the surreal, the real and people who live in bubbles

I’ve seen a few bad car wrecks as they happened. There was a surreal quality about all of them and especially one where the drunk driver and his friends smashed into a telephone pole ( I did stop to help if anyone was curious). As they happened the surreal quality was how horribly real it all seemed. I felt some of the same surreality, a kind of deja vu as Clint Eastwood debated a chair. While I never confuse an actor that has made a career out of anti-hero tough guy acting roles with reality, it was still strange to watch this man decide to have a debate with an object. A debate that he imagined he could not lose. Yet, even in a debate with a chair, he lost. While I hope I’m that sharp when I’m eighty-two, I hope I do not live in a bubble of disinformation, a rambling version of every jaded, weird, false version of reality spun by Fox News. I hope I do not join forces with people who think pregnancy by “real” rape never happens or that women’s breast milk “cures” homosexuality. I hope I do not think that causing the worse recession since the Great Depression is a wonderful opportunity and excuse to gut the social safety net for eight-two year olds who are not millionaires. I hope that I do not consider regulations that keep toxins out of my drinking water are an infringement on individual rights – and have the gall to quote John Locke while ranting. I hope I do not turn into or join forces with or offer moral foundation for wild eyed ethnocentric freaks. Or start thinking that social-Darwinism is a moral foundation for running an economy. And if I start picking chairs to debate, I hope I have enough sense to pick one I can win the debate with.

Clint Eastwood: Lawyers as President? Not a ‘Good Idea’. 25 U.S. presidents have been lawyers. Romney also has a law degree. Politicians with business degrees automatically make better presidents? George W. Bush had an MBA and ran three businesses into the ground before he went big time and helped crash the entire economy. Paul Ryan voted for every budget busting scheme Bush asked for.

old violin wallpaper


World’s richest woman (she inherited $30.1 billion)  says poor should have less fun, work harder. Not everyone with money, but so many people with money live in an echo chamber of their ego and eventually start to believe the twaddle that bounces around inside their head. There is no one around to challenge them on a moral or intellectual level. Thus they reach the epoch of public pronouncements that would otherwise be the sad rants from the little window in a locked room where only the attendants could hear. She also does not understand the difference between jealousy and envy. The latter is the Louis XVI deflection of the isolated elite. Used as an excuse not to reflect on one’s personal failings.

War Canoe, Vella Lavella

This photograph shows warriors alongside their war canoes on the beach at Vella Lavella, one of the Solomon Islands. The photograph was taken by Edward A. Salisbury (1875-1962), an American explorer, writer, and early producer of travel films who in the 1920s published many accounts of his expeditions to the South Pacific in Asia: The American Magazine of the Orient. Salisbury’s article, “A Napoleon of the Solomons,” which appeared in the September 1922 issue of Asia, was a portrait of Gau, the warrior king of Vella Lavella. Salisbury described the war canoes as “magnificent pieces of workmanship, 35 to 50 feet long, holding from 40 to 100 men, and though without outriggers, seaworthy…. The sides of the canoes were beautifully inlaid with pearl shells in fantastic designs. At both stem and stern were twelve-foot beaks decorated with conch-shells.”

If I ever start keeping a list of the coolest things in the world, War Canoes are going on the list.

A thought provoking essay by Roxane Gay – The Illusion of Safety/The Safety of Illusion

Trigger warnings are, essentially, ratings or protective guidelines for the largely unmoderated Internet. Trigger warnings provide order to the chaos; they are a signal that the content following the warning may be upsetting, may trigger bad memories or reminders of traumatic or sensitive experiences. Trigger warnings allow readers to have a choice—steel yourself and continue reading or protect yourself and look away.

Many feminist communities use trigger warnings, particularly when discussing rape, sexual abuse, and violence. By using these warnings, these communities are saying, “This is a safe space. We will protect you from unexpected reminders of your history.” Members of these communities are given the illusion they can be protected.

There are a great many potential trigger warnings. Over the years, I have seen trigger warnings for eating disorders, poverty, self-injury, bullying, heteronormativity, suicide, sizeism, genocide, slavery, mental illness, explicit fiction, explicit discussions of sexuality, homosexuality, homophobia, addiction, alcoholism, racism, the Holocaust, ableism, and Dan Savage.

Life, apparently, requires a trigger warning.

Makeup porn – Foxy Ladies, Why one network applies so much makeup

Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul does a 1999 Corn Pops Commercial.



plums, heavy patients and physician burnout, america’s nearsighted fortunate sons

This is from a post by someone who maintains a blog about Allen Ginsberg (June 3, 1926 – April 5, 1997) who apparently was friends with William Carlos Williams (September 17, 1883 – March 4, 1963) – Mind, Mouth and Page – 36 (Plums)

AG: The poem I like best to illustrate his (William Carlos Williams’) point, his method, is something that he told me, I think, was simply, literally a note left for his wife (Floss), which, when he reread it in the morning, he picked up (on) and put in the book as another poem. “This is Just to Say” is the title. [Allen reads “This is Just to Say” in its entirety] – “This is just to say” [title] I have eaten/ the plums/ that were in/ the icebox/ and which/ you were probably/ saving/ for breakfast/ Forgive me. they were delicious/ so sweet/and so cold”. I think that’s one of his greatest exemplary poems, because, finally, it’s where life and poetry are identical. There’s no separation out.

And since it is easier to get the narrative rhythm of “This is Just to say”,

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

I post some poetry once in a while yet I would not describe myself as a big poetry person. The poems that I do like tend to be written before 1970 – Frost, Dickinson, Whitman…the kind of stuff that makes so many high school students yawn. In one episode of Californication Hank says something about his daughter quoting a “minor’ Frost poem. There is no such thing. Just as there is no such thing as a minor Williams poem. Aspiring poets read the plums poem or The Red Wheelbarrow and think, I can do that, so simple, so plain. Then it pours out unto paper as someone trying too hard to be simple and unaffected.

bath chairs and pump room circa 1900, england. At one time public baths were a big deal in terms of personal hygiene and supposed health benefits of soaking in the warm mineral waters. There is a Bath, England that was and still is famous for its natural spring baths.

Doctor won’t treat anyone over 200 pounds. The doctor did not come across to me as being malicious and this was not an emergency. The woman who wanted to see the doctor was new patient and the doctor had started a new policy not to see new patients they are severely overweight. One of the reason the doctor started the policy was that handling overweight patients has caused some injuries to her staff. That is not the first time I’ve heard that. Acquaintances who work in hospitals feel a little guilty in confessing that they have come to recent people who are morbidly obese because of back injuries. Doctors are not legally obligated to see and treat new patients. That said I wonder if this could not be carried a little too far. You drink more than one beer a day, sorry I can’t see you until you reduce your daily alcohol intake. You’re not eating enough red meat, come back when you’re not anemic. That doctor and others may subconsciously be fighting what they feel are relentless problems. Health issues they see everyday and people just not listening to medical advice, The Root of Physician Burnout

According to psychologists, signs of burnout include decreased enthusiasm for work, growing cynicism, and a low sense of personal accomplishment. As the name implies, individuals suffering from burnout feel as though a fire that once burned inside them has dwindled, and perhaps even been entirely extinguished. In many cases, they report a sense of having “run out of fuel,” and like my colleague, feel as though they “have nothing left.”

Of nearly 7,300 physicians who participated in the Archives of Internal Medicine’s national survey, 46% reported at least one symptom of burnout, and the overall rate of burnout among physicians was 38%, as opposed to 28% among other US workers. The highest rates of burnout were reported among primary care physicians, including family physicians, general internists and emergency medicine physicians.

WW II work safety poster

In freaky stuff that people want to believe, Why the Gold Standard Is the World’s Worst Economic Idea, in 2 Charts. This is not some wacky libertarian-conservative fringe idea now, it is an official part of the RNC platform for 2012. Ayn Rand and modern conservatives, especially including VP candidate Paul Ryan are not the first to think that all economic issues, all failures on your part to get ahead, to even make a living are part of your moral failings as a human being. This is not to be confused with the general acknowledgement that some people are a little lazy. Paul Ryan and the Great Irish Potato Famine (1845-1852)

John Kelly, author of “The Graves Are Walking: The Great Famine and the Saga of the Irish People”, has posted a fascinating look at VP candidate Paul Ryan’s policy on public welfare by looking back at the Irish Famine.

It started in 1845 and before it was over more than one million men, women, and children would die and another two million would flee the country. Measured in terms of mortality, the Great Irish Potato Famine was the worst disasters in the nineteenth century—it claimed twice as many lives as the American Civil War.

Kelly points out that Ryan claims a direct Irish heritage, yet the VP candidate’s views are diametrically opposed to his own family’s story of survival. Ryan is compared with British who wanted to decimate the poor during famine.

between 1845 and 1850, repeated crop failures reduced the population of Ireland by a third. But crop failure wasn’t what caused the worst of it: a government economic philosophy called “Moralism” and speeches made in Parliament that are almost word-for-word like Ryan’s own speeches about his Republican budget are what made the famine catastrophic, causing needless deaths.

Let’s not let morally deprived ideas die, let’s polish them up and recycle them in order to have repeated disasters. If heads could really spin, Clueless Mitt Romney Cites Businesswoman Who Presided Over Huge Losses And Job Cuts As Model For His Cabinet. Aren’t those perfect free market mechanisms that punish failure supposed to be in play – that anyone has any respect for Meg Whitman’s business record says not.

We do not have a spending problem we have a revenue problem, Add It Up: Taxes Avoided by the Rich Could Pay Off the Deficit

Today’s video is dedicated to Mitt Romney, another fortunate conservative elite son who managed to miss all the fun. Creedence Clearwater Revival – Fortunate Son

CCR – Fortunate Son music video from xousod on Vimeo.

typography of the sermon of buddha, resistance to truth can persist through adulthood, sunset volcano wallpaper

A page from The Life History and Sermon of Buddha.

Life History and Sermon of Buddha Abstracted from Buddhist Scriptures

Seokbosangjeol (Life history and sermons of Buddha abstracted from Buddhist scriptures) was compiled by Prince Suyang, the son of King Sejong and Queen Soheon, in the 29th year of King Sejong’s reign (1447). It was written in Korean prose style, not only to pray for the repose of the prince’s mother, but also to let the common people learn Buddhist doctrines more easily. Its content teaches about Buddha’s life and his main sermons, selected from the Chinese sutras such as the Sutra of the Lotus, the Sutra of Ksitigarbha, the Sutra of Amitbha, and the Sutra of the Medicine. The book was published using the movable metal type called gabinja. The gabinja is considered to be the most outstanding type from the entire history of the Joseon Dynasty. The type used to print Seokbosangjeol is the first type made after the invention of the native Korean alphabet Hangul script. Some pieces of the work are still missing, but it is a very rare and important masterpiece, especially in the research areas of 15th-century linguistics and the history of printing.

I don’t subscribe to Buddhism and I’m not promoting it as a belief system. The printed script, the typography is quite beautiful and the book is important as a historical artifact.

There is an anti-Obama film that, for a documentary is doing well at the box office. It is based on utterly false, though very an imaginative book by conservative fanatic Dinesh D’Souza’. I don’t know why, maybe to give them a chance to convince me they were not kooks I started reading what the D’Souza fan club had to say in the comments at this movie news site. The disconnect from reality is staggering. Those who think you can have and win a debate with people who have such contempt for things like reality, facts, rationalism, common decency – good luck. There is some basic fact checking of the book on which the film is based here, Dinesh D’Souza’s Lies in “About 2016: Obama’s America”. This resistance, in some instances more like an insistence on resisting facts, is not restricting to the U.S. and not just to politics or public policy issues. This is from an article about science and the resistance to new knowledge, but the general issue of accepting new knowledge as opposed to unjustified beliefs starts in childhood and can, given certain circumstances persists through life,

The main source of resistance to scientific ideas concerns what children know prior to their exposure to science. The last several decades of developmental psychology has made it abundantly clear that humans do not start off as  “blank slates.” Rather, even one year-olds possess a rich understanding of both the physical world (a “naïve physics”) and the social world (a “naïve psychology”). Babies know that objects are solid, that they persist over time even when they are out of sight, that they fall to the ground if unsupported, and that they do not move unless acted upon. They also understand that people move autonomously in response to social and physical events, that they act and react in accord with their goals, and that they respond with appropriate emotions to different situations.

These intuitions give children a head start when it comes to understanding and learning about objects and people. But these intuitions also sometimes clash with scientific discoveries about the nature of the world, making certain scientific facts difficult to learn. As Susan Carey once put it, the problem with teaching science to children is “not what the student lacks, but what the student has, namely alternative conceptual frameworks for understanding the phenomena covered by the theories we are trying to teach.”

Children’s belief that unsupported objects fall downwards, for instance, makes it difficult for them to see the world as a sphere — if it were a sphere, the people and things on the other side should fall off. It is not until about eight or nine years of age that children demonstrate a coherent understanding of a spherical Earth, and younger children often distort the scientific understanding in systematic ways. Some deny that people can live all over the Earth’s surface, and, when asked to draw the Earth or model it with clay, some children depict it as a sphere with a flattened top or as a hollow sphere that people live inside.

In some cases, there is such resistance to science education that it never entirely sticks, and foundational biases persist into adulthood.

This frequently heated resistance to justified information, resistance to fact checking to see if one’s assumptions are true and the strong desire to propagate one’s false beliefs as the truth has real world costs. In the U.S. we value the concept of live and let live, to be easy-going is considered a high compliment. It is also part of our culture that we prize qualities that are in something of an opposition to those easy-going attributes, we prize the practical, we prize common sense and plain speaking. The chances of a politician speaking in the flowery language of a 19th century novelist like Henry James being elected to public office are very slim. So is it to be plain speaking or should we just walk away from the nutters, live and let live. Should we be guided by the carefully researched and documented “book learn’n” or should we just go with our “gut” instincts. There is a price to pay for resisting change. Most of us cringe at the idea of testing to see if someone is a witch or not by seeing if they float. Yet if someone does a study on a health care policy and shows us a way to save money and provide better care, many people are not only not going to research why they believe otherwise, they’ll spread lies about the proposed changes because it conflicts with what they believe to be true. False beliefs cost money. As much as some value money, sometimes it seems above all else in American society, one would think they would be guided by cost savings. That is not the case. The false beliefs are so deeply intrenched that we now have paid for science or pseudo-science. Another interesting phenomenon is that presenting new facts with documentation – as some commenters try to do – can actually make the opposition reader entrench even further into their false beliefs. Knowing this is a good reason to have a coping strategy.

sunset volcano wallpaper

Mizoram’s Wild Flower

Chhaidy was born in Theiva, a little-known village of around 150 homes in Saiha, the southern-most district of Mizoram that borders Myanmar. It is the home of Maras, a sub tribe among Mizos who were once feared headhunters.

At the age of four, Chhaidy disappeared in a nearby forest, along with a cousin of the same age, Beirakhu. Beirakhu was found five days later, beside a stream. He was in a disturbed state, but alive. Chhaidy could never be traced. But last month, at age 42, she was rediscovered.

Locals say Chhaidy was taken away by a spirit in the forest.

Long time readers already know I’m fascinated by stories of feral children. many of them, especially from the 19th century and earlier are false or embellished, but some modern ones, like this one seem to be true. It seems possible, just barely that Chhaidy had some contact with an adult – that the villagers think was some kind of spirit, but that adult never spoke to her or gave her any kind of guidance.

On trying to communicate further with her, they learnt the meanings of three other words she’d often use, none of which means the same in any known dialect or language. She refers to water as ‘nam’, anything that flies as ‘jackey’, and soup as ‘appozee’.


robot helps scoundrel study, the dissonance over who gets what and fairness

There have been quite a few studies over the years in discerning exactly what constitutes deceptive behavior. Popular culture, village elders, clergy and parents had their own ideas about someone not being honest for centuries – the shifty eye theory and nervous gestures probably topping the list – it turns out that witches and non-witches do not have different water buoyancy qualities. Though there might be some science to the body language part of the perceptions perpetuated by popular culture, How to Spot a Scoundrel – Certain types of fidgeting give away a person’s trustworthiness

Other volunteers also chatted with Nexi ( a robot) for 10 minutes, but during these conversations Nexi used gestures other than the target movements. As reported in a forthcoming issue of the journal Psychological Science, when Nexi used the target gestures—but not when it made other humanlike movements—the volunteers reported feelings of distrust toward the robot. What’s more, when they played the economic exchange game with Nexi, these volunteers expected to be treated poorly and behaved less cooperatively with the robot.

Interestingly, these results were narrowly focused on trust. That is, even when Nexi’s body language made people skeptical of its motives, the study participants did not necessarily dislike it, according to their subsequent reports of their feelings toward it. This is a familiar human experience: many of us know individuals whom we like well enough but would never, ever trust with our money.

The target gestures that the robot used – and taken from those demonstrated by people engaged in deceptive behavior – included four major cues, hand touching, face touching, crossing arms and leaning away. No one of those gestures gave anyone away. Deceptive people tended to use them in a kind of concert of physical cues. While I hope this hopes others, it is almost useless to me. Except for some very obvious cases i have a very difficult time reading people I have known for a while and than deciding whether they were going to do engage in some behavior that would eventually cause me harm. I wonder if the research subjects would have been so quick to pick up on even the robots cues if they interacted with it regularly. Maybe they would have eventually come to discount the gestures as eccentricities. I also wonder about how how deception plays out. Often times people who have a malevolent agenda sincerely believe they are acting in the best interest of others. And like the Nexi experiment we might tend to be suspicious of such people, but might leave them to work away at their goals without asking them to provide some sound reasoning for doing so.

Via TPM Gawker Posts 950 Pages Of Romney/Bain Documents


chair with roses

Why is Rem Koolhaas the World’s Most Controversial Architect? Age has not tempered the Dutch architect, who at 67 continues to shake up the cultural landscape with his provocative designs. Koolhass has also done some public buildings in the U.S. slide show at link.

The Beijing headquarters of China Central Television – by Koolhaas

We have radio, newspapers, magazines, television, direct mail, smartphones, the internet and some people even still read books, yet many people still live in a bubble of their own reality – In Wis. Swing County, Voters Criticize ‘Handouts’

Knigge has 130 cows on his farm. They depend on the alfalfa he grows — but because of the dry weather, some of his stalks are just 4 inches high; they should be 10 inches taller than that.

Knigge and I got to talking politics. He said he’s leaning Republican. He’s not all that enthusiastic about Romney — but he definitely wants a change.

“I’m not a big fan of how big the government’s gotten or how many people are living off the government now,” he says. “And I understand people have hardships with the economy and everything else, but, to me, it’s — pretty soon, we’ve got to stand on our own feet and get up and get moving and not rely on somebody else helping us with that.

“I mean, America was founded on people getting up and going and making their own living and their own lifestyle. And I’m afraid we’ve gotten too far away from that.”

Knigge does get some help from the government in the form of farm subsidies.

“We’ve been enrolled in the government programs,” he says. “We don’t get a lot of government support, we get some.”

Does he see a contradiction there?
Charlie Knigge is a dairy farmer from Omro, Wis. He talked to NPR at the Winnebago County Fair in Oshkosh. “I’m not a big fan of how big the government’s gotten or how many people are living off the government now,” he says.

