26 December 2011

'Tis the Season

Wisdom of the West is celebrating its fourth anniversary!

My little hobby started out great guns with this mission statement: 
"For the past few years I have been writing a book with the title of this blog. Its subjects include such things as first principles, faith vs. reason, life on earth, meaning, communication, love, work, diversity, controversy, knowledge, time, change, power, law, freedom, technology, history, property, economics and markets, the environment, war and peace, religion, and government. I will post my thoughts on these and many other topics in the hope of engaging you, the readers here, in a dialogue about what wisdom our Western civilization is contributing to the great project of humankind here on planet Earth."
And I've been poking away at pretty much that very thing—being all over the place—for four years now. My first year, with all the enthusiasm of the nube/rube, I managed well over 200 posts. Since then I've fallen into a rhythm averaging about half that, like 2+ posts per week. Some weeks I might post 5 times and others none. I've put up some 555 posts in that time

My earliest posts were mostly text + pics (gleaned from the 'net). In recent months, I've taken to posting music videos and compiling linkage. That is to say, there has been less original writing and more entertainment and aggregation—though I do try to make my vids and links topically meaningful. And lately I've taken to posting pictures I've taken: pseudo-photo essays, if you will. One reason for this change is I've been more active writing fiction and trying to get my stories and novel published—however unsuccessfully—and I've been running more (more about that in a subsequent post). And that's okay from my point of view, but it may detract from your experience. For that, I appreciate your continued readership.

Some highlights from over the years (I can't believe I can actually say that) include: my 16-part serial post about my abject chickenshit failure to skydive entitled Thyraphobia, or Purity of Heart is to Fear One Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Not Do Again and my Ur-Story series, being a substantive analysis of a number of literary works from my own perspective as a writer. If you're interested, all my serial posts can be found under the heading "Pages" on the right side. Specific titles are itemized within the "Jim's Book Club" label. I've even posted the first five chapters of my novel "EULOGY", labeled as such. As always, you should read from the bottom. [FYI: Comments on any earlier posts (including critiques of my writing) still arrive in my designated email account, so don't be shy. I shall respond, but you'll have to check back.]

I have no plans, at present, to discontinue this little blog o' mine. Though changes may be in the offing. That being said, I do not intend to change the Rembrandt background: "Aristotle with a Bust of Homer." The artist portraying the philosopher contemplating the epic poet: there's something evocative about that for me.

And I hope to keep contact with all those of you who pop in from time to time to read and comment. Making cyberbuddies has been one of the unexpected pleasures of this little pasttime. Thanks.

Finally, in case you missed it the first time, I wanted to re-post this amazing video from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. Ostensibly, it is Movements 7 and 8 of Olivier Messiaen's Quartet for the End of Time. But it is more. I urge you to watch it to the end of Part 2—and, no, this has nothing to do with the closing of the Mayan cyclical calendar later this year. It's one of the best things I've found in the vast vastness of the information super-highway. It is a thing of sheer beauty. Enjoy:

24 December 2011

Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me

Going to the gro to pick up some chicken for dinner, and what did I spy?

How seasonal!

Then lo, a miracle appears:

That can't be a real lane, can it?

Who'd believe it? In the same neighborhood, no less. Wait, wait: what if they cross? How cool would that be? No, surely they don't.

Wait for it...

Atlanta, man. From my blog to you(rs)!

22 December 2011


I've been away without blogging for a week now. Visiting family in NC. Giftmas. Great weather, food, & family there. Horrible driving today—blinding rain. But we're all home and safe. I've been pretty much without access to the so-called "Information Superhighway," (other than on my portable, hand-held cellular device) so if I haven't commented at your place, it's not you, it's me.

A couple of things: Václav Havel, former DFH & president of Czechoslovakia, died this week. He was not only a politician but a playwright. He led a democratic movement to liberate the Czech people from the USSR and got thrown in the slammer for same. And, in keeping with the Zappadan theme of the last few posts, he was a lifelong fan of Frank Zappa. One of his first official acts as president was to invite Zappa to Czechoslovakia. Liberation, courage, democracy, thoughtful, (counter-) cultural literacy, Zappa, writing: don't know that much about him, but he sounds like my kind of guy.

Oh yeah, "dear" leader Kim Jong-Il died, too. Managed to catch the faux mourners, paid keeners, whore wailers, on the News. Twerp.

Take heart, all: from here on until June, here in the Northern Hemisphere, the days get longer and the nights shorter. Happy Solstice!

Again, sorry I missed the last days of Zappadan here. So, shut up 'n' play yr guitar—this is the indulgent, enduring, musical stuff that I just keep coming back to again and again:

[h/t to TheZappaDiscography over at the YouTubes. When I first starting posting during Zappadan a few years back, most of Z's stuff was unavailable on the internets.]

14 December 2011

Who Will Save Our Souls?

This is a momentous day:  
'President Barack Obama marked the end of the U.S. war in Iraq with a salute to American troops at a military base central to the fight and a pledge to support veterans who are returning home to face a difficult economy.
'As your commander in chief, and on behalf of a grateful nation, I'm proud to finally say these two words,' Obama told soldiers at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, home of the 82nd Airborne Division and the Army Special Operations Command. 'Welcome home.'

A promise to end the conflict in Iraq was a central element of Obama's campaign for the presidency in 2008. When he took office in January 2009, there were almost 150,000 troops in Iraq. That number has shrunk to less than 8,000 and the number of U.S. military bases in the country has fallen to five from 505. When the pullout is complete, the U.S. presence will be at the embassy in Baghdad, with an array of diplomats, military advisers and contractors.
'There is something profound about the end of a war that has lasted so long,' Obama told troops."
Indeed there is. Former President George W. Bush, using a duplicitous and fraudulent Congressional authorization, invaded Iraq under false premises in March 2003. The bases for that authorization—that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction and maintained active links to al Qaeda making it a direct and imminent threat to the U.S.—were utterly false.

Declaring a doctine of pre-emption, Bush claimed the right for the U.S. to invade any country anytime U.S. leaders perceive an imminent threat to U.S. national security. Many, even some in the military, believe this doctrine and the actions justified by it are in violation not only of "just war" theory but also international law. In other words, the war itself is a war crime.

As a result of the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld criminal push for war, 4,483 U.S. troops died in Iraq, 3,531 in combat.  As well, official sources note 33,183 U.S. service -men and -women were wounded in Iraq. That number is disputed, and some believe it may be three times that many.

The number of Iraqi civilian dead cannot be reliably estimated, but, based on a study that appeared in the British medical journal Lancet, some have estimated the Iraq body count to be over one millionOfficial tallies fall way short of this number but are nonetheless substantial.

This is why President Obama's announcement today marking the official end of the war in Iraq is so momentous. It puts an official stop to this criminal war. It puts an official stop to the 'justified' wholesale killing of civilians.

But the costs of this war go beyond body counts. The direct economic costs of the war in Iraq, by most accounts, are well over $1 trillion. This does not include the costs of extra spending to care for veterans from combat through 2050, which may itself total over $1 trillion. Nor does it account for interest to be paid on funds borrowed to fund the war.

In 2008, Nobel laureate Joseph E. Stiglitz estimated the costs of the Iraq war at $3 trillion. He has since determined that estimate to be too low.  As WoW pointed out at the time, that estimate did not include opportunity costs or what he calls "what if" costs:
"two years on, it has become clear to us that our estimate did not capture what may have been the conflict's most sobering expenses: those in the category of "might have beens," or what economists call opportunity costs. For instance, many have wondered aloud whether, absent the Iraq invasion, we would still be stuck in Afghanistan. And this is not the only "what if" worth contemplating. We might also ask: If not for the war in Iraq, would oil prices have risen so rapidly? Would the federal debt be so high? Would the economic crisis have been so severe?
The answer to all four of these questions is probably no. The central lesson of economics is that resources -- including both money and attention -- are scarce. What was devoted to one theater, Iraq, was not available elsewhere."
WoW's point was that if those funds squandered in destructive warfare had been put to creative use—investing, say, in green energy sources, shoring up Social Security, developing universal health care, seeding new, productive industries here and even abroad, reducing poverty worldwide, etc.—the potential return on those investments would have made a hugely positive contribution to the standard of living world-wide. Stiglitz, of course, notes that the financial crisis we are currently experiencing is almost certainly attributable to this war.

And this gets to the final component of the costs of this war: the price of our souls. Primarily, the companies that profited from this war are those engaged in arms and weapons manufactury, those providing contractual paramilitary services, and those involved in oilfield services industry. These are the destructive angels of our nature—the killing business, the resource exploitation business. Then, of course, there's their bankers and financiers—the speculators and parasites. The Iraq war has made these folks the Masters of the Universe—or at least elevated their mastery to a whole new level.

We may be able to pay back the economic costs of this war, but it will take time and sacrifice. We might even be able to reclaim our collective souls from the destructive forces that currently have us in their clutches. Occupy, I'd say, is a good start. We can never, however, recover the lives lost, U.S. or Iraqi.

The costs in human lives, the economic and financial costs, and the costs to our soul as a civilization: let us hope that the end to this war can reverse this self-destructive trend and put us on the road to a more creative, healthy, and productive future.

Thank you, President Obama, for putting an end to this atrocity. Frankly, it's about time. I know it has taken a great deal of time and energy on your part. I know you have had to battle the entrenched, corrupt forces of militarism and bureaucratic inertia and war-profiteering to get to this point. But it was the right thing to do. The project now is to figure out how to pay for this disaster without sending the entire world into a further economic tailspin and, simultaneously, recover our wounded souls—the better angels of our nature.

From Uncle Meat:

Now shut up 'n play ur guitar:

08 December 2011

Sun, Sun, Sun: Here It Comes

I've been tracking this for years here @ WoW: the cost of photovoltaic solar energy is nearly on par with that of mainstream utilities. Here's why. First, the price of solar panels has plummeted.
"Since 2009, the cost has dropped 70 percent," says Pearce. But more than that, the assumptions used in previous studies have not given solar an even break.
"Historically, when comparing the economics of solar and conventional energy, people have been very conservative," says Pearce. To figure out the true cost of photovoltaic energy, analysts need to consider several variables, including the cost to install and maintain the system, finance charges, how long it lasts, and how much electricity it generates.
Pearce and his colleagues performed an exhaustive review of the previous studies and concluded that the values given those variables were out of whack. For example, most analyses assume that the productivity of solar panels will drop at an annual rate of 1 percent or more, a huge overestimation, according to Pearce.
"If you buy a top-of-the-line solar panel, it's much less, between 0.1 and 0.2 percent." In addition, "The price of solar equipment has been dropping, so you'd think that the older papers would have higher cost estimates," Pearce says. "That's not necessarily the case."
Stated another way, we're not talking about any abstract "price discovery" here, even though a truly free market economics would demand it:
The price of solar energy-generated electricity, calculated by a legitimate levelized cost of energy (LCOE) method, is now competitive in many regions with the price of electricity generated by conventional sources.
To be clear, this review of solar photovoltaic LCOE is not one of those “if coal and nuclear paid for the real harm they do” analyses. It is a hard look at the actual numbers.
And what's more, apparently the financial data are bearing this out:
Renewable energy is surpassing fossil fuels for the first time in new power-plant investments, shaking off setbacks from the financial crisis….
Electricity from the wind, sun, waves and biomass drew $187 billion last year compared with $157 billion for natural gas, oil and coal, according to calculations by Bloomberg New Energy Finance using the latest data. Accelerating installations of solar- and wind-power plants led to lower equipment prices, making clean energy more competitive with coal.
This from those DFHs over at the Bloomberg.

This is important. Lower priced energy correlates with higher productivity and, often, a higher standard of living—especially if the energy is not monopolized and Corporate is not skimming the profits created by increasingly higher productivity the way they have been over the last twenty years (h/t Occupy!). Think, for example, of cheap, portable desalination of water. Such a technology could stave off at least one future resource war, not to mention save the lives of peoples everywhere. And solar is not the only natural, renewable, abundant source of energy.

Though I do my level best to avoid them, metaphors abound. (h/t blogbud BDR, from whom I'm always stealing turns of phrase.)

Big Picture: Occupy! is not just about the U.S. middle class.

Big (down-the-road) Problem: How do we handle the additional heat thrown off by all this increased energy without cooking the planet?


οἱ οἱ οἱ

Time magazine has named Occupy Wall Street the story of the year. Yep. So what's happening? The DC occupistas are showing serious strategic savvy: they're taking it to K Street, lobbying central, the funnel through which Corporate money purchases its (non-)governance. It is the crucial supply line. And, in grand '60s-style street theater, they've occupied the U.S. Chamber of Commerce holiday party by rolling out the red carpet for the lobbyists' and their Corporate masters' arrivals. Check it:

Brilliant. Who says this generation is lacking in imagination?

On yet another front, occupistas are attempting to occupy unoccupied foreclosed-upon houses. Keep up with them here.

For οἱ πολλοί:

God bless us, every one.

06 December 2011

'Tis the Season

Once again, DFH's from the '60s and '70s have launched their yearly War on Christmas by interposing their ludicrously invented celebration of so-called Zappadan in honor of the 12/4 anniversary of the death of Frank Zappa. It runs until the 12/21 anniversary of his death. Each year, WoW runs some clips of the sorts of things these degenerates have chosen to venerate and, in so doing, detract from the annual feast of the birth of our Loud and Savior—more specifically, from its Advent-itious anticipation. This year promises to be no different. Thus:

Now fall down and worship, bitchez:

01 December 2011

A Slumgullion of Linkage

Wisdom of the West's Man of the Year, Julian Assange, has, despite his legal troubles,* done it again. Wikileaks has published a devastating set of files documenting the use of surveillance technologies by governments world-wide: "Mass interception of entire populations is not only a reality, it is a secret new industry spanning 25 countries. It sounds like something out of Hollywood, but as of today, mass interception systems, built by Western intelligence contractors, including for ’political opponents’ are a reality. Today WikiLeaks began releasing a database of hundreds of documents from as many as 160 intelligence contractors in the mass surveillance industry..." It may not be that anyone is actively monitoring what you do at any given moment, but if someone with access and reason wanted to find out say, at some point in time, where you were and what you were doing at any given moment, they might be able to discover it via your smartphone or PC or GPS.

[* Agreed. Sexual assault is sexual assault. If Assange is guilty of same, he must answer for it. Same with Herman Cain^—who, as an establishment Republican, will never be treated as shoddily as Assange, despite the very real evidence of his behavior. What evidence? you might ask: Cain's employer, the National Restaurant Association, a U.S. lobbying firm for mostly fast-food, unhealthy joints had to pay settlements to not one but two female employees totaling some $80,000, who claimed Cain sexually assaulted them when he was the head of that company. Gag orders were imposed as the price of these agreements. That being said, Assange is not seeking election to the highest office.

{^ Does anyone not see the telltale, semi-covert, yet ham-handed machinations of Karl Rove (and his Crossroads SuperPac) all over the serial character assassinations of Mitt Romney's opponents (Palin, Trump, Bachmann, Perry, & Cain) in the Republican Presidential primary race? Really?}]

Meanwhile, Bradley Manning, who allegedly gave Wikileaks access to tens of thousands U.S. diplomatic communications—documents which Wikileaks released—is still somewhere under a jail awaiting formal court procedures.
Speaking of criminal activity,
"Amnesty International is calling for the arrest of former President George W. Bush while he is traveling overseas in Africa.
The human rights group issued a statement Thursday calling for the governments of Ethiopia, Tanzania or Zambia to take the former president into custody. According to Amnesty, the 43rd president is complicit in torture conducted by the United States during his administration and should be held pending an international investigation. 
"International law requires that there be no safe haven for those responsible for torture; Ethiopia, Tanzania and Zambia must seize this opportunity to fulfill their obligations and end the impunity George W. Bush has so far enjoyed," said Amnesty senior legal adviser Matt Pollard in a statement."
Good luck with that.
Yeah, the Bush administration. Seems that Hank Paulson, Bush's SecTreas, acted in concert and collusion with the 'too-big-to-fail' Wall Street banks without Congressional knowledge and/or oversight by giving them a heads-up about forthcoming government action w/r/t FannieMae and FreddyMac and providing bailout monies of over $7 trillion, ten times more than was disclosed to the public. This from that radical news org. Bloomberg News. It isn't surprising that Paulson's buddies used these taxpayer funds to enrich themselves while the U.S. and, in fact, the world economy tanked.

Is there a crime there somewhere?
While we're on the topic of finance, here's a good Reddit discussion about the advantages Hedge Funds have over retail investors. It's a Wall Street type who's in sync with the Operation Wall Street crowd. The comments are particularly instructive and should be read. One interesting point is Warren Buffett's standing bet that an S & P 500 index fund will beat any hedge fund's returns over a ten-year period. The point being: if you're going to do any investing as an individual (and some of you might have that option in a workplace 401k, e.g.), a buy-and-hold strategy is best, and one which sits in a fund that apes the returns of the S & P 500 is about as good as you can get.
While we're on the topic of OWS: whither thou? OWS has become part of the news landscape. It's almost become like following the local weather. Rather than fade away, WoW hero George Lakoff recommends that the movement translate its cultural influence into electoral power much the same way the Tea Party exerted itself: to wit,
"gain power within the Democratic Party and hence in election contests all over America. All they have to do is join Democratic Clubs, stick to their values, speak out very loudly, and work in campaigns for candidates at every level who agree with their values. If Occupiers can run tent camps, organize food kitchens and clean-up brigades, run general assemblies, and use social media, they can take over and run a significant part of the Democratic Party.
To what end? All the hundreds of the occupiers' legitimate complaints and important policy suggestions follow from a simple general moral principle: American democracy is about citizens caring about one another and acting responsibly on that care.
The idea is simple but a lot follows from it: a government that protects and empowers everyone equally, a government of the Public - public roads and buildings, school and universities, research and innovation, public health and health care, safety nets, access to justice in the courts, enforcement of worker rights, and practical necessities like sewers, power grids, clean air and water, public safety including safe food, drugs, and other products, public parks and recreational facilities, public oversight of the economy - fiscal and trade policy, banking, the stock market - and especially the preservation of nature in the interest of all.
The Public has been what has made Americans free - and has underwritten American wealth. No one makes it on his or her own. Private success depends on a robust Public."
In local news, the Atlanta Fulton County Sheriff refused to carry out an eviction order against a 103 year old woman. Bravo, dude. Score one for the good guys and humanity.

By contrast, former Republican Sheriff of the Year, Patrick Sullivan of Colorado was arrested for selling meth for gay sex and was sent to the eponymous Patrick J. Sullivan Detention Facility. You can't make this stuff up. I mean, if I attempted to use this story for a novel, it wouldn't pass the laugh test.*

[* More on my latest project—and the cool serendipity that generated it—later. Or not.]
Now some rockin' toons:

22 November 2011

Keys Signage

Just returned from visiting my eldest in the Keys. His birthday. Stopping over for a day before heading to T'giving in NC with the fam. Brought back some pics for your holiday enjoyment.

Pink is the color of my true love's fur.
My new favorite metal band: their tour bus.
It's not what you might think—though there was one of those, too.

This one wasn't—but, with that name, it could've been. Forgive me, Papa. 
Absorbency Ground Zero. They probably need them for those bar stools at the Garden of Eden. 
So lonely, baby.
Cat walk?
And yes it was—or nearly so.
What you can get there.
My policy is never to get a tat from an artist with a misspelled sign—especially when set in neon.
Truth in advertising?
How could the dude work without the 'shine?
What time is the next fitting?
I think the 'H' is silent. [Do I win the internet?]
Santa Marlin. 'Tis the Season! (or nearly)

18 November 2011

Random Thoughts

I apologize, upfront, to (all three of) my readers for being AWOB lately. I could chalk it up to lots of things: despair, other-busyness, distraction, running/training, creativity—but I won't (even tho' I just did). And I will not be posting anything until, probably, after Thanksgiving. I'm going down to the Keys to visit and dive with Wisdomie who's now a Dive Master/Dive Instructor. Dude's applying for jobs everywhere from Fiji to Oz to the Seychelles to the Caribbean. Wish I'd had that sort of sense of adventure and passion when I was his age. Way to go! Happy Birthday, Son!

Here, then, in no particular order, epigrammatic-ish thoughts that probably should've and most likely would've turned into probably interminable longish posts were I not [see above, pick one or more]. Lucky y'all:

Pay Close Attention: The BIG GAME is Iran. I said it when we went into Iraq and Afghanistan. I said if I were Iran I'd be worried. Don't believe me? Ever play Risk? We're surrounding them. Strategery, bitches. The drumbeats are starting, faintly, at first, in the distance, but they're beginning the banging. Listen. Can you hear them? And, you might well ask, why? Choking China's supply line of oil. Oh, and now we're setting up shop in Oz.

re: Occupy: The coordinated assault by Bloomberg and 17 other mayors (in collaboration with DHS) against all the DFHs will only serve to galvanize the disaffected. Especially when the world sees tiny Asian girls attacking the billy sticks of uniformed helmeted giants with her ribcage and grannies being gassed. Who didn't see that coming? Our best and brightest, apparently. Ever hear of Bull Connor and his famous puppy parties with slip-'n'-slides? Oh yeah, and when Labor Leaders and retired hero cops lead the charge to the hoosegow, you know roots are taking hold. It gives me hope.

This, by someone calling themselves Ministry of Truth @ dKos (also Jesse LaGreca), makes some sense to me: Welcome to Phase 2 of OWS
"The point of Occupy Wall Street is NOT to camp in tents, it is to challenge power and corruption.

"And now that our tents are going away I am almost relieved. The tents were becoming a distraction anyway, now it is time for us to focus on how we will place pressure on the corrupt power structure and demand the changes and reforms and accountability we all know is absolutely necessary if we are going to have a viable future for millions upon millions of working class people."
Politics: Being presently domiciled in the State of Georgia, it is incumbent upon me to concede that two of the top contenders for the Republican nomination for President of these here United States also hail from here. Newt Gingrich is a mean person, dismissive, condescending. He's smart and informed. He lies; it is his SOP: his MO. And he's corrupt beyond measure. Herman Cain is ill-informed, misguided, and unserious. The only reason he isn't corrupt is that he hasn't had the opportunity yet. He's a salesman who's in it for the main chance. Another conman.

Look, if you can call me anything, you can call me a rational humanist. Looking at the Republican field, I despair. The one rational-seeming candidate, Jon Huntsman, can't get more than 2% support. He's a conservative. Fine. I don't have to agree with everything every candidate believes in. He's smart, informed, reasoned, relatively humane, and seems to have the country's best interests at heart. I don't get the sense he's corruptible—beyond the norm. In fact, probably significantly less. He's got for-real foreign policy experience. He's been the governor of a bona fide U.S. state. What's the problem with those guys? Why can't he get a hearing? Only the clowns, crooks, conmen, nincompoops, and ideologues seem to be able to get any serious attention from that base. It makes me deeply sad.

Personal aside: The last two weeks I've run two 5k (3.1 miles) races. I took a 1st in one and a 2nd place in the other in my age group. They're shorter distances, I know, but it's early season. I finished in the top half of all participants in both—besting many younger men and women. And yes, I'm still running in my Vibram Five Fingers—that's over 2 years and nearly 1,000 miles (see Running label below). And yes, I'm still injury-free. And yes, I've upped my barefoot training miles to roughly a third of my overall training miles. Did you see Chris McDougall's piece in last Sunday's NYTimes? Or this video about how to do it: The Lost Secret of Running?

Check out friend Justin's blog re same. It's never too late!

Best wishes to all for Thanksgiving!

13 November 2011

Druids Rejoice!

All ye Druids gather 'round. Today is a glorious day! The leaves of the ginkgo biloba trees here in the ATL are falling. You may be unaware, but every year the leaves of this majestic tree all fall in a single day. They hold on and hold on then, practically all at once, at some unknown signal, they all let go at the same time.

For the last 11 years, I have walked, run, and driven by a magnificent specimen ginkgo in my neighborhood. And every year I've looked forward to this day. This year, for the first time, I've taken some before and during pics to document the event.


Today (note the carpeting effect):

Late in November, on a single night
Not even near to freezing, the ginkgo trees
That stand along the walk drop all their leaves
In one consent, and neither to rain nor to wind
But as though to time alone: the golden and green
Leaves litter the lawn today, that yesterday
Had spread aloft their fluttering fans of light.
What signal from the stars? What senses took it in?
What in those wooden motives so decided
To strike their leaves, to down their leaves,
Rebellion or surrender? and if this
Can happen thus, what race shall be exempt?
What use to learn the lessons taught by time.
If a star at any time may tell us: Now.
Howard Nemerov, “The Consent” from The Collected Poems of Howard Nemerov. Copyright © 1977 by Howard Nemerov. Reprinted by permission of Margaret  Nemerov.

10 November 2011

Look What Those DFHs Down at OWS Are Doing Now!

Oh, wait. Never mind: that chaos, violence, and looting was just some college students who are upset their iconic football coach got caught covering up pedophilia by one of his assistants. [Kinda' like the Catholic Church.]

No jazz hands here. Where's the outrage on the right? Where're the tear gas and rubber bullets from the cops?

Don't kid yourselves: Helmetball is king!

04 November 2011

Vote 4 Pikachu

Okay, I've been quiet lately (@if: nothing to do w/ RG, but thanks), but it took this to bring me out for a quickie post: Did you know that Herman Cain is a Pokemon master?

The most awesomest video ever:

Gotta' catch 'em all!

22 October 2011

Occupy K Street!

I think it's pretty big news when the President of the United States announces that all American troops who have been entangled in an eight-year foreign adventure of his predecessor's doing in Iraq will be home for Christmas. There are still questions about the role of Blackwater/Xe and other military contractors, but this is the fulfillment of a campaign promise by President Obama which many of us felt should have come much, much sooner. I have recognized how institutional concerns and Obama's own trepidation in dealing with the military-industrial powers-that-be have hampered these efforts. But here it is. It is major news. I applaud it. What's important, however, is what the contenders for the Republican nomination for office think about it—which will inevitably be the focus of all the Sunday political talk-shows. Oh, and what Sen. John McCain (R. Loser) and Lindsey Graham (R. So Closeted) feel about it. One hopes the resources to support this misbegotten war-like adventure can be put to better use rebuilding our own economy.


The Occupy Wall Street/Occupy Everywhere/Occupy Together let's call it a 'movement' (this cycle's Move On?) is standing pat. Occupistas are occupying all over the Western world. Were I a commander of forces, I would shift focus a bit, especially in Washington, DC. "Occupy K Street" should be the mantra. Yes, corporate/financial control of the economy and hoarding is causing increasing misery among the 99% of Americans (and others) who are not hedge fund, Goldman Sachs, BoA, etc. affiliated. Calls for austerity, such as cutting back Social Security or Medicare or Veterans benefits, while bankster profits soar cannot stand. But the instrumentality of this control of the economy is the undue influence of MONEY on the law-making and regulatory (and enforcement, as well) processes of government. Money and influence filters into Congress and the Executive through the law firms, PR, and lobby shops of K Street. Break this supply chain link—Occupy K Street—and you stand a chance of making real, long-lasting democratizing effects on our politics and our economy.

Speaking of banksters, Bank of America is once again engaging in the should-be criminal act of privatizing profits and socializing losses. It is attempting to shift $55 trillion of potentially toxic debt exposure to risky Merrill Lynch derivatives from its investment side to its depositor, FDIC-insured side. Glass-Steagall, anyone?

