Why Is This Blind Person Running for Congress?

Before I answer this question, I would like to first thank all the commentators for their interest in my disability and their questions about the obstacles I have faced.

I lost my vision gradually throughout my childhood so that, while I could still read large print when I was ten or eleven, I could not when I was thirteen. Using a cane became necessary in my junior year of high school.

By the time I went to college (Brandeis) and grad school (Harvard) I was totally blind.
I started at Brandeis in 1968. These were the pre-personal computer dark ages. For all people, the personal computer has radically changed their lives; for blind folks, this change is downright revolutionary.

In college and grad school, virtually all my reading was done by sighted readers. Little of the material was in Braille or recorded. When working on my review of the literature for my doctoral dissertation, I broke my own personal record-35 hours a week of sighted readers for the entire summer to read absolutely everything I could find on my dissertation topic. And then there was typing. I did my writing on an electric typewriter. (Does anyone out there remember the electric typewriter?) Well the problem with typewriters for a blind person is that, if you get a phone call or otherwise get distracted, how do you figure out where you left off? And then there was the worst day of my academic life when I typed an entire chapter for a grant I was leading involving alternatives to institutionalization for developmentally disabled adults when I did not realize the typewriter ribbon had slipped. When my colleague told me that the twenty-five pages I had just given him were totally blank, I finally really understood what a bad day was.

And then God created the personal computer.

Part of the reason I am running for congress in NJ-5 involves my blindness. As you can imagine or know, it is not easy to be blind or otherwise disabled in a sighted or able-bodied world. But there is a great benefit to being blind. I learned what it really means to struggle. I learned how to respect all people who are struggling-with the limits of their bodies or the limits of their income or the limits of their parents’ income or the limits that society places on them because of their gender or choice of love partner or immigration status or race.

In my own case-a poor kid, totally blind, in Worcester, Mass-there was no way in the world that I could have gone to Brandeis and Harvard without a great deal of family and community and government support. No way! And this also figures into my politics. The money the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind invested in my education has been paid back many times over by the taxes I have paid over the past 31 years of my being a clinical psychologist and rabbi. So don’t talk to me about how cutting programs that truly help people who are struggling cuts taxes. To truly cut taxes and help people who are struggling with their circumstances or the accident of their birth we are going to have to be sensible about the investments in people that we make. And here I am–a proud and grateful beneficiary of a far-sighted government program that actually invested in people.

I am acutely aware that my election to congress is, of course, not just about me. In January 2009, when I am sworn in as a congressman from my district, I will proudly join a very small but (hopefully) growing list of individuals with disabilities–from Max Cleland of Georgia to Thomas Gore of Oklahoma–who have served their country in the U.S. Congress. I promise to take this responsibility to represent, not only my district, but also all people with disabilities with great humility and seriousness.

Is The Base Fleeing?

Nancy has given up on us….and on ending the Iraq Occupation

Really everyone of the Dems besides The Progressive Caucus and The Out Of Iraq Caucus and a few others who are REALLY working to stop the war (and who deserve more praise than we tend to give them)…..have given up on The Base.

The General Populace….or as we like to call them…..Voters, want the War over, and they want it over bad. We….being the base…..want it over even worse. Pelosi is right when she says that Iraq overrides everything else. But we can also add in Torture, Fisa, NOT enforcing subpoenas…..and at this point, NO high profile efforts to hold Bushco accountable. If the Dem Leadership was competent, there would be a new story on the endless permutations of the illegality of Bushco leading the news every night.

From the desperate interest in Ron Paul, to talk of another third party, to MANY folks on blogs saying they just won’t vote (and think on how THAT translates into the Gen Pop!) ……my question, in sooth, the way I am choosing to “facilitate communication” with our Congressional Democrats today to get them to WAKE THE FUCK UP, is by asking…..Is The Base Fleeing?

Please participate in da Poll

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Pony Open Thread: What You Can Do

Cost of the War in Iraq
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Through October 15, I plan to devote my Pony Party slots to support International Blog Action Day and its focus on our environment. I’ve found a sweet site, Save Our Planet Web Ring, that puts into context the everyday ways in which we can impact the earth for good or bad. I will add my own thing to the list of what we can do: simply, to believe that we have the power to make this world more equitable and more just. Jump below the fold… I really like the examples used by this site

What follows comes from Save Our Planet Web Ring

Oh, No!: Bad Facts about our earth

-If you throw away 2 aluminum cans, you waste more energy than 1,000,000,000 (one billion) of the world’s poorest people use a day.

-Making a new can from scratch uses the energy equal to half a can of gasoline.

-About one third of what an average American throws out is packaging.

-More than 1,000,000,000 (one billion) trees are used to make disposable diapers every year.

-In one minute, 50 acres of rainforest are destroyed.

-Some rain has a pH of 3 or 4. (which is pretty acidic, considering 7 is neutral, not acidic, and battery acid has a pH of 1). Some fish, such as lake trout and smallmouth bass, have trouble reproducing at a pH of 6, which is only slightly acidic. Some clams and snails can’t survive at all. Most crayfish are dead at a pH of 5. You can see how bad this is for the environment.

-On average, a person in the US uses energy two times more than a person in Japan or West Germany does, and 50 times more than a person in India.
About 90% of the energy used in lighting a standard (incandescent) light bulb is lost as heat.

-Air conditioning uses 10 times more energy than a fan, therefore, it creates 10 times the pollutants.

-It takes half the output of the Alaskan pipeline to heat the air that escapes
from all the homes in the US during a year.

-Cars and pick-up trucks are responsible for about 20% of the carbon dioxide released into the air.

-There are about 500 million automobiles on the planet, burning an average of 2 gallons of fuel a day. Each gallon releases 20 pounds of carbon dioxide into the air.

-About 80% of our trash goes to landfills, 10% is incinerated, and 10% is recycled.

-Since there is little oxygen underground, where we bury our garbage, to help bacteria eat the garbage, almost nothing happens to it. Scientists have dug into landfills and found ears of corn still intact after 20 years, and newspapers still readable after 30.

-The average American makes about 3.5 pounds of trash a day.

-In a year, the average American uses as much wood in the form of paper as the average resident of the developing world burns as fuel.

26 things we can do to help

1. Turn off lights.
2. Turn off other electric things, like TVs, stereos, and radios when not in use.
3. Use rechargable batteries.
4. Do things manually instead of electrically, like open cans by hand.
5. Use fans instead of air conditioners.
6. In winter, wear a sweater instead of turning up your thermostat.
7. Insulate your home so you won’t be cold in winter.
8. Use less hot water.
9. Whenever possible, use a bus or subway, or ride your bike or walk.
10. Buy organic fruits& vegetables because they are grown without man-made fertilizers and/or pesticides.
11. Don’t waste products made from forest materials.
12. Use recycled paper and/or recycle it. Reuse old papers.
13. Don’t buy products that may have been made at the expense of the rainforest.
14. Plant trees, espessially if you have cut one down.
15. Get other people to help you in your cause. Make and/or join an organization.
16. Avoid products that are used once, then thrown away.
17. Buy products with little or no packaging.
18. Encourage grocery stores to sell environmentally friendly cloth shopping bags or bring your own.
20. Compost.
21. Buy recycled products.
22. Don’t buy pets taken from the wild.
23. Support your nearby zoo (if a good one), especially those breeding endangered animals.
24. Don’t buy products if animals were killed to make it.
25. Cut up your six-pack rings before throwing them out.
26.Support products that are harvested from the rainforest but have not cut down trees to get it.


The richest Americans’ share of national income has hit a postwar record, surpassing the highs reached in the 1990s bull market, and underlining the divergence of economic fortunes blamed for fueling anxiety among American workers.

This from the WSJ no less. via (Huffpost)

I’d just like to thank the bush administration, the republicans in the 108th and 109th rubberstamp Congresses and the liberal media for their cooperation on making it possible.

