Just a link dump, sorry, but this is a remarkable piece of writing:
If books are essentially vertebral, contributing to our sense of human uniqueness that depends upon bodily uprightness, digital texts are more like invertebrates, subject to the laws of horizontal gene transfer and nonlocal regeneration. Like jellyfish or hydra polyps, they always elude our grasp in some fundamental sense. What this means for how we
read—and how we are taken hold of by what we read—is still far from clear.
Since John Ballard has gone silent after a burst of energy, it's time for some Random Thoughts & Idle Chatter and what better way is there than turning to cat antics? Here is a photo and a video of cats doing ... well whatever it is that cats do.
What appealed to me particularly about the photo is that the feline duo here are doppelgangers of my erstwhile cat companions, Raja and Ali.
I have seen cats do the darndest things but never sitting like this for so long!
Didn't Mitt Romney know that if he ran for the highest office of the nation, his personal taxes were going to be of some interest to voters and the media? Of course he did. But for some reason Romney has decided that it may do less harm to his candidacy if he were to brazen it out by not disclosing but a minuscule portion of his past tax returns than allow Americans to get a glimpse of his finances. His secretiveness has naturally given rise to much speculation as it deviates from the norm set by most past presidential candidates, including Romney's own father, of disclosing several years worth of tax documents. One thought is that the Romneys, despite their enormous wealth, may have paid very low taxes over the years compared to the average wage earner with far less income. It has also been suggested that there may have been some years when Romney paid no taxes.
Senator Harry Reid of Nevada dropped a bombshell recently by declaring publicly that he has learnt from a reliable source that indeed Romney paid zero taxes for ten years during a period from the late 1990s to the early 2000s. Romney challenged Reid to reveal his source ("put up or shut up") and some Republican congressmen have called the Democratic Senate Majority Leader a liar. But as of yesterday, Reid was sticking by his assertions, adding that his source is a Republican with inside knowledge of Bain Capital, Romney's company. Now there is speculation about the identity of Reid's "source." The Daily Kosis reporting that it may be one of the two Huntsmans - father & son, both Jon, both ex-governors of Utah and Junior a past rival of Romney for the GOP presidential ticket. (If true, this may turn out to be a high power Mormon conspiracy / grudge fest. Reid, the Huntsmans and Romney are all Mormons. The Huntsmans are said to be friendly with Democrat Reid but can't stand Romney, their own party's candidate)
Whatever we find out (or don't) about Romney's tax returns between now and November, may be up to how much pressure the media and the Obama campaign can bring to bear on the Romney camp and the latter's ability to withstand it. But for now, it doesn't look like Romney has made a coherent or convincing case as to why he should not make more of his tax returns public. Here is a report in the Washington Post.
The man who once said “corporations are people” apparently doesn’t believe the inverse.
Bloomberg asked Romney whether, if he was investing in a company, he would want to see more than two years of financial reports, likening that process to the American people electing a president. But Romney suggested the standards aren’t the same for people and businesses.
“I’m not a business,” he said. “We have a process in this country, which was established by law, which provides for the transparency which candidates are required to meet. I have met with that requirement with full financial disclosure of all my investments, but in addition have provided and will provide a full two years of tax returns.”
This is the candidate who, almost exactly one year ago, got into a somewhat-heated exchange with a heckler in Iowa in which Romney made that case that “corporations are people” — that is, what happens to corporations affects the people who work for them.
“Of course they are,” Romney said at the time. “Everything corporations earn also goes to people.”
So according to Romney, a person is not a business but a business is a person for tax purposes. Ah well. I guess that can be defined as opportunistic logic. I have been wondering about something else. During this time when hot words are being exchanged between Reid, Romney and some GOP politicians, one prominent Republican who may know more about this matter than anyone outside Bain Capital's accounting office, has maintained total silence. John McCain had vetted Romney as a possible running mate in 2008 at which time he examined twenty three years worth of Romney's tax returns. McCain has not said a word against Reid or in favor of Romney.
Never mind that in Marin County, California one can qualify for affordable housing with an income of $88,800. Some residents worried that George Lucas' original plans would “pose a serious and alarming threat to the nature of our valley and our community,” “dwarf the average Costco warehouse” and generate light pollution so that “our dark starry skies would be destroyed.” But now that Lucas' proposed new plan has been revealed, the denizens of this exclusive neighborhood are beginning to see stars during day light hours. The famed director, the richest resident of Marin County, is being blamed for inciting class warfare by his neighbors.
Just stumbled upon this marvelously loopy interview with the head of a Swiss Federal Ethics Committee. Said committee issued guidelines in 2008 pertaining to the dignity of plants. In Switzerland it is now permissible to harm plants, say for agriculture, but not to cause them arbitrary harm. An example of the latter: consider someone who casually decapitates some wildflowers on the road side.
The issue has come about because Swiss lawmakers and citizens were worried about the potential dangers of genetic technologies, and passed a law requiring that the dignity of creatures be considered in research. Unfortunately, they seem not to have adequately considered that plants are quite creaturely in their own way. Hence guidelines about how you might respect plant dignity, in research and more broadly. Nature went to the trouble of writing an editorial - as you might expect, plant biologists in Switzerland are flummoxed.
Believe it or not there is a blog devoted entirely to this unusual subject. The comments accompanying the images may be on the juvenile side but the paintings are real.
More than a decade ago, my sister and I suffered from paroxysms of hysterical laughter in front of a Biblical painting containing an incongruously mature looking Baby Jesus in Mary's lap. The infant reminded us of an adult of our acquaintance. Our faces red and tears running down our cheeks by the efforts to suppress the hilarity we attracted the attention of a museum guard nearby who looked askance at our unseemly behavior. We evaded eviction by quickly moving on to another gallery.
There may be a cultural / religious explanation for why indeed some of the babies in Madonna paintings were so homely. I do not know and neither does the blogger as is clear from the following comment on page 3.
chicagonorth asked: it's inaccurate to call this "ugly Renaissance babies," because most of the images are from Byzantine/Medieval/Proto-Renaissance periods...
This is very true! Though, in our defense, a blog called “Ugly Byzantine/Medieval/Proto-Renaissance Babies” doesn’t really have the same ring to it.
Regardless of the specifics, I think we can all agree that ugly babies are both timeless and hilarious.
Perhaps someone with knowledge of this artistic phenomenon will leave an explanation in the comments section. (link via Anna Levine)
Time Travel News Network (TTNN): Thursday, November 24, 2011, 0200 hours EST
'Pepper Spray Cop' of UC Davis goes back in time to make things right (Norman Costa)
Scientists are hailing the 'first of its kind' opportunity to go back in time and undo a terrible mistake. Lt. John Pike, now known as the infamous 'Pepper Spray Cop of U.C. Davis,' went back in time to change the way he handled the breakup of a peaceful student protest. It was not something he planned on, but, a freak accident gave him the opportunity for a do-over, and be the first human to travel back in time.
Immediately after Pike was suspended, he fled to Europe to avoid the press and aggressive process servers. Quickly, he got a job as a security guard at a scientific research lab in Switzerland. The accident happened on Wednesday, November 23, 2011 at 1650 hours, GMT. He walked into an area where neutrino research was underway. Officer Pike thought he was going into a utility room for HVAC. He walked directly in front of a massively energized neutrino beam and vanished from sight.
Two days ago Lt. John Pike gave a press conference to explained what happened today. He said he was dazed for a short time before realizing he had traveled back in time to about 3 days before the pepper straying incident at UC Davis. He went to an airport, immediately, to fly back to Davis. After a complication regarding his frequent flier miles – he hadn't yet flown from California to Switzerland so his mileage had not been recorded – he was issued a ticket and flew home.
We at TTNN received a video tape, three days ago, of Pike's 're-do' of handling the protest. We were stunned when we saw it, and we concluded it was a some kind of hoax and threw it out, but not before transcribing the audio. With the benefit of hindsight – actually time travel – we changed our minds and will now read the transcript of the audio portion.
May I have your attention. I am Lt. John Pike, Supervising Officer of the Security Police at UC Davis. My officers and I are a legitimate law enforcement and peace keeping force under the Constitution of the State of California. We have the same powers of arrest, enforcement, and investigation that other police units have in California.
