September 28, 2006



View larger image


View larger image

If you're anything like me, you know that Hugo Chavez, in his speech to the United Nations the other day, called George W. Bush "the devil", and referred to the sulfurous gases he left behind in the assembly.

If you'e anything like me, you immediately associated to a "photograph" that appeared a couple of weeks ago in the Contagious Festival at The Huffington Post. You also didn't disagree too vehemently with the essence of Chavez' accusation, even though it seemed a little inflammatory, and you never bothered to read the speech in its entirety.

f you're anything like me, you relied on the distainful reception given to the speech by the American press as your primary source of information. (Guess they were so critical because Chavez had the audacity to challenge our reigning monarch, and he sounded angry. Didn't Bill Clinton just get nailed for being angry too? Howard Dean? No, that was insanely happy. )

If you're anything like me, you will have trouble reading the full text of Chavez' speech.

If you're anything like me, you will be glad you did.


View larger image

Photo note: At the farmer's market the other day, I noticed that one farm in particular had harvested their products with stems. I commented on the beauty of the stems to the farmerette, who said she and her coworkers are very stem conscious -- they love stems and they are into food as art, as you can see from their harvest.

Although the stems are a most eyecatching part of the vegies, and add much interest, they are fragile, and, if broken off, are without substance -- simply dry sticks -- they are of little value without their vegetable. Thus, the thin metaphorophotographic connection between the entry and the photographs.

Posted by Dakota at 08:16 PM

September 27, 2006

Avian Flu and Bush Too


View image

Revere at Effect Measure has an update on bird flu after 22 months, just in case you thought you had avoided that catastrope -- do not remove bird flu from your Damocles Collection.

Now it's almost two years later and the bird flu train has not arrived. But the tracks are vibrating more strongly, we can hear the engine noise more loudly and we know the train is in the vicinity, crashing through half the world's poultry flocks, flicking off various other mammalian host species and the occasional human (251 at last count). We know much more about the virus than we did two years ago, but some of what we have learned is that what we thought we knew was wrong. That's progress, but of a peculiar sort. Still no effective vaccine in production and no likelihood of significant quantities for several years, if then. Uncertain quantities of antivirals on hand and with uncertain efficacy. And public health systems still tottering on the edge, with social service systems weakened as well. These are gross failures of government, and those government failures are traceable to gross failures in leadership.

In typical Destroy-The-Agency-By-Appointing-An-Incompetent-Fascist-To-Take-It-Apart (then privatize, and give the contract to Halliburton) Mode, Dr Julie Gerberding has been busy leading the CDC down Rapture Road.. A functional Center for Disease Control might have come in handy sometime in the future. Oh well.

As if this wasn't quite enough, there was this disturbing comment from Pogie's Mom:

Just a comment on the ready availability of information on Bird Flu. Two bills to limit influenza pandemic (and other health) information available to the public on pandemics from government are going through both the U.S. House and the Senate. Under the blanket of "national security" much of the data now available would be classified and unavailable, publication could be a crime. It looks like they are going to pass. Seems like the health news suppression we have castigated China about is coming home here to the U.S. of A. The powers that be are not taking well to the idea of citizen participation (meddling?) via internet in the decisions of government. We are a Republic, after all. Posted by: Pogie's Mom | September 27, 2006 04:39 PM

On that hopeful note, All of us here at Dakota, wish you a cheery day. After all, there's still time to

Photo note: taken surrreptiously at a museum best left unnamed because rules were broken -- for a very good cause, of course. The artist's name is Brad Story just in case you feel inclined to purchase one of his works for your collection

Posted by Dakota at 08:49 PM

A Sliver of Light


View larger image

Arianna Huffington, of the Huffington Post has a new project/book/meme in the making, Becoming Fearless. In an campaign to launch her neomeme, she's hitting all the circuits with style, including an appearance on The Colbert Report.

As you know, Arianna began her career as a conservative, and switched. An "On Point" caller asked her about her tipping point -- what inspired her to change her political stance from right to left, and she replied , "my understanding of the role of government.... I began to see that our efforts to deal with our social problems were not ever really going to materialize at a substantive enough level, of a great enough magnitude, to make a difference -- and that, therefore, we did need an activist government and the power of government appropriations to deal with all those social problems." She's right, but what is going to tip the rest of them?

From the ranks of the fearless, the eloquent Dan Froomkin, a consistant voice of clarity at the Washington Post, tells us:

And let's not forget: It was only a few weeks ago that Ron Suskind revealed in his book, "The One Percent Doctrine," just how cavalierly President Bush responded to being briefed on the al Qaeda threat, just a month before the attack. From Barton Gellman 's review in The Washington Post: "The book's opening anecdote tells of an unnamed CIA briefer who flew to Bush's Texas ranch during the scary summer of 2001, amid a flurry of reports of a pending al-Qaeda attack, to call the president's attention personally to the now-famous Aug. 6, 2001, memo titled 'Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in US.' Bush reportedly heard the briefer out and replied: 'All right. You've covered your ass, now.'"

Richard Ben-Veniste, of the 9/11 commission, is looking pretty fearless these days.

And Jon Stewart is always fearless, but that's because he's just kidding.

All of us here at Dakota are working on it.

Photo note: Just a hole in the fence with light behind it.

Posted by Dakota at 06:23 AM

September 25, 2006


View larger image

Keith Olbermann speaks the truth, on national TV

Bill Clinton speaks the truth, on Fox News when assailed

Noam Chomsky speaks the truth over and over again wherever he can

Tony Snow minimizes and obfiscates

Bush minimizes Cafferty responds

Bush lies

Dakota was right

Dakota finds a dress for Laura

Photo note: shot in 2006 -- mighty close to the 2004 shot -- metaphors hold true

Posted by Dakota at 09:05 AM

Islamic Terrorists Multiply


View larger image

All of us here at Dakota are completely shocked about the intelligence assessment of 16 American intelligence agencies that was leaked yesterday by "more than a dozen government officials and terrorism experts" concluding that "the war in Iraq, rather than stemming the growth of terrorism, had helped fuel its spread across the globe". Or, as the Washington Post puts it:

The war in Iraq has become a primary recruitment vehicle for violent Islamic extremists, motivating a new generation of potential terrorists around the world whose numbers may be increasing faster than the United States and its allies can reduce the threat.

