Monthly Archives: February 2009

Girl talk (guys, you've been warned)

Anyone know what a good bra is for a semi-saggy 50 year old woman, size 36C?

I don’t want anything padded, have always worn underwires but getting a bit tired of them. I would like as much support as the underwire gives, though. It also has to be machine-washable and cotton.

You really wouldn’t think this would be hard to find, would you? But everything in the stores is at least that semi-padded nylon or synthetic garbage…

How the Crash Will Reshape America

Interesting article on America’s geography post-crash — the end of the “sprawlconomy” and the beginning of the information economy… go read the whole thing if you’re interested, it’s good.

What will this geography look like? It will likely be sparser in the Midwest and also, ultimately, in those parts of the Southeast that are dependent on manufacturing. Its suburbs will be thinner and its houses, perhaps, smaller. Some of its southwestern cities will grow less quickly. Its great mega-regions will rise farther upward and extend farther outward. It will feature a lower rate of homeownership, and a more mobile population of renters. In short, it will be a more concentrated geography, one that allows more people to mix more freely and interact more efficiently in a discrete number of dense, innovative mega-regions and creative cities. Serendipitously, it will be a landscape suited to a world in which petroleum is no longer cheap by any measure. But most of all, it will be a landscape that can accommodate and accelerate invention, innovation, and creation—the activities in which the U.S. still holds a big competitive advantage.

The Stanford economist Paul Romer famously said, “A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.” The United States, whatever its flaws, has seldom wasted its crises in the past. On the contrary, it has used them, time and again, to reinvent itself, clearing away the old and making way for the new. Throughout U.S. history, adaptability has been perhaps the best and most quintessential of American attributes. Over the course of the 19th century’s Long Depression, the country remade itself from an agricultural power into an industrial one. After the Great Depression, it discovered a new way of living, working, and producing, which contributed to an unprecedented period of mass prosperity. At critical moments, Americans have always looked forward, not back, and surprised the world with our resilience. Can we do it again?

via The Atlantic Online | March 2009 | How the Crash Will Reshape America | Richard Florida.

Happy Valentine's Day!


In Tucson this weekend visiting family and the gem show — hope you’re all having a good Valentine’s Day!

Since I left him, Darwin ate my husband’s valentine’s day presents off the table. He always destroys something when I leave him… sigh.

California, here we come….

Since our national system has been so messed up, I’ve never paid attention to California politics much before. But I think now that we have adults in charge of the nation again, I think our next goal as California progressives is to get control of our own state. So a lot of what I’ll be posting politically here on my blog is going to focus on local issues here in California. I think a lot of it will be interesting to people in other areas, too. And I encourage everyone to get involved with and stay informed about what’s going on in your own area of the country.

I do suggest reading the Calitics blog as one of the best way to get informed if you are in California. They really dig into a lot of these issues. I don’t always appreciate their viewpoints, which are a bit to the left of mine, but I’ll try to pass along the most interesting stuff.

What you’re going to see playing out over the next few weeks and months is a fight for who gets the stimulus and how it is distributed, as well as a major battle to move California back to progressive leadership. The times our state has done the best have been when we are leading the nation, not trailing it. Right now the Republican party is controlled by people with heads firmly up their asses in this state, and very big business oriented.

We don’t need big businesses right now, we need education, health care, innovative science and technology research, and small, growing companies. Small companies hire FAR more people as they grow, and that is what we need to start pushing for right now. The jobs aren’t going to come from the big players. I expect those large businesses to start falling like dinosaurs, in fact. It’s time for a lot of very nimble shrews who will be able to adapt to what’s going to be a rapid cycle of change if we are to grow out of this. Otherwise, we go into depression era policies of trying to preserve a dead economic system.

It’s time for change, as we so well know from Obama’s campaign. Now, let’s work on our own states.

Eric Garcetti Stomps On Budget Deal, Lights It On Fire
by: David Dayen
Thu Feb 12, 2009 at 10:32:37 AM PST

Before last night’s blogger conference call with LA City Council President Eric Garcetti, my opinions of the budget deal from Sacramento weren’t very well-formed. I think I have become so inured to craptastic solutions from Sacramento that this one looked no worse than others. Of course, I don’t have a responsibility to constituents and a need to implement the outlines of the plan, so Garcetti’s very forceful words against the package kind of snapped me out of my slumber. Here’s a paraphrase.

“I think it’s a reflection of a broken system. It’s like shooting a little morphine into a sick patient. I think depending on federal dollars to balance the budget is irresponsible, and will blunt the impact of the stimulus. It means that the county and school districts will see a lot of projects rolled back. The health care cuts are going to be devastating. You’re going to see a lot more homeless people this year, a lot more people who need critical care and can’t get it. So there is no joy in this resolution other than that it is a resolution.”

Very strong stuff. And he’s not wrong. My one quibble would be that it’s not the reliance on federal stimulus dollars to balance the budget, which is necessary and will save jobs throughout the system, that gets me, but the continued reliance on borrowing and the raid of voter-approved funds for mental health and early childhood programs, which is illegal and will require the unlikelihood of passing new initiatives.

There isn’t any margin for error if, say, one of the FIVE measures that will now be on the ballot in order to secure the budget fail, or if the giant corporate tax cut fails to satiate business, or if nobody wants to buy our debt or buy the state lottery, which is losing revenue. It’s another seat-of-our-pants craptastic budget which makes no long-term solutions and essentially keeps intact a broken structure. Garcetti is right that the problem is systemic, and so that’s the goal for progressives in the state for this point forward – systemic change.

It's Darwin's 200th Birthday!


No, not my Darwin, but the one he is named for, Charles Darwin:

MY fellow primates, 200 years ago today, Charles Darwin was born. Please join me in wishing him happy birthday!

He practiced a kind of ideal, dream-like science. He examined the minutiae of nature — shells of barnacles, pistils of flowers — but worked on grand themes. He corresponded with lofty men of learning, but also with farmers and pigeon breeders. He observed, questioned, experimented, constantly testing his ideas.

Could plants from the mainland colonize a newly formed island? If so, they would need a way to get there. Could they survive in the ocean? To find out, he immersed seeds in salt water for weeks, then planted them to see how many could sprout. He reported, for example, that “an asparagus plant with ripe berries floated for 23 days, when dried it floated for 85 days, and the seeds afterwards germinated.” The Atlantic current moved at 33 nautical miles a day; he figured that would take a seed more than 1,300 miles in 42 days. Yes, seeds could travel by sea.

He published important work on subjects as diverse as the biology of carnivorous plants, barnacles, earthworms and the formation of coral reefs. He wrote a travelogue, “The Voyage of the Beagle,” that was an immediate best seller and remains a classic of its kind. And as if that was not enough, he discovered two major forces in evolution — natural selection and sexual selection — and wrote three radical scientific masterpieces, “On the Origin of Species” (1859), “The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex” (1871) and “The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals” (1872).

The “Origin,” of course, is what he is best known for. This volume, colossal in scope yet minutely detailed, laid the foundations of modern biology. Here, Darwin presented extensive and compelling evidence that all living beings — including humans — have evolved from a common ancestor, and that natural selection is the chief force driving evolutionary change. Sexual selection, he argued, was an additional force, responsible for spectacular features like the tail feathers of peacocks that are useless for (or even detrimental to) survival but essential for seduction.

Before the “Origin,” similarities and differences between species were mere curiosities; questions as to why a certain plant is succulent like a cactus or deciduous like a maple could be answered only, “Because.” Biology itself was nothing more than a vast exercise in catalog and description. After the “Origin,” all organisms became connected, part of the same, profoundly ancient, family tree. Similarities and differences became comprehensible and explicable. In short, Darwin gave us a framework for asking questions about the natural world, and about ourselves.


You can find out more about Darwin Day here or here. Or do a google blog search on Darwin Day for lots of posts! The google logo today celebrates Darwin too, if you go to the main page.

My Darwin is named after Charles Darwin because the first couple of weeks he was here, he ate most of the plants in my yard. I figured he had to be a botanist. He’s also done pet education work with all kinds of animals, and was always just calmly and quietly fascinated with rats, mice, lizards, chicks, turtles, and all the other animals we worked with. So he’s just a naturalist at heart.

HEMA Stores » Curbly

HEMA is a Dutch department store which first opened in 1926 in Amsterdam. It now has 150 stores all over the Netherlands.

Take a look at HEMA’s product page. You can’t order anything, and it’s in Dutch, but just wait a couple moments and watch what happens. Don’t’ click on any of the products pictured, just wait and see what happens….and be sure to have your sound turned up.

This company has a sense of humor and a great computer programmer.

via HEMA Stores » Curbly | DIY Design Community.


“The innocence of youth is necessary again and again through the thresholds of a life no matter our chronological age. Therefore, at any time of your life, follow your own questions; don’t mistake other people’s questions for your own. Fall in love with your own questions… see innocence not as something to be replaced by experience but as a way… of paying attention, without which you cannot begin a new cycle of investigation. Fall in love with the possibilities ahead. At least to begin with, be infatuated with an imagined perfection. Let your hoped-for intuitions be true until they are proved wrong. — David Whyte, The Three Marriages



The Victoria bushfires are terrifying. Please go here and donate if you can — in any fire situation, the Red Cross is first on the scene and really does a great job of taking care of the victims who have lost their homes or been forced out of them by the fires. And an awful disaster in terms of lives lost and homes lost. Living in SoCal, we’ve seen several huge disastrous fires in the last few years. We’ve managed well so far, only having to evacuate once, which we turned into a relatively pleasant experience. But when you see fire surround your community on all sides, or smoke billowing up and starting to blow over your home, it is a horrible, frightening thing. And when people don’t have time to escape, these fires are deadly. The loss in Australia is just heartbreaking. When it happens close to home, it is sad, but at least most people here had time to get out safely. Unfortunately that didn’t happen for the people in these fires.

We’re fortunate here to have a reverse 9-1-1 system in place. When we were evacuated, we received a call to leave our home in plenty of time to get out. I would encourage everyone to ask their communities to put these systems in place. It is well worth the cost to be able to save lives in an emergency situation. And everyplace has something — if not fires, then tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, ice storms, whatever. People need time to prepare and to get out if they have to, and our community leaders need to make sure they get the warning in time.

Just a reminder that you can work to be a change leader in your community, too. Get to know your neighbors, plan for how to handle emergencies, and help each other out. Last time around, I took a neighbor’s cat with me to evacuate and moved her car to a safe place for her since she was out of town. We made sure all our neighbors were out safely or leaving before we left, and we stopped by our community evacuation center once we were back home and took pet supplies over to take care of the animals, as well as taking additional supplies to the animal shelter that was simply overwhelmed with animals that had been evacuated. We now have a “bug out” kit that can be easily thrown in the car full of emergency supplies.

Mostly it takes awareness, though, knowing what local weather conditions are, being prepared to get out if you have to.

And helping out those who have been devastated by tragic circumstances.

And so the first battle ends

Obama won, sort of….

Senate Approves Stimulus Plan

I don’t think this was a great bill, but now at least the battle lines are drawn and we know who can be called on for support and who the leaders of the opposition are.

And in a weird way, I think that was the actual goal of the bill. Other things can be passed later on, as the situation gets more desperate (and it will, sorry people…)

I’m actually really encouraged by how well this went, all things considered. Paul Krugman is becoming a powerful outside voice for the Obama camp and did some great work on this one, yet still criticizes the effort as being too small. He’s going to be the voice to listen to going forward, maintaining his outsider status but criticizing the opposition very powerfully. Obama did an excellent job of reaching out to the American people and going over the talking heads of the right wing media.

As for Geithner, I am really unimpressed. I hope the wonks can win him over eventually, but his Wall Street ties are still far too strong. And obviously, Wall Street wasn’t happy with him today anyway. (Down 300 points right now). Geithner is going to have to choose a real side to be on soon, and Obama better convince him to be on the people’s side. I hope Obama can start letting others have the influence and take over for the lack of leadership that Geithner and Summers are showing right now. It’s quite disturbing to see them continue the failed Bush bailouts with no real new plan to improve things at all.

I really think Obama and Geithner need to start reading some economics blogs. And Barry at the Big Picture, who sends us this today: