Sunday Reads: Sinatra Suite and Other Distractions

British ballerina Moira Shearer in The Red Shoes (1948).

British ballerina Moira Shearer in The Red Shoes (1948).

Good Morning

Two days left, and if you are sick of all the campaign commercials on TV…then I think you will agree, we all could use some distractions.

For me this is going into week three of hell, so I have been up to my ass in distractions=QatQi

But I won’t bitch about the TCM blackout again…

So let’s just start the post with a link that got the whole post going.

From HuffPo: A Brief But Stunning Visual History Of Ballet In The 20th Century

As holiday season approaches, visions of sugar-plum fairies inevitably begin dancing in our heads. ‘Tis the time of “The Nutcracker,” and other classic ballet performances that countdown to a whole new season of dance across the world. In honor of the possibilities of the 2014-2015 season, we dug into the photographic archives of Getty and the Associated Press to find the most iconic snapshots of ballerinas and prima donnas over the ages.

Below is a brief but beautiful visual history of the art form, ranging from 1911 to 1999. From Vaslav Nijinsky to Benjamin Millepied, Anna Pavlov to Sylvie Guillem, the collection of vintage portraits gives a mostly black-and-white glimpse into over a century’s worth of ballet greats. Much has changed in terms of representation and body image over the years, and while we can only hope to see more diversity, it certainly shows in these images. Take a look and let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Vaslow Nijinsky

Vaslav Nijinsky (1890-1950) as the faun at the premiere of Ballet Russe’s production of “L’Apres-midi d’un Faune” at the Theatre du Chatelet Paris in May of 1912. (Photo by Edward Gooch/Edward Gooch/Getty Images)

 

It is brief, and they do miss out on a lot of artist…many from the 1970s, when there was a surge in professional dancers that really kicked some ass. So as you can see…I have added to the articles images throughout this thread. Enjoy the pictures of some of the best dancers evah! And be sure to watch the videos too, I bet you have never seen these performances. (Oh yeah, and keep a mental note of that picture of Nijinsky, because we will come back to it in a moment.)

Like this one, from 1984…it is Twyla Tharp’s Sinatra Suite:

Originally broadcast in 1984 over New York’s WNET/Thirteen on “Great Performances,” as part of the “Dance in America” series Baryshnikov Dances Sinatra and More… film. Mikhail Baryshnikov, along with members of American Ballet Theatre, dance three works choreographed by Twyla Tharp: “The Little Ballet,” “Sinatra Suite,” and “Push Comes to Shove.”

 

 

Damn that man could dance…mmmm, and he was gorgeous too.

Another production from the same year that I think you will enjoy…I have a two clips featured  below but you can see the entire show here: Evening at the Met – 1984 – YouTube  100th anniversary celebration at the Metropolitan Opera in New York. This performance took place on May 13, 1984.

And that picture of Nijinsky, well…in this 100th anniversary performance, Lillian Gish introduces  Nijinsky’s “Le Spectre de la Rose” danced by Patrick Dupond.


The ballet was first presented in Monte Carlo on 19 April 1911. Nijinsky danced The Rose and Tamara Karsavina danced The Young Girl. It was a great success. Spectre became internationally famous for the leap (jump) Nijinsky made through a window at the ballet’s end.

That alone is something you need to see. (Click on Lillian Gish name above…)

Along with that Huffpo link, here is a Buzzfeed post that has some beautiful images: Gorgeous Vintage Photographs Of Ballet Dancers

 

Alexandra Danilova, 1925. Joan Craven/Evening Standard / Getty Images

Alexandra Danilova, 1925. Joan Craven/Evening Standard / Getty Images

Many more at link.

Video time:

First up, two performers that were amazing together:

Marcia Haydee and Richard Cragun

My favorite of the bunch has to be Taming of the Shrew…

This is the performance from the 1984  Met show:

 

Here is their version of Romeo and Juliet:

 

 

Next up,

Manon Act I Pas de Deux – Antoinette Sibley & David Wall

 

Giselle Act II Pas de Deux – Alicia Alonso & Jorge Esquivel

 

Paloma Herrera and Angel Corella – Grand Pas de Deux  ”Don Quixote”

 

Le Grand Pas de Quatre 1/2 – Les Ballets Trockadero

 

Dammit…now I have to post some news shit. Okay. But I am going to be quick about it.

10f5c7b51a78bd6683d2cfcbd2bd4b5bBoko Haram: Kidnapped Girls Have Been Married Off, Truce Never Happened

A man claiming to be Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau said more than 200 girls kidnapped by the group six months ago had been “married off” to its fighters, contradicting Nigerian government claims they would soon be freed.

Nigeria’s military says it killed Shekau a year ago, and authorities said in September that they had also killed an imposter posting as him in videos. In the latest recording it is hard to see the man’s face as he his filmed from a distance.

But it is likely to raise grave doubts about whether talks between a Boko Haram faction and the government in neighboring Chad will secure the release of the girls, who were kidnapped from a secondary school in Chibok, northeast Nigeria, in April.

“We have have married them off and they are all in their husbands’ houses,” the man claiming to be Shekau says.

“The over 200 Chibok girls have converted to Islam, which they confess is the best religion. Either their parents accept this and convert too or they can die.”

The majority of the kidnapped girls were Christians.

Leslie Browne

Leslie Browne

Police seek driver in California hit and run that killed 3 trick-or-treaters | Reuters

Detectives continued their search on Saturday for the driver of an SUV who struck and killed three teenage girls trick-or-treating on Halloween in Southern California, and investigators were unsure who was behind the wheel of the vehicle, a police spokesman said.

The three girls, ranging in age from 13 to 15, were in costume and carrying candy bags when they were hit while crossing a street on Friday evening in Santa Ana, about 35 miles (55 km) south of Los Angeles.

Officers found the sports utility vehicle abandoned behind a nearby retailer, said Santa Ana police spokesman Corporal Anthony Bertagna.

Later on Friday night, police went to an address registered as the home of the vehicle’s owner, but the occupants of the house had no connection to the SUV, Bertagna said.

Detectives are unsure where the registered owner of the vehicle might be living, or whether the SUV had been stolen before the hit and run collision, he said.

I wonder if this was some sort of gang initiation thing…those kids were walking in the crosswalk when they were run over. Two of the kids were sisters, twins.

Marianna Tcherkassky. ABT

Marianna Tcherkassky. ABT

This caught my eye via Politics USA: Minority Voter Suppression In North Carolina Witnessed Firsthand

It is harder to vote in North Carolina these days. On June 25, 2013, the Supreme Court, in Shelby v. Holder, gutted a landmark provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. A majority of the justices struck down Article 5 of the Act, which had required federal preapproval of changes to voting practices in southern states. Eviscerating Article 5 effectively halted its protections and set the stage for sweeping efforts to disenfranchise minorities, women, the elderly and students. Six weeks later, emboldened by the Court’s ruling, the North Carolina General Assembly passed the nation’s most restrictive voting law all in the name of “preventing voter fraud.”

Marcia Haydée (born 18 April 1937) and Richard Cragun (5 October 1944 – 6 August 2012)  Stuttgart ballet, 28 November 1976. Photo by Serge Lido.

Marcia Haydée (born 18 April 1937) and Richard Cragun (5 October 1944 – 6 August 2012) Stuttgart ballet, 28 November 1976. Photo by Serge Lido.

Lawsuits challenging the law have been filed by various organizations including the NAACP, the League of Women Voters, the Southern Coalition for Social Justice and the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina. The ACLU and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice sought to have certain provisions of the law stayed until the trial scheduled for summer of 2015. The request for a stay was denied at the district court level, but the district court’s decision was reversed by a three judge panel at the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. On October 8, 2014, the Supreme Court struck down the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that had stayed many of the 2013 North Carolina’s laws restrictions thus instituting widespread voter suppression.

Read the rest…if you can.

Corina Dumitrescu b. 1970 Bucharest National Opera

Corina Dumitrescu b. 1970 Bucharest National Opera

In connection to the link above… Jim Crow returns | Al Jazeera America

Election officials in 27 states, most of them Republicans, have launched a program that threatens a massive purge of voters from the rolls. Millions, especially black, Hispanic and Asian-American voters, are at risk. Already, tens of thousands have been removed in at least one battleground state, and the numbers are expected to climb, according to a six-month-long, nationwide investigation by Al Jazeera America.

Gelsey Kirkland, Don Quixote

Gelsey Kirkland, Don Quixote

At the heart of this voter-roll scrub is the Interstate Crosscheck program, which has generated a master list of nearly 7 million names. Officials say that these names represent legions of fraudsters who are not only registered but have actually voted in two or more states in the same election — a felony punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison.

Until now, state elections officials have refused to turn over their Crosscheck lists, some on grounds that these voters are subject to criminal investigation. Now, for the first time, three states — Georgia, Virginia and Washington — have released their lists to Al Jazeera America, providing a total of just over 2 million names.

Gelsey again...

Gelsey again…

Ya got that? 2 miiiiiiiillllllliiiioooon names.

The Crosscheck list of suspected double voters has been compiled by matching names from roughly 110 million voter records from participating states. Interstate Crosscheck is the pet project of Kansas’ controversial Republican secretary of state, Kris Kobach, known for his crusade against voter fraud.

Alvin Ailey

Alvin Ailey

The three states’ lists are heavily weighted with names such as Jackson, Garcia, Patel and Kim — ones common among minorities, who vote overwhelmingly Democratic. Indeed, fully 1 in 7 African-Americans in those 27 states, plus the state of Washington (which enrolled in Crosscheck but has decided not to utilize the results), are listed as under suspicion of having voted twice. This also applies to 1 in 8 Asian-Americans and 1 in 8 Hispanic voters. White voters too — 1 in 11 — are at risk of having their names scrubbed from the voter rolls, though not as vulnerable as minorities.

If even a fraction of those names are blocked from voting or purged from voter rolls, it could alter the outcome of next week’s electoral battle for control of the U.S. Senate — and perhaps prove decisive in the 2016 presidential vote count.

Antoinette Sibley as Manon and Anthony Dowell as Des Grieux in Manon Photo by Leslie E. Spatt

Antoinette Sibley as Manon and Anthony Dowell as Des Grieux in Manon Photo by Leslie E. Spatt

“It’s Jim Crow all over again,” says the Rev. Joseph Lowery, who cofounded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with Martin Luther King, Jr. Lowery, now 93, says he recognizes in the list of threatened voters a sophisticated new form of an old and tired tactic. “I think [the Republicans] would use anything they can find. Their desperation is rising.”

You know what that reminds me of, what this redneck says in this scene from Mississippi Burning:

 

 

Pertinent part starts around 0:35 min but the whole damn clip is good.

Juliet Doherty (photo by Joe Toreno for Dance Spirit)

Juliet Doherty (photo by Joe Toreno for Dance Spirit)

One more on race: Spike Lee: Idea that America is a post-racial society under Obama is ‘bullsh*t’

n an interview with Fusion TV, director Spike Lee dismissed the notion that America has become a post-racial society under a black president, calling the belief ‘bullsh*t.”

Speaking with Fusion host Jorge Ramos about race in America, Lee touched upon multiple subjects including the police chokehold death of Eric Garner in New York City and the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

Asked by Ramos what he tells his children about race in America, Lee replied “I don’t care who you are, if you’re African-American in this country, you know know what the deal is.”

Prompted to elaborate by Ramos, Lee continued.

Chris Farley. Look at that turnout!

Chris Farley. Look at that turnout!

“That you’re black. It just means that you’re black. And the people who get in trouble are the people who forget they’re black,” Lee explained. “You can’t just think I’m so successful that I’ve reached another realm. And I’m in a so-called post …” at which point Lee asked the audience for help remembering the term ‘post-racial’. “Yeah, that bullsh*t, where now that we have a black, African-American president that race no longer matters. And there are times, even today, it’s hard for me to catch a cab sometimes. In New York City.”

Asked by Ramos why, in 2014, incidents like the deaths of Garner and Brown by police officers still happening, Lee said, “There’s a big division for the police departments, I think, in this country, versus people of color.”

Addressing the death of Garner, Lee noted that the chokehold was banned over twenty years ago.

Alicia Alonso, Prima Ballerina

Alicia Alonso, Prima Ballerina

Lee said that, after seeing the video of Garner being held and choked to death by police officers,  he couldn’t help but notice the similarities to the chokehold that killed the character Radio Raheem (see video below), in his landmark 1989 film, Do The Right Thing.

