Saturday Reads from Sleepy in Seattle

4554308099_8f9016ecb0_zGood Morning!

I cannot believe how tired I am at the moment but I’m going to muddle through this with you somehow.  I have all the good intentions of doing lots of things like hooking up with our Seattle Sky Dancers but so far, I’m freezing cold and exhausted.  So, let me try to find some lighter things to share … like “Revolutionizing Classical music by mixing Beethoven and Beer”.  That probably didn’t make much sense.  How about small ensembles of classical musicians playing at dive bars?

PERFORMING classical music at a dive bar that serves beer and hot dogs is an unusual concept. But Ensemble HD, a group of musicians from the Cleveland Orchestra, is packing out the city’s Happy Dog bar at their monthly live shows.

The idea for the sextet—piano, flute, oboe, violin, viola and cello—to perform at the bar came from a meeting of minds. Joshua Smith, principal flautist at the orchestra and lead member of Ensemble HD, had long been interested in reaching out to people who don’t go to classical-music concerts; and Sean Watterson, owner of Happy Dog, is similarly interested in mixing high- and low-brow culture. After leaving his finance job in New York following the financial meltdown in 2008, Mr Watterson moved back to Cleveland and transformed this rust-belt bar into a hub of cultural programming. In addition to Ensemble HD, the Happy Dog hosts monthly science lectures, regular talks from curators at the Cleveland Museum of Art and polka bands during happy hour. The venue attracts a diverse crowd: “It’s great to look over at the bar and see people in mink coats next to twentysomethings covered in tattoos and piercings,” Mr Watterson says.

So, I’m frequently writing about buried things.  Here’s an interesting twist on that from Argentina.  A town that was submerged under water for 25 years is seeing sunlight and air again.  There are some kewl pictures at the link.

A strange ghost town that spent a quarter-century under water is coming up for air again in the Argentine farmlands southwest of Argentina Underwater TownBuenos Aires. Epecuen was once a bustling little lakeside resort, where 1,500 people served 20,000 tourists a season. During Argentina’s golden age, the same trains that carried grain to the outside world brought visitors from the capital to relax in Epecuen’s saltwater baths and spas. Then a particularly heavy rainstorm followed a series of wet winters, and the lake overflowed its banks on Nov. 10, 1985. Water burst through a retaining wall and spilled into the lakeside streets. People fled with what they could, and within days their homes were submerged under nearly 33 feet of corrosive saltwater. Now the water has mostly receded, exposing what looks like a scene from a movie about the end of the world. The town hasn’t been rebuilt, but it has become a tourist destination again, for people willing to drive at least six hours from Buenos Aires to get here, along 340 miles of narrow country roads. People come to see the rusted hulks of automobiles and furniture, crumbled homes, and broken appliances. It’s a bizarre, post-apocalyptic landscape that captures a traumatic moment in time.

In keeping with that, we also have some news on Britain’s ‘Atlantis’. Dunwich is still submerged.  A storm swept a good deal of it into the sea in 1286 but it eventually was lost completely some time in the 15th century.  The storms were part of what is known as the “little ice age”.

A University of Southampton professor has carried out the most detailed analysis ever of the archaeological remains of the lost medieval town of Dunwich, dubbed ‘Britain’s Atlantis’.

Funded and supported by English Heritage, and using advanced underwater imaging techniques, the project led by Professor David Sear of Geography and Environment has produced the most accurate map to date of the town’s streets, boundaries and major buildings, and revealed new ruins on the seabed. Professor Sear worked with a team from the University’s GeoData Institute; the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton; Wessex Archaeology; and local divers from North Sea Recovery and Learn Scuba.

He comments, “Visibility under the water at Dunwich is very poor due to the muddy water. This has limited the exploration of the site.

“We have now dived on the site using high resolution DIDSON ™ acoustic imaging to examine the ruins on the seabed — a first use of this technology for non-wreck marine archaeology.

“DIDSON technology is rather like shining a torch onto the seabed, only using sound instead of light. The data produced helps us to not only see the ruins, but also understand more about how they interact with the tidal currents and sea bed.”

