November 29, 2007

Temptation at the Dump


How could
the dish
all Ayn Rand
curves with
deco dog
have so outlived
her usefulness

abandoned now
upon the heap
for metals
the dump

seducing me
to take her home
all fifty pounds
of shining steel

a greenish gift?
a parlor toy?
a shoeshine stand?
a flower press?

with firm resolve
I pass her up
then unresolved
I drag her
toward a
crate for dogs
discarded too
a swell backdrop
and shoot
her wildly
twenty times

before my
heart throbs
all aclutter
and risks
the ruin of
my feng shui

Photo note : see above

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Another angle

Posted by Dakota at 06:44 AM

November 25, 2007

War Isn't Pretty


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from behind

The official count is in -- only two representatives (Kucinich and Paul) voted against charging "Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with violating the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and the United Nations Charter because of his calls for the destruction of the State of Israel", thereby declaring Iran an official enemy and potential target for the offenses of our reckless, greedy administration.

With over 6200 suicides among returning veterans, 28,000 wounded and maimed, an unprecedented number of cases of PTSD due to multiple deployments, and possibly 150,000 soldiers with traumatic brain injury, the grim consequences of this war (to our own troops alone) should be sufficient motivation to end it rather than escalate it. What's wrong with our elected officials ?

Elizabeth Samet has written a book, "Soldier's Heart" about her ten years of teaching literature at West Point. It was reviewed recently in the New York Times by poet Robert Pinsky. In her course she examines the many facets of honor as it is taught at the Academy:

Like love and art, honor comes from the imagination as a force that determines the fate of individuals and nations. And like love and art, honor has also attracted a thick enveloping tonnage of baloney, an encrustation of lies and exploitations. The lies and exploitations, in turn, have attracted debunking counterforces: the acids of doubt and the harsh illumination of exposure. A literature teacher at the academy deals with the imaginative forces of lofty aspiration and earthly truth-telling in an especially germane, intensified community — all the more so in a time of war.

Pinsky goes on to quote Samet quoting Tim O'Brien's novel "The Things They Carried" (phew):

“A true war story is never moral. It does not instruct, nor encourage virtue, nor suggest proper models of human behavior, nor restrain men from doing the things men have always done. If a story seems moral, do not believe it. If at the end of a war story you feel uplifted, or if you feel that some small bit of rectitude has been salvaged from the larger waste, then you have been made the victim of a very old and terrible lie.”

O’Brien echoes the concluding lines of Owen’s “Dulce et Decorum Est,” with its title from Horace and its description of a soldier who was so exhausted he failed to get his gas mask on in time:

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, —
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

Playwright and Iraq war veteran Joshua Casteel explains "How I Became a Conscientious Objector"

Enough is enough.

Photo note: This is a shot from from the exhibit "Gods In Color at the Sackler Museum, in which ancient statues were analyzed for long lost pigment and repainted accordingly. It seems that Ancient Greece and Rome tended toward the garish. I signed an 800 word waiver, which was much too long to read, promising not to do anything with my photos -- I'm assuming they meant for profit. Let me make it clear that you can read the above entry for free.

Posted by Dakota at 09:26 AM

November 24, 2007

Thanksgiving Table


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Pardon our absence. All of us here at Dakota have been recovering from the festival.

Rather than publish a list of things for which we are thankful, we will begin with a narcissistic display of table decor.

Two days before Thanksgiving we were thrilled to come upon a stalk of brussel sprouts for $3.99 at our local supermarket, which we knew would make a spectacular, economical and ultimately eatable centerpiece for the table. That, together with two long aloe leaves at 99 cents each and five for a dollar white calla lilies at the Dollar Store made an excellent start. Later we added garlic, flowering kale and some white berries for a full cruciferous effect. Today the whole centerpiece is beginning to smell like a 1920's Lower East Side tenement hallway. But we digress.

When they saw the raw ingredients, the family, artists in their own right, conjured something edgier.


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And this was the final compromise


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A photograph by Pinar Yolacan, the tripe artist, (note Maria's sash is a cow's second stomach) which just happened to be lying around, was placed atop the brussel sprouts giving the whole thing a strange sort of Egyptian/Mayan floating funeral pyre feeling, without being overtly disgusting.

All of us here at Dakota are thankful for a family that won't let us take ourselves too seriously.

Photo note: Another in the Thanksgiving table series, which are always a little out of focus due to dreary days

Posted by Dakota at 08:31 AM

November 21, 2007

Pictures That Flaunt Verbal Description


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Edward Tufte, the Galileo of graphics, according to some, has given all of us an appreciation for the representation of complex information in pictorial form. This morning we are posting a few images to shock and amaze, mostly because some of us here at Dakota are in the throes of Thanksgiving prep.

First take a peek at a graph depicting federal spending for energy research vs.the war in Iraq -- scroll down, you'll get a full upper body workout and, if you make it to the bottom, you can see why a salad costs more than a Big Mac.

While we're on the topic of energy, view the graphical map of who in the world has the oil (click on the image to make it larger)

And, to put it all in perspective, click around on this pretty little histomap.

Photo note: Just another picture that's hard to believe, the American flag can be considered a bonus

Posted by Dakota at 07:34 AM

November 18, 2007

Toilet Baptism - How Bush Came to Jesus


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I think it is evident to most of us that George W. Bush is a liar. Our esteemed President has told whoppers about issues great and small throughout his tenure, but this lie unearthed by Craig Unger is truly fundamental:

Conventional wisdom has it that George W. Bush became a "born-again" Christian in the summer of 1985, after extended private talks with Reverend Billy Graham. As recounted by Bush himself in "A Charge to Keep: My Journey to the White House," a ghostwritten autobiography prepared for the 2000 presidential campaign, one evening at Walker's Point, the Bush compound in Kennebunkport, Maine, Graham, spiritual confidant to Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan and a close friend of the Bush family, sat down by the fireplace and gave a talk. "I don't remember the exact words," Bush wrote. "It was more the power of his example. The Lord was so clearly reflected in his gentle and loving demeanor.".........

There's just one problem with Bush's account of his conversion experience: it's not true. For one thing, when Billy Graham was asked about the episode by NBC's Brian Williams, he declined to corroborate Bush's account. "I've heard others say that [I converted Bush], and people have written it, but I cannot say that," Graham said. "I was with him and I used to teach the Bible at Kennebunkport to the Bush family when he was a younger man, but I never feel that I in any way turned his life around."....

There is yet another reason why the episode in Maine could not possibly have been the first time George Bush gave his soul to Christ. That's because Bush had already been born again more than a year earlier, in April 1984 -- thanks to an evangelical preacher named Arthur Blessitt.

Whereas Billy Graham was a distinguished public figure whose fame grew out of frequent visits to the Oval Office over several decades, Arthur Blessitt had a very different background. His evangelicalism was rooted in the Jesus movement of the sixties counterculture. To the extent he was famous it was because he had preached at concerts with the Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin, the Jefferson Airplane, and others, and had run a "Jesus coffeehouse" called His Place on Hollywood's Sunset Strip during that turbulent decade. His flock consisted of bikers, druggies, hippies, and two Mafia hit men. The most celebrated ritual at Blessitt's coffeehouse was the "toilet baptism," a rite in which hippies announced they were giving up pot and LSD for Jesus, flushed the controlled substances down the toilet, and proclaimed they were "high on the Lord."

If you want the rest of the story, you'll have to read the whole article. Unfortunately, one is left to wonder what substances Bush flushed down the toilet for his conversion. Maybe it was cocaine and alcohol (or maybe not). It's been a lot harder to get him to deal with his addiction to power. He's flushing the whole country down the toilet instead..

WikiHow has a number of related articles which you might find edifying of a Sunday morn.How To Persuade An Atheist To Become A Christian (which the military is using with a heavy hand) or, conversely, How To Make A Christian Not Try To Convert An Atheist

That's enough -- I'm burned out on the god beat too.

Or just about - The Evolution of Creationism and the the Creation Museum. Phew!

Photo noet: A metaphorophoto -- A tattered flag hanging limply over a flimsy cross

Posted by Dakota at 07:59 AM

November 16, 2007


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A light in the House was was Blitzered last night, when he was finally called upon. He made some big waves anyway.

Photo notes: Somehow when posting these photos, I lost, or mostly lost the most interesting details, particularly, the moire effect of the screen in the bottom shot. That's when I decided to find a different picture instead - and put up the waves with the little bird in the upper right looking so tiny - then I decided that they looked nice together and may both be relevant to the entry.

Posted by Dakota at 01:39 PM | TrackBack

November 13, 2007

Subliminating Again


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76% of US
citizens think
we should
depart Iraq

but Dick Cheney
is happy there
or rather here

being the
big cheese
calling the shots

dressing the dog
as Darth Vader

when he should
have been
the Creature
from the Black Lagoon

a real man eater
come to
think of it

unsated by the
bloodied boys
returning vets
self destroyed
in aftermath
and then the tens of
of Iraqis

who only count
a third
his voracity
being what it is
brown skin
and long suffering
being what
they are

and all those arms and legs
and hearts and minds
shaken and sucked dry

an appetite
for power
boundless as
the blue skies
his snakey wife
the harridan
rolls out for us
on NPR
the teenaged tales of
twirling his baton
in the wide
open spaces
of his ordinary youth
which is getting
rave reviews
on Amazon dot com

she does
not reveal
the time or date
the demon gobbled
up his heart or
when or why
his taste for blood
began because
she's selling
us her quiet beau
the grandpa
humble boy

to camouflage
his foul intent
to sip more blood
and eat more lives
as he prepares
his big machine
to blow Iran
to smithereens

and serve himself
another snack

Photo note: Although a shot of the Creature from the Black Lagoon would have been preferable, it was not to be found in the archives (not for lack of trying) -- so a sneering bald demon will have to suffice. A few red drips at the corner of the sneer would have been useful, if only I could photoshop more skillfully. Shot this summer at a garden supply store. It wasn't a best seller.

Posted by Dakota at 06:20 PM

November 10, 2007

Tomorrow is Reuseable Bag Day


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Ever since discovering the North Pacific Trash Vortex, a swirling dump of plastic THE SIZE OF TEXAS in our precious ocean, I have been doing my very very best as a conscientious consumer never again to use another plastic bag, except for photographic purposes, of course.

As a result, I have a substantial collection of the green reusable bags because I so often find myself in line at the register, groceries aboard the conveyor, when I remember that my reuseable bags are in the front seat of my car, so I purchase another from the handy display. This cannot be good for the environment either, most particularly, the environment in the interior of my car.

You will be pleased to know that I have found a solution to this problem: Envirosax. They weigh about an ounce, and fold up to the size of two teabags, so I simply leave them in my purse awaiting an appropriate occasion.

If you are a dear and close personal friend, don't rush out to buy one, because Christmas is coming.

Brian Joyce, a Massachusetts state legislator,wrote an editorial for the Boston Globe Saturday, entitled Sack the Plastic Shopping Bag in which he implores readers to do what other cities and countries have done and ban the damn things altogether. Tomorrow is Reusable Bag Day throughout the Commonwealth so BYOB, as twere.

Photo note: A plastic bag, with "thank you for your patronage" written on it in red, conveniently caught in the Japanese red maple for full autumnal effect. Honestly, it's really hard to bring out the beauty in one of those things.

Posted by Dakota at 10:13 AM

Yet Another Sychophant is Confirmed


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Well because all my email to Diane Feinstein is bouncing, she went ahead and voted for Mukasey's confirmation. As Attorney General he will now be in charge of upholding selected laws of the land, like voter fraud, and internet child porn, which Dick and George would never be caught doing, since they are both blissfully embedded with their adoring wives, and neither is sufficiently adept at using the google

Before his hearing Mukasey was briefed by members of the Federalist Society. who were especially interested in his willingness to sashay the question of water boarding as a crime. Mukasey was sufficiently evasive on that issue, and responded dutifully to a wide range of other questions from the judiciary committee -- you are advised scroll down to get the full flavor.

When confirmed, Mukasey was said to be wet but happy.

Photo note: Well it has the hose, the water, the board, the plank, even a stake just in case -- and it was best I could do without security clearance

Posted by Dakota at 09:22 AM

November 08, 2007

Evil Isn't All That Bad


the wise
ones asked
me how
I used
the blaze
the fire
the heat
of rage
I have

at the
sight of
all of
what is

what has

what is
going to happen

what is not
going to happen

my body
aches with
every blow
I have not dealt
instead withheld

I am again
to the
of truth

destruction is
essential to
the pulse of life
the polar field

for it's in
the wresting
roiling space
between creation
and destruction
that possibilities
spill forth

and thus inspired
I write poem
called evil
isn't all
that bad.

Photo note: The cosmos before a greater structure, light and dark, rife with triangles -- it must be a metaphorophoto

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Posted by Dakota at 06:36 PM

November 06, 2007

Welcome TV Viewers


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Now that the writer's strike is on, all of us here at Dakota would like to take this opportunity to be even more entertaining than usual, in order to distract you from watching democracy go down the drain without a whimper -- like TV does. We too will miss David Letterman, and sincerely hope that Jon Stewart has the fortitude to keep us posted singlehandedly, lest Keith Olbermann be the only light on the tube.

