Sunday Reads: What Lurks on Channel X?

b78ba9697f6b3c820fe7045fe58d262f Good Morning

and

Happy Father’s Day

(And that goes out to you especially Ralphie boy!)

I don’t know, but from the looks of that

old comic there ————->

…it would be safe to guess that ugly dog face men with cow ears and no bodies lurk on Channel X.

Actually, one of those things looks like Herman Munster.

Okay, seriously. This is going to be a quickie post, my internet is acting up and the service keeps freezing up on me.

Today’s post will have images of comic monsters, furry…slimy things. Monsters that are funny looking.

First up a series of news links:

From Voice of America: US Orders USS George H.W. Bush to Gulf

The United States has ordered an aircraft carrier into the Gulf in response to the crisis in Iraq.

The Pentagon spokesman, Rear Admiral John Kirby, says Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel gave the order that the USS George H.W. Bush move from the North Arabian Sea to the Gulf Saturday.
Kirby says the order provides President Barack Obama “additional flexibility should military options be required to protect American lives, citizens and interests in Iraq.”

A guided-missile cruiser and a guided-missile destroyer will accompany the aircraft carrier.

2cd6f830a669d909a2005c4f1b5df00eUgh. I will just let that go for now. Sigh.

In another development Saturday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said his country is ready to help Iraq if asked, and would consider working with Tehran’s longtime foe, the United States, in fighting Sunni extremists if Washington decides to take strong action against the fighters. Iran has developed close ties in recent years with the Shi’ite-led government in Baghdad.

U.S. President Barack Obama said Friday his national security advisers are preparing “a range of options” for U.S. assistance to Iraq’s government as it faces an assault by al-Qaida inspired Islamist militants.

The president said the militants who have overrun parts of Iraq are a threat to the Baghdad government and people throughout the country, and pose an active threat to American interests as well. He said division among Iraq’s leadership has led to the current crisis.

According to news reports by Reuters, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the Washington’s assistance would only work if Iraqi leaders “overcame deep divisions.” The top U.S. diplomat communicated the information in a Saturday phone call with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari.

In India: With 4 Hangings in 2 Weeks, India’s Women Are Living in Fear | TIME

Recent cases are only the tip of an ‘endemic’ problem that runs deep in the region’s societies, says senior Amnesty researcher Divya Iyer.

9304e3f93d211a53851f73ea0d05bb74Meanwhile here in the States…we have a year to date total on the number of children deported back to Mexico, via Raw Story: More than 6,000 Mexican ‘unaccompanied minors’ sent back from U.S.

More than 6,000 Mexican children and teens who crossed unaccompanied and illegally into the United States were repatriated in the first four months of this year, Mexican officials said Saturday.

In nearly all cases, the children had already been arrested at least once, and some more than five times, in attempts to cross the US border.

The children make the grueling journey of hundreds of miles (kilometers) through Mexico to escape dire economic conditions and violence in their home countries, and to join relatives in the United States.

“From January 1 to April 30, 2014, the Mexican consular network offered assistance to 6,233 unaccompanied Mexican minors… in the process of their repatriation to Mexico,” a statement from the foreign ministry said.

Of them, nearly 77 percent had been detained more than once in attempts to cross the border, and 21 percent had been previously been held more than five times.

On the domestic terrorist front:

Las Vegas gunman’s Infowars posts included speculation about killing cops – Salon.com

This article was originally published by The Southern Poverty Law Center.

In the wake of Sunday’s deadly attacks in North Las Vegas, at the hands of two antigovernment “Patriot” extremists, Infowars host Alex Jones warned his listeners that the media would soon start claiming that there’s a connection between his conspiracist media operation and the killers.

As a matter of fact, Jerad Miller – the 31-year-old Indiana man who led the attack, assisted by his 22-year-old wife, Amanda – liked to post on the Infowars member forum. And he constantly promoted Infowars on his Facebook page.

In one of his Infowars posts, Miller even speculated about whether or not he should kill police officers.

“The emerging narrative in the Las Vegas shooting now includes Alex Jones,” the Infowars site complained shortly after news of the shootings broke. In short order, Jones began calling the shootings a “false flag operation” secretly staged by nefarious federal government operatives who set it up to look like it was a crime committed by domestic terrorists.

“The incident is custom-made to demonize the patriot movement,” the Infowars site claimed. “The Southern Poverty Law Center has consistently attempted to forge a link between white supremacists and members of the patriot and constitutional movements.”

Jones became downright imaginative, explaining to his listeners, in one rant, how he would go about setting up the murders if he were a government agent, and then warning that the shootings mean that “civil war is coming”. He also began assigning responsibility for the “false flag operation.” In one rant, he accused Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of being behind the crimes. In another, it was the work of President Obama and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.


Jones’ wild claims must be intended to distract from the fact that, as Media Matters reported, Miller avidly posted Infowars links on his Facebook page and urged his readers to the website – saying, in one such post, to “get informed or get stupid”.What those claims fail to explain is why, beginning in May 2012, Jerad Miller became an Infowars forum member and began posting long pieces there. In all, he appears to have published five posts, though one of them titled “A Short Story About Protesting” is no longer available.

ee7cc0ca90f799d3e062edd4eb4435b5If this man was a Muslim…and he used infowars forum to post shit regarding his plan to kill cops…then that website would be shut down. Right?

By far the most striking and disturbing of these posts is the May 28, 2012, post he titled: “The Police (to kill or not to kill?).” Most of it is devoted to him explaining at length that he’s mostly a law-abiding citizen who doesn’t steal from people, but police oppression over his marijuana business is driving him to think of violence: “I am like a wild coyote,” he wrote.  “You corner me, I will fight to the death.” He continued:

I feel that I have been violated and tread upon.  That the so called justice system has done me harm.  I do not wish to kill police.  I understand that most of them believe they are doing the right thing.  Yet, I will not go to jail, because I have not committed a crime!  I would rather die than be labeled as a criminal.  Let them call me a terrorist.  Let them label me as a fanatic, some nut job.  I know the truth, and so does God.  I’m sure our founding fathers were labeled as such.

It concluded with what appears in hindsight to be a conclusion:

So, do I kill cops and make a stand when they come to get me?  I would prefer to die than sit in their jail, when I have done nothing to hurt anyone.

Jones is also in the news for this recent shit story: Alex Jones and gun advocate Larry Pratt: Obama training military to attack the Tea Party

Right Wing Watch reported that Pratt was appearing on Jones’ Infowars radio show when the two began to discuss the furor that surrounded a 2009 report by the Department of Homeland Security that warned of a possible rise in far-right extremist violence in the United States.

Jones and Pratt declared that the DHS report was a plot against conservatives and that Pres. Obama is planning on using an obscure law passed in 2010 as justification for the use of military force against members of the Tea Party.

The conservative Washington Timesreported the story as if Obama had invented a provision of federal law that allowed for intervention by the military on domestic soil “in extraordinary emergency circumstances where prior authorization by the president is impossible.” However, the clause is a longstanding one that has been in effect under many presidents.

Jones, however, interprets the law to be official confirmation that the U.S. military is, at this moment, “training with tanks, armored vehicles, drones” to “take on the American people, mainly the Tea Party.”

“Well, he’s certainly not thinking that Muslims are a threat,” Pratt replied, “so he’s turning to his political opponents, declaring that they’re the enemy and ignoring the fact that Muslims from time to time have a tendency to go ‘boom.’”

c560b27bd150a4b7213222cd6c9e8cd0Geez, these assholes are the real monsters…I’m telling you!

Regarding another domestic terrorist shooting: Oregon school shooter’s journal reveals he was devout Mormon out to kill ‘sinners’

The diary of the 15-year-old Oregon high schooler who shot and killed a classmate and injured a teacher before turning the gun on himself revealed that the teen was a religious fundamentalist who was out to kill “sinners.”

According to the New York Daily News, freshman Jared Padgett was known at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Gresham, OR as being quiet, but was “highly regarded for his spirituality” by church elders.

Padgett walked into Reynolds High School last Tuesday carrying “an AR-15 type rifle, a semi-automatic handgun, ammunition and a large knife,” and opened fire, killing freshman Emilio Hoffman. Portland’s KGW reported that police found the teenager’s journal while searching through the belongings he left behind.

A police source told the TV station that Padgett did not name specific students or teachers in his plans, but was rather on a mission to cleanse the world of “sinners.”

79c243066d401b753852d85102673854But hey, let’s not just catch up on the killers. Check out some other classy folks, this one in Florida: Florida Mom Kidnaps Daughter to Avoid Vaccines, Learning Black History

A mother in Sunrise, Florida is now facing a federal criminal charge after disappearing with her two-year-old daughter last month in order to avoid having her vaccinated. (This served the dual purpose of keeping her from being “brainwashed” and keeping her out of school, where she might learn about black history).

According to the Sun-Sentinel, Megan Elizabeth Everett, 22, disappeared on May 6th after Robert Baumann—with whom she shares custody of their daughter, Lilly—dropped Lilly off at her home. Everett was supposed to return Lilly a week later, in compliance with a shared custody agreement, but never showed up. She instead left a note for Baumann, saying:

“You are a great dad. If I let them take her and vaccinate her and brainwash her, I wouldn’t be doing what’s right. I cannot let a judge tell me how my daughter should be raised. We will miss you. But I had to leave.”

A warrant for Everett’s arrest was issued on May 19, on charges of kidnapping, interference with custody, and concealing a minor contrary to a court order. The federal charge accused Everett of crossing state lines to avoid prosecution for the state charges.

This is probably going to end up sad…as you can imagine, Everett lived with her mother until she:

 

 

…became involved with a man named Carlos Lesters, at which point she severed ties with her family.

The Sun-Sentinel states that court documents describe Lesters as a “Confederate-flag-waving gun enthusiast with family members in Georgia and Kentucky.”Sunrise Police Searching For Missing Toddler - NBC 6 South Florida 2014-06-15 10-07-03

Robert Baumann, who had planned to vaccinate his daughter and enroll her in preschool the next time he had custody, said:

“One of the issues we had was, she wanted to home-school my daughter. I didn’t want that to happen. She didn’t want Lilly to learn about black history. She just wanted her to learn about the Confederacy.” … “She found this new idea that vaccines are horrible. I think she wanted to keep her from being vaccinated because that would keep her out of day care.”

