Month: May 2008

Should all Arctic species be red-listed?

“Just two weeks after the US decided to list the polar bear as an endangered species because of the threat of climate change, conservationists have launched a campaign to afford its diet – Arctic seals – the same protection.

The same scientists say tens of thousands more Arctic species may soon be listed as ‘endangered’ because of a threat several decades down the line. Some conservationists argue that all Arctic species be listed.” (New Scientist)

Teeshirt with gun-toting robot brands you a terrorist at Heathrow

The Edge of Madness: “Go through security, get pulled to the side. I’m wearing a French Connection Transformers t-shirt. Bloke starts joking with me is that Megatron. Then he explains that since Megatron is holding a gun, I’m not allowed to fly. WTF? It’s a 40 foot tall cartoon robot with a gun as an arm. There is no way this shirt is offensive in any way, and what I’m going to use the shirt to pretend I have a gun?” [via boing boing]

(And, if secutiry had looked at the teeshirt label, the passenger would have really been in trouble: ‘FCUK’.)

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The Neural Buddhists

David Brooks: “The cognitive revolution is not going to end up undermining faith in God, it’s going to end up challenging faith in the Bible.

Over the past several years, the momentum has shifted away from hard-core materialism. The brain seems less like a cold machine. It does not operate like a computer. Instead, meaning, belief and consciousness seem to emerge mysteriously from idiosyncratic networks of neural firings. Those squishy things called emotions play a gigantic role in all forms of thinking. Love is vital to brain development.

Researchers now spend a lot of time trying to understand universal moral intuitions. Genes are not merely selfish, it appears. Instead, people seem to have deep instincts for fairness, empathy and attachment.

Scientists have more respect for elevated spiritual states. Andrew Newberg of the University of Pennsylvania has shown that transcendent experiences can actually be identified and measured in the brain (people experience a decrease in activity in the parietal lobe, which orients us in space). The mind seems to have the ability to transcend itself and merge with a larger presence that feels more real.

This new wave of research will not seep into the public realm in the form of militant atheism. Instead it will lead to what you might call neural Buddhism.” (New York Times op-ed)

Cities and Ambition

“How much does it matter what message a city sends? Empirically, the answer seems to be: a lot. You might think that if you had enough strength of mind to do great things, you’d be able to transcend your environment. Where you live should make at most a couple percent difference. But if you look at the historical evidence, it seems to matter more than that. Most people who did great things were clumped together in a few places where that sort of thing was done at the time.” (paulgraham.com via the null device)

50 Worst Album Covers Ever?

A compilation by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Anyone prepared to claim that the album cover is a legitimate type of work of art should scan this gallery first. I went through all fifty and they include stunning examples of bad haircuts, tortured superficiality and, curiously, a disproportionate number of pairings between recording artists and dummies. Certainly, looking at most of these is a cross-cultural experience. There are a scattered few which it seems are being lampooned just for the appearance of the artist(s), rather than the cultural iconography they represent. However, there is one album among the fifty that I am proud to say I own, have valued as a profound musical experience, and am quite surprised to see lumped with the others. Can you guess which one?

The yin and yang of cannabis and psychosis

“It is now quite widely known that cannabis use is linked to a small but significant increase in the chance of developing psychosis, but it is less widely known that one of the ingredients in cannabis actually has antipsychotic effects.

Unlike THC, it’s lesser known cousin cannabidiol is not responsible for the cannabis ‘high’ but it is naturally present in the plant.

There is accumulating evidence that cannabidiol has an antipsychotic effect, potentially damping down the psychosis-promoting effects of THC.

The amount of this substance varies in street cannabis, with some strains having more cannabidiol than others, and ‘skunk’ having the least of all – it being mostly eliminated by selective breeding for high THC content.

