green succulent wallpaper, whitman’s birthday, the workers versus the rent seekers

green succulent wallpaper

Born today in May 31,1819: Walt Whitman. An exhibition on his life.

A Noiseless Patient Spider

A NOISELESS, patient spider,
I mark’d, where, on a little promontory, it stood, isolated;
Mark’d how, to explore the vacant, vast surrounding,
It launch’d forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself;
Ever unreeling them—ever tirelessly speeding them.

And you, O my Soul, where you stand,
Surrounded, surrounded, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing,—seeking the spheres, to connect them;
Till the bridge you will need, be form’d—till the ductile anchor hold;
Till the gossamer thread you fling, catch somewhere, O my Soul.

Analysis of this poem are everywhere on the net. They usually stress the human capacity, a near craving in the search for connections or at least a couple of truly meaningful ones. Though there is a sadness, a melancholy, “surrounded, in measureless oceans of space” that is a meditation about the human desire to fill up what can at times seem like the vastness of existence with some kind of contribution – labor, art, companionship, empathy. Others fell the void with delusions of noble violence, war and greed.

button-fly jeans wallpaper. best not worn to rock concerts or beer fests.

Adapted from The Price of Inequality, by Joseph Stiglitz, to be published in June,

The “Rent Seeking” Problem

Here I need to resort to a bit of economic jargon. The word “rent” was originally used, and still is, to describe what someone received for the use of a piece of his land—it’s the return obtained by virtue of ownership, and not because of anything one actually does or produces. This stands in contrast to “wages,” for example, which connotes compensation for the labor that workers provide. The term “rent” was eventually extended to include monopoly profits—the income that one receives simply from the control of a monopoly. In time, the meaning was expanded still further to include the returns on other kinds of ownership claims. If the government gave a company the exclusive right to import a certain amount of a certain good, such as sugar, then the extra return was called a “quota rent.” The acquisition of rights to mine or drill produces a form of rent. So does preferential tax treatment for special interests. In a broad sense, “rent seeking” defines many of the ways by which our current political process helps the rich at the expense of everyone else, including transfers and subsidies from the government, laws that make the marketplace less competitive, laws that allow C.E.O.’s to take a disproportionate share of corporate revenue (though Dodd-Frank has made matters better by requiring a non-binding shareholder vote on compensation at least once every three years), and laws that permit corporations to make profits as they degrade the environment.

The magnitude of “rent seeking” in our economy, while hard to quantify, is clearly enormous. Individuals and corporations that excel at rent seeking are handsomely rewarded. The financial industry, which now largely functions as a market in speculation rather than a tool for promoting true economic productivity, is the rent-seeking sector par excellence. Rent seeking goes beyond speculation. The financial sector also gets rents out of its domination of the means of payment—the exorbitant credit- and debit-card fees and also the less well-known fees charged to merchants and passed on, eventually, to consumers. The money it siphons from poor and middle-class Americans through predatory lending practices can be thought of as rents. In recent years, the financial sector has accounted for some 40 percent of all corporate profits. This does not mean that its social contribution sneaks into the plus column, or comes even close. The crisis showed how it could wreak havoc on the economy. In a rent-seeking economy such as ours has become, private returns and social returns are badly out of whack.

Maybe he does in the book, but I wish that Stiglitz had gone more into how long the U.S. and western Europe (to some extent) can continue this descent into two economies. The worker economy that is making the same thing – adjusted for inflation – it was making thirty years ago, and the top one to ten percent who are making their money through rent seeking. It does not take a majority to continue the trend. Conservatives are a minority in the U.S. Senate and because of parliamentary rules they can and have held up any legislation that addresses deeper financial reform They have even been somewhat successful in blocking implementation of the financial reform we did pass in 2009. Since the rent seekers have more money they can also siphon off funds from the middle and working class by trying to pass an estimated 400 state level bills aimed at passing Jim-Crow-Lite laws aimed at women. The Emancipation Proclamation was passed in 1863. Yet we did not have real emancipation until the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Those opposed to real capitalism, a system that incorporates economic justice, might not take a hundred years, but a half century wait is a real possibility without more progressives in Congress. Stiglitz addresses something that former Labor Secretary Robert Reich has hit on, as that Paul Krugman hints at, that if the 1% mentality about how the economy should run continues, it will take democracy down with it.

