If you want to kill some time today, check out these images of Lego greatness:
Over a thousand pictures here: Lego Art on Pinterest
There is even a Klimt in this one: Lego mania on Pinterest
And more artsy fartsy stuff here: Lego Creations on Pinterest
Why do I bring all this up? Because today’s post is going to center around popular culture and nothing represents that more than Legos…used as an artistic representation in historic museums.
As a history major, and a geeky one at that…you know being a wonky sort of history geek, specifically Medieval, I don’t know how to feel about this.
I am so enthralled with these works of Lego art, the detail, the delight it brings…but there is also a part of me that thinks…Lego? Used in a legitimate archaeological/historical sense? Then I slap myself and say, don’t be such a pompous ass JJ…get over your fucking self. These things are not your typical play toy Lego “houses” just look at the scale models the artist create.
The latest made its debut in Sydney this past month. LEGO Pompeii Excites New Audiences – Archaeology Magazine
Professional LEGO builder Ryan “The Brickman” McNaught has crafted a model of Pompeii at the University of Sydney’s Nicholson Museum, according to The Conversation. The project, which took more than 500 hours to complete and used more than 190,000 blocks, is one of the largest LEGO historical models ever built. The display shows three phases of the ancient city: as it looked in A.D. 79 when Mount Vesuvius erupted; as it appeared when it was rediscovered in the eighteenth century; and as the ruins stand today. Over the past two years, McNaught created a scale model of the Colosseum out of the colorful bricks, and the LEGO Acropolis, now on display at the Acropolis Museum in Athens.
This thing is amazing!
From the link to the University of Sydney’s Nicholson Museum above: Lego Pompeii creates less pomp and more yay in the museum
Lego Pompeii was painstakingly recreated from more than 190,000 individual blocks across 470 hours for Sydney University’s Nicholson Museum – it’s the largest model of the ancient city ever constructed out of Lego blocks. There is a mix of ancient and modern elements within the model’s narrative; displaying Pompeii as it was at the moment of destruction by the volcano Vesuvius in 79AD, as it was when rediscovered in the 1700s, and as it is today.
The historical model is the exhibition centrepiece in an archaeological museum where, until recently, displays of Lego would have been unthinkable.
The Nicholson Museum, with collections of artefacts from the Mediterranean region, Egypt and the Middle East, is a place where visitors can expect to see Greek vases, Egyptian sculpture and ceramic sherds from Jericho.
Yet since 2012, the museum has commissioned professional Lego builder Ryan “The Brickman” McNaught to recreate three ancient sites made from Lego. Together these models represent an interesting experiment; attracting a new audience to the museum space and demonstrating the importance of fun in a museum context.
This is not the first rodeo for The Brickman…
The first Nicholson Lego scale model was a replica of the Colosseum in Rome.
The joy of the model was its ability to contrast the old with the new. Half the model featured the amphitheatre in antiquity; the other half featured the building in ruins with Lego modern tourists.
The model proved such a success it subsequently toured several regional NSW galleries and museums. It is currently displayed at the Albury Regional Art Gallery along with Roman artefacts from the Nicholson Museum’s collection.
Go to the Nicholson Museum link to read the rest of the story, and how The Brickman studied and designed his Lego city of Pompeii.
Brickman is one of Lego’s Certified Professionals, these people have amazing jobs…check out some of the artist work at that link. (Mini Bios at that link too.) It seems that most of these LCP’s are men…but I have not researched enough of the culture to be sure of this…that is just my observation as I look through the websites and images. And, the one woman that is a Certified Professional is associated with education, autism, special needs and using Lego as a teaching tool. But I will just say this is only my thoughts on the matter. Let’s just go on with the post.
Alright then, how about that Blizzard? Here’s some pictures for you:
City dwellers in New York hoping to wake up to mountains of snow will have to content themselves with trawling Instagram pictures from New England. The blizzard of 2015—or really the #blizzardof2015 if we’re doing this right—brought less snow than expected to New York City and a number of points south. But to the east on Long Island and north throughout New England, the storm has lived up to, and in some ways exceeded, expectations with heavy snow and coastal flooding.
Snow totals are still being updated but as of Tuesday morning, a National Weather Service weather spotter has reported the highest total from the storm so far, with 30 inches in Framingham, Mass. Other central Massachusetts and South Shore locations have also piled up more than 2 feet of snow.
The second-highest snow total comes 28.5 inches measured in Orient, N.Y., on the far eastern tip of Long Island. In both places, wind gusts are piling up drifts and sending snow cresting over the eaves of houses.
But there has been some complaining. For a look at the technical side of forecast, Cliff Mass Weather Blog: Forecast Lessons from the Northeast Snowstorm
The complaints swelled quickly this morning, both in the social media and the press:
National Weather Service forecasters had predicted two to three feet over New York City and adjacent suburbs for Tuesday and only about 8-10 inches showed up.
The city had been shut down overnight–travel banned on major roadways, mass transportation systems (e.g., subways) closed, schools and businesses closed–and all for a minor snow event! A few samples from the press illustrates some of the commentary:
And then a National Weather Service forecaster even apologized for a “blown forecast”, something that doesn’t happen very often.
And you had to expect that some global warming critic would use the forecast troublex to cast doubt on global warming predictions.
So what is the truth about this forecast event? As I will describe below, although the forecast “bust” was not as bad as it might appear, it did reveal some significant weaknesses in how my profession makes and communicates forecasts, weaknesses that National Weather Service director Louis Uccellini says he recognizes and will attempt to fix.
The general forecast situation was well understood and skillfully forecast starting on Saturday. A low center (a midlatitude cyclone) would develop off the SE U.S. and then move northward up the East Coast–a storm commonly called a Nor’easter. Here is a surface weather map at 4 AM PST this morning, when the storm was near its height. In such a location, the storm can pull cold air off the continent while swirling in moisture from off the ocean. The result is moderate to heavy snow to the west and north of the low center, as well as strong winds over the same areas. Thirty years ago we could not forecast these storms with any skill. That has changed.
Go and read how it has changed at the link.
In other science-ish news, y’all know that big ass rock that flew by us Monday?
A video still of asteroid 2004 BL86 and its newly discovered moon from Goldstone Solar System Radar. Image via Slooh.com.
Check this shit out:
Radar images of asteroid 2004 BL86 confirm the primary asteroid is 1,100 feet (325 meters) across with a small moon 230 feet (70 meters) across.
Wow! Scientists working with NASA’s Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, California have released the first radar images of asteroid 2004 BL86, which flew closer to Earth on Monday than any asteroid this large will again until the year 2027. Closest approach was 1619 UTC (11:19 a.m. EST) on January 26, 2015. Nearest distance was about 745,000 miles (1.2 million kilometers, or 3.1 times the distance from Earth to the moon). The radar images confirm what other astronomers first discovered this past weekend, that asteroid 2004 BL86 has its own small moon!
Let us move from science to environment, but still on a pop culture connection…cause what else would you expect from something like this? Chinese Methanol Plant in Louisiana ‘Cancer Alley’ | Al Jazeera America
Uh, okay… I will just give you a quick overview of the area and the situation. This plant is poisoning people. These people are poor. They are people of color. Nuff Said!
This article is the second installment of a three-part series on China’s role in redeveloping southern Louisiana called China’s Louisiana Purchase. The first part investigated links between Chinese government officials, Chinese gas giant Shandong Yuhuang and Gov. Bobby Jindal.
ST. JAMES PARISH, La. — No one asked Lawrence “Palo” Ambrose if he wanted a Chinese company with a controversial environmental record to build a methanol plant in his neighborhood. But if they had, the 74-year-old Vietnam War vet would have said no.
A town hall meeting about it in July at St. James High School, which is close to the site of the plant, in a sparsely populated area with mobile homes and a few farms, took place only after the St. James Parish Council approved the project.
“We never had a town hall meeting pretending to get our opinion prior to them doing it,” said Ambrose, a coordinator at St. James Catholic Church. “They didn’t make us part of the discussion.”
The St. James Parish Council did not respond to interview requests at time of publication.
Edwin Octave, 92, who lives with his family in the area, agreed with Ambrose. “I don’t think the way they went about getting the plant was right. They bought the property before they tell people it’s going to happen.”
The area has gotten the nickname Cancer Alley. I don’t know the state of Louisiana is becoming more and more like the poster child for all that is bad and could be bad when fuckwads get elected and have shit everything up. “Literally.”
There is a term being used, it is called Environmental Racism.
St. James Parish gas station owner Kenny Winchester said he hopes U.S. environmental standards will be enough to prevent any abuses too detrimental to the health of his community. “There shouldn’t be a problem if they follow the rules,” he said. “If they take shortcuts, we’ll have a problem.”
But Malek-Wiley said that hope isn’t realistic. “It’s not feasible to just hope they will abide by regulations. Most of the industry environmental reporting requirements are done by companies without a secondary check with the Department of Environmental Quality or EPA,” he said. “In effect, if a company was doing wrong, it would have to write itself a ticket. I know every time I’m going down the interstate too fast and there’s no cop, I pull over and write myself a ticket … No, it doesn’t happen that way.”
The only way to tell if a company breaches regulations, he said, is “after the plant’s built, unfortunately.” An environmentalist nonprofit focused on opposing petrochemical pollution in the region, the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, could “teach folks how to take air samples in their community,” he said, and that tactic has led to “a number of companies to be fined for air pollution, but that’s after the fact.”
After successfully organizing legal bids around black communities not consulted on energy projects, Malek-Wiley believes that “with St. James Parish, they could have brought up concerns about environmental racism.”
How could this plant have been allowed to contaminate the groundwater for 40 years? How could the explosives have been left at the site in the first place? How is it that there doesn’t seem to be the money or the will to more safely remove them? Can we imagine anyone, with a straight face, proposing to openly burn millions of pounds of explosives near Manhattan or Seattle?
This is the kind of scenario that some might place under the umbrella of “environmental racism,” in which disproportionately low-income and minority communities are either targeted or disproportionately exposed to toxic and hazardous materials and waste facilities.
There is a long history in this country of exposing vulnerable populations to toxicity.
Fifteen years ago, Robert D. Bullard published Dumping in Dixie: Race, Class and Environmental Quality. In it, he pointed out that nearly 60 percent of the nation’s hazardous-waste landfill capacity was in “five Southern states (i.e., Alabama, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas),” and that “four landfills in minority ZIP codes areas represented 63 percent of the South’s total hazardous-waste capacity” although “blacks make up only about 20 percent of the South’s total population.”
More recently, in 2012, a study by researchers at Yale found that “The greater the concentration of Hispanics, Asians, African-Americans or poor residents in an area, the more likely that potentially dangerous compounds such as vanadium, nitrates and zinc are in the mix of fine particles they breathe.”
Among the injustices perpetrated on poor and minority populations, this may in fact be the most pernicious and least humane: the threat of poisoning the very air that you breathe.
