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Windmills Tilted, Scared Cows Butchered, Lies Skewered on the Lance of Reality ... or something to that effect.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Daily Drift

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Today in History

1647   Achsah Young becomes the first woman known to be executed as a witch in Massachusetts.  
1668   Three colonists are expelled from Massachusetts for being Baptists.  
1813   Americans capture Fort George, Canada.  
1907   The Bubonic Plague breaks out in San Francisco.  
1919   A U.S. Navy seaplane completes the first transatlantic flight.  
1929   Colonel Charles Lindbergh marries Anne Spencer Murrow.  
1935   The Supreme Court declares President Franklin Roosevelt's National Recovery Act unconstitutional.  1937   San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge opens.  
1941   The German battleship Bismarck is sunk by British naval and air forces.  
1942   German General Rommel begins a major offensive in Libya with his Afrika Korps.  
1944   American General MacArthur lands on Biak Island in New Guinea.  
1960   A military coup overthrows the democratic government of Turkey.  
1969   Construction begins on Walt Disney World in Florida.  
1972   President Richard M. Nixon and Soviet Communist Party chief Leonid Brezhnev sign an arms reduction agreement.  
1999  The international war crimes tribunal indicts Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic for war atrocities.

These Women Have Crossed the Line

30 activists cross North Korea DMZ for peace
In an historic move, a group of global feminist activists march into the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea to create a space for a new type of conversation about truly ending the Korean war.
At the time of this blog post in Seoul and Pyongyang it’s already Sunday, May 24th, International Women’s Day for Peace and Disarmament, when a group of more than 30 women are scheduled to cross the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) at Kaesong from North Korea into South Korea. Their goal: to draw attention to Korea’s “forgotten” and unfinished war, and move toward a real peace that can reunite families and, perhaps, a divided nation.
The march includes both North and South Korean women marching on their respective sides, and was preceded by a peace symposium in Pyongyang (watch North Korean TV coverage here). It will be followed by a similar symposium in Seoul after they cross the DMZ (Saturday evening in the U.S.).
The Korean War (officially 1950-53) stands out for its bloody toll. Some 4 million people, mostly civilians, perished. Although a “temporary” cease-fire was signed, the last 62 years have been marked by a protracted cold war defined by ongoing threats by both sides of the DMZ, decades of profligate military spending, and what is effectively a permanent state of near-war and the fear of attack. The idea to walk from North Korea into South Korea began with a dream that lead organizer Christine Ahn had several years ago. The concept grew after Ahn connected with feminist icon Gloria Steinem who took a public stand in 2011 against the militarization of South Korea’s Jeju island.
Activist and feminist Gloria Steinem (C) speaks at a news conference before the WomenCrossDMZ group leaves for North Korea's capital Pyongyang, at a hotel in Beijing, China, May 19, 2015.  REUTERS/Kim Kyung-HoonActivist and feminist Gloria Steinem (C) speaks at a news conference before the WomenCrossDMZ group leaves for North Korea's capital Pyongyang, at a hotel in Beijing, China, May 19, 2015. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
The movement evolved into WomenCrossDMZ as Nobel Peace Prize laureates Mairead Maguire of Northern Ireland and Leymah Gbowee of Liberia joined Ahn, Steinem and what has grown to more than 30 women from South Korea, Japan, the US, Britain, Australia--at least 15 countries, in all.
A Different Future
Gwyn Kirk, a founding member of Women for Genuine Security, and one of the DMZ marchers, says WomenCrossDMZ is intended to create a space for a new type of conversation about ending the Korean war once and for all. After more than 60 years of tit-for-tat provocations, costly and dangerous brinksmanship and outright nuclear threats, Kirk says it’s time to create a different future.
