Friday Late Nite Lite: Toga, Toga, Toga

Good Evening

More cold weather tonight, we are expecting snow again here in Banjoville…sorry the post is late, but at least it is up now.

Military Cuts – Political Cartoon by Rob Rogers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – 02/28/2014

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Military Cuts

Wintery prison by Political Cartoonist John Cole

144973 600 Wintery prison cartoons

Rand Paul Hillary strategy by Political Cartoonist Jeff Darcy

144987 600 Rand Paul Hillary strategy cartoons

Ukraine Revolution by Political Cartoonist John Darkow

144739 600 Ukraine Revolution cartoons

Signe Wilkinson: Pussy Riot – Signe Wilkinson – Truthdig

Slur Tunes by Political Cartoonist Steve Sack

145016 600 Slur Tunes cartoons

AAEC – Political Cartoon by Paul Fell, Artizans Syndicate – 02/28/2014

Cartoon by Paul Fell -

Forgot to put up a bird with “misogyny” on the chest there…

Cold war by Political Cartoonist Schot

145025 600 Cold war cartoons

From Ceremonies to Salvos by Political Cartoonist Mark Streeter

145036 600 From Ceremonies to Salvos cartoons

Oscar for Mother Nature by Political Cartoonist Dave Granlund

145042 600 Oscar for Mother Nature cartoons

BREWER VETO – Political Cartoon by Deb Milbrath, Cartoon Movement – 02/28/2014

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - BREWER VETO

Clay Bennett: WWJDA – Clay Bennett – Truthdig

Nick Anderson: George W. Bush Paintings – Nick Anderson – Truthdig

To Bake Or Not To Bake – Political Cartoon by A.F.Branco, Freelance/Self-syndicated – 02/28/2014

Cartoon by A.F.Branco - To Bake Or Not To Bake

Harold Ramis by Political Cartoonist Steve Nease

145028 600 Harold Ramis cartoons

Toga Toga Toga by Political Cartoonist Bruce Plante

145031 600 Toga Toga Toga cartoons

This is an open thread.


Friday Reads: Mansplaining and other Nightmares of the American Culture Wars

behond a man!!!

Sometimes I just really want to reach through the TV or computer screen and slap the shit out of people. Bill O’Reilly is always high on my list. The last time he interviewed our country’s president he interrupted so many times that you had to wonder why he just didn’t lecture a chair like grizzly old Clint Eastwood did at the Republican National Convention. O’Reilly is at the top of my list for men I’d like to slap the crap out of for mansplaining why Madam President might have a downside to a pair of political consultants that are women..

Fox News host Bill O’Reilly invited two women onto his show  to discuss whether a woman could be the leader of the free world, expressing his concern about her “gender deficiency.”

Neither guest was having it.

Following up on a previous interview with Michele Bachman (R-MN), who stated that she did not feel that America was ready for a woman president, O’Reilly invited Republican strategist Kate Obenshain and Fox contributor Kirsten Powers on to discuss the issue.

O’Reilly started with Powers asking if there was “some downside to having a woman president, something that may not fit with that office, correct?”

“Hmmm, I’m gonna say say, no, Bill,” Powers replied, while Obenshain laughed.

“Just because you’re female that it would… something … ummmm,” Powers said, running out of words before asking O’Reilly, “Let me ask you this, whats the downside of a man being president?”

O’Reilly replied that it would take “three years” to discuss, stating, “look at some of the guys we’ve had in there since 1864.”

Turning to Obenshain, O’Reilly admitted that  men “may not be as open to sensitive discussion as women” and asked, “There’s gotta be a downside for a woman, do you know one?”

“Uh, you know , I’m having a tough time with this one too, Bill. It depends on the certain individual,” she replied before Powers interjected and Obenshain laughed and added, “Oh, good.”

Yes, folks!  There has to be a downside to stuff that makes you feel threatened and icky.  Ever notice how many straight men obsess on icky girl parts and icky gay sex?   I thought penis cakes were for Bachelorette parties, but there’s a Republican Man that thinks they’re an essential part of a gay wedding.  “Judson Phillips, president of Tea Party Nation, is a little upset about Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s decision last night to veto a bill that would have expanded the ability of business owners to discriminate against LGBT people and others.”  Methinks the dude doth protest a little too much.  He seems to have an unhealthy interest in other people’s sex lives.

Should a devote baker be required to create a cake for a homosexual wedding that has a giant phallic symbol on it or should a baker be required to create pastries for a homosexual wedding in the shape of genitallia [sic]?  Or should a photographer be required to photograph a homosexual wedding where the participants decide they want to be nude or engage in sexual behavior?  Would they force a Jewish photographer to work a Klan or Nazi event? How about forcing a Muslim caterer to work a pork barbeque dinner?

Perhaps he’s went to see “Hot Jesus” at the movie theatre and became bicurious?

Clearly Jesus was sexy.

After all, He is the Son of God.

I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but as I watched the trailer for the new movie, “Son of God,” I found myself gawking at the actor portraying Jesus.

For a group of people obsessed with immaculate conception and virgins, we sure seem to have a close up view of a few secret gardens, don’timages (13) we?  Yes, no one excels at mansplaining more than Catholic League President Bill Donohue who thinks that no one ever, EVER discriminates against the GLBT community and wants some one to come up with an example.

“Where are the examples of gays being discriminated against?” Donohue asked. “If they’re being discriminated against, how come they make more money than straight people on average?”

“Is somebody being denied at Applebee’s getting a hamburger? Where are these examples?” he followed up.

“Under the law in Arizona, there is no special protection of the LGBT community, so a business member, if he or she wanted to or she wanted to, could discriminate without violation,” Como said. “That’s why the law was unnecessary. Do you get that?”

“Can you enumerate for me examples of gay people in Arizona who are having their right violated by people of faith?” Donohue asked.

Yes. Nothing to see here.  Just move on with those penis cakes to some other place.

Turning oppressors into victims seems to be the new tactic in the Culture War.  White men with guns are scared of you black unarmed im-a-feminist-mansplaining-comic-meme1teenage boys going about your business.  Guess who has the right to use deadly force?  Then, there’s the continual series of jaw dropping court findings that continue to represent the worst of rape apologia.  Let’s just let the mansplaining begin.

In 2006, Kelly Vosgien pled guilty to three counts of rape, three counts of sodomy, one count of sexual abuse and three counts of compelling prostitution. The Oregon state court gave him a sentence of 55 years. These charges were brought against Vosgien after he traded cigarettes and money to his daughter and her friend in return for sex. Both girls were minors at the time.

The case had seemingly been put to rest until 2013, when Vosgien applied for habeas relief, claiming “actual innocence” with regard to his previous convictions, paying special attention to the charges of compelling prostitution. Vosgien missed the one-year filing deadline for habeas, but as is common and often imperative with retrials, the appeal was allowed to proceed.

The Oregon district court that handled this initial appeal used Bousley v. United States to throw out the innocence claim, citing precedent: “In cases where the Government has forgone more serious charges in the course of plea bargaining, petitioner’s showing of actual innocence must also extend to those charges.”

The second part of the court’s argument, less lawyerly and therefore more straightforward, claimed that bribing one’s daughter, or any child, in exchange for sex must constitute some sort of crime under Oregon state law.

In the end, the judge refused to alter any charges on the 2006 conviction, so Vosgien applied for a second appeal, which went to the 9th Circuit court.

This move, amazingly, worked—sort of. The court’s decision, filed February 13, reversed the ruling of the district court in part by throwing out the three counts of compelling prostitution. The argument that got Vosgien off the hook was based on a 2010 case, State v. Vargas-Torres, which narrowed the legal definition of “compelling prostitution” in Oregon. The court determined such a charge now requires that goods be traded for sex through a third party. Since Kelly Vosgien procured the sexual favors only for himself, these three counts will be stricken from his sentence.

“Goods be traded for sex through a third party”.  WTF?

Yes, everything up is down.  

Paula Deen’s $100 million empire crumbled last year after she admitted to using the N-word in her life, and as she continues campaigning to repair her public image with a $75 million investment deal on her side, the celebrity chef has compared her struggles to those of the NFL’s first openly gay prospect, Michael Sam.

“I feel like ‘embattled’ or ‘disgraced’ will always follow my name. It’s like that black football player who recently came out,” Deen said in a People Magazine cover story, which hits newsstands on Friday. “He said, ‘I just want to be known as a football player. I don’t want to be known as a gay football player.’ I know exactly what he’s saying.”

Yes, a white southern woman using a racist slur and giving plantation themed parties is just like the struggle of a black gay man trying to live authentically in the the NFL.

Is it too early for a whiskey neat?

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Thursday Reads: Guns and American Culture (and other news)

Morning Paper at Cap Ferrat, by Rebecca Kao Wang

Morning Paper at Cap Ferrat, by Rebecca Kao Wang

Good Morning!!

I live in a state that has very strict gun control laws. A recent study by Boston Children’s Hospital found that states with the toughest gun laws have the lowest rates of gun deaths. And Boston tends to average between one shooting victim every other day to one victim per day. I’ve been thinking about this for the past couple of days since I read this article at WBUR: When Mass. Criminals Want A Gun, They Often Head North

Massachusetts gun laws are widely considered some of the toughest in the country. But with a rash of shooting deaths in Boston this year, some law enforcement officials say it’s obvious that there are ways around the rules. And when Massachusetts criminals want to get their hands on a gun, they frequently head north.

In 2012, more than half of the guns that law enforcement seized in Massachusetts and managed to trace to their origins came from other states, according to federal statistics. The biggest suppliers by far were New Hampshire and Maine, as is the case most years.

According to the article, ATF agents discovered that gun traffickers in Massachusetts were legally buying large numbers of guns from New Hampshire and Maine, where they are much easier and cheaper to buy, and reselling them to people in Massachusetts.

The flow of guns from northern New England to Massachusetts is propelled by key differences among state gun laws. It’s all about private handgun sales, in particular. In Massachusetts every private handgun sale must be recorded and reported to the state within seven days. And the buyer must have a license to carry from local police, which in turn requires a background check. The Massachusetts rules are tight.

Up north, not so much. Buyers at federally licensed gun shops in Maine and New Hampshire are subjected to a federal background check for prior felonies, or a history of severe mental illness. But when it comes to private gun sales — at a gun show, or even a commuter parking lot — no documentation is required — no background check, no record of the transaction.

Darcie McElwee, an assistant U.S. attorney in Maine, says that in her state a private seller doesn’t even have to ask the buyer for a driver’s license.

Now it’s still illegal to sell guns to a convicted felon or for a felon to buy a gun, so if someone is caught doing this, they’ll go to jail for two years minimum. And the rates of gun deaths and injuries are still lower in Massachusetts than in states with less strict gun laws.

Clearly strict state laws are not enough to prevent gun violence. We need federal laws to control gun sales and to encourage gun safety–like the Massachusetts law that requires guns to be unloaded and locked up when not in use. But how can we make that happen? According to the WBUR article, Congress has even made it difficult to keep track of guns that are used in crimes and for academic researchers to access federal government data on gun trafficking.

Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey has introduced a bill to require all guns to be personalized so they can only be fired by the owner or another authorized person. These so-called “smart guns” already exist.

One of California’s largest firearm stores recently added a peculiar new gun to its shelves. It requires an accessory: a black waterproof watch.

