R.I.P. Jerry Mander


 Adman for Radical Causes Dies at 86

Mander jqwz superJumbo jpg

‘Jerry Mander, whose iconoclastic thinking led him to create advertising campaigns for nonprofits like one for the Sierra Club in 1966 to fight a plan to build two dams in the Grand Canyon and an organization to raise awareness about the dangers of economic globalization, died on April 11 at his home in Honokaa, Hawaii. He was 86.

…In 1966, Mr. Mander was working at Freeman & Gossage, an advertising agency in San Francisco, when David Brower, the executive director of the Sierra Club, asked for help in framing the conservation group’s opposition to the federal government’s construction of hydroelectric dams on the Colorado River.

…“He was a countercultural type who wanted to reset the frame of how people looked at modern life,” Jono Polansky, who was the creative director of the Public Media Center, said in a telephone interview. In the full page print ads that were Mr. Mander’s specialty, Mr. Polansky added, “He could break a problem down and say, ‘How do you tell a story to people and give them a place to do something about it?’”

…His work increasingly reflected his suspicions about the societal effects of technology, advertising and television. Those concerns led him to write “Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television” (1978), which contended, among other things, that the medium isolates viewers, dulls their minds and lays the groundwork for an autocracy….’ (The New York Times)

Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television was, at the time it came out, heavily shaped my social thinking, and its importance has if anything been enhanced in the intervening decades.

Astronomers Solve the 60-Year Mystery of Quasars

Most Powerful Objects in the Universe:

Quasar in space NASACXCSAO cc flickr Mentes Astronomicas

‘Scientists have unlocked one of the biggest mysteries of quasars – the brightest, most powerful objects in the Universe – by discovering that they are ignited by galaxies colliding.

First discovered 60 years ago, quasars can shine as brightly as a trillion stars packed into a volume the size of our Solar System. In the decades since they were first observed, it has remained a mystery what could trigger such powerful activity. New work led by scientists at the Universities of Sheffield and Hertfordshire has now revealed that it is a consequence of galaxies crashing together.

The collisions were discovered when researchers, using deep imaging observations from the Isaac Newton Telescope in La Palma, observed the presence of distorted structures in the outer regions of the galaxies that are home to quasars….’

— via GoodNewsNetwork

How Finland Virtually Ended Homelessness—and We Can Too

An homeless lady begs for money in finland

‘It turns out that, given a place to live, Finland’s homeless were better able to deal with addictions and other problems, not to mention handling job applications. So, more than a decade after the launch of the “Housing First” policy, 80 per cent of Finland’s homeless are doing well, still living in the housing they’d been provided with — but now paying the rent on their own.

This not only helps the homeless, it turns out to be cheaper….’

— via Common Dreams

“Expect decisions soon”: Experts say Pence’s “sharply incriminating” testimony is bad news for trump

Donald trump mike pence 1190282558 jpg

One can only hope…

‘Pence “just testified in the grand jury about the crimes of his former boss,” he tweeted. “Take it from this old prosecutor-Pence’s testimony is sharply incriminating of trump & moves the needle further in the direction of a trump indictment.”

Former federal prosecutor Andrew Weissmann, who served on special counsel Bob Mueller’s team, said that there was “very little reason to dawdle” by prosecutors after Pence’s testimony.

“Expect decisions soon from Jack Smith,” he wrote….’

— via Salon.com

Happy Beltane!

D5d3f951 31e6 4da2 a153 45c11151446e6b5ce1db60152963aa GettyImages 80938539 crop

‘AS REIMAGINED ANCIENT TRADITIONS GO, Beltane is one of the flashier ones. Modern events such as Edinburgh’s iconic Beltane Fire Festival and smaller bonfire gatherings, particularly in Ireland and Scotland, light it up around April 30 and May 1 each year in what many consider a symbolic cleansing and celebration of renewal. Even before the bonfires get blazing, modern Beltane—often rolled in with more general May Day festivities—is a visual feast featuring colorful flowers, dancing, May Queens, Green Men, and other revelry.

The ancient roots of Beltane are more mundane: It had a lot to do with cows, and it wasn’t on May 1. It did, however, mark the most important transition of the year.

