February 24, 2007

The Door


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As synchronicity would have it, yesterday metafilter had a very interesting piece about the botanist Joseph Rock and his work in Lijaing China -- right where we're headed. Hope our photos are as interesting.


Back in two weeks.

Photo note: Out the front door into the unknown

Posted by Dakota at 09:00 PM

February 22, 2007

One More Word


The mainstream press, and their darling Tony Snow, really dislike blogs. Some bloggers, unlike ourselves, actually have impressive credentials. And there are those journalists, like Dan Froomkin, a Nieman Fellow from White House Watch at washingtonpost.com, who use blogs and the internet fully to report the truth.

Actually there are many bloggers who do this in a number of areas. Paul Levy CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital just got in trouble with his peers for openly reporting his hospital's infection rates on his blog, Running A Hospital The CEO of his chief rival asked a Boston Globe reporter interviewing him for the story "What's a blog?".

Revere, at Effect Measure regularly tells the truth about public health issues, like bird flu, spinach, corruption in FDA regulations, the deterioration of the CDC, you know, the usual things that are minimized or distorted by the press and the administration, except, of course, for the creation of panic for political ends.

But enough of this truth stuff -- mere procrastination -- time to delve deeply into the truth about jet lag.

Photo note: Synchronicity can be found in mysterious places. The word is goodbye

Posted by Dakota at 12:24 PM

Moving on Out


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Wouldn't you know that just as I'm about to leave for a visit to matriarchal societies in Yunnan Province, the damn spammers have besieged me with offers of sex, drugs and ringtones - 84 of their disgusting little suggestions were hanging all over my comment sections like kudzu this morning. Lord knows what I will find when I come back.

The folks at work who will miss me most have also devised unique ways to entice me to stay, precipitating crises to turn my attention away from currency exchange and squashing sweaters into vacuum bags.

And the Libby jury is still out - The crew at Firedoglake who have been riveted and reporting blow by blow -- now "wait to learn if there's a possible Libby trial verdict, or whether the jury simply asked for a flip chart, masking tape, and Post-It notes to track Britney's trips in and out of rehab put together an Oscars pool on the government's dime." This trial is very important and they're here to tell us why ... again. I hope something good happens before my departure so that I won't be entirely dependent on CNN for truth. If Libby's convicted, I expect "The Pardon" will be instantaneous. Many a dirty secret has been revealed along the way.

I don't think I've mentioned (though you may have assumed) that I'll be out of the pilot's seat for two weeks. But the rest of the staff here at Dakota will be floating around in cyberperpetuity, so feel free to browse.

Photo note : The travel bug -- with a metaphorophotographic lack of focus. Let's hope it's not contagious -- (puzzled? this is a picture of a lady bug rolling suitcase meant for the young of heart)

Posted by Dakota at 06:39 AM

February 20, 2007

Squashed in Time-Space


Puppets playing with puppets. Is it art or is it Christian?

Or the more pertinent question: Is America Too Damn Religious?

Photo note: Shot from behind

Posted by Dakota at 07:18 AM



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I spent the weekend obsessing about hotels in southwest China. Normally I am drawn to the quaint. However, choosing quaint in a country where one cannot speak the language or read the signs can have its drawbacks. Damp beds and floors slippery from ubiquitous spitting are odious warnings from other travelers. I am not the sport I once was.

Since most computers in the US do not reproduce Chinese characters, one must also ask the hotel for a photo of the sign on the front of their building written in Chinese characters, in order to be able to direct the person who is transporting one from the airport to the proper facility. The translation problem also holds true in restaurants where one never quite knows what one is ordering. I was fortunate indeed to find an outdated takeout menu from Fen Wang House in one of my many piles that has Chinese characters in one column. I shall pack that and point.

The die was finally cast for Jim's Tibetan Hotel (scroll down for the flavor of the countryside), not much of an ethnic name, the owners are Dutch and Tibetan, but good reviews overall. I asked Jim's Dutch proprietress about the possibility of finding a little Thladiantha Palmatipartita for my friends at Soekershof, but she seemed quite put off by my question.

I think I will be glad to be from the political thicket for awhile. Bush is getting more grandiose -- yesterday he compared his struggles with the war on terror to those of George Washington today -- let's see, Harry Truman, FDR, Abe Lincoln-- who's next, need I ask??.

