Monthly Archives: August 2012

Your Heart is an Empty Room.


Burn it down till the embers smoke on the ground
And start new when your heart is an empty room
With walls of the deepest blue

Home’s face: how it ages when you’re away
Spring blooms and you find the love that’s true
But you don’t know what now to do
Cause the chase is all you know
And she stopped running months ago

And all you see is where else you could be When you’re at home
And out on the street Are so many possibilities to not be alone

The flames and smoke climbed out of every window
And disappeared with everything that you held dear <———-
But you shed not a single tear for the things that you didn’t need
Cause you knew you were finally free

Cause all you see is where else you could be, When you’re at home
Out on the street are so many possibilities to not be alone
And all you see is where else you could be,
when you’re at home,
There on the street,
are so many possibilities to not be alone

The Depth of the Ocean in Perspective


The Depth Of The Ocean In Perspective

a59N7 The Depth Of The Ocean In Perspective


The Mariana Trench is the deepest part of the Earth’s ocean and is also the lowest point on the Earth’s crust. It is estimated to be 10,971 m (35,994 ft) deep and is located in the western Pacific Ocean. It reaches a maximum-known depth of about 10.91 kilometres (6.78 mi) at the Challenger Deep, a small slot-shaped valley in its floor, although some unrepeated measurements place the deepest portion at 11.03 kilometres (6.85 mi). If Mount Everest was set in the deepest part of the Mariana Trench, there would be 2,076 metres (6,811 ft) of water left above it.

Guilty of Being Poor


Guilty of Being Poor

Eric Ruder
Dissident Voice
April 25, 2009

The jailers of the 19th century — even in the pre-Civil War South — largely abandoned the practice of imprisoning people for falling into debt as counterproductive and ultimately barbaric. In the 1970s and ’80s, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed that incarcerating people who can’t pay fines because of poverty violates the U.S. Constitution.

  Welcome to the debtors’ prisons of the 21st century.

Apparently, though, some states and county jails never got the memo. Welcome to the debtors’ prisons of the 21st century.

“Edwina Nowlin, a poor Michigan resident, was ordered to reimburse a juvenile detention center $104 a month for holding her 16-year-old son,” the New York Times wrote in an editorial.

“When she explained to the court that she could not afford to pay, Ms. Nowlin was sent to prison. The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, which helped get her out last week after she spent 28 days behind bars, says it is seeing more people being sent to jail because they cannot make various court-ordered payments. That is both barbaric and unconstitutional.”

The details of Nowlin’s case are even more alarming than the Times editorial suggests. Not only was Nowlin under orders to pay a fine stemming from someone else’s actions, but she had been laid off from work and lost her home at the time she was ordered to “reimburse” the county for her son’s detention.

Despite her inability to pay, she was held in contempt of court and ordered to serve a 30-day sentence. On March 6, three days after she was incarcerated, she was released for one day to work. She also picked up her paycheck, in the amount of $178.53. This, she thought, could be used to pay the $104, and she would be released from jail.

But when she got back to the jail, the sheriff told her to sign her check over to the county — to pay $120 for her own room and board, and $22 for a drug test and booking fee.

Even more absurd, Nowlin requested but was denied a court-appointed lawyer. So because she was too poor to afford a lawyer and denied her constitutional right to have the court provide one for her, she couldn’t fight the contempt charge that stemmed from her poverty. And her contempt conviction only added to her poverty, as the fines and fees she was obligated to pay now multiplied.

“Like many people in these desperate economic times, Ms. Nowlin was laid off from work, lost her home and is destitute,” said Michael Steinberg, legal director of the Michigan ACLU. “Jailing her because of her poverty is not only unconstitutional, it’s unconscionable and a shameful waste of resources. It is not a crime to be poor in this country, and the government must stop resurrecting debtor’s prisons from the dustbin of history.”

Michigan isn’t the only place where you can be imprisoned for the crime of involuntary poverty. The same Catch-22 ensnares poor defendants daily in courtrooms across the country.

In 2006, the Southern Center for Human Rights (SCHR) filed a suit on behalf of Ora Lee Hurley, who couldn’t get out of prison until she had enough money to pay a $705 fine. But she couldn’t pay the fine because she had to pay the Georgia Department of Corrections $600 a month for room and board, and spend $76 a month on public transportation, laundry and food.


