Around the web

Fukushima: Twice as much Fukushima radiation near California coast than originally reported — Gundersen: Multiple plumes now along west coast…

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From ENENEWS

Twice as much Fukushima radiation near California coast than originally reported; Highest levels found anywhere in Eastern Pacific — Scientist: Very little we can do… It’s unprecedented… God forbid anything else happens — Gundersen: Multiple plumes now along west coast… Will be coming “for century or more” (AUDIO)

Seattle Post Intelligencer, Nov 11, 2014 (emphasis added): Mike Priddy, supervisor of Washington’s Environmental Sciences Section [wrote] in an email exchange today: “… if the water has radioactive material in it at any level, coming into contact with it will cause the contamination to transfer. That said, the levels… pose no real health affects… whether you come in contact with the water or somehow casually ingest itThe levels I have seen in seawater are interesting from a scientific point of view, but well below health concerns.”

KHUM, Nov. 12, 2014 — Ken Buesseler, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (10:00 in): In winter time… offshore waters might move inshore… I’m hoping to get samples… as this plume moves its way maybe on to shore.

Take Two Show, Nov. 14, 2014 — Host: The thing that I read that did do a good job of reassuring me was a comparison to a dental x-ray. Maybe tell us that one? Buesseler: We’re comparing to a dental x-ray because that’s something people experience and choose to do… The risk is never zero, any additional radioactivity can cause additional cancers… There’s really very little we can do once its in the ocean. Fukushima was an unprecedented event… God forbid something happens today, it’s pretty unstable off Japan.

Meeting Tonight 11/20/14 Regarding MendoVito proposal to build 3,000 to 4,000 houses in McDowell Valley, off State Route 175…

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Meeting Reminder: 7 pm at Shipley Hall, Hopland Research Station

A complete presentation of the project will be made Thursday at the Rod Shippey Hall, at the UC Extension Center, 4070 University Road in Hopland.

More Info: mendovito.com

Pre-Registering Required: Call Amber at the extension center, at 744-1424 ext. 101 anshrum@ucanr.edu or visiting HERE  to ensure space is available. Lewenz and four other staff members involved in the project will be in attendance.

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The Instability Express…

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From James Kunstler

The mentally-challenged kibitzers “out there” — in the hills and hollows of the commentary universe, cable news, the blogosphere, and the pathetic vestige of newspaperdom — are all jumping up and down in a rapture over cheap gasoline prices. Overlay on this picture the fairy tale of coming US energy independence, stir in the approach of winter in the North Dakota shale oil fields, put an early November polar vortexcherry on top, and you have quite a recipe for smashed expectations.

A Guide to the Good Life: The Best Life Hacks from the Ancient Stoics…

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From Lifehacker

This book is really for everyone—whether you’re philosophically-minded or not. It’s all about being happier and having more control over how you react to life’s difficulties. And don’t we all have those, to some extent?

Even if the term “ancient philosophies” puts you to sleep, Irvine does a good job of making the topic accessible to just about anyone, at least once you get past the history portion of the book. Some of the tricks you may heard of, some you may not—and some may seem like common sense. But the Stoics (and Irvine) have a way of putting them into words that can really motivate you.

What You’ll Get

In Irvine’s opinion, everyone should have a cohesive “philosophy of life” to follow, and his goal is to present one with A Guide to the Good Life. But you don’t have to think of this book as a massive life change. Most of the tips can easily fit into any modern lifestyle, and are even compatible with many major religions, whether you’re a Christian or a Zen Buddhist. So, while you can think of it as a philosophy of life, I prefer to think of it as a collection of “tips and tricks” from some very smart, very old people.

The book is broken up into three parts, each of which is broken up further by subject:

Kill For God…


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Bill Nye: Climate Change 101


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Carl Sagan: We are the custodians of life’s meaning…


From CARL SAGAN
Pale Blue Dot

What do we really want from philosophy and religion? Palliatives? Therapy? Comfort? Do we want reassuring fables or an understanding of our actual circumstances? Dismay that the Universe does not conform to our preferences seems childish.

But if our objective is deep knowledge rather than shallow reassurance, the gains from this new perspective far outweigh the losses. Once we overcome our fear of being tiny, we find ourselves on the threshold of a vast and awesome Universe that utterly dwarfs—in time, in space, and in potential—the tidy anthropocentric proscenium of our ancestors.

We gaze across billions of light-years of space to view the Universe shortly after the Big Bang, and plumb the fine structure of matter. We peer down into the core of our planet, and the blazing interior of our star. We read the genetic language in which is written the diverse skills and propensities of every being on Earth. We uncover hidden chapters in the record of our own origins, and with some anguish better understand our nature and prospects. We invent and refine agriculture, without which almost all of us would starve to death. We create medicines and vaccines that save the lives of billions. We communicate at the speed of light, and whip around the Earth in an hour and a half. We have sent dozens of ships to more than seventy worlds, and four spacecraft to the stars.

We are right to rejoice in our accomplishments, to be proud that our species has been able to see so far, and to judge our merit in part by the very science that has so deflated our pretensions…

There is in this Universe much of what seems to be design. Every time we come upon it, we breathe a sigh of relief. We are forever hoping to find, or at least safely deduce, a Designer. But instead, we repeatedly discover that natural processes… can extract order out of chaos, and deceive us into deducing purpose where there is none…. But, amid much elegance and precision, the details of life and the Universe also exhibit haphazard, jury-rigged arrangements and much poor planning. What shall we make of this: an edifice abandoned early in construction by the architect?

The evidence, so far at least and laws of Nature aside, does not require a Designer. Maybe there is one hiding, maddeningly unwilling to be revealed. Sometimes it seems a very slender hope.

The significance of our lives and our fragile planet is then determined only by our own wisdom and courage. We are the custodians of life’s meaning. We long for a Parent to care for us, to forgive us our errors, to save us from our childish mistakes. But knowledge is preferable to ignorance. Better by far to embrace the hard truth than a reassuring fable.

If we crave some cosmic purpose, then let us find ourselves a worthy goal…

The pioneering psychologist William James called religion a “feeling of being at home in the Universe.” Our tendency has been… to pretend that the Universe is how we wish our home would be, rather than to revise our notion of what’s homey so it embraces the Universe. If, in considering James’ definition, we mean the real Universe, then we have no true religion yet.
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Whistleblower Who Cost Chase $9 Billion to Shut Up… Talks…

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From Matt Taibbi
Rolling Stone

Meet the woman JPMorgan Chase paid one of the largest fines in American history to keep from talking…

She tried to stay quiet, she really did. But after eight years of keeping a heavy secret, the day came when Alayne Fleischmann couldn’t take it anymore.

“It was like watching an old lady get mugged on the street,” she says. “I thought, ‘I can’t sit by any longer.'”

Fleischmann is a tall, thin, quick-witted securities lawyer in her late thirties, with long blond hair, pale-blue eyes and an infectious sense of humor that has survived some very tough times. She’s had to struggle to find work despite some striking skills and qualifications, a common symptom of a not-so-common condition called being a whistle-blower.

Fleischmann is the central witness in one of the biggest cases of white-collar crime in American history, possessing secrets that JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon late last year paid $9 billion (not $13 billion as regularly reported – more on that later) to keep the public from hearing.

Views of Muslims Worldwide…

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[This is what Sam Harris and Bill Maher have been talking about… -DS]

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I’m Terrified of My New TV: Why I’m Scared to Turn This Thing on — and You’d Be, Too…

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From Brennan Center For Justice

I just bought a new TV. The old one had a good run, but after the volume got stuck on 63, I decided it was time to replace it. I am now the owner of a new “smart” TV, which promises to deliver streaming multimedia content, games, apps, social media, and Internet browsing. Oh, and TV too.

The only problem is that I’m now afraid to use it. You would be too — if you read through the 46-page privacy policy.

The amount of data this thing collects is staggering. It logs where, when, how, and for how long you use the TV. It sets tracking cookies and beacons designed to detect “when you have viewed particular content or a particular email message.” It records “the apps you use, the websites you visit, and how you interact with content.” It ignores “do-not-track” requests as a considered matter of policy.

It also has a built-in camera — with facial recognition. The purpose is to provide “gesture control” for the TV and enable you to log in to a personalized account using your face. On the upside, the images are saved on the TV instead of uploaded to a corporate server. On the downside, the Internet connection makes the whole TV vulnerable to hackers who have demonstrated the ability to take complete control of the machine.

How They Avoid Taxes…

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From Bloomberg
Thanks to Todd

Shifting the address of his Liberty Global Inc. from Colorado to London last year didn’t just put billionaire John C. Malone in a position to reduce his company’s tax bill.

He also took precautions to avoid the capital-gains hit that the so-called inversion would trigger for him and other investors. The day before the deal was announced, Malone — the company’s chairman and controlling shareholder — transferred $600 million of his shares into a tax-exempt charitable trust. He avoided paying taxes on his remaining stake, worth about $260 million, by exploiting IRS regulations meant to block a different loophole.

All told, Malone escaped about $200 million in personal taxes, and Liberty Global’s U.S. shareholders together likely saved more than a billion dollars, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

More on Gluten…

vFrom The New Yorker

Against the Grain

Should you go gluten-free?

[This is a better researched article than the previous one… ds]

Just after Labor Day, the Gluten and Allergen Free Expo stopped for a weekend at the Meadowlands Exposition Center. Each year, the event wends its way across the country like a travelling medicine show, billing itself as the largest display of gluten-free products in the United States. Banners hung from the rafters, with welcoming messages like “Plantain Flour Is the New Kale.” Plantain flour contains no gluten, and neither did anything else at the exposition (including kale). There were gluten-free chips, gluten-free dips, gluten-free soups, and gluten-free stews; there were gluten-free breads, croutons, pretzels, and beer. There was gluten-free artisanal fusilli and penne from Italy, and gluten-free artisanal fusilli and penne from the United States. Dozens of companies had set up tables, offering samples of gluten-free cheese sticks, fish sticks, bread sticks, and soy sticks. One man passed out packets of bread crumbs, made by “master bakers,” that were certified as gluten-free, G.M.O.-free, and kosher. There was even gluten-free dog food.

Gluten, one of the most heavily consumed proteins on earth, is created when two molecules, glutenin and gliadin, come into contact and form a bond. When bakers knead dough, that bond creates an elastic membrane, which is what gives bread its chewy texture and permits pizza chefs to toss and twirl the dough into the air. Gluten also traps carbon dioxide, which, as it ferments, adds volume to the loaf. Humans have been eating wheat, and the gluten in it, for at least ten thousand years. For people with celiac disease—about one per cent of the population—the briefest exposure to gluten can trigger an immune reaction powerful enough to severely damage the brushlike surfaces of the small intestine. People with celiac have to be alert around food at all times, learning to spot hidden hazards in common products, such as hydrolyzed vegetable protein and malt vinegar. Eating in restaurants requires particular vigilance. Even reusing water in which wheat pasta has been cooked can be dangerous.

Dark Age America: Involuntary Simplicity…

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From John Michael Greer

The political transformations that have occupied the last four posts in this sequence can also be traced in detail in the economic sphere. A strong case could be made, in fact, that the economic dimension is the more important of the two, and the political struggles that pit the elites of a faliing civilization against the proto-warlords of the nascent dark age reflect deeper shifts in the economic sphere. Whether or not that’s the case—and in some sense, it’s simply a difference in emphasis—the economics of decline and fall need to be understood in order to make sense of the trajectory ahead of us.

One of the more useful ways of understanding that trajectory was traced out some years ago by Joseph Tainter in his book The Collapse of Complex Societies. While I’ve taken issue with some of the details of Tainter’s analysis in my own work, the general model of collapse he offers was also a core inspiration for the theory of catabolic collapse that provides the  basic structure for this series of posts, so I don’t think it’s out of place to summarize his theory briefly here. 

Madison Bumgarner, World Series Legend…

World Series - San Francisco Giants v Kansas City Royals - Game Seven
From McCovey Chronicles

Everyone was agog with Bumgarner’s World Series performances before Game 7. Then he released the double album, and the critics went wild.

I did not believe in Madison Bumgarner. I believed in him before the season. During the season. At the start of the postseason and all the way through the World Series. But when the question arose about him starting Game 7 on two day’s rest, it wasn’t even something I was willing to contemplate. We’ve seen what pitching on three day’s rest will do to a pitcher like Clayton Kershaw. What would two day’s rest do to a pitcher who was 270 innings deep into the season?

The problem, see, was assuming Bumgarner was mortal.

There’s too much to cover for a single recap. I keep stopping to hug my computer. Instead, let’s do a 25- to 30-part recap of all the players on the roster, celebrating exactly how they helped this bunch of bozos win the World Series.

Starting with Madison K. Bumgarner.

Gluten Free? WTF? It’s not the wheat, it’s the processing!

True Grain follows a mantra spelled out by poet Robert Browning. - Andrew Leong

From Cowichan News

Bruce Stewart isn’t exactly on a mission, but he does want to clear up a bit of the sticky confusion regarding gluten.

The 42-year-old married dad of two daughters — Monica, 4, and two-year-old Fiona — owns Cowichan Bay’s True Grain Bread with his wife, Leslie. He believes there is too much propaganda about gluten.

“I love gluten; it’s one of the most wonderful substances going — it’s amazing to me how misinformed people are about gluten and what it is,” he said.

In the 1950s, the incidences of celiac disease — an autoimmune disorder of the small intestine caused by a reaction to wheat proteins — was less than one in 100, said Stewart.

“In 2014, the incidences of celiac disease is less than one per cent — it hasn’t changed.”

In our modern world, many people with digestive, or gut, or fatigue issues believe they might be allergic to gluten.

“In most cases, they’re not allergic to gluten, and that’s a big part of what our customer base is because people can eat our breads,” Stewart said.

The Police Are Still Out of Control… I should know…

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From Frank Serpico
Politico

In the opening scene of the 1973 movie “Serpico,” I am shot in the face—or to be more accurate, the character of Frank Serpico, played by Al Pacino, is shot in the face. Even today it’s very difficult for me to watch those scenes, which depict in a very realistic and terrifying way what actually happened to me on Feb. 3, 1971. I had recently been transferred to the Narcotics division of the New York City Police Department, and we were moving in on a drug dealer on the fourth floor of a walk-up tenement in a Hispanic section of Brooklyn. The police officer backing me up instructed me (since I spoke Spanish) to just get the apartment door open “and leave the rest to us.”

One officer was standing to my left on the landing no more than eight feet away, with his gun drawn; the other officer was to my right rear on the stairwell, also with his gun drawn. When the door opened, I pushed my way in and snapped the chain. The suspect slammed the door closed on me, wedging in my head and right shoulder and arm. I couldn’t move, but I aimed my snub-nose Smith & Wesson revolver at the perp (the movie version unfortunately goes a little Hollywood here, and has Pacino struggling and failing to raise a much-larger 9-millimeter automatic). From behind me no help came. At that moment my anger got the better of me. I made the almost fatal mistake of taking my eye off the perp and screaming to the officer on my left: “What the hell you waiting for? Give me a hand!” I turned back to face a gun blast in my face. I had cocked my weapon and fired back at him almost in the same instant, probably as reflex action, striking him. (He was later captured.)

When I regained consciousness, I was on my back in a pool of blood trying to assess the damage from the gunshot wound in my cheek. Was this a case of small entry, big exit, as often happens with bullets? Was the back of my head missing? I heard a voice saying, “Don’ worry, you be all right, you be all right,” and when I opened my eyes I saw an old Hispanic man looking down at me like Carlos Castaneda’s Don Juan. My “backup” was nowhere in sight. They hadn’t even called for assistance—I never heard the famed “Code 1013,” meaning “Officer Down.” They didn’t call an ambulance either, I later learned; the old man did. One patrol car responded to investigate, and realizing I was a narcotics officer rushed me to a nearby hospital (one of the officers who drove me that night said, “If I knew it was him, I would have left him there to bleed to death,” I learned later).

Mark Twain on Religion and Our Human Egotism…

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From Brain Pickings

“The human race … sits up nine nights in the week to admire its own originality.”

A large part of what made Mark Twain the greatest American satirist was his capacity for cultural nitpicking, from his irreverent advice to little girls to his critique of the press to his snarky commentary on the outrageous requests he received. But one subject to which Twain applied his exquisite satire with absolute seriousness was religion. In Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 2: The Complete and Authoritative Edition (public library) — the highly anticipated sequel to the excellent first installment — Twain’s grievances with “God” come fully ablaze.

In April of 1906, Twain — who famously believed that any claim of originality was merely misguided narcissism — offers this humorous lament on religion as a manifestation of human egotism:

This City Came Up With a Simple Solution to Homelessness: Housing…

 From The Nation

Kilee Lowe was sitting in a park when cops picked her up and booked her into jail overnight.

After she got out the next morning, she returned to the park. The same officer who had thrown her into a cell not 24 hours before booked her again. It was back to jail for Kilee.

Kilee has been cycling in and out of the criminal justice system for years. After three and a half years in prison, she’s been homeless for a little over a year now.

“Just because I don’t have a credit card in my pocket,” she says, “does not make me a criminal.”

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