Peter Murphy, English Heritage’s coastal survey expert who is currently completing a national assessment of coastal heritage assets in England, says: “The loss of most of the medieval town of Dunwich over the last few hundred years — one of the most important English ports in the Middle Ages — is part of a long process that is likely to result in more losses in the future. Everyone was surprised, though, by how much of the eroded town still survives under the sea and is identifiable.

“Whilst we cannot stop the forces of nature, we can ensure what is significant is recorded and our knowledge and memory of a place doesn’t get lost forever. Professor Sear and his team have developed techniques that will be valuable to understanding submerged and eroded terrestrial sites elsewhere.”

.A crater in Siberia is revealing some interesting things about a very warm earth and the future of climate change

The future of a globally warmed world has been revealed in a remote meteorite crater in Siberia, where lake sediments recorded the strikingly balmy climate of the Arctic during the last period when greenhouse gas levels were as high as today.

Unchecked burning of fossil fuels has driven carbon dioxide to levels not seen for 3 million years when, the sediments show, temperatures were 14.4 degrees Fahrenheit higher than today*, lush forests covered the tundra and sea levels were up to 40 meters higher than today.

“It’s like deja vu,” said Prof Julie Brigham-Grette, at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, who led the new research analyzing a core of sediment to see what temperatures in the region were between 3.6 and 2.2 million years ago. “We have seen these warm periods before. Many people now agree this is where we are heading.”
“It shows a huge warming—unprecedented in human history,” said Prof Scott Elias, at Royal Holloway University of London, and not involved in the work. “It is a frightening experiment we are conducting with our climate.”

The sediments have been slowly settling in Lake El’gygytgyn since it was formed 3.6 million years ago, when a kilometer-wide meteorite blasted a crater 100 kilometers north of the Arctic circle. Unlike most places so far north, the region was never eroded by glaciers so a continuous record of the climate has lain undisturbed ever since. “It’s a phenomenal record,” said Prof Peter Sammonds, at University College London. “It is also an incredible achievement [the study’s work], given the remoteness of the lake.” Sixteen shipping containers of equipment had to be hauled 90 kilometers over snow by bulldozers from the nearest ice road, used by gold miners.

Previous research on land had revealed glimpses of the Arctic climate and ocean sediments had recorded the marine climate, but the disparate data are not consistent with one another. “Lake El’gygytgyn may be the only place in the world that has this incredible unbroken record of sediments going back millions of years,” said Elias. “When you have a very long record it is very different to argue with.”

The new research, published in the journal Science, also sheds light on a crucial question for climate scientists: how sensitive is the Earth’s climate to increases in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere?

From Baltimore we have another disturbing story about police: “You want to film something b**ch? Film this!” Balitimore police beat a woman for filming a beating.

Baltimore police beat up a woman and smashed her camera for filming them beating up a man, telling her: “You want to film something bitch? Film this!” the woman claims in court.

Makia Smith sued the Baltimore Police Department, Police Commissioner Anthony Batts and police Officers Nathan Church, William Pilkerton, Jr., Nathan Ulmer and Kenneth Campbell in Federal Court.

Smith claims she was stuck in stand-still rush hour traffic in northern Baltimore when she saw the defendant officers beating up and arresting a young man.

She says pulled out her camera, stood on her car’s door sill and filmed the beating.

“Officer Church saw plaintiff filming the beating and ran at her,” the complaint states. “He scared her and she sat back in her vehicle. As he ran at her, he yelled, ‘You want to film something bitch? Film this!’

“Officer Church reached into plaintiff’s car and grabbed her telephone-camera out of her hand, threw it to the ground and destroyed it by smashing it with his foot.

“Officer Church pulled plaintiff out of her car by her hair and beat her. Officers Pilkerton, Ulmer, and Campbell then ran to plaintiff’s car and joined Officer Church in beating plaintiff and arrested her using excessive force. At all times described herein, plaintiff’s two year old daughter witnessed her mother’s beating and arrest by the Officers, as did others.”

Smith claims the cops taunted her and threatened to take her daughter away. She says they refused to call her mother to her toddler.

“The officers, despite the pleas of plaintiff, refused to call plaintiff’s mother. Instead, the officers tormented plaintiff by telling her that her daughter would be taken from her and sent to Social Services. Seeing plaintiff’s distressful reaction to these tormenting threats, they continued,” the complaint states.

Fed Chair Ben Bernanke is worried about Wall Street.

The bulls are running on Wall Street, but the chief of America’s central bank worries that the market remains dangerously fragile. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke explained why on Friday, May 10, in a speech in Chicago at the Fed’s branch there.

Here are five things that nag at Bernanke, in his own words.

1. Times may be too good. There is an “apparent tendency for financial market participants to take greater risks when macro conditions are relatively stable. Indeed, it may be that prolonged economic stability is a double-edged sword.” Stability “could … reduce the incentives for market participants to take reasonable precautions.”

2. Securities lending remains problematic. The financial crisis revealed that borrowing by securities broker-dealers “is potentially quite fragile.” In the crisis, “Borrowers unable to meet margin calls and finance their asset holdings were forced to sell, driving down asset prices further and setting off a cycle of deleveraging and further asset liquidation.”

3. Money market funds are still vulnerable.“The risk is increased by the fact that the Treasury no longer has the power to guarantee investors’ holdings in money funds, an authority that was critical for stopping the 2008 run.”

4. A default in the repo market would be no fun. This is kind of like point No. 2, except that here, Bernanke is focusing on so-called triparty repo. Repo lending is short-term lending that’s secured with collateral such as bonds. Triparty repo is where a big bank—usually JPMorgan Chase (JPM) or Bank of New York Mellon (BK)—stands between the borrower and lender, clearing the transaction. “More work is needed to better prepare investors and other market participants to deal with the potential consequences of a default by a large participant in the repo market.”

5. The rising tide hasn’t lifted all boats. “Gains in household net worth have been concentrated among wealthier households, while many households in the middle or lower parts of the distribution have experienced declines in wealth since the crisis. Moreover, many homeowners remain ‘underwater,’ with their homes worth less than the principal balances on their mortgages. Thus, more detailed information clarifies that many households remain more financially fragile than might be inferred from the aggregate statistics alone.”

Here’s something to make economists think:  Markets erode moral values;  Researchers from the Universities of Bamberg and Bonn present causal evidence on how markets affect moral values.

Prof. Dr. Armin Falk from the University of Bonn and Prof. Dr. Nora Szech from the University of Bamberg, both economists, have shown in an experiment that markets erode moral concerns. In comparison to non-market decisions, moral standards are significantly lower if people participate in markets.

In markets, people ignore their individual moral standards

“Our results show that market participants violate their own moral standards,” says Prof. Falk. In a number of different experiments, several hundred subjects were confronted with the moral decision between receiving a monetary amount and killing a mouse versus saving the life of a mouse and foregoing the monetary amount. “It is important to understand what role markets and other institutions play in moral decision making. This is a question economists have to deal with,” says Prof. Szech.

“To study immoral outcomes, we studied whether people are willing to harm a third party in exchange to receiving money. Harming others in an intentional and unjustified way is typically considered unethical,” says Prof. Falk. The animals involved in the study were so-called “surplus mice”, raised in laboratories outside Germany. These mice are no longer needed for research purposes. Without the experiment, they would have all been killed. As a consequence of the study many hundreds of young mice that would otherwise all have died were saved. If a subject decided to save a mouse, the experimenters bought the animal. The saved mice are perfectly healthy and live under best possible lab conditions and medical care.

With that, I will end and turn the discussion to you. What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


47 Comments on “Saturday Reads from Sleepy in Seattle”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Is it really Saturday? I’m all mixed up about what day it is. Hope you get rested up before you have to go back home, Dak!

    Some creepy news to start the day from Wired:

    Biometric Database of All Adult Americans Hidden in Immigration Reform

    • I spent most of the day yesterday thinking it was Monday.

      Sounds like you are having fun Dak.

      BB, Emptywheel has a good post up: The Ongoing Tsarnaev Investigation | emptywheel Have you seen it?

      • bostonboomer says:

        No. I looked, but none of it is new to me. I’ve probably read every single thing that has been written about it.

        Yesterday I saw Emptywheel on twitter wondering why the Cambridge PD wasn’t checking up on Tamerlan. Hahahahahahaha! The Cambridge PD is a joke! I love all these people who have never been near Boston and think they know everything.

        She calls the T (subway) the “commuter rail.” Unless she’s referring to trains that come into Boston from the northern suburbs.

        She writes:

        And what do authorities mean when they say their phones “put them in the area”? Is Cambridge the area, or just the Waltham neighborhood? Finally, while authorities might be really pushed to implicate Dzhokhar as well as Tamerlan, the piece notes that up to know they’ve believed there was just one killer.

        Not true. The DA announced on the day the bodies were found that they were looking for two killers and that they had witnesses that two other people were in the apt before the killings.

        She has no idea where Cambridge is in relation to Waltham. Cambridge is quite a distance away and of course could not be considered “in the area.”

        I wish Sky Dancers were interested in the story, because it is huge, strange, and fascinating. I need to find someplace where I can write about it and discuss it besides twitter. Much of Emptywheel’s post is what I wrote about yesterday.

      • bostonboomer says:

        That’s interesting. I thought today was Monday.

      • NW Luna says:

        BB, do write about this case and post your writings here. I like the mix of topics at SkyDancing. If something’s well-researched and well-written, it’s worth reading.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Thanks Luna, but I’ve written about it here several times–including startling breaking news yesterday–and there has been little interest, at least in terms of discussion. One problem is that the story has become very complex and difficult to write about without providing lots of background info. That’s a lot of work to do, knowing there won’t be any interest/discussion.

        I understand that this story may not be that compelling to people from other parts of the country who haven’t been following it closely, but it’s pretty much all I’m interested in right now. It ties in with important stories about CIA/FBI domestic surveillance and and use of informants as well as the Bush and Obama administrations’ foreign policy decisions and U.S.-Russia relations.

        I’ll probably continue to include it in my morning posts from time to time since it’s my primary interest right now. And I commented a couple of times at Emptywheel’s blog.

        • Remember what I said BB about the rest of the nation moving on, but while you are right in the thick of it, you will get constant information. That was how it was with WTC…it was upsetting to us because people seemed to pass over to the next big news story, when all the while, things still were chaos downtown.

      • bostonboomer says:

        I must say, I’m also fascinated by the criminal investigation down in West, TX also.

      • roofingbird says:

        How are your nephews holding up? I can’t help but think they are lucky to have you in their life now.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Oh, they’re fine. I don’t think they know much. The older one did say something about “terrorists” while playing Minecraft recently…. LOL I don’t think he really knows what that means.

      • jawbone says:

        Why not write about the Maraton Bombing investigation here? I’m really interested. Thanks for your input about emptywheel’s analysis.

      • bostonboomer says:

        I have written about it here. I wrote about it yesterday.

    • dakinikat says:

      I’d be better if it wasn’t so cold. My sister has the a/c set to 72 and that’s about the time I turn on the furnace.

      • dakinikat says:

        I reset it to 76 but the downstairs is like an ice box.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Why don’t you just turn on the furnace?

        • dakinikat says:

          Everything she owns is new and extremely complex. I’m not sure I know how to reprogram her thermastat. It is supposed to be warm today but it doesn’t warm up until the haze disappears. I would sit in front of the oven for awhile but I can’t figure out how to program that to work either.

      • RalphB says:

        That sound like when I visit my son’s place. High tech isn’t great if you don’t ever use it.

      • bostonboomer says:


      • roofingbird says:

        Buy some silk long johns. They fit under everything, take up little space, and are surprisingly warm. Try Eddie Bauer. Even nylon stockings will help.

  2. Delphyne says:

    The link for the Baltimore cops beating the woman goes to another AlterNet article.

  3. Fannie says:

    Hope you are having a great time Dak. Always look forward to your fascination with buried things. As of late, I have had two deaths, one was a 88 year old woman that I wrote about here a couple winters ago, she had fallen into the donut hole, and I was trying to address that issue.
    I know you wouldn’t think it’s sick, but I had a dream about my own coffin, it was rather pleasant dream. If I keep repeating it, I’ll be a little more worried…………..haha.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I’m sorry to hear that Fannie. My mom will be 88 in June. I’m hoping she sticks around for a few more years.

      • Fannie says:

        Hope she lives a long time. Just this morning, I put my mother’s handmade quilt on the bed, and her embroidered pillow cases……….both have her name sewed into it. Love to have those memories on Mother’s Day…………she always said “a woman’s work is never done”.

        My grandfather died on father’s day, my dad died on Mother’s Day, and Mom died on my Dad’s birthday………
        You never forget those dates…………….

        Another thing I might mention, back in the day, if a woman was pregnant there was alot of pressure to send her away, and force her to give up the baby. As would have it, my friend ended up marrying the father of that baby, and had a house full of kids………..minus the one she was forced to give up in order to save the family’s name.

    • NW Luna says:

      I read in something by Thich Nhat Hanh that it used to be traditional in Viet Nam to order your coffin before it was needed. Then people would lay down in their coffins to test the fit, and remark on the good workmanship. So not to worry, Fannie!

  4. NW Luna says:

    Oh my goodness, Dak, You write a great post, recover from air travel, deal with a strange house, and tutor on-line at the same time. My head swims.

    The Bellevue area tends to run a few degrees colder than Seattle — further inland. A/C at 72? That is awfully low. And it’s got to be a newer place — nobody used to put A/C in houses here. I hate digital programming gadgets — what’s the matter with a simple dial?

    Here in my area of Seattle now it’s colder inside than outside — the house I’m in doesn’t warm up well nor get much direct sun on the ground floor. It’s a rental house — we’re remodeling and the floors, kitchen and bath are ripped up: seemed a good idea to move out for a while. So I’m outside on the porch using my laptop. Sounds nice but actually not too comfortable. Precarious if I try to pet the cat or drink tea or write a note — the laptop starts to slip off.

    Bernanke — “Times may be too good.” Riiiiight. He moves in rarified circles. I don’t know anyone who feels times are too good now.

    • RalphB says:

      I think Bernanke is right and times are too good on the stock market. Not that it reflects the test of the economy anymore.

      • bostonboomer says:


        Have you heard anything new about that guy in West, TX?

      • RalphB says:

        No I haven’t really. The story is just weird and coming out in tiny pieces I think,

      • bostonboomer says:

        I read something a little while ago that said the guy was busted because someone got bomb making materials (or something) from him. That person turned him in. He was also fired a couple of days after the explosion but no one will say why. It is very strange.

      • RalphB says:

        I saw that and his issues as a paramedic with Childrens Hospital in Dallas where he is on leave for an unspecified reason. I’m waiting to hear from his wife and why she left him after the blast? Seems he’s an unstable guy who’s been upended by everything or he bombed the plant for attention? Too little info now.

      • bostonboomer says:

        I didn’t hear about the children’s hospital thing. Weird. First the meth ingredients thefts, now this. Curiouser and curiouser.

      • RalphB says:

        At first I thought they just caught a guy who was playing with explosives but now it looks a lot worse to me.

      • bostonboomer says:

        I get the feeling something really creepy is going on.

  5. NW Luna says:

    This could be very cool, although it’s years away from use with humans:

    A way through the blood-brain barrier?

    Stumped for years by a natural filter in the body that allows few substances, including lifesaving drugs, to enter the brain through the bloodstream, physicians who treat neurological diseases may soon have a new pathway to the organ via a technique developed by a physicist and an immunologist working together at Florida International University’s Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine.

    The FIU researchers developed the technique to deliver and fully release the anti-HIV drug AZTTP into the brain, but their finding has the potential to also help patients who suffer from neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and epilepsy, as well as cancer. ….

    In an in-vitro laboratory test with HIV-infected cells, Nair and a colleague, Sakhrat Khizroev, a professor of immunology and electrical engineering, attached the antiretroviral drug AZTTP to tiny, magneto-electric nanoparticles. Then, using magnetic energy, they guided the drug across a cell membrane created in the lab to mimic the blood-brain barrier found in the human body.

  6. NW Luna says:

    Forming human chains and using metal barriers, Israeli police held back thousands of ultraorthodox protesters who tried to prevent a liberal Jewish women’s group from praying at a sensitive holy site Friday, the first time police have come down on the side of the women and not the protesters.

    The reversal followed a court order backing the right of the women to pray at the Western Wall using religious rituals that Orthodox Jews insist should be practiced only by men.

    Wearing prayer shawls, phylacteries and skull caps traditionally reserved for men under strict Orthodox tenets, the women sang and prayed out loud. A girl celebrating her Bat Mitzvah was hoisted on a chair as the women danced, clapping their hands and singing. A short distance away, ultraorthodox men yelled obscenities and scuffled with police. Some cursed and spat at the women and threw chairs and other objects.

    Because, ya know, god he doesn’t like the uppity wimmens.

  7. NW Luna says:

    From the Department of Closing the Barn Door after the Horses have Gotten Away:

    Plastic-gun creator told to take blueprints off website

    U.S. officials have told the Texas creator of a plastic gun that was made from a 3-D printer and successfully test-fired last weekend to take down online blueprints for the weapon.

    The move by the State Department, under its authority to review arms exports, followed the posting of an online video by Defense Distributed showing a demonstration of its handgun, the Liberator. The gun, which looks like a water pistol but fires a .380-caliber bullet, was almost entirely made on a printer that can fabricate solid objects from blueprints. A regular nail was used as a firing pin.

    Cody Wilson, a founder of Defense Distributed, an Austin nonprofit corporation, said he had complied with the government request, but that he and his attorneys were reviewing their options and talking to a number of organizations that support open access to information about challenging any ongoing ban. In the case of the Liberator, the State Department’s request came after 100,000 downloads of instructions on how to make the gun. Those plans have since been uploaded to file-sharing sites beyond the reach of the U.S. government.

    • jawbone says:

      i heard the guy who posted these plans on a BBC interview when I couldn’t sleep Thursday night. The interviewer had genuine surprise in his voice when he tried to ask Wilson why he would want to allow untraceable guns as they’re essentially deadly weapons. He then asked why he felt it necessary to have these plans on the internet.

      Was he pushing for a court decision extending the 2nd Amendment right to “bear arms”? Was he pushing what could be posted on the web?
      What was the basis for his decision?

      Wilson just danced around and around, but the interviewer would not let him get away without answering. Finally, after a longish pause, sounding as if the answer were being dragged out of him, Wilson said he did this because he is a strong Libertarian and believes the government should have no control over his freedoms, freedom of speech and freedom of gun rights.

      Most interesting were the tones of both men. The interviewer going after the answer to his questions and Wilson trying to not get into his Libertarianism.

      • bostonboomer says:


      • RalphB says:

        A couple of those guys from UT used to do a radio show on a local station on Saturday morning. They were nuts, more anarchist than libertarian, though they called themselves libertarians. They were conspiracy nuts and sold survivalist books and junk.

  8. bostonboomer says:

    Uh oh….

    Ruth Bader Ginsburg says Roe v. Wade ruling is flawed.

    Ginsburg told an audience Saturday at the University of Chicago Law School that while she supports a woman’s right to choose, she feels the ruling by her predecessors on the court was too sweeping and gave abortion opponents a symbol to target. Ever since, she said, the momentum has been on the other side, with anger over Roe fueling a state-by-state campaign that has placed more restrictions on abortion.

    “That was my concern, that the court had given opponents of access to abortion a target to aim at relentlessly,” she told a crowd of students. “… My criticism of Roe is that it seemed to have stopped the momentum that was on the side of change.”

    The ruling is also a disappointment to a degree, Ginsburg said, because it was not argued in weighty terms of advancing women’s rights. Rather, the Roe opinion, written by Justice Harry Blackmun, centered on the right to privacy and asserted that it extended to a woman’s decision on whether to end a pregnancy.