June 29, 2007

Happy Fourth of July in Advance


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Off to the beach
to shoot blurry
fireworks and fish

American flag
T's and toes

And I feel so guilty
that I have posted
twice in one day

Photo note: a sinking ship at dawn

Posted by Dakota at 07:33 PM

Neatly Pinned and Hung out to Dry


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Have you noticed? The Reconstituted Supreme Court is hanging us out to dry. In the last few days decisions have been made about corporate campaign financing that gut McCain-Feingold, boundaries were loosened between church and state, voluntary school desegration programs have been outlawed and a protester can never again make banners that combine the name of an illicit drug and that of a religious figure (as in Tweek for the Virgin Mary)

It's all going according to the plan perpetrated by The Federalist Society.

Many members of the Federalist Society advocate a rollback of civil rights measures, reproductive choice, labor and employment regulations, and environmental protections. In Federalist Society’s guide to forming and running a chapter of the society, FS says it “creates an informal network of people with shared views which can provide assistance in job placement.”

Both Justices Roberts and Alito are affiliated.

These people don't care if Bush's ratings are only 28%. Actually, ratings don't matter much in a police state. Bush has accomplished his mission. He has stolen democracy for corporations. He needn't worry that his thievery will be punished by the Department of Justice either.

Photo note: Neatly pinned and hung out to dry. Also very white.

Posted by Dakota at 08:52 AM

June 27, 2007

Being a Lawyer


Ever since I stumbled upon the hilarious, if highly disturbing blog Anonymous Lawyer this week, lawyers have been right under my nose. Written from the point of view of a senior partner, Anonymous Lawyer satirizes the roots of privilege in the corporatocracy..

Who would want to work in that environment, anyway? I suppose that six figure salaries hold some appeal for the twenty somethings. Every summer students from top law schools are seduced into the finest firms by sumptuous summer internships , only to find that they have signed away their lives when they become first year associates.

Over the years, I have sat with several distressed young lawyers, who, after working eighty hour weeks for years have been denied partnership because of their inability to bring in new business. Unless the associate is related to new business, it's impossible to do all elbow rubbing necessary to solicit it when all your free time is soaked up by the firm.

Yesterday, the Boston Globe (which has probably locked up their archives by now), published a piece entitled Law and Disorder:

Today, attorneys and other legal professionals contact LCL [Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers, a support group] mainly for help battling depression. The shift mirrors a trend at lawyer assistance programs across the country, and reinforces state and national studies showing that lawyers are more depressed than those in any other occupation.

It also reflects what many lawyers and mental health professionals say is a disturbing consequence of the increasingly competitive nature of the practice of law....

Heavy law school debt frequently forces graduates into high-paying jobs at private firms, where intense deadlines, staggering billable-hour requirements, and grinding hours are routine. Even veteran lawyers often find themselves disillusioned by the increasingly business-like practice of law.

The conflict-driven nature of the profession also plays a role, as does traditional legal training, which conditions lawyers to be emotionally withdrawn, a trait that can help them professionally but hurt them personally.

And the personality type frequently drawn to the law -- perfectionist, high-achieving -- is particularly vulnerable to becoming depressed, said Lawrence T. Perera, a lawyer at the Boston firm Hemenway & Barnes and former co chairman of the Boston Bar Association's Peer Support Committee.

Money isn't everything. A young lawyer could forgo a large salary and go for the thrill of unmitigated power instead by working for the Bush administration. However, one would have to choose one's law school carefully.

Photo note: When rummaging through my archives for a photo this morning, I realized that I had absolutely nothing lawyerly, and I'd have to pick something up on the way to work . I spotted this Ben and Jerry's bumper sticker right in front of Harvard Law School, but here's the one that got away, twenty seconds before. P6270017_100.jpg. It's very out of focus because I couldn't risk my life driving recklessly to get the right angle. It happens to be the back of a plumbing and heating truck.

Posted by Dakota at 05:54 PM

Water and Plastic


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Several years ago I read a book entitled Our Stolen Future -- or The Endocrine Disruptor Process for Dummies. What impressed me most, or rather what stuck in the recesses of my addled brain, were the studies showing increasing numbers of hermaphroditic seagulls born around the Great Lakes, probably due to the faux hormonal effects of discarded plastic. Although there is controversy about the book, let's face it, what's bad for seagulls can't be all that good for humans.

