Image: Twilight’s Last Gleaming

December 31, 2014



Let There Be Light!

December 31, 2014

Edison-and-Light-BulbOn New Year’s Eve 1889, the world changed with the first public demonstration by Thomas Edison of a practical and affordable light bulb and, not to be forgotten, a method of delivering electric power to same.

Unlike so much stuff, the electric light profoundly changed history and culture, for both good and ill as with most important innovations.

The History Channel has a version of the story, along with a couple of interesting videos.


Night Music: Mississippi Goddam

December 30, 2014

Some damn serious music by the irrepressible Nina Simone.  She is singing about the 1950s and early 1960s, but events in Ferguson this year remind us that rotten-to-the-core racism is still here, loud and proud.

Germs ‘R’ Us — Part 2

December 30, 2014

A few weeks ago I wrote a piece about how much of “our” body was actually composed of bacteria and similar organisms.   Now, it seems, some of those brethren of ours may actually control how long we live, and how (un)comfortable our old age is. The reporting is from

Using mathematical modeling, researchers at New York and Vanderbilt universities have shown that commensal bacteria that cause problems later in life most likely played a key role in stabilizing early human populations [which]… offers an explanation as to why humans co-evolved with microbes that can cause or contribute to cancer, inflammation, and degenerative diseases of aging.

The work sprung from a fundamental question in biology about senescence, or aging past the point of reproduction. “Nature has a central problem–it must have a way to remove old individuals, whether fish or trees or people,” says Martin Blaser, microbiologist at New York University Langone Medical Center in New York City. “Resources are always limited. And young guys are ultimately competing with older ones.”  In most species, individuals die shortly after the reproductive phase. But humans are weird–we have an extra long senescence phase.

Blaser began to think about the problem from the symbiotic microbe’s point of view and he came up with a hypothesis: “The great symbionts keep us alive when we are young, then after reproductive age, they start to kill us.” They are part of the biological clock of aging.

Sheesh!  What do we get out of all this?  Do you ever get the feeling it is these microbes that are running the whole scheme, and not us?


Almost The End — Genocide In America

December 29, 2014

124 years ago today, one of the last and most egregiously violent acts in the always-violent campaign of the United States to eliminate the native North American population — a brutal genocide hidden behind the name of Manifest Destiny — took place at Wounded Knee in South Dakota. Almost 300 Lakota — 200 of them women and children — were massacred by the US 7th Cavalry. In celebration, the US Congress awarded two dozen soldiers the Medal of Honour.

Frank Baum, who would later write the Wizard of Oz, wrote with sadness the following in response to the massacre:  “Having wronged them for centuries, we had better, in order to protect our civilization, follow it up by one more wrong and wipe these untamed and untamable creatures from the face of the earth.”  Luckily, some of them survived

We should never forget that the strength of the United States was built on the genocide of its native peoples, and the slavery of another race, and when American statesmen complain about ISIS or Al-Qaeda or other so-called “terrorists”, they are mouthing an unspeakable hypocrisy.

Image: Street Art II

December 29, 2014

street art II coloured lines

Poem: Five Definitive Movements

December 29, 2014


Childhood is

a flat green blade growing from the stem of a plant,

the absorbing and digesting of

a body of myths


Adolescence is

the property of becoming self-luminous

in the recognition of

fire and hunger and strong desire


Adulthood is

the acceptance of the heat and light caused by burning;

a steady flow that rises

as the tide, and ebbs


Wisdom is

known only to those of special comprehension,

something very white,

a leaf blown across the firmament


Death is

the beginning of all things, the nape

that links the body of one life to

the head of the next