April 6th, 2009

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Ruins

Here is a haunting, beautiful account of wandering through the ruins of a farmstead. Our lives are leaves spinning in the stream of history, the ripples we leave behind soon smoothed away.
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This Week on Hypatia's Hoard of Reviews

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Most Popular Topics

According to the "Manage Tags" feature, the topics most often appearing in this journal are:

Writing -- 435 posts
Networking -- 340
Politics -- 302
Science fiction -- 288
Poetry -- 283
News -- 245
Reading -- 240
Economics -- 218
Cyberfunded creativity -- 209
Fantasy -- 188

Eeconomics has climbed over cyberfunded creativity, but other than that, the topics haven't changed.
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Down the Rathole Again

The government is again proposing to throw huge bundles of cash down the rathole to banks. I am disgusted.

A Trillion Dollars for the Banks: How About a Second Opinion?
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner wants to have the government lend up to a trillion dollars to hedge funds, private equity, funds and the banks themselves to clear their books of toxic assets. The plan implies a substantial subsidy to the banks. It is likely to result in the disposal of these assets at far above market value, with the government picking up the losses.

    As much as we all want to help out the Wall Street bankers in their hour of need, taxpayers may reasonably ask whether this is the best use of our money.


Off the top of my head, I'd rather see that money spent on providing affordable health care to people who don't have any right now, or education, or green energy, homeowner rescue, or direct job creation. Supposing a modestly decent salary of $25,000 that amount would create 40 million jobs. We could pick 40 pretty big projects that need work and put a million people on each of them. Aim for areas that don't require much if any extra materials, where it's a shortage of money to hire people for things already in progress, and that will reduce overhead. But you could take out a fifth of that money for processing and materials, and still leave the salaries at a decent $20,000/year. That would benefit a lot of people directly, and get a lot of things done, and it would be better than pissing away another trillion dollars on rich imbeciles who apparently can't count without taking off their thousand-dollar shoes.
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The Tightly Curly Hair Site

I'm almost never interested in "beauty" sites, but haikujaguar highlighted this one which is all about Tightly Curly Hair. My hair looks a lot like the author's hair -- just lighter, with somewhat wider spirals. But long squiggly spirals like that, yes. Last time we checked, it was past the bottom of my butt when wet. Dry it's shorter. I usually keep it braided because otherwise it grabs things all day. But it's nice to let loose the showy curls for special occasions.
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Vote for the 2009 Gaylactic Spectrum Awards

I got this notice today regarding the Gaylactic Spectrum Awards:

Just a final call out for nominations for the 2009 Gaylactic Spectrum Awards. Any work originally published/released in calendar year 2008 in North America is eligible for consideration. The Gaylactic Spectrum Awards recognize outstanding works in speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy, horror, etc) with significant positive gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender content. We recognize novels, works of short fiction, and works in other categories - with a cash prize presented to winners in the Best Novel and Best Short Fiction categories. There is no cost to nominate and we encourage fans, authors, editors and publishers to nominate any relevant works, including their own.

Our annual list of winners and short list honorees includes authors well known and new, publishers big and small, and works from across the speculative spectrum.

Nominations are open until April 15, 2009, and our judges wll begin reading and discussing all nominated works beginning shortly thereafter. Awards will be announced in October at Gaylaxicon 2009 in Minneapolis.

To nominate: http://www.spectrumawards.org/nomform.htm
For more info: http://www.spectrumawards.org/

We hope to see your nominations!

- Rob Gates
Gaylactic Spectrum Awards
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Ponzi Earth

Today I found two excellent articles which sum up what we are doing to the Earth:

We're Running Our World Like a Ponzi Scheme!
Our world-wide Ponzi scheme got its start with the industrial revolution in Western Europe, and it was colonialism that provided ever increasing sources for the raw materials and markets that kept this giant Ponzi scheme rolling. It spread to America with the colonial takeover of vast untapped resources and huge tracts of lands previously occupied by Native American hunter-gatherers. As America industrialized, its population grew and its resources were drawn down, the giant Ponzi scheme continued to grow through globalization and it continued to feed its ever growing appetite by drawing down the natural resources in the world's oceans, forests, and more remote areas, and by expanding it markets into the farthest reaches of the globe. We are witness to a five hundred year run on this giant ever-expanding global Ponzi scheme, and unless we change the way we are playing this game, that run is now drawing dangerously close to a natural and catastrophic conclusion.


This demonstrates why the "infinite, unrestricted growth" scenario of pure capitalism is doomed to failure. We should work on creating a more sustainable system while we still have the time and resources to do that. Ponzis are ugly when they implode.

Antarctic Ice Shelf In Peril as Bridge Snaps
The Wilkins Ice Shelf in Antarctica is in the final stages of collapse and scientists are concerned the event shows climate change is happening faster than previously thought.    An ice bridge, up to 40 kilometres long but at its narrowest just 500 metres wide, was thought to be holding the giant shelf to the Antarctic continent, but it recently snapped.    From above, parts of the Wilkins Ice Shelf now look like giant panes of shattered glass.


The reason for extreme concern when major ice masses break is the surface-to-mass ratio. That means a smaller mass of ice melts much faster than a larger mass, because more is exposed to air and water warmer than the ice itself. See for yourself: take two ice cubes, hit one with a hammer, then drop each into a glass of water. Observe how much faster the broken one melts. This is what we are doing to our ice caps: hitting them with a big hot hammer. We really need to stop doing that before we all melt.
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Go Watch the Watchers

I've noticed that I get good blog traffic on Gaiatribe when I post about specific bills, because that's something people search for. So I went looking for sites or services that would alert me to bills in my interest areas. I think Govtrack will do what I want. It lets you pick which topics, politicians, committees, regions, etc. you want to track. That creates a tracking page that updates itself when there is new activity in your interests. You can also sign up for daily or weekly email alerts.

This is a nonpartisan site, useful to all American citizens. Those bozos in Washington are supposed to work for you. Go look over their shoulders and remind them of that.