In a society in which inequality is widening, fairness is not just about wages and income, or wealth. It’s a far more generalized perception. Do I seem to have a stake in the direction society is going, or not? Do I share in the benefits of collective action, or not? If the answer is a loud “no,” then brace for a decline in motivation whose repercussions will be felt economically and in all aspects of civic life.

For Americans, one key aspect of fairness is opportunity: everyone should have a fair shot at living the American Dream.

May 25th was the anniversary of the Building the Golden Gate Bridge: A Retro Film Featuring Original Archival Footage. Sadly all 68,000 tons steel used to build the bridge was supplied by the now defunct Bethlehem Steel.

Contraception rule is legal

The contraceptive coverage benefit does not substantially burden religious practice but rather preserves the religious liberty of individuals to make personal medical and moral decisions without interference from anyone, including their employers. In addition, it has been well established that the government has a compelling interest in protecting public health and remedying long-standing discrimination by ensuring that women receive contraceptive coverage through their health plans.


corrosive culture of cheating, plutocrats versus true capitalists, a dangerous combination – high risk appetite and low risk intelligence

Lies or lying is unavoidable. For those that try to live an ethical life the act of lying is a daily paradox. Your most cherished relationships, your livelihood and in some circumstances, your life is doomed without the white lie. These lies keep society going. Sometimes they are even virtuous when the choice is between telling a small lie or unleashing an unnecessary cruelty. There are also blatant lies, medium to large lies that are used to shift blame or avoid responsibility. These tend to be corrupting lies. they ripple out in circles of friends, in institutions and business. They could also be called selfish lies. They are also hard for even the most ethical to avoid. They have a direct relationship with money and power. The more of one or the other, usually both, the the larger the quantity and frequency. One of the consequences of mass communication, only amplified by the internet, is the massive explosion of blatant lies. The spotlight of public life makes some people feel they must lie for self preservation. And that is true to a large extent. Though preserving power and large incomes by way of lies is not virtuous. These big lies include a subcategory of lies of magnitude. If you’re a professional comedian large exaggerations are part of what makes something funny and the form itself is understood by a willing audience. The same allowance does not or should not apply to people who exaggerate a cold draft into a spirit from another dimension or claim that certain personal acts that harm no one will result in eternal damnation. We do not hear enough or discuss enough the self lie. People get into the habit of the self lie early. You really do not like that music but most of friends listen to it so you convince yourself it is good. The reverse also occurs. You listen to some country music secretly because none of your friends like it. Children as young four lie to avoid ‘getting into trouble’. Cheating is lying. We all do it. Though if these researchers are right, the phenomenon is so wide spread and goes so deep it is reason to be pessimistic about a world culture whose technological sophistication is moving and already has achieved in many ways, the level of science fiction fantasies. Why We Lie We like to believe that a few bad apples spoil the virtuous bunch. But research shows that everyone cheats a little—right up to the point where they lose their sense of integrity.

But that is not how dishonesty works. Over the past decade or so, my colleagues and I have taken a close look at why people cheat, using a variety of experiments and looking at a panoply of unique data sets—from insurance claims to employment histories to the treatment records of doctors and dentists. What we have found, in a nutshell: Everybody has the capacity to be dishonest, and almost everybody cheats—just by a little. Except for a few outliers at the top and bottom, the behavior of almost everyone is driven by two opposing motivations. On the one hand, we want to benefit from cheating and get as much money and glory as possible; on the other hand, we want to view ourselves as honest, honorable people. Sadly, it is this kind of small-scale mass cheating, not the high-profile cases, that is most corrosive to society.

