Showing posts from December 24, 2015

What did Jesus really look like?

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[Merry Christmas everybody! See also: Saturnalia and Christmas. *RON*]
By Joan Taylor, King's College London, BBC News Magazine, 24 December 2015

Everyone knows what Jesus looks like. He is the most painted figure in all of Western art, recognised everywhere as having long hair and a beard, a long robe with long sleeves (often white) and a mantle (often blue).

Jesus is so familiar that he can be recognised on pancakes or pieces of toast.

But did he really look like this?

Probably not.

In fact this familiar image of Jesus actually comes from the Byzantine era, from the 4th Century onwards, and Byzantine representations of Jesus were symbolic - they were all about meaning, not historical accuracy.

They were based on the image of an enthroned emperor, as we see in the altar mosaic of the Santa Pudenziana church in Rome.

U.S. Cold War Nuclear Target Lists Declassified for First Time

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[There may not be anything totally surprising about any of this, but parts of it make for sobering reading. According to 1956 Plan, H-bombs were to be used against priority "air power" targets in the Soviet Union, China, and Eastern Europe. Major cities in Soviet Bloc, including East Berlin, were high priorities in "Systematic Destruction" for atomic bombings. Plans to Target People ("Population") violated international legal norms. SAC wanted a 60 megaton bomb, equivalent to over 4,000 Hiroshima atomic weapons. *RON*]

National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 538 Edited by William Burr Posted - December 22, 2015. For more information, contact: William Burr: 202.994.7000 or

Key Targets for SAC Forces (Interactive map, click on targets to see more information)

Christmas in Wildrose Country: That noise on the roof may not be Santa Claus! It could be the UN, here to steal your turnips!

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[Right-wing conspiracies have always been alive and well in the Wild West. I guess its good to know these whack jobs are out there and that someone like Climenhaga is keeping an eye on them, because you can bet they are not on any RCMP surveillance list. *RON*]
By David J. Climenhaga,, 24 December 2015

Merry Christmas! If you hear scuffling on your roof in the wee hours of this morning, it'sprobably just Santa Claus.

If it's accompanied by a low thumping sound, though, it may not be the hoof beats of Prancer, Donner and Vixen and could be the muffled blades of a black helicopter dropping United Nations storm troopers onto your rooftop bent on collectivizing your root vegetables.

Come Christmas out here in Wild Rose Country -- which, nowadays, is supposed to be spelled Wildrose Country -- and it can be hard to know whether to break out the milk and cookies or the Swiss Arms CZ-858 you bought last summer after Stephen Harper and his …

The Sneaky Way Austerity Got Sold to the Public Like Snake Oil

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[Pseudoscience, ideology and the plutocracy. " a budget approach cloaked in scientific and technical jargon became a tool to manipulate public opinion and serve the interests of the powerful." And note how this makes this kind of story no great news: Former World Bank economist to be Tanzania's new Finance Minister. *RON*]
Lynn Parramore, author and cultural theorist, Huffington Post, 23 December 2015

Orsola Costantini, Senior Economist at the Institute for New Economic Thinking, is the author of a new paper which exposes the disturbing history of how a budget approach cloaked in scientific and technical jargon became a tool to manipulate public opinion and serve the interests of the powerful. In the following conversation, she reveals how austerity has been sold to the public through a process that hurts the people, consolidates knowledge and power at the top, and compromises democracy. As economic inequality reaches new heig…

Financialisation compounds commodity rout

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["Companies struggle to meet debt payments as dollar income shrinks." Canada is getting its economic butt kicked by the current low-point in the commodity cycle - a cycle, incidentally, that investors refuse to recognize no matter that it is a perpetual phenomenon. This article describes how financialization, especially our old friend derivatives, exacerbated the bottoming-out of the market. *RON*]

Satyajit Das, Financial Times, 22 December 2015

Comedian Will Rogers measured the advance of civilisation by the fact that in every war they killed you in a new way. By that standard, commodity markets have progressed.
The current correction is partially cyclical. Low real commodity prices in the 1990s led to significant under-investment in mining assets and infrastructure. A combination of supply constraints and unexpected increases in demand led to a sharp increase in prices.

The industry responded by massive investment to increase production…

China Just Launched the Most Frightening Game Ever — and Soon It Will Be Mandatory

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[New Internet-based system to track your obedience to the state. Obey, don't question or mix with those who do, and you get more 'credits.' *RON*]

Claire Bernish, The AntiMedia, 21 December 2015

(ANTIMEDIA) Oceania, China — As if further proof were needed Orwell’s dystopia is now upon us, China has now gamified obedience to the State. Though that is every bit as creepily terrifying as it sounds, citizens may still choose whether or not they wish to opt-in — that is, until the program becomes compulsory in 2020. “Going under the innocuous name of ‘Sesame Credit,’ China has created a score for how good a citizen you are,” explains Extra Credits’ video about the program. “The owners of China’s largest social networks have partnered with the government to create something akin to the U.S. credit score — but, instead of measuring how regularly you pay your bills, it measures how obediently you follow the party line.”

In the w…

Sued Over Old Debt, and Blocked From Suing Back

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[Merry Christmas. This is, simply, disgusting. "By inserting arbitration clauses into the fine print of consumer contracts, they have found a way to block access to the courts and ban class-action lawsuits, the only realistic way to bring a case against a deep-pocketed corporation." *RON*]

By Jessica Silver-Greenberg and Michael Corkery, New York Times 22 December 2015
Clifford Cain Jr., a retired electrician in Baltimore, was used to living on a tight budget, carefully apportioning his Social Security and pension benefits to cover his rent and medication for multiple sclerosis.

So Mr. Cain was puzzled when he suddenly could not make ends meet. Months later, he discovered why: A debt collector had garnished his bank account after suing him for about $4,500 the company said he owed on an old debt.

Mr. Cain said he never knew the lawsuit had been brought against him until the money was gone. Neither did other Baltimore residents who were am…

Reshoring Myth Explodes: Offshoring Outpaces Onshoring Every Year Since 2004 Except 2011

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[For some reason, 'common wisdom' in the business community has declared that there has been a manufacturing renaissance and industrial jobs are coming back to the US - nothing could be further from the truth. Read this before reading the Wall Street Journal on this topic. *RON*]
Mike Shelock, Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis, 22 December 2015

Reshoring Over Before It Ever Got Going

Recall the hype over reshoring? Manufacturing jobs supposedly were returning to the US in droves from Asia.

My view was that although some manufacturing processes returned, not many jobs came back thanks to robots and software automation. That view was far too optimistic.

Reshoring Myth and Reality

The second annual A.T. Kearney U.S. Reshoring Index shows that for the fourth consecutive year, reshoring of manufacturing operations to the United States has once again failed to keep up with offshoring.

Supply Chain reports 2015 U.S. Reshoring Index Indicate…