Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Now it Feels Like Christmas

The requisite meltdown by young person - overstimulated chemically and experientially - has occurred.

It's been a pleasant Christmas.  I found time to do a little yoga today, which is particularly good since I won't have acupuncture this week.  I could feel myself calming and becoming more centered during certain poses.  Bonus - worked kinks out from sleeping on foldout couch!

And now, some work.

Monday, December 24, 2012

10 Arguments Gun Advocates Make

Ten Arguments Gun Advocates Make, and Why They're Wrong

As an attorney, the one that catches my attention the most is the following:

6. The Constitution says I have a right to own guns.
Yes it does, but for some reason gun advocates think that the right to bear arms is the only constitutional right that is virtually without limit. You have the right to practice your religion, but not if your religion involves human sacrifice. You have the right to free speech, but you can still be prosecuted for incitement or conspiracy, and you can be sued for libel. Every right is subject to limitation when it begins to threaten others, and the Supreme Court has affirmed that even though there is an individual right to gun ownership, the government can put reasonable restrictions on that right.
And we all know that if this shooter turns out to have a Muslim name, plenty of Americans, including plenty of gun owners, will be more than happy to give up all kinds of rights in the name of fighting terrorism. Have the government read my email? Have my cell phone company turn over my call records? Check which books I'm taking out of the library? Make me take my shoes off before getting on a plane, just because some idiot tried to blow up his sneakers? Sure, do what you've got to do. But don't make it harder to buy thousands of rounds of ammunition, because if we couldn't do that we'd no longer be free.
Aside from the sarcasm towards the end, it's a really valid point.

Snow in D.C.!

It's snowing right now - so, a little White Christmas, which is always nice.

For everyone else travelling as this year draws to a close, here is Frigga's blessing for Odin:  Unharmed go forth, unharmed return, unharmed safe home.

Saturday, October 06, 2012


My uncle Charlie had a massive stroke recently and received an innovative treatment being pioneered at the hospital in Tennessee to which he was taken, and now he's fine.

Yes, that's what I wrote. Fine.

You can watch him play guitar in his hospital room on this TV clip. WZTV Exclusive: Man Goes From Suffering Stroke to Making Music in One Day.

Word of the day: gobsmacked.

Thursday, September 27, 2012


Attention Internet! Today I am the Answer to Life, The Universe, and Everything.

Odd Realization

I was listening to NPR this morning on the new NFL labor agreement, and I suddenly thought to myself that this is probably the first time I've heard of a labor dispute where the general consensus is that the workers got what they wanted. Hopefully it's just me. Or just recently. But I doubt it.

[ETA: See? Moments later I hear of how disappointed Atlanta Symphony musicians are that they are shouldering the brunt of making up a deficit after making $5M in "concessions" (or maybe the deficit is $5M), losing jobs, and how Management isn't shouldering anything.]

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Latest Quantum Muse is out!

The latest issue of Quantum Muse (http://www.quantummuse.com) is out!

Sudden Thought About Tweety Bird

Sudden thought:

Is the poor grammar shown by Tweety Bird of Looney Toons (I thought I thaw a puddytat.  I did, I did thaw a puddytat!) precurser to LOLCat grammar?  (I can has cheezburger?)

There's your conundrum for Sunday!

Saturday, September 01, 2012

On the Set of 'Captain Blood, The Series'

My story, "On the Set of 'Captain Blood, The Series'" is available now for your persual in Issue 11 of Luna Station Quarterly. You can read it, free, on the website.

For only $2.99 if you download it in various epub formats, this magazine contains a heckuva lot of good fiction. Available in multiple electronic formats, and payment via Paypal accepted - makes it easy for you to get to the fic!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

DOD Opening Land for Renewable Energy Development

“The U.S. Department of Defense plans to open up 16 million acres of its land for renewable energy development, which it hopes will create a boom of solar, wind and geothermal projects and provide clean power to military bases, the department announced Monday.”
“Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar signed a memorandum of understanding to work together on promoting renewable energy generation projects on public land that has historically been restricted for military uses. About 13 million of those 16 million acres are located in western U.S., where a lot of solar, wind and geothermal power development already has been taking place on private and other types of public land.”
16 Million Acres

Friday, August 10, 2012

Living Fences Benefit Farmers, Livestock, Environment, in Costa Rica

Living Fences in Costa Rica a Growing Idea

Farmers across Central America plant living fences because these green barriers are a more economically feasible and readily accessible method for containing livestock and protecting crops.
By providing some shade and serving as windbreaks, living fences can significantly decrease the amount of energy farm animals need to regulate their body temperatures. As livestock allot this extra energy to growth and, in dairy cows, producing milk, farmers experience higher yields, whether in meat or milk, for planting living fences.
This is simply cool.  (Ha!  Literally, too!)