…Along with the solstices and equinoxes, the four quarter days, also known as cross-quarter days, are the most prominent dates in the Celtic calendar. Each quarter day occurs halfway between a solstice and an equinox. The cross-quarter day most familiar to us comes between the fall equinox and winter solstice: Samhuinn, also known as Samhain, or, of course, Halloween, which heralded the arrival of the dark, lean season of winter. The cross-quarter day of Imbolc, halfway between the winter solstice and the vernal equinox, marked the start of lambing season. It was also a time when early agrarians were anxiously waiting for signs of spring, and is a precursor to the modern Groundhog Day.

There’s also Lughnasadh, or Lúnasa, the cross-quarter day marking the beginning of harvest time, halfway between the summer solstice and autumn equinox. (Alas, Lughnasadh has not inspired any traditions of prophetic rodents or dressing up to demand treats and threaten tricks, and remains relatively obscure today.)

For the early inhabitants of the British Isles, the most important cross-quarter day of the ancient agrarian calendar wasn’t Imbolc, Lughnasadh, or Samhuinn. It was Beltane (other spellings include Beltaine and Bealltainn), which marked the start of summer. It was celebrated midway between the spring equinox and summer solstice which, astronomically speaking, varies each year but falls around May 5 or 6….’

— via Atlas Obscura

Scientists Taught Pet Parrots to Video Call Each Other—and the Birds Loved It

041023 mm jennifer cunha 012‘… they found that the parrots took advantage of the opportunity to call one another, and they typically stayed on the call for the maximum time allowed during the experiment. They also seemed to understand that another live bird was on the other side of the screen, not a recorded bird, researchers say. Some of the parrots learned new skills from their virtual companions, including flying, foraging and how to make new sounds.


“I was quite surprised at the range of different behaviors,” co-author Ilyena Hirskyj-Douglas, an animal-computer interaction researcher at the University of Glasgow, tells the Guardian’s Hannah Devlin. “Some would sing, some would play around and go upside down, others would want to show another bird their toys.” Two weak, older macaws, for example, became very close and even called out to one another “Hi! Come here! Hello!” from their respective screens.


The birds forged strong friendships, which researchers measured by how frequently they chose to call the same individual. Parrots who initiated the highest number of video calls also received the most calls, which suggests a “reciprocal dynamic similar to human socialization,” per the statement.


The experiment also brought parrots and humans closer together—on both sides of the screen. Some birds were even reported to have developed attachments to the human caretakers of their virtual friends….’

— Sarah Kuta via Smithsonian Magazine

Workers must wear genital-matching clothes or face termination, says Texas AG commissioner

Annals of the New Fascism (cont’d.):

‘The Texas Department of Agriculture announced two new dress codes for its employees — one for those born with a penis and the other for those born with a vagina.


The “Dress code and grooming policy,” according to the bizarre memorandum sent out Friday by the department’s genital-obsessed commissioner Sid Miller, states that “Employees are expected to comply with this dress code in a manner consistent with their biological gender.”


So, for instance, if a penis owner puts on something, say, even a necklace, that the DoA style police deem “feminine,” they will be “subject to corrective action” and “asked to leave the premises to change their clothing.” Same goes for vagina owners, who, theoretically, could be banished from the premises if caught wearing a pair of pants that the anti-freedoms commission deem “masculine.” …’

— via Boing Boing


This morning as I walked along the lakeshore,

I fell in love with a wren

and later in the day with a mouse

the cat had dropped under the dining room table.

In the shadows of an autumn evening,

I fell for a seamstress

still at her machine in the tailor’s window,

and later for a bowl of broth,

steam rising like smoke from a naval battle.

This is the best kind of love, I thought,

without recompense, without gifts,

or unkind words, without suspicion,

or silence on the telephone.

The love of the chestnut,

the jazz cap and one hand on the wheel.

No lust, no slam of the door –

the love of the miniature orange tree,

the clean white shirt, the hot evening shower,

the highway that cuts across Florida.

No waiting, no huffiness, or rancor –

just a twinge every now and then

for the wren who had built her nest

on a low branch overhanging the water

and for the dead mouse,

still dressed in its light brown suit.

But my heart is always propped up

in a field on its tripod,

ready for the next arrow.

After I carried the mouse by the tail

to a pile of leaves in the woods,

I found myself standing at the bathroom sink

gazing down affectionately at the soap,

so patient and soluble,

so at home in its pale green soap dish.

I could feel myself falling again

as I felt its turning in my wet hands

and caught the scent of lavender and stone

Billy Collins

ChatGPT is taking ghostwriters’ jobs in Kenya

GettyImages 1165887430 1600x900

‘In January 2023, online learning platform Study surveyed more than 1,000 American students and over 100 educators. More than 89% of the students said they had used ChatGPT for help with a homework assignment. Nearly half admitted to using ChatGPT for an at-home test or quiz, 53% had used it to write an essay, and 22% had used it for outlining one….’

— via Rest of World

Why Don’t You Take This to a Friend?

Psychotherapists Jacqueline Olds and Richard Schwartz, writing in Harvard Review of Psychiatry, argue in a way for aspects of making our profession obsolete.

There has been a demonstrable decline in the average number of confidants that most people have.  Psychotherapy has contributed to the fraying of the social fabric by implying that confidences are best saved for the ears of therapists rather than shared with close friends.  Many Americans are lonely “frequently” or “almost all the time”, as one recent study suggests, and many have heard from friends something along the lines of “This is too much for me to handle; maybe you should see a therapist.”

Overall, community has deteriorated drastically in our culture for complex reasons, including a deep distaste for depending on others and an overvaluing of independence.  This discourages reliance on friends.  Turning increasingly toward the mental health system medicalizes their problems and implies the promise of a quick solution through medication.  This emphasis on self-sufficiency imputes an almost magical knowledge and ability to therapists and hollows out the meaning of many friendships.

The skill of close friendship is disappearing and therapists must realize and remind their patients that therapy is not the perfect blueprint for everything friendship should be. It is a one-way relationship which excludes the joy of reciprocal empathy and understanding found in a true friendship. People are forgetting how to do their part to sustain friendships and therapists inadvertently make the problem worse through their skill at sustaining a relationship with very little help from the other person, creating a very unfortunate and inaccurate model of a good relationship.

Rekindling the joy of having someone one can talk to from their heart must not be forgotten as a core focus of therapy.  Therapists need to remind themselves and their patients that an important goal of therapy is, in a sense, to make itself obsolete, to make it possible for the patient to experience the same satisfaction, the same experience of being thoroughly known by another, outside of the therapy relationship.

It is important to take note of psychologist Sidney Jourard‘s 1964 observation in The Transparent Self of the necessity to have at least one person in your life with whom you “could truly be yourself”.  Relying on therapy alone will devitalize all the other relationships in the patient’s life, depriving them of degrees of connection and closeness. Enhancement of the patient’s interpersonal connectedness and quality of social supports should remain a core focus of psychotherapy.  Measures that assesses social consequences of psychological treatment should be a standard part of psychotherapy outcome studies.  Further attention should be paid to which specific psychotherapeutic approaches have the most salient effects on social connection.  The discipline called interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) stands out for an exclusive focus the interpersonal context and treatment strategies for improving close relationships.

Improvement of social adjustment is taken into account to different extents in different treatments for different health problems.  For certain conditions (depression and other mood disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, etc.) all treatments including biological ones improve social adjustment.  In other conditions like schizophrenia, deliberately targeting improvement in social connections is required.  The importance of social network’s for maintaining sobriety shapes service delivery in alcohol and substance use disorders.

In the meanwhile, while awaiting the empirical research, some simple measures in all therapy relationships are likely to contribute to an improvement in patients’ engagement with others outside of the therapy.  Therapists have to pay attention to the quality of patients’ other relationships even if that is not the primary focus of their treatment. They should be explicit with their patients about the danger of refraining from important conversations in relationships with others.  They should point out that much of the relief, comfort, and perspective offered in the professional relationship can often, as easily and effectively from a friend.  With certain questions and worries, therapists should probably actually suggest, “Why don’t you take this to a friend?”



5 Differences Between Talking to a Friend vs a Therapist (avalonmalibu)

Your Friendship Will Always Be The Best Kind Of Therapy (thoughtcatalog)

How Is Talk Therapy Different From Talking to a Friend? (verywellmind)

R.I.P. Ahmad Jamal


Ahamd jamal obituary album cover crop

Renowned Jazz Pianist was 92

‘Jamal was heralded for his spacious approach to playing piano and in 1994 was named a Jazz Master by the National Endowment For The Arts (NEA). He discussed his standout style during a 2007 interview with Molly Murphy for the NEA, stating:

“Well they call it space. They call it space. I call it discipline. It’s part of my discipline. And I acquired this discipline because of working so many configurations. I’ve played with every configuration known and unknown to man. I’ve played with just saxophone and piano, when I was growing up, no drums. Big orchestras, big bands, I grew up in big bands. I’ve played for singers, accompanying singers…”

Jamal continued to record and perform throughout his career. His final album was 2019’s Ballades, which was recorded during sessions for his 2016 album, Marseille….’

— via JamBase


Rogues of the Rainforest


‘Tropical vines are wandering, as they always have, but recent environmental changes are giving them an edge over other rainforest plants—a shift that could have enduring impacts on climates around the globe…’

–via bioGraphic

In short, woody vines evolved from trees, exploiting the advantage of not having to support their own weight by using adjacent trees to support them. Under the thrust of climate change, they are increasingly supplanting trees because they are more efficient at transporting water and finding sunlight . The worrisome thing is that they are less efficient at carbon fixation, so in a vicious circle their growth will accelerate climate change in measurable ways.

Kill the apostrophe!

McDs 550James Harbeck argues the English language would be better off without them:

  • Most of them dont add anything useful.
  • George Bernard Shaw did it and so can you.
  • Many apostrophes are really only there for condescension (I found this his most interesting argument)
  • Even when an apostrophe can add something sueful, we usually get by without it.
  • They add confusion.
  • Eliminating them would free them up for use as single quotes.
  • It will make the rules better.

— via The Week

I rarely use apostrophes when Im typing text messages, but thats mostly because the spell checker usually adds them. And, when it doesnt, its no loss. Except to my snobbery about ‘writing right.’

(Now, on the other hand, dont get me started about the Oxford comma.)



A group of House progressives are urging the Justice Department to drop charges and an extradition request against Julian Assange.

4392 jpg

‘Seven House progressives on Tuesday sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland asking for him to drop criminal charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, as well as a Trump-era effort to extradite him.

“Every day that the prosecution of Julian Assange continues is another day that our own government needlessly undermines our own moral authority abroad and rolls back the freedom of the press under the First Amendment at home. We urge you to immediately drop these Trump-era charges against Mr. Assange and halt this dangerous prosecution,” the seven House Democrats wrote to Garland.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) tweeted out a copy of the letter, noting that Tuesday is four years since Assange was arrested in London….’

— via Politico.

Related: Dozens of Australian politicians urge US to abandon Julian Assange extradition

‘In open letter, 48 MPs and senators warn ‘closest strategic ally’ that pursuit of WikiLeaks founder ‘set a dangerous precedent’…’

— via The Guardian

You Are Not Alone:

What Science Can Tell Us About the Experience of Unexplainable Presence

Unexplainable presence neurosciencce public jpg‘Researchers explain the neuroscience behind why we sometimes feel the presence of another when we are alone in an empty room…

Despite its century-old origins, the science of felt presence has really only just begun. In the end, scientific research may give us one over-arching explanation, or we may need several theories to account for all these examples of presence. But the encounters people described in Phantasms of the Living aren’t phantoms of a bygone age. If you’re yet to have this unsettling experience, you probably know someone who has..’

— via Neuroscience News


Related? Third Man Syndrome: The weird phenomenon extreme mountain climbers experience

A424b33da49faeeef20dfac400a3d833a39e9e04‘I’ll come clean: I’m a complete cynic. I don’t believe in the paranormal, apparitions, or any of that side of things. But even I struggle to explain away the phenomenon that so many mountain climbers have experienced — notably Frank Smythe, who was tantalizingly close to being the first person to climb Mount Everest, and Joe Simpson, the man who wrote Touching the Void. So is Third Man Syndrome some sort of guardian angel, or perhaps a shared hallucination brought about by stress?…’

— Tom Kilpatrick via The Manual

Without a Body, ChatGPT AI Will Never Understand What It’s Saying

2785788177a688a1d67426a89a33ad39 jpg

‘It takes a body to understand the world, and words have meaning because people use them to make sense of the world, write ASU and USCD psychology researchers.

