Sunday Reads: Faults, Fashions and Failures

René Gruau (February 4, 1909 - March 31, 2004)

René Gruau (February 4, 1909 – March 31, 2004)

Good Morning

I hope that those of you trapped beneath the ice and snow, are safe and doing fine. Some of the pictures out of Texas are amazing. I have a house full of munchkins as I write this post (Saturday night) and it is wonderful to hear laughter from my daughter’s room.

So, with that in mind, here is your post for this cold December morning. (Written by a distracted mum, so mind the awkwardness.)

By the way, all the illustrations are by René Gruau (February 4, 1909 – March 31, 2004)

db61c4c953a98b16cf6640008fbe4f07…a renowned fashion illustrator whose exaggerated portrayal of fashion design through painting has had a lasting effect on the fashion industry . Because of Gruau’s inherent skills and creativity, contributed to a change in the entire fashion industry through the new pictures that represented the already popular designs created by designers in the industry. The benefits, including economic stimulation and enhancement of advertising are still vividly presented in the industry today via a new way of fashion illustration, fashion photography. Gruau became one of the best known and favorite artists of the haute couture world during the 1940s and 50s working with Femina, Marie-Claire, L’Officiel, L’Album Du Figaro and an assortment of “high-style” magazines.[3] Gruau’s artwork is recognized and commended internationally in some of Paris and Italy’s most prestigious art museums including the Louvre in Paris and the blank in Italy. in addition to his international fame and recognition, “Gruau’s artwork is known for its timeless and enduring style”.[3]

You can find many more of these beautiful fashion illustrations here: RENE GRUAU

I will have more fashion links later in the post, now let’s get to some “newsy” links.

Fur lined coat by Christian Dior, illustrated by Rene Gruau, Sept. 1947

Fur lined coat by Christian Dior, illustrated by Rene Gruau, Sept. 1947

There is some disturbing policy news out of Japan, Japan’s controversial new state secrets law condemned as ‘the largest ever threat to democracy in postwar Japan’ by Nobel academics | The Raw Story

Japan’s controversial new state secrets law was condemned Saturday as “the largest ever threat to democracy in postwar Japan” by a group of academics, including two Nobel prize winners, reports said.

On Friday Japan’s parliament adopted a new law handing out stiffer penalties for those who spill state secrets, despite a public outcry over fears the legislation was draconian and would impinge on press freedom and the public’s right to know.

In a strongly worded attack on the new law, a group of 31 academics, including Nobel Prize winners Toshihide Maskawa and Hideki Shirakawa, accused the Japanese government of threatening “the fundamental human rights and pacifist principles” established by the country’s constitution.

The controversial bill, proposed by the right-wing government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, was approved by the Senate on Friday evening, a few days after it was passed in the lower house.

The Senate vote in favour was expected as the coalition government led by Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) holds a majority of seats there.

The opposition raised motions to stop the law but each move was rejected by the LDP members and their allies.

ecbfca7e86759bf5f3aec18f230d6af0 René Gruau February 4, 1909 - March 31, 2004Sounds like Japan has their own form of “GOP” like assholes in control, and they are making a mess of things.

The scholars’ statement — which Kyodo said was also endorsed by a further 3,150 academics — condemned the country’s ruling bloc of behaving in a way that was “reminiscent of the prewar government that wrested away freedom of thought and freedom of the press” by pushing the law through both Japan’s legislative chambers.

Shirakawa was awarded the Nobel prize for chemistry in 2000 while Maskawa won the prestigious award for physics in 2008. The Kyodo report did not name any of the other academics who signed the statement.

The law allows government ministers to designate as a state secret information related to defence, diplomacy, counter-intelligence and counter-terrorism.

Abe has argued that the measure is necessary to plug a notoriously leaky government machine, which prevents its chief ally the United States from sharing intelligence.

But critics say the categories are so vague that almost anything could fit the definition. They worry that information that is embarrassing to governing politicians or to their patrons could easily be hidden from public view.

They point to the way that Tokyo withheld news of the severity of the nuclear disaster at Fukushima in 2011, and say a state that already operates largely behind closed doors will become even more secretive.

That problem is exacerbated by a relatively weak institutional press.

Oh yeah, weak press? Hmmm, that does sound familiar. But ours is weak because of who “sponsors” it…

6370cad63893b416dc8e81fcfb81f373 René Gruau February 4, 1909 - March 31, 2004Those convicted of leaking “state secrets” could get long prison terms, up to ten years…and anyone encouraging someone to spill the beans…they could get up to five years in prison, the language so vague….it may even include journalist and lawyers.

And talking about Japan: Largest Fault Slip Ever Recorded Generated Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami

The magnitude 9.0 earthquake that unleashed the devastating 2011 tsunami in Japan was triggered by the largest fault slip ever recorded, the journal Science reported Thursday.

By measuring the frictional heat produced by the fault slip during the earthquake, researchers from the University of California, Santa Cruz and other organizations found that friction along the Tohoku fault was remarkably low when the earthquake struck on March 11, 2011.

“The Tohoku fault is more slippery than anyone expected,” said Emily Brodsky, a geophysicist at UC Santa Cruz. Brodsky acted as co-author for three papers on the Tohoku earthquake published in the journal Science this week.

The scientist say the fault is slippery as a banana peel.

Researcher Patrick Fulton, first author of the paper focusing on temperature measurements, concurred.

“The large slip at shallow depths contributed to the tsunami that caused so much damage in Japan. Usually, these earthquakes don’t rupture all the way to the surface,” he said.

Fulton said that the low resistance to slip along the Tohoku fault can help explain the staggering 165-foot displacement, or movement, that occurred to the seafloor during the earthquake. That low friction, he said, was exacerbated by an abundance of weak, slippery clay material in the fault zone.

Read more at the link…it is an interesting read.

69d44649ebc5a5ff7e7ab476273125eb René Gruau February 4, 1909 - March 31, 2004Back at home, this little tidbit of news due to an asshole out of California: Global Hawk Air Force Budget Cuts – Business Insider

A $114 million contract to build three more Global Hawk high-altitude unmanned surveillance aircraft was announced back in September, despite the Air Force not even wanting them.

Facing budget cuts and wanting to save some cash (about $2.5 billion over five years), the Air Force was planning to stop buying the pricey — and rather unreliable — drones and mothball the remainder of the fleet in favor of the battle-tested and accomplished U2 spy plane.

“The Block 30 [Global Hawk aircraft] is not operationally effective,” the Pentagon’s top testing official had declared in a blunt May 2011 report, according to The Center for Public Integrity.

But the Pentagon was no match for forces on Capitol Hill, as an article written by W.J. Hennigan in the Los Angeles Times points out:

“Northrop responded sharply, saying the U-2 “places pilots in danger, has limited flight duration and provides limited sensor capacity.”

