Sunday, January 31, 2010

Friday, January 29, 2010

Photos from Lance Mountain's house on Sunday

I haven't shot pictures in a backyard pool in I can't tell you how many years, but Lance invited me out last year while i was in town, so I finally got out there this trip and had a good time shooting and hanging with the Mountain's. Dig the results:

Outside Yvette's kitchen window.

Pat Ngoho, an old friend still ripping with great style.

Lance between rides and between pools in his backyard

Rick Charnowski, infamous skate filmmaker tearing it up.

Tony Farmer, never met him before, but shreded hard enough, got me to take a couple of shots! nice guy.

All these and more from the same single roll of BLACK AND WHITE FILM. thank you.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Great Loss - Howard Zinn has died.

Howard Zinn, radical historian, professor, and author, has died. He was 87.

The Boston Globe Obituary:
Howard Zinn, historian who challenged status quo, dies at 87

By Mark Feeney and Bryan Marquard, Globe Staff

Howard Zinn, the Boston University historian and political activist who was an early opponent of US involvement in Vietnam and whose books, such as "A People's History of the United States," inspired young and old to rethink the way textbooks present the American experience, died today in Santa Monica, Calif, where he was traveling. He was 87.

His daughter, Myla Kabat-Zinn of Lexington, said he suffered a heart attack.

"He's made an amazing contribution to American intellectual and moral culture," Noam Chomsky, the left-wing activist and MIT professor, said tonight. "He's changed the conscience of America in a highly constructive way. I really can't think of anyone I can compare him to in this respect."

Chomsky added that Dr. Zinn's writings "simply changed perspective and understanding for a whole generation. He opened up approaches to history that were novel and highly significant. Both by his actions, and his writings for 50 years, he played a powerful role in helping and in many ways inspiring the Civil rights movement and the anti-war movement."
For Dr. Zinn, activism was a natural extension of the revisionist brand of history he taught. "A People’s History of the United States" (1980), his best-known book, had for its heroes not the Founding Fathers -- many of them slaveholders and deeply attached to the status quo, as Dr. Zinn was quick to point out -- but rather the farmers of Shays' Rebellion and union organizers of the 1930s.

As he wrote in his autobiography, "You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train" (1994), "From the start, my teaching was infused with my own history. I would try to be fair to other points of view, but I wanted more than 'objectivity'; I wanted students to leave my classes not just better informed, but more prepared to relinquish the safety of silence, more prepared to speak up, to act against injustice wherever they saw it. This, of course, was a recipe for trouble."

Certainly, it was a recipe for rancor between Dr. Zinn and John Silber, former president of Boston University. Dr. Zinn, a leading critic of Silber, twice helped lead faculty votes to oust the BU president, who in turn once accused Dr. Zinn of arson (a charge he quickly retracted) and cited him as a prime example of teachers "who poison the well of academe."

Dr. Zinn was a cochairman of the strike committee when BU professors walked out in 1979. After the strike was settled, he and four colleagues were charged with violating their contract when they refused to cross a picket line of striking secretaries. The charges against "the BU Five" were soon dropped.

In 1997, Dr. Zinn slipped into popular culture when his writing made a cameo appearance in the film "Good Will Hunting." The title character, played by Matt Damon, lauds "A People’s History" and urges Robin Williams’s character to read it. Damon, who co-wrote the script, was a neighbor of the Zinns growing up.

"Howard had a great mind and was one of the great voices in the American political life," Ben Affleck, also a family friend growing up and Damon's co-star in "Good Will Hunting," said in a statement. "He taught me how valuable -- how necessary -- dissent was to democracy and to America itself. He taught that history was made by the everyman, not the elites. I was lucky enough to know him personally and I will carry with me what I learned from him -- and try to impart it to my own children -- in his memory."

Damon was later involved in a television version of the book, "The People Speak," which ran on the History Channel in 2009, and he narrated a 2004 biographical documentary, "Howard Zinn: You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train."

"Howard had a genius for the shape of public morality and for articulating the great alternative vision of peace as more than a dream," said James Carroll a columnist for the Globe's opinion pages whose friendship with Dr. Zinn dates to when Carroll was a Catholic chaplain at BU. "But above all, he had a genius for the practical meaning of love. That is what drew legions of the young to him and what made the wide circle of his friends so constantly amazed and grateful."

Dr. Zinn was born in New York City on Aug. 24, 1922, the son of Jewish immigrants, Edward Zinn, a waiter, and Jennie (Rabinowitz) Zinn, a housewife. He attended New York public schools and was working in the Brooklyn Navy Yard when he met Roslyn Shechter.

"She was working as a secretary," Dr. Zinn said in an interview with the Globe nearly two years ago. "We were both working in the same neighborhood, but we didn't know each other. A mutual friend asked me to deliver something to her. She opened the door, I saw her, and that was it."

He joined the Army Air Corps, and they courted through the mail before marrying in October 1944 while he was on his first furlough. She died in 2008.

During World War II, he served as a bombardier, was awarded the Air Medal, and attained the rank of second lieutenant.

After the war, Dr. Zinn worked at a series of menial jobs until entering New York University on the GI Bill as a 27-year-old freshman. He worked nights in a warehouse loading trucks to support his studies. He received his bachelor’s degree from NYU, followed by master’s and doctoral degrees in history from Columbia University.

Dr. Zinn was an instructor at Upsala College and lecturer at Brooklyn College before joining the faculty of Spelman College in Atlanta, in 1956. He served at the historically black women’s institution as chairman of the history department. Among his students were novelist Alice Walker, who called him "the best teacher I ever had," and Marian Wright Edelman, future head of the Children's Defense Fund.

During this time, Dr. Zinn became active in the civil rights movement. He served on the executive committee of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, the most aggressive civil rights organization of the time, and participated in numerous demonstrations.

Dr. Zinn became an associate professor of political science at BU in 1964 and was named full professor in 1966.

The focus of his activism became the Vietnam War. Dr. Zinn spoke at many rallies and teach-ins and drew national attention when he and the Rev. Daniel Berrigan, another leading antiwar activist, went to Hanoi in 1968 to receive three prisoners released by the North Vietnamese.

Dr. Zinn’s involvement in the antiwar movement led to his publishing two books: "Vietnam: The Logic of Withdrawal" (1967) and "Disobedience and Democracy" (1968). He had previously published "LaGuardia in Congress" (1959), which had won the American Historical Association's Albert J. Beveridge Prize; "SNCC: The New Abolitionists" (1964); "The Southern Mystique" (1964); and "New Deal Thought" (1966).

He also was the author of "The Politics of History" (1970); "Postwar America" (1973); "Justice in Everyday Life" (1974); and "Declarations of Independence" (1990).

In 1988, Dr. Zinn took early retirement to concentrate on speaking and writing. The latter activity included writing for the stage. Dr. Zinn had two plays produced: "Emma," about the anarchist leader Emma Goldman, and "Daughter of Venus."

On his last day at BU, Dr. Zinn ended class 30 minutes early so he could join a picket line and urged the 500 students attending his lecture to come along. A hundred did.

"Howard was an old and very close friend," Chomsky said. "He was a person of real courage and integrity, warmth and humor. He was just a remarkable person."

