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