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

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Some how some way, I'll find out what's the deal

Srdja Popovic talked about a blueprint for revolution on Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd. The page description sounds a little dry but Popovic makes some cogent points in both his prescriptions for bringing about change and his critique of earlier failures.
- Spocko and Charles Lenchner discussed pushing Hillary leftward and other strategies for changing the discourse on Virtually Speaking Sundays.

Sam Seder talked to Marie Gotschalk about her book Caught: The Prison State and the Lockdown of American Politics The Majority Report
- John Legend launches campaign to end mass incarceration [...] "We have a serious problem with incarceration in this country," Legend said in an interview. "It's destroying families, it's destroying communities and we're the most incarcerated country in the world, and when you look deeper and look at the reasons we got to this place, we as a society made some choices politically and legislatively, culturally to deal with poverty, deal with mental illness in a certain way and that way usually involves using incarceration."
- It's worth listening again to the second half of this interview with Glen Ford we did in 2009 on Virtually Speaking to hear him talk about the damage the prison state does to the black community - and to black activism.

Michael Hiltzik on the "spectacularly punitive Kansas welfare bill" Brownback just signed that makes it even more nasty and expensive to be poor.

I still find it hard to believe that Obama or anyone else in the White House was stupid enough to believe he really was the magic man who could suddenly make Republicans behave like rational people, but maybe he's just that arrogant. I mean, yeah, he's pretty arrogant, but that arrogant? How could any of them think the choice was between picking polices Republicans in Congress wanted and picking policies that the polls showed 80% of Americans support - and spend all that time choosing to make room for the Republican policies? Is "Dan Pfeiffer's Exit Interview: How the White House Learned to Be Liberal" really a credible story?

Elizabeth Warren Hammers The Endless Failures Of Wall Street Regulators

I did like Atrios' comment on Obama's date with Castro the Younger. Gotta say it's about time.

Eric Schneiderman says, "Gov. Cuomo can unilaterally hike N.Y. wages: How his Labor Department can use its existing legal authority to raise suffering workers' pay." And Schneiderman's office is trying to do something about wage theft in New York. That could make a real difference.

Matt Taibbi isn't impressed by Hillary's "populism" - and who can blame him? "Having watched this campaign-reporting process from both the inside and the outside for a long time now, I knew what was coming after the initial wave of "Hillary the Populist!" stories. In presidential politics, every time a candidate on either the left or the right veers in a populist direction - usually with immediate success, since the American populace is ready to run through a wall for anyone who makes the obvious observation that they're being screwed by someone up above - it takes about two or three days before the "Let's let cooler heads prevail!" editorials start trickling in."
- "How Hillary Clinton's State Department Sold Fracking to the World" - I think most of what Clinton did as Secretary of State was simply implementing Obama's policies, and Obama is a huge supporter of fracking. Unfortunately, Clinton was pretty damned good at doing what Obama wanted.
- "8 things you need to know about Hillary Clinton and climate change"
- Black Agenda Report: Glen Ford on The Ascent of Hillary, the $.2.5 Billion "People's" Candidate .

"Four Blackwater guards sentenced in Iraq shootings of 31 unarmed civilians" - I wonder how likely it is that any of them will actually see the inside of a cell.

Public Citizen: "ANALYSIS: Hatch Bill Would Revive Controversial 2002 Fast Track Mechanism that Faces Broad Congressional, Public Opposition."
Wyden should lose his job over TPP and fast-track, but that won't happen if no one can find a challenger. Why can't we ever seem to find challengers, lately? That in itself is an issue that has to be solved.

Texas woman invokes 'religious freedom' argument to fight $2000 fine for feeding the homeless" - Good on her.

"Wealth Inequality Is Now As Bad As It Was During The 1920s."

Britain Uncovered survey results: the attitudes and beliefs of Britons in 2015 - It's no surprise that keeping healthcare free is a primary concern of Brits and that the NHS is the most trusted institution or organization in the country. But I can't see why people would put immigration or terrorism above the economy as a concern. Well, if I didn't read newspaper scare headlines, I mean.

The Radical Dissent of Helen Keller

Even The New Republic has a feature on the Hugos: "Science Fiction's White Boys' Club Strikes Back."
- Eric Flint has some observations about awards and perceptions.
- "So far the only good thing to come out of this is #NewHugoCategories on Twitter"

RIP: Our friend Art Widner has left us, at 97. This actually surprised me. He seemed to have so much more vigor than anyone else that even though he was much older than I am, I fully expected him to outlive me.

Mark Evanier has some Stan Freberg stories: Freberg Stories #1, Freberg Stories #2,
- Mark also attended the funeral for Gary Owens and provides a tribute - and don't miss the audio clip at the bottom!

Armenian Prayer

Some entertaining posters

The Real Reason Why Christopher Eccleston Left 'Doctor Who'

13 Everyday Struggles Of Busty Girls

Imagine my surprise at seeing The Currys of Atlantis. It's so not Aquaman.

Percy Sledge, "I'll Be Your Everything"

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Here,There And Everywhere

On Virtually Speaking Sundays, Stuart Zechman and Dave Johnson talked about the evils of TPP and Fast-track, and argued about whether Hillary Clinton would have bad policies. (I don't understand why Dave keeps talking as if there will be no changes in the House and Senate after the next election - the one that theoretically elects Hillary Clinton. That Congress can easily be different from this Congress.)

"Wisconsin Republicans seek to take away the weekend: Born is claiming this is just an attempt to streamline the process, but it's clear as day that the actual intention here is to remove the main obstacle - filing paperwork - that prevents employers from telling you that you work 7 days a week or you lose your job. Since Wisconsin is, under Scott Walker, a 'right to work' state, the 'work yourself to death or starve' choice is now being treated like it's a non-coercive choice and that people who choose working themselves to death are somehow doing so 'voluntarily'." (via)

I guess someone wants to turn Baltimore into a plague city, because they are turning off the water for 25,000 households. This is crazy stupid, just aside from the inhumane aspects. "City officials like Department of Public Works director Rudy Chow claim that residents using water without paying are to blame for the $40 million in overdue water bills. In fact, the Baltimore Sun found more than a third of the unpaid bills stem from just 369 businesses, who owe $15 million in revenue, while government offices and nonprofits have outstanding water bills to the tune of $10 million. One of those businesses, RG Steel (now bankrupt) owes $7 million in delinquent water bills all by itself. 'It's interesting that the city isn't targeting those businesses first,' Grant said. "

Sam Seder interviewed Ian Millhiser about The Surprising Wretched History of the Supreme Court.
- Sammy also interviewed David Dayen about his article on Barney Frank's bombshell about how two presidents abdicated responsibility during the financial crises.
- Barrett Brown told Sammy why he is in prison for doing his job.
- Here's Sammy talking to Jeff Madrick about Why Economist Cling to Discredited Ideas.
- I don't get the fairy story about how Obama finally learned to ignore the Republicans - too late.

Maybe you can save enough money refusing to buy carbs like bread and cereals and pasta to afford to eat healthy food occasionally, like steak and lobster - maybe even if you're on food stamps. Only an idiot would object to this, surely? Oh, wait....

Digby in Salon on "The quiet Social Security revolution: How Democrats learned to stop loving benefit cuts [...] "That is a shocking departure from the way progressives have been strategizing for the past 30 years. Instead of being in a defensive crouch they took the offensive and tried to set a new agenda. And it worked."

"The Biggest Outrage in Atlanta's Crazy Teacher Cheating Case: One of the defining issues of this millennium has been the bifurcation of the criminal justice system, with one set of rules for ordinary people and another for elites. We've learned that justice is a commodity to be purchased rather than a universal value delivered without prejudice. That's the proper backdrop to the news of convictions in the Atlanta test cheating case. Eleven educators were found guilty of racketeering charges - something typically reserved for organized crime - for feeding students answers to standardized tests, or changing test sheets after they were turned in. If you don't remember these kinds of creative prosecution strategies during the financial crisis, that's probably because no prosecutor ever used them. Teachers ordered to falsify tests and the superiors who demanded it, amid desperation to save schools from destruction, deserve no mercy from the court. Bankers who ran a criminal enterprise to engage in the largest consumer and investing fraud in world history deserve our thanks."

"Exposing Hedge Fund Politics in New York: Two weeks ago, several busloads of New Yorkers made a pilgrimage to Greenwich, Conn., to visit the waterfront estate of the hedge fund titan Paul Tudor Jones II, where, suffice it to say, they were not invited in to see the china."

Atrios says all of these rent-a-DAs should go to jail, and he's right.

Also via Atrios, Michael Hiltzik on How Megan McArdle gets Social Security profoundly wrong.
- And "After a story is published, a minimum wage worker loses her job"

People on public benefits less likely to be on drugs than politicians who vote to drug-test people on public benefits.

Two Men Imprisoned For Homophobic Murders Just Married Each Other In Prison

"Ello, goodbye. [...] A venture-capital funded startup is a temporary company that has to convince enough people into using their platform so that they can make good on the exit they promised their investors at the very beginning. It is the opposite of a long-term, sustainable business."

RIP: The legendary Stan Freberg, Madcap Adman and Satirist, Dies at 88

A right-wing blogger got all his friends (known to the rest of the SF world as the Sad Puppies) to join the World Science Fiction Convention to block-nominate right-wing writers and writings for the Hugo Awards. A sort of hard-copy version of a DoS attack on better works and authors getting those nominations, you might say. Vox Day has responded to criticism with, among other things, a video depicting Patrick Nielsen Hayden as Hitler for daring to be dismayed that good writers and stories got shut-out of the running. (And, I have to say that, although the very idea brought us gales of laughter, the actual monologue just wasn't very clever.) Anyway, here is a Voters Guide for people who want to make sure the undeserving don't win, and here's how No Award works. (Luckily, they missed the artist category. This house supports Steve Stiles!)

John Barrowman meets River Song

Artwork made from peeps

This isn't a chameleon!

Why can't I find Boasters in my local shops anymore? They're so good!

The Beatles, and one of the most beautiful songs I've ever heard.

Monday, March 30, 2015

All I gotta do

Last week on Virtually Speaking Sundays: "Obama declaring he should have closed Gitmo on day one; Israel; Republican presidential candidates. Commentary from Susie Madrak (Managing Editor, Crooks and Liars) & Michael Brooks (contributor and producer for The Majority Report). Political satire from Culture of Truth. Jay Ackroyd moderates."
- This week, Digby and McJoan discussed how Democrats messed themselves up over Social Security, how Atrios changed the story, and victories that could reshape even the Democratic leadership with some effort on our part - Patty Murray for party leader?

"Analysis of Leaked Trans-Pacific Partnership Investment Text: After more than five years of negotiations under conditions of extreme secrecy, on March 25, 2015, a leaked copy of the investment chapter for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was posted. Public Citizen has verified that the text is authentic. Trade officials from the United States and 11 Pacific Rim nations - Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam - are in intensive, closed-door negotiations to finish the TPP in the next few months. The leaked text provides stark warnings about the dangers of 'trade' negotiations occurring without press, public or policymaker oversight. It reveals that TPP negotiators already have agreed to many radical terms that would give foreign investors expansive new substantive" (.pdf) This is what the original Boston Tea Party was really about, you know.

I don't usually lead with climate change, but "Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say" scared the hell out of me.

Paul Krugman on the GOP budget, "Trillion Dollar Fraudsters"

Doesn't it seem strange to see an actually sensible column like "The one sensible budget in Washington", about the Progressive Caucus' "People's Budget", in The Washington Post?

"Activist pulls out of Trinity College talk due to 'restrictions' aimed at not 'antagonising' Muslims [...] Iranian-born Maryam Namazie was due to give a talk to the Society for International Affairs on Monday on ‘Apostasy and the rise of Islam' but decided to withdraw from the event after college security imposed 'certain conditions'. 'I've just been informed... that college security (why security?) has claimed that the event would show the college is ‘one-sided' and would be ‘antagonising' to Muslim students,' she wrote on her blog." Which is interesting, since they did not do the same when someone who advocates killing apostates spoke there.
- Meanwhile, is it really safe to protect students from "offensive" debate? "'It's amazing to me that they can't distinguish between racist speech and speech about racist speech, between racism and discussions of racism,' Ms. Kaminer said in an email. "

At Naked Capitalism:
- "Bill Black: The DOJ and the SEC Spurn their Ace in the Hole - Richard Bowen." That would be because everyone wants to protect the banksters.
- "Epic Fail for the Postal Service: The Wrong Model and the Wrong Board"

"Waka Flocka Flame Didn't Make Anyone Say the N-Word [...] This is no defense of Waka, an awful rapper whose tracks sound like they come from a "Chappelle's Show" skit about awful rappers. But..."

What Atrios said: "If only there were some press outlets and television networks that would give some attention to Senator McCain in order to disprove his point. Oh, wait..."

Rahm needs Republicans. And it sounds like he may get them.

Erick Erickson of Red State notices a problem with his party: "What the hell does the GOP stand for anymore other than 'we're not Obama'? No kidding. He's more competent. The GOP, at this point, stands for nothing and the highest bidder at the same time." Now, if only Democrats can stop standing for nothing more than, "At least we're not the Republicans," not to mention the highest bidder....

Police who stand with big sticks

Falsely-imprisoned for 39 years, former death row inmate to receive $1,008,055.80 in compensation.

Oh, God, Sheila Jeffreys has written another hateful book. Roz Kaveney reports.

Taylor Mali: "What do teachers make?"

"Okay, but it's not just about getting paid to prance around in a princess costume."

New Alzheimer's treatment fully restores memory function in 75% of treated mice.

Massive Underground Ocean Discovered on Ganymede, Jupiters Largest Moon!

Cosplay made...different.

Dalek Relaxation Tape

Minutes of the March 2015 Ankh-Morpork Assembly Transport Committee

Fireworks in Glasgow

1928 England in color

Many years ago, I was sitting around chatting with Christopher Priest and Rob Hansen and somehow we ended up with Chris talking about being a baby accountant and going up to Liverpool and finding out about the Cavern Club and meeting some people who would change his life. And we made him write it all down for us so we could make a one-shot fanzine and get a few other of our favorite people to contribute to it, and that fanzine was Chuch and that article was "Thank You, Girls".

The Beatles

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

"THERE'S NO JUSTICE. THERE'S JUST ME."

Back in 2002 I talked about some authors who were in my pantheon of the Good Guys, and the gods know PTerry rated way up there with me. Like Jo Walton, I delighted in running into him at a party or convention, but I was often frankly awed by the way, in his books, he could hold up some of our ugliest traits and show us how silly and stupid we were when we expressed them - and still show us how good we can be, too. His light-hearted tone may have disguised the seriousness of his subject for some, but we weren't fooled into thinking they were just romps through fantasy's clichés. Terry Pratchett knew how awful we are, but he also knew about the rest, too: the good, the strong, the heroism of those who work in the background and know that their acts can never even be seen let alone rewarded, the heart that loves and believes. Terry made us laugh and made us love, and that is no small thing.

I chose some of these links for the pictures, because there are some great ones here. I'm mad at myself for never having thought to shoot a few of him when I was around him, but the moment never emerged, and that's life. (I am also, by the way, completely outraged that fate took Terry and Iain away from us so soon and so close together, and if I believed in "God" I would believe in giving him a good smack in the face, too.)

Obit at Tor.com

"Leaving Early to Avoid the Rush: Sir Terry Pratchett Has Passed Away at 66"

Andrew Brown at the Guardian, "Without Terry Pratchett, the world is less magical."

Tributes from some of his better known fans

"23 Of The Most Beautiful Terry Pratchett Quotes To Remember Him By"

Neil Gaiman on Thursday, 12 March, and Neil last September.

With video at the Guardian

And, of course, Roz Kaveney wrote a poem.

* * * * *

Panelists RJ Eskow and Andrew Jones talked about the Ferguson Report and the persistence of institutional vestiges of Jim Crow--and its manifestation in Oklahoma. Iran negotiations and Bibi's visit and the Republican modern Know Nothings' grasp of "foreign policy." Vanishing email and the implementation of government transparency laws, viewed through the prism of Hilary's, Jeb's, and the State Department email systems, on Virtually Speaking Sundays.

For a change I can agree with Kos without restraint: Hell yes! Donna Edwards for Senate! Stop that little weed Chris van Hollen in his tracks. And, while we're at it, we need someone to take van Hollen's Congressional seat, as well.

A social worker got fired for writing this article.

A dagger pointed at the heart of Texas, Chapter 2: "Obama absurdly declares Venezuela a security threat" - I wonder when Obama is going to start getting the Alzheimer's defense.

"Evidence the DEA Attempted to Alter Testimony on Drug War Massacre in Honduras"

William Greider, "Wrong-Way Obama? Disregard the happy talk from the Obama White House. The stagnant global economy remains at the precipice of something worse - full-blown deflation. And the so-called US recovery remains shaky, despite good employment numbers. Here and abroad, the governing authorities seem to have forgotten a key aspect of our situation: we live now in a globalized economy, in which one nation's cold can lead to another country's pneumonia. Their ignorance is shocking, but also dangerous." Well, I don't know about that - I think they re-wrote the laws that way on purpose.

Edroso unpacks Brooks: "David Brooks says he has "taken [my] column in a spiritual and moral direction of late" -- or rather he says people (presumably A-list guests at Brooks' Vast Entertainment Space) have noticed that he has -- and explains that he has seen how well rich kids behave and how badly poor kids behave and so he is convinced that America needs poor kids to have more of what the rich kids have, namely money. Ha ha, kidding! The poors must have "social repair," which is less expensive than money. His models are England's Second Great Awakening and the Great Depression, events which few of us beyond fundamentalist lunatics and Stanley Kurtz would care to live through" (via)

Will the "Congressman with Guts" become Senator Grayson? Stay tuned....

RAHM
- "Rahm Emanuel allegedly screams at mental health activists - after running ad admitting he 'can rub people the wrong way'"
- "Rahm Snaps at Mental-Health Advocates: ‘You're Gonna Respect Me!'"
- Chicago causing rear-end collisions for money
- Rahm Emanuel's Housing Agency Sitting On Hundreds Of Millions Of Dollars With Massive Waitlist
- Just put a stake in him, Chicago.

"After Beating FBI Entrapment, Environmental Activist Eric McDavid Looks Forward"

Captives:
- "The Possibility of Escape" - This is Kathy Kelly writing from behind prison walls, where the prisoners are more human than the society that put them there.
- "Private Prison Companies Foresee Increased Profits as Ruling Limits Immigrant Detentions" - The Obama administration put that loophole right up front by saying they simply can't give the "deterrent" reason for treating people horribly.
- "Jails: Time to Wake Up to Mass Incarceration in Your Neighborhood"
- "Despite Uptick in Prisoner Release, Injustices Persist at Guantanamo

"How Many Minimum Wage Hours Does It Take To Afford A Two-Bedroom Apartment In Your State? "In no state can a minimum wage worker afford a two-bedroom unit at Fair Market Rent, working a 40-hour work week, without paying more than 30% of their income."

Will Cannabis be the new wonder drug?

Nathan Fillion and Alan Tudyk are doing a show about two actors who used to play a space captain and his pilot and one got really famous and the other didn't and goes to conventions instead. Also featuring Gina Torres and other actors from the Whedon stable.

"18 reasons Buffy The Vampire Slayer was the best show on TV" - Happy 18th birthday. And I still miss Xander.
- Joss Whedon's original movie script for Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Traffic - Live In Stockholm

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

All in time

Okay, since a few people know and a lot of other people have guessed, I'll admit that this medical crap is kind of suppressing a lot of my ability to focus on blogging. If my doctors are to be believed, I will be just fine, although there will be some period where I will likely be very short of enthusiasm for, well, moving.

RIP Leonard Nimoy, at 83. I never met him or anything like that, but everything I knew about him told me he was cool, kind, and fun. Lot of sadness in my world the moment the news broke. And here's Leonard Nimoy's last tweet.
William Shatner stole Leonard Nimoy's bike.

Appropriately, as a guests on Virtually Speaking Sundays, Spocko and Digby, both commentators on media, commemorated Leonard Nimoy and discussed his impact on our way of thinking in his most famous role.

"FCC overrules state laws to help cities build out municipal broadband: Before it tackles net neutrality, the FCC is setting a major precedent for municipal broadband: it's just voted to preempt state laws that were preventing two cities from building out their own locally run broadband networks. The decision was prompted by separate petitions from Wilson, North Carolina, and Chattanooga, Tennessee - both cities that've established high-speed, gigabit internet services, but have been barred from expanding to neighboring communities due to existing state laws. So far, 19 states have similar regulations to those that the FCC is overriding in Wilson and Chattanooga, but today's ruling affects only those two specific cases." We need to make this national.

If you heard that Obama vetoed the Keystone Pipeline, understand that that's not quite true. He vetoed a step of process, not the bill. But gee, it I'm sure it sounds good to uninformed Obama supporters.

Charlie is on A different cluetrain and lists the axioms of a paradigm shift in political reality as the Robber Barons once again take control of the terrain.

Google decides to do evil, then relents. Banning adult content was obviously a stupid idea. I can't imagine who came up with it in the first place. What were they drinking?

This is interesting: "Actress Emma Thompson and her husband refuse to pay 'a penny more' in taxes until HSBC tax evaders go to jail. [...] 'I want to stop paying tax, until everyone pays tax,' Wise told the Evening Standard. 'I have actively loved paying tax, because I am a profound fucking socialist and I believe we are all in it together. But I am disgusted with HMRC. I am disgusted with HSBC. And I'm not paying a penny more until those evil bastards go to prison.'"

Atrios has been keeping me up to date with Rahm Emanuel's problems (and also makes a side point about the reason something called "neighborhood schools" used to be universally regarded as a good thing) and why he's having them. And he really, really is a horrible person. And the revelation that the Chicago police have their very own black sites certainly didn't enhance his image as a man who stood for Truth, Justice, and The American Way. The possibility that Chicago could be getting rid of Rahm and replace him with someone who actually cares about citizens seems almost too good to be true.

"Israeli Claims About Iran Nuclear Program Denied By Own Spy Agency"

Debunking the Corporate Case For Fast Track Trade Authority

From the only official to go to prison in connection with torture: "CIA Torture Whistleblower: US Government Lacks 'the Guts' to Face Its Crimes: John Kiriakou's advice to future national security whistleblowers: 'Get a lawyer first.'"

No one could have predicted that Obama would support Rahm Emanuel's campaign.

An incomplete list of lies our news media told

Suppressing the Republican vote

Greg Benford has posted his Trapdoor article about the legendary Sidney Coleman online. There's a reason why some of our friends thought Terry Carr must have made him up, but I can testify that he was very real and just as cool and funny as the legends specified.

"Chocolate snorting offers new way to a cocoa high."

Wonder Woman with curves

If you can do Facebook, 365 days in 40 seconds

Trailer for Joss Whedon's In Your Eyes

The Motown Sound - 16 Big Hits Vol. 7 (1967)

Marvin Gaye, "Too Busy Thinking About My Baby"

The Fireflies

Friday, February 20, 2015

One less bell to answer

This is a big bunch of catch-up, here, 'cause it's been a helluva few weeks.

Gaius Publius interviewed Alan Grayson on Virtually Speaking, where Grayson discussed "how he 'cracked the nut' that allows him to get progressive legislation passed. Part of his secret - his goal is to be a person who 'gets things done for the progressive movement,' not a person who introduces bills and 'then does nothing' with them. In the last two weeks of the last Congress alone, for example, he passed 15 progressive amendments."
- Cliff Schecter and Spocko discussed Boehner's independent Israel summit mistake and Brian Williams' little fibs and what the current media tone means, and how to try to take advantage of the current state of embarrassment in the media to try to get more opposing voices into the discussion of war, on Virtually Speaking Sundays, where Culture of Truth also reported on a question never asked before on the Sunday talk shows.
- Matthew Sutton, Edward R. Meyer Distinguished Professor of History at Washington State University, discussed his book, American Apocalypse: A History of Modern Evangelicalism, on Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd. "The book describes the rise of the pre-millenialist foundation of modern evangelicalism, and how it has affected social and political participation of the very large fraction of Americans who believe the Second Coming is something we can expect to experience in the next generation or so."
- Dave Johnson & JoanMcCarter, "Which lies really matter, Brian WIlliams' or Dick Cheney's? GOP governors and Medicaid expansion encapsulated in King v Burwell and the tension in the party between doing as the Koch's command and what their constituents need.," on Virtually Speaking Sundays

Obama's progressive picks!
- Marcy Wheeler, "Loretta Lynch: Not Enough Evidence to Charge HSBC Banksters"
- Ring of Fire, "Only Obama and Wall Street Criminals will Love Loretta Lynch as AG"
- Crooks and Liars, "After Laundering $800M In Drug Money, How Did HSBC Executives Avoid Jail?"

The FCC Chairman's plan to ensure network neutrality.

The newspaper many of us refer to as the Torygraph nevertheless has some great news coverage compared to most other British newspapers, but a funny thing happened with their HSBC coverage....

Dean Baker, "Throw the Truth Out the Door: President Obama Has to Pass a Trade Deal: Wow, this stuff just keeps getting worse. Apparently anything goes when the big corporations want a trade deal. Otherwise serious people will just make stuff up, because hey, the big campaign contributors want a trade deal to make themselves richer. The latest effort in creative myth-making comes from Third Way, which tells us that post-NAFTA trade deals aren't job losers like NAFTA." Yeah, right.

A "meritocracy" is a society in which people who have too much money think they are better than you even though they are as manifestly stupid as this rank stupidity from Michael Bloomberg.

Natasha Chart is glad that her heartbreaking situation wasn't made worse: "I Had an Ectopic Pregnancy, and Anti-Choice Laws Could Have Made My Experience Much Worse."

Ian Welsh, being tempted by thoughts of Revolution, but like some of his commenters, I think that road leads to madness. He revisits the subject here.

Bernie Sanders speaks at The Brookings Institution.

Lee Camp talks to Presidential Candidate Jill Stein on Redacted Tonight.

John Oliver on Doctors who market to doctors.

A sequel to To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, written in 1960.

David Tennant receives National Television Award for being Best David Tennant.

Photo: Something seems wrong here.

Gnome Liberation Front strikes Boulder.

RIP: Gary Owens, 80. He wrote for Rocky & Bullwinkle and Fractured Flickers, but we heard his voice our whole lives, the man who minted the phrase "Beautiful Downtown Burbank" and was the on-camera announcer on Laugh-In, and a lot of other things. We loved him.
- Lesley Gore, 68. She sang one of the great early feminist pop anthems.
- Joe Challmes, fondly remembered newsroom character at The Baltimore Sun. Ettlin left out that although at first he didn't look like much, he sure had beautiful eyes.

If you can deal with Facebook, Lenny Kravitz posted a neat little video from New Orleans.

It's not unusual for science fiction authors to have a sideline.

Everything we know about corsets is false?

Keb' Mo'

Fifth Dimension

Monday, February 2, 2015

Take my hand as the sun descends

I'm cold. And I am going to be a little busy for the next few days. Wish me luck.

On Virtually Speaking, Charles Lencher joined Jay to talk about corruption in New York politics and Andrew Cuomo.

"Barrett Brown Sentenced to Five Years, Vows to Keep Investigating Government Wrongdoing [...] 'The U.S. government decided today that because I did such a good job investigating the cyber-industrial complex, they're now going to send me to investigate the prison-industrial complex,' Brown said mischievously in a written statement following his sentencing. 'For the next 35 months, I'll be provided with free food, clothes, and housing as I seek to expose wrongdoing by Bureau of Prisons officials and staff and otherwise report on news and culture in the world's greatest prison system.' 'Wish me luck!' he added."

There is simply no excuse for Hugging the Saudi floggers

Nice take-down by Alex Pareene of Jonathan Chait's latest freak-out against political correctness - or rather, of people failing to show proper respect for Jonathan Chait. And Glenn Greenwald said: "It would be wonderful on one level if all criticisms were expressed in the soft and respectful tones formalized in the U.S. Senate, but it's good and necessary when people who wield power or influence are treated exactly like everyone else, which means that sometimes people say mean and unfair things about you in not-nice tones. Between erring on the side of people with power being treated with excess deference or excess criticisms, the latter is vastly preferable."

12-Point Platform - I think I might quibble with this but it's good for thinking about.

Ice cream made easy

"Prize-Winning Animation Lets You Fly Through 17th Century London" - Strangely reminded me of the Ankh Morpork simulation in Second Life.

The Langston Hughes Google Doodle

We haven't had much news lately from the shadowy Gnome Liberation Front, but I think we may know who is stirring up all the trouble.

Susie Bright at the church of Patti Smith

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The long struggle for sleep

This looks like some genuine good news, for a change: "Holder limits seized-asset sharing process that split billions with local, state police: Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Friday barred local and state police from using federal law to seize cash, cars and other property without warrants or criminal charges. Holder's action represents the most sweeping check on police power to confiscate personal property since the seizures began three decades ago as part of the war on drugs." Oh, but wait: "Holder's decision allows limited exceptions, including illegal firearms, ammunition, explosives and property associated with child pornography, a small fraction of the total. This would eliminate virtually all cash and vehicle seizures made by local and state police from the program." So, they can still take your house for child porn, eh? Watch for a sudden upsurge on that one, because it's really easy to frame someone for it. Susie Madrak talked about this in more detail on Virtually Speaking Sundays. Or, in short form: "Good, this should help. But this still leaves a double standard in place for some crimes. What this means, as a practical matter, is that local and police state departments will focus their energies on the firearms and child porn busts, because they'll be determined to fill those gaping holes in their budgets."

Johann Hari has written what sounds like a really good book on the War On (Some People Who Use Some) Drugs, and Sam Seder interviewed him on The Majority Report - recommended, there's some stuff in there that even I didn't know.
- Sammy also talked to Scott Horton about Lords of Secrecy: The National Security Elite and America's Stealth Warfare and to Karl Widerquist on The Case for a Basic Income.

"It's not just Fox News: How liberal apologists torpedoed change, helped make the Democrats safe for Wall Street"
- "The Fault, Dear Voter, Lies Not in Our Stars, But in Our Democrats - Thomas Frank Adds His Voice"

"Perhaps the Most Important Question About the Democratic Party Right Now: Over at U.S. News & World Report, Pat Garofalo has a very interesting piece up that asks 'Are Democrats Trolling the Left?' This question deserves some serious consideration, because the answer could tell us a huge amount about American politics over the next several years."

Yves Smith, "Senator Warren and America Win in a Skirmish in a Long Struggle Against Wall Street's Coup."
- Also at Naked Capitalism, "MMT Versus the CBO: Replacing the Budget Constraint with an Inflation Constraint" - now that Stephanie Kelton is the Chief Economist of the Senate Budget Committee.

"It's Not Just the Cops: Public defenders know that the trouble with our justice system extends far beyond abusive policing"

"Most of America's rich think the poor have it easy" - you know, because of all those wonderful benefits they get.

James Fallows on "The Tragedy of the American Military: The American public and its political leadership will do anything for the military except take it seriously. The result is a chickenhawk nation in which careless spending and strategic folly combine to lure America into endless wars it can't win."

"Prosecuting corporate culprits" - There are crimes that normal people get prosecuted for and go to jail. When you do it large, you should be tried for those crimes, too, right? Maybe it's starting.

Commenter ksix reminds us that Mario Cuomo was no great liberal hero - but my point was that he came outta nowhere with a message that spoke to the people, and with a little help from Jimmy Breslin, he became governor of New York. Now, if we could only get a real one....

"Speaking While Female" - You already know this, but every now and then someone does a study or writes an article about how women get interrupted more or guys grab their ideas and take credit for them or whatever. It's particularly fun when you're the one person in the room who can actually answer a question, or has any expertise in the subject, or even has an idea, and they still won't let you finish what you're saying. (And hey, remember this?)

RIP
- Faith Seidenberg, 91, one of the women who invaded McSorley's all-male bar.
- Al Bendich, 85, successful free speech lawyer for Ginsberg, Ferlingetti, and Lenny Bruce.
- Kim Fowley, 75, music producer and influential background figure from doo-wop to heavy metal, P.J. Proby and the Runaways, all over the industry. You can blame him for this: "Introducing John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band at a festival in Toronto in 1969, and knowing that Lennon was experiencing a bout of anxiety at the prospect of facing a crowd of 20,000 with a new band, Fowley invited the audience to welcome the musicians by striking matches or holding up lighters - the first recorded instance of what would become a rock and roll tradition."

Beth Moon's photos of ancient trees

Bev Doolittle, How many horses?

Gourmet Paper Mache Dragon

"That Doesn't Make Sense"

The Beatles in A Midsummer Night's Dream

"I'm Only Sleeping"

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

It's The Same Old Song

In the further adventures of Jay Ackroyd and Stuart Zechman on Virtually Speaking Sundays, topics discussed included France declaring war on terror, James Fallows on the military industrial complex, and NYPD vs the Mayor and the Commissioner, with Political satire from Culture of Truth.

