Thursday, November 30, 2006

Milk of humankind(ness) unveiled

Breasts were in the news again recently as a nurse-in was held to demand the rights of nursing mothers to breast feed in public. I can't really imagine why someone would object to human breasts. How can you keep them a secret, anyway? It's not enough to be anti-woman and anti-human, this is downright anti-mammalian. You might as well just step forward and reveal yourself as a shape-shifting reptilian if you are going to criticize an innocent mother giving breast milk to a baby! Let the Men In Black deport you back to your quadrant!

On reflection, I realize that reptilian shape-shifters would not reveal themselves from their positions of social power by the blatantly reptilian act of criticizing mammalian breast exposure. The culprits must be another subset of the population. Perhaps they are speculators hoping to gain economically from anti-breastiness. Make people insecure about revealing their own breasts, so they buy formula. Is Nestle the hidden hand behind this whole uproar? Would these same people object if it were not a real breast, but a perfect simulacrum, the iLact8, which looks, feels, tastes, and lactates exactly like a real breast. Introduced by Steve Jobs in conjunction with Disney, the iLact8 could be worn outside the clothing, attached to a business suit with velcro straps. That would weaken the bond of baby and mother. Looking exactly the same, what advantage would it have? Why is real bad and artificial good?

In a related news story, European governments are considering laws to ban the veil. Supporters cite the need for face-to-face communication, the need to see the face for identification purposes, and other excuses. Just scratch the surface of this story to see the hate behind the lie. Do we say these same things in regard to trick-or-treaters, skiers, surgeons, burn victims, people with amputated noses, hideously disfigured persons, and other people who wear masks for other reasons? No. To be fair, let's consider the KKK. As uniformed members of a terrorist organization, they should be detained as illegal combatants if anyone should. Women wearing veils are not necessarily proclaiming membership in a terror organization, such as the Neanderthal Atomic Terror Organization. At the very least (or most?), you may need to pass a law that would require them to reveal their face to law enforcement for identification purposes. Alternatively, a veiled person could carry a biometric ID linked to a fingerprint or palm print, while the officer could be issued with a reader to check the ID against the person. There are culturally sensitive ways to handle this. It is the responsibility of politicians to find these ways and protect the rights of all the people, not to aggravate divisions in society and use the majority as a wedge to power their political engine. The cost is a thousand-year war of civilizations. Just leave people alone. Do we really want to go out of our way to piss (a(nother) billion) people off?

In conclusion, more women should wear veils and breast-feed in public. Just assume the veiled one is hideously deformed either physically or psychically, if it helps you to leave them alone. Nestle, eat your heart out. May the parks, fields, offices, and public transit abound with veiled, topless, breast-feeding women.

C. A. Beard

A commentator to my last post left several interesting remarks. It's great when the comments are better than the original post. Instead of replying as a comment, I will comment here because I am making some new links.

One point was the idea that the government has done so many wrongs, that we should focus on the actual documented wrongs, rather than waste time on as-yet-undocumented conspiracy theories. In other words, we could talk about slavery, or the US overthrow of democratic governments in Central America, Iran, Greece, and so on instead of speculating as to whether the Bush misadministration destroyed the WTC. That seems like a good point, and it is valid. However, I can see two big problems with it. One problem is that today's conspiracy theory is tomorrow's documented fact, and to stop observing, hypothesizing, popularizing, and testing these hypotheses would reduce the likelihood of investigating and collecting enough forensic evidence to settle the question one way or the other. A second problem is that since this event is driving the current political climate, it is more relevant and urgent to determine whether this event is best explained as perpetrated by Arabs with Box Cutters or the Conspirators for a New American Centurion. If the cause is found to be within a vast right-wing think-tank, this discovery would completely change the prevailing political climate.

The commentator in California also mentions that most political events are actually economic ones. I think it is useful to look for that, to follow the money, but some political acts are really political acts, not reducible to economics, such as the right-wing populist laws regarding God, guns, and gays. I don't know that making children pledge allegiance to gods or banning gays from marriage really was done to economically benefit anyone. It was done to manufacture consent among the Base.

Finally, the commentator introduced me to the work of Charles A. Beard. Somehow I missed him in my education, probably just a sick day. Googling around, I found a few choice links related to him.

Charles A. Beard: An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States
link to download site

alternate, closer link to online txt and doc

wiki entry for An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States

go to amazon to read a review or find a cover for the text files

wiki entry for Charles A. Beard

History of the United States
by Charles A. Beard and Mary Ritter Beard
txt and html

McMaster U (Canada) "a large number of significant texts in the history of economic thought"

Saturday, November 25, 2006

We're from the government, and we're here to help (rob, bind, torture, kill, and deceive) you.

