Spread of the Radioactive Cloud of Fukushima

From the Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics

Project Path of Radioative Particulates

Show Me The Note, Motherfuckers!

Zero Hedge posts a followup to Gonzalo Lira’s The Coming Middle-Class Anarchy. Wherein Brian and Ilsa, a retired middle class couple, find themselves with an underwater mortgage. They also find themselves in a very typical bureaucratic run around.

In response, they sensibly did what more and more people will be forced
to do, if banks don’t pull their heads out of their obviously comfy
asses.  

They demanded to see the note.

I’ve spent a good portion of my free time over the last several weeks trying to find alternative branches to the narrative line that is quickly approaching.

Perhaps I’m not clever enough, or knowledgeable enough to faithfully follow Ariadne’s thread. Because I keep circling around the same conclusion: the mortgage (and by default the banks, no pun intended) system is going to grind to a halt because of this issue. And when it does, everything impacted by banking is going to grind to a halt.

The alternatives:

The banks screwed up. But they won’t risk losing market share by admitting it then taking the necessary steps to fix it.

The government can’t step in. Mortgage laws vary by state. There are a host of Constitutional issues preventing a mortgage “bailout” a la JP Morgan or Chrysler. For one thing the auto makers didn’t falsify documents. Their sin was poor business models based on the fact that the US of A can’t compete with countries with universal health care.

The middle class only needs a tiny spark to ignite all that bone dry rage they’ve got lying around. These folks, who have generally only known privilege, won’t have as much patience with the types of bullshit that the lower classes have long ago been broken to. Let those retired boomers…you know the original “Me” generation …decide to harken back to the good old protest days. Silverback Activists and the “Great Bank Sit-in (sponsored by Metamucil)”

Rage on disenfranchised white middle class hellions! Rage on!

Never Be Your Beast Of Burden

I am not fond of people who use open forums to whine about their lives or their take on the state of the world, unless they are willing to also discuss the potential for action and change.

But if one simply wants to spread the needy, infantile contents of their ego in a public venue; that, in my exceedingly humble opinion, is what psychotherapists are for. And hopefully part of a larger program which includes exploring positive, proactive ways to improve the subject or object of the complaint.

My aversion to “sharing” is partly the result of having lived many years in the pre-Oprah era.

I was probably the originator of the phrase “TMI” (too much information).  I’m not fond of “sharing” with perfect strangers.  It’s not that we shouldn’t talk about our problems, anxieties and traumas. I find talking about those things to be helpful in the proper context. I find talking about them out of the proper context to be self-centered and rude.

For me that “proper” context is usually in the midst of finding ways to deal with the issue so that it can come to some sort of resolution; real or imagined. That way, I don’t ever have to deal with the issue again, unless I choose to. And sometimes I undertake this task with the help of someone who has knowingly consented to share my burden.

But there are many who use the internet or social groups or the line at the grocery store to vomit their petty pinpricks of frustration all over the nearest bystander. This makes the vented feel better. But it doesn’t help them. Not really. It’s a quick fix. A cigarette. They are going to need another one in a couple of hours. And then some other innocent bystander is going to go home, covered in Vomitus Whinus.

Trust me, that stuff is both toxic and communicable.

That’s what people fail to comprehend. When you pass that stuff on to people who do not consent or are not “trained professionals” many times it affects them in a real and substantial way.

You vent to some patient, well-meaning stranger. They take it in whether they agree to or consciously want to. On the way home, they start thinking about the ways in which their world is broken. Or how their spouse has pissed them off. Or how their children don’t acknowledge or respect all the hard work they do

They take your bile into themselves and it becomes their bile.

And if they don’t have a way to deal with their issues, they will simply spread your dis-ease on to another unsuspecting soul. And I mean this quite literally.

Living in the South, I’m always amused in talking to new arrivals. Often they will have questions about the manners and mores of the region. What this phrase means or why people do that. And when I explain the basic rules, I will often say: “Oh, and never, ever ask a stranger how they are doing; because they will tell you.”

More often than not, their jaw will fall slightly, their eyes will widen and they will exclaim, “I KNOW!” And then they will relate some incident where they innocently spoke to some person in line or in the doctor’s office with the verbal tic of: “Hi, howareya?” And for the sin of being merely polite, were treated to 20 minutes of mind-bogglingly graphic details of this particular ailment or that unfortunate mishap.