We are shocked because:

. the press has been reporting this for two days --- in the headlines, not on page 18.

. the press seems to be surprised -- To give them the benefit of the doubt, perhaps the leaked document simply provides concrete evidence upon which to base a story that has been perfectly obvious, at least for the last four years.

. that there are still enough people left in our intelligence agencies who would 1) be permitted to ask/answer these questions in the first place 2) would agree to participate in a study like this for fear of retaliation 3) would leak a report and risk their careers, public humiliation at the hands of the neoconservatives, or worse -- now that whistleblowers can be rooted out, prosecuted or probably rendited to secret locations, tortured, and retained without trial for years.

Kudos to the whistleblowers, and the editors and reporters at the New York Times and the Washington Post for revealing the truth publically at great personal risk, and not from Islamic terrorists, either.

Photo note: Detail from a Persian miniature that hangs in my office. The only Islamic warrior that was handy.

Posted by Dakota at 05:50 AM

September 24, 2006

Twisted, But What Else Is New?


View larger image

While we eagerly await Karl Rove's October Surprise, we might as well have a little fun.

Bush's approval ratings are up again given falling gas prices (a highly suspicious coincidence) and relentless 9/11 flame fanning -- simultaneously making the idiot voter overly complaisant and scaring the shit out of him/her, thus encouraging counterproductive behaviors on everyone's part. As idiot voter is once again gassing up his speedboat and his SUV, Karl, the evil strategist, is planning new ways to strike terror in our hearts.

Robert Kuttner reasons that war with Iran is not a option. It isn't an option for an administration that is trying to run a democracy, but that's not what we seem to have here. Personally, I'm rooting for a military coup. Maybe I should send that suggestion to John Murtha and he'll pass it along.

Photo note: The flag, all wrapped up around a pole that's sticking out straight, simply begging for a Freudian interpretation -- mmm..mmm and all those triangles too.

Addendum: In case your Sunday newspaper has not yet arrived and you have a little extra time

Posted by Dakota at 06:10 AM

September 23, 2006

Busy Bee


up close with a better look at the shadow

Since it's a lazy Saturday morning, during which it might rain, and I know that you have plenty of leisure time to loll around in your jammies and watch movies on your computer, I have taken it upon myself to provide some.

For a little somethng lighthearted, let us us begin with the Pool Domino Finals, which will stimulate a part of your brain that is generally hard to reach if you don't play pool dominos.

You are free to stop here if you are incurious, have high blood pressure, or wish to maintain a blissful state of well being and thus help the world vibrationally by aligning with your higher self. If none of the above conditons apply, please proceed.

Next we have the trailers from "Iraq For Sale: The War Profiteers" which can be found on the left hand side of the website (they should be viewed individually), as well as a a tour through a FEMA detention camp that has recently been renovated -- an excellent, if blatant, example of the architecture of control.

Or you could watch the UN in action or go where everyone else is going with Swarm. Then maybe the sun will come out.

Photo note: More swarm than anything else. Love that shadow.

Posted by Dakota at 07:22 AM

September 22, 2006

Don't Be a Pig, Do a Project


View larger image

compared to humans

In the wake of the E. coli outbreak in spinach, those of us who tend toward the porky are getting really worried that soon our favorite green leafy diet foods will surprise us in unpleasant ways, and , worse, we will be forced to eat only safe foods like ice cream and cake. True inspiration to savor produce while it is still pure, and drop a few pounds.

Further inspiration arose in sacred form this week. -- Our Lady of Weight Loss". She is the creation of artist, Janet Taylor, who, when sitting in a group for chunkettes a few years ago, had the brilliant idea of turning her diet into an art project. In doing so she found great personal satisfaction and lost 50 pounds. She has continued to delight herself ever since. Her new book has just been published, and she's making the talk show rounds as we speak.

I find the idea of art dieting quite entertaining, and am trying to align my energy in order to create my own project in this area. Using Prochaska's Model of Change , art dieting has propelled me from Stage 2: Contemplation to Stage 3: Preparation, at least momentarily.

Perhaps I will be just fine the way I am, now that the fashion industry is presenting the fuller figure. With all good intentions, designers have banned skinny models (those with a BMI under 18) from the runway, in hopes of providing healthier role models for young women,.

Actually all I have to do is buy one of those new slimming cameras. You can actually dial how skinny you would like to be.

Soon they'll invent slimming glasses (for one's social circle) and slimming mirrors, to assist those who would like to lose a few to get into the vibration of being slim, before it manifests.

Photo note: The Trojan Pig, a sculpture in the garden of the Decordova Museum. Not exactly high art, but, quite useful for our purpose. I wonder how much weight the sculptor lost doing this project.

Addendum: diet cartoons for those who aren't fully sated.

Posted by Dakota at 06:18 PM

September 20, 2006

Synchronicity and A Same Sex Marriage


View larger image

Ah, an out-of-season white flower. What could that mean? I know, I know, long ago I vowed to give up wedding commentary in favor of the more urgent issues of the day like edgy French philosophy, torture, the invasion of Iran and the the cosmos. However, when synchronicity strikes, sometimes it is necessary to forgo one's fury over fascism and higher intellectual pursuits, and cave in to universal forces.

On Sunday, I read about the following ceremony, which I have included in its entirety, for fear that the Times will prevent access momentarily:

The New York Times Style Section Sept 17, 2006

VOWS: The Committment Ceremony of Adam Berger and Stephen Frank

THEY had been close friends for years, first at college and later in New York, but now Adam Berger was baring his soul to Stephen Frank. “I have news: I don’t play on your team,” he said, adapting the line from “Seinfeld.”

They had gotten to know each other as freshmen at Harvard. As college progressed, they became best friends, dated women and ultimately became suite mates.

They bickered, they quibbled, they finished each other’s sentences practically before the one speaking knew what he was actually going to say. So much so, that friends jokingly began to refer to them as an old married couple.

“We considered each other best friends,” Mr. Frank recalled. “We were part of larger group, but the two of us within that group had a special bond. There was something there.”

Still, no one — not even Mr. Frank or Mr. Berger, they each insist — had any idea what that “something” between them was.

