deflection from guilt is the rule, orwell plus huxley the new dystopia

Clochard and Posters, Paris. c1930. Gelatin silver print. Photographer André Kertész.

 NBC Sports Host Who Shot Elephant In Face Compares His Critics To Hitler. Makris: Elephant Hunting Critics Are Practicing “Animal Racism.” When people are caught doing something grossly immoral it is generally the case that they deflect. very seldom does someone caught doing something wrong, ironically, especially when there is a huge public outcry, to admit guilt and apologize. Politicians do so occasionally, but almost always with some hedging. Makris has jumped off the deep end with a bizarre counter attack. If he thinks that all animals should be killed in equal number that would mean we should kill as many elephants as we do cows ( about 300 million cattle, bison, sheep, hogs, goats, chickens, turkeys, and ducks in the U.S. every year). African elephants are all listed as threatened species and Indian elephants are critically endangered, so keeping the kill ration equal would mean the extinction of both populations of elephants within a year. He says the elephant fed people. Who exactly? Did a starving village ask him to go out and kill an elephant to fed them because they were unable to do so themselves. One also wonders how it is a fair comparison to say that those who object to the killing of an elephant are exactly the same as Hitler, a man and system of beliefs responsible for the mass murder of six million Jews. Plus a few million other civilians and military. So this Hitler would have taken a moment to see and hear a person kill an elephant and condemned him. Possible, but for obvious reasons, seems unlikely. If the elephant was killed to fed some starving Jews, communists, intellectuals or liberals – all of whom Hitler hated, that might be in the realm of believability. Is it possible that ten of thousands of people had moral objections to what Mr. Makris did because it was yet another cruel and completely unnecessary act in a world that is not suffering from a shortage of such acts. Makris and his supporters make the argument that since there is frequent killing in the world, what is one more. One could theoretically make the argument until the last one eyed man is standing.

Probably the 1946 issue.

N.S.A. Gathers Data on Social Connections of U.S. Citizens

Since 2010, the National Security Agency has been exploiting its huge collections of data to create sophisticated graphs of some Americans’ social connections that can identify their associates, their locations at certain times, their traveling companions and other personal information, according to newly disclosed documents and interviews with officials.

According to the I have Nothing to Hide So It is No Big Deal crowd on Twitter, this is just another big yawn. In George Orwell’s dytopian future the government uses various kinds of coercion and spying to keep everyone in line. While in Aldous Huxley’s dystopia the people are pacified with drugs and other form of pleasure inducement that make everyone either accepting or apathetic. It seems they were both right. The Nothing to Hides (NTHs) can watch cable, have a cold drink, order in some food, play with their smart-phone, all under the assumption by the government that they are suspects  – thus everything is fine.

* When people stop by to like a post I generally try to visit their blogs and leave a ‘like’ as well – both because i did like the post and as a kind of thanks. I have not had time to do that lately so I just wanted to thank all of you for stopping by.


first licensed woman pilot, highly uneven justice

Harriet Quimby in cockpit of plane

Harriet Quimby in cockpit of plane, circa 1912.

Harriet Quimby

Harriet Quimby (May 11, 1875 – July 1, 1912), this picture also around 1912. I especially like this one. Sometimes a photo will catch someone in a moment when there is just joy, no arrogance, no pretense. One of those times when they are at having one of the best moments of their life. here Qiumby is waving back to a crowd cheering here on for doing what she loved to do, fly. In 1911, she was awarded a U.S. pilot’s certificate by the Aero Club of America, becoming the first woman to gain a pilot’s license in the United States.

Measuring the cost of austerity

Let me end by quoting the conclusion of their New York Times article. “One need not be an economic ideologue — we certainly aren’t — to recognize that the price of austerity can be calculated in human lives. We are not exonerating poor policy decisions of the past or calling for universal debt forgiveness. It’s up to policy makers in America and Europe to figure out the right mix of fiscal and monetary policy. What we have found is that austerity — severe, immediate, indiscriminate cuts to social and health spending — is not only self-defeating, but fatal.”

