Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Story of the Year

and the most underreported story of 2006 is the coming class divide and the consequences. 2006 was the tipping point, the year when more people started to really notice (kind of like global warming) that the rich are getting richer, we're talking mega, grotesquely rich, and the rest of us will soon be begging for bread. okay, i'm being a wee bit dramatic. but homeless people, for example, are, more than ever, at the mercy of society's generosity but as we've seen, society isn't that kind anymore. witness katrina. of course, there were brilliant acts of generosity but overall, as a people, we care less.

we already have the ultra rich like oprah, bill gates, warren buffett and the like deciding who gets what. it's nice that some of the wealthy are generous but what about the ones who aren't? there are a lot of those. they are the people who believe in survival of the fittest. they believe that the smartest, the ones who work the hardest are most deserving of riches. they feel entitled, worthy. they are, after all, the ones who "create the jobs," they say. they believe that everybody can and should be like them. they feel everyone who tries hard enough can be rich or go to harvard. they feel the poor choose to be poor.

but life isn't like that. and the plight of the worker bees, the working poor and the plain poor is getting worse. more than ever, quality education, the equalizer, is out of reach for many people. why should we care if more people are becoming poorer? because it's good to be human. certainly, there are some economic benefits of fairness. other than that, i don't know. maybe it is all about darwin -- survival of the fittest --too bad if you can't cope.

but here's my working folks solution for the new year. get out of debt! get rid of credit card spending. do less shopping! i know, easier said than done. find other joys in life. spend more time with your family. ask for a raise. learn how to live a "sustainable" lifestyle. stop paying attention to what celebrities are wearing, doing, buying. ugh. they are perhaps the worst influence on our culture ever. these people are, in the big picture, fairly meaningless. i love a good movie or tv show, but celebrities aren't worthy of all the material goodies lavished upon them.

next, be less productive. i don't mean loaf on the job. get better at what you do. learn as much as you can. i mean take vacations and don't make them working ones. take time off. quit at quitting time. combining these two actions--less shopping and getting back some of your life--will give you more time and more money. time is better than money, well, for me anyway.

next, invest. i'm not advocating day trading. invest for the long haul and start soon! sharebuilder is an example of a nifty way to invest in a few stocks for cheap. vanguard doesn't charge fees for some of its funds and compounding is a glorious thing. don't forget savings accounts. forget about banks that don't pay interest or pay neglible interest. put your savings in a high interest account. go to and compare rates. open an account that offers the highest interest rates and no fees. for learning about investing, i recommend

but don't wait to figure out the stock market. the only way to figure it out is to actually do it. don't risk a lot of money, of course. just a little until you get the hang of it.

go to dinkytown (funny name, great calculators) to figure it all out. want to know how much to save before you reach $1 million? dinkytown will tell you.

next, share with others who have less than you.
finally, i'm no financial whiz, just someone who never wants to be in a position of begging for bread.
finally, finally, happy new year!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Disneyland Buys Chili Peppers

disneyland has licensed the chili peppers' "around the world" for the ride Rockin California Screaming and the chili's cover of stevie's "higher ground" for Space Mountain.

Hanging Jubilee

we have elevated ourselves as human beings, eh? oh, that's right justice was done. and aren't we all so much better for it?
the NYT writer who wrote this must be proud:
Published: December 31, 2006
BAGHDAD, Dec. 30 — Saddam Hussein never bowed his head, until his neck snapped.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

eat more fish, kill fewer people. that's what Joseph Hibbeln says. he studied the effects of Omega-3 fatty acids, in fish or in capsules at the store, on people across the world. he found that places where people ate more fish, there were fewer murders.

also, he said that fish-eating people are less inclined to be depressed. that means omega-3 is a mighty potent and wonderous substance because what causes people to be violent and what causes people to be depressed are two different things.

he said people stopped eating fish as they moved away from the coasts.

he also correlates fish eating and fewer people who need psychiatric help.

so let that be your new year's resolution -- eat more fish, or just buy omega-3 at the store. for fish haters or people who like to see fish swimming in the water, there are other sources of omega-3.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Divine Strake Public Comments

possible lead-in to nukes?....public comments on the divinity of the divine strake, a large explosion planned at the nevada test site this coming year, can be made at
get up to speed on the possible reawakening of the nukes.
we all know what divine means. but what about strake?
here's the definition:
Strake: A device for controlling air flow over an aircraft. A strake is also a part of a boat or ship used for generally the same purpose in water rather than air. It is a strip of planking in a wooden vessel or of plating in a metal one, running longitudinally along the vessel's side, its bottom or between them on the turn of the bilge.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Saying Goodbye to Dead Soldiers

i was thinking about getting a calendar today, you know, planning for the New Year, when i heard a story on NPR about Ian Black, an anethesiologist, who has to wear galoshes in the operating room at the hospital in Baghdad because the blood is so deep. he tells how the hospital workers say goodbye to the dead soldiers.

the way he told the story, it is radio after all, was so poignant, that it made me feel bad about buying a calendar, planning for the future and all. so, if you're suffering any post holiday blues or have forgotten about the wars going on, imagine serving in iraq, where sadly it seems lives are being wasted. better yet, listen to the story. it is uplifting in a twisted way, also a reminder that "peace on earth" is a quaint, outdated notion.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Quentin Blake

Quentin Blake illustrated most of Roald Dahl's books. brilliant.
painting on hospital walls, the nightingale project

Divine Strake

oh, the irony. Divine Strake. nukes from heaven. anyway, while the U.S. is telling certain countries that they had better put away their nukes or else, it appears the U.S. is fooling around with its own nukes in the nevada desert, specifically at the nevada test site. oh, the hypocrisy.

i would reckon this is one of the most underreported stories of the year.
see the letter. mind you, the divine explosion is being billed as that-- an explosion, you know, like mentos and diet coke.

the test site is a 1,375 square miles outdoor top secret lab. the famed Area 51 also is nearby as well as Nellis Airforce Base. Area 51 is a cool place to visit if you ever get a chance. of course, i never crossed the lines, big bulky guys with big guns and dark sunglasses make their presence known. it's always creepy fun to lurk around.
here's a primer for you from the official site: A unique national resource, the Nevada Test Site is a massive outdoor laboratory and national experimental center that cannot be duplicated. Larger than the state of Rhode Island, approximately 1,375 square miles, the Nevada Test Site is one of the largest restricted access areas in the United States. The remote site is surrounded by thousands of additional acres of land withdrawn from the public domain for use as a protected wildlife range and for a military gunnery range, creating an unpopulated land area comprising some 5,470 square miles.

Established as the Atomic Energy Commission's on-continent proving ground, the Nevada Test Site has seen more than four decades of nuclear weapons testing. Since the nuclear weapons testing moratorium in 1992 and under the direction of the Department of Energy (DOE), test site use has diversified into many other programs such as hazardous chemical spill testing, emergency response training, conventional weapons testing, and waste management and environmental technology studies.

Larger than many small countries, the Nevada Test Site offers an enormous amount of space, including more than a 1,000 miles of completely undisturbed land available for new projects. The vast site also offers security. The boundary and security areas are guarded, and the area is isolated from population centers.

as you know, what happens in vegas stays in vegas. this is a letter from the gov. of Nevada, dated Nov. 26, 2006.
here's some links
Divine Strake from Citizen Alert, anything you want to know about Divine nukes, from the government's perspective
washington post story
"nevada test site issues"
wiki Divine Strake

Saturday, December 16, 2006

End Poverty or Yacht?

i pulled this from the very end of a NYT story that says the world's rich could easily end poverty if they could manage with a few less yachts and helicopters. not only does the story say that the rich could end poverty. it also says that they should, morally speaking. interesting:
For more than 30 years, I’ve been reading, writing and teaching about the ethical issue posed by the juxtaposition, on our planet, of great abundance and life-threatening poverty. Yet it was not until, in preparing this article, I calculated how much America’s Top 10 percent of income earners actually make that I fully understood how easy it would be for the world’s rich to eliminate, or virtually eliminate, global poverty. (It has actually become much easier over the last 30 years, as the rich have grown significantly richer.) I found the result astonishing. I double-checked the figures and asked a research assistant to check them as well. But they were right. Measured against our capacity, the Millennium Development Goals are indecently, shockingly modest. If we fail to achieve them — as on present indications we well might — we have no excuses. The target we should be setting for ourselves is not halving the proportion of people living in extreme poverty, and without enough to eat, but ensuring that no one, or virtually no one, needs to live in such degrading conditions. That is a worthy goal, and it is well within our reach.

Peter Singer is the Ira W. DeCamp professor of bioethics at the Center for Human Values at Princeton University.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Mason Williams Classical Gas

this is an oldie but it is one of the bestest instrumental songs in the whole world.

while we're on instrumentals, i adore herb alpert and the tijuana brass' "taste of honey."
taste of honey is the last song in the set. the video is enchanting as well. windmills make me nutters. looks like tehachapi?

here's another one of my faves, "this guy's in love with you"

Lets Say Thanks

i found this at james frey's blog, lets say thanks, postcards for soldiers. you pick a postcard, add a custom message or one of their canned messages (i recommend custom) and send away.
speaking of james frey, he's apparently working on a book. i'm a fan of james' writing despite all the hoopla over his memoir.

Monday, December 04, 2006

You Witness News

see a newstory, take photos and send them in to Yahoo and Reuters news service at youwitnessnews. here's the email to submit photos to reuters:
of course, there's no pay involved but there's the possibility of getting your photo online or in print for thousands to see.
from the NYT:
Have Camera Phone? Yahoo and Reuters Want You to Work for Their News Service
Hoping to turn the millions of people with digital cameras and camera phones into photojournalists, Yahoo and Reuters are introducing a new effort to showcase photographs and video of news events submitted by the public.

Starting tomorrow, the photos and videos submitted will be placed throughout and Yahoo News, the most popular news Web site in the United States, according to comScore MediaMetrix. Reuters said that it would also start to distribute some of the submissions next year to the thousands of print, online and broadcast media outlets that subscribe to its news service. Reuters said it hoped to develop a service devoted entirely to user-submitted photographs and video.

“There is an ongoing demand for interesting and iconic images,” said Chris Ahearn, the president of the Reuters media group. He said the agency had always bought newsworthy pictures from individuals and part-time contributors known as stringers.

“This is looking out and saying, ‘What if everybody in the world were my stringers?’ ” Mr. Ahearn said.

The project is among the most ambitious efforts in what has become known as citizen journalism, attempts by bloggers, start-up local news sites and by global news organizations like CNN and the BBC to see if readers can also become reporters.

Many news organizations turned to photographs taken by amateurs to supplement coverage of events like the London subway bombing and the Asian tsunami. Yahoo’s news division has already used images that were originally posted on Flickr, the company’s photo-sharing site. For example, it created a slide show of images from Thailand after the coup there in September.

read the rest here

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Nathan Dungan

an interesting show on NPR about the divide between what we say about money and greed and how we spend our money. don't know about the malls in your city but they're pretty crowded around these parts this time of year.

americans seem to agree that society has become too materialistic but this christmas, more than not, people will take on more debt to pay for gifts. why?
here's the transcript:
Nathan Dungan talks about the reasons. Mr. Dungan teaches about money through his share-save-spend philosophy.
if you're not christian, you can look past the religious content -- i see myself as a student of all religions -- and see the value of what he says.

Mr. Dungan: And I think this is very appropriate for your question because my grandparents, particularly on my mother’s side, farmers, eastern — southeastern Colorado, raising five children on a 70-acre farm, OK, vegetable farm, they had a very clear definition of needs and wants.

Ms. Tippett: And the difference between needs and wants.

Mr. Dungan: And the difference between needs and wants. They paid cash and they physically had to get in the car to drive into town, you know, to purchase items. And then my grandparents on the other side, I remember my dad telling me stories about in the Depression when he was very young, they had very little food in the house, but yet they still would invite neighbors over to share what they had because that’s just the way it was.

So here we are, there’s kind of the role of the church, I think, is sort of a guiding light in terms of needs of others and gratitude, and really understanding again what is your purpose and place for being on this earth. You know, I think you can’t argue that it’s a good thing that people perhaps have prospered and that more people are homeowners and those kinds of things, but it’s come at a bit of a price as well in terms of the amount of debt that we hold, and from a very young age. I mean, the amount of credit card and, you know, education debt that young people have today is just…

Ms. Tippett: And I think that’s new.

Mr. Dungan: It’s new and it’s…

Ms. Tippett: In the last few years, it’s that college students have credit cards.

Mr. Dungan: Absolutely. I mean, it’s new and it’s debilitating. And I think, in some respects, I believe the church has been complicit in sort of getting sucked into this whole persuasive argument about the role of consumerism in our culture, and I really don’t think they have understood the impact. I believe they are starting to get it, but I don’t think they have fully thought through the impact of what that means for people’s souls, for our, you know, sense of place and time and space, and what it robs of us in terms of just our personal sense of being.

Ms. Tippett: I think that this was in an article you wrote. You asked a pretty condemning question, kind of the bumper sticker question, What would Jesus do?, but it was a version of that. What would Jesus say about churches’ complicity or even just complacence about turning the holiday that is Jesus’ birthday that we’re moving towards, turning that into this consumer fest?

Mr. Dungan: Yes. Well, I think it was in the context, actually, of a sermon that I gave recently at Christ Church Cathedral down in Indianapolis.

Ms. Tippett: And, you know, even though that sounds like a pretty obvious question, it’s not a question I’ve heard anyone ask quite so pointedly.

Mr. Dungan: One of my goals is really to get people to stop and think about where we’re at. You know, there’s the great metaphor about the frog and the boiling pot of water, and that the heat just continues to get turned up but you can’t really tell that it’s getting warmer in the pot, right? The frog can’t. I think, to some degree, that’s our society around consumption. The heat has been turned up, but I don't know that there’s been really a voice of kind of calling the question to say, ‘Is that acceptable; is that OK?’ And so when I put that phrase in the sermon, it was really a call-out to say, ‘Are we thinking about that?’ I mean, if Jesus were in the room today, I think He would be flummoxed by our obsession with consumption. And it doesn’t mean that we haven’t — aren’t still somewhat, to some degree, a generous people, but I do think there’s a point where that is going to be challenging for us to continue to follow through, to be generous when we’re so distracted by the time that we spend.

Jacob Needleman really, I think, focuses a lot on this issue in his book Money and the Meaning of Life, his whole notion about, you know, what is money about, what’s it for, what is the role that it plays in our life. And I think it was in some of his readings that I really started to ponder that.

Robert Wuthnow, a sociologist from Princeton, also asking many of these very same questions. I guess maybe what I’ve tried to do is put the question forth so that people on just a practical day-to-day level start to think about this intersection of money, values, and the culture, you know, and I ask people, are your values really reflected in the choices you’re making with money, or are those values being imposed on you?

read the whole transcript here

Saturday, December 02, 2006

John Frusciante Maybe

this is an extra special closeup of john's Maybe solo. it's sparkly!

from a fansite:

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Red Hot Chili Peppers Book

just published book "Band Together" explores four bands, including the Chilis. cost: $35. release from the publishing company:
Internal Dynamics in U2, REM, Radiohead & The Red Hot Chili Peppers Revealed in New Book

Toronto, November 30, 2006 -- A groundbreaking new book by Canadian author Mirit Eliraz explores the inner mechanics and communal life of the four most popular rock bands in the world.

In Band Together: Internal Dynamics in U2, R.E.M., Radiohead and the Red Hot Chili Peppers (McFarland & Company Publishers, 2006), the members of these iconic groups discuss the long-term collaboration within their respective units. Band Together looks at the relations between the bandmates, their shared artistic vision, their chemistry, the division of labor and proceeds within the group, the roles each member plays, how they cope with collective fame, how they remain united (and what factors test their commitment to each other), how the unit is governed, how the musicians collaborate in the studio, how they interact on tour, and much more.

“If you have ever wondered what it’s like to be part of an enduring and tight-knit rock band, this is the book for you,” says Eliraz.

The book features photos of the bands, as well as an extensive bibliography and detailed index.

McFarland ( ) is a leading U.S. publisher of scholarly, reference and academic books that are sold worldwide. The company is recognized for its serious works in a variety of fields, including the performing arts.

From The Joshua Tree to Blood Sugar Sex Magik, from Automatic for the People to OK Computer, they produced some of the most memorable rock albums of the post-punk era. Beyond the music, though, the members of U2, R.E.M., Radiohead and the Red Hot Chili Peppers share several common bonds. Having emerged from punk’s do-it-yourself ethos, they embody collective creativity over individual artistry. With the exception of the Chili Peppers’ revolving-door guitarists, each band’s lineup has remained stable while the groups outlasted most of their contemporaries. The twin factors of group-inspired music and long-term collaboration make these four bands important case studies in modern rock and roll.

With a focus on internal creative dynamics, author Mirit Eliraz studies four of the most popular, critically acclaimed, and prolific rock bands of the last quarter century. Introductory chapters offer band bios; reasons for formation; and each group’s friends, collaborators and business partners. Middle chapters discuss the governing structures and general relations within the bands; obstacles to unity and survival; how diverse elements are merged into a productive whole; role divisions; the collaborative process; and life on the road. Concluding chapters cover external influences on band dynamics; the evolution of each band’s communal life; and challenges to the band paradigm.
author's email:

Happy Together

utah musicans Seve vs. Evan cover of the Turtles classic... Happy Together. i adore this song. their other stuff is pretty cool too.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Hi I'm Adam From Africa

geneticist Spencer Wells traced human DNA back to its origins and discovered that every human, no matter what we look like, descended from people in Africa. science and religion are always battling it out but here's the ironic thing, science unites humans but religion divides us. race always divides us too but we all are descendants of a black man, separated by 2,000 generations, according to Wells.

Wells, by taking blood samples and studying DNA, proved that the Native Americans started with as few as 10 very hearty Chukchi people-- they live in 30 below weather in Russia with reindeer-- who crossed the Bering Strait about 15,000 years ago are the ancestors of every Native American. He traced the Chukchi people to a family in Kazakhstan. he traced the Kazakhstan people from Africa.

here is the question answered:
Where did Adam (the original male) live and what did he look like?
The unequivocal answer is that he lived in Africa. Every piece of DNA in our bodies can be traced back to an African source. The Y-chromosome traces back to eastern or southern Africa, around 60,000 years ago. The present-day inhabitants of Ethiopia, Sudan and southern Africa carry the clearest signals of our earliest ancestry, signals that have been lost in the rest of us. So they give us a glimpse of our 60,000 year-old Adam. Adam would have been fully modern, both in terms of his appearance and his brain function. It is speculation, of course, but perhaps the San Bushmen of the Kalahari - who in many ways are a composite model of facial features from people all over the world - give us a portrait of Adam and his fellow early humans.

spencer traces the journey of man in his book, "Journey of Man: A Genetic Odyssey."
here's the whole darned interview because i think it's fascinating:

Geneticist Spencer Wells spends his life traveling the globe taking blood samples from men and women in order to unravel the secrets of the human story: Where did humans come from? How did they spread over the globe? How did different races evolve? In THE JOURNEY OF MAN: A GENETIC ODYSSEY (Princeton University Press), Wells answers those questions for the first time using the latest discoveries of human genetics. We talked to Spencer as he sat for a moment between trips to Lebanon and Tunisia:

You say that there really was an Adam--a common male ancestor for all humans. How did you find that out?
We study a historical document carried in the blood of everyone alive today - DNA. Tiny spelling mistakes - changes in the DNA sequence - that occurred in the past can give us clues about genealogical relationships. If two people share a change, then they are likely to share an ancestor. If we look at the spelling mistakes carried by people all over the world, we find that ultimately all of us share a common ancestor. In the case of the male line, defined by a piece of DNA known as the Y-chromosome, this analysis allows us to trace back to a common male ancestor for everyone alive today. In other words, Adam.

Where did Adam live and what did he look like?
The unequivocal answer is that he lived in Africa. Every piece of DNA in our bodies can be traced back to an African source. The Y-chromosome traces back to eastern or southern Africa, around 60,000 years ago. The present-day inhabitants of Ethiopia, Sudan and southern Africa carry the clearest signals of our earliest ancestry, signals that have been lost in the rest of us. So they give us a glimpse of our 60,000 year-old Adam. Adam would have been fully modern, both in terms of his appearance and his brain function. It is speculation, of course, but perhaps the San Bushmen of the Kalahari - who in many ways are a composite model of facial features from people all over the world - give us a portrait of Adam and his fellow early humans.

Why do you focus on men? What about Eve?
It turns out that the Y-chromosome gives us two very important clues to the question of how we populated the world. First, it shows us our most recent common ancestor (Adam). This man lived in Africa around 60,000 years ago. The significance of this date is that it means that all modern humans were living in Africa until at least that time. In other words, within the past 60,000 years - only about 2,000 generations - our species has populated the entire planet. Clearly, we are all very closely related. The second clue provided by the Y-chromosome concerns the routes we followed in our migrations around the planet. Due to something I describe in the book as 'sexual politics', the male line gives us the best view of the routes followed. So, the Y - a piece of DNA that really doesn't do much more than to make men men - is one of the best historical documents ever written. Women also have a female history written in their mitochondrial DNA, showing the path to Eve around 150,000 years ago. For reasons explored in the book, the mitochondrial signal turns out to provide less resolution for studies of population history than the Y. Again, it comes down to a long history of sexual politics.

How does the genetic Adam relate to the Adam of the bible?
It's interesting that both genetics and the Bible show that there is a common origin of humanity. According to genetic data we come from a single male ancestor. In the Bible too it is mentioned that there is a single male Adam and single female, Eve. I don't equate our results one-to-one with the biblical story, of course, because if you count back through the generations described in the Bible, Adam should have existed in 4004 BC, and our Adam existed 60,000 years ago. Also, our Adam and Eve weren't the only people alive at the time, just the lucky ones who left descendants down to the present day. But it is nice to know that we arrive at the same general conclusion: we're all related.

If we all came from a black man, how did men and women of different colors come into being?
The accepted explanation for skin color differences is that we first evolved in a tropical region, in Africa. The tropical sun is quite strong, so the skin needed the protection provided by the natural sunscreen, melanin, which makes skin dark. When we started moving into the Northern Hemisphere 40,000 years ago, the sun was not as strong. Anyone who's been to London in February can tell you that! And because the sun helps us to synthesize Vitamin D, which we need to grow strong bones, we had to lose some of our pigmentation to allow enough sunlight through.

So what do our genes tell us about the biological differences between, say, Europeans and Africans?
They are literally only skin deep. We are all African cousins separated by - at most - 2,000 generations.

Has research on genes told us something about the first people to arrive in America?
Yes. Our data tells us that we could not have been in the Americas prior to 20,000 years ago, and the most likely date of entry was around 15,000 years ago. This is because the oldest Y-chromosome lineage in the Americas originated in Central Asia 15,000-20,000 years ago, and then migrated to the northeast, across the Bering Strait. If we were still in Central Asia 20,000 years ago, we couldn't have been in the Americas until after that date.

How do other scientists and the public react to your research?

In general, there is more and more agreement among paleoanthropologists, archaeologists, geneticists and historians about the details of our past. I suppose one thing that some people still find hard to accept is that we left Africa so recently, and blitzed our way around the world, but it does seem to have happened like that. I urge them to read the book, where I discuss the archaeological, linguistic and climatological clues that fill in the details of our journey. It is a synthetic look at the past, not simply a genetic tale.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Heroes Tim Sale

Peter P. He flies

by way of galley cat, an interview with the comic book artist behind my new favorite show, NBC's Heroes.
vote heroes best new TV drama
Hiro's blog

Mikah Sykes

an interesting interview with the portland, oregon musician who is a friend of john frusciante's girlfriend, emily kokal. he talks about his experience recording in john's home. i checked out mikah's myspace and i didn't really like his music much but apparently, john does and perhaps you will.
i do like this though.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Chili Peppers Roundhouse London

one of the best reviews of a chili show that i've ever seen and some awesome pics. this was a show at the roundhouse in london the day before thanksgiving. john truly does look troubled -- no turkey with loved ones? i imagine being on tour is a bear at times. Here's some more fabulous pics.
here is short video of what looks to be an exhausted or bothered john.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

John Frusciante's Sleeping

okay, so i stuck around cause the chili peppers were gonna be on the American Music Awards. welp, there they are in london by satellite, winning the favorite pop rock/band/duo category and anthony says John is back at the room sleeping. ugh.
funny stuff. oh well. rest up dear johnny!
oh, and i forgot, john must be resting up for the show ms. flo is going to see tomorrow in london. have a blast!

a link to the roxy show video that i *didn't* win tickets to :-(
some roxy show photos

Monday, November 20, 2006

It's a John Frusciante Evening!

Fox on the Run

gorgeous Murderers from To Record Water for Only 10 Days

Ode to John

Frusciante, that is....
this is way fab from a crafty gal across the pond.

here's another tribute set to "song to sing when i'm lonely." the ultimate happy song.

Save the Cheerleader

save the world.... does anybody watch Heroes? this show is the best, but i've heard zero buzz. i hope it doesn't get cancelled. it's about ordinary people with extraordinary powers. a cheerleader who can heal her body, a cop who can read minds, the heroin addicted painter who paints the future. one of the funniest characters, hiro, who's from japan, can travel through time. they're all getting around to meeting each other. who knows what they're supposed to do but we've been led to believe that they are going to save the world from some doomsday.

but there are bad guys with super powers. sylar and the the evil politician who can fly. just what the world needs. Ha!

there are others who may be good or bad. we don't know yet.
it's a large cast of mostly unknown actors as far as i can tell.
it all kind of takes place within a graphic novel. watch it! you'll be hooked.