“I didn’t have even the remotest inkling, nor did any of our friends,” Mr. Frank recalled. “Neither one of us had acted on it in any way with anyone, and we were both dating women.”

After graduation, when Mr. Frank moved to Berlin on a Rotary scholarship, the men corresponded and even traveled together. Then Mr. Frank returned to New York, where Mr. Berger was living, and they picked up their friendship as if it had never left off.

One day in August 1996, Mr. Berger asked Mr. Frank to meet him for lunch. Mr. Frank had taken one bite of a burrito when Mr. Berger blurted out the news that he was gay. Mr. Frank said he was completely amazed.

Mr. Berger, now 33 and a vice president and senior investment strategist in an asset management unit of Goldman Sachs, remembered: “I hadn’t told that many people, so I was focusing on his reaction. I didn’t notice that he was nervous. I came away thinking how supportive he’d been.”

Mr. Frank, also 33 and an associate at the New York law firm of Cravath, Swaine & Moore, countered wryly: “He didn’t know how supportive I was.”

Mr. Frank added: “I went from not being willing to acknowledge that I was having these feelings, to ‘This is unbelievable good fortune. This is the person I’m closest to in the world, and we could actually act on this.’ ’’

That same evening it was Mr. Frank who had news, delivered with a line worthy of “Seinfeld.”

“I haven’t been totally straight with you either,” he told Mr. Berger as they ambled through SoHo.

“You?” Mr. Berger exclaimed, stunned. By the next week, the best friends had become a couple.

Carolyn Rendell, a Harvard friend, recalled the moment she noticed the change in their relationship. “They mentioned they were going to watch Princess Diana’s funeral. I wondered, ‘What were they doing watching TV together at 5 in the morning?’ And soon after that I figured it out.”

“The transition from being friends to being partners — that felt easy,” Mr. Frank said. After all, they already knew each other.

“We work very well together,” Mr. Berger explained. “Our personalities are very different. Steve is less even-keeled.”

“We’re pretty complementary,” Mr. Frank chimed in. “One of the things I admire most and love most is that he balances me very well and has a very calming effect on me.”

David Pentlow, a married friend of theirs who shared a suite with the men their senior year and who noted that early on he, too, saw no hint of what was to come, said: “There was no period of artificiality, no period before there was comfort. It took at least a year or two for my wife and me to be that unvarnished.”

On Sept. 3, Mr. Berger and Mr. Frank celebrated 10 years as partners— and a lifetime ahead that they hope will include children — before 120 guests in a commitment ceremony at Blue Hill at Stone Barns, the restaurant in Pocantico Hills, N.Y. After the ceremony, led by Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, the wine flowed and the toasts along with it. Ms. Rendell offered words inspired by Wendy Wasserstein’s “Heidi Chronicles,” in which one character tells another that if they can’t marry they should be great friends. “Adam and Steve have shown us that nothing can stop true love, that there are no insurmountable barriers to what is true and what is real.”

Mr. Berger said, “All around us were these wonderful couples who’d also been married, and it seemed important to affirm our relationship and do it in a public way.” He added, “If some constraints stopped us from being able to do it, we would have carried on with our lives, but part of life is being able to celebrate wonderful things.”

I was moved by the sweetness of their denial, as I know you are, but decided not to write about it because I had taken my own vows.

Then, what should appear in my cyberconsciousness yesterday? "A Straight Person's Guide to Gay Etiquette"

But you're worried. You know, from various statistics that have seeped into your brain via the media, that approximately one in ten Americans is either gay or lesbian. And yet, to your knowledge, no one you know is homosexual. Since you know more than ten people, you can only assume that this is because your gay and lesbian acquaintances are still in the closet, at least relative to you. Your fear is that one day, one of them is bound to come out to you -- and you won't know what to do.

You want to do what's right. But this wasn't covered in Home Ec. Miss Manners remains silent on the subject. You'd ask your mother, but she wouldn't understand. And if you knew which of your friends were gay or lesbian, you wouldn't be in this fix in the first place. What to do?

The table of contents includes:

* Chapter 1 -- The Casual Coming Out
* Chapter 2 -- Introductory Intaking With A Novice Outcomer
* Chapter 3 -- Fraught With Peril -- Coming Out At Close Range
* Chapter 4 -- "So Your Point Is...?": The Bisexual Coming Out
* Chapter 5 -- Spreading The News, Or Not

Section 2: Advanced Coming Out

* Chapter 1 -- The Accidental Coming Out
* Chapter 2 -- The Crush-Induced Coming Out
* Chapter 3 -- What To Do When You Woop
* Chapter 4 -- Taking a Transsexual In

Section 3: Beyond Coming Out

* Chapter 1 -- How Not To Flaunt Your Heterosexuality
* Chapter 2 -- Polite Conversation
* Chapter 3 -- How Not To Be Like Congress
* Chapter 4 -- Weddings and Other Nightmares
* Chapter 5 -- I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means

And I simply could not resist.

Photo note: A cyclamen in my kitchen at dawn, when things look purer than they ever do in direct sunlight. Weddingy, with simple masculine lines, don't you think?

Posted by Dakota at 08:01 PM

September 19, 2006

The Pope Sticks His Foot In It


View larger image

This morning I bumped into my elegant Italian friend, who felt that the Pope's anti Islamist remarks could spell trouble for Italy. I never thought of that. To refresh your memory, here's exactly what P. Benedict said:

"The emperor comes to speak about the issue of jihad, holy war. He said, I quote, 'Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached.'"

Kinda provocative.

I have always considered the Pope's morality to be flawed, at best. Moving right past all of the gold hats and real estate, when so many Catholics are starving, I hold him, and his beloved predecessor, responsible for the spread of HIV/AIDS in Africa, [make that the world]. and cannot understand why Cardinal Law, who was complicit in all of the Boston sexual abuse cases, has not only been gathered into the bosom of the boys at the Vatican, but promoted. However, I would certainly not wish a jihad upon Benedict.

To his credit, in a somewhat humbled moment for a Pope, he did try to apologize. Muammar Gaddifi's son feels the apology didn't go far enough, and has asked him to convert to Islam. Too bad, Gaddifi, the fundamentalist Christians got there first.

