Sunday, February 28, 2010

where America stands as a country

This is probably the most neatly compact and lucid explanation of where America stands as a country as I have seen in many a moon. From Daily Kos:

Here’s the thing that modern advocates of the filibuster always seem to forget: because doing nothing represents a policy choice, votes in Congress are choices between two different policy positions. There’s no good reason why one side should need 41% to prevail, while the other side needs 60%.

Take the public option, for example: If you vote for the public option, you’re voting to give the public the option to buy insurance from a not-for-profit with the scale to negotiate good rates. If you vote against the public option, you’re voting to require everybody to purchase health insurance from private institutions.

There are reasonable arguments for and against each position. But there really isn’t a reasonable argument why one position should require 60% support and the other position should require 41%.

Isn’t it ironic that those carrying the banner of freedom and liberty would base their entire political strategy around minority rule?

thanks Dangerous Minds

and here Democracy Now discusses
Healthcare Summit Ending in Deadlock;
Single-Payer Advocates Excluded

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Vivienne Westwood says "Stop Buying Clothes"

I've been saying fashion is one of the most pure expressions of how rotten the capitalist consumerist system is. So let's read Vivienne Westwood's take.

From Richard Metzger at Dangerous Minds:
Vivienne Westwood’s pointedly anti-consumerist remarks backstage at London Fashion Week after her big show were taken by some as more “dotty” remarks by the great British designer, but they didn’t seem that way to me. Yes, there is certainly a, uh, tension between showing a new collection of clothes and then telling everyone assembled not to buy them, but do you think Westwood doesn’t know that?

And besides, since when is the pure act of telling the truth, somehow dotty in the first place? Have I missed something here? The woman’s 1000% correct. She should be commended for her commitment to the future of mankind—and speaking with common sense—and not mocked.

I actually met her once about ten years ago and she was a trip. My close friend Oberon Sinclair was doing some PR work for the opening of the Westwood boutique in New York and there was a big sit down dinner for a lot of people. Westwood didn’t know a lot—if any—of the people present and Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, who I attended the dinner with, gallantly and sweetly, sat down with Westwood to put her at ease. So I was along for the ride and we sat across from her for about two hours and she was a delight, if a little non-sequitur at times. (Not a judgement, just a description. People must say that about me all the time…)
One-of-a-kind designer Vivienne Westwood Sunday night presented a gorgeous collection of autumn and winter outfits at London Fashion Week, then went backstage and told reporters she hopes people stop buying her clothes.

“Stop all this consumerism,” said Westwood, the former high priestess of punk who has increasingly used her catwalk shows to spotlight her concern about climate change.

“I just tell people, stop buying clothes. Why not protect this gift of life while we have it? I don’t take the attitude that destruction is inevitable. Some of us would like to stop that and help people survive,” she said.
Below is part one of Dame Westwood’s interview on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross last year. I thought she was fucking awesome when I saw this. Part II is here. Both parts are well worth watching. When is the last time you heard a public figure speak this passionately about something?

Westwood Condemns Consumerism After London Show (ABC News)
Vivienne Westwood meets James Lovelock and talks climate change on video (Dazed Digital)

Friday, February 26, 2010

Bob "The Bullet" Biniak
original Z-Boy
Bad Ass Mother Fucker

Bob Biniak was someone I've known since I was probably twelve years old. You can read in my DogTown book how we first met--it would not be appropriate to include it here. But as his wife said in her note to some of his personal friends thursday afternoon: "Bobby loves Life and lived more in his short life than many us of can ever imagine to do." From what I knew of Bob I can attest to this not being an exaggeration or a cliché.

Back in DogTown's heyday Biniak was known as one of the toughest, hardest skating dudes out there. Few could match his skills skating the infamous pipes out in Arizona or on the vertical flat wall of Mt. Baldy. In pool skating he was a clear innovator as witnessed by my lens, and Craig Stecyk's even earlier when he was interviewed in SkateBoarder magazine's first ever "Pool Riding Symposium." Bob early on received the coveted "Who's Hot" bio, and later, only for the most respected riders, a full length interview in SkateBoarder. He was also voted as one of the top ten Skateboarders of the year in SkateBoarder magazine's first annual poll held in 1977.

In my personal experience he was far and away the toughest guy on the original Zephyr skateboard team. Bob drove a "Beemer" way before most of his comrades even had cars, or were rock-starring out. He led a life that early-on, spanned everything from rumored, sinister behaviors to a career in professional golf, while the rest of us were still just acting like kids. Bob waited for no one and was the ruler of every situation I ever saw him in. He leaves behind many friends and family including his wife Charlene and daughter Brie (now 5 years old). He suffered a massive cardiac arrest on Sunday and passed away Thursday at 12:51pm EST in Florida. He will be missed.

Here are a few more classic photos from my archive taken by Craig Stecyk that were included in our DOGTOWN - The Legend of The Z-Boys book, and my color shot of BB at the Dog Bowl that was the last page in his 1977 SkateBoarder Magazine interview, and in my book Fuck You Heroes.

Just found this great photo
shot by the late Warren Bolster.

UPDATE: New blog started by the family & friends: Biniak Bulletins

and from ABC NEWS "This Week" :

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Good News: HUMMER is DEAD!
maybe there is hope...

