ye old pyrotechincs, dystopias do not happen over night




All three images from, Pyrotechnia, 1635.

Pyrotechnia or, A discourse of artificiall fire-works: in which the true grounds of that art are plainly and perspicuously laid downe: together with sundry such motions, both straight and circular, performed by the helpe of fire, as are not to be found in any other discourse of this kind, extant in any language. VVhereunto is annexed a short treatise of geometrie, contayning certaine definitions and problemes, for the mensuration of superficies and sollids, with tables for the square root to 25000, and the cubick root to 10000 latus, wherein all roots under those numbers are extracted onely by ocular inspection. VVritten by Iohn Babington gunner, and student in the mathematicks.

There have been a fair number of fairly good contemporary movies that describe a dystopian future – Blade Runner, Book of Eli, Dreed, The Hunger Games, Total Recall, Looper and In Time come to mind. One in which there is not a difference between the working class and the wealthy, but a future where the classes are as far apart as humans can be without living on different planets. Those dystopias do not happen over night. They happened one public policy change at a time. Sometimes aided with economic or national security disasters. I wonder if Hollywood is so good at presenting these dark futures in such a slick, almost beautiful and easily digested way, that people do not take the possibility seriously. Especially in light of the 2007 Great Recession in which conservatives fought financial reform and are still trying to repeal the modest reform we did achieve: More Evidence That US Middle Class is Sliding Toward the Third World and Texans Perry, Cruz Vie for Tax Plan That Gives Away The Most To the Wealthiest.




the movie that spawned a thousand movies, workers get the shaft with paycheck card

Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen

Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen, a still shot from the movie The Magnificent Seven(1960). The major premise of the movie, seven avengers who decide to protect a small poor village from bandits, was based on  Akira Kurosawa’s 1954 Japanese film Seven Samurai. Even if you have never seen The Magnificent Seven, you have. Just about every movie made since then that features a group of people banning to together to fight overwhelming odds, is based on these movies.

Paid via Card, Workers Feel Sting of Fees

But in the overwhelming majority of cases, using the card involves a fee. And those fees can quickly add up: one provider, for example, charges $1.75 to make a withdrawal from most A.T.M.’s, $2.95 for a paper statement and $6 to replace a card. Some users even have to pay $7 inactivity fees for not using their cards.

These fees can take such a big bite out of paychecks that some employees end up making less than the minimum wage once the charges are taken into account, according to interviews with consumer lawyers, employees, and state and federal regulators.

Paying a fee to access your meager wages. Some of the employers that issues these paycheck cards either refuse to use direct deposit into someone who has a no fee credit union account. Some do not tell employees they even have an option and some make employees fill out extra paperwork to use an alternative method of payment.

High School Students Learn Flight Basics

Girl student members of the Pre-Flight Squadron Flying Club of Polytechnic High School, Los Angeles, California, learn the basics of flying in J-17 training planes. 1944-04-28.

long exposure city traffic wallpaper, kafka and obamacare, the drive-in

city traffic wallpaper

city traffic wallpaper 1920×1080


 Adverse Effects of Ocean Acidification on Early Development of Squid (Doryteuthis pealeii). If you like the cute animals like penguins and seals, or the awful mammals like whales, then by default, because of the ocean food web, you need to care about the unglamorous squid.

Morning Ride on the Beach

Morning Ride on the Beach. Oil on canvas, 1876. By Anton Mauve. There are a few painting that have a calming effect, like lowering your blood pressure when you watch a fish aquarium. This painting has a similar effect for me. It doesn’t work if you start thinking about the modern costs of owning a horse. Mauve was a cousin by marriage to Vincent Van Gogh.

This is a fascinating look at Franz Kafka, Why we don’t understand Kafka; and also by way of looking at reality or our perception of reality, the bizarre way we debate public policy.

This brings out well how even the most learned and well-meaning critics, if they are not very careful, will start with a slight misreading and end in the further reaches of absurdity. For Kafka’s description of Steiner’s lecture and of their meeting follows the same pattern as everything else in the diary: he notes everything he sees and that happens to him with puzzled and scrupulous detachment. Pace Leavitt, he is not satirizing Steiner or the Frau Hofrat (or himself for the comedy with the hat), but merely noting it all, as though trying to pierce a mystery which is immediately comprehensible to everyone but himself.

One way to relate to what Kafka was thinking is what happens almost universally to everyone at one time or another when they look in the mirror. That is m face. I have sen it so many times. It is me, it is the physical body of myself. yet there are times when, that’s me? n ordinary event. An ordinary everyday reality feels a little surreal for the moment. So it is with public policy. The disinformation has become so common place that it works itself into the reality of the perception. Only when we pause to look carefully do we realize there are people and powers at work trying very hard to distort reality, to make more moments surreal, to doubt the reflection of truth. The older one gets the more than constant background buzz of doubt about what is obvious takes on it’s own presence, an ether in he air. It could stop if some people would stop living life creating demons from their own paranoia and foisting them on everyone else. Claim About Obamacare Reform “Rate Shock” Is “Unfounded,” Urban Analysis Finds and  Beyond Rebates, How Much Are Consumers Saving from Obamacare Medical Loss Ratio Provision?

Drive-in theater, Los Angeles, 1949

Drive-in theater, Los Angeles, 1949. By J. R. Eyerman—Time & Life. Drive-in theaters reached their peak in the 1950s at at 4,063 theatres. Despite DVDs and digital downloads there are still around  400 drive-ins in the United States, and 100 drive-ins outside the U.S. According to this essay, they’re becoming popular in China. The last time I went to one quite a few people backed up the rear of their SUVs and family vans to face the screen. They pulled out blankets, big pillows, got comfortable, bought a big bucket of popcorn and seemed to really enjoy the whole experience. I like the whole home nesting thing, but it is nice to get out once and a while. Drive-ins are one way to break cabin fever.

tiny biology has big impact, the consequences of a stagnant median wage

 Jean Seberg and Jean-Paul Belmondo in À Bout de Souffle (Breathless 1960)

Jean Seberg and Jean-Paul Belmondo in À Bout de Souffle (Breathless 1960).There was an American remake with Richard Gere. Not great, but interesting. Quentin Tarantino thinks it is “cool,” if that means anything. Both films keep to the basic premise, young women beware of jerks.


A recent NYT article looked at the important role of microbes in the human gut. Those microorganisms may have an effect on everything from weight loss to heart attacks to infections from yet other microorganisms. Little things can have a big impact, Microbial Changes Regulate Function of Entire Ecosystems

A major question in ecology has centered on the role of microbes in regulating ecosystem function. Now, in research published ahead of print in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology, Brajesh Singh of the University of Western Sydney, Australia, and collaborators show how changes in the populations of methanotrophic bacteria can have consequences for methane mitigation at ecosystem levels.

“Ecological theories developed for macro-ecology can explain the microbial regulation of the methane cycle,” says Singh.

In the study, as grasslands, bogs, and moors became forested, a group of type II methanotrophic bacterium, known as USC alpha, became dominant on all three land use types, replacing other methanotrophic microbes, and oxidizing, thus mitigating methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, explains Singh. “The change happened because we changed the niches of the microbial community.”

The pre-eminence of USC alpha bacteria in this process demonstrates that the so-called “selection hypothesis” from macro-ecology “explains the changes the investigators saw in the soil functions of their land-use types,” says Singh. The selection hypothesis states that a small number of key species, rather than all species present determine key functions in ecosystems. “This knowledge could provide the basis for incorporation of microbial data into predictive models, as has been done for plant communities,” he says.

Singh warns that one should not take the results to mean that biodiversity is not important. Without microbial biodiversity, the raw materials—different microbial species with different capabilities—for adapting to changes in the environment would be unavailable, he says.

Perhaps because of our physical size and brain size in proportion to body, humans tend to see detrimental change, if they bother to notice at all, solely on the macro level. If we clear cut a forest, we’ll just replant with a monoculture. If we fill in a wetland, we’ll mitigate that with a man-made lake. If we create huge mounds of mine wastes, we’ll just throw some grass and shrubs on there and everything will be fine. The real effect in the destruction of something very complex, that despite our large brains, we are not very good at replacing.

 Sidney Poitier and Juanita Hardy

Sidney Poitier and  Juanita Hardy. New York, NY. March 1959. Photo by Gordon Parks. Those who like to do the classic movie viewing night might want to give A Patch of Blue (1965) a try. Poitier has several classic movies on his resume, but Patch does not get the attention it deserves.

Our national crisis is not that most Americans have been living beyond our means, but our means have not kept up because of widening inequality:

The notion that we can’t afford to invest in the education of our young, or rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, or continue to provide Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid, or expand health insurance is absurd.

If the median wage had kept up with the overall economy, it would be over $90,000 today — and tax revenues would be more than adequate to cover all our needs. If the wealthy were paying the same marginal tax rate they were paying up to 1981, tax revenues would be far more.

Get it? The problem isn’t that most Americans have been living too well. The problem is we haven’t been living nearly as well as our growing economy should have allowed us to live.

Widening inequality is the culprit. If President Obama is looking for a central theme for his second term, this is it.

There is a video at the link. Robert Reich is like the Mr. Rogers of economics. Listening to him talk about a normally dry subject is a little less painful than it usually is.

cooper and stanwyck, duck dinosaur got a booboo, a few minutes with the great and cranky eggleston

Gary- Cooper, Barbara Stanwyck Great Balls

Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck a still shot from Great Balls of Fire (1941). One of, if not the last of the classic screwball comedies. The premise of Gary Cooper (Prof. Bertram Potts), who actors such as Clint Eastwood tried to be, as a nerdy professor of linguistics is hard to believe, but it was director Billy Wilder’s idea to cast him. It worked out incredibly well. Though Stanwyck (Sugarpuss O’Shea) was great and it is difficult to see anyone else in that role, Carole Lombard was the first choice and she declined. As TMC notes, if Lombard had taken the role it might have saved her life. Her plane accident happened during the premiere of this film.Great Balls of Fire is available on DVD. If you have not seen it, the slang will seem outdated, but it is still clever and because it is outdated, that adds some unintended comedy.

This is sad. I can imagine the poor duck-billed dinosaur trying to get away from all those teeth – I might watch too many movies. Anyway, Scarred Duckbill Dinosaur Escaped T. Rex Attack

A scar on the face of a duckbill dinosaur received after a close encounter with a Tyrannosaurus rex is the first clear case of a healed dinosaur wound, scientists say.

The finding, detailed in the current issue of the journal Cretaceous Research, also reveals that the healing properties of dinosaur skin were likely very similar to that of modern reptiles.

The lucky dinosaur was an adult Edmontosaurus annectens, a species of duckbill dinosaur that lived in what is today the Hell Creek region of South Dakota about 65 to 67 million years ago.

life guard, probably around 1900-1910.

life guard, probably around 1900-1910. this is what a lot of real heroes or their female counterparts look like, kind of average. if you were drowning, would you care that they did not look like a story book or celluloid fantasy.

I haven’t posted any video for a while. This is a pretty good, though Eggleston does kill the whole myth of southern charm:
William Eggleston – Imagine Documentary – Part 1

lava lamp and eight track wallpaper, some culture notes, this is what wing-nut welfare looks like

Some cultures notes:

“If I got rid of my demons, I’d lose my angels.” from Conversations with Tennessee Williams. Today is the anniversary of “Tennessee” Williams death, February 25, 1983. Williams wrote some of the most famous critically acclaimed plays of any American playwright. Some of which were made into movies, including Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Rose Tattoo, Orpheus Descending, The Night of the Iguana, Sweet Bird of Youth, and Summer and Smoke.

The Night of the Iguana is on my personal top 100 movies list. Not suitable for younger children. Adeline Virginia Woolf ( 25 January 1882 – 28 March 1941) was around for the new wave of art and entertainment called moving pictures. She wrote an essay about this wild new media phenomenon in 1926, Virginia Woolf on the Language of Film and the Evils of Cinematic Adaptations of Literature

People say that the savage no longer exists in us, that we are at the fag-end of civilization, that everything has been said already, and that it is too late to be ambitious. But these philosophers have presumably forgotten the movies. They have never seen the savages of the twentieth century watching the pictures. They have never sat themselves in front of the screen and thought how for all the clothes on their backs and the carpets at their feet, no great distance separates them from those bright-eyed naked men who knocked two bars of iron together and heard in that clangour a foretaste of the music of Mozart.

What do you think – do movies bring out the savage in us. Are they the end of culture and civilization.

lava lamp and eight track wallpaper

lava lamp and eight track wallpaper

While I am not among the millions of fans of Elizabeth Gilbert’s of Eat, Pray, Love, this travel essay she wrote for GQ is very good, Long Day’s Journey

sometimes in life, there is a thing you long for so deeply that you are willing to wait for years—almost lying in ambush!—until you can get it. Suppose there’s a woman you’ve always desired, but her heart belongs to another. You wait with one ear to the ground for the day you hear she’s left her fiancé, and then you approach. Or maybe there’s a job you’ve always fancied, or a wristwatch, or a car.

Even lusting in one’s heart is no longer politically correct. Though if you don’t tell anyone you can get away with it. It is fine for Elizabeth since she is a writer and has rent to pay.