Bet you wondered what the Pope was referring to in his insult. Here's the back story. Why we reading it on the blog, corrente, and not in the New York Times? Maybe you need to be a farmer to do the diggingl

In the words of the ultimate Christian "Judge not lest ye be judged"

Photo note: The twisted cross on the rocks --- actually shot at the Swedenborgian church, but fancy crosses are hard to find in my archives.

Posted by Dakota at 07:08 PM

Politics Again, Sorry


View larger image

I awoke this morning with my nightie in a knot, as NPR annnounced that the theme of President Bush's speech to the UN will be "using democracy as a weapon in the war against terror". Guess the Pres is taking time out from stumping for torture. How did democracy get to be a weapon, anyway? I know.........the term was rhetorically highjacked `by the (almost) biggest bully that ever ruled. (and he IS ruling, since there is much evidence that he was not elected).

On the bright side, Keith Olbermann has,once again, articulated the truth on national television. His ratings are up 73%, and he hasn't been relieved of his duties... yet.

I'm off to vote in the Massachusetts primaries, and am excited to have a choice between three honorable democrats-- (astonishing). The leader of the pack, Deval Patrick, is an avowed liberal, and a breath of fresh air.

Our current governor, Willard (Mitt, as we in the Commonwealth fondly refer to him) Romney, has been leaning so far to the right that he has tumbled into the 2008 neoconservative presidential pit. Although he has a made-for-TV face, he's a Mormon, and that's not quite Christian enough for some, in spite of the underwear. Mitty's handmaiden, Kerry Healy will run in the Republican slot. She has a very supportive hubby.

If Deval wins, with Willard out, if things get really terrible, maybe Massachusetts can secede from the union.

Photo note: Lots of lines, yellow, steel, some reflected, some merging and a few triangles. It's a break from all those flowers, at least

Posted by Dakota at 06:20 AM

September 17, 2006



View larger image

Thought I'd share a few things I collected over the weekend that felt uplifting (besides those things which are not purely positve, like the fishy pre election plummeting of the price of gas, the promptest apology in history by a Pope, and identification of the E. coli sources).

I subscribed to Good Magazine, 26 year old, Inc. Magazine heir Ben Goldhirsh's new venture. He is one of the privileged, (Andover, Brown, 10 million to throw into the venture), who is trying to use his resources to impact society in a positive way.

“There is a hunger out there,” he explained. “If you go to any top college and meet the students, they all have these causes. And when they graduate, they have idealism as an ambition. There’s a real gap between that vision and what you can actually do. So we want to integrate living well and doing good.”

To this end, one of the magazine’s early marketing gimmicks is that the annual subscription fee of $20 for six issues will go to a charity the reader chooses. The campaign is called Choose Good.

Subscription money to charity? Hardly a business model. “This doesn’t sound like a completely serious business venture,” said Mr. Block, [a retired magazine executive, publisher and consultant] who has not seen the magazine, when he heard about the idea. “I’m not saying they’re not serious about what they’re doing. But there’s nothing wrong with a profit motive, and the first law of any start-up should be survival.”

Good for him.

My, soon to be famous, netty friend Natalie over at Blaugustine discovered, via a circuitous route, Animusic's delightful Pipe Dream. If, after clicking, you scroll down and look over to the right, you will see an entire array of their productions to enjoy.

Photo note: AND I took a pretty picture at the farmstand, where I was busy buying locally grown, not quite organic produce. What are those flowers anyway? -- They're everywhere

Posted by Dakota at 08:26 PM

September 16, 2006

Subtle Control


View larger image

As long as we're on the subject of controlling others , (weren't we?), I happened upon a fascinating website that has made me look at the world from an entirely new perpective. I just knew you'd be interested.

Dan Lockton, a British industrial designer, engineer and writer has been studying the architectures of control- how products increasingly control and restrict your behavior. Do not fritter away your time reading Dakota this morning, use it to wander around his place. You'll be astonished.

Photo note: I haven't started to find my own examples yet, because this stuff is subtle. However, on my route to work, I have noticed that an UnHarvard University, in cooperation with the City of Cambridge, seems to have installed a series of speed mountains (these are not bumps, they are eight feet across and two feet high) to slow traffic along a public street, which UnHarvard is sucking up as their campus. I am unwilling to drive to shoot them of a Sunday morn, so we will have to be content with a morning glory strangling a fence post.

Posted by Dakota at 09:44 AM

September 15, 2006

Arab Reflections


View larger image

Marc Lynch, an associate professor of political science at Williams, and proprietor of the blog Abu Aardvark surveyed the Arab press on the fifth anniversary of 9/11 in his piece "Arab reflections on the Anniversary of 9/11"

I'm struck by the level of consensus over how bad things are five years after 9/11. I looked at more than a dozen newspapers from eight Arab countries (along with the three London-based pan-Arab dailies), whose columnists generally range from extreme anti-Americans to partisan pro-Americans. I could find only a handful of columnists arguing that the war on terror has made things better for the United States, its ideas, or its allies (they mainly vary on whether they see all this as a good or a bad thing). Whether writing in opposition to America or in support of it, Arab columnists seem pretty unanimously to see Islamist extremism on the rise, democracy in retreat, and American influence in tatters. They almost universally blame Bush for making things worse than they had to be, and particularly identify the invasion of Iraq as the key mistake, the point where things all went wrong. That all might be self-serving and hypocritcal, insightful and brilliantly observed, or whatever. But it is what's being written and said, for the most part.

Would that the US press would reach the same conclusions.

This morning I also heard an interview on NPR with Moazzam Begg one of the nine British Islamists who were held by the US, (released in 2005), author of "Enemy Combatant: My Imprisonment at Guantanamo, Bagram and Kandahar", which documents the torture this thoughtful man suffered in prisons operated under the auspices of the US government. In spite of ongoing US accusations, he is hard to demonize.

On September 14, he wrote an editorial in the Boston Globe about being asked to be a defense witness in the case against PFC Damien Corsetti for detainee abuse. Here are some of his words, just in case the Globe erases them on line.

The then specialist, Damien Corsetti , didn't mistreat me. He never interrogated me and he always passed by my cage with a smile, often stopping to talk. He even gave me reading books at a time when they were hard to come by. One of the books, ironically, Heller's ``Catch-22," is described as ``the classic antiwar novel of our time." I was even allowed to bring it with me to England, where it remains on my bookshelf, next to another book from US soldiers: a military issue of the Bible, in full camouflage jacket.

