Friday, November 30, 2012

on the road now

I just got back from the show, totally fun Hip-Hop family affair brought together by none other than Chuck D., great classic hip hop performed by the pros, if you love hip hop it's a no-brainer, if you like the classic stuff and haven't seen a show in a long time, you'll have a good time. Many artists and many guests, a non-stop cavalcade of RAP. "Son of Bezerk & No Self Control" brought me back to the early days in a flash with their style and classic flow. "Poor Righteous Teachers" were cool. "Brother J" from The X-Clan and Schooly D. were awesome highlights, two artists i never met before (until tonight!) and have appreciated there records for years. Public Enemy close the night with a really strong set including a live band. Rarely will i recommend a live hip hop show, but this is the great exception, out on the road for two weeks now. check it out., the premier destination for classic rap fans, will launch the inaugural HipHopGods Classic Tourfest Revue with a series of concerts featuring Public Enemy and a revolving lineup of allstars from the Golden Age of hip hop including X Clan, Schoolly D, Leaders of the New School, Monie Love, Son of Bazerk, Wise Intelligent (of Poor Righteous Teachers), Awesome Dre and Davy DMX.

The tour begins on November 28th in Washington, DC at the 930 Club and will make its way across the country to Los Angeles several weeks later.

The collection of artists will take the stage each night to deliver a rare combination of thought-provoking entertainment and history lesson in the musical phenomenon they helped build. Each act not only played a vital role in the development of hip hop culture but continues to be an important and influential force in music.

Official dates and venues are as follows:

Wednesday, November 28, 2012 / Washington DC / 930 CLUB
Thursday November 29 2012/ New York / IRVING PLAZA
Friday, November 30, 2012/ Public Enemy in PHILADELPHIA
Saturday, December 01, 2012 / Burlington Vermont / HIGHER GROUND
Sunday, December 02, 2012 / Boston / ROYALE THEATER
Tuesday, December 04, 2012 / Indianapolis / VOGUE THEATRE
Wednesday, December 05, 2012 / Chicago / HOUSE OF BLUES
Thursday, December 06, 2012 / Minneapolis / FIRST AVENUE
Friday, December 07, 2012 / Lincoln, Nebraska / BOURBON THEATER
Saturday, December 08, 2012 / Denver / OGDEN THEATER
Sunday, December 09, 2012 /JacksonHoleWyoming/PINK GARTER THEATER
Monday, December 10, 2012 / Aspen, CO / BELLY UP
Wednesday, December 12, 2012 / San Diego / 4TH AND B
Thursday, December 13, 2012 / Los Angeles / NOKIA THEATRE is the first fully-comprehensive community for old-school hip hop fans, bringing together the most important and enduring rappers into one site where classic rap lives on.

Developed by BTNEastlink in association with Chuck D, aims to "encompass and empower the hip hop nation," Chuck D explains, and "to have the hip hop community get and keep a hold on itself and connect the legacy." The site has been likened to "classic rock radio" by DMC of Run-DMC. KRS-One noted that "When I log on to, I feel like I am entering the Hip Hop nation."

Keep an eye on for exclusive content coming your way from our team on The Hip Hop Gods Classic Tourfest Revue!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Jimi Hendrix would have been 70 years old this week!

Jimi's birthday was actually yesterday, so to celebrate the occasion check out this show from February 24th, 1969 at The Royal Albert Hall.

thanks, DangerousMinds

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Interview with Ian MacKaye,
from Mother Jones magazine

Dischord Records is a lot quieter than during its heyday, but the do-it-yourself attitude endures.
—By Dana Liebelson

I'm drinking green tea with Ian MacKaye in the modest Arlington, Virginia, house where it all began—where Dischord, MacKaye's legendary do-it-yourself record label, took root more than 30 years ago. Back then, MacKaye was a pissed-off teenager whose straight-edge punk band, the Teen Idles, operated amid the musical wasteland of the nation's capital, a city too obsessed with dark money and happy hour to care about DIY ethics and $5 punk shows. But MacKaye cared, and he still does, even if Dischord's flagship acts have long since disbanded. This "is exactly how we started," he tells me. "For the first few years it was just all of us out of this house. We wanted to make records. Literally, make records. We would fold and cut and glue all the sleeves because that's what we needed to do to get it done."

MacKaye cofounded Dischord in 1980 with bandmate Jeff Nelson to put out the Teen Idles' album Minor Disturbance. And though the Idles split up the same year, MacKaye and Nelson went on to form Minor Threat, whose furious blasts of punk-rock energy influenced a generation of teenage rockers. With proceeds from its founders' records, Dischord started releasing albums by other local punk acts, including State of Alert (SOA), Faith, Government Issue, and Youth Brigade. By the mid-1980s, most of the early Dischord bands were kaput and the label was struggling financially, but it roared back in the late-'80s as MacKaye's new band, Fugazi, exploded onto the scene.

A visceral, passionate, politically astute post-punk band that spurned music industry conventions, capping ticket prices at around $5 and insisting on playing for all-ages crowds, Fugazi won over hordes of loyal fans and helped kick off a nationwide movement of DIY bands and record labels. Fugazi and Dischord were living proof that starting your own band, making your own records, and booking your own shows worked. "It was the label that was very exciting at the time," says Ian Svenonius, whose former bands the Nation of Ulysses and the Make-Up released several albums on Dischord in the '80s and '90s. "It had a staunchly anti-commercial outlook and it was explicitly independent and local."

Not only did being on Dischord make people take notice of his bands, Svenonius says, but the label "gave us a philosophical and ethical framework which we could align ourselves with—or refute—it was an enviable situation."

In a unpublished interview with Mother Jones senior editor Michael Mechanic, MacKaye recalled a late-1980s visit to Dischord HQ by Dead Kennedys' frontman Jello Biafra, who noticed MacKaye's massive collection of hundreds of tapes of DC bands: "He saw that shelf, and he said, 'What sets Washington apart from the rest of the country is that you guys documented everything.'"

Biafra went on to explain that a lot of the bands in the late '70s San Francisco punk scene were looking to get signed, so rather than put out a whole album they would make a two-song demo to shop to labels. Most wouldn't get signed and they'd eventually break up, so it was as though they'd never existed. "But in Washington, from the very beginning, there was a really strong ethic of documentation, where we would just record our bands—all the songs the band knew. And that creates a legacy of something here in DC," MacKaye said. "There was literally nothing here before that time. There was no notable rock or punk scene."

Dischord "was a resource which sought to document a scene's creativity rather than exploit it or launch it towards mainstream commerical acceptance or success," says J. Robbins, who has known MacKaye since the late 1980s and has released records on Dischord as a member of Jawbox and three other bands. The label, he adds, "was one of the initial inspirations that got me into punk rock in the first place."

Dischord hasn't changed much in 30 years—its contracts are still informal, sealed with a handshake—but it no longer has a stable of artists that can draw thousands of people to a show or headline major music festivals. With only a handful of active bands remaining on the label, it might be tempting to question whether it still plays an important role, but the musicians say that's missing the point. "I think an awareness of Dischord's DIY, grass-roots origin provides some encouragement for people to move forward on their own terms," says Robbins. "So energetically it's still contributing a lot even if the release schedule is not as full."

Svenonius points out that Dischord is still a key distributor for local bands and labels. And Melissa Quinley, who worked at Dischord from 1997 to 2005, and whose band, Soccer Team, is on the label, says that "it seems silly to pontificate" on the question of Dischord's continuing relevance. "I've got complete trust in Ian and Jeff," she says. "I never had any lofty Soccer Team goals. I was fine with all the regular promo systems that Dischord had in place."

MacKaye, of course, isn't one to worry about what other people think of his label. He just wants to keep putting out mindful music that jibes with one of his personal philosophies, namely "caring…but not giving a fuck."

Last year, hewing to its role as a documentarian, Dischord began releasing its extensive archive of live Fugazi shows in a pay-what-you-want format. MacKaye wanted to get the material out there, but without compromising the value of the art by giving it away: "There's a very good chance we'll never break even on it, but I don't care. It seemed crazy to have boxes and boxes of recordings that no one would ever hear," MacKaye says. He talks more about the archive in this video clip:
As it happens, Dischord had two new releases this month. The first is E.D. Sedgwick's We Wear White, which I un-review here. Sedgwick makes melancholic dance-punk with an acidic aftertaste. Cofounder Justin Moyer used to perform in drag as the eponymous Andy Warhol starlet, but told me he got "tired of wearing a dress all the time."

