Sunday Reads: One Sad Goat Makes A Happy Ass

We sailed with the reading by the sea of ​​literature  Navegamos con la lectura por el mar de la literatura (ilustración de Deena Pagliarello)

We sailed with the reading by the sea of ​​literature Navegamos con la lectura por el mar de la literatura (ilustración de Deena Pagliarello)

Good Morning

Summer is here for my kiddies…at least it is the second week of vacation for them. One thing though, change is coming. Today we are switching bedrooms, moving my brother up to the main floor and bringing my son down to the basement bedroom. Ya, the transformation to adult son living in basement just got all that much closer to reality.

My son will have his own entrance, his own fridge and his own little game room. He will even have a little intercom for those times when he needs a little nourishment.

Longer clip here.

Anyway, to make this switcheroo happen we have to take my brother out for the entire day, and let all hell brake loose when he comes home to find his desk, complete with all Dukes of Hazard paraphernalia has been moved upstairs.

So if you are near the vicinity of Banjoville, and hear the wrath of Uncle Gordy (my kids nickname for my brother) as he cusses us out but good….you will know that we have gotten back from our long drive to Atlanta, and that Denny has realized there was more to that fancy lunch at The Cheesecake Factory than just a huge hunk of cheesecake.

Alright.

Now for the links. Which are all over the place today.

I guess the shit is meeting the fan? At least it looks like it from this headline at the New York Times After Deadly Rampage, Sheriff’s Office Faces Concerns About Conduct

A week after Elliot O. Rodger’s violent rampage in Isla Vista, Calif., that left six college students dead and 13 other people wounded, state lawmakers are now calling for an investigation of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office’s previous contact with Mr. Rodger. Some are calling for wholesale changes to how law enforcement officers respond to calls that someone could be a threat to himself or to others.

Sheriff’s deputies visited Mr. Rodger on April 30, just three weeks before his rampage, after receiving a call from his mother, who had been concerned by videos he posted online.

At the time, Mr. Rodger had already bought at least two firearms, which were both registered in his name. But sheriff’s deputies were unaware of that when they visited Mr. Rodger, because they had not checked the statewide gun ownership database. They also had not watched the videos Mr. Rodger had posted.

You go check out some dude who is a “threat” and you don’t even watch the damn video? They did not even do a quick check to see if he had any guns. That is some shitty police work if you ask me. But, I will let you read more about this here:

Kelly Hoover, a spokeswoman for the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office, would not elaborate on why no weapons check was done, and declined to confirm whether there would be an internal investigation of the visit.

But Hannah-Beth Jackson, the state senator who represents Santa Barbara, said a comprehensive investigation of the deputies’ visit to Mr. Rodger’s apartment was needed to give the public a full accounting of the events leading up to the massacre. “The community will not tolerate any half-baked approach to dealing with this,” Ms. Jackson said.

Law enforcement agencies across California have said that it is not necessarily standard practice to check the state gun registry before any check by officers on someone’s well-being. And the sheriff’s office has defended the six deputies who visited Mr. Rodger in April.

“Based on the information reviewed thus far, the sheriff’s office has determined that the deputies who responded handled the call in a professional manner consistent with state law and department policy,” Ms. Hoover said in an email on Saturday.

After Mr. Rodger’s rampage in Isla Vista, Ms. Jackson co-wrote legislation that would create a “gun-violence restraining order.” If family members or friends alert law enforcement that someone poses a threat to themselves or to others, law enforcement would then be able to petition a judge to prohibit the person from purchasing firearms.

But if you really want a freak out, read this: Lessons From a Day Spent With the UCSB Shooter’s Awful Friends

Tuesday morning, I logged into a chat room full of refugees of the since shuttered PUAHate forum once frequented by University of California-Santa Barbara shooter Elliott Rodger. And I stayed there, silently watching them, for 8 hours. Here’s what I learned.

PUAHate, as other outlets have discussed, is an offshoot of the Pick Up Artist community populated by men (and, allegedly, women) who believe Pick Up Artistry to be a sham waste of money not because women are more than “targets” and “prey,” but because women are fucking hopeless cunts who can’t be convinced to give nice guys a chance. Women, argue PUAHaters, will only go out with good looking alpha males and would never look twice at anyone who isn’t a musclebound dreamboat with a six-figure income, and most men will never be those things, and so the world is against them and life is unfair. From an observer’s perspective, PUAHate is a group of self-pitying babies who believe they’re entitled to women who are much more attractive than they are.

Big news this day however:

Bowe Bergdahl, American Soldier, Freed by Taliban in Prisoner Trade – NYTimes.com

Hagel: U.S. acted fast to save Bowe Bergdahl’s life – CNN.com

Official: Freed US soldier on Way to Military Hospital in Germany

Republicans attack Obama over soldier swap – The Times of India

There is video of Bergdahl eating in freedom at the CNN link. Of course the GOP would be pissed…can you imagine the shit storm if they had known?

Hagel: Congress Kept in Dark on Swap Because Bergdahl’s Life in Danger – NBC News.com

Here is an interesting bit of Snowden news, Russian Web Journalism Award to be named after Snowden – Little Green Footballs

This takes the cake. From the country at the forefront of institutionalized oppression of journalists, featuring a massive surveillance apparatus, comes the Snowden Award for Journalistic Excellence. Not a peep from Snowden about his new host country’s behavior. And no word on when this Russian media outlet plans on an expose on Putin’s marginalization and oppression of his countryman’s journalists and media owners.

Moving on, I told you this post was all over the place…Canadian Bar Sells Cups with Lids to Curb Roofied Drinks

 

A bar in Saskatchewan right across the border from North Dakota has taken it upon itself to keep an eye out for it’s female patrons by offering drinking cups with screw-on lids. The hard plastic cup is selling for five dollars, and is being sold as a way to prevent spiked drinks. CBC reports that the bar’s management simply wants so keep things safe for their women customers:

“I want girls to be able to come into our bar in groups of two or three, or if they don’t have dates, they can still come in here and have fun and dance and not have to worry about somebody drugging them,” Regina Rooks, manager of the Derrick Motor Hotel bar, told CBC News. “There has been a couple incidents.”

“We are now a boomtown and undesirables do come to town,” she said

Rooks very clearly means well. She obviously wants to protect her customers, and she’s showing a resourcefulness and inclination to try and solve a serious problem.

At the same time, it’s still just a bandaid solution to a much bigger issue. It reinforces the idea that potential victims are responsible for their own sexual safety. And charging for the cup adds a whole other layer to that idea. Putting a lid on a beverage isn’t telling rapists they shouldn’t rape, which is, you know, the main problem. It’s not really deterring rape.

Hey, at least it is something. I mean…it tells the rapist who plan to drug women that they should move on to the bar next door, which is not a solution I know. But I will take what ever extra protection is offered, wouldn’t you?

On Wednesday, I brought up the subject of women who are pulling the victim blaming bullshit on the Calhoun rape victim here in North Georgia. I even went so far as to put a label on them…the C-word…you know that one which rhymes with bunt.

Check this out: Men Aren’t the Only Ones Slut Shaming Women | Care2 Causes

Thousands of women have rallied around the hashtag #YesAllWomen on Twitter sharing personal stories of the everyday harassment they face. The response has been overwhelming and put a spotlight on the sexist culture we live in where a young man resorted to murder for being rejected by women.

Sure, not all men are like Elliot Rodger (there’s even a hashtag to prove it: #NotAllMen), but there is no denying that we live in a society where women are targets of violence and shamed for their sexuality. Women are called sluts for having sex and, like Rodger angrily proclaimed, sluts for not having sex, at least with him. Either way we’re sluts. But as the two studies below prove, men aren’t the only ones responsible for slut-shaming women. Sometimes we women are just as guilty.

The first study published in the Social Psychology Quarterly tracked the lives of 53 women attending college at a Midwestern university and found that women often participated in slut shaming one another as a means of maintaining their social status. The findings suggest that high-status women, those women who participated in Greek life on campus and often came from upper-middle class backgrounds, used slut shaming as a means of bullying lower-status girls and keeping them from climbing the social ladder.

On the flip side, high-status women were also far less likely to be slut shamed by their lower-status peers despite engaging in more sexual relationships. It stands to reason then that lower status girls were targets of slut shaming regardless of whether or not they had sexual experience. Lastly, while high-status women with more sexual experience defined their lifestyle as “classy,” their low-status peers who tried to mimic this behavior to fit it were immediately called “trashy.”

This study illustrates that the ladies are also guilty of creating a culture where women are stigmatized and defined by their sexuality. If women are calling each other sluts as a means of pulling social rank, what are their sexual partners saying about them behind closed doors? Does the fact that women are calling each other sluts make it OK for the men (or women) they are sleeping with to do so? If the Mean Girls assembly taught us anything, then yes.

“You’ve got to stop calling each other sluts and whores,” says Tina Fey’s character. “It just makes it OK for guys to call you sluts and whores.”

It may not make it OK, but it does create a culture where slut shaming women is acceptable.

Another study from a think tank in the UK has found that women are also guilty of slut shaming one another online. The study tracked the use of the words “rape,” “whore” and “slut” on Twitter for about a year and found that 12 percent of the tweets containing these words were intended as a direct threat or insult. What was more alarming, however, was the finding that women were almost as likely as men to send tweets with these words both casually or offensively.

For some sense to all this,

Time magazine looks to Kate Farrar, the vice president of campus leadership programs at AAUW, a non-profit focusing on women’s empowerment, who argues gender based insults have become s0 ingrained in our culture that it’s the norm:

Words like “slut” and “whore” are thrown around so frequently they “become a part of our cultural conversation [about women] from the time we’re very young…there often aren’t instances that we’re told that it’s not okay or that there’s accountability for that.”

