Sunday 29 April 2012

Living alone: the dangers of RSI

Repetitive Strain Injury, also known as repetitive stress injury or... *grabs his arm, feels the color drain out of his face* Gee sus H. K-rist! *Stops dead in his tracks, bows his head slightly and shuts his eyes while waiting for a wave of excruciating pain to pass over his consciousness* Excuse me, but sometimes that really f**kin' hurts. *Looks at the clock in the system tray on his computer* Oooo, time for more drugs! Woo hoo! ... I would do a fist pump but I know I would end up regretting it.

Three weeks ago, I do my usual weekend marathon of walks, exercises, stretching and just about nonstop tapping away at the ol' keyboard. In my time, the term square eyes referred to those watching TV all the time but I now see that Urban Dictionary has updated the expression to include staring at computer screens. Moi? Guilty as charged. After all, my daytime gig involves working with computers. After hours, I am on the Net researching, blogging, and using Facebook, Twitter and some other social media networks. Oh yeah, I don't have a TV meaning I'm saving myself the monthly cost of cable and meaning whatever TV I do watch is over the Internet. Add that all up and you've got me glued to a laptop professionally and personally just about twenty-four by seven. Oh, should I mention that the company gave me a Blackberry so I can always be on call? The benefit, however, is that I don't have a telephone so no monthly costs for a land line either. No TV and no telephone may sound like living off the grid but believe me, I am very much plugged in. Who needs a magazine rack in the bathroom when you have a Blackberry or, for that matter, an iPhone? Just make sure you have a firm grip when you lean over to flush.

I get up Sunday morning and am feeling something in my left shoulder, a dull pain. Muscle strain? It wouldn't be the first time I have overextended myself. I do try to do something every day, some sit-ups, push-ups, a walk or jog, with the idea of trying to stay in reasonable shape. I'm not a health nut but having done this since I was 16 years old, I now feel psychologically off-balance if I don't do something on a regular basis. Besides, I admit to having a sedentary lifestyle so it is more than important to offset that with regular movement.

As the day wore on and the next day in fact, I realised I had done something to myself but not the usual type of thing where you feel your muscles protesting a workout. No, this very much felt like something I had done to myself six or seven years ago.

I was sloppy at the computer tending to slouch in my chair. When using the mouse, I would rest my forearm on the edge of the desk. Okay, I had been doing this on and off for years but obviously more off than on. At this time, I had moved and gotten myself a new office desk but one which did not have a proper keyboard tray. I had the keyboard and the mouse on top of the desk and the angle was such that I was reaching up and over to operate the mouse. Add to that hours of work slowly sinking lower in my chair and I'm guessing I was leaning my forearm more and more on the edge of the desk.

One thing led to another and I started to feel an ache in my forearm. This just got worse and worse until it was throbbing 24 hours a day along with my fingers tingling. Some research on the Net and some visits to my doctor confirmed I had a repetitive strain injury. Okay, that may have clarified things however the remedy turned out to be anything but a quick fix. If you bruise yourself, damaging muscle tissue, you can count on the body to get in there with all due haste. However, damage other things like ligaments and joints and you are now looking at the body taking longer to deal with the problem. With RSI, you seem to have damaged your nerves whether the nerve fibres themselves or the sheath which encloses them and this requires weeks if not months of healing.

I stopped using my right arm. Okay, the occasional thing like buttoning a shirt but I stopped typing with two hands and only used my left. It took a number of weeks of wild aiming, but I managed tame my mouse by learning how to use the device with my left hand. I can say that today I am completely ambidextrous when using a mouse but I do find that now I tend to favour my left hand. That way I can surf while drinking coffee or snacking with my other hand since I am right handed.

It took weeks for the dull ache to subside. I had it twenty-four hours a day and it was very, very distracting. I remember sometimes having trouble concentrating on anything whether work or even something recreational like watching TV. There was this constant and unrelenting pain in my forearm. I wouldn't call it excruciating like bring you to your knees pain but it was this ever present background pain. Then I would occasionally twist my body or forget and use my left hand and that dull pain would jump up to say hi with a sharp jab which would make me wince or even say "Ow" out loud.

It took weeks for the dull ache to subside; it took a couple of months before I went back to using my right hand without fear of a relapse. After figuring out that my condition was probably connected to resting my forearm on the edge of my desk while using the mouse, I vowed to not do that again.

Oh? I vowed never to do that again? Oops, here I go again. Who wants to be the first to say, "Health is everything"? Oddly enough from my reading about RSI, people have to make sure they don't make things worse. First of all, one should avoid the activity that created the problem in the first place. For me, no using of my left hand and arm so picture me typing all this with one hand. Doable but frustratingly slow. The problem, as I see it, is that I can take some medication like ibuprofen, feel a bit better, and then start doing that activity which caused the problem in the first place. If you're going to let a body part heal, you must be cautious about using it or how you use it.

Giving up a body part can put a strain on other parts. On occasion I have felt some odd feelings in my right hand, fingers and forearm. Sympathetic pain or real pain? I must be careful. I have been "aware" sometimes of the tip of my right index finger possibly from hitting the mouse too much. I have tried switching the buttons on my mouse: the right button does the left click and the left button does the right click. Instead of clicking with my index finger, I click with my middle finger. I have at times "felt my right thumb" and have taken to typing with one and only one finger. God, I'm a wreck ha ha. However, sustain this type of injury and be deprived of a body part and you will understand that saying, "Health is everything."

My Doctor
I've visited my doctor 3 times so far. He's tested me and felt my assessment of RSI is correct. When I mentioned the tingling in my fingers and asked if I was having a stroke, he gave me an EKG which I passed with flying colours; I am in half-decent shape. He concurred with my plan of action: stop using my left arm and let it heal. There is nothing to do but be patient. However he also agreed with my research that people with these types of conditions can exacerbate their problems by stopping all exercise. Consequently, I've started on my own to do a few low impact things. Sitting around all day doing nothing is not just unhealthy, heck, it's boring!

Speech Recognition
I am using Windows 7 and a couple of days ago started playing with the built-in speech recognition software. Having gone through the tutorial, I now see (hear?) that I have a bit to do to learn all the commands. I see that not every app is going to work properly with this input system. Plus, it doesn't seem to know all the words I use. What? It doesn't recognise a single one of George Carlin's Seven Words You Can't Say On TV! Go figure. So until I can figure how to teach the software new words, I am going to have to fall back on spelling any words it doesn't know. Fortunately profanities don't crop up too often in my writing.

Pain Is Debilitating
Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Whew, how do people with chronic pain cope? Talk about bummed out. Having to deal with a physical limitation is frustrating but the constant pain wears you down. I've arrived at the end of the day totalling exhausted even though I haven't really done anything. Although exhaustion may be compounded by waking up several times in the middle of the night in pain and having to take more drugs.

Living Alone
Yvette Vickers was a small-time B movie actress probably best known for a secondary role in the 1958 American science fiction feature film Attack of the 50 Foot Woman and for being Playboy Playmate of the Month for July 1959. As Wikipedia reports:

Vickers was last seen alive in 2010. On April 27, 2011, her body was discovered in her home by a neighbor who had not seen Vickers for some time. The date of her death is unknown, but forensic scientists concluded that she may have been dead for as long as a year prior to the discovery of her body. There were no signs of foul play, and after an autopsy, the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner ruled the cause of death to have been heart failure resulting from coronary artery disease.

