31 December 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.

26 December 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

18 December 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.

15 December 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.

08 December 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

04 December 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"

28 November 2013

Turkeys away

I've decided to go back to maintaining The Sideshow site and using the Blogspot pages as the permalink and comment facility.

Panelists on Virtually Speaking Sundays this week were Digby and Marcy Wheeler (emptywheel), talking about the NSA and denial of domestic spying, Snowden, and the filibuster. Bunch of eye-openers in here, particularly with regard to DiFi's continuing fealty to the security state.

Here's Glenn Greenwald being interviewed on BBC's HardTalk. As Glenn observed on Twitter, the interviewer seems to have a hard time absorbing the fact that security officials lie and that there have to be independent observers holding them to account. Note that the interviewer doesn't even understand how ironic - and terrifying - it is for someone to be called "a special case" who of course has his communications content spied on by the government when that person is a journalist. (Can't imagine why they'd want to do that.) Notice the way he seems to lash out when Glenn responds to another repetition of the idea that journalists shouldn't question power by saying that it's not the job of a journalist to investigate other journalists who question the claims of the powerful. It's almost comical to see how this stung interviewer tries to "challenge" Glenn.

Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism on "Identity Politics and the Stoking of Generational Warfare [...] A particularly potent political grouping would be for older people, particularly retirees, to team up with young people on economic issues. So it's not surprising that some political mavens are trying to make sure that doesn't happen. One of the strategies of the plutocrats comes from financier Jay Gould : 'I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half,' except this time, they aren't even having to hire one half to turn it against the other. Just as I've noticed an sharp uptick in women's identity articles, I've also seen a ramping up of generational warfare and anti-baby-boomer messaging (I have as much antipathy towards broad comments about baby boomers as I do women). This phenomenon admittedly has deeper roots, since billionaire Pete Peterson has been campaigning against Social Security and Medicare since the mid 1980s, and presenting old people as something society can't afford is part of his strategy. But he's been joined by fresh troops, such as Fix the Debt and billionaire Stan Druckenmiller's overt campaign to turn young people against older ones, The Can Kicks Back. Yet how does indicting a large group of people who are extremely diverse in terms of income, occupation, religion, family status, and ethnicity make any sense? It's tantamount to prosecuting everyone at JP Morgan for fraud and predatory practices, rather than Jamie Dimon and other responsible individuals."

Since we've railed here about patent trolls before, it is with some delight that we see our friend Whit Diffie taking them on.

It would appear that the new pope actually reads the Gospels. Rush Limbaugh is calling him a "Marxist" for it, but RJ Eskow wants to Occupy Christmas.

"12 Reasons Why Obama Is One of the Best Presidents Ever" - Remember the name Matthew D. Lynch, because this article is its own special kind of crazy. Everything in it is just plain wrong.

Lee Camp's Moment of Clarity: "Do You Have Any Idea What $50 TRILLION Looks Like?!"

The Sylvia School of Mainstream Journalism

Judith Kerr and the story behind The Tiger Who Came To Tea

Tauriel Refuses To Get Into Butt Pose In Hobbit Poster, Makes Legolas Do It Instead

Behind the Lens - The Day of the Doctor

Did Magneto kill JFK? See The Bent Bullet.

The great turkey pardon, myth-busting included.

Fine Dining with Albert Finney and Joyce Redman

A WKRP Thanksgiving
(I kept thinking of replacements for that second clause, like, "As God is my witness, I thought the NSA was above reproach," or, "As God is my witness, I thought bankers would never lie," or, "As God is my witness, I thought all black people were liberals.")

23 November 2013

I'll never get over losing you

Sam Seder interviewed Diane Ravitch about Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools about the myth of the education crisis and where the real problem is for our schools, on The Majority Report.

"Huge Change in Senate But Most People Don't Care" - Not sure how huge a change it is, since Democrats never bothered to filibuster anything much in the first place. They appear to have saved it for Supreme Court appointments, as if it's a special case, but with far-right crackpot radicals like Alito, Scalia, and Roberts on the court, it's hard to argue that eliminating the filibuster means extremists will somehow start sneaking onto the court, as if they hadn't already been walking right in and doing the crazy. And, you know, it's not as if we have any proof that Republicans won't change the rule back once they take over the Senate - which could easily happen unless Democrats start behaving as if they believe in democracy in the first place.
Jay Ackroyd got Joan McCarter and KagroX together to discuss what happened with the filibuster and what its impact is likely to be. This isn't a regular episode of Virtually Speaking, but it may clear things up for people to give it a listen.

Obamacare: Experimenting on people when you already know the outcome. This is when you really want to slap someone. And like Lambert, the first thing I thought of when I read that quote from an Obamacare defender was the Tuskegee Experiment. We already know what the outcomes are, we don't have to experiment at the cost of people's lives. And the whole "consumer shopping" approach to health care makes so little sense that it's amazing a person could reach adulthood and argue for it with a straight face. "Oh, yes, I'm in agonizing pain and may have only minutes to get into surgery to save life or limb, but this is a great time to sit down and comparison shop for the best surgeons and figure out which hospital is willing to take me and...."
Found a nice quote from Bob Perillo on FB: "I regularly get called things like "a friend of Ted Cruz" for opposing the ACA from the left -- which is kind of funny, since it was invented by Republicans in the first place. But of course I've just failed to appreciate liberal alchemy: policies made of lead become golden by the mere fact that they have been adopted by Democrats."

This is an interesting take on the guy who is funding Glenn Greenwald's new venture: "The Extraordinary Pierre Omidyar [...] Since its founding in 2004, Omidyar Network has committed nearly $300 million to a range of nonprofit and for-profit "charity" outfits. An examination of the ideas behind the Omidyar Network and of the investments it has made suggests that its founder is anything but a "different" sort of billionaire. Instead, what emerges is almost a caricature of neoliberal ideology, complete with the trail of destruction that ensues when that ideology is put into practice. The generous support of the Omidyar Network goes toward "fighting poverty" through micro-lending, reducing third-world illiteracy rates by privatizing education and protecting human rights by expanding property titles ("private property rights") into slums and villages across the developing world. In short, Omidyar Network's philanthropy reveals Omidyar as a free-market zealot with an almost mystical faith in the power of "markets" to transform the world, end poverty, and improve lives - one micro-individual at a time. [...] So brace yourself, you're about to get something you've never seen before: billionaire-backed journalism taking on the power of the state. How radical is that? In other words: look out Government, you're about to be pummeled by a crusading, righteous billionaire! And corporate America? Ah, don't worry. Your dirty secrets - freshly transferred from the nasty non-profit hands of the Guardian to the aggressively for-profit hands of Pierre Omidyar - are safe with us." There is a distinction between fighting state power and fighting the power. Will Omidyar be happy if his new news project goes after all of it?

Spooky Business: Corporate Espionage Against Nonprofit Organizations: This report is an effort to document something we know little about: corporate espionage against nonprofit organizations. The entire subject is veiled in secrecy. In recent years, there have been few serious journalistic efforts and no serious government efforts to come to terms with the reality of corporate spying against nonprofits. Much of what we do know about this subject has been uncovered by accident. So the picture we have is fragmentary at best: just a few snapshots, taken mostly at random, arising from brilliant strokes of luck, giving a mere inkling of the full range of espionage activity against nonprofits. There are, however, a few things we can say for certain." (.pdf)

"Workplace Climate of Retaliation at Hanford" - More whistleblower punishment. Honestly, bosses who do this should be put in jail anyway, but there is no earthly reason why any private company should be hired to do the public's business when they can easily profit by failing.

"Bob Woodward Disappointed That Snowden Didn't Go To Him" - Poor old Bob could have had a whole new Deep Throat to play with. Except, you know, he couldn't, because he wasn't trustworthy.

Unexpected quotations: "America is way too quick to trade freedom for the illusion of security,' he told The Daily Beast. 'Whether it's allowing the NSA to go way too far in what it intercepts of our personal data, to our government monitoring of everything domestically and spending way more than we should. I don't know if I want to live in a country where lone wolf and random terror attacks are impossible 'cause that country would look more like North Korea than America." -- Blackwater founder Erik Prince, noticing that the policies that made him rich are bad when done by a Democratic president

Atrios named Tom Brower The Worst Person in the World Tuesday and wondered why he isn't being arrested. You'd think someone who makes a practice of roaming around town taking a sledgehammer to other people's private possessions would be in custody by now.

The NYT is lying with scare quotes - If something is true but you put it in scare quotes anyway, you're telling your readers it's actually not true. Sometimes you really need to use scare quotes - like when the media call antidemocratic radicals "centrist" as if for all the world they really represent some sort of middle ground, I want them to put it in scare quotes, but they don't, so I have to. But when "doctors" are actual doctors, "farm equipment" is actual farm equipment, and "rights" are actual rights, well, you're never going to understand the Iran "negotiations" that way.

Once again, Ezra Klein makes me want to pound my head against the wall. Jeez, Ezra, hasn't anyone explained to you yet that privatization just loads on inefficiencies and "big government" can do a better job without greedheads getting in the way?

"A Cleveland Wal-Mart store is holding a food drive - for its own employees." I can't even think about that without getting up and yelling, so I sure can't type anything.

Krugman, "The Geezers Are Not Alright" - Someone needs to tell The Washington Post that there are already old people living on catfood.
"Expanding Social Security [...] The rise in life expectancy, it turns out, is overwhelmingly a story about affluent, well-educated Americans. Those with lower incomes and less education have, at best, seen hardly any rise in life expectancy at age 65; in fact, those with less education have seen their life expectancy decline. So this common argument amounts, in effect, to the notion that we can't let janitors retire because lawyers are living longer. And lower-income Americans, in case you haven't noticed, are the people who need Social Security most."

So, basically, Zimmerman is just a violent loony.

"Mother fined $10 for not including Ritz crackers in kids' school lunch" - because gods forbid your kid might not be getting enough starch.

More tips people shouldn't give their waiters

Cameron's Britain: "Police are cracking down on students - but what threat to law and order is an over-articulate history graduate?" Like Thatcher's Britain and Blair's Britain.

Is Al Gore right?

Don't make this film - a sequel to It's a Wonderful Life that seems determined to erase the virtues of the original film.

The death of science fiction's first Nobel Laureate, Doris Lessing, seems to have been a good excuse for the Evening Standard to dredge up an amusing little story about her night with Kenneth Tynan.

These concrete arrows point the way across America

The lost Eno album

Bitter Barista

The 40 Worst Rob Liefeld Drawings

Trailer for Mr. Peabody and Sherman. It doesn't feel like an improvement on the original.

How to peel a head of garlic in less than 10 seconds

Gah, I don't have time to finish playing the Doctor Who Google doodle. And if you don't, either, you might as well just watch this. (Later: Dammit, I couldn't resist!)

Geraldine: The David Frost Interview

The making of the making of Doctor Who - This is about ten minutes of background to the BBC's drama about how the BBC's first female producer and the first Indian director worked together to get the right man and make the TV show we're all still watching and loving 50 years on. An Adventure in Space and Time starts off as Verity Lambert's story, but it's really William Hartnell's, and the choice of actor for this role was perfect - he not only looks like him, but he plays like him, and I kept forgetting I wasn't looking at William Hartnell. And here's a video review of the drama with which I can't disagree.

Randy Newman, "Losing You"

17 November 2013

From me to you

Yesterday was the only convenient day for us to have Thanksgiving dinner. The best sysadmin ever also provided the pies. As always, I am grateful to him, and to Mr. Sideshow, and to you. And also to Boopsie, who is the most cutie-pie of them all and makes me laugh and laugh.

Avedon Carol and David Waldman (KagroX) are tonight's panelists on Virtually Speaking Sundays. I'm told we'll "discuss populism; the PPACA as yet another example of technocratic centrist failure; declaring surrender in the drug wars as Colorado passes weed tax and; the Village's slavering for Obama failure in his second term. Jay Ackroyd moderates. Plus today's ridiculous moment from Culture of Truth."
Thursday's guest on Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd was Ian Welsh. CMike was kind enough to transcribe a portion of this talk in comments here. Homework for the episode includes Ian's articles, "Baseline Predictions for the next sixty years", "A New Ideology", and "How to Create a Viable Ideology".
You might also want to save this handy quotation: "After serving his time federal prison, John Ehrlichman granted an interview to author Dan Baum, who reports that Ehrlichman explained the origin of the war on drugs this way: 'The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar Left, and black people. You understand what I'm saying? We knew we couldn't make it illegal to be either against the war or black. But by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.'"

I can't now remember when it was I noticed it, but at some point in the Bush years I realized that there is an enormous group of people out there who don't recognize what I think of as a fairly universal story for English-speaking (and other) people, a story we refer to all the time as the illustration of how some piece of elite flim-flam is occurring and no one has the nerve to say so. A bunch of people who are younger than me simply have no idea what we're talking about when we say, "The Emperor has no clothes." I think that's a shame, because it's not simply a children's story (it sure isn't), but a warning about how con artists exist at every level and can swindle absolutely anyone because humans are too often afraid to speak up and may even believe there is something going on that everyone else can see but them, that the problem is with them. How many people, for example, simply assumed that our leaders talking suddenly about the dire threat represented by Saddam Hussein was based on some demonstrated fact that was not visible to those of us who kept noticing that Saddam simply didn't have the capability to be such a threat? How many people believed that the completely contrafactual "models" and rationales for the economic policies of the last 30-odd years all made perfect sense, that housing prices could just naturally (and harmlessly!) jump to ten times the median annual income of the populace, that Clinton's welfare "reform" of eliminating Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) would improve the condition of the poor rather than having a devastating impact on the poor and the black community, that Social Security is taking money out of the economy rather than putting it in, that private corporations can do a better job than government at running the programs government once manifestly ran more efficiently and effectively, that deregulation was actually a good idea - and so on? How many people hear that these fantasticly complicated-sounding financial facilities are just "too complicated" for anyone else to understand and think it actually makes sense to let the foxes continue to "guard" the henhouse? From the mouths of babes (e.g., cranky old activists and hippie bloggers) we heard that so many of these stories were actually not true, but the grown-ups wouldn't listen, even when the whistleblowers joined in - and instead they just wanted to shoot the messenger.

Among the myriad issues where the emperor has no clothes is one I still find it amazing that members of my own generational cohort seem to have completely fallen for an obvious lie: the crack cocaine story. I remember when it first reared its ugly head how we started hearing the same kind of outrageous claims that we once heard about marijuana and LSD; every issue of Time seemed to be all Reefer Madness on this drug preparation. It should have been manifestly obvious that no drug could instantly addict someone with one dose, for example - it simply makes no sense. And you would have thought a generation that cut its teeth on debunking lies about marijuana would have seen right through it, but they didn't. One of the most draconian drug laws ever resulted from this insanity and a succession of tragically evil drug policies have followed in its wake. (All of which, by the way, has had devastating impact on the black community as a whole, not to mention black activism.) Of course, it's not just my generation that dropped the ball on this - everyone does it all the time, dismissing even what they have seen with their own eyes in favor of manufactured "conventional wisdom" that pours down on them from the elites. Sam Seder did a great interview with Columbia University neuroscientist Carl Hart, author of the new book High Price: A Neuroscientist's Journey of Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs and Society, who explained "how we demonize people on welfare, his life experience and academic work, why not all users of Crack Cocaine are addicted, the Rat Park study, the variety of reasons people fall into drug addiction, who benefits from the War on Drugs and who pays the highest price and how we use drugs to avoid addressing poverty and unemployment," on The Majority Report.

