The proverbial shit has hit the fan, and whatever happens next is speculation at this point.
As for what I think? I think we are f’d.
That could be my negativity and depression talking. Nah, it is more than that…what else could any sane person expect?
So, as you take a look at some of the news articles for today’s reads, think about what will happen over the next few months.
On the topic of crazy conservatives….they are having a values summit or hypocrite-bigot-get-together shindig:
They promise a conservative “awakening” in America unlike any other seen in the past decade, a show of political force that will rock the Republican electorate.
Evangelical leaders who are feeling more isolated in a Republican Party focused on fiscal issues rather than social debates are planning to assert themselves ahead of a free-for-all GOP nominating contest with more than a dozen contenders.
Serving God or government?
Cruz and Huckabee journeyed recently to a rally at Rock Springs Church, an evangelical megachurch in Milner, Ga., about 50 miles south of Atlanta, to curry favor with thousands of conservatives who had traveled from all over the region for a fireworks show, a Charlie Daniels concert and face time with the candidates.
The theme of the evening, if there was one, was dissatisfaction with establishment Republicans such as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush who have taken more moderate approaches on issues such as gay marriage and illegal immigration.
“I appreciate you standing against the Democrats,” the rally’s organizer, Benny Tate, said to thousands huddled on the rolling hills on the church’s campus. “But I really appreciate you standing against the Republican Party when you think they are wrong.”
Huckabee, a one-time Baptist preacher who won Georgia’s primary in 2008, predicted a protracted fight against the 5-4 decision by the Supreme Court (he called it the “extreme court” to scattered laughter) that struck down bans on same-sex weddings.
“Over the next few years I fully believe that people of faith, whether they be Christians, Jewish, whatever they may be, are going to be called upon, and already are, to determine, ‘Will you serve God or will you serve government?’ ” he said. “And I wonder, will we be as faithful to our faith and to our freedom as those men who signed that declaration 239 years ago?”
He’s followed that by supporting Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who became a hero to opponents of same-sex marriage when she was jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses because she objected to gay weddings. Huckabee delighted conservative crowds by volunteering to spend years in jail to fight the “tyranny under people who think they can take our freedom and conscience away.”
Cruz, the son of a born-again Christian preacher, spoke of a brewing “awakening” to defend the values of conservatives. Like other Republicans, he talked wistfully of the millions of evangelicals who he said spurned Mitt Romney in 2012, and he vowed to fan the flames of evangelicals across the nation.
“It’s my hope that that marriage decision serves as a spark to start a fire that becomes a raging inferno and awakening that sweeps this country as the body of Christ rises up to defend the values that have built America into this great nation,” Cruz said.
The fierce competition has stoked fears of a rerun of the past two presidential campaigns, where candidates courting the evangelical vote split the field and left many disillusioned. Bart Tharpe, a GOP activist in Macon, Ga., who attended a recent evangelical rally, said he’s confident Christian conservatives have learned a lesson.
“I’ll vote for any one of them,” he said. “It’s better than any ungodly idiot the Democrats are running.”
Gawd help us! More at the link, if you can bear it.
Family Research Council Action, a Christian lobbying group, said on Saturday that more attendees polled at the Values Voter Summit said Cruz, a leader with the Republican’s Tea Party wing, should be the party’s presidential nominee for the November 2016 election.
Cruz, who also won the group’s so-called “straw poll” the previous two years, took 35 percent of the support among the nearly 2,700 summit-goers, followed by Carson with 18 percent, the group said in a statement. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee got 14 percent and U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida 13 percent.
Business tycoon Donald Trump, who has led public opinion polls, came in fifth place with 5 percent.
Carson led among attendees for the vice presidential nod with 25 percent support among those polled, followed by former business executive Carly Fiorina with 21 percent and Cruz with 14 percent, the group said.
Uh….someone get me a bucket…I feel ill.
But let’s not focus on these idiot candidates. Let’s look at some other idiot candidates…this one is from Canada.
Alex Johnstone, an education official who is running for Canada’s parliament, made a penis joke about Auschwitz and then apologized—saying she wasn’t aware it was a concentration camp.
History is meant to help people learn from mistakes. But mistakes can still be made if people don’t learn history.Alex Johnstone, who is running for a parliamentary seat in Canada, has drawn heat for not knowing about the past this week. Specifically, not knowing about very noteworthy facts about the Holocaust. The candidate, who is also a vice chairwoman of a school board in Hamilton, Ontario, made a phallic joke about a picture from the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.“Ahh, the infamous Pollish, phallic hydro posts….of course you took pictures of this!” she wrote on a friend’s Facebook wall in 2008 beneath a picture of a barbed-wire gate at the concentration camp. “It expresses the how the curve is normal, natural and healthy right!”Canadian humor is peculiar.
I don’t know about peculiar. The fact that she does not know about Auschwitz is disturbing. But then, I guess it is better than outright denying that it ever happened in the first place…right?
Adding insult to injury, Johnstone stated that she didn’t know what Auschwitz even was.