Moyer first got involved with Dischord in the early naughties when his former band, El Guapo, figured out how to burn a CD and sent its demo to MacKaye. Moyer has now worked with Dischord on several albums, and says MacKaye's personal involvement has ranged from "a lot, to just a thumbs up."

Dischord's other new record is from MacKaye's latest band, the Evens. Formed in 2001 with Amy Farina, now the mother of MacKaye's four-year-old son, the Evens are a kid-friendly indie-rock mashup—albeit with some serious post-hardcore weight behind it. (Farina used to play drums for another Dischord band, the Warmers.) "Part of the Fugazi process was that we really struggled. Everyone had ideas, everyone was an artist, we didn't always agree. I found working with Amy almost effortless, and that was a real shock," MacKaye says.

The Evens allow MacKaye to sidestep what he calls the painful paradox of Fugazi—as the band got bigger, it could no longer play in "strange, rebel spaces" and instead was sometimes limited to playing 21-and-over venues where the "alcohol trumped the music." (MacKaye doesn't drink or use other drugs.)

By contrast, the Evens tend to fly under the radar. They play unusual venues like art galleries and DC's St. Stephen and the Incarnation Episcopal Church—places where there are no barriers to entry and the band doesn't have to max out its volume to be heard. In one song, Farina and MacKaye croon, "The capitol it is your proving ground, your centering. You and yours can keep your scores. But Washington is our city."

It's fitting that MacKaye, at age 50, now finds himself settled in his hometown and playing at St. Stephen's. After all, the church, which his family attended (he no longer does), helped nudge him towards punk rock in the first place. He was only six years old when race riots erupted in DC following the 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. On that Palm Sunday, the liberal St. Stephen's decided to hold its service outside, on 16th Street, in the middle of a riot. "I saw the city basically under martial law. The buildings were still smoldering; there were police and soldiers and firemen everywhere," MacKaye recalls.

The other thing that shaped his destiny, MacKays says, was going through the DC public school system, where he learned that "if you ask for permission, the answer is always no. So I developed a practice of just doing things."

And that's why it's hard to predict what Dischord will do next: MacKaye doesn't really think about the future: "My sense is if you're driving on a curvy road, and you're staring at point far off in the distance, you're going to be more likely to run off the road."

After we talk, MacKaye gives me a tour of the house, showing off rows and rows of meticulously filed records and show archives. He asks politely that my photographs not reveal the house's location since, to those who might be looking, its contents are impossible to put a price on.

Or $5.
Click here for more music coverage from Mother Jones.

Thanks to Xeni at BoingBoing

Monday, November 26, 2012


In the immediate aftermath of the 3/11 earthquake, tsunami and resulting nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors in Japan, three friends were talking over the internet and trying to find information.
There was none.

Faced with a global shortage of geiger counters the friends decided to take matters into their own hands and reached out to their networks.

Within hours “Safecast” was born – a global sensor network for collecting and sharing radiation measurements to empower people with data about their environments.

It has become the largest radiation monitoring project in history and all the data collected has been made freely available with no restrictions on its use.

Safecast | Adrian Storey from Focus Forward Films on Vimeo.

SAFECAST - A global sensor network for collecting and sharing radiation measurements to empower people with data about their environments which has become the largest project of its kind in history.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Power of Sleep: PBS NewsHour on why we can't stop snoozing

from Xeni at BoingBoing

Miles O'Brien has a wonderful piece on NewsHour about the neuroscience of sleep and other forms of brain-rest, including meditation. I was present for some of the taping and research, and I love how the story turned out.

Sleep deprivation can cause serious health and cognitive problems in humans. In short, it can make us fat, sick and stupid. But why do humans need so much sleep? Science correspondent Miles O'Brien talks to scientists on the cutting edge of sleep research and asks if there's any way humans might evolve into getting by with less.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Classic Skateboarding Footage from the Early 70's

This is the way it was at contests, once upon a time, when I was a kid...

(it picks up a bit about halfway through, cool either way)

Friday, November 23, 2012

Recent Lyle Preslar interview
(yeah, Lyle, the guitar player from Minor Threat)

UPDATE: Wow, i posted this before i listened to the whole thing, pretty weird nice dudes talking way too much, and some things pretty inaccurately, but nonetheless interesting insight into the mind of Lyle ...

Thursday, November 22, 2012

An Open Letter to President Obama
By Michael Moore

Dear President Obama:

Good luck on your journeys overseas this week, and congratulations on decisively winning your second term as our president! The first time you won four years ago, most of us couldn't contain our joy and found ourselves literally in tears over your victory.

This time, it was more like breathing a huge sigh of relief. But, like the smooth guy you are, you scored the highest percentage of the vote of any Democrat since Lyndon Johnson, and you racked up the most votes for a Democratic president in the history of the United States (the only one to receive more votes than you was ... you, in '08! ). You are the first Democrat to get more than 50% of the vote twice in a row since Franklin D. Roosevelt.

This was truly another historic election and I would like to take a few minutes of your time to respectfully ask that your second term not resemble your first term.

It's not that you didn't get anything done. You got A LOT done. But there are some very huge issues that have been left unresolved and, dammit, we need you to get some fight in you. Wall Street and the uber-rich have been conducting a bloody class war for over 30 years and it's about time they were stopped.

I know it is not in your nature to be aggressive or confrontational. But, please, Barack – DO NOT listen to the pundits who are telling you to make the "grand compromise" or move to the "center" (FYI – you're already there). Your fellow citizens have spoken and we have rejected the crazed ideology of this Republican Party and we insist that you forcefully proceed in bringing about profound change that will improve the lives of the 99%. We're done hoping. We want real change. And, if we can't get it in the second term of a great and good man like you, then really – what's the use? Why are we even bothering? Yes, we're that discouraged and disenchanted.

At your first post-election press conference last Wednesday you were on fire. The way you went all "Taxi Driver" on McCain and company ("You talkin' to me?") was so brilliant and breathtaking I had to play it back a dozen times just to maintain the contact high. Jesus, that look – for a second I thought laser beams would be shooting out of your eyes! MORE OF THAT!! PLEASE!!

In the weeks after your first election you celebrated by hiring the Goldman Sachs boys and Wall Street darlings to run our economy. Talk about a buzzkill that I never fully recovered from. Please – not this time. This time take a stand for all the rest of us – and if you do, tens of millions of us will not only have your back, we will swoop down on Congress in a force so large they won't know what hit them (that's right, McConnell – you're on the retirement list we've put together for 2014).

BUT – first you have to do the job we elected you to do. You have to take your massive 126-electoral vote margin and just go for it.

Here are my suggestions:

1. DRIVE THE RICH RIGHT OFF THEIR FISCAL CLIFF. The "fiscal cliff" is a ruse, an invention by the Right and the rich, to try and keep their huge tax breaks. On December 31, let ALL the tax cuts expire. Then, on January 1, put forth a bill that restores the tax cuts for 98% of the public. I dare the Republicans to vote against that! They can't and they won't. As for the spending cuts, the 2011 agreement states that, for every domestic program dollar the Republicans want to cut, a Pentagon dollar must also be cut. See, you are a genius! No way will the Right vote against the masters of war. And if by some chance they do, you can immediately put forth legislation to restore all the programs we, the majority, approve of. And for God's sake, man – declare Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid untouchable. They're not bankrupt or anywhere near it. If the rich paid the same percentage of Social Security tax on their entire income – the same exact rate everyone else pays – then there will suddenly be enough money in Social Security to last til at least the year 2080!

2. END ALL THE WARS NOW. Do not continue the war in Afghanistan (a thoroughly losing proposition if ever there was one) for two full more years! Why should one single more person have to die FOR NO REASON? Stop it. You know it's wrong. Bin Laden's dead, al Qaeda is decimated and the Afghans have to work out their own problems. Also, end the drone strikes and other covert military activities you are conducting in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Colombia, and God knows where else. You think history is going to remember the United States as a great democracy? No, they're going to think of us as a nation that became addicted to war. They'll call us warlords. They'll say that in the 21st century America was so in need of oil that we'd kill anyone to get it. You know that's where this is going. This has to stop. Now.

3. END THE DRUG WAR. It is not only an abysmal failure, it has returned us to the days of slavery. We have locked up millions of African-Americans and Latinos and now fund a private prison-industrial complex that makes billions for a few lucky rich people. There are other ways to deal with the drugs that do cause harm – ways built around a sense of decency and compassion. We look like a bunch of sadistic racists. Stop it.

4. DECLARE A MORATORIUM ON HOME FORECLOSURES AND EVICTIONS. Millions of people are facing homelessness because of a crooked system enacted by the major banks and Wall Street firms. Put a pause on this and take 12 months to work out a different way (like, restructuring families' mortgages to reflect the true worth of their homes).