I often found myself discussing religion with guards and interrogators, some of whom were Christian Evangelists or Southern Baptists. I thought it important to try to explain similarities between the Bible and the Koran , as well as looking at the fundamental differences in belief and perception. Perhaps, I thought, it might help some of my captors appreciate that we all held things sacred.

Last year, when Newsweek published a report alleging the desecration of the Koran by guards in Guantanamo, I was surprised -- surprised that the article had materialized so late. Many former prisoners had complained about the abuse well before, including me. However, my personal analysis of the affair was simple: the Koran may be the sacred, unadulterated speech of the Almighty to me and 1.6 billion other Muslims, but to the average soldier it is paper and ink. If, in his or her mind, it was justified to redefine the rules of engagement to include the application of torture then what of a mere book?

One cannot help but admire a man who retains such empathy and a sense of justice, in spite of his unconscionable treatment at the hands of our government.

Unspeakable acts are being carried out by the Bush administration in the name of democracy, and he only wants permission to carry out more. We have alienated the entire world, created rage, fueled impulses for retaliation, killed thousands (both ours and theirs) ruined the lives, bodies, homes and businesses of hundreds of thousands more, and Bush continues his relentless pursuit of " the enemy". The Emperor may have no clothes, but he has an addiction to power that will never be satisfied, and must be stopped.

Photo note: Kind of an Arabic flavor for a Boston shot with a bonus for bars. The best I could do from my archive, which is short on pictures of instruments of torture, so far.

Addendum: Dan Froomkin's edifying piece on Bush, congress and torture

Posted by Dakota at 07:26 AM

September 13, 2006

Rotting Bananas


View arger image

As you can see by this morning's photograph, I am , once again, disheartened by what I hear of the Maryland primaries. I have grave concerns about the "glitches" (a kind word for the most undemocratic of felonies -- tampering with the vote) in the Maryland primaries. Diebold is at it again. As long as there are Diebold machines counting the vote in this country, we will never again have a fair election.

Jimmy Carter, oh monitor of fair elections worldwide, where are you when we need you? I just hate those damn machines. I know we could make something much better

In case tampering with the vote isn't quite enough to win, our Savior is starting with the encoded messages to "good" Christians.

With the Chrisitian right and the hackable machines in place, winning future elections will be a piece of cake, but W. has an even greater task to accomplish. As he told Katie, one of the hardest parts of his job is to connect Iraq with the war on terror. Perhaps he could use a little assistance

Photo note: I took a picture before I tossed the bananas. I'm allergic, or I would have made banana bread. I like to thnk that they have served a higher purpose, nonetheless.

Posted by Dakota at 07:45 PM

September 12, 2006



View larger image

An interesting internet ethical dilemma has cropped up. You may have missed it if you don't hang around in certain circles.

I question why it took an idea like this so long to surface on the internet. Probably because all the old radical feminists are not thinking in a cyberly fashion. So this entry is dedicated to any old radical femininsts who read this blog.

Here's the poop. An ad with an explicit, quite unalluring, photo (but that's only my opinion) of a woman was posted on Craig's List seeking a man who would like to beat her up, and carry on with her in a carnal ways. Violet Blue over at tiny nibbles has the whole story.

CAUTION: If you are at work, in the public library, or minding small children at the moment, best to wait to read the in depth version until you have a modicum of privacy. Or you could take your laptop to the restroom now.

Jason Fortuny, the fellow who posted this ad, then posted the 178 replies he received in response, complete with email addresses, naughty photos and nasty messages. A homemade sting, as 'twere. It is called the CL (Craig's List) Experiment, and there has been much debate about the ethics of this practice. I'll let Vi fill you in, and throw in some additional comments from another site about the issues raised herewith.

Photo note: A fanciful pillow, discovered garage sailing by an old radical feminist friend --the closest thing to hard core porn we do here at Dakota. We especially like the blue ball, since it lends such a metaphorophotographic touch.

Addendum: porno at it's cutest, as long as we're on the subject.

Posted by Dakota at 06:37 PM

September 11, 2006


View larger image

a few

View larger image

of the
in the

View larger image


View larger image


View larger image


View larger image


View larger image

trying to

View larger image



Posted by Dakota at 10:33 PM

September 10, 2006

Laundering the Photo Op


View ;arger image

At about 5:20 PM Sunday, a dear and close personal relative called me from the streets of Manhattan. He had just watched the Bushicade wending its way to the bald spot that was once the World Trade Center for a fifth anniversary photo op.

He called to report a phenomenon that he had never before observed, and found spooky. -- the street was lined with people hissing and booing the presidential motorcade. I haven't seen this reported in the papers or even on the internet , and I have every reason to believe my tipster. I, personally, find it heartening, but maybe it's just the neighborhood.

Bush ought to be celebrating. After all, 9/11 made our boy failure into a real American War President, and gave him the primary rationale for establishing the benevolent police state in which we now find ourselves. Actually, it's not that benevolent.

Photo note: Flag unfurled and reflected outside the local laundromat. Cleansing the story.

Addendum: Changing 9/11 history

Posted by Dakota at 10:10 PM

September 07, 2006

Denial and Projection


View larger image

If you really read to the end of the discussion between Noam Chomsky and Robert Trivers in the last entry, then read no further, or read it again. Attention is everything. Feel free to simply look at the picture and try to figure out why it was chosen, or watch something uncanny instead.

Noam Chomsky: Are there ways of studying self-deception?

Robert Trivers Yes, there was a brilliant study by [Ruben] Gur and [Harold] Sackeim, about 20 years ago—which was a very difficult one to do then, you could do it much more easily now—based on the fact that we respond to hearing our own voice with greater arousal than we do to hearing another human's voice. In both cases we show physiological arousal—galvanic skin response is one such measure. There's twice as big a jump if you hear your own voice.

Now, what you can do is have people matched for age and sex, read the same boring paragraph from Thomas Kuhn's "Structure of Scientific Revolution," chop it up into two, four, six and 12 second segments, and create a master tape where some of the time they're hearing their own voice, but a lot of the time they're not.

Then they've got to press a button indicating if they think it's their own and a second button to indicate how sure they are. But meanwhile they have the galvanic skin response.