I have skin in this game. My family would fall in the shadow of the plume. But everyone should be outraged about this practice. Of all the measures of equality we deserve, the right to feel assured and safe when you draw a breath should be paramount.
BTW, Bullard’s website with lots of links can be found here: Environmental Justice / Environmental Racism
I just get so damn sick about all this.
But if you want some more sick shit to read, the Koch Brothers.
And again…going back to the pop culture of the day…that link will take you to an article and then a video with a discussion from Cenk Unger and Ben Mankiewicz .
In other news, something that is really becoming too frequent a headline. Yet another college athlete is accused of raping a woman…this time it is a swimmer. Fancy that? Former Stanford swimmer accused of raping unconscious woman on campus – LA Times
…former Stanford University swimmer will face several felony charges after prosecutors say he raped a woman as she lay unconscious on campus grounds.
Brock Allen Turner, 19, is expected to be formally charged Wednesday with five felony counts, including rape of an unconscious woman, rape of an intoxicated woman and two counts of sexual assault with a foreign object, the Santa Clara County district attorney’s office told The Times.
Early on the morning on Jan. 18, prosecutors say, two men riding bikes on campus spotted a man later identified as Turner on top of an unconscious woman. Turner ran away, but the pair tackled him. A third person called police.
Turner was arrested, booked into the Santa Clara County Jail and released after posting $150,000 bail, prosecutors said. He’s scheduled to be arraigned Feb. 2.
It is a good thing those two bike dudes went after the asshole.
Just a few more pops on the pop links: Gabrielle Union Says Smart Things About Ferguson, the NFL, Hollywood
On the events in Ferguson and Eric Garner in New York, Yahoo points out that she generally tries to stay positive in her public comments and Union acknowledges that she makes an effort to be responsible about what she says publicly:
There’s a bit of a gap between what I really want to say and what I know is responsible to say. The general lack of compassion for your fellow man is really frustrating. I think what the protesters are saying, or at least some of them, is it’s not just about police brutality. It’s about a widespread systematic crippling of some people in this country by birthright, and no one’s acknowledging it. There may be a power shakeup if you’re really going to do something about it. A lot of people aren’t interested in that. They say, “It’s not that bad. We have Barack Obama. We’re good.” Or, “You’re not getting lynched.” They’re not acknowledging the institutional racism that impacts daily lives.
You should read the other things Unions says, it is nice to see a smart woman being quoted…too bad it probably won’t get much attention outside of Yahoo Entertainment and Jezebel.
Also, in History News, Seventy Years After Auschwitz, One Survivor Has Her Revenge – Truthdig
Eva Slonim was a child when she was taken to Auschwitz, where she was tortured and experimented on by Dr. Josef Mengele.
The camps that made up the Auschwitz complex were liberated 70 years ago by Soviet troops. But not before the Nazis killed 1.1 million prisoners there.
Slonim was held with her twin sister in a special section of the camp, which had to do with Mengele’s fascination with twins.
She tells the Australian Broadcasting Corp. she is still haunted by the trauma: “I have this madness about locking the bedroom door every night, and I have a light under the door so I can see if there are any boots there.”
But, Eva Slonim says, she got her revenge in the end, by producing a large family to take the place of the one she lost. She lives in Melbourne, Australia, and has 27 grandchildren.
Have you seen this?
Finally, let’s get a little Medieval on ya: Erik Kwakkel • A horse on wheels, what’s not to love? Great…
A horse on wheels, what’s not to love? Great post.
Medieval Connections to ‘Classical Roots’
This manuscript (British Library, Royal MS 20 D I) of the Histoire ancienne jusqu’à César (‘Ancient history up to Caesar’) is the earliest surviving manuscript of the second redaction of this work. This redaction, like this manuscript, was produced in Naples around 1330-1340. It focuses on the story of Troy, which is no longer taken from Dares, a supposed eyewitness of the fall of Troy, but from the prose version of Benoît de Sainte-Maure’s Roman de Troie. As a result, it is much more extensive.
The goal of these types of histories was to join the classical past and the medieval present. The author, therefore, did not always keep historical accuracy in mind if it did not fit his purpose. This allowed nobles to bind themselves and their families to classical founders.
I love that the horse is supposed to represent the wooden horse, and the scribe/artist drew the thing with wood-like knots and tree rings as the pattern of the horse itself.
But I wonder if a large wooden badger would not have been more appropriate?
Have a wonderful day and for Gawds sake…watch out for the Knights who say Ni!
This was going to be a kick ass post, honestly…that is what I planned it to be at least.
I’ve had some beautiful artsy links stashed away for weeks that I know you will all enjoy, but once again real life is kicking me in the ass, and I find myself writing this post in an exhausted state of mind.
The first part of September is usually busy, since both kids birthdays hit in the middle of the month…bam, bam, right after one another. Then comes the Homecoming Football game, and while the kids are not involved in that fiasco, Bebe is going to the Homecoming dance.
So as I write about a few news stories, take a look at homecoming queens from the past. Some of them are “celebrities” and I bet you will be able to spot them off the bat.
(On a side note, it was a disturbing bit of news to find out that the girl who won for one of the Homecoming court for Banjoville’s High School, got it because she sent nude pictures of herself i.e. sexting, to all the boys in her graduating class. When you see the pictures think about that nugget of insight into life as a teenager in today’s world. My daughter was disgusted about it, but as she was saying, so many of the students just take it as normal behavior. And that is what makes it disturbing as hell.)
Alrighty then….on with the day’s reads:
Northwestern Florida was thought to get hit by a hurricane with a five-meter (16-foot) storm surge every 400 years. In fact, the frequency may be every 40 years.
Wow, talk about a great way to grab you in?
Today (September 23, 2014), the American Geophysical Union released a study suggesting that the history of storm surge in the U.S. state of Florida has been strongly underestimated. They say the observational hurricane record for northwestern Florida is just 160 years long, yet hurricane activity is known to vary strongly over thousands of years. Digging back into the prehistorical hurricane record, Lin et al. find that scientists’ reliance on such a narrow slice of observations has led them to underestimate the frequency with which large hurricanes have slammed into Florida’s Gulf Coast.
Based on historical records, northwestern Florida gets hit by a hurricane packing a five-meter (16-foot) storm surge every 400 years. Incorporating long-term paleohurricane records, the authors find that the frequency of such a storm is actually closer to every 40 years.
When strong storms batter the shore, waves can carry sediment far inland. Digging down into the sediment record, researchers can reproduce the occurrence of past storm surge. Using a hurricane model and storm surge sediment observations, the authors calculated the intensity and frequency of past hurricanes in Florida’s Apalachee Bay. They find that while the frequency of hurricanes hitting the Gulf Coast has remained relatively the same over the past few thousand years, the storms’ average intensities have been, at times, much higher than during the past 160 years.
Based on their paleohurricane storm surge observations, the authors suggest that, historically, northwestern Florida would see a storm surge of 6.3 meters (20.7 feet) every 100 years, 8.3 meters (27.2 feet) every 500 years, and 11.3 meters (37.1 feet) in a worst case scenario event. A storm surge of eight meters (26 feet), they say, would push tens of kilometers (miles) inland.
I don’t know how all that relates..but in other climate news:
Presidents and diplomats aren’t the only ones calling for climate action at the United Nations. During the opening ceremony of today’s climate summit, Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner—a 26-year-old poet from the Marshall Islands—spoke eloquently about the threat that rising seas pose to her country.
Jetnil-Kijiner warned delegates of the high price of inaction and described the current challenge as a “race to save humanity.”
“Those of us from Oceania are already experiencing it first hand,” she said. “We’ve seen waves crashing into our homes…We look at our children and wonder how they will know themselves or their culture should we lose our islands.”
Video at link.
Now, an article on privilege. You know, the Black and Muslim kind. White Evangelicals Think They’re Discriminated Against More Than Blacks, Jews, and Muslims | The Daily Banter
The Pew Forum has released a doozy of a poll about religion in public life in the United States showing that white evangelical Christians possess grossly overdeveloped feelings of victimhood. Given that the voting bloc evangelicals comprise is one of the most heavily pandered to in American politics, and given the fact that evangelicals themselves are the cause of some very real discrimination, there is thus a mountainous irony at play here.
In a survey of 2,002 Americans, Pew found that 72% believe that religious influence is waning in the country, and sadly, 56% regard this as a “negative development.” A disturbing 59% of Americans say they want members of Congress to “have strong religious beliefs.” When it comes to discrimination, believe it or not, more Americans think that evangelicals are discriminated against than atheists. Here’s the breakdown of the religious/irreligious groups Pew asked about:
Perceptions of Discrimination in U.S.
% saying there is a lot of discrimination against…
Evangelical Christians 31%
Like the members of the four other groups listed here, evangelicals are probably more likely to perceive discrimination against them than they are when it comes to outside groups. However, this next breakdown shows the staggering degree to which evangelical Christians — and let’s emphasize that since that is after all the majority religious group in the country — think they are victims of discrimination:
Go to the link to see the graphs from Pew…
Notice that of white evangelicals, white mainline Protestants, black Protestants, white Catholics, Hispanic Catholics, and those who are unaffiliated with any religion, it’s white evangelicals who are much more likely to think “there is a lot of discrimination” against them, with 50% believing their demographic is discriminated against “a lot.”
Amazingly, white evangelicals believe there is more discrimination against them than there is against Muslims, blacks, Hispanics, Jews, and atheists.
However, this will not come as a surprise to anyone who’s been paying attention to the grumblings from evangelical circles about their phantasmagoric plight in an increasingly secular society. This narrative, which has been spoon-fed to them for decades by self-serving preachers, politicians, and pundits, enables white evangelicals to interpret measures designed to stop discrimination against others as actually being discriminatory against the evangelical way of life. For example, it was just last week when televangelist Pat Robertson went on a nonsensical rant explaining why the U.S. Air Force’s decision to let an atheist reenlistee omit the words “So help me god” from his oath, was yet another instance of the armed forces being “terrorized” by secularists.
You know this reminds me of something I saw on Monday while taking Jake to the Endocrine doctor in Atlanta. It was a big van…maybe a church van? I don’t know, but it had two bumper stickers on it. One read, “We praise the Lord Jesus Christ at blah blah Baptist Church” and the other sticker read, “No Amnesty” Protect our southern border.” I have to tell you, it was a van with a Georgia license plate. So, very “Christian” of them innit?
Anyway, read the rest of that Daily Banter post at the link.
Up next, a few links on Obama and Hillary. Not stories about them together however…
Listen to Obama’s remarks, however, and it’s clear that the president favors a few “special” words to describe the totally-not-a-war war the U.S. is waging in Iraq and Syria.
- “Effort” Perhaps Obama’s favorite euphemism for what the U.S. is up to. In his September 10 address, Obama distinguished the “wars” in Iraq and Afghanistan from the “effort” against ISIS. “This counter-terrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out ISIL wherever they exist, using our air power and our support for partner forces on the ground,” Obama explained. In his weekly address on Saturday, the president said that “[t]his is an effort that America has the unique ability to lead.”