Please take care of this while I'm away by urging your state to introduce an impeachment resolution.

Photo note: Looking to the future

Posted by Dakota at 06:25 AM

February 18, 2007


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Having multidimensional attention deficit disorder has many disadvantages when trying to pack for a trip to a less traveled part of the earth. It's particularly difficult to keep a blog aloft while running again and again to the drugstore for hairgel in quantities smaller than 3.4 ounces Given their elaborate coifs, the girls in Yunnan must have a local source for gel.

While the petty mind is preoccupied with utter nonsense, and members of congress, bless their little hearts, are slapping Bushy wrists, Arthur Silber has been writing to the heart of the matter, challenging all of us to face the truth and asking what we're willing to do to stop this horrendous war.

Photo note: Flag in a vase. Flags with new meaning

Posted by Dakota at 07:21 PM | TrackBack

February 16, 2007

Slapping Something Up From the Sickbed


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Because all of us here at Dakota are still slightly under the weather, this will be an abbreviated entry.

The movie selection today is Imperial History of the Middle East, subtitled "See 5000 years of History in 90 Seconds" -- just our cup of tea.

Should you have a little more than 90 seconds, here's a little something to ponder on a related subject.

Photo note: We're sick -- call it an olive tree and be done with it

Posted by Dakota at 03:53 PM

February 15, 2007



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I was given norovirus for Valentine's Day. Believe me, it took the romance out of everything.

I figured a metaphorophoto was was good idea. The projectile vomiting pictures are best saved for an entry about George Bush.

Photo note: yours to interpret, I'm sick as a dog.

Posted by Dakota at 09:46 AM

February 14, 2007

It's Valentines Day!


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All of us here at Dakota want to wish you a very Happy Valentine's Day

In honor of the occasion we have a movie series.#1, #2, and

(North) Dakota got into the holiday spirit too.

If you hit "continued", Monique Doyle Spencer has some handy hints for the Valentine gift-baffled that the Boston Globe that would have disappeared into their locked closet, had we not rescued it.

Photo note: Mt. Auburn Cemetery is a great place to find cupid.

Cracking the Cupid Code

By Monique Doyle Spencer | February 14, 2007

MARRIED MEN know a secret. In the world of women, there is a Trinity of Holidays, days that must be suffered year after year. Each brings a different trial to test a man's courage. These are a woman's birthday, her wedding anniversary, and Valentine's Day. The most treacherous of these is Valentine's Day.

More relationships end within a week of V-Day than any other day, even high school graduation. This is because women use V-Day as the crystal ball of your fate. They peer into it and look for the Three Signs of Your Doom. First, the gift you give is gravely less expensive than the one you were given. Second, your gift is not wrapped. Third, you give an Idiot gift. My own husband gave me a duplicate pair of cheap earrings I already have "because you like them so much."

But Cupid takes pity on men. He created a secret code for man's survival. Get a pen and pad, this requires a little work on your part. The codes, you see, are hidden in the very words "Valentine's Day." Write them down. Now you look for hidden words. Follow along and we will examine the secret warnings Cupid has hidden for his fellow men.

Now, what words do you see? D-A-T-E is the obvious beginning. We don't have to tell you that, unless D-E-N-S-E is the first word you saw. You have to take her on a date, so the next clue is L-I-S-T-E-N. For a month before V-Day she will talk about a restaurant she wants to try. Just book it now. Then D-E-T-A-I-L your car in advance. If the restaurant has a V-A-L-E-T, use it. Oh, make sure she is S-E-A-T-E-D first.

A-V-I-D-L-Y is next. This is your night to communicate. Think of something, memorize it, say it. "I can't believe how lucky we are to have met. I love talking with you." See? R-A-V-E.

And remember that E-N-V-Y and E-N-V-I-E-D are big clues to women's favorite feelings. If you send her a dozen roses, be sure to send them to her workplace. Making her female coworkers feel bad will delight her.

Now Cupid gives men the warnings, the alarms. The first is D-I-V-A. If her V-Day hints are running into big money, break up with her before the big day. Seriously. Right now. The second wake-up call is E-N-S-L-A-V-E-D. Do not, under any circumstances, put any gift in a ring-shaped box. Even if you buy her the biggest diamond earrings in the solar system, you must still remove them from their ring-like box. Otherwise, you will hear the words Y-E-S, Y-E-N-T-A, A-I-S-L-E, and V-E-I-L. Avoid taking her to N-E-V-A-D-A for the same reason.