The Wikipedia entry for the WTC Controlled Demolition Hypothesis is very well-researched. This will be around at least as long as the JFK conspiracy theories, such as "It was Johnson", which are going on 60. I hope we get some resolution someday, the forensic evidence that will allow the true story (whatever it is) to be written. Seventy-four percent of Americans believe (according to a 1998 CBS News poll) that there was a cover-up in the murder of JFK; ten percent believe Oswald acted alone. At the present time, about a third of Americans think 9-11 was an inside job. We know they lied to get us in a war. How many times does someone have to lie, cheat, and steal before you suspect them of murder and framing someone else for that murder as well?

Friday, November 24, 2006

Annals of the Journal of Contemporary Comparitive Snackology: Air Crunky

Air Crunky awadate matcha chocolate looks like it could be really good, but it is way too sweet.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Archives of the Journal of Contemporary Comparitive Snackology: American Soft Matcha Cookies

These are the American Soft Matcha-Chocolate Chip-Macadamia Nut cookies, just like Gramma used to make, if your Gramma was a tripped-out hippie who mistook her Japanese roommate's matcha (抹茶) for flour, perhaps due to wearing dark green sunglasses to hide her dilated pupils. The green texture takes some getting used to, but will appeal to the ecologically conscious. We taste-tested these right next to some macadamia-nut choco-chip cookies from Starbucks (matcha not included) about six months ago. That probably wasn't fair. These looked small and sickly next to those, and had a soft, and somewhat additive-heavy taste. There was something mysteriously familiar and nostalgic about them, that became clearer when my co-investigater used the word "PlayDo" to describe them. By themselves, though, when not being compared to a Starbucks cookie or PlayDo, they really weren't too bad, and I would consider eating them again if I were eating non-fresh snacks. They also may be worth keeping in stock as earthquake survival food, if the expiration dates are a year or so out… (I don't remember). Now you can eat your tea and drink your corn (just like your nightmare hippie Gramma used to tell you to do).

Journal of Contemporary Comparitive Snackology: Corn Tea Field Notes

I have been looking for ginseng tea, but I can never find it anywhere. It has dropped out from the top ten tea drinks to somewhere below the top forty, with lots of English teas and herb teas covering the shelves of the stores. I couldn't find ginseng tea, even in the Korean stores, so I decided to settle for corn tea -- also a yellow vegetable -- and try that. It's cheap, too.

Corn tea is nothing like corn soup. It has a roasted toasted flavor, but isn't like corn flakes or doritos, either. It tastes a lot like mugi-cha 麦茶, roasted barley tea, (which is a popular summer drink in Japan) but with a naturally sweeter, corn-like flavor after the first mugi-cha-impression.

It's no substitute for ginseng tea, but not bad. I wonder if the ancient civilizations of central america also discovered this drink.

The Korean name for it is oksusu-cha 옥수수차. The packaging you can see has added Japanese to the Korean for marketing to the one or two million Koreans in Japan and anyone else in Japan who might like to drink it.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


"Our Man Perv" makes love in 47 languages!
He's a Karate Champion, Brain Surgeon, Swordsman and Nuclear Physicist…
He's the top Master Spy of all time, with his Cigarette Lighter containing 82 Death-Dealing Devices, his 2 Man-Eating Dogs, his 4 Luscious Playmates and his Love Nest –Built-For-5………
(Actual text from OUR MAN FLINT movie poster. It fits Perv, too, especially the Nuclear Physicist bit.)

Update 2006.11.21: Produced by Richard "Stone Age" Armitage.

UCLA Campus Cop Taser Mania

I was thinking: I suppose it is possible that they will find that the campus police were just doing their job, and the fault lies in the police's rules of engagement. In other words, the victim may have found a bug in their software. If the police rules are not well thought out to match possible realities they may encounter, the overly restrictive instruction set could lead to seemingly inappropriate behavior. By resisting passively, saying he would leave, but just slapping away the police hands and insisting that they not touch him, the victim may have prevented them from Plan A) quietly escorting him out, B) carrying him out, forcing them to go to C) tasering the person until they stop resisting. It is hard to see how Plan B would be impossible, though, if he were handcuffed already. I can't really explain the cops' behavior, but that might be close to one of the possibilities, and I half-expect some kind of excuse like that which would place the blame on an administrator who issued rules of engagement that didn't work in this situation. Even if this excuse were true, you would think they would break away from the training manual when what they were doing became obviously objectionable to all observers. But I guess that is the point of military and police training: not to react as a human being with empathy to another's situation. I am writing this without having heard any news on it for the last few days, so my opinion is as valid as the opinions of the space shuttle astronauts or Antarctic researchers.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

University of Kalifornia, über alles.

I was shocked to see the video of a UCLA student getting tazered at Powell Library. It was especially disturbing because I happen to be a UCLA graduate. Powell Library is one of the oldest buildings on campus, and although its library is not one of the better ones, I used to drop into Powell library in the late afternoons sometimes to read the New York Times. At that time, there were chairs in the rotunda, the afternoon light came in through some windows high on the wall, and you could sit in a comfortable chair to read the papers while listening to the acoustics of the echoing footsteps and voices and appreciating the architecture. (I hope my recollections are accurate, because my memories date from a time when the present students were pre-schoolers.) In contrast, the University Research Library on the north end of campus was uglier and less conveniently located although it had the main collection. It must have been shocking even for the students who were doing some studying to have the very calm, dignified, cultured, quiet, deep atmosphere of the library broken by the screams of a student being tortured by campus police.

There is absolutely no excuse for tazering a student in the library. Had the student been armed with a gun or knife, threatened the officers, or violently resisted them and assaulted them, I could see it as one possible way to stop the assault. The real situation was completely to the contrary: the student had already been handcuffed before the police assault began (unbelievably, but true according to the accounts that I read). It is also not appropriate to assault him in retaliation for his nonviolent resistance. The officers could have gently picked him up and removed him, if they are authorized to physically enforce the removal of people without identification; there were several officers present, so they have no excuse. Finally, the repeated tazering is dangerous and completely inexcusable. This comes close to attempted murder. In conclusion, the UC police were completely wrong, wrong, and wrong. Several people should spend a few years in prison. Experts in civil rights and the public need to review the training and procedures that are being taught to law enforcement personnel, for the University system and Los Angeles county, too.

What is perhaps even more shocking than the assault is that some people are defending the officers, saying that they have a right to do it just because they are in authority. I think that looks bad to the whole world. You do not hear of this happening in Japan or France or London. Consider the history of policing and note that the tazer has not been available for most of the time to most officers, in most of the world, hence they could not lazily resort to it, but might have to use their greatest weapon, their minds and powers of persuasion to try to effect law-abiding behaviors and preserve the public peace. These officers were doing anything but preserving the peace; "Peace Officers" sounds like a sick joke in reference to them. Most of the time these officers do not even need to be armed, really. It looks like these officers were bullies who were bored with their quiet jobs and just itching for a chance to use their tazers. Nobody else who was there interpreted the situation as calling for the use of force that was seen.

The victim claims he was singled out for attention due to racial profiling. Mostafa Tabatabainejad is a 23-year-old Iranian-American. There is a large and affluent ethnically Persian community centered around the Westwood area of Los Angeles where UCLA is located.

I think I first saw the story starting to pop up on Google news and read it here but it is no longer there. The story was posted at this educator's blog , where he cited Bitch as his source. Truthdig, YouTube and Daily Bruin have the video. The LATimes published a report.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

A Week After: Restoration or Escalation?

It was an interesting week last week. After getting out the boat and helping America vomit, the body politic was cleansed of dead political animals and their toxins as Democrats took control of the Congress, and then the Senate, with the defeat of George Felix "Macaca" Allen. The colonic cleansing of the country followed, with the removal of war criminal Rumsfeld from the Pentagon bowels by the "head" of government. Rummy, we hardly knew ye. You were a known unknown. Unfortunately, the replacement was expected to be by former CIA director Robert Gates, a key figure in the Iran-Contra deal and thought to be a negotiator who helped the deal to release the hostages on the eve of Reagan's installation.

The monkey boy king has said he is looking for new ideas for Iraq, now we see a new pattern emerging. Gates can use his contacts in Iran to ship weapons to the the mullah-fakirs again. With inflation and all, the weapons they want will be U.S. nukes this time. (Nobody does it better. ) The Iranian nuclear program will provide excellent cover, so that when they test one to see if the U.S. sold them duds, everyone will think it was homebrewed. With "America's Nemesis!" Daniel Ortega once again in power, Gates can return to funding death squads to terrorize small Central American nations, and kill and rape them until they let United Fruit and Somosa run the government again. A faked crisis and successful invasion of any small, easily-conquered country will give the military a much-need boost to morale, and divert attention away from failures, as the Grenada invasion diverted attention away from 400 dead Marines killed by the bad judgement of the iconic 80s chickenhawk Jellybeans Reagan. The crack operations that the CIA used to run can be scaled up with Langley's new control of the Pentagram, with the resulting crack-fueled stupor and crime leading to a rightward swing and pacification of the increasing U.S. domestic dissent. In exchange for the favor to Iran, the U.S. asks that they take Iraq off our hands, slipping 600,000 of their own agents into the country to shape things as the U.S. pulls out, and they agree to keep things cool and not make the U.S. look bad. Gates' skills will also be useful in avoiding future "gates" – along the lines of Watergate, Iran-Contra-gate, Abu Ghraib-gate, 9-11-gate, memo-gate, Katrina-gate, Gates-gate, and the whatever-gate of insert-your-own-gate-here-gate. The guy is a fixer, in other words, sort of a Johnnie Cochran for the misAdministration.

In other news of the enema was that the man who is currently posing as the American ambassador to the U.N., John Bolton, may not be approved and allowed to become a real ambassador, even by the lame duck congress which is being shown the door. Mr. Bolton was not approved by the full U.S. Senate, as required by law, but was instead a rare "recess appointment", requiring only the approval of the un-pResident himself, his wife, and White House dog Barney. I wonder how they expected the world to recognize him as a representative of the United States, when the United States itself had not yet recognized him in that role. This is the way to influence the U.N. and push them in the direction of ignoring and hating Americans.

I was a little surprised that the new House majority leader, Representative Nancy Pelosi, sat down to eat lunch with the pResident and Vice-torturer Cheney. I may be paranoid, but I can't forget the experience of Viktor Yushchenko, who was served dioxin soup when he sat down with his political enemies, very nearly turning his Orange Revolution into an Agent Orange assassination before it even started, and seriously defoliating his face. (Agent Orange is a product of Monsanto.)
(Chilling "Nancy for lunch" photograph by Stephen Crowley/The New York Times.)

Not everybody is happy about the Democratic tendencies and the Repugnicants loss of power. Some people are worried that the Bushies will not quietly watch their power decline and be walked off to jail. Ted Rall is worried. Also at Smirking Chimp: Cindy Sheehan.

Speaking of paranoia and conspiracy theories, while browsing through anti-black-box-voting site The Brad Blog, I followed a link to and watched some of the videos linked there. There are some allegations that I should have been paying more attention to. I wouldn't dismiss them out of hand; they are worth discussing and debating. These are things that you would feel a lot better about if they could be expertly refuted, but that is not happening. Here are some links:
September 11th Revisited is perhaps the most riveting film ever made about the destruction of the World Trade Center. This is a powerful documentary which features eyewitness accounts and archived news footage that was shot on September 11, 2001 but never replayed on television. Featuring interviews with eyewitnesses & firefighters, along with expert analysis by Professor Steven E. Jones, Professor David Ray Griffin, MIT Engineer Jeffrey King, and Professor James H. Fetzer. This film provides stunning evidence that explosives were used in the complete demolition of the WTC Twin Towers and WTC Building 7.

See how an incendiary flash was launched from the incoming ECM- and explosives-packed JSTARS E-10 that sparked the pyrotechnics of the WTC attack. However, this was just a stage display - it was demolition charges that ultimately brought down the Twin Towers.

William Rodriguez, a janitor, reports an explosion in the basement moments before the airplane hits the North Tower. He was in basement level 1 (the basement has 6 sub levels) when the first explosion occured from under him which traveled up the elevator shaft and burned a co-worker in the basement. To learn more about 9/11, visit

A typical excerpt from the longer movie above. MIT Engineer Breaks Down WTC Controlled Demolition. Jeff King goes into detail why the WTC Towers and WTC 7 were brought down by explosives.
To summarize, as Charlie Sheen says, the real conspiracy theory is the theory that 19 Arab hijackers did this. Consider that no U.S. airplane had been successfully hijacked for decades, no steel frame building has ever collapsed from fire even when completely gutted top to bottom by fire (kerosene-based aircraft fuel burns around 800 degrees while steel melts at 3000 degrees), and there are numerous eyewitness accounts of explosions and injuries throughout the World Trade Center even before the planes hit. You can see the explosions going on (on floors far below the collapsing part) in the WTC as it falls, as in a controlled demolition. The building fell in 6 seconds, a complete free-fall, not compatible with the pancake theory, which engineers say would take about a second or at least a half second for each floor, ten times longer. The second plane is clearly not a commercial airliner, but is a military plane, as shown in photos of the radar equipment protruding from the bottom and the evidence that it was grey and had no windows. Bush's brother (?) was put in charge of security at the WTC before the attack (can this be true?) and Larry Silverstein bought a massive amount of insurance and admitted on TV to "making the decision to pull WTC7".

It wasn't mentioned in the films, but the "New American Century" folks have been talking about the need for a new "Pearl Harbor" to implement their program since the mid-1990s. This provides the rationale: that they had political goals worldwide and domestically that they believed they could only achieve with a galvanizing event.

One more thing I could add to this: No one seems to remember that when Putin was elected, there had been a campaign of blowing up huge apartment buildings in Russia, blamed on the Chechen terrorists. This meshed nicely with Putin's campaign to get tough on the Chechens. Some people pointed out some oddities in the bombing that made it very hard to connect to Chechens. Then, some FSB (formerly KGB) agents were found planting the explosives in an apartment building. Putin was elected anyway. The bombing campaign suddenly went quiet.

It's not such a big jump from that, to the 9-11 conspiracy. Most of the evidence is circumstantial, but it fits what we already know about the Bush cabal. Some other historical precedents for (the theory of) 9-11 as an inside job are the burning of the Reichstag by Hitler, the Gulf of Tonkin attack, and various other incidents, some only planned, others actually executed, through wartime and peacetime history.
Historical Precedents for 9/11/01

The largest single obstacle to people's acceptance of the fact that the 9/11/01 attack was an inside job is the refusal to admit that the "leaders of the free world" would perpetrate such a cruel and deadly hoax. Yet history provides numerous examples in which governments have attacked their own nations, while blaming a target group.

The closest example in many respects is the 1933 Reichstag Fire. Today it is widely believed that the Nazis themselves set the German Reichstag ablaze as an excuse to suspend most civil liberties guaranteed by the 1919 constitution. While Hitler established himself as dictator, the Communists and other minorities were scapegoated.

There are several examples in the United States of precedents for 9/11/01 as an inside job, in one or more of the following respects.

  • Authorities ignore warnings and allow attack on their own people to proceed.
  • Authorities engineer an attack on their own people.
  • Authorities falsely blame a target group or individual for the attack, and use the incident to violate human rights and justify military adventurism.
  • Authorities destroy evidence and sabotage investigations.
I thought that was well-written, demonstrably true, and what people need to know. An informed and alert citizenry that knows that these things have occured in the past and may occur in the future is the best way to prevent governments from daring to try to manipulate people with such tactics in the future. We also need a media that dares to ask questions.
More at

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Help America Vomit (feel better now?)

Despite a certain predictable noughtian amount of voter intimidation and vote-hacking, the will of the people has prevailed, as independent voters have given up on giving Bush time to pursue his war. In 2004, it was only about 18 months into the war. They could give him the benefit of the vote. Patience has run out with the obvious incompetence displayed during Katrina. Rovian politronics can only swing 5 or 10% of the vote, not enough the pacify the independents and badly-shagged-by-gay-old-party-evangelical born-agins, whose young'uns are dying in Iraq for corporate profits.

The four-year-long experiment with a one-party republicant dictatorship is over. Checks and balances are back. Viva los checks and balances!

The chickenhawk is now officially lame, making feeble quacking noises, with clipped wings and a broken leg or two to stand on.

Repeal the traitorous and un-American patRIOT Act. Restore the rule of law! Let the investigations begin! Restore the Constitution. Incarcerate the traitorous Bushian kleptocrats.

Excuse me. I had to get that out of my system.

Can America now have automatic universal voter registration, like a developed country? Remember the Census, which asked all kinds of intimate questions for the benefit of corporate marketing? The census can be used to automatically register voters, particularly if a current driver's license, passport application, or other document matches up. You should only need to "register" if you have recently moved, and all official records of your residence are out-of-date. It works in Canada, Australia, Germany, and most countries. You might object to some elections commission combing through these databases in order to build an accurate list of voters, but please note that they are already going through these lists in a much rougher way, and for the purpose of deleting voters from the lists! Perhaps automatic voter registration could be one of the first acts of the newly democratic congress. They must have a lot of ideas after 12 years in the congressional wilderness.

Military Commissions Act of 2006

Even the cash-stream media mouthpiece at MSNBC seemed shocked to learn that we had lost the right to know what crimes we are charged with and can now be detained for no particular reason.

Today 10-17-06, President (King) Bush signed a bill that officially dissolved the United States Constitution. This law takes away The Writ of Habeas Corpus that allows for the right to have an attorney and the knowledge of crimes a person being charged with. Also unlawful detention. They hide this within the Detainee Combatant Bill. It allows the President to declare ANYONE, ANYWHERE AN ENEMY COMBATANT, THIS INCLUDES U.S. CITIZENS, FOR ANY REASON ANYTIME. People. WAKE UP!!!! We have LOST OUR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS!!!!! TODAY 10-17-06, The Day The U.S. Bill Of Rights Died.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Iraq for Sale

The Robert Greenwald documentary film Iraq For Sale is also online.

Iraq for Sale site.

Via Bob Geiger.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Sandinista! and the ugly American media.

I was shocked this morning to hear CBS's Katie Couric (? or whatever her name is) refer to "U.S. nemesis Daniel Ortega". At least, that is what I think I heard her say. Other media called him "an old Cold War enemy". Printed media tends to be less hostile than televised media. I was forced to face the facts: Americans still haven't given up imperialist schemes to dominate Nicaragua.

What did Daniel Ortega and the Sandinistas ever do to become the "nemesis" of the United States?
They overthrew a dictatorship. (an American-made dictatorship)
They established constitutional government after four and a half decades of the corrupt U.S.-made-and-supported Somoza dictatorship.
They set up a democracy. Nicaragua has had free elections since 1984.
They raised the literacy rate from 50% to 88%.
They set up a national effort to improve health care.
They expanded civil liberties after overthrowing the dictatorship.

What did the U.S. do to Nicaragua?
The U.S. invaded and occupied the country from 1922 to 1934.
The U.S. killed the popular charismatic leaders of Nicaragua.
The U.S. established a brutal dictatorship to run Nicaragua for 43 years from 1936 to 1979.
The U.S. used the CIA to finance, arm, and train former members of Somoza's National Guard as Contras.
The U.S.-backed Contras mined Nicaragua's harbors, raped, tortured, and killed Nicaraguans.
The U.S. raised money for these death squads by selling arms to Iran and crack cocaine in U.S. cities, through a deal between Oliver North and Manual Noriega.
The U.S. continues to manipulate events in Nicaragua through financial aid and advice to regressive political parties there.

The U.S. owes Nicaragua an apology. We should face the responsibility for what we have done, cease all meddling, and begin to make amends in a new relationship based on equality.

Other colonial powers also sometimes tend to have a condescending and hostile attitude toward former colonies, partly out of shame, like a man who has raped a woman, and is enraged with some form of self-hate when he sees her again. We see this in Japan and Europe, too. Even if the rapist was your grandfather, not you, you need to educate yourself, climb up from your ignorant state, and face the reality squarely and without affectation.

In an ideal world, the newscasters should be the first to find and face reality, but being corporate news networks (cash-stream media or CSM) whores, they will never deliver reality but only twisted reflections distorted by greed, guilt, arrogance, manufactured needs and desires, and those other aspects of the corrupt system… and inner evil wolf. I didn't mean Blitzer, the bastard child of a wolf and one of Satan Klaus's material girl reindeer.

FSLN stands for Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional.

More information:


Monday, November 06, 2006

German Researchers Boost Memory with Electrical Stimulation of Brain Sleep-cycle

Metacognitive defibrillation, once only a wackedelic subheading existing in the realm of science fiction and metaphor, is now within the reach of medical science. Actually, it may be more cognitive than metacognitive, at this point, and doesn't rise to the level of defibrillation so much as the voltage of, say, a smoke alarm. The news is that German scientists report that low-level stimulation of the brain in a slow-wave oscillation results in improved memory. Abstract at
To quote a few small words from the abstract:

Nature advance online publication
5 November 2006
doi:10.1038/nature05278; Received 19 July 2006; Accepted 25 September 2006; Published online 5 November 2006
Boosting slow oscillations during sleep potentiates memory

Lisa Marshall, Halla Helgadóttir, Matthias Mölle and Jan Born

There is compelling evidence that sleep contributes to the long-term consolidation of new memories. This function of sleep has been linked to slow ( under 1 Hz) potential oscillations, which predominantly arise from the prefrontal neocortex and characterize slow wave sleep. However, oscillations in brain potentials are commonly considered to be mere epiphenomena that reflect synchronized activity arising from neuronal networks, which links the membrane and synaptic processes of these neurons in time. Whether brain potentials and their extracellular equivalent have any physiological meaning per se is unclear, but can easily be investigated by inducing the extracellular oscillating potential fields of interest. Here we show that inducing slow oscillation-like potential fields by transcranial application of oscillating potentials (0.75 Hz) during early nocturnal non-rapid-eye-movement sleep, that is, a period of emerging slow wave sleep, enhances the retention of hippocampus-dependent declarative memories in healthy humans. The slowly oscillating potential stimulation induced an immediate increase in slow wave sleep, endogenous cortical slow oscillations and slow spindle activity in the frontal cortex. Brain stimulation with oscillations at 5 Hz—another frequency band that normally predominates during rapid-eye-movement sleep—decreased slow oscillations and left declarative memory unchanged. Our findings indicate that endogenous slow potential oscillations have a causal role in the sleep-associated consolidation of memory, and that this role is enhanced by field effects in cortical extracellular space.
That was the whole abstract. Do you think they'd sue? I couldn't find a good line to summarize it and give enough context. I bet that was just one sentence in German. Who would have ever thought of juicing the brains of people falling asleep? Note that they say the benefits appear with under 1 hertz oscillations, and disappear with 5 hertz oscillations, just the opposite of overclocking. Epiphenomena, my foot! Transcranial… spindle… in cortical extracellular space: all are words that you should try to weave seamlessly into today's conversations (and/or written memoranda).

