Not surprising, really, the GOP political motivation has been transparently directed towards demagoguery and re-election for a long, long time. Why else the so-called Southern Strategy? Why else the anti-civil rights positions regarding same-sex marriage? Why else other than fooling the rubes and (theoretically) winning elections. What’s happened is the GOP schtick has gotten tiresome, antiquated, and a smaller percentage of the voting public is convinced that tax breaks for wealthy corporations is beneficial for the rest of us…
If the tea party faction thought that they could lay claim to the idea of representing “real America” by dressing up in colonial clothes and calling President Obama some sort of foreigner, that idea is now out the window. After the Republican-controlled House of Representatives decided to shut down the government in a desperate attempt to take away the ability of the less fortunate to get health insurance, their polling took a major hit. Over half the country now thinks that it’s a bad thing that the Republican Party controls the House; three quarters of Americans believe that Republican members of Congress don’t deserve re-election.
All of those numbers would be bad in their own right, but there’s one that’s even worse, as Steve Benen at MSNBC reports:
The results cover quite a bit of ground, but there was one question in particular that stood out for me: respondents were asked whether they believe the various officials in Washington are more interested in doing what’s best for the country or what’s best for themselves politically. It’s an interesting question because it speaks to something that isn’t often polled: perceptions of motivations. I put together the chart above to capture the results, which should terrify Republican officials. By a nearly four-to-one margin, Americans believe GOP lawmakers in Congress aren’t concerned with the nation’s best interests. That’s just astounding.
Given the revulsion that the American public feels toward Congress in general, it’s unsurprising that Democrats on Capitol Hill are operating at a deficit in this regard as well, even if it isn’t nearly as steep as that faced by their Republican counterparts. But what should scare Republicans even more than their own abysmal numbers? President Obama’s. Despite every single thing that Republicans have said and done to delegitimize the President, ascribe evil intentions to him, and impute that he does not share American values, a majority of Americans think that he cares about what is best for the country more than being motivated by selfish intentions.
(click here to continue reading Daily Kos: The final blow: Americans think Republicans don’t care about them.)
The proof will arrive, or not arrive, in the fall of 2014 – all else is speculation until then.
Numbers 2013 sucks, by the way…
Read the rest of this entry »
If you recall, for a while I blogged the requests I received to use my art without compensation. I’ve been lax in documenting them lately, but make no mistake, not a month doesn’t go by without someone requesting something, sans payment.
Obviously, this is a frequent problem. Tim Kreider begins his rant on the subject thus:
NOT long ago, I received, in a single week, three (3) invitations to write an original piece for publication or give a prepared speech in exchange for no ($0.00) money. As with stinkbugs, it’s not any one instance of this request but their sheer number and relentlessness that make them so tiresome. It also makes composing a polite response a heroic exercise in restraint.
People who would consider it a bizarre breach of conduct to expect anyone to give them a haircut or a can of soda at no cost will ask you, with a straight face and a clear conscience, whether you wouldn’t be willing to write an essay or draw an illustration for them for nothing. They often start by telling you how much they admire your work, although not enough, evidently, to pay one cent for it. “Unfortunately we don’t have the budget to offer compensation to our contributors…” is how the pertinent line usually starts. But just as often, they simply omit any mention of payment.
A familiar figure in one’s 20s is the club owner or event promoter who explains to your band that they won’t be paying you in money, man, because you’re getting paid in the far more valuable currency of exposure. This same figure reappears over the years, like the devil, in different guises — with shorter hair, a better suit — as the editor of a Web site or magazine, dismissing the issue of payment as an irrelevant quibble and impressing upon you how many hits they get per day, how many eyeballs, what great exposure it’ll offer. “Artist Dies of Exposure” goes the rueful joke.
(click here to continue reading Slaves of the Internet, Unite! – NYTimes.com.)
Mr. Kreider continues:
I’ve been trying to understand the mentality that leads people who wouldn’t ask a stranger to give them a keychain or a Twizzler to ask me to write them a thousand words for nothing. I have to admit my empathetic imagination is failing me here. I suppose people who aren’t artists assume that being one must be fun since, after all, we do choose to do it despite the fact that no one pays us. They figure we must be flattered to have someone ask us to do our little thing we already do.
I will freely admit that writing beats baling hay or going door-to-door for a living, but it’s still shockingly unenjoyable work. I spent 20 years and wrote thousands of pages learning the trivial craft of putting sentences together. My parents blew tens of thousands of 1980s dollars on tuition at a prestigious institution to train me for this job. They also put my sister the pulmonologist through medical school, and as far as I know nobody ever asks her to perform a quick lobectomy — doesn’t have to be anything fancy, maybe just in her spare time, whatever she can do would be great — because it’ll help get her name out there.
and then concludes with a more succinct version of the refusal than one I linked to a couple years ago:
Here, for public use, is my very own template for a response to people who offer to let me write something for them for nothing:
Thanks very much for your compliments on my [writing/illustration/whatever thing you do]. I’m flattered by your invitation to [do whatever it is they want you to do for nothing]. But [thing you do] is work, it takes time, it’s how I make my living, and in this economy I can’t afford to do it for free. I’m sorry to decline, but thanks again, sincerely, for your kind words about my work.
Feel free to amend as necessary. This I’m willing to give away.
We Finally Came To Realize
A troubling tale via Krebs on Security
An identity theft service that sold Social Security and drivers license numbers — as well as bank account and credit card data on millions of Americans — purchased much of its data from Experian, one of the three major credit bureaus, according to a lengthy investigation by KrebsOnSecurity.
Contacted about the reader’s claim, U.S. Info Search CEO Marc Martin said the data sold by the ID theft service was not obtained directly through his company, but rather via Court Ventures, a third-party company with which US Info Search had previously struck an information sharing agreement. Martin said that several years ago US Info Search and CourtVentures each agreed to grant the other company complete access to its stores of information on US consumers.
Founded in 2001, Court Ventures described itself as a firm that “aggregates, repackages and distributes public record data, obtained from over 1,400 state and county sources.” Cached, historic copies of courtventures.com are available through archive.org.
THE ROLE OF EXPERIAN
In March 2012, Court Ventures was purchased by Costa Mesa, Calif.-based Experian, one of the three major consumer credit bureaus. According to Martin, the proprietors of Superget.info had gained access to Experian’s databases by posing as a U.S.-based private investigator. In reality, Martin said, the individuals apparently responsible for running Superget.info were based in Vietnam.
Martin said he first learned of the ID theft service after hearing from a U.S. Secret Service agent who called and said the law enforcement agency was investigating Experian and had obtained a grand jury subpoena against the company.
While the private investigator ruse may have gotten the fraudsters past Experian and/or CourtVentures’ screening process, according to Martin there were other signs that should have alerted Experian to potential fraud associated with the account. For example, Martin said the Secret Service told him that the alleged proprietor of Superget.info had paid Experian for his monthly data access charges using wire transfers sent from Singapore.
“The issue in my mind was the fact that this went on for almost a year after Experian did their due diligence and purchased” Court Ventures, Martin said. “Why didn’t they question cash wires coming in every month? Experian portrays themselves as the databreach experts, and they sell identity theft protection services. How this could go on without them detecting it I don’t know. Our agreement with them was that our information was to be used for fraud prevention and ID verification, and was only to be sold to licensed and credentialed U.S. businesses, not to someone overseas.”
Experian declined multiple requests for an interview.
(click here to continue reading Experian Sold Consumer Data to ID Theft Service — Krebs on Security.)
so if your account was one of the unlucky ones, what was stolen?
These services specialized in selling “fullz” or “fulls,” a slang term that cybercrooks use to describe a package of personally identifiable information that typically includes the following information: an individual’s name, address, Social Security number, date of birth, place of work, duration of work, state driver’s license number, mother’s maiden name, bank account number(s), bank routing number(s), email account(s) and other account passwords. Fulls are most commonly used to take over the identity of a person in order to engage in other fraud, such as taking out loans in the victim’s name or filing fraudulent tax refund requests with the IRS.
All told, findget.me and superget.info acquired or sold fullz information on more than a half million people, the government alleges.
