Sunday, September 30, 2012

opus in nadsat

True enough, me brethren, today he stands before you a starry veck with cal-colored platties and no cutter. But he was not always vonny and grazhny as you viddy him here, and once devotchkas and pretty polly littered his path.

But then he fell afoul of the taxation millicents, was declared a prestoopnik and made a plenny in the staja, and that was the end of his rabbitting. So he was not always afflicted with the dreadful sweater with its oozhassny teal buttons, but once on a raz was a malenky malchick like the rest of us, before we all become starry chellovecks and soomkas.

people, places, & things

The Crow Quill Nightowls & Thrushcross Grange, near Wuthering Heights and Penistone Crags.

The begonia ...... the flying death robot drone.

Albanian shepherd & Queen of Hearts by Lewis Carroll.

The idiot, and the magician.

a grain of salt

For years I trusted my doctors completely. I figured if a drug was doctor-prescribed, it had to be OK, since it would be FDA-approved only after years of exhaustive testing for safety and effectiveness by the drug companies, a transparent and above-board process by legal necessity.

Then I was prescribed the statin drug Vytorin™ by a doctor in Palm Springs, but a couple months later the Food and Drug Administration ordered the drug pulled off the market, announcing bluntly that it was unsafe.

This happened because a) the prescribing MD was a pill pusher, getting kickbacks from pharma reps for prescribing certain drugs; b) the testing process is a farce, and the Food and Drug Administration is owned by the pharmaceuticals companies.

Now a doctor in England has written a book detailing the extent to which we've been taken in by big pharma's deceptions. Ben Goldacre writes:

Drugs are tested by the people who manufacture them, in poorly designed trials, on hopelessly small numbers of weird, unrepresentative patients, and analysed using techniques that are flawed by design, in such a way that they exaggerate the benefits of treatments. Unsurprisingly, these trials tend to produce results that favour the manufacturer. When trials throw up results that companies don't like, they are perfectly entitled to hide them from doctors and patients, so we only ever see a distorted picture of any drug's true effects. Regulators see most of the trial data, but only from early on in a drug's life, and even then they don't give this data to doctors or patients, or even to other parts of government. This distorted evidence is then communicated and applied in a distorted fashion.

In their 40 years of practice after leaving medical school, doctors hear about what works ad hoc, from sales reps, colleagues and journals. But those colleagues can be in the pay of drug companies – often undisclosed – and the journals are, too. And so are the patient groups. And finally, academic papers, which everyone thinks of as objective, are often covertly planned and written by people who work directly for the companies, without disclosure. Sometimes whole academic journals are owned outright by one drug company. Aside from all this, for several of the most important and enduring problems in medicine, we have no idea what the best treatment is, because it's not in anyone's financial interest to conduct any trials at all.

The Guardian newspaper (UK) published a long and detailed excerpt from Goldacre's book, "Bad Pharma," yesterday, and you can read it here. You'll be doing yourself and your loved ones a favor by taking a half hour or so to read this.

Because of my experiences with statins and other mis-prescribed drugs over the years, I already had an aversion to taking any "new and exciting" pharmaceuticals, and now try to stick with drugs that have been around for ten years or more, and talk to people who are taking "X" to find out what their experience of it is. This is just one more instance of the principle that only fools and babies trust capitalist sales pitches.

harvest moon

The full harvest moon in this area is usually big and orange, but last night's was about the size of a dime, and a thousand times brighter, because the clouds and haze we commonly experience this time of year are uncharacteristically absent.

We'll get the real thing next year, I'm sure.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

slow turn

This is the time of year when we become most aware of the slow turning of the seasons, as summer gives way to fall, and August's zephyrs acquire a bite. Catboxette's Pacific maple has turned mostly red; it'll be completely scarlet by next weekend, and I'm hoping to get another picture then.

This world is just one of the universe's myriad clocks and calendars, at the moment trending away from its rotation's center as it moves toward the sun's annual death in late December, to be followed the next day by that resurrection which gave rise to all of the resurrection gods, myths, and stories of ancient times.

it's still a beautiful world for us to live in, in spite of everything we've done to it. Some say that human-induced climate change has reached a "tipping point" from which no return is possible, but I believe Mother Earth is tougher than we think, and that she'll recover once we stop doing the things we're doing now that hurt her.

The problem is ecological, but the solutions are political -- profoundly political.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

iranian nuclear threat

Remember Larry Fishburne's character in "The Matrix," Morpheus?

He's still around, and still trying to tell us the Matrix is still out there, and is still internalized by most of us.

"The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us. Even now, in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work... when you go to church... when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth. That you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else you were born into bondage. Born into a prison that you cannot smell or taste or touch. A prison for your mind.

"Have you ever had a dream, Neo, that you were so sure it was real? What if you were unable to awake from that dream? How would you know the difference between the dream world, and the real world?

"You take the blue pill, the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.

" I can only show you the door. You're the one that has to walk through it."

turn out the lights; the party's over

All the most recent polls show Mitt Romney losing this election badly, but he remains convinced he can come back in the fourth quarter and power through to victory. He plans to win public approval by showing his support for Soylent Green™.

Could this be the end of the Republican Party? Four years ago they failed to run a serious vice-presidential candidate. This year, they didn't put up a serious candidate for the top spot, but then you have to take into account that they really didn't have one.

Once the Repub Party has withered into a smaller, regional party of the midwest and south, the Democrats will split. Politics, like nature, abhors a vacuum. The status quo won't change, except we'll no longer have our political special education class.

Tarot card: The Angel (The Judgment) ©2001, 2012 by Dave B., a.k.a. catboxer. Click on the image for a larger view.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


From a story at Salon, we learn that Republican House member from Florida, C.W. "call me Bill" Young, currently occupied with running for re-election for the 22nd time (yep, that means this is his 42nd year occupying that spot), has become pre-occupied with phantom burglars.

Young claims that there’s been multiple break-ins at his home, possibly by the nefarious forces of the Florida Consumer Action Network or the Occupy movement. He told Craig Pittman of the Tampa Bay Times that he doesn’t really know who’s behind the break-ins, though he noted: “The Occupiers are after me.”

The local police, however, insist that there is no evidence of any break-ins. But Congressman Bill Young is not buying any of that, saying the intruder or intruders ”left an item in a very, very prominent place to make sure I knew they had been there.”

I thought people usually broke into places to take stuff out, not bring stuff in, but what do I know? Only that if this representative is typical of what we've got in Congress, it must be a certifiable looney bin.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

food & notfood

Juan Cole yesterday observed that the government agencies entrusted with watching out for our health -- The Food and Drug Administration and others -- are no longer doing so. With the guardians of the food supply's purity having been bought off by the very corporations they're supposed to regulate, we're pretty much on our own, and must be our own food police.

"Here are the top ten disturbing news stories about our food that have come across my screen in recent days," says the professor, "and which inspire a certain amount of alarm in me." And he lists them, not necessarily in order of seriousness or danger:

1. Sugary (non-diet) sodas make people fat, and the more a person drinks the greater likelihood he or she will be obese.

2. People who drink sugary sodas out of cans are probably also getting an unhealthy dose of biphenol-A (BPA), which a study at the Journal of the American Medical Association implied also is a major contributor to the obesity plague. BPA is in addition used in clear plastic packaging, and abundant evidence suggests we've all got it. This is why glass bottles are better.

3. There are unacceptably high levels of arsenic in rice grown in the souhtwestern and southern U.S., because it's mostly grown on land that used to be planted in cotton, which in modern times is treated with a defoliant, usually Paraquat, a kissing cousin to Agent Orange. You can get basmati rice from India at Trader Joe's, but watch out for brown house moths. That sounds yucky, but if moths can live and lay eggs in the rice, it shows there are no dangerous levels of toxins present.

4. Current evidence suggest that over-use of antibiotics may encourage our bodies to grow bacteria that excel at converting carbohydrates to fat -- another link in the chain of obesity.

5. A group of 150 scientists and doctors are raising alarms about the routine dosing of livestock with antibiotics. The only way we can keep from eating bovine antibiotics is to avoid eating the livestock, or consuming milk from those animals.

6. Would you like to sprout a few rapidly-growing tumors? Eat genetically modified corn that's been treated with Roundup™.

7. The global collapse of bee colonies will soon be a severe threat to the world's food supply according to recent studies. It's being caused in part by a class of pesticides called neonicotinoids, already banned in France and Germany.

8. Indusrialized and frequently government-subsidized overfishing threatens the continued existence of about half of our food species.

9. Algae blooms and dead zones caused by run-off of nitrogen fertilizers from industrial agriculture operations is ruining many of our coastal regions.

10. Forty percent of the US corn harvest goes to ethanol. This drives up the price of grains, and feeds no one.

And before you get mad, thinking this is a doomer post, remember that the first step in remedying a bad situation is finding out how bad it is.

Monday, September 24, 2012

the voice of the turtle

Turn around, go back down,
Back the way you came...

Quicksilver Messenger Service, "Pride of Man"

Look at this big basket of beautiful, nutritious food, grown by hand somewhere in this country, with only such "inputs" as animal manure, earth made from composted organic wastes, and human labor. Like it or not, we're looking at the future here, both of food and labor in the United States.

Of course, our "leaders" and "thinkers" don't know this yet, and will be left standing in the station when the train pulls out of the so-called "post-modern" age. Jim Kunstler contemptuously calls out not only "our junk politics and the junk ceremony of the present election," but the entire array of professional "thinkers" such as "Tom Friedman over at The New York Times (who) still thinks that the petroleum-saturated present he calls 'the global economy' is a permanent condition of human life, and so does virtually every elected and appointed official in Washington, not to mention every broadcaster in Manhattan."

