Sunday Reads: GOP Men and the Glow-in-the-dark Jellyfish People Who Love Them

 

Hey...that does sound like a politician! Talking Shit!

Hey…that does sound like a politician. Talking out of their ass? Shit yeah!

In a world….

…where glow-in-the-dark mutant jellyfish fetuses have a 3 in 2 chance of being aborted and flushed down a pink commie Planned Parenthood commode…

….there is only one man brave enough to fight against all reason, science, and comedic ridicule to save them…

…that man, is Georgia Republican Tom Kirby.

 

Georgia Republican Tom Kirby: Defender of the Sea Jelly Veldt

Georgia Republican Tom Kirby: Defender of the Sea Jelly Veldt

 

But when Colonel Kirby, Defender of the Sea Jelly Veldt….comes up against a few no-good science loving bums…who question his reasons against mixing human DNA and jellyfish DNA…

…his plans to pass his “Save the unborn Jellyfish People Bill” run amok.

Will this Georgia Republican Protect Us From Glow-In-The-Dark Jellyfish People?

And yet…at the same time….save Gawd’s little sacred unborn glowing gift of life?

Coming to theaters this summer….

Giant_Jellyfish_01

JELLYMEN: The Miss Adventures of Tom Kirby

Giant_Jellyfish_04

 

Giant_Jellyfish_03

Oh he ain’t all that innocent.

Yup, the force is strong with this one…and if you think it is a fucking joke. IT ISN’T!

From Huffington Post:

jellyfish-comic-funny-animal-picture1Georgia Lawmaker Wants To Make Sure Embryos Don’t Glow In The Dark

A Georgia state representative is standing up for the rights of embryos: He wants to make sure they aren’t forced to glow in the dark.

Republican Rep. Tom Kirby, who has served since 2012, has posted a list of his top issues on his website. Among them he names the “ethical treatment of embryos,” which he notes includes a call to ban the mixing of human and jellyfish DNA.

The website states:

1273-20130107-JellyFishApocalypseWe in Georgia are taking the lead on this issue. Human life at all stages is precious including as an embryo. We need to get out in front of the science and technology, before it becomes something no one wants. The mixing of Human Embryos with Jellyfish cells to create a glow in the dark human, we say not in Georgia. This bill is about protecting Human life while maintaining good, valid research that does not destroy life.

Kirby also introduced legislation last week that would make it unlawful for “any person or entity to intentionally or knowingly create or attempt to create an in vitro human embryo by any means other than fertilization of a human egg by a human sperm.”

A reporter from a Georgia news station caught up with Kirby to ask for an explanation of his bill and why someone might want to mix human and jellyfish DNA.

“To make them glow in the dark is the only thing I know of,” he told Channel 2.

2008-03-24_jellyfish_dateHe also said he has not seen evidence that anyone in Georgia is trying to create human-jellyfish hybrids. “I’ve had people tell me it is, but I have not verified that for sure,” Kirby said. “It’s time we either get in front of it or we’re going to be chasing our tails.”

This is apparently not a new concern for Kirby. In a 2013 video posted on YouTube, he talked about banning human-animal hybrids.

“We’re going to stand up and say that Frankenstein-type science is not going to happen in Georgia anymore,” Kirby said. “That’s something that we really need to get rid of here.”

Sorry, but I had to quote that article in full…I could not help it. You have to forgive me. This is just fucked up beyond belief.

I mean, who needs “Frankenstein-type science” going on here in Georgia when we’ve got a proven Deliverance style of inbreeding program working in full force?

cg4f0affbea0017Here is Wonkette’s Blog on it:

Georgia Republican Will Protect Us From Glow-In-The-Dark Jellyfish People | Wonkette

Never say that Georgia Republican Tom Kirby isn’t fighting for What Matters. Many politicians enter public service because there is something in their hearts that compels them to do it, for the good of their people, and Georgia state Rep. Tom Kirby is no exception. He will protect Georgians from the scourge of human jellyfish fetuses, because that his is calling in life! You didn’t know this was a problem affecting Georgia? That is because you are clearly stupid, let Tom’s website (the URL of which inexplicably ends with “pretty photo”) tell you:

We in Georgia are taking the lead on this issue.

JellyfishTramuaCenterUnlike the other 49, who are carelessly letting the glow-in-the-dark people run wild.

Human life at all stages is precious including as an embryo. We need to get out in front of the science and technology, before it becomes something no one wants. The mixing of Human Embryos with Jellyfish cells to create a glow in the dark human, we say not in Georgia.

Leave that to South Carolina or Alabama, let Lindsey Graham and Alabama’s Chief Justice Roy Moore glow like gay nightlights, NOT IN GEORGIA. We are relieved that Tom will help us GET IN FRONT OF SCIENCE, because we all know what happens when science is in front of you, you learn things and make breakthroughs and suddenly everybody starts evolutioning each other, right in front of the children, NOT IN GEORGIA!

Tom just wants to make sure that when we do science, we are not destroying embryos, because Abortion, but we did not know that “light it up” was a third option between “let it become a beautiful baby” and “kill it!”

 

o-JELLYFISHAPOCALYPSE-570

A beautiful greenish glow in the dark jellyfish freak baby who will probably end up on food stamps and addicted to crack….fucking jelly welfare queens.

He has not seen evidence, you guys, of anyone in Georgia doing the people-jellyfish, but it’s something that we “really need to get rid of” and that “is not going to happen in Georgia anymore.” You know that thing when you are having a hard time making a joke because the joke is already written? That is happening to your Wonkette right now, it is tough. Also, you don’t want to be chasing your tails on this issue, because you know who ELSE has a tail? Jellyfish. (No they don’t.)

Kirby also says in this here video that he is concerned about getting jellyfish embryos to do sex to cow embryos, effectively making glow-in-the-dark cows, and that is A Outrage, because that is cheating at the rules of Cow Tipping, it’s not fair if one team’s cows glow and the other ones don’t.

Anyway, nobody send Tom this article about how humans actually ALREADY glow in the dark, it will give him wingnut nightmares and he will wake up crying, because he is such a dipshit.

Not only is he a dipshit…he is a symbol of what this Country’s elected office has become. A whole domed building of legislator dipshits, (well, except for the ones who bring ovaries to the Hill: Study: Women in the Senate Get Shit Done.)  These dipshits…bought and paid for by two rich ass dipshit brothers…set on destroying the world as we know it. Now when are we going to see a summer blockbuster movie about that?

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Now, I really have some disturbing links for you today, so what I am going to do is put them up first and then hit ya with a lot of fun stuff. Okay?

A new survey is out: Why femicide won’t end until we have a truly equal society | Life and style | The Guardian

Last week saw the launch of the Femicide Census, a list of murdered women that digs down into the internet like a terrible well. It was reported at length in this paper, in a piece that detailed what has changed since Karen Ingala Smith first started counting dead women in 2012, and contained tributes to some of the victims, pictured smiling and beautiful, looking off to the side of the photos, shy.

Since that piece was published though, it’s likely that in the UK alone, four more women have been murdered by their partners. This thing is going to take some time. The numbers continue to rise. These deaths are being defined not just as murders, but as “femicide”, because these are very particular deaths. These 150 women, the word acknowledges, were killed for being women. They were killed for being women because killing women is the endgame of inequality. So the word is important, because it defines their deaths as sexist acts, as tragedies that we are all witness to. The aim of the census is to connect the cases in order to analyse this violence properly, and then to end it.

Patterns are already clear. There were more than 64,000 sexual offences recorded by police last year, Ingala Smith tells me, and 1.4 million domestic violence assaults against women. “When men kill women,” she wants to stress, “they are doing so in the context of a society in which men’s violence against women is entrenched and systemic. When misogyny, sexism and the objectification of women are so pervasive that they are all but inescapable, can a man killing a women ever not be a sexist act?”

An aside: since the launch, reports of the census have inevitably been pissed on with the question: “What about the men?” Like the commenter’s cliché “Not all men”, it’s a question noisily applied to derail feminist arguments, and sometimes it is worth answering and sometimes, well, no. This time, the what-about-the-menners are claiming that in concentrating solely on female victims the census is itself sexist. But when men kill their partners they have usually been abusing them for years. When women kill, they themselves have usually been abused. In the decade up to 2012, 93.9% of adults who were convicted of murder were men. So.

Read more at the link, but to illustrate a point that this census makes…

HPD: Murdered woman filed harassment report 3 hours before fatal shooting near Med Center | abc13.com

Texas woman’s ex-boyfriend harassed her more than 140 times before shooting her dead: police

A 26-year-old single mother from Houston was shot and killed by her ex-boyfriend just hours after she reported him to authorities, KHOU-TV reported.

Investigators said the suspect went to Takita Mathieu’s workplace on Thursday afternoon and shot her before turning the gun on himself in an apparent murder-suicide attempt. However, he survived and was listed as being on life support as of Friday at a local hospital.

The Houston Chronicle reported that, according to witnesses, the suspect argued with Mathieu before the shooting. A semi-automatic pistol, believed to be the weapon, was found at the scene.

Mathieu had reportedly filed multiple complaints with the police about the suspect’s “erratic” behavior and harassment leading up to the shooting. Authorities said the man called her 140 times since she ended the relationship four months ago.

The victim’s cousin, Morris Williams, told KHOU that she was afraid to return to Houston after visiting family in Louisiana for Mardi Gras festivities.

“To see her daughter just to grow up without her mother is very sad,” Williams said.

What can you say to this woman’s daughter, who saw her mother trying to do the right thing by turning to the authorities and courts…ugh.

Nature Notes

Paul Rosenberg: The South’s true face of hate: Oozing nonsense from demented and influential corners of religious right – Salon.com

 

At the time I wrote for Salon in late August, (Michael) Peroutka had only recently convened a press conference, under severe pressure, in which he insisted that he wasn’t a racist—those who attacked him were—and that he had no intention of leaving the League of the South. However, in mid-October, just two weeks before the election, the Baltimore Sun reported that he had left the League, around the time my story had run, but for inexplicable reasons:

Peroutka, a Millersville Republican, said he left the group prior to Labor Day because he discovered statements members made on the subject of being opposed to interracial marriage were “contrary to my beliefs.” He would not elaborate.

Though his League of the South membership drew criticism during the campaign — “Everybody wants to talk about League of the South all the time,” he said — the decision to quit the group was not politically motivated, Peroutka said.

“I didn’t do it to bring up any political points,” Peroutka said. “I dont have any problem with the organization.”

Peroutka said he still stands by the group’s stances on self-government and conserving southern heritage.

The lack of any serious differences were further underscored, when Peroutka won the election, and was congratulated by League President Michael Hill. His resignation was kabuki theater, nothing more

Even in its own terms, the account was nonsensical, since he remains quite friendly with Hill, who is himself opposed to racial intermarriage. But that’s relatively common among Southern conservatives: about 20 percent of them held such views from 2000 to 2012, according to the General Social Survey. Given that the League of the South appeals overwhelmingly to this demographic, it would have been truly shocking if there weren’t members who felt this way. What did Peroutka expect to find there? Who’s he trying to kid?

At the same time, the League’s official policy since its founding had been opposed to racial integration in the private sector—artfully phrased by saying, “we believe in a Southern society that…. Values and sustains true freedom of association.” As Rand Paul will tell you, “true freedom of association” means discrimination. And Peroutka never had a problem with that.

In short, his resignation was just political theater: Peroutka needed an opportunity to perform the pretense of anti-racism, without actually doing or saying anything to alienate his like-minded base. That finely-tuned balance was precisely the point, and it worked perfectly with those who wanted to believe his performance, who were just enough to help him get elected in the GOP wave, with a little extra help from a Nixon-style, last-minute dirty-trick anti-gay robocall, which Peroutka also unconvincingly denied any knowledge of.

This is how Peroutka operates, a master of contradictory mixed message delivery, highly skilled at crafting beautiful lies in the best Southern tradition. He’s closely aligned with the Southern secessionist white supremacist base, but he’s particularly focused on trying to make it seem mainstream, spinning out an alternative-history view of the world. As happened here, this sometimes requires him to play distancing games, but he effortlessly paired that distancing with blatantly open assurances of continued allegiance.

Peroutka and Moore both make a similar basic argument. Its full-blown form runs as follows: Gay marriage is against “God’s law,” and the Constitution is based on “God’s law” (the Bible), ergo gay marriage is unconstitutional, and judges who say otherwise are violating their oaths, and need not be obeyed—in fact, they should be impeached, and if not, their continued officeholding may be grounds for (a) nullification and/or (b) secession, because it is a form of tyranny. Peroutka has openly touched all the bases on this argument, while Moore has at least gone as far as calling for impeachment, as Sara Posner reports, but no one should be surprised if he’s willing to go all the way. The ease with which he ignored a Supreme Court ruling—declining to stay the same-sex marriage order—certainly would suggest that he might be just as comfortable with nullification and secession as his good friend Michael Peroutka is.

That is just part of the middle of the article…read the whole thing at the link.

lol-speedbump-coverly-jellyfish

Louisiana Republican’s disturbing note to wife revealed: You’re ‘going to be a rape victim’

A Louisiana elected official accused of sexually assaulting his former wife watched pornography on his government computer and left a threatening note to his alleged victim, prosecutors said.

St. Bernard Parish President Dave Peralta was indicted in April on sexual battery charges in connection with an October 2013 attack on his then-wife, who is accused of handcuffing, tying to the ceiling, beating, and sexually assaulting.

The state Attorney General filed documents Thursday that described the incident and offers a possible motive and intent, reported the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

Investigators said Peralta, a Republican from Meraux, frequently viewed explicit videos depicting bondage and forced sex on his personal and work computers, and they also found a handwritten note that appears to threaten his then-wife with assault.

“Your going to be a rape victim,” the note reads. “Put on heels, skirt & a blouse you don’t care if it gets ruined. Text me when you are ready and come downstairs.”

The note is not signed or dated, but prosecutors said it was written by Peralta and discovered during a July search of his home.

[…]

The 107-page court filing accused Peralta of using his position to intimidate his former wife, who worked as a paralegal for the parish government.

Prosecutors said Peralta retaliated against his former wife after she tried to expose his alleged gambling addiction.

He also threatened to expose sexually explicit photos of her to force the woman to drop her accusations against him during their divorce proceedings, investigators said.

Peralta was also charged with felony stalking in another parish after he was accused of sending threatening emails to his ex-wife.

A grand jury is considering a possible malfeasance in office charge against him, as well.

This next one is unbelievably cruel: Cops: Baby Died After Couple Used Breast Milk for Porn Instead of Food

The picture of the mug shots are enough to get you even more pissed. The dude is smirking…

A pair of parents in Glendale, Oregon, were charged with murder by abuse this week in the starvation death of their seven-week-old son. According to local news outlet KPIC, police believe Amanda Hancock used breast milk for lactation porn “instead of feeding the child.” Stephen Williams, the father, also allegedly worked in online porn.

Deputies from the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office responded to a call about an infant in distress on January 22. Data Hancock, the baby boy, died on the scene, and Williams and Amanda Hancock were arrested following a monthlong investigation, during which medical examiners determined that starvation was the time of death.

Hancock and Williams told police that they fed Data milk several times a day, KPIC reports, but admitted that they did not properly care for him in general. Williams said that he noticed that the baby was losing weight, but did not call a doctor because he believed that to be Hancock’s responsibility.

Speechless.

Ideology Seen as Factor in Closings in University of North Carolina System – NYTimes.com

An advisory panel of the University of North Carolina’s Board of Governors has recommended closing three academic centers, including a poverty center and one dedicated to social change, inciting outrage among liberals who believe that conservatives in control of state government are targeting ideological opponents in academia.

Conservatives are cheering the move, seeing it as a corrective to a higher education system they believe has lent its imprimatur to groups that engage in partisan activism.

Ugh…

sb1040518

ECHIDNE OF THE SNAKES: On Altar Girls at the Star of the Sea Catholic Church in San Francisco And Other Related Topics

A Catholic church there, the Star of the Sea,  decided to stop allowing girls to be altar servers.  Existing girls who are serving can continue but new ones will not be accepted.

Imagine how you would feel if you were one of those “mistake, oops” girls!  To allow them to continue doesn’t patch up the rejection.

But it’s all perfectly fine, because there are parents in the congregation who like the idea of boys-only (in a church of male-priests-only) and because the priest behind this “innovation,” one Joseph Illo, argues that the change is great for male bonding and makes sense as being an altar server could be the first step to becoming a priest and — duh — girls cannot become priests ever.  The logic is beautiful and very clear and in my divine opinion backwards.

The same Joseph Illo raised a few feathers more recently:

The Rev. Joseph Illo recently banned the use of altar girls at school and parish Masses at Star of the Sea, a decision opposed by some parents and staff.
Illo also upset families when he decided that non-Catholic students could no longer receive blessings during Communion, a decision he reversed after complaints from the school community.
And this week, parents revealed that Star of the Sea students as young as those in second grade received a pamphlet about confession late last year that referred to sexual topics such as sodomy, masturbation and abortion.

That was a mistake, Illo said Wednesday.
“Among the 70 items for reflection, some were not age appropriate for schoolchildren,” Illo said in a statement. “We apologize for this oversight and removed the pamphlet as soon as this was brought to our attention by the school faculty in December.”

You want to know what those pamphlets contained?

They asked questions such as, “Did I perform impure acts by myself (masturbation) or with another (adultery, fornication and sodomy)?” and, “Did I practice artificial birth control or was I or my spouse prematurely sterilized (tubal ligation or vasectomy)?” as well as, “Have I had or advised anyone to have an abortion?”
Riley Brooks, an 11-year-old student at the school, explained how he and his sixth-grade classmates responded to the material: they were “really grossed out.” “There was something about masturbation,” Brooks told the Chronicle. “Pretty sure abortion was on there, but I can’t remember. And sodomy. I don’t know what that means.”

Put all that together and Illo, a presumably celibate man in power inside a church which assigns most power to celibate men,  comes across as someone who just may have a slight problem with women and women’s sexuality.  The irony in that is more than I can quite absorb.

I can’t absorb it either.

 And one more: Never have online attacks on women been more visible, more denounced, or more effective | PandoDaily

As I read this piece in the Washington Post yesterday I felt sicker and sicker. It’s about the deep psychological toll that many feminist writers endure when they publish online.

The underlying problem is well documented. Thanks to the Internet and social media, a message can reach more people, via fewer gatekeepers, than ever before. But that freedom of movement for information has also allowed groups of highly organized trolls to pummel and pummel in highly targeted and efficient ways they couldn’t before. Often the targets of those trolls are women.

Women who receive this kind of daily onslaught are often faced with two possible outcomes: The first is that they stand their ground, knowing that the attacks will keep coming, and that they’ll likely spend the rest of their lives battling the damage to their psyche. Or, they agree to be silenced and spend the rest of their lives in a mixture of guilt and sadness that they “allowed” the bullies to win.

As I said, those were some heavy duty links. Be sure to take a look at the rest of the articles if you have a chance…I think you will find these interesting:

Tonight is Oscar night!

So in celebration of that, here are some movie linkish goodness~

22 Facts About Oscar Movies Too Interesting for the Show | Cracked.com

#21

 

[…]

#15

Go Figure?

I know that The Grand Budapest Hotel has a slim chance of winning for best picture. But if you have not seen it, please…go and check it out…it is wonderful!

The Grand Budapest Hotel’s Humane Comedy About Tragedy -by  | The Atlantic

Wes Anderson’s Oscar-nominated film does something few art forms have managed: It offers a funny, but respectful, reflection on the horrors of the Holocaust.

Like so many others, I spent last month’s 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz in remembrance of the Holocaust. I quietly contemplated the past, thought about family members who had survived, and those who had perished, attended a commemorative ceremony, said Kaddish, and shed some tears. And then I watched a comedy—Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel, which is nominated for nine Academy Awards at this Sunday’s ceremony.

How can comedy ever be appropriate when it comes to remembering such solemn events? I first asked that question about the film three years ago, before it was even made. At the time I was the U.S. Ambassador in Prague, and the filmmakers reached out to say that they were researching a movie set in the fictional land of Zubrowka (a stand in for the Czech lands) during the 1930s, concluding in 1938 and told in flashback from 1968 (two very bleak years in Czech history, marking the Nazi and the Soviet invasions). Would I help?

I hope that Anderson wins for best screenplay. Read the rest at that link, it is a good review.

Next up, an actual article written by Hattie McDaniel’s Defies Critics in 1947 THR Essay: “I Have Never Apologized” – Hollywood Reporter

THR has reprinted this essay by McDaniel…

Hattie McDaniel, the first African-American actor to win an Academy Award for 1939’s Gone With the Wind, wrote this touching piece in a 1947 issue of The Hollywood Reporter.

An utterance of a first century Jewish scholar, “I am became all things to all men,” can very aptly be applied to Hollywood — film city of the world. To the blue-nosed moralist, it is a city of gin and sin. To a producer, it is an exacting place of business. To the actor or actress, it is a powerful potentate, holding in its hands honor or oblivion. To the tourist from Salt Lake, or Peoria, or Milwaukee, Hollywood is a man-made fairyland.

Sixteen years ago, I was a tourist from Milwaukee.

Oscars: When Politics Takes the Podium at Academy Awards – Hollywood Reporter

Two separate polarizing debates attached themselves to the 87th Academy Awards long before the red carpets were unfurled. Are the dearth of African-American nominees and the low count of Selma noms indicative of a colorblind selection process, or of entrenched racism? Is American Sniper a chilling view of the personal costs of war, or unadulterated propaganda?

There’s a chance these pressure points will pop up during Sunday night’s broadcast from the Dolby Theatre. But will any potential eruptions dislodge one of these 10 historical moments of political theater as played out live on the Oscar stage?

1940: Hattie McDaniel’s Long Walk to Gold

Way back at the 12th Academy Awards, Hattie McDaniel won an Academy Award for best supporting actress, which on the surface is an ordinary big deal. An actress wins the best supporting award every year, and the film McDaniel was nominated for, Gone With the Wind, raked in eight Oscars. Hattie McDaniel’s big deal is that she was the first African-American ever to be nominated for an Academy Award, and she won it, too. When her name was announced in the Cocoanut Grove nightclub at L.A.’s Ambassador Hotel, McDaniel stood up, way back in the room, and started the long walk down toward the stage from the segregated dining table.

More at the link.

Brutally Honest Oscar Ballot No. 2: Voter Finds ‘Whiplash’ “Offensive,” Doesn’t “Get” ‘Birdman’ – The Hollywood Reporter

Anonymous Oscars voter rips Selma: There’s ‘no art’ to the film | theGrio

Hullabaloo– Saturday Night at the Movies Pre-Oscar marathon: Top 10 Movies about the movies By Dennis Hartley

And for the last link of the post:

DC Gives 11-Year-Old Girl Who Asked for More Female-Lead Content Her Own Superhero | The Mary Sue

Back in January we told you about Rowan Hansen, an 11-year-old comic lover who hand-wrote a letter to DC sharing her frustration over gendered toys and lack of representation for female fans.

Nearly a month later, Rowan and her message that “girls read comics, too” are still gaining traction, with the fifth-grader appearing on an NBC Today segment this morning to talk about her favorite heroes, the impracticality of most female battle armor, and accept a token of DC’s “commitment to fulfill their promise” to create more “superhero fun for girls.”

I say that this Super Rowan needs to star in her own Summer Blockbuster soon! I can’t wait to see SR kicking some anti-Jellyfish People, Science denying, PLUB women hating, GOP Mens Club members.

This is an open thread…yeah, I said open thread. You wanna start somethin’?

Hey…you lookin’ at me?

 


Wednesday Reads: History according to Lego and other things

5116b9018bff112970689c3d9157ac0b (1)Good Morning

If you want to kill some time today, check out these images of Lego greatness:

Over a thousand pictures here: Lego Art on Pinterest 

There is even a Klimt in this one:  Lego mania on Pinterest

e7a647c998afa3841b4466b2288f71a8And more artsy fartsy stuff here: Lego Creations on Pinterest

Why do I bring all this up? Because today’s post is going to center around popular culture and nothing represents that more than Legos…used as an artistic representation in historic museums.

As a history major, and a geeky one at that…you know being a wonky sort of history geek, specifically Medieval, I don’t know how to feel about this.

cf9c84490868a589aa2b87e5ad38672dI am so enthralled with these works of Lego art, the detail, the delight it brings…but there is also a part of me that thinks…Lego? Used in a legitimate archaeological/historical sense?  Then I slap myself and say, don’t be such a pompous ass JJ…get over your fucking self. These things are not your typical play toy Lego “houses” just look at the scale models the artist create.

The latest made its debut in Sydney this past month. LEGO Pompeii Excites New Audiences – Archaeology Magazine

 

Professional LEGO builder Ryan “The Brickman” McNaught has crafted a model of Pompeii at the University of Sydney’s Nicholson Museum, according to The Conversation. The project, which took more than 500 hours to complete and used more than 190,000 blocks, is one of the largest LEGO historical models ever built. The display shows three phases of the ancient city: as it looked in A.D. 79 when Mount Vesuvius erupted; as it appeared when it was rediscovered in the eighteenth century; and as the ruins stand today. Over the past two years, McNaught created a scale model of the Colosseum out of the colorful bricks, and the LEGO Acropolis, now on display at the Acropolis Museum in Athens.

This thing is amazing!

From the link to the University of Sydney’s Nicholson Museum above: Lego Pompeii creates less pomp and more yay in the museum

Lego Pompeii was painstakingly recreated from more than 190,000 individual blocks across 470 hours for Sydney University’s Nicholson Museum – it’s the largest model of the ancient city ever constructed out of Lego blocks. There is a mix of ancient and modern elements within the model’s narrative; displaying Pompeii as it was at the moment of destruction by the volcano Vesuvius in 79AD, as it was when rediscovered in the 1700s, and as it is today.c4583b144ba8bcad2c555720b7cfc100

The historical model is the exhibition centrepiece in an archaeological museum where, until recently, displays of Lego would have been unthinkable.

The Nicholson Museum, with collections of artefacts from the Mediterranean region, Egypt and the Middle East, is a place where visitors can expect to see Greek vases, Egyptian sculpture and ceramic sherds from Jericho.

Yet since 2012, the museum has commissioned professional Lego builder Ryan “The Brickman” McNaught to recreate three ancient sites made from Lego. Together these models represent an interesting experiment; attracting a new audience to the museum space and demonstrating the importance of fun in a museum context.

This is not the first rodeo for The Brickman…

The first Nicholson Lego scale model was a replica of the Colosseum in Rome.

The joy of the model was its ability to contrast the old with the new. Half the model featured the amphitheatre in antiquity; the other half featured the building in ruins with Lego modern tourists.

The model proved such a success it subsequently toured several regional NSW galleries and museums. It is currently displayed at the Albury Regional Art Gallery along with Roman artefacts from the Nicholson Museum’s collection.

The second model, opened in 2013, was the Lego Acropolis, which featured buildings of ancient Athens peopled with historical Greek figures. It is now displayed at the Acropolis Museum in Athens.

Go to the Nicholson Museum link to read the rest of the story, and how The Brickman studied and designed his Lego city of Pompeii.

 

Brickman is one of Lego’s Certified Professionals, these people have amazing jobs…check out some of the artist work at that link. (Mini Bios at that link too.) It seems that most of these LCP’s are men…but I have not researched enough of the culture to be sure of this…that is just my observation as I look through the websites and images. And, the one woman that is a Certified Professional is associated with education, autism, special needs and using Lego as a teaching tool. But I will just say this is only my thoughts on the matter. Let’s just go on with the post.

b9cbb10ad2d15a817e44c0d13bac09d1Alright then, how about that Blizzard? Here’s some pictures for you:

16 Images to Illustrate the Blizzard of 2015 – Scientific American

City dwellers in New York hoping to wake up to mountains of snow will have to content themselves with trawling Instagram pictures from New England. The blizzard of 2015—or really the #blizzardof2015 if we’re doing this right—brought less snow than expected to New York Cityb1e0bc0dc37ce8abac82abbe0b4ab9d5 and a number of points south. But to the east on Long Island and north throughout New England, the storm has lived up to, and in some ways exceeded, expectations with heavy snow and coastal flooding.

Snow totals are still being updated but as of Tuesday morning, a National Weather Service weather spotter has reported the highest total from the storm so far, with 30 inches in Framingham, Mass. Other central Massachusetts and South Shore locations have also piled up more than 2 feet of snow.

The second-highest snow total comes 28.5 inches measured in Orient, N.Y., on the far eastern tip of Long Island. In both places, wind gusts are piling up drifts and sending snow cresting over the eaves of houses.

 

Holy shit! I hope Boston Boomer and Pat, along with X and the rest of our Sky Dancing New England regulars…Sophie and…oh…I know I am missing some others too, are all doing okay this morning!a61ff5a45e146bf46ac0a26874a97a67

But there has been some complaining. For a look at the technical side of forecast, Cliff Mass Weather Blog: Forecast Lessons from the Northeast Snowstorm

The complaints swelled quickly this morning, both in the social media and the press:

8f4ee0d3ea03c4dd2131112f6d965d17National Weather Service forecasters had predicted two to three feet over New York City and adjacent suburbs for Tuesday and only about 8-10 inches showed up.

The city had been shut down overnight–travel banned on major roadways, mass transportation systems (e.g., subways) closed, schools and businesses closed–and all for a minor snow event!  A few samples from the press illustrates some of the commentary:

 

And then a National Weather Service forecaster even apologized for a  “blown forecast”, something that doesn’t happen very often.

And you had to expect that some global warming critic would use the forecast troublex to cast doubt on global warming predictions.

9a403543373ad0213d1e87763d4866e9So what is the truth about this forecast event?   As I will describe below, although the forecast “bust” was not as bad as it might appear, it did reveal some significant weaknesses in how my profession makes and communicates forecasts, weaknesses that National Weather Service director Louis Uccellini says he recognizes and will attempt to fix.

The general forecast situation was well understood and skillfully forecast starting on Saturday.   A low center (a midlatitude cyclone) would develop off the SE U.S. and then move northward up the East Coast–a storm commonly called a Nor’easter.  Here is a surface weather map at 4 AM PST this morning, when the storm was near its height.  e96907b49653ca28d24ede22ef46fb92In such a location, the storm can pull cold air off the continent while swirling in moisture from off the ocean.  The result is moderate to heavy snow to the west and north of the low center, as well as strong winds over the same areas.  Thirty years ago we could not forecast these storms with any skill. That has changed.

Go and read how it has changed at the link.

In other science-ish news, y’all know that big ass rock that flew by us Monday?

Best images! Asteroid 2004 BL86, as it swept near Earth | Today’s Image | EarthSky

A video still of asteroid 2004 BL86 and its newly discovered moon from Goldstone Solar System Radar.  The image is from last night (January 25).  Image via Slooh.com.

A video still of asteroid 2004 BL86 and its newly discovered moon from Goldstone Solar System Radar. Image via Slooh.com.

46a3a41c379e657d458b0dd6c3bcbbd1Well…turns out the thing has it’s own moon!

Check this shit out:

Asteroid that flew past Earth on Monday has a moon! | Science Wire | EarthSky

Radar images of asteroid 2004 BL86 confirm the primary asteroid is 1,100 feet (325 meters) across with a small moon 230 feet (70 meters) across.

Wow! Scientists working with NASA’s Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, California have released the first radar images of asteroid 2004 BL86, which flew closer to Earth on Monday than any asteroid this large will again until the year 2027. Closest approach was 1619 UTC (11:19 a.m. EST) on January 26, 2015. Nearest distance was about 745,000 miles (1.2 million kilometers, or 3.1 times the distance from Earth to the moon). The radar images confirm what other astronomers first discovered this past weekend, that asteroid 2004 BL86 has its own small moon!

cde3bc59f08305a4960d464aff53632aVideo and more info at the links.

Let us move from science to environment, but still on a pop culture connection…cause what else would you expect from something like this? Chinese Methanol Plant in Louisiana ‘Cancer Alley’ | Al Jazeera America

Uh, okay… I will just give you a quick overview of the area and the situation. This plant is poisoning people. These people are poor. They are people of color. Nuff Said!

This article is the second installment of a three-part series on China’s role in redeveloping southern Louisiana called China’s Louisiana Purchase. The first part investigated links between Chinese government officials, Chinese gas giant Shandong Yuhuang and Gov. Bobby Jindal.

ada6a7b045883973320c2fabe045b969Chinese company behind methanol plant in mostly black Louisiana town has come under fire for shirking health laws

ST. JAMES PARISH, La. — No one asked Lawrence “Palo” Ambrose if he wanted a Chinese company with a controversial environmental record to build a methanol plant in his neighborhood. But if they had, the 74-year-old Vietnam War vet would have said no.

A town hall meeting about it in July at St. James High School, which is close to the site of the plant, in a sparsely populated area with mobile homes and a few farms, took place only after the St. James Parish Council approved the project.

“We never had a town hall meeting pretending to get our opinion prior to them doing it,” said Ambrose, a coordinator at St. James Catholic Church. “They didn’t make us part of the discussion.”

The St. James Parish Council did not respond to interview requests at time of publication.

Edwin Octave, 92, who lives with his family in the area, agreed with Ambrose. “I don’t think the way they went about getting the plant was right. They bought the property before they tell people it’s going to happen.”

The area has gotten the nickname Cancer Alley. I don’t know the state of Louisiana is becoming more and more like the poster child for all that is bad and could be bad when fuckwads get elected and have shit everything up. “Literally.”

There is a term being used, it is called Environmental Racism.

‘Environmental racism’

St. James Parish gas station owner Kenny Winchester said he hopes U.S. environmental standards will be enough to prevent any abuses too detrimental to the health of his community. “There shouldn’t be a problem if they follow the rules,” he said. “If they take shortcuts, we’ll have a problem.”

But Malek-Wiley said that hope isn’t realistic. “It’s not feasible to just hope they will abide by regulations. Most of the industry environmental reporting requirements are done by companies without a secondary check with the Department of Environmental Quality or EPA,” he said. “In effect, if a company was doing wrong, it would have to write itself a ticket. I know every time I’m going down the interstate too fast and there’s no cop, I pull over and write myself a ticket … No, it doesn’t happen that way.”

297757e9be0827b6e7a5f1944c11c44eThe only way to tell if a company breaches regulations, he said, is “after the plant’s built, unfortunately.” An environmentalist nonprofit focused on opposing petrochemical pollution in the region, the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, could “teach folks how to take air samples in their community,” he said, and that tactic has led to “a number of companies to be fined for air pollution, but that’s after the fact.”

After successfully organizing legal bids around black communities not consulted on energy projects, Malek-Wiley believes that “with St. James Parish, they could have brought up concerns about environmental racism.”

f23e3a57ddb5ed39a0039b5531581e92Take this from Charles Blow, it dealing with yet another polluted area of Louisiana, a Superfund site… Louisiana Army Ammunition Plant near where Blow’s relatives call home:

Inequality in the Air We Breathe? – NYTimes.com

How could this plant have been allowed to contaminate the groundwater for 40 years? How could the explosives have been left at the site in the first place? How is it that there doesn’t seem to be the money or the will to more safely remove them? Can we imagine anyone, with a straight face, proposing to openly burn millions of pounds of explosives near Manhattan or Seattle?

3885f12203ffd8ab775e508c93499c3bThis is the kind of scenario that some might place under the umbrella of “environmental racism,” in which disproportionately low-income and minority communities are either targeted or disproportionately exposed to toxic and hazardous materials and waste facilities.

There is a long history in this country of exposing vulnerable populations to toxicity.

Fifteen years ago, Robert D. Bullard published Dumping in Dixie: Race, Class and Environmental Quality. In it, he pointed out that nearly 60 percent of the nation’s hazardous-waste landfill capacity was in “five Southern states (i.e., Alabama, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas),” and that “four landfills in minority ZIP codes areas represented 63 percent of the South’s total hazardous-waste capacity” although “blacks make up only about 20 percent of the South’s total population.”

More recently, in 2012, a study by researchers at Yale found that “The greater the concentration of Hispanics, Asians, African-Americans or poor residents in an area, the more likely that potentially dangerous compounds such as vanadium, nitrates and zinc are in the mix of fine particles they breathe.”

Among the injustices perpetrated on poor and minority populations, this may in fact be the most pernicious and least humane: the threat of poisoning the very air that you breathe.

I have skin in this game. My family would fall in the shadow of the plume. But everyone should be outraged about this practice. Of all the measures of equality we deserve, the right to feel assured and safe when you draw a breath should be paramount.

BTW, Bullard’s website with lots of links can be found here: Environmental Justice / Environmental Racism

I just get so damn sick about all this.

But if you want some more sick shit to read, the Koch Brothers.

Koch Bros To Spend Nearly A Billion Buying The 2016 Elections | Informed Comment

And again…going back to the pop culture of the day…that link will take you to an article and then a video with a discussion from Cenk Unger and Ben Mankiewicz .

In other news, something that is really becoming too frequent a headline. Yet another college athlete is accused of raping a woman…this time it is a swimmer. Fancy that? Former Stanford swimmer accused of raping unconscious woman on campus – LA Times

…former Stanford University swimmer will face several felony charges after prosecutors say he raped a  woman as she lay unconscious on campus grounds.

Brock Allen Turner, 19, is expected to be formally charged Wednesday with five felony counts, including rape of an unconscious woman, rape of an intoxicated woman and two counts of sexual assault with a foreign object, the Santa Clara County district attorney’s office told The Times.

Early on the morning on Jan. 18, prosecutors say, two men riding bikes on campus spotted a man later identified as Turner on top of an unconscious woman. Turner ran away, but the pair tackled him. A third person called police.

Turner was arrested, booked into the Santa Clara County Jail and released after posting $150,000 bail, prosecutors said. He’s scheduled to be arraigned Feb. 2.

It is a good thing those two bike dudes went after the asshole.

Just a few more pops on the pop links: Gabrielle Union Says Smart Things About Ferguson, the NFL, Hollywood

On the events in Ferguson and Eric Garner in New York, Yahoo points out that she generally tries to stay positive in her public comments and Union acknowledges that she makes an effort to be responsible about what she says publicly:

There’s a bit of a gap between what I really want to say and what I know is responsible to say. The general lack of compassion for your fellow man is really frustrating. I think what the protesters are saying, or at least some of them, is it’s not just about police brutality. It’s about a widespread systematic crippling of some people in this country by birthright, and no one’s acknowledging it. There may be a power shakeup if you’re really going to do something about it. A lot of people aren’t interested in that. They say, “It’s not that bad. We have Barack Obama. We’re good.” Or, “You’re not getting lynched.” They’re not acknowledging the institutional racism that impacts daily lives.

You should read the other things Unions says, it is nice to see a smart woman being quoted…too bad it probably won’t get much attention outside of Yahoo Entertainment and Jezebel.

 

Also, in History News, Seventy Years After Auschwitz, One Survivor Has Her Revenge – Truthdig

Eva Slonim was a child when she was taken to Auschwitz, where she was tortured and experimented on by Dr. Josef Mengele.

The camps that made up the Auschwitz complex were liberated 70 years ago by Soviet troops. But not before the Nazis killed 1.1 million prisoners there.

Slonim was held with her twin sister in a special section of the camp, which had to do with Mengele’s fascination with twins.

She tells the Australian Broadcasting Corp. she is still haunted by the trauma: “I have this madness about locking the bedroom door every night, and I have a light under the door so I can see if there are any boots there.”

But, Eva Slonim says, she got her revenge in the end, by producing a large family to take the place of the one she lost. She lives in Melbourne, Australia, and has 27 grandchildren.

 

Have you seen this?

Domino’s Unleashes the Most Terrifying Print Ad in History

 

Domino's Unleashes the Most Terrifying Print Ad in History

 

WTF?

 

Finally, let’s get a little Medieval on ya: Erik Kwakkel • A horse on wheels, what’s not to love? Great…

 

A horse on wheels, what’s not to love? Great post.

tumblr_nht2apEAmj1u7apwpo2_r1_500

manuscriptbook:

Medieval Connections to ‘Classical Roots’

This manuscript (British Library, Royal MS 20 D I) of the Histoire ancienne jusqu’à César (‘Ancient history up to Caesar’) is the earliest surviving manuscript of the second redaction of this work. This redaction, like this manuscript, was produced in Naples around 1330-1340. It focuses on the story of 904fe6f6198d33fe46a60189b543f8b4Troy, which is no longer taken from Dares, a supposed eyewitness of the fall of Troy, but from the prose version of Benoît de Sainte-Maure’s Roman de Troie. As a result, it is much more extensive.

The goal of these types of histories was to join the classical past and the medieval present. The author, therefore, did not always keep historical accuracy in mind if it did not fit his purpose. This allowed nobles to bind themselves and their families to classical founders.

I love that the horse is supposed to represent the wooden horse, and the scribe/artist drew the thing with wood-like knots and tree rings as the pattern of the horse itself.

But I wonder if a large wooden badger would not have been more appropriate?

 

Have a wonderful day and for Gawds sake…watch out for the Knights who say Ni!

 

The-Knights-Who-Say-Ni-monty-python-and-the-holy-grail-591173_1008_566


Wednesday Reads: Cold as…

4cb40d515e7b5135dfae67748180183eGood Morning

Already starting the second week of 2015 and things just aren’t looking like it is going to be a good year. (I am talking about the crap in Congress and so forth. Which it appears payback is a bitch: Payback? Two GOP Boehner foes kicked off House committee | Washington Watch | McClatchy DC)

So today the links are going to focus on main news items and a few history links.

The images you see are vintage magazine covers from the month of January…some may spark a memory or two…

Let’s start with the news that will be blasted all over the MSM this morning:

Tail Section of AirAsia Flight 8501 Found – NBC News.com

3fe65b2b2708627095905fc62aaaa50cThe tail of AirAsia Flight 8501 has been found in the Java Sea, the head of Indonesia’s search and rescue agency said Wednesday.

“The tail has been found,” Bambang Soelistyo, chief of the rescue agency, known as BASARNAS, told reporters at a news conference, adding that tail numbers were visible on wreckage. Finding the tail is significant because it may contain the plane’s voice and data recorders, or black boxes. Soelistyo said no black boxes have yet been found.

Tony Fernandes, CEO of AirAsia, said on Twitter Wednesday that “if right part of tail section then the black box should be there.”

“We need to find all parts soon so we can find all out (sic) guests to ease the pain of our families,” Fernandes said. “That still is our priority.”

They even have pictures of the tail from underwater:

IMAGE: AirAsia Flight 8501 wreckageBASARNAS
Wreckage from AirAsia 8501
BASARNAS
Wreckage from AirAsia 8501

From what the pictures show, it looks like the plane is upside-down.

a914e56ff66039042f3de8f72b69b01aAccording to the news in Australia, via the Sydney Morning Herald:

The discovery came within what’s now known as the “second additional area” — a search zone to the west of the original focus area, because strong underwater currents have been sweeping wreckage westwards.

Mr Soelistyo said divers would now be deployed to try to recover the bodies that his agency, Basarnas, is sure are trapped in the wreckage.

A number of bodies were found overnight, bringing the total of those recovered to 40 out of a flight with 162 passengers and crew.

18db33b7930caa45e0435775c3410b47As bodies floating free in the ocean are decaying fast, authorities hope most of the rest of the victims will be capable of being recovered from the four or more large pieces of wreckage believed to be on the ocean floor.

Basarnas and the Indonesian National Transport Safety Committee were now trying to find the black box using the pinger locator.

It also looks like there is some strange suspensions and such taking place. Air Asia is a airline that advertises flights for the average person…with a slogan of “now everyone can fly”…meaning they are not your high dollar air travel carrier. You can read more about their launch into Indonesia/Malaysia with budget flights here Air Asia X to launch UK-Malaysia flights – Telegraph, it is a link to an article from 2008.

f7c0daeb42a92dffc5dd566c277b86e4Anyway, keep this in mind as you read the rest of the article quoted below.

The breakthrough came as the government’s crackdown on what it sees as unauthorised flights continues, carrying grave risk for AirAsia’s reputation in Indonesia.

More airport and flight approval officials were suspended for allowing the doomed flight to leave Surabaya on a day (Sunday) that it was not authorised to fly the Singapore route.

The feared Corruption Eradication Commission, KPK, has been deployed to see if there was any corruption involved in that process.

But the government appears to have pulled back on its heavy-handed treatment of domestic AirAsia flight routes.

18eae36a15a3ac26e8f857af0da5e5a8On Tuesday, airport officials announced that they had banned AirAsia from flying five of its key Indonesian domestic services out of Surabaya airport, including three from Surabaya to the capital, Jakarta, one to Bali and one to regional centre Bandung.

But the general manager of the airport authority, Trikor Hardjo, said that, after the flights were cancelled, some more negotiations led to the suspension being revoked.

“The airline has already been asked for changes, and the permit was just issued for all of those flights,” Mr Trikor said.

The crackdown, followed by the backdown, seems to the be result of over-zealous regulation in an environment that is increasingly unfriendly and difficult for commercial operators in the wake of the crash.

f1ac0a20a234ff53e41cd64d614115cdA spokesman for the Transport Ministry, JA Barata, tried to clear up the confusion: “Those whose flying schedule is not in accordance with their permit must be suspended, but if the changes are only about flying time or hour, they should not be suspended,” he told Fairfax Media.

“The respective airlines can simply apply for new flying time to the respective division at Transportation Ministry. This is a regular practice and it is very simply done.”

More on the banned flights here: AirAsia banned from key routes amid government crackdown

AirAsia has been banned from flying five of its key Indonesian domestic services out of Surabaya airport as part of a government crackdown on previously unenforced regulations in the wake of the crash of flight QZ8501.

c6c679e9fab82573485b725c3546469dThe bans on the flights – three from Surabaya to the capital, Jakarta, one to Bali and one to regional centre Bandung – will deal another blow to the Malaysia-based low-cost carrier, which had already been suspended from the Surabaya-Singapore route entirely.

It’s part of a broader government crackdown on lax administration of flight permits from Surabaya Airport. The fast-growing Indonesian-owned low cost carrier Lion Air has been stopped from flying nine of its weekly services, and smaller aircraft Trigana and KalStar have also been affected.

aba4861f399e79ddee13b1af733b23d7And late on Tuesday, another airport, Medan, made a similar decision, banning AirAsia from flying its Tuesday Medan to Palembang service.

The general manager of Indonesia’s airport authority, Trikor Hardjo, said he had made the decision because the airlines had changed aspects of their scheduling and so lacked permits to fly some services. He told news portal Detik.com he had, “tightened the rules of the game”.

But the sudden move will cast Indonesia’s teeming aviation industry into disarray, and is likely to mean long delays for passengers as they are transferred to other flights.

The Indonesian government’s regulation of its burgeoning airline industry has been 76ecc7571a20813e7f859ad401d3af0fjudged one of the worst in the world. The International Civil Aviation Organisation ranks its ability to administer aviation as worse than that in Albania, Kyrgyzstan, Cameroon and Burkina Faso.

Moving on.

There was another shooting last night, this time at a VA hospital in Texas: Gunman kills doctor, then himself, at VA hospital in El Paso, Texas – CNN.com

One person died Tuesday when a gunman opened fire at the El Paso VA Health Care System in Texas, Maj. Gen. Stephen M. Twitty told reporters.

“The alleged shooter is dead, and we have one casualty. That casualty is deceased. All other VA patients and staff are safe. This is an active crime scene, and the shooting incident is under investigation,” he said.

23c6318e6499e388ca6c7ee46a7f836aThe FBI is taking the lead on the investigation.

The Department of Veterans Affairs released a statement saying it was saddened by what happened.

“We will continue to cooperate fully with military and civilian authorities at Beaumont Army Medical Center. The safety and continued care of our Veterans and the staff will be our focus throughout this situation,” the statement read.

A Pentagon official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that a doctor was shot by a gunman, who later died from a self-inflicted wound.

The motive for the shooting was not immediately clear. The VA facility will be closed Wednesday.

3beeb5785d8233d3a7fb17ce4bdebf68Of course this violence is in addition to the bomb at the NAACP office in Colorado, Suspect sought after blast near Colorado Springs NAACP office | Al Jazeera America

Authorities are looking for a man who may have information about an explosion set off near the Colorado Springs chapter of the NAACP.

The Tuesday blast outside a barbershop next door to the group’s building caused no injuries, police said. There was only minor damage to the site which is which is about an hour south of Denver.

FBI spokeswoman Amy Sanders says an explosive was detonated against the building, but it’s too soon to know whether it was aimed at the nation’s oldest civil rights organization.

6d39fb3d340900572596efde6577c1ceSanders says a gasoline canister had been placed next to the improvised explosive device but it did not ignite.

She says investigators are looking for a balding white man in his 40s who may be driving a dirty pickup truck.

In other depressing news: Food stamp benefit cut may force a million people into ‘serious hardship’ | Al Jazeera America

I won’t quote that one, you can go and read the thing for yourself…

Now for a few history links, these are from the History News Network website:

History News Network | Ten Questions for Conservatives

036b3abd67977d3687ca9bb2d28d3fd2Now that the Republican Party―the conservative voice in mainstream U.S. electoral politics―has attained the most thoroughgoing control of Congress that it has enjoyed since 1928, it’s an appropriate time to take a good look at modern conservatism.

Conservatives have performed some useful services for Americans over the course of U.S. history. Alexander Hamilton placed the nation’s financial credit on a much firmer basis during the late eighteenth century. Determined to make knowledge available to all Americans, Andrew Carnegie funded the development of the free U.S. public library system in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. During the early twentieth century, Elihu Root and other conservatives played key roles in the establishment of international law. Also, in the mid-twentieth century, Robert Taft staunchly denounced the peacetime military draft, arguing that it smacked of a totalitarian state.

5ca53648bae56ab3b2bf4022f9e8fd20But, increasingly, modern American conservatism resembles a giant wrecking ball, powered by hate-spewing demagogues to undermine or destroy long-cherished institutions, from the U.S. Post Office (established by Benjamin Franklin in 1775 and enshrined in the U.S. Constitution) to minimum wage laws (which began to appear on the state level in the early twentieth century). Sadly, the rhetoric of modern conservatism―focused on small government, free enterprise, and individual liberty―seems ever more divorced from its behavior. Indeed, conservatism’s rhetoric and its behavior are often quite contradictory.

Is this allegation fair? There certainly seem to be plenty of discrepancies between words and deeds, and conservatives should be asked to explain them. For example:

Go to link and read the 10 questions…

b1b3b97dac591f892f8569563c9573f3Another HNN: History News Network | Why Historians Need to Refocus on the Importance of Emotion in History, Starting with Shame

Peter Stearns is a Professor of History and Provost Emeritus at George Mason University. He served as Provost from 2000-2014. This article was the basis for a presentation at the annual meeting of the American Historical Association in New York in January.

I offer here some brief comments on shame, its history, and opportunities in the history of emotion. I’ve been concerned, despite the impressive flurry of work on emotion by historians at major centers that have sprung up in several countries, that we’ve not maintained adequate connections with the other fields that dominate research on emotion, notably psychology and sociology.

3c4f074691233bfc73cd3eb3c6b51d2dAn update on shame serves as a case in point, where connections would stimulate new history research and provide needed data and perspectives for the social scientists.

We know one key thing about shame and history, thanks particularly to work by John Demos some decades ago. Widely displayed in colonial America, complete with public stocks, it declined in popularity by the mid-nineteenth century. Recent Googlebooks data confirm this, by the way. But after this core discovery, historians have been silent on the emotion.

Not so social scientists, who have been pouring out impressive amounts of work on current patterns of shame, and particularly the emotion’s harmful effects. Whether we’re talking about prisoners, children, or fat people, shame targeting simply makes things worse, causing resentment and sometimes counterproductive reactions.

41996a1f0a8739af8ccea611b9f24d9bSo how can history, which dropped the topic, now contribute?

 

You know what to do, right?

And one more…History News Network | The Nuclear Disaster You Never Heard of

This month, with little fanfare, Palomares begins its 50th year as “the most radioactive town in Europe.” If you’ve heard of Fukushima, Chernobyl, and Three Mile Island but are unfamiliar with Palomares, you might wonder why. All appear in Time’s top-ten list of the world’s “worst nuclear disasters.” Palomares moreover has been called the worst nuclear weapons accident in history. So why do so few people outside Spain know about it?

e2cbc5d764538cf951aeee715042dd21The cover-up and whitewash were figurative, also literal. Though four nuclear bombs were rained on Spain, many vaguely recall a lone “lost” bomb, fished out of the Mediterranean intact.

So what exactly happened? On 17 January 1966, a US Air Force B-52 collided with its refueling plane, killing seven airmen and dropping four hydrogen bombs. Conventional explosives in two detonated on impact with the earth, blowing them to bits and scattering radioactive plutonium—a mutagen and carcinogen—over the farming town of Palomares, population 2000.

3b58adbfbea88ef680e287694d39dccfEnglish-language journalists, though late on the scene, rushed their books into print, replicating oversights of the rushed cleanup operation and circulating the myth of a single lost bomb. Pioneering female foreign correspondent Flora Lewis screamed One of Our H-Bombs is Missing, borrowing a title from 50s Red Scare pulp fiction. Likewise demonstrating their national allegiances, British reporter Christopher Morris lamented The Day They Lost the H-Bomb and American science writer Barbara Moran, four decades later, decried The Day We Lost the H-Bomb.

Only New York Times correspondent Tad Szulc pluralized the threat with The Bombs of Palomares. He further measured the relative importance of events. “Although the long spectacular search” for the harmless fourth 8f0cabad322bda5e0210f42ba7ef1e5fbomb—at the bottom of the Med for eighty days—“was to overshadow the village’s radioactivity problem in [U.S.] public opinion, the contamination was in reality the most significant” calamity.

[…]

So what was of greatest significance in early 1966? In addition to the seven airmen, plus eight more killed in a Palomares supply plane crash, people in Palomares suffered—and still suffer—potentially fatal radioactive exposures. At the time, no was evacuated; no one was officially informed for six weeks. Even then, U.S. Ambassador Angier Duke told the international press corps an unconscionable lie: “This area has gone through no public health hazard of any kind, and no trace whatsoever of radioactivity has ever been found.” Why then were nearly 5000 barrels of dec16d08e92c2cc56ff2f34b77b63420hot soil and crops shipped away for burial in South Carolina? Why today is plutonium found throughout the food chain in Palomares? Why is radioactivity evident downwind, in neighboring Villaricos?

See, you need to go and read the rest of those article to find the answers to the questions.

I thought this was another interesting history link for you this morning: Nazi super cows: British farmer forced to destroy half his murderous herd of bio-engineered Heck cows after they try to kill staff – Environment – The Independent

Nazi super cows  British farmer forced to destroy half his murderous herd of bio engineered Heck cows after they try to kill staff   Environment   The Independent

Hitler’s drive to produce the perfect Aryan race was not confined to people – it also extended to a specially bred herd of Nazi-engineered cows, which have turned out to be so aggressive that a UK farmer has been forced to turn half of them into sausages.

ea33bef6157070158706d26e2c5fc2e1Derek Gow imported more than a dozen Heck super cows to his West Devon farm in 2009, nearly a century after they were first created in the 1920s.

But, Farmer Gow, who is the only British farmer to own the breed, has been forced to kill seven of his herd because the cows were so aggressive they repeatedly tried to kill his staff.

“We have had to cut our herd down to six because some of them were incredibly aggressive and we just couldn’t handle them,” said Farmer Gow, who said the meat made “very tasty” sausages that tasted a bit like venison.

“The ones we had to get rid of would just attack you any chance they could. They would try to kill anyone. Dealing with that was not fun at all. They are by far and away the most aggressive animals I have ever worked with,” he said.

87d5c03a956e279ab67f0f604421b76bThe aggressive breed was produced by German zoologists and brothers Heinz and Lutz Heck, whom the Nazi party commissioned to produce a breed of cattle based on aurochs, a species of extinct ancient wild bull.

Video at the link.

Hey, remember that time capsule that was found in Boston a couple of weeks ago? Time capsule that was in Massachusetts State House is opened – Metro – The Boston Globe

Using a porcupine’s quill, several small pieces of paper, a strip of polyester film, and a small metal pick that resembled a dental tool, Museum of Fine Arts conservator Pam Hatchfield carefully plucked history from a box Tuesday night.

b0823ee0eaef5aa88fa63e2e9bc0dce7The box was a time capsule, many of its items first placed beneath the cornerstone of the Massachusetts State House 220 years ago to mark the start of the building’s construction. The history came in many forms.

There were five neatly folded newspapers, a collection of 23 coins dating as far back as 1652, a medal depicting George Washington, a replica of Colonial records, and a silver plate commemorating the erection of the new State House.

History of time capsules: Boston statehouse time capsule opening.

ef49f1caebdfeb044306b2471551726eOne of the coins in the box, a Pine Tree Shilling, was printed in 1652 for the use of Massachusetts’ colonists, without the knowledge of the British monarchy.  Writing about the shilling, historian Mark Peterson tells the story of the colonists’ monetary defiance, which initially went unpunished during the king-less time of Oliver Cromwell. With the Restoration in 1660, Peterson writes, Charles II “demanded a reckoning of the colony’s conduct.” In a “dexterous act of verbal tribute,” the colony’s representative convinced the king that the pine was, instead, a royal oak, “the emblem of the oak which preserved his majesty’s life.” For the moment, Peterson adds, “the bluff succeeded.” Revere and Adams may have chosen to include the shilling as a token of the colony’s early independence.

b3a9a7f857425b953dce5f4f21a04cfdYou can find pictures and the full text of the plate at the links above.

From history to science:

Children’s vulnerability reflected in genes: Some children more sensitive to their environments, for better and worse — ScienceDaily

Some children are more sensitive to their environments, for better and for worse. Now researchers have identified a gene variant that may serve as a marker for these children, who are among society’s most vulnerable. The study found that children from high-risk backgrounds who carried a common gene variant were very likely to develop serious problems as adults, but were also more responsive to treatment.

4386fd551f87234730594976e89f415aBBC News – ‘Alien Earth’ is among eight new far-off planets

One of eight new planets spied in distant solar systems has usurped the title of “most Earth-like alien world”, astronomers have said.

All eight were picked out by Nasa’s Kepler space telescope, taking its tally of such “exoplanets” past 1,000.

But only three sit safely within the “habitable zone” of their host star – and one in particular is rocky, like Earth, as well as only slightly warmer.

e7a34aa1ab622434bc31a58cffd2b970The find was revealed at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society.

So Many Earth-Like Planets, So Few Telescopes – NYTimes.com

NASA’s Kepler spacecraft, now in its fifth year of seeking out the shadows of planets circling other stars, has spotted hundreds, and more and more of these other worlds look a lot like Earth — rocky balls only slightly larger than our own home, that with the right doses of starlight and water could turn out to be veritable gardens of microbial Eden.

As the ranks of these planets grow, astronomers are planning the next step in the quest to end cosmic loneliness: gauging which hold the greatest promise for life and what 37b75a4fc0f2cddf59e883bb8de338fftools will be needed to learn about them.

And finally…On the Open Road, Signs of a Changing Cuba – NYTimes.com

HAVANA — The signs of the times speak loudly in Cuba, sometimes through their silence.

A 17-hour drive across the heart of the island in a battered burgundy and gray 1956 Ford Fairlane included long stretches in which there was surprisingly little ideology on display, few of the billboards that once trumpeted revolutionary slogans.

55e81deb4c1c4840880d9726fa29d8acThose that remained had less of the nostalgic lilt of “socialism or death” and more of the eager pitch of self-help books or business management bibles.

“Florida advances through its own effort,” said a sign in the town of that name.

“Quality is respect for the people,” said another.

Another said simply, “Work hard!” — a notion stripped of the ideological imperative that used to complete the thought with phrases like “to defeat imperialism” or “to build socialism.”

Dispatched to Cuba in December after the surprise announcement by President Obama 736e62115c203f93b98b107d6f4aff1fe2bc7d89that he would renew full diplomatic relations, I set off on a road trip from Havana, near the west end of the island, to Guantánamo, at the east end.

The mileage chart on my map said the distance was 565 miles. It felt a lot longer sitting on the cream-colored, quilted vinyl seat of the Ford, which had lost a lot of its spring in the years since Fidel Castro swept into power.

The vintage Ford was not part of the original plan.

I think you will enjoy that long read. Pictures too at the link…

Hope everyone stays warm, we are very cold today in Banjoville. The low tonight is 7… So, what are you all reading about today?


Lazy Saturday Reads

 animals reading1

Good Morning!!

Maybe it’s just me, but I think today must be the slowest news day yet in 2014. I’ve gathered a hodge-podge of reads for you, some that look back over the past year and some current news stories that I found interesting or humorous. So here goes . . .

Looking back, I think the biggest story of this year has been the many events that have revealed how racist the United States still is nearly a century-and-a-half after the end of the Civil War and more than a half century after the Civil Rights Movement.

In the news yesterday: Driver Destroys Mike Brown Memorial, Community Rebuilds By Morning. From Think Progress:

A memorial set up in the middle of Canfield Drive where teenager Michael Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson, Missouri police officer in August was partially destroyed Christmas evening when a car drove through it. Neighbors and friends of Brown quickly came together to clean up the damage, rebuild the site, and call for support on social media….

Activists on the ground also reacted angrily to the Ferguson Police Department’s public relations officer, who told the Washington Post, “I don’t know that a crime has occurred,” and called Brown’s memorial “a pile of trash in the middle of the street.”

Since Brown’s death, the memorial has been a key gathering place for protests and prayers, and a receiving station for those that poured in from across the country to pay their respects and demonstrate against police brutality. Supporters also had to rebuild the memorial in September after it burned to the ground.

Also from Think Progress, photos of the some of the people who were killed by police in 2014.

silence-equals-violence-1

As you can see, most of them have black or brown skin.

Sadly, we know Brown and Garner were just one [sic] of many people who died at the hands of police this year. But a dearth of national data on fatalities caused by police makes it difficult to pinpoint the exact number of deaths. One site put the total at 1,039.

What we do know is that police-related deaths follow certain patterns. A 2012 study found that about half of those killed by the police each year are mentally ill, a problem that the Supreme Court will consider 2015. Young black men are also 21 times more likely to be killed by cops than young white men, according to one ProPublica analysis of the data we have. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also compiled data which shows that people of color are most likely to be killed by cops overall. In short, people who belong to marginalized communities are at a higher risk of being shot than those who are not.

Go to the link to see a table showing which groups are most likely to be shot by police.

Mother Jones has released its yearly list of top long reads of 2014. First on the list is The Science of Why Cops Shoot Young Black Men, by Chris Mooney. It’s about the unconscious prejudices that plague all of us. A brief excerpt:

On the one hand, overt expressions of prejudice have grown markedly less common than they were in the Archie Bunker era. We elected, and reelected, a black president. In many parts of the country, hardly anyone bats an eye at interracial relationships. Most people do not consider racial hostility acceptable. That’s why it was so shocking when Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling was caught telling his girlfriend not to bring black people to games—and why those comments led the NBA to ban Sterling for life. And yet, the killings of Michael Brown, Jordan Davis, Renisha McBride, Trayvon Martin, and so many others remind us that we are far from a prejudice-free society.

Science offers an explanation for this paradox—albeit a very uncomfortable one. An impressive body of psychological research suggests that the men who killed Brown and Martin need not have been conscious, overt racists to do what they did (though they may have been). The same goes for the crowds that flock to support the shooter each time these tragedies become public, or the birthers whose racially tinged conspiracy theories paint President Obama as a usurper. These people who voice mind-boggling opinions while swearing they’re not racist at all—they make sense to science, because the paradigm for understanding prejudice has evolved. There “doesn’t need to be intent, doesn’t need to be desire; there could even be desire in the opposite direction,” explains University of Virginia psychologist Brian Nosek ….

We’re not born with racial prejudices. We may never even have been “taught” them. Rather, explains Nosek, prejudice draws on “many of the same tools that help our minds figure out what’s good and what’s bad.” In evolutionary terms, it’s efficient to quickly classify a grizzly bear as “dangerous.” The trouble comes when the brain uses similar processes to form negative views about groups of people.

But here’s the good news: Research suggests that once we understand the psychological pathways that lead to prejudice, we just might be able to train our brains to go in the opposite direction.

Read much more at the second link above. Go to the previous link to see the 13 other stories on MoJo’s list of the magazine’s best 2014 long reads.

science deniers1

Also from Mother Jones, a list of “the stupidest anti-science bullshit of 2014.” Check it out at the link.

Another “worst of” list from The Daily Beast: 2014: Revenge of the Creationists, by Carl W. Giberson.

Science denialism is alive in the United States and 2014 was yet another blockbuster year for preposterous claims from America’s flakerrati.  To celebrate the year, here are the top 10 anti-science salvos of 2014.

1) America’s leading science denialist is Ken Ham, head of the Answers in Genesis organization that built the infamous $30 million Creation Museum in Kentucky. He also put up a billboard in Times Square to raise funds for an even more ambitious Noah’s Ark Theme Park. Ham’s wacky ideas went primetime in February when he debated Bill Nye. An estimated three million viewers watched Ham claim that the earth is 10,000 years old, the Big Bang never happened, and Darwinian evolution is a hoax. His greatest howler, however—and my top anti-science salvo of 2014—would have to be his wholesale dismissal of the entire scientific enterprise as an atheistic missionary effort: “Science has been hijacked by secularists,” he claimed, who seek to indoctrinate us with “the religion of naturalism.”

2) Second only to Answers in Genesis, the Seattle based Discovery Institute continued its well-funded assault on science, most visibly through Stephen Meyer’s barnstorming tour promoting his book Darwin’s Doubt. I was a part of this tour, debating Meyer in Richmond, Virginia in April. Meyer’s bestselling book is yet another articulate repackaging of the venerable but discredited “god of the gaps” argument that goes like this: Here is something so cleverly designed that nature could not do on her own; but God could. So God must have designed this. Meyer insists, however, that his argument is not “god of the gaps” since he says only that the anonymous designer was “a designing intelligence—a conscious rational agency or a mind—of some kind” and not the familiar God of the monotheistic religious traditions. For his tireless assault on evolutionary biology and downsizing the deity to fit within science, I give Meyer second place.

Go over to TDB to read the rest of the list.

Donald Sterling and Ray Rice

Donald Sterling and Ray Rice

Also in this vein, Talking Points Memo offers a list of worst sports stories: From Donald Sterling To Ray Rice: 2014 Brought Out The Worst In Pro Sports.

The past year brought out the worst in professional sports players, owners, and fans alike, from domestic violence scandals in the NFL to the removal of racist team executives in the NBA.

Of course, shockingly bad behavior wasn’t limited to major league football and basketball alone. The most decorated Olympian of all time, Michael Phelps, was just sentenced to probation for drunken driving. FIFA was enough of a mess to inspire a 13-minute Jon Oliver segment ahead of the World Cup this summer.

But even the most casual sports observer understands what’s at the center of the Washington Redskins naming controversy, or can form an opinion on whether Ray Rice should be allowed to play football again. The NFL frequently surfaced in the headlines this year for all the wrong reasons, and its domination on this list suggests the league needs to get its act together on a couple fronts.

Check out the list at the TPM link above.

gone-with-the-wind

Recently, I posted some links about the 75th anniversary of the movie Gone With The Wind and the racist attitudes it portrayed. Today Newsweek published a piece about the efforts to curtail the racism in the movie before it was filmed and released: Fixing Gone With The Wind’s ‘Negro Problem’

In the spring of 1938, Rabbi Robert Jacobs of Hoboken wrote to Rabbi Barnett Brickner, chairman of the Social Justice Commission of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, “Soon the David O. Selznick Studios of Hollywood will begin production of the play ‘Gone With The Wind.’ The book, a thrilling romance of the South, was shot through with an anti-Negro prejudice, and while it undoubtedly furnished almost half a million people in this country with many glowing hours of entertainment, it also in a measure aroused whatever anti-Negro antipathy was latent in them.”

Rabbi Brickner in turn wrote to Selznick. “In view of the situation,” he wrote, “I am taking the liberty of suggesting that you exercise the greatest care in the treatment of this theme in the production of the picture. Surely, at this time you would want to do nothing that might tend even in the slightest way to arouse anti-racial feeling. I feel confident that you will use extreme caution in the matter.”

Brickner wrote a similar letter to Walter White, Secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. White also wrote to Selznick, suggesting Selznick “employ in an advisory capacity a person, preferably a Negro, who is qualified to check on possible errors of fact or interpretation.”

In his reply to White, Selznick wrote, “I hasten to assure you that as a member of a race that is suffering very keenly from persecution these days, I am most sensitive to the feelings of minority peoples.” He added, “It is definitely our intention to engage a Negro of high standing to watch the entire treatment of the Negroes, the casting of the actors for these roles, the dialect that they use, etcetera, throughout the picture.

Read the rest at the link.

At Daily Kos, David Akadjian offered a list of 21 Ayn Rand Christmas Cards–a satire, of course, but Akadjian learned that Rand actually did send out Christmas cards, despite her atheism. Here are some of her odes to a selfish Christmas.

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ayn_rand_15_zps0998e992

I’ll wrap this post up with some current news stories:

USA Today: Thousands gather to honor slain officer in New York.

The Guardian: North Korea calls Obama a ‘monkey’ as it blames US for internet shutdown.

USA Today: North Korea suffers another Internet shutdown.

Seattle PI: Woman who bared breasts in Vatican square is freed.

Washington Post: Baby gorilla shunned by other gorillas to switch zoos.

Washington Post: Pakistani forces kill alleged organizer of school massacre.

The Telegraph: More than 160,000 evacuated in Malaysia’s worst ever floods.

Special for New Englanders from the Boston Globe: Will The Rest Of Winter Have Lower Than Average Snowfall?

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a stupendous Saturday!


Sunday Reads: Bridgmanite, how’s it hanging?

Let the Girl Down Gently -BAUMHOFER

Let the Girl Down Gently -BAUMHOFER

Good Morning

Don’t know about y’all but I am sick of the shitty news this past week. It is too depressing, and not in the usual way… This latest bout of “justice” has brought the feeling of hopelessness to the television screens in the form of anger, violence and disparity.

I want to say that this outrage over Ferguson is going to be the one event that will cause people to realize the real issues that this nation needs to address, that “Black Lives Matter” and that “Justice” should be blind to the color of skin…and that the “rule of law” applies to everyone, no matter “who” they are…

Remember the shitstorm after Newtown…and folks were saying, “Oh, this is the turning point…this is the massacre that will bring about change in the gun control laws.” I felt then the horrors we saw at Sandy Hook Elementary were not going to make a difference. And now, with another white man…a cop, getting away with murder of an unarmed black teen…we are seeing headlines in the news, protest on the streets, and I know that nothing is going to change.

I see the racism first hand every day. There are so many people who believe with all their “christian” souls that whites are the supreme race. Nothing will change this deeply held hatred and intolerance. Add to that the fact that it was a “law enforcement” officer who shot down and killed the (you can put the racist word of choice here) …hell, to these “good” people of the land, the police/sheriff/deputy are worshiped like heroes. (As long as they are white.)

These are the same people who put the GOP majority into Congress. They are the ones fucking with women’s rights. (You can read a summary about that here: Zandar Versus The Stupid: The War On Women, Post 2014 Midterms Edition) And they also are the voters who can sleep at night after giving power to some asshole that cuts food stamps for hungry families.(Ugh, more on that here: Less food stamps = more hunger. Duh! | Grist) What’s more, they actually agree with cuts to food stamps…cause in their moronic minds, who are the ones that receive and “abuse” food stamps? I will give you a hint, their skin is of the brown or black variety.

There is a post over at Salon that may explain the science behind the Republican mind: Why are these clowns winning? Secrets of the right-wing brain – Salon.com

But personally, I think it is because Republicans are racist. Most of the country is still very, very racist. Racist people are hateful people, and hateful people do not let up on anything….meaning they will vote for whoever is giving them the opportunity to distribute that hate on a wider audience. And nothing…I mean nothing, is going to change the way these people feel.

Now for today’s links in dump fashion…

The Earth’s most abundant mineral finally gets a name

“The discovery concludes a half century of efforts to find, identify, and characterize a natural specimen of this important mineral,” wrote the researchers, from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, CalTech and the University of Chicago, in the study.

 

bridgmanite_label.jpg__800x600_q85_crop

 

…named after Percy Bridgman, the “father of high-pressure experiments,” who won the 1946 Nobel Prize in Physics.

It will not allow me to quote from the article, so be sure to go and check it out.

In cop news, including Darren Wilson:

Darren Wilson resigns from Ferguson Police Department – NY Daily News

Photo: Police officer and young demonstrator share hug during Ferguson rally in Portland | OregonLive.com

Cops Who Shot Tamir Rice Didn’t Give First Aid — NYMag

WATCH: Denver Police Beat Man, Trip His Pregnant Girlfriend, Then Try to Delete the Evidence | Alternet

Addicting Info – Study Finds Police More Likely To Use Force Against Black Children When Officers Dehumanize Blacks

Hey, at least there was two cops on board this flight to restrain this nutcase: Masturbating Passenger Forces Emergency Landing on Virgin America Flight

I mean, we do need a police force. Just needs to be one that know what they are doing…before they do it.

But then, you all know that Here’s Proof Pigs Actually Do Fly (Almost) – ABC News

(And that article ain’t talking about cops!)

Okay, moving on…some op/eds”

In America, black children don’t get to be children – The Washington Post

Deep South justice in Ferguson – The Washington Post

This one is strange, maybe I am just off this morning: A deafening liberal silence on Ferguson | Al Jazeera America

it is by Chris Lehmann. Look at the part about Hillary at the end.

Now a few op/eds on other topics:

Where Katniss, Wonder Woman and Marvel’s new Thor come from – LA Times

Bill Cosby, UVA and Rape – NYTimes.com This one is by Nicholas Kristof, so just a heads up.

A Baby Coming Out of a Vagina Is a Vaginal Birth: There’s No Such Thing as ‘Natural’

Let’s stick with some articles on the subject of women:

Aspiring Politician Hopes Government Leaves Some Women’s Rights For Him To Gut One Day 

HullabalooDamn, she’s good…about the Notorious R.B.G. (Ruth Bader Ginsburg.)

HullabalooWhen geniuses had to be nuns

The Astonishing Rise of Angela Merkel– The New Yorker

Celebrating women’s rights heroes | Amnesty’s global human rights blog

A series of links about the First Daughters:

Republican staffer says Obama daughters are disrespectful and dress like bar sluts

Roger Ailes: Jesus Loves Me, Fuck You Hos

Congressional Aide Tells Sasha and Malia to Show a “Little Class”

And a bit of history for ya:

History of coffee: A London advertisement for coffee, chocolate, tea.

Sand Creek – Lawyers, Guns & Money  This link points out a book called Violence Over the Land: Indians and Empires in the Early American West.”

And this link via HNN is an article written by the man who wrote the book…Remember the Sand Creek Massacre – NYTimes.com

 

What were you thankful for this Thanksgiving holiday? This Is What America Was Most Thankful for This Year, State by State

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Click picture to see larger image.

 

Funny how those folks from the south are thankful for god’s word…salvation and forgiveness. Those are the same racist intolerant hateful people I was talking about up top.

Well, it took me longer than I thought to write this post out…have a “blessed day” you muddafuddas!


Sunday Reads: Blackout, Bomb Cyclone and Arctic Blast

5182571535f63fd9c45ce4d920207a6dGood Morning

There is a huge storm in the Bering Sea, this thing has had made itself over more than Madonna…Seriously!

The storm started out as a tropical cyclone, a typhoon named Nuri.

From there it transformed and became a northern bomb cyclone when it made its way into the cold Bering Sea…and this week, it is going to drag it’s big ass down across the Country…evolving into one hell of an arctic blast.

So y’all get ready, we are going to be in for some more images like the ones you see accompanying this post today.

(Most are from the polar vortex of last winter, but they were found on Pinterest.)

 

Polar Vortex winds...

Polar Vortex winds…

 

Yeah, this storm is kicking some ass up Alaska way. Amazing Images of Storm Heading to Alaska – ABC News

 

PHOTO: The storm temperature structure within the eye wall structure region of Typhoon Nuri is seen in this image.

The storm, remnants of Nuri, which was previously categorized as a typhoon, is currently packing hurricane-force winds that reached 180 miles per hour at its peak while barreling through the Bering Sea, and parts of the islands have already sustained winds of 40 miles per hour.

The storm is expected to be far stronger than Hurricane Sandy, which devastated parts of the Northeast in 2012.

 

Day 310: I'm just a little fascinated by the #storm system that's moving into the Bering Sea. #weather #windmap #akwx #alaska #365 #photoaday

A photo posted by Kerynn Fisher (@kerynn) on

 

This is no ordinary storm…Alaska storm becomes strongest in Bering Sea history

 

A massive storm in the Bering Sea, off the western Alaska coast and to the east of Russia, strengthened enough to be considered the strongest storm that the turbulent region has ever seen. It may not be an official record, however, as the minimum central pressure of 924 millibars (mb) was estimated by meteorologists, since the storm is over the open ocean off the Kamchatka Peninsula.

Thermalir

The previous record-lowest sea level pressure in a Bering Sea storm was 925 mb, set in October 1977 in Dutch Harbor, Alaska. This storm also likely sets a record for the strongest storm observed in the North Pacific Ocean, although the relatively sparse data for that region makes it possible that there were some stronger systems that were missed by ships or surface observing stations.

In general, the lower the pressure, the stronger the storm.

Since 5:57am ET *update* Fortunately Weather service: No damage reported in Bering Sea storm | Alaska Dispatch

 

 

f4423608dd480db03f9e37546b11dcd4And it is going to cause problems all over the US: Arctic storm: How bomb cyclone will morph into polar bomb (+video) – CSMonitor.com

The tatters of Super Typhoon Nuri battered the Bering Sea and its Aleutian Islands Saturday with historic winds and rains, as the rest of the US braced for the moment when the so-called bomb cyclone transmogrifies into something more like a polar bomb.

Snow could start falling in Montana and the Great Lakes as early as Wednesday, and New York could easily face temperatures 15 degrees below normal by next weekend as Nuri, now downgraded to a mid-latitude storm, forces a heavy wedge of Arctic air deep into the middle of the country and then across the South and East next week.

c8335c947083d17b74d9c30e2c34ccaf“This strong low pressure system will cause the jet stream to buckle, creating a ridge in the western United States and solidifying a deep trough in the Eastern US,” writes McCall Vrydaghs, a meteorologist for WHIO TV in Dayton, Ohio, predicting highs rising only into the low 30s for many parts of the country. “Keep in mind, if this same weather pattern were to set-up during the heart of winter, we would be looking at temperatures far lower.”

I think you will find this interesting…

ee5d0f968ba091dadc2f37517013817bThe Farmer’s Almanac has called for an early and cold winter for large parts of the country, but research into another early and thick Siberian snowpack suggests that the winter may hang on, as well, deep into next year.

“There’s a theory that the amount of snow covering Eurasia in October is an indication of how much icy air will sweep down from the Arctic in December and January, pouring over parts of North America, Europe and East Asia,” writes Bloomberg’s Brian Sullivan. “Last year, the snow level across Eurasia was the fourth highest for the month in records going back to 1967. In January, frigid temperatures dubbed ‘the polar vortex’ slid out of the Arctic to freeze large portions of the U.S.”

The storm that remained from Typhoon Nuri on Friday had a central pressure of 924 millibars, according to the NOAA Ocean Prediction Center, making it the most intense storm ever in the wind-whipped Bering Sea.

8aca9c18f251be31dbcbc96670f32fdaIn 1977, Dutch Harbor, Alaska, recorded the previous low pressure of 925 millibars during another real howler.

A “bomb” as a meteorological term is a drop in a storm’s central pressure of more than 24 millibars in 24 hours. What remains of Nuri is expected to drop as much as 50 millibars in 24 hours – arguably a “double bomb.” It’s that intense low pressure that’s going to buckle the jet stream as ex-Nuri bulldozes across the Bering Sea.

Let’s move on from Cold Arctic Blast to a new Cold War.

Can you believe it has been 25 years since the Fall of the Berlin Wall?

Seems like yesterday doesn’t it?

50 Things Only ’80s Kids Can Understand

40. The excitement in the air the day the Berlin Wall came down.

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Fuck! I think this deserves higher than number 40….but the fact that it was even included in this list from Buzzfeed (compared to some of the other items, like say #’s 1 and 7.)

Postcard from Berlin. A woman hiding her Deutsch Marks at Checkpoint Charlie on July 11, 1948.

Postcard from Berlin. A woman hiding her Deutsch Marks at Checkpoint Charlie on July 11, 1948.

Just that the Fall of the Berlin Wall is part of my ’80’s kid culture and history makes me so damn proud.It was a time when we could breathe easier…y’all know what I am talking about.

I do think it was something good that came out of the Reagan era. (I have to admit, I did like Gorbachev better than Reagan. But that was because even back when I was 10 years old during the 1980 Presidential campaign,  I knew Reagan would screwed Carter with that shitty display/take credit for the agreement/whatever to release the Iran Hostages.)

But anyway….back to the issue at hand. The Wall!

Remembering the Berlin Wall – Photos – The Big Picture – Boston.com

1961, Conrad Schumann became one of the most famous defectors from East Germany. Schumann was a 19 year old soldier on duty guarding the construction of the Berlin Wall.

1961, Conrad Schumann became one of the most famous defectors from East Germany. Schumann was a 19 year old soldier on duty guarding the construction of the Berlin Wall.

In 1961, East Germany erected a wall — initially barbed wire, eventually concrete — in the middle of Berlin to prevent its citizens from fleeing the communist country to West Germany during the height of the Cold War.

It has been reported that 136 people died while trying to escape, but the total number is unknown.

The wall finally came down at the beginning of November in 1989, part of the reunification of East and West Germany.

Here are images from this past weekend’s recognition of the construction of the wall 50 years ago, as well as historic images.

 

 

There are 30 photos at that link…

More images here:

The Berlin Wall – Don McCullin’s Lost Negatives – LightBox

Most people can still remember scenes from the wild days and nights of November 1989, when after decades of division, jubilant Germans tore down the Berlin Wall. But fewer can recall how the city looked in the weeks when the wall went up. The bleak undertaking began 50 years ago this month, on Aug. 13, 1961.

In the 12 years before the wall was built, some 2.5 million people fled East Germany to the West, most of them through the divided city of Berlin. The concrete-and-barbed-wire barrier, which eventually stretched 27 miles, separated the Soviet-controlled eastern half of the city from the western sectors administered by Britain, France and the U.S. At least 136 people were killed while trying to cross the border illegally.

One of the people who were there during the grim construction was British photojournalist Don McCullin

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“It could almost have been as if I had wandered into Christopher Isherwood’s Berlin. I met up with the correspondent but we didn’t work together. In the evenings we’d meet and I’d tell him what I’d photographed. I went straight down to Friedrichstrasse and started working with my Rolleicord of course, I was sitting on the biggest story in the world. I saw the East Germans drilling the foundations and building the Wall breeze block by breeze block.

The Americans were facing the East Germans across Friedrichstrasse and there was enormous tension. In places, Berlin looked like the war had finished just the day before. It was turning into the Berlin that John Le Carré was to describe. I watched the international photographers pass through. I was in awe of these professionals. I was like a little camera-club person from north London working with the camera my mother had retrieved from a pawnshop. But fate was waving some magic wand, directing me. It was so exciting. I felt I was in the right place at the right time, I had an almost magnetic emotional sense of direction pulling me to extraordinary places.”

These never before published photographs, made from negatives that were lost for decades, are a powerful record of the disbelieving Germans, witnesses to a wound being opened in world affairs that would take almost 30 years to close.

 

More images…The Rise and Fall of the Berlin Wall – Photo Essays – TIME

 

Now, as you look at these pictures, read this article from 2009…then continue on to the articles about the “new cold war.”

From June 30, 2009:  Almost 20% of eastern Germans wish the Berlin Wall never fell and preferred living under Communism | Daily Mail Online

Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, nearly one out of five eastern Germans wish it had never come down and preferred living under a communist regime.

According to a poll by the Institute for Market Research in Leipzig, 17 per cent of people in the ex-Communist east agreed with the statement: ‘It would have been better if the Wall had never fallen.’

‘In hindsight, the GDR with its socialism was a better state,’ the respondents also said, referring to the former communist regime.

East German guards look on as people from both sides begin hammering away at the Berlin Wall in 1989

Celebrations: East German guards look on as people from both sides begin hammering away at the Berlin Wall in 1989. A poll found that one in five eastern Germans wish it had never fallen

In addition, over half of easterners (52 per cent) said they felt like ‘second-class German citizens’ compared to 41 per cent who felt they were treated equally.

Despite this, 72 per cent of people said they were ‘happy to live in the reunified Germany with its social market economy despite all problems there have been rebuilding the east’.

The poll surveyed 1,001 people in the former East Germany as well as in East Berlin.

East German border guards look through a hole in the Berlin Wall after demonstrators pulled down the segment at Brandenburg Gate in Berlin

Slice of history: East German border guards look through a hole in the Berlin Wall after demonstrators pulled down the segment at Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.

a7755d14c25f509000b89d2b03a3caf5On the 25th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall: Gorbachev says world is on brink of new Cold War | Reuters

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev warned in a speech in Berlin on Saturday that East-West tensions over the Ukraine crisis were threatening to push the world into a new Cold War, 25 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Gorbachev, who is credited with forging a rapprochement with the West that led to the demise of communist regimes across Eastern Europe, accused the West, and the United States in particular, of not fulfilling their promises after 1989.

“The world is on the brink of a new Cold War. Some say that it has already begun,” said Gorbachev, who is feted in Germany for his pivotal role in helping create the conditions for the Berlin Wall’s peaceful opening on Nov. 9, 1989, heralding the end of the Cold War.7fadf0ffb943814e4c0f6bd73d36e01b

“And yet, while the situation is dramatic, we do not see the main international body, the U.N. Security Council, playing any role or taking any concrete action.”

Gorbachev warns of new cold war threat as Berlin marks fall of wall | World news | The Guardian

As Berliners watch 8,000 balloons being released into the night sky this evening, old divisions between east and west will symbolically vanish into thin air with them. Yet the runup to the festivities has already served up plenty of reminders that, 25 years after the fall of the wall that divided the city for three decades, the scars of history are hurting more than ever.

0e6b64302a4fc3d47258f093dc8a85b5Speaking at a symposium near the Brandenburg Gate yesterday morning, former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev warned that the world was “on the brink of a new cold war” and strongly criticised the west for having sown the seeds of the current crisis by mishandling the fallout from the collapse of the iron curtain.

“Instead of building new mechanisms and institutions of European security and pursuing a major demilitarisation of European politics … the west, and particularly the United States, declared victory in the cold war,” said the man behind the Soviet Union’s glasnost and perestroika reforms.

“Euphoria and triumphalism went to the heads of western leaders. Taking advantage of Russia’s weakening and the lack of a counterweight, they claimed monopoly leadership and domination in the world.”

The enlargement of Nato, Kosovo, missile defence plans and wars in the Middle East had led to a “collapse of trust”, said Gorbachev, now 83. “To put it metaphorically, a blister has now turned into a bloody, festering wound.”

712784f82e99c13c970f13624ea2a06aAnd even though Gorbachev has been outspoken against Putin before…

… Gorbachev backed the current Russian president’s stance over Ukraine, urging western leaders to “consider carefully” Putin’s recent remarks at the Valdai forum : “Despite the harshness of his criticism of the west, and of the United States in particular, I see in his speech a desire to find a way to lower tensions and ultimately to build a new basis for partnership.”

Such strong words of criticism, voiced by the man still affectionately known as “Gorbi” to many in Germany, came at the end of a week which has seen the value of the rouble tumbling dramatically as a result of western sanctions.

“Gorbi” gave an interview to CNN: Gorbachev: World leaders must work together – CNN.com

49bac25a3987cd19d51b8d9170de8d28Speaking to CNN in Berlin, where he is attending anniversary celebrations, Gorbachev called for efforts to rebuild trust between East and West and for leaders to again work together for the common good.

“A lot depends on America, Europe, Russia — they have to work together more productively,” he said.

“We have to reestablish the cooperation and the trust that has been destroyed. We must start by dialogue — we must meet and not just talk past each other.”

Well, another group of people who are refusing to come together…have a dialogue and work something out…are the chief assholes at Dish Network and the folks at Turner.

Check this latest shitfest out…Turner (CNN) /Dish Network dispute heats up | Radio and TV Talk

CNN for decades has been considered a “must carry” network on cable and satellite carriers since the 1980s.

60efe72c856dfb7ed3785d4bf5366b3eTo Dish Network, that isn’t the case anymore. For the past two weeks, its 14 million subscribers (13 percent of CNN’s audience) hasn’t been able to watch the network, including Election night, when CNN usually pulls in big numbers. Seven other Turner networks, including Cartoon Network, Adult Swim and TruTV, are cut off as well because the two sides have not agreed to a deal. (Turner’s more popular TNT and TBS channels are part of a separate deal.)

“When we take something down, we’re prepared to leave it down forever,” Dish Network chairman Charlie Ergen said during an earnings call yesterday using unusually sharp words. “Things like CNN are not quite the product they used to be.”

He then mocked their Malaysian plane coverage; “Twenty years ago, CNN was a must-have channel, but it’s not a top 10 network anymore … unless they find the plane, the Malaysian plane,” Ergen added.

339981dbe72880fcafb35992cd35f623Typically, a cable or satellite provider pays certain fees to air cable networks. There are also issues now related to airing those networks in the digital space.

 

Okay, I will not take any points with the criticisms on CNN, y’all know my beef is with the blackout of TCM. But the thing that gets me is this little nugget of info, emphasis mine:

Turner responded: “We are disappointed in the aggressive nature of comments from the Dish Network, particularly given the fact that Dish agreed to our rates and carriage proposal weeks ago….While there were clearly deal points to get done, they were not the type you would usually go dark over. So it is still unclear to us exactly what this dispute is about.

 

a885529065303f691cdd8d82dc55ca1dExcuse me? WTF? The bastards at Dish agreed to the terms already? But then poof, pffft….something happened and Dish fucks their customers by blacking out channels that those customers are STILL PAYING FOR!

Sorry, I am pissed and I can’t help the yelling.

What’s more: Dish and Turner Get Heated in Earnings Calls | Media – Advertising Age

Dish Network Chairman Charlie Ergen was vocal about the satellite giant’s on-going carriage dispute with Turner Broadcasting during the company’s earnings call on Tuesday, saying he is prepared to keep the channels off the service permanently and slamming the performance of channels like CNN.

“When we do take something down, as a company, we’re prepared to leave it down forever,” he said.

Ergen…are you threatening me?

Cause that is what that sounds like…you are talking about the only reason I have your shitty ass service to begin with!

95923850acb18418ff5f487bd3576138Turner Broadcasting fires back at Dish Network – LA Times

Dish’s removal of the Turner channels was perplexing, Martin said. Dish had all but agreed several weeks ago on a new deal — including fee increases — to carry the Turner channels, he said.

Martin said his company, during negotiations, had been agreeable to allowing Dish to package Turner channels in an Internet streaming service that Dish plans to launch by year’s end.

Now, however, such an arrangement is in doubt.

While there were some loose ends with the contract, Turner executives were under the impression the unresolved issues were not major sticking points.

“To us, it is unclear exactly what the dispute with Dish is,” Martin said.

30e9c9d824814c109ac029321e90ceb9Other major pay-TV companies had agreed to the same contract terms that Dish walked away from last month, Martin said.

Turner executives were particularly bewildered, Martin said, because Dish executives told them the channels were removed because Turner wouldn’t agree to extend the deadline for negotiations on a second contract.

That contract, which expires at the end of the year, covers the carriage of Turner’s largest channels TNT and TBS.

The dispute is not inconsequential.  Dish has more than 14 million subscribers, making it one of the largest pay-TV providers in the country.

Wall Street analysts expressed concern the two sides may not be able to resolve their dispute.

Time Warner executives sought to calm investors.

“We still expect we’ll reach a deal,” Howard M. Averill, the company’s chief financial officer said. “We don’t expect this [dispute] is going to impact our long-term guidance.”

Investors? Again I ask, what about the CUSTOMERS!

de98712b372be1f29d90b8d64d7ffe21Variety did note however, regarding those responses by Turner Broadcasting: Turner CEO Calls Dish’s Charlie Ergen ‘Antagonistic and Aggressive’ | Variety

Martin’s comments came after parent company Time Warner reported higher than projected third quarter earnings.

Deadline has the full comments made by the Asshole in Charge, Chairman Charlie Ergen here: Dish Network’s Charlie Ergen Calls Loss Of CNN And Turner Nets A “Non-Event” | Deadline

One more insight about this: Dish Chairman Talks Turner Split, Blasts Comcast-Time Warner Merger – TheWrap

Ergen also took aim at the proposed merger between Comcast and Time Warner, saying that he’s “openly against” the two companies combining.

[…]

Even so, noting that Turner was an early partner with Dish, Ergen added, “I would bend over backwards for Turner, because they helped us get into” the business.

Discussing the proposed Comcast-Time Warner merger, Ergen struck a far less conciliatory tone, saying that the merger would create an unhealthy amount of control in the hands of a single entity.

“You just don’t want one company to have that kind of power over the internet,” Ergen said. “That’s certainly something that would keep us up at night.”

1d7a4c7690f5f261c0b06c0a40dcfe32I don’t know…but perhaps this blackout is all about a temper tantrum over the merger? Fuck you Ergen, you know what should be keeping you up at night? The big screw over you are giving your paying customers!

For those of you who are new to the blog, and came here looking for information about the Dish Network/Turner Classic Movies blackout…you can find more links about the dispute here:

 

DISH Threatens to Blackout TCM + Turner Networks “Forever” | cinematically insane

Ergen’s “one channel is interchangeable with another” worldview was demonstrated within hours of the blackout when DISH began swapping out Turner networks for replacements with similar programming. TCM with replaced with FXM, formerly the Fox Movie Channel, an advertiser-supported network that programs recent film releases during half its programing day. Not long after I wrote an article condemning DISH for this bait-and-switch, the satcaster began simulcasting MGM HD in TCM’s stead. MGM, which also carries ads, may be a more appropriate substitute than FXM, but it still pales in comparison to TCM’s 24 hours per-day of commercial-free classics.

slide_331920_3300262_freeOh yeah, you got that right Willie!

With an average subscriber fee of $1.33 (second only to ESPN), the loss of TNT alone from 14.1 million homes would have a impact on Turner’s bottom line, both in affiliate fees and ad revenue. When you add TBS and the other Turner networks, the stakes increase. To put the current dispute in perspective, all eight of the currently blacked-out channels on DISH (excluding TNT and TBS) cost subscribers on average $1.57 per month combined, which equates to only pennies per month, per subscriber for TCM. Think about that the next time you pay a gigantic cable bill strictly because you want to keep watching TCM.

Lost in the gamesmanship and focus on the bottom line is the importance TCM plays in the lives of many of its viewers – this one included. Ergen may dismiss it as “easy to take down” and replaceable with other channels, but reader feedback I’ve received tells a very different story.

a98847_BdY-KIGIUAAG8-KGo and check out Will McKinley’s blog to read the comments. Y’all know what my state of depression has gotten down too…without TCM I am lost.

Update: Dish CEO’s “Antagonistic” Comments Damage Negotiations with Turner | cinematically insane

 

And for other links on this story…hitting MSM:

Time Warner Executives Say It Is “Unclear” What Dish Dispute Is About-Hollywood Reporter

a98847_BdUo7XXCMAAOTkA2CNN Parent Company Not Pleased With Dish’s Veiled Threats To Permanently Pull Channels – Consumerist

Time Warner Strikes Back at Dish as Channels Stay Dark – Bloomberg

Dish Pulls CNN, Doesn’t Think Customers Still Paying For It Are Missing Much | Techdirt

But hey…if you think your other channels are safe, think again…Cause according to this: Dish far apart on contract as deadline nears-source | Reuters CBS is next on the chopping block.

