Yes, it seems that Halloween is coming early this year. All around us we see tricks being played out. Some are the sort of tricks played on people who must really be dumb as dirt to fall for them.
Progressives and libertarians came together in Washington on Saturday to protest widespread government surveillance, taking a tentative step towards creating a coalition that isn’t as awkward as the pairing might appear.
Organized by the coalition Stop Watching Us, which includes dozens of groups ranging from Internet freedom advocates to Tea Party organizations, the rally attracted hundreds of people to the Capitol Reflecting Pool to protest the electronic surveillance by the National Security Agency revealed by Edward Snowden this year. The crowd included Occupy protesters, Ron Paul libertarians, and even strict constitutionalist Oathkeepers. Yet despite some recent grumbling on the left about having to work with libertarians on the issue, attendees and speakers on both sides said they were happy to unite around a common enemy.
Seriously, who the hell would want to be associated with those crazy-ass Oathkeepers? (That link goes to a page over at Southern Poverty Law Center, Oathkeepers are a hate group you know…) Actually, these are not dumb people, that would be an insult to the stupid folks that do have low IQ as an excuse to become partnered with assholes like Ron Paul. So who spoke at this thing?
Onstage, speakers ranged from progressives like former congressman Dennis Kucinich to libertarians like Johnson and Rep. Justin Amash, as well as NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake and Jessalyn Radack of the Government Accountability Project, who visited Snowden in Russia two weeks ago and read a statement attributed to him for the crowd. Snowden was a central figure in absentia at the protest, with most people holding signs or wearing t-shirts emblazoned with his face.
The article says the rally was mostly “libertarian” in nature…but these are a few of the quotes you should not miss:
A recent article in Salon by progressive journalist Tom Watson had ruffled feathers by calling on liberals to boycott the really[sic] because of its libertarian elements. “I cannot support this coalition or the rally,” Watson wrote. “It is fatally compromised by the prominent leadership and participation of the Libertarian Party and other libertarian student groups; their hardcore ideology stands in direct opposition to almost everything I believe in as a social democrat.” Watson described the Stop Watching Us coalition as “fatally infected.”
Code Pink’s Medea Benjamin rejected this premise in an interview with BuzzFeed next to the main speaker’s stage .
“Left and right doesn’t mean anything anymore,” Benjamin said. Democrats and Republicans, she said, “both like the status quo. Libertarians or leftists are people who want to defend the values of this country and not have party politics and I think we’ve started coming around together on many of these issues.”
“I think that strange bedfellows around particular issues is the way that change has happened throughout history,” she said.
Uh…first off, that Medea Benjamin needs to STFU. Its sounds to me like she is fatally ridiculous. I got a question for her. If left and right doesn’t mean anything anymore…How does she feel about the way the “right” values her uterus? Hmmmm…..lets see her libertarian friends get out and defend that part of this country…the 50 percent vagina part!
But wait, and hear it from an actual idiot himself, here’s another quote:
By all appearances at the Stop Watching Us rally, they did — though a bit warily. John McGloin, an Occupy protester from New York who described himself as a “sometimes” progressive, said he could accept working with libertarians to try and curtail government surveillance as long as they weren’t “people who think we should all fend for ourselves — that’s where I draw the line.”“We definitely need all the help we can get,” McGloin said.
Alright, up next: A few items on Rural America.
From the “You might be a redneck” theme of news reports, really the headline should say it all: Georgia man runs into burning home to save beer | abc13.com
COLUMBUS, GA (KTRK) — “I went back into the house like a dummy.” That’s what one man in Georgia said after he risked his life to save beer from his fridge while his house was on fire.
The flames broke out while six adults and two young children were watching TV. Everyone quickly made it outside safely.
But then Walter Serpit, who walks with a cane, rushed back into the burning building to save something near and dear to him.
“I told them to get the kids out and everything, and me myself, being an alcoholic, I was trying to get my beer out,” he said. “You feel me?”
Now, remember what I said up top about the folks who have a real excuse for partnering with those libertarian assholes? You feel me?
Walter made it out with a couple of cold ones, and the fire department made a statement that you should never run back into a burning building…period.
That story is actually sad and pathetic.
More bad news on the Obamacare front, from the New York Times: Health Care Law Fails to Lower Prices for Rural Areas
As technical failures bedevil the rollout of President Obama’s health care law, evidence is emerging that one of the program’s loftiest goals — to encourage competition among insurers in an effort to keep costs low — is falling short for many rural Americans.
While competition is intense in many populous regions, rural areas and small towns have far fewer carriers offering plans in the law’s online exchanges. Those places, many of them poor, are being asked to choose from some of the highest-priced plans in the 34 states where the federal government is running the health insurance marketplaces, a review by The New York Times has found.
Of the roughly 2,500 counties served by the federal exchanges, more than half, or 58 percent, have plans offered by just one or two insurance carriers, according to an analysis by The Times of county-level data provided by the Department of Health and Human Services. In about 530 counties, only a single insurer is participating.
The analysis suggests that the ambitions of the Affordable Care Act to increase competition have unfolded unevenly, at least in the early going, and have not addressed many of the factors that contribute to high prices. Insurance companies are reluctant to enter challenging new markets, experts say, because medical costs are high, dominant insurers are difficult to unseat, and powerful hospital systems resist efforts to lower rates.
“There’s nothing in the structure of the Affordable Care Act which really deals with that problem,” said John Holahan, a fellow at the Urban Institute, who noted that many factors determine costs in a given market. “I think that all else being equal, premiums will clearly be higher when there’s not that competition.”
And that means that for those people who live out in areas like Banjoville, they are going to be hit with higher premiums because of lack of competition.
In rural Baker County, Ga., where there is only one insurer, a 50-year-old shopping for a silver plan would pay at least $644.05 before federal subsidies. (Plans range in price and levels of coverage from bronze to platinum, with silver a middle option.) A 50-year-old in Atlanta, where there are four carriers, could pay $320.06 for a comparable plan. Federal subsidies could significantly reduce monthly premiums for people with low incomes.
Counties with one carrier are mostly concentrated in the South. Nearly all of the counties in Mississippi and Alabama, for example, are served by just one insurer, according to The Times’s analysis. Other states with scarce competition include Maine, West Virginia, North Carolina and Alaska.
That is a long article, and there is an interactive map at the link too, so take a look at it.
Since we are on the subject of healthcare, what about an article on madness…with a witchy twist: 7 Countries That Still Kill Accused Witches
You know how the long-ago witch hunts were stupid and hateful? What a relief those days are over.
Except they’re not. In many countries, people are still killed on suspicion of witchcraft. United Nations experts cautioned in 2009 that murders of women and children accused of sorcery were on the rise. Following are just a few of many examples from around the world.
1. Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia’s religious police department has an official Anti-Witchcraft Unit that it dispatches to catch sorcerers and break their spells. In 2007, the Saudis executed an accused sorcerer. A woman awaiting the death penalty for alleged witchcraft died in prison.
Like the New England witch hunters of yore, those in Saudi Arabia use magic as a convenient excuse to silence inconvenient people. Accusations of sorcery have been leveled against foreign women working as domestics for Saudi families who charge their employers with sexual assault, according to Saudi Arabia expert Christoph Wilcke.
This east African country killed approximately 600 elderly women on charges of witchcraft just two years ago. The Pew Forum on Religious and Public Life found a strong and pervasive belief in magic among Tanzanians. It sometimes leads to reverence rather than murder. One woman who claims to be a witch charges between $20 and $120 for services including medical cures and exorcisms — in a country where the average income is under two dollars a day.
The other five countries are more disturbing in their descriptions, so you can read them at the link if you like.
Hey, since that last article was on the morbid side, let’s have another: What would you choose for your last meal? Final food choices of executed criminals revealed… and they throw up a few oddball selections
Florida has revealed the final food choices of executed criminals, throwing up a number of eccentric final meals in the process.
While many of those spending their last day alive decide to go for the final indulgence of a heaving plate of fatty, fried food and a giant bowl of ice cream, others opt for more Spartan fare – requesting homemade sandwiches or just a simple cup of coffee.
That is one you need to click and read. Wow….
I want to bring you updates on a few other stories that we have discussed on the blog the past couple of weeks, and this will be in a link dump:
New York civil rights leaders on Saturday decried the city’s brewing “shop-and-frisk” scandal, in which major retailers Barneys and Macy’s are accused of profiling black shoppers who say they were detained by police after buying luxury items.
A magistrate court judge in Tennessee who forced a couple to change the name of their child from Messiah to Martin has been cited for religious bias by a state ethics panel and will face a disciplinary hearing.
Lu Ann Ballew, a child support magistrate in Cocke County of eastern Tennessee, had been settling a dispute about child support and the last name of Messiah Deshawn MCCullough, the child of Jaleesa Martin, and Jawaan McCullough. Neither parent had expressed interest in changing the child’s first name.
Several weeks ago, on September 24th, Popular Scienceannounced that it would banish comments from its Web site. The editors argued that Internet comments, particularly anonymous ones, undermine the integrity of science and lead to a culture of aggression and mockery that hinders substantive discourse. “Even a fractious minority wields enough power to skew a reader’s perception of a story,” wrote the online-content director Suzanne LaBarre, citing a recent study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison as evidence. While it’s tempting to blame the Internet, incendiary rhetoric has long been a mainstay of public discourse. Cicero, for one, openly called Mark Antony a “public prostitute,” concluding, “but let us say no more of your profligacy and debauchery.” What, then, has changed with the advent of online comments?
Anonymity, for one thing. According to a September Pew poll, a quarter of Internet users have posted comments anonymously. As the age of a user decreases, his reluctance to link a real name with an online remark increases; forty per cent of people in the eighteen-to-twenty-nine-year-old demographic have posted anonymously. One of the most common critiques of online comments cites a disconnect between the commenter’s identity and what he is saying, a phenomenon that the psychologist John Suler memorably termed the “online disinhibition effect.” The theory is that the moment you shed your identity the usual constraints on your behavior go, too—or, to rearticulate the 1993 Peter Steiner cartoon, on the Internet, nobody knows you’re not a dog.
I’ve got a few on Fukushima alone:
Some of those are long articles, so they will take some time.
What did our ancestors sound like in the 50th century B.C.? University of Kentucky linguistics lecturer Andrew M. Byrd examines ancient Indo-European languages (such as Latin, Greek, Sanskrit and Old English) and the language from which they derive, Proto-Indo-European, or PIE.
PIE is the prehistoric ancestor of hundreds of languages, including English, Spanish, Greek, Farsi, Armenian, and more. The language is typically thought to have been in use around 7,000 years ago, though some suspect it was spoken at an even earlier time.
According to some archaeologists and the majority of linguists like Byrd, the people who spoke PIE were located just to the north of the Black Sea and were likely the first to tame horses, and perhaps even to invent the wheel.
The primary focus of Byrd’s work is to understand what this language would have sounded when it was spoken millennia ago. Byrd says this all begins by looking at similarities in other languages.
“We start by gathering words, such as ‘king,’ from languages that we think are related and then find the common threads among them,” he said. “When you bring these words together, you’ll see that all of the words meaning ‘king’ or ‘ruler’ begin with something like an ‘r’ followed by a long vowel. Through examining trends in each language, you can tell which parts of the word have changed over time, and working backward from that … you can peer into the past and get an idea of what PIE might have sounded like.”
I know that BB worked with language in children for her doctorate, so that article will be something cool for her to read about. This second one will be just a joke…because she is my number one when it comes to grammar…and boy do I need her help…
Are you forever trolling the internet, commenting on posts with incorrect grammar? Do your friends consider you a “Grammar Nazi?” Well, you better put your money where your mouth is, and test your grammar skills using Grammatically Speaking, a quick little grammar game we found online!
Grammatically Speaking tests all your grammar know-how, from proper punctuation, to the proper use of “that” or “which” in a sentence. Our favorite part of the test is that it shows you what percentage of users got each question wrong – for example, people are particularly terrible at “it’s” vs. “its” and when to use “me” vs. “I.”
It is fortunate that I have BB to come and fix my post when my grammar is way…way off the mark. I tend to write like I talk, and then I never could grasp all that proper English stuff anyway.
This is all I have for you this morning. Have a wonderful day, and please leave a comment or two below…so, what are you thinking and reading about today?
This past week I was watching TCM, and realized just how whacked out this world has become. Well, not this world, more specifically our world…here in the US.
Here is what I mean…while watching Anna and the King of Siam, the one with Irene Dunn and Rex Harrison, one particular scene got me thinking.
Remember when the King summons Anna one late night, because he has a question to ask her about the Bible and Moses claim of how long it took God to make the world ?
King: Mem, I think your Moses shall have been a fool.
King: Moses, Moses, Moses. I think he shall have been a fool. Here it stands, written by him: ‘The world was created in six days. ‘
King: Then what is your opinion of this thing as stated by Moses?
Anna: Your Majesty…the Bible was not written by men of science. It was written by men of faith. It was their explanation of the miracle of creation… which is just as great a miracle… whether it took six days or many centuries. I think science does not contradict the Bible. It has only made us more aware of how great the miracle was.
King: Well, I still think your Moses shall have been a fool. You may go.
I think the King would thing our current day GOP representatives are fools. What do you think?
I have to say, the GOP is not only “stupid” it is “crazy!”
Anyway, here are your links for today, the GOP has started blaming the Sequester on Obama…
From the Maddow Blog: The 2011 ransom note and the GOP’s sequester
A Republican National Committee spokesperson, echoing his party’s favorite new talking point, insists this is all President Obama’s fault.
Tim Miller obviously isn’t the only one making this argument. On the contrary, every speech, interview, and press release I’ve seen from GOP officials in recent weeks includes an obligatory reference to Obama having come up with the sequester.
This next link makes me thing that perhaps the GOP are not completely “stupid” by showing they are a little frightened of Ashley Judd making a run on Mitch McConnell. From Vanity Fair: Karl Rove, Apparently Not a Fan of Kiss the Girls, Launches Aggressive Anti–Ashley Judd Campaign
As evidenced by his embarrassing Election Night temper tantrum last fall, Karl Rove is not one to concede easily. Not when it comes to presidential elections; caloric restrictions, we guess; and completely speculative political runs by Hollywood figures. Proving the latter point, the Republican strategist’s American Crossroads Super PAC unveiled a digital ad against Ashley Judd on Wednesday. It has previously been reported that Judd is considering a senatorial run against Kentucky’s Mitch McConnell, the considerably less photogenic Senate minority leader who was voted the nation’s least popular senator late last year.
Emptywheel takes a look at a new law per Homeland Security: Every Laptop and Cell Phone in Detroit (and Dearborn) Can Be Searched at Will
I’m not really sure how Detroit is supposed to pursue an arts-based resurgence if the Department of Homeland Security maintains that it can seize any electronics along the nation’s borders — which extend 100 miles and therefore include the bulk of the population of Michigan.
This next link was very interesting, a quick look at the Dawes Act in relation to Labor Laws: This Day in Labor History: February 8, 1887 – Lawyers, Guns & Money
On February 8, 1887, President Grover Cleveland signed the Dawes Severalty Act into law. The Dawes Act created a process to split up Indian reservations in order to create individual parcels of land and then sell the remainder off to white settlers. One of the worst laws in American history, the Dawes Act is not only a stark reminder of Euro-American colonialism and the dispossession of indigenous peoples, but also of the role dominant ideas of work on the land have in promoting racist and imperialist ends.
We might not think of the Dawes Act as labor history. But I want to make the beginning of a case that it is absolutely central to American labor history, a point I will expand upon in the future. Labor history is not just unionism. It is histories and traditions of work. The Dawes Act was absolutely about destroying traditions of Native American labor and replacing it with European notions of rural work. That it did so while opening more land to white people was a central benefit.
Read the rest at the link.
Looks like that python hunt in the Everglades isn’t doing so hot: Florida Python Challenge Unsuccessful – Everglades Burmese Python Hunt Not Going Well
The idea for the competition — which ends on Sunday, the first day of the unloved Year of the Snake — was partially brain-fathered by Gov. Rick “I’ve ridden elephants — I’ve never tried to shoot one” Scott. The hope was to at least partially rid the land of the invasive Burmese pythons that have set up their own stronghold. The guy or team that grabs the most wins $1,500. The one who snags the longest, gets $1,000. Over 1,500 people from across the nation have waded into the park so far, and some, like the two dehydrated men, who are from Tennessee, have slept in their cars during the hunt. It costs them $25 to participate.
But even before the rescue, the competition hasn’t been going too well. As of Tuesday, only 50 had been captured. Not that it would’ve really mattered. As U.S. Geological Survey python expert Robert Reed told us a few weeks ago, “You won’t find any fewer than 10,000. But between 10,000 and 100,000? That’s anyone’s guess.”
Okay, from nasty snakes to cute puppies, Pooches on parade: man’s best dressed friend at carnivals across the world
Here’s a selection of dogs that are making a statement in dog parade sections of carnivals around the world.
Click here to view the gallery
Last night on Discovery, they had their show on The Giant Squid. This next article is also about squid, the flying kind…Revealed: the secret that makes flying squid faster than Usain Bolt
Scientists in Japan have calculated that squid can fly through the air faster than Usain Bolt can run, in a study that confirms the extraordinary aerial prowess of the edible mollusc.
A study based on photographs of flying squid in the Pacific Ocean estimates that they can reach a speed of up to 11.2 metres per second, which is significantly faster than the 10.31 metres per second that Bolt averaged in the 100 metre final at the London Olympics.
Over the past few years, a number of anecdotal accounts have emerged of squid streaking through the air above the sea for several metres and now a team of Japanese marine biologists have photographed them doing it en masse.
Be sure to take a look at that link, there are some images and diagrams that are so interesting…not only from the nature perspective, but also on aerodynamic and hydrodynamic levels as well.
We started this post talking about stupidity and now we end it with a few links about stupidity. The first one is real, Thieves jailed after losing £2m loot
Two inept thieves who stole Chinese artefacts worth £2m from a museum but then could not find where they had stashed them were handed lengthy jail sentences.
These guys couldn’t remember where they stashed the loot. Guess in real life there are crooks that are too dumb and stupid to become successful crooks.
Earlier this week TCM also had another great film, Big Deal on Madonna Street, which if anyone has a chance to see it…needs to see it. It is hilarious. An Italian film from back in the late 50′s, in fact this link below is from the New York Times original review of the film, published in November 23, 1960. Movie Review – Big Deal on Madonna Street – The Screen: Italian Parody of ‘Rififi’:'Big Deal on Madonna Street’ in Premiere Toto Among Bungling Burglars at the Paris –
A LONGTIME popular subject for vaudeville and music-hall farce, the butter-fingered burglar who thoroughly goofs while trying to rob a safe, is given a full-scale treatment and knocked out by a top name cast in the new Italian comedy, “The Big Deal on Madonna Street.” Directed by Mario Monicelli, one of the bright new directors on the Italian scene, this eventually explosive kit of cut-ups opened at the Fine Arts yesterday.
Obviously the film was calculated as an out-and-out parody of the French melodrama, “Rififi,” which was a bit in Italy. For the “big deal” referred to in that title (which was not the Italian title, by the way) is the contemplated burglary of a smalltime jeweler’s safe, and the fellows who conspire to do it try to lay out their plans in the same “scientific” fashion as did the robbers in that serious French film.
But, of course, they are not successful. In the first place, they have a terrible time getting all of their elements together and headed the same way. There’s that nice fellow (Marcello Mastroianni) who has a wife temporarily in jail and so has to mind the baby, which takes a lot of would-be burglar’s time. Then there’s the former prizefighter (Vittorio Gassman) who finds himself much more interested in the maid in the apartment through which the burglars will have to travel than he is in the burglary itself.
There’s the youngster (Renato Salvatori) who falls hopelessly and helplessly in love with the guarded sister of another of the conspirators (Tiberio Murgia), a Sicilian of hot and vengeful moods. There’s the little shrimp (Carlo Pisacane) who is forever concentrating on food. And finally there is the “expert,” a role that the wonderful Toto plays.
This “expert” acknowledged as a genius in the business of blowing safes, knows all the techniques, all the laws, all the loopholes and all the slang words for the chisels and drills. He gives an exquisite lecture (which nobody quite understands). But he gracefully takes a powder when it comes time to the job.
And when that time comes, everybody—everybody who is left—becomes all thumbs. They sneeze, drop their tools with a horrible clatter, they drill holes into water pipes that jet cold streams and they set up a monstrous apparatus with which they laboriously punch through a wall—into an easily accessible adjoining room. At that point, in the cold, gray morning, they all give up and go home.
It was sooooo damn good, see a few clips at the TCM link below, you will not be disappointed.
Well, I know this was a major link dump, but please enjoy these morning’s reads and try to stay warm. What are you reading and thinking about today?