5. GET MONEY OUT OF POLITICS. You already know this one. The public is sick of it. Now's the time to act.

6. EXPAND OBAMACARE. Your health care law doesn't cover everyone. It is a cash cow for the insurance industry. Push for a single-payer system – Medicare for All – and include dentistry and mental health. This is the single biggest thing you could do to reduce the country's deficit.

7. RESTORE GLASS-STEAGALL. You must put back all the rigid controls on Wall Street that Reagan, Clinton and the Bushes removed – or else we face the possibility of another, much worse, crash. If they break the law, prosecute them the way you currently go after whistleblowers and medical marijuana dispensaries.

8. REDUCE STUDENT LOAN DEBT. No 22-year-old should have to enter the real world already in a virtual debtors' prison. This is cruel and no other democracy does this like we do. You were right to eliminate the banks as the profit-gouging lenders, but now you have to bring us back to the days when you and I were of college age and a good education cost us little or next to nothing. A few less wars would go a long to way to being able to afford this.

9. FREE BRADLEY MANNING. End the persecution and prosecution of an American hero. Bush and Cheney lied to a nation to convince us to go to war. Manning allegedly hacked the war criminals' files and then shared them with the American public (and the world) so that we could learn the truth about Iraq and Afghanistan. Our history is full of such people who "break the law" for the greater good of humanity. Army Specialist Bradley Manning deserves a medal, not prison.

10. ASK US TO DO SOMETHING. One thing is clear: none of the above is going to happen if you don't immediately mobilize the 63,500,000 who voted for you (and the other 40 million who are for you but didn't vote). You can't go this alone. You need an army of everyday Americans who will fight alongside you to make this a more just and peaceful nation. In your 2008 campaign, you were a pioneer in using social media to win the election. Over 15 million of us gave you our cell numbers or email addresses so you could send us texts and emails telling us what needed to be done to win the election. Then, as soon as you won, it was as if you hit the delete button. We never heard from you again (until this past year when you kept texting us to send you $25. Inspiring.) Whoever your internet and social media people were should have been given their own office in the West Wing – and we should have heard from you. Constantly. Need a bill passed? Text us and we will mobilize! The Republicans are filibustering? We can stop them! They won't approve your choice for Secretary of State? We'll see about that! You say you were a community organizer. Please – start acting like one.

The next four years can be one of those presidential terms that changed the course of America. I'm sure you will want to be judged on how you stood up for us, restored the middle class, ended the s***ting on the poor and made us a friend to the rest of the world instead of a threat. You can do this. We can do it with you. All that stands in the way is your understandable desire to sing "Kumbaya" with the Republicans. Don't waste your breath. Their professed love of America is negated by their profound hatred of you. Don't waste a minute on them. Fix the sad mess we're in. Go back and read this month's election results. We're with you.

P.S. President Obama – my cell number to text me at is 810-522-8398 and my email is I await my first assignment!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

UCLA - Optimists?

I went to school at UCLA for 5 years, never graduated (anyone reading this have a way to put my on the list for honorary degree?), had some great and some horrible teachers. It was extremely competitive, to the point where people wouldn't even share notes, let alone let you copy off their tests. I became very dis-illusioned with the system while there. Imagine being a published photographer already for almost 5 years having produced a very popular punk album already, and because my GPA was not high enough I was not allowed in the major of my choice, communications, at that time. At which point i just decided to take all the (1) classes i found interesting, giving up on graduating in the normal fashion. I ended my days there as a philosophy major, before moving back to New York to work more closely with the then burgeoning little label called DEF JAM.

Here's a video that a friend saw as a commercial over the weekend during a college sporting event, promoting the school. At about 10 seconds in, tucked between Francis Ford Coppola and James Dean there's a quick edit of Greg Ginn from Black Flag going off, interesting moment to include in this fascinating little piece of Los Angeles history.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Don't Fall for the Right's "Fiscal Cliff" Hysteria

The oldest trick in the book is for conservatives to create hysteria over something so they can swoop in with right-wing solutions.

from AlterNet By Thom Hartmann
They’re up to it again – this time with what they call the “fiscal cliff.” Beware of con men bearing slogans. The oldest trick in the book is for conservatives – cons – to create hysteria around something, and then get all of us to give them billions of our tax dollars to fix the problem they’ve gotten us all hysterical about. Four generations ago, the right was whipping up hysteria about Reefer Madness. They got us to spend trillions over the years incarcerating mostly poor people for a mostly victimless crime. But they made a fortune doing it! And now they’re even building private prisons to hold potheads. Three generations ago, the right was whipping up hysteria about Communism.

Although Khrushchev never actually said, “We will bury you,” right-wingers and their PR machine made sure every American thought he did. And the Red Chinese were going to take down Vietnam and that domino would flip other countries from Laos to Canada – and pretty soon North Dakota would be filled with commies. They got us to spend trillions over the years building nukes and having pointless wars. But they made a fortune doing it! And now that they’re making money partnering with China, they’d like us to forget that it’s still officially a communist country. No droids in this car!

Two generations ago, the right was whipping up hysteria about taxes and regulation. Reagan told us that – even though the decades of the 50s, 60s, and 70s had been among the strongest in American history in terms of GDP growth and growth of the middle class – still, taxes on rich people were so high, and regulation of industry was so bad, that if we didn’t do something about it now, disasters would happen. They got us to spend trillions giving tax breaks to billionaires, and deregulated giant corporations so they could destroy most small and medium-sized American businesses in the great Mergers and Acquisitions frenzy. But they made a fortune doing it! And in this generation, the right is whipping up hysteria about our national debt.

They want us to be afraid, very afraid, that because of their war on drugs, their war on communism, and their war on taxes and regulation, our country now is trillions of dollars in debt. It becomes particularly ironic when they get hysterical about a program that goes into effect at the end of this year that will modestly raise taxes back to where they were when Bill Clinton was president, and will cut spending, particularly military spending, although not even close enough to take us back to where it was before Bush.

They call this the “fiscal cliff,” as if it’s something we could fall over the edge of and die from the crash. But it’s all hysteria. The tax increases on middle class people are easily remedied with a tax cut – something Republicans say they love. And the spending cuts sound like a lot – over a trillion dollars – but that’s over the next ten years.

That’s plenty of time to go through those things and decide which is important, like keeping long-term unemployment benefits flowing, and which can wait, like building more bombs. In other words, the “fiscal cliff” is another classic example of what Naomi Klein called “Disaster Capitalism.” Create a panic, and then profit from it. For example, Wall Street is helping fund groups like the Third Way that are pushing hard for us to give our Social Security Trust Fund – which has over two and a half trillion dollars in it – to Goldman Sachs and Citibank so they can take care of it for us. Doesn’t that make you feel all safe, and warm-and-fuzzy? While we have a large debt, it’s not as large as it was after World War II. And how did we solve it then?

Presidents Truman and Eisenhower – a Democrat and a Republican – both realized it wasn’t a “cliff” or a debt problem: it was a jobs problem. So they invested billions of dollars in sending millions of Americans to college for free, and billions more in building highways, schools, and hospitals. Those investments paid off in more and better jobs, which meant more taxpayers, which meant more tax revenue.

As if by magic, the World War Two debt was paid off! We need to change the conversation. We don’t have a “fiscal cliff” to worry about – we have a jobs cliff. Giant corporations and their conservative buddies have been sending those jobs overseas as fast as they can, and, while it’s making the fat cats rich, it’s wiping out the middle class. It’s time for a national conversation about our insane trade policies and how we can grow real jobs, not just fast-food jobs. No fiscal cliff or grand bargain needed – let’s just put Americans back to work.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Bernie Sanders in a Fiery Speech: Do Not Cut Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid

from Alternet:
The progressive stalwart says we can't balance the budget on the backs of the poor.

A coalition of lawmakers led by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders joined yesterday to demand there be no cuts to Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid made during deficit reduction deals.

Sanders said:

Deficit reduction is a serious issue, but it must be done in a way that is fair. We must not balance the budget on the backs of the elderly, the sick, the children or the poor.

Sanders also explained why Social Security has nothing to do with the deficit, as it is independently funded by payroll tax.

