Tuesday, December 27, 2011

From Geeky Muse (Temple Grandin)

Temple Grandin: The world needs all kinds of minds

March 5, 2010  

by Andrew

In her recent TED talk, Temple Grandin, diagnosed with autism as a child, tells us how her mind works. She gives an overview of how people on the autism spectrum think and makes the case that the world needs those people: visual thinkers, pattern thinkers, verbal thinkers, and all kinds of smart geeky kids. She describes autism as “a continuum of traits. When does a nerd turn into Asperger, which is just mild autism? I mean Einstein and Mozart and Tesla, would all be probably diagnosed as autistic spectrum today.”

She also joked that Silicon Valley would not exist today if it weren’t for those geeky neuroatypical minds, which drew a big laugh from the techie crowd. And she suggested that this next generation of kids with autism, properly mentored and motivated, could solve the world’s energy problems.

“The world needs different kinds of minds to work together,” she said. Check out the Ted Talk below. I also recommend the HBO original movie, Temple Grandin, starring Claire Danes.
TV: Jone Juliet Buck on Temple Grandin
“The film is a triumph for Claire Danes, who should win not only an Emmy but an Oscar for the jagged, unsentimental, utterly clear channeling of Temple Grandin. With a mop of curly hair, a mouth full of big teeth, the flat, skinny body of one who eats only pudding and Jell-O, and a voice that’s either a shout or a tumble of words, she’s transparent, luminous, ungainly, and wild. She gets us inside the head of the girl who hates French because it’s full of fish-”eels.” And she makes us understand that understanding is her version of feeling.”

From Think Progress

93-Year-Old Tennessee Woman Who Cleaned State Capitol For 30 Years Denied Voter ID

Tennessee's Capitol building in Nashville.

A 93-year-old Tennessee woman who cleaned the state Capitol for 30 years, including the governor’s office, says she won’t be able to vote for the first time in decades after being told this week that her old state ID failed to meet new voter ID regulations.

Thelma Mitchell was even accused of being an undocumented immigrant because she couldn’t produce a birth certificate:
Mitchell, who was delivered by a midwife in Alabama in 1918, has never had a birth certificate. But when she told that to a drivers’ license clerk, he suggested she might be an illegal immigrant.
Thelma Mitchell told WSMV-TV that she went to a state drivers’ license center last week after being told that her old state ID from her cleaning job would not meet new regulations for voter identification.
A spokesman for the House Republican Caucus insisted that Mitchell was given bad information and should’ve been allowed to vote, even with an expired state ID. But even if that’s the case, her ordeal illustrates the inevitable disenfranchisements that result when confusing voting laws enable state officials to apply the law inconsistently.

The incident is the just latest in a series of reports of senior citizens being denied their constitutional right to vote under restrictive new voter ID laws pushed by Republican governors and legislatures. These laws are a transparent attempt to target Democrat constituencies who are less likely to have photo ID’s, and disproportionately affect seniors, college students, the poor and minorities.

As ThinkProgress reported, one 96-year-old Tennessee woman was denied a voter ID because she didn’t have her marriage license. Another senior citizen in Tennessee, 91-year-old Virginia Lasater, couldn’t get the ID she needed to vote because she wasn’t able to stand in a long line at the DMV. A Tennessee agency even told a 86-year-old World War II veteran that he had to pay an unconstitutional poll tax if he wanted to obtain an ID.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

My Back Pages

First recorded on June 9, 1964, under the working title: "Ancient Memories"

by Bob Dylan

Crimson flames tied through my ears
Rollin’ high and mighty traps
Pounced with fire on flaming roads
Using ideas as my maps
“We’ll meet on edges, soon,” said I
Proud ’neath heated brow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now

Half-wracked prejudice leaped forth
“Rip down all hate,” I screamed
Lies that life is black and white
Spoke from my skull. I dreamed
Romantic facts of musketeers
Foundationed deep, somehow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now

Girls’ faces formed the forward path
From phony jealousy
To memorizing politics
Of ancient history
Flung down by corpse evangelists
Unthought of, though, somehow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now

A self-ordained professor’s tongue
Too serious to fool
Spouted out that liberty
Is just equality in school
“Equality,” I spoke the word
As if a wedding vow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now

In a soldier’s stance, I aimed my hand
At the mongrel dogs who teach
Fearing not that I’d become my enemy
In the instant that I preach
My pathway led by confusion boats
Mutiny from stern to bow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now

Yes, my guard stood hard when abstract threats
Too noble to neglect
Deceived me into thinking
I had something to protect
Good and bad, I define these terms
Quite clear, no doubt, somehow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now

When Dylan first recorded this song on his 1964 album Another Side of Bob Dylan I had just completed my freshman year at the University of Tennessee. Though it was stylistically similar to his earlier topical folk acoustic work, lyrically it was a departure, seemingly rejecting his earlier personal and political idealism. Dylan did not performed the song live until 1988.

