Wednesday, February 29, 2012

not no. YES.

Today is an Extra day. Do Something Bold. Propel yourself forward for the next 4 yrs.


need advice? Start here with an essay by "Sound of Young America" host Jesse Thorn.


Make Your Thing: 12 Point Program for Absolutely, Positively 1000% No-Fail Guaranteed Success



Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Dispatches from the Front Line

From the Yes Men (email update)


Feb. 27, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MASSIVE LEAK REVEALS CRIMINALITY, PARANOIA AMONG CORPORATE TITANS
Dow pays "strategic intelligence" firm to spy on Yes Men and grassroots activists. Takeaway: movement is on the right track!

WikiLeaks begins to publish today over five million e-mails obtained by Anonymous from "global intelligence" company Stratfor. The emails, which reveal everything from sinister spy tactics to an insider trading scheme with Goldman Sachs (see below), also include several discussions of the Yes Men and Bhopal activists. (Bhopal activists seek redress for the 1984 Dow Chemical/Union Carbide gas disaster in Bhopal, India, that led to thousands of deaths, injuries in more than half a million people, and lasting environmental damage.)

Many of the Bhopal-related emails, addressed from Stratfor to Dow and Union Carbide public relations directors, reveal concern that, in the lead-up to the 25th anniversary of the Bhopal disaster, the Bhopal issue might be expanded into an effective systemic critique of corporate rule, and speculate at length about why this hasn't yet happened—providing a fascinating window onto what at least some corporate types fear most from activists.

"[Bhopal activists] have made a slight nod toward expanded activity, but never followed through on it—the idea of 'other Bhopals' that were the fault of Dow or others," mused Joseph de Feo, who is listed in one online source as a "Briefer" for Stratfor.

"Maybe the Yes Men were the pinnacle. They made an argument in their way on their terms—that this is a corporate problem and a part of the a [sic] larger whole," wrote Kathleen Morson, Stratfor's Director of Policy Analysis.

"With less than a month to go [until the 25th anniversary], you'd think that the major players—especially Amnesty—would have branched out from Bhopal to make a broader set of issues. I don't see any evidence of it," wrote Bart Mongoven, Stratfor's Vice President, in November 2004. "If they can't manage to use the 25th anniversary to broaden the issue, they probably won't be able to."

Mongoven even speculates on coordination between various activist campaigns that had nothing to do with each other. "The Chevron campaign [in Ecuador] is remarkably similar [to the Dow campaign] in its unrealistic demand. Is it a follow up or an admission that the first thrust failed? Am I missing a node of activity or a major campaign that is to come? Has the Dow campaign been more successful than I think?" It's almost as if Mongoven assumes the two campaigns were directed from the same central activist headquarters.

Just as Wall Street has at times let slip their fear of the Occupy Wall Street movement, these leaks seem to show that corporate power is most afraid of whatever reveals "the larger whole" and "broader issues," i.e. whatever brings systemic criminal behavior to light. "Systemic critique could lead to policy changes that would challenge corporate power and profits in a really major way," noted Joseph Huff-Hannon, recently-promoted Director of Policy Analysis for the Yes Lab.

Among the millions of other leaked Stratfor emails are some that reveal dubious financial practices, including an apparent insider trading scheme with Goldman Sachs Managing Director Shea Morenz, who joined Stratfor's board of directors and invested "substantially" more than $4 million in the scheme, called StratCap. "What StratCap will do is use our Stratfor's intelligence and analysis to trade in a range of geopolitical instruments," wrote Stratfor CEO George Friedman in September 2011. StratCap was designed through a complex offshore share structure to appear legally independent, but Friedman assured Stratfor staff otherwise: "Do not think of StratCap as an outside organisation. It will be integral... It will be useful to you... We are already working on mock portfolios and trades." (StratCap has been due to launch in 2012, though that could now change.)

Other emails show Stratfor techniques of a truly creepy Spy vs. Spy sort: "[Y]ou have to take control of him. Control means financial, sexual or psychological control," wrote CEO Friedman recently to an employee, Reva Bhalla, on how to exploit an Israeli intelligence informant providing information on Chavez's cancer. (Stratfor's "confidential intelligence services" clients include, besides Dow and Union Carbide, the US Department of Homeland Security, the US Marines, the US Defense Intelligence Agency, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Raytheon.)

Perhaps most entertainingly of all, the email trove reveals that Stratfor's "Confederation Partners"—an unethical alliance between Stratfor and a number of mainstream journalists—are referred to informally within Stratfor as its "Confed Fuck House." (Another discovery: Coca Cola was spying on PETA. More such gems are sure to surface as operatives sift through the 5.5 million emails.)

A number of the remaining Yes Men-related emails take the form of reports on public appearances by the Yes Men, such as one that describes one audience comprised of "art students on class assignments and free entertainment." Another notes that "The Yes Men tweeted about the US Chamber of Commerce 'plotting forged emails, documents to trick (AND smear) opponents,'" a reference to an apparent plot to discredit Chamber opponents using forged documents, as revealed when thousands of emails were recently leaked by Anonymous from cyber-security firm HB Gary. Yet another discusses Alessio Rastani, the Wall Street trader widely mistaken for Yes Man Andy Bichlbaum, who proclaimed, live on the BBC, that "governments don't rule the world, Goldman Sachs rules the world."

"Rastani was right," said the real Andy Bichlbaum five months later. "But it's now very clear that it doesn't have to be that way anymore."

The Yes Men and representatives from the Bhopal Medical Appeal will join Julian Assange of Wikileaks at a press conference at noon today, Feb. 27, at the Frontline Club in London.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

We've Forgotten What We've Forgotten


Fascinating.

I often wonder about the knowledge and lifestyles that have been lost to history. This article struck a chord:


The myth of the eight-hour sleep 
By Stephanie Hegarty
BBC World ServiceF

In the early 1990s, psychiatrist Thomas Wehr conducted an experiment in which a group of people were plunged into darkness for 14 hours every day for a month.

It took some time for their sleep to regulate but by the fourth week the subjects had settled into a very distinct sleeping pattern. They slept first for four hours, then woke for one or two hours before falling into a second four-hour sleep.

Though sleep scientists were impressed by the study, among the general public the idea that we must sleep for eight consecutive hours persists.

In 2001, historian Roger Ekirch of Virginia Tech published a seminal paper, drawn from 16 years of research, revealing a wealth of historical evidence that humans used to sleep in two distinct chunks.

His book At Day's Close: Night in Times Past, published four years later, unearths more than 500 references to a segmented sleeping pattern - in diaries, court records, medical books and literature, from Homer's Odyssey to an anthropological account of modern tribes in Nigeria.

Much like the experience of Wehr's subjects, these references describe a first sleep which began about two hours after dusk, followed by waking period of one or two hours and then a second sleep.

"It's not just the number of references - it is the way they refer to it, as if it was common knowledge," Ekirch says.

During this waking period people were quite active. They often got up, went to the toilet or smoked tobacco and some even visited neighbours. Most people stayed in bed, read, wrote and often prayed. Countless prayer manuals from the late 15th Century offered special prayers for the hours in between sleeps.

And these hours weren't entirely solitary - people often chatted to bed-fellows or had sex.

A doctor's manual from 16th Century France even advised couples that the best time to conceive was not at the end of a long day's labour but "after the first sleep", when "they have more enjoyment" and "do it better".

Ekirch found that references to the first and second sleep started to disappear during the late 17th Century. This started among the urban upper classes in northern Europe and over the course of the next 200 years filtered down to the rest of Western society.

By the 1920s the idea of a first and second sleep had receded entirely from our social consciousness.

Friday, February 17, 2012

12 of 2012 Book Review: #1 - Vultures' Picnic by Greg Palast


Gonzo Journalism is defined as “a style of journalism that is written without claims of objectivity, often including the reporter as part of the story via a first-person narrative.” Also known as “New Journalism,” it encompasses a style that is as informative as it is entertaining, keeping the author within the story itself and not backing away from having an opinion and being subjective.

Such is Vulture’s Picnic.

Mr. Palast is an Corporate Fraud Investigator turned Journalist, with and a healthy splash of James Bond (read: plane hopping, hard alcohol and sex with women). Accompanied by a real-life “Girl with a Dragon Tattoo” as his side kick “investgatrix” as he calls it, committed camera man, and truth warriors at large, he goes for the throat of white collar criminals. Often fueled by insider information and documents marked “classified,” he keeps pulling at strings that lead to bigger and bigger frauds and conspiracies (the actual, men in a boardroom kind).