- “Process” Asked in August 28 press conference whether he planned to seek congressional authorization for military action against ISIS, Obama sounded like the caricature of the professorial, technocratic president his critics purport him to be. “You know, I have consulted with Congress throughout this process,” Obama replied. “I am confident that as commander in chief I have the authorities to engage in the acts that we are conducting currently.”
- “Fight” As close as Obama’s willing to get to saying the W-word. Speaking to reporters on Tuesday before departing for the United Nations, Obama said that U.S. air strikes in Iraq and Syria were “not America’s fight alone,” echoing his September 20 address in which he said that it was “a fight in which all countries have a stake.”
- “Campaign” Not unlike a swing through Iowa and New Hampshire! Explaining his expansion of the war into Syria on Tuesday, the president noted, “I made clear that as part of this campaign the United States would take action against targets in both Iraq and Syria so that these terrorists can’t find safe haven anywhere.”
- “A Moment of American Leadership.” Concluding his radio address on Saturday, Obama called this “a moment of American leadership … a moment we will meet.” Leadership. Exceptionalism. America.
In other words, this war is totally, definitely not a war.
The next story is something you just need to go and read in full…it is way too convoluted to quote from. Tommy Christopher: The Reason Why President Obama Nominated a Pro-Confederate, Anti-Choice Judge | The Daily Banter
As for Hillary, more shit is being flung her way: WND: Hillary Clinton Tolerates Rape Of Women | Right Wing Watch
WorldNetDaily columnist Gina Loudon is promoting her book “What Women Really Want” by arguing today that Republicans should be “giddy” about the prospect of running against Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential race.
She calls on GOP politicians to attack Clinton for supposedly tolerating rape and other forms of violence against women: “If she stood passive while Islamic women were raped and stoned to death, what will she passively let happen to women were she president of the United States?”
Loudon goes on to claim that immigration reform and gun policy reform are part of the real “war on women.”
The first war is one where women are being serially gang-raped and stoned to death by Islamists across the world who believe women are only one-fifth of a person. If a woman is raped, under Shariah law, five men must testify that they witnessed the woman being raped. Otherwise, she is stoned to death in front of her friends and family. Christian and Jewish women are being led like lambs to slaughter by Islamists. There is definitely a war on women, but not the one the statist elites in D.C. like to pretend is happening. That is but a ruse designed to distract the simple minded.
Where are the old-school feminists who cussed conservative icons like Phyllis Schlafly and burned their bras in protest of equal pay, in the face of this bloody war on women? Do equal rights not to be stoned matter less than equal pay or birth control?
Where is Hillary on this? If I were GOP leadership, I would be giddy about the thought of a Hillary run. Aside from Benghazi, think about a campaign based on what she never did to stop the real war on women. If she stood passive while Islamic women were raped and stoned to death, what will she passively let happen to women were she president of the United States?
What the hell? I know, it is all shit talk. And there is more at that link.
Then you have this crap over at Politico about Chelsea and the “royal baby” What Should Chelsea Clinton Name Her Baby? – Adam B. Lerner – POLITICO Magazine
merica’s royal baby is on its way. I’m talking, of course, about the next member of the Clinton dynasty, whose arrival is by all accounts imminent. During a Sunday interview with CNN, Bill Clinton expressed his hope that “by the first of October, I’ll be a grandfather.” He also insisted that neither he nor his daughter knows whether or not the baby will be a boy or a girl.
Hillary Clinton weighed in too, admitting Friday that she’s “on grandbaby watch.” So, apparently, is the entire U.S. press corps. Because let’s face it: We love our own political dynasties as much as any British tabloid editor. As Mark Twain once put it, “Unquestionably the person that can get lowest down in cringing before royalty and nobility, and can get most satisfaction out of crawling on his belly before them, is an American. Not all Americans, but when an American does it he makes competition impossible.”
We admit it—much of the speculation about Chelsea Clinton’s newborn child is a bit premature and, frankly, more than a little ridiculous. It’s crazy to think that the 2016 presidential election could hinge on whether Hillary can take advantage of her new grandmotherly image, rather than, say, the state of the economy or the candidates’ positioning on other key issues.
Still, political insiders who analyze the Clintons’ every last move can rest assured: This is a family very in tune with their public image. Is it altogether nuts to think that they’d at least muse about the political opportunity presented by Chelsea’s baby?
The thing gets better, with name suggestions that are popular in Iowa and New Hampshire. One thing however, there is a picture of Chelsea with a big belly at the link.
Y’all have heard or read about the speech Emma Watson gave at the UN right? Emma Watson calls on men to help fight gender inequality: ‘It’s your issue too’
The website for – He For She
Well, check this out: What is 4Chan? And why does it threaten women like Emma Watson? – The Independent
What or who is 4chan? And why are they such utter douchebags? That is the train of thought that presents itself at news that 4chan, implicated in the leaking of nude photos of celebrities, is now apparently targeting Emma Watson, after the 24-year-old actress gave a rousing speech to the UN on Monday, not only addressing that favourite topic of the internet’s masses of misogynists, feminism, but daring to call for more men to take up the banner of gender equality.
The first question has an easy answer and a more complicated one. Simply, 4chan is an image-board website set up in 2003, by a 15-year-old insomniac. Posters start a thread with a picture; others can then comment. Loopiness runs right across the site. Users can lay some claim to setting the tastes of ‘the internet’: cats are, and have always been, big; trace the genesis of defining memes – Chocolate Rain, RickRolling – and you’ll end up somewhere in 4chan. Except, you may not. Old content on the site gets wiped to make space for the newer stuff – it’s up to other sites to archive what’s considered ‘valuable’; the jokes, the memes, the stolen nudes.
Then there’s /b/, the Random forum. It’s here that things can get a little ugly, and where the group (‘cultural movement’ is too flattering) known as Anonymous first took shape (users post as ‘Anon’ if they don’t specify a username). I spent a little time there about 5 years ago for a piece of coursework. It’s dirty and defiant about it: lots of porn, lots of racism, lots of sexism. If you object to such things, volubly, you a) won’t speak the same language of other users and b) will invite some fairly stiff abuse. Unsurprisingly, users are thought to belong predominantly in the young, white and male demographic. Humour ranges from the dark and funny to dark and hideously depressing.
It looks like many of those Anonymous hackers are part of this site:
It gets complicated when you try and define who or what Anonymous is. They are of course anonymous. Plus, there’s a loose hierarchy; when the group takes up a mass action – say, trying to shut down the Visa and Mastercard websites, in support of Julian Assange – the leaders work in tight-knit cells, then open their plans to the floor, so all the millions of other /b/ users can pile in. Gabriella Coleman, the foremost academic working on 4chan, reckons that something like a fifth of 4chan users are the ‘hackers’ that take precedence in media reporting, the rest, plain old geeks and freaks.
The thing is, since her speech, a threat against Watson has been made on the site…
All of which is to say, it’s pretty hard to tell the exact parties responsible for “Emma You Are Next” message and the countdown clock expiring in a few days’ time. There’s no such thing as a 4chan project organised from on-high but it’s perfectly that the website was set up by one or two regulars on the board. Equally possibly, they’re bluffing: /b/ has a history of hoaxing, and BusinessInsider reckons that’s what’s going on here. What isn’t in doubt, however, is that a few users have posted some vile stuff about Emma Watson: “It is real and going to happen this weekend”, said one “That feminist b*** Emma is going to show the world she is as much of a whore as any woman.”
Oh, that is just a taste of the shit comments and backlash Emma is getting. It really pisses me off. Anyway, be sure to go back to the Independent article on the 4Chan site and finish reading about that sub-culture. It goes hand in hand with the attitude we see the male video gaming developers have towards women…the politicians on the Hill have towards women. And it all sucks ass.
In a related story, from earlier in September: High Schoolers Protest Sexist Dress Code That’s Landed More Than 100 Girls In Detention | ThinkProgress
Students at a Staten Island high school are frustrated with a strict new dress code that’s landing girls in detention for wearing shorts, despite the fact that many of their classrooms don’t have air conditioning. After the school reportedly gave detention to 200 kids — 90 percent of whom were female students — teens are gearing up for a protest again the rules.
The interim principal at Tottenville High School recently changed the dress code to prohibit tank tops, low-cut shirts, and shorts that don’t reach fingertip length. But it’s been hot during the first few weeks of school, and students say it doesn’t make sense to crack down on them for dressing comfortably for their “sweltering” classrooms.
“That’s what girls wear when it’s hot out. It’s unfair to them,” a senior at the school told the Staten Island Advance.
Both male and female students have complained that the dress code is “sexist” and “biased” toward young women. “Tottenville should just be an all boys school considering this dress code is only affecting the girls,” one teen pointed out. Another said it was “humiliating to be pulled aside like an object” to be told that her outfit was inappropriate.
Amid the growing controversy, school district officials released a statement noting they reserve the right to enforce a dress code in cases when students’s clothing “creates a distraction, is dangerous, or interferes with the learning and teaching process.”
Schools typically justify their dress codes by maintaining that it’s important to keep the classroom free from distractions; however, that language actually reinforces the idea that women’s bodies are inherently tempting to men and it’s their responsibility to cover themselves up. Students and parents across the country are increasingly pushing back against the double standard, saying that it sends harmful messages about gender stereotypes to kids. After all, if students are taught that girls need to dress a certain way so they don’t “distract” boys, that ultimately furthers the idea that boys can’t control themselves — and that unwanted sexual attention is sometimes justified because girls are “asking for it” with their short skirts and low-cut tops.
Uh, on the “asking for it” stance, you know if they say no…there is always a way to turn that into a yes: Limbaugh on Sexual Assault: “No Means Yes If You Know How to Spot It”
The sweaty armpit of talk radio now fancies himself to be a “seduction” expert. On his show today, Rush Limbaugh decried Ohio State’s new policy instructing students to get explicit, verbal consent before having sex, because “no means yes if you know how to spot it.”
The context for that statement doesn’t help. Limbaugh apparently misses the good ol’ days when rape was just a “misunderstanding.” Here’s his argument, as recorded by Media Matters:
Seduction used to be an art, now of course it’s “brutish” and it’s “predatory” … [According to Ohio State policy,] consent must be freely given, can be withdrawn anytime, and the absence of “no” does not mean “yes.” How many guys, in your own experience with women, have learned that no means yes if you know how to spot it? … Are these [policies] not lawsuits waiting to happen?
Perhaps, sadly, this isn’t the case, but guys like Rush Limbaugh should expect to be arrested and prosecuted if they rape someone.
Meanwhile…you don’t want to be raped by a cop? Cop’s Tip For Not Getting Raped By A Cop: ‘Don’t Get Pulled Over’
In response to the arrests of three law enforcement officials in Oklahoma for sexually assaulting women while on the job, an Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper told women they can avoid getting raped by a cop if they simply follow traffic laws.