The following  video is from the 30th Anniversary Tribute Concert to Dylan at Madison Square Garden in 1992.  This performance features vocals from Roger McGuinn, Tom Petty, Neil Young, Eric Clapton, Dylan and George Harrison. There are also two incredible guitar solos by Clapton and Young.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Support Tribe of Heart

Trailer for Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home** from Tribe of Heart on Vimeo.

 Click here to go to Tribe of Heart

Support Kiva – Microfinance

Thursday, December 22, 2011

From a Friend – ADVICE FROM DR. OZ

I'm passing this on because it worked for me today . . . Dr Oz on TV said that to reach inner peace we should always finish things we start, and we all could use more calm in our lives during the hectic Holiday season. I looked around my house to find things I'd started and hadn't finished, so I finished off a bottle of Merlot, a bottle of Chardonnay, a bodle of Baileys, a butle of wum, tha mainder of Valiuminun scriptins, an a box a chocletz. Yu haf no idr how fablus I feel rite now. Sned this to all who need inner piss. An telum u luvum

Sunday, December 18, 2011

From About.com (Iraq War)

Iraq War Facts, Results & Statistics at November 30, 2011

4,486 US Soldiers Killed, 32,226 Seriously Wounded

By , About.com Guide

Dec 12 2011

For your quick reading, I've listed key statistics about the Iraq War and occupation, taken primarily from data analyzed by various think tanks, including The Brookings Institution's Iraq Index, and from mainstream media sources. Data is presented as of November 30, 2011, except as indicated.


Spent & Approved War-Spending - About $1 trillion of US taxpayers' funds spent or approved for spending through 2011.

Lost & Unaccounted for in Iraq - $9 billion of US taxpayers' money and $549.7 milion in spare parts shipped in 2004 to US contractors. Also, per ABC News, 190,000 guns, including 110,000 AK-47 rifles.

Lost and Reported Stolen - $6.6 billion of U.S. taxpayers' money earmarked for Iraq reconstruction, reported on June 14, 2011 by Special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction Stuart Bowen who called it "the largest theft of funds in national history." (Source - CBS News) Last known holder of the $6.6 billion lost: the U.S. government.

Missing - $1 billion in tractor trailers, tank recovery vehicles, machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and other equipment and services provided to the Iraqi security forces. (Per CBS News on Dec 6, 2007.)

Mismanaged & Wasted in Iraq - $10 billion, per Feb 2007 Congressional hearings

Halliburton Overcharges Classified by the Pentagon as Unreasonable and Unsupported - $1.4 billion

Amount paid to KBR, a former Halliburton division, to supply U.S. military in Iraq with food, fuel, housing and other items - $20 billion

Portion of the $20 billion paid to KBR that Pentagon auditors deem "questionable or supportable" - $3.2 billion

U.S. Annual Air-Conditioning Cost in Iraq and Afghanistan - $20.2 billion (Source - NPR, June 25, 2011)

U.S. 2009 Monthly Spending in Iraq - $7.3 billion as of Oct 2009

U.S. 2008 Monthly Spending in Iraq - $12 billion

U.S. Spending per Second - $5,000 in 2008 (per Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on May 5, 2008)

Cost of deploying one U.S. soldier for one year in Iraq - $390,000

Troops in Iraq - Total 13,000 U.S. troops. All other nations have withdrawn their troops.
U.S. Troop Casualties - 4,486 US troops; 98% male. 91% non-officers; 82% active duty, 11% National Guard; 74% Caucasian, 9% African-American, 11% Latino. 19% killed by non-hostile causes. 54% of US casualties were under 25 years old. 72% were from the US Army

Non-U.S. Troop Casualties - Total 316, with 179 from the UK

US Troops Wounded - 32,226, 20% of which are serious brain or spinal injuries. (Total excludes psychological injuries.)

US Troops with Serious Mental Health Problems - 30% of US troops develop serious mental health problems within 3 to 4 months of returning home

US Military Helicopters Downed in Iraq - 75 total, at least 36 by enemy fire

Private Contractors in Iraq, Working in Support of US Army Troops - More than 180,000 in August 2007, per TheNation.com..

Journalists killed - 150, 98 by murder and 52 by acts of war

Journalists killed by US Forces - 14

Iraqi Police and Soldiers Killed - 10,125, as of July 31, 2011

Iraqi Civilians Killed, Estimated - On October 22, 2010, ABC News reported "a secret U.S. government tally that puts the Iraqi (civilian) death toll over 100,000," information that was included in more than 400,000 military documents released by Wikileaks.com.

A UN issued report dated Sept 20, 2006 stating that Iraqi civilian casualties have been significantly under-reported. Casualties are reported at 50,000 to over 100,000, but may be much higher. Some informed estimates place Iraqi civilian casualities at over 600,000.

Iraqi Insurgents Killed, Roughly Estimated - 55,000

Non-Iraqi Contractors and Civilian Workers Killed - 572 as of August 30, 2011

Non-Iraqi Kidnapped - 306, including 57 killed, 147 released, 4 escaped, 6 rescued and 89 status unknown.