After Lilly’s disappearance, Sunrise police went to her last known address, where they found Lesters. He told them that Everett and her daughter were gone and “not coming back.” The federal criminal complaint states:

“Lesters informed detectives that Everett … knew she would have to live her life as a fugitive. However, in her mind, the time that she spent with her daughter ‘free’ of Baumann would be ‘worth it,’ regardless of how brief the time was.”

Everette and Lilly are still missing…(Updated to include picture of Everette and Lilly.)

a4abb019d1f00a9fd359853f73d78162More GOP crazy, only with a touch of reason: GOP Candidate Condemns Her Own Husband’s ‘Inappropriate’ Remarks | Mediaite

When was the last time you heard about a politician disavowing or condemning something their own spouse said? Well, Iowa Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst did just that this week when she publicly expressed how “appalled” she was by her husband’s past outlandish comments about former Homeland Secretary Janet Napolitano.

According to The Des Moines Register, Ernst’s husband referred to Napolitano as a “traitorous skank” on Facebook last year, and a month before that he made a joke about shooting an ex-wife. And in addition to that, he also once called Hillary Clinton a “hag.”

Reached for public comment about her husband’s posts, Ernst was unequivocally outraged.

“I’m appalled by my husband’s remarks… They are uncalled for and clearly inappropriate. I’ve addressed this issue with my husband and that’s between us.”

Meanwhile, Gail Ernst took down those posts in questions and posted an apology to his Facebook page.

Good for her!

c104604a42ae1d1dc6d39350405470fcSpeaking of Hillary: Hillary Clinton’s Book Tour Watch: CostCo in Arlington – You Never Know Who You Might Bump Into! | Still4Hill

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor bumped into Hillary Clinton at a Costco in Arlington, Virginia on Saturday.

Someone else was shopping there too…go see who at the link.

Rest of the links will be in dump fashion.

50 years ago, ‘Freedom Summer’ changed South, US – SFGate

… hundreds of volunteers — mostly Northern white college students — who descended on Mississippi during what came to be known as “Freedom Summer.” They came to register blacks to vote, and to establish “Freedom Schools” and community centers to help prepare those long disenfranchised for participation in what they hoped would be a new political order.

Opposition was brutal. Churches were bombed, volunteers were arrested, beaten — even murdered.

The Rabbi Cardinal O’Connor Never Knew: His Grandfather – NYTimes.com

In his 16 years as the Catholic Church’s top official in New York, Cardinal John Joseph O’Connor was a staunch friend and defender of the Jewish people.

He spoke often about what he had seen at Dachau as a Navy chaplain. He used his platform as head of the Archdiocese of New York to support Soviet Jewry, and played a role in the Vatican’s recognition of the state of Israel. Mayor Edward I. Koch, a Bronx-born Jew who worked closely with the cardinal, proclaimed that he loved him “like a brother.”

Yet there was something Cardinal O’Connor apparently never knew: His mother was born a Jew, the daughter of a rabbi.

14c4a1ed09743ffd58d8053c7aa93f11This is from OpEdNews.com…so not sure of the veracity. Article: Fukushima’s Children are Dying | OpEdNews

Some 39 months after the multiple explosions at Fukushima, thyroid cancer rates among nearby children have skyrocketed to more than forty times (40x) normal.

More than 48 percent of some 375,000 young people–nearly 200,000 kids–tested by the Fukushima Medical University near the smoldering reactors now suffer from pre-cancerous thyroid abnormalities, primarily nodules and cysts. The rate is accelerating.

See what I mean. Read it, because it is alarming….even more so if the reports are true.

From Phys.org:  Oregon hopes to be first state to map GMO fields

A couple of links on World Cup 2014:

As World Cup Begins, Refereeing Again Becomes an Issue – NYTimes.com

2014 World Cup ball has better aerodynamics: NASA

4d8634fb9e9f13680fa3b49c910d288aThis next link is from a magazine called the Best of Sicily. After you read it, take a look around the site…it is awesome! Joan of England, Joanna Plantagenet, Queen of Sicily – Best of Sicily Magazine

Since we start with a medieval history link, let’s take a look at a few more…from Medieval.net:

Quiz: Can You Name the Location of These Churches?

A Grave Revisited: On Grave Robbery in Viking Age Iceland

Medieval Images of the Human Body

And sticking with old ass news…but not medieval old ass news:

91-Year-Old Man Returns Library Book after 61 Years

Back in 1953, the world was a different place. We were somewhere between a Truman and an Eisenhower presidency, Dean Martin and Perry Como were leading the charts, and people used these rather crude and uncivilized collections of books called libraries. Egads, how did they live before the internet?

Ron Webster of Derbyshire, England, was working as a research assistant at the social sciences department of the University of Liverpool, and checked out a book from one of these libraries entitled Structure and Function in Primitive Society. But when he left to work in London, he committed the grave crime of forgetting to return his library book.

It wasn’t until very recently, 61 years later, that he discovered the book and realized where it came from. So, he did the honest thing and returned the book. Librarian Phil Sykes was pretty amused at the situation. Via University of Liverpool:

They called me and said you’ve got to come down. There’s a gentleman trying to return a book he took out in 1953. He’s 91-years-old!

I can only think of one thing:

But check out the fees that were owed…

Webster racked up a sizable late fee of £4,510 (20p per day for 22,550 days), but Sykes was kind and sane enough to waive the fee.

“Of course, I cannot condone the late return of books but I remitted the fine of £4,510 on the condition that Mr Webster agreed, henceforth, to live an exemplary life and return all his books on time.”

10bfcf73382ac423757d0d392cb36366That is some big money. Dude was lucky they waived the fees.

Well, I will end this post with a tale of a King called Lear: Putting the baa into the Baaard: It’s King Lear with sheep

“A friend of mine has just got back from Harvard,” it reads, “and is putting on a version of King Lear in which the cast is almost exclusively composed of real sheep in Shakespearian costume.”

 

 

Intriguing, and made even more so by the fact that the sender of said email is one Charlie Gilmour. Contact is made. Tentatively, I broach the subject of whether I am talking to that Charlie Gilmour, the young man who was known only as the son of David Gilmour the Pink Floyd guitarist until he spent four months in prison in 2011 for violent disorder (he was photographed hanging from the Cenotaph) during the tuition-fee riots.

“I keep myself to myself, these days,” he says. But I will go to see my friend Heather’s play [staged for the first time last night at DIG Open Studios in south-east London].” So a little of that anarchic spirit remains, I venture? “Indeed.”

“It is a hate letter to the theatre,” the show’s producer Lucie Elven says. “It is about a director who tries to put on a production of King Lear with sheep and, obviously, the sheep refuse to talk to him. In the original play, there is a lot about silence: Cordelia refusing to tell her father she loves him, and our production echoes that because obviously the sheep are not performing.”

If you think this is a joke, its not…check out their Facebook page:

DIG presents King Lear with Sheep

A stubborn director is trying to put on a production of King Lear with a cast composed solely of sheep. As expected, his actors are both silent and mutinous. Much chaos ensues. King Lear with Sheep is an experimental re-evaluation of its famous predecessor that overturns theatrical conventions through the startling and revolutionary device of costumed sheep.

Sheep! In tiny costumes!

Capacity is EXTREMELY LIMITED so arrive early if you want a seat! The event is free, but there will be a suggested donation on the door (so I can give my sheep a living wage)

CREW

Writer/Director —- Heather Williams
Producer/Assistant Director —- Lucie Elven
Costume Design —- Ava Asaadi, Camille Auclair, Anna Reid
Set Design —- Pippa Scarcliffe
Build Crew —- James Butler
Lighting Design —- Nick Morris
Sound Design —- Cy An

CAST

Director —- Alasdair Saksena
King Lear —- Sheep #1
Cordelia —- Sheep #2
Goneril —- Sheep #3
Regan —- Sheep #4
Gloucester —- Sheep #5
Edgar —- Sheep #6
Edmund —- Sheep #7
Kent —- Sheep #8

Some of the sheep will be playing multiple roles. There will be a bar.

I love it!!!!!

Hopefully they post some pictures of the sheep in drag, I mean in costume. If so I will update the thread.

Ah, well…in the words of a famous porker (he’s no sheep mind you.) “That’s all folks!”  Y’all have a great day…what are you up to this Father’s Day?


Sunday Reads: Apollo 13 and Midget Mansion

a2828e0d67a998272aebc61c0f4adb0eGood Morning

It is another year…for me at least…44 of them! I don’t have any plans today, except sit and worry about my Bebe who is off in Chicago. She has a performance today and then the competition tomorrow afternoon before she heads back to Banjoville.

A long ass bus ride back to Banjoville.

l-p15tgzo47f97a6Anyway, before I get to the links just a quick note about the pictures for today’s post. They are all centered around the Apollo 13 mission that took off exactly 44 years ago today.  Links to photo galleries at the end of this thread.

On to the newsy stories.

The latest on that horrific bus crash in California is confusing. Bus crash: Witness says FedEx truck lost control while changing lanes

A witness to Thursday’s deadly tour bus crash said the driver of the FedEx truck appeared to lose control while changing lanes before barreling across the center median of Interstate 5 and colliding head-on with a tour bus filled with high school students.

af13b91b9fd5110c11240fb43c7441d2Ryan Householder told The Times on Saturday that he was mowing his lawn, which faces the southbound lanes of the highway, when he heard screeching tires Thursday. He looked up and watched the crash occur. The drivers of both vehicles were killed as were eight people on board the tour bus.

[…]

Householder, 31, said the FedEx truck, hauling two trailers, was in the slower of two southbound lanes behind a red van, he said. The truck tried to merge into the faster lane, he said, but there were two cars there.

At that point, the truck driver seemed to lose control of his vehicle, Householder said. The truck shot across the grassy median, shearing the tops off bushes that separate the northbound and southbound lanes.

The truck began straightening out, Householder said, but by that time it was already on the northbound lane and it collided with the bus carrying high school students on their way to Humboldt State University.

“When they collided, it was boom!” he said. Both vehicles erupted into fire.

The truck, Householder said, was not on fire before the crash.

c98ce7e19c8423a1c74ae9378b5ad4c8However this is differs from another eyewitness earlier story: ORLAND, Calif: Conflicting accounts emerge about deadly California bus crash |

Bonnie and Joe Duran told TV reporters in Northern California late Friday that their Nissan Altima was sideswiped by the truck before it collided head-on with the bus. They said flames were visible from the big rig as it crossed the median and hit their car.

“It was on fire already,” Bonnie Duran said.

Investigators have not publicly responded to the Durans’ account.

Cameron Birk, the couple’s son-in-law, told The Times Saturday that he has talked to Joe Duran several times since the accident. He said Duran told him the couple were driving northbound on the interstate in the left lane, with Bonnie at the wheel, when they first saw the FedEx truck. Bonnie jerked the wheel to the right to avoid a head-on collision.

“The truck was already on fire when it had crossed the median,” Birk recalled Joe Duran telling him. “They were the first car it hit, so they just jerked the wheel hard and got side-wiped.” They spun out and got thrown into a ditch, Birk said.

Read more here: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2014/04/12/224252/conflicting-accounts-emerge-about.html#storylink=cpy

World news is buzzing:

5d06c9b5640305ad7f39b74f40457615Thousands in Paris and Rome protest austerity measures | Al Jazeera America

Tens of thousands of people took part in protests in central Paris and Rome, organized by hard-left parties opposed to government economic reform plans and austerity measures.

Police in Rome armed with batons charged members of a large splinter group — many wearing masks and helmets — and also used tear gas to push back the crowd, with protesters fighting back with rocks and firecrackers. One man lost a hand when a firecracker exploded before he could throw it.

There were dozens of lighter injuries among police and protesters, and at least six arrests, police said.

The protest was organized as a challenge to high housing costs and joblessness as a result of Italy’s long economic slowdown. The procession made its way peacefully through central Rome until the more violent element wearing helmets started throwing objects at police near the Labor Ministry.

220c50b4a7a1db8872ce833884cb0318And in a West Virginia water chemical crap spill of epic proportions: China: Water ban for millions after oil spill hits refinery town | Al Jazeera America

A crude oil leak from a pipeline owned by a unit of China National Petroleum Corp. (CNPC) is to blame for water contamination that has affected more than 2.4 million people in the Chinese city of Lanzhou, in the the landlocked northwest part of the country, according to Chinese media reports Saturday.

The leak poisoned the water source for a water plant, introducing hazardous levels of benzene into the city’s water, according to China’s official news agency Xinhua.

Residents scrambled to buy bottled water after authorities warned against using taps, in scenes reminiscent of a municipal water ban in the United States, following a coal-processing chemical spill that affected 300,000 West Virginians in January.

Xinhau cited Yan Zijiang, Lanzhou’s environmental protection chief, as saying that a leak in a pipeline owned by Lanzhou Petrochemical Co., a unit of CNPC, was to blame for the water contamination.

Read more on the pollution regulations they are trying to reign in over there in China.

Down Under: Tropical Cyclone Hits Australia As ‘One Of The Most Powerful Storms’ In ‘Living Memory’ | ThinkProgress

Read the rest of this entry »


Wednesday Reads: Mambo Italiano Muthafukkerz…

1091f45df98358d48611af8ac49be2dbGood Morning

Well, another storm is hitting here in Banjoville. The weather people are saying we should get a total of 6 to 12 inches of snow when it is all said and done.

Down south things are a lot worse…if you have not seen the big headlines over at Huffington Post or Drudge, take a look at this:

Via Drudge

HISTORIC ICE STORM UNFOLDS IN SOUTH...
GEORGIA WARNED: 'CATASTROPHIC'...
SEEN FROM SPACE...
Hundreds of flights cancelled...
Roads deserted...
Panicked Shoppers Fight Over Food...
Nor'easter Could Be 'Biggest Of Season'...
'Snow Rage' Afflicts Storm-Weary Locals...

And HuffPo

SOUTH BRACES FOR ‘CATASTROPHIC’ STORM

Deadly ice and snow storm bears down on U.S. South | Reuters

The storm could be “a catastrophic event” of “historical proportions,” the National Weather Service office in Peachtree City, Georgia, said of the latest blast of wintry weather to hit the region.232ee103789d0f5b43c9f78b0272a458

Conditions were expected to worsen overnight, with up to an inch of ice predicted in parts of Georgia and central South Carolina.

Two to 6 inches of snow fell in north Georgia on Tuesday, with another 5 to 9 inches expected by Thursday morning, said National Weather Service meteorologist Dan Darbe.

But Darbe said ice was the bigger worry, with a quarter to three-quarters of an inch expected in the area that includes metropolitan Atlanta.

[…]

Officials were quick to make plans for dealing with the weather after being criticized for inadequate preparation before a storm two weeks ago. That storm paralyzed Atlanta area roads and forced more than 11,000 students in Alabama to spend the night at their schools.

Oh you bet your ass they were ready this time…

0211 Luckovich cartoon: Drift away | Mike Luckovich

021114-toon-luckovich-ed

In other news, House Approves Higher Debt Limit Without Condition – NYTimes.com

f827bc9e35771965e33b76c555d00cdcEnding three years of brinkmanship in which the threat of a devastating default on the nation’s debt was used to wring conservative concessions from President Obama, the House on Tuesday voted to raise the government’s borrowing limit until March 2015, without any conditions.

The vote — 221 to 201 — relied almost entirely on Democrats in the Republican-controlled House to carry the measure and represented the first debt ceiling increase since 2009 that was not attached to other legislation. Only 28 Republicans voted yes, and only two Democrats voted no.

I guess you could say hell froze over?

2440946b7e4be9ef6ce9a7a6cd0d3a66Simply by holding the vote, Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio effectively ended a three-year Tea Party-inspired era of budget showdowns that had raised the threat of default and government shutdowns, rattled economic confidence and brought serious scrutiny from other nations questioning Washington’s ability to govern. In the process, though, Mr. Boehner also set off a series of reprisals from fellow Republican congressmen and outside groups that showcased the party’s deep internal divisions.

“He gave the president exactly what he wanted, which is exactly what the Republican Party said we did not want,” said a Republican representative, Tim Huelskamp of Kansas, who last year unsuccessfully tried to rally enough support to derail Mr. Boehner’s re-election as speaker. “It’s going to really demoralize the base.”

e6cca4e1507cba937018309733ea71a1The NYT article goes on to say it was a victory for the President and the Dems…but considering the shit we have dealt with the last few years, and those poor people who will be dealing with lower food stamp funds, how can that be a victory?

Meanwhile in West Virginia, another spill is causing the citizens grief: ‘Significant’ slurry spill blackens Kanawha creek

More than 100,000 gallons of coal slurry poured into an eastern Kanawha County stream Tuesday in what officials were calling a “significant spill” from a Patriot Coal processing facility.

Emergency officials and environmental inspectors said roughly six miles of Fields Creek had been blackened and that a smaller amount of the slurry made it into the Kanawha River near Chesapeake.

83a0b790e2e248e98e6d1edde44bf60a“This has had significant, adverse environmental impact to Fields Creek and an unknown amount of impact to the Kanawha River,” said Secretary Randy Huffman of the state Department of Environmental Protection. “This is a big deal, this is a significant slurry spill.”

“When this much coal slurry goes into the stream, it wipes the stream out.”

That is disgusting. I don’t think the people of West Virginia will ever be able to drink the water again.

For a little laugh, here is my favorite actor of today…I know the reason for the video is not funny, it is disgusting, but of all the other “black actors doing commercials” it is good to see Sammy call the asshole out:

Samuel Jackson goes nuclear on reporter for confusing him with Laurence Fishburne – Salon.com

Local TV stations have a reputation for goofy unprofessionalism and quirky hiccups.  This segment at KTLA in Los Angeles is something so much worse. Veteran entertainment reporter Sam Rubin begins his interview by asking about Jackson’s Super Bowl commercial, and things get real ugly real quick.

Samuel Jackson goes nuclear on reporter for confusing him with Laurence Fishburne

“What Super Bowl commercial?” responds a flabbergasted Jackson.  ”See, you’re as crazy as the people on Twitter. I’m not Laurence Fishburne!” (Fishburne reprised his role as Morpheus in “The Matrix” for a Kia spot.) “We don’t all look alike!”

He then goes on to list other black actors in commercials, who he is not.

8c717a1dd36b6aae4951ef50a11320b6Of course, the news reporter is not the only one who was tacky as hell, as you can “hear” from the video at the link:

Just as uncomfortable as Rubin’s attempts to brush off the blunder by saying, “Really my big mistake … let’t talk about ‘Robocop,’” are the hoots and howls coming from Rubin’s peers who clearly don’t get how terribly offensive this “mistake” is.  Rubin later apologized and claimed he was referring to a commercial for Jackson’s upcoming “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.”  Regardless, the incident (and Jackson’s blunt response) is a reminder of Hollywood’s serious race problem that was starkly evident at the Golden Globes.

You can see the look on Jackson’s face at the end, it really does show how tired he is of all the shit.

I noticed yesterday y’all were talking in the comments about books you were reading, I just started to read this one about cuss words as discussed in this link here:  Here’s the first recorded instance of the F-word in Englishec888f05da4ae0857ec3302f256c8421

And it’s a monk expressing his displeasure at an abbot. In the margins of a guide to moral conduct. Because of course.

Technically, “fuck” appeared two times before this. In 1500, it was used in a satirical poem to describe some friars. In that case, nothing like “fuck” was actually written out. Instead, the word was hidden in a code. And in 1513, it appeared in a Scottish poem as “fukkit.”

Here's the first recorded instance of the F-word in English

But for English’s first use, we’ve got a dissatisfied 1528 monk. He’s written “O D fuckin abbot.” Melissa Mohr, author of Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing, says this “fuck” could be either literal or metaphorical:

a35537fa19bb5c218d174c664d71b9a6It is difficult to know whether the annotator intended “fucking” to mean “having sex,” as in “that guy is doing too much fucking for someone who is supposed to be celibate,” or whether he used it as an intensifier, to convey his extreme dismay; if the latter, it anticipates the first recorded use by more than three hundred years. Either is possible, really—John Burton, the abbot in question, was a man of questionable monastic morals.

So, either this monk was recording his abbot’s sex life or he was the first person to be so angry that only “fuck” could convey it’s scope.

Did you all see the big joint news out of New York and Italy?  I’ve got a few articles on this mass arrest from both Italian and US sources:

1cdfa6e0951abf54ce7b61e71e1a944dNdrangheta ‘snatching U.S. Cosa Nostra drug trade’ – GazzettaDelSud

Calabria’s ‘Ndrangheta mafia, once a poor relation of the Sicilian Mafia, has grown in heft and reach thanks to its dominance of the European cocaine trade and is even muscling in on the drug operations of one of Cosa Nostra’s historic five families in New York, investigators said after a major Italian-FBI bust Tuesday. “This was an important operation because we proved that the power of the ‘Ndrangheta now far surpasses that of Cosa Nostra”, Reggio Calabria prosecutor Nicola Gratteri told ANSA from New York after 26 arrests in a probe into a new drug route from Guyana to Europe via the ‘Ndrangheta-infiltrated Calabrian port of Gioia Tauro.

According to the Gazzetta Del Sud, this ‘Ndrangheta Mafia even used Mexican cartels in a joint venture in their set-up to traffic cocaine.

32d48f11ed5ab3975b8c39d2b2614db6As for the US side of the take down: Arrests in New York and Italy Thwart Mob Drug Scheme, Authorities Say – NYTimes.com

“They put a hundred grams, two hundred grams in each fish” and “it takes a day to defrost and then it takes a day to take out,” Franco Lupoi said, according to prosecutors who say the conversation was recorded by investigators.

On Tuesday, federal authorities announced the arrests of Mr. Lupoi, the owner of a Brooklyn bakery, and six other people in New York on charges that included narcotics trafficking and money laundering and that were the culmination of a two-year undercover F.B.I. investigation. In Italy, the police announced the arrests of 17 people in connection with the investigation.

8e67a16549cf6808c98b6d9a565c7a8bWhat made the case remarkable were not the charges but the defendants’ links to the ’Ndrangheta, the organized crime group based in Calabria that is notorious for kidnappings and for its success importing cocaine into Europe.

More from the LA Times: Italian-U.S. Mafia drug trafficking ring busted, FBI and police say

The FBI and Italian police said they had broken up a global heroin and cocaine trafficking ring Tuesday after stumbling upon a fledgling alliance between a Calabrian Mafia group and associates of New York’s notorious

Twenty-four arrests were made in Italy and the United States after a two-year operation that relied on both wiretaps and an American undercover agent named by investigators as “Jimmy,” who is said to have infiltrated the Gambinos and fooled Italians into believing he was a heroin dealer. Seventeen of the arrests were made in Italy and seven in the United States.

8c0b6ff431fc394939ef5694f77cf6c4Those arrested in the U.S. were arraigned before a federal magistrate in Brooklyn. The men, some of them suspected of being members of the Gambino and Bonanno “families,” were listed as using various street aliases such as “Lello,” “Freddy,” and “Charlie Pepsi.”

I am sure more information will be coming forward, but…

The coordinated sting halted the planned shipment of more than a ton of cocaine from Latin America to Italy in liquid form, smuggled with help from Mexican cartels in coconut and pineapple cans, law enforcement officials said. They put the street value at $1 billion.

One more link…on the additional discovery of ‘Ndrangheta connections with the Far East heroin trade: Gambino, Bonanno family members held in joint US-Italy anti-mafia raid – CNN.com

Raffaele Grassi, head of the Criminal Unit of the Italian State Police, told reporters that the operation demonstrated 8729a9e910772d09d68639720e66b252that the “‘Ndrangheta is one of the strongest organizations in the world in illegal drug trade.”

He cited its sophisticated network of contacts and its ability to adapt and find new markets, including “expanding beyond Italian borders.”

Grassi said that historically, the Gambino family had had ties with the Sicilian Mafia, Cosa Nostra. But their involvement in the illegal traffic of heroin, known as the “Pizza Connection,” was dismantled or severely curtailed in the 1980s, he said, and they are now trading mainly cocaine.

36ffef735f803acdb7b518b6a6be3800The latest operation, according to Grassi and FBI officials, shows that the mafia families of the “new continent” are still seeking and relying on “old country” connections — which is why investigators dubbed the operation “New Bridge.”

According to Grassi, the Italian-American mafia families “need this new bridge to connect and support the traffic of cocaine.”

While the existence of a connection between the Calabrian mafia and U.S. mafia families has been well known, Tuesday’s operation shows its great strength and reach, investigators said.

One of the more alarming discoveries to emerge from the operation was evidence that ‘Ndrangheta has also reached out to the Far East in the heroin trade, another investigator said.

While on the subject of the Mafia, 10 Real-Life Inspirations For Characters In The Godfather – Listverse

It’s one of the immutable laws of nature: You’re channel surfing, and there, between some cooking show and an infomercial, you come upon The Godfather. Even though you own the deluxe Blu-Ray DVD box set with three weeks’ worth of special features, you are glued to that station until the credits roll. And if it’s the first in a Godfather marathon, your day is shot. f3f4d36dad5c94c3549ef3e8bd4f06b6You’re not moving, except to warm up some frozen lasagna between Godfather 2 and Godfather 3.

The Godfather is a classic of American cinema, and Godfather Part 2 is considered by some an even better movie. This story of the patriarch of a New York crime family, and his son who takes over the “family business,” is largely based on Mario Puzo’s novel of the same name, with director Francis Ford Coppola and Puzo producing new material for the films.

Puzo based many of the characters on the real underworld players he heard about growing up and working in New York City.

That thing about getting stuck watching the trilogy on TV, it is so true…it just happened to my mom and me last week, and it was on one of those channels with the commercials.e75c78c0ba7781f147ec6225ad95e9cb (So you know how annoying that can be, and how “glued” we were to stick it out for the three full movies.)

In wrapping this post up, I will end with this tune…a perfect finale to a mob focused post. I know that I have used this song before, but what can I say…

If you gonna be a square
You ain’t a gonna go nowhere
Hey mambo! mambo italiano!
Hey mambo! mambo italiano!

Rosemary Clooney – Mambo Italiano Lyrics

Have a wonderful day, and if you are in the storm’s wake, please stay safe and warm.

And be sure to share with us, what is on your reading list today?


Wednesday Reads: New Year 2014

477fb761096e907d8ce9b32bc4540dc4Good Morning

Ah, another damn year has gone by, 2014 has to be a hellalot better than 2013, it has to be!

If you missed New Years Worldwide, there are plenty of pictures here:

Photos: Bringing in 2014 – CNN.com

Now for a few links, did you see the latest on the booze front:  Moderate alcohol consumption ‘boosts immune system’

The study researchers, led by Ilhem Messaoudi of the School of Medicine at the University of California, Riverside, say their research may help lead to a better understanding of how the immune system works, and how to improve its ability to respond to vaccines and infections.

To reach their findings, the researchers trained 12 monkeys (rhesus macaques) to consume alcohol freely.

That has to be a beginning of a joke, at the very least.

Prior to this, the monkeys were vaccinated against smallpox. One group of the monkeys was then allowed access to either 4% alcohol, while the other group had access to sugar water. All monkeys also had access to normal water and food.

The monkeys were then monitored for a 14-month period and were vaccinated again 7 months into the experiment.

9ab8c288922fd7d4c833c67007bcbe5fDuring this time, the investigators found that the monkeys’ voluntary alcohol intake varied, just as it does in humans. This led the investigators to divide them into two groups.

You had some monkeys that were “heavy drinkers” and some that were “moderate drinkers.” (I really can’t help but get images of those little monkeys dressed up like little people, and acting like the comical drunk in silent movies.)

Anyway, the study showed:

The monkeys classed as heavy drinkers showed diminished responses to the vaccine, compared with the monkeys that consumed sugar water. But the investigators were surprised to find that the monkeys deemed as moderate drinkers demonstrated an enhanced vaccine response.

Not sure if 12 monkeys is enough of a group of “individuals” to quantify the experiment…but my husband is a “heavy drinker” and he never gets sick. According to him, it is because of his alcohol and tobacco use that colds and disease do not take hold in his body…maybe he is on to something?

d939c7a32cdf8cd9113643e629cd9932And since we are on the topic of experiments on animals: Animal-Rights Activists Bully Dying Italian Girl – The Daily Beast

When 25-year-old veterinary student Caterina Simonsen posted an update on a Facebook page supporting the use of animals in medical research before Christmas, she was trying to say how lucky she felt to be alive.  The Padua native suffers from four rare genetic pulmonary diseases that require her to use breathing tubes and experimental medication to thin the mucus in her lungs in order to breathe.  Her extreme illness makes her quickly immune to treatments, and, as a result, she has been a human guinea pig in a host of medical trials as doctors search for ways to help her live longer.  At 18, her doctors told her she couldn’t be cured, but this year, she had survived another birthday and simply wanted to say thanks.  “I am 25 thanks to genuine research that includes experiments on animals.  Without research, I would have been dead at nine. You have gifted me a future.”

Simonsen’s comments, on the heels of a hotly contested national telethon in Italy soliciting money for medical research, triggered a flurry of hate comments from animal-rights extremists.  “You could die tomorrow, I wouldn’t sacrifice my goldfish for you,” a poster named Giovanna wrote on the Facebook page “A Favore Della Sperimentazione Animale” (In Favor of Animal Experimentation). Another wrote, “If you had died as a child, no one would have given a damn.”  In all, Simonsen received 30 death threats and 500 cruel insults, which are being investigated by local police.

You should see what some of the people wrote to this woman, hateful disgusting stuff. But it may be that some of those asshole may get their wish because Giovanna is in the hospital again with a lung infection that the doctors say is stress induced, read more at the link.

I hate to start the new year with a shit news filled post…so I will just post the rest of the depressing links in dump format:

Iowa voter fraud investigation possibly financed by misused funds | WQAD.com

255b4578507d0045ac0f22f9144f00a7Iowa’s Secretary of State has been warned by the State Auditor’s Office that funds used for a voter fraud investigation may need to be repaid.

According to a report by the Des Moines Register, in July of 2012 Iowa’s Secretary of State Matt Schultz launched an investigation with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) to look into cases of alleged voter fraud.

Schultz reportedly used Help America Vote Act funds for the investigation, which may have violated how the HAVA funds are supposed to be used.

Can you hear the laughter from my house? All that money to catch 5 people(or some ridiculously low number like that…), three of which turned themselves in…only to find out that the money they used was “misused funds” from their “Help America Vote Act” funds.

In other crime news: Can hidden information in photographs be used to spot criminals? – latimes.com

Pupil images

A new study concludes that people are very good at recognizing the faces of familiar people reflected in the pupils of portrait subjects. (Courtesy of Rob Jenkins, Christie Kerr, PLOS One / December 26, 2013)

Wow.

ca863546d5fd02a5075b6d33d76e3d73Gunman went bowling before Arapahoe High School shooting, police say – That is an update on the shooting in Colorado.

When the Mentally Ill Own Guns – An op/ed from the New York Times.

Reverse Nazi salute, all the rage in Europe, is now coming to America -This is scary…go to the link to see the pictures.

We need to talk about TED | Benjamin Bratton -An op/ed on those TED Talks…

In our culture, talking about the future is sometimes a polite way of saying things about the present that would otherwise be rude or risky.

But have you ever wondered why so little of the future promised in TED talks actually happens? So much potential and enthusiasm, and so little actual change. Are the ideas wrong? Or is the idea about what ideas can do all by themselves wrong?

Of course I have to bring you something medieval for new years…what about a medieval baby, in the making? Bet some GOP folks would believe it works this way…

British Library, Harley 4425, f. 140 ‘Nature forging a baby’. Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meun, Roman de la Rose. Bruges, c.1490-c.1500.

British Library, Harley 4425, f. 140 ‘Nature forging a baby’. Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meun, Roman de la Rose. Bruges, c.1490-c.1500.

Another medieval history link on Iceland: Beauty and brutality: Iceland’s literary landscapes

Yup, that is drawn by Dr.

Yup, that is drawn by Dr.Seuss

And one on Germany: Cheating and Cheaters in German Romance and Epic, 1180 – 1225

A picture of “What If?” here in America: The 124 states of America

What would the U.S. look like if all of the secession movements in U.S. history had succeeded?  Well, Mansfield University geography professor Andrew Shears built a map to answer that question. (It covers secession movements through the end of 2011.)  His 124 states of America is below. Click the map to enlarge it.

Map courtesy of Andrew Shears

Map courtesy of Andrew Shears

It is missing some of the more recent movements out in Colorado…California…Idaho…Texas, etc.

Hey…for you Movie Buffs…Critics Poll: What Was the Worst Movie of 2013? — Vulture

5d1a5b81e8061518cde8818e889c8778A year in movies is often split between stunning works of art and jaw-droppingly awful films. For example: 12 Years a Slave hit theaters on the same day as Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s wait-this-actually-happened? team-up Escape Plan. So as Vulture celebrates the finest films of 2013 (you can see critic David Edelstein’s top ten here), so must we celebrate the worst. Welcome to the seventh edition of our annual worst-movies roundup, as voted on by critics, where soon-to-be-forgotten misfires earn a last turn in the spotlight.

This year, Vulture polled film critics on the year’s most torturous moviegoing experiences (some publications submitted collective ballots). Those responses, combined with a number of notable worst-of lists published elsewhere, added up to 42 lists, which were tallied to produce the final ranking of the ten worst films of 2013. It was a tight race, with critically maligned mainstream disasters (Gangster Squad, R.I.P.D.,The Hangover Part III) rubbing shoulders with polarizing auteurist efforts (Paul Schrader’s The Canyons, Terrence Malick’s To the Wonder) just outside the bottom tier. Below, see the official ten worst of the worst for 2013, then peruse all of the individual critic ballots.

Fortunately I did not see any of the shit on that list. Did you?

Which brings me to another list for you this morning: The Year’s Very Worst Words Are So “Problematic”

Language is wonderful and language is alive, but language is also a form of psychological assault—especially when everybody suddenly starts using awful new terms and phrases just because everyone else is doing it, on Twitter. We are not so naive as to think we can “ban” this or that word, because “ban” is one of the words we would ban, if words could be banned. They cannot. 19c31e52520d40bf09ad247ae96b4fd0Thanks to 2013, we’re stuck with this bunch of linguistic garbage.

[…]

bless your heart
Antiquated southernism for “fuck you,” often heard in open-plan offices where people are uncomfortable saying “fuck you.”

Yeah…that is one that is getting too much play from those northerners if you ask me…just leave it to the southern fuckwads, and just say it like it is.

just sayin’
Shorthand for “I have completed my bigoted statement.” See also: #sorrynotsorry.

Actually, one word I am fucking tired of is DUCK…funny that it does rhyme with FUCK?

Alright, that is it for the link “dump.” And…now we will end with a story about what kind of things gets “dropped” for the New Year:  Pickles, Possums, Peeps: The Things We Drop to Ring in the New Year

Why do we celebrate the New Year … by dropping things?

It started with ships. Maritime vessels, back before they could turn to more precise forms of time measurement, relied on “time balls”: spheres that were dropped from masts and other shipboard poles at precise intervals to help insure that their chronometers were aligned with Greenwich Mean Time. In 1906, those time balls lent themselves to another kind of time: Times Square. New York City had just banned fireworks displays, and Adolph Ochs, the owner of The New York Times, wanted to give the throngs of people who would gather around his building another kind of show.

The Times Square ball drops to ring in 2013. (Countdown Entertainment via NYCGo)

Ochs, as the Los Angeles Times reports, called on the paper’s chief electrician, Walter Palmer, to come up with another source of the spectacular. Palmer borrowed the maritime tradition and combined it with something that would work on land: electricity. And the Times Square Ball Drop was born.

Since then, the “dropping things” tradition has been modified by cities across the country, in ways both wondrous and weird. Plenty, still, drop their own balls—smaller versions of New York City’s. Many others, however, drop food (cheese, fruit, Peeps). Some drop animals (cows, fish, possums, goats). One (Seaside Heights, New Jersey) has dropped a person.

Below, re-categorized from Wikipedia’s amazingly extensive, state-by-state list, are some of the objects that people have chosen to ring in the New Year. They reflect regional pride, municipal quirk, economic diversity … and the rich weirdness that makes America what it is. Happy New Year, everyone.

I think I will now drop my fat ass into bed, since I am writing this post at 3:14 in the morning on January 1, 2014!

0141cab216b4d6e68ef4ee0c4982abc1

Happy New Year’s Day Y’all…

And, Bless Your Hearts….hee-hee.


Thursday Reads: Republicans and the Shutdown, Refugee Boat Disaster, The Dark Web, and Snowden

woman reading.matisse

Good Morning!!

The government shutdown continues, and as Dakinikat wrote yesterday, no one seems to know how long this deadlock between extremist House Republicans (along with their chief hostage Speaker John Boehner) and the rest of Congress–Republicans and Democrats–will continue. It’s depressing as hell, and it’s really difficult to figure out what Republicans think they’re going to gain by it.

Just a few links:

CBS News — Poll: Americans not happy about shutdown; more blame GOP.

On day three of the partial government shutdown, a new CBS News poll reveals that a large majority of Americans disapprove of the shutdown and more are blaming Republicans than President Obama and the Democrats for it.

Fully 72 percent of Americans disapprove of shutting down the federal government over differences on the Affordable Care Act; just 25 percent approve of this action. Republicans are divided: 48 percent approve, while 49 percent disapprove. Most tea party supporters approve of the government shutdown – 57 percent of them do. Disapproval of the shutdown is high among Democrats and independents. This CBS News poll was conducted after the partial government shutdown began on October 1.

Views of the Affordable Care Act are related to views of the shutdown. Those who like the health care law also overwhelmingly disapprove of shutting down the government. There is more support for the shutdown among Americans who don’t like the 2010 health care law. Thirty-eight percent of them approve of the shutdown but even more, 59 percent, disapprove.

Republicans in Congress receive more of the blame for the shutdown: 44 percent of Americans blame them, while 35 percent put more blame on President Obama and the Democrats in Congress. These views are virtually the same as they were last week before the shutdown, when Americans were asked who they would blame if a shutdown occurred.

Bloomberg Businessweek: Republicans Are No Longer the Party of Business.

T.J. Gentle, chief executive officer of Smart Furniture, an online custom furniture maker in Chattanooga, employs 250 people, has seen sales grow 25 percent this year, and was planning another round of hiring—until Republican hard-liners forced the federal government to close on Oct. 1. Gentle is the embodiment of moderate, business-minded pragmatism: He voted for President Obama and Tennessee’s Republican Senator Bob Corker, splits his donations between the parties, and prefers divided government as a check on partisan excess. Like his plan to hire more workers, this too may change as a result of the shutdown. “It’s as if House Republicans are playing suicide bomber with the U.S. economy,” he says. “As a businessman, it defies all reason and logic.”

Smart Furniture and countless other businesses are already feeling the impact of the shutdown. The Federal Housing Administration, which backed one-third of all mortgages last year, has furloughed employees, a move that will slow loan approvals and house purchases. “That directly affects the construction and materials industries,” Gentle says, “but it also affects us, since the purchase of a new home is the No. 1 trigger for buying furniture.”

Larger businesses, which often tilt more heavily toward the GOP, are no less frustrated. It’s hard to find any organization more closely affiliated with the Republican Party than the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. In 2012 the business trade group spent $35,657,029 on federal elections, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Of that, $305,044 was spent on behalf of Democratic candidates. Last year the Chamber went further to help Republicans than it ever had by running ads directly against candidates: It spent $27,912,717 against Democrats and only $346,298 against Republicans.

Geeze, if business isn’t happy with the GOP, who do they have left in their corner? The religious right and the Tea Party, I guess–and those groups likely have a lot of crossover. Is that enough for to support a national party?

CNN: Government shutdown: GOP moderates huddle as conservatives set agenda

A small but growing group of House Republicans is increasingly worried about the fallout from the government shutdown and say it’s time for Speaker John Boehner to allow a simple vote on a spending bill.

Defunding Obamacare can wait for now, they say.

“I’m trying to be optimistic but at the same time I have a really, really tough time when people are out of work and they can’t pay their bills,” Rep. Michael Grimm of New York told reporters Wednesday. “Though it might be a political loss for us … this is an untenable situation.”

Rep. Scott Rigell, whose Virginia district is home to a significant number of military members and civilian contractors, was one of the first to publicly break away.

“We fought the good fight,” he said in a tweet on Tuesday, but acknowledged it was time to move on.

Boehner hosted small groups of concerned members on Wednesday. A spokesman for Boehner declined to talk about the sessions.

How can Boehner get away with letting just 30% of his caucus run roughshod over the entire House? Think Progress may have the answer: How John Boehner Engineered An Ohio Gerrymander To Save His Speakership.

During the last redistricting cycle, then-Ohio state Senate President Tom Niehaus (R) pledged to deliver a redrawn map of Ohio’s congressional districts “that Speaker Boehner fully supports.” Indeed, at the height of the map drawing process, Boehner’s political aide Tom Whatman averaged a request a day to Ohio’s mapmakers — often micromanaging the slightest geographic changes in the district lines. In one case, for example, the line-drawers added a peninsula with no residents at all to Rep. Jim Renacci’s (R-OH) district because the peninsula included the headquarters of a company whose leaders donated generously to Renacci.

A full election cycle later, Team Boehner’s micromanagement paid off. President Obama won the state of Ohio by nearly two points in 2012, but 12 members of Ohio’s 16 member Congressional delegation are Republicans. In the nation as a whole, nearly 1.4 million more Americans voted for Democratic House candidates than Republicans.

The districts Boehner helped draw in Ohio played into a much larger Republican Party strategy to secure the House by rigging the legislative maps. Indeed, last January, the Republican State Leadership Committee released a report entitled “How a Strategy of Targeting State Legislative Races in 2010 Led to a Republican U.S. House Majority in 2013.” The report bragged that gerrymandering “paved the way to Republicans retaining a U.S. House majority in 2012.”

And, as TP notes, this strategy was replicated and a number of other states.

In other news . . . 

This story is just breaking . . . From CNN: Scores dead after boat sinks of Italian island of Lampedusa.

At least 94 people, including a pregnant woman and two children, died when a boat capsized and caught fire off the island of Lampedusa, the Italian coast guard told CNN on Thursday.

The coast guard has been able to save at least 151 people, and the rescue operation is ongoing.

The boat is thought to have been carrying up to 500 people. Those aboard include Somalis, Eritreans and Ghanaians, the coast guard said, and the boat is thought to have launched from Libya’s coast.

Lampedusa, the closest Italian island to Africa, has become a destination for tens of thousands of refugees seeking to enter European Union countries.

The head of the U.N. refugee agency, Antonio Guterres, praised the efforts of the Italian coast guard but said he was “dismayed at the rising global phenomenon of migrants and people fleeing conflict or persecution and perishing at sea.”

Some context on this story, also from CNN, a June 2011 story about one of Lampedusa’s boat people.

Yesterday the FBI shut down a website called Silk Road that has been used for massive amounts of criminal activity. From Fox News: Feds shut down $1.2 billion criminal internet marketplace.

Federal authorities have shut down what they called the “most sophisticated and extensive criminal marketplace on the Internet today,” an underground operation responsible for distributing illegal drugs and other black market goods and services.

The site’s alleged owner, Ross William Ulbricht, was arrested and $3.6 million in anonymous digital currency known as Bitcoins was seized. The site, which did about $1.2 billion in sales, was taken over by federal authorities, according to court documents unsealed Wednesday in the Southern District of New York.

Ulbricht was alleged to operate a website responsible for distributing hundreds of kilograms of illegal drugs and other illicit goods and services, including fake IDs and computer hacking-related services. He was indicted on charges of  drug conspiracy, computer intrusion offensives conspiracy, and money laundering conspiracy.

Ulbricht, 29, used the aliases “Dread Pirate Roberts,”  “DPR,” and “Silk Road” while operating the site, authorities said.

From BBC News, Silk Road: How FBI closed in on suspect Ross Ulbricht.

It was an underground website where people from all over the world were able to buy drugs.

In the months leading up to Mr Ulbricht’s arrest, investigators undertook a painstaking process of piecing together the suspect’s digital footprint, going back years into his history of communicating with others online….

The search started with work from Agent-1, the codename given to the expert cited in the court documents, who undertook an “extensive search of the internet” that sifted through pages dating back to January 2011.

The trail began with a post made on a web forum where users discussed the use of magic mushrooms.

In a post titled “Anonymous market online?”, a user nicknamed Altoid started publicising the site.

“I came across this website called Silk Road,” Altoid wrote. “Let me know what you think.”

The post contained a link to a site hosted by the popular blogging platform WordPress. This provided another link to the Silk Road’s location on the so-called “dark web”.

Read the whole story at the link.

From Andy Greenberg at Forbes: Feds Allege Silk Road’s Boss Paid For Murders Of Both A Witness And A Blackmailer.

When I interviewed the Dread Pirate Roberts, the persona behind the anonymous black market drug website known as Silk Road, he described his narcotics bazaar as a victimless libertarian experiment. But criminal complaints against Ross William Ulbricht, the 29-year-old entrepreneur who allegedly wore that pirate’s mask, now claim that he was also willing to leave a few bodies in his wake.

In two separate sets of charges released Wednesday following the seizure of the Silk Road’s domain and servers, federal prosecutors accused Ulbricht of not only conspiracies to sell drugs and launder money, but also of paying hitmen for the murder of two individuals, one who is described as attempting to blackmail Ulbricht after hacking a Silk Road vendor and learning the identities of thousands of the site’s users, and another employee of the Silk Road who Ulbricht allegedly feared might reveal him to law enforcement.

“DPR’s communications reveal that he has taken it upon himself to police threats to the site from scammers and extortionists,” reads an affidavit from FBI agent Christopher Tarbell, “and has demonstrated a willingness to use violence in doing so.”

In the one of the two cases, filed in a Maryland district court, a criminal complaint against Ulbrichtdescribes how an undercover agent gained Ulbricht’s trust after communicating with him through the Dread Pirate Roberts account Ulbricht is thought to have used and conducting a $27,000 cocaine deal through the Silk Road. The agent later allegedly received a message from the Dread Pirate Roberts asking if he’d be willing to arrange the beating of a Silk Road employee who Roberts said had scammed users of the site and taken their bitcoins, the cryptographic currency used on Silk Road.

Read much more at the link.

Just a side note on the Silk Road story: the “dark web” makes use of the encryption methods recommended by Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald. This is the “other side” of the fight for “privacy rights.”

Here are a couple more Snowden/Greenwald news stories I came across.

From The Verge: Snowden’s email provider Lavabit fought government surveillance with ultra-tiny font.

Earlier this summer, a few weeks after former NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s leaked documents on the agency’s surveillance practices were published, the encrypted email service provider he used, called Lavabit, shut itself down. At that time, Lavabit’s founder Ladar Levison said he was shuttering his website to avoid “becom[ing] complicit in crimes against the American people,” which many took to mean he was resisting further surveillance demands by the US government. It turns out we didn’t know the half of it: new court documents unsealed today in the US District Court for Virginia’s Eastern District, obtained by Wired, reveal that Levison fought the US government tooth-and-nail to avoid handing over the encryption keys that would allow government agents to read his customers’ emails.

In the harrowing saga recounted in the newly unsealed documents, it turns out the government obtained a search warrant in July and demanded Lavabit hand over the encryption and secure-socket layer (SSL) keys to its system. The government was pursuing the emails sent by a single target, whose name has been redacted, but as Wired points out, it’s highly likely that user was Snowden himself.

From the Baltimore Sun: Hopkins professor rejects invitation to review NSA documents leaked by Snowden

A Johns Hopkins University cryptography professor — who gained media attention when university officials told him to take down a blog post he wrote about National Security Agency documents leaked by Edward Snowden — says he declined an invitation this week to join journalists and others reviewing the classified NSA documents.

“The truth is, I don’t really know what to say,” said Matthew D. Green, who received the invitation from Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald via Twitter on Thursday.

“It was a very generous offer,” Green said. “I think somebody should be down there and they need more expertise to go through those documents, [but] I’m not sure I want it to be me.”

Greenwald, who received the documents from Snowden and has led global reporting on them, invited Green to his home in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to “work journalistically” on the documents, specifically as they pertain to the NSA’s alleged circumvention of online encryption tools.

The invitation gave a boost to Green’s rising prominence in the debate over NSA spying methods. Johns Hopkins administrators this month briefly asked him to remove from universityservers a blog post he had written about coverage of the Snowden documents.

This post has gotten way too long, so I’ll put the rest of my links in the discussion thread below. Now what stories are you following today? Please post your links in the comments.


Sunday Reads: Dark and Darkness

Morning All

Since Peej has the Happiness front covered, I will take care of the down and out blues department….

▶ Ruth Brown, If I can’t sell it, I’ll sit on it

Yeah, it’s one hell of a blues song…but it sure is a sad song too…and I mean what else can you say about being  so down and out and blue you need to turn to prostitution? The Blues…You know that also includes the dark, depressing and disturbing stuff too.

efd9c61ad9d32ab289a9d73bb0f8107bSo this post will focus on dark things…

Starting with this little update on the rodeo clown that caused Fox News, Glenn Beck and Hannity to have a conniption, not because of the disgusting racist “mockery” displayed at a state funded event…but because rodeo clowns always make fun of sitting presidents. Cough, cough. Tommy Christopher has this to say: You Would Not Believe How Common Rodeo Clown Mockery of Presidents Is

For days, conservatives in the media have been calling out Republicans in Missouri for denouncing a rodeo clown’s performance at the Missouri State Fair, although they keep referring to those Republicans as “liberals,” for some reason. However, conservative media watchdog Newsbusters has now swooped in with a welcome dose of cold, hard truthiness to let the Republicans, Democrats, and other decent people who were offended by the rodeo’s mockery of President Obama, know that this exact thing happens all the time! In fact, you wouldn’t believe how often!

Guess you can see where this is going:bc3d3f14d47162664d48d9db8a1cacf3

Despite conservative media attempts to frame reaction to this incident as liberal over-sensitivity, the performance drew immediate, harsh rebukes from Republicans and Democrats in Missouri, and resulted in a lifetime ban for the rodeo clown.

NewsbustersNoel Sheppard, however, wants to make sure that the mainstream media reports that “these things aren’t that unusual at such events,” and he’s got ironclad proof that sitting presidents are mocked by rodeo clowns at publicly-sponsored events all the time:

Maybe these folks should report that these things aren’t that unusual at such events, and that in 1994, a bull attacked a dummy wearing a George H.W. Bush mask without the world coming to an end, anybody being fired, or any press outrage.

1994? I guess that counts as frequent if you’re a cicada. Sheppard cites this passage from a 1994 Philadelphia Inquirer piece:

The big white gate flew open. The bull came out bucking. The rider flopped from side to side and the bullfighters held back, letting the bull make his moves until the rider dropped off. Licciardello crouched in a heavily padded barrel, a human target should the bull decide to charge. Hawkins waited near the barrel, holding his big inner tube. A dummy with a George Bush mask stood beside the clown, propped up by a broomstick. […]

T.J. Hawkins rolled out the big inner tube, and the bull lowered his head, shot forward and launched into the tube, sending it bounding down the center of the arena. The crowd cheered. Then the bull saw the George Bush dummy. He tore into it, sending the rubber mask flying halfway across the sand as he turned toward the fence, sending cowboys scrambling up the fence rails, hooking one with his horn and tossing him off the fence.

Okay, fine, it wasn’t a sitting president, it was 20 years ago, and it wasn’t even a rodeo clown wearing a mask, but still, why was there no media outrage at this taxpayer-funded effigy eff-up? Well, it turns out the Philly Inquirer was doing a feature on Jimmy Lee Walker, and the Bush bit was just a bit of color thrown in to give readers a Proustian grasp of New Jersey’s Cowtown Rodeo, which is not a state fair, is not funded by tax dollars, and happens every week… in New Jersey. It’s like asking why ESPN is ignoring the prevalence of steroids in Wiffle Ball.

More stories from the dark side: The Inevitable Darth Vader/Breaking Bad Mashup Has Arrived and It Is Glorious

He was responsible for the Death Star. Two of them bitches.

empire business

Sure, as Heisenberg, Walter White strikes fear into the hearts of drug dealers everywhere. But take away the black headgear and he’s really just a sad old white dude with a bald head and a lung problem.

[…]

…illustrator PJ McQuade, who calls the above work “Darth Heisenberg.” That’s got a real nice ring to it, actually. And he’s not wrong — White is definitely in the empire business for sure. Though I’m kind of hoping that Walt doesn’t get a redemptive moment at the end of his story like Darth Vader did. Die in a million fires, Mr. White.

Hey, that is the Dark Side of The Force, no question about that. What about a Dark Religion? Or what some of the geezus freaks would have you believe was the deep dark devil side….

0ba83e4bbab1011f9d8a5ac124458606Well, here is an update on Georgia placing Bibles in the State Parks. You remember the deal Gov. Deal made a few months ago? That he would allow other religious material to be placed in the cabins located on state park property. Atheist books delivered to Georgia state park

Ed Buckner, a former president of American Atheists Inc., said he brought two atheist books for each cottage at Red Top Mountain State Park in Cartersville. The Cranford, N.J.-based organization had said it would supply atheist texts for lodging in Georgia state parks after the governor said in May any religious group could donate literature.

Bibles were temporarily removed earlier this year after Buckner complained about finding them in a cabin he rented at Amicalola Falls State Park. They were returned after the state attorney general said the books were permissible since the state hadn’t paid for them. In May, Gov. Nathan Deal ordered the Bibles returned to state park cabins and said any religious group could donate books.

“American Atheists does not believe the state of Georgia should be placing Bibles or atheist books in state park cabins; however, if the state is going to allow such distribution, we will happily provide our materials,” group president David Silverman said in a statement.

Buckner said Wednesday he was told by officials at Red Top Mountain State Park that the books he dropped off “The Skeptics Annotated Bible” by Steve Wells and “Fear, Faith, Fact, Fantasy” by Dr. John A. Henderson wouldn’t be immediately put in cottages at Red Top Mountain because the manager would have to make sure they complied with regulations.

Let’s see if those books really get to live next to the bibles in the cabin’s bedside table’s drawers…place your bets.

Okay, move on to the blackness and darkness of the criminal mind? The Killer Mind?  Criminologists identify family killer characteristics

Men who kill their families can be separated into four distinct types.

British criminologists have made the assessment after studying newspaper records of “family annihilator” events over the period from 1980 to 2012.

A family break-up was the most common trigger, followed by financial difficulties and honour killings.

Writing in the Howard Journal of Criminal Justice, the team lists the four types as self-righteous, anomic, disappointed, and paranoid.

Each category has slightly different motivations and many cases also have a hidden history of domestic abuse. In four out of five cases the murderers went on to kill themselves or attempted to do so.

The research revealed the most frequent month for the crime was in August, when fathers were likely to be with their children more often because of school holidays.

4291bd843aea58d0f6193eb5c2c68c29Four types, ready?

  • Self-righteous: Killer seeks to locate blame for his crimes upon the mother who he holds responsible for the breakdown of the family. For these men, their breadwinner status is central to their idea of the ideal family. (case study: Brian Philcox)
  • Anomic: The family has become firmly linked to the economy in the mind of the killer. The father sees his family as the result of his economic success, allowing him to display his achievements. However, if the father becomes an economic failure, he sees the family as no longer serving this function. (case study: Chris Foster)
  • Disappointed: This killer believes his family has let him down or has acted in ways to undermine or destroy his vision of ideal family life. An example may be disappointment that children are not following the traditional religious or cultural customs of the father. (case study: Mohammed Riaz)
  • Paranoid: Those who perceive an external threat to the family. This is often social services or the legal system, which the father fears will side against him and take away the children. Here, the murder is motivated by a twisted desire to protect the family. (case study: Graham Anderson)

Be sure to read the whole article and then go back to read the case studies.

Have y’all seen the guest writer over at Charles Pierce? Esquire Civil War Reenactment: Robert E. Lee and What an Oath Means – Lt. Col. Robert Bateman

Take a look at his latest post and then check out the others he has written: Daily Politics Blog – Posts By Lt. Col. Robert Bateman – Charles P. Pierce – Political Blogging – Esquire

Op/Ed by Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz: Obama Suspends the Law. What Would Lincoln Say? – WSJ.com

e18337653e6ce22d6c71916736c3706dOver in England, spoons are saving the lives of young girls being sent into underage marriages: Spoon in underwear saving youths from forced marriage | The Raw Story

As Britain puts airport staff on alert to spot potential victims of forced marriage, one campaigning group says the trick of putting a spoon in their underwear has saved some youngsters from a forced union in their South Asian ancestral homelands.

The concealed spoon sets off the metal detector at the airport in Britain and the teenagers can be taken away from their parents to be searched — a last chance to escape a largely hidden practice wrecking the lives of unknown thousands of British youths.

The British school summer holidays, now well under way, mark a peak in reports of young people — typically girls aged 15 and 16 — being taken abroad on “holiday”, for a marriage without consent, the government says.

The bleep at airport security may be the last chance they get to escape a marriage to someone they have never met in a country they have never seen.

The spoon trick is the brainchild of the Karma Nirvana charity, which supports victims and survivors of forced marriage and honour-based abuse.

Based in Derby, central England, it fields 6,500 calls per year from around Britain but has almost reached that point so far in 2013 as awareness of the issue grows.

When petrified youngsters ring, “if they don’t know exactly when it may happen or if it’s going to happen, we advise them to put a spoon in their underwear,” said Natasha Rattu, Karma Nirvana’s operations manager.

“When they go though security, it will highlight this object in a private area and, if 16 or over, they will be taken to a safe space where they have that one last opportunity to disclose they’re being forced to marry,” she told AFP.

I guess that is a bright turn on a black horror story of abuse, but for something more disturbing…look at this old advertisement for Cellophane I found on Pinterest:

http://media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/8a/16/98/8a16982cdadb8b0ed3df9f71cdc5bf78.jpg

That is fucked up!

3c612aa548ebc9314c695e36a8e864bbSome dark homophobic links:

The new pro-gay agenda over at Fox News | Political Insider | www.ajc.com

Elisa Chan reveals homophobic views in secret recording – San Antonio Express-News

And another WTF story out of Texas: Texas Deputy Sues Woman for ‘Mental Anguish’ After He Kills Her Son-in-Law | Video Cafe

You want a legitimate lawsuit? Sue the stupid asshole parents who won’t vaccinate their kids! Anti-vaxxers: Why parents who don’t vaccinate their kids should be sued or criminally charged. – Slate Magazine

I got that link from a post at LG&M: Upper-Class Twits Put Your Kids At Risk

The world in which 1)Jenny McCarthy can get a highly compensated talk show gig and 2)inequality is increasing leads to some grim results:

Why is anti-vaccination sentiment associated with the economic elite? Alex Seitz-Wald examines the question in Salon, in light of an uptick in parents refusing to vaccinate their kids.* But not just any parents. As Seitz-Wald explains, the unvaccinated kids are clustered in some of the wealthiest schools and neighborhoods, particularly in California, where some extremely expensive private schools have vaccination compliance rates as low as 20 percent. Anti-vaccination sentiment has been stereotyped as a mindless lefty cause, but in reality, Republicans are slightly more likely to oppose vaccination than Democrats. The real correlation is between having a lot of money and class privilege and opposing vaccination.

And, yes, I’m a big fan of making anti-vaxxer cranks legally liable for the injuries they inflict on others, although I’d definitely favor civil rather than criminal remedies.

I don’t know, by sister-in-law is an anti-vaxxer and she is a far left-la-leches-legue-natzi…who lives in the college town around Cornell.  These crazy nuts are putting other children at risk…they should be held legally liable. And the government should do more to get these kids vaccinated…if it means fines or some kind of other actions taken against the parents/guardians.

dc69d15592b667c72a5006023c1b7d11More here:  With fewer vaccinations, is your child’s school safe? Too many parents are seeking exemption from California’s vaccination law.- latimes.com

And here: What’s with rich people hating vaccines? It’s not just Jenny McCarthy. Data shows the anti-vaccination movement spreading to places like Malibu and Boulder- Salon.com

So…since we are on the topic of diseases…How about a story of death caused by disease? ‘Typhoid Mary’ Mystery May Have Been Solved At Last, Scientists Say

And say, do you want more stories on dead people?

Medieval tomb discovered by a… badger

Was that a large wooden badger?

A badger has reportedly proved to be a talented archaeologist after helping to discover the tombs of two medieval lords in Germany.

The 12th century burial site, which has been hailed as a “significant find” contains a sword, bronze bowls, a belt buckle and skeletal remains of two Slavic lords, according to Germany’s Der Spiegel Online.

The animal had made its underground home on a farm in the town of Stolpe in the eastern state of Brandenburg.

Two sculptors who also happen to be hobby archaeologists Lars Wilhelm and Hendrikje Ring, live on the farm and had planned to exhibit their art near the badger’s sett.

The pair were made aware of the artefacts when they found a human pelvic bone that had been dug up, prompting them to place a camera into the badger’s sett. Photographs taken with the device revealed pieces of jewellery, which the two then retrieved before notifying authorities.

Commenting on the discovery, Ring told the website,“It wasn’t exactly surprising to us because a whole field of ancient graves had been found on the other side of the road in the 1960s.”

More at the link.

Another story about an ancient grave…well not really ancient, just real old: New study reveals final days of a child, 800 years ago | Human World | EarthSky

Image Credit: Sydvestjyske Museer.

The researchers examined burial soil, at spots where the child’s major organs would have been situated, to understand the child’s final days.

In medieval Denmark, a pre-teen child passed away, and was buried in the town of Ribe. Eight hundred years later, chemists have learned more about this child’s final days by analyzing soil samples in burial remains. Their research uncovered evidence that the child had been seriously ill and received a large dose of medicine in the form of mercury, in a desperate attempt to save his or her life.

Professor Kaare Lund Rasmussen, a chemist at the University of Southern Denmark, and his colleagues, reported on a novel technique to detect non-local chemical traces in ancient graves that could shed light on the final days of a long-deceased person. They published their findings about the Ribe child in the journal Heritage Science and announced the results in an August 9, 2013 press release, in which Rasmussen said:

I cannot say which diseases the child had contracted. But I can say that it was exposed to a large dose of mercury a couple of months before its death and again a day or two prior to death. You can imagine what happened: that the family for a while tried to cure the child with mercury containing medicine which may or may not have worked, but that the child’s condition suddenly worsened and that it was administered a large dose of mercury which was, however, not able to save its life.

2a6df165b7c339698a1f20679e8be6c8Scientists are able to study the earth samples around the bones at the burial site to check for chemicals used as medicine during the middle ages.

Mercury, which is rarely found naturally in soil, is of particular interest to Rasmussen. It was used in some ancient cultures for various purposes, including medicine. While it’s possible to analyze ancient bones for the presence of mercury, bones only provide evidence of exposure for three to 10 years before death.

Organs, however, hold on to mercury over shorter intervals; in the lungs, for instance, mercury is excreted quickly. Rasmussen and his team were able to determine the amounts of mercury in the soil where major organs would have been situated. In that way, they could determine how long before death, on a timescale of days, the dose had been administered.

There is more detailed explanations at the link above.

And a link on searching for dead ancestors: Digging Up Family Roots in Sicily by Russell Shorto

As a writer I’ve always tended to seek out origins. My first book, about the search for the historical Jesus, was an attempt to get at the “real” story behind my Catholic upbringing. After living in Manhattan for several years, I wrote “The Island at the Center of the World,” a book about the Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam, the seed from which New York City grew.

Recently I began considering my family. Among its manifold curiosities is our last name. People always ask me about the derivation of “Shorto.” The story I’d heard as a child was that after my illiterate Sicilian great-grandparents settled in my hometown of Johnstown, Pa., they enrolled their children in school and said the name aloud: Sciotto. And the administrator wrote it as he or she heard it.

Anecdotes like that were good enough before, but once I began to take a serious interest in my roots they felt soft. I wanted a better sense of who we were and where we had come from. I’d grown up with some of the atmosphere of the Old Country — the primal aroma of frying meatballs, the smothering embraces of old relatives, whispers of Mafia shenanigans, funny traditions like taping a silver dollar to the bellybutton of a newborn. But really it was an American childhood. There was almost no information about how it all began, about the generation that had emigrated at the start of the 20th century. It wasn’t even clear where in Sicily the family hailed from.bf5cad33aa980ea8d25acc1a862be5aa

It is better than your usually travel piece. Take a look at it.

One last link for you, about that Greek Island we talk about so often: 9 top Greek islands I’m thinking Koufonisia or Naxos….

Today I am making the spaghetti sauce with meatballs, about 10 pounds of meatballs and a whole bunch of sauce too, so I will be very busy most of the afternoon.  Anyway…one last dark image before I go.

I will end this with a picture of Mae West dressed as a bat…found this image on Pinterest.

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What a dame!

Have a dark day, full of darkness! Post a comment if you have the inclination to do so…I think I need a vacation. See y’all later, Ciao!


Open Thread: Genuine Globalization: Wazia Dunia, Bats at St. Fagan’s, Hay-on-Wye, and Mother of God Loses a Pinky

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Peculiar news from faraway environs cheers my soul. In part, I like “every-now-and-again” updates from places I’ve been; in part because it keeps my vision of globalization alive.

My idea of globalization is one where individuals rather than corporations interact, where individuals move freely about the globe doing whatever it is that people do for enhancing quality and meaning in their lives.

I think this is imperative for the development of the mind. Nothing broadens the mind more than removing oneself from one’s own culture. In my view, doing so is one critical step in the development of empathy – the ability to view others (and what others value) from their own perspectives. In other words, to understand people as they understand themselves.

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t value this idea, long before the term globalization pertaining to “free market” economics began seeping into our national vocabulary. I have a love-hate relationship with this term because for starters, I do not adhere to the economic rationale behind it. I find globalization as it has evolved more harmful than not to every corner of the world. Moreover, globalization divides people more than it unites which is antithetical to my own personal definition of globalization.

When I encounter discussions of globalization, a tiny bit of hope lodged somewhere in my being surfaces, spurred by my private vision of globalization where people engage with each other thereby dismantling walls of fear erected against those who are “different” or “foreign.” Something inside tells me globalization still means what I think it should mean, it simply hasn’t happened yet. Though in some sense, when I read about globalization I feel as if my vision of ubiquitous multicultural interaction has been pilfered. I feel robbed and hopeful both at the same time. A few “every-now-and-again” updates….

First, the Virgin Mary’s sundered digit:

American Tourist Breaks Finger Off 600-Year-Old Statue At Italian Museum By Accident (VIDEO)

Little wrenches my gut more than loss or damage to world cultural heritage. You’ll soon learn, good readers, this is a theme to which I will often return. In Florence, we have the humiliation, yet again, of an American boor unaware of how to properly conduct himself in the world. There’s a reason Americans are regarded with low esteem world wide – as arrogant “bulls in a china shop” with respect to etiquette, certainly, but here we have incomprehensible cloddery clearly manifesting itself. I cannot fathom why, if this person had legitimate purpose for measuring the statue, he did not contact the curatorial staff and simply inquire, “Hey. What’s the length of the Virgin’s pinky finger?” These are the moments I shake my bony little fists in the air and grumble, “What the hell is wrong with you people?”

On a more inspiring note: a small fire, and fifty small bats who will live happily ever after:

BBC News – 50 bats rescued after fire at St Fagans museum

This story warms my heart. I’ve had the pleasure of strolling through St. Fagan’s; it’s charming. While the rescue of bats at St. Fagan’s may be entirely inconsequential to my life, I firmly believe human beings should frequently indulge in the inconsequential. It’s good for the spirit.

Background on St. Fagan’s:

St Fagans: National History Museum | National Museum Wales

A little bit on the little bat:

Lesser horseshoe bat videos, photos and facts – Rhinolophus hipposideros – ARKive

More on Wales: Hay-on-Wye, the Town of Books. It’s a little village on the border between England and Wales, crammed with art galleries and antiquarian bookshops. It boasts some good pubs, yet I think a pint in Hay is a little pricey. It hosts a massive literary festival, not a good time to go to Hay, they say, unless you plan to be there expressly for the book festival. It’s near impossible to find any vacancies at a bed and breakfast as these are usually booked a couple of years in advance. I didn’t visit during the festival, and I’d probably prefer Hay when it’s quiet, actually. Still, it’s a cool thing, an overview from the British Council:

Hay On Wye Book Festival | ESOL Nexus

What I didn’t know about Hay… and what I find absolutely exciting… and how I envision globalization…. is Hay’s sponsorship of the Storymoja Hay Festival in Nairobi, now in its fifth year. Apparently, I’ve been out of it. Last year, the Strorymoja Festival held its inaugural Wangari Maathai Lecture. This year’s festival happens in September:

Storymoja Hay Festival Nairobi

Background on Wangari Maathai and the Green Belt Movement:

Wangari Maathai | The Green Belt Movement

News from my little spot on the globe: An unheard-of, never-before pattern has begun to emerge. I’ve lost two games of scrabble in the last two weeks against my weekly opponent and spousal unit, affectionately known as Minos by she-who-loves-him-most. In my own defense, I do recall one of my linked words was not properly scored, in which case the final score of 327-325 would have actually resulted in a tie, 327-327. For the record, he always keeps score.

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And that’s all she wrote… :)

What’s happening in your part of the world?