That being said:
'A recent study of the global economy by three complex systems theorists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich "combines the mathematics long used to model natural systems with comprehensive corporate data to map ownership among the world's transnational corporations," New Scientist reported.[1] -- It confirms that "a few bankers control a large chunk of the global economy..." '
Want to know what the top 50 organizations in this network are (using data as of 2007)?

 1. Barclays plc
 2. Capital Group Companies Inc
 3. FMR Corporation
 4. AXA
 5. State Street Corporation
 6. JP Morgan Chase & Co
 7. Legal & General Group plc
 8. Vanguard Group Inc9. UBS AG
 10. Merrill Lynch & Co Inc
 11. Wellington Management Co LLP
 12. Deutsche Bank AG
 13. Franklin Resources Inc
 14. Credit Suisse Group
 15. Walton Enterprises LLC
 16. Bank of New York Mellon Corp
 17. Natixis
 18. Goldman Sachs Group Inc
 19. T Rowe Price Group Inc
 20. Legg Mason Inc
 21. Morgan Stanley
 22. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc
 23. Northern Trust Corporation
 24. Société Générale
 25. Bank of America Corporation
 26. Lloyds TSB Group plc
 27. Invesco plc
 28. Allianz SE
 29. TIAA
 30. Old Mutual Public Limited Company
 31. Aviva plc
 32. Schroders plc
 33. Dodge & Cox
 34. Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc*
 35. Sun Life Financial Inc
 36. Standard Life plc
 37. CNCE
 38. Nomura Holdings Inc
 39. The Depository Trust Company
 40. Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance
 41. ING Groep NV
 42. Brandes Investment Partners LP
 43. Unicredito Italiano SPA
 44. Deposit Insurance Corporation of Japan
 45. Vereniging Aegon
 46. BNP Paribas
 47. Affiliated Managers Group Inc
 48. Resona Holdings Inc
 49. Capital Group International Inc
 50. China Petrochemical Group Company
 * Lehman still existed in the 2007 dataset used
Research project: Who are the Hill and State lobbyists for these firms? What are the trade groups and organizations they support? Who are their law firms? What are their PACs and Super-PACs and 501(c)(4) organizations? Who do they pay to wine and dine and entice your Representatives and Senators and regulators and their staffs with campaign donations and contributions to their own PACs? These are their instrumentalities in the halls of power. These should be OCCUPIED!

Occupy K Street!

20 October 2011


You better, you better, you bet.



I'm on fire. (Extra points for allusion)

Thanks, Capt. Obvious.

Lake's down a few feet.

In cold hell...

Sunset boulevard.

Things growing on other things.

Eye Candy.

More of the same.

Where you get your Xmas trees.

w/ Lily.

And Civilization rises.


Pay attention, now.

Jake & Jim H. (h/t Mary Ann w/ the shaky hands)
Now you see me...

Now you don't.

That's Bouquet.

Duck, duck, goose. That's just a cryin' shame.

No claw marks so far as I can see.

If you ever go to Panthertown, you'll need one of these.


Things growing on other things.

Into the woods.

Electric avenue.

Fernwood tonight.

I'm on fire. (That's The Dwight Tilley Band)

A settlement. People. Shhh!

Seriously, you have to click this one.

This one, too.

Cairn? Idol?

Was that banjo music? Let's get moving.

More stuff growing on other stuff.

We landed on this side of the sign, is that okay?

Yum, that was tasty!

More stuff growing on other stuff.

Even more.

Watering hole.


What the heck is this stuff?

Amanita, jump a little lighter.

Stuff on stuff.

Again, what in the world is this stuff?

Snailish 'Shroom.

Lots of this stuff about.

A purpling.

Pocket falls.

Watering hole redux.

Stuff, stuff.


Trickle down theory.

Life on the rocks, reprise.

Storm's abrewing.

Wild weed.


Foggy afternoon, but these color don't hide. [Note the little cat feet in the upper right corner.]

Satisfying. Cheers, y'all!