In the film, the death of Raheem set off rioting and the destruction of the neighborhood.

Video at the link.

More right-wing shit: Arizona School Board Votes To Get Rid Of Textbook Pages That Discuss Abortion

An Arizona school district is making sure that students are not educated about abortion in biology class.

Boris Lipnitzki, Brigitte Bardot in Ballet Class, Paris, 1946

Boris Lipnitzki, Brigitte Bardot in Ballet Class, Paris, 1946

This week, Gilbert Public Schools’ governing board voted to remove pages from an honors biology textbook because the pages talk about mifepristone, a pill that can induce an abortion, reports local outlet 12 News. Members of the board contended that the pages violate a state statute, which prevents school districts from providing instruction that “that does not give preference, encouragement and support to childbirth and adoption as preferred options to elective abortion,” says the outlet.

The specific section in question is titled “Contraception can prevent unwanted pregnancy.” It says that “complete abstinence (avoiding intercourse) is the only totally effective method of birth control, but other methods are effective to varying degrees.” The passage, from the seventh edition of Campbell Biology: Concepts and Connections, goes on to describe the morning-after pill and mifepristone.

Why can’t these bible thumpers keep it to themselves.

Leslie Caron and Gene Kelly behind the scenes of “An American in Paris”

Leslie Caron and Gene Kelly behind the scenes of “An American in Paris”

The issue was first brought to the board’s attention after the conservative Christian organization, Alliance Defending Freedom, wrote a letter to the district’s superintendent in August, saying that the textbook violates state regulations, reports the outlet. The board voted 3-2 to redact the pages in question, although it is unclear whether the district will remove the specific pages or blacken unwanted passages, says local outlet KTVK-3TV.

Notably, the Arizona Department of Education previously reviewed the textbook and said it was not violating the state statute. An attorney for the district said the same, reports local outlet the East Valley Tribune. As a result, one of the board members who voted against changing the textbook, Lily Tram, called the move an example of censorship.

George Balanchine created Ballo della Regina on the famous ballerina Merrill Ashley. She is known for her speed, clarity of technique and attack in performing this joyous work.

George Balanchine created Ballo della Regina on the famous ballerina Merrill Ashley. She is known for her speed, clarity of technique and attack in performing this joyous work.

And how about this for thumping: FL Supreme Court removes judge for running Christian ministry business from her courtroom

What is it with these people?

There was almost a major accident in NYC: ‘Human Error’ Caused Drill to Hit Train — NYMag

On Thursday, a ten-inch construction drill bit pierced the ceiling of a subway tunnel near 21st Street–Queensbridge station, almost impaling a crowded F train. Luckily, the conductor hit the brakes when he felt the drill touch the train, and no one was hurt. How did this close call occur? According to MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz, someone screwed up.

Cynthia Gregory

Cynthia Gregory

“At this point in the investigation, the incident appears to have been caused by human error and doesn’t involve equipment malfunction,” Ortiz told the New York Daily News. That human is employed by Griffin Dewatering New England Inc., a contractor working on the East Side Access Project, which will eventually connect the Long Island Railroad to Grand Central. Ortiz also said that “officials have determined further drilling for the project isn’t needed,” which should be of some comfort to F train riders, who have been forced to put up with a lot lately.

Suzanne Farrell (in Don Quixote with George Balanchine, mid-60s)

Suzanne Farrell (in Don Quixote with George Balanchine, mid-60s)

And in world news:  Argentina asks Spain to arrest 20 Franco-era officials

An Argentine judge has asked Spain to arrest and extradite 20 former officials accused of abuses during the military rule of General Franco.

They cannot be tried in Spain because of an amnesty law but the officials could be prosecuted in Argentina.

Judith Jamison, 1970s, Alvin Ailey Dance Theater.

Judith Jamison, 1970s, Alvin Ailey Dance Theater.

The families of alleged victims asked Argentina for help because it has an extradition treaty with Spain.

In April, Spain’s high court refused to extradite to Argentina a former policemen accused of torture.

Judge Maria Servini de Cubria issued the arrest and extradition warrants for two former ministers of General Franco’s regime, and 18 other officials, invoking “universal jurisdiction” – a legal doctrine that authorises judges to try serious rights abused committed in other countries.

Cyd Charisse

Cyd Charisse

Using the doctrine, Spain briefly detained Chile’s former dictator Augusto Pinochet in 1998.

The two most prominent suspects in Judge Servini’s investigation are Rodolfo Martin Villa, 79, who was Franco’s interior minister, and Jose Uteri Molina, 86, who was housing minister.

Give that a read, it is interesting…I wonder how it will all turn out.

Some of you may have gotten a chance to see this flick on TCM, Louis Malle’s Elevator to the Gallows : moviemorlocks.com – Elevator to the Eyes of Jeanne Moreau

Here is a look at ” The study of mimicry shows a close relationship between scientific psychology and the theatre, says Tiffany Watt-Smith.”   :BBC News – The human copying machine

And our last link…Tower of London poppies: Why they make a fitting memorial – The Independent

Tube closures and warnings of a crush of visitors couldn’t keep half-term crowds from Paul Cummins’ ceramic poppies on Saturday.

Isadora Duncan

Isadora Duncan

It is easy to visualise each poppy as a death.

…shocking splashes of colour in the poppies installation – the bloody wave over the walls, the crimson stream flowing from a window, the narrow ribbon of red in the moat. But nothing prepared early spectators for what followed. In box after box, they arrived, ceramic flowers and stalks, assembled at random heights by volunteers, many too young to have known a relative involved in the First World War.

Every evening, when the Last Post was sounded and the names of the dead were read at dusk, the installation looked complete. And then came another vivid tide, and another, and another, relentless.

6dd3f610bd5544c30e212a10a6365444How do you remember 888,246 lives? We cannot take in the numbers, though we have seen enough news bulletins to know about mass deaths. To single out one soldier’s story helps us focus, but overlooks the rest. Live footage, fictional re-creations, cannot help us with the scale of loss. But it is easy to visualise each poppy at the Tower as a death, for we have grown up associating the flower with remembrance. We do not need to see a single face or coffin to feel a lump in the throat: we know how to love and grieve.

A solemn ending I know…but it is the beginning of November. The weather is dreary and cold and damp, we even had snow in Banjoville this weekend. And as for the Fall Foilage? There was none this year.   The leaves just turned to brown. Very depressing and such a let down. I hope it is not a premonition of things to come this Tuesday. We will be here to live blog the Election Day event, so please stop by  the blog. Otherwise, if you are around today, leave a comment or thought…and have a pleasant day.

Below are all the pictures in this post, plus a few I could not fit so give them a look if you like…


Friday Reads: Economic Anemia

Good Morning!

MuslinVoodooDoll-2Since I’m in the middle of revamping my course for Graduate Finance Students in International Finance and reviewing textbooks and the usual stuff, I thought I’d focus on the economy for the morning.

One of the most awful results of the Reagan years has been the creation of mainstream paranoia over policy using  data evident from the scientific method, intellectuals and academics that spend years researching and learning theory and empirical evidence, and the idea that government can’t ameliorate issues through policy but is somehow a potential enemy of the governed.

This kind of paranoid drivel used to be the realm of militia types like Clive Bunday and John Birchers like the Koch Brothers and father.  It had no place in mainstream discourse until Reagan started pumping up the idea that poor people game the government and the government games every one else.   Its now spread to Christian extremists, the NRA, and most of the Republic Party.

Let me give you the latest example of someone who is possibly going to be a Senator from Iowa.  Joni Ernst is doing the Sharon Angle thing of declaring any government issue she doesn’t like her potential enemy and any one supporting that view as a potential target of her nice little gun that she carries with her everywhere. 

Joni Ernst, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Iowa, said during an NRA event in 2012 that she would use a gun to defend herself from the government.

“I have a beautiful little Smith & Wesson, 9 millimeter, and it goes with me virtually everywhere,” Ernst said at the NRA and Iowa Firearms Coalition Second Amendment Rally in Searsboro, Iowa. “But I do believe in the right to carry, and I believe in the right to defend myself and my family — whether it’s from an intruder, or whether it’s from the government, should they decide that my rights are no longer important.”

Ernst made the remark a little more than a month after gunman James Holmes allegedly killed 12 people and injured 58 in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. Ernst’s campaign did not respond to The Huffington Post’s request for comment about the remark on Wednesday evening.

Earlier this year, Ernst released an ad in which she points a gun at the camera and vows to “unload” on Obamacare.

We’ve also experienced this massive attempt to rewrite secondary school textbooks and curricula to reflect the deeply held philosophical and religious views of these folks rather than theory or empirical evidence brought about by hundreds of years of research and scholarship.  This also ignores primary documents that show just the opposite to be factual.

But, facts be damned, there’s children’s minds to warp.  Biased ideas are not at the center of legitimate academic pursuit. Folks that follow agendas tend to live at the edges of universities and most departments are quite embarrassed by them. I spent time in a department where one research professor’s favorite pursuit was proving that iqs and brain sizes among varying races were the reason for underachieving groups in an economy.  All DNA evidence shows that race is a social construct but this guy spent a life time trying to show the relationship between brain sizes of races and incomes and jobs.  So, most time when you see folks that believe this stuff, they reside some where on the fringes.  However, since the Reagan years, there’s been a major attempt by right wing religious zealots to teach propaganda and there’s been a rather significant increase in the level of ignorance on things from incoming freshmen.

This is happening even in economics where you would think that paranoia about “communism” would’ve gone away since the fall of the USSR.  Not true, however.  They prefer to fear imagined boogey men and to set up  imagined fairy tale rescuers over doing policy that’s be proven effective in years of empirical study.

The standards’ authors are clearly fans of the free enterprise system, consistently emphasizing the advantage of American capitalism over other structures.

For example, the high school standards state that students should be able to “understand how the free enterprise system drives technological innovation and its application in the marketplace.” The middle school standards clearly promote free enterprise capitalism over other economic systems, saying that students should be able to “compare and contrast free enterprise, socialist, and communist economies in various contemporary societies, including the benefits of the U.S. free enterprise system.” Finally, the standards connect capitalism with the conservative ideal of limited government, asking students to be able to “explain why a free enterprise system of economics developed in the new nation, including minimal government intrusion, taxation, and property rights.”

It really takes very little time spent in economics to realize that political constructs are not economic constructs. For example, the United States economy was founded on Mercantilism which began with monopolies, charters, grants and largess of royalty and aristocracy.  The concepts of Capitalismimages (3) and of Communism had the same roots and they were a lot more philosophical than ever real.  Even, now, we have a modified market system.  There has never EVER been a “free market” system or “communism” in an economic sense.  Socialism is just one end of a modified market system and still relies heavily on private ownership of the majority of factors of production.  Most facets of government policy are to make a market behave closer to a free market model because it can’t possibly d0 so under one factor, characteristic, or situation that exists. I mean really, who wants to leave the market for uranium to the free market?  That’s just an extreme example.

The problem is that dogma has overtaken reality among folks that now find themselves in office.  It’s bad for the country.  It’s bad for business. It’s bad for nearly every one.  The one thing that’s becoming abundantly clear since the Clinton Presidency and definitely during the Obama Presidency is that the Democratic Party is the party of Wall Street and Big Business.  It’s not the Republicans.  No where is this more evident than economic reports written by the private sector.  Today’s Republicans scare the shit out of big business and finance.  The last few battles to keep the federal government and the deficit funded has nearly caused market meltdowns twice. You also don’t see them complain about increasing the minimum wage or decreasing the current level of income equality.  NO REALLY.   This means Chris Christie is really going to have some ‘splaining to do over this statement. 

Labor Secretary Tom Perez on Thursday panned New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s comments that he’s “tired” of the minimum wage debate.

“Chris Christie’s got his head in the sand if he’s getting tired about the minimum wage,” Perez said according to Bloomberg Politics.

President Barack Obama and Democrats have led the push to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10, and the issue has made its way onto the campaign trail this year.

“Chris Christie needs to talk to his economists, who will tell him that 70 percent of GDP growth is consumption,” Perez said Thursday.

The criticism came just days after Christie said he was “tired of hearing about the minimum wage” at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce conference on Tuesday.

“I really am,” the Republican governor and potential 2016 hopeful said. “I don’t think there’s a mother or a father sitting around the kitchen table tonight in America saying, ‘You know, honey, if our son or daughter could just make a higher minimum wage, my God, all of our dreams would be realized.’”

“Is that what parents aspire to for our children?” Christie asked. “They aspire to a greater, growing America, where their children have the ability to make much more money and have much great success than they have, and that’s not about a higher minimum wage.”

Before the Labor secretary chimed in, the remark drew fire from other Democrats, and White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest even quipped during a briefing Wednesday that people living on a minimum wage are those who are really tired.

Christie also used his time at the podium to make a 2016 prediction.

“I am convinced that the next president of the United States is going to be a governor,” Christie said. “We’ve had this experiment of legislating .. and getting on-the-job training in the White House. It has not been pretty.”

voodoo-doll-670So, this kind’ve talk is really making the economists of Wall Street and of huge corporations very nervous.  They’re quite aware that today’s Republican Party is tanking the economy.

Even though Republicans depict themselves as the party for business and banks, it turns out that the GOP’s economic policy is detrimental to their bottom lines and continued existence; particularly rising costs and stagnant wages since the Bush-Republican Great Recession. What both bankers and retailers really want instead of tax cuts, deregulation, and more Republican austerity and budget cuts are better incomes for all Americans that will lead to increased consumer confidence and greater purchasing power to trigger higher business profits. What they have learned after thirty years of “trickle-down” is that the trillions of dollars taken by the 1%, especially since 2009, have failed miserably to stimulate the economy. Instead, they demand more buying by the masses that Wall Street firms and analysis of 65 of the nation’s top retailers claim will only happen with, as President Obama preaches, growing the economy from the middle-out.

For example, in a report last month titled Inequality and Consumption, Morgan Stanley economists said, “Despite the roughly $25 trillion increase in wealth since the recovery from the financial crisis began, consumer spending remains anemic. Top income earners have benefited from wealth increases but middle and low income consumers continue facing structural liquidity constraints and unimpressive wage growth. To lift all boats, further increases in residential wealth and accelerating wage growth are needed.” Republicans completely disagree and either resist consideration of raising the minimum wage or promote abolishing it altogether. According to the Republicans, increasing income inequality must continue and it is crucial that they convince the population that no wage is too low. It is a belief the Koch brothers espouse but it is rapidly losing favor in circles whose survival depends on a population of consumers.

Standard and Poor’s (S&P) rating agency concurred with Morgan Stanley’s economists in their August report, How Increasing Income Inequality Is Dampening U.S. Economic Growth, And Possible Ways To Change The Tide, and strongly advised the federal government to create “a path toward more sustainable growth, that in our view, will pull more Americans out of poverty and bolster the purchasing power of the middle class. A rising tide lifts all boats…but a lifeboat carrying a few, surrounded by many treading water, risks capsizing.” To “lift all boats,” S&P suggests a “high degree of rebalancing” that includes increased “spending in the areas of education, health care, and infrastructure to help control the income gap that, at its current level, threatens the stability of an economy still struggling to recover.” Contrary to wisdom of real economists concerned with America’s economic survival, Republicans across the country have been laser-focused on their austerity crusade to cut spending on education, infrastructure, and healthcare including the cruel heartlessness of refusing free Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

Despite the call from both banks and businesses to increase the minimum wage and spending on essentials for a robust recovery, congressional Republicans have obstructed and outright blocked each and every attempt by the President and Democrats to stimulate the economy. Despite trailing every developed nation on Earth in infrastructure, Republicans consistently refuse the President’s calls to increase spending on desperately-needed infrastructure repairs including roads, bridges, public buildings, and sewers that numerous economists, including some highly respected conservatives, say is crucial for job-creation, increased consumer spending, and a vibrant recovery. Increased consumer confidence, and spending, is something all economists agree is for the good of the country’s economy but can only happen if incomes rise for the majority with higher wages and more well-paying jobs.

I’ve said this a million times but it’s true.  If you have an economy that’s 70% reliant on consumer spending for growth and 99% of the population has stagnant to falling real income, you’re going to run into trouble.  Especially since a huge part of that 99% spends high levels, all of, or beyond black-voodoo-dolltheir income and wealth levels.  Years and years of evidence has shown that consumers are the real job creators.  No business hires workers if no one is buying their goods and services.  Rich people–especially with some of the horrid changes we’ve had in the tax code during the Dubya years–are spending more and more of the income and wealth on gambling paper for paper profits.  This does not create anything of value in a real economy but it sure creates asset bubbles and the potential for financial meltdowns.   One has only to survey retailers to figure out the relationship between incomes of the middle and working classes and their bottom lines and their hiring plans.

Former Walmart U.S. CEO Bill Simon, whose company had seen consumer traffic drop for six straight quarters and same-store sales drop for five quarters, explained in July 2014 that “we’ve reached a point where it’s not getting any better but it’s not getting any worse—at least for the middle (class) and down.” Kip Tindell, CEO of the Container Store, put retailers’ feelings best when he said, “consistent with so many of our fellow retailers, we are experiencing a retail ‘funk.’” The culprit is obvious: low wage and income growth for the middle class. Median household income in 2013 stood 8 percentage points below its 2007 prerecession level.

The simple fact of the matter is that when households do not have money, retailers do not have customers. The failure of incomes to keep up with the growing cost of college, child care, and other middle-class staples leaves even less money for retail spending. A previous analysis by the Center for American Progress shows that this so-called “middle-class squeeze”—stagnant incomes and the growing cost of middle-class security—leaves the median married couple with two kids with $5,500 less to spend annually on food, clothes, and other essentials that retailers sell.

Or, as officials of J.C. Penney—whose sales fell 9 percent in 20136—put it when listing the risks to its stock value: “the moderate income consumer, which is our core customer, has been under economic pressure for the past several years.”

Moreover, retail spending—which includes spending on everything from clothing to groceries to dining out—has broad implications for the entire economy since it accounts for a large fraction of consumer spending, which itself makes up 70
percent of U.S. gross domestic product, or GDP.

Even Walmart is concerned even while not paying living wages, not providing good benefits, and not creating an environment where a worker feels secure about his/her future.  Now the weird thing is that fringe economists are still overly scared about inflation and high taxes.  These things, however, are not at the top of any one’s concerns that would be invited on any Fox News program.   Here’s a headline from Forbes: “Want a Better Economy? History Says Vote Democrat!”.  In 2012, a number of books evaluated the results of the economy under Democratic vs Republican administrations.  The results are startling.

Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan is attributed with saying “everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.“ So even though we may hold very strong opinions about parties and politics, it is worthwhile to look at historical facts. This book’s authors are to be commended for spending several years, and many thousands of student research assistant man-days, sorting out economic performance from the common viewpoint – and the broad theories upon which much policy has been based. Their compendium of economic facts is the most illuminating document on economic performance during different administrations, and policies, than anything previously published.

The authors looked at a range of economic metrics including inflation, unemployment, corporate profit growth, stock market performance, household income growth, economy (GDP) growth, months in recession and others. To their surprise (I had the opportunity to interview Mr. Goldfarb) they discovered that laissez faire policies had far less benefits than expected, and in fact produced almost universal negative economic outcomes for the nation!

From this book loaded with statistical fact tidbits and comparative charts, here are just a few that caused me to realize that my long-term love affair with Milton Friedman‘s writing and recommended policies in “Free to Choose” were grounded in a theory I long admired, but that simply have proven to be myths when applied!

  • Personal disposable income has grown nearly 6 times more under Democratic presidents
  • Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has grown 7 times more under Democratic presidents
  • Corporate profits have grown over 16% more per year under Democratic presidents (they actually declined under Republicans by an average of 4.53%/year)
  • Average annual compound return on the stock market has been 18 times greater under Democratic presidents (If you invested $100k for 40 years of Republican administrations you had $126k at the end, if you invested $100k for 40 years of Democrat administrations you had $3.9M at the end)
  • Republican presidents added 2.5 times more to the national debt than Democratic presidents
  • The two times the economy steered into the ditch (Great Depression and Great Recession) were during Republican, laissez faire administrations

The Obama economy is actually surprisingly good given that a large number of good economic policies have not been enacted due to Republican political kung fu.images (4)

It was no joke on Thursday when I asked Austan Goolsbee, a pretty fair amateur comic, to rattle of key economic indicators that are trending in very positive ways right now.
“Jobs created. Weekly U.I (jobless) claims. Unemployment rate. Auto Sales. Gas Prices,” said Goolsbee, former head of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers and a onetime winner of the annual “D.C.’s Funniest Celebrity” contest.

And, yet, as a headline in Politico.com also noted Thursday, “Economic Anxiety Dominates 2014.” So what’s really and truly up? What explains the disconnect between seemingly very strong numbers and the lack of love for Obama and the Democrats?

“You can’t brag about the economy because people can’t feel it,” said Thomas Bowen, a Chicago-based Democratic political and policy consultant.

“I’m sure (some) Democrats have polled this: ‘The recovery isn’t working for you.’ That’s why they’re not running on the economy improving.

Not long after, I was driving past a state unemployment office along a rather somber commercial strip on Chicago’s Northwest Side. The parking lot was full. And then I mulled the folks I know working part-time involuntarily or sticking with jobs they don’t especially like out of fear of the limited alternatives.

“You’re talking about indicators in the last six months,” said Bowen. “But look at the start of the recession until today. We’re just getting out of the hole from jobs losses. And the jobs aren’t the same. They’re not higher paying construction jobs.” “Not all indicators equate with average folks,” said Anna Greenberg, a Washington-based Democratic pollster.

“Wages and salaries are stagnant,” she said. “Yes, the stock market is up and the jobless rate down. But the cost of living is up and you may not have more money.”

images (5)So, a lot of economists like me remain very confused.  It’s not like there’s not support by people and businesses for good policy like infrastructure projects, improving the terms of student loans so more folks can access higher and continuing education, and a reasonable minimum wage.  The cities and states that have raised the minimum wage are even those that are doing well among states.   States that have raised their minimum wages have better job growth.

New data released by the Department of Labor shows that raising the minimum wage in some states does not appear to have had a negative impact on job growth, contrary to what critics said would happen.

In a report on Friday, the 13 states that raised their minimum wages on Jan. 1 have added jobs at a faster pace than those that did not. The data run counter to a Congressional Budget Office report in February that said raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, as the White House supports, could cost as many as 500,000 jobs.

The Associated Press writes:

“In the 13 states that boosted their minimums at the beginning of the year, the number of jobs grew an average of 0.85 percent from January through June. The average for the other 37 states was 0.61 percent.

“Nine of the 13 states increased their minimum wages automatically in line with inflation: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont and Washington. Four more states — Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island — approved legislation mandating the increases.”

The AP notes: “[The] state-by-state hiring data, released Friday by the Labor Department, provides ammunition” to the camp in favor of raising the minimum wage.

“Economists who support a higher minimum say the figures are encouraging, though they acknowledge they don’t establish a cause and effect. There are many possible reasons hiring might accelerate in a particular state.

” ‘It raises serious questions about the claims that a raise in the minimum wage is a jobs disaster,’ said John Schmitt, a senior economist at the liberal Center for Economic and Policy Research. The job data ‘isn’t definitive,’ he added, but is ‘probably a reasonable first cut at what’s going on.’ “

So, it just appears that there’s a huge portion of the United States electorate and elected that would rather live in their dream world of imaginary beings and dogma than have their lives made better by using what we know and what we’ve learned.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Thursday Reads: Even the genuine rats have feelings…

4bb2bf277147d05672210dfec15596bfGood Morning

I don’t know if we should be so excited about the shocking runoff election results that put Cantor out on his ass. Don’t get me wrong…it is exciting to see the shitstorm this unexpected “fall” from the top is causing within the GOP. But this?

Did Cantor’s Loss Inspire Extra Crazy Time Today? 

Who is today’s worst person?

1. Oklahoma state House candidate Scott Esk, for being “OK” with stoning gay people to death.

2. Rep. Louie Gohmert for using a Congressional hearing to speculate about whether non-Christians go to Hell.

3. Pat Robertson for telling kids not to turn their father in to the police when he threatens their mother with a gun.

 

That was from Eric Loomis at LG&M…he then asked, “What is wrong with this country?”

I say, What is wrong with these fucking people?

By “these” people I mean, people like the tea party ass who beat Cantor in that runoff election. David Brat: Hitler’s Rise ‘Could All Happen Again’ – Little Green Footballs

The Wall Street Journal has some excerpts from a bizarre pseudo-libertarian essay written by Tea Party heartthrob Dave Brat, warning that Hitler’s Rise ‘Could All Happen Again’.

Raise your hand if you’re shocked that a Tea Party religious fundamentalist employs confused Nazi Germany comparisons to market victimhood. But also notice that in this quote, Brat is pretty openly establishing his position as a Christian supremacist.

Go to the link to read the quote…

Makes this image all the more enjoyable. Stanley Kubrick’s letter to James Aubrey « Kinoimages.com

KUBRICK

 

Oh, if only we could shove that femur up the ass of all those tea party idiots.

Anyway. Hear are a few other long reads for you that you will find interesting…I think this may run along the lines of heavy-duty kale eaters?

Students outraged that “tranny” used in discussion about word itself

Some transgender students and allies at the University of Chicago are outraged that a word they consider a slur was used in a guest-speaker discussion about the controversy over the word itself.

At the risk of inspiring another petition, the word is “tranny,” which is longtime slang for transgender. It’s been used both positively and negatively in the past (and present).

The guest speaker was gay writer and activist Dan Savage, who is arguably America’s most effective spokesman on gay (and quite possibly trans) civil rights. Savage was one of the masterminds behind the widely-acclaimed “It Gets Better” campaign, and behind last year’s boycott of Russian vodka that put the issue of Russia’s intolerance towards its gay and trans citizens on the map.

Savage was declared public enemy #1 a few years back by a fringe coterie of vocal activists; mostly for things he allegedly said, but that when you go back to the original sources you find he didn’t actually say at all. The same activists have also attacked Savage for being an advocate of marriage equality.

I interviewed Dan Savage last year about his new book, and about his secret Mai Tai recipe.

The word “tranny” has been in the news of late, as some trans activists, but certainly not all, find the word offensive. It was a word that has long been used by pro-trans gays and straights alike. (I never used it, though I have younger friends who have and still do, and not with any animus — it’s the simply the word they use for trans people.)

Back to the University of Chicago. The pro-trans activists say the discussion that Savage had with moderator Ana Marie Cox about the controversy over the word “tranny” put them “in a state of distress,” made them “feel unsafe,” and that the discussion “made [a] trans student so distressed that they had to run out of the room in tears.”

The basic argument here is that the word “tranny” is “hate speech,” and that even in a discussion about the controversy surrounding the word “tranny,” the word cannot be used.

Like I said it is a long read…so be sure to finish it.

This is Savage’s answer to the student petition and controversy: About That Hate Crime I Committed at University of Chicago | Slog

And one more post from AmericaBlog:  The end of gay history

But hey, you know what…things are sometimes a source for musical comedy: “Don’t Say Gay” Tennessee Republican to be Lampooned in Musical

You remember state Sen. Stacey Campfield, don’t you? He’s the Tennessee lawmaker who tried to make it illegal in Tennessee for teachers to discuss anything about sexuality with their students, and then, because that wasn’t enough, tried to make it so that if schools found out a student’s orientation, the schools would be required to out the student to parents? Yeah, well, that dude is getting his own parody musical.

A Nashville theatre group, Music City Theatre Company, plans to produce an “original political satirical show” around Campfield, which will be a 45-minute, five-player revue, said co-writer/co-director Michael McFadden. The promotional materials for the show depict Campfield in a tuxedo and a large top hat made of Old Glory.

According to McFadden, there are several great moments in Campfield’s political history which will be depicted, not just the “don’t say gay” legislation. The Tennessee senator has also proposed tying welfare funding to children’s grades, and recently made a comparison between the Obama Administration and the Holocaust. Seems like even going by actual commentary, the production could have a very “Springtime for Hitler” vibe to it. And it would be historically accurate to the state senate record!

What is amazing to me….is that this is the “third musical and fifth production” about Campfield.

Next up, The White Right’s Impunity | Black Agenda Report

If a thousand armed Blacks had gathered in one place, pointing rifles at federal officers, and two of them later cold-bloodedly assassinated policemen, the federal response would touch every Black neighborhood in America. But the armed white Right gets a pass. Racists are resources to those in power. “The national security state’s legitimacy is based on (white) mass fear and loathing of the Other.”

Yes…that is the tease paragraph for a BAR article written by Glen Ford. He makes a big point with that opener. Go and check  out the rest.

See here: Shooters in Metro ambush that left five dead spoke of white supremacy and a desire to kill police | Las Vegas Review-Journal

And here: Military court probes ‘Dark Horse’ militia; may be intense, but it’s not ‘extremist’ | Suits & Sentences | McClatchy DC

There are some upsetting items regarding women and the rape culture too:

George Will Says Being A Rape Victim Is A ‘Coveted Status’ In College

Columnist George Will thinks that being a rape victim is now a “coveted status” on college campuses.

No, really.

The conservative titan wrote about “the supposed campus epidemic of rape, a.k.a. ‘sexual assault,’” in a piece on Friday. He put this trend down to increased political correctness on college campuses, which, he said, was proving that when universities “make victimhood a coveted status that confers privileges, victims proliferate.”

Will then used the example of a woman whose experience he recounted would certainly fall under the definition of rape, and continued:

Now the Obama administration is riding to the rescue of “sexual assault” victims. It vows to excavate equities from the ambiguities of the hookup culture, this cocktail of hormones, alcohol and the faux sophistication of today’s prolonged adolescence of especially privileged young adults.

Why? Why is this asshole still allowed on the air?

Another rape culture one: She Accused A TV Anchor Of Rape And Got Dragged Through The Tabloids

For the first time, Maria Di Toro speaks publicly about her 2012 allegations against Greg Kelly, morning show host and son of former police commissioner Ray Kelly.

And this: Shakesville: Quote of the Day

“You have to start asking questions: Well, if evolution is true, and it’s just all about the male propagating their DNA, we had to ask hard questions, like, well, is rape wrong?”—Creationist Darek Isaacs, “author of ‘Dragons or Dinosaurs?’—which argues that ancient myths about dragons were based on human interactions with dinosaurs—and the founder of the Watchman 33 end times blog,” during an episode of the “Creation Today” online broadcast.

He said marriage would be “anathema” in an evolutionary worldview because it would limit sexual relations to one man and one woman for life.

“According to the evolutionary worldview, [if] that male is strong enough and he had wonderful genes, he should propagate his DNA as much as possible so that the species can progress,” Isaacs said. “So it redefines everything about our society.”

Makes me want to get that femur prop again…

Another good read from Shakesville: We Need to Talk About This

a woman who does public advocacy is subjected to this sort of abuse.

And it shouldn’t be. Because every single woman I know who does public advocacy is subjected to it.

That’s not a criticism of the people who don’t know. They don’t know, because we don’t talk about it. I don’t just mean we, the women who are targets, but we, the people. The readers who consume the content produced by those women. The media who refuse to have a loud and ongoing conversation about it. The law enforcement who ignore it. The lawmakers who have refused to create legal avenues of recourse for us. Our ostensible allies, who stay out of it, lest the sights gets trained on them. The harassers who silence us via more harassment.

Every person who tells us, when we, the women who are targets, try to talk about it, that we shouldn’t. That we shouldn’t give time and energy and fuel to harassers. That we shouldn’t give them our attention. That we are empowering them. That we will cause them to escalate.

Every person who tells us that if we talk about it, it makes us look weak. That we are attention-seeking. That we revel in victimhood. That this is just how the internet is. That this is just how the world is. That if we don’t like it, we should be silent.

Every person who tells us some reason that we should just shut up about an incessant stream of unrelenting abuse, because they don’t want to hear about it; because it makes them uncomfortable to know the real cost of our work, to us; because they don’t want to be made to feel obliged to do something about it.

Every person who has some inkling, but chooses not to really know. Every person who pities us, who feels impotent, who finds some reason to justify their indifference, who masks their indifference behind anger at us for talking about it.

All of us. We are all complicit in the silence that allows people to be surprised by what is done to us.

Not every woman who receives this abuse feels safe enough to talk about it. But I do. Or, if I’m going to be perfectly frank, I don’t feel any less safe than I already do. Every day.

And because I can talk about it, I’m going to. We need to talk about this. Those of us who can.

Have y’all seen this? From Ireland…

800 Dead Babies Discovered in Septic Tank Of Home for Unwed Mothers

Police are investigating the discovery of 800 long-dead babies found in the septic tank at a home for unwed mothers in western Ireland. The Home (that is its actual name and, yes, it does sound freakishly ominous) housed thousands of pregnant and unwed — “fallen”— women between 1925 and 1961. The women left after they’d paid for their stay in indentured servitude. Their children, reports The Washington Post, may not have been so lucky.

A housing development and playground now stand on the land where The Home once stood. And while many would like to forget the horrible things that went on there, the discovery of the 800 infants (and possibly more, once excavation starts) is dredging up many memories for the locals.

More Appalling Revelations in the Irish Mother-and-Baby-Home Scandal

The Irish radio station Newstalk has acquired records suggesting that children in this type of home were essentially used as pharmaceutical guinea pigs:

Three trials were conducted at homes at Bessborough in Co. Cork, St. Peter’s in Westmeath, St. Clare’s in Stamullen, and The Good Shepard in Dunboyne – both Co. Meath – as well as six Dublin homes.

The research was carried out between 1960 and 1976.

In one of the trials, 80 children became unwell after they were allegedly given a vaccine intended for cattle as part of an experiment run at five care homes and orphanages in Dublin during the mid 70s.

A nun from one of the participating homes told Newstalk that parents gave consent for their children to participate in the trials. But Susan Lohan, cofounder of the Adoption Rights Alliance, calls B.S.: “The mothers of the children were not consulted on anything regarding their childrens’ welfare,” adding that, “I find it, frankly, not credible, that the managers of those places would have made an exception when it came to the vaccine trials.”

God.

Speaking of drug trials: Orexigen’s diet pill may get FDA approval this week

While here in Georgia, Lifting the lid on the debate over Medicaid expansion | Political Insider blog

Now for something funny.  The 5 Most Hilarious Actor Meltdowns Behind Famous Movies | Cracked.com

#5. Marlon Brando Demands a Bucket Hat and a Personal Dwarf

Marlon Brando is responsible for some of the most memorable performances in movie history in films like The Godfather, On the Waterfront, and Apocalypse Now, but he’s also responsible for testing the patience of pretty much every director he worked with. The man had an ego the size of a Brando. He held so much power that he could wear an ice bucket over his head and it would wind up in the finished film.

We know this because it actually happened.


“That had better be Twinkies you’re pouring in there.”

That’s a real still from The Island of Dr. Moreau, possibly the worst movie in Brando’s long career, as well as the careers of people who weren’t even in it. It was probably this realization that made Brando decide that, if his name was going to be associated with such a turd, he was at least going to have some fun doing it. And so, when filming began, Brando wore something not in the script: a random ice bucket he found. And he refused to take it off.

Brando also wore a radio earpiece that would feed him his lines, in part because the script was constantly being rewritten and in part because he was beyond giving a shit at this point in his life. The problem was that, according to his co-star David Thewlis, the earpiece would sometimes get interference from police frequencies, so Brando would end up acting out lines like “There’s a robbery at Woolworth’s!


That, or Brando was purposely doing that just to fuck with them … which is highly likely.

And that wasn’t even the most bizarre thing to happen on the set. At one point, Brando told the director that he would not perform unless a midget whom he had befriended during production appeared next to him in all his scenes, so then that happened — you know the miniature version of Dr. Moreau who accompanies him everywhere? That’s not in the book or the script. Brando forced them to add all those scenes. And that, friends, is why this happens in the movie:

 

 

The dwarf (who had a successful television career in South America) then inspired “Mini-Me” from Austin Powers, although that isn’t an accurate comparison; a mini-me version of Brando would be the size of Edward Norton. Speaking of which, Brando co-starred with Norton and Robert DeNiro in the less crappy film The Score. Did you think Brando looked more in shape in that movie than in Dr. Moreau? Well, that’s just because he refused to wear pants, forcing the director to shoot him only from the waist up.

And finally…get this, those GOP ratfinks like that Campbell, Robertson, Esk…etc. have no feelings of regret about those things they say or what their actions (or non-actions) have on people, human beings. Yet rats, the animals, Rats regret their decisions, study finds | The Rundown | PBS NewsHour

New research published in the journal Nature Neuroscience this week finds that regret may not be just a human emotion. It turns out rats also experience regret.

Researcher David Redish at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis set up a “restaurant row” for his lab rats. The “restaurants” consisted of four stops where the rat could receive one option of his favorite flavor foods — banana, cherry, chocolate and a fourth unflavored food. The rat stops at the entrance and presses a button, which made a sound. The pitch indicated how long the rat needed to wait for food, anywhere from one to 45 seconds. If the rat was impatient, it could walk to the next stop and try again. However, each rat had an hour to get through the course, so it needed to be efficient.

To watch how these decisions manifested in the brain, Redish and his colleagues wired electrodes into the rats’ brains, so they could monitor the neural activity in the orbitofrontal cortex. Specific neural patterns indicated which foods the rats were thinking about at the time.

The experiment replicates a common human dilemma, Redish said. You go to a restaurant, discover it has a long wait and decide to go somewhere else, only to find your second choice restaurant has an even longer wait.

To the researcher’s surprise, when the rat got a “bad deal” it immediately turned around and looked back at its first choice. It’s neural pattern changed, and it thought of the first-choice food.

“That’s the regret,” Redish told National Geographic.

But regret is not just wishfully thinking about the past. Redish found that the regretful rats were more likely to wait longer for a “bad deal” than they would normally. They also ate their less-desirable treat more quickly. A few of the rats learned from their mistake and their neural activity showed them planning their next food stop.

Have a good day. What are you reading today? See ya around the comments…


Sunday Reads: Link Dumps and a Feel Good Video, News Story

f98fe9cf69662527aadea94df8e35a0eMorning

all…

I have an enormous migraine, so this is going to be a massive link dump.

Like we are talking, shit load of links = go read it yourself kind of dump style, here…

So please do read these articles, especially the first ones I put up because I have a feeling it is going to be another Steubenville Rape Culture shitstorm, only this time it is in my redneck part of the woods. North Georgia.

By the way, Calhoun High is one of the top football teams in the country…just so you know, as you read these articles.

b166ada939bed00d0b03d56d51201e16Calhoun ponders one dark night: Police stress care needed in investigation into post-prom party

This time of year, with any high school during the month of May, the clock ticks off the flurry of events that pile up before summer vacation: The school musical. The spring scrimmage. The glittering, Great Gatsby-themed prom.

The clock ticks on.

But for many at Calhoun High, that momentum pushing students toward that rite of passage has paused.

And it lingers on the night of May 10 — a few hours after prom’s twinkling lights were dimmed.

Whatever happened that night in the cabin in the gated-off Coosawattee River Resort near Ellijay, Ga., has cast a shadow that stretches over the last days of Calhoun High’s school year.

From an official standpoint, the events of that night remain unclear. All that detectives have said is that they are investigating a rape case.

But in the small town of Calhoun, stories of what occurred at the alcohol-fueled party reverberate, filled with appalling details that have not been confirmed or denied by investigators.

The versions of the story compound on social media, branching into arguments, calls for arrests and cries for prayer. Some take sides. Others plead for the gossip to stop.

One thing is clear: A girl ended up in the hospital after that night, in need of serious medical treatment.

Since then, detectives have questioned at least 25 students about what happened at the cabin, including a group of young men suspected of being involved in an assault.

8ee2928784d27e07d027904298d59c03Some in the community have complained about the pace of the investigation — claiming that it’s being slow-walked because of the high-profile status of some of the students allegedly involved and their parents.

But officials in Gilmer County, Ga., which is one county over and home to the cabin in question, brush off such criticism.

Uh…I may state that I am bias, but I think the situation is one that deserves criticism…

Detectives want to cover their bases before pressing any charges, explained Capt. Frank Copeland, spokesman for the Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office.

And in a case like this, there are many bases.

Imagine, Copeland said, trying to nail down a time line of what happened at a fratlike party, cobbled together from the hazy recollections of teenagers who were intoxicated.

Add to that the fact that all of these witnesses or potential suspects go to school together and see each other nearly every day. They all have the alliances and enemies and social pressures of high school.

“There are so many people we have to talk to, witnesses and accused. It takes a long time to get it done,” Copeland said. “You want to make sure you do a good investigation, you want to make sure that you’re not letting anything fall through the cracks. If we did a really fast investigation, we might miss something, or do something wrong.”

On top of that, the tremendous volume of social media posts about the allegations has added another layer of questions to wade through.

“Everybody in the three-state area is interested in hearing about it,” Copeland said. “All the local people there are joining in, siding up, throwing stuff out.”

Still, Copeland says the department expects to have a resolution in the investigation next week.

If charges are pressed, they will be filed in Criminal Court instead of Juvenile Court, officials say. All of those potentially involved were 18 or over, he said. Nearly all of those who attended the party were from Calhoun, except for one person from Dalton, Ga.

1781910c4e1a219557f8898484c9fa03The other thing that is so damn disturbing is the attitudes of the investigators and the Superintendent of Calhoun High School:

Back at Calhoun High, teachers and administrators are trying to urge students toward the finish line, continuing with regularly scheduled events and encouraging students not to dwell on or spread rumors, Calhoun City Schools Superintendent Michelle Taylor said.

Students will graduate Friday night.

Taylor has stressed that while the school is cooperating with the investigation, the party had nothing to do with the school.

While some parents have called for students who are accused of being involved in the alleged attack to be suspended or kept from graduating, Taylor said it’s too soon to say whether such measures are necessary — especially since no one has been charged.

While Copeland wouldn’t comment on the demeanor of the many students that the department has interviewed, he mentioned that plenty of them reminded him of himself at that age: Excited about graduating, enjoying friends, ready for the future.

“We all just wanted to have a good time and celebrate the fact that we’ve graduated,” he recalled. “But I will just say: What people are thinking is OK or acceptable seems to have changed in the 30 years since I was in school.”

WTF is that last quote all about? Rape was rape back then too? Right? That comment already shows to me that the man has had his decisions about the case “persuaded” shall we say, into what is considered “acceptable” by whose standards? The money and clout behind the football players/suspects’ families? (You get what I am saying right?)

Check this other link out that has more detailed information, the victim was in need of medical attention…and there is suggestion of ruffies being involved: UPDATE: Rape investigation follows Calhoun High prom party – WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

The article seems to have been updated, and questions about what part the ruffies played in this rape have been deleted. However you can still see discussion of the drugs and such in the comments. I highly suggest you read those.

For one more link about this story: Calhoun resident, students protest as rape investigation continues

Protesters hold signs in support of an alleged rape victimA group of protesters stood along a sidewalk near Calhoun High School on Saturday to raise awareness of an ongoing rape investigation in Gilmer County that allegedly involves some CHS students.

Authorities said late last week that a prom after-party in Gilmer County May 10 led to the alleged rape of a Calhoun woman. As many as 25 males ages 18-20, some from Calhoun and one from Whitfield County, are considered suspects in the investigation.

“We don’t want this to be swept under the rug,” said Tiffany Barringer, a parent of a CHS student, and one of about seven protesters Saturday. “We want justice to be done. We’re here in support of the victim to let her know she is not alone. There are people in the community behind her. We’re here to show our support.”

Barringer said she is concerned about the safety of her own daughter and she believes the suspects should not be allowed in the school.

Law enforcement officials have not released the names of any suspects.

a9e1797865660a49def4efdb41fc1d58As Barringer spoke, cars drove past on Ga. 53 honking their horns in response to signs that said, “No means no” and “honk if you agree.” But not everyone was eager to see the protest, according to Barringer.

“There’s a lot of people being negative towards us, saying that what we’re doing is wrong,” she said. “But we’ve had enough. We need to protect everybody and stand up and say we need morals, like respect. That’s totally lost in our society.”

Read the comments on this post as well.  I will keep y’all up to date on this story, I really hope it gets some traction in the media and blogs…seriously…as many 25 male suspects? Fuck if this does not become yet another horrible example of rape culture to put down in that ever growing list of other school rape scandals and cover-ups.

I have a few more links about my home state of Georgia:

In Georgia, Lawmakers Taking Pride in Policies That Hurt the Poor | Next New Deal

Georgia has taken the lead in the mad dash to thwart the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and prevent poor people from accessing health care. Last week, Governor Nathan Deal signed into law two bills that ensure the state won’t be expanding Medicaid any time soon, and that make it decidedly more difficult for people to gain coverage under the ACA. These laws – a notch in the belt of conservatives preparing for the fall election – compound the social and economic injustices already experienced by many low-income Georgians.

House Bill 990 moves the authority to expand Medicaid out of the Governor’s office and over to lawmakers. In a state where conservative politics run deep, HB 990 is Governor Deal’s clever way of way of ensuring Medicaid expansion will never get passed, and abdicating all responsibility for the health and economic consequences that will surely result. The second bill, HB 943, restricts state and local agencies and their employees from advocating for Medicaid expansion, bans the creation of a state health insurance exchange, and prohibits the University of Georgia from continuing its navigator program once its original federal grant expires in August. The University’s navigators have been working throughout the state – especially in underserved rural areas – to help demystify the ACA, assist individuals in gaining coverage on the national exchange, and help those who already qualify for Medicaid to enroll.

“Someone else will now have to re-invent the wheel and figure out how to get resources to people in rural areas,” said Beth Stephens of Georgia Watch, a non-partisan consumer advocacy organization.

Like many other states that refuse to participate in Medicaid expansion, Georgia isn’t faring so well by most socio-economic indicators. The poverty rate, which now hovers around 20 percent, is 50 percent higher than it was in 2000. Nearly two million Georgians do not have health coverage, ranking the state fifth nationally in numbers of uninsured. Close to half of those individuals between the ages 18 and 64 have incomes below 138 percent of the federal poverty level, many of whom would be covered under Medicaid expansion. Georgia has one of the nation’s highest unemployment rates (seven percent) and today the average family makes $6,000 less than it did 10 years ago, when inflation is factored in. Individuals living outside of major cities have few health care options. In recent years eight rural hospitals have closed, leaving residents with scarce health resources and hospital workers without jobs.

6e0dbf1b057e77fcc91b301f68e34d0aTo make matters worse, lawmakers in Georgia have been systematically dismantling the state’s social safety net. Of the 300,000 Georgian families living below the poverty line, only 19,000 receive TANF and more than three quarters of those cases involve children only. That means that fewer than seven percent of low-income Georgians are able to get the welfare assistance they badly need. On the same day that Governor Deal signed the aforementioned bills, he also signed HB 772, requiring certain individuals to pass – and foot the bill for – a drug test before receiving welfare and food stamps. That bill is thought to be the nation’s most stringent when it comes to public assistance.

And if that isn’t shitty enough…

The environment is especially hostile for Georgia’s women, 21 percent of whom live in poverty (33 and 36 percent of Black and Hispanic Georgian women, respectively). More women in Georgia die of pregnancy-related causes than women in all but two other states. The U.S. maternal mortality rate (MMR) is 18.5; that is the number of women who die for every 100,000 births. Georgia’s MMR has more than doubled since 2004 and is now 35.5 (a shocking 63.8 for black women and 24.6 for white women). Expanding Medicaid would extend health coverage to more than 500,000 uninsured Georgians, 342,000 of them women. That coverage would surely save women’s lives.

Case in point, via Atlanta local Channel 2 News: Woman with massive tumor says hospitals turned her away over lack of insurance

A Newton County woman told Channel 2 Action News that four hospitals turned her away before one agreed to remove a painful, massive non-cancerous tumor.

Doris Lewis, 59, said she had been trying to get insurance since her husband died a few years ago.

There was no sense of urgency, but then a huge tumor started growing inside her and she realized not having insurance presented a huge problem.

“It’s getting bigger every day,” Lewis said. “I can feel it on my body. My heart hurts a little bit.”

The tumor has been inside Lewis for two months and has reached the size of a beach ball.

d4d60dc0228d64640548d36ba833dce0The news even got Raw Story’s attention: Woman with beach ball-sized tumor turned away from four hospitals for lack of insurance

But then, what else would you expect with a state who is doing this shit: Breaking: Pasadena Health Dir. Who Says Support Of Gays Is ‘From The Pits Of Hell’ Gets New Job | The New Civil Rights Movement

The Pasadena Health Director who had amassed a great résumé, a great $250,000 annual compensation package, and a great deal of controversy over his large collection of YouTube videos attacking LGBT people, has a new job. Dr. Eric Walsh, who was place on paid administrative leave just two weeks ago, reportedly is in the process of being hired by the Georgia Public Health Department to oversee the health needs of six counties.

Walsh, who is a pastor for a Pasadena Seventh-day Adventist congregation, came under fire when his comments about gay people, Catholics, Muslims, evolution, the Walt Disney Company, Harry Potter, Oprah Winfrey, Muhammad, Jay Z, single mothers, condoms, and the Pope were discovered.

In one sermon, Dr. Walsh reportedly has told his congregation, “In our public school system they began to teach moral relativism…They began to teach that there really is no absolute right or wrong. It’s more a matter of what you think or what you accept. And (according to that doctrine) if two adults agree to do something, it’s not wrong because they are both consenting adults. That is doctrine from the pits of hell. What makes something right is not based on man, it is based on God.” [Bolding added]

He had also, according to WeHoVille.com, “attacked the American Psychiatric Association’s decision in 1973 to declassify homosexuality as a mental illness, saying those who supported it were ‘raised up by the (devil).’”

02f4836e2ce5e862673874d361845cdeGo and read more about this at the link. I looked up information and news on Walsh here in Georgia and it seems that now Georgia has smartened up:  Former Pasadena official Eric Walsh does not get job in Georgia

(Uh, that is from LA not Georgia btw, so go figure. Oh, and Walsh was slated to work in the North Georgia district. Ha…what a fucking joke.)

I wanted to write about another shitty thing here in Banjoville, and our local elections. But I am in such pain, I will just have to do that later.

The rest of this post is in the massive dump I described up top:

Yet another ridiculous example of justice, North Georgia style: Ex-judge indicted on sex, corruption charges | www.ajc.com

And in North Carolina: Parents, 6 Sons, Accused Of Sexually Abusing Girl For Nearly A Decade

"The Fencer" by James Montgomery Flagg 1877-1960 nicknamed "Puss in Boots"

“The Fencer” by James Montgomery Flagg 1877-1960 nicknamed “Puss in Boots”

Meanwhile in South Carolina: Student’s art rejected from school show for being ‘inappropriate’ | Local News – WYFF Home

This next article is something else, it discusses the aspect of birth and women in the Nigerian culture: Nigeria schoolgirls kidnap: If they are freed by Boko Haram, their struggle will not be over – Comment – Voices – The Independent

In more Spitting, Stalking, Rape Threats: How Gun Extremists Target Women | Mother Jones

And then the smack down, read it, it is priceless: The Greatest Advice Column Response Ever (Photo)

Many of you have seen this I am sure: Town Official Defends Police Commissioner Who Called Obama The N-Word | ThinkProgress

In a related story: Mel Brooks: I Would Never Get Away with Using ‘N-Word’ on Screen Today | Mediaite

Fuck these rightwing fuckwads: The Idaho GOP Gubernatorial Debate Was Total Chaos | Mother Jones

Speaking of the rightwing fuckwads, here is X’s list for the failed revolution: 10 Reasons Why “Operation American Spring” Was A Failure | List of X

Oh, and check this out: Peggy McIntosh Sets Record Straight on White Privilege – COLORLINES

Something I found on facebook: WTF Is Wrong With Americans? This Guy Nails It.

Another thing I found on facebook: Timeline Photos – Bread and Roses 1912-2012 | Facebook

Please remember the Turkish coal miners. The high cost of mining displayed for all to see.

 

Another cliff:  Standoff on US roadway repairs becoming ‘highway cliff’ | MCT National News | McClatchy DC

I said from the very beginning, that Religious Conscientiousness was a bad thing:  Why We Need to Ban ‘Conscientious Objection’ in Reproductive Health Care

b24c608739ce7854352eaf2852f77753In California: Arson suspect charged in San Diego wildfires, most blazes dying down | Al Jazeera America

You may be in a flood zone: This Is Your Country With 10 Feet Of Sea Level Rise

A gallery here: First look at 9/11 Memorial Museum – First look inside the 9/11 Memorial Museum – NY Daily News

Science related links:

Rocketing solar winds may spark lightning as they buzz Earth | MCT National News | McClatchy DC

A Surprising Reason We Might Procrastinate | Alternet

Some scary ass pictures: Your Favorite Children’s Characters Would Kill You In A Heartbeat

Updates on other things: Football’s Risks Sink In, Even in Heart of Texas – NYTimes.com

f53d7155974dde3497e7459d9fff38dcA story that you may find a little repetitive, since Dak did a long post on the Koch brothers some time back…however, she says this one is more definitive: Quixotic ’80 Campaign Gave Birth to Kochs’ Powerful Network – NYTimes.com

More Koch: Jon Stewart Trashes ‘Hypocrite’ Harry Reid over Attacks Against Koch Brothers | Mediaite

Another literary fraud: Misha Defonseca Pays $22 Million: History of the Fake Holocaust Memoir | New Republic

I loved Sister Wendy: Saturday Night Social: The Night Belongs to Sister Wendy

Some fun with: Watch Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen Giggle and Talk About Hashtags

Unfortunate news about: No Cannes Do – The Status of Women Directors at Cannes Over the Last Decade|Women and Hollywood

An article about one hunk of a man: Sting Photographed by Annie Leibovitz | Vanity Fair

Now some fashion links, first this one to a dress that reminds me of something from pre-wwII Hollywood: Fan Bingbing in Georges Chakra Couture at the “X-Men: Days Of Future Past” New York Premiere | Tom & Lorenzo Fabulous & Opinionated

Fan-Bingbing-Georges-Chakra-Couture-X-Man-Days-Future-Past-NY-Premiere-Tom-Loenzo-Site-TLO (1)

Next up, Cinema Connection–Kate Hepburn’s Ongoing Style Story from THE PHILADELPHIA STORY | GlamAmor

50887d134be5c7bb69a4f3d40c66702fAnd…then: Photos: A look at Gregory Peck’s Wife Veronique | Vanity Fair

Passani became a fixture in Los Angeles society, thanks to her philanthropy—she was a major supporter of the American Cancer Society—and distinctive fashion sense. “She developed her style more when she was in Los Angeles; she didn’t spend her life in tailored suits, but bold Yves Saint Laurent tunics and orange and lime-green Courrèges dresses,” says her daughter. Although her mother passed away in 2012, Peck plans on paying tribute to her through an exhibition that represents her stylish Parisian influence on Los Angeles.

The pictures below, shot by Firooz Zahedi, who currently is showing his work at the Kopeikin Gallery, display Passani’s outrageous wardrobe…Click through for a glimpse into Passani’s closet.

Before I get to the last link, Hillary Clinton rises above the dirty tricks – Comment – Voices – The Independent

And finally this one…it is wonderful. A lovely way to end the post. Watch the news video…so awesome. The story is told by Maria Shriver which is logical considering the connections to the Kennedys and Special Olympics:

Sweethearts with Down syndrome to wed 30 years after meeting

Sweethearts with Down syndrome to wed 30 years after meeting   - News - TODAY.com 2014-05-18 00-58-32Video: A Texas couple who both have Down syndrome and have been best friends since childhood are getting married. Their families say it’s a celebration of what’s possible when you empower kids to dream big. NBC news special anchor Maria Shriver reports.

Austin Underwood says he has loved his fiancée, Jessica Smith, since they were 4 years old, when their mothers met at a support group for children with Down syndrome.

Thirty years later, the Dallas couple will finally tie the knot.

“I want to marry her because I love her. She’s my very own best friend,” Austin told NBC’s Maria Shriver.

The couple have grown from being playmates to prom dates and, next month, husband and wife.

I love how the mothers are holding hands during the interview. Jessica is beautiful…do watch the video, it will make you feel good.

Images for today’s post by James Montgomery Flagg as seen on Pinterest.

Enjoy your Sunday…leave any thoughts and links in the comments below.

 


Wednesday Reads: Warm-up and melt-downs

Good Morning…

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01/08 Luckovich cartoon: Chilled out | Mike Luckovich

Ah…tis the season for “expert” climatologist analysis on the circle box, of course I am speaking of Fox News and the other right-wing idiots. Here is a montage of clips and commentary via Jon Stewart, it is the first show of 2014, what a load of shit these folks are peddling. Jon Stewart to Fox News’ Varney: ‘Your f*cking opinion is not as valid as scientific fact’

Jon Stewart’s wish to start 2014 without “left vs. right ideological bullsh*t” was quickly dashed on The Daily Show Monday night, as he confronted conservatives’ continued spewing of hot air regarding global warming.

“There you have it: ‘War on Christmas’ is over; ‘war on carbon’ begins,” Stewart said. “Global warming: Just one more liberal conspiracy. Because even though there is a great deal of scientific data establishing climate change trends. Even though many of the models of global warming predict more extremes of weather — not just warming — apparently decades of peer-reviewed scientific study can be, like a ficus plant, destroyed in one cold weekend.”

Stewart got particularly incensed at Fox News host Stuart Varney’s argument that a Russian research ship’s getting trapped in ice in Antartica proved the world was getting colder, which he punctuated with a blithe, “That’s just my opinion.”

“That’s just your opinion — your opinion,” Stewart raged. “It means nothing.”

There is video at the link here, but I love what Stewart said about Fox News turning to Donald Trump for “expert” analysis on the weather:

“So global warming must be a hoax,” Stewart said sarcastically. “Because, I mean, Mr. Trump would never conceal bald-faced truth or go through any effort to hide when something’s clearly receding over the years.”

More on the weather:

A Bridge of Boats across Frozen Tigris River, Mosul, 1903 | Informed Comment

Screen Shot 2014-01-07 at 1.49.38 AM

The authors say locals in Mosul told them that the last time the river froze was 1750. That freezing became more rare after that date is significant, since 1750 marks the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and increased coal burning for energy. The period 1250-1850 or the medieval cooling period (often incorrectly called the ‘little ice age’) saw cool temperatures in many parts of the world.

Cliff Mass Weather Blog: Does the Cold Wave Imply Anything About Global Warming? The Answer is Clearly No.

The central and eastern U.S. is now in the midst of a major cold wave, with large regions dropping below zero F and wind chills reaching below -30F.    That is fact.

The problem is that the media, some non-governmental organizations, and plenty of individuals are making claims that this event has some kind of implication regarding anthropogenic global warming.

On one hand, some global warming skeptics suggest that such cold is clear evidence that global warming is nonsense.

On the other, global warming “advocates” explain the cold wave as another example of extreme weather forced by increased greenhouse gases.

The truth?  Both are wrong.

Real interesting read there.

So…if you are slowly warming up after the big chill, you may have missed a few new stories on politicians running for office in 2014.

Rep. Paul Broun: Democrats need ‘illegal aliens’ to win in Georgia | The Raw Story

Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA) said on Tuesday that Democrats will never be able to regain a majority in Georgia without enlisting the votes of “illegal aliens.” According to Georgia Public Broadcasting, the arch conservative ex-physician believes that the Republicans will reign uncontested over Georgia for decades to come.

“The only way Georgia is going to change is if we have all these illegal aliens in here in Georgia, and give them the right to vote. It would be morally wrong, it would be illegal to do so, under our current law,” Broun said.

“Actually, all these illegal aliens are getting federal largesse and taking taxpayer’s dollars. That’s the only way this state is going to become Democratic again, in the next number of decades,” he went on.

“It only helps the Democrats if we legalize all these illegal aliens in this country who the Democrats want to put on federal welfare programs — and actually, they are on federal welfare programs today,” he explained.

“The Democrats want to make them all basically dependent on the federal government so they can continue their radical, big government agenda.”

But that may be nothing compared to Erick Bennett, Sen. Susan Collins Challenger Says His Wife-Beating Conviction Proves ‘Guts and Integrity’ – Little Green Footballs

Erick Bennett, a conservative challenger to Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) who was convicted of assaulting his wife in 2003, argued that his continued denial of the charge shows his political integrity.

“The fact that I have been jailed repeatedly for not agreeing to admit to something I didn’t do should speak to the fact of how much guts and integrity I have,” Bennett, whose wife divorced him after the attack, said during a news conference Monday, captured by Bangor Daily News. “If I go to D.C., I’m going to have that same integrity in doing what I say, and saying what I do, when it comes to protecting people’s rights, as well as their pocketbooks.”

Bennett’s legal efforts to fight the wife-beating charge ran out when the Maine Supreme Judicial Court upheld his conviction in 2004. But during the news conference to discuss his primary challenge to Collins, Bennett maintained the justice system is designed to “railroad” alleged domestic abusers.

More: Sen. Susan Collins Challenger Says His Wife-Beating Conviction Proves ‘Guts and Integrity’

Crazy.

The rest of the links are in a dump this morning, because I have to admit that I’m writing this post Tuesday night, and my fingers are freezing as I type on the keyboard.

Alfred Hitchcock’s unseen Holocaust documentary to be screened – Features – Films – The Independent

It’s a little known fact that the great director made a film about the Nazi death camps – but, horrified by the footage he saw, the documentary was never shown. Now it is to be released. Geoffrey Macnab reports

The British Army Film Unit cameramen who shot the liberation of Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1945 used to joke about the reaction of Alfred Hithcock to the horrific footage they filmed. When Hitchcock first saw the footage, the legendary British director was reportedly so traumatised that he stayed away from Pinewood Studios for a week. Hitchcock may have been the king of horror movies but he was utterly appalled by “the real thing”.

In 1945, Hithcock had been enlisted by his friend and patron Sidney Bernstein to help with a documentary on German wartime atrocities, based on the footage of the camps shot by British and Soviet film units. In the event, that documentary was never seen.

Including women on convening committees increases women speakers at scientific meetings

Women are currently underrepresented among speakers at scientific meetings, both in absolute terms and relative to their representation among attendees, but a new study suggests one way to address this deficit. An analysis of 460 scientific symposia to be published in mBio, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology reveals that the inclusion of at least one woman on a convening committee increases the proportion of female speakers by as much as 86% and significantly reduces the likelihood the session would have an all-male list of speakers.

Calif. deputy waited seconds before shooting boy with toy rifle: lawsuit | Reuters

A northern California sheriff’s deputy shot a 13-year-old just three seconds after ordering him to drop a plastic replica of an assault rifle, the boy’s parents claimed in an amended civil rights lawsuit filed Tuesday.

Erick Gelhaus, a veteran deputy and firearms instructor, killed Andy Lopez as the eighth grader was walking near his home in the wine-country town of Santa Rosa in October carrying an imitation gun he planned to return to a friend, according to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco.

[...]

At least two people at the scene moments before the shooting said the 5-foot, 3-inch teen looked like a child carrying a toy gun, the complaint says.

[...]

“From the time that the deputies called out to Andy Lopez until the time that Gelhaus fired his first shot, only three seconds elapsed,” the suit says. In an interview, Casillas said the information came from two witnesses to the incident.

The suit also says that deputies knew the boy would respond to the order to drop the gun by turning to face them. The suit does not say how they knew that, but Casillas said that it would be typical for someone who is not a criminal to turn toward the sound of a police officer shouting.

Now a few articles on Newspapers, Libraries and the MLA:

How Mature | The Volokh ConspiracyThe Volokh Conspiracy

The Modern Language Association (not a group with which I normally sympathize much) apparently denied the Daily Caller press credentials for this year’s MLA conference. The response of Eric Owens, “Education Editor” of the Daily Caller? Calling the MLA “douchebags” six times, plus once in the headline of the column, a headline that right now appears on the Daily Caller front page. (I assume that, at the Daily Caller, like at many online sites but not like at most newspapers, a columnist — and especially an “editor” — gets to choose the post title.) Oh, and there are six “fascist”s in there, too; that at least is not a vulgarity, but it shows a certain lack of creativity, no?

MLA to bar pro-Israel campus groups from making presentations at Chicago conference | JPost | Israel News

The pro-Israel campus groups Hillel International and the Israel on Campus Coalition were denied the right to present a discussion at the January 9-12 Modern Language Association convention in Chicago, an event that is seen as a possible precursor to an MLA academic boycott of Israel that would mirror recent boycotts by the American Studies Association and the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association.

MLA’s convention includes a roundtable discussion titled “Academic Boycotts: A Conversation about Israel and Palestine,” which will feature supporters but no opponents of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel.

Academics Gone Wild: This MLA Conference Craigslist Ad Is Delightful

I don’t know about delightful, but it written better than some of the crap we saw in those CPAC Craigslist ads.

Newspaper to Put All Reporters Through Social Media Boot Camp

One of the country’s oldest remaining big city newspapers, the San Francisco Chronicle, is set to announce a radical plan to arrest circulation decline and remain relevant in the digital age, Mashable has learned.

Audrey Cooper, the first female managing editor in the paper’s 148-year history, will require all staff to enter what is being described as a startup-style incubator. In a plush off-site office procured from the paper’s Food and Wine section, journalists will undergo two months of rigorous training — in effect, a digital and social media boot camp.

Ugh…that social media stuff is really getting ridiculous. I realize it is becoming the communication of the future, but if we completely surrender to this shitty way of “talking” to each other…what will really become of one to one interactions…or reading books with paper pages. This is the first public library without any books | Grist

The end is near! Page-sniffers, mourn the loss of our dog-eared friends! I MEAN … HURRAH for a library that saves trees! (Sob.)

BiblioTech is an all-digital public library on the south side of San Antonio that offers 10,000 titles on 600 e-readers, 25 iPads, and 25 laptops. The library also includes 50 desktop computers and 100 Nook tablets preloaded with children’s books — just no physical books. (Patrons can read the library’s digital books on their own tablets as well.) Internet access and kids’ storytime are other, more familiar perks.

bibliotech-interior
Bexar BiblioTech

Sounds pretty green, right? Without the need for vast book storage space, the $2.3 million library can be way smaller than traditional libraries. At fewer than 5,000 square feet, BiblioTech’s smaller space means less heat and light and thus less pollution. As sage Umbra once wrote:

It hurts to say it, but e-books are looking like a good option, even perhaps the better option. Ouch …

There are caveats as usual, but I am forced to report the general conclusion that e-books produce less CO2 emissions and use less water than conventional newspapers and books.

According to Ted Genoways’ oft-cited article “The Price of the Paperless Revolution,” it takes roughly the same amount of energy and materials to make an e-reader as it does 50 books. So for BiblioTech to break even, energy-wise, patrons would need to read 50 books on each tablet. With 10,000 library users registered in its first three months, this probably won’t be an issue.

I have such a hard time getting my thoughts together, if I am trying to write something down or figure something out, without having the book in front of me in paper form.

Give me those dog-eared pages and pencil-lined notated margins any day.

Now for the big news of the morning, there is a melt-down crisis: Terrifying Velveeta Shortage Threatens to Ruin Dip Season

Terrifying Velveeta Shortage Threatens to Ruin Dip Season

One Velveeta official expressed apologies for the ill-timed shortage, right on the cusp of “dip season” which is a thing that exists, like the Holiday season or deer season or back to school season or breakup season. Dip season.

According to AdAge, in recent weeks, consumers in some grocery stores in New Jersey noticed that their favorite Pasteurized Prepared Cheese Product was missing. After inquiring with store officials, they were informed that there would be no more Velveeta until Mid February. Brand officials have said that the shortage is due to a “factory issue,” but my biggest “issue” here is how the fuck is America supposed to completely submerge its head in creamy, warm queso dip while millionaires concuss each other on national television WITHOUT MOTHERFUCKING ENORMOUS BRICKS OF VELVEETA FAKE CHEESE? HOW ARE WE SUPPOSED TO CELEBRATE A PROPER AND TRADITIONAL DIP SEASON WITHOUT NUTRITIONALLY INFERIOR MASS PRODUCED PRODUCTS?

THANKS OBAMA.

Have a good morning, stay warm….and please share what you are reading about this cold winter day.


Wednesday Reads: Election Results, Smoking Crack and Dueling Plagiarisms

021efd667a24acb55d0f80b82a096088Good Morning

Well…Election Day is over, and here are the results…in link dump format:

Ally of Clintons Narrowly Wins Election as Virginia Governor – NYTimes.com

Terry McAuliffe, a longtime Democratic fund-raiser and ally of Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton, was elected governor of Virginia on Tuesday, narrowly defeating the state’s conservative attorney general, Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, and confirming Virginia’s evolution as a state increasingly dominated politically by the Democratic-leaning Washington suburbs.

Bill de Blasio poised to usher in new era of liberal governance in New York – The Washington Post

Bill de Blasio overwhelmingly was elected mayor here Tuesday, becoming the first Democrat to lead New York in 20 years and ushering in a new era of activist liberal governance in the nation’s largest city.

Shortly after polls closed at 9 p.m., several networks projected that de Blasio soundly defeated Republican Joe Lhota, a protégé of former mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Chris Christie Coasts to 2nd Term as Governor of New Jersey – NYTimes.com

Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey won re-election by a crushing margin on Tuesday, a victory that vaulted him to the front ranks of Republican presidential contenders and made him his party’s foremost proponent of pragmatism over ideology.

Well, about that ideology.  You have to admit, he scored big points with his base when he took down that teacher who was a) an educator b) union member and 3) a woman…meanwhile, in Illinois a gay marriage bill was approved!

The General Assembly today narrowly approved a gay marriage bill, clearing the way for Illinois to become the 15th state to legalize same-sex unions.

The bill got 61 votes in the House, one more than the bare minimum needed to send the measure back to the Senate, which quickly signed off. Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn has said he would sign the bill into law should it reach his desk.

Reaction is rolling in tonight from the White House to City Hall.

President Barack Obama issued a statement praising the General Assembly.

“As president, I have always believed that gay and lesbian Americans should be treated fairly and equally under the law. Over time, I also came to believe that same-sex couples should be able to get married like anyone else,” he said in the statement. “So tonight, Michelle and I are overjoyed for all the committed couples in Illinois whose love will now be as legal as ours – and for their friends and family who have long wanted nothing more than to see their loved ones treated fairly and equally under the law.”

Mayor Rahm Emanuel issued a statement following the House vote.

“Today is a critical moment in history for Illinois and for the entire LGBT movement. Finally, gays and lesbians across our state are guaranteed the fundamental right to marry, and countless couples with children will be acknowledged for what they are under the law – families just like everyone else,” said Emanuel in the statement.

Hey, I know y’all have heard of this guy in Canada.  Rob Ford, Toronto Mayor, Admits Having Smoked Crack Cocaine (VIDEO)

Rob Ford said Tuesday he loves his job and will stay on as mayor of Toronto despite admitting for the first time that he smoked crack.

Ford earlier acknowledged he smoked crack “probably a year ago” when he was in a “drunken stupor,” but balked at growing pressure on him to resign.

“I was elected to do a job and that’s exactly what I’m going to continue doing,” Ford said. “On Oct. 27 of 2014, I want the people of this great city to decide whether they want Rob Ford to be their mayor.”

Well, check out the tie this dude was wearing when he gave his speech today: Rob Ford’s Ridiculous Crack-Apology Football Tie Now Available on eBay | Vanity Fair

For The World’s Most Dignified Press Conference this afternoon, Canadian mayor/crack enthusiast Rob Ford wore, naturally, The World’s Most Dignified Necktie.

It is black, made of polyester (the crack-cocaine of synthetic fibers), contains the logos of various N.F.L. teams (the Washington Redskin Native American mascot receives prominent placement), and is currently available for $14.99 on eBay. Is that more than the cost of an individual-sized portion of crack, or less? You’d have to ask someone who knows crack like the back of his crack-pipe-wielding hand—someone like Toronto mayor Rob Ford.

Who can speed-dial the crisis mangers more quickly: Surrey Clothing, which manufactured the tie, or the N.F.L., whose franchises now share the above screen grab with a portly 44-something crack lover?

So, he’s wearing a NFL tie…great branding there. Bullying football players, concussion cover-ups, racist team names…and a poster boy for drunk, crack smoking politicians.  But back to Rob Ford. Wow, now that guy has balls…dude gets caught smoking crack…admits he did it, possibly during a drunken stupor…and says he is staying put as Mayor of Toronto.

That is almost as ballsy as Rand Paul, who gets caught repeatedly plagiarizing, admits he did it…challenges Rachael Maddow to a faux duel…then announces he will go “dueling” Tarantino style on anyone’s ass who accuses him of cheating again! Only to turn around and blame his staff…what an asshole. Well, it looks like someone has finally had enough of Rand Paul’s shit: Washington Times ends Sen. Rand Paul column amid plagiarism allegations – Washington Times

Which leads me to this little op/ed from Cagle Cartoons: Corrections by Jason Stanford

Last week’s news contained some factual errors that merit correction. We strive for accuracy at all times and regret falling short in these rare instances.

An article on Sunday claimed that the National Security Agency collected data on tens of millions of phone calls in France and Spain. In actual—if less sensational—fact, the records were “handed over to the NSA by European intelligence services as part of joint operations.” We regret getting the story exactly backwards.

131506 600 Corrections cartoonsDaryl Cagle / Cagle Cartoons

Also on Sunday, a television news magazine featured an American security contractor who claimed to have fought off terrorists at the State Department compound in Benghazi. It now appears that this person filed an official report stating he was nowhere near the compound. We regret not checking out his story before giving him a national platform.

In repeated interviews on Monday and Tuesday, Sen. Lindsay Graham threatened to filibuster federal nominations because “the people who survived the attack in Benghazi have not been made available to the U.S. Congress for oversight purposes.” In fact, they did testify before Congress recently. The cable news anchors regret not challenging him on this easily verified factual misstatement.

A guest op-ed on Monday by actress and author Suzanne Somers misattributed the rantings of emails in ALL CAPS to Vladimir Lenin and Winston Churchill. Furthermore, her op-ed repeated the previously discredited assertion that Canadian doctors are fleeing socialized medicine for the unregulated profiteering in the United States. Also, Ms. Somers also mistook a dog for a horse, but in the greater scheme of things this worries us less than thinking the Thigh Master pitchwoman was a credible health care policy expert. We regret the error.

An article on Monday incorrectly implied that the Obama administration did not know about half of those with health insurance policies purchased on the individual market would receive cancellations. In fact, the regulations written in 2010 predicted that 40%-67% of those in the individual market would lose their policies because of market forces, including insurance companies unilaterally lowering benefits, shrinking coverage or increasing your co-pays, i.e., behaving like insurance companies. We regret the error.

In a follow-up story Tuesday, morning news co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck further claimed this information was “buried in Obamacare,” asking “Where was that information up at the top? Where was that in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012? Where was that information?” While she did list the progression of years in correct sequential order, the predicted changeover in the individual health insurance market had been previously reported in 2010 by the network that now employs her. She may or may not regret the error.

Okay, because it is so good…here is the rest of it:

Repeated television interviews last week featured consumers with cancelled insurance policies. After Michael Hiltzik of The Los Angeles Times and Paul Waldman of The American Prospect quickly debunked the horror stories, it became clear that the television journalists failed to do more than turn on the camera and say, “Golly” and “Oh, really? Wow.”

It is doubtful that a single television reporter asked any of these people four crucial questions: What did their old plan cover? Did they go to the exchanges? If the premiums were cheap, were the co-pays and deductibles affordable? Did they qualify for subsidies? We regret giving frightened consumers platforms to air uninformed complaints without ever performing what would be recognized by experts as “journalism” until the cameras were turned off. The answers to these questions revealed that the real horror story was how insurance companies could get away with junk policies that left consumers exposed to financial ruin until Obamacare came along.

Journalism’s apparent inability to ask follow-up questions, challenge assumptions and debunk lies has left the country in a bit of an uninformed tizzy about its national and financial security. All of this would have been simple to prevent had journalists had checked their facts before polluting the news with false information.

However, researching a subject can get in the way of achieving the ratings usually attained through sensationalizing falsehood and ignorance. We regret the errors, but we can’t promise it all won’t happen again next week. After all, we hear Sally Struthers has written something about Benghazi that’s really dynamite.

Oh…can’t wait for that report! Ya know, I loved Struthers’ work for starving children in Africa:

Starvin’ Marvin (Season 1, Episode 9) – Full Episode Player – South Park Studios

While trying to get a free promotional digital sports watch, the boys end up contacting an organization that helps starving children in Africa. Mistaking Cartman for a starving African child, government authorities send him to Ethiopia. Adding chaos to confusion, a flock of wild turkeys revolt after their treatment at the hands of the local genetic engineer. South Park is at the mercy of genetically altered turkeys.

If you don’t remember this episode…

Starvin’ Marvin is the eighth episode of the first season of the American animated television series South Park. It first aired on Comedy Central in the United States on November 19, 1997. In the episode, Cartman, Kenny, Kyle and Stan send money to an African charity hoping to get a sports watch, but are instead sent an Ethiopian child whom they dub Starvin’ Marvin. Later, Cartman is accidentally sent to Ethiopia, where he learns activist Sally Struthers is hoarding the charity’s food for herself. In an accompanying subplot, after genetically engineered turkeys attack South Park residents, Chef rallies the residents to fight back, in a parody of the film Braveheart.

Okay, joking aside…there’s another rape case on video that is making news. 16-Year-Old Florida Girl Held Down By Classmates, Raped On Videotape: Cops

A 16-year-old’s visit to a Hollywood, Florida home turned into a nightmare when a pack of five teens descended upon her, dragged her by the hair, kicked and punched her, then held her down while she was raped in a videotaped assault, police say.

Four of the accused and the victim are students at South Broward High, according to their Facebook pages. The three boys and two girls, ages 15 to 19, have been charged with felony sexual battery and false imprisonment.

“It just makes it all the more disturbing when you have this many people working in concert and aggression,” Maria Schneider, state prosecutor in charge of the juvenile unit, said Monday. “I can’t imagine how overwhelmed and under siege someone would feel under these circumstances. It’s very traumatic.”

Hospital officials declined to say whether the victim, who bled from an ear and drifted in and out of consciousness with her eyes swollen shut when police questioned her Saturday morning, remained hospitalized Monday. Because of the nature of the crime, the Sun Sentinel is not naming her.

There is some pretty graphic detail in the article.

Next up, two links from AJAM:

SC tribe looks to casino in NC to preserve its heritage | Al Jazeera America

In central South Carolina, clay is pulled from the land near the Catawba River by a Native American tribe of the same name. The loam is processed much as it was thousands of years ago, coiled into pots, scraped and burnished with river rocks and fired over an open pit until it can endure.

And in that ancient pottery tradition — the oldest continuing one in North America — lies the story of the Catawba people, according to the tribe’s elected chief, Bill Harris.

It is also motivation for its economic future. The Catawba Indian Nation, South Carolina’s only federally recognized Indian tribe, is looking to a casino resort and high-stakes bingo as a way to ensure its cultural future.

Central to the tribe’s plan for economic development: Holding the federal government to its promise, the tribe will expand throughout its ancestral lands. It has set its sights on 16 acres across the state line, in Cleveland County, N.C., where it hopes to build a 220,000-square-foot gaming facility and 750-room resort. It estimates that the $340 million casino project will initially create at least 4,000 jobs in a county where unemployment lingers at about 10 percent.

There’s another hurdle to the plan. The Cherokee, the Catawba’s historical trade rival, view the casino plans as competition.

“Based on the newly released information provided by Cleveland County, we are greatly concerned that this development will negatively impact job growth and revenue at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino and for the western region of North Carolina,” Cherokee Chief Michell Hicks said in a statement in the tribe’s newspaper.

That is a long read, but it is interesting to see the competition between the two tribes…over what seems to be an endless supply of customers. The new outpost that Harrah’s Cherokee Casino is building is actually just north of Banjoville, on the other side of the Georgia/North Carolina border.

Median wage falls to lowest level since 1998  by David Cay Johnston| Al Jazeera America

Last year the median wage hit its lowest level since 1998, revealing that at least half of American workers are being left behind as the economy slowly recovers from the Great Recession.

But at the top, wages soared — the latest indication in a long-running trend of increasing inequality, with income gains going to top earners while the majority of workers see stagnant or falling wages.

Al Jazeera is the first news organization to report these figures from the Social Security Administration (SSA), which were released late in October.

The median wage — half of workers make more, half less — came to $27,519 last year, virtually unchanged from 2011. Measured in 2012 dollars, the median wage was down $4.

The 2012 median wage was at its lowest level since 1998, when the median stood at $26,984.

From its all-time peak in 2007, the median wage was down $980. That means someone at the midpoint in pay worked 52 weeks last year but earned about the equivalent of working just 50 weeks at 2007 pay levels, the last peak year for the economy.

The average wage, on the other hand, improved last year. It increased to $42,498, up $434, or 1 percent from 2011 after considering inflation. But the average wage remained below its $42,921 peak in 2007, I calculated from the SSA data.

These figures from the SSA cover only cash pay, not fringe benefits such as health insurance and pensions. The figures are reported to the Internal Revenue Service to verify what individuals put on their tax returns.

More on what those numbers mean at the link.

I will end with this cartoon from Luckovich: 11/6 Luckovich cartoon: ‘If you like your health plan…’ | Mike Luckovich

110613-toon-luckovich-ed

So…what’s going on in your world this morning? Tell us about it below in the comment section!


Sunday Reads: A line around the number…

6629Good Morning

This will be a quick post, I will try and post a longer one later on this afternoon. My sleep patterns are way off and I am just too tired.

Check this out, a real literacy test that was used to get the okay to vote in the state of Louisiana: Voting rights and the Supreme Court: The impossible “literacy” test Louisiana used to give black voters.

This week’s Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder overturned Section 4(b) of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which mandated federal oversight of changes in voting procedure in jurisdictions that have a history of using a “test or device” to impede enfranchisement. Here is one example of such a test, used in Louisiana in 1964.

After the end of the Civil War, would-be black voters in the South faced an array of disproportionate barriers to enfranchisement. The literacy test—supposedly applicable to both white and black prospective voters who couldn’t prove a certain level of education but in actuality disproportionately administered to black voters—was a classic example of one of these barriers.

The website of the Civil Rights Movement Veterans, which collects materials related to civil rights, hosts a few samples of actual literacy tests used in Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi during the 1950s and 1960s.

The test is unbelievable…

This test—a word-processed transcript of an original—was linked to by Jeff Schwartz, who worked with the Congress of Racial Equality in Iberville and Tangipahoa Parishes in the summer of 1964. Schwartz wrote about his encounters with the test in this blog post.

Most of the tests collected here are a battery of trivia questions related to civic procedure and citizenship. (Two from the Alabama test: “Name the attorney general of the United States” and “Can you be imprisoned, under Alabama law, for a debt?”)

But this Louisiana “literacy” test, singular among its fellows, has nothing to do with citizenship. Designed to put the applicant through mental contortions, the test’s questions are often confusingly worded. If some of them seem unanswerable, that effect was intentional. The (white) registrar would be the ultimate judge of whether an answer was correct.

Go to the link to try your hand at that test…it is a hell of a thing. When you want to see some of the answers, here is an answer key: Key for literacy test.pub – Key for literacy test.pdf

This next article is a good example of how expensive it is to…Just Have the Baby? A New Mom Reveals Why There Is No ‘Just,’ and Not Necessarily Any Justice Either

To say “Just have the baby” is to say “Just risk a prolonged illness, surgery, and the loss of your income when you have a lot of new expenses.” It’s to tell someone casually that they should sign up for the possibility of experiencing more physical pain and agony than they thought a person could live through, and maybe having a great deal of it continue for days, weeks, months, possibly even years.

Go read the whole piece, it is good.

This was something cool: Russian meteor shockwave circled globe twice

The shock wave from an asteroid that burned up over Russia in February was so powerful that it travelled twice around the globe, scientists say.

They used a system of sensors set up to detect evidence of nuclear tests and said it was the most powerful event ever recorded by the network.

More than 1,000 people were injured when a 17m, 10,000-tonne space rock burned up above Chelyabinsk.

The study appears in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

The researchers studied data from the International Monitoring System (IMS) network operated by the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO).

The detection stations look out for ultra-low frequency acoustic waves, known as infrasound, that could come from nuclear test explosions. But the system can also detect large blasts from other sources, such as the Chelyabinsk fireball.

Alexis Le Pichon, from the Atomic Energy Commission in France and colleagues report that the explosive energy of the impact was equivalent to 460 kilotonnes of TNT. This makes it the most energetic event reported since the 1908 Tunguska meteor in Siberia.

There is more at the link about some new discoveries over at the Tunguska site, you can give the link a click to read the rest.

Think of this as an open thread. Hopefully I will see you a bit later on, otherwise…please share what you are reading about this morning.