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Uranium Mining in Inuit Territory

Uranium Territory: Inuit campaign for referendum over mine in far north
The struggle against uranium mining dates back to the 1970s. At that time, Inuit in Baker Lake unsuccessfully initiated legal challenges against uranium exploration near their community. In the late 1980s, Inuit successfully opposed a proposal by German company Urangesellschaft to mine the same Kiggavik uranium ore body that AREVA plans to exploit. In a local plebiscite in 1990, over 90 per cent of the residents of Baker Lake rejected Urangesellschaft’s proposal.

Reading the Supreme Court's Decision re: Affordable Care Act

From the opinion of the court:
Our permissive reading of these ["police" or "governing"] powers is explained in part by a general reticence to invalidate the acts of the Nation’s elected leaders. “Proper respect for a co-ordinate branch of the government” requires that we strike down an Act of Congress only if “the lack of constitutional authority to pass [the] act in question is clearly demonstrated.”  United States v. Harris, 106 U. S. 629, 635 (1883). Members of this Court are vested with the authority to interpret the law; we possess neither the expertise nor the prerogative to make policy judgments.  Those decisions  are entrusted to our Nation’s elected leaders, who can be thrown out of office if the people disagree with them.  It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices.
and, very next paragraph:

Our deference in matters of policy cannot, however, become abdication in matters of law.  “The powers of the legislature are defined and limited; and that those limits may not be mistaken, or forgotten, the constitution is written.”  Marbury v. Madison, 1 Cranch 137, 176 (1803). Our respect for Congress’s policy judgments thus can never extend so far as to disavow restraints on federal power that the Constitution  carefully constructed.  “The peculiar circumstances of the moment may render a measure more or less wise, but cannot render it more or less constitutional.” Chief Justice John Marshall, A Friend of the Constitution No. V, Alexandria Gazette, July 5, 1819, in John Marshall’s Defense of McCulloch v. Maryland 190–191 (G. Gunther ed. 1969).  And there can be no question that it is the responsibility of this Court to enforce the limits on federal power by striking down acts of Congress that transgress those limits.  Marbury v. Madison, supra, at 175–176. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

How the Drug Trade Fuels Femicide in Central America

How the Drug Trade Fuels Femicide in Central America

The region has seen a huge rise in murders of women in the last decade (see graph, below). El Salvador currently has the worst femicide rate in the world with 13.9 per 100,000 women while Guatemala (third in the world) and Honduras (seventh) have rates of 9.8 and 7.2 respectively.
Last week Honduras released figures showing at least 150 women were killed in the first half of 2012, with police telling El Heraldo that many of the killings were linked to drug traffickingIn Guatemala, meanwhile, the national forensic institute (INACIF) revealed that 337 women were murdered in the first half of 2012. Though this represents an 11.5 percent drop from the same period in 2011, Guatemala remains one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a woman.
In a macho culture, attacking (either to kill or rape) "someone's woman", is a meaningful act, not for the woman, but what she represents as a thing under the control ('protection') of the someone.  Any time you demonstrate you can reach so-n-so's "woman" and harm her, you've demonstrated your reach extends to so-n-so as well.  It's like the horse head scene in The Godfather: we can get to you, in your own bedroom, and you can't stop us. 

The article says:

One reason for this is that the drug trade is pervaded by a macho culture that drives violence towards females. Women who are seen to associate with gangs, either through family ties or relationships with gang members, can become targets for rivals. Raping and brutally executing these women can be used as a tactic to strike at their enemies, and even as a bonding mechanism for gangs. As Chilean lawyer Patsil Toledo has noted, as well as helping to attack the "enemy morale," attacking and "cruelly raping women is symbolic [in another way]; it creates cohesion within armed groups."
In much the same way that rape is used as a tool of war in more recognized armed conflict.  The article says:

Women have also been used as vessels for gangs to send a message to the authorities. For example, in May last year, a gang in Guatemala decapitated a girl, leaving her head in a phone box with a message warning the authorities not to go through with plans to crack down on extortion.
The flippant thing I could say is these assholes will be first against the wall when the (feminist) revolution comes.  But that doesn't help these women.  The U.S. and the rest of the 'global north' needs to act.  The biggest motivators for joining gangs in the first place are to have a sense of belonging and future.  We know that, whether you're talking about maras or the Crips and the Bloods. 

Legalize these drugs, legitimize the industry.  Don't beat 'em, let them join you.  And, raise the standard of living of peoples in these countries, so life, even that of a worthless female, isn't so goddamn cheap a girl gets her head cut off to send a message to the Guatemalan police.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Submerged Country Under North Sea

Wow. 'Britain's Atlantis' found at bottom of North sea - a huge undersea world swallowed by the sea in 6500BC
The research suggests that the populations of these drowned lands could have been tens of thousands, living in an area that stretched from Northern Scotland across to Denmark and down the English Channel as far as the Channel Islands. The area was once the ‘real heartland’ of Europe and was hit by ‘a devastating tsunami', the researchers claim. The wave was part of a larger process that submerged the low-lying area over the course of thousands of years. 'The name was coined for Dogger Bank, but it applies to any of several periods when the North Sea was land,' says Richard Bates of the University of St Andrews. 'Around 20,000 years ago, there was a 'maximum' - although part of this area would have been covered with ice. When the ice melted, more land was revealed - but the sea level also rose.
That is just too darn nifty.

Friday, June 29, 2012

A Beauty Post, Surprisingly, and a Feminism Post, Not Surprisingly

Sometime between age 35 and 40 I became a beautiful woman. I don't know how it happened, but it did. It has something to do with the armor I wear for lawyering - being dressed up some (not necessarily a lot) and wearing makeup looks good on me and I noticed that fact at some point. (Unfortunately, I can't seem to wear heels, anymore, which is too bad, because a short woman in a skirt suit should REALLY wear heels.)

Anyway, so I was counseling someone about something when they expressed surprise at my age and asked me what I used for my skin (aloe vera daily, and mango seed butter from http://www.mehandi.com at least weekly if not more). So, a few more years later, I thought I'd answer the question for everyone. I also thought I'd publicly acknowledge something that should be obvious to any feminist contemplating working in a male-dominated field: the decision to conform, and to what degree, to be able to work. To get work, and to be taken seriously while doing it.

When I went from software to software consulting I changed my attire to business wear because I was a _consultant_, which meant I met with business people. No more khaki capris and boat shoes (or whatever they were), because business people will take you more seriously the more you conform to their expectations. So, recognizing this, I conformed. As a strategic decision. I am an INTJ (http://www.keirsey.com/4temps/mastermind.asp) and am thus easily capable of ruthless pragmatism. Adhering to people's expectations about communication - visual (dress) and other non-verbal included, was work (oh, yes, it's work), but work worth doing to improve my communication efficiency.

I chose to further conform when I decided to go to law school. So, after that glorious first year in law school of, yes, comfy capris and comfortable shoes, along with delicious blue hair, I began my conformity transition in second year. This was deliberate. I looked at my professors and noted that they were my professional peers, and if I wanted to be viewed as a professional, by them, and persuade them to treat me as a peer, it made sense to look like them - to sling their lingo. Ditto, of course, internships, clinical placements, etc. I went back to being a redhead (thank you http://hennaforhair.com and http://www.mehandi.com, I use henna and cassia on my hair - naturally ash blonde/brown with some gray - and it looks fantastic with henna, and feels fantastic thanks to their shampoo bars - a must-try if you have a hate-hate relationship with your hair) and started wearing twinsets and skirts to school.

And then there was the makeup question. After wearing CoverGirl for a few years toward the end of my career in software, I switched to mineral makeups as soon as I learned of them, because, damn, I kept breaking out (and in the same damn spots, what is up with that?). And a lot of stuff makes me itch, even Physician's Formula and other stuff advertised as "hypoallergenic". I can't wear mascara because my eyelids itch so much I rip my eyelashes out. So, it was a relief to experiment with various mineral makeups and settle quite happily into a long-term relationship with Ocean Mist Cosmetics, http://www.oceanmistcosmetics.com. They rock all they way down to replacing a brush that broke, twice. Mineral makeup is good for your skin, and during the winter I'd mix aloe and my mineral foundation together to make a liquid foundation. Because I have great skin - minimal sun damage, pretty good hydration, no acne once I stopped using liquid foundation, I don't need really heavy coverage even though I always liked wearing liquid foundation and still do.

And then I found Eliza Dushku's website, http://elizapatriciadushku.com/, and a little mention she made of Tarte Cosmetics, http://tartecosmetics.com/, and given that I think she's one of the most beautiful people in the world, I had to check it out.

So, after how many years, I'm suddenly experimenting again. Tarte Cosmetic cheek stains are great, and for summer I love that I have finally, after all these years, found a liquid foundation that includes SPF coverage and DOES. NOT. MAKE. ME. ITCH. I have no idea how, but bless you, Tarte! Finally, non-itchy SPF for my face! And it's a makeup! I've started using their Smooth Operator illuminating serum and mineral foundation from Ocean Mist blended together, and currently use three - 12-hour full coverage Amazonian clay liquid foundation from Tarte, Smooth Operator illuminating serum from Tarte, and Ocean Mist's powder foundation to tweak the color (necessary, at least in summer).

And then, yes, I put on a hat to go out into the sun. And put No-Ad SPF gazillion on my hands.

So, here's the thing: I like the way I look, at this age, at this level of conformity, with my grown-up woman hair length (just off the shoulder well-groomed shag) and my skirts and jackets (and now skirt suits, custom made from http://mycustomclothing.com), and makeup and my Mineralogie lipstick and now my brand-new Cheerful Cherry lipstick from Eyes.Lips.Face. (http://www.eyeslipsface.com - mineral lipsticks for $5! AWESOME! Do you know how much bad-for-you crap is in most lipsticks? Check out the Safe Cosmetics Compact, http://www.safecosmetics.org, for more info). This is the insidious nature of patriarchy - I get more male approval today than I did 10 years ago - and, being a woman in the patriarchy, I am trained, however unwillingly, to want that approval, even though I've rebelled against and questioned that conditioning all my life.

I'm in my early 40s, now. I'm supposed to be over the hill or something. And yet I got a hell of a lot more action and attention in my late 30s and now than I did in my late 20s and early 30s. What changed? Among other things: I conformed.

It's inexpressibly sad that the fun I am having with playing with my looks (and most recently, nail art, as I'm now a Julep Maven, http://www.julep.com, *love* the colors) is tainted by the fact that I operate within - and more rigorously conform to - gender and age expectations of a patriarchal society.

The decision to conform in order to play my part as a female attorney, was, in part, a decision to give in to the demands of the patriarchy. I am both a beautiful woman, and a hypocrite. I look down on politicians for compromising too much, but haven't I compromised too much, myself? Pragmatist that I am, I don't hate myself for my conformity. But I do wish I lived in a world where it wasn't necessary.

Monday, June 04, 2012

New Zealand, Geoengineering, Bats & Bees and Canaries in Coal Mines

New Zealand's natural heritage threatened by 20 years of environmental inaction

Aotearoa, the land of the long white cloud, is now a land of polluted rivers and lakes, rising greenhouse gas emissions, pressured marine ecosystems and disappearing bird and mammal species.

Geoengineering for Global Warming: Increasing Aerosols in Atmosphere Would Make Sky Whiter

Carbon dioxide emissions from the burning of coal, oil, and gas have been increasing over the past decades, causing Earth to get hotter and hotter. Large volcanic eruptions cool the planet by creating lots of small particles in the stratosphere, but the particles fall out within a couple of years, and the planet heats back up. The idea behind solar geoengineering is to constantly replenish a layer of small particles in the stratosphere, mimicking this volcanic aftermath and scattering sunlight back to space.
This strikes me as an attractive idea but a fundamentally bad one, there are too many things we don't know about the effects of conscious attempts to 'fix' a global problem.

Bat, Bee, Frog Deaths May Be Linked

In recent years, diseases have ravaged through bat, honeybee and amphibian populations, and now animal experts suspect that shared factors may link the deaths, which are putting many species at risk for extinction.

Arctic Monitoring Stations Report CO2 Levels of 400 parts per million

The Arctic region continues to serve as the global climate "canary in a coal" mine. Now, as with average temperature rise, the region is leading into a new troubling milestone as monitoring stations near a remote outpost near Barrow, Alaska are among several such stations to report that average concentrations of CO2 have reached an average of 400 parts per million (PPM) this spring.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Environmental Justice Resources Directory

I've been serving on planning committees for the upcoming Environmental Justice summit in Worcester, MA on June 9, at Clark University. One of the tools we're providing for advocates and activists is an EJ Resources Directory. It's also now available as a wiki, courtesy of the directory team, which is myself and colleague Erika G. I'm proud of our work and hope it will be a useful reference.  We'll be continuing to add to it over time.

Visit the wiki (including discussion forum) at http://neej.wikidot.com

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Canada closing its marine pollution program

Canada closing its marine pollution program

"It's perplexing that we face the loss of this program, given the 25,000 chemicals on the market and the ever-increasing threats posed by shipping and oil and gas exploration and development in temperate and Arctic waters," Peter Ross told msnbc.com. Ross is perhaps Canada's best known marine scientist for his work on identifying killer whales as the most contaminated marine mammals on the planet.

"As can be expected when one is told their position is being terminated, one is shocked and saddened," he added. "However, when told that the entire pollution research and monitoring program for Canada's oceans is being eliminated, I was speechless."
Yeah, I'm speechless, too.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Some Good Reads, Recently

Recently read:  Elizabeth Gaskell, "North & South".  Must get more of her work. 

Still Reading Martin Gilbert's "The First World War".  Uniformly excellent.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

GOP Plot to Destroy U.S. Economy?

Plot to destroy the U.S. economy?
...[S]enior GOP members plotted to bring Congress to a standstill regardless how much it would hurt the American Economy by pledging to obstruct and block President Obama on all legislation

Blond Hair Evolved Separately in Europe and South Pacific

Blond hair evolved separately in Europe and the South Pacific

Naturally blond hair is rare on Earth, limited mainly to northern Europe and the collection of South Pacific islands that includes the Solomon Islands. The researchers checked to see whether the C-to-T change on chromosome 9 was also present in Europeans. It wasn’t. That means blond hair evolved not once but twice. 

Saturday, May 05, 2012


Great quote snagged from Making Light:  Nothing that you will learn in the course of your studies will be of the slightest possible use to you in after life, save only this, that if you work hard and intelligently you should be able to detect when a man is talking rot, and that, in my view, is the main, if not the sole, purpose of education.
—John Alexander Smith, professor of moral philosophy at Oxford, 1914,

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Various Things Roundup

U.S. Caps Emissions in Drilling for Fuel - EPA issued new air quality stds for natural gas drilling.  "Industry groups said meeting the proposed standards would cost hundreds of millions of dollars and slow the boom in domestic natural gas production. The original proposal was significantly revised, giving industry more than two years to comply and lowering the cost."  Yeah, but point of fact:  we have a surplus of this stuff already.  

How Well, and How Poorly, We Harvest Ocean Life - interesting looking book.

And, Depressingly:  Mac OS X invulnerability to malware is a myth, says security firm.  Yick.

Monday, April 16, 2012

"Irrelevant" Victims of 16 billion gallons of oil pollution

On February 15th of this year, Doak Bishop, a lawyer representing the American oil giant Chevron, claimed that all 30,000 people affected by Chevron's 16 billion gallons of oil pollution in Ecuador are and have always been "irrelevant".

Chevron Lawyer Claims that Victims of Rainforest Contamination Are “Irrelevant”

Chevron has a long history of trying to dehumanize the Ecuadorians by denying their very existence or by belittling their culture, said Pablo Fajardo, the lead lawyer for the communities.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Two Links: Privacy; H2O

Hm. This Internet provider pledges to put your privacy first. Always. Step aside, AT&T and Verizon. A new privacy-protecting Internet service and telephone provider still in the planning stages could become the ACLU's dream and the FBI's worst nightmare.

IntercontinentalCry: Diné And Hopi Protest Further Dismantling Of Their Basic Right To Water

A group of Diné and Hopi people ( including traditional people and elders) upset by the latest colonial attack on indigenous peoples water rights, gathered to protest the visits of two US Senators to the Navajo Nation today. The people had gathered to say 'no deal' to s2109, the bill that would allow for more water to flow into Arizona for the benefit of companies and urban growth. Protesters chanted 'water is life', 'free indian water ends now', 'let the water flow', 'sewage water for McCain and Kyl', other chants were said in Diné.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Intercontinental Cry en Espanol!

Intercontinental Cry now has a Spanish-language site: IC en Espanol
People of a Feather looks like an extremely interesting documentary on the Inuit of Hudson Bay.
Grassy Narrows marks 50 Years of Mercury Poisoning.
Also interesting: The Power of Moral Sanction. "Hence the ethical imperative to fight for lost causes."
My own observation: so long as we remain a social species, and that won't change anytime soon, shaming before the group and the threat of ostracism from it remain powerful weapons for good and evil.

Monday, April 02, 2012

Pervasive Cell Phone Tracking

Pervasive Cell Phone Tracking Performed Even By Local Law Enforcement

"Law enforcement officials maintain that this type of tracking saves lives. And in our law and order society, that may be enough for people to acquiesce."

That's what's wrong, this pervasive need to wrap up an entire society in bubblewrap for our "protection", at the cost of the ability to move, think, and do, at all. Like nothing bad should ever happen to anyone, anywhere

I can't live much of a life smothered in bubblewrap. Can you?

Americans and British

Sometimes I think we Americans are just British minus the ironclad grip on manners and propriety.

Seriously. We're the 900-lb gorilla of international affairs, and we're melodramatic teenagers. Bad combo.