In light of the strike, the research staff has unearthed two activities to fill your unexpected leisure. First, we suggest that you watch young Bo Burnham's most entertaining video entitled Rehab for Fictional Characters. And if you still have time on your hands why not send for your FBI file?

Photo note: No activity backstage

more pap

Posted by Dakota at 07:20 PM

November 04, 2007



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Every time I hear Pakistani President Musharraf justify his declaration of martial law, I cannot help but wonder when we will hear similar words from our own President. In fact Bush was just kidding around about it last week with Putin. In the meantime, Musharraf has been busy arresting the opposition and the judiciary who were about to declare his presidency illegal.

Last month Afghanistan scholar Barnett Rubin warned in an interview for Talking Points Memo (you'll have to scroll down to find the video):

Let's put this in perspective according to US national security interests. Osama bin Laden and the major leaders of Al Quaeda...has its secure headquarters in Pakistan.... Furthermore Pakistan is a government that has nuclear weapons. Now according to the administration the biggest threat to the United States is the potential of nuclear weapons getting into the hands of terrorists There is nowhere in the world where that is more likely to happen than in Pakistan. So you might ask why it is that we have concentrated all of our efforts in Iraq which had nothing to do with 9/11, while we allied with the military government in Pakistan, and we even took our ambassador out of Pakistan, transferred him to Iraq and didn't even replace him for many months. This is just unbelievable -- it is such a dereliction of duty on the part of the Bush administration to the national security of the United States that it boggles the mind. But it seems that everyone is so bewitched by this idea that somehow Iraq is the center of the war on terrorism and Musharraf is our ally, that they are neglecting this gross negligence which is putting our country in danger.

This is not just some side issue in some minor country that doesn't get enough attention,
this is a major failure of the first rank to address the biggest threat to the United States. And this is not my opinion, that is the opinion of all the major intelligence agencies of the United States, and the national intelligence estimate. I cannot speak more strongly about that.

In order to try to address that issue, the administration paid very little attention to the issue of political legitimacy in Pakistan. They basically sided, as American governments have tended to do, especially Republican lead American governments, with the military in Pakistan and thought that they could handle the whole situation, and of course the military in Pakistan told them they would do that . So the military arrested some of the Arab leadership of Al Quaeda from time to time, they allowed a safe haven for the Taliban, and even gave them some indirect support by allowing Pakistani political parties to support them, not because they they support terrorism against the United States, but because they have alot of political problems with Afghanistan that we also have not addressed.

We never did anything to try support a democratic transition or the legitimization of the government in Pakistan even when the entire legal profession of Pakistan was on the streets protesting against their military dictatorship, this administration which claims to have a freedom agenda sent its high ranking officials to say they still suppported General Musharraf. The result is today the government has lost alot of its legitimacy on legal grounds because it defied the courts, although finally it was defeated by them. It is losing legitimacy that is attempting to build on democratic grounds because it has not reached an agreement with the democratic parties. It has lost legitimacy the military tried to build up on the basis of Islamic politics because they have been fighting against these Islamist groups in a rather desultory way. .......

But there's also the danger....that the military will lose the support of its own troops and the government will be come less effective.. Can you imagine if we start to see the collapse of a government that has nuclear weapons in a country where Al Queda is headquartered and the US has its troops, its money, it's intellligence and its attention bogged down in Iraq?

Nonetheless, the administration continues to support Musharraf because he's the devil they know - you probably remember his appearance with Jon Stewart.

Barnett Rubin happened to be in Islamabad when martial law was declared. He is currently live blogging from Pakistan, as are other voices for democracy and freedom

The situation is serious, but never fear, the ever popular Dr. Condi will be on the case soon , when she's finished making friends in Turkey

Photo note: Visiting China in the Year of the Pig provided many excellent photographic subjects for political commentary -- who's that peaking over the right flank anyway? Alternatively, bet we'll see democracy in Pakistan when pigs fly

Posted by Dakota at 07:58 AM

November 03, 2007

Take the Test


the folks
at Glassbooth

have devised
a quiz
to help
you choose
the 2008
who represents
you best

take the test
you may be

Photo note:its' hard to get beyond the distortions

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Posted by Dakota at 08:41 AM

November 01, 2007

Leaves of Grass


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Tuesday the New York Times published a piece by Freakonomics co-author Stephen Dubner who was rethinking the pros and cons of legalizing marijuana. Dubner interviewed a number of "experts", one of whom, Richard Lawrence Miller summed up the situation:

In all of my studies, I concluded that the “war on drugs” masked a war on democracy. I explained my conclusion in Drug Warriors and Their Prey, and then retired from reform activity.