EXXON VALDEZ OIL SPILL
GULF COAST HORIZON OIL SPILL
AZERBAIJAN SPILL that was SDT as Gulf Coast, but was covered up

RECKLESS DERIVATIVES TRADING
FINANCIAL BULLIES DISGUISED AS IMF, WORLD BANK

On, and on. Palast paints a complete picture of the puppets and puppet masters that run the show for their own veiled gains. It’s the whole enchilada. It’s an extremely intelligent analysis of Why Things Are they way they are and Who Benefits and How.

Palast is the hero to all the anti-heroes polluting our world with their fuzzy ethics and even fuzzier economics. In fact, he was at the same infamous “Chicago School of Economics” at University of Chicago where dark knights like Milton Friedman cut their teeth. Except he didn’t take the Goldman Sachs job and smother his inner voice that strives for an exciting life spent pursuing truth and passion. He went for it, baby. Big paychecks won’t make you cool! And with his fedora, cigars and accolades from everyone from Robert F. Kennedy to the son of Martin Luther King, Jr., he earned his cool in spades. Take that to the bank.

I love it.

I bought this book as a Christmas present to myself (from a local bookstore, thankyouverymuch) after hearing him on Democracy Now!. So glad I did. If everyone read this book, things would change. They absolutely would change. The stories – like the Alaska natives having their homes literally pushed into sea, and Azerbaijani’s starving next to oil fields and casinos for their despots - have embedded a different narrative in my mind. Not only of who the victims are, but what the crime is – what really happened. That’s key.

Fucking read this book people!

If you are not thoroughly entertained, horrified, enlightened, and left wanting more, I’ll come to your home, slap you as hard as I can in the face, and then give you your money back. That’s a guarantee!



(p.s. if you want to just dip your toe in the pool first, go to gregpalast.com and read his op-eds.)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

It's a Big, Beautiful World. Don't Waste it On the Couch.

I came across an article on Forbes.com entitled "How to Be More Interesting."

This should be obvious to most people. But I've found that the obvious is surprisingly overlooked a lot of times. I do it. A lot of people around me do it. It's OK. But if you need some inspiration, a reminder on how to suck it up and stop sucking, take a look at this short, fun piece.

My favorite quote: "If your arrogance is more obvious than your expertise, you are someone other people avoid." Amen.

And this is my favorite graphic.



Maybe they're just two symtoms of the same disease - worrying too much about what other people think.

Where's the fun in that?


Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Doomsday Preppers

I was introduced to this TV show over the weekend. Holy smokes - this will give you some perspective! From the immortal words of Bob Dylan:

"I will not go down under the ground
'Cause somebody tells me that death's coming 'round
And I will not carry myself down to die
When I go to my grave my head will be held high

Let me die in my footsteps
before I go down under the ground"








Let Me Die in My Footsteps

I will not go down under the ground
'Cause somebody tells me that death's comin' 'round
An' I will not carry myself down to die
When I go to my grave my head will be high,

Let me die in my footsteps
Before I go down under the ground.

There`s been rumors of war and wars that have been
The meaning of the life has been lost in the wind
And some people thinkin' that the end is close by
'Stead of learnin' to live they are learning to die.

Let me die in my footsteps
Before I go down under the ground.

I don`t know if I`m smart but I think I can see
When someone is pullin` the wool over me
And if this war comes and death`s all around
Let me die on this land `fore I die underground.

Let me die in my footsteps
Before I go down under the ground.

There`s always been people that have to cause fear
They`ve been talking of the war now for many long years
I have read all their statements and I`ve not said a word
But now Lawd God, let my poor voice be heard.

Let me die in my footsteps
Before I go down under the ground.

If I had rubies and riches and crowns
I`d buy the whole world and change things around
I`d throw all the guns and the tanks in the sea
For they are mistakes of a past history.

Let me die in my footsteps
Before I go down under the ground.

Let me drink from the waters where the mountain streams flood
Let me smell of wildflowers flow free through my blood
Let me sleep in your meadows with the green grassy leaves
Let me walk down the highway with my brother in peace.

Let me die in my footsteps
Before I go down under the ground.

Go out in your country where the land meets the sun
See the craters and the canyons where the waterfalls run
Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, Idaho
Let every state in this union seep in your souls.



And you`ll die in your footsteps
Before you go down under the ground.