But this "global economy" or for that matter macro-economics is not a permanent condition of life, even in the United States. That's because an essential component of the macro-global economic regime is a time bomb called industrial-style agribusiness. Yesterday at Common Dreams, the Indian ecological activist and feminist Vendana Shiva explained in a wide-ranging and very informative (but not particularly well written) essay the nutritional, ecological, and financial consequences of large-scale industrial farming, as practiced in this country by corporations like Monsanto, Cargill, and Archer-Daniels-Midland.

Our dependence on industrial-style agriculture has grown more all-encompassing with every decade since 1920, but that will end in this decade as the price of petroleum "inputs" necessary to the process, chemical fertilizers and petroleum-based pesticides, gets too steep for agribusiness to function economically. Plus, changes occurring within agribusiness itself -- the fact that only corporate profits matter, and nutrition not all -- doom this type of enterprise to extinction, as more people wake up to the reality of manufactured food making us fat, diabetic, unable to exercise.

When agribusiness goes under, we'll have to feed ourselves. Fortunately, this country is rich in land and other components of a muscular ag sector. We have plenty of animals and endless organic wastes to build new, rich soil in places where industrial farming has depleted and/or poisoned the ground. We have millions of able-bodied unemployed -- the makings of a peasant class.

America in 2025 will still have lots of workers and many big cities, but where we live and the work we do will have reversed direction from what they were in modern times, away from cities and industrial production, back to the land and pre-modern ways of doing a lot of things, especially food production.

And the voice of the turtle will be heard in our land.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

oh, shut up

The guy who runs the wonderful historical blog, "Whatever It Is I'm Against It," recently paused in his archival diggings to note that former preznitential candidate Sen. John Kerry is miffed at the Iranian government for letting Iranian planes fly over their land.

“It just seems completely inappropriate that we’re trying to help build their democracy, support them, put American lives on the line, money into the country, and they’re working against our interest so overtly,” the indignant senator huffed, to which the blog proprietor replied: "Oh the utter ingratitude, after all we’ve done to for Iraq."

too much freedom

I have a couple friends who have gone nuts. Though they've never met, they both followed the same route from the real world to the Land of Cockaigne.

I've heard of others as well who've converted to Jesus-flavored fascism in middle age, such as Jack Kerouac. The metamorphosis makes for an ugly story, and I'm beginning to wonder if my friends are part of some kind of phenomenon.

Before you chalk this up as a mere "difference of opinion" among friends, gentle reader, consider that when this change happens, it moves a person from tolerance and inclusiveness to bigotry and narrow-minded resentment. If this kind of conversion was just a simple matter of grasping at the certainty of a moribund fundamentalist religion, as an antidote to the nebulous uncertainties of a vague "spirituality," I wouldn't worry. A worse problem is that for confused, modern people seeking security, Jesus always seems to be accompanied by Mussolini.

A backward, authoritarian and patriarchal religion, racial, ethnic, and cultural resentments, militant nationalism with occasional eruptions of war fever, all travel together in the dysfunctional minds of former hipsters who decided at some point that the freedom of independent thought and speech was too much work.

This is not the first time I've left people behind. When it's necessary, we should do so without regrets, because history never runs backward.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

memorial for a civilization

You'll have to click on the picture to appreciate the message on the sign and its significance in the context of the scene..

Words don't fail me often, but they do when I look at the disused gas pumps and echoey slogan, and the abandoned little store with its melancholy air.

The Jesus is Lord gas station is on Irondale Road, which is pretty much the dividing line between the semi-rural villages of Irondale and Port Hadlock. It's the very picture of long-running decay and exhaustion, and a perfect symbol of the industrial age, now shuffling out the door.

Photo, "Jesus is Lord" ©2012 by Dave B., a.k.a. Catboxer.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

the devil's proverbs

There is no freedom without peace; war is history's great enslaver.

The industrial age has freed humans from the burden of unrelenting drudgery, but has birthed just as much destructiveness as creativity: wars, bombs, planes, factories, cars, suburbs, strip malls, tons. You are all gmo.

Cheap gasoline is the devil's nectar.

Beige, crowded-together suburban subdivisions are the devil's feces.

Clean food is got without a trap or gun.

A deflating currency means each piece of money is worth more, so savers win and debtors lose. Inflation has exactly the opposite effect.

Even if you live in a fantasy, and don't want to deal with reality, you can be sure reality will deal with you.

Incessant warfare is our gift from the angels of capitalism.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

dumb stupid nasty big mean poophead chavez

Originally posted at Omnem Movere Lapidem (, 9/24/2006.

I noticed a couple of the wingnut tirades against Hugo Chavez this week included the shocking charge that he reads Noam Chomsky.