At the risk of being long-winded, I wanted to let you know why I’m not citing any studies here. Reformers know about studies, and opponents disregard them, so I see no benefit in mentioning any. If my previous documented writings fail to establish me as someone whose word is credible, reproducing two or three of my footnotes would hardly be sufficient either.

On these and other points, in my books on drug use I cite scientific studies aplenty. But opponents of reform are no more interested in the mainline scientific consensus than are persons who oppose taking protective steps to reduce risk of climate change. There is no debate, merely theater. Discussing drug policy is like discussing gun control or abortion: facts are irrelevant.

Pete Guitier of critiques

One disappointment with Dubner's article is his semi-complaint:

"You will find that their replies routinely contradict one another, even on statements of fact. This is a limitation of nearly any debate of this sort, and while these contradictions illustrate what makes the issue a potent one, you may also be frustrated (as I was) by them."

Well, that's simple. What you do then is check out the facts and say which one is a liar. I have very little patience with reporters who 'report' things in ways like... "Flat-earthers say the earth is flat and the sun revolves around the earth, while round-earthers say the earth is round and revolves around the sun. Unfortunately both are dogmatic in their positions and refuse to compromise, leaving us frustrated." If there are facts at issue, then research them and come up with the truth. Not everything is subjective, and there are, within the marijuana legalization debate, economic and social truths as clear as the one that describes our solar system.

An excellent point which all journalists should practice when writing about ANY subject.

A commenter on Dubner named Adam made an important point as well.

I was hoping to hear more about the economics of legalization. How much money would the government gain in this event? The cash crops link says it is a $35 billion crop. If they US stopped spending $11 billion on fighting the war, and received ~10% of the yearly sales of the drug, does that mean the economic advantage would be around $15 billion minus marginal increased medical expenses due to increased consumption?

In 2005 Dan Eggen of the Washington Post noted that the Drug War switched its emphasis from cocaine and heroin to marijuana.

The study released yesterday by the Sentencing Project found that arrests for marijuana account for nearly all of the increase in drug arrests seen during the 1990s. The report also found that one in four people in state prisons for marijuana offenses can be classified as a "low-level offender," and it estimated that $4 billion a year is spent on arresting and prosecuting marijuana crimes.

In addition, the study showed that although African Americans make up 14 percent of marijuana users generally, they account for nearly a third of all marijuana arrests.

Among the most striking findings was the researchers' examination of arrest trends in New York City, which focused intently on "zero tolerance" policies during Rudolph W. Giuliani's mayoral administration. Marijuana arrests in the city increased tenfold from 1990 to 2002, from 5,100 to more than 50,000, the report said. Nine of 10 of arrests in 2002 were for possession rather than dealing.

The study also found a wide disparity in the growth of marijuana arrests in some of the United States' largest counties, from a 20 percent increase in San Diego to a 418 percent spike in King County, Wash. (The only decrease in the sample came in Northern Virginia's Fairfax County, where marijuana arrests declined by 37 percent.)

"There's been a major change in what's going on in drug enforcement, but it clearly isn't something that someone set out to do," said Jonathan Caulkins, a criminology professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. "It's not like anyone said, 'We don't care about cocaine and heroin anymore.' . . . The simple answer may be that police are now taking opportunities to make more marijuana arrests than they were when they were focused on crack cocaine in the 1980s."

As in any war, the War on Drugs has profiteers, which none of the experts mentioned. The prison industry is one of the fastest growing businesses in this country. Private prisons are not only handsome money makers in and of themselves, but reliable sources of dirt cheap labor. An additional perk for the corporatocracy is that imprisoning black and hispanic men keeps them out of the polls, where they might vote democratic.

But never fear, ex-narcotic agent, Barry Cooper has just completed his new DVD entitled "Never Get Busted Again", which is full of handy hints for everyone from the dealer to the casual user. For example:

Cooper has dozens of tips. For instance, surrounding marijuana with coffee grounds doesn't work, because the dogs can still smell the dope. For those traveling by car, the video recommends taking their pet cat along, because the K-9 won't stop trying to play with the cat, even if it's taken out of the car.

An excellent DVD to add to your collection, just in case marijuana isn't legalized in your lifetime.

Photo note: The best I could do under the circumstances without precipitating a raid on the premises

Posted by Dakota at 10:37 PM