Raw Story first pointed out on Tuesday that Capt. George Brown, a state trooper, shared a few tips for women in an interview with local NBC News affiliate KJRH. Brown told the KJRH anchor that women can keep their car doors locked and speak through a cracked window if a trooper approaches them. If the trooper asks a woman to get out of the car, Brown said, she can ask “in a polite way” why he wants her to do that.
But the “best tip that he can give,” the anchor said on air of his interview with Brown, “is to follow the law in the first place so you don’t get pulled over.”
Brown said Oklahoma law enforcement officials are working to retain the public’s trust. “There are entirely more good officers than there are the few bad apples that exist out there, and we want people to know that,” Brown told KJRH. “We have a lot of good troopers, a lot of good officers out there doing a lot of good things daily, and we want to continue that and have the public continue their trust in us.”
Holy Shit! Emma Watson has a hell of a way to go in her fight to get men to treat women in a equally respectful manner.
And then there is the abortion issue: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Thinks This Justice Is Responsible For Halting Access To Abortions
Guess who Ginsburg calls out?
I will end this section of the thread with some good old fashioned pick-up lines…. The Greatest Movie Pick-Up Lines – Esquire
All 50 of them, from George Clooney to Will Ferrell and everything in between
“Will you marry me? Did he leave you any money? Answer the second question first.”
Groucho Marx, Duck Soup (1933)
Video at the link.
This post is getting real long…so on the quick:
That is not the famous Dorothea Lange photo. Nor are any of these photos the iconic pictures you know. Instead, they are recreations starring the one-and-only John Malkovich. In a new exhibit (opening November 7th at the Catherine Edelman Gallery) entitled, “Malkovich, Malkovich, Malkovich: Homage to photographic masters”, photographer Sandro Miller recreates some of photography’s most well-known pictures using the chameleon-like actor as his subject. The results are nothing short of perfect.
And I will end with this little story about being homesick for your hometown subway system. I guess we all have a homecoming we long for in our minds…(I prefer NYC subways to say, those in DC. Actually, NYC subways are exciting to me. Go figure.)…some are just darker or better mapped out than others.
I am a city girl, accustomed to negotiating public transport, but faced with MTA’s needlessly complex map and messy signage, I become an overawed simpleton
The best, most chilling dystopian novels are built around a simple idea: a world very much like the one we live in, except with little things slightly askew. You know: where the images appear sharp and crisp – until you get to the edges and find them blurry, smeared with Vaseline. Think of a book with an opening scene set in a village in rural England. There’s a winding country lane, and in the distance can be heard the relentlessly tuneful whistle of a milkman, and the gentle moo of a cow. Yes, there are still milkmen and there are still cows, but look closer: the cows are wearing smart white coats and jaunty little hats, delivering milk extracted from humans. Terrifying image, isn’t it?
For the past couple of weeks, I have been trapped in a dystopia of sorts. I am in New York, ostensibly on a sabbatical, during which I intended to rattle off a 400-page thriller and maybe have a romcom-style meet-cute in Central Park. Instead, I have found myself spiralling into hysteria, driven slowly mad by the New York subway. On first appearance, it is like the London underground – trains, tickets, announcements, the crush of bodies. But then, slowly, the entire system reveals itself to you. It is the work of a sadist, cooked up in a fever dream and delivered with a flourish and an unhinged grin. I cannot believe I am about to type these words, but here we are: New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority has made me homesick for Transport for London. And I will never forgive New York for this.
No don’t say that! Anyway, enjoy that…And have a great day!
There must be a thing, something beyond denial, that people with all sense and reason experience. Beyond comprehension it seems. Beyond explanation. Even now as I write these words…the mind and heart do not move forward and process the thing I was told last Friday.
“…is HIV Positive, he has had HIV for over 11 years…”
My Uncle. My fabulously “gay” uncle. Who is only 18 months older than me.
HIV for 11 years. No. Why couldn’t he tell me. (He did not tell his sister for the first three years.) He is too smart to be so foolish…he knew to take care of himself. No, we’ve already made it past the late 80s and 90s, he got through that fine. (I suppose.) No. He would never get HIV. I knew the truth. He was my secret super hero….
You see, my uncle was on his way to an emergency room, there was something wrong internally. My Aunt was worried, she had to let me know the whole story.
My Aunt told me this on Friday, even she said her timing was shitty. She felt that it was something he should’ve told me on his own, face to face, but with the emergency situation at hand, she thought it was best I knew everything.
It was during a big lunch that included ten of my kids’ friends…my friend Cindy, my daughter’s boyfriend’s mother (it was our first meeting) and his two younger brothers and the rest of our circus of a family…but I could not react like I wanted to. The boyfriend caught my aunt holding me up near the Honey Baked Ham…he knew something had happened. He told Bebe, but she saw how well I hid everything and didn’t think anything was wrong. When the shit hits the fan as much as it does, you get used to the splatter.
Well, that crowd finally left, and I could act like a normal human being and fucking cry and sob uncontrollably, it still did not seem real to me.
JD could not have HIV, we were beyond the point of concern. I thought he was safe…I mean…The idea that he could even get it was out of the question. To me he was like “Super Fag” (and I don’t mean that in any derogatory way). He was invincible, and impervious to any disease. Like his t-cells had some super human power to withstand any viral attacks from evil outside forces. All he needed was a little super “Fagsuit” with a rainbow cape and a catchy theme song or memorable send off line…
You must understand this. JD is wonderful, funny, talented and loving. He is such a special, good person.
He is still invincible to me because even now I can’t get past this. I cannot process this information. My mother, father, husband….they all said it was something they expected…no surprise.
But for me, it fucking hit me out of nowhere.
How do you describe this feeling? This emotion…I am not in denial. I know that he has HIV. But the words do not register in my brain, and they certainly do not register in my heart.
After a weekend of worry, waiting for a diagnosis, it turns out to be an abdominal abscess. He does not realize how bad this thing really was, he had some special type of IV that pumped the heavy duty antibiotics directly into his aorta. Scary stuff. He went home yesterday evening. I am so thankful for this.
Next step is talking to JD on the phone, he is glad that I know and sorry he did not tell me himself when we saw each other the last time 5 years ago…during my Nana’s memorial. But I can hear the tears in his voice on the message he left me today. What can I say to him? All I want to do is hug him and make him laugh…like he always makes me laugh. I love him so much.
Boston Boomer told me that writing about this might make me feel better, I don’t know, it is all still numbing to me. Don’t take offense to the cartoons, I needed something funny to contrast what my return post was focused on, my humor is a twisted sort of way…but then you all know me so well.
Now for a quick group of links.
Thank you BB and Dak for covering for me these past couple weeks. I love you both so very much. ;)
Jake is still all over the place on his sugar levels, but yesterday he started his first job. I only hope they are more supportive of diabetics than this employer out in California.
Josefina Hernandez worked as a cashier at a California Walgreens store for 18 years. About five years into her tenure, she was diagnosed with Type II diabetes, a condition she reported to her employer.
In the 13 years that Hernandez worked for Walgreens after being diagnosed with diabetes, Walgreens allowed Hernandez to keep candy nearby in case of low blood sugar, keep her insulin in the break room refrigerator and take additional breaks to test her blood sugar or eat because of her diabetes.
In that 13-year time period, there was only one time when Hernandez asked to take an additional break to eat food because of low blood sugar. Apparently, the accommodations provided by Walgreens were working out just fine.
But then came the famous Chip Theft of 2008.
Hernandez was returning items in a shopping cart to shelves when she noted she was shaking and sweating from low blood sugar. She didn’t have any candy with her and was in the magazine aisle, so she opened a $1.39 bag of potato chips that was in the cart and ate some of them.
After 10 minutes, when she started feeling better, Hernandez said, she went to pay for the chips at the cosmetic counter (where she had been instructed to pay for store items) but no one was there. Hernandez put the potato chips under the counter at her cash register and returned to restocking items. She later paid for the chips when her cashier duties were finished.
Seems reasonable right? However, her manager sounds like he votes Republican.
An assistant store manager spotted the chips and asked whose they were. Hernandez said the chips were hers. The assistant manager reported Hernandez to the store manager for taking the chips.
After meeting with store management, Hernandez was suspended and then terminated for violating the store’s “anti-grazing” policy.
According to court testimony, Walgreens officials said the company incurs significant losses from employee theft, estimated at exceeding $350 million per year. In order to combat the problem, Walgreens has a strict policy against employee theft in the form of “grazing” — eating food merchandise without paying for it first — that applies to all employees.
The store manager testified he was “absolutely certain” about terminating Hernandez because she took the chips in violation of company policy, and that he believed there was no “gray area” or “discretion” under Walgreens’ policy.
You can read the details of the settlement here: America’s Largest Drug Store Chain to Pay $180,000 to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Suit | U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) – JDSupra
Drugstore giant Walgreens has agreed to pay $180,000 to a longtime employee with diabetes and to implement revised policies and training to settle a federal disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.
Terminating a qualified employee because of a disability violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The law also requires an employer to provide reasonable accommodation to an employee or job applicant with a disability, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship for the employer. After an investigation by EEOC investigator Carlos Rocha, and after attempting to resolve the case through pre-litigation conciliation efforts, the EEOC filed the lawsuit (EEOC v. Walgreen Company, Case No. CV 11-04470) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
On Apr. 14, U.S. District Judge William Orrick noted that “Walgreen has failed to allege any misconduct that is unrelated to her disability,” and denied Walgreens’ motion for summary judgment. At this hearing, Walgreens’ own legal counsel acknowledged Hernandez as a long-term valued employee with a very good track record, and described her termination as a “harsh result” perceived by the EEOC as unfair.
“Not only was this harsh and unfair, but it was illegal, and that’s why the EEOC sued to correct this wrong,” said EEOC San Francisco Regional Attorney William R. Tamayo. “People may think this case revolves around theft, but the real issue is how a company responded to a valued 18-year employee, whom it knew for 13 years to be diabetic, and who attempted to pay for the chips after she recovered from her hypoglycemic attack.”
Wow, good for Josefina! At last some good news about the “little” guy beating the big company assholes.
The rest of today’s links in dump fashion:
Tom Petty is stepping up to the mic:
Over in Britain they are asking why here in America are there so many Hot car deaths: The children left behind
Sticking with children for a bit longer.
The brown babies are getting a brown senator worked up: (But I guess Cuban is the “good” sort of brown?)
But hey, if the Christian right wing assholes aren’t trying to send the immigrant children back to the hell they are escaping, they are trying to save them from Hell by teaching them “Jesus” saves!
Fucking religious people piss me off.
And it works all ways:
This is something too:
On the “I don’t know karate, but I know…”…crazy front: BBC News – ‘Eighty new genes linked to schizophrenia’
And last bit of news, those off-shore wind farms are like an all you can eat buffet for seals: Seals forage at offshore wind farms
By using sophisticated GPS tracking to monitor seals’ every movement, researchers have shown for the first time that some individuals are repeatedly drawn to offshore wind farms and pipelines. Those man-made structures probably serve as artificial reefs and attractive hunting grounds, according to a study published in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on July 21.
“I was shocked when I first saw the stunning grid pattern of a seal track around Sheringham Shoal,” an offshore wind farm in the United Kingdom, says Deborah Russell of the University of St Andrews. “You could see that the individual appeared to travel in straight lines between turbines, as if he was checking them out for potential prey and then stopping to forage at certain ones.”
Russell and her colleagues tagged harbor and gray seals on the British and Dutch coasts of the North Sea. Their data showed 11 harbor seals within two active wind farms, Alpha Ventus in Germany and Sheringham Shoal in the southeast UK. At both sites, some individual seals regularly entered the wind farms and, in some cases, showed these striking grid-like movement patterns as they appeared to forage at individual turbines.
The researchers also observed both gray and harbor seals associating with subsea pipelines. Two seals in the Netherlands encountered a section of pipeline and followed it on multiple trips for up to 10 days at a time.
There is a video illustration at the link.
The researchers now hope to continue their research to understand the population consequences of the massive planned developments. For instance, no one knows yet whether wind farms increase the total amount of prey available to seals or simply concentrate prey in a new and man-made location, making the prey particularly vulnerable to predation. The researchers say it will be imperative to resolve this uncertainty so that anthropogenic structures can be designed and managed to reduce adverse and increase any positive effects of these structures.
One newspaper from Dalton has the most up to date and thorough report of the assault since it was first reported. From the Dalton Daily Citizen: Charges pending against students in post-prom rape
The alleged rape of a 18-year-old female high school student the Saturday night of May 10 or 11 is being investigated by Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office detectives and the district attorney’s office, Sheriff Stacy Nicholson said Monday. The incident at 20 Edgewater Drive in Coosawattee River Resort primarily involved older teenagers from Calhoun High School who traveled here after their high school prom — and brought plenty of alcohol with them.
A student from Southeast Whitfield High School was also involved, Nicholson confirmed. The parents of one of the Calhoun students own the cabin, according to a sheriff’s office release.
The article continues,
The GBI crime lab is examining evidence from a sexual assault exam kit that includes DNA sampling, Nicholson said. An incident report defines what is alleged to have happened as “strongarm rape.” Three Calhoun High males and the Southeast male student are listed as suspects in the report.
“There was enough alcohol there to float a canoe down the Coosawattee River,” Nicholson said.
“Right at 27 kids came over here (to Ellijay),” he continued. “It doesn’t look like it was planned to be that big a party, (and) there is some evidence her parents didn’t know it was going to be that big — it was supposed to be 6 to 8 girls — there was maybe one or two that were not drinking. The next day the victim, who had some injuries, was taken by her family to the Calhoun hospital, but they were not set up to do the sexual assault exam and she was brought to North Georgia Medical Center.”
The first week after the incident was spent by investigators interviewing the kids involved, he said, with more follow-up interviews this week.
“At this point we have taken some evidence that is being examined by the GBI and their crime lab, and we’re waiting for results,” Nicholson explained. “My detectives and I have had multiple discussions about this case, and with the district attorney. We’ve got help from the DA’s investigators and limited assistance of the GBI in interviewing folks. We want to wait until our forensics come back before we do anything more. No arrests have been made but several are pending.”
He said charges could range from the sexual assault itself to “numerous people” lying to investigators and underage alcohol consumption.
Nicholson was asked if he knew where the alcohol was obtained.
“No, and that’s not the main focus, but it certainly is a focus,” he replied. “It appears that that can’t be linked to one person or the owners of the cabin solely. It looks like there were just a whole host of people that attended the party and brought alcohol.”
The cabin looks as though it belongs to a female student, at least that is what this next paragraph alludes to regarding how the students got into the gated community:
“You can pretty much get through those gates if you have the address and lot number, and I’m sure the girl (whose parents own the cabin) said these cars are going to be with me,” he said.
Property owners “must arrange for any person(s) entry to the (Coosawattee River Resort Association) in advance and must be responsible for that person(s),” the resort’s rules and regulations state.
The Sheriff discussed the investigation as “difficult” but it is encouraging to know that there is charging pending. After so long a period of silence…this was all the investigators needed to say.
“Number one, you’ve got a bunch of teenagers, and secondly, they were drinking moderately to heavily — and a lot of their memories are not clear,” he explained. “So we’ve had to wade through the muddy, vague waters to piece together the story. It’s been like a jigsaw puzzle. What I see here is a group of decent kids who were celebrating a milestone in their lives, and they threw alcohol in the mix. They were completely unattended by any adult supervision whatsoever, and a really bad thing has happened.”
Nicholson said after listening to a three-hour interview of the alleged victim and seeing the evidence, he was “disturbed.”
Does he think the evidence will be returned before Calhoun High’s graduation Friday night?
“A rush request has been made by the district attorney’s office, but I’d be afraid to say,” he replied. “The (Calhoun) superintendent has asked me if I can officially give her the suspects’ names. She’s extremely concerned about graduation, about what kind of riot or circus that may turn into. But that’s for her and Gordon (County) and Calhoun to deal with … I don’t think we’ll be making an arrest by Friday.”
Nicholson said an “insinuation” has been made against his department during the investigation.
“It came completely out of the blue, that we are not looking at this hard because the victim may or may not have ingested alcohol,” he shared. “I can tell you that that’s absolutely not the truth. There are legal hurdles we have to be able to jump (to provide evidence to prosecutors), and we’re making every effort we can make to jump those hurdles. It is my intention, as it stands right now, to arrest the three individuals that are responsible for this assault.”
At any rate, it is good to know that things are moving along. I hope the graduation goes well, rumors have it that the victim will be attending.
The only other new information I have found is that according to one news report:
The police report lists the victim and five witnesses, willing to initially step forward and talk about what happened.
Still no information about the Southeast Whitfield High student that is supposedly a suspect. Will he be allowed to walk at his graduation ceremony? Guess we shall see. I will keep you in the loop.
The rest of the links just here in dump fashion (Key word being “dump”):
The turtle won his primary:
Hey Ralph, check it out:
From the Black Agenda Report:
Some serious concerns for nuke power plants:
And this headline alone is something I could not resist, here is where the “dump” part comes in:
Ah, Portland. Stumptown police responded over the weekend to a call that a “pirate” was attacking a woman’s car; they arrived to find not a pirate but a man claiming to be an evil-slaying elf, who was promptly arrested.
A woman who had stopped her car at an early morning traffic light in Northeast Portland (figures) said a man ran out from the side of the street, dressed in chain mail and brandishing a sword and shield, and began assaulting her car.
Konrad Bass told authorities he was “high-elf engaged in battle with the evil Morgoth.” After being shuttled to a nearby hospital, he admitted to taking LSD, which explains a good deal of this post. Bass was charged with “criminal mischief,” but not before striking a blow for whatever his cause: the woman’s car now has several sword slashes on its side.
Consider this an open thread.
Good Day! I’m way late with this because I simply cannot find much that isn’t just a depressing continuation of the same old same old. The Republican 2016 Clown Car looks to be filled with the same old nonsense. So, I just decided to make you all aware that they are still as crazy as ever. Can some one as stupid as Rand Paul and clearly out of the mainstrain of what generally passes as republican politics win the nomination? Not a day goes buy that Paul hasn’t cooked up some story with no basis in fact, but can the party take that and push it onto the national stage?
Not that long ago, most Republican leaders saw Rand Paul as the head of an important faction who, like his father, ultimately had no shot at becoming the party’s presidential nominee.
Now the question is no longer whether Paul can win the nomination, but whether he can win a general election.
The shift follows a year in which the Kentucky senator has barnstormed the country, trying to expand the party’s base beyond older, white voters and attract a following beyond than the libertarian devotees of his father, Ron Paul. Although the job is far from complete, Paul has made undeniable progress, judging from interviews with more than 30 Republican National Committee members meeting here this week.
That he has struck a chord with this crowd is all the more telling because it is heavy with GOP establishment-types who tend to prefer mainstream candidates.
“I don’t see how anyone could say it’s not possible he’d win the nomination,” Texas GOP chairman Steve Munisteri said. “His mission is to convince people of what his coalition would be in November” 2016.
During a speech Friday to the RNC gathering, Paul received a standing ovation after saying that the GOP didn’t need to dilute its message but that it had to communicate it better to non-traditional audiences — and suggesting implicitly that he’s the guy to do it.
I’m really confused by their continual obsession with trying to communicate their messages better. I’d say most of us hear it loud and clear and we completely reject it along with people that know what they’re doing. Economists, data and studies reject their economics message. Science rejects their messages about women’s anatomy, climate change, and the use of fracking. Humanity rejects the notion that the poor, elderly, and downtrodden should be further ground under the heals of the privileged.
Marco Rubio inkled his interest in the Presidency on the Sunday Talk Show Circuit and showed that his strong point wasn’t science at the same time. He doesn’t believe that humans are contributing to climate change. At least, he didn’t completely deny its existence. This is another one clearly caught in the Koch money trap.
Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, a GOP star and possible 2016 presidential contender, does not believe human activity is causing climate change, he said Sunday.
“I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it,” Rubio said on ABC’s “This Week.”
“I do not believe that the laws that they propose we pass will do anything about it, except it will destroy our economy,” he added.
A National Climate Assessment released by the White House last week found that Rubio’s home state of Florida is one of the most vulnerable to rising sea levels and changes in temperatures and storm patterns. President Obama has proposed several new regulatory programs to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, which most scientists say are the chief cause of a warming global climate.
Rubio said he doesn’t agree that actions humans take today could affect how the climate is changing.
“Our climate is always changing,” Rubio said. “And what they have chosen to do is take a handful of decades of research and say that this is now evidence of a longer-term trend that’s directly and almost solely attributable to manmade activities.”
My governor continues to deliberately confuse bigotry with ‘religious liberty’. Jindal doesn’t ever register on any of the polls of Republican preferences for 2016, but he’s never ending quest for relevancy and the presidency continues.
Speaking at Liberty University’s 2014 Commencement yesterday, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (R) attacked “elite” liberals who, he claimed, have launched “an assault on the freedom of expression in all areas of life.”
“Today the American people, whether they know it or not, are mired in a silent war,” Jindal began. “It is a war — a silent war — against religious liberty.” He claimed that Obama Administration’sargument against Hobby Lobby “strikes at the core of our understanding of the free exercise of religion.”
“Under the Obama regime,” he continued, “you have protection under the First Amendment as an individual, but the instant you start a business, you lose those protections. And that brings us to the second front in this silent war: the attack on our freedom of association as people of faith.”
Jindal claimed that the Obama Administration would prevent religious groups from selecting “their own ministers or rabbis.” “Thankfully,” he said, the Supreme Court decided to shoot down the administration, “so for the time being, at least, the federal government doesn’t get to decide who can preach the Gospel.”
