resist first think later, turntable wallpaper, conservatives to bring back the confederacy

Want To Resist Temptation? A New Study Suggests Thinking Might Not Always Help You

Uh-oh. Here comes temptation—for a dieter, it’s a sweet treat; an alcoholic, a beer; a married man, an attractive, available woman. How to defeat the impulse to gratify desire and stick to your long-term goals of slimness, sobriety, or fidelity?

Here’s some advice: Don’t stop and think. Thinking may not help.

That is one surprising conclusion of a new study by Loran Nordgren and Eileen Chou at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

Nordgren and Chou wanted to make sense of two contradictory bodies of literature. “One shows that the presence of temptation contorts cognition in ways that promotes impulsive behavior,” says Nordgren. Another shows that “temptation engages protective [thought] processes that promote self-control. You show a dieter a piece of cake, and an early thought is ‘I’m dieting’—and ‘no thanks.’”


If someone is really hungry or horny, or they really crave something, like a cigarette the readiness to rationalize giving in is higher regardless of what the stay the course part of you says. Probably part of the reason dieters, for instance, usually fail, at least the first time around. I tend to think there is something to substitution behavior. Substitute eating celery in place of cookies. Organize your closet instead of smoking. Addictions are tough to break partly because they become such an ingrained part of the way we live. In addition to breaking a habit you’re changing your lifestyle. Lifestyles are comfort zones. We love our comfort zones.

records, albums, music

turntable wallpaper

The weirder implications of Mississippi’s anti-abortion amendment declaring fetuses to be people.

On Nov. 8, Mississippians will vote on a constitutional amendment that would declare, for legal purposes, that a fertilized human egg is an actual person. The primary goal of the amendment, conceived and pushed by pro-life activists, is to bar all abortion in Mississippi, as well as the kinds of birth control that affect fertilized eggs. But the legal implications are much more profound: The amendment, writes the New York Times, “effectively brand[s] abortion and some forms of birth control as murder,” raising the possibility that doctors and even expectant women could be prosecuted for ending pregnancies.


Herman Cain who keeps bringing up Antebellum imagery such as blacks being on the Democratic plantation, supports this kind of legislation. There is some irony in Cain and other conservatives wanting to bring America back to the per-Emancipation era in regards to women. If the government has the last word over personal medical decisions that is de facto ownership of that person. In this case women. Though it affects men as well. Do America’s fathers want the government to make their daughters and wives medical decisions for them. Do brothers want the feds telling their sisters they must carry a rapist’s baby to term. Maybe the entire conservative field of presidential candidates took a wrong turn, they think they’re running for grand ayatollah of Iran.

Kharma is Coming – Kenna

supermath crime fighter, ancient writing instrument, we’re all commies now

Fighting violent gang crime with math

UCLA mathematicians working with the Los Angeles Police Department to analyze crime patterns have designed a mathematical algorithm to identify street gangs involved in unsolved violent crimes. Their research is based on patterns of known criminal activity between gangs, and represents the first scholarly study of gang violence of its kind.

[  ]…In developing their algorithm, the mathematicians analyzed more than 1,000 gang crimes and suspected gang crimes, about half of them unsolved, that occurred over a 10-year period in an East Los Angeles police district known as Hollenbeck, a small area in which there are some 30 gangs and nearly 70 gang rivalries.

[  ]…About 80 percent of the time, the mathematicians could narrow it down to three gang rivalries that were most likely involved in a crime.

“Our algorithm placed the correct gang rivalry within the top three most likely rivalries 80 percent of the time, which is significantly better than chance,” said Martin Short, a UCLA adjunct assistant professor of mathematics and co-author of the study. “That narrows it down quite a bit, and that is when we don’t know anything about the crime victim or perpetrator.”

I’m not sure what to make of the gang crime predictions. It’s not a crime until someone commits it and then you can look at statistical probabilities, but that does not mean you have found the actual perpetrator. Gangs in California are an especially tough crime problem. Even when there is no active crime taking place the community suffers because there is always the implication that those who report gang activity will be retaliated against. This might be a good tool for organizing community resistance to gangs if authorities will provide support in the way of protection. The statistics would help to direct the best use of resources..

The research could also be used in advertising to target those who would be most inclined to buy certain products or services.

The possibility for spotting trends on social networks is a little disconcerting. While it could be used to spot the intention to commit some wrong doing, it could also be used to disrupt legitimate civil protests.

ancient writing instrument

To: sravenwrites/sraven. 1. The photo is private property and thus the rights are not transferable to anyone. 2. It was courteous of you to ask, but I do not have contact information or take comments for several reasons. Taking questions questions about the graphics or the content of this blog is one of those reasons. I would suggest you look through here or here for free stock photos of old typewriters. I used an aging effect in Photoshop on the “writing instrument” photo.


CJR’s take-down of a sloppy bit of economic analysis by the ironically named American Enterprise Institute ( ironic because enterprise and genuine competition is the last thing those crony corporatist are for) –  The Myth of Income Equality, Courtesy of AEI

This post by James Pethokoukis, who recently hopped over to AEI from Reuters, shows how to combine the worst tendencies of Slate (contrarian shtick), Business Insider (misleading, hyped headlines), and think tanks (paid-for spin), and puts it in internet-friendly listicle format:

5 reasons why income inequality is a myth — and Occupy Wall Street is wrong

This, at least the first part of it, is false in a you’ve-got-to-be-kidding-me kind of way, which is the whole point. That kind of headline draws you to read the post, which proceeds to give seemingly sound (but ultimately misleading) evidence for why inequality isn’t growing in order to plants seeds of doubt about whether that whole inequality thing is really a problem.

You’re probably not going to take the time to poke holes in it, so I will. A deeper look at this post shows that the body is nearly as flawed as the headline.

The AEI’s logic goes like this. Every income percentile has had some increase, thus everyone has benefited from trickle-down economics. One of the issues they skip over is the lost of the single breadwinner being able to provide a home, higher education and assorted standard amenities. Women are no longer accessory income winners. For most self-described middle-class households the middle-class dream crashes and burns without the woman working. Not to advocate the good old days that never were, it is simply a fact that most people cannot afford what we think of as middle-class without either being married, a room-mate or a partner. Another issue is how out of whack compensation has become. The top 1% takes in an increase income of 275% compared to the middle percentile’s 40% over the last 30 years. That middle is actually doing somewhat well. It includes professional managers, dentists, your average neighborhood lawyer. Lets not become transfixed on the shiny object – 40%. Let’s ask ourselves what that 1% did or is doing to deserve 235% more. Are they working 235% harder. Are they 235% smarter thus bringing some ginormous intellectual benefits to the table. One claim made that 1% is the nation could not do without them. It is not a coincidence this 1% came along as banks and Wall Street became less and less regulated. yet before this modern era plutocracy came along most the American economy was growing well enough. We had downturns, but nothing on the level of the current recession. So we could do without the 1%. None of them are so brilliant they cannot be replaced by someone just as smart, more ethical and less greedy. By the way, according to the comments at CJR anyone who questions this wage disparity phenomenon is a commie. We can’t possibly be capitalists who see a dangerously steep pyramid. You know you’re dealing with venal ideologues when you speak up for capitalism and decency and they think that is the same thing as Marxism.

 These Arms Of Mine – Otis Redding

cosmic dust holds ingredients for life, winter hues, three of the most dangerous provisions of the patriot act

If you took biology in school you probably heard about the famous Miller-Urey experiments of 1952 in which  in which they simulated atmospheric conditions on early earth. They determined that if the elements found in that atmosphere were put together they would produce organic compounds. The basic building blocks from which life could evolve. Repetitions of the experiment in  2007 found that Miller-Urey actually under counted the amount of complex compounds that would be produced. Nature has been observed to be carrying out its own Miller-Urey experiment in space – Cosmic Dust Contains Organic Matter from Stars

Researchers at the University of Hong Kong observed stars at different evolutionary phases and found that they are able to produce complex organic compounds and eject them into space, filling the regions between stars. The compounds are so complex that their chemical structures resemble the makeup of coal and petroleum, the study’s lead author Sun Kwok, of the University of Hong Kong, said.

Such chemical complexity was thought to arise only from living organisms, but the results of the new study show that these organic compounds can be created in space even when no life forms are present. In fact, such complex organics could be produced naturally by stars, and at an extremely rapid pace.

“What impressed me most is that complex organics are easily formed by stars, they are everywhere in our own galaxy and in other galaxies,” Kwok told in an email interview. “Nature is much more clever than we had imagined.”


[  ]…The scientists also found that the chemical structure of organic star dust is similar to complex organics found in meteorites. Since meteorites originate from space rocks that are remnants of the early solar system, the results of the study suggest that stars could have enriched the early solar system with organic compounds, Kwok said.

“It is quite possible that the organics in meteorites are remnants of star dust in the solar nebula,” he explained. “The star dust [was] ejected by nearby planetary nebula[s] and survived the journey across the galaxy.”

Early in the Earth’s formation history, the planet was pummeled in a shower of meteorites and comets during a period known as the Late Heavy Bombardment. Since the organic compounds in meteorites are similar to what was found in stellar dust, the results of this new study show that the barrage of meteorites that fell to Earth during the Late Heavy Bombardment could have carried organic star dust.


winter snow, twilight

winter hues wallpaper

Every despotic movement has despised objective news reporting – Franklin Center: Right-Wing Funds State News Source

According to Media Transparency, a media watchdog group that was acquired by Media Matters Action Network in 2008, the Bradley Foundation’s clear political agenda and network has allowed it to have extensive influence on public policy. The media group notes that while the Foundation’s “targets range from affirmative action to social security, it has seen its greatest successes in the area of welfare ‘reform’ and attempts to privatize public education through the promotion of school vouchers.” The Bradley Foundation gave the Franklin Center $190,500 last year.