Watch here:

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Striking new scientific study shows strikingly that scientific studies with striking results are often false

from Xeni at BoingBoing:
The tl;dr: If a medical study seems too good to be true, it probably is. Eryn Brown in the Los Angeles Times writes about a statistical analysis of nearly 230,000 trials compiled from a variety of disciplines, published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The analysis by Stanford's Dr. John Ioannidis and a team of fellow researchers looked at study results claiming a "very large effect," and found that those claims seldom ended up being true when other research teams tried to repeat the same results.
One such example: the cancer drug Avastin. Clinical trials suggested the drug might double the time breast cancer patients could live with their disease without getting worse. But follow-up studies found no improvements in progression-free survival, overall survival or patients' quality of life. As a result, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2011 withdrew its approval to use the drug to treat breast cancer, though it is still approved to treat several other types of cancer.
With early glowing reports, Ioannidis said, "one should be cautious and wait for a better trial."
Read the full LAT article. Here's the JAMA paper, but you have to be a paid subscriber to read it.

Friday, November 16, 2012

A Brief History Of Photography

The history of photography is rich with chemical innovations and insights, producing hundreds of different processes to develop images in unique and often beautiful ways. But these historical images can be difficult to conserve, especially since each type of photograph requires a different preservation technique. While two photos could look very similar, they may differ chemically in dramatic ways.

This is where photo conservation scientists like Art Kaplan at the Getty Conservation Institute come into the picture. Art spends his days studying different styles of photographs, their materials and the chemistry that gave life to still life in the early days of photography. His office is loaded with drawers of photographic samples, scientific instruments and a clear passion for frozen history. In our latest video, Art explains the developmental processes of several types of photographs including daguerreotypes, ambrotypes and tintypes.

Video by Kirk Zamieroski
Produced by the American Chemical Society

Thursday, November 15, 2012

2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year: Tesla Model S (it's ELECTRIC motherfuckers!)

Shocking Winner: Proof Positive that America Can Still Make (Great) Things

The 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year is one of the quickest American four-doors ever built. It drives like a sports car, eager and agile and instantly responsive. But it's also as smoothly effortless as a Rolls-Royce, can carry almost as much stuff as a Chevy Equinox, and is more efficient than a Toyota Prius. Oh, and it'll sashay up to the valet at a luxury hotel like a supermodel working a Paris catwalk. By any measure, the Tesla Model S is a truly remarkable automobile, perhaps the most accomplished all-new luxury car since the original Lexus LS 400. That's why it's our 2013 Car of the Year.

Wait. No mention of the astonishing inflection point the Model S represents -- that this is the first COTY winner in the 64-year history of the award not powered by an internal combustion engine? Sure, the Tesla's electric powertrain delivers the driving characteristics and packaging solutions that make the Model S stand out against many of its internal combustion engine peers. But it's only a part of the story. At its core, the Tesla Model S is simply a damned good car you happen to plug in to refuel.
Engineering Excellence

Tesla claims it has 250 patents covering the Model S, and more pending. The body is light, thanks to its all-aluminum construction, yet strong and stiff. The front and rear suspension are also mostly aluminum. At the rear are extruded rear suspension links that provide the strength of forgings at much lower cost, while up front are hollow-cast front knuckles that weigh 25 percent less than a conventional knuckle of similar strength.

The electric motor sits between the rear wheels, contributing greatly to the 47/53-percent front/rear weight distribution. The motor is an AC-induction type, the basic principles of which were demonstrated in the 1880s by Nikola Tesla himself, and it doesn't need expensive rare earth metals. .

Tesla offers three lithium-ion battery packs for the Model S -- 40-kW-hr, 60-kW-hr, and 85-kW-hr -- that are claimed to provide ranges of 140, 200, and 265 miles, respectively. The base 85-kW-hr powertrain delivers a stout 362 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque, while the performance version makes 416 hp and 443 lb-ft.The battery packs are assembled at Tesla's plant in Fremont, California, using Panasonic cells with nickel-cobalt-aluminum cathodes. Situated under the floor, the battery pack is a stressed member that further improves torsional rigidity, and helps lower the car's center of gravity to just 17.5 inches, about the same as a Ford GT's.

SEE 55 Photos here >>>

Advancement in Design

Refreshingly, Tesla designer Franz von Holzhausen resisted the temptation to make the Model S look different for the sake of being different to call attention to the fact it has an electric motor. Former GM design boss Wayne Cherry, a consultant judge this year, summed up the exterior design theme of the Model S as "somewhat safe and conservative," but noted the beautifully executed design-enhancing proportions, the excellent stance and gesture, and the harmony and grace of its lines. His only criticism? "The front end is a missed opportunity to establish brand identity."

The Model S takes advantage of the packaging opportunities afforded by the compact EV powertrain. The cabin is roomy, though the raked roofline impinges on rear-seat headroom. With no engine up front, the "hood" covers a useful luggage space, and the rear hatch opens to a cavernous load area that gets even bigger when you fold the rear seats flat. Total load capacity is 63.4 cubic feet, not that far shy of the 63.7 cubic-feet in a Chevy Equinox, and despite its rakish looks, the Model S is the first hatchback in the world to offer third-row seating.

A number of the interior design solutions need more polish. However, all judges were impressed with the Tesla's unique user interface, courtesy of the giant touch screen in the center of the car that controls everything from the air-conditioning to the nav system to the sound system to the car's steering, suspension, and brake regeneration settings. The system means the Model S interior is virtually button-free, and the car has been effectively future-proofed: More functionality is only a software update away.


Whatever what you use -- gasoline, electricity, hamsters in a wheel -- making a vehicle move requires the consumption of energy. The laws of physics are immutable. The question is, how efficiently can it be done?

In the case of the Tesla Model S, the answer is very. The best energy consumption figure we've returned is 118 mpg-e for a 212-mile run from the eastern fringe of the Los Angeles sprawl to Las Vegas, Nevada. For the 313 miles of road loops during the COTY evaluation, where the car was driven at normal speeds by all the judges with the air-conditioning running, it averaged 74.5 mpg-e.

Impressive numbers, especially considering the 4766-pound Tesla Model S Signature Performance version will nail 60 mph in 4.0 seconds and the quarter in 12.4 seconds at 112.5 mph, with a top speed of 133 mph.

Read the rest here at

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Loom (video)

Loom from Polynoid on Vimeo.

Loom tells the story of a successful catch.
Year: 2010
Length: 5'20"
Directors: Jan Bitzer, Ilija Brunck, Csaba Letay
Technical director: Fabian Pross
Production company: Filmakademie BW
Producer: Regina Welker
Sound: Joel Corelitz / waveplant
Artists:Felix Mertikat, Jin-Ho Jeon, Roman Kälin, Tom Weber, Christian Hertwig, Silke Finger, Jacob Frey, Leszek Plichta, Georg Schneider, Anja Wacker, Andreas 'Felix' Gebhardt, Falko Paeper, Sarah Eim
5.1 Mix: David Axelbaum / Airstream Audio
for more information visit

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

How Raw Capitalism Is Devouring American Culture

from Salon via Alternet:
The publishing industry is teetering again as Random House and Penguin plan to merge. It's time for a government policy to protect the arts

Around the same time a devastating hurricane smashed and flooded its way up the East Coast, leaving millions homeless or without power, another storm collided into a professional subculture based in New York City. While the second storm is only metaphoric, the transformation of publishing could have far-reaching consequences not only for those who work on Union Square, but for readers and writers across the English-speaking world.

As with Hurricane Sandy, it will take a little while to discern the long-term consequences of the Penguin and Random House merger, [3] the news of which was somewhat obscured by the storm and the election. But the short-term impact is not pretty — and it follows other recent bad news from the books world. The Free Press, known primarily for smart, contentious nonfiction from Emile Durkheim and Francis Fukuyama but also the publisher of Aravind Adiga’s best-selling Indian novel “The White Tiger,” just collapsed. [4] Several well-regarded editors are now out of jobs as the imprint is merged into Simon & Schuster.

The Penguin and Random House merger would join two of the largest and most successful publishers in English. It’s likely to be completed late next year, and the new company will control more than a quarter of the global book trade. The number of major publishing houses will go from six to five, with credible predictions that it could easily go down to three. (Some in publishing note grimly that the publishers chose to announce this on Monday, Oct. 29, a day when the storm – which saw many editors and agents stranded at friends’ and relatives’ houses, without phone connections or power — would make meaningful news coverage almost impossible.)

The get-big-or-go-home strategy may allow bulked-up publishers to stand up to Amazon, which has become the industry’s Goliath. “The book publishing industry is starting to get smaller in order to get stronger,” the New York Times judged.

Lke a lot of publishing folks, Jonathan Galassi, publisher and president of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, doesn’t know quite how to read all this. But it’s significant: “Publishing is going through a sea change,” he tells Salon. “It’s going to be different when it comes out.” Whatever else is happening, “It feels like a contraction to me.”