She was released five days a week to work at the K&K Soul Food restaurant, where she earned $6.50 an hour, which netted her about $700 a month after taxes. Hurley was trapped in prison for eight months beyond her initial 120-day sentence until the Southern Center intervened. Over the course of her incarceration, she earned about $7,000, but she never had enough at one time to pay off her $705 fine.

“This is a situation where if this woman was able to write a check for the amount of the fine, she would be out of there,” Sarah Geraghty, a SCHR lawyer, told the Atlanta Journal Constitution while Hurley was still imprisoned. “And because she can’t, she’s still in custody. It’s as simple as that.”

Georgia also lets for-profit probation companies prey on people too poor to pay their traffic violations and court fees. According to a 2008 SCHR report entitled “Profiting from the poor”:

In courts around Georgia, people who are charged with misdemeanors and cannot pay their fines that day in court are placed on probation under the supervision of private, for-profit companies until they pay off their fines. On probation, they must pay these companies substantial monthly “supervision fees” that may double or triple the amount that a person of means would pay for the same offense.

For example, a person of means may pay $200 for a traffic ticket on the day of court and be done with it, while a person too poor to pay that day is placed on probation and ends up paying $500 or more for the same offense.

The privatization of misdemeanor probation has placed unprecedented law enforcement authority in the hands of for-profit companies that act essentially as collection agencies. These companies, focused on profit rather than public safety or rehabilitation, are not designed to supervise people or connect them to services and jobs. Rather, they charge exorbitant monthly fees and use the threat of imprisonment and a variety of bullying tactics to squeeze money out of the men and women under their supervision.

For too many poor people convicted of misdemeanors, our state is not living up to the constitutional promise of equal justice under law.

In Gulfport, Miss., the municipal court started a “fine collection task force” to crack down on people who owed fees for misdemeanors. According to the SCHR Web site:

The task force trolled through predominantly African American neighborhoods, rounding up people who had outstanding court fines. After arresting and jailing them, the City of Gulfport processed these people through a court proceeding at which no defense attorney was present or even offered.

Many people were jailed for months after hearings lasting just seconds. While the city collected money, it also packed the jail with hundreds of people who couldn’t pay, including people who were sick, physically disabled and/or limited by mental disabilities.

The disregard of the justice system for the rights of poor people to equal protection and due process is cause for outrage. But it shouldn’t come as a surprise in an era when the government spends billions bailing out banks while letting foreclosures and unemployment ruin the lives of working people.

We need to build a movement, like the working-class struggles of the 1930s, that can demand an end to the inhuman practice of incarcerating people for no other crime than finding themselves at the bottom of the social ladder.

Touching a Boo-Boo Really Does Make It Feel Better


Touching a Boo-Boo Really Does Make It Feel Better

pain-flickr-RacchioClutching an injury does make it feel better, according to a study published in Current Biology, reducing the pain on average 64 percent. But only if the injured party is the one doing the clutching (insert your own self-touching joke here). It doesn’t work if someone else does it.

Study coauthor Marjolein Kammers explained to the Daily Mail what this means:

“Pain isn’t just the signals coming from the body to the brain, but it is also the way the brain processes those signals,” she said.

To test this, the Kammers and her team used a classical pain test called the thermal grill illusion, which causes pain without injuring someone. It creates a pain sensation by exploiting the brain’s natural interpretation of mixed signals.

The researchers dunked each subjects’ two hands in to water of different temperatures (no, they did not wet the bed) to cause the sensation. The index and ring fingers were stuck into warm water (109 degrees Fahrenheit) and the middle fingers into cool water (57 degrees Fahrenheit). The brain interprets this as a majorly painful dip in HOT water for the middle fingers.

After the painful stimulus a researcher either held the subject’s hands, let the subject press their hands together, or only let the subject touch one or two of their fingers together. Lead researcher Patrick Haggard told BBC News that subjects gained the most relief from pressing their two hands together, and that this touch was enough to update the brain’s map of the body:

“We showed that levels of acute pain depend not just on the signals sent to the brain, but also on how the brain integrates these signals into a coherent representation of the body as a whole.”

The map helps your brain process the pain, but we aren’t sure how this works, Kammers told Nature:

“We don’t fully understand yet all the brain mechanisms that underlie the creation of the body representation, or how the brain maintains the current state of the body,” she says. “We think the reason why full touch works is that you need lots of sensory channels to update” the representation.

This mental body map also seems to play a role in phantom limb pain, when an amputee feels pain coming from their missing limb. One treatment of such amputees is placing them in a mirror box so it looks like they have two limbs; this allows them to move and stretch the non-existent limb, which can trick the brain into thinking the limb isn’t in pain.

Related content:
Discoblog: Bizarre Disorder Makes People Want to Sever Their Own Limbs
80beats: Phantom Limbs Can Move in Anatomically Impossible Ways
Not Exactly Rocket Science: When pain is pleasant
Not Exactly Rocket Science: Racial bias weakens our ability to feel someone else’s pain
DISCOVER: Touching the Phantom

Image: Flickr/Racchio

The Neurobiology and Psychology that Connect Summer Vacation with your Morning Run


The neurobiology and psychology that connect summer vacation with your morning run

By at 9:58 am Thursday, Aug 23

Time is relative. Remember how each day in grade school (especially summer days) seemed to last for an eternity? Ever notice how it seems to take forever to travel a new route on your bike, while the return trip along the same path is done in the blink of an eye?

Turns out, both of those things are connected and they have important implications for the nature of memory. There’s a great summary of the science on this up at The Irish Times. It’s written by William Reville, emeritus professor of biochemistry at University College Cork.

The key issue, according to Reville, is that the amount of information your brain can store during a given time period isn’t really dependent on the length of that time period. You could store up a lot of new information during 10 minutes of a really interesting lecture. You might store only a little new information during 10 minutes of walking your dog along a path you know very well.

The higher the intensity, the longer the duration seems to be. In a classic experiment, participants were asked to memorise either a simple [a circle] or complex figure . Although the clock-time allocated to each task was identical, participants later estimated the duration of memorising the complex shape to be significantly longer than for the simple shape.

… [H]ere is a “guaranteed” way to lengthen your life. Childhood holidays seem to last forever, but as you grow older time seems to accelerate. “Time” is related to how much information you are taking in – information stretches time. A child’s day from 9am to 3.30pm is like a 20-hour day for an adult. Children experience many new things every day and time passes slowly, but as people get older they have fewer new experiences and time is less stretched by information. So, you can “lengthen” your life by minimising routine and making sure your life is full of new active experiences – travel to new places, take on new interests, and spend more time living in the present.

I think this also has some implications for my exercise routine. I am well aware that my ability to run any distance at all is heavily dependent on psychological factors. I am not one of those people who likes to go running in new places, along unfamiliar trails, because it has always made me feel like the distance was much, much longer — and, consequently, leads me to stop running and start walking sooner than I actually have to. I’ve had a lot more luck running on tracks and elliptical machines—situations where it seems to be easier for me to get into a zone and lose track of time. When I run that way, it’s my physical limitations that matter, not my psychological ones.

Of course, I know a lot of people who feel exactly the opposite. Maybe, for those people, running in a routine situation, like a track, makes them start to think more about their day or what’s going on around them, and processing all that information makes the workout seem longer. I’m not sure. But this is awfully interesting.

Read the rest of William Reville’s piece at The Irish Times

Via Graham Farmelo

Dems vs. Republicans- Top Donors


Top Overall Donors

Breakdown to display:

NOTE: Highlighted organizations have inconsistent distributions between their support of Democrats/Republicans and Liberal/Conservative Outside Spending groups.

      To Candidates and Parties To Outside Spending Groups
Rank Contributor Total Contribs Total Dem% Repub% Total
1   Adelson Drug Clinic $22,081,600 $81,600 0% 100% $22,000,000
2   Las Vegas Sands $20,493,350 $743,350 0% 100% $19,750,000
3   Contran Corp $19,120,800 $405,800 18% 82% $18,715,000
4   Perry Homes $12,173,900 $173,900 1% 99% $12,000,000
5   National Education Assn $6,806,542 $1,172,392 93% 7% $5,634,150
6   Goldman Sachs $5,448,003 $4,608,003 27% 73% $840,000
7   Service Employees International Union $5,013,592 $1,045,323 100% 0% $3,968,269
8   Bain Capital $4,678,878 $1,428,878 42% 58% $3,250,000
9   American Fedn of St/Cnty/Munic Employees $4,235,500 $2,220,250 100% 0% $2,015,250
10   National Assn of Realtors $4,069,474 $2,249,698 46% 54% $1,819,776
11   Clarium Capital Management $3,787,200 $52,200 5% 95% $3,735,000
12   Crow Holdings $3,732,600 $597,600 0% 100% $3,135,000
13   American Federation of Teachers $3,392,050 $1,442,050 100% 0% $1,950,000
14   Newsweb Corp $3,351,500 $101,500 100% 0% $3,250,000
15   Comcast Corp $3,321,391 $3,320,891 66% 34% $500
16   Oxbow Corp $3,073,950 $73,950 1% 99% $3,000,000
17   AT&T Inc $3,004,506 $2,983,056 36% 64% $21,450
18   AFL-CIO $2,873,411 $463,354 68% 32% $2,410,057
19   JW Childs Assoc $2,809,250 $184,250 2% 98% $2,625,000
20   Operating Engineers Union $2,742,828 $2,517,328 81% 19% $225,500
21   Communications Workers of America $2,741,050 $1,051,079 98% 2% $1,689,971
22   Blackstone Group $2,727,124 $2,527,124 45% 55% $200,000
23   Chartwell Partners $2,723,600 $123,600 0% 100% $2,600,000
24   Cooperative of American Physicians $2,699,245 $110,900 52% 48% $2,588,345
25   Intl Brotherhood of Electrical Workers $2,686,896 $2,021,897 97% 3% $664,999
26   National Air Traffic Controllers Assn $2,663,820 $1,213,820 60% 40% $1,450,000
27   Friess Assoc $2,598,889 $188,889 2% 98% $2,410,000
28   Honeywell International $2,575,583 $2,571,083 38% 62% $4,500
29   Bank of America $2,559,887 $2,477,887 27% 73% $82,000
30   Microsoft Corp $2,548,303 $2,546,153 69% 31% $2,150
31   Club for Growth $2,547,056 $2,480,084 0% 100% $66,972
32   American Assn for Justice $2,485,924 $2,015,924 97% 3% $470,000
33   Dreamworks Animation SKG $2,466,100 $341,100 99% 1% $2,125,000
34   Blue Cross/Blue Shield $2,412,732 $2,412,321 32% 68% $411
35   JPMorgan Chase & Co $2,393,832 $2,381,171 39% 61% $12,661
36   Citadel Investment Group $2,368,325 $314,825 18% 82% $2,053,500
37   EMILY’s List $2,363,007 $2,041,028 100% 0% $321,979
38   Renaissance Technologies $2,348,150 $498,150 59% 41% $1,850,000
39   National Beer Wholesalers Assn $2,342,750 $2,342,750 40% 60% $0
40   Deloitte LLP $2,340,174 $2,340,174 33% 67% $0
41   Elliott Assoc $2,331,140 $331,140 0% 100% $2,000,000
42   Teamsters Union $2,295,680 $1,475,680 97% 3% $820,000
43   Alliance Resource Partners $2,280,350 $180,350 0% 100% $2,100,000
44   Dore Energy $2,265,832 $15,832 21% 79% $2,250,000
45   Huntsman Corp $2,253,139 $31,100 0% 100% $2,222,039
46   TRT Holdings $2,252,500 $117,500 0% 100% $2,135,000
47   National Assn of Letter Carriers $2,247,000 $1,247,000 97% 3% $1,000,000
48   Morgan Stanley $2,246,324 $2,242,724 35% 65% $3,600
49   Lockheed Martin $2,245,410 $2,244,410 38% 62% $1,000
50   Laborers Union $2,088,996 $1,197,715 85% 15% $891,281
51   Wells Fargo $2,061,402 $2,056,952 34% 66% $4,450
52   Boeing Co $2,059,023 $2,058,523 41% 59% $500
53   Berkshire Hathaway $2,040,090 $1,902,590 33% 67% $137,500
54   New York Life Insurance $2,026,526 $2,026,526 43% 57% $0
55   Euclidean Capital $2,022,500 $22,500 78% 22% $2,000,000
56   UNITE HERE $2,017,178 $1,017,178 95% 5% $1,000,000
57   Plumbers/Pipefitters Union $1,962,750 $1,607,750 94% 6% $355,000
58   FreedomWorks $1,960,330 $3,800 0% 100% $1,956,530
59   General Electric $1,956,883 $1,953,633 37% 63% $3,250
60   Northrop Grumman $1,945,443 $1,940,693 44% 56% $4,750
61   Credit Union National Assn $1,938,700 $1,938,700 47% 53% $0
62   PriceWaterhouseCoopers $1,934,280 $1,934,280 27% 73% $0
63   Akin, Gump et al $1,879,211 $1,844,211 67% 33% $35,000
64   Verizon Communications $1,869,238 $1,868,938 46% 54% $300
65   American Bankers Assn $1,809,550 $1,809,550 22% 78% $0
66   National Auto Dealers Assn $1,805,000 $1,805,000 28% 72% $0
67   Citigroup Inc $1,801,161 $1,643,795 47% 53% $157,366
68   WPP Group $1,795,631 $1,780,631 53% 47% $15,000
69   Mostyn Law Firm $1,774,441 $149,441 100% 0% $1,625,000
70   Paulson & Co $1,725,650 $725,650 0% 100% $1,000,000
71   Carpenters & Joiners Union $1,722,500 $1,347,500 85% 15% $375,000
72   Every Republican Is Crucial PAC $1,711,000 $1,681,000 0% 100% $30,000
73   Koch Industries $1,691,002 $1,681,002 2% 98% $10,000
74   American Crystal Sugar $1,682,000 $1,679,500 56% 44% $2,500
75   American Postal Workers Union $1,647,050 $1,142,050 98% 2% $505,000
76   Marriott International $1,646,472 $646,472 21% 79% $1,000,000
77   DLA Piper $1,645,705 $1,635,705 74% 26% $10,000
78   Google Inc $1,639,154 $1,635,654 75% 25% $3,500
79   Credit Suisse Group $1,598,460 $1,498,210 28% 72% $100,250
80   United Food & Commercial Workers Union $1,594,770 $1,283,770 100% 0% $311,000
81   Kirkland & Ellis $1,572,296 $1,551,296 48% 52% $21,000
82   Raytheon Co $1,545,952 $1,545,452 38% 62% $500
83   Sheet Metal Workers Union $1,540,035 $1,392,185 95% 5% $147,850
84   United Parcel Service $1,529,849 $1,519,148 34% 66% $10,701
85   Republican Governors Assn $1,519,105 $500 0% 100% $1,518,605
86   Aquinas Companies $1,518,542 $3,500 0% 100% $1,515,042
87   Exxon Mobil $1,518,259 $1,500,831 9% 91% $17,428
88   Geier Group $1,516,000 $166,000 0% 100% $1,350,000
89   International Assn of Fire Fighters $1,512,850 $1,262,850 81% 19% $250,000
90   UBS AG $1,511,766 $1,510,266 45% 55% $1,500
91   The Villages $1,511,162 $532,762 0% 100% $978,400
92   National Rural Electric Cooperative Assn $1,506,190 $1,506,190 33% 67% $0
93   American Assn of Orthopaedic Surgeons $1,466,000 $1,461,000 25% 75% $5,000
94   Freedom Project $1,457,000 $1,447,000 0% 100% $10,000
95   Machinists/Aerospace Workers Union $1,439,670 $1,439,670 98% 2% $0
96   Time Warner $1,437,077 $1,425,077 86% 14% $12,000
97   Tiger Management $1,395,300 $145,300 5% 95% $1,250,000
98   Paloma Partners $1,391,800 $141,800 100% 0% $1,250,000
99   Pfizer Inc $1,387,836 $1,385,836 53% 47% $2,000
100   Soros Fund Management $1,383,250 $208,250 74% 26% $1,175,000
METHODOLOGY: These figures are based on PAC and individual contributions of more than $200 to federal candidates and parties, and on donations from individuals, PACs and other organizations (including corporate and union treasuries) giving to outside interest groups that report to the Federal Election Commission. Columns do not always add up to 100% due to third party candidates and outside spending groups not identified as either liberal or conservative.

All the numbers on this page are for the 2012 election cycle and are based on data released by the FEC on 8/6/12. Feel free to distribute or cite this material, but please credit the Center for Responsive Politics.

To view data for previous cycles, visit our Big Picture section.

Feel free to distribute or cite this material, but please credit the Center for Responsive Politics. For permission to reprint for commercial uses, such as textbooks, contact the Center.