Thursday, December 26, 2013

I pray on Christmas

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

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

* * * * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The EFF's NSA Crossword Puzzle

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

This is something I never knew about Wally Cox.

The making of a London Underground poster

An amazing bit of pencil art

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

Sherlock Mini-Episode: Many Happy Returns

The Zombies still make me feel good.

Blind Boys of Alabama


  1. Hi Avedon. Thanks much for the William Powell link, that's a really good article.

  2. Dean Baker, "Inequality: Government Is a Perp, Not a Bystander:

    Inequality: Obama's Policies ARE Perps, Not Bystanders.

  3. I never get tired of Chiron Beta Prime.

  4. Lovely Torme/Garland duet. I was prepared for her to be drunk and the clip embarrassing, and maybe she was drunk, but what a performer, even so!

  5. Can't find the clip but I've heard her talk about this with a bit less delight than she does here. [LINK]

    Anyway, if you have eight minutes for some show biz bio: