Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Fractal Theory of Canada


Given a community A and an adjacent community C, such that A is prosperous and populous, and C is less populous and prosperous, and nonreciprocal interest of C in the internal affairs of A, often C will need ego compensation by occasional noisy and noisome display of its superiority over A. In this case C is said to be the canada of A, C = canada(A).

For example, it has been previously established that

canada(California) = Oregon
canada(New York) = New Hampshire
canada(Australia) = New Zealand
canada(England) = Scotland

The Fractal Theory of Canada.

For all A there exists C such that

C = canada(A)

For example,
canada(USA) = Canada
canada(Canada) = Quebec
canada(Quebec) = Celine Dion

It would appear that the hierarchy would bottom out an individual. However an individual is actually a community of tissues, tissues of cells, cells of molecules, and so forth down into the quantuum froth.

canada(brain) = pineal gland
canada(intestines) = colon
canada(electron) = neutrino

and so on. There is no bottom.

"My God! It's full of Canadas!"

Stolen, in its entirety from my beloved Language Log, here.

An empty box

In Kentucky at least, big time trouble for, well, any bank that thinks that it holds a mortgage and anyone that thinks that they have invested in a CDO.

Veddy interesting: here's a deposition that discusses how some of that fraud happened. Hint: it involved making stuff up.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Foreclosure Mess Getting Interesting

Wells Fargo Mortgage Foreclosure invalid because Wells Fargo can't prove they own the Mortgage, if you happen to live in King County, NY. read the case here.

You might notice how annoyed the judge is, when you are at it.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

You thought we had a housing bubble?

In Beijing,
Real, constant quality land values have increased by nearly 800% since the first quarter of 2003,....

Keynes was right. For an example, see how well Germany is doing.

From Der Spiegel:
During the worst of the global financial meltdown, Berlin pumped tens of billions of euros into the economy and spent hundreds of billions propping up German banks. Now, the country is reaping the benefits as Germany is once again Europe's economic motor.

Why can't some politician see Economics as a science rather than as a political philosophy?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

It's good to be really really rich; everyone else is out of luck.

The Disequilibria blog has a post up that neatly breaks down all of the income gains for the last 10 years or so.

They all went to the top .1% of earners. The top one tenth of one percent. They made great fistfuls of money.

The rest of us are poorer. This is why we're in a recession/rapidly shading to depression. No one has any money to buy anything but for a handful of aristocrats.

The blog Naked Capitalism has more, here, "58% of real income growth went to top 1% since 1976."

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Marvin Gaye for the 4th

The Star Spangled Banner, what else?

And a little Jimi comin' over, showing us what the whammy bar, and the US, is really about

When I was at BYU, we were all supposed to pause at 8:00 when the Star Spangled Banner was playing. Needless to say, I often didn't. This is the version I really wanted coming out of those loudspeakers.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Someone really really rich gets it.

The great depression was ended by a class traitor. Franklin Delano Roosevelt came from one of the richest families in America. But, he caught polio as a youngish adult and couldn't walk. He could, however, drive. He drove everywhere, zigzagging across
America. He'd stop his car and talk to people on the road, just average citizens, and somehow learned what it was like to not live in the bubble of wealth. When he became president, he was not beholden to his family or his (extremely upper) class. Taxes on the rich went way up, laws to protect the poor were enacted.

We're back to the same class structure as existed just barely before the great depression--a huge amount of the wealth in the country is in the hands of just a tiny handful of people.

Here's how one person describes the inequality:

If we divide the wealth of the US into thirds, we find that the top one percent own a third, the next nine percent own another third, and the bottom ninety percent claim the rest. (Actually, these percentages, true a decade ago, are now out of date. The top one percent are now estimated to own between forty and fifty percent of the nation's wealth, more than the combined wealth of the bottom 95%.)

When half the wealth of the entire country is concentrated in a tiny percentage of the population it impoverishes the other 99%. One percent of the population simply cannot go out to dinner often enough to support restaurants, cannot go to the theatre enough to support the arts, cannot buy enough clothes to support clothing stores, and so on. The engine of our economy is the middle class. We know what happens when the middle class doesn't have enough money to spend because it's being hogged by a tiny handful of people, because it has happened before: it was called the Great Depression. Currently, the distribution of money betwixt and between the rich and poor is just about the same as it was in 1929. How fun.

Andy Grove, one of the founders of Intel and a genuine rich person understands the quandry we're in. Read about it here. I doubt that he'll run for public office, however.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A Very Young Rod Sings Acapella

Oh Rod Stewart, what happened to you?

Here's one more from 1972--with Rod reading the lyrics for "You Wear it Well."

Curiously enough, the band seems to be following some sort of dress code; everyone has to wear yellow. Except the violin player, who looks like someone's dad.

Last one, live Faces from 1973.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

We're funding both sides of the war in Afghanistan!

Yeppers, that's right. We're paying contractors, who are paying off the Taliban to let the contractors employees work without getting killed. The Taliban are then taking your and my tax dollars and using it to kill fellow Americans. A perfect circle. Whar are we doing over there, again?

Private security contractors protecting the convoys that supply U.S. military bases in Afghanistan are paying millions of dollars a week in "passage bribes" to the Taliban and other insurgent groups to travel along Afghan roads, a congressional investigation released Monday has found.

The payments, which are reimbursed by the U.S. government, help fund the very enemy the U.S. is attempting to defeat and renew questions about the U.S. dependence on private contractors, who outnumber American troops in Afghanistan, 130,000 to 93,000.

From McClatchy News Service.
Read more:

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Remember that last oil crisis? Summer of '08? When prices were so high?

Here's an explanation of how they pulled it off; notice that BP was one of the players.

According to [Victor] Davis, the scam starts in 2000 with the formation of the ICE - the Intercontinental Exchange. The ICE - founded by Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, BP, Total, Shell, Deutsche Bank and Societe Generale - is an online commodities and futures marketplace that exists outside the US and operates free from the constraints of US laws.

After a Congressional investigation into energy trading in 2003, the ICE was found to be facilitating "round-trip" trades. This is where one firm sells energy to another, and then the second firm sells the same amount of energy back to the first company, at the same time and at the exact same price, as told by Davis.

No commodity ever changes hands

Quite shockingly no commodity ever changes hands, but the transactions still send a signal to the market, artificially boosting company revenue. Angry yet? There's more.

Because the trading is unregulated by Washington, its difficult to gauge the scale on which "round-trip" trading takes place.

But when DMS Energy were investigated by Congress, the company admitted that 80 percent of its trades in 2001 were round-trip trades. This means 80 percent of all trades in that year were false trades. Not a drop of oil changed hands, but the balance sheets showed increased revenue.

The idea is to hike up commodity prices. For example, according to Davis, after the ICE turned commodity trading into a "speculative casino game where pricing was notional and contracts could be sold by people who never produced a thing, to people who didn't need the things that were not produced", Goldman Sachs were able to triple the price of commodities in just five years.

ICE can create artificial shortages and drive speculative demand

The beauty (or rather the horror) of the scam outlined by Davis is that because they control the oil markets, the ICE can create artificial shortages and drive speculative demand in order to charge consumers an extra dollar per gallon of gas. And whereas this may not seem like much, this $1 soon becomes $50 billion A MONTH as global drivers consume 1.7 billion gallons of gas every single day.

Looks like BP should have plenty of cash on hand squirreled away somewhere.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Wanna see what 25,000 barrels look like?

25,000 barrels is the current (assumed) oil flow directly into the Gulf of Mexico.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

It turns out we are living in a libertarian paradise. Cheers!

Regulations permit oil and gas industry to regulate itself. The Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service—the agency responsible for managing oil and gas resources on the Outer Continental Shelf and collecting royalties from companies—decided in 2005 that oil companies, rather than the government, were in the best position to determining their operations’ environmental impacts. This meant that there was no longer any need for an environmental impact analysis for deepwater drilling, though an earlier draft stated that such drilling experience was limited. In fact, MMS “repeatedly ignored warnings from government scientists about environmental risks in its push to approve energy exploration activities quickly, according to numerous documents and interviews.” And an interior general analysis even found that between 2005 and 2007 MMS officials let the oil industry to fill out their own inspection reports.

Got that? NO ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT NEEDED FOR DEEPWATER DRILLING. BP cut every possible corner on that well, they had no safety plan if something went wrong, because the US Governmant apparently have all the copies of "Atlas Shrugged" checked out of their libraries. Here's proof -- ll dead, uninmaginable disaster in the Gulf of Mexico -- that perhaps a bit of oversight is a good thing. Let's think about this. If you're a rational human and you know your own very personal bonus depends on you saving money, and there is no regulation forcing you to, say, drill a safe well, well then why not maximize your personal wealth, plus looking good to your supervisors?

Environment? What's that? Something you see out the window?

Quote above, and many more environmental time bombs planted by the Bssh administration, found here.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Jesus doesn't want me for a sunbeam.

For various reasons, seemed appropriate. I'm pretty sure I've posted the Vaseline's original; but my, don't expect me to cry for all the reasons that died. Don't expect me to cry, don't expect me to lie, don't expect me to die for thee.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

A real poet, a real singer, a real man, for a brief 26 years.

In spite of the fact that the almost-forgotten Gram Parsons was one of the best singer-songwriters of that brief interlude between the 60's and the 70's, no to mention one of the best looking men; there seems to be very little live video of him. But I found a bit. Deal with the blur.

Here's another song, said to be live, but with just random pictures. Still beautiful. Beautiful, beautiful.

I have a theory. Gram Parsons was Country. Country people have no (or even negative) taste, and so ignore him. Rockers hear the word "country" and run for the hills, not realizing the beauty they are missing, and the slight amount of amusement to be found in such behavior.

I leave you with a beautiful bit of very early Gram; thank you Paul, for introducing me to this amazing song:

French Punk

In the spirit of this beautiful day, I decided to give my faithfull (like Marianne) readers a treat! 1970'S French Punk. Turn it up loud.

Rock Steady

It is an unimaginably georgeous day in Portland today. OK, what inspired this post is that somehow I was subjected to "classic rock," where I heard a Paul Rogers song that threw me into a complete tizzy. The song--horrible; his voice? Perfection. Serious synapse-frying moment.

It turns out we have a "Bad Company" album that I just listened to on the porch. It was perfect for an early summer day. I adore Paul Rogers's voice. It is not a surprise that Queen decided to use him as a fill-in for Freddie Mercury. (I actually prefer Paul's voice, even if it didn't have the range; it's more supple and sweet and subtle.) I just hate everything that he sang. Pretty much. But that voice! Perfect summer music. My new goal is to acquire some Lynrd Skynnrd (OK, I can't spell the name, but I blame it on "Free Bird.")

So, for the feat of getting through this entire post, here's some "Bad Company" from back in the day before Paul Rogers discovered that mysterious clothing item "Shirts." (On edit; crap, he has a shirt on. I managed to pick the only video of all that I previewed with this aberration.)

Yet another depressing post on the oil spill--now with bonus angst

Here's the best comment I have ever seen on what is happening right now at the Deepwater-Horizon oil spill disaster--things are much worse than I realized; the entire well is eroding and may now be collapsing. If that happens, then not only will the well not be able to be killed using the relief wells, but the entire reservoir of oil in the underlying formation may bleed out into the gulf. Hope he's wrong.

Here's a guy who seems to know what he's talking about (but I have no idea) who analyzes the well design, does an analysis and seems pretty sure that the well was seriously underdesigned and pretty much guaranteed to fail. Scroll down to post 2262. (Not a typo.)
In other words, due to the way this well was designed to be hung off, it was designed to have a blowut in the production casing by intermediate annulus or at the very least have severe casing problems.
This combined with the substandard cement job with nitrogen injected cement was the single most improtant contributing factor to this occurance.

Even grimmer news is reported on this website, which states that a Russian deepsea team in a deep submergence vehicle surveyed the sea floor around the well and found that the seabed has fractured and oil is leaking out from at least 18 other sites. There seems to be no other mention of the Russian team working with BP that I could find, so take the report as you will. However, a huge underwater plume with heavy, thick, dark oil was found by a Louisiana team of scientists. I had heard about various plumes in the media, as well as various seabed leaks but with some suggestion that these leaks were natural. Now, I doubt it.

As further proof that the BP well blowout fractured the sea floor, there's this:
Today Matt Simmons, one of the largest investment bankers in the energy industry appeared on Bloomberg. The chairman of Simmons & Co. INTL went on to explain that there is much more to the oil leak than the news has been reporting. Last Sunday, NOAA confirmed reports of a second fissure about 5-7 miles from the original. This new fissure appears to be releasing a plume the size of Delaware and Maryland combined! He went on to state that “the plume from the riser is minor thing… the best estimate is about 120,000 barrels of oil per day”.
Found here. More info on Matt Simmons.

For what it's worth, lots of reasonable people think Matt Simmons is a kook, and the above website posting about Russia also looks pretty kooky.

Here's another interesting link, found by commenter GreenFloyd at In it, the team that set up the Graphic Information System (GIS) for this disaster explains how they were fired; all of the GIS information collected by various US agencies such as the Coast Guard (your tax dollars at work) is now being sent directly to BP, never to be seen again. How are they getting away with this? It's pretty clear we're not the boss of them.

Friday, June 11, 2010

A humerous interlude

Not waving but drowning -- or a tale of dispersants.

Listening to the news, I would think  that the dispersants  that BP are  uh, dispersing in the water  around the oil leak are nothing but good news.  I heard yesterday that they just make the oil drops smaller, and all-around easier for the naturally-occurring oil eating bacteria to gobble up.  The oil is also much less likely to appear on the surface.   This didn't sound right to me.  Dispersants are basically fancy versions of Dawn dishwashing liquid, and I don't ever remember using it  to help bacteria grow on my dishes.  So, I did some snooping around.

Turns out the  main dispersant being used is Corexit.  What do we know about Corexit?  Not much, it turns out.  Chemicals don't have to be tested for safety!  Rather, the EPA has to prove that a chemical is unsafe prior to getting it pulled.

As incredible as it may seem, when [The Toxic Substances Control Act] TSCA was enacted in 1976, the law “grandfathered” the 62,000 chemicals then available for use in Commerce, without requiring that a basic set of information be disclosed about those chemicals, that they be tested, or that they meet a safety standard.   Since then another 22,000 chemicals have entered the market, also without sufficient information, testing, or a requirement to meet a health-protective safety standard.   From the NDRC blog.

 Basically, BP has been ordered to use a safer dispersent, but refuses to because they say that they have no way of knowing whether the suggested dispersants are safer or not, or even what are in them, because the information is proprietary.  This is insane.  We are pumping something like 60,000 gallons of something that potentially more dangerous than the oil itself to dispurse the oil.

What  I think is happening is that BP thought that they could make it appear (by way lowballing the estimates of leaking oil and by dispursing the oil (hiding it  below the surface) that the leak is  nowhere as bad as it  is. 

What I want to know is why  isn't the news reporting this? I'm also appalled by the complete lack of regulation in the chemical industry.   Someone has  friends in  high places. 

For more information, I suggest reading the testimony of Gina M. Solomon, M.D., M.P.H. before Congress 6/10/10, a portion of which I quote below.
Several weeks ago, the EPA told BP that it must identify a safer and more effective
dispersant within 24 hours, and must switch to safer dispersants within three days. This was a good idea for health and the environment. BP should be required to use the safest and most effective approaches possible, rather than the most convenient or cheapest products. There are dispersants that have already been approved by EPA that appear to be both much safer and more effective than the ones BP has chosen.13 
I looked into the toxicity of the Corexit 9500 and 9527 products that BP has been using, and had concerns, especially for worker safety and for the health of fish and marine mammals. The ingredients in these products - even the 2-butoxyethanol which worries me most - might not be a problem if used in small amounts. But the use of over 700,000 gallons of even modestly toxic chemicals can become a serious problem. 
When BP released their response14 to the EPA order on dispersants, the flaws of the U.S. chemical safety system became clear. BP refused to switch dispersants because, among other reasons, they say there’s not enough information about their safety.
Tables in the BP memo contain a row that is supposed to list: “Persistence,
bioaccumulation, and chronic effects, and endocrine disruption” for the various
dispersants, but the boxes in that section contain the words “Proprietary mixture” for almost all the products. That means that the public has no access to the full ingredients lists of these products, or any ability to independently verify their safety. Amazingly, neither, apparently, does BP. 
In fact, the BP memo complains about the information gap and cites this as a reason for not switching to other dispersants. But the information gaps don’t stop there: Major portions of BP’s memo have been redacted, so the public can’t even review much of BP’s analysis of the alternatives.

According to one of the commentors at my favorite blog, widespread use of dispersants can create dead zones in the ocean. I'll keep on reading.

If you're still curious, here's a nice summary article by Pro Publica.

Thanks to commenters at for pointing me to most of these sites.

A poem for the moment

The Purse-seine, by Robinson Jeffers, 1937
.......I cannot tell you
How beautiful the scene is, and a little terrible,
then, when the crowded fish
Know they are caught, and wildly beat from one wall
to the other of their closing destiny the
Water to a pool of flame, each beautiful slender body
sheeted with flame, like a live rocket
A comet's tail wake of clear yellow flame; while outside
the narrowing
Floats and cordage of the net great sea-lions come up
to watch, sighing in the dark; the vast walls
of night
Stand erect to the stars.
Lately I was looking from a night mountain-top
On a wide city, the colored splendor, galaxies of light:
how could I help but recall the seine-net
Gathering the luminous fish? I cannot tell you how
beautiful the city appeared, and a little terrible.
I thought, We have geared the machines and locked all together
into inter-dependence; we have built the great cities; now
There is no escape. We have gathered vast populations incapable
of free survival, insulated
From the strong earth, each person in himself helpless, on all
dependent. The circle is closed, and the net
Is being hauled in.......

Thank you Steven Earl Salmony for posting this  at

The Obama administration is in BP's pocket and is f***ing us over

Forgive the bad word, but sometimes a nice anglo-saxon expletive is what is needed.  OK, the word didn't show up until the 14th century in English, but it definitely descends from the old German, where it meant approximately the same thing.

Point 1:  BP payed off the Obama administration and other politicians "spending just shy of $20 million on federal lobbying over the last two years". Very clever.  

Point 2:  The Obama administration is stuffed full with former BP executives.  (We must assume they must jostle for room with the Goldman-Sachs boys.)

The regulatory agency for the deep-sea drilling vampires (don't believe the vampire hype, they're really in the hire of those with the deepest pockets; how else do they pay for the dry-cleaning bills on their lace shirts?) is MMS, the Land and Minerals Management agency.  Obama hired someone off an 8 year stint as an executive at BP (Sylvia Baco) as a deputy administrator.

What did this get BP?

Federal documents show that the Department of the Interior's Minerals Management Service (MMS) gave BP a "categorical exclusion" on April 6, 2009 to commence drilling with Deepwater Horizon even though it had not produced the impact study required by a law known as the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The report would have included probable ecological consequences in the event of a spill.

And so the story goes. We, and the pelicans, and the bayou, and the whole gulf of Mexico were sold out for a pittance.

Of course, the administration and BP have been lying to us for what, 6 weeks?  about the size of the spill.  First BP said 1000 barrels a day, then they upped it to 5000 barrels.  Now, that they're capturing their all that they can, upwards of 15,000 barrels, with lots more left, they (the Obama administration --Stephen Chu,  I trusted you, what was I thinking?-- are admitting, finally that just perhaps the spill was  an order of magnitude (50,000 barrels) or more, all the way up to 100,000 barrels a day.  Here's a nice non-hysterical chart of how  much oil has probably leaked into the gulf.  It's pretty scary,

BP should spend all of its resources cleaning  this up,  every last penny.  Seeinng as how they made $17 Billion (notice the B) last year, they should be able to do so,

Update--the NYT has an article on newest estimates of the flow rates prior to the riser being cut.   Lede? Estimates double, and this is before the riser cut which has been estimated to add another 20% to the flow. 

djinn talks to the bishop, ahh.... no one.

I have an addiction.   To LDS blogs.  As only pixels get thrown around, no one gets physically hurt, but it just has to  stop.  There are rules, and just like in church, where I failed, I am failing at the simple process of commenting.    On said blogs.   I hereby pledge to not post or read a single LDS blog tomorrow,  hope I can exend  this to Saturday, then Sunday, then.... forever? 

Can I get a witness?  

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Relief wells not as sure a thing as I hoped.

Turns out the rock around the well (yeah, that one leaking in the gulf) has a porosity of 30%.   That's going to make plugging it from the bottom much more difficult.  Oil until October-November.  Assuming they succeed in drilling the relief wells in a reasonable amount of time. 

Monday, May 24, 2010

Feeling good? Read this; you'll feel better, uh, worse.

Here's a lovely chart from here of peak oil production.  Notice the sharp downward swing.  We're in big trouble-- we are mining an unrenewable resource to live--but that should be obvious to everyone.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Not so great to be a client of Goldman Sachs.

The firm makes money over hand over fist, owns the Obama administration (Summers, Rubin, Bernanke, and Geithner--the entire financial Obama team--are Goldman  alumni.)

Clients of Goldman Sachs don't do so well.  By a long shot, in a rising market.  According to Bloomberg,
Seven of the investment bank’s nine “recommended top trades for 2010” have been money losers for investors who adopted the New York-based firm’s advice, according to data compiled by Bloomberg from a Goldman Sachs research note sent yesterday.
What  else is there to say?  Goldman's only client is Goldman.  Stay away.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

How long will that oil be spilling out of the Gulf?

Maybe for a very long time.

As far as I can tell, most estimates are based on an exponential decline (i.e., it will end relatively quickly), but it more probably looks like a hyperbolic decline--a fat tail long decline.

Read more than you want to know about it here.

Monday, May 17, 2010

I can't get any satisfaction.

I just heard, on NPR, someone loosely referred to as a "music critic" mention that Otis Redding's version of the Rolling Stones' song "Satisfaction was OK", even though he got some of the words wrong.

What is the matter with that man, let alone that station?  Have they actually listened to the song in question?    Did they do any research about the respective versions?  Who cares about the specific words anyway?   Keith has long let it be known that Otis got it  right and that the song was meant to be played with horns (as in Otis Redding's version.)  Rod Wood indicated in 2003 that the Stones are now using an arrangement much closer to Otis Redding's version.  So, Otis got it right.  Really, really right.

Fun fact:
Keith Richards was staying at the Fort Harrison Hotel (known at the time as the Jack Tar Harrison Hotel) when he rolled out of bed with the idea for this. The hotel still exists. In 1975, it was bought by the Church of Scientology and frequently hosts religious retreats. (thanks, Jack Russell - clearwater, FL)  From here.  

The late, great Otis Redding.  I dare you to say anything is wrong with this song.   

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Where did 'Exile on Main Street" come from? Choose me for the answer.

Those bad Stones.  I truly love Exile; Mick, Keith and the rest started as a blues cover band, where they basically covered, almost note for note, blues standards.  Then, they magically transformed; they somehow created their own sound based on the great blues singers, but still their own--much of Exile has a definite Son House vibe.   Listen.  Don't get me wrong, I listen to "Exile" about as much as I listen to Son House.

Warning, flash flash, (bad scary graphics)  don't make the mistake of listening to Keith Urban covering "Tumblin' Dice" on the Jimmy Fallon show.  Unless you want a serious Migraine.  Not good.  Green Day rocked the joint with "Rip this Joint."  Hard.  I especially loved the rewritten (or not quite remembered) lyrics.  (Geebee corrected me on the spelling of that song; thanks, sweetheart; plus how stupid of me; i've only listening to this song since it came out when I was 14.  I blame rock and roll.  Or me.  You choose.)

"I didn't know I loved her, until they let her down."  I can't speak for everyone, though i'd dearly love to imagine I could; but this sounds to me like humanity in 10 words.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Go read a book, it's good for your back.

When I was in law school, I suffered from that exceptionally common ailment, lower back pain.  There was a lovely gym with all sorts of brand new equipment with exciting names waiting for me to try it out, so I systematically gave pretty much every device a shot, from the rowing machines to the ellipical something or others.  Nothing worked.  My back still ached.  And ached.

Finally, one day, I said, "Enough!" and stopped with the exercise at the gym, though I did walk a fair amount, as it was unavoidable.  Bingo!  Back pain gone!

My single sample has now been proven scientifically.  Exercise does not help lower back pain.  Read about it here.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

So how much oil is actually spilling into the Gulf Coast?

Reading the most scientific reports that use the latest satellite data, it appears to be somewhere between 20,000 and 25,000 gal/day. That's a lot. The 5,000 gal/day number being knocked around the media appears to be BP spin--I'm guessing its the first shot across the bow of the American public to make us pay for this total screw-up by a company that should have known so much better.

But the Bush regime thought self-regulation was the way to go. BP self-regulated themselves to 11 people dead and unspeakable environmental damage. Who's going to pay for that damage? You and I, the American public, that's who. Anti-regulation really means privatizing the profits (they go to the company) and socializing the losses (that's us, the American people, who get stuck with the bill of cleaning up this mess.

And this mess could get much worse.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Profiting off tragedy

Considering the upcoming oil shortage, what shall we do?  What is obvious that I can't see?

For a start, what companies will suddenly be much more valuable, and which will be in dire straits, indeed?

Trains on the plus side. Most efficient way of moving stuff.

Oil companies?  They're evil, but as oil gets more expensive, they're the ones that will have it.  Same is true of natural gas producers.

I like the idea of tide electricity generators.  We need more of these.

Must look at historical data.

Peak oil, it's not just a floor wax, a dessert topping, or a scare tactic.

It is the truth.  Our economy is predicated on cheap oil.  Our whole economy. That's why we have this brief time to be fat--a positive word for pretty much the entire history of language .   Fertilizers are petroleum derivatives.   Plowing cheap fertilizer (using cheap gas to run the tractors) into tons of land in the midwest.  Cheap gas moves the food from whence it came to your family grocery store.  Where you get to eat it!

I have a bit of anthropological training.  Looking at skeletons, you can determine the weight of the human. Hint, up until about the late 1930's we spent our lives hungry.  For most of European history, everyone lived through (or  didn't make it) a famine year or two, when there was simply no food to be had.

American production of oil peaked in in the 1970's.  It looks like Saudi oil is peaking earlier than thought.  

We have  more humans on the planet  than can be supported  by significantly lower yields of oil.

Sorry to be, like, a total bummer, but there it is.  Hoping for suggestions for the future

Friday, April 30, 2010

Review of Thurston Moore and Jandek Performance in Portland; Thurston is a God.

"Jandek's not pretentious, but only pretentious people like his music." -- Kurt Cobain

"Thurston Moore is Magic, and simutaneously looks his age and 15." -- Me

Last night, April 29, 2010, George and I went to a Thurson Moore - Jandek concert at the Hollywood Theater, a movie-house that holds about 400 people.  The great bulk of the audience either weren't from Portland or were from a vastly different section than from whence I live.  Shoes To Die For.  Silk charmeuse dresses not repurposed from the Goodwill.  Shades of Black and Grey, predominantly.  Stunning clothing on stunning people.   Oh, and there was music. 

I have never heard anyone play a guitar like Thurston did  (I've heard him twice before with Sonic Youth - this was infinitely better).  He played every inch of the electric guitar;  below the bridge, above the nut (on the headstock), banging the back of the neck...  not to mention the sounds the got out of that plank of wood that i didn't think was possible.  Plus the shaped feedback  he, uh, shaped by standing in front of the Fender amp bending the neck of his stripped-down jazzmaster covered with stickers.  I'm still in shock.  Jimi (yes, that Jimi) would be proud.  (Note, pic not from show, as requested.  Thurston amps were definitely Fender, and his shirt was plaid. Other than that, pretty much the same.)

Jandek, meanwhle had a couple of themes he kept repeating.  Over and over.  Admittedly, he was playing with the whole idea of the twelve-tone scale, but just barely; how many flatted 7ths with the occasional 9th and 11th thrown in can you listen to until you thow in the towel?  Thurtson used the entire palate of the guitar and an object from which to wrench sounds.  Strings were involved, but just as a single choice out of the many presented.

There were three improvised songs. In the first song, Jandek just stopped suddenly, leaving Thurston the job of crafting an ending, which he did so effortlessly it seemed pre-written.  In the second one, Jandek actually started with a different motif--it included the occasional major chord fragment--hallelujah.  However, about half way through, I think Mr. J. figured out he wasn't the center of the universe and went back to his 7flat (occasionally 7sharp) 9th 11th 4th default.  Actual notes or note fragments would surface from Thurston's sound palate at irregular intervals that would cross notes with Jandek at equally irregular intervals--it kept the the ear interested and gave at least the illusion that the two were playing together.
Thurston continued  wrenching such amazing sounds from his guitar, while all the time looking like a Raphael saint.  You know, one of those just-this-shy-of-angelic putti that just might pull his pants down and moon his audience.  For the third song, Jandek sat on the stage; Thurston sat on a bar stool, which, considering the length of his legs looked like a normal chair, but oddly morphed.

After an hour and 20 minutes,  (but it seemed like moments) Jandek turned off his amp, and that was it.  Not to totally hate on the mystery man, his hat was totally rockin'.  (The image is not from the show, where we were not asked to take pics, but other than the mike, this is a dead ringer for the Jandek we saw.)

An amazing show.

From an interview with Thurston in 2000 somewhere on the internet:

"What I'm aiming for all the time when we play live is a balance between the high energy of loud music, and a calm meditational energy you sometimes find at its core. Recording tends to restrict too much experimentation, 'cause when you're making a record it's a part of you, for that time it's your whole fabric. But when we tour the songs, they tend to get more and more expansive, and actually evolve over time until they are something quite different. For this reason I never go back and listen to the recorded document. The thrill, instead of listening to our cds, comes when the balance I was talking about can be attained. Everyone in the room can have a shared, communal rock experience. I'm only too happy to be the conduit of it, after all rock'n'roll saved my soul."

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Mick Jagger is a liar.

Goldman Sachs is going down!  And it's about time.  I'm preparing a post, but in the meantime, the Stones are releasing outtakes from one of my favorite albums of all time, "Exile on Main Street."  Just yesterday, George went to "Record Store Day" and purchased a 45 with a supposed outtake from the original Nellcote Mansion sessions--"Plundered my Soul".  (For those of you who are curious, Nellcote Mansion is one of the most beautiful buildings in the south of France and was used as Nazi headquarters for awhile during WWII; Keith Richards rented it and recorded most of Exile there.)

However, it was painfully clear that Mick's vocals on "Plundered my Soul" (listen at your own risk) were recorded very recently for the sad sad reason that he can no longer sing.  He can hit the notes, but that which makes it music is completely gone.  Talk about plundering someone's soul, here's an object lesson in having no soul left.  To add to the irony, another song with a perfectly lovely (an apparently erased and ruined/redone vocal is called "I ain't lyin."  I (djinn here) ain't lying either.  Some spoilsports call it "I ain't signifyin'."

Mick has now gone on record saying that none of the Exile outtakes had original vocals, so he had to rerecord them.  Liar!  Liar! Liar!  Here's "I ain't lying" with a lovely Jagger vocal and an even more lovely Mick Taylor lead originally recorded back in the day.  Enjoy.

We actually have several boots from the Nellcote Mansion sessions that sound amazing, 
such as the one above--
In some of them, Mick sound off the rails; it's a good sound for him. I'm sure he prefers 
something more staid 
and appropriate for his aging audience. Boo! Hiss! I disapprove.

The Stones are currently the best Sones cover band around (that I'm aware of, but they're not
the Stones. Sorry fellas.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Could Pope Benedict Really be Forced to Step Down?

According to this article by the British newspaper the Daily Mail, a priest sexual abuse hotline in Germany was flooded with 4000 calls on the very first day of operation.  Ooops.  It's become increasingly clear that the Catholic Hierarchy aided and abetted child molesters otherwise referred to as 'Priests." 

Germans aren't happy about this.  We shouldn't be either.  Humans are sexual beings.  Bad things happen when we try to oppress sexuality, rather than allowing healthy and normal (and safe) expression.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Thank you Fox News for keeping us infromed--or teabonics.

GeeBee discovered this delightful collection of teabagger signs. And I learned many valuable rules about English spelling. Especially the many variants for the word "Socialism." Enjoy.

As a side note, I attended every anti-war rally I could find in the run-up to the Iraq war. The signs were witty, and spelled properly. I leave the lesson to the dear reader.

Where were all these doofusses when Bush was spending money like a drunken president? All at home flush with pride, but not with dictionaries, is my guess.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

C-Sections Increase Chances of Childhood Asthma and Allergies, Who Knew?

Science (ooohhhh, science, I picture it as some sort of poorly-dressed action hero wearing an ill-fitting cape) is busy discovering the importance of our internal bacteria in our lives. It turns out that passing through the vaginal canal gives babies a head-start on getting those important bacteria. If they're just pulled out of their mom's womb, they end up under-bateria-ized, which can lead to later autoimmune problems, such as asthma and allergies.

*note, C-sections save many women's lives, but they've risen to epidemic proportions here in the good ol' U.S. of A.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Rock and Roll was invented in the late 40's

by John Lee Hooker. Just listen.

This is from the 60's, but even in the late 40's, early 50's, he was, all by himself, playing the heavy percussion, the lead guitar riffs, and even rhythm guitar, all at once. Not to mention, I believe he may have the best voice ever recorded.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What? You were happy about the health care thingie?

Peak oil (by which I mean massive massive social unrest) will be here sooner than "they" are telling you. Read here. (It's The Telegraph, from our British neighbor across the pond.) Or not; it's a beautiful evening.

What is in the Health Care Bill?

Here's an excellent chart from the LA Times discussing exactly what is in the health care bill. No public option. But it's better than nothing.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

RIP Alex Chilton

Two who left too soon:  Elliott Smith singing Nighttime by Big Star.

I hoped to post some recent Alex Chilton, but everything I could find appeared to have been filmed on cell phones. So, here's Big Star singing perhaps the most underrated pop masterpiece ever.

20 Million--Or Why Tony Blair Was So Gung-Ho About Iraq

That's 20 Million Pounds.  Tony Blair had a good war.  I always sorta suspected that Bush had Pictures of Tony with a goat in high heels; you know how serious those British animal rights people are.  But, no, just heaps and heaps and heaps of money.   Evil.  That is all.

The story is being broken by The Daily Mail.  Huzzah.

Monday, March 15, 2010

What Republicans are Really Afraid Of.

Looking at the entire article, we also find out the fascinating information that “Republican Mitt Romney unveiled his own package, one that is much smaller than Obama's."  Explains quite a bit.
H/T to Ed Brayton.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Utah Smith: One More Off-The-Rails Blues/Gospel Musician

Who woulda thunk with a name like that? And he wore wings! Honest. I have totally drained my spending money budget (darn that Amazon one-click feature.) But just give this a listen.

More Transcendental Trance Gospel

The Rev. Charlie Jackson (on edit; I got him confused with Charlie Patton, a different blues singer from a different era) is, criminally, only represented by two songs on all of the wormhole into the universe that is Youtube. Here he is singing, in England, a song that perfectly intersects the 'dirty blues' and gospel. Listen for the fishing line references.

Also, please point and laugh at the suit the host of the show is wearing (could he have chosen a worse color for his skin tone? I think not--he looks like a unaccountably pasty banana.) Cringe along with me at the deeply condescending comments from the host that the good Reverend answers with such kindness and grace I'm planning on watching the early painful part as a lesson on how to be a better person. But wait! The music!

Video of The Rev. Louis Overstreet! Trance Gospel.

I can't believe someone posted this footage of the good Reverend playing at church.

You have to understand; his band consisted of him on baritone, bass drum and electric guitar so organic the music sounds like an intregal part of him, with his four sons on various percussion instruments. See the little kid on washboard, that's his son. When not in church, the five of them would plug into a bar and play out front in their choir robes. It's the only trance-gospel I've ever heard, and I find it entrancingly alluring. Listen. Be happy. Did I mention I'd totally go to his church? In an instant.

Just a dash more of the Reverend to take us out; no video this time--I'm thrilled there's at least a bit.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

My Idea of Heaven

Old black men sitting around on fluffy clouds playing the blues.

Listen to this first; it's Son House singing "My Big Mama," rewritten endless times; sorry no cool video version available on the not-quite-as-magical-as-I-thought internets.

Now, the father of delta blues; don't mind the static.

And one more:

Saturday, February 27, 2010

How to play a guitar solo

I must admit that George Harrison isn't my favorite beatle. Actually, my favorite beetle is the Scarab Beetle, but be that as it may, Prince plays the shizzle (please take notice that I'm trying not to swear) out of the solo on (eeek! can I even speak the name?) 'While my Guitar Cries In Fright', or something. Amazing solo; amazing outfit. Plus you must check out Dhani Harrison in the background, just 'cause he's so freakin' good looking.

I suggest (strongly) that you ignore everything until about 36 seconds in, when Prince appears magically (I suspect a Tardis in the near vicinity.) Also notice Prince throws his guitar up at the end of the song and it never descends. Magical powers, I tell you.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

there is at least one useful cat on the planet.

Fred, take note.

I'm so glad

Life's been kinda tough of late, but there's still beauty in the universe. I got to ride in a Ferrari (i'm not convinced it's actually a vehicle, more like a work of art) and I found Skip James' original recording of "I'm so glad," pretty generally considered one of the most difficult guitar songs ever recorded. Plus, it's pretty. Cream, poor boys, used Skip's much simpler 1960's recording for their hit. Take that Eric. Actually, the royalties from the Cream cover allowed Skip James to live out the few remaining years of his life in relative luxury for the very first time in his life. Thank you, Eric Clapton, for your basic decency.

When I listen to Skip James' music (a regular occurance), I'm slapped in the face by his intelligence and humbled by his life story--he worked, essentially, this astonishing musician, as a laborer, until pretty much the end of his life.

I have it easy.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The best band in 1973 might just have been the Stones, but in 1971 it was Judee Sill.

Pretty embarassing. I'd prefer it was someone no one had heard of.

As always in 1973 the camera work more than sucks, but try to spot Keith Richards actually playing beautiful lead guitar. It's a Bitch.

Oh, and Lessie, this song is for you. It's not a bitch but as crayon angels go, perhaps a bit out of tune. But not the song. One of my favorite songs ever. For good luck.

And for you too, Lessie, the Lamb ran away with the crown. Some of the only known live footage of my hero. All together now: "I laughed so hard I cried, and the lamb ran away with the crown.'

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Just Following Directions....

Reading the meticulous directions for the brownie recipe below (following post) triggered a flashback to my college years. For a time I lived at Xanadu Co-op, a coed house with 53 residents plus a handful of boarders. Talk about a learning experience!

We prepared all our own meals, so this meant that a bunch of young and inexperienced cooks (some MORE so than others) were all of a sudden preparing meals for about sixty people. At least we had a Hobart mixer!

Hobart mixers come in a range of sizes and are of the same general design as Kitchen-aid mixers----in fact, Kitchen-aids are just the domestic version of those giant, industrial mixing machines. The one at Xanadu stood about four feet tall and featured a mixing bowl well over two feet deep.

I remember walking into the kitchen one day and seeing N---- hovering over the bowl, her arm reaching all the way down into the bottom; the rim was practically at her armpit. I approached, wondering what had fallen into the machine.

When I got close, I saw that after pushing her sleeve way up, she had apparently thrust her arm deep into a batch of brownie batter. "N-----, what are you doing?"
She straightened up, momentarily pulling her arm from the batter. Thick brown clumps clung all along her forearm. She pointed agitatedly at the Joy of Cooking on the counter. "It said when you add the flour, 'stir by hand'!"

At dinner, I declined to tell my fellow diners of the culinary technique our cook had employed that evening. As for the brownies? They disappeared quickly.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Brownies: my daughter's perfect recipe.

Calla lilly spent roughly a quarter second on line and found this brownie recipe, which she promptly lost, after baking it to general acclaim. Thank goodness I made her write it down on a post-it note, using my motherly privilege. Everyone whose eaten these has gotten that silly, goofy almost embarassing grin on their faces. Even mentioning past memories of these brownies brings back that inmistatable look of joy contemplated in peace. Enjoy.

Heat oven to 350 degrees
Line a 9X9 baking pan with one large piece of aluminum foil. If the sides of the pan are exposed, line with another piece of foil in the different direction. Parchment paper can be used as well. Some people like to butter the aluminum foil at this stage, but I forgot to mention it to Calla lily, and they still turned out.

Optional ingredients:
If you're using nuts (1/2 cup walnuts or pecans,) toast them now. I toast my nuts in a copper pan on pretty high heat, shaking all the time. I stop toasting when the nuts start smelling wonderful, and let them cool prior to making the rest of the recipe.

Required Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
Beat eggs, vanilla, and sugar (using a balloon whisk or a egg beater) until frothy and lemony. Now that I am a proud owner of a lovely orange Kitchenaid, I throw everything in there and wander over to check until the color of the liquid is a lovely lemon-yellow and there is some eggy-looking froth on top.

3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks)
Melt butter gently, you don't want it too hot. I generally try to leave a few small pieces of unmelted butter in the butter mixture when I take it out of the microwave, the heat from the rest of the butter will melt them. (Yes, my microwave is basically a complex butter-melting device.)

1/2 cup very high quality cocoa powder
Add cocoa powder to the melted butter-this may take some mixing.
Let cool.

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking poweder
pinch of salt
Mix the flour, salt, and baking powder together in a small bowl. I prefer using a fork. Actually, I prefer a really awesome whisk-like thingie with stainless-steel balls on the end of the flat whisk wires--but this device only seem to exist in my kitchen; I seem to recall buying it at Williams-Sonoma for a song at some point in the last century.

Add the previously prepared 1/2 cup toasted walnuts or pecans, if desired to the flour mixture. Rumor has it one can used untoasted nuts with good results.

Add the cooled (but still liquid) butter/cocoa to the sugar and egg mixture, stirring until combined. If the butter is too hot at this step the eggs can curdle. If you have to use hot butter, then stir a tablespoon of two of the hot butter mixture into the sugar egg mixture to temper it, before adding, slowly, (beating all the while) the rest of the butter.

Gently fold the flour mixture into the sugar/butter/cocoa mixture until all the dry ingredients are incorporated. DOn't over-mix.

Put into the prepared pan.

Bake on center rack of oven (heated to 350 degrees) from 25-35 minutes. A toothpick inserted in the center shouldn't be liquid or dry, but should have a couple moist crumbs hanging off. I'll try to remember to take a picture of this (or more likely, have someone who doesn't entirely specialize in thumb pictures snap the photo) because the wonderfulness of the brownies are rather disturbingly dependent on the baking length.

Cool on a rack. If you don't have a rack, improvise.

Good eating.

I must mention here how much I love cooking; it's been difficult for me to actually cook for quite a while, but I have offspring! And I can order them around (within limits). I tell them they're "cooking lessons."

Hoping for more cooking recipes (from me!) soon.

My next will be (i hope) my magical way to get the easiest and flakiest corn bread and muffins. It's awesome and very very easy. Feel free to pester me if the recipe isn't forthcoming. My health is iffy, but when I feel good, I want to share-friends, even if on-line count as friends.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Baby please don't go

down to New Orleans. I love you so, baby, please don't go.

Big Joe Williams on a nine (9!!!) string guitar.

I think he wrote this; my favorite youtube clip in I don't know how long.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Monday, January 25, 2010

Banksy Spotting in Park City

My kids found this Banksy Monkey in Park City, Utah, this weekend. Wonder if it's now been painted over.

GO KIDS!!!!!!!

Prop. 8 trial funnies!

I need a bit of a setup here.

David Boies is a lawyer on the side trying to get Proposition 8--the anti gay marriage CA. initiative--overturned, which would then allow the resumption of same-sex marriage in California.

Prof. Miller is an expert for the defense--those attempting to show that Prop. 8 should stand.

A bit of cross-examination from today:

Boies: Are you aware of any official discrimination against gays and lesbians in this country today other than DADT policy?
Miller: (Thinking) I’m trying to think of other laws that are official…policies that discriminate on that basis. One thing you are looking at would be DOMA policy.
Boies: There you go!

The expert for the no gay marriage people (Pro-8 side) just admitted in open court that DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act, which allows states to deny benefits to married same-sex couples) and DADT (Don't ask don't tell--the law that allows the Military to toss out gay people if the military finds out they are gay) are discriminatory.

Also this doozy:
Boies: Let’s go back to your article, heading Violating Democratic Norms, first sentence: The actual operation of the intitiative process actually violates a number of democratic norms in America" What were the norms you were referring to?
Miller: (reading) Trying to get the context here.
Boies: Okay
Miller: Norms in the above grafs
Boies: Openness, accountability, fairrness?
Miller: yes

The Yes on 8 side just admitted that the initiative process (Yes on 8 was a CA. initiative) is undemocratic in that it violates the norms of "openness, acccountability and fairness."

Boies: Don’t people in political science know what they mean by discrimination?
Miller: Well some is permissable and some is impermissable.
Boies: So is Prop 8 discriminatory.
Miller: It makes a distinction between two types of couples
Boies: Wasn’t that the definition of discrimination?
Miller: Well it might be.

Prop. 8 itself is discriminatory, according to the side that is all for Proposition 8.

What is the pro Prop.8 side's point? "We get to discriminate. Yeah. Because." Nice argument.

Thanks to Firedoglake for the liveblogging.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Beware Your ATM

I had no idea people made devices that fit over ATM card slots to suck all the information (and PIN) out of your card. But they do. Here's a picture of one. Here's another. A related device was found in December 2009 on a gas pump right across the river from me in Vancouver, WA. I guess I'll try to get my money from the inside of the bank from now on.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

An Eunice Kathleen Waymon, uh Nina Simone song to lift my spirits.

I love chamber-punk, and now I've discovered chamber-soul. Happiness.

Wikipedia informed me not only about her real name, but that Ms. Simone was 27 when the above clip was recorded. She looks about 17.

I've been mulling a post about how the Supreme Court just legalized bribery, but I find it too depressing to write. So, yet more music.

Here's the Who on the Ed Sullivan Show. The back story here (wait to the end) is that this show (for reasons that will become obvious) permanently damaged Pete Townsend's hearing. And Keith needed a band-aid.

Off to think deepish thoughts. Or listen to more music.