Sunday, January 31, 2010

Books: Liberalism Against Populism

Here's an interesting book I've been reading off and on for the better part of a year. The basic argument of Liberalism Against Populism is that social choice can vary wildly depending on the method of voting used. Por ejemplo:

"Even under proportional representation, slightly different methods of summarizing can produce markedly different results. The French parliamentary election of 1951 provides a persuasive illustration of this fact.

In preparation for that election, the parties of the center, the so-called Third Force, which had jointly controlled the National Assembly from the election of 1946, slightly changed the electoral procedures in a way that greatly enhanced their opportunities to remain in control. It seems likely that the ordinary citizen did not observe much difference in the procedure...Without this manipulation, both Gaullists and Communists would have had more seats, and that fact very likely would have changed the Cabinets between 1951 and 1955 from mostly Third Force coalitions to either right-leaning or left-leaning ones...

In 1951 two changes were made. In some districts, parties were permitted to form alliances and seats were assigned b the highest-average formula applied to either parties or alliances...

In Paris and its suburbs, Communists and Gaullists controlled probably two-thirds of the votes. The procedure of a majority alliance could not help the Third Force parties, and they did not permit it in the 75 seats there. Instead, they changed the formula of counting votes from the highest-average method to the largest-remainder method...The right and center parties gained 9 of 75 seats or about 12 percent of the Parisian seats."

This is both a somewhat disturbing and somewhat obvious, drawback to electoral democracy. One could even conceivably legitimize a measure that the majority of the public opposes by putting it up for a vote and having it pass. This, for example, explains why incumbents in Cuban elections often win by margins of 90 percent or more. It also explains, to take another example, why Republicans made such huge gains in the 1994 congressional elections even though the majority of the public opposed the things written in "Contract with America."

William Riker lays down three properties that an electoral system should have: monotonicity, undifferentiatedness, and neutrality. Monotonicity means that "if one or more voters change preference in a direction favorable to x, then the resulting change, if any, in the fate of x should be an improvement for x." Undifferentiatedness is "the technical condition underlying equality." It is "the condition that any permutation of a set of individual judgements leads to the same social choice. This means that the votes cannot be differentiated either in weight or in the roles played by the voters because if judgments are rearranged among voters in any way the same outcome is produced. Neutrality is that idea that "if neither alternative has an advantage, reversed preferences will lead to a reversed result." For example, a two-thirds majority requirement for some measure to pass violates this rule, since a vote of 51-49 yields the same result as 49-51.

According to Riker, "Simple majority decision on binary alternatives is consistent with the democratic purposes of voting (by reason of strong monotonicity); it is fair to all voters (by reason of undifferentiatedness); and it is fair to all candidates (by reason of neutrality)...unfortunately, there is no fair way to ensure that there will be exactly two alternatives. Usually the political world offers many options, which, for simple majority decision, must be reduced to two."

And that's all I got for now.


Let me be perfectly fair. Considering the similarities in the responses to Hurricane Katrina and the Haiti earthquake, it's entirely possible that sheer incompetence is the only reason Haiti is being occupied right now.

After Katrina, the National Guard sealed off the city and preventing anyone from getting in or out. Even the Red Cross was not allowed in at first. Residents attempting to flee the city were turned back at gunpoint. Meanwhile, private mercenaries poured into the city to protect the property of the town's wealthiest citizens. Four days passed before any serious rescue effort was mounted. It was ten days before they began fishing bodies out of the toxic soup.

I'm entirely willing to accept the possibility that the militarization of the relief effort in Haiti is simply due to gross incompetence on the part of the federal government when it comes to responding to disasters. But I tend to be too cynical to embrace the possibility that bad things happen in Washington "on accident." My hunch is that the 15,000 troops in Haiti will continue to be there throughout the reconstruction effort, which will probably be neoliberal in orientation and therefore highly unpopular among the mass of Haitian poor. That former president Clinton has been praising sweat shop labor in that country as "economic progress" in the media seems to validate my suspicions. My guess is Haiti will emerge from this tragedy even more economically dependent than before, if that is even possible.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Random Crap

Here's a truly astounding article from the Wall Street Journal denouncing the Obama Administration's conduct in Haiti, astounding because most criticism of the occupation has been levied by the left, and the WSJ is of course anything but. And with 15,000 troops in Haiti by now, that it is an occupation is a fact that takes real talent to miss.

Speaking of which:

Here's another astounding article, but for different reasons. USA Today notes the history of Marine involvement in Haiti and manages not to recoil in horror. According to them, "The Corps governed Haiti from 1915 to 1934 after an invasion force was sent to prevent an anti-American dictator from assuming power. Young, non-commissioned officers governed Haiti with little supervision." Marines built "roads, bridges and schools," but "many" of the ungrateful Haitians viewed it as "imperialism." They also note the role the Marines played in the 2004 coup that overthrew the popular Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, except they describe their role with the Orwellian term "to prevent massacres." Of particular interest is this little nugget from one Lt. Col. Gary Keim: "We were required to reread [the 1915 Marine occupation] ... We've been here before. We've been successful before." It does not bode well for the "relief effort" if the US military is preparing for it by revisiting one of the more shameful chapters of American history.


Here's something that makes my blood boil. The Federal government has awarded the state of Louisiana 474 million dollars for damages to Charity Hospital during Hurricane Katrina. This means that the state now has enough money to renovate Charity and build a state-of-the-art facility within the old shell. Instead, they are going to sit on the money for years, trying to float hundreds of millions of dollars in bonds that nobody will go for, to finance the brand spanking new LSU/VA hospital, to be built for 300 million more than the cost of renovating Charity, be completed 4 and a half years later, and built upon land currently occupied by 200 mid-city houses to boot.

I know people who know people who think that the levees were deliberately dynamited to push the working poor of New Orleans off of their land. This is a grandiose, yet entirely understandable misconception, considering the net effect of the recovery has been to push thousands of lower and lower-middle class residents off their land and out of the city altogether. This is all done in the name of "cleaning up the city," and is received with much applause by the New Orleanian middle and upper classes. The irony is, of course, that one could make a far more convincing argument that it is the New Orleanian middle and upper classes that should be kicked out in the name of "cleaning up the city," seeing as the degeneration of New Orleans into an economic and cultural backwater is entirely their fault. It isn't as though the poor visit these problems upon themselves. The extensive, miserable poverty in New Orleans is due to centuries of mismanagement of the city's resources by the local elite. As late as the mid 19th century many New Orleans streets were still paved with wood.

The middle class would counter this argument by saying that everything was fine until them uppity niggers started voting in people like Nagin and Dutch Morial, but this is an absurd mischaracterization of the way that American elections work. Candidates for offices of any consequence must first be vetted by moneyed interests before they can run a successful campaign. Therefore, the ruling elites in America essentially hold veto power over candidates' campaigns. Besides, in the case of Nagin, it was the conservative white vote, which was encouraged to vote for Nagin by the Louisiana GOP, which proved the crucial swing factor in the election. The New Orleanian elites are deluded to the extreme if they think they have earned the hegemonic right to shape the future of the city.

Supporters Groups And Sports Culture

I watch a lot of soccer. The game itself is pretty entertaining, but what really intrigues me when I watch a match from Europe or Latin America is what goes on in the stands.

Soccer fans are nuts. One almost never sees this kind of hardcore dedication in the United States (and there is a fine line between dedication and punching a fan from the opposing side in the face). Here's a good example of what I mean:

1. FC Union Berlin is a club with a lot of history. During its years in the East German soccer leagues, it was supported by the local Berlin trade unions. It carried on a bitter rivalry with Dynamo Berlin, which was supported by the Stasi, or the secret police. Union fans, whenever they played Dynamo, would sing thinly veiled anti-Soviet songs in the stands as police with dogs patrolled up and down the aisles.

Skip ahead to 2008. Union Berlin's stadium, the Stadion An der Alten Föresterei (Stadium Near the Old Forester's House), is crumbling. The cinderblock terracing can barely support the weight of the 15,000 or so fans that show up to Union's games. The club decides to renovate the stadium. Rather than pay construction companies money to do the job, the club instead uses approximately 2000 fan volunteers to carry out most of the necessary renovation.

