the feudal serfdom of hobby lobby, a possible remedy for muscle wasting

summer wheat wallpaper

summer wheat wallpaper


Imagine a country where within that country there is a feudal city with a castle and a great wall surrounding it. The city, castle, ruling family and the residents are  part of a country. The country has a set of rules, like say a democratic republic constitution. Oh, and many of the residents of the feudal castle are there because economic circumstances are such there is not many other choices available. The feudal lords of the castle say they do not have to follow the rules that the country has established to protect the rights of all serfs citizens because those rules are offensive to the beliefs of the ruling family. They claim this option to disregard the rights of individuals is perfectly in line with a constitutional right to worship as they please. They’re claiming that their rights supersede the rights of the serfs that serve them, clean the castle, produce the food; actually the serfs produce the wealth that makes it possible for the castle to exist. This true life tale of modern feudal lords is being acted out by a large corporation known as Hobby Lobby and book store chain, Mardel. The remarkable thing about their court successes thus far is that the kingdom of Hobby Lobby is making it easier for someone else to start their own kingdom where they might have prayer rugs and all the employees are required to face Mecca or not let employees have deodorant because their messiah likes human body odor. So lots of fun stuff to look forward thanks to Hobby Lobby.



 Motorola’s new combination TV and Stereo Record playing models

August 31, 1949.  New York. Georgia Lee (l) of San Antonio, TX and Lois Langley (r) of Pasadena, CA, try out the newest and one of the most expensive of Motorola’s new combination TV and Stereo Record playing models, the Gainsborough, which retails for $795. Maybe some day they’ll make something that plays music, media, connects to a world wide network of information and makes phone calls that is small enough to fit in your pocket.

A “smart” way of using testosterone to prevent muscle wasting

New Australian research suggests that a small dose of testosterone directed solely to the liver stimulates protein synthesis, likely preventing muscle loss and wasting, and potentially promoting muscle growth. The researchers believe they have developed a safe and effective treatment for men and women, that could prevent the muscle wasting associated with many chronic diseases and with ageing.

Dr Vita Birzniece and Professor Ken Ho, from Sydney’s Garvan Institute of Medical Research, showed in healthy postmenopausal women that a small dose of the male hormone testosterone prevented protein wasting. The pure crystalline testosterone, taken orally, went straight to the liver, and the dose (40mg/day) was small enough to ensure it was contained there, with no spillover to the bloodstream and other organs. The findings are now published online in the European Journal of Endocrinology.

This new approach allows people to benefit from testosterone’s ability to stimulate muscle growth and increase muscle strength. At the same time, it sidesteps the side effects of testosterone when given in the usual way – administered in much larger doses by injection, gel or patch through the skin.

When testosterone is injected, it goes directly to peripheral tissues and major organs, including the brain. This can cause unwanted side effects, including aggressive behaviour and heightened libido. It can also cause heart damage, and in women induce facial hair and a deeper voice.

When taken orally in a small dose, it is absorbed through the gut and goes straight to and acts on the liver, where it is also broken down, so that no other tissue or organ is exposed.

As humans age their muscles tend t waste. It also does not help that on average people become more sedentary as they get older. So they do not do the  muscle strengthening exercises which they should be doing to counter the wasting. Just taking a tablet would be nice.


catching light in a bottle, hired thugs in wisconsin and the first amendment

wind blown grass wallpaper

wind blown grass wallpaper


German Physicists Trap Light In Crystal For Record-Breaking 60 Seconds, Could Improve Quantum Communication [VIDEO]

Light stopped for 60 seconds inside a crystal at a research center in Germany after scientists fired lasers at it. No, this isn’t the opening scene of a James Bond film — this is physics, and it’s happening right now. Scientists at the University of Darmstadt in Germany stopped light, the fastest thing in the universe, dead in its tracks, and held it there for a whole minute.

…Light travels at a speed of 186,282 miles per second. It takes just over a second (1.2862 seconds, to be exact) for a beam of light to reach the moon. The team of university researchers in Germany was able to stop light for 60 seconds using crystals and lasers.

