mother-in-laws the rude awakeing, college days, vampires as stand-ins

In-law tensions hit women hardest

Dr Terri Apter, a psychologist and senior tutor at Newnham College, Cambridge University, who carried out the research for her new book What Do You Want From Me?, found that two-thirds of daughters-in-law believed that their husband’s mother frequently exhibited jealous, maternal love towards their sons. The behaviour ranged from that experienced by 26-year-old Jenny from north London, whose mother-in-law began emailing her two months before her wedding with messages saying, ‘What you don’t realise is that my son thinks about me every day, every minute of the day, every second of every minute of the day’, to more common behaviour, such as making demands, being critical or intrusive, sulking and eliciting pity.

A similar proportion of mothers-in-law, however, complained of being excluded and isolated. ‘My daughter-in-law is so cold towards me,’ said 64-year-old Annie from Yorkshire. ‘She begrudges any time or attention my son gives to me and takes every opportunity to minimise the importance and depth of the bond he and I have.’

First year of college someone who had noted my reading habits gave me a used paperback of Earl Thompson’s Garden of Sand. Ever since, my thoughts about over bearing possessive mothers and their feelings about their sons have been at least mildly tinted by Thompson’s dark story. I realize that Garden was the deep end; maybe it was reading it at just turning eighteen combined with entertaining the idea of being a psychologist that inflated its impact. Many of the women in Apter’s survey had something of an epiphany about macho men and their mothers. They realized that they were suddenly in a contest for affection and esteem they hadn’t signed up for.

college days. not mine by the way.

Love Bites: What Sexy Vampires Tell Us About Our Culture

This not the first time vampires in pop culture have been a perfect expression of the currents and anxieties of their time. In fact, one might argue that that is their purpose.

With immortality, a killer instinct, and a life on the fringes, Vampires are a perfect conduit for musings on the human condition.  “Vampires have long served to remind us of the parts of our own psyches that seduce us,” writes Salon’s Laura Miller (in a superb analysis of the “Twilight” books). But the metaphor is often less existential than that, as the vampire bite is easy shorthand for sex. Vampirism allows consumers to take vicarious pleasure in rule-breaking couplings, while also justifying phobias about sex-because the seducers do have lethal fangs, and their condition is quite contagious.

Vampires are about sex and death, the fear of both, but also about romanticizing them – thus the appeal to and reinvention of the vampire for each new generation of teens. These are not things one can discuss in polite company as my grandfather would say – a commonly held view that adds to the forbidden zone cultural mystique and the titillation factor. Vampires and their predilection- straight, gay, and bi make great symbolic stand ins for the real thing. So low and behold a cross section of people from the open minded to modern puritans can take pleasure in seeing prurient behavior rewarded and punished, the pleasures and consequences of non-marital, non-traditional unions played out. Depending on the mental freeze frame and one’s internalizations of what they saw or read, a-Ha, vindicated.

Sarah Seltzer gets into the multiple feminists angles to vampires in pop culture in the full article.

la fille de dracula – the tag line courtesy IMDB, “On her death bed, the old woman reveals to her granddaughter the family curse: they’re all vampires.”


when he reached one thousand spankings, where wild flowers grow, let them eat cake

Boy ‘killed father after 1,000 smacks’

However, according to police records reported by the Arizona Republic, the boy “is believed to have made ledgers and/or communicated in the form of writings about his intentions” if his father and stepmother continued to smack him.

According to the police records, the boy told a Child Protective Services official that “when he reached one thousand spankings . . . that would be his limit. [The boy] kept a tally of his spankings on a piece of paper.”

This is not to say that killing these killings were justified – and I use the word killings rather then the less morally ambiguous murder, because I am not sure that an eight year old is capable of the calculated decision to commit murder. If we take the child’s recordings at face value, at eight years old he has lived just over 2900 days. That would mean be was struck an average of once every 3 days. The frequent “spankings” (with questionable rationale) were intended by the parent(s) not to just inflict pain, but also instill a sense of powerlessness and humiliation. A formula that works pretty well at producing a few unhealthy emotional reactions – for some abused children its depression, the inability to concentrate or constant feelings of anxiety and sometimes hate. Children see their parents as larger then life components of their world –  providers of food, shelter and protection (physical and emotional). It seems he was pushed to the point where he felt betrayed and thought he would be better off without them. Despite all of our knowledge about child behavior and rehabilitation, regardless of what happens to him by way of the criminal justice system, his life is effectively over, society will view him as having the mark of Cain.

where wild flowers grow

Boing Boing’s Holiday Gift Guide part four: Comics, graphic novels and funnybooks includes Jonathan Hennessey and Aaron McConnell’s The United States Constitution: A Graphic Adaptation. An illustrated Constitution with history about vetoes and important court cases and other really really neat stuff. Still, the only people that will buy it are people that already have an appreciation for the subject.

