Saturday, July 30, 2011


Templo Zen Pico de Raios - Morro São Sebastião - Ouro Preto

A great afternoon, took a taxi up to the Templo/Mosteiro Zen
a nice sit, met some very good people... bus back to the praça and walked home... a grand day out!

Via AV: Casa Arrumada?

Carlos Drummond de Andrade (1902-1987)

Casa arrumada  é assim:
Um lugar organizado, limpo, com espaço livre pra circulação e uma boa
entrada de luz.
Mas casa, pra mim, tem que ser casa e não um centro cirúrgico, um
cenário de novela.
Tem gente que gasta muito tempo limpando, esterilizando, ajeitando os
móveis, afofando as almofadas...
Não, eu prefiro viver numa casa onde eu bato o olho e percebo logo:
Aqui tem vida...
Casa com vida, pra mim, é aquela em que os livros saem das prateleiras
e os enfeites brincam de trocar de lugar.
Casa com vida tem fogão gasto pelo uso, pelo abuso das refeições
fartas, que chamam todo mundo pra mesa da cozinha.
Sofá sem mancha?
Tapete sem fio puxado?
Mesa sem marca de copo?
Tá na cara que é casa sem festa.
E se o piso não tem arranhão, é porque ali ninguém dança.
Casa com vida, pra mim, tem banheiro com vapor perfumado no meio da tarde.
Tem gaveta de entulho, daquelas que a gente guarda barbante,
passaporte e vela de aniversário, tudo junto...
Casa com vida é aquela em que a gente entra e se sente bem-vinda.
A que está sempre pronta pros amigos, filhos...
Netos, pros vizinhos...
E nos quartos, se possível, tem lençóis revirados por gente que brinca
ou namora a qualquer hora do dia.
Casa com vida é aquela que a gente arruma pra ficar com a cara da gente.
Arrume a sua casa todos os dias...
Mas arrume de um jeito que lhe sobre tempo pra viver nela...
E reconhecer nela o seu lugar.

Lifted facebook quote of the day:

Via J. Brown:
 “We would rather strengthen our trust and love rather than fall victim to his degeneration,” said Roland E. Goksoyr, 18, a friend of Ms. Rashid’s. “We will punish him, not by killing him or torturing him, but by defying his every wish.”

Americans could learn a few things from the Norwegians.
An Iraqi who immigrated as a child wanted to stretch the limits of Norwegian identity.

Hino Nacional Brasileiro

Caminhada de hoje - Daily Walk

NSFW: Viagra Commercial

NSFW: The worlds funniest commercial

Via NPR: Jonathan Winters Reflects On A Lifetime Of Laughs

Pop Culture

Jonathan Winters Reflects On A Lifetime Of Laughs

Jonathan Winters' entertainment career began when his wife encouraged him to enter a local talent contest in his hometown of Dayton, Ohio. He ended up winning the contest — along with a wrist watch and a job as a local radio DJ.
From television to telephone answering machines, comedian Jonathan Winters has been making comedy for over 60 years in just about every medium. NPR's Pat Dowell remembers Winters' career as his latest film, The Smurfs, hits theaters.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Puppy Fakes His Own Death

Via JMG: Bill Nye On Climate Change

And he takes the Fox News host to school along the way.

Via JMG: Debt Chart

See the full chart here.

reposted from Joe

Via JMG: Height Comparison


reposted from Joe

Via Here’s an easy way to explain how Reagonomics just doesn’t pay. Look:

Found on NewsCorpse. Graphic created by volunteer editor Mark H. Originally submitted by volunteer editor Laura S

Via the Coffee Party Movement:

We will not stand by quietly and bear the entire burden of solving problems that were caused by irresponsibility in Washington and on Wall Street.

Have you had Enough? Make your voice heard today!
Click "Participate" and send a version of our template letter to both your Senators & your Representative and a cc: to the President



California's jobless rate will remain high for years, UOP researchers predict

California unemployment will remain above 10 percent through the end of 2013, according to a forecast released today by the University of the Pacific.