Daily Insurgent Attacks, Feb 2004 - 14

Daily Insurgent Attacks, July 2005 - 70

Daily Insurgent Attacks, May 2007 - 163

Estimated Insurgency Strength, Nov 2003 - 15,000

Estimated Insurgency Strength, Oct 2006 - 20,000 - 30,000

Estimated Insurgency Strength, June 2007 - 70,000

Iraqis Displaced Inside Iraq, by Iraq War, as of May 2007 - 2,255,000
Iraqi Refugees in Syria & Jordan - 2.1 million to 2.25 million

Iraqi Unemployment Rate - 27 to 60%, where curfew not in effect

Consumer Price Inflation in 2006 - 50%

Iraqi Children Suffering from Chronic Malnutrition - 28% in June 2007 (Per CNN.com, July 30, 2007)

Percent of professionals who have left Iraq since 2003 - 40%

Iraqi Physicians Before 2003 Invasion - 34,000

Iraqi Physicians Who Have Left Iraq Since 2005 Invasion - 12,000

Iraqi Physicians Murdered Since 2003 Invasion - 2,000

Average Daily Hours Iraqi Homes Have Electricity - 1 to 2 hours, per Ryan Crocker, U.S.

Ambassador to Iraq (Per Los Angeles Times, July 27, 2007)

Average Daily Hours Iraqi Homes Have Electricity - 10.9 in May 2007

Average Daily Hours Baghdad Homes Have Electricity - 5.6 in May 2007

Pre-War Daily Hours Baghdad Homes Have Electricity - 16 to 24

Number of Iraqi Homes Connected to Sewer Systems - 37%

Iraqis without access to adequate water supplies - 70% (Per CNN.com, July 30, 2007)

Water Treatment Plants Rehabilitated - 22%

RESULTS OF POLL Taken in Iraq in August 2005 by the British Ministry of Defense (Source: Brookings Institute)

Iraqis "strongly opposed to presence of coalition troops - 82%

Iraqis who believe Coalition forces are responsible for any improvement in security - less than 1%

Iraqis who feel less ecure because of the occupation - 67%

Iraqis who do not have confidence in multi-national forces - 72%

From The Sage of Bucksnort

Catching fish doesn't pay the bills

by Jack Reeves

Sheila and Scott Chadwick’s daughter, Rene, is getting serious with Larry Barnes. He’s 21. The families haven’t known each other, but they’ve known of each other. That’s the way it is in Bucksnort. You either know a person or know of them — sometimes a lot more than you wish you knew!

We don’t hesitate to find out about a stranger. It’s common for a person who’s not recognized to be recognized — to let them know we’re aware of you!

In the Yesterday Cafe last week there were two people in line I didn’t recognize. Neither did Lois Anderson, who was ahead of them. As she picked up her tray and silverware, she turned her head a little more to the left and said, “Are you folks from around here?”

This is not chitchat, simply being neighborly. At root, it’s nosy! We want to know who you are if we don’t recognize you. “Where’re you from?” “What’re you doing in the Yesterday Cafe?” “Where’re you going?” “When?”

Scott wants to know more about Larry. He told Sheila he wanted to have a man-to-man talk with him.

“This isn’t the 19th century,” Sheila replied. “You’d embarrass Rene to death! Larry wouldn’t know what to think, either. You’re acting like Ozzie — and I’m not Harriet!”

“I still want to find out which way his compass points. If they’re serious, we’re talkin’ family, not a Sunday dinner guest.”

“I’ve talked with Rene about Larry. I’ve heard only good things about his family. Rene says he’s intelligent, considerate, has goals for his life,” Sheila said.

“Goals? I’ve got goals, too. Everytime I go fishing I have a goal — to catch fish!!

“But catchin’ fish doesn’t pay bills! I want to know what he plans to do in life — especially if they’re getting serious. What’s he doing now?”

“He and a friend are starting an air conditioning business. With all the new development in the region, it seems like a good idea,” Sheila said.

“He seems like a risk taker,” Scott replied.

“Okay. Suppose y’all talk. How do you, without looking like a nosy fool, talk to this adult about his personal life?”

“I’d ease into it. I’d say something like ‘I heard you’re trying to get a business going. You know, nine out of 10 businesses fail.’”

“You’re not going to say that!” Sheila said pointing a reprimanding finger at Scott.

“Then I’d say, ‘You know, Rene’s sort of a high-maintenance woman. How many air conditioners do you think you’re going to repair when there’s ice on the pond?”

“You’re not saying that either! This has already gone too far! I can tell, you’re going to embarrass Larry, Rene, and me. You have no shame! This could upset the relationship. No. You don’t want to do this. You really don’t. And I’m sure you’ll make the right decision!”

Scott sees the writing on the wall. If he pursues this, the dread of every of male of majority age in Bucksnorts is imminent: being nagged to death. He would become the protracted target of Sheila’s — even Rene’s — verbal repetitiveness.

“My compass just swung toward the stream. Maybe the trout are bitin’.”


Jack Reeves is a friend and an award-winning free-lance journalist.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

From The Rachel Maddow Show

62% of private sellers agreed to sale a firearm to a buyer who said he probably could not pass a background check. 

