The major forces that drive climatic change on Earth, primarily the sun, are arranging physical forces in such a way that global warming is countered and the Earth is now entering a new ice age. So much for an inconvenient truth.
Opponents of ObamaCare, watch out for what you wish for. Suppose the Supremes do strike down the individual mandate, what happens? Well, if ObamaCare is not repealed, and if Obama wins re-election, and if the Dems obtain majorities in both houses again in 2012--all developments within the realm of possibility--I think Congress would enact a mandatory public health insurance program that would knock private health insurance companies out of the main health care business, leaving them, as in Britain, to offer supplemental plans to cover elective procedures like cosmetic surgery and gold-plated plans for special hospitals for the very rich and the politicians who won't want Medicaid level health care. Any plan to repeal, defund, or reform ObamaCare must plan defensively against this real possibility.
A lot of European philosophy is summarized in the long journey from Renan, The Life of Jesus, to Heidegger's Being and Time, the journey from positivism to phenomenology. In Renan, we felt the firm ground of fact under our feet, while our heads were dizzy because long cherished truths were challenged. In Heidegger, our heads are steady while our feet shift and stumble on the shaking earth. It is difficult to see how The Fourth Kind, starring Milla Jovovich, could have been written and filmed without Heidegger. It is easy to explain the alien abductions, that are at the core of the movie, in psychoanalytic terms as recovered memories of childhood sexual abuse, but Freud looks like positivism compared to the inter-threaded movie illusions in The Fourth Kind. In the end, only Heidegger has the key to the puzzle. Experience is and can be only interpreted in terms of other (previous) experience. Aliens are always manifested to our minds in terms of familiar objects and beings, even if as wild composites, as in ancient Egyptian and Greek mythologies, because that is all our mind has available to experience what is presented to it. We cannot "experience" aliens, or alien abduction, indeed, or God, because there is no personal or cultural experience of aliens, alien abductions, and God in and of themselves. Their being is always cloaked. Consequently, no ground of positive fact is available to the mind on which to build objective truth. All empirical truth is, as Heidegger explains, circularly grounded in experience which both shapes and confirms it, and is credible as it is urgent. The movie is not a philosophical tract, but it is a lesson in existential phenomenology. And yes, I liked the movie. I was involved, enthralled, and fascinated by the movie as a subjective experience as a viewer and, more distantly, as a critic watching the threading of the multiple story levels and filmic elements. Kudos to the writer and director, Olatunde Osunsanmi, for his crafting of the intricate plotting, and to Jovovich, for her careful performance resisting histrionics.
I was reading a blog article on efforts to get an .xxx domain extension for pornographic websites. The article described such sites as "naughty" websites. What a quaint Victornianism. As a subset of the general porn market, there is medical porn, which is pornography consumed as self-medication for sexual dysfunction, mostly associated with aging. What is "naughty" about medicine? For both women and men, entering their fifties brings unhappy changes in their sex lives. Not only does the decline of the hormonal basis for the libido, which begins in their late twenties, finally reach a sufficiently low level to interfere with arousal and climax satisfaction, but many medical issues associated with middle age (e.g., menopause for women and prostatitis for men) have sexual dysfunction as a side effect. Some widely used medicines used to treat middle age illnesses, such as depression, also suppress libido as a side-effect. In this demoralizing situation, viewing and reading pornography can provide the sexual stimulation needed for continuing intimacy in partner relationships. It is counterproductive and immature to suggest that there is something naughty or distasteful about consuming pornography, especially in these circumstances. Regardless of the label and regardless of religious notions that sex should be limited to procreation, people well beyond fertility will continue to want to engage in sex for pleasure. Increasing longevity and the demographic shift to an older population will lead to huge portions of the middle-aged and elderly populations to turn to pornography to re-ignite the cooling embers of romantic passion so central to companionate love.
Consumers are going into debt with credit cards less and less, continuing a trend that began with the financial collapse at the outset of the Great Recession. Less credit is available and, at the same time, consumers don't have enough confidence in their future income to take on more credit card debt. In Thanksgiving holiday shopping this year, use of debt to purchase goods declined by nearly half from last year. Consumers are running scared. This is a social fact that impedes economic growth.
Gary Becker and Richard Posner review the possible economic impact of national legalization of now-illegal drugs, specifically, marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and other mind-altering drugs (not including illegal use of prescription drugs with similar effects) in their joint blog. They take off from a new study out of the Cato Institute, Cato Institute—Jeffrey A. Miron and Katherine Waldock, The Budgetary Impact of Ending Drug Prohibition (2010), available at www.cato.org/pubs/wtpapers/DrugProhibitionWP.pdf. The Cato Institute study do not address the social issues involved in maintaining or removing drug prohibition.