Via Climate Progress: Big Oil Pumps Up Profits with Americans’ Cash: Higher Gas Prices Lead to Gushing Balance Sheets

– Kalen Pruss

View data comparing Big Oil profits to prices for oil and gasoline (.xls)

This week the five Big Oil companies—ExxonMobil, BP, ConocoPhillips, Chevron, and Shell—posted massive second-quarter profits thanks in no small part to record-high gas prices and billions in unnecessary subsidies paid by American taxpayers.

All five companies sat squarely in the black with $35.1 billion in combined second-quarter profits, 9 percent higher than in 2010. Exxon, at a whopping $10.7 billion, reported the largest profits by far. Shell saw an $8 billion profit for the quarter, a 77 percent increase from last year, putting the company on track to meet or exceed its 2008 record of $31.4 billion—the most a British company has ever earned in a single year. Even BP clocked in at $5.3 billion little more than a year after the fatal Deepwater Horizon disaster rocked the U.S. Gulf Coast, forcing BP to put $20 billion in an escrow fund for people harmed by the blow out.

Big Oil once again has American families to thank for these enormous gains: Oil profits grow when Americans pay more for gasoline. Because oil averaged $107.35 a barrel during the second quarter—a 39 percent increase over 2010—Americans are forking over more than a third more at the pump than they were just a year ago.

While high prices pad oil company coffers, they also make life even more difficult for families struggling to recover in the Great Recession’s wake. Bernard Baumohl, chief global economist at the Economic Outlook Group, notes that every penny increase in gas prices drains $1 billion out of the economy each year.

But high prices at the pump are only part of Americans’ Big Oil bill. They also pay more than $4 billion in unnecessary tax subsidies for domestic oil drilling and production every year. These subsidies are wasteful and expensive. Oil companies produce oil regardless of whether they receive these tax breaks, and they would still realize enormous profits without federal handouts.

Similarly, eliminating oil subsidies would not affect the price consumers pay for gas and oil in the near or long term, contrary to what oil companies and their congressional allies argue. And high prices and the new areas opened up to exploration have led to an oil and gas employment boom that has nothing to do with tax breaks for oil production.

Yet Big Oil’s representatives in Congress stubbornly defend Big Oil giveaways even if it means cutting deep into popular, important programs to make up for the cost. The House-passed fiscal year 2012 budget would cut Medicare spending by $30 billion over a decade, for example, while maintaining $40 billion in tax breaks to Big Oil over the same period. And Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Susan Collins (R-ME) were the only two Republican senators to vote for a bill in May that would have repealed Big Oil subsidies. Their Senate colleagues, along with Democrats Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Mark Begich (D-AK), and Ben Nelson (D-NE), filibustered and ultimately killed the bill.

“They are so caught up in their profits that they have lost sight of what is happening…on Main Street and around the kitchen table,” Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) said of the Big Five oil companies before the bill came to a vote. “If they had expressed concern for people and then refused to give up their subsidies…at least that would have been a bend.”

Of course, it’s no coincidence that so many members of Congress consistently defend tax loopholes for Big Oil. Oil companies spend millions of dollars pressuring Congress to keep their taxpayer-funded subsidies intact. They’ve already spent $40 million on lobbying so far this year, and of all the oil and gas lobbying spenders in 2011, four of the Big Five oil companies—ConocoPhillips, Shell, ExxonMobil, and Chevron—claimed the top four spots. These companies have also donated $745,000 to congressional campaigns so far in the 2012 election cycle, with 93 percent of that total going to Republican candidates.

Meanwhile, many of the Big Five oil companies are investing a big chunk of their quarterly profits into stock buybacks as well. Repurchasing stock can boost a company’s share prices, enriching stockholders, board members, and senior managers. The Big Oil companies spent a full quarter of their first-quarter profits buying back stock.

During the second quarter, ConocoPhillips spent an additional $3.1 billion on its own stock, equivalent to almost all of its second-quarter profits. Exxon spent $5.5 billion, and Chevron spent $1 billion in stock buybacks.
The Center for American Progress’s Daniel J. Weiss and Valeri Vasquez note that “Big Oil companies get richer by the minute” with these purchases “while consumers and taxpayers get hit with bills for higher gasoline prices and tax loopholes.”

“Most Americans,” President Barack Obama said on Monday, “don’t understand how we can ask a senior citizen to pay more for her Medicare before we ask a corporate jet owner or the oil companies to give up tax breaks that other companies don’t get.”

With $35.1 billion in total profits this quarter it’s clear Big Oil should no longer come first—and should give up its tax breaks once and for all.

View data comparing Big Oil profits to prices for oil and gasoline (.xls)
Kalen Pruss, Editorial Assistant to CAP’s executive team, in cross-post
See also:

Via the Credo Action Team: Tell President Obama: Invoke the 14th Amendment and stop the contrived default crisis

The fight over raising the debt ceiling has turned Congress into a three ring circus. The House is crippled by obstinate Tea Party Republicans, and the Senate by Republican abuse of the filibuster.

At a time when unemployment is over 9%, all proposals on the table will drastically cut spending and increase unemployment. Yet Congress is incapable of passing either the Boehner proposal or the Reid proposal through both chambers. The stalemate between two terrible proposals must be broken with brave presidential leadership.

I just signed a petition tell President Obama to invoke the 14th Amendment and end the default crisis. I hope you do too.

You can find out more and take action at the link below.

"Brazil takes off" - Nov 14, 2009

"'Brazil takes off' had an enormous impact in Brazil and did very well in the US. When our journalists interviewed Lula last September, it was the first thing his people commented on. We worried a bit that some readers might find it sacrilegious, but in the event we only had one letter of complaint."

Vua Utne: The Crockpot: A Weekly Digest

This week's link collection includes the skinniest house in the world, natural playscapes, and musings on eating human placenta.


When Your Check Doesn't Come

Cowboys & Aliens Trailer HD

Via JMG: Recline / Don't Recline


reposted from Joe

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Via Color of Change:

Dear friends,
18-year-old Kymberly Wimberly did everything right. She challenged herself with honors and Advanced Placement courses, leading the pack as the highest achieving student in this year’s graduating class at McGehee High School.
But when her principal agreed with other school staff that Kymberly’s status as valedictorian would cause a “big mess,” he demanded that a White student with a lower GPA be appointed co-valedictorian.[1]
This is an outrage that sends the wrong message to Black students everywhere. That's why I'm joining my friends at in calling on the McGehee district’s superintendent and school board to acknowledge that Kymberly is her class’s sole valedictorian and explain what they intend to do to ensure that students have equal access to opportunity at McGehee High School. Will you join me?
School leaders in this small Arkansas town have denied a student an honor she deserves because of their own racial prejudice and narrow-minded ideas about who is worthy of success and accolades.
Arkansas is ground zero in the history of efforts to desegregate our nation’s schools. It’s where nine black students faced down state troopers, angry mobs, and a governor intent on keeping them from integrating Little Rock Central High School more than 50 years ago.
Today, in nearby McGehee, Kymberly’s situation has exposed another brand of racial segregation. Principal Darrell Thompson’s decision to appoint a co-valedictorian this year is just the latest and most egregious example of an ongoing pattern to undermine and derail the academic efforts of Black students. According to the equal protection lawsuit Kymberly’s family has filed, administrators and teachers routinely discouraged Black students — who made up nearly half of the high school’s enrollment this year — from taking honors and AP classes.[2] These staffers would use school-wide assemblies to make the course work sound daunting, then pull individual White students aside to encourage them to sign up for the more rigorous classes. As a result, Kymberly was the only Black student in her AP literature class and one of two in her calculus class.[3]
A problem nationwide
McGehee and other school districts around the country should be encouraging all prepared students to challenge themselves academically. Unfortunately, that’s often not the case. Last year, Black students made up 15% of graduating seniors, but accounted for just 9% of students taking AP exams.[4] Black students trail far behind White, Asian and Latino students in terms of participation in AP classes, and educators have a responsibility to provide equal access to and preparation for college-level coursework.
Kymberly is the rare example of the student whose family believed she could excel in high-level classes, despite what some adults at school told her and students who look like her. Her case reveals why the school establishment consistently counsels half the student body into a lower academic track. It appears that they fear the eventual success of Black students, and choose to limit Black students’ ability to compete in the classroom and, by extension, in life.
Hiding the truth
The district should be celebrating Kymberly’s story, and holding her up as an example of what’s possible. She is a young mother whose report cards throughout high school were filled with straight As until the fall of her junior year, when she had her baby and received a B in a class. Determined to hold onto her position at the top of the class, Kymberly took as many honors and AP classes as she could her senior year. Her plan worked, and in early May the high school counselor approached Kymberly’s mother, who worked at the high school, with news that Kymberly had the top GPA. But district officials soon started working to cover up the truth. The school’s principal told Kymberly’s mother that he had decided to appoint a co-valedictorian. The district sent out a press release amending a public announcement the counselor had already released. The superintendent even kept Kymberly’s mother from appealing the decision to the school board by claiming she had filled out the wrong participation form.[5] District officials don't deny Kymberly had the highest GPA but have explained their actions by saying that the co-valedictorian had half a credit more[6],[7]— a balancing act Kymberly and her family say would never have been considered necessary had the top student been White.
Kymberly did everything we ask students to do in their quest for success, but she was forced to share the valedictorian title with a White student whose grades were lower than hers. We need to send a message to the McGehee district and schools all across the country that this type of injustice cannot stand. Demand that Kymberly’s superintendent and school board publicly acknowledge that she is her class’s sole valedictorian and explain how they plan to make sure that students have equal access to opportunity at McGehee High School. Please join us:
3. See reference 1
5. See reference 2
6. See reference 1

Via Jerry P. Becker: Alfie Kohn: We Have to Take Back Our Schools

Alfie Kohn: We Have to Take Back Our Schools

By Anthony Cody

Alfie Kohn has been at the forefront of the resistance to test-based reforms for more than a decade. As we approach the Save Our Schools March this Saturday, I asked him to share some thoughts about the challenges we face.

When many of us point out the narrowing of the curriculum that has been the result of high stakes testing, we are told that the next generation of tests, which the Department of Education has invested $350 million to develop, will be far better at measuring complex thinking. What do you think of this?

First, history alone should make us skeptical about the claim that DOE is going to reverse course; as far as I know, there's zero precedent for meaningful assessments sponsored -- or even encouraged -- by federal officials.

Second, the cast of characters currently in Washington makes that claim even less credible. Arne Duncan knows nothing about the nuances of assessment and he's surrounded by Gates Foundation people and others who are at the heart of the corporate "reform" movement that has actively supported the ultra-high-stakes use of lousy tests.

Third, any test that's standardized -- one-size-fits-all, created and imposed by distant authorities -- is inauthentic and is likely to measure what matters least. If these people were serious about assessing children's thinking, they would be supporting teachers in gathering information over time about the depth of understanding that's reflected in their projects and activities. Do the folks at DOE even realize that you don't need to test in order to assess?

Fourth, there's every indication that whatever assessments are created will continue to be the basis for rating and ranking, for bribes and threats. A high-stakes approach, in which you use your power to compel people below you to move in whatever direction you want is at the heart of the Bush-Obama-Gates sensibility (see NCLB, Race to the Top, etc.). And that will undermine any assessment they come up with. We saw that in Kentucky and Maryland a dozen years ago: "Accountability" systems destroyed performance-based assessments. It's sort of like the economic principle about currency known as Gresham's Law: Bad assessments will drive out good assessments in a high-stakes environment.
Alfie Kohn is the author of 12 books on education and human behavior, including The Schools Our Children Deserve, Punished by Rewards, The Case Against Standardized Testing, and, most recently, Feel-Bad Education.

Via CFA-Listserve: Did You Know? The Board of Trustees increased SDSU Presidential salary to $400,000

Did You Know that minutes after the Board of Trustees increased student fees by an additional 12%, they approved the highest salary ever for a CSU President by paying new San Diego State President Elliott Hirshman $400,000 per year.  Outgoing President Stephen L. Weber "only" received $299,000 in salary.

For more information:,0,965810.story

Debt Ceiling Vs. Blood Alcohol Limits

The Verve - Sonnet

Via Climate Progress: Obama: Debt of a Salesman: Obama, Democrats Poised to Embrace Deal that May Slash Energy, Enviro Spending for Many, Many Years

In one of the biggest strategic blunders of his presidency, Obama has bought into the erroneous Republican frame that the biggest problem facing this country is our national debt.  Worse, he has chosen to be a salesman for a centrist agenda of austerity, not the progressive one of investment.

In the past few weeks, Obama has used the presidential bully pulpit to its fully capacity for the first time since taking office.  Sadly, he’s chosen to sell the public on the nonsensical notion that biggest short-term and long-term threat facing the nation is the national debt and over-spending.

Gone is any discussion of the things the public cares most about right now — creating jobs and restoring our manufacturing base, as a new poll makes clear (see figure).  Gone is any discussion of the progressive policies Obama himself used to message on, albeit halfheartedly — an investment agenda, energy security, competing with China.  Gone is this lofty rhetoric from a long, long time ago (well, 2010, actually):  “The nation that leads the clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the global economy. And America must be that nation.”

I  doubt most climate hawks and progressives outside of the DC Beltway fully appreciate what the emerging debt deal would likely mean for energy and environmental spending over the next decade.  As E&E News (subs. req’d) bluntly explains this morning:
As the capital’s debt-limit drama enters its final act today, the last two solutions standing — one Democratic, one GOP — would slash long-term energy and environmental spending to a degree comparable with the fiscally austere deal struck to avert a springtime federal shutdown.
The bipartisan alignment on knifing what is likely to be billions of dollars from U.S. EPA and the Energy and Interior departments’ budgets over the next 10 years is drawing little notice as the debt-limit talks hurtle toward a hectic climax marked by bitter intra-party tensions….
Both party leaders’ spending caps would represent a cut of more than $40 billion next year relative to the CBO baseline set by the government funding deal for 2011 that averted a shutdown in April. By 2021, CBO estimated, the Reid approach would mean a $125 billion cut below the shutdown-deal baseline, or $6 billion more in cuts than Boehner’s plan.
Those long-term cuts refer to the panoply of domestic agency spending, from EPA air-pollution monitoring to DOE efficiency grants to many other non-energy or environmental programs. But on a more granular level, the 16 percent slice taken from EPA’s budget in the April shutdown deal could well be the shape of things to come for most non-defense federal programs, unless the final debt pact takes a turn toward the left.
I think it is even worse than that for a couple of reasons.

First, Obama would seem to have accepted the dreadful GOP position that we can only raise the debt ceiling with an accompanying deal that lowers the future debt by the same amount.  And, on top of that, he’s bought into the notion that revenue increases (aka tax hikes) are at most one third of the debt reduction.  Even worse, the deal that seems inevitable now has no revenue increases whatsoever.  If  you were wondering whose bluff got called, that pretty much tells  you everything you need to know.

Second, energy and environmental spending are not the most sacrosanct elements of nonmilitary discretionary spending.   Talking Points Memo has this headline today

Whatever The Outcome Of The Debt Vote, The Age Of Austerity Is Here

With military spending seemingly getting its own spending cap and glide path from the deal, at least in Reid’s version, non-military domestic discretionary spending will have its own pretty serious restrictions — and this includes things like the medical research and the VA and Homeland Security, which historically have had stronger constituencies.