Could you ever imagine something like this happening with an American sports team? It can't be done. And there's a reason for this. In Germany, sports teams are actual clubs that people can join, and in fact many teams require that a person purchase a club membership before he can purchase game tickets. Fans are treated as partners and stakeholders by the clubs because they actually are partners and stakeholders. American sports teams operate differently. Sports executives in America treat sporting events like a commodity to be consumed passively. This is so ingrained in their thinking that in recent years it has resulted in a marketing tactic called "sensory overload," wherein noisy music is pumped into the stadium through the PA system because it literally never occurs to the executives that it is the fans that should be making all of the noise themselves. Spectators in the United States are expected to be passive consumers. If you tried to do the things they do in Europe and Latin America, like hoist banners, light flares, stand or sing songs throughout the entire game, you would probably be kicked out. Take your free bobblehead, maybe buy a t-shirt, get a hotdog, whatever. Just don't do anything unexpected or spontaneous.

Fortunately, there are germs of a better sports culture in the North America. Fans of MLS clubs, for example, tend to imitate their European cousins and stand and sing the entire game, raise banners, and occasionally light flares. Fans of Toronto FC in particular have gained notoriety for their drunken, often ill-advised revelry. But this is all good, in my mind. If the growth of soccer in the United States means introducing soccer traditions such as tifos and ultras, then I am all for the growth of the sport here. It would inject some vitality in our moribund sporting culture.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Movie Review: Kickboxer from Hell

Fun fact about this movie: it's actually two movies in one, with original scenes spliced together with a redub of an old Japanese horror movie. It's actually painfully obvious, but it's probably the most interesting thing about this movie.

So the film starts out with a woman running through the woods, doing her best to convince us that she is frightened but falling far short of the mark. You can only do so much when you're being chased by a bunch of Indian guides wearing shirts made out of potato sacks.

She wanders into a clearing where our two manly heroes are doing manly stuff like punching each other in the middle of the woods.

Soon Chief Shitting Bull (pictured) catches up with her, and he and Manly Man #1 exchange such pleasantries as "fuck" and "asshole." Then they duke it out while this guy watches, much to my delight:

Blah blah blah, Manly Man wins, the other guys step in, but the Chief yells "Stop! Leave him for Lucifer," blah blah...wait, what? What exactly was this lady doing? We soon find out, but not before a long-winded, context-less interlude about some Japanese dumb asses who buy a haunted house (HERE'S A HINT FOLKS: THE PRESENCE OF DEMON LADIES DOES NOT HELP YOUR RESALE VALUE) After we return to Whitey White Land, our damsel in distress drops this bombshell:

She's a nun, working undercover for the devil

A nun, working undercover for the devil.

The Caddo Tribe apparently wanted to sacrifice her. But all that isn't half as stupid and ridiculous as M.M.#1's response:

Blah Blah Blah, the Japanese are still scared, blah blah blah, hey check this guy out:

The bad guy in this movie is Gene Simmons?

And his head henchman is Val Kilmer reprising his role as Iceman from Top Gun. Meh. I've seen worse. Anyway, that's all I need to know. Let's skip to the big finish:

M.M. kills Satan by destroying his magic candles. Makes sense.

Anyway, not the worst flick I've seen. Definitely worth the two bucks I paid for it.

State of the Union

Quick thought about last night's State of the Union speech:

Is anybody else creeped out by these things? I mean, what with the Glorious Leader descending from on high to tell the masses what a great job he's doing to thunderous applause? It's all a very bald-faced propaganda stunt, if you ask me.

Put in this light, one might say "I would expect such an affair from a country like the Soviet Union but not the United States," but that would imply a fundamental misunderstanding of the way our democracy works, specifically, how our democracy operates within very narrow boundaries. The parties themselves, of course, are highly centralized and operate undemocratically. Between elections, it is the party bureaucracy that engages in social decision-making, not the public. Democracy in America (and in most modern democracies) thus amounts to choosing between a government of one or the other tyrannies, similar in this one fundamental respect to Medieval European states that were ruled by elected monarchs. A truly democratic society implies rule by the people, not rule by parties.

A few suggestions come to mind that have their roots in colonial-era democracy. First, give the people the right to instruct their legislators. The people themselves should choose directly the platforms that their delegate to congress will push for. Second, give the people the right to recall their legislators if they find their performance unsatisfactory. Third and perhaps most importantly, invest local legislative power in town meetings. The rationale behind representative democracy is that direct democracy at a national level is too cumbersome; at a local level, this rationale does not hold (and even at a national level, this argument is severely weakened by advances in communications technology). At a local level, therefore, the best form of government is direct democracy. Furthermore, only by interacting with government directly through legislating rather than indirectly through voting do the people acquire a political sophistication necessary to the health of a democracy.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

New Orleans Music

To start off with, here's a huge list of songs about the Saints, headlined by "All I Want For Christmas" by Kermit Ruffins.