Friday, February 03, 2012

What's Good for the Goose is Good for the Gander


hypocrites - they'd be hilarious, sad people if they weren't in power:

from boingboing.net

Rep. Jud McMillin, a Republican in the Indiana General Assembly, has withdrawn a bill requiring mandatory drug-testing for welfare recipients. The withdrawal was occasioned by an amendment introduced by Democratic Assemblyman Rep. Ryan Dvorak. The amendment would require mandatory drug testing for members of the Indiana General Assembly, as well.

"After [the amendment] passed, Rep. McMillin got pretty upset and pulled his bill," Dvorak said. "If anything, I think it points out some of the hypocrisy. ... If we're going to impose standards on drug testing, then it should apply to everybody who receives government money."

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Resolving to Evolve

It’s January 31st, and I’m a month into a number of personal resolutions. To some people, most people, stuff like this is nonsense. A day is a day and a year is a  year, and they don’t ever change their habits or lifestyles. It is what it is. And maybe you are perfect, or maybe you don’t care, but I am neither. I want more.

I’ve found that I need to set guidelines, tricks for my mind to remember and goals that will motivate me, otherwise, nothing will ever change. I have a default setting, and it’s lazy and involves pizza.  We all make mistakes, but I do All I Can – that is what Sharon Van Etten is singing at this very moment as I am writing this. Fitting. True.



Happy to say I’ve stayed 98% true to my ‘No Wheat January’ goal. Made an exception last Friday for a beer, lest I die by whiskey old fashions, but have maintained the diet otherwise. No bread, pasta, cookies, cakes, crackers, etc. etc.  I feel great.

But going without has taught me something about extremes, and the way it can be compensated by other things that aren’t necessarily good. For February and on, I need to evaluate finding balance. Not the ‘all or nothing’ propositions that resolutions often are.  Strive for improvement, but don’t over-correct.

Moving forward, I’m still saying no to wheat, but if I’m eating out with friends and there’s shared things, I’m not going to say no. My lifestyle isn’t going to be reworked.

Some of my other resolutions have been additions, not prohibitions, and they will continue. Daily multi-vitamin and salmon oil pills. Regular shots of wheat grass (yum). Fruit Every Day (my new motto) – I like an orange for breakfast (blood oranges are in season and are delicious) and some other type of fruit for afternoon snack. Vegetables, Vegetables, Vegetables – in multitude and with variety. I cooked a collard green side dish the other weekend, great stuff. I made a beans and root vegetable variety stew (carrots, turnips, parsnips, radishes), also great. Experimenting with new vegetables is making me a better cook, on top of the number one reason why I do anything, it’s fun. Throw in stretching, exercising, and drinking lots of water, and I’m built to last!

So that is what I have going on, in addition to lots of other personal and professional goals that I’m not going to spell out.  But they are in the same vein – daily and weekly goals that help remind and motivate me to do certain things.  And if you haven’t set any resolutions for yourself yet, it’s not too late. In fact, I found one article suggesting February is a better time to start anyway!

I’m inviting everyone to join me in my top goal – Fruit Feb. I’m doing 2 pieces a day, you can go with one.  But make it every day!



Benefits of Fruit

• Fruits are low in calories and fat and are a source of simple sugars, fiber, and vitamins, which are essential for optimizing our health.
• Fruits provide plenty of soluble dietary fiber, which helps to ward of cholesterol and fats from the body and to get relief from constipation as well.
• Fruits contain many anti-oxidants like poly-phenolic flavonoids, vitamin-C, anthocyanins. These compounds, firstly, help body protect from oxidant stress, diseases, and cancers, and secondly, help body develop capacity to fight against these ailments by boosting our immunity level. Many fruits, when compared to vegetables and cereals, have very high anti-oxidant values which is something measured by their "Oxygen Radical Absorbent Capacity" or ORAC.
• Anthocyanins are flavonoid category of poly-phenolic compounds found in some "blue fruits" like blue-black grapes, mulberries, acai berry, chokeberries, blueberries, blackberries, and in many vegetables featuring blue or deep purple color. Eating fruits rich in blue pigments offers many health benefits. These compounds have potent anti-oxidant properties, remove free radicals from the body, and thus offer protection against cancers, aging, infections etc. These pigments tend to concentrate just underneath the skin.
• Fruit’s health benefiting properties are because of their richness in vitamins, minerals, micro-nutrients, anti-oxidants which helps body prevent or at least prolong the natural changes of aging by protecting and rejuvenating cells, tissues and organs in the human body. The overall benefits are manifold! Fruit nutrition benefits are infinite!