postman by august sander

two girls by august sander

When Donald Trump, the Koch brothers, Sheldon Adelson and Mitt Romney say they are pro capitalism, that is a lie. They make as much money as they can taking as many short cuts as possible. The way the average person understands capitalism is that making a good product or service is rewarded. Working hard and/or smart is rewarded. Producing some extra value with that work is virtuous. As these interlocking gears of work, service, products, value, competition and demand turn – stake holders, otherwise known as the vast number of workers from which all capital originates, are rewarded. If you believe in this cycle and that if done ethically it is a system that produces more good than harm, you’re a capitalist. if you support the economic visions of Romney, Trump et all, you’re a conservative or a libertarian. You believe in the plutocracy and the supposed virtue of oligopolies and monopolies, in cronyism and institutionalized corruption. Calling real capitalists Marxists is just a lame deflection. How Did Mitt Romney Get So Obscenely Rich? Robert Reich Explains

Is a good article on risk taking and probability good if its scary and gives you reason for hope. What Gamblers and Weather Forecasters Can Teach Us About Risk

Your book presents a rather worrying finding—that doctors have a very low risk intelligence?
Absolutely. In fact, as they get older, they become more confident, but no more accurate, which means their risk intelligence actually declines. One study I looked at showed that when doctors estimated patients had a 90 percent chance of having pneumonia, only about 15 percent had the condition, which is a huge degree of overconfidence. Another way of putting it is that they think they know more than they do. One explanation is that doctors have to make so many different decisions about so many different things they don’t get a chance to build up a good model. Maybe if you have to make life and death decisions, you feel you have to exude confidence otherwise you’d be too damned scared to do anything.

Is the appetite for risk a very different thing from being intelligent about risks?
Yes. They are often confused. Appetite for risk is an emotional thing, while risk intelligence is a cognitive skill. You could have people with both an appetite for high risk and a high risk intelligence or people with low levels of both. A particularly dangerous combination would be high risk appetite and low risk intelligence.

That last combination of personality traits would describe much of the thinking in the world’s biggest banks or financial houses that handle complex trades in exotic investment instruments like CDOs.

blue expressionist wallpaper

Unleash Your Fingers : Next Generation. This is a commercial, but has some impressive special effects.

To celebrate the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S III in France, Samsung has brought back JayFunk to create the anticipated sequel of 2011 Youtube hit “Unleash Your Fingers”. This time, the finger tutting star has some very personal surprises under his sleeve.

Music : Helix by Justice
Special Guest : Jayfunk’s brother Joey Daniels

the consequences of specialization, summer walk wallpaper, paleo-modernism and newton’s centoaph

What the World Needs is More Curious Amateurs

In 1712, nobody would have looked at you funny if your business card read: “Surgeon, Apothecary, Investigator of the Unknown. Also, Shoemaker.”

There are many reasons why, in 2012, that’s no longer the case. Among them, the increasing specialization driven by the rise of the great universities and the classification of disciplines. Specialization has certain obvious benefits – it makes the transfer of knowledge and its application in targeted problem-solving much more efficient. It does for knowledge what Henry Ford did for the automobile, streamlining the production of each component by limiting the number of people involved.

The trouble with hyperspecialization is that the automobile never gets assembled. Experts remain siloed off in their disciplines, speaking in code with their peers, engaging in talmudic debates on the finer points of footnotes to footnotes. Universities have tried to address this problem in recent years with interdisciplinary specializations, but their underlying architecture often inhibits free and open collaboration.