This guy is a lot of fun to listen to.

Also, Bust Down:

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


The Saints are in the Superbowl. What.

I screamed loud and hard when this happened (and not even out of jubilation, I just cold screamed my lungs out):

I'll let the rest of the images speak for themselves:

Monday, January 25, 2010

Jorge Castañeda is a Big Fat Cunt: A Well Thought Out and Soberly Editorial

Newspaper editorial pages are rarely worth bothering with, except to glean some schadendfreude from the intolerable levels of stupid that emanate from them.

So it was with great delight that I opened up the editorial page of the Dallas Morning News to read a lengthy editorial from The New Republic entitled "Adios, Monroe Doctrine" by one Jorge Castañeda. In a word, Jorge argues that Obama is actively abandoning the Monroe Doctrine because he is "no longer willing, or perhaps even able, to select who governs from Tegucigalpa, or anywhere else in the region for that matter." There is an element of truth to the latter claim, as the states of Latin America are finally beginning to determine their own destiny without foreign interference, but this is not due to a lack of trying on the part of the United States government. Noam Chomsky explains in a recent edition of In These Times:

"During the past decade, the United States has increased military aid and training of Latin American officers in light infantry tactics to combat 'radical populism'—a concept that, in the Latin American context, sends shivers up the spine...

The U.S. Fourth Fleet, disbanded in 1950, was reactivated in 2008, shortly after Colombia’s invasion of Ecuador, with responsibility for the Caribbean, Central and South America, and the surrounding waters.

Its 'various operations include counter-illicit trafficking, Theater Security Cooperation, military-to-military interaction and bilateral and multinational training,' the official announcement says."

Castañeda considers the fact that the United States did nothing to restore Manuel Zelaya to power in Honduras a "remarkable" and "transformative" moment in US history. In flat defiance of Occam's Razor, he argues that the non-action on behalf of the White House did not signal tacit support for the coup government, but rather a rejection of 200 years of American foreign policy in the region.

Untruths besides this one abound in his article. "Since George H.W. Bush's invasion of Panama, there have been no unilateral military interventions, no coup plots or new embargoes, not even the propping up of decaying regimes." The coups in Venezuela and Haiti over the past decade apparently do not count. Furthermore, only "the left, mainly" would like to see a "unilateral end to the Cuban embargo." This is true only if you consider the majority of the business world to be part of "the left." Hugo Chavez, Jorge tells us, "has already shown a penchant for mischief, particularly within Latin America. So far, he has meddled successfully in the electoral processes of smaller countries -- Bolivia, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Paraguay, El Salvador, Honduras -- and much less successfully in larger nations -- Mexico, Peru, and Columbia." I have no idea what half-truth, if any, this propaganda lie is based on. At any rate, even if it were true, it would be completely inconsequential when compared to the systematic campaign of mass murder that the United States government has visited upon the unlucky nations of Latin America for decades, and to imply, as Jorge does, that the United States has a responsibility to curb such "Venezuelan adventurism" is the height of hypocrisy.

I don't like Chavez. But for the mainstream media to hammer into people's heads, time and again, that he is a dictator rather than the duly elected leader of Venezuela, is disgusting. It is a terrible, malicious lie. For a "liberal" publication such as the New Republic to engage in this violence against the truth is a sign of how quickly and diligently contemporary media is working to erode any tangible sense of reality in the American public. In fact, I question whether or not the media itself has left any tangible sense of reality. For Jorge Castañeda to argue that the Monroe Doctrine is being abandoned while as we speak the US military is occupying Haiti is truly bewildering.

Jorge argues that "unfortunately, this new strategic environment is precarious." We could stand to isolate Chavez with out "benign neglect," but then Chavez might do something that the United States government could simply not tolerate. For example, he might crack down on dissent in Venezuela, and the US government has obviously always been a stalwart defender of free speech across the world. Or even worse, he could interfere in our attempts to starve the Iranian people into submission. This would be, in the eyes of Castañeda, "truly destabilizing." If our policy of "benign neglecty" impugns our ability to dish out benign cruelty, then, according to Castañeda, the United States should "abandon its deliberate passivity."

