the storm, an emily dickinson manuscript, six ways conservatives just don’t get it

The Storm, 1946. By Grace Arnold Albee, American, 1890-1995. Wood engraving on paper.

Ghost-Hunters and Psychical Research in Interwar England. It sounds quaint, but they took it rather seriously for a number of years. Science or something resembling science was going to break through to the ethereal  plain.

The hand written manuscript of the Emily Dickinson poem that begins “HOPE is the thing with feathers” and the seldom cited “To die – takes just a little while”

HOPE is the thing with feathers

That perches in the soul,

And sings the tune without the words,

And never stops at all,

And sweetest in the gale is heard;

And sore must be the storm

That could abash the little bird

That kept so many warm.

I ’ve heard it in the chillest land,

And on the strangest sea;

Yet, never, in extremity,

It asked a crumb of me.


To die – takes just a

little while –

They say it does’nt hurt –

It’s only fainter – by degrees –

And then – it’s out of sight –

A darker Ribbon – for a Day –

A Crape opon the Hat –

And then the pretty sun – sunshine

shine comes –

And helps us to forget –

The absent – mystic – creature –

That but for love of us –

Had gone to sleep – that

soundest time –

Without the weariness –

Emily Dickinson (1830–86).  “HOPE” from the Complete Poems.1924. “To die ” from Franklin Variorum, 1998.

6 Ways the GOP Congress Is Out of Step With the American People. From drug policy to fiscal policy to gay marriage, a profound disconnect. Have you noticed that most of the world’s wackiest people have one  – or maybe more things in common. The one that constantly arise is the desire to live in another century. The Republican Party wants to put the country in a time machine and take it back to the Antebellum South of 1850. Fundamentalists Muslims want to take the Middle-East back to the 17th century.


the mouse gnaws the net imprisoning the doves

“The Mouse Gnaws the Net Imprisoning the Doves”, Folio from a Kalila wa Dimna. 18th century. Origins of this version: Egypt or Syria culture. Ink and opaque watercolor on paper. This is part of an allegorical fable.

Climate change increased the number of deaths

The increased temperatures caused by ongoing climate change in Stockholm, Sweden between 1980 and 2009 caused 300 more premature deaths than if the temperature increase did not take place. In Sweden as a whole, it would mean about 1,500 more premature deaths, according to a study from researchers at Umeå University published in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Global warming does not only give a general increase in temperature, but it also increases the frequency, intensity and duration of heat waves.

I don’t do many of these kinds of stories, but it is getting to be a crowded field of products, Apple iPad Air and 11 other tablets compared: which is best? While Apple products are still looking good, the competition has gotten much better. Those who like Android will especially like the new Samsung Galaxy Note. Sorry to say something good about Microsoft, but the Surface 2 looks good and runs traditional Office apps – which some of us still have to work with.

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

how we do things here

hilltop house wallpaper

hilltop house wallpaper


Since conservatives seem bent on making America into a theocratic authoritarian state like Iran or a right-wing authoritarian state like Chile under Augusto Pinochet, it is only fair that we consider a saner alternative model,  The Secret to Finland’s Success With Schools, Moms, Kids—and Everything

Inarguably one of the world’s most generous — and successful — welfare states, the country has a lower infant mortality rate, better school scores, and a far lower poverty rate than the United States, and it’s the second-happiest country on earth (the U.S. doesn’t break the top 10). According to the OECD, Finns on average give an 8.8 score to their overall life satisfaction. Americans are at 7.5.

…”The thinking was, ‘for a country of 5 million, we don’t have many resources to waste. If people are happy, they’ll maximize their work ethic, and we can develop,'” says Andrew Nestingen, a professor who leads the Finnish studies program at the University of Washington. The theory of the welfare state was that “everyone should get a slice of the cake so that they have what they need to realize their life projects.”

The country’s unemployment and disability system was in place by 1940, and subsequent decades saw the expansion of child benefits and health insurance.

Meanwhile, thanks to the country’s strong agrarian tradition, the party that represents the rural part of Finland pushed through subsidies for stay-at-home (or stay-on-farm, in their case) mothers — thus the current smorgasbord of inexpensive child-care options.

Over time, Finland was able to create its “cake” — and give everyone a slice — in large part because its investments in human capital and education paid off. In a sense, welfare worked for Finland, and they’ve never looked back.

It is not that modeling our economy, education system and safety net on Finland will not work, it is that some people are opposed to solely on ideological grounds. Ideological in the same way that some religious adherents are very dogmatic about their beliefs. Facts, history, the best outcomes, humanitarianism – those considerations do not factor into conservative or libertarian thinking because they are contrary to their quasi religious beliefs about economics and culture.

Winter's tale, act 3, sc. 3

Old Shepherd from Shakespeare’s Winter’s tale, act 3, sc. 3. created c1803.  Besides the artistic merit this drawing is a fascinating precursor to the super hero customs of characters like Cat Woman and Spiderman. You can see the Old Shepherd’s muscle definition through his custom – in the full size version you can see he is wearing a top – the sleeve ends are visible on his wrists and his tights end at his calves. And of course, the cape.

As long as you’re a zygote, conservatives are obsessed with you. Once actual human being, it is a different story. And when they’re not making life as miserable as possible for humans, they’re busy making it miserable for animals, New Legislation Could Yield Net Loss for Animal Welfare

With not a single Democrat supporting the Farm Bill, and only 12 Republicans voting against it, the House narrowly passed its pared-down version, which excluded all Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program funding (more commonly known as food stamps), by a vote of 216 to 208. The bill approved by the House includes the dangerous and overreaching King amendment, which could nullify dozens of state laws to protect animals, the environment, worker safety and food safety. Introduced by Rep. Steve King (R-IA), it seeks to erode the progress that states have made ensuring that farm animals are treated humanely.

Republican leaders blocked consideration of a series of other animal welfare amendments relating to banning barren battery cages, cracking down on horse slaughter, and upgrading the federal law against horse soring. (Horse soring is the intentional infliction of pain to a horse’s legs or hooves, which forces the horse into an artificial, exaggerated gait, a practice often associated with Tennessee walking horses.)

Rep. Steve King (R-IA) feels strongly that being cruel to animals is the new cool American value. In the past King has been a champion of legalized dog fighting, has said that some obscure German lab has proved climate change is not occurring and had an emotional breakdown when some kids wanted to speak to him, a public official, about immigration reform. King should probably be in a nice sanitarium under psychiatric care, but no, he is collecting about $175k a year as a Congressional representative from Iowa.

breton village, monsanto’s lies continue, beckett and nancy

Breton Village

Breton Village, c1890, oil on canvas. Odilon Redon.

For those who have not read about the issues before, Monsanto has a patent on crop foods like corn and wheat that are resistant to its herbicide RoundUp. What happens, and who would have thought, is that the pollen from the fields where their crops are planted blows into neighboring fields. Those seeds then have patented Monsanto genes in them. If a farmer goes to sell crops from the seeds from last year’s crops which have Monsanto’s genes, Monsanto says the farmer has to pay them or they sue. Monsanto has sued lots of farmers. That would seem fairly nightmarish to many people. Monsanto has made many claims in its defense of it’s ever growing ownership of the nation’s food supply. And no that is not an exaggeration. What corn and wheat we do not eat directly ( including the corn syrup that is in the majority of packaged products like cereal) is consumed by livestock like cows, pigs and chickens. One of the claims that Monsanto has made is that they have increased crop yields dramatically. So this being the case they should be left alone because they are producing food people need and keeping retail prices lower. Turns out that is not true. Research Shows that Monsanto’s Big Claims for GMO Food Are Probably Wrong

Collier “made the offhand remark during his talk that because Europe has shunned GMOs [genetically modified organisms], it’s lost productivity compared to the US,” Heinemann recalls. “That seemed odd to me. So while he was talking, I went to the FAO [UN Food and Agriculture Organization] database and I had a look at yields for corn. And over the short term, from 1995 to 2010, the US and Western Europe were neck and neck, there was no difference at all. So his assertion that lack of GMOs was causing Europe to fall behind didn’t seem true.”

[  ]…Heinemann’s group found that between 1985 and 2010, Western Europe has experienced yield gains at a faster rate than North America for all three crops measured. That means that the U.S., which grows mostly GE corn, and Canada, which grows mostly GE canola, are not doing as well as Europe, which grows non-GE corn and canola. The increases in corn yields in the U.S. have remained relatively consistent both before and after the introduction of GE corn. Furthermore, Western Europe is experiencing faster yield gains than America for non-GE wheat.

What does this mean? “There’s no evidence that [GE crops] have given us higher yields,” says Heinemann. “The evidence points exclusively to breeding as the input that has increased yields over time. And there is evidence that it is constraining yields in the North American agroecosystem.” He offers two potential reasons why. First, he says, “By making the germplasm so much narrower, the average yield goes down because the low yields are so low.”

Europe has not adopted GM seeds.

This is a cartoon panel by American cartoonist Ernie Bushmiller in the 1950s for his long running newspaper series Nancy. What does Ernie and Sluggo (pictured) have to do with the modernist Irish-French playwright- novelist Samuel Beckett? The Beckett/Bushmiller Letters

What then are we to make of the trove of letters found recently among Ernie Bushmiller’s personal papers, as his estate was being cataloged for auction? That the successful syndicated cartoonist of an immensely popular daily comic strip known for its appeal to lowbrow readers and children was corresponding for some months in the 1950s with Samuel Beckett, the austere modernist poet who authored plays and novels still considered forbidding and impenetrable, can’t but strike us as unlikely. Certainly it seems strange. Yet a correspondence between the all-American cartoonist and the Irish-French Nobel laureate does exist.

There are more panels along with some of the correspondence between Bushmiller and Beckett. Having read some Beckett and some Nancy, I can see where they had a lot in common.

the spirit of main street

Main Street


Chapter one manuscript of Main Street, with hand written annotations and changes by Sinclair Lewis.

ON a hill by the Mississippi where Chippewas camped two generations ago, a girl stood in relief against the cornflower blue of Northern sky. She saw no Indians now; she saw flour-mills and the blinking windows of skyscrapers in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Nor was she thinking of squaws and portages, and the Yankee fur-traders whose shadows were all about her. She was meditating upon walnut fudge, the plays of Brieux, the reasons why heels run over, and the fact that the chemistry instructor had stared at the new coiffure which concealed her ears.

A breeze which had crossed a thousand miles of wheat-lands bellied her taffeta skirt in a line so graceful, so full of animation and moving beauty, that the heart of a chance watcher on the lower road tightened to wistfulness over her quality of suspended freedom. She lifted her arms, she leaned back against the wind, her skirt dipped and flared, a lock blew wild. A girl on a hilltop; credulous, plastic, young; drinking the air as she longed to drink life. The eternal aching comedy of expectant youth.

It is Carol Milford, fleeing for an hour from Blodgett College.

The days of pioneering, of lassies in sunbonnets, and bears killed with axes in piney clearings, are deader now than Camelot; and a rebellious girl is the spirit of that bewildered empire called the American Middlewest.

Lewis’s prose is so spare, yet glides along  to the end of a page. It is like those walks where lost in thought you suddenly look around and wonder how you got there. I think Main Street is still read in some college classes and as extra credit reading in some high school English classes. I think if it would suddenly be propelled into the public spotlight Main Street would still cause resentment. There are some people who have a political and cultural agenda that is served by preserving the myth of the idyllic small town. No group of people wants to admit that they have problems with pettiness, gossip and back biting. Not that those issues do not exist in cities. But cities have generally presented themselves as something else – The Big Apple, centers of commerce, hubs of culture; thus they’re generally not as hypocritical about being something they’re not. More important than place is the pockets of regressive thinking, the obsessive need to pass petty judgements. You can read Main Street for free – they have plain text, HTML, Kindle and EPUB.

“They were staggered to learn that a real tangible person, living in Minnesota, and married to their own flesh-and-blood relation, could apparently believe that divorce may not always be immoral; that illegitimate children do not bear any special and guaranteed form of curse; that there are ethical authorities outside of the Hebrew Bible; that men have drunk wine yet not died in the gutter; that the capitalistic system of distribution and the Baptist wedding-ceremony were not known in the Garden of Eden; that mushrooms are as edible as corn-beef hash; that the word “dude” is no longer frequently used; that there are Ministers of the Gospel who accept evolution; that some persons of apparent intelligence and business ability do not always vote the Republican ticket straight; that it is not a universal custom to wear scratchy flannels next the skin in winter; that a violin is not inherently more immoral than a chapel organ; that some poets do not have long hair; and that Jews are not always peddlers or pants-makers.

“Where does she get all them the’ries?” marveled Uncle Whittier Smail; while Aunt Bessie inquired, “Do you suppose there’s many folks got notions like hers? My! If there are,” and her tone settled the fact that there were not, “I just don’t know what the world’s coming to!”


The Shenandoah (or ZR-1) moored to the mast of the airship tender Patoka. c1924.

The Shenandoah (or ZR-1) moored to the mast of the airship tender Patoka. c1924. I came across this great image the other day and just wanted to post it. I’ve posted about the The Shenandoah tragedy before.

we still live in the upton sinclair’s jungle, why is biodiversity important

Author Upton Sinclair, in white suit with black arm band, picketing Rockefeller Building

Author Upton Sinclair, in white suit with black arm band, picketing Rockefeller Building. 1914. That blotch is part of the print.

“Into this wild-beast tangle these men had been born without their consent, they had taken part in it because they could not help it; that they were in jail was no disgrace to them, for the game had never been fair, the dice were loaded. They were swindlers and thieves of pennies and dimes, and they had been trapped and put out of the way by the swindlers and thieves of millions of dollars.”  Upton Sinclair, The Jungle.

Not much has changed since Sinclair wrote The Jungle. Banks, with conservative legislators paving the way, the plutocrats stole trillions from the economy. They’re still wealthy. Millions of Americans are treading water. One thing has changed about our prison system, it is now a growth industry. With a large part of the prison population being guilty of petty drug offenses. Sell a bag of pot or an ounce of coke, go to prison, and probably get raped (More than 200,000 men are raped behind bars each year). Steal millions, than spend millions on lobbyists and campaign contributions, to continue to steal. Call what you do free enterprise and your critics socialists, and you have the greatest scheme  for making money in history.

This was a great help to me. Some questions, or the answers to them seem so obvious, than you try to put it into words and find yourself babbling in bits and pieces, Why is preserving biodiversity important?

Biological diversity, commonly known as biodiversity, is a term used to describe the wide variety of living organisms and ecosystems found on Earth. Biodiversity is the extremely complex unification of innumerable species of flora, fauna and microbes that exist into one environmental system, and is the foundation for life on Earth, which is exactly why preserving biodiversity is important.

The conservation of biodiversity is of global importance, the 22nd May marks International Biodiversity day, first declared by the UN in 1993. Conservation of biodiversity is important for many ecological, economical and spiritual reasons. A diverse ecosystem means a productive ecosystem, as each small part that makes up the larger whole plays a vital and important part in keeping the machine functioning. With millions of species in the world, biodiversity is one of our biggest economic resources for medicine, food and natural materials, as well as flora helping to absorb greenhouse gases and the natural beauty of biodiversity for pure enjoyment. With so many species still undiscovered there is a strong anthropologic argument for preserving biodiversity as it could still hold the discovery to cures for the many illness and diseases we suffer. A healthy and diverse ecosystem is also a lot more likely to withstand and recover quicker from natural disasters, and equally helps to stabilize Earth’s climate.

It is hard to place a value on biodiversity, yet its inherent importance in our lives makes it a priceless asset. It is even harder to comprehend the wealth of biodiversity Earth holds; it is estimated Earth holds anywhere between five and 30 million different species, yet we have only discovered roughly 1.7-2million of these – less than half the smallest estimate. Yet scientists have acknowledged we are facing an extinction challenge, with at least 0.01% of species becoming extinct each year. Unsustainable development and exploitation of natural resources by humankind are largely to blame for this biodiversity crisis.

The economic reasons are literally everywhere. Everything around us is from nature. Even plastic. Plastic is a compound synthesized from petroleum, which is the left over carbon from life that existed millions of years ago. The spiritual reasons may seems exotic or even obtuse, but most people have something like a spiritual experience with nature. In the philosophy of aesthetics it is called an aesthetic moment. That could be watching the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico. Seeing a humpback whale breach off the east coast. A hummingbird taking nectar from your flower bed. A leech unblocking the clot from your wound. Hauling up a trap with your crab dinner. The mold derived compound that kills your infection. Charts and statistics are great for arguing some issues, but what makes us feel like we’re part of something bigger is hard to quantify in purely rational terms.

Am Stadtwaldweiher (Pond in the City Park)

Am Stadtwaldweiher (Pond in the City Park). gelatin silver print by August Sander. No date exact date. Part of his life long series of photographs made between 1876 and 1964.