Never leave a dog alone in a room with a steak and never let a libertarian alone with the economy. This is Lew Rockwells latest thoughts on the 3 million auto industry related jobs, The Real Ford Position on Bailouts

…the great entrepreneur Henry Ford said on February 11, 1934: “Let them fail; let everybody fail! I made my fortune when I had nothing to start with, by myself and my own ideas. Let other people do the same thing. If I lose everything in the collapse of our financial structure, I will start in at the beginning and build it up again.”

As tempting as it is to get into the history of Mr. Ford and why he should hardly be a hero to libertarians, let”s move on to a recent post by economist Thomas Palley,

The Big Three and their auto finance associates (such as GMAC) are huge debtors whose liabilities are held throughout the financial system. If they go bankrupt, the insurance industry, which is likely a large holder of these debts may quickly enter a spiral of collapse. Pension funds will also be hit, imposing further costs on corporations and households at a time when they are already financially stressed.

But the greatest damage may come from the credit default swaps (CDS) market that brought down AIG. Huge bets have undoubtedly been placed on the bonds of GM, Ford, Chrysler, and GMAC, and bankruptcy will be a CDS triggering event requiring repayment of these bonds. Moreover, a Big Three bankruptcy will bankrupt other companies, risking a cascade of financial damage as their bonds and equities fall in value and further CDS events are triggered. This is the nightmare outcome that risks replicating the Crash of 1929.

I more then understand wanting punish the executives at the Big 3, AIG and Citigroup. The problem with that is at most they will get smaller McMansions and negotiate smaller greens fees at the country club while a few million Americans and their children head for the food stamp office.

not too tight

the humanity of yeast, cold leaf, patterns in meaningless noise

the earth dies screaming. it was tempting, but i didn’t photoshop this one. pretty terrifying all on its own.

Aging Process In Yeast And Mammals Could Be Due To Similar Gene Mechanisms

Scientists in the US working with yeast and mice found that a gene that is responsible for regulating the activity of the genome is also called upon to repair damaged DNA and the more this happens the less it is able to look after genome integrity which then allows chronically unregulated genes to kick off the aging process in cells.

Humans have a lot in common with yeast….well yeasts have a membrane-bound nucleus and so do human cells. In the grand design of things that commonality would suggest a designer, or most likely evolution, since this part of the post is not science fiction, found a template that worked well enough or conversely did not see fit to start from scratch on the basic constituent of tissue and organs. The yeast protein Sir2 has a doppelganger of sorts in mammals called SIRT1. They both keep the genome in forever young mode by way of gene switches turned on and off. They both are also called on for DNA repair – like when you go to the beach without sun screen or get a dental x-ray. That presents a problem since the SIRT1 is busy with repairs it can’t devote all its time to chromatin maintenance; ill regulated gene activity leads to aging.

cold leaf

Patternicity: Finding Meaningful Patterns in Meaningless Noise

Why do people see faces in nature, interpret window stains as human figures, hear voices in random sounds generated by electronic devices or find conspiracies in the daily news? A proximate cause is the priming effect, in which our brain and senses are prepared to interpret stimuli according to an expected model. UFOlogists see a face on Mars. Religionists see the Virgin Mary on the side of a building. Paranormalists hear dead people speaking to them through a radio receiver. Conspiracy theorists think 9/11 was an inside job by the Bush administration. Is there a deeper ultimate cause for why people believe such weird things? There is. I call it “patternicity,” or the tendency to find meaningful patterns in meaningless noise.

I think I understand the concept of association learning and how some odd emotional wiring can be connected to what someone thinks they see. What I would like to know is why if two people see the same thing, while one of them instantly jumps to a supernatural conclusion, the other insists on not jumping to any conclusions without more substantial proof. Most scientists, philosophers and barflys are skeptical, not just by way of their vocations, but by nature.

work has a deeper purpose?, a little color, an era of clarity

finding the right fit

Secret to workplace happiness? Remember what you love about the job, study urges

The study focused on two groups of long-term health-care workers from two different care facilities in Canada. One group of 24 employees attended a Spirit at Work one-day workshop, followed by eight weekly booster sessions offered at shift changes. The workers were led through a variety of exercises designed to help staff create personal action plans to enhance spirit at work. They were asked to consider concepts like the deeper purpose of their work, being of service, appreciation of themselves and others, sense of community and self-care.