Cupid is not a perfect angel. He hides a few trick clues to snare you. These are V-I-T-A-L-S, S-A-L-I-V-A-T-E, S-A-T-I-N, S-I-N and, oddly, V-A-S-E-L-I-N-E. Cupid is trying to steer you to shop at Victoria's Secret. No, no, and no, if you are not at least engaged. If you do, you must also give a romantic gift such as a book of poetry. I know, it sounds V-I-L-E, but anything that starts with the word "Sonnets" will do it, especially if you buy an old copy. The comic-book version does not count.

Now just proceed S-T-E-A-D-I-L-Y. Good luck. And if you fail, if you A-L-I-E-N-A-T-E the L-A-D-Y, Cupid still has advice for you. Getting over women is what the N-A-V-Y is for. E-N-L-I-S-T.

Monique Doyle Spencer is author of "The Courage Muscle: A Chicken's Guide to Living With Breast Cancer."

Posted by Dakota at 09:17 AM

February 13, 2007

Waxing Eloquent


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According to the Lovely Laura the President isn't very good at remembering Valentine's Day. He claims to have been otherwise occupied.

Proof from Melinda Henneberger of the Huffington Post.

President Bush said this morning that a full schedule had, alas, so far prevented him from following any of the Congressional debate on the troop escalation in Iraq.

"In terms of watching the debate, I've got a lot to do," he told C-SPAN. "I've had meetings up until now."

After being apprised that the debate had not actually started yet -- and wouldn't until Tuesday, after yet another delay -- he laughed and said, "I've got a lot to do tomorrow," too, as luck would have it.

I suspect he's just procrastinator.

More cogent quotes from Bush via Melinda -- regarding Poppy:

"I'm more concerned about him than I've ever been in my life," he said, "because he's been paying too much attention to the news" -- perhaps even planning to tune in to the Congressional debate over his son's war.....

And in the delusional category:

When asked what images "Bush Republican" might summon for future generations ....."Compassionate conservatism" was his legacy, he declared, and referred to the faith-based initiatives we haven't heard much about in subsequent years. "I made a name by being compassionate."

It's really been rolling off his tongue this week.. BBC News reports:

Democrats say they see parallels with the run-up to the Iraq war, when the US made a case for action on the basis of weapons which were never found.

But Mr Bush dismissed such speculation of an attack as "noise" by his critics.

"I guess my reaction to all the noise about, you know, 'he wants to go to war', is first of all I don't understand the tactics, and I guess I would say it's political," he told CSPAN television.

From ABC News:

"The Iranian people are good, honest, decent people and they've got a government that is belligerent, loud, noisy, threatening a government which is in defiance of the rest of the world and says, 'We want a nuclear weapon,'" Bush said. "So our objective is to keep the pressure so rational folks will show up and say it's not worth the isolation."

As they say on the playground - takes one to know one.

Hey what about all us rational folks who keep showing up right right under Bush's nose? I fear we are expendable

Photo note: A primitve man with a hole in his head to match his big mouth.

Posted by Dakota at 06:15 AM

February 11, 2007



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So here's another example of creative reverberation inspired/made possible by YouTube

The original -- Chamillionare's "Ridin' Dirty". It may not be your cup of tea, but watch a coupla minutes to get the flavor. It's evidently a very popular piece among the younger set. Martha Raddatz has it on her cellie.

Then we have the parody by Weird Al Yankovitch entitled "White and Nerdy" which is lots of fun, especially if you pay close attention to the lyrics.

And finally the Behind The Scenes At The Shoot video.

I'm rushed, so that's all folks.

Photo note: Sometimes the shadow is more stunning than its origin

Posted by Dakota at 09:40 AM

Selling Our Air


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As usual, Steve Curwood at Living on Earth is reporting news that should be on the front page of the New York Times, instead of on the radio at 6AM on Sunday morning. The air we breathe is for sale, and has been purchased by the corporatocracy. The transcript:

EPA's clean air science advisers, a group known as CASAC, studied the mounting evidence linking fine particles to cardiovascular disease and premature deaths. The advisors recommended a stricter standard for fine particles last year, but EPA administrator Stephen Johnson, [Dak: a Taylor U. alum -- sniff sniff] rejected their recommendation. Then he changed the CASAC advisory process in a way that critics say limits the input of scientists. Now the new chair of the US Senate's environment committee [Dak: Barbara Boxer] is taking Johnson to task.

BOXER: EPA's actions make it clear who EPA is protecting, and sadly it is not the American people.

YOUNG: California Democrat Barbara Boxer called Johnson before her committee to
explain what she called "rollbacks" in environmental protection that favor polluters.
Johnson sat blinking in the witness chair like a man bracing for a blow. And true to her name, Boxer delivered. Her haymaker punch came with this description of Johnson's changes to the agency's scientific process.

BOXER: Instead of basing health standards on the best science they will now inject politics into the entire decision. Under EPA's plan, key scientists will no longer work directly with top government officials to help set health standards. You took the science out of the clean air rule and stuck it at the end of the process. Nobody's fooled by this. Here's the point. These rollbacks were done in the dead of night. And it's over, in terms of your not having to come before the committees of Congress to respond to them.

YOUNG: Johnson is the first career scientist to lead EPA, and he seemed stung as he
hurried from the hearing room. Reporters caught him waiting for an elevator, where he defended his changes to clean air science. Johnson says the science advisors simply take too long.

JOHNSON: There's something wrong with the process. And that's why I asked our deputy to initiate a top down look at the entire program.

YOUNG: The science advisors of CASAC are supposed to update findings on major pollutants every five years. But Johnson says their cumbersome process means they rarely meet that deadline. He says his changes will allow the committee to work quickly while still considering a full range of views.

JOHNSON: And by the process that we've laid out, it very clearly defines, where the science input is and where the policy input is. I think this is much improved, we will have better and greater science influence at the same time being able to draw a very clear distinction between what is science and what is policy.

YOUNG: But many of the CASAC scientists disagree. The same morning Johnson squirmed in Boxer's hot seat, the science advisors met to voice strong opposition to
Johnson's changes. University of California medical professor, John Balmes, is a CASAC member. Balmes agrees the process should be streamlined. But he says Johnson went too far when he eliminated the step that lets scientists and EPA workers compile the most important science in a staff paper.

BALMES: The staff paper, or some other document that would be its equivalent, is vitally important and I believe that all of the CASAC members agree with me on that.

YOUNG: Balmes says the changes make EPA's political appointees more powerful and
reduce science advisors to the same level as lobbying groups making comment. And Balmes says Johnson's real motivation goes back to the disagreement over fine particles. The science advisors openly criticized Johnson for being the first EPA administrator to ignore their recommendations.

BALMES: The conflict between the- what the administrator wanted to do in terms of policy, and what the science shows,- was embarrassing to the administration. So if you get embarrassment, then just get rid of the staff paper. Then you won't have to worry about embarrassment.

In my humble opinion, Johnson should have been doing much more than squirming and blinking. Where is his evangelical conscience, pray tell? Right in the place from which he squirms. As one of those post menopausal women whose cardiovascular health is endangered by small particle pollution, I would like to see it in jail. And it's not only we old bats who will suffer, asthma is epidemic these days. That certainly couldn't have anything to do with air quality, could it?

Photo note: Okay , okay, it's not small particles, it's snow -- but there is a nice intact American flag in honor of Barbara, and the particles are the best I could do this time of year

Posted by Dakota at 08:03 AM

February 10, 2007

Breaking Silence


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Eric Fair, an Arabic linguist and "contract interrogator" in Iraq in 2004, writes in the Washington Post:

A man with no face stares at me from the corner of a room. He pleads for help, but I'm afraid to move. He begins to cry. It is a pitiful sound, and it sickens me. He screams, but as I awaken, I realize the screams are mine.

That dream, along with a host of other nightmares, has plagued me since my return from Iraq in the summer of 2004. Though the man in this particular nightmare has no face, I know who he is. I assisted in his interrogation at a detention facility in Fallujah. I was one of two civilian interrogators assigned to the division interrogation facility (DIF) of the 82nd Airborne Division.....

Despite my best efforts, I cannot ignore the mistakes I made at the interrogation facility in Fallujah. I failed to disobey a meritless order, I failed to protect a prisoner in my custody, and I failed to uphold the standards of human decency. Instead, I intimidated, degraded and humiliated a man who could not defend himself. I compromised my values. I will never forgive myself.......

While I was appalled by the conduct of my friends and colleagues, I lacked the courage to challenge the status quo. That was a failure of character and in many ways made me complicit in what went on. I'm ashamed of that failure, but as time passes, and as the memories of what I saw in Iraq continue to infect my every thought, I'm becoming more ashamed of my silence.

The Stanford prison experiment (watch the movie) and Stanley Milgram's studies of obedience to authority at Yale have shown us that "good" people can be induced to do "bad" things all too easily. We must understand that we all have the capacity to behave sadistically. Recognizing those impulses within ourselves can help us not to act on them. Both of these experiments had negative effects on the participants and would never meet the criteria for the ethical treatment of human subjects in psychological experiments today.

Torture, and the trauma that results from it, does not only affect the victim. Eric Fair's nightmares mark him as a man of conscience. In addition to having all the symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder, he has profound remorse and guilt as a result of his behavior. Sociopaths have neither. Our president, for example, has assured us on numerous occasions that he is sleeping soundly.

It takes courage to break the silence and speak out in shame . I hope that Mr. Fair's public disclosure of his experiences will help him to find some meaning in his actions, as he uses them to teach all of us about the dreadful consequences of torture and war.

Photo note: Twisted and tattered

Posted by Dakota at 06:56 AM

February 09, 2007


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A little movie in which Don Imus, who is not a favorite here at Dakota, confronts his surprise caller, Mary Matalin, Cheney's former press secretary. As Christy Hardin Smith of Firedoglake, who has been following the Libby trial with great insight says, "Petard. Meet hoist."
You can get a little flavor of how the administration expected things to work with the press, then and now.

In a piece entitled Washington Journalism On trial , Dan Froomkin, a consistent voice of truth at the Washington Post says:

If you're a journalist, and a very senior White House official calls you up on the phone, what do you do? Do you try to get the official to address issues of urgent concern so that you can then relate that information to the public?

Not if you're NBC Washington bureau chief Tim Russert.

When then-vice presidential chief of staff Scooter Libby called Russert on July 10, 2003, to complain that his name was being unfairly bandied about by MSNBC host Chris Matthews, Russert apparently asked him nothing.

And get this: According to Russert's testimony yesterday at Libby's trial, when any senior government official calls him, they are presumptively off the record.

That's not reporting, that's enabling.

That's how you treat your friends when you're having an innocent chat, not the people you're supposed to be holding accountable.

Why is this trial important? Because it brings to light and onto the publlc record the modus operandi of this administration, and uncovers the complicity of the press in their crimes. It's been worth every penny, Mary.

Photo note: Think of this as kind of a grizzly smile

Posted by Dakota at 06:23 AM | TrackBack

February 07, 2007

All Kinds of Good News


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Stopped by at Effect Measure to get the latest avian flu news, since I'm leaving for rural China in three weeks, only to find this hysterical piece of information --- a person can get quite a buzz from swigging hand sanitizer. Here's the skinny from everybody's favorite epidemiologist:

I probably shouldn't tell you this, but the non-alcohol ingredients are said to be relatively non-toxic (relative to alcohol, anyway). Compared to the alcohol content of beer (5%), wine (12%) or whiskey (40%), Purell is also probably cost effective. The patient in this case had a blood alcohol of .33, four times Maryland's limit for drivers. the Maryland Poison Center has had a half dozen other similar cases.

This is especially good news for fans of jello shots. No more problems with floppiness if you spike with Purell instead of vodka, and your jello shots will undoubtedly be more potent. Or simply pop a piece of miracle fruit into your mouth and pump directly from the bottle. It's only a matter of time before this hits YouTube, and the run on Purell begins.

As if this wasn't enough good news for one day, a cure for homosexuality has been found. It's quick, doesn't involve surgery, but might not work for everyone.

Oh, almost forgot, Scooter Libby is looking guilty and Dick Cheney is looking like a vindictive sociopath. Isn't it a crime to out a CIA agent?


