Hey, it’s been nice to have a week off…I haven’t read much news items lately, in fact I don’t really have any idea what’s going on in the world outside of Banjoville. (Just this last weekend we had a murder, involving an 80-year-old former cop from Florida who killed his daughter, shot his great-grandson in the leg, and kept two county swat teams busy in a stand-off for three hours before they threw a flash bomb and finally got him in custody…you should see the list of weapons he had in his house.)
Other news from Banjoville (good news), my son played his first varsity football game and kicked five for five, scoring four extra points and one field goal in the season’s game opener. My daughter also cheered in her first varsity game as well…it was quite a Friday Night!
This weekend I added a little furry bugger to the family too. He is a tiny little thing, at three months he weighs just over a pound.
So as you can see, it has been a busy week…but since I am clueless about the latest debates on Syria, in the dark on the fire in Yellowstone, unsure of new draconian laws against women’s rights that have passed in state houses over the past week…I will just stick with a few links that I have saved from some days back.
Here is one article that is recent however, Fukushima Disaster: Japan To Build Costly Subterranean Ice Wall To Stop Nuclear Reactor Leaks:
The Japanese government announced Tuesday that it will spend $470 million on a subterranean ice wall and other steps in a desperate bid to stop leaks of radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant after repeated failures by the plant’s operator.
The decision is widely seen as an attempt to show that the nuclear accident won’t be a safety concern just days before the International Olympic Committee chooses among Tokyo, Istanbul and Madrid as the host of the 2020 Olympics.
The Fukushima Dai-ichi plant has been leaking hundreds of tons of contaminated underground water into the sea since shortly after a massive 2011 earthquake and tsunami damaged the complex. Several leaks from tanks storing radioactive water in recent weeks have heightened the sense of crisis that the plant’s owner, Tokyo Electric Power Co., isn’t able to contain the problem.
“Instead of leaving this up to TEPCO, the government will step forward and take charge,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said after adopting the outline. “The world is watching if we can properly handle the contaminated water but also the entire decommissioning of the plant.”
I don’t know how negative an impact the radioactive disaster will have on the IOC’s decision on Tokyo hosting the 2020 Olympics, I mean… look at the nuclear bomb getting ready to explode in Sochi. I get the feeling the IOC would prefer a radioactive leak of Godzilla proportions than to stand up and do what’s right in Sochi.
Down in Florida they are digging up some graves of a terrible past. Human remains believed uncovered in search at Florida boys school
The first of many to die at a Florida reform school infamous for inflicting beatings and abuse is identified in official records only as “Unknown colored boy.”
Researchers say he died in 1911. But his name, final resting place, and the reason for his early death remain a mystery.
He’s not alone.
The whereabouts of nearly two dozen others who died at the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys are also unknown, researchers said.
Those who once stayed at the reform school — and were subjected to regular lashings by school officials — say many more could be buried on the property of the now-shuttered state-run school, located in Marianna, a small town in Florida’s panhandle.
“I think there’s at least 100 more bodies,” Robert Straley, who was at the school for 10 months starting in 1963, said in a telephone interview.
“From 1900 to 1940 were the most brutal years in that place. Back then, a white boy’s life wasn’t worth much and a black boy’s life wasn’t worth anything.”
A clearer view of who died at the school, and why, may soon surface. On Saturday, a team of researchers began a year-long exhumation of burial sites on the school’s property.
But the abuse and suspicious deaths did not end in the 1960s,
Former residents at the school, including Straley, have led the push for setting the record straight about the school’s treatment of its young inmates, which came to light in a 2008 expose in the Miami Herald.
An investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement concluded in 2010 that, although it found dozens of graves, there was not enough evidence to pursue criminal charges related to allegations of physical and sexual abuse of boys at the school.
The state’s Department of Juvenile Justice closed the school in 2011 as the federal government was investigating allegations of maltreatment and abuse. The federal government ultimately faulted the state for poor oversight and violating the rights of the inmates.
Take a look at the link to that LA Times article to read more about the project being carried out by my alma mater, University of South Florida.
Now I will give you a few updates on some stories from earlier in the year.
Check it out…they are calling bullshit on the stories that there were bottles full of shit at the Texas Capitol during the Special Session back in July: Still No Evidence Abortion Rights Protesters Had Excrement In Texas Capitol Ahead Of Bill Debate
And in Utah, Welfare Drug Testing Catches Only 12 Users
From August 2012 through July 2013, the state prescreened 4,730 applicants to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program with a written test. The state followed up with an actual drug test for the 466 of those whose written answers suggested a likelihood of drug use.
The 466 tests turned out 12 positive results, as the Associated Press first reported. The results were similar when Florida launched welfare drug testing in 2011 and just 2.6 percent of applicants tested positive. National surveys usually find that about 8 percent of respondents used drugs in the previous month.
Utah’s drug screening cost the state about $31,000. But state Rep. Brad Wilson (R-Kaysville) told HuffPost he thinks the bill saved more than it cost. He said an additional 247 Utahns dropped out of the TANF application process after they were told to expect a drug test.
“We had 247 who once we told them, ‘our test shows that you are likely using controlled substances, we need you to take a drug test,’ they refused to move forward with the process,” said Wilson, who sponsored the new law. “The Department of Workforce Services here in Utah estimates the benefits of those folks would have received would have been approximately $369,000 of, basically, benefits we didn’t pay to people who were most likely using controlled substances. We spent $31,000 on this program over the last year but we think we’ve saved at least $370,000, if not more.”
Utah’s law differs from Florida’s in that it first subjects TANF applicants to a questionnaire and only tests those whose answers give the state a reasonable suspicion of drug use. The reasonable suspicion standard makes the law less vulnerable to a civil liberties lawsuit alleging the tests violate the Constitution’s protections against unreasonable search. Florida’s law called for blanket testing and was halted by federal courts after only a few months.
The Florida law also denied benefits to anyone who failed a test. Utah’s law asks applicants to enroll in drug treatment. Wilson said the 12 people who tested positive for drugs are still receiving benefits.
The article states that the twelve are currently in treatment.
One last update, this one is something that hits home for me, y’all know that my brother Denny has Down Syndrome…so please read this one in full…and then, take some time to read the comments. Opinion: Justice for Down syndrome man who died in movie theater – CNN.com
Robert Ethan Saylor died on January 12 after three sheriff’s deputies tried to forcibly remove him from a movie theater.
One day last January, Robert Ethan Saylor, a 26-year-old man with Down syndrome, went to see the movie “Zero Dark Thirty.” When it was over, Saylor briefly left the theater, then decided to return and see it again. The manager called security because Saylor didn’t pay, and three off-duty deputies, moonlighting at the mall, came in to confront him.
According to Frederick County, Maryland, police statements, he swore at them and refused to leave. The deputies tried to remove him, despite Saylor’s caretaker’s warnings and pleas for them to wait and let her take care of it. What happened next is a little unclear, but witnesses say the deputies put Saylor on the floor, held him down and handcuffed him. Saylor, called Ethan by his family, suffered a fracture in his throat cartilage. He died of asphyxiation.
The death was ruled a homicide, but a grand jury failed to indict the deputies and they returned to work without charges.
My son has Down syndrome, so I have been following this case closely. But for months, it seemed as if only people in the disability community cared about it.
Petitions for independent investigations sputtered out with just a few hundred votes. Local reporting on the case never made a splash in national media. Meanwhile, the Frederick County sheriff investigated his men’s conduct, ruled they had followed procedure correctly, and tried to move on.
Police violence against people with disabilities is not uncommon, but the cases don’t seem to get a lot of publicity. Most people see the disabled as, at best, passive victims, objects to care for, perhaps to love, but not people with whom we automatically identify.
This is a mistake. We are all only temporarily able-bodied. Accidents, illness, and age wait for us all. What happened to Ethan Saylor could happen to you.
In July, his death began to get more attention. Heather Mizeur, a member of the Maryland House of Representatives and candidate for governor, seized on Saylor’s story and called for new training for law enforcement. Debra Alfarone, an investigative journalist in Washington, began to broadcast and write about the case. A petition asking Gov. Martin O’Malley to investigate went viral in mid-August, garnering 300,000 signatures in just a week. This petition fueled a renewed, suddenly national, media narrative. Ethan Saylor and #JusticeForEthan are now an official cause.
It is heartbreaking to know that the cops who killed Ethan are walking about…back at work, without being charged. Where is the outrage? Perhaps Ethan should have worn a hoodie? Maybe this injustice would have gotten more attention.
It is sickening.
Like I said, read the whole piece, it moves on to focus on people with disabilities…and what rights they have…or in the case of Ethan, what rights he was denied that invariably caused his “homicide” and allowed the men who killed him to walk free.
Okay, one last nugget or link for you today. Over at TCM they are presenting a special series that will be on every Monday and Tuesday for the next 15 weeks! .: The Story of Film :.
TCM IS PROUD to present the U.S. television premiere of The Story of Film: An Odyssey (2011), a 15-episode documentary directed and narrated by Mark Cousins, adapted from his 2004 book The Story of Film. Beginning in September and continuing through early December, one new episode, or “chapter,” will be introduced each Monday on TCM, with a lineup of related films. Tuesday evenings the thematic programming continues, and includes a re-airing of the previous night’s episode. By December, the entire festival will include 119 feature films and dozens of short subjects from 29 countries.
Cousins, a film critic from Northern Ireland, will appear as co-host with Robert Osborne in introducing the documentary, which uses film clips, interviews with filmmakers and location footage around the world to take viewers through filmmaking history from the late 19th century to today.
The first episode was shown this week, and it was so damn interesting, be sure to catch the rest of the series if you can.
So…it is good to be back, guess I need to get caught up on current events. Seriously, I don’t know if I can do that just yet. Y’all have a good morning and I’ll see you around in the comments.
Hello…today is going to be my last post for the month of August, I am taking the next seven plus days off…and will be back in full force the first Wednesday in September. I’ve needed this break more than you can imagine, the news has been so depressing, the lack of function in DC is even worse. The War on Women gets me so pissed off, and the ridiculous actions of the right-wing goes beyond stupid and into the realm of fuckin’ idiotic dumbshit assholes . Uh, want a perfect example? How is this? From The Daily Banter: State Senator: High Minority Poverty Caused by Genetics, Fried Chicken, Porno | BobCesca.com
We see and hear so many awful things come from the mouths of Republicans, it’s easy to become desensitized and no longer blink when they say it, but this from Colorado State Senator Vicki Marble (R-Fort Collins) is impressively bad.
According to her, black and Hispanic people suffer from higher rates of poverty because of their genetics, fried chicken, and porno.
MARBLE: When you look at life expectancy, there are problems in the black race. Sickle-cell anemia is something that comes up, diabetes is something that’s prevalent in the genetic makeup and you just can’t help it. Although I’ve gotta say, I’ve never had better barbecue and better chicken and ate better in my life than when you go down south and you, I mean I love it and everybody loves it. The Mexican diet in Mexico with all of the fresh vegetables. And you go down there and they’re much thinner than when they come up here. they change their diet. I’ve read studies on that. They become Americanized. Down the street near five-points there used to an old cafe there called Type-2 Chicken and I wanted to eat there for years because I knew it was just going to be the best ever.
You know these things aren’t good for you. And it’s really funny because there’s so many attributing factors as to why these graphs look the way they do. And I think when we look at things we have to take into a lot of attributing factors that one can’t be helped like genetics and the others that can be worked around, maybe the addictions. Certainly some people have addictive personalities. Addictions come in all different forms. You have alcoholics, rageoholics, drug addicts. You have people who are addicted, they say, to porn.
You got that right!
Poor diet does not lead to poverty, poverty leads to poor diet. And poverty is not caused by genetics or pornography. It’s caused by social apathy and ignorance from people like Senator Vicki Marble who are elected to serve the public interest.
Marble also went on to blame bad parenting and government regulations as reasons why black and Hispanic communities suffer from higher rates of poverty. Because she only had a limited amount of time to spout every stereotype and trope swirling around in her head before being cut off by her colleagues who were having a deer-in-the-headlights moment.
Marble says she is “saddened” that her comments came off the wrong way, as if they could have been taken any other way.
Then you have the stupid assholes that put other people’s lives in danger because of their own ridiculous actions: Vaccine-fearing Texas megachurch urges flock to immunize after measles outbreak | The Raw Story
A Texas megachurch whose leaders have linked vaccines to autism is now asking its members to get immunizations or stay quarantined after an outbreak of measles was traced to the congregation.
Instead of her normal sermon on Sunday, Eagle Mountain International Church Pastor Terri Copeland Pearsons was forced to spend the majority of her time explaining how the congregation should react to the news that all of the 11 measles cases in Tarrant County had been linked to members or visitors of the church.
“You are more than enough, Jesus, you are more than enough!” Pearsons began. “You’re more than enough for any need we have. More than enough, Jesus. For things known and unknown, Jesus, you are more than enough. Can you shout, amen?”
“We’re going to talk about some things affecting our church, and as we go through it, we remain steadfast that Jesus is more than enough,” she told the congregation. “There has been a … confirmed case of the measles from the Tarrant County Public Health Department. And that is a really big deal in that America, the United States has been essentially measles free for I think it’s 10 years. And so when measles pops up anywhere else in the United States, the health department — well, you know, it excites them.”
Pearsons went on to say that the church was offering free vaccination clinics, and urged those who did not attend to quarantine themselves at home for two weeks.
But the call for vaccinations was made awkward by the fact that Pearsons’ father, televangelist Kenneth Copeland, has promoted the idea that vaccines may lead to autism, according to the Dallas Observer.
Okay, I gotta a name for Pearsons’ father, televangelist Kenneth Copeland… he’s a real dooflicker. (*Jan. 1, 1953 “foreskin/penis”)
If you want another story that deals with dooflickers, how about this one…a black family was discriminated against in a Wild Wings Cafe restaurant in South Carolina…and what was that crap about no more racism in America? Yeah, right : African American Family Denied Service at Wild Wings Cafe | Mediaite
An African American family who were denied service at a Wild Wings Café in Charleston, South Carolina after another patron felt “threatened,” claimed they were discriminated against, and were not satisfied with the restaurant’s response.
After waiting over two hours, customer Michael Brown and his family, who were at the restaurant for a going-away party, were told that there was “a situation.”
“[The manager] said there’s a situation where one of our customers feels threatened by your party, so she asked us not to seat you in our section, which totally alarmed all of us because we’re sitting there peaceably for two hours,” Brown said according to WCSC. “Obviously, if we were causing any conflict, we would have been ejected out of the place hours before.”
When a member of the party began filming the exchange, the manager asked them to leave.
“I asked her I want to be clear with you,” Brown said. “I said, ‘So you’re telling me I have to leave.’ She said, ‘I have a right to deny you service.’ I said, ‘So you’re asking me to leave because you’re upset because he was recording you, after we’ve waited for two hours, and after you’ve already pretty much discriminated on us,’ and she answered, ‘Yes.’”
The company offered Brown a free meal….
When phone calls to the Wild Wings Café corporate office were not returned, Brown posted a critical message about the restaurant on Facebook, after which the company promptly responded.
“We had a conversation,” said the restaurant’s chief marketing officer. “It was a really good conversation. He and many of his family and friends were there about a month ago, and they are regular customers of ours. So, they were having a going away party, and they just didn’t receive the experience that they have come to know and love.”
Brown was offered a free meal, which he was not satisfied with. “We weren’t there for a free meal,” he said.
Video at the link.
There was another shooting yesterday, this time in Florida: Deadly North Florida shooting spree ends in suicide; gunman, 2 former coworkers killed – OrlandoSentinel.com
If you have not read the details behind the shero from this past week…the one woman who stopped a massacre from happening in a Decatur Elementary School, you need to. Antoinette Tuff-Michael Brandon Hill: Atlanta school clerk says she talked gunman into surrendering.
Meanwhile, a quick update on Russia: Critics: Putin’s Olympic Security Decree Violates Rights
Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree to tighten security in the Black Sea resort of Sochi during the 2014 Winter Olympics, imposing restrictions on freedom of movement and assembly that critics said violated human rights.
The decree creates a “prohibited zone” encompassing much of the sprawling city, barring travel into Sochi by road without special permission and banning public gatherings “not connected” with the Olympics in high security areas on land and sea.
Putin has staked his reputation on the security and success of Russia’s first Olympics since the Soviet era and has ordered law enforcement authorities to prevent any attacks by Islamist militants based in the nearby North Caucasus provinces.
In early July, insurgent leader Doku Umarov revoked a previous order to refrain from attacking Russian targets outside the North Caucasus and urged militants to use “maximum force” to prevent Putin staging the Games.
Published in the official newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta on Friday, the decree enters into force on Jan. 7, a month before the opening ceremony, and expires on March 21, a month after the Olympics end.
Human rights activists said the restrictions were draconian.
Barring cars from outside Sochi restricts Russians’ freedom of movement and the ban on most public gatherings violates their constitutional right to free assembly, said Pavel Chikov, a human rights lawyer and head of the legal aid group Agora.
“Under such conditions the Olympics, which are supposed to be celebration of sport and democracy, will become the exact opposite,” prominent Russian environmental activist Alexei Yablokov said in a comment posted on the Internet.
“Nature is being destroyed, people are being evicted from their homes, and now it turns out that a state of emergency is being imposed,” he said.
Gay rights activist Nikolai Alexeyev said he planned to hold a gay pride march in Sochi on the opening day of the Olympics and that it could not be prohibited by presidential decree.
“Are the Olympics an emergency situation, like a war or a natural disaster?” Alexeyev was quoted as saying by the website grani.ru. “There has been no precedent in history in which peaceful demonstrations have been banned in a city where the Olympics were being held.”
Oh boy…that is one hell of a headache, something has to be done, but I get the feeling it ain’t happening.
There is an exhibit at The Met that ends today: The Metropolitan Museum of Art – P.S. Art 2013
This year marks the eleventh anniversary of P.S. Art, an annual exhibition of talented young artists from New York City’s public schools. The selection showcases the creativity of eighty-three prekindergarten through grade 12 students from all five boroughs and includes paintings, prints, sculptures, photographs, mixed-media works, collages, and drawings. Each piece demonstrates personal expression, imaginative use of media, close observation, and an understanding of artistic processes.
This juried exhibition is also a celebration of public school achievement in the arts. Dedicated art teachers support students’ creativity and help them look closely in order to respond to their worlds through art making. As students take art classes from one year to the next, they increase their understanding of art, sharpen their skills, and delve more deeply into their imaginations.
You can view a slide show with an essay written by some of the students at this link here: The Metropolitan Museum of Art – P.S. Art 2013: Student Artworks
Age 10, Grade 4
P.S./I.S. 49, Queens
Art Teacher: Katherine Huala
Chalk pastel on paper
Art comes from your heart and it’s full of magic. I remember drawing and doodling since the age of two. I feel that when I draw, I learn many amazing things. I would like to be an artist when I grow up.
I want you to feel the emotions that I am feeling in my drawing. Look very closely and notice that I am trying to show many different feelings in my portrait. I look quiet and in a good mood, but actually I want to show different feelings. One of my sides is a rainbow showing happiness, curiosity, and shyness. My other side shows sadness and upset feelings. I used many blues to show one strong feeling. My drawing shows that colors and lines may be used to show many different feelings.
Yasmine’s piece is a final work in a drawing unit in which students were asked to make an expressive self-portrait using line, shape, and color to describe a feeling or mood. Students were inspired by the work of Picasso, Matisse, Chagall, Kirchner, Soutine, and Delaunay. The artists spent time exploring chalk pastels, and we discussed how controlling chalk is more challenging than controlling oil pastels. Students practiced various blending and texture techniques to develop imaginative capacities and observational and expressive skills.
Yasmine is an incredibly committed and enthusiastic artist. Her work has subtlety and thoughtfulness, and is exemplary for a fourth-grade student. Yasmine’s drawing shows a deep understanding of line, shape, and color. I particularly like the way she considered gesture and point of view. The slanted shoulders and tilt of the head add to the expressive quality of the portrait. The way Yasmine blended the pastels and used various degrees of pressure to create different visual effects is very advanced.
Go look at the rest of the artwork selected, it is wonderful.
Okay, there was some fuss this past week on Bradley Manning/Chelsea Manning, and the use of pronouns…and wigs and lipstick. Well, I will post a couple of links and see what kind of reaction you have to them:
I have some thoughts on how Pvt. Chelsea Manning’s gender dysphoria was rolled out.
Let me begin by saying I’m going to give, and I’m going to advocate for, respect for Manning’s chosen name and publicly embraced gender, and I’m going to use female pronouns and call her Chelsea. That; however, comes with a mixed bag of emotions.
I’m going to respect Chelsea’s public request in part because of the Biblical teaching I learned as Pentecostal youth that I still embrace today: treat others as I want to be treated.
But as I respect her name and identified gender, I’m cognizant that Chelsea didn’t respect the trans community — the trans community of which I am a part — in how she came out.
Yesterday, Manning made this statement upon sentencing.
“I regret if my actions hurt anyone or harmed the United States. It was never my intent to hurt anyone. … When I chose to disclose classified information, I did so out of a love for my country and a sense of duty to others.”
Certainly the probability exists that people were endangered and possibly hurt. The deception in Manning’s words is his claim that he meant no harm. If you love your country, you do not violate oaths you have taken. You do not expose fellow citizens to peril. You do not provide classified and secret information to those who can and might make it available to enemies in time of war, and you do not do this as if your “practical joke” will cause harm to high officials in your government and other cooperative governments. You do not do these things lightly in a time of war.
So this morning, we awakened to the news that Bradley Manning is no longer a man but rather a woman – a woman to be called “Chelsea.” Really?
Following his sentencing to 35 years for leaking military documents to WikiLeaks, Bradley Manning now seeks hormone treatments and wants to live as a woman named Chelsea.
At left, Manning is escorted from a courthouse in Fort Meade, Md., on Dec. 22, 2011. At right, in an undated file photo provided by the U.S. Army, Manning is shown wearing a wig and lipstick. (AP Photos)
Without getting into the LGBT issues here or the legal intricacies of the degree to which what a prisoner “wants” should be obliged or where we draw lines re: necessary medical interventions on their behalf – I mean I have committed no crimes and would like to be 5’7″ and might want a LifeStyle Lift one day (will you taxpayers please fund it?) – without even asking if convicts have a right to a name change (spies do this all the time, after all) – I do feel it incumbent on me to ask what name could have been more ironic? Oh, wait! I know! Hillary Manning. Yes, that would be a tad more ironic!
You did it, Manning, so man up! To me, your name is Mudd!
Since I have lived under a rock since Tuesday night, I really don’t have an opinion on all of this. Blah…is what I feel at the moment.
Now just a few Hollywood links…
Let’s get this out of the way right off the bat – there’s nothing great about cutting off another man’s ear. So when we’re discussing the merits or otherwise of Quentin Tarantino’s invariably aggressive characters, let’s all accept that by “great” we don’t mean admirable. We mean memorable. And there’s a hell of a lot of them.
We set ourselves the task of whittling dozens and dozens of QT’s finest creations down to just 25. You can let us know how horribly wrong we are in the comments, but bear in mind that for every negative comment made, the editor picks one of us writers to suffer his infamous Five Point Palm Exploding Paycheck Technique.
Hmmm, I have to put Jackie Brown up there at the top…along with Odell Robbie of course. But then…Hans Landa was one hell of a NAZI.
On to Anna Gunn from Breaking Bad. Gunn plays Skyler White, the wife of bad guy and homicidal meth making monster, Mr. White. She wrote an op/ed for the NY Times about the hate her character receives on a daily basis around social media sites. Check it out: I Have a Character Issue
PLAYING Skyler White on the television show “Breaking Bad” for the past five seasons has been one of the most rewarding creative journeys I’ve embarked on as an actor. But the role has also taken me on another kind of journey — one I never would have imagined.
My character, to judge from the popularity of Web sites and Facebook pages devoted to hating her, has become a flash point for many people’s feelings about strong, nonsubmissive, ill-treated women. As the hatred of Skyler blurred into loathing for me as a person, I saw glimpses of an anger that, at first, simply bewildered me.
You should read the whole thing because she explains a lot, but I want to bring your attention to this:
At some point on the message boards, the character of Skyler seemed to drop out of the conversation, and people transferred their negative feelings directly to me. The already harsh online comments became outright personal attacks. One such post read: “Could somebody tell me where I can find Anna Gunn so I can kill her?” Besides being frightened (and taking steps to ensure my safety), I was also astonished: how had disliking a character spiraled into homicidal rage at the actress playing her?
But I finally realized that most people’s hatred of Skyler had little to do with me and a lot to do with their own perception of women and wives. Because Skyler didn’t conform to a comfortable ideal of the archetypical female, she had become a kind of Rorschach test for society, a measure of our attitudes toward gender.
I can’t say that I have enjoyed being the center of the storm of Skyler hate. But in the end, I’m glad that this discussion has happened, that it has taken place in public and that it has illuminated some of the dark and murky corners that we often ignore or pretend aren’t still there in our everyday lives.
As I said go read the rest, Gunn does bring up some valid points.
Then take a look at these responses from a few other online mags:
Is “Breaking Bad’s” Skyler White (Anna Gunn) the most hated woman on TV these days?
Judging from Facebook pages dedicated to loathing her, it certainly seems like it. And Gunn isn’t shy about admitting it upsets her … not just when it comes to defending Skyler — the wife of drug lord Walter White (Bryan Cranston) — but women as a whole.
“As an actress, I realize that viewers are entitled to have whatever feelings they want about the characters they watch,” Gunn, who is in her final episodes of AMC’s critically-acclaimed drama, wrote in a New York Times Op-ed.“But as a human being, I’m concerned that so many people react to Skyler with such venom. Could it be that they can’t stand a woman who won’t suffer silently or ‘stand by her man’? That they despise her because she won’t back down or give up? Or because she is, in fact, Walter’s equal?”
“It’s notable that viewers have expressed similar feelings about other complex TV wives,” she continued. “Carmela Soprano of ‘The Sopranos,’ Betty Draper of ‘Mad Men.’ Male characters don’t seem to inspire this kind of public venting and vitriol.”
Perhaps Gunn has a point. While Walt, Don Draper (Jon Hamm) and Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) got away with murder — at least in some cases — their stubborn wives somehow come out looking like the bad guys.
But online her character on the show, Skyler White, has earned a “bewildering” amount of fan vitriol.
Anna Gunn’s Just Trying To Understand Why People Want To Kill Her- Huffington Post
As Breaking Bad comes to a close (AHHHH!), hopefully cultural critics will be examining viewers’ vitriol against Walter White’s complex, long-suffering wife — which has been so severe it’s been termed “the Skyler White” effect and applied to other TV wives — at length. [Spoilers to follow.]
Just as it’s hard to pin down at what precise point that Cranston’s character became more Heisenberg than Walt, it’s impossible to say when in the series Skyler became the most hated female character on television. When she devised, businesslike, the elaborate gambling-addiction cover-up to tell Hank and Marie? When she bought the car wash and became complicit in Walt’s crime? The infamous “I fucked Ted” line, basically the only way she could assert her autonomy? The latter would be my guess.
Anna Gunn, who has watched the criticism of her character become criticism of her as a person, even to the point of death threats, writes for the New York Times:
A typical online post complained that Skyler was a “shrieking, hypocritical harpy” and didn’t “deserve the great life she has.” “I have never hated a TV-show character as much as I hate her,” one poster wrote. The consensus among the haters was clear: Skyler was a ball-and-chain, a drag, a shrew, an “annoying bitch wife.”
She points out that other wives of antiheroes on popular TV shows have elicited similar feelings, e.g. Carmela Soprano and Betty Draper. But unlike Mad Men or The Sopranos, in the last few seasons, for better or worse, Breaking Bad has indulged in a certain fan-boy attitude towards its leading man (during an old-school Western standoff: “You’re Heisenberg.” “You’re damn right.”) that might attract the kind of male viewers who actually root for “badass” Walt — and detest Skylar for being a buzzkill, fucking someone else and giving the guy all of Walt’s money, even changing physically. Maybe a viable explanation for the phenomenon is that the type of audience has changed.
Wow…again…take a look at the rest of those links.
And finally, last night we learned that Julie Harris passed away. I thought she was a hell of an actress. God I loved her in The Haunting! Anyway, here is her Obituary: Julie Harris, Broadway star, dies at 87
(Photo: Suzanne Plunkett, AP)
Julie Harris, one of Broadway’s most honored performers, whose roles ranged from the flamboyant Sally Bowles in I Am a Camera to the reclusive Emily Dickinson in The Belle of Amherst, died Saturday. She was 87.
Harris died at her West Chatham, Mass. home of congestive heart failure, actress and family friend Francesca James said.
Harris won a record five Tony Awards for best actress in a play, displaying a virtuosity that enabled her to portray an astonishing gallery of women during a theater career that spanned almost 60 years and included such plays as The Member of the Wedding (1950), The Lark (1955), Forty Carats (1968) and The Last of Mrs. Lincoln (1972).
She was honored again with a sixth Tony, a special lifetime achievement award in 2002. Only Angela Lansbury has neared her record, winning four Tonys in the best actress-musical category and one for best supporting actress in a play.
In the movies, she was James Dean’s romantic co-star in East of Eden (1955), and had rolls in such films as Requiem for a Heavyweight (1962), The Haunting (1963) and Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967).
Yet Harris’ biggest successes and most satisfying moments have been on stage. “The theater has been my church,” the actress once said. “I don’t hesitate to say that I found God in the theater.”
The 5-foot-4 Harris, blue-eyed with delicate features and reddish-gold hair, made her Broadway debut in 1945 in a short-lived play called It’s a Gift. Five years later, at the age of 24, Harris was cast as Frankie, a lonely 12-year-old tomboy on the brink of adolescence, in The Member of the Wedding, Carson McCullers’ stage version of her wistful novel.
The critics raved about Harris, with Brooks Atkinson in The New York Times calling her performance “extraordinary — vibrant, full of anguish and elation.”
“That play was really the beginning of everything big for me,” Harris had said.
The actress appeared in the 1952 film version, too, with her original Broadway co-stars, Ethel Waters and Brandon De Wilde, and received an Academy Award nomination.
Harris was born on Dec. 2, 1925, in Grosse Pointe, Mich., the daughter of an investment banker. She grew up fascinated by movies, later saying she thought of herself as plain-looking and turned to acting as a way of becoming other persons.
She made her stage debut at the Grosse Pointe Country Day School in The Hunchback of Notre Dame at age 14. In the years that followed, she studied drama in finishing school, prep school, Yale University and the Actor’s Studio.
Harris was married three times, to lawyer Jay I. Julian, stage manager Manning Gurian and writer William Erwin Carroll. She had one son, Peter Alston Gurian.
For a review of a couple of her movies I will post a two videos from Steve Hays aka Tired Old Queer…damn do I love this man…if you can catch some of her movies on TCM, please do!
East of Eden
Have a wonderful day, and see you all in September!
It’s being reported in Russian newspapers that Edward Snowden has left the tiny hotel room at Sheremetyevo International Airport that has essentially served as his prison cell for the past month. Although it hasn’t been officially announced that Snowden has accepted Vladimir Putin’s terms and been granted asylum, there really isn’t any other likely explanation for the news of Snowden’s exit from the airport.
Snowden’s lawyer Anatoly Kucherena, who also serves in the public relations department of the Russian intelligence agency FSB, told Russia Today that Snowden plans to live in Russia and get a job there.
NSA leaker Edward Snowden plans to settle in Russia and is ready to begin a court battle if the country’s migration service denies his asylum plea, Anatoly Kucherena, a Russian lawyer who assists the whistleblower, told RT.
“It’s hard for me to say what his actions would be in terms of a positive decision [on the asylum plea],” Kucherena said. “We must understand that security is the number one issue in his case. I think the process of adaptation will take some time. It’s an understandable process as he doesn’t know the Russian language, our customs, and our laws.”
“He’s planning to arrange his life here. He plans to get a job. And, I think, that all his further decisions will be made considering the situation he found himself in,” he added.
Kucherena expressed hope that the whistleblower’s plea will be granted, because the reasons which prompted Snowden ask for political asylum in Russia “deserve attention.”
Yes, and I’m sure that Kucherena’s employers at the FSB agree that Snowden’s four laptops full of secret NSA also “deserve attention.”
In my morning post, I recommended an article by Michael Kelley of Business Insider: The Intel In Snowden’s Head Could Be More Damaging Than The Material He Leaked. If you haven’t read it yet, please do. Here’s an excerpt:
National Security Agency whistleblower/leaker Edward Snowden reportedly flew to Hong Kong carrying “four laptop computers that enable him to gain access to some of the US government’s most highly-classified secrets,” raising the concern that data could have been compromised in China or Russia.
But the information in his head may be more valuable, and accessible, than highly encrypted files.
Beyond trying to acquire information about the 10,000 NSA files Snowden accessed in Hawaii, a U.S. adversary would want to learn from Snowden’s expertise of internal NSA processes — such as its recruiting and vetting processes — to gain insight into America’s decision loop.
“Snowden understood exactly how far he could push [the NSA],” Robert Caruso, a former assistant command security manager in the Navy and consultant, told Business Insider. “That, coupled with his successful exploitation of our entire vetting process, makes him very dangerous.”
Basically, Snowden “transformed himself into the kind of cybersecurity expert the NSA is desperate to recruit” while he simultaneously developed the moral convictions motivating his leak of classified documents detailing the NSA’s global dragnet.
This afternoon, reacting to the announcement that Snowden will stay in Russia and get a job, Kelley writes:
“He’s planning to arrange his life here. He plans to get a job,” Anatoly Kucherena, a Russian lawyer with links to the country’s intelligence service (i.e. FSB), told RT. “And, I think, that all his further decisions will be made considering the situation he found himself in.”
The situation he found himself in was being stuck in Russia after the U.S. voided his passport while he was in Hong Kong and Snowden flew to Moscow on a travel document from Ecuador‘s consul in London.
Kucherena, who sits on public council of the FSB, has been speaking for Snowden since July 12 — the day Snowden accepted all offers of support and asylum.
In the earlier of the two articles, Kelley linked to a July 12 post by Joshua Foust on Snowden’s airport “press conference” with members of Russian human rights groups. “Snowden’s… Defection?” I also previously linked (see comments) to the Foust post.
Foust began by noting the presence at Snowden’s airport press conference of Olga Kostina, who among other things “runs PR for the FSB (Russia’s successor to the KGB).” Foust wrote:
As a rule, when a cleared intelligence employee seeks refuge in another country running a hostile intelligence service while carrying gigabytes of top secret documents, that isn’t the behavior of a whistleblower. That is the behavior of a defector. The involvement of known FSB operatives at his asylum acceptance – and the suddenly warm treatment of HRW and Transparency International after months of government harassment – suggests this was a textbook intelligence operation, and not a brave plea for asylum from political persecution.
Foust goes on to discuss the involvement of Wikileaks in getting Snowden to Russia. I’m not sure how much to buy into this hypothesis, but it bears watching.
The Russians are very good at what they do. And so, to be fair, is Wikileaks. The anti-secrecy organization (well, anti-other-people’s-secrecy considering the draconian NDAsthey make employees sign) has a close relationship to a renown holocaust denier named Israel Shamir who brags that he is Wikileaks’ representative to the Russian andBelarussian governments. John Schindler describes the connection:
Not surprisingly, awkward questions followed including in The Guardian, not exactly a right-wing rag. Reports followed – all links here are to The Guardian, which given that newspaper’s current involvement with the Snowden case should indicate something – that Shamir, is indeed deeply involved in the Wikileaks operation: As “Adam,” Shamir (along with his Swedish son, a well-known anti-Semitic activist), has a key role in Wikileaks decisions, he was the editor of the group’s Russian-related US diplomatic cables that were leaked by PFC Bradley Manning, and perhaps most distastefully, he was involved in a smear campaign against the Swedish women who accused Julian Assange of rape (the reason he remains holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London).
Foust notes that Wikileaks originally criticized Russia as much as they did the U.S., but they joined Snowden in praising Russia’s supposed concern for human rights in a statement published on the Wikileaks web site. Again, I’ll wait and see how this plays out; but Foust suggests that Snowden’s defection to Russia might not have been an accident.
Most of Snowden’s most prominent defenders were in touch with him long before he chose to leak; Wikileaks, which has developed deeper ties to the Russian and Belorussian governments, apparently helped Snowden travel to Moscow. This looks like the first trickle of information before a bizarre — and complex — intelligence operation gets blown open in the public. That doesn’t mean Wikileaks wittingly participated (useful idiots abound) but I bet money U.S. counterintelligence officials are now wondering just how deep the Russia connection to Snowden — and, to Wikileaks — really goes.
I have no doubt the Greenwald cult followers will continue to defend Snowden, but anyone who thinks his laptops are going to remain secret (if they haven’t already been compromised) under these circumstances is completely delusional. There’s nothing anyone can do at this point but sit back and watch the show.
Hey all, Mona here…I have missed you all dearly, my Sky Dancing newsjunkies! Had some life-things keeping me out of the regular loop. Funerals and graduations…endings and new beginnings. That kind of thing. And, lots and lots of soul-searching. But, I guess you could say I’m “back” now. For better or worse I’m going to just dive right in and get my feet wet in the blogging pond…I’ll be using the frontpage this morning to spotlight a topic I wish was getting more attention from the national media. Not to worry, though–JJ will have your Wednesday news round-up fix later in the day! So be sure to check back in for that.
So, how many of you have been following the Marco McMillian story? I know Bostonboomer had mentioned it before back when McMillian was discovered dead in February. Well, the family is now demanding answers. Via the NYT:
Mother’s Letter to Sheriff
Frustrated by the pace of the investigation into the death, Marco McMillian’s mother, Patricia Unger, wrote to investigators regarding unanswered questions in her son’s case.
Click over to see the PDF for yourself. Key excerpt:
It has been over two months since my son, Marco Watson McMillian, was found murdered on February 26, 2013. Within this time frame, my husband and I have only received two visits/correspondences from you. The visit took place on February 26, 2013. During this visit, you informed us that Marco’s SUV had been involved in an accident and that someone else was driving the SUV. You also stated that Marco was not in the vehicle and that you were trying to locate him. The second visit took place on February 27, 2013, during this visit you informed us that his body had been found.
Last month, my husband, Amos Unger, contacted you via phone inquiring about the investigation. You informed him that the investigation was still ongoing and that you could not release any information about the investigation because you were trying to conduct it in a professional manner. You stated that you did not want any leaks to take place due to the family making statements to the press/media. However, I do not feel like the investigation has been done with professionalism. Listed below are unanswered questions/reasons why I feel like this investigation has not been conducted in an ethical manner:
Patricia Unger goes on to list some pretty appalling ethical and professional breaches, such as:
- The only identification of the body sought by the police from the family was through a cell phone picture.
- The family has yet to be introduced to any actual FBI agents investigating the case.
The final point of concern she raises, in her own words:
It has been reported in the press/’ media that you have a suspect in custody, Lawrence Reed. It has also been reported that family members and/or friends have stated that Mr. Reed informed them that he killed Marco in a “gay rape panic”. in this case, suspect and motive have been determined, so why is there still an ongoing investigation? Have other facts/factors been discovered that warrant further investigation? Also, it has been reported that Mr. Reed confessed to killing Marco by strangling him with his wallet chain. in that case, strangulation was the cause of death, so why is it taking so long for me to receive the death certificate? 1 know that this is a matter for the State Medical Examiner, but i would like to know if another cause of death has been or is being taken into consideration.
Pardon my Fraaaaanch, but what the fraggle rock kind of investigation is this? If Patricia Unger’s charges are true , the investigation into her son’s murder makes Mark Fuhrman’s antics in the OJ case look like a paragon of ethics. (Ok, so I’m hyperbolizing, but you get the point.)
The family held a press conference last Thursday. The family’s lawyer, Attorney Daryl Parks, is from the firm that represented Trayvon Martin’s family.
The virtual silence in the national mediaseems deafening to me. Other than local news coverage, the link above from LGBTQNation website (of the standard press release type reporting from the AP), and the NYT link above to the actual letter by McMillian’s mother, I have seen scarce coverage of this story. I don’t have any cable or digital converter, thus I don’t have a constant 24/7 IV-drip of cable news…so maybe I’ve missed whatever blip about the family’s questions and press conference may have been buried on the network formerly known as CNN’s Headline News. Anecdotally, I asked my daily newspaper reading/cable newsjunkie mother if she had heard anything about it, and shockingly…though unsurprisingly…my bringing it up was the first she had heard of it.
I’ve had to go on McMillian’s FB pages (both as mayoral candidate and himself personally) looking for answers. As a case in point, I found the NYT link to his mother’s letter through his personal page.
Marco’s future in politics was bright. To the right you can see him with President Obama and Representative John Lewis, as well as with President Bill Clinton. That he was the first “viable” openly gay black candidate for political office in Mississippi is both incidental and monumental at the same time.
It makes me worry–however fear-driven that may be–for this guy I posted about ever so briefly on my baby blog, LetThemListen, last month:
Alright, well I’ve said my piece. I’d love to hear your thoughts or anything else on your mind/reading list this morning. Take care and remember to stay tuned for JJ’s Wednesday Roundup later today.
My daughter’s cheerleading dinner is tonight, which is a big thing here in Banjoville. It means we get to drive 45 minutes to eat out at a fancy Japanese steak house… you know the ones where they cook on a hot grill right in front of you. So since I am writing this post early in the morning, I hope the links are not repeats from during the day.