In a way I’m a terrible hypocrite for posting this. I’ve probably skipped out on more motivational work shops then most of this blogs readers have attended. They’re like letting an aspirin dissolve on your tongue or listening to Bill O’Reilly trying to sound smart – I can feel my brain waves nose dive into some semi-alpha state where life loses all meaning. I might be wired in some odd way, “booster sessions” triggering the opposite response they have in most people. Most people come back from them feeling a little more energized and motivated about their work. When asked, I am honest – even if you hate your job, until something better comes along try and take an interest, be as good at it as you possibly can – those work habits or thinking habits, are good one to develop and they carry over to that dream job you might get some day. But pleassseee do not become an obsequious office politician.

a little color

Obama Takes Down Media’s ‘Conventional Wisdom’: ‘The Vision For Change Comes From Me’

Obama said his personnel selections will “combine experience with fresh thinking.” But he underscored that the buck stops with him:

But understand where the vision for change comes from first and foremost. It comes from me. That’s my job — is to provide a vision in terms of where we are going and to make sure that my team is implementing it.

And, Obama: Captains of industry are ‘a little tone deaf’

“I thought maybe they’re a little tone-deaf to what’s happening in America right now,” Obama replied. He added, “This has been a chronic problem, not just for the auto industry. I mean, when people are pulling down hundred million dollar bonuses on Wall Street and taking enormous risks with other people’s money, that indicates a sense that you don’t have any perspective on what’s happening to ordinary Americans.”

From reading these two stories, with a side long glance into my crystal ball, I can see two major things happening. One is that many Americans are going to enjoy and take pride in having a president that speaks with a warmth and clarity unheard these last eight years. Not to mention one that, before he even takes office, stresses the importance of accountability. Though there will be a dark side, many Americans will resent Obama for the same reasons.

“There’s an old saying in Tennessee — I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.” —Bush, Nashville, Tenn., Sept. 17, 2002

“I know the human being and fish can coexist peacefully.” —Bush, Saginaw, Mich., Sept. 29, 2000

“Rarely is the questioned asked: Is our children learning?” —Bush, Florence, S.C., Jan. 11, 2000

“Families is where our nation finds hope, where wings take dream.” —Bush, LaCrosse, Wis., Oct. 18, 2000

bagels versus biscuits, sanctioned abuse and torture, church dome

A Short History of the Bagel

Polish-born and half-Jewish, Balinska, who works at the BBC in London, tells us that the boiled and baked bagel as we know it comes from her homeland. She tells the story of the Krakow bagel, which was a product of the 1683 Battle of Vienna. Although the story is completely speculative and perhaps even fictitious, it is a piece of gastronomic lore that has endured throughout the ages. As the story goes, 17th-century Poland was the breadbasket of Europe, and King Jan Sobieski was the first king not to confirm the decree of 1496 limiting the production of white bread and obwarzanek (bagellike rolls whose name derives from a word meaning “to parboil”) to the Krakow bakers guild. This meant that Jews could finally bake bread within the confines of the city walls.

Growing up I was decidedly in the buttermilk biscuit camp. With real sweet cream butter and maybe a little jam. Then there was the red-eyed gravy dipping from the pool formed on the top of some hot grits, eggs on the side and smoked country ham so salty it put German pretzels to shame. Then a friend from one of those north eastern liberal states introduced me to bagels and cream cheese, or shutter, piled with thin slices of corned beef and Swiss cheese. Probably all part of some commie plot, but it was too late. I now carry two addictions, biscuits and bagels. We all have our burdens.

save your eyes. crica 1940s safety poster.

That Will Be With Me the Rest of My Life

Nations in flux are nations in need. A new president will soon take office, facing hard choices not only about two long-running wars and an ever-deepening economic crisis, but about a government that has long been morally adrift. Torture-as-policy, kidnappings, ghost prisons, domestic surveillance, creeping militarism, illegal war-making, and official lies have been the order of the day. Moments like this call for truth-tellers. For Truth and Reconciliation Commissions. For witnesses willing to come forward. For brave souls ready to expose hidden and forbidden realities to the light of day.

Lawrence B. Wilkerson is such a man. He came to national prominence in October 2005 when — having left his post as chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell earlier in the year — he laid bare some of the secrets of the Bush White House as he had experienced them. He had been inside the halls of power as the invasion and occupation of Iraq took shape. In Bush’s second term, on the outside, he found that he had had enough. The American people, he thought, had a right to know just how their government was really working, and so he offered them this vision of the Bush administration in action: “[S]ome of the most important decisions about U.S. national security — including vital decisions about postwar Iraq — were made by a secretive, little-known cabal. It was made up of a very small group of people led by Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.”

In the years since, Wilkerson, a retired Army colonel, has not been reticent, especially when it came to “the militarization of America’s foreign policy” and the practice of extraordinary rendition (the kidnapping of terror suspects and their deliverance into the hands of regimes ready and willing to torture them).