True...but not in the original.

He also looks at Playboy. No need to translate the pictures.

He's a bad ass.

He also says big, mean things about the U.S., and George W. Bush. He's a big meany.

He's also says that unlike the cooperative and courteous princes of Saudi Arabia, he will never re-invest his petrodollars that he gets from the oil he sells us in the U.S. Instead, he will do what he's been doing and invest them in socialist schemes in Latin America, thereby undermining U.S. hemispheric hegemony.

He learnt that word "hegemony" from Noam Chomsky. What a big poopy pants. If he doesn't want to play ball with us, we'll take our ball and go home.

Either that or take our bat and knock his big, Chomsky-reading, Playboy-ogling, Petrodollar-withholding dumb stupid fat round shiny big mean head off.

life among the 47's

I jumped out of bed this morning in my rent-controlled apartment, and was just slicing some government cheese to toast for breakfast when my girlfriend called me on her county-subsidized smart phone to ask if I was coming over this weekend.

"Why wait for the weekend?" says I. "With the senior discount and the short-car discount I get on the ferry, I can afford to make two trips."

"Better be careful, Dave," cautions the ever-prudent Catboxette, "We're both running kind of low on food stamps, y'know."

"Never fear, my tender blossom," says I, "The eagle shits again in 12 short days. So I'll be there tomorrow, but right now I have to get ready to go to my Medicare-paid psychologist for grief counseling, since as you know, my goldfish died."

And so forth. Such is the busy life of former American workers. I truly love my dirt-caked, indolent existence, and wouldn't trade it for the splendors of Byzantium, not unless I could arrange to get my dear fish, Fluffy, returned to the land of the living in the bargain.

©∆7ßøX3®, proud member of the 47%.

gas fumes

The price of crude oil is down again today, making a seven percent loss for the week so far. This after it hit $100 on Friday for the first time since spring. Right now, it's below $92 a barrel.

So why is this happening? Commodities usually gain or lose value in concert, but gold and silver are holding steady at $1700 and $34-1/2, respectively.

The Associated Press reports that "there have more signs this week that the global economy is slowing down, which tends to push oil prices lower because people and businesses use less energy."

Imagine that. If people's demand for a product falls, the price goes down as well. Who'd have thought? The article continues with "Also' (which should be 'In relation to that'), "crude inventories rose three times more than analysts had expected last week. Crude supplies grew by 8.5 million barrels."

Don't expect the price to fall much further, though. Oil should remain in the $90-100 range for the foreseeable future, and gasoline at $4 or a few cents below. Production costs are a lot higher than they used to be, for one thing, and if the price of crude began to slip radically enough to endanger civilization, a.k.a. Exxon, you can be sure that the petroleum-governmental alliance would do something to stave off disaster, such as increasing the allotment of oil going to the strategic reserve.

As President Calvin Coolidge famously said, "The business of this nation is business," and the business of 47 percenters like you and me is getting by any way we can.

the 47 percent solution

There are times when The Onion has the most accurate news around, and this is one of em.

Romney Apologizes To Nation's 150 Million 'Starving, Filthy Beggars'

Saying that he deeply regretted his choice of words at a private $50,000-a-plate fundraising function in May—during which he argued “[his] job is not to worry” about the lower-earning half of the nation’s populace—Romney personally appealed to the country’s “dirt-caked garbage pickers and toothless street urchins” for forgiveness.

“First and foremost, I would like to offer a heartfelt apology to all the whores, junkies, bums, and grime-covered derelicts out there who make up nearly half our nation,” a visibly contrite and solemn Romney said outside a campaign stop at a local high school. “Let me assure you that I in no way meant to offend any of the putrid-smelling, barefoot masses out there. My campaign is not about dividing this nation, but about bringing all sides together—the rich, elegant members of the upper class, as well as the 47 percent who are covered in flies and eat directly from back-alley dumpsters.”

“I am fully committed to building a better future for every American,” Romney continued, “and that means ensuring all 150 million grease-and-urine-soaked members of our society get a fair shake.”

When the only cogent analysis of our politics consists of satire, we got trouble.

But we knew that already.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

la palabra ultima

The Golden Age isn't over, for there are still geniuses working in Hollywood who every once in a while do something just for their own joy and amazement.


The biggest problem with Mitt's analysis is that median income is lowest in Romney counry -- from West Virginia and Missouri southward -- and highest in those areas where Obama has his strongest support, such as Seattle, NYC, Boston.

Here are the income and political maps that show it, county by county.

So while he was right about the numbers and percentages of people who pay no federal income tax due to their low incomes, and have to seek government aid such as food stamps, he mis-identified them. Most of them are voting for him.

The reason for this: a lot of the poor people in the south and midwest are "values voters" -- you know, the folks who just had their big summit where they all channeled Rush and Rev. Pat. They worry most about social issues (values) such as the flag, godless atheistic socialists, abortion, and pray-er in our skew-els. Oh, and "When they come for my guns, that's all she wrote." The guns are a big-ticket item in those places.