The wealthiest 1% of Americans earned 21.2% of all income in 2005, according to new data from the Internal Revenue Service.

21.2% of all income.
Yep, gotta keep them rich folks ready to provide trickle down.

Next up, Senator Hatch demands refunds for dead plutocrats. “Their children are having problems paying for their third and fourth homes,” he said. “Now that’s not right.”

Earth to Gore: Time’s up!

Crossposted at Daily Kos and Truth & Progress

Like most of you, my first thought this morning, when I opened my eyes, was “Did he win?” And I came straight here for the answer, only to find ecstatic confirmation in my first bleary glance at the Recommended list. Yes, friends, the dream is beginning to become true, thanks to him, and also thanks to all of you! This is a force 8 tremor on the political Richter scale. But until he announces, his “chances” of entering the race will be endlessly poo-poohed by every Beltway voice, from Right Wing pundits to establishment scribes claiming personal knowledge to unofficial spin easily traceable to the Hillary campaign (Dan Gerstein on Hardball last night, anyone?). But none of all that really matters.

Here is what has to be driving Gore’s decision — and I’m among those who believe that his decision to run, conditional on a “tipping point” being reached in the media-driven public opinion climate in the U.S., was taken a long time ago. A few months back, when Gore was asked if there were any circumstance he could concieve of that would drive him into the race, he answered cryptically but tellingly that he had no idea, “but I’ll know it if I see it”. I’ve always thought that he was referring to two critical factors: the movement he hoped to build actually materializing, and the warnings his contacts in the scientific community had been pressing on him with ever-increasing urgency: that a point of no-return had been reached and the global climate had suddenly shifted gears and revved itself into chaotic, run-away warming.
Well, friends, it seems that both “tipping points” have now been reached, and while the first is cause for celebration, the second is unbelievably frightening:

A key threshold crossed
An Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report to be released next month will show that the limit on greenhouse-gases scientists hoped to avert has already been surpassed.

By Gregory M. Lamb
from the October 11, 2007 edition

In Ray Bradbury’s science fiction novel “Fahrenheit 451,” that number represented the temperature at which books would burn (…)

For climate scientists, a similar number, 450 parts per million (ppm), holds its own ominous meaning. It represents a dangerous concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere; a total that they were not expecting to be passed for at least another decade.

That sound you just heard is the 10 years that scientists have been warning we had to address this crisis evaporating. We no longer have them. They’re gone. And if we don’t get a move-on, it’s all downhill from here for the human species (and many other living things)

But a new UN-sponsored report, to be released next month, will show that as of 2005 the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere had already reached 455 ppm, according to Tim Flannery, a prominent Australian climate scientist who says he’s seen the raw data that go into the document.

“If you want to stabilise around 450 ppm, that means in a decade or two you have to start reducing emissions far below the current level…. So in other words, we have a very short window for turning around the trend we have in rising greenhouse gas emissions. We don’t have the luxury of time.”

But, says Flannery, named Australian of the Year for 2007, that window is closed. According to the Australian Associated Press he says that higher figure is due to miscalculating the potency of other greenhouse gasses, which are included in the 450 ppm figure and measured in terms equivalent to that of CO2. But he adds:

“[A]lso we have really seen an unexpected acceleration in the rate of accumulation of CO 2 itself, and that’s been beyond the limits of projection … beyond the worst-case scenario. We are already at great risk of dangerous climate change – that’s what the new figures say…. It’s not next year, or next decade; it’s now.

And Al knows this. He’s known it for a while. I’ve been fortunate enough to witness him giving his presentation live, last March, and from the new, unpublished information he revealed, it was obvious, to those who follow climate news closely, that he has deep contacts in the climate research community. And as others here who’ve seen his talk and shared their experience with the rest of us, Gore updates his slideshow DAILY.