And thanks to our culture’s paradoxical attitudes towards female sexuality, where women are expected to be sexy, but not overtly sexual, one of the most effective ways for men and women to bully, judge and degrade a woman is to brand her a “slut” or “whore.”

…that while women are often victims of a sexist culture, we are sometimes part of the problem. I for one will admit that as a college, and even high school, student I used the word “slut” very casually and as a means to put down other women, even if they weren’t actually promiscuous. I wish I could say I hadn’t, but like Farrar points out it was so ingrained in how we spoke that I didn’t think twice, and I was never told it was wrong. Well, here I am now, saying that it is wrong. Defining a woman by her sexuality, or worse demeaning her for it, is wrong whether you are a woman or a man. It’s high time we speak up when someone calls a woman a slut and analyze our own reasons for using this language.

I have done that as well…and perhaps the c-word was also along that line…but I still have to defend my use of that word. It is true, in my opinion, these women who blame rape victims are the most vulgar of women and deserve the most vulgar of titles.

The rest of this post in dump fashion…

Look who graduated: Rachel Jeantel, the close friend who was on the phone with Travon Martin moments before he was shot and killed by George Zimmerman has graduated from high school.

A football player who was taking clomid for low sperm count has been suspended: Robert Mathis of Indianapolis Colts suspended four games for PEDs – ESPN

I looked it up, they do use clomid for this condition on men…go figure.

Did y’all see this?

Ledge cracks at the Willis Tower, closed for inspection – chicagotribune.com

 

 

 

And it is scary considering less than a month ago my daughter was just doing this in that exact Ledge:

chicago trip 183

Yeah, they are jumping up and down in there.

This Graph From The CDC On Measles Infections Should Scare You – Forbes

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From Addicting Info– Virginia Court Official Tells Atheist Couple They Have No Right To Get Married Because They Don’t Believe In God

Also from Addicting Info, btw Dan says this store is full of bullshit, something is not right at that store: – Walmart Employee Picks Up Stray Coins On The Floor Of Her Store And Gets Fired For Theft

You’re fired! The bad news came to Ashley Johnson, former Walmart employee, as a surprise. She had been working in Store #5440 in Oregon in security for more than a year and a half when the Asset Protection Manager requested an interview with her. Another man attended. The man asked her if she had ever retrieved change from the store floor when she was working.

The question stunned Ashley, but she decided honesty was her best answer. “Yes,” she admitted. The man demanded how much, and Ashley said to him, “Maybe a quarter”.

No. It was much more than that. We’ve been watching you for a long time. I estimate that you’ve stolen about 45 dollars from us.

The company fired her on the spot and given one month to repay the coins or face a lawsuit. This was rather extreme to say the least. Before the incident Ashley had asked the store’s manager, Ben Carlson, for financial aid from Walmart’s controversial Critical Need Fund. Ashley wonders if this the real reason they fired her?

The Walton’s 4759 stores earn a revenue of $469 billion, which is more money than that of nearly 50% of all Americans combined. As America’s richest family, they exploit a variety of legal loopholes in order to make certain they perpetuate the dynasty’s wealth rather than contribute their government share, according public-records requests for court documents and the Internal Revenue Service filings. Yet the company still feels the need to pocket even the loose change on their store floors.

Joan Lorring, Oscar-Nominated Supporting Actress, Dead at 88

Joan LorringJoan Lorring, who was Oscar nominated for best supporting actress in the 1945 film The Corn Is Green, died Friday in the New York City suburb of Sleepy Hollow.  She was 88.  Born Mary Magdalene Ellis in Hong Kong on April 17, 1926, Lorring fled with her mother from the Japanese invasion in 1939 to San Francisco.  Her showbiz career began in radio, and her first American film at 18 was the 1944 MGM romantic war drama Song of Russia. She signed with Warner Bros. for the role of the scheming, trampish Bessie Watty, playing opposite Bette Davis, in The Corn Is Green.

Because this next link is a picture of my idol Jonathan Frid:

Miss American Vampire, 1970 – Lawyers, Guns & Money : Lawyers, Guns & Money

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A blog post about film: moviemorlocks.com – Cassavetes vs. Ottinger – Arthouse Grudge Match

A few articles on The Rose Tattoo…the play.  Left overs from Wednesday’s post:

“The Rose Tattoo as Comedy of the Grotesque”–Brian Parker

Where I Live: Selected Essays – Tennessee Williams – Google Books

A Life in the Wings: THE LADY AND TENNESSEE : The New Yorker

A LIFE IN THE WINGS about Lady Maria St. Just, the playwright Tennessee Williams’ long-time friend, who after his death became executor of his estate and exercised tyrannical control over his literary legacy. She died in England on February 15, 1994; and was said to be the model for Maggie in Williams’ “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” Lady Maria was born Maria Britneva on July 6, 1921 in St. Petersburg, Russia. Her mother, Mary, and brother left their father Dr. Alexander Britnev and went to England in 1922. Maria’s biography “Five O’Clock Angel” tells about her life and is quoted throughout article.

Tom and Lorezo’s review of Maleficent | Tom & Lorenzo Fabulous & Opinionated

“Let us tell an old tale anew,” the ever-present and somewhat talkative narrator intones at the start of Disney’s Maleficent. But by the time we got to the story’s end, we wondered if it was really worth the bother. Like 2012′s Snow White and The Huntsman, Maleficent attempts to take a more nuanced look at an old and (by design,) simplistic tale, in that “everything you know is wrong”manner. Like Broadway’s “Wicked,” it attempts to turn a classic villain into a hero – or at least, a villain that cries and has motivations beyond the acquisition of power or the destroying of annoyingly perfect little girls.

It’s an apparently irresistible thing to modern audiences; this retelling of fairy tales and childhood stories by layering them with darkness and angst; meaning and themes. The Tolkienization of Disney. And we’re not sure it’s to the story’s benefit. Fairy tales are supposed to be relatively simple stories populated by characters with the kind of motivations that children can understand. They evolved over time, but they always served the same purpose (outside of entertainment): to teach the very young about difficult concepts like evil and anger and jealousy and to reinforce a basic moral code about goodness and love and family – and also to not trust strangers or go wandering through the woods. Purely universal childhood themes that still resonate centuries after the original stories were devised. Classic old fairy tales were shockingly dark, so the basic idea behind the darkening and deepening concept of this film might’ve worked  - except we’re talking specifically about Disney characters. And we’re not sure adding paper-thin rape metaphors is something that needed to be done to the Disney version of Sleeping Beauty.

Read the rest of that at the link…love TLo!

Can you believe it is 70 years? Operation Mincemeat: One of the biggest hoaxes in history | Stephen Liddell

With the 70th Anniversary of D-Day around the corner I thought that I might write a short series of posts about this historic event.  The first of which might be one which you’re unfamiliar with but in its own way was one of the key points of WW2.

After a long series of battles in North Africa had seen the Italians defeated and Monty’s Desert Rats routed Rommel’s dreaded Afrika Corps at El Alamein which set the scene for the Axis retreat from North Africa all together.

More history:

‘Sadly and with a Bitter Heart’: What the Caesarean Section Meant in the Middle Ages

Caesarean Section

 

One sunny spring day, a Resurrectionist priest sips tea and speaks of his time as a Bolivian missionary in the 1960s and ’70s. His recollection of the local ‘Indians’ is obscured by more than three decades’ distance. China cup in hand, he recalls vaguely their mud huts, flocks of sheep, herds of llamas, and the beautiful, rugged terrain of the altiplano. With greater precision, he speaks about the local belief system, especially attitudes towards stillbirths. This left a strong impression upon him. The priest emphasizes how deeply fearful the locals were of stillborn babies, and he flavours his recollections with two sad anecdotes. One day, he says, some villagers brought him a small blue corpse. The baby’s father insisted that the missionary baptize it. Since this was canonically impossible, the priest performed an impromptu blessing. It effectively banished the evil spirit conjured by the unfortunate birth. Satisfied with the blessing, the villagers relaxed and returned to their normal lives. On another occasion, one of the priest’s confrères was less delicate. A mother presented him with her dead baby, pleading for a postmortem baptism. At last the cleric told her, “The Church will only permit me to baptize your child if it draws milk from your breast.” Since this was impossible, the mother went away frustrated and ill at ease, having been unsuccessful in her bid to exorcise the unlucky spirit.

Click here to read this article from Florilegium

Also from Medieval.net: Richard III had severe scoliosis but was not a hunchback, researchers find

 Scientists and researchers have completed their study on the spinal column of Richard III, revealing that his scoliosis caused these bones to curve to the right, a well as a degree of twisting, resulting in a “spiral” shape. However, he would not have been hunchbacked as he was depicted by later writers.

Richard III spine - Spinal Curvature - Credit- University of Leicester

This research has been published this week in the journal The Lancet. It was carried out by experts from the University of Leicester, University of Cambridge, Loughborough University and University Hospitals of Leicester

The kind of scoliosis Richard suffered from a form of adolescent onset idiopathic scoliosis, which would have not started until he had almost finished growing. By the time he was an adult, Richard’s right shoulder would have been higher than his left, and his torso would have been relatively short compared to his arms and legs. The scoliosis also caused him to be several inches shorter than his normal height, which would have been about 5 feet 8 inches tall otherwise. This matches a contemporary description of Richard, by the chronicler John Rous who described the king as “small of stature, with a short face and unequal shoulders, the right higher and the left lower.”

Science up: This New “Super-Hydrophobic” Material Is So Waterproof That Water Bounces Off It Like A Ball | Geekosystem

Foodie stuff: Yogurts With More Sugar Than A Twinkie

Since I am dealing with my kids a lot in this post, and since they are named after Jake Barnes and Lady Brett Ashley in Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises: 10 Incredible Facts About Ernest Hemingway – Listverse

And since Hemingway was a “cat person” we have this next link: Study Shows the Personality Differences Between Cat and Dog Lovers | Geekosystem

New research presented this month at the annual Association for Psychological Science shows the contrasting personality traits associated with cat and dog owners–or in other words, people who would rather scoop a creature’s poop up from the street vs. those who prefer it buried under litter.

