Wednesday Reads: There goes the neighborhood

Comic by Jack KirbyComic by Jack Kirby

Good Morning

So, it is Wednesday? Really? I have lost track of time, spending most of the day and night listening to my daughter coughing her lungs out. It is so frustrating, after the doctor offices, hospital ERs and walk in clinics that we have sat in the past few days, well…week, I am over it! (So is she.) I just want her to get better.

As it goes now, I am on five hours sleep for the past 36 hours. I don’t even know what I am writing anymore. So take this post to heart and have a little mercy on the mama.

b754095c2223f96c31327f1bef084fc3Pictures are from pinterest…and there is a connection, you will see. From the start to the finish. Even throughout the post, you will find a theme, missing shall we say.

But for the post’s news links, I really do not know what is going on in the world. My dad mentioned something about cutting the military force down to WWII levels yesterday while we were coming back from the Girl’s doctors appointment.  Is that true? I haven’t looked it up, yet. Hmmm, lets give the Google a twirl…Hagel’s Military Budget Cuts Will Start a Fight in the Republican Party

5679b701aaf372007f372d61e9461209It was like a throwback to the world of Franklin Roosevelt, Charles Lindbergh and the fight over America’s entry into World War II.  This week, the Pentagon leaked a preview of its 2015 Budget and it contains plans to reduce the size of the Army to its smallest number since 1940–about 440,000 troops, down from the current 522,000.

Everyone expected a decline. After all, we’re poised to leave Afghanistan. But the number–and passing the 1940 benchmark–was still startling. In his trademark restrained and respectful style, Dick Cheney used a Fox News Channel appearance to declare Barack Obama “would rather spend the money on Food Stamps” than on keeping America strong.

Divine as 'Edna Turnblad' in Hairspray (1988)

Divine as ‘Edna Turnblad’ in Hairspray (1988)

Typical Dick….ugh, Cheney.

Yes, The number of troops in a Hagel Defense budget would see the number of Army troops sink to pre-1940 levels, but America’s defense strength would still be overwhelming compared to the armed forces of the rest of the world.4738b9ffd6beb9d8ad293bede507644d

There would be 11 aircraft carrier groups — far ahead of Russia and China which have one each and neither a match for ours. America’s old Cold War nuclear triad of bombers, submarines and missiles would remain intact. And some big new projects like the $400 billion F-35 Joint Strike Fighter would keep rolling off the assembly line, albeit at a slower clip.

The U.S. would still be the most formidable military in the world. The question is, by how much? And could it conduct two land wars simultaneously, as we did in Iraq and Afghanistan?

Besides, this is just a proposal. The budget process, even in times of comity, is a messy scrum of the defense industry, veterans, pols, and everyone else, since Pentagon spending touches so many aspects of American life.

In other news, do you remember Miles O’Brien?  He was co-anchor with Soledad O’Brien CNN’s American Morning show from 2003 to 2007. (I always liked the two of them on the show…more than any of the other host, who I think are all shit.)

http://milesobrien.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/MOB-Mono-Mano.jpgMiles O’Brien Arm Amputated | Mediaite

O’Brien, a 16-year-veteran of CNN, had recently finished shooting in the Philippines and was packing his belongings on February 12th when a heavy Pelican case fell on his forearm. Though it hurt, he “figured it would be okay without any medical intervention,” and didn’t seek medical attention for two days. On the 14th, however, his arm had swollen to the point where he asked for the hotel to refer him to a doctor.

Take a look at O’Brien’s blog post, the title is perfect: “Just a Flesh Wound”   Miles O’Brien | Journalist

I wish I had a better story to tell you about why I am typing this with one hand (and some help from Dragon Dictate).

A shark attack would be interesting. An assassination attempt would be intriguing. Skydiving mishaps always make for good copy. An out-of-control quad copter that turns on its master would be entertaining (and would come complete with a grim, potentially viral, video).

No, the reason I am now one-handed is a little more prosaic than those scenarios.

2456e1edfc9a807318afc924b2c9ce1aPlease go read his story at the link.

All the more reason this next story as such, what is the word…damn I can’t think straight. Resonance? From BBC News – Virtual arm eases phantom limb pain

Doctors have devised a new way to treat amputees with phantom limb pain.

Using computer-generated augmented reality, the patient can see and move a virtual arm controlled by their stump.

Electric signals from the muscles in the amputated limb “talk” to the computer, allowing real-time movement.

5bda57b8649f6c66ca647eadffb0f838Amputee Ture Johanson says his pain has reduced dramatically thanks to the new computer program, which he now uses regularly in his home.
He now has periods when he is free of pain and he is no longer woken at night by intense periods of pain.

Phantom limb pain

  • Almost all people who have lost a limb have some sensation that it is still there
  • A majority of amputees will also experience phantom limb pain – painful sensations associated with the missing limb
  • The exact cause is unknown but it is thought that nerves in the severed limb continue to communicate with the brain, which interprets the mismatch as pain and discomfort
  • It can manifest as an insatiable itch or a stabbing or niggling pain

15c6c1f36e97443661d79c63198389d8More at that link, plus a video.

Few more stories this morning:

Charts: The Most Ridiculously Expensive Olympics Ever | Mother Jones

For the cost of the Sochi Olympics, we could have gone to Mars 20 times.

Yeah, let that sink in.

From the, “this is fucking ridiculous” page: Minnesota nursing home defends rapist: 89-year-old victim was a ‘flirt’ | The Raw Story

7a9377db63e908f5ad19260068dd6182And…for those dental floss freaks:‘Microbial Pompeii’ Found on 1,000-Year-Old Teeth From Germany – NBC News.com

A “microbial Pompeii” has been found on the teeth of 1,000-year-old human skeletons. Just as volcanic ash entombed the citizens of the ancient Roman city, dental plaque preserved bacteria and food particles on the teeth from a medieval cemetery in Germany.

“One thing that is clear about the population we studied is that they didn’t brush their teeth very often, if at all,” said study leader Christina Warinner, an anthropologist at the University of Zurich in Switzerland and the University of Oklahoma in Norman. The study was published Monday in Nature Genetics. [5 Surprising Ways to Banish Bad Breath]

3f9f66cc327ad82989c0ca5ca0ad8805Dental plaque is a dentist’s worst enemy, but it turns out to be a great time capsule for preserving the bacteria (or “microbiome”) and bits of food on the teeth of humans long after they die. Sticky material trapped particles of food and other debris, and over time, the calcium phosphate in saliva — the same mineral found in bones and teeth — caused the plaque to calcify into tartar, also known as calculus.

Ah, even when I did not realize it, I did manage to tie this all together.

I guess you noticed all the grave stones in the post this morning, there is a story behind this.

While spending so much time listening to the Bebe version of “Camile” or any other film where the star has a chronic cough…

http://media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/736x/90/76/88/90768890faa8688e45a0557853b023a0.jpg

I found myself lost in the world of pinterest.

Specifically, pictures of classic movie stars, where I happened upon an image of Yul Brynner.

——————————>

I thought…damn, that is a lot of skin. But an artistic pose. So I Googled the image and what did I find?

Mmmm….it was a hell of a Yul.

I will tell you the next two links are NSFW!!!!

Yul Brynner’s erotic photos by George Platt Lynes « Kinoimages.com

Yul Brynner began acting and modeling in his twenties and early in his career he was photographed nude by George Platt Lynes (1907-1955). These shots were taken in 1942. No comment necessary.

Tasteful. Yes?

Okay. When Google pulled up the image, it also pulled up other George Platt Lynes photos. And that pulls up additional “similar” photos. That of course got me started on one or another thing and before I knew it there was Burt Lancaster. Now that was a beautiful man.

Well, check this out…Burt Lancaster Nudes! NSFW!

Eh…sort of ruins it. Yeah? Nothing like the artsy photos from Yul. In fact, I was so bush shocked:

That it got me on to another tangent, Famous Graves | Pinterest

Some of the graves are freaky, like Jules Vern crawling out of his own grave:

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Others are touching, take Ann Bancroft:

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other sentimental or thoughtful tombstones:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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87fe27e6ac76aae0cbafd6b40f2f47c0

or funny:

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2c2f19d3ca283d1d957ea32e60d89336

witty:

89afcd932f251b2440e47bed4d09dfd8

grandiose:

Leona Helmsley

majestic:

Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor

Jennifer Jones

Jennifer Jones

Billie Burke

Billie Burke

Billie Burke

Wasn’t she beautiful?

Tchaikovsky

Tchaikovsky

considerate:

Danny Kaye

Danny Kaye

Some are defined by who they knew in life:

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Others are over done and tacky:

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Classic and peaceful:

Richard Burton

Richard Burton

Yul Brynner

Yul Brynner

And still there are some that seem self-deprecating, look at Marlene Detrich’s tombstone:

After we have been asked over and over again

After we have been asked over and over again
for the meaning of the inscription on Marleneís
tombstone (ÑHier steh ich an den Marken
meiner Tageì) we finally asked Maria Riva what
the translation would be like: And here is her
answer:
“Here I stand in the benchmark of my days.”
(Literal)
“I remain as/in the proof of my days.” (loose)
What Dietrich liked was what she interpreted as
its meaning:
1. I am what I am.
2. I remain the proof of me.

Then there are those with no tombstone at all…

Which brings me to this last story, of Thelma Todd and Harpo Marx

First this picture of the both of them, it just tickled me:

thelma todd and Harpo marx

Now for Thelma Todd’s tragic story, you can read about it here: The Marx Brothers and Celebrity Death Mysteries

Thelma Todd - GM CollectionIn the 1931 movie “Monkey Business”, Groucho Marx tells the vivacious Thelma Todd: “You’re a woman who’s been getting nothing but dirty breaks. Well, we can clean and tighten your brakes, but you’ll have to stay in the garage all night.” Just 5 years later, Todd was found dead in a garage. The cause of death was carbon monoxide poisoning but the circumstances remain shrouded by conflicting stories, conspiracy theories and rumors.

[...]

Todd was cremated and, after her mother’s death, her remains were placed in her mother’s casket and buried in Bellevue Cemetery in her hometown of Lawrence, Massachusetts. In her will, she left her entire estate to her mother and one dollar to her ex-husband.

0267091620eda0d53e531b115f64987fWhile Harpo was also cremated, his ashes were scattered (remember what I said about no “grave” at all?):

Specifically: Ashes allegedly sprinkled into the sand trap at the seventh hole of the Rancho Mirage golf course

I don’t want you to think it is all morbid, look at some of those tombstones and the epitaphs. I love going through old cemeteries.

Cemetery Girl | Pinterest

Mourning Woman hugging her son, historic grave sculpture, Nordfriedhof Cemetery, Duesseldorf,

Mourning Woman hugging her son, historic grave sculpture, Nordfriedhof Cemetery, Duesseldorf,

In love even after their death, must really stand out at the cemetery.

In love even after their death, must really stand out at the cemetery.

Hauptfriedhof Frankfurt

Hauptfriedhof Frankfurt

The Monumental Cemetery of Staglieno, Genoa, Province of Genoa, Liguria region Italy

The Monumental Cemetery of Staglieno, Genoa, Province of Genoa, Liguria region Italy

Melaten cementary, Cologne, Germany

Melaten cementary, Cologne, Germany

graveyard

When we lived in Connecticut, that was a special treat because there were some cemeteries that really went back hundreds of years and were so beautiful…and strange.

http://www.ctrivervalley.com/images-pictures-photos-of/Winter-in-Connecticut-Snow/2004-winter-pictures-photos/old_lyme_cemetary_1A.jpg

This one in Rhode Island:

Pin by Teri Steele on Cemetery Girl | Pinterest

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Newport, RI 18th c gravestone for 2 babies & wife’s amputated arm: WAIT daughtr. of WILLIAM and DESIRE TRIPP died April 24th 1780 Aged 10 Mo. 10 days. Also WILLIAM their Son died March 17th 1784 Aged 22 Mo. Also his Wifes Arm Amputated Feby. 20th 1786.

As for today’s offering, my favorite is Rodney Dangerfield’s

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Let’s end this post with another laugh and a smile.

Have a good day…and leave a link or two or three in the comments below!

BTW, did you catch the running theme?


Thursday Reads

Jospeh H Davis (American artist, 1811-1865) Charles & Comfort Caverly & Son Isaac 1836 Cat, Top Hat, Newspaper,  Painted Table, Patterned Carpet

Good Morning!!

The Villagers are still nattering on about excepts from retired defense secretary Robert Gates’ new memoir Duty, which will be released on January 14.

The DC media is focused on Gates’ criticisms of President Obama and how they will embarrass the administration and negatively affect Hillary Clinton’s chances in 2016. What has impressed me so far in the excepts I have read is that Obama was wary of the military and willing to stand up to them. Some examples from an e-mail I received from Foreign Policy Magazine yesterday:

Gates on what Biden did to poison the military well: “I thought Biden was subjecting Obama to Chinese water torture, every day saying, ‘the military can’t be trusted.’”

On Obama’s approach to Afghanistan: “I never doubted Obama’s support for the troops, only his support for their mission.”

On Obama’s approach to Afghanistan: “I believe Obama was right in each of these decisions.”

On Obama and Bush: “During my tenure as secretary, Bush was willing to disagree with his senior military advisers on the wars, including the important divergence between the chiefs’ concern to reduce stress on the force and the presidents’ higher priority of success in Iraq. However, Bush never (at least to my knowledge) questioned their motives or mistrusted them personally. Obama was respectful of senior officers and always heard them out, but he often disagreed with them and was deeply suspicious of their actions and recommendations. Bush seemed to enjoy the company of the senior military; I think Obama considered time spent with generals and admirals an obligation.”

On Obama as an ice man: “I worked for Obama longer than Bush and I never saw his eyes well up. The only military matter, apart from leaks, about which I ever sensed deep passion on his part was ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ the law prohibiting gays from serving openly in the military that Obama successfully pushed to repeal.”

On an oval office meeting that deeply pissed him off: “…Donilon was especially aggressive in questioning our commitment to speed and complaining about how long we were taking. Then he went too far, questioning in front of the president and a room full of people whether Gen. Fraser was competent to lead this effort. I’ve rarely been angrier in the Oval Office than I was at that moment; nor was I ever closer to walking out of that historic room in the middle of a meeting. My initial instinct was to storm out, telling the president on the way that he didn’t need two secretaries of defense. It took every bit of my self discipline to stay seated on the sofa.

Every one of those quotes made me like and respect Obama and Biden more. I’m sure I’m not alone in that reaction.

A couple more “criticisms” quoted in The Atlantic: Robert Gates: The Iraq War Undermined U.S. Efforts in Afghanistan.

President Bush always detested the notion, but our later challenges in Afghanistan—especially the return of the Taliban in force by the time I reported for duty—were, I believe, significantly compounded by the invasion of Iraq. Resources and senior-level attention were diverted from Afghanistan. U.S. goals in Afghanistan—a properly sized, competent Afghan national army and police, a working democracy with at least a minimally effective and less corrupt central government—were embarrassingly ambitious and historically naive compared with the meager human and financial resources committed to the task, at least before 2009.

Who doesn’t agree with that? Well, sure some right wing nut jobs, but the majority of Americans have completely soured on the Iraq war, according to many polls over the past few years.

Wars are a lot easier to get into than out of. Those who ask about exit strategies or question what will happen if assumptions prove wrong are rarely welcome at the conference table when the fire-breathers are demanding that we strike—as they did when advocating invading Iraq, intervening in Libya and Syria, or bombing Iran’s nuclear sites. But in recent decades, presidents confronted with tough problems abroad have too often been too quick to reach for a gun. Our foreign and national security policy has become too militarized, the use of force too easy for presidents. Today, too many ideologues call for U.S. force as the first option rather than a last resort.

So Obama’s approach might have kept us out of Iraq, right? I don’t see that as a problem. I want my president to be wary of the military and hesitant to go to war. I want my president to get teary-eyed over granting rights to people who have been historically discriminated against and stay dry-eyed and rational when contemplating “military matters.”

robert_gates

So let Gates have his day in the sun. Today some in the media are already questioning whether his book may damage his reputation. From Foreign Policy again: Did Bob Gates’ New Book Just Trash His Golden Reputation?

Gates, 70, has unmasked himself as just another former Washington official writing just another kiss-and-tell in the soon-to-be-released Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War, in which he takes shots at a sitting commander-in-chief, his top aides and Congress, an institution with which he often expressed frustration – but also respect. Gates was known for being discreet and sharp-minded, loyal to the office he occupied and careful about what he said in public. So deliberate were his public pronouncements about wars or national security policy or budgets that he became the E.F. Hutton of the Pentagon — everyone leaned in every time he had something to say.

But now his brand seems diminished by the scrappy, petty nature of many of his criticisms — even though some are substantive and legitimate — and a legacy he seemed quietly determined to protect may be permanently reduced to something less than what it once was.

We’ll have to wait and see. It’s also possible that the furor over Gates’ memoir will fade quickly, because another book is coming out on January 21, and it looks to be a lot more entertaining–the tell-all book about Fox News’ Roger Ailes, The Loudest Voice in the Room, by Gabriel Sherman. Excerpts started leaking out yesterday and they are wild! Check these “key revelations” from Gawker:

  • During a salary negotiation in the 1980′s, Ailes offered producer Randi Harrison an additional $100 each week she would agree to have sex with him whenever he wanted.
  • He also privately thinks of Bill O’Reilly as “a book salesman with a TV show” and Brian Kilmeade as “a soccer coach from Long Island.”
  • During a 1990′s power struggle with NBC executive David Zaslav, Ailes was accused of making an anti-Semitic remark involving an obscenity and “the words ‘little’ and ‘Jew’.” NBC’s chairman and counsel believe “he probably said it.”

