we need more welfare for corporate america, spring flowers wallpaper

branch of spring flowers wallpaper

branch of spring flowers wallpaper

One Walmart’s Low Wages Could Cost Taxpayers $900,000 Per Year

Walmart wages are so low that many of its workers rely on food stamps and other government aid programs to fulfill their basic needs, a reality that could cost taxpayers as much as $900,000 at just one Walmart Supercenter in Wisconsin, according to a study released by Congressional Democrats on Thursday.

Though the study assumes that most workers who qualify for the public assistance programs do take advantage of them, it injects a potent data point into a national debate about the minimum wage at a time when many Walmart and fast food workers are mounting strikes in pursuit of higher wages.

Maybe tax payers should continue to subsidize the Walton family and other billionaires. The six Waltons—all children (one daughter-in-law) of Sam or James “Bud” Walton were only worth $69.7 billion in 2007. How can we expect for an entire family to get by on that kind of money. If they started paying all their employees a living wage and started a policy where by at least 80% of their products were made in the USA, they would be reduced to living on $60 billion. Maybe we could start a Walmart-Walgreen charity. Not to raise money for the greedy, thankful workers, but for the poor little Waltons.

red capped lighthouse in england

red capped lighthouse in england.

 Jennifer Lopez On ‘Britain’s Got Talent’: Singer’s Skimpy Outfit Sparks Outrage Among Viewers. yet another terrible tragedy. What happened is that the on/off control and the channel switch on millions of people’s television sets froze simultaneously. Thus they and their children were forced, probably by the same Martian rays that hit their TVs, into watching an attractive talented woman sing and dance in a custom they found offensive. Let us all have a moment of silence for these poor folks. We really need a law that forces all women to wear very baggy sweat-suits at all times.


scottish river bridge wallpaper, giving milton credit for inventing science fiction, ball gowns and cocktail dresses

scottish river bridge wallpaper

scottish river bridge wallpaper


 How John Milton Invented Science Fiction in the 1600s

Not to mention that the text of Paradise Lost is saturated in science. Milton met Galileo, for the first and only time, in a 1638 visit that Jonathan Rosen compared to “those comic book specials in which Superman meets Batman.” The “Tuscan artist” appears in Paradise Lost more than once. Book I compares Satan’s shield to the moon seen through a telescope. And the poem is studded with scientific details—“luminous inferior orbs” churning through outer space, descriptions of sunspots and seasons, creatures that evolve (according to divine plan, but still). Through it all, Milton, a storyteller, comes off as entranced by the laws governing the universe. (His mouthpiece in this regard is Adam, who cannot get enough of the angel Raphael’s disquisition on celestial motions in Book VIII.) There’s something very sci-fi about anyone who, while taking care to present his era’s astronomical theories as speculative, still likes to spin that speculation out into long descriptions of cosmic phenomena. Arthur C. Clarke would surely be proud.

Also, Milton kinda sorta thought that extraterrestrial life might be possible. In Book III of Paradise Lost, Satan flies down from Heaven to Earth, passing distant stars that, on closer inspection, turn out to be “other Worlds.” Other worlds with aliens on them? Could be! “Who dwelt happy there,” Milton explains, the archangel “stayd not to enquire.”

John Milton (9 December 1608 – 8 November 1674)  would have been exposed to the Baroque art of his era, but certainly the art of the Romanesque or Medieval art would have been all around him. Much of Romanesque art was other worldly. he would have likely seen depictions of the chimeras of Greek mythology, a fire-breathing female monster resembling a lion in front, a goat in the middle, and a dragon behind. Certainly Milton would have seen gargoyles used lining the tops of some public buildings and churches. Both as decorative elements that siphoned water off the building and also to ward off creatures or spirits from the nether world. Where in lies the problem with giving Milton too much credit. The legend of gargoyles themselves sounds like science fiction-fantasy. It is a fairly well-known legend that  St. Romanus  (AD 631–641) told stories of how he delivered the country around Rouen from a monster called Gargouille or Goji. That legend also only works well with a public not knowledgeable of the history of using “grotesques” around building roofs to help shed water that goes as far back as the Ancient Egyptians.

Ball gown late 1850 blue and white silk damask

Ball gown, late 1850. blue and white silk damask. part of the Custome Institute at the metropolitan museum of art. it is that time of the year where many are dressing up a bit to attend parties and dinners, and  happen to coincide with my recent reading of an e-book on the history of fashion. I honestly do not know if, as some assert, if fashion is art. this dress would have been extremely expensive. custom made for the customer. the cut at the waist, the neck line, part of a trend that, at the time, was considered modern and daring. while this dress or something similar in quality and workmanship would not have been available to the masses, if someone of proper social status wore it, that made it socially acceptable.

yves saint laurent cocktail dress c1964

yves saint laurent cocktail dress c1964. black silk cloque with black grosgrain-ribbon binding.
part of the Costume Institute collection at the metropolitan museum of art. today this dress is probably socially acceptable anywhere. a genuine classic. some variation of this dress has been sold millions of times over. it has been worn by every variety of race, religion and political leanings. it is a tasteful but nevertheless provocative outfit. it accentuates the derrière by curving in toward the back, it exposes part of the waist, it bares the arms and shoulders and highlights the bust line. someone once said that fashion is sex. they could have been talking about this dress.

While not a fan of Harry Nilsson Everybody’s Talking At Me I can appreciate the concept of talking, ethics and garbled nonsense about values, just becoming so much noise: Everybody’s talking at me/I don’t hear a word they’re saying/Only the echoes of my mind./People stopping staring/I can’t see their faces/Only the shadows of their eyes. – The Lie that Prosecuting Bank Fraud Will Destabilize the Economy Is What Is REALLY Destroying the Economy

The Departments of Justice and Treasury are pretending that criminally prosecuting criminal banksters will destabilize the economy.

The exact opposite is true.

Failing to prosecute criminal fraud has been destabilizing the economy since at least 2007 … and will cause huge crashes in the future.

After all, the main driver of economic growth is a strong rule of law.

Nobel prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz says that we have to prosecute fraud or else the economy won’t recover:

The legal system is supposed to be the codification of our norms and beliefs, things that we need to make our system work. If the legal system is seen as exploitative, then confidence in our whole system starts eroding. And that’s really the problem that’s going on.


I think we ought to go do what we did in the S&L [crisis] and actually put many of these guys in prison. Absolutely. These are not just white-collar crimes or little accidents. There were victims. That’s the point. There were victims all over the world.


Economists focus on the whole notion of incentives. People have an incentive sometimes to behave badly, because they can make more money if they can cheat. If our economic system is going to work then we have to make sure that what they gain when they cheat is offset by a system of penalties.

Though in the U.S. and much of Western Europe the powers that be, and for whatever reasons, a sizable minority of wage slaves see the bankers, hedge fund managers and the Mitt Romney leveraged buy-out specialists as demigods – a tiny army of John Galts. If we start throwing some of these criminals in jail it is like sending in unarmed martyrs to fight lions and tigers; a tragedy and a blasphemy. The people who feel this way are not a majority, but altogether they are a powerful and shrill minority. That watered down piece of financial regulation called Dodd-Frank has, like so many things, been compared to Stalinism and Nazism. I suspect the DOJ just doesn’t want to get tangled up in the political noise that would go with throwing people in jail. The bank that caused that gave rise to that editorial is going to pay $1.92 billion in penalties. Maybe that will be some incentive not to steal.

caitlin’s meadow wallpaper, the future of fashion may be in hagfish slime, dada and 291

caitlin's meadow wallpaper

caitlin’s meadow wallpaper. as i write this WordPress has this wonderful new bug that no matter where you try to insert a graphic, it places it at the top.

Even science posts try to use headings that grab attention and generate traffic. This one pretty much lived up to the hype, Hagfish Slime May Cover Models in Future Fashion Shows

Though hagfish clothes are still only a fashionista’s dream, researchers have completed the first step in making this idea a reality. They’ve harvested slime from the fish, dissolved it in liquid and reassembled its structure in a process not unlike spinning silk.

The slime is composed of a special protein belonging to the same family as bone and nails. It’s released from glands along the sides of the fish’s tube-like body. The slime smells like dirty seawater and feels like snot. Holding a glob of the stuff up in the air allows water to drip out of it, leaving behind a threadlike mush. The threads are 100 times smaller than a human hair, and the researchers think the concoction can eventually be woven together to produce a sustainable material with the same strength as nylon or plastic.

I had visions of massive tanks of poor hagfish being harvested for their special slime. The plan is, should it reach that point, is to transplant the slime making genes into bacteria. Cultivate the bacteria is massive industrial vats to make the new fabric or plastic. I can imagine the screen at dinner now: Nice shirt, what’s it made of? Nagfish spit and mucous. Oh, cool.

cover of 291, edited by Alfred Stieglitz, 1915.

cover of 291, edited by Alfred Stieglitz, 1915291 was an interesting publication both in content and breaking new ground in publishing. It was probably the first magazine to first express the dada esthetic in the United States. it was also the first magazine to attempt to be a work of art in itself.

We won the election, but with the media’s help with framing, the austerity zombies seem to be winning the messaging wars. There are a few reasons for this. One is that the average person hates to read about economics, thus doesn’t know anymore than Fox News or NBC tells them, The Obscenely Rich Men Bent on Shredding the Safety Net

2. “Reform” means rob. When the say “reform” the tax code, they mean “make taxes even lower for the rich.” The wealthy do not pay their fair share of taxes in the United States, which is a major reason there is a large deficit in the first place. When the very wealthy pay lower tax rates than ordinary working people, the result is an increasing redistribution of income upward that puts the U.S. in the top 30 percent in income inequality out of 140 nations, according to the Central Intelligence Agency [7]. We’re a shameful #42. Income inequality is not only unfair, it’s dangerous and makes society unstable.

[   ]….5. “Fiscal conservative” means economically confused. Longtime Wall Street executive Steve Rattner, one of Obama’s auto bailout czars, has been using his influence to attract tycoons from the financial industry to the Fix the Debt movement. Over the last year, Rattner has been on a crusade to convince Americans that they should put aside their worries about real crises like unemployment to focus on the deficit. Rattner, like many of his cohorts, poses as a moderate whose thinking is needed to counter the advice of respected economists like Nobel Prize-winners Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz, who have long been warning that defict hysteria is not only counterproductive, but based on a lack of understanding of how the economy actually works.

Political economist Thomas Ferguson, who teaches at UMass Boston and is a senior fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, described the dubious policies the fixers defend:

“Talk about the audacity of hope! The people who brought you the Great Recession by pushing deregulation and financial leverage to insane dimensions are back. Now they propose to ‘fix the debt’ by throwing average Americans who generously bailed them out in 2008-09 over the fiscal cliff.

One trusts that even in our money-driven political system, their transparently self-interested nonsense will be firmly rejected. There is no reason why anyone needs to do anything at all about Social Security for a long time; as even Peter Orszag admits in the fine print. It just isn’t a driver of the deficit.

neural ensembles form thoughts and memory, early winter river wallpaper, only the neurotic ask to be treated badly

Comparisons between computer processors and the brain have been around so long that they’re a conceptual cliché. I’ve been trying to avoid making that comparison for a few hours. One of the problems is that while brains in Blue whales or humans are not computing machines, they do have some things in common. Findings like this make the similarity that much more reasonable. Not at the very abstract thinking level, not at the level that produces inspired areas of inquiry or that create the odd mental chaos of our dreams, but at the level of electrical signals producing certain phenomenon, Brain waves encode rules for behavior

One of the biggest puzzles in neuroscience is how our brains encode thoughts, such as perceptions and memories, at the cellular level. Some evidence suggests that ensembles of neurons represent each unique piece of information, but no one knows just what these ensembles look like, or how they form.

A new study from researchers at MIT and Boston University (BU) sheds light on how neural ensembles form thoughts and support the flexibility to change one’s mind. The research team, led by Earl Miller, the Picower Professor of Neuroscience at MIT, identified groups of neurons that encode specific behavioral rules by oscillating in synchrony with each other.

The results suggest that the nature of conscious thought may be rhythmic, according to the researchers….

One definition of memory in computing is the use of a physical device used to store programs or a series of instructions which can be called upon on a temporary or permanent basis. The physical events that allow that to happen require electric pulses and code. The brain requires electro-chemical pulses and a code.

The researchers identified two neural ensembles in the brains of monkeys trained to respond to objects based on either their color or orientation. This task requires cognitive flexibility — the ability to switch between two distinct sets of rules for behavior.

“Effectively what they’re doing is focusing on some parts of information in the world and ignoring others. Which behavior they’re doing depends on the context,” says Tim Buschman, an MIT postdoc and one of the lead authors of the paper.

As the animals switched between tasks, the researchers measured the brain waves produced in different locations throughout the prefrontal cortex, where most planning and thought takes place. Those waves are generated by rhythmic fluctuations of neurons’ electrical activity.

When the animals responded to objects based on orientation, the researchers found that certain neurons oscillated at high frequencies that produce so-called beta waves. When color was the required rule, a different ensemble of neurons oscillated in the beta frequency. Some neurons overlapped, belonging to more than one group, but each ensemble had its own distinctive pattern.

Interestingly, the researchers also saw oscillations in the low-frequency alpha range among neurons that make up the orientation rule ensemble, but only when the color rule was being applied. The researchers believe that the alpha waves, which have been associated with suppression of brain activity, help to quiet the neurons that trigger the orientation rule.

“What this suggests is that orientation was dominant, and color was weaker. The brain was throwing this blast of alpha at the orientation ensemble to shut it up, so the animal could use the weaker ensemble,” Miller says.

The findings could explain how the brain can create any appropriate behavioral response to the countless possible combinations of stimuli, rules and required actions, says Pascal Fries, director of the Ernst Strungmann Institute for Neuroscience in Frankfurt, Germany.

“We likely compose the appropriate neuronal assembly on the fly through synchronization,” says Fries, who was not part of the research team. “The number of combinatorial possibilities is enormous, just like the number of possible 10-digit telephone numbers is.”

How are the orientation rules or the neurons that handle those rules coordinating with the ensemble of cells to handle recognition and response. Good question. That is one of the big mysteries of cognitive ability. If some neurons make some permanent or semi-permanent changes to remember how to respond to the shape of an object first, and then evaluate color, what deeper mechanism is signaling them to do so – the core of our hard-drive.

early winter river wallpaper

Ruth Marcus really needs to find some honest work, Is Paula Broadwell’s wardrobe fair game?

Some readers — some female readers, to be precise — chided me for sexism. “Why is it okay to imply that a woman who wears a halter top to show off her guns on ‘The Daily Show’ must be a seductress?” asked one e-mailer. “That is dangerously close to the mind-set that suggests women who are raped are somehow responsible because of the way they dress. Shame on you.”

Another reader, in a letter to the editor, wondered, “Are black silk halter tops the mark of some sort of vindictive, national security-threatening evildoer? Or was Marcus resorting to stereotypes?” Her conclusion: “Dumping on Broadwell because of how she dresses does a disservice to all women.”

These are reasonable points, reasonably made. So let me explain why my response is to double down on the halter comments.

I’ve read this argument in many forms over the years. Men have a uniform – suits, law enforcement or military uniforms. Women do not so they need to be very careful about not appearing to look sluttish. How can someone be so aware of social norms and not understand them. If men started wearing dresses and lip-gloss and women all stared wearing loose jeans with their shirt tales out would that change the truth or falsehood of what they say. No. What they say has merits or it does not, regardless of externalities. because we’re human and have perceptual biases does not mean that the truth changes. Women have more freedom in some ways, less in others – they can wear dresses or suits. So people like Ruth will have to do some mental work – like setting aside socially ingrained perceptions and seeing the substance of the person first and their fashion choices down the line. This is not about defending certain behaviors that M’s Broadwell has engaged in, that is another issue, only not to judge her by how she decided to dress. Marcus, perhaps unknowingly is making the pro burka argument. let’s cover all women up so sex can supposedly be removed from the viewers mind -male or female. The problem with a woman dressed in a sack or cardboard box is that once a man knows it’s a woman, his brain is going to go into female perception mode. While the prejudices invoked are slightly different, the same is true of women judging other women.

Of course Petraeus is responsible for his misconduct; my point was that he should have looked at her and known better. But she should have known better, too. No woman is responsible for being raped, no matter what’s she’s wearing. We are responsible, however, for the way in which we present ourselves publicly. We are asking for sexist treatment when we dress like sex objects.

No they’re not. While some people can be tremendously shallow and judgmental about fashion, how you judge someone is based frequently based on learned societal norms, not an essential reality. I somehow doubt that Marcus goes weeks without bathing and wears a baggy sweatsuit and old sneakers into the office. Some related history, When Did Girls Start Wearing Pink?

Little Franklin Delano Roosevelt sits primly on a stool, his white skirt spread smoothly over his lap, his hands clasping a hat trimmed with a marabou feather. Shoulder-length hair and patent leather party shoes complete the ensemble.

We find the look unsettling today, yet social convention of 1884, when FDR was photographed at age 2 1/2, dictated that boys wore dresses until age 6 or 7, also the time of their first haircut. Franklin’s outfit was considered gender-neutral.

But nowadays people just have to know the sex of a baby or young child at first glance, says Jo B. Paoletti, a historian at the University of Maryland and author of Pink and Blue: Telling the Girls From the Boys in America, to be published later this year. Thus we see, for example, a pink headband encircling the bald head of an infant girl.

Why have young children’s clothing styles changed so dramatically? How did we end up with two “teams”—boys in blue and girls in pink?

Art deco facade of Penn Way Drug Store, Miami, Florida. I’m not sure when the store was originally built, but the photo was taken in 1980. Those levered windows are a south Florida trademark.

Art deco center area looking from the south. Rockaway Point, NY. Again, not sure about the build date. The photo was done in 1990 by Jack E. Boucher. I’m ambivalent about a lot of art deco bric-a-brac, but the architecture has a wonderful timeless quality about it. It is so timeless that it ends up in a lot of science fiction films. Gattica is a very good example.

This is just one of the wonderful photo collections at this blog, Vintage Guitars

Sorry, but you’ll have to put up with some ads to watch this video. H/T to here and a review, Reviewed: Sing the Delta by Iris Dement

Religion is another reoccurring theme throughout Dement’s music (she’s the youngest of fourteen children raised in a conservative, tight-knit Pentecostal family). On Sing the Delta Dement examines her lapsed faith while still managing to find solace in the world around her. In “There’s a Whole Lotta Heaven” she sings, “We don’t have a prophet to tell us what our future holds / We’ve only got each other and the love we carry in our souls.”

Some how I got into a southern soulful mood this week, don’t worry I’ll snap at least partly out of it soon.

e e cummings birthday, park path autumn wallpaper, fashion as disguise

Today is the birthday of e e cummings (Edward Estlin Cummings) October 14, 1894 – Cambridge, Massachusetts, died September 3, 1962.


Over silent waters
day descending
night ascending
floods the gentle glory of the sunset
In a golden greeting
splendidly to westward
as pale twilight
comes the last light’s gracious exhortation
Lifting up to peace
so when life shall falter
standing on the shores of the
May I behold my sunset
over silent waters

By way of the book Eight Harvard Poets and Project Gutenberg.

birds on a wire

There is a lot of merit in the old adage that sons, or daughters, should not be held accountable for the sins of their father. Not your fault if you were born from an asshat. That said, Tagg Romney was set up in business by his father and has an active roll in his campaign, Tagg Romney’s Company Misled Reporters About Its Relationship With Ponzi Scheme–Linked Firm

When I interviewed him in Las Vegas, Tagg told me that his associates were “cleared” of any wrongdoing associated with the Stanford Ponzi scheme. Court documents directly contradict Tagg and show that the lawsuit has not been dismissed.

The New York Times followed up on my story with its own report and confirmed that Tagg’s business partners received incentive pay for selling bunk Stanford CDs. They wrote about one Stanford victim, a local Charlotte businessman and philanthropist named Herman Stone. Stone was pressured by Brandon Phillips, an executive working now for Tagg’s firm, into putting $2 million into a fraudulent Stanford CD and lost everything.

There also that old saying about like father like son. Tagg seems to have the same elitist looter world view as his father. Since it is generally true that rich white folks do not go to jail – there are occasional exceptions – Tagg will never be held to account in the criminal justice system. Hopefully those he defrauded may have some luck through civil action.

old park path autumn wallpaper

Publishing: A very public library. A New York City tech start-up wants to create a Spotify-like service for reading. A place where you can borrow books? The idea is that you check out an electronic book for an annual fee and you can pretty much keep it as long as you need to finish reading it. The author would be compensated by some amount for every time a book is checked out. The full story does note that musicians have not been thrilled by a similar arrangement with Spotify.

Anecdotes of Fashion or how throughout history men and women have used fashion to torture themselves and hide flaws.

If a reigning beauty chanced to have an unequal hip, those who had very handsome hips would load them with that false rump which the other was compelled by the unkindness of nature to substitute. Patches were invented in England in the reign of Edward VI, by a foreign lady, who in this manner ingeniously covered a wen on her neck. Full-bottomed wigs were invented by a French barber, one Duviller, whose name they perpetuated, for the purpose of concealing an elevation in the shoulder of the Dauphin. Charles VII. of France introduced long coats to hide his ill-made legs. Shoes with very long points, full two feet in length, were invented by Henry Plantagenet, Duke of Anjou, to conceal a large excrescence on one of his feet.

Ken Burns: Romney’s war on public TV is a loss for USA. PBS is mostly self supporting and accounts for about .01% of the federal budget. About the same amount of money Rush Limbaugh spends on bacon, which is 100% more than Jonah Goldberg spends on fact checkers for his columns and books.