And now there is "Plastic In The Ocean", the movie, which reveals that the density of plastic particles in the ocean is six times that of plankton. Just look at the contents of this albatross tummy

So guys, at least let's start drinking the tap water with greater appreciation while we still can -- consider it an honor and a privilege --- and do away with those awful plastic bottles full of Pepsi's own tap water that are contaminating the earth and costing us a fortune and a future. While we're at it, we can get ourselves a few cloth shopping bags, and try to remember to take them into the supermarket when we shop.

While we're minimizing our carbon footprints, we can lower our plastic particle counts too.

Photo note: The ocean --- looking pinkish, probably not from plastics--- surrounding Wicket's Island in the mist of sunrise. An aerial view of said island which happens to be for sale for 2. 4 million -- no house, no services, no running water, and just a short row away.

Posted by Dakota at 01:28 PM

June 25, 2007

A Bit Shocking


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The editors at The Washington Post, god bless their fickle little hearts, have finally sanctioned some excellent investigative reporting in a four part series exposing Dick Cheney and his evil, lawless transgressions as vice president. Here are parts 1 and 2 -- which you can feel free to read in front of your boss, even if he's a republican. Our favorite purveyor of truth, Dan Froomkin, has summarized the lowlights for us in his own inimitable way.


If you have already done your good citizen homework, you can turn your attention to YouTube's latest sensation, Alexyss Taylor (and her sidekick minister mom) -- scroll down to catch the movie. You will probably want to turn the volume down if you are in a cubicle.

Photo note: The American flag, halved, before a bridge, with faded stars, flying in a field of double triangles. The metaphorophoto significance should be apparent, but I for one can't see it.....yet

Posted by Dakota at 09:15 PM

Conch Shells


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on the deck

on the beach

on a day out with ladies
a Buzzard's Bay outing
to consecrate acres
for a nature preserve

in a compound of Yankees
that is blessed by the spirits
who came as we sang
or so we were told

we picked a bouquet
of conch shells exposing
their deep inner curvings
all frayed at the edges
by rocks on the shore

they could no longer sound
but it just didn't matter
because they were lovely
in spite of their ruin

Photo note: as above

The conch shell is one of the eight auspicious symbols of Buddism
Something beautiful loosely connected with conch shells

Posted by Dakota at 04:10 PM

June 22, 2007

Squeezing in a Little Religion


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Since none of us here at Dakota are planning to set foot in a church on Sunday, we thought we'd direct you to an inside peek at 30 services of a religious nature, attended and reviewed by staff members of "The Stranger", Seattle's alternative newspaper -- home of our favorite gay dad, sex columnist, Dan Savage, author of review #31.

Church has certainly changed since last I attended Christ Church Cranbrook to view all the late model cars in the circular drive out front, and worship with the auto magnates. No rock bands, only choirs back then, by God.

Photo note: Church squeezed in, on location in Hong Kong.

Posted by Dakota at 05:41 PM

June 21, 2007

Keeping Truth Alive


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Members of the left wing progressive blogosphere were awarded the Paul Wellstone Citizen Leadership Award collectively on June 19 at the annual Take Back America Conference. As Americans we should be greatly indebted to these people. They are keeping truth alive through the Dark Ages of the corporate media coup and the sleazy secrecy of the Bush administration.

One of their most eloquent participants, Digby, who writes anonymously at Hullabaloo, appeared publicly for the first time and accepted the award on behalf of her peers. An excerpt from her speech follows, but you are encouraged to watch the movie

And as for the idea that we are modern Stalinists, does that make any sense at all? We can’t even agree about what to call ourselves. The netroots – the progressive blogosphere – consists of a very lively and disparate group of citizens who are political observers, activists, readers, writers, entrepreneurs, communicating and organizing via the Internet.......In the blogosphere, nobody cares if you are a 70-year-old Chinese immigrant, or a 22-year-old Harvard student, or a stay-at-home blogger dad. If you have something to say, you can say it, and if it touches a chord, people will return time and again to read what you’ve written and discuss the issues of the day with others who are reading the same things.