The likely CEO of the combined publisher, Markus Dohle, sent a cheery note [5] to agents, authors and booksellers. “For us, separately and in partnership, it is and always will be about the books. Your books,” he wrote. And he told the Times that the merger will not lead to the shuttering of imprints; there was no talk of “redundant” employees. “The idea of this company is to combine the small company culture and the small company feeling on the creative and content side with the richest and most enhanced access to services on the corporate side.”

That, after all, is what they always say.

But the implications are larger. If you work in, say, journalism, or the music business, you’ve seen this kind of thing before: the erosion and then collapse of an industry, often after mergers and acquisitions announced with buzzwords – “synergy”! – or reassurances that new ownership means that nothing significant will change because, after all, we really value the kind of work you people do. Will publishing continue to slide, gradually, or will it fall apart, like newspapers – which have lost approximately a third of their staffs since the recession and seen advertising revenue sink to 1953 levels — and record labels – where annual sales of the top-10 albums have gone from over 60 million to about 20 million in roughly a decade. Members of the creative class [6] have been here, and it hasn’t worked out real well for them.

“It’s really painful,” says Ira Silverberg, a veteran editor (Grove/Atlantic, Serpent’s Tail) and agent (Sterling Lord Literistic) now serving as director of literature for the National Endowment for the Arts. ”I’m sure I’ll have tons of former colleagues looking for work, and they won’t find it. Regardless of what [executives] say, it’s going to be a smaller business.”

* * *

Publishing has seen various kinds of corporate mergers and acquistions going back three or four decades, as independent or family-owned companies have been absorbed by corporate masters. Random House, the largest and perhaps most prestigious American publisher, was bought in 1998 by the German company Bertelsmann. Things have been reasonably quiet since then.

So why is this larger shift happening now?

It’s no secret that the recession and slow-growth economy – and the long-standing flattening of middle-class wages that predates it – has bled nearly all cultural entities and venues. The process can be cumulative: Every time an independent bookstore closes, it makes things a little more difficult for publishers; when a chain, like Borders — which helped put those bookstores out of business — itself tanks, it makes things a lot harder.

But the biggest issue is digital technology – e-books, Amazon, Kindles — which has put downward pressure on author advances, which now stand, by some estimates, at about half of what they were just four years ago. The digital revolution has effectively marginalized traditional publishers, as the center of financial gravity shifts from Manhattan to Silicon Valley and Seattle. “Like record labels, publishers have become arms suppliers in the cold war between technology companies,” Robert Levine [7] writes in his 2011 book “Free Ride,” about the Internet’s damage to the culture business.

These developments all come just a few months after the Department of Justice decision that ruled in favor of Amazon and against five publishers and Apple, whom it accused of colluding to fix prices for e-books. On the surface, this ruling keeps prices lower. But as media watcher David Carr wrote in the New York Times [8] after the April ruling, there’s a high cost paid for the low prices. The DoJ, he argues, went after the wrong monopoly, since Amazon controls somewhere between 60 and 80 percent of the e-book market (and controlled roughly 90 percent in 2010). “That’s the modern equivalent of taking on Standard Oil,” he wrote, “but breaking up Ed’s Gas ’N’ Groceries on Route 19 instead.”

Blocking the publishers from setting prices seems, at first, like a victory for the customer.

“But pull back a few thousand feet,” Carr writes, “and take a broader look at the interests of consumers. From the very beginning and with increasingly regularity, Amazon has used its market power to bully and dictate. It leaned on the Independent Publishers Group in recent months for better terms and when those negotiations didn’t work out, Amazon simply removed the company’s almost 5,000 e-books from its virtual shelves. The Seattle Times just published a series [9] with examples of how Amazon uses its scale not only to keep its prices low, but also to keep its competitors at bay.”

So these signs of publishing contraction, coming so soon after the DoJ judgment, are a bit like the wholesale defeat of anti-corporate candidates arriving right after the Supreme Court’s pro-corporate Citizens United decision.

Some think the Penguin/Random merger is necessary to allow old-line print publishers to stand up to Amazon: If the enormous online retailer, with revenues of about $48 billion last year, has the atom bomb, the other players need to band together and build their own arsenal. Since their previous efforts were judged to be collusion, maybe a merger is the only option left. “Maybe it’s more an alliance than a consolidation,” Galassi says. “They could gain heft in negotiations.”

More tangibly, these publishers racked up significant legal fees fighting a losing battle against the Seattle behemoth; two are still fighting. (Insiders say that Simon & Schuster’s tussle with Amazon contributed to the of loss of Free Press.) In a business with a small profit margin, that money has to come from somewhere. Why not out of the hides of employees?

* * *

But publishing – after all — is just full of a bunch of English majors in overpriced suits taking three martini lunches, right? And in a day in which self-publishing is the rage — and the rhetorical war on gatekeepers, experts and other supposed “elitists” increases — what, really, does a publisher do?

“I firmly believe in the role of the gatekeeper,” says Silverberg, who adds that we’re in a cultural and technological shift that leaves us with several things happening at once. “Readers are picking up self-published work and saying, ‘That’s it!’ Editors are going through a pile of manuscripts sent by agents and saying, ‘That’s it!’ There’s a simultaneity.”

Generally, publishers do three things. They serve as banks for writers – offering advances in exchange for the promise of a copyrighted creative work. They aggregate services – offering editing, printing and distribution, book design, marketing and publicity, and so on, all at once. And they mitigate risk.

Of these things, says “Free Ride” author Levine, a former Billboard executive editor now living in Berlin, the most important is spreading risk. “For all the talk about new models, nobody has found a way to identify winners and losers,” he says. “You have to do a mix – you place a number of bets.”

And as with albums, most books lose money. The hits – especially the mega-sellers like the Harry Potter books or “Fifty Shades of Grey” – pay for a lot of others, if the author advances were not too enormous. (Skeptics wonder whether Random House’s $3.5 million advance for “Girls” creator Lena Dunham’s memoir will even pay for itself, and muse [10] about how that money could have been spread among, say, 10 or 20 writers.) “The only thing you make a lot of money with is a surprise hit,” Levine says. “And there are not that many surprises.”

If you put your book in the hands of a traditional publisher, you keep only a small portion of what the book makes. But if it loses money, which is likely, it’s not your mortgage or grocery bill that goes up in smoke – the publisher eats it, and tries again with another book, by you or somebody else. And if they get the math right, they end up making a small profit overall. (The odds on any given book making money are not good; the traditional publishing wisdom is that seven out of 10 lose money.)

Publishers are not unique in this – the culture business in general is built around the probability of failure. “’The Avengers’ didn’t have to make enough money to be profitable; it had to pay for the money Disney lost on ‘John Carter’,” Levine says. “‘Game of Thrones’ has to make back the money HBO lost on ‘John From Cincinnati.’ ” (Digital pirates, unlike producers, don’t have to take these risks – they only duplicate and rip off the popular stuff.)

On the creative side, perhaps the most important thing a publisher does is edit a book. And whatever the trouble with publishers, there are plenty of well-regarded editors left at the major houses. Galassi at FSG, Gerald Howard at Doubleday Books, Alice Mayhew at Simon and Schuster, Bob Weil at Norton, and Ann Godoff at Penguin (who was fired when Bertelsmann swallowed Random House in ‘98 and could now go before a firing squad of bean counters again) all have at least cult followings among those who know the business.

The editor, Silverberg says, is the irreplaceable part of the traditional publishing equation. He mentions in particular Galassi’s editing of Denis Johnson, Jonathan Franzen and Michael Cunningham over the years. “They work with the writer to make the best possible book. We can’t afford to lose editors. Editor as arbiter, editor as teacher, editor as collaborator. It’s hard to sit in that room by yourself. Writers lose perspective; editors can bring perspective.”

One of the key roles of an editor, Galassi himself says, is to find little-known writers whose work deserves to be put between covers, and moved from obscurity writing short stories or articles into a cultural conversation. “Do writers want to spend their time marketing themselves, or writing their books? There’s no dearth of need for publishers.”

One publishing veteran who asked not to be named says the official voices will announce how essential editors are. “They’ll all proclaim, ‘The editors are the jewels in the crown …’ “ The stronger they insist on it, the faster the editors’ execution will come.

* * *

This could all lead to a silver lining for some parties: Lean, mean presses with focused missions – Graywolf, Seven Stories, Milkweed, New Directions – could do OK as publishing shrinks and six majors becomes three. “Poetry, translation, literary,” Silverberg says of the kind of boutique presses that could thrive. “They know their audiences better than they ever have.”

As wonderful as these presses are, they tend to give very small or nonexistent advances. Much of their funds come from philanthropy, the NEA and state or local arts agencies, and that money rises or falls with political leadership, tax codes and other variables.

And while self-publishing has brought some good work out along with a lot of bad, there is little to no money at the front end. (We tend to hear about the rare exception of runaway success, not the hundreds of thousands of self-published books per year that go nowhere or lose their authors money.) For the independently wealthy, those who married well, or businessmen writing valiantly on the secrets of their success, these are real options. As with much of the Internet-driven transformation of the creative class, authors hoping to make a middle-class living with a modest advance will increasingly be out of luck.

One thing that could have made this story end differently is if the United States had a significant cultural policy. We have a trade policy – we protect industries we value – and we have an anti-trust policy designed to protect consumers. We have arts and humanities endowments that assist institutions. But our cultural policy is mostly to let culture fend for itself in the open market. It works great, but sometimes it doesn’t.

Many counties in Europe have cultural policies, Levine points out. Germany has a thriving book business – with many independent bookstores and a rich mix of publishers – because the government forbids price discounts in most cases.

“If you’re a minister of culture,” Levine says, “it’s your job to further culture. It’s seen as something government should do. If you left it all to the market, almost no one would write anything in Swedish … because it’s such a small market.”

In the U.S., though, we’re accustomed to our culture – Hollywood movies, for instance – dominating, and our language serving as the world’s lingua franca: We never had to find a way to assist and preserve our culture on the world stage the way smaller nations did. (European nations developed various kinds of protections for their musical and arts “heritage” as American pop culture conquered the world in the postwar years.) So now we find ourselves with four of our six big publishers owned by European corporations. (One of the two “American” companies is essentially owned by a rogue Australian.) And with a deal between a German corporation (Bertelsmann) and a British one (Pearson, which owns Penguin) potentially rewriting American publishing.

State-steered culture probably goes against the American spirit, especially in these days of market fundamentalism. “I think we’re beyond cultural policy at this point,” the NEA’s Silverberg says, “because capitalism trumped it. There’s not even a battle to be fought there.”

Some suspect that publishers will instead find a way to make the digital revolution work for them. “I find it strange that more publishers have not decided to sell e-books directly to their readers,” says a longtime editor who asked to remain anonymous. “The publishing industry is so locked into its past, into the way it’s worked for a century and a half. It’s not in their DNA to sell directly. But some nervy publisher is going to take this up in the not-so-distant future.”

A shrunken publishing world could dampen the auctions that drive mid-list authors’ advances from the basement to reasonable levels. Those same limits, optimists hope, could also hold down unreasonable excesses, like the multimillion-dollar advances for celebrity memoirs, which are taking up more and more space in the field.

But at this point, publishing folk just don’t know. They’re jolted – even the ones whose apartments aren’t flooded. In a year or so, many of them may be bartending or getting real estate licenses or moving back in with their parents like other downsized members of the creative class. [11] (Note to publishing’s rank and file: Pick up Louis Uchitelle’s “The Disposable American,” and try to get the phrase “to pursue other interests” taken out of your official farewell letter.) Or maybe the creative destruction will be minimal for now.

“It’s such early days,” says Silverberg. “It’s five or 10 years until we’ll know what the industry is going to be.”

Monday, November 12, 2012

Bank of England official: Occupy Movement right about global recession

from The Guardian
Andrew Haldane said protestors were correct to focus on inequality as the chief reason for 2008 economic crash

Occupy's voice had been 'loud and persuasive' said Andrew Haldane. Photograph: Rex Features

The Occupy Movement has found an unlikely ally in a senior Bank of England official, Andrew Haldane, who has praised protesters for their role in triggering an overhaul of the financial services sector.

Haldane, who oversees the City for the central bank, said Occupy acted as a lever on policymakers despite criticism that its aims were too vague. He said the protest movement was right to focus on inequality as the chief reason for the 2008 crash, following studies that showed the accumulation of huge wealth funded by debt was directly responsible for the domino-like collapse of the banking sector in 2008.

Speaking at a debate held by the Occupy Movement in central London, Haldane said regulations limiting credit use would undermine attempts by individuals to accumulate huge property and financial wealth at the expense of other members of society. Allowing banks to lend on a massive scale also drained funding from other industries, adding to the negative impact that unregulated banks had on the economy, he said.

The hard-hitting speech is unlikely to find a warm welcome in the Square Mile, which is keen for bank lending to recover to its heady pre-crisis levels and bring accompanying profits and commissions. Lending to individuals and corporations in the UK has fallen to a fraction of the levels seen in 2007 when few banks checked the income status of individual borrowers or the risks being taken by corporate customers before offering a loan. The Bank of England will impose stricter lending rules on banks next year when it takes over regulation of the industry from the Financial Services Authority.

Haldane said Occupy's voice had been "loud and persuasive" and that "policymakers have listened and are acting in ways which will close those fault-lines" with a "reformation of finance that Occupy has helped stir". He said inequality was fuelled by bank lending for speculation on property and other assets that enriched some in society at the expense of others.

"The asset-rich, in particular the owner-occupying rich, became a lot richer. Meanwhile, the asset-less and indebted fell further behind. In other words, the pre-crisis asset price bubble acted like a regressive tax," he said.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Fox station tells Romney supporters how to ‘beat the traffic’ to Canada

The Fox station in Oklahoma on Wednesday gave supporters of former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney some helpful tips for fleeing the country before President Barack Obama starts his second term.

In the Fox 23 “Beat the Traffic” segment on the morning after Obama won re-election, traffic reporter Jeff Brucculeri took a look at some of the delays around Tulsa before having some fun with disgruntled voters.

“We had some folks make a special request,” Brucculeri explained. “I know a lot people said that if their candidate lost the election, they’d be moving to Canada — not sure why, but that was some of the folks’ promises out there.”

So, the traffic anchor proceeded to give “the quickest and directest route” up north, where big government, same sex marriage and universal health are a part of everyday life.

Brucculeri advised Tulsa residents to take Highway 75 to Omaha, and then I-29 to the Canadian border.

“This is serious stuff,” he told laughing staff in the newsroom. “When you get to Canada, you’re going to hit the border here, make sure you got either your [passport] card or your passport, OK, to get into Canada now. Then you’re going to get back on Highway 75 in Canada or it’s actually the Lord Selkirk Highway. If you’re moving to Canada, you’re going to need to know this. Lord Selkirk Highway, OK?”

Montreal-based immigration lawyer immigration lawyer David Cohen told CNN that he had received calls from all over the United States after Romney lost on Tuesday.

“That’s the amazing thing, when they speak on the phone. They’re adamant. They feel very, very strong about it,” Cohen said. “This government doesn’t speak for me’ is the language that we often hear.”

Watch this video from Fox 23, broadcast Nov. 7, 2012.

from the Raw Story

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

and A Status Update on FB from Michael Moore

Congratulations everyone!! This country has truly changed, and I believe there will be no going back. Hate lost today. That is amazing in and of itself. And all the women who were elected tonight! A total rebuke of neanderthal attitudes.

Now the real work begins. Millions of us must come together to insist that President Obama and the Democrats stand up and fight and, if the House doesn't want to play ball, do a massive end run around them. Likewise, we have to have Obama's back. As he is blocked and attacked by the Right, we need to be there with him. We are the majority. Let's act like it.

And please Mr. President, make the banks and Wall Street pay. You're the boss, not them. Lead the fight to get money out of politics - the spending on this election is shameful and dangerous. Don't wait til 2014 to bring the troops home - bring 'em home now. Stop the drone strikes on civilians. End the senseless war on drugs. Act like a mother***** when it comes to climate change - ignore the nuts and fix this now. Take the profit motive out of things that any civilized country would say, "this is for the common good." Make higher educational affordable for everyone and don't send 22-year olds out into the world already in debt. Order a moratorium on home foreclosures and evictions. There are ways to create good-paying jobs - I have some ideas, if you've got a minute. Make your second term historical!

Finally thanks to the Occupy movement who, a year ago, set the tone of this election heart with "the 1% vs. everybody else" - and inspired Obama and his campaign to realize that there was huge popular sentiment against what the wealthy have done. And that led to Romney's "47%" remarks which was the beginning of the end of his campaign. Thank you Mother Jones for releasing that secret tape and thank you to the minimum wage worker who did the secret taping. Thank you Sandra Fluke for enduing the insults hurled at you and becoming an important grass-roots leader. Thank you Todd Aikin for... well, for just being you. Thank you CEOs of Chrysler and GM for coming out forcefully against a Republican candidate, saying he lived in "an alternate universe" when he lied about Jeep. Thank you for Governor Cristie for being the final nail in the coffin.

And thank you Mother Nature, in all your horrific damage you caused last week, you became, ironically, the undoing of a Party that didn't believe in you or your climate changing powers.

Perhaps they'll believe now.

E-mail from Barack before His Victory Speech

Glen --

I'm about to go speak to the crowd here in Chicago, but I wanted to thank you first.

I want you to know that this wasn't fate, and it wasn't an accident. You made this happen.

You organized yourselves block by block. You took ownership of this campaign five and ten dollars at a time. And when it wasn't easy, you pressed forward.

I will spend the rest of my presidency honoring your support, and doing what I can to finish what we started.

But I want you to take real pride, as I do, in how we got the chance in the first place.

Today is the clearest proof yet that, against the odds, ordinary Americans can overcome powerful interests.

There's a lot more work to do.

But for right now: Thank you.


A lot more work, yeah i'd say that's correct.

Don't gotta thank me Barack, I voted for Jill Stein here in New York, but certainly happy you won over Shit Romney and that lying asshole he had for a running mate. I'm really happy Elizabeth Warren won and those two rape weary goons lost their races. Good luck to all of us. Bring us Single Payer Healthcaare and Get Money Out of Politics since you no longer need any, Get us out of these wars around the globe, and then I'll be thankful.

Gotta admit for the 1st time ever, I enjoyed watching Fox news tonight, as soon MSNBC announced Obama as the winner, i switched over, great TV.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Find Your Fucking Polling Place is a website designed to help you find your, fucking polling place!

Side note: Accidentally type in a wrong address, and Get this amusing message:

What the fuck is this?

We couldn’t find your fucking address. Did you enter your full street address? It needs to be “Your Fucking Street, Your Fucking Town, CA 12345"

My kinda site!

Now, Find Your Own Fucking Polling Place


thanks, DangerousMinds!

Monday, November 5, 2012

A few thoughts on Election Day 2012
+ An Essay By Shepard Fairey

Shepard Fairey sent me this blog he wrote for the 90 DAYS, 90 REASONS website. I thought it was pretty cool.

I am under not much illusion to the right leanings of our Democratic Party, President, and since I live in a state that is virtually a lock for Barak Obama I am whole heartedly voting for Dr. Jill Stein of the Green Party (in fact I already have via absentee ballot). That said, I agree with much of what Shepard says and particularly what Noam Chomsky has suggested during this presidential election.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, I wish Obama was everything the republikkkans and tea party accuse him of being, if he was this country would be in a much better place. If they only had an ounce of intellect, or could let up on the greed to think about other humans for more than a day... THE FUCKING GREED OF THE RIGHT MAKES ME SO SAD AND SO DISAPPOINTED IN HUMAN BEINGS... AND THE IGNORANCE THAT HAS PEOPLE ARGUING FOR THEM, AGAINST THEIR OWN BEST INTEREST, IS HEART BREAKING...

Not voting at all is just like drinking or getting high, it's exactly what the corporations and the oligarchy want you to do. You have a voice, it's not only about speaking out on election day, but every fucking day you live, so don't sit this one out becuase you're above it all, because it's counter to "The Revolution" or you're too cool/self important to participate in the system, do something! Oh, and by "doing something" and voting, i don't mean go out and vote for Romney and Ryan, if you think that's a good idea then you're in a boat filled with these pathetic folks, and those referred to above, I look forward to the day that one sails off into the sunset or just sinks.



I’m voting for Barack Obama, but not because of "Hope," the poster I made in 2008, or because of hopes, of which I can’t say mine have been particularly fulfilled. I’m voting for Barack Obama because I believe evolution is real and possible. I want to see this country move forward, not backward, and I know that four more years of Obama in office will have our country and our planet looking far more like the ones I want to see than a Romney presidency ever could.

When I created my Obama portrait, the image was originally accompanied by the word “progress,” not “hope,” because I thought Obama was the candidate who would lead us in the right direction. My poster wasn’t directly affiliated with the Obama campaign, but when they politely asked me if I’d change it to say “hope” I obliged, because without hope there is no action, and without action there is no progress.

I come from the worlds of skateboarding and punk rock, and the "Hope" poster was about as un-Jello Biafra as you can get. I didn’t make it because it fit my outsider image or my history as an antagonistic street artist. I made the poster because I care about the future for my kids, and I saw an opportunity within the only political system we’ve got to support someone unlike the people we usually get.

I could go on and on about the flaws of the system itself, but short of a violent revolution (which I don’t advocate), the only way to improve the governance of the country, and the system itself, is to vote people in who will make positive changes for government and for the people. I’ve talked to many people who say “f*ck the system—I’m not voting,” but when you remove yourself from the democratic process by saying “f*ck the system,” you’re only ensuring that the system will be more f*cked.

When I look at the accumulation of power by the oligarchy and the rise of the dog-eat-dog, kill-the-poor mentality, I see civilization, opportunity, and equality sliding backward. I love Devo, but I’m no fan of devolution. This is no time for idealistic posturing on the sidelines. The people who benefit most from your apathy certainly don’t want you to vote. If you’re as frustrated as I am, and you want to give a big F*CK YOU to someone, vote for Obama—and while you’re at it, vote some sane people into Congress, which has been more dysfunctional (thanks to the Tea Party) over the last two years than any other Congress in history—and give the middle finger to the Koch brothers, Karl Rove, Wall Street, and all the other powerful interests who want us to live in their world without any say for ourselves or any humanitarian regard for society’s least fortunate.

Obama can relate to the struggles of average Americans. Obama came from nothing and achieved the American Dream through hard work—he wasn’t born into American royalty like Mitt Romney. As suspicious as I am of all politicians, when I look at the character and perspective of Barack Obama I see a stark contrast between his humanity and Romney’s callousness. Regardless of my frustration with certain aspects of Obama’s first four years, I know that evolution toward manifesting the ideals of equality, justice, general welfare, and the pursuit of happiness with a level playing field is far more likely with Obama as leader and steward of these ideals.

Even if you’re cynical about Obama, look at the alternative. Mitt Romney has promised to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Romney will protect the power of the wealthy while straining the middle class further. Romney will increase military spending while schools lose funding. Under Romney, the Supreme Court would most likely move even further to the right. A more conservative Supreme Court would be disastrous for future prospects of repealing the Citizens United decision or any other future campaign finance reform, and could result in women losing their right to choose.

Four years ago, I knew that electing Obama wouldn’t be the magic bullet to fix every one of the nation’s problems, but it would at least be a move back in the right direction after eight years of fear, war, and shrinking privacy and freedoms. Another four years of Obama will likely not achieve all I hope for, but it will take us forward, not backward. How far forward we can move depends largely on us, not Obama. Progress depends on how hard we push. I’ve often described my approach as the “inside/outside strategy.” Obama can be our ally on the inside, but we have to use all our voices and resources to push from the outside. Your vote is just one very important part of your voice. There are many issues on Obama’s agenda that I’d like to see succeed, and the potential for effective results is greatly enhanced by exterior pressure on government, not just pressure from government.

If you care like I do about the issues of: tax fairness, Wall Street regulation, green energy, fuel efficiency standards, climate change, education, infrastructure and infrastructure jobs, health care, and marriage equality, elect Obama and then push him and Congress to move these ideas forward.


Sunday, November 4, 2012

George Barris, the 87-year-old King of "Kar Kustomizers," Profiled in LA Times

This guy was an incredible inspiration to so many of us in the late sixties as kids and to so many more as teenagers. Great piece. Watch the video at least.

By W.J. Hennigan, Los Angeles Times

Cut-up photographs of a black Ford F-150 lie scattered across George Barris' desk, forming a mosaic of fenders, headlamps and rear-quarter panels.

Barris' eyes flicker over each fragment as he rearranges the parts of a normal-looking pickup truck and transforms it into the lunatic hot rod vision he has bouncing around in his head.

He dabs glue onto one scrap and sets it on paper. Then, another and another. Finally, he stands back and examines what has come together. The disorder has taken the shape of a mean-looking motor machine with a modified front grill, flared fenders and enlarged hood scoop.

"Pretty cool, isn't it?" he asks. "Wait until you see the real thing."

Barris has worked this way — using scissors and glue — for the last 70 years, taking ordinary vehicles and mutating them into hell-for-leather roadsters. Many of them have found a place in automotive history.

Others have been immortalized on television and in the movies. He turned a 1955 Ford Lincoln Futura into the Batmobile. He stretched out a Model T body and, with a few tweaks, made it into the ghastly vehicle that the Munsters drove in the TV show.