When we asked GPT-3, an extremely powerful and popular artificial intelligence language system, whether you’d be more likely to use a paper map or a stone to fan life into coals for a barbecue, it preferred the stone.

To smooth your wrinkled skirt, would you grab a warm thermos or a hairpin? GPT-3 suggested the hairpin.

And if you need to cover your hair for work in a fast-food restaurant, which would work better, a paper sandwich wrapper or a hamburger bun? GPT-3 went for the bun.

Why does GPT-3 make those choices when most people choose the alternative? Because GPT-3 does not understand language the way humans do….’

— via Gizmodo

Our small acts of kindness matter


‘Text a friend, write a thank-you note, compliment a stranger — people appreciate these gestures….’

— via Vox

People often underestimate how much others appreciate simple acts of kindness. We have a so-called “liking gap,” consistently misjudging how much our conversation partners enjoy our company. Such negative self-perceptions often cause us to avoid socially risky behaviors, such as making small talk with strangers. However, research suggests that being kind to others can significantly improve our well-being. Simple acts of kindness should be performed without worrying about how they will be perceived and without expecting anything in return.

‘There’s a Villa in France for the Person Who Can Sue on Remdesivir’


‘The worst of the pandemic’s death toll might be behind us, but the battlelines have moved from the emergency room to the courtroom. Much like the post-9/11 lawsuits filed against the government by sickened first responders, cases challenging mask and testing mandates, vaccine requirements, quarantine measures, and medical malpractice make up a growing — and lucrative — area of U.S. civil law….’


Computer-generated videos of 10 largest tsunamis

CleanShot 2023 04 09 at 00 55 24

‘This 3-D computer-generated video created by Red Side in 2017 compares the size of the ten most significant tsunamis. The video begins in a generic cove of a bay in a coastal city surrounded by highrises. A small boat dingy with one person and a wave small 1m wave serves as the initial reference for the incrementing waves cued by size rather than the date of destruction. Next, a wave 5m in height, then the largest wave surfed at the time (2017) of 24m – indeed surpassed by the Gigantes de Nazare. Then, an image of the 30m Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004. In succession, paleoseismology methodologies date the ten largest tsunamis in geologically known history.

The earliest tsunami in the video is the Unzen mega tsunami of 1792 in Japan at 100m. The largest mega tempest tsunami depicted devastated Lituya Bay, Alaska, in 1946 with a 520m swell.

The Eiffel Tower and the Burj Khalifa Tower standing at 828m in Dubai, are used for reference to demonstrate the magnitude of these oceanic phenomena….’

— via Boing Boing

New Images From Inside Fukushima Nuclear Plant Are Causing Big Worries

Fukushima m

‘Robotic probes have dived into the watery ruins of the Fukushima nuclear power plant and revealed that vital supporting structures appear to be damaged. While the discovery is not an immediate concern, it’s feared it could become a major issue if another earthquake rocks the area….

The concern is that three of the reactors contain an estimated total of 880 tons of highly radioactive melted fuel debris. According to The Asahi Shimbun, TEPCO managed to obtain the first visual confirmation of the melted nuclear fuel in the Unit 1 reactor for the first time just last week.

The clean-up operation is still challenged with removing the fuel debris. If these support structures break, then it threatens to cause further headaches for TEPCO…’

— via IFLScience

CoCoRaHS – Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network

CoCoRaHS (pronounced KO-ko-rozz) is a grassroots volunteer network of backyard weather observers of all ages and backgrounds working together to measure and map precipitation (rain, hail and snow) in their local communities. By using low-cost measurement tools, stressing training and education, and utilizing an interactive Web-site, our aim is to provide the highest quality data for natural resource, education and research applications. The only requirements to join are an enthusiasm for watching and reporting weather conditions and a desire to learn more about how weather can affect and impact our lives.Our Web page provides the ability for our observers to see their observations mapped out in “real time”, as well as providing a wealth of information for our data users.

