Saturday, January 25, 2014

"... she is vulnerable to people looking for meaning in her every move" (Open Thread)

I came across this video while looking for something to link to Dave Spector's commentary on Caroline Kennedy's, "undiplomatically frank", take on the Japanese annual dolphin hunt. (That sentence was a mouthful).
"The lyrics are the words of a sinister, controlling character, who is watching "every breath you take; every move you make".
I woke up in the middle of the night with that line in my head, sat down at the piano and had written it in half an hour. The tune itself is generic, an aggregate of hundreds of others, but the words are interesting. It sounds like a comforting love song. I didn't realize at the time how sinister it is. I think I was thinking of Big Brother, surveillance and control. —Sting
"Sting later said he was disconcerted by how many people think the song is more positive than it is. He insists it's about the obsession with a lost lover, and the jealousy and surveillance that follow. "One couple told me 'Oh we love that song; it was the main song played at our wedding!' I thought, 'Well, good luck.'" When asked why he appears angry in the music video Sting told BBC Radio 2, "I think the song is very, very sinister and ugly and people have actually misinterpreted it as being a gentle little love song, when it's quite the opposite."

Bikini fashion show

11 bikini styles...what works and what does not?

Glenn Reynolds

C-SPAN2 BookTV. Forty minutes. "The New School" How the Information Age Will Save American Education from Itself" at Manhattan Institute for Public Research. New York City Harvard Club.

For the video you might need to type in [glenn reynolds] into their search box upper left, then a small window opens.

It was neat-o seeing Glenn Reynolds on television today speaking to serious people and pleasantly without contention or animus. He delivers a very good talk, better than his brief videos, I bet his vocal coach told him bring it down an octave. I sure enjoyed listening, and the questions were good too at the end, he handles that all very well, but they are not saved here. He has his tour down pat. He opens and closes with "something that cannot go on forever will not go on forever."  It is positive, and it is helpful and you will be smarter by listening. Who am I kidding? You already heard it several times over, it's just fun seeing him say it again like that all at once. He is getting very good at this book promotion regimen.

I like his ideas and his organization of them because he provides positive solutions. He is describing more so than criticizing, although his criticisms about administrative bloat are harsh, and from a personal standpoint he validates a few of my own ideas about good shortcuts and provides a lot more positive material when talking about these things, beyond, "Oh man, I sure am glad I'm not your age facing all this." So lame when unaccompanied with possible answers.  Glenn Reynolds has helped me  in talking to people on this subject and to feel more positive and hopeful about their own future without taking on ridiculous debilitating debt.


Baby hummingbird.

Selling: Check out Mitt on Netflix

“It is not appropriate to say only dolphin hunting is inhumane”

"[M]s. Kennedy (U.S. ambassador to Japan) has quickly surprised her Japanese hosts by being undiplomatically frank on delicate issues. She created a stir recently when she publicly expressed concern about a bloody annual dolphin hunt that is widely condemned abroad, but that many Japanese view as a part of their traditional culture."
“Deeply concerned by inhumaneness of drive hunt dolphin killing,” Ms. Kennedy wrote last week on Twitter. “USG opposes drive hunt fisheries,” she added, referring to the United States government’s stance on the hunts, in which dolphins are herded into coves so they can be hacked to death.
I thought Obama was not a co-signer to American exceptionalism. What is Ms. Kennedy doing, promoting a version of our values over there? Who does she think is in the White House? George W Bush?
“How do you rein someone like her in?” said Dave Spector, an American who has worked in Japan for more than 25 years as a television commentator and who has followed Ms. Kennedy’s ambassadorship closely. “Her father is on the 50-cents coin, for crying out loud. She is bigger than life.”

Her fame is so formidable, he said, that she is vulnerable to people looking for meaning in her every move.

But others quickly criticized her for sticking her nose into something that they say is not her, or any other foreigner’s, business. Some angrily reminded her that Commodore Matthew C. Perry opened Japan at gunpoint in 1853 to secure ports for American whalers.

“We don’t want to be told such things by Americans who used to kill whales just for their oil,” said one user. Another was succinct: “Stupid woman! Go home!”

How do we move forward?

Even while Obama has been busy generating debacles some of the rest of the world has been performing miracles.  The most effective retort has not been despair but the flank attack; to ignore Washington and make things work on our own. And perhaps that is the way of things; for the green shoot has outpaced the termite from the beginning of the world and the candle, though it wavers, never goes out without someone re-lighting it again.
If disaster has a silver lining it is the realization that the Obama cavalry is not racing to rescue just over the horizon. Any chance of getting out of this bind is strictly from initiative. Get going. There’s nobody here but us.
John Buchan, who was part of the generation whose universe was shaken by the Great War remarked upon the tremendous healing power of life. He talked about how “the world must remain an oyster for youth to open. If not, youth will cease to be young, and that will be the end of everything.” We try and try again, if not in one way then another.

"Free Crack Pipes Urged To Slow Spread Of HIV In SF"

"Barbara Garcia, Director of the San Francisco Department of Public Health, elaborated in a phone call to KPIX 5."
“This is a recommendation from a community group,” Garcia said. “And we get lots of different kinds of recommendations. That recommendation has not come to me. And I’m telling you that if it did, I would say ‘absolutely no, we are not going to distribute crack pipes.’ We have a lot of things to consider for those who are using crack for improving their health. And the distribution of crack pipes is not something I’m going to consider.”

Crack pipe distribution programs have been successful in Canada, said Laura Thomas, a member of the HIV Health Services Planning Council (HPPC), the group that recently suggested San Francisco consider a similar program.
“San Francisco has a long history of being at the cutting edge of things that we have turned out to be very right on… and I would like to see this one be another of those things that we were right about before the rest of the country catches on,” said Thomas.

“It may seem counter intuitive, but it’s a great program,” said Thomas. “Once you can bring people into your program, make them feel respected, taken care of, then they’re more likely to come back and get on HIV meds and want to be engaged and taking care of their health.”

transmission tower

Beebee beep beebee beep. Come on, Kids, let's climb a transmission tower. We won't get in trouble. This is the pinnacle of monkeyhood. I dare you to watch the whole thing. Theses guys should be awarded honorary prehensile monkey tails. If you chose to stick with the video and resist that, whatchacallit, vertigo thing that happens with the GoPro swinging back and forth way up there indicating his head is moving around wildly and probably unnecessarily for dramatic purposes while climbing onward and upward as the tower tapers to a pole, then to the top of that pole, you will notice him say as he reaches thunderstorm height, and you sit in your robe and your house slippers and sip your morning coffee, "There is no fast way down," and you think to yourself, you have to think this, "There isn't?"

He failed to mention those spiky things, the metal flowers on long stems he called them, that attract electrical charges in the air to dissipate before building up to lightening strike, they are also fun to throw at people from up there like Ninja stars, the prank victims never do see what hit them.

This video is helpful for you to copy, what to take with you, tools, paraphernalia, how to dress, what to say, buzzwords, when you attempt this yourself should anyone challenge your authority to climb the tower.

Friday, January 24, 2014

We've arrested the wrong Bieber

Top Secret

The movie. It's old.

Entertaining and almost funny in places, and in some other places actually quite amusing. From the standpoint of guessing which sight-gag the new scene holds and the satisfaction that comes from being right each time, or experience disappointment the scene is not made even more ridiculous, more sight-gag and joke loaded. Like a Mad magazine. The boots are used again, framing-gag, and the joke of forced perspective never gets old. Yes it does. No it doesn't.

And the satisfaction that comes from observing actors grow in their craft over time.

Somebody said, "Thanks, I just bought that off Amazon."

I thought that must be kind of cheap. See for myself, I'd watch. Turns out apparently the movie is such a national treasure Amazon offers it free streaming for its Prime customers to make sure all of us see it and that is pretty much everyone. Like Inconvenient Truth, and Fahrenheit 911, and Birth of a Nation, that shows the film is right up there with Citizen's Cane.

You can watch it for free.

It is important film about world history, WWII Nazis and how Americans behaving like Elvis Presley prevailed in the war by everyone being confidently silly. Educational.

One of the best parts is where the hero is introduced to members of French Resistance, all exaggeratedly menacing. Camera pans the line of characters so you look for the gag, and there it is, one fighter is pumping a spring-loaded top. Over-the-top menacing with weaponry so expect them to behave as tender pussycats. Nigel the anti-hero is shown as the character in Blue Lagoon. As the fighters are introduced it is apparent right off you are being put on, their names are ordinary French words and now they must stick with these names, Chevalier, Montage, Detante, Avant-Garde, Déjà Vu (have we not met before, Messier?), Garçon, Soufflé Escargot, Chocolate Mousse, and they all look like roughnecks.

This is the fun way to learn Spanish.

I found it interesting that someone finds these the star moments. 

The Book Project

A casual visitor to Lem's blog would read the topics and the comments, and then sit back and drink a few belts of whiskey muse for a few moments about the high level of writing that has evolved on this blog.  There really is no place like Lem's, he said clicking his heels together.  The originality and creativity of the writing are testament to the diversity of personalities and perspectives of the writers.

With Lem's support I am proposing that we write a book.

The premise is simple.  As many of us who want to participate in The Book Project will volunteer to write one chapter every few weeks.  For example, if there are ten writers, then each one will write and post a chapter every ten weeks.  There will be a basic cast of characters at the start, and each author has latitude to add, kill off, or otherwise change the characters and their various settings.   You don't need to be a regular poster to participate.  Your chapters can be emailed to Lem or to me for posting when it's your turn.

The chapters need not be lengthy, just interesting.  Keep the plot moving, add twists and turns and surprises. A new chapter will be posted, once each week, on the same day each week, until we have reached the end of the book.  How will we know when we've reached the end?  No idea, but we will.

Some of us are artists.  That's a big plus. Photoshopped pictures, gifs and other art that explains or enhances your chapters is wonderful.  Or add background music.  Really, you have a lot of liberty in what you write and how it is presented.   Be original, and don't personalize your writing with any remarks about other commenters.

Are you in?  Send Lem an email with your email address.  Lem will sent that information to me, and I'll be in contact with more details.

Have you ever ducked and covered?

Here are some low-lights of a New Yorker article showing how the management of the U.S.'s nuclear program mirrored and mirrors the movie, Dr. Strangelove. 
"Aware that his decision [to allow military officers freedom to launch nuclear missiles] might create public unease about who really controlled America’s nuclear arsenal, Eisenhower insisted that his delegation of Presidential authority be kept secret. At a meeting with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he confessed to being “very fearful of having written papers on this matter.”
President John F. Kennedy was surprised to learn, just a few weeks after taking office, about this secret delegation of power. “A subordinate commander faced with a substantial military action,” Kennedy was told in a top-secret memo, “could start the thermonuclear holocaust on his own initiative if he could not reach you.” Kennedy and his national-security advisers were shocked not only by the wide latitude given to American officers but also by the loose custody of the roughly three thousand American nuclear weapons stored in Europe. Few of the weapons had locks on them. Anyone who got hold of them could detonate them. And there was little to prevent NATO officers from Turkey, Holland, Italy, Great Britain, and Germany from using them without the approval of the United States.
...Harold Agnew, a Los Alamos physicist who accompanied the [Congressional NATO tour] group, was especially concerned to see German pilots sitting in German planes that were decorated with Iron Crosses—and carrying American atomic bombs. Agnew, in his own words, “nearly wet his pants” when he realized that a lone American sentry with a rifle was all that prevented someone from taking off in one of those planes and bombing the Soviet Union.

It's Friday!

I love that song and so does my wife. She calls it "the song that just keeps giving" because it's so relentless.

I saw The Nuge not once but twice in the 1970's, before his music went south.