G.M. to Close Hummer After Sale Collapses

Published: February 24, 2010
DETROIT — General Motors said on Wednesday that it would shut down Hummer, the brand of big sport utility vehicles that became synonymous with the term gas guzzler, after a deal to sell it to a Chinese manufacturer fell apart.

The buyer, Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machines, said in a statement that it had withdrawn its bid because it was unable to receive approval from the Chinese government, which was trying to put a new emphasis on limiting China’s dependence on imported oil and protecting the environment.

Tight financial markets also hurt the deal. When the commerce ministry did not bless the transaction, the well-capitalized Chinese banks became reluctant to lend money to Sichuan Tengzhong even though it tried to set up an overseas subsidiary to buy Hummer. That left Sichuan Tengzhong trying to borrow money from Western banks that have been curtailing their lending even to established borrowers, much less a little-known company from western China.

A spokesman for Hummer, Nick Richards, said G.M. had no specific timetable for completing the wind-down, but left open the possibility that G.M. would be open to new bids.

“We just reached this decision today, so we’re just beginning the process,” Mr. Richards said. “Typically, winding down a brand can take several months. If there are viable alternatives for part of the brand or all of the brand during the process, we’ll consider them.”

G.M. had been trying to sell Hummer for nearly two years, and struck a preliminary deal with Tengzhong in June. The two companies had planned to complete the $150 million deal by the end of January, then delayed the deadline by a month in the hopes of receiving approval from China.

“We have since considered a number of possibilities for Hummer along the way, and we are disappointed that the deal with Tengzhong could not be completed,” John Smith, G.M.’s vice president for corporate planning and alliances, said in a statement. “G.M. will now work closely with Hummer employees, dealers and suppliers to wind down the business in an orderly and responsible manner.”

Over the years, Hummer shifted from a brawny status symbol that drew attention on the road into an automotive pariah. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California helped the brand become popular and once owned a fleet of Hummers, but more recently, he described the brand as prime evidence of the Detroit automakers’ failings.

Still, dealers and fans were optimistic that Hummer could live on.

They expected to see smaller, more fuel-efficient models introduced under Tengzhong that would help the brand “get away from people just thinking it was a big gas hog,” said Danny Hill, the general sales manager at Classic Hummer in Grapevine, Tex.

“It is a great, great vehicle that really does anything you want it to do,” Mr. Hill said. “It had a great concept to it. It’s a real shame that it’s going away, because the people who own Hummers, they just love them.”

It was the third time since G.M. emerged from bankruptcy protection last year that a deal to sell one of its unwanted brands collapsed. The company is shutting down Saturn, and it began to halt operations at Saab after an agreement with Koenigsegg in Sweden was called off. G.M. later reached an agreement with a Dutch company, Spyker Cars; that deal was completed on Tuesday.

G.M. is also closing Pontiac, but it never tried to sell that brand. The carmaker is focusing on its Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC brands as it works to recover from bankruptcy.

G.M. said it would honor Hummer warranties and provide service and parts to Hummer owners worldwide. Hummer has nearly 400 dealerships globally, including 153 in the United States.

The announcement was celebrated by environmentalists, who have long pressed G.M. simply to kill the brand, which was born from military Humvees in 1992. G.M. acquired it in 1999.

“Closing Hummer simultaneously improves the health of G.M., China and the planet,” said Daniel Becker, director of the Safe Climate Campaign at the Center for Auto Safety in Washington. “Hummer should rest in pieces.”

About 3,000 jobs in the United States could be affected by the shutdown, including positions at G.M. and dealerships. A factory in Shreveport, La., that builds the Hummer H3 and H3T, as well as other G.M. trucks, already was scheduled to close by 2012.

The larger H2 was built for G.M. by A. M. General in Mishawaka, Ind., until December, when production was temporarily halted to allow the sale process to conclude.

Mr. Richards said Hummer dealers in the United States had about 2,500 vehicles in their inventories. In January, the brand sold just 265 units in the country. Hummer sales plunged 67 percent in 2009, to a total of 9,046.

The deal would have made Tengzhong the first Chinese company to sell vehicles in North America, though it planned to keep Hummer’s operations in the United States.

“Tengzhong worked earnestly to achieve an acquisition that it believed to be a tremendous opportunity to acquire a global brand at an attractive price,” Tengzhong said in its statement.

Tengzhong’s bid for Hummer was an audacious move, particularly by Chinese standards. The company is privately held, so it did not have the connections in Beijing that many government-owned enterprises enjoy.

Keith Bradsher contributed reporting from Hong Kong.

And here was a great campaign that started the "Official H2 salute"

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

15 House Plants You Can Use As Air Purifiers

A NASA research document came to the conclusion that 'house plants can purify and rejuvenate air within our houses and workplaces, safeguarding us all from any side effects connected with prevalent toxins such as formaldehyde, ammonia and also benzene.'

Here are 15 plants that could clean your air for just the price of a few drops of water each day.

Thanks, presurfer

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

If you still smoke or are under 30 and smoke, you're a fucking idiot.

This website collects dozens of anti-smoking campaigns from around the world. Fascinating to look at how the same brief can be approached again and again.

[Three of my favorites above]

from osocio
Social advertising and non-profit campaigns from around the globe

Seriously, maybe you're not an idiot, but i feel sorry for you and anyone who has to be around you. It's dirty, it's un-healthy, and it's totally conservative to take a product from a major corporation and be proud that it's killing you. You're not a rebel, you're a sucker, and if you buy into any reason why you should be allowed to do this and it's against your civil liberties for anyone to keep you from doing this, then you really are an idiot.

