Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Deep Discounts for Doing the Wrong Thing

We're big believers in doing the right thing. We stopped eating pigs on the Chinese New Year of the Pig a few years back now. This year we stopped eating factory farmed beef. We recycle. We compost. We have a garden. We keep our tires properly inflated. We only had two kids.

So it really pisses me off when I get into situations where I see people get rewarded for doing the wrong thing, while I'm paying more for organic food and green products in general. There are many examples, but the granddaddy of them all is a reward for having more kids.

Now I'm not talking welfare here. I'm a firm believer that every kid on this planet deserves a fair share. But I'm sick of pricing in the market that makes me pay more than someone with 8 kids. I don't know if penalizing the prodigious populators is constructive, since it would inevitably punish the children, but damnit, I should not be punished for having less children!

The latest example is shopping for dental insurance, a luxury in this day and age where 1/3 of Americans don't have dental coverage, but something we were looking into since we haven't seen a dentist in a long time due to our recent prolonged poverty.

The best plan I could find has costs about $1500 per year in premiums for a family, while capping the per person payout per year at $1500. So, with our family of three, we would get a maximum of $4500 worth of dental coverage per year, while a family of eight would get $12,000.

That means we're subsidizing that family. WTF? I thought there were too many people on the planet. Add this to the fact that conservatives have more children than liberals and that means when this child bonus does take money out of my pocket, more often than not it goes to conservatives--the very people who complain when people take things out of their pockets.

No wonder Republicans want to protect the big insurance industry.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Right Wingers are Violence Prone

For a personal take on the recent violence and terroristic threatening coming from the "conservatives" in this country lately, head over to my R rated post at the Bush Treason Blog. If you didn't care for Joe Biden's F-bomb, you'll want to move on. Nothing to see here.

If you thought it was about time someone got real on a National Level and just said what most of us were thinking, then head on over and read the post about how I put up with assaults on a regular basis because of the bumper stickers you see here.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Global Warming Quote of the Year (so far)

Anybody that is a global-warming denier at this point in time has got their head so deeply up their ass I’m not sure they could hear me.--James Cameron

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

RIP Mark "Big Ferb" Ferber, Hollywood Bowl Production Supervisor

If you ever went backstage at the Hollywood Bowl, you probably had some kind of run-in with Big Ferb. Even if you just saw a show at the Bowl, you were still familiar with Mark. To millions of concert goers, Mark Ferber was the voice of the Bowl:

"Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Hollywood Bowl."

When I was a kid, I spent my summers hanging around the Hollywood Bowl, where my Dad, Frank Supak, was the head soundman. Mark was the go-to guy for just about anything you needed, especially our comp tickets. He was the perfect guy to hold crew tickets, because you could see him from anywhere (he must've been 6'6"). We called him Big Ferb, like Big Bird, because I remember when Sesame Street did a show at the Bowl, Mark and Big Bird were about the same size.

He leaves a big tuxedo to fill.

Mark's LA Times obituary says he died from injuries sustained in a fall. I don't know the details yet, but it is the off season, so the fall was probably not a result of his running around backstage.

"I'm a detail man," Ferber said at the time. "I run around backstage and make sure everything goes correctly."

He was no stranger to tragedy: his first wife, Elaine Welton Hill, died of cancer in 1999. He was survived by his second wife, Suzanne Friedline Ferber, and his son Daniel, 5... I just choked up thinking that Daniel will never get to really appreciate his Dad, or see him at work--so comfortable doing what he did.

It was like Mark actually enjoyed every moment of his 45 years at the Bowl, even the bad ones, like when an airplane would inevitably fly over during a quiet passage in a symphony. He took everything in stride, and it is a real shame that his son won't learn from one of the coolest heads the business has ever known.

Friday, March 19, 2010

A Very Long Wake for Alex Chilton

Even though I spent a lot of time and money in Memphis when I was young, I never heard of Alex Chilton until I met my wife, Robin. She made me a mix tape that had Bangkok on it (to this day, after I hear Bangkok (originally a single, but on the album Stuff) I expect to hear Robyn Hitchcock's My Favourite Buildings.

After listening to hours of Chilton yesterday--and honestly, Big Star is exactly the kind of rock with a twang that I just can't get enough of--I kept coming back to his more punk sound, and Bangkok is fucktastically hard and irreverent, with a great beat that you can definitely dance to, Dick.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

What's New At

Just a quick note to note that we now have a blog just for what's new at It's going to be a history from the what's new section of our home page, so people can go see all the new things that have been posted there, which, in the past, were just lost to the black hole of bytes.

Monday, March 15, 2010

It's not so much that liberals and atheists are smarter...

It's that smarter people tend to be monogamous, liberal, and atheistic.

Imagine the evolutionarily novel brain it took to create this cave painting. 
I have parking-lot-snow-sized piles of anecdotal evidence for this phenomenon, but I'm going to go here to the science pen and pull out some peer reviewed reason and logic, not that Science will impress the mostly religious dumbasses who still think they know better than science. None-the-less, here goes.

My friend Thomas D. blogged about this article from Science Daily that explores a new study from Satoshi Kanazawa, an evolutionary psychologist at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Even if you don't believe in evolution, or, for the Scientologists out there, psychology, it's hard to ignore the data from this study.

The study, published in the March 2010 issue of the peer-reviewed scientific journal Social Psychology Quarterly, advances a new theory to explain why people form particular preferences and values. The theory suggests that more intelligent people are more likely than less intelligent people to adopt evolutionarily novel preferences and values, but intelligence does not correlate with preferences and values that are old enough to have been shaped by evolution over millions of years."

"Evolutionarily novel" preferences and values are those that humans are not biologically designed to have and our ancestors probably did not possess. In contrast, those that our ancestors had for millions of years are "evolutionarily familiar."

When we were living in caves, we were paranoid about the slightest thing, from wild animals to thunder. So, we developed cute little stories to make ourselves, and our families, less paranoid about them. We invented Gods who held our fate in their hands, thereby alleviating ourselves of any responsibility for What Happened. As we evolved further, we could go to war with our neighbors and just say, hey, God told me to.

Explains George Bush, doesn't it?

Kanazawa's study looked at the IQ of adolescents, and sorted them out according to self-described liberals and conservatives, and, voila: the higher IQ's were more liberal and less religous.

In the current study, Kanazawa argues that humans are evolutionarily designed to be conservative, caring mostly about their family and friends, and being liberal, caring about an indefinite number of genetically unrelated strangers they never meet or interact with, is evolutionarily novel. So more intelligent children may be more likely to grow up to be liberals.

Data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) support Kanazawa's hypothesis. Young adults who subjectively identify themselves as "very liberal" have an average IQ of 106 during adolescence while those who identify themselves as "very conservative" have an average IQ of 95 during adolescence.


Young adults who identify themselves as "not at all religious" have an average IQ of 103 during adolescence, while those who identify themselves as "very religious" have an average IQ of 97 during adolescence.

The story goes on to mention that monogamy is also evolutionarily new, and practiced more by intelligent people, which certainly explains why it's mostly Republican politicians who cheat on their wives

This whole line of thought is not so much shocking to me as expected; further proof that those of us who think are more likely to think something everyone else doesn't. Those of us who flock to church every Sunday to listen to a watered down version of Rush Limbaugh are less likely to come up with anything new. They will simply regurgitate the hate, injecting their Biblically-backed venom into the same veins, exhausting those of us who would like to progress, and, at least in the case of climate change, dooming us all to a self-fulfilling Eschatological prophecy that it seems they actually want, rather than a reasoned, logical, and much less painful path toward sustainability.

Fucking idiots.

What does amaze me is how much effort the more intelligent people put into trying to convince these neo troglodytes that they should think outside the cave. It's time to stop bipartisanship efforts. They don't think like we do. They never will. Climate deniers (and evolution deniers and George-Bush-is-a-war-criminal deniers) are just not that smart, and we're wasting time and effort trying to bring them up to speed. It's time they were left behind, for the sake of the rest of us who have managed to pull our heads out of our asses long enough to look around, see the world as it really is, and do something about it.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Great Photographs Touched Up to Be Even Greater

About a month ago, my Maui bed and breakfast friend Cherie sent some pictures from a friend of hers, Mike Eilers, so I posted a few of them. Great shots of whales, dolphins, and this sea turtle.

But this isn't the original photo. This picture was retouched by Mike's friend, Carl Bringas, who has a great photography site full of his work--photographs retouched to become very web-ready works of art.

These artistically retouched photographs make great desktop wallpaper, and I've added them to a Carl Bringas Gallery of retouched photographs (both his and Mike Eilers's) over at the computer backgrounds blog.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Yet another attempt at poetry rejected by the gods of words...

