We cheat our children because

Recently I’m thinking there are two candidates. Authoritarians and Libertarians. Others will win. Others will win because they feed the nearest. Rome and England taught us that. Ireland and Germany much later. Mexico and San Diego, if you care. Those nearest favors are winners. But they are not leaders.

Leaders are not winners. America proves it. Of wealthy bankers, for example, you know nothing. Of political planners, another example, you know nothing. Of military, you know nothing. Of drugs, your foolishness. Of pride, your shame.

Yo! 2008

Celtic, 'As it is in Heaven'I feel sorry for today’s politicians. They are merely branding beneath thinking. Terrible but true. We will forget them. I pity today’s corporate executive. Error will be writ to them. Though few knew. Soldiers will not be forgotten. Blood is sticky. Anyone will tell you where bureaucrats go. Petty is a cruelty. If we deserve ourselves, pathology will be the new obesity. Revenge will not begin. I can do that. Hate will stay a desert.

These are the last years of dark humanity. Goodness will be fashion; the craft of willingness. We will tread lightly across our world. I cannot imagine the pride we’ll celebrate! Why do I know these things? I am a child surviving. Creed not greed can taunt me. With you or not, I select a grand tomorrow. There. It’s said.

Smile. You’re on Politics.

Nations too weak and cannot help the toothlessTen percent of Kentucky has no teeth.

Half the children have cavities.

Dental pain is the leading cause of missed school.

There’s a black market for bootleg dentures.

DIY extractions with pliers and peroxide. Few dentists.

Bush reduced Medicaid dental payments to 1/2 reimbursement.

West Virginia is worse. [revealing story at nytimes]

Celebrity Amy Wimehouse is toothlessCelebrities are toothless.
Politicians are toothless.

Civilization is toothless.

Smiles may be important.
One quarter of us have zero friends.

General Social Survey [pdf]

Prof. Lynn Smith-Lovin, Duke University [abstract]

[washington post]
[boston globe]

Employee Monitoring Breakthrough

New Group Monitoring System Patent
Industry analysts have recently learned that a company or the government can now automatically determine if employees are paying attention to their work.

bioanalytical brain chipBy scanning an employee’s brain and body while at work, a new enterprise productivity analysis device will continually update project performance analysis based on real-time measurement of workforce and employee focus and concentration to determine if employees are meeting project deadlines.

Microsoft’s formal description of the new workplace monitoring technology is described in their United States Patent Application No. 20070300174 as:

“An activity monitoring system that facilitates managing and optimizing user activity automatically to improve overall user productivity and efficiency comprising:

  • means for monitoring user activity conducted on one or more computing devices;

  • means for processing and evaluating user activity data to assess user performance on their respective activities and the current allocation of system and human resources;
  • means for detecting that a user needs assistance with a target activity; and
  • means for selecting at least one assisting user to assist the user with the target activity based on an analysis of the assisting user and the target activity.”

Generally in two parts, a brain- and body-based monitoring component plus a group activity management component, the installations will 1) process and evaluate user activity data in real time to assess user performance and 2) evaluate an employee’s current and projected allocation of system and human resources.

In its patent documents for a unique monitoring system announced December 27, 2007, Microsoft’s employee detection and productivity evaluation system is comprised of ‘one or more physiological or environmental sensors‘ to detect at least one of the following from each employee,

  1. heart rate,
  2. galvanic skin response,
  3. EMG,
  4. brain signals,
  5. respiration rate,
  6. body temperature, movement,
  7. facial movements,
  8. facial expressions, and
  9. blood pressure.

Reaction in the Workforce
Office workers and contract employees around the world are actively seeking updated information to shield themselves from the latest workplace monitoring systems soon to be installed by employers.

In its recent brief, the employment law firm of Hirem, Scanimall and Letemgough is seeking to squelch or reverse ‘monitoring of the employee brain or biological process while at work‘. The firm is claiming that monitoring of the employee’s brain and/or body and/or internal physical or chemical process in real-time shall constitute excessive and unwarranted employer sanctioned workplace intrusion.

But employers and outsource contract firms seem eager to install this new category of management devices. An activity monitoring system will assist the employer in, as Microsoft states, “managing and optimizing user activity automatically to improve overall user productivity and efficiency”.

Protection and Countermeasures
Portable Faraday Executive SuiteFor managers and on-site productivity consultants, a prototype Faraday Executive Suite is being tested at Workforce Fields and Zones Laboratories Inc. that architects will include in construction specifications for sites installing scanning-based employee monitoring.

For employees, ZPIntradomain is following the progress of a scanning counter-signal device that may protect employees from workplace brain monitoring systems. In the newest patent, an energy amplifier for employees based on a co-gravitational K field that will generate a proficiency-indicating activity amplification K-Wave to be directed over wireless signal toward the employer’s monitoring system.

An Albany, N.Y. firm has launched the $169 SilverTex 2-part RF shielding full body garment using interwoven threads of very fine copper and silver to block employee monitoring systems. Wiki has information about related devices to help shield the brain from electromagnetic fields that might be used in workplace brain and body monitoring systems.

Tons per trinket

Small dumptruck graphicEvery 1 kg of gold in your hand required 540,000 kg of raw material input, more than 99 truckloads. There’s not enough coffee in the world to help me calculate how many buckets of materials were moved for a typical watch or wedding band.

Polyethylene only requires 5 pounds of resources per pound of end material. Copper needs 356 kg/kg, stainless steel 23 kg/kg. Virgin aluminum’s 66 kg/kg; recycled aluminum is just 1.2 pounds per pound.

WorldChanging has published a detailed article about resource utilization and how we rely on a basket of elements each day, Your Stuff: If It Isn’t Grown, It Must Be Mined. The USGS (United States Geological Survey) quoted these measurements showing that each American is using over 48,000 pounds of minerals each year:

* 12,428 lb. of stone
* 9,632 lb. of sand and gravel
* 940 lb. of cement
* 276 lb. of clays
* 400 lb. of salt
* 302 lb. phosphate rock
* 639 lb. of nonmetals
* 425 lb. of iron ore
* 77 lb. of bauxite (aluminum)
* 17 lb. of copper
* 11 lb. of lead
* 10 lb. of zinc
* 6 lb. of manganese
* .0285 T oz. gold
* 29 lb. of other metals, as well as,
* 7,667 lb. petroleum
* 7,589 lb. coal
* 6,866 natural gas
* 1/3 lb. uranium

If we’re near peak oil, what about minerals and ore?

Though necessarily crude, this timeline and article from NewScientist posted a (full version here) is an attempt to audit elements we need and their rate of use. A larger version of the graphic below is here.

Materials left on earth

To push up a tree

While updating a more comprehensive post at The Greening of Dying, I found these new snippets among increasing criticism of conventional cemetery burial.

  • A ten-acre swatch of cemetery ground will contain enough coffin wood to construct more than 40 homes, nearly a thousand tons of casket steel and another twenty thousand tons of concrete for vaults.

  • Across North America enough metal is diverted into coffin and vault production each year to build the Golden Gate Bridge, and enough concrete is used to build a two-lane highway from Toronto to Montreal… and back again. [632 miles!]
  • On or in our corpse, we bury disinfectant, germicide, skin hardener, skin softener, gas adsorbent, lip glue, posture and jaw pins, eyeball splints, pimple bleach and phenols, hair gel, lipstick and cosmetics, photographs, notes, cards, keys, jewelery, figurines, guitars or other favorite items, plus nearly a million gallons of embalming fluid every year in North America – formaldehyde, methanol, ethanol, coloring dye, and other compounds, some of which eventually leach into surrounding soil and groundwater [wiki], along with a varying dosage of late-life pharmaceuticals.

A Green Burial Portal
An effort toward ecological burial seems better for us and for our environment. The Natural Burial Co-operative, Center for Natural Burial is vigorously retrieving data and posting trends about natural cemeteries. The Co-operative has built a map hack that points to operating and proposed natural sites in both the USA and Canada. Their short report on conventional burial reveals another important consideration too: “The whole operation will take less than a week and cost your heirs and family more than the price of a new car.”

cemetery signAnd incidentally, a little morbidity can make you happy: The British Psychological Society noticed that thinking about our own death and other morbid scenes may help trigger happiness!

Yes, thoughts of death turn to joy. We are so afraid of our own mortality, we have a natural tendency to quickly turn to comforting thoughts.

“Death is a psychologically threatening fact, but when people contemplate it, apparently the automatic system begins to search for happy thoughts,” the researchers said. “Moreover, this occurs immediately and outside of awareness”.

Shopping is killing Democracy

Benjamin BarberWith shopping at the top of the social activity ladder, with corporations penetrating at every level, human community suffers and our society fails.

Bill Moyers is discussing consumer society with Benjamin Barber, Fellow at the USC Center on Public Diplomacy.

“Democracy means pluralism.

“If everything’s religion, we rightly distrust it.

“If everything’s politics, even in good politics, we rightly distrust it.

“But when everything’s marketing and everything’s retail and everything’s shopping, we somehow think that enhances our freedom. Well, it doesn’t. It has the same corrupting effect on the fundamental diversity and variety that are our lives, that make us human, that make us happy. And, in that sense, focusing on shopping and the fulfillment of private consumer desires actually undermines our happiness.”

Does Consumerism Degrade Democracy?

Who’s paying your doctor?

Around the world “gifts” to doctors from drug companies include school fees, cars, even down payments on homes.

Scientific American is asking if there’s an undue influence on doctors’ prescribing habits. Consumers International says they’ve documented that 50 percent of the drugs in the developing world are what they call irrationally prescribed.

I’m asking, “As our institutions become thieves, what are we doing?”

Innovation happens at intersections.

Krebs, Cleveland is disconnectedLocal leaders have been thinking about why Cleveland isn’t growing even though it has several industrial strengths and “attractive qualities such as the arts, cultural attractions, recreational opportunities, and professional sports teams.”

So why isn’t Cleveland growing?

Valdis Krebs replies, “Maybe, it is lacking links — the interconnections between clusters of knowledge and ability that make things happen and get things done in today’s economy.”

As illustrated in his ‘social graph’ of Cleveland, the economy is many players, many islands, few intersections…

In contrast, Silicon Valley’s successful economy is many players, no islands, many intersections…

Krebs, Silicon Valley is connectedThe strengths of Cleveland’s economy are disconnected while the culture and infrastructure of the Valley shows that its new economy is growing from the strength of its connections.

As Krebs is comparing Cleveland to Silicon Valley, he’s clearly pointing to the current challenges and the requirements of community leadership, “It’s the connections, stupid!”.

USA motto is a cause of national conflict

“A short time elapsed after the death of the great reformer of the Jewish religion, before his principles were departed from by those who professed to be his special servants, and perverted into an engine for enslaving mankind, and aggrandizing their oppressors in Church and State.” – Thomas Jefferson

“During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity, in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution.” – James Madison

“This would be the best of all possible worlds, if there were no religion in it!” – John Adams

Fear and anti-communist propaganda altered much of the American civic culture, much as the war on terror and religious campaigning is today . For example, since 1782, E Pluribis Unum was the nation’s motto – Latin for ‘one out of many’. But during Joseph McCarthy’s reign of terror the phrase was changed to ‘In God We Trust’, inserted into the Pledge of Allegiance and first printed on currency after 1964. In today’s mixture of dominionists, charasmatics, evangelicals and authoritarians more fearful of persecution or dilution than the likelihood of terror, our next motto might become ‘one nation under surveillance’!

Following previous similar claims against Congress, California’s Michael Newdow has launched a new effort to remove “under God” from the pledge. [story of lawsuit] [and more than 200 comments]

Newdow’s new lawsuit asserts that the phrase ‘under God’ is fostering conflict:

“By placing the religious words ‘under God’ into the Pledge, Congress not only interfered with the patriotism and national unity the Pledge was meant to engender, but it actually fostered divisiveness … in a manner expressly forbidden by the Constitution.”

After the Civil War, the Pledge of Allegiance helped encourage a unified nation. Here are the handwritten words of its author Francis Bellamy.

The Pledge of Allegiance written in the hand of its author, Francis Bellamy.

On ‘real reporting’

“But on the overall issue of “real reporting,” the wonder and beauty of journalism and the First Amendment are that they don’t qualify the press, because the press cannot be controlled or confined by any form of legal definition.

For the press to BE the press, it must reflect the nature of those who are drawn to the trade — curious, rebellious, skeptical, resistant-to-authority, tenacious, creative, and resourceful people — not the type prone to any sort of conformist license.

Who is a reporter?
We’re all reporters.
Who does journalism?
We all do journalism.

Our audiences and approaches may be different than those who wish to set and maintain the information agenda in any community (or country), but no one has the right to say that your form of journalism is any more “real” than mine.

And so I feel, once again, compelled to state that the institutional, “professional” press in this country is the fruit of Walter Lippmann’s social engineering dreams, that democracy can only work if an educated elite (press included) leads the riffraff that is everybody else.”

“The phrase is ‘real reporting’, as differentiated, I suppose, from dishonest, fake, false, feigned, imaginary, imitation, invalid, unreal, or untrue reporting.” More from Terry Heaton.

Hunger is the waste of us

Jonathan Bloom has noticed in his Wasted Food blog that America wastes almost half its food. Farms, businesses, institutions and restaurants can capture and make use of much more food from their waste stream.

The Chicago Tribune tells us that an average-sized hotel purchases more products in a week than 100 families will in a year. That heavy purchasing, much of which is food, leads to great waste.

The California Integrated Waste Management Board says that the lodging industry in California generates 112,000 tons of food waste, 2 percent of the state’s annual total.

When we think of a person in the U.S. who is hungry, we tend to think of an unkempt homeless person with a drug or alcohol problem. However, the truth is that hunger in America is pervasive. While 36 million Americans live in poverty and struggle to get enough food, half are children, EndHunger points out that 96 billion pounds of food are wasted each year. Up to 25% is sanitary, edible and ready to distribute.

  • 263,013,699 pounds of food wasted each day…
  • 10,958,904 pounds wasted each hour…
  • 182,648 pounds wasted each minute…
  • 3,044 pounds of food wasted in America each second!

The Conference of Mayors reported a few years ago that one in four children do not eat regular meals each day because of lack of food in their home. Of those seeking emergency food assistance, 67% have an income of $10,000 or less. Of these individuals, 49% are working full time. Over 10% of Americans 65 years of age and older live in poverty. While more than 85% of food stamps are for children and elders, the average amount of money that food stamp recipients receive per meal is $0.96. [more facts here]

It seems an average family discards as much as 45 pounds per month. Along with many cities seeking to control land fills by producing compost or biogas, Seattle will require by 2009 that all single family homes to recycle their food scraps. A common solution is three bins where food scraps are discarded in new ‘green waste’ containers along with lawn and plant waste.

A ‘conversation project’ in San Francisco called Replate is encouraging folks to leave doggie bags outside restaurants for homeless people to eat. The project says:

“Hey, if you live in an area where homeless people dig through the trash for food, then consider this: Next time just set your leftovers on top of the trash can instead of in it. This may not work, but let’s try to expose this whole hunger issue a little more.”

Now the other half of the conversation about hunger:

“I have no heart for somebody who starves his folks.” – George W. Bush on North Korean leader Kim Jong Il and donated US food exports. CNN January 2, 2003

The US has the highest child poverty rate of any industrialized nation while this Administration wasted at least $146 million over a one-year period on business- and first-class airline tickets, in some cases simply because they felt entitled to the perk.

And George W. Bush is merely reshaping failure while tweaking propaganda and eliminating the word ‘hunger’ from official documents! Can you believe it?

U.S. Stops Describing Americans as “Hungry”
In news from Washington, the Bush administration has stopped using the words “hunger” or “hungry” when describing the millions of Americans who can’t afford to eat!

Instead of suffering from hunger, the Agriculture Department now says these people are experiencing… “very low food security“.

A comment concludes,

“Bush would throw in the word ‘security’ just about anywhere on anything.”

Eat this!
Incidentally, Agriculture Department food stamps cost $28 billion each year [wiki]. Sharyl Attkisson of CBS noticed that the Air Force alone warehouses almost $19 billion in ‘absolute waste’ in spare parts it will never use and often throws away before it’s delivered!

The Red Carrot

People, people, people. George Harrison tried to reach beyond the spitefulness that separates neighbors. In 1971 he used his celebrity and influence to produce the first rock and roll charity concert, the Concert for Bangladesh. Audiences, both at New York’s Madison Square Gardens watching the show live and later kids like myself listening in by the record player were treated to performances by a Hindu, Ravi Shankar, India’s master of the sitar, as he played for the benefit of Muslim Bangladeshis. The event was a gracious gesture that focused attention on our eternal option of forgiveness and charity over strife. We could use some of this energy now.

We will ignore our differences.

In each way we say hello, we will ignore our differences.

How will you in the name of democracy continue mind numbing lies?

I’m saying it’s not about money. It’s much more about love and caring.

It’s hard for me to believe the mean hearts that rule our world. Like Lenin, many hope war, poverty, exploitation, inequity will increase to a point where we revolt, but I do not want more pain. I hope we learn.

Critics on the right, more loud than history, earn their pulpits and their spectrum using private money sprinkled to these psychopaths from foundations and golf course cash. Critics on the left earn their money at parties, whether tea or booze or music, among goddess driven suburbs until dollars amount to cheap events when media appears. But the public, you and me, gather nowhere, have no name, have sacrificed our town square for the mall. I hate you for it.

Do not think I will not love you. I will be first to leap into the air when I finally hear your voice. It is your time to speak of better things, to stop the cruel fools, to invent tomorrow again. You do not require new power.

Voice is enough to crush trumpets of arrogance, just your voice, “Hello”. Abuse will roll away. There will never be a hill we will not climb. I remember Ralph Nader said, “Don’t you see? We will crowd out the myths.

