It looks like an evening reads post…Open Thread

Good Late Night!

I am running behind today, but happy because I actually have gotten a lot done. Anyway, I will post some items for you tonight…

That saying, a picture is worth a thousand words…could not be more appropriate here, check this out:

Walmart Blames Rogue Supplier for Apparel Found at Site of Deadly Factory Fire (Updated)

NGOs slammed Walmart following a Saturday fire that killed at least 112 workers at a Bangladesh factory which has supplied apparel to the retail giant. While Walmart said Sunday night that it had not confirmed that it has any relationship to the factory, photos taken following the fire (first published by The Nation early Monday afternoon) show piles of clothes made for one of its exclusive brands. In a new statement released Monday evening, Walmart said that at the time of the fire, the factory “was no longer authorized to produce merchandise for Walmart” and said that a supplier had “subcontracted work to this factory without authorization and in direct violation of our policies.”

 


Photo Credit: International Labor Rights Forum

Give that piece a read in its entirety, as there have been many updates to this story. I have to ask Dan if those pants look familiar to him, I’d be curious if they are clothing from previous seasons or the items for spring 2013.

In Texas, a group of World War II veterans got together to talk about their experiences. Texas World War II submariners meet to share stories

The four men in yellow vests stand out in the Golden Corral restaurant, where about 30 U.S. military veterans are gathered on a recent Saturday to eat and talk about submarines.

Their hair is a little grayer. They move slower. And the younger men there don’t hesitate to remind anyone talking to the United States Submarine Veterans Inc. Cowtown Base to speak up so these fellows can hear.

They are World War II veterans, a small but treasured generation of submariners now in their 80s and 90s. Nationally, their numbers have dwindled as the men have grown old and died. Reunions have gotten scarce. Organizations have dissolved.

But Dallas-Fort Worth remains home to a handful of World War II submariners whose sea stories hold an irreplaceable spot in U.S military history.

Again, that is just a taste, go spend a few minutes with that article.

I’m going to stick with this history “stuff” for the rest of the post. This next link goes directly to an archive of letters and documents from William Tecumseh Sherman. I thought that with Boston Boomer’s review of Lincoln, it would be neat for you to take a look at some other figures in the Civil War. But why bring this particular letter up? Because I think it has a few sentences that you will appreciate. Sherman Writes a Friend Touring the Levant

The ex-Commanding General of the United States Army was sixty, the widow of his chief of staff but thirty-five, and whether he bedded her six weeks after her husband’s death in 1880 is neither proven nor disproven here. What is clear is that ten years after Joseph Audenreid died, Sherman was intimately involved in Mary Audenreid’s life, and in that of her wayward daughter, Florence; and fond enough, still, of Colonel Audenreid, to have mentioned him not once but twice, in this joshing missive about travel and the Levant.

Here is the part I wanted to bring to your attention.

No 75 – West 71 Str
New York.
Jan 20, 1890

Dear Mrs. Audenreid,

I am just in receipt of your letter of Jan 3rd dated Naples in which you say that it is agreed by the parties concerned that you go to Cairo, the Holy Land, Smyrna, Constantinople, Athens &c &c. No wonder like Hamlet you see the ghosts of Audenreid and Sherman beckoning you on to the End. You are at this moment on our footsteps of 1872 only we were men and you are women. And I will not be the least astonished if the mysterious cable announces that  those [you] Philadelphia girls have been abducted into the harem of some rich merchant of Smyrna, squatting on the divan, eating sweet meats and delighted when the little bell tinkles and tells his favorite that he wants her. Florence would realize the dream of Byron in his Bride of Abydos: but what would Audenreid think? No! the world has changed. Woman is no longer the slave of the man, but his equal.

He goes on to talk about the importance of a woman, and her relationship with her family…but I really thought that was a an interesting comment, and a surprisingly modern observation.

Okay, now on to another history centered link. 10 Incredible Places Carved From Rock | Listverse This is fun, check out the full list…

When we talk about rocked carved sites most people will think of Petra in Jordan. It is certainly worthy of its fame because it is so beautiful. But what many don’t know is that it is but one of many similar rock carvings – some of which should perhaps hold the honor of being more beautiful. In this list we look at ten rock carved sites that you very probably are unaware of.

They are all fascinating, but since I have the Indian artwork up top, I will stick with one of India’s incredible places carved from rock.

The Ajanta Caves are in Maharashtra, India and they comprise of around 30 carved Buddha statues. What makes these caves extra special though is the large number of very beautiful paintings – excellent examples of Indian art at its finest. They date from the 2nd century BC.

One more quick thing tonight, I am so excited about an unexpected surprise which has allowed me to get something I have wanted for a very long time. An old manual typewriter…and I am fortunate to have found one, in good working condition and a good price. Here it is, Typed On Paper: Olympia SM3 

Olympia SM3

Olympia SM3

Olympia SM3 is the same typewriter used by Woody Allen and Patricia Highsmith…along with several other authors. I am looking forward to having this part of history connected to my written stories.

You can find more information on these Olympia typewriters at that link.

This is an open thread…


Friday Nite Lites: Binders, Cave Walls and the Importance of Editorial Cartoons

Via Kathy on my Facebook page…Scrolls full of women….love it!

Time again for those wonderful political editorial cartoons. First I want to bring you this essay by Mr. Fish. I’ve no doubt that many of you know my fondness for editorial cartoons. I think they are one of the most essential forms of expression and feel sure that you will agree they are vital in times like these.  So please read this essay in full. It is a long read but worth it.

Mr. Fish: Drawing Conclusions: The Editorial Cartoon – Truthdig

Mr. Fish is the curator of “Drawing Conclusions,” an exhibit exploring the history of editorial cartooning on display at USC Annenberg’s Second Floor Gallery and Room 207 from Oct. 24 to May 13, 2013. It is co-sponsored by The Future of Journalism Foundation, a project of Community Partners.

I have no idea what readership is of written editorials, but it doesn’t come anywhere close to the readership of editorial cartoons.
–Paul Conrad, editorial cartoonist for the Los Angeles Times

Stop them damned pictures! I don’t care so much what the papers say about me. My constituents don’t know how to read, but they can’t help seeing them damned pictures!
–William “Boss” Tweed, discredited New York politician responding to editorial cartoons by Thomas Nast

Art is a finger up the bourgeoisie ass.
–Pablo Picasso

For reasons that may have to do only with the perfunctory indifference that comes with incuriosity, there has never been a precise understanding by the dominant culture of what an editorial cartoonist is. Having been inexorably linked to journalism because their work has traditionally been published in daily newspapers, the value and professional integrity of editorial cartoonists have been unfairly forced to rise and fall with the health of the Fourth Estate.

Thus, with the steady disintegration of the print media and the pandemic elimination of staff cartoonist positions from periodicals everywhere, the question has become: Without an industry to sustain the definition of what an editorial cartoonist has come to mean to the public mind, what will happen to those men and women who draw pictures containing a political or social message? When circumstances in a society shift dramatically enough to make extinct a profession so narrowly defined by myopic and mainstream ideas, does this mean the end of the activity previously exercised within that profession, or does it merely demand a reconfiguration of consciousness allowing for the emergence of a more enlightened understanding of what the editorial cartoonist’s job is and where it might best find support, institutional or otherwise? In other words, is cartooning a vocation or a calling?

It’s arguable that editorial cartooning, in one form or another, has been with us ever since, in the words of Mark Twain, God made the mistake of preserving sin by not forbidding Eve to devour the snake, an act of bureaucratic mismanagement so fundamentally destructive that our sense of moral self-determinism has never been the same. Nor has our belief in the absolute wisdom of our authority figures.

But editorial cartooning has been around even longer than that.  In fact, it is not beyond comprehension that we have never been without it, particularly if we are to define the word “editorial” as the exposition of a personal opinion and “cartooning” merely as the rendering of that opinion in pictorial form. Given such a description, we come to find that the earliest practitioners of the art form were editorializing on the walls of limestone caves in the south of France some 33,000 years ago, eons before the Bible places the events that took place in the Garden of Eden. Of even greater significance is how these cave drawings predate the invention of the written word by the Sumerians of ancient Mesopotamia by 30,000 years, proof that when it comes to the mode of communication upon which human beings have historically most relied, it is the visual depiction of our life’s experiences, rather than phonetic symbols arranged on a straight line, that have proven themselves most deeply meaningful.

That is just the first few paragraphs. Read the rest at the link above.

Now on with the show.

Let’s start with some cartoons on Malala Yousafzia, the Pakistani girl shot by the Taliban early last week.

Cagle Post – Political Cartoons & Commentary – » Afghan Women

Afghan Women © Bill Day,Cagle Cartoons,Taliban,women,children,malala yousafzai

Cagle Post – Political Cartoons & Commentary – » Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai © Pat Bagley,Salt Lake Tribune,Malala,Yousafzai,Taliban,Pakistan,education,knowledge,Women,malala yousafzai

Cagle Post – Political Cartoons & Commentary – » Malalas Courage

Malalas Courage © Jeff Koterba,Omaha World Herald, NE,malala,courage,taliban,shooting,education,women,teenager,school

Cagle Post – Political Cartoons & Commentary – » And a Child Shall Lead Them

And a Child Shall Lead Them © Mark Streeter,The Savannah Morning News,malala yousafzai,activist,school,terror,child,taliban,shooting

Cagle Post – Political Cartoons & Commentary – » CANADA Bullies

CANADA Bullies © Cardow,The Ottawa Citizen,CANADA,bullying,online,facebook,social,media,teenagers,Amanda,Todd,suicide,Pakistan,Malala,Yousafzai,Taliban,malala yousafzai

Now for some cartoons on Romney, including his binders full of women:

Talk about monsters in your closet, or at your front door: AAEC – Political Cartoon by Gustavo Rodriguez, El Nuevo Herald – 10/17/2012

Cartoon by Gustavo Rodriguez -

From my favorite cartoonist: 10/21 Mike Luckovich cartoon: Halloween candy | Mike Luckovich

mike102112

A woman’s place is in the binder – Political Cartoon by J.D. Crowe, Mobile Register – 10/19/2012

Cartoon by J.D. Crowe - A woman's place is in the binder

AAEC – Political Cartoon by John Cole, Scranton Times/Tribune – 10/19/2012

Cartoon by John Cole -

Now a few on the debates:

Cagle Post – Political Cartoons & Commentary – » VP Debate: Smile over substance

VP Debate: Smile over substance © Rob Tornoe,Media Matters,Paul Ryan,Joe Biden,Fox News,media,Vice President,VP Debate,water,debate,biden ryan debate

AAEC – Political Cartoon by Joe Heller, Green Bay Press-Gazette – 10/19/2012

Cartoon by Joe Heller -

BB sent me this next one, from Pat Bagley at the Salt Lake Tribune:

A few on Paul Ryan, and the Right Wing:

AAEC – Political Cartoon by Matt Bors, Universal Press Syndicate – 10/17/2012

Cartoon by Matt Bors -

Cagle Post – Political Cartoons & Commentary – » 850 Calorie School Lunch

850 Calorie School Lunch © Bob Englehart,The Hartford Courant,school,food,calories,lunch,bread,water,students

(I do have to say, this cut in school lunch should bring healthier food, but they should not cut the portions.)

AAEC – Political Cartoon by David Horsey, Los Angeles Times – 10/19/2012

Cartoon by David Horsey -

And with that Trolling Ratfucker…I end this post!


Sunday Reads: Once more with confidence…

With all this heat, I could not bear to put up a picture of hot coffee…so here is a nice cool watermelon to enjoy your summer morning Sunday reads.

Good Morning!

Actually that exclamation point seems a bit overstated. I wanted to write a poetic introduction to this morning’s post. I sat on my bed with the laptop angled up on my lower legs…my fingers on the well-worn keyboard, and nothing could make them move and flick the keys, to write out words on the computer page. I just looked at my hands and saw only that my nails needed to be clipped, and the screen needed to be cleaned.

Must be the heat, it zaps any intelligent thought out of my brain, and it drives my mind into stillness. Nothingness. Only the relief pouring out of my A/C unit and the sound of my fan falls on me. Nothing.

I won’t kid you all into thinking that I have any thought-provoking comment on the news links today. These plastic keys are getting hot under the pressure of my fingertips as they sit waiting for me to get on with it.

Dammit, I should have known that naming a post, once more with confidence was just asking for trouble. So all that I wrote for the intro to this morning’s post is poof, gone. My computer froze, it too must be affected by the heat. No kidding, I had to take a picture of the computer screen so I could retype the paragraphs I did write. Ugh…

For the start of today’s post, I give you this…h/t Boston Boomer who sent me the link last night while I was having computer problems.

Weimar America …Before I even read the article I knew exactly what I was going to be reading about…what little brain cells I have left, the ones who have not melted in the heat, could grasp that headline.

What happens when a nation that was once an economic powerhouse turns its back on democracy and on its middle class, as wealthy right-wingers wage austerity campaigns and enable extremist politics?

It may sound like America in 2012. But it was also Germany in 1932.

Since I’ve been re-reading the book Banality of Evil, and just last month finished the book In the Garden of Beast, this article is not at all surprising to me.

Most Americans have never heard of the Weimar Republic, Germany’s democratic interlude between World War I and World War II. Those who have usually see it as a prologue to the horrors of Nazi Germany, an unstable transition between imperialism and fascism. In this view, Hitler’s rise to power is treated as an inevitable outcome of the Great Depression, rather than the result of a decision by right-wing politicians to make him chancellor in early 1933.

Historians reject teleological approaches to studying the past. No outcome is inevitable, even if some are more likely than others. Rather than looking for predictable outcomes, we ought to be looking to the past to understand how systems operate, especially liberal capitalist democracies. In that sense, Weimar Germany holds many useful lessons for contemporary Americans. In particular, there are four major points of similarity between Weimar Germany and Weimar America worth examining.

Please, if you read nothing else, read the rest of this article…

Next up…David Miscavige: A cult figure in the fame game  This link is about the cult of Scientology, it’s big shot leader and Sea Org…and it is freaky stuff! If you do not know what Sea Org is, you may be one of those folks who have not kept up with the Tom Cruise/Katie Holmes split. Some gossip mags are speculating that Sea Org is the reason behind Holmes filing for divorce and seeking full custody of their daughter. Well, I have no comment on that…but a cult is a cult, nuff said.