“Make no mistake — the war over religious liberty is a war over free speech. Without the first, there is no such thing as the second.”
Deliberate misinterpretation of the first amendment seems to be en vogue these days. Just ask the Supremes. The chattering class has been pretty insistent that the Democrats will lose the Senate come elections this fall. Yet, many of the most vulnerable democratic candidates continue to hold their ground.
Democratic candidates are holding their own in three key Senate races despite a daunting political environment for their party in the upcoming midterm elections, according to new NBC News-Marist polls of Arkansas, Georgia and Kentucky.
And in one race in particular, Democrats are more than just competitive.
In Arkansas, with less than six months until Election Day 2014, incumbent Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., leads Republican challenger Tom Cotton by 11 points among registered voters, 51 percent to 40 percent. (That finding is largely in line with other polling from that race since April showing Pryor either leading or tied.)
In Georgia, Democratic Senate candidate Michelle Nunn is running neck and neck against all of her potential GOP opponents in November.
And in Kentucky, Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes is within one point of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell among registered voters, 46 percent to 45 percent.
I personally don’t see any groundswell against Mary Landrieu here in Louisiana. Most of the local papers seem to show that no one knows her potential challenger. Additionally, the Koch ads aren’t having much impact because she’s a strong supporter of the Keystone Oil Pipeline and has been running ads calling for changes in the Affordable Health Care Act. I guess we’ll see how many times these groups can change their ad messages.
One message shift is apparent from la la land. The GOP has gone mostly quiet on ObamaCare with the exception of candidate Scott Brown who wants to repeal its implementation in New Hampshire.
Republicans virtually ignored the final release of ObamaCare’s enrollment numbers and a report that healthcare spending jumped in the first quarter of 2014. Mentions of the law have dwindled in press conferences by Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), where they were a mainstay earlier this year.
And on the Senate side, the usual partisan rancor was almost completely absent during last week’s confirmation hearing for the next Health and Human Services secretary. Only a few GOP senators mentioned ObamaCare in their questions, and three Republicans failed to attend the event at all.The House has no plans to vote on ObamaCare legislation in May, according to a memo from Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) released late last month.
It is also unclear when the party’s replacement proposal for the law will come to a vote.
Despite pressure from conservatives, Cantor has not committed to put a bill on the House floor by August recess.
Democratic leaders have long insisted the law would boost their electoral hopes in the fall, and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) predicted this week that GOP opposition would haunt Republicans.
“The Republican position of repeal has become increasingly problematic for GOP Senate candidates, so it’s no surprise that they’re beginning to abandon their failed strategy of wasting millions attacking Democrats on ObamaCare,” said DSCC spokesman Justin Barasky.
On the campaign trail, it is clear that some candidates and groups are starting to pivot.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently launched its first major ad campaign looking toward the general election.
While all the ads touted GOP lawmakers’ and candidates’ work to boost the economy and create jobs, only a handful made mention of ObamaCare.
Looking toward his general election fight, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) released an ad last week that also focused on job creation.
I posted this down thread a few days ago, but really would like to end on Teddy Kennedy’s true defense of religious liberty given at Liberty Baptist College . It stands in stark contrast to the speech given by my Demon Governor. This is what religious liberty looks and sounds like.
The founders of our nation had long bitter experience with the state, as both the agent and the adversary of particular religious views. In colonial Maryland, Catholics paid a double land tax, and in Pennsylvania they had to list their names on a public roll — an ominous precursor of the first Nazi laws against the Jews. And Jews in turn faced discrimination in all of the thirteen original Colonies. Massachusetts exiled Roger Williams and his congregation for contending that civil government had no right to enforce the Ten Commandments. Virginia harassed Baptist teachers, and also established a religious test for public service, writing into the law that no “popish followers” could hold any office.
But during the Revolution, Catholics, Jews, and Non-Conformists all rallied to the cause and fought valiantly for the American commonwealth — for John Winthrop’s “city upon a hill.” Afterwards, when the Constitution was ratified and then amended, the framers gave freedom for all religion, and from any established religion, the very first place in the Bill of Rights.
Indeed the framers themselves professed very different faiths: Washington was an Episcopalian, Jefferson a deist, and Adams a Calvinist. And although he had earlier opposed toleration, John Adams later contributed to the building of Catholic churches, and so did George Washington. Thomas Jefferson said his proudest achievement was not the presidency, or the writing the Declaration of Independence, but drafting the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom. He stated the vision of the first Americans and the First Amendment very clearly: “The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time.”
The separation of church and state can sometimes be frustrating for women and men of religious faith. They may be tempted to misuse government in order to impose a value which they cannot persuade others to accept. But once we succumb to that temptation, we step onto a slippery slope where everyone’s freedom is at risk. Those who favor censorship should recall that one of the first books ever burned was the first English translation of the Bible. As President Eisenhower warned in 1953, “Don’t join the book burners…the right to say ideas, the right to record them, and the right to have them accessible to others is unquestioned — or this isn’t America.” And if that right is denied, at some future day the torch can be turned against any other book or any other belief. Let us never forget: Today’s Moral Majority could become tomorrow’s persecuted minority.
The danger is as great now as when the founders of the nation first saw it. In 1789, their fear was of factional strife among dozens of denominations. Today there are hundreds — and perhaps even thousands of faiths — and millions of Americans who are outside any fold. Pluralism obviously does not and cannot mean that all of them are right; but it does mean that there are areas where government cannot and should not decide what it is wrong to believe, to think, to read, and to do. As Professor Larry Tribe, one of the nation’s leading constitutional scholars has written, “Law in a non-theocratic state cannot measure religious truth, nor can the state impose it.”
The real transgression occurs when religion wants government to tell citizens how to live uniquely personal parts of their lives. The failure of Prohibition proves the futility of such an attempt when a majority or even a substantial minority happens to disagree. Some questions may be inherently individual ones, or people may be sharply divided about whether they are. In such cases, like Prohibition and abortion, the proper role of religion is to appeal to the conscience of the individual, not the coercive power of the state.
So, what’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Happy Mother’s Day
This is that special Sunday in May when we celebrate the mothers…so for all of those baby’s mamas out there who read the blog, let me wish you a happy day.
So take a few minutes and watch this Mother’s Day short…..Foghorn Leghorn: ▶ Mother was a Rooster – Video Dailymotion
Foghorn Leghorn is sound asleep when the barnyard dog places an ostrich egg beside him for a gag. When Foghorn awakes and sees the egg, he thinks he’s its mother! The egg hatches to reveal an easily embarrassed baby ostrich that Foghorn regards as his son. The dog insults the ostrich repeatedly, causing him to bury his head in the ground. So, to protect his son’s honor, Foghorn challenges the dog to a boxing match.
Okay….Let us start the post out with news that our Sister Sun has been found…and in honor of that bit of astrological news, all the images today will feature the color yellow.
From The Atlantic: Our Sun Has a Sister
Our longest-standing and most deeply held myths have so often revolved around the sun in large part because we humans have revolved around the sun. That distant sphere of glowing gas has been, to us fragile creatures, warmth and light and life itself. It has, we now know, been the center of everything we’ve known. No wonder we’ve assumed it was divine.
Which makes news just coming out of the University of Texas at Austin—soon to be reported in The Astrophysical Journal—particularly monumental. Our familiar star, it turns out, is not unique. Our sun has a sibling—a sister-star that almost certainly originated from the same cloud of gas and dust as our own shining orb.
Sounds amazing doesn’t it?
That sibling? A star with the deceptively dull name of HD 162826. Said star is 15 percent more massive than our sun, and located 110 light-years away from us (in the constellation Hercules, which is, appropriately, un-dully named). We can’t see the sun’s sister unaided, but even a set of low-power binoculars reveals HD 162826 to human eyes. It’s situated near (well, relatively near) the bright star of Vega.
The discovery was made by team of researchers led by the UT astronomer Ivan Ramirez, with help from several groups around the world. Using a combination of chemical analysis (high-resolution spectroscopy) and information about the stars’ orbits (their “dynamics”), the team created a list of solar-sibling candidates that included 30 stars. Using information provided by telescopes at both the McDonald Observatory in Texas and the Las Campanas Observatory in Chile, they narrowed the field. In the end, there was one that matched our sun.
More from Science Daily: Astronomers find sun’s ‘long-lost brother,’ pave way for family reunion
“We want to know where we were born,” Ramirez said. “If we can figure out in what part of the galaxy the Sun formed, we can constrain conditions on the early solar system. That could help us understand why we are here.”
Additionally, there is a chance, “small, but not zero,” Ramirez said, that these solar sibling stars could host planets that harbor life. In their earliest days within their birth cluster, he explains, collisions could have knocked chunks off of planets, and these fragments could have travelled between solar systems, and perhaps even may have been responsible for bringing primitive life to Earth. Or, fragments from Earth could have transported life to planets orbiting solar siblings. “So it could be argued that solar siblings are key candidates in the search for extraterrestrial life,” Ramirez said.
While the finding of a single solar sibling is intriguing, Ramirez points out that the project has a larger purpose: to create a road map for how to identify solar siblings, in preparation for the flood of data expected soon from surveys like Gaia.
“The idea is that the Sun was born in a cluster with a thousand or a hundred thousand stars. This cluster, which formed more than 4.5 billion years ago, has since broken up,” he says. “A lot of things can happen in that amount of time.” The member stars have broken off into their own orbits around the galactic center, taking them to different parts of the Milky Way today. A few, like HD 162826, are still nearby. Others are much farther afield.
You can read more involved details about how they came about figuring this whole thing out at the links above. The Science Daily is more technical. Funny how that blog highlights the find as a “brother sun” and the Atlantic article, written by a woman, dubs it a “sister sun.”
I have some distressing linkage up next, stories that deal with assholes of varying degrees…so if you are in a joyous mood, you should skip the next few paragraphs. At least until you see a few stars in the left margin.
Many of you may have already heard of the ridiculous shit the Bundy militia was up to yesterday:
An illegal all-terrain vehicle (ATV) ride planned this weekend through Recapture Canyon in Utah is the latest flashpoint between anti-government activists and federal land managers. The illegal ride is already drawing criticism from the Navajo Nation, putting American Indian burial sites and cultural resources at risk, and has even forced the cancellation of a traditional Navajo Warrior welcome home ceremony for veterans.
Yet San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman (R-UT) and his supporters appear determined to defy federal law by riding their ATVs through Recapture Canyon, an area of southeast Utah known as a “mini-Mesa Verde” because it contains one of the highest densities of archaeological sites in the country.
According to a new analysis from the Center for American Progress Action Fund, a network of right-wing elected officials, organizations, and prominent commentators share Mr. Bundy’s anti-government views and are advancing proposals to seize or sell-off federal public lands in eight Western states.
