Let's say you were dreaming up the perfect stealth candidate for 2008, a Democrat who could step into the presidential race when the party confronts its inevitable doubts about the front-runners. You would want a candidate with the grassroots appeal of Barack Obama—someone with a message that transcends politics, someone who spoke out loud and clear and early against the war in Iraq. But you would also want a candidate with the operational toughness of Hillary Clinton—someone with experience and credibility on the world stage.
In other words, you would want someone like Al Gore—the improbably charismatic, Academy Award–winning, Nobel Prize–nominated environmental prophet with an army of followers and huge reserves of political and cultural capital at his command. There's only one problem. The former Vice President just doesn't seem interested. He says he has "fallen out of love with politics," which is shorthand for both his general disgust with the process and the pain he still feels over the hard blow of the 2000 election, when he became only the fourth man in U.S. history to win the popular vote but lose a presidential election. In the face of wrenching disappointment, he showed enormous discipline—waking up every day knowing he came so close, believing the Supreme Court was dead wrong to shut down the Florida recount but never talking about it publicly because he didn't want Americans to lose faith in their system. That changes a man forever.
It changed Gore for the better. He dedicated himself to a larger cause, doing everything in his power to sound the alarm about the climate crisis, and that decision helped transform the way Americans think about global warming and carried Gore to a new state of grace. So now the question becomes, How will he choose to spend all the capital he has accumulated? No wonder friends, party elders, moneymen and green leaders are still trying to talk him into running. "We have dug ourselves into a 20-ft. hole, and we need somebody who knows how to build a ladder. Al's the guy," says Steve Jobs of Apple. "Like many others, I have tried my best to convince him. So far, no luck."
A hang (pronounced 'hung' or 'hong') is a melodious percussive musical instrument, similar to a steel drum. It uses many of the same physical principles to operate. However, since it is struck with the fingers, the sound is generally much softer than a steel drum, and can be played in many ways to produce a large variety of sounds.
When you buy organic foods, you expect organic ingredients, right?
Last week the USDA unveiled their new “standards” for 39 food materials. Amazingly enough, all 39 proposed “standards” simply declare chemicals or chemically grown foodsstuffs can now be hidden in foods labelled “organic”. The comment period ended Tuesday, May 22.
Big Industrial Food (and their colleagues temporarily on detail as Bushie political appointees at USDA) have been chewing this over for years. The Bushies at USDA generously gave the public seven days of comment (instead of the usual 30 or 45) on the latest loopholes Big Ag and Big Bug Spray found for our tables.
Big Ag and Big Bug Spray have entered their “Harry Potter” phase. They want the USDA to magically declare:
Chemically grown rice magically produces organic rice starch Chemically grown hops magically make organic beer. Chemical cheese from chemically raised milk magically contains organic whey protein Chemical fish raised in pens and fed nothing but artificial food pellets and antibiotics will – when passed through industrial grinders – magically produce organic fish oil.
Here are a couple of books on how we think. They come at the subject from different directions and make good companions. Highly recommended. Actually, all you need to know is that everything you know is a lie.
Don't Believe Everything You Think: The 6 Basic Mistakes We Make in Thinking by Thomas E. Kida
Do you believe that you can consistently beat the stock market if you put in the effort? —that some people have extrasensory perception? —that crime and drug abuse in America are on the rise? Many people hold one or more of these beliefs although research shows that they are not true. And it’s no wonder since advertising and some among the media promote these and many more questionable notions. Although our creative problem-solving capacity is what has made humans the successful species we are, our brains are prone to certain kinds of errors that only careful critical thinking can correct. This enlightening book discusses how to recognize faulty thinking and develop the necessary skills to become a more effective problem solver.
A Mind of its Own: How Your Brain Distorts and Deceives by Cordelia Fine
Many psychological studies show that on average, each of us believes we are above average compared with others—more ethical and capable, better drivers, better judges of character, and more attractive. Our weaknesses are, of course, irrelevant. Such self distortion protects our egos from harm, even when nothing could be further from the truth. Our brains are the trusted advisers we should never trust. This "distorting prism" of selfknowledge is what Cordelia Fine, a psychologist at the Australian National University, calls our "vain brain." Fine documents the lengths to which a human brain will go to bias perceptions in the perceiver’s favor. When explaining to ourselves and others why something has gone well or badly, we attribute success to our own qualities, while shedding responsibility for failure. Our brains bias memory and reason, selectively editing truth to inflictless pain on our fragile selves. They also shield the ego from truth with "retroactive pessimism," insisting the odds were stacked inevitably toward doom. Alternatively, the brain of "selfhandicappers" concocts nonthreatening excuses for failure. Furthermore, our brains warp perceptions to match emotions. In the extreme, patients with Cotard delusion actually believe they are dead. So "pigheaded" is the brain about protecting its perspective that it defends cherished positions regardless of data. The "secretive" brain unconsciously directs our lives via silent neural equipment that creates the illusion of willfulness. "Never forget," Fine says, "that your unconscious is smarter than you, faster than you, and more powerful than you. It may even control you. You will never know all of its secrets." So what to do? Begin with self-awareness, Fine says, then manage the distortions as best one can. We owe it to ourselves "to lessen the harmful effects of the brain’s various shams," she adds, while admitting that applying this lesson to others is easier than to oneself. Ironically, one category of persons shows that it is possible to view life through a clearer lens. "Their self-perceptions are more balanced, they assign responsibility for success and failure more even-handedly, and their predictions for the future are more realistic. These people are living testimony to the dangers of self-knowledge," Fine asserts. "They are the clinically depressed." Case in point.
My car has been having starting problems lately. Today the starter died.
I thought it was the battery but a jump start did nothing. I briefly thought about fixing it myself but I took one look at where the starter was and decided to have the tow truck drop it off at my mechanics.
Gordon Simmons has been towing cars on Whidbey Island for pretty much his entire life. I've had him tow a number of mine over the last 20 years. He is one of those institutions on the Island. A nice guy. At least I had a camera with me and I got a number of shots while waiting.
I'm on record saying (repeatedly) that we have a huge, unsustainable asset price bubble, and that banks are doing insane things right now. And those of you that have read me previously may remember my quip that a good banker is not one who is right, it is one who is wrong at the same time as the other bankers (and thus bankers right now have no incentive not to participate to the increasingly aggressive deals one can see around).
The scariest thing is that a large number of senior bankers are aware of what I'm saying, are on the same line - and are doing nothing about it.
Twisting up through the narrow streets of Hong Kong is the world’s longest escalator system, spanning over 800m. The escalators, moving walkways and pedestrian bridges connect the downtown financial district to the mid-levels, a upscale neighborhood of condominium towers where many executives live. The escalator system was conceived to alleviate car traffic by helping commuters travel efficiently to work while providing protection from rain. The escalators have proven to be very popular, carrying over 45,000 people a day.
It's a wrap! My new film, "Sicko," is all done and will have its world premiere this Saturday night at the Cannes Film Festival. As with "Bowling for Columbine" and "Fahrenheit 9/11," we are honored to have been chosen by this prestigious festival to screen our work there.
My intention was to keep "Sicko" under wraps and show it to virtually no one before its premiere in Cannes. That is what I have done and, as you may have noticed if you are a recipient of my infrequent Internet letters, I have been very silent about what I've been up to. In part, that's because I was working very hard to complete the film. But my silence was also because I knew that the health care industry -- an industry which makes up more than 15 percent of our GDP -- was not going to like much of what they were going to see in this movie and I thought it best not to upset them any sooner than need be.
Well, going quietly to Cannes, I guess, was not to be. For some strange reason, on May 2nd the Bush administration initiated an action against me over how I obtained some of the content they believe is in my film. As none of them have actually seen the film (or so I hope!), they decided, unlike with "Fahrenheit 9/11," not to wait until the film was out of the gate and too far down the road to begin their attack.
Bush's Treasury Secretary, Henry Paulson, launched an investigation of a trip I took to Cuba to film scenes for the movie. These scenes involve a group of 9/11 rescue workers who are suffering from illnesses obtained from working down at Ground Zero. They have received little or no help with their health care from the government. I do not want to give away what actually happens in the movie because I don't want to spoil it for you (although I'm sure you'll hear much about it after it unspools Saturday). Plus, our lawyers have advised me to say little at this point, as the film goes somewhere far scarier than "Cuba." Rest assured of one thing: no laws were broken. All I've done is violate the modern-day rule of journalism that says, "ask no questions of those in power or your luncheon privileges will be revoked."
Well, as you may have read by now, our premiere of "Sicko" at the Cannes Film Festival has been an overwhelming success. The 2,000 people inside the Lumière Theater were alternately in tears and laughing during the two-hour film -- and when it was over, they gave it a standing ovation that seemed to go on for nearly 15 minutes! Many came up to me and said (and critics seem to agree) that this is my best film yet. I don't know about that, and it seems weird to compare any of these movies in the first place. But I do feel safe in saying that I am very, very happy with this film and I can't wait to show it to you when it opens on June 29th.
Here’s something that won’t surprise you: Michael Moore has some gripes about how things are going in this country — and he wants to share them with you. The filmmaker behind such blistering hits as Fahrenheit 9/11, Bowling for Columbine and Roger & Me, Moore, 53, is back with Sicko, his soon-to-be released take on the U.S. health-care industry.
The movie, screened for TIME, is double-barreled Moore, a mix of familiar numbers (47 million uninsured Americans, the ever rising cost of care) and chilling moments (the 18-month-old baby who dies of a seizure when she’s denied emergency-room access, the husband and father with kidney cancer whose insurer won’t pay for a bone-marrow transplant). Together, they will have many moviegoers angry enough to gouge holes in their armrests.
This new series looks at contemporary American culture through the austere lens of statistics. Each image portrays a specific quantity of something: fifteen million sheets of office paper (five minutes of paper use); 106,000 aluminum cans (thirty seconds of can consumption) and so on. My hope is that images representing these quantities might have a different effect than the raw numbers alone, such as we find daily in articles and books. Statistics can feel abstract and anesthetizing, making it difficult to connect with and make meaning of 3.6 million SUV sales in one year, for example, or 2.3 million Americans in prison, or 426,000 cell phones retired every day. This project visually examines these vast and bizarre measures of our society, in large intricately detailed prints assembled from thousands of smaller photographs.
My only caveat about this series is that the prints must be seen in person to be experienced the way they are intended. As with any large artwork, their scale carries a vital part of their substance which is lost in these little web images. Hopefully the JPEGs displayed here might be enough to arouse your curiosity to attend an exhibition, or to arrange one if you are in a position to do so. The series is a work in progress, and new images will be posted as they are completed, so please stay tuned.
Plastic Bottles, 2007 60x120" Depicts two million plastic beverage bottles, the number used in the US every five minutes.
Returning to Southern California from Hawaii after a sailing race, Moore had altered Alguita’s course, veering slightly north. He had the time and the curiosity to try a new route, one that would lead the vessel through the eastern corner of a 10-million-square-mile oval known as the North Pacific subtropical gyre. This was an odd stretch of ocean, a place most boats purposely avoided. For one thing, it was becalmed. “The doldrums,” sailors called it, and they steered clear. So did the ocean’s top predators: the tuna, sharks, and other large fish that required livelier waters, flush with prey. The gyre was more like a desert—a slow, deep, clockwise-swirling vortex of air and water caused by a mountain of high-pressure air that lingered above it.
The area’s reputation didn’t deter Moore. He had grown up in Long Beach, 40 miles south of L.A., with the Pacific literally in his front yard, and he possessed an impressive aquatic résumé: deckhand, able seaman, sailor, scuba diver, surfer, and finally captain. Moore had spent countless hours in the ocean, fascinated by its vast trove of secrets and terrors. He’d seen a lot of things out there, things that were glorious and grand; things that were ferocious and humbling. But he had never seen anything nearly as chilling as what lay ahead of him in the gyre.
It began with a line of plastic bags ghosting the surface, followed by an ugly tangle of junk: nets and ropes and bottles, motor-oil jugs and cracked bath toys, a mangled tarp. Tires. A traffic cone. Moore could not believe his eyes. Out here in this desolate place, the water was a stew of plastic crap. It was as though someone had taken the pristine seascape of his youth and swapped it for a landfill.
How did all the plastic end up here? How did this trash tsunami begin? What did it mean? If the questions seemed overwhelming, Moore would soon learn that the answers were even more so, and that his discovery had dire implications for human—and planetary—health. As Alguita glided through the area that scientists now refer to as the “Eastern Garbage Patch,” Moore realized that the trail of plastic went on for hundreds of miles. Depressed and stunned, he sailed for a week through bobbing, toxic debris trapped in a purgatory of circling currents. To his horror, he had stumbled across the 21st-century Leviathan. It had no head, no tail. Just an endless body.
The UCLA Charles E. Young Research Library Department of Special Collections has selected and digitized 5,124 of the more than three million images contained in the Los Angeles Times and Los Angeles Daily News photographic archives. The photographs chronicle the history and growth of Los Angeles from the 1920s to 1990.
C.N. "Jimmie" James climbing into plane for first transcontinental night mail flight service in Los Angeles, Calif., 1929
I have a customer here on Whidbey Island that wants a panoramic photo of the view from his property. But he wants it on a clear sunny morning. We had a few days of rain and I had hoped that it would have cleared up the haze but Tuesday morning found me ready but it was too hazy.
I saw him at the Freeland post office Wednesday and we both hoped that the air would clear up before September. Wednesday morning I had a phone message from him almost yelling "The sky is clear. It's perfect!" Unfortunately, for him, I was on the ferry for a day of meetings in Seattle.
My first stop was to meet Don who was house sitting a house boat on Lake Union. He's a photographer. I did a website for him. He has been wanting to have me do some prints for him for a project he is working on. We've been looking for a printer.
It's not obvious but all these houses are floating on Lake Union in the middle of Seattle. They used to be cheap housing during the Depression and after WWII but they are very expensive now.
He's watching a cat a watering the plants of a friend that's on a trip. It's the large brown house on the left. There is 56 feet of water under it. It's an interesting community including people that have been living there since the 1950s and 1960s, when the houses were cheap, to new rich owners.
We were going to meet the owner of a company, John, that sells framed art to furniture chains. His office was in Pioneer Square near the Seattle Seahawks home field. We parked and walked up to his office.
John's office was in an old brick building built in the early 1900s. He was late so we headed on down to the restaurant to meet him for lunch.
Right across from Safeco Field. Both John and Don need large inkjet prints done on demand. I'm not sure what will come of this but it has lots of interesting possibilities. The food was good, too.
We walked back to John's office for more discussion. He is on the fourth floor so we took the freight elevator up.
An elemental elevator. Open at the top. Then the three of us walked up to central Pioneer Square to see a friend of Don's.
His friend works for a very interesting stock photo agency called digitalrailroad.net. It's a new paradigm for stock photos. The photographer keeps 80% of sales. What a concept! A day of making contacts. Then Don and I went up to Glazers to look at an Epson 3800. Then it was back to the houseboat. Nothing decided but lots to think about. I did come away with something.
Don lent me his Nikon F3 HP with a motor drive, a 35/2 lens and a 105/2.5 lens.
I've got it loaded with Kodachrome. The meter doesn't seem to be doing what it's supposed to but everything else is amazing. I might have something set wrong. Incredible camera. Don also has a lot of Norman lighting stuff he is willing to lend me, too. I have friend who has the space to use it. Hopefully, I can get that stuff up to the Island in a few weeks. By the end of the day my head was ready to explode. It was good to get back to the Island.