Why exactly do we as a society allow Experian and similar organizations collect this data in the first place? They accumulate the data, and sell it to advertisers, or to scammers, and what benefit does it bestow on us? Other than headache and grief…
especially when Experian will skip away from this investigation with nothing more than a slap on the wrist with a wet noodle…
Meanwhile, it’s not clear what — if any — trouble Experian may face as a result of its involvement in the identity theft scheme. This incident bears some resemblance to a series of breaches at ChoicePoint, a data aggregator that acted as a private intelligence service to government and industry. Beginning in 2004, ChoicePoint suffered several breaches in which personal data on American citizens was accessed by crooks who’d used previously stolen identities to create apparently legitimate businesses seeking ChoicePoint accounts. ChoicePoint was later sued by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, an action that produced a $10 million settlement — the largest in the agency’s history for a violation of federal privacy law.
Experian makes about $500,000,000 in profit a year, btw.
Good news, if this trend continues; Robert Parker’s taste in wine is not my taste in wine…
For much of the last 35 years, the wine critic Robert Parker dominated the international wine scene. Parker invented the 100-point rating system for wine, and his reviews wielded such influence over sales that vintners everywhere worked to please Parker’s palate, making oaky, intensely flavored, high-alcohol wines. Kermit Lynch, meanwhile, through his wine shop in Berkeley, Calif., and also through his nationwide distribution business, chose to sell only French and Italian wines made in the unadulterated, old-school traditional style aimed at accentuating terroir — each vineyard’s unique combination of weather, soil and geography.
…Find a good merchant and let her pick out four or five bottles and then give the wines a chance. Try to be open-minded when you taste. A lot of people say, “I don’t know much about wine, but I know what I like.” Maybe you don’t know what you like, because you just keep drinking the same style. The wine world is pretty vast and diverse, and it’s not marriage. You don’t have to be faithful to one style. So don’t impose your comparatively limited experience on every wine you encounter. Try to understand wine styles you’re not familiar with.
Right here in Berkeley, I found a great winemaker, Steve Edmunds, working with Rhone varietals. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised — I eat better in Berkeley than I do in France these days. My son now works for me, too, and he’s been talking about California wineries dropping the heavy-oak, heavy-alcohol style. He wants me to consider adding some to our portfolio, and I’ve given him the green light to scout around.
Q: Do you believe there are certain wines we should all be drinking? Or just that everybody should drink whatever they like?
A: Yeah — whatever you like, you should drink. But maybe you shouldn’t serve it to your friends.
(click here to continue reading Kermit Lynch Knows the Terroir – NYTimes.com.)
Scanned via a print
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Seth is slavin’ away in the greenhouse in Burkeville, TX, 1981/82, originally uploaded by swanksalot.
scanned from a print
We sold young plants to local stores, raising them from seeds in this greenhouse in the back yard of our house in Burkeville.
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Marty convinced me I should use Vine occasionally, so I’ve made a couple rank amateur posts to the service. Amusing, not deep. That is my motto after all.((irony alert))
If they auto play, I’ll shake my tiny fist at Marty…
Also a test to see if WordPress 3.7 is working correctly
Wolf Point, sunset
I added a color wash to this image, and am pleased how the mood changed.
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Shoring up the basement (put a piece of metal against the basement wall first, then these bricks).
I helped shovel sand and also put down a few bricks, but had to document the work first…
If you look at the colors carefully, you can tell I altered the balance towards the brick spectrum using a faux Technicolor technique in Photoshop; Enhanced the bricks at the expense of the green moss and bits of leaves.
I quite like how this turned out.
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Vintage sign from Toronto’s garment industry. Based on the clothing of the gentleman, how old would you guess it is? I’m guessing 1890s-1910, but I don’t know that much about men’s fashion history.
Walk-Over Shoes has been around a long, long time (though I don’t know how long in Toronto)
This plaster sign was in what used to be my bedroom in Frostpocket, and I dragged the (plaster?) sign out into the sun to get a good photo of it.
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Machar Township somewhere
Toned in Photoshop.
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Or rather, the remains of one
This truck traveled the continent a few times…
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Linda Ronstadt is one of those artists whose name is familiar, but I don’t have a deep understanding of their oeuvre. I own, and like, her California country-rock album Heart Like a Wheel, but I cannot say much about the rest of her output, other than Phillip K. Dick always raved about Ronstadt’s voice. That said, she sounds like an interesting cat, I’ll have to dig a bit deeper into her music.
Ms. Ronstadt was recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s, and acknowledged her singing career was over because of it. Stephen Deusner of Salon asked her a few questions…
SD: The descriptions of your childhood in Tucson are very poignant, but also very melancholy in the way the desert has changed culturally, geographically and especially politically.
When you’re desert born, you love the desert. It’s a harsh environment. People ask me why I don’t go where there are trees and streams and mountains. But when there are too many trees around me, I can’t see and I think somebody is going to sneak up on me. It makes me nervous. And I love the desert. I love those big, wide, sweeping vistas. During the time I was gone, developers came in and scraped it all away with bulldozers. They put up the ugliest tract houses you’ve ever seen, which aren’t built to last. They’ll be tomorrow’s slums because people won’t be able to live in those houses very long. They’re starting another Dust Bowl era by scraping away the topsoil. People don’t realize how serious that is. The Dust Bowl was the biggest natural cataclysm of the 20th century, and it’s starting again and no one’s taking an interest in it. They just continue to scrape off the topsoil and turn the desert into a wasteland.
Is there anything that can be done?
They have to stop scraping up topsoil. We lose in topsoil the equivalent of the size of Texas every single year. Without topsoil you can’t even grow any food. But people are making money and they’re greedy. There’s no regulation because the Republicans who control those areas don’t want any regulation on anything. They want developers to be allowed to operate in a completely unbridled manner and make as much money as they can — even if that means taking it from other people. That’s wrong. If we’re going to have capitalism, we have to carefully regulate it.
That sounds very similar to the fracking controversy in Appalachia, where they continue to use this technique despite its horrible consequences.
They’re going to do fracking in the Central Valley in California, and there won’t be any regulation. The pollution will get into the water and destroy the farmland. It’s a terrible thing to do, but people are only thinking in the short term and the Republicans are full of climate change deniers and science deniers. They don’t want to deal with inconvenient facts.
Early in “Simple Dreams,” you write very briefly about the immigration controversy in Arizona, comparing the border to the Berlin Wall.
What’s going on on the border is a disgrace. It’s just pure racism. They put the fence up as an affront to a country of incredibly rich cultural tradition. They didn’t put one up on the northern border. There’s no fence between the United States and Canada. So it’s just based on skin color. It’s racism.
Your diagnosis with Parkinson’s was so recent it didn’t even make it into the book. You’ve said that it has taken your voice. How else has it affected your day-to-day life?
I’m now experiencing life as a disabled person. It’s quite a shock. The hardest thing is that I just can’t get things done without depending on other people to help me. It’s hard to ask, and I feel like I’m always imposing. But I really am limited. Falling and choking are big danger for people with Parkinson’s. I’ve already had a couple of spills, and I don’t want to have any more. It’s not easy moving. You try to turn around, and you’ll fall down. So going through airports and just living in hotel rooms is difficult. When I came out on this press junket, I didn’t know how I was going to survive it, but it turns out I can do a little more than I thought I could. I won’t be doing it very much in the future. There is no cure. I don’t expect them to find a cure either, unless we get the Republicans the hell out of Congress so they stop holding up stem cell research. That’s what’s most promising in terms of finding a cure for diabetes, for Parkinson’s, for MS, for all kinds of things. It’s a shame to have to suffer from something that we don’t have to suffer from.That’s what’s most promising in terms of finding a cure for diabetes, for Parkinson’s, for MS, for all kinds of things. It’s a shame to have to suffer from something that we don’t have to suffer from.
(click here to continue reading Linda Ronstadt: “There are always predators around, and you have to keep an eye out for them” – Salon.com.)
and from Mary Jordan of the Washington Post:
A 67-year-old woman in a black hoodie stepped gingerly down from a golf cart at last weekend’s National Book Festival on the Mall. Battling Parkinson’s disease, she steadied herself with two walking sticks, and headed, one careful step at a time, toward the stage.
The applause started as a small ripple as the first few people in the audience spotted her. Then it grew into a full-throated ovation by more than 500 fans as she stepped up onto the stage, smiled shyly, and flashed the luminous chestnut eyes that made America fall in love with Linda Ronstadt.
“I guess I have friends here,” she said, to the roaring approval of a crowd that skewed a little gray, many still with a bit of a crush on the woman who sang such songs as “Blue Bayou” and “You’re No Good.”
As part of the festival program, I interviewed Ronstadt onstage about her new memoir, “Simple Dreams,” which focuses on her upbringing in a musical family in Tucson and the evolution of her career. One of America’s most popular recording artists of the 1970s and 1980s, she has been called the most versatile singer of her generation, a talent who could master rock and country and mariachi. Because of Parkinson’s, she’s no longer able to sing.
As we spoke before a crowd of fans, many of whom had lined up hours early, Ronstadt’s backstage shyness faded. Onstage, she seemed stronger, a force — and very funny.
“We weren’t all having orgies and smoking a big spliff,” she said, when I asked her to talk about the “sex-drugs-and-rock-and-roll” lifestyle we all associate with rock stardom. Those stories are exaggerated, she said, and her nightlife was often cuddling up with her stuffed panda reading “Anna Karenina.” She admits that she did drugs, like so many others in her orbit then. But she said they weren’t really her thing: “My addiction was to reading.”
The jet-set days, a different city every night, were not always glamorous. Her luggage often didn’t arrive in time for the next gig, so she kept a favorite striped dress rolled up in her purse. She even wore it on “The Johnny Cash Show” and tossed it only because it was made of a “strange synthetic material that kept shrinking and shrinking” after so many washings in hotel sinks.
Millions of men in were in love with Ronstadt, but she never said “I do” to any of them. “I’ve had lots of nice boyfriends,” she said, describing herself as a devotee of “serial monogamy.” And, then to the delight of the crowd, she added, “with emphasis on the ‘serial.’ ” She was faithful to one boyfriend at a time, but never to one for all time.
“It just wasn’t a requirement for me. I’m not gifted that way. I have great respect for people who do make those kinds of compromises and really build each other up. The only reason to be with somebody is that they make you a better person and you make them a better person.”
Ronstadt famously dated California Gov. Jerry Brown in the late 1970s; they appeared together on the cover of Newsweek. In her memoir she said he was unlike many of the men she met through her music: “He was smart and funny, not interested in drinking or drugs, and lived his life carefully, with a great deal of discipline.”
Ronstadt said she is not political, per se, but she is a Democrat who gets fired up about the immigration debate, which hits close to home. Her father’s family has Mexican roots, and she told me she has many relatives in northern Mexico and Mexico City.
(click here to continue reading Linda Ronstadt, coping with Parkinson’s, reflecting on life in memoir, ‘Simple Dreams’ – The Washington Post.)
News that won’t make Big Pharma happy…
Exercise is as effective as drugs at preventing diabetes and repeat heart attacks, and it is potentially better than medication for averting additional strokes, according to an analysis published Tuesday.
“Exercise is a potent strategy to save and extend life in coronary heart disease and other conditions,” said Mr. Naci, who also is a graduate student at the London School of Economics. “We think exercise can be considered or should be considered as a viable alternative or in combination with drug therapy.”
The study, published Tuesday in the British medical journal BMJ, analyzed data from published reviews of randomized clinical trials related to four health conditions—Type 2 diabetes, repeat heart attacks, repeat strokes and heart failure. About 14,700 participants were put on exercise programs and 324,000 were given medications across 305 trials after they had already suffered an event like a heart attack or stroke, or had some signs of heart failure or of developing a condition like diabetes.
The results showed that in three of the four conditions studied, exercise was as effective as, or possibly more effective than, drug treatments. This wasn’t the case for heart failure, a progressive weakening of the heart’s ability to pump blood to the rest of body. For this condition, some drugs like angiotensin converting enzyme, or ACE, inhibitors appeared to be more effective than exercise in preventing death.
(click here to continue reading Exercise as Good as Drugs at Preventing Repeat Heart Attack – WSJ.com.)
Selling America pills is a lot more lucrative than educating Americans about healthy living. If we really wanted to make a difference, we’d ban the use of automobiles in urban centers with large populations – force people to walk more, or bike, whatever. Never gonna happen…
A vintage Dodge of some sort (Town Panel, circa 1961-1966). There was a green paint on top of these letterings for many, many years, but the green paint has gradually flaked off, leaving the lettering exposed again.
I’ve uploaded a bunch of photos from my trip, here