If this sounds like just another far Right echo chamber feeding the usual propaganda to the already converted like Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News or extremist websites like World News Daily, it is not. many of its “reports” are being picked up and relayed to the general public as actual news. The Franklin Center has issued erroneous but well-timed stories, completely lacking any facts, that insinuated corruption against more moderate political candidates in West Virginia and Wisconsin. The FC has also issued utterly bogus polls that showed people did not support bargaining rights in Wisconsin when independent pollsters showed that a majority of state residents did support union bargaining rights. The FC has also been in league with the right-wing ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) pushing the purported virtue of its model legislation – much of which is directed at teachers and other public employees. Certainly people have a right to hold such opinions, but issuing “news” reports that show these public employees in a bad light is not journalism, it is advocacy disguised as journalism. CNN and CBS among other mainstream media outlets have passed on FC “reports” as real news.

Post WW II beer sign and train yard

Ten Years After the Patriot Act, a Look at Three of the Most Dangerous Provisions Affecting Ordinary Americans


Under this provision, the FBI can obtain secret court orders for business records and other “tangible things” so long as the FBI says that the records are sought “for an authorized investigation . . . to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities.”

That provision comes with a bonus. If the person or business feels they have been unfairly singled out they are prohibited by a built-in gag order from telling anyone.


Among the most used — and outright frightening — provisions in the PATRIOT Act are those that enhanced so-called National Security Letters (NSLs). The FBI can issue NSLs itself, without a court order, and demand a variety of records, from phone records to bank account information to Internet activity. As with 215 orders, recipients are gagged from revealing the orders to anyone.

While NSLs existed prior to 2001, they were infrequently used. The PATRIOT Act lowered the standard making it easier for the FBI to use NSLs to obtain the records of innocent people with no direct link to terrorists or spies, and their use skyrocketed. According to the ACLU’s report on PATRIOT Act abuses, there were 8,500 NSLs issued in 2000 but approximately 192,000 issued between 2003-2006. All of these NSL’s led to one terror conviction, and in that case, the NSL wasn’t even needed.


Related to the issuance of these NSL’s was Bush warrantless surveillance program and nationwide paranoia brought in thousands of so-called leads to the FBI, but most of those were time and resource wasters according to the FBI.


Section 213 of the PATRIOT Act normalized “sneak-and-peek” warrants. These allow law enforcement to raid a suspect’s house without notifying the recipient of the seizure for months.  These orders usually don’t authorize the government to actually seize any property — but that won’t stop them from poking around your computers.  Again, sneak-and-peek warrants could be used for any investigation, even if the crime was only a misdemeanor.

From 2006-2009, sneak-and-peek warrants were used a total of 1,755 times. Only fifteen of those cases—a microscopic 0.8%—involved terrorism. The rest were used in cases involving drugs or fraud.

These uses and abuses of the PATRIOT Act against ordinary Americans are only the tip of the iceberg.


It is difficult to pick a favorite abuse of the patriot Act, but the last one is my favorite. Let’s say you’re just a national security geek, or you like reading about spies and terror related stories. You do a lot of searching related to same on the net. You do a lot of e-mail correspondence with acquaintances. The FBI can knock down your door, whether you or your family are there are not and search everything. They can leave without explanation or repairing your door or any other damage to your property. They are also not held responsible for any damage to your reputation or income should it get around to your neighbors or employer.

Fitz and The Tantrums performing “Pickin’ Up The Pieces Of Love”

Fitz and The Tantrums at the iTunes store.

The Incognito Traveller – Chaleur. This video is also a kind of tribute to the black and white films of  Jean-Luc Godard.

bring back glass-steagall, black and white motel vacancy, enslaving women and calling it morality

Who says economists can’t be funny. Robert Reich writes in Obama Should Call For Glass Steagall And A Breakup Of Big Banks

Next week President Obama travels to Wall Street where he’ll demand – in light of the Street’s continuing antics since the bailout, as well as its role in watering-down the Volcker rule – that the Glass-Steagall Act be resurrected and big banks be broken up.

I’m kidding. But it would be a smart move — politically and economically.

Politically smart because Mitt Romney is almost sure to be the Republican nominee, and Romney is the poster child for the pump-and-dump mentality that’s infected the financial industry and continues to jeopardize the American economy.

Romney was CEO of Bain & Company – a private-equity fund that bought up companies, fired employees to save money and boost performance, and then resold the firms at a nice markups.

Romney also epitomizes the pump-and-dump culture of America’s super rich.