That this movement is organized entirely by women is natural, says Kirk, pointing to UN Security Resolution 1325 which reaffirms “the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts, peace negotiations, peace-building, peacekeeping, humanitarian response and in post-conflict reconstruction…”
As these women mount a brave effort to do what men have failed to achieve (bring peace to the Korean peninsula), they are also receiving criticism for their efforts. One Korea policy commentator went so far as to call the group “naïve, duplicitous, disingenuous, fatuous, and [stupid].”
CNN’s Brian Todd asked if Kim Jong-un was “in league with a women’s group to bring peace between North and South Korea” and played up suggestions Christine Ahn might be “sympathetic” to North Korea. The Monthly Review responded by breaking down why The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer did a “hatchet job” on WomenCross DMZ rather than a serious examination of what they set out to achieve.
NGO activist Choi Ai-young (R) and other members of the WomenCrossDMZ group pose with Korea's traditional patchwork before the group leaves for North Korea's capital Pyongyang, at a hotel in Beijing, China, May 19, 2015. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
NGO activist Choi Ai-young (R) and other members of the WomenCrossDMZ group pose with Korea's traditional patchwork before the group leaves for North Korea's capital Pyongyang, at a hotel in Beijing, China, May 19, 2015. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-HoonMaking history Independent investigative journalist Tim Shorrock had a different take. In an email from Seoul, he called the DMZ march “an important milestone because it runs against the grain of the militarist approach to Korea taken by the Obama administration and the hostility of the South Korean government.”
Shorrock, who has covered Korea and Japan for more than three decades, said the women’s march and symposia held in Pyongyang and later Seoul, sends a message to the North that peace and reconciliation are possible. He hopes the march will also spur the U.S. to “take measures to defuse the tense situation in Korea and adopt a more flexible approach to settling its differences with North Korea.”
Responding to charges that she and her colleagues are “sympathetic” to North Korea, Christine Ahn says it’s ironic that people who claim to be staunch supporters of human rights are the ones most vehemently opposed to efforts to pursue a real peace agreement.
“You’re not going to see any improvement in North Korean human rights if you continue to isolate them or not engage or have dialogue,” Ahn said by Skype. The universal theme that has united years of international NGO reports, she says, is that there needs to be a peace settlement to improve human rights in North Korea.
Crazy repression, crazy militarization
WomenCrossDMZ, Ahn says, seeks to “get to the root cause of the issue of divided families” and what she calls “crazy militarization” and “crazy repression” of democracy in both North and South Korea.
Ahn says former U.S. Ambassador to South Korea James Laney cut to the core of the Korean issue when he said, “...One item should be at the top of the agenda...that is the establishment of a peace treaty to replace the truce that has been in place since 1953...”
To fully appreciate why North Korea has evolved into a “paranoid, hyper-militaristic society,” Ahn says it’s important to carefully examine history before the 1950-53 Korean war and remember the tremendous losses suffered by the North. “We might have forgotten that history,” she says, “but [North Korea] hasn’t.”
Ahn describes WomenCrossDMZ as “peace women” who want to find a peaceful resolution to the Korean stalemate. To do that, she says, requires listening, understanding, dialogue and a degree of empathy which is absent today. Dehumanizing the other side won’t bring peace, Ahn says. “It’s a tough place to be, but I really believe there is no other alternative.”
Being armed to the teeth (hasn’t worked)
Gwyn Kirk says that reducing military tensions is more likely to lead to better human rights conditions. “That’s what we’re advocating...more dialogue and more openness.” As long as there’s no dialogue or engagement, nothing will change.”
Kirk points to diplomatic progress between the United States and both Cuba and Iran, saying that “sanctions, being armed to the teeth [and] militarism hasn’t worked.” 
She adds, “So if that’s controversial, I guess [it’s] controversial but it just seems to me that this old cold war stuff is really history...We need to move forward and think differently.

Follow the organization on Twitter or Facebook. Link to announcement from “Women Cross DMZ” (PDF)

What I learned about leadership when I interviewed the biggest drug dealer in history

Rick Ross sold about a billion dollars worth of crack cocaine during his "career."
We want you to come out here and interview "Freeway Rick Ross" on stage.
I was talking to Jayson Gaignard. I don't really know anything about anything so Jayson had to explain and then I looked up Rick. And then I got obsessed.
Rick Ross sold about a billion dollars worth of crack cocaine during his "career."
I read every book. I read his autobiography. I read about a dozen articles. I watched three documentaries.
I flew out to Jayson's Mastermind Talks in Napa Valley.
Seth Godin has great advice about speaking at conferences: If you speak at a conference either do it for free because you love it, or charge FULL RETAIL.
I flew out to Jayson's conference for free.
I was really nervous because I knew I had nothing at all in common with Rick. Maybe he would hate me. Some nerdy Jewish guy who thinks he knows everything.
I had written down about 100 questions but I knew I wouldn't look at my notes during the interview. I then rewrote them from memory. And then rewrote them again.
I knew the questions I rewrote the most were the ones that were probably most interesting to me.
There were many things I didn't care much about: politics, legal issues, the Iran-Contra situation (Rick was fooled by the CIA into providing drug profits to the Contras).
The rise of gang violence was an issue so, before the interview, I had lunch with Rick and asked about that.
He told me that while he was there, everyone worked for one cause: making money, and they knew that if homicide police came in then that would be the end of the money.
"There was less gang violence when I was in charge," he said, "because we were all getting rich".
We had a great interview that lasted an hour and the result will be on my podcast within the next few weeks.
Rick Ross's most active years were from 1981-1988. Basically a billion dollars worth of crack went through his organization. His connection was from Nicaragua. His distribution were all the gangs that he grew up with in South Central LA.
His family broke up when he was four. He grew up amidst non-stop violence. He watched his uncle kill his aunt. Gang violence was every day.
He didn't learn to read or write so when he was 18 he was kicked out of high school and kicked off the tennis team where he was an aspiring champion. That was his one chance, he felt, to get out of the ghetto.
He was on the street and needed to make money without an education, a family, and the ability to read or write.
He asked an ex high school teacher for advice on how he could make money. The teacher suggested he sell drugs.
So he sold drugs. And instead of spending his profits, Rick kept doubling and doubling until all the other dealers were now buying from him and Rick was using his scale to drive his own costs down.
Eventually he was the main connection in all of the United States, buying up to $5 million worth of cocaine A DAY.
The podcast will have the guts of the interview. But I was impressed how soft-spoken, ready to answer, and humble Rick was.
He had spent, in various periods, close to 20 years in jail. Now his main goal was to lecture kids in jail and school how to avoid the situation he was in.
Here's what I gather were his main rules on leadership. How to lead a billion dollar organization where many of the people below him ("all of them", Rick said and the crowd we were in front of laughed) carried guns.
"I wanted the same for them and for them to even surpass me."
They might not always take it. But give them the chance to be as successful as you and they will take that example to the people below them.
This sounds strange coming from a drug kingpin but there aren't any lawyers or courts to track down liars. Honesty is the law in that game.
When there are lawyers, people lie and deceive and betray. When everything is based on your word and everyone is carrying guns, honesty is the rule.
"If there was any funny business, I'd rather not deal with them anymore, or be very careful with them in the future."
Nobody ever saw Rick being flashy. He was so low key that even when he was running almost a half billion dollars a year, the police had no idea what he looked like.
Part of this was a decentralized structure. People several layers below him in the organization would not have any contact with him and would have to deal with conflicts at their level.
"I had to show by example how to manage, so the people underneath me would know what to do instead of me being always involved."
Rick arranged the top level contacts between his sellers and his buyers. Then he stepped back.
Everything else had to be dealt with by the people who worked for him and the people who worked for them.
"Everyone knew what they had to do." And if they didn't, they stopped being part of the food chain.
Again: odd advice from a mega drug lord.
Rick poured many of his profits back into his neighborhood.
This was in part to give back, to contribute. But at the same time, it was strategic.
When he went to jail at one point and his bail was set at over a million dollars the million had to come from legitimate enterprises. So Rick could not supply his own bail.
Instead, every household on the block he grew up on, put up their own homes as bail in order to get Rick out of jail.
When you make it not about the money the benefits never stop since money is only a tiny byproduct of the reasons we live, we do things, we strive for success.
When things have the possibility of getting incredibly violent, reduce confrontation as quickly as possible.
Often Rick would simply pay off or write off any losses on people who were no longer fitting in with the organization, rather than have a confrontation with them.
Violence could bring in a whole new set of problems. Better to take a loss and move on and now worry about it.
It's almost a cliche, but Rick told how he went to Cincinnati. Stayed with a friend and told him to invite ten of his friends over.
Then when everyone was there he gave everyone a free supply and told them if they were interested to come back in a week and buy the next batch.
Everyone came back. Sometimes the sooner you charge in a business, the quicker you put a ceiling on your potential for expansion. This is true whether your business is drugs or when Facebook was waiting to charge for ads.
"I always knew I was going to go to jail," Rick said.
But he wasn't going to sit around and wait for it to happen. He owned over a dozen houses so nobody knew where he was.
He barricaded the houses with multiple iron fences so that it would take the police over an hour to smash their way in and by then everyone would be gone.
He would leave town for months at a time. He would put extra profits into "legitimate" businesses like a car parts company and hotels.
He always assumed the worst, so that's how he was able to diversify all the potential ways he could succeed.
At the end of the interview Rick described how he learned how to read and write in prison.
He said that the US jail system spends $45,000 a year per prisoner but refuses to buy prisoners books.
He recommended the books, As a Man Thinketh by James Allen, Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins, Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, and The Richest Man in Babylon by Og Mandino.
He said that when he was broke and his mother was broke and his community was broke and he couldn't read or write and had no education or prospects, this seemed like the only way out.
When asked what he could've have done differently he paraphrased, The Richest Man in Babylon.
When I was young I asked the most successful person I knew how I could make some money, he said.
He looked down for a few seconds. Looked back up at the audience. Paused.
"I asked the wrong person."


Qatar Won’t Let Nepalese World Cup Workers Go Home For Earthquake Funerals

American bible-Thumper Travels To Scandinavia, Freaks Out After Discovering How Normal They Are

by Jameson Parker 
A Georgia-based pastor had his mind blown when he took a recent trip to Scandinavia and discovered, to his horror, that nobody hated gay people or believed dog created the Earth in a week.
Pastor Marty McLain, who describes his religious delusion as deriving from a literal interpretation of the bible, was given the opportunity to see how normal Scandinavia is by a documentary series called The Norden. The concept is simple: find narrow-minded Americans and throw them into countries like Norway, Sweden and Denmark and watch them have panic attacks. It actually sounds like a lot of fun.
McLain wanted to use his time in the north to explore how Scandinavians worship dog. Unfortunately, he soon discovers that most of them don’t.
McLain, who’s favorite expression is “wow,” is wowed a lot. Almost no one he talks to on the street seems interested in dog. One guy puts it bluntly: “If there is no dog, why should I believe in him?” Ouch.
A few highlights:
  • While interviewing several members of a church in Copenhagen, McLain makes the mistake of assuming that, given their faith, they must be homophobes like he is. After he laments the fact that the oppressive government made Denmark’s cults perform same-sex marriages, the Reverend had to awkwardly tell him that neither he nor anyone else at the cult had a problem with gay people. McLain’s pained expression is priceless.
  • He runs into a man on the street who (finally!) says he believes in dog. Excited, McLain asks if he is a christian. The man tells him, no, a muslim. McLain: “A muslim!”
  • An excruciating discussion with a humanist over coffee ends with the humanist telling McLain, “In short, I have no need of a dog. To put it bluntly.” McLain stares off into space, his mind melting.
While the show is shot with the Georgian pastor as the focus, if we inverse the perspective things get quite a bit sadder. It’s impossible to tell just what these secular people make of the shellshocked American staggering around their country, unable to cope with the idea that they don’t believe in Adam and Eve. It must look to some like a time traveler from an ancient era, confused by the progress we’ve made. We can only hope that they are generous with their assumptions. It would be embarrassing to think that they consider this guy a representative of all Americans, because between the “homosexuality is a sin!” and “There’s no proof of evolution, you weren’t there!” all I can say is, “Wow.”

Actual complaints received by travel agents

These are actual complaints received by “Thomas Cook Vacations from dissatisfied customers:
Beach vacation1. “On my holiday to Goa in India, I was disgusted to find that almost every restaurant served curry. I don’t like spicy food.”
2. “They should not allow topless sunbathing on the beach. It was very distracting for my husband who just wanted to relax.”
3. “We went on holiday to Spain and had a problem with the taxi drivers as they were all Spanish.”
4. “We booked an excursion to a water park but no-one told us we had to bring our own swimsuits and towels. We assumed it would be included in the price.”
5. “The beach was too sandy. We had to clean everything when we returned to our room.”
6. “We found the sand was not like the sand in the brochure. Your brochure shows the sand as white but it was more yellow.”
7. “It’s lazy of the local shopkeepers in Puerto Vallartato close in the afternoons. I often needed to buy things during ‘siesta’ time — this should be banned.”
8. “No-one told us there would be fish in the water. The children were scared.”
9. “Although the brochure said that there was a fully equipped kitchen, there was no egg-slicer in the drawers.”
10. “I think it should be explained in the brochure that the local convenience store does not sell proper biscuits like custard creams or ginger nuts.”
11. “The roads were uneven and bumpy, so we could not read the local guide book during the bus ride to the resort. Because of this, we were unaware of many things that would have made our holiday more fun.”
12. “It took us nine hours to fly home from Jamaica to England. It took the Americans only three hours to get home. This seems unfair.”
13. “I compared the size of our one-bedroom suite to our friends’ three-bedroom and ours was significantly smaller.”
14. “The brochure stated: ‘No hairdressers at the resort.’ We’re trainee hairdressers and we think they knew and made us wait longer for service.”
15. “When we were in Spain, there were too many Spanish people there. The receptionist spoke Spanish, the food was Spanish. No one told us that there would be so many foreigners.”
16. “We had to line up outside to catch the boat and there was no air-conditioning.”
17. “It is your duty as a tour operator to advise us of noisy or unruly guests before we travel.”
18. “I was bitten by a mosquito. The brochure did not mention mosquitoes.”
19. “My fiancé and I requested twin-beds when we booked, but instead we were placed in a room with a king bed. We now hold you responsible and want to be re-reimbursed for the fact that I became pregnant. This would not have happened if you had put us in the room that we booked.”