Barris, 87, was one of the first Southland car customizers to chop, channel and re-engineer automobiles. Detroit produced the cars, but it was Southern California that souped them up, customized them and delivered hot rods.

What began as a slightly subversive trend in the '40s is now a bona fide profession, running at full speed today behind garage doors — even in a world where gas-sipping hybrids and subcompact cars seem to be getting all the attention.

Many hot rodders and customizers see their work as art and Barris as an old master.

"He's a legend when it comes to developing the passion, sport or whatever you want to call the hot rod industry," said Troy Ladd, the founder of Hollywood Hot Rods, a custom car shop in Burbank.

Barris will hold court this week in Las Vegas, where about 125,000 hot rodders and auto enthusiasts are expected to gather for an annual after-market car trade show. He will be wearing his signature wraparound rose-colored sunglasses and bright yellow windbreaker with Barris Kustom Industries stitched on the back.


Barris' love of cars came early. By the time he was 7 years old, he was piecing together balsa wood car models, changing the way they'd look, maybe with a dash of paint or a modification to the body. His attention to detail paid off. It didn't take long before he was entering and winning model contests sponsored by hobby shops.

His family wanted him to work at its Greek restaurant in a Sacramento suburb, but Barris resisted. When he was a teenager, he rushed to sweep floors at a local auto body shop as soon as school let out. Before long, he was handling a blowtorch, shaping the immense metal auto bodies of the era.

When he turned 18, Barris left and moved to Los Angeles to become part of the emerging teen car culture. With his savings, he opened Barris Custom Shop on Imperial Highway in Bell. He later switched it to "Kustom" because it looked more creative.

"Because I was Greek, I spelled it with a K," Barris said. "I wish I would have trademarked that. I'd be a millionaire."

He would try anything to get the right look. Barris would cut a car's suspension coils so it would ride lower in front and be kicked up in the rear. He'd "french" the headlights, meaning he'd mold them into the body to get a smoother look on the car. Once, to get the ideal shade of pearl, he grated the scales off a sardine and mixed them up in paint.

He and other teenagers showed off their flashy custom cars at drive-ins and hamburger stands across Southern California. Barris' 1936 Ford roadster drew a lot of admiring looks. He gave it a custom silver paint job and removed the door handles to make it look more streamlined. He took the running boards off and shaved the fenders to make the front end pointed.

"I had just come from Sacramento, and I wasn't supposed to know anything," Barris told Tom Wolfe in "The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby," a book of essays that celebrated SoCal's custom car industry. "I was a tourist but my car was wilder than anything around. I remember one night this kid comes up with a roadster with no handles. It looked real sharp, but he had to kick the door from the inside to open it. You should have seen the look on his face when he saw mine — I had the same thing, only with electric buttons."

Soon, Barris' custom cars were causing a buzz. People sought him out, and his business took off.

His work caught the attention of Robert E. Petersen (the name behind Petersen Automotive Museum), who published Hot Rod, Street Rodder and Motor Trend magazines. After Barris' curvy, candy-colored cars appeared in print in 1948, he began getting more attention than the top designers in Detroit. Hollywood took notice too.

In 1955, James Dean came in and asked Barris to work on his new Porsche Spyder. Barris employees painted the number 130, racing stripes and "Little Bastard" on the car.

Less than a month later, the Spyder was found wrecked at the junction of routes 466 and 41 near Paso Robles. Dean, who was behind the wheel, was killed.

"I told Jimmy he shouldn't drive all the way up there," Barris said. "He wouldn't listen."


The entertainment industry turned to Barris to create cars for films with titles like "High School Confidential!" (1958) and "For Those Who Think Young" (1964). More cars ended up becoming major figures in scripts.

When producers of the "Batman" television show asked for a car that Adam West could battle villains with, Barris turned out a midnight-black and fluorescent-red pinstriped monster. The car features bulletproof plexiglass bubble windshields; the Bat Ray (dual 450-watt laser beams that blasted obstacles to bits); the Bat-O-Meter, which identified where the bad guys were; and the oil squirters (once lawn sprinkler heads) to foil evildoers.

"I saw the script and it said, 'Bang,' 'Pow,' 'Boom,' " Barris said. "That's exactly what I wanted the car to be able to do. I wanted it to be as big a character as the actors themselves."

Barris said he transformed the Lincoln in just 15 days for $15,000.

Producers of "The Munsters" asked Barris to get a hearse for the TV family's car. But he had a better idea: He welded together three Model T bodies, put casket handles around the engine and decked out the interior in blood-red velvet.

Under the hood, he put a Ford Cobra engine with 10 chrome-plated carburetors. Barris designed and built it for $18,000 and called it "The Munster Koach."

Elvis Presley, a frequent customer, became a close friend. Barris decorated the ceiling of Elvis' 1960 Cadillac limo with gold records and built in a 24-karat gold cabinet with a gold-plated swivel for a TV.

Frank Sinatra asked Barris to darken all his car windows because he didn't like being recognized. After Barris blacked them out, Sinatra complained, saying, "George, I couldn't see a … thing."

Michael Jackson came in with a Rolls-Royce, which had been scratched up: "My car has been hurt," Barris recalled Jackson telling him. Barris said he would fix it in the next day or two. Jackson left but came back half an hour later and put Band-Aids over every single scratch.

Barris has a photo of Jackson and almost every other star who walked into his shop. The postcard-sized shots line the walls of his shop in North Hollywood.

There he is standing next to Bob Hope. Chatting up John Wayne about a station wagon. Grinning alongside John Lennon and Yoko Ono.

"They were friends who wanted outrageous things done to their automobiles," Barris said. "And they knew I could make it happen."


Although his work is widely regarded, Barris hasn't escaped critics. He is known as a ceaseless promoter, and some say he claims credit for work that isn't his.

One time in front of his shop, he showcased the famous DeLorean DMC-12 featured in the "Back to the Future" films. Universal Studios, believing that Barris was misrepresenting his involvement with the movie, obtained a cease-and-desist court order in 2007.

Barris said the car belonged to a friend. He said he had never claimed he built or designed it and had displayed it to promote the car industry. "That's my passion, and something I've always done," he said.

Barris still rides around in style. His everyday car is a gold-painted Toyota Prius with emerald green metallic accents. Its doors? They slide up, opening like a Lamborghini.

Barris Kustom Industries is now on Riverside Drive in North Hollywood. It is packed with toy cars and action figures and posters from the projects Barris worked on. Some of those famous cars, including the original Batmobile and the Munster Koach, are stored in a gallery there.

Barris' phone — its ring tone is a familiar theme song: "Na na na na na ... Batman" — doesn't ring nearly as often with crazy requests as it once did. He's always had help running the business. First he worked with his brother, Sam. Then with his wife, Shirley. Now his daughter and other family members have taken on a larger role.

His grandson Jared, 23, took what Barris had pasted on paper and created a computerized model of the reimagined F-150. The two said they blended their "new school and old school" techniques and refined the truck's design. Then they fabricated a custom grill. They lowered the frame about 10 inches. They built new side rails on the bed of the truck.

After five months, they ended up with a black-and-red roadster with sharp bat-wing fenders — a new spin on the classic Batmobile.

There's a video, too (non-embeddable).

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Salt Water vs. Infrastructure

from BoingBoing
Salt water is still winning. Unfortunately.

Remember back during the Fukushima crisis, when you heard a lot of talk about why the people trying to save the plant didn't want to use sea water to cool the reactors? There were a number of reasons for that (check out this interview Scientific American's Larry Greeenemeier did with a nuclear engineer), but one factor was the fact that salt water corrodes the heck out of metal. Pump it into a metal reactor unit and that unit won't be usable again.

Now, the corrosive power of salt water is in the news again — and this time it's ripping through New York City's underground network of subways and utility infrastructure. I like the short piece that Gizmodo's Patrick DiJusto put together, explaining why salt water in your subway is even worse than plain, old regular water:
When two different types of metal (or metal with two different components) are placed in water, they become a battery: the metal that is more reactive corrodes first, losing electrons and forming positive ions, which then go into water, while the less reactive metal becomes a cathode, absorbing those ions. This process happens much more vigorously when the water is electrically conductive, and salt water contains enough sodium and chloride ions to be 40 times more conductive than fresh water. (The chloride ion also easily penetrates the surface films of most metals, speeding corrosion even further.) Other dissolved metals in sea water, like magnesium or potassium, can cause spots of concentrated local corrosion.
Read the full piece at Gizmodo

Friday, November 2, 2012

Thursday, November 1, 2012