Another physicist had previously trapped light, but not for a couple of seconds. What does it mean, besides being able to trap light and not cause some kind of tragic death wave to roll through the universe. For reasons I am not completely clear on, this opens up the possibility of quantum communication. At least a couple times a year someone makes some discovery in physicist and claims this may lead to quantum communication. Apparently the Chinese are pretty sure already they can do that (using a special German satellite). Since the Chinese quantum communication involves sending photons with a laser pulse, quantum communication can mean more than one thing. So I’ll keep a look-out for some physicists to set the ground rules on what exactly quantum communication is and specific names for the various kinds being developed.


Frances, 1930s. Toned gelatin silver photograph, by Consuelo Kanaga (1894-1978).

Wisconsin GOP Gov. Gives Thumbs-Up to Private Security Commandos Hired By Greedy Mining Co. The company has come up with a strategy to thwart future protests: label the protesters “eco-terrorists.” If you’ve scrolled through the comments on a newspaper site or some blogs you know how quickly the discussion becomes flame throwing generalizations. Those left-of-center are not angels, but they’re generally better at keeping to the facts. One easy tactic, long practiced by political zealots is to paint the other side with the wrong doings of a few. If you get a couple dozen people together one is going to be a little faster to anger and bad behavior – apply that function to hundreds, to thousands to millions of people – guaranteed a few are going to be short fuses. So it goes with the environment. Some of the protesting is like so bad dude, like shouting and calling people names – goodness forbid. Though seriously, some have gotten physically combative and damaged property beyond anything that can be justified as civil disobedience. That tiny group is all the excuse Wisconsin Gov. Walker needs to call in a private army of head busters. None of you ordinary folk concerned about water quality, clean air and slag heaps will be considered reasonable citizens, you are a defacto terror suspect against the holy goodness of everything big mining companies do. So the 1st Amendment takes another beating in the name of safety and security.

a slice of surveillance history, all in the family corruption ginni and justice thomas

Kölnische Zeitung, Pressa, Cologne 1928. Gelatin silver print on paper. Werner Mantz (1901-1983)

Kölnische Zeitung, Pressa (newspaper office), Cologne 1928. Gelatin silver print on paper. Werner Mantz (1901-1983). Besides being a great photo the building is a wonderful example of art deco.


Via some odd coincidence I happen to know who James Bamford is. Some years ago just as I was surfing through cable channels i caught him promoting his books. He is interesting, but eccentric. The latter quality might be why it is mostly national intelligence or spy buffs take him seriously. Even his straight writing reads and has the pace of a spy thriller. This new piece – They Know Much More Than You Think –  from The New York Review of Books is worth a read for those interested in the history of the U.S. government spying on it’s own citizens, including the latest episode with the NSA. I’m not going to do any commentary as there is just too much territory covered. I did like this bit about some early government spying,

Looking back, the NSA and its predecessors have been gaining secret, illegal access to the communications of Americans for nearly a century. On July 1, 1920, a slim balding man in his early thirties moved into a four-story townhouse at 141 East 37th Street in Manhattan. This was the birth of the Black Chamber, the NSA’s earliest predecessor, and it would be hidden in the nondescript brownstone. But its chief, Herbert O. Yardley, had a problem. To gather intelligence for Woodrow Wilson’s government, he needed access to the telegrams entering, leaving, and passing through the country, but because of an early version of the Radio Communications Act, such access was illegal. With the shake of a hand, however, Yardley convinced Newcomb Carlton, the president of Western Union, to grant the Black Chamber secret access on a daily basis to the private messages passing over his wires—the Internet of the day.

Yardley and the Black Chamber sold like something from early pulp fiction thrillers, but they really did exist. Some of Yardley’s work was legitimate and did provide real help during the war effort.

1952 portrait d’une jeune indienne by Fernando Botero

1952 portrait d’une jeune indienne by Fernando Botero Angulo (born 19 April 1932). Botero may be the only living artist with a school or style of painting named after him, “Boterismo”. This is my favorite painting by him, but is not typical. Most of his figures and even inanimate objects have a kind of puffed up appearance.

