Poem: Descent

November 19, 2018

 

The rustic lane unwinds

its way from the mountain

like a lover leaving her man

after a lingering entwining kiss;

 

a solitary clump of bluebells

reflects aquamarine raindrops

on the hood of the passing car

like mirrors round as hazelnuts in the mist;

 

and as I ignore the windowed beauty

the weekend ending burns into my soul

leaving me wondering if, once I’m gone,

she’ll remember me with a cheer or a hiss.

 

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Remembering Joe Hill

November 19, 2018

Today is the 103rd anniversary of the murder by the state of the great Wobbly songwriter and martyr Joe Hill.

A minute’s silence, and then back to the important work that still remains unfinished.


Reason #234 NOT to use Facebook

November 18, 2018

This article from the New York Times is long and important.  It looks at the management practices espoused by Zuckerberg and Sandberg, and the serious issues that arisen.

” … as evidence accumulated that Facebook’s power could also be exploited to disrupt elections, broadcast viral propaganda and inspire deadly campaigns of hate around the globe, Mr. Zuckerberg and Ms. Sandberg stumbled. Bent on growth, the pair ignored warning signs and then sought to conceal them from public view. At critical moments over the last three years, they were distracted by personal projects, and passed off security and policy decisions to subordinates, according to current and former executives …

While Mr. Zuckerberg has conducted a public apology tour in the last year, Ms. Sandberg has overseen an aggressive lobbying campaign to combat Facebook’s critics, shift public anger toward rival companies and ward off damaging regulation.

Facebook’s internal investigation on the extent of Russia interference in the 2016 elections was thorough and devastating, and Zuckerberg and Sandberg decided to hide as much of it as possible, But pressure from Congress was too much:

After stalling for weeks, Facebook eventually agreed to hand over the Russian posts to Congress. Twice in October 2017, Facebook was forced to revise its public statements, finally acknowledging that close to 126 million people had seen the Russian posts …

In March, The Times, The Observer of London and The Guardian prepared to publish a joint investigation into how Facebook user data had been appropriated by Cambridge Analytica to profile American voters. A few days before publication, The Times presented Facebook with evidence that copies of improperly acquired Facebook data still existed, despite earlier promises by Cambridge executives and others to delete it. Mr. Zuckerberg and Ms. Sandberg met with their lieutenants to determine a response. They decided to pre-empt the stories, saying in a statement published late on a Friday night that Facebook had suspended Cambridge Analytica from its platform. The executives figured that getting ahead of the news would soften its blow, according to people in the discussions. They were wrong.

For anyone interested in how these huge corporations manage the politics of their business, this is a detailed study.

 

Previous Reasons NOT to Use Facebook.


Night Music: Bess You Is My Woman Now

November 18, 2018


Jonestown: 40 Years On

November 18, 2018

Forty years ago today, in the jungles of Guyana, an extraordinary event took place: the mass suicide (along with some murders) of more than 900 followers of the Reverend James Jones. Almost all the victims were Americans, voluntarily drawn somehow into Jones’ mix of mysticism and socialism, drawn somehow to follow him, mostly willingly, even over the cliff of death into “revolutionary suicide.”

More than half the Jonestown population were women, many with infant children whom they obediently fed kool-aid and cyanide on that last day, forty years ago today.

Cyanide takes a few minutes to kill and it is not a pleasant way to go. But if you are ever tempted to romanticize these deaths, perhaps it is best to remember the radical brainwashing needed to bring hundreds of mothers to the extremes of mass murder and suicide.

Jones joined the “revolutionary suicide” with a bullet to the brain, his ideas forgotten, his death glorified as a gratuitous cult. Guns and knives did for several more about whim no-one speaks.  Not many survived, not many at all.  The people fade into the background, but the event remains.

 


Images: Bannisters

November 17, 2018


A Whole New Kingdom Of Life

November 16, 2018

When we try to classify the myriad forms of life on earth, the most fundamental breakdowns are at the Kingdom level:  we have the Kingdoms of Animals, of Plants, of Bacteria, of Fungi. All life as we knew it fit into one of the Kingdoms and could be classified and linked as such.

Except, that is, for the few hemimastigotes that were then known.

In a lucky find, as reported by CBC, Canadian researchers identified two more species of these rare creatures. More importantly, perhaps, they captured the genomic information.  From that analysis, they are happy to announce that hemimastigotes are so different from all other life that they form a brand new fifth Kingdom all of their own..

It is so rare an event that the Tree of Life is reorganized so radically, that we need at least to report it.