The question is pretty much asked and answered. I’m not sure that it is an institutional consequence as much as a consequence of our business culture ( everything is for sale in terms of goods and services)  that so few people do not learn some basic skills outside their specialty – like how to change a tire, how to cook a fair variety of meals, how to sew a button on a shirt, how to change the oil, how to change your AC filter, how to use a compass, enough survival skills to keep you alive for a few days in extreme cold or heat and a few dozen other things that do not just make one less dependent on the special skills of others, but save money. People say they want a simpler life, but like cutting the national budget when it gets down to specifics they find it difficult to name a technology or modern convenience they would do without. Jonathon Keats is the philosopher who has fixated on the need for curious amateurs. There is a video at the link. He is pretty eccentric, but in that mash-up of big thoughts on modern culture are a few things worth pondering.

summer, country road, green, nature

summer walk wallpaper

Making More Room in Queens for Visiting Fans of Satchmo (Louis Armstrong). His rather small house is a national historic site. It can only handle about ten visitor’s at a time so the City University of New York is going to build a visitors center across the street.

Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong – Summertime


 Newton’s Cenotaph . Before you read the history behind the illustration try to guess what century it was designed.

Newton’s Cenotaph larger.

“Sublime spirit! Vast and profound genius! Divine being! Accept the homage of my weak talents… Oh, Newton!” With these words, French architect and designer Étienne-Louis Boullée (1728–99) dedicated his design for an imaginary cenotaph (empty tomb) in honor of the English physicist Sir Isaac Newton (1642–1727). Like many intellectuals of his day, Boullée was fascinated by Newtonian physics. His design illustrates perfectly the general characteristics of his work and that of the architecture of the end of the 18th century: large simple masses free from any superfluous decoration, and buildings whose forms express their purpose.

Fellow bloggers who wrestle with their writing or conversation skills will find this video encouraging. As a bonus it is also a great example of animation and typographic design. Stephen Fry Kinetic Typography – Language

Since it is a long weekend for many of us, a semi-long read, Jonathan Foltz on The Filming of Modern Life: European Avant-Garde #Film of the 1920s



despotism and respect, spring dogwood blossoms wallpaper, this is what conservative freedom smells like

Star-Spangled Banner via The National Museum of American History

I thought this would make a nice Memorial Day photo sense I will not be blogging tomorrow. The National Museum of American History has a Flickr stream with some more photos of the Star-Spangled Banner. This is the original Banner or Great Garrison Flag that was the garrison flag that flew over Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor during the naval portion of the Battle of Baltimore during the War of 1812. If you ever have the opportunity to visit the museum and see the flag you will not be able to take a personal photograph. Like most natural fibers and paintings the banner is sensitive to light. The accumulation of thousands of flashes from all the visitors would cause a photochemical effect which would contribute to the deterioration of the flag.

H/t for this old video, Despotism (1946 Encyclopedia Britannica educational film)

A community is low on a respect scale if common courtesy is withheld from large groups of people on account of their political attitudes, if people are rude to others because they think their wealth and position gives them that right, or because they don’t like a man’s race or his religion. Equal opportunity for all citizens to develop equal skills is one basis for rating a community on a respect scale.”

Sharing respect means that each shares the respect of all, not because of his wealth or his religion or his color, but because each is a human being and makes his own contribution to the community — from healing its sick to collecting its garbage, from managing its railroads to running its trains.”

Humans have probably been deluding themselves about what they think, feel and believe in since the first grunt. Such is the tradition of modern doublespeak – Fracked and Burned: The Tyranny of the Corporate Tea Party. This is both funny and scary. A little like watching an old episode of The Outer Limits. The Outer Limits introduction is not just a classic in TV tag-line introductions it has become part of media history and popular culture:

There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission. If we wish to make it louder, we will bring up the volume. If we wish to make it softer, we will tune it to a whisper. We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical. We can roll the image, make it flutter. We can change the focus to a soft blur or sharpen it to crystal clarity. For the next hour, sit quietly and we will control all that you see and hear. We repeat: there is nothing wrong with your television set. You are about to participate in a great adventure. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to — The Outer Limits.
Opening narration, The Control Voice, 1960s

The tea stains of  Ohio make that intro seem believable. A certain ideology, mentality and warped world view dominates their self perception:

From a letter to the editor of the Record Courier May 20, 2012, from Tom Zawistowski, Founder, President and Executive Director, Portage County TEA Party:

“In short… conservatives, including those in the TEA Party movement, believe in common sense. That 2+2 always equals 4. That you live within your means. That you are responsible for your life and whether you succeed in life. That the only real rights you have are granted by your God, not by man. That you stay out of your neighbor’s business and that they stay out of yours. That you take care of your family and friends when they need help. That our job is to be productive and government’s job is to stay out of our way. That businesses are good because they produces jobs, economic growth and all tax revenue, and that government’s job is to create a safe, business- friendly environment so that can happen.

