our impoverished public

Sita Sings the Blues:

A Free Culture Success Story.

Why I insisted on authentic songs, what is and is not property, how software is culture, the difference between Share Alike (copyleft) and other Creative Commons licenses, why I paid to legally license the old songs, how noncommercial copyright infringement is still illegal, legal costs, benefits of audience sharing & decentralized distribution, the Sita Sings the Blues Merchandise Empire (sitasingstheblues.com/store), open-licensed merch, audience goodwill, how fans support artists, rivalrous vs. non-rivalrous goods, the Creator Endorsed Mark, migrating Flash files to open formats, gift income, commerce without monopolies, why I encourage legal sharing, and more.

For those with longer attention spans, click here.
Or meet Nina Paley here.

very hip: rivalrous vs. non-rivalrous goods

poverty & the pains of wealth

Screen captured from Wall Street Journal.

ey wot?

In the last forty years, Americans have gone from citizens to consumers, from consumers to consumables. Thus no human being has any worth who is not a member of the wealth tribe. There is a treatment for this condition, which means that there is hope. For their own health and well-being we must take away as much of the ill-gotten gains of the rich as we can, leaving them only a fraction of their former stashes. $$$ is just as addicting a drug as crack but it affects a great many more people, not just those immediately surrounding the addict.

pic posted here 09/16

wake up lefties

“When I hear Democrats griping and groaning and saying …

‘the health care plan didn’t have a public option’, and … ‘the financial reform — there was a provision here that I think we should have gotten better’, or, ‘you know what, yes, you ended the war in Iraq, the combat mission there, but you haven’t completely finished the Afghan war yet’, this or that or the other, I say ‘folks, wake up’.

“This is not some academic exercise, as Joe Biden put it, don’t compare us to the Almighty; compare us to the alternative.”

Have Americans gone mad?

Republicans need to make a net gain of 39 seats to retake the House of Representatives. The consensus is they will, and probably with something to spare; some analysts are even predicting a repeat of the 52-seat swing in 1994, when a pugnacious minority leader named Newt Gingrich led Republicans back to command of the House for the first time in 40 years.

You sense a flailing around for the vanished certainties once encapsulated in the notion of ‘the American Dream’, and a venomous search for scapegoats in the establishment that has failed them.

emphasis: venomous

magnitude and speed

Don’t they call this a hockey stick graph?

It is unquestionable that the last century has been marked by a warming trend having no equivalent over the last millennium. —The Geophysical Research Letters

“The rate of human-driven warming in the last century has exceeded the rate of the underlying natural trend by more than a factor of 10, possibly much more.”

Disruption this century is projected to cause a rate of warming that is another factor of 5 or more greater than that of the last century.

while we moan and bellyache

Were America not myopic.

The 717 emerging-cities market – cities with populations of more than 500,000 plus 371 cities that will reach this size in 25 years – is the largest commercial opportunity in the world. The report is titled Winning in Emerging-Market Cities: A Guide to the World’s Largest Growth Opportunity.

Emerging-market cities will need housing and infrastructure—most urgently, transportation, water, sanitation, and electricity. Meeting these needs will require an estimated $30 trillion to $40 trillion by 2030—the equivalent of 60% to 70% of the total global investment in infrastructure.

The strongest driver of infrastructure demand will be population growth.

Emerging markets will require an estimated $13.8 trillion in new housing investment from 2010 to 2030, with a huge portion of the demand coming from Brazil, China, India, and Mexico.

Emerging-market cities will reach 30% of all global private consumption by 2015.

h/t Next Big Future

Jobs. You want jobs? You can’t handle jobs.

One-third of the world’s population—2.6 billion people—live in emerging-market cities, and by 2030 that number will increase by 1.3 billion. In contrast, cities in developed markets will add only 100 million new residents in the next 20 years.

spaghetti on the wall

Republicans say ‘climate change’ is a four-letter word, JOKE. But China’s Communists turned it into another four-letter word, JOBS. —Thomas Friedman

Green in China “is a practical discussion on health and wealth.”

“There is really no debate about climate change in China,” said Peggy Liu, chairwoman of the Joint U.S.-China Collaboration on Clean Energy. “China’s leaders are mostly engineers and scientists, so they don’t waste time questioning scientific data.”

New ways to do more with less.

It’s a three-for-one shot for them. By becoming more energy efficient, China saves money, takes the lead in the next great global industry and earns credit with the world for mitigating climate change.

While Republicans were turning climate change into a wedge issue, the Chinese Communists were turning it into a work issue.

rage of the rich

If you want to find real political rage you’ll find it among the very privileged who are outraged, outraged, at the thought of paying modestly higher taxes.

Paul Krugman:

These days, however, tax-cutters are hardly even trying to make the trickle-down case.

People making $400,000 or $500,000 a year aren’t rich?

I mean, look at the expenses of people in that income class — the property taxes they have to pay on their expensive houses, the cost of sending their kids to elite private schools, and so on. Why, they can barely make ends meet.

And billionaires are outright belligerent?

A sense of entitlement has taken hold: it’s their money, and they have the right to keep it.

“Taxes are what we pay for civilized society,” said Oliver Wendell Holmes — but that was a long time ago.

With $17.5 billion, David Koch is the second-richest man in New York City, behind Michael Bloomberg, and the $$$ in puppet ma$$$ter.

debt debt debt

Government debt is not the debt story. The sector that caused the crisis, that financed speculation rather than genuine investment, is most heavily in debt.

Very, very few examine Wall Street’s massive debt nor it’s relentless capture of American homeowners’ cash and lifetime earning power. Now that’s debt!

The finance sector exists to create debt, and the only way it can do that is by encouraging the rest of the economy to take it on.

If they were funding productive investments with this money, there wouldn’t be a crisis in the first place. —Steve Keen

Debt growth in America is Wall Street and their encumbered customers, us.

Wall Street’s frenzy of bond, equity and mortgage securities falls in a mess of derivatives and over-rated packaging.

Real estate hammered consumers. Government steps in while  business retreats.

Blame Obama of all things. Scream about a stimulus and unemployment checks.

Debt is Republican. And bailouts too. They follow the financiers believing that a dollar borrowed is a dollar spent in the economy. But Wall Street has delivered only pennies on the dollar in GDP.

Imagined fears of deficits? Deficits? Real debt is seldom discussed. Do bankers fund these political charades?

Of course, government must now step in. Let’s hope correctly. It’s not had much practice after 30 years of laissez-faire and outright dismantling.

someone who killed himself

“Terry’s other friends and I, grieving together, have agreed that we could not have changed his sadness, but I like to think I might have taught him the pleasure of sadness, something his ruthless merriment kept him from learning. We all might have explained that it is possible to be overcome with sorrow and still find meaning in that sorrow, reason enough to stay alive.”

too complicated to understand

Problems on Wall Street are  systemic?

What has happened is that a very substantial fraction of the financial services industry has come to be outside the law, and as it has become increasingly powerful, it has attracted increasingly amoral people. Its behavior has become more and more dangerous to the financial system and to the American economy.

the nutmeg policies

Big stink in California about jobs. Right wing says taxes and regulations push out businesses such as military contractors in southern California. But this isn’t true.

Northrop Grumman moved 300 white-collar jobs to be closer to its key customers, federal agencies in Washington, not because of high taxes or cumbersome regulations. About 30,000 employees remain, the bulk of its California workforce.

Jobs lost as a result of business leaving the state total about 11,000 a year — less than one-tenth of 1% of California’s 18 million jobs.

To restore 2 million jobs lost under G. W. Bush, she says a governor just needs to be a ‘marketer-in-chief’. Yup. That’s it.

Meg Witless for Governor.With a national record for campaign spending, Meg Whitman stumps to ‘turn California’s economy around’. She’ll use the tired tricks of the RNC: A bully appointing political friends. Eliminate 40,000 state jobs. Emaciate agencies. Strip green tech incentives. Bust education and the safety net. Inflame hot-button issues. Chase farm workers.

Typical plutocratic junk.

do what you cannot do

No arms. No legs.
He swims across the Channel in 13 and a half hours.

“I did it, I’m happy, I’m so happy, I can’t believe it, it’s crazy,” says a celebrating Philippe Croizon.

He lost his limbs in an accident 16 years ago. In 2008, he could not even swim two lengths of a swimming pool. “Two solutions were offered to me [after the accident]: to die or decide to live.” He used a snorkel and prosthetic legs with flippers. The remainder of his upper arms stabilized him. Three dolphins joined him for some of the crossing. His French language website is here.

how they slice bananas

LA Times finally lifts a thin cover to dig up the shallow advertising muscle behind the tea party insurgency. You can bet this paper is much polite. And this investigation much too light:

Sal Russo began in 1969 with Ronald Reagan.
Key promoter in conservative political circles.
Pivotal player in wingnut rising.
Started the Tea Party Express.
Large database mining.
Millions of dollars crafting caustic ads.
“He’s a talented political operative who has been doing this a long time.”
Cheap commercials at about $3,000 not $30,000.
The Alaska boost of Joe Miller. The Nevada boost of Sharon Angle.
Delaware backer. Long list of wacky candidate clients.
A bus with six or eight people and Sarah Palin, a fundraising machine.
Always raising money to run more ads.

Here’s another look at self enrichment to snooker honest, unsuspecting, passionate Americans.


Just swing your head in a complete circle and stick out your tongue ?

“The exact phrase ’separation of Church and State’ came out of Adolph Hitler’s mouth, that’s where it comes from.

“So the next time your liberal friends talk about the separation of Church and State ask them why they’re Nazis.” —Delaware Republican Glen Urquhart

Jefferson’s text: [link]

“Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.”

Want to start your own hate group? [link]

• Find people who believe that they are owed something
• Give them a back-story like: “we were great once, but…”
• Tell them what they know is lies
• Offer them praise and acceptance
• Scare them with (insert catastrophe)

the real entitlement costs

And so he is sad.

His income is $455,000 per year. He’s complaining about taxes.

He’s like most working Americans, he says. Once his bills are paid each month, there’s hardly anything left over. How can he be considered rich?

The median household income in the United States today is $50,000. Half of all households make more than this. Half of all households make less. 90% of households make less than $100,000 a year. Less than 1% captures more than $455,000 a year. By any standard, he’s really rich.

He thinks that he ought to be able to pay off student loans, contribute to retirement savings vehicles, build equity, drive new cars, live in a big expensive house, send his children to private school, and still have plenty of cash at the end of the month for the $200 restaurant meals, the $1000 a night resort hotel rooms, and the $75,000 automobiles.

But why does he think that’s the way things should be?

the bigots

Nicholas Kristoff:

In America, bigoted comments about Islam often seem to come from people who have never visited a mosque and know few if any Muslims. In their ignorance, they mirror the anti-Semitism that I hear in Muslim countries from people who have never met a Jew.

numbers trump rhetoric

Cutting into the $1.4 trillion deficit left on Obama’s doorstep, where does government find revenue?

Individual income taxes —42% of all receipts in 2009.
Social security, unemployment insurance and other —43%.
Corporate income taxes are only 6% of total federal income.

Bush Republicans cut government revenue 27%. Corporate taxes fell a staggering 66%. A crippling burden on business, no?

Thirty years stumping Reagan’s sloganeering of ‘Cut Taxes / Slash Spending’, from 1986 to 2009, total government outlays have increased 254%, national defense has grown 144%, entitlements have grown 321% and healthcare has grown a staggering 835%.

Lured to voting Republican?
Oh yes, the best way to lose weight is to eat more ice cream.

After quadrupling Federal debt, Republicans continue to hoot spending cuts.