“Well, I didn’t know what Auschwitz was, or I didn’t up until today,” she said in an interview Tuesday night. Johnstone, who appears to be in her thirties, said she had “heard about concentration camps.”
“I think that constituents, the community is more interested in the values and principles that I have been standing for, particularly in this election, and I think the fact that I’ve run a clean campaign really demonstrates that,” she said.
Johnstone has not responded to a request for comment from The Daily Beast.
Bobby Jindal and George Pataki are the next two quitters in the Republican field.
That’s the assessment of Republicans in the POLITICO Caucus, our weekly bipartisan survey of the top activists, operatives and strategists in Iowa and New Hampshire.
Story Continued Below
A quarter of Iowa Republicans say it’s Jindal, a frequent visitor to their state, who is on his way out.
“He’s become desperate,” an Iowa Republican said. “He’s taken to attacking Trump (we know how that worked out for Perry and Walker) and has nothing going on here in Iowa.”
Added another, who like all participants was granted anonymity in order to speak freely: “He’s taken the hard inside right lane, and there’s simply too much competition there (Cruz, Huckabee, Santorum).”
But in New Hampshire, Pataki is considered most likely to drop out next, with 27 percent of Republican insiders there pointing to him.
“There comes a point when his irrelevance becomes crystal clear even to him,” a New Hampshire Republican said.
The next quote is sure to make some of you laugh like hell:
“The Spice Girls were big in the 1990s, too, but no one wants to see them on a reunion tour,” snarked another New Hampshire Republican.
Ha..these Republicans…they are so darn snarky…and witty too.
More links on the right….
“All life is precious.” That is the theme of the good Christians of the Republican party. Their belief that holding onto that precept makes them morally superior is what allows them to also be the most hypocritical group of people in history.
All life is precious, unless you’ve been convicted of a crime we deem horrendous enough to kill you. All life is precious unless you refused to comply with a police officer and were shot dead for it. All life is precious unless you walk onto my property looking for assistance and I decide to “castle doctrine” your ass. All life is precious unless I can convince a jury of white people I was “standing my ground” when I chased that guy and killed him after I was told to stand still.
All life is precious if the Republican party decides it is, which seems to only cover pre-humans from -9 months until birth, and people who have been declared brain dead.
Prison Labor in America: How Is It Legal? via- The Atlantic
The Thirteenth Amendment forbade slavery and involuntary servitude, “except as punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.”
A look at slavery reinvented at Angola Prison.
Many of us have grown up in a time when we take for granted that abortion is legal. But older generations of doctors and women remember what it took to obtain an abortion before Roe v. Wade. It wasn’t pretty.
This next link…the image alone is enough to give pause….
Researchers have found high levels of lead in the water supply in Flint, Michigan, after the economically battered city switched its water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River in an attempt to save money. The city issued a lead warning on Friday, ramping up residents’ health concerns — and questions about the tradeoffs cash-strapped cities make to revive their economies.
One set of study results, released on Thursday, analyzed the blood lead levels in more than 1,500 children in Flint and said the overall number with elevated levels rose to 4 percent in 2015 after the water source was switched, from 2.1 percent in 2013. In some areas, the levels rose to 6.3 percent from 2.5 percent. The study was led by Mona Hanna-Attisha, director of the Pediatric Residency Program at Hurley Medical Center in Flint.
A separate study, conducted by researchers at Virginia Tech, tested water samples from homes in Flint andconcluded that the city “has a very serious lead in water problem.” They announced the results in mid-September, saying the lead levels in several samples of city water exceeded 100 parts per billion — well over the EPA’s allowed level of 15 parts per billion.
Flint, synonymous with a perennially devastated rust belt, has long been a poster child of economic depression. Like nearby Detroit, Flint was put into the hands of a succession of emergency managers appointed by the governor. Flint’s switch from Lake Huron water, through the Detroit Water and Sewage Department, to water from the Flint River happened during the administration of emergency manager Darnell Earley. In March 2014, the city council voted on a resolution to do “all things necessary” to stop using the Flint River as the city’s water source. Jerry Ambrose, Earley’s successor, called that decision “incomprehensible,” citing a savings of $12 million a year. Ambrose could not immediately be reached for comment at the time this story was published.
Boiling water contaminated with lead does not make it safe to drink — in fact, it can make the effects of the lead worse by concentrating it. The options left to people in Flint are to either buy bottled water, or to get filters for their faucets. Both options are a financial stretch for many residents.
According to census data, Flint’s median household income between 2009 and 2013 was $24,834, compared to Michigan’s median household income of $48,411. Between those same years, 41.5 percent of Flint’s residents were living below the poverty level.
“I started calling people and realized that a lot of people in Flint cannot afford to buy bottled water on a regular basis,” said Anurag Mantha, a Virginia Tech graduate student who was on a research team that tested the city’s water.
“A second option that we give them is to buy a national sanitation foundation certified lead filters,” Mantha said. “These are available in home improvement stores and Amazon. But I realized that people couldn’t afford to buy them as well.”
Mantha helped start a GoFundMe campaign to help residents afford water filters. The campaign hopes to raise $25,000 to buy them for at least 1,000 residents, and has so far raised $3,560 in 15 days.
“They’re saying, ‘Oh, it’s not that bad.’ They’re trying to say it only affects a few people and it’s their own problem. They’re trying to shake off all responsibly,” Mays said. “My tub is green because there’s so much copper leaching into both of my bathtubs in my house … and I’m just furious.”
Okay, more links in dump fashion, true dump fashion:
The power company with water rights to the lake blames drought, but a neighbor says the explanation sounds fishy.
Tony Perkins is the head of one of the most extreme anti-gay hate groups in the country, yet media outlets continue to give him a platform that enables him to play a major role in mainstream conservative politics.
“A ‘feel good song’ is rather tricky to define,” writes Dr. Jolij on his website. “Music appreciation is highly personal and strongly depends on social context, and personal associations. In that respect, the idea of a ‘feel good formula’ is a bit odd — factoring in all these personal aspects is next to impossible, in particular if you want to come up with a quantita[ti]ve feel good formula. Basically, what you need are song features that you can express in numbers.”
I think that can be useful with this next link:
Now, some bodies….body parts….murder…and mystery.
Fragments of a human body including a jaw, the first six cervical vertebrae, and two severed hands that had been laid over the face of a skull in opposite directions have been unearthed at Lapa do Santo, a hunter-gatherer rock-shelter site in east-central Brazil. According to a press release from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, v-shaped cut marks were found on the jaw and the sixth cervical vertebra. André Strauss of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and his colleagues believe that the 9,000-year-old remains could represent the oldest case of decapitation in the Americas. Isotopic analysis of the bones and of other human remains at the site indicate that the individual had been a local member of the group, so the decapitation may have been part of a mortuary ritual, rather than a case of trophy-taking during war.
Years ago, in the small town of Maiden, N.C., a man named Shannon Whisnant bought a storage locker, and in it he found a grill. When he took both of them home and opened the grill, he discovered something he hadn’t been expecting: a mummified human leg.
Archaeologists have discovered the skeletal remains of between 50 to 75 individuals buried in the walls of Westminster Abbey. It is believed that they date from the 11th or early 12th century.
The remains had been placed under Victorian drainage pipes outside the wall of Poets’ Corner, which is part of the South Transept of the famous English Collegiate Church. The archaeologists were working there as part of a major project to build a new £19 million tower that will allow visitors more access to the site.
Paw Jorgensen of Pre-Construct Archaeology told The Guardian that the remains likely belong to monks associated with Westminster Abbey, and that they were moved twice since the first burial – first in the 13th century when the church was rebuilt by Henry III, and then in the Victorian era. Workmen from that period even stole the skull of individual who was found in a stone tomb.
The remarkably well preserved, fully dressed body of a seventeenth-century noblewoman has been found in a lead coffin in the French city of Rennes. A team led by Rosenn Colleter of the French National Institute of Preventive Archaeological Research (INRAP) made the discovery while excavating the remains of a fourteenth-century convent at the site of a future conference center. Along with some 800 graves, the archaeologists unearthed five lead coffins, one of which was still hermetically sealed and held the nearly intact body. “I knew at once that it was a beautiful discovery,” says Colleter, “and that we would need to work quickly so as not to lose any information to decomposition.”
The woman was buried with a heart-shaped relic inscribed with her husband’s name and containing his heart. This allowed the team to identify her as Louise de Quengo, Lady of Brefeillac, who died in 1656. The unusually complete state of de Quengo’s body and clothing is giving specialists a new look at French aristocratic burial practices of the time.
Laboratory analysis of the remains will allow researchers to reconstruct the pathogens she carried, including tuberculosis. “It’s rare that you are able to give a seventeenth-century person a comprehensive health check,” says Colleter. The Lady of Brefeillac will be reburied later this year.
Now, a couple of links on women’s issues:
A look at one of my favorite actors….Michael Fassbender: fearless performer with a craftsman’s approach to the art of acting | Film | The Guardian
But Fassbender is also still very much the teenager of that original drama-school audition: He welcomes changes as they present themselves and he follows the signs of the present. Justin Kurzel, the director of ‘‘Macbeth,’’ said of working with Fassbender, ‘‘He’s so extremely prepared, he’s never reaching for words. And in that way he’s able to be very open to the conditions of the moment — to whatever is going on that day, to the other people who are around. He can discover something in the moment of doing. That’s why he’s an artist. That’s why he’s one of the best around.’’
Fassbender has a very deliberate and specific method: ‘‘I go over the words again and again and again and again. Hundreds of times. It’s more of a doing than a thinking thing. I have thoughts about the characters, I learn about them, but that’s not necessarily where the majority of the work gets done.’’
Oh, he gets it done…
And we end it all with an adorable video:
Enjoy your last Sunday of September. Can you believe it!
Hey, what do you know?
They use other animals to sniff out land mines, including dogs and rats…which seems like a more logical answer to me. I mean, if a rat missteps on a landmine and bang….little mess.
But an elephant?
What will you see when you see an elephant step on a landmine?
I’ll tell you one thing, it sure a shit won’t be a small showing.
But back to the elephants….Elephants can also smell water a kabillion miles away as well…so perhaps California could make use of them as well?
Given the historic low temperatures and snowfalls that pummeled the eastern U.S. this winter, it might be easy to overlook how devastating California’s winter was as well.
As our “wet” season draws to a close, it is clear that the paltry rain and snowfall have done almost nothing to alleviate epic drought conditions. January was the driest in California since record-keeping began in 1895. Groundwater and snowpack levels are at all-time lows. We’re not just up a creek without a paddle in California, we’re losing the creek too.
Statewide, we’ve been dropping more than 12 million acre-feet of total water yearly since 2011. Roughly two-thirds of these losses are attributable to groundwater pumping for agricultural irrigation in the Central Valley. Farmers have little choice but to pump more groundwater during droughts, especially when their surface water allocations have been slashed 80% to 100%. But these pumping rates are excessive and unsustainable. Wells are running dry. In some areas of the Central Valley, the land is sinking by one foot or more per year.
As difficult as it may be to face, the simple fact is that California is running out of water — and the problem started before our current drought. NASA data reveal that total water storage in California has been in steady decline since at least 2002, when satellite-based monitoring began, although groundwater depletion has been going on since the early 20th century.
Right now the state has only about one year of water supply left in its reservoirs, and our strategic backup supply, groundwater, is rapidly disappearing. California has no contingency plan for a persistent drought like this one (let alone a 20-plus-year mega-drought), except, apparently, staying in emergency mode and praying for rain.
Well, that is a scary last paragraph there. More of that op/ed at the link.
I know that the beginning of the post was lighthearted, however now I need to touch on some of the destruction set in motion over the last 48 hours in the South Pacific.
Cyclone Pam struck Vanuatu as the UN was hosting its third world conference on disaster risk reduction in Sendai, Japan.
That meeting heard that over the past 45 years the Asia Pacific region has suffered cumulative economic losses of $A1.49 trillion from natural disasters, and had lost more than 2 million lives. And Vanuatu, according to a key report presented to delegates, was the country most at risk in the entire world, followed by Tonga, The Philippines, Japan and Costa Rica.
Today, as the island nation begins to count its dead and the economic cost of the weekend destruction, it will need all its traditional resilience to live up to its name. Vanuatu means “Our Land Forever,” a phrase that has always struck an appropriately defiant note in the face of the many threats it faces.
In this latest challenge, winds of up to 270km per hour ripped through the island group, after building speed as the cyclone passed first over Kiribati and then Solomon Islands immediately to Vanuatu’s north west. Alice Clements, a spokeswoman for UNICEF, who was in Port Vila, told Reuters that as the cyclone hit the city, “it felt like the world was coming to an end”.
Be sure to read that article, it has a lot of information, about the island nation…it’s people and what they will be going through after the clean up.
Cyclone Pam hit the island as a Category 5. First aid teams reach Vanuatu, find widespread devastation after cyclone | Reuters
The first aid teams to reach Vanuatu reported widespread devastation on Sunday as authorities declared a state of emergency after a “monster” cyclone tore through the Pacific island nation.
With winds of more than 300 kph (185 mph), Cyclone Pam razed homes, smashed boats and washed away roads and bridges as it struck late on Friday and into Saturday. Aid workers described the situation as catastrophic.
Aid workers were particularly worried about the southern island of Tanna. An official with the Australian Red Cross told Reuters an aircraft had managed to land there and aid workers confirmed there was “widespread destruction”.
“Virtually every building that is not concrete has been flattened,” said the official, adding two deaths had been confirmed on the island which has a population of about 29,000 and is about 200 km (125 miles) south of the capital, Port Vila.
Witnesses in Port Vila described sea surges of up to eight metres (26 feet) and widespread flooding as the category 5 cyclone hit. Residents said the storm sounded like a freight train. Port Vila was strewn with debris and looked as if a bomb had gone off.
Pacific nation devastated by historic Cyclone Pam – Video at that link.
And then, on the other side of the world, a tragic bus accident: Brazil bus crash: at least 40 dead after plunge off cliff | World news | The Guardian
At least 40 people died on Saturday when a passenger bus drove off a cliff in the southern Brazilian state of Santa Catarina, police said.
The bus, en route from the neighbouring state of Parana, swerved off a curve and fell dozens of metres before crashing in a wooded area. Rescue crews were bringing up dozens of bodies as well as survivors.
The bus was about six miles (10km) from its destination in the city of Joinville when it crashed. Highway and weather conditions at the time were good, a police spokesman said.
Though no immediate cause for the crash had been determined, police said it appeared the brakes on the bus failed.
Brazil has some of Latin America’s deadliest roads. Despite nearly a decade of sustained economic growth that only slowed in recent years, the country has done little to improve or expand its creaky infrastructure.
Alright, back to the other links:
Likely 2016 Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush used his personal email while governor of Florida to discuss troop deployments, nuclear plant protection and other such matters, the Washington Post reported on Saturday.
The report followed revelations that Democrat Hillary Clinton, also seen as a likely presidential candidate, used a personal email account exclusively during her time as secretary of state, raising questions about security and transparency.
On his personal account, firstname.lastname@example.org, Bush discussed the Florida National Guard’s movements and training activities as well as his decision to provide less security to nuclear power plants in the state, the newspaper reported.
Bush aides told the Post that none of the emails contained sensitive or classified information, and many of the events mentioned in them were documented in press accounts. But security experts say private email systems such as the one used by Bush are more vulnerable to hackers.
Democrats have attempted to divert the focus on Clinton’s use of a personal email account to conduct work as U.S. secretary of state by saying that Bush used the same practice in Florida, where he was governor from 1999 to 2007.
Then you have this, Hillary Clinton’s Over-Played Woman Card | RealClearPolitics
Last week, the Wall Street Journal featured “A Better World, Run By Women,” a rather hilarious essay penned by Emory anthropology professor Melvin Konner. As more women gain power around the world, Konner argued, the better our lives will be. “Research has found,” he wrote, “that women are superior to men in most ways that will count in the future.”
Konner was just warming up. “There is every reason to think that a future national hierarchy staffed and led by women who no longer have to imitate men, dealing with other nations similarly transformed, would be less likely to go to war,” he added. “But that’s not all. Sex scandals, financial corruption and violence are all overwhelmingly male.”
I assume he wrote this with a straight face. I also assume that he has never watched The Real Housewives of New Jersey, attempted to score half-price designer shoes at the Barney’s Warehouse Sale, or patronized a crowded Chuck E. Cheese’s that serves liberal amounts of alcohol in an over-the-hill and questionably located strip mall. (Hint: There are often fights.)
That shitty piece is written by a woman by the way…I won’t quote any more from it, you can go and read the rest of the bait at the link if you really want to. That is if you feel like getting in a pissy mood.
So after a link to an article like that, how about a link to someone good…that cares about her fellow women: Feminists don’t hate men. But it wouldn’t matter if we did | Jessica Valenti | Comment is free | The Guardian
One of the most common derisive taunts thrown at feminists – and one of the oldest – is “manhater”. It’s been around since the days of suffrage, and still gets used today, though its a pretty anodyne insult. Most feminists, like me, shun the label and work to convince people that despite the stereotypes feminists absolutely, without a doubt, do not hate men.
But so what if we did?
It’s not that I recommend hating men or think it a particularly wise use of one’s time, but to each her own. Straight white men still hold the majority of political, economic and social power in the world, and everyone else struggles to make their lives work with less. So if the worst thing that happens to a man is that a woman doesn’t like him …well, he has it pretty damn good. It’s not as if we’re living in some sort of Wicker Man-inspired dystopia, after all.
Besides, when women hate men, we hurt their feelings. When men hate women, they kill us: mass shootings have been attributed to misogyny, and sexual and domestic violence against women is often fuelled by a hatred for women.
That’s why it’s so hard to take seriously any claims that “misandry” is a tremendous problem – they’re based on the idea that merely insulting men is similar to the life-threatening misogyny women face worldwide. (Most recently, Newsday writer Cathy Young argued that men being called “mansplainers” or rape apologists is akin to the rape and death threats that women get online.)
But a younger generation of feminists has embraced what Slate writer Amanda Hess calls “ironic misandry”. Hess wrote last year that the rise in popularity of “male tears” mugs and man-hating inspired shirts and crafts serves as a sort of fuck-you to the constant barrage of harassment that feminists often face: “On its most basic level, ironic misandry functions like a stuck-out tongue pointed at a playground bully.”
Finish it up at the link.
Hey, check this out: Republican Votes for Loretta Lynch May Be at Historic Low
The most amazing thing about the Loretta Lynch story is that the congressional community no longer views it as amazing.
Lynch is on course to be confirmed this month after the longest wait ever for a nominee to be attorney general — and very likely by the closest vote ever to put a new person in charge of the Justice Department.
When Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Tuesday that the Senate debate on the nomination would begin next week, it marked 17 weeks and three days since President Barack Obama announced his choice for one of the most prestigious and pivotal positions in his Cabinet. At the time, Lynch was assured the bare minimum level of public support required for victory. Only four Republicans have announced they’ll join the 46 members of the Democratic Caucus in voting for her, meaning that at least for the time being Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. had best keep his March travel schedule a bit flexible.
Still, her sluggishly contentious path toward becoming the nation’s top law enforcement official has garnered relatively little public attention. That’s in large part because Lynch hasn’t become a focus of the daily partisan histrionics on the Hill or on cable news. And a big reason for that is because neither side views the fundamental dispute over her — extraordinary as it is by historical standards — to be remarkable at all in the context of today.
One more feminist article: TripAdvisor removes ‘feminist’ review | UK news | The Guardian
A review in which a customer described seeing a manager biting a waitress and slapping her on the bottom has been removed by TripAdvisor for contravening its guidelines.
And lastly…Cuba is coming into the 20th Century: Free Wi-Fi in Havana Shows Cuba’s Telecommunications Future — The Atlantic
It’s an image that’s familiar around the world: A group of young people, glued to their laptops or smart phones, lounging around a public space and taking advantage of free, wireless Internet. But in Cuba, this scene is far from ordinary. When the famed artist Kcho provided wi-fi at his cultural center some weeks ago, he established the first such venue in the country’s history. Now, in a rapidly changing Cuba, milestones like this have become more commonplace.
To its beneficiaries, free wi-fi is about more than gaining access to computer games and social media. It also involves establishing contact with the outside world. One 20-year-old at the cultural center was using wi-fi to chat with his father, who lives in the United States.
“Thanks to this service I can talk to him,” the man, Adonis Ortiz, told theWashington Post.
This is something amazing indeed…
At least I think so. Not on the political front, but just in terms of a cultural standpoint. We are talking about a country driven by the car wheels of the 50’s…literally.
Three months after President Obama announced that the U.S. and Cuba would normalize relations, the island’s long period of isolation appears to be coming to an end—and telecommunications is just one dimension of the change. On Saturday, a group of 80 civic and business leaders will travel from New Orleans to Havana to attend a conference, marking the first direct flight between the two cities in 57 years. And next week, a New York-based tour operator will launch a weekly charter flight between the Cuban capital and New York’s JFK airport.
Still, Cuba’s antiquated communications infrastructure presents an obstacle to economic development. In anticipation of restored U.S-Cuban ties, Havana is seeking billions of dollars in foreign direct investment across a range of sectors, but the lack of IT resources hampers these relationships. Nine out of 10 Cubans lack access to a mobile phone, and Internet connections are slow and subject to government censorship. State-run Internet cafes in the country charge $4.50 an hour for online access, a huge sum where the average monthly salary is about $20. Broadband Internet connections in Cuban homes are virtually unheard of.
The transition to a modern, Internet-driven economy won’t happen overnight. Nor is it certain to force political change. In the U.S., critics of normalization have argued that establishing closer economic ties to Cuba will only empower the Castro regime. Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican and probable presidential candidate, has cited evidence that engagement with other Communist countries did not compel them to liberalize.
“We have those policies of normalization toward Vietnam, for example, toward China,” Rubio said in December. “They’re not any more politically free today than they were when that normalization happened.”
Kcho’s cultural center offering free wi-fi in Havana, too, offers little promise of political liberalization—the center even hosted Fidel Castro last year. But for Cubans long deprived of the quality Internet service the developed world takes for granted, getting online has less to do with politics than with daily conveniences such as communicating with friends and buying things off the web. Belkis Baisal, a bed and breakfast operator in Havana, told AFP that regular Internet access will allow her to advertise her rooms. Normalization, she said, is a positive sign.
“It’s better to have friends than enemies.”
In an October (2014) survey, 40 percent of more than 1,000 teens said they had been hit or nearly hit by a car while walking, the organization Safe Kids Worldwide reported. And 85 percent of those said they were listening to music, talking on their phones or texting when it happened.
Researcher Jack Nasar at the University of Ohio calculated that more than 1,500 pedestrians were treated in emergency rooms in 2010 for injuries suffered while using their cellphones.
That was almost six times as many as five years earlier.
And Nasar said the number was probably much higher since it isn’t strictly tracked. He hasn’t followed up since, although he and others are working on a study of just how prevalent cellphone use is on the street.
Several hospitals in the Lower Hudson Valley said they don’t ask people if they were texting when they got hurt. And patients may be too embarrassed to volunteer the information.
“They may not want to admit they were an idiot,” Nasar said.
Most of us are no stranger to this scenario: A group of friends sits down to a meal together, laughing, swapping stories, and catching up on the news – but not necessarily with the people in front of them! Nowadays, it’s not unusual to have one’s phone handy on the table, easily within reach for looking up movie times, checking e-mails, showing off photos, or taking a call or two. It’s a rare person who doesn’t give in to a quick glance at the phone every now and then. Today’smultifunctional phones have become anindispensable lifeline to the rest of the world.
We might expect that the widespread availability of mobile phones boosts interpersonal connections, by allowing people to stay in touch constantly. But a recent set of studies by Andrew K. Przybylski and Netta Weinstein of the University of Essex showed that our phones can hurt our close relationships. Amazingly, they found that simply having a phone nearby, without even checking it, can be detrimental to our attempts at interpersonal connection.
It’s been a long, terrible day. As you recount your struggles, you suddenly notice your partner is furiously typing on his phone. Your anger boils (you’ve forgotten that you did the same thing to him just yesterday). It’s time to step away from the smartphone, put down the tablet, shut the laptop and turn off the TV. A slew of recent researchsuggests that if people want happy relationships, they need to stop clinging to technology.
In a new study, Coyne asked 143 married or cohabitating women to answer questions about technology use and relationships. She wanted to understand how technology encroaches on our lives and relationships, what she calls “technoference.” The vast majority of respondents, 70 percent, said using a cell phone interrupted interactions between them and their partners sometimes, often, very often or all the time. Even more, 74 percent, said that computers sometimes, often, very often or all the time disturbed their interactions with partners.
The women who reported technoference also said they fought more with their partners, which made them feel badly about their relationships. On top of this, they felt more depressed and less satisfied with life.
“What I think the most important finding is, the more you let the technology interfere, the more conflict you have with your spouse or partner and that leads to not feeling great about the relationship,” she says.
Still there’s other research showing that cell phone dependence can be unhealthy.
“Cell phone attachment is positively related to an increase in stress and anxiety and even depression,” says James A. Roberts, a professor of marketing at Baylor University Hankamer School of Business.
In a 2012 paper, Roberts coined the word “phub,” a mash-up of phone and snub. Phubbing occurs when someone chooses to play with an app, text or take a phone call instead of paying attention to a person.
“Essentially, what we are saying is that you don’t matter,” he says. “It touches at our core.”
Oh boy…the horror…..Cubans are a hot-blooded people, believe me I know from my experience. But we are also a passionate emotionally connected people with a strong culture of close associations. We are not a cold group of people either…we hug…human contact is big with us. So I hope that those kinds of cultural values don’t change as technology seeps into Cuba. I can’t say if it has changed within out own communities here in the US…as I have been stuck in Hicktown Banjoville for so dang long, but I can at least hope and pretend things are still the same back home in West Tampa. It’s all I got sometimes, when all around me is fried chicken and racist ignorance. I do miss the days when there were more colors in my world….all types of colors.
You all have a great day.
Well, what do ya know? Obama administration puts immigration protections on hold after order – LA Times
President Obama’s plans to protect millions of immigrants from deportation were frozen on Tuesday while his administration scrambled to appeal an order by a federal judge in Texas temporarily halting the program.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson announced that the Obama administration has put off for now the first step in implementing the program, expanding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals initiative that has granted a temporary reprieve from deportation for nearly 600,000 young people. The administration had been scheduled to begin accepting applications for the expansion Wednesday.
Johnson said the administration was also putting on hold plans for a much larger program, known as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans, which could apply to around 4 million adult immigrants.
“The Department of Justice will appeal that temporary injunction,” Johnson said in a statement, referring to the judge’s order. “In the meantime, we recognize we must comply with it. We fully expect to ultimately prevail in the courts, and we will be prepared to implement DAPA and expanded DACA once we do.”
I don’t know…I thought that the Federal Court could not overrule an Executive Order. I mean, seriously…isn’t it a Presidential Order?…Above Congress and stuff? (But you know, I am talking out my ass here. It just felt good to say what I first thought about when I’d heard about this “temporary injunction”….to be honest with y’all. )
Really, my mind is not working very well the past few days. It sounds crazy, but the only thought I can seem to work on is trying to write out a metaphor for the Koch Brothers, and the lingering effect they will have on our country, as to their crappy Angel Soft toilet paper…and the fibery dingleberries the stuff leaves behind.
Oh sure, they make it out like the product (shit paper) their selling you is the best quality and hell…they say it is so fucking cheap to boot. But the truth of the matter is, you are being fucked in more ways than you realize. Because they are charging you the same prices for way less than what you used to get, they’ve got a monopoly on the shit paper isle as it is anyway so what choices do you really have…and, as if they do it purposely, those bits of linty irritant only continue to remind you just what an annoying pain in the ass the Koch Brothers really are. (Oh, and they are going to bring down the whole of civilization as we know it…you’ll see.) But that somehow connects to a reference to a backed up septic tank… due to the said nappy ass toilet paper in the first place, but then you see I am back where I started.
This week in things we wish were just a Colbert Report sketch, an Oklahoma legislative committee overwhelmingly approved a bill that would cut funding for the teaching of Advanced Placement U.S. History. The 11 Republicans who approved the measure over the objections of four Democrats weren’t trying to win over Oklahoma’s lazy high school juniors. Tulsa Worldreports that Representative Dan Fisher, who introduced the bill, lamented during Monday’s hearing that the new AP U.S. History framework emphasizes “what is bad about America,” and doesn’t teach “American exceptionalism.” It’s a complaint that’s been spreading among mostly conservative state legislatures in recent months, and has some calling for a ban on all AP courses.
Earlier this month, the Georgia state Senate introduced a resolution that rejects a new version of the AP U.S. History course for presenting a “radically revisionist view of American history” and minimizing “discussion of America’s Founding Fathers, the principles of the Declaration of Independence, [and] the religious influences on our nation’s history.” It says that if the College Board does not revise the test, Georgia will cut funding for the course. The exam has also sparked controversy in Texas, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Colorado, where students in Jefferson County protested last fall when a school board member said the course should be modified to promote “patriotism,” and discourage “civil disorder, social strife, or disregard of the law.”
I can’t bear to link to any more stories like that. Let’s all look at some cool pictures.
A great portrait is more than just a frozen reflection of the subject’s appearance. It’s a chance moment, blanketed in natural light, in which the subject’s authentic self is visible in her expression, her stance, her aura. A great portrait blurs the line between a subject and her surroundings, all contributing equally to the overall impression of a singular human being.
Photographer Barbara Yoshida captured not one great portrait, but 100. And to make it all the more glorious, her subjects are all female artists, groundbreaking in their own right.
The story of Vivian Maier is probably one of the art world’s most compelling mysteries. A nanny by profession, she was an alarmingly talented and vastly prolific photographer whose keen eye for the mundane produced some of the 20th century’s most intriguing works of street photography. At times she was a Mary Poppins, trekking across a city like Chicago with a gaggle of children passing like ducklings behind her. At other times, she was Weegee, tuned into the pulse of urban centers, her lens drawn to crowds of celebrity, crime and everything squished in between.
The juxtaposition of being a lifelong caretaker in one moment, chasing kids and bickering with parents, and a relentless documentarian on the other, churning out rolls of film a day, is enigmatic in itself. But the real kick is that Vivian Maier is a name no one truly knew until about 2007. It was then that a former real estate agent named John Maloof unknowingly purchased a box of her photographic negatives for $400. Fast forward through a heavy dose of research and detective work, and you have “Finding Vivian Maier,” the Oscar-nominated film that recounts the life of a woman the art world reveres, but no one actually seems to know.
In 2012, Brooklyn-based artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh embarked upon a project titled “Stop Telling Women to Smile.” The series, comprised of portraits pasted on the sides of buildings, aimed to combat street harassment targeted at women by commanding offenders in public spaces to think before they speak.
“Street harassment is a serious issue that affects women worldwide,” the artist proclaims on her site. “This project takes women’s voices, and faces, and puts them in the street — creating a bold presence for women in an environment where they are so often made to feel uncomfortable and unsafe.”
In his landmark book, Orientalism, the late scholar Edward Said wrote of “exteriority,” a disconnect between the traveler’s fantasies and reality. Reading the travelogues of French writers, Said once explained that he found “representations of the Orient had very little to do with what I knew about my own background in life.”
That is the least strange of the bunch.
As you’re probably well aware, hospitals tend not to be the most visually enticing of spaces, especially for kids. Between the fluorescent lights, the sterile aesthetic and the deluge of achromatic hues somewhere between oatmeal and taupe, the spaces where so many humans experience their most physically and emotionally trying moments really aren’t helping much as far as ambiance goes.
That’s where the power of art comes in.
American Ballet Theater icon Misty Copeland has over 402,000 followers on Instagram. To compare, athletes like Venus and Serena Williams have 89,500 and 992,000 followers, respectively. Michael Phelps has 462,000. Danica Patrick has 26,900.
Of course, ballet is easily the most photogenic of the sports. An art form that toes the line between performance and feats of athleticism, it’s filled with pirouettes and arabesques that when frozen in a frame appear like paintings or perfectly sculpted statues. Misty’s Instagram account is filled with shots both on and off a stage, flexing her muscles and practicing her craft. And she’s hardly the only ballerina — or ballerino — to grace the platform. One glimpse at the popular Ballerina Project account, followed by an impressive 641,000, and it’s easy to see why dance fans are quick to double click on the endless stream of posed portraits.
Each student at the Forensic Sculpture Workshop at the New York Academy of Art (NYAA) begins with a skull. More specifically, each begins with a plaster replica of a real human skull made by a medical examiner, a facsimile of an unidentified crime victim in New York City.
From this foundation, the students sculpt a face, using a block of clay and whatever information they can glean from the ongoing investigations — such as age, height, gender and race. They also included grimmer details, such as the locations of bullet holes or crushed bones.
The resulting sculptures, lifelike in their realistic portrayals, capture the likenesses of unknown citizens who faced cruel and untimely deaths from a variety of gruesome circumstances, in the hopes that someone walking by the university windows will see a face and recognize it.
In his series “Cesar,” the French artist captures babies in their first moments of life — specifically, between three and 18 seconds of existing outside the womb. As you may have ascertained from the project’s title, all of Berthelot’s subjects underwent (and survived) a Caesarean section — a procedure in which the baby is removed via an incision in the mother’s abdomen. Berthelot’s first child was born after a C-section, serving as the inspiration for this powerful project.
The circus has always been a space rife with visual splendor. Long before a certain FX anthology series brought “freak shows” into the pop culture conversation, the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey made clowns and acrobats essential elements of entertainment when they merged in 1919. In fact, together, they amounted to “The Greatest Show on Earth.”
Ken Light’s photos from 1969 to 1974 document the social landscape of America as it frayed at the seams, rife with turmoil. As a young photographer, Light captured the country at this pivotal moment, and his frontline protest photos in Ohio and political images from the 1972 Republican Convention in Miami show the opposite ends of the spectrum.
But the photos that make his new book, American Stories in the Age of Protest, so great are less-familiar ones: the everyday person out waving flags in support of Nixon, the garage band taking to a makeshift stage in support of McGovern, the kids hanging out in West Oakland. It’s photos like these, so common at the time, that gain importance with age. They give contour and meaning to historical projects such as this.
Think of this as an open thread, there is just one more thing…try and stay warm cause it is fucking cold out there.
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.