Nor, earlier this year, did he shy away from testifying before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties about how, in 2004, while still at the State Department, he had compiled “a dossier of classified, sensitive, and open source information” on American interrogation and imprisonment practices at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq that yielded, he said, “overwhelming evidence that my own government had sanctioned abuse and torture.”

“We have damaged our reputation in the world and thus reduced our power,” he told the panel in closing. “We were once seen as the paragon of law; we are now in many corners of the globe the laughing stock of the law.”

Wilkerson has spent most of his adult life in the service of the United States government as a soldier for 31 years, including military service in Vietnam; as a special assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; as the Deputy Director of the U.S. Marine Corps War College; and finally, from 2002 to 2005, as chief of staff to Powell at the State Department. His most vital service to his country, however, has arguably been in the years since.

Sorry about the length, but every small snip I considered would not have included enough context. Some Watergate like public hearings broadcast every day on C-Span would be great, but I’m not holding my breath. I hope I’m wrong about the public inquiries into Bush administration actions from 9-11 onward, but we’re more likely to see small parcels of leaked memos and documents, with some confessionals from low level players with a guilty conscience and another movie from George Clooney.

church dome cloudy day

workers can easily access and peek at their accounts, we need a landfill cotton gin, keeping it clean

Obama’s cell phone hacked, privacy issues murky

The incident highlights how insecure information is and reminds cell phone and Internet users that telecom workers can easily access and peek at their accounts. But it’s unclear how widespread the practice is, and the problem isn’t limited to phone and data transmissions. Two State Department contractors were fired earlier this year after accessing the passport files of Obama and his primary rival (and reportedly his designated Secretary of State) Hillary Clinton. Employees at New-York Presbyterian Hospital were suspended after they tried to flip through former President Bill Clinton’s medical chart after his 2004 bypass surgery, and UCLA Medical Center staff were fired after looking at celebrity records.

“I can’t say this is a massive problem, but it’s probably something that happens all the time and we don’t know much about it,” says Lee Tien, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties group in San Francisco

Tien is right, it is something that frequently happens on some level. Humans are the weakest link the personal privacy chain. People look at, update and audit databases with tons of personal information every day. Sometimes, this is from experience, a medical records clerk or a bank records in house adutor will call over a friend and let them have a look at a millionaire’s file or a celebrity. Its just they don’t get caught and reported to the media.

washed up

Putting a green cap on garbage dumps

Landfill sites produce the greenhouse gases, methane and carbon dioxide, as putrescible waste decays. Growing plants and trees on top of a landfill, a process known as ‘Phytocapping’, could reduce the production and release of these gases, according to Australian scientists writing in a forthcoming issue of International Journal of Environmental Technology and Management.

Remember Eli Whitney and the cotton gin. I’ve always wondered why someone hasn’t invented a sieve-like device/system for retrieving all the metals – copper, nickel, silver, tin, aluminum etc and all the different kinds of plastic and wood from land fills for recycling. Since mining is such a labor and capital intensive endeavor it would seem like, on admittedly casual observation, to be economically viable.

keeping it clean

benefits of following the leader, fast moves, effectuating a vision

the bush legacy

Dictators lay down the law in baboon troupes

It’s rare that an animal garners comparisons to Stalin and Mussolini, but dominant male baboons practice a form of leadership not so different from dictators.

Troupe members follow their leader to a food site even though some get denied a meal, a new study of wild baboons finds.

On a scientific level, the study exposes a flaw in some theoretical models of group behaviour, which conclude that, given equal information, social animals make democratic decisions.

Those baboons that the leader spent the most time with, engaging in mutual grooming, formed an inner circle that were less likely to question or challenge the leaders decisions. Another facet to the study of group behavior. Anthropomorphizing baboon behavior isn’t completely off the table, but humans can conceptualize more abstract scenarios and more subtle choices.

chained – produced in 1934, a torrid shipboard romance. i just liked the art work.

Change Is Landing in Old Hands

But advisers to Mr. Obama say he is not undercutting his vision of change. Instead, they say, he has concluded that those experiences can be marshaled to improve his odds of achieving his own goals.

“He’s not looking for people to give him a vision,” said Mr. Axelrod, who will be a senior White House adviser. “He’s going to put together an administration of people who can effectuate his vision.”

That breezy formulation disregards the received wisdom of Pennsylvania Avenue. For years, Washington insiders have used the phrase “personnel is policy” for the assumption that the prior loyalties and political tastes of a president’s cabinet and White House staff heavily influence what those appointees are eager, or able, to get done.

In the private sector it might be like the change from a very rigid traditionally managed company adopting a Team approach directed by a strong team leader, good at consensus building.

fast moves