In a relationship, by way of contrast, there can be an exchange. I share with my friends or my partner and when they need my ear, they share with me. It’s communal. We commune. We agree to share the other’s burden because we are emotionally or socially bonded to each other. And because we have this emotional contract, we know it is reciprocal; our ability to share our views and feelings is two-way street.

Sans relationship, i.e. on the internet or in line at the dry cleaners, you are merely spreading your dis-ease. I stumble on your exhibitionist-emo-ego-masturbation and I am faced with a limited series of choices:1)  try to ignore what I’ve been subjected to so far and hope that it hasn’t infected me, 2) whine back at you with my opinion or about my problems or 3) tell you to grow up,  learn to deal and develop some adult restraint.

The first is obviously the better choice. But let’s say I choose to engage you. Since you have already taken on the role of victim, the second choice would seem inappropriate. Why would I stomp all over your whine fest with my own? The 3rd choice makes me a condescending bully. So literally, I can’t come out of this unscathed, either by your vomitus or by public consensus.

Let me put this bluntly: the world’s population is not a personal stash of toilet paper for soaking up your spew. That is not a role we signed up for. I know this may send a rending shock through your world view but, believe it or not, you are not the center of the universe. I fully understand that growing up in a world which has encouraged you to foist your self-centered drivel to anyone who would listen has left you with the mistaken impression that you are somehow entitled to do so at will.

You are a child in the guise of an adult. Learn to practice some modicum of restraint.

It is somewhat like training your bladder. There are times when you need to “go”, but no relief is available. Consider whether pissing yourself in front of a perfect stranger would be socially acceptable. If you conclude that it is not, consider holding it until you find an appropriate outlet for your discomfort.

If you need help, get help. Barring an emergency situation, if you think choosing a perfect stranger to counsel you in exceedingly personal matters is helpful or productive I first suggest you explore the subject of coping skills.

Don’t simply expect me or any stranger to bear your burden without protest.

Damning Creation: abandoning the albatross of “specialness”.

Martina Skender at Six Revisions offered up  her thoughts and a bit of  history on creativity in her blog yesterday.

I honestly had no preconceptions regarding the act of  “How to Create Creativity” going into the article. The reason one reads another’s work at all is to find viewpoints that enrich your own by adding to your knowledge base or helping you to view the subject in a different light. And while I think she has many good starting points, perhaps further consideration would be in order. Because, halfway into the second paragraph, I felt compelled to reply.  And so, after finishing the post and re-reading to make sure I understood her intent, I replied (with slight modifications here for clarity):

Aaaannnd, I couldn’t disagree more. Not only with almost everything you said. But I also disagree with everything you have misunderstood about what the writers you were quoting said.

“Creativity is a mental and social process involving the discovery of new ideas or concepts.”

Perhaps a divine being can create something from nothing, but we mere humans are resigned to using what is on hand. In other words: we can never create new ideas, concepts or materials. We can only modify the ones we have.

Looking back through art history, one can see the linkages between “new” ideas and concepts in art and the social, scientific or material productivity of a culture. Dada was a reaction to social unease. Surrealism a reaction to the ideas of Freud and Jung, Warhol a reaction to both the “heroic” tone of Modernism and the ideas posited by one of the founders of Dadaism, Marcel Duchamp.

Aristotle has been quoted: “Western philosophy (thinking) is just a series of footnotes to Plato.” Of course that was not Aristotle, but a condensation of a statement by Alfred North Whitehead. But the seed of the idea holds a germ of truth: Nothing new is created. It is merely reconfigured.

There is a scientific maxim which explains it more simply: “Energy can neither be created or destroyed.” The same holds true for literally every idea, concept, “intellectual property”, science or philosophy.

Anyone can produce a new piece of art or poem or scientific discovery. But the object is only “novel” not new. Because the processes, methodology, techniques and results will be based on thousands of years of refinement and questioning before the “new” thing was even considered.

As for Lateral Thinking: The concept of Lateral Thinking in no way embraces the concept of “going around” an idea. I think one might label your description of the process as End Run Thinking or Pincer Movement Thinking.

Lateral, as the name should imply, means taking something from here and utilizing it in a novel way over there. Moving the concept, idea, material, sideways, in order to use it in a similar fashion within a new framework or in a new context.

For example, the inventor of that now ubiquitous material Velcro, was a Swiss mountaineer named George de Mestral. George had a flash of insight one day as he was pulling cockle-burs off his clothes after coming in from a walk.