In closing, note that while Castañeda approves of the United States distancing itself from the Monroe doctrine, he has no moral reason for doing so. In the cost-benefit analysis, this is simply the most effective thing to do, in his estimation. This is how the imperial mentality works. The extreme left end of the spectrum argues that we ought not to crush indigenous peoples when it behooves us. As long as people like Castañeda serve as the far left voices of our public discourse, our democratic values are threatened.

Book Review?

One of the challenges for me when it comes to writing book reviews is the fact that I never actually finish any of the books that I start reading. So since I read books in piecemeal fashion, I figure that gives me license to review them in piecemeal fashion, right? So the way I think this is going to work is I'll just take whatever bits and pieces I've read over the past week and review those.

So one of the books I'm reading is The New Empire: An Interpretation of American Expansion 1860-1898. Pretty interesting stuff. It's about 400 pages long and I've read about 110 pages into it. The early parts of the book are pretty idealistic, that is, it focuses on the ideas that underpin American expansion as opposed to the material conditions that underpin it. I don't know if this is a trend that continues throughout the book, but it permeates the parts of the book that I've read, so that's what I have to go on. It's not really a complaint, but I do want to read more about the material conditions that drove late 19th century American imperialism, having already read a great deal in the book dedicated to "the Intellectual Formulation."

By the way, although "empire" is a controversial term when applied to the United States, the policymakers of the late 19th century did openly refer to their plans as "imperialistic" and the United States as an "empire." So it's controversial, but it shouldn't be. William Henry Seward, Secretary of State during the 1860's, for example, imagined a vast land empire stretching from Canada to Panama, with its capital in Mexico City. Other policymakers were less grandiose with their visions for the new American Empire. It would seem that the prevailing thought at the time was that actually conquering territory, outside of key trading "way stations" such as Puerto Rico and Hawaii, would be an undesirable political burden, and that the planners of this period instead occupied themselves instead with finding markets for surplus American goods. American planners were therefore prepared to accept a tolerable degree of political autonomy within the emerging dependent zones of the American Empire, but were willing to use force when it proved useful. In fact, one of the key policy objectives of the US government at this time was to prop up the Chinese government to a certain degree so that the entire market did not fall into the hands of European competitors.

The chapter entitled "The Intellectual Formulation" is in my mind the best part of the book that I have read thus far, as it lays out the intellectual foundation of American imperialism. There were, of course, the obligatory Christian zealots who considered it the lot of the Anglo world to conquer the heathen world in the name of Christendom, those who considered expansion the only way to avoid such evils as socialism, and those who considered expansion an imperative, justifying it with the "frontier thesis" that held that the American frontier, which acted as a "safety valve" in times of unrest, had become fully populated. LaFeber brings up an excellent point when he says that "On the one hand, [the intellectuals] wanted a new empire to solve domestic problems of crisis proportions. On the other hand, they realized that only a nation which was spiritually, economically, and politically sound could create and maintain such an empire. American history has many paradoxes, but perhaps none is more important - or strange - than this paradox of the 1890's."

That's all I have for now. I really just wanted to get something down tonight before I went to bed. Maybe I'll add something tomorrow (I probably won't).

Blogging Schedule

Here's how my blog is going to pan out in the future, I think:

Monday: talk about books
Tuesday: talk about politics
Wednesday: talk about websites/viral stuff
Thursday: talk about music
Friday: talk about terrible, terrible movies
Saturday: talk about sports
Sunday: talk about random topics

Part of the reason I'm starting a new blog is because I felt constrained by the old one's premise (politics). By keeping to a schedule like this I hope to 1. force myself to embrace a diverse array of topics, and 2. establish a routine that I have been lacking for a while now.

So today's monday, so I guess that means I have to talk about books. Hang on.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Blogging for Nothing

Part of the challenge of writing a blog for me is coming up with new material, since absolutely nothing interesting has ever happened to me. Usually I end up talking about politics, but I have a much wider range than that. I can also talk about sports.