It may sound like morbid humour when I wonder aloud about how long would my body go unnoticed but the above is a real life story which suggests there is an all too serious aspect of single life. My own father, living on his own after the death of his wife, my mother, had some health issues which prompted him to sign up to Lifeline, a telephone based monitoring service. Twice a day he was obliged to push a button on a machine connected to his phone. If he failed to do so, the service would attempt to contact him and if unable to do so, escalate the response to the authorities. Obviously there was a protocol if he was out for the evening or out of town. As well, the service included a necklace which had an emergency button

In my posting Living alone: the dangers of BPPV, I described my run-in with the condition known as Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo, a highfalutin expression which basically means your inner ear gets messed up and you are dizzy. But, I mean really dizzy like dizzy I'm going to upchuck if I'm in any position other than horizontal. Hell, my first spell lasted about 4 hours and I couldn't get out of bed! I know you may laugh, but it's at times like this I wonder at what point I would either get my own Lifeline or move to an assisted living facility. At least there's a better chance of my body not stinkin' up the place.

Oh, by the way, since divorce is a topic which crops up periodically, I would add that my research has shown that being married does not mean you are any less likely of dying alone. My father lived on his own for 8 years after the death of my mother. In the article "The Ultimate Threat to Single People: You'll Die Alone" by Bella DePaulo, Ph.D. (professor at UC Santa Barbara, author of Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After), the author in talking about the myth of being married means not dying alone tells the story of her own parents. Dad apparently dropped dead alone in the hospital after Mom visited him. In reflecting on my own parents, I can say it was merely chance that saw both of them die during the day while I was around. They easily could have checked out when I wasn't there.

I'm Not Bored
Ever notice how when you're really really sick you're not bored? You can lay there for hours even days in absolute and utter agony and watching TV is the last thing on your mind. Yes, that old mind is quite busy, thank you very much, having to deal with the sensory overload of the body's not too subtle message, "I'm in pain and I am none too pleased about it." Pain takes up a lot of your attention.

Slowly though, as the body rights itself and gets onto a more even keel with pain subsiding, the ol' noggin starts turning its attention to other activities like TV. That is, we start getting bored and I always treat that as the clearest sign that the tide has turned, there is a ray of hope and yes, the sun will shine again. My problem is that I'm not so banged up that I'm bored. Yes, I'm hurting; yes, I can't use my left hand but that doesn't mean my brain is disconnected from reality trying to deal with an overload of pain. My problem is the noggin still churning away as it always does but forgetting what it shouldn't do.

I got loaded up on ibuprofen about a week ago and didn't feel too bad. While on the phone with somebody talking about business, I thought to type up some notes. In order to keep up with the flow of the conversation, I typed with two hands. The call probably lasted no more than 10 minutes.

2 hours later as I was heading home, I could feel it. My left forearm felt like it was on fire. Oh, oh, big mistake. Oh God, I was in agony all evening and most of the night. That was my lesson to not, and let me repeat that for my benefit, to not use my left hand or arm. At all. Is this where I start making jokes about standing at the urinal and asking the guy next to me for help in unzipping? Ah, fortunately I'm not that incapacitated. However, don't say to me, "drop and give me twenty." Even though the problem is only in my left arm and shoulder, the thigh bone's connected to the hip bone and sometimes doing something with my right tightens the muscles on my left side and... *grabs his arm, feels the color drain out of his face* Gee sus H. K-rist! *Stops dead in his tracks, bows his head slightly and shuts his eyes while waiting for a wave of excruciating pain to pass over his consciousness* Whew! Sometimes that hurts and I am being polite in front of you by not using any qualifying adjectives with asterisks such as f**kin'.

Final Word
Life's a bitch then you die? Ha ha ha. I am proud to say I have typed all two thousand, five hundred plus words with one hand, pretty much one finger. Ta-da! Of course, did I have to be so wordy? Top story: man gets RSI in left arm, must type with only right hand, the end.

I can't go for a walk. Oh, I can get up and walk to the kitchen but walking more than a block hurts. It's painful to go to the store and my evening 4 mile walks have been completely curtailed. As I sit typing this, it hurts to have my left arm at my side so I'm holding it up and resting it on top of my head. During the day, I periodically lie down as horizontal seems to be better than vertical.

However, there may be a light at the end of the tunnel and no, it's not a train. I have slept through a night without waking up in pain and having to take an ibuprophen. While I may have started the day with a painkiller, I went through a 16 hour day without taking another. Now as I heal, I have to be careful to not get cocky and set myself back. Crap, it has been 3 weeks. 3 weeks!!! This is going to take months for chrissakes!

I have now bought a cushion to elevate myself in relation to the table I am using as a computer desk. I sit up straight. When I use the mouse, I do not rest my forearm on the edge of the table. Believe me, this is no laughing matter and you do not want to suffer an RSI. Pooh pooh it, if you will, but I am here to tell you it is a very real problem. Now, follow along with me. Bend over and put both hands on your knees. Take a deep breath. Exhale slowly and as you do, say quietly under your breath, "Fuuuuuuuuuuuuccccck."


Wikipedia: Repetitive strain injury
Repetitive strain injury (RSI) (also known as repetitive stress injury, repetitive motion injuries, repetitive motion disorder (RMD), cumulative trauma disorder (CT), occupational overuse syndrome, overuse syndrome, regional musculoskeletal disorder) is an injury of the musculoskeletal and nervous systems that may be caused by repetitive tasks, forceful exertions, vibrations, mechanical compression (pressing against hard surfaces), sustained, or awkward positions. Different sections of this article present contrasting perspectives regarding the causes of RSI.

Wikipedia: Nerve: Anatomy
Each nerve is covered externally by a dense sheath of connective tissue, the epineurium. Underlying this is a layer of flat cells, the perineurium, which forms a complete sleeve around a bundle of axons.

Wikipedia: Yvette Vickers
Yvette Iola Vickers (August 26, 1928 – circa 2010) was an American actress, pin-up model and singer. ... In 1958, she appeared in Attack of the 50 Foot Woman as Honey Parker. The following year she played the role of Liz Walker in Attack of the Giant Leeches. In 1959, she appeared as the Playboy Playmate of the Month for the July issue.

Wikipedia: Attack of the 50 Foot Woman
Attack of the 50 Foot Woman is a 1958 American science fiction feature film produced by Bernard Woolner for Allied Artists Pictures. It was directed by Nathan H. Juran (credited as Nathan Hertz) from a screenplay by Mark Hanna, and starred Allison Hayes, William Hudson and Yvette Vickers. The original music score was composed by Ronald Stein. The film was a take on other movies that had also featured size-changing humans, namely The Amazing Colossal Man and The Incredible Shrinking Man, but substituting a woman as from the protagonist to antagonist. The story concerns the plight of a wealthy heiress whose close encounter with an enormous alien being causes her to grow into a giantess.

my blog: Living alone: the dangers of BPPV
Okay, I mischievously wrote the title of this article to make things sound ominous. The acronym which stands for Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo gives the impression that the patient may only have days to live but the whole thing is... well, benign. That is to say, not life threatening however suffering from it does raise some issues about those of us who live by ourselves.

