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


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.

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.

nasa hangar one, the magic of the corporate nanny state

This and the following picture, Construction of Hangar One at NASA Sunnyvale circa 1931 – 1934. According to Wikipedia, the hangar is so large and the ceilings so high, there is occasionally some fog in the hangar.

We did not have a space program in the 1930s, but we did have a balloon program. The hangar has  been designated a Naval Historical Monument. Though no one wants to pay for upkeep and renovation, it may be sold off.

We have an one continuous magic show in the U.S. A bit of slight hand. Look over there are the people getting food assistance and other stuff “we” cannot “afford.” Do not look at the subsistence wages being paid or the corporate nanny state, “Believe It or Not!” 13 Mindblowing Facts About America’s Tax-Dodging Corporations

1. We’re told we can’t “afford” full Social Security benefits, even though closing corporate tax-haven loopholes would pay for Obama’s “chained CPI” benefit cut more than ten times over!

Abusive offshore tax havens cost the US $150 billion in lost tax revenue every year (via FACT Coalition). That’s $1.5 trillion over the next ten years.

The “chained CPI” cut, proposed by President Obama and supported by Republicans, is projected to “save” a total of $122 billion to $130 billion over the same time period by denying benefits to seniors and disabled people.

It’s true. “Serious” politicians and pundits are demanding that ordinary people sacrifice earned benefits, while at the same time allowing corporations to avoid more than ten times as much in taxes.

5. The amount of money US corporations are holding offshore is an estimated one trillion dollars!

Rather than tax these profits the way other countries do, corporate politicians are promoting a tax “repatriation” break that would let corporations “bring this money home” while paying even less than their currently low rates.

They tried that in 2004 and it didn’t create any jobs. In fact, corporations took the tax break and then fired thousands of people. What “repatriation” did do is line a lot of wealthy investors’ pockets.

So, naturally, they want to do it again.

Believe in the magic, it is better to be to outraged that someone bought a can of carbonated cola with their food stamps, than to be outraged corporations are leeching off the public for some serious amounts of cash.

Zephyr Dancing with Flora 1870

Zephyr Dancing with Flora (1870). By Giovanni Maria Benzoni(Italian, 1809-1873). While a surprising work, Benzoni seems to have taken liberties with ancient legends. Combining the Greek myths of the wind god Zephyr with the Roman legend of the goddess of flowers, Flora.

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.

the first parachuting nurses, changing technology and worshipping false gods

A nurse parachutist, having jumped, is about to open her parachute.

One of the first parachute nurses. WHO/Red Cross photo.

The first parachute nurses WHO/Red Cross photo.

The first parachute nurses WHO/Red Cross photo.

While it is great that the WHO/Red Cross makes these photos available, they do not supply dates. As best i can find out these nurses may have been part of the Emergency Flight Corps (1933) or the Aerial Nurse Corps of America (1936), both started by Lauretta M Schimmoler (1900-1981).

How Technology Is Destroying Jobs

Given his calm and reasoned academic demeanor, it is easy to miss just how provocative Erik Brynjolfsson’s contention really is. ­Brynjolfsson, a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and his collaborator and coauthor Andrew McAfee have been arguing for the last year and a half that impressive advances in computer technology—from improved industrial robotics to automated translation services—are largely behind the sluggish employment growth of the last 10 to 15 years. Even more ominous for workers, the MIT academics foresee dismal prospects for many types of jobs as these powerful new technologies are increasingly adopted not only in manufacturing, clerical, and retail work but in professions such as law, financial services, education, and medicine.

That robots, automation, and software can replace people might seem obvious to anyone who’s worked in automotive manufacturing or as a travel agent. But Brynjolfsson and McAfee’s claim is more troubling and controversial. They believe that rapid technological change has been destroying jobs faster than it is creating them, contributing to the stagnation of median income and the growth of inequality in the United States. And, they suspect, something similar is happening in other technologically advanced countries.

The issue addressed should be of concern, especially since economic policy and cultural attitudes about work in the U.S., Canada and western Europe is driven by right of center Chicago school of economics. Though one of the things that bothered me was the possibility this gives to the far Right to use as another excuse. As in oh well, no sense passing any Keynesian economic incentives because they are of no use in light of changing technology. Some basics still remain. If you start paying all  low wage workers at fast food places, Walmart, Target, Sears, etc a living wage they will spend more, thus drive more demand. Because of technology the multiplier effect might not be as great as the post WW II era, but fair wages would create jobs.

There are some good thoughtful comments. Some seeing the new age as an opportunity, if you get the education and training. The whole article and those comments are worth a click over.

And let me address this troll in the comments section, or the attitude and empty platitudes:

@kbillet The idea that reward is directly tied to how hard you work is definitely a mindset of a past generation. Compensation in today’s world is about your output, and the comparative cost of your labor. Also, many business owners have put their fortunes and lives on the line for a shot to make a business happen. As you mentioned yourself, not everyone has the skills, vision, and luck to pull that off. For those that make that leap, if they’re able to succeed (or at least successful be enough to employ a team of engineers and programmers), I have a hard time not justifying the return on the investment.

Isn’t that the essence of the American Dream? Or does fairness now mean that every one should be entitled to same pay regardless of contribution?

Since when is “how hard you work” not pretty much the same thing as “output”. Excepting those who run around appearing to keep very busy yet create little in terms of products or services, work is productivity. Why is it this guys never supply a modern example of some one who put their fortunes on the line. Would that be businessmen like George W. Bush who tanked three businesses and still came out OK because rich friends bailed him out. Would that be Mitt Romney who used other people’s money, including tax payers subsidies, drained businesses of profits then sold them off. After which which many went bankrupt. How about the Koch brothers who were born into wealth and just made some basic business moves that made them even more wealthy. They have not put their wealth on the line. If they wanted to they could live off the interests of their liquid assets for three lifetimes. Are all the CEOs who make millions a year regardless of profits, risk something? – what exactly, the cash to buy a third mansion. kbillet’s tunnel vision is all too common. Why isn’t a worker – say a skilled programmer, or sheet metal worker or fishing crew, risking everything by working for company B instead of company C. If that hero risk taker CEO at B screws up, he or she will still have millions ( most American workers are still recovering from the Great Recession, while corporate America is back to make per-recession profits).  The worker will have invested a year, five years or maybe twenty years with a company whose CEOs did not have the vision or the humanity to see how their decisions affected their workers. When we start thinking about inclusiveness, the connections and interdependence of people, that is the kind of fairness we should always be thoughtful of. He is implying some enforced socialistic dystopia, a corrupt ignorant hyperbole at the mere thought of economic justice incorporated into our economic system. Let’s not be mindful of how we conduct business in the world because there are these mythical John Galts who are doing everything, inventing everything, risking everything  – while the mindless lazy workers are hanging behind the shed smoking a doobie, instead of being down on their knees in gratitude for letting them ride the great man’s coattails.

hindenburg anniversary, evil has priorities, mind body anxiety

LZ 129 Hindenburg

The LZ 129 Hindenburg. Obviously from Life Magazine. While I deeply appreciate their making many of their older photos available to the public, they did not give a date or other details. It appears to be the Hindenburg under construction in its hangar on the shores of Lake Constance in Friedrichshafen. Today in 1937 the airship “Hindenburg” crashed. The Postal Museum has a good on-line exhibit about the Hindenburg and the Titanic here.

I could not do this. It is even difficult to read, but knowing about the thoughts of people who commit evil acts might help find solutions, James Dawes’s interviews with people who committed acts of atrocity were like “a guided tour of hell.”

IDEAS: Both the bombers and the war criminals you interviewed were able to set aside basic moral impulses in order to do what they did. Is that the first step to committing evil?

DAWES: In some ways working with these war criminals was hopeful, because it was clear the more I talked to them that it took a lot of work to make them into who they became. This idea that we are wolves just waiting to be unleashed upon each other just isn’t true. It just doesn’t ring true when you see what people like this have been through. Cultures have to do a lot of work beforehand.

[  ]…IDEAS: Some of the men you spoke to do seem to have had their own ethical guidelines. Even as they are committing atrocities, they have red lines they will not cross, like killing children.

DAWES: That was again both hopeful and despairing. For most of the men I spoke with, it was the story of killing children that was the hardest, the hardest to remember, the hardest to get them to talk about. So that was hopeful, that there did seem to be red lines. What was depressing was that it was the opposite when it came to women. Violence against women would come very quickly.

I can understand in the case of war criminals the following orders rationale, up to a point. Refusal to follow orders in many of those circumstances probably meant signing your own death warrant. Though there must be some point at which enough people can refuse, that it creates a moral epiphany for the worse of the perpetrators. They than have to decide to kill those they consider what the Nazis called Untermensch the subhuman, and murder their friends and comrades as well.

Rear Window, Italian movie poster

Rear Window, Italian movie poster. You might want to be on the look out for an original at garage sales and flea markets, printed on linen, they’re supposed to be worth several thousand dollars.

I Am Not This Body

Besides being squeamish about physicality, I resent how matter lords it over mind. Plato says in one of his dialogues, “Soul is the master, and matter its natural subject.” I agree that it ought to be so, but the facts are opposite. Whenever I get sick or injured, I am dismayed to discover how little control I have of my life. Because someone sneezed a germ too small to see into my bloodstream, my universe shrinks to a pillow and sheets. The mere calcium of my ankle, by breaking inopportunely, can cancel a carefully planned and paid-for vacation. My relation to my body resembles a privy council’s relation to an adolescent king. I am thoughtful and wise and know best what to do, but my capricious body possesses the power and final authority, and I must tiptoe round its whims.

I’ve posted a little in the past about the mind-body connection. I think most people have those moments when they look in the mirror and ask themselves, is that me, the physical me. While it is was interesting to read Mr. Stanley’s writing on the subject, it is something I have not so much worked through philosophically, as much as mentally wore the subject out. It is so tired it doesn’t have the energy to bother me much anymore. Once it a while it gives me a nudge just to let me know it is still there.