Electronic brain-jacking experts speculate that the memory-boosting procedure will not become a common therapy, due to the unknown nature of the side effects, but may make up an increasing percentage of emergency-room admissions during finals week as medical students experiment in modding their own memories. Other applications of the technology may exist. May all of your nocturnal transcranial epiphenomena potentiate your oscillating neocortical spindle.

Whimsical Wizardry

Some interesting images are available for your viewing at the Wizard of Whimsy, urging the chimpeachment of the unpresident, among other visually-conveyed thoughts.

Cherokee Nation Will Return

I got this e-mail ephemera (huh?) in my inbox the other day (from a non-Cherokee). It seemed like I'd seen it before.

"Native American Wisdom"

An old Cherokee was teaching his grandson about life. "A fight is
going on inside me," he said to the boy. "It is a terrible fight,
and it is between two wolves.

"One is evil--he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance,
self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride,
superiority, and ego.

"The other is good--he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity,
humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth,
compassion, and faith.

"This same fight is going on inside you and inside every other
person, too."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his
grandfather, "Which wolf will win?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."
I read it and fired off a quick "reply to all" as follows:
Dear Dances-with-Wolves Landers,

Thank you for your ancient wisdom.

In my case, my inner poodle is always barking and biting in a fight
with my inner Golden Retriever. What should I do?

Barks-at-moon-and-bites-off-chicken-heads Wilson

Dear BAMaBOCH Wilson,

In your case, do not feed either dog. Shoot dogs, and get cat instead.

Your old Cherokee wise guy,
Dances-with-Wolves Landers

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Discovery Engines and Music

I was playing around with the liveplasma "discovery engine" –way back in May. I don't know how much it has changed since. (Not much, it seems.) These are some screenshots that I kept on my computer. LivePlasma is a combination of what you could learn from Amazon (what people who bought this product also bought), AllMusicGuide (related artists), the iTunes store (a copy of Amazon), and from file sharing (you can browse the shared files of people who have rare tracks that you like, and discover new music that way, even without downloading or sharing files – but I suppose just doing that is illegal, too??). Wouldn't it be easier to just chat with someone? Yeah, sure, I suppose, once you find someone who shares your taste, but it takes time and I'm lazy and in a hurry.

I like the visualization. It was kinda interesting to see how they mapped out the relationships between the bands. It probably looks different every time you load it. I don't know what the source data is, but the bubbles keep drifting and swimming around. Some bubbles are bigger like gas giants Jupiter or Neptune. Does that represent popularity? And are the colors for time periods?

Speaking of discovering new music, too bad about Tower Records going out of business, but I often wondered how they could possibly stay in business. Nothing to see there but lots of shrinkwrapped plastic CD cases. How are you supposed to decide what to buy? You have to know before you come in. Sure, there are a few listening stations, but they have about 1% of the catalog that is in the store. To have a successful brick-and-mortar store, you should be able to hear all the music in the store. Put the CDs away out of sight. Have listening and viewing stations where you can see the album (and which ones are in store in stock), browse other work by the musicians, link to related bands (a store like Tower should have built a huge buyer preferences database by now), and discover new music that you would want to buy. You would probably have to charge people just to come in and sit down, so maybe serve them a soft drink or coffee, too (waterproof the keyboard, mouse, and headphones). The cost to use it could be about the cost of a CD. If you buy a CD, you get (some of) the money back, it is like a deposit or incentive to go ahead and buy something since you paid to use the facilities anyway. Let customers buy single tracks and combine them to put together their own mix on a CD, too. Limit the time to an hour or two. Prohibit computers or capture of the audio served in the store.

Such a system is a big change from the Tower Records kind of store. They probably could not have successfully transitioned to such a model. This kind of store will probably emerge from internet cafés or music coffeeshops rather than from the old music stores, once the old style stores have fallen away.

I think the price of music still needs to fall. I can see it falling from 99 cents to something like 10 cents a track. I would buy ten times as much music if it were ten times cheaper. I would buy an album a day for a dollar, and spend more on music than I spend now, when it is expensive and shrinkwrapped and locked away unlistenably. I can listen to hundreds of songs on the radio, and realize that I don't have one of them, although I may like them all. Let me buy them, cheap. It will be worth it. They used to let us all listen to everything for free on the radio, and never worried about it. For most people, that was good enough. I never bought popular music for years since I could hear the Beatles any time I turned on a radio. Free mp3s may be a problem, but at least they promote the artist and sell concert tickets and even CDs (for the better quality). Cheap music files would seem to make more business sense, given the economics of production, reproduction, and distribution (which have all gotten cheaper).

Artists will always make good money from concerts. In the future, instead of a hundred millionaire musicians, there will be many thousands who make $30,000, $50,000, $200,000 a year. Eventually, I can see music going for a penny a track. Instead of selling a million, sell one-hundred million. Make it cheaper to just buy it than to go to the trouble of making an illegal copy.

The music industry should stop acting as if they have a monopoly. Anyone can "record music" or make a recording now. They are not needed for distribution, either. Their position is like that of ancient "scribes", who had no real professional role in the world once everybody could read and write. Become a teacher.

One possible function for the music industry is to release DVD-like multitrack recordings which users would then tweak with their own remixes. The original files would be so huge and holographically complex as to discourage attempts to copy, but the remix files would be small files that would play the music from the original disk in the programmed way. Or they could be a stand-alone music file. If these remixes were to become popular, most of the money would go to the original artist, with a small share for the DJ remixer.

Just trying to be helpful, RIAA. Stop trying to stop the circulation and popularization of music. That is the opposite of your original function! Get creative, why don't you?

Some interesting things are going on here:

Friday, November 03, 2006

Unprecedented, Unconstitutional, and Uncovered

Unprecedented: The 2000 Presidential Election documents the destruction of democracy in the United States, with a focus on the electoral corruption in Florida.

Also available for viewing at
The official web site is

Unconstitutional: The War on Our Civil Liberties shows how the Patriot Act has led to the arrest and indefinite detainment of American citizens and non-citizens without trial, illegal under the U.S. Constitution and the Geneva Conventions.

It is also available at

Uncovered: The Whole Truth about the Iraq War (also titled Uncovered: The War on Iraq) tells the story of the Iraq war through a series of interviews.

You can also find it at:
The official web site for the film is:
Producer/director Robert Greenwald (blog/wiki/imdb) has generously made the raw footage of interviews with former government officials such as John Dean, Madeleine Albright, and Admiral Stansfield Turner available for download and editing at

Greenwald has also produced Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers (2006), The Big Buy: Tom DeLay's Stolen Congress (2006), Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price (2005), Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism (2004), and The Crooked E: The Unshredded Truth About Enron (2003).

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Deutchland über iTunes (Ich bin ein Berliner.)

Many people seem to be having problems today as they install an iTunes update and find that their iTunes Music store is turning Japanese, French, German, or a random nationality. Mein store was Deutsch, not American or Japanese, which I would have understood. My hypothesis is that the presence of the Sieg Howdy! album by Jello Biafra with the Melvins, –or perhaps a genealogical analysis– linked me to the German site. You can fix this problem by scrolling down to the bottom of the page, and selecting your country from a pull-down menu. Fixxen sie diese schitt bei downgeschkollen nach ze gebottom auf der iTunes page und zelektink ze korrekt nazionalitie aus von ze choices dar offerten. After a year of university German I still only speak the dialekt of German known as "Hollywood Nazi". Here is a MT Deutsch version: Sie können dieses Problem befestigen, indem Sie unten an der Unterseite der Seite scrolling, und Ihr Land von einem pull-down Menü auswählen. As far as being lucky goes in being misassigned a store, there are few countries in the world with pop müsick as bad as the Germans, in my opinion, although they did have Einstürzende Neubauten and probably a lot of other wunderbar bands like that which I don't know about, so I speak from ignorance.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Fetching the album art

I use Fetchart to add art to music which is archived on one hard drive attached to an old slot-loading-dvd iMac (Y2K model?). The first time I ran it, instead of running it from the pull-down script within iTunes, I just started Fetchart. It promptly started fetching art for each of the four thousand or so tracks in iTunes. It was a Thursday. A week later on Friday, when I left it, it was almost finished. I got back to it the next Wednesday and it was done, having taking something between 9 and 13 days to finish. I thought it might have been better if the programmer didn't have it do that as the default. It does make it easy for the people who would otherwise just look at it, wondering how to get started.

Fetchart saves a copy of all the album art it scrapes off of Amazon's XML in a folder located in user/Library/Application Support/Fetchart. Select that folder to be used as a source for your screen saver and you can see all your album art go by as a screen saver. It simulates a deranged robot in the corner who won't stop flipping through your albums.

I know the newest iTunes will fetch the album art, but I prefer the things that Fetchart does; I don't know if iTunes does them. ITunes also collects your personal information to enable that function.

I dropped some of those onto Text Edit, saved the rtfd and reopened it in Pages, resized each to 6 cm to make them equal, exported as (2) pdf, and then resaved that in Preview as jpeg to make a picture of album art for some tracks that I was listening to recently. There probably is an easier way, but that's the state of my ability.