Take better. This is our voice. And the secret our footprint finds.

About knowing

Tell me when a teacher says,

“Follow your curiosity.”

Tell me when a teacher says,

“Only your curiosity knows where you are going.”

Where is Einstein’s quote?

You are cheap

And then a primal love...The recent discount selling price, the bargain selling price, of the copied Magna Carta tells of the cheap acquiescence of ourselves.

Consumer culture has an effect more than economists can dream or bankers own. If economic order is the only human order, then every Creed and Constitution is wasted on the rich it has not warmed, the crime it has not weakened, the terror it has not calmed, the greed it cannot steer.

Nobody is speaking to the error of having no purpose greater than our next bargain.

The clamor for wealth destroys us and made us a cheap populace.

We are too small to lift one of us and not great enough to carry us all.

We have other choices. Powers on parade, our gilded aristocracy of lies, will see we have begun again. There is not one danger, not one threat, not one step to harm us, when we build our tomorrow in our yearning. ‘Such rights seem trivial or ridiculous, but if such unenumerated rights are not defended, the result is subjection.’

Blackwater ‘shooters’ use steroids

Bill Moyers has a talent for the elegant that often blends into a very fine rant:

Ours is a society on steroids, and we’re as blind as baseball’s owners were a decade ago.

In our drugged state, we cheer the winners in the game of wealth, the billionaires who benefit from a skewed financial system — the losers, we kick down the stairs. We open fire hoses of cash into our political system in the name of “free speech.” Television stations that refuse to cover government make fortunes selling political bromides over public airwaves. Pornography passing as advertising assaults our senses, seduces our children, and pollutes our culture. Partisan propaganda gets pumped up as news. We feed on the flamboyance of celebrities. And we actually take seriously the Elmer Gantrys who use the Christian Gospel as a guidebook to an Iowa caucus or a battle plan for the Middle East. In the face of a scandalous health care system, failing schools, and a fraudulent endless war, we are as docile as tattered scarecrows in a field of rotten tomatoes.

As for that war, you may have heard that a quarter of the heavily-armed ‘shooters’ working in the streets of Baghdad for the Administration’s mercenary Blackwater foreign legion are alleged to be chemically influenced by steroids or other mind-altering substances. [link to transcript]

‘Shooters’ on steroids is an allegation that requires vigorous follow through!

Department of the Inevitable

Two actors were killed and three others wounded in Angola while filming a bank robbery scene for a crime drama.

The film makers believed had police clearance to film in a crime-ridden suburb but the marksmen suddenly arrived in a pick-up truck and began shooting until he shouted out their victims were actors.

Interior Minister Leal Monteiro Ngongo said police had failed to assess “the situation they encountered in a logical, rational and scientific manner”. [story]

Their dog is warm on the hippopotamus

Dog sleeping on Jessica the hippopotamusThe Telegraph reports:
Jessica the 750lb teenage hippopotamus “eats, sleeps, swims and plays with retired game warden Tonie Joubert and wife Shirley at their home in South Africa.

“She wanders round the house, drinks coffee on the veranda, hangs out with the pet dogs and enjoys soothing massages that help her relax at the end of a happy hippo day.

“Most nights, Jessica totters off back to the river for a mudbath. But on other occasions she’ll wander into the house, wet and dripping slime and plonk herself on the couple’s bed. It is becoming a problem because she has broken the bed three times.” [slide show] [previous warm-hearted pics here]

J. Patrick Lewis has a thing or two to say:

A hippopotamusn’t sit
On lawn chairs, stools, and rockers.
A hippopotamusn’t yawn
Directly under tightrope walkers.
A hippopotamusn’t roll
In gutters used by bowlers.
A hippopotamusn’t fail
To floss his hippopotamolars.

The awful things a hippopotamusn’t do
Are just
As important as the lawful things
A hippopotamust.

Patiently enjoying a happy hippo kiss:

Jessica, the hippo, kissing her dog friend!

Medical scanners

Medical tricorder scanner from Star TrekThree news articles are showing that Star Trek medical scanning devices are becoming reality soon. [wiki]

Philippe Fauchet at the University of Rochester has engineered a scanner to detect a virus. The device captures particles less than 240 nanometers, billionths of a meter, and is designed to help detect the common cold.

Eliminating the need for a biopsy, Howard Chang has built a new DNA scanner to see the molecular details of a tumor without removing tissue.

Calit2’s Paul Blair is working on a wireless healthcare infrastructure. As smaller and cheaper sensors track vital signs, a patient’s health data is automatically uploaded.