the anniversary of the publication of “Walden”, not everyone is living high off the hog on tax dollars, the dark side of patriotism

Today is the anniversary (August 9,1854) of the publication of Henry David Thoreau’s “Walden” or, “Life in the Woods”. Apparently there were writer groupies in 1854,

Described by a contemporary as “the apostle of individuality in an age of association and compromise,” author Henry David Thoreau followed his own moral compass and lived a life largely unfettered by convention. In such works as Walden and “Civil Disobedience,” Thoreau encouraged readers to question popular wisdom and to seek universal truths from simple facts. When an admirer wrote from Michigan in 1856 asking for Thoreau’s daguerreotype and enclosing money to defray its cost, the author reluctantly obliged. A visit to Maxham’s Daguerrean Palace yielded this 50-cent portrait, which Thoreau dutifully sent to the requestor along with $1.70 in change.

Posing for a daguerreotype would have been a chore for someone like Thoreau. Daguerreotypes were the first commercially successful photographic process. They did require the subject to set still for a while. In some of the early daguerreotypes subjects did move – sometimes out of and into the frame, producing “ghost” images.

Theo Gosselin Photography ( not safe for work). A few tattoo photos. The first one is a good typographic tattoo.

Welfare spending cut in half since reform

In the 16 years since President Clinton and Congress overhauled the nation’s welfare system, the number of people receiving cash assistance has fallen by two-thirds. And public spending on the program has dropped by more than half.

Conservative lawmakers and policy analysts have celebrated the reform, saying it has helped put people on the road to self-sufficiency rather than government dependence.

But advocates for low-income people contend that Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), which is what welfare turned into in 1996, does not adequately support the poor, particularly in tough economic times.

The cash assistance portion of TANF has fallen to $9.6 billion in 2011, down from $20.4 billion in what were mostly cash benefits in 1996, according to an analysis by CLASP, a low-income advocacy group. The average number of people receiving payments per month is 4.6 million, down from 12.6 million.

Yet conservatives claim that President Obama is the welfare president or has gutted welfare reform. As is usually the case those charges are false. There was never a time in modern human history in which everyone over flowed with virtuous character. Though it has always been true during that modern history the most dangerous political movements have relied on a foundation of falsehoods to promote their agenda.   “Repetition does not transform a lie into a truth.”- Franklin D. Roosevelt.

stone angel

Wade Michael Page and the rise of violent far-right extremism.

Within hours of the shootings, the Southern Poverty Law Centre (SPLC) revealed that Page was a known white supremacist. He had links to networks including the Hammerskin Nation and was involved in an underground music scene often referred to as “white power music” or “hate rock”. Influenced strongly by earlier bands in England such as Skrewdriver, white power music is seen by those who study extremism as one of the most important recruitment tools for the modern far right.

This is an interesting take on the mass murder at the Sikh temple that also notes the rise of far Right groups in parts of Europe, including Norway (Anders Breivik ) and the U.K. In the U.S they, as right-wing groups have the last fifty years, taken to calling themselves “patriot” groups.  The manipulation of language by the Right is an important phenomenon. They regularly use what some people, like myself, think of as good words such as patriotism, capitalism, success, achievement, values, morality and business in ways that have turned those words into right-wing shorthand, coded language that has its own twisted meaning in the world of the far Right. Liberals and progressives might want to ponder the language issue and start reclaiming those words and their virtues. Just as George Bush and Karl Rove used a similar vocabulary to attack their opponents and promote their distinctly plutocratic/paranoid surveillance state agenda, Mitt Romney is also shrouding his agenda in double talk. He is doing a horrible job masking his radical agenda in my view and probably regular readers of this blog think so as well, but many Americans take the same view of Romney they did of Bush. They cannot believe, on reading a detailed analysis of his policies, that someone could be so venal in their idea of how the U.S. should be governed, Romney’s Incredible Extremes: Positions So Radical, They’re Hard to Believe.

Paul Ferdinand Gachet. Etching by V. van Gogh, 1890.

Paul Ferdinand Gachet (1828-1909) was a maverick physician who practiced what later came to be called complementary or alternative medicine. He had a consulting room in Paris to which he commuted from his house in Auvers-sur-Oise outside the city. He was an art lover–an amateur artist, art collector, and a friend of many artists, one of whom was the eccentric Dutchman Vincent Van Gogh (1853-90). Gachet and Van Gogh only knew each other for a couple of months: from May 20, 1890, when Van Gogh arrived to stay in a lodging house in Auvers, to July 27 of the same year, when the painter committed suicide. Van Gogh, suffering from a form of mania, was producing one painting a day at that time. With Gachet’s help, he was able to draw this etched portrait to be printed on Gachet’s printing press, probably after Sunday lunch at Gachet’s house on June 15, 1890. This impression of the print was bought by Henry S. Wellcome from Gachet’s son, Paul-Louis Gachet, in 1927, together with many other items of Gachet personalia. The cat in the bottom margin is the stamp certifying the print’s provenance from Paul-Louis Gachet.

According to Van Heugten and Pabst, pages 79-82, bears date “Mai” by mistake for “Juin”; date written on the plate possibly by Gachet. According to Distel and Stein possibly drawn and etched in May but printed in June.

This is from a PBS documentary abut Andy Warhol. Edie Sedgwick is another issue I have with him. Even though it was on PBS it is probably not safe for work. One of the commenter on the video tries to mark up Sedgewick’s eventual addiction and death to her alone. It was obvious that Edie was a fragile person with an obsessive personality. That does not relieve Warhol of taking some responsibility for using and exploiting her. Then when she was obviously caught up in a self-destructive spiral, he abandoned her as though she was a used up commodity for his “art”,  disposable. They did have clinics and psychiatry back in the sixties. His deeply awful films only received some critical attention because of the allure she brought to them. Edie Sedgwick – A Documentary Film. The film Factory Girl with Sienna Miller – with some dramatic license figured in – is a good take on the Sedgewick -Warhol relationship.