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Near-As-No-Matter Feudalism

One of the US’ founding laws is a prohibition on creating a titled aristocracy. A couple centuries on, this seems quaint. But considering that our nation is violating the crap out of it in spirit, which I will illustrate below, it’s worth revisiting.

Setting aside a long list of unjust aristocratic perks and abuses, the worst thing about feudal systems was their everyday suckitude. Most people lived in hopeless misery, were held to harsh standards by authorities and had no protection from injury by their superiors in wealth or power. Following the invention of epidemiological studies, it was discovered that chronic poverty and mistreatment causes illness and shortened lifespans, to no one’s very great surprise.

While we can’t ask them, I’m pretty sure that most of the misery in feudal societies wasn’t caused by philosophical disagreements with Divine Right of Kings theory.
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Yep

What Dave said. Boy, I wish Dave Johnson was a Times columnist, instead of David Brooks.

Reaction

I was reading the different reactions to yesterday’s quake, and I have to say, the last thing I thought was that it was a terrorist attack. I immediately thought “WTF, an earthquake?”

Dire

So they fudged it:

Partisans will surely find things to love and hate about CBO’s updated economic outlook. It projects that the 2011 deficit will be lower than the last two years’ deficits, but still near record highs. It forecasts a slow but steady economic recovery over the next six years. And it makes clear that the country’s medium-term fiscal imbalances are manageable unless lawmakers decide to screw things up.

But there’s also a major, major caveat.

“CBO initially completed its economic forecast in early July, but it updated the forecast in early August to reflect the policy changes enacted in the Budget Control Act [the debt limit deal],” the report reads. “However, the forecast described here does not reflect any other developments since early July, including the recent swings in financial markets, weakness in certain economic indicators, and the annual revision to the national income and product accounts. Incorporating that news would have led CBO to temper its near-term forecast for economic growth.”
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Here’s how not to begin an editorial about the departure of an arrogant and divisive “public servant” who hung on until the school district and anonymous donors gave her $905,000 to go away…

School daze

Four days a week? Thank you, Republican party!

A South Dakota school district has joined the march toward a four-day school week to save money.

The Irene-Wakonda district figures it can save $50,000, or the equivalent of one teacher, by running classes Monday through Thursday and stretching each day by about 30 minutes.

“Children are pretty resilient,” district Superintendent Larry Johnke told the Star on Tuesday. “Time wise, there’s not a lot of difference. We did our research and found test scores have not gone down in places that have a four-day week.”

The 300-student Irene-Wakonda district lost of a chunk of its $2.3 million budget from the state and had already cut events, an art program and two coaches.

“In this financial crisis, we wanted to maintain our core content and vocational program, so we were forced to do this,” said Johnke.

The rural school district joins about 120 in 21 American states that have sliced a day off the school week to save money. A growing trend over the last decade, accelerated by the U.S. recession, the four-day school week tends to crop up in smaller, rural districts, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Cat 3

Expected to be Cat 4 by tonight:

Irene is forecast to move to the northwest, passing over all of the Bahamas by Thursday evening, then curving to the north. Irene then makes landfall in the US near or at the Outer Banks Saturday afternoon, then traveling along the mid-Atlantic coastline of the US. After Saturday, Irene may pose a threat to Long Island and the New England coastline. However, NHC is quick to remind us that the average forecast error for day 4 is 200 miles, so don’t stop your hurricane preparations if you aren’t in the immediate area of landfall. It is also important to note that the windfield of Irene is expected to be large, affecting areas distant from the immediate track of Irene’s center. Tropical storm forces winds are expected to be found out to at least 150 miles away from Irene’s center on Friday afternoon.

New rules

For flyers. These should help!

The war on the poor

Jeff Madrick on Countdown:

Irene

Let’s see. I live three blocks from the Delaware River and the ground is already saturated from a week of rain… should be fun! They’re predicted a second landfall in NJ for Sunday:

(CNN) — The entire eastern coast of the United States should prepare for Irene, a large and dangerous hurricane churning northwestward over the tropical waters of the Caribbean, the nation’s emergency chief warned Tuesday.

At 8 p.m. ET, the National Hurricane Center said the winds in Irene remained unchanged from its previous update, at 90 mph, making the storm a Category 1 hurricane. However, the reduction is expected to be only temporary, and Irene is still forecast to become a Category 3 event, a major hurricane, by Wednesday night or Thursday, the center said.

Irene was moving through the southern Bahamas and will pass very near or over the Turks and Caicos islands later Tuesday night, CNN Senior Meteorologist Dave Hennen said early Tuesday evening.

The storm could threaten the North Carolina coast on Saturday and is likely to continue to be a hurricane all the way into New England as it moves along or over the northeast coast, Hennen said.

Widespread damage is possible from coastal Carolina all the way up to the Canadian Maritimes, including the major cities of the Northeast, Hennen said.
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