Gore is a true leader. As he is reported to have said just yesterday, at a fundraiser for Senator Barbara Boxer, consciousness raising on the issue of global warming must avoid “paralyzing people with fear”. This is what the Bush administration, with the help of Osama bin Laden, has tried to do for the past 7 years, and for the first four, they succeeded. But the antidote to fear is HOPE and that is what Gore is offering. Not only to the American people, but to the rest of the world’s people. Because he CAN lead on this, the most dire threat we humans have ever faced. Because he has the knowledge, the experience of government, the esteem of the world community, the network of allies in every country, and above all the carefully tought-out, long-held vision to lead the effort. Because he can unite us all in the fight, and mobilize the tremendous reserves of human energy that true HOPE can unleash in all of us. Other great leaders have done it before him. Winston Churchill pulled Britain from the brink of capitulation and inspired its people to fight to the death to save their island. He too had warned his countrymen for many years of the dangers of Hitler’s rise, and been scoffed at, ridiculed and dismissed as a has-been by that era’s equivalent of Beltway gasbags. Until he too was proven prescient.

As Gore so often quotes him in his prsentations

The era of procrastination, of half-measures, of soothing and baffling expedients, of delays is coming to its close. In its place, we are entering an era of consequences.

It’s up to us now, and it’s up to Al. If you elect him, he will unite is and lead us toward a more hopeful future for all our children than we can presently count on. Let’s not allow our blind complacency to continue. Let’s end this futile game of guess-and-catch-up with Mother Nature, once and for all. The Earth is giving us final warning. Our time is up!

Please Draft Al Gore as your President and then let’s get to work! You have no idea of the ripple effect his entering the race will have in countries like mine, where a federal election will soon be held. A Gore win in 2008 will have coat-tails my friends, and bring progressive leaders to the fore up here as well. Let’s all of us unite and help our leaders save a habitable Earth forour and future generations.

My Morning with Louisa

Yesterday, I spent a fun and very worthwhile morning collecting voter signatures with Louisa, the 6th District (Marin and Sonoma Counties) volunteer coordinator for the campaign to place Al Gore on the California Democratic primary ballot.*

This drive is part of a larger grass roots effort to convince Al Gore that we need him as our next President.  Today was our first day collecting signatures.

Later that afternoon, Louisa emailed a fantastic account of the morning’s events.  Louisa’s words were so inspiring that I asked her if I could repost them.  Louisa, who is nearly eighty (you’d never know it), has graciously agreed:

Hello All!

This was a great opening day for our Draft Gore campaign in Marin. I arrived at the Marin Farmers’ Market at about 8:40 and found a place to set up. It wasn’t the best spot, which was already pretty well taken up, but it worked out well, I think. I loaded card table, two folding chairs, clipboards, pens & mug to hold them, large sign, small sign, the necessary forms, and a quantity of the half-page info sheets (text sent you yesterday) onto my little red wagon (which fit nicely into the trunk of my Honda Civic). So, one trip from car to the site, and we were in business.

In a half hour or so, {my name} showed up and stayed until 11:00 (thank you {my name}!). Great conversation in between signers! We didn’t accost anyone but let them come to us. And they did! I got my first signature as I was unloading stuff from my car! We felt that our mission was to provide the opportunity for people to “choose to have a choice.” {my name} has access to other like-minded people. He will photocopy the form and solicit signatures. Michelle, another of our volunteers, showed up a bit later. She’s a film director and so has lots of contacts. She wasn’t able to stay but took a batch of forms.

The most repeated question we heard was “But will he run?” A splendid opening – and a subtle way of conveying the message that WE THE VOTERS can affect that decision. The good news: Except for their concerns about whether Gore would agree to run, we felt a great yearning for a change, for a leader with the wisdom to take us on a path to peace and prosperity rather than war and bankruptcy. The bad news: an air of pessimism, of doubt that we citizens can affect our future, can really find representation of OUR values in the administration of our government. On the other hand, that can be seen as good news: there is pent-up desire for progress in protecting our environment, for REAL democracy, for pursuing PEACE instead of war. And they were ready to “sign on the dotted line” for a better choice – and a better world.

I closed up shop just before noon, when the crowd had thinned out considerably and vendors were packing up – and my tummy was grumbling for FOOD!. I had set a goal of 30, which we didn’t quite make, but came close. Step One.

