Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Michigan Oil Spill

800,000 gallons of oil, directly into the Kalamazoo River, 60 miles from Lake Michigan. The names change, but the culprits are the same - Big Oil. This mess belongs to Enbridge Inc.. Gov. Granholm is not happy with the clean-up effort so far, I'm sure the estimate of oil is not true - the pipeline carries 8 MILLION gallons of oil per day - politicians are yapping at each other, and the oil is headed for a Great Lake that is already troubled. The leak occurred between 8:30 a.m. and 10 a.m., on Monday and Enbridge didn't notify anybody until 1:30 p.m. But today the company said they are "doubling" their clean-up efforts. Had enough yet?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Great Lakes Record Heat

June average temperatures for all five Great Lakes are significantly higher than the previous decade. Detroit News writer Jim Lynch wrote "It's unclear how the higher temperatures will affect Lake Superior's fish populations in the long run..." In Lynch's article, Bill Deedler, a forecaster with the National Weather Service wouldn't "go so far" as saying the changes are a result of climate change, and "declined to say whether patterns are evidence of global warming espoused by many researchers."

The tone (and headline) of the article congratulates beachgoers on their lucky break. The Port Huron Times Herald ran a story by Jason Alexander headlined "Come On In! The Water's Fine!, Bathers revel in 'balmy' Lake Huron."

This backhanded reporting contributes to negating urgency needed to save the world's largest source of fresh water from turning into an overheated swamp. It's irresponsible. If the newspapers in Michigan aren't concerned about the effect of climate change on our environment, we must be. Get the facts about climate change. You don't know how higher temperatures will affect the Great Lakes fish population? Find out, damn it!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Boot

2012. The movie. It's not just an awful movie (what was John Cusack thinking?) it's got misogynistic dialogue. While a plastic surgeon gropes his wife in the grocery store, and she says "hands off the merchandise," the groper sighs, "women pay thousands of dollars to have me handle their boobs, and you get it for free." Wow. Be still my heart. When asked by a plastic-enhanced patient how the wife met her surgeon chest-groping husband, the wife glances at her breasts and replies that it obviously wasn't the way the patient met him. Ugh. The Boot to anyone who put those lines in, and anyone who left that crap there. We need a scooper in Hollywood.

Marty Kaplan, an otherwise thoughtful writer, in a blog post yesterday, thanks President Obama for points made in his Saturday address: "He nailed Republicans for standing in the way of extending unemployment insurance, and for retailing the canard that a few hundred dollars a week will transform jobless Americans into welfare queens."

There are more men out of work than women. Are we talking gay men here? Did President Obama really say this? I doubt even a Republican said it.

It's too damn easy to leave this language laying about. Scoop it up, Kaplan, Hollywood. I'm not sure today if The Boot is kicking, or stomping. Excuse me while I clean my shoes.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Growth Cone

Reading "The Other Brain," R. Douglas Fields, Ph.D. It's about glia, the glue that makes up 85 percent of the stuff in our brain. Like dark matter, an equal percentage of the universe, we knew it was there, but didn't know what it was for. Santiago Ramon y Cajal, an artistic child who drew well and loved photography became a medical doctor to earn a living. In 1887, Cajal saw a slide of nervous tissue stained by the Italian anatomist Golgi 14 yrs. earlier. Cajal left bacteriology and took the chair of Normal and Pathological Histology in Barcelona, intent on improving Golgi's staining method to unravel the cellular structure of the brain. As an artist, he drew accurate silhouettes of neurons. He received the Nobel Prize in Physiology in 1906 with Golgi for this work.

But what he left out of his neuron illustrations is what we now know is the 85% of the brain not neurons. He never drew what was not there. He saw glia clearly, but he did not include it in his neuroanatomical drawings. He saw the cells, drew the mystery formations copiously elsewhere, filling volume after volume with drawings, called them "spider cells" but their function was unknown. Glia's secret life is beginning to be revealed.

Pictured is a "growth cone" - what Fields calls "one of the most beautiful and dynamic cellular structures in nature." Axon seeking a path to reconnect with a lost connection (due to nerve damage), protein guiding it to avoid obstacles, refuse false turns, and stay on the true path. Glia cells include astrocytes, oligodendrocytes and microglia in the peripheral nervous system, and Schwann cells in the central nervous system.

Science that acts like magic. Great beauty is within us and around us, even if we can't see it, and if we do see, don't know its purpose, until we look closer.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Rebecca Carolyn [Conrad] Raupp went home to the energy that created her early this morning. Her sons and family will need to feel that energy from this Wednesday for all the days they will be missing her smile, her guidance, her warm and solid presence. I want to believe Beckie will be there for all of us, in our hearts, molecules and awareness. In this hard world, dimmed today by her physical absence, I believe more sincerely and calmly that she will. Hour by hour we will absorb more deeply the lessons she taught, the love she shared and maybe soon I will stop asking why she had so short a life among us. I will be grateful to her, and for her for the rest of my life. Until we meet again, dearest Beckie. Nakemiin.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Budget Director Jacob Lew

Jacob Lew is the new Budget Director, appointed by President Obama. Any guesses where Mr. Lew went to school? No? I'm beginning to wonder if there are any other prestigious universities in the United States.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Journalism: 0 Wacky Press Tricks: 2

Just when I think I can handle two contradictory ideas playing pool in my head, I discover that the multiconceptualizing refs are World Cup soccer retirees. Octavia Nasr was fired from CNN for tweeting that it was sad someone died. That someone happened to be a person rumored to have inspired some seriously bad guys, so that is definitely grounds for dismissal after twenty years. 20 years. Jingoism and freaking social networking trumps human. Nasr is a good journalist; one of the few genuine reporters at CNN. Now she's looking for a job, but the talking hairdo Wolf Blitzer still has one. And what's his name is still dead.

