February is one of the best months on TCM…the title of this post is a line from the movie Twelve O’Clock High (1949).
It is the first scene after the real footage of bombing raids shot by both the US allies and German combat film during the war. One of the administrators is drunk, and talking about all the letters he has written to the families of the airmen who have died. There have been so many of them….
Major Harvey Stovall: That is not why I am drunk tonight. I got drunk because I am confused. I was thinking, which is a thing a man should not do, and all at once I couldn’t remember what any of them looked like. I, I couldn’t see their faces, Bishop, Cobb, Wilson, Zimmy, all of them. All of you. They all looked alike, just one face. And it was very young. It confused me. I think I shall stay drunk until I’m not confused anymore.
Last night, this film from 1949 about World War II, something that I have seen so many times before…I even own the DVD. For some reason that one line hit me more this viewing than all the other times I have seen this movie. Why?
I don’t know…It is strange. Well, my grandfather was a mechanic on those planes during the war, so I guess that is why I always was fond of that movie. There was a connection to it.
You can see some more color pictures here: World War II in Color: American Bombers and Their Crews, 1942 | LIFE.com
As a jumping off point for countless bombing runs, including many in broad daylight, the United States Army Air Forces (the predecessor of the U.S. Air Force) set up bases in England during the war. In 1942, LIFE’s Margaret Bourke-White spent time with the Bomber Command — an assignment that LIFE shared with its readers in an October 1942 feature notable, although hardly surprising, all these years later for its triumphant tone:
The most potent U.S. force to hit the Nazis so far in this war is the Bomber Command, stationed in England. Operating Flying Fortresses, it is making attacks on German-occupied Europe as frequently as weather and operating conditions permit. To date, all the raids have been tremendously successful. From 25,000 feet, it has given a superb exhibition of precision bombing by hitting German factories, airfields, ships and oil refineries on the nose. In two months of operations, it has shot down more than 100 German fighters, lost less than six of its own bombers.
[NOTE: As the war dragged on, the bombers and their crews out of England would, inevitably, face steeper and more dramatic losses. On October 14, 1943, for example — "Black Thursday" — nearly 600 crew members and 60 Flying Fortresses were lost in a single raid against a ball-bearing factory in Schweinfurt, Germany.]
To photograph Bomber Command, LIFE sent photographer Margaret Bourke-White to the headquarters of Brigadier general Ira. C. Eaker, commander in chief of Bomber Command, and to one of the secret airfields from which the Flying Fortresses operate…. Miss Bourke-White’s pictures arrived in the U.S. just when the Bomber Command was making its biggest sorties. Flying Fortresses roared out over the Channel and attacked German industries in the Lille region. Another group of six Fortresses a few days before dropped 600-lb. bombs directly on the German airfield at St. Omer, France. On the way home they were attached by 35 crack Nazi pursuits. When the brief fight was over, at least 13 Germans were plunging earthward and the six Fortresses were sailing on. Another time a Fortress came back to England with one motor shot away, one disabled, a third missing badly, and with 12 cannon holes and 2,000 machine-gun holes in the fuselage. Still other squadrons of Fortresses scored better than 70 percent hits in their first two weeks of bombing operations over Europe. “Fantastic accuracy,” said the British.
Bomber Command was ready. It was confident that although still small, it would grow and grow, and as it grew, the intensity and terribleness of the attack on Germany would grow with it, until the skies of Europe would be blacked and its earth furrowed with American bombs.
The celebrity boxing match between rapper DMX and acquitted Florida killer George Zimmerman has been called off, its promoter said on Saturday after threats were made against him.
I figured it was more along those lines, and not the crap about “money not being everything.”
Looks like the US is not the only country getting hit by major snow storms: At least seven dead, 1,000 injured as heavy snow hits Japan
The heaviest snow in two decades has struck Tokyo and other areas across Japan, leaving at least seven people dead and more than 1,000 injured.
Up to 27 centimetres of snow was recorded in Tokyo by late Saturday, the heaviest fall in the capital for 45 years, according to meteorologists.
The storm hit Tokyo on the eve of its gubernatorial election. Observers say the heavy snowfall may affect voter turnout in the city of 13 million people.
On the new-earth front…check it out…Scientists find 800,000-year-old footprints in UK
They were a British family on a day out — almost a million years ago.
Archaeologists announced Friday that they have discovered human footprints in England that are between 800,000 and 1 million years old — the most ancient found outside Africa, and the earliest evidence of human life in northern Europe.
British Museum archaeologist Nick Ashton said the discovery — recounted in detail in the journal PLOS ONE — was “a tangible link to our earliest human relatives.”
Preserved in layers of silt and sand for hundreds of millennia before being exposed by the tide last year, the prints give a vivid glimpse of some of our most ancient ancestors. They were left by a group, including at least two children and one adult male. They could have been be a family foraging on the banks of a river scientists think may be the ancient Thames, beside grasslands where bison, mammoth, hippos and rhinoceros roamed.
Lots more at the link. Pictures here: 800,000-Year-Old Human Footprints Found In England, Extinct Hominid Species Was ‘Fully Bipedal’ [PHOTO]
In Tampa Florida, specifically West Tampa, a little scheme is being put together. The mayor is working to rid the area of the “projects” and “relocate” the residents….I don’t know, when I saw this in the news it made me laugh in a sarcastic way. Tampa officials unveil draft plan to redevelop area west of Hillsborough River | Tampa Bay Times
“This is big,” Buckhorn said of the transformation envisioned for 120 acres west of the river and north of Interstate 275. “This is bodacious. This is exciting. This will be a game-changer.”
The proposed “West River” plan would start with demolishing the World War II-era public housing at North Boulevard Homes. The imposing concrete-block apartments would be replaced by a more traditional neighborhood with walkable streets.
A total of 820 apartments would be bulldozed, making way for more than 1,600 new townhomes and apartments. The new housing would include both subsidized housing and units that sell or rent for market rates. With more working- and middle-class residents, businesses on Main Street should see more customers, officials say.
“Market rates?” The thing that gets me is that there is very little outrage over this proposed “bodacious” project. Not that new homes is something way overdue, but the idea that the people living there are going to be kicked out…with no real guarantee of a place to live, that is worrisome.
But all this is too premature. There is no “funding” yet, so no big deal right now…
The rest of the links in quick fashion:
A virtually unknown novel by Charlie Chaplin — the only book the silent film comic ever wrote — is being made public for the first time.
“Footlights”, which will be unveiled in London later Tuesday, was written by Chaplin in 1948 and later transformed into his film “Limelight”, in which a washed-out clown saves a dancer from suicide.
The book is being published in English by the Cineteca di Bologna, an Italian film restoration institute which has been working with Chaplin biographer David Robinson on reconstructing drafts found in the Chaplin archives.
According to Robinson, the relationship between drunken clown and desperate ballerina in the much later “Footlights” was likely inspired by his meeting with legendary Russian dancer Vaslav Nijinsky in 1916.
The Cinetaca describes Chaplin’s “vivid, idiosyncratic” writing style which, “unadulterated by editors, moves freely from the baldly colloquial to moments of rich imagery and Dickensian description.
“For a setting, he looked back to London and the music halls of his first professional years, an enchanted period in which he had broken out of the deprivations of his childhood to discover, progressively, his unique gifts as entertainer and communicator,” the institute said in a statement.
“But this retrospect also recalled the painful insecurity of an uneducated, uncultured boy launched into the world of success”, and the clown’s expressions of despair at losing the world’s respect and admiration likely reflected Chaplin’s own feelings as his popularity dwindled.
The book can be found here: Libri, DVD & Gadgets – Cinestore
The New York Times says the book will also be available at amazon.com.
Did y’all see the Pussy Riot interview with Colbert? Pussy Riot Gives the Funniest, Best Colbert Report Interview Ever | Mediaite
It really was a great interview, and funny that after it got so much press this happened: Pussy Riot members announce split with freed duo
Members of Pussy Riot’s collective published a letter Wednesday in which they distanced themselves from Nadezhda “Nadya” Tolokonnikova and Maria “Masha” Alekhina and said “they are no longer Pussy Riot.”
“It is no secret that Masha and Nadia are no longer members of the group,” six anonymous members of the group wrote on their blog, “and they will no longer take part in radical actionism.”
They said they said they were “very pleased” with Tolokonnikova’s and Alekhina’s release from prison, and proud of their resistance against the ordeals they suffered, but said the collective could not support the inclusion of “institutionalized defenders of prisoners’ rights.”
“Yes, we have lost two friends, two ideological teammates, but the world has acquired two brave human rights defenders — fighters for the rights of Russian prisoners.”
Wow. That was a shitty way to tell the two to go chase themselves…personally I think Masha and Nadia should have told the group “Let’s blouse!” a lot earlier. 59 Quick Slang Phrases From The 1920s We Should Start Using Again | Thought Catalog
“Go chase yourself!”: “Get out of here!”
“Let’s blouse!”: “Let’s blow this popsicle stand!”
And now a few geeky links:
A scholar of the University of Oslo has cracked one of the rune codes used by the Vikings, revealing they were sending each other messages such as ‘Kiss me’.
For those of you who liked Breaking Bad: Starz Green-Lights Gritty Ballet Drama — Vulture
Starz has officially green-lighted its gritty ballet drama Flesh and Bone, the network announced today. The show, created by Breaking Bad‘s Moira Walley-Beckett, follows Claire, a gifted young ballet dancer with a dark, self-destructive past who is a new member of a rigorous New York ballet company.
This caught my eye, you should get a kick out of it: 12 Ridiculous Anti-Woman Myths From The Dark Ages That Conservatives STILL Believe
Have you ever been reading or watching a report about a conservative man who said something so incredibly backwards that you swore he was living in the Dark Ages? Well, you’re not so very far from wrong. The Dark Ages were dark partly because education was discouraged and science was suspect, leading to some astoundingly silly things being taken for fact. Like, for example, that the heart was the seat of intelligence. Or that frogs spontaneously generated from mud. As fun as those sort of ideas are to explore, this article will be dealing with beliefs about that strange and inscrutable being: Woman.
Finally, if you are into the Schadenfreude, you can get a few thrills tonight during the figure skating events on the Olympics. Or…you can just take a look here a few falls…watch them go sailing right out there: The 9 Most Epic Olympic Figure Skating Wipeouts Ever
Y’all have a good day, and share what you are reading about today.
I used to think of Twitter as a stream of consciousness thing, where
you type out a thought that comes to you…abstract, free-form and unassuming.
It just floated out there in the mass twit universe.
Facebook was more like a personal thought because it was “friends” or “family” that would see the shit you typed out into your little space on the wall.
More like a statement made out-loud…right?
I make statements out-loud at home all the time. Hell, don’t we all. I mean, sometimes I do it when no one is listening. (And lots of those times they include the words asshole and shithead preceded of course by the key adverb “fucking”) But when someone is listening in my home…they usually know what my thought process is and can complete the fragment of a statement I make even if I don’t state my case in a full and intelligent manner.
I realized the other day that I do the same exact thing here…in the comments. And it is funny because the same people who pick up on my cues here…are the ones who pick up on the shit I type out on my Facebook wall.
The was a little item in the news over the weekend, Rep. Steve King was talking out of his ass again…and of course it pissed me off. I mentioned it here and on my Facebook page. I think I called King a fucking asshole and posted a link to his comment:
Susan Wood, a George Washington University professor and former FDA official, told the all-male judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution that HR7 – which would make the Hyde Amendment permanent, ban federal subsidies for private insurance plans that cover abortion and would permanently block the District of Columbia from spending local tax money on abortion services – could “virtually eliminate abortion coverage from the private insurance market” and would especially hurt low-income women, threatening to push them “deeper into poverty.”
“While it may not seem like a big expense to a Member of Congress, in these tough financial times, for many people, abortion care costs more than their monthly rent, putting it out of reach for their family’s pocketbook,” Wood said.
When it came time to ask questions, Rep. King mocked Wood’s comparison of the cost of abortion to a month’s rent, wondering, “I wonder how many abortions a month does she need to keep up with the monthly rent check.”
My mind was working on his comical statement, considering his PLUBic stance on providing that woman and her fetus with funding for food stamps and other “welfare” assistance once that fetus pops out of the incubation hole and becomes a living breathing tax burden.
That is what I was thinking..but I didn’t write it all down. Do you all do that? I don’t know. Is it cause I am lazy. Or cause I just tend to write stuff here like you are my family and this is my way of talking to you all? It is a ridiculous observation…but there it is.
BTW, images are from The Antikamnia Chemical Company via BibliOdyssey:
After beginning his working life as a printer’s apprentice, Louis Crucius (or Crusius) completed the necessary requirements to graduate as a pharmacist in 1882 and a doctor in 1890 in St Louis, Missouri. While he was studying he worked in a pharmacy and made humorous sketches that were placed in the window of the store. A collection of these drawings was published in 1893 (‘Funny Bones’). He lectured in histology and anatomy and eventually came to be a Professor of Anatomy but died in 1898 from kidney tumours.
Although he gave most of his drawings away, Crucius sold a number of them to the Antikamnia (‘opposed to pain’) Chemical Company which had been established in St Louis in 1890. They produced antikamnia medicines containing the coal tar derivative, acetanilid, an anti-fever drug with pain relieving properties somewhat related to paracetamol, but which would be later shown to be a toxic compound not to mention addictive. Antikamnia was mixed with substances like codeine and quinine to enhance the pain relieving effects.
30 of the Crucius ‘dance of death’-inspired drawings were used to make 5 years worth of Antikamnia Chemical Company calendars – between 1897 and 1901. They had a fairly aggressive marketing campaign in which the calendars (aimed at the medical fraternity) as well as postcards and sample packs were distributed to doctors in the United States and overseas.
Now for the morning’s reads, starting with a series of links on the chemical spill in West Virginia.
As hundreds of thousands of residents faced a third day without water because of a chemical spill in a local river, a water company executive said on Saturday that it could be days before it was safe for them to drink tap water again.
Jeff McIntyre, president of West Virginia American Water, said that officials had set up four labs to test the amount of chemical in the water, but that it might take days to provide enough samples to determine whether the water was safe.
A state official also said that thousands of gallons more of the chemical had leaked into the river than was initially believed.
Not only that…but it turns out the company was not the one who notified authorities of the leak. It was the EPA. The amount of chemicals spilled was under-reported at first, and it sounds like the company Freedom Industries…fucking ironic isn’t it, is starting to cooperate a little more.
About 7,500 gallons of chemical was spilled into the river, about 2,500 more than previously estimated, said Mr. Dorsey, the state environmental official.
After local officials complained of problems communicating with Freedom Industries, Mr. Dorsey said on Saturday that the company had been more cooperative. “It’s in everyone’s best interest to communicate well,” he said.
State officials said the chemical 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, or MCHM, used in coal processing, seeped from the ruptured storage tank on Thursday into the Elk River, just upstream from the intake pipes for the regional water company. Exposure to the chemical, which smells like licorice, can cause headaches, eye and skin irritation and difficulty breathing, according to the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists.
This story is only going to get more disturbing as the investigation starts to delve deeper into the spill and the companies involved. For that I turn to the local newspaper, The Charleston Gazzette. Check these articles out, they are excellent and you need to read them in full:
This one details the discovery of the leak…Freedom Industries cited for Elk chemical spill by Ken Ward- The Charleston Gazette
When West Virginia inspectors arrived at Freedom Industries late Thursday morning, they discovered that the company had taken “no spill containment measures” to combat the chemical spill that has put drinking water supplies off-limits for hundreds of thousands of residents.
The state Department of Environmental Protection said Freedom Industries violated the West Virginia’s Air Pollution Control Act and the Water Pollution Control Act by allowing the chemical “Crude MCHM,” consisting mostly of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, to escape from its facility, just upstream from West Virginia American Water’s regional intake in the Elk River.
“It’s a bad situation,” said Mike Dorsey, chief of the DEP’s homeland security and emergency response division.
Dorsey said the tank contained about 30,000 gallons of material at the time of the leak, and that the company had pumped the rest of the material out and shipped it to another of its operations.
Dorsey has said DEP officials began an investigation after receiving odor complaints from nearby residents starting at about 8:15 a.m. The DEP and Kanawha County emergency officials traced the odors to Freedom Industries, which had not self-reported any sort of leak or accident, officials said.
So the company did not notify EPA…it was residents in the area that started to smell this shit who called the local DEP…and they were the ones who contacted Freedom Industries and told them they had a spill on company property. WTF? This is where you want to pay attention to the matter:
In an air-quality enforcement order, the DEP said air-quality officials who arrived at the site at 11:10 a.m. “discovered that no spill containment measures had been initiated and that an accumulating MCHM leak pool was seeping thru a dike wall adjacent to the Elk River and a downstream oil sheen was observed.”
DEP Secretary Randy Huffman said more information needs to be gathered, but that it seems possible the spill into the river might not have been as bad if Freedom Industries had acted more quickly.
“Depending on when they knew [about the leak], had they put containment measures in place the instant they knew, it’s logical to deduce that there wouldn’t have been as much product in the stream,” Huffman said.
Oh yeah and you want more ridiculous ways Freedom Industries handled the situation?
Smells from the spill were reported early Thursday morning, but Freedom mostly stonewalled media inquiries — releasing only a bland news release through a public relations firm — until a 10-minute news conference Friday evening.
At the news conference, Freedom Industries President Gary Southern gave few details about the company, made several statements seemingly in conflict with what government officials have said, and was whisked away by a public relations handler with reporters still shouting questions.
Prior to the news conference, the most extensive public statement from anyone connected with the company came Friday afternoon from Kathy Stover-Kennedy, the girlfriend of Freedom Industries executive Dennis P. Farrell.
Stover-Kennedy stressed that the spill was an accident and said that Farrell has received threatening and frightening messages from people around the world.
“I’m not asking for anyone’s sympathy but a little empathy wouldn’t hurt. And just so you know, the boys at the plant made and drank coffee this morning! I showered and brushed my teeth this morning and I am just fine!” Stover-Kennedy wrote on her personal Facebook page.
“There has been criticism from many about how Freedom Industries is handling this,” she continued. “Denny is not a spokesperson and has no desire to be. His expertise was much needed elsewhere. If he had taken the time to talk to the numerous media networks, giving statements, he would not have been able to react to the situation and perform his job accordingly. It wasn’t his decision to hire a spokesperson and it isn’t his job to be one.”
Well, if you look at these links I am giving you here, it seems Denny did not do much…in the way of working his expertise. The Charleston Gazette is examining this leak, and the company, Freedom Industries, rather well…I wish there were reporters like these out there doing the same in other towns where industrial environmental disasters have devastated more than the water supply. (But then perhaps there is a reason for the silence too…) (And really, I could go further and add political governmental disasters as well but that would get me off on another tangent.)
Anyway, take a look at this…regarding the leak and what actions took place after it was discovered…and prior to? Why wasn’t there a plan? Key players knew of potential for Elk River spill By Ken Ward Jr. – The Charleston Gazette
Freedom Industries filed its “Tier 2″ form under the federal Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act. State emergency response officials got a copy. So did emergency planners and responders from Kanawha County.
Under the law, government officials are supposed to use chemical inventory information on Tier 2 forms, like Freedom Industries’, to prepare for potential accidents.
Armed with the forms, they know what facilities could explode, where large quantities of dangerous substances are stockpiled, and what industries could pose threats to things such as drinking water supplies. They can plan how to evacuate residents, fight fires or contain toxic leaks.
Sounds like that diagram from the movie Office Space, “Planning to Plan”
Those same agencies and public officials, though, have said they know little about the chemical involved. They’re all acting a bit surprised that this mystery substance was being stockpiled so close to a crucial water intake, and shocked that something like this could have happened.Water company officials are equally puzzled. For example, West Virginia American Water President Jeff McIntyre told reporters on Friday that his company didn’t know much about the chemical’s possible dangers, wasn’t aware of an effective treatment process, and wasn’t even sure exactly how much 4-methylcyclohexanemethanol is too much.
“We’re still trying to work through the [material safety data sheet] to try to understand the risk assessment of this product,” McIntyre said during a Friday-morning news conference. “We don’t know that the water is not safe. But I can’t say that it is safe.”
McIntyre said his company hadn’t at that point had any contact directly with Freedom Industries, and he wasn’t able to identify any previous efforts by the two firms to work together on emergency response planning.
“I can’t answer that question,” McIntyre said when asked about such planning. “I don’t have that information.”
Fred Millar, a longtime chemical industry watchdog in Washington, D.C., said the lack of better planning was an example of how the landmark emergency response law hasn’t been properly enforced around the country.
“Obviously, the whole idea of the chemical inventory reports is to properly inform local emergency officials about the sorts of materials they might have to deal with,” Millar said Friday. “It’s just head-in-the-sand to be ignoring this type of threat.”
But this next article is one that starts to peel at the toxic layer of protections “corporations” can muster when it comes to being people…Freedom Industries execs are longtime colleagues- by Dave Gutman The Charleston Gazette
Freedom Industries, the company whose chemical spill is responsible for the contamination of much of the Kanawha Valley’s water, has existed in its current form for less than two weeks.
On the last day of 2013, Freedom Industries, which distributes chemicals used in coal mining, merged with three other companies: Etowah River Terminal, Poca Blending and Crete Technologies, a Delaware company.
Poca Blending, in Nitro, and Etowah River Terminal, in Charleston, now comprise the two branches of Freedom Industries.
The company’s website says the Charleston branch, which spilled the chemical, “can process large volumes of chemical rapidly, and cost effectively.”
And what exactly is ‘Crude MCHM’? Few know – by Ken Ward Jr – The Charleston Gazette
That should really get you all up to speed on the spill in West Virginia. The rest of the links will be quick, in dump format after the jump.
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 Earth’s axis tilts at a 23.5-degree angle, which is what brings the seasons, and at the point of the winter solstice, the North Pole is tilted furthest from the sun. Starting Saturday afternoon, the tilt will begin shifting upright until the Vernal Equinox.
The solstice marks the start of winter in the Northern Hemisphere, of course. Although the hemisphere reaches its furthest from the sun Saturday, the coldest weather lags a month or two, with January and February, on average, colder than December here.
At the solstice, the Arctic circle is in 24-hour darkness, while it Antarctica is in full sunlight.
The moment of transition to winter has already been welcomed with a traditional ceremony at Stonehenge. BBC News:
Kate Davies, who manages Stonehenge for English Heritage, said: “We were delighted to welcome over 3,500 people to Stonehenge to celebrate winter solstice.
“The wind and the rain did not dampen the celebration. And the ancient stone circle was filled with the sound of song, drumming and chanting….
Claire, a pagan from Bristol, attended the event with her seven-year-old daughter. She said: “We arrived at 5.30am – it’s a wonderful place. You don’t have to be pagan to enjoy it – even the weather won’t put you off.”
From the Irish Independent: Hundreds gather at Newgrange for winter solstice celebration.
John Cantwell, (49), a healer and member of Sli an Chri or “Pathway of the Heart”, from Dublin, heralded the first ray of sun by blowing on handmade horn fashioned from a bull and ram’s horn as part of a large group of New Age and pagan celebrants who formed human circles linking hands at the base of the monument.
“Our ancestors who built this temple thousands of years ago were great astronomers and they knew something about the sun. I’ve been coming here for years and the majority of times, irrespective of the weather in Dublin or Belfast, the horizon is clear and we get an extraordinary experience of the sun like we do right now,” he said.
“It’s difficult to feel in any way negative about anything right now,” he told the Sunday Independent.
Here’s some background on Newgrange from the Guardian:
Compared to the vast crowds of druids and pagans expected to gather at Stonehenge on Saturday 21 December to celebrate the shortest day of the year, the winter solstice event at Newgrange tomb in County Meath, Ireland is a rather exclusive affair. Just 120 people get the privilege of standing inside the monument to witness the remarkable illumination that occurs when a beam of sunlight shoots down into the narrow corridor that leads into the chamber, flooding the entire 19-metre stone passage in a warm orange light.
The people who built this neolithic structure over 5,000 years ago were evidently keen timekeepers. Above the entrance to the Newgrange tomb, which takes the form of a large grass-covered mound, is a small “roof box” that is aligned to the rising sun, a piece of design believed to have functioned in the past as an indicator of the new year. And for six days each year, around the winter solstice, the effect is at its peak.
The article lists some other sites where the Solstice is celebrated, including the Great Serpent Mound in Southern Ohio.
Finally, in Iran the winter solstice is marked by an “ancient tradition” linked to Mithra, the sun god. LA Times:
The winter solstice may mark the longest night of the year, but for Iranians, it’s also known as Shab-e Yalda, a celebration with ancient ties that commemorates the triumph of Mithra, the Sun God, over darkness.
Feasting on fresh fruits from the summer season and reciting works by 14th century Persian poet Hafez, Iranians all around the world stay up to mark the start of winter.
“It’s not an official holiday in Iran, but similar to many other ancient traditions, it has become a significant cultural celebration observed by all Iranians,” said Bita Milanian, executive director of Farhang Foundation, a nonprofit that celebrates Iranian art and culture in Southern California.
The celebration, which translates to “Night of Birth,” has come to symbolize many things for Iranians, said Touraj Daryaee, a UC Irvine professor of Iranian studies.
“This is part of Iranian tradition where evil will run havoc on the longest night of the year,” he said. “So people gather to be together until evil is gone… it’s an old idea where you need protection from evil.”
When the sun rises, light shines and goodness prevails, he said.
In other news,
President Obama said yesterday that the revelations about NSA surveillance programs have “damaged America’s security and intelligence gathering capabilities.”
The president’s year-end press conference was sprinkled with laughter and seasonal well-wishing and covered Obamacare’s poor rollout, the health-care program overall, reasons for his planned absence from the Olympic Games in Sochi – and whether his sagging poll numbers reflected his “worst year” as president. But questions about surveillance and privacy resurfaced throughout.
Obama was asked how he viewed the NSA’s mass surveillance programs after a momentous week in which a presidential panel recommended scores of major changes, CEOs of Internet companies implored him to rein in the NSA, and a federal judge ruled that an NSA program that collects “metadata” on every American phone call likely is unconstitutional.
Referring specifically to the NSA’s metadata program, which stores data on every phone call made in America for five years, Obama defended the program while also promising to change it….
“It’s important to note that in all the reviews of this program that have been done, in fact, there have not been actual instances where it’s been alleged that the NSA in some ways acted inappropriately in the use of this data,” he continued. “But what is also clear is from the public debate, people are concerned about the prospect, the possibility of abuse. And I think that’s what the judge and the district court suggested. And although his opinion obviously differs from rulings on the FISA Court, we’re taking those into account.”
Obama is now on vacation in Hawaii.
J.J. sent me some weather news this morning: Big storm hitting U.S. this weekend. Once again, the bad weather is mostly in the South and Midwest. From EarthSky:
A monster storm system will affect millions of people in the United States during the weekend of December 21-22, 2013. It’s expected to produce a wide range of nasty weather – including severe thunderstorms, flooding, snow, and ice. If you’re in the eastern half of the United States, you will feel the full force of this storm either at home or if you plan on traveling this weekend. A potential severe weather outbreak is also possible across the U.S. Southeast from Louisiana into Mississippi and Arkansas. Meanwhile, Oklahoma has already been hit hard with significant icing across Oklahoma City and into Tulsa.
The local National Weather Service offices have been busy issuing plenty of watches and warnings all across the United States. Flood watches extend from the U.S. mid-South all the way into the Ohio River Valley.
There are four threats with this storm system. One of those threats has already occurred overnight across parts of Oklahoma as freezing rain fell (and as of Saturday morning, continues to fall) across a large part of Oklahoma City and Tulsa.
Read more at the link.
Here’s an interesting science story for you. From the LA Times: Sex, gluttony and hoarding marked evolution of flowering plants.
Never mind the selfish gene – the cellular family history of the oldest living species of flowering plants is marked by enough sex and gluttony to earn a place in Shakespeare’s folio.
The powerhouse organelles inside cells of Amborella trichopoda, a woody shrub that grows only in the humid jungles of New Caledonia in the South Pacific, gobbled up and retained the entire genome from the equivalent organelles of four different species, three of algae and one of moss, according to a study of the plant’s mitochondrial DNA published this week in the journal Science.
The results are the product of a years-long effort to sequence the full genome of the plant, a crucial step in solving what Charles Darwin once called “the abominable mystery” — the sudden flourishing long ago of several hundred thousand species of flowering plants.
An analysis of the nuclear DNA of the species, published in the same edition of Science, revealed that the plant is the equivalent of the animal kingdom’s duck-billed platypus — a solitary sister left behind more than 100 million years ago by what became a panoply of flowering, or fruiting, plants.
Read the rest at the link. More from Science Recorder: Oldest flowering plant genome explains Darwin’s ‘abominable mystery’
One question that plagued Darwin was why flowers suddenly proliferated on Earth millions of years ago. He referred to it as an “abominable mystery.” A new study published in Science by the Amborella Genome Sequencing Project decodes the DNA of the oldest living relative of those flowers, the Amborella. It grows natively in 18 spots and its reproductive organs are closed in by tepals, a hybrid between petals and sepals, Nature explains. It is also the only species in its genus, family and order, making it unique specimen to study.
The flower is the only link to the ancient flowers that covered the planet and is helping scientists understand the evolutionary processes that led to the 300,000 species of flowers that currently cover Earth.
“In the same way that the genome sequence of the platypus — a survivor of an ancient lineage — can help us study the evolution of all mammals, the genome sequence of Amborella can help us learn about the evolution of all flowers,” said Victor Albert of the University at Buffalo in a press release.
By comparing the genome of Amborella with other plants scientists were able to determine that about 200 million years ago a genome doubling event occurred that allowed the plants to take on new functions, such as flowering. They believe that the genome doubling may also have led to the diversification and spread of different species of flowers.
I’ll wrap this up with a couple of reactions to the Duck Dynasty kerfluffle.
This one from ABC News goes in the “Duh!” file: Phil Robertson and A&E Fight Not About 1st Amendment, Expert Says.
Kermit Roosevelt, a constitutional law professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, said the issue is not actually a First Amendment violation.
“The First Amendment, like the constitution generally, only applies to the government, so if the government stops someone from talking or punishes them, that’s a First Amendment issue. If a private person says I won’t hire you or let you be on TV anymore, that’s not,” Roosevelt said.
“The idea is we don’t let the government decide what’s a good opinion, but we do let individuals decide what they think is offensive and what should be rewarded and what should be discouraged. That’s the way the marketplace of ideas is supposed to work,” he said.
Roosevelt also pointed out that the U.S. has anti-discrimination laws that bar a company from firing someone for their race or religion, but allow it to fire someone if they have opinions the company doesn’t like.
“There’s a line that is difficult to draw between religious beliefs and religiously motivated conduct, but what the Supreme Court has said is you can’t treat people differently because of their beliefs but if those beliefs lead them to engage in certain actions, you can treat them like someone who had engaged in those actions for a nonreligious belief,” he said.
It’s really too bad that people like Bobby Jindal and Sarah Palin need an expert to explain how the first amendment works.
And from Darren Leonard Hutchinson at Dissenting Justice: Duck Dynasty and Discrimination: Firing Phil Robertson Will Not Advance Gay Rights Or Racial Justice! I’ll let you read Hutchinson’s argument at his blog.
Those are my offerings for today. What stories are you focusing on? Please post your recommended links in the comment thread.