In the end, the Air Force didn’t win that skirmish. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-Santa Clarita), whose congressional district includes Palmdale, jumped in to rescue the project. Congress restored the funding, and last month Northrop received a $114-million contract to build three more drones, saving thousands of jobs.”

e92d7e333fae1aebcb25d52bf5912709Go and read all the money that was put into military programs the military did not want. And then…read this op/ed from the LA Times: The saddest Christmas wish lists ever

I was standing in line at the post office when a sign caught my eye: “Operation Santa 2013.” According to the poster, “answering letters to Santa has been a holiday custom for over 100 years.” Those who wanted to participate could choose one of the many letters to Santa received by the post office and write back as Santa, sending the gift requested.

How cute, I thought. Kids request presents from “Santa” and they actually arrive.

I remember walking to the mailbox with my own letters to Santa as a child. One of my mother’s favorite Christmas stories was how, when I was 4, I mistakenly threw my peanut butter sandwich into the mailbox instead of my letter. Santa brought me a whole jar of peanut butter that year.

I couldn’t wait until my kids were old enough to write letters to Santa. Now they are too old for Santa Claus and I miss him, so Operation Santa seemed perfect for me.

Bright and early on Dec. 3, the first day the program got underway, I drove to the main Los Angeles post office at Gage and Central to choose my letter. I walked into a large, decorated room where Cleo, the “elf in charge,” was waiting. I expected letters full of misspelled words and little-kid grammar, asking for Legos and Barbies, skateboards and My Little Pony. I knew there’d be those who asked for phones or IPads or Xboxes, or other things out of my price range, but I figured I could find some little boy who still wanted a fire engine.

What I found were pleas from parents. A mother out of work said her family would eat, but there wouldn’t be any presents. A dad wrote that his kids needed school supplies. Parents with two kids, three kids, maybe more, were hoping for help with what they couldn’t provide. A dad just out of prison wanted to make Christmas special for the kids he hadn’t seen for so long. A disabled grandmother asked for a church dress for her granddaughter.

I was overwhelmed. Many of the letters — even the ones from kids — asked for groceries and shoes, clothing and shampoo. One child wrote: “Please bring my mommy some food. She’s been good this year.”

2644c4a9d02166b511a38f2f881886f0The rest is heartbreaking….especially for me, because my good friend Jessica is one of those mommas who is having a difficult time this year getting a few gifts for her two boys. Seeing her on Facebook looking for “barter or trade” items makes me so sad.

Elf Cleo sat beside me at the table checking in a new batch of letters. She told me 90% of the Santa requests sent to the post office never get answered. Many are written at homeless shelters and city food banks and after-school programs. (I found one letter in which a young teenager asked for gifts for the shelter workers.) Cleo said that every once in a while a family’s gift comes back unopened, marked address unknown. She wonders: Have they moved into a shelter? A car? Onto the street?

I read a lot of letters, and I felt worse and worse. I didn’t know how to choose. The single dad who needed diapers? The 17-year-old asking for a backpack for her little sister? I believe in holiday magic, but there just didn’t seem to be enough of it to go around.

After you read the rest of that op/ed, take a look at this: What If Your Income Grew As Fast As the 1 Percent’s? Try Our Calculator | Mother Jones

The richest 1 percent of Americans have seen their average income jump more than 270 percent over the past five decades. Meanwhile, the average income of the least wealthy 90 percent of Americans grew an anemic 22 percent during that time. (Those figures are based on inflation-adjusted real dollars.)

So how much would you be earning today if the phenomenal income growth at the very top of the income scale had trickled down to most Americans? Use this calculator to find out.

355e0d9096b5052db00f789a294db74eAll you crime newsy people will eat up this next juicy link: Why Couldn’t Worst Crime Lab Employee Get Fired? — Daily Intelligencer

That’s the question an exhaustive new report on a particularly incompetent lab worker at the office of New York’s medical examiner. Over two years, the office has been looking into how she mislabeled evidence (mixing up suspect and victim’s names), ignored or missed DNA samples, failed to test evidence, and couldn’t understand basic concepts for testimony. But even though her supervisors knew about “myriad failures,” they didn’t fire her. The only news in this story that instills confidence in the city’s forensics lab: She left on her own in 2011.

Which is connected to a New York Times story here: The City Is Not Handling Its DNA Evidence Too Well

and here: Report Details the Extent of a Crime Lab Technician’s Errors in Handling Evidence

Alright, now for the fashion links. Orchid…that is the new hot color for 2014! Actually it is officially called “Radiant Orchid” but that link goes to an AP article so you will need to read about the “creativity” of the color purple on your own.

Rene Gruau Les Girls

Rene Gruau Les Girls

Well, for me…talking creativity in fashion? How about iconic? Marilyn Monroe’s Magician–the One and Only Travilla | GlamAmor

Whenever I want to illustrate the power of costume design, the person I always turn to is the legendary William (“Billy”) Travilla.  I can usually convince any crowd with two simple words:  Marilyn Monroe.  As of 1952, Travilla was responsible for her fashion on film, which included iconic work in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), How to Marry a Millionaire (1953), and The Seven Year Itch (1955).  He designed for her offscreen as well.  In short, as the world continues to obsess over the style of Marilyn Monroe, we are all also celebrating the talent of Travilla.

Though perhaps best known for his work in the 1950s, his career stretched from film in the 1940s to television of the 1980s where he helped shape the style of the decade in shows such as Dallas and KnotsLanding. As a result, there is a nearly endless list of celebrities who absolutely adored him.  Barbara Stanwyck, Lana Turner, Ava Gardner, Lauren Bacall, Loretta Young, Ann-Margret, Faye Dunaway, Debbie Reynolds, Joanne Woodward, Mitzi Gaynor, Diahann Carrol, Sharon Tate…this is only the beginning.  As biographer and Travilla Foundation founder Kimberley Ashley observes, “Many celebrities of the golden era of Hollywood depended upon the Travilla touch for their career success.  He touched their lives with his silver screen alchemy.”

Oooo, love that quote, those last three words drip with perfect illusion. Just go to GlamAmor blog and read the rest. Enjoy it!

bf3645c296d1b500010e0fd32ee87db7Then take a look at this: 17 Times The Fashion Was The Best Part Of The Movie

Forget the plot — some movies are best remembered for the costumes.

At least, that’s how we feel. We appreciate a well-directed film with good cinematography as much as the next film buffs, but some movies capture a style era so perfectly, we can’t help but leave inspired to emulate the characters. Below, we’ve rounded the films with fashion we’ll never forget… even if we can’t remember anything else about them.

And what is fashion without scent? A Whiff on the Wild Side: Confessions of a Vintage Perfume Addict That is an excerpt of a book on perfumes, it even has some of the reviews of old vintage scents.  Scent and Subversion: Decoding a Century of Provocative Perfume: Barbara Herman

Another book link for you, this time a discussion of an anthology: Why Writers Love New York City (and Then Leave It) – Marie-Helene Westgate – The Atlantic

In the new anthology Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving New York, contributors share the experience of moving to New York in pursuit of the writing life. In essay after essay, writers describe their experiences moving to New York from Long Island, New Jersey, California, and overseas. Anyone from anywhere can come to New York City in pursuit of fame, riches, and romance, and as a result, Goodbye to All That captures New York’s uniquely nuanced, overlapping landscape of cultures and geographies that for millions feels at once deeply personal and communal.

But while something deeper also reveals itself in the pages: Some thread of pure accident runs through the story of each writer’s dream of making it in the big city.

9724a76138f5e2711314732765c7459fAfter you read that interview piece, if the book seems interesting, find it here: Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving New York: Sari Botton

Did you know that the Neanderthals used to decorate their caves? Well, not in the way we do…but: New evidence suggests Neanderthals organized their living spaces

Scientists have found that Neanderthals organized their living spaces in ways that would be familiar to modern humans, a discovery that once again shows similarities between these two close cousins.

The findings, published in the latest edition of the Canadian Journal of Archaeology, indicate that Neanderthals butchered animals, made tools and gathered round the fire in different parts of their shelters.

“There has been this idea that Neanderthals did not have an organized use of space, something that has always been attributed to humans,” said Julien Riel-Salvatore, assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Colorado Denver and lead author of the study. “But we found that Neanderthals did not just throw their stuff everywhere but in fact were organized and purposeful when it came to domestic space.”

Go figure.

5d68e77fac27dec4a1d7efbc5fe851e7And if that does not make you think twice about things and mans place in the animal kingdom, maybe this will: Honeybees Can Recognize Individual Human Faces: Scientific American

The ability to tell individual faces apart was long thought to be exclusive to large-brained mammals. But in recent years a number of studies have shown that, in fact, some wasps can facially recognize one another. And honeybees can learn human faces, too. In their article in the December issue of Scientific American, biologists Elizabeth Tibbetts of the University of Michigan and Adrian Dyer of RMIT University in Melbourne describe these findings and what they reveal about the neural requirements for seemingly complex cognitive tasks.

Shit. They can learn human faces? Damn, does that mean that the military could train honeybees to become assassins? Think about it. Mercenary “Killer Bees” that are trained to go after a specific target’s face. Hey, that would make a great Roland Emmerich movie eh?

The last link for you today is a follow-up on a story from long ago. How An Abused Lion, Tiger And Bear Became An Unlikely Family (PHOTOS)

Baloo the bear, Leo the lion, and Shere Khan the tiger (all three known as BLT) were brought together as 2-month-old cubs and have grown up as a family.

The trio was originally owned by a drug dealer who didn’t properly care for them, leading to neglect, poor health and severe injuries.

In 2001, Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary, a nonprofit that cares for animals in need, came to the rescue, and took them to Locust Grove, Georgia, where they were treated for injuries.

blt

“We could have separated them,” Diane Smith, assistant director of the Noah’s Ark Zoo told the Telegraph. “But since they came as a kind of family, the zoo decided to keep them together.”

I wrote about these three buddies when I started blogging for Sky Dancing years ago. Well, it turns out the fence around their little home need some improvements.

…the government passed new federal regulations requiring big cat enclosures to have 16 foot fences put up, which would take effect in October of this year. Baloo, Leo and Shere Khan’s fence was only 8 feet high. If these regulations weren’t met, the three animals would have to split up.

Rebuilding the fence would cost $489,000.

With October slowly approaching, The Sanctuary entered a contest to help raise money. On August 15, CrowdRise, an online fundraising site, teamed up with RYOT, a social news platform to announce a challenge called #STARTARYOT, according to ncronline.com. They offered $75,000 to the nonprofit that raised the most money in five weeks.

On Oct. 10, they had announced that Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary had won. They even received an extra $10,000 for attracting the most unique visitors during the last week of the challenge.

Additionally, they were able to raise $362,269 through crowd-funding. The installment company even agreed to discount the price of the new fence.

And once more, all is right in the BLT-land.

blt

Innit that great! There are lots of more photos at the link…go see the three amigos together. So dang cute!

That is my post for today. Stay warm and happy!


Wednesday: Cassini, Depression, Age, and Outrage

Painting by Elena Drobychevskaja Found on Pinterest...

Painting by Elena Drobychevskaja
Found on Pinterest…

Good morning.

I want to start this post off with a note of warning. It is being written by a woman with a migraine, so excuse any mistakes or typos…or lack of coherent commentary.  Honestly, my mind feels like a light bulb that is not getting the full required amount of juice to keep it lit at full brightness…right now it is kind of sparking in and out.

Sometimes it makes a connection, other times it just becomes a dull pathetic glow or ember of unfocused ideas and thoughts.

Or like a dirty spark plug that just won’t fire an engine…well, you know what I mean. No need to go on with these overused literary metaphors, that is what they are right? Uh, I’ll just refer you back to that dim light bulb.

So as I wander through this morning’s post, bear with me…

I don’t know if you have seen this horrible case of abuse that happened here in Georgia.  A little girl was abused by her father and step-mother for all of her life, they killed her in a slow and painful way, and now the DA is looking into possible Death Penalty prosecution. But what is even more disgusting, is that this girl was repeatedly seen by DFCS all of her 10 years of life, from the first year until 3 months before her death.  Here are two local news station reports:

Death penalty may be sought against parents of Emani Moss | www.wsbtv.com

>Emani Moss

We’re learning more about the death of Emani Moss, a 10-year-old Gwinnett girl, who police said was abused by her father and stepmother.

The parents accused of starving their 10-year-old daughter to death, then trying to burn her body may face the death penalty.

Danny Porter said in 20 years as the district attorney, he’s only asked for the death penalty 10 times, but he said as he looks at the evidence in this case, he may be asking for it twice in a matter of weeks.

“In 30 years of doing this, this is probably the worst case I’ve seen,” Porter said.

As he goes through the mounting evidence, Porter said the cases against Emani Moss’ parents appear eligible for the death penalty.

“I think once we learn more about the mechanism of starvation and the suffering that is involved, it may qualify as torture,” Porter said.

Investigators said the girl’s father Eman, and stepmother Tiffany, starved the 10-year-old. In late October, they allegedly left her in bed for a week, convulsing and otherwise unable to move. Police said her dad confessed to trying to burn her body in a trash can after she died.

This next link has more info about the DFCS case reports: DFCS summary of the life and death of Emani Moss | 11alive.com

When DFCS case workers were called to the scene of a gruesome crime at a Gwinnett County apartment complex last Saturday, it was not the first time they’d been sent to check on the welfare of 10-year-old Emani Moss.When they arrived, police told them the child’s partially burned body had been found in a trash can, three days after they believe she probably starved to death.

VIDEO | The life and death of Emani Moss

A case summary of her DFCS file, obtained by 11Alive Thursday under Georgia’s Open Records Act, shows DFCS checked out allegations of abuse on at least six occasions in her life, but only felt it was true on one occasion.

You have to go to that 11alive link and read the number of times this girl could have been saved…if only someone from DFCS either gave a damn or (if it turns out that it was due to lack of funding) had enough personnel to keep better track of the situation and not continue to return this girl to her abusers. She even tried to run away, only to be brought back…it is heartbreaking…tragic and fucking unacceptable…especially considering this shit, in the same city, Atlanta. A baseball team is leaving a fully paid for, perfectly good stadium for a new, taxpayer one a few miles away:

Turner Field to be torn down when Braves leave

It was the Olympics’ gift to Atlanta, a stadium free and clear of debt. The taxpayers did not pay a dime for it, neither did the Atlanta Braves. The Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games built an 85,000-seat stadium for the 1996 Olympics with private money and gifted it to the city.

Perhaps that is why Turner Field seems so disposable. It was free.

Mayor Kasim Reed announced Tuesday that in the wake of the news the Braves will move to Cobb County following the 2016 season, the city will tear down the 50,000-seat ballpark, which will be just 20 years old in 2017. He declared in the press conference that there would be no vacant, rotting structure on the south side of the town, but rather a vibrant middle class neighborhood.

It was not what William J. Moss envisioned. Moss supervised the $550 million in construction of venues for the Olympics and told the Orlando Sentinel in 1991, “The idea is not to have any white elephants and for each of these things to have a use after the Olympics is over.”

It is ridiculous. And don’t tell me that Mayor Reed had no idea this shit wasn’t in the works…you know he just won re-election last week.

Have Fun Paying Off that $450 Million – Lawyers, Guns & Money

Turner Field is 17 years old:

The Atlanta Braves announced Monday they will leave Turner Field for a new 42,000-seat, $672 million stadium about 10 miles from downtown Atlanta in 2017. It’s not clear how much the proposed ballpark will cost taxpayers.

Braves executives John Schuerholz, Mike Plant and Derek Schiller said the team decided not to seek another lease at 17-year-old Turner Field and began talks with the Cobb Marietta Coliseum and Exhibit Hall Authority in July.

Looks like $450 million in public funds:

(Although Schiller initially declined to say how much the county would be paying, this story says that Cobb County will be on the hook for $450 million, with the Braves paying roughly $200 million.)

In case you’re wondering, Cobb County falls mostly in Newt Gingrich’s old district, which consists of people who hate big government except when it transfers extraordinary amounts of money to incredibly wealthy people. I wonder how they’ll manage to shift the burden from the county to the state and federal government; I don’t doubt that the effort will involve some altogether ingenious accounting, combined with a concerted effort to screw over the poor.

Forgive me for copying that in full, but it is the truth…and then you have this blog post written by Will Bunch from the Philadelphia Daily News that I agree with completely: Atlanta’s Turner Field is dying — and American sanity is dying with it

I’m know I’m going to sound like an old man again, but I can remember 1997 like it was yesterday. I can almost taste it, smell it — the time when a couple of Yankee kids named Jeter and Rivera ruled the baseball world, when Hillary Clinton was strolling the corridors of the White House, and when the Dow hit the Olympian heights of 8,000. It seemed like those times would never end, but now it’s 16 long years later (that’s not a typo…1-6!) and time continues to march inexorably forward.

I felt a pang of nostalgia when I read today that another relic of that bygone era is biting the dust, that the Atlanta Braves are finally (finally!) saying goodbye to historic Turner Field, ending its more than decade-and-a-half run and heading for the greener pastures of suburban Cobb County. Goodbye to the ballpark where the ghosts of John Rocker and David Justice still lurk, its old-timey giant “Eat Mor Chickin’” Chick-fil-A cow, the “Tomahawk Chop” (yes, people weren’t as advanced on matters of race back then, unfortunately), and the quaint aroma of jalapeno nachos in the sultry Georgia air.

When I saw the news — on Twitter, which didn’t even exist way back in 1997! — this morning that the Braves will be saying good-bye to Turner Field in 2017, after the expiration of their original 20-year lease, I really only had one reaction.

What the hell, Atlanta Braves? Or maybe it was, what the hell, Atlanta…(and Cobb County.) OK, I guess it was actually, what the hell. America?

Yup, Turner Field is the same age as my son Jake, but this is where the man gets to the point:

The news that the Braves plan to abandon it is simply stunning. What happened? The Braves say they want to be closer to their real fan base in the affluent northern suburbs, and hey, that’s capitalism, I guess. Except here’s the thing….it’s not capitalism. The Braves say it would have cost $200 million to “fix” Turner Field (apparently for things like new seats and new lights…hard to believe that the old ones only lasted 16 years and that it costs that much to fix them, but that’s what they claim.) In Cobb County, they’re spending the same amount for a whole new stadium — because the taxpayers of Cobb County are promising to pay the rest, a whopping $450 million. They’ve promised the money to the Braves even though there’s been no public hearings and no vote. I have no idea how that even works.

So this is not real capitalism at all — it’s corrupted crony capitalism. Now it seems that Cobb County is one of the 100th wealthiest counties in America, and the 12th most educated. So $450 million must be chump change — it’s not like they’re Philadelphia, slashing public school teachers in the face of massive budget cuts. Oh wait…actually they are sort of like that:

Cobb County’s school board approved a 2013-14 budget Thursday night that will result in five furlough days for all employees, the loss of 182 teachers through attrition and a slimmer central administration staff.

The cuts are the result of reduced state aid and lower property tax revenues — although apparently the lower property tax revenues that are low enough to mean fewer teachers aren’t so low that they can’t BUILD A NEW BASEBALL STADIUM! For a team that already has what you and I might, sanely, consider a pretty new baseball stadium.

There’s so much else that it’s hard to know where to begin . There’s the fact that the Braves are leaving a ballpark served by mass transit for one that would be located at one of the most traffic-congested intersections (I-75 and I-285) in America, pumping tons of unnecessary carbon pollution into the air….

Had to break that paragraph to insert this cartoon: 10/12 Mike Luckovich cartoon: Take me out to the crowd | Mike Luckovich

luckovich-cartoon-for-111213

Now back to that  Will Bunch post already in progress…

…The fact that this is just slightly less egregious than what’s happening with Atlanta’s also pretty new, also fully functional football stadium the Georgia Done (which opened way back in…wait for it, 1992) that’s being replaced with a $1.2 billion palace with a retractable roof, because…??? And there’s the “white flight” of the Braves leaving the majority black city where Aaron heroically endured death threats to break Babe Ruth’s record.

Which maybe wouldn’t be so terrible…if they weren’t doing it with other people’s money. But here’s the thing that really galls me — that this is happening in Georgia, the hotbed of the Tea Party, the state that gave us Cobb County’s own Newt Gingrich and now sends right-wing crackpots like Rep. Paul Broun to Washington so that they can rail against “the moochers,” “the takers,” who don’t think twice about slashing food stamps and who won’t — on principle…principle! — take Washington’s Medicaid money so that their own working-poor constituents can get good health coverage. And now they’re writing the (corporate) welfare check of a lifetime, to one of the most historically lucrative sports franchises in American history, and their only question is how many zeroes there are in $450 million. How dare they?!

Yeah, they also are building a new stadium for their NFL Falcons too…fucking Georgia assholes.

And by the way, what about “those people” you know the “ones” I am talking about: Cobb GOP chairman concerned about (those) people coming to… | Jay Bookman | www.ajc.com

I just got back from Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s press conference on the Braves’ move to a transportation-challenged site in Cobb County, and will have a lot more to say on that later. But I can’t let this pass without notice:

Joe Dendy, chairman of the Cobb County Republican Party, says that he has two conditions for supporting the Braves’ proposed move (h/t Jim Galloway):

1.) That Cobb County citizens won’t have to pay higher taxes as a result, and

2.) “It is absolutely necessary the (transportation) solution is all about moving cars in and around Cobb and surrounding counties from our north and east where most Braves fans travel from, and not moving people into Cobb by rail from Atlanta.”

Again, that’s from the chairman of the Republican Party in the state’s wealthiest, most sophisticated GOP stronghold. If you want to know why the Atlanta region has trouble acting and thinking like a region, why we have abandoned mass transit options that every other major urban area in the country is pursuing, and why we have forfeited the economic dynamism that once made this city/region the envy of much of the nation, there you have it.

Not to mention what it says about the “inclusive” attitude of a certain number of Georgia Republicans.

Yeah, they don’t want any Braves fans from South Atlanta, that need to travel via MARTA…or, because as Axel Foley would say…

Oh, wait a moment, that quote from Joe Dendy isn’t racist at all…my guess is that Richard Cohen would feel at home going to a Braves game in Cobb County.

Fucking Georgia Republicans.

All this going on while kids like Emani Moss are being ignored by DFCS, starved to death and then burned like rubbish inside a trash can by their parents. Once again the PLUB mentality is overwhelmingly disgusting. Too bad Emani did not show a knack for throwing a football or baseball. (Okay that may be pushing it too far, but I am so angry about this. And with my headache, I can’t find a good/better argument.)

More disgusting shit? here you go:

40 Gunmen Armed with Assault Rifles Terrorize Gun Control Group at a Texas Restaurant | BobCesca.com | Liberal Politics Blog and Podcast | We Cover the World 

That is a story about three women being harassed by a shitload of gun totting gun nuts.

Here is a cartoon to go with it:

OnlyInSomalia

Artist – David Horsey

Then you have this tweet about pro-life nuts…

Another case of disease brought on by anti-vaccine nuts:

Another Victim of (Jenny) McCarthyism  : Lawyers, Guns & Money

A cartoon to go with that post.  Anti vaccine Reunion Tour by Political Cartoonist Pat Bagley

140051 600 Anti vaccine Reunion Tour cartoons

Oooo, check it out. A map of depression: A stunning map of depression rates around the world

(Max Fisher/Washington Post)

Update on shooting death of woman in Detroit: Autopsy reveals Michigan shooting victim McBride shot in face | Al Jazeera America

A dog in Washington State brings home a human leg, and the 93-year-old old man who owns the dog…well, just look at this link: Deputies find more human remains after dog brings home leg | Local & Regional | Seattle News, Weather, Sports, Breaking News | KOMO News

Reason why we hate the dentist: Scared of the dentist? This is why, say neuroscientists | The Raw Story

From the “no shit” department: BBC News – Depression ‘makes us biologically older’

(Yup, no wonder people with down syndrome never age.)

A link to a book about women in the early church: Mothers Of The Church « The Dish

And did you see these pictures from Cassini?

The Day the Earth Smiled (NASA Cassini Saturn Mission Images)

On July 19, 2013, in an event celebrated the world over, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft slipped into Saturn’s shadow and turned to image the planet, seven of its moons, its inner rings — and, in the background, our home planet, Earth.

With the sun’s powerful and potentially damaging rays eclipsed by Saturn itself, Cassini’s onboard cameras were able to take advantage of this unique viewing geometry. They acquired a panoramic mosaic of the Saturn system that allows scientists to see details in the rings and throughout the system as they are backlit by the sun. This mosaic is special as it marks the third time our home planet was imaged from the outer solar system; the second time it was imaged by Cassini from Saturn’s orbit; and the first time ever that inhabitants of Earth were made aware in advance that their photo would be taken from such a great distance.

The Day the Earth Smiled (NASA Cassini Saturn Mission Images) big, big, big ass picture…

Catalog Page for PIA17172- gives information on picture

Cassini Solstice Mission: The Day the Earth Smiled (with planets annotated) shows where the planets are located…and gives information on mission

PIA17172_fig2.jpg (JPEG Image, 9000 × 3500 pixels) – Scaled (15%) with planets only

PIA17172_fig3.jpg (JPEG Image, 4500 × 1750 pixels) – Scaled (30%) with rings and moons noted

I will end with a picture of a baby sloth sticking her tongue out. It is something I found while helping Bebe with her science project this weekend.

Sloth got your tongue? – PhotoBlog

Eight months old baby sloth Camillo yawns at the zoo in Halle, eastern Germany, on Thursday, May 17. In the wild, sloths live mainly in tropical rainforests of Central and South America.

Y’all have a good day, if you can…stop and comment.


Wednesday Reads: Just as ordinary as any other…

b56ea25e721a155f9971418bba9f27c6Good Morning to y’all!

Halloween is just one week and a day away and I can’t wait. That is a big day for us because that afternoon Bebe gets her cast off, hopefully, and she can start to move on to physical therapy. Yeah!

First thing this morning, it is the 100th day since the Atlanta Panda Twins have been born, so today is their naming celebration. Be sure to click the link and see what the cute little guys are called.

**Updated to add Panda Twin Names**

Panda Twins 100th Day Celebration

  1. Mei Lun (may loon) and Mei Hua (may hwaa), meaning “Lun Lun’s twin cubs born in the U.S.”
  2. Mei Lun (may loon) and Mei Huan (may hwaan), originating from a Chinese idiom that means “something indescribably beautiful and magnificent”
  3. Tian Lun (tee-an loon) and Tian Le (tee-an luh), a modified version of a Chinese idiom meaning “joy of family life” or “family happiness”
  4. Lan Tian (lan tee-an) and Bi Shui (bee shway), meaning “blue sky and clear water”
  5. Da Lan (dah lan) and Xiao Lan (sheow lan), meaning “bigger one (Cub B) and smaller one (Cub A) of Atlanta-born twins”

I voted for the “bigger one and smaller one” names myself.

Anyway, sticking with Georgia a bit longer…there was a very interesting blog post over at The Volokh Conspiracy written by Nita Farahany:  Bias in the Northern District of Georgia?

It is unfortunate that the paywall is up for the Atlanta Journal Constitution, because the article is something important indeed. But here take a look at the blog article:

On Sunday, the Atlanta Journal of Constitution published a front-page story: Workers Who Cry Foul Seldom Get a Day in Court. The story focuses on an empirical study on summary dismissal of employment discrimination claims brought in the Northern District of Georgia in 2011 and 2012. That study reveals that it is “nearly impossible to get trial in an employment discrimination case” in the Northern District of Georgia. [The study was commissioned by the law firm of Barrett and Farahany in Atlanta, GA, and authored by Tanya McAdams and Amanda Farahany (full disclosure: my sister)]. The Northern District of Georgia (and Atlanta, in particular) appears to be an outlier, in that “70 percent of cases brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 are dismissed before trial [nationwide],” while in the Northern District of Georgia, “judges toss more than 80 percent of all cases.” In Atlanta, they toss 94% of employment discrimination claims. In 2011 and 2012, 100% percent of racial harassment cases and all but one sexual harassment case were dismissed. By comparison, when the firm compared the results from the Northern District of Alabama (also within the 11th Circuit, and also a state with no state laws concerning employment discrimination (like Georgia)), they found that 66% instead of 80% of employment discrimination claims were dismissed in full.

Then Ms. Farahany asks a loaded question…

How should we interpret these results? Could the Northern District of Georgia be facing far more frivolous suits than other jurisdictions?

You know why I say loaded? Because I guess I have seen the kind of shit that goes on in within the judicial system here in the mountains of Georgia…and it is scary as hell!

Yeah, I know that I may be talking about different courts here (Superior vs Federal) but take into account our Superior court judges.

We have had one judge, Chief Judge David Barrett,  pull a gun on a sexual assault victim.  A short time later another judge, Lynn Akeley-Alderman, resigns before ethics charges were brought against her. That left only one judge left in our district alone….in fact, check out this AJC article from 2012:  Rash judges bring disorder to court

You might think the exits, less than a month apart, of Barrett and Akeley-Alderman from the same judicial circuit would be unusual. They’re not.

In a span of just one week in April 2010, the Griffin Judicial Circuit, which includes Fayette County, lost two of its four judges to scandals, including one in which the chief judge was caught having sex with a public defender who had cases before him.

In just four months’ time in 2010, both of the Mountain Judicial Circuit’s judges left the bench in disgrace, including one after he was accused of going to Las Vegas with a woman whose divorce he’d signed.

Georgia has 49 judicial circuits and each has its own chief Superior Court judge. Since the beginning of 2010, six chief judges have stepped down while under investigation for ethical lapses. A seventh was reprimanded for a drunken-driving charge.

“Some people who should not be judges get in judicial office and think they can do anything,” said Stephen Bright, senior counsel for the Southern Center for Human Rights and a Yale Law School professor. “This does not say anything good about these judges or the process that put them on the bench.”

On the other hand, he said, “It does indicate that the Judicial Qualifications Commission continues to do an outstanding job protecting Georgia from unethical, dishonest judges.”

The state needs a less-political, merit-based selection process of judges to ensure that more people appointed to the bench have the integrity and ethical standards to sit as a judge, Bright said.

In Georgia, a lawyer can become a Superior Court judge by defeating an incumbent in an election, winning an election for an open seat or being appointed by the governor when a vacancy becomes available. Georgia’s governor picks the members of the panel that screens candidates for judicial vacancies and sends him a short list of recommendations.

Although other states do not give the governor such control over the selection process, there have been no legislative proposals in recent years to change the way Georgia goes about appointing judges.

Atlanta lawyer Kenneth Shigley, president of the State Bar of Georgia, acknowledged that the steady stream of judges leaving the state’s bench doesn’t look good.

No shit!

But back to Ms. Farahany’s question…

How should we interpret these results? Could the Northern District of Georgia be facing far more frivolous suits than other jurisdictions? Perhaps, although it’s hard to believe that’s a complete answer. I, for one, would like to know how these results compare to summary dismissal of other types of claims in the same jurisdiction. Assuming that the rate of summary dismissal for employment discrimination claims differs from dismissal of other civil claims, should we infer some implicit (or explicit) bias is happening here.? [Other studies suggest implicit bias in the adjudication of employment discrimination cases – see e.g. pp. 1154-63 of Implicit Bias in the Courtroom)]. If so, plenty of neuropsychological studies show that merely presenting judges with the facts may help to de-bias them and enable them to better address meritorious (assuming there are some) claims.

I think she should take a look at the examples shown in the state superior courts, and investigate the lack of cases being prosecuted by North Georgia District Attorneys. There is a huge amount of good old boy back and forth going around. I know first hand of bank embezzlement and theft of tax funds that did not get prosecuted by our DA. There is a big stink going on now in my county about possible millions in missing SPLOST monies and questions regarding the county commissioner, the judges that Governor Deal appointed to replace the two who “resigned” and who is greasing who. But…all that is just speculation. Anyway, take a look at that study, y’all may find it interesting.

In other rape culture news….UConn Failed To Investigate Sexual Assault Reports And Protect Victims, Complaint Claims You can go and read the article at the link. It is pretty much the same story…

This next article is a bit of sad news for those of us who suffer from insomnia: Poor sleep tied to Alzheimer’s-like brain changes

Oh, and then there is this Hitchhiking virus confirms saga of ancient human migration

A study of the full genetic code of a common human virus offers a dramatic confirmation of the “out-of-Africa” pattern of human migration, which had previously been documented by anthropologists and studies of the human genome.

The under study, type 1 (HSV-1), usually causes nothing more severe than cold sores around the mouth, says Curtis Brandt, a professor of medical microbiology and ophthalmology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Brandt is senior author of the study, now online in the journal PLOS ONE.

When Brandt and co-authors Aaron Kolb and Cécile Ané compared 31 of HSV-1 collected in North America, Europe, Africa and Asia, “the result was fairly stunning,” says Brandt.

“The viral strains sort exactly as you would predict based on sequencing of human genomes. We found that all of the African isolates cluster together, all the virus from the Far East, Korea, Japan, China clustered together, all the viruses in Europe and America, with one exception, clustered together,” he says.

“What we found follows exactly what the anthropologists have told us, and the molecular geneticists who have analyzed the human have told us, about where humans originated and how they spread across the planet.”

Whenever I hear the words “herpes simplex ‘ten‘” I think of that scene in Beverly Hills Cop:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HmNJ03s2ZuM

Hey, are you ready for this? It is another link from AJC…New underwear filters flatulence | News To Me with George Mathis

Nothing spoils romance quite like flatulence.

Fortunately, military technology, the same stuff behind the Slinky, Silly Putty and nuclear warheads, has helped create fart-proof underpants.

An article by The New York Daily News that was likely written by someone in marketing says the “award-winning healthcare product is particularly useful for sufferers of digestive disorders such as IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), Crohn’s disease, Colitis and food intolerances.”

But a photo of a beautiful woman shoving her scentless derriere into a happy man’s face illustrates the true purpose of the nigh-magical undergarments — it’s finally safe for humans to socialize like dogs.

As might be expected, the military-industrial complex has created a product as potent as any bomb dropped by a chili dog-eating husband who has given up on anything more emotionally complex than fantasy football. The aforementioned press release … I mean article … says Shreddies (that’s the name of these things) can effectively blunt the assault of a gas “200 times the strength of the average flatus emission.”

Here is the picture from the NYDN article:

Don't believe the claims? Test the odorless undies yourself with a sniff.

Don’t believe the claims? Test the odorless undies yourself with a sniff.

The thin and flexible cloth, which contains Zorflex — the same activated carbon material used in chemical warfare suits — is reactivated simply by washing the pants…

Seriously? WTF!!!!!  So underwear made of the same stuff they make hazmat suits out of…go figure.

And if those anti-fart knickers don’t get you going, maybe this will…just in time for Halloween, a sort of ghost story…haunted houses: Who died in your house? Here’s how to find out – The Washington Post

At least five people have died in my house. Three of them were children.

One of them was a Union soldier who had lost the hearing in his right ear to a musket ball he took in the head during the Battle of Sailor’s Creek, years after a career as a Capitol Hill police officer and Navy Yard clerk.

Was his Irish wake in our living room? Or in the dining room? Did he die in the master bedroom? Or the room that’s now our home office?

These are the joys and sorrows of an old house. And in the nation’s capital, where various degrees of stupid and scandalous always bookend the inspiring and historic, lots of people wish their old walls could talk.

This story goes on, give it a quick read…but I want to get down to the point.

USA Today did a story just this weekend on DiedInHouse.com , a Web site that compiles public records to help you decide whether those noises you’re hearing at night may actually be the guy who died in the basement.

“Yeah, that’s the kind of information we do find,” said the next very important person on the home-history research tour, Bruce Yarnall, operations and grants manager for the city’s Historic Preservation Office. “Doing historical research is like lifting up a rock.”

He remembered guiding one owner “who was horrified” when the paper trail led to a death in the home. “And we had another patron who was absolutely thrilled to learn that there were suicides in the basement and the attic of the house.”

Yarnall is better than a Ouija board for finding out whether that creak you hear in the hallway at night is a restless spirit.

I am so tempted to see if our old, old house in New Preston, CT has any hits on DiedInHouse.com. I bet it does! That house was built in 1823, but the foundation had hand hewn logs with a date of 1750 scratched into them. That house was haunted. I know it.

Well, you have a good day…and tell me, what are you reading about, and let’s hear what you’re thinking about too.


Tuesday Afternoon Reads: Fun in Festering Fitzwalkerstan, Fakes for Caveat Emptor, and Yoko Ono is 80?

Dying Camellias 1 Here in the Fitzwalkerstan, epicenter of the NeoConfederate North, we live the good life by clinging to a barbarian code not unlike that of this famous thief: Conan, what is the best in life (see video below).

At one time, we were known as the home of Progressivism, then we were Wisconsin. But since 2010 we’ve acquired a new character and a new appellation: Fitzwalkerstan.

Our new name is an affectionate conjunction referencing the subsumption of our state by simulacrum Scott Walker, mimicking a Governor, aided by his aping sibling-minions, the Fitzgerald brothers: Scott, State Senate Majority Leader and Jeff, Speaker of the Assembly. After a failed U.S. Senate bid, losing out to Tammy Baldwin, Jeff has since left the Assembly – sort of. He’s now a state lobbyist for American Traffic Solutions. We all miss him. We miss the bare fisted nepotism when Walker had the Fitzgerald brothers heading up both branches of the state legislature, gumming up the government and retooling it for their own ends.

Jeff’s departure for the revolving door didn’t diminish the pace or the agenda, however. Scott Walker has since run rough shod over what was once Wisconsin. Given he spends more time out of state than in, it’s kind of crazy that he can get so much done. But where there’s a will there’s a way as they say. Cognitive Dissidence, one our local blogs recently compiled a short list of Walker’s achievements:

Dying Camellias

I would assume that the protests which erupted in Madison, our state capitol, and the subsequent Lincoln-like flight of our Democratic legislators escaped no one’s attention in 2011. These are the events that put Scott Walker, the Rock Star, on the map. His celebrity status may have faded a little bit by now, but it had just erupted in February of 2011 when he “dropped the bomb” by unleashing the union-busting atrocity known as Act 10.  And a rock star he was, indeed, at the Tea Party Patriots American Policy Summit, occurring ever so fortuitously at the end of February. But no one paid attention to that event despite Scott Walker being a gushed at guest speaker. I believe I alluded to the summit in a comment at one point, and I believe I also pasted the poem I wrote in response to it. I mention it again because Dakinikat wisely warned us that what happens in Louisiana can happen anywhere. Right she was.

The Tea Party Patriots American Policy Summit occurred over a three day period. I did not attend. I did watch the majority of it piece meal when the Tea Party Patriots still had the stream posted on their website. It was painful. It was ghastly. But it was worth it. By the end of that terrible weekend, the summit had outlined every nasty maneuver the GOP has initiated during their reign of terror in DC and in statehouses across the country. From hostage politics, shut-downs, voter disenfranchisement, the war on women… all laid out in its hideous glory. A grand strategy with a tactical mechanism to make it happen at every level of government. I’ve watched the goals of that summit play out over the last two years in my state, many others, and certainly in DC. Walker and Jindal operate from the same playbook reflecting the strategy laid out  at the Tea Party summit in 2011.

The Cognitive Dissidence post begins by referencing Mike Tate, chair of the Wisconsin Democratic Party.  Tate has adopted Howard Dean’s 50 state-strategy, and is applying it to our 72 counties. I hope it will work. When I think on the Dean strategy I think more of the South than I do our NeoConfederate North. Perhaps this is the strategy that can turn the South from red to blue? This is probably a topic that has received coverage already, but if anyone could speak to it now, I’d be extremely interested in a discussion about Southern political dynamics, also bruising the Red West until it is a lovely shade of blue or blue-green.

Digression alert: Blue-green is sacred to Wadjet, Ancient Goddess of Lower Egypt. No Egyptian deities had names that could ever be uttered, so no one knows their true names. Wadjet, the epithet and the color refer to the color of papyrus hence her epithet, Wadjet, means Papyrus-Colored One. That’s a digression which hasn’t anything at all to do with shifting political landscapes, I mentioned it because blue-green always reminds me of the Wadjet color, and I think Wadjet is pretty groovy, and I think I want my own epithet. Maybe She-Who-Digresses would be fitting.