“That anyone who does not believe as we do does not understand what made America great, does not believe in the Constitution, and should not be involved in our government.”

No part of the U.S. Constitution establishes the USA as a theocracy. The people of the U.S. have split blood freeing themselves from the tyranny of religious dogma. The Confederacy claimed they had a God given right to own slaves – and the Bible does indeed allow for slavery under certain conditions. America rejected that biblical dogma. While the suffrage movement in the U.S. based many of its claims to voting and assorted other rights on the Bible, the opposition to suffrage claimed their Christian God thought suffrage was evil. ” Stay out of your neighbor’s business”? – sticking their nose into people’s bedroom’s is not enough for conservatives, they want the federal and state government in every uterus in America. If someone ever sees the Yeti or Loch Ness Monster, you will also have seen something as elusive as the conservative straw man of the liberal or progressive who does not believe in individual responsibility. When George W. Bush was spending twenty years as an alcoholic that ran three businesses into the ground and his daddy’s friends bailed him out was that the kind of individual responsibility conservatives would be proud to use as an example. How about all the conservatives who collect checks from Medicare or cannot afford to take care of their relatives without that assistance. Why aren’t millions of conservatives donating their Social Security checks to pay for that $3 trillion debacle in Iraq – that would certainly be a example of talking responsibility. Especially sense they put the war and the rebuilding of Iraq on the national credit card. This is one recent example of what conservative delusions about freedom smell like – Florida Telling Hundreds Of Eligible Citizens That They Are Ineligible To Vote. Florida governor Rick Scott is a literal criminal who has never seen a day in jail.

spring dogwood blossoms wallpaper

black and white hills and fog, visions of wealth, profound finding

black and white hills and fog


“Kurtz discoursed. A voice! a voice! It rang deep to the very last. It
survived his strength to hide in the magnificent folds of eloquence the
barren darkness of his heart. Oh, he struggled! he struggled! The wastes
of his weary brain were haunted by shadowy images now–images of wealth
and fame revolving obsequiously round his unextinguishable gift of noble
and lofty expression. My Intended, my station, my career, my
ideas–these were the subjects for the occasional utterances of elevated
sentiments. The shade of the original Kurtz frequented the bedside of
the hollow sham, whose fate it was to be buried presently in the mould
of primeval earth. But both the diabolic love and the unearthly hate of
the mysteries it had penetrated fought for the possession of that
soul satiated with primitive emotions, avid of lying fame, of sham
distinction, of all the appearances of success and power. – from The Project Gutenberg EBook of Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad. The character Kurtz is in Africa as a colonialist and elephant ivory trader. To a large extent Colonel Kurtz of the movie Apocalypse Now is based on Conrad’s Kurtz.

This is a long read. For those that make the time to read one longer piece a day this might be worth your time. The subject is one that brings out the same vitriol that one usually associates with comment discussions about the assistance of deities or what constitutes being a good parent. It is also a subject to which much myth is attached. Some people just know the answer, while others see the issue in subtler shades. What Makes Countries Rich or Poor?