Reich  also mentions a trick that Bank of America is trying to pull on the government and ultimately taxpayers,

If you want more evidence, consider the fancy footwork by Bank of America in recent days. Hit by a credit downgrade last month, BofA just moved its riskiest derivatives from its Merrill Lynch unit to a retail subsidiary flush with insured deposits. That unit has a higher credit rating because the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (that is, you and me and other taxpayers) are backing the deposits. Result: BofA improves its bottom line at the expense of American taxpayers.

Wasn’t this supposed to be illegal? Keeping risky assets away from insured deposits had been a key principle of U.S. regulation for decades before the repeal of Glass-Steagall.

urban photography, slate blue,

fresh shine doorbell

   Lab-Made Skin Cells Will Aid Transplantation, Cancer, Drug Discovery Research, Say Penn Scientists

The pigmented cells called melanocytes aren’t just for making freckles and tans. Melanocytes absorb ultraviolet light, protecting the skin from the harmful effects of the sun. They also are the cells that go haywire in melanoma, as well as in more common conditions as vitiligo and albinism.

[  ]…Naturally, researchers would love to study melanocytes in the laboratory. There’s just one problem — melanocytes from adult skin don’t grow very well in the lab. Now, researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania have found a way to create melanocytes from mouse tail cells using embryonic stem cell-like intermediates called inducible pluripotent (iPS) cells.

This research holds promise for treating from tissue transplantation to the discovery of new cancer drugs. It seems to be in the very basic stages. Possible treatment therapies are some ways off in the future. Unlike virus delivered genetic cargo piggyBac treatments like this might be able to treatment without permanently altering the host genome.

photography, moody, urban, contrasts

black and white motel vacancy

The next front in the abortion wars: Birth control – Mississippi debates a “Personhood” initiative that could ban the pill — but ultimately aims at Roe v. Wade

Dr. Freda Bush has a warm, motherly smile. In her office just outside Jackson, Miss., she smiles as she hands me a brochure that calls abortion the genocide of African-Americans, and again, sweetly, as she explains why an abortion ban should not include exceptions for rape or incest victims. The smile turns into a chuckle as she recounts what the daughter of one rape victim told her: “My momma says I’m a blessing. Now, she still don’t care for the guy who raped her! But she’s glad she let me live.”

This sounds like the new folksy version of the rape joke about might as well lay back and enjoy…we can now add …..and by the way enjoy being an incubator for rapists and pedophiles. Dr. Bush has bought into the old plantation philosophy that men should be in control of women’s bodies, all of society ruled by our superiors.. Even the sales pitch is similar, using Jesus as a front man for the worse kind of tyranny.

But Initiative 26, which would change the definition of “person” in the Mississippi state Constitution to “include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the equivalent thereof,” is more than just an absolute ban on abortion and a barely veiled shot at Roe v. Wade — although it is both. By its own logic, the initiative would almost certainly ban common forms of birth control like the IUD and the morning-after pill, call into question the legality of the common birth-control pill, and even open the door to investigating women who have suffered miscarriages.

Welcome to the women’s rights way back machine. American women should do the moral thing and turn over all rights over their person to the state and federal government. They’ll still let you vote, but they might take away your shoes so you don’t wander too far.

BREAKING: The Oakland Police Pretend America is Iraq circa 2003 and Use Rubber Bullets, Flash Grenades, And Smoke Bombs To Evict Occupy Oakland. When it comes time for the OPD to renegotiate their union contract I hope all their supporters are not in jail or hold a grudge. Update: Occupy Oakland: Iraq war veteran in critical condition after police clashesScott Olsen, 24, in hospital with fractured skull and brain swelling after allegedly being hit by a police projectile in Oakland

The Verve – Bitter Sweet Symphony

Researchers find a country’s wealth correlates with its collective knowledge

In the book, the authors show how the total amount of knowledge embedded in a country’s economy can be measured by a factor they call “economic complexity.” From this perspective, the more diverse and specialized jobs a country’s citizens have, the greater the country’s ability to produce complex products that few other countries can produce, making the country more prosperous.

Sounds like a good argument for at least some post secondary education. Sophistication has been lumped in with being a snub or part of the elite. An unfortunate melding of qualities that are quite different. Sophistication can be something like understanding how to build a motorcycle engine or the motivations for creating art, or writing a new software program. Sophistication creates demand for a complex economy that meets the needs of an intellectually curious population.

Based on this analysis, the top three countries with the highest expected growth were China, India, and Thailand. The US was 91st. As the researchers explained, complex economies tend to have few remaining opportunities because they already produce many complex products. Meanwhile, countries with an intermediate level of complexity differ largely in their potential for expanding to make more complex products.

This sounds as though most of the potential for demand of U.S. is our only hope of keeping up with the international Joneses. We still export a lot – especially processed chemicals and farm equipment. Our major export is science and technical expertise. That does not bode well for the blue-collar lower middle-class jobs that formed the backbone of the U.S. economy.

Zoe.LeelA – Destroy She Says (Original Mix) – Lounge, Nu-Jazz

hiring machines and not people, macro blur fall colors wallpaper, let’s find a nut game

More Jobs Predicted for Machines, Not People

A faltering economy explains much of the job shortage in America, but advancing technology has sharply magnified the effect, more so than is generally understood, according to two researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The automation of more and more work once done by humans is the central theme of “Race Against the Machine,” an e-book to be published on Monday.

“Many workers, in short, are losing the race against the machine,” the authors write.

[  ]….But Mr. Brynjolfsson and Mr. McAfee argue that the pace of automation has picked up in recent years because of a combination of technologies including robotics, numerically controlled machines, computerized inventory control, voice recognition and online commerce.

Faster, cheaper computers and increasingly clever software, the authors say, are giving machines capabilities that were once thought to be distinctively human, like understanding speech, translating from one language to another and recognizing patterns. So automation is rapidly moving beyond factories to jobs in call centers, marketing and sales — parts of the services sector, which provides most jobs in the economy.

During the last recession, the authors write, one in 12 people in sales lost their jobs, for example. And the downturn prompted many businesses to look harder at substituting technology for people, if possible. Since the end of the recession in June 2009, they note, corporate spending on equipment and software has increased by 26 percent, while payrolls have been flat.

There are two econmists cited in the article who disagree. The staistics on spending for machines and software, yet flat figures for new hires would seem to indicate a trend.

I think it is the writers at the NYT rather than  Mr. Brynjolfsson and Mr. McAfee who use SIRI as a good example of machines and software replacing people. SIRI cannot recognize the difference between grease and Greece. That is just one example of several I read recently of where SIRI doesn’t get context.

I just recently had to deal with some people at a call center. I sympathize with customer service people. They make around $10 to $12 an hour, half the people they deal with are hateful, ignorant and rude. Polite pateint cutomers make up the other half. The burn-out rate for reps is high. That said the ones I dealt with could have easily solved by problem, but decided to be in one case rude ( she hang up on me) and the other one was polite but useless. Might as well replace them with a machine. Ultimately I blame the corporation – this was a big telecom – they obviously do not empower their employees to solve problems. Rather they use them to insulate the company from being bothered with customer issues.

Back in the 90s centrist Democrats bought into the conservative mantra of free trade agreements. So what, we lost a lot of our manufacturing base. We’ll get everyone a specialized two-year degree or a bachelors and everyone will go into great jobs in technical fields or executive management. That ain’t worked out too well. We could deal with the new software based machine revolution with training for people to make the machines, do the programming and all machines need a repair person eventually. No one wants to pay for that huge shift in the dynamics of the economy. Just one example – Paul Ryan Tells Student To Work Three Jobs Rather Than Take Pell Grants. Pell grants have always been difficult to get and Obama’s new guide lines automatically disqualified over a million students. There are an average of five applications for every new job opening – exactly where are those three jobs going to come from. And does Ryan plan to introduce a bill that extends the length of each day to 48 hours so they you can go to all these jobs , attend class, labs and study. Another problem is that American business no longer believes in training. Somebody somewhere is supposed to do that, not business – from the WSJ today – Why Companies Aren’t Getting The Employees They Need: “The conventional wisdom is that our education system is failing our economy. But our companies deserve a lot of the blame themselves.”

Turn of the 20th Century garment Factory Workers

Semper Fi: Occupy Marines Bringing Reinforcements To Occupy The Nation

What began as the gathering of just a few US Marines has now become a major organized movement to get Marines and military personnell of all branches to Occupy America nationwide. You can thank Marine Sgt. Shamar Thomas for that. His actions last week have inspired service men and women across the country to take a stand for the American people and join the Occupy protests.

Active military can participate in political rallies they just can’t wear their uniforms. I think OWS is looking for ways to designate vets and active military with special t-shirts or badging so they can show OWS supports the military and many in the military are finding common cause. In the right-wing game of find a nut, right-wing bloggers are outraged that one guy at OccupyDayton said shouted some outrageous stuff. Funny how this game works. Most, though not all of the tea stains shouted every kind of expletive and they said the tea bags should not be defined by them. Now the vast majority of OWS protesters are peacefully protesting and the Right is trying to define them by the .0001 percent of the nuts jobs who join in. So I guess we should not judge the far Right by this – Chemical bomb tossed into Occupy Maine encampment.

muted autumn colors, earth tones wallpaper

macro blur fall colors wallpaper

Judge Rules That Alabama Republicans Acted With Racist Intent to Suppress Voter Turnout

A federal judge accused two state Republicans, called by federal prosecutors in a massive Alabama corruption case, of cooperating with the feds because of their “ulterior motives rooted in naked political ambition and pure racial bias.”

State Sen. Scott Beason and former Rep. Benjamin Lewis, U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson wrote, “lack credibility for two reasons.”

“First, their motive for cooperating with F.B.I. investigators was not to clean up corruption but to increase Republican political fortunes by reducing African-American voter turnout. Second, they lack credibility because the record establishes their purposeful, racist intent,” Thompson wrote.

We’re not back to Jim Crow yet, but conservative efforts to disenfranchise so many voters tends toward trying to justify Jim Crow-lite.

Music Training Enhances Children’s Verbal Intelligence

A just-published study from Canada suggests early music education stimulates a child’s brain, leading to improved performance in an entirely different arena – verbal intelligence.

[  ]…The results showed, in Moreno’s words, “a rapid transfer of cognitive benefits” for the music students. Specifically, those who received music training raised their scores the visual-intelligence test.

Yet in the race to cut budgets music and art tend to be the first programs for the chopping block. Children do not do as well without those programs, which reinforces the schools are failing us meme. That makes a lot of public education haters happy, even if kids are made the pawns and victims in the fight or race to the bottom of educational achievement.

Widowspeak – Hard Times


I don’t know what to make of my daily hits going up on the days I post videos. I guess I am mostly surprised that so many people would share my eclectic taste in music.

science and narratives, simple autumn wallpaper, most unctuous black man alive contest

DARPA looking to master propaganda via ‘Narrative Networks’

Sometimes you just don’t know whether to laugh, cry or be alarmed when hearing about what the boys in secretive back rooms are doing in the name of antiterrorism, or homeland security, or whatever else they wish to call it. This time it seems, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the semi-secret agency charged with coming up with new and cool ways to protect the citizens of the United States from foreign bad guys, wants to hire someone to figure out how vulnerable some people are to “narratives” (oral stories, speeches, propaganda, books, etc. that cause people to think) and then, supplant such messages with “better” messages to head off the path that for such people might lead them to becoming a terrorist.

My fear is not so much about the program, but the amount of wasted money on such a program. They’ll have to see inside someone’s mind. The article’s author thinks it will not succeed because historically propaganda programs – well-intentioned or not – fail. The problem in the intervals in which they are successful. Whatever one wants to call it – trickle down economics, voodoo economics or supply side economics – that propaganda has been remarkably successful especially since Reagan and the triangulation of the now disbanded centrist Democratic Leadership Council. A sizable minority of Americans have bought into the idea that the wealthy must be pandered to, the wealthy create jobs and the wealthy should not be taxed in proportion to the benefits they have derived from labor and infrastructure.

fall leaves

simple autumn wallpaper

Why there are no more Joseph Hellers.

In the summer of 1961, when Ernest Hemingway shot Ernest Hemingway and proved that “grace under pressure” was a motto easier to admire than to embody, novelists still were the generals of the culture, an officer’s class of swaggering hero-artists: domineering, prickly, aggressive, and conspicuously male. Their defining subject was organized violence, modern war as experienced from within, and they seemed to agree with Poppa and Stephen Crane that however ignoble war’s ways and means might be, its effect on the person was purifying, finally. It erased the contingencies of class and background, stripped away illusion, chased off folly, and offered one and all the same grim sacraments of terror, pain, and loss.

Then, that fall, Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 appeared, abruptly downgrading war’s special status as an existential crucible and also, unwittingly, beginning the process of rendering four-star male novelists irrelevant. The book treats war on a par with business or politics (to Heller they were very much the same), portraying it as a system for alienating people from their own interests and estranging them from their instincts. Protocol replaces principle, figures plucked from thin air supplant hard facts, and reason becomes rigamarole. Heller’s island airbase of freaked-out aviators oppressed by cuckoo officers is the ding-a-ling civilian world in microcosm, not an infernal, tragic realm apart. The men who can feel aren’t agonized, they’re addled. The ones who can’t feel (and therefore give the orders) are permanently, structurally annoyed. The naked and the dead are here but invisible to the beribboned and the daft.

The lede is a typical Slate attention getter. The realization that war, politics and business all operate on similar planes is a tempting analogy to think about. We don’t get the battlefield shock and immediacy of deaths from politics and business ( with maybe the exception of environmental disasters) the way we do from war zones. The deaths, illness and shorter lifespans are still real enough even if they lack the drama of war.

art study mixed media wallpaper

This story really pissed off some conservatives a few days ago – Is Herman Cain the Most Unctuous Black Man Alive?.

Cain is a clown. You see it in the way he constantly mollifies white audiences with self-effacing, racialized comedy that borders on minstrelsy (referring to himself as “black-walnut ice cream” or suggesting that the Secret Service call him “Cornbread”). You see it in his stunning gaps in knowledge and understanding of foreign policy and domestic affairs. He says if you don’t have a job, don’t blame Wall Street, because it’s your fault, which in a crippling recession with historically high unemployment numbers means he’s either frighteningly blind or offensively ignorant. This is not a man of serious intellect or realistic solutions or admirable character. This is a buffoon.