Neil deGrasse Tyson: 'You need a tandem social moral code to go along with it'

"Renowned astrophysicist and StarTalk Radio host Neil deGrasse Tyson has some pretty wild ideas for how we should improve the human body, but he turns serious as he explains how we should appreciate the fragility and finiteness of life."

Business Insider

Mommy's little helper

Goodfella Arrest: Not a Believer

"More than 30 years after the crime, authorities in New York have charged an alleged mobster in connection with the Lufthansa heist at JFK Airport. At the time, it was the biggest robbery in US history. It's still one of the most famous, thanks to the film, Goodfellas."

Thursday, January 23, 2014


Visitors - Official Trailer (2013)

Variations on a theme

Follow the link to find an unusual father-daughter project. A self-taught Australian photographer and his 5 year-old daughter team up to recreate classical portraits. Even on a much lesser scale, this would be a fun idea to do with young kids. 

via XRay, via Insty

Open Thread

What's on your mind today?  Anything bothering you?  Post it in the comments section.

Isn't it time this blog did the obligatory debate about how sucky one tradition or another is?  Or let's mock the idea of manliness and teaching boys to be boys.  Or perhaps glow over some drivel written by an obscure east-coast columnist in a magazine no one has ever heard of?

We're falling behind the times here and frankly, this situation embarrasses Lem when he goes to those top-secret blog masters private gatherings in Davos.  The other blog owners point their fingers at him and say "Ha ha ha!  You have no post-deconstructionalism on your blog, you behind-the-times person."  And then they hide his appetizers.  You can only imagine how dejected Lem must feel.  It bothers him all the way back home, aboard the Lem's Levity Gulfstream G4 jet.

Lem has a jet?

Of course he does.  And proud of him we are, because Lem started out as a Little Lebowski Achiever.

"IRS Requests Hollywood 'Right Leaning' Group's Sensitive Information"

"The people spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the organization’s confidentiality strictures, and to avoid complicating discussions with the I.R.S."

"Those people said that the application had been under review for roughly two years, and had at one point included a demand — which was not met — for enhanced access to the group’s security-protected website, which would have revealed member names. Tax experts said that an organization’s membership list is information that would not typically be required. The I.R.S. already had access to the site’s basic levels, a request it considers routine for applications for 501(c)(3) nonprofit status."

The IRS questionable treatment of citizen groups, seeking non-profit status, continues.

In the NYT comments...
Pierre Anonymot, Paris
These people have every right in the world to meey secretly as long as they're not seditious. But not on my taxpayer's dime.


Cartoonist set up in the Facebookiverse had me cracking up laughing. He has a set of animal characters that like to party and he has a bizarrely uncomfortable fixation of on the crucifixion and breakfast cereals, also strange sexual wanderings into animal pairings. The praying mantis killed me.

Christine Sinicki

OMG...this speech is so full of shit. wish I could get up and walk out. 
Why don't you? Guess: Too unseemly for you. 

Wisconsin representative displeased with Walker's State of the State speech. The link goes to Twichy with screenshot (before it disappears.) 

I'm always curious what representatives who speak as I do look like. I sense a kindred spirit, the impatience, the irreverence, the unprofessionalism resonate with me.

That does help. I feel as if I know her already.

*reaches across, takes hand* Tell me, what parts of this speech are so full of shit that you characterize the whole thing shit and irks you so bad the impulse you resist is to leave. 

I looked at that speech, admittedly quickly, my fast outline follows, (skip it) and I didn't see anything objectionable. 

I'm very good at this sort of thing. Getting to the heart of the matter.

Therapy, if you like.

My street cred is piling up, just tonight right before this I passed a guy slouched against an empty brick planter, a bundle put up where a bush would normally be but removed to discourage loitering, and it's cold outside now so I stopped and asked him, "What are you doing out here?" And, Brother, did the floodgate open, jeeze, the outpouring was unexpected, it whizzed by actually, the torrent did, I lost most of it because he began automatically rapid fire rattling, he went from teaching people how to loose weight to smoking pot to drinking alcohol to doing meth to shouldn't have called the cops given his distrust of authority figures and the bitch's family got money and the guy doesn't have to worry about anything, and his kid was taken away and she does dope and cannot be trusted but he never gets in trouble because he has protection.

"You have boy?" 

"Oh my boy? Uh yeah. No, she don't got him he was gonna be in foster care but then they wanted Utah got this thing where if you don't have 69% then, back then when I was paying alimony and child support they can come and so they wanted her family to have him because they're actually, I believe this, like a cult, her family to take him 'cause they got money but nothing will ever happen to that guy because he's got money and protection.

"My nads are freezing. Here." 

He said, "Thank you for talking." 

So you see, I'm a regular psychologist over here. I'll listen. And you won't even have to pay me. I'll pay you. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Anniversary of Loss

In this post, Ace brought to my attention President Obama's statement on the 41st anniversary of the legalization of abortion and the emotional response I had to that statement lingers. As I was talking about it with a friend a bit ago my chest felt physically heavy as I considered the words "opportunities to fulfill their dreams". How can one encourage another to "fulfill their dreams" at the cost of an innocent human life?

Someone dear to me chose not to bear the only child she was ever given a chance to carry. For her, every Mother's Day is filled with pain and sadness. Loss. Her dreams often include a vision of, she imagines, the child she will never know. These are the dreams that sprang to mind as I read President Obama's words.

an adorable story

The Christmas story as a girl recalls the parts important to her, that is, she is not reading so we're not having the usual story the usual way.  The tiny hands say something when it appears as if they're just waving around, no, there is meaning in there. I have this thing about watching hands and reading meaning into them even when it is not there. To a fault. One time I was observing a girl in the arms of her mother, watching the group through bulletproof glass, so quite dense and green, and up there two floors, and across the street, wave "bye bye" to someone close by down there on the mall and right then I heard a baby girls' voice distinctly directly and sharply in my ear say, "Bob."  My brain provided the voice. *whispers* "He's writing from Colorado."

