Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Monday, December 30, 2013

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Friday, December 27, 2013

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

How The Sex Pistols saved Christmas

from Dangerous Minds:


For the families of the striking fire fighters, Christmas 1977 was going to be a difficult one. With little or no money coming in, celebrations, presents, and even food were on ration. But something quite wonderful happened on that Christmas Day in Merrie England, when four of the country’s allegedly most reviled people brought happiness and festive gifts to the firefighters and their families.

This was Christmas Day 1977, when The Sex Pistols played a benefit gig for the families of striking fire fighters at the Ivanhoe’s club, Huddersfield, in the north of England.

As has often been recorded, The Pistols were the most hated and feared group in the country, portrayed by the press as the biggest threat to any nation’s children since Herod slaughtered the innocents. They had been banned from nearly every civic venue in the UK and were on an MI5 blacklist. For many a politician or council member, the very mention of The Sex Pistols could cause the veins to ominously throb on their sweaty, flabby brows.

But it wasn’t just The Pistols who these politicians and their obsequious press feared, it was the unions—in particular the fire fighters who were striking for a 30% wage increase.

For two years, the fire fighters had waited for the Labour government to negotiate a pay raise, but nothing had happened. As the cost of food, fuel and taxes skyrocketed, the pay-in-the-pocket of the average worker was worthless. Therefore, a ballot of the 30,000 strong Fire Brigades Union was held, which received 97.5% support for strike action. On the 14th November, 1977, the fire fighter’s strike began.

On Christmas Day, 1977, the Pistols quietly organized a benefit gig for the Fire Brigade Union. This was done as surreptitiously as possible, for if the council discovered the Pistols were playing (especially on the Lord’s birthday), the venue would be closed immediately. Two shows were arranged at Ivanhoe’s club: the first was a matinee for the children, at which cake, food, presents were distributed by the band, as John Lydon later said:

”Huddersfield I remember very fondly. Two concerts, a matinee with children throwing pies at me, and later on that night, striking union members. It was heaven. There was a lot of love in the house. It was great that day, everything about it. Just wonderful.”
While drummer Paul Cook recalled:
”It was like our Christmas party really. We remember everyone being really relaxed that day, everyone was getting on really well, everyone was in such a great mood because it was a benefit for the kids of firemen who were on strike at that time, who had been on strike for a long time.”
The Pistols paid for everything, and according to one young audience member “you could just have anything you wanted!” It was a Christmas Day to remember, as another young attendee Jez Scott later wrote about the gig in The Guardian:
Johnny Rotten came out in a straw hat and they had a cake with Sex Pistols written on it, the size of a car bonnet. He started cutting it up but it soon degenerated into a food fight. He was covered head to foot. It was fantastic. I took a photo of Steve Jones, who did a rock’n'roll-type pose. I took one of Sid and he asked, “Do you want to put Nancy [Spungen] in as well?”

Eventually the Pistols came onstage. I think they only played about six songs. I remember they did “Bodies,” but omitted the swear words because of the children. Steve Jones’s guitar sounded very raw and exciting. During “Holidays in the Sun,” Rotten held out the mic and people were shouting out their names, but because I was probably the only punk there I tried to shout the lyrics: “Cheap dialogue/ Cheap essential scenery.”

The gig itself was great. Sid had his leather jacket open and was hammering the bass. They were really on form and I was a bit overcome, really. I’d taken my album along but I was so excited talking to the Pistols, I forgot to get it signed. Sid was the easiest to talk to because he was like one of us, like a kid. I asked him what he was doing next and he said they were going to America. I’d like to think I said, “Don’t go, it’ll all go pear-shaped,” but I didn’t. Within a few weeks the band had split, Sid had been remanded for murdering Nancy and then he died. I wore a black tie with a Sex Pistols badge on it for a year in mourning.

The following clips are from a longer program, but contain the memories of the fire fighters and their families who attended, as well as some actuality from The Sex Pistols and a very prissy politician. The Huddersfield gigs were the final time The Sex Pistols played in Britain before going to America and splitting-up.





With thanks to Trevor Ward!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Great American Class War: Plutocracy Versus Democracy

By Bill Moyers

Crossposted from TomDispatch via Michael Moore

I met Supreme Court Justice William Brennan in 1987 when I was creating a series for public television called In Search of the Constitution, celebrating the bicentennial of our founding document. By then, he had served on the court longer than any of his colleagues and had written close to 500 majority opinions, many of them addressing fundamental questions of equality, voting rights, school segregation, and -- in New York Times v. Sullivan in particular -- the defense of a free press.

Those decisions brought a storm of protest from across the country. He claimed that he never took personally the resentment and anger directed at him. He did, however, subsequently reveal that his own mother told him she had always liked his opinions when he was on the New Jersey court, but wondered now that he was on the Supreme Court, “Why can’t you do it the same way?” His answer: “We have to discharge our responsibility to enforce the rights in favor of minorities, whatever the majority reaction may be.”

Although a liberal, he worried about the looming size of government. When he mentioned that modern science might be creating “a Frankenstein,” I asked, “How so?” He looked around his chambers and replied, “The very conversation we’re now having can be overheard. Science has done things that, as I understand it, makes it possible through these drapes and those windows to get something in here that takes down what we’re talking about.”

That was long before the era of cyberspace and the maximum surveillance state that grows topsy-turvy with every administration. How I wish he were here now -- and still on the Court!

My interview with him was one of 12 episodes in that series on the Constitution. Another concerned a case he had heard back in 1967. It involved a teacher named Harry Keyishian who had been fired because he would not sign a New York State loyalty oath. Justice Brennan ruled that the loyalty oath and other anti-subversive state statutes of that era violated First Amendment protections of academic freedom.

I tracked Keyishian down and interviewed him. Justice Brennan watched that program and was fascinated to see the actual person behind the name on his decision. The journalist Nat Hentoff, who followed Brennan’s work closely, wrote, “He may have seen hardly any of the litigants before him, but he searched for a sense of them in the cases that reached him.” Watching the interview with Keyishian, he said, “It was the first time I had seen him. Until then, I had no idea that he and the other teachers would have lost everything if the case had gone the other way.”

Toward the end of his tenure, when he was writing an increasing number of dissents on the Rehnquist Court, Brennan was asked if he was getting discouraged. He smiled and said, “Look, pal, we’ve always known -- the Framers knew -- that liberty is a fragile thing. You can’t give up.” And he didn’t.

The Donor Class and Streams of Dark Money

The historian Plutarch warned us long ago of what happens when there is no brake on the power of great wealth to subvert the electorate. “The abuse of buying and selling votes,” he wrote of Rome, “crept in and money began to play an important part in determining elections. Later on, this process of corruption spread in the law courts and to the army, and finally, when even the sword became enslaved by the power of gold, the republic was subjected to the rule of emperors.”