Is Ginni Thomas’ Expanding Activism a Problem for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas?

Thomas founded the political advocacy group Liberty Central, which would later become a fierce player in the opposition to health care form. Detractors pointed out that Liberty Central was a potential vehicle for people with interests before the Supreme Court to make anonymous donations that might influence her husband.

The group was formed with a $500,000 anonymous donation that came as the Supreme Court was considering Citizens United, a case that ultimately resulted in loosening the restrictions on corporate giving to political campaigns. The anonymous donor was later revealed to be Harlan Crow, the Texas real estate developer. Crow was also a friend of Clarence Thomas’, and he was later linked to a scandal involving the justice’s failure to publicly disclose gifts from the developer and trips aboard his private jet. (It didn’t help that Justice Thomas had also failed to include his wife’s $150,000*  annual salary from Liberty Central on his financial disclosure forms…

In the movie Parker, played by Jason Statham, he says at one point, everybody steals. Perhaps a little bit of an overstatement, but it is easy to get the impression that corruption runs deep in the USA. If your local county tax assessor or beat cop takes fifty dollar bribe, they’ll likely loose their job, maybe see some jail time. Yet we can have a bought and paid for judge on the SCOTUS and nada happens. Complainers will be accused of criminalizing political views or being commie subversives or whatever shrill idiocy from the Right, and the corruption will continue under the guise of free political expression. The ideal, one that the USA has struggled with from day one, was that we were an egalitarian society, one certainly in which no one was supposed to be above the law and accountability.

*This is called wing-nut welfare. In no year of her life has Ginni Thomas done $150k worth of legitimate work.

new finding on psychpaths, american ideals defeated in congress

summer wallpaper

tropical pier wallpaper


Psychopathic criminals have empathy switch

Psychopaths do not lack empathy, rather they can switch it on at will, according to new research.

Placed in a brain scanner, psychopathic criminals watched videos of one person hurting another and were asked to empathise with the individual in pain.

Only when asked to imagine how the pain receiver felt did the area of the brain related to pain light up.

Scientists, reporting in Brain, say their research explains how psychopaths can be both callous and charming.

The team proposes that with the right training, it could be possible to help psychopaths activate their “empathy switch”, which could bring them a step closer to rehabilitation.

I could not help but to think of Dexter when I read that. It has been the conventional wisdom for years that real psychopaths lack almost any capacity for empathy. Yet Dexter seemed to have genuine feelings for his wife, his sister and loves his son. In that respect the character of Dexter is more like what is described in this research, someone who can turn on the empathy switch in some circumstances. This season brought up an interesting twist to the Dexter narrative. Dexter always went by the code his father taught him, so we’ve been told for the previous seven seasons. Now we find out that his father was deeply repulsed by the way Dexter killed and butchered his victims. While the whole personal vigilante butcher issue is morally questionable to begin with, the major flaw in Dexter’s code has been the lack of mercy. If Dexter, say gave them a lethal injection or kept them under heavy sedation while he delivered the fatal sentence, that would be in the realm of humane execution. Dexter makes sure they are awake for the final look at the victim’s picture and frequently some last words of condemnation from Dexter.

Scaled design drawing shows a system for navigating an airship

Scaled design drawing shows a system for navigating an airship  using propellers. Includes plans of dirigible platform body and complete platform assembly, and identification key. 9 March 1853, Vaussin-Chardanne.

NSA vote splits parties, jars leaders. This was the vote to reign in the expansive surveillance undertaken by this administration with a nod from Congress and the FISA Courts. The bill was defeated 217-205. So many important issues and events happen almost daily that this one is may seem like just another day and another story. This issue is and will continue to hold a special place in our history. Because Congress has said it’s interpreation of the Patriot Act, and this White House agrees, allows for wholesaale metadata collection of American’s phone calls, that kind of makes it legal or quasi-legal. And that it where the extraordinary part occurs. It does not matter whetehr Congress passes a law that says it is Ok, or that the FISA courts say it is OK, or that the executive branch also agrees. They have violated the 4th Amendment. When you have the legislative branch and the executive branch breaking the law, and with a nod agreeing that it is fine to do so, that is a remarkable place to be historically in a democratic republic based on the rule of law, law dictated by the Constitution. When I wrote about the new revelations previously it was not known at the time the NSA was collecting phone data from every phone call. The FISA court is giving telecoms sweeping 90 warrants to hand over all data. That is a wildly misinterpreted intention of the patriot, which is major auther, James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.)  also says is a misinterpretation of what he intended ( though this is partly Jimbo’s fault for writing a bad bill in the first place). White House blasts amendment curtailing the NSA’s power

Tuesday night, the White House blasted an amendment by Reps. Justin Amash (R-MI) and John Conyers (D-MI) to limit the NSA’s surveillance power to the letter of existing law. The White House rarely comments on pending amendments to legislation, and this statement came directly from Press Secretary Jay Carney, signaling how concerned the administration is.

However, we oppose the current effort in the House to hastily dismantle one of our Intelligence Community’s counterterrorism tools.  This blunt approach is not the product of an informed, open, or deliberative process.  We urge the House to reject the Amash Amendment, and instead move forward with an approach that appropriately takes into account the need for a reasoned review of what tools can best secure the nation.

This “blunt approach” could present the opportunity for an “informed, open, and deliberative process” that the White House could participate in if President Obama actually does want the open debate he said he welcomed after the leaks by Edward Snowden revealed how far beyond existing law the NSA surveillance programs have veered. It’s the closest we have yet come to a deliberative process on the issue since it was debated before it was allowed and will be debated again late Wednesday or Thursday when it’s offered on the floor.

This amendment would restrict the NSA to collecting data that is specifically and expressly allowed under Section 215 of the Patriot Act as written, not as secretly interpreted by the FISA court. It does not restrict the agency’s ability to collect foreign intelligence, but requires a court order for any collection of records of Americans, and requires that the collection be directly related to an existing investigation. As Congress intended when it passed the law.

Should the house revisit this bill, which I hope they do, it will still have to pass the Senate. Senate conservatives are not exactly known for being champions of civil liberties – despite all their hot air about being Constitutional “originalists”. The Amash (R-MI) and John Conyers (D-MI) bill will also have to get past Senate centrist Democrats, a group not known for sticking its neck out on national security issues in favor of civil liberties. I understand that position up to a point. Should another large terror attack occur while a Democrat is in the White House there would be hell to pay at the polls. Yet sticking one’s neck out is exactly what strong leadership is supposed to do. Many experts believe that we’re just spinning our wheels with such massive data collection, that does not make the country safer. But much of the general public believes it does. Once people start to “believe” something, it is very difficult to stop being guided by unjustified beliefs and guided by facts and in this case, American ideals set down over 200 years ago.

publishing pioneer, rent seekers sucking life out of the economy

The Dun Emer press-room

The Dun Emer press-room, ca. 1903. Elizabeth Corbet Yeats is at the iron hand-press; Beatrice Cassidy, standing, is rolling out ink, and Esther Ryan is correcting proofs at the table. The rear wall of the press-room displays a mural in pastel by the poet and artist AE (George Russell).

The first press founded by Elizabeth Corbet Yeats (1868-1940) was named for the Lady Emer, renowned in the Irish epics for her beauty and artistic skills. The intent was to provide training for young women in a number of occupations by which they might earn their living, including bookbinding, weaving, embroidery, and printing. Among the works Elizabeth published were those of her brother, William Butler Yeats.

Humanity achieves another milestone, Environmental Toxins Enter the Brain Tissue of Polar Bears

“If PFOS and PFCAs can cross the blood-brain barrier in polar bears, it will also be the case in humans. The brain is one of the most essential parts of the body, where anthropogenic chemicals can have a severe impact. However, we are beginning to see the effect of the efforts to minimize the dispersal of this group of contaminants.”

Select environmentally labeled products

The eight carbon chain PFOS and perfluorooctane carboxylate (PFOA) are PFASs have been phased out and are no longer produced in the western world. However, production in China, today the only known production source of PFOS and PFOA, has increased by roughly a factor of 10, since it was phased out in the USA.