The watch’s primary purpose is not to provide accurate time, though it does. The watch makes the gun think. Electronic chips inside the gun and watch communicate with each other. If the watch is within close reach of the gun, a light on the grip turns green. Fire away. No watch means no green light. The gun becomes a paperweight.

A dream of gun control advocates for decades, the Armatix iP1 is the country’s first smart gun. Its introduction is seen as a landmark event in efforts to reduce gun violence, suicides, and accidental shootings….

Of course the NRA will fight this tooth and nail, and it’s not going to get through the Senate, much less the House, in the current environment.

Now check this out. According to a piece at Venture Beat, you can quickly and easily buy guns on Facebook!

Fifteen minutes.

That’s all it takes for children, felons, and people without IDs to buy illegal weapons on Facebook pages dedicated to the sale and celebration of guns.

A VentureBeat investigation has uncovered dozens of pages on Facebook where guns are for sale, including semi-automatic weapons, handguns, and silencers. While the transactions don’t actually happen on Facebook, the social network is a remarkably easy way to find shady people willing to sell you a weapon — no questions asked. The illegal transactions then take place in diners, dark parking lots, and isolated country roads — away from the prying eyes of the feds and local police.

In Kentucky, Greenup County Sheriff Keith Cooper remembers when a call came into dispatch last October saying a 15-year-old student had been arrested on the Greenup County High School campus for carrying an unlicensed and loaded 9mm handgun to school. The boy was arrested and brought to Cooper’s office for an interview.

When Cooper, a former Kentucky State Trooper with a heavy Southern drawl, asked the kid where he got the gun, his reply was shocking: Facebook.

Read it and weep. Oh, and Facebook claims they don’t allow people to sell guns or explosives on their pages, but clearly they’re not enforcing these rules very well.

It’s not news to anyone that America has a love affair with guns. Guns and hunting are part of American culture, going hand-in-hand with the cult of rugged individualism. I’ve always thought it came from the frontier tradition. Most of the country was settled by pioneering who set out from the East coast to begin new lives in the Midwest and West before the arrival of the accoutrements of civilization–like law enforcement, banks, and insurance companies. In my generation at least, kids saw endless movies and TV shows about “cowboys and Indians;” and we played with toy guns–even us girls. And of course, since we were born shortly after World War II, many of us watch movies that glorified war.

Still I’ve never wanted a real gun. It seems to me that the gun culture is much stronger in some ways than in those innocent days of the 1950s and ’60s. But why? The obvious answer is the lobbying and propaganda efforts of the National Rifle Association (NRA). And what about  the recent work of ALEC and the Koch Brothers to get state “stand your ground” laws passed around the country? Dahlia Lithwick has posted a fine piece about this at Slate.

“Stand Your Ground” Nation: America used to value the concept of retreat. Now we just shoot.

Last week, Kriston Charles Belinte Chee, an unarmed man, got into a fight with Cyle Wayne Quadlin at a Walmart in suburban Arizona. Quadlin opened fire midargument and killed CheeOfficers decided not to charge Quadlin because, they concluded, the killing was in self-defense. According to the police spokesman, “Mr. Quadlin was losing the fight and indicated he ‘was in fear for his life.’” Just a week earlier, a jury in Jacksonville, Fla., found Michael Dunn guilty on four counts of attempted murder but did not convict him on the most serious charge of first-degree murder, in the death of 17-year-old Jordan Davis. Dunn shot and killed Davis, also unarmed, because the music coming from his car was too loud. Dunn claimed he saw something like a gun in the vehicle, and that was apparently enough for some members of the jury to conclude that Dunn hadn’t committed first-degree murder.

Given all this, it’s not unreasonable to argue that, in America, you can be shot and killed, without consequences for the shooter, for playing loud musicwearing a hoodie, or shopping at a Walmart. The question is whether the wave of “stand your ground” legislation is to blame.

Is it true? Lithwick quotes doubters who say that neither George Zimmerman invoked “stand your ground,” However juries were told about the “stand your ground” principle, and could have been confused by the growing consensus in Florida that people [at least white males] have the right to shoot an unarmed person if they “feel threatened.” Lithwick writes:

It’s clear that at least some of the jurors in both cases took the principle of “stand your ground” into account to some degree during deliberations. We now know that at leastone juror, and possibly two, in Dunn’s trial took to heart the specific instruction that Dunn “had no duty to retreat and had the right to stand his ground and meet force with force, including deadly force.” Whether or not jurors in Florida are technically instructed to apply the “stand your ground” component of self-defense law, it’s increasingly clear that they are, at minimum, confused about it (understandably) and may even be starting to apply it reflexively. Yes, Dunn’s attorney argued traditional self-defense. But, as former assistant U.S. attorney David Weinstein told the Associated Press, “I think people will say that because some of the language from the stand your ground statute gets embedded into the jury instructions, that stand your ground has an effect.”

I might go further. I might say that whether or not specific jurisdictions define self-defense to include a duty to retreat, and whether or not specific juries are charged to apply it, America is quickly becoming one big “stand your ground” state, as a matter of culture if not the letter of the law.

Please go read the whole thing. It’s frightening but important. Lithwick argues that the new laws are changing the culture itself–and not just in the states with “stand your ground” laws.

Now I’ve gone and written another single-subject post. I just have room for a few headlines before I turn the floor over to you.

Washington Post: Hillary Clinton makes case for ‘full participation’ and equality

Talking Points Memo: Hillary Clinton Defends Obamacare While Backing Changes

BBC News: Ukraine warns Russia against ‘aggression’ in Crimea

NPR: Crimea: 3 Things To Know About Ukraine’s Latest Hot Spot

The Daily Beast: The Spoiled Rotten Kids of the DC Elite

NYT: New F.D.A. Nutrition Labels Would Make ‘Serving Sizes’ Reflect Actual Servings

Dana Millbank: Republicans flip-flop on ‘judicial activism’

I hope Dak will weigh in on this one. Matthew O’Brien: How the Fed Let the World Blow Up in 2008

USA Today: NASA – 715 new planets found, 4 might support life

What stories have caught your interest today? Please share your links in the comment thread, and have a great day!


Wednesday Reads: There goes the neighborhood

Comic by Jack KirbyComic by Jack Kirby

Good Morning

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

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

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

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

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

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

Divine as 'Edna Turnblad' in Hairspray (1988)

Divine as ‘Edna Turnblad’ in Hairspray (1988)

Typical Dick….ugh, Cheney.

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

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

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

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

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

https://i1.wp.com/milesobrien.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/MOB-Mono-Mano.jpgMiles O’Brien Arm Amputated | Mediaite

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

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

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

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

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

2456e1edfc9a807318afc924b2c9ce1aPlease go read his story at the link.

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

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

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

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

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

Phantom limb pain

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

15c6c1f36e97443661d79c63198389d8More at that link, plus a video.

Few more stories this morning:

Charts: The Most Ridiculously Expensive Olympics Ever | Mother Jones

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

Yeah, let that sink in.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

https://i1.wp.com/media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com/736x/90/76/88/90768890faa8688e45a0557853b023a0.jpg

I found myself lost in the world of pinterest.

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

——————————>

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

Mmmm….it was a hell of a Yul.

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

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

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

Tasteful. Yes?

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

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

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

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

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

f920bba3b009571d14e90fcec0c3eae9

Others are touching, take Ann Bancroft:

b7cfcddc22d6a4b217e356b1cb252242

other sentimental or thoughtful tombstones:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

3269539c7127fa40bbd99067115cc3c5

87fe27e6ac76aae0cbafd6b40f2f47c0

or funny:

329d5365de0eaec493d4d4baff37c76e

2c2f19d3ca283d1d957ea32e60d89336

witty:

89afcd932f251b2440e47bed4d09dfd8

grandiose:

Leona Helmsley

majestic:

Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor

Jennifer Jones

Jennifer Jones

Billie Burke

Billie Burke

Billie Burke

Wasn’t she beautiful?

Tchaikovsky

Tchaikovsky

considerate:

Danny Kaye

Danny Kaye

Some are defined by who they knew in life:

f39ef7becf127363847da157ad007a69

Others are over done and tacky:

84403cc98540063f00dbe80f8d9b57df

Classic and peaceful:

Richard Burton

Richard Burton

Yul Brynner

Yul Brynner

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

After we have been asked over and over again

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

Then there are those with no tombstone at all…

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

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

thelma todd and Harpo marx

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

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

[…]

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

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

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

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

Cemetery Girl | Pinterest

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

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

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

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

Hauptfriedhof Frankfurt

Hauptfriedhof Frankfurt

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

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

Melaten cementary, Cologne, Germany

Melaten cementary, Cologne, Germany

graveyard

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

https://i2.wp.com/www.ctrivervalley.com/images-pictures-photos-of/Winter-in-Connecticut-Snow/2004-winter-pictures-photos/old_lyme_cemetary_1A.jpg

This one in Rhode Island:

Pin by Teri Steele on Cemetery Girl | Pinterest

d2050e1c0bee246cc1f31e85c02de645

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

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

368d8f0821cc291516396cfc9e7bc301

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

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

BTW, did you catch the running theme?


Tuesday Reads: Syria, Ukraine, and Venezuela; Robot Police; Republican Stupidity; Harold Ramis; and Women of “True Detective”

Matisse-Woman-Reading-with-Tea1

Good Morning!!

There is so much foreign news these days, and I have to admit ignorance when it comes to discussing the situations in Ukraine, Venezuela, and Syria. I don’t even know where to begin to understand the issues, and to be honest I just don’t have the time to try to do it. But here are some articles from sources I trust that struck me as important.

I’ll begin with something I can easily understand and care about: the fate of children in these conflicts. From The Independent, ‘No one cares’: The tragic truth of Syria’s 500,000 refugee children. The article is about British photojournalist Ed Thompson and an art student from Lebanon, Sammy Hamze, who went to Lebanon to put a spotlight on what is happening to Syrian refugee families.

We have heard the stories. Children at risk of dying from the cold in refugee camps; vulnerable to trafficking; begging on the side of the road; left orphaned and out of school; girls sold into marriage. But what shook Thompson most was that the children, although appearing older than their years, were still so young. “They are innocent, completely innocent,” he says now. “One father told me to look at his family; he could barely feed his son. They had been through hell, walked through hell and got to hell. All they want to do is go home.”

The conflict that has torn Syria apart has raged for almost three years, left more than 100,000 people dead in its wake and driven nine-and-a-half million from their homes. It took intense political pressure to get the British Government to agree to offer hundreds of the “most needy people” in Syrian refugee camps a home in this country. “We live in the modern age – we can read what’s going on in Syria; we’ve never had more information at our fingertips,” says Thompson – “but no one cares.”

If anything can break through the apathy, it is his pictures.

Read more and see some of Thompson’s photos at the link.

On Ukraine, I posted this article by Mark Ames in the comments yesterday, but I’ll link it again here: Everything you now about Ukraine is wrong.

I haven’t lived in that part of the world since the Kremlin ran me out of town, so I’m not going to pretend that I know as much as those on the ground there. Still, I’ve been driven nuts by the avalanche of overconfident ignorance that stands for analysis or commentary on the wild events there. A lethal ignorance, a virtuous ignorance….

Nearly everyone here in the US tries to frame and reify Ukraine’s dynamic to fit America-centric spats. As such, Ukraine’s problems are little more than a propaganda proxy war where our own political fights are transferred to Ukraine’s and Russia’s context, warping the truth to score domestic spat points. That’s nothing new, of course, but it’s still jarring to watch how the “new media” counter-consensus is warping and misrepresenting reality in Ukraine about as crudely as the neocons and neoliberals used to warp and Americanize the political realities there back when I first started my Moscow newspaper, The eXile.

Read about what Ames calls the “simplifications/misconceptions” that are driving Ames crazy at Pando Daily.

And then there’s Venezuela. At The Washington Post, Adam Tayor asks, Amid the coverage of Ukraine, is a crisis in Venezuela being ignored? It’s an interesting question. And what about Syria, which has pretty much disappeared in all the coverage of Ukraine? Is American media simply incapable of covering more than one foreign conflict at a time? Read all about it at the link.

One more story on Venezuela from Peter Weber at The Week: Venezuela isn’t going to be another Ukraine.

Venezuela is not Ukraine, and beneath the similarities in the protest movements are significant differences.

The first is time: The Kiev protesters started their demonstration in November after Yanukovych reneged on a European Union trade pact, and they gradually built up a tent fortress in the central Maidan Square. In Venezuela, the protests started on Feb. 4 at the university in San Cristóbal, with students showing their anger over the lack of police response to an attempted rape and crime in general.

The “brutal police crackdown” on the student protesters in San Cristóbal led to similar protests at other universities, which were also violently suppressed, says Francisco Toro in The New York Times. “As the cycle of protests, repression, and protests-against-repression spread, the focus of protest began to morph. What was at stake, the students realized, was the right to free assembly.” Toro continues:

It’s this intolerance of opposing views, and violent repression, that Venezuela’s students are now mobilized against. Today, after 13 deaths, 18 alleged cases of torture and over 500 student arrests, the protest movement has snowballed into a nationwide paroxysm of anger that puts the government’s stability in question. The protests’ lack of structure has given them resilience, but also an anarchic edge. There is no single leader in a position to give the movement strategic direction. [The New York Times]

Read more comparisons at the link.

In Other News . . . 

The K5 robot outside a school

The K5 robot outside a school

If you think the prospect of being spied on by NSA is frightening, you need to read this article by James Robinson at Pando Daily: Knightscope’s new robotic law enforcer is like staring at the demise of humanity.

Knightscope’s autonomous, crime fighting robot has the complexion of a washing machine. In pictures it looks cute, the size of a penguin maybe. In person it is five feet tall with intimidating breadth. It moves steadily and with insistence. If you stare at it long enough, the twin panels of lights about two-thirds of the way up its body start to take on the appearance of shifty, judgmental eyes. It sees what you’re doing and wants you to cut it out.

The full name of the Knightscope robot on display at the Launch Festival this morning was the K5 beta prototype. Former Ford Motor Company executive and Knightscope CEO William Santana Li describes it to MC and festival organizer Jason Calacanis onstage as a “crime fighting autonomous data machine.” But that doesn’t come close to doing it justice….

As Santana Li outlines proudly, the beast before him on stage takes in 360-degree video through four cameras, is capable of thermal imaging, registers gestures, recognizes faces and can run 300 license plates in a single minute. It works off proximity GPS and scans its environment every 25 milliseconds. It runs off nearly identical technology to Google’s self-driving cars. He boasts that it can see, feel, hear and smell. It is autonomous, will roam outdoors, can take video, decide when it needs to return and charge its batteries and can detect biological and chemical pathogens and radiation.

The Knightscope will get put out in the field gathering data, Santana Li says. The owner can log in to a security panel and get a read of what is going on in the area. The robot can scan license plates and report back on stolen cars. Its facial recognition capabilities can alert its owner to any registered sex offender in the area. The sample dashboard Santana Li logs in to, shows that the robot can report back about things as specific as how many people are lying horizontal and how many are gesturing with their hands. The company is working on giving it a 3M graffiti proof sheen, it emits a piercing sound if someone tries to tip it over and the machines will often work in pairs so they can protect each other.

How would you like to live in a world where one of those things is checking up on you wherever you go?

From Laura Bassett at Huffington Post, here’s the latest from the land of Republican misogyny and stupidity: Virginia Republican Says A Pregnant Woman Is Just A ‘Host,’ Though ‘Some Refer To Them As Mothers.’ Yes, someone really said that.

A pregnant woman is just a “host” that should not have the right to end her pregnancy, Virginia State Sen. Steve Martin (R) wrote in a Facebook rant defending his anti-abortion views.

Martin, the former chairman of the Senate Education and Health Committee, wrote a lengthy post about his opinions on women’s bodies on his Facebook walllast week in response to a critical Valentine’s Day card he received from reproductive rights advocates.

“I don’t expect to be in the room or will I do anything to prevent you from obtaining a contraceptive,” Martin wrote. “However, once a child does exist in your womb, I’m not going to assume a right to kill it just because the child’s host (some refer to them as mothers) doesn’t want it.” Martin then changed his post on Monday afternoon to refer to the woman as the “bearer of the child” instead of the “host.”

Martin explained that he edited his post because “people took it the wrong way.” Read his original post at the link.

And then there’s good old Bobby Jindal, who still thinks he has a chance to be POTUS: Jindal Breaches White House Protocol To Take Shots At Obama.

The National Governors Association is supposed to bring Democrats and Republicans together to discuss policy and share ideas for mutual success, but after a meeting at the White House Monday, all pretense at bipartisan comity was shattered as a press conference with lawmakers descended into a partisan fracas.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal launched into a repeated assault on President Barack Obama’s leadership in the shadow of the West Wing, in defiance of established bipartisan protocol. Speaking after a meeting of the NGA at the White House, Jindal, the vice chair of the Republican Governors Association, said Obama is “waving a white flag” by focusing on executive actions with three years left in his term. “The Obama economy is now the minimum wage economy,” Jindal added….

Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy rose to challenge Jindal immediately after he spoke to reporters, calling his remarks on Obama waving a white flag “the most insane statement I’ve ever heard.”

Jindal then returned to the microphones to continue his barrage against the Obama administration, saying as Malloy walked off, “I want to make sure he hears a more partisan statement,” and saying Obama should delay the Affordable Care Act mandates. It wasn’t the first time Jindal had used the microphones outside the White House to attack the president, having done the same at last year’s meeting.

Fortunately, Bobby Jindal will never be president. What a horrible excuse for a human being.

As everyone knows by now, we lost a great comedy writer, director, and performer yesterday. From The Chicago Tribune: Harold Ramis, Chicago actor, writer and director, dead at 69.

Harold Ramis not only may be the most successful comedy writer-director that Chicago has produced, but some wouldn’t even confine that statement to Chicago.

“Harold was clearly the most successful comedy writer-director of all time,” said Tim Kazurinsky, who followed Ramis at Second City and later became his friend. “The number of films that he has made that were successful, that were blockbusters, nobody comes close. Even in light in of that, he was more successful as a human being.”

Ramis’ career was still thriving in 1996, with “Groundhog Day” acquiring almost instant classic status upon its 1993 release and 1984’s “Ghostbusters” ranking among the highest-grossing comedies of all time, when he decided to move his family back to the Chicago area, where he grew up and had launched his career.

On Monday, Ramis was surrounded by family in his North Shore home when he died at 12:53 a.m. of complications from autoimmune inflammatory vasculitis, a rare disease that involves swelling of the blood vessels, said his wife, Erica Mann Ramis. He was 69.

Read The New York Times obituary here: Harold Ramis, Alchemist of Comedy, Dies at 69.

Finally, a little True Detective news. Dakinikat posted this in the comments yesterday, but if you didn’t go to the link you might have missed something really revelatory.

A number of writers have noted that the hit HBO series focuses almost exclusively on the male characters and that women and children are only seen and heard in terms of their effect on the men–for example, see this article at The New Yorker by Emily Nussbaum: The shallow deep talk of “True Detective.”

Yesterday two feminist writers took a different point of view. At Slate, Willa Paskin argues that the way the men of True Detective treat women is actually at the heart of the narrative–that by not listening to women, Detectives Marty Hart and Rust Cohle miss the very clues that would help them solve their 17-year case.

Ignoring women may be the show’s blind spot, but it is also one of its major themes.  True Detective is explicitly about the horrible things that men do to women, things that usually go unseen and uninvestigated. No one missed Dora Lange. Marie Fontenot disappeared, and the police let a rumor stop them from following up. Another little girl was abducted, and a report was never even filed. “Women and children are disappearing, nobody hears about it, nobody puts it together,” Rust told his boss Sunday night, outlining what he believes is a vast conspiracy in the Bayou. Rust is haunted by women who aren’t there—his ex-wife and his dead daughter—while Marty cannot deal appropriately with the women who are.

Please read the whole thing, if you haven’t already. Amanda Marcotte agrees with Paskin, and she turns up the work of some “internet sleuths” to provide some evidence. Marcotte:

I’m inclined to agree with Paskin. In fact, I’m going to take it a step further and argue that I think, whatever else happens, this inability of the main characters to really see women is going to be their downfall. Over and over again, the show obsesses about the gap between self-serving delusions and narratives and what’s really going on. Marty repeatedly talks about how detectives frequently overlook what should have been most obvious, what was right under their noses. He calls it the “detective’s curse”. “Solution was right under my nose, but I was paying attention to the wrong clues.”

I am going to offer this prediction, then: The solution will be right under their noses, but they missed it because they don’t really see women.

Indeed, the internet sleuths are already on it. Remember that all-important yearbook photo that they found one of the victims in? Well, guess what? Other female characters that Marty and Rust have interacted with are in the picture. Here’s the picture with the women helpfully numbered.

yearbook

On the far right of the front row is a girl who grew up to be the woman who killed her three children because of Munchhausen by proxy syndrome–the woman whom Rust got to confess and then told her to kill herself. Was she traumatized at that school? Could she have given him some valuable information? Why didn’t Rust follow up on those photos?

True Detective school photos3

Something to think about while we wait for Sunday night to roll around.

Now it’s your turn. What stories are you following today? Please share your links in the comment thread.


Monday Reads: Oh, I wish I was in the land of data …

AT-9-16-Whiplash
Good Morning!

I’m forever aghast at the number of folks that prefer tropes and memes to actually investigating what works and doesn’t work for the economy.  It’s a bit like watching people rush to that wagon where the snake oil salesman promises a miracle cure.  Meanwhile, back here in the land of data, we use the scientific method.  Wishful thinking just doesn’t cure math deficiency.

Of all the myths and falsehoods that Republicans have spread about President Obama, the most pernicious and long-lasting is that the $832 billion stimulus package did not work. Since 2009, Republican lawmakers have inextricably linked the words “failed” and “stimulus,” and last week, five years after passage of the Recovery Act, they dusted off their old playbook again.

“The ‘stimulus’ has turned out to be a classic case of big promises and big spending with little results,” wrote Speaker John Boehner. “Five years and hundreds of billions of dollars later, millions of families are still asking, ‘where are the jobs?’ ”

The stimulus could have done more good had it been bigger and more carefully constructed. But put simply, it prevented a second recession that could have turned into a depression. It created or saved an average of 1.6 million jobs a year for four years. (There are the jobs, Mr. Boehner.) It raised the nation’s economic output by 2 to 3 percent from 2009 to 2011. It prevented a significant increase in poverty — without it, 5.3 million additional people would have become poor in 2010.

And yet Republicans were successful in discrediting the very idea that federal spending can boost the economy and raise employment. They made the argument that the stimulus was a failure not just to ensure that Mr. Obama would get no credit for the recovery that did occur, but to justify their obstruction of all further attempts at stimulus.

So the American Jobs Act was killed, and so was the infrastructure bank and any number of other spending proposals that might have helped the country. The president’s plan to spend another $56 billion on job training, education and energy efficiency, to be unveiled in his budget next month, will almost certainly suffer a similar fate.

This may be the singular tragedy of the Obama administration. Five years later, it is clear to all fair-minded economists that the stimulus did work, and that it did enormous good for the economy and for tens of millions of people. But because it fell short of its goals, and was roundly ridiculed by Republicans and inadequately defended by Democrats, who should have trumpeted its success, the president’s stimulus plan is now widely considered a stumble.

There are so many people that would rather look at what’s in front of their nose rather than examine information over time and look for trend and random events.  Did you know that  January 2014 was the 4th warmest on record for our world?

lq-pulp5-9709

But it turns out that according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), this January was the warmest since 2007 and the fourth warmest January on record. It was also the 38th January in a row that boasted temperatures above the average for the 20th century: temperatures were 1.17 degrees above average globally.

You have to go all the way back to 1976 – the year Paul McCartney and Wings made it to #1 with “Silly Love Songs” and Elton John and Kiki Dee followed close on their heels with #2′s Don’t Go Breaking My Heart, to find a below average temperature for January.

Think about it: If February’s temperatures are also above average, we will have seen 29 years since the last month of below average temperatures.
And global warming deniers never once mentioned California’s drought. It was as though it was not even happening. But these extremes of weather are predicted by the scientific model. Instead of intelligent discourse, we had Todd Akin (R-MO) claiming back in 2009that regulating CO2 will make the seasons stop,” showing he knows no more about climate science than he does about biology. That same year we saw Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) say that because CO2 is in Coca Cola that it is safe and should not be regulated. More recently, we getTony Perkins asserting there is more evidence that God is behind “hurricanes and storms” than there is for climate change. We get David Barton saying last October that abortion is really to blame for climate change. And we get Glenn Beck claiming those who deny climate change will shortly be sent to internment camps.
In other words, you are not going to get an intelligent debate on climate change from Republicans. And Beck, who is a genre unto himself? Nice a fantasy as this is, it’s not going to happen.

What is going to happen to everyone is going to be much worse than internment if something isn’t done. The melting of the Antarctic ice sheet would mean sea levels rising more than 200 feet. If you want to know what the world will look like then, go to National Geographic and take a look.

Keith Brekhus reported here in January that “the Australian based Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science has released a new study arguing that climate models have underestimated the extent to which the doubling of carbon dioxide will affect global surface temperatures.” What we get in response is the Exxon-funded Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change telling us that CO2 is actually good for us, and that global warming will be beneficial, and that anyway, the fact that the planet is warming and that CO2 emissions are increasing, is not evidence of causation.

When Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), vice chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, says that CO2 is good for plants it is because that is what Exxon and other fossil fuel giants are paying her to say.

trappedIt’s equally interesting that a law denying rights to GLBTs  boils down to a few crazy businesses that don’t want to send wedding accouterments  to gay couples because OMG! Have any of these folks ever read about the abuses that lead to our Constitutional concept of religious liberty? Do they think really think that selling a wedding cake is the same as subjecting oneself to the Inquisition?

The Arizona law seems to apply to services beyond those tied to weddings, but same-sex weddings are the impetus for these bills. Specifically, they are in response to lawsuits against three different Christians who refused to photograph, bake a cake, and sell flowers for same-sex weddings. The backers of these laws claim that a Christian cannot, in good conscience, provide a good or service for a same-sex wedding because it violates the teachings of Christianity.

If these bills become law, we could see same-sex couples being denied service not just by photographers and florists, but also restaurants and hotels and pretty much anyone else who can tie their discrimination to a religious belief.

Many on the left and right can agree that nobody should be unnecessarily forced to violate their conscience. But in order to violate a Christian’s conscience, the government would have to force them to affirm something in which they don’t believe. This is why the first line of analysis here has to be whether society really believes that baking a wedding cake or arranging flowers or taking pictures (or providing any other service) is an affirmation. This case simply has not been made, nor can it be, because it defies logic.  If you lined up 100 married couples and asked them if their florist “affirmed” their wedding, they would be baffled by the question.

Strangely, conservative Christians seem to have little interest in this level of analysis and jump right to complaints about their legal and constitutional rights. It’s not that these rights don’t matter. Rather, they should be a secondary issue for Christians. Before considering legal rights, Christians wrestling with this issue must first resolve the primary issue of whether the Bible calls Christians to deny services to people who are engaging in behavior they believe violates the teachings of Christianity regarding marriage. The answer is, it does not.

Nor does the Bible teach that providing such a service should be construed as participation or affirmation. Yet Christian conservatives continue to claim that it does.

Okay, and now for something about True Detective.  It’s my latest addiction and I fully confess  that I passed it on to BostonBoomer, my sister, and Doctor Daughter. (MAJOR SPOILER ALERT)Screen-Shot-2014-02-21-at-12.00.26-AM

David Haglund: This show gets into your head something fierce. About halfway through this episode, called “Haunted Houses,” Rust’s commanding officer chews out his subordinate for bothering people about the long-since-closed Dora Lange case. My eye flashed to the officer’s nameplate: Leroy Salter (played by Paul Ben-Victor, by the way, also known as Vondas from The Wire). Leroy … that derives from French for “the king.” As in the Yellow King? And what could “salter” mean?

Before I could start Googling surname origins, Rust began spouting his theories about a high-reaching murderous conspiracy and, for the first time (in my book, anyway), they sounded like the mad ravings of a paranoid. I recalled that Satan-themed T-shirt on one of the jailed boys who had sex with Marty’s daughter—a shirt that sported a black star or two—and thought about how sometimes the signifiers of devil worship are just for show. The ground beneath me started to shift.

Bring me back from the brink, Willa.

I haven’t had this much fun since Twin Peaks.

I’ve been haunted by this song since I started watching the series.  The music track is as haunting as the imagery and the story line.  It’s chosen by T Bone Burnett who is an artist I’ve had the pleasure to mic and mix.  I love the Train Song By Vashti Bunyan and it’s perfectly placed in the series.

BTW, do you watch “Big Bang Theory”?  I hope you know that  Mayim Bialik who plays Amy Farrah Fowler actually has a doctorate in neuroscience.  You can’t do many advanced degrees without a lot of calculus. I actually started to like math when I went into the part that wasn’t bounded as finite.  Most folks may remember her as Blossom but …

During a red carpet interview at the SAG awards this January, the actress was forced into an awkward situation after Bono’s doppelganger tried to asked her if people assume that she can do advanced math because she plays a smart character on TV. As it turns out, she can do calculus in her sleep because she’s secretly a neuroscientist. And by secretly, I mean she publicly taught for several years, wrote a book about the science of hormones for parenting and has given several public (and very recent) lectures about the importance of investing in STEM careers and research. Oh and she’s also the official spokesperson for Texas Instruments graphing calculators.

She’s a scientist and an actress.

Just one more thing …

I know my fiction from my fact. I’m not so sure that’s true about a lot of policy makers these days of the Republican Persuasion.


Sunday Reads: Taliban, Venezuela, Football and teh “Gays”

7ff38369540c4e315e2af644745c7356 Purple hat - Marcello DudovichGood Morning

Today’s post will be brought to you by the color purple. Why? I don’t know, maybe because of the color’s significance…maybe it is because I felt like it…maybe it is because I wanted to put up some of my saved images of women wearing purple hats. Who the hell knows.

Anyway, the links will be a mixture of this and that…mostly news stuff at first.

Taliban Says Talks Over U.S. Soldier’s Release Suspended – NYTimes.com

The Taliban confirmed publicly on Sunday that they had been in talks with the United States over the release of an American soldier, but said the talks had now been suspended.

[…]

The unusual Taliban statement, which was emailed to journalists, said that the talks had taken place “recently” with the mediation of Qatar, suggesting that meetings took place in Qatar, where the Taliban have an unofficial political office.

(1928), Maggie Laubser Colored Woman With a Purple Headscarf

(1928), Maggie Laubser Colored Woman With a Purple Headscarf

The talks had previously been rumored, but this is the first time the insurgents have publicly confirmed them. They are aimed at reviving a longstanding offer by the American government to release Taliban prisoners from Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, into custody in Qatar, in exchange for the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl of the United States Army, the only American being held by insurgents in Afghanistan.

Talks confirmed and suspended in the same emailed statement. Prior to this message, news of a Taliban attack also hit the MSM:

Taliban attack kills 19 Afghan soldiers in eastern Afghanistan | Reuters

The Afghan Taliban attacked an army outpost in eastern Kunar province early on Sunday, the Afghan government said, killing 19 soldiers in what appeared to be the most deadly assault on security forces in months.

Defence Ministry spokesman Zahir Azimi, in a posting on his Twitter feed, said 19 soldiers were killed, and two wounded, in Kunar’s Ghaziabad district.

Young woman with a rose in her hat - Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1913

Young woman with a rose in her hat – Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1913

Abdul Ghani Musamem, spokesman for the provincial governor, said seven soldiers were captured by the Taliban in the attack in a remote, mountainous area near the border with Pakistan.

He said Afghan forces had launched an operation to try to free the captured soldiers. The Defence Ministry did not immediately confirm the report of captured soldiers.

In a statement provided to media organizations, the Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.

My head gets dizzy with this news of violence, but it is not the only mess in the world that seems to be never-ending.

Of course, you have Syria: Car bomb kills nine people in Syrian town of Atmeh: activists | Reuters

At least nine people were killed in a car bomb attack on Sunday near a field hospital in the Syrian town of Atmeh near the border with Turkey, activists said.

The hospital is owned by Ghassan Aboud, a Gulf-based businessman who runs Orient Television, which said at least 10 people were killed.

Woman with a Hat is a painting by Henri Matisse

Woman with a Hat is a painting by Henri Matisse

That was filed at 4:55 am EST…yeah, I know it is that late/early. (What can I say, Treasure of Sierra Madre is on TCM and I have to make the Sicilian pizza today which I will need to start soon anyway.)

In Ukraine, Fox News is reporting via AP: Where’s the President? Yanukovych’s whereabouts unknown

Nearly a full day after Ukrainian President Viktor Yankovych departed his country’s capital, Kiev, leaving it to the protesters who have called for his removal for three months and the parliament that voted to do just that Saturday, no one seems to know where he is.

A plane with Yanukovych onboard was denied permission to take off Saturday evening from Donetsk, a city in eastern Ukraine that is the president’s base of support, en route to Russia, the State Border Guard Service said. Oleh Slobodyan of the State Border Guard service told the Associated Press Sunday that the plane did not have the proper documentation. The president was driven off in a car from the airport.

Ivan Argunov painting of woman wearing a kokoshnik

Ivan Argunov painting of woman wearing a kokoshnik

Yanukovych did speak on television Saturday in Kharkiv, accusing his opponents of trying to overthrow the government.

“Everything that is happening today is, to a greater degree, vandalism and banditry and a coup d’etat,” he said. “I will do everything to protect my country from breakup, to stop bloodshed.”

However, Yanukovych’s movements have not been accounted for since, and even his spokesman told the Associated Press Sunday morning that he does not know where his