For more information, please click here: Information about CoCoRaHS.

If you would like to sign-up as a volunteer observer and become part of our expanding network, please click here: “Join the CoCoRaHS Network“.

— via CoCoRaHS – Community Collaborative Rain, Hail & Snow Network

A Deadly Cousin of Ebola Has Flared Up in Africa

transmission electron microscopic  image of an undisclosed tissue sample of Marburg virus particles‘The World Health Organization is gearing up to test vaccines against the Marburg virus—but the world is still not prepared to contain new viral outbreaks.


…Marburg shares plenty of characteristics with Ebola—the viruses are part of the same family. Like Ebola, it causes viral hemorrhagic fever, resulting in dangerous internal bleeding and organ damage. In some outbreaks, up to 90 percent of cases have been fatal; at the time of writing, five of the people in Tanzania’s eight confirmed cases have died. Symptoms take anywhere from a few days to three weeks to develop, and the virus can spread through human contact, particularly via body fluids of an infected person or corpse. Fruit-eating bats of the Rousettus family are the virus’s suspected host.


So similar are the symptoms that “in this village, most people believe it’s Ebola,” says Abela Kakuru, a resident of Ibaraizibu, which is a 10-minute drive from Bukoba’s affected villages. But there’s one big difference: Unlike with Ebola, no vaccines or antivirals have been approved for Marburg…’

–via WIRED

Daddy’s little helper: trump junior’s attempt at legal strategy is to target judge’s daughter

Oh, the sweet scent of desperation in the air. donald trump junior, paragon of moral fortitude, decided to take justice into his own hands on Truth Social by posting a photo of the daughter of the judge presiding over his father’s porn star hush money trial.As Junior learned from Daddy, the best way to win a case is through intimidation and badgering the family members of those in charge.Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez chimed in with a tweet that summed it up perfectly: “Because nothing says ‘innocent’ like threatening a judge’s family.”

— via Boing Boing

Or as a commenter said, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the orange tree…”

Blue-ringed octopus, one of the most toxic animals on Earth, bites woman multiple times

Shutterstock 1670942191 scaled jpg

‘Blue-ringed octopuses are a group comprising four species: the greater blue-ringed octopus (Hapalochlaena lunulata), the southern blue-ringed octopus (Hapalochlaena maculosa), the blue-lined octopus (Hapalochlaena fasciata) and the common blue-ringed octopus (Hapalochlaena nierstraszi). These octopuses are small enough to fit in the palm of your hand and are covered in tiny rings that flash with an iridescent blue when the animals are threatened. Blue-ringed octopuses also contain tetrodotoxin, a powerful neurotoxin that can paralyze and kill humans even in small doses.

On March 16, the woman was bitten twice on her abdomen by an unknown species of blue-ringed octopus at a beach near Sydney in New South Wales (NSW), Australia. She had collected a small shell while swimming, and when she picked it up to look at it, the tiny cephalopod fell out and landed on her stomach, the NSW Ambulance service wrote on Facebook.

The woman experienced some abdominal pain and was treated with cold compresses before being taken to the hospital to be monitored for more symptoms, according to NSW Ambulance. It is unclear why the woman escaped relatively unharmed….’

— via Live Science

These are the world’s deepest fish ever filmed and caught (video)

CleanShot 2023 04 03 at 22 40 47

‘Researchers have captured on film and caught the world’s deepest fish—species of snailfish. A research ship from the Minderoo-University of Western Australia Deep Sea Research Centre found the animals swimming at depths of eight kilometers (approx 5 miles) down in the undersea trenches around Japan. The film, below, shows an unknown species of snailfish….’

— via Boing Boing

Portland Troll Bridge

CleanShot 2023 04 01 at 21 36 56

‘QUITE WHY TROLLS BEGAN TO appear under a bridge in Portland is an open question. Perhaps it was a forced migration, or a simple search for a better life? Or maybe the local human population is just trying its hardest to keep Portland weird……’

— via Atlas Obscura