Mitt, being a simpleton, grabbed at the easiest and most opportune answer -- "Look at all those freeloaders voting for Obama."


Monday, September 17, 2012

late-summer meltdown

If you haven't seen this yet, go check it out at Mother Jones, the source of the story.

It's about a SECRET VIDEO, wherein Mittens tells a gaggle of millionaire donors what he REALLY thinks, of me and thee and a dog named Brie.

don't go liking the police in tazewell county

Tazewell County lies in the southwestern corner of Virginia. Neither urban nor rural, strictly speaking, it's part of the Bluefields, West Virginia-Virginia metro area, which includes a little over 107K people, and has a police department. That's an unfortunate name -- Tazewell County Police Department.

But somebody liked them, on their Facebook page I mean, and she happened to be the girlfriend of a guy on the run, a 29-year-old sex offender, registered in Maryland.

The source article, from a Yahoo news blog, tells us that after the girlfriend liked the police, they used the "geographic stamp" left on their computer by her clicking "like" to pinpoint her location. But it doesn't say how the police knew the woman was connected with the guy, since they have different last names.

He's now in custody, charged with failing to register, among other things.

I guess it must be not that big a place.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

civilization and its discount tents

I haven't seen a better post-mortem of our dear departed civilization than this one, from about a week ago by Chris Hedges.

He's saying the same things Jim Kunstler says, only he's a lot calmer about it, and doesn't sound as if he's got a live weasel in his pants the way Kunstler often does.

g. had

The Christian Science Monitor has excellent analysis this morning of the anti-American agitation roiling the Muslim world since Nakoula Nakoula's stupid movie appeared on YouTube.

Anti-American protests continued their sweep across swathes of the Islamic world today, sparked by a low-budget video deliberately denigrating the prophet Muhammad that was made in the US. From Mauritania to Indonesia, protesters took to the streets in anger over the video, which portrays Islam's most sacred figure as a sexually loose and ruthless buffoon.

Yet the protests were about much more than the video. They were a reflection of a deeper, wide-ranging discontent, rooted not only in anger at the US for such things as its pro-Israel policies, drone strikes, and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, but also in frustration at domestic leaders who have not been able to effect rapid change in the wake of the Arab Spring.

All I know for sure is that if this country wasn't methodically murdering civilians with flying death robots in that part of the world, they surely would hate us a little less.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

the photoshoppers are flying

So it seems the Czar of all the Russias is admitting that some of his ecologically-oriented publicity stunts are stage-managed.

Yer shittin me, Vlad. You mean the swimming with whales, wrestling with tigers, and (the latest) flying with the cranes isn't all spontaneous, spur-of-the-moment, casually he-man stuff?

No matter. The close attention to image cultivation easily makes this guy the most fun dictator to watch since Gadaffy unfortunately left us. Hugo Chavez is mildly amusing at times, but can't hold a candle to this guy.

The American presidential contenders are so bloodless and boring in comparison that the current contest really is a race to the bottom which will determine the lesser of two weevils.

And anyway, Vlad really, truly is a man's man -- I mean in real life. He has a wife and a girlfriend. And the girlfriend is a contortionist. And what a backbend she has!

no god no fleece

I think the reason they thee democritters left God out of ye platform is because it was a platform, not a prayer.

Or a spell, as William "Bill" Maher wittily pointed out.

∆L$ø, mittens has boldly, bravely, & brazenly announced that he will never, NEVER, NUNCA, take God off our USA currency. Lucka for him that nobody has never ever never talked about doing such a thing.

He is once again courageously striding forward to head off a threat that does not exist. He should do pretty well with the perversions of the Persians, i.e., Iranian nuclear "threat" too.

Pictured: Paul Ryan

quote of the week

"Let us never forget that for every angry mob, there are millions who yearn for the freedom and dignity and hope that our flag represents."

--Barack Obama

Friday, September 14, 2012

animal farm, w/ vegetables

I'm here alone taking care of the animals this weekend, because Catboxette decided to go out and run with the Maenads.

So I'm sitting here in the silence, listening to the tree in the living room drop its hard, round, little green fruits onto the hardwood floor, where they bounce and roll.

There are three dogs: two schnauzers and a Boston terrorizer, plus an extremely fluffy and feminine cat with delicate sensibilities. There are also a couple parakeets who keep up a constant chatter during the day, plus they have intercourse about 100 times, and this is only the second time in my life I've been jealous of birds. (When I was a little kid, back in the Dirty Old Town, it was because they could fly and I couldn't.)

It's harvest time here at the ranch as you can see -- cucumbers, zucchinis, potatoes, green beans, and leafy greens, and also just a few tomatoes (alas). Next year much of the ground will be in tomato plants, set into their black bags full of extra-rich dirt.

This semi-rural, but in no way remote neighborhood is very quiet right now. When I stand on the deck in back I hear the endless hum of auto traffic headed up the main line to town. It's going to be like that around here for the next 48 hours.

And then Catboxette will return home after swimming the deepest river and climbing the highest mountain, to collapse muddy and exhausted in my arms.

Photo: "Cucumber Bucket" ©2012 by Dave B., a.k.a. catboxer.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

last days of the begonia

Catboxette's salvaged begonia has now reached full expression, at the very end of its life. The temperature dropped to 39 here last night, so the great autumn die-off, in yard and garden, is most likely days away.

I think I've told this flower's story before, an orphan sprout m'lady found in the compost heap, then transformed into Cinderella at the ball. The pot it sits in is also salvage, thrown out 30 years ago by the potter on Marrowstone Island because one side got a burnt spot while in the kiln. It's been in use here since then.

Midweek traffic was light coming over here from Seattle yesterday; summer's over and the kids back in school. I got the best seat in the house on the ferry and snapped this picture of coming into the dock at King's Town during late-morning low tide, as you can tell from the extent of exposed barnacles on the pier's pilings.
I can't leave this autumn domestic post without putting up one more flower picture. This hatful of whorehouse red and deep purple dahlia blooms, deadheaded off the bushes a few days ago, was much too pretty to go in the compost heap yet, and we've found the most attractive way to get full mileage from these summer beauties is to display them in a big bowl of water.

Summer was delicious, but we leave it with no regrets. There are promises of renewed vigor and big plans afoot in the fresh, cool air of the new season.

Click on any of the photos to get larger views of all three.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

jews, arabs, and american sociopaths

The US Ambassador to Libya and three other diplomats were killed last night during a rocket attack on the embassy in Benghazi, and the US embassy in Cairo was attacked by a mob, though I've heard no reports of deaths or injuries there.

The attacks were about 9/11, and also the release on YouTube of an incredibly stupid and aggressive movie trailer, produced by an Israeli Jew living in the US, which claims that "Islam is a cancer" and shows Muhammad as a pervert who approves of child molesting.

The timeline is important here. Before the attacks, the US embassy in Csiro issued a statement condemning the film. Embassay officials were appalled at the timing and deliberate provocation of this deliberate attempt to bait Muslims, and said in part, “we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions.” After the attacks the administration of course issued a statement condemning the violence and loss of life.

So how do the Republicans play it? The Romney campaign issues a statement saying the Obama administration's first response was to "sympathize with the attackers," following which that fraud, liar, and asshole Reince Priebus tweets "Obama sympathizes with attackers in Egypt. Sad and pathetic."

I can't say what I'm thinking about the Republian party right this moment. I've had my problems with Obama, really don't like him, and won't vote for him. But the Republican Party is truly indecent, obscene, and disgusting, and totally beyond redemption; it really needs to go out of business. Patriotic Americans, or for that matter anybody in the world who values the truth, needs to devote him or herself at this time to making sure that happens.

We could start by liberating CNN and the rest of the *liberal* media from corporo-Republicanism, and holding their feet to the fire on this little matter of the truth.

And the truth is "both sides" DO NOT "do it." Both sides don't do what Romney and Prince Reebus did last night.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

game over

The 2012 presidential election is over. Obama won, and the Romnehbot lost, so now we can stop jonesing about it, thinking about it, and talking about it. I wish the teevee noozeheads would acknowledge this simple fact, but I'm sure that's too much to ask.

Juan Cole has the top ten signs and portents why this happened. The most important of these are:

--"The Fraternal Order of Police has refused to endorse Romney for president. This is the first time for 98 years they don’t have a favored candidate."

--"After saying Sunday that he liked parts of Obamacare, including the coverage of preexisting conditions, Romney was forced by his handlers to backtrack."

Romney's aides and advisors aren't dong him any favors at all. He would have been better off to fire all of them and run his own campaign, even if it was lame.

--"Romney told his supporters that President Obama has a secret plan to take the phrase 'In God we Trust' off the US currency."

Every once in a while Mittens descends into Wingnutism, in a desperate attempt to snag some of the Tea Party's fading mojo and voters. How sad.

--"Romney’s assertion that he is not in the race ‘to heal the planet’ has angered conservationists."

Cole also reports that even the Foxist News Network is annoyed with the Romnehbot because he never divulges any concrete details of his so-called "plans." It's enough to cause one to think he has none, other than getting elected.

But that didn't work out. So, it's on to 2016, when I sincerely hope we can do better in choosing our candidates. And I just as sincerely doubt we will.

by the sea, by the sea, by the byootiful sea

Residents of Southern California are still trying to figure out what caused the entire region to be blanketed with a horrible, intensely sulfuric odor yesterday. The smell reached as far west as San Fernando, and as far north as the Lancaster-Palmdale area.

