It is a big weekend for Hollywood, the Academy Awards are Sunday night, so we will start tonight’s cartoons with a few funnies about that golden bald man.
Nate Silver has some predictions up at his blog, Oscar Predictions, Election-Style .He is putting his statistics and calculations to work using:
the other awards that were given out in the run-up to the Oscars: the closest equivalent to pre-election polls. These have always been the best predictors of Oscar success. In fact, I have grown wary that methods that seek to account for a more complex array of factors are picking up on a lot of spurious correlations and identifying more noise than signal. If a film is the cinematic equivalent of Tim Pawlenty — something that looks like a contender in the abstract, but which isn’t picking up much support from actual voters — we should be skeptical that it would suddenly turn things around.
Just as our election forecasts assign more weight to certain polls, we do not treat all awards equally. Instead, some awards have a strong track record of picking the Oscar winners in their categories, whereas others almost never get the answer right (here’s looking at you, Los Angeles Film Critics Association).
These patterns aren’t random: instead, the main reason that some awards perform better is because some of them are voted on by people who will also vote for the Oscars. For instance, many members of the Screen Actors Guild will vote both for the SAG Awards and for the Oscars. In contrast to these “insider” awards are those like the Golden Globes, which are voted upon by “outsiders” like journalists or critics; these tend to be less reliable.
Go check out his predictions, and I will make sure to update you all on Nate’s results.
Now for the cartoons.
This is a good segue to cartoons about Sequester…
Now, this next cartoon is very clever…even if we may disagree with it: Cagle Post » Obama’s monster
I can’t help it, I am a sucker for Frankenstein.
Personally, I think they all are to blame! One more for you on the Sequester.
Okay, have you heard about the Olympics cutting wrestling from the games…
Now for the gun issue:
This one above is thought provoking…
Let’s end this with a few odds and ends:
This is an open thread…
Wow, I am not sure what is going on, but I am still tired! So here is the rest of the post from this morning. In link dump fashion of course. Grab some crackers or chips or melba toast and dig into these delectable DIPS…(Dumbass Intolerant PLUB Sentiments)
Go and read this link that PDgray shared…Sarah J. Jackson: What’s Wrong with Media Coverage of Women Olympians?
Then, go read this thing from Fox News…Serena flubs crowning moment
Then, take a look at this one…These Three Court Rulings on Women’s Health Will Give You a Rage Headache
Are you feeling it yet?
This one is sure to add one more layer to the already over topped sexist, racist, misogynistic hate encrusted Ritz cracker: From Bachmann to Romney: Coded racial rhetoric is out of control
Let’s start loading up on another chip, cause mine just broke under the weight of all that crap above…and besides we don’t want to double-dip a chip.
More DIPS shit? Basu: GOP opens door to a partisan judiciary
So it’s come to this. The Iowa Republican Party is demanding the state’s judiciary square its rulings with a GOP party platform plank, or be punished.
That’s in effect what party Chairman A.J. Spiker is doing when he calls on voters to oust Iowa Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins at the polls in November. Wiggins is targeted for being on the court that unanimously ruled the state cannot deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Using buzzwords about “activist judges” imposing their personal views, Spiker said, “The people of Iowa are tired of increasingly powerful bureaucrats arrogantly and deceitfully instituting law when they have no justification or ability to do so.” Actually, what Wiggins did was read the Iowa Constitution — exactly as the other six justices, both appointees by Republican and Democratic governors, did.
Woooo, after that kind of snacking I think we are ready for something to drink. So take a long pull on this cool one:
Daniel Garcia/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Ethiopia’s Tiki Gelana handled the field and the rain to finish the women’s marathon in record time.
On the narrow streets of Sunday’s women’s Olympic marathon, Tiki Gelana of Ethiopia reached for her water bottle and collided with another runner just beyond the halfway point. She fell to the ground and scraped her right elbow. She got up and was bumped again.
“I said, ‘Oh wow, I’m not going to finish,’ ” Gelana said. “I just concentrated on running. All of a sudden I made it.”
She did not see the runner who knocked her down inadvertently as runners scrambled to get their liquids and avoid dehydration. But Gelana climbed to her feet, remained poised and set an Olympic record to win in 2 hours 23 minutes 7 seconds.
Here is another cool drink to sip from: The women changing Britain’s unions
From left, Sian Rabi-Laleh of Unison, Alice Hood and Scarlet Harris of the TUC, Helen Parker-Jayne Isibor of the Musicians’ Union, Becky Wright of the TUC and Natalie Jacottet of the CWU. Photograph: Suki Dhanda
In 1943, Women’s Own reported an astonishing feat. “Job experts said that no woman could do boring, screwing a breech ring for the barrel of a six-pounder tank gun in a giant lathe, but Miss Megan Lewis, 22… has been doing it at the ordnance factory where 80% of machine operatives are women. She said, ‘I learned by watching the setter at the machine. Officials were astounded.’”
During the second world war, most women were at work against the wishes of the trade unions. Traditionally, unions argued that men needed to earn a “family wage” sufficient to keep a wife and children and this should not be undercut by women claiming male skilled jobs and equal pay; a woman’s place was in the home. Employment was – and still often is – segregated. Men then were employed in heavy industry, women in the low-paid business of care, secretarial and admin work and the service sector.
Trade unions are an important component in a democratic society, but for decades they did not serve women well. Strikes and negotiations were a beer-and-sandwiches job almost exclusively conducted by and for “the brothers”. Meetings were at night, when most women were at home engaged in ironing shirts and childcare. “I’m all right, Jack” was the slogan while, with honourable exceptions, the men paid scant attention to the needs of Jill, often the sole breadwinner in the family. The image of the average trade unionist was a white, working-class and blue-collar bloke: “male, pale and stale”.
That was just a taste, go read the rest at the link.
There is a lot going on in Syria, here are a few updates:
More than 20,000 Syrian troops are massed around Aleppo, military sources say, as fighting rages for control of the country’s second city.
Fighter jets, helicopters and artillery have pounded rebel positions ahead of a feared full-scale assault within days.
Tanks are trying to push into two key rebel-held areas, the opposition says.
The opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that more than 40 Syrians, including 25 civilians, were verified as killed Sunday in the country. The casualties have not been independently verified.
Meanwhile, Iranian media said Tehran has asked Turkey and Qatar to help secure the release of 48 Iranian nationals kidnapped Saturday in Damascus. Iran said the victims were religious pilgrims, but a brigade commander with the Free Syrian Army describes them as elite Iranian Revolutionary Guards.
Iran backs the Syrian government, while Turkey and Qatar support the Syrian opposition.
Jodi B. Seth, Washington
The writer is communications director for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which is chaired by Sen. John F. Kerry.
I was stunned to read the assertion that Bashar al-Assad ever had “prominent admirers in the United States, including Sen. John F. Kerry” [“For besieged Syrian dictator Assad, only exit may be body bag,” front page, Aug. 1]. Mr. Kerry never claimed or believed that Mr. Assad was a “reformer” or had any interest beyond regime survival. But that one interest was the reason that former secretaries of state James Baker and Henry Kissinger and Sens. Kerry (D-Mass.) and Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) believed it was worth testing U.S. engagement with Damascus, after eight years of isolationist policies had moved Syria only closer to Iran.
I have another letter/op-ed for you, this time about Walmart and Minimum wage: Marcus Edgerson: Walmart Worker Speaks Out: Raise the Minimum Wage to Get My Vote
I am family man, I have a wife and I just had a child. I am also a veteran, a Marine who served during Operation Iraqi Freedom. I now work at Walmart, serving customers every day. While I am excited and appreciative to have a job, I wish that I was paid enough to make ends meet. I currently make $7.70 an hour, three cents more than Florida’s minimum wage. At 30 hours per week, that’s a little more than $12,000 per year. That is just not enough to pay for food, rent and and still pay for things like car insurance. I don’t drive now because I can’t afford it. And believe me, it is hard to survive in South Florida without a car.
However, not everyone at Walmart makes minimum wage. Mike Duke, our CEO, made $18 million last year. That’s close to $9,000 an hour. Many Walmart workers would be happy to make $9 an hour.
And we will close this article about Mars, let’s hope Curiosity sticks the landing! NASA hopes Curiosity landing site is a Grand Canyon of Mars
In the spring of 1869, a geology professor who had lost an arm to a musket ball at the Battle of Shiloh led a tortuous journey down a canyon that had been etched into stone, a mile deep, by the unremitting force of the Colorado River.
There, in what would become known as the Grand Canyon, John Wesley Powell found a diary of the Earth’s adolescence — layer upon layer of varied, exposed rock spanning 2 billion years. If there were a Bible of geology, Powell wrote, this would be the Book of Revelation.
On Sunday, 143 years later, scientists will attempt to retrace that journey — on Mars.
Have a good day y’all, I am going back to bed!
It looks like Tim Pawlenty might be the perfect VP match for Mitt Romney. He has had some issues with his financial disclosure forms and he refused to release his tax returns as Governor of Minnesota. From the Guardian:
Democrats have been digging into a web of allegations from nine years ago which involved Pawlenty’s use of a shell corporation to shield $60,000 in payments from a telecommunications group during his election campaign that were not declared to the state’s campaign finance board. The money came from a firm run by a prominent Republican strategist. Pawlenty had until recently been a board member.
Opponents accused Pawlenty of accepting an unethical and possibly illegal salary to campaign. The scandal widened because the telecommunications group making the payments was exposed for scamming customers, many of them elderly.
Pawlenty is touted as a leading candidate to be Mitt Romney’s running-mate in part because his background is seen as a political antidote to Romney’s life of privilege. He is the working class son of a truck driver, who knows adversity after his mother died while he was a boy and his father lost his job.
But if he is on the Republican ticket, a fresh airing of the allegations from 2003 is not only likely to undermine Pawlenty’s attempts to portray himself as the voice of the working man but threatens to draw unwelcome attention to difficult issues for Romney – the pressure to release his own tax returns, the morality of his business practices and the parking of millions of dollars in shell companies.
And if Romney turns Pawlenty down for VP, he (Romney) will look like a hypocrite.
I posted this link on Thursday morning, but I think it bears repeating. This op-ed in the NYT by Michael J. Graetz is the best thing I’ve read so far on what Mitt Romney may be hiding by not releasing his tax returns. Graetz discusses Romney’s huge IRA:
With an I.R.A. account of $20 million to $101 million, the tax savings would be more than a few pennies.
The I.R.A. also allows Mr. Romney to diversify his large holdings tax-free, avoiding the 15 percent tax on capital gains that would otherwise apply. His financial disclosure further reveals that his I.R.A. freed him from paying currently the 35 percent income tax on hundreds of thousands of dollars of interest income each year.
Given the extraordinary size of his I.R.A., we have to presume that Mr. Romney valued the assets he put in his retirement account at far less than he would have sold them for. Otherwise it is quite a trick to turn contributions that are limited to $30,000 to $50,000 a year into the $20 million to $101 million he now has there. But we cannot be certain; his meager disclosure of tax records and financial information does not indicate what kind of assets were put into the I.R.A.
He also addresses Romney’s offshore accounts, and concludes that
Mr. Romney is an Olympic-level athlete at the tax avoidance game. Rich people don’t send their money to Bermuda or the Cayman Islands for the weather.
The part I found most interesting was Graetz’ discussion of Romney’s transfers of funds to his sons. Graetz suggests that Romney may not have paid any gift tax on the $100 million trust fund he established in 1995; because it is well known that the IRS doesn’t generally audit gift tax returns.
Based on his aggressive tax planning, revealed in the 2010 returns he has released and his approval of a notably dicey tax avoidance strategy in 1994 when he headed the audit committee of the board of Marriott International, my bet is that — if Mr. Romney filed a gift tax return for these transfers at all — he put a low or even zero value on the gifts, certainly a small fraction of the price at which he would have sold the transferred assets to an unrelated party….According to a partner at Mr. Romney’s trustee’s law firm, valuing carried interests, such as Mr. Romney’s interests in the private equity company Bain Capital, at zero for gift tax purposes was common advice given to clients like Mr. Romney in the 1990s and early 2000s.
At this point, I’m convinced that there is some really hinky stuff going on in those returns. Otherwise Romney would have released them by now. But he’s dreaming if he thinks the press will stop focusing on this.
Yesterday, Wimpy Willard dodged questions about Michelle Bachmann’s muslim witch hunt and the Chick-fil-A controversy. Alex Seitz-Wald at Salon:
Mitt Romney failed to join other Republican leaders today in condemning Rep. Michele Bachmann’s witch hunt against Muslims in the U.S. government, telling reporters at a campaign stop in Las Vegas that it was not “part of my campaign.” Republicans like Sen. John McCain and House Speaker John Boehner, among others, have spoken out publicly against Bachmann’s campaign, but when Romney was asked about it, along with the controversy over Chick-fil-A, he dodged the question. “I’m not going to tell other people what things to talk about. Those are not things that are part of my campaign,” the presumed GOP nominee said at a rare press availability after a campaign stop.
Nothing really new about that–just more evidence of Romney cowardice.
We’ve been talking about how the female Olympic athletes are forced to wear skimpy costumes, presumably to attract the male audience. But at The Daily Beast Tricia Romano has a different take: The Olympics or Soft Porn? Female, Gay Fans Gawking at Male Athletes
Ripped, tanned men seemingly carved out of marble are making women and gay men happy—very happy—during these Olympics, spurring Internet memes and social-media buzz. It’s like the Channing Tatum male-stripper movie Magic Mike got a sequel—a very (thankfully) long sequel—one that’s also preciously short on plot but long on beefcake.
While women have long provided daydream fodder for men and lesbians—say hello to the field hockey team when not checking out the scantily clad ladies taking part in the beach volleyball competition—London’s Games seem to be drumming up a particularly focused interest in celebrating the fine male physique.
American gold-medal swimmers Ryan Lochte and Nathan Adrian might have gained notoriety for winning races, but they became instant sex symbols the second they stepped out of the pool. In the days since their London debut, you can read all about Ryan Lochte’s penchant for one-night stands, and there are entire articles parsing the hot-but-dumb problem posed by Lochte, and conversely how smart and sweet Adrian is and whether or not he has a girlfriend. (He’s single! Ready, set, go!).
I was at the grocery store yesterday afternoon, and I noticed that the National Enquirer had a big splashy story about James Holmes, the “Dark Knight Shooter. I was sorely tempted to buy a copy, but I resisted. It’s just as well, because I discovered the story was on-line. In case you’re interest, here’s the “scoop” in this week’s Enquirer.
There aren’t a lot of revelations. They quote a fellow student who was supposedly freaked out by Holmes:
by the time he got to graduate school, Holmes had grown into a creepy individual who frightened others just by his presence.
“I’d seen him many times, always walking alone,” a fellow student at the University of Colorado Denver told The ENQUIRER. “He was very odd, walking around with a blank stare on his face like he didn’t see anyone else. Sometimes he was talking to himself, in an angry tone. I would cross the street when I saw him coming.
“He may have been a nerd, but he was tall and muscular which can be very intimidating. I felt like he was the kind of guy you didn’t want to be around if he snapped.”
The article also says that Holmes’ admired Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik.
In emulation of Breivik, Holmes spent the days leading up to his massacre of the innocent by bingeing on Internet sex and real-world drugs. He reportedly took the prescription painkiller Vicodin just before the shootings.
Holmes shared another trait with Breivik – a fascination with the extremely violent video game World of Warcraft.
I’m not sure where they got that. I suppose it could be a law enforcement source–or they could have made it up out of whole cloth.
There are a couple of other sensational stories on Holmes over there–look if you dare.
In other true crime news, the judge in the Drew Peterson case denied the defense’s request for a mistrial, and testimony continued yesterday. Anna Marie Doman, the sister of Peterson’s wife Kathleen Savio, testified that her sister had said that Peterson had threatened to kill her.
“She was afraid,” Doman said. “She said Drew had told her he was going to kill her. She wasn’t going to make it to the divorce settlement, and she wasn’t going to get his pension or the kids.”
After two years of court battles over the issue, it was the first hearsay statement heard by jurors in Peterson’s murder trial, allowing Savio to speak from beyond the grave.
As she described talking with Savio in her Romeoville home in 2004, Doman testified that Savio extracted a promise to take care of her kids, a vow Doman acknowledged she had failed to act upon.
“She made me promise over and over that I was going to take care of the boys,” Doman said. “She said, ‘I want you to say it — you’ll take care of my kids.’”
After a misstep by a defense attorney, Doman also was allowed to testify about a previously excluded statement — that Peterson had told Savio he would kill her and make it look like an accident.
I heard an interesting story on NPR a couple of days ago. It’s an interview with David Niose, a lawyer from Boston who has written a book called Nonbeliever Nation: The Rise of Secular Americans. Here’s the blurb from the show:
The religious right has been a disaster for this country, according to David Niose, president of the American Humanist Association. It has imposed an outsized and overbearing influence on our national politics at the expense of reason, critical thinking, science and ethics. And he goes further, saying the rise of the religious right correlates with an array of social ills — from high rates of violent crime and teen pregnancy to low rates of scientific literacy.
But he says there’s a growing movement to counter the religious right. Secular Americans — non-religious believers who for a long time were marginalized in America — are now emerging as a force to be reckoned with.
While a large majority of Americans say they still believe in God, many are losing faith in organized religion. At the same time, the number of Americans who say they don’t have any religious identity has doubled since 1980.
I hope you’ll give it a listen. There also a link to some excerpts from the book at The Humanist if you’re interested.
I found this interesting piece at Raw Story: Mayans may have used chocolate in cooking 2,500 years ago
When the Spanish conquistadores invaded Mexico 500 years ago, they found the emperor Moctezuma drinking a exotic beverage called xocóatl with his breakfast. Made from ground cacao beans that had been boiled in water, spiced, and beaten to a froth, it was literally the drink of kings, permitted only to rulers and other high aristocrats.
Until now, it has been believed that chocolate was consumed in ancient Mexico only in the form of a beverage and not as a food or condiment. However, that belief has been challenged by the discovery in the Yucatan of a 2,500 year old plate with traces of chocolate residue.
The discovery, which was announced this week by Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History, suggests that present-day Mexican dishes, like the chocolate-based mole sauce often served over meats, may have ancient roots.
Previous excavations have revealed traces of chocolate on drinking vessels used by the Olmecs and other early Mexican cultures as far back as 2000 BC, but this is the first find involving plates.
Smart people, those Mayans.
Now what are your recommendations for weekend reading?
Here’s a feel-good story for you. LA Times:
LONDON — Gabrielle Douglas, a 16-year-old from Virginia Beach, took the women’s gymnastics all-around lead on her first event, the vault, and never let it go Thursday.
Douglas earned her second Olympic gold medal and became the first African-American Olympics all-around gold medalist by performing with ferocious power, high-flying aerial tricks on the uneven bars, a smartly cautious balance beam display and, finally, a joyfully exuberant tumbling romp on the floor exercise mat.
The silver medal went to Russia’s Victoria Komova, who wept in disappointment.
Aly Raisman of Needham, Massachusetts came in fourth.
From the Washington Post Olympic live blog:
Thursday’s triumph was the realization of a dream Douglas has had for years — a dream so powerful that it persuaded her to leave her family in Virginia Beach and move to West Des Moines, Iowa, at age 14 so she could train with Liang Chow, who had coached Iowa native Shawn Johnson to an Olympic gold and silver medal in 2008.
Douglas and her mother, Natalie Hawkins, explained to Chow that they wanted him to turn her into Olympic-caliber material — a tall order, the coach told them, in such a short time.
But Douglas packs staggering power on her 94-pound frame, uncanny flexibility and a determination that can’t quite be measured.
All of that was evident Thursday, as Douglas opened with the world’s most difficult vault, performed gracefully on the uneven bars and beam, and closed with a rousing, fun-loving floor routine that flaunted her full range of athletic skill and considerable charisma.
First some things that are upsetting to say the least. Warning, graphic images. GOP Rep. Steve King Defends Dog Fighting | ThinkProgress
If you believe that the United States should legalize dogfighting because we allow humans to fight, fear not. You’ve got an ally in the United States Congress.
During a tele-townhall late last week, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) fielded a question about his opposition to animal rights and recently introduced legislation that would undermine local standards preventing animal torture. “It’s wrong to rate animals above human beings,” he told the questioner. To make his point, King argued that “there’s something wrong” for society to make it a “federal crime to watch animals fight” but “it’s not a federal crime to induce somebody to watch people fighting.”
KING: When the legislation that passed in the farm bill that says that it’s a federal crime to watch animals fight or to induce someone else to watch an animal fight but it’s not a federal crime to induce somebody to watch people fighting, there’s something wrong with the priorities of people that think like that.
I mentioned this in the comments earlier but I want to put it up front. Florida Man Charged With Hate Crime Says He ‘Only Shot a N*gger’ | Video Cafe
Authorities in Port St. Joe, Florida say a man charged with a hate crime felt inconvenienced by his arrest because he had “only shot a n*gger.”
Walton Henry Butler, 59, was arrested by Gulf County Sheriff’s deputies on Monday night for shooting 32-year-old Everett Gant, who is black, in the head with a .22 caliber rifle.
According to a charging affidavit obtained by The Star, Butler had referred to Pamela Rogers’ child and other children at his apartment complex with racial slurs.
Gant was shot between the eyes when he went to Butler’s apartment to confront him over the remarks, the documents said. Butler allegedly closed his sliding glass door and left Gant bleeding on ground outside.
The suspect contacted 911 and had finished his dinner before Gulf County Sheriff Joe Nugent arrived.
Nugent recalled that Butler appeared “inconvenienced” by the arrest, saying that “he had only shot a n*gger.”
I am glad they got him and he is being charged with a hate crime.
This is something BB has written about all day, but it is still trending…
Drew Peterson trial is on, and today was the first day, and in opening statements Drew Peterson Lawyer Attacks Dead Wife Kathleen Savio – ABC News
Drew Peterson’s lawyer told the jury in his murder trial today that the woman he is accused of killing was bossy, lied, had a furious temper and went to therapy.
Lawyer Joel Brodsky, Peterson’s lead defense attorney, attacked the character of Kathleen Savio, Peterson’s third wife, in his opening statement. Brodsky’s opening argument was interrupted by objections from prosecutors, just as the prosecutor’s opening statement was marked by objections from Brodsky.
The contentious start to the trial foreshadows what is expected to be a battle over the prosecutor’s key evidence: comments that Savio made to others before she died in 2004, and comments that Peterson’s fourth wife Stacy Peterson made to people. Stacy Peterson has been missing since 2007.
Well, things are still flying on the moon…flags that is. Apollo Flags on the Moon Still Standing : Discovery News
Flags at the Olympics may come and go, but there’s one U.S. record that remains unchallenged. New images from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter show all but one of the U.S. flags planted during the six Apollo missions to the lunar surface are still standing.
“I was a bit surprised that the flags survived the harsh ultraviolet light and temperatures of the lunar surface, but they did,” LRO researcher Mark Robinson posted on the project’s website.
“What they look like is another question,” he added.
Stephen Colbert — long cable television’s most ardent defender of the sport, neigh, the art of dressage — found himself once again defending the Olympic event.
This time, he found himself up against criticism by conservative pundit Charles Krauthammer.
I know tonight’s post is a little lame, but I am very distracted at the moment…this is an open post.