Some might think that knowing that austerity economics is actually fatal to people, it causes illness, misery and early death would make its proponents feel some sense of shame. That would only be the case if you were dealing with people who were not at their core social-Darwinists. They see the fatalities of austerity as a feature, not a failing.

Día de Fiesta

Día de Fiesta, Mexico, 1933, by Paul Strand. Platinum print.


Bradley Manning Headed To Prison, While Those Who Authorized Torture Go Free. Good point. One of videos that Manning leaked showed two children wounded in van by the military. Manning is punished for letting the public see a war crime, but those who commuted the crime were never prosecuted.

Interesting, Brilliant Red Sprite Lightning Caught on Film

columbia river vintage, hollywood cops forget citizen rights, telling your brain to remember

Cape Horn, Columbia River, Oregon

Cape Horn, Columbia River, Oregon, print about 1881 – 1883.  Albumen silver print. Photographer, Carleton Watkins 1829 – 1916.

Watch: Cops Detain Man For Taking Pictures of Police from 90 Feet Away

Shawn Nee, a documentary photographer, was detained in Hollywood in June. Nee was out on the job doing regular street photography when police officers showed up 90 feet away to intervene in a domestic dispute. Nee decided to photograph the officers while they were doing their job. That meant trouble for him.

Nee was so far away the police got in their car to go over to him because they did not feel like walking that far. A police department spokesperson said, “when it interferes with the job of police then it becomes a problem. At that point, you no longer have that freedom to go ahead and take your pictures.” So goodness forbid that you’re crunching down on some corn flakes 10 yards away from an arrest. The officers will claim you’re getting on their nerves and tase you.

Reading by Lamplight

Reading by Lamplight, 1858. Etching and drypoint; black ink on fine ivory oriental laid paper. James McNeill Whistler 1834–1903. So much of Whistler’s work is nicely dressed upper middle-class of the time, that it may distract some art fans from appreciating his technique.

Remembering to Remember Supported by Two Distinct Brain Processes

You plan on shopping for groceries later and you tell yourself that you have to remember to take the grocery bags with you when you leave the house. Lo and behold, you reach the check-out counter and you realize you’ve forgotten the bags.

Remembering to remember — whether it’s grocery bags, appointments, or taking medications — is essential to our everyday lives. New research sheds light on two distinct brain processes that underlie this type of memory, known as prospective memory.

In order to remember something a part of your brain has to keep telling your brain to watch for clues that what you are supposed to remember is required at the time you need to do something. It somewhat boils down to attention. If you let your mind wander, you’re less likely to remember. That seems simplistic but how many times have we really needed to do something, be somewhere and forgotten. Importance alone is not sufficient to make your brain recall what it needs to do.

ye old scientific theories, oklahoma conservative is a con-man

flowering pear tree wallpaper

flowering pear tree wallpaper


The Most Bonkers Scientific Theories (Almost) Nobody Believes Anymore

The ancient Greeks were the first to have the crazy idea that a lamb could grow right out of the ground, with a stem attached to its navel. Pliny the Elder later mentioned it, and Europeans picked up the idea again in the 14th century.

This is the exceedingly strange legend of the Vegetable Lamb of Tartary.

Now, these folks were well aware of where lambs came from. They were baby sheep that came out of mommy sheep. Or a stork drops it off. Or whatever. But their story may have arisen out of the first Western accounts of cotton plants, which an ancient Greek by the name of Megasthenes found in India, referring to them as “trees on which wool grows.”

I had not heard the lamb and cotton plant legend before. There is more at the link. It is fascinating how word of mouth becomes highly distorted gossip, which became a conventional wisdom. Matt also includes Phrenology: Like Reading a Crystal Ball, But With People’s Heads. I’ve seen and heard people in real life and the movies play around with phrenology, but I’m not sure they’re serious. It has some ethnocentric origins. It was not enough for old European powers like Spain, France and England to invade, seize countries for profit and subjugate the local population, they had to have some “scientific” rationale like phrenology that showed for a fact these people were inferior.

Pratiqve de la Guerre. Contenant l'usage de

A roughish translation of the title of this book, Pratiqve of War. Containing the use of Artillery, Bombs & Mortars, Artificial Lights & Petards, Sappes & Mines, Bridges & Pontoons, Trenches & Works, With Assault order to Breches. All vn trafficking lights Ioye / by  Francis Malthus. 1650. Malthus was a French engineer and expert in assaulting fortresses.  While very scientific for it’s time, I am fairly certain they did not have guys that rode geese and threw lightning bolts.

Congressman Claims Widespread Fraud Because He Saw ‘Physically Fit’ Couple Use Food Stamps

At a town hall in Welch, OK on Thursday, Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) called for the outright elimination of aid programs for low-income Americans, claiming that he has witnessed food stamp fraud firsthand. Mullin said he would like to “do away with a lot of these programs” because they allow people to slack off.

“The food programs are designed to take care of people who can’t work, not won’t work. And we all know those people that won’t work, right?” he asked the audience. “They’re abusing the program, and we’ve got to get them off of it.”

[  ]…Despite Mullin’s conviction that these people cannot be legitimately needy, solely on the basis that they look “physically fit,” food stamp fraud is down to just 1 percent. If the Congressman has noticed an increase in food stamp users in his local grocery store, evidence points to the nation’s dismal employment rate as the true culprit.

Meanwhile, many of those who receive SNAP benefits (from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps) work: More than 40 percent of recipients live in a household with earnings. Those who don’t work are likely to be under 18 or over 60. In fact, strict eligibility requirements for the Supplementary Nutrition Assistance Program have disqualified one in four food insecure households for being too high-income, and are allowing at least 50 million people to go hungry. Regardless, House Republicans are gunning for more cuts that would kick millions more families off the vital program.

Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK)  is another amateur magician – look over here at this hand where he claims people are stealing pennies ( if you pay federal income taxes, less than 1penny of every dollar you pay goes to food assistance). Do not look at this hand where corporations, places where people reportedly work, are ripping the American public off for billions, and keeping trillions in offshore  banks. Listen to yet another freaky anecdotal story about people who are discouraged from working so they can cash in on that $4 a day in food. Pay no attention to the Walton family who has the net worth of the bottom 30 percent of Americans, yet tax payers subsidize every employee because they do not pay a living wage – neither do most restaurants, fast food joints or large retailers like Target, Sears, Home Depot, Hobby Lobby or Best Buy. Do not look at the pay of the top executives at those companies or how easy their average work day is compared to a minimum wage employee. Conservatives economic policies since the 1980s have made it a priority to shift to an economy that rewards wealth and punishes work.

Conservative economic punishes working class Americans

gladiolus, ethics and copyrighting new words

gladiolus summer wallpaper

gladiolus summer wallpaper


Democrats introduce Supreme Court Ethics Act to helpfully suggest the Supreme Court have some. Because conservatives in the Senate have a strangle hold on all legislation and the House has a tea stained majority, this bill will not go anywhere. It will be interesting to watch conservatives push rationales for why the SCOTUS, which has a conservative majority, does not need any stink’n ethical standards.

black and white boat

black and white boat

“Here, Among the Black Sand Beaches of Kupang”: A Century of the American Word Industry in Review

1: Beatrice Tesla (of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) for her invention of the adjective reproable, which she defined as a robotics term to be applied to any machine with the ability to duplicate itself in its entirety.

6: P. K. Buckman (of Cedar City, Utah) for his invention of the phrase Mormo metal, which he defined as a subgenre of heavy metal, characterized not as much by certain guitar techniques or styles of drumwork as by having overtly Mormon lyrics.

Fans of etymology, neologisms or just weird cultural news might enjoy the full essay.

Low minimum wage undermines economy. If workers are paid well they tend to buy stuff.

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.

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.