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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

An Adventure In Art (57)

Chiens De Mon Quartier

Bernadette Leclerq


Monday, August 25, 2014

Jokes I Missed The First Time...

... because there was just too much of an interval between punch lines. Yes. Punch Lines. Plural. So we have multiple punch lines, long extended jokey narratives, and it takes one heck of a weather eye to spot the Moby Dick of Jest if and when he breaches the placid ocean of the mundane.

So, Sherlock with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, Season 1, The Great Game.

The opening scene in in Minsk, Belarus. Sherlock is seated across the table from a prisoner in an otherwise deserted room of empty tables, probably a cafeteria doubling as an interview room.

The prisoner tells his story of how he killed his girlfriend, quite accidentally, and as he tells the story, Sherlock corrects his grammar. When the prisoner, Tate (I believe) says " I weren't", Sherlock corrects him: "I wasn't", and Tate repeats " I wasn't".
So also with "he learned me" to "he taught me", "I done it" to "I did it", "weren't" to "wasn't" again, and a double negative with "no more" changed to "anymore".

The prisoner pleads to a departing Sherlock that
"...without you, I'll get hung for this."
Sherlock pauses and looks back,
"No, no, no; not at all, Mr. Tate...(pause)... "hanged", yes!"
 Funny stuff.

So within minutes, the main story starts, Sherlock is in his flat, shooting at the wall from boredom, Watson enters hungrily, walks to the fridge and finds a head that Sherlock has procured from the morgue to study the coagulation of saliva after death, and he is keeping it cool.

Watson asks Sherlock whether he read his "A Study In Pink" in Watson's blog.
After a bit of a dispute as to merits, Watson points out that Sherlock surely must admit that he is unfamiliar with some very basic facts.
Sherlock responds that,
"... it doesn't matter to me who's Prime Minister, or who is sleeping with who."
 I wonder whether back in Minsk there's a dead man walking, muttering "With Whom! Bloody with whom!"


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Chickens Coming Home To Roost



There is a person in California who is in isolation for possible Ebola virus infection. He is exhibiting signs of viral infection, and he was recently somewhere in West Africa.

Death by epidemic was one of my favorite obsessions back in the 90s, along with financial melt-down and future dystopia. Such themes have also been frequent in films and books, and they form the " lasciate ogni speranza voi ch'entrate " embellishing the entrance to the cavern of the future for our generation.
("Abandon all hope, you who enter here"; from Dante's Inferno)

Science is on top of things, but the scientific process is not terribly robust, it being but a human endeavor and prone to human failings, like viable smallpox cultures hidden away in a desk for 40 years.

Although we are told that Ebola cannot be transmitted through the air ( as an aerosol, a colloid composed of fine particles and liquids in gas - in this case, the gas is air ).

I believe that exactly means that Ebola cannot be transmitted through the air between human beings, and not that it is entirely impossible that the Ebola virus can be in some sort of infectious aerosol.
Studies have been done:

Are we *sure* Ebola isn’t airborne?
Posted by Tara C. Smith on August 3, 2014

Let me back up. The paper in question was an experimental study done in the wake of the 2008 finding of the Reston Ebola virus in pigs and a previous study looking at the Zaire virus in pigs. In the air transmission study, they inoculated pigs with Ebola and examined transmission to macaques (who were not in direct contact with the infected pigs). They did find aerosolized Ebola in air samples, and some of the macaques did come down with symptoms of Ebola. So, it looked like pigs could spread Ebola through the air, which is something that had already been suggested by the epidemiology of the 2008 pig Ebola outbreak. It’s always nice when experimental data matches up with that observed during a real-life occurrence of the virus.

*However*, the kicker was not that Ebola is transmitted by air in human outbreaks, but rather that there may be something unique about pig physiology that allows them to generate more infectious aerosols as a general rule–so though aerosols aren’t a transmission route between primates (including humans, as well as non-human primates used experimentally), pigs may be a bigger threat as far as aerosols. Thus, this may be important for transmission of swine influenza and other viruses as well as Ebola.
(underline emphasis mine)

If air-borne transmission is heavily dependent upon the virus-carrying aerosols, there should be investigation into the nature of pig aerosols and how they differ from aerosols produced by humans (such as the aerosols produced by sneezing). However, the question of how pig aerosols significantly differ from human aerosols has not received a lot of attention.

At the beginning of this month, it seems that orders went out to burn the bodies of Ebola victims in Western Africa.
Heat may produce aerosols, such as a laboratory situation where a hot loop is introduced into a culture. A body which is not uniformly subjected to virus killing heat may produce an aerosol, I should think.
What the nature of those aerosols are is anybody's guess.

And, by the by, the Ebola virus is transmitted by contact with bodily fluids, such as are contained in spit, blood, urine, feces, etc.
The old belief that aerosols are created when one flushes the toilet are actually true; in experiments where toilet bowls were swabbed with some bacterium, measurable amounts of bacteriua-containing aerosols were detected after the first few flushes.


Personal Snapshots Of The Great Painters: Magritte's Series Of Film Posters


Friday, August 15, 2014

The Triumph of Socialism

I am a free marketeer. Who isn't anymore? Having said that, that does not imply that every possible description of a "free market" is by definition "a good thing":  asset bubbles are notoriously toxic. Nor does it mean that one sits back on one's laurels and enjoy the sunset of the Age of Uncertainty and await the Dawn of Certainty; nothing stands still.

I shall have to repeat part of a post: Steve Zissou and the Life Interior at

A generation of young Germans had become accustomed to having the entire content of their lives delivered gratis, so to speak, by the public sphere, all the raw material for their deeper emotions, for love and hate, joy and sorrow, but also all their sensations and thrills -- accompanied though they might be by poverty, hunger, death, chaos, and peril. Now that these deliveries suddenly ceased, people were left helpless, impoverished, robbed, and disappointed. They had never learned to live from within themselves, how to make an ordinary private life great, beautiful, and worthwhile, how to enjoy it and make it interesting. So they regarded the end of the political tension and the return of private liberty not as a gift, but as a deprivation.

What is the state of Americans' interior lives right now? The past fifteen years have featured the following in rapid succession: a stock market bubble and crash, a bitterly contested presidential election, 9/11, anthrax attacks, the invasion of Afghanistan, war in Iraq, a housing bubble and national binge followed by economic collapse, and a historic presidential election. For a decade and a half there's been a series of national obsessions, an unprecedented, formative, near-constant stream of "raw material" from the "public sphere."

With the frenzy over the financial market collapse now fading, those deliveries, as Haffner put it, have suddenly ceased. Throw in a materialist culture and a consumer who can't afford toys anymore, and you've got a lot of people without an interior life to fall back on. Giddy chatter about revolution and fond memories of war and torture beat sitting quietly in a room wondering who you are.

When governments and ruling elites realize that, left to our own devices, we are insurgent and revolutionaries, they will extend and re-inforce the present ad hoc system of delivering us our "bread and circuses".

The War on Drugs will come to an inglorious end, and provide a rational system of drug use and health care for drug related issues and take the profit out of drugs, except for new designer type drugs which Big Pharma will immediately begin to invest massive amounts of Research and Development into. The poor - and potentially violent and disruptive - will remain docile in the USA and no longer be drug lords south of the border.

Wars of Choice will continue, mainly because they provide diversion and no one can really bring themselves to end such a war, for the risk is too great. If one pulls out of one Whatever-istan and the insurgents pull off some sort of coup, well, the political consequences would be terrible back home. So I don't think we're ever going to really pull all the way out of any of the wars. Of course, we will absolutely pull out in the case of a major catastrophic

Monday, August 11, 2014

Religion As Politics

Most of what we call Religion is politics and sociology: the push and crush of human beings, not of deities and angels.

In TIME we see:
How an Extremist Buddhist Network Is Sowing Hatred Across Asia
Charlie Campbell / Dharga Town @charliecamp6ell
Aug. 8, 2014

All one needs is the headline.
For many years, Buddhism was the paradigm of a "real" religion to even liberal atheists; even Sam Harris felt he had to admit to dabbling in Buddhist-type meditation.

But not all Buddhists are smiling.

Religion and God take a lot more work than merely putting a pin on one's lapel. It does not matter so much whether we believe in God as it matters whether we understand the Holy in our existence. 

I see less and less proof that we grasp the most fundamental understanding of the Holy, as our lives become emptier and our soul howl in the mad night.


The Next Systemic Crisis

[I have picked the illustration at random from a grab-bag of "coming crises".
Prepare for two things:
(1) to meet your Maker, and
(2) the death of money....... or some other nonce notion that inhabits the minds of those who make Money from the frightened.]

I have heard quite enough about possible financial crises recently, including from my mother, who has become a believer in vigorous market corrections after the Dow dropped 300 points or so last week (It did the same in February last, but she forgot).
She had a financial advisor whose job was to collect sizable fees, leaving her and my father fully invested in Real Estate as 2007 lapsed into 2008.

She has a litany of how many people lost money, and it could not be helped. She forgets my story of how I bailed out of everything in March, 2008, and pretty much put my money in my mattress. I am but a foolish offspring who lost nothing. She also forgets that the stock market has climbed back since 2008, and losses have been eclipsed.
I am neither a good steward nor a foolish steward; I am a "kid".

The present crises in the minds of such people, many of whom listen to FOX, are mostly due - I think - to the fact that something is not quite right... and Obama is President!

I don't see a financial crisis. We are all too aware of such things. We are on the qui vive!, so the French say: our eyes are peeled!
There will be scams, to be sure, but real systemic crises need to flourish in the shadow world where there are no newspapers, blogs, TV reporters, or any information media.

Back in 2007 and 2008, there was plenty of warning, only it was not in the "popular" media, but in more arcane and professional type publications.

The next crisis is quite obvious, but we cannot evaluate it even though it is plainly before us, for we have not lived through its destruction yet.
We appreciate a financial crisis because we've lived through one. But our rationality and understanding continues to be befuddled by things we have not personally experienced, nor which form a robust part of a Political or Religious or Social Narrative already. That is, we can believe fervently in a Story that we already believe in...
That is how we operate.

The Crisis is the failure of government to govern in such a way that the interests of all the Stakeholders in the country derive some benefit.

Majority Rule in a Democracy implies two things:
(1) there actually is governance, or "rule",
(2) the majority needs to comprehend the needs of the minority within its program.

If not, then the majority rule is Anarchy or Tyranny.