John Nash, Subject of 'A Beautiful Mind', Killed In Taxi Crash

Princeton University mathematician John Forbes Nash Jr., played by Russell Crowe as the subject of the film A Beautiful Mind, and his wife of nearly 60 years died Saturday in a taxi crash on the New Jersey Turnpike. Nash was 86 and his wife Alicia was 82.
The couple was riding in a taxi traveling southbound on the New Jersey Turnpike when the taxi driver lost control of the vehicle while passing another and crashed into a guard rail. The Nashes were ejected from the car. The taxi driver is in the hospital being treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
What a tragic accident. Rest in Peace, Professor and Alicia. Read more on this story here. 

Did you know ...

The couple from the Woodstock album cover are still together, 46 years later!! 

Nothing Beats The Classics

Bettie Page

A Toddler and his First Friend

When you are two years old, there’s nothing more impressive than a big truck that comes to your house. And this one comes every week! Little Deacon Ross looked forward to seeing O.D. and his garbage truck every Friday. And the sanitation worker made friends with the toddler. But now the family is moving away, and USA Today showed up for O.D.’s last run by Deacon’s house.

Black-and-White Shots From Cannes Film Festival

Salma Hayek
The annual Cannes Film Festival has ran from the thirteenth of this month until the twenty-fourth. The festival has generated its usual series of headlines, as well as a controversy about women attendees having to wear high-heeled shoes to be admitted to festival affairs and showings. The event is a highlight of celebrity fashion each year; those in the entertainment industry from all over the globe take great care to be seen in their most glamorous light.
Photographer Vincent Desailly recently took advantage of the glamour and high attendance levels of the festival to shoot these beautiful black and whites of celebrities looking their most alluring on the red carpet. There's nothing quite like black-and-white shots to evoke a classic style and beauty. See more of these monochrome gems, including shots of Rooney Mara, Jake Gyllenhaal, Matthias Schoenaerts, Diane Kruger and others at Desailly's Tumblr and Instagram.

Retro Photos

Surf's Up

Giving Up the Phone for a Week

It’s strange how one’s relationship with their phone varies according to age. These Millennials gave up their phones for a week to make a video about the experience, and their lives completely changed. They had spent their formative years becoming dependent on their devices for keeping in touch with others, finding their way around, doing business, and internet use. A person who is somewhat older might think of turning to a computer for many of those things. I still use signs, maps, and spoken directions to find my way around (plus an awesome sense of direction honed by many years of experience). I also have a calendar for appointments. My mother has a cell phone, but no one knows the number, because she only turns it on when she’s on the road and needs assistance.
But the difference goes even deeper. Using a phone for all those things is not bad in itself, but these folks noticed a difference in their concentration, attention span, and engagement with the real world when they adjusted to living without constantly “checking in” for messages as they’d become used to. How would doing without your mobile device affect your life?

Sack Dresses

During the Great Depression in the United States, and again during WWII, many families in the United States coped with shortages by making clothing out of used feedsacks.  Some of the feed companies responded by printing decorative patterns on the sacks.  The photo above comes from a large gallery at imgur.  There is a review of this subject at Etsy,

Believe It Or Not


Shark Sniffs Photographer's Camera

Filmmaker Dave Riggs is getting ready for the Discovery Channel's Shark Week (auto-start video). While getting footage off the coast of South Australia, a 13.5 foot long female Great White Shark approached him. Curious, she examined him. Discovery News quotes Riggs:
“Of course, great whites don’t have hands, so she was researching the area in the only way she knows how -– and that’s with her mouth,” Riggs said.
So when a Great White Shark mouths you, it's like a dog smelling you. Try to be friendly in response.

Earlier and Farther

In a warming world, the black-legged tick (a.k.a. deer tick) is peaking in mid-May instead of June.

Animal Pictures