At first glance, the handsome Georgian mansion in the heart of the Sussex countryside could easily be mistaken for a National Trust property. Indeed, at this time of year, Saint Hill Manor would not look out of place in a BBC costume drama; lawns are manicured and greenhouses stocked with abundant produce.

Only the presence of stern-faced young men sporting pristine black naval uniforms and white flat caps indicate Saint Hill’s true calling. The cadets are members of the Sea Org, the 6,000-strong unit within the Church of Scientology that is run along quasi-military lines and which is treated with a degree of respect that borders on fear by some of its followers.

Many members are little more than children who have signed contracts pledging to perform a billion years of service for the fledgling church which was set up in 1954 by the former pulp fiction writer L Ron Hubbard, and is famed for its celebrity followers.

Banned from having children while part of the group, Sea Org members are considered the Scientology elite, shock troops to be dispatched to the church’s trouble spots. Hubbard declared that they had “unlimited ethics powers”.

Uh…again I can only say, it’s a cult!

Small-framed, sharp-featured and with an unnerving gaze, Miscavige’s official title is “chairman of the Board of Religious Technology Centre“, a stand-alone organisation whose remit is to “preserve, maintain and protect the Scientology religion”. According to the church, the centre “holds the ultimate ecclesiastical authority regarding the standard and pure application of L Ron Hubbard’s religious technologies”.

What this means in practice, according to those who have quit the church, is that Miscavige wields absolute power over Scientology’s followers.

I will omit the Cruise/Holmes discussion and get back to Miscavige:

Scientology claims the abuse it receives is typical of the treatment meted out down the centuries to any new religion. But a plethora of lawsuits alleging that Scientology has harassed its critics, humiliated and beaten its followers and forced family members to break off contact with their loved ones, all denied by the church, have conspired to leave a sinister impression.

There is also unease over the apparent disappearance of Miscavige’s wife, Shelly, another former member of the Sea Org, who was responsible for introducing Holmes to Cruise and who has reportedly not been seen in public since 2007.

In a letter to the Observer, Jeffrey K Riffer, a lawyer who acts for Shelly Miscavige, denied claims his client was missing. “Mrs Miscavige has been working nonstop in the church, as she always has.”

Once it was the case that the church could rely on its internal disciplinary mechanism to ensure negative publicity was kept to a minimum. According to lawsuits, contested by the church, followers were threatened with manual labour if they spoke out about harsh treatment. The ever-present threat of being rejected by the church and having all links with it broken off, was enough to make even sceptical Scientologists stay silent.

But this fear no longer holds sway – even among Miscavige’s own family. “My experience in growing up in Scientology is that it is both mentally and at times physically abusive,” his niece, Jenna Miscavige Hill, told the Hollywood Reporter. “We got a lousy education from unqualified teachers, forced labour… not to mention the mental anguish of trying to figure out all of the conflicting information they force upon you as a young child…

Questions also loom about the fortunes that Miscavige spends on living up his celebrity lifestyle…

Even those who are supportive of the church are tired of Miscavige’s influence. Last New Year’s Eve, Debbie Cook, a high-profile Scientologist, emailed the church’s followers, urging them to reject its demands for money. Under Miscavige, Cook said, Scientology had become too focused on luxury buildings and was holding more than $1bn in reserve instead of spending it on spreading the religion, claims denied by the church. Miscavige, Cook claimed, had dismantled the internal checks that were supposed to prevent the church from being led by a single person.

There are claims that several of Scientology’s former followers have briefed the FBI on Miscavige’s lifestyle. It is alleged that he owns numerous vehicles, flies in corporate jets and has five stewards and two chefs at his disposal – claims denied by the church.

It is ironic that Miscavige, who by masterminding Scientology’s successful claim for tax exemption from the US Internal Revenue Service in 1993 transformed the church’s fortunes, now finds himself its biggest liability.

Well, I still can’t believe this cult is considered a “church” just thinking of all the tax exemptions alone is enough to piss me off. That there is a missing wife, crazed celebrities and indoctrination of children just adds fuel to the fire.

Let’s keep the rage flowing:  TN Tea Party Groups Demand School Textbooks Overlook Slavery

Remember the Tea Party — that reactionary right wing movement that helped lead the Republican Party into the fever swamp of madness?

Well, in places like Tennessee they found especially fertile ground, and that state’s Teabaggers are now demanding that school textbooks leave out America’s history of slavery.

A little more than a year after the conservative-led state board of education in Texas approved massive changes to its school textbooks to put slavery in a more positive light, a group of Tea Party activists in Tennessee has renewed its push to whitewash school textbooks. The group is seeking to remove references to slavery and mentions of the country’s founders being slave owners.

You know, over at the Holocaust museum there was a section that focused on propaganda, and the way the Nazi’s changed the kids history books to push the Aryan ideal and make the kids “good little Nazis.”

From Tennessee to Louisiana, the tea party nutcases are working hard to fuck up the education system. Louisiana Legislator Upset That Education Vouchers Can Go to Muslim Schools

It looks like someone’s pocket Constitution was lost before she voted in the Louisiana legislature. That’s Republican legislator Valarie Hodges, who wholeheartedly supported Bobby Jindal’s school voucher program. Well, she supported it until she discovered that — GASP! — state money could go to Muslim schools.

Now she’s just horrified.

Rep. Valarie Hodges, R-Watson, says she had no idea that Gov. Bobby Jindal’s overhaul of the state’s educational system might mean taxpayer support of Muslim schools.

“I actually support funding for teaching the fundamentals of America’s Founding Fathers’ religion, which is Christianity, in public schools or private schools,” the District 64 Representative said Monday.

“I liked the idea of giving parents the option of sending their children to a public school or a Christian school,” Hodges said.

Hodges mistakenly assumed that “religious” meant “Christian.”

HB976, now signed into law as Act 2, proposed, among other things, a voucher program allowing state educational funds to be used to send students to schools run by religious groups.

Well….what about that assumption?

“Unfortunately it will not be limited to the Founders’ religion,” Hodges said. “We need to insure that it does not open the door to fund radical Islam schools. There are a thousand Muslim schools that have sprung up recently. I do not support using public funds for teaching Islam anywhere here in Louisiana.”

Well, hey, Rep. Hodges. You don’t get to pick and choose the “permissible religions” when you hand over public funds to private concerns, which is why those of us with half a brain think that public school money ought to be used to fund public institutions, especially when there is NO “founders’ religion.”

See, that way it’s easy. My tax money doesn’t go to fund stupid conservative, narrow-minded, intellectually dishonest education controlled by Catholic bishops and Southern Baptist wingnuts, and your tax money doesn’t go to Muslims. Didn’t you believe that whole “freedom of religion” thing in the Constitution?

Jezebel has a funny take on this story here: Republican Horrified to Discover that Christianity is Not the Only Religion

It’s an honest mistake, assuming that the Constitution only protects your own personal megachurch faith. But one Louisiana Republican is learning the hard way that religious school vouchers can be used to fund education at all sorts of religious schools, even Muslim ones. And while she’s totally in favor of taxpayer money being used to pay for kids to go to Christian schools, she’s willing to put a stop to the entire program if Muslim schools are going to be involved.

Valarie Hodges admitted that when she supported Governor Bobby Jindal’s school voucher program, she only did so because she assumed the religious school vouchers could only be used for Christian schools. Religious freedom means that everyone’s free to follow Valarie Hodges’ religion!

Okay, looks like I have a theme going here, and I did not even notice it.  But back to the Jezebel link:

As The Friendly Atheist points out, the brand of Christianity currently espoused by many in the religious right wing would be pretty unrecognizable to the Founding Fathers, who were pretty high on Deism and pretty low on Christian rock concerts/ talking about The Children’s collective virginity/ having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. But whatever. Facts are immaterial at this point.

Yup, there is no need to have facts…or science, or anything at all resembling intelligence.

Case in point: LePage calls IRS the ‘new Gestapo’  You know, this healthcare reform, ACA,  is what the GOP supported before it got signed into law and renamed after Obama.

Gov. Paul LePage used his weekly radio address to blast President Obama’s health care law and described the Internal Revenue Service as the “new Gestapo.”

The IRS description was a reference to a provision in the Affordable Care Act that requires Americans not insured by their employers or Medicaid to buy health insurance or pay an annual penalty when filing their tax returns. The provision, known more broadly as the individual mandate, was the subject of a multi-state lawsuit, but was recently upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

LePage said the court decision has “made America less free.”

“We the people have been told there is no choice,” he said. “You must buy health insurance or pay the new Gestapo — the IRS.”

Maine Democratic Party Chairman Ben Grant, responding to LePage’s remarks, said, “We’ve come to expect a bunch of nonsense from Gov. LePage, but this is a step too far. There appears now to be no limit to the extreme language he will use to misinform, degrade and insult people. Somebody needs to explain to him that he’s the governor of a state, and not a talk radio host. I demand a full apology on behalf of all those who suffered at the hands of the real Gestapo.”

[…]

The debate over the mandate has become a political flash point since the health law was enacted. Republicans maintain that the requirement is an unfair tax. Democrats say the mandate was originally a Republican idea born from the conservative Heritage Foundation, which introduced the measure in 1989 as a counterpoint to calls for a single-payer health care system.

[…]

The governor added that Maine will not move forward the ACA’s insurance exchanges — the marketplaces where individuals can shop for health plans from private companies — until the proposed $800 million tab to pay for them passes Congress.

“With these looming uncertainties circling around this issue, Maine cannot move forward right now with Obamacare,” LePage said.

The governor finished his radio address by outlining his ideological opposition to the health-care law, which he said “raises taxes, cuts Medicare for the elderly, gets between patients and their doctors, costs trillions of taxpayer dollars, and kills jobs.”

“Even more disheartening is that reviving the American dream just became nearly impossible to do,” he said. “We are now a nation which supports dependency rather than independence. Instead of encouraging self-reliance, we are encouraging people to rely on the government.”

Oh boy…

Now, let’s move on to the latest news out of the Justice Department: Holder says civil rights ‘under renewed threat’

In an address to the National Council of La Raza convention in Las Vegas on Saturday, Attorney General Eric Holder told the Hispanic advocacy group that the gains of the Civil Rights era were coming “under renewed threat,” and touted the administration’s efforts in protecting the rights of minority groups and immigrants.

“Many of you know this firsthand – and have felt the impact of division, and even discrimination, in your own lives,” said Holder in his address, according to prepared remarks released by the Justice Department.”

The attorney general pledged that the civil rights advocacy group would “never have a more committed partner than the United States Department of Justice” and touted the administration’s record on those issues.

In particular, Holder highlighted the Supreme Court’s ruling last week striking down much of Arizona’s law targeting illegal immigration.

[…]

Holder said with the decision, the justices were “confirming the federal government’s exclusive authority to regulate with regard to immigration issues.”

But Holder, expressed concerns over the provision left standing. “We’ll work to ensure – as the Court affirmed – that such laws cannot be seen as a license to engage in racial profiling.  And we’ll continue to enforce federal prohibitions against racial and ethnic discrimination, in order – as President Obama has promised – to “uphold our tradition as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants,” he said.

The attorney general also touted the administration’s decision to halt the deportation of some young illegal immigrants, a move popular within the Hispanic community, calling it “a significant – and long-overdue – improvement to our nation’s immigration policy.”

Holder said the next step was for lawmakers to push through more comprehensive immigration reform and he said the administration would “keep working with Congressional leaders – from both parties – to advance the passage of critical legislation like the DREAM Act.”

Hmmm, in an election year…yes, that would be a dream in itself. However according to Holder:

“Over the past three years, our Civil Rights Division has filed more criminal civil rights cases than during any other period in its history – including record numbers of human trafficking, hate crimes, and police misconduct cases,” said Holder, pledging that such efforts would remain a “top priority” for the department.

The Obama administration is also sending Vice President Biden to the convention. He is scheduled to speak on Tuesday.

Romney, however, will not be attending, and chose instead to send a surrogate, former Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez. Gutierrez was not given a speaking role and instead met with attendees at the conference.

Okay, that about does it for me. Except for one little wish, and that goes to Barney Frank…congratulations on getting hitched this weekend. Rep. Barney Frank Marries Longtime Partner In Newton

Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank tied the knot with his longtime partner Jim Ready on Saturday.

The 72-year-old congressman tried to keep the details of the private ceremony under wraps, but managed to drop enough clues to tip off the media.

Governor Patrick officiated the wedding.

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Al Green, Rep. Jim McGovern, and others were seen arriving at the Newton Marriott Saturday evening.

[…]

Ready, 42, lives in Ogunquit, Maine and runs a small business that does custom awnings, carpentry, painting, welding and other services; he is also a photographer.

And what are you all reading about this morning? Stay cool and don’t even bother walking outside today, give this video of Absolutely Fabulous a look-see…especially starting at the 8:20 mark. “Sweetie…Now prepare yourself for the heat…you’re not used to it.”


Sunday Reads: Memorial Days and One Hot Summer Ahead

Memorial Day 1909, click image to see more vintage postcards.

Morning all!

This is a long weekend for many of you, and I hope that you all are enjoying it! Take care because it is during these weekends that bring about travel and water related fatalities.

Earlier this week, Boston Boomer mentioned something in a comment about the origin of Memorial Day. So I thought this link from the New York Times was interesting… Many Claim to Be Memorial Day Birthplace

James Rajotte for The New York Times

WATERLOO, N.Y.: OFFICIAL RECOGNITION Col. Lars Braun, who had just returned from 14 months in Iraq, in a Memorial Day parade in 2008 with his daughter, Rachel. In 1966, a presidential proclamation designated the town, in the Finger Lakes area, the official birthplace of Memorial Day.

Right on either side of Alabama, there are two places with the same name.

Like the one over in Mississippi, this Columbus was founded in the 1820s and sits just a few minutes from countryside in almost any way you drive.

Residents say it was here, in the years after the Civil War, that Memorial Day was born.

They say that in the other Columbus, too.

It does not take much for the historically curious in either town — like Richard Gardiner, a professor of teacher education at Columbus State University here — to explain why theirs is the true originator of a revered American holiday and why the other is well-meaning but simply misguided.

“I’m going to blame Memphis to some degree,” Professor Gardiner said, about which more later.

Oh boy, there is nothing like a good old-fashioned squabble about something that dates back to the Civil War.

The custom of strewing flowers on the graves of fallen soldiers has innumerable founders, going back perhaps beyond the horizon of recorded history, perhaps as far as war itself. But there is the ancient practice and there is Memorial Day, the specific holiday, arising from an order for the annual decoration of graves that was delivered in 1868 by Maj. Gen. John A. Logan, the commander in chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, a group made up of Union veterans of the Civil War.

According to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, roughly two dozen places claim to be the primary source of the holiday, an assertion found on plaques, on Web sites and in the dogged avowals of local historians across the country.

Yet each town seems to have different criteria: whether its ceremony was in fact the earliest to honor Civil War dead, or the first one that General Logan heard about, or the first one that conceived of a national, recurring day.

The article mentions several of the towns that claim being the first, but it focuses on two specific towns.

the claims of the two Columbuses, eyeing each other across Alabama, are among the more nuanced and possibly the most intertwined.

[…]

Columbus, Miss., was a hospital town, and in many cases a burial site, for both Union and Confederate casualties of Shiloh, brought in by the trainload. And it was in that Columbus where, at the initiation of four women who met in a 12-gabled house on North Fourth Street, a solemn procession was made to Friendship Cemetery on April 25, 1866.

As the story goes, one of the women spontaneously suggested that they decorate the graves of the Union as well as the Confederate dead, as each grave contained someone’s father, brother or son. A lawyer in Ithaca, N.Y., named Francis Miles Finch read about this reconciliatory gesture and wrote a poem about the ceremony in Columbus, “The Blue and the Gray,” which The Atlantic Monthly published in 1867.

“My view is it’s really the poem that inspired the nation,” said Rufus Ward, a retired district attorney, sitting in his basement and sipping a mint julep (his grandmother’s recipe, he said, the one she shared with Eudora Welty).

The Georgians dispute little of this. But they argue that the procession in the other Columbus was actually inspired by the events in their Columbus.

And what about Georgia’s Columbus?

…Professor Gardiner points to a local woman named Mary Ann Williams, who in the spring of 1866 wrote an open letter suggesting “a day be set apart annually” and become a “custom of the country” to decorate the graves of fallen soldiers with flowers.

That day, described as a national day, was chosen to be April 26, the anniversary of Gen. Joseph E. Johnston’s surrender in North Carolina to Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman of the Union Army. The letter, or a summary of it, ran in newspapers all over the South, and as far west as St. Louis and as far north as New Hampshire, leading to widespread ceremonies on that day.

It also ran in the The Memphis Daily Avalanche on March 27, 1866. But the paper had the wrong date — April 25.

“This misprint right here is the difference between what you’ll hear in Columbus, Mississippi, and here,” Professor Gardiner said, concluding that the Memphis misprint traveled to the other Columbus. The Mississippi commemoration did take place a day earlier, he admitted, but they go too far in claiming they came up with it independently. “I just can’t — I don’t buy it.”

But this day set by Mary Ann Williams was only for the Confederate dead. And still to this day the south celebrates Confederate Day, our Banjoville courthouse is closed on that day.

However, according to Professor of History David W. Blight, Yale University…the event that brought about Memorial Day is…

…a mostly forgotten — or possibly suppressed — event in Charleston, S.C., in 1865 at a racetrack turned war prison. Black workmen properly reburied the Union dead that were found there, and on May 1, a cemetery dedication was held, attended by thousands of freed blacks who marched in procession around the track.

He has called that the first Memorial Day, as it predated most of the other contenders, though he said he has no evidence that it led to General Logan’s call for a national holiday.

“I’m much more interested in the meaning that’s being conveyed in that incredible ritual than who’s first,” he said.

I agree with Blight’s assessment too. The meaning of the day is what is most important.

So with that in mind, please take a moment today and remember all the soldiers who have died in the service of their country.

More news links after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »


Happy Christmas Sunday Reads!

Vintage Ad, Lucky Strikes Santa...It's Toasted!

Good Morning, did Santa make a visit to your house last night?

Late last night, or perhaps it was early this morning, I was walking toward a cup of water I had resting on my night stand…and what do you think I saw? It was my own twisted version of the T-Rex water cup ripple scene from Jurassic Park. Only instead of a big huge hungry T-Rex making the water ripple as he walked towards the tasty Jeeps with the soft gooey filling, you know, the kids being the chewy center…my water cup ripples were caused by the weight of my fat ass as it walked across the wood floor of my bedroom…oh the horror.

Yes, I was actually causing a tremor of T-Rex proportions…And I have to say, that tremor was not due to holiday goodies and treats…I’m blessed with this sonic wave boom boom year round!

So, let’s get down to the bits of seasonal cheer…here are your morning reads for this Christmas Day, 2011.

I will start with some newsy links, and then get to a host of good holiday fun.

Airlines cleared to use Santa’s short-cut

Hard-pressed airlines have been handed the perfect Christmas present: permission to fly twin-jet aircraft over the North Pole, saving millions on fuel costs, opening up new destinations and reducing damage to the environment.

The easing of rules about how close twin-jets must keep to diversion airports means faster, cheaper and cleaner flights.

Until now, America’s aviation regulators have insisted that the nearest suitable place to land must be no more than three hours away. That has now been extended to five-and-a-half hours – so long as the airline meets a series of criteria, from additional equipment to special training.

That should make folks like Sir Richard Branson happy…

The latest news out of New Orleans: New Orleans Gets a Good Defense Lawyer

The New Orleans public defense system used to be famous. Or, more accurately, infamous: attorneys not showing up for trial or doing puzzles during hearings. A man convicted because his lawyer didn’t bother to track down the video that would have confirmed his alibi. Another man jailed for stealing $50 waiting more than 400 days to be interviewed by his court-appointed defender. Thanks in part to the Big Easy, Louisiana has the distinction of being the state with the highest rate of wrongful convictions and one of the highest reversal rates of capital convictions in the country. As one public defender cracks, “It’s no coincidence that a lot of the major Supreme Court criminal cases end with ‘v. Louisiana.'”

But that was before Katrina. “When the storm hit, it certainly did better than any lawsuit could have done to show the problem,” says Derwyn Bunton, the chief of the Orleans Public Defenders. Katrina demolished the city’s public defense system: The lawyers were funded by traffic fines, and there was no traffic anymore. Civil rights activists, lawyers, and the Justice Department stepped in, and by August 2007, a brand new OPD office was ready to do things differently.

Hmmm…maybe Dakinikat can give us the inside scoop on what she is hearing about the “new and improved OPD.”

Gorbachev is trying to give Putin some good advice: Gorbachev urges Putin to step down after protests

The 80-year-old Gorbachev carries little weight in Russia today. And while many Russians have grown weary with Putin’s rule, his opponents are split among numerous groups. They have no clear leader who could challenge Putin in the March presidential election.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators cheered opposition leaders and jeered the Kremlin in the biggest show of outrage yet against Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s 12-year rule.

The Moscow demonstration was even bigger than a similar rally two weeks ago, signaling that the protest movement ignited by the fraud-tainted 4 December parliamentary election may be growing. Protest were also held in dozens of other cities and towns across Russia.

Rally participants densely packed a broad avenue, which has room for nearly 100,000 people, about 2.5 kilometers (some 1.5 miles) from the Kremlin, as the temperature dipped well below freezing. They chanted “Russia without Putin!”

A stage at the end of the 700-meter (0.43 mile) avenue featured placards reading “Russia will be free” and “This election Is a farce.” Heavy police cordons encircled the participants, who stood within metal barriers, and a police helicopter hovered overhead.

Alexei Navalny, a corruption-fighting lawyer and popular blogger, electrified the crowd when he took the stage. A rousing speaker, he had protesters shouting “We are the power!”

I wish that the US press would cover more of these protest in Russia, you get the feeling that the MSM does not want to open a big can of worms.

Did you hear about some new evolution discoveries: 600-Million-Year-Old Microscopic Fossils Upend Evolution Theory

A remarkable new fossil discovery of amoeba-like micro-organisms that lived 570 million years ago could make scientists rethink some widely-accepted theories about how complex life on Earth first evolved from a single-celled universal common ancestor.

[…]

The scientists say they were surprised when the results indicated the fossilized cell clusters were not animals or embryos. That is because it had long been thought that fossils showing this apparent pattern cell division represented the embryos of the earliest animals.

Instead, they say the finely detailed X-ray images exposed features pattern that led them to conclude the organisms were, “the reproductive spore bodies of single-celled ancestors of animals.”

The scientist claim that what has been written about microscopic fossils for the last ten years is “flat out wrong.” More in-depth explanations at the link.

And this last newsy link, Just say no to Christmas?

Susan Lee, a divorced mother of three in New York City, is taking a drastic step this year. “No Christmas for me,” she says. “No gifts, no turkey, no tree, no kidding.”

Lee, 41, a marketing consultant, says she needs a break from the stress and spending that are integral parts of the holiday. Her kids will celebrate a traditional Christmas with their dad, but she’s ignoring all the rituals.

“I start dreading Christmas from the time the decorations go up in the stores,” she says. “It stopped being fun for me, so I’ll find out this year if I can do without it altogether. I think it will be a relief. It already is.”

Oh, what a joy it must be to get out of the Christmas celebrations all together.  This year I was lucky, my daughter wrapped all the presents…even her own, which is something of a tradition in my family, I started wrapping all the presents when I was about 9 or 10.

Alright, now we get to the good stuff…hope you enjoy these links after the jump!

Read the rest of this entry »


Wednesday Reads: History…War on Christmas, War in Iraq, and the Fog of War

Peace River Citrus...tasty orange juice, freshly squeezed.

Good Morning!

Ooof, that is quite a lot of war in the title for today’s post…lots of things to share with you this morning. It’s been raining pretty steady and the wind is whipping up the cows in the pasture down here in Banjoland.

Today’s post is going to focus on a theme that revolves around History…but first, a quick article about  something meteorological.

This weather link is so damn cool!

I saw this article when it was first published earlier this week, and planned on using it for today…Weird Kelvin-Helmholtz Wave Clouds over Birmingham and let me tell you, it is freaky!

While driving through Birmingham, Alabama, Redditor alison_bee couldn’t help but notice the bizarre, repetitive wave shapes appearing in the clouds near the horizon. While these strange cloud formations look otherworldly, they’re an example of what’s called Kelvin-Helmholtz instability — which is a pretty awesome name for a spectacular phenomenon.

What did I tell you?

Heres what Redditor and meteorologist zensunnioracle had to say:

Meteorologist here. These are indeed Kelvin-Helmholtz waves. What is happening is that the nocturnal near-surface layers (lowest 50-100m) of the atmosphere are much more stable than the layers above it in the mornings. Until the ground heats up due to daytime heating, the surface layers stay more stable than the air over it. Kelvin-Helmholtz waves occur when the wind shear between the layers destabilizes the topmost portion of that stable layer, and entrains the air into the unstable layer. What you see is stable air being lifted, cooled, and condensed so that this process becomes visible, though this commonly happens many places without being visible.

As spectacular as these waves are here on Earth, the same forces create similar patters on the gas giant planets like Saturn and Jupiter. While those are some truly enormous waves, these pictures from alison_bee should show that the Earthbound variety aren’t to be sneezed at either.

Video of these clouds as they roll over the city at the link…

Do you remember that hostage situation in a Russian cinema back in 2002? European Court Orders Russia to Pay Victims of 2002 Theater Siege

The European Court of Human Rights has ordered Russia to pay more than $1.3 million to victims of the government’s mishandled attempt to end the siege of a Moscow theater in 2002.

The Strasbourg-based court ruled Tuesday that Russia had violated the European Convention on Human Rights by a lack of planning and poor execution of the rescue operation.

Chechen militants refused to surrender after a standoff at the Dubrovka theater lasting several days, leading Russian security forces to launch a raid on the theater, where the militants were holding more than 800 people hostage. The troops fired an unidentified gas into the theater to try to knock out the militants, but nearly 130 hostages died in the attempt.

In addition, the report stated that Russia did not provide adequate medical aid to the hostages after its rescue effort and failed to conduct an effective investigation of the tragedy.

This comes at a time when tensions are running high in Russia, as Peggy Sue described it in a post last week, The Russian Winter.

Well, the Arab Spring is still ongoing, I thought this next post was interesting because it discusses British History in the Middle East, and the lessons that should be learned. The ‘Arab spring’ and the west: seven lessons from history

talat harb 1956/2011

October 2011: Egyptians in Talat Harb square, Cairo, protest against military rule; October 1956: Egyptians demonstrate in the same square against British-French invasion. Photograph: Getty/Associated Press

There’s a real sense in which, more than any other part of the former colonial world, the Middle East has never been fully decolonised. Sitting on top of the bulk of the globe’s oil reserves, the Arab world has been the target of continual interference and intervention ever since it became formally independent.

Carved into artificial states after the first world war, it’s been bombed and occupied – by the US, Israel, Britain and France – and locked down with US bases and western-backed tyrannies. As the Palestinian blogger Lina Al-Sharif tweeted on Armistice Day this year, the “reason World War One isn’t over yet is because we in the Middle East are still living the consequences”.

Just a side note, I think the comparison of those two photos is a perfect introduction to this article.

The Arab uprisings that erupted in Tunisia a year ago have focused on corruption, poverty and lack of freedom, rather than western domination or Israeli occupation. But the fact that they kicked off against western-backed dictatorships meant they posed an immediate threat to the strategic order.

Since the day Hosni Mubarak fell in Egypt, there has been a relentless counter-drive by the western powers and their Gulf allies to buy off, crush or hijack the Arab revolutions. And they’ve got a deep well of experience to draw on: every centre of the Arab uprisings, from Egypt to Yemen, has lived through decades of imperial domination. All the main Nato states that bombed Libya, for example – the US, Britain, France and Italy – have had troops occupying the country well within living memory.

If the Arab revolutions are going to take control of their future, then, they’ll need to have to keep an eye on their recent past. So here are seven lessons from the history of western Middle East meddling, courtesy of the archive of Pathé News, colonial-era voice of Perfidious Albion itself.

Please go to the link to read about the seven lessons, the first one is a big lesson that we will probably never learn…there are also embedded videos to support the article, some go back to Libya and Jerusalem in the 1930’s.

And for another History Lesson, there is a lengthy timeline here at this link to MoJo: Lie by Lie: A Timeline of How We Got Into Iraq

George Bush Dr. Strangelove

At A congressional hearing examining the march to war in Iraq, Republican congressman Walter Jones posed “a very simple question” about the administration’s manipulation of intelligence: “How could the professionals see what was happening and nobody speak out?”

Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell’s former chief of staff, responded with an equally simple answer: “The vice president.”

Oh… this is extremely detailed, so just go read the entire thing! Perhaps it will make you remember some of the events listed, as it made me recall them, in my mind’s vivid memory.

History has yet to write the story of Bradley Manning, however, Amy Goodman has done a good job of reporting on his case. Amy Goodman: Bradley Manning and the Fog of War

Accused whistle-blower Pvt. Bradley Manning turned 24 Saturday. He spent his birthday in a pretrial military hearing that could ultimately lead to a sentence of life … or death. Manning stands accused of causing the largest leak of government secrets in United States history.

Goodman explains the reasons for his “imprisonment” and gives a summary of what his outlook may be:

Back in the Fort Meade, Md., hearing room, defense attorneys painted a picture of a chaotic forward operating base with little to no supervision, no controls whatsoever on soldiers’ access to classified data, and a young man in uniform struggling with his sexual identity in the era of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Manning repeatedly flew into rages, throwing furniture and once even punching a superior in the face, without punishment. His peers at the base said he should not be in a war zone. Yet he stayed, until his arrest 18 months ago.

Since his arrest, Manning has been in solitary confinement, for much of the time in Quantico, Va., under conditions so harsh that the U.N. special rapporteur on torture is investigating. Many believe the U.S. government is trying to break Manning in order to use him in its expected case of espionage against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. It also sends a dramatic message to any potential whistle-blower: “We will destroy you.”

For now, Manning sits attentively, reports say, facing possible death for “aiding the enemy.” The prosecution offered words Manning allegedly wrote to Assange as evidence of his guilt. In the email, Manning described the leak as “one of the more significant documents of our time, removing the fog of war and revealing the true nature of 21st century asymmetrical warfare.” History will no doubt use the same words as irrefutable proof of Manning’s courage.

There are so many things going on these days that indicate a change in the rights and liberties of American citizens. We are in the process of losing these rights in this Bush/Obama Administration.

I love this history theme for today’s post…here is another article from Truthdig: William Pfaff: History Tells Us Not to Dismiss a Democratic Challenge to Obama

A week ago, in the Providence Journal newspaper (in Rhode Island), the publisher of Harper’s Magazine, John R. MacArthur, wrote that President Barack Obama, through expedient political compromises, has lost the moral authority that an American president must command, and therefore has lost his right to a second presidential term. Mr. MacArthur quotes in support of his argument the veteran journalist Bill Moyers, who was a member of President Lyndon Johnson’s staff from 1965 to 1967, and since has become a prominent commentator on public television and in liberal and Democratic Party circles.

Just click the link to read the rest…and there is a note at the end of the post you may find interesting too. (Especially those following the Euro/EU economic news.)

And for the last link, we’re going Medieval…on the Right and Left’s perceptions of the “War on Christmas.”  Illuminating the “The War on Christmas” — Got Medieval

No snark today, just a few pretty medieval pictures interspersed with thoughts on this whole War on Christmas thing that you hear so much about these days.

At heart, I think, the War is a matter of incompatible perception. One camp looks at Christmas and sees this:

British Library MS Additional 52539, f. 2 (click-expandable)

And the other, this:

British Library MS Egerton 2045, f. 95 (click to expand)

Behold, a pair of “Adoration of the Magi”.* Neither version looks very much like the medieval marginalia this series typically features** but they both muck about with the page’s margins, nevertheless, so they’re fair game.

The second adoration is actually the most properly called “marginalia”; look closely, and you’ll see there’s a tiny rectangle of text there in the middle of the page, barely a half line of scripture.  Everything else–Jesus and Mary, the three magi and their retainers, the gifts, the castle, even the camel–is located fully within the page’s sumptuously decorated margin, a margin that has expanded so as to nearly blot out the page’s text.

Likewise with the first; it’s marginal, if only just.  While it’s technically a “historiated initial,” if you squint at the lower left quadrant, you’ll see that the kneeling cup-bearing servant is slipping out into the margin.  Everyone else is crowded in so that there’s no room left for him to stand in the main image.

Which one is the metaphor for the Christmas War-Uponers, and which the Christmas Defense Squad?

There is so much one can learn about the attitudes and thought process of the Medieval mind through the art of page decorations.

As the above blog post analyzes the pictures of Christmas, that include the Savior, an occasional Christmas “Beasty” and all the other familiar characters, i.e. the Three Wise Men, I wonder what the three idiots on the curvy couch would have to say about all this marginalization going on.

So this is your History Lesson for the day, what else are you reading and thinking about? See y’all later in the comments.

Hmmm…that makes me think of the phrase, See You in the Funny Papers.


Sunday Reads: It’s a Fluff Piece!

Good Morning!

As the title suggests, today’s morning reads are going to be mostly fluff…

Late last night I was sitting in our local Banjoville Mickey D’s, it was around midnight and the only people in the joint were a group of cheerleaders from the night’s football game and my family. What a scene…On the TV screen was Fox News, which is no surprise given the conservative “Christian” clientele…the TV was on mute, the CC subtitles were on, but the sound system was playing a medieval Gregorian chant.  And they had that music turned way up!

They must have it going for a reason…perhaps to make sure the good ol boy country folks won’t linger after they eat their burgers. So here we sit in this empty fast food restaurant, and my mother begins to talk about the book she is reading, The Brothers Karamazov. Only she called it The Brothers Kamikaze, and she didn’t catch the slip.

It was like a surreal episode from an early Twilight Zone…I felt completely detached, as if I was watching the scene like a spectator. And all the while, the monks are singing in Latin, Fox news has this guy with way too much Botox in his brow and forehead…jabbering on about the difference between Mormons and the real Jesus loving Christians, and my mother going on about the cruel nihilist characteristics of the Kamikaze brothers…

That is a perfect description of how I feel about this morning’s post, it is going to be a mix of links that don’t really add up to anything substantial.

First let’s get the soundtrack started, no not monks… but piranhas. New Study Finds Piranhas Talk To Each Other via Barking | Geekosystem

Red-bellied piranhas are already scary enough, but it turns out that these hyper-aggressive carnivorous fish are also quite the talkers. Using hydrophones to record the fish in captivity, Eric Parmentier from Belgium’s Université de Liège recorded a series of sounds that suggest the fish have a lexicon of audio signals produced in a rather unique way. The study has recently been published in The Journal of Experimental Biology.

The researchers were able to identify three distinct sounds, or “barks,” produced by the fish. In their research, they found that these barks were repeated in similar situations, suggesting that the sounds carry some kind of meaning. For instance, a low grunting sound seemed to signal other piranhas to keep their distance from the barking fish. A rhythmic thud bark, the researchers found, was associated with circling and fighting other fish. Lastly, chasing and nipping fish seemed to be the final level of signaling with a soft creating sound produced by their gnashing their teeth.

But here is the kicker, the fish are using their swim bladders to produce sound…for some reason when I read this I immediately thought of a beginning bag pipe player.

Previous piranha projects had revealed that the fish’s swim bladder — the organ that allows fish to adjust their boyancy in the water — was used to produce sound.

Using the swim bladder as a starting point, Parmentier’s team found that stimulating the muscles around the organ produced sound. Once the stimulation ceased, so did the sound. This is significant since it showed that the muscles were creating the sound and the bladder was not resonating, in which case the sound would have continued after the muscles ceased moving. It also showed that the frequency and pitch of the barks were determined entirely on the muscle contractions.

There is a link to a National Geographic video of the fish making the sounds…neat stuff.  I especially like the subtitles…Get away…Let’s Fight… I’m gonna kick your ass…and Hey Baby, let’s get it on.

On to the latest study that asked the question:  Did Columbus Cause Europe’s Little Ice Age? | Informed Comment

This story is irresistible for a world historian interested in climate change. Richard Nevle, a geochemist at Stanford, argues that the European advent in the New World, which killed 90% of the 80 million native Americans, caused the Little Ice Age.

The native peoples of the New World burned a lot of wood. When they largely didn’t exist anymore, because they suffered high mortality from a host of European diseases to which they had no immunity, they stopped putting carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Instead, forests grew rapidly since they weren’t being chopped down anymore, and land wasn’t being cleared for agriculture. Forests take in carbon dioxide and exhale oxygen, plus they fix some carbon dioxide in the soil. They are what is called a “carbon sink,” though not a really efficient one, since much of the carbon they take out of the atmosphere eventually finds its way back there. I suspect the dramatic fall-off in the burning of fossil fuels was the much more important cause here.

Less carbon dioxide reduces the “greenhouse effect” making the earth cooler.

An alternative theory is that reduced solar activity contributed to the cooling in the 1600s and 1700s. And the warming period of 900-1300 may have already been reversed in part by the Black Death in Europe and the Middle East, which wiped out one third of the population and would have reduced carbon emissions. Of course all these causes could have operated together.

And when you think of what the little ice age caused, it is clear that climate does affect out history and our future.

During the Little Ice age in Britain, people used to go ice skating on the Thames in the winter. Agriculture was badly hurt by shorter growing seasons, causing famines and violent competition over resources– i.e. wars and revolutions. Scandinavia, which had been a major player in world affairs during the warm centuries 900-1300– ruling Ireland and Sicily (where Vikings fought Arabs) and discovering North America– rapidly declined in significance as it froze over. Famously, there were bread famines in France in the 1780s that likely contributed to the outbreak of the French Revolution.

Give the article a read, Cole goes on to discuss other historical wars and famine and exploration that may find its sources in climate changes. I remember when the Egypt rising was taking place, there were articles talking about how the age of a population relates to various uprisings, wars and revolutions throughout history. It makes me think of this young group of people who have started a global occupation protest against austerity and big banksters. Interesting isn’t it?

Moving on from global warming and cooling, to salt.  Decadent Meal Made Entirely From Salt | Geekosystem

This monochromatic tableau is part of a new exhibition featuring the work of Ken and Julia Yonetani called Sense of Taste, currently on display at the GV Art gallery in London. Modeled after a traditional still life painting, this sculpture presents a decadent meal of cheese, fruit, wine, fresh fish, and lobster. However, it is made entirely out of salt.

Beautiful…what a picture. Click that link for some more cool images of sculptures made of salt and a quick description of how they do it.

I have more gorgeous images for you, this time pictures of movie legend Carole Lombard.  She Blogged By Night: Carole Lombard


Lombard really was beautiful and compelling, wasn’t she?

Oh yes, she sure was. More pictures at the link above.

From Minx’s Missing Link File:  Sticking with the movie theme, some of you may have seen The Ides of March this weekend, here is a review that I thought many of you would appreciate.  The Ides of March Has A Woman Problem | Mediaite

I went in to The Ides of March wanting to like it. I really wanted to! It has West Wing-esque political drama, following a candidate and his campaign for the Democratic nomination for President. It boasts a stellar cast including George Clooney and (feminist!) Ryan Gosling. It has already garnered significant Oscar buzz and is seen as a potential Best Picture contender. But five minutes in, it became glaringly obvious that even the combined star power of Clooney and Gosling couldn’t save this film from its major problem: the women.

In a cast full of all-star talent, there are two women in this movie and both characters are vapid, one-dimensional, and function only to prop up the male characters. As the film opens, the first female character (Evan Rachel Wood) is bringing coffee to a team entirely of men – she’s an intern. From what I can see in the film she is the only woman working on the entire campaign – was it really necessary to make her an intern?

Comparing this movie to The Social Network, which I thought showed women in a negative light, this movie is about a subject that is definitely a mans world, but the ceiling has received a few cracks in the last election…

And while American politics is still largely dominated by men – it has come a long way in the last several years, farther than the all-dude environment in Ides would lead you to believe. There have been dozens of prominent women running for office and even more working on campaigns in the last few election cycles: there have been Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Sarah Palin, and countless others. Patti Solis Doyle ran the Clinton campaign in 2007 and Donna Brazile ran the Gore campaign in 2000, to name just a couple. Yet nowhere in do the writers even consider the possibility that women may have had something worthwhile to contribute to politics.

Yes, wasn’t there a female president on West Wing? Maybe I am just thinking about something else. Even this election cycle, it seems plain to me that the US still isn’t ready for a female president. And if the war against women escalates, it will only make it harder for us to have that Madame President in the White House.

Easy Like Sunday Morning Link of the Week:  This article in Salon really spoke to me, and since we’ve been talking about moving pictures…it is the perfect way to end this fluff post.  R.I.P., the movie camera: 1888-2011 – Salon.com

Cecil B. DeMille

Cecil B. DeMille  (Credit: doctormacro.com)

Major manufacturers have ceased production of new motion picture film cameras; cinema as we once knew it is dead

We might as well call it: Cinema as we knew it is dead.

An article at the moviemaking technology website Creative Cow reports that the three major manufacturers of motion picture film cameras — Aaton, ARRI and Panavision — have all ceased production of new cameras within the last year, and will only make digital movie cameras from now on.  As the article’s author, Debra Kaufman, poignantly puts it, “Someone, somewhere in the world is now holding the last film camera ever to roll off the line.”

This is heartbreaking, and makes me think of the time when vinyl records went with the wind…

…Cinema is not just a medium. It is a language. Its essence — storytelling with shots and cuts, with or without sound — will survive the death of the physical material, celluloid, that many believed was inseparably linked to it. The physical essence of analog cinema won’t survive the death of film (except at museums and repertory houses that insist on showing 16mm and 35mm prints).

But digital cinema will become so adept at mimicking the look of film that within a couple of decades, even cinematographers may not be able to tell the difference. The painterly colors, supple gray scale, hard sharpness and enticing flicker of motion picture film were always important (if mostly unacknowledged) parts of cinema’s mass appeal. The makers of digital moviemaking equipment got hip to that in the late ’90s, and channeled their research and development money accordingly; it’s surely no coincidence that celluloid-chauvinist moviegoers and moviemakers stopped resisting the digital transition once they realized that the new, electronically-created movies could be made to look somewhat like the analog kind, with dense images, a flickery frame rate, and starkly defined planes of depth.

But let’s not kid ourselves: Now that analog filmmaking is dead, an ineffable beauty has died with it. Let’s raise two toasts, then — one to the glorious past, and one to the future, whatever it may hold.

Well, that is all I can do this early morning. (It is almost 3 am here in Banjoland and I am barely keeping my eyes open.) So what are you reading about today? I bet there is some real hard news in this cycle, let’s hear about some articles you have found this morning…