First off, this is one huge mutthafukken egg! Watch this video report from BBC:
A rare giant bird egg is being auctioned at Christie’s auction house in London.
It was laid by an Elephant Bird in Madagascar and is thought to have been discovered by archaeologists in the late 19th or early 20th century.
The species became extinct sometime between the 13th and 17th centuries.
At 30cm tall and 21cm in diameter, the impressive egg is about 100 times larger than an average chicken egg, and larger than eggs laid by dinosaurs.
Far out innit? Check out the history of the Elephant Bird:
Elephant birds are an extinctfamily of flightless birds found only on the island of Madagascar. They comprised the generaAepyornis and Mullerornis. The reasons for and timings of their extinctions remain unclear, although there are written accounts of elephant bird sightings on the island in the 17th century.
The elephant birds, which were giant ratites native to Madagascar, have been extinct since at least the 17th century. Étienne de Flacourt, a French governor of Madagascar in the 1640s and 1650s, recorded frequent sightings of elephant birds. The famous explorer and traveler Marco Polo also mentions very large birds in his accounts of his journeys to the East during the 12th–13th centuries. These earlier accounts are today believed to describe elephant birds.Aepyornis, believed to have been more than 3 m (10 ft) tall and weighing close to 400 kg (880 lb), was at the time the world’s largest bird. Remains of Aepyornis adults and eggs have been found; in some cases the eggs have a circumference of more than 1 m (3 ft 3 in) and a length up to 34 cm (13 in). The egg volume is about 160 times greater than a chicken egg.
A bird that weighed 880 pounds! Geez!
Damn, that is one bad ass bird. Can you imagine coming across one of these things in the wild…wow.
And sticking with birds for the moment, True colors of some fossil feathers now in doubt (w/ Video)
Geological processes can affect evidence of the original colors of fossil feathers, according to new research by Yale University scientists, who said some previous reconstructions of fossil bird and dinosaur feather colors may now merit revision. The discovery reveals how the evidence for the colors of feathers—especially melanin-based colors—can be altered during fossilization, and suggests that past reconstructions of the original colors of feathers in some fossil birds and dinosaurs may be flawed.
In modern birds, black, brown, and some reddish-brown colors are produced by tiny granules of the pigment melanin. These features—called melanosomes—are preserved in many fossil feathers, and their precise size and shape have been used to reconstruct the original colors of fossil feathers. “The problem was that we had no idea whether melanosomes could survive the fossilisation process intact,” said McNamara. “Our experiments show that this is not the case. Our results cast a cautionary light on studies of fossil feather color and suggest that some previous reconstructions of the original plumage colors of fossils may not be accurate.” Using a novel experimental technique pioneered in the group’s recent study on the colors of fossil insects, McNamara’s interdisciplinary team simulated high pressures and temperatures that are found deep under the Earth’s surface. The team used feathers of different colors and from different species, but the geometry of the melanosomes in all feathers changed during the experiments. “This study will lead to better interpretations of the original plumage colors of diverse feathered dinosaurs and fossil birds,” said Briggs. “Fossils that have experienced relatively mild burial conditions will yield the most accurate reconstructions.”
There is a video at that link, you will find it fascinating.
Have you heard about the controversy over in England dealing with Richard III? A lawsuit has been filed….citing human rights issues. It seems strange to me…anyway here is the story: Richard III burial challenged on human rights grounds
The debate over the reburial of English King Richard III is heating up, with a group of the monarch’s supposed descendents challenging the University of Leicester on the plans for re-interment, basing their argument on human rights violations.
University of Leicester archaeologists discovered the bones of the lost monarch under a parking lot in Leicester last year, and they confirmed the king’s identity in February. The U.K. Ministry of Justice issued the university an exhumation certificate before the project began, giving them the right to decide where the king’s remains would be reburied, if found. That certificate hasn’t stopped the eruption of debate over the best spot for the burial.
From the beginning of the long search for Richard’s grave, the University of Leicester officials have stated that the king would be reburied in Leicester Cathedral, not far from his unmarked parking lot grave. But a number of Richard III enthusiasts say they’d rather see the king buried in York, a city where he spent about a third of his life.
Now, the Plantagenet Alliance, a group of about 15 people who claim to be relatives of the dead king, has released its intentions to file a legal challenge against the University of Leicester’s exhumation certificate. The challenge will argue that the Ministry of Justice is in violation of article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights, which affirms the right to respect for family and home life. [Gallery: The Discovery of Richard III]
According to the Alliance, the Ministry of Justice should have consulted the 15 relatives of Richard III before issuing the university a license to rebury the king as they wished. In a statement, the University of Leicester called this argument “particularly odd.”
“There is no obligation to consult living relatives where remains are older than 100 years,” the University of Leicester said.
In addition, Richard died without offspring. Any relatives are thus the descendents of his siblings, a relatively distant tie.
“Reinterment on the nearest consecrated ground is in keeping with good archaeological practice,” university officials stated. “Richard has lain in the shadow of St. Martin’s Cathedral, Leicester, for over 500 years.”
Seriously, the plans to re-bury Richard have been stated before they even found him under the car park. Seems like the powers that be in York are looking for a way to cash in on the find. This lawsuit has nothing to do with human rights…it has to do with money and more money than anything else.
The last link I have for you tonight is about Stanley Kubrick: Room 237 Review – The Shining Is Much Scarier Than You Thought
Nine different theories of the film are outlined in Room 237. These range from the somewhat obvious, like the uncovering of Native American themes and images, to outright conspiracy theories, like hidden proofs that Kubrick faked the moon landing. Even that crazy idea has some evidence to support it. Danny is wearing an Apollo 11 sweater during key scenes. Also, Kubrick changed the room number from the book. It was 217. He changed it to 237. The moon is 237 hundred thousand miles from the earth. Spooky, right?
That is all I am going to give you, just go read the entire review at the link.
Hope you enjoy your evening, I know that right about now I am sitting across from a sizzling grill, drinking plum wine and eating some damn good food.
This is an open thread.