There’s plenty of bad news to wallow in today, but I’m determined not to let it get to me. I’m going to begin this post with a story that made me smile and a couple more that made me laugh. After that, I’ll take a look at the dark side of current events.
Last night about 8:00, a “toddler” managed to White House security alert when he “squeezed through the White House gate” and ran onto the lawn, where he was finally intercepted by heavily armed Secret Security agents. At the time, President Obama was about to make a statement on the situation in Iraq. The Washington Post reports:
The brief kerfuffle as agents scrambled to intercept the pint-sized intruder confirms what most people know: toddlers are sneaky, and fast. This one was promptly returned to his parents.
The little guy didn’t get in any trouble — at least, not with the feds. And he was unavailable for comment — to anyone — for at least a few more months.
“We were going to wait until he learned to talk to question him,” Secret Service Agent Edwin Donovan said in a statement, “but in lieu of that he got a timeout and was sent on way with parents.”
I sooooo wish there was a video of the action! I suspect we’ll eventually learn the identity of the boy. If nothing else, he’ll have a great story to tell his friends when he grows up.
Here’s another silly story. A small-town New Jersey police officer got into an argument with a resident with a grudge against the local animal shelter who was “seen taking pictures” inside a public building. The cop began ranting about President Obama, and the whole thing was caught on tape. From Helmetta, NJ:
Special Police Officer Richard Recine now is the subject of an internal affairs investigation after the video was posted online and was seen by Police Director Robert Manney, who called the comments an “embarrassment.”
In the video, taken Monday at the borough municipal building, resident Steve Wronko gets into a verbal confrontation with Recine, who was called to the building because Wronko was seen taking pictures inside.
After Wronko insists he has a constitutional right to record in a public place, Recine responds.
“Obama has decimated the friggin’ constitution, so I don’t give a damn,” says Recine, a retired Franklin cop. “Because if he doesn’t follow the Constitution we don’t have to.”
Wronko then turns to the person recording the camera to make sure that was recorded. Recine repeats himself.
“Our president has decimated the constitution, then we don’t have to.”
Wronko and his wife have been getting on local officials’ nerves for awhile now. They say they are
campaigning for reform at the borough animal shelter, which they said gave them an underage and sick puppy that caused them thousands of dollars in veterinarian bills.
“We wanted them to pay for the medical bills. Now it’s way past the money,” Collene Freda-Wronko said. “Now it’s about getting animals out of that shelter and getting people into that shelter who could run that facility better.”
She said police have ordered her husband to stop videorecording at the animal shelter during two previous incidents.
Here’s the viral video of officer Recine expressing his opinions about his right to ignore the Constitution.
Recine, a retired Franklin, N.J. police officer who is collecting a pension of around $76,000, and was working in Helmetta for an hourly wage, has now resigned. Oddly, he is registered Democrat.
“I don’t want to give a black eye to law enforcement,” Recine, 59, said Thursday in an exclusive interview with MyCentralJersey.com. “People are saying some really nasty stuff about cops. I don’t want all officers painted with the same brush.”
Borough Administrator Herbert Massa said the resignation was accepted by Police Director Robert Manney, who had called Recine’s comments an “embarrassment.”
The video first was reported Wednesday by MyCentralJersey.com and the story quickly went viral. The story was picked up by the Drudge Report and was the top story Thursday morning on the online community news website Reddit. Many readers were upset that Recine’s comments were dismissive of civil liberties.
Recine claims that when he made the remarks about Obama, he was just being “sarcastic.”
“It was just a stupid statement on my part. He got me riled and I said it,” he explained. “I don’t believe that at all. I’m the most patriotic person in the world. I believe in God, the flag, country, the Constitution.” ….
“I tried to explain to him that since 9/11 you just can’t walk into a place and take videos,” Recine said Thursday. “All he kept on doing was saying he had civil rights, and the Constitution, and he didn’t have to give me information. And I kind of like lost my temper.”
No one asked Recine why terrorists would target a public building in Helmetta, NJ, population 2,200.
This next story isn’t exactly funny–well, as my dad used to say, “it’s not funny ha ha; it’s funny peculiar.” From Raw Story, CEO of Baptist center fired after arrest for arranging dog sex encounter on Craigslist.
Jerald “Jerry” Hill, 56, of Camden County [Missouri] was arrested on Aug. 5th after setting up a meeting with an undercover officer for the purpose of having sex with a dog, according to the Columbia Daily Tribune.
According to Boone County sheriff’s Detective Tracy Perkins, her office received a tip that someone was seeking sex with a dog or other type of animal — which she did not specify — on Craigslist. An undercover officer exchanged emails with Hill offering a dog for sex. Subsequently, Hill was taken into custody in Columbia, MO., when he arrived anticipating a sexual tryst.
Hill’s employer is concerned for his “well-being.” Continuing from Raw Story:
Hill is currently listed as the president and CEO of the Windermere Baptist Conference Center, located in Roach, Missouri, whichissued a statement saying that they were supportive and grateful for his work, but were worried about how the impact of his arrest would reflect on the center.
“We are concerned for the well-being of Jerry…and we are also concerned with the well-being of Windermere,” Chairman Arthur Mallory said. “Windermere will continue to function in a good way…. It is a significant piece of God’s kingdom’s work.”
Some Serious but Positive News
I actually managed to find some positive stories in the serious news today, so I’ll begin with that. From Politico: IRS notches legal win over lost tea party emails.
The IRS won what might be Round One in a series of contests pitting tea party groups against the agency, with a federal judge rejecting a conservative group’s bid for a court-appointed forensics expert to hunt for ex-official Lois Lerner’s lost emails.
Judge Reggie Walton of the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia said True the Vote’s lawsuit against the IRS failed to show “irreparable harm” in its injunction relief request and that “the public interest weighs strongly against the type of injunctive relief the plaintiff seeks.”
“Despite the general distrust of the defendants expressed by the plaintiff, the Court has no factual basis to concur with that distrust … and therefore concludes that the issuance of an injunction will not further aid in the recovery of the emails, if such recovery is possible, but will rather only duplicate and potentially interfere with ongoing investigative activities,” he wrote in a court memorandum posted Wednesday afternoon.
Walton found further fault with True the Vote’s legal arguments.
True the Vote says it is one of the conservative groups that were discriminated against by the IRS in the scandal that erupted last year. The controversy again hit a boiling point this summer when the IRS said a 2011 computer crash erased Lerner emails that congressional Republicans say are vital to its investigation of the matter.
But Walton found a number of problems with True the Vote’s legal demands.
He said the group must establish that it would suffer “irreparable harm” in the absence of the injunction, along with a handful of other requirements such as whether it’s in the public interest.
More details at the link.
I’ve written a few times about the Dozier School for Boys in Florida and the University of South Florida’s archaeological dig a the site of the former reform school. From Reuters, via Raw Story: First remains identified among 55 bodies found at notorious FL reform school.
George Owen Smith, a 14-year-old caught with an older boy in a stolen car, was sent in 1940 to a reform school in the Florida Panhandle, never to be seen again by his family.
His remains became the first to be identified among 55 bodies dug up from unmarked graves last year on the campus of the Dozier School for Boys, the University of South Florida announced on Thursday….
“It feels pretty good, really after 73 years. It’s a feeling of relief,” Ovell Krell, 85, Smith’s younger sister, told Reuters on receiving confirmation of his whereabouts.
Erin Kimmerle, the lead researcher and associate professor of anthropology at USF, said in a statement: “We may never know the full circumstances of what happened to Owen or why his case was handled the way it was.
“But we do know that he now will be buried under his own name and beside family members who longed for answers.”
Video from CBS News:
The Rest of the News, Headlines Only
AP via Bloomberg Businessweek, Iraqi and Kurdish officials welcome US airdrops.
New York Daily News, U.S. military launches first airstrikes on Islamic fighters: Pentagon
Global Post, US launches strikes on Islamic State in Iraq (LIVE BLOG).
AP via Daily Mail, WHO: Ebola outbreak is a public health emergency.