Air-quality officials aren't sure, but are zeroing in on a huge fish die-off in the Salton Sea this past week, along with a Sunday thunderstorm that churned up the bottom of the heavily polluted, dying salt-water lake.

The Salton Sea lies about 150 miles southeast of LA, and while it's unusual for a bouquet of this sort to travel so far, this was apparently a hell of a smell. And keep in mind, it's unusual for a whole state to catch fire, but any more California does so periodically.

The Richmond (CA) Times-Dispatch has the whole, stinky story.

Somebody remind me again why I moved away from there.

Monday, September 10, 2012


I was looking for paradise, and found an island off the coast of Kenya called Lamu, where there's no motor vehicle traffic, just an old town where most of the buildings are made of cut coral and mangrove, with a fort and a mosque, and a beach. Lamu is also a center for trading in antique jewelry, such as this necklace of African trade beads with a very old Indian silver coin pendant.

There aren't any roads there, just footpaths and, in town, alleyways. So no trucks -- if you've got a load of groceries to deliver, or a pallet of building materials, you have to use donkeys.

The settlement was founded by Arab traders in the 1300's, and strong Arabic and Indian influences remain among the ethnic Swahili population. The pace of life is very slow there, and the climate sounds ideal, if somewhat breezy.

There are a couple reasons, though, why it's not paradise. For one thing, you can't get there from here. Travel from Mombasa, less than 100 miles away by land and sea, is either reasonably priced, but tortuously slow and unreliable, or quick, efficient, and extremely expensive. One source I read suggested that travelers to the island might be in danger of attack by Somali pirates or bandits, and another suggested wearing cowboy boots to Lamu rather than Nike walking shoes, because of the donkey-generated pollution.

Come to think about it, I'm forgetting Lamu, because if I ever get out of here ("here" being Seattle), I'll just shuttle across the water -- go west, young man -- and assume that if the peninsula I know so well already isn't paradise, it's as close as I'll get in this lifetime.

If I ever get outta here, that's what I'm gonna do-oooh!

Saturday, September 08, 2012

21-го века белые

Alexander Bosykh, an old-fashioned professional gunsul in the style of Mussolini's blackshirts or the pointy-headed terrorists of our American KKK, briefly headed up some sort of multinational youth commission (Newsweek [scroll down to story "Angry Young Man"] called it "Russia's Federal Agency for Youth Affairs"), but his embryonic career was cut short after Russian newspapers began widely circulating this photo of him punching a female demonstrator at an anti-Putin rally in Moscow.

For a time, confusion reigned regarding the issue of the young patriot's employment status. Even though the Moscow Times ran a brief item on June 19 saying the prime minster's spokeswoman "dispelled a rumor that Alexander Bosykh, a controversial nationalist best known for punching a woman in the face, would head a state commission for interethnic youth relations," Newsweek's scoop appeared on the streets about the same time, in the issue dated June 25.

There's no doubt about how this guy rolls -- he's told the world on his blog, where he once wrote that he would "drop-kick a begging gypsy -— for scamming people, selling drugs and stealing." This is the Tea Party Russian style -- think tea partiers 40 years younger, with brass knuckles and steel-toed kicker boots.

As for his suddenly-offered and even-more-suddenly withdrawn opportunity to be of service to his Czar and government, along with the unwanted publicity that went with it, Bosykh says only, "“All you have to do is tap some lesbian on the head and suddenly everyone knows everything about you.”

See also, "Social Media and the New Cold War" (Reuters).

Friday, September 07, 2012

40 days & 40 nights

Cliff Mass, the University of Washington meteorology professor who writes a crackerjack of a local weather blog notes that the reaction of some of our webfooted residents to a protracted dry spell verges on hysteria.

"Seattle residents unaccustomed to a record-breaking stretch of sun and warmth are reacting with guilt, anxiety, and discomfort," Mass wrote yesterday, and adds, "I cannot count the number of emails I have received by folks asking when the clouds and rain will return. For some there is almost a tone of desperation."

Mass also points out that the dry weather has even prompted a response from the parallel universe of the local wingnut press (yeah, we've got them, too) -- a Seattle Times local "news" headline that reads "McKenna (the Republican candidate for governor) win would end drought." Presumably, the story which follows describes in detail the process of how that would work, and presumably the election of the Democrat, Jay Inslee, would plunge us into a drought that would make the Puget Sound basin look like the bottom of a used Shake 'n' Bake™ bag.

Whatever. All I know for sure is 1) Today makes 47 consecutive days without rain in the region, and that's a record; 2) It's been really beautiful, and 3) I'm not worried.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

can't we do any better than this?

Looking like a bunch of clowns and lacking only big, red shoes, the Democrats yesterday re-instated God and Jerusalem (the all-Israeli version) back into their party platform. It's getting harder and harder for people who follow the party line to do so without making complete fools of themselves.

