Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The shape of things

This week on Virtually Speaking Sundays, Jay Ackroyd and Avedon Carol did a little round-up of our top ten issues. There's an outline with the relevant links here.

* * * * *

Here's an astonishing piece of crap from Alan Dershowitz:

As far as Greenwald is concerned, he's an ideologue. I don't think he would have revealed this information if it had been critical of Venezuela or Cuba or the Palestinian Authority. You know, he doesn't like America. He doesn't like Western democracies. He's never met a terrorist he didn't like. So he's a very hard-left ideologue that uses this to serve his political agenda not simply to reveal information in a neutral way. That makes him very different from WikiLeaks, I think.
I love the idea that (a) a concerned citizen should be criticizing other countries when their own government is clearly violating the rights of its citizens and (b) when you know the most powerful country in the world is committing egregious crimes and atrocities, you should aim all of your criticisms at Venezuela. Because they are so much more of a threat to the world, I guess. It's like saying that Germans during the rise of the Third Reich should have been pointing with alarm at Ecuador or something.

New article from Der Spiegel on the NSA's secret toys, and Glenn Greenwald saying the NSA can "Literally Watch Every Keystroke You Make."
Bill Moyers on What the Press Should Learn From the 'Snowden Effect'
Watch Mediastan, the WikiLeaks road movie.
"If you aren't doing anything wrong, you have nothing to hide from the cancer-inducing scan."

* * * * *

So, was De Blasio just another spit in the eye of democracy? Someone realized people were beginning to see through the test-marketed half-truths of the "centrists" and decided to go with full-throated pretence? I mean, De Blasio did pretend to oppose stop-and-frisk, and yet he keeps appointing these awful people.

Matt Taibbi says the "Outrageous HSBC Settlement Proves the Drug War is a Joke: If you've ever been arrested on a drug charge, if you've ever spent even a day in jail for having a stem of marijuana in your pocket or "drug paraphernalia" in your gym bag, Assistant Attorney General and longtime Bill Clinton pal Lanny Breuer has a message for you: Bite me."

"An Open Letter to the Makers of The Wolf of Wall Street, and the Wolf Himself"

"Moguls Rent South Dakota Addresses to Dodge Taxes Forever" - People talk about that building in the Cayman Islands, but it's even worse than that: "Among the nation's billionaires, one of the most sought-after pieces of real estate right now is a quiet storefront in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. [...] While the super-rich use various tools to escape the levy - - some have exotic names like the 'Jackie O' trust and the 'Walton GRAT' -- the advantage of dynasty trusts is that they shield a family's wealth forever. That defies the spirit of the estate tax, enacted almost 100 years ago to discourage the perpetuation of dynastic wealth. "

"Cash Handouts Are Changing Inequality In Brazil: This is the same guaranteed minimum income idea that's being kicked around now, but it has a couple of things going against it. First, it works. Second, the right-wingers are aghast at giving money to people for doing nothing -- unless they're transferring untaxed wealth via trusts or estates to their ne'er-do-well children."

Dept. of Best Country in the World: "The opposite of what they do in America"

Odd Man Out on "The ill logic of the lower classes [..] When I got back here I asked the swamp rabbit, an amateur shrink as well as a closet bibliophile, why my former neighbor and I had shied away from one another. He spit into the Tinicum swamp and said, 'Your ex-neighbor feels like a bum. He'd feel even more like a bum talking to you, because you knew him when he had a house. And I reckon you didn't want him to know you feel like a bum, too.' I reminded the rabbit that I'm a fiction writer, not a bum. He asked me what the difference was. It was noon, but he already smelled like he'd finished off a bottle."

The P.U.-Litzers: Here Are the Stinkiest Media Moments of 2013

Robert Reich's End of Year Message has him singing Freddy Mercury, which is entertaining, even if it ends up sounding a bit too much like partisan cheerleading. Still, there's some optimism in the air, and maybe it'll amount to something.

"Why are we fat?"

"How Fanzines Helped Put Doctor Who Fans in Charge of Doctor Who"

Stupid Comics

The horrifying truth about Back to the Future

Ten years on: "Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The legacy of the teen heroine"

The only painting Vincent ever sold

Max Frost and the Troopers

One of the things I've been doing in Second Life over the last few years was throwing events that involve hiring DJs. When they find out that I love the Beatles, they cleverly include in their sets what are apparently the only four Beatles songs they can think of. These are usually: "Yellow Submarine", "Birthday", "Octopus's Garden", and "Maxwell's Silver Hammer". It took me a while to realize that there is at least one generation out there that perceives the Beatles as some sort of producer of children's music and novelty songs. It was rather startling to have to take them aside and tell them that those are not songs that really exemplify the Beatles' work and that if they'd never produced them I really would never have missed them.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

I pray on Christmas

Once again, Christmas distracted me from posting, so catching up with the entire week here:

For the Christmas tradition:
- Mark Evanier's wonderful Mel Tormé story, and here's the man himself in duet with Judy Garland.
- Joshua Held's Christmas card, with a little help from the Platters.
- Brian Brink's virtuoso performance of "The Carol of the Bells"
- "Merry Christmas from Chiron Beta Prime."
- Ron Tiner's one-page cartoon version of A Christmas Carol
- And this year, Neil reads us A Christmas Carol.

* * * * *

The prezzies are below, but first, the news and politics:

Nice clip of Chris Hayes interviewing Elizabeth Warren - good questions, good answers.

Michael Bloomberg's New York is one he turned into a nightmare for many ordinary people so it could become a playground for billionaires, but he likes to pretend that God did it.

Libby's round-up on security and freedom issues - Snowden et al., Mandela.

Mika Brzezinski is enough to try anyone's patience, but in this case it was Glenn Greenwald.

"Federal Judge Rules That Same-Sex Marriage Is Legal in Utah." Utah. Wow.

"A Very Adult Social Security Tantrum: Centrist Dems are horrified by Elizabeth Warren's plan to raise benefits. But populists aren't backing down."

"Bob Newhart cancels appearance at anti-LGBT Catholic event."

"Growing Scientific Consensus on GMO Safety Fears [...] "For many years we have been bombarded with the comment that there is a 'scientific consensus' that GMOs are safe and we now have a large group of scientists who say this is not the case. We are now putting the theory forward that actually there is now a 'scientific consensus' that 'GMO safety has not been correctly tested'. This is purely to show that anyone can use the term 'scientific consensus'." "The party's over, Monsanto."

Dean Baker, "Inequality: Government Is a Perp, Not a Bystander: In his speech on inequality earlier this month President Obama proclaimed that the government could not be a bystander in the effort to reduce inequality, which he described as the defining moral issue of our time. This left millions convinced that Obama would do nothing to lessen inequality. The problem is that President Obama wants the public to believe that inequality is something that just happened. It turns out that the forces of technology, globalization, and whatever else simply made some people very rich and left others working for low wages or out of work altogether. The president and other like-minded people feel a moral compulsion to reverse the resulting inequality. This story is 180 degrees at odds with the reality. Inequality did not just happen, it was deliberately engineered through a whole range of policies intended to redistribute income upward."

Her Majesty's Privatized Prison Christmas: "For the first time this Christmas, people in prison will not be able to receive parcels from their loved ones under petty and mean new rules introduced by the Justice Secretary Chris Grayling. The new rules, which forbid prisoners from receiving any items in the post unless there are exceptional circumstances, were introduced in November as part of the government's changes to the Incentives and Earned Privileges (IEP) scheme. Under the rules, families are prevented from sending in basic items of stationery such as cards, paper or pens to help people in prison keep in touch with their friends and families and wish them a happy Christmas. They are also prevented from sending books and magazines or additional warm clothes and underwear to the prison. Instead people in prison are now forced to pay for these items out of their meagre prison wages to private companies who make a profit from selling goods to prisoners."

"De Blasio Hires Goldman Sachs Exec To Make City More Affordable: For all his campaign bluster against the two cities New York has become, Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio isn't exactly shying away from some of the people who helped make it that way. This morning, the mayor-elect announced that Alicia Glen will serve as Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development, a newly created position that will aim to make housing more affordable, as well create living-wage jobs for New Yorkers. 'We need to invest in key emerging industries and affordable housing so New Yorkers have a better shot at working their way into the middle class. Alicia has the record, fresh ideas and bold outlook to make that vision a reality,' said de Blasio at this morning's press conference. De Blasio discussed Glen's vast experience, but mostly skirted the topic of Glen's last position, as the head of Goldman Sachs's Urban Investment Group."

Rachel Maddow was particularly interested in this question and answer from a legislator who is trying to ban abortion in his state, from Al Jazeera's "The Abortion War".

And Pareene's No. 1 Hack is Mike Allen, but it turns out that the president's favorite columnists are a rather disturbing Hacklist all on their own.

The Public Editor of The New York Times, currently Margaret Sullivan, comes out against the term "entitlements".
Brendan Nyhan (of all people!) acknowledges: "Political centrism is not objectivity: How the media wrongly treats deficit reduction as non-ideological."

Langford explains David Cameron's brilliant new internet protection firewall and the incredibly dangerous sites you can't reach.
"Some websites should be unblockable" - Just what exactly do British Telecom et al. think they are protecting children from?

"I wrote the Anarchist Cookbook in 1969. Now I see its premise as flawed."

I used to say that the only thing that was better about health care in the US when I lived there was that the furniture was better. Actually, this may not be true. After all, I was seeing doctors in Montgomery County, and those were better days for American health care, too. If I want quality furniture, I can still pay for it by seeing a Harley Street doctor, but I'm just happy that the quality of care in the UK is good, and it's free - and my doctor doesn't have a TV or radio on in his waiting room. Not that I have to wait in there very long, but it really does sound like it's American HellCare over there.

Yves Smith, "Was Scrooge a Neoliberal? [...] Now in reading a story that is 170 years old, it's far too easy to overdo projecting the preoccupations of our era on to a very different time. But politically and economically, we are in the midst of a finance-led counterrevolution, in which the top wealthy, having succeeded in taking an ever-larger share of assets and wealth, are seeking to cement and extend their gains by rolling back hard-won labor reforms and social welfare programs. Their immediate target is the New Deal, but they'll take as much ground as they can. That makes Victorian England more relevant than it might seem."

Patrick Durusau, "A Salinas Card" - Because the Supreme Court just decided that if you don't already know your rights, you don't have them.

"That's how they getcha [...] But still, screw capitalism. Corporate hotel chains of the sort where one attends academic conferences are particularly good places for cultivating the experience of being had. A couple of years ago I booked a hotel room for AMS and the clerk taking my reservation over the phone got the date wrong, giving me an extra night on the Wednesday before the conference started. I showed up on Thursday and the check-in clerk told me I had missed the first night of my reservation and would be obliged to pay. I pointed out that I never reserved Wednesday night. She pointed out that it didn't matter: they had sent out a confirmation email that, had I read it, would have informed me of the mistake in enough time to change my reservation. And that's how they getcha. Of course I didn't read the confirmation email; neither do I read the 90-page terms-of-service agreement for which you have to click 'agree' before your new update of iTunes (or whatever) will run. Neither I nor anyone I know has the time to read every piece of responsibility-evading legalism spewed up in the course of any average daily negotiation of commercial civilization. Most of the time it still wouldn't matter even if I did, because I would need a lawyer to explain what any of it is saying. You can only give full informed consent to everything that demands it by belonging to the class of person who erected the whole system in the first place. You have to be 'good at capitalism'; you have to be in on the trick."

"Bradford synagogue saved by city's Muslims: It was around this time last year that the trustees of Bradford's final remaining synagogue faced a tough choice. The roof of the Grade II-listed Moorish building was leaking; there was serious damage to the eastern wall, where the ark held the Torah scrolls; and there was no way the modest subscriptions paid annually by the temple's 45 members could cover the cost. [...] But rather than close, Bradford Reform Synagogue's future is brighter than ever after the intervention of Bradford's Muslim community, which according to the 2011 census outnumbers the city's Jews by 129,041 to 299. A fundraising effort - led by the secretary of a nearby mosque, together with the owner of a popular curry house and a local textile magnate - has secured the long-term future of the synagogue and forged a friendship between Bradfordian followers of Islam and Judaism."

RIP: Dave Ettlin's amazing Aunt Alice, 1907-2013. "'And what a great time my brother Ben and I had running into every room, pushing buttons just to see the lights go on,' she wrote. A house with electricity, papa's 'Tin Lizzy' car with a crank-operated starter, an ice box refrigerator that needed a 10-cent block of ice to keep stuff cold. It was another world back then." She was a special lady.

RIP: Legendary pornographer and free speech radical Al Goldstein, 77

The EFF's NSA Crossword Puzzle

Your cute animal story for the day: Dog cares for tiny kitten.

This is something I never knew about Wally Cox.

The making of a London Underground poster

An amazing bit of pencil art

In which Susan never lost Narnia - she took it with her.

Sherlock Mini-Episode: Many Happy Returns

The Zombies still make me feel good.

Blind Boys of Alabama

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

How many psychiatrists does it take to change a lightbulb?

And then inequality happened: "But as he turned to characterize the Great Recession, Obama's speech pattern changed: He shifted to a sentence structure that excludes human actors from the subject position. 'The deck is stacked' against the working class, Obama said. Why? Because 'taxes were slashed,' he said, and 'growth has flowed to a fortunate few.' His language gave no indication of who brought about these disparities."
"Time to bury the Clinton economic legacy [...] Many Democrats want to preserve the fiction that the prosperity of the late 1990s was due to deficit reduction rather than an unsustainable stock bubble."

"From the Bullet to the Ballot: An Unfavorable Review of a Work on the Black Panther Party" - Black Agenda Report managing editor and former Black Panther Party member Bruce Dixon on how black establishment historians are deleting the history of black analysis and conscience from the record. Big afros were cool, and then Barack Obama got elected president. You'd think no one knew any Vietnam vets and that Dr. King never spoke out against war and capitalism. "No matter what Bobby Seale says these days, putting black faces in high places is not why I was there, it's not why most of us were there. If you bother to listen to Fred Hampton's patter in the movie about Papa Doc and others, you can see it's not why he was there, it's certainly not why the Illinois Chapter of the BPP was there. It's not what our martyrs were slain for, or what some of our comrades did decades in prison for, or why some of them are still serving time. We were fighting for the end of oppression of men (and women) by man, something a little broader and deeper than many of those who pass for "black power" advocates did then or do today." (Also at BAR, this news round-up says de Blasio is, sadly, not exactly reversing course from Giuliani in his pick for Police Commissioner.)

Digby: "Are we seeing the beginning of a divide and conquer strategy on wealth inequality? I wonder if anyone else has been struck by the oddity of the president and other elite luminaries responding to Elizabeth Warren's populist message for the middle class with rhetoric and policies to help the poor? If one were the least bit cynical, one might think it was a strategy to divide the left along the usual lines --- by offering the only solution as being limited to taking from average workers to help the truly desperate. Leaving the very wealthy alone. Of course." I don't think this is at all a cynical take - it's what hostage-taking is all about. Convincing us that we need to "help the poor" at the expense of making us all poorer is a canny trick, but if we let them get away with it, there will be no relief at all for the poor, which will be 99% of us.

Stupid "job creator" tricks: "At Sears, Eddie Lampert's Warring Divisions Model Adds to the Troubles [...] In January, eight years after Lampert masterminded Kmart's $12 billion buyout of Sears in 2005, the board appointed him chief executive officer of the 120-year-old retailer. The company had gone through four CEOs since the merger, yet former executives say Lampert has long been running the show. Since the takeover, Sears Holdings' sales have dropped from $49.1 billion to $39.9 billion, and its stock has sunk 64 percent. Its cash recently fell to a 10-year low. Although it has plenty of assets to unload before bankruptcy looms, the odds of a turnaround grow longer every quarter. 'The way it's being managed, it doesn't work,' says Mary Ross Gilbert, a managing director at investment bank Imperial Capital. 'They're going to continue to deteriorate.' Plagued by the realities threatening many retail stores, Sears also faces a unique problem: Lampert. Many of its troubles can be traced to an organizational model the chairman implemented five years ago, an idea he has said will save the company. Lampert runs Sears like a hedge fund portfolio, with dozens of autonomous businesses competing for his attention and money. An outspoken advocate of free-market economics and fan of the novelist Ayn Rand, he created the model because he expected the invisible hand of the market to drive better results. If the company's leaders were told to act selfishly, he argued, they would run their divisions in a rational manner, boosting overall performance. Instead, the divisions turned against each other - and Sears and Kmart, the overarching brands, suffered."

"Inside the Saudi 9/11 coverup" - It's always seemed particularly strange to me that everyone agreed to completely ignore the fact that most of the hijackers were Saudi nationals and went from a "the hijackers were acting alone" theory straight to a "Saddam did it!" when it was time to pivot to Iraq without even a moment's eye to the country that has been exporting extremist Wahabism and nurtured the hijackers themselves. "But the White House never let it see an entire section of Congress' investigative report on 9/11 dealing with 'specific sources of foreign support' for the 19 hijackers, 15 of whom were Saudi nationals. It was kept secret and remains so today. President Bush inexplicably censored 28 full pages of the 800-page report. Text isn't just blacked-out here and there in this critical-yet-missing middle section. The pages are completely blank, except for dotted lines where an estimated 7,200 words once stood (this story by comparison is about 1,000 words). A pair of lawmakers who recently read the redacted portion say they are 'absolutely shocked' at the level of foreign state involvement in the attacks. Reps. Walter Jones (R-NC) and Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) can't reveal the nation identified by it without violating federal law. So they've proposed Congress pass a resolution asking President Obama to declassify the entire 2002 report, 'Joint Inquiry Into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001.'"

Edward Snowden: "An Open Letter to the People of Brazil [...] They even keep track of who is having an affair or looking at pornography, in case they need to damage their target's reputation. American Senators tell us that Brazil should not worry, because this is not "surveillance," it's "data collection." They say it is done to keep you safe. They're wrong. There is a huge difference between legal programs, legitimate spying, legitimate law enforcement - where individuals are targeted based on a reasonable, individualized suspicion - and these programs of dragnet mass surveillance that put entire populations under an all-seeing eye and save copies forever. These programs were never about terrorism: they're about economic spying, social control, and diplomatic manipulation. They're about power. [...] If Brazil hears only one thing from me, let it be this: when all of us band together against injustices and in defense of privacy and basic human rights, we can defend ourselves from even the most powerful systems."

"Colorado professor forced to retire over prostitution lecture in 'deviant sociology' course [...] Patricia Adler told Inside Higher Ed that she was offered an ultimatum: accept a buyout, or stay but risk being fired and losing her retirement benefits if any student complained about her course in the future."

Alex Pareene is doing the Hacklist, and he's done a masterful job of channeling Thomas Friedman that had me giggling away - but who can the others be when Friedman is only number 9? Oh, well, one who outranked him this time is Richard Cohen, I see.

"Chicago's 'Smart Card' Debacle and Privatisation" - Sirota read this the same way I did, that it's more like a sit-com scenario than any kind of serious plan for a city's transport - but what it's really about, of course, is massive corruption.

Atrios is one of very few guys - hell, very few people - who are willing to use their platform to make the case for female freedom in a substantive way. It's not freedom for women to be terrified all the time that some guy is going to have sex with you, just FYI, and it's certainly not freedom to have your friends and family members constantly trying to prevent it. Sex can be a lot of things - messy, embarrassing, even dangerous (especially if you have been schooled by abstinence-only "educators" who told you a pack of lies to make sure you don't know what the hell you're doing), but it can also be revelatory great fun that makes life worth living.

"I thought I'd never understand ObamaCare until I read these eleven words from a Washington Post columnist: 'Insurers look at these next few years as a gold rush.'"

7 Rip-Offs Corporations and the Wealthy Don't Want You to Know About

Ted Rall cartoon: "Why Do You Hate Obama?"
Among things that could Never Happen....

Always sad to see someone you've always admired turn into a jerk.

20 things the poor really do every day

Sam Seder for the war against the war on Christmas.

Playlist for Life: "There is mounting evidence that if people with dementia are offered frequent access to the music in which their past experience and memories are embedded, it can improve their present mood, their awareness, their ability to understand and think and their sense of identity and independence. No matter how far their dementia has progressed."

"What These Dragon Blood Trees Do Is Straight Out Of Mythology. Except It's Completely Real." They look pretty strange to me, too.

Tales from the Unexpected: Christopher Lee's heavy metal Christmas tune

Watch Sweethearts of the Galaxy Episode 3 Now!

"The greatest rock n' roll Christmas song of all time", the way it should be heard.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

All the world's links at once

Scheduled for tonight's Virtually Speaking Sundays, "Joan McCarter and Jay Ackroyd compare and contrast the media attention to the beleaguered centrist Dems with John Podesta's appointment to a new position of power, and then discuss the pros and cons of cutting discretionary spending."

David Dayen in The American Prospect on Robbing Illinois's Public Employees serves as homework for that last Virtually Speaking Sundays Dday did with Gaius Publius.
And Sam Seder's interview with David Dayen on The Majority Report.

Public and Private Sector Payroll Jobs: Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama

At Naked Capitalism, Yves reposts "Bill Moyers: The Great American Class War, Plutocracy Versus Democracy".

Believe it or not, George W. Bush actually tried to close down the gulag at Gitmo but Cheney undercut him. Today's Cheney is Democratic Party honcho Steve Israel, who has kept Gitmo running despite opposition from just about everyone.

Atrios accidentally linked this two-year-old article about how Bush tried to find dirt on Juan Cole to discredited him, but it's worth reminding that this is exactly why we don't want our intelligence and law-enforcement apparatus storing back-data on every little thing you might have done in the past.
And Juan Cole certainly gets that, so he wrote, "Dear Pres. Obama: Dissent isn't Possible in a Surveillance State," in response to Obama's eulogy for Nelson Mandela: "Obama praised dissent in the service of human rights, but has done everything in his power to suppress dissent. Dissent can come from within the ranks of government employees (indeed, since 3% of the work force in the US is employed by the Federal government if you count the military, it would have to). If Mr. Obama truly valued dissent in the service of human rights, he would persuade his Attorney General to drop charges against Edward Snowden and he would use his presidential pardon to release Chelsea Manning from penitentiary. These two are dissenters, the one in prison and the other facing prosecution if the US could get its hands on him. They saw their government do things that they found ethically repugnant and blatantly unconstitutional, which the government had hidden from the citizens whom it was supposed to be serving. Their revelations of what they knew was the highest form of morality. [...] Greatness has escaped Mr. Obama. He seems content to be the community organizer of the Federal government, asking Congress and Federal officials what they think they need and offering to try to get it for them. That isn't leadership. His response to the NSA leaks was to announce that the country could now have a discussion of the practices, as though the citizenry could discuss matters being actively hidden from them, on which a sitting senator like Wyden is muzzled. Mr. Obama's chance at greatness is before him. Most of the abuses are in the executive, over which he largely has control. He could initiate major reforms restoring constitutional liberties. If he does not, he is very unfortunately choosing to play P.W. Botha, not Nelson Mandela."

Echidne says we need a different concept of "infrastructure": "All the things that a First World country is expected to have: Not only roads, bridges, communication systems, cheap-and-efficient transportation systems, but also clean water, safe food, schools which provide the citizens of the country with the needed skills and knowledge, basic safety nets which protect them against major illness, the pains of old age and utter poverty."

More NSA fallout, or "Why there won't be a third book in the Halting State trilogy" - because reality has caught up too fast with Charlie's imagination.

Dean Baker has to explain TPP to Paul Krugman. Yves Smith is distressed by the role Krugman has chosen to play - but heartened by the critical response of his loyal readers.
Spocko spends a minute-and-a-half pretending to be Ross Perot to tell us why there should be NO Fast Track on Trans Pacific Partnership Job Killer.
And here's Sam Seder talking to Zach Carter about TPP on The Majority Report.

How Slate redefines a push-back - Dave Weigel's weird article about how the left "made up" a debate about Social Security expansion. This is a very odd way to frame a story about how objecting to having policy made by people no one agrees with actually worked for a change. Well, they do have someone's support.

I'm sorry, you can't blame the internet for the fact that a story went viral because no one had time to check it. The Newspapers of Record have been printing crap since before there was an internet. And since the internet has been around for some time now, why is The New York Times suddenly noticing that there are fake stories around? I mean, jeez, those people get paid for the so-called gate-keeping and fact-checking and editing that allegedly goes on. If they can't do better than a lazy, sloppy, unpaid slob like me, why should anyone pay attention to them at all, let alone pay money for their product?

Like I've said for the last 12 years, the great thing about bloggers (the independent, unsalaried kind) is that they're not part of the beltway consensus, and they don't depend for their income on saying things that are pleasing to powerful, connected, people.

Even Reagan's labor secretary ultimately had to agree: "You can't run an economy like that."

Why I Make Terrible Decisions, or, poverty thoughts [...] I know how to cook. I had to take Home Ec to graduate high school. Most people on my level didn't. Broccoli is intimidating. You have to have a working stove, and pots, and spices, and you'll have to do the dishes no matter how tired you are or they'll attract bugs. It is a huge new skill for a lot of people. That's not great, but it's true. And if you fuck it up, you could make your family sick. We have learned not to try too hard to be middle-class. It never works out well and always makes you feel worse for having tried and failed yet again. Better not to try. It makes more sense to get food that you know will be palatable and cheap and that keeps well. Junk food is a pleasure that we are allowed to have; why would we give that up? We have very few of them."

Microaggressions - I grew up in a neighborhood where we were all living in the house our parents brought us home to from the hospital, and the other kids used to ask me, "Where are you from?" I'm from here, you nitwit!

Waterstone's responds - well, hell, that's where I wanna get my books from!

World's biggest snowglobe, Piccadilly Circus
What London Would Look Like If the Thames Barrier Had Failed

Licia Ronzulli takes her daughter to work - in parliament.

It's funny how often people refer to camera work (Photoshop, air-brushing, "touching up") as why models and stars look better-than-real in photos and film, but it's amazing how much of the work happens in make-up.

This article about Dave van Ronk and the new film about him brought up Lee Hoffman's folk bio, 'cause she was a pal of van Ronk and, of course, did a fanzine about that scene, too.

The Wreath of Khan

An Evening With Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer
And here's a nice photo of them with the Guardian story.

"When I Finally Realized What I Was Seeing, This Was The Coolest Thing Ever. Look Closer."

I saw this long ad on my TV and went to find it, and discovered there is a different and longer clip that is apparently a three-minute trailer for a seven-minute film. Odd. Oh, and apparently a director's cut of the ad.

Paul Krugman recommended this music, which is kinda neat.

Reginald D. Hunter on The trouble with Batman

For Daria fans

Wholock - an amazing bit of fan work.

"Carol of the Brains" - for your Zombie Christmas.
"Regeneration Carol"
And the baby hurricane made us play this one about eight times.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

All I want for Christmas

Well, you know me - all I want is right there in the Preamble of the US Constitution. Well, and a higher minimum wage, a wealth and income ceiling, a basic income guarantee, and socialized medicine. Oh, and peace on Earth. It's possible I may be disappointed.

Tonight's panelists on Virtually Speaking Sundays are David Dayen and Gaius Publius - should be really good.

On Virtually Speaking, Stuart Zechman asked Kevin C. Murphy what progressivism is and what happened to it.

On The Majority Report, Sam Seder talked to Chris Savage about the real story of Detroit, and to Dean Baker on reaching full employment. Matt & Mike talked to Geoff Mulgan on Predators and Creators in Capitalism's Future.

I came home from the pub and Roz pasted an untitled sonnet in an IM to me that started like this:
"Some eulogize him who will never learn
from words or deeds or what he did not do.
And that's all I needed to see to know that Nelson Mandela had died. And thanks to Jay for reminding us of Mandela's speech from the dock.

Down in comments, CMike presents two quotes that say a lot about what's really going on. It's just amazing how people are so desperate to believe that they can still hear the Obamas telling us it's Morning in America when they are quite explicitly promising us nightmares.

"I've worked at McDonald's for 5 years and have 4 kids. Any questions for me?"

Walmart to Install Surface-to-Air Missiles on Store Rooftops to Shoot Down Amazon Drones

"One in three bank tellers need public assistance"
Chris Christie: vindictive and petty
MSNBC at war, 2003

PR people whining about journalists

Metropolis Lifestyle Magazine

Trick Shot Titus - This video is lots of fun, but I still can't figure out how he can even be able to do it. Nice guest appearances, too.

the Ironic Illustrations of Norman Rockwell - It's interesting to look at these now, when the point has been forgotten.
"2D or not 2D"
Steampunk creatures
Microphotography: Snowflakes
Little people
Portraits of Cosplay Enthusiasts in their Homes
Digital sculptures

The Bailey's Christmas ad

Vince Vance & the Valiants

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

I can't look back, no memories

RJ Eskow and Stuart Zechman discussed the question, "What needs to happen in order to make a working health care system - for 99% of us - out of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA)?" on Virtually Speaking Sundays.

Oh, yeah, it's that time of year again, and you know what that means - "Carol of the Bells" and Advent calendars from North Pole, St. Margaret and Mary, Project Britain, Busted Halo, Electric December - oh, and I really enjoyed this from last year. And have some Christmas lights.

The MMT Coloring Book would make a great little stocking stuffer!
Podcast: Stephanie Kelton talks to Bill Black and Randy Wray.

The argument between Americans isn't about whether the minimum wage should be raised, it's about whether it should be raised to $9.00 an hour or $10.10 an hour (or more). (Apparently, they didn't ask about $12.00 or $21.00.) This is true across political parties and income groups. Jay Ackroyd linked this poll at Eschaton, saying, "When reading articles about the resurgent left, it's interesting to mentally substitute 'popular' for 'populist.' " (The "neutral" tone of the "related article" got infuriating fast: "Food stamps have been cut for some, and many were stung by the payroll tax increase. Even their own companies have set up food drives to aid low-paid employees at individual stores or created help lines advising them how to stretch their food dollars and apply for public assistance." Makes it sound like the poverty of their workers has some outside, unrelated cause and has nothing to do with the fact that these companies have made enormous profit from going out of their way to impoverish their workers.)

Atrios declared them The Worst People In The World: The Third Way. Not surprising when you see who they are.

"U.S. Student Homelessness Up 10% Since Last Year"

"Bishops sued over hospital abortion policies: The American Civil Liberties Union announced on Monday that it had filed a lawsuit against the nation's Roman Catholic bishops, arguing that their anti-abortion directives to Catholic hospitals hamper proper care of pregnant women in medical distress, leading to medical negligence."

"Black female professor reprimanded for pointing out existence of structural racism to white male students."

Boris Johnson declared that the gulf between rich and poor is inevitable because millions of people are too stupid to get on in life. (Digby's post also features a neat little video about wealth distribution.) The cab driver Thomas Friedman never seems to get (but, in a just world, someday will) posted a response on YouTube.

Patent troll wins first round - but it will be appealed.

"The Making of the Three Strikes Laws - video at the NYT site on rethinking a stupid, costly policy.

"Norfolk police warn of alarming clown epidemic"

Take a bus ride up Tianmen Mountain.

Renaissance Steampunk
"Bianca Beauchamp would make a fantastic Jessica Rabbit."

Recipe: Apple pie pumpkin

Roy Zimmerman's Austerity Beatles. It's not brilliant, and he missed a better angle on "Birthday", but....

Cool Photo: The Day the Earth Smiled

Tony Joe White, "Robbin' My Honeycomb"