Yes, some believe that the next deal, presumably after the 2012 election, would focus more on revenues and entitlements, but in an age of austerity, who precisely will be vetoing bills that continue to slash energy and environmental funding to meet spending caps agreed to by both parties and the President?

If it wasn’t clear before it is crystal clear now that the people pushing a massive government spending program for clean energy are living on “Another Earth.”  The only plausible scenario now for seriously addressing US greenhouse gas emissions in a way that would enable a global deal and give us some chance of averting catastrophic multiple, simultaneous climate impacts is for a serious carbon price to be part of the post-2012-election budget deal (see “Bombshell: High and rising price for carbon pollution emerges as credible deficit reduction strategy“).  And it ain’t that plausible unless Obama becomes as much a salesman for that approach as he has for debt reduction in general.

Here’s more from E&E News:
“We’re fighting riders today on the Hill in the Interior funding bill for one year, but this sets up the blueprint for potentially a number of years,” Sierra Club deputy national campaigns director Melinda Pierce said of the debt byplay between House GOP and Senate Democratic leaders.

“And it’s dialing back funding to the place where it can have crippling effects on some of the natural resources programs, on programs that keep clean air.”
…  Reid’s plan would cap that domestic discretionary pot of money at $1.045 trillion in 2012 budget authority and let it rise to $1.228 trillion in 2021, according to independent Congressional Budget Office projections. Boehner’s plan offers a similar budget authority cap that tops out at $1.043 trillion in 2012 and $1.234 trillion in 2021. The two plans could yet change….
“I’m very concerned with where we’re going on this debt deal,” Rep. Henry Waxman of California, the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s top Democrat, said yesterday. “Republicans are pushing for not just a level of cuts, but as much cuts as possible in the first couple of years.”
Alan Rowsome, director of conservation funding for the Wilderness Society said, “If the years go by and you’re stuck in this trap [of lower funding], you’re not going to be able to get out of it.”
Future allocations for EPA-Interior and DOE spending bills, however, are likely to remain heavily influenced by previous years’ apportionment. That means that the April cuts to environmental agencies, which packed a billion-dollar punch to state programs for clean drinking water and water pollution cleanups, are positioned to have a lingering effect on long-term agency spending.
I see a point at which we just can’t enforce our environmental laws because we don’t have the money to do that” if the trend being set during the current debt talks continues, Friends of the Earth energy tax analyst Ben Schreiber said. “A point where we end up eliminating programs that are essential, like money for renewable energy development.”
What’s saddest of all is that this is neither good policy nor good politics, as a new bipartisan poll reveals:
July 28, 2011 – A new, bipartisan national poll conducted by The Mellman Group and Ayres, McHenry & Associates shows that voters want Washington to act on jobs, especially in manufacturing, which they believe will help restore America’s lost status as the world’s number one economy.  Despite overwhelming public concern about these issues, fewer voters now believe the President or either party in Congress are focused on them than thought so in 2010.
Obama thinks that 1) he can convince independents he is the most reasonable person in Washington and 2) they will vote for him for that reason and 3) he won’t suffer any serious negative consequences from pissing off progressives.

I think #1 may be true (the bar is a low one), but I have serious doubts about #2 and #3 — and, in any case, what does it get you if you’ve bought into and reinforced the GOP narrative that debt and spending concerns reign supreme, which will undermine short-term and long-term efforts to create jobs or promote clean energy or reduce oil dependence or cut carbon pollution?

During the campaign, Obama was a pretty good salesman for progressive values and policies.  In his first two years, Obama was a lousy salesman, but he was still for the most part pursuing those values and policies — at least until he walked away from the climate bill  with nary a speech.  Now, day in and day out he is a salesman for debt reduction.  We traded in “Change we can believe in” for Ross Perot.
Related Post:

Maddow: "Dean Heller only poor vote to kill Medicare twice" & features AUFC ad

El Sur es nuestro Norte

Via JMG: Upside Down Map

There's no up or down from outer space.

reposted from Joe
Copyright 2011 by Daniel C. Orey All rights reserved. No part of this website may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the author.