The Town Scryer is a mixed bag of humor, socio-political observations and ephemera from the perspective of a eclectic Pagan veteran of the counter-culture.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Notes From The Belly Of The Beast

I haven't been posting much of late.

   I have recently started a new job and the training is 4PM to Midnight. The internal clock is still recalibrating. So it has come to pass that I am working for a major telecom company again. Back to the House Of Pain, back to the land of trite motivational slogans and of sports metaphors, And on that great day as I stare into the abyss of Black Screen DOS, oh let my name be given back to me.

    Meanwhile, having at last cashed a paycheck, I cooked dinner for my niece and her husband, with whom I have been staying the last few months.I went forth into the streets of Woodland, California in search of a simple bottle of Moselle wine. Not a one was to be found,, not in either grocery store, nor in the local caterers, nor in the liquor store. The problem is that German wine labels tend to be plain and descriptive, while most of the people who buy wines for your average grocer or liquor stores buy bottles with pretty modern art labels or that are from vineyards owned by celebrities...or both. To be fair, that is what will sell. This is, after all, America.

     If you want to make a quick million or two, all you need to do is buy a tanker truck full of Mad Dog, bottle it, slap a label on it with a picture of a Kardashian holding a kitten, and charge $20 a bottle.

     Come to think of it, that pretty much describes the election.



Saturday, October 6, 2012

Not Exactly The Emerald City

   A newly minted University graduate with a degree in music has been reduced for the nonce to playing cowbell for an unappreciative audience of birds.

     Jamie Fox spends all day in a farmer's field, dressed all in orange, ever at the ready to repel partridges with cowbell, accordion or ukulele. All for 250 Pounds a week. Actually, he says it is not bad work. He gets a lot of reading done and claims that many of his better-paid friends with more demanding jobs are a bit envious of him.

     For more.

    Be seeing you.

Wonderful Touching Pro-Equality Ad

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Living Graffiti

    Under the cover of the ubiquitous San Francisco fog, the Guerrilla Grafters strike, grafting fruit tree branches onto fruitless trees and bringing pears and plums and cherries to working class neighborhoods. 

     San Francisco, you see has long banned the planting of fruit-bearing trees for fear of messy sidewalks and messy law suits. Tara Hui thinks that is silly and, with a small cadre of cohorts has set out to do something about it. Then group only grafts onto trees that have been selected by a neighborhood steward who promises to care for it. Likewise they only graft onto similar species: apples to apple trees, for example.

     For more about this delightful project see The L.A. Times.

     Be seeing you.


Saturday, September 22, 2012

It's A Dirty Job, But...

   Peter Houison Craufurd, 28th Laird of Craufurdland Castle, and Washer of The Sovereign's Hands, has died at the age of 82. For years he has awaited the pleasure of Her Majesty with a with a silver ewer, bowl and salver holding a linen towel on permanent standby. 

     “We used to have to write to Buckingham Palace to offer to wash the monarch’s hands every time they were in residence at the Palace of Holyroodhouse,” said Houison Craufurd.

    The eldest son in the family line has held the position at court ever since one of his ancestors saved James V  from a pair of murderous thugs. In gratitude the family was given a farm on the condition that his family always be ready with water and towels to wash the hands of the monarch.

    For more see: telegraph

    Be seeing you.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Vikings Land In Australia

     Police and local rangers on Elcho Island in the Northern Territories of Australia were somewhat surprised when the received reports of a Viking longboat off shore. 

     "With swords drawn, it was established the Viking vessel was a replica, crewed by six Russians who had sailed from Europe," Watch Commander Gary Smith said.

     The ship had traveled from Europe, through Africa to Thailand before passing their island on the way to Sydney. The boat had a top speed of eight knots.

     For more:

     Be seeing you.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

A Different Kind of "Privatization"

     Five months ago a public library was closed in north London as part of a cost-cutting measure. Now a remarkable thing has happened. A group of squatters composed of artists, students and a former librarian have moved into the library and are planning on re-opening it and running it themselves.

     One of the squatters, a Hungarian previously involved in the occupation of a courthouse, states that they are trying to save the building from demolition.

     He said: “Libraries are cultural hubs, there are lots of reasons why people need them. People need to read books — even in the age of the internet, libraries are really crucial.”

     They plan to keep the library open Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays from 11 A.M. to 3 P.M.

     They have already acquired 400 books and have started lending them out. Dan said: “Some friends of ours got in and realised this place was important, so they got in contact with us and our friends.
“For us it was about opening up the library. We saw it was really important for local people. They have been trying for 18 months with protests and petitions and have been hitting brick walls, so we thought some direct action could build a bridge with the council.”

     There have been a lot of libraries closed in America the last few years. If anyone from the Occupy movement is reading this...?

     Be seeing you.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Financial Rapine of Our Healthcare System

    The following is cross-posted from tywkiwdbi with a few small additions. It is my favorite blog. You should visit it often.

My aunt, aged 94, died last week. In and of itself, there is nothing remarkable in this statement, except for the fact that she died a pauper and on medical assistance as a ward of the state of Minnesota.
How did she arrive in this sorry state? Did she lead a profligate life, go on expensive vacations and squander her resources? Quite the contrary.
My aunt and her husband, who died in 1985, were hardworking Americans. The children of Polish immigrants, they tried to live by the rules. Combined, they worked for a total of 80 years in a variety of low-level, white-collar jobs. If they collectively earned $30,000 in any given year, that would have been a lot.
Yet, somehow, my aunt managed to save more than $250,000. She also received small pensions from the Teamsters Union and the state of California, along with Social Security and a tiny private annuity. In the last decade of her life, her monthly income amounted to about $1,500.
While that was not a lot of money, it was enough, along with her savings to see her through. Or, it would have been enough, if she had not committed one grievous sin. She became sick. She was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease.
At first she managed to cope, living on her paltry income and leaving her savings untouched. But when she fell ill and had to be placed in assisted living, and finally in a nursing home, her financial fate was sealed.
Although she had Medicare and Medicare supplemental insurance, neither of these covered the costs of long-term care. Her savings were now at risk, at a rate of $60,000 a year. Why did she not have long-term care insurance, you might ask?
Well, with a monthly income of $1,500 and at her age, she simply could not afford the annual premiums of more than $3,000. In the end, she spent everything she had to qualify for Medicaid in Minnesota, which she was on for the last year of her life. This diligent, responsible American woman was pauperized simply because she had the indecency to get terminally ill.
No other industrialized country in the Western world penalizes its middle class in such a way. No other civilized nation demands that people who work hard, act financially responsible and save what they can -- in my aunt's case, an inordinate amount, given her income -- must eventually turn over a lifetime of earnings and accomplishment to the health care industry, if they get seriously ill and require long-term care.
Though I have not been able to find statistics on the subject, I am certain that there will be a massive transfer of wealth over the next two or three decades, amounting to hundreds of billions of dollars or more, from people just like my aunt to health insurers and health care providers.
  Just before my aunt died, she asked me if I would be sure to execute her will as stipulated. She had wanted a small amount of her life savings to go to various nieces and nephews as a small token in remembrance of her.
I did not have the heart to tell her that she was impoverished and that not even a nickel would go to those whom she loved so dearly. It would have crushed her to realize that she was poor and had worked all her life for nothing. She did not deserve to know that this was the legacy left to her by the country she loved so much.

     Be seeing you.

    Original source:

No Fake Cocaine Allowed At Oktoberfest

    Beer festival authorities in Munich are opposed to the sale of erzatz-cocaine by barmaids in drindl dresses with deep decolletage. Entrepeneur Wolfgang Stanek says he invented "Weisnkoks"-or festival cocaine-specially for Oktoberfest. The sealed packages contain sugar with a bit of menthol which he claims give a natural high when snorted through the accompanying straw.

    He had planned to sell his product using busty models in tightly-laced bodices for around $9, which would doubtless have been an effective marketing strategy. Organizers contend that allowing his product would make it harder to spot users of real cocaine.

     Auf widersehen.

    Source: arbroath

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Vertical Man Revisited

    "We must honor while we can
     The vertical man
     Though we value none
     But the horizontal one."

     W.H. Auden

     A good friend of mine posted a clip from Make a Wish on facebook this morning. It was one of those wonderful and bittersweet things involving fulfilling the lifelong dream of someone who was fast running out of life. In this case it was an aspiring ballerina who had always wanted to dance with the male lead of a company. It was arranged. Everyone treated her with kindness and graciously. I freely admit that my eyes burned a bit before it was through.

     Such things always arouse two conflicting reactions within me: On the one hand, I am pleased and proud that my fellow men are capable of responding with such acts of compassion to the plight of another. On the other hand I am left wondering why it takes the shadow of imminent death to give us permission to be gentle with one another.

     I have been to two memorial services in as many years. I have been to many more in the course of my life. In every one I have carried regret with me. I suspect such is the case with most of us.

    It would be a far better world if we could learn to show the living the compassion we reserve for the dying.

     Be seeing you.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Human-Powered Helicopter

     I don't know what it is about human-powered flight that fascinates me so. Maybe it's because I first heard the legend of Icarus when I was very young. I know that I am not alone in this though, else there would not be things like the Sikorsky Prize. The prize was established in 1980. It offers $250,000 to the first human-powered helicopter to reach an altitude of 3 meters at least once, remain aloft for 60 seconds, and remain within a 10 meter square.

    At long last, it looks like we may have a winner soon in the Gamera II:

     I wish them well.


Saturday, September 1, 2012

Is It Safe?


     In the nearly eleven years since the events of September eleventh 2001 the United States has embarked upon somewhere between two and seven wars, depending on how one defines one's conflicts in this brave new world. We have created an uberpolitzei in the chillingly named Department of Homeland Security. We have built a detention camp and we have tortured...And then we have contracted mercenaries for the really dirty work.

     During this time the DHS has used its ever-increasing budget to insure that radioactives are not entering our ports, supplied heavy weapons and armor to local police forces, and built a wall along our southern border. Meanwhile, if you feel like travelling anywhere, prepare to be injected, inspected, infected, detected, neglected, and hope you aren't selected. 

     All of this in the name of protecting us from terrorism. They have spent our tax dollars on ensuring the security from terrorist attack of every potential target from Disneyland and the Mall of America to the head office of Albertson's Markets and a senior citizen's center in Utah. Strangely though, there has not been so much as one dime of DHS money spent on protecting the one set of targets that have already been the object of multiple terrorist attacks: abortion clinics and Planned Parenthood offices. There have been over a hundred incidents of arson and bombings at clinics and at least eight murders, making them easily the leading target of terrorist acts in the U.S. Planned Parenthood has also been the repeated target of terrorist assaults, yet neither group has received any federal money to make them safer from violence. In fact, Congress has forbidden either group from receiving any federal money at all.

    Could it be because these terrorists are White?

    During the Bush administration investigations of White Supremacist groups were largely abandoned and the Earth Liberation Front was declared the #1 domestic terror threat. They had, in their entire history as an organization, caused exactly one death. 

     And so it goes.

     And so it goes.



     For more see: priceofperil

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Whale-Eating Sea Gulls

     Sea gulls off the coast of Argentina have lately taken to taking a bite out of Southern Right Whales when they breach to take on air. This opens a wound for them to tear a few chunks of meat from before the whale submerges. Then they take a little more flesh and blubber each time the whale surfaces. The problem has become so serious that the Argentine police patrol boats have been given instructions to shoot the gulls. Whale watching is a prime source of tourist revenue for the area.   The experience is somewhat spoiled if it  resembles an Alfred Hitchcock film.

     It is thought by environmentalists that the enormous amount of trash that finds its way to the sea has caused an explosion in the gull population, forcing them to find new food sources.

     Be seeing you.

    image and more at:

Monday, August 27, 2012

Once More Into The Voting Booth, Dear Friends

"To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing."

Macbeth Act 5 Scene 5

     In "The Scottish Play" as actors call it, Macbeth has just learned of the death of his wife and is surprised at his own indifference to the event. It is with similar reflection that I look ahead to the coming Presidential election. 

     There are real differences between the candidates. My friends tell me this and I know that it is true. President Obama, for all his faults, and they are many, will resist attempts to gut Social Security and Medicare. Romney and Ryan would dismantle as much of the tattered remnants of the social safety net as they are able to.  These are issues of serious consequence to me. I will turn sixty next month. Under Romney's vision for America I shall have to work until I die.

     That is as stark as it can get.

     There is a new video going around that was made by Broadway actors who support the President:

     Four years ago many of the same people gave us this:

     See the difference? The joy and optimism washes out of the screen like a wave in the earlier video. It captures the feel that we had back in '68 when it seemed that either Gene McCarthy or Bobby Kennedy would be the next president. That was how a lot of people felt about Barack Obama in 2008.Now it is 2012 and we have gone from "Storm the Barricades!" to "Man the barricades, here they come again".

     Many of the great things that we hoped for, and many of the things we were promised did not come to be. Much of it was the result of obstructionism by an opposition that seemed willing to destroy the country to regain power. 

     Some of it simply felt like a betrayal of our trust, the NDAA for example, or the assertion of the power to assassinate American Citizens accused of supporting terrorists without any due process. 

     It is simply hard to be excited. This is my eleventh Presidential election that I will have voted in and the fourteenth that I can remember. There is no talk of Hope and Change this year. This year both sides tell me "Vote for us or bad things will happen".

    Bad things have happened for twelve years. 

    I am very much afraid I will see more bad things in the four years to come no matter who sits in the Oval Office. I feel that much of America shares this...not even cynicism, but a sad resignation.

     The death of Neil Armstrong this week brought back to me memories of what America used to aspire to be, even when we were struggling to free ourselves of the quagmire of a seemingly endless war. Even with Nixon in the White House, we still had hope...for a time.

     "With the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark-the place where the wave broke, and rolled back."

     "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" Hunter S. Thompson

     Be seeing you.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Not a Light, But a Place

  I remember that day in July of '69 so well. Grandmother had passed barely month before and I thought it a great pity that she had missed that moment when Mr. Armstrong first set foot upon the moon. She had told me of torchlight parades for McKinley and of the War To End All Wars, but didn't. Of gas lights and horse-drawn carriages and the first automobiles. It would have been fine if she could have seen that too, her eyes bright with one more wonder.

    I remember looking up into the night sky at that bright silver dime and realizing for the first time that it was a place...a place where people could go...a place where people HAD gone, and maybe I might go there too.

   Now Mr. Armstrong has gone where all have gone before, or shall.

    But the wonder remains.

     Be seeing you.

Photo from NASA

Friday, August 24, 2012

Trickle Down Immigration Reform

    This being an election year there will soon be a lot of bleating about "Illegal aliens"*. There will be calls for ID checks on suspicious (brown) people ala Jan Brewer's Arizona. There will be calls for bigger walls and more armed men guarding our borders, providing job security for unskilled laborers in the employ of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. All of these things will produce two important outcomes: They will spend lots of Homeland Security money, and they will make absolutely no significant change in the amount of undocumented workers in the U.S.A. This last item is vital because no one, with the possible exception of a few million GOP blue collar voters, actually wants to stop illegal immigration. Certainly the big money donors to the GOP election campaigns don't. Undocumented workers are a big businessman's wet dream. They work below minimum wage in appalling conditions, they don't complain, and when it's time to write their paychecks you can call the I.C.E. and have them deported.

     The key to real immigration reform is not building more walls or hiring more guards, We've been trying that for a while now and it hasn't changed anything. We need a new approach.

     I just happen to have one.

     We make it a crime, punishable by a fine of $20,000 per victim, to pay an employee below minimum wage. We award half the amount of the fine to the worker who was cheated in addition to back wages.

     Oh yes, and whistle-blowers get an automatic green card if an arrest is made.

     I guarantee the number of people crossing the border will  dry up to a trickle in no time...except for sweatshop owners jumping bail.

* "Illegal Aliens" is a registered trademark of the Republican Party.

     Be seeing you.


NASA Does a Class Act


 The landing site of the Rover "Curiosity" has officially been names after the late Science Fiction author, Ray Bradbury.

     The Twitter feed from Curiosity read "In tribute, I dedicate my landing spot on Mars to you, Ray Bradbury. Greetings from Bradbury Landing!"

    Ray Bradbury , the author of many classics of speculative fiction including "The Martian Chronicles" and "Fahrenheit 451", died this June fifth at the age of 91.

More at latimes

Be seeing you.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Pub For Sale, Pig Included

Be warned though, this little piggy likes a pint.

     Pyangana's Pub is on the market with an asking price of $800,000 (Au) or about $840,000 US. It come with a fair sized tract of land and the pub's pig, Pinky. Pinky is the Progeny of Pricilla, her predecessor who recently passed. (Sorry about that. Once you get started with alliteration it's hard to stop.)

More at: themercury

Be seeing you.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Nightmare, With Angels

    Looking at the drought withered corn belt and the shrinking polar ice cap on the net while we wait to vote on GMO labeling in our food my mind keeps turning back to a poem by Stephen Vincent Benet.

Nightmare, With Angels
by Stephen Vincent Benet

An angel came to me and stood by my bedside,
Remarking in a professional-historical-economic and
    irritated voice,
"If the Romans had only invented a decent explosion-engine!
Not even the best, not even a Ford V-8
But, say, a Model-T or even an early Napier,
They'd have built good enough roads for it (they knew how to
    build roads)
From Cape Wrath to Cape St. Vincent, Susa, Babylon and Moscow.
And the motorized legions never would have fallen,
And Peace, in the shape of a giant eagle, would brood over the
    entire Western World!"
He changed his expression, looking now like a combination of
    Gilbert Murray, Hilaire Belloc,
    and a dozen other scientists, writers,
    and prophets,
And continued, in angelic tones,
"If the Greeks had known how to cooperate, if there'd never
    been a Reformation,
If Sparta had not been Sparta, and the Church had been the Church
     of the saints,
The Argive peace like a free-blooming olive-tree, the peace of Christ
    (who loved peace)
  like a great, beautiful vine enwrapping the spinning earth!
Take it nearer home," he said.
Take these Mayans and their star-clocks, their carvings and their
    great cities.
Who sacked them out of their cities, drowned the cities with a
    green jungle?
A plague? A change of climate? A queer migration?
Certainly they were skillful, certainly they created.
And in Tenochtitlan, the dark obsidian knife and the smoking heart on
    the stone but a fair city,
And the Incas had it worked out beautifully til Pizarro smashed them.
The collectivist state was there, and the ladies very agreeable.
They lacked steel, alphabet, and gunpowder and they had to get
    married when the government said so.
They also lacked unenployment and overproduction.
For that matter," he said, "take the Cro-Magnons,
The fellows with the big skills, the handsome folk, the excellent
    scribers of mammoths,
Physical gods and yet with sensitive brain (they drew the fine,
    running reindeer).
What stopped them? What kept us all from being Apollos and Aphrodites
Only with a new taste to the nectar,
The laughing gods, not the cruel, the gods of song, not of war?
Supposing Aurelius, Confucious, Napoleon, Plato, Gautama, Alexander -
Just to name half a dozen -
Had ever realized and stabilized the full dream?
How long, O Lord God in the highest? How long, what now, perturbed spirit?"
He turned blue at the wingtips and disappeared as another angel
    approached me.
This one was quietly but appropriately dressed in cellophane, synthetic
    rubber and stainless steel,
But his mask was the blind mask of Ares, snouted for gasmasks.
He was neither soldier, sailor, farmer, dictator, nor munitions-manufacturer.
Nor did he have much conversation, except to say,
"You will not be saved by General Motors or the prefabricated house.
You will not be saved by dialectic materialism or the Lambeth Conference.
You will not be saved by Vitamin D or the expanding universe.
In Fact, you will not be saved."
In his hand was a woven, wire basket, full of seeds, small metallic and
    shining like the seeds of portulaca;
Where he sowed them, the green vine withered, and the smoke and
    armies sprang up.
Be seeing you

Photo from:
Woman With Gaskmask1943. Photographed by Wolf Strache.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Ever-Vigilant Bong Disposal Squad

    The Police in Sherman Heights, California were alerted when a construction worker spotted a suspicious looking object in a construction site near Interstate 5. The ten inch metal tube with both ends capped resembled a pipe bomb, causing the ordinance disposal team to be called in. The nearby homes were evacuated and streets were closed to traffic.

    A specially-designed pressurized air tool was used to blow open one end of the device which was determined to be a home made bong, a device used for smoking marijuana.

     Definitely harshed somebody's mellow.


     Be seeing you.

Friday, August 17, 2012

But Why?

     "The Hakone Kowakien Yunessun Hot Springs in Japan, is one of the only places where you can fully immerse yourself in a vat of steaming red wine.

The red wine pool features a 3.6m tall bottle of wine that pours Beaujolais Nouveau into the pool throughout the day."


     Now I have in my youth tasted wine that seems in retrospect better suited for bathing than drinking, but it seems to me to be terribly decadent to actually do so...and not in the deliciously naughty fun way, but in the burning a hundred dollar bill to light a cigar and in need of a karmic enema way. Then again, I have often been accused of being a Liberal by people who seem to be under the mistaken impression that they are insulting me.

     Be seeing you.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Some Thoughts Upon Funeral

    About a month ago I attended the memorial service for an old acquaintance. She had passed nearly a month before that but, as she was Gay and had no relations in this country, there was a great deal of trouble over the release of the body.

     I don't suppose that made much difference to her, but it was pretty hard on some of those who were close to her. There were a few more tears than normal at such occasions perhaps. It is hard to measure sorrow.

     The service was Wiccan with a lot of Dianic symbolism. About half of those in attendance were not Pagan so it wasn't a complex ritual and I don't believe anyone actually noticed the Dieties being invoked. We all shared memories of our departed friend, many of which had to do with role-playing gaming, while we all silently noted the incursion of grey hair on one another's heads. The Priestess tied the feathers we each held to a length of twine and we draped the result upon the boughs of the pear tree in the yard.

    When it was all over we promised to get together again, but few actually exchanged phone numbers. Such is always the way, I suppose. We feel the cold breath of time upon our necks and we want to reach out to one another, but too many years have passed and we fear we have nothing left in common.

     We all shared food and drink in a communion far older than Christianity. Then,  after a while, we all got into our cars and went our separate ways; all the Lost Boys chilled by the shadow of Winter.

     And so it goes.



Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Day They Hanged An Elephant

   On September 13, 1916 a five-ton circus elephant was executed, hung from a 100-ton Clinchfield railroad crane car, in the little town of Erwin, Tennessee. ‘Murderous Mary’ had killed a man, and for that she had to die. Shooting her in the four soft spots on her head would be both difficult and dangerous. She wouldn’t eat poison. And the town didn’t have enough power to electrocute her.

     It all started when Sparks World Famous Shows hired Walter "Red" Eldridge as an assistant elephant trainer in spite of his total lack of experience. He had only been on the job one day when he made a fatal mistake. He had been using a pole with a hook on the end to guide the elephants to the watering ditch and he had been warned to me gentle with it and not to provoke the animals...

     Suddenly, Mary “collided its trunk vice-like [sic] about [Eldridge's] body, lifted him 10 feet in the air, then dashed him with fury to the ground… and with the full force of her biestly [sic] fury is said to have sunk her giant tusks entirely through his body. The animal then trampled the dying form of Eldridge as if seeking a murderous triumph, then with a sudden… swing of her massive foot hurled his body into the crowd.” —The Johnson City Staff, September 13, 1916

   The circus owner knew they would have to put Mary down. He decided to use a railroad crane used for unloading lumber cars. Over 2,500 people turned out to watch the execution. They let Mary hang for 30 minutes, then lowered her into a grave dug with a steam shovel.

     Be seeing you.


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Is You Neighbor a Democrat? There's An App For That!

     Want to know which political party your neighbors belong to? Just download the new mobile application from the Obama campaign! The app links to Google Maps and shows your current location and marks registered Democrats with little blue flags. It also lists each neighbor's first name, gender, age and party affiliation, for example: "Lori C., 58 F, Democrat."

     While all of this is public information, having it all delivered in nice tidy electronic packets to any smart phone is...disquieting. When asked about the privacy concerns and potential for misuse inherent in such software, an spokesman for the Obama campaign replied that "anyone familiar with the political process in America knows this information about registered voters is available and easily accessible to the public." He added that the app only displays a small cluster of addresses at a time and that there are safeguards to alert if someone misuses the data "such as people submitting way too many voter contacts in a short period of time," 

     Of course that could be changed by a less scrupulous user in a future version.

Much more at propublica

Modern Classical Art

    The French art director Alexis Persani and the French photographer combined their talents and vision to place classical artwork in in new light:

   To create the project called Street Stone, they first photographed the sculptures, then photographed friends in casual attire in the same pose. Digital manipulation married the desired elements of the two images.

For more, including a video on how it was done, see mymodernmet

Be seeing you.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Dublin's Busking Rules

"The city's famous buskers and street performers are no longer allowed to "hog or monopolise a performance site", or set up within 50 metres of each other. Amp free zones, limited times, and sale of merchandise are also included in the code of practice."

    Dublin has a history of respecting buskers, (street musicians), and the regulations seem to be intended to give everyone a chance at earning a bit of income.  The musicians as well as the local shop owners were consulted.

bbc and arbroath

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Why I Won't Buy a Smart Phone

   Recently Malte Spitz, a German Green Party politician, sued Deutsche Telecom (parent of T-Mobile in the USA) requiring that they hand over six months of his phone data. Because  he wasn't in the USA, he actually won. He turned the information over to Zeit. They combined this information with Twitter feeds, blog entries, and other information freely available on-line.

     If you go to the link you can see just how much of his life is no longer private to anyone with access.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Masked Penis Thief

   Fey Lin lives in China's Zhejiang province. One night, according to his police report, four masked men burst into the room where he lay sleeping, pulled down his pants, and stole his penis.

     "They put something over my head and pulled down my trousers and then they ran off. I was so shocked I didn't feel a thing - then I saw I was bleeding and my penis was gone."

    Emergency workers searched, but were unable to find the missing member. In spite of his denials, police suspect revenge as the motive.

     Be seeing you

Fly Away and Be Free!

I think I like these people!

Be seeing you,

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Detroit Make-Over: A Zombie Theme Park

Personally, I'd have gone with Robocop, but maybe too much time has passed since the film.

     Mark Siwak is trying to raise $145,000 to buy or lease enough abandoned property to build Z World-Detroit, a zombie apocalypse theme park. Considering the current state of some residential neighborhoods in the motor city, not much work would be needed.

     What with the city and the Governor reducing services and some of the locals hunting Possum and squirrel as a source of protein and selling them as a source of ready cash, it may just be an idea whose time has come.

     Siwak's proposed site would involve buying at least some of the land from the city, and so far the city has not expressed any interest.

     Siwak's fund-raising efforts will continue until Aug. 10 at He has received about $5,500 in pledges. More than money, "Realistically, it needs to attract a local developer," he said. "We're just some people with an idea."

     Detroit Free Press

     Be seeing you.

    (Image from Sam Raimi's "The Evil Dead")

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Heartbreak of the Naked Ape

Pony before [inset] and after. Photos courtesy of the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation

     " Pony is an orangutan from a prostitute village in Borneo. We found her chained to a wall, lying on a mattress. She had been shaved all over her body."

     "If a man walked near her, she would turn herself around, present herself, and start gyrating and going through the motions. She was being used as a sex slave. She was probably about six or seven years old when we rescued her, but she had been held captive by a madam for a long time. The madam refused to give up the animal because everyone loved Pony and she was a big part of their income. They also thought Pony was lucky, as she would pick winning lottery numbers." (Quote is from Michelle Diselets, the Director of The Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation.)

     I don't know why it is that a story about animal abuse like this has the power to affect us in ways that stories about our cruelty to each other do not. It is true none the less. The story indicates that the village where Pony was rescued was a place where the rain forest is being cut down to produce palm oil. It does not indicate if this has removed the livelihood of the village or if the village is the local equivalent of a logging camp. I am searching in my mind for a cause for such depravity. 

     I need very much to believe in one, that no group of people can be naturally this corrupt.

     "It took us over a year to rescue her, because every time we went in with forest police and local officers we would be overpowered by the villagers, who simply would not give her up. They would threaten us with guns and knives with poison on them. In the end it took 35 policemen armed with AK-47s and other weaponry going in there and demanding that they hand over Pony." 

     Be seeing you.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Peep Show Becomes Art


 The National Gallery in London has chosen a unique medium in an attempt to portray part of an exhibit featuring scenes from Greek mythology. Turner Prize-winning artist Paul Wallinger has arranged for six women to portray the Goddess Diana at bath as they sit naked in a mocked-up bathroom while the public glimpses them through peep holes. The exhibit is intended to evoke the myth of the hunter Actaeon who stumbled upon Diana at bath and was hunted for his offence.

The price of admission to view the modern Diana will be somewhat less dear. If fact, it's free.

Be seeing you.


Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Vikings Invented Baseball (sort of)

"...a ball game called knattleikr was played, which involved at least four men throwing a ball, chasing and running, and sometimes also involved a bat. Gardeła relates that in the saga of Egill Skallagrimsson, a game was arranged that brought people from around the district to watch. The story goes that “Egill, who must have been under 12 years old, was competing against an 11-year-old boy named Grımr, who seems to have been much stronger. At some point Egill lost his temper and struck his opponent with a bat, but was immediately seized and dashed to the ground. After complaining about these events to his friend Þorðr Granason, Egill took an axe and drove it into Grimr’s head.”

   More about other Viking game at

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