We don’t have emperors yet, but we do have the Roberts Court that consistently privileges the donor class.

We don’t have emperors yet, but we do have a Senate in which, as a study by the political scientist Larry Bartels reveals, “Senators appear to be considerably more responsive to the opinions of affluent constituents than to the opinions of middle-class constituents, while the opinions of constituents in the bottom third of the income distribution have no apparent statistical effect on their senators’ roll call votes.”

We don’t have emperors yet, but we have a House of Representatives controlled by the far right that is now nourished by streams of “dark money” unleashed thanks to the gift bestowed on the rich by the Supreme Court in the Citizens United case.

We don’t have emperors yet, but one of our two major parties is now dominated by radicals engaged in a crusade of voter suppression aimed at the elderly, the young, minorities, and the poor; while the other party, once the champion of everyday working people, has been so enfeebled by its own collaboration with the donor class that it offers only token resistance to the forces that have demoralized everyday Americans.

Writing in the Guardian recently, the social critic George Monbiot commented,
“So I don’t blame people for giving up on politics... When a state-corporate nexus of power has bypassed democracy and made a mockery of the voting process, when an unreformed political system ensures that parties can be bought and sold, when politicians [of the main parties] stand and watch as public services are divvied up by a grubby cabal of privateers, what is left of this system that inspires us to participate?”
Why are record numbers of Americans on food stamps? Because record numbers of Americans are in poverty. Why are people falling through the cracks? Because there are cracks to fall through. It is simply astonishing that in this rich nation more than 21 million Americans are still in need of full-time work, many of them running out of jobless benefits, while our financial class pockets record profits, spends lavishly on campaigns to secure a political order that serves its own interests, and demands that our political class push for further austerity. Meanwhile, roughly 46 million Americans live at or below the poverty line and, with the exception of Romania, no developed country has a higher percent of kids in poverty than we do. Yet a study by scholars at Northwestern University and Vanderbilt finds little support among the wealthiest Americans for policy reforms to reduce income inequality.

Class Prerogatives

Listen! That sound you hear is the shredding of the social contract.

Ten years ago the Economist magazine -- no friend of Marxism -- warned: “The United States risks calcifying into a European-style class-based society.” And as a recent headline in the Columbia Journalism Review put it: “The line between democracy and a darker social order is thinner than you think.”

We are this close -- this close! -- to losing our democracy to the mercenary class. So close it’s as if we’re leaning way over the rim of the Grand Canyon waiting for a swift kick in the pants.

When Justice Brennan and I talked privately in his chambers before that interview almost 20 years ago, I asked him how he had come to his liberal sentiments. “It was my neighborhood,” he said. Born to Irish immigrants in 1906, as the harsh indignities of the Gilded Age brought hardship and deprivation to his kinfolk and neighbors, he saw “all kinds of suffering -- people had to struggle.” He never forgot those people or their struggles, and he believed it to be our collective responsibility to create a country where they would have a fair chance to a decent life. “If you doubt it,” he said, “read the Preamble [to the Constitution].”

He then asked me how I had come to my philosophy about government (knowing that I had been in both the Kennedy and Johnson administrations). I don’t remember my exact words, but I reminded him that I had been born in the midst of the Great Depression to parents, one of whom had to drop out of school in the fourth grade, the other in the eighth, because they were needed in the fields to pick cotton to help support their families.

Franklin Roosevelt, I recalled, had been president during the first 11 years of my life. My father had listened to his radio “fireside chats” as if they were gospel; my brother went to college on the G.I. Bill; and I had been the beneficiary of public schools, public libraries, public parks, public roads, and two public universities. How could I not think that what had been so good for me would be good for others, too?

That was the essence of what I told Justice Brennan. Now, I wish that I could talk to him again, because I failed to mention perhaps the most important lesson about democracy I ever learned.

On my 16th birthday in 1950, I went to work for the daily newspaper in the small East Texas town where I grew up. It was a racially divided town -- about 20,000 people, half of them white, half of them black -- a place where you could grow up well-loved, well-taught, and well-churched, and still be unaware of the lives of others merely blocks away. It was nonetheless a good place to be a cub reporter: small enough to navigate but big enough to keep me busy and learning something new every day. I soon had a stroke of luck. Some of the old-timers in the newsroom were on vacation or out sick, and I got assigned to report on what came to be known as the “Housewives’ Rebellion.” Fifteen women in town (all white) decided not to pay the Social Security withholding tax for their domestic workers (all black).

They argued that Social Security was unconstitutional, that imposing it was taxation without representation, and that -- here’s my favorite part -- “requiring us to collect [the tax] is no different from requiring us to collect the garbage.” They hired themselves a lawyer -- none other than Martin Dies, Jr., the former congressman best known, or worst known, for his work as head of the House Committee on Un-American Activities in the witch-hunting days of the 1930s and 1940s. They went to court -- and lost. Social Security was constitutional, after all. They held their noses and paid the tax.

The stories I helped report were picked up by the Associated Press and circulated nationwide. One day, the managing editor, Spencer Jones, called me over and pointed to the AP ticker beside his desk. Moving across the wire was a notice citing the reporters on our paper for the reporting we had done on the “rebellion.” I spotted my name and was hooked. In one way or another, after a detour through seminary and then into politics and government, I’ve been covering the class war ever since.

Those women in Marshall, Texas, were among its advance guard. Not bad people, they were regulars at church, their children were my classmates, many of them were active in community affairs, and their husbands were pillars of the business and professional class in town. They were respectable and upstanding citizens all, so it took me a while to figure out what had brought on that spasm of reactionary defiance. It came to me one day, much later: they simply couldn’t see beyond their own prerogatives.

Fiercely loyal to their families, to their clubs, charities, and congregations -- fiercely loyal, in other words, to their own kind -- they narrowly defined membership in democracy to include only people like themselves. The black women who washed and ironed their laundry, cooked their families’ meals, cleaned their bathrooms, wiped their children’s bottoms, and made their husbands’ beds, these women, too, would grow old and frail, sick and decrepit, lose their husbands and face the ravages of time alone, with nothing to show for their years of labor but the creases on their brows and the knots on their knuckles. There would be nothing for them to live on but the modest return on their toil secured by the collaborative guarantee of a safety net.

The Unfinished Work of America

In one way or another, this is the oldest story in America: the struggle to determine whether “we, the people” is a moral compact embedded in a political contract or merely a charade masquerading as piety and manipulated by the powerful and privileged to sustain their own way of life at the expense of others.

I should make it clear that I don’t harbor any idealized notion of politics and democracy. Remember, I worked for Lyndon Johnson. Nor do I romanticize “the people.” You should read my mail and posts on right-wing websites. I understand the politician in Texas who said of the state legislature, “If you think these guys are bad, you should see their constituents.”