Photo note: Everything's comin' up roses

Posted by Dakota at 07:32 PM

February 06, 2007

Statistics Made Savory


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Until I read the review of Sarah Igo's book The Averaged American it had never occurred to me that the ability to gather statistics has had an impact on human consciousness. Statistics have changed the way we are able to view ourselves, in similar way to that of perspective. The ability to represent three dimensions in two dimensional space has changed our human point of view profoundly. From the review:

On the face of it, the subject matter of ''The Averaged American'' could hardly sound duller: it's about social science data -- specifically, about the increasing use of surveys, polls and other forms of statistical measurements beginning in the years after World War I. But Igo, a history professor at the University of Pennsylvania, has an ambitious argument to make: that the advent of new techniques of measurement not only helped give birth to the modern social sciences but also changed the way America thinks of itself. Focusing principally on three milestones in the annals of empirical research -- the famous study of Muncie, Ind., published as ''Middletown'' in 1929; the emergence of George Gallup's and Elmo Roper's political polling in the 1930s; and the publication of the infamous Kinsey reports in 1948 and 1953 -- Igo chronicles the emergence of a ''mass society'' and the transformation of the American consciousness along statistical lines. In telling this story, Igo does for social statistics what Louis Menand's ''Metaphysical Club'' did for American pragmatism, providing a narrative intellectual history of the field.

We now know, on a daily basis, how the American public feels about any number of issues, from TV to politics, and those statistics influence our ability to understand ourselves and to act accordingly.

It just so happens that the statistics of poverty and public health have been floating under my nose lately. I am on my second back-to-back reading of Tracy Kidder's inspiring book, "Mountains Beyond Mountains" a Kidderly examination of the life of Dr. Paul Farmer, McArthur genius grant recipien medical anthropologist, physician and humanitarian who has worked with and against statistics in public health all over the world - though primarily in Haiti.

Saturday night I went to see "The Painted Veil" a film adaptation of Somerset Maughan's novel , because it was shot in the breathtaking mountains near Guilin, a city which I am about to visit. It's star and producer , Edward Norton, studied Chinese history as an undergraduate at Yale, and has added historical and technical content to the original text. The book takes place in 1925, and involves a British bacteriologist who takes his unfaithful young wife into a cholera epidemic in rural China. In addition to examining the nature of love, the film deals with the relationship between public health, poverty and cultural practices. Not unlike "Mountains Beyond Mountains" , without the statistics.

The universe must have meant me to write about this stuff, since it delivered an astonishing and hopeful statistical presentation right to my doorstep on this very topic, so you can see just how juicy statistics can be. Enjoy the show!

Photo note: A measuring shot, with little pink tags for flavor

Posted by Dakota at 07:04 PM

February 05, 2007

Creation/Destruction Again


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Just a few days ago in this very space all of us here at Dakota were contemplating creation and destruction. Then,what should magically appear on our cyberdiningroom table? Environmental sociologist John Bellamy Foster's essay entitled The Ecology of Destruction

Of course reading it will take some concentration, which is why we have excerpted morsels, in hopes that your intellectual curiosity will be sufficiently titillated to read it in its entirety.

Joseph Schumpeter once famously praised capitalism for its “creative destruction.” But this might be better seen as the system’s destructive creativity. Capital’s endless pursuit of new outlets for class-based accumulation requires for its continuation the destruction of both pre-existing natural conditions and previous social relations. Class exploitation, imperialism, war, and ecological devastation are not mere unrelated accidents of history but interrelated, intrinsic features of capitalist development. There has always been the danger, moreover, that this destructive creativity would turn into what István Mészáros has called the “destructive uncontrollability” that is capital’s ultimate destiny. The destruction built into the logic of profit would then take over and predominate, undermining not only the conditions of production but also those of life itself. Today it is clear that such destructive uncontrollability has come to characterize the entire capitalist world economy, encompassing the planet as a whole.....


The mood of the second earth summit, the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, could not have been more different than the first. Rio’s hope had given way to Johannesburg’s dismay. Rather than improving over the decade that had elapsed, the world environment had experienced accelerated decline. The planet was approaching catastrophic conditions, not just with respect to global warming, but in a host of other areas. Sustainable development had turned out to be about sustaining capital accumulation at virtually any ecological cost. All the rhetoric ten years earlier of a “new world order” and the “end of history”—it was now clear to many of the environmentalists attending the Johannesburg summit—had simply disguised the fact that the real nemesis of the global environment was the capitalist world economy.

Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature, declared in his article “The Debate is Over” in the November 17, 2005, issue of Rolling Stone magazine that we are now entering the “Oh Shit” era of global warming. At first, he wrote, there was the “I wonder what will happen?” era. Then there was the “Can this really be true?” era. Now we are in the Oh Shit era. We now know that it is too late to avert global disaster entirely. All we can do is limit its scope and intensity. Much of the uncertainty has to do with the fact that “the world...has some trapdoors—mechanisms that don’t work in straightforward fashion, but instead trigger a nasty chain reaction.” ...


The planetary ecological crisis is increasingly all-encompassing, a product of the destructive uncontrollability of a rapidly globalizing capitalist economy, which knows no law other than its own drive to exponential expansion.

Whenever production dies down or social resistance imposes barriers on the expansion of capital the answer is always to find new ways to exploit/degrade nature more intensively. To quote Pontecorvo’s Burn!, “that is the logic of profit....One builds to make money and to go on making it or to make more sometimes it is necessary to destroy.”

In any case, welcome to the "Oh Shit" Era. is that anything like the Age of Aquarius?

Photo note: Marzipan piggies, with a capitalistic price of $9

Posted by Dakota at 08:48 PM

February 04, 2007

What's Cookin?


While the President has been signing statements, waging war, and obstructing justice, the lovely Lady Laura has been holding up her end of the bargain. Smiling sweetly through the ruin of the Constitution, pretending that hubby is still a popular fellow, addressing dog obesity, and hiring a new White House pastry chef, Bill Yosses, to put the frosting on the cake, as 'twere.

The official White House announcement fails to mention one of Mr. Yosses' major professional accomplishments. He is the primary author of Desserts for Dummies. Perfect.

Too bad that link bombs have been diffused.

Photo note: A darling pastry from Ulla's Danish Pastry Shop. An administrative decision was made that a larger image of said sweet wouldn't do any of us any good. Ulla imports her staff from Denmark, and doesn't skimp on the ingredients. I am proud to say I have had this little stuffed cookie around for several months trying to shoot it properly. No doubt it's too stale to eat. I'll let you know.

Posted by Dakota at 09:33 AM

February 01, 2007

Molly Ivins


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We have lost Molly Ivins truthteller and veteran Bushwatcher. She wrote her last column from what must have been her deathbed, speaking out against the surge, having just finished Rajiv Chandrasekaran's "Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone.". Most of us wouldn't have known she was sick.

From Editor and Publisher:

Almost three weeks ago, Molly Ivins wrote that she would dedicate every single one of her syndicated columns from now on to the issue of stopping the war in Iraq -- until it ended. But she has managed to finish only one more column since.

The gravely ill Texas columnist has been hospitalized again this week in her ongoing battle with breast cancer....

Andy Ivins [her brother] told a newspaper this weekend that the cancer "came back with a vengeance," and has spread through her body....

Last October she had suggested this headline to an E&P interviewer: "Molly Ivins Still Not Dead."

E&P wrote then, "The third recurrence of the breast cancer she has been battling since 1999 (and which recently claimed her good friend, former Texas Gov. Ann Richards) has left the 62-year-old Ivins with precarious balance, minimal hair, and no illusions about the redemptive quality of life-threatening illness. 'I'd hoped to become a better person from confronting my own mortality,' she laughs. 'But it hasn't happened.'"

She had Bush's number all right. Listen to her hilarious 2001 imitation of W., read for NPR.

Everyone's favorite economist, Paul Krugman, in his tribute to her, looked at her retrospective columns on Iraq beginning in 2002 -- a little excerpt just in case you can't get through the password patrol:

Nov. 19, 2002: “The greatest risk for us in invading Iraq is probably not war itself, so much as: What happens after we win? ... There is a batty degree of triumphalism loose in this country right now.”