Carroll called Dr. Zinn "simply one of the greatest Americans of our time. He will not be replaced -- or soon forgotten. How we loved him back."

In addition to his daughter, Dr. Zinn leaves a son, Jeff of Wellfleet; three granddaughters; and two grandsons.

Funeral plans were not available.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Rise Of The Machines

from Henry Rollin's Vanity Fair blog "STRAIGHT TALK ESPRESSO":
Cold and raining in Leeds, England. The recent decision by the Supreme Court to give personhood to corporations did not surprise me. Perhaps it is my cynicism or just plain repetition, but it always seems that the worst decision gets made in my country. More soldiers into Afghanistan, bank bailouts, and now corporations being able to unleash torrents of funds into the political field. A corporation, an entity that only rates its success by profit, can now potentially shape elections and drown out the voice of the people.

By humanizing corporations, you in turn dehumanize real people. To give a pulse to a thing like Halliburton is science fiction. That a corporation now has human rights, constitutional protections as well as corporate protections, makes them superhuman and accountable to no one.

Perhaps America has always been headed to a vision of democracy as nothing more than an inconvenience for corporate goals. Giving life to corporations is a real spike in the heart of American freedom, democracy, the Constitution, and progress. This decision will turn politicians into fear-filled servants of corporate masters. Those who stand up for the people can simply be bought off, eliminated by an overwhelming smear campaign, or made all but voiceless because they will be outspent.

There might even come a time when only a fraction of potential voters will bother to cast a ballot, thinking that their government is just another logo.
the original article and comments appear here.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Ultimate Tree House

There’s the tree house your Dad built for you in the backyard, and then there’s the tree house Robert Harvey Oshatz built in the forests of Portland, Oregon. Designed in 1997 and completed in 2004, the Wilkinson Residence is in perfect harmony with its surroundings. Built on a steep sloping lot, the living space resides amongst the forest canopy, making your morning coffee most enjoyable. With more curves than Lombard Street, the Wilkinson Residence is a property you have to see to believe.

Description from the architect: Robert Harvey Oshatz

A lover of music, the client wanted a house that not only became part of the natural landscape but also addressed the flow of music. This house evades the mechanics of the camera; it is difficult to capture the way the interior space flows seamlessly through to the exterior. One must actually stroll through the house to grasp its complexities and its connection to the exterior. One example is a natural wood ceiling, floating on curved laminated wood beams, passing through a generous glass wall which wraps around the main living room.

read the whole article with more photos here.

thanks Presurfer

Monday, January 25, 2010

Blasting the Supreme Court... as we all should.

Calling [Thursdays]’s Supreme Court decision that effectively legalized the corporate bribery of politicians its most irresponsible since Dred Scott, Florida Representative Alan Grayson vented yesterday with Keith Olbermann (see below).

President Obama’s response was no less critical, calling it “a major victory for big oil, Wall Street banks, health insurance companies and the other powerful interests that marshal their power every day in Washington to drown out the voices of everyday Americans.”

Fortunately, as BoingBoing notes, a push-back is already underway. If you want to reverse the Court’s equation of corporations with people, sign the petition at Move To Amend, a project of the Campaign To Legalize Democracy. Bill Moyers, Howard Zinn, and Bill McKibben already have.

The Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United v. FEC allows corporations and unions to pour unprecedented amounts of money into elections. From this moment on, when Congress acts, we won't be able to know whether it was because of reason or judgment... or only because of the need for campaign money. The system is broken, and we need to act.

Watch Lawrence Lessig's response to Citizens United now, spread his call to action, and be sure to sign up for updates.

from Dangerous Minds and BoingBoing. Thanks.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Air America is No More

Bad news in these financial and politically insane times...

It was a noble experiment, giving us talent like Rachel Maddow and Al Franken, but now progressive/liberal radio talker Air America has gone kaput:
It is with the greatest regret, on behalf of our Board, that we must announce that Air America Media is ceasing its live programming operations as of this afternoon, and that the Company will file soon under Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy Code to carry out an orderly winding-down of the business.

The very difficult economic environment has had a significant impact on Air America’s business. This past year has seen a “perfect storm” in the media industry generally. National and local advertising revenues have fallen drastically, causing many media companies nationwide to fold or seek bankruptcy protection. From large to small, recent bankruptcies like Citadel Broadcasting and closures like that of the industry’s long-time trade publication Radio and Records have signaled that these are very difficult and rapidly changing times.

Those companies that remain are facing audience fragmentation as a result of new media technologies, are often saddled with crushing debt, and have generally found it difficult to obtain operating or investment capital from traditional sources of funding. In this climate, our painstaking search for new investors has come close several times right up into this week, but ultimately fell short of success.

With radio industry ad revenues down for 10 consecutive quarters, and reportedly off 21% in 2009, signs of improvement have consisted of hoping things will be less bad. And though Internet/new media revenues are projected to grow, our expanding online efforts face the same monetization and profitability challenges in the short term confronting the Web operations of most media companies

from Dangerous Minds

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Enter The Magical Mystery Chambers
by Wu Tang Vs The Beatles

This Wu-Tang Beatles mash-up clearly shows off the greatness of the Wu's lyrical abilities. The Beatles samples are there, but not quite as obvious as i was expecting, but i'm still feeling this whole (now downloadable for free!) album of 27 cuts more than any WU-TANG album ever, not to diss the 36 Chambers, which is the last Hip-Hop LP i actually BOUGHT, and is a landmark hip-hop album, but this shit here, is TIGHT!


Thanks to Xeni at BoingBoing for pointing this out.

BONUS: if you really feel like getting a bit more into the Beatles today, check this out:

Exploration of Beatles music through infographics:

These visualizations are part of an extensive study of the music of the Beatles. Many of the diagrams and charts are based on secondary sources, including but not limited to sales statistics, biographies, recording sesion notes, sheet music, and raw audio readings. Join this project here.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Mass Gathering in defence of street photography

Ever since I started taking pictures as a pre-teen, authorities and others have tried stopping me, usually under the pretense of trespassing. Other times the authorities wanted to destroy the evidence of their "handy-work" or to just try to discourage me from doing what i was doing: to further inspire others in a rebellious lifestyle. But taking pictures in public spaces of architecture or anything of interest in the public sphere? This should not even be a question, the paranoia and control issues with terrorism as an excuse is not only despicable, it's pathetic and disgusting.

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty or safety"
- Benjamin Franklin (1759)

The UK activist group "I'm a Photographer Not a Terrorist!" is planning a mass photo-shooting this Saturday in Trafalgar Square, London: "Following a series of high profile detentions under s44 of the terrorism act including 7 armed police detaining an award winning architectural photographer in the City of London, the arrest of a press photographer covering campaigning santas at City Airport and the stop and search of a BBC photographer at St Pauls Cathedral and many others. PHNAT feels now is the time for a mass turnout of Photographers, professional and amateur to defend our rights and stop the abuse of the terror laws."

Photography is under attack. Across the country it that seems anyone with a camera is being targeted as a potential terrorist, whether amateur or professional, whether landscape, architectural or street photographer.