New York Times, Russia Responds to Western Sanctions With Import Bans of Its Own
What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread, and have a fabulous Friday!!
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:
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.
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?
And 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
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
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)
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…
Another medieval history link on Iceland: Beauty and brutality: Iceland’s literary landscapes
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
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
A 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. Thanks 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.
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.
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!
Happy New Year’s Day Y’all…
And, Bless Your Hearts….hee-hee.
The long anticipated Frontline documentary “League of Denial” will be shown on PBS tonight from 9-11PM. A book with the same title by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru was released this morning. I hope you’ll watch it either on TV or on-line. The show examines the problems of concussions and traumatic brain injury (TBI) in professional football.
The NFL is not at all happy about the program. In fact, as I reported recently, ESPN was originally a partner with Frontline on the documentary; but after the trailer (produced and edited by my talented brother, John MacGibbon) was released, ESPN abruptly pulled out of the project–most likely because of pressure from the League.
You can watch the trailer here.
Growing up in Nigeria, Dr. Bennet Omalu knew next to nothing about American football. He didn’t watch the games, he didn’t know the teams, and he certainly didn’t know the name Mike Webster.
That changed in 2002 when Omalu was assigned to perform an autopsy on the legendary Steelers center. Webster had died at 50, but to Omalu, he looked far older. Football had taken a punishing toll on his body. It was Omalu’s job to measure the damage.
As a neuropathologist, Omalu was especially interested in the brain. Inside Mike Webster’s brain, he’d make a startling discovery: a disease never previously identified in football players. The condition, known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, was the first hard evidence that playing football could cause permanent brain damage. Players with CTE have battled depression, memory loss, and in some cases dementia.
“I had to make sure the slides were Mike Webster’s slides,” Omalu told FRONTLINE. “I looked again. I saw changes that shouldn’t be in a 50-year-old man’s brains, and also changes that shouldn’t be in a brain that looked normal.”
Omalu published his findings, believing NFL officials would want to know more. They didn’t. In public, league doctors assailed his research. Omalu’s conclusions confused the medical literature, they argued. In a rare move, they demanded a retraction.
You can use this as an open thread or a live blog to comment on the documentary. I plan to watch it tonight, and I hope you’ll join me.
Well it’s my turn for a sinus infection I guess! I’ve been trying to fight it with sleep and the usual but it just got the better of me yesterday. Let me share a few quick links with you.
This one is a little out there but according to Michael Douglas, the HPV virus gave him his cancer. He believes oral sex was the root cause.
The cause of Douglas’s cancer had long been assumed to be related to his tobacco habit, coupled with enthusiastic boozing. In 1992, he was hospitalised for an addiction which some at the time claimed to be sex. Douglas himself denied this and said he was in rehab for alcohol abuse. He has also spoken of recreational drug use.
HPV, the sexually transmitted virus best known as a cause of cervical and anal cancer and genital warts, is thought to be responsible for an increasing proportion of oral cancers.
Some suggest that changes in sexual behaviour – a rise in oral sex in particular – are responsible. Such changes might be cultural, but could also be linked to fears about the safety of penetrative sex in the wake of the Aids epidemic.
Mahesh Kumar, a consultant head and neck surgeon in London, confirmed that the last decade has seen a dramatic rise in this form of cancer, particularly among younger sufferers. Recent studies of 1,316 patients with oral cancer found that 57% of them were HPV-16 positive.
“It has been established beyond reasonable doubt that the HPV type 16 is the causative agent in oropharyngeal cancer,” said Kumar, who also testified to increased recovery rates among this kind of cancer sufferer. This would help explain why Douglas was given an 80% chance of survival, despite the advanced stage of his illness.
But Kumar expressed scepticism that Douglas’s cancer was caused solely by HPV, and surprise at Douglas’s assertion that cunnilingus could also help cure the condition. “Maybe he thinks that more exposure to the virus will boost his immune system. But medically, that just doesn’t make sense.”
So, anyway, something to read more on if that’s the case.
A new Republican Woman politician has stepped into the role played by Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachman. It’s called let’s sell out women! Congresswoman Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) opposes Pay Equity Laws saying that women ‘Don’t want the decisions made in Washington’.
Blackburn’s comments came during a round table on Meet the Press. The panel was discussing women’s increasing roles as the primary breadwinners in American families, and women’s general rise in the corporate and political arenas. After she asserted that companies — and her own Republican Party — had to do a better job of incorporating females into the workplace, former White House adviser David Axelrod asked Blackburn whether paycheck fairness laws would bolster women’s chances of achieving success. She responded by saying that Washington should stay out of the matter:
AXELROD: How about pay equity laws to ensure that women are treated fairly in the workplace?
BLACKBURN: I think that more important than that is making certain that women are recognized by those companies. You know, I’ve always said that I didn’t want to be given a job because I was a female, I wanted it because I was the most well-qualified person for the job. And making certain that companies are going to move forward in that vein — that is what women want. They don’t want the decisions made in Washington. They want to be able to have the power and the control and the ability to make those decisions for themselves.
But as the panel pointed out immediately before the exchange, companies are already “recognizing” and hiring more and more women. Women are now the primary breadwinners for 40 percent of all American families — a four-fold increase from 50 years ago.
The problem is that many of those women aren’t placed on equal footing with their male counterparts once they’re hired. Contrary to Blackburn’s insinuation, paycheck and workplace equity legislation isn’t about affirmative action — it’s about making sure that employers don’t discriminate against their workers on the basis of gender. Women in full-time, year-round jobs only make 77 cents for every dollar a man makes for the same level of work.
I’ve often thought that basic idea of ‘state’s rights’ and of the right wing’s extreme distrust in the government was hooked historically to maintaining the institution of slavery in the south. Guess I am not the only one.
Over the last several decades, the Right also built an imposing vertically integrated media machine that meshes the written word in newspapers, magazines and books with the spoken (or shouted) word on TV and talk radio. This giant echo chamber, resonating with sophisticated propaganda including revisionist (or neo-Confederate) history, has convinced millions of poorly informed Americans that the framers of the Constitution hated a strong central government and were all for “states’ rights” – when nearly the opposite was true as Madison, Washington and Hamilton rejected the Articles of Confederation and drafted the Constitution to enhance federal power.
Further, the Right’s hijacking of Revolutionary War symbols, like yellow “Don’t Tread on Me” flags, confuses the Tea Party rank-and-file by equating the founding era’s resistance against an overseas monarchy to today’s hatred of an elected U.S. government.
Amid this muck of muddled history, the biggest secret withheld from the American people is that today’s Right is actually promoting a set of anti-government positions that originally arose to justify and protect the South’s institution of slavery. The calls of “liberty” then covered the cries of suffering from human bondage, just as today’s shouts of outrage reflect resentment over the first African-American president.
Senator Bernie Saunders has written an excellent piece in the UK Guardian saying that we can not except the status quo as the “new normal.” The worsening gap income inequality and wealth should not be acceptable.
The front pages of American newspapers are filled with stories about how the US economy is recovering. There is some truth to that. Since President George W Bush left office in 2009, significant progress has been made in moving our economy out of the abyss of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s. But in the midst of this slow recovery, we must not accept a “new normal”.
We must not be content with an economic reality in which the middle class of this country continues to disappear, poverty is near an all-time high and the gap between the very rich and everyone else grows wider and wider.
The good news is that instead of losing more than 700,000 jobs a month as we were five years ago, we’ve been gaining almost 200,000 jobs a month since January. The bad news is that, in addition to those job numbers being much too low, nearly 60% of the jobs gained since the “recovery” are low-wage jobs that pay less than $14 an hour, while most of the jobs lost during the recession were decent-paying middle-class jobs.
The good news is that the official unemployment rate has gone down from 10% in October of 2009 to 7.5% in April. The bad news is that 20 million Americans still are looking for work and the real unemployment rate – counting those who have given up looking for work and those working part time when they need full time jobs – is 13.9% The very bad news is that youth and minority unemployment is far higher than that and, with the decline in factory jobs, income for poorly educated men has shrunk by nearly two-thirds over the past four decades.
I know this is a little short, but I hope you’ll understand. I just don’t to seem to have much energy. So, what’s on your reading and blogging list today?
I am not up for much lately, so here goes a quick news round-up. Surprises out of swamp, as Obama picks a girl to head the Secret Service…Secret Service Gets First Female Director
President Obama on Tuesday appointed Julia A. Pierson, a longtime Secret Service agent, as the first woman to head the agency best known for protecting the president, vice president and their families.
Ms. Pierson, the chief of staff to Mark J. Sullivan, who retired as director last month, will take over at a time when the Secret Service is still recovering from a prostitution scandal last year that held it up to public ridicule, generated Congressional hearings and cost a number of agents their jobs.
The appointment represented a milestone for law enforcement, putting a woman at the top of an agency with a storied past and a Hollywood-fueled image of Clint Eastwood-style men with sunglasses and earpieces stoically guarding the commander in chief at home and abroad. Mr. Obama has also installed women as directors of the Marshals Service and Drug Enforcement Administration, but the Secret Service has a unique visibility.
Of course Pierson is highly qualified.
With 30 years of experience in the Secret Service, Ms. Pierson, 53, boasts a résumé much like those of her predecessors, including a stint on the first President George Bush’s protective detail. But the timing of her selection inevitably means that Washington will be watching closely to see how or if she changes a male-driven culture that came under harsh scrutiny when agents were caught employing prostitutes in Colombia before Mr. Obama arrived for a visit.
“During the Colombia prostitution scandal, the Secret Service lost the trust of many Americans and failed to live up to the high expectations placed on it,” Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa. “Ms. Pierson has a lot of work ahead of her to create a culture that respects the important job the agency is tasked with. I hope she succeeds in restoring lost credibility in the Secret Service.”
In a statement, Mr. Obama said Ms. Pierson “exemplified the spirit and dedication” of the agency but made no mention of the scandal.
Now we wait for the Senate to confirm…
This next article is on sleep, or should I say little bit of sleep. Can you train yourself to get by on less sleep?
Margaret Thatcher did it. So did Salvador Dali. They survived the day with only a few hours of sleep. The question is whether you can force yourself to do the same.
We waste a third of our lives sleeping – or that’s how some people see it. When there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day, you yearn to be like the former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who was said to get by on just four hours sleep a night, or the artist Salvador Dali who wasted as little time as possible slumbering.
There is a quite a range in the number of hours we like to sleep. As Jim Horne writes in Sleepfaring, 80% of us manage between six and nine hours a night; the other 20% sleep more or less than this. But how easy is it to change your regular schedule? If you force yourself to get out of bed a couple of hours early every day will your body eventually become accustomed to it? Sadly not.
There is plenty of evidence that a lack of sleep has an adverse effect. We do not simply adjust to it – in the short-term it reduces our concentration, and if it’s extreme it makes us confused and distressed, and turns us into such poor drivers that it’s the equivalent of being drunk. The long-term effects are even more worrying. Repeatedly getting less sleep than you need over the course of decades is associated with an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.
But what about those people who do happily appear to manage on fewer hours than the rest of us? Why does it not seem to make them ill?
All that article makes me think of that episode of Seinfeld, where Kramer only sleeps 20 minutes every 3 hours…
“My brain is mossy Jerry, mossy…”
I’ve got two more links for you, hellish ideas and torturous settlements.
The Worst Idea In The History Of Cable News: An Anderson Cooper-Kathy Griffin Series on CNN | Mediaite- Oh yeah, this is a bad combination…I think I would rather do my nails in a Cuisinart than watch those too together again…ugh. Their partnership while covering the New York New Years Eve celebration was horrifying. I am not the only one who thinks this is a bad idea…from Joe Concha:
So it’s safe to say that I remember where I was ten minutes ago at 8:10 PM EST when I heard the apocalyptic (unconfirmed) report that CNN, C-N-N, actually filmed a pilot today starring Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin at Time Warner Studios in New York, according to Deadline.com.
My reaction caused paint chips to fall off my ceiling:
It’s one thing to put the Cooper and Griffin together on New Year’s Eve: Most folks watching that night are already overserved, likely older (See: Not out, but struggling to stay awake until midnight and watching a cable news network’s coverage of the ball dropping in Times Square in the process). Some tune to CNN because somewhere in the back of their brain, they recall reading about Griffin doing something provocative, something wild in the past, like dropping a completely-planned F-bomb or performing an oral rendition on her openly gay co-host (not that there’s anything wrong with that). So they tune in to witness the now-contrived bit, perhaps for no other reason but lack of a better idea.
Older? I don’t know about that, viewers were either drunk or strung out tired, probably from too little sleep due to following the whacked out theory Kramer had in that video up top.
I don’t know if a show with Cooper and Griffin falls under the definition of torture…but the ride this guy took at Disneyland sure as hell sounds like torture to me…It’s A Small World ride breaks down, forces disabled man to listen to that song for 30 minutes
For one man at Disneyland, it was less a world of laughter than world of tears.
Disneyland has paid disabled man Jose Martinez $8,000. Their crime? Not evacuating him from It’s A Small World after the ride broke down in 2009, leaving him listening to that song for half an hour.
The song couldn’t be shut off. Most adults are ready to strangle someone after going through the ride at regular speed. Like the song says, “It’s a world of hopes, it’s a world of fears,” and this sounds like it belongs on most of our top fear lists.
Martinez’s lawyer, David Geffen (no relation?), says that Martinez was the only passenger not evacuated when the ride broke down in 2009, according to the Associated Press. Geffen also says that Disneyland staff failed to call the fire department to help free Martinez.
Martinez uses a wheelchair, as well as suffering from panic attacks and high blood pressure, Geffen says, according to the AP. He also had to use the restroom for much of the time — all while being surrounded by water. Those oceans must have started to seem pretty wide.
Martinez wasn’t medically stabilized for three hours, Geffen said, according to the AP. Geffen said that half of the award was for pain and suffering, while the other half is for violating disability laws.
Ooof, that makes me think of a couple of other funny video clips…
This version of It’s a Duff World from the Simpsons:
In the episode entitled “Selma’s Choice“, Bart and Lisa Simpson travel with their aunt Selma to Duff Gardens, a parody of the Busch Gardens amusement park, but also containing elements of Disneyland. In the gift shop, Bart spots “beer goggles“, spectacles that mimic what drunks see: they make Aunt Selma appear young, feminine, and beautiful to Bart – and also, somehow, alter her voice. Later, they see the mascots of Duff Beer, the Seven Duffs.
In the same episode, there is also a direct parody of the “It’s a Small World” attraction at Disney parks. In the cartoon, the boats float on a brown liquid as animatronic children sing “Duff beer for me, Duff beer for you, I’ll have a Duff, You have one, too,” over and over again. Lisa drinks the liquid in the ride on a dare from Bart, and she freaks out from its hallucinogenic properties.
Here is a bit clip of the ride…Duff beer world:
And then this episode from Family Guy: The Courtship of Stewie’s Father, where Peter takes Stewie…
…to Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. Excited at the prospect of visiting Disney World, Stewie forgives Peter, although pretending to be annoyed. When the pair arrive, Peter inadvertently loses Stewie, who is captured by Disney World employees and forced to sing at the Tiny World ride, complying to do so after learning that the alternative is to be in a Christmas movie with Tim Allen.
And lastly, this episode of South Park, Big Gay Al’s Big Gay Boat Ride.
You can see the full episode here, Big Gay Al’s Big Gay Boat Ride (Season 1, Episode 4) – Full Episode Player – South Park Studios, or you can watch the song clip here: Big Gay Boat Ride – Video Clips – South Park Studios
Y’all enjoy your day, and please have a Duff Beer for me…will ya?
Well, after having a good evening, watching a couple of Italian films last night, Life is Beautiful and Miracle on Madonna Street, I have a few links for you this morning.
The New York Post has an article about the battles being fought in Africa: A Trail of Bullet Casings Leads From Africa’s Wars to Iran
The first clues appeared in Kenya, Uganda and what is now South Sudan. A British arms researcher surveying ammunition used by government forces and civilian militias in 2006 found Kalashnikov rifle cartridges he had not seen before. The ammunition bore no factory code, suggesting that its manufacturer hoped to avoid detection.
Within two years other researchers were finding identical cartridges circulating through the ethnic violence in Darfur. Similar ammunition then turned up in 2009 in a stadium in Conakry, Guinea, where soldiers had fired on antigovernment protesters, killing more than 150.
For six years, a group of independent arms-trafficking researchers worked to pin down the source of the mystery cartridges. Exchanging information from four continents, they concluded that someone had been quietly funneling rifle and machine-gun ammunition into regions of protracted conflict, and had managed to elude exposure for years. Their only goal was to solve the mystery, not implicate any specific nation.
When the investigators’ breakthrough came, it carried a surprise. The manufacturer was not one of Africa’s usual suspects. It was Iran.
Read the rest at the link, it is a long article.
In other news, this time out of Brazil: Fast New Test Could Find Leprosy Before Damage Is Lasting
A simple, fast and inexpensive new test for leprosy offers hope that, even in the poorest countries, victims can be found and cured before they become permanently disabled or disfigured like the shunned lepers of yore.
American researchers developed the test, and Brazil’s drug-regulatory agency registered it last month. A Brazilian diagnostics company, OrangeLife, will manufacture it on the understanding that the price will be $1 or less.
“This will bring leprosy management out of the Dark Ages,” said Dr. William Levis, who has treated leprosy patients at a Bellevue Hospital outpatient clinic for 30 years.
Even more important, he said, it is expected to detect infections as much as a year before symptoms appear. And the earlier treatment begins, the better the outcome. Leprosy is caused by a bacterium, Mycobacterium leprae, related to the one that causes tuberculosis, but reproducing so slowly that symptoms often take seven years to appear.
This new test requires just a drop of blood and the results are given after only ten minutes.
The disease has historically been hard to diagnose, despite the popular, but inaccurate, image of fingers and toes dropping off victims. As the bacteria kill nerves, muscles atrophy and those digits curl into claws. After disuse and repeated injuries, the body reacts protectively by absorbing the bone calcium in the bones, shrinking the digits.
For centuries, some observant doctors have noticed early signs: the numb skin patches, missing eyebrows, drooping earlobes, bulging neck nerves, the flat “lion face” caused by nasal cartilage dissolving.
Since nothing could be done for them before the age of antibiotics, victims lost the use of their hands and had to beg. Some also went blind as the blinking muscles degenerated and their eyes dried out. In the Middle Ages, some towns banned lepers, while others required them to ring bells to warn of their approach. Religious charities created “leper colonies.”
And they still exist, even in the United States. A few elderly residents have chosen to stay on in Carville, La., and Kalaupapa, Hawaii, despite having been cured. Several thousand live at one in northeast Brazil, said John S. Spencer, a leprosy researcher at Colorado State University who has worked there. “People say things like ‘People outside won’t understand what’s wrong with my face,’ ” he said.
Nowadays, he said, most patients are cured before their faces are severely disfigured. Still, he said, he had read a survey in which health experts asked Brazilians whether they would rather have the human immunodeficiency virus or leprosy. Most chose H.I.V. — even though leprosy does not kill, can be cured, and does not make a victim risky to have sex with. “The stigma is that strong,” he said.
Wow. Dr Lewis says he hopes the Brazilian test becomes available in the US so he can test the families of his patients. It takes many antibiotics given over 6 months to a year to cure the disease…these new test provide doctors with more time to could help diagnosis leprosy before permanent nerve damage is done.
I guess my PAD is getting the best of me, I just don’t have the energy to give you more than these…and instead of posting links to more of the same news, give a look at some of the artsy reads below.
With the Academy Awards later tonight, I have two links about film and films.
Hollywood is getting ready to hand out the industry’s most prestigious film awards: the Oscars.
Among the contenders for best documentary is a film directed by an Israeli, and another by a Palestinian.
Both the Israeli The Gatekeepers and Palestinian 5 Broken Cameras tell the same story, but from two quite different perspectives.
Video at the link, and…
Digital is taking over Hollywood, but celluloid’s fans intend to fight on
They are some of the most powerful people in one of the most powerful entertainment industries in the world. And when Hollywood’s grandest gather at tonight’s Oscars there will be no end of smiles and handshakes. But they are also fans, and like all fans, they are given to apparently arcane squabbles. The latest is whether films should be shot on, well, film.
Some of the most successful directors, such as James Cameron and George Lucas, are so obsessed with having the best special effects that they have spent millions embracing computer-generated imagery and abandoned 35mm film. Others, such as Quentin Tarantino and Christopher Nolan, are wedded to traditional celluloid, which is becoming the film equivalent of the vinyl record.
Epics such as Les Misérables and Lincoln – both shot on 35mm – and digital creations such as Life of Pi have all made millions at the box office. While film buffs may talk about the “feel” of film, with all its subtleties, the reality is that pixilated perfection is winning – the whirring of 35mm film projectors silenced by the hum of digital machines.
Just take a look at the films nominated for best picture:
Although many love a sharp, digital picture with high definition, others prefer something a bit less “real”. The split among directors is highlighted in the nominations for Best Picture. Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Miserables, Silver Linings Playbook and Lincoln were shot on film. While Argo, Amour, Life of Pi and Zero Dark Thirty were shot on digital. As was The Hobbit nominated in three technical Oscar categories.
David O Russell, director of Silver Linings Playbook, said: “Maybe I’m old-fashioned, maybe I’m superstitious, maybe I’m romantic – I love film and it has a magic quality, it has a warmth. I may use digital cameras in a pinch because they are small and fast but I like film for its humaneness.” He is one of a number of directors determined to continue shooting on 35mm. Another is Nolan, who made the Dark Knight trilogy: “I am now constantly asked to justify why I want to shoot a film on film,” he said. Nolan likens digital to an “amazing” cookie until you realise “this is some horrible chemical crap that’s giving you this bad illusion that fools you at first.”
You can read more about what actors, cinematographers and directors think about digital vs film at the link up top. I tend to agree with the folks who love film…and think that digital sucks.
Another archaic form of technology that gets lost in this day in age is the typewriter. Take this woman’s use of the typewriter:
As romantic as the idea of working on a typewriter now seems, in reality they’re rather clunky and temperamental things. Writing with one would probably take us an age – and if we made a mistake? Well, forget it.
So imagine trying to draw with one.
London based artist Keira Rathbone, originally from Dorset, does exactly that; clustering together marks made by letters, numbers and symbols, to make brilliant, one-off images.
The English artist clusters letters, numbers and symbols from a typewriter keyboard to composite images; from portraits of friends and celebrities to landscapes and still life. A closer look at what looks like a sketch of Wimborne Minster, a church in East Dorset, England, reveals swirls of ampersands and the ticks of quotations marks.
Watch the video below to see the artist at work, and click through the slideshow to see examples of her typewriter art. Visit keirarathbone.com for more examples of her work.
Be sure to take a look at the pictures, Rathone’s art is impressive…
Another obsolete form of technology is shown below…Keypunch Orchestra: 1937 | Shorpy Historical Photo Archive
June 1937. “Baltimore, Maryland. For every Social Security account number issued an ‘employee master card’ is made in the Social Security board records office. Testifying data, given on the application blank form SS-5, is transferred to this master card in the form of upended quadrangular holes, punched by key punch machines, which have a keyboard like a typewriter. Each key struck by an operator causes a hole to be punched in the card. The position of a hole determines the letter or number other machines will reproduce from the master card. From this master card is made an actuarial card, to be used later for statistical purposes. The master card also is used in other machines which sort them numerically, according to account numbers, alphabetically according to the name code, translate the holes into numbers and letters, and print the data on individual ledger sheets, indexes, registry of accounts and other uses. The photograph above shows records office workers punching master cards on key punch machines.” Whew. Longest caption ever? Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative.
That is all I have for you this morning. Hope you all enjoy your Sunday, see ya later on tonight…should be quite a show.
So what are you all reading and blogging about today?