The various durations of government around the world are linked to the various durations and productivities of farming that was the prerequisite for the rise of governments. For example, Europe began to acquire highly productive agriculture 9,000 years ago and state government by at least 4,000 years ago, but subequatorial Africa acquired less productive agriculture only between 2,000 and 1,800 years ago and state government even more recently. Those historical differences prove to have huge effects on the modern distribution of wealth. Ola Olsson and Douglas Hibbs showed that, on average, nations in which agriculture arose many millennia ago—e.g., European nations—tend to be richer today than nations with a shorter history of agriculture (e.g., subequatorial African nations), and that this factor explains about half of all the modern national variation in wealth. Valerie Bockstette, Areendam Chanda, and Louis Putterman showed further that, if one compares countries that were equally poor fifty years ago (e.g., South Korea and Ghana), the countries with a long history of state government (e.g., South Korea) have on the average been getting rich faster than those with a short history (e.g., Ghana).

An additional factor behind the origin of the good institutions that I discussed above is termed “the reversal of fortune,” and is the subject of Chapter 9 of Why Nations Fail. Among non-European countries colonized by Europeans during the last five hundred years, those that were initially richer and more advanced tend paradoxically to be poorer today. That’s because, in formerly rich countries with dense native populations, such as Peru, Indonesia, and India, Europeans introduced corrupt “extractive” economic institutions, such as forced labor and confiscation of produce, to drain wealth and labor from the natives. (By extractive economic institutions, Acemoglu and Robinson mean practices and policies “designed to extract incomes and wealth from one subset of society [the masses] to benefit a different subset [the governing elite].”)

Those who have done some reading on the subject are familiar with the stable institutions factor. Just looking at the purely in those terms is not simplistic, but certainly an over simplification. Some people have gotten very wealthy without what we think of as stable institutions.

St George and the Dragon. Like a lot of Christian legends St George and the dragon originated in pagan mythology.

How Cooperative Banking Can Improve the Economy (and Our Lives) – “Triodos Bank is perhaps the international leader with offices in the Netherlands, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Spain, and Germany. The bank currently invests in organic food production, renewable energy, fair trade agriculture, micro-financing and cultural programs.” Local credit unions in the U.S.  just broke the $1 trillion mark in assets.

“I sometimes dig for buttered rolls,
Or set limed twigs for crabs;
I sometimes search the grassy knolls
For wheels of Hansom-cabs.
And that’s the way” (he gave a wink)
“By which I get my wealth–
And very gladly will I drink
Your Honour’s noble health.”  – From Through the Looking-Glass, by Charles Dodgson, AKA Lewis Carroll

Key gene found responsible for chronic inflammation, accelerated aging and cancer. “It is rather uncommon for one gene to have two very different and very significant functions that tie together control of aging and inflammation. The two, if not regulated properly, can eventually lead to cancer development. It’s an exciting scientific find.” Having found something so profound what we will do with that key.

Somewhere there is a file cabinet made of coal and ash, in which there is a document signed in blood by Ann Coulter and American Enterprise Institute’s James Pethokoukis. Faust grinned a little more than usual that day.