The author of Shadow Elite, Janine Wedel, and Linda Keenan blog on Huffington Post titled "Shadow Elite: Has the Obama Organizing Machine Staged a Party Takeover?" The post refers to Ms. Wedel as though she's an interviewee, but she's bylined on the blog. Weird. In her book, she charts a "new system of influence that's emerged in recent decades," but the description covers the way political influence has worked for centuries all over the world. OFA, claims the post, has used its volunteer base to "achieve policy goals once in office." In support of this conspiracy theory, the post cites a "much-talked-about" NYT magazine article. Two sources "confirmed" this OFA outreach spooky action at a distance mess to Janine.

I'm reminded of Captain Renault in Casablanca who is shocked - shocked - to discover gambling is going on at Rick's, as he pockets his winnings.

And, most egregious of all - the President's communication with supporters gives him 24/7 access to 'the people' without a pesky middleman - a reporter or other watchdog - to analyze the message."

Damn people, thinking their own thoughts, forming their own conclusions unaided.

And quoting Ari Melber of The Nation, "Scholars, commentators and members of Congress have raised concerns about how presidents increasingly make appeals directly to the public, rather than working directly with the representative branch of government."

Oy! There's more, but this is all I can handle. If OFA is a conspiracy, tick it spam and be done. That's how democracy by the people works. Don't bother us with promoting your book by spookifying another organization. It's no wonder there's so much bipolar disorder diagnosed with this polarizing bull proliferating.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Localmotive: Sweet Retreats Chocolate Shoppe

Having landed some loot recently, I went mall shopping, which I do once a decade. I needed the Apple Store, Crabtree & Evelyn, so amalling I did go. Too many kids in the Apple store, playing with every device available, so I then needed chocolate. Immediately. Mall chocolate is Godiva. I got chocolated, against my better judgment. That's what loot does: the more you have, the less sense you use. It's a mathematically proven correlation. I ate the Godiva chocolate. What this did is remind me that Godiva is not great chocolate: I don't know why it's waxy, but it is. It does not taste good. It doesn't melt in your mouth (although it did melt in my car.) I don't like Godiva chocolate, it's expensive for no good reason and I wish I remembered that, even if I think it's a chocolate emergency.

Truly great chocolate can be had at reasonable prices at Sweet Retreats Chocolate Shoppe. Much of the delicious chocolate is made by Proprietor, Colleen LaClair. I walked in last Wednesday to find her banging a tray of bark on the table, an act she learned through years of experience wrangling chocolate, explaining it helps the chocolate settle better. I am a frequent customer, and Colleen remembers my name, what chocolate I prefer (only dark: no jellies) and has a pretty good idea of my background. All that is lovely and welcome, but primary is the succulent chocolate she carefully places in my bag. She has the chocolatier's sense of a true fancier, and repeat customers come back for the camaraderie as well as the chocolate. Sweet Retreats chocolate is rich in flavor and possesses every welcome trait of fine, fine chocolate. Like great wine, Sweet Retreats chocolate has multilayered flavor, nuance and an aftertaste that lives in taste memory like a favorite song. The store is a place to indulge all senses, to revel in chocolate snobbery and share space with people who know and understand.

It took a half-pound of Sweet Retreats chocolate to make me forget Godiva. My palate is cleansed, my spirit eased and I am restored to relative wholeness and sensibility. Thank you Colleen and Sweet Retreats! Sweet Retreats is located at 314 Main St., Milford, MI just past the first light into town from I-96. Park in free public parking, and wander around Milford. It's a lovely town, home to the best chocolate in Michigan.

Art + History

The far left image is a photograph of a cave painting, about 2-1/2 feet tall near the entrance to the Trois-Freres cavern in France. The closer image is Henri Breuil's drawing of the 14,000 BC painting, published in the 1920s. Given bad lighting, perhaps less than exceptional drawing skills, and a human predisposition to interpret in reproducing images - eye of the beholder and all that - we have for almost 100 years believed what Henri Breuil drew and its interpretation as "The Sorcerer" - a man in mask, deer antlers, with lion paws. Maybe it is all that. Start with the inaccurate angle, bulked-up quads, detailed paws dreamt, what the heck was Henri smoking? Not seeing the mask either. I'm no anatomy expert, but isn't Henri's rendering of what may or may not be, a Viagra moment, pointing the wrong way? Creative license indeed.