We respect and will protect your rights to protest and assembly. However, some of you are blocking a passage that is usually used for pedestrian traffic for members of the university and others. You can continue your peaceful demonstration 15 yards in that direction, and avoid blocking other people who are exercising their rights to come and go on this campus.
My superior in the University Administration directed me to clear the pedestrian traffic areas blocked by this demonstration. I am empowered to give you a lawful order to move out of the pedestrian traffic flow. Before I have to do that, I am asking you to move, of your own accord, 15 yards to your right. If you do not, then I have the legal authority to order you to disperse. If you do not obey a lawful order from the police, you are subject to physical removal by my officers, and being arrested.
I am now giving you a lawful order, for the third time, to disperse and clear the pedestrian traffic area. In a moment I will give my officers the order to clear you from the area. Before I do that, I want to tell you how it is going to work. First, there will be no use of tear gas, pepper spray, billy clubs or truncheons. You have not been violent, so there is no need for us to use that kind of force. The officers will separate you, one at a time, handcuff you, and take you to a staging area over there. You will be photographed, and then issued an appearance summons. That means you must appear before a judge and explain yourself. After a period of time you will be released from your handcuffs and you will be free to go.
If you do not release your arm locks with each other, my officers will have to use physical force to separate you. We do not wish to cause you harm, and I do not want any harm to come to my officers. However, my officers will have to pry your arms and fingers loose. We will not use any more force than is necessary. When my officers approach you they will tap you on the shoulder. That is your command to release your hold, stand up, and go with the officer to the staging area. If you do not respond to this command then the officers will pry you loose and take you forcefully.
If you struggle against my officers, or you attempt to use any force on them, they will subdue you on the spot, put you to the ground, cuff you, and you will be arrested and brought to jail. We do not want to do this. We appreciate that you have been peaceful in your protest. This is your last chance to remove yourself from the pedestrian traffic area.
Officers, clear the protesters from this area and take them into custody as planned.
So there you have it – two of the strangest confrontations of police and protesters in history, and in history. There was another complication in this matter, one that pleased the many arrested protesters. Yesterday was the first day of the scheduled hearings before a judge. The court was thrown into disarray and confusion for most of the session. The one-time protesters presented their appearance tickets, but there was nothing on the docket, and there were no records of the summonses being issued. A number of UC Davis police officers were called into court to verify the arrests. The surprised officers could not recall making any arrests on the day in question. This went on for several more days until all 87 arrested protesters presented themselves in court. The judge sent everyone home.
NYC Mayor Bloomberg Clears Out Wall Street Executives (Norman Costa)
Future News Network (FNN), December 5, 2011, 6:35 pm EST:
New York City Mayor, Michael R. Bloomberg, defended his decision to clear out the top executives of the finance, banking, insurance, and investment companies who have a presence in the Wall Street area of lower Manhattan.
At a press conference that ended only moments ago, Mayor Bloomberg justified the raids on corporate offices that began this morning at 10:00 am, EST.
Over 600 middle and upper level executives were expelled from their offices, with approximately 387 being arrested for a variety of charges including disorderly conduct, refusal to comply with a lawful order, and assaulting a police officer.
Twelve police officers and as many as 32 executives were taken to local hospitals for injuries related to the police operation, and at least one police officer is in serious condition after being struck in the face with an executive's Stueben Glass award statue that was on her desk.
One week ago Bloomberg released a statement apologizing for ordering the expulsion of peaceful OWS demonstrators from Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan in the early morning hours of November 15, 2011.
He said he had, "...and epiphanial moment, and personal spiritual awakening, after realizing that the demonstrators were the real victims, and that the perpetrators of suffering and loss for the entire country were unscrupulous, immoral, and greedy corporate executives."
The Mayor went on to say that, "...corporate America, as a whole, contributes greatly to our society and economy, but these leeches want all the blood they can get their hands on, even if they don't need it."
When questioned about the legality of ordering the raids on executive offices, Bloomberg said he was taking a moral stand against the kind of greed that inflicts suffering on so many people.
Mayor Bloomberg refused to comment about learning, two weeks ago, that four of his grand nieces and nephews were ruined by the financial collapse, and that one had committed suicide, leaving a widow and three orphans.
Neutrino detector: You're early. When did you leave? Neutrino: In about 5 minutes.
Neutrino: Do what? Neutrino detector: How did you do that?