Al Gore – a man who knows something about the Internet – wrote in his book, The Assault on Reason, “The Internet is perhaps the greatest source of hope for reestablishing an open communications environment in which the conversation of democracy can flourish. It is the most interactive medium in history, with the greatest potential for connecting individuals to one another and to the universe of knowledge.” So while we may not be Stalinists, the Netroots is a revolution – a revolutionary, participatory democracy.......

Each of us finds our niche: I’m a blogger-pundit, a role for which I am eminently qualified since, exactly like pundits on television and in newspapers, I have opinions, I write them down, and a lot of people read them. Yes, that’s all there is to it. Sorry, Mr. Broder. Others have different endeavors. Bloggers Matt Stoller and Chris Bowers, for instance, are organizers of this nascent movement. They traffic in ideas that affect our ability to keep doing what we do, from net neutrality to finding a much-needed funding base for bloggers and activists. With vastly different approaches, Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo and Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake are creating a new form of journalism; Talking Points is modeled on the more traditional form, and Firedoglake is mixing reporting, opinion, and direct political advocacy. Daily Kos is a virtual community that operates like a small city, offering full-stop political shopping for its progressive inhabitants. Crooks and Liars catalogs the juiciest morsels of political TV. MoveOn moves millions to action. Media Matters monitors and calls out the right-wing noise machine. And writers for liberal magazines are all blogging and mixing it up with their readers. And there are literally thousands of others out there doing all that and more – writing back and forth with their readers, linking and arguing and organizing. This is a 24/7 worldwide political discussion and strategy session........

Sadly, we also all agree that the mainstream media is part of the problem. Democracy suffers when not being held accountable by a vigorous press. During the last decade, there have been three catalyzing events that drove people like me to the Internet, to research, investigate, and write about assaults on democracy itself. In 1998, the political media lost all perspective, and aggressively helped the Republicans pursue a partisan witch-hunt against a democratically-elected president and against the will of the people. The coverage of the presidential election of 2000 was legendary for its bias and sophomoric personality journalism. The press actually joined the Republicans in telling the majority who had voted for Al Gore to get over it. I don’t know about you, but I never got over it. And the third event (I don’t need to tell anyone in this room) was the almost gleeful support of the invasion of Iraq, a journalistic failure of epic proportions. If you had not been sufficiently aroused from your complacency by this time, you never would be.

Glenn Greenwald of blogger gone pro at Salon, and no slouch himself in the liberal department comments on her speech

If you're interested in restoring democracy, supporting these folks would be a great place to start.

Photo note: The American flag - full service, a sign of quality - for once

Posted by Dakota at 08:25 AM

June 20, 2007



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from behind

Remember when news about medicine and hospitals appeared in the Health and Science section of the newspaper instead of the Business Section? It frosts me every time I hear that an HMO is "sponsoring" a segment on NPR, or I receive one of their slick and weighty brochures in my junk mail. How did the health care industry get to be such a big business? They should be spending their public relations budgets on caring for the sick.

Given this context, I was especially distressed by the mobile atrocity shown above -- a noteworthy example of this burgeoning trend. I doubt the truck is a hybrid. Not only are they advertising now, they're polluting.

Keep in mind that Michael Moore's "Sicko" opens next weekend in a theater near you.

Photo note: I chased this traffic hazard down the block the other day, camera in hand. I'm lucky I didn't end up in the hospital myself. The pigeon present on my windshield is well placed.

Addendum: A loose association, but look what happens when a city bans outdoor advertising

Posted by Dakota at 08:28 AM

June 19, 2007

Real Estate and Unreal Estate


the deal fell apart
due to costly repairs
which only emerged
upon closer inspection

but it still works!
said the seller
as the flaw
was revealed
to the tune of
ten thousand

with no wish to bargain
'cause eight other buyers
who hadn't been chosen
were standing in line
to snatch up the place

oh well said Dakota
it's not meant to be
reaching for
a finer thought than

there will soon
be another
even more perfect
where one can
practice without
skirting the rules
of the condo agreement

with more ornate moldings
and a furnace that works
in a better location
at one half the price

foreclosures are rife
and interest rates rising
this must be a blessing

improving reality
a thought at a time

then came the excitment
what will appear
in the next iteration
of thought form directed
and shaped by desire

Photo note: Someone's railing intentionally derailed for decorative purposes -- or a sacred triangle for those in the know

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Posted by Dakota at 02:57 PM

June 18, 2007

Missed Father's Day Entirely


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I have been mightily distracted of late by p&s's, inspections, strategic bargaining, green heat exchangers and offspringiy comings and goings, so, although I wrote this little piece in a timely fashion, I never published it. Now Fathers' Day is gone for good. Any here's thoughtful gift suggestion for any survivalists, bird flu true believers, or boy scouts, on your list.