NRA says there is no problem.

Friday, December 16, 2011

From The BBC Christopher Hitchens Dies

Christopher Hitchens dies at 62 after suffering cancer

Writer Christopher Hitchens  

Related Stories

British-born author, literary critic and journalist Christopher Hitchens has died at the age of 62.
He died from pneumonia, a complication of the oesophageal cancer he had , at a Texas hospital.
Vanity Fair magazine, which announced his death, said there would "never be another like Christopher".

He is survived by his wife, Carol Blue, and their daughter, Antonia, and his children from a previous marriage, Alexander and Sophia.

Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter described the writer as someone "of ferocious intellect, who was as vibrant on the page as he was at the bar".

"Those who read him felt they knew him, and those who knew him were profoundly fortunate souls."

Hitchens was born in Portsmouth in 1949 and graduated from Oxford in 1970.

He began his career as a journalist in Britain in the 1970s and later moved to New York, becoming contributing editor to Vanity Fair in November 1992.

"Prospect of death makes me sober, objective"

'Cynical contrarian'
He was diagnosed with cancer in June 2010, and documented his declining health in his Vanity Fair column.

In an August 2010 essay for the magazine he wrote: "I love the imagery of struggle. I sometimes wish I were suffering in a good cause, or risking my life for the good of others, instead of just being a gravely endangered patient."

Speaking on the BBC's Newsnight programme, in November that year, he reflected on a life that he knew would be cut short: "It does concentrate the mind, of course, to realise that your life is more rationed than you thought it was."

Radicalised by the 1960s, Hitchens was often arrested at political rallies and was kicked out of the Labour Party over his opposition to the Vietnam War.

 From Time.Com

Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011): A Career in Quotes

Stephen Voss  / Redux
Stephen Voss / Redux
Author and journalist Christopher Hitchens in his home in Washington on April 23, 2010.
After an arduous fight with esophageal cancer, Christopher Hitchens — journalist, writer, intellectual and prominent atheist — died Thursday at the age of 62.

The exact cause of death was from pneumonia, itself a complication of his cancer, and he passed at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. The news was announced by Vanity Fair, where he’d written since 1992. He’s survived by his wife, Carol Blue, and his three children and, of course, his innumerable fans, colleagues and friends. Though his death was not unexpected — Hitchens was open about his illness, which he first learned about while on a publicity tour in 2010 for his memoir, Hitch-22 — it’s naturally been met with great sadness, as the British-born thinker is remembered by the many friends and admirers he made in the media and publishing world throughout his long and prominent career. Of course, as respected as he was, the often scathing writer was not without his critics, as he’d filled his career with critiques of many prominent figures such as President George W. Bush, Henry Kissinger, Princess Diana and Mother Teresa (yes, really!), to name just a few.

(LIST: Hitchens in TIME’s Top 10 British Invasions)

We decided to take a look back at some of the most memorable, notable, shocking and, in spite of it all, thought-provoking statements from the prolific polemicist.
“Violent, irrational, intolerant, allied to racism and tribalism and bigotry, invested in ignorance and hostile to free inquiry, contemptuous of women and coercive toward children: organized religion ought to have a great deal on its conscience.”
–From God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, 2007
“Religion is man-made. Even the men who made it cannot agree on what their prophets or redeemers or gurus actually said or did.”
–From God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, 2007
“Will an Iraq war make our Al Qaeda problem worse? Not likely.”
– From, A Long Short War: The Postponed Liberation of Iraq, 2003
“[Mother Teresa] was not a friend of the poor. She was a friend of poverty. She said that suffering was a gift from God. She spent her life opposing the only known cure for poverty, which is the empowerment of women and the emancipation of them from a livestock version of compulsory reproduction.”
–From “Mommie Dearest”, 2003
“Judaism has some advantages over Christianity in that, for example, it does not proselytise — except among Jews — and it does not make the cretinous mistake of saying that the Messiah has already made his appearance. However, along with Islam and Christianity, it does insist that some turgid and contradictory and sometimes evil and mad texts, obviously written by fairly unexceptional humans, are in fact the word of god. I think that the indispensable condition of any intellectual liberty is the realisation that there is no such thing.”
– From Letter to a Young Contrarian, 2001
“Every day, the New York Times carries a motto in a box on its front page. ‘All the News That’s Fit to Print,’ it says. It’s been saying it for decades, day in and day out. I imagine most readers of the canonical sheet have long ceased to notice this bannered and flaunted symbol of its mental furniture. I myself check every day to make sure that the bright, smug, pompous, idiotic claim is still there. Then I check to make sure that it still irritates me. If I can still exclaim, under my breath, why do they insult me and what do they take me for and what the hell is it supposed to mean unless it’s as obviously complacent and conceited and censorious as it seems to be, then at least I know I still have a pulse. You may wish to choose a more rigorous mental workout but I credit this daily infusion of annoyance with extending my lifespan.”
– From Letter to a Young Contrarian, 2001
“The only position that leaves me with no cognitive dissonance is atheism. It is not a creed. Death is certain, replacing both the siren-song of Paradise and the dread of Hell. Life on this earth, with all its mystery and beauty and pain, is then to be lived far more intensely: we stumble and get up, we are sad, confident, insecure, feel loneliness and joy and love. There is nothing more; but I want nothing more.”
–From The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Non-believer, 2007

MORE: An Obit on Hitchens

Read more: http://newsfeed.time.com/2011/12/16/christopher-hitchens-1949-2011-a-career-in-polemic-quotes/#ixzz1giF4bHWf

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Few Photos from Miami Beach

From Tennessee Citizen Action

It's a busy month, so here are the 3 easy steps you can take to be a part of today's Day of Action to repeal the Photo ID to Vote law:
1) Sit in front of your computer.
2) Think of all the people you know - friends, family, co-workers, etc. - who believe our elections should be fair and equal.
3) Copy and paste the language and link below in an email asking them to sign the online petition:
"Please take a moment and sign the online petition to repeal the excessive photo ID to vote restrictions in Tennessee:  http://www.ProtectTheVoteTN.org.
Why should you sign? The requirements necessary to comply with the law are excessive & restrictive and the law itself is very confusing. Basically, Tennessee lawmakers are taking away a person’s right to vote, telling them they have to have a very specific government-issued photo ID to get it back, & confusing them in the process.

Government-issued photo ID restrictions like the one we have in Tennessee will disproportionately affect people of color, young voters, seniors and people with disabilities. This law will disenfranchise those whose vote is very often the only voice they have in our democratic process.

Please take the time now and go to http://www.ProtectTheVoteTN.org to sign the petition."
Thank you!
Won't you take just a moment and join us today to help protect voting rights in Tennessee?
50 Vantage Way Ste 250 | Nashville, TN 37228 US

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The National Defense Authorization Act

Yesterday, the Senate voted (61 to 37) to keep a controversial provision of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would allow the military to detain terrorism suspects (even U.S. citizens) and hold them indefinitely without trial.

As written, without ever being formally charged, an alleged terrorism suspect may only get one hearing from the military before being locked up for life. What happened to due-process?

Congress is essentially authorizing the indefinite military imprisonment of U.S. citizens, without charging them, much like we did during WWII. Do we ever learn from our mistakes?

The President must exercise his power to veto this act. Call or email him and let him know what you think about this provision of the NDAA.

TEDxSF - Louie Schwartzberg - Gratitude

Louie Schwartzberg is an award-winning cinematographer, director, and producer whose notable career spans more than three decades providing breathtaking imagery for feature films, television shows, documentaries and commercials.

This piece includes his short film on Gratitude and Happiness. Brother David Steindl's spoken words, Gary Malkin's musical compositions and Louie's cinematography make this a stunningly beautiful piece, reminding us of the precious gift of life, and the beauty all around us.

As a visual artist, Louie has created some of the most iconic and memorable film moments of our time. He is an innovator in the world of time-lapse, nature, aerial and "slice-of-life" photography - the only cinematographer in the world who has literally been shooting 24 hours a day, 7 days a week continuously for more than 30 years.

Louie was recognized as one of the top 70 Cinematographers for the On Film Kodak Salute Series. He is a member of the Directors Guild of America and the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.

Louie is credited by many with pioneering the contemporary stock footage industry by founding Energy Film Library, a global company with a network of 12 foreign offices, which was acquired by Getty Images in 1997. Motion picture clients of his cinematic artistry include Sex in the City, The Bourne Ultimatum, Die Hard 4, Syriana, Crash, Men in Black and classics such as American Beauty, Koyaanisqatsi and E.T. among others.

Louie went on to found BlackLight Films, a creative production company specializing in producing original theatrical feature, large format films, HD and TV programming.

In 2004, BlackLight Films completed production of the theatrical feature film, America's Heart &Soul, distributed theatrically by Walt Disney Pictures. In 2006, BlackLight Films completed a series of HD shorts, Louie Films, for the launch of Buena Vista Home Entertainment's Blu-Ray DVD releases. In 2007, the company produced a 1-hour special, Chasing the Light, which aired nationally on PBS.

Past projects include the 35mm film Seasons of the Vine for Disney's California Adventure Theme Park and a 26-half hour series, America!, for The Hallmark Channel.

Louie has won two Clio Awards for Best Environmental Broadcast Spot, an Emmy nomination for Best Cinematography for the Discovery Channel Special, Oceans of Air, and the Heartland Film Festival's Truly Moving Picture Award for Walt Disney Pictures' feature film release America's Heart & Soul.

Louie completed production on a feature length nature documentary, Wings of Life, to be theatrically released worldwide, under Walt Disney Pictures' new production banner, Disneynature. The film was released in France (March 2011) under the title Pollen and won the Roscar Award for Best Cinematography at the 2011 Wild Talk Africa Film Festival.

Louie spoke at the TED 2011 conference in Long Beach, CA and has been a regular presenter at the annual Bioneers Conference in San Francisco. Currently, Louie is in production with National Geographic to produce Hidden Worlds, a 3D Imax film.

Monday, November 28, 2011

From The New York Times

November 27, 2011, 10:28 am

The Obama Spending Non-Surge

Blogging is a lot like teaching the same class year after year; you’re always encountering the same arguments you’ve refuted in the past, and you want to demand why they weren’t listening the last time.

Anyway, what I’m seeing in comments and reactions, once again, is the claim that Obama has presided over a vast expansion of government — a claim backed not by describing any specific programs, but by pointing to the share of federal spending in GDP. Indeed, federal spending rose from 19.6% of GDP in 2007 to 23.8% in 2010 (it was briefly 25 in 2009, but that was a number distorted by the financial bailouts). So there has been a roughly 4 points of GDP rise in the spending share. What’s that about?

Well, part of the answer is that the ratio is up because the denominator is down. According to CBO estimates, in fiscal 2010 the economy operated about 7 percent below potential. This means that even if what the government was doing hadn’t changed, the federal spending share of GDP would have risen by 1.4 percentage points.

Then, look inside the budget data (pdf), specifically at Table E-10. You’ll see a surge in spending on “income security”; that’s basically unemployment insurance, food stamps, and similar items. In other words, spending on safety-net programs is up because the economy is depressed, and more people are falling into the safety net.

You’ll also see a sharp rise in Medicaid; again, this is because the lousy economy has pushed more people into hardship, making them eligible for the program.

I’ve done a bit of number-crunching, and here’s my allocation of the sources of the rise in federal spending as a share of GDP:
So a depressed economy plus safety net programs that have grown as a result of a depressed economy are, overwhelmingly, the real story here.

What’s in that “other” category? Some of it is stimulus spending. Some of it is the leading wave of the baby boomers, who are starting to collect Social Security and enter Medicare. Some of it is rising health care costs.

What isn’t there, no way, nohow, is a massive expansion of government, which is a figment of the right wing’s imagination.

From Advocates for Survivors of Torture and Trauma (ASTT)

Helping torture victims become torture survivors.
Dear Dee ,
Please take a few minutes help protect our fundamental American values. Call your Senators today and ask them to do the right thing.

Tell your Senators you want them to stand up for due process and liberty for all.
Ask them to vote FOR the Udall Amendment and AGAINST the Ayotte Amendment to the NDAA 2012.
This evening, the Senate will begin voting on the National Defense Authorization Act 2012 (NDAA). They will decide whether to make permanent the indefinite detention of individuals, which may include American citizens—without charge or trial. The Senate will also vote to authorize mandatory military custody of individuals, including legal US residents. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has made clear that mandatory military custody limits US ability to fight terrorism.
The Udall Amendment would strike these NDAA provisions.
The Senate will also decide whether we should roll back the protections against torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, and allow interrogation techniques outside the Army Field Manual, which should be the gold standard. General David Petraeus, current Director of the CIA, believes such enhanced interrogation techniques are ineffective and wrong; however, the Ayotte Amendment would codify this roll-back and allow such techniques.
Please call your senators and tell them to stand up for due process and liberty for all. Please ask your senators to vote FOR the Udall Amendment (A. No. 1107), which strikes down these disastrous detainee provisions, and AGAINST the Ayotte Amendment (A. No. 1068), which authorizes enhanced interrogation techniques.
Physicians for Human Rights documented in the 2011 report, Punishment Before Justice: Indefinite Detention in the US, medical literature provides convincing evidence that the indeterminacy of an indefinite detention creates a degree of uncertainty, unpredictability, and uncontrollability that causes severe harms in healthy individuals.

Brandi Carlile Sings Turpentine

Sunday, November 27, 2011

From The Smirking Chimp

by John W. Dean | June 29, 2011
For good reason, there has been serious hand-wringing over what to do about the ethical lapses of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. The fact that Supreme Court justices are exempt from the code of ethical conduct which applies to the rest of the federal judiciary; the problem of bringing a sitting justice before the Congress to question the conduct of a constitutional co-equal; the reality that justices cannot easily defend themselves against news media charges; the defiant, in-your-face posture of Thomas—the list goes on but it need not. There is clear precedent for how to deal with the justice. Thomas could be forced off the bench.

As the associate deputy attorney general in President Richard M. Nixon's Department of Justice, I was there when Assistant Attorney General William Rehnquist outlined how to remove a Supreme Court justice who had engaged in conduct not quite as troublesome as that of Thomas. Rehnquist, of course, would later become chief justice of the United States. His memorandum providing the process for the Department of Justice to proceed against then Supreme Court Justice Abe Fortas remains solid precedent and the way to deal with Clarence Thomas. But before looking at the solution, I should explain the problem.

» article continues...

Friday, November 25, 2011

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

Birds do it, bees do it 
Even educated fleas do it 
Let's do it, let's fall in love 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

From RollingStone

How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the OWS Protests

Much more than a movement against big banks, they're a rejection of what our society has become.

By Matt Taibbi

November 10, 2011 8:00 AM ET
taibbi ows

I have a confession to make. At first, I misunderstood Occupy Wall Street.

