Brain Juice.

Inspiration 1#

For years now, I have kept a folder on every computer I have owned labelled "Inspiration". Collectively I have compiled several hundred images I have found whilst browsing the net which I have then divided these into the following sub folders...

- Editorials
- Fashion Photography
- Illustrations
- DIY Ideas
- Interiors (Currently consists of the most images and I desperately need to sort through and organise)
- LookBooks
- Key Looks and Trends
- Photography Ideas
- Shop Interiors

These folders are my creative stimulants and my references to my day to day thought process. They are more efficient then a mood board (or several) and more environmentally friendly then printing every idea I come across). I have backed them up on to hard drives and I would be distraught if I ever lost them. 

Recently I came across my dream tool! It's called Evernote and literally the website quotes...

 "Save your ideas, things you like, things you hear, and things you see.' 

So now instead of sitting there ctrl clicking and saving I just "clip" whole pages which directly links to my Evernote to which they are stored and I can refer back to them and where they came from (very handy for blogging). 

Below is a small sample of work by Daej Fallas. Her work is beautiful and these images where immediately "save worthy" in my opinion.

Enjoy xx

Springfield Non-English speakers deserve police protection

Please join the Pioneer Valley Project and other community members at the Springfield City Council meeting  THIS MONDAY, MAY 2 AT 6:30 PM to pass the Language Access Ordinance to ensure that immigrants and non-English speakers have access to police protection and other public safety services. Over 30% of Springfield residents speak a language other than English at home.
 When they call 911 or speak to officers on the street and cannot get help because of language - we are all less safe.  Language access is a civil right which has not been well protected in Springfield in the past.  PVP has worked to pass this language access ordinance over the past 9 months and has negotiated the final language with the city council and the police department.
 The City Council's ordinance committee has voted in support of the ordinance and will bring it to the full City Council for a vote at Monday's meeting.

Please let us know if you are able to attend or if you need any additional information.  Thank you, Fred Rose, Cell 413-522-2204

Speculation on Beauty.

A week or so ago, Roissy linked to another series of female facial composites. Here, beautiful actresses were paired together over several iterations to produce a final result. ( See below)

Looking at the pictures, I get the impression that while the final facial composite is attractive, she is not as attractive as nearly all of the originals. I suppose what I'm getting at is that true beauty is perhaps some  ideal proportion combined with some unique markers of identity. These unique markers i.e. shape of nose, eyes, lips etc may be the finishing touches which make a woman exceptionally beautiful rather than just pretty.

Nautical Colour Block.

Outfit Post 1# 

I enjoy planning ahead for the weekends, it makes getting ready a lot easier, especially if I have to run out the door. I have jobs to do this weekend so this out makes a perfect combination of comfort and on trend pieces. 

Putting together a mood board of inspirational colours and current collections is fun as well as worth while. Makes orchestrating an outfit simple!  Colour blocking a favourite of mine at the moment, mostly because I find myself wearing clothes I haven't for a long time. I found this fantastic Neon pink vest on Ebay, you can actually smell the rawness of the silk in it. I like to think it was picked up some where in India or something during someone's travels. 

Top: Portmans
Vest: Vintage (ebay find)
Necklace: Sportsgirl
Shorts: Gripp
Clutch: Stella McCartney for Target
Watch: Fossil

Jewels for Eyes.

While the leaves in my yard were still wet with fresh rain, I wanted to show you some of my treasures. These are just a couple of the day to day pieces I wear, I will take the opportunity to do this again with a couple of other I missed today some other time because it started to bucket down half way through.

I'm proud of my jewellery draw and I even take the time to take all items out and polish over them from time to time. Anything that's not silver I coat in clear nail polish to prevent it from oxidising and any semi precious, precious pieces I keep in their original boxes.

I was inspired to do this today because the first two pictures are two of my newest purchases and were such a bargain! I'm going to Europe and Dubai in 10 weeks exactly and I am so excited about some of the smaller pieces I plan to seek out and bring home with me to add to my ever growing collection. 

Lovisa - Very YSL Arty Ring non?

Asos - Fluro beads

Peter Lang for Cue


SHAG bangle and ring

My personal collection

Homophily and Psychological Entropy.

Following up on the previous post I thought I would link a few studies on the subject of homophily.

(I've decided not to provide an exhaustive list of references because this is a blog post and not a formal paper. People interested in pursuing the subject in more detail can try putting the term homophily into Google Scholar and more than enough references can be found)

Homophily is the preference for things which are similar to ourselves. Sociological studies looking at how humans form relationship networks show that humans, nearly always, prefer to associate with people who are similar to themselves. Be that in race, class or custom. Furthermore this preference is observed from a very early age and across all races, well before the affects of socialisation kick in.

An interesting review paper, Childrens Developemental Understanding of Ethnicity and Race is long but worthwhile reading. Paralleling their cognitive development from concrete to more abstract, it appears that children become aware of the differences between individuals from as young as three years of age, and as they mature they become more specific with their understanding of differences. With further cognitive maturity they are able to abstract and  generalise these differences upon groups. It appears that this process is natural, in that it is not the result of parental education or socialisation but rather something that is innate. Attempts to try to thwart this process by trying to de-emphasise the differences only seems to exert a paradoxical effect, in that it results in a greater awareness of them.

McPherson et al, performed a rather large review of the subject, and their findings indicated that:
Homophily in race and ethnicity creates the strongest divides in our personal environments, with age, religion, education, occupation, and gender following in roughly that order.
It therefore appears that when we compare other individuals to ourselves we compare them against some predetermined hierarchy of values. It seems that we seem more attuned to racial differences than we do to educational ones and the fact that differential traits can be stratified in their importance is intself an interesting fact. I imagine that evolutionary biologists would invent some explanation to account for the phenomenon. I myself, prefer to acknowledge its existence and leave unto others speculations as to why it exists.

It appears that we are genetically biased to prefer "similars" overs "differents" and whatever the mechanism involved, there must be some form of cognitive/biochemical imperative that drives this: The selection is favoured by "psychological entropy", in other words, there is some psychological benefit for these choices.
This does not mean that this psychological imperative cannot be overcome. Other studies have demonstrated that in small groups, where there is limited choice in friendship formation, there is less homophily than in large groups. In other words, given a small group of people, a fellow similar person may possess traits which are in the net repulsive, and hence the individuals repulsion may overcome any homophillic tendency towards them, while a different may posses multiple attractive traits which overcomes the homophillic bias.  

I'm white but Halle Berry possess more than enough positive traits for me to choose her over Meryl Streep: always.

However in large groups, where there are more homophillic "choices" available, statistical probability prevails and people tend to gravitate towards similar individuals

An anonymous commentator sent me a fascinating link to a "turtle and frog experiment";
The social implications of this model are easier to see than the zoological ones. And the most interesting observation to come out of it is that even a moderate preference for living among your own kind can give rise to a dramatic pattern of segregation. What starts out as a salt-and-pepper mixture gradually evolves, over a few hundred iterations, into large blobs of almost uniform composition. Even though none of the individuals insist on racial purity, most of them wind up living with a very high percentage of neighbors like themselves.

It is a human tendency to extrapolate from the particular to the universal, thinking what works locally will work globally, and I think this is source of many of the problems in the West. Because Bill (the Black man) is very good friends with Peter (the Asian) whom he met at work( where there is a limited pool of homophilic choices), we generalise from this particular instance to assume that Asians and Blacks will naturally want to live together.  But this generalisation is flawed because given more choices, Bill and Peter will as a group, chose similars over differents en masse. The natural psychic energy works towards differentiation, even though there may be local areas of mixing.
What these latter processes have in common is that they tend to minimize surface area (or the area of interface between phases). It's not implausible that racial segregation also shares this tendency, and the discovery of a connection between a social process and certain physical systems would be illuminating.

The minimisation of surface area is an attempt to minimise the "energy" of the system. Now I think that there is this analogous "psychological energy" in human beings and it affects human behaviour in such a way that humans drift towards the lowest energy state (Happiness, calmness, etc) I imagine that when people are grouped with other similars,  it results in a low psychological energy state and are hence happy, while when grouped with differents (all other things being held constant) they exist at a higher energy state. There being a psychological imperative towards a lower state which results in happiness and less anxiety.

Now while relationships with similars results in a lower energy state. a similar who has other disagreeable features may may result in a higher "psychological energy state" than a different with lots of agreeable features. In this instance, a relationship with a different is relatively favoured. But this relationship would be at a higher energy state than a relationship between two compatible similars and hence still more prone to separation. This is confirmed in the studies which show that mixed groups have higher rates of dissolution than similar groups. The worker and the capitalist may join forces against the Nazi, but once the Nazi threat disappears they separate into their " entropically favoured" groups.

Now dissimilar groups can be bought together, but it comes at a cost. Since the psychic energy required to live amongst similars is lower than with differents, there is a natural tendency of dissimilar groups of people to seperate and self-identify, the only way to bring differents together is by pushing them together. An overriding power has to push against their natural inclinations and furthermore, the greather the dissimilarity between the two groups, the greater the overriding power that needs to be applied. Take away that power and the groups will seperate again.

Contrary to popular belief, the Serbs and the Croats do not have a long history of bloodshed with each other. Nearly all of it happening in the 20th Century, when they were joined together as a result of a variety of cultural and political forces. Within the former Yugoslavia, the differences between the two groups became more marked as the result of a bloody history and it required the repressive communist state to keep the country together by the application of extremely harsh penalties. When the Communist Government failed and this force was removed, the society reverted to its "least psychic energy" state, it broke apart. Paradoxically, the "ethnic cleansing" may have contributed to some of the stability of the region by separating the dissimilar groups. The only area of the former Yugoslavia that is still relatively "tense" is Bosnia where the groups have been forced to live together.

A multicultural state will only survive as long as it is strong enough to overcome the natural tendency of its constituent members to seperate, the more diversity the stronger the government needs to be to "keep it all together". Should the government fail, the state fractures.

Conservative thinkers have for too long been looking at multiculturalism as a racial issue instead of a human nature one. Pitting race against race instead of the realities of human nature against the fantasy of Leftist thought. People are homophillc in the same way that women are hypergamic, it's a fact of life.

Date set for Springfield City Council hearing on biomass incinerator

OK, this is it-- on Tuesday, May 17, 4:30 pm., at the request of Council President Jose Tosado and Councilor Melvin Edwards, Springfield City Council will hold a hearing to consider amending or revoking Palmer Renewable Energy's permit to construct a biomass incinerator in Springfield.

We who have been opposing this plant have been organizing for almost two years, doing everything we can think of to wake up our community to this threat to our already poor air.

I'll have a lot more to say about the City Council hearing in the days ahead, but there are two actions people opposed to biomass incinerators can take right now, whether you live in Springfield or not.

First, you can comment to the Dept. of Environmental Protection about the draft air permit for Palmer Renewable Energy.  From the Stop Toxic Incineration in Springfield website:

Stop Toxic Incineration in Springfield has recently learned that the developers of the PRE biomass incinerator have paid extra fees to 'fast-track' their state permitting process.  And they only need one more permit before they can put a shovel in the ground. Can you please spare a minute to click here and comment on the State's draft air permit? The deadline for the air permit comment period is Friday, April 29.

Hampden County is already home to the dirtiest, unhealthiest air in the state (please visit Several hazardous air pollutants are already alarmingly above allowable levels.  Springfield children have blood lead levels and respiratory disease rates twice that of the children of the state.

You can make a difference!  We have already stopped these developers from burning construction and demolition debris in their incinerator.  The state and city of Springfield are taking notice of our requests for clean air and its link to our health.  Thank you for continuing to support this citizen activist effort by sending the message that clean energy does not come from a smokestack. 

Second, you can sign a petition to Gov. Deval Patrick, asking for a three year moratorium on all biomass permits in Massachusetts.

More to come.

Photo from Basibanget's photostream at Flickr.

We have to stand up for homeless people whenever we can

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Homeless people chased from place to place....not a new story.  Please sign this petition and read more about it below.

I must say that ever since Arise has become involved in environmental justice work, the opportunities to take action on environmental issues overwhelm our inboxes!  But electronic opportunities to take an action for poor and homeless people remain rare. supports many causes, and has a section for Economic Justice.  Check out

Homeless mom prosecuted for sending child to "wrong" school

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A homeless mother in Connecticut has been charged with theft of "education expenses" totaling nearly $16,000 after it was discovered that she registered her son for school using the babysitter's address.

The Stamford Advocate reports:

A homeless woman from Bridgeport who enrolled her 6-year-old son at a Norwalk elementary school has become the first in the city to be charged with stealing more than $15,000 for the cost of her child's education.
Tonya McDowell, 33, whose last known address was 66 Priscilla St., Bridgeport, was charged Thursday with first-degree larceny and conspiracy to commit first-degree larceny for allegedly stealing $15,686 from Norwalk schools. She was released after posting a $25,000 bond.
McDowell's babysitter, Ana Rebecca Marques, was also evicted from her Roodner Court public housing apartment for providing documents to enroll the child at Brookside Elementary School.
According to the story, McDowell was primarily sleeping at a home in a different city, although she could not be there during the days, and also spent time at a local shelter.  The boy went to the sitter's house daily after school.

An argument could be made that as they had no permanent home, there is no reason why the babysitter's house isn't a place of residence, as it was a place he went to daily and had more permanence than their other living situations appeared to.  However, the school disagreed and decided after an investigation to press charges against the mother, claiming theft.

The Chair of the board of education admits the move is unusual -- normally a child found attending school out of district is just sent away.  Others are speculating why this case became the case that the district appears to be interested in using to "set an example" in order to discourage other parents from attempting to send their children to school with false addresses, especially since the mother obviously has no ability to pay for the "theft."   A lawyer involved in a similar case wonders why they wouldn't choose to go after someone where they may have a chance to get reimbursement back for the educational costs while making their point.

Could it be that the district is less concerned about sending a general example and more concerned about sending one geared to a specific audience?  Like, for example, the low-income and homeless in the area?
Mayor Richard Moccia said of the case,
"This now sends a message to other parents that may have been living in other towns and registering their kids with phony addresses."

Happy Earth Day

Candlelight vigil to support the Dunwell family

Fannie Mae is still pursuing a no-fault eviction of the Dunwell family even though the Dunwell family has stated their willingness and offered to pay rent, or purchase the home back at the current market value with an agreement to share any future equity appreciation. On Saturday, we will join together as a community to hold a candlelight vigil in support of the Dunwell family and make it clear to Fannie Mae that enough is enough! No-fault Evictions after foreclosure destroy our communities, leave families and children without homes and depress the value of homes throughout the neighborhood by creating more vacant and boarded up homes. 

GREED IS NO REASON TO EVICT! Come out and join the fight this Saturday! 
We are determined to stop the eviction of the Dunwell family and no-fault evictions after foreclosure throughout Springfield. 
We will block this eviction if necessary!

20 Hughes Street, Springfield, MA (in Forest Park off Belmont Ave via Woodlawn St.) 

David, Yanick and their 3 daughters (8, 11 and 13) are at risk of being evicted by Fannie Mae, after their home was foreclosed on by Bank of America.
The Dunwell’s fell behind in their mortgage payments only after David lost his human service job of 17 years due to severe state and federal budget cuts to Bridgewell, the private agency that he worked for.  He had no union and no protection. Bridgewell workers are now organizing with SEIU Local 509 so they’ll have protection from such treatment. Prior to losing his job, the Dunwell's had kept on their mortgage.  

In spite of his setback, David has recently been able to return to full-time work, and his wife Yanick also works full-time as a health care worker.  They have a dual income and a reliable, rent-paying tenant downstairs. 
With their current income, they could afford to purchase their home back from Fannie Mae at real market value, or to pay reasonable rent!

This case is so simple! Don’t evict no-fault! Sell back to the Dunwell family at real market value or accept rent and market occupied. The Dunwell’s are even willing to share any future equity appreciation with the bank. This is a better deal for Fannie Mae! 

How to support unions after breaking the labor taboo

I know there's been a lot of discussion (most of which I haven't been privy to directly) over the blog post I wrote about building trade union behavior at the Palmer Renewable Energy air permit hearing.  As I suspected might happen, my criticizing unions is of greater importance to at least some union members than the booing and bullying tactics of the building trades.  How quickly someone can move into the enemy camp by breaking a taboo: criticizing unions.

When I sat down to write my blog post, less than 24 hours after the hearing, relationships with unions was not the first thing on my mind.  Poor strategic thinking?  What very much was on my mind was the fear in the eyes of the children sitting in the Duggan Middle School auditorium who had come to talk about their own asthma.  They were bewildered.  They didn't understand what was happening.  I was ashamed that I had asked them to come only to be subjected to booing.  In fact I was furious, and still am.  But everyone who came to oppose the biomass incinerator felt attacked and traumatized-- even we relatively thick-skinned organizers

I admit I don't understand unions very well, beyond an intellectual level.  I've never been in a union, and most of the people in Arise, very low-wage workers, have never been in a union, either.  And yet we have never failed to support the organized labor movement.  Anyone who reads this blog, or my own blog MichaelannLand, knows that.  So a little context to the "Michaelann as enemy to the labor movement" might be warranted. And the rest of the labor movement, beyond the building trades who were present at the hearing, should be asking themselves: who really did harm to the public perception of organized labor on April 5?

At the same time, I could (and should)  have applied that context to my own blog post.  I wrote, " I will tell you that my first reaction was that you couldn't pay me enough for me to ever show up at another pro-union rally."  Well, yup, that was my first reaction.  But intellectually, I have not changed my mind about the absolute necessity of supporting organized labor.  Yesterday at Arise I was trying to explain to Ruben how unions help keep the wages up for everybody, not just union members, by using the fruit-picking story from The Grapes of Wrath.  He understood what I was saying, even though, at the air permit hearing, where he carried around our giant asthma inhaler, he got more than one sneer from members of the building trade unions.

After the air permit hearing, I asked a couple of my contacts in labor to explore three questions: 1. Is there a way that what happened at the air permit hearing could be used to build a bridge between the building trade unions, who often stand aloof from labor's larger struggles, and the rest of the movement?  2. How did the building trades so successfully mobilize at the air permit hearing, who paid for it, and were they likely to do it again at the still-pending city council hearing about PRE's local permit? And 3:  Is there any way that other unions could take stands against biomass? 

If any of these questions get answered in a way that moves us forward, then I'll try to decide if it's worth it to be viewed as the enemy by organized labor (although Stop Toxic Incineration in Springfield and Arise shouldn't be tarred with that brush).. I'm not at all convinced that there would be much discussion among local labor going on at all if I hadn't written what I did, even though I wish I had been clearer about not indicting all of labor.  Too many times our movement, such as it is, avoids tough questions,  fails to think seriously about what divides us, and calls out for solidarity when the foundation is shaky and ill-defined. I don't know why I think it should be any different this time around, but I still have hope.

Solidarity mural: Hands in Solidarity, Hands of Freedom mural on the side of the United Electrical Workers trade union building on West Monroe Street at Ashland Avenue in Chicago, Illinois-- photo from Atelier Teee's photostream at Flickr.

Holiday Hairspiration

Given it's Easter, I felt it appropriate to start of with the obvious...

How unreal are these though ? Most certainly an alternative to a hat or mask for a Races Day or Ball.

Hope you all have a  Happy and Safe Easter xx

Source: Unknown

It's a Wrap!

So I have been flat out with uni, but I have big things coming up including some DIY projects and another trend post, but most excitingly I will be conducting an  interview at Alannah Hill as part of an assignment I am working on (one of many!).

I just wanted to share with you something a friend shared with me.

Nail Wraps ..

I was sceptical at first, as I kind of just though they were a gimmick that only looked good on the packaging. Recently though, this phenomenon is taking off and I knew this cheaper and more accessible version was based on the $50 service Minx Nails provide. My friend purchased the GlamNail version sold at target for $9.99 and they looked great, and last approximately 2 weeks with a slight bit of wearing on the tips towards the end ( also avoid swimming if you want them to last longer). I also purchased the GlamNail version from target in the sparkly silver and tested them out just the other night. It was simply a matter of peeling and sticking then tearing excess away, it doesn't even matter if you stuff it up, because you can just pull it back off and re-stick. Once you have peeled away from the sticker they then become subjected to air and whilst they are already dry, over the next couple of hours they harden sot hat they won't move or peel back off.

So what do you think ?

I am officially hooked, it is an instant manicure, minus the fuss of waiting for nail polish to dry or the stress of smudging them!

I have now gone and bought 4 new colours (and patterns) which I found on ASOS on sale!!!!

How much better can it get.

Available here

Earth Day!

 Earth Day ‘11:  Facing Our Present and Future through Eco-Poetry, Prose, and Song
   Friday, April 22, 6:30-9:30pm, Northampton, Unitarian Universalist Society, 220 Main St.
Monday, May 2nd, 6:30-9pm, Greenfield , Second Congregational Church, Courthouse Square, (Near intersection of Main and Federal Streets)
 Valley poets, writers,  and musicians will offer their work focused on the ecological crisis facing—and caused by-- humanity.
 The poetry will include not only expression of the grief, fear, outrage, and despair felt by many, but also the vision and hope for healing the planet, and living in sustainable harmony with the earth and each other.  This is the first such gathering, which will continue once every three months with different artists presenting their work.
 Poet John Berkowitz of Shelburne will host, and offer his recent poems such as: Vapor Trails, Apples from China,  A Tsunami of Plastic,  Tech-knowledg-y or Ignorance,  and Honeybees: This Century’s Canary in the Coal Mine?  He and others will also read environmental poems by Mary Oliver, Billy Collins, Ellen Bass, Wendell Berry,  Marge Piercy, David Whyte, Galway Kinnell, and others.  Poetry in songs recorded by Bruce Cockburn,  Joni Mitchell,  Bruce Springsteen, Magpie, and others of national and local renown will also be played, listened to, and discussed.  People attending are also welcome to bring and read their own work, or favorites by others.  After each reading, the audience will be invited to share their response to the poem or song and what it expressed.  This will be limited to 5 minutes; and each responder will have not more than 1 minute, allowing others to have a turn. For those who wish to read along as well as listen, and take home the poems afterward, copies of each poem or song lyrics will be provided by those poets/writers who wish to do so.
 Participating poets/writers/musicians for Friday, April 22 *  Lori Desrosiers, Westfield poet, editor of Poetry News online calendar of  events, *  Jim Culleny, Shelburne poet/writer, op-ed column writer in Shelburne         Independent and Greenfield Recorder, *  Stan Pollock, Florence poet, *  Annie Hassett, Greenfield, musician/songwriter, *  Paul Richmond, Wendell poet/writer, host of Spoken Word events, *  Erica Wheeler, Colrain musician/songwriter
 Participating poets/writers/musicians for Monday, May 2 *     Susan Middleton, Ashfield poet, * Jay Mankita, Northampton musician/songwriter,  
 More info:  John Berkowitz, 413-625-6374
 Organization Co-Sponsors (not yet confirmed): Greening Greenfield, Traprock Peace Center, MoveOn, CAN, Safe and Green, Transition Towns: Greenfield, Shelburne, 350 Pioneer Valley   Alan Eccleton, National Priorities Project , Alliance for Peace and Justice, Arise for Social Justice, Stop toxic Incineration in Springfield, Connecticut River Watershed Alliance, Clean Water Action, American Friends Service Committee, Jobs With Justice, Coop Power, Center for Ecological Technology, Northampton Grow Food, Hungry Ghost Bread, Bread Euphoria, New England Organic Farmers Association, New England Solar Energy Association, Concerned Citizens of Franklin County plus Spfld/Russell group, PV Local First, Amherst Sustainability Fair, Seeds of Solidarity (Orange), North Star Self-Directed Learning for Teens, Boys To Men Teen Mentoring Program, Charlemont Academy

Apologies and Commentary.

Apologies to my readers in not getting back to you earlier. Let's just say its been an incredibly hectic few weeks and jet lag has not helped.

The first thing that I want to say is that after putting up the post I realised that I had made an error. As some of the commentators correctly pointed out, Sammy Davis Jr was sitting down when compared to the others, this therefore biased the experiment, as he is both black and sitting down, therefore he was more likely to be picked, biasing the result.

There was no correct answer for this experiment. The purpose of the experiment was to see who people identified as different when asked to make a choice. From the comments section, it appears that some individuals differentiated people by their prior knowledge of them. As some commentators mentioned, Peter Lawford was born in England and the rest of group were born in the U.S., and yet, there is no way you could tell that just by looking at the picture. In other words, people were differentiating on the basis of their pre-concieved knowledge of the subject material. They weren't differentiating on what they saw they were differentiating on what they knew.

What's interesting to see is who wasn't picked as different:  Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Peter Lawford.  Dean Martin appears the tallest standing member and yet he was least likely picked. Why?
Frank Sinatra is the shortest guy standing so one would suppose that at least a few votes would have gone his way.

Joey Bishop and Sammy Davis Jr were the most likely to be picked. Clearly Sammy Davis Jr. is black and the only guy sitting down. While Joey Bishop doesn't have a tie.

As I said, this experiment was biased and therefore it's difficult to draw many conclusions from it but perhaps we could say that stature is less of a discriminating factor than clothing and skin colour.


The reason I put this post up was because of reflection upon the events in the New Orleans Superdome during Hurricane Katrina.  It was set up as a refugee center and it soon became apparent that people who were complete strangers associated on the basis of skin color. Colin Powell, who has probably been America's best and most dignified Secretary of State recalled that that during his time as a national security advisor:
KING: Were you ever racially profiled?

POWELL: Yes, many times.

KING: And didn't you ever bring anger to it?

POWELL: Of course. But, you know, anger is best controlled. And sure I got mad.
I got mad when I, as a national security adviser to the president of the United States, I went down to meet somebody at Reagan National Airport and nobody recognized -- nobody thought I could possibly be the national security adviser to the president. I was just a black guy at Reagan National Airport.
And it was only when I went up to the counter and said, "Is my guest here who's waiting for me?" did somebody say, "Oh, you're General Powell." It was inconceivable to him that a black guy could be the national security adviser.

KING: How do you deal with things like that?

POWELL: You just suck it up. What are you going to do? It was a teaching point for him. Yes, I'm the national security adviser, I'm black. And watch, I can do the job. So, you have this kind of -- there is no African-American in this country who has not been exposed to this kind of situation.
Do you get angry? Yes. Do you manifest that anger? You protest, you try to get things fixed, but it's kind of a better course of action to take it easy and don't let your anger make the current situation worse.

 My point here is not to get into the rights or wrongs of racism but to try and understand the phenomenon. It would appear that tallness and shortness is less of a discriminating factor than clothing or skin colour. And why, in the Superdome, where people were complete strangers, did people divide  themselves spontaneously according to skin colour? I have difficulty believing that all the Blacks in the Superdome were bad and that all the Whites good.

What I'm getting at is that our brains may be wired to weight certain differences more than others  and that there may be default associative behaviours based solely upon appearances. Racism may be more about appearances than genetics. In much the same way females are wired to respond sexually to alpha traits, perhaps people are wired to respond positively to people who appear similar to themselves and negatively to people who look different. That is not say that this attraction/repulsion cannot be overcome, rather it's a force that may be ever present in the human psyche that needs to be taken account of by any student of human nature.

These maps of U.S. cities are stark illustration of how racially divided the country is, and yet I image many people have friends from different races. Here is an interesting map of London. These maps may not necessarily be reflections of a deliberate policy of racial segregation, rather they may be the natural effect of human beings wanting to associate with similar individuals because it is psychically beneficial.  Prolonged personal contact with individuals of different races may be able to overcome our wired genetic bias, but it is a bias that remains each time we are confronted with an unknown individual/s. What this means is that while we may like and feel comfortable around a  particular example of a people who look different,  we may still be uncomfortable with the rest.

The Hoe Down.

Did you ever consider that fashion trends stream from movies as well as the run way ?

Recently the Cohen Brothers block buster hit movie True Grit hit the screens. The movie it's self I found quite enjoyable but I could help but think the whole time I was watching it ... This all looks oddly familiar !

This  is 14 year old Mattie, who is on the search for her fathers killer.
This is Lawman, he is a Texas Marshall who accompanies Mattie on her quest.

 Now lookie here!

Presenting Hermes 2011 S/S collection courtesy of

Behold ... I give you the trickle down effect  yet again! Not only can we see evidence in the style of clothing, but also in the use of colours such as mustard, rust, dark green, black and varying shades of brown. Textural fabrics like lust worth sheers, delicate leathers and sued. Ensembles finished off with a True Grit Mattie style hat and a waisted belt, boy-friend style.

Without a doubt this trend would continue to integrate down in to retail stores such as ASOS where we can see moderated versions and more practical day wear options that still channel the  1969 Western True Grit theme.

All stock available here - They are having a sale by the way ... up to 50% off!

The only numbers you need to know to understand the budget debate.

Republican plan for the next ten years:
Cut spending on government programs over the next decade by $4.3 trillion. 
Cut tax revenues over the same period by $4.2 trillion. 

In other words: steal from the poor (actually,  steal from almost everyone) and give to the rich.

Oh, and squeeze social policy change in there, too, most of which will benefit corporations by removing regulations.

Here we are in Western Massachusetts desperately fighting to stop three polluting biomass proposals tokeep our air from getting any worse than it is, and yet the Environmental Protection Agency is going to lose 16% of its funding just in the current, stop-gap budget.  Republicans say that environmental regulations hurt jobs.  What they really mean is it hurts corporations, two-thirds of whom paid no federal taxes at all last year.

I've often wondered just what rich people think they and their children are going to do in twenty, fifty or a hundred years, after they've completely ruined the economy and the environment.  Living in gated communities won't cut it, because the rich will still have to breathe the same air.  Live underground?  Colonize the moon?  Are they really that self-delusional?

I hope it's clear to everyone that winning protections on the local level is about all we've got--  that's not saying much, given that federal cuts produce state cuts and state cuts produce local cuts....but at least, in terms of the mayor and city council, we put these folks in office and we can take them out again if they fail to listen to what the people of Springfield want.

Arise recently joined a statewide coalition, Campaign for Our Communities, which is basically about restoring the income tax rate to 5.9%, with subsidies and rebates for anyone earning under $100,000 so that we would not experience the increase.  Only we're not supposed to frame it as raising taxes!  And we're not supposed to talk about the cuts poor people are experiencing, supposedly because that's not the "message" that will resonate with the middle class-- who wants to protect poor people?

Frankly, I'm sick of the bull, from progressives as well as reactionaries. Let's start telling the truth, people, it's class warfare, and we, the poor and working class,  didn't start it.  But we'd better get ready to fight it.

Photo from ElyceFeliz's photostream at Flickr.

Extremely hazardous air today!

And Palmer Renewable Energy wants to add to this!  Hey, Springfield people, keep calling your city councilors and tell them you want them to revoke PRE's permit-- and everyone else,  and for sign this petition asking for a three year moratorium on air permits for biomass plants.

More info: Partnership for Policy Integrity.

This Saturday: Arise Annual Meeting!

All Welcome at the
Arise Annual Meeting
Saturday, April 16, 1 – 4 pm.
Christ Church Cathedral
Lunch and social: 1 pm.
Our campaigns and elections: 1:30
Guest speaker: Patricia Montes, Centro Presente, Boston: 3 pm.
“The Reality of Latinos in Our Community”

End foreclosures      Stop police brutality

Fight for cleaner air  Human rights for all

Fight hate and homophobia    End Poverty

Protect homeless and poor people let our voices be heard!     

For more information, call Arise for Social Justice, your low-income rights organization, at 734-4948 – Call if you need childcare.  Bring a dish for lunch if you can, or just come!