China is the wonderland of economic freedom that so many conservatives and libertarians dream of – few regulations, those regs they do have are not rigorously enforced, and no unions.

Larkin Company Administration Building, Buffalo, New York Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright

Larkin Company Administration Building, Buffalo, New York, 1906.
Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

The five story dark red brick building used pink tinted mortar and utilized steel frame construction. It was noted for many innovations, including air conditioning, stained glass windows, built-in desk furniture, and suspended toilet bowls. Though this was an office building, it still caught the essence of Frank Lloyd Wright’s type of architecture. Sculptor Richard Bock provided ornamentation for the building.

The Larkin building was demolished in 1950.

How Wall Street sucks all the life out of the economy,

Here’s the point that is critical to understand: the rentier performs no useful function, and the economic rent can be eliminated without reducing the supply of the resources needed for production.

[  ]…Never content with its piece of the pie, Wall Street got into the storage business. In a terrific (and all too rare) piece of reporting, the NYTimes has exposed the scam created by Goldman Sachs to corner the aluminum market. You’ve got to read this for yourself, but I’ll summarize the main point. Goldman bought Metro, a storage company in Detroit that handles a quarter of the market’s supply of aluminum. Before the Squid took control, Metro had 50,000 tons of aluminum in storage; under Goldman’s management that has increased to 1.5 million tons.

Based on that growth you might think the aluminum business is booming, right? Well, no. Producers who need aluminum cannot get it—it is all bottled up in Goldman’s warehouses. The typical wait to get an order filled by Goldman’s facilities has grown from six weeks to 16 months.

And here’s the kicker. Goldman doesn’t own an ounce of the aluminum—it merely stores it for the owners. When the owners demand their own aluminum, Goldman claims it cannot be found. This is like depositing your family jewels at the local bank, but when you go to retrieve them, the bank claims it has misplaced your safety deposit box. And so you wait for 16 months.

At the bottom of this rent-seeking are the little worker bees – in another era they were called serfs. In the U.S. No one who does an honest day’s work likes to think of themselves as a serf who is just spinning their wheels to create the capital the rent seekers play with. So change at the top requires some realizations by the average American.


stones and ocean wallpaper

stones and sea wallpaper

stones and sea wallpaper

Dubai sentences Norwegian woman who reported rape. She received a 6-month prison sentence for having extramarital sex, drinking alcohol, and perjury. Her alleged attacker received a 13-month sentence for extra-marital sex and alcohol consumption. In order for her rape charge to stand up – likely the reason she was charged with perjury – because women are assumed to be lying – is that for the charge of rape to be officially recognized four men must testify that they saw the rape. Perhaps the U.S., Norway and Dubai could have a trade. Norway and the U.S. will take all the rational reasonable citizens of Dubai and in exchange they can have some conservatives who have pretty much the same attitudes as the malevolent clowns that enacted those rape laws: some conservatives we could send to Dubai include Ken Cuccinelli, Virginia Republican and gubernatorial hopeful, Paul Ryan (R-WI),  Lou Dobbs, Erick Erickson and American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer. And throw in Liz Cheney as a bonus – she loves torturing people so she’ll fit right in culturally.  These six conservatives have nothing but contempt for American ideals of justice, fairness and the rule of law. Those things are simply alphabet soup as far as they’re concerned. Which, conveniently is much like the rulers of Dubai feel about those ideals.

Alexander Calder with his circus. Paris, 1929. Andre Kertesz.

Alexander Calder with his circus. Paris, 1929. By photographer Andre Kertesz.

Things Wall Street Financiers Say Off the Record About Their Bloated, Corrupt Industry. Someone at Bloomberg claims the survey is not valid because he does not consider it scientific. Bloomberg does have some good reporters so let’s not let this one person deflect from that. Though I’m not going to excerpt the survey results, just what we actually know about business and finance, and how those sectors of the economy are run by the powers that be,

Given the attitudes of our financial elites, you would expect bad things to happen. The list of high crimes and misdemeanors is mind boggling, and growing every day.

Design mortgage related securities so that they will fail in order to bet against them. (See How to Make a Million Dollars an Hour [5] for all the gory details.)

Unlawfully foreclose [6] on 700 military families.

Money launder [7] for drug cartels.

Collude with illegal payday loan sharks.

Fail to live up to settlement [9] to provide mortgage revisions.

Sell billions of dollars worth of bogus insurance policies that are supposed to provide payment protection for ill or unemployed mortgage holders, but actually provide no coverage at all [10].

Let the London Whale gamble with federally insured money and then lose $6 billion, and then refuse to provide documentation to regulators. [11]

Lie to your colleagues in the media in order to move markets your way. (Jim Cramer’s confession.) [12]

Illegally trade on insider information. (71 hedge fund traders plead guilty or are convicted [13] in the last two years.)

Hedge funds spread false rumors [14] about European banks to cause runs.

High frequency traders milk investors [15].

Collude to manipulate basic interest rates [16] (LIBOR) that effect trillions of dollars of debt.

Engage in predatory lending [17] to rip off cities, towns and school systems.

Rating agencies turn tricks for cash by giving out thousands of bogus AAA ratings [18].

maybe the percentages of corruption and corrupt attitudes in the survey are off – too high or too low, when you have so many financial and business corruption, one is surely delusional to think there is not a problem. After reading about just some of the bigger scandals, the recent commercials being run by the Koch brothers claiming that one of America’s problems is over regulation, just seems all that more bizarre.

never let a libertarian take over your business, ultrasound may be the new anti-depressant

red and yellow wallpaper

red and yellow wallpaper


How a Libertarian Used Ayn Rand’s Crazy Philosophy to Drive Sears Into the Ground

…He thought he could increase profits, too. After making a nice wad of cash from Kmart by selling off the valuable real estate sitting under dozens of stores, shutting down 600 stores and laying off tens of thousands of workers in the name of cost-cutting and thereby jacking up the stock price, he got bigger ideas. He would use Kmart to take over another ginormous retailer, Sears.

…A handy chart on Yahoo Finance show that buybacks reached a high [13] just about the time that Sears’ sales went into the toilet. Stock buybacks are really just an effort to manipulate stock prices, and they don’t help a company’s long-term health. They divert money away from the things that a company needs to have to succeed, like decent salaries for workers and investments in new products and services. Wonder why Apple is no longer making anything interesting? Why its retail workers get paid squat? Check out what they’ve been doing with stock buybacks.

Lampert’s buyback scheme has raked in a pile of money for him and his early investors, but it’s also flushing the company down the drain. Hoovering cash out of any firm, especially a retailer that needs appealing stores and strong advertising, will eventually crush sales.

And so it has. Sears has lost half its value in five years [14].

Lambert also worshiped the Austrian economist Friedrich von Hayek, who is still a saint, regardless of how often he is proved wrong, to people like former VP candidate Paul Ryan (R-WI).  Hayek and his clones are pretty much in charge of the conservative-libertarian economic movement. In some ways they have turned the U.S. into Lambert’s version of Sears.

Roofs and Sky

Roofs and Sky, 1939. By Louis Lozowick  (American (born Ukraine), Ludvinovka 1892–1973 South Orange, New Jersey). This work was originally published by the Roosevelt era Works Progress Administration.

Ultrasound waves applied to the brain can alter patients’ moods

Ultrasound waves applied to particular parts of the brain have been found to be capable of altering a patient’s mood. The research, conducted by a team from the University of Arizona, may one day lead to the development of non-drug-based interventions for conditions such as depression.

The research hinged on the fact that ultrasound vibrates in megahertz at around 10 million vibrations per second — roughly the same rate that microtubules (protein structures in the brain linked to mood) resonate.

He placed an ultrasound transducer against his head for 15 seconds, but initially felt no effect. “And then about a minute later I started to feel like I’d had a martini.”

I’m not wild about feeling like I just drink a martini, that aside they might be on to something. They experimented with different frequencies and various time intervals, finding that a 30-second blast at 2 megahertz made patients feel happier and generally better for up to 40 minutes after the treatment.