God's Gonna Cut You Down

Chili Peppers appear on the new video for the Man in Black's song off American V
Evanescence singer Amy Lee, Coldplay's Chris Martin, U2 vocalist Bono and Plus 44 drummer Travis Barker, along with Flea and Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, all appear in the new video for the Johnny Cash song "God's Gonna Cut You Down." The concept and video treatment for the clip came from Justin Timberlake, who also appears in the video. A total of 36 artists show up in the clip, including Iggy Pop, Kanye West, actor Terrence Howard, Chris Rock, Jay-Z, Kate Moss, Sheryl Crow, Tommy Lee, the Dixie Chicks, Keith Richards, Kid Rock, Johnny Depp and many others.

The video features each artist in a separate vignette as they reflect silently on hearing the song for the first time. The video was directed by Tony Kaye, who recently helmed the clip for the Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Dani California."

The first choice to direct was Mark Romanek, who handled the video for Cash's celebrated cover of Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt," but scheduling conflicts forced him to bow out.

The video was shot in Los Angeles, New York and London, with Richards' sequence filmed in Amsterdam.

The song comes from the latest Cash release, American V: A Hundred Highways, which the musical legend recorded shortly before his death in 2003 at the age of 71.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Blood Diamond

bling is dead?
the movie "blood diamond" out dec. 8 shines a light on the sparkly jewel and the bloody ways it's used to fund organizations such as al quaida and african war lords.
"in america it's bling bling. out here it's bling bang," says leo dicaprio in the movie trailer.
but hold on, it's only so-called "conflict diamonds" that are the trouble, estimated to be less than 1% of the diamonds sold.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Who's Rumsfeld?

from the guys doing the work:
"Rumsfeld’s out," he said to five marines sprawled with rifles on the cold floor.

Lance Cpl. James L. Davis Jr. looked up from his cigarette. "Who’s Rumsfeld?" he asked.

that dose of reality thanks to a new york times story today.

Chili Peppers Secret Show

i didn't win :-(
but LAist says that some tix are available to the public if you've got time to stand on line tonight:
Tickets are free to the public and EXTREMELY LIMITED.

Tickets can only* be picked up tonight at the Circuit City at 4400 Sunset Blvd in East Hollywood starting at 7pm on a first-come-first-serve basis. Tickets come in pairs.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Chili Peppers to do Secret LA Show

from the LAist! the show is tied to micosoft's new zune music player. woo hoo! i signed up with only minutes to spare before the deadline. fingers crossed.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Rumsfeld Out

can the news get any better today?
here's an excerpt from a CNN story:
In brief remarks, Rumsfeld described the Iraq conflict as a "little understood, unfamiliar war" that is "complex for people to comprehend."

that's what made him arrogant and obnoxious. he thinks we're all just a bunch of dumb dumbs.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Deep Beneath the Cover

of Another Perfect Wonder,
ah, thanks flo. here's the chili's new video Snow:
it's a low key video, black and white shots and concert footage. love this song.

Snow lyrics:
Snow (hey Oh) by Red Hot Chili Peppers
Come to decide that the things that I tried were in my life just to get high on.
When I sit alone, come get a little known but I need more than myself this time.
Step from the road to the sea to the sky, and I do believe what we rely on
when I lay it on, come get to play it on all my life to sacrifice.
Hey oh...listen what I say oh I got your hey oh, now listen what I say oh
When will I know that I really can't go to the well once more time to decide on.
When it's killing me, when will I really see, all that I need to look inside.
Come to believe that I better not leave before I get my chance to ride,
when it's killing me, what do I really need all that I need to look inside.
Hey oh...listen what I say oh come back and hey oh, look at what I say oh
The more I see the less I know
The more I like to let it go - hey oh, woah...
Deep beneath the cover of another perfect wonder where it's so white as snow,
Privately divided by a world so undecided and there's nowhere to go;
In between the cover of another perfect wonder where it's so white as snow,
running through a field where all my tracks will be concealed and there's nowhere to go. Ho!Went to descend to amend for a friend All the channels that have broken down.
Now you bring it up,I'm gonna ring it up, Just to hear you sing it out.
Step from the road to the sea to the sky, and I do belive what we rely on,
when I lay it on, come get to play it on all my life to sacrifice
Hey oh...Listen what I say oh I got your hey oh...listen what I say oh
The more I see, the less I know The more I like to let it go - hey oh woah...
Deep beneath the cover of another perfect wonder where it's so white as snow.
Privately divided by a world so undecided and there's nowhere to go
In between the cover of another perfect wonder where it's so white as snow
Running through the field where all my tracks will be concealed and there's nowhere to go.
I said hey hey yeah oh yeah, tell my love now. Hey Hey yeah oh yeah, tell my love now.Deep Beneath the cover of another perfect wonder where it's so white as snow, Privately divided by a world so undecided and there's nowhere to go. Deep Beneath the cover of another perfect wonder where it's so white as snow...Running through the field where all my tracks will be concealed and there's nowhere to go.I said hey oh yeah oh yeah..tell my love now Hey yeah yeah...oh yeah

My First Blog

today, i celebrate my two-year anniversary blogging. below is an essay i wrote and posted to my first blogsite (hosted somewhere else at the time). my great disappointment that prez. bush won the election was the reason i started blogging.

here we are again, election time. i didn't want to vote but did anyway because i could mail it in. when you have politicians insulting your intelligence with ads such as "i was fat." that's from mr. bustamante, running for office here in cali. he tries to say that because he lost weight he can do the same for california, or something absurd like that. who are these ads targeting?

here's my prediction: despite the media yammering on about people wanting change, it will still be a republican congress once the votes are tallied. who doesn't want to see change? but for me, i can't tell the difference between a republican or a democrat. one is as good as the other. they're all the same. the democrats, sadly, haven't done anything to stand out. the only politician i've seen that's remotely intriguing is barak obama.

anyway, this is the one of the only times i'll ever blog about politics. after my first post in november 2004, i decided i didn't want to write about politics. i felt like i needed a year-long shower. besides, there are so many bloggers that write about politics, either left or right, and their discussions are so full of venom.

really, i don't consider myself either D or R and i think that we've been pushed to take sides, thanks in large part to our current leadership. these days, i don't think the country is as divided -- red and blue -- as we are made to believe. i think we just have a leader who is a divider not a uniter.

i still think that picking a fight in iraq was a monstrous mistake in every regard, so big that we'll not feel the full effects. future generations of the world will. here's another thing, i don't think that anyone truly believed there were WMDs in Iraq. i know everyone says they did. i think americans, still smarting over the terrorist attacks, just wanted to believe and wanted revenge, even if it was the wrong target.

americans rationalized that Iraq was A target. sadaam was a bad guy, so why not? everything got mixed up. are we fighting osama or sadaam? are they brothers? and then the prez put the fear of god in the people, who were already scared. and the people fell for it. i don't blame the prez anymore because i think he's trying his best. i don't think he's evil. he's merely a reflection of the american people.

speaking of evil reflections, what a nice coincidence ;-)that ted haggard, the leader of the evangelicals that were so influential in 2004, has been found to be a hypocrite. i remember when he condemned homosexuals and non-christians to hell on a barbara walters special. why would anyone follow a man who believed that? why would anyone follow a man?

poor guy. he's just a gay man who has tortured himself his whole life for being gay. if the planet is still around in 40 years, homosexuality will be a non issue. the funny thing is, if mr. ted had been true to who he is, he'd be a more christian human being. i don't think his outing was a coincidence. but there i go mixing religion and politics.

My First Blog, Nov. 2004:

Why am I so angry with my mother for voting for George Bush?
Why am I so disheartened that 59 million of my fellow Americans voted for

Why am I so depressed?

One of my friends sent me a consoling email: "The depression is deep and widespread," she said. Someone else I know is making black armbands.

I am not alone. I know that. But still, I’m miserable.

I honestly thought that Sen. John Kerry was going to win in a landslide. I ended all of my emails "Kerry in a landslide!" I know, many of you are laughing, thinking of me as a poor naïve liberal Democrat. (I did vote for Arnold Schwarzenegger and I’m registered as Independent).

I thought the people were going to rise up. I had such hope and faith that a new era of enlightenment was here. I imagined the look on Bush’s face when he found he was out. I pictured him having a tantrum.

I imagined the red-faced, contorted look on right wing talk show host, Rush Limbaugh, the one who my mother listens to.

I knew Kerry was a good man. I was convinced after I watched him on C-SPAN as a younger Kerry speaking out against the Vietnam War. He spoke eloquently, was enlightened and way ahead of his time. Still is.

I knew he was peace-minded. Then came the debates. I could see he wanted to make a difference. I knew he was smart.

I didn’t vote for him to vote against Bush. I thought he was the cat’s pajamas. To me, he was hope.

Today, I’m wondering how Kerry would be handling Iraq and would the Red team feel so awful with Bush out of office? Would the stock market have plunged if Kerry was elected?

I got Kerry.

I didn’t get Bush. I don’t get Bush.
I didn’t understand what he was saying. Does "freedom is on the march" actually mean "Christianity is on the march?" Do people think that God speaks to Bush?

Perhaps the biggest mystery of all: Bush won on "moral values?" I’m truly dumbfounded.

Does that mean the rest of us have no "moral values?" I have plenty.

I believe that you should help the poorest long before you help the richest. I believe we should take care of the environment even though we may not live long enough to see the results. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with two people of the same sex being in love or having a life together.

But this leads me to wonder: Are these the people that go to church, the ones that have "moral values?" Is that what they teach in church?

I don’t go to church. I don’t believe that "church" is a place. I believe everyone should be able to worship the way they choose. I believe if people are more aligned with their own faith, rather than trying to convert others, the results will be better for all.

Aren’t we all under the same umbrella?
But I guess those are different values.

I feel disconnected. But it has spurred me to try and "get it" or be lost in despair, worse yet, give in to the awful oppression that I feel.

I want to understand the Red team and what makes them tick. So if you see me at your church taking notes, be kind. Feel free to explain to me why war is okay but abortion is not. (For the record, I’m not for abortion but I am for a practical approach that would help solve the problem). Why tax breaks to the rich is okay, but breaks for the poor is not? Why forcing "democracy" and "freedom" on other countries is okay but racism, which squashes freedom and democracy, persists in the U.S.

It’s not likely that I’ll cross over to the other side to be a Bush supporter. But at least I’ll understand.

A note to the Democratic Party: I’m not interested in a candidate that would appeal to the Red team.

I’m on the Blue team now and although some people I love dearly aren’t on my team, 56 million people are, and for that I’m hopeful.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Vote John Frusciante Best Guitarist

do it here
i love this song! "city of new orleans" by John. the original, part of my 45 collection, is by arlo guthrie. John messes up but then the audience spurs him to go on. that's what makes his solos the bestest parts of the chilis shows. they are often songs he just learned. he's also doing fleetwood mac's songbird. i'd like to see him do a gordon lightfoot song or the carpenters.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

National Novel Writing Month

i didn't know. now i do. november is national novel writing month, where people of all abilities write a book in 30 days. it doesn't matter if it's bad, only that you write 50,000 words (175 pages). dare i? what fun.
today is day one.
i've lost one day.
but i'm in.
here's the blog

Sylvia Plath Ennui

Sylvia's recently discovered poem at Blackbird. it was inspired by The Great Gatsby.
read how it was found
here's an original typewritten draft

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Grim Reaper

i saw the grim reaper today on the street corner nearby diedrich coffee shop and i thought i was done for... til i remembered, it's halloween.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Fence Me In

the Prez approves a 700-mile fence to keep people out. democrats and republicans alike agreed -- what a great idea.

i can't think of anything more foolish, inane, absurd. this is how i know it's a childish idea -- the minutemen, or minute men, as in very small men, have been foaming for a fence and they are pretty much foolish folks. they say they're afraid of immigrants but i think they're bored with themselves. here's their web site if you want to see for yourself.

Ataxia 2 Coming Soon

update: Ataxia follow up CD out March 20! See latest post

rumblings that john frusciante, joe lally and josh klinghoffer's (together as Ataxia) Automatic Writing followup will be out in december, january or february. at least it's coming!

this from, a fan site:
The official German John Frusciante website has now revealed the release date for the second release from the Ataxia session in February 2004. It will be released in Germany on the 1st December 2006.
There are no further information given concerning a possible record title or a cover.

But we can already name the tracklist of an unmastered version:

1. Ethiopian Song
2. The Empty's Response
3. Attention
4. OLA
5. The Soldier

Monday, October 23, 2006

The God Delusion

and now for the backlash... it had to happen. balance to all the religious zealots, the evangelism, the mingling of politics and religion. now, there's a you-fool-there-is-no-god-only-science movement. why can't there be a happy middle?

Wired has a story in this month's mag.
also, below from the NYT, a book review of the God Delusion.
October 22, 2006
Beyond Belief
Skip to next paragraph
By Richard Dawkins.

406 pp. Houghton Mifflin Company. $27.
Richard Dawkins, who holds the interesting title of “Charles Simonyi professor of the public understanding of science” at Oxford University, is a master of scientific exposition and synthesis. When it comes to his own specialty, evolutionary biology, there is none better. But the purpose of this book, his latest of many, is not to explain science. It is rather, as he tells us, “to raise consciousness,” which is quite another thing.

The nub of Dawkins’s consciousness-raising message is that to be an atheist is a “brave and splendid” aspiration. Belief in God is not only a delusion, he argues, but a “pernicious” one. On a scale of 1 to 7, where 1 is certitude that God exists and 7 is certitude that God does not exist, Dawkins rates himself a 6: “I cannot know for certain but I think God is very improbable, and I live my life on the assumption that he is not there.”

Dawkins’s case against religion follows an outline that goes back to Bertrand Russell’s classic 1927 essay “Why I Am Not a Christian.” First, discredit the traditional reasons for supposing that God exists. (“God” is here taken to denote the Judeo-Christian deity, presumed to be eternal, all-powerful, all-good and the creator of the world.) Second, produce an argument or two supporting the contrary hypothesis, that God does not exist. Third, cast doubt on the transcendent origins of religion by showing that it has a purely natural explanation. Finally, show that we can have happy and meaningful lives without worshiping a deity, and that religion, far from being a necessary prop for morality, actually produces more evil than good. The first three steps are meant to undermine the truth of religion; the last goes to its pragmatic value.

What Dawkins brings to this approach is a couple of fresh arguments — no mean achievement, considering how thoroughly these issues have been debated over the centuries — and a great deal of passion. The book fairly crackles with brio. Yet reading it can feel a little like watching a Michael Moore movie. There is lots of good, hard-hitting stuff about the imbecilities of religious fanatics and frauds of all stripes, but the tone is smug and the logic occasionally sloppy. Dawkins fans accustomed to his elegant prose might be surprised to come across such vulgarisms as “sucking up to God” and “Nur Nurny Nur Nur” (here the author, in a dubious polemical ploy, is imagining his theological adversary as a snotty playground brat). It’s all in good fun when Dawkins mocks a buffoon like Pat Robertson and fundamentalist pastors like the one who created “Hell Houses” to frighten sin-prone children at Halloween. But it is less edifying when he questions the sincerity of serious thinkers who disagree with him, like the late Stephen Jay Gould, or insinuates that recipients of the million-dollar-plus Templeton Prize, awarded for work reconciling science and spirituality, are intellectually dishonest (and presumably venal to boot). In a particularly low blow, he accuses Richard Swinburne, a philosopher of religion and science at Oxford, of attempting to “justify the Holocaust,” when Swinburne was struggling to square such monumental evils with the existence of a loving God. Perhaps all is fair in consciousness-raising. But Dawkins’s avowed hostility can make for scattershot reasoning as well as for rhetorical excess. Moreover, in training his Darwinian guns on religion, he risks destroying a larger target than he intends.

The least satisfying part of this book is Dawkins’s treatment of the traditional arguments for the existence of God. The “ontological argument” says that God must exist by his very nature, since he possesses all perfections, and it is more perfect to exist than not to exist. The “cosmological argument” says that the world must have an ultimate cause, and this cause could only be an eternal, God-like entity. The “design argument” appeals to special features of the universe (such as its suitability for the emergence of intelligent life), submitting that such features make it more probable than not that the universe had a purposive cosmic designer.

These, in a nutshell, are the Big Three arguments. To Dawkins, they are simply ridiculous. He dismisses the ontological argument as “infantile” and “dialectical prestidigitation” without quite identifying the defect in its logic, and he is baffled that a philosopher like Russell — “no fool” — could take it seriously. He seems unaware that this argument, though medieval in origin, comes in sophisticated modern versions that are not at all easy to refute. Shirking the intellectual hard work, Dawkins prefers to move on to parodic “proofs” that he has found on the Internet, like the “Argument From Emotional Blackmail: God loves you. How could you be so heartless as not to believe in him? Therefore God exists.” (For those who want to understand the weaknesses in the standard arguments for God’s existence, the best source I know remains the atheist philosopher J. L. Mackie’s 1982 book “The Miracle of Theism.”)

It is doubtful that many people come to believe in God because of logical arguments, as opposed to their upbringing or having “heard a call.” But such arguments, even when they fail to be conclusive, can at least give religious belief an aura of reasonableness, especially when combined with certain scientific findings. We now know that our universe burst into being some 13 billion years ago (the theory of the Big Bang, as it happens, was worked out by a Belgian priest), and that its initial conditions seem to have been “fine tuned” so that life would eventually arise. If you are not religiously inclined, you might take these as brute facts and be done with the matter. But if you think that there must be some ultimate explanation for the improbable leaping-into-existence of the harmonious, biofriendly cosmos we find ourselves in, then the God hypothesis is at least rational to adhere to, isn’t it?

No, it’s not, says Dawkins, whereupon he brings out what he views as “the central argument of my book.” At heart, this argument is an elaboration of the child’s question “But Mommy, who made God?” To posit God as the ground of all being is a nonstarter, Dawkins submits, for “any God capable of designing a universe, carefully and foresightfully tuned to lead to our evolution, must be a supremely complex and improbable entity who needs an even bigger explanation than the one he is supposed to provide.” Thus the God hypothesis is “very close to being ruled out by the laws of probability.”

Dawkins relies here on two premises: first, that a creator is bound to be more complex, and hence improbable, than his creation (you never, for instance, see a horseshoe making a blacksmith); and second, that to explain the improbable in terms of the more improbable is no explanation at all. Neither of these is among the “laws of probability,” as he suggests. The first is hotly disputed by theologians, who insist, in a rather woolly metaphysical way, that God is the essence of simplicity. He is, after all, infinite in every respect, and therefore much easier to define than a finite thing. Dawkins, however, points out that God can’t be all that simple if he is capable of, among other feats, simultaneously monitoring the thoughts of all his creatures and answering their prayers. (“Such bandwidth!” the author exclaims.)

If God is indeed more complex and improbable than his creation, does that rule him out as a valid explanation for the universe? The beauty of Darwinian evolution, as Dawkins never tires of observing, is that it shows how the simple can give rise to the complex. But not all scientific explanation follows this model. In physics, for example, the law of entropy implies that, for the universe as a whole, order always gives way to disorder; thus, if you want to explain the present state of the universe in terms of the past, you are pretty much stuck with explaining the probable (messy) in terms of the improbable (neat). It is far from clear which explanatory model makes sense for the deepest question, the one that, Dawkins complains, his theologian friends keep harping on: why does the universe exist at all? Darwinian processes can take you from simple to complex, but they can’t take you from Nothing to Something. If there is an ultimate explanation for our contingent and perishable world, it would seemingly have to appeal to something that is both necessary and imperishable, which one might label “God.” Of course, it can’t be known for sure that there is such an explanation. Perhaps, as Russell thought, “the universe is just there, and that’s all.”

This sort of coolly speculative thinking could not be more remote from the rococo rituals of religion as it is actually practiced across the world. Why is it that all human cultures have religion if, as Dawkins believes he has proved, it rests on a delusion? Many thinkers — Marx, Freud, Durkheim — have produced natural histories of religion, arguing that it arose to serve some social or psychological function, such as, in Freud’s account, the fulfillment of repressed wishes toward a father-figure.

Dawkins’s own attempt at a natural history is Darwinian, but not in the way you might expect. He is skeptical that religion has any survival value, contending that its cost in blood and guilt outweighs any conceivable benefits. Instead, he attributes religion to a “misfiring” of something else that is adaptively useful; namely, a child’s evolved tendency to believe its parents. Religious ideas, he thinks, are viruslike “memes” that multiply by infecting the gullible brains of children. (Dawkins coined the term “meme” three decades ago to refer to bits of culture that, he holds, reproduce and compete the way genes do.) Each religion, as he sees it, is a complex of mutually compatible memes that has managed to survive a process of natural selection. (“Perhaps,” he writes in his usual provocative vein, “Islam is analogous to a carnivorous gene complex, Buddhism to a herbivorous one.”) Religious beliefs, on this view, benefit neither us nor our genes; they benefit themselves.

Dawkins’s gullible-child proposal is, as he concedes, just one of many Darwinian hypotheses that have been speculatively put forward to account for religion. (Another is that religion is a byproduct of our genetically programmed tendency to fall in love.) Perhaps one of these hypotheses is true. If so, what would that say about the truth of religious beliefs themselves? The story Dawkins tells about religion might also be told about science or ethics. All ideas can be viewed as memes that replicate by jumping from brain to brain. Some of these ideas, Dawkins observes, spread because they are good for us, in the sense that they raise the likelihood of our genes getting into the next generation; others — like, he claims, religion — spread because normally useful parts of our minds “misfire.” Ethical values, he suggests, fall into the first category. Altruism, for example, benefits our selfish genes when it is lavished on close kin who share copies of those genes, or on non-kin who are in a position to return the favor. But what about pure “Good Samaritan” acts of kindness? These, Dawkins says, could be “misfirings,” although, he hastens to add, misfirings of a “blessed, precious” sort, unlike the nasty religious ones.

But the objectivity of ethics is undermined by Dawkins’s logic just as surely as religion is. The evolutionary biologist E. O. Wilson, in a 1985 paper written with the philosopher Michael Ruse, put the point starkly: ethics “is an illusion fobbed off on us by our genes to get us to cooperate,” and “the way our biology enforces its ends is by making us think that there is an objective higher code to which we are all subject.” In reducing ideas to “memes” that propagate by various kinds of “misfiring,” Dawkins is, willy-nilly, courting what some have called Darwinian nihilism.

He is also hasty in dismissing the practical benefits of religion. Surveys have shown that religious people live longer (probably because they have healthier lifestyles) and feel happier (perhaps owing to the social support they get from church). Judging from birthrate patterns in the United States and Europe, they also seem to be outbreeding secular types, a definite Darwinian advantage. On the other hand, Dawkins is probably right when he says that believers are no better than atheists when it comes to behaving ethically. One classic study showed that “Jesus people” were just as likely to cheat on tests as atheists and no more likely to do altruistic volunteer work. Oddly, Dawkins does not bother to cite such empirical evidence; instead, he relies, rather unscientifically, on his intuition. “I’m inclined to suspect,” he writes, “that there are very few atheists in prison.” (Even fewer Unitarians, I’d wager.) It is, however, instructive when he observes that the biblical Yahweh is an “appalling role model,” sanctioning gang-rape and genocide. Dawkins also deals at length with the objection, which he is evidently tired of hearing, that the arch evildoers of the last century, Hitler and Stalin, were both atheists. Hitler, he observes, “never formally renounced his Catholism”; and in the case of Stalin, a onetime Orthodox seminarian, “there is no evidence that his atheism motivated his brutality.” The equally murderous Mao goes unmentioned, but perhaps it could be argued that he was a religion unto himself.

Despite the many flashes of brilliance in this book, Dawkins’s failure to appreciate just how hard philosophical questions about religion can be makes reading it an intellectually frustrating experience. As long as there are no decisive arguments for or against the existence of God, a certain number of smart people will go on believing in him, just as smart people reflexively believe in other things for which they have no knock-down philosophical arguments, like free will, or objective values, or the existence of other minds. Dawkins asserts that “the presence or absence of a creative super-intelligence is unequivocally a scientific question.” But what possible evidence could verify or falsify the God hypothesis? The doctrine that we are presided over by a loving deity has become so rounded and elastic that no earthly evil or natural disaster, it seems, can come into collision with it. Nor is it obvious what sort of event might unsettle an atheist’s conviction to the contrary. Russell, when asked about this by a Look magazine interviewer in 1953, said he might be convinced there was a God “if I heard a voice from the sky predicting all that was going to happen to me during the next 24 hours.” Short of such a miraculous occurrence, the only thing that might resolve the matter is an experience beyond the grave — what theologians used to call, rather pompously, “eschatological verification.” If the after-death options are either a beatific vision (God) or oblivion (no God), then it is poignant to think that believers will never discover that they are wrong, whereas Dawkins and fellow atheists will never discover that they are right.

As for those in between — ranging from agnostics to “spiritual” types for whom religion is not so much a metaphysical proposition as it is a way of life, illustrated by stories and enhanced by rituals — they might take consolation in the wise words of the Rev. Andrew Mackerel, the hero of Peter De Vries’s 1958 comic novel “The Mackerel Plaza”: “It is the final proof of God’s omnipotence that he need not exist in order to save us.”

Jim Holt, a regular contributor to The New Yorker and The New York Times Magazine, is working on a book about the puzzle of existence.

Friday, October 20, 2006

John Frusciante Ascending

Is this fab or what? a very crafty friend made this for me and needless to say, I was very happy. she's a major RHCP fan and getting into John's music. here's a link to a cool Red Hot Chili Peppers canvas she made. she could make a fortune selling these, if you ask me.
Thanks again Flo!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Sphere in the Heart of Silence

i had heard about this performance at an LA club and here 'tis. this is John Frusciante doing Walls off the Sphere CD, the disco album as I like to call it. Sphere is all dance all the time

Thursday, October 05, 2006

It's a John Frusciante Day!

because it is.
rarely can music be inhaled but i assure you, if you inhale John Frusciante's music it will make you sparkly. that's right. so if you're feeling low, there's a Johnny song. if you're feeling happy, there's a Johnny song. might i add, that stadium arcadium (john is the guitar player for the red hot chili peppers and a solo artist with about 10 glorious albums out there) is one to be inhaled. ah, try it, you'll see.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

National Ask For A Raise Day

on a recent oprah show, a handsome wealthy family turns over the keys to a house that they bought for a poor family, victims of Katrina. the givers were so pleased with themselves that they said they were going to do it again, buy another house for another poor, poor family. it occured to me then that there's a lot of that going on lately. sure was nice of them. but it's kind of frightening.

poor people, even middle class folk, are becoming more dependent on the kindness of the richy riches who have all the money. is this a good way for society to operate? we depend on fortune's wealthiest, billionaires like bill gates and warren buffett, to save the world? fortunately, more wealthy people are sharing their riches but
what about the ones who don't? how many of of them never share a dime?

wealthy people tend to horde their riches and they tend to keep it in the family and they circulate it within a small network of other wealthy people. don't tell me they work harder for it. cause it ain't true. maybe they work smarter. but on whose back?

should wealthy people share their money?

seems to me that shouldn't even be a question. they just shouldn't have so much of it. it would be nice if the wealth was spread out more evenly, so more people have a chance to actually do more than scrape out a living, so they wouldn't have to work two, three jobs just to get by. working hard doesn't necessarily equal more money. there are plenty of people who work hard for dirt. it would be nice if the people at the top were paid less and the worker bees received more. it would be nice if more people were more comfortable rather than just a few very comfortable folks with all the money.

what's wrong with that? why is that such an evil concept in our society? does that rich dude really need another home? really need another exotic car, when that single car could house and feed several people for a year? why can't they settle for comfortable? why do they have to have everything? imagine the world if the people at the top earned a few thousand less and the people on the bottom made $5 an hour more.

maybe we should have a national ask for a raise day.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

To Beat the Man, Get a Plan

great article on how the democrats have focused on "the man" without a plan of their own.
what do you do when you feel weaker than a rival? why, you poke fun and draw attention to your opponent. that is, if you're immature and shallow. peggy argues that the hapless democrats have done just that. sorry bunch of leaders.


To Beat a Man, You Need a Plan

The election is all about Bush, and that's not necessarily good for the Dems.

Friday, September 15, 2006 12:01 a.m. EDT

Autumn is the true American New Year. This is when we make our real resolutions.

The perfect fall has two things, present pleasure (new exhibits, shows, parties) and something to look forward to--for the political, the upcoming election.

Which is my subject. My resolution is to try in a renewed way, each day, and within my abilities, to be fair. I find myself thinking so much of William Meredith's poem about the advice he'd received from older writers: "Look hard at the world, they said--generously, if you can manage that, but hard."

In light of that, my sense of things: They say the election is all about Iraq. It's not. It's about George W. Bush. He dominates the discussion, or rather obsesses the discussers.

He is talking a lot lately, out there in America, and in the Oval Office. People don't say as often as they used to, "You watch Bush's speech last night?" Or they don't ask it with the same anticipation and interest.

I think that Americans have pretty much stopped listening to him. One reason is that you don't have to listen to get a sense of what's going on. He does not appear to rethink things based on new data. You don't have to tune in to see how he's shifting emphasis to address a trend, or tacking to accommodate new winds. For him there is no new data, only determination.

He repeats old arguments because he believes they are right, because he has no choice--in for a penny, in for a pound--and because his people believe in the dogma of the magic of repetition: Say it, say it, to break through the clutter.

There's another reason people don't listen to Mr. Bush as much as they did. It is that in some fundamental way they know they have already fully absorbed him. He's burned his brand into the American hide.

Pundits and historians call Mr. Bush polarizing--and he is, but in some unusual ways. For one thing, he's not trying to polarize. He is not saying, "My team is for less government, your team is for more--my team, stand with me!"

Mr. Bush has muddied what his team stands for. He has made it all come down to him--not to philosophy but to him and his certitudes.

What is polarizing about him is the response he elicits from Americans just by being himself. They have deep questions about him, even as he is vivid to them.

Americans don't really know, deep down in their heads, whether this president, in his post-9/11 decisions, is a great man or a catastrophe, a visionary or wholly out of his depth.

What they increasingly sense is that he's one thing or the other. And this is not a pleasant thing to sense. The stakes are so high. If you woke most Americans up at 3:00 in the morning and said, "Tell me, looking back, what would you have liked in an American president after 9/11?" most of them would answer, "I was just hoping for a good man who did moderately good things." Who caught Osama, cleaned out Afghanistan, made it proof of the possibility of change and of the price to be paid by those who choose terror as a tactic. Not this historical drama queen, this good witch or bad.

The one thing I think America agrees on is that George Bush and his presidency have been enormously consequential. He has made decisions that will shape the future we'll inhabit. It's never "We must do this" with Mr. Bush. It's always "the concentrated work of generations." He doesn't declare, he commits; and when you back him, you're never making a discrete and specific decision, you're always making a long-term investment.

This can be exhausting.

And yet: You know he means it when he says he is trying to protect America. You know his heart is in it. You know he means it when he says there are bad guys and we will stop them. And that has meaning.

With all this polarity, this drama, this added layer Mr. Bush brings to a nation already worn by the daily demands of modern individual life, the political alternative, the Democrats, should roar in six weeks from now, right? And return us to normalcy?

Well, that's not what I sense.

I like Democrats. I feel sympathy for the hungry and hapless, identify with aspirations, am deeply frustrated with Mr. Bush. More seriously, I believe we are at the start of a struggle for the survival of the West, and I know it is better for our country if both of its two major parties have equal responsibility in that struggle. Beyond that, let's be frank. Bad days are coming, and we're all going to have to get through them together, with two parties, arm in arm. It's a big country.

But I feel the Democrats this year are making a mistake. They think it will be a cakewalk. A war going badly, immigration, high spending, a combination of sentimentality and dimness in foreign affairs--everyone in the world wants to be free, and in exactly the way we define freedom at dinner parties in McLean and Chevy Chase--and conservative thinkers and writers hopping mad and hoping to lose the House.

The Democrats' mistake--ironically, in a year all about Mr. Bush--is obsessing on Mr. Bush. They've been sucker-punched by their own animosity.

"The Democrats now are incapable of answering a question on policy without mentioning Bush six times," says pollster Kellyanne Conway. " 'What is your vision on Iraq?' 'Bush lied us into war.' 'Health care? 'Bush hasn't a clue.' They're so obsessed with Bush it impedes them from crafting and communicating a vision all their own." They heighten Bush by hating him.

One of the oldest clichés in politics is, "You can't beat something with nothing." It's a cliché because it's true. You have to have belief, and a program. You have to look away from the big foe and focus instead on the world and philosophy and programs you imagine.

Mr. Bush's White House loves what the Democrats are doing. They want the focus on him. That's why he's out there talking, saying Look at me.

Because familiarity doesn't only breed contempt, it can breed content. Because if you're going to turn away from him, you'd better be turning toward a plan, and the Democrats don't appear to have one.

Which leaves them unlikely to win leadership. And unworthy of it, too.

Ms. Noonan is a contributing editor of The Wall Street Journal and author of "John Paul the Great: Remembering a Spiritual Father," (Penguin, 2005), which you can order from the OpinionJournal bookstore. Her column appears Fridays on

Drowning Polar Bears

from reuters:
Polar bears drown, islands appear in Arctic thaw

By Alister Doyle, Environment CorrespondentFri Sep 15, 11:26 AM ET

Polar bears are drowning and receding Arctic glaciers have uncovered previously unknown islands in a drastic 2006 summer thaw widely blamed on global warming.

Signs of wrenching changes are apparent around the Arctic region due to unusual warmth -- the summer minimum for ice is usually reached between mid-September and early October before the Arctic freeze extends its grip.

"We know about three new islands this year that have been uncovered because the glaciers have retreated," said Rune Bergstrom, environmental adviser to the governor of Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago about 1,000 km (600 miles) from the North Pole.

The largest is about 300 by 100 meters, he told Reuters.

On a trip this summer "We saw a couple of polar bears in the sea east of Svalbard -- one of them looked to be dead and the other one looked to be exhausted," said Julian Dowdeswell, head of the Scott Polar Research Institute in England.

He said that the bears had apparently been stranded at sea by melting ice. The bears generally live around the fringes of the ice where they find it easiest to hunt seals.

NASA projected this week that Arctic sea ice is likely to recede in 2006 close to a low recorded in 2005 as part of a melting trend in recent decades. A stormy August in 2006 had slightly slowed the 2006 melt.

"There are very unusual conditions this year from Svalbard to Alaska," said Samantha Smith, director of the WWF's environmental group's Arctic Programme.

One international study in 2004 projected that summer ice could disappear completely by 2100, undermining the livelihoods of indigenous peoples and driving creatures such as polar bears toward extinction.


Smith said the shrinking ice should be a wake-up call for governments to cut emissions of greenhouse gases, mainly from power plants, factories and cars that most scientists say are causing global warming.

"The Arctic is likely to warm more than any other part of the world" because of global warming, said Dowdeswell. Darker water and soil, once exposed, soaks up far more of the sun's heat than mirror-like ice and snow.

The melt may also open up the Arctic to more exploration for oil, gas and minerals, increase fisheries and open a short-cut shipping route linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

Ian Stirling, a researcher with the Canadian Wildlife Service, said polar bears were finding it harder to find food, threatening their ability to reproduce.

"In 1980 the average weight of adult females in western Hudson Bay was 650 pounds (300 kg). Their average weight in 2004 was just 507 pounds," he said in a report this week. Numbers in the Hudson Bay region dropped to 950 in 2004 from 1,200 in 1989.

For some, the unseasonal warmth is good news. It was 5 C (41 F) on Friday in Longyearbyen, the main village on Svalbard. "Last year the first snow fell here on September 11 and stayed all winter," said Bergstrom.

"A lot of people here have boats to go out hunting in summer and go to cabins. So it's a good year for them -- the ice melted earlier and they can still use the boats," he said.

what everyone can do to stop global warming

Friday, September 15, 2006

Torture Me

the red hot chili peppers used for torture?
this from the NYT is kinda funny but RHCP's music is hardly torture. this is probably the only time i would agree with bill o'reilly, albeit for different reasons.
torture me, yeah, torture me.
At a Secret Interrogation, Dispute Flared Over Tactics

WASHINGTON, Sept. 9 — Abu Zubaydah, the first Osama bin Laden henchman captured by the United States after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, was bloodied and feverish when a C.I.A. security team delivered him to a secret safe house in Thailand for interrogation in the early spring of 2002. Bullet fragments had ripped through his abdomen and groin during a firefight in Pakistan several days earlier when he had been captured.

The events that unfolded at the safe house over the next few weeks proved to be fateful for the Bush administration. Within days, Mr. Zubaydah was being subjected to coercive interrogation techniques — he was stripped, held in an icy room and jarred by earsplittingly loud music — the genesis of practices later adopted by some within the military, and widely used by the Central Intelligence Agency in handling prominent terrorism suspects at secret overseas prisons.

President Bush pointedly cited the capture and interrogation of Mr. Zubaydah in his speech last Wednesday announcing the transfer of Mr. Zubaydah and 13 others to the American detention center in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. And he used it to call for ratification of the tough techniques employed in the questioning.

But rather than the smooth process depicted by Mr. Bush, interviews with nearly a dozen current and former law enforcement and intelligence officials briefed on the process show, the interrogation of Mr. Zubaydah was fraught with sharp disputes, debates about the legality and utility of harsh interrogation methods, and a rupture between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the C.I.A. that has yet to heal.

Some of those interviewed offered sharply contrasting accounts, but all said that the disagreements were intense. More than four years later, these disputes are foreshadowing the debate that Mr. Bush’s new proposals are meeting in Congress, as lawmakers wrangle about what rules should apply as terrorism suspects are captured, questioned and, possibly, tried before military tribunals.

A reconstruction of Mr. Zubaydah’s initial days of detention and interrogation, based on accounts by former and current law enforcement and intelligence officials in a series of recent interviews, provides the first detailed account of his treatment and the disputes and uncertainties that surrounded it. The basic chronology of how the capture and interrogation unfolded was described consistently by sources from a number of government agencies.

The officials spoke on the condition that they not be identified because many aspects of the handling of Mr. Zubaydah remain classified and because some of the officials may be witnesses in future prosecutions involving Mr. Zubaydah.

This week, President Bush said that he had not and never would approve the use of torture. The C.I.A. declined to discuss the specifics of the case on the record. At F.B.I. headquarters, officials refused to publicly discuss the interrogation of Mr. Zubaydah, citing what they said were “operational sensitivities.”

Some of the officials who were interviewed for this article were briefed on the events as they occurred. Others were provided with accounts of the interrogation later.

Before his capture, Mr. Zubaydah was regarded as a top bin Laden logistics chief who funneled recruits to training bases in Afghanistan and served as a communications link between Al Qaeda’s leadership and extremists in other countries.

As interrogators dug into his activities, however, they scaled back their assessment somewhat, viewing him more as the terror network’s personnel director and hotelier who ran a string of guest houses in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Mr. Zubaydah’s whereabouts in Pakistan had been determined in part through intercepted Internet communications, but for days after his capture his identity was in doubt. He had surgically altered his appearance and was using an alias. But when agents used a nickname for Mr. Zubaydah, he acknowledged his true identity, which was confirmed through analysis of his voice, facial structure and DNA tests.

By all accounts, Mr. Zubaydah’s condition was rapidly deteriorating when he arrived in Thailand. Soon after his capture, Mr. Zubaydah nearly died of his infected wounds. At one point, he was covertly rushed to a hospital after C.I.A. medical officers warned that he might not survive if he did not receive more extensive medical treatment.

According to accounts from five former and current government officials who were briefed on the case, F.B.I. agents — accompanied by intelligence officers — initially questioned him using standard interview techniques. They bathed Mr. Zubaydah, changed his bandages, gave him water, urged improved medical care, and spoke with him in Arabic and English, languages in which he is fluent.

To convince him they knew details of his activities, the agents brought a box of blank audiotapes which they said contained recordings of his phone conversations, but were actually empty. As the F.B.I. worked with C.I.A. officers who were present, Mr. Zubaydah soon began to provide intelligence insights into Al Qaeda.

For the C.I.A., Mr. Zubaydah was a test case for an evolving new role, conceived after Sept. 11, in which the agency was to act as jailer and interrogator for terrorism suspects.

According to accounts by three former intelligence officials, the C.I.A. understood that the legal foundation for its role had been spelled out in a sweeping classified directive signed by Mr. Bush on Sept. 17, 2001. The directive, known as a memorandum of notification, authorized the C.I.A. for the first time to capture, detain and interrogate terrorism suspects, providing the foundation for what became its secret prison system.

That 2001 directive did not spell out specific guidelines for interrogations, however, and senior C.I.A. officials began in late 2001 and early 2002 to draw up a list of aggressive interrogation procedures that might be used against terrorism suspects. They consulted agency psychiatrists and foreign governments to identify effective techniques beyond standard interview practices.

After Mr. Zubaydah’s capture, a C.I.A. interrogation team was dispatched from the agency’s counterterrorism center to take the lead in his questioning, former law enforcement and intelligence officials said, and F.B.I. agents were withdrawn. The group included an agency consultant schooled in the harsher interrogation procedures to which American special forces are subjected in their training. Three former intelligence officials said the techniques had been drawn up on the basis of legal guidance from the Justice Department, but were not yet supported by a formal legal opinion.

In Thailand, the new C.I.A. team concluded that under standard questioning Mr. Zubaydah was revealing only a small fraction of what he knew, and decided that more aggressive techniques were warranted.

At times, Mr. Zubaydah, still weak from his wounds, was stripped and placed in a cell without a bunk or blankets. He stood or lay on the bare floor, sometimes with air-conditioning adjusted so that, one official said, Mr. Zubaydah seemed to turn blue. At other times, the interrogators piped in deafening blasts of music by groups like the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Sometimes, the interrogator would use simpler techniques, entering his cell to ask him to confess.

“You know what I want,” the interrogator would say to him, according to one official’s account, departing leaving Mr. Zubaydah to brood over his answer. rest here.

RHCP Torture Me

Because I'm happy to be sad
I want it all I want it bad
Oh oh, it's what I know

A vintage year for pop I hear
The middle of the end is near
Let's go oh, it's what I know

Torture me and torture me
It's forcin' me so torture me, please
Torture me with sorcery
It's forcin' me so torture me, please

All the leaves are turning brown
The wind is pushing me around
Let's go oh, it's what I know

Torture me and torture me
It's forcin' me so torture me, please
Torture me with sorcery
It's forcin' me so torture me, please

The will of God is standing still
Brazilian children get their fill, Let's go

Let's turn it up and dumb it down
The vision of your ultra sound, Is so

All the leaves are turning brown
The wind is pushing me around, Let's go

A vintage year for pop I hear
The middle of the end is near, It's so

Torture me and torture me
It's forcin' me so torture me please
Torture me with sorcery
It's forcin' me so torture me, please (x2)