The problem is that the amount of discretionary spending that is ripe for cutting is a relatively small portion of the pot.

Supply-Side Economics has been at the core of Republican economic philosophy. “Cutting taxes doesn’t add to the deficit, it’s how we fight the deficit!! Less is more, don’t you see?? Reagan proved it.”

That’s just junk —very sloppy junk that brought America to a $1.4 trillion deficit.

Tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, never a burden in any case, have utterly failed. The truth is that there is virtually no evidence in support of the Bush tax cuts as an economic elixir.

It’s not Palin-Beck 2012 we want nor a revival of religion, but a robust and stimulated economy. And some smart tax increases because,

…wealthy Americans no longer invest in creating productive American businesses.

They primarily ‘protect’ the value of their money —financial speculation, the stock market, cherry-picking leverage.

With so much money at the top seeking yield, asset prices were driven higher and higher, until the point was reached where the only way to keep the bubble going was ‘securitize’ people who could not afford to pay it back. After all, derivatives must be derived from something.

strewn ruin

Permanently plug nearly 3,500 abandoned oil and gas wells in the Gulf of Mexico? Remove 650 abandoned production platforms?

There’s more than 27,000 abandoned wells in the Gulf? What?

crude oil gourmets

Interesting finding on Gulf spill dispersal.
Macondo’s proportion of spewing gas bloomed bacteria.
Radically nourished, microbe populations exploded.

The microbial communities in the four plumes first tackled easy-to-digest hydrocarbons, such as propane, butane and ethane, which were kept from bubbling quickly to the surface by deepwater high pressure and cold temperature.

After consuming these gases, which boosted the populations, the larger communities moved to harder-to-eat onger-chain hydrocarbons such as the alkanes that comprise oil.

jobs whisked away

Republican globalists.
Oh maybe it isn’t so much left, right or nuts, but a current crop of officeholders with entirely lazy souls.

Schwarzenegger visited Tokyo as part of an Asian tour as he looks for foreign contractors and funds to help with a high-speed rail network that will include a route between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Japan is offering a loan. Chinese, South Korean and Europeans too. China’s Ministry of Rail yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding with the Bay Area Council.

As Rome burns and a’that. California is a mess with a huge budget fiasco and intense layoffs. A state $20 billion behind year after year, facing mushrooming long term obligations, will sink $40 billion on mere political pride? That is p-p-p-purely poor pursuit.

What offshore train repairs a 15% poverty rate?

History is marking California’s dramatic decline. Never fixed by a zippy train, folks are sadly confused about how it’s economy was stripped and are steered away from pointing to the factors and players responsible.

in merely ten years

Robert Rapier,
Misery essay of the day:

  • I view a global oil production peak within the decade as a near-certainty.
  • I think there is a small probability that the peak has already occurred, but we won’t know that until several years after the fact.
  • I don’t believe that there is anything in the technology pipeline that can prevent a growing gap between supply and today’s demand.
  • I believe that gap will be closed by price-induced rationing, which will be very hard on businesses and individuals.

We simply don’t have the money to use the oil that we have historically used. This will be a period of great economic difficulty, lasting for years.

At the same time that the economy is in great difficulty, oil companies will continue to reap big profits, causing an enormous amount of resentment and calls for higher taxation and greater regulation of the oil industry.

I simply do not believe it will ever be possible to replace major shortfalls in oil production with renewables. It may be possible to replace 20% of today’s oil production, but beyond that there will be increasing competition with arable land for food production — and pressure to turn forested land into arable land.

However, I also believe that humans are very resilient, and that we will eventually come through this.

the revolting unregulated

As well as unbridled banksters, what other sector is regulated with the Republican voodoo of laissez-faire? Contract Animal Testing.

Pledging industry self-regulation, Bayer, Eli Lilly, Novartis, Merck, Sergeant’s, Wellmark, and Meria are caught at one of the most cruel facilities on earth.

They yelled and cursed at cowering dogs and cats, calling them “asshole,” “motherfuckers,” and “bitch”; used pressure hoses to spray water—as well as bleach and other harsh chemicals—on them; and dragged dogs through the facility who were too frightened to walk.

In one test commissioned by a corporation whose products are sold in grocery and drug stores nationwide, a chemical was applied to the necks of 57 cats.

The cats immediately suffered seizures, foamed at the mouth, lost vision, and bled from their noses. Despite this, the substance was put on the cats a second time the very same day.

No USDA employees appear, but PETA’s volunteer went undercover for months.

The video shows laboratory employees discussing the use of sedatives that expired in 2007. “Maybe that’s why it doesn’t work,” says a voice on the video, shortly before the scene cuts to a dog twitching as its teeth are pulled with a pair of pliers. In another clip, one employee counsels another not to bother reporting a dog’s sores to the veterinarian. “If you have ten dogs that have the same problem, it’s not a problem,” she says. “It’s a living condition here.”

Shades of 500 million sick eggs! Many dogs had raw, oozing sores. The USDA finally inspected the lab last week, and has permanently shut down the company, Professional Laboratory and Research Service.

Sick. America. Sick all through.
And lazy.

ozone injury is severe

A calamity in a swamp of calamity. Ozone.

Forest Service Summary Report [pdf]:

Tropospheric O3 is toxic to humans beings, plants, and many other life forms. Before the industrial age, the lower atmosphere was relatively free of O3. Today, this toxic contaminant is found across all geographic and political boundaries and in areas previously believed to be pristine. Plant scientists consider ground-level O3 the most pervasive air pollutant worldwide and a threat to world food, fiber, and timber

Once inside the leaf, Ozone immediately forms toxic derivatives that react with many components of the leaf cells. The first reaction to injury by oxidants is loss of chlorophyll, increased fluorescence, and changes in energy levels.

The cell membranes suffer changes in permeability and leakiness to important ions such as potassium…

As injury progresses and antioxidants come into play, carbon fixation is reduced, foliar and root respiration is increased, and there is a shift in the partitioning of carbon into different chemical forms and allocation patterns. At the most basic cellular level, a plant injured by O3 is not the same as a plant without injury.

Gail is cataloging findings at Wit’s End. “A cursory inventory of foliage will disclose that it is virtually impossible to find a leaf or coniferous needle that doesn’t have symptoms of poisoning from ozone.”

Carrying capacity —when a population’s consumption exceeds the carrying capacity of its environment— is a stunning challenge. Let’s all strive mightily.

belief and disbelief

Jonah Lehrer:

We like to believe that the gift of human reason lets us think like scientists, so that our conscious thoughts lead us closer to the truth. But here’s the paradox: all that reasoning and confabulation can often lead us astray, so that we end up knowing less about what jams/cars/jelly beans we actually prefer. So here’s my new metaphor for human reason: our rational faculty isn’t a scientist – it’s a talk radio host.

Does a scientist think? Or do they merely measure stuff?

“When a scientist doesn’t know the answer to a problem, he is ignorant. When he has a hunch as to what the result is, he is uncertain. And when he is pretty damn sure of what the result is going to be, he is still in some doubt.

We have found it of paramount importance that in order to progress, we must recognize our ignorance and leave room for doubt.

Scientific knowledge is a body of statements of varying degrees of certainty — some most unsure, some nearly sure, but none absolutely certain.”

—Richard Feymann

Climate Etc. by Judith Curry:

A considerable amount of climate skepticism has been fueled by big business, attempting to protect their personal financial interests (e.g. the Koch brothers, ExxonMobil). True, but so what?

It’s not as if the environmental community doesn’t have resources, and hasn’t use them in support of  climate policies and even climate alarmism.

All this just isn’t relevant to the scientific debate.

And if you can’t disentangle the scientific debate from concerns about the fate of your preferred policy, then you have become hopelessly postnormal.

h/t Michael Tobis

Belief and disbelief are sisters of uncertainty. Get used to it.