lake dwellings, idiocracy is on track, deities and believers tend to reflect each other

lake dwellings

Mega-Media Era Begins: GE-Vivendi Deal Clears Way for Comcast-NBC Merger

It should come as no surprise that Wall Street and Washington are saying this is already a done deal: The media and telecommunications industry is second only to drug companies in how much it spends lobbying Washington. Its army of PR firms, lobbyists and sock-puppet think tanks is already blitzing the press corps and Capitol Hill. It’s readying Comcast CEO Brian Roberts for his close-up as a new media mogul [5] and neglecting to mention the impact of this deal on everyday people.

Comcast has raised cable rates for years while raking in record profits nearly every quarter [6]. It is anti-union [7]. It cares nothing for independent, alternative programming. And if you’re a startup television channel, you can forget about getting a spot in Comcast’s lineup. Comcast will charge you far more for space on its lineup than you could possibly pay. Just ask Al Gore about his failed effort to get his Current TV a reasonable position in the cable lineup.

Let’s not forget that Comcast is the company that was caught illegally blocking [8] peer-to-peer Internet downloads and then lying about it – earning a smack-down from the FCC for breaking Net Neutrality rules. And the company is known for blocking TV ads [9] it didn’t like. The company’s track record of protecting the public’s interest isn’t exactly stellar.

The inevitable march toward an idiocracy. Please stand aside or get trampled by corporate media determined to appeal to the lowest common denominator. Or just a matter of being one’s own editor. Seeking out good journalism. TV has always had crappy entertainment mixed in with some good stuff. It’s the network/cable journalists as public watch dogs or their failure as watch dogs that takes a hit with every merger, as well as our culture.

Henry Tonks 1918 by John Singer Sargent. Tonks was a surgeon, artist and friend of Sargent.

We create our make believe friends in our own image, Study: Believers’ inferences about God’s beliefs are uniquely egocentric

The final study involved functional magnetic resonance imaging to measure the neural activity of test subjects as they reasoned about their own beliefs versus those of God or another person. The data demonstrated that reasoning about God’s beliefs activated many of the same regions that become active when people reasoned about their own beliefs.

The researchers noted that people often set their moral compasses according to what they presume to be God’s standards. “The central feature of a compass, however, is that it points north no matter what direction a person is facing,” they conclude. “This research suggests that, unlike an actual compass, inferences about God’s beliefs may instead point people further in whatever direction they are already facing.”

Imagine getting all the deities that humans have ever believed in, in the same room. Would there be a lot of finger-pointing and accusations of false gods. Maybe they would all sit there quietly thinking each other delusional.

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a small mad men fix, this side of the horizon wallpaper

For those Mad Men addicts that are having withdrawal symptoms, Mad Men: Three Seasons On and Looking Forward. William Bradley looks back and wonders where things might be headed. He covers every character and the major plot points, but this caught my attention,

** Suzanne Farrell is not crazy. Sorry, folks. she’s not. A lot of fans think she is (fill in the blank) psychiatric designator. What she is a forerunner in her own right, a smart, free-spirited, proto-hippie. She’s also very good-looking, a brunette (like Don likes when he is not in Grace Kelly dream mode). Oh, and little Sally absolutely adores her ex-teacher. Hmm …

Rather then Betty finding out about Don’s secret past and developing a semi-relationship with Henry, I thought Farrell ( actress Abigail Spencer) was going to be the pivotal moment, the woman in Don’s life that would cause him to leave Betty. In the first season Don was having an affair with a smart kind of Bohemian- Beatnik  figure. Then in season two in California  it looked for a moment that the kind of hedonistic life style of yet another woman and her family had him at least considering staying. There is something about smart women that are a little  “proto-hippie” that appeals to Don. While Don is an individual character he is also representative of the everyman in The Gray Flannel Suit. Inside the buttoned up suit is a guy that wants to escape. The guys who love the financial success, an image of prestige and the power of being part of the elite, but also feel caged in by it all. Farrell was smart, attractive and embodied the qualities that Don covets. She’s obviously not a saint since she knew she was partner to Don’s infidelity. Though she is not devious or conniving. If she turned out to be the woman who Don really loved rather than the WASP princess he felt he should be with, then she is a forgivable transition figure genuinely blinded by feelings. That and being part of a culture that has a about a 45% divorce rate. Abigail Spencer (the teacher Suzanne Farrell) did an interview about being on the show,

Q: Are there qualities you share with Suzanne?

A: She thinks with her heart, which I feel is a rare thing. She’s a bit odd in that world: Peace, love, all these aspirations, it wasn’t normal then. That is something that we share. I loved her simplicity and warm manner. She reminded me of my mother, who was also a schoolteacher, made her own clothes and was still single in her mid-twenties, like Suzanne. Actually, maybe I share more with the character than I think! Matt is infamous for that.

No hint of course whether she would be back next season.

western united states landscape

this side of the horizon wallpaper

A Lost European Culture, Pulled From Obscurity

Before the glory that was Greece and Rome, even before the first cities of Mesopotamia or temples along the Nile, there lived in the Lower Danube Valley and the Balkan foothills people who were ahead of their time in art, technology and long-distance trade.

For 1,500 years, starting earlier than 5000 B.C., they farmed and built sizable towns, a few with as many as 2,000 dwellings. They mastered large-scale copper smelting, the new technology of the age. Their graves held an impressive array of exquisite headdresses and necklaces and, in one cemetery, the earliest major assemblage of gold artifacts to be found anywhere in the world.

My Western Civilization professor was great, but it was OK there is paleo-history and then bam we’re studying ancient Egyptian history. We skipped over the Sumerians, jumping back briefly to explain who the Assyrians conquered.

Did cancer kill FDR?

How plausible is this research? If Roosevelt indeed had a hemianopsia, it suggests a brain mass, and melanoma would be as likely a cause as any. Brain metastases from melanoma are known to bleed. Melanoma could also explain the abdominal pains and weight loss.

While as Mr. Lerner states a public diagnosis of cancer would have changed history it also highlights how a government that is supposed to be by and for the people, regardless of party keeps so many secrets from us. From a sociological perspective stories like this partly explain how politically oriented conspiracy theories gain traction.