The first few times I went down to Zuccotti Park, I came away with mixed feelings. I loved the energy and was amazed by the obvious organic appeal of the movement, the way it was growing on its own. But my initial impression was that it would not be taken very seriously by the Citibanks and Goldman Sachs of the world. You could put 50,000 angry protesters on Wall Street, 100,000 even, and Lloyd Blankfein is probably not going to break a sweat. He knows he's not going to wake up tomorrow and see Cornel West or Richard Trumka running the Federal Reserve. He knows modern finance is a giant mechanical parasite that only an expert surgeon can remove. Yell and scream all you want, but he and his fellow financial Frankensteins are the only ones who know how to turn the machine off.

That's what I was thinking during the first few weeks of the protests. But I'm beginning to see another angle. Occupy Wall Street was always about something much bigger than a movement against big banks and modern finance. It's about providing a forum for people to show how tired they are not just of Wall Street, but everything. This is a visceral, impassioned, deep-seated rejection of the entire direction of our society, a refusal to take even one more step forward into the shallow commercial abyss of phoniness, short-term calculation, withered idealism and intellectual bankruptcy that American mass society has become. If there is such a thing as going on strike from one's own culture, this is it. And by being so broad in scope and so elemental in its motivation, it's flown over the heads of many on both the right and the left.

The right-wing media wasted no time in cannon-blasting the movement with its usual idiotic clich├ęs, casting Occupy Wall Street as a bunch of dirty hippies who should get a job and stop chewing up Mike Bloomberg's police overtime budget with their urban sleepovers. Just like they did a half-century ago, when the debate over the Vietnam War somehow stopped being about why we were brutally murdering millions of innocent Indochinese civilians and instead became a referendum on bralessness and long hair and flower-child rhetoric, the depraved flacks of the right-wing media have breezily blown off a generation of fraud and corruption and market-perverting bailouts, making the whole debate about the protesters themselves – their hygiene, their "envy" of the rich, their "hypocrisy."

The protesters, chirped Supreme Reichskank Ann Coulter, needed three things: "showers, jobs and a point." Her colleague Charles Krauthammer went so far as to label the protesters hypocrites for having iPhones. OWS, he said, is "Starbucks-sipping, Levi's-clad, iPhone-clutching protesters [denouncing] corporate America even as they weep for Steve Jobs, corporate titan, billionaire eight times over." Apparently, because Goldman and Citibank are corporations, no protester can ever consume a corporate product – not jeans, not cellphones and definitely not coffee – if he also wants to complain about tax money going to pay off some billionaire banker's bets against his own crappy mortgages.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the political spectrum, there were scads of progressive pundits like me who wrung our hands with worry that OWS was playing right into the hands of assholes like Krauthammer. Don't give them any ammunition! we counseled. Stay on message! Be specific! We were all playing the Rorschach-test game with OWS, trying to squint at it and see what we wanted to see in the movement. Viewed through the prism of our desire to make near-term, within-the-system changes, it was hard to see how skirmishing with cops in New York would help foreclosed-upon middle-class families in Jacksonville and San Diego.

What both sides missed is that OWS is tired of all of this. They don't care what we think they're about, or should be about. They just want something different.

We're all born wanting the freedom to imagine a better and more beautiful future. But modern America has become a place so drearily confining and predictable that it chokes the life out of that built-in desire. Everything from our pop culture to our economy to our politics feels oppressive and unresponsive. We see 10 million commercials a day, and every day is the same life-killing chase for money, money and more money; the only thing that changes from minute to minute is that every tick of the clock brings with it another space-age vendor dreaming up some new way to try to sell you something or reach into your pocket. The relentless sameness of the two-party political system is beginning to feel like a Jacob's Ladder nightmare with no end; we're entering another turn on the four-year merry-go-round, and the thought of having to try to get excited about yet another minor quadrennial shift in the direction of one or the other pole of alienating corporate full-of-shitness is enough to make anyone want to smash his own hand flat with a hammer.

If you think of it this way, Occupy Wall Street takes on another meaning. There's no better symbol of the gloom and psychological repression of modern America than the banking system, a huge heartless machine that attaches itself to you at an early age, and from which there is no escape. You fail to receive a few past-due notices about a $19 payment you missed on that TV you bought at Circuit City, and next thing you know a collector has filed a judgment against you for $3,000 in fees and interest. Or maybe you wake up one morning and your car is gone, legally repossessed by Vulture Inc., the debt-buying firm that bought your loan on the Internet from Chase for two cents on the dollar. This is why people hate Wall Street. They hate it because the banks have made life for ordinary people a vicious tightrope act; you slip anywhere along the way, it's 10,000 feet down into a vat of razor blades that you can never climb out of.

That, to me, is what Occupy Wall Street is addressing. People don't know exactly what they want, but as one friend of mine put it, they know one thing: FUCK THIS SHIT! We want something different: a different life, with different values, or at least a chance at different values.

There was a lot of snickering in media circles, even by me, when I heard the protesters talking about how Liberty Square was offering a model for a new society, with free food and health care and so on. Obviously, a bunch of kids taking donations and giving away free food is not a long-term model for a new economic system.

But now, I get it. People want to go someplace for at least five minutes where no one is trying to bleed you or sell you something. It may not be a real model for anything, but it's at least a place where people are free to dream of some other way for human beings to get along, beyond auctioned "democracy," tyrannical commerce and the bottom line.

We're a nation that was built on a thousand different utopian ideas, from the Shakers to the Mormons to New Harmony, Indiana. It was possible, once, for communities to experiment with everything from free love to an end to private property. But nowadays even the palest federalism is swiftly crushed. If your state tries to place tariffs on companies doing business with some notorious human-rights-violator state – like Massachusetts did, when it sought to bar state contracts to firms doing business with Myanmar – the decision will be overturned by some distant global bureaucracy like the WTO. Even if 40 million Californians vote tomorrow to allow themselves to smoke a joint, the federal government will never permit it. And the economy is run almost entirely by an unaccountable oligarchy in Lower Manhattan that absolutely will not sanction any innovations in banking or debt forgiveness or anything else that might lessen its predatory influence.

And here's one more thing I was wrong about: I originally was very uncomfortable with the way the protesters were focusing on the NYPD as symbols of the system. After all, I thought, these are just working-class guys from the Bronx and Staten Island who have never seen the inside of a Wall Street investment firm, much less had anything to do with the corruption of our financial system.

But I was wrong. The police in their own way are symbols of the problem. All over the country, thousands of armed cops have been deployed to stand around and surveil and even assault the polite crowds of Occupy protesters. This deployment of law-enforcement resources already dwarfs the amount of money and manpower that the government "committed" to fighting crime and corruption during the financial crisis. One OWS protester steps in the wrong place, and she immediately has police roping her off like wayward cattle. But in the skyscrapers above the protests, anything goes.

This is a profound statement about who law enforcement works for in this country. What happened on Wall Street over the past decade was an unparalleled crime wave. Yet at most, maybe 1,500 federal agents were policing that beat – and that little group of financial cops barely made any cases at all. Yet when thousands of ordinary people hit the streets with the express purpose of obeying the law and demonstrating their patriotism through peaceful protest, the police response is immediate and massive. There have already been hundreds of arrests, which is hundreds more than we ever saw during the years when Wall Street bankers were stealing billions of dollars from retirees and mutual-fund holders and carpenters unions through the mass sales of fraudulent mortgage-backed securities.

It's not that the cops outside the protests are doing wrong, per se, by patrolling the parks and sidewalks. It's that they should be somewhere else. They should be heading up into those skyscrapers and going through the file cabinets to figure out who stole what, and from whom. They should be helping people get their money back. Instead, they're out on the street, helping the Blankfeins of the world avoid having to answer to the people they ripped off.

People want out of this fiendish system, rigged to inexorably circumvent every hope we have for a more balanced world. They want major changes. I think I understand now that this is what the Occupy movement is all about. It's about dropping out, if only for a moment, and trying something new, the same way that the civil rights movement of the 1960s strived to create a "beloved community" free of racial segregation. Eventually the Occupy movement will need to be specific about how it wants to change the world. But for right now, it just needs to grow. And if it wants to sleep on the streets for a while and not structure itself into a traditional campaign of grassroots organizing, it should. It doesn't need to tell the world what it wants. It is succeeding, for now, just by being something different.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Amy LaVere - Never Been Sadder

Neko Case "I Wish I Was The Moon" Live RAVE HD


by Jack Reeves

It is almost two years since Iraq's national election. Still, unified government has not resulted because the country is divided by the theology of its Sunni and Shiite populations. Such since the Prophet Muhammed's death almost 1400 years ago.

Meanwhile, conflict and contention increase; US armed forces will be gone in a month.

That the United States invaded Iraq is tragic. Avowed reasons were to protect the US and enable democracy.

Even if containing an element of honesty, the action was uninformed. Democracy is not creatable overnight. In particular, 1400 years of animosity cannot be soon ended.

This reality was not respected in 2003. Instead, invasion was much motivated by economic and ideological interests.

The results--besides death and destruction--still affect us, contributing to our national debt and significantly causative of our extreme political division and dysfunction government.

Fourteen hundred years of same behavior is predictive. Honesty respects this.

"Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it" (George Santayana) is verifiable.

And, unfortunately, yesterday, today and tomorrow too often explained.

The Fight for American Jobs Continues

Mike McCarry, a 59-year-old veteran who juggles two jobs to make ends meet talks about the veterans portion of President Obama's jobs plan. Congress passed it earlier this month and the President signed into law yesterday. Unfortunately, almost every single Republican still refuse to do the right thing for teachers, cops, firefighters, and middle-class families.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

From NBC News: Bob Costas Interviews Jerry Sandusky

Last night on NBC News "Rock Center," Bob Costas asked  Jerry Sandusky by telephone if he was a pedophile. Sandusky's response was, "No."

Harry Belafonte Reflects on Life as a Singer, Actor and Activist

From The News Hours: Gwen Ifill interview Harry Belafonte, a musical icon and lifelong political and social activist.