Saturation Saturday Redux: Green Again

The First Law of Thermodynamics

Food & Fashion

Take a good look at this fashion model. No really - take a long look and form an opinion of her physique.

Got it?

OK, I googled "skinny model" and this was the first image I found that I felt I could post where the line between fashion and slimness was well made on both sides of the equation. The photos I rejected screamed concentration camp, cancer or starvation. Don't look if your dreams are easily influenced into nightmares.

Sure we all know these celery consuming anorexics are poisoning the psyches of children and young adults. But what can we do about it. Well the Israel parliament is trying something, which troubles my feelings about life, liberty and free will but I wonder...

A new law passed by Israel lawmakers on Monday requires that male and female models in Israel must have a body mass index (or BMI, a measure of weight proportionate to height) of no less than 18.5—a standard used by the World Health Organization before they can be hired for a modeling job. A six-foot-tall model, for example, must weigh no less than 136.5 pounds.
Lawmakers are hoping the measure encourages a healthier body image among teens and fights the spread of eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia. 
"Beautiful is not underweight," Rachel Adato, one of the lawmakers who voted for the bill. "Beautiful should not be anorexic."
Adi Barkan, a top modeling agent in Israel who helped Adato craft the law, described underweight models favored by the fashion industry a bit more bluntly.
"They look like dead girls," Barkan told the AP.

So how do we feel about the government regulating body mass when tied to employment? Remember weight restrictions for flight attendants. 

Political Signage

With the ability to post a picture on Facebook available to anyone with an internet connection there is a lot of political commentary that crawls through the photoshop process before leaking out into the collective unconscious of the cyber cesspool. Most of the messages are silly or mean; partisan and generally wrong. I tend to rate them on a scale from flat-out stupid to deliciously devious. 

But every once in a great while one comes along that I just can't dismiss. I mean when politicians get so outrageous that they make both sides of their own inane argument, you just gotta marvel at what we produce in the way of political candidates. He is a brilliant example thus just defies rebuttal.

Saturation Saturday Redux: Green

Seems an appropriate day for some green exploration, above - the Chicago River dyed for St. Patrick's Day.

another timely photo

Lip Dub

"A lip dub is a type of video that combines lip synching and audio dubbing to make a music video. Usually made by filming a group of people lip synching while listening to a song or any recorded audio then dubbing over it in post editing with the original audio of the song. Lip dubs can be done in a single unedited shot that often travels through different rooms and situations within a building, campus or even a city."

I first saw a lip dub in 2009 or perhaps early 2010, it was sort of a takeoff on flash mobs. Recently I was sent the link to a truly amazing lip dub done in Grand Rapids, Michigan and set to Don McLeans American Pie.

I highly recommend taking a break from what you are doing to marvel at and enjoy the Grand Rapids LipDub.

If after watching you want to know more, here is the Making of GR LibDub.

Of course there are now hundreds of variations on the web, my personal favorite is LipDub Sorbonne Paris - Coldplay Viva La Vida.

Mississippi For Instance

Yes, in Mississippi Rick Santorum got a couple more votes than the other guys.

Yes, between them the ultra-conservative Santorum and the slimy not as conservative Newt Gingrich got over 64% of the vote yesterday.

No, all of you liberals and other sane voters there is no need to worry. The wacko fringe of the republican party is not about to take over the country. Here are the numbers.

2012 Republican Primary Mississippi
Santorum         93,200
Gingrich           88,700
Romney            86,000
Paul                  12,500

Total Vote       283,000

2008 National Election Mississippi
McCain           687,266
Obama            520,864

Total Vote     1,224,000

Only the heavily motivated conservative vote turned out yesterday. The great middle of the voting public is really not "anyone but Romney" they are "anyone but Romney except not these guys." Given an actual general election between Obama and Santorum or Gingrich there are some red states that will go for the republican party but the margins will be much smaller than those McCain numbers from '08 and the overwhelming majority  of the country will be blue.

This Obama reelection scenario does not make me particularly happy but I have to admit the potential for a strong third party showing in '12 is being slowly eroded by the republican road show. The more these guys talk, the more independent and liberal voters who have been turned off my Obama are thinking - "anyone but these guys."

The Government Made Me Do It

I heard it again the other day in what was a reasoned debate/conversation about the financial crisis of the past few years, someone said: "It wasn't Wall Street and the banks that made all those loans, they were forced to lower their lending standards by the government."

There is one and only one way to address that assertion - "Bullshit!" Unmitigated, unfounded, truthless bullshit! But presented with the facts, some people still need to cling desperately to their own fantasy version of reality.

Here are the facts, you only need to consider two numbers:

$1.4 trillion U.S. dollars
$140 trillion U.S. dollars

Notice that the second number is 100 times larger than the first. So here goes the easy explanation even for those who consider themselves math challenged. In the U.S. the grand total of "bad" real estate loans at the peak of the financial crisis was 1.4 trillion dollars. If the U.S. government wanted to step in to prevent the near financial collapse caused by these "bad" mortgages it could have done so for 1.4 trillion dollars. Just buy up all those bad loans and manage the portfolio. Crazy? Well since the U.S. government spent 2.5 trillion in the bank bailout, 1.4 trillion would have been a discount. And. . . less than half of those "bad" loans actually defaulted, the other half are still making their monthly payments.

So why didn't this happen? Well let's go back to the ridiculous argument that the banks and their Wall Street backers were forced to make these credit risky loans. Say the U.S. government had bought all the loans for 1.4 trillion and apologized for forcing the banks to be so financially irresponsible, wouldn't all of the financial problems gone away?

Well no, you see the 1.4 trillion of subprime ("bad") mortgages were not the problem, no matter who originated those loans or why they made them. You see Wall Street (AIG) used those 1.4 trillion of actual mortgages, loans with real property behind them; Wall Street used those loans to create 140 trillion dollars worth of fake collateralized investment paper . Mortgage default swaps and other byzantine derivative investments all based on that original 1.4 trillion in actual loans. That 140 trillion was sold worldwide and other bankers in other countries followed Wall Street's lead and ventured into the same speculative investment instrument creation based on their real estate markets.

Understand these "other" investment contraptions had no financial basis other than the actual mortgages. One hundred times more money was generated in investment paper than the real estate mortgages held in value.

1.4 trillion in mortgage debt X 100 = 140 trillion on top of the actual mortgage paper

Nothing justified the creation of wealth out of thin air. The mortgage back securities were worth 1.4 trillion the rest of the 140 trillion was slight of hand. No one, not one single soul on Wall Street has ever suggested that the government made them create that pile of worthless investment paper. It was fraud, it was irresponsible, it was greed and it was criminal.

And most of all, the government did not make them do it.

Now does anyone want to know why there is this movement called Occupy Wall Street?

read more

Rush Limbaugh & Mike Doonesbury

So are you a "Dump Rush" but a "Keep Doonesbury" liberal. Or perhaps a "Burn Doonesbury" and "Liberate Limbaugh" conservative. Or might you be a independent free-thinker who can go both ways?

It seems Garry Trudeau has gone too far with this coming week's strips and has, as one editor put it - "created content that is inappropriate alongside Garfield and The Duplex." I don't know what The Duplex is, but I certainly don't want the existential insight of a big orange cartoon cat sullied by Trudeau's pinko political observations. Oh wait, I do want that!

You will have to excuse me but the 124 republican primary debates have got my political priorities so turned around that I just can't think straight. And if women seeking reproductive services are as confused as I am, well perhaps a 72 waiting period is not long enough. Heavens knows women tend to me more easily upset by these things than us men and look how confused all of this debate has gotten me. I mean a panel of thoughtful middle-aged Texas men might be the best way to make decisions about war, taxes and those sensitive vaginal issues.

On the other hand if what you want is to either shut Rush up or stop the Doonesbury strips from running in your local paper - You, my friend, are engaging in censorship. Cut it any way you like perhaps the free market reacting to Rush's stupidity and pulling advertising from his show. Or the newspaper editor protecting his readers from social commentary on the comic pages. Right, left, extremist, patriot, fundamentalist, parent, christian, liberal, social conservative - use any label you like - you are advocating censorship.

You may not be able to shout "Fire" in a crowded theatre but saying "slut" on the radio or mentioning a "transvaginal exam" in the funny papers, these are not utterances worth sacrificing the First Amendment. You all remember that amendment right, it's why I can write what I want in this blog and citizens of North Korea, Iran and Syria are murdered by their governments for even attempting something as subversive as free speech.

More Juxtaposition


When I went to bed last night I knew the moon would be precisely full just after 1 a.m. west coast time. 

Autosuggestion can be powerful, I woke up with the bright white orb hanging high over San Francisco casting a bright white spot across the floor below my west facing windows. I stood in the cold glow and let my mind wander - all the light of the moon is reflected. Unlike the sun, the moon is cold with no thermal activity, it sheds no light of its own. I didn't bother with my glasses, I just stood in the light. Eventually a chill set in and I crawled back under the covers.

Something woke me just after five. By then the moon was low on the horizon and my entire bed was flooded with white light. I stepped to the windows again and noticed the moon had begun to take on an orange hue as it set into the marine layer. There were nearby clouds drifting from the north, wait that might be steam from that plant near the bay or smoke - what the hell!

I went to retrieve my glasses because there were flames. Yep that building was on fire! Just then the engine sirens started up from the firehouse down on Shattuck. That building was only a couple of blocks from where I stood and those flames were really starting to build. Soon the television copters arrived and the early morning news shows reported a six unit apartment building was fully involved.

As I watched the morning brighten into dawn, the orange moon set slowly into the Marin headlands across the Bay through the morning mist rising off the sun warmed water and the billowing smoke from the nearby apartment fire.

More juxtaposition tomorrow.

Make It a Clown Parade

I am going to guess that some of my readers were slightly insulted by my post yesterday in which I referred to the four remaining republican candidates as clowns.

I just wanted to set the record straight today for those who have forgotten my opinion of the current occupant of the oval office.

Don't you love farce?
My fault I fear.
I thought that you'd want what I want.
Sorry, my dear.
But where are the clowns?
Quick, send in the clowns.
Don't bother, they're here.

Apologies for taking those lyrics so far out of context, as compensation here is Judy Collins singing them correctly.

Stupor Tuesday

Vermont, Virginia, Massachusetts, Idaho and Wyoming to the sad, humorless clown;

Oklahoma, North Dakota and Tennessee to the bozo who loves barefoot, pregnant, mute women;

Georgia to the oft divorced pudgy clown;

and bunch of convention votes to the libertarian floppy footed booby;

which taken all together still means what most reasonable folks have known for several months - Romney vs. Obama in November.

But it also means that the four clowns will continue to entertain awhile longer.


Researchers at Cambridge University have published results in the British Medical Journal that confirm what I have known prayed for my entire life.

"Based on observational evidence, levels of chocolate consumption seem to be associated with a substantial reduction in the risk of cardiometabolic disorders."

Chocolate is good for your heart, metabolism in general, lower incidents of stroke and coronary heart disease. Chocolate ingestion is also associated with the reduction or prevention of high blood pressure and other cardiovascular conditions. Dark chocolate is better than milk chocolate at achieving these benefits and there are some minor caveats about the amount you consume, something about binge eating and mass consumption; but other than that - Great News!

Half Right

Eenie Meenie Chili Beanie.

Back on January 7th I made this prediction:

Feb. 28 Arizona & Michigan - Romney wins both; everyone else quits.

I guess you could say I was half right and a week off. It will take until next Tuesday for everyone else to quit. Unless, of course, the republican faithful decide that reality politics is more fun than having a chance to actually win the fall election. But I am going with a Romney near sweep next week and everyone but Ron Paul turning out the lights.

UPDATE: My good friend and right-wing advisor tells me that: "Santorum will never quit!" He went on to suggest that the same zealotry that drove the former senator to shoot himself in his Michigan foot with JFK insults and attacks on women, that same devotion to destruction will keep him in the race long after the numbers make the Romney nomination a fact.

Therefore I will slightly modify my prediction: Ahem!

Super Tuesday March 6th: Romney in a near sweep tonight. All reasonable, rational other republican candidates (Ron Paul has already been exempted from this category) but all other such candidates will demonstrate they really do want to win the white house and will withdraw from the race to bolster the chances that their nominee will win in November. 

I should add now that anyone attempting a third party candidacy from the right is: 
a) too late because of draconian state election laws;
b) doing more to hurt the party than staying in the race would;
c) making the summer a hell of a lot more interesting - Go for It!

Now let's turn to what Americans Elect is all about.

Because . . .

This is wrong!

The church says so.

The republicans say so.

Even the bible says so, you can find it in Noah 1:13.

From Japan With Love

Twenty-five million tons of debris from the tsunami in Japan last year is heading for the west coast of the U.S. and Canada. That's 25,000,000 tons or 50,000,000,000 pounds. "Most" of it is not radioactive because the wave action of the tsunami swept most of the debris out to sea before the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors went all Kaboom! Fishing buoys already have washed up on the California coast the first of the flotsam to arrive. Predicting where and when more debris will arrive is difficult because even though 25 million tons is a lot, the pacific ocean is lots and lots more.

Eight Articles of Interest

A far flung smorgasbord of information today. I'll bet even my L.A. friends can find something they will enjoy.

#1 (Goodbye Japan?)
We may yet lose Tokyo. The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant continues to discharge radiation into the air and the ocean. Recent (very quiet) announcements suggested that it would take ten years to fully contain the disaster and encapsulate the radiation effects to the plant site.

#2 (Some Facts About Entitlements)
You may already know this but here is a soundly written analysis of just who collects on all the government entitlements. Contrary to all the political rhetoric, the wealthiest members of the U.S. society benefit more from government handouts than do the bottom of the economic pile. Of course the high-end giveaways generally show up as tax breaks and not silly gifts like food, medicine or child care.

#3 (A Real Second Party)
The country is starved for a grown-up debate. This NYTimes Op-Ed slams the republicans pretty hard but I ran it by my favorite right-winger and he said: "Those pinkos at the Times are my arch-enemies but this time they aren't wrong." The piece is called: We Need a Second Party

#4 (Economic Non-Truths)
Three Great Economic Misconceptions from the Motley Fool, which of these statements are true? 

"China is the biggest holder of U.S. debt." 

"The U.S. is oil dependent on the Middle East." 

"Consumers spend most of their money on junk made in China and other Far East countries."

Think you know?

#5 (It Appears We Do Know What We Want)
For those naysayers, fools, idiots and elitists who ask: "What do those people in tents want?" How about an SEC comment letter. Yep, those dirty hippies not only can write, some of them are exceptionally well educated.

#6 (Occupy Reading List)
If you are an Occupy supporter or think you might want to be. Here is an Occupy Book Reading List. It's not perfect but an interesting look at why the Occupy movement started and why it's not going away anytime soon.   

#7 (Your Cat is Making You Crazy)
Not just for cat lovers or even cat haters, but a really profound look at cross-species parasitic transfer leading to behavioral modification. Your pet's bugs may be making you change your behavior. No really! A fun article that will make you think and maybe itch a bit too.

#8 (Who is Voting in the Primaries)

A Blunt but Bias Analysis of who exactly is voting in the presidential primary races.

"There is no other way to put this without resorting to demographic bluntness: the small fraction of Americans who are trying to pick the Republican nominee are old, white, uniformly Christian and unrepresentative of the nation at large."

Unfortunately this article stretches the numbers to make most of it's strangled points. Take for instance this statement: "In Florida, 84 percent of the state’s total registered voters  did not participate in the Republican contest." A shocking number if you didn't know that Florida holds a closed primary, so democrats and independents were not eligible to vote in the republican contest. Only 36% of registered voters in Florida self designate as republican, so factually an honest reporting would have said mentioned that 16% of the potential 36% republican vote turned out; not 16% of 100%.

Conservatism 1964 & 2012

One of my friends made the observation the other day that the 2012 election was not at all like the 1964 election. The '64 campaign led the conservative republican candidate Barry Goldwater to lose in a landslide to Lyndon Johnson. My conservative friend's point was that the values of the right in '64 were very different than those of conservatives today. More of the voters in the republican primaries are responding to these arguments than ever did in '64 and therefore a conservative candidate in 2012 would not suffer the same result that Senator Goldwater did forty-eight years ago.

Here is Barry Goldwater's take on today's brand of conservatism.

Cold, Cold Heart

While I continue to ponder and wallow in the future of this blog, I thought I might offer up a bit more of the reasoning behind this reevaluation. Don't turn away from this insightful and factual article by Kathy Kelly about her pending excursion to Afghanistan. I promise it will make you reconsider your day if not your life whether you are in Florida, Michigan, Brazil or Oz.

Cold, Cold Heart by Kathy Kelly.

"I tried so hard my dear to show that you're my only dream
                                         Yet you're afraid each thing I do is just some evil scheme.
A memory from your lonesome past keeps us so far apart.
Why can't I free your doubtful mind, and melt your cold, cold heart?"

A Question for the Ladies

I mean this question in all seriousness. If you are a woman how can you possibly consider voting for the republicans? They are quite openly attacking you in thought, word and deed. This does not mean I suggest you vote for Barack, that argument will come later; but let's just focus on what the republicans are doing to revive the gender wars.

They really did hold a congressional hearing on contraception to hear only from all male religious leaders, several of whom are celibate. They really have targeted cutting funds from women's clinics because, of course, they might offer advice on birth control. Ditto child care, equal pay provisions and let's not forget the increasing incidence of rape in the military.

Oh right, there is the other half of today's question: If you are a man who lives with, cares for or loves a woman; if you have a sister, aunt, mother, niece or a female friend; how can you possibly consider voting for the republicans who seem to hate these women?
That's some of Matt Bors' cartoon work above. If you haven't found him yet, he may be the Gary Larson of this generation.

Bay Bridge Closure

SUNDAY EVENING 8 PM - The Bay Bridge has reopened 34 hrs ahead of schedule.
Bridge Closure Presidents Day 2012

Guess I'll be spending the weekend in the East Bay.

Information Overload

Yes information overload is real.

Yes we contribute to it by surfing mindlessly from website to website.

I delete dozens of URLs from my history every month, you know all those sites you were going to get to tomorrow. I even found what should have been a great article about info-overload called Gluttony Gone Viral. But it was so completely over the top, my only thought after reading it was - no one has ever written about the overflowing of the internet while delivering such an absurd example of those exact excesses. It still is worth a quick read as a perfect exemplar of what we need to avoid.

Then I ran across another meme for this internet disease - data fog.

Too much of anything, too much of everything; eventually we hear (read) nothing doesn't get lost in the fog. I feel those creeping tendrils everyday. I devise tricks to avoid the seduction of the web. But of most concern for me is my own contribution to the fog - this blog.

I took some time at the end of last year to ponder and rethink what I am doing here - I admit to finding no real solutions and locating no conclusions. I could excise all political content, I know that would make several of my readers very happy. And it's not like there aren't plenty of pundits out there doing exactly what I do. Possible answers:


Apolitical Only??

Complete Abandonment???

Still reflecting, more of something to follow.

Pretty good, not bad, can't complain. Thanks for asking.

Top Six plus One Articles of the Recent Past

"Be careful who sieves your access to information, 
it might be me or it could be Rupert Murdock."

#1 (Dead or Alive?)
I really enjoy having a widely accepted "truth" crushed under the weight of cold, hard facts. Makes my little academic heart go all a-flutter. Have you heard from the population doomsayers that there are more people alive today than there have been on earth since the beginning of humans. True or False? And just how close are the numbers?

                    #2 (On Writing)
I purport here in my late middle age to be a writer. I prefer to be a writer of fiction though here in my blog I tend to hang-out on the other side of the equation, particularly around politics. But I prefer fiction because it is so much easier to convey truth in fiction. Here is an interesting series of observations by some famous authors on the topic of truth disguised as fiction.

#3 (Money & Media)
Here is an opportunity by petition to tell the local media outlets, particularly television stations that they need to be more open about who is buying their advertising time. In this political election year, bought and paid for by secretive Super-PACs, we have to demand that local newspapers, radio and television providers do more to bring shed light on the dirty political game the Supreme Court has given us for now.

#4 (A Compelling Twofer)
I have a wonderful literary friend, Arlene Goldbard. Not only does she write beautifully but she expresses many of my thoughts in clear and forceful prose. I recommend two of her recent pieces. First, I tend to ignore the Obama loyalists because I want them to see the light and leave the two party system but Arlene makes the argument for sticking with him for one more election in her article that begins: "I'm not planning to break up with President Obama, but he is definitely giving me flashbacks to relationship dysfunctionality."

My second recommendation from Arlene's pen might well be the best analysis I have seen on Occupy, activism and the pitfalls of populist movements in our times. For everyone who has sympathy with Occupy Wall Street but with some reservations this is a must read. I don't care what your concerns are or how you articulate your objections; spend five minutes reading this article and then face up to whatever our heart tells you. 

#5 (America's War Machine)
A seering and painful analysis of how the military establishment has manipulated politicians and the American people to support the war in Afghanistan. A war with no real goals and no end in sight. You won't like what you read no matter which side of the terrorism issue you take. 

#6 (Cows & Elephants)
Yes this video is nearly an hour long and yes the graphics are not up to the crisp PowerPoint quality we are all accustomed to, however, you will be blown away by just how many of your current notions on climate, cattle and environmental catastrophe are flat out wrong. It's truly enlightening to see just how entrenched our ideas of truth can be and how easily they can be demolished. Thanks Ron

Art & The Other Guy

How good is your presidential memory?

Really you forgot these two already?

I know, I know - Florida!

Bob Dole and Jack Kemp '96

A one term Bush.

George H.W. beat these guys.

Buried under the Reagan "Landslide"

No reelection for Carter.

No one could have won in the shadow of Nixon.

Now say these out loud, very slowly:

President McCain

President Kerry

President Dole

President Gore

President Dukakis

President Mondale

President Romney

President Gingrich

President Santorum

President Paul

President Bachmann

President Cain

...now go wash your mouth out with something very strong and no spitting.