Miscellany

defn. a mixture of various things


12/10/2016:
‘A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall’
At the Nobel Prize ceremony, Patti Smith delivered an astonishing rendition of Bob Dylan’s 1963 song, ‘A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall’. She forgot the lines midway through, but the incident seemed only to add to the intensity of her performance. After a brief pause, she finished. The video features her voice and Dylan’s words, juxtaposed with images of royalty and well-heeled attendees, and juxtaposed further with the fact that in this long year the U.S. seems to have become but an ashpit of a gutted-out democracy. A powerful presentation honoring a great song-writer worthy of the Nobel Prize in Literature. Bob Dylan did not attend, but his speech was read at the ceremonial banquet.


3/14/2016:
Alan Grayson’s Analysis of the Ongoing Democratic Primaries
An interesting and reasonable analysis by Alan Grayson, a progressive who is running to replace Marco Rubio as a Senator from Florida:

There are two Democratic Presidential Primaries. One is almost over. The other is about to begin.

The first Democratic Presidential Primary runs from Feb. 1 to March 15. All 11 “Old South” states vote in that primary. We have two states left to go, but Hillary Clinton has won every one of the other nine, by an average of 43 points.

Outside those “Old South” states, 12 other states also have voted. Bernie Sanders has won nine of those races, Hillary Clinton has won only two, and there has been one tie (Iowa). The average result in those 12 states has been a Sanders win by just under 20 points.

The net effect of this (Hillary winning the “Old South” by 43 points, Bernie winning everywhere else by 20 points) is a Clinton lead among pledged delegates of 223 (specifically, 775 to 552).

Which brings us to the second Democratic Presidential Primary: Democratic Presidential Primary 2.0. It runs from March 16 through June 7. It includes none of the “Old South” states, because they all will have already voted. It includes all of the Pacific states, and all of the “Mountain” states except Colorado and Nevada (which already voted). The biggest prizes are California (545 delegates), New York (291) and Pennsylvania (210).

Democratic Presidential Primary 2.0 elects a total of 2033 pledged delegates. If Bernie Sanders wins those races (and delegates) by the same 60-40 margin that he has amassed in primaries and caucuses outside the “Old South” to date, then that will give him an advantage of 407 pledged delegates. That is more — far more — than the current Clinton margin of 223.

Almost 700 pledged delegates are chosen on June 7 alone. It seems unlikely that either candidate will accumulate a margin of 700 pledged delegates before then. So this one may come down to the wire.

Fasten your seat belts. It’s going to be a wild ride.


2/19/2016: “Irony in Online Ads”

20160218scp.. Irony in Online Ads - Arctic Heating vs Toe Fungus

(forget toe fungus for a moment … click on image to read the article)

This screen capture shows a Daily Kos article along with a toe fungus ad. The data in recent months is consistently showing we may have tipped the Arctic into a meltdown mode. Could there be a better time to worry about a wrinkle on your toe nail?


2/9/2016: “Bernie Sandwiches”

Well worth watching, to the end!


12/16/2015: “A Speaker in Atlanta, Introducing Bernie Sanders”

(click on image to view video of speech at YouTube)

(click on image to view video of speech at YouTube)

Rapper Killer Mike gave a stirring speech, introducing Bernie Sanders at a rally in Atlanta. Excerpt: “…in my heart of hearts, I truly believe that Bernie Sanders is the right man to lead this country.”


10/10/2015: “Nearly 100 are killed by bomb blasts at Peace Rally in Ankara, Turkey”20151010.. Two survivors of Bomb attack on Peace March in Ankara, Turkey

Read more at these two news links: guardian.comCNN


9/22/2015: “Pope Francis’ Encyclical on the Environment”

(click on image to read or download a PDF copy)

(click on image to read or download a PDF copy)

Laudato Si’ is the second Encyclical by Pope Francis, released on May 24, 2015. It is 184-pages and focuses on our need to quickly take a unified global action to address the consequences of our centuries of pollution and excessive consumption. “Never have we so hurt and mistreated our common home as we have in the last two hundred years.”

See also this Washington Post Article.


9/15/2015: “Labor is the superior of capital”

A comment by Abraham Lincoln, in his first Annual Message, delivered on 12/3/1861. The larger quote reads:

“Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.”

Lincoln delivered this message at the end of a tumultuous year when southern states ceded from the union, forcing the nation toward civil war. In the larger context, 1861 marked the center of a period filled with cycles of economic boom-bust, squalid conditions for industrial laborers, and the continued use of slaves in the U.S. All of these factors were brewing a deepening conflict between ‘labor’ and ‘capital’. Click here to read the entire Annual Message blogged at The American Presidency Project.


8/3/2015: “Only Dead Fish go with the Flow”

This apt comment was submitted by a reader after hearing former President Jimmy Carter describe the current U.S. political system as nothing more than a self-serving, greed-driven oligarchy. Click here for the article and comments, blogged at EcoWatch.

(click on image to view video of interview clip)

(click on image to view video of interview clip)

“It violates the essence of what made America a great country in its political system. Now it’s just an oligarchy, with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for president or to elect the president. And the same thing applies to governors and U.S. senators and congress members.

“So now we’ve just seen a complete subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors, who want and expect and sometimes get favors for themselves after the election’s over.”


6/21/2015: Paddling From the Big Apple to the Big Easy
20150621scp.. M.Pellegrino paddle NYC to Chicago, map at one monthMargo Pellegrino, a stay-at-home mother of two from New Jersey, is concerned about our ongoing failure to protect our water. So, she took to the water a month ago and is well along in a paddle, from New York City to Chicago, via the Hudson River, the Erie Canal, and the Great Lakes.

This is an impressive trip. With logistical support, she is also collecting water samples and doing a great job blogging, to show her progress and share the interesting and generous people she is meeting each day.

This year’s paddle will end in Chicago. The end destination is New Orleans, and she plans to resume in summer 2016, with a trip down the Mississippi.


UPDATE, 8/4/2015: — The 2015 portion of this 2-year journey ended on July 19, when Margo paddled into Chicago. Read her daily trip reports at her blog, https://paddle4blue.wordpress.com/.

Some links:


5/16/2015: Gov. Jerry Brown and the California Water Crisis20150516scp.. title pic from 'Brown’s Arid California, Thanks Partly to His Father' (NYTimes)An interesting NYTimes article looking at two of the most significant governors in California’s history. Their differing styles and shared commitment to public service. And, the dynamics within the Brown family. PDF


2/12/2015: Monarch Butterfly Populations are in Steep Decline

Not many years ago, more than a billion of these large butterflies would migrate each year between Canada and Mexico, stopping to rest and feed in natural areas across the U.S. Now, the numbers are down to an estimated 30 million … a 97% disappearance.20150212cpy.. Monarch Butterflies pic, NGS

(click on image to view source/original article at NationalGeographic.com)

(click on image to view source/original article at NationalGeographic.com)

What’s causing the loss of this flash of color and life? The excessive use of herbicides, to control weeds that clutter the wildscapes we convert into monocultural lawns. Weather extremes (related to anthropogenic climate change) also appear to be a factor.

Learn more by watching the video (with lots of wonderful close-up imagery of insects on plants at Yosemite), and by reading an excellent National Geographic article.

And, please, don’t spray!


1/27/2015 ‘This is Water’
Joe Marrapodi is an entrepreneur in southern California who has posted a few videos on YouTube. One is his intro encouraging people to view the 2005 Commencement speech at Kenyon College, by David Foster Wallace.

Here are three videos. The first is Mr. Marrapodi’s video (1:24); the second is the David Foster Wallace speech (22:44); and the third is a 9-minute portion of the speech audio, worked up as a video about modern life … and the fact that we each can choose how we think about the world around us.



12/10/2014: Desperate workers on a Mexican mega-farm: ‘They treated us like slaves’ 1744293_FG_0605_mexico_farm_labor_bioparques_10_DPB

The tomatoes and peppers and other produce we buy at Walmart, Safeway and elsewhere … much of it is grown in mega-farms in Mexico. Harvested by workers making $8 per day of work – if and when they get paid. When they are ill and cannot work (due perhaps to overcrowded living space, or lack of hygienic facilities), they get no pay.

Each laborer is contracted for months, but gets no pay until the end of their contract. Seventy-five years later, the Joad family in Steinbeck’s ‘Grapes of Wrath’ lives on, still suffering and still being abused by greed and indifference. Is this really that different from 1850’s cotton-farm slavery?

See this story and the others in the series at the four links in the yellow box.


11/26/2014: 10 Reasons Why You Feel So Good in Nature

Excerpt: Earth, rivers, mountains and trees! Silent canyons, babbling creeks and growing green gardens! If you spend time in nature, you’ve probably noticed that you feel happier out there than in here. But why?


11/21/2014: The Need for a Free Flow of Information

True wisdom passes the test of time. Here is a scrap from nearly 200 years ago…

“…(citizens in a democracy) must arm themselves with the power that knowledge gives. A popular government without popular knowledge or the means of acquiring it is but a prelude to a farce or a tragedy or perhaps both.”

– from a letter by James Madison dated August 4, 1822

11/11/2014: John Stewart’s interview in Rolling Stone magazine

The ‘Daily Show’ host was asked about Rosewater‘, the movie he directed in the Middle East, soon to be released. The interviewer noted that much of the Middle East was erupting during the filming. Here is an excerpt of John Stewart’s response:

“I learned a lot over there. We are, to them, one large bloc of truck-driving cowboy yahoos that like to drop bombs on people. It’s two-dimensional on both sides. You know, “Axis of Evil” is as reductive as “Death to America.” It’s all the same shit. It’s ignorance-based. What I will say is that the presence of evil is rare. Malevolence is a relatively rare occurrence. General ignorance is a widespread epidemic.”

Link to the Interview.


8/14/2014: Pinocchio, Inc., by Ruben Bolling

Conscience should be a key difference between corporations and other ‘people’…20140814.. Pinocchio Inc. comic by Ruben Bolling


8/1/2014: Fishin’ Gone. All Over the World.fish chart

Tom Lewis at DailyImpact.net presents some interesting articles under his banner, “Chronicling the Crash of the Industrial Age.” He does a lot of thinking and writing, and advocates for changes that allow for a stable and sustainable future. One recent article notes that we appear to be on a collision course for no more fisheries, caused by three factors: ocean acidification, algae blooms, and over-fishing. In another recent article, he analyzes an open letter to Politico, ‘The Pitchforks Are Coming… For Us Plutocrats‘. The letter is by Nick Hanauer, a Seattle venture capitalist and entrepreneur who bankrolled Amazon. Hanauer is on the rich side of the gap, and he is concerned about the growing wealth inequality. He notes:

“You show me a highly unequal society, and I will show you a police state. Or an uprising. There are no counterexamples. None. It’s not if, it’s when.”


5/28/2014: Solar Tax Quacks SolarTaxQuacks cartoon (J.Sorensen)


5/17/2014: The Gift

A fable presented by Leo Babauta, at ZenHabits.net:

Three people are given a magical gift by a luminous, kindhearted fairy. The gift is that for just one hour, they get to experience magic and wonders. This limited time is filled with visual delights, food of the utmost deliciousness, amazing people with incredible talents, and love. The first person is a great man, and while he’s grateful for the gift, he has lots to do and so regrettably has to spend a lot of it replying to emails and texts, and checking for updates in social media. He does take some pictures of the delicious food and shares it on social media, though he doesn’t pay attention to the taste. The second person is a bit of procrastinator (OK, let’s be honest: a big procrastinator), and while she really wants to use this gift wisely, she keeps putting it off. She spends much of the hour watching videos the first guy posts online of the magical world, but she doesn’t go out and experience it herself. The third person is blown away by this gift. What an incredible opportunity! She realizes she needs to make the most of it, but isn’t sure how. So she starts by paying attention. She notices every little detail. She listens to the amazing people she meets, and tries to really see them for who they are. She tastes the food and pays close attention to every sensation as she eats, savoring the food slowly. She then practices gratitude for every moment, every person, everything she’s given. She’s filled with happiness by every little thing in this hour. Finally, she changes people’s lives. She uses what’s left of this dwindling hour to learn magic skills, to heal people who are struggling (including the first guy), to make things to delight the other amazing people in this magical world. She becomes the gift for others. The hour is over, and the first two people realize they’ve wasted the gift, and will never get it again. They’re filled with regret. The third person has no regrets, because she paid attention, was grateful, and used the magic to change lives. She used the gift to its fullest potential.

Which of those three people are you?


4/2/2014: Sen. Whitehouse and Rep. Waxman Question Koch Brothers’ Financial Interest in Keystone XL Pipeline

A letter signed by both elected officials was sent to Koch Industries. The letter notes: “Groups backed by Charles and David Koch have lobbied and run political ads to support construction of the pipeline. But Koch Industries has consistently denied financial motives played any role in these activities, asserting that the Keystone XL pipeline has ‘nothing to do with any of our businesses.’ We want to know whether this is true.” The letter presents eleven questions, and the gist of the questions is: how deeply does Koch Industries stand to benefit from construction of the Koch XL Keystone XL Pipeline? [article]


3-29-14: Chinese Private Sector debt: a bubble about to burst?

This graph was copied from a short article at BusinessInsider.com. The graph was allegedly compiled by Citi.


3-16-14: Police Corruption run Wild, in King City, California

This small community southeast of Salinas is surrounded by rich farmland and home to thousands of farm workers. Charges were recently filed by the Monterey County DA, and many members of the town’s police force arrested, due to a scheme where primarily Hispanic drivers were being pulled over and their cars ‘permanently impounded’. The Police Chief’s brother-in-law benefitted from the massive amount of impound work directed to his tow truck business. The Police Chief let his Sergeant in charge keep (and sell or give away, at his personal profit) a percentage of the cars. Fees for mandatory 30-day impounds made the cars irretrievable to the legal owners. Lots of hard-working people lost their cars, often for minor infractions such as lack of proof of insurance — or even for no infraction at all. Justice, American-style, brought to you courtesy of a rural town in California. [a blog Post][article]


3-15-14: New FOIA Lawsuit: Center for Food Safety v USDA/APHIS

The Center for Food Safety has filed a FOIA lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, charging the USDA’s Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) with multiple FOIA compliance failures. The core of the complaint is that APHIS refuses to produce disclosable agency records and is failing to comply with FOIA timelines. CFS is seeking records related to USDA’s “…decision to approve the unrestricted cultivation and sale of genetically engineered alfalfa (Roundup Ready alfalfa), … (designed) to withstand the repeated applications of the herbicide glyphosate. APHIS’s process of approving Roundup Ready alfalfa has been an issue of national interest, and a subject of litigation involving Plaintiff CFS, alfalfa farmers, consumer groups, and other national public interest groups dedicated to sustainable agriculture and the protection of our environment….” [article] This FOIA lawsuit looks to be very well researched and written. While this lawsuit has to do with GMO’s, food safety and environmental health, the presentation within the lawsuit is applicable to FOIA failures in all federal agencies. This 14-page ‘reference’ document is good reading for any concerned citizen who is considering a FOIA lawsuit to compel accountable and transparent performance by agencies.


2-25-14: Hog Wild: Factory Farms are Poisoning Iowa’s Drinking Water

An article by Ted Genoways looks at the explosion of Iowa wean-to-finish hog farm operations, as seen in the last decade. These Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO’s)generate enormous amounts of fecal and urine waste, which ends up contaminating the air, the croplands, and especially the rivers. Nitrate and E. coli levels are climbing well above federal safe limits. See also the related material at wiki, where this quote comes from: “In 1966, it took one million farms to house 57 million pigs; by the year 2001, it only took 80,000 farms to house the same number of pigs.”


‘Miscellany’ Posts prior to 2014 are viewable at: aiREFORM link