Anyway, two of the things that I've been reading is a book called Moving With the Ball: The Migration of Professional Footballers and another book called Baseball: The Early Years. What strikes me the most is how similar the early histories of baseball and soccer are. They both started out as a nebulous grouping of children's ball games, were first codified when they became the pastime of gentlemen, flourished early on as a club sport for the petit-bourgeoisie before becoming a popular game with mass appeal, and so on and so forth. Where the histories of baseball in the United States and soccer in Europe really begin to diverge is at the formation of the first professional leagues. Soccer in Europe, as you may know, operates on a promotion-relegation system, whereby the best clubs at one level of play are promoted to the next highest level of play after every season, and the worst clubs drop at each level drop down a level. Baseball leagues in America, of course, are closed-circuit, meaning that teams compete at the same level every year regardless of their performance. The reason this is so is because unlike Europe, where the governing bodies of soccer still maintain a fair degree of clout, the governing body of baseball in America, the National Association, was severely weakened and later destroyed by the emergence of the National League and the rise of professionalism. Baseball in America was therefore allowed to evolve along monopolistic lines, whereas competition in European soccer remains comparatively well-regulated.

Up until 1992, for example, the league structure of soccer in England was managed entirely by the governing Football Association. Likewise, the National Association of Baseball Players in the United States regulated all national competition and organized a national championship that was open to any club willing to pay a piddling sum. The traditional narrative goes that the National Association was beset by all kinds of organizational problems (which is true) that the National League managed to circumvent (which is not true). For example, it is frequently argued that the closed-circuit system the National League operated on had the effect of providing greater stability than the National Associations, where teams folding before the end of the season was common. In fact, this was every bit as common an occurrence in the National League. Throughout the opening decade of the National League, the only team to consistently make any money were the Chicago Cubs. It has also been argued that the National League provided a better structure for resolving player disputes. This is also bunk; as the league's founder, William Hulbert broke away from the National Association primarily because he had poached players from other Association ball clubs. The reality is the National Association was destroyed by the ruthless business acumen of Hulbert, owner of the Chicago Cubs and founder of the National League, who was able to successfully play off nonleague teams against one another to his great advantage.

Anyway, that's your baseball history for today. Tomorrow I'll talk a little bit about the first organized baseball club in the United States, the New York Knickerbockers. Or maybe I won't. It's hard to tell.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Political Roundup

Since my family is originally from New Orleans, we've taken something of a keen interest in that city's upcoming mayoral election. My dad, for his part, is furious at Mitch Landrieu for "splitting the white vote," apparently unaware of how astoundingly racist this seems to people not born in the Deep South. Anyway, it turns out, according to the excellent website The Lens, Mitch Landrieu has a commanding lead in the polls in all demographics, including both whites and blacks. Apparently my dad, who believes that white people should play a hegemonic role in determining the future of New Orleans since they're the only people smart enough and responsible enough to make informed decisions, is not only racist, but impervious to reality! Ha! Ha!

Personally, if I could vote in the election, and I admit I don't know a whole hell of a lot about all the candidates, I'd vote for John Georges, since he's pledged to reopen Charity hospital. In case you haven't heard, rather than reopen Charity, which provided free healthcare to citizens of New Orleans before the storm and has since remained closed, LSU is instead going to build a new research hospital in the middle of Mid-City, evicting 200 families from their homes. Criminal, in my mind.

Speaking of criminal and healthcare, the US military has reportedly diverted about a dozen or more planes carrying life-saving medical supplies from France, Brazil, Italy, and Doctors Without Borders from the airport in Port-au-Prince. Several organization have already lodged complaints about the increasing militarization of the relief effort, although at this point it's not really a "relief" effort so much as it is an "occupation."

Media outlets, writes Rebecca Solnit, have not helped the situation by running sensationalized stories about looting. Their "misrepresentation of what goes on in disaster often abets and justifies a second wave of disaster. I’m talking about the treatment of sufferers as criminals, both on the ground and in the news, and the endorsement of a shift of resources from rescue to property patrol." In the real world, she writes, there is usually precious little actual "looting" as such in the wake of natural disasters. "Survivors are almost invariably more altruistic and less attached to their own property, less concerned with the long-term questions of acquisition, status, wealth, and security, than just about anyone not in such situations imagines possible." What is portrayed in the media as larcenous behavior, is generally actually people scavenging for life-saving supplies in an environment where all infrastructure has ceased to exist.

But that's all depressing as hell. I'll try to end this post on a positive note: