Junk Food

Cat eyes, 2009/07/31 

Patty Larkin and Junk Food

What’s wrong with me? I preserved thirty pounds of squash, made about a gallon of tomato sauce, and pickled 24 + pints of beans, cucumbers, peppers, carrots, and melon.
Super-size the garden. Mc .. mc .. . mc what?

Gopocracy: Violent, Ignorant, Incompetent.


Right-Wing Harassment Strategy Against Dems Detailed In Memo: ‘Yell,’ ‘Stand Up And Shout Out,’ ‘Rattle Him’
http://thinkprogress.org/2009/07/31/recess… /

This morning, Politico reported that Democratic members of Congress are increasingly being harassed by “angry, sign-carrying mobs and disruptive behavior” at local town halls. For example, in one incident, right-wing protesters surrounded Rep. Tim Bishop (D-NY) and forced police officers to have to escort him to his car for safety.

This growing phenomenon is often marked by violence and absurdity. Recently, right-wing demonstrators hung Rep. Frank Kratovil (D-MD) in effigy outside of his office. Missing from the reporting of these stories is the fact that much of these protests are coordinated by public relations firms and lobbyists who have a stake in opposing President Obama’s reforms.

The lobbyist-run groups Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks, which orchestrated the anti-Obama tea parties earlier this year, are now pursuing an aggressive strategy to create an image of mass public opposition to health care and clean energy reform. A leaked memo from Bob MacGuffie, a volunteer with the FreedomWorks website Tea Party Patriots, details how members should be infiltrating town halls and harassing Democratic members of Congress:


– Artificially Inflate Your Numbers: “Spread out in the hall and try to be in the front half. The objective is to put the Rep on the defensive with your questions and follow-up. The Rep should be made to feel that a majority, and if not, a significant portion of at least the audience, opposes the socialist agenda of Washington.”

– Be Disruptive Early And Often: “You need to rock-the-boat early in the Rep’s presentation, Watch for an opportunity to yell out and challenge the Rep’s statements early.”

– Try To “Rattle Him,” Not Have An Intelligent Debate: “The goal is to rattle him, get him off his prepared script and agenda. If he says something outrageous, stand up and shout out and sit right back down. Look for these opportunities before he even takes questions.”

The memo above also resembles the talking points being distributed by FreedomWorks for pushing an anti-health reform assault all summer. Patients United, a front group maintained by Americans for Prosperity, is currently busing people all over the country for more protests against Democratic members. Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), chairman of the NRCC, has endorsed the strategy, telling the Politico the days of civil town halls are now “over.”

Meanwhile, AHIP, the trade group and lobbying juggernaut representing the health insurance industry is sending staffers to monitor town halls and other right-wing front groups are stepping up their ad campaign to smear reform efforts. The strategy for defeating reform — recently outlined by an influential lobbyist to the Hill newspaper as “delay” then “kill” — is becoming apparent. By delaying a vote until after the August recess, lobbyists are now seizing upon recess town halls as opportunities to ambush lawmakers and fool them into believing there is wide opposition to reform.

They’re really Riding The Tiger these days. Obama’s not the President, he wants to kill old people, he’s a racist, he’s a socialist. Big cultural lies being programmed into the wingnut mass by the Puppet Masters that will surface eventually as violence and murder, since the wingnuttier one is, the more fearful and violence-prone one is.

Republican Dialogue requires capitulation. Lack of capitulation brings out loud, wildly critical attacks. Capitulation means further catastrophe. No compromise is permitted.

Spoiled, cruel, children. Acting in concert. Having to be dragged into the future. Blergh. Our Curse.

Shatner reads Palin

Max, 2009/07/28 

View it while you can. Much better embed:

Lies And The Lying GOP Liars Who Tell Them.

byronius, 2009/07/27 

Top Ten Conservative Idiots

#2: The GOP.

You’ve got to hand it to those Republicans though – when it comes to the perils of health insurance reform, they’ve got the facts on their side. According to the Washington Post:

“The political battle over health-care reform is waged largely with numbers, and few number-crunchers have shaped the debate as much as the Lewin Group, a consulting firm whose research has been widely cited by opponents of a public insurance option.”

To Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, the House Republican whip, it is “the nonpartisan Lewin Group.” To Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee, it is an “independent research firm.” To Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, the second-ranking Republican on the pivotal Finance Committee, it is “well known as one of the most nonpartisan groups in the country.”

So there you have it. It’s a well known fact that the Lewin Group is a bastion of nonpartisanship, and has nothing at all to do with any health insurance companies – certainly not UnitedHealth Group, the company I mentioned in the previous item that just declared a 150% increase in profits.