Another term that I suspect some people have lost a grip on is one that Atrios keeps using quite accurately to describe the convoluted means "centrists" keep coming up with to do what should be straightforward tasks, is Rube Goldberg machine. He frequently employs the term to talk about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), an overburdened mess that could have bypassed most of its problems by getting rid of the huge complication of the expensive middle-men in the insurance industry, as we have seen. Perhaps that's why he posted this entertaining video Tuesday night.

The Amazingly Articulate Barack Obama gives a presser about a fiasco any smart person should have seen coming.
And an appropriate word from Mike the Mad Biologist

"Can we trade Obama for Nixon? It's difficult to know, in historical terms, how best to understand the monumental catastrophe of the Obamacare rollout. Is it yet another example of the pathological weakness and spinelessness of the Democratic Party, which never seems to get anything right and always prefers to negotiate itself into unnecessary compromise and ideological defeat? Or is it another symptom of our national refusal to pursue a rational and coherent healthcare policy, fueled partly by our bogus mythology of individualism and partly by the machinations of insurance-industry racketeers? Is there, to go one step further, a relationship between those two things?"

Suddenly I am not the only person talking about giving Americans a guaranteed basic income. And this is Business Insider!

Marcy Wheeler on "The Opportunity Cost of the Global Dragnet," or how the NSA is wrecking everything.

Dept. of Worse Than Bush: NSA Whistleblower speaks.
"Americans' personal data shared with CIA, IRS, others in security probe"

"The Rise and Fall of Fast Track Trade Authority [...] Under the U.S. Constitution, Congress writes the laws and sets trade policy. And so it was for 200 years. Over the last few decades, presidents have seized those powers through a mechanism known as Fast Track. Fast Track facilitated controversial pacts such as NAFTA and the World Trade Organization, which extend beyond traditional tariff-cutting to set constraints on domestic financial, energy, patents and copyright, food safety, immigration and other policies."
Why Do We The People Have To Read TPP On Wikileaks?"
Just in case you thought it was any better over here, the Transatlantic Trade Deal is the European version of the TPP, "...a privatised justice system for global corporations", and a direct attack on democracy.

Matt Taibbi, "Chase's Twitter Gambit Devolves into All-Time PR Fiasco."
Stacy Keach, #AskJPM tweets performed by voice of American Greed
Read the Tweets

"Caught in Unemployment's Revolving Door [...] 'I've been turned down from McDonald's because I was told I was too articulate,' she says. 'I got denied a job scrubbing toilets because I didn't speak Spanish and turned away from a laundromat because I was 'too pretty.' I've also been told point-blank to my face, 'We don't hire the unemployed.' And the two times I got real interest from a prospective employer, the credit check ended it immediately.'"

Say what you will about Ralph Nader, but the only way he's wrong about the Democratic Party and Obama is that he's not scathing enough. I don't think he even realizes what Obama really is.

"Vanity Fair editor's crazy conspiracy theory: Former NYT scribe Kurt Eichenwald just knows Edward Snowden's a Chinese spy -- no matter what logic says."

Richard Cohen managed to commit another atrocity, with the open approval of his editor, and a response from Ta-Nehisi Coates.
In honor of the occasion, Atrios linked to this blast from the past at A Tiny Revolution.

As some of you may recall, I learned my way around unpacking pseudo-science and "conventional wisdom" by studying the relationship between sex crime and a whole passel of anti-sex assumptions and anti-pornography "science". And no matter how much time you spend debunking this stuff, there is always more. And it's like that with everything.

"No, This is Not an Okay Tip to Leave." And if the meal comes to less than $25, you might want to consider this. (Well, some of us can only afford to eat in restaurants if we stick to the local tipping conventions, but if you can afford it, why not do it?)

The Original "Occupy": Novel Was Written 100 Years Before Zuccotti Park

How to Be an Atheist Without Being a Dick About It

Google, if the '80s never ended

You can listen to this Beatles at the BBC program until Thursday. It's fun.

12 November 2013

Easier said than done

Stuart Zechman explained the problems with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and how to fix them on Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd. Here's Stuart's text outline of those issues. Homework includes a piece from last year in the WaPo, "A Limit on Consumer Costs Is Delayed in Health Care Law."
Joan McCarter and Jay Ackroyd discussed "the politics of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act; Harry Reid's filibuster reform talk; expanding social security; and the results of the 2013 elections and the attendant exit polls" on Virtually Speaking Sundays.

Today's healthcare frauds: Johnson & Johnson

"The rich: 'A class of people for whom humans are disposable commodities'" - Gaius Publius recommends pieces by Chris Hedges and Digby on the pathology of the Cloud People.*

More like this, please: Keith Ellison and Tom Guild in Oklahoma. Talk like the people matter and even the reddest states might just come out on the right side.

Noam Scheiber in The New Republic, "Hillary's Nightmare? A Democratic Party That Realizes Its Soul Lies With Elizabeth Warren"

Key Obama priority: "Getting the Republican Party back in a functioning state"

David Dayen in The New Republic, "Congress Is Starving the Agency That's Supposed to Prevent Another Meltdown"

Matt Taibbi, "Chase Isn't the Only Bank in Trouble"

If your business model requires you to break the law and continuously go to court and pay fines as a matter of course, you'd better make sure you have sufficient reserves of funds for the legal process.

WaPo: "The Great Recession may have crushed America's economic potential [...] The paper offers a depressing portrait of where the economy stands nearly six years after the onset of recession, and amounts to a damning indictment of U.S. policymakers. Their upshot: The United States's long-term economic potential has been diminished by the fact that policymakers have not done more to put people back to work quickly. Our national economic potential is now a whopping 7 percent below where it was heading at the pre-2007 trajectory, the authors find."
Paul Krugman on "The Mutilated Economy". The administration and Congress have conspired in their attack on the nation's economy at the behest of their corporate masters, but there's no reason we shouldn't call it what it is: a national security crisis.

Another surprise from the Pope.
"This might be the worse thing you read today: This story from New Mexico is just insane, and show just how out of control the 'War on Drugs' has gotten."
Election highlights: There's bad news, of course, but a surprising amount of good news.
Well, it would have been nice if they hadn't kept saying "trans fats" and just said margarine is bad for you. Doesn't anyone listen to Julia Child? Jeez.
Not everything is lost, in the world we all want to live in.

"Australian David Hicks: Survivor of Gitmo's Sadistic Abuse: Richard Phillips in 'David Hicks seeks to overturn Guantánamo "terrorism" conviction' reveals that former Guantanamo Bay prisoner Australian citizen David Hicks has lodged an appeal with the US Court of Military Commission Review to overturn his 2007 conviction of 'providing support for terrorism.' It is expected that the commission will NOT quash Hicks' conviction. His American lawyer from the Center for Constitutional Rights will then appeal the case to the US federal district court. "

Digby on the culture of unaccountability and prosecutorial misconduct that puts innocent people in prison - on purpose.

The Rorschach test controversy on Wikipedia. Oh, my!

Black Panthers' Fight For Free Health Care

"Terrible Columnist Richard Cohen Shocked To Learn That Slavery Was Really, Really Bad"

Cartoon: The high cost of incarceration

"Legal paper maps out conservative plan to abolish pornography"

Michael Moore recommends 12 years a slave.

"Why Scandinavian women make the rest of the world jealous"

Every now and then I think of these bitter things, and try not to break things.

Laurie Anderson's Farewell to Lou Reed

You can now look at the original Mary Shelly drafts for Frankenstein online.

Photoset: Steampunk DC characters

H.P. Lovecraft's "The Haunter Of The Dark", animated.

Sail - Awolnation with Tesla coils! FOR SCIENCE!

Masha and the Bear - a cute little children's show from Russia.

Fortean Times: 40 years of covers - in pictures

Halloween costume that makes lemons into lemonade.

"41 Camping Hacks that are borderline genius" - I don't do much camping, but a few of these are things you can use at home or in the wilds of, say, Central London.

Famous paintings animated

The M&S Christmas TV Advert 2013

The Essex, because it's the moment to just do it.