No one lives off the government. Programs like Medicare and Social Security are entitlement programs – most Americans are entitled to the benefits because they paid for them out of payroll taxes. People on food assistance. That averages $4 a day. Charlie probably eats that much for breakfast. There is no such thing as a program to live off of. The straight up income assistance requires that people work forty hours a week – the working poor who have children. The money goes to help pay rent and utilities, and no one can collect it for more than five years their entire life time even if they’re homeless and sick. This is a good example of why the liberal media is a myth. So many people are obsessed with someone getting some baloney, bread ad corn flakes they might not deserve yet  a few years ago the retiring president of Exxon walked away with hundreds of millions in his retirement practice. As did a retiring excec from AT&T – as an AT&T customer I can personally swear they do not provide the kind of quality service that justifies that kind of compensation.  Romney has never worked an honest day in his life ( and was guaranteed a profit unless he suddenly went batty. There was no risk taking, no new innovations, no Galt-like invention that changed the world) and Charlie probably knows what I mean by an honest day’s work. Romney and the financiers like him live off the labor, thus the capital that people like Charlies produce. Forget the pennies and nickels some poor kid might be getting, resent the moochers at the top of the pyramid who think callouses is a French word for upholstery. Even in what some analysts call a knowledge based economy – one where people with special skills and knowledge reap the biggest rewards – at no time did that retired AT&T executive or Romney add the kind of value to products, services or even the nations’ economic well being to actually earn that kind of money – a top notch neurosurgeon average about $300 k a year. Think about the people like the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson who are billionaires. They are complaining about – whatever – America is becoming socialist, there are too many regulations, Obama is the anti-Christ. There are multi-milionaires and billionaires making these complaints. Billionaires complaining is like a donut addict complaining they can have all the donuts they want and there is some evil conspiracy to keep them from being buried in donuts, and oh yea I saw someone one day get one donut using food stamps. If the Charlies in America have deep convictions about unfairness, and they should, those convictions and resentments are directed at the wrong people.

Good example of the lights on, but the thinking consciousness has left the body, Red Ink

Three years ago, the American actor Craig T Nelson appeared on a rightwing television show to complain about the size of the US government and discuss his intention to no longer pay taxes. His logic, if it deserves the label, was peculiar: “I’ve been on food stamps, I’ve been on welfare. Did anybody help me out? No.” Food stamps and welfare are government programmes, of course, and his comments were roundly mocked for their obvious dissonance.

Now he belongs to a union that see that he has fair pay and good working conditions.

3D metal printing

how about a goldilocks individuality and regulation movement, rocks and ocean wallpaper, conservatives seem to have confused evil with virtue

Deluded Individualism

By Freud’s account, conscious autonomy is a charade. “We are lived,” as he puts it, and yet we don’t see it as such. Indeed, Freud suggests that to be human is to rebel against that vision — the truth. We tend to see ourselves as self-determining, self-conscious agents in all that we decide and do, and we cling to that image. But why? Why do we resist the truth? Why do we wish — strain, strive, against the grain of reality — to be autonomous individuals, and see ourselves as such?

Perhaps Freud is too cynical regarding conscious autonomy, but he is right to question our presumption to it. He is right to suggest that we typically — wrongly — ignore the extent to which we are determined by unknown forces, and overestimate our self-control.

If we’re going to live our lives and conduct public policy in a way that assumes we’re self directed – generally a good idea – that we should probably be careful about over assuming when our daily experience tells us that there are facets to our lives sh*t happens – that we have no or little control over. One of the examples she uses is from this article about Republicans who use more public assistance than Democrats. Depend is probably a better word than merely use. Despite all the claims to a deeply misguided adherence to individuality, they are not such individualist after all. I know this from experience. They could have more independence, but they fight the very policies that would give them more. They fight against labor rights, they fight against regulation that would make the economy more stable. Fighting for an much independence is a worth while goal. Some people have a horrible concept of just how to achieve the maximum. We tend to have all or none arguments when the solution is more subtle and is not veiled in the fog of delusions about how vulnerable people are.

rocks and ocean wallpaper

A Scorecard For This Summer’s Bank Scandals.

Barclays, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, UBS, Deutsche Bank and more
The Details

In late June, Barclays settled with British and American regulators over charges that it manipulated the Libor, a critical international interest rate set in London each day by a panel of banks. Barclays traders tried to rig the rate (and its Eurozone counterpart, the Euribor) in order to benefit particular trades, schemes clear from emails where traders promised one another bottles of champagne for their help. Also, during the financial crisis, Barclays submitted artificially low rates to make the bank look stable.

[  ]…Citigroup disclosed ongoing investigations in a recent filing. Japanese regulators also sanctioned Citigroup in December as part of their investigation into rate-rigging by Tokyo traders.

Deutsche Bank: In July, the bank said that an internal investigation had identified a “limited number” of staff who were involved in rate manipulations, and cleared all senior management.

Royal Bank of Scotland: RBS says they have fired four employees and maintains that the wrongdoing is confined to a “handful” of individuals.

Credit Suisse, HSBC, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, and a few other international banks have also acknowledged they are part of the Libor probe.

I read yet another anti-regulation post here at WordPress just a few days ago. As pleasant in tone as the opinion was it still reeked of ignorance wrapped in a dangerous ideology. Just leave business alone and the market through its magical powers will sort things out. That anti-regulation ideology is of the libertarian-conservative school of thought. Those same groups would – as they frequently do – describe themselves as hardheaded realists. Yet there has never been a country where business has been left to regulate itself and produced outcomes that make for a stable nation. That is one of the reasons have reason to admire the insights of Adam Smith and have so little regard for the kooky notions of Ludwig von Mises and Ayn Rand, the latter who had a peaceful death while collecting entitlements from the nanny state. No one should want too much or too little regulation, there are downsides to both. I wish I could think of a better term, but for now, let’s say that business and government should seek Goldilocks levels of regulation. That might not get people fired up, pissed off, yelling at rallies, typing all caps in web forums, but it is a rational goal, one borne out by history and research to be a worthy one.

last days of summer wallpaper

It is easy to find an example of government gone a little overboard – especially in the U.S. when it comes to the drug war and the national security state. It is as easy, if not more so to find the wonders of the corporate mentality at work. This happened in France, but the McDonald’s there act under the same corporate umbrella as the domestic ones, Physical assault by McDonald’s in France for wearing Digital Eye Glass

Subsequently another person within McDonald’s physically assaulted me, while I was in McDonald’s, eating my McDonald’s Ranch Wrap that I had just purchased at this McDonald’s. He angrily grabbed my eyeglass, and tried to pull it off my head. The eyeglass is permanently attached and does not come off my skull without special tools.

McDonald’s corporate has said they have interviewed the employees – judging from the pictures one of them management – and what do you know they claim they did not assault this man. Despite pictures showing they did. Apparently Mickey Ds has a record of being paranoid about people photographing their menus. Banks and LIBOR, and McDs. That is just today. How can anyone read the news regularly and get from pondering that admitted daily flood of data overflow, that government has a monopoly on crazy.

Huckabee to Akin: ‘Horrible’ rapes created some extraordinary people

The former Arkansas governor and onetime GOP presidential contender suggested a couple of cases in which he suggested that rapes, though “horrible tragedies,” had produced admirable human beings.

“Ethel Waters, for example, was the result of a forcible rape,” Huckabee said of the late American gospel singer. One-time presidential candidate Huckabee added: “I used to work for James Robison back in the 1970s, he leads a large Christian organization. He, himself, was the result of a forcible rape. And so I know it happens, and yet even from those horrible, horrible tragedies of rape, which are inexcusable and indefensible, life has come and sometimes, you know, those people are able to do extraordinary things.”

Huckabee left the seminary in 1976 to become director of communications for the fiery televangelist Robison, who once declared he was “sick and tired of hearing about all of the radicals and the perverts and the liberals and the leftists and the communists coming out of the closet.” Robison called on “God’s people to come out of the closet” and re-take control of America.

Following the iron clad logic at work: we should have more sneak attacks on Pearl Harbor since we rebuilt it with a better facility. We should drop more atomic bombs because the Japanese did such a great jobs of rebuilding Nagasaki. We should have more hurricanes in Florida’s Dade county because they built some wonderful homes to replace the ones that were flattened by Hurricane Andrew. The Twin Towers were architectural tombs, monstrosities of design, so maybe we should have more 9-11s to have better architecture. Huckabee and his conservative comrades are taking the lemons into lemonade, think positively, look on the bright side mentality to grotesque extremes.

Some recent related science news, Scientists find another reason to mistrust the rhythm method of birth control.

If you’re trying to avoid getting pregnant, here’s another reason to mistrust the rhythm method of birth control: New research confirms that the fluid in semen, long dismissed as primarily a vehicle for sperm, contains a substance that can trigger ovulation and other pregnancy-supporting hormonal responses in female mammals. The find could lead to new fertility treatments in humans.

[  ]…NGF (neural growth factor and ovulation-inducing factor) was discovered in bull semen in the early 1980s, Adams says, but “it was one of those dangling facts that no one knew what to do with.” Now, he says, “we can connect the dots.” He and his team found the same molecule in abundance in the semen of every species they’ve studied—including humans.


bacchante by marie laurencin, censors and reactions

Bacchante by Marie Laurencin, 1911. Oil on canvas pasted on cardboard. Laurencin’s mother sent her to a Sèvres where she was taught with porcelain painting. She later became part of the circle of artists around Picasso. You can see the flat angular influence of Cubism( though there is some Romanesque influence as well), but she was never really a Cubist painter in the way Picasso and Georges Braque were. After 1912 there is not much Cubists influence at all. She rejected art theory to paint in her own style. Not earth shattering in originality, but her work maintained much of Laurencin’s own personality rather than adherence to successive waves of art theory that swept through Europe. For better or worse she did stay with the soft pastel look of this painting through her painting career. She also did some illustration work for books:

Alice in Wonderland; illustrated with six colored lithographs by Marie Laurencin. Paris: Black Sun Press, 1930. This French edition of Alice was published by  by Harry and Caresse Crosby who started Black Sun Press. While most illustrations in every edition of Alice had some inflection of the darker meanings in the book, Laurencin stayed with what she liked. I tend to think this is one case in which her instincts did not result in the best illustrations in the context of the material, though on their own one can see where children would find them appealing.

One more note on the painting. Bacchante are part of the Roman mythology of gods. Way back in the days of the early Roman Empire they were believed to be wild or slightly mad followers of the god Bacchus. Over the years the myths became a little diluted for popular culture, with Bacchante coming to mean women who were free spirits.

In other tales of the imagination, Paul Ryan On Foreign Policy Credentials: ‘I Voted To Send People To War’

Ryan cited his votes in favor of the Iraq War as evidence that he has had more foreign policy experience than Obama.

“I’ve been in Congress for a number of years,” he told Cameron. “That’s more experience than Barack Obama had when he came into office.”

“I voted to send people to war,” he added.

Hell yes Paul Ryan owns the fact he sent people off to die for a lie – as I guess our current SOS and VP did also. I guess he doesn’t read much news, Obama been prez for three years which counts for real experience and has taken down a laundry list of terrorists and terrorist leaders. Ryan has been courageous enough to fight to end medical procedures that would have prevented the birth of some of Romney’s grand children.

Two articles from the same newspaper on censorship, Free-Speech Hypocrisy in Europe

There are few people in the world who have sacrificed more for the principle of free speech than the staff of Jyllands Posten, the most popular newspaper in Denmark. Since the paper published 12 cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad on Sept. 30, 2005—sparking riots [1] in Muslim countries, violent attacks on Danish embassies around the globe, and a worldwide debate about the extent of the West’s commitment to free speech—the Copenhagen bureau has been under constant threat. The downtown office is protected by a giant steel security gate strong enough to block an oncoming truck—a strange sight in a city where nobody seems to lock their doors.

Hard to believe that people have died in riots because of a cartoon. Make fun of my invisible friend in the sky I’ll show you. Another article from the same newspaper, Haredi Women’s Lit Explodes

Libi Astaire, who has written three mystery novels, faces a set of challenges quite unlike any other writer in her genre. Here are her ground rules: 1. No murders or gratuitous violence. 2. No unredeemable characters. 3. No inappropriate language or sexual immortality. Of course, she doesn’t write for the same audience that reads Laura Lippman or John Grisham. Astaire writes mysteries for Haredi women.

“Can this be good literature?” she asked during a recent interview. “I personally think so. Because I can’t rely upon sex and violence to sell my books, I have to do old-fashioned things like create vivid characters, insert humor, recreate historical periods in a convincing way.”

Astaire, 57, who has been called (by herself, and also by others) “a Jewish Jane Austen,” is a prominent contributor to the Haredi literary scene. She grew up in Prairie Village, Kan., and now lives in Jerusalem. She is also a frequent contributor to Mishpacha, one of a slew of ultra-Orthodox publications that has found an ever-growing readership over the past 15 or 20 years.

I’m not suggesting the newspaper is being hypocritical. That is a newspaper’s job in terms of editorial content, to present different points of view. Though this second feature, taking the route of respect for cultural traditions, praising someone for writing that goes out of its way to avoid language and topics that might offend based on religious doctrine. Censorship is good because it is respectful, censorship is bad because it limits free speech. Haredi is a very conservative Orthodox form of Judaism. Women are still not taught the Talmud as boys are. Though the women of Haredi are also a little more educated about the world as a result since they are free to study more artistic aspects of culture and writing.

And one more censorship story in the news, 11-year-old girl arrested in Pakistan on charges of blasphemy

An 11-year-old Christian girl has been arrested in Pakistani capital on a charge of blasphemy after she was accused of burning pages of the Quran, police said on Saturday.

Officials of Ramna police station said an FIR had been registered against Rimsha Masih, a resident of Umara Jaffar in sector G-12 in Islamabad.

The girl was arrested on Friday by personnel from a women’s police station after a man named Syed Muhammad Ummad filed a complaint against her.

However, an NGO named ‘Christians in Pakistan’ reported on its website that the girl has ‘Down Syndrome’ and had been falsely accused of burning 10 pages of the Quran.

The NGO said other Christians living in sector G-12 had been “threatened by extremists” who wanted to burn down their village on Friday.

Kind of explains itself, absurdity, threats, violence and all. Burn a book and go to prison or die or have your whole village burned down. Its a mistake to burn books, not that a disabled child would understand that. Even if she did, the thin skinned morons who take offense can always have more books printed.

“Don’t join the book burners. Don’t think you’re going to conceal faults by concealing evidence that they ever existed. Don’t be afraid to go in your library and read every book…”
– Dwight D. Eisenhower

the old nationalism is new again, the first mobile phone, the corporate nanny state,

There is that saying that the more things change the more they stay the same,

“At many stages in the advance of humanity, this conflict between the men who possess more than they have earned and the men who have earned more than they possess is the central condition of progress. In our day it appears as the struggle of freemen to gain and hold the right of self-government as against the special interests, who twist the methods of free government into machinery for defeating the popular will. At every stage, and under all circumstances, the essence of the struggle is to equalize opportunity, destroy privilege, and give to the life and citizenship of every individual the highest possible value both to himself and to the commonwealth.” – Theodore Roosevelt, New Nationalism Speech, 1910.

Via here is this video of the first known mobile phone,

World’s First Mobile Phone (1922). Found by a researcher in the Pathe vaults, this clip from 1922 shows that 90 years ago, mobile phone technology and music on the move was not only being thought of but being trialled. Reported in the Daily Telegraph, May 2010. We wrote the following blog post with links to this video’s coverage in the media and information about it from a former Royal Signals Officer Simon Atkins

Romney, Ryan and other conservatives running for office this cycle have had an epiphany. Having caused the most massive job losses since The Great Depression just a few years ago, they suddenly have the secret to creating jobs. Of course nothing is stopping them from creating jobs now. Taxes are their lowest since 1959. Democrats have slowed regulations to their lowest rate in decades. Though conservatives could create jobs now, for some reason they have decided to increase unemployment, and continue to subsidize wealthy individuals and corporations: Executive Excess 2012: The CEO Hands in Uncle Sam’s Pocket – How our tax dollars subsidize exorbitant executive pay

Executive Excess 2012Nationwide, budget cuts have axed 627,000 public service jobs just since June 2009. Schools, health clinics, fire stations, parks, and recreation facilities—virtually no public service has gone unsqueezed. Tax dollars haven’t seemed this scarce in generations.

Yet tens of billions of these scarce tax dollars are getting diverted. These tax dollars are flowing from average Americans who depend on public services to the kingpins of America’s private sector. They’re subsidizing, directly and indirectly, the mega-million paychecks that go to the top executives at our nation’s biggest banks and corporations.

[  ]…Among our findings:

Of last year’s 100 highest-paid U.S. corporate chief executives, 26 took home more in CEO pay than their companies paid in federal income taxes, up from the 25 we noted in last year’s analysis. Seven firms made the list in both 2011 and 2010.
The CEOs of these 26 firms received $20.4 million in average total compensation last year. That’s a 23 percent increase over the average for last year’s list of 2010’s tax dodging executives
The four most direct tax subsidies for excessive executive pay cost taxpayers an estimated $14.4 billion per year—$46 for every American man, woman, and child. That amount could also cover the annual cost of hiring 211,732 elementary-school teachers or creating 241,593 clean-energy jobs.
CEOs have benefited enormously from the Bush tax cuts for upper-income taxpayers. Last year, 57 CEOs saved more than $1 million on their personal income tax bills, thanks to these Bush-era cuts.

Yet Romney and Ryan claim that corporations are not hiring because taxes are too high.

“Astronaut John Glenn pulls himself up into a Mercury Space Capsule to take his three-circuit orbital flight into space.” January 20, 1962

There are a few good writer blogs on WordPress. Probably more than a few, but I only have so much time. Some of them self publish, others labor in obscurity. I was thinking of them when I came across this, The Joys and Hazards of Self-Publishing on the Web

Digital publishing and print on demand have significantly reduced the cost of producing a book. The phenomenal growth of e-readers and tablets has vastly expanded the market for e-books, which can be self-published at little or no cost. Writers who self-publish are more likely to be able to control the rights to their books, set their books’ sale price and keep a larger proportion of the sales.

But one thing has not changed: most self-published books sell fewer than 100 or 150 copies, many authors and self-publishing company executives say. There are breakout successes, to be sure, and some writers can make money simply by selling their e-books at low prices. Some self-published books attract so much attention that a traditional publishing house eventually picks them up. (Perhaps you’ve heard of the novel “Fifty Shades of Grey,” which began its life as a self-published work?)

They go into a little more detail about the kinds of self-publishing companies, costs etc at the link. Smashwords is becoming popular – because its basically free up front. You’ll be splitting commissions on sales though.

vintage empire state building.

The Six Dimensions of Time – by Robert F. Schuyler. This was only a kind of interesting read. While our imaginations can do wonderful things with time, for that thing called human consciousness time is linear. For the atoms that compose the physical you, it is another matter.

Ryan’s (R-WI) obsession with government control of every uterus goes to bizarre extremes. Ryan Sponsored Abortion Bill That Would Make Romney’s Kids Criminals. Why Ryan pretends to care about life is another issue. Once born, unless you are one of the John Galts of America, which is very much like saying that unless you’re the Green Lantern, you’re just one of the grubby masses who either thrives or dies depending on how you fair in a political system that values little else except money. Ryan has recently denied being a Rand follower, but there is all those speeches he gave that include passages from Rand’s writings. He seems more than willing to tell a lie as long as he can get away with it, Presented With Letters He Wrote, Paul Ryan(R-WI) Finally Admits Requesting Stimulus Cash

A Libertarian Little House on the Prairie

In 1936, the Saturday Evening Post published an essay that Lane called her “Credo,” and which announced a new phase of her career: as a right-wing polemicist. “I am now a fundamentalist American,” she declared. Her vision was of a frontier democracy—a Republic of the Fittest—with no handouts or entitlements, and minimal taxation. She may have been the first writer to use the term “libertarian” as the label for a nascent revolt against state authority. (Lane’s heir and adopted son, Roger McBride, was the Libertarian Party’s first candidate for President, in 1976.)

Lane, who died in 1968 (the Wilders were a long-lived family) spent her later years in a Connecticut farmhouse on several acres, protesting Social Security as a “Ponzi scheme” (the F.B.I. took note) and raising her own food. A determined individualist, in her view, should be resourceful enough to live off the grid. Her goal was to reduce her income to the point at which she wouldn’t have to file federal taxes. Old friends were dismayed by her increasingly erratic militance. One of them described her as “floating between sanity and a bedlam of hates.”

The lane referred to in this piece is the daughter of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Rose Wilder Lane. Rose, Rand and Isabel Paterson have been called “the founding mothers” of Libertarianism.