NEUTRINO DETECTORS ARE DEEP UNDERGROUND, SUBMERSED IN WATER.
Water molecule: What's going on? Neutrino detector: Nothing. Water molecule: You look like you're standing around waiting for something to happen. Neutrino detector: Yup!
Neutrino 1: Nice day to travel. Neutrino 2: Sure is. Neutrino 1: I could do this forever. Neutrino 2: Yeah, me too. Neutrino 1: You see how cleanly we passed through Mars? Neutrino 2: Like a hot knife through butter. Neutrino 1: Imagine, the chance of this trip being interrupted is so infinitesimally small. Neutrino 2: You got that right. Neutrino 1: In fact, you could...BAM...Son of a bitch!
Supervisor of neutrino detector crew: OK, who's the joker who released a bunch of fire flies in here?
MORE QUANTUM RELATIVITY
Observer 1: Your time is dilating. Observer 2: No. Your time is dilating. Observer 1: Not from where I'm standing.
Paradox Twin 1: You've aged. Paradox Twin 2: No, you've aged. Paradox Twin 1: Excuse me? You're older. Paradox Twin 2: No, excuse me, old man.
"Time, time, time is on my side, yes it is." Recorded in 1964 by Mick Jagger in anticipation of the 60th anniversary of Special Relativity the following year.
Spouse arrives home: Honey, my wave function just collapsed.
Beginning of a poem: I shot an arrow into the future.
Q. Where will you be? A. Here, there, and everywhere.
Mr. Time: What are you trying to do? You know you cannot reach the speed of light. Mr. Velocity: Just slow down, will you.
Mr. Length: Hey! You are never going to get to the speed of light. Mr. Velocity: Don't get short with me.
Mother and daughter speak simultaneously. Mother: I know you took my best silk blouse to wear tonight, so put it back in my closet. Daughter: I hate you. You are always entangling me. That's not fair.
Angry impatient Mom: Listen Mister, I want straight answers from you. You tell me where you are going, but you do not tell who will be with you. Or else you tell me you are going out with Darnell, but you do not tell me where you are going. The most I ever get from you is a vague idea of where you are going and a vague idea who is going with you.
I cannot be in two places at the same time. Liar, I know you can.
Q. Come on, tell me. I'd like to know. Are we going to have sex tonight or are you going to have another head ache? A. I really do not know. You will know, tonight, when you open the door to our bedroom.
Photon, listen to me. I said go though the slot on the right. You are all over the place.
Q. What is your favorite romantic song? A. "Chances Are," sung by Johnny Mathis.
Q. Time, what is the matter with you? A. Oh, it is one thing after another. Q. Time, why don't you take the weekend off? A. I can't. Otherwise, everything happens all at once.
String theory is the best. You have to prove it to me. I don't have to prove it to you. Yes, you have to. Have not. Have to. Have not. Have to.
Apropos of the recent birth of Dean's daughter -- which, if I recall, now makes two kids -- here's a hilarious illustrated story about kids frightening themselves by telling scary stories to themselves and their younger siblings.
Here is a very interesting take on the new biography of Mahatma Gandhi's life, by Joseph Lelyveld. Paul Rudnick writes a humor piece in the Shouts & Murmurs column of "The New Yorker," April 11, 2011. His column, "I Was Gandhi's Boyfriend," begins:
"I know that some people still don’t buy that Gandhi was gay, but let me tell you, from experience, Gandhi liked guys. I first met him when he came to see my ice show in Nepal, which was called “Holiday on Dirt.” Gandhi came backstage and he told me, “I very much enjoyed watching you pretend to ice-skate, in your tight pants.” I asked him, “Um, so why are you wearing a diaper?” And he explained that his outfit was a traditional Indian dhoti, and I said, “Well, you look like the New Year’s baby.” And he said, “You are so handsome when you are not speaking.""
It is certainly humor. But who or what is the object of the humor? Is it Gandhi? The critics? Is it another way of saying, "So what!"? Or is it direspectful? Be sure to read our own Sujatha's "Seizing the Truth," for another view on the book and the reactions in India.
But if there are several dozen things America loves, they are war, torture, genocide, chattel slavery, apartheid, ethnic cleansing, assassination, poverty, institutionalized bribery, remote-controlled flying death robots and somewhere down the list, between prison labor and lagoons of toxic pig shit, there is almost certainly a special place in our national heart for freedom.
And so it is that the United States is fighting to free the Libyan people from the Libyan people by killing the Libyan people. The situation is fairly straightforward, after all - Libya faces a humanitarian crisis, and the only way to address a humanitarian crisis is to bomb it with hundreds of cruise missiles. I'm told that the Red Cross still delivers bottled water and medical supplies by duct-taping them to the nose cone of an outgoing Tomahawk.
That's just an excerpt; click over to read the whole thing.
I don't know how to characterize this story except as a stubborn (and hilarious) philosophical debate.. That this is a real life event and tax payer funds are involved, makes it excruciating. (h/t Leo Lincourt)
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- What is a photocopier?
That seems like such a simple question.
But last year, a lawyer in a public-records case being heard by the Ohio Supreme Court had a hard time getting a $64,000-a-year Cuyahoga County worker to say whether the county recorder's office had a photocopier.
The effort consumes nearly 10 pages of a court transcript.
The overall case is about whether deeds and other records at the county recorder's office -- records that were collected and are maintained with your taxes -- should be readily available at reasonable cost.
The lawyers involved in the casesay the question about the photocopier is technical, getting at an arcane point of law.
On the 27th of January, while driving through Mozang (an extremely crowded section of Lahore city) in a rented Honda Civic, American citizen RaymondDavis shot two men who were riding a motorcycle. Soon afterwards, another vehicle that was racing to (presumably) rescue Mr. Davis, ran over a third person and killed him too. These seem to be the only undisputed facts about the event. Shortly afterwards, Pakistani TV channels showed one of the dead men with a revolver and an ammunition belt around his waist. It was also claimed that the two men were carrying several mobile phones and possible some other stolen items. But soon after the event, the story began to change. From a robbery attempt gone bad, it morphed into Mr. Davis assassinating two young men without obvious cause. Raymond’s own status was immediately in dispute and within a few days the network of websites that is thought to represent the views of Pakistan’s deep state were stating that Davis was a CIA agent, he was being tailed by the ISI and he had shot two ISI agents. They also claimed Davis was working with the “bad Taliban” to do bad things in Pakistan, while trying to spy on the “good Taliban” and other virtuous jihadist organizations like the LET.
Mention of Jewish mothers on a recent post reminded me of a story so titled :
They say that four Jewish mothers got together in heaven. As they couldn't leave well enough alone, the conversation was all about their sons. - I can't complain, said the first. My son, to this day, brings me only happiness. A saint! And on Earth, because of him, everyone just talks of charity, virtue and goodwill. - And your son is ... ? asked the second. - Jesus Christ! said the first. And, leaning forward, in a confidential tone, gesturing about her, The boss of all this! - Isn't that his father? - Welll - let's say it's in the family. - Now, joy - it's my son who brings me joy, said the second mother. Ach, how proud I am of him. On Earth, because of him, everyone only speaks of justice, social change and the solidarity amongst men. - What's his name? - Karl. Karl Marx. - Mmmm, said the others, pursing their lips. - The shnuga, sighed the mother of Marx, recalling the name she called her baby. - And my son? said the third mother. The professor! This would surely make any mother happy. Inteeelligent! A brain! On Earth, because of him, everyone talks of the Universe, relativity, black holes ... - Who is he? - Albie. - Albie? - Einstein! - Aaah! The fourth mother had nothing to say, and the other three drew around her. - I don't want to say anything because you'll grow envious of me, she said. - Speak! - What a son! - Who is he? - A doctor. - And what is it that he did? - Because of him, on Earth, everyone only talks of mothers. And the mother of Freud started smiling, leaving the other three in admiration of her. - That's my boy!
The recent murder of Salman Taseer and the subsequent glorification of his killer by some parties has set a few Pakistanis on the path to creative writing. A few days ago I posted a story from Ahmed Asif and today we have another Asif stepping up to the plate...may their tribe increase.
Meanwhile, yet another Asif has also taken up the topic. This one is a well known Pakistani "analyst", a retired army officer who is said to represent the views of the "deep state"....his humor may be un-intentional, but it is no less hilarious..