Denise Guastello of Carroll University conducted the study using a group of 600 college students. Participants were asked whether they were cat or dog lovers, what attribute they most admired in their pets, and then given a series of questions as part of a personality assessment. 60% of those polled claimed to be dog lovers, 11% copped to a cat fancy, and 29% said they had no preference, i.e., they were scared their cat would find out if they answered truthfully.

Based off trends found in the personality assessments, “dog people” were shown to typically be outgoing and rule-abiding, whereas cat fans appeared introverted, open minded, sensitive , innovative, and more intelligent than dog devotees. But pet owners shouldn’t take the study’s findings too seriously–the research was obviously conducted on a specific segment of the population, so it’s impossible to say how allegiance to one kind of animal over another might manifest in the personality traits of different age groups or demographics.

Guastello suggests the trends in personality associated with cat or dog owners might be related to the kind of care the animal requires:

It makes sense that a dog person is going to be more lively, because they’re going to want to be out there, outside, talking to people, bringing their dog [...] Whereas, if you’re more introverted, and sensitive, maybe you’re more at home reading a book, and your cat doesn’t need to go outside for a walk.

Maybe… or maybe cat owners are just too weakened by allergies to do anything but lie on the couch and hope the neighbor’s dog won’t smell their fear.

And one last fun link, the source for this morning’s title: Depressed Goat Is Reunited With His Burro Best Friend

Mr. G, a goat, and Jellybean, a burro, were both rescued from the squalor of a hoarder’s home earlier this year and were, for the first time in their lives, separated to live in different animal sanctuaries. The separation left Mr. G depressed and he didn’t move or eat for six days. Until he was reunited with his best friend.

After Mr. G and Jellybean were rescued, each was taken in by different animal sanctuaries 14 hours apart. Mr G. became depressed in his new home without his lifelong friend, refusing to leave his stall or eat.

That’s when the staff of Animal Place in Grass Valley, Ca. decided that the two needed to be together again. They arranged to have Jellybean transported and from the moment Mr. G heard his burro buddy being unloaded, he immediately perked up.

Watch that video and have a wonderful lovely day!


Wednesday Reads: Of Saints and Bastards

ddd66aca71973596df57574f0881d534Good Morning

Can you feel it? A Minkoff rant coming to ya? Yeah, it is…so just roll with it, you may find this post all over the place.  But then y’all know how I get when this happens so, I will just get on with it.

First off, this shit with the Supreme Court and public prayer at town meetings. You know…what the fuck happened to a moment of silence? Do they still do that? I mean if you are going to take time out to pray a little, do it to yourself on the quiet…if you want to…because this shit SCOTUS just ruled on gives the Christian right to fuck over anyone who isn’t born again. By that I mean you too Catholics! Which is something I think those who do vote “Republican” and are Catholic seem to fail to grasp.

8ac55ef11b2cc7c8c1b9540fea3aee5dYou see them, especially here in small towns like Banjoville. They are high and mighty evil bastards who feel above you and actually discriminate against those who are not “born again.” That means those of the Catholic, Anglican/Episcopal faith…Jews, Buddhist, Muslims, oh you all know what I am talking about.

They will say the most horrible things to kids too…shit that is beyond fucked up! And…they teach their children to behave just like them. It is an endless cycle of disgusting behavior in the name of Jesus. (Excuse me…Geeezus.)

eb11a16fe7a5384b4e86a0bf7fc7b397All this shit about prayer in schools, is not for any other prayer but theirs.

It is only their religious freedom they are concerned with.

It is only their “God” or “Gawd” they consider real and therefore legitimate.

So many conservatives who are not in line with the “christian” way of believing do not get this…they don’t realize that these assholes are not really speaking for them. They vote for these bastards because they only see them as the politician who spouts on about praying in school, and other conservative value shit…but they don’t see the big picture behind it.

a32871be6d96eeced3ed0e75ed850df9And why am I picking on these Jesus freaks? Because these are also the people who are the hypocritical bastards, and act the least charitable. They are hateful motherfuckers and prejudice and judgmental too. They say horrible things with an air of snotty intolerant Baptist superiority. (This is from my experience here in the Southern bible belt.) Both men and women are misogynistic as hell, the women are not supportive of other women within their circle and the girls are awful to other girls who are, “not one of them.”  They take any reason and twist it, manipulate it into a reason for Geezus. It is unbelievable the way they can justify their behavior…I don’t know how they can do it and consider themselves “good Christians.”

This is the backbone of the GOP, the conservatives who are changing the laws in this nation bit by bit. The assholes that are cutting out all social programs and any hope for a future in areas of science and discovery. I can honestly say these people are ruining this country. Maybe that is taking it too far, I don’t know. But what the fuck is wrong with these people?

e2d8e675cee866b319ff8ab454586944I am afraid, really I am.

I see what a small town mentality is like and I see it is taking over our Supreme Court. It has taken over our House of Representatives and it damn well can take over the Senate.

Gawd help us…what the hell are we going to do?

Here then are the links for today, there are a lot of them so some are in link dump fashion.

First a group of stories illustrating some of the talking points above.

Rep. Paul Ryan targest Poor as his “Signature Issue”, and I do Mean Targets (Cartoon) | Informed Comment

jamiol_ryan

House Bill Cuts Transit, Housing Assistence | BobCesca.com | News and Politics Blog and Podcast | We Cover the World

12e7e1c43296ee7d6181fd1d740d8415House Republicans have unveiled their version of the transportation, housing and urban development (THUD) appropriations bill and, not surprisingly, it cuts funding by nearly $2 billion.

The bill cuts TIGER grants, a favorite of many lawmakers, by $500 million to a total of $100 million. It does not allow funds for bike and pedestrian paths.

The FAA is funded at $7.3 million below the fiscal year 2014 enacted level and the Federal Railroad Administration is funded at $1.4 billion, a reduction of $193 million. There is no funding for high speed rail, an Obama priority.

To cut costs, Amtrak would be required to put overtime limits on employees and not use federal funding for routes where Amtrak offers a discount of 50 percent or more peak fares.

All together, the House bill would set spending at a level nearly $8 billion less than what President Obama requested for the next fiscal year.

Opposition to the president’s request isn’t earth shattering news, but House Republicans going out their way to eliminating funding for bike paths and railway while instituting overtime limits for Amtrak employees is certainly illuminating.

Republicans have a big problem with pedestrian-friendly urban and mass transportation. You know, hallmarks of socialism; liberal stuff.

3f20c6490c97520e66e8717d740763e0The Next Frontier In The War Over Science

The Obama administration and the scientific community at large are expressing serious alarm at a House Republican bill that they argue would dramatically undermine way research is conducted in America.

Titled the “Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science, and Technology (FIRST) Act of 2014,” the bill would put a variety of new restrictions on how funds are doled out by the National Science Foundation. The goal, per its Republican supporters on the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, would be to weed out projects whose cost can’t be justified or whose sociological purpose is not apparent.

For Democrats and advocates, however, the FIRST Act represents a dangerous injection of politics into science and a direct assault on the much-cherished peer-review process by which grants are awarded.

“We have a system of peer-review science that has served as a model for not only research in this country but in others,” said Bill Andresen, the associate vice president of Federal Affairs at the University of Pennsylvania. “The question is, does Congress really think it has the better ability to determine the scientific merit of grant applications or should it be left up to the scientists and their peers?”

f2aa4c688c823841910abdcc9598cb8dIn recent weeks, the Obama administration and science agencies have — in less-than-subtle terms — offered up similar criticisms of the FIRST Act. At an American Association for the Advancement of Science forum on Thursday, presidential science adviser John Holdren said he was “concerned with a number of aspects” of the bill.

“It appears aimed at narrowing the focus of NSF-funded research to domains that are applied to various national interests other than simply advancing the progress of science,” Holdren said.

Meanwhile, in a show of protest that several officials in the science advocacy community could not recall having witnessed before, the National Science Board released a statement in late April criticizing the bill. As the oversight body to the National Science Foundation, the NSB traditionally stays out of legislative fights. So when it warned that the FIRST Act could “significantly impede NSF’s flexibility to deploy its funds to support the best ideas,” advocates said they were surprised and pleased.

020a840156d10a50de9992d936837a44“The fact that the NSB commented on legislation, I don’t know if it is unprecedented but it is at least extremely unusual,” said Barry Toiv, a top official at the Association of American Universities. “And we think that speaks to the really serious problems posed by the legislation.”

Susie Madrak » Blog Archive » See how that works?

Despite all the pissing and money about the district wasting money on outrageous teacher salaries and pensions, seems the real problem is the Santa Claus provision our Republican-dominated legislature ticked away into state law. This is, of course, contrary to the right-wing wisdom shared on our local newspaper site, but oh well! Nobody cares about schools, anyway:

4f3c895075c53c60acaad56051b652d4Unless the Philadelphia School District raises more than $200 million extra in a hurry, Moody’s Investors Service warned it will cut the district’s bond rating — which is already down at Ba2, junk status, forcing the district to pay extra when it borrows money — because the district’s proposed $2.5 billion budget for the next fiscal year will “materially imperil its ability to provide students with an adequate education.”

Without $216 million in additional funding, Moody’s analyst Dan Seymour wrote in a report to clients, the district threatens to increase the average class size to 41 students and lay off more than 1,000 staff. ” This is credit negative because a further deterioration in education services will likely result in additional student flight to charter schools and other alternatives,” further reducing district revenues, Seymour added. 3 in 10 Philadelphia students already go to charter schools.

a6f650feced450bed9e37fa50896f502“Rising charter school enrollments have been a drag on the district’s finances, as state law mandates that public school districts pay the costs of sending students to charter schools. Driven largely by charter school tuition costs, the district’s costs per pupil have increased 70% since 2004. Further enrollment declines would exacerbate the district’s financial pressure as charter schools capture a larger share of the district’s expenditures,” Moody’s adds.

Conservatives Have Free Reign In Kansas. It’s Failing. | The Daily Banter

In Kansas, Republicans dominate the state government. They have the Governorship (Former Senator Sam Brownback), the State House (92-33 for the GOP), and the State Senate (32-8 for the GOP). Democrats don’t have a say in this blood red state that went 60%-37% for Mitt Romney in 2012.

Brownback and his buddies have enacted all manner of conservative economic policy in the state. Cutting taxes, etcetera. What is the result? Guess.

Citing a sluggish recovery from the recession, risk inherent in the governor’s tax plan and uncertainty over the Legislature’s ability to keep cutting spending, one of the nation’s two major debt rating agencies downgraded Kansas’ credit rating Thursday.

Moody’s Investors Service dropped Kansas from its second-highest bond rating, Aa1, to its third highest, Aa2. The Kansas Department of Transportation also took the same downgrade.

f6964ca89bbb0e9540a1331bb4cc1a61As Businesweekexplained, “the immediate effect has been to blow a hole in the state’s finances without noticeable economic growth.”

Even with the cut in taxes, big companies like Applebee’s and Boeing have moved out of Kansas.

As a result, the most recent polling there shows Brownback’s approval rating down to 33%, while he’s slightly behind the Democratic challenger.

In Kansas, they can’t (honestly) blame liberals for this. They’ve been given a free hand. They were able to enact whatever they wanted, and it has been a miserable failure at a time when other states – including very blue Democratic states like here in Maryland – have been recovering from the Bush recession.

Why?

Because conservative economics doesn’t actually work. It is a faith based program untethered from reality. The numbers don’t add up and it is destructive to societies.

90d80323549f4203fba1e32825e491c9Charlie Crist Says He Became A Democrat Because Of GOP Racism

It was partly for that reason that Crist, the former Republican governor of Florida who’s now trying to reclaim his old job as a Democrat, broke with his former party.

“I couldn’t be consistent with myself and my core beliefs, and stay with a party that was so unfriendly toward the African-American president, I’ll just go there,” Crist told Fusion’s Jorge Ramos. “I was a Republican and I saw the activists and what they were doing, it was intolerable to me.”

[...]

Crist was savaged on the right when, as governor in 2009, he hugged Obama. He said earlier this year that racism motivated the outrage over the embrace.

1a2968938471c1f5fb9ce8980f223146“I think another part of it was that he was a Democrat, but not just a Democrat, an African-American,” Crist, who’s challenging Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R), said during an appearance on “The Colbert Report.”

Just 7 percent of journalists are Republicans. That’s far fewer than even a decade ago.

A majority of American journalists identify themselves as political independents although among those who choose a side Democrats outnumber Republicans four to one, according to a new study of the media conducted by two Indiana University professors.

Write Lars Wilnat and David Weaver, professors of journalism at Indiana, of their findings:

Compared with 2002, the percentage of full-time U.S. journalists who claim to be Democrats has dropped 8 percentage points in 2013 to about 28 percent, moving this figure closer to the overall population percentage of 30 percent, according to a December 12-15, 2013, ABC News/Washington Post national poll of 1,005 adults. This is the lowest percentage of journalists saying they are Democrats since 1971. An even larger drop was observed among journalists who said they were Republicans in 2013 (7.1 percent) than in 2002 (18 percent), but the 2013 figure is still notably lower than the percentage of U.S. adults who identified with the Republican Party (24 percent according to the poll mentioned above).

Image courtesy of The American Journalist in the Digital Age

That link about the journalist is more for information purposes. Read what else Cillizza thinks too at that link.

 

8c2a3f14e9851505e3f1992043567145Los Angeles now spending more on Wall Street fees than on maintaining roads | PandoDaily

Los Angeles councilman Paul Koretz has called for banks NY Mellon and Dexia to return $65 million in “unfair profits and termination payments” they received between 2008 and 2014. This follows a report (embedded below) revealing that the city spent more than $200 million in fees to Wall Street in 2013 alone.  Koretz says he may push the city to take punitive action against the financial institutions involved if they do not renegotiate the deal.

a63f17097d9b76b0c8b35d6fe18f5a72The report, published by the union-backed Fix LA Coalition, notes that “the City of Los Angeles last year spent more on Wall Street fees than it did on our streets.” Indeed, the report notes the city “paid Wall Street $204 million in fees, spending only $163 million on the Bureau of Street Services.”

The fees are connected to the controversial interest-rate-swap deal cemented by Los Angeles in 2006. It is a deal similar to those engineered by Wall Street in cities across the country. Those deals have made headlines in recent years in some of the country’s most high-profile municipal budget crises.

For instance, a recent study by former Goldman Sachs investment banker Wallace Turbeville found that an interest-rate swap deal was a primary driver of Detroit’s fiscal crisis. Noting that the banks used the city’s bankruptcy to demand “upwards of $250-350 million in swap termination payments,” Turbeville concluded that “a strong case can be made that the banks that sold these swaps may have breached their ethical, and possibly legal, obligations to the city in executing these deals.” (A court recently reduced the amount the city has to pay Wall Street to unwind the deals).

 

28e2e3ff15881c293a7bd3a3c9b36dcdBorder Patrol rarely punishes agents accused of abuse, study shows | Courts & Crime | McClatchy DC

A new report by an immigration watchdog finds that the United States’ largest federal law enforcement agency rarely punishes its agents for their mistreatment of immigrants and American citizens.

The report by the American Immigration Council found that 97 percent of abuse complaints lodged against Border Patrol agents and Customs and Border Protection officers resulted in no disciplinary action once an investigation had been completed. Those included a complaint from a pregnant woman in El Paso, Texas, that she had miscarried after a Border Patrol agent kicked her in the stomach, and several complaints from women that they had been forced to bare their breasts while in custody.

The survey also found that many complaints against U.S. border agents take years to resolve. The council reviewed 809 complaints filed in the three years from January 2009 to January 2012. But of those, only 485 had been investigated and resolved. The remainder are still under investigation, including a nearly 5-year-old allegation of forced sexual intercourse lodged July 30, 2009, against a Border Patrol agent in El Centro, Calif.

a53e10fafb6c21876f0987f47a562693Among the cases that were still “pending investigation, the average number of days between the date the complaint was filed and the last record date provided in the data set was 389 days,” the report said.

“This absolutely confirms the experiences of our border families and communities,” said Vicki Gaubeca, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Regional Center for Border Rights in New Mexico. “U.S. Customs and Border Protection is now the largest law enforcement agency in the nation, and yet this massive buildup of border enforcement resources has not been matched with adequate accountability and oversight.”

And about that SCOTUS decision:

64379ac1050440ca30257e0e75359f39With the Supreme Court’s Help, Religion Creeps Toward the State – Garrett Epps – The Atlantic

The 5-4 decision in Town of Greece v. Galloway shows how far the ground has shifted under the Establishment Clause in the last 30 years.

Supreme Court: Tear Down This Wall!

Yesterday’s ruling in Greece v. Galloway is an affront to religious equality, but it also reflects the poisoned fruit of a bad precedent.

Symposium: Town of Greece v. Galloway going forward : SCOTUSblog

Symposium: Dismantling the wall that should separate church and state : SCOTUSblog

Symposium: Thoughts on Town of Greece – if the kilt fits : SCOTUSblog

In fact for SCOTUSblog coverage look here: Town of Greece v. Galloway : SCOTUSblog

1393a34602c9fa0037e721e27659418bWith all this shit that happened yesterday, and the recent other shit like the repeal of some key parts of the Civil Rights Act, this next article should come as a surprise: Supreme Court popularity rebounds, survey says | Suits & Sentences | McClatchy DC

 

The Supreme Court’s popularity has rebounded, with more than half of U.S. residents surveyed now voicing a favorable view of the justices, a new survey finds.

The Pew Research Center survey, conducted last month among 1,501 adults, found that 56 percent have a favorable view of the court, while 35 percent had an unfavorable view. Last July, only 48 percent held a favorable view of the court. That rating was among the lowest ever recorded by the court, though still well above the abysmal poll numbers earned by Congress.

Intriguingly, 63 percent of Democrats have a favorable view of the court led by conservative Chief Justice John Roberts, Jr., compared to 54 percent of Republicans.

 

Take a deep breath…I know I have to. More after the jump.

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Thursday Reads: Freedom Fried Edition

Good Morning!

graffiti_art_graphics3BB is having internet problems this morning so I’m going to try to get this quick post off this morning!

I’ve really come to believe that the Republican Party is basically the victim of the success of the Southern Strategy. The coupling of neoconfederates and religious fanatics with big business interests seems to be coming full circle.  A new poll seems to broadly indicates this as we continue to see the educated, women, minorities, the young, and most states out of the deep south turn away from Republicans. But you know, it’s all about white,straight, christian male freedom, so every one else can just go sit at the back of the bus or be thrown under the bus.

While white Southerners have been voting Republican for decades, the hugeness of the gap was new. Mr. Obama often lost more than 40 percent of Al Gore’s support among white voters south of the historically significant line of the Missouri Compromise. Two centuries later, Southern politics are deeply polarized along racial lines. It is no exaggeration to suggest that in these states the Democrats have become the party of African Americans and that the Republicans are the party of whites.

The collapse in Democratic support among white Southerners has been obscured by the rise of the Obama coalition. Higher black turnout allowed the Democrats to win nearly 44 percent of the vote in states like Mississippi, where 37 percent of voters were black. But the white shift is nearly as important to contemporary electoral politics as the Obama coalition. It represents an end, at least temporarily, to the South’s assimilation into the American political and cultural mainstream.

There are many reasons for this, but the role of right wing media is undoubtedly important.  Fox eagerly jumps on the story of “beleaguered white man”04_Graffiti_Art only to find their new hero is a secessionist, a misogynist, a homophobe, almost violently anti-modernity and law, and terribly racist.  JJ had a great post yesterday about Clive Bundy.  Well, here’s the latest interview with the old coot who thinks black folks were better off as literal slaves than they are today.  

Republican politicians began backtracking on their support of Nevada anti-government rancher Cliven Bundy after the New York Times caught Bundy making racially-inflammatory remarks blaming African-Americans for willingly submiting to dependency on federal assistance.

“They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton,” Bundy was quoted as saying to a group of supporters last Saturday. “And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.”

Bundy’s statements about “the Negro,” published on Wednesday, were made during his daily speech to supporters outside Bunkerville, Nevada, where a crowd gathered to support him in defiance of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) during an attempted round up of his cattle. The confrontation was the result of Bundy’s refusal to pay grazing fees on federally-owned land for more than 20 years, in spite of multiple court rulings against him. Bundy has stated on several occasions that he does not recognize the existence of the federal government.

 During the speech, Bundy said he remembered driving past a public-housing project in North Las Vegas, which he called a “government house” with “always at least a half a dozen people sitting on the porch” with nothing to do.

These dudes clearly hate and misunderstand women too.  And, it’s not just southern white men.

A New Hampshire lawmaker found himself being heckled by his colleagues on Wednesday during a state House speech, which asserted that women lacked the work ethic of men so they should be paid less.

During a floor debate on Wednesday, state Rep. Will Infantine (R) argued that the “Paycheck Equity Act” was not necessary to prevent wage discrimination based on gender because women deserved to make less.

“Men, by and large, make more because some of the things that they do,” he opined. “Their jobs are, by and large, riskier. They don’t mind working nights and weekends. They don’t mind working overtime or outdoors.”

 At that point in the video clip uploaded by Granite State Progress, other lawmakers began to loudly object to Infantine’s remarks.

“It’s not me!” he exclaimed, insisting that his facts came from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“Men work five or six hours longer a week than women do,” he continued. “When it comes to women and men who own businesses… women make half of what men do because of flexibility of work, men are more motivated by money than women are.”

African Tribal Graffiti Street Art Beautiful woman DesignThe poster boy for TV Ugly is Erick Erickson.  He’s the Rush Limbaugh of the internet and FOX and here’s what he’s saying about Hillary.

Red State and Fox News’ Erik Erickson makes believe he’s a big time Christian conservative politico, but when he opens his mouth about the left, he almost always sounds like nasty degenerate. I guess he is a Christian conservative active in politics after all.

Here he is on Rush Limbaugh’s airwaves, discussing the upcoming election and Charlie Cook’s analysis when he went into his goatf*&king child molester routine on Hillary.

Erickson…it’s very, very hard for incumbent parties to win three in a row no matter how it goes. Look at Bill Clinton going into 2000. I could be wrong. All my Democratic friends are salivating, yea, I have a couple of them.

They’re all salivating at the idea of Hillary Clinton running in 2016. She’s gonna be old. I don’t know how far back they can pull her face, can I say that on the air? I don’t know…There’s gonna be an age factor there and does she wanna go out and be like John McCain in 2008, the Democrats were playing up the old card

Oh, my God. This is what qualifies as top notch Conservative policy analysis. This is what Hillary has to look forward to when she runs for 2016. It’s not about her policy ideas or issues, but her face, her age, her clothes, her smell, her bitchiness, her sexual preferences, her ____ (Fill in the blank)

It’s really difficult for me to understand how these men can live with all this anger, rage, and pent up hatred.  What’s worse is that they all seem to come equipped with guns. It also is beyond me how these guys can be so completely duped into supporting the very people that are picking their pockets daily.  Here’s a great interview with Michael Lewis on the nature of our Wall Street billionaire problem.

IC: How much has Wall Street behavior sparked the inequality conversation that is going on now?

ML: They are very connected. If you go back and look at the boom in CEO pay, it is tied directly to Wall Street compensation. Social norms changed. And they changed first on Wall Street. This bothers me a lot. What do I want to tell people coming out of school? I want to tell them about noblesse oblige, which has just died. There is an absence at the top of the culture.

IC: Have you read the new Thomas Piketty book?

ML: I just downloaded it because it’s impossible to get copies of the hardcover any more. It is sold out.

IC: I had the same experience. You would have more luck getting The Satanic Verses in Iran. The reason I ask is because Piketty and others talk less about noblesse oblige than things such as higher tax rates. The government has to step in.

ML: I feel such despair at how the government responded to the financial crisis. It did a lot of good things to prevent a depression. But the Wall Street firms ended up even more of a problem. They got bigger. I thought they should be broken up in one way or another.

IC: So you think they are worse now?

ML: Probably not worse in the sense that they are probably more afraid to do bad things. More skittish. But as a market problem they are worse because they are bigger. The effect of a lot of the regulation has made it harder on would-be-competitors who could challenge them. And Dodd-Frank throws decisions to the regulators, and then that discussion ends up being run by banks. I just hate it. I have given up on the government. I wrote this book because I feel like these guys in my book have figured out a market version of Occupy Wall Street. This may be the way we have to deal with this. People ask me what the SEC should do. Well, there are things I’d like them to do, but for now they may ned to just get the hell out of the way. Maybe they can force some transparency. People at the SEC have said that they are counting on these market solutions.

IC: What are your thoughts about the culture on Wall Street? I don’t know if you saw Wolf of Wall Street, but it seemed to me that the movie was arguing that the culture there inspires bad behavior.

ML: I did see it. I know too many people there and love too many people there so I have mixed feelings about this. They are not all bad people. The problem is that the incentive system is really screwed up and that screws up the behavior.

great-graffiti-art-20Meanwhile, SCOTUS is still working very hard to make sure that our political system is rigged.

There’s a first amendment case going in front of the Supreme Court right now that’s very, very dangerous. Why? Because it might allow religious opinion to become legal fact, corrupting the intent of our constitutional rights, if not the specific wording. As you’re probably well aware, the decisions handed down by SCOTUS as of late have shown remarkable intention to broadly change United States law to fit a conservative, activist agenda, that of the five right-wing justices (seen below). The Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List), an anti-choice and anti-family planning group, is suing because they believe they have a right to publicly advertise lies if they have sufficient reason to hold the advertised opinion. Paradoxical, yes, but if you’re familiar with American culture, you’ll completely understand. Cognitive dissonance and bold denial in the face of proof are defining characteristics.

So, let’s be very clear again that the Republican “Freedom” agenda seems to be very clearly aimed at a few people.

Any way, that’s it for me this morning!  Let me know what’s on your reading and blogging list while I brew up some coffee!


Monday Reads

Good Morning!

Bjy32YbCYAAE11RI’m going to remind you today of some events that happened 4 years ago with the BP Oil Gusher and show you that bad things are still going on in the Gulf.The leftover issues from abandoned oil rigs are bigger than Louisiana.Please consider this an open thread while I let you know how I feel.

If corporations are people, then BP and others in the extraction business are serial killers.    All over our country and throughout our history, extraction companies have killed their employees, the people that live around their businesses, and the wildlife and the environment and water systems that sustain the life of our country.  Look at that map.  Those are active and orphaned/abandoned oil wells/pipelines that are disintegrating, leaking, and killing someone.

“I started noticing, towards the end of 2010, other leaks that were unrelated to the BP disaster,” Henderson says. “I would find wellheads that were leaking or platforms that were leaking. Just in the last year, I have filed 50 reports for different leaks and spills unrelated to the BP disaster.”

Under the Clean Water Act, when a company spills any amount of oil in the water, it must file a report with the National Response Center run by the Coast Guard. But when Henderson checked, he found many of those smaller spills were not making that list.

So environmental groups formed the Gulf Monitoring Consortium to get a better count on spills. The partnership is a blend groups of complementary skills.

Gulf Restoration Network, for example, has personnel who can spot spills from the air and file complete reports.

SouthWings, a group of volunteer pilots, helps get those spotters aloft.

Louisiana relies largely on the oil industry to self-report leaks and spills. The Gulf Monitoring Consortium was formed to improve that effort and said it often finds smaller leaks like this one, near Golden Meadow, that go unreported by the companies.

A third member, the West Virginia-based tech group SkyTruth, finds the spills on satellite photographs, then applies a formula used by spill experts to translate the size of the oil sheen into gallons of oil in the water.

SkyTruth spokesman David Manthos says its estimates typically are much higher than what’s been reported.

“We found that the spill was usually 10 times larger than had been reported, and that was averaged out across a lot,” he says. “In some, the mismatch was much larger than that.”

The sheer size of the industry here means there’s seldom a quiet day for the consortium. In an average year, the NRC receives 10,000 reports of spills in the Gulf.

It’s a number that surprised even SouthWings Gulf Program Director Meredith Dowling, a veteran of monitoring efforts.

“I can’t think of a single instance where our volunteers have flown offshore and not found spills,” Dowling says. “This was something that was really amazing to me when I first moved here … that is was a continuous, absolute failure of business-as-usual practices.”

There are many active spills around here.  Many come from orphaned and abandoned wells.  Many come from active wells.  They are all spewing toxicil_570xN.378041774_q0qdwaste and it’s not just in Louisiana.  Here is a program in Pennsylvania dedicated to plugging orphaned and abandoned wells.  There are similar issues in Texas, New York State, and just nearly anywhere there’s been activity.  Louisiana alone has about 6000.   You can see that they are nearly everywhere if you look at the map at the top of the post.  Many of these  wells were first put into play in the 1850s and were just left where they were.  They are rotting, they are decaying, and they are leaking.  They are also dangerous. 

Methane is an odorless, colorless gas that exists naturally below the surface. It isn’t poisonous, but it’s dangerous. When enough methane gathers in an enclosed space — a basement or a water well, for instance — it can trigger an explosion.

The gas didn’t come from the Butters well, nor did it originate from the Marcellus Shale formation that a nearby Shell well had recently tapped into. What most likely happened to cause the geyser in June, Shell and state regulators say, was something of a chain reaction.  As Shell was drilling and then hydraulically fracturing its nearby well, the activity displaced shallow pockets of natural gas — possibly some of the same pockets the Morris Run Coal company ran into  in 1932. The gas disturbed by Shell’s drilling moved underground until it found its way to the Butters well, and then shot up to the surface.

Areas impacted by oil spills are never the same. The BP Oil Gusher has introduced issues into the ecosystem that have left endangered species teetering further towards extinction.  In the case of Louisiana, it’s even the state bird.

On a bright spring morning, P.J. Hahn is walking through a graveyard in the middle of Barataria Bay.

It’s a 30-yard patch of mud and sand bristling with bare, dead mangrove brush surrounded by miles of open water. Each mangrove is a tombstone marking the death of a nesting site used for decades by brown pelicans and roseate spoonbills on what was once the string of wetland pearls that made up the Cat Islands chain.

But in 2010 the oil spewing from BP’s Deepwater Horizon would send them all to an early grave.

“Four years ago we had more than five acres of habitat and there were tens of thousands of birds nesting on these islands,” said Hahn, director of coastal zone management for Plaquemines Parish. “Then the oil came in and coated the mangrove roots, and two years later the islands started going.

“I don’t know where those birds are nesting now – but they can’t do it here any more.”

The post-BP story of the brown pelican, Louisiana’s official bird, is the perfect metaphor for the crisis confronting the state’s coast.

Before the Deepwater Horizon blew out on April 20, 2010, brown pelicans were living the good life in southeast Louisiana as one of the great wildlife comeback stories. In 1963 not a single brown pelican could be found in the state due to impacts from the insectiside DDT.  The comeback started in 1968 when the state began transplanting birds from Florida, and populations began to soar after DDT was banned in 1972. Thanks to the abundant food in one of the world’s most productive fisheries, by 2010 their numbers were thought to be near historic levels, as high of 85,000.*

il_570xN.369622702_4p2jFour years later, the sea floor closest to the spill and even the shores in the Gulf of Mexico are  comparable to an Arizona Desert. It is barren, bleak and dead.  There was life there.  Now, there is the look of a forest fire without the resultant new growth.  Nothing will grow back amid the poison of Corexit and Oil.

When a crew of journalists and environmental groups studying the effects of the BP Deepwater Macondo oil spill disembarked on Cat Island in Baratria Bay last week, there was a collective gasp.

“It looks like the Arizona desert,” said Eileen Fleming, who’s reported for WWNO spring after spring since the April 20, 2010 spill.

“It looks like there was a fire here,” said Doug Meffert, vice president of the National Audubon Society and president of the Louisiana chapter, “but there wasn’t a fire.”

The bones of black mangrove stumps are all that remain of what was a thriving bird rookery here in Plaquemines Parish Four years ago, footage of oiled brown pelicans and the thousands of shorebirds nesting here went around the world in the aftermath of the 200 million gallons of thick crude that spilled into the Gulf of Mexico.

Today the only green thing on the beach is a glass bottle. There are no pelicans, no mangroves, and worse, much of Cat Island itself is washing away. It and most of the barrier islands and marsh in Barataria Bay are steadily degrading, losing their battles with coastal erosion and subsidence faster than ever.

The NIH is still studying some of the direct health impacts of both the oil and the toxic Corexit used to hide the extent of the spill.

Areas around Barataria Bay and Grand Isle, La. were particularly hard hit, but they weren’t the only affected areas. Moreover, thousands of birds, other wildlife and marine life including dolphins perished, were oiled, sickened and overall left in distress. The effects on the area resonate now, which is only a shock to those either unfamiliar with garish oil spills or unwilling to accept the truth.

In the days following the “spill”, BP, apparently colluding with the US Government, doused a horrific amount of a deadly dispersant in the affected areas. Called “Corexit”, the cutesy name belies the sickening effects it brings to all it touches. On background, an environmentalist working in the area explained to me last year that they were, essentially, damned if they did, and damned if they didn’t, but chose the lesser of two ills.

That remains to be seen as the National Institutes of Health continues its 10-year “GuLF” study of BP spill health effects, from those most affected out on the Vessels of Opportunity boat that included BP-hired personnel trying to contain the spill, to residents in the line of fire, such as around Barataria Bay.

There is a way of life dying along the southern parts of the Gulf Coast in Louisana.  The coastline disappears daily, the salt water intrudes in to the fresh il_570xN.382956444_9et2water marshes, and the land doesn’t sustain the people or the animals like it once did.  There is not better place to study the impacts of the extraction business and human addiction to fossil fuels than many parts of Cajun Louisiana.

Sea level rise is like an ultra-slow-motion hurricane for low-lying areas, but unlike a hurricane, it can be forecast decades in advance. Projections that some town or road will be underwater in 100 years can—and must—be mitigated against today.

Osborn characterizes the choice as “being proactive rather than reactive. Once you get into situations like Louisiana facing some very serious challenges in a very near time frame, all of a sudden you’re in a reactive posture.” Louisiana is a harbinger of things to come for New York, Miami, and other major coastal cities that would do well to look 20 to 75 years ahead and budget accordingly. Local, state, and federal governments will have to make critical decisions about infrastructure, water and sediment diversion, and wetlands restoration in the next 10 to 15 years, he says, and while NOAA scientists can contribute data, they can’t green-light projects or secure funding.

Osborn makes a technical distinction: “Right now it’s what’s called frequently flooded. And the risk is it will be routinely flooded.” Routine flooding will start to happen as early as 10 years from now, he says. They can call it whatever they want, but Gill says soon LA 1 will be “flooded every day during high tide.”

NOAA scientists predict that eventually all the marsh that surrounds LA 1 and Port Fourchon will disappear, connecting two major bodies of water that now are distinct: Barataria Bay and Terrebonne Bay. The only thing out in the water at all, by 2100, may be a raised road and Port Fourchon. “I can imagine Port Fourchon being like the Florida Keys,” says Chiasson, “being on its own, in the middle of open water, maybe a little marsh around it, but nothing between here and there.”

The fact that the entire extraction business is so fraught with so many bad things is why the men that run it must find politicians to protect them from lawsuits and regulations.  Making these guys pay for what they’ve done would undoubtedly run their companies deeply into the red. Donation whores like Republican Governor Bobby Jindal will do anything to protect the benefactors that he hopes will fund him to the White House. There is nothing about Louisiana that this man is interested in except as a step on the rung of his personal ascent.

The state Senate targeted the flood protection authorities around New Orleans and the lawsuit one of the levee boards filed against the oil and gas industry for damages to the state’s wetlands.

In one bill, advanced by a Senate panel Wednesday morning, Gov. Bobby Jindal would get sweeping power to remove members of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authorities. Opponents said the move, which would allow a governor to remove authority members under certain conditions, reintroduces politics into the levee boards, which is precisely what revamp after the 2005 hurricanes was designed to prevent.

Another measure, which was passed by the full Senate late Tuesday night, would derail a lawsuit filed last year by the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority — East against 97 oil and gas companies. The levee board sought damages for contributing to coastal erosion and led to higher than anticipated storm surges.

Jindal opposes the lawsuit and has called it a windfall for lawyers, who would be paid with a portion of any winnings rather than a flat fee. Critics say the legislation would keep the oil and gas industry from taking responsibility for damage caused by drilling and productions activities over the years.

SB553 is aimed at a lawsuit filed by the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East. It would not impact similar suits filed by Jefferson and Plaquemines Parishes. But other measures currently being considered might.

The legislation passed Tuesday night, Senate Bill 553, would apply to retroactively. That measure was sent Wednesday morning to the Louisiana House.

Even kindergartners know they should clean up their messes.  That is ones that aren’t sociopaths.

But, wherever there has been the extraction business, there are the sociopaths.  We have the hundred year anniversary of just such an example.

Linda Linville climbed down the steep stone steps into the dugout on the southern Colorado prairie Sunday where one branch of her family was wiped out in one day 100 years ago.

Her great aunt, her unborn baby and two children died in a fire that broke out during a battle between coal miners striking against John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and the Colorado National Guard in what became known as the Ludlow Massacre. Twenty-seven-year-old Cedilena Costa, 4-year-old Lucy and 6-year-old Onofrio suffocated from the smoke as they hid below ground to escape the battle. Linville said Cedilena’s husband, Charlie Costa, was captured and shot in the head that day and never knew his family’s fate.

“Anyone who says they died in vain is wrong,” said Linville, a retired history teacher from Corona, Calif., referring to the fact that the miners eventually ended up going back to work without winning any of their demands.

The massacre and battle left 21 people dead, including the Greek-American union leader Louis Tikas, and set off 10 days of civil war in which the miners killed 30 mine guards, supervisors and strikebreakers. They surrendered only after President Woodrow Wilson sent federal troops to the state.

The deaths drew national attention to the long running strike and forced Rockefeller to take a public role in Colorado Fuel & Iron. He instituted a company union and grievance system, which the miners later rejected when the won a right to unionize on their own during the New Deal. The massacre and the deadly Triangle Shirtwaist fire in 1911 are credited with the helping win the eventual passage of the 1935 National Labor Relations Act.

Linville and over 100 others — including members of the United Mine Workers of America wearing the red bandanas the strikers wore — gathered at the site of the former Ludlow tent colony to mark the massacre’s 100th anniversary with a Greek Orthodox Easter service. It was very similar to the one the miners, who came from a variety of countries, shared in 100 years ago with the Greek strikers the day before the massacre. In a coincidental reminder of Ludlow’s international community, the Easter service will include the traditional reading of the Gospel story in many languages to symbolize the universality of its message.

It is easy to look back at the years of coal and oil and see that not much has really changed in terms of the business.  The only thing that’s changing is that people, nature, and animals don’t have a chance at all and the deathtoll and damage are obvious if you actually get to see it.  I have a small car.  I really don’t drive much at all.  I think in a busy week I may put on 15 miles.   I have a bike and nearly everything I need is about a mile away. I suppose, for me, that it’s nothing to say that I really don’t benefit from any of this.  I’d frankly rather pay for every single person to have some form of solar or wind generator in their home than the tax breaks we give to the oil industry.  I think it would save every one in the country a lot less grief in the short and long run.  But then, I could care less how much money the likes of the Koch Brothers earn.  I’d frankly rather be dancing on their graves.

I just wanted to add that I found some of  these wonderful skull art prints from this site. 

I know it doesn’t look like it, but this is an open thread.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Sunday Reads: Little Big Men

0ebdc95ad82b06d8bea49b4849e78134Good Morning

This post is going to have a theme, can you guess what that is?

Our first “little” big man story, or should I say stories, of the morning…updates on the man from New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie. The little being in quotes because this dude’s future role in the GOP used to be about as big as his “big and tall” non-wrinkle pleated-front dress slacks. Now he is being booed, yeah…you read that right…booed, and you know for a man like Christie, that has to sting like hell.

Gov. Chris Christie Booed Twice in One Week at Super Bowl Events | Mediaite

3729011e942d087aae0a96f0bd8f00dbFor the second time this week, Governor Chris Christie was met with scattered boos when he took the stage for an event leading up to Sunday’s Super Bowl XLVIII at New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium. The first incident occurred on Monday night, when Christie appeared alongside New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio in Jersey City.

As Al Sharpton, who aired video footage from the event on PoliticsNation Tuesday night said, “It was a dramatic contrast to what we saw three months ago” when he was reelected in a landslide.

No kidding, video at the link.

Well, a lot has happened since the first and second booing. That being the news that Christie knew what was going on with the bridge…as told by former BFF David Wildstein.John Gutmann, 1935

Okay, you know I am joking with the BFF thing right? The NY Times had the story here: Christie Linked to Knowledge of Shut Lanes

Read all the stuff there, I know Dak and Boston Boomer have covered it too.

Then we have the backlash from Christie himself.

Chris Christie attacks N.Y. Times, David Wildstein – Mike Allen and Maggie Haberman – POLITICO.com

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, after a low-key initial response to Friday’s explosive allegations about his involvement in a bridge-closing scandal, mounted an aggressive defense late Saturday afternoon, attacking The New York Times and a former political ally in an email to friends and allies obtained by POLITICO.

“Bottom line — David Wildstein will do and say anything to save David Wildstein,” the email from the governor’s office says, referring to the former appointee who reignited the controversy.

30461ca47ed89bcf41c64db627d7fb0dI think the best part of this move from Christie is the title of this email his office sent out:

The subject line of the 700-word email from the governor’s office is: “5 Things You Should Know About The Bombshell That’s Not A Bombshell.” It offers a harshly negative portrayal of Wildstein’s character and judgment.

Sounds like one of those quickie news articles from USA Today.

Read the rest at that link to Politico, I have another link about the email here from TPM, I just wanted to use this picture: Christie Hits Back: Bridge Official Will ‘Say Anything To Save’ Himself

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The full email is below.

Christie Email

This email goes back to an incident in Wildstein’s past…when he was a 16-year-old kid for Christ’s sake.

Geezus….go look at the full email, it is priceless.

Worse Than I Realized by Josh Marshall at TPM:

It speaks for itself that Wildstein is out to save himself. He is not sitting on a reputation for integrity and truth-telling. So the wisdom of doing anything more than saying Wildstein is trying to save himself and lacks credibility is highly questionable. The end product here reads like it’s coming from a team or a person who is flailing and grasping at straws.

If I’m a Republican power player reading this to a get a read on what’s actually happening, what’s likely to happen next week or next month, I think I come away thinking things are considerably worse than I realized.

18f25a5ddcf4c15866f1d40653b3b49fOne more Christie link: Chris Christie should resign if bombshell proves true: Editorial | NJ.com

Forget about the White House in 2016. The question now is whether Gov. Chris Christie can survive as governor.

David Wildstein, the man who ordered the George Washington Bridge lane closures, is now pointing the finger directly at Gov. Chris Christie, saying the governor knew about the lane closures in September when they occurred.

That directly contradicts Christie account at his Jan. 13 press conference when he made this statement: “I had no knowledge of this — of the planning, the execution or anything about it… I first found out about it after it was over.”

If this charge proves true, then the governor must resign or be impeached. Because
that would leave him so drained of credibility that he could not possibly govern effectively. He would owe it to the people of New Jersey to stop the bleeding and quit. And if he should refuse, then the Legislature should open impeachment hearings.

Well, moving on…to another New Jersey little “big” man…Danny DeVito.  Esquire Interview -The Serene Beauty of the Five-Foot Fury of Asbury Park Guy just needed a job, and instead he became Danny DeVito. And the word big is in quotes for Danny because the man is just fucking awesome and bigger than anything you can possibly imagine.

His parents sent him to board at a prep school in the upper-crust suburb of Summit, New Jersey, fifty miles north and inland. He was the baby by more than a decade to two sisters, and as the only boy—the DeVitos had suffered the loss of two children, including a son, years before Danny came along—he was their prince. His father, Daniel Sr., preferred paying tuition to bail money.

“My father was a good man,” DeVito says. “He supported his family. He always worked hard. He had a candy store, a luncheonette kind of thing, when I was born. Then he had a pool hall. That didn’t really do very well. It was small—five tables—and couldn’t really compete. But he loved to play pool.”

One of the classic experiences I had with my father was we drove from Asbury to see a guy named Mr. Blatt. Mr. Blatt had pool tables—probably had other sports equipment, too. I don’t know. All I know is we drove up to New York, I think—November, December—in one of his Oldsmobiles. He always had an Oldsmobile. It was like paradise for a kid going into this place, and he ordered five slate-top four-and-a-half-by-nine tables, which fit—just fit—in the little store he rented. And he picked out the felt, he picked out the balls, the cue balls, the chalk, the counters for the straight pool counters, pill bottles for pill pool. Picked all this stuff out. I was twelve, maybe.”

That’s a big deal for a boy that age.

“Yeah, a real big deal. And on the way home, it started snowing. One of the biggest blizzards that we ever had. And we were stuck without chains, on the way back to the shore, in the middle of it. No cell phones—you’re at the mercy of humanity. And people stopped. Somebody stopped, and they had an extra set of chains and fixed my father up. He never was slow with the duke, my father”—an old-school nod to the timeless practice of greasing the right palm in return for a solid—”so it worked out good.”

Which is a wonderful story, don’t you think?  That made me think of this scene from Throw Momma From the Train:

Please go read the entire interview, it is a great long read. I’ve caught up on lots of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia episodes I’ve missed over the years. That is one funny show.

e878a32e5e478ba5a419d16b238b0dc6In other news that seems fitting for something out of the circus, this article by Zach Beauchamp:  The Inside Story Of The Charlatan Who Duped The Nation’s Top Conservatives | ThinkProgress

On New Year’s Eve, I learned FEMA’s “Dirty Little Secret.”

It was the title of a fascinating email, one that had somehow dodged my spam filter. The message was suffused with breathless concern about the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s recent order of “420 million survival meals;” such provisions are apparently “the #1 most critical item in a crisis.” You see, “FEMA knows that if you control the food supply, then you control the people.”

Normally, such paranoid ramblings merit nothing more than a quick delete and a sad shake of the head. But the New Year’s note stood out because of the source. I was being alerted to FEMA’s nefarious plot by no less than National Review, the nation’s most important conservative magazine.

“Please find this special message from our sponsoring advertiser Food4Patriots,” the publication wrote. “This important support affords us the continuing means to provide you with National Review’s distinctly conservative and always exceptional news and commentary. We encourage you to patronize our sponsors.”

Since being added to National Review’s subscriber list, I had received four emails from the venerable publication selling me on Food4Patriots’ plan to “make darn sure your family won’t go hungry or get herded into a FEMA camp” by purchasing the dehydrated food they’re hawking. Indeed, Food4Patriots is deeply ensconced in the conservative movement, placing its ads in both more mainstream outlets (Fox News, Townhall.com) and fringier sites (Glenn Beck’s The Blaze, RedState, WorldNetDaily).

Food4Patriots is a lucrative enterprise. Its parent company, Reboot Marketing, took in $11.8 million in 2012, an astonishing 1,428 percent increase over its 2009 revenue.

But the company’s skyrocketing revenues came on the back of some (arguably) really shady practices. In fact, when I wrote National Review’s editor and publisher to give them a heads up about what I learned about the company, they promptly suspended future Food4Patriots ads.

Oh it is good…fascinating stuff, and it is a long read so go refill that coffee.

843d34af3ec04fdeb8f6e9a6bc6362d8Another link for you, this is an update to something I don’t think we have mentioned on the blog before so first the back story. Sam Bee interviewed Peter Schiff, an asshole CEO. Who goes on to tell Daily Show viewers the ‘mentally retarded’ could work for $2: ‘You’re worth what you’re worth’ | The Raw Story

The investment broker and talk radio host told Daily Show correspondent Samantha Bee that lifting the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, as President Barack Obama announced he would do by executive order for federal employees, could have devastating effects.

“There’s a law in economics, supply and demand, that you learn in Econ 101, and if you increase the price of something, you decrease the demand,” Schiff said. “The higher you make the minimum wage, the more jobs are going to be destroyed.

The CEO of Euro Pacific Capital argued that government programs, not low wages, were trapping Americans in poverty, and claimed that paying workers twice as much would double the cost of some goods – such as fast-food hamburgers.

“I do like to taste the tears of poverty in my milkshakes,” Bee said.

Schiff said those workers already earn enough.

“Did you ever go into a McDonald’s or Burger King?” he said. “I don’t really eat there, but they don’t seem desperate and hungry to me. They’re young kids, they seem to be enjoying themselves mostly.”

People don’t go hungry in a capitalist economy, Schiff claimed.

“It’s socialism that creates, you know, scarcity, that creates famine,” he said. “In a free market, there’s plenty of food for everybody – especially the poor.”

Schiff argued that eliminating the minimum wage law would allow more people entry to the workforce, and Bee asked him to identify someone whose work might be worth just $2 an hour.

“You know someone that might be? Maybe someone who is – what’s the politically correct word, you know, for mentally retarded,” Schiff said. “I believe in the principles this country was founded on.”

“I’m not going to say that we’re all created equal,” he said. “You’re worth what you’re worth.”

e006fb9d73724c77aad8e8710ad04350Well, the video is something you need to see, it is at the link. Go watch it.

Okay that was crazy, wasn’t it?

Now, check out what the dude is saying now: Investor Peter Schiff digs himself in deeper after ‘Daily Show’ remarks about the ‘retarded’ | The Raw Story

Radio commentator and investment adviser Peter Schiff , who was recently interviewed by The Daily Show’s Samantha Bee for a segment on the minimum wage, is very upset that he has been pilloried for using the not very politically-correct expression “mentally retarded” on air. During the episode, when prodded by Bee to explain who might be willing to work for $2 an hour, Schiff responded,  “You know someone that might be? Maybe someone who is – what’s the politically correct word, you know, for mentally retarded. I believe in the principles this country was founded on.”

Responding to public criticism about his star turn, Schiff has taken to his blog to express his displeasure with The Daily Show by pointing out that that Samantha Bee didn’t assist him with his answer and that he had delivered a four hour long disquisition on the free market and pay rates that somehow didn’t make it onto the half-hour long  satirical news program.

b26982af32a2d9f6a2c98435ffe5c297It is like some kind of canyon he is digging here.

Mr. Schiff  pointed out that  “Of the more than four hours of taped discussion I conducted, the producers chose to only use about 75 seconds of my comments. Of those, my use of the words ‘mentally retarded’ (when Samantha Bee asked me who might be willing to work for $2 per hour – a figure she suggested) has come to define the entire interview.” He then added,  “I just couldn’t remember the politically correct term currently in use (it is “intellectually disabled”). Assuming she knew it, Bee could have prompted me with the correct term, but she chose not to.”

Mr. Schiff then went on to further clarify that there were were two groups who would probably be happy to work for $2 an hour: the more appropriately named ” intellectually disabled”  and  “…unpaid interns who tend to value work experience and connections more than pay. ” He then pointed out that the Daily Show staffer who booked him for the show and attended the interview had  “… been thrilled to start there as an unpaid intern.”

Turning back to the “intellectually disabled”, Mr. Schiff added that if they “…can’t perform work that produces a minimum wage level of output, then no employer seeking to make a profit could afford to pay that person the official minimum wage. ” and that “Many of the jobs they perform may seem mundane to those of normal intelligence, but they are often the most enjoyable and rewarding aspects of the lives of people with intellectual disabilities. I pointed out that if the federal minimum wages were to apply to them, a great many of those opportunities would vanish. Others may disagree, but I believe a job for such a person at $2 per hour is better than no job at all.”

Some of his best friends are retards, oops… “intellectually disabled.” WTF is wrong with these people?

daab3814f86be30205d0781a9a71a933Just a few more links for you today, in dump fashion.

Postal Service Banking: How the USPS Can Save Itself and Help the Poor | New Republic by David Dayen

One of the key messages of tonight’s State of the Union address will be President Obama’s willingness to bypass Congress to create jobs and reduce inequality. As luck would have it, yesterday a new government report detailed an innovation that would preserve one of the largest job creators in the country, save billions of dollars specifically for the poor, and develop the very ladders of opportunity that Obama has championed as of late. What’s more, this could apparently be accomplished without Congressional action, but merely through existing executive prerogatives.

What’s the policy? Letting the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) offer basic banking services to customers, like savings accounts, debit cards and even simple loans. The idea has been kicked around policy circles for years, but now it has a crucial new adherent: the USPS Inspector General, who endorsed the initiative in a comprehensive white paper.

I have read this whole article and I don’t know what to think of it. Dak? Any thoughts?

This op/ed is only here because of the spelling topic of the thing…not the repeal Obamacare stuff…okay. Correct Spelling, Canceled by Phil Kerpen

As an American, I laugh at those archaic British spellings. Colour? Honour? Their inferiourity, if you will, is obvious. Centre? Theatre? Ridiculous. Most of these barbaric forms were corrected in America hundreds of years ago. Yet one galling Britishism is appearing on my computer screen all too frequently of late: “cancelled,” with a gratuitous extra l.

133581 600 Correct Spelling, Canceled cartoons
Randall Enos / Cagle Cartoons

Does something about Obamacare drive otherwise reasonable people to write about health plans being “cancelled” instead of “canceled”? Does the prospect of intrusive government involvement in health care cause us to regress? Is it subconscious deference to British and Canadian expertise at imposing socialized medicine? Whatever the cause, it needs to stop.

f734859e318878ec2ee90f8ac299fbccI don’t know, I usually have to go back and correct my spelling of flavour to flavor. Anyway,

Google’s Ngram feature searches the vast library of books Google has digitized. A search for “traveller” and “traveler” shows the British version remained dominant in America throughout the 19th century, but by 1915 the single l version overtook it and is now dominant. Merriam-Webster even touts “traveler” as an example of a Noah Webster triumph.

It took longer for “canceled” to triumph over “cancelled,” according to Google Ngram. The single l version didn’t take the lead until 1942, and they remained competitive for the next 40 years before “canceled” took the lead for good in 1983. As of 2000, the most recent year covered by the Google data, the now-standard American version was used over 73 percent of the time. The double l monstrosity appeared destined to finally disappear. In 2010, the Associated Press helpfully reminded the world that their style guide says “canceled” has one l.

Yet lately it seems everywhere I look there are American publications going British on this word. It’s baffling. If we are slouching towards a British-style health care system, we should at least spell the canceling of all those health plans in the correct American fashion.

3862148307_6d6daa3819This leads me to a little wordplay: World Wide Words Newsletter: 1 Feb 2014 Give the mitten

Q From Michael Thomas: I was recently working an acrostic puzzle and came upon the clue, “to break up with a loved one”. The answer, which I had never run across, was give the mitten. Could you explain the history of this phrase, please?

A It’s new to me, too, Mr Thomas, as it probably is to readers, since it is now extremely rare. The meaning has often been the one you give (in the American Civil War, a soldier who received a Dear John letter was said to have been given the mitten) but it could also often mean that a woman had rejected a unwelcome admirer out of hand. It occasionally meant that a student had been expelled from college or a workman had got the sack.

It’s known to be at least 170 years old. It has sometimes been taken to be North American, as the examples that were written down first — in the 1840s — are from works by Thomas Chandler Haliburton of Nova Scotia, who had a keen ear for the vocabulary of his times. However, as it is also recorded in Britain and Canada during much of the nineteenth century, it is probably an older British idiom that emigrants had carried abroad. In support of this, at the end of the century, the English Dialect Dictionary noted it as a British regional or dialect expression in the form to send one a mitten, to reject somebody or to cast them off.

Oh why didn’t we know this when Mitt was running for Prez…we could have used that as a slogan. Let’s send Mitt a mitten.  More at the link.

Back to the little big man theme: The Extreme Emotional Life of Völundr the Elf

An illustration of Völundr.Elves have been a fixture in the European mentality for a long time in fairytales and legends and, recently, in the most popular novels and films of our age. In this article, my aim is to determine the function of elves in Old Norse narratives from the thirteenth century by concentrating on the figure of Völundr, the protagonist of Völundarkviða, who to my mind is the most important Old Norse elf. The poem portrays his marriage to a southern swan-maiden who later leaves him. He then retires into solitude, hunting bears, and counting his rings until he is captured and enslaved by the avaricious King Níðuðr. The poem ends with Völundr’s gruesome revenge on the king and his family.

Völundarkviða is the tenth of twenty-nine poems in the Codex Regius ms of the Poetic Edda. Few Eddic poems have suffered less from scholarly neglect: a recent bibliography lists over 100 studies, not counting editions. There are grounds for this attention. To take one, Völundarkviða is usually classified as a heroic rather than mythological poem and shares common characteristics with some of the more ancient heroic poems in the Elder Edda, and yet it stands among the mythological Eddic poems in the manuscript between Þrymskviða and Alvíssmál.

Over the weekend I saw this man was buried with his Harley Davidson, did you see it?

American biker buried ‘riding’ Harley-Davidson in clear box – Americas – World – The Independent

An American biker has made his final journey on his beloved Harley-Davidson and been buried astride the motorbike in a clear box.

It was Bill Standley’s wish to share a grave with the 1967 bike, which took him travelling around 49 out of America’s 50 states.

His body was dressed in full riding gear and positioned on the Harley in a see-through box, which was driven to the cemetery on a trailer before being lowered into the extra-large plot.

Work on the unusual coffin started six years before Mr Standley’s death, aged 82.

He built the plastic casket that would hold him and his motorbike himself with his sons, and bought three burial plots next to his wife.

Damn, talk about taking it with you. There is a video report at the link, if you need to see it. The photo is enough for me.

And finally another twist on our title, but this features little big men and women…

Alrighty then.  Y’all have a wonderful day, and since it is Superbowl Sunday…I guess we’ll see you around the blog later on.  In the meantime, what are you reading about this morning?