Now they discovered two interesting things. First of all, some people denied their own voice some of the time but the skin always had it right. Some projected their own voice some of the time, the skin always had it right.

The deniers denied the denial, but half the time, the projectors were willing to admit afterwards that they thought they'd made the mistake of projection.

NC: What do you think the reason for that is?

RT: The difference between the projectors and the deniers? Well, I don't have a good way of putting it, Noam, but to me when you want to deny reality, you've got to act quickly and get it out of sight. The deniers also showed the highest levels of galvanic skin response to all stimuli. It's like they were primed to do it. And inventing reality is a little bit more of a relaxed enterprise I suppose.

NC: It's not as threatening.

RT: Yes, something like that. The final thing Gur and Sackeim showed was that they could manipulate it. Psychologists have lots of devices for making you feel bad about yourself, and one of them is just to give you an exam. They did this with university students. Then they told half of them, you did lousy, and half of them, you did well.

And what they found was that those who were made to feel badly about themselves started to deny their own voice more, while those who were feeling good started hearing themselves talking when they weren't. Now since we didn't evolve to hear our voice on a tape recorder, we have to interpret here. But it's like self-presentation is contracting on your failure and expanding on your success.

But back to your question, among animals, birds in particular have been shown to have the same physiological arousal that humans do—arousal to their own species song, and more arousal to their particular voice.

NC: So higher for their species and still higher for themselves?

RT: Exactly.

NC: Is there any kin effect?

RT: That's a good question, and I don't know the answer. In general, kin relations in birds are poorly developed—they often don't even nest next to their relatives.
But in principle I thought you could run a Gur and Sackeim experiment on birds, where pecking could substitute for pushing the button on the computer. You would train them in a reward system to peck when they recognize their own song.

NC: So how do you get to self-deceit from this?

RT: Well, you would manipulate them once again by, for example, subjecting some birds to negative experiences like losing fights, which you could rig by matching them with animals that are somewhat larger than them. And similarly, others would get to win fights. And then you could see if there's a tendency to deny self.

NC: You might be interested in a book that's coming out by a very smart guy, James Peck, a Sinologist, who has a book coming out called Washington's China, in which he does a very in-depth analysis of the National Security culture. It's about the imagery of China that was constructed in Washington.

He went through the National Security Council literature, background literature and so on, and he does both an analysis of content and a psychological analysis. I was reminded of it the whole time you were talking.

Information is often somewhere in the organism; it's just well-hidden, down in the unconscious. And it's often inaccessible because you build up firewalls against it.

What he says is that there are elaborate techniques of self-deception to try to build a framework in which we can justify things like, say, invading or overthrowing the government of Guatemala, on the basis of some new objective. And it's done by making everything simple. You have to make it clearer than the truth.

RT: Right.

NC: And as this picture gets created internally and built up by each group of National Security staffers, it becomes like a real fundamentalist religion, showing extraordinary self-deceit. And then you end up with the Cheneys and the Rumsfelds.

RT: I've been appalled lately when I pass a newsstand and there's some article, "China, the Next Threat," saying, "Now we've got to mobilize all our energy against China"—and they're talking military.

NC: That's interesting, because the threat of China is not military.

RT: Exactly.

NC: The threat of China is they can't be intimidated—in fact it's very similar to what you've described. Europe you can intimidate. When the US tries to get people to stop investing in Iran, European companies pull out, China disregards it.

RT: Right.

NC: You look at history and understand why—China's been around for 4,000 years and just doesn't give a damn. So the West screams, and they just go ahead and take over a big piece of Saudi or Iranian oil. You can't intimidate them—it's driving people in Washington berserk.

But, you know, of all the major powers, they've been the least aggressive militarily.

RT: No, the obvious threat—I mean, the obvious "threat"—is economic.

NC: And I think they plan it carefully. Like when President Hu Jintao was in Washington. When he left, he was going on a world trip. The next stop was Saudi Arabia. And that's a slap in the face to the US. It's just saying, "We don't care what you say."

RT: Right.

NC: I'm sure it was planned. That's the kind of thing that intimidates. It's a little bit like a gorilla pounding at its chest.

RT: Yeah, exactly. More power to them.

Joggling denial and projection is a difficult task. Hopefully it's not hopeless.

Photo note: A book cover shot in the window of the Lorem Ipsum Bookstore. A loose association that even I don't quite understand.

Posted by Dakota at 02:13 PM

September 06, 2006

Deceipt and Self Deception


View larger image

Enough of natural beauty, and exotic sundae toppings that set the heart aflutter. A serious, nay, learned, discussion is in order on the subject of deceit and self deception. A most relevant topic, as ABC airs the truthie, revised, neoconservative reconstitution of "9/11".

I could go on, but then I would risk the possibility that you will skip a most edifying conversation about deceit and self deception between Robert Trivers and Noam Chomsky. I know, I could hardly gather the will to plunge into their discussion either, but, once wet, it was clear and invigorating. I guarantee that you will be rewarded. A sample

Robert Trivers: So you're talking about self-deception in at least two contexts. One is intellectuals who, in a sense, go through a process of education which results in a self-deceived organism who is really working to serve the interests of the privileged few without necessarily being conscious of it at all. The other thing is these massive industries of persuasion and deception, which, one can conceptualize, are also inducing a form of either ignorance or self-deception in listeners, where they come to believe that they know the truth when in fact they're just being manipulated.

War is one of the major issues about which Americans deceive themselves. Gabriel Kolko, the war historian, points out that war is becoming democratized, accessible to all. More and more nations possess devastating weaponry. The US has been an generous participant in the global distribution of lethal weapons. Ultimately, it was a terrible idea and is backfiring badly. The United States has also "intervened" militarily over 150 times since 1898. Impressive for a benevolent democracy, eh?

This lack of control leads America's leaders to a lack of coherence and a loss of priorities, because when wars begin their eventual consequences and outcome can never be predicted. This was true long before the U.S. became the preeminent global power and it is still the case. Events over the past year have confirmed that destabilization and friends becoming enemies--and via versa--are the rule in warfare and grand geopolitics, and to be expected. America's interventions since 1947 have usually not succeeded by the criteria it originally defined, and its security at the beginning of the twenty-first century is much more imperiled than it was fifty years ago.

The U.S. has more determined and probably more numerous enemies today than ever, and many of those who hate it are ready and able to inflict death and destruction on its shores. Its interventions often triumphed in the purely military sense, which is all the Pentagon worries about, but they have been political failures in all too many cases and led to yet more interventions. Its virtually instinctive activist mentality has led it to leap into situations where it often had no interests, much less durable solutions, and where it has repeatedly created disasters and enduring enmities. America has power without wisdom, and cannot recognize the limits of arms despite its repeated experiences. The result has been folly, and hatred, which is a recipe for disasters. September 11 confirmed that. The war has come home.

Wouldn't it be better to make peace?

Photo note: Ah, at last, a metaphorophoto. Here we have the American Flag, diminished, blurred, distorted, reflected, immersed in glass blue skies and the arched structure that is representative of the corporate. At the very bottom of the photo are several scraggly, leafless branches representing nature in this context. Snappy , huh?.

Addendum:"The Great Equalizer" by Gabriel Kolko appended here because it kept eradicating my entry when I tried to embed it.

Posted by Dakota at 06:55 PM

Eating Dogwood and other Useless Information


View larger image

Apologies for a short hiatus from bloggishness due to a move to China, and its overflow into an already overflowing space. Elbow room is currently at a premium until the cherished books of all the dear and close personal bookworms are delivered to the latest idea in used bookstores, Lorem Ipsum, for cash, but even better, to other bookworms who will cherish them the way they deserve to be cherished. It's a small comfort.

I just threw up (so to speak) a pretty enough picture, of a Kousa dogwood fruit, in order to assure you that I am still operating, however inefficiently. For those who have come to expect deeper exploration, or suffer from lassitude of the loins and knees, dizziness, tinnitus, night sweat, or spermatorrhear, you will find this little fruit most intriguing. They're very pretty and the only recipe I could find uses them as a healthy, textured, exotic alternative to a maraschino cherry. You can also make jellies and jams, but I expect that would be labor intensive due to all the peeling and seeding required.

A bit of advice from lucky_p, a veterinary pathologist and dogwood fruit sampler, "You don't want to eat the whole fruit - the skin is gritty and disagreeable. Just tear 'em open and massage/suck the pulp into your mouth. They're OK in small numbers, but I wouldn't want to sit down and eat a whole bunch of them at one sitting. I've had one friend who indicated that he experienced a 'racing heartbeat'(tachycardia?) following eating Kousa fruits, but it's never been a problem for me."

I shall harvest a few for autumnal hot fudge sundaes. Bon apetit!

Photo note: The fruit, in various stages of ripeness.

Posted by Dakota at 08:38 AM

September 03, 2006



View larger image

This morning, on my way to finding morning glories for a diffferent post, I flipped through the eyeful moments that I recorded last weekend. I realized that among all those cosmic signs, Phillipino totems and pink carnations, I had some lovely cliche shots to share.


View image

Last week, while binging on cliches, I searched google images for a visual to hypertext the word. Those damn sunrises were all over the place (as well as a substantial number of flowers). They are so breathtakingly beautiful, so inspiring, so healing, especially when experienced live and "in person". As the the words set in stone on the new granite memorial bench at the beach say. "Sunsets are like looking thru the gates of heaven" . Why then, are sunrise/sunset photographs thought to be cliches? Because the beauty of a sunset evokes a consistent positive response in everyone. It is the spectacle of the universe. The impulse to store a sacred moment is universal, therefore there are lots of photographs, rendering them common enought to be considered cliche. The photograph, alas, weak medicine compared to being there, fully in one's person.

I was just about to say that anyone can participate in a sunrise if they get up early enough. Then I thought about the necessity of being near a vista in order see one. Then I thought about all those people who live in cities who never have the opportunity to experience this kind of beauty "in person". And then I thought about poverty. And then I thought about places that are impoverished, but have natural vistas, like the Carribbean, or the Andes, the Himalayas or Indonesia. Does access to the beauty of nature change the way other deprivations are experienced?.


View larger image

Which brings me to my final cloud photograph. Here you have the beauty of nature, reflected in a matrix of sorts, cut through with wires, touching the sewer. A visual answer to my question. It takes more effort to find beauty when conditions are imperfect. Nature trains the eye. Beauty is harder to see when the eye has not been conditioned by beautiful natural phenomenon. Or you could start with training the ear

So let's all get out there on this last long weekend of summer, and find something beautiful or amusing to appreciate, as Ernesto and John provide us with challenges.

Photo notes:

Posted by Dakota at 06:41 AM

September 01, 2006

Nirvana Becoming Clearer


View larger image

Are you surprised to find me here of a summer Saturday. You have Ernesto and John to thank, since they seem to have spoiled Labor Day Weekend. Much better than a major American city, so I'm not complaining,... really.

I met a my dear and close personal friend for a skim milk cappucino yesterday. The first thing she pointed out to me, as we entered the cafe that makes you think you are in Denmark (were people are happiest) was a goodies product line called Nirvana -- ( I have failed to capture the richness of the blue on the label). I knew we were going to have fun.

We laughed hard enough to call attention to ourselves, discussed our work, synchronicities, energy alignment and belief, madness and mercury poisoning (of particular concern today, since I have served swordfish two days in a row, due to a price per pound unheard of since the sixties), severely neglected children of the rich and famous, Laparoscopic Gastric Banding for weight loss, where a balloon band, filled with saline, is surgically wrapped around your stomach, making portion control mandatory -- the saline can be augmented from time to time to tighten it up, should you fail to change your eating habits, as well as the post weight loss treatment of a full body Brazilian skin lift ( they roll all seventeen yards of your deflated skin around your waist and snip it off. Ugh). You know, the usual.

Along the way she mentioned the Bush Quiz in The New Yorker. Since I have the last 1500 issues in my waiting room, which I never get to read, I went right over to find it for all of us who missed it. Turns out it's on line too, so I don't suppose I'm doing anything criminal by passing it along. Answers are at the bottom

Issue of 2006-08-07
Posted 2006-07-31

1. Complete George W. Bush’s quote: “I believe that my job is _____.”

(a) to protect life. And sometimes people have to die in order to protect life, see? And that saddens me.
(b) hard. It’s a heckuva hard job. It’s difficult. But I’m doin’ it, see, and I’m gonna keep on doin’ it, because that’s the job of a President.
(c) to go out and explain to people what’s on my mind. That’s why I’m having this press conference, see? I’m telling you what’s on my mind. And what’s on my mind is winning the war on terror.
(d) to construe the laws I sign in a Presidential way. Because that’s part of being a leader, see, is construing with your gut.

2. Who is Peter Wallsten?

(a) The partially blind reporter whom George W. Bush mocked (“Are you going to ask that question with shades on?”) for not removing his sunglasses while addressing the President.
(b) The wheelchair-bound senior citizen whom George W. Bush mocked (“You look mighty comfortable”) for not standing in the presence of the President.
(c) The C.I.A. employee who, after delivering the “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” briefing, was told by George W. Bush, “All right, you’ve covered your ass now.”
(d) The Iraq-war amputee with whom George W. Bush tried to bond by telling him about a scratch he got during “combat with a cedar” while clearing brush.

Match the number with what it quantifies.

3. At least 30,000.
4. More than 5,000.
5. Zero.
6. Around 200.

(a) Dollars’ worth of merchandise that the former Bush domestic-policy adviser Claude Allen was alleged to have stolen from Target and other stores through a phony refund scam.
(b) Shotgun pellets embedded in the face and upper body of Harry Whittington by Dick Cheney.
(c) National monuments or icons that Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff said there are in New York City.
(d) dollars donated by Barbara Bush to a hurricane relief fund with the stipulation that the money be spent on software bought from a company run by her son Neil.

7. Complete George W. Bush’s quote: “Nobody likes _______.”

(a) it when the press commits treason.
(b) being lied to.
(c) Osama bin Laden except the Democrats.
(d) beheadings.

8. Three of these quotes were made by George W. Bush. Which one was made by Donald Rumsfeld?

(a) “Nobody likes war. It creates a sense of—of uncertainty in the country.”
(b) “The plan [in Iraq] is to prevent a civil war, and, to the extent one were to occur, to have the, from a security standpoint, have the Iraqi security forces deal with it to the extent they’re able to.”
(c) “Sometimes leaders show up who do a great disservice to the traditions and people of a country. ”
(d) “There are limits to how much corn can be used for ethanol. After all, we got to eat some.”

Who’s who?

9. John Green.

10. James B. Comey.

11. James E. Hansen.

12. Harry Taylor.

(a) The “Good Morning America” producer who was suspended after e-mails he sent, including one in which he wrote, “Bush makes me sick,” were leaked.
(b) The NASA official who said, “It seems more like Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union than the United States,” after the Administration began censoring climate scientists who tried to speak about global warming.
(c) The Justice Department official who refused to authorize the National Security Agency’s domestic surveillance program.
(d) The questioner at a Charlotte event who told George W. Bush, “I would hope, from time to time, that you have the humility and the grace to be ashamed of yourself.”

13. How did Dick Cheney say that the September 11th attacks might have been prevented?

(a) If George W. Bush’s father had taken out Saddam Hussein in 1991.
(b) If the Bush Administration had been able to eavesdrop on the hijackers’ phone conversations without court orders.
(c) If the National Security Agency hadn’t waited until September 12th to translate two messages warning of the attacks which had been intercepted on September 10th.
(d) If even one of the F.B.I. agent Harry Samit’s more than seventy warnings that Zacarias Moussaoui was a terrorist had been heeded.

14. Three of these quotes were made by George W. Bush. Which one was made by Dick Cheney?

(a) “I do want to give you some thoughts about what I’m thinking about.”
(b) “They ought to learn to sing the national anthem in English.”
(c) “We have all the legal authority we need.”
(d) “When you turn on your TV screen and see innocent people die day in and day out, it affects the mentality of our country.”

15. What pair of men did George W. Bush refer to as an “interesting cat” and a “dangerous dude”?

(a) The Iraqi Defense Minister and the Al Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
(b) Elvis Presley and “Colonel” Tom Parker, during the guided tour of Graceland that Bush gave to Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.
(c) Owen Wilson and Matt Dillon, after a special White House screening of “You, Me and Dupree.”

16. What was George W. Bush talking about when he declared, “I’m the decider, and I decide what’s best”?

(a) Pushing ahead with the Dubai ports deal despite not having known about it until it appeared in the media.
(b) Blocking a Justice Department probe of the Administration’s secret domestic spying operation.
(c) Keeping Donald Rumsfeld as Defense Secretary despite calls by six retired generals for his firing.
(d) Vetoing a stem-cell-research bill.

17. What did George W. Bush say was “the best moment” during his years in the White House?

(a) “The first day I sat at my desk in the Oval Office and thought about all the history that happened there and realized that now it was my turn.”
(b) “When I caught a seven-and-a-half-pound largemouth bass on my lake.”
(c) “When they told me we caught Saddam in his hidey-hole.”

18. True or false: When Tim Russert, the host of “Meet the Press,” said that “there were a lot of misjudgments made” regarding Iraq, his guest Condoleezza Rice pointed out, “There are also some misjudgments that were not made.”

19. Which of these words were among the top ten responses in a Pew Research Center poll that asked voters for the first word that came to mind when they think about George W. Bush?

(a) “Decisive,” “charming,” “brilliant,” and “truthful.”
(b) “Booze,” “cocaine,” “failure,” and “smirk.”
(c) “Illegitimate,” “simian,” “hotheaded,” and “torture.”
(d) “Incompetent,” “idiot,” “liar,” and “ass.”


(1) c, (2) a, (3) d, (4) a, (5) c, (6) b, (7) d, (8) b, (9) a, (10) c, (11) b, (12) d, (13) b, (14) c, (15) a, (16) c, (17) b, (18) True, (19) d

Another Bush Quiz in case you liked that one

Photo note: It's hard to be surreptitious and artistic at the same time. Notice that Nirvana is becoming clearer and clearer, closer and closer. This happens to be a stack of nougat. I enhanced the glow a bit for obvious reasons.

Posted by Dakota at 02:08 PM




aqua eyes
from above

girders and


drawn and

a picture
of hope


Photo note: Lots of bridge shots this week. Guess we're going somewhere. Or maybe we're just hanging out on the ocean more.

View larger image

Posted by Dakota at 07:34 AM