Marin Team – anyone available to take on the Sunday Marin Farmers’ Market? I can speak from experience: it’s easy! It’s energizing! I think setup will be easier, as it’s on the grounds of the Civic Center, rather than the Veterans’ Memorial Hall. The sidewalk runs right along the entrances. Call or e-mail me to arrange to pick up gear – and a brief rundown of what my limited experience tells me you need to know.

One thing I know: You will interact with some wonderful people, and you’ll feel good about it.

We have a good start. Let’s keep it rolling.


Can’t think of a better way to spend a morning – if for no other reason than to be able to vote for Al in the Dem primary. But more importantly, assuming Al does run (and I think he will), we already have a head start on the signatures we need.

If you live in the Bay area and would like to help get Al Gore’s name on the Democratic primary ballot in California, go to sf4gore.org.  Otherwise check out DraftGore.com for local volunteer chapters nationwide.

And by all means, if you are a registered voter in the 6th CA District and want to sign the Draft Gore petition, be sure to stop by the Marin Farmer’s Market at the Civic Center this Sunday.

Just look for Louisa and her little red wagon.  She’ll be very glad to see you.

*Regardless of whether Gore declares, he can still be placed on the primary ballot in California with 500 valid signatures from each of the state’s Congressional Districts.

(x-posted at Hoot at the Dark and Big Orange)

Pony Party, Lazy Friday

The worst thing about my lazy Friday today is that I don’t even feel the littlest bit guilty about it.  I wish I could say I’m sorry that this morning’s Pony Party is nothing more than a few funnish Friday-related links I’ve collected….but I’m not.  Click away….

IllustrationFriday.com introduces a topic per week and accepts submissions on that topic from all kinds of artistic media and in virtually every style imaginable. 

PhotoFriday.com follows pretty much the same concept, only, obviously, accepting photo submissions.  This week’s topic was ‘wholesome’.

ScienceFriday.com is a very accessible science site for all ages.  If you know NPR and Ira Flatow, you know Science Friday.

Friday’sFeast.com is a ‘feast for your brain’, which introduces some discussion questions in a menu format for visitors to answer. 

FridayFun.com is a site which collects some fun and interesting things from around the tubez and will email them to you at your request. 

Please dont recommend the Pony Party!!

Without further ado, the floor is yours…


Morning News For Friday Oct. 12

Truth hides under fallen rocks and stones
At the end of a disconnected phone (that’s where the truth hides)
This is an Open Thread

News Happening Now

Gore wins Nobel Peace Prize
OSLO, Norway – Former Vice President Al Gore and the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts to spread awareness of man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures needed to counteract it
Gore, who won an Academy Award this year for his film “An Inconvenient Truth,” a documentary on global warming, had been widely expected to win the prize


Rivals rip into Clinton over Iran vote
The senator backed a resolution labeling the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist group. Obama and Edwards see shadows of her 2002 vote to authorize force in Iraq.
By Michael Finnegan, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
October 12, 2007
WASHINGTON — Five years after she voted to authorize the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) is coming under attack from rivals in the presidential race for a recent vote that they say could bring the nation closer to war with Iran.
On Thursday, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) added his voice to the criticism, comparing Clinton’s vote on the measure to the “blank check” that he said she gave President Bush to wage war against Iraq.

Blackwater Guards Fired at Fleeing Cars, Soldiers Say
First U.S. Troops on Scene Found No Evidence of Shooting by Iraqis; Incident Called ‘Criminal’

By Sudarsan Raghavan and Josh White
Washington Post Foreign Service
Friday, October 12, 2007; Page A01

BAGHDAD, Oct. 11 — Blackwater USA guards shot at Iraqi civilians as they tried to drive away from a Baghdad square on Sept. 16, according to a report compiled by the first U.S. soldiers to arrive at the scene, where they found no evidence that Iraqis had fired weapons.
“It appeared to me they were fleeing the scene when they were engaged. It had every indication of an excessive shooting,” said Lt. Col. Mike Tarsa, whose soldiers reached Nisoor Square 20 to 25 minutes after the gunfire subsided.

US air raid kill 15 Iraqi civilians in bloddy start to Eid
BAGHDAD (AFP) – Iraqi women and children bore the brunt of a bloody start to Eid al-Fitr as the US military admitted to killing 15 in an air raid and a sinister suicide attack on kids shocked a northern town.
“Nineteen suspected insurgents and 15 women and children were killed in an operation Thursday in the Lake Tharthar region”, northwest of Baghdad, a US military spokesman told AFP in a rare admission of civilian deaths.


Nissan technology makes parking a cinch
TOKYO – Parking in tight spaces is a cinch with a new display from Nissan showing a panoramic bird’s-eye-view of what’s surrounding a car – a feature that the Japanese automaker says is a first for commercially mass-produced vehicles.
Using digital cameras, Around View Monitor displays an aerial view of the car on a dashboard screen.

The option will be available in the Infiniti EX35 luxury model, going on sale in the U.S. in December, and the Elgrand minivan selling in Japan later this month, the Japanese automaker said Friday.

Turkey ready to face world criticism over Iraq
ISTANBUL (Reuters) – Turkey’s Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday that Ankara was prepared to face up to any international criticism if his country launched an attack on Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq
Washington fears such an offensive, against Turkish Kurds fighting for an independent homeland in southeastern Turkey, could destabilize Iraq’s most peaceful area and potentially the wider region.


Putin says missile plan risks relations
MOSCOW – In a tense start to talks on a range of thorny issues, President Vladimir Putin on Friday warned U.S. officials to back off a plan to install missile defenses in eastern Europe or risk harming relations with Moscow.
Addressing Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, the Russian president appeared to mock the U.S. missile defense plan, which is at the center of a tangle of arms control and diplomatic disputes between the former Cold War adversaries.

Muslim scholars reach out to Pope
More than 130 Muslim scholars have written to Pope Benedict XVI and other Christian leaders urging greater understanding between the two faiths.

The letter says that world peace could depend on improved relations between Muslims and Christians.
It identifies the principles of accepting only one god and living in peace with one’s neighbours as common ground between the two religions.

It also insists that Christians and Muslims worship the same god.


Dark turns of party struggle enthrall South Africa
JOHANNESBURG: A politically powerful industrialist is gunned down in an ambush linked to a reputed mobster. Investigators link the mobster to the national police commissioner. Prosecutors obtain a warrant for the commissioner’s arrest. Then suddenly, the warrant vanishes – and the chief prosecutor who secured it is removed from his job.

Not even South Africa’s political insiders know for sure where this mystery leads, and the man who does know, President Thabo Mbeki, is not saying anything. But political and legal experts alike increasingly suspect the worst: that a brutal two-year battle for power in the governing African National Congress is spreading from party corridors into the government itself

Sudan: Africa Insight – Darfur – China’s Economic And Diplomatic Policy Pays Off
Patrick Mutahi

Realising that its almost unqualified support for Sudan was hurting its image, China balanced its thirst for oil versus international obligations and in the process, convinced Sudan to accept UN peacekeepers on its soil.

China has quietly changed its Darfur policy from a laid-back approach to a behind-the-scenes diplomacy.
Before the passing of UN Security Council Resolution 1769 authorising the $2 billion (Sh130 billion) a year, 26,000-strong United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), China arranged low-key meetings with Sudan to discuss the deployment.


Trade More with South America to Counter Chavez, Experts Say
By Kevin Mooney
CNSNews.com Staff Writer
October 12, 2007

(CNSNews.com) – Free trade agreements can help forge alliances with Latin American nations eager to push back against the growing influence of Hugo Chavez, the virulently anti-U.S. leader of Venezuela, contend some foreign policy experts.

The alliances Chavez, a Marxist, has forged with rogue regimes could jeopardize U.S. national security in its own hemisphere, unless a concerted effort is made to re-establish economic and political ties with Central and South American countries, Juan Carlos Hidalgo, project coordinator for Latin America at the Cato Institute, told Cybercast News Service.

From the archive Death of Che
Oct 14th 1967
From The Economist print edition


By killing Che Guevara, the Bolivian army and its American advisers have done more than cut short the guerrilla movement in Bolivia. Certainly the small surviving band of Bolivian guerrillas, who have lost their local leaders as well as Guevara, will not now be able to carry out their hopes of bringing the “armed struggle” from the countryside into the towns and mining areas. But Guevara’s death will also wreck his grander strategy of using Bolivia as the focus from which rebel activity would radiate across the South American continent. He had seen Bolivia as the first of the “many Vietnams” that would sap the morale of the United States in Latin America, and would destroy those regimes which he considered as Washington’s pawns.

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

The muses are ancient.  The inspirations for our stories were said to be born from them.  Muses of song and dance, or poetry and prose, of comedy and tragedy, of the inward and the outward.  In one version they are Calliope, Euterpe and Terpsichore, Erato and Clio, Thalia and Melpomene, Polyhymnia and Urania.

It has also been traditional to name a tenth muse.  Plato declared Sappho to be the tenth muse, the muse of women poets.  Others have been suggested throughout the centuries.  I don’t have a name for one, but I do think there should be a muse for the graphical arts.  And maybe there should be many more.

Please join us inside to celebrate our various muses…

State of the Onion XXIV

Art Link
Fool’s Gold

Living on Lies

Such small minds
in fear they cower
preferring deceit
over truths
which they cannot
fully comprehend
My God
how their souls
must be shrivelled
stained by
false bravado
as they pollute
our mutual

–Robyn Elaine Serven
–March 28, 2006

I know you have talent.  What sometimes is forgotten is that being practical is a talent.  I have a paucity for that sort of talent in many situations, though it turns out that I’m a pretty darn good cook.  🙂 

Let your talent bloom.  You can share it here.  Encourage others to let it bloom inside them as well.

Won’t you share your words or art, your sounds or visions, your thoughts scientific or philosophic, the comedy or tragedy of your days, the stories of doing and making?  And be excellent to one another!

What are you reading?

Today, I give you the usual list.

If you like to trade books, try BookMooch.

What are you reading?  is crossposted to Daily Kos

The usual list:

Just finished:
Small Gods by Terry Pratchett.  I’d read this before, it’s one of my favorite Discworld novels.  Outstanding.

The Indian Clerk – by David Leavitt.

Last week:
  Absolutely wonderful.  A novel, a history, a math book.  A primer on sexual mores in the era of WWI in Britain.  A love story (several).  And a dual biography of two fascinating people: GH Hardy and Ramanujan.  I can’t recommend it highly enough.

A little about Hardy and Ramanujan.  Hardy was the quintessential eccentric English don at Trinity.  Although the few photos that exist show a normal looking, even handsome man, he was so convinced of his hideousness that he had no mirrors in his house.  A militant atheist, he refused to set foot in a church.  A brilliant mathematician.  Ramanujan was a self-taught mathematical genius.  In contrast to Hardy, he was also a mystic, who thought a goddess wrote math formulas on his tongue while he slept.

Continuing with
John Adams by David McCullough.

Last week:
An excellent book about a fascinating man.  The more I read about this era, the more I am impressed by the fathers, but the less I understand the Jefferson cult.  I like Adams more. 
I continue to be impressed with this book and with Adams

Additionally: I haven’t made much progress on this one this week.  Adams is now in England.  He’s getting a frosty reception.

How Mathematicians Think by William Byers.

Last week:
Fascinating ideas about ambiguity, paradox, and math.
Really quite an amazing work, and relatively accessible.  I recommend it to anyone interested in math.


Some of the later chapters get into some less accessible math, but I think they can be skipped around, without losing too much. 

Causality by Judea Pearl.  Fascinating but deep.

Intro to Probability Theory by Hoel, Port, and Stone.  A good text.

The Elements of Statistical Learning by Trevor Hastie and Robert Tibshirani.  An in-depth look at a wide range of statistical techniques.  Beautifully produced.

Put down without finishing:

Find Me
by Carol O’Connell
Last week:
This is another in the Mallory series.  Unlike many series, you could start in the middle.  I am about 50 pages into it, and it looks very good.  This is a mystery…. Mallory, the heroine, is a former homeless child who was adopted by a policeman; now grown, she is brilliant, beautiful, and as cold as ice.  The first volumes of the series were great, in the middle it got too mystical for me, but O’Connell seems back on her game.  There are 8 books in the series so far
list of Mallory books

(that link is great for those of us who like series!)

Additionally: I give up.  O’Connell is frustrating – her characters are wonderfully drawn, her plots are decent, but her writing just annoys me…. she leaves out critical stuff to increase suspense, but then tells us what her characters are feeling when it’s obvious from how they are acting.  I can’t deal with the mix.

He won

(Bumped because I just woke up and……..YAY! – promoted by buhdydharma )

Al Gore has won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.

He is sharing the Nobel Peace prize with the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

“for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change”

The complete text committee’s announcement is available.

Here is one reason Why Al Gore deserves the Nobel Peace Prize.

In the 20th century peace was something to be achieved after the horrifying bloodletting of world war began. In the 21st century, although the world faces a new era of turmoil, peace ultimately must be about identifying and resolving the sources of conflict before battles break out. That’s why no one deserves the Nobel Peace Prize more than Al Gore.

Congratulations Mr. Vice President!

Now about 2008…

Shoe fetish

I’m finding it really difficult to write lately. Instead, I’ll offer some pictures and some words from others. Forgive me.

Van Gogh Every man is born as many men and dies as a single one.

Martin Heidegger
at the bottom of the Atlantic; Titanic They’ll cough in the ink to the world’s end; 
Wear out the carpet with their shoes 
Earning respect; have no strange friend; 
If they have sinned nobody knows.

The Scholars, W.B.Yeats

Kare Beach: Denmark It isn’t the mountain ahead that wears you out; it’s the grain of sand in your shoe.
Rodan of Alexandria
Pine Street, abandoned shoes
Ninth Ward: Katrina A little neglect may breed mischief:
for want of a nail the shoe was lost;
for want of a shoe the horse was lost;
and for want of a horse the rider was lost.
Benjamin Franklin
More Katrina
Aftermath: 9/11 The policeman buys shoes slow and careful;
the teamster buys gloves slow and careful;
they take care of their feet and hands;
they live on their feet and hands.

Psalm of Those Who Go Forth Before Daylight, Carl Sandburg

A son's shoes: Afghanistan
Aima Bridge: Iraq
Peace Demonstration: Republican National Convention, 2004 “And when you met, you found his eyes were always on your shoes,
As if they did the talking when he asked you for the news.”

Stafford’s Cabin, Edwin Arlington Robinson
More Titanic
Pauer-Gyula Memorial Promenade, Budapest
After the accident.

Abandoned shoes Flickr photo by Joygantic, attributed and used with permission per Creative Commons license

“I can’t keep track of other people’s daughters.
Lord, if I were to dream of everyone 

Whose shoes I primped to dance in!”

The Housekeeper, Robert Frost

Not one more death, not one more dollar I look at the swaling sunset 

  And wish I could go also 

Through the red doors beyond the black-purple bar.

  I wish that I could go 

Through the red doors where I could put off

  My shame like shoes in the porch, 

  My pain like garments 

Mosque bombing claims 79.

And leave my flesh discarded lying 

Like luggage of some departed traveller 

  Gone one knows not where. 

  Then I would turn round, 

And seeing my cast-off body lying like lumber,

  I would laugh with joy.

In Trouble and Shame, D.H. Lawrence

He was just sitting there and poof!
Myanmar People dress and go to town;

I sit in my chair. 

All my thoughts are slow and brown:
Standing up or sitting down

Little matters, or what gown 

Or what shoes I wear.

Sorrow, Edna St. Vincent Millay

The Old Ones

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