eat off the floor!

Scientific American:

In a coarse way, dirty living is good for you and clean living is bad for. You are part bacteria, if you got rid of the life on your skin or in your gut, you would almost certainly die. But, what I had envisioned was an expansion of the slightly more complex idea called the hygiene hypothesis, whose argument goes something like this… Humans moved from rural lifestyles outdoors to hyper-clean lifestyles indoors in city apartments with central air, sealed windows and surfaces scrubbed clean, at every opportunity, with antimicrobial wipes. That transition led us to spend less time getting “dirty” outside. It also “cleaned up” many of the species we need around us indoors that would allow us to get dirty with life. This combination prevented many of our immune systems from developing normally2. As a consequence, our immune systems tend to get “messed up” when we live in cities. They revolt against us in the form of asthma, allergies, Crohn’s disease, inflammatory bowel disease and, depending on who you ask, maybe even MS and autism.

In other words, clean living of one sort or another may be at the root of the majority of modern, chronic, diseases.

Joint Summits on Translational Science:

These days scientists have a much clearer picture of our inner ecosystem. We know now that there are a hundred trillion microbes in a human body.

You carry more microbes in you this moment than all the people who ever lived. Those microbes are growing all the time. So try to imagine for a moment producing an elephant’s worth of microbes. I know it’s difficult, but the fact is that actually in your lifetime you will produce five elephants of microbes.

You are basically a microbe factory.

loosen up

IV. Coda
… Now that my ladder’s gone
I must lie down where all the ladders start
In the foul rag and bone shop of the heart.

autonomous armed flying robot

X-47B, not only without a pilot in the cockpit, but with no pilot at all.

[Many] believe that autonomous armed robots should force the kind of dialogue that followed the introduction of mustard gas in World War I and the development of atomic weapons in World War II.

purchasing the presidency

While other rivals to Romney struggle for cash, Gingrich does not.

Sheldon Adelson, America’s eighth richest man, is pumping millions of dollars into Newt Gingrich.

The donations are among the largest from individuals in US political history.

Sheldon Adelson, a man who has given scores of millions of dollars to Republican and Jewish causes over the years but who only now – by backing Gingrich – is becoming known to the wider public. [shame on our media!]

“It is an arms race of money. You can imagine a world where you can’t get elected without the backing of a billionaire.”


old colonies never die

1) A view which is very common among mainlanders is that “without China’s economic support, Hong Kong would have been dead long ago.” But many Hong Kongers now think that the “mainland invasion” has done more harm than good to Hong Kong.

2) There is also a fear of the erosion of traditional Hong Kong values like the rule of law.

3) Hong Kong has one of the highest levels of income inequality in the world.

4) Hong Kong people could realize the fact that they, like most mainlanders, live in an unjust political system under which the rich and the powerful collude. They share the same destiny, that is, to end this injustice.

fake reviews


…a leather case for the Kindle Fire was receiving the sort of acclaim once reserved for the likes of Kim Jong-il. [!]

Hundreds of reviewers proclaimed the case a marvel, a delight, exactly what they needed to achieve bliss. And definitely worth five stars.

Reviewers are paid for?! Yuck.

When the package arrived it included a letter extending an invitation “to write a product review for the Amazon community.”

“In return for writing the review, we will refund your order so you will have received the product for free,” it said.

world economic bore-um

The dark, dirty secret you learn when you run the program at Davos is that the vast majority of CEOs have nothing to say.

against lies

From the original statement of purpose of The Alaska Advocate, a weekly newspaper published in Anchorage, AK from 1976—1979.

“We are against all lies, and their more vicious step-children, the half-truths.

We are against shadow in the conduct of public business, secure in our belief that there is no public affair best handled in the dark.

We are against that which is dull or stifling. We oppose any limit or barrier to the exercise of talent.

We believe that in the honest, unimpeded exchange of ideas the best course is to be found. We believe we can play a part in that process.”

Go see Howard Weaver.

superb possibilities

warmth and intelligence that kindled everyone’s best nature.

Certain people just shone as exemplars of wholeness, intensity, virtue, achievement, and delight; Maslow was left wondering what an entire society led by such men and women might achieve. This astonishment at the most remarkable human beings stoked his intellectual fires as nothing had before.

It would become Maslow’s life’s work to describe such people, to explain their excellence, and to spread the word to the multitudes that this richness was in fact an inborn human possession, lost to most by dint of social malfeasance and emotional attrition, recoverable on a wide scale by overthrowing the diminished and oppressive view of mankind that had passed for wisdom down the millennia. There are superb possibilities that men are intended to realize, and neither behaviorism nor Freudianism pointed anywhere near them. Maslow became confident that he would succeed where his predecessors had failed, not only in the scientific description of what man is, but in the moral prescription for the best that man can become.

normalized abandonment

Birnbaum: He wasn’t a predator.

Russel Banks: No—a dumb kid. Sexually confused. Alienated. Lots of things. Not angry. Basically an honest kid. Trying to figure out how to be a good person. Not very well equipped to do that. An abandoned kid, essentially. Benignly neglected. The mother takes credit for provided him with shelter, food, and an iguana. He’s a feral child in a way. You have an awful lot of them out there. Latchkey kids we used to call them. One parent—she’s working all day. Comes home then goes out at night, and she’s still a child herself in some ways. It’s a country that has fewer and fewer adults in it.

the pilfering of us

illicit is damn common

For General Electric Co., hawking subprime mortgages was a long way from making light bulbs and jet engines.

That didn’t stop the industrial giant from jumping into the subprime business in 2004, lending blue-chip respectability to the market for risky home loans by paying roughly half a billion dollars to buy California-based WMC Mortgage Corp.

What GE got in the bargain, former WMC employees say, was a place where erstwhile shoe salesmen, ex-strippers and even a former porn actress could sign on as sales reps and make big money pushing home loans.

do pilgrims progress?

I sat me down to write a simple story
which maybe in the end became a song
In trying to find the words which might begin it
I found these were the thoughts I brought along

At first I took my weight to be an anchor
and gathered up my fears to guide me round
but then I clearly saw my own delusion
and found my struggles further bogged me down

In starting out I thought to go exploring
and set my foot upon the nearest road
In vain I looked to find the promised turning
but only saw how far I was from home

In searching I forsook the paths of learning
and sought instead to find some pirate’s gold
In fighting I did hurt those dearest to me
and still no hidden truths could I unfold

I sat me down to write a simple story
which maybe in the end became a song
The words have all been writ by one before me
We’re taking turns in trying to pass them on
Oh, we’re taking turns in trying to pass them on


conflict, sometimes falsely

Esquire’s lengthy interview with Bill Clinton.

One of the real dilemmas we have in our country and around the world is that what works in politics is organization and conflict. That is, drawing the sharp distinctions. But in real life, what works is networks and cooperation. And we need victories in real life, so we’ve got to get back to networks and cooperation, not just conflict.

let them eat stump

That public men publish falsehoods
Is nothing new. That America must accept
Like the historical republics corruption and empire
Has been known for years.

Be angry at the sun for setting
If these things anger you. Watch the wheel slope and turn,
They are all bound on the wheel, these people, those warriors.
This republic, Europe, Asia.

Observe them gesticulating,
Observe them going down. The gang serves lies, the passionate
Man plays his part; the cold passion for truth
Hunts in no pack.

You are not Catullus, you know,
To lampoon these crude sketches of Caesar. You are far
From Dante’s feet, but even farther from his dirty
Political hatreds.

Let boys want pleasure, and men
Struggle for power, and women perhaps for fame,
And the servile to serve a Leader and the dupes to be duped.
Yours is not theirs.

Robinson Jeffers

Be Angry at the Sun (1941)


Why do women have sex?

via The Guardian:

“People just assumed the answer was obvious,” Meston says. “To feel good. Nobody has really talked about how women can use sex for all sorts of resources.”

She rattles off a list and as she says it, I realise I knew it all along: “promotion, money, drugs, bartering, for revenge, to get back at a partner who has cheated on them. To make themselves feel good. To make their partners feel bad.” Women, she says, “can use sex at every stage of the relationship, from luring a man into the relationship, to try and keep a man so he is fulfilled and doesn’t stray. Duty. Using sex to get rid of him or to make him jealous.”

“We never ever expected it to be so diverse,” she says. “From the altruistic to the borderline evil.”

More US Soldiers Committed Suicide Than Died in Combat

More US Soldiers Committed Suicide Than Died in Combat… More US Soldiers Committed Suicide Than Died in Combat… More US Soldiers Committed Suicide Than Died in Combat… More US Soldiers Committed Suicide Than Died in Combat… More US Soldiers Committed Suicide Than Died in Combat… More US Soldiers Committed Suicide Than Died in Combat… More US Soldiers Committed Suicide Than Died in Combat

yes, we have a class system

Americans should know that people in the UK have a greater chance than we do of improving their financial circumstances – 42% of Americans never escape the lowest income bracket, compared to 30% of Brits.

The reality is that America is more class-bound than other advanced nations.

If you really want to achieve the American Dream, move to Denmark. A child born into the bottom fifth on the income scale in Denmark will almost certainly better his economic situation: only one quarter of those at the economic thin end stay there. The same is true of other Scandinavian countries.

American income inequality is becoming positively third world, with some of the richest US states having the largest populations of poor people. In California, 22% live in poverty. In Florida, it’s 20%.