Many moons ago, I wrote about the lantern that Engineers Without Borders had developed to extend the working/educational day for those who have expensive, dangerous or no light at all after sunset. "Living on Earth" (a crucially important program which, for some reason, is broadcast at the ungodly hour of 7AM Sunday morning on our local NPR station) broadcast an interview with Mark Bent, inventor of the BoGo, a bright, solar powered flashlight.

BENT: The World Bank estimates 1.6 to 2.2 billion people, so we're talking one third of the world is off the grid. And if you're off the grid you have to rely on three things: kerosene, candles, and conventional flashlights. Now kerosene is bad for the environment. It's bad for people breathing in the fumes. 1.6 million people, mostly women and children die of cancer each year because of the fumes from kerosene. One kerosene lantern puts out 100 kilos of carbon gases a year. And so you talk about the number of people that use kerosene lanterns and so that's really bad.

And the other issue is even here in the United States most people don't recycle their batteries. EPA states that less than one percent of our landfill waste is batteries but it's our number one contaminant for ground water contamination with mercury and cadmium and all the other heavy metals that go into the ground water. But with my flashlights they use three nickel cadmium batteries. Right now the batteries will last 750 to a 1000 nights. And so a child or an adult can use the lights for six to seven hours a night for two years plus before the batteries need to be replaced. So we'll ship in more batteries and do a replacement program to get the batteries out of Africa.

GELLERMAN: There are a number of companies that actually make solar flashlights. What makes your idea so special is, well, is the marketing.

BENT: Yeah, what I wanted to do was to get lights to people that really needed them that couldn't afford them. The World Bank estimates that the average African spends up to one third of their income on kerosene. But look at the economic benefit to an African. If you're taking away 30 percent of their expenditures you're giving them a 30 percent raise basically because no longer do they have to pay for the kerosene. You're allowing them to have a massive economic upgrade in their lives.

Africans aren't stupid, they just don't have capital. They don't have the ability to put things on a credit card, for example, like we do. And so if you give them a 30 percent increase in their disposable income they'll spend it on an extra chicken or they'll spend it on extra land to grow tomatoes or maize. And they will be able to leap out of that bottom level of poverty because it gives them that little bit of a head start. All this does is give them that head start which I think is fantastic.

If you buy one Bogo for $25, they will send a matching BoGo free to a family in a country of your choice via an affiliated charity. Or you can support one of our ill supplied troops in Afghanistan or Iraq if you prefer.

Buy it and watch the Fox News (!?!) movie at BoGo's website.

Don't like that idea? How about a pocket chain saw. I personally covet one of each .

Photo note: Light, not the third world variety.

Posted by Dakota at 10:02 AM

June 15, 2007

More About Everybody's Favorite Drug


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As we all know, but chose to ignore most of the time, caffeine is a drug. Jim Romanesco, proprietor Starbucks Gossip subtitles his blog "Monitoring America's Favorite Drug Dealer", and he's not kidding

A mom of my acquaintance who car pools preteen snowboarders blew her top the other day because of the of Red Bull abuse in her back seat, which made the long haul back from the mountain more insane than usual.

It's a drug, right? --- so medical experts have studied it and recently issued some suggestions about using caffeine most effectively.

"I hate to say it, but most of the population is using caffeine the wrong way by drinking a few mugs of coffee or tea in the morning, or three cups from their Starbuck’s grande on the way to work. This means that caffeine levels in the brain will be falling as the day goes on. Unfortunately, the physiological process they need to counteract is not a major player until the latter half of the day," said James Wyatt, PhD, sleep researcher at Rush University Medical Center and lead author on the study......

Caffeine is thought to block the receptor for adenosine, a critical chemical messenger involved in the homeostatic drive for sleep. If that were true, then caffeine would be most effective if it were administered in parallel with growing pressure from the sleep homeostatic system, and also with accumulating adenosine.

Coffee, tea, and other caffeine-containing beverages are tools. Don't drink more than you need to and slow the rate of your drinking to spread it out. Keep in mind that once you reach the point where you don't need to maintain a high feeling of wakefulness that you should immediately stop drinking it. If you need something more powerful then consider Provigil (modafinil). My strongly felt advice is to stay away from methamphetamine or other amphetamines because they cause brain damage.

Gotta go - I'm meeting a friend at Starbucks to get high.

Photo note: The logo of a popular Hong Kong coffee shop -- this one was atop Victoria Peak where I was already shot through with adrenalin from looking over the cliff.

Posted by Dakota at 09:31 AM

June 14, 2007

On The Subject of Weddings Once Again


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A woman once told me that she felt that having a big wedding was like buying a BMW, cruising around in it for a week and then driving it off a cliff. I would agree. Even so, I am still an ardent devotee of the New York Times Wedding Section, although I gave up writing about it long ago.

I've made an exception for a little feature that caught my eye this week which I couldn't resist sharing Trashing one's wedding dress seems to be a new photographic phenomenon that has taken hold. An iconoclastic act in which brides are photographed doing things in and to their gowns that will make their father's wallet curl. Sacrificing for art is all well and good, but somehow rolling your wedding gown in the mud seems even more wasteful than hanging it in the closet.

How about listing it on Freecycle? Or an even more sustainable solution would be the paper wedding dress. One would really have to avoid spills during the reception.

Photo note: Doesn't this look like a rumpled satin, tulle? It's really some piece of equipment for wood stoves reflected on a window shade.

Addendum: Still in the market for a life partner? Creating Your J Date Profile

Posted by Dakota at 04:53 PM

June 13, 2007

Psychomotor Structure Twenty Something


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up close

I'm back from my annual Psychomotor experience with Al Pesso and my diminished but dear and dedicated group. I am sorry to say that I spent my structure time in a somewhat altered state and am therefore a most inaccurate reporter. I do remember talking about my anxiety about signing an offer on a little space of my own, and all the dreadful fantasies I have managed to conjure up at the edge of the unknown, when I should be absolutely thrilled.

The space of my own has been in the manifestation tubes ever since my mother's death in 2005. I am purchasing it (well, part of it) with my inheritance from her. I looked a lot and even made an offer on a place that wasn't quite perfect,. The space represents differentiation, which was the high crime of my childhood. My mother did not tolerate our differences well and promptly annihilated each one as it appeared. I learned to hide all those slivers of myself that did not meet her approval, and accumulated quite a pile. Getting a space of my own is laying claim to something I don't feel I have the right to have. No wonder I'm anxious.

(Aside: not only did my Pesso Group meet this weekend, but my ladies group has met twice in the past two weeks as well. Last weekend I attended a two day seminar on increasing one's inner spiritual resources with two dear friends from my Abraham group, and my nutritionist popped into town from Savannah -- let's say I had a lot of support from the universe for this developmental step.)

But I digress. In my psychomotor structure, I inhaled a wisp of smoke, a ghostly aspect of myself --one that I had never brought into consciousness --- and expanded my internal cathedral to accommodate it by making harmonious overtones using Tibetan toning while accompanied by my ideal mother. All in all quite a pleasant experience.

Turns out, however, that it was all was a little much. The internal cathedral image was too grandiose for an inner space that could hardly accommodate a choir. I awoke Sunday morning with a tight chest which I thought was due to a mold allergy. Of course, it was a somatized response to "getting too big for my own britches" (to quote my real mother) and required more expression and containment by ideal figures before it could be relieved.

I do remember that the sounds that sprang forth from a rather pithy part of myself on Sunday prompted Al to ask for assistance closing the windows, lest the neighbors be disturbed. There are no neighbors within eight acres of the house, so I assume the sounds were formidable.

Thus I have been launched into a new developmental adventure. I am meeting the inspectors tomorrow, so I will have some pictures to post

Photo note: A roving stencil artist sprayed this on the side of a local building. When I shot it, I thought I might find it useful.

Posted by Dakota at 06:38 AM

June 11, 2007

The Fragile Flower


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I know you're all wondering why Paris was released from prison.

Paris Hilton's billionaire grandfather donated money to the election campaign of the sheriff who released the 26-year-old American hotel heiress from jail, it has been revealed. The contribution from William Barron Hilton, 78, co-chairman of the Hilton Hotel chain, to Sheriff Lee Baca's re-election campaign is revealed in financial records. A friend of the Hilton family said the temporary release of the heiress last week may have been a "quid pro quo". "A member of her family has been a contributor to Baca's campaign and this may have been payback time," the friend said. .....

"Being in jail is by far the hardest thing I have ever done," she said.

By far?!? And why, pray tell, is the possibility of being seen peeing on the internet so much worse than being seen having sex on the internet?

As long as we're not exactly shaking the earth today here's the place to order a 3D koi screensaver

Photo note: the fragile flower

Posted by Dakota at 08:46 PM

June 10, 2007

Political Porno


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For your evening's entertainment, just in case you were otherwise planning to do something mind numbing, you might be interested in reviewing "Hugh's List of Bush Scandals" instead. Let me warn you that it won't be quick, since the scandals number one hundred and eighty nine to date.

Isn't it wonderful that someone is keeping track for all of us.

Photo note: Transposed American flag -- can't figure out how they did it

Posted by Dakota at 09:48 PM

June 08, 2007

Women's Lives


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I am off to my annual Psychomotor Group for the weekend.

I am also at the cusp of perhaps, maybe, we'll see, almost, getting a little space of my own which I am trying not to jinx by mentioning, except in passing. I am very busy watching my projections as I step over this new threshold.

For those reasons, I'm sloshing something together to transfix you while I'm gone. It's about women, oppression and freedom.
Megan Stack an L.A. Times reporter gives us a fascinating glimpse of operating from behind the veil in Saudi Arabia. Evidently it isn't something that one can slip in and out of easily.

I was ready to cope, or so I thought. I arrived with a protective smirk in tow, planning to thicken the walls around myself. I'd report a few stories, and go home. I had no inkling that Saudi Arabia, the experience of being a woman there, would stick to me, follow me home on the plane and shadow me through my days, tainting the way I perceived men and women everywhere.......

he sleeves, the length of it, always felt foreign, at first. But it never took long to work its alchemy, to plant the insecurity. After a day or two, the notion of appearing without the robe felt shocking. Stripped of the layers of curve-smothering cloth, my ordinary clothes suddenly felt revealing, even garish. To me, the abaya implied that a woman's body is a distraction and an interruption, a thing that must be hidden from view lest it haul the society into vice and disarray. The simple act of wearing the robe implanted that self-consciousness by osmosis.

In stark contrast, right on it's synchronistic little heels, emerged psychologist and journalist, Ellen de Bruin's study of women's lives out from under oppression in Holland.

"It has to do with personal freedom," said de Bruin, whose work, sure enough, is titled "Dutch Women Don't Get Depressed." "Personal choice is key: in the Netherlands people are free to choose their life partners, their religion, their sexuality, we are free to use soft drugs here, we can pretty much say anything we like. The Netherlands is a very free country.".....

We are seen as very tough," de Bruin said in a recent conversation in Amsterdam, before cycling off to a class in runway walking to learn how to balance in high heels. "We don't know how to dress and we are not very hospitable - if you come round to our house at dinnertime you get sent away." Clothing is geared more to the weather than seduction. "We do everything by bike, which is why we don't dress very elegantly," de Bruin said. And, with a highly developed sense of equality between the sexes, "we are bossy to our men."

Photo note: Naxi women, who live in a matriarchal society in Lijaing, China. One of them doesn't look too happy, but it's probably hard to be a matriarch under an oppressive regime.

Posted by Dakota at 06:26 PM

June 07, 2007

What The World Eats


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Slightly behind, but I thought you would be interested in this wonderful, poignant, disturbing photo essay entitled "What The World Eats".

Put on your glasses and take a close look at all sixteen shots, notice the fresh and the processed, the excess and the inadequacy, the Coke and the price.

Photo note: Yak Snack shop in Lijaing, China where the yak was skewered and barbecued. I ate a small portion. The sign is in three languages, English, Chinese and Naxi Dongba Pictorial language

Posted by Dakota at 08:12 PM

June 06, 2007

TB Or Not TB


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in greater context

We know what you're thinking, has the Bird Flu Babe let drug resistant TB pass unnoticed? Has she ignored the subject of Andrew Speaker's bacteria sluffing honeymoon entirely? Of course not.

One need only read Tracy Kidder's biography of Paul Farmer "Mountains Beyond Mountains" to understand why drug resistant strains of TB develop. It is a disease bred in poverty and fueled by inadequate, inconsistent medical care. It's still a mystery how Andrew Speaker, a privileged member of society, contracted this illness. He evidently did not get it from his new father-in-law, a TB researcher at the CDC. Where then does a middle class personal injury lawyer from the big city with enough money to stage a destination wedding in Europe with today's deflated American dollar, contract such a rare strain of TB, and why isn't anyone else asking that question?

John Donnelly of The Boston Globe writes

But TB specialists said Monday that the real importance of the case is that it is a warning to all Americans: The United States should brace itself for many more cases of the drug-resistant airborne germ in the months and years ahead.

"This is the tiniest tip of the iceberg," said Dr. Paul Farmer, a Harvard professor who has treated drug-resistant TB in Haiti, Peru, and Siberia. "We need to take excellent care of our own but also acknowledge that we're lucky as a nation: We have little TB, drug resistant or otherwise. We need to think about this much more globally."

Farmer said poor countries need laboratory diagnostic tools, more drugs, better trained doctors who could perform surgery if necessary, and a cadre of community health workers. Those workers visit patients in their homes, which ensures they are taking their drugs properly and protects them from hospital-acquired infections or illnesses.

The Babe has turned her attention to her favorite epidemiologist, Revere, at Effect Measure who has written eloquently and at great length on the subject. To summarize a few of his many cogent points: 1) although this strain of TB is resistant to medicine, it is not more contagious than other forms of TB, it's simply almost impossible to treat 2) Since Speaker wasn't highly infectious, and didn't have a cough or fever, the damage to others probably wasn't too bad 3) the risk of contracting infection on a plane isn't much worse than the risk in any other public setting. 4) the CDC has been raped, pillaged and politicized and Bush has appointed another arrogant incompetent at its head, so we had best not count on the CDC to protect us 5) Civil liberties are at stake when quarantines are implemented He quotes Dr. Michael Osterholm "Short of a military state where you have 24/7 surveillance on someone, you have to count on the good will of the individual."

The good will of others is often not that reliable. Revere asks us to ask ourselves if we might have done the same thing were we in Speaker's shoes.

Peter Sagal of NPR's "Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me" wasn't as kind. He said about Speaker "His TB is curable but his obnoxious behavior isn't"

The fact is that bird flu, drug resistant TB (and probably the plague and ebola) breed in conditions of terrible poverty. If we the privileged care to protect ourselves from contagious disease, maybe we should stop spending our money on war and overconsumption and use it to improve the conditions under which these dread diseases flourish.

The Bird Flu Babe thinks that Andrew Speaker is a canary

Addendum: global health statistics made palatable

Photo note: A sweet bilingual sentiment engraved in granite on a cliff at Tiger Leaping Gorge, Yunnan Province, China

Posted by Dakota at 05:13 PM

June 04, 2007



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I decided
to publish
a photo

it feels
like a
to me


Photo note: No, this is not a global warming effect -- it's the window at Paper Source, upon which a school of fish is glued this month for unknown reasons.

Posted by Dakota at 07:37 AM

June 01, 2007

Chest Beating


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Evidently W. is making scenes. Perhaps he's experiencing some stress in spite of claims to the contrary. Friends reported to the Dallas Morning News that the "wild eyed" decider was observed claiming"I am the President" while thumping his chest.

Neoconservative operatives were able to pump the puppet and cover Reagan's Alzheimer's pretty well, but it's much more difficult to manage an addict.

Lately it's become fashionable to screw up royally and then beat a path to rehab -- think Lindsay Lohan, Brittany Spears, Mel Gibson and Mark Foley. Could rehab be the face saving way out of Iraq. Oops, I was abusing alcohol (and painkilllers prescribed by doctors for my bicycle knee) and I made a little mistake. I "crossed the line", but I didn't mean to. I'm in rehab now and can't be held accountable.

The man needs treatment -- after he is impeached and incarcerated, that is.

But there seems to be a more ominous alternative plan.

Photo note: Blinded by patriotism? Snorting patriotism? See no evil?

Posted by Dakota at 09:46 AM