Now might be a good time to explain the photos. They are part of a series of photographs I call “Dying Camellias.” Though, they’re not camellias. They’re peonies. I photographed thousands over 2 seasons during various stages of decay. I love the decay process, and peonies have an exceptionally bizarre decay process. I include them because this post is about the process of decay.

We see it in my state inflicted by Scott Walker and the Wisconsin GOP. But Walker really can’t muster an original thought in his head. He hasn’t the capacity for complex thought let alone strategy. He dropped out of college or was kicked out for substandard performance; he doesn’t speak about it so no one knows which is the more accurate.

He’s one of the most inarticulate politicians ever, yet his predigested talking points, no matter how inarticulately executed, work phenomenally well. And they get regurgitated by the populace. It’s an astounding phenomenon to observe. Yet, he has improved due to what I suspect is the same grooming Paul Ryan received for the presidential stage. I think that polish has a distinct cast recognizable as the Koch-sheen.

I believe Walker’s talking points take on the same gleam, and his obfuscating rhetoric succeeds because he speaks the secret language of conservative dog whistles, a language any conservative anywhere in the U.S. would hear. Those are the dog whistles of the right wing political machine that is moving across the land. It’s the same machine that has groomed Scott Walker from an utter buffoon to a skillful politician and the very same cookie-cutter homogenization juggernaut steamrolling over all 50 states. It  is as coordinated an effort as it gets. It is, itself, a process of national decay fueled by regression.

The strategy – the Tea Party strategy – is fusing the Libertarian and Evangelical wings of the Right.  In the long run, I don’t think that strategy will work, these two factions aren’t natural allies. I think we can already see the bonds decaying between more traditional Conservatives like Chris Christie and Libertarian wingnuts like Rand Paul. Yet, to use an appropriate epithet – the Political-Machine-That-Festers will initiate long-term rot if the rot machine continues unabated. The pace of rot since the 2010 sweep, no doubt, indicates the desire to do as much agenda-cementing as fast as possible prior to their demographic death. On that note, hear hear to a little festering! Let the beauty of decay begin!

dying cams z14 8x10

Speaking of swindlers and shenanigans, I love this:

‘Caveat Emptor’: An Art Exhibit Made Entirely Of Forgeries Confiscated By The FBI (PHOTOS)

I must admit I’m torn by the question posed:

 Should exceptionally executed forgeries have a value all their own? How much should an artists’ name affect the worth of a work?

Also on the art front: one who doesn’t seem in decline or decay is Yoko Ono, whose diverse art platforms spanning fifty years of expression went on display at Louisiana’s Museum of Modern Art in June. The exhibit, commemorating Yoko’s 80th birthday, runs until September 29. Should any of our Southern Sky Dancing sisters make their way to the exhibit, I should very much like a review! Admittedly, I’ve never concluded an aesthetic opinion on Yoko Ono’s work. At the same time, one can’t deny she is a dynamic woman worthy of a level of respect she has not perhaps received in decades past, yet absolutely deserving of mention in a post about decay – she’s weathering her withering well.

A look at Yoko Ono’s 50-year career « AMA

YOKO ONO HALF-A-WIND SHOW – Louisiana Museum of Modern Art

And you, Sky Dancers, what is now upon your minds? What questions occupy your thoughts today?


Thursday Reads: Rainbows, Wildfires, Gangsters, Spies, and Superheroes

Double rainbow over Boston, evening of June 12, 2013

Double rainbow over Boston, evening of June 12, 2013

Good Morning!!

Isn’t that a gorgeous photo? There was a double rainbow over Boston last night, and quite a few people took photos and videos of it. Here’s another shot of it over the harbor and seaport.

Double rainbow harbor

You can see more views of it here.

Some people said the rainbow must be a positive sign for the Boston Bruins, who are in the Stanley Cup playoffs against the Chicago Blackhawks. It didn’t work out that way though. The Blackhawks ended up winning game one, after what seemed like an endless triple-overtime hockey game.

In other local news, yesterday was the first day of the trial of 83-year-old Irish gangster James “Whitey” Bulger. Opening statements were apparently riveting. It’s a shame the federal courts won’t allow TV cameras, because this trial is going to be an incredible show. Yesterday both sides gave their opening statements. From The Washington Post:

BOSTON — The trial of James “Whitey” Bulger, the Irish mob boss who allegedly helped scratch out 19 lives and ran this city’s underworld aided by corrupt FBI agents, got underway Wednesday morning almost 20 years after he fled the city on the eve of his indictment.

Now 83 and with just a bit of white hair left, Bulger wore a long-sleeve green shirt and jeans and listened without displaying any reaction as prosecutors laid out their 32 charges against him in a packed South Boston federal courtroom near the gangster’s old hangouts.

“It’s a case about organized crime, public corruption and all types of illegal activities,” federal prosecutor Brian Kelly said during opening statements. “He was no ordinary leader. He did the dirty work himself. He was a hands-on killer.”

Kelly told the story of one of Bulger’s alleged murder victims, Arthur “Bucky” Barrett, who prayed for his life before he was led to a cellar stairwell. “Barrett’s going downstairs to lie down for a while,” Bulger told an accomplice. Barrett walked down the stairs, and Bulger shot him the back, Kelly said.

Bulger’s rise as the city’s brutal organized crime leader was aided and abetted by corrupt FBI agents, who brushed off Bulger’s racketeering and violence in exchange for his help as an informant to bring down the local mafia, according to a lengthy ruling by a federal judge and other investigations.

On the defense side, (Hartford Courant)

Bulger lawyer Jay Carney made it clear in his remarks to the jury that much of the crime boss’s defense will be spent trying to discredit the government’s three chief witnesses. They are close former Bulger associates who agreed to turn on him for leniency or other considerations.

Carney argued to the jury that the three — John Martorano, Stephen Flemmi and Kevin Weeks — will say whatever they think the government wants in order to protect their cooperation agreements. Among other things, he said, they are accusing Bulger of their crimes.

Martorano was sentenced to 14 years in prison for 20 murders. Weeks, once a Bulger protégé, got a shorter sentence for less serious offenses. Flemmi, Bulger’s long-time partner, got a life sentence, but was not exposed to possible death sentences for crimes in Florida and Oklahoma related to the gang’s attempt to takeover World Jai Alai, once one of the country’s largest pari-mutuel businesses.

Carney compared the federal prosecutors to chefs and the three witnesses to elaborately prepared meals.

‘What [we] are going to try to do is show you what happens in the prosecutors’ kitchen before the witness comes out,” Carney said.

I guess I’ve bored you with enough Boston news for today. Let’s see what’s happening in the rest of the world. Read the rest of this entry »