I know people who have horribly debilitating injuries fro SECOND HAND SMOKE, and of course we all know people who have died from different cancers brought on or exacerbated by smoking, so what the fuck? I've NEVER done it and never will. I'm so happy i didn't get peer pressured into that. Those propaganda films i got in grade school also worked on me. As well, my father always told us, "if i ever see you or hear about you smoking i'll break your arms". They worked - i'm grateful.

I've always hated smoking. I can't imagine how much greater it would have been in the years when i used to go out almost every night of the week, how much later i would have stayed out or how many more shows i would have seen if the smoke in those little clubs didn't always make me so sick. You have NO IDEA how lucky you are if you still go out that you don't have to breath that shit every time you go out like we used to. Not to mention (as i have in this blog before i think) how people who still smoke litter the fucking streets as though cigarette butts biodegrade like leaves, it constantly bums me out, this little sign of selfishness repeating itself over and over in the street almost every step one takes, all the time, pigs!

Monday, February 22, 2010

TrustoCorp Guerilla Signs

These signs are spotted in the streets of Manhattan, Miami, Los Angeles, Detroit, Philadelphia and Williamsburg USA. They are made by TrustoCorp, but who the people are behind this name is unknown. Very clever, some are hardhitting, others are hilarious. At least it will give passers something to think about.

See many more pictures at the TrustoCorp Flickr page.

from ososcio

Sunday, February 21, 2010

"Produce produce, and people will partake"
Frugan Living

Fairfax loves a bargain. She loves one so much she is willing to eat food that others have thrown away. She buys plain coffee at cafes and adds milk, which is much cheaper than buying a latte. She holds dinner parties where people bring stuff they no longer want and swap it. She finds lots of good books to read in "trash receptacles surrounding college dormitories at the end of the year." She takes photos of her finds, scores, and tips at her blog, called Frugan Living.


• After catering an event, a friend of mine was saddened to see tray after tray of untouched food tossed out, so she brought me approximately 79 pounds of pesto pasta. I froze it in baggies, and have enjoyed a plate of it weekly for going on three months.
• I recently secured $50 selling two charcoal BBQs that I found on the street and ended up having no room for. Two posts, two emails, two 3 minute exchanges. Now I have pocket cash and less clutter, an Irish lady has the means to cook on her camping trip, and the Broke-ology set at Lincoln Center Theater has a prop. Three winners!

•A couple months ago I collected many books from the dumpsters at Columbia and NYU. The other day I finally got around to posting a couple on Amazon, not really expecting them to sell given a presumed summertime lull in textbook sales. Lo and and behold, I am now $140 wealthier! And two more people can gain knowledge (or not, based on how pristine these books were) from the pages of those trees. Aren't trees and trash generous!!

Frugan Living
Thanks, BoingBoing

Saturday, February 20, 2010

An Incredible, Beautiful, Informative Documentary

I just watched the entire movie on line. It's AWESOME.

It's on line once again at YouTube, watch the whole thing free here in HD and hit the button to fill your screen... You won't be disappointed (except perhaps in those humans who refuse to care or do anything to change.)

We are living in exceptional times. Scientists tell us that we have 10 years to change the way we live, avert the depletion of natural resources and the catastrophic evolution of the Earth's climate.

The stakes are high for us and our children. Everyone should take part in the effort, and HOME has been conceived to take a message of mobilization out to every human being.

For this purpose, HOME needs to be free. A patron, the PPR Group, made this possible. EuropaCorp, the distributor, also pledged not to make any profit because Home is a non-profit film.

HOME has been made for you : share it! And act for the planet.

Yann Arthus-Bertrand (Director)

HOME official website

PPR is proud to support HOME

HOME is a carbon offset movie

More information about the Planet

Friday, February 19, 2010

New Documentary ‘Forks Over Knives’ Reveals Benefits Of Vegan Diet

Plant-based power is a real thing and taking the world by storm!

In the new film Forks Over Knives Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn examine the profound claim that most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by adopting a plant-based, whole foods diet. Read: the greenest diet on the planet!

Featured in the film are a plethora of well known doctors and experts…and even appearances by some of our favorite vegan powerhouses, like UFC Fighter Mac Danzig.

Forks over Knives is slated to be released in Summer of 2010 and we’re pretty sure it’s going to take the world by storm! Sound cool? Check out the trailer below and visit to learn more!

from Ecorazzi

BOUNS LINK to "We Can eat to starve cancer" from the TED 2010 conference

Thursday, February 18, 2010

1973 Soul Train Line Dance
to The O'Jays "Love Train"

There is very little as cool as this, or as our friends at BoingBoing said:
If this video does not make you measurably happier than before you clicked "play," your heart is a cold, dead wasteland. Update: some commenters believe that the heavy-set fellow in the dashing sweater vest around 1:08 is Fred "Rerun" Berry, who did indeed dance on Soul Train around this time.

and here's a few more incredible moments on the Sou; Train line
Soul Train Line Dance to Aretha Franklin "Rock Steady"
Soul Train LIne Dance to Curtis Mayfield "Get Down"
Soul Train Line to "Ballero" by War
Soul Train Line Dance to Glady's Knight & The Pips
Soul Train Line Dance to Earth Wind & Fire's "Mighty Mighty"

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

the ALL AGES Movement project

As Kathleen said in her blog " THIS IS SO FUCKING COOL!"


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Bikini Kill Archive Blog
well worth checking out!

Announcement from Kathleen Hanna's own personal blog is that she and former bandmates have started a great new blog
Please add your Bikini Kill story to this blog! It can be totally off the top of your head and doesn’t need to be fancy. Maybe it’s your reaction to a song we wrote, something weird that happened at one of our shows, a personal anecdote or just WHATEVER. Feel free to send images too!
check it out

Monday, February 15, 2010

Frisbee inventor dies at 90

Walter Frederick Morrison, from Utah, got the idea for the Pluto Platter after tossing cake tins on the beach.Walter Frederick Morrison holding a Frisbee in 1957, the year he sold the rights to the plastic flying disk he is credited with inventing. Photograph: AP

Walter Frederick Morrison, the man credited with inventing the Frisbee, has died at the age of 90.

Lawyer Kay McIff, who represented Morrison in a royalties case, said the American inventor died at his home in Monroe, Utah, on Tuesday.

"That simple little toy has permeated every continent in every country, as many homes have Frisbees as any other device ever invented," McIff, who is from Morrison's hometown, Richfield, Utah, said. "How would you get through your youth without learning to throw a Frisbee?"

Morrison's son, Walt, told The Associated Press this week that "old age caught up" with his father and that he also had cancer.

"He was a nice guy. He helped a lot of people," he said. "He was an entrepreneur. He was always looking for something to do."

Morrison sold the production and manufacturing rights to his Pluto Platter in 1957. The plastic flying disc was later renamed the Frisbee, with sales surpassing 200m discs. It is now a staple at beaches and spawned sports such as Frisbee golf and the team sport Ultimate.

Morrison co-wrote a book with Frisbee enthusiast and historian Phil Kennedy in 2001. Kennedy released a brief statement on Thursday, wishing his late friend "smoooooth flights".

According to Kennedy, Morrison and his future wife, Lu, used to toss a tin cake pan on the beach in California. The idea for what would become the Frisbee grew as Morrison considered ways to make the cake pans fly better and, after serving as a pilot in the second world war, he began manufacturing his flying discs in 1948.

He would hawk the discs at local fairs and eventually attracted Wham-O Manufacturing, the company that bought the rights to Morrison's plastic discs.

Kennedy says Wham-O adopted the name Frisbee because that's what college students in New England were calling the Pluto Platters. The name came from the Frisbie Pie Co, a local bakery whose empty tins were tossed like the soon-to-be Frisbee.

Walt Morrison said his father is survived by three children.
from the Guardian UK

(thanks Doug!)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentines Day - The astonishingly painful Sid and Nancy “interview” from D.O.A.

thanks DangerousMinds

The History of Valentine's Day (from

Every February, across the country, candy, flowers, and gifts are exchanged between loved ones, all in the name of St. Valentine. But who is this mysterious saint and why do we celebrate this holiday? The history of Valentine's Day — and its patron saint — is shrouded in mystery. But we do know that February has long been a month of romance. St. Valentine's Day, as we know it today, contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition. So, who was Saint Valentine and how did he become associated with this ancient rite? Today, the Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred.

One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men — his crop of potential soldiers. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine's actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.

Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons where they were often beaten and tortured.

According to one legend, Valentine actually sent the first 'valentine' greeting himself. While in prison, it is believed that Valentine fell in love with a young girl — who may have been his jailor's daughter — who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter, which he signed 'From your Valentine,' an expression that is still in use today. Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories certainly emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic, and, most importantly, romantic figure. It's no surprise that by the Middle Ages, Valentine was one of the most popular saints in England and France.

While some believe that Valentine's Day is celebrated in the middle of February to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine's death or burial — which probably occurred around 270 A.D — others claim that the Christian church may have decided to celebrate Valentine's feast day in the middle of February in an effort to 'christianize' celebrations of the pagan Lupercalia festival. In ancient Rome, February was the official beginning of spring and was considered a time for purification. Houses were ritually cleansed by sweeping them out and then sprinkling salt and a type of wheat called spelt throughout their interiors. Lupercalia, which began at the ides of February, February 15, was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus.

To begin the festival, members of the Luperci, an order of Roman priests, would gather at the sacred cave where the infants Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, were believed to have been cared for by a she-wolf or lupa. The priests would then sacrifice a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification.

The boys then sliced the goat's hide into strips, dipped them in the sacrificial blood and took to the streets, gently slapping both women and fields of crops with the goathide strips. Far from being fearful, Roman women welcomed being touched with the hides because it was believed the strips would make them more fertile in the coming year. Later in the day, according to legend, all the young women in the city would place their names in a big urn. The city's bachelors would then each choose a name out of the urn and become paired for the year with his chosen woman. These matches often ended in marriage. Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. Valentine's Day around 498 A.D. The Roman 'lottery' system for romantic pairing was deemed un-Christian and outlawed. Later, during the Middle Ages, it was commonly believed in France and England that February 14 was the beginning of birds' mating season, which added to the idea that the middle of February — Valentine's Day — should be a day for romance. The oldest known valentine still in existence today was a poem written by Charles, Duke of Orleans to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt. The greeting, which was written in 1415, is part of the manuscript collection of the British Library in London, England. Several years later, it is believed that King Henry V hired a writer named John Lydgate to compose a valentine note to Catherine of Valois.

In Great Britain, Valentine's Day began to be popularly celebrated around the seventeenth century. By the middle of the eighteenth century, it was common for friends and lovers in all social classes to exchange small tokens of affection or handwritten notes. By the end of the century, printed cards began to replace written letters due to improvements in printing technology. Ready-made cards were an easy way for people to express their emotions in a time when direct expression of one's feelings was discouraged. Cheaper postage rates also contributed to an increase in the popularity of sending Valentine's Day greetings. Americans probably began exchanging hand-made valentines in the early 1700s. In the 1840s, Esther A. Howland began to sell the first mass-produced valentines in America.

According to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated one billion valentine cards are sent each year, making Valentine's Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year. (An estimated 2.6 billion cards are sent for Christmas.)
Approximately 85 percent of all valentines are purchased by women. In addition to the United States, Valentine's Day is celebrated in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France, and Australia.

Valentine greetings were popular as far back as the Middle Ages (written Valentine's didn't begin to appear until after 1400), and the oldest known Valentine card is on display at the British Museum. The first commercial Valentine's Day greeting cards produced in the U.S. were created in the 1840s by Esther A. Howland. Howland, known as the Mother of the Valentine, made elaborate creations with real lace, ribbons and colorful pictures known as "scrap".

Saturday, February 13, 2010

We're Gonna Have a Tea Party Tonight!

(how can i not re-post this blog on his birthday)

from Henry Rollins
Vanity Fair blog
The head spins. This will take days to filter. Days? Weeks, months even. There’s Tom Tancredo’s recent baby’s-up-past-bedtime blather at a Tea Party event about the “cult of multiculturalism”—wow! Mr. T, do you really want to have a literacy test for voters? Think if they had one when you ran for office that you would have been elected? Oliver North’s melding of homosexuality and pedophilia on Fox News when he flexed his mini-mind and ranted paranoid on the topic of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell—righteous! Ollie, you need better makeup to hide the gills on your neck! Don’t Ask Oliver North where he can get one solid fact to back up his bizarre assertions. Don’t Tell the shamed ex-Marine that the military already has thousands of brave homosexual men and women serving their country and defending the Constitution, who would never think of behaving as he did back in the Iran-Contra days. Then again, why bother with Lieutenant Colonel North? He’s an irrelevant relic of the failed Reagan administration.

Then there’s Sarah Palin, who, egged on by other intellectually malnourished “real Americans,” has said so many startlingly stupid things in the last few days, the comedic furnaces won’t be cooling down any time soon! She’s a dynamo of dumbassity! An inferno of idiocy! Yes, Ms. Palin, 2012 is almost in your grasp! Reach for the stars, get a map, find Iran, start another pointless war we can’t afford! Score!

Just when America really needs to get to work and move forward, some of the dimmest bulbs in the country decide it’s time to turn on and lead the race to the bottom. Christian groups freaked out by the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act and its threat to their religious freedom to hate homosexuals—don’t worry, homophobes! The First Amendment protects your right to tell the world that gays are hell-bound! No one’s trying to impose a “homosexual agenda” on you! The rest of us are just trying to impose some much-needed decency and cultural evolution. I know, I know, fear the change, fear the equality, progress, blahblahblah …

You silly grown-ups! The future is hilarious and very problematic, thanks to you. Cheer up! I’ll do my best to track your epic, very public nosedive.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Charles Mingus - Fables of Faubus - Black History Month

from Jazz on the Tube
In 1957 the Governor of Arkansas, Orval Faubus, ordered the state's National Guard to prevent the integration of Little Rock Central High School by nine African-American teenagers. President Eisenhower was slow to react and enforce the Supreme Court's decision, Brown vs Board of Education. Twenty days after the initial incident the President federalized the Arkansas' National Guard and sent in army's 101st Airborne Division to help the nine students enter the school safely. This event marked the first time racism in the South was on network television for the entire country to watch over almost a month long span.

Charles Mingus wrote the song 'Fables of Faubus' as a response to this event and show his anger and disgust at the racism endured by black people in America. The song was first recorded for Mingus' album Mingus Ah Um in 1959 on the Columbia label though they would not allow the lyrics to be included. In 1960 Mingus was able to record the song on the Candid label with lyrics on his album Charles Mingus Presents Charles Mingus. The lyrics include a call and response between Mingus and drummer Dannie Richmond.

"Mingus, as you know, was outspoken. He used the bandstand as a soapbox to communicate what was on his mind—about the ills of society, the inequities and the social injustice. He spoke out at all times, not just about people making noise in clubs during performances but also about political and social issues. This was a musical communication about his feelings, not to be confused with political protest. Mingus only wrote six or seven political compositions with lyrics, but he was not didactic. His purpose with his music wasn’t to confront social injustice. He was too much of a composer for that. But he did vent on the bandstand vocally about anything he felt was wrong or unfair. Back then, that took courage." - Sue Mingus

Click Here for more videos of Charles Mingus.

Thanks, Basheer!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Prayer Vs. Action

It has an error, though. Prayer is not quick. The Bible says that people should "pray without ceasing."

from J-walk blog via DangerousMinds

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Liquid glass will change your life

A Turko-German consortium has announced a liquid glass product "that will revolutionize everything" (it's a "new kind of glass," as Mr Wolfram might put it). Seriously, it sounds like the applications for this stuff are endless, and yes, that's what everyone said about aerogel and the Segway, but maybe this time... They're shipping to the UK soon, but "many supermarkets, may be unwilling to stock the products because they make enormous profits from cleaning products that need to be replaced regularly, and liquid glass would make virtually all of them obsolete."

Goddammit, Big Detergent is screwing up my future again!

Spray-on liquid glass is transparent, non-toxic, and can protect virtually any surface against almost any damage from hazards such as water, UV radiation, dirt, heat, and bacterial infections. The coating is also flexible and breathable, which makes it suitable for use on an enormous array of products.
The liquid glass spray (technically termed "SiO2 ultra-thin layering") consists of almost pure silicon dioxide (silica, the normal compound in glass) extracted from quartz sand. Water or ethanol is added, depending on the type of surface to be coated. There are no additives, and the nano-scale glass coating bonds to the surface because of the quantum forces involved. According to the manufacturers, liquid glass has a long-lasting antibacterial effect because microbes landing on the surface cannot divide or replicate easily.

Other organizations, such as a train company and a hotel chain in the UK, and a hamburger chain in Germany, are also testing liquid glass for a wide range of uses. A year-long trial of the spray in a Lancashire hospital also produced "very promising" results for a range of applications including coatings for equipment, medical implants, catheters, sutures and bandages. The war graves association in the UK is investigating using the spray to treat stone monuments and grave stones, since trials have shown the coating protects against weathering and graffiti. Trials in Turkey are testing the product on monuments such as the Ataturk Mausoleum in Ankara.

The liquid glass coating is breathable, which means it can be used on plants and seeds. Trials in vineyards have found spraying vines increases their resistance to fungal diseases, while other tests have shown sprayed seeds germinate and grow faster than untreated seeds, and coated wood is not attacked by termites. Other vineyard applications include coating corks with liquid glass to prevent "corking" and contamination of wine. The spray cannot be seen by the naked eye, which means it could also be used to treat clothing and other materials to make them stain-resistant. McClelland said you can "pour a bottle of wine over an expensive silk shirt and it will come right off".

Spray-on liquid glass is about to revolutionize almost everything (Thanks, Rick! Via BoingBoing)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Entire Jon Stewart interview on the total asshole show. "Full unedited video"

I took the time to find you all five parts NOT on the Faux Nooze site.

This is probably the only video i have ever embedded from the assholes over at Faux nooz, just watch Jon Vs. the piece of shit. And never support them by watching them in any way shape or form again.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Washington Post's graphs of federal budget deficit

The Washington Post has several interesting graphs about federal spending.
Since 1930, the federal government has run deficits in all but eight years. As a percent of the overall economy, the annual gap between spending and revenue is at its highest since WWII.
Explore the various facets of the government's budget and see how revenues and spending have changed over time.

thanks BoingBoing

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Letter from Mark Twain to a snake oil peddler: "You, sir, are the scion of an ancestral procession of idiots stretching back to the Missing Link"

From "Letters of Note" blog
In November of 1905, an enraged Mark Twain sent this superb letter to J. H. Todd, a patent medicine salesman who had just attempted to sell bogus medicine to the author by way of a letter and leaflet delivered to his home. According to the literature Twain received (p1,p2,p3,p4), the 'medicine' in question - The Elixir of Life - could cure such ailments as meningitis (which had previously killed Twain's daughter in 1896) and diphtheria (which had also killed his 19-month-old son). Twain, himself of ill-health at the time and very recently widowed after his wife suffered heart failure, was understandably furious and dictated the following letter to his secretary, which he then signed.

Transcript follows.

Nov. 20. 1905
J. H. Todd
1212 Webster St.
San Francisco, Cal.

Dear Sir,

Your letter is an insoluble puzzle to me. The handwriting is good and exhibits considerable character, and there are even traces of intelligence in what you say, yet the letter and the accompanying advertisements profess to be the work of the same hand. The person who wrote the advertisements is without doubt the most ignorant person now alive on the planet; also without doubt he is an idiot, an idiot of the 33rd degree, and scion of an ancestral procession of idiots stretching back to the Missing Link. It puzzles me to make out how the same hand could have constructed your letter and your advertisements. Puzzles fret me, puzzles annoy me, puzzles exasperate me; and always, for a moment, they arouse in me an unkind state of mind toward the person who has puzzled me. A few moments from now my resentment will have faded and passed and I shall probably even be praying for you; but while there is yet time I hasten to wish that you may take a dose of your own poison by mistake, and enter swiftly into the damnation which you and all other patent medicine assassins have so remorselessly earned and do so richly deserve.

Adieu, adieu, adieu!

Mark Twain
You're an idiot of the 33rd degree

Friday, February 5, 2010

Call for a Constitutional amendment on campaign financing

Eric sez, "Today, Larry Lessig announced his call for a constitutional convention to fundamentally address the problem of money in politics by passing a Constitutional amendment. he posted today."

The procedural point is more fundamental, and comes in two parts: First, no one should distract Congress from the one good thing it could do right now -- pass the Fair Elections Now Act. That would be a huge victory; it is a possible victory; and we are defeating the cause of reform if we do anything that jeopardizes that possible win.
And second, we all need to recognize that America is uncertain about how best to fix our government right now. From the Tea Party Right to the Progressive Left, there is agreement that something fundamental has gone wrong. But I believe that our frustrations share a common source -- an exasperation with the broken state of our political system -- even as we disagree passionately on what to do about it.

The solution to that disagreement is democracy. We should begin the long discussion about how best to reform our democracy, to restore its commitment to liberty and a Republic, by beginning a process to amend the Constitution through the one path the Framers gave us that has not yet been taken -- a Convention.
Call a Convention (Thanks, Eric! Via BoingBoing)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Earth can be so touchy: Why climate sensitivity matters, and how scientists are trying to better understand it

In a perfect world, we'd have all the answers and solve the problems of humanity sometime before dinner. Sadly, in real life, dinner is often delayed, or put off altogether in favor of a microwave noodle pot.

On those long, metaphorical evenings, we turn to science as way of narrowing down the number of things we don't know, and helping us push through problems as best we can. Climate science is a great example of this process in action. We know some big, important facts about how Earth's climate works—how adding extra greenhouse gases to the atmosphere causes the planet to get hotter, for instance. Other things are more uncertain, such as exactly how sensitive our climate is to heating by greenhouse gases.

In an upcoming paper in the Journal of Climate, Stephen Schwartz, Ph.D., senior scientist at the Brookhaven National Laboratory, and his colleagues contribute to the ramen-fueled work of inspecting the things we don't know, and offering suggestions for how to get closer to the truth.

Climate sensitivity is an extremely important concept. Climate change tells you what's happening—that the gaseous detritus of modern life is accumulating in the atmosphere and causing the global average temperature to tick upwards. Climate sensitivity, on the other hand, is the information that you need to know in order to make decisions about how best to deal with climate change—how we should alter our behavior, and when.

The data on climate change is pretty unequivocal. Climate sensitivity, however, we're a little more fuzzy on.
"The basic issue is that the things that control climate are complex. We aren't idiots just going around looking at CO2, CO2, CO2," said Gavin Schmidt, Ph.D., a climate modeler at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, and one of the brains behind, a blog dedicated to explaining the intricacies of climate science.

"There are many different drivers of climate, including ozone and aerosols. We've only just started to relate these things to the policy choices that real policy makers are faced with," he said.

The effects of aerosols are one of the biggest sources of climate confusion. Tiny, submicroscopic particles suspended in the air, aerosols include things like dust, soot from burning furnaces and smog. Like greenhouse gases, they are produced both naturally, and by human activities. They've also been increasing since the Industrial Revolution.

The weird thing: Aerosols can both work to increase the global temperature—black carbon soot, for instance, traps heat the same way a black tar roof does—and also decrease it—other aerosols reflect sunlight away from Earth, cooling the planet's surface.
"There is good reason to think that aerosols are offsetting some of the warming that would otherwise have resulted from increases in greenhouse gases, but the amount of offset isn't well known," Stephen Schwartz said.

Without that information we don't have a clear picture of how sensitive our climate is to increases in greenhouse gases.
"If the aerosol cooling influence is a small fraction of the greenhouse gas influence then the observed warming is obtained with a rather low climate sensitivity. If the aerosol influence is offsetting a large fraction of the greenhouse gas influence, it implies a fairly high climate sensitivity," Schwartz said.

For you and me, that's the difference between having time to make changes that could limit climate change before we experience any major effects, and already being doomed to a seriously climate-altered future.

If the climate sensitivity is low—if the the global average temperature rises 1.5°C for every doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere—then we have about 80 years before we accumulate enough greenhouse gases to commit ourselves to an increase in the global average temperature of 2°C above pre-industrial levels. Many scientists and policy makers have agreed on 2°C as a cutoff point, based on the economic, environmental and societal impacts associated with that level of increase.

On the other hand, if climate sensitivity is high—say a 4.5°C increase for every doubling of CO2—then we already hit the point where the 2°C increase will be inevitable about 35 years ago.

The actual sensitivity isn't known. The IPCC says it's likely to be anywhere between 2° and 4.5°C, with 3°C as the most likely possibility.

Schwartz's paper is focused on increasing the accuracy in the way climate models address the unknown.

All climate models take aerosols into account, he and climate modeler Gavin Schmidt told me. But Schwartz thinks the models are going about it the wrong way. He says that most climate models match very well to observed, historical changes in climate, but that they do so with a wide range of climate sensitivities and aerosol forcing levels. Some of the models may be right for the right reasons, Schwartz said. But others are right for the wrong reasons—balancing out climate sensitivity and the impacts of climate forcings, like aerosols, in a way that doesn't match with what actually happened.
"They certainly can't all have the right sensitivity," he said.

His paper is meant to help narrow down the factors responsible for forcing the global temperature down while greenhouse gases force it up, and he thinks he's done that, pointing to aerosols as the primary perpetrator.
"If the community could constrain the total forcing, up and down, then we could constrain the modelers so they don't have all this latitude to get the right answer for the wrong reason," Schwartz said.

But the paper gives the impression that climate modelers don't realize how important aerosols are, which isn't true, Schmidt said.
"The models do have a range of sensitivities and a range of forcings. The pairs that match the real-world observed climate provide a set of plausible histories for what actually happened, but which pair is closer to reality remains to be seen," he said. "But there is nothing 'too wide' about the assumptions. They cover the ranges of the observational uncertainties."

As modelers around the world prepare for the next update to the IPCC report, due in 2014, they're already working on ways to better account for uncertainties and make the models more accurate, he said.

One method is out-of-sample tests—basically, taking a model that correctly "predicts" observed climate change in the 20th century, and seeing how well it does with other historical time periods. Out-of-sample tests can help weed out models that give right answers for the 20th century, but for wrong reasons.

Ultimately, to really get a grip on how aerosols influence climate, modelers need better observational data, Schmidt said. The best way to track aerosols is by satellite but, so far, no satellite has had the right sort of instruments. That could change late this year when Glory, a new satellite carrying a cutting-edge aerosol sensor, is set for launch.
"It may be that we never get good aerosol data for the 20th Century," Schmidt said. "But we may be better off in the 21st."

Image courtesy Flickr user John LeGear, via CC

from BoingBoing

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Our Incredible Shrinking Democracy

from Robert Reich

I wish conservatives would stop complaining about big government and start worrying about the real problem – small democracy. I wish we’d all worry more about our incredible shrinking democracy.

It seems as if more and more decisions that should be made democratically are being shunted off somewhere to a few people who make them in back rooms. Which programs should be cut, which entitlements pared back, and what taxes raised in order to reduce the long-term budget deficit? Hmmm. Let’s convene a commission and have them decide.

Commissions are a default mechanism when politicians want to hand off difficult issues to “experts.” But reducing the long-term budget deficit has almost nothing to do with expertise. It’s about our nations’ values and priorities. Nothing could be more central to the democratic process.

Democracy requires at least three things: (1) Important decisions are made in the open. (2) The public and its representatives have an opportunity to debate them, so the decisions can be revised in light of what the public discovers and wants. And (3) those who make the big decisions are accountable to voters.

But these principles are in retreat, and I say this not just because of the proposed deficit commission.

The notorious Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) began with a virtual blank check from Congress. Treasury officials then secretly decided which companies were to receive hundreds of billions of dollars. Why these particular entities were chosen and not others remains a mystery. For months, the Treasury didn’t even disclose the identities of the major banks that giant insurer AIG repaid with its bailout money – 100 cents on each dollar AIG owed them.

The Federal Reserve, meanwhile, has gone far beyond its traditional role of setting short-term interest rates. It has bought up massive amounts of debt – mortgage debt, Treasury bills, and debt instruments emanating several public agencies, many of them supporting a wide range of private entities. No one outside the Fed knows the ultimate beneficiaries of all this government backing, the criteria used by the Fed for making these commitments, or even how much debt the Fed is buying.

Even if the economic emergency justified such secrecy – and it’s hard to see exactly why it would – the emergency is over, and yet closed-door decision making continues. Will Treasury use what’s left of TARP to help stimulate more jobs and, if so, how? Will the Fed stop buying mortgage-backed securities? No one knows.

The same pattern is evident on other issues. Congress can’t decide whether or how to limit the pay of financial executives. So where does the issue end up? The Securities and Exchange Commission and the Fed both say they’re going to look at whether pay levels are appropriate. The House and Senate can’t agree on what to do about climate change. Who decides? The Environmental Protection Agency concludes it has authority to regulate carbon emissions under the Clean Air Act.

The debate over health-care reform looked like democratic deliberation until you realize the key negotiations that framed the deal occurred behind closed doors, between the White House and Big Pharma and Big Insurance. The Administration promised these industries some thirty million new paying customers. In return, they agreed not to oppose the plan. Big Pharma even placed a firm limit on how much it would cut its costs over the next ten years – $80 billion, and not a penny more. How do I know this? Not because this crucial deal was made in public, but because it was leaked to the press.

Personally, I want the government to limit the pay of financial executives, regulate greenhouse gases, and reform health care. And no one wanted a financial meltdown. But I’m appalled by the process that’s been used to reach these objectives.

A big piece of the problem is this: Washington is now so overrun by lobbyists representing moneyed interests that it’s become almost impossible to make policy in the open. If the Treasury and Fed tried to decide publicly which industries and firms should get hundreds of billions, they’d be inundated. Wall Street lobbyists are blocking real financial reform. The energy industry has filled the House’s cap-and-trade bill with special subsidies and exemptions. Big Pharma and Big Insurance would have killed off the health-care reform if they hadn’t been bought off. When it comes to the long-term deficit, Congress is incapable of acting because so many special interests have their hands out.

But the answer isn’t to give up on democracy. Back-room policy making can succumb to private interests just as easily as lobby-infested legislatures (much of the public suspects the Treasury of being too cozy with Wall Street as it is).

The real answer is to recommit ourselves to cleaning up democracy. Yes, I know: The Supreme Court’s recent grotesque Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, which decided corporations are people entitled to First Amendment protection, complicates this. But the goal is still possible to achieve with more public money for congressional and presidential candidates who refuse private funding, more constraints on lobbyists, tighter rules for who must register as a lobbyist, fuller disclosure, and tougher rules on the revolving door between public service and private gain. Yale’s Bruce Ackerman recently came up with another good idea: A $50 tax credit per person, which they can send to the candidate of their choosing.

Yet nobody seems to be talking about these sorts of reforms. They don’t appear on Obama’s agenda. True, they don’t generate lots of public excitement or appreciation, and they’re murderously difficult to enact. But without them our democracy doesn’t stand a chance.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Intense photographs of snakes

Most people fear snakes and don't want to even look at them. Still they are fascinating reptiles in different colors and lengths. The photographer Guido Mocafico saw the beauty in them, and took amazing shots of them that it almost looks like detailed paintings. While some people take photos of dangerous snakes, these guys are keeping pythons, among other dangerous animals, as pets.

from ThisBlogRules