Mexican Supreme Court Ruling Favors Tarahumara

Mexico Supreme Court says Tarahumara have Constitutional right to participate in projects that would affect them
In a little-noticed decision with possible national repercussions, Mexico’s high court has come out in favor of an indigenous community in the state of Chihuahua. In a ruling publicized this month, Mexican Supreme Court justices determined that the community of Huitosachi has a right to participate in the decision-making of the Copper Canyon Trust Fund, an organization spearheading tourism development in Chihuahua’s Sierra Tarahumara region.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Hitler Studied America's "Indian Policy"?

I can't tell if it's for real or an urban myth, but, regardless: American Holocaust: When It’s All Over I’ll Still Be Indian
He wasn't the only one either. It's not explicitly mentioned in the film, but it's well known that members of the National Party government in South Africa studied "the American approach" before they introduced the system of racial apartheid, which lasted from 1948 to 1994. Other fascist regimes, for instance, in South and Central America, studied the same policy.
I've heard of stranger things.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Reindeer Herds in Taiga Facing 'Unprecedent Challenges'

Urgent Action Needed to Support Unique Environment and Culture of Mongolia’s Reindeer Herders

Mongolia’s reindeer herders and their forest homeland are facing unprecedented challenges from unregulated mining, logging, water pollution, climate change and some tourism practices, according to a new report from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Vedic Experience

Courtesy of Big Brass Blog: The Vedic Experience

One of the finest translations to the English Language is done by Professor Raimon Pannikar, who now lives in a small mountain village in Spain. Himalayan Academy has been commissioned to publish his 1000-page anthology of the Vedic Experience in a special edition in the West, while Motilal Banarsidas has produced the Indian edition. In July of 1995 Professor Pannikar gave permission for these Vedic verses to be published on the World Wide Web. Finally we have all the seven parts of Vedic Experience on line.

Monday, March 26, 2012

GM Dump Leaking PCBs on Tribal Lands

NY Mohawk: Move toxic GM dump from tribal lands

Immediately upstream is a shuttered General Motors factory, now a federal Superfund site where tons of toxic waste have been removed. Tons more remain, including the 12-acre landfill that has been capped with a layer of clay and grass and declared safe, no longer a threat.

PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls - considered probable carcinogens - are the main contaminant, dumped as sludge after use as electrical equipment coolants. Studies 20 years ago documented higher than normal PCB levels in the breast milk of Akwesasne nursing mothers and more recently in adolescents; the toxins persist in human tissue for years. High levels have been found in St. Lawrence River turtles and fish, which the state cautions against eating.

"There's no question there's a legacy of PCB contamination in this area," said Judith Enck, regional administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and a former top environmental official for New York. "And the Mohawks have raised legitimate concerns for decades."

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Really Interesting Review of "Game Change"

Over on Tigerbeatdown. I remain uninterested in seeing the film, myself, but it was an eye-opening review. Read it here.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Both Coasts Watch Closely as San Francisco Faces Erosion

Both Coasts Watch Closely as San Francisco Faces Erosion

Holding back the sea here seems as impossible as holding back the fog. But planners see Ocean Beach as a top priority in a long roster of Bay Area sites threatened by inundation because of what lies on its landward side: the Great Highway, a $220 million wastewater treatment plant and a 14-foot-wide underground pipe that keeps sewage-tainted storm water away from the ocean.

Three Links Re: Indigenous Issues

Native Americans Compelled To Protest Keystone XL From A Cage

Native American’s gathering in Cushing, OK today to protest President Obama’s words of praise for the Keystone XL pipeline were forced by local authorities to hold their event in a cage erected in Memorial Park. The protestors were stunned that their community, so long mistreated, would be insulted in such an open manner instead of being given the same freedom of speech expected by all Americans simply for taking a stance consistent with their values.

Indigenous Leaders In Brazil And Abya Yala Shut Out Of Rio+20 Process By UN And Elite NGOs

At Rio+20 an unethical, corrupt and unfortunate reality continues to unfold. The reality is that of an escalating, internal Indigenous power game which has now reared its ugly head once again at the Rio+20 conference. An existing Indigenous elitist UN group, comprised/inclusive of acquiescent NGOs, has grabbed control over the funding and “official organizing powers”, thus isolating the Indigenous peoples who refuse to bow down to corporate interests and sell out their people.

Not What We Were

As one of the more ancient of the world's living cultures, the Aborigines (a collective term used to describe 300 distinct tribes with their own languages) have traveled long and far together to establish a Dreamtime culture that now teeters on the brink of extinction. Like Indigenous societies elsewhere, the loss of stories known only by passing elders leads to the inevitable loss of culture, and that leads to the loss of spirit and a meaningful life. As Moriarty observes, it is a humanitarian crisis of catastrophic proportions.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Streamlining the Online Presence

Dang, that's an annoying idea, isn't it, the "online presence"? I'm so self-important I have an online presence!

"Digital self" sounds even more pretentious, though, and would probably trigger a lawsuit from someone representing the Wachowski Brothers.

Anyhow, I've deactivated and scheduled my Facebook account for deletion. I'll keep LinkedIn for now, since it doesn't annoy me. I've also deleted my old LiveJournal because LJ annoyed me one too many times and it's been over a year since I last posted, so anyone who wants to keep up with me from there has either come to terms with my absence or is following me on Dreamwidth. I'll keep the Dreamwidth account, because I love Dreamwidth in an intellectual way if not in a regular-posting kind of way. More properly, I love my current default icon, which I think sums up my attitude toward life pretty succinctly, pictures being worth a thousand words, at least, being the picture of a goblin in a hat. (see here)

Note that "annoying" v. not-annoying seems to be a primary consideration in deciding what to shitcan and what not. That'd be accurate, friends and neighbors, that'd be accurate. Sure, there's a lot of water under the bridge and I'm likely to be less annoyed by trivialities, precocious children (terrible hypocrisy on my part to begin with given that I was one), traffic, drunk people on the T, but there are still a great host of forever-renewing things that manage to chafe my proverbial buns.

As always, this blog remains hanging on by its teeth. It doesn't whine when I ignore it, so.... low annoyance quotient.

3 Links Makes a Post: Various Offenses Against Human Decency

In Russia, St. Petersburg passes homophobic law to silence LGBT people

Two regions of Russia — Arkhangelsk and Ryazan — have previously passed the same law, which have been deemed constitutional by Russian courts despite the chilling of free speech and the attack on LGBT organizing and ability to protest that they represent.

Oil Drilling Threatens Indigenous Mapuche In Argentina

Fracking uses millions of gallons of water mixed with chemicals and sand at high pressure, to break through rock like shale to free natural gas and oil.

“There is no policy in place to measure the impact of this new technology,” said Nahuel. “That is what the communities are reacting to, in Loma de la Lata and in the central part of the province.”

Oil and gas exploration began 60 years ago, and indigenous residents estimate that there are 200 wells there and they have been demanding an end to the activity in the area for the last decade.

Mapuche community authority Cristina Lincopán of the village, said the government brings water each month in trucks to the area from Zapala, a city 60 kilometers (38 miles), because the water is so contaminated from the oil industry.

Mining Debate in Guatemala Rages On

"We know it will cause a great deal of pollution, which is why we are opposed to this project. The only one here benefiting from this is the mayor," she told IPS.

Anti-mining sentiments flared up again in Guatemala after the new right-wing president, retired General Otto Pérez Molina, signed a "voluntary agreement" on Jan. 27 with the extractive industries business association, to increase royalties paid by the companies. The deal will be in effect until an amended mining law is passed by Congress.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

3 Things Make a Blog Post

Quebec Police Dismantle Innu Blockade Against Controversial Hydro Complex
Quebec provincial police went on the march last Friday to dismantle a blockade that a group of Innu citizens erected to protest the construction of hydro transmission lines through their traditional territory.
The blockade/checkpoint went up went up on March 5 after Innu representatives walked away from negotiations with Hydro-Québec over the proposed La Romaine Hydroelectric Complex.

Catholic Church Puts Legal Pressure On Survivor's Network (may be behind pay wall)

Way to go, Catholic Church. Just keep digging that hole deeper.

The group, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, known as SNAP, is neither a plaintiff nor a defendant in the litigation. But the group has been subpoenaed five times in recent months in Kansas City and St. Louis, and its national director, David Clohessy, was questioned by a battery of lawyers for more than six hours this year. A judge in Kansas City ruled that the network must comply because it “almost certainly” had information relevant to the case.

Mr. Clohessy was deposed in January by lawyers for five accused priests and the diocese. In the 215-page transcript, made public on March 2, most of the questions were not about the case but about the network — its budget, board of directors, staff members, donors and operating procedures.

Tsunami Flotsam hitting U.S. Shores? (another possibly behind pay wall)

Despite a rise in interest and reported sightings, officials have not confirmed that any of the items found along the West Coast originated in Japan. “There is debris from Asia that comes to shore all the time, and it’s not necessary tsunami-related,” [Director of NOAA’s Marine Debris Program, Nancy] Wallace said.

Thus far, only two tsunami debris clusters have been confirmed, a wrecked Japanese fishing boat spotted by a Russian ship that was en route from Honolulu to Vladivostok, Russia, and another vessel located by the United States Coast Guard nearer to Japan.

Finding flotsam over some 5,000 miles of open ocean is not easy. A month after the disaster, the debris was no longer visible in NOAA’s satellite images. To assist in the search, officials have requested higher-resolution satellite images from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, which runs satellite-based mapping and monitoring for the Defense Department. In recent months, NOAA reached out to the commercial shipping and fishing groups, asking boats to report any large debris sightings in the water.

NOAA asks beachcombers to keep a lookout.

I Have Little To Say, Apparently

I guess I have everything-fatigue with cynical symptoms.

Presidential elections? Yawn.
Health Care Reform? Too cynical today, sorry.
Lies in the media remaining unchecked and liars remaining unfettered? OK, yeah, pissed off about that, but not enough to link to anything or write a cogent post.

So....how've you all been?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Wow. New Basis for Alzheimer's Treatment?

Cancer drug reverses Alzheimer's symptoms in mice, study says

A drug that has been approved for the treatment of a type of skin cancer since 1999 appears to reverse Alzheimer's symptoms -- in mice.

Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine neuroscientist Gary Landreth and colleagues reported Thursday that bexarotene quickly cleared away beta-amyloid plaque, believed to cause the cognitive deficits of Alzheimer's disease, from the brains of genetically engineered mice.

Mice who received bexarotene treatment regained memory and cognitive function, including improvements in their sense of smell, the authors said. Bexarotene worked by helping to increase levels of a protein called Apolipoprotein E (ApoE), which helps remove beta-amyloids. Its effects took hold quickly, with half of plaques removed within 72 hours, the authors reported.

Still years before something for humans could hit the market. As the article notes, it's not common for there to be a 1:1 match between drugs efficacious for mice and humans.

Joke I heard today

Joke I heard today:

A conservative, a moderate, and a liberal walk into a bar. The bartender says, "Hi, Mitt!"

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

3 Topical Links Makes a Post

Broken Promises Fuel a New Wave of Anti-Mining Protests in Panama

Since 30th January, demonstrators have been positioned at various points along the international Interamerican highway using branches, pieces of wood, metal and rocks to block the road. They are protesting against the government's decision to remove a law that would provide environmental protection to their lands. The police continue to deny that there has been any violence, although on Thursday 2nd January there were reports of up to 7 people injured in attacks involving tear gas.

Interviewees Sought for Climate Change Project on Flathead Reservation

Selected methods will incorporate knowledge and opinions of current Flathead Reservation residents and tribal natural resource managers about how the landscape has changed over time, the causes of those changes, and challenges to achieving desired future conditions.

A Secretarial Order issued by the Department of Interior in March 2009, regarding climate change adaption planning, requires the coordination of science-based response to impacts of climate change on land, water, wildlife, cultural heritage, and tribal lands and resources.

Peru: Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon Call For Action Against Oil Companies

The Regional Organization of Indigenous Peoples of the East (ORPIO in Spanish) has called for collective action in the Peruvian city of Iquitos on February 1st.In an official statement, ORPIO condemns the situation of "our comrades that are suffering the negative effects of mining on the Coast and in the Andes. After 40 years of extraction, the oil companies have damaged our fish, our streams, our lagoons, our land and the water that gives us life. The basins of the Corrientes, and the rivers Tigre, Pastaza, Chambira and Marañon are all currently suffering from the effects of oil exploitation. The consequences of these operations are deplorable and fill us with rightful indignation."

Sunday, January 22, 2012

My Thoughts on a Few of the Republican Candidate Candidates

Mitt: Vote for Me and I'll Sell Off All of America's Assets At a Huge Profit. Yeah!
Newt: C'mon, America, Don't You Want to Have an Open Marriage with Me?

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Inter-American Commission On Human Rights Gives In To Pressure From Guatemala

Intercontinental Cry: Inter-American Commission On Human Rights Gives In To Pressure From Guatemala

Damn it!

"To the astonishment of Mining Watch, the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) and many others, in late December, the IACHR announced that it had decided to reverse its 2010 recommendation to suspend any ongoing mining activity at Goldcorp's Marlin gold mine in San Marcos, Guatemala.

Both MiningWatch and CIEL expressed deep concern over the move, calling it 'a wake-up call for organizations and communities concerned about the defense of human rights in the Americas.' Given the IACHR's role as an autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS) charged with 'promoting the observance and the defense of human rights in the Americas' and the frequency with which the judicial body sides with Indigenous Peoples--it is certainly that.

It's the second time in less than a year the IACHR has given in to government demands, the NGOs observe. 'Several months ago, under threat that Brazil would revoke its funding, the IACHR backed down from its order to Brazil to halt construction of the controversial Belo Monte dam based on allegations that the right of local indigenous communities to free, prior and informed consent had not been respected.'"

A little down time right now

During which I intend to read books, and write an article to submit for publication, and do some other things.