Roger Ailes

New York Magazine has published a lengthy except from Sherman’s book and it is the most fascinating and horrifying thing I’ve read in ages. Ailes is far weirder than I ever imagined. The article opens with a description of how Ailes moved into a rural town in upstate New York, hoping to return to his small-town roots, but instead bought the local newspaper and tried to transform it into a mini-Fox News. It’s a riot! Just a small except to whet your appetite for the bizarre:

As summer turned to fall, political issues began to arise. Alison Rooney, the copy editor, at first found reasons to be optimistic about the ownership change. She liked using the new computers to put out the paper and looked forward to the newsroom moving into a renovated two-story building on Main Street. But that honeymoon ended when Rooney laid out a press release from the Garrison Art Center that described a work invoking the “mythological story” of the Virgin Birth. After the release was published, the priest of Our Lady of Loretto wrote a letter to the editor, and Beth Ailes lit into Rooney. A few weeks later, Rooney got another dressing-down as she formatted a promotion of the high school’s upcoming production of Urinetown, this time from an editor who found the language offensive and removed the title of the show from the headline.

Another drama erupted after a reporter named Michael Turton was assigned to cover Haldane Middle School’s mock presidential election. After the event, Turton filed a report headlined “Mock Election Generated Excitement at Haldane; Obama Defeats McCain by 2–1 Margin.” He went on, “The 2008 U.S. presidential election is now history. And when the votes were tallied, Barack Obama had defeated John McCain by more than a two to one margin. The final vote count was 128 to 53.” Reading the published version a few days later, Turton was shocked. The headline had been changed: “Mock Presidential Election Held at Haldane; Middle School Students Vote to Learn Civic Responsibility.” So had the opening paragraph: “Haldane students in grades 6 through 8 were entitled to vote for president and they did so with great enthusiasm.” Obama’s margin of victory was struck from the article. His win was buried in the last paragraph.

Turton was upset, and wrote a questioning e-mail to Hunt, but never heard back. Instead, he received a series of accusatory e-mails from the Aileses. Turton had disregarded “specific instructions” for the piece, Beth wrote. “Do you anticipate this becoming an ongoing problem for you?” A short while later, Roger weighed in. Maureen Hunt’s instructions to focus on the school’s process for teaching about elections had been “very clear,” he wrote, and Turton’s “desire to change the story into a big Obama win” should have taken a backseat. Ailes described himself as “disappointed” by Turton’s failure “to follow the agreed upon direction.”

Soon afterward, Turton learned that Maureen Hunt had resigned, and Ailes continued his quest to bring “fair and balanced” to Philipstown.

John and Bonnie Raines, two of the burglars, at home in Philadelphia with their grandchildren. Mark Makela for The New York Times

John and Bonnie Raines, two of the burglars, at home in Philadelphia with their grandchildren. Mark Makela for The New York Times

Since I’ve been discussing new books so far, I guess I might as well continue. On Tuesday, The New York Times published interviews with some of the activists who broke into an FBI office in Media, Pennsylvania on March 8, 1971 and stole a massive number of files. They took the files to a remote location, studied them for ten days, and found evidence of the illegal FBI domestic spying program COINTELPRO. Unlike Edward Snowden, the burglars swore to keep their identities a secret so that the story itself would get all the public attention. From the Times article:

They were never caught, and the stolen documents that they mailed anonymously to newspaper reporters were the first trickle of what would become a flood of revelations about extensive spying and dirty-tricks operations by the F.B.I. against dissident groups….

The burglars had, until now, maintained a vow of silence about their roles in the operation. They were content in knowing that their actions had dealt the first significant blow to an institution that had amassed enormous power and prestige during J. Edgar Hoover’s lengthy tenure as director.

“When you talked to people outside the movement about what the F.B.I. was doing, nobody wanted to believe it,” said one of the burglars, Keith Forsyth, who is finally going public about his involvement. “There was only one way to convince people that it was true, and that was to get it in their handwriting.”

That’s heroism in my book. They revealed real government abuses that had been almost unknown until they found the proof. Now one of the reporters who helped get the story out, Betty Medsger, has written a book called The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret FBI. It came out this week, and I’m dying to read it.

By contrast Snowden and his PR man Glenn Greenwald have so far revealed very little that we didn’t already know or suspect about NSA domestic spying and have spent most of the seven months since they began rolling out their revelations 1) publishing articles about the NSA spying on foreign countries and their partnerships with foreign countries who have few espionage resources; 2) giving self-aggrandizing interviews and bragging about all the secrets they have; 3) Defending Snowden’s decision to defect to Russia. At the same time Greenwald has sold book and movie rights and worked on a media start up funded by libertarian E-bay and Paypal billionaire Pierre Omidyar. I haven’t heard anything about Greenwald sharing his earnings with Edward Snowden either.

Fortunately some in the media are beginning to point out inconsistencies in Snowden’s and Greenwald’s behavior. Here is an op-ed by Doyle McManus that lays out the case very well. Edward Snowden, in shades of gray I agree with just about everything he wrote.

Is Edward Snowden” Edward Snowden a whistle-blower or a traitor?

Debate over the renegade computer technician who leaked thousands of secret National Security Agency documents is too often reduced to that deceptively simple choice.

But it’s the wrong way to pose the question, because Snowden is both of those things at the same time. Yes, he’s a whistle-blower, and if that were all he had done, he would deserve our thanks for forcing a debate over the NSA’s swollen powers.

But he’s also a scoundrel who deserves prosecution and public condemnation. That’s because his leaks no longer seem focused on protecting U.S. citizens’ constitutional rights or toughening safeguards on the NSA. Instead, Snowden’s disclosures have expanded far beyond those laudable aims to exposing U.S. intelligence-gathering operations that appear not only legal but legitimate in the eyes of most Americans.

McManus is referring to revelations about the NSA doing it’s job, which is gathering foreign intelligence to protect national security. A little more:

“…most of those disclosures, from Merkel to Al Qaeda, have nothing to do with Americans’ right to privacy. Snowden has acknowledged that his ambitions go far beyond limiting what the NSA can do at home. “I have acted at great personal risk to help the public of the world, regardless of whether that public is American, European or Asian,” he told the Guardian in June.

Well, OK. But that makes him, by his own description, a global crusader against NSA spying anywhere, not merely a whistle-blower against potential abuses inside the United States. It means some of his disclosures have made Americans safer against government prying, but others have probably made us less safe.

And for a man who proclaims himself a fighter for universal rights, accepting asylum in Russia and praising his hosts for their devotion to freedom does not strengthen his claim to consistency, let alone nobility.

I’ll end there and turn the floor over to you. What stories are you following today. Please post your links in the comment thread, and have a great Thursday!


Saturday Reads: America’s Greatest Mystery

JFK Assassination

Good Morning!!

In less than two weeks, our nation will mark the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. I’ve spent quite a bit of time recently reading books and articles about the assassination and it’s aftermath. I have wanted to write a post about it, but I just haven’t been able to do it. For me, the JFK assassination is still a very painful issue–in fact, it has become more and more painful for me over the years as I’ve grown older and wiser and more knowledgeable about politics and history. Anyway, I thought I’d take a shot at writing about it this morning. I may have more to say, as we approach the anniversary. I’m going to focus on the role of the media in defending the conclusions of the Warren Commission.

I think most people who have read my posts in the past probably know that I think the JFK assassination was a coup, and that we haven’t really had more than a very limited form of democracy in this country since that day. We probably will never know who the men were who shot at Kennedy in Dallas in 1963, but anyone who has watched the Zapruder film with anything resembling an open mind, has to know that there was more than one shooter; because Kennedy was shot from both the front and back.

The reasons Kennedy died are varied and complex. He had angered a number of powerful groups inside as well as outside the government.

- Powerful members of the mafia had relationships with JFK’s father Joseph Kennedy, and at his behest had helped carry Illinois–and perhaps West Virginia–for his son. These mafia chiefs expected payback, but instead, they got Bobby Kennedy as Attorney General on a crusade to destroy organized crime. In the 1960s both the CIA and FBI had used the mafia to carry out operations.

- FBI boss J. Edgar Hoover hated Bobby Kennedy for “interfering” with the FBI by ordering Hoover to hire more minorities and generally undercutting Hoover’s absolute control of the organization.

- Elements within the CIA hated Kennedy for his refusal to provide air support for the Bay of Pigs invasion (which had been planned by Vice President Nixon well before the 1960 election), and for firing CIA head Allen Dulles.

- Texas oil men like H.L. Hunt and Clint Murchison hated Kennedy for pushing for repeal of the oil depletion allowance.

- The military hated Kennedy because of the Bay of Pigs, his decision to defuse the Cuban Missile Crisis by pulling U.S. missiles out of Turkey in return for removal of the missiles from Cuba instead of responding with a nuclear attack, his efforts to reach out to both the Nikita Krushchev of the Soviet Union and Fidel Castro of Cuba, his firing of General Edward Walker, and his decision to pull the military “advisers” out of Vietnam.

- Vice President Lyndon Johnson hated both Kennedys, and he knew he was on the verge of being dropped from the presidential ticket in 1964. In addition, scandals involving his corrupt financial dealings were coming to a head, and the Kennedys were pushing the stories about Johnson cronies Bobby Baker and Billy Sol Estes in the media.

What I know for sure is that after what happened to Kennedy (and to Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy), there is no way any president would dare to really challenge the military and intelligence infrastructure within the government. Richard Nixon found that out when a number of the same people who were involved in the Kennedy assassination helped to bring him down.

To long-term government bureaucracies, the POTUS is just passing through the government that they essentially control. Any POTUS who crosses them too often is asking for trouble. People who think President Obama should simply force the CIA, NSA, FBI and the military to respect the rights of American citizens should think about that for a minute. Can we as a nation survive the assassination of another president?
Read the rest of this entry »


Wednesday Reads: Good Day, Yes?

coffeeframe2Good Morning

Yesterday was a good day, at least for me and a few of the people I love. My daughter is feeling better from her staph infection, my friend out in the cornfields of Iowa got a new job with the Secretary of State’s office, my son is kicking the hell out of a football and this little chocolate puff I have waited months for is finally growing up.

Let’s get to this morning’s reads, here are the latest headlines…I won’t bother to quote from them for you because honestly it is the same old shit, ah…stuff.

This guy is disgusting:  Weiner admits more lewd conduct, vows to stay in New York mayoral race – The Washington Post

I secretly hope they name this kid Geoffrey, but my money is on James or George: Kate Middleton, Prince William emerge with royal baby: ‘We’re still working on a name’   – NY Daily News

Hey, talk about same old shit…only the country changes: General outlines options for U.S. intervention in Syria – CBS News

Meanwhile another rig in the Gulf of Mexico blew up yesterday: Gulf of Mexico natural gas rig blew while completing ‘sidetrack well’ | NOLA.com

And, in Milwaukee, a jury has brought a guilty verdict in another unarmed black teen murder trial: John Henry Spooner gets life sentence in death of black teen | theGrio

A 76-year-old Milwaukee man who fatally shot his unarmed teenage neighbor was sentenced to life in prison Monday, days after telling the court he killed the boy for justice because he believed he stole his shotguns.

John Henry Spooner’s home had been burglarized two days before the May 2012 shooting, and he suspected 13-year-old Darius Simmons as the thief. So he confronted the teen, demanded that he return the guns and then shot him in the chest in front of his mother when he denied stealing anything.

Spooner’s own home surveillance cameras captured the shooting, and prosecutors aired the footage in court.

A jury found Spooner guilty of first-degree intentional homicide last week, a conviction carrying a mandatory life sentence. The judge could have allowed for the possibility of parole after 20 years, but rejected that option, citing Spooner’s lack of remorse and desire to also kill the teen’s brother.

Okay, so I had to quote a bit of that story…

I’ve got another link from the Grio, this makes a lot of sense to me: Why breast cancer kills more black women: They’re sicker | theGrio

And while you read that article, think about the affect all the defunded Planned Parenthood clinics that are closing will have on those statistical averages of fatal cancer rates in black women.  Damn, it makes me so mad.

Shakesville blog has a post up about the SCOTUS Voting Rights Act decision, and how North Carolina is making the most out of it: Cool Democracy We’ve Got

The Supreme Court’s garbage voting rights decision last month paved the way for this shit: “North Carolina on Cusp of Passing Worst Voter Suppression Bill in the Nation.” Among the new requirements being proposed to access voting:

Implementing a strict voter ID requirement that bars citizens who don’t have a proper photo ID from casting a ballot.

Eliminating same-day voter registration, which allowed residents to register at the polls.

Cutting early voting by a full week.

Increasing the influence of money in elections by raising the maximum campaign contribution to $5,000 and increasing the limit every two years.

Making it easier for voter suppression groups like True The Vote to challenge any voter who they think may be ineligible by requiring that challengers simply be registered in the same county, rather than precinct, of those they challenge.

Vastly increasing the number of “poll observers” and increasing what they’re permitted to do. In 2012, ThinkProgress caught the Romney campaign training such poll observers using highly misleading information.

Only permitting citizens to vote in their specific precinct, rather than casting a ballot in any nearby ward or election district. This can lead to widespread confusion, particularly in urban areas where many precincts can often be housed in the same building.

Barring young adults from pre-registering as 16- and 17-year-olds, which is permitted by current law, and repealing a state directive that high schools conduct voter registration drives in order to boost turnout among young voters.

Prohibiting some types of paid voter registration drives, which tend to register poor and minority citizens.

Dismantling three state public financing programs, including the landmark program that funded judicial elections.

Weakening disclosure requirements for outside spending groups.

Preventing counties from extending polling hours in the event of long lines or other extraordinary circumstances and making it more difficult for them to accommodate elderly or disabled voters with satellite polling sites at nursing homes, for instance.

Emphasis original.

Go to the link to read more of what Melissa thinks about this crap… you can probably already surmise what her conclusion to the post said.

Ross Douchehat published a biggie yesterday, I have two links that tackle his latest opinion piece on abortion:

Your Handy Guide To Anti-Choice Concern Trolling – Lawyers, Guns & Money

Ross Douthat Abortion Texas – Cardinal Douthat’s Musings On Abortion -Charlie Pierce at Esquire

In the New York Times this week there was a very interesting article about generations climbing up the income ladder: In Climbing Income Ladder, Location Matters

A study finds the odds of rising to another income level are notably low in certain cities, like Atlanta and Charlotte, and much higher in New York and Boston.

The study — based on millions of anonymous earnings records and being released this week by a team of top academic economists — is the first with enough data to compare upward mobility across metropolitan areas. These comparisons provide some of the most powerful evidence so far about the factors that seem to drive people’s chances of rising beyond the station of their birth, including education, family structure and the economic layout of metropolitan areas.

Climbing the income ladder occurs less often in the Southeast and industrial Midwest, the data shows, with the odds notably low in Atlanta, Charlotte, Memphis, Raleigh, Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Columbus. By contrast, some of the highest rates occur in the Northeast, Great Plains and West, including in New York, Boston, Salt Lake City, Pittsburgh, Seattle and large swaths of California and Minnesota.

“Where you grow up matters,” said Nathaniel Hendren, a Harvard economist and one of the study’s authors. “There is tremendous variation across the U.S. in the extent to which kids can rise out of poverty.”

That variation does not stem simply from the fact that some areas have higher average incomes: upward mobility rates, Mr. Hendren added, often differ sharply in areas where average income is similar, like Atlanta and Seattle.

The gaps can be stark. On average, fairly poor children in Seattle — those who grew up in the 25th percentile of the national income distribution — do as well financially when they grow up as middle-class children — those who grew up at the 50th percentile — from Atlanta.

Geography mattered much less for well-off children than for middle-class and poor children, according to the results. In an economic echo of Tolstoy’s line about happy families being alike, the chances that affluent children grow up to be affluent are broadly similar across metropolitan areas.

There are interactive maps and other goodies at that link, please be sure to check it out.  One phrase that is used a lot in the article is “income mobility”

…earlier studies have already found that education and family structure have a large effect on the chances that children escape poverty. Other researchers, including the political scientist Robert D. Putnam, author of “Bowling Alone,” have previously argued that social connections play an important role in a community’s success. Income mobility has become one of the hottest topics in economics, as both liberals and conservatives have grown worried about diminished opportunities following more than a decade of disappointing economic growth. After years of focusing more on inequality at a moment in time, economists have more recently turned their attention to people’s paths over their lifetimes.

I will leave any commentary on this article to Dr. Dak.

Since I’ve got a link here from the New York Times, you will find this next read intriguing: New York Times Quotes 3.4 Men for Every Woman | The Jane Dough

When the New York Times broke the absolutely shocking news on Sunday that many college-aged women like to have sex, some ladies called for an end to “women’s stories” that do nothing but foster “worry” about women in society. However, before completely dismissing this genre of journalism, we need to realize that these “women’s stories” are some of the only stories where women are actually being quoted and being heard.

In January and February of this year, University of Nevada Las Vegas students Alexi Layton and Rochelle Richards, under the guidance of their professor Alicia Shepard, scoured the 325 front-page stories published in the New York Times and found that the paper quoted male sources 3.4 times more frequently than female ones. Even in areas that are perceived to be more female-dominated — style, arts, education, health, etc. — male sources vastly outnumbered female ones.

Perhaps this phenomenon shouldn’t be surprising since men continue to dominate newsrooms and the Times is no exception. Of the 325 stories published on the front page, 214 were written by men (65.8 percent); their stories mentioned four times as many male sources as female sources. Female reporters perpetuated the bias as well; of the 96 stories written by women, men were quoted twice as frequently as women. So, as Amanda Hess at Slate pointed out, “hiring more female reporters could help lift the Times’ sourcing ratio from terrible to just bad.”

Yup, more at the Jane Dough link…go read it.

Hey, down here in Georgia a Democrat has announce she is running for Saxby’s seat:

Michelle Nunn Enters 2014 Georgia Senate Race

How Michelle Nunn puts pressure on Georgia Republicans

Gee, I can only hope she has a chance…but I know how strong the redneck vote is, I mean how strong the red GOP vote is within the state.

Now for a few links that are more along the lines of special interest, or just plain non-newsy reads to start your day off right.

Fort Tells of Spain’s Early Ambitions

In the Appalachian foothills of western North Carolina, archaeologists have discovered remains of a 16th century fort, the earliest one built by Europeans deep in the interior of what is now the United States. The fort is a reminder of a neglected period in colonial history, when Spain’s expansive ambitions ran high and wide, as yet unmatched by England.

If the Spanish had succeeded, Robin A. Beck Jr., a University of Michigan archaeologist on the discovery team, suggested, “Everything south of the Mason-Dixon line might have become part of Latin America.” But they failed.

Researchers had known from Spanish documents about the two expeditions led by Juan Pardo from the Atlantic coast from 1566 to 1568. A vast interior seemed open for the taking. This was almost 20 years before the failure of the English at Sir Walter Raleigh’s “lost colony” near the North Carolina coast or their later successes in Virginia at Jamestown in 1607 and at Plymouth Rock in 1620 — the “beginnings” emphasized in the standard colonial history taught in American schools.

One of Pardo’s first acts of possession, in early 1567, was building Fort San Juan in an Indian town almost 300 miles in the interior, near what is known today as the Great Smoky Mountains. It was the first and largest of six forts the expedition erected on a trail blazed through North and South Carolina and across the mountains into eastern Tennessee. At times Pardo was following in the footsteps of Hernando de Soto in the 1540s.

Pardo was ordered to establish a road to the silver mines in Mexico…without maps or a true understanding of the New World’s geography, the belief at the time was that the Appalachians where the same mountain range that ran through central Mexico.

After years of searching, archaeologists led by Dr. Beck, Christopher B. Rodning of Tulane University in New Orleans and David G. Moore of Warren Wilson College in Asheville, N.C., came upon what they described in interviews as clear evidence of the fort’s defensive moat and other telling remains of Fort San Juan. The discovery in late June was made five miles north of Morganton, N.C., at a site long assumed to be the location of an Indian settlement known as Joara, where military artifacts and burned remains of Spanish-built huts were also found.

While excavating a ceremonial Indian mound at the site, the archaeologists encountered different colored soil beneath the surface. Part of the fort’s defensive moat had been cut through the southern side of the mound. Dr. Beck said that further excavations and magnetometer subsurface readings showed that the moat appeared to extend more than 70 to 100 feet and measured nearly 12 feet wide and 6 feet deep, in a configuration “typical of European moats going back to the Romans.”

In the area north of Banjoville, up into North Carolina they have found Spanish conquistador artifacts along the rivers, like helmets and various swords and axes and other weapons that have been dated back to de Soto. Also, some of the Indian tribes mention the Spanish visitors in their stories. Furthermore, many of the Spaniards settled in the area with the Cherokee Indians as well.  There’s some interesting history in these mountains, that’s for dang sure!

This next link is to a picture gallery: Broken dreams: Walker Evans’s 1930s Americana

New York molls, Negro churches and the barbershop home of Perfecto Hair Restorer … this enchanting series of photographs shows us 1930s America through the eyes of photographer Walker Evans as he travelled from Alabama to New York City, documenting life during the Great Depression. His images earned him the first solo exhibition ever to be held at MoMA in New York. Now, 75 years later, they’re back on public view, in Walker Evans American Photographs, which runs until 26 January 2014

Walker Evans: 42nd Street, New York, 1929

42nd Street, New York, 1929

And finally, what would all this history stuff be without a bit of Medieval nuggets thrown in?

Religious and Cultural Boundaries between Vikings and Irish: The Evidence of Conversion

Clare Downham

The March in the Islands of the Medieval West, Brill Academic Publishers, November 16 (2012)

Abstract

The Scandinavian migrations of the early Viking Age imprinted in European minds anenduring image of vikings as marauding heathens. As descendants of these ‘salt water bandits’ settled into their new homes, they adopted traits from their host cultures. One such trait was the adoption of Christianity. This was perhaps the biggest change whichaffected vikings in a colonial situation as it entailed a new system of belief and way of understanding the world. Vikings in Ireland have often portrayed as late converts, with christian ideas only taking hold over a century after vikings settled in the island. Nevertheless in this paper I seek to argue that vikings of Dublin began to adopt christianity at an early stage, although the process of conversion was protracted and possibly uneven across social ranks. The stereotype of Hiberno-Scandinavians as staunch heathens may need revision.

Ninth-century literature from Ireland expresses fear of vikings as slave-raiders and heathens. It was not however until the eleventh century that vikings ‘burst onto the Irish literary stage’ by which time (as Máire Ní Mhaonaigh has demonstrated) astereotype of heathen, plundering vikings had evolved which did not always reflectcontemporary realities. It is in accounts from the eleventh century and later that we get colourful descriptions of heathen activity linked with ninth-century vikings, for example the satirical account of the ‘druid’ Ormr who is hit by a stone and foretells his imminent death, or Auða, the wife of the viking leader Þórgísl, who was said to issue prophecies while seated on the altar at Clonmacnoise. These accounts were on the one hand meant to be entertaining, but on the other they were intended as negative publicity for contemporary viking groups which helped to justify their subjection to Irish kings.

To read the paper in full click the link here: The March in the Islands of the Medieval West

On the subject of Moons: The Night the Moon exploded and other Lunar tales from the Middle Ages

medieval moon

The Moon in the Nuremberg Chronicles

When writing about the events of the the year 1178 in his Chronicle, Gervase of Canterbury interrupts his account of kings and wars to relate a very unusual occurrence in the night sky:

This year on the 18th of June, when the Moon, a slim crescent, first became visible, a marvellous phenomenon was seen by several men who were watching it. Suddenly, the upper horn of the crescent was split in two. From the mid point of the division, a flaming torch sprang up, spewing out over a considerable distance fire, hot coals and sparks. The body of the Moon which was below, writhed like a wounded snake. This happened a dozen times or more, and when the Moon returned to normal, the whole crescent took on a blackish appearance.

This account has puzzled modern astronomers – some suggest that the monks saw an asteroid crashing into the moon, while others believe that it was a meteorite that had entered the Earth’s atmosphere at just the right spot – between the monks and the moon – making the observers believe that what they saw was happening on the moon.

For the monks who saw this phenomenon this event would be very worrying indeed. For medieval people the moon was an ever-present, fascinating and mysterious object. The moon not only brought light to the night sky, but it also marked the passage of time and could determine the personality of man or woman.

That particular blog post is full of cool things and drawings go read it because you will be amazed at some of the advanced discoveries during a time known as the “dark ages.”

Ooof, this post turned out longer than I had planned. Hope you have a great day, stay cool and please let us know what you are reading and thinking about this morning.


Edward Snowden’s On-Line Presence Revealed

Edward Snowden, model

Edward Snowden, model

NSA Leaker Edward Snowden was thought to have no on-line presence until tonight. But now we know differently.

From Buzzfeed (via Anthony DeRosa), Snowden posted hundreds of comments on the Ars Technica forum over the past ten years under the handle “TheTrueHoohah.” Elle Hall and John Herrman at Buzzfeed:

The last of his 753 posts, first discovered by Anthony DeRosa, was posted on May 21, 2012, in response to a question about creating a “Dead Man’s Switch,” a program that would automatically delete a computer’s contents if its owner failed to log in periodically. Snowden replies, “You could write one. There are also plenty of orphaned Open Source ones out there you could pick up that need to be finished, if you want a head start.” This was the first time he had posted on the forum in six months.

Earlier, in a thread titled, “I’m a screwup,” he writes, “Join the army. Worked for me.” Two days later, in a discussion about emerging industries, he suggests “Counterterrorism” is an area that will expand within the next five years.

A number of Snowden’s posts are reproduced at Buzzfeed. Here’s one where he talks about being a high school dropout:

First off, the degree thing is crap, at least domestically. If you really have ten years of solid, provable IT experience (and given that you say you’re 25, I think it’d probably be best to underestimate), you CAN get a very well paying IT job. You just need to be either actively looking now or get the fuck out of California. I have no degree, nor even a high school diploma, but I’m making much more than what they’re paying you even though I’m only claiming six years of experience. It’s tough to “break in,” but once you land a “real” position, you’re made.

It takes a lot of bullshit to get to that point, though. I was unemployed for a full year and then had to work in a non-IT field for six months before I was able to get back in IT and double my salary.
If you do want a degree, I agree that going overseas is a much better idea than attending some $150k domestic diploma mill.
Also, don’t discount the Foreign Service. Someone already mentioned it, and it’s an amazing deal if you can swing it. I’m not talking Foreign Service Officer, either, just standard IT specialist positions.

They pay for your (ridiculously nice) housing and since you’ll be posted overseas, the first ~$80k you make will be tax-free.
Military is always an option as that door is not likely to close in the future. If you do decide to join, though, I would suggest considering using the opportunity to learn a new skill, as opposed to further specializing in IT. You only live once.

Snowden2

He posted about getting a job as a model.

So I got invited to model for this guy (potentially NSFW) last week, and I just now got the proofs back from him. He shoots mostly guys, and he’s got some… “questionable” people interested in his work, so I was actually a little worried he might, you know, try to pull my pants off and choke me to death with them, but he turned out to be legit and is a pretty damn good model photographer.

It’s only my third shoot, so be gentle.

Here are the photos

He writes that he works for the State Department:

WINNAR!

Although I’m not a diplomat, I work for the Department of State. I actually signed up because of the opportunity for foreign travel, so I’m not bent out of shape at all. All of the inflexible terms in the OP were to establish some sort of ground rules for the hypothetical so it didn’t veer off into insanity.

That said, I’m surprised by the showing Australia made in the poll. I have to wonder if it’s really the paradise Arsians seem to think it is, but being that this is a nerds’ forum, I’m suprised ANYTHING beat out Japan. I also don’t see the allure of “Scandinavian” countries, but that’s simply because I don’t want to live in a country where warmth and comfort are only spoken of in bedtime stories.

China is definitely a good option career-wise, and I’ve already got a basic understanding of Mandarin and the culture, but it just doesn’t seem like as much “fun” as some of the other places. Who knows where the “needs of the service” will actually end up placing me, though.

Azerbaijan, anyone?

He writes about being discharged from the Army Reserves:

Discharges do not happen fast. Both of my legs were broken during AIT and they held on to me until the doctors cleared me to be discharged, and then after being cleared they held onto me for another month just for shits and giggles.

Psych problems = dishonorable/BC discharge depending on how much they hate you. Lots of alleged homos were in the hold unit, too, but they only got a general discharge at best.

If they think he is fucking with them, he is going to get screwed. Hard.

JJ was right that Snowden is an old movie buff. I haven’t located any posts about that yet, but someone on twitter told me after I tweeted JJ’s comments about North By Northwest and Citizen Kane. Here’s what she wrote:

JJ Lopez Minkoff
June 12, 2013 at 4:51 pm (Edit)
Has anyone noticed lots of this guys stories and quotes seem to come from movies?
North by Northwest? this drunk driving thing
Citizen Kane? That shit about being “An American.”

You can read lots more of Snowden’s musings at the two links above, or just google “TheTrueHOOHA
Ars Scholae Palatinae”

I had a weird feeling about this guy all along. I knew there was something hinky about him. But was he really recruited by the CIA? Is he really a whistleblower? Why didn’t Glenn Greenwald discover his on-line presence? What will we learn next about Edward Snowden?