGS WE HADN'T STARTED WORRYING ABOUT YET

One summer during college I served as a dorm resident advisor for a high school theater workshop. One morning the students started making cryptic remarks about me having had a wild night, and difficulty parking. It took a lot of questioning before they finally admitted to having moved my small Datsun from its parking place to the sidewalk. Sadly for both them and some unknown owner of a similar vehicle, my car was exactly where I had left it.

TOP SIX BANKS UP EMPLOYEE PAY 23%

My husband works
for one of these banks, in a back shop area, where each year he is rated quite highly on his review. His last raise was 2%, instead of the 5% or more he usually gets, all his co-workers got similar puny raises too, so clearly this 23% increase in pay is all going to the top while hardworking employees, the ones who actually do the work, are seeing their raises reduced to a pittance.

WAR KILLS TROOPS AND OUR ECONOMY

Did Donald Runsfeld ever find the 2.3 trillion dollars he announced on September 10th, 2001 the Pentagon couldn't account for?

INCANDESCENT LIGHT BULBS BEING REINVENTED

In August, Clear-Lite, an environmental friendly lighting company, will introduce its Green ArmorLite bulb, which helps prevent mercury from spreading if or when the light bulb breaks.

The ArmorLite bulb appears like a standard store bought incandescent bulb. In fact, it is a CFL bulb hidden inside an incandescent light bulb. A silicon, unbreakable balloon-like skin is wrapped around the outer light bulb so if it breaks, the mercury will be contained.

The silicon skin safeguards mercury contamination, by not allowing the vapor to permeate the air, an ever-present threat when a regular CFL breaks. Also, its silicon skin not only prevents Mercury contamination, but avoids glass splintering when the bulb breaks. - John Goodman

IF YOU NEED WHITE BRICKS, PLEASE GO TO HOME DEPOT

I was designed and built for beauty, to please the human eye and warm and inspire the human soul - not for utility - and I would like now to be returned to my fellows on display...but I would like also to thank sincerely those who skirted me away for use as a doorstop and bookend for awhile, for they have allowed me to experience the great dignity that is inherent in the most ordinary of useful labor. - Arty Bricks

END OF LIFE MEDICINE

Before my grandmother died she was on life support for weeks, at a cost of hundreds of thousands. She was writing me notes, begging to "Let me go." But the doctor insisted. I have found over the years that this is not an isolated experience. The supply of medical care is not infinite. When those hundreds of thousands go to prolong my grandmother in a vegetative state, they are not available to treat a child, or parent.

These right wingers are always contrasting proposals that involve government against a hypothetical free market ideal. But that hypothetical is just that. In actual experience we ration already -- by price, and therefore by means to pay.

We don't have a choice between rationing and non-rationing. The system rations already. Any system will. Donald Trump has access to care that the crew that cleans his office at night most likely doesn't.

The question is not whether we ration but rather how. Medical heroics that extend the functioning of the metabolic process by a few weeks would seem a fitting topic for discussion in this regard. It is not pleasant. But which real options are? JR

CAFFEINE VS ALZHEIMER'S

I've been drinking at least four cups of coffee a day since I started my first "real" job in 1979. This could explain why I can still remember all the words to the Monkees' "Daydream Believer".

Given the amount of coffee Americans drink, one would expect low incidences of Alzheimer's in America, but the opposite is true. Incidentally, my mother drank lots of coffee. She just passed away from complications from Alzheimer's.

THE CASE FOR CURB DAY

Or you could just join Freecycle -- send out an email listing what you want to give away and more likely than not someone will come and pick it up. I've given away an old computer and a Ford Ranger (not running) on Freecycle. - Agustin G

POLISCUM: JOHN EDWARDS

I never put any stock in Edwards or Obama or Kerry or Gore. In those elections I voted for Nader whilst being called by my children, whose liberal arts educations I paid for, a dreamer and even willfully arrogantly self-centered. But I don't hear much of that talk these days.

MEN EARN MORE THAN WOMEN EVEN IN MOST COMMON JOBS

The title of this article is misleading. Shouldn't it read: "The jobs that men tend to choose pay more than the jobs that women tend to choose?"
You cannot compare apples and oranges like this. Men and women have different work and life priorities, focus in different career niches, are willing to travel & work overtime differently. These choices get reflected in one's pay. Where are the 80 jobs that women earn more than men mentioned? Let's state the facts, not bias.

IS WAR INEVITABLE?

Tolstoy's depiction of fourteen- year-old drummer boys marching into fixed bayonets without missing a beat until they are gutted depicts the absurdity that is war.

War is not human nature. War is, as Howard Zinn has said, an affront to human nature. If it were not an affront to our nature, no one would be trying to stop it.

The cause of war is not race or religion, either. People of different races and religions live together in harmony in many places - but these are the places where economic inequality does not run along lines of religion or race.

The root cause of war is economic inequality - which is injustice . . .

War is not inevitable because economic inequality is not inevitable - it is an artificial, non-natural construct and a leftover from unenlightened days and ways.

WHY LIBERALS DON'T MAKE MORE HEADWAY

Sam's saying that trying to smear the firefighter makes us look trashy and, since he's working class (as am I), it makes us look elitist. . . The issue is did he get justice or not? You can argue either way depending upon what you believe but to dig through his personal story -- which had no bearing on her ruling -- for dirt is shameful and drives away support we on the left might otherwise get. I got Sam's point. I would also say that some of the commentaries posted here about Palin are exactly the same thing, driving people away. I'm African-American. There are Palin jokes among my friends, have been since, "Say it ain't so, Joe." But they are jokes. We don't ridicule her as "she went to community college! To more than one!" or any other elitist crap. We didn't vote for her but we're not insulting her and one reason is that her own story is one that a lot of us would love. To be a mayor, to be a governor. We on the left need to be thinking about our criticisms which have gotten very sexist and very classicist.

WHAT LIBRARIANS DO WHEN THEY'RE NOT BEING QUIET

All the libraries that I have been in lately are cacophonies. Children run wild, adults not only talk loudly, but sometimes shout. Cell phones are supposedly prohibited, but no abuser is reminded of this rule. Perhaps the reading rooms and stacks of university and central libraries maintain a quiet, but for those of us plebes without such access, ear plugs and other acoustic silencers are a priority. - m

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