People Have Told Lies Since the Beginning Of History, Despite This Fact There Have Been No Advances In Lying Technology

A lie is a false statement to a person or group intentionally made by another person or group who knows it is not the whole truth. 

There are a few variations to the intentional lie.  A bald-faced lie is one that is obviously a lie to those hearing it.  A big lie is a lie which attempts to trick the victim into believing something major which will likely be contradicted by some information the victim already possesses, or by their common sense.  Bullshit is often used to make the audience believe that one knows far more about the topic by feigning total certainty or making probable predictions.  An emergency lie is a strategic lie told when the truth may not be told because, for example, harm to a third party would result. An exaggeration (or hyperbole) occurs when the most fundamental aspects of a statement are true, but only to a limited extent.

A Brief History of Lying (below) demonstrates that lies have been with us forever, and in many settings.

Adam and Eve
In the Garden of Eden a booming "Who ate my apple?" was met by innocent looks all around and, eventually, a timid chorus of "Not me." This original lie was followed by punishment for being untruthful.

Old Testament
The Old Testament describes lies people told one another, or worse, told God.  After not getting His message clearly understood by the chosen people, God finally put it in writing in the form of the Tenth Commandment given to Moses up on that mountaintop. Let's review:
10.  Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness Against Thy Neighbor.
Compared with other commandments like Thou Shalt Not Kill or Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery, the Tenth Commandment seems to have a little wiggle room.  What's a "false witness"?  And who is a "neighbor"?  And what does "bear" mean, exactly?

Despite the Godly Tenth Commandment, history does not record a period of reduced lying.  There is no Golden Epoch When All Men Were Truthful in any record of history.

Red, White, Blue

Last night, Palladian was asking about neutrons in the context of blue which naturally led to a late night discussion of how neutrons protect us from being blown up.

Here's a story of another color -- red -- including explosions, isotopes, unpaired electrons, and radioactivity.

"What pushes someone not only to read a story but to pass it on?"

"In 350 B.C., Aristotle was already wondering what could make content—in his case, a speech—persuasive and memorable, so that its ideas would pass from person to person. The answer, he argued, was three principles: ethos, pathos, and logos. Content should have an ethical appeal, an emotional appeal, or a logical appeal. A rhetorician strong on all three was likely to leave behind a persuaded audience. Replace rhetorician with online content creator, and Aristotle’s insights seem entirely modern. Ethics, emotion, logic—it’s credible and worthy, it appeals to me, it makes sense. If you look at the last few links you shared on your Facebook page or Twitter stream, or the last article you e-mailed or recommended to a friend, chances are good that they’ll fit into those categories."

The Six Things That Make Stories Go Viral Will Amaze, and Maybe Infuriate, You

"I Am Overwhelmed by 55 Million Babies Killed Since Roe v. Wade"

"40 years ago today, seven men on the Supreme Court decided in favor of a case presented to them from a 27 year-old, unknown, post-abortive lawyer, Sarah Weddington. That case was Roe v. Wade and, along with its companion Doe v. Bolton, it legalized abortion in all 9 months of pregnancy, for any reason, in the United States."
Today, this 27 year-old is writing to you as a survivor of that decision. The undeniable fact is that nearly a third of my generation is missing. We are missing brothers, sisters, cousins, friends, husbands and wives.

You see, Miss Weddington’s generation got it wrong. In attempting to correct gender inequality in the workplace and in our society, they set into motion the ultimate act of discrimination – abortion. Instead of glorifying motherhood, they pitted the mother against her child, creating an endless cycle of selfishness, pain, and deceit.

But this generation is determined to set it right.
Let's end the slaughter. Let's give babies a chance.

Update: "Poll: 62% of Americans believe abortion is morally wrong"

famous hand model

Glad to join Obama in 50+ club.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

drive slowly

In preparation for driving in banshee snow, this elementary snowless driving lesson is offered. 

We interrupt this blog...

To tell you it's snowing like a banshee out there tonight. Ladies and gentlemen please, please, if you are indoors, stay indoors... driving is very hazardous tonight. We are now talking "10 to 14 inches for the five boroughs". Very hazardous. "We are expecting a greater volume of snow." The mayor said. "It will be very windy tonight". And "the combination of snow and blowing snow will make driving very very dangerous."

No Quickie Mart scratch-off Tonight 
If you are on the road, drive very carefully. We don't want anything bad to happen to you. Watch out for the plows. Visibility is below normal. Slow down. Use your blinkers. Start braking way before reaching the intersection. Turn the heat all the way up, if you are cold.
If you have anymore suggestions please share them with us in the comments.


When walking in a tiny rain
Across the vacant lot,
A pup’s a good companion–
If a pup you’ve got.

And when you’ve had a scold,
And no one loves you very,
And you cannot be merry,
A pup will let you look at him,
And even let you hold
His little wiggly warmness–
And let you snuggle down beside.
Nor mock the tears you have to hide.

from the poetry anthology, On City Streets, edited by Nancy Larrick

Instead Of Arguing About Race, Let's Talk About Neutron Stars...

Evan Izer. Geminga, 2011
19th-century laundry bluing, inks, gouache &
watercolor paint, 24k gold leaf on Arches paper

... or art, or gold, or laundry bluing. This is a painting I made several years ago, named after a neutron star which, unlike tired old concepts like "race", are scientifically proven to exist and, also unlike "race", are interesting to talk about.

Or you can talk about art, or anything you want, really.

If you're interested in looking at more of my work, I have a lot of drawings posted online. And since I asked you to look at my work, I promise not to insult you or call you names. It's the least I can do.

"OfficeMax Somehow Knew"

"An off-and-on customer of OfficeMax, Mike Seay has gotten the office supply company's junk mail for years. But the mail that the grieving Lindenhurst, Ill., father said he got from OfficeMax last week was different."
It was addressed to "Mike Seay, Daughter Killed in Car Crash."