An ingenious new study looked at levels of cannabidiol consumption in groups of cannabis smokers by testing hair samples, and found that the groups who had the lowest cannabidiol levels had the most psychosis-like experiences.” (Mind Hacks)

Sydney Pollack’s eerie craft

Scarily relevant 33-year-old movie: “He created a highly enjoyable quasi-classic comedy with Tootsie, but director Sydney Pollack rarely dined (as Woody Allen said of humorists) at the children’s table… With the sad news of Pollack’s passing this week came an urge to revisit his underrated Three Days of the Condor. Released during the hump year (’75) of the greatest decade of cinema, Condor tapped into a Watergate/Vietnam-inspired distrust of everyone and everything. Robert Redford plays a spook whose job consists of reading books — not a bad life, until all his office mates are liquidated. A subplot involving plans to invade the Middle East (hmmm — for oil) gives this paranoid classic an eerie resonance, as does Pollack’s idea of where to house New York’s CIA station. He wanted the agency to be anonymous, to hide in plain sight. He chose the brand-new Twin Towers.” (Very Short List)

Uncontacted tribe photographed near Brazil-Peru border

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“Members of one of the world’s last uncontacted tribes have been spotted and photographed from the air near the Brazil-Peru border. The photos were taken during several flights over one of the remotest parts of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil’s Acre state.

‘We did the overflight to show their houses, to show they are there, to show they exist,’ said uncontacted tribes expert Jos�Carlos dos Reis Meirelles Junior. Meirelles works for FUNAI, the Brazilian government’s Indian affairs department. ‘This is very important because there are some who doubt their existence.’” (Survival International)

Evolution of flu strains points to higher risk of pandemic: study

“Some strains of bird flu are coming ever closer to developing the traits they need to cause a human pandemic, a study released Monday said.

Researchers who analysed samples of recent avian flu viruses found that a few H7 strains of the virus that have caused minor, untransmissible infections in people in North America between 2002 and 2004 have increased their affinity for the sugars found on human tracheal cells.” (Yahoo! News)

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Mental illness following The Exorcist

“Horror movie The Exorcist remains one of cinema’s darkest and most frightening classics. So great was its power that rumours circulated about viewers running in fear, feinting, or even going mad after seeing the film. In fact, it caused such concern that it was discussed in the medical literature for its possible role in triggering mental illness.

In 1975 psychiatrist James Bozzuto wrote an article for the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease entitled ‘Cinematic Neurosis Following The Exorcist‘ that reported four cases of previously untroubled people who seemed to develop psychiatric difficulties after watching the film…” (Mind Hacks)

R.I.P. Utah Phillips

Family’s remembrance: “Utah Phillips, a seminal figure in American folk music who performed extensively and tirelessly for audiences on two continents for 38 years, died Friday of congestive heart failure in Nevada City, California a small town in the Sierra Nevada mountains where he lived for the last 21 years with his wife, Joanna Robinson, a freelance editor.

Born Bruce Duncan Phillips on May 15, 1935 in Cleveland, Ohio, he was the son of labor organizers. Whether through this early influence or an early life that was not always tranquil or easy, by his twenties Phillips demonstrated a lifelong concern with the living conditions of working people. He was a proud member of the Industrial Workers of the World, popularly known as “the Wobblies,” an organizational artifact of early twentieth-century labor struggles that has seen renewed interest and growth in membership in the last decade, not in small part due to his efforts to popularize it.

Phillips served as an Army private during the Korean War, an experience he would later refer to as the turning point of his life. Deeply affected by the devastation and human misery he had witnessed, upon his return to the United States he began drifting, riding freight trains around the country. His struggle would be familiar today, when the difficulties of returning combat veterans are more widely understood, but in the late fifties Phillips was left to work them out for himself. Destitute and drinking, Phillips got off a freight train in Salt Lake City and wound up at the Joe Hill House, a homeless shelter operated by the anarchist Ammon Hennacy, a member of the Catholic Worker movement and associate of Dorothy Day.

Phillips credited Hennacy and other social reformers he referred to as his “elders” with having provided a philosophical framework around which he later constructed songs and stories he intended as a template his audiences could employ to understand their own political and working lives. They were often hilarious, sometimes sad, but never shallow.

“He made me understand that music must be more than cotton candy for the ears,” said John McCutcheon, a nationally-known folksinger and close friend.
In the creation of his performing persona and work, Phillips drew from influences as diverse as Borscht Belt comedian Myron Cohen, folksingers Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, and Country stars Hank Williams and T. Texas Tyler.

A stint as an archivist for the State of Utah in the 1960s taught Phillips the discipline of historical research; beneath the simplest and most folksy of his songs was a rigorous attention to detail and a strong and carefully-crafted narrative structure. He was a voracious reader in a surprising variety of fields.
Meanwhile, Phillips was working at Hennacy’s Joe Hill house. In 1968 he ran for a seat in the U.S. Senate on the Peace and Freedom Party ticket. The race was won by a Republican candidate, and Phillips was seen by some Democrats as having split the vote. He subsequently lost his job with the State of Utah, a process he described as “blacklisting.”

Phillips left Utah for Saratoga Springs, New York, where he was welcomed into a lively community of folk performers centered at the Caffé Lena, operated by Lena Spencer.
“It was the coffeehouse, the place to perform. Everybody went there. She fed everybody,” said John “Che” Greenwood, a fellow performer and friend.
Over the span of the nearly four decades that followed, Phillips worked in what he referred to as “the Trade,” developing an audience of hundreds of thousands and performing in large and small cities throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe. His performing partners included Rosalie Sorrels, Kate Wolf, John McCutcheon and Ani DiFranco.

“He was like an alchemist,” said Sorrels, “He took the stories of working people and railroad bums and he built them into work that was influenced by writers like Thomas Wolfe, but then he gave it back, he put it in language so the people whom the songs and stories were about still had them, still owned them. He didn’t believe in stealing culture from the people it was about.”

A single from Phillips’s first record, “Moose Turd Pie,” a rollicking story about working on a railroad track gang, saw extensive airplay in 1973. From then on, Phillips had work on the road. His extensive writing and recording career included two albums with Ani DiFranco which earned a Grammy nomination. Phillips’s songs were performed and recorded by Emmylou Harris, Waylon Jennings, Joan Baez, Tom Waits, Joe Ely and others. He was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Folk Alliance in 1997.

Phillips, something of a perfectionist, claimed that he never lost his stage fright before performances. He didn’t want to lose it, he said; it kept him improving.
Phillips began suffering from the effects of chronic heart disease in 2004, and as his illness kept him off the road at times, he started a nationally syndicated folk-music radio show, “Loafer’s Glory,” produced at KVMR-FM and started a homeless shelter in his rural home county, where down-on-their-luck men and women were sleeping under the manzanita brush at the edge of town. Hospitality House opened in 2005 and continues to house 25 to 30 guests a night. In this way, Phillips returned to the work of his mentor Hennacy in the last four years of his life.

Phillips died at home, in bed, in his sleep, next to his wife. He is survived by his son Duncan and daughter-in-law Bobette of Salt Lake City, son Brendan of Olympia, Washington; daughter Morrigan Belle of Washington, D.C.; stepson Nicholas Tomb of Monterrey, California; stepson and daughter-in-law Ian Durfee and Mary Creasey of Davis, California; brothers David Phillips of Fairfield, California, Ed Phillips of Cleveland, Ohio and Stuart Cohen of Los Angeles; sister Deborah Cohen of Lisbon, Portugal; and a grandchild, Brendan. He was preceded in death by his father Edwin Phillips and mother Kathleen, and his stepfather, Syd Cohen.

The family requests memorial donations to Hospitality House, P.O. Box 3223, Grass Valley, California 95945 (530) 271-7144 http://www.hospitalityhouseshelter.org”

Gary Younge:

Clinton has run her campaign the same way Bush has run the country: “As the primary season draws to a close it has become increasingly apparent that Hillary Clinton has run her campaign with the same contempt for intelligence, decency and democracy that Bush has run the country. Like the Bush administration, her campaign has been sustained by cynicism, divisiveness and fear-mongering, leaving a toxic and rancorous rift in its wake. Like the White House, her aim has been to win at all costs. And like the White House, it has produced the same result. Failure.” (The Guardian)

New Class Of Antidepressants Might Be Right Under Our Noses

Burning Incense Is Psychoactive. “Religious leaders have contended for millennia that burning incense is good for the soul. Now, biologists have learned that it is good for our brains too. An international team of scientists, including researchers from Johns Hopkins University and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, describe how burning frankincense (resin from the Boswellia plant) activates poorly understood ion channels in the brain to alleviate anxiety or depression.” (Science Daily)

Therapists volunteer to help U.S. veterans

“Thousands of private counselors are offering free services to troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with mental health problems, jumping in to help because the military is short on therapists.

On this Memorial Day, America’s armed forces and its veterans are coping with depression, suicide and family, marital and job problems on a scale not seen since Vietnam. The government has been in beg-borrow-and-steal mode, trying to hire psychiatrists and other professionals, recruit them with incentives or borrow them from other agencies.” (Delaware Online)

Among others, an organization of mental health professionals called Give An Hour solicits therapist volunteers to commit to one weekly treatment hour for returning veterans or their families for a minimum of a year. The objective, in conjunction with the American Psychiatric Foundation, is for 40,000 mental health care providers (around 10% of the national total) to enlist in the program over the next three years.

And Adding Insult to Injury:

“This Memorial Day, as an ever-increasing number of mentally and physically wounded soldiers return from Iraq, the Department of Veterans Affairs faces a pressing crisis: women traumatized not only by combat but also by sexual assault and harassment from their fellow service members. Sadly, the department is failing to fully deal with this problem.” (Wounded Times)

On this Memorial Day, my thoughts are certainly with the returning veterans and their families. A recent puff piece on the mental health impact of the war by the Dept. of Veteran Affairs did little more than mince words, concluding that

“there is much that is still unknown about how soldiers adjust to the enormous demands in these new war zones. it is important to appreciate the stressors and traumas of these new wars in order to raise the awareness of civilians back home, prepare loved ones for soldiers’ return, and meet the clinical needs of our newest veterans.”

In my opinion, however, not much is unknown about the toll this will take, except with respect to how badly the government will minimize and whitewash it (and how much of a priority the next, Democratic, administration will make of addressing this emergency).

The immorality and indefensibility of these wars from the outset, compounded by their justification by baldfaced lies and the execrable ineptitude in planning and devoting needed resources, does much to explain in the first place why such a large proportion of our enlistees are returning psychologically devastated. I will probably volunteer my time in this effort. But I have to say that it is with mixed feelings. To have to step in to compensate for the contemptible irresponsibility on the part of this malign Administration sticks in my craw to no end.

I would feel even better if there were an effort to organize mental health professionals not merely to give direct service but to educate other civilian health care providers (especially primary care MDs) to recognize and address the post-traumatic conditions of the returning veterans they will encounter. In addition to extending the reach of our expertise and facilitating the proper triage, referral and care of the victims, this would be an important societal consciousness-raising effort.

Docs list who would be allowed to die in a catastrophe

“Doctors know some patients needing lifesaving care won’t get it in a flu pandemic or other disaster. The gut-wrenching dilemma will be deciding whom to let die.In the event of a mass-casualty situation, medical resources would be have to be rationed.

Now, an influential group of physicians has drafted a grimly specific list of recommendations for which patients wouldn’t be treated. They include the very elderly, seriously hurt trauma victims, severely burned patients and those with severe dementia.” (CNN)

Hillary and the Kubler-Ross model

From Rafe Coburn: “With the news this morning that Bill Clinton and other Hillary Clinton supporters are openly pushing for Barack Obama to choose Hillary as his running mate, it has become apparent that the Clinton camp is going through the stages of the Kubler-Ross model of coping with death or tragedy.

Stage one is denial. I think we’ve all seen that in the fact that Hillary keeps loaning her failed campaign millions of dollars even though Obama’s delegate lead is insurmountable and the superdelegates keep shifting away from her.

Stage two is anger. We’ve seen Clinton’s anger on display for the past couple of weeks as she’s blamed the media and sexism for her failed campaign, and she’s tried to push the decertification of the Florida and Michigan primaries as some kind of civil rights issue.

It’s apparent that we’re now in stage three — bargaining. The Clinton camp are trying to bargain with the Obama campaign to get her name onto the ticket.

Personally, I’m ready for depression and then acceptance to kick in.” (rc3)

Hillary Raises Assassination to Defend Long-Running Campaign

“Clinton today brought up the assassination of Sen. Robert Kennedy while defending her decision to stay in the race against Barack Obama. ‘My husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right? We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California. I don’t understand it,’ she said, dismissing calls to drop out.” (New York Daily News)

The assassination drumbeat mounts.

Bush Announces Agenda for Remainder of Term in Office

8-Month Plan To Steal Favorite Desk Lamp: “WASHINGTON—With his term in office coming to an end in less than a year, President Bush announced Monday that he will spend the remainder of his presidency implementing an initiative that will have as-yet-unknown implications for his successors: the stealing of a coveted $27 desk lamp from the East Room of the White House. ‘Securing this lamp for my den in Crawford has long been a goal of my presidency,’ Bush said of the plan, which at present consists of the president making sure no one is in the room before cramming the lamp under his shirt and hurriedly boarding a helicopter that will be waiting in the Rose Garden. ‘In order to facilitate this imperative, historic measure, I have created a new cabinet-level position whose primary responsibilities will be to act as a lookout and create any necessary diversions needed to ensure the swiping of the lamp.’ Bush’s lamp-stealing plan will reportedly cost taxpayers $3.75 billion.” (The Onion)

One in 20 patients want to kill doctor – study

“The survey questioned 800 Americans who were in pain, undergoing physical rehabilitation or seeking legal compensation for disability to find out their attitude towards their GP.

The researchers from the University of Miami, Florida, found that just over 1 in 20, or five per cent, admitted feeling like they wanted to murder their physician.

David Fishbain, an author of the study, found that distrust of doctors was often the cause of the problem, but understanding who was likely to have a wish to harm and why could help reduce attacks, the New Scientist magazine reports.

Few doctors are actually killed by their patients, but thousands are attacked and injured, Professor Fishbain said.” (news.com.au)

The Device

The only process indicating apparatus you’ll ever need! “…[A]n enigmatic beast. At first glance, one hardly knows what to make of it… and at second glance things don’t get much better. Listed below are some of the more common questions we’ve been asked, and their answers.

(…)

Q: How integral a role can the Device play in my secret plans to take over the world?

A: The Device can be used for good or evil. Please only use the Device for good.

Q: If Albert Einstein was alive today, do you think he would own The Device?

A: Yes.”

New Red Spot Appears on Jupiter

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“Planetary measles”: “…[A] third red spot has appeared alongside its cousins — the Great Red Spot and Red Spot Jr. — in the turbulent Jovian atmosphere. This third red spot, which is a fraction of the size of the two other features, lies to the west of the Great Red Spot in the same latitude band of clouds.” (HubbleSite)

Five things humans no longer need

Vestigial organs: “Probably the most famous example is the appendix, though it is now an open question whether the appendix is really vestigial. The idea that we are carrying around useless relics of our evolutionary past has long fascinated scientists and laypeople alike.

This week we tackle vestigial organs in a feature article that looks at how the idea has changed over the years, and how it has come under attack from creationists anxious to deny that vestigial organs (and hence evolution) exist at all. To accompany the article, here is our list of the five organs and functions most likely to be truly vestigial.” (New Scientist)

What’s in McCain’s medical records?

“He’ll be releasing everything about his repeated cancer surgeries. But he won’t release his psychiatric records, which hold clues to the effect of his Vietnam captivity.” (Salon)

There would be concerns about his fitness for the presidency even if he weren’t about to turn 72. Arguably, the President’s mental health is the aspect of his or her medical condition that has the most bearing on ability to govern. Every year, with great hoopla, the President is pronounced fit after a publicized physical exam at Walter Reed. But, as I have said repeatedly with regard to GWB (about whose emotional fitness I have had ongoing grave concerns), the double standard that bars parallel psychiatric evaluations and announcements of their results is unconscionable.

Is Harvard Just a Tax-Free Hedge Fund?

“Viewed purely in terms of economics, Harvard is really a $40 billion tax-free hedge fund with a very large marketing and PR arm called Harvard University that has the job of raising the investment capital and protecting the fund’s preferential tax treatment.

The trick is that this hedge fund can’t remit earnings to investors, and has to keep them in the company’s account, renaming these retained earnings as an “endowment”. So how do the insiders extract value from this business? One way is by giving themselves cushy jobs that pay a ton of dough. Those who manage Harvard’s money are well-paid…

When tax-advantaged non-profits start to accumulate billions of dollars of cash through investment gains, and the insiders seem to be doing very well, it creates legitimate pressure for some legal changes. There is a broad range of alternatives: capital gains taxes on investment income, directly taxing the endowment, placing limitations on employee compensation, and forcing the distribution of a fixed percentage of the endowment are all obvious choices. Sanctimonious talk about “the mission of the university” is not likely to stop this; unfortunately, giving lots of money to Democratic politicians very well might.” (The American Scene via walker)

Warning:

Don't Smile Too Much: “A German psychologist has warned ‘professional smilers’ such as flight attendants and shop assistants that too much forced smiling can cause stress, depression and even heart problems.” (Der Spiegel)

The Stealth Campaign to Delegitimize Obama

‘democrat_to_the_end’ writes: “Last night, I got a wake-up call. I listened to the audio of her conference call with bloggers, which a DUer was kind enough to partially transcribe, and I realized that while she may bow out on June 4 and endorse Obama and encourage her supporters to vote for him, there’s more to her strategy than meets the eye. I don’t think she is planning to take this to the Convention, and she could be angling for the VP slot. But there’s a far more troubling possibility here. From the sound of what she encouraged her bloggers to push last night, it sounds like she is trying to delegitimize him or cloud his legitimacy when he eventually clinches the nomination, as part of a stealth campaign for 2012.” (Daily Kos)

Bush Lied About Giving Up Golf

Video Proof: “President Bush said with a straight face this week that he gave up golf in honor of the fallen soldiers in Iraq, claiming that he quit after the bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad in August 2003:

‘I don’t want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the commander in chief playing golf,’ he said. ‘I feel I owe it to the families to be in solidarity as best as I can with them. And I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal.’

…In fact, Bush went golfing two months after the bombing the UN headquarters, and Keith Olbermann found the video…” (HuffPo)

Apology Project

A friend wrote me today describing her plan to select a dozen names at random from the Paris phone book and send each of them a postcard:

“Greetings from the USA. You don’t know me, but I selected your name and address at random from the internet white pages. I send you this note to apologize. The president of my country is an idiot. I did not vote for him. The majority of us are deeply ashamed of this man and his law-breaking regime. Let us hope for a return to sanity and intelligence in the upcoming year.

Best regards,”

She was inspired by this://i.thefairest.info/funniest_thumbs/SLctWT.jpeg' cannot be displayed]

I, in turn, am inspired to commit similar acts. We are both curious to see if anyone responds, and how. Care to join us? If so, spread the word.

Addendum: She wrote further:

“Someone replied and wanted to do this mailing of postcards to random recipients. In my previous email I failed to outline clearly how I did it. It is a bit more complicated than I let on, but actually very easy!

First, you use real postcards, not ecards: wire display-stand postcards made of paper with glossy photo on front (see attachment in previous email) They run about 50 cents new or always aplenty in thrift shops or at home. I’m afraid I wasn’t accurate in my explanation of how I ‘found’ names. For individuals’ addresses I went to this site:

http://c.asselin.free.fr/french/yellow_pages.htm

I clicked on ‘France’ and up came a search page with little browser windows for ‘name’s and ‘city’. (Note: you can’t just search name-filled pages.) Then I made up first and last names, typed them in the little browser windows along with my chosen city, ‘Paris’ until, voila! a real person’s name appeared with an address. Sometimes I had to think of several first and last name combos before I got a real person. It felt like more of a personal,prophetic connection doing it that way. Also,it might help to know a bit of whatever language so you can read the labels for the search windows.

With business addresses, you don’t use the phone book at all. It’s easier to google for example, “Pet Groomer, Paris, France” whereupon several businesses along with their addresses pop up, from which you can choose.

This method ended up working for me, anyway. Like I said, it sounds complicated, but isn’t.”

Earth to GWB:

The Lebanese Army isn’t on your side any more!: “So there was George Bush, telling the BBC today that he is willing to send US aid to the Lebanese Army… Doesn’t he realize that… the Lebanese Army isn’t on his side any more?? Is it any wonder that the administration led by this man is losing so badly in the Middle East these days?” (Just World News)

Fanboy Supercuts

Obsessive Video Montages: “… [a] genre of video meme, where some obsessive-compulsive superfan collects every phrase/action/cliche from an episode (or entire series) of their favorite show/film/game into a single massive video montage.” An extensive list from films and TV series, including every whacking from The Sopranos and every “dude” from The Big Lebowski. (waxy.org)

The World’s Spookiest Weapons

“Whether these masterpieces of destruction come from miles above Earth or millimeters below the skin, they have one thing in common: they’re spooky as hell.

Can turning animals into cyborgs ever end well? Should lasers really be strapped to planes? Is dispersing humans with the worst smell ever created a better alternative to doing it by burning their skin? You be the judge.” (Popular Science)

The Boy Who Couldn’t Sleep

(Literally): “‘We went to the doctor after he was born, and I kept telling him something was wrong. He didn’t sleep. They thought I was being kind of an anxious mom, and we went back and forth,’ Rhett’s mother, Shannon Lamb, said. ‘Finally, they [were] starting to realize now that he really doesn’t sleep at all. But we’ve had a lot of different diagnoses and nobody really knows.'” (ABC News)

‘Mad Pride’ Fights a Stigma

““Until now, the acceptance of mental illness has pretty much stopped at depression,” said Charles Barber, a lecturer in psychiatry at the Yale School of Medicine. “But a newer generation, fueled by the Internet and other sophisticated delivery systems, is saying, ‘We deserve to be heard, too.’ ”” (New York Times)

Higher Suicide Risk for Smart MDs

“There’s a grim, rarely talked-about twist to all that medical know-how doctors learn to save lives: It makes them especially good at ending their own. An estimated 300 to 400 U.S. doctors kill themselves each year — a suicide rate thought to be higher than in the general population, although exact figures are hard to come by.

Some doctors believe the stigma of mental illness is magnified in a profession that prides itself on stoicism and bravado. Many fear admitting psychiatric problems could be fatal to their careers, so they suffer in silence.” (Time)

Hauntology

“The shades of the past become more vivid than anything turned up by the present. The spirit of the times is itself spectral. Faced with the apparent triumph of global Capital and the collapse of cultural innovation, artists and critics impatient with postmodern culture’s ‘nostalgia mode’ are forced back to a time before the End of History. They engage in mourning and melancholia for what has disappeared and what never came to be. Everyday life becomes ghostly… a saturated culture is unable to forget that things were not always like this.” (Strange Attractor)

Happy Birthday, Gary Snyder (b. 05/08/30)

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this poem is for deer

I dance on all the mountains
On five mountains, I have a dancing place
When they shoot at me I run
To my five mountains”

Missed a last shot
At the Buck, in twilight
So we came back sliding
On dry needles through cold pines.
Scared out a cottontail
Whipped up the winchester
Shot off its head.
The white body rolls and twitches
In the dark ravine
As we run down the hill to the car.

deer foot down scree
Picasso’s fawn, Issa’s fawn,
Deer on the autumn mountain
Howling like a wise man
Stiff springy jumps down the snowfields
Head held back, forefeet out,
Balls tight in a tough hair sack
Keeping the human soul from care
on the autumn mountain
Standing in late sun, ear-flick
Tail-flick, gold mist of flies
Whirling from nostril to eyes.

Home by night
drunken eye
Still picks out Taurus
Low, and growing high:
four-point buck
Dancing in the headlights
on the lonely road
A mile past the mill-pond,
With the car stopped, shot
That wild silly blinded creature down.

Pull out the hot guts
with hard bare hands
While night-frost chills the tongue
and eye
The cold horn-bones.
The hunter’s belt
just below the sky
Warm blood in the car trunk.
Deer-smell,
the limp tongue.

Deer don’t want to die for me.
I’ll drink sea-water
Sleep on beach pebbles in the rain
Until the deer come down to die
in pity for my pain.

Gary Snyder

this poem is for bear

“As for me I am a child of the god of the mountains.”

A bear down under the cliff.
She is eating huckleberries.
They are ripe now
Soon it will snow, and she
Or maybe he, will crawl into a hole
And sleep. You can see
Huckleberries in bearshit if you
Look, this time of year
If I sneak up on the bear
It will grunt and run
The others had all gone down
From the blackberry brambles, but one girl
Spilled her basket, and was picking up her
Berries in the dark.
A tall man stood in the shadow, took her arm,
Led her to his home. He was a bear.
In a house under the mountain
She gave birth to slick dark children
With sharp teeth, and lived in the hollow
Mountain many years.

snare a bear: call him out:
honey-eater
forest apple
light-foot
Old man in the fur coat, Bear! come out!
Die of your own choice!
Grandfather black-food!
this girl married a bear
Who rules in the mountains, Bear!

you have eaten many berries
you have caught many fish
you have frightened many people

Twelve species north of Mexico
Sucking their paws in the long winter
Tearing the high-strung caches down
Whining, crying, jacking off
(Odysseus was a bear)

Bear-cubs gnawing the soft tits
Teeth gritted, eyes screwed tight
but she let them.

Til her brothers found the place
Chased her husband up the gorge
Cornered him in the rocks.
Song of the snared bear:
“Give me my belt.
“I am near death.
“I came from the mountain caves
“At the headwaters,
“The small streams there
“Are all dried up.

— I think I’ll go hunt bears.
“hunt bears?
Why shit Snyder.
You couldn’t hit a bear in the ass
with a handful of rice!”

Gary Snyder

Census Atlas of the United States

“More often than not, trolling websites that end with “.gov” is about as much fun as renewing your driver’s license. But if you check out the U.S. Census Bureau’s website, you can fully access a truly awesome book: the Census Atlas of the United States.

True to the federal government’s prominent place on the trailing edge of information technology, the 302-page report, containing 800 maps populated by data compiled through 2000, is available in 18 PDF files (very Web 1.0). Sure, it’s a bit of a slog — the largest PDF weighs in at 21 MB — but it’s fun to wander such diverse sections as college dormitory population, prevalent language spoken at home, and percentage of commuters who carpool.” (Very Short List)

turtlewheels

“Little Bit, a young Eastern Box Turtle was hit by a car in September of 2000. Her shell was crushed and she was left partially paralyzed… After some weeks Little Bit seemed to have made a full recovery except for the use of her hind legs. So some wheels seemed to be the way to go. Some lightweight model airplane wheels on a wire frame did the trick… She was eating, drinking, and exploring all the rooms of my house. Eventually she was able to move around outside as well.” (via kottke)

The best and worst of medicine

spiked and Wellcome Collection have launched a website to debate and discuss the top-dog medical breakthroughs that transformed humanity’s fortunes, and the worst-ever harebrained medical schemes that should be stuffed in the sin bin of history.” (sp!ked)

The best and worst of medicine

spiked and Wellcome Collection have launched a website to debate and discuss the top-dog medical breakthroughs that transformed humanity’s fortunes, and the worst-ever harebrained medical schemes that should be stuffed in the sin bin of history.” (sp!ked)

Why We Sleep

The Temporal Organization of Recovery — Emmanuel Mignot, Stanford University (‘Unsolved Mysteries’ discuss a topic of biological importance that is poorly understood and in need of research attention). (PLoS Biology)

visualcomplexity.com

A visual exploration on mapping complex networks: “VisualComplexity.com intends to be a unified resource space for anyone interested in the visualization of complex networks. The project’s main goal is to leverage a critical understanding of different visualization methods, across a series of disciplines, as diverse as Biology, Social Networks or the World Wide Web. I truly hope this space can inspire, motivate and enlighten any person doing research on this field.

Not all projects shown here are genuine complex networks, in the sense that they aren’t necessarily at the edge of chaos, or show an irregular and systematic degree of connectivity. However, the projects that apparently skip this class were chosen for two important reasons. They either provide advancement in terms of visual depiction techniques/methods or show conceptual uniqueness and originality in the choice of a subject. Nevertheless, all projects have one trait in common: the whole is always more than the sum of its parts.” (thanks, abby)

R.I.P. Jimmy Giuffre

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Adventurous clarinetist, composer and arranger dead at 86. His “50-year journey through jazz led him from writing the Woody Herman anthem “Four Brothers” through minimalist, drummerless trios to striking experimental orchestral works…

Among the half-dozen instruments he played, from bass flute to soprano saxophone, it was the clarinet that gave him a signature sound; it was a dark, velvety tone, centering in the lower register, pure but rarely forceful. But among the iconoclastic heroes of the late ’50s in jazz, he was a serene oddity, changing his ideas as fast as he could record them.” (New York Times)