Not only is it corrosive of press freedom but creation of the collective visual history of our country is extinguished by anti-terrorist legislation designed to protect the heritage it prevents us recording.

This campaign is for everyone who values visual imagery, not just photographers.

We must work together now to stop this before photography becomes a part of history rather than a way of recording it.
for more info go here:

(Thanks BoingBoing)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Search Engine's YouTube channel launches: Does the Internet make you dumber?

Our friends at the brilliant TVOntario tech podcast Search Engine have launched a YouTube channel. The inaugural episode, "Does the Internet Make You Dumber?" is fun, informative, and 3 minutes long.

Search Engine Video #1: Does the Internet Make You Dumber?

from BoingBoing

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Progressive Links on Haitian Earthquake

from DangerousMinds

Good roundup of information on Haiti, how to best help, who’s not helping, who broke it, and who might continue to break it. List’s been going around on Facebook—an excellent resource roundup including action items.

See the full list with links here.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Skateboarding in my life today...

Sometime early this afternoon I hear from Jeff Ho and C.R. Stecyk III, both tell me there is going to be a photo session down at Bicknell Hill on the beach beside the Bay Street parking lot here in Santa Monica (where the original Z-Boys used to practice riding sometimes). The photographer is shooting for some HISTORY OF SKATEBOARDING book, i know nothing about. And they tell me they want me in the photo, with them or with a group or just with Craig, I am not sure, but as soon as I was done with the great vegan baby shower i was attending down in Venice, I would head over.

The rain storms that we have been warned about all week, are arriving a bit earlier than planned so they move the shoot over to the California Heritage Museum where there is currently the Evolution of Skateboard Art exhibit going on. As i am finishing my last bite of an incredible vegan cup cake, that was home made by the hosts, I get the call notifying me of the change of venue and that some of the original Z-Boy crew will also be in attendance. I'm there by 4pm, as reqested, and get to see the show for the 1st time, that exhibits (among other things) a few of my photos and a rare board that was custom made for me by Nathan Pratt back in 1977. I was impressed with the vast collection and all around quality of the display, the layout within this historical old building was pretty cool too.

Anyway, the folks start showing up, P.C., Muir, Dawson is always on time, Jeff Ho and a few of his current team, Nathan Pratt, Alan Sarlo, then Stecyk shows, then Cahill, then Peggy Oki!!!!! and last of the day but not least Jim Muir. All a total surprise to me. (Where's Stacy, Tony, Shogo, Biniak, Skip? Stecyk says their Gulfstream's were running late due to the storms - HA!) Then I'm asked to be in the group photo too, that was funny. They put me in Alva's place (as he was in the OG team shot) which i figured was kinda fair since he had been busted on one occasion signing MY name in a DogTown book. So as the photographer is setting up, i step out of place to take this one snap shot (below) with my waterproof point and shoot.

(L>R: Craig Stecyk, Jeff Ho, Nathan Pratt, Cris Dawson, Chris Cahill, Alan Sarlo, Jim Muir, and in front Peggy Oki and Paul Constantineau.)
A bit later, after lots of laughs, Stecyk and I posed for a separate shot too, I look forward to getting a copy.

I was actually planning on shooting today at the Venice skatepark, but got rained out. Yesterday the skating there really blew me away. There was an eight year old who reminded me exactly of a young Christian Hosoi, and some other shredders young and old (notably good old friend and Marina local, Pat Ngoho), all keeping it true to form in the new heart of DogTown, at the oasis of a skatepark, right there on the beach... Maybe after the storms we'll get a good session in there, I hope so.


Only related by the subject matter of skateboarding, this amazingly cool movie trailer brought to my attention a few minutes ago:

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Glowing walls could kill off the light bulb...

Light-emitting wallpaper may begin to replace light bulbs from 2012, according to a government body that supports low-carbon technology.

A chemical coating on the walls will illuminate all parts of the room with an even glow, which mimics sunlight and avoids the shadows and glare of conventional bulbs.

Although an electrical current will be used to stimulate the chemicals to produce light, the voltage will be very low and the walls will be safe to touch. Dimmer switches will control brightness, as with traditional lighting.

The Carbon Trust has awarded a £454,000 grant to Lomox, a Welsh company that is developing the organic light-emitting diode technology. The trust said it would be two and a half times more efficient than energysaving bulbs and could make a big contribution to meeting Britain’s target of cutting carbon emissions by 34 per cent by 2020. Indoor lighting accounts for a sixth of total electricity use.

The chemical coating, which can be applied in the form of specially treated wallpaper or simply painted straight on to walls, can also be used for flat-screen televisions, computers and mobile phone displays.

As the system uses only between three and five volts, it can be powered by solar panels or batteries. Lomox, which will use the grant to prove the durability of the technology, believes it could be used in the first instance to illuminate road signs or barriers where there is no mains electricity.

Ken Lacey, the chief executive of Lomox, said that the first products would go on sale in 2012. “The light is a very natural, sunlight-type of lighting with the full colour range. It gives you all kinds of potential for how you do lighting,” he said.

Although organic light-emitting diodes (LEDs) have been available for several years, Mr Lacey said that concerns over cost and durability had prevented further development. He said that Lomox had developed a much cheaper process and discovered a combination of chemicals that were not vulnerable to the oxidation that shortened the operating life span of other types of organic LEDs.

Mr Lacey said the technology could be used to make flexible screens that could be rolled up after use, or carried into a presentation, for example.

Mark Williamson, director of innovations at the Carbon Trust, said: “Lighting is a major producer of carbon emissions. This technology has the potential to produce ultra-efficient lighting for a wide range of applications, tapping into a huge global market.

“It’s a great example of the innovation that makes the UK a hotbed of clean technology development.”

from The Times
Ben Webster, Environment Editor

Saturday, January 16, 2010

At a Mighty 104, Gone While Still Going Strong

from the New York Times
Joe Rollino once lifted 475 pounds. He used neither his arms nor his legs but, reportedly, his teeth. With just one finger he raised up 635 pounds; with his back he moved 3,200. He bit down on quarters to bend them with his thumb.

On Monday morning, Mr. Rollino went for a walk in his Brooklyn neighborhood, a daily routine. It was part of the Great Joe Rollino’s greatest feat, a display of physical dexterity and stamina so subtle that it revealed itself only if you happened to ask him his date of birth: March 19, 1905. He was 104 years old and counting.

A few minutes before 7 a.m., as Mr. Rollino was crossing Bay Ridge Parkway at 13th Avenue, a 1999 Ford Windstar minivan struck him. The police said he suffered fractures to his pelvis, chest, ribs and face, as well as head trauma. Unconscious, he was taken to Lutheran Medical Center, where he later died.

New York is a city of extraordinary lives and events, and here, indisputably, was one of them — one of the city’s strongest and oldest, struck down on a Monday morning by a minivan in Brooklyn...

Mr. Rollino stayed away from meat. And cigarettes. And alcohol. He said he walked five miles every morning, rain or shine. At the height of his career, he weighed between 125 and 150 pounds and stood about 5-foot-5.

read the rest of the strongman's story here at

Friday, January 15, 2010

Some Badass Soda Fountain

Somewhere in this country, most likely in the west, or south, some soda fountain exists where this photo was taken. it's been around the internet and back, but i just had to post it. Needed a bit of good humor today. I'm not going to give away the photo, in the caption, you look and figure it out. Pretty cool (no pun intended).

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Interesting article on everyone's favorite CEO
John Mackey of Whole Foods

I for one can forgive a genius for some stupidity, depending on whether i agree with his genius side of course.

When it comes to this guy, I can say, even after reading this piece, i like what he's done and his personal and business mission. Some of his philosophy and business practices I don't agree with, but it's his business to do as he likes, no one needs to shop at his stores. I like to shop there. I have friends who work there and love working there. I am not a hypocrite for shopping there. Whole Foods has done a lot of good for a lot of people as far as i can tell. The haters can keep on hating, they probably don't care for healthy food anyway.

When I became vegan as long ago as i did, i could never have even dreamed there would be stores like this all around the country, let alone the products and in house (generic) brands of products they sell. Sometimes you spend a lot there, but i find that it's just because they have so much good stuff. Products they sell that bigger chains sell, in fact are usually cheaper at WF. Anyway let the man say his piece as clearly as he can, although i will say even this writer in the New Yorker seemed to have his bias.

here's a few choice bits from the very long piece:
John Mackey at a store in Austin, Texas. To “the people that really dislike us,” he says, “Whole Foods is a big corporation, so they think that we’ve crossed over to the dark side.” Photograph by Dan Winters.

Does Whole Foods’ C.E.O. know what’s best for you?
by Nick Paumgarten

John Mackey, the co-founder and chief executive of Whole Foods Market, refers to the company as his child—not just his creation but the thing on earth whose difficulties or downfall it pains him most to contemplate. He also sees himself as a “daddy” to his fifty-four thousand employees, who are known as “team members,” but they may occasionally consider him to be more like a crazy uncle. To the extent that a child inherits or adopts a parent’s traits, Whole Foods is an embodiment of many of Mackey’s. A Whole Foods store, in some respects, is like Mackey’s mind turned inside out. Certainly, the evolution of the corporation has often traced his own as a man; it has been an incarnation of his dreams and quirks, his contradictions and trespasses, and whatever he happened to be reading and eating, or not eating...

The right-wing hippie is a rare bird, and it’s fair to say that most of Whole Foods’ shoppers have trouble conceiving of it. They tend to be of a different stripe, politically and philosophically, and they were either oblivious or dimly aware of Mackey’s views, until the moment, this summer, when Mackey published an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal asserting that the government should not be in the business of providing health care. This was hardly a radical view, and yet in the gathering heat of the health-care debate the op-ed, virally distributed via the left-leaning blogs, raised a fury. In no time, liberals were organizing boycotts of Whole Foods. (Right-wingers staged retaliatory “buy-cotts.”) Mackey had thrown tinder on the long-smoldering suspicion, in some quarters, that he was a profiteer in do-gooder disguise, and that he, and therefore Whole Foods, was in some way insincere or even counterfeit. No one can say that he hasn’t brought it on himself...

“I have my own views, and they’re not necessarily the same as Whole Foods’,” Mackey told me. “People want me to suppress who I am. I guess that’s why so many politicians and C.E.O.s get to be sort of boring, because they end up suppressing any individuality to conform to some phony, inauthentic way of being. I’d rather be myself.”...

“He’s a ready-aim-fire guy, and he’s not real disciplined in how he speaks his mind,” Gary Hirshberg, the C.E.O. of Stonyfield, the organic milk and yogurt producer, told me. “He has a really hard time reconciling his public and private selves.” Mackey’s resilience has surprised even those who, like Hirshberg, hold him in high esteem. “John has that Clintonesque ability to hang in there,” Hirshberg said. “He is Whole Foods management’s greatest asset but also, at times, its greatest challenge.”...

To some, Whole Foods is Whole Paycheck, an overpriced luxury for yuppie gastronomes and fussy label-readers. Or it is Holy Foods, the commercial embodiment of environmental and nutritional pieties. To hard-core proponents of natural and organic food, and of food production that’s local, polycultural, and carbon-stingy, Whole Foods is a disappointment—a bundle of big-business compromises and half-steps, an example of something merely good that the perfect can reasonably be declared an enemy of. It’s a welter of paradoxes: a staunchly anti-union enterprise that embraces some progressive labor practices; a self-styled world-improver that must also deliver quarterly results to Wall Street; a big-box chain putting on small-town airs; an evangelist for healthy eating that sells sausages, ice cream, and beer...

Of course, Whole Foods has always held itself up as a paragon of virtue. It is an article of faith that it is, as Mackey often says, a mission-based business. It has seven “core values,” which are, broadly speaking, commitments to the fulfillment and equitable treatment of all “stakeholders”—customers, employees, investors, and suppliers—as well as to the health of the populace, of the food system, and of the earth. Whole Foods’ claim to righteousness is, in many respects, its unique selling point. If the mission is sincere, so is the commitment to making money. Mackey is adamant, and not merely unapologetic, that his company—any company—can and should pursue profits and a higher purpose simultaneously, and that in fact the pursuit of both enhances the pursuit of each. “Whole Foods itself is a market-based solution,” he said. “We’re a corporation. We are in capitalism. We have to compete with Safeway and Wal-Mart and Kroger and Wegmans and Trader Joe’s. What’s odd about it is that that’s what we’ve always been. We’re not a co-op.” To “the people that really dislike us,” he said, “Whole Foods is a big corporation, so they think that we’ve crossed over to the dark side. Kind of the Darth Vader myth, that somehow or another we’ve become bad because we’ve become large.”...

Mackey says that he was not as close to his mother, who died in 1987. “The last thing she asked me, she said, ‘John, promise me you’ll go back to school and get a college degree.’ I said, ‘Mom, I’m not going back to school. I’m doing Whole Foods.’ She said, ‘I wish you’d just give up that stupid health-food store. Your father and I gave you a fine mind, and you’re wasting it being a grocer.’ ” That was their final conversation. “I was so proud of my own honesty and my own candor and my own integrity. But she died thinking that I was a failure and that I didn’t love her, and, I mean, why put your mother through that on her deathbed? I wish I could take that back.”...

Mackey is an example of what you might call the auteur C.E.O. Like Steve Jobs’s, his personality is entwined in his company’s. He doesn’t bother with day-to-day operations; he’s not a technician or a face man. When he’s asked what it is he does, exactly, he describes a kind of philosopher-king, who brings big ideas to bear. Mackey, an outspoken critic of executive overcompensation, pays himself a dollar a year. No one at the company can have a salary more than nineteen times what the average team member makes. (On average, an S. & P. 500 C.E.O. makes three hundred and nineteen times what a production worker does.) Last year, the highest salary went to Walter Robb, the co-president and chief operating officer, who made just over four hundred thousand dollars (supplemented by a bonus and stock options). The average hourly wage was sixteen dollars and fifty cents...

At lunchtime and in the early evening, the store teems. The layout is diffuse, with a series of food stations—pizza, seafood, Indian—occupying the slack space between the packaged goods and the meat, cheese, and fish. (One Austin resident and Central Market partisan told me, “The store is a reflection of Mackey’s personality. It has a fuck-you layout.”)...

