Sunday, May 17, 2015

Why can't I pretend?

So, these links are a little stale, and instead of just dropping hints I'll come out with it: There's been a bit of cancer surgery going on. Found a small bump a while back - self-exam had missed it, but it was right on the surface and found it by accident. (Even knowing it was there, I still couldn't find it with a self-exam.) The docs were ecstatic to see it so small, so apparently early, and so close to the surface. A "special" cancer that doesn't much metastasize. They've been all cheery and bouncy from the git-go. Me, I'm always a pessimist about these things, but I figure the worst that can happen is that it won't kill me fast enough, so I find it hard to worry. The surgery doesn't hurt - I mean, there's nothing there but fat. The lymph biopsy left a lot of soreness and made it hard to scrub my back in the shower, and with all those nerves involved there were of course all sorts of weird twinges, but anyway it was clear. I couldn't raise my arm all the way up without pain but I just figured, well, not a good time to join the Nazi Party, then. My favorite part was the blue dye they shot me up with; for three days I was peeing peacock blue. Of course, everyone I mentioned this to accused me of being a smurf. Next up I think is they want me to do three weeks of radiation therapy, or that was the plan as of when I went into surgery Tuesday. When I asked about chemo they said they didn't foresee that at all, and I said good, because I don't think I'd agree to that. I have good reasons for feeling that way.

Cliff Schecter and Dave Johnson were the panelists on Virtually Speaking Sundays and talked about the game-changing nature of Bernie Sanders' announcement that he's running for president. Jay Ackroyd also had a guest post at Digby's place discussing how to take advantage of this.
Bernie Sanders on the Issues
And Stuart Zechman and Jay continued on the subject of Broadbased Politics.

I've been collecting TPP/fast-track links all along, and the situation moved faster than I could keep up with but the politics have been fascinating. Obama has been working harder on passing this passel of garbage than anything in his whole career, and just as he did during the 2008 primary campaign, he has proven again that trying to wreck the Democratic Party is just another step in his agenda. I've never, ever seen a Democratic President attack the most popular members of his party this way - a lame duck who is not running for re-election attacking leading contenders as if they were the opposition. And clearly, they are. Obama is pushing back against the astonishing, unexpected push-back from the democratic wing of the party, and the mail blasts have sent creepy little Obots out to try to spread the idea that Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are lying or conspiracy theorists - and even Harry Reid is in the line of fire. When Obama accuses Warren and Sanders of sounding like Sarah Palin, you know this guy is bad news.
* "Senate Democrats Are Revolting Against Obama's Trade Plan"
* "Obama Hurls Insults at Liberals on Trade: Progressives called ignorant, insincere, and motivated by politics, sparking fury among President's base"
* Timothy B. Lee: "The Trans-Pacific Partnership is great for elites. Is it good for anyone else?"
* Down in comments, ifthethunderdontgetya says: "I say 'Obama on the TPP sounds like Paul Ryan on the TPP.' In sharp contrast to Our President, I can back my comparison up."
* David Dayen, "The 10 biggest lies you've been told about the Trans-Pacific Partnership" - David also discussed this on The Majority Report with Sam Seder.
* So, Obama decided to go to Nike to give his TPP pep-talk. This is astoundingly appropriate, and of course his minions are out in droves to tell us we aren't supposed to disapprove because we sound like the president's Tea Party detractors. Funny how that happens.
* So the Senate voted against TPP on Tuesday (52-45), but didn't stand so firm on fast-track on Thursday.

"Feingold to run for US Senate seat: MADISON, Wis. - Democrat Russ Feingold has decided to run for his old Senate seat in Wisconsin against Republican Ron Johnson, who defeated him in 2010."

Dave Ettlin at The Real Muck: "Turmoil then and now: Racial tension haunts Baltimore across chasm of 45 years."

Paul Rosenberg is back on The Family beat: "Progressives can't trust Hillary Clinton: What's behind her bizarre alliance with the Christian right?" The Family, you will recall, is a sinister group that influences policy, and probably has a lot to do with some expensive and nasty programs that owe a lot to the Clinton administration.

Radley Balko says "This isn't 1968. Baltimore isn't Watts. And Hillary Clinton isn't Michael Dukakis. [...] We did see a few examples of overt racism from city officials in the months after the Ferguson protests. But a system like this, one created by racism, will produce racist results even if none of the cops, prosecutors, or judges are racist themselves."

John Oliver on Prisons

"The Asshole Factory - Our economy doesn't make stuff anymore. So what does it make?"

14 year old girl suspended for her NSFW answers on this sex-ed condom survey - I'd be proud if that was my daughter.

If you can stand Facebook, I thought this video was good even though I still want to slap NARAL around for some of their awful "strategy" of caving in to "centrists".
* Also at FB, 3-D drawing.

An Interview With Wanksy, Penis Doodler and Pothole Avenger

* B.B. King at 89. (Guardian, Telegraph tribute). You know you love it.
* Jayne Meadows, half of one of my favorite TV couples, with her (real life) husband Steve Allen, as Erlich's parents on St. Elsewhere. They were even funnier as themselves than they were as characters. (Of course, her sister Audrey was pretty famous, too.)
* I didn't notice that Annette Funicello died last month. A lot of guys used to rhapsodize about how she was the girl they grew up adoring. And a lot of girls wanted to be her.

"8 Essential Lessons We Learned From the Vietnam Antiwar Movement: The movement for peace in Vietnam has been erased from history, unremembered and dismissed by those in power."

Just a reminder: I keep seeing people scream and cry about the prospect that people might vote for a third-party candidate rather than Hillary Clinton, and of course invoking Nader in Florida as the agent of all our misery &etc. Because I guess it's easier to blame Nader than it is to blame an incredibly long list of dishonest and illegal voter-disenfranchisement actions and vote-rigging and the Supreme Court for making everyone ignore the fact that, dammit, Al Gore won the 2000 election. (Here's the NORC recount report (.pdf) for those who want to get into the weeds.)

I don't know whether I should be happy or frightened about this headline.

Iranian Secrets

Matt Inman doesn't believe in evolution, he believes in Jibbers Crabst. I've already seen some leave Pastafarianism for this.

The Louisville Leopard Percussionists do Led Zep. Neat.

Gosh, I completely forgot about Zachariah. I didn't remember those now older and more familiar faces, either....

Blood, Sweat & Tears, "Just One Smile"

Friday, May 1, 2015

Happy Together

David Brin talked about how to deal with a surveillance society, history and social advances, and the fact that, as Tony Benn once said, every generation has to fight the same battles, on Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd.
* Virtually Speaking Sundays

Bernie Sanders is running - it's official. And everyone is going to tell you he has no chance, but they said that about Reagan pretty much right up to the last minute. So take it seriously and he might just be president. Remember, it's the primaries that matter - don't let Hillary be anointed without a fight. (People are also going to say he copped out by running as a Democrat, but he wants to be heard, and this was the only way to do it. And we definitely want him to be heard - it can completely change the game to have Bernie out front on the discourse.) A lot of people will have serious reservations on his position on Israel, but that's an equation that's not going to change in Washington until the economics change and it restores democracy at home.

Democrats' Frustration With Obama Boils Over As Trade Bills Advance
* Obama escalates push-back against Elizabeth Warren and other trade deal critics
* "Obama Says Warren On Trade Sounds Like Palin Touting Death Panels." Jeez, what is he, a weird version of Rush Limbaugh? How about "Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are worse than Hitler!" Somebody's all fraidy of those crazy democratic types. "The President's alignment with Republicans, Wall Street, and corporate lobbying organizations like the Chamber of Commerce, and against progressives, labor, and almost all Democrats to push TPP is frustrating Democrats across the board." Frustrating? *sigh*
* "Elizabeth Warren Tells Obama To Put Up Or Shut Up On Trade [...] On Saturday, Warren and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) responded with a letter essentially telling Obama to put up or shut up. If the deal is so great, Warren and Brown wrote, the administration should make the full negotiation texts public before Congress votes on a "fast track" bill that would strip the legislative branch of its authority to amend it."

Gotta admit, after years of listening to the likes of Obama behaving as if Republican ideas are perfectly sincere and reasonable, it's refreshing to hear O'Malley calling them what they really are. But O'Malley has a lot to answer for himself, and if we take a look at what's been going on right now in Baltimore, it goes right to his doorstep....

Just in case you were thinking this is about race, check out David Simon on Baltimore's Anguish, where he points out that we're not talking about the classic all-white police force. Among other things: "The drug war began it, certainly, but the stake through the heart of police procedure in Baltimore was Martin O'Malley. He destroyed police work in some real respects. Whatever was left of it when he took over the police department, if there were two bricks together that were the suggestion of an edifice that you could have called meaningful police work, he found a way to pull them apart. [...] There were two initiatives. First, the department began sweeping the streets of the inner city, taking bodies on ridiculous humbles, mass arrests, sending thousands of people to city jail, hundreds every night, thousands in a month. They actually had police supervisors stationed with printed forms at the city jail - forms that said, essentially, you can go home now if you sign away any liability the city has for false arrest, or you can not sign the form and spend the weekend in jail until you see a court commissioner. And tens of thousands of people signed that form."
* Dave Ettlin remembers some lessons of his time on the police beat: "Baltimore's Riot of 2015: In the matter of Freddie Gray the 'routine' has vastly changed."
* Charles Pierce on Baltimore Burning: A Bad Night Ahead: "Why in the hell does this country never learn? Why does it never learn that invasion and occupation and bombing is not the way to spread democracy and virtually always comes to blowback and ruin? Why does it never learn that reactionary, militarized policing will inevitably lead to rioting, which will inevitably lead to repressive techniques that the rest of the country, watching on television, will approve? The whole world is watching? Yes, the whole world is watching and applauding every burst of the water cannon and every swing of the truncheon. The country never learns because, goddammit, Americans never learn. Dr. King was right about an eye for an eye. The country is blind." And "Baltimore Burning: The Morning After And The Day Ahead."
* Ta-Nehisi Coates on "Nonviolence as Compliance: Officials calling for calm can offer no rational justification for Gray's death, and so they appeal for order."

"American Psychological Association Bolstered C.I.A. Torture Program, Report Says: WASHINGTON - The American Psychological Association secretly collaborated with the administration of President George W. Bush to bolster a legal and ethical justification for the torture of prisoners swept up in the post-Sept. 11 war on terror, according to a new report by a group of dissident health professionals and human rights activists."

Judith Miller explains to Brian Lamb why she was such a lousy reporter and reported only what the government wanted her to write. And doesn't know it. Perhaps some future Lincoln can meet her and say, "So you're the little woman who wrote the lies that started this stupid war."

My favorite story from this episode of Act Out! is the story of the unauthorized installation in the park of a bust of Edward Snowden. Not the best likeness, but a great idea. I loved that when the police arrested it a few hours later, a hologram of it appeared. The Guardian has an update.

When people ask me what science fiction TV shows I watch, I always mention CSI, because it is. I find it hilarious to think that prosecutions are driven by The Evidence, which is always so remarkably precise! Which is the first thought I had when I saw the story about how the FBI has been "exaggerating" DNA evidence from hair. "The Justice Department and FBI have formally acknowledged that nearly every examiner in an elite FBI forensic unit gave flawed testimony in almost all trials in which they offered evidence against criminal defendants over more than a two-decade period before 2000."

Ian Welsh explains why East Germans are missing that old regime.

"Enron Billionaire Arnold Has A Problem with Librarians' Pensions."

I think there's something missing from Rolling Stone's 10 Best Protest Songs of all Time. Baez, Cooke, Holiday, Seeger, St. Marie, Guthrie, Odetta, Ochs, Gaye, and so on. Women. Blacks. Gospel.

Ron Paul actually has a couple of insightful ideas and policies, but he also has some very crappy ones. However, his son is skating on dad's rep without having even that much substance.

Why your city needs an artist like Wanksy.

"Not a Tea Party, a Confederate Party [...] Here's what my teachers' should have told me: 'Reconstruction was the second phase of the Civil War. It lasted until 1877, when the Confederates won.' I think that would have gotten my attention."

Is it objectification to think Brian Cox is hot?

Judith Tarr is guesting at Charlie Stross' place. I hadn't really thought about how all the psi stuff seems to have disappeared from science fiction, but it's an interesting piece about the rigidifying of the lines between science fiction and fantasy.

"The Photography Book London Officials Never Wanted You to See: Subterranean London compiles the images of a dozen photographers who explored the city's underground spaces without permission."

I don't know how I failed to link to the dead parrot at the time.

Things Pappy Maverick used to say

The Cau Rong Dragon Bridge in Da Nang is kinda cool. (I kinda like this video better.)

I can't believe I don't have these already.

The Turtles