Saturday, March 20, 2010

Alpaca, Tiger, Political

Strange animals all...

Deem It, Damn It!

Evolving Toward Addiction

Harvard evolutionary psychologist Deidre Barrett says humans aren't immune from instinct. What developed from behaviors necessary to survive hundreds or thousands of years ago still govern today. But now those instinctive reactions to modern "supernormal stimuli" are at the root of overindulgence and behavioral addictions.
Audio: BBC, PRI & WBUR's Here & Now 3/17/10, Host: Robin Young.

Slow Road To Nowhere

The 2010 Census will likely uncover a lot of people like Russell Brockman, who grew up in Chicago, but never outgrew it... Starting out life in a poor family, living in a low-income neighborhood with bad schools and few role models, a chronic substance abuser stuck in a cycle of poverty and prison that perpetuates itself, generation after generation, just like some 40 million people today in the United States.
Audio: APM's American Radio Works, Host: Stephen Smith with Laurie Stern.

Guitar On Fire, Desire

Breaking Bad

Meet Walt White: chemistry teacher, cancer patient, meth cook

After being diagnosed with lung cancer in the first season, Walt teams up with a former student, to cook crystal meth. His initial goal is to make enough money to support his family after he dies. But when Walt was suddenly cured but kept cooking in season two, any remnants of rationale and pretense of nobility evaporated... And money is now the most addictive element.

The first two seasons of “Breaking Bad” on AMC earned two Emmy awards for Bryan Cranston and an Emmy nomination for co-star Aaron Paul, who both look at the new season which debuts tomorrow and drags the duo deeper into the drug underworld.
Audio: BBC, PRI & WBUR's Here & Now 3/19/10, Host: Robin Young.

Faking Mad

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Loreena McKennitt

The Canadian singer-songwriter moved beyond her roots in Celtic harp to embrace music from around the world and other times.

To mark 20 years of being on the air, Echoes is running a series paying tribute to icons of the ambient music the show chronicles.
Audio: PRI's Echoes, an ambient music program on public radio with an extensive archive of audio for download via subscription.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Keith Repeats

In a program length commentary, Keith Olbermann addressed issues regarding reform of American Health Care while immersed fully in the public debate and private crisis. His own father, Ted, had suffered a fall on August 22, 2009 followed by kidney failure, and a series of hospital-acquired infections that literally kept him in intensive care and constant pain until March 13, 2010... Literally for the remainder of his life.

MSNBC re-ran the show last night in its entirety, as first broadcast on October 7th. At 43 minutes, it's too large to embed here, but it is something worth hearing, or hearing again as we approach a critical and climactic vote this weekend.

The reason the "closed for maintenance" sign was up the other day wasn't because the site needed work; I did... Another outdoor fall, sidewalk face plant and concussion. Eventually another fall like that, a thrown clot from some other injury or even a cardiovascular event that'll come without warning will mark an end to the blog and to me.

It's something I must accept and do... Even as I know there will still be many dreams incomplete when it's time to sign off.

Ted Olbermann was an architect, not someone who ever wanted to be in the center of a national debate. Shaky though I am, I stand with his son... And every son haunted by the way he lost his Dad.

Holy Sh*t

Questioning the legitimacy of spiritual authority.

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A coalition of Catholic nuns who lead 60 different religious orders (representing 90% of all sisters) is backing the proposed health care reform law, while the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops opposing it. Both camps are strongly anti-abortion, yet read the reform differently on that issue... The sisters believe doing something to address the 45,000 deaths each year that are attributed to being uninsured is taking a definitive "pro-life" stand.

Although nuns can wield rulers with the deadly efficiency of nunchucks, the bishops' retribution is expected to be harsh... And faster than they'd act against a sexual predator priest.

He Came To His Census

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One Nation, Repackaged

What if all 300,000,000 Americans lived in one place, packed as densely as NYC's borough of Brooklyn with 35,000 per square mile?

Live free or die, baby... We'd all fit into New Hampshire!

From Cartophilia, a map lovers blog and Rethinking the US.

Another Trunk, More Junk

It probably wasn't planned that Jennifer Aniston's booty in the boot episode would open on the same day as a Neil Young concert film, but moviegoers have a choice of trunks this weekend.

Jonathan Demme’s not the first Oscar-winning filmmaker to take a stab at a concert documentary, but as he was honored with a lifetime achievement award recently Boston, he spoke of Haiti, a country he’s long loved and has in mind for a new documentary.

It's not going to be another "Silence of the Lambs," but Demme sees a continuity in his storytelling.
Audio: BBC, PRI & WBUR's Here & Now 3/18/10, Host: Robin Young.

Morning After

A Silly Sauras?

We know dinosaurs lived as the world's dominant form of life a long time ago, but what came before them?

Scientists have found the oldest known relative of the dinosaurs, Asilisaurus Kongwe.

245 million years ago, about 15 million years before the oldest known dinosaurs, they roamed Tanzania... And a nearly complete skeleton has been assembled using fossils from 14 different animals found at the same site.
Audio: CBC Radio's Quirks & Quarks 3/13/10, Host: Bob McDonald.

One Lone Gull

As seen by Sara Chapman from the Larkspur, CA ferry.

See more on the Skywatch Friday photoblog.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Yes Or No Votes

Yes and No are always more complicated than they first appear. Yes comes attached to if. And no can only be understood if you know why.

If you look at polls regarding health care legislation, ask yourself how many people saying no were aligned with Mr. Boehner and how many were thinking like Mr. Kucinich... Two House members from a single state, on opposite sides of the issue, yet both initially arrived at no!

Membranes and walls are both boundaries. Knowing which is which dictates what to do to get over, under, around or through.

Orson Wells Lives!

It wasn't Martians invading New Jersey... This time.

¿Que Pasa?

I haven't been too concerned about who reads this blog or why. It's a collection of things that captured my attention... Some serious, and some silly. Ok, more silly than not.

I haven't put up anything to monitor followers and the counter that appeared at Christmas time was put there because someone had asked how wide an audience they might reach... I really didn't know.

But since then I've kept track of patterns, noting an overall trend of slow growth, with dips near holidays and major TV events, etc.

Nothing showed a major spike until I asked whether Israel should be considered a friend or ally of the United States based on their actions alone, and not the concerns of various constituencies within American politics.

It was a question. It didn't get any answers in response. But the blog did get one third more hits than it would on a typical day from the current month.

I don't know anything about who else showed up or why they came...
Only that they did. And it bugs me not to know.

Flex Time

Can we escape a 9-5 work week?

If the object is reoriented toward results as opposed to regimented command & control, we can and probably should. Organizations that loosen control and allow greater worker autonomy get better results than those growing resentment about rigidity in cube farms.
Audio: NPR's Morning Edition 3/18/10, Reporter: Jennifer Ludden.

Pricey & Dicey

The Map That Never Was

America’s fifty states seem fixed now, but as Michael Trinklein
points out, over the years there have been movements to create new states such as Shasta... Named after the volcano in Northern California, not the soft drink flavors. The never weres, what if and wanna-bes are the subject of his new book “Lost States: True Stories of Texlahoma, Transylvania, and Other States that Never Made It.”
Audio: BBC, PRI & WBUR's Here & Now, 3/16/10. Host: Robin Young.



Five young American Muslim men from the Washington DC area were intercepted and indicted by Pakistani authorities while on their way to Afghanistan. Are they misunderstood humanitarians who sought to help, or potential jihadist terror trainees? They could fit either profile.
Audio: NPR's All Things Considered 3/17/10, Reporter: Julie McCarthy.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Dodd Ball

Michael Moore's film "Capitalism: A Love Story" is available on DVD. Michael Lewis' book "The Big Short" is on sale in hardcover.

They Bought A Toxic Asset

Just To Watch It Die

They may not have been humming Folsom Prison Blues as they spent a thousand dollars of the Planet Money team's own money, but nothing's stopping you as they attempt to explain their experience.
Audio: NPR's Morning Edition 3/12/10,
Reporters: Chana Joffe-Walt & David Kestenbaum.

Contract Killers

Persecution Complex

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Audio: NPR's All Things Considered 3/15/10, Reporter: Michele Kelemen.
Henry Kissinger once said "Israel has no foreign policy, only domestc policy." And domestic policy is the product of domestic politics. In the case of a Likud led coalition, political necessity dictates pandering to a machinegun toting minority of ultra-orthodox settlers intent on establishing a "greater Israel" but only in the sense of a geographically larger Jewish state. And that in turn leads to a political need to subvert any attempts to progress in what is euphemistically called a "peace process."

For the sake of argument consider for a moment that Israel is neither friend nor ally to the United States... And that succesive administrations' bi-partisan support is not so much a matter of strategic polcy but the product of domestic political considerations intertwined with the interests and advocacy of American Zionists, whether they're Jews, Neo-Cons or apocalyptic Evangelicals.

If there were no such domestic constituency and no such thing as AIPAC buying influence in American politics, would Israel merit the status of friend and ally based on their actions alone?

Junk In The Trunk

Walk On, Dance With

Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin is on the current season of "Dancing With The Stars." It's a long way down from the moon.

Music: Be Bop Deluxe from "Live! In the Air Age" (1977)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Massa Musta Missed It

The Politics of Pork

The Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine took a look at federal farm policy as Congress debated price supports in 2007... Little has changed since except we've gotten older & fatter.

So what! Who wants to live forever? Apparently, enough people to support an entire industry of pills, creams, tonics and surgeries meant to keep people alive well into three digits. Guy Raz spoke with Greg Critser, author of Eternity Soup: Inside the Quest to End Aging.
Audio: NPR's All Things Considered 3/14/10, Host: Guy Raz.

Campaigning for Cali

While it appears Democrat Jerry Brown (of Doonesbury "Governor Moonbeam" fame) will take a second stab at becoming Governor of the large & largely ungovernable state of California at the twice the age he began his first term, Republicans are watching a battle between wealthy political novices with balance sheets in far better shape than the state's.

The road to office as a Republicans has many twists and turns... Mostly hard to the right.
Audio: NPR's All Things Considered 3/14/10, Host: Guy Raz, Reporter: Ina Jaffe.

A Terrapin Station classic recorded in April 1977... The year before Prop. 13 started the plunge of California into perpetual fiscal crisis.

Politics Has Brackets, Too

Although states are in control of the electoral process, and ultimately electoral votes, media and political money follow front runners as determined by national polls. But that doesn't guarantee a nomination or even a single primary win (ask Rudy Giuliani).

In an article called "2012 and the 2010 Presidential 'Permission Threshold,'" former Congressional staffer and current lobbyist Tom Readmond argues the rank a candidate holds in national polls is far less important than which of two brackets the candidate falls into: Bracket 1) the top three who net double digits, and Bracket 2) everybody else... Automatic also-rans for whom being labeled as second rate becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy as they fail to raise money, gain name recognition or communicate ideas -- all the things necessary to grow support.

The "permission threshold" Readmond writes about is simply being taken seriously as a contender by those whose support matters, "The Gang of 500," a term coined by journalist Mark Halperin (in 2004) to describe the political insiders and journalists who influence the daily media narrative in US politics.

In U.S. politics which increasingly seems like it's stuck in a permanent campaign, crossing the threshold for the 2012 Republican nomination is a work in progress.

Tom Readmond blogs for The Next Right and has written for Human Events. He is described as a senior consultant to corporate and political clients for Roberts, Raheb & Gradler, a Washington DC law & lobbying firm. Their page on him lists examples of his public advocacy work in constructing so-called "Astroturf" pressure groups for conservative causes.

Corporate Contender?

Cover Your Butt

Your Pet's, Too

Rear Gear is handmade in Portland, OR and comes in designs including a disco ball, air freshener, heart, flower, biohazard, smiley face, number one ribbon, cupcake, sheriff's badge and dice.

YouTube U.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Time Bandits

Unless you jumped an hour ahead, it may be later than you think.

Watch Terry Gilliam's 1981 classic Time Bandits on YouTube.

Forward Into The Past

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London's Earls Court Exhibition Centre (October 1994)

Non Starter

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is on a search-and-destroy mission for anything that comes from the Democrats. This especially applies to health care, where he has decided that opposition boils down to one word: No. Is this a winning strategy? McConnell and his GOP colleagues are betting on it.
Audio: NPR's All Things Considered 3/13/10, Reporter: David Welna.

Dr. Osgood's Prescription

Audio: CBS Radio's Osgood File 3/9/10.

Oscar Aftermath

Best Documentary: The Cove

The activism didn't end with Oscar night. A producer of the Academy Award-winning documentary The Cove helped set up a sting at a hip sushi restaurant in Santa Monica, CA. The restaurant and the chef have been charged with serving illegal endangered whale meat... And protestors hit the streets.

Yugo Guy, You Go Guy!

The tiny, no-frills automobile imported from communist Yugoslavia during the 1980s is known to most Americans as the butt of many car jokes:

How do you double the value of a Yugo?
Fill the gas tank.

What do you call a Yugo that breaks down after 100 miles? An overachiever.

As American and Japanese auto makers out of the low end of the auto market, Yugo moved in... Selling 150,000 cars between 1984 and 1992. At $3,990, it was far and away the cheapest car on the market.

But despite his book's title and lemon yellow cover, Author Jason Vuic says that the Yugo is far from the worst car in history.
Audio: NPR's All Things Considered 3/13/10, Host: Guy Raz. Read an excerpt.

Soldiers On Ice