Gaius Publius, "'Open Rebellion' Pays Off - Warren & Progressives Sink Obama Nominee Antonio Weiss" - which sounds like good news. Now they just have to stop Loretta Lynch.

And now, the moment Obama has been waiting for, his big chance to finally get The Grand Bargain to save the disability hostages! "New GOP Congress Fires Shot At Social Security On Day One [...] The House GOP's rule change would still allow for a reallocation from the retirement fund to shore up the disability fund -- but only if an accompanying proposal "improves the overall financial health of the combined Social Security Trust Funds," per the rule, expected to be passed on Tuesday. While that language is vague, experts say it would likely mean any reallocation would have to be balanced by new revenues or benefit cuts."

"Democrats, in a stark shift in messaging, to make big tax-break pitch for middle class" - Well, it's not that big, and it's just amazing how they didn't get these bright ideas before 2010... Oh, wait.

Kudos to O'Malley, because whatever other complaints we may have about him, his actions to get rid of the death penalty in Maryland have genuinely been fruitful, and his commutation of the last DP sentences left is a very good thing.

So, it turns out that Justice doesn't want James Risen to testify after all. "As Josh Gerstein first reported, the government has just asked the judge in the Jeffrey Sterling trial, Leonie Brinkema, to declare James Risen unavailable as a witness. After having defended their own right to call Risen as a witness all the way to the Supreme Court, claiming all the way they need Risen to prove their case, they're now saying Sterling should not be able to call him." I guess they're pretty miffed that he won't disclose his sources.

So, this Councilman tells the local newspaper that he's gonna send his lawyers after him for using his name in stories without his authorization. That's right, he thinks he can do that. And the editorial response is very entertaining. There's only one problem: Although they stress the whole "free speech" idea, they make no mention of the public servants are accountable to the public idea.

A little truth from David Horsey

You would think, in the current climate, that the governor of Missouri would have pardoned a 61-year-old man who is serving life without parole for possession of five pounds of marijuana. But not Jay Nixon.

For the first time ever, an Albuquerque PD cop will be charged with murder for killing someone: "The APD has one of the highest rates of officer involved shootings in the country and the body cam footage of James Boyd's execution helped to raise national awareness to this problem. James Boyd, 38, had been camping in a spot deemed 'illegal' by the state in March of last year. APD officers were dispatched, in full paramilitary force, to remove the man from his camp site."

Chris Floyd, "Hunger Games: Western Terror Warriors Spurn Their Innocent Victims : So now there is no money left for the Syrian refugees created by the civil war fomented and fanned for years on end by Western governments. (Who, bizarrely, then prosecute any of their citizens who go off to fight in the war their governments promote as a noble and worthy cause.) For want of $64 million - the amount of money the US spends in an eyeblink on its drone campaigns and death squads, the kind of money that's just chump change for, say, oligarchs who prowl the world destabilizing governments and monetizing misery for their own pockets - the UN says it must halt a vital support program for Syrian refugees."

I like the way the Mirror reported this story: "Cancer caused by 'bad luck' more than 'lifestyle choices' according to shock new study"

We got a nice name-check from The Raw Story: "Scientists confirm there are two different forms of female squirting during climax". The link to our original paper (and the BBFC's reply) is here.

Gotta admit, I got a fine giggle over the Muslim City of Birmingham story. I always get a chuckle out of the tales of Sharia law haunting the streets of London.

Blasts from the past:
- Pete Hamill, 1969, "The Revolt of the White Lower Middle Class [...] The White Lower Middle Class? Say that magic phrase at a cocktail party on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and monstrous images arise from the American demonology. Here comes the murderous rabble: fat, well-fed, bigoted, ignorant, an army of beer-soaked Irishmen, violence-loving Italians, hate-filled Poles. Lithuanians and Hungarians (they are never referred to as Americans). They are the people who assault peace marchers, who start groups like the Society for the Prevention of Negroes Getting Everything (S.P.O.N.G.E.), the people who hate John Lindsay and vote for George Wallace, presumably because they believe that Wallace will eventually march every black man in America to the gas chambers, sending Lindsay and the rest of the Liberal Establishment along with them. Sometimes these brutes are referred to as "the ethnics" or "the blue-collar types." But the bureaucratic, sociological phrase is White Lower Middle Class. Nobody calls it the Working Class anymore."
-2009, "The High Cost of Poverty: Why the Poor Pay More"

I'm not sure how to sum up this little story without spoilling it, but it's the kind of thing you always wish would happen - and, apparently, it did.

"Once-In-A-Lifetime Chance To Spot The Green Glow Of Comet Lovejoy - Chance would be a fine thing for a clear night and remembering to go out and look.

I think these photos are meant to be someone dancing with clouds of powdered coffee creamer.

A love story told in lattes

Renaissance superheroes and Star Wars characters

Toolbox in your hair

The Four Tops