But there is nothing idealized or romantic about the difference between a society whose arrangements roughly serve all its citizens (something otherwise known as social justice) and one whose institutions have been converted into a stupendous fraud. That can be the difference between democracy and plutocracy.

Toward the end of Justice Brennan’s tenure on the Supreme Court, he made a speech that went to the heart of the matter. He said:
“We do not yet have justice, equal and practical, for the poor, for the members of minority groups, for the criminally accused, for the displaced persons of the technological revolution, for alienated youth, for the urban masses... Ugly inequities continue to mar the face of the nation. We are surely nearer the beginning than the end of the struggle.”
And so we are. One hundred and fifty years ago, Abraham Lincoln stood on the blood-soaked battlefield of Gettysburg and called Americans to “the great task remaining.” That “unfinished work,” as he named it, remained the same then as it was when America’s founding generation began it. And it remains the same today: to breathe new life into the promise of the Declaration of Independence and to assure that the Union so many have sacrificed to save is a union worth saving.


Bill Moyers has received 35 Emmy awards, nine Peabody Awards, the National Academy of Television’s Lifetime Achievement Award, and an honorary doctor of fine arts from the American Film Institute over his 40 years in broadcast journalism. He is currently host of the weekly public television series Moyers & Company and president of the Schumann Media Center, a non-profit organization which supports independent journalism. He delivered these remarks (slightly adapted here) at the annual Legacy Awards dinner of the Brennan Center for Justice, a non-partisan public policy institute in New York City that focuses on voting rights, money in politics, equal justice, and other seminal issues of democracy. This is his first TomDispatch piece.

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Innovation of Loneliness

What is the connection between Social Networks and Being Lonely?
Quoting the words of Sherry Turkle from her TED talk - Connected, But Alone.
Also Based on Dr. Yair Amichai-Hamburgers hebrew article -The Invention of Loneliness.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

A short animation of
"A People's History of American Empire"
by Howard Zinn

Empire or Humanity?
What the Classroom Didn't Teach Me about the American Empire
by Howard Zinn
Narrated by Viggo Mortensen
Art by Mike Konopacki
Video editing by Eric Wold

To read more from Howard Zinn visit www.TomDispatch.com

Friday, December 20, 2013

Electric X-Mas Land - 1967
Jimi Hendrix dressed as Santa Claus

from Dangerous Minds:

n 1967 Jimi Hendrix posed as jolly Old Saint Nick for the Record Mirror newspaper to promote his then new album, Axis: Bold as Love. The cover date of that issue was December 23, 1967 and the video below was shot the night before on December 22nd, at one of the last truly “underground” events of the 60s held in London, the all-night “Christmas on Earth Continued” festival.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience headlined and the line-up included The Who, Traffic, Pink Floyd (Syd Barrett’s last gig with the group), Eric Burdon and the New Animals, The Move and Soft Machine.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Santa the Hutt mocks Christmas gluttony and excess

from Dangerous Minds

The BetaBrand store, located in San Francisco’s Mission district, has a vile, blobby yuletide greeting I can totally get on board with: Santa the Hutt! 

According to Chris from BetaBrand:

Our aim: To poke fun at holiday excess and explore anti-Santa sentiment. Our achievement: Over a thousand people have taken holiday photos at our Valencia Street store since rolling him out last week.

He now begrudgingly poses for holiday photos with Valencia Street shoppers if only because he’s too obese to move.

Santa the Hutt seems unlikely to be posing for Playgirl anytime soon…

Via Boing Boing

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

ACLU's Santa Claus is Coming to Town video

Yes, NSA spying is real. Please take action to end it now: http://bit.ly/nsaiscomingtotown
The Lyrics:
You better watch out,
You better not Skype,
You better log out,
Yeah you better not type,
The NSA is coming to town.

You're making a list,
They're checking it twice;
They're watching almost every electronic device,
The NSA is coming to town.

They see you when you're sleeping
They hear while you're awake
They know who you call and who you write
So encrypt for goodness' sake!

With Congress in the dark and a cloak-and-dagger court
We're lookin' for answers, they're comin' up short
The NSA is coming to town.

They're making a list,
Checking it twice;
They're watching almost every electronic device,
NSA is coming to town
The NSA is coming to town,
The NSA is coming to town.

thanks, Boing Boing

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Mother Jones speaks: The only known voice recording of ‘the most dangerous woman in America'

from Dangerous Minds:

Mother Jones

In times like these, a voice like that of Mary Harris “Mother” Jones grows more and more needed with every passing day.

If you've never heard it before, take the time to listen to that voice. It’s the only recording we have of it. The occasion was May 1, 1930, the 100th birthday of Mother Jones.

If only we had a nationally famous person who would ever dare to say the kinds of things Mother Jones used to say. I can’t think of one.

Mother Jones

Mother Jones marching to give Theodore Roosevelt what-for about children spending their days in coal mines instead of schools.

Here are some other pithy things the microphone might have recorded if it had been available on other days in Mother Jones’ life:

I’m not a humanitarian, I’m a hell-raiser.

No matter what the fight, don’t be ladylike! God almighty made women and the Rockefeller gang of thieves made the ladies.

I asked a man in prison once how he happened to be there and he said he had stolen a pair of shoes. I told him if he had stolen a railroad he would be a United States Senator.

If they want to hang me, let them. And on the scaffold I will shout Freedom for the working class!

By the bye, Mother Jones was capable of stretching the truth every now and then. This recording was supposedly made on Mother Jones’ 100th birthday, but the evidence shows that when she died later on in 1930, she was actually only 93 years old.

Politifact has called this “the lie of the last 100 years.”

via Lawyers Guns & Money

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The BEEF, competition in hip hop culture, the documentary that explains all… PART 1

this is pretty fucking cool . . .

We will be posting subsequent parts every sunday for the nest month

Thanks, Ed Piskor

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Shell Oil gets more than they bargained for when slick pranksters invade their Science Slam

from our friend Richard Metzger at Dangerous Minds

The Burson-Marsteller public relations firm held a “Science Slam” event in Berlin yesterday to try to burnish the reputation of their client—I believe the industry term is “greenwash”—the Shell oil company. A “Science Slam” is like a rap battle or poetry slam meets a TED talk. Presenters make—or try to make—entertaining oral presentations of their scientific concepts, inventions or advocacy, and then the audience chooses the winner. Shell can do things like this or sponsor an “Eco Race” with all electric cars or some bullshit like that and then pretend like they give a fuck about the environment.

Several of the presenters directly challenged Shell’s ethics in their presentations and a freestyle rapper offered up a spontaneous rhyming diss of the Dutch oil giant. Environmental disasters and climate change were apparently the main topics, but at the end, two “young scientists” brought out a machine they informed the audience was a CO2 recovery experiment. Once fired up, the machine sprayed black oil sludge all over the stage.

No word what the half trillion dollar oil company made of this debacle, but the audience members voted these oily pranksters—two members of the subversive activist group the Peng! Collective—as the winners. Then the contest was promplty cancelled!


Via Nerdcore

Friday, December 13, 2013

Is There a Revolution Coming? Americans Finally Realize Global Capitalism Is a Murderous Sham

from TruthDig via Alternet

By Chris Hedges

Popular revulsion for the ruling elite is nearly universal. Are we going to see an uprising?
“Did you ever ask yourself how it happens that government and capitalism continue to exist in spite of all the evil and trouble they are causing in the world?” the anarchist Alexander Berkman wrote in his essay “The Idea Is the Thing.” “If you did, then your answer must have been that it is because the people support those institutions, and that they support them because they believe in them.”

Berkman was right. As long as most citizens believe in the ideas that justify global capitalism, the private and state institutions that serve our corporate masters are unassailable. When these ideas are shattered, the institutions that buttress the ruling class deflate and collapse. The battle of ideas is percolating below the surface. It is a battle the corporate state is steadily losing. An increasing number of Americans are getting it. They know that we have been stripped of political power. They recognize that we have been shorn of our most basic and cherished civil liberties, and live under the gaze of the most intrusive security and surveillance apparatus in human history. Half the country lives in poverty. Many of the rest of us, if the corporate state is not overthrown, will join them. These truths are no longer hidden.

It appears that political ferment is dormant in the United States. This is incorrect. The ideas that sustain the corporate state are swiftly losing their efficacy across the political spectrum. The ideas that are rising to take their place, however, are inchoate. The right has retreated into Christian fascism and a celebration of the gun culture. The left, knocked off balance by decades of fierce state repression in the name of anti-communism, is struggling to rebuild and define itself. Popular revulsion for the ruling elite, however, is nearly universal. It is a question of which ideas will capture the public’s imagination.

Revolution usually erupts over events that would, in normal circumstances, be considered meaningless or minor acts of injustice by the state. But once the tinder of revolt has piled up, as it has in the United States, an insignificant spark easily ignites popular rebellion. No person or movement can ignite this tinder. No one knows where or when the eruption will take place. No one knows the form it will take. But it is certain now that a popular revolt is coming. The refusal by the corporate state to address even the minimal grievances of the citizenry, along with the abject failure to remedy the mounting state repression, the chronic unemployment and underemployment, the massive debt peonage that is crippling more than half of Americans, and the loss of hope and widespread despair, means that blowback is inevitable.

“Because revolution is evolution at its boiling point you cannot ‘make’ a real revolution any more than you can hasten the boiling of a tea kettle,” Berkman wrote. “It is the fire underneath that makes it boil: how quickly it will come to the boiling point will depend on how strong the fire is.”

Revolutions, when they erupt, appear to the elites and the establishment to be sudden and unexpected. This is because the real work of revolutionary ferment and consciousness is unseen by the mainstream society, noticed only after it has largely been completed. Throughout history, those who have sought radical change have always had to first discredit the ideas used to prop up ruling elites and construct alternative ideas for society, ideas often embodied in a utopian revolutionary myth. The articulation of a viable socialism as an alternative to corporate tyranny—as attempted by the book “Imagine: Living in a Socialist USA” [4]and the website Popular Resistance —is, for me, paramount. Once ideas shift for a large portion of a population, once the vision of a new society grips the popular imagination, the old regime is finished.

An uprising that is devoid of ideas and vision is never a threat to ruling elites. Social upheaval without clear definition and direction, without ideas behind it, descends into nihilism, random violence and chaos. It consumes itself. This, at its core, is why I disagree with some elements of the Black Bloc anarchists. I believe in strategy. And so did many anarchists, including Berkman, Emma Goldman, Pyotr Kropotkin and Mikhail Bakunin.

By the time ruling elites are openly defied, there has already been a nearly total loss of faith in the ideas—in our case free market capitalism and globalization—that sustain the structures of the ruling elites. And once enough people get it, a process that can take years, “the slow, quiet, and peaceful social evolution becomes quick, militant, and violent,” as Berkman wrote.“Evolution becomes revolution.”

This is where we are headed. I do not say this because I am a supporter of revolution. I am not. I prefer the piecemeal and incremental reforms of a functioning democracy. I prefer a system in which our social institutions permit the citizenry to nonviolently dismiss those in authority. I prefer a system in which institutions are independent and not captive to corporate power. But we do not live in such a system. Revolt is the only option left. Ruling elites, once the ideas that justify their existence are dead, resort to force. It is their final clutch at power. If a nonviolent popular movement is able to ideologically disarm the bureaucrats, civil servants and police—to get them, in essence, to defect—nonviolent revolution is possible. But if the state can organize effective and prolonged violence against dissent, it spawns reactive revolutionary violence, or what the state calls terrorism. Violent revolutions usually give rise to revolutionaries as ruthless as their adversaries. “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster,” Friedrich Nietzsche wrote. “And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.”

Violent revolutions are always tragic. I, and many other activists, seek to keep our uprising nonviolent. We seek to spare the country the savagery of domestic violence by both the state and its opponents. There is no guarantee that we will succeed, especially with the corporate state controlling a vast internal security apparatus and militarized police forces. But we must try.

Corporations, freed from all laws, government regulations and internal constraints, are stealing as much as they can, as fast as they can, on the way down. The managers of corporations no longer care about the effects of their pillage. Many expect the systems they are looting to fall apart. They are blinded by personal greed and hubris. They believe their obscene wealth can buy them security and protection. They should have spent a little less time studying management in business school and a little more time studying human nature and human history. They are digging their own graves.

Our shift to corporate totalitarianism, like the shift to all forms of totalitarianism, is incremental. Totalitarian systems ebb and flow, sometimes taking one step back before taking two steps forward, as they erode democratic liberalism. This process is now complete. The “consent of the governed” is a cruel joke. Barack Obama cannot defy corporate power any more than George W. Bush or Bill Clinton could. Unlike his two immediate predecessors, Bush, who is intellectually and probably emotionally impaired, did not understand the totalitarian process abetted by the presidency. Because Clinton and Obama, and their Democratic Party, understand the destructive roles they played and are playing, they must be seen as far more cynical and far more complicit in the ruination of the country. Democratic politicians speak in the familiar “I-feel-your-pain” language of the liberal class while allowing corporations to strip us of personal wealth and power. They are effective masks for corporate power.

The corporate state seeks to maintain the fiction of our personal agency in the political and economic process. As long as we believe we are participants, a lie sustained through massive propaganda campaigns, endless and absurd election cycles and the pageantry of empty political theater, our corporate oligarchs rest easy in their private jets, boardrooms, penthouses and mansions. As the bankruptcy of corporate capitalism and globalization is exposed, the ruling elite are increasingly nervous. They know that if the ideas that justify their power die, they are finished. This is why voices of dissent—as well as spontaneous uprisings such as the Occupy movement—are ruthlessly crushed by the corporate state.

“... [M]any ideas, once held to be true, have come to be regarded as wrong and evil,” Berkman wrote in his essay. “Thus the ideas of the divine right of kings, of slavery and serfdom. There was a time when the whole world believed those institutions to be right, just, and unchangeable. In the measure that those superstitions and false beliefs were fought by advanced thinkers, they became discredited and lost their hold upon the people, and finally the institutions that incorporated those ideas were abolished. Highbrows will tell you that they had ‘outlived’ their ‘usefulness’ and therefore they ‘died.’ But how did they ‘outlive’ their ‘usefulness’? To whom were they useful, and how did they ‘die’? We know already that they were useful only to the master class, and they were done away with by popular uprisings and revolutions.”

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Pee-Wee Herman talks about the remastered Christmas Special and Playhouse episodes

from Boing Boing
Kembrew writes, "I saw your post in Boing Boing today about Pee-Wee, and coincidentally, I just published a piece on Pee-wee's Christmas Special. I think it's the first time Paul Reubens has been interviewed about the upcoming remastered Pee-wee's Playhouse DVDs that will come out next year."
I previously invoked the term “eye-popping” to describe Pee-wee’s Playhouse, but starting next year, viewers will run the risk of having their eyeballs permanently dislodged from their sockets. “The Christmas Special is going to come out, along with the entire Playhouse series, on Blu-ray,” Reubens tells me. “It’s being remastered now.”

“The show was never seen on film,” he says. “The show was shot on film and transferred to tape and edited on tape, and all the effects were done on tape. Then the entire show was put on another tape to broadcast, so there are three or four generations of quality that are lost on every episode. So we went back to the original film elements, and the company I’m working with has recreated every edit in every single show, and recreated all the effects from all the original elements—which we were lucky to have kept.”

“It looks unbelievable. It’s so extreme, people are going to freak out when they see it,” Reubens adds. “The detail and clarity and color is amazing.” This means that Gary Panter’s set design, the stop motion animation and other details will come alive in psychedelic high definition. It’s the kids show equivalent of being upgraded from cough syrup to mescaline.
Pee-wee’s (remastered) Christmas Adventure: An interview with Paul Reubens [Kembrew McLeod/Little Village]

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

What we really feel when we feel "cold"

Temperature is just a measure of jigglyness, says Henry Reich of Minute Physics. Not in the "I don't think you're ready for this jelly" sense, but at the scale of atoms. And it's this jiggle that can help explain why two things that are, technically, the exact same temperature can feel totally different when we touch them. Great science for a cold day!
Thanks, BoingBoing

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Listen to the debut performance of Leonardo da Vinci's incredible viola organista

As if all his other accomplishments were not impressive enough, it should be noted that according to his early biographers, Leonardo da Vinci was also a “brilliant musician,” who was a talented player of the lira da braccio.

According to award-winning biographer and author, Charles Nicholl, Leonardo must “have excelled” since the biographers “the Anonimo” and Vasari insisted Leonardo:
”...went to Milan, probably in early 1482, [where] he was presented to the Milanese court not as a painter or technologist, but as a musician.”
The lira da braccio was not the lyre of ancient antiquity, but rather a forerunner to the violin. Leonardo excelled at playing this instrument, and was, according to Vasari:
”...the most skilled improviser in verse of his time.”
Leonardo the first freestyle rapper? Wonderful.
But it doesn’t stop there, Leonardo wrote music, though only fragments remain of his compositions. In his biography on Leonardo, Nicholl identifies one of the artist’s short compositions:
”...the following romantic ditty: ‘Amore sola mi fa remirare, la sol mi fa sollecita’—‘Only love makes me remember, it alone fires me up.’ The two passages of musical notation can be picked out on a keyboard—DGAEFDE AGEFG. This is a melody by Leonardo da Vinci.”
Leonardo also devised and created plans for many strange and wonderful musical instruments, including the viola organista, which is an instrument that combines the sound of the piano and the cello.

Five-hundred years after dreaming-up the viola organista, Leonardo’s musical instrument has been painstakingly reproduced by Polish concert pianist, Slawomir Zubrzycki, who spent 5000 hours building the instrument as based on Leonardo’s original plans.

Zubrzycki debuted the instrument at a performance at the Academy of Music in Krakow, Poland, and this is what it sounds like.

Monday, December 9, 2013

'I Feel Good ’
James Brown's Amazing, CNN Interview,1988

from Dangerous Minds
When former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich was running around before his trial appearing on The Daily Show assuring Jon Stewart that he never, ever did anything wrong, he should have considered adopting the post-arrest media strategy of James Brown, as seen in this incredible interview. Considering that both Blagojevich and Brown ended up going to prison, it couldn’t have hurt! And James Brown is a hell of a lot more popular than Rod Blagojevich.

This interview on CNN’s Sonya Live! in LA occurred in May 1988, after Brown was arrested in Aiken County, South Carolina, on charges of drug possession and fleeing from the police after his wife Adrienne called 911 because he was threatening her safety. Brown was released after paying $24,000 in bail and then went to Atlanta to do this interview.

In the interview, Brown seems only dimly aware of Sonya Friedman’s questions, preferring to shout the lyrics to his songs and talk about how he “smells good ... and makes love good.” (The juxtaposition of Sonya’s “How did all this trouble begin?” and Brown’s non-sequitur answer—“Livin’ in America!”—is resonant in ways that utterly outstrip the meanings Brown may have had in mind.) If you want to see someone on TV being interviewed while high, you can hardly do better than James Brown. As in so many other things. Rod Blagojevich just wouldn’t be in the same league.

Brown’s incredible vitality is such that you’ll be excused for wondering whether this isn’t a concert appearance in addition to an interview. YouTube commenters and the like are given to identifying cocaine as the source of this live-wire act, but it was almost certainly PCP. His arrest was for possession of PCP, a substance Brown was allegedly using a lot at the time.

Just four months later, Brown was arrested again, this time on Interstate 20 (near the Georgia-South Carolina border) for carrying an unlicensed pistol and assaulting a police officer. He was sentenced to six years in prison and ended up serving three years.

To judge by R.J. Smith’s The One, Brown’s erratic conduct in the 1980s was going to land him in prison one way or another. Between 1984 and his September 1988 arrest, Adrienne Brown had to call 911 to report domestic violence a whopping twelve times.

As the undisputed father of funk, James Brown was one of the most important musicians of the twentieth century, and nobody was more electrifying live. This interview manages to be both highly amusing and a harbinger of the troubles that were just around the corner.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Colby Poster Printing Company
A mini documentary
As told by C.R. Stecyk III

Until its doors closed on December 31, 2012, the family-run Colby Poster Printing Company made the letter-pressed signs, posters, billboards and showcards that were a ubiquitous feature of the visual landscape of Los Angeles. For three generations, promoters of boxing bouts, rodeos, reggae concerts and literary-minded visual artists were drawn to the swift graphic science of the day-glo poster, its essential purpose to quickly and efficiently convey information to viewers zooming along the autoscape, and to the durability of the product, hanging on telephone poles and chainlink fences from Venice to Las Vegas for months and years after the commission. In this short documentary, C.R. Stecyk III visits the company to make one last print, and to expound on its enduring appeal to anyone who ever wanted to leave a mark of their own in the city of signs.

Narrated by C.R. Stecyk III.
Directed by Felipe Lima & C.R. Stecyk III.

MOCAtv Executive Producers Emma Reeves & John Toba.
Ways & Means Producers Lana Kim & Jett Steiger.

Second Unit Director: Susanne Melanie Berry.
Photography & Cinematography: Susanne Melanie Berry, Felipe Lima, C.R. Stecyk III.

Music: UUV.
Sound: Owen Granich-Young.
Additional sound recording: Andrew Ben Miller.

Voice-over editing: Ed Yonaitis.

Color by MPC LA. Executive Producer: Ed Koenig. Producer: Ted Ilsley. Colorist: Derek Hansen.

Special thanks to Glenn Hinman & The Hinman Family for their support.

Special thanks also to Christopher Michlig, Brian Michlig, Jan Tumlir for their support in conjunction with the exhibition and book In the Good Name of The Company.

Featured artists (in order of appearance):

Ed Ruscha, Miracle (Poster), 1975
Allen Ruppersberg, The Singing Posters: Allen Ginsberg's Howl by Allen Ruppersberg, 2003
Peter Coffin, Untitled (Designs for Colby Poster Co.), 2008
Alexis Smith, Mine Was the Better Punch, But it Didn't Win the Wrist Watch, 1983
Thom Andersen, Get Out of The Car, 2010
Eve Fowler, The Difference is Spreading, 2010, A Spectacle and Nothing Strange, 2010, Gertrude Stein, 2010
Cali Thornhill Dewitt, Modern American Opinion, 2010-2012
Kathryn Andrews, 2009, 2013
Andy Beach, Too Blessed 2 Be Stressed, 2010
Scott Benzel, Black Suns/Black Holes From Inner Experience by George Bataille, 1988, 2010
Anthony Burrill, Ask More Questions, 2012
Sam Durant, Untitled, 2000-2004
Eric Junker, Free Your Monkey, 1997
Daniel Joseph Martinez, Avant-Garde Mixed With Blood, 2004
Euan Macdonald, Untitled, (From the Mental Traveller by William Blake), 2013
Jacob Kassay, Dub Music, 2012
Christopher Michlig, Free Free 2011,
Brian Roettinger, Printed at Colby, 12.07.12, 2012
C.R. Stecyk III, Belted, 2010
C.R. Stecyk III, ADIOS, 2012

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Building facade as display with windows as pixels

The Health High School Vaud building in Vaud, Switzerland was turned into a low-res display with the window shutters as pixels. It was a very fun art project by NOTsoNOISY Guillaume Reymond and Trivial Mass Production. "Animated TowerHESAV s'anime!"

HESAV fait ses 400 coups! http://www.hesav.ch/faitses400coups
// ANIMATED TOWER (HESAV s'anime!) //
(EN) // A giant human and architectural performance realized by NOTsoNOISY Guillaume Reymond and Trivial Mass Production. The 11 floors tower of the HESAV (Health High School Vaud) has been animated as a rudimentary screen whose pixels are, in fact, all the windows and shutters that students, staff and friends shake for hours. This project announces the celebration "HESAV fait ses 400 coups!" from 1rst to 8th of November 2012 //

(FR) // Une gigantesque performance humaine et architecturale réalisée par NOTsoNOISY Guillaume Reymond et Trivial Mass Production. La tour de 11 étages de la HESAV (Haute École de Santé Vaud) a été animée tel un écran rudimentaire dont les pixels sont en fait les fenêtres et volets que 110 étudiants, collaborateurs et amis ont bougés pendant des heures. Ce projet annonce les célébration "HESAV fait ses 400 coups!" du 1er au 8 novembre 2012 //

// Concept & realization //
// NOTsoNOISY Guillaume REYMOND / Jongny CH / http://www.NOTsoNOISY.com
Jelena BARRAUD / Dorothéa CHUARD / Olivier CHUARD / Leeloo GRANGER / Noémie GRANGER / Antonio MARMOLEJO / Guillaume REYMOND / Martine REYMOND
// TRIVIAL MASS PRODUCTION / Lausanne CH / http://www.trivialmass.ch

// Host & organization //
// HESAV / Lausanne CH / http://www.hesav.ch
Mireille CLERC / Aline GUBERAN / Nadine OBERHAUSER / Daniel ANTONETTI //
// Invaluable assistance //
Jacques PERROULAZ / Germain KRUMM //

// Animation of the windows //
// 110 étudiants, collaborateurs et amis // Claire ANTONETTI / Daniel ANTONETTI / Mélanie ANTUNES OLIVERA / Gabriela BAEZA / Yannick BARTHOLDI / Thomas BAUD-GRASSET / Jessica BÉGUIN / Marie BÉNÉDICTE / Raphaël BORNET / Amaury BRAC DE LA PERRIÈRE / Anne BRON / Lysianne BRUNNER / Karim BTEICH / Roxane BUECHE / Arnaud BURKHALTER / Nadia CAVADINI / Lisa CHIESA / Mélissa CHRISTOFIS / Dorothéa CHUARD / Olivier CHUARD / Mireille CLERC / Annaëlle COBO / Daniele COFANO / Benjamin CORBOZ / Victor CORBOZ / Nicolas CUENDET / Damien CURAT / Pascale DAMIDOT / Marie DAYER / Jérôme DEBONS / Romaine DELALOYE / Sophie DELLINGER / François DESCOMBES / Sandrine DING / Catherine DUCHATEAU BLONDEL / Patricia DUPUIS / Sébastien DUPUIS / Sabine EDDE / Maquelin ETIENNE / Florence FELLAY / Timothee FERLA / Laurencey FLACTION / Marie-Christine FOLLONIER / Leila FRUTIGER / Charlotte GARDIOL / Corinne GAUDIN / Jeanne GERMAIN THOMAS / Leeloo GRANGER / Noémie GRANGER / Aline GUBERAN / Christophe GUÉNIA / Aude GUILLIN / Céline GUILLOD / Véronique HASLER / Charlotte HEINRICH / Emmanuelle HISSNAUER / Julien HOT / Lucienne HUGET / Alexis JACCARD / Clarisse JACCARD / Coralie JACCARD / Benjamin JANKOVIC / Manuel JAQUIER / Mousse JAQUIIER / Camille JOSSE / Brigitte KAMPEL / Grégoire LACHETEAU / Camille LEPIN / Michèle LILA / Ivone LOPEZ GONCALVES / Valentine LÜTHI / Christine MAGISTRALE / Hayat MAHHDJOUB / Florian MARIJEANNE / Josiane MARTI DURUSSEL / Thomas MAYBACH / Lydia MBEMBA / Bianca MEDOLAGO / Vlora MEHMETAJ / Yves MERMOUD / Bénédicte MICHOU / Teresa MIELE / Marie-Laure NGBILO / Julien OBERHAUSER / Nadine OBERHAUSER / Pierre-Nicolas OBERHAUSER / Jérôme OBERSON / Julie PASCHE / Valentine PASCHE / Sarah PAVLOVIC / Guilia PEDRINI / Valentine PIAGET / Christine PIRNOLI / Martine REYMOND / Anne-Sophie RIJCKAERT / Florian SCHMIED / Pauline SCHREYER / Karina SIBLEYRAS / Marine SIMON / Laura TESTONI / Mickael THERRIN / Katy VILARINO / Ballmoos VON / Marion WEGMANN / Loriana ZULIANI // un immense merci à toutes et tous !

// Music //
// Christian PAUCHON / Vevey CH / available for purchase on http://www.rez-edit.com

(c) 2012 NOTsoNOISY // http://www.NOTsoNOISY.com
thanks, Boing Boing

Friday, December 6, 2013

Human rights for animals?

Boing Boing reports An animal rights group has filed the first of three lawsuits aimed at securing legal personhood for chimpanzees. If all goes well, they hope to extend the definition to other great apes, whales, and dolphins, as well. This story by David Grimm at Science is an interesting look at both the reasoning behind these specific lawsuits and the behind-the-scenes planning that goes into any potentially groundbreaking legal action.

from Science Magazine

Lawsuits Could Turn Chimpanzees Into Legal Persons
Property or person? A series of lawsuits could free U.S. chimpanzees from captivity.

This morning, an animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) filed a lawsuit in a New York Supreme Court in an attempt to get a judge to declare that chimpanzees are legal persons and should be freed from captivity. The suit is the first of three to be filed in three New York counties this week. They target two research chimps at Stony Brook University and two chimps on private property, and are the opening salvo in a coordinated effort to grant “legal personhood” to a variety of animals across the United States.

If NhRP is successful in New York, it could be a significant step toward upending millennia of law defining animals as property and could set off a “chain reaction” that could bleed over to other jurisdictions, says Richard Cupp, a law professor at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, and a proponent of focusing on animal welfare rather than animal rights. “But if they lose it could be a significant step backward for the movement. They’re playing with fire.”

The litigation has been in the works since 2007, when animal rights attorney Steven Wise founded NhRP, an association of about 60 lawyers, scientists, and policy experts. The group argues that cognitively advanced animals like chimpanzees and dolphins are so self-aware that keeping them in captivity—whether a zoo or research laboratory—is tantamount to slavery. “It’s a terrible torture we inflict on them, and it has to stop,” Wise says. “And all of human law says the way things stop is when courts and legislatures recognize that the being imprisoned is a legal person.”

NhRP spent 5 years researching the best legal strategy—and best jurisdiction—for its first cases. The upshot: a total of three lawsuits to be filed in three New York trial courts this week on behalf of four resident chimpanzees. One, named Tommy, lives in Gloversville in a “used trailer lot … isolated in a cage in a dark shed,” according to an NhRP press release. Another, Kiko, resides in a cage on private property in Niagara Falls, the group says. The final two, Hercules and Leo, are research chimps at Stony Brook University. Wise says that 11 scientists have filed affidavits in support of the group’s claims; most of them, including Jane Goodall, have worked with nonhuman primates.

In each case, NhRP is petitioning judges with a writ of habeas corpus, which allows a person being held captive to have a say in court. In a famous 1772 case, an English judge allowed such a writ for a black slave named James Somerset, tacitly acknowledging that he was a person—not a piece of property—and subsequently freed him. The case helped spark the eventual abolition of slavery in England and the United States. Wise is hoping for something similar for the captive chimps. If his group wins any of the current cases, it will ask that the animals be transferred to a chimpanzee sanctuary in Florida. Any loss, he says, will immediately be appealed.

Regardless of what happens, NhRP is already preparing litigation for other states, and not all of it involves chimpanzees. “Gorillas, orangutans, elephants, whales, dolphins—any animal that has these sorts of cognitive capabilities, we would be comfortable bringing suit on behalf of,” Wise says. Some would be research animals; others would be creatures that simply live in confined spaces, such as zoos and aquariums. “No matter how these first cases turn out, we’re going to move onto other cases, other states, other species of animals,” he says. “We’re going to file as many lawsuits as we can over the next 10 or 20 years.”

Frankie Trull, the president of the National Association for Biomedical Research in Washington, D.C., says her organization will fight any attempts at personhood in the courts. Chimpanzees, she notes, are important models for behavioral research, as well as for developing vaccines against viruses like hepatitis C. “Assigning rights to animals akin to what humans have would be chaotic for the research community.”

Anatomist Susan Larson, who studies the Stony Brook chimpanzees to shed light on the origin of bipedalism in humans, says she is "very shocked and upset" by the lawsuit. She says the chimps live in an indoor enclosure comprised of three rooms—“about the size of an average bedroom”—plus another room where they can climb, hang, and jump from ladders and tree trunks. “Everything I do with these animals I’ve done on myself,” she says. “I understand that animal rights activists don’t want these animals mistreated, but they’re hampering our ability to study them before they become extinct.”

The more immediate threat to Larson’s research isn’t NhRP, however—it is the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In June, NIH announced plans to retire all but 50 of its 360 research chimpanzees and phase out much of the chimp research it supports. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, meanwhile, has recommended that captive chimps be listed as endangered, which would limit any research that isn’t in their best interest. “Soon, the type of work I do will no longer be possible,” Larson says. “They have effectively ended my research program.”

Stephen Ross, the director of the Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, Illinois, wonders if there’s a compromise. Ross, who has studied chimpanzees for more than 20 years and played a role in crafting NIH’s new policy, advocates ending private ownership of chimps and invasive research. All other chimpanzees, he says, whether located at zoos or universities, should live in large enclosures, with access to the outside, and in group sizes of at least seven individuals. “You don’t need personhood to do that,” he says. “I think we share a common philosophy,” he says of NhRP. “We want to make things better for chimps. We just disagree on how to get there.”

To participate in a live video chat on this topic, check out this week's ScienceLIVE: Should Animals be Granted Legal Rights?

A more detailed version of this story will appear in the 6 December issue of Science.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

How we know what atmosphere is like on a planet outside our solar system

i dig this science shit . . .

from Boing Boing:

WASP-19b is an exoplanet whose atmosphere is probably super hot and super poisonous — filled with methane and hydrogen cyanide instead of water. This video explains how astronomers can even begin to guess at the composition of the atmospheres of far away worlds. (Bonus: A soothing elevator music soundtrack!)

Since the early 1990's, astronomers have known that extrasolar planets, or "exoplanets," orbit stars light-years beyond our own solar system. Although most exoplanets are too distant to be directly imaged, detailed studies have been made of their size, composition, and even atmospheric makeup - but how? By observing periodic variations in the parent star's brightness and color, astronomers can indirectly determine an exoplanet's distance from its star, its size, and its mass. But to truly understand an exoplanet astronomers must study its atmosphere, and they do so by splitting apart the parent star's light during a planetary transit.

This video is public domain and can be downloaded at: http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/goto?11428

Like our videos? Subscribe to NASA's Goddard Shorts HD podcast:

Or find NASA Goddard Space Flight Center on facebook:

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Wednesday, December 4, 2013


from our friend Richard Metzger over at Dangerous Minds:

“Some people are shits, darling.”—William S. Burroughs

Like Republicans.

I live in Los Angeles, where I honestly don’t know ANY Republicans. I’m sure there must be at least a couple of them living here, but I’m not planning to actually go out looking for them any time soon. Let ‘em stay under those rocks. In fact, I don’t even know a single Republican who I am not related to by blood or by marriage. As in none, not one, zero.

These family members aside, I do not like Republicans. I hate them. If you are a Republican, I hate YOU. Seems like the majority of my fellow Californians might feel the same way, luckily—the GOP is a politically insignificant entity in California, where the Democrats hold a supermajority and practically every top job in the state—so Republican idiocy will probably never touch my life in any sort of meaningful way, except, of course, for reading annoying, blood-pressure raising articles about the GOP asshats we do still have here, like this at The LA Times.

Opponents of the Affordable Care Act never stop producing new tricks to undermine the reform’s effectiveness. But leave it to California Republicans to reach for the bottom. Their goal appears to be to discredit the act by highlighting its costs and penalties rather than its potential benefits.

The device chosen by the Assembly’s GOP caucus is a website at the address coveringhealthcareca.com. If that sounds suspiciously like coveredca.com, which is the real website for the California insurance exchange, it may not be a coincidence. Bogus insurance websites have sprung up all over, aiming to steer consumers away from legitimate enrollment services. Just a couple of weeks ago California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris shut down 10 bogus insurance sites, some of them with names very similar to the real thing. She must have overlooked the GOP’s entry.

A goddamn fake healthcare website! How low is that? If you click on a tab that reads “Don’t have health insurance” on the homepage, you are taken to a “penalty calculator” and not a premium calculator. Shits! They’re evil shits. Imagine that you’re an earnest person with preconditions seeking affordable health insurance and you stumble into this site by accident. It would be infuriating.

The GOP site also takes careful pains to explain to the young how THEIR money will be subsidizing health care for the old. Keep it classy GOP… Hey wait a minute: I thought old people were the GOP base?

And don’t young people eventually become old people? This may have already occurred to some of them. Bit of a mixed message there, isn’t it? Not like cognitive dissonance has ever been much of an impediment to Republicans, but this strikes me as being as incompetent as it is evil and in such a small, petty way. There’s even a section devoted to scaring people that signing up for Obamacare will result in identity theft!


Hunter at Daily Kos wrote:
If you are so nasty a person that you can’t live with the thought of insuring yourself because it means some other person might get healthcare using one one hundredth of a cent of your money, the world will certainly not be missing you much after you are gone. Godspeed!

This is yet another of the reasons the current incarnation of the Republican Party is little more than a political oozing sore. There is probably a downside to trying to kill off your own voters to score a momentary political point, but let’s just say the members of the party brain trust in my state could meet in a closet and still have enough room for the vacuum and boxes of Christmas decorations.

Yep, that’s our Republicans. How I love California.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

DRONES for Amazon.com?

This is some crazy shit . . .

Amazon Prime Air: drone-based 30 minute delivery

from Boing Boing:

Jeff Bezos took to 60 Minutes to announce Prime Air, a drone-based 30-minute delivery system for densely populated areas that comes with its own video design-fiction illustrating how it might work. The vision is an exciting one, but the designfic elides some important questions like the regulatory framework under which thousands (millions?) of drones might share the sky as businesses compete to do airborne delivery; whether that framework would be sufficient to actually maintain public safety (hello midair drone collision over a busy highway with attendant plummeting shrapnel into the path of speeding cars!); and what the energy and carbon footprint of drones would be, especially with comparison to conventional delivery logistics.

On the last point, I'm somewhat optimistic. One big problem with renewables is storing excess power generated during peak periods (tidal inflows/outflows, high wind events, strong sun), and having fleets of independent, battery-powered systems handy presents a solution: use their batteries as storage for this excess capacity. So if you imagine networks of drone-depots topped with solar arrays and/or windmills (or near to tidal generators on the coast), these could use drone batteries to both store energy for the drones, and as a storage medium to draw upon for internal power usage (pick-and-pull robots, etc) during the troughs in renewable output.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Storm turns lighthouses into a chilling masterpiece

from Cottage Life
Hollywood set designers make a career out of creating enchanted towers and mythic-looking castles for big-budget fantasy films. But if you visit one of the Great Lakes in the winter, you can often see those special effects in real life without spending a dime.

That’s exactly what photographers Thomas Zakowski and Tom Gill found when the lighthouses at the St. Joseph North Pier on the coast of Lake Michigan froze over. And thankfully, they pulled out their cameras to document nature’s frigid masterpiece.

The pair of century-old lighthouses, which stand 10.5 and 17.4 metres tall, are connected by a catwalk that leads to some impressive ice sculptures when battered by winter waves. Known for their spectacular icicles, the lighthouses have become an unlikely winter destination for tourists. And based on the breathtaking images below, we can see why.

Source: Thomas Zakowski via 500px.com and Tom Gill via lapstrake.blogspot.ca

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Los Angeles Plays Itself…
full movie

Los Angeles Plays Itself (Documentary, 2003)

A video essay by CalArts professor Thom Andersen, examining how Los Angeles has been depicted in movies from the silent era to modern times. It consists almost entirely of clips from other films, and has never been commercially released.