CBS Corp and Dish Network Corp are far apart on talks for a new distribution deal, according to a person with knowledge of the negotiations, setting up the possibility that the satellite provider’s subscribers could lose access to the most-watched U.S. TV network next month.

a98847_tHOo4gOThe current agreement, signed on January 5, 2012, is set to expire in late November, according to the person. The two sides continue to talk.

CBS and Dish are at odds over the monthly price per subscriber the satellite operator, which has 14 million subscribers, would pay to carry CBS.

According to media consultant SNL Kagan, CBS’s TV stations were averaging 54 cents per subscriber from TV distributors when the Dish deal was signed in 2012. CBS currently averages 89 cents but recent deals have been richer, according to SNL senior research analyst Justin Nielson.

The standoff comes as cable, satellite and telecom video distributors increasingly are playing hard ball with program providers, resisting demands for steep price increases at a time when viewers are being drawn to Netflix and other forms of entertainment.

It is enough to make me want to put up a wall around the TCM headquarters/archives and set up a little commune for all of the Dish’s TCM refugees….

We could turn it into our own little classic movie city…

Who is ready to join me?

Y’all keep up with the weather conditions in your area this coming week!

 


Lazy Saturday Reads: A Little Bit of This and That

l-arlesienne-portrait-of-madame-ginoux-1888-1

Good Morning!!

I have a mixed bag of reads for you this morning–a little bit of politics, education, historical mystery, and science. The paintings and drawings included in this post are by Vincent van Gogh.

Last night President Obama announced that he’s sending 1,500 more troops into Iraq, supposedly  to serve as “advisers” who will train troops to fight the Islamic State. The Independent reports:

Barack Obama has authorised the US military to send up to 1,500 more troops to Iraq on top of the current total of around 1,400 to bolster efforts to combat Isis.

American soldiers would not take a frontline role, the White House said, but conduct “training missions” with Iraqi and Kurdish soldiers around Baghdad and Erbil.

The move comes less than a fortnight after the last British and American troops left Afghanistan and despite international condemnation of Isis’ atrocities, the public are still wary of another interventionist war.

The announcement had nothing to do with Tuesday’s election, according to “White House officials.” From the New York Daily News:

“It was really not driven at all the political calendar,” a senior White House official told reporters.

The official said that the decision to escalate the U.S. mission followed requests “over the last several weeks” by Pentagon officials, and political developments in Iraq.

Administration officials said the new deployment will expand the U.S. mission by placing American military advisors and trainers in western and northern of Iraq, where Iraqi and Kurdish forces are directly fighting ISIS extremists.

Until now, U.S. troops have been mostly confined to Baghdad and the Kurdish city of Erbil.

The White House emphasized that American soldiers will not directly engage ISIS fighters.

And so, the endless war continues.

Old-Man-Reading

Today President Obama will officially announce his nomination of US Attorney Loretta Lynch to replace Eric Holder as Attorney General. From NPR:

Lynch, whom the White House describes as “a strong, independent prosecutor who has twice led one of the most important U.S. Attorney’s Offices in the country,” will be introduced at the White House Saturday, alongside current Attorney General Eric Holder.

The plan comes after NPR’s Carrie Johnson reported Thursday that Lynch, a lead federal prosecutor in New York City, could be nominated within days.

“Lynch, a graduate of Harvard Law School, worked her way up the ladder in Brooklyn,” Carrie said, “a huge office that handles everything from old-school Mafia busts to new forms of cybercrime.”

And from the LA Times, Attorney general pick Loretta Lynch would be first black woman in post.

President Obama will nominate Loretta Lynch, the U.S. attorney in Brooklyn, to replace Eric H. Holder Jr. as attorney general, the White House said Friday, a historic choice that would make her the first black woman to hold the post….

Obama will make the official announcement Saturday with Lynch and Holder at the White House before he leaves Sunday on a weeklong trip to Asia. The White House had originally planned to wait until Obama returned to Washington, but apparently changed its plans after numerous news organizations reported she was the likely pick.

The choice of Lynch reflects a typical middle-of-the-road path for Obama; she is a nominee who might be confirmed without great controversy if no fault is found in her resume. Liberals had pushed for Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez, but he is unpopular with Republicans. Many in the legal community had hoped for scholarly Solicitor Gen. Donald Verrilli Jr.

Let’s hope she gets confirmed quickly, while Democrats still hold the majority in the Senate. A little more about her:

Lynch is the rare U.S. attorney who has not sought the limelight in what is normally a high-profile job with political potential. She rarely gives news conferences or interviews and recently ducked a gathering with Justice Department reporters in Washington. Her reputation in liberal legal circles is as someone who is not politically sophisticated.

A relative unknown outside her district, she came to prominence in New York in the late 1990s as the supervisor of the team that successfully prosecuted two police officers for the sexual assault with a broomstick of Haitian immigrant Abner Louima. Three other officers were acquitted.

More recently, she has spent time in Washington as chairwoman of the attorney general’s advisory committee of U.S. attorneys, an The Novel Reader Van Goghinfluential job that brought her in close contact with Holder.

Diane Ravitch has an interesting piece at The New York Review of Books, The Myth of Chinese Super Schools. It’s a review of a new book, Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Dragon? Why China Has the Best (and Worst) Education System in the World, by Yong Zhao.

On December 3, 2013, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced yet again that American students were doing terribly when tested, in comparison to students in sixty-one other countries and a few cities like Shanghai and Hong Kong. Duncan presided over the release of the latest international assessment of student performance in reading, science, and mathematics (called the Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA), and Shanghai led the nations of the world in all three categories.

Duncan and other policymakers professed shock and anguish at the results, according to which American students were average at best, nowhere near the top. Duncan said that Americans had to face the brutal fact that the performance of our students was “mediocre” and that our schools were trapped in “educational stagnation.”

He had used virtually the same rhetoric in 2010, when the previous PISA results were released. Despite the Bush administration’s No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law, which mandated that every child in every school in grades 3–8 would be proficient in math and reading by 2014, and despite the Obama administration’s $4.35 billion Race to the Top program, the scores of American fifteen-year-old students on these international tests were nearly unchanged since 2000. Both NCLB and Race to the Top assumed that a steady diet of testing and accountability, of carrots for high scores and sticks for low scores, would provide an incentive for students and teachers to try harder and get higher test scores. But clearly, this strategy was not working. In his public remarks, however, Duncan could not admit that carrots and sticks don’t produce better education or even higher test scores. Instead, he blamed teachers and parents for failing to have high expectations.

Duncan, President Obama, and legislators looked longingly at Shanghai’s stellar results and wondered why American students could not surpass them. Why can’t we be like the Chinese?, they wondered. Why should we be number twenty-nine in the world in mathematics when Shanghai is number one? Why are our scores below those of Estonia, Poland, Ireland, and so many other nations? Duncan was sure that the scores on international tests were proof that we were falling behind the rest of the world and that they predicted economic disaster for the United States. What Duncan could not admit was that, after a dozen years, the Bush–Obama strategy of testing and punishing teachers and schools had failed.

still-life-french-novels

Like many other failed policies, the obsession with testing began under Ronald Reagan.

P0licymakers and legislators are convinced that the best way to raise test scores is to administer more standardized tests and to make them harder to pass. This love affair with testing had its origins in 1983, when a national commission on education released a report called “A Nation at Risk.”

President Ronald Reagan had hoped his commission would recommend vouchers and school prayers, but that did not happen. Instead, the report recommended a stronger curriculum, higher graduation requirements, more teacher pay, and longer school hours, as well as standards and testing at transitional points, like high school graduation. The main effect of the report was caused by its alarmist rhetoric, which launched a three-decade-plus obsession with the idea that American public schools are failing and that the way to fix them is to raise test scores.

And succeeding presidents have continued the “testing mania.” Ravich writes:

At this juncture comes the book that Barack Obama, Arne Duncan, members of Congress, and the nation’s governors and legislators need to read: Yong Zhao’s Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Dragon? Why China Has the Best (and Worst) Education System in the World. Zhao, born and educated in China, now holds a presidential chair and a professorship at the University of Oregon. He tells us that China has the best education system because it can produce the highest test scores. But, he says, it has the worst education system in the world because those test scores are purchased by sacrificing creativity, divergent thinking, originality, and individualism. The imposition of standardized tests by central authorities, he argues, is a victory for authoritarianism. His book is a timely warning that we should not seek to emulate Shanghai, whose scores reflect a Confucian tradition of rote learning that is thousands of years old. Indeed, the highest-scoring nations on the PISA examinations of fifteen-year-olds are all Asian nations or cities: Shanghai, Hong Kong, Chinese Taipei, Singapore, Korea, Macao (China), and Japan.

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Will the book make a difference to U.S. political leaders? Probably not, but Ravich’s long review is well worth reading.

Vanity Fair has a fascinating article by Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith, authors of a 2011 Pulitzer-Prize-winning biography of Vincent van Gogh. In an appendix to the book, Naifeh and Smith included a summary of their research on the death of the famous painter. After years of study in the van Gogh archives, the authors suspected that the artist did not commit suicide, as is commonly believed, but was very likely killed accidentally by a teenage bully named René Secrétan.

Man reading van gogh

In 1890, René Secrétan was the 16-year-old son of a Paris pharmacist whose family summered in Auvers. In Paris, René’s lycée education admitted him to bourgeois society. In Auvers, it gave him license to bully. He said he modeled his behavior on his hero, Wild Bill Cody, whose Wild West Show René had seen in Paris the year before. He bought a souvenir costume (fringed buckskin, cowboy hat, chaps) and accessorized it with an old, small-caliber pistol that looked menacing but often misfired.

He found an easy target in the strange Dutchman named Vincent. By the time René arrived for the summer, Van Gogh was already the object of rumor and ridicule. He trudged through town with his mangled ear and awkward load, setting himself up to paint anywhere he pleased. He drank. He argued fiercely in an unintelligible tumble of Dutch and French.

Unlike René, whose father was a powerful figure in the summer community, Vincent had no friends. Using his brother Gaston, an aesthete, as his front man, René artfully slipped into the vacuum. He cozied up to the lonely painter at his café conversations with Gaston about art. He paid for another round of drinks. Afterward, René would mock the strange Dutchman to amuse his merry band of mischief-minded summer boys.

René let Vincent eavesdrop on him and his friends when they imported “dancing girls” from Paris. He shared his pornography collection. He even posed for some paintings and a drawing. Meanwhile, he conspired with his followers to play elaborate pranks on the friendless tramp they called Toto. They put hot pepper on his brushes (which he often sucked when deep in thought), salted his tea, and sneaked a snake into his paint box.

There it was, all in the files: the details mostly in a late-life narrative from the cowboy himself, René. But every detail checked out with the other eyewitness accounts from Auvers. And it didn’t say anything new, really. Vincent had faced similar bullying and ridicule in every place he ever painted.

And there was this: a long-neglected account by a woman from a distinguished Auvers family who had broken with the community omertà to say that Van Gogh was far from the wheat field at the time the fatal shot was fired. He was, according to her, on the road that led to the Secrétan family villa.

Of course the “experts” (Naifeh and Smith call them the “Flame Keepers”) came out of the woodwork to denounce the new theory. In response Naifeh and Smith asked a well known forensic expert, Dr. Vincent Di Maio, who testified at the trial of George Zimmerman, to analyze the evidence. Read the article to find out what conclusions he drew.

Finally a couple of science stories:

man-standing-reading-a-book-1882

From Discovery News, 9,300-Year-Old Bison Mummy Found in Siberia.

The still-furry beast is one of the most complete frozen mummies ever found. It literally freezes in time the appearance and anatomy of a steppe bison (Bison priscus), whose species went extinct shortly after the end of the Ice Age.

It’s been named the “Yukagir bison mummy,” after the region where it was found.

“The exceptionally good preservation of the Yukagir bison mummy allows direct anatomical comparisons with modern species of bison and cattle, as well as with extinct species of bison that were gone at the Pleistocene-Holocene boundary,” co-author Evgeny Maschenko from the Paleontological Institute in Moscow was quoted as saying in a press release.

The remarkable specimen still has its complete brain, heart, blood vessels and digestive system. Some of its organs have significantly shrunk over time, but that’s to be expected given its advanced age.

The researchers, led by Natalia Serduk of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow, conducted a necropsy on the remains. The investigation determined that the bison showed a relatively normal anatomy. A clue to its demise, however, is a lack of fat around its abdomen. This suggests that the bison died from starvation, but the scientists aren’t sure of that yet.

Compared to today’s bison in America, the Ice Age bison sported much larger horns and a second back hump. Steppe bison like this now-frozen one were commonly featured in Stone Age cave art, often shown being hunted by humans.

The Daily Mail article has a number of photos of the specimen and the researchers.

And from The Atlantic, a brief article on The Resurrection of the Dodo.

Alas, the poor dodo. All that remains of this extinct flightless bird’s legacy are a single complete skeleton and a synonym for “dimwit.”

But from those bones, researchers may now be able to recreate the 3-feet tall bird. Using a 3-D laser, paleontologists from the College of Holy Cross in Massachusetts made the first ever full 3-D dodo scans. The team presented the scans for the first time Thursday at theSociety for Vertebrate Archaeology’s annual conference in Berlin.

The scans showed that dodos had kneecaps, which were previously unknown structures within the dodo, Live Science reported. Leon Claessens, lead author on the scanning mission, told Live Science that information gleaned from the scans will help provide insight into how the bird moved. The team will also look at the bird’s large jaw in order to better understand how it worked and what type of prey it caught.

So . . . what else is happening? Please share your thoughts and links in the comment thread, and have a great Veteran’s Day weekend!