Yet such is the power of the news cycle some of the very same conservatives are now attacking Cain – Herman Cain’s problems with the Right. At least one aspect of Cain’s view of the world is the relatively insulated life he has led as an adult. He went to a very good college thanks to the sacrifices of is parents. His military experience was cushy and insulated from the kind of life the average enlisted undergoes. Once in the corporate suite only a few people could say no to him. He quickly developed Donald Trump disease.He loves the sound of his own voice and surrounds himself with back slappers. How good can your arguments and assessments be if you never hear or read any substantive challenges to them. If there is someone out there who has confronted Cain, said you’re wrong and here is why, I would love to hear about that experience. While good at math he is terrible at figuring out the repercussions of any public policy that involves abstractions or empathy. Is he the most “Unctuous Black Man Alive”? He does have some competition. On Cain’s most admired list is SCOTUS Justice Clarence Thomas – Herman Cain’s ‘Model’ SCOTUS Justice Is An Ethical Trainwreck, Thinks Child Labor Laws Are Unconstitutional

For the record, we on “the left” do not attack Justice Thomas for any reason other than the fact that he is a terrible judge. His record on the Supreme Court is marred by conflicts of interest and other ethical scandals, and he embraces a discredited understanding of the Constitution that would declare everything from child labor laws to the ban on whites only lunch counters unconstitutional.

One other challenger in the Unctuous Black Man contest would surely include Rep. Allen West(R-Fl). It would be easy to read about West and conclude that he is utterly deranged. Until proven otherwise I’ll go with the conclusion that West has carefully evaluated the world, history, economics and public policy with all his intellectual might and has made the conscious decision to be against every aspect of small r – republicanism and the core values of modern democracies.

There were some articles after Obama’s election about post-racial politics. I read so many of them I at least entertained the possibility. Than comes along Cain and West with black on black racism mixed with some proto-fascism. So much for post racial.

Actress Carole Lombard, ca. 1937. by Eugene Robert Richee. Lombard’s birthday was Oct 6th. She died in a plane crash in 1942. She was said to be ahead of her time, something of a paleo-feminist. She was self-employed, smoked, drink, wore dresses that were considered provocative, lived on her own, posed for some “scandalous” photos, frequently used profanity and told dirty jokes. She was in one of my favorite movies, the original Mr. & Mrs. Smith (1941). While there was frequently humor in Alfred Hitchcock’s movies he only directed one comedy, Mr. & Mrs. Smith.

rap and capitalism, gutter rain wallpaper, enlightenment is not necessarily contagious

This article is from the U.K. so when they refer to the August riots they are referring to the frequently violent riots that occurred there. The sound of capitalism – Hip hop music was blamed for the August riots. But behind the celebration of “bling” is a culture of entrepreneurship.

But for its detractors, this materialism is one of rap’s three deadly sins, along with its violence and misogyny. Casual fans of hip hop often see its materialistic side as something either to be played down or embraced “ironically.” Some commentators judge it more harshly. When the riots broke out across Britain this summer, many saw hip hop’s celebration of materialism as one of the key causes. Paul Routledge, writing in the Mirror, summarised this view when he said, “I blame the pernicious culture of hatred around rap music, which glorifies violence and loathing of authority… [and] exalts trashy materialism.”

Routledge is not entirely wrong. The story of hip hop’s journey into the cultural mainstream is the story of its love affair with materialism, or, more accurately, capitalism. Its lead exponents, like Jay-Z and Kanye West, are brilliant entrepreneurs with vast fortunes (even if their music advocates a profligacy that is anathema to the savvy business operator). Hip hop’s rise has been, at root, a straightforward process of free-market enterprise: an excellent product has been pushed with great skill and new markets opened up with real dynamism and flair.

Unsurprisingly, corporate brands have been keen to get involved. Darren Wright, creative director of the Nike account at advertising agency Wieden+Kennedy explains the appeal: “With hip hop you’re buying more than music. It isn’t a genre—it’s a lifestyle, encompassing fashion, break dancing, the clothes or the jewels you wear… The lifestyle is worth its weight in gold because it’s not just about one rap song, it’s so much more.”