snow on dead branch, noble things are rare and difficult, kill your inner zombie

snow on dead branch

All noble things are as difficult as they are rare. ~ Spinoza

Is being able to reprogram skin cells to use to repair damaged heart cells, the biological singularity 2.0. There are many ways a heart can be damaged. Smoking is one, just experiencing life is another. Carson McCullers’ novel The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter is a classic example. Hearts have been known to become bitter and hateful. A condition which originates in the mind and spreads – Conservative Lou Dobbs Suggests New Black Panthers Party is Obama’s “Base”. The New Black Panther Party is listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group. They are kindred spirits of Mr. Dobbs. They have all looked inward at the base venal part of themselves, embraced and nurtured it. They have not reached and probably never will reach that moment of epiphany in which they embrace the soul. Sometimes what eats at people starts on the outside and works it’s way in. The smell of urine seems to work that way, Sick of sofa smelling of urine, woman sets it afire — and burns down her building (h/t).  Jill Samantha Wooten, 45 of Fort Myers spared her live in boyfriend the flame treatment, inflicting spits and kicks instead. Conservative Republican Phyllis Schlafly and her organization Eagle Forum says that minority births are ‘Not A Good Thing’ Because They ‘Don’t Share American Values’. If one assumes that blind hatred of people based on ethnicity is an American value. Those of us who are veterans of the intertubes know that when you push the little buttons with letters and numbers, on occasion can be seen and repeated by others – a lesson recently learned by George Tierney of Greenville South Carolina. Tierney’s feelings about women who think for themselves are funny, but they also reveal a disturbing level of hostility. In addition to learning so much about the internet and George Tierney of Greenville South Carolina I also recently learned that stealing, corruption, exploitation, greed, maliciousness, serial lying, cheating, sordid trashy behavior, spinning reality and supreme arrogance are solid conservative patriotic values – so a big thanks to Wall Street – Heist of the century: Wall Street’s role in the financial crisis, Mitt Romney, corporate America and  Eric at CNN. When their parents told them to find something to do and be good at it, those people listened. Maybe some parents should be more specific. Social media  and the Internet allowed young Arab women to play a central role in the Arab Spring uprisings. One hopes this is a tiny step toward modernity for Arabs in the Middle-East. A seed as it were. This old news story not a good example, but is there is some elements of self-determination and I ain’t taking no sh*t modern attitude, 16 January 1905, HAIR-PULLING WOMEN IN FLATBUSH COURT:
In the Flatbush court to-day was aired the quarrel of Mrs. Kate
CAMPBELL and Mrs. Bridget GRAHAM and Mrs. Helen LYNCH, all living at
1223 Atlantic avenue. Mrs. CAMPBELL was the complainant against the
other two women who were under arrest.  She said that on Dec. 28 Mrs.
GRAHAM had pulled her out of her apartment, kicked her and broke out a
tooth and that Mrs. LYNCH had pulled her hair, getting several bunches
of it. – Brooklyn Daily Standard Union.

Back in the day America was all unicorns and white picket fences, ” Last Saturday night, J. K. Tehan, a logging camp hand, drank over fifteen bottles of whiskey in two or three hours time and died.” Oregon,1891.  @TweetsofOld

coal miners, men and boys , circa 1900 USA.

Does anyone know how many boys and men it takes working ten hours a day to create one millionaire coal mine owner. Or how much coal they have to mine. Or how many will die of black lung or other respiratory problems. It is probably very anti-conservative version of capitalism to ponder such trivia.

This first paragraph is an overs simplification of some books that have come out in the last year or so on neuroscience and free will. Both the writer and the one he refers to at the NYT have taken the crest of a subject, done routinely over the centuries by writers and currently a specificity of bloggers, and given it the contrarian smartass treatment. Nothing wrong with that, just calling the phenomenon what it is, The Zombie Within  

The zombie within: the idea that we don’t know what we are doing, or where we are going, when we think we best know, is an old one. (The words I’ve just paraphrased are Emerson’s.)

James Atlas, in a recent New York Times article, is probably on to something when he notices that there has been an explosion recently of what he wittily calls Can’t-Help-Yourself Books. These are books that take as their starting point something like the idea that science now teaches us the “choices we make in day-to-day life are prompted by impulses lodged deep within the nervous system” and that, therefore, in some sense, we are not really the authors of our own actions, responses, choices.

That done we get on with the also slightly worn, though still thoughtful proposition that we do make, what appears to be conscious decisions, and should continue to try and act in our own rational self interests. Further, to immerse ourselves in mastering skills. The last part an interesting place to take the discussion.

Yes, athletes, musicians, drivers and chess players, when they are in the flow, can act fast without needing to make decisions about what to do. But this is not because they aren’t thinking. Nor is it because they are thinking really fast. It’s because they are thinking about what matters, such as the musical ideas or the traffic or the potential vulnerability of the King to attack. Mastery consists precisely in shifting attention from the mechanics of a task to, if you like, the task’s point.

Nothing illustrates this better than the case of language itself. We learn to decline and conjugate so that we can talk. The learner of a second language needs to give painstaking attention to grammatical choices and rules. But conversation — thoughtful participation in the parry and thrust, the give and take — requires that we stop focusing on the grammar and start focusing on what we are doing. What is required is not that we become automata, or forget the grammar; what is required is that we become masters of it.

An animated version of The Scream by Sebastian Cosor. This is one person’s interpretation of Edvard Munch’s painting. A little too dark and literal  an interpretation in my view, but still interesting and skillfully done.

“I was walking along a path with two friends – the sun was setting – suddenly the sky turned blood red – I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence – there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city – my friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety – and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature.”
Edvard Munch, 1893

belgium photochrome, reading is fundamental, moral and economic obligations

Entrance to Port, Ostend, Belgium.

This photochrome print of the port in Ostend is part of “Views of Architecture and Other Sites in Belgium” from the catalog of the Detroit Publishing Company (1905). Ostend was a very popular destination and busy sea port ( still is as far as I know. Even back around 1890-1900, when this photo was taken, Ostend was connected by rail to  Brussels  and to the English port of Dover via ferry. The photo might look a little off for a color photograph. While the colors are amazing in their own unique way the photo was originally a black and white which the Detroit Publishing Company colorized using the Swiss “Photochrom” process.

Over in the great state of Illinois 84 percent of third-graders clear state-mandated reading hurdle. At bare minimum that means they know when an adjective or adverb modifies a noun or verb. Could Mitt Romney pass the same test? Mitt Romney, Very Bad Book Reviewer – “As you might notice from the phrase “even if,” Summers denied that health-care reform affected the pace of the recession. That is, he was claiming the opposite of the position imputed to him by Romney.”

Most of the daily maintenance of the human body’s billions of cellular actions are automatic. Like other mammals we have obtained the biological singularity – the programming in our genes and the proteins they make doing the daily maintenance, leaving us to work, or daydream – some of even manage to multitask – or so we imagine. That is not to say that thin, fat or in between you can forgo making a conscious contribution to your well being. Someday the butter and the lack of exercise will catch up – Flesh and Bones by Tara Ison – “Clavicles, actually. There are two of them, the darlings, the slender twin horizontal bones forming those small knobs at the naked shoulders’ tops…..”

liquid blue glass wallpaper

How Wealthy Americans and Wealthy Corporations Betray Their Country. It is time for a paradigm shift in how we think about who deserves what and how people got theirs’.

Delusion: Technology companies won’t admit that much of their ‘innovation’ is due to public assistance

According to the report Funding a Revolution, government provided almost half of basic research funds into the 1980s. Federal funding still accounted for half of research in the communications industry as late as 1990. Even today, the federal government supports about 60 percent of the research performed at universities.

Apple’s first computer was introduced in the late 1970s. Apple still does most of its product and research development in the United States, with US-educated engineers and computer scientists.

Google’s business is based on the Internet, which started as ARPANET, the Defense Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency computer network from the 1960s. The National Science Foundation funded the Digital Library Initiative research at Stanford University that was adopted as the Google model.

Apple got its tax bill down to 9.8% last year. About 2/3 of its profits remain overseas for tax avoidance purposes. Google, like Apple, avoids taxes by moving most of its foreign profits through Ireland and the Netherlands to Bermuda. Both Apple and Google, along with Microsoft and Cisco, are lobbying for a repatriation tax holiday to allow billions of overseas dollars to come home at a greatly reduced tax rate.

An Apple executive said: “We don’t have an obligation to solve America’s problems.” That may be true, but they do have an obligation to pay the taxes that help America solve its problems.

That little box with the moving pictures and talking heads is great technology that is not living up to its potential, Economies

To Our Galtian Overlords, the real economy is the Great Casino, the rest of it is just inputs into the probability matrix machine. What matters are “markets,” not whether people have jobs or anything to eat. And the rest of the media largely follows this. When the stock market goes up, you can sense the “economy is fine!!!” narrative taking shape. When the stock market drops, worried coverage reappears.

Pearl Jam – Yellow Ledbetter