Strange as that sounds, the mail reached the right guy. Seay's daughter Ashley, 17, was killed in a car crash with her boyfriend last year... 
"I’m not a big OfficeMax customer. And I wouldn’t have gone there and said anything to anybody there about it [the car crash]. That’s not their business," Seay, 46, told the Los Angeles Times in a phone interview Sunday.

In a statement, OfficeMax said the mailing "is a result of a mailing list rented through a third-party provider" and offered its apologies to Seay.
Should this happen to me, my mail will probably be addressed to 'Lem, the chronic lost iPod costumer.'

What 'fun fact' would your mail contain ? ... if you care to share.

Out on a Limb: Could Richard Sherman be interpreted as a 'gender role shift'?

"[T]his was Hampton’s most surprising finding: Today there are just a lot more women in public, proportional to men. It’s not just on Chestnut Street in Philadelphia. On the steps of the Met, the proportion of women increased by 33 percent, and in Bryant Park by 18 percent. The only place women decreased proportionally was in Boston’s Downtown Crossing — a major shopping area. “The decline of women within this setting could be interpreted as a shift in gender roles,” Hampton writes. Men seem to be “taking on an activity that was traditionally regarded as feminine.”

"Across the board, Hampton found that the story of public spaces in the last 30 years has not been aloneness, or digital distraction, but gender equity. “I mean, who would’ve thought that, in America, 30 years ago, women were not in public the same way they are now?” Hampton said. “We don’t think about that.”

Last two paragraphs of a NY Times Magazine article titled "Technology Is Not Driving Us Apart After All"

Watch the video (again please) with a perspective of 'gender roles' in mind.

kind of racist or something, and governors

I read a piece a few weeks ago, off Drudge I think, that was surprising because it stated flatly some European country's longstanding antipathy toward Obama, the latest thing, NSA, added to that antipathy. I forget which country and now I cannot find anything even close to it. (Bulgaria, Bavaria maybe)  The article said it was common knowledge that generally the whole country never did have much fondness for Obama, graffiti provided,  and my first thought upon reading that, the thing that pinged was emotion not thought, but it did have  words for it and words were, "F'k'n racists." 

Kabong. Flat as that. No other reason apparent. And it still isn't. I shocked myself by feeling it.  And hard. After thinking that, feeling it, I looked for a reason within the article and did not see any. 

That is how I get it when someone presumably more responsible and more rational more diplomatic than myself says such a thing. Including Obama. The conservative webosphere was aflutter this week, posts still up, with Obama remarking his poll numbers dip reflect a worsening racist streak among Americans, ridiculous, and each time I catch that I'm reminded of that feeling. It is real. We are stuck with it. That feeling is their whole reality, the whole lot, I think, and nothing you, I, we, anybody, says or does will shake it. Forever. It does answer everything. By feel. 

There honestly is no reason to examine the many seemingly petty reasons raised, no matter how Constitutionally dire, when flat wet blanket racism covers everything. That is what the first epiphany held.  It does sound stupid now writing  it out like this, but it was fully felt, backwards like that, a jolt by parallax provided by a new view of reacting emotionally to a European country's sorry-ass inexplicably bad attitude. It was an immediate and intense feeling. You had to be there. 

So there's that.

Two.  Governors are small. This one really got me. The same way, on an emotional level.  The dreadful penny dropped when governor-related things happened at once. 

Prefaced by this. I knew a fellow who made the news through his volunteer work raising surprisingly delightfully large sums for charity. Over a few years he worked out a system of collecting as he worked a usual job involving large rotations of clients and he turned in actual dollars at the end of the drive not just pledges as the other fund raisers do, there was a competitive edge to it. His reason: laziness. he didn't want to go back and collect. He wanted it over with each year. His individual sums surpassed corporate-matched group sums and he received a good citizen award from the governor for all that. Romer at the time. I went with him to Romer's office for a small ceremony. (By chance. Ended up touring the dome structure with him. The two of us flew around the whole place. It's like Hitchcock's Saboteur in there, the double dome of the capitol, between domes, through one, and outside at the top. The whole mountain range is described on the stone parapet. I know the top secret door on mezzanine level to the 19th century industrial metal steps the weave between the beams supporting the dome. The door with the sign on it STEPS TO THE UPPER DOME)  That is where he got hooked on television cameras, at the governor's office. He discovered a fondness for television cameras and developed an annoying proclivity for going to them at public events. When he sees a television camera it becomes a magnet pulling him away from us like a cartoon stretching his body away like the wavy lines of alluring aroma from a cartoon pie. A fast habit that was just as quickly ridiculed. A weakness. A smallness. 

Broncos win the Conference. Hurray. Go Broncos. And everyone is excited at the peak of it and everyone has something to say about  the whole thing and of course the governor is there too, "Hey look, a camera."

"Well, I guess I have to buy my buddy-governor a hamburger because before the game we were, we just made a bet that if…" 

Yeah, it's all about you and what you were doing and how you tangentially relate to the game. I clicked over to other post-game revelries  and within a minute there he is again, click, same thing agan. Camera, to camera, to camera, I'm seeing, after the game. What else is a governor wandering around by himself post Conference game to do? Seek a camera and talk about himself. Small. And the contrast between the gladiator types and the governor types is stark. 

I heard Cuomo. I heard a man stuff a quite lot of straw there into an old flannel shirt and take a potshot at his propped up scarecrow. Small in suggesting which portion of citizenry he does not feel comfortable governing. The feeling undoubtedly mutual all around. What was the intent of all that, to drive real people off, make real people feel his real discomfort? Invite extreme conservatives to take up a challenge in New York? 

Monday, January 20, 2014

A Short Guide To A Long Life

From the book of the same name written by David B. Agus, M.D., and available through the Amazon portal here on Lem's blog.  I suggest you read this book.

Dr. Agus is one of the world's leading cancer doctors and cancer researchers.  He is a professor of medicine and engineering at USC.  He heads USC's West Side Cancer Center and the Center For Applied Molecular Medicine.

At least twice a week, Dr. Agus has to tell a patient that he has nothing left in his arsenal to combat the patient's cancer.  It's over, and in most cases the end of life is near.  It's a gut-wrenching conversation that Dr. Agus has never gotten used to.
That we are no better at treating cancer today, with a few notable exceptions, than we were fifty years ago is maddening.  More infuriating still is that many of my patients could have prevented their cancer or other life-altering disease had they done a few things differently earlier in life.
I'm pretty certain that most people could delay or totally prevent a vast majority of illnesses we see today - including not only cancer but heart and kidney disease, stroke, obesity, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, and dementia and other neurodegenerative disorders - if they just adopt a few healthy habits early on and avoid the ones that lead to illness.
The best way to fight disease and other ailments that develop over time is to prevent them.  A staggering seven out of ten deaths among Americans each year are from chronic diseases, with heart disease, cancer and stroke accounting for more than fifty percent of American deaths each year.

Dr. Agus offers sixty-five rules he believes take the confusion out of knowing how to live to be healthy and feel wonderful at any age.  They aren't terribly exciting or difficult, but taken together they embody a recipe for healthful living.

The rules are below the jump.  Don't look if you don't want to. Carry on with your normal activities.

"Confessions of a NYC Taxi driver"

"Sex in cabs — it happens a lot, says Salomon."
“With me, I do find it offensive, but my level of resentment seems to depend on the way the passenger goes about it . . . I do get annoyed if they’re pretending I’m not even there,” he says.

That was the case one night when he picked up a couple at The Bowery Hotel. As the woman closed the door, she blurted out, “You don’t mind if we have sex in your cab, do you?”

Before he could answer, “she was on him like Fido on a leg.”

Salomon drove half a block before hitting a red light. Coming to a stop, he noticed a cop car and rolled down the window.

“Is this legal?” he asked the female officer.

'Nasa says Mars mystery rock ‘appeared’ from nowhere'

"A mysterious rock which appeared in front of the Opportunity rover is “like nothing we’ve ever seen before”, according to Mars exploration scientists at Nasa."

"Experts said they were “completely confused” by both the origins and makeup of the object, which is currently being investigated by Opportunity’s various measuring instruments."

"Astronomers noticed the new rock had “appeared” without any explanation on an outcrop which had been empty just days earlier. The rover has been stuck photographing the same region of Mars for more than a month due to bad weather, with scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California monitoring the images it sends."

"We had driven a metre or two away from here, and I think the idea that somehow we mysteriously flicked it with a wheel is the best explanation," Squyres said. Squyres is the lead Mars Exploration rover scientist.
Where do you think this rock came from? Unserious answers welcomed.

"New Record for Human Brain: Fastest Time to See an Image"

"The human brain can achieve the remarkable feat of processing an image seen for just 13 milliseconds, scientists have found. This lightning speed obliterates the previous record speed of 100 milliseconds reported by previous studies."

"In the study, scientists showed people a series of images flashed for 13 to 80 milliseconds. Viewers successfully identified things like a "picnic" or "smiling couple" even after the briefest of glimpses."

"The fact that you can do that at these high speeds indicates to us that what vision does is find concepts," study leader Mary Potter, a professor of brain and cognitive sciences at MIT in Cambridge, Mass., said in a statement." That's what the brain is doing all day long — trying to understand what we're looking at."


"The Lord’s going to take care of you"

The following is an excerpt of a civil rights champion Martin Luther King speech, delivered at New Covenant Baptist Church, Chicago, Illinois, on April 9 1967. Complete transcript and audio here.
I remember down in Montgomery, Alabama, an experience that I’d like to share with you. When we were in the midst of the bus boycott, we had a marvelous old lady that we affectionately called Sister Pollard. She was a wonderful lady about seventy-two years old and she was still working at that age. (Yes) During the boycott she would walk every day to and from work. She was one that somebody stopped one day and said, "Wouldn’t you like to ride?" And she said, "No." And then the driver moved on and stopped and thought, and backed up a little and said, "Well, aren’t you tired?" She said, "Yes, my feets is tired, but my soul is rested." (All right)

She was a marvelous lady. And one week I can remember that I had gone through a very difficult week. (Yes) Threatening calls had come in all day and all night the night before, and I was beginning to falter and to get weak within and to lose my courage. (All right) And I never will forget that I went to the mass meeting that Monday night very discouraged and a little afraid, and wondering whether we were going to win the struggle. (Oh yeah) And I got up to make my talk that night, but it didn’t come out with strength and power. Sister Pollard came up to me after the meeting and said, "Son, what’s wrong with you?" Said, "You didn’t talk strong enough tonight."

And I said, "Nothing is wrong, Sister Pollard, I’m all right."

She said, "You can’t fool me." Said, "Something wrong with you." And then she went on to say these words, "Is the white folks doing something to you that you don’t like?"

I said, "Everything is going to be all right, Sister Pollard."

And then she finally said, "Now come close to me and let me tell you something one more time, and I want you to hear it this time." She said, "Now I done told you we is with you." She said, "Now, even if we ain’t with you, the Lord is with you." (Yes) And she concluded by saying, "The Lord’s going to take care of you."
In honor of Martin Luther King Day, via a 'black conservative' tweet.

Draw a metal tube in Photoshop.

The idea is suggest contour with shading by using select tool (rectangular) and gradient tool.

Select-rectangle tool is shared with a few other select-shapes, and gradient tool is shared with fill tool (bucket)

The gif shows incidentally the gradient tool being selected by going off eraser tool, and red color changing to make arrows.

Gradients do not translate well to gif form because transitions need more shades than gif's 256 color limit allows. Color transitions from one to another tend to band noticeably even shades of the same color, and oddly that unfortunate rainbow-like banding can be minimized and even corrected completely by adding noise to it, that is, when saving the document by adding dither at that point rather than by eliminating dither.

By this 'select + gradient' technique you can make a simple but decent flagpole with shades of gray. Yeah, I just said that.

Color is changed by tapping the upper of two color boxes at the bottom of the tool menu bar. The boxes represent foreground and background color. Switch them by tapping the arrow between them. By tapping the upper box a color palette menu appears you can also enter the color by number. For gradients, the two color boxes represent the "from" color and "to" color of the gradient.

The rectangular select tool works by starting at a point and dragging to another point diagonal to the fist to produce a rectangular selection area. The selection itself, the dotted outline, can be worked on separately as with stroking to turn the selection line into a drawn line. It can be its own separate layer. I could outline the pole as a cartoon.The select tool means the area within the selected rectangle can be affected but nothing outside of it will be. Usually. But not always, as with filters. And Photoshop allows the selection to be switched to outside the area instead of inside the selected area. For now all we need is for gradient tool to work within the selected area and even if it didn't we could gradient a whole layer and eliminate everything except our little piece of it.

Know what to do when selection does not work to isolate a specific area as with filters? Make two layers, apply filter to one entire layer and use selection to isolate the area to cut and apply directly on top of the unfiltered layer and blend them.

Our pole gradient is unusual because it is not applied to large area like a background horizon where you imagine this tool is most useful. Rather this time the gradient is unusually tall and skinny. The pole is formed in a separate layer, not directly onto the white. Otherwise you'd be dealing with the background white all the time, dragging that around all over the place, filling in the place it vacates when moved.  Best to keep background layer(s) separate from everything else until you are done. That way you can do whatever you want with the pole shape. So this selection shown below is made in a second layer, not directly onto the background. This is singularly the most important thing about Photoshop and the approach that is taken for manipulating images.

Choose the gradient tool and use it within the selected area. The starting point will determine the top color for the gradient, the tool causes a line to form automatically when pulled to the second point representing the second color choice, here a dark gray. Once the pressure is lifted off the mouse then the gradient forms. (The computer releases the Kraken for the gradient algorithms to spin out, and it is fun to see.)

With white background, if your gradient starts with white to light gray then the pole seems to disappear into the background the same way reflected light makes the edges of things disappear. 

Photoshop will splay the gradient in the direction the line is pulled. With the two points being so close it is not so easy getting the gradient to spread across vertically. "Command H" produces a grid overlay to help tug a line perfectly horizontally and you can keep undoing (Command Z) and redoing the gradient until it is right, make the computer do all the work, that's doubly, triply, quadruply fun.

So this is a flag pole. It occupies a transparent layer. It can as easily be a fence post and duplicated in additional layers for additional fence posts and each layer made slightly smaller by tugging on a corner then duplicated and the new layer duplicated and tugged, smaller and smaller so the fence poles appear to get smaller layer upon layer into the distance. 

The same technique can be use to make clamps to hold woven wire fencing onto the pole. Duplicated in layers the same way and pushed into position directly on top of the pole-layers with woven wire fence-layer in between. Once made, the poles can be rotated to any direction, the light reflecting off top, they can be distorted with perspective and warped. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

"Report: Persecution of Christians reveals most abuse in Muslim countries"

"The majority of anti-Christian persecution in the world in 2013 took place at the hands of Muslims, according to a list by Open Doors USA."
The nondenominational group supporting persecuted Christians worldwide recently released its 2014 World Watch List, that describes and ranks anti-Christian persecution in a list of the 50 worst countries for the past year.

It reported increasing violence against Christians in Africa, and said radical Muslims were the main source of persecution in 36 countries on its list – both in Islamic countries and in non-Muslim countries such as Kenya (ranked 40th), Ethiopia (17th) and Tanzania (49th).

The top country where Christians suffer, for the 12th consecutive year, remained communist North Korea, though the nine following countries in the top ten were Islamic: Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Maldives, Pakistan, Iran and Yemen.
The Jerusalem Post


Every report  I've seen eventually mentions working furiously trying to keep up with team-related merchandise. All that merchandise, a veritable ocean of orange in the stands, orange is in, demand high, orange everywhere, and not one single pair of orange pants.

Apparently I own the single pair of orange pants in Denver. Otherwise I'd see them today. Scarves, yes, sweaters, yes, hats of course, watches, bracelets, yes all that but no orange pants. What is wrong with you? What is the problem?  The good thing about orange pants is you can see me walking a mile away so if you hit me I automatically win that lawsuit. Unless your defense is you were distracted by how hawt I look in them.

I could buy a truckload of white levi 501 pants, dye them all orange, and sell the whole truck in a day.

98% brag. It would take longer.

Can't Happen?


Snowden, not so squeaky clean?

"In a jaw-dropping revelation on NBC’s Meet the Press, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Michigan) has stated that he believes the fugitive Edward Snowden had assistance from Russian spies when he stole vast amounts of sensitive U.S. security data and fled to Russia.

"Rogers told MTP host David Gregory: “Let me just say this: I believe there’s a reason he [Snowden] ended up in the hands, the loving arms, of an FSB [successor to the KGB] agent in Moscow. I don’t think that’s a coincidence.” Rogers added that some of the methods Snowden used in lifting National Security Agency secrets were “beyond his technical capabilities.”

Homeland Security Chair Echoes Rogers on Snowden via Instapundit

"I always tell them they are welcome to scream"

"After three decades, Dennis Thomas’s winter Sundays are no longer shocking. They are just cold. From November to April, Mr. Thomas, 59, charges into the Atlantic Ocean, along with other members of the Coney Island Polar Bear Club; he has been the group’s president for five years. This year, the club’s premier event on New Year’s Day drew 2,000 swimmers and 6,000 spectators and raised $65,000 for children with serious illnesses. On any given Sunday, 80 to 100 members show up at the New York Aquarium for the frosty frolic — neoprene bootees allowed. The lowest water temperature recorded for a swim was 32 degrees one February. Mr. Thomas, the director of global branding for the technology company SAP, lives alone in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. He suspects that his 25-year-old daughter thinks he is crazy."

From November to April
"ATTENTION! At 1 o’clock, I usually make some announcements. Then we walk out toward the beach. When I joined, the president always blew a conch shell to summon everybody. I am terrible, it’s just embarrassing, and I’d rather not do it, but it’s such a nice tradition. It sounds like a seal being beaten with a club."