This network of so-called ‘Bundy’s Buddies’ includes the Koch-funded organization Americans for Prosperity, U.S. Senator and presidential hopeful Rand Paul (R-KY), Utah Congressman Rob Bishop (R-UT), and Utah State Representative Ken Ivory. Ivory leads the American Lands Council — a group dedicated to advocating for the seizure of federal lands.
A new website from the Center for Western Priorities, BundysBuddies.org, identifies additional elected officials who share the anti-government views of Bundy and Lyman.
Hundreds of activists seeking to directly challenge federal control of swathes of territory in the U.S. West on Saturday drove dozens of all-terrain vehicles into protected land in Utah that is home to Native American artifacts and where such journeys are banned.
The ride into Recapture Canyon, which comes amid heightened political tensions, is a protest against indecision by federal land managers on whether to reopen canyon trails to recreational vehicle use after more than seven years of study.
About 300 people rallied at a nearby park before dozens of people, some of them armed with guns, set off in about 60 ATVs down a closed-off trail, which winds through red rock desert. The local sheriff had armed officers on horseback monitoring the protest.
The dispute is the latest squabble between conservative states’ rights advocates in Utah and across the West, who want to take back millions of acres of public land over which federal agencies have authority. More than 60 percent of Utah’s land is under federal control.
The canyon in the Four Corners region of Utah is home to the ruins of ancient dwellings and other cultural resources of Ancestral Puebloans. The Bureau of Land Management closed the area in 2007 after an illegally constructed trail was found and some artifact sites were damaged.
Geez these assholes are a threat to society. As Tommy Christopher reports for The Daily Banter, the townspeople are still waiting for support from their sheriff…because the militia is still harassing the towns residents. Nevada Sheriff ‘Currently Looking Into’ Reports Of Bundy Ranch Militia Harassing Townfolk | The Daily Banter
In other asshole news here is one that is somehow surprising: Former George Zimmerman defender now says he was guilty, racially profiled black men
A former friend and neighbor of George Zimmerman, who had previously defended the man accused of stalking and killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, has had a change of heart, stating that he believes that Zimmerman got away with murder.
Frank Taafe, who served on the neighborhood watch with Zimmerman, told News13 he believes Martin was racially profiled by Zimmerman and would not have been followed if he “had been a white kid on a cell phone.”
“What I know of George and his tendencies and also my opinion is that he racially profiled Trayvon Martin that night because if that had been a white kid on a cell phone, walking through our neighborhood, he wouldn’t have stayed on him the way he did and that’s a fact and I believe that in my heart,” said Taaffe.
According to Taafe, recent tragedies in his own life made him reconsider his opinion and feel the need to apologize for his earlier stalwart defense of Zimmerman .
“I can only ask for the country to forgive me and today I believe that he racially profiled him based on the color of his skin. Reporter: Some people may wonder what does Frank Taaffe have to gain by doing this?” Taffe explained. “Are you working on a book? No book. A TV show? No. I’m just working on me right now and getting right with God.”
Taafe also expressed his condolences to Trayvon Martin’s parents, saying, “I’m sorry that you lost your son, I know what that’s like and I wish things had been different.”
Oh yeah, but get this shit:
The marriage may be legal but the suspected premarital sex was not, authorities said on Saturday after arresting a 41-year-old Houston-area drama teacher for the alleged sexual assault of a child, his 16-year-old wife.
Ilich Guardiola, who also works as a voice actor in Japanese animations, was pulled over in a traffic stop in the Houston suburb of Spring Valley last month and later questioned about his relationship with the teen riding with him, police said.
Shortly after the incident, Guardiola married the teenager, who has not been identified, in Las Vegas with the approval of her mother, who witnessed the wedding.
Police said there is circumstantial evidence that the two engaged in a sexual relationship prior to legal marriage.
“The marriage is absolutely legal. We received a copy of the marriage certificate,” said Gary Finkelman of the Spring Valley Police Department.
Guardiola was arrested on Thursday at his Houston-area apartment for violating a Texas law that forbids sex with a child, regardless of the child’s consent. A child is defined as a person under 17 years of age.
Any state where the marriage of a 41 year old man to a 16-year-old is “legal” has to be fucked up to begin with, the other part of that article (the alleged sexual assault) goes without saying.
In another Texas fuck up: ‘Friday Night Lights’ school in Texas embroiled in sex scandals | Reuters
The school behind the book, movie and TV series “Friday Night Lights” has become mired in scandal with five staff members investigated for suspected sexual relations with students, including a teacher who died this week, a likely suicide.
Mark Lampman, 47, resigned as a government teacher on Tuesday from Permian High School in Odessa after the school in western Texas received an anonymous tip about an improper relationship between him and a student, school officials said.
“When they questioned him, that’s when he turned in his resignation and left,” district spokesman Mike Adkins said.
Lampman is the fifth staff member to be accused in the last year of having an inappropriate relationship with a student. One of those employees was later cleared of wrongdoing, school officials said.
In April 2013, a Permian swim coach and a trainer resigned and were later indicted on charges of improper relations between educator and student. Last month, a Permian employee also resigned amid claims made by parents to school district police of an inappropriate relationship with a student.
The staff members were not immediately available for comment.
It is disgusting. Yeah, the school district says they are “looking into it” but it seems like things are just getting looked over to me. (You can read the rest of the article yourself and make your own decision.)
Oh, and not to shit all over Texas, but if it fits: Houston Authorities Searching For ‘Serial Defecator’
Deputies with the Harris County Precinct One Constable’s Office say a man has been terrorizing a neighborhood in the Woodland Heights area of Houston by going to the bathroom in several yards at night.
“We’ve had reports from six to eight neighbors out there that someone is actually coming into their yard and defecating — generally on their driveways,” said Sgt. J.C. Mosier.
Authorities believe the unknown man is committing the act between 1:00 and 4:00 a.m., but a motive for crimes has not yet been established.
“I think the neighbors are laughing about it, but that’s because it’s only happened to two houses in the neighborhood. If it starts happening more, I think people might become enraged,” says Amy, who lives in the Heights. “How much poop can one man make though?”
She says one person’s house has even been hit as many as six times.
“I’m thinking revenge poop is definitely a possibility. We’re all wondering, what did this person who’s having the creep-crapper hit their house repeatedly do?”
Sgt. Mosier agrees that revenge could be the motive, as he recalls a similar event many years ago in the Houston area.
Now we move on to this shit: Rape allegations against Oregon basketball players roil campus – Los Angeles Times
A few key points,
- 3 players named as suspects in sexual assault dismissed from Oregon basketball team, though never charged
- Prosecutors decline to file sexual assault charges, but Oregon kicks three players off basketball team
- 1 freshman, 2 sophomores booted from @OregonMBB. University cites ‘profoundly disturbing’ police report
It looks like the US Executive Branch is not the only one who pays women less than men, via The Independent: Foreign Office pays female staff less than men
The figures follow the announcement by Defence Secretary Philip Hammond last week that women should be allowed to serve on the front line. Yet despite the attempts to achieve greater equality at the Ministry of Defence, it seems across Whitehall, however, the Foreign Office is struggling in the battle for parity between the sexes.
Nice to know that kind of sexism is seen equally on both sides of the pond./snark
Michael Sam was picked by the St. Louis Rams in the seventh round of the NFL draft Saturday, becoming the first openly gay player drafted by a pro football team.
“Thank you to the St. Louis Rams and the whole city of St. Louis. I’m using every ounce of this to achieve greatness!!” Sam tweeted moments after he was picked, with a picture of himself wearing a Rams cap and a pink polo shirt.
The impact of Sam’s selection goes far beyond football. At a time when gay marriage is gaining acceptance among Americans, Sam’s entry into the NFL is a huge step toward the integration of gay men into professional team sports. Pro sports have in many ways lagged behind the rest of society in acceptance.
Isn’t that a fucking good bit of news. This was neat trivia too:
Michael Sam made history on Saturday by become the first openly gay athlete ever to be drafted by an NFL team. There had been some doubt as to whether or not Sam would be drafted at all, but with the eighth-to-last pick in the 2014 NFL Draft’s seventh and final round, the St. Louis Rams selected the University of Missouri star. It was an historic moment made even more so by the remarkable video footage of Sam finding out he’d made the cut, which you can view below.
Two links on transgender up next. One about Cuba…New Photobook Documents the Travails of Transgender Cubans | Mother Jones
Of all the allies in the global fight for LGBT equality, Cuba may be the most unlikely. For decades, the island was notorious for its crackdown on “social deviants”—an underclass that included homosexuals, transgender people, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists, and anyone critical of the Castro regime. The 1960s were especially bleak. Deemed unfit for the revolution, gay Cubans were banned from joining the military or becoming teachers. Thousands were confined to isolated labor camps. Conditions deteriorated further in the ’80s and ’90s as Cuba quarantined HIV-positive citizens, many of whom were gay.
Mariette Pathy Allen’s new photobook, TransCuba (Daylight Books), captures a country slowly outgrowing its history of persecution. Shot in 2012 and 2013, the book is haunted by the trauma inflicted by Fidel Castro’s government. But it is optimistic about life under his brother, Raúl, who assumed the presidency in 2008. Since the change in power, Cuba’s Ministry of Public Health has approved state-funded sex reassignment surgery, and the government has relaxed many discriminatory policies targeting sexual orientation and gender. In 2012, Adela Hernández became the country’s first openly transgender person elected to public office. Perhaps most shockingly, in a 2010 interview with the Mexican newspaper La Jornada, Fidel Castro called his decision to imprison homosexuals in the 1960’s “a great injustice…I’m not going to place the blame on others,” Castro said, “We had so many and such terrible problems, problems of life or death.”
Despite its progressive reforms, Cuba continues to have serious problems, particularly with transgender rights. “I see transgender Cubans as a metaphor for Cuba itself: people living between genders in a country moving between doctrines,” Allen writes. The women she documents are grateful for the increasing tolerance, but they still suffer from entrenched stigmas.
And one about the new singing sensation out of Europe: A Bearded Drag Queen Just Won The Eurovision Song Contest
Austrian bearded drag queen Conchita Wurst won the 59th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday with a James Bond-inspired entry that had unleashed a wave of protests in eastern Europe before the competition.
The power ballad, “Rise Like a Phoenix,” helped Wurst — the alter ego of 25-year-old Thomas Neuwirth — secure Austria’s second victory in the competition with 290 points. The country also won in 1966.
“This is dedicated to everyone who believes in a future of peace and freedom,” a tearful Wurst said as she accepted the trophy from Denmark’s Emmelie de Forrest, who won the contest last year. “We are unity.”
You can listens to her performance here:
Amid growing tensions over the Ukraine crisis, some in Eastern Europe have blasted Wurst as an example of the West’s decadence. Activists in Belarus had even urged the country’s state television network to bypass the live broadcasting rules by the organizers and edit the Austrian entry out of its Eurovision transmission.
After her victory, Wurst told reporters she hopes gay, lesbian, bi and transgender people around the world are getting stronger in their fight for human rights.
Asked if she had anything to say to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who introduced a law last year prohibiting so-called gay “propaganda,” Wurst said, “I don’t know if he is watching this now, but if so, I’ll say it: ‘We’re unstoppable.'”
In Vienna, the Austrian capital, fans who had gathered at one of the public viewing parties chanted “Conchita” ecstatically after the victory. Some had painted on fake beards in support.
I love it! Good for her!
And now a few links in dump fashion…
I don’t think we will ever get to identify all those remains. The ghost from that day will haunt us forever. Well, they haunt me, that is for sure.
This next audio story and picture gallery is about people who hunt ghost for a living: Looking for Gauteng’s Ghosts
Men and women don uniforms and carry their high technology to abandoned houses, hospitals and bars in search of the lost souls of the dead.
And when we think about something from the past haunting us…I am sure this man had that feeling for most of his life: Secret service agent in iconic LBJ photos dies – The Washington Post
Thomas “Lem” Johns, a former secret service agent present during the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and swearing in of Lyndon Johnson, has died. He was 88.
Lem Johns is pictured in iconic photos from Nov. 22, 1963 aboard the presidential plane where Johnson was sworn in. One photo shows Johns standing behind former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy as Johnson consoles her following the oath of office.
Johns was assigned to Johnson’s security detail at the time of the shooting and was riding in the motorcade when the shots were fired.
Those are some heavy duty images to see in a photograph, imagine having them imprinted in your memories…
So, here is something to think about: A Hard Sell to Tame a Name in Spain
CASTRILLO MATAJUDÍOS, Spain — To outsiders, it might seem obvious that the time has come, or long passed, to change the name of a village that evokes one of the darkest chapters of Spain’s history.
But the mayor of Castrillo Matajudíos — roughly, Little Hill Fort of Jew Killers — is having a tough time persuading the 56 registered inhabitants of this sleepy village to vote on May 25 to adopt a different name and finally eradicate a link to the persecution of Jews during the Spanish Inquisition.
Read about the fascinating history of how this town got its name at the link, you may be surprised.
As with everything else, things get bigger with age: Super-Sizing Movie Monsters, Ctd « The Dish
You can read about that graphic at the link too.
Hey lawyers: Stop misusing the phrase “Hobson’s choice.” Please, Suits & Sentences begs this of you.
On Thursday, during health-care law arguments before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, attorney Robert Joseph Muise several times employed the phrase. Each time, he used it to mean an impossibly tough choice; specifically, that facing religious employers who must either provide contraceptive coverage to workers or pay a fee.
“That is a Hobson’s choice,” Muise told the three-judge panel.
No, it’s not.
A Hobson’s choice, unless its meaning has been totally remade by constant misuse, refers to something that’s not a choice at all. As explained here:
“ Thomas Hobson (1545–1631) ran a thriving carrier and horse rental business in Cambridge, England, around the turn of the 17th century. Hobson rented out horses, mainly to Cambridge University students, but refused to hire them out other than in the order he chose. The choice his customers were given was ‘this or none;’ quite literally, not their choice but Hobson’s choice.”
So…on May 22nd, at 11pm, TCM will be playing Hobson’s Choice. It really is a delightful movie, directed by David Lean. Watch it, you will love it! There is a good article about the film here: Hobson’s Choice (1954) – Articles – TCM.com
Ah, a bit of history for you: Did the Vikings reach Madeira?
New research about mice on Madeira suggests that the Vikings may have visited the Atlantic island 400 years before it was colonized.
In an article published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the research team from the Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Studies (Imedea) in Majorca and the University of La Laguna analyzed the bones of two mice skeletons found in dunes on the eastern edge of the island. Radiocarbon tests on the second skeleton revealed that the mouse lived from 903–1036 AD.
Reproductive organs throughout the animal kingdom are just about the craziest thing that’s ever been described in scientific literature. Did you know, for example, that female ducks have complex vaginas that coil in the opposite direction of males’ equally complex penises, allowing them to thwart attempts at forced copulation? Or that the penises of particularly lucky species of crane fly function as vibrators? Or, for that matter, that the human female clitoris is about the size of a medium zucchini — and sports more nerve endings than the penis?
Something for the film buffs, behind the scene pictures of: William Friedkin on set of “The Exorcist” « Kinoimages.com
Artsy fartsy link now: Over 300 Years Ago, An Artist Created And Documented Every Color You Can Think Of
Thanks to Pantone, the contemporary authority on all things color, we have a way of documenting the chromatic flow — all 2,100 hues it’s gleaned from the visible ends of the rainbow. But artists have been recording the depths of color for much longer than Pantone’s lifespan, mixing and melding pigments to create the violets, turquoises and ambers we ogle in art history books.
One such artist was A. Boogert, a man who created a massive manual on color nearly three centuries before Pantone ever came into being. Back in 1692, he crafted around 800 pages of handwritten and hand-painted pages under the title “Traité des couleurs servant à la peinture à l’eau.” Written in Dutch, the treatise was a painstaking trek through the tints and shades of every color you can think of. It was, as This Is Colossal speculates, probably the most informative color guide of its time.
You can see the entire book online here.
Oh and fabulous Hillary news: Congratulations to Dr. Chelsea Clinton and Happy Mothers’ Day to Hillary Clinton | Still4Hill
And we will end this post with a Mother’s Day link video: Watch 100-Year-Old Moms Share Advice on Motherhood
For these moms, all 100 years or older, motherhood has a lot of meanings. The women talk about everything—from how it felt to find out they were going to be moms to the heartbreak of sending their children off to war.
The video, courtesy of Mashable in honor of the 100th anniversary of Mother’s Day, asks what it means to be a mother. “Strength,” says Sadie Adler, triumphantly. “Listen to your children and treat them as a grown up,” she advises. Connie Isaacs has another great idea about how to parent. “Let your kids do what they want to do,” she says, laughing.
Happy Mother’s Day! Enjoy your special day!
It has been a busy week…Bebe has her first official boyfriend, that means she went on an official date where he drove and everything.
So you can see why I have been a little distracted.
All this back and forth reminded me of this old skit from Saturday Night Live, that aired on March 30, 1985.
I saw this episode live when it aired all those years ago and one of the lines remained in the back of my mind…I quote it quite frequently. In fact, I used it on Bebe to find out her relationship status just a few hours ago.
Here is a description of the scene with a couple of photos I could find, it sucks there is no video clip available.
Number one: Fin-de-Siecle Prison Homosexuality. As I recall, the title of the bit when it aired was Shame Of The Prisons. Martin Short plays a terrified new prisoner named Percival, and his cellmate is the threatening Jim Belushi. Belushi doesn’t ravage him immediately, because he says, “I can’t have you until The Bull has had you.”
Guest plays The Bull as a gallant Gaylord Ravenal sort of character, and the first date is just a walk in the moonlight, with genteel idle chit-chat, until The Bull finally turns and asks “Percy? I must know this. Will you wear my ring… and be my bitch?”
Short goes back to his cell and he and Belushi start acting like high school girls, thrilled to discuss the particulars of a date.
Bold quote is my emphasis, and actually I believe what Guest says to Short is “Will you wear my pin… and be my bitch?” Which goes along with the old fashioned idea of short getting “pinned” by the Bull…it was funny as hell.
I tried so long to find pictures of just that set-up. Like that first image up top, but no luck. The rest of the illustrations are various couples. Meh…
Ah…now we will just move on to the links for this morning’s post. They start with the South and move through child rearing to fruit and hand-baskets. Hopefully the stories will be new to you…
This first link should be introduced with the joke…if your local Waffle House is held up by a man in overalls wielding a pitchfork…you might be a redneck. Man accused of robbing Waffle House with pitchfork
He’s accused of using a weapon to force Waffle House employees into the back of a restaurant so he could steal money.
But it’s the weapon he used that really caught witnesses’ attention. The suspect was carrying a pitchfork.
The suspect, identified as Jeffrey Willard Wooten, 50, was wearing coveralls and a ski mask when he entered the Buford Highway breakfast eatery Thursday night, according to Norcross police. After forcing employees into a back room, Wooten went after cash, police said.
“When he realized he couldn’t get the cash register open, he took the whole cash register and exited the store . . with his pitchfork,” Norcross police Chief Warren Summers told Channel 2 Action News.
Outside of the Waffle House, Wooten allegedly dropped his pitchfork, according to police. But he held on to the cash register.
Two restaurant employees than grabbed the pitchfork and used it to smash the back window of Wooten’s truck, police said. Wooten may have been injured while attempting to leave the restaurant.
“It wouldn’t be an offensive weapon in your garden, but it was in a Waffle House,” Summers said.
It also is a deadly weapon when used during riots in Transylvania.
But if that seems crazy to you, then you ain’t seen nothing yet. Y’all ready for a WTF moment? Alabama’s chief justice: Buddha didn’t create us so First Amendment only protects Christians
Speaking at the Pastor for Life Luncheon, which was sponsored by Pro-Life Mississippi, Chief Justice Roy Moore of the Alabama Supreme Court declared that the First Amendment only applies to Christians because “Buddha didn’t create us, Mohammed didn’t create us, it was the God of the Holy Scriptures” who created us.
“They didn’t bring the Koran over on the pilgrim ship,” he continued. “Let’s get real, let’s go back and learn our history. Let’s stop playing games.”
He then noted that he loves talking to lawyers, because he is a lawyer who went to “a secular law school,” so he knows that “in the law, [talking about God] just isn’t politically correct.” He claimed that this is why America has “lost its way,” and that he would be publishing a pamphlet “this week, maybe next” that contained copies of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, thereby proving that all the people “who found this nation — black, white, all people, all religions, all faiths” knew that America was “about God.”
Chief Justice Moore later defined “life” via Blackstone’s Law — a book that American lawyers have “sadly forgotten” — as beginning when “the baby kicks.” “Today,” he said, “our courts say it’s not alive ’til the head comes out.”
“Now,” he continued, “if technology’s supposed to increase our knowledge, how did we become so stupid?” Discussing Thomas Jefferson’s use of “life” in the Declaration of Independence, he said that “when [Jefferson] put ‘life’ in there, it was in the womb — we know it begins at conception. Why aren’t we going the right way instead of the wrong way?”
He later said the “pursuit of happiness” meant following God’s law, because “you can’t be happy unless you follow God’s law, and if you follow God’s law, you can’t help but be happy.”
The Center for Disease Control house found that 900,000 people a year die of five leading causes every year in the US, and that 20% to 40% of these deaths are preventable (i.e. 180,000 to 360,000 needn’t die). The five are heart disease, cancer, lung disease, stroke and unintentional injury. Smoking cigarettes contributes to several of them.
What is striking is that the preventable diseases occur at a much higher rate in the Deep South than in the rest of the country, especially in Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama. AJC.com notes that only 2% of Oregon’s heart attacks are considered to be “preventable” by the CDC, but 58 percent of Mississippi’s are.
Graphs and picture goodies at the link, plus lots more, so go read it.
More news and “stuff” after the jump.