He didn’t invent cockle-burs, nor did he invent the idea of them pulling at clothing fibers. No, that technique is used extensively, even today, in the fibers industry using out-sized burrs called teasle. We use this relatively primitive method because we can’t, as yet, create a hook that is both sensitive enough to pull natural fibers without breaking them, yet is strong enough to withstand industrial wear.

Herr de Mestral was lucky enough to live in an era where plastics were being actively promoted over natural fibers. And lucky enough to work with someone who chanced upon the use of an infrared lamp to curl the small plastic hooks en masse, by melting them just slightly. If  he hadn’t then he would have faded into history as the crazy man he was thought to be in his day. Now, we laud is “creativity” every day in using his product.

But he didn’t create anything. He merely used lateral thinking to join divergent ideas and disciplines into something novel. His technician/developer used lateral thinking to stream line the process of production.

Another “amateur” who lateralized her skill set to the benefit of science was Marjorie Rice of San Diego, California, a housewife and mother of five.

You see, before 1968, there was an established idea that there were only five types of convex pentagon shapes that could tile a plane. These had all been discovered by K. Reinhardt in 1918.

But in a 1968 article in The American Mathematical Monthly physicist R.B. Kershner presented three new types. He also announced without including a proof, that there were “no other convex pentagons left to be discovered”. No one challenged his assertion and the results appeared in the July 1975 issue of Scientific American in Martin Gardner’s column Mathematical Games. Soon after, Richard James III, a reader and tiling aficionado, sent to Gardner a new type of convex pentagon tiler, which Gardner published in a later issue. Now we had nine.

This news caught the attention of Marjorie Rice who also read Scientific American. She had no formal mathematical training except for a general course she took in high school. And I seem to recall that she was a quilter. But she said that she “had a feeling” that the pronouncement that were no more patterns was, somehow, wrong. So she decided to see for herself.

So she pulled out her shears and some paper and began exploring. In the end she discovered four new types of tilings in the next two years.  Thus making a total of thirteen known types.

She used Lateral Thinking. Taking a skill she already understood (quilting which uses tiled patterns) and applying within a different framework to discover something new. That embodies the essence of Lateral Thinking: discovery based on given parameters.

Lao Tsu once said: “To see things in the seed, that is genius.” He did not suggest that the things were not already there, just that we have not, as yet, apprehended them.

The problem I have with the promotion of “creativity”, “creating” or “creative thinking” is that nobody can explain how it happens except by way of example. It takes on an air of something “magic”. And since most people have the common sense to know that “magic” is the stuff of fairy tales, it both marginalizes the creative and sets the act of creating outside everyday understanding. It also allows the creative to spend their time navel gazing and contemplating their unique “specialness” rather than (as we say in the superhero biz) “using their powers for good”.

However, if I explain that anyone, any one, can take skills or ideas they have already learned and apply them in a slightly different manner inside a given context or within certain parameters; most people can grasp that as within the realm of possibility. They can paint, sculpt or draw, or make scientific discoveries or build a windmill from a trash dump to provide energy for their impoverished village. (http://williamkamkwamba.typepad.com/)

Human creativity is vastly overrated. And whether you choose to believe it or not, the whole aura of creative “specialness” is ultimately detrimental to all artists (including designers) everywhere. It is the albatross we are doomed to carry as penance for the sin of hubris; for assuming that we can, as the gods, create.

H1N1 Sources and Resources

Well, so much for living in interesting times. One begins to understand why the Chinese considered it a curse. The 21st Century is a morass of pervasive uncertainty blooming into paranoia, conspiracy theories and self-proclaimed skeptics whose ideology often masks a fundamentalist agenda.

While these reactions are predictable, if not understandable, one must take caution when discussing facts and factoids that may only serve to intensify the problem. But when I read the same kernel of a story coming from widely divergent sources that would not necessarily compose intersecting sets I become…intrigued.

So I offer them to you with little commentary. Read them; make of them what you will. I am not suggesting the pattern is anything more than that, an idea that happened to occur to more than one person.

Pittsburgh Tribune Review

A mostly hypothetical suggestion as to the ancestors and origins of the H1N1

As abruptly as it disappeared, the original virus emerged again to infect people in the former Soviet Union, Hong Kong and northeastern China in 1977.

Since the virus had not evolved since 1950 — which is unusual — and because scientists were examining swine flu viruses in light of a small, confined outbreak in Fort Dix, N.J., the previous year, Zimmer believes the infection was caused by an accidental release of a frozen sample preserved for study.

