Saturday, March 31, 2007

Apropos of metoosters

It is thrilling to read of the celebrated Bonnet (1) of Geneva (who discovered parthenogenesis in animals) watching a plant louse from four o’clock in the morning until seven in the evening, or of the superhuman labours of Swammerdam, who ransacked earth, air, and water for insects, and who often spent whole days in cleaning the fat from a single caterpillar in order to be better able to study its anatomy. ~ Barbellionblog.


Aphids have been known to have what is called telescoping generations. With telescoping generations the female aphid will have a daughter within her who is already parthenogenetically producing its own daughter at the same time. This leads to the bizarre situation where the diet of a female aphid can have inter-generational effects on the body size and birth rate of aphids. In other words, what the aphid eats can directly change the size and fertility of the aphid's daughters and grand-daughters (Nevo and Coll 2001, Jahn et al. 2005).


(1) In 1760 he described a condition now called Charles Bonnet Syndrome, in which vivid, complex visual hallucinations (1a) (fictive visual percepts) occur in psychologically normal people.
(1a) One characteristic of these hallucinations is that they usually are "lilliput hallucinations" (hallucinations in which the characters or objects are smaller than in reality).

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Intention, pain and webs

Rumor next, and Chance, And Tumult, and Confusion,
all embroiled. --Milton.

In view of today's curious furor, I feel I'd be remiss if I didn't say something regarding my role in two blogs that are currently receiving intense interest.

I was invited to participate in Meankids back in Feb. by Chris Locke. I saw Jeneane and Frank were involved, both people I have come to know, admire, and like.

I trusted these people, and still do, regardless of what is being insinuated. One of my strongest memories of Frank is his compassion when I blogged about my dog having to undergo surgery for a potentially cancerous growth. He, Jeneane and Chris have soul, and souls.

Others participating I did not know at all, or knew only from their blogs.

The formative idea, if there was any, seemed to me to be an effort by genuinely imaginative people to do something other than the dreary lockstep efforts to be remarkable that characterize a good deal of bloggarhia, especially the marketing and political sectors thereof.

I recall a post about Twitter provoked the most comments and a bit of conversation. It was playful.

I didn't know who Kathy Sierra was until someone linked to her.

There is hysteria, a good deal of facile judgment-before-discovery, and a whole lot of interpretive labor being set aside in what's now being said with regard to Ms. Sierra's allegations.

It might be hard to see this now, but the people, the postings, and the concerns of Meankids and its short-lived successor were diverse, undirected by any single agenda, and more about the claims made by and for blogging per se than about any single individual.

And there were posts that I found ugly, objectionable, scurrilous. Disturbing, because they seemed utterly gratuitous. I don't know why they were deemed relevant, but that's the problem. The web is a thing that creates complex motions of reference and relevance, new momentums and disruptive energies that displace intention and authority.

Real pain -- coming from anywhere, incomprehensible -- is altogether regrettable. Today it seems to be widening into something reductive, something swarming and sticky with its own bigness, that is not interested in facts, but simply spins in the same tedious lockstep unthinking modality that was being mulled and satirized by many of the posts on these blogs. The relevance of everything is now skewed, spun, taken up to a level of abstraction and refraction that's all predicted, if one listens, in the reverb of the old latinate rumor.

The complicated conditions, the open, webbed spaces of experiments in writing are being overlooked, dispelled. Jihad seems to ride on the fashionable air.

For what it's worth, my contributions included Nietzsche, certain politicians, and Twitter among other people and things. Kathy Sierra and other bloggers were not on my radar. I continue to trust the people I trusted. But now I'm less confident that one can so lightly enter into open, creating spaces with others whom one does not know. Jeneane put it well.

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Monday, March 26, 2007

Two or three things to know about vulgarity

"I'm with Laurence Sterne on this one: solemnity of manner is a cloak for villainy. When I come across these things I feel like I'm not defending myself, I'm defending truth from a misrepresentation of its nature." kia.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Non-idle question

Suppose for a moment that the government of the US were under the command of a madman. Someone wethepeople had reason to suspect was batshit crazy - you know, like Adolf or Charles.

Do wethepeople have the right to have the ruling headpiece checked? Or is the President entitled to some sort of immunity from psychiatric testing, the way foreign diplomats are immune from parking tickets?

Are we required to continue to obey the chief executive as though he were sane, with no recourse to verifying the hypothetical, because the Constitutors didn't happen to provide for any alternative contingency?

What is the law regarding our rights vis a vis the presidential mental?

Monday, March 19, 2007

Taxonomy of adolescence

Father to daughter, 15: "Do Damon and Chris know each other?"

Daughter to father: "Damon is a junior. Chris wears tight pants. He goes to shows."

Herewith concluded Discovery in this matter.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


Wednesday, March 07, 2007

every drem to goode!

The Long Tail will always be there wagging the Big Dogs, rich strata of abandoned and automated weblogs, linkfarms and pr0n, and lonely people bellowing out across the virtual rooftops to their audiences of search bots, googlenauts and bemused relatives. The human experience, made hyperlinked. Google will index it all, and get rich on the carrion-clicks that it sells to the office cubicle fools who Aren't Us! It's a Brand® New Day!' the WC, via the Happy Tutor.
It's partly flickr -- blogs send you there on purpose to look at rooms filled with bloggers sitting at little tables with laptops -- it -- the dream that the images are about -- is entirely elsewhere, the image yields little, and you wonder if this sort of representation of conferring white people given to male pattern baldness, which has become the norm, if the ubiquity of this type of representation might be handled more succinctly.

What I really love in the chicken's yawp is how it knows in advance that its audience consists largely of machine code, whirring in the interstices of an infinite microdimension, logging itself into nonexistence under the sign of nanomarkets. This sense of things might have some precedent:

"Now hennesforth y wol the teche
How every speche, or noyse, or soun,
Thurgh hys multiplicacioun,
Thogh hyt were piped of a mous,
Mot nede come to Fames Hous.
Ne never rest is in that place
That hit nys fild ful of tydynges,
Other loude, or of whisprynges;
And over alle the houses angles
Ys ful of rounynges and of jangles
Of werres, of pes, of mariages,
Of reste, of labour, of viages,
Of abood, of deeth, of lyf,
Of love, of hate, acord, of stryf,
Of loos, of lore, and of wynnynges,
Of hele, of seknesse, of bildynges,
Of faire wyndes, and of tempestes,
Of qwalm of folk, and eke of bestes;
Of dyvers transmutacions
Of estats, and eke of regions;
Of trust, of drede, of jelousye,
Of wit, of wynnynge, of folye;
Of plente, and of gret famyne,
Of chepe, of derthe, and of ruyne;
Of good or mys governement,
Of fyr, and of dyvers accident.

Madison stands up for Net Neutrality

The local stubbornly refuses to become virtual media lard:

Just as creative initiatives on veteran rehab are happening in the coalminer country of Johnstown, PA, so Madison, WI is out in front on Net Neutrality and local regulation. Frank Paynter offers a series of good reasons, including:
carefully developed public policy regulation in the area of Net Neutrality will effectively thwart attempts by broadband behemoths to block, impair, or degrade a consumer's ability to access any lawful Internet content, application, or service; will protect the right to attach any device for use with a broadband connection; will ensure that phone and cable companies cannot favor themselves or affiliated parties to the detriment of other broadband competitors, innovators, and independent entrepreneurs; and will prohibit the broadband Internet providers from charging extra fees and warping the web in a multi-tiered network of bandwidth haves and have-nots;
Dane101, the collaborative blog of Madison (who knew Madison was in Denmark?), announces that the city will address the issue on March 20th. And there's a next step, says Jesse Russell:
If this passes on March 20, Madison needs to go one farther. We need to pass a regulation for localized protections of network neutrality and in order for a telecom to operate in the city limits, they need to respect those protocols.

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Johnstown could be doing something for vets

Mr. Bush named Bob Dole, the former Kansas senator and G.O.P. presidential candidate, and Donna Shalala, the health and human services secretary during the Clinton administration, to head a panel to investigate the problems at Walter Reed.

In view of the critical need for care, the rote calls for redundant investigations into the cause of the problems (we all know the cause) at Walter Reed will produce nothing. What Iraq vets need, as soon as possible, is good medical and psychiatric care, job training, and help getting back to the communities where they feel at home.

An actual opportunity exists in Johnstown, PA.

That's where, for the past two years, from the ground up, veterans groups, citizens and physicians have been working to address the needs of soldiers returning from Iraq. The wing of a former medical facility in Johnstown has been identified as ideal for those in need of treatment for PTSD and other purposes. It's available, and all the groundwork has already been done by people with both the appropriate skills (doctors who specialize in brain injury, for example) and the highest level of commitment.

The 33-bed wing could be up and running by this summer if it can get funding. Congressman John Murtha is said to be working on that.

If anyone in Congress or fuBushco actually wanted to do something, as opposed to "handling" this like another Abu Ghraib and Katrina, they'd get Congress to put money into the Johnstown facility. Make the center so good at what it does that its success would be replicated around the country, especially in rural areas where high-level medical attention is not always present. The vision of vets not only benefiting from the best care, but getting it and job training near their homes and families, ought to get anyone in D.C. off their arse -- besides the obvious merit of the mission, this is pure political gold.

It's there -- all it needs is funding. Probably cost less than what a few of the investigations will run. Skeptical? Ask about the former Crichton Center wing of the HGA Rehabilitation Center in Johnstown, PA. Talk to people linked to the Pennsylvania Disabled Veteran Rehabilitation/ Vocational Retraining Project.


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Monday, March 05, 2007

Antigen needed: slime residue on the slugtrail of Al Neffgen

Al Neffgen

March 3, 2007 - The Bush Administration's drive for privatization may be responsible for the "deplorable" outpatient care for soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, according to a top Democratic Congressman investigating the scandal, which has already led to the resignation of the Secretary of the US Army.

A five-year, $120 million contract awarded to a firm run by a former executive from Halliburton – a multi-national corporation where Vice President Dick Cheney once served as CEO – will be probed at a Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs hearing scheduled for Monday....

"We have learned that in January 2006, Walter Reed awarded a five-year $120 million contract to a company called IAP Worldwide Services for base operations support services, including facilities management," Waxman continues. "IAP is one of the companies that experienced problems delivering ice during the response to Hurricane Katrina."

Waxman notes that IAP "is led by Al Neffgen, a former senior Halliburton official who testified before our Committee in July 2004 in defense of Halliburton's exorbitant charges for fuel delivery and troop support in Iraq."

March 2, 2007 A message left at the home number belonging to Al Neffgen was not immediately returned.

2006 "We have learned that in January 2006 WALTER REED awarded a FIVE-YEAR, $120 MILLION contract to a company called IAP WORLDWIDE SERVICES...IAP IS BEST KNOWN FOR THE PROBLEMS IT ENCOUNTERED DELIVERING ICE during the response to Hurricane Katrina. The COMPANY IS LED BY AL NEFFGEN, a FORMER HALLIBURTON OFFICIAL..." [Update: see video here]

2005 - IAP Worldwide Services, which recruited Al Neffgen, has lucrative contracts for Katrina clean-up under a "small business clause." It has "about 5,000 employees working in more than 25 countries."

2003 Looks like the former president and chief executive of J.A. Jones Inc. has landed on his feet with a new job at massive international company Halliburton.

Al Neffgen has been appointed chief operating officer for government operations for the Americas at Kellogg Brown & Root, Halliburton's engineering and construction group. In his new role, Neffgen will oversee all work performed by KBR for the U.S. government.

He's familiar with the inner workings of government-based contracting, a longstanding Jones specialty.

Halliburton recently purchased Neffgen's home at The Peninsula.

The company is one of the world's largest providers of products and services to the oil and gas industries and was previously headed by Vice President Dick Cheney.

Neffgen was at the helm of Charlotte-based Jones from 2000 until last year, when it became clear the general contracting giant would not be able to avoid bankruptcy.

2003 As of 2003, it was Al Neffgen who was responding - or delaying responding to government demands for information related to KBR accounting problems. In this case, "refusing to turn over internal documents that show the company was aware of accounting problems related to an Iraqi fuel contract that allegedly has overcharged U.S. taxpayers so far nearly $100 million". At that time, Al Neffgen was KBR's chief operations

2001 While J.A. Jones International's current focus is clearly with the Department of State, it also serves all branches of the Department of Defense, USAID, as well as commercial clients, by providing construction and design-build services for a variety of facilities.
[including] Naval Housing in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Date uncertain: "I had a great experience and enjoyed more laughter than I had for many years. The hunting was terrific, your hospitality most gracious and the food was excellent. All in all, a wonderful experience." Al Neffgen, S.C.

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Friday, March 02, 2007

An idea who's time ha's 'cum