Pyschology Today - Jan 23/2009
The Ultimate Threat to Single People: You'll Die Alone by Bella DePaulo
Suppose you really do want people around you when you die. I'll even up the ante: Suppose you want a spouse there with you when you die. Still, I have to wonder: Should you let that wish for your final hours determine the fate of the rest of your life? Should you find someone to marry, even if you are not sure you really want to marry? Even if you do want to marry but have never found a person you truly want to spend your life with, should you marry someone who is a "good enough" partner just to have a spouse there with you at the end?

Uploaded by themoaningcow on Jan 11, 2008
The Sketch Show - Lee Mack Urinal Sketch with Tim Vine & Jim Tavaré
Lee Mack's classic urinal sketch from the UK comedy show 'The Sketch Show'.


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Monday 23 April 2012

Michael Jackson: Man In The Mirror

Ooh ooh ooh aah
Gonna make a change
For once in my life
It's gonna feel real good
Gonna make a difference
Gonna make it right

As I turned up the collar on
My favorite winter coat
This wind is blowin' my mind
I see the kids in the street
With not enough to eat
Who am I to be blind
Pretending not to see their needs

A summer's disregard
A broken bottle top
And a one man's soul
They follow each other
On the wind ya' know
'Cause they got nowhere to go
That's why I want you to know

I'm starting with the man in the mirror
I'm asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself and then make a change, yey
Na na na, na na na, na na na na oh ho

I've been a victim of
A selfish kinda love
It's time that I realize
There are some with no home
Not a nickel to loan
Could it be really pretending that they're not alone

A willow deeply scarred
Somebody's broken heart
And a washed out dream
(Washed out dream)
They follow the pattern of the wind ya' see
'Cause they got no place to be
That's why I'm starting with me

I'm starting with the man in the mirror
I'm asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself and then make a change

I'm starting with the man in the mirror
I'm asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself and then make that change

I'm starting with the man in the mirror
(Man in the mirror, oh yeah)
I'm asking him to change his ways, yeah
No message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself and then make the change
You gotta get it right, while you got the time
'Cause when you close your heart
(You can't close your, your mind)
Then you close your mind

(That man, that man, that man)
(That man, that man, that man)
(With the man in the mirror, oh yeah)
(That man you know, that man you know)
(That man you know, that man you know)
I'm asking him to change his ways
No message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself then make that change

(Na na na, na na na, na na na na)
Oh yeah
Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah
(Na na na, na na na, na na na na)

Oh no
Oh no, I'm gonna make a change
It's gonna feel real good
Sure mon
Just lift yourself
You know, you got to stop it yourself
Make that change
(I gotta make that change today, oh)
(Man in the mirror)
You got to, you got to not let yourself, brother oh
You know that
(Make that change)
(I gotta make that make me then make)
You got, you got to move
Sure mon, sure mon
You got to
(Stand up, stand up, stand up)
Make that change
Stand up and lift yourself, now
(Man in the mirror)
Make that change
(Gonna make that change, sure mon)
(Man in the mirror)
You know it, you know it, you know it, you know
Make that change


Uploaded by michaeljacksonVEVO on Oct 2, 2009

Wikipedia: Man in the Mirror
"Man in the Mirror" is a song recorded by Michael Jackson and written and composed by Glen Ballard and Siedah Garrett. It peaked at number one in the United States when released as the fourth single in January 1988 off his seventh solo album, Bad. It is one of Jackson's most critically acclaimed songs and it was nominated for Record of the Year at the Grammy Awards. The song topped the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks. The song peaked at number 21 in the UK Singles Charts in 1988, but in 2009, following the news of Jackson's death, the song peaked at number two, having re-entered the chart at 11 the previous week as his top song on the singles chart. It also became the No. 1 single in iTunes downloads in the U.S. and the U.K.

Music video
One of the videos is a notable departure from Jackson's other videos mainly because Jackson himself does not appear in the video (aside from a brief clip toward the end of the video in which he can be seen donning a red jacket and standing in a large crowd). Instead, it featured a montage of footage from various major news events such as a nuclear explosion of Operation Crossroads, the Civil Rights March on Washington, John F. Kennedy and Robert Kennedy assassinations, the Vietnam War, the Kent State shootings, the Iranian hostage crisis, Solidarity's birth and growth, Ethiopian famine, increases in homelessness, Live Aid, first Farm Aid with Willie Nelson, Jessica McClure's rescue, Camp David Accords (with Anwar El Sadat, Menachem Begin, Jimmy Carter), INF Treaty signing (with Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan), and other notable people including Martin Luther King, Lech Wałęsa, Mother Teresa, Desmond Tutu, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Mahatma Gandhi, Rosa Parks, Pieter Willem Botha, Muammar al-Gaddafi, the Ku Klux Klan, and Adolf Hitler. An alternate video was included at the beginning of his film Moonwalker with footage of several live performances of the song during the Bad World Tour.

Wikipedia: Bad (album)
Bad is the seventh studio album by American songwriter and recording artist Michael Jackson. The album was released on August 31, 1987 by Epic/CBS Records, nearly five years after Jackson's previous studio album, Thriller, which went on to become the world's best-selling album. Bad itself sold over 45 million copies worldwide, and shipped 10.5 million units in the United States alone, and has been cited as one of the best selling albums of all time. The album produced five Hot 100 number ones, the first album to do so.

Wikipedia: Michael Jackson
Michael Joseph Jackson (August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009) was an American recording artist, entertainer, and businessman. Often referred to as the King of Pop, or by his initials MJ, Jackson is recognized as the most successful entertainer of all time by Guinness World Records. His contribution to music, dance, and fashion, along with a much-publicized personal life, made him a global figure in popular culture for over four decades.

Some personal notes
I wrote the blog entry Earth Day 2012 lauding everyone's individual efforts to plant a tree but pointing how we collectively must work together to truly affect change. This means both working together and finding the right solution. After publishing, I saw somebody had posted this song on Facebook and thought there was a significant connection to Earth Day and how our individual efforts can collectively add up to something significant.

"If you wanna make the world a better place, Take a look at yourself and then make a change."

Saturday, April 28, 2012: Unite Against The War On Women

Sunday, April 22, 2012: Earth Day 2012

Rush Limbaugh: That's spelled with one F and one U


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Sunday 22 April 2012

Earth Day 2012

Wait! Again? I thought... Yep, you're right. There was an Earth Day on March 20, 2012. And now there's an Earth Day on April 22. So, what gives?

Peace activist John McConnell and U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson separately arrived at the same idea. McConnell's idea was first celebrated in San Francisco and a couple of other cities on March 21, 1970 and Nelson's first Earth Day was held on April 22, 1970 with twenty million people participating.

McConnell's Earth Day was recognised by the United Nations in 1971 and has always been an international event. McConnell's choice of March 21 was meant to coincide with the spring equinox, the moment when the sun passes over the equator. At this same moment, the vernal equinox, it is a tradition to ring the Japanese Peace Bell.

Nelson's Earth Day remained in the United States for two decades before going international in 1990 with the organization of events in 141 countries. The United Nations designated April 22 as International Mother Earth Day in 2009.

Since Nelson's plan for an American only event, his choice was passed solely on a day which did not conflict with school, either exams or spring breaks, did not conflict with religious holidays such as Easter or Passover, and had decent weather being later in the spring. Amusingly enough and unbeknownst to Nelson, his choice turned out to be the 100th anniversary of the birth of Vladimir Lenin. For those looking for a Communist conspiracy including the Daughters of the American Revolution and J. Edgar Hoover himself, this was not a coincidence but a "Communist trick".

Earth Day 2012
EarthDay.Org known as the Earth Day Network is the place to get information about this annual event. The 2012 campaign is called Mobilize The Earth and in their introduction to this year's campaign, they write:

As the 42nd Anniversary of Earth Day approaches, people are becoming frustrated with the failure of governments to take any steps toward protecting and preserving the environment. The Earth Day 2012 campaign is designed to provide people with the opportunity to unite their voices in a call for a sustainable future and direct them toward quantifiable outcomes, using vehicles such as petitions, the Billion Acts of Green; campaign, and events.

Earth Day 2012 will act as a launch pad for growing the environmental movement and will put forth a bold declaration demanding immediate action to secure Renewable Energy for All and a sustainable future for our planet. The movement will be comprised of individuals of every age from all corners of the Earth, and will call upon local, national, and international leaders to put an end to fossil fuel subsidies, embrace renewable energy technology, improve energy efficiency, and make energy universally accessible.

Other Earth Events
Earth Hour is celebrated on the last Saturday of March and this year, it was celebrated on March 28, from 8:30pm to 9:30pm local time. (see my blog: Earth Hour: 60 Minutes to Make a Difference) Earth Week is celebrated from April 16 to April 22, the last day being Earth Day.

Earth Day Quotes
About.Com presents a number of interesting quotes from people both famous and not so famous that resonate with the idea of "Mother Earth" as a gift we should all cherish.

The earth does not belong to man -- man belongs to the earth.
-Chief Seattle

I believe in God, only I spell it Nature.
-Frank Lloyd Wright

We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.
-Native American Proverb

There is a great need for the introduction of new values in our society, where bigger is not necessarily better, where slower can be faster, and where less can be more.
-Gaylord Nelson

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtfully committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.
-Margaret Mead

For 200 years we've been conquering nature. Now we're beating it to death.
-Tom McMillan

We have met the enemy and he is us.
-Walt Kelly

Of course, can we leave out the more comical look at these issues which although funny, say something about ourselves and our attitude to all this?

Why should I care about future generations? What have they ever done for me?
-Groucho Marx

Fall is my favorite season in Los Angeles, watching the birds change color and fall from the trees.
-David Letterman

Earth Day Activities
Various web sites list a number of activities to raise our awareness of Earth Day and its message of looking at our environment and trying to do something about it.

Public Transit
Instead of driving your car to work, why not take transit? Of course, when I say that I had to think that this is something more people should consider doing every single day, not just on Earth Day.

My personal story: The family divested itself of a car and I started taking the subway to work. What did I discover? I didn't have to fight traffic. I then had an hour to read or work on my portable computer. After a few months, I signed up for a course to go back and study some French. And what did I discover? My time going to work and my time coming home from work became my study time. Instead of commuting being a pain, I managed to turn this into a profitable part of my week. Now I would hate to have to go back to driving to and from work. What a waste of time!

I try to do this all the time but have come to realise that recycling and what can be recycled is dependent on the services available to individual communities.

Personal story: I purchased a great take-out lunch yesterday packaged in a plastic container. However, much to my dismay, I discovered that the plastic was labelled number seven and my office building only recycles plastics number one and two. I had to throw the plastic container in the garbage because it couldn't be recycled. I would have taken it home but found out number seven plastic is not recycled where I live either. Ah!!! Obviously our communities themselves need to do more to make recycling more universal and comprehensive. It's one thing to have people negligent in sorting things for recycling; it's another thing to find out you can't recycle even if you want to.

Join an Earth Day Rally
Even if you don't go to a rally per se, there are smaller local events planned. My office building is holding an event to mark the occasion but more than that, all during this week, Earth Week, they are publicizing recycling in an effort to make everyone in the entire building better aware of recycling.

Published on Mar 22, 2012 by earthdaynetwork
Mobilize The Earth Video
Mobilize the Earth. Earth Day April 22, 2012. Go to:

Here I go raining on your parade. We as individuals can do our part by planting a tree, buying an energy efficient light bulb, and doing more recycling. However, it is at a national level or an international level where we must lobby our governments to do more as it is at this level, on this scale that enormous change can take place.

In my blog Let's go green... er, black?, I talk about our need for electricity, how much coal we all may be burning to produce electricity and just what we collectively are doing and should be doing. I wrote:

A couple of years ago, I was reading an analysis in the editorial pages of the Toronto Star where the author [looked] at our green efforts. He listed off our various initiatives in North America like changing traditional light bulbs to more energy efficient ones, getting more green appliances, turning off unnecessary lights and dimming others, etc. Then he said that these types of efforts, while laudable were laughable when one took into account that at that moment, China was constructing a new coal-fired electrical power generating station every week. All of our light bulbs were dwarfed by the new developments elsewhere in the world which were leading to even higher levels of pollution.

The Kyoto Protocol aims to fight global warming. It sets out targets in the reduction of various pollutants known to contribute to this phenomenon. As of September 2011, 191 countries have ratified the agreement with one very notable exception: the United States, a country ranked by several reports as the biggest polluter on the planet. (I also note that my country Canada had the dubious honour of being the first country to renounce from the protocol in December 2011. Shame on Canada.)

What does this mean? What's my point?

While we're all feeling better for ourselves as human beings having spent the day planting a tree, the collective we as represented by our governments, our business, our society in general is spewing pollutants into the environment at unprecedented rates. My one little tree ain't worth diddly squat compared to a coal-fired electrical power generating station. Yes, my tree is better than a kick in the pants, as my father liked to say, but I must, we all must collectively work through our governments to enact regulations to control what the collective we does. Yes, we need businesses. Yes, businesses must make a profit to stay in business. Heck, that's capitalism and capitalism is a good thing.

However I hear over and over again the mantra of Conservatives, the Tea Party in the United States, that big government is bad. Hey, can I really argue with that idea? Who the heck wants a government which is bloated, inefficient and misspending our tax dollars? I'll be the first to vote against that! But, but, but and here is my big but, our government is the collective we and it is how we collectively pull in the same direction.

Who likes regulations? Who likes to be told what to do? Nobody it seems but then again, what are the consequences of no rules?

Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico
British Petroleum was obliged by the U.S. government to set aside twenty billion dollars for the Gulf oil spill. (Wikipedia) While this amount of money is deemed by analysts as a "drop in the bucket" in relation to what BP earns overall, there is for me quite an amusing side to the entire story.

As it goes, BP, amongst other oil companies, lobbied the U.S. government to stop regulation which would have required certain safety measures. These companies felt such measures were onerous to their operations or as restated by reporters, onerous to their bottom lines. From what I understand, BP was not obliged to shell out $500,000 for a safety valve. Such a valve would have apparently prevented the oil from leaking as it has been doing. Apparently, with the platform sinking and pipe being disconnected from the rig itself, this safety valve would have kicked in and sealed off the pipe at the seabed.

I am stunned by such an implication and I also have to laugh at it all. BP has now been obliged to set aside $20 billion. Who knows how much more they may have to spend on clean up and financial restitution? All of this is for what reason? It is because they lobbied to not be obliged to spend $500,000 for a safety valve. This is monstrous: monstrously short-sighted, monstrously funny and a monster of a catastrophe.

Subprime Mortgage Crisis
In the United States, financial institutions were able to set up lending practices that emphasized profit over prudence. Loans were being granted to people who would have been otherwise deemed incapable of repaying said loan. Terms were given that now seem to have only fuelled the precariousness of the loan. While many factors come into play to fully explain the complexity of the entire crisis, the rather simple reason is that a whole lot of people failed to pay back their loans, whether it is a mortgage on a house or some other form of debt. The entire system, in the quest for profit, failed to take into account the possibility of debtors being unable to repay their debt. Like a pyramid scheme, the entire house of cards fell over. Greater and greater risks were being taken in search for greater and greater profits.

No Regulations?
One of the principal ideas of a democratic free market economy is that government imposes little or no regulation. It is felt that the market itself will "self-regulate", it will find its own balance. However, like a pendulum which swings back and forth many times before coming to rest in the middle, how much adjustment will a market make, how much self-regulation is necessary before one finds that middle ground?

In the two stories above, the Gulf Oil Spill and the Subprime Crisis, a lack of regulation allowed the participants to do... well, pretty much what they wanted. By focusing on profit over prudence, people were "allowed" to proceed with a course of action that under-estimated the risk and over-estimated the reward. While a certain amount of risk would be inherent in anything we do, we must admit that certain levels of risk must be considered imprudent if not just plain stupid. After all, as the old saying goes, "Never bet more than you can afford to lose."

Don't Tell Me What To Do
An acquaintance, ah, John Doe, was telling me that he didn't want regulations; he wanted less government. He very much wanted to be free. I told John that we can all agree that a speed limit of 60 mph or 100 km is a reasonable restriction on our driving. Such a rule can save lives. John nodded his head and agreed with me. I then added that such a rule does not restrict where we can go; it only tells us how fast we can go. John became thoughtful.

I continued by explaining that the government imposes a speed limit because going faster is more dangerous and statistics prove that with speed, more people lose their lives. Nevertheless, the government is not trying to tell us where we can drive. It is not telling us where we can go. It is only trying to tell us the safest way of getting to where we have decided to go. The rule about the speed limit is for safety because the government actually wants us to get to where we are going. It imposes these rules for our own collective good.

John admitted that I made a good point; he had never looked at regulations that way saying that this made sense.

Every time I get in an elevator, I can look up and there is a little plaque in which I can read a certificate issued by the government showing "inspected by so and so on such and such a date". That somehow gives me a sense of security in that I don't have to worry about the elevator plummeting into the basement and leaving me flat as a pancake on the floor after a 10 story drop.

Anyone who flies an airplane is personally acquainted with a pre-flight checklist. This list covers dozens of items which the pilot must verify before he takes off. These rules are in place not to be a burden, but to ensure the pilot is actually successful in flying his plane.

When I was a boy, my father showed me the proper way of using a table saw. Explaining how a rotating saw blade can sometimes grab a piece of wood, he showed how in a twinkling of an eye a finger can be easily drawn into the whirling blade and be amputated. Proper procedure dictated guiding a piece of wood not with one's hand, but with another piece of wood. If the piece which is being cut ever got pinched by the saw blade, instead of one's hand being pulled into the blade, the piece of wood being used to guide the wood being cut would be drawn in.

Rules are there to help us, to protect us. There are not there to take away freedom; unless, of course, we want the freedom to maim or kill ourselves. Rules have been put in place by others who have gone before us who have observed phenomenon, analysed the results, figured out the why and determined what's necessary to avoid the bad.

If BP had been forced through regulation to purchase and install the safety valve, we wouldn't have the Gulf Oil Spill. If financial institutions were forced through regulation to only loan money to people who could realistically be able to repay it, we would not have had the subprime mortgage crisis. I am not advocating for more government but I do think some well thought out rules would not hurt. When I get on an elevator, when I turn onto the highway, I do not necessarily feel apprehensive. I think the rules in place are helping me and statistically doing their best to ensure that I get safely to the dinner table that evening.

Final Word
Earth Day. Plant a tree. Rah rah sis boom bah. We all do our part, our tiny infinitesimal part. However, my point is that we must collectively keep our eye on the bigger ball. Yes, there are bigger fish to fry. Despite the doomsday rhetoric of the Conservatives, nobody wants bigger government. Despite the blind obedience to the mantra "Less Government", I am certain the Conservatives do not want a repeat of the BP oil spill or the 2008 financial crisis. There is a middle ground. Yes, I am going to recycle. Yes, I am going to use an organics bin. Yes, I am going to turn off my lights when I'm not using them. But I am also going to vote. I am also going to express my opinion and do my part to ensure the collective we is thinking of the greater good and not letting itself be swayed by the narrow minded personal interest of any one group political or business. Earth Day is about the Earth. The Earth is all of us. Let's not just think about today, let's think about tomorrow. After all, tomorrow we won't be here but our children will be. Let's leave them a nice clean green park to play in.


Wikipedia: Earth Day
Earth Day is a day early each year on which events are held worldwide to increase awareness and appreciation of the Earth's natural environment. Earth Day is now coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network, and is celebrated in more than 175 countries every year. In 2009, the United Nations designated April 22 International Mother Earth Day. Earth Day is planned for April 22 in all years at least through 2015.

Wikipedia: History of the Equinox Earth Day
The equinoctial Earth Day is celebrated on the March equinox (around March 20) to mark the precise moment of astronomical mid-spring in the Northern Hemisphere, and of astronomical mid-autumn in the Southern Hemisphere. An equinox in astronomy is that moment in time (not a whole day) when the center of the Sun can be observed to be directly "above" the Earth's equator, occurring around March 20 and September 23 each year. In most cultures, the equinoxes and solstices are considered to start or separate the seasons.

Wikipedia: International Mother Earth Day
International Mother Earth Day is celebrated each April 22nd at the United Nations. It was established in 2009 by the General Assembly under Resolution A/RES/63/278. The Resolution was introduced by The Plurinational State of Bolivia and endorsed by over 50 member states. It recognizes that "the Earth and its ecosystems are our home" and that "it is necessary to promote harmony with nature and the Earth." The term Mother Earth is used because it "reflects the interdependence that exists among human beings, other living species and the planet we all inhabit."

Wikipedia: Gaylord Nelson
Gaylord Anton Nelson (June 4, 1916 – July 3, 2005) was an American Democratic politician from Wisconsin. He was the principal founder of Earth Day... Nelson was always passionate about the environment. He is mentioned with Al Gore, Karson Coker, and Steve Erwin.

Wikipedia: John McConnell
John McConnell (born March 22, 1915), the founder and creator of Earth Day, has demonstrated a major passion for peace, religion, and science throughout his life. He has made efforts to relieve human suffering and promote the common good. His interests include attempting to answer many of the critical problems that face humanity today.

Earth Day Network
The first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, activated 20 million Americans from all walks of life and is widely credited with launching the modern environmental movement. The passage of the landmark Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act and many other groundbreaking environmental laws soon followed. Growing out of the first Earth Day, Earth Day Network (EDN) works with over 22,000 partners in 192 countries to broaden, diversify and mobilize the environmental movement. More than 1 billion people now participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world.

Earth Day Canada
Earth Day Canada (EDC) is a national environmental communications organization mandated to improve the state of the environment by empowering Canadians to achieve local solutions.

United Nations: International Mother Earth Day
The proclamation of 22 April as International Mother Earth Day is an acknowledgement that the Earth and its ecosystems provide its inhabitants with life and sustenance. It also recognizes a collective responsibility, as called for in the 1992 Rio Declaration, to promote harmony with nature and the Earth to achieve a just balance among the economic, social and environmental needs of present and future generations of humanity.

Earth Society Foundation
The Earth Society Foundation was established by John McConnell and Margaret Mead to foster worldwide participation in the peaceful care of Earth, and to promote the annual celebration of Earth Day on the Equinox (March 20-21).

About.Com: A Brief History of Earth Day
The enduring appeal of Earth Day resonated far beyond its origins By Marc Lallanilla

Planetpals: stuff for kids

About.Com: Your 2012 Green Holiday Calendar By Marc Lallanilla
January 1: New Year's Day: Make a Green New Year's Resolution
February 2: World Wetlands Day
March 20: Spring (Vernal) Equinox
March 21: World Forestry Day
March 22: World Water Day
March 23: World Meteorological Day
Last Saturday of March (3/31/2012): Earth Hour
April 22: Earth Day
Last Friday in April (4/27/2012): Arbor Day
Second Saturday in May (5/12/2012): International Migratory Bird Day
May 22: International Day for Biological Diversity
First Saturday of June (6/2/2012): National Trails Day
June 5: World Environment Day
June 8: World Oceans Day
June 15: Global Wind Day
June 20: Summer Solstice
July 11: World Population Day
September 4: National Wildlife Day
September 21: International Day of Peace
September 22: Fall (Autumnal) Equinox
September 22: World Car-Free Day
First Week of October: Junk Mail Awareness Week
October 1: World Vegetarian Day
October 4: World Animal Day
November 1: World Vegan Day

my blog: Rob Ford drops the bag... er, ball
While I'm up here on my soapbox, one other thing which is bugging me. I talk about how the mayor of Toronto has promised to drop the city's five cent plastic bag tax. The CBC reported that a number of grocery stores such as the Metro and Sobey's chains have said their plastic bag distribution rates have fallen between 70 and 80 per cent since the bylaw went into effect. Hey folks, I can think of no better time than Earth Day to remind eveybody to recycle our bags. There is absolutely no need for us to be taking plastic bags, using them once, then throwing them out to fill up our garbage dump sites. (I have a funny picture of a plastic bag on which is written: "I'm a plastic bag, but you can always reuse me, idiots!")


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Monday 16 April 2012

Saturday, April 28, 2012: Unite Against The War On Women

Unite Women ORG: A Call To Action To Defend Women's Rights!
Help defend women's rights and pursuit of equality. Join Americans all across the United States on April 28th, 2012, as we come together as one to tell members of Congress in Washington DC and legislators in all 50 states, "Enough is enough!" strongly supports diversity and welcomes men and women of all ages without regard to their race, color, creed, political affiliation, disability, religious or spiritual beliefs, sexual orientation, gender identity, education or income level, marital status, employment status, or immigrant status. Everyone is invited to join, plan, and rally as we unite to demand that every person be granted equal opportunities, equal rights, and equal representation.

[Contains an interactive map to find event and rallies where you are]

Uploaded by MadMikesAmericaVideo on Feb 16, 2012
We Are Warriors
Erin Nanasi Senior Columnist for MadMikesAmerica

The Daily Beast - Mar 9/2012
Nobel Winner Gbowee: Where Are the Angry American Women? by Abigail Pesta
Nobel Peace Prize winner Leymah Gbowee drew cheers at the Women in the World summit Friday morning, telling the crowd, “It’s time for women to stop being politely angry.” She was referring to the recent political firestorm in America over contraception and abortion. “Why are these women not angry and beating men left and right?” she asked, adding that men aren’t qualified to dictate women’s reproductive rights, since they’ve never given birth. “You only qualify if you’ve gone through the process—you understand what the process is.”

Published on Mar 9, 2012 by TheDailyBeastVideo
Women in the World 2012: Leymah Gbowee on Women's Reproductive Rights
Gbowee brought down the house with her take on the contraception wars. In short, she summed it up best with "you only qualify [to make decisions about reproductive rights] if you've gone through the process, if you understand what the process is."

Huffington - Mar 11/2012
From Apathy to Action: Are Women Mad Enough to Get the Job Done? by Barbara Hannah Grufferman
Are you mad enough to get the job done? Here's what you can do right now (and please share with others):
* Go to the 'One Million Pissed-Off Women' page on Facebook and get motivated
* Join the men and women who are organizing the 'Unite Against the War on Women' march (April 28th)
* Start a grassroots campaign for positive change
* Read and be informed about the issues that are affecting us the most
* Work to get rid of "isms" of all kinds: ageism, sexism, racism
* Sit down and have a cup of tea with someone who is on the other end of the political spectrum so you can start to understand each other, and build consensus
* Seek out politicians who share your worldview and anger, and support them
* Run for political office
* Blog, write articles, get others mad and motivated
* Fight for your rights as a woman, as a worker, and as a mother
* If you're unemployed, keep trying to get a job or start your own company (women are the driving force behind the growth of micro-enterprises)
* Get connected to like-minded women on Facebook and websites
* Show our children that change is possible
Women of America, it's time to get the job done.

Huffington Post - Apr 13/2012
The Spring of Our Discontent: Why Women Will Take to the Streets on April 28th by Barbara Hannah Grufferman
So women will be the decisive factor in the presidential elections, huh? Well, listen up... we're steaming mad and we're going to march. But guess what? We're also going to vote. And that's why all you policy makers better pay close attention to what we have to say.

Facebook: National Protest Against the War on Women
Public Event for Organizing against the war on women
Saturday, April 28, 2012: 10:00am until 2:00pm
In cities across all 50 States, DC and the territories! Note times may differ in your State.

iVillage - Mar 14/2012
50 Best & Worst States for Women by Angela Matusik
To create our ranking, we examined each state based on six criteria: health, economy, affordable childcare, female political representation, education, accessibility to women's health care.
Top 5 States: Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachussetts, California
States 6-10: Vermont, New York, Minnesota, Washington, New Hampshire
States 11-15: New Jersey, Colorado, Maine, Illinois, Alaska
States 16-20: Rhode Island, Deleware, Oregon, Virginia, Wisconsin
States 21-25: Michigan, Arizona, New Mexico, North Carolina, Georgia
States 26-30: Montana, Nevada, Iowa, Kansas, Pennsylvania
States 31-35: Florida, Ohio, Wyoming, Nebraska, Utah
States 36-40: Missouri, North Dakota, Texas, South Dakota, Tennessee
States 41-45: Idaho, South Carolina, Indiana, Louisiana, Alabama
Bottom 5 States: Kentucky, West Virginia, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Mississippi

We Are Women-March!
Mission Statement:
This site is primarily intended to fight back against the war on women’s rights. You are welcome to use this site for organizing for social justice. The mission of this site is to provide organizing tools for people to use to fight back against the war on women and a positive constructive space to collaborate on our mutual goals of defending and promoting human rights and social justice for all.

Published on Mar 16, 2012 by awatson61
You've come a long way baby... uh, not so fast...
So many women have no idea what battles were fought, by women and for women. This is a brief history lesson of Women's RIghts in America... The battles we have fought and won... and now? The men in Washington are trying to take away those rights... There is only one thing to do... Lysistrata.
Unite against the War on Women.

Wikipedia: Lysistrata
Lysistrata is one of the few surviving plays written by Aristophanes. Originally performed in classical Athens in 411 BC, it is a comic account of one woman's extraordinary mission to end The Peloponnesian War. Lysistrata persuades the women of Greece to withhold sexual privileges from their husbands and lovers as a means of forcing the men to negotiate peace — a strategy, however, that inflames the battle between the sexes. The play is notable for being an early exposé of sexual relations in a male-dominated society.


Wikipedia: Leymah Gbowee
Leymah Roberta Gbowee (born 1 February 1972) is a Liberian peace activist responsible for leading a women's peace movement that brought an end to the Second Liberian Civil War in 2003. This led to the election of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in Liberia, the first African nation with a female president. She, along with Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Tawakkul Karman, were awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize "for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women's rights to full participation in peace-building work."

Wikipedia: Barbara Hannah Grufferman
Barbara Hannah Grufferman is an author and journalist. She is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post. Grufferman is the author of "The Best of Everything After 50: The Experts' Guide to Style, Sex, Health, Money, and More," which purports to address concerns of women over fifty.

Wikipedia: UniteWomen.Org was formed in Michigan in February 2012. It developed in response to the War on Women, a series of legislative actions in the United States which negatively affect women. The group has organized several marches, including a march in Jackson, Mississippi, to oppose "32 bills introduced this session restricting women's access to health care" and plan a co-ordinated nationwide march on April 28, 2012, to take place in different major cities around the United States. The group has been endorsed by American Association of University Women, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, the The Coalition of Labor Union Women and The Coffee Party USA. The march in April is being promoted by Barbara Hannah Grufferman.

Published on Mar 7, 2012 by reformedwhores
Rush Limbaugh Calls Sandra Fluke a Slut - Reformed Whores' Response Video
Reformed Whores' response to Rush Limbaugh calling a female Georgetown law student a SLUT. Apparently the word doesn't mean what we thought it did...

official web site: Reformed Whores
The musical comedy duo Reformed Whores, fronted by Marie Cecile Anderson and Katy Frame, have been lassoing hearts throughout the New York City comedy scene. These southern belles sing about everything from venereal diseases to drunk dialing with sweet harmonies and old-timey flair.

my blog: Rush Limbaugh: That's spelled with one F and one U
Recently, the world has been atwitter on Twitter and other social media commenting left, right and centre about one Rush Hudson Limbaugh. Of course, it is easy to pile on by calling him an anal orifice or a Neanderthal or a meany... (I consult my notes) oops, that's a f**kin' meany... however I can't help feeling there is more, much more not just to this particular story, but to what the story represents. This is the tip of the iceberg.

my blog: Planned Parenthood: addicting children to sex!!!
The American Life League (ALL) is one of the largest pro-life organizations in the United States. ... I note that ALL has an axe to grind with Planned Parenthood. ... ALL clearly states that it is immoral for Planned Parenthood to facilitate sexual intercourse outside of marriage. Likewise, it is immoral for PP to promote and distribute products, such as those listed above [contraceptives, etc. and IUDs], as well as condoms, which artificially attempt to render procreation impossible, even to those who are married. From here, ALL goes on to say that PP is promoting "secular humanism", a non-theistic philosophy which rejects the supernatural and thus rejects God and admits to no objective moral code.

my blog: Abortion: My final word on unwanted pregnancy
My own grand-mother died of a botched abortion.

my blog: Rick Perry and Sex Education: Abstinence works!
Don't have sex. It's so obvious. It's so logical. Why are we even talking? Don't have sex and you don't get pregnant. Don't have sex and you don't get an STD. Don't have sex and you don't get AIDS. What's not to get about this?

Drive safely and you won't have an accident. Follow the posted speed limit and not only will you not get a speeding ticket, you won't have an accident. Keep your hands on the wheel and your attention focused on driving without talking on a cellphone or texting or reading or eating your lunch and you won't have an accident. Heck, who needs a seat belt? If we all follow the rules, we won't need traffic cops or radar traps. Why are we even talking?


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Sunday 15 April 2012

Cactus: Parchman Farm

I'm sitting over here on Parchman Farm
I'm sitting over here on Parchman Farm
I'm sitting over here on Parchman Farm
All I ever did was shoot my arm

Be down here for the rest of my life
Be down here for the rest of my life
Be down here for the rest of my life
All I ever did was pull my knife out

Put me down here with a ball n chain
Put me down here with a ball n chain
Put me down here with a ball n chain
Oh Lord they're tryin' to drive my mind insane

Oh bust them rocks baby

That Parchman Farm
Do no harm
That chaka high
That Parchman Farm
Be down here for the rest of my life
All I ever did was pull my knife
That Parchman Farm
That Parchman Farm
That Parchman Farm
That Parchman Farm
Ah yeah
Be down here for the rest of my life


Uploaded August 19, 2010 by Roman Tamayo

Wikipedia: Parchman Farm (song)
"Parchman Farm" is the title of a number of songs about Mississippi State Penitentiary, known as Parchman Farm, a hard time prison because of the Trusty system which was later outlawed.

There have been a number of blues songs written about Parchman Farm and several Blues musicians were imprisoned there, including Bukka White (who wrote "Parchman Farm Blues"), and Son House. In 1939, folklorist Alan Lomax recorded White and others at the farm for the Library of Congress.

Mose Allison wrote a song called "Parchman Farm", distinct from the earlier blues songs. It has been covered by Blue Cheer (as "Parchment Farm"), Cactus, Rick Derringer, Georgie Fame, The Kingston Trio, John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers (who released it as a Decca Records single in 1966), Hot Tuna, and others.

Wikipedia: Cactus (album)
Cactus is the first album by the American hard rock supergroup Cactus, released in 1970 under the Atco label. It includes original songs as well as cover of Mose Allison's version of a blues standard, "Parchman Farm" and another one, Willie Dixon's "You Can't Judge a Book by the Cover".

Wikipedia: Cactus (band)
Cactus is an American hard rock supergroup, formed in 1970.

Cactus was initially conceived as early as late 1969 and originally featured the Vanilla Fudge rhythm section of bassist Tim Bogert and drummer Carmine Appice, guitarist Jeff Beck, xylophone player/vocalist Adele Smitchell, and Rod Stewart (also from the already dissolved Jeff Beck Group). However, Beck had an automobile accident and was out of the music scene for over a year and Stewart joined Ronnie Wood in Faces.

Early 1970 Appice and Bogert brought in blues guitarist Jim McCarty from Mitch Ryder's Detroit Wheels and The Buddy Miles Express, and singer Rusty Day (born Russell Edward Davidson) from Amboy Dukes.

Some personal notes
I saw Cactus live in 1970 in Buffalo, New York. Jim McCarty, as you can hear on this song, was and still is quite the guitarist. Fabulous band. These guys rocked!


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Saturday 14 April 2012

Agent Smith: Human beings are a virus

Agent Smith:
I'd like to share a revelation that I've had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species and I realized that you're not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You're a plague and we are the cure.

The Guardian - Mar 30/2005
Two-thirds of world's resources 'used up' by Tim Radford, science editor
The human race is living beyond its means. A report backed by 1,360 scientists from 95 countries - some of them world leaders in their fields - today warns that the almost two-thirds of the natural machinery that supports life on Earth is being degraded by human pressure.

The study contains what its authors call "a stark warning" for the entire world. The wetlands, forests, savannahs, estuaries, coastal fisheries and other habitats that recycle air, water and nutrients for all living creatures are being irretrievably damaged. In effect, one species is now a hazard to the other 10 million or so on the planet, and to itself.

"Human activity is putting such a strain on the natural functions of Earth that the ability of the planet's ecosystems to sustain future generations can no longer be taken for granted," it says.

The report, prepared in Washington under the supervision of a board chaired by Robert Watson, the British-born chief scientist at the World Bank and a former scientific adviser to the White House, will be launched today at the Royal Society in London. It warns that:

Because of human demand for food, fresh water, timber, fibre and fuel, more land has been claimed for agriculture in the last 60 years than in the 18th and 19th centuries combined.

Published on Mar 1, 2012 by NASAexplorer
NASA | What Doesn't Stay in Vegas? Sprawl.
When Landsat 5 launched on March 1, 1984, Las Vegas was a smaller city. This image series, done in honor of the satellite's 28th birthday, shows the desert city's massive growth spurt since 1972. The outward expansion of the city is shown in a false-color time lapse of data from all the Landsat satellites. - Dec 20/2011
Human Nature vs. Environmentalism by Hudds
The news has been full to bursting for as long as I can remember with the issue of ‘green’ living; What’s your carbon footprint? Are humans causing global warming? Is it cow farts? It goes on and on. But the real question is it even possible for us to fight our very nature to ‘protect’ Mother Nature?

Agent Smith’s comparison of humans to viruses struck a chord with me back in 1999 when The Matrix was released.

I had felt that way for some time at that point, but had never put it into words. He did so eloquently. As I get older and see more of the world, it still rings true. We do not form a symbiotic relationship with our environment naturally. We take and take until things can’t give anymore and then we move on. As we grow as a species, we do a better job of cordoning off the areas that are unpleasant but we don’t fix the problem, only keep it out of sight.

My eighth grade science teacher once said, “Human beings tend to make their habitat uninhabitable.” She was right.

Wikipedia: Voluntary Human Extinction Movement
The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement is an environmental movement that calls for all people to abstain from reproduction to cause the gradual voluntary extinction of humankind. VHEMT supports human extinction primarily because, in the group's view, it would prevent environmental degradation. The group states that a decrease in the human population would prevent a significant amount of man-made human suffering. The extinctions of non-human species and the scarcity of resources required by humans are frequently cited by the group as evidence of the harm caused by human overpopulation.

official web site: The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement
Phasing out the human race by voluntarily ceasing to breed will allow Earth’s biosphere to return to good health. Crowded conditions and resource shortages will improve as we become less dense.

May we live long and die out

Q: Are you really serious?
We’re really vehement. Many see humor in The Movement and think we can’t be serious about voluntary human extinction, but in spite of the seriousness of both situation and movement, there’s room for humor. In fact, without humor, Earth’s condition gets unbearably depressing—a little levity eases the gravity.

True, wildlife rapidly going extinct and tens of thousands of children dying each day [my bold-wqb] are not laughing matters, but neither laughing nor bemoaning will change what’s happening. We may as well have some fun as we work and play toward a better world. Besides, returning Earth to its natural splendor and ending needless suffering of humanity are happy thoughts—no sense moping around in gloom and doom.

Wikipedia: Child mortality
Child mortality, also known as under-5 mortality, refers to the death of infants and children under the age of five. In 2010, 7.6 million children under five died, down from 8.1 million in 2009, 8.8 million in 2008, and 12.4 million in 1990. About half of child deaths occur in Africa. Approximately 60 countries make up 94% of under five child deaths. Reduction of child mortality is the fourth of the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals.


Uploaded by agntsmth77 on May 2, 2008

Wikipedia: The Matrix
The Matrix is a 1999 American science fiction action film written and directed by Larry and Andy Wachowski. The film stars Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano, and Hugo Weaving, and was first released in the United States on March 31, 1999. The success of the film led to the release of two feature film sequels, and the Matrix franchise was further expanded through the production of comic books, video games, and animated short films.

The film depicts a future in which reality as perceived by most humans is actually a simulated reality created by sentient machines to pacify and subdue the human population, while their bodies' heat and electrical activity are used as an energy source. Upon learning this, computer programmer "Neo" is drawn into a rebellion against the machines, involving other people who have been freed from the "dream world" and into reality.

The film contains many references to the cyberpunk and hacker subcultures; philosophical and religious ideas such as René Descartes' evil genius, the Allegory of the Cave, the brain in a vat thought experiment; and homages to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Hong Kong action cinema, spaghetti westerns, dystopian fiction, and Japanese animation.


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Wednesday 11 April 2012

Level 42: Something About You

How, how can it be
That a love carved out of caring
Fashioned by fate
Could suffer so hard
From the games played once too often
But making mistakes
Is a part of life's imperfections
Born of the years
Is it so wrong
To be human after all

Drawn into the stream
Of undefined illusion
Those diamond dreams
They can't disguise the truth
That there is something about you, baby, so right
I wouldn't be without you, baby, tonight

If ever our love was concealed
No one can say that we didn't feel
A million things and a perfect dream of life
Gone, fragile but free
We remain tender together
If not so in love
It's not so wrong
We're only human after all

These changing years
They add to your confusion
Oh and you need to hear
The time that told the truth

Because there's something about you, baby, so right
I couldn't live without you, baby, tonight

And that there's something about you
And I couldn't live without you tonight


Uploaded on Dec 15, 2009 by u2exemplo

Wikipedia: Something About You (Level 42 song)
"Something About You" is a single released by British Jazz funk band Level 42 in 1985, in advance of its inclusion on the album World Machine the same year. The song was written by Mark King, Mike Lindup, Phil Gould, Boon Gould, and Wally Badarou.

Wikipedia: World Machine
World Machine is the sixth studio album by the British pop group Level 42, released in 1985. It peaked at #3 on the UK album charts, and it stayed on the chart for 72 weeks. It was the band's first disc to enter the Billboard 200 (peaking at number 18), and it stayed on the chart for 36 weeks. This release marked a transition from their jazz-funk beginnings to the funky pop they are best known for - a transition which eventually resulted in the departure of drummer Phil Gould subsequent to the release of their follow up album Running in the Family.

Wikipedia: Level 42
Level 42 are an English pop rock and jazz-funk band who had a number of worldwide and UK hits during the 1980s and 1990s. The band gained fame for their high-calibre musicianship—in particular that of Mark King, whose percussive slap-bass guitar technique provided the driving groove of many of the band's hits. The band are also known for the combination of King's lead vocals and keyboard player Mike Lindup's falsetto backing vocals.

Having been a very successful live and studio band in the 1980s, Level 42's commercial profile diminished during the early 1990s following a series of personnel changes and musical shifts. After disbanding in 1994, the band reformed in 2001.


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