It is very difficult to parse capitalism from materialism. In the U.S. using the word need when one should be using the word want is so ingrained in our vernacular hardly anyone notices anymore, with perhaps the exception of parents of preteen children. I can see the materialism in especially post millennium rap culture. The problem in judging it too harshly is how intertwined it is with not just black, but ethic and inner city empowerment. Rap as part of the rampant greed and materialism is a small slice of the decadence pie. No reason to beam in on the rap industry than it is people such as right-wing sugar daddies like Richard Mellon Scaife, the Koch brothers, the Coors beer family, Robert Rowling, Carl Linder and Jerry Perenchio whose contributions of candidates and funding of extremist right-wing think tanks all promote what has become mainstreamed decadence. This is not to say the Right’s greater corruption and decadence makes rapper decadence OK, only that it is still small in comparison. The richest rappers such as Jay-Z and Kanye West have become involved in philanthropy. West has started his own foundation which directs money toward charitable causes and has appeared in multiple fund rising events for causes ranging from Hurricane Katrina relief to helping young Iraq War veterans who struggle through debt and PTSD. Jay-Z has been involved with disaster relief with the UN and the Red Cross, and clean water shortage issues in Africa.

A Tribe Called Quest – Jazz (We Got The). The Tribe was formed in 1985. Even then rap was both questioning and embracing the entanglement of money with the empowerment that came from being successful. Some lyrics below the video.

Stern firm and young with a laid-back tongue
The aim is to succeed and achieve at 21
Just like Ringling Brothers, I’ll daze and astound
Captivate the mass, cause the prose is profound

Do it for the strong, we do it for the meek
Boom it in your boom it in your boom it in your Jeep
Or your Honda or your Beemer or your Legend or your Benz
The rave of the town to your foes and your friends

So push it, along, trails, we blaze
Don’t deserve the gong, don’t deserve the praise
The tranquility will make ya unball your fist
For we put hip-hop on a brand new twist

Enlightened: Season One

Like its prologue, Enlightened is a bipolar series—oscillating actively between comedy and drama, tranquility and anger, humanism and satire—held together, for every frame of every episode, by the virtuosic rampaging of its star. After the elevator doors finally shut on that frenzied opening sequence, the camera cuts to a lilting montage of Amy snorkeling, laughing, and sitting around a campfire at a luxe rehab center. As we learn over the course of the premiere, Amy’s stint in the treatment facility proves to be a life-changing experience, teaching her meditation skills, imbuing her with a concern for the environment, and filling her suitcase with well-bookmarked, New Age self-help manuals. By the end of the montage, however, Amy’s back home and apparently surprised to learn that, while she was away achieving transcendence, the rest of the world kept going without her, and all the same things that drove her crazy in the first place are waiting patiently to drive her crazy all over again.

I don’t know that Amy Jellicoe’s (Laura Dern) enlightenment is easy to explain, but not that difficult either. She has reached a new level of understanding about herself and the world. That doesn’t mean that the same deep organic demons which haunt her – we all have them – are not in conflict with her inner revelations as much as they are with her exterior world. One of those universal moments that many people can relate is where she ran off copies of all the environmental atrocities she had found on the internet, and thus the social injustices her company has been involved in. She gives the collection to the head of human resources who tells her to stop and throws the collected evidence in the trash. Amy is dumbstruck. How can someone see the evidence of such horrible wrong doing and not only do nothing, but get angry that someone would want to correct these horrific wrongs.

gutter rain wallpaper

Some linkage – Private Wall Street Companies Caused The Financial Crisis — Not Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac Or The Community Reinvestment Act.

Record number of deportations still not enough for anti-immigration zealots The Obama administration kicked out 400,000 people this year, satisfying no one and winning no support for reform

Money is not evil. It just seems that way because people are so frequently willing to compromise core principles to get it. How Low Will AT&T Go?

Rev. R. Henry Martin directs the Shreveport-Bossier Rescue Mission, a Louisiana-based ministry that “reaches out to feed, clothe, shelter and provide healing services to homeless men, women and families with children.” The ministry aided 1,200 people in 2010, served over 135,000 meals and is open to those in need 365 days a year.

This is all noble work, but what the heck does it have to do with the AT&T/T-Mobile merger?

The answer, of course, is absolutely nothing. So why did Rev. Martin feel compelled to write a letter to the FCC urging it to approve the takeover?

According to a Center for Public Integrity report released on Monday, at least two dozen charities that received AT&T bucks have plugged the merger, writing letters urging the FCC to seal the deal. The Shreveport-Bossier Rescue Mission, for one, raked in $50,000 from AT&T earlier this year. Perhaps it was that cash infusion that inspired this heartfelt testimonial:

“It is important that we, as Christians, never stop working on behalf of the underserved and forgotten,” Rev. Martin wrote in a June letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. “It might seem like an out-of-place endorsement, but I am writing today in order to convey our support for the AT&T/T-Mobile merger. … People often call on God to help the outcasts and downtrodden that walk among us. Sometimes, however, it is our responsibility to take matters into their own hands. Please support this merger.”

What a merger that would result in 20,000 lost jobs, jacked-up fees and the destruction of competition in the wireless market has to do with God’s work is anyone’s guess.



Hoobastank – The Reason