Jan. 16, 2003: “I assume we can defeat Hussein without great cost to our side (God forgive me if that is hubris). The problem is what happens after we win. The country is 20 percent Kurd, 20 percent Sunni and 60 percent Shiite. Can you say, ‘Horrible three-way civil war?’ ”

July 14, 2003: “I opposed the war in Iraq because I thought it would lead to the peace from hell, but I’d rather not see my prediction come true and I don’t think we have much time left to avert it. That the occupation is not going well is apparent to everyone but Donald Rumsfeld. ... We don’t need people with credentials as right-wing ideologues and corporate privatizers — we need people who know how to fix water and power plants.”

Oct. 7, 2003: “Good thing we won the war, because the peace sure looks like a quagmire. ...

“I’ve got an even-money bet out that says more Americans will be killed in the peace than in the war, and more Iraqis will be killed by Americans in the peace than in the war. Not the first time I’ve had a bet out that I hoped I’d lose.”

So Molly Ivins — who didn’t mingle with the great and famous, didn’t have sources high in the administration, and never claimed special expertise on national security or the Middle East — got almost everything right. Meanwhile, how did those who did have all those credentials do?

With very few exceptions, they got everything wrong. They bought the obviously cooked case for war — or found their own reasons to endorse the invasion. They didn’t see the folly of the venture, which was almost as obvious in prospect as it is with the benefit of hindsight. And they took years to realize that everything we were being told about progress in Iraq was a lie.

Was Molly smarter than all the experts? No, she was just braver. The administration’s exploitation of 9/11 created an environment in which it took a lot of courage to see and say the obvious.

In addition, she could even apologize when she was wrong --turns out she wasn't wrong, she was prescient.

The New York Times Obituary says about their former employee " she sensed she did not fit in and complained that Times editors drained the life from her prose. 'Naturally, I was miserable, at five times my previous salary,” she later wrote. 'The New York Times is a great newspaper: it is also No Fun.'” Lord knows what she has thought about it recently.

Paul Krugman ends his tribute "Now, more than ever, we need people who will stand up against the follies and lies of the powerful. And Molly Ivins, who devoted her life to questioning authority, will be sorely missed." I agree.

Photo note: A pure spirit moving through an open door, or a cyclamen and the kitchen cabinet, whatever works for you.

Posted by Dakota at 09:42 PM

Protecting the Public


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I'm a little worried. Boston was shut down yesterday afternoon because suspicious boxes appeared in funny places all over the city. Here's the part that worried me:

The 1-foot tall signs adorning bridges and other high-profile spots had hanging wires and batteries. Most depicted a boxy, cartoon character giving passersby the finger — a more obvious sight when darkness fell.

On the basis of this, the authorities slammed us into emergency mode. Had this been a terrorist plot, it is perfectly clear from the traffic jams that ensued that Boston needs a much better emergency response plan.

Frankly, if I were an authority and I saw a box with a cartoon character in flashing lights giving me the finger, my mind would not go immediately to terrorist activity, even though I consider myself a Preparedness Person. . Doncha' think it would be unlikely that a terrorist would mount flashing lights on his or her device? S/He might use an inconspicuous black box, or disguise a little something in a stuffed pumpkin or an SUV-- but flashing lights, no. I no longer believe that my safety is in the hands of anyone with common sense. Did I ever?

I am not a bit relieved to learn that the men who were hired by Time Warner to mount the ads for Aqua Teen Hunger Force" (THREE weeks ago!?!) are under arrest. Personally, I think the officials who pushed the button should be held accountable for the mess. But, of course, self righteousness abounds:

"It's clear the intent was to get attention by causing fear and unrest that there was a bomb in that location," Assistant Attorney General John Grossman said at their arraignment.
The campaign was launched in ten other cities without incident, by the way.

Because I am across the river in Cambridge, and didn't get stuck in the monumental traffic jam that ensued, I did not hear about the suspected terrorist attack until after dinner. If it had been a real terrorist attack, that would have been too late

How will we communicate to the populace in case of a real emergency? The Times Magazine reported that the simplest of notification networks, the radio, may not be a functional avenue anymore -- due of course to deregulation and the corporatocracy.

Peter Berdovsky, one of the installers is an artist. He has turned this into a bit of an art project. He's getting so many hits on his website, he's temporarily out of business. Bet we're all going to tune into "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" too.

If you hurry, you can buy a terrorist device on ebay

And the plot thickens

Photo note: Beware of mysterious boxes mounted in unusual places -- they may contain dangerous material

Posted by Dakota at 09:30 AM