"IMMERSION We all go in together. I always go in at least to my neck, sometimes dunk my head. When everyone’s in, traditionally we form a huge circle, everyone holding hands for a few minutes and howling. We throw tennis balls around. It’s a free swim at that point. I look around and all I see are people laughing and cheering and having the best time. It’s absolutely amazing."

"POST-SWIM Most of us are in for about 10 minutes. If it gets really brutal out, it would probably go down to three or four minutes. I know if I overdo it, the first thing I’ll notice is that my speech is slurring a little bit. We change clothes, have some coffee and tea, people disperse."

NYT: Shepherding the Coney Island Polar Bear Club

Championship Sunday

"Part of what makes these two contests so tantalizing is that they are so different. In the AFC, obviously, you have the Brady vs. Manning angle, but how about the fact that the last Denver quarterback to host a conference championship game was Jake Plummer -- or that his Broncos were facing the sixth-seeded Steelers?"

"Yes, the AFC title tilt is a true clash of titans -- but then, so is the NFC Championship Game, for that matter. The two best defensive units in the league are part of the story, as are Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson, clearly new-breed leaders who represent the NFL of 2020. Throw in the fact that the 49ers and Seahawks are divisional rivals, that Seattle is the toughest place to play and that San Francisco is arguably the premier road team in the league, and ... well, you get the point."

NFL.COM (go Pats)

“It is very hard to take President Obama seriously”

"The architect of “the most transparent administration in history”; a man who repeatedly promised the public that “if you like your health care plan, you can keep it, period”; the fellow who put it about that the slaughter of four Americans in Benghazi on September 11, 2012, was caused by an internet video; the guy who has twice raised his right hand and sworn to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States” to the best of his ability while also (just last week, for example) announcing out of the other side of the orifice his intention to proceed with his agenda “with or without Congress” — how can you take this man seriously, where by “seriously” I mean, how can you trust him?"
"The brief answer is, “You can’t.” You can’t trust him.  He has willfully and repeatedly lied to the American people about all manner of things touching their vital interests."

Via Instapundit: BECAUSE OF RACISM: Why doesn’t criticism of Obama get any traction.

Quonset hangar

We decided our digs were splendid, not the same as regular on-base housing and not at all like usual nearby off-base rentals either. We already did both of those. Momote was a gated community, seriously gated, and seriously armed, and heavily fenced, a residential compound, miniature incomplete base for housing without all the customary martial accoutrements, none of the tediously white painted stones lining walkways, no triple flagpoles, U.S., Japan, U.N.. No military insignias except at the gate. The place still had the double perimeter razor wire topped fences, a tiny BX for incidentals like comic books, a small military police station and a fire station, a barber shop, a radio tower as well but that is it. All housing for military personnel and their dependents. No theater no commissary, no dining facilities, no bowling, no swimming, none of the usual clubs for officers, NCO or airmen. Not even a school. Just housing. Those things are all at nearby Grant Heights and also at Camp Drake, the real business done elsewhere.

At the Southernmost edge behind its own fence, this Quonset hangar, WWII Japanese type, with a large concrete slab in front of it in a state of neglect and disrepair. An unsightly patch not yet completely cleaned out. The concrete slabs are broken and damaged. Grass growing in the cracks. Chunks all around. Not a tarmac but very large broken slabs. It had been bombed. U.S. forces bombed it. Then took it. All their bases are belong to us and I lived for a while at one of them.

We found that large carefully fenced areas have weakness. The larger, the weaker. To find them, reconnoiter the perimeter. The fences must follow the terrain. Fence engineers are clever at managing interruptions, we thought, water drainages, ravines, ditches and such, there are effective ways of handling all that, the hills, and bumps, and valleys, and ridges, geologic unsteady situations and geographic disruptions to mathematic straight lines that fences by nature adhere to all handled with impressive skills.  But fences can never quite stay put. It rains, things shift, the terrain actually moves, every year it does, and the fences are maintained but nothing is perfect. Keep looking the weaknesses are sometimes surprisingly glaring you have only to find a gap. And of course people cut them.

As children we'd pass through military fences, double fences with split tops containing wound razor wire, go right through them, over them, under them, as if those exclusionary efforts and clear warnings are all mere suggestion.

The hangar was used to store window screen frames for all the houses in the whole area. Piled up to a mountain inside. A stack of piled up not quite discarded screen windows. They do not imagine those locks are going to hold back children. A whole hangar to ourselves and nobody there to chase us off. And a big fat rope hanging right there from the exact center of the hangar, from the tippy top all the way to the floor. Like a gift.


Too perfect. 

A trap! 

As if used to lift engines from Mitsubishi Zeros, or perhaps previous American boys had their own secret playground and we found it.  Whatever. It is completely ace! Given all that, what are boys to do? 

This would be the pinnacle of my secret place unearthing, monkey-climbing and Tarzan swinging achievements to date. A hangar! To myself.

Here is what is left of Camp Drake. Michael Jon Grist went back, sneaked in and took photos of the dilapidated state of this section of Camp Drake still left undeveloped. Quite an adventure he tells.

Interior of what I think is commissary (because of COMM on the wall, yes- please correct me if wrong).

(You're wrong. COMM = communication.) Commissary at Grant Heights.

Here are two brothers, Tom and Ken Cozine climbing the radio tower at South Camp Drake looking down at what is left of Momote Village. A bit of the business at Camp Drake had to do with a radio station they ran for the services. Dad took us through the place but that portion shown us was the light-hearted civilian-like version of a radio station that played a variety of music and anodyne news. Drake was about communications and the public radio station was like candy coating. 

Barry and I climbed a tower off-base outside Tachikawa within two days of moving there. It was irresistible. And I also wandered off by myself into a small bamboo copse nearby the houses, fascinated by how the bamboo was growing, I found two big fat ones next to each other, grabbed both and climbed right up like a monkey-ladder.