The next two links are just two of the thousands if not millions ( literally) of what conservative welfare looks like:

Along with The Franklin Foundation and it’s professional propaganda machine we also have the Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund, and may the forces of the universe have mercy on this nation’s children, John Stossel, The Right-Wing Money Putting John Stossel In School Classrooms

The program now offers hundreds of free clips from Stossel’s shows and specials that claim to seriously address a range of academic subjects, including Art (“Why does Hollywood Hate Capitalism?”), Biology (“Debunking Food Myths”), and History (“The Real Story of Thanksgiving,” which explains “how the Pilgrims were hurt by sharing”).

“Stossel in the Classroom” also produces libertarian economics courses. The small team of economists that writes materials such as “Making Economics Come Alive with John Stossel” has multiple close ties to the Stavros Center for the Advancement of Free Enterprise and Economic Education at Florida State University.

The videos on the site are stacked with pundits echoing Stossel’s radical laissez-faire views.

If anyone is wondering what is wrong with laissez-faire economics, just think all the way back to the beginning of the Great Recession in 2008.

Why Does Glenn Beck Love Laissez-faire Capitalism, Yet Wants To Force All Cable Subscribers To Pay For His Conspiracy Theory Channel

Beck started promoting on Monday, asking fans to demonstrate to their television provider that there is wider demand for the libertarian channel. If his channel does get picked up by cable television providers, anyone who pays for cable will subsidize Beck’s channel, regardless of whether or not they watch it. As The New York Times explains, TV channels get small per-subscriber fees, whether or not the subscribers ever watch.

If Glenn Beck and his cult of followers want their own channel, that’s fine. Though why campaign to force this stellar product down everyone’s throat. We’re all already subsidizing Fox News. Why can’t Beck make his channel a premium channel like HBO. Those that want to subscribe can pay for it. If it is a great product the market will decide if it lives or dies. Just like the Randian style live or die capitalism he says he believes in.

Les Fumeurs or The Smokers by Fernand Leger

Les Fumeurs or The Smokers, 1911. By Fernand Leger in the Cubist style.

mielikki’s winter landscape wallpaper

mielikki's winter landscape wallpaper

mielikki’s winter landscape wallpaper

Mielikki is the old Finnish pagan god of forests and the hunt.

Mother of God, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson Made a Movie About Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Laws…

Snitch, directed and co-written by ex-stuntman Ric Roman Waugh, is a family drama about a father (played by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) who reunites with his estranged son after the kid is thrown in prison due to Draconian mandatory minimum sentencing laws.

…But in all seriousness, Johnson is an adept actor who handles the heavier emotions and grittier sequences here with ease and gravity. And Snitch is The Rock’s best critique of the War on Drugs since the satirical press-conference scene at the beginning of the 2010 Will Ferrell comedy The Other Guys—where New York cops played by The Rock and Samuel L. Jackson heartily defend inflicting $12 million worth of property damage in order to bust some criminals carrying only a quarter-pound of weed.

Unlike some action stars of the past,  like Arnold Schwarzenegger – who mastered one acting technique, being a menacing robot, Johnson can do the action and act. As an actor he doesn’t have all the control in the world about how screenplays are directed, given their overall tone or philosophical direction. Given that, most of his movies do lean more progressive than others. In real life he has expressed concerns over various social issues, abet in a soft spoken way. So it is not surprising that given the opportunity he has taken on punitive drug laws.

Oklahoma State Sen. Clark Jolley (R) seems to have read up on the worse tendencies of authoritarians regimes of the last hundred years. Instead of learning what not to do, he has taken lessons in governing from said regimes, Welcome to Oklahoma, Otherwise Known as The Conservative New Order of The Midwest, May Deny Women Affordable Birth Control Because It ‘Poisons Their Bodies’. Oral contraceptives are safer than aspirin. Yet one of Clark’s quack doctor friends says they “poison” women’s bodies. The ideology involved here may seem confusing. Conservative’s idea of being pro business is to allow corporate polluters to poison your water and air. They don’t care if you’re poisoned by toxic chemicals, only birth control pills. Conservatives say they are against government interfering in people’s personal lives, yet what could be more personal than having the government make one’s reproductive decisions for them. Maybe Jolley and Dr. Dominic Pedulla should be tested for drugs, especially hallucinogenics, before anyone passes any laws based on their ‘expert’ advice.

Weird news or new weird phrase to learn before the robots with AI take over, Roko’s basilisk

According to the proposition, it is possible that this ultimate intelligence may punish those who fail to help it, with greater punishment accorded those who knew the importance of the task. This is conventionally comprehensible, but the notable bit of the basilisk and similar constructions is that the AI and the person punished have no causal interaction: the punishment would be of a simulation of the person, which the AI would construct by deduction from first principles.