What's Left is Miraculously Ordinary

A not-that-old man grudgingly wakes
to a wine hangover, high-mileage joints
wail Rice Crispy sounds as he warily climbs
out of the warm bed to return what's left

of the fermented liquid to the ecosystem.
He eats eggs and toast with spread, combs
over what's left of his hair, straps down
an ear flap hat and the gear in his truck bed

bereft of the tools for tending grape vines
on hills now spotted with McMansion views
of the corn monument field of rusting harrows,
subsoilers, cultivators, and trailed foragers--

like giraffes still tall near the decomposing barn.
He taps the brakes--slow on the frozen driveway--
drives as if in tow behind the snow plow,
veers to slide down the side road through

white walled woods to the lake like a salt flat
where he walks on the water--still fueled by
the warm eggs and bread with spread--where a shed
over a hole evolves into a fish factory, while snow
falls like cotton on what's left of the vines.

Scott Supak

Friday, March 05, 2010

Hollywood Downside Up

My Dad, who was the soundman at the Hollywood Bowl for a couple of decades, died 10 years ago on March 3, and while I didn't publish anything about it, I did have a drink and listen to Jazz at Oberlin and Kind of Blue. They remind me of summers growing up in Hollywood, riding my bike around and marveling at the fact that it was a very dreary place (and probably still is, although I haven't been back in a while now). Everywhere you look, under the bright billboards, marquees, theaters, and lights was a pervasive kind of crumbling concrete gray. The kind of gray where you break the cinder block and the dust is the same color as the brick, just as drab and plain on the inside.

It was also about 10 years ago that I started my Hollywood Downside Up photography series, which resulted in a bunch of free desktop wallpaper pictures of Hollywood that you can download, use as your computer background, or print as a post card. The series tries to capture the underbelly of Hollywood, not so much behind the scenes as under them, the greasy wheels of addiction and despair that fuel the machine.

I spent the day fixing some of the CSS issues that were screwing the site up, and it's presentable again, full of ads for things you photographers need, or just things to click on for the sake of helping a high-mileage lump of Hollywood Blvd. road kill.

Monday, March 01, 2010

How Much to Mail a Letter to the States?

I actually heard an overly made-up, clashily-dressed middle-aged woman say that in a post office line in Hawaii once. Nobody laughed because they were sick of that kind of thing. In fact, there were more than a few heel-of-the-palm-to-the-forehead reactions. And yet it goes on.

Contrary to the opinion of 6% of Tea Baggers, Hawaii is a US State (4% are unsure). But enough about them. Really. Way enough. I have something more important to talk about. But then, just about anything is more important than them.

Buy Gourmet Organic American Coffee!

Not only can you buy domestic coffee in the US, but it is, as Mark Twain put it, the best damn coffee in the world. OK, Twain didn't put it that way. Here's what he actually said:
The ride through the district of Kona to Kealakekua Bay took us through the famous coffee and orange section. I think the Kona coffee has a richer flavor than any other, be it grown where it may and call it by what name you please.
Now click yourself over to do your duty as a patriotic citizen of the United States and buy some organic Kona coffee beans. It's a little more expensive than Folgers, but you'll drink less and it's better for you, the people growing the coffee, and the planet.

I'm sure those 10% of teabaggers who doubt Hawaii's statehood don't have a clue, but they might be onto something... Seems that back when the US made Hawaii a territory, there was some doubt as to the legitimacy of the transfer of authority (yes I said that South Parky). The Hawaiian Independence Action Alliance protested the 50th anniversary of Hawaiian statehood last year. According to the Hawaii Kingdom Independence Blog, Hawaii is not a state because the prolonged occupation of Hawaii, going back to before the islands were a territory, was and is illegal.

So, I suppose if the tea baggers wanted to smarten up their argument a little, they could join forces with some of the ardent leftists, who actually have a decent argument, if you ignore Stare decisis, as the current court is apt to do. Good luck with that. Even if you managed to get a court to agree that the occupation was illegal, therefore the becoming of a territory was illegal, therefore the statehood is illegal, therefore Obama was born in the Kingdom of Hawaii not the state, you'd still have a hell of a time getting him out of the White House, what with him being such a fascist and all.

For the rest of us, who enjoy a good lefty argument (like the illegal occupation of Hawaii voiding the US's claims to the islands) for the sake of argument, but with no real expectation that anything will ever come of it, I suggest you check out my big site full of Hawaii Stuff, where you can decide which of the illegally occupied islands to visit. I suggest you start with a few days at this Kauai beach house, followed by at least a week in an organic Maui bed and breakfast, and then finish off with some time in an affordable Kona vacation rental on the Big Island, where the best damn coffee in the world is grown.

And don't forget the Hawaiian post cards!