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Eat A Peach

June 10, 2009

Fed my spawn a peach yesterday. She liked it. She liked the song about it too.

I bought some pants yesterday. With a cuff.

No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.

I grow old … I grow old …
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

Turned 40 recently. There was a party. Didn’t eat, drink or be merry as much as I might have because I didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of all the people who came.

Next time I’m gonna.

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30 Comments leave one →
  1. Stemella permalink*
    June 10, 2009 8:26 am

    Peach eating spawn! Cute!

    Here’s a little bit of peaches en regalia followed by the same, remarkably by the hand fart artist!

    [
    This would be criminal, except it’s so damn funny!

    • cometman permalink*
      June 10, 2009 3:43 pm

      That was great! Hand fart man has a quite a repertoire.

  2. cometman permalink*
    June 10, 2009 3:18 pm

    Just heard a story on NPR about this song called “Taller Children” by a band called Elizabeth and the Catapult. It was inspired by the crooks on Wall Street. To listen to the song it might be easier at this link. Very nice tune and part of it is in a 13 time signature which you don’t see often. I think the time signature makes it harder to contract earworm too ;) I liked this part:

    Don’t you know you don’t get smarter
    You’re the same as you started
    You just jump a little higher

    • Stemella permalink*
      June 10, 2009 7:51 pm

      I like that very much. The voice reminds me of young Annie Lenox at certain points. Great lyrics too. I really like learning about new music. Avoiding earworms is a very good thing. :)

      That 13 time signature is nice. I like the 12 beat a lot also. It’s an African beat I use on my dunbek. Here’s a sample of someone playing it.

  3. Stemella permalink*
    June 11, 2009 9:36 am

    The New Scientist has an interesting article, Humans prefer cockiness to expertise that might explain why Jim Cramer, Joe Scarborough, and the entire cast of Faux Noise still have jobs.

    The research, by Don Moore of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, shows that we prefer advice from a confident source, even to the point that we are willing to forgive a poor track record. Moore argues that in competitive situations, this can drive those offering advice to increasingly exaggerate how sure they are. And it spells bad news for scientists who try to be honest about gaps in their knowledge.

    and here’s an article that relates to this phenomena

    Home
    Countrywide Exec Warned The Fed On Toxic Mortgages

    Well, this is interesting. If you’ve read the SEC complaint against Countrywide’s Angelo Mozillo and other executives you probably noticed the name John P. McMurray popping up several times. He was the chief risk manager at Countrywide who saw the problems coming, alerted management and was promptly ignored.

    It turns out that Countrywide wasn’t the only concern that had the benefit of his analysis and chose to believe in the tooth fairy instead. In 2006 he offered some of the same advice to the Fed.

    • cometman permalink*
      June 11, 2009 12:53 pm

      Interesting article about confidence. It’s something that I think people know intuitively (and there I go saying I think it’s so rather than confidently declaring it) and it explains why people like the new GM CEO are able to get where they are.

      Personally I’ve always liked David Hume’s uncertain philosophy where he realizes that there is very little if anything that can be confidently proven. If you drop a ball you can say that that based on the laws of physics the ball will hit the ground and you can even calculate the time it will take to hit. But you can’t say with 100% confidence that the ball will hit the ground every single time because our understanding of physical laws is not complete and who’s to say they can’t change.

      I’m really enjoying the book called Warped Passages which I’ve mentioned before that discusses a lot of particle physics. I’ve read several books on this before and all the authors seemed very confident that the Standard Model was correct. The author of this book is very good at explaining how some things just don’t add up and how scientists have used some pretty big fudges to get the theories to match the experimental results. They also mention the possibility that some of the current theories could be very very wrong. If the Large Hadron Collider does not find the things they expect it to find when it finally gets fired up later this year there is going to be quite a bit that needs to be rewritten. If they don’t find the Higgs particle then the Standard Model will need some serious reworking.

      Anyhow, I find the approach that allows for some doubt to be very refreshing. Helps me understand what is really going on. I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that the author of the book I’m reading now is a woman and all the others were written by men ;)

      • Stemella permalink*
        June 11, 2009 1:46 pm

        Indubitably! Hah! :)

        That’s why I’ve always enjoyed reading Richard Feynman. He is one male physicist who often said that one always had to have doubt.
        Here’s a youtube of him talking about it.

        • cometman permalink*
          June 11, 2009 10:22 pm

          Thanks for posting the video, that was great. I really like that guy. Read his book Surely You’re Joking Mr. Feynman last year. I don’t know if you’ve seen it but it’s a really entertaining book with him telling anecdotes about his life – watching ants, picking locks, and picking up women were of few of the subjects he covered.

          • Stemella permalink*
            June 12, 2009 8:13 am

            That vid comes from a series of interviews based on his book “The Pleasure of Finding things Out”

            The whole sequence of videos are free here at the BBC

            There are also all kinds of his physics lectures at CalTech available on tape/cd. There’s probably much more too on youtube.

            • cometman permalink*
              June 12, 2009 8:41 am

              Thanks, I’ll check that out. I saw some of his lectures on tape at a bookstore but I wasn’t sure whether they were geared towards the layperson or graduate students. I’ll poke around youtube a bit later and see if I can find some samples and maybe I’ll pick up the series if it isn’t something that would just fly over my head. I do remember being befuddled by his diagrams in physics class but the teacher I had probably wasn’t quite as good as Feynman himself.

  4. cometman permalink*
    June 11, 2009 2:12 pm

    So the Senate has passed legislation that would allow the FDA to regulate the tobacco industry. Here’s how you can tell it’s largely just posturing and won’t amount to a pisshole in the snow:

    The nation’s largest tobacco manufacturer, Philip Morris, USA, has come out in support of the legislation. Its parent company, Altria Group, said in a statement that on balance, “the legislation is an important step forward to achieve the goal we share with others to provide federal regulation of tobacco products.”

    The program will be paid for by fees charged to the tobacco industry. Hmmmm, several years ago when state AGs won a huge lawsuit against the industry, tobacco companies raised the price of their highly addictive product immediately. Did some quick math at the time and based on the number of smokers and the $.50 per pack cost increase, the tobacco companies made their money back in about a year, and they haven’t lowered prices since as far as I know. I’m sure when Congress assesses the fee to the tobacco companies, they will increase the per pack cost again to pay for it and then some. Rather than cutting into their profits, the new rules will likely make them bigger. Tobacco companies realize that there is no such thing as bad publicity and as long as people keep talking about the evils of tobacco, they will be able to keep selling it.

    As a smoker myself, what bothers me most about it is the hypocrisy of the little game that tobacco companies and the legislators they’ve bought play all the time. Legislators slap big tobacco to make it look like they care about the little people, big tobacco gets their name in the news again and makes big profits. Despite supposedly being more dangerous than a terrorist on a 2 week meth binge, the product remains legal because it’s always easier to pass a tax increase on smokes than on the oligarchs who own Congress.

    • cometman permalink*
      June 12, 2009 8:03 am

      This article explains in more detail why Phillip Morris supports the new legislation. They already have about a 50% market share and limiting advertising and certain new products would make it harder for competitors to cut into their business. They are also hoping that if the FDA regulates the ingredients in cigarettes, they can turn around and sell “safer” cigarettes that have the FDA stamp of approval.

      This support of increased government oversight, which Philip Morris first endorsed in 2001, has given even some backers of the bill pause. “It is a concern that the tobacco industry is involved” in the legislation, admits David Burns, a leading tobacco researcher who has testified in court that “light” cigarettes are no less harmful than regular ones and has conducted studies for the World Health Organization and U.S. government. Big Tobacco “has a very dark and aggressive history of trying to change both science and public policy to its economic favor,” he says.

      You think? When are we going to learn that allowing companies to help write the legislation that’s supposed to regulate them isn’t really a great idea?

      • Stemella permalink*
        June 12, 2009 8:44 am

        I saw some discussion of this on Lehrer last night. It seems like a typical corporatist ploy to get people hooked on their product in non-smokeable forms. Great let’s all have chew juice spewed everywhere, and kids hooked on Nic gum and candy and oral cancer all over the place.

        It is always a bad idea to let the wolfpack write the rules.

        The govt should just legalize tobacco growing and marijuana growing to boot, for personal use only, no dealing. It’s the oldest racket in this country, tobacco growing, predating the founding of the nation. It is time to end the industry of it.

        Obama will talk about the Bill in a few minutes, to sign it into law a bit later.

  5. cometman permalink*
    June 11, 2009 9:41 pm

    Nice profile of FDIC head Sheila Bair from Robert Scheer at Truthdig. She’s one of the few who is trying to hold the banksters accountable.

    In her role of protecting the taxpayer interest, she has been pressing for replacing Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit or at least more fully overseeing his performance. He took over Citigroup in December 2007, and while he now claims to be committed to reforming his bank’s operation, as The Wall Street Journal concluded, “For his first year on the job, Mr. Pandit insisted Citigroup’s business model was basically sound.”

    Bair didn’t believe that the model was sound, and she has doubts about the ability of Pandit and other top banking executives to change their high-roller ways. As David Weidner put it on MarketWatch, “By threatening the things most precious to bank executives—their pay and jobs—she has sent a clear message to the industry: Your bailout is not without a price. We expect results.”

    But, he added ominously: “Bair’s hardball tactics aren’t just irritating bankers, though. She’s also making enemies of career bureaucrats and Wall Street sympathizers. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner … reportedly tried to push out Bair before he took office in December.”

    If Timmeh doesn’t like her she must be doing something right.

    • Stemella permalink*
      June 12, 2009 7:53 am

      I had hoped Obama was going to pick Bair for Treasury instead of Timmeh. But I’m sure Canetoad discouraged that. O could do a lot to redeem himself if he appointed her to replace Bernanke at the Fed, instead of picking Ribbit Summers.

      She seems to be a rare person in DC, one who takes seriously the public interest, and doesn’t work soley for personal and partisan interest. I was surprised to find she was a Republican. Her party affiliation is not paramount. That is how all cabinet level leaders should operate. Sadly it isn’t so.

      If Geithner wins out and Bair gets removed, then we know all is lost for Main St. She is the bellweather.

  6. cometman permalink*
    June 11, 2009 10:01 pm

    More shuffling deck chairs – now we have a pay czar. Thought the wording here was telling:

    “My goal is to reach out to these seven companies and meet with them and work out an acceptable compensation program — acceptable to the business community, acceptable to the administration, and hopefully acceptable to Congress and the public. It’s a challenge, but I think it’s do-able.”

    First it has to be acceptable to the corpo-rats. Hopefully it will be acceptable to the public. At least he has his priorities straight.

    This Reuters article has some details about how executive pay could, but most likely won’t, be limited:

    In early February, the administration had said it would put a $500,000 per year cap on the salaries of executives at firms in which it pumped in fresh aid from the government’s $700 billion rescue fund. Any compensation above that amount was to have been in restricted stock or a similar long-term bonus incentive.

    Officials determined that plan was not optimal after Congress passed legislation requiring that bonuses account for no more than one-third of an executive’s compensation. If coupled with the administration’s planned salary cap, that would limit annual compensation to $750,000.

    I say most likely won’t happen because Jon Stewart mentioned tonight that the Obama administration had decided not to limit compensation but would limit bonuses instead of, not in conjunction with compensation. Didn’t find a link for that right away but I tend to take his word for things. So execs can still get their big bonuses by increasing their salaries. I expect to see a lot of multi million dollar salaries with the majority of the compensation deferred. Wouldn’t want the money grubbing to seem too blatant, plus that way they can keep the gravy train rolling into retirement.

  7. cometman permalink*
    June 12, 2009 8:56 am

    Ha! Researchers have found out that in one species of water striders the females have built-in chastity belts:

    Natural selection favors higher mating frequency in males than in females in many animals, including humans. This leads to an evolutionary “arms race” where males evolve adaptations that force females to mate, while females evolve defenses against males’ attempts.