“We’re trying to do good. And we’re trying to make money. The more money we make, the more good we can do.” By this, he had in mind not the traditional philanthropic argument that more money earned equals more to give away but, rather, that a good company—that is, his company—which sells good things and treats its employees, shareholders, customers, and suppliers well, can spread goodness simply by thriving...

Mackey has on several occasions acted on criticisms. At a shareholder meeting in 2003, animal-rights activists staged a protest over duck, which led him to examine the meat business more closely. This inspired his vegan conversion, and persuaded him to overhaul the meat-procurement process. Some criticize Whole Foods for selling meat at all. A few years ago, Mackey told Grist, a Seattle environmental magazine, “Sure, I wish Whole Foods didn’t sell animal products, but the fact of the matter is that the population of vegetarians in America is like 5 percent, and vegans are like 25 or 30 percent of the vegetarians. So if we were to become a vegan store, we’d go out of business, we’d cease to exist. And that wouldn’t be good for the animals, for our customers, our employees, our stockholders, or anybody else. If I were to take Whole Foods in this direction I would be removed as CEO.”

Read the whole New Yorker article here.

btw. since this article was written, i was informed, by the CEO of The Veggie Grill (an incredible high quality vegan fast food chain, I recently discovered in Southern California), That John Mackey has since resigned as the "chairman" of Whole Foods (but still remains its CEO).

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Infographic comparing health care
spending to life expectancy

From National Geographic, an infographic comparing health care costs per person to life expectancy (line thickness indicates the number of doctor visits per year). No surprise: The USA's line is a bummer.
Look closely at that graphic by clicking on it, it took me an extra minute to find the United States

thanks, to Xeni over at BoingBoing

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Top 10 Eco-Documentaries Of The [last] Decade

I'm snatching this list from Ecorazzi, but i happen to agree with the first two picks and have seen at least half of all of them. It'd do you and our planet well if you decided to watch at least as many. (certainly a better investment of time and $, than that corny AVATAR movie i saw earlier this evening.)
Who Killed The Electric Car? (2006)

The 11th Hour (2007)

An Inconvenient Truth (2006)

Earth (2007/2009)

The Cove (2009)

Earthlings (2005)

Fuel (2008)

The Real Dirt on Farmer John (2005)

The End of Suburbia (2004)

FOOD, INC. (2009)

Monday, January 11, 2010

PeTA's 2009 reel

I think PeTA does a whole lot of good, they make mistakes, sometimes big ones. OK so we'll look past that for a moment, Because they are fierce for their cause and they usually get done whatever it is they are trying to do. And at the very least they will get attention for their causes. A wise man once said "Any ink is good ink", and while this may not always be true, it has certainly worked to their benefit.

A few years ago I had the chance pleasure to meet Ingrid Newkirk (the leader of PeTA) via my old friend Russell. Being Vegan myself for over 20 years i had a leg up on many of her associates, so i certainly was not intimidated by her and the entourage, particularly when i took them to task on one of their campaigns i had a problem with, much to my surprise they graciously accepted and even agreed with my critique saying "we never heard it put that way before"... So with that I can say, with a personal experience they do seem to be human, (although it seems many, if not most, of them are ashamed to be). That said, just like Whole Foods, I do appreciate them being here, and they have certainly done a lot of good.

So here's their 2009 "reel" that shows you a lot of what they did or attention they got in the media by being the relentless people they are.

Disclosure notice: I was interviewed by their PeTA 2 website a few years ago.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

What's Ahead for the Economy and Politics in 2010

Once again I present the calm, what i see as centrist voice from a former DC insider, who seems to make a lot of sense quite often...
from Robert Reich's blog
Just about everything you'll hear coming out of Washington starting now is really about November's mid-term election. The gravitational pull of the midterms was already apparent last year, as Republicans marched in perfect lockstep to vote against whatever the President and Dems proposed (Republicans always have authoritarian discipline on their side, which is why they're Republicans) but you haven't seen anything yet.

The Dems have enough votes to enact health care -- the hurdle Bill Clinton failed to jump, contributing to the Republican takeover in 1994 -- but when it's enacted, expect the spin machines on both sides to be at full throttle. And because health care legislation won't be implemented for another three or four years (depending whether the House or Senate versions prevail), Americans won't be able to test the veracity of these wildly divergent claims. So don't count on health reform to help Dems next November -- nor harm them, either.

Foreign policy is just as unlikely to tip the scales. Sad to say, absent a draft most American families will read about American deaths in Afghanistan much the way they've absorb the U.S. body count in Iraq -- as news items rather than personal tragedies. Nor will Iran's nuclear capabilities, North Korea's missile launches, Pakistan's tumult, or Yemen's terrorists have much electoral effect -- unless terrorists commit an atrocity in America or on American travelers. Needless to say, China's decision about whether and how much to revalue its currency, although important, will affect the votes of about three Americans (and I think I know all of them).

Issue Number One -- the overriding concern that will determine more than anything how many seats the Dems lose next fall -- is jobs. If unemployment is 10 percent or more next November, the Dems are in danger of losing the House and will almost certainly be short of the 60 votes they need in the Senate.

But why would employment be 10 percent or above next November? Surely, you say, there are enough signs of recovery that we can count on a lower rate. Don't be so sure. Here are likely scenarios, with my probabilities:

Double-dip recession (10 percent likelihood). The commercial real estate market craters, carrying with it hundreds of regional banks and exposing how much junk is still on the books of major Wall Street banks. This triggers a long-awaited "correction" in the Dow and pushes the nation into another recession. Job losses rise. By November, the unemployment rate is back over 10 percent.

Stalled recovery (20 percent). Fearing inflation and overly confident of the strength of the recovery, the Fed stops buying up debt instruments and starts raising rates. These acts choke off the recovery. Unemployment remains at 10 percent.

Jobless recovery (40 percent). The stimulus remains in full force, the Fed keeps interest rates low, firms replace inventories and expand production. But with the average workweek hovering around 33 hours, employers don't add new jobs; they just have current workers put in more hours. Result: No drop in unemployment.

Solid recovery (20 percent). Demand surges, employers decide to expand capacity. But they don't add American jobs. Now that foreign workers have access to much of the same equipment and can be linked up to the U.S. so cheaply through the Internet, employers outsource abroad. Result: No drop in unemployment.

Strong recovery (10 percent). The recovery is strong enough for employers to start hiring American workers. Many jobless Americans who have been too discouraged to look for work to begin looking again. But because the BLS household survey (on which the official level of unemployment is based) depends on how many Americans are looking for work, the paradoxical result is for unemployment to remain in double digits.

In other words, I think the chances of unemployment being 10 percent next November are overwhelmingly high. But although voters are acutely sensitive to the rate of unemployment, they're also influenced by the direction employment is heading. If it looks like jobs are coming back, they may forgive a high absolute level of unemployment -- even one as high as 10 percent. But if it looks like jobs aren't coming back, that we may be stuck with a high level of joblessness for years, voters will take out even more of their anxieties on Democrats next November.

The irony, of course, is that Republicans want to cut spending and reduce the deficit. If they had their way, we'd have double-digit unemployment as far as the eye can see.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

50 Things we know now that we didn't know this time last year

Not sure i 'm going along with all of these as the final word, but still interesting to see nonetheless... Some pretty cool stuff.

from ATT&T
Published: 12/28/09, 12:10 PM EDT
By Jeff Houck

If there was an award for best quote of the year, our money would be on Richard Fisher, the director of NASA's Heliophysics Division.

Fisher was interviewed in October by National Public Radio after NASA scientists discovered a mysterious ribbon of hydrogen around our solar system.

The layer, a sort of protective barrier called the heliosphere, shields us from harmful cosmic radiation. Its existence defies all expectations about what the edge of the solar system might look like.

Fisher's response: "We thought we knew everything about everything, and it turned out that there were unknown unknowns."

In other words: We don't know what we don't know until we know that we don't know it.

Life is funny that way. You think you've got the world wrapped up in string, only to watch some bit of news come along to unravel your comprehension of how things work.

One thing we did expect: that 2009 would be full of strange and wonderful revelations.

A prediction for 2010? Same thing as this year, only different.

Here's a list of stuff we culled from 2009 that may have come as a surprise:

1. Domestic pigs can quickly learn how mirrors work and use them to find food.

2. Grumpy people think more clearly because negative moods trigger more attentive, careful thinking.

3. High cholesterol levels in midlife are associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia later in life.

4. Analysis of Greenland ice samples shows Europe froze solid in less than 12 months 12,800 years ago, partly due to a slowdown of the Gulf Stream. Once triggered, the cold persisted for 1,300 years.

5. One mutated gene is the reason humans have language, and chimpanzees, our closest relative, do not.

6. Obesity in teenage girls may increase their risk of later developing multiple sclerosis.

7. A fossil skeleton of an Aardonyx celestae dinosaur discovered in South Africa appears to be the missing link between the earliest dinosaurs that walked on two legs and the large plant-eating sauropods that walked on all four.

8. Women who have undergone successful breast cancer treatment are more likely to experience a recurrence if they have dense breast tissue.

9. Babies pick up their parents' accents from the womb, and infants are born crying in their native dialect. Researchers found that French newborns cry in a rising French accent, and German babies cry with a characteristic falling inflection.

10. Surfing the Internet may help delay dementia because it creates stimulation that exercises portions of the brain.

11. The oldest known silken spider webs, dating back 140 million years, were discovered in Sussex, England, preserved in amber. The webs were spun by spiders closely related to modern-day orb-web garden spiders.

12. Scientists have discovered how to scan brain activity and convert what people are seeing or remembering into crude video images.

13. Pumpkin skin contains a substance that inhibits growth of microbes that cause yeast infections.

14. Hormones that signal whether whales are pregnant, lactating or in the mood to mate have been extracted from whales' lung mucus, captured by dangling nylon stockings from a pole over their blowholes as they surface to breathe. (This method could allow scientists to study whales without having to slaughter them.)

15. The higher a patient's body-mass index, the less respect he or she gets from doctors.

16. The blue morpho butterfly, which lives in Central and South America, has tiny ears on its wings and can distinguish between high- and low-pitch sounds. The butterfly may use its ears to listen for nearby predatory birds.

17. The ochre starfish or sea star pumps itself up with cold seawater to lower its body temperature when exposed to the sun at low tide. It is equivalent to a human drinking 1.8 gallons of water before heading into the midday sun, scientists say.

18. The eyes of the mantis shrimp possess a feature that could make DVDs and CDs perform better. By emulating this structure, which displays color wavelengths at all ranges, developers could create a new category of optical devices.

19. The calmest place on Earth is on top of an icy plateau in Antarctica known as Ridge A, several hundred miles from the South Pole. It is so still that stars do not twinkle in the sky because there is no turbulence in the atmosphere to distort the light.

20. The thrill of driving a sports car makes the body produce more testosterone. The findings suggest a biological explanation for why some men buy a sports car when struck by a "midlife crisis."

21. Remains discovered in China of a flying reptile named Darwinopterus could be a missing link between short-tailed pterodactyls and their huge, long-tailed descendants.

22. Bagheera kiplingi, a jumping arachnid from Central America, is the first known vegetarian spider. It eats nectar-filled leaf tips rather than other animals.

23. A massive, nearly invisible ring of ice and dust particles surrounds Saturn. The ring's entire volume can hold 1 billion Earths.

24. A new chemical compound that mimics the body's ability t o fight bacteria could be added to cleaning detergents to prevent bacterial infections in hospitals.

25. Seven new glow-in-the-dark mushroom species have been discovered, increasing the number of known luminescent fungi species from 64 to 71. The fungi, discovered in Belize, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Japan, Malaysia and Puerto Rico, glow constantly, emitting a bright, yellowish-green light.

26. Hormones in oral contraceptives might suppress a woman's interest in masculine men and make boyish males more attractive to her.

27. Women who revealed about 40 percent of their skin attracted twice as many men as those who covered up. Any more than 40 percent and the signal changes from allure to one indicating general availability and future infidelity.

28. Communities of 850 species of previously undiscovered insects, small crustaceans, spiders, worms and other creatures were found living in underground water, caves and micro-caverns across Australia.

29. The human body emits a glow that is 1,000 times less than what our eyes can detect.

30. If you're trying to attract a partner, an athletic body helps, but a good-looking face is more important.

31. Cockroaches hold their breath for five to seven minutes at a time through a respiratory system that delivers oxygen directly to cells from air-filled tubes. One reason they hold their breath may be to prevent their bodies from getting too much oxygen, which could be toxic to them.

32. Earth was bombarded in 2008 with high levels of solar energy at a time when the sun was in an unusually quiet phase and sunspots had virtually disappeared.

33. Scientists have discovered female eggs in the genitalia of a third of all American male smallmouth bass and a fifth of their largemouth cousins. Female bass occasionally show signs of male testes in their reproductive organs.

34. Nearly all animals emit the same stench when they die, and have done so for more than 400 million years.

35. Previously unknown molecules called hydroxyl radicals are produced by nature and are believed to act as cleaning agents that scrub away toxic air pollution in Earth's atmosphere.

36. A new species of giant rat was discovered in a remote rainforest in Papua New Guinea. At 32.2 inches from nose to tail and 3.3 pounds, it's thought to be one of the largest rats ever found.

37. Differences in body odors produced by people who are more prone to insect bites show they have lower levels of fruity-smelling compounds in their sweat than those who are resistant to mosquitoes.

38. A chemical component in broccoli can protect the lining of arteries from blockage that leads to angina, heart attack and stroke.

39. The length, curl and texture of a dog's fur are controlled by only three genes.

40. The speed of U.S Internet broadband lags far behind other industrial nations, including Japan, Finland, South Korea, France and Canada.

41. Polar bear skulls have shrunk 2 percent to 9 percent since the early 20th century. It's the result, scientists theorize, of stress from pollution and melting habitat.

42. A mysterious disease that killed off more than a third of American honeybees in 2007-08 may have been caused in part by a virus.