“Generally left unsaid amid all the citations is that the Lewin Group is wholly owned by UnitedHealth Group, one of the nation’s largest insurers.”

Oh, I see.

This week’s Top Ten is an important read. So much complete bullshit is flying from the mouths of right wingers everywhere, a reality check is in order.

In Top Ten #1, Earl G describes reports of health insurance premiums in California rising by as much as 28%.

My company’s health insurance premiums, for bottom-of-the barrel coverage, rose by over 30% in March, on top of a 20% increase last year.

So you’ll understand when I say that health insurance is an Amway-based multilevel marketing scam, and the worst health care delivery system possible, unless you’re a Republican douchebag, in which case it’s absolutely perfect. A moral compass that points directly south at all times would lead one to such a conclusion, similar to conclusions like: Torture is Freedom, Pre-emptive War is Profitable, The Rich are beloved of God because they are Rich, and so forth. You know the list.

Jupiter in the Headlines

Cat eyes, 2009/07/25 

“Jupiter: Our Cosmic Protector?”
This is a headline from the NY Times. Part of the story reads:

Anthony Wesley, the Australian amateur astronomer who first noticed the mark on Jupiter and sounded the alarm on Sunday, paid homage to that notion when he told The Sydney Morning Herald, “If anything like that had hit the Earth it would have been curtains for us, so we can feel very happy that Jupiter is doing its vacuum-cleaner job and hoovering up all these large pieces before they come for us.”

But is this warm and fuzzy image of the King of Planets as father-protector really true?

“I really question this idea,” said Brian G. Marsden of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, referring to Jupiter as our guardian planet. As the former director of the International Astronomical Union’s Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams, he has spent his career keeping track of wayward objects, particularly comets, in the solar system.

Jupiter is just as much a menace as a savior, he said. The big planet throws a lot of comets out of the solar system, but it also throws them in.

Take, for example, Comet Lexell, named after the Swedish astronomer Anders Lexell. In 1770 it whizzed only a million miles from the Earth, missing us by a cosmic whisker, Dr. Marsden said. That comet had come streaking in from the outer solar system three years earlier and passed close to Jupiter, which diverted it into a new orbit and straight toward Earth.

But Jupiter helps protect us, he said, from an even more dangerous band of comets coming from the so-called Oort Cloud, a vast spherical deep-freeze surrounding the solar system as far as a light-year from the Sun. Every once in a while, in response to gravitational nudges from a passing star or gas cloud, a comet is unleashed from storage and comes crashing inward.

Asteroids pose the greatest danger of all to Earth, however, astronomers say, and here Jupiter’s influence is hardly assuring. Mostly asteroids live peacefully in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, whose gravity, so the standard story goes, keeps them too stirred to coalesce into a planet but can cause them to collide and rebound in the direction of Earth.

Read the full story at Jupiter’s temperment.

True Love.

byronius, 2009/07/24 

Huffington Post

I’ve returned from Personal Hell. Well, not really. I’m Still There(tm).

Notorious American Gullibility

Cat eyes, 2009/07/21 

It seems only natural that some Americans adopted the belief that landing on the Moon was a hoax. After all some Americans believed this . . .

“We counted three parties of these creatures, of twelve, nine and fifteen in each, walking erect towards a small wood… Certainly they were like human beings, for their wings had now disappeared and their attitude in walking was both erect and dignified… About half of the first party had passed beyond our canvas; but of all the others we had perfectly distinct and deliberate view. They averaged four feet in height, were covered, except on the face, with short and glossy copper-colored hair, and had wings composed of a thin membrane, without hair, lying snugly upon their backs from the top of the shoulders to the calves of their legs.
The face, which was of a yellowish color, was an improvement upon that of the large orangutan… so much so that but for their long wings they would look as well on a parade ground as some of the old cockney militia. The hair of the head was a darker color than that of the body, closely curled but apparently not woolly, and arranged in two circles over the temples of the forehead. Their feet could only be seen as they were alternately lifted in walking; but from what we could see of them in so transient a view they appeared thin and very protuberant at the heel…We could perceive that their wings possessed great expansion and were similar in structure of those of the bat, being a semitransparent membrane expanded in curvilinear divisions by means of straight radii, united at the back by dorsal integuments. But what astonished us most was the circumstance of this membrane being continued from the shoulders to the legs, united all the way down, though gradually decreasing in width. The wings seemed completely under the command of volition, for those of the creatures whom we saw bathing in the water spread them instantly to their full width, waved them as ducks do theirs to shake off the water, and then as instantly closed them again in a compact form.

. . . . in 1835. It was published in the New York Sun by Richard Locke under a pseudonym. It was reported to have been the findings of Sir John Herschel, the British astronomer. Sales skyrocketed. The paper never officially retracted the story although it was admitted after a few weeks to have been a hoax. As a result many people clung to belief in the story. Speculation holds that Locke wrote the story in part to mock the gullibility of Americans. Edgar Allan Poe actually tried to evince the same kind of story a few months before Locke, but Poe’s overt cynicism and satirical tone betrayed the piece as fiction. It is also speculated that Locke wrote the article in part as a response to the enthusiastic and unquestioned acceptance of the writings and claims made by Rev. Thomas Dick, who was known as “The Christian Philosopher” after the title of his first book. Dick had computed that the Solar System contained 21,891,974,404,480 inhabitants, with the Moon alone, by his count, having some 4,200,000,000 inhabitants.

Although to be fair to Dick, he truly was inspired by science, especially astronomy. He made serious efforts to ameliorate the widening schist between hard science and theology, as many noteworthy men of his time did as well. However, I seriously doubt any such construct could ever be considered valid since faith and science are opposites in forms of thinking. But what this should serve as an excellent example of is the neuropsychology of the human mind. Confirmation bias at its worst comes to mind immediately. We often see and believe what we already want to see or already believe. When stories we have believed turnout to be false, we need to laugh at our gullibility and be thankful that we have learned we were wrong. Which brings me full-circle, the American public still is locked into a hard-line confirmation bias in scientific arenas, creationism in particular note. The storytelling abilities of those under severe cognitive dissonance is profound, even if nonsensical, itself contradictory, and likely to be costly. Formal retractions serve us all best in the long run.

The cliche ‘let the buyer beware’ certainly holds for belief systems. When we have invested in a particular belief we dread giving it up because of another human foible known as sunk cost. We just hate to abandon anything into which we have invested and will invest more and more and more in proportion to how much we have already invested. Yes, it is a bit like a feed-back loop of the auditory kind. The best way to circumvent a feeling of complete loss is to recognize that mistakes are valuable. Often far more so than getting it right. Religion has invested a great deal in marketing itself as the knowledge source. But its knowledge has been a basket of mistake after mistake. As long as we keep anteing up in the collection trays so that we can repeat the same mistakes over and over – (are they really that much fun?) – (and isn’t that the definition of insanity by in large) – we cannot advance. Lemming mentality did not get us to the Moon. We made a lot of mistakes but we recognized them as such and that’s what got us to the Moon.

We landed on the Moon. Several times. No trace of life has ever been found, even life as we would hardly recognize it. We seem harshly isolated to our own little blue planet. If we don’t adapt to believing that life is uncertain, that science is the closest thing we have to a ‘get out of jail’ card, and that if we don’t start living up to our self-appointed moniker, H. sapien, we will become extinct and some other life form will eventually evolve to fill our vacancy. And that is no hoax.

so cool

Max, 2009/07/17 

We can actually see a path on the Moon made by human feet!

Apollo 14 site from LRO

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) in orbit around the moon was able to capture images of six of the seven Apollo landing sites. The one of Apollo 14 above, was particularly detailed, including the lunar module, its shadow, some scientific instruments, and a footpath made by the astronauts. Major wow.


A note from the bold side

Max, 2009/07/16 


For the past four years, NASA has been on a path to resume lunar exploration with people, duplicating (in a more complicated fashion) what Neil, Mike and our colleagues did four decades ago. But this approach — called the “Vision for Space Exploration” — is not visionary; nor will it ultimately be successful in restoring American space leadership. Like its Apollo predecessor, this plan will prove to be a dead end littered with broken spacecraft, broken dreams and broken policies.

Instead, I propose a new Unified Space Vision, a plan to ensure American space leadership for the 21st century. It wouldn’t require building new rockets from scratch, as current plans do, and it would make maximum use of the capabilities we have without breaking the bank. It is a reasonable and affordable plan — if we again think in visionary terms.

-Buzz Aldrin

Read Time to Boldly Go Once More

Planet and Sky project website up

Max, 2009/07/12 

The Reunion of Soul and Body - William Blake
The Reunion of the Soul and Body – William Blake
Version Alpha1

Pretty limited appeal visually at this point, but rich in unrepentant nerdliness as Byronius would say.

There are full lyrics for each song (where complete), an overview of the opera and each scene and it how it came or is coming to be. Notes on status, a few recordings to download (so far), etc.

If all you do at this point is scan through the overviews you’ll get a good sense of what the project’s about.

Feedback welcome, I think.

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