Virology Journal (report in PDF)

An interesting look at the genealogy of the virus.

“We contrast that suggestion with the possibility that laboratory errors involving the sharing of virus isolates and cultured cells, or perhaps vaccine production, may have been involved.”

Examiner.com

Providing information on the current mutations in H1N1. The mutation has increased the virulence of the virus, but not its ability to transmit easily

Ukraine Plague Blogspot

A truly indiscriminate and wide-ranging gathering of information, spanning science journals to unverifiable dreck. A number of the resources here propose that the virus is human created. There seems to be some concern from the creator of this blog and others that the Winter Olympics will be subject to some sort of virus seeding; wherein people are dusted via airplane with infectious agents, then taking it home around the world.

Halloween Specialities. But not from the Lazy Cook.

You must realize, the Lazy Cook does not “do” non-food food. For instance Kitty Litter Cake with crumbled cookies on top so it looks like litter and  Tootsie Roll “poo”

Litter Box Cake

Litter Box Cake

or even a Hamburger Meat Hand nestled in a bed of mashed potatoes.

But she does appreciate artistry and dedication, even if they completely put her off her feed.

Meat Hand

Meat Hand

Too late for this Halloween, but keep them in mind for next year.

GAO Suggests Limiting Internet Access (for Market’s sake) During Pandemic Crisis.

GAO Report in PDF format

If they shut down the tubes, wing-nuts will scream that the New World Order is about to be imposed.

Or if you are on the Naomi Wolf side of “Shock and Awe”, then they are protecting the market (connected, rich, powerful) from close scrutiny in order to finish the pillaging.

Or if you are on what ever side is suggesting that it’s all to the benefit of the rich and to the detriment of the poor, I’d have to say that’s probably closest to what I think, whether there is malign intention or not.

Los Alamos Astronomers have a WTF? Moment

From Science News:

Well, it seems that our solar system is in it’s own bubble.  Let’s hope it holds up better than the tech/ real estate/ commodities/ stock market bubbles…..

I like it when scientists are forced to liberally reassess their assumptions.  I don’t mean the slight deviations in data or feedback. I mean the “OMG! WTF! We totally weren’t expecting THAT!” sort of reassessment. It keeps them honest.

OMGWTFBBQ!!!!

OMGWTFBBQ!!!!

And it keeps me interested.  Double Bonus.

snip:

The edge of the solar system is tied up with a ribbon, astronomers have discovered. The first global map of the solar system reveals that its edge is nothing like what had been predicted. Neutral atoms, which are the only way to image the fringes of the solar system, are densely packed into a narrow ribbon rather than evenly distributed.

“Our maps show structure and energy spectra that are completely different from what any model has predicted,” says study coauthor Herbert Funsten of the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

NASA’s Interstellar Boundary Explorer satellite, or IBEX, discovered the narrow ribbon, which completes nearly a full circle across the sky. The density of neutral atoms in the band is two to three times that in adjacent regions.

These and related findings, reported in six papers posted online October 15 in Science, will not only send theorists back to the drawing board, researchers say, but may ultimately provide new insight on the interaction between the heliosphere — the vast bubble in which the solar system resides — and surrounding space.

Tipping towards the unknown: a study by the Stockholm Resilience Centre

Today’s theme must be the Apocalypse.

Over 2 dozen scientists from various disciplines produced work for this overarching study

Summary

  • New approach proposed for defining preconditions for human development
  • Crossing certain biophysical thresholds could have disastrous consequences for humanity
  • Three of nine interlinked planetary boundaries have already been overstepped

Well, so long. Thanks for all the fish.

Mice Levitated in Lab

From Live Science

The researchers first levitated a young mouse, just three-week-old and weighing 10 grams. It appeared agitated and disoriented, seemingly trying to hold on to something.

“It actually kicked around and started to spin, and without friction, it could spin faster and faster, and we think that made it even more disoriented,” said researcher Yuanming Liu, a physicist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. They decided to mildly sedate the next mouse they levitated, which seemed content with floating.

A plastic cage was also designed by physicist Da-Ming Zhu at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, to keep the mice in during levitation. Its top remained open to let in air, food, water and video surveillance, and its bottom was filled with small holes to allow waste removal.

From time to time, mice would kick the walls of the cage, causing it to briefly drop off from the levitation zone before re-entering it and floating again.

…..end snip….

Okay, I’m amused.  And fascinated. And a wee bit sorry for the mousies. Stoned, floating and mousy is no way to go through life son.

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