43. A group of deep sea worms dubbed "green bombers" are capable of casting off appendages that glow a brilliant green once detached from their bodies. The tactic is believed to be used by the worms to confuse attackers.

44. A flesh-eating pitcher plant that grows more than 4 feet long can swallow and devour rats that are lured into its slipperlike mouth to drown or die of exhaustion before being slowly dissolved by digestive enzymes.

45. An orchid on the Chinese island of Hainan gets hornets to spread its pollen by producing an aroma identical to that made by bees under attack. The hornets feed on bee larvae, so when they get a whiff of the alarm pheromone, they head to the orchids figuring bees are inside.

46. More than 350 new animal species were discovered in the eastern Himalayas, including the world's smallest deer and a flying frog.

47. The spleen is a reservoir for huge numbers of immune cells called monocyte. In the event of a serious health crisis, such as a heart attack, wound or infection, the spleen will disgorge them bloodstream to help defend the body.

48. The Amazon River is about 11 million years old and took its present shape about 2.4 million years ago.

49. A close relationship with a caregiver can give Alzheimer's patients an edge in retaining brain function over time.

50. Watermelon is more efficient at rehydrating our bodies than drinking water. It contains 92 percent water and essential rehydration salts.

Sources: Sydney Morning Herald;; Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery and Psychiatry; New Scientist; Neurology; BBC News; Women's College Research Institute; Current Biology; Saint Joseph Health Scene; Live Science; University of California, Berkeley;; Journal of General Internal Medicine; Live Science, American Naturalist; Nature Photonics; London Times; Organisational Behaviour and Human Decision Processes; Science News; Current Biology; NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory; Acta Biomaterialia; San Francisco State University; Trends in Ecology and Evolution; Behaviour; Eurekalert; Tohoku Institute of Technology and Kyoto University; Evolution and Human Behavior; Journal of Experimental Biology; Geophysical Research รข?? Space Physics; U.S. Geological Survey; Evolutionary Biology; National Geographic News; Oxford University Museum of Natural History; Rothamsted Research; Imperial College London; National Human Genome Research Institute; Communications Workers of America; Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences; Science; Redfern Natural History Productions; Current Biology; World Wildlife Fund; Geology; Journals of Gerontology; University of Aberdeen Medical School

Reporter Jeff Houck can be reached at (813) 259-7324.

To see more of the Tampa Tribune or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to Copyright (c) 2009, Tampa Tribune, Fla. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

Friday, January 8, 2010

"T" is for Tiger (For now at least)

February 2010 is when the Chinese Year of the Tiger starts, but alarming news about the world’s tiger population might mean that by 2022, the next time the Year of the Tiger rolls around, there might not be any left. ...

Due to deforestation and poaching, the tiger population has fallen more than 40% in the past decade, which translates to just 3,200 of them left in the wild, worldwide, mostly found in India. That’s not a typo; there are but 3,200 wild tigers left, period. Can you imagine a world with no tigers in it? Unless drastic measures are taken, it will most likely take place during your lifespan. There are six subspecies of tiger: Bengal, Amur, Indo-Chinese, Sumatran, Malayan and South China, the latter of which is already functionally extinct, as there have been no sightings of it in the wild for more than 25 years now.

Much of the problem lies in the poachers of Nepal and the nearly insatiable desire for tiger parts in China, where things like “tiger glands” are supposed to have rejuvenating health qualities, although this is considered bunk by medical science. The World Wildlife Fund, the World Bank and other organizations are putting pressure on the Chinese to crack down on tiger poaching and to end the cruel “tiger farms,” where the big cats are bred, then slaughtered for their skins and parts. The farmers claim the farms are helping increase the tiger population when, in fact, they are serving only to enlarge the market for illegal tiger poaching by increasing demand.

What’s surprising is that the largest population of tigers in captivity is found in the United States, not Asia, where their population exceeds 5,000, with just 6% of them living in accredited zoos; the rest are in private hands with almost no government oversight.

Cross posting this from Brand X via Dangerous Minds
I was born in the year of the tiger.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Sea Shepherd futuristic anti-whaling cruiser run-over and DESTROYED.

I originally posted about the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's Badass new high-tech anti-whaling powerboat back in November when it was unveiled - this is sad news indeed.

here's some video from yesterday's events:

I received this note from the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society a few hours ago:

Our vessels and crews and have been ATTACKED! Lives have been threatened. A vessel has been destroyed. This day will go down in infamy.

We will not give up. We will not retreat. We will not surrender to those who want to do harm. We need your support today now more than ever.

Earlier today, our vessel the Ady Gil was severely damaged and almost sunk in a vicious and unprovoked attacked by a Japanese whaling harpoon vessel many times its size. The crew barely escaped with their lives and were rescued by our newest vessel the Bob Barker.

There is a battle between "David and Goliath." The illegal Japanese whalers are trying to physically harm and financially destroy your nonprofit whale defenders -- the Sea Shepherds. Show the whalers and the government of Japan that they cannot get away with this.

As I write, my valiant crews remain at sea, vigilant in their pursuit to stop the whalers. Our defense of the whales needs to continue in the Southern Oceans. We are their only hope.

Sea Shepherd is the only organization in the world directly intervening to save these magnificent and innocent beings but we cannot do it without you.

Please stand with us and click here to make a donation today or call 877-WHALES-911 (877-942-5379)* as we continue our fight in the coming days, weeks, months, year- whatever it takes.

From the bridge of the Steve Irwin, I thank you,

Captain Paul Watson

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Come Back With a Warrant doormat

...apropos of bloggers being bullied into parting with their hard drives: check out this nifty doormat, available at Target for 18 bucks and some change.

from Xeni at BoingBoing

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Real Birds Eye View

Several years ago the movie Winged Migration came out, it was simply one of the most incredible films i'd ever seen. Totally inspiring and beautiful. I highly recommend it to EVERYONE.

This post over at the Presurfer blog reminded me of it.
Steve Leonard explains the secret behind the spectacular footage of birds of prey in flight used in this short video. Take a flight with a Golden Eagle in Scotland with the help of the ultra lightweight animal camera. Tiny spy cameras allow you to see some of the world's most magnificent birds in flight.

Watch this video to learn how the fastest bird on the planet, the peregrine falcon, keeps control at mind-numbing speeds, and take a flight with the master of maneuverability, the Gos Hawk, as it flies through dense woodland.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Scientists say dolphins should be treated as 'non-human persons'

Dolphins have been declared the world’s second most intelligent creatures after humans, with scientists suggesting they are so bright that they should be treated as “non-human persons”.

Studies into dolphin behaviour have highlighted how similar their communications are to those of humans and that they are brighter than chimpanzees. These have been backed up by anatomical research showing that dolphin brains have many key features associated with high intelligence.

The researchers argue that their work shows it is morally unacceptable to keep such intelligent animals in amusement parks or to kill them for food or by accident when fishing. Some 300,000 whales, dolphins and porpoises die in this way each year.

“Many dolphin brains are larger than our own and second in mass only to the human brain when corrected for body size,” said Lori Marino, a zoologist at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, who has used magnetic resonance imaging scans to map the brains of dolphin species and compare them with those of primates.

“The neuroanatomy suggests psychological continuity between humans and dolphins and has profound implications for the ethics of human-dolphin interactions,” she added.

Dolphins have long been recognised as among the most intelligent of animals but many researchers had placed them below chimps, which some studies have found can reach the intelligence levels of three-year-old children. Recently, however, a series of behavioural studies has suggested that dolphins, especially species such as the bottlenose, could be the brighter of the two. The studies show how dolphins have distinct personalities, a strong sense of self and can think about the future.

It has also become clear that they are “cultural” animals, meaning that new types of behaviour can quickly be picked up by one dolphin from another.

In one study, Diana Reiss, professor of psychology at Hunter College, City University of New York, showed that bottlenose dolphins could recognise themselves in a mirror and use it to inspect various parts of their bodies, an ability that had been thought limited to humans and great apes.

In another, she found that captive animals also had the ability to learn a rudimentary symbol-based language.

Other research has shown dolphins can solve difficult problems, while those living in the wild co-operate in ways that imply complex social structures and a high level of emotional sophistication.

In one recent case, a dolphin rescued from the wild was taught to tail-walk while recuperating for three weeks in a dolphinarium in Australia.

After she was released, scientists were astonished to see the trick spreading among wild dolphins who had learnt it from the former captive.

There are many similar examples, such as the way dolphins living off Western Australia learnt to hold sponges over their snouts to protect themselves when searching for spiny fish on the ocean floor.

Such observations, along with others showing, for example, how dolphins could co-operate with military precision to round up shoals of fish to eat, have prompted questions about the brain structures that must underlie them.

Size is only one factor. Researchers have found that brain size varies hugely from around 7oz for smaller cetacean species such as the Ganges River dolphin to more than 19lb for sperm whales, whose brains are the largest on the planet. Human brains, by contrast, range from 2lb-4lb, while a chimp’s brain is about 12oz.

When it comes to intelligence, however, brain size is less important than its size relative to the body.

What Marino and her colleagues found was that the cerebral cortex and neocortex of bottlenose dolphins were so large that “the anatomical ratios that assess cognitive capacity place it second only to the human brain”. They also found that the brain cortex of dolphins such as the bottlenose had the same convoluted folds that are strongly linked with human intelligence.

Such folds increase the volume of the cortex and the ability of brain cells to interconnect with each other. “Despite evolving along a different neuroanatomical trajectory to humans, cetacean brains have several features that are correlated with complex intelligence,” Marino said.

Marino and Reiss will present their findings at a conference in San Diego, California, next month, concluding that the new evidence about dolphin intelligence makes it morally repugnant to mistreat them.

Thomas White, professor of ethics at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, who has written a series of academic studies suggesting dolphins should have rights, will speak at the same conference.

“The scientific research . . . suggests that dolphins are ‘non-human persons’ who qualify for moral standing as individuals,” he said.

Additional reporting: Helen Brooks
from TimesOnline via Presurfer

Sunday, January 3, 2010

things to try in 2010:
Body washing with water alone

from BoingBoing

Richard Nikoley of Free the Animal (a blog about paleolithic diet and exercise) writes that he has been showering without soap or shampoo for the past six months. Here are some of his observations:
Took about two weeks to normalize. That is, I felt my hair was greasy and skin oily up to then.
My skin & hair have never been softer. Never.

If anything, my hair is less "greasy" than ever, yet shampoo hasn't touched it in over six months.

Private parts. Have to address this, of course. This is the biggest benefit of all. Surprised? You'll just have to try it, because I'm not going to elaborate. That's why they call them "private parts." OK, a clue: maybe it's the constant cleansing that's the cause of the sweaty-stinky problem in the first place? If for nothing else, I'm soap free for life on this point alone. I feel as though I've been scammed -- and liberated. I can't explain further. You'll just have to try.

The commenters on his blog share similar soap-free experiences.
Paleo I Don’t Care: I Like No Soap; No Shampoo.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Shepard Fairey, my friend, opens wide at the end of a big year.

from Obey Giant
The escalation in Afghanistan, the weak health care reform, detainee abuse not being shared with the public… on a number of issues I’m very disappointed in Obama. I hate being in a position where I’ll either be characterized as having “turned” on Obama for speaking out, or for being a “brainwashed cheerleader” if I give him more time to get it together. The last thing I want is to do is de facto strengthen the Republican’s position by attacking Obama, but I think he needs to be pushed. I don’t think Obama is a bad human being, I just think he is not being brave enough. In some regards I think Obama is just the messenger, letting us know he’s caved in to corporate and political forces we have all done too little to keep in check. I must qualify that by saying SOME people like Robert Greenwald and his Brave New Films team and have certainly done their part to make righteous efforts. I’m disillusioned with the whole two party system. I’m baffled by some of Obama’s moves and many of the Democratic party’s moves. I’m confident that only campaign finance reform and vigorous participation from citizens, not corporations will change things for the better. Let’s all turn our dissatisfaction into positive action… talk- [minus] action=0.

Happy day of good will and peace on earth from a proud agnostic humanitarian. If a god made all this, he or she was quite mischievous if not mean-spirited.


got this version of the graphic from CODE PINK Women for Peace

Friday, January 1, 2010

Sly and The Family Stone have always been one of my favorites.

from the Sly Stone web site:
Sly and the Family Stone are credited as one of the first racially integrated bands in music history, belting their message of peace, love and social consciousness through a string of hit anthems that fused R&B, soul, funk and rock n roll. On 'Different Strokes by Different Folks' a stylistically, culturally and racially disparate group of chart-toppers mirrors that idealistic diversity. Understand this: There was no precedent for Sly & the Family Stone.

Back in 1967, when the interracial, mixed-gender combo burst onto the scene with their debut album, the burgeoning rock & roll subculture was, as always, hungry for fresh kicks and different sounds. But no one was quite prepared for the magical, multi-faceted musical mix Sly and company served up. Their music was an inspired blend of rock, soul, pop, jazz, and an emerging genre soon to be dubbed funk. It packed a powerful, joyous wallop, delivering all the things one hoped to find in music: The thrill of the new, the excitement of the unexpected, a galvanizing groove, and lyrics that actually said something.
In fact the first concert i ever went to feaured Sly and The Family Stone and The Jackson Five, I was probably around 11 years old, it was some kind of benefit for Africa that these cool friends of my moms' took me to, at the Forum in Los Angeles, it was incredible of course. One of my first blogs here was also about Sly And The Family Stone. But let me get to the topic of this blog post, I just read this stuff from our friend Travis over at Buddyhead.
Sly Stone, troubled funk genius and head-honcho of the legendary Family Stone, has signed a new record deal with L.A.-based Cleopatra Records. Which in true Sly-fashion is a weird choice. Sly & The Family Stone are now label-mates with such random acts as Christian Death, Dokken and Winger!

The good news is Sly has finished a new album that’ll be his first new material since 1983’s “Ain’t But The One Way” when it hits stores this summer of 2010! We can’t wait to hear what it sounds like!

Also coming out in 2010 are two new Sly documentaries! Check out the trailers.

“Higher: The Story Of Sly Stone”:

“Coming Back For More: Finding Sly Stone”