Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Yoga Science

Minding the Body

Bikram yoga pose on the beach
 ~ I've been practicing Bikram yoga for 15 months or so.

I love it.

Much of it is about breathing and the power of self-discipline through that steadiness.

Yoga also produces some remarkable medical results:

Monday, January 30, 2012

Follow the Money

Supreme Koch

 ~ This is illustrative in more ways than one:

So why did the police shut this down anyway? Was there a threat to public safety? To someone's health or well being? Were small children or animals in danger? Was someone's peace being disturbed?

The peace should be disturbed until this core message is widely heard and understood: money is not speech, and corporations are not people.

OWS has done this too. Sadly, we can expect more of this, as art and organic protest are inexorably co-opted for marketing.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Choices: Economy or Environment?

Why Not Choose Both?

Cartoon: choosing the green of the environment or the green of money
 ~ In the abstract everyone is in favor of protecting the environment. The particulars are another story. Opposition stems from the belief that environmental protection can come only at unacceptable economic cost. Must we choose between the environment or the economy?
Opposition to environmental legislation was, and is, clearly misguided. Exposure to lead at an early age is now known to cause neurological problems, even at extremely low doses. Since 1984, airborne lead concentrations have fallen 98 percent because of environmental activism. We have seen declines in airborne sulfur dioxide of 35 percent and carbon monoxide of 32 percent even as our GDP has more than doubled. Yet let us never forget that efforts to clean the air were vehemently opposed when first introduced. Remember the hue and cry of those who foresaw economic calamity when the lead phase-out was legislated. Industry gravely predicted that tens of thousands of gas stations would go out of business. Let us always remember the hysterical cries of economic doom as we tightened pollutions standards with the Clean Air Act in 1970. Every major automobile manufacturer came to Washington with tales of impending bankruptcy should the proposed act become law. None of the predictions of economic failure came to pass.

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Nuclear Age

Time Lapse Graphic of All Detonations 1945-1998

 ~ This captures the reality of 50+ years of nuclear weapons development, and its spread to a growing number of countries.

It is a shame that it ends in 1998 rather than going through the present day, but the graphic is dependent on the data source (described at the end of the video.) It does include the tests by both India and Pakistan, as well as the "traditional" nuclear powers, the US, Russia, the UK, France, and China (not coincidentally the 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council.) The data also does not include any indication that Israel has a nuclear capability, although that is widely considered certain.

Skip forward to about 12:10 to see a two minute summary by country.

Some interesting data (from 1998) on the US nuclear weapons program:

  • Through 1990 the US built more than 70,000 warheads of 65 different kinds
  • Land area used for nuclear weapons and facilities is larger than that of DC, Massachusetts and New Jersey combined
  • There are more than 75 secret Presidential Emergency Centers for use during and after a nuclear war
  • There is 104 million cubic meters of high level nuclear waste
  • 11 nuclear weapons have been lost in accidents and never recovered

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Top 1% Club

Grab A Snout

Dilbert comic | The Top 1% Club

 ~ Are you deserving of membership if you get a key to the club from a tiny flying unicorn? From your parents? From members of Congress who have been bought off by 24/7 lobbyist largesse and unlimited corporate cash?

Among the most pernicious myths that sustain America's systemic inequality is the canard that everyone at the top deserves to be there. Sure, some worked hard for their success. Did all of them? The fiction of a dichotomous nation of virtuous Randian supermen and whining parasites is ... a fiction. There are numerous examples of titanic screw-ups being showered with obscene riches.

The only puzzling part is: how do the rest of us get the tiny flying unicorn to bring each of us the key to that club?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Where's It Wednesday—LXVII

Where in Seattle is this?

Somewhere in Seattle... but where?

Answer next week.

Details on the weekly Where's It Wednesday puzzle here.
Other weeks' puzzles here.
Answer to the puzzle of two weeks ago, after the jump.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Situation Improving, but Still Ugly

 ~ The unemployment picture is improving, as the so-called "bikini graph" has been showing for some time:

BLS monthly employment statistics | bikini graph

Monday, January 23, 2012

Amendment 28

The Natural Persons Amendment

 ~ An idea whose time is now: "End corporate rule; legalize democracy". Amend the Constitution to reassert the primacy of the people.

The words corporation and corporate nowhere appear in the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution, or in any of its amendments. So why does our activist Supreme Court make up rights for them (Citizens United) that allows the utter corruption of our democracy by unlimited contributions to supposedly independent corporate bagmen? Mitt Romney even thinks corporations are people. Corporations aren't people, even if you can execute one.

Corporate life forms and Frankenstein

Oh, and if corporations are people, shouldn't they be paying much higher taxes? Shouldn't corporations go to jail if they break the law? It seems they get all the rights and privileges, but none of the responsibilities.

It is time to restore government of, by, and for the people. Corporations should not have the same standing.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

More Baby Pictures

Granddaughter Isabella

 ~ I bow to the demands of my readers. Additional pictures of my newest granddaughter are much more in demand than my rants on political philosophy.

Well, she is much more attractive; that's for sure:

Isabella and her overjoyed Mom

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Civil Rights

Democratic Values

Tattered US flag
This and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs; when he first appears he is a protector.
A tyranny grows under a veneer of benevolence and the guise of protection. Security is being secured all right, but whose, and against what or whom?

Monday we honored Martin Luther King Jr., our country's pre-eminent civil rights leader. I was somewhat preoccupied that day, but later, during the Internet blackout, I thought about his legacy and importance to the underlying values of our country. King fought to enfranchise people of color, and by extension elevated and strengthened the civil rights of us all.

While we recall his vision, courage and ultimate sacrifice, we should ask also what has become of his legacy today?

What is the state of civil rights in America?

The short answer: in steep decline, facing existential threat, with almost no one in positions of power defending them.

Friday, January 20, 2012


Children and Startups

Isabella Lynn Higgins
Isabella with her parents
 ~ Starting companies is like having kids. Especially when it comes to learning by doing.

Before my first child was born quite a few people told me how becoming a parent was going to change my life utterly. True of course, as any parent well knows. But the intensity of gestation, birth and raising is so far beyond what any can fully convey to the nascent parent,and is so far beyond their initial comprehension as well. Until you live it. You can only live it.

Nothing prepares one for the first startup either. No degrees, certificates or courses of study anticipates everything about parenting. Nothing does so for the founding of companies either.

It is with pride we watch our children grow and learn, even as we learn our role along the way. Building a company is a similar path of learning, even as we pour our knowledge and passion into growing it to independence.

Continuous creation. Joy in the journey.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


Freedom Means a Free Internet

 ~ How can we trust our government and its leaders if they don't trust us?

Cartoon: 2 sides of Internet freedom

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Darkening Protest Against SOPA

Solar eclipse
 ~ I agree with the protests against SOPA and PIPA. These proposed laws that would, under the guise of combating privacy, forever change the Internet, and with it, the nature and freedom of speech, dissent, and the power of the people to serve as guardians of democracy.

Since I'm on Blogger I can't readily go dark myself, but will have no post tomorrow.

Monday, January 16, 2012

New Granddaughter

Isabella Lynn Higgins

Isabella Lynn Higgins, age 30 minutes
 ~ Born tonight at 8:45, 8 pounds, 4 ounces and 21 inches long!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Phytelligence Web Site

Alive and Growing!

Phytelligence plantlets growing
in optimized environment
 ~ Phytelligence is a startup that comes out of innovative hothouse Washington State University (WSU). We've been presenting the company to various groups and receiving a lot of interest.

It uses tissue culture techniques to make plantlets (small plants that orchard owners and vineyards plant). These plantlets can shorten by years the time until a grower has fruit to sell, and can at last start to recover the investment of buying and growing fruit trees. They're also vigorous, high quality, and genetically uniform, and we guarantee good results.

Phytelligence has also developed the know-how to propagate highly desirable and difficult materials such as the highly disease and virus-resistant G41 and G935 apple rootstocks.

Industry-leading genetic analysis services and contract growing and genetic work is also available.

Know anyone who needs help with their growing success? Contact us.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Friday, January 13, 2012


Does Productivity Lead to Prosperity?

 ~ Not for everyone:

Productivity has risen steadily since 1947;
Prosperity, however, was diverted starting in 1980

Everyone works harder, and smarter, and productivity continues to increase. And who has been benefiting from the last 30 years of rising productivity? Answers here.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Boo Hoo! My Bonus is Too Small!

Cry Me A River

Crying baby
 ~ Some on Wall Street are upset that their bonuses may be smaller this year.
Though bonuses may be down overall, total compensation, which includes salaries, benefits and bonuses, is on track to exceed 2010 levels at seven big banks, according to an analysis of compensation data from the first three quarters of 2011 by the Public Accountability Initiative. The December report found that compensation will likely hit a record $156 billion -- a 3.7 percent boost from 2010.
It's actually a pretty good problem to have, considering most aren't getting bonuses at all, and many wish they simply had a job. Perhaps they can eat cake?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Where's It Wednesday—LXVI

Where in Seattle is this?

Somewhere in Seattle... but where?

Answer next week.

Details on the weekly Where's It Wednesday puzzle here.
Other weeks' puzzles here.
Answer to last week's puzzle, after the jump.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


A Sense of Belonging

Washington native
 ~ Tomorrow I will have lived in the Seattle area for 30 years.

I moved here to take a job at a then small and mostly unknown software startup that later moved to Redmond. I thought I'd live here a year or two, and then go back to school. But I never left.

I passed the "most of my life" threshold years back.

My children were all born and raised here.

Back in the early 80's many people had bumper stickers on their cars with an image of Washington state and the single word "Native". For some, there was evidently a sense that too many people (like me) were moving here from somewhere else and somehow ruining the lifestyle for the natives.

I haven't seen one of those bumper stickers in at least 10 years, maybe 20.

Did the natives all leave? No. They may be few, but they're still here.

So what changed?

Are we more accepting? Or did we just give up?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Appropriate Technology

The Past and the Future Merge

Old-fashioned windmill in Eastern Washington field
 ~ On SR-26 coming back from Pullman I saw this old windmill, spinning still.

No one's had to refuel it since it was built.

There are modern versions with higher efficiency, sure, but this old windmill has done useful work, at local scale, probably for decades.

It's simple, cost-effective, reliable, low-maintenance, locally scaled and sustainable.

The past and the future are starting to look rather similar.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Austerity Redux

The Silent Generation

Cartoon: Tea Party Poopers
 ~ The cartoon is labeled The Tea Party, but it might just as easily be those who call themselves conservatives hacking the boat to bits in protest.

There is a difference between a surgeon's scalpel and a sociopathic slasher. One excises that which threatens health, the other acts in bloodlust wielding the implement in hand without regard to the screams of the victim.

It has become all-too-fashionable to "debate" the merits of Keynesian economic policy and to question the role of government as spender of last resort in priming the economic pump. I remain astonished at the cavalier facility and brazen disregard of history with which ideological partisans, abetted by a stenographic media, employ the tactics of the Big Lie on economic policy. The lessons of the last gilded age, the Great Depression, FDR, and how the fragile recovery then was completely halted by a harsh set of austerity measures are completely dismissed as if they had never occurred. We are told we must act immediately and drastically to reduce government debt, the same argument made in the mid-1930's. It will have the same sorry result.

The economy appears to be showing some small signs of renewed vigor. For once I am relieved that our Congress is so utterly dysfunctional that they probably cannot enact any economic policy at least until after the election. Perhaps there can be a modest recovery if we just leave things alone. First do no harm.

It sure looks as if history is repeating, but all we hear are the Chicago/Austria/supply-side clods who ought to have been laughed out of town by now. There are still people alive today who lived hand-to-mouth through the Great Depression. They were there. Why are their voices not now being heard?

Friday, January 6, 2012

Gasoline Pricing Factors

Their Number's Up

Shell gas station missing 'S' on sign
 ~ What you pay at the pump for gasoline is the product of six main factors, especially well-known ones like the cost of crude oil, refining, taxes, and what Big Oil spends purchasing Congressional outcomes.

Today I learned of another, much less well-known factor: shortages of numbers.

Yes, numbers. The ones that gas stations post on their marquees that tell passing drivers the price of each octane blend.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


Live Successfully

ArchSkills logo
 ~ ArchSkills is a company that provides training and materials for individuals, families, businesses, government and non-profits to increase emotional skills, productivity, and happiness. We help people learn not just the what, but also the how of living life with more satisfaction and success.

Our new web site is now live.

This week we started a year long contract to provide our unique program and methods to the Washington State Department of Corrections, giving ArchSkills training weekly to inmates in the state's two women's prisons at Mission Creek and Purdy.

Lots more to do on the web site, and several more announcements to come soon.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Where's It Wednesday—LXV

Where in Seattle is this?

Somewhere in Seattle... but where?

Answer next week.

Details on the weekly Where's It Wednesday puzzle here.
Other weeks' puzzles here.
Answer to last week's puzzle, after the jump.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Energy Lies—VII

"Oil Companies Need Subsidies for Incentive"

Former CEO John Hofmeister of Shell Oil testifies
Big Oil doesn't need subsidies at high prices
 ~ The API, lead lobbyist for Big Oil, has long claimed that subsidies and tax breaks for oil companies are absolutely necessary to provide incentive for exploration and production and to prevent industry job losses. Without them, workers would be laid-off, domestic oil production would plummet, prices would skyrocket, and our dangerous dependency on foreign sources would become dire.

Looks like they neglected to fully convince the former CEO of Shell Oil:
Large oil companies don’t need tax subsidies when oil prices are high, a former CEO of Shell Oil said Thursday.

“In the face of sustained high oil prices it was not an issue—for large companies—of needing the subsidies to entice us into looking for and producing more oil,” John Hofmeister told National Journal Daily.
Perhaps that's why he is the former CEO.

Monday, January 2, 2012


Another Cool Travelogue

 ~ I love these things; here's another, only 1 minute long, and best yet:

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Plus Ça Change

Plus C'est la Même Chose

David Horsey cartoon | New Year

 ~ On economic and energy policy, the same old foolishness is exactly what we can expect.