    As in the arms races between countries and political powers, it is rare for one sex to “win” in this evolutionary race.

    However, in the study by Han and Jablonski, carried out at the Laboratory of Behavioral Ecology and Evolution at Seoul National University, females of an Asian species of water striders, Gerris gracilicornis, do seem to win this race as they have evolved a morphological shield behind which their genitalia are hidden from males, protecting them against the males’ forceful attempts to mate.

    In an apparent response to the female adaptation, after the violent mounting onto the female’s back (typical in water striders), males of this species produce courtship signals by tapping the water surface with their middle legs. It is only after receiving the male’s “song” that females expose their genitalia for copulation.

    • Stemella permalink*
      June 12, 2009 10:35 am

      That’s pretty funny. I’ve known some guys like that!

      Speaking of nature, are you responsible for this? You really shouldn’t pick on kids like that, C-Man. ;)

      • cometman permalink*
        June 12, 2009 12:16 pm

        Ha! I tried to tell the kid to get off my lawn but he wouldn’t listen!

  8. cometman permalink*
    June 12, 2009 9:08 am

    Good article on Somali pirates here which puts their actions into perspective a bit:

    The first time Farah Ismail Eid set out to hijack a ship off the coast of Somalia his boat was easily outrun. On the second occasion he kept pace but his boarding ladder was too short. On the third attempt he was captured.

    Eid, 38, from Eyl on the Somalia coast, is one of an estimated 1,500 fishermen-turned-pirates who have made the seas between the Suez Canal and the Indian Ocean the most dangerous shipping route in the world.

    “I believe the title of pirates should be given to those who come to our waters illegally,” he told The Times after shuffling into a room at the British colonial-era Mandheera prison, 40 miles south of Berbera, wearing plastic sandals, a T-shirt and a length of printed material wrapped around his skinny waist.

    ~snip~

    Eid blamed foreigners for the rise of piracy. He said he had a couple of boats and a fish-trading business in Eyl until illegal trawlers ruined the fishing: “The fish we caught used to be enough for the local people and enough to sell, but now there is not even enough to eat.”

    Foreign ships started dumping toxic waste in Somali waters, he said, and one day he found shoals of fish floating. “We thought we were lucky. We collected the fish and stored them in refrigerators, then later we discovered they were like plastic.

    “These problems fell on us like rain,” he said, his right leg twitching as he chewed on a mouthful of qat, a narcotic leaf enjoyed by many Somalis.

    Eid said that fishermen bought guns and set out to exact informal taxes on the foreign owners of illegal trawlers. The kidnapping business proved lucrative, with ransoms of hundreds of thousands of dollars regularly paid out — and any noble motives were soon forgotten as pirate gangs launched attacks on cruise liners and cargo ships, including those carrying food for Somalia’s starving millions.

    He justified the attacks as a way of highlighting their concerns. “We are quite aware that what we are doing is wrong, but this is a way of shouting to the world,” he said. “The world should ask: ‘Are these people wrong or were they wronged themselves?”

    • Stemella permalink*
      June 12, 2009 10:52 am

      One man’s pirate is another man’s freedom fighter. Yes, who is the biggest aggressor in this situation? A very good question.

  9. Stemella permalink*
    June 12, 2009 11:19 am

    A zapatista of sorts …

    A fox has been unmasked as the mystery thief of more than 100 shoes in the small western German town of Foehren, authorities said Friday.

    A forest worker stumbled upon shoes strewn near the fox’s den and found a trove of footwear down the hole which had recently been stolen overnight from outside locals’ front doors.

    “There was everything from ladies’ shoes to trainers,” said a local police spokesman. “We’ve found between 110 and 120 so far. It seems a vixen stole them for her cubs to play with.”

    Although many were missing laces, the shoes were in good condition and their owners were delighted to reclaim them, he said, adding that no reprisals were planned against the culprit.

    • cometman permalink*
      June 12, 2009 12:21 pm

      The vixen must have had a litter of Hush Puppies to care for…

      • Stemella permalink*
        June 12, 2009 9:37 pm

        So bad. I had to resist looking up an earworm! ;-P

  10. cometman permalink*
    June 12, 2009 12:50 pm

    The cantankerous Alexander Cockburn has a piece up about the demise of the newspaper. His take on it is ‘good riddance’.

    …any exacting assessment of the actual performance of newspapers rated against the twaddle about the role of the Fourth Estate spouted by publishers and editors at their annual conventions would issue a negative verdict in every era. Of course there have been moments when a newspaper or a reporter could make fair claims to have done a decent job, inevitably eradicated by a panicky proprietor, a change in ownership, advertiser pressure, eviction of some protective editor or summary firing of the enterprising reporter. By and large, down the decades, the mainstream newspapers have—often rabidly—obstructed and sabotaged efforts to improve our social and political condition.

    ~snip~

    South of me in Mendocino County, California, is the Anderson Valley Advertiser, a weekly edited by my friend Bruce Anderson. I’ve written a column for it for over twenty years. The AVA does everything a newspaper should do. It covers the county board of supervisors, the court system, the cops, water issues, the marijuana industry. It’s fun to read and reminds people of what a real newspaper should be, which is why half its circulation is outside the county, often the other end of the United States. The AVA lives resolutely up to the injunction by Joseph Pulitzer it carries on its masthead, “A newspaper should have no friends.”

    I asked Bruce about proposed bailouts of the mainstream press: “Do you like these bailout ideas?” “No I don’t. I don’t even want them to rest in peace. I want them to twist and turn in their graves eternally. Why? They don’t do any local reporting and haven’t for about twenty-five years. I’m talking here about the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, owned by the New York Times Company, and the San Francisco Chronicle.

    With the drought upon us here on North Coast the Press Democrat has yet to run a coherent account of how precarious our water supplies and delivery systems are. Why? They might get objections from the building industry and the wine industry on which they’re almost totally dependent for advertising these days.

    “They don’t cover the way the place is run and for whom it’s run. That is, the board of supervisors, the boards of education, the water districts—all of which we regularly cover with a staff of two. The Chronicle no longer serves any function. It’s a museum running reprints of Herb Caen and Art Hoppe.”

    Kinda hard to argue with that assessment. The big mainstream newspapers are rarely the ones who break any big stories. Mostly it’s just stenography for the powerful and if they do get around to reporting something important it’s usually after it’s too late, like when the NYT held back on the story that the Bushies were using illegal wiretaps. My own local daily killed the story about Bush’s DUI in the runup to the 2000 election and the incident was reported by an upstart weekly instead. One of the reasons I no longer subscribe to a newspaper after having done so for years.

    Also, speaking of things mainstream news doesn’t discuss, check this out from the same link:

    On June 10, Paul Craig Roberts wrote in his fine column “Fear Rules”:

    “Fearful of American citizens, the US government is building concentration camps, apparently all over the country. According to news reports, a $385 million US government contract was given by the Bush/Cheney Regime to Cheney’s company, Halliburton, to build “detention centers” in the US. The corporate media never explained for whom the detention centers are intended.

    “Most Americans dismiss such reports. ‘It can’t happen here.’ However, In northeastern Florida not far from Tallahassee, I have seen what might be one of these camps. There is a building inside a huge open area fenced with razor wire. There is no one there and no signs. The facility appears new and unused and does not look like an abandoned prisoner work camp.”

    Roberts tells us this column aroused much interest and now adds:

    “If anyone wants to know the camp’s location, the directions are to take 67 NE out of Carrabelle, Florida, to the intersection with Lake Morality Road, and there is the camp. Or pull the camp up from maps.live.com Just type in Carrabelle Florida and use the maps features to zoom in and to follow 67 NE.

    “According to job applicants, camp guards are required to take four months of military training and be willing to shoot to kill. I know, it sounds like conspiracy theory. But I have seen the camp, and it has been sitting there empty for several years. It has a strange lay out. And it is not a county work camp. One of those is nearby.”

    I remember this story coming out and then discussion of it was just dropped. But it sounds like they’ve gone ahead and built at least some of them. Scary stuff having these kinds of places ‘just in case’. Sure would be nice if anyone in the government wanted to mention what they are for.

    • Stemella permalink*
      June 12, 2009 9:45 pm

      Yes, at this point the national and big city papers are gutted and worthless, no salvation for their dregs. It still feels tragic, like it is more a death than a passing of a torch to a new medium, in my view.

      As to the camps, I remember back in 1986 when I belonged to a No-nukes group other elder activists swore that Reagan was going to use FEMA to round us up and send us to camps like that. Now it seems more plausible given how much further this country has fallen. I’d speculate that they are intended for either pandemic quarantines or for the same reason camps were built for the Japanese during WWII, or for major natural disasters that could result from not dealing with global warming. It has happened here before, it could happen again.

  11. cometman permalink*
    June 12, 2009 1:09 pm

    Great read from Mark Ames – Elmer Fudd Nation:

    If I was an oligarch and I wanted to buy my spoiled little shit of a son a toy that would make him laugh and laugh for hours, I’d buy him a middle-class American. Because Americans are funny the way all dupes and chumps are funny. You can trick today’s Americans time and again, and they always fall for it. And when you trick them, they stomp around dramatically and make a lot of blustery noise about “the people” who allegedly “aren’t going to stand much more of this” because “our founding forefathers bla bla bla” and of course the ol’ “you can fool some of the people some of the time, buttcha can’t fool bla bla bla…” Basically, if you’ve seen your Elmer Fudd, then you’ve seen your American sucker in all of his cartoon comic-foil glory: a sentimental buffoon, a harmless chump whose guns don’t fool anyone but himself.

    Every day, Americans play the role of Elmer Fudd to the oligarchy’s Bugs Bunny–if you look at it from the oligarchy’s point of view, at least.

    Exhibit A: Multigazllionaire scumbag Angelo Mozilo v. American Suckers.

    Tuesday it was reported that Mozilo, the guy who destroyed millions of Americans’ lives and now faces fraud charges, is making American taxpayers—his victims—pay for his legal defense. Yup, Bank of America, which only exists thanks to tens of billions of taxpayer dollars, is using YOUR MONEY to defend Angelo Mozilo against YOU, the victim.

    Bank of America paying Mozilo’s legal fees
    Tue Jun 9, 2009 3:59pm EDT

    NEW YORK (Reuters) – Bank of America Corp said on Tuesday it is covering the legal fees of Angelo Mozilo, the former Countrywide Financial Corp chief executive charged with securities fraud and insider trading.

    Lawyers for the former executives last week said they planned to fight the SEC’s claims.

    Bank of America has taken $45 billion from the U.S. government’s Troubled Asset Relief Program.

    What makes this really funny is that Mozilo doesn’t even need your money, because he’s already stolen at least half a billion from you suckers… But he’s taking taxpayer dollars to defend himself anyway, for the same reason that dogs lick their balls: BECAUSE IT TICKLES!

    And of course we’ve talked about another former Countrywide exec who started PennyMac to buy up all the shitty mortgages he created at Countrywide. Not sure what it’s going to take for all the Elmers to realize how much we’re all getting fucked right now.

    • Stemella permalink*
      June 12, 2009 9:52 pm

      In my family we call it the “baaaaaaa condition” Sheeplish behavior. Same thing as Elmer, just less verbal. I don’t know what it will take either. Actually I do. It will take not getting any stations when the TV goes on, or not getting an juice period when flipping a switch. Not being able to get gas, period. Not being able to get water when the faucet is on. We’ve all been in the pot simmering for a while now, getting acclimated to higher prices, fewer options and fewer rights and liberties. It will take a full boil. By then of course, we’re cooked. Unless we hop out of the pot first.

  12. cometman permalink*
    June 13, 2009 10:28 am

    Hahaha!!! Why have I never seen this before?

    Squidbillies!!

    • Stemella permalink*
      June 13, 2009 1:05 pm

      Good lord!!! wow. That is some insane squid shit. I like it! :)

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