This was a major failure because the modern-day conventions are nothing more than advertisements and public relations events. Effective advertisers are supposed to at least present an image of strength, even if they don't have any. The last thing they want to do is start fighting amongst themselves with everyone watching.

The article I read at Huffpo said this bonehead move was undertaken at Obama's insistence. Once again he shows that he may not know what democracy is, but dictatorship he does quite well, exactly like his predecessor in the office. And in terms of stupidity, the last little dictator had nothing on this one.

How could we ever have thought this guy could fix a broken economy? It's now obvious that he can't even run an ad campaign! At least he didn't say "I'm the decider!" when it comes to the existence of God, who after all, if she does exist, doesn't give a rip whether or not she's acknowledged in the Democratic platform.

Between the ineptitude and incompetence of the Democrats and the fantasyland of Republicans, living out in the ether of their own little parallel universe, where there's no global warming and "markets" always regulate themselves, we're once again between the fire and the tsunami in this country. Can't we do any better than this?

Caricature by DonkeyHotey.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

my worm, willie

Ever seen an earthworm a foot and a half long?

A guy in China found one living in his roof gutter.

Where I come from, we call them things "snakes."

Film here.

seal of approval

Being as how I'm always actively soliciting Catboxette's seal of approval when it comes to shopping wisely and maintaining fiscal prudence, I stalked the grocery aisles of my local Target store today, bargain hunting like an old geezer. I don't actually think of myself as a geezer, but the facts are, I'm not getting any younger, I'm retired, and living on a fixed income.

What I tended to find was stuff costing a little less than two bucks that's usually a little over that amount in supermarkets: soda crackers, brownie mix, even Progresso bread crumbs™ were only $2.04. It was kind of like small-stakes gambling; save a few nickels here and there, and then blow it all on a loaf of sourdough bread! Oh well, hadda have it.

I did pretty well, though, until I got to the register, because today is nicotine patch day, and they're almost 30 bucks. Seems like it's always either medications or recreational drugs that bust the bank, and it's getting harder and harder to tell the difference between the 2.


There was a large, 7.6-magnitude earthquake today in Costa Rica. The epicenter was on the rough and hilly Nicoya Peninsula, near a little village called Hojancha, 84 miles from the capital and largest city, San Juan.

Two people were killed and "at least 20" injured according to the report from the Christian Science Monitor.

This peninsula is on the Pacific side of the country, so this quake is rim-of-fire activity, which I always find interesting.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

roosevelt pranklin elementary school

It must be a lot of fun to prank the teevee people, who seem to be getting younger all the time in local markets, and a little slower on the uptake in some cases.

Or maybe I'm just getting older, it's hard to tell.

Found this along with a number of other funny screenshots at a kind of something-for-everybody site called, which is also featuring a photo essay on back dimples (one of my own favorite anatomical features) at this time.

getting real

I heard the Democratic convention started. Big, big deal.

Republicrats and Demolicans. I don't really see a whole lot of difference between em. Oh, I know, one party is mostly white, likes their women submissive and their negroes and Mexicans invisible, and isn't satisfied with anything less than total power. But is that really a life-threatening difference?

What I'm getting at is oil is $95 a barrel right now. That's reality. No matter who wins the election, it'll be $100 next year, and the price of fuel will be up along with it. That's reality too.

And no matter who controls the House and Senate next year, the drought is going to get worse...maybe not next year, but the year after, or the one after that. That's reality, because neither party is going to do anything that's necessary to seriously confront climate change. And that's reality.

Also, everyone knows where all that is going -- fewer grain crops, skyrocketing prices, and eventually food shortages. Hey, it's reality.

We're still at war in Petrolistan. Apparently, that's permanent, and that's reality.

And you know, life is precious, but this idea seems to be lost on both our political parties, whose politicians stand gaping like Neanderthals as we rush toward hell in a handbasket, moaning about how it's those other guys' fault. That's reality.

If I didn't know better, I'd say someone is paying our politicians in both parties to act like such impotent morons.

Monday, September 03, 2012


This weekend we llved on vegetables from the garden: potatoes and onions, zucchini and green beans, cucumbers and basil. These were supplemented by a few store-bought veggies, primarily mushrooms and multi-colored carrots which taste kind of parsnippy, a little pasta, and some excellent silver salmon donated by the serious fisherman next door. It was all wonderful.

The zucchini came from the wheelbarrow at left in the picture, catching the long rays of the late-afternoon sun The basil came out of the little raised bed in the middle, and everything else from the big bed behind it where red and purple dahlias are sticking their heads up.

The weather was ideal this weekend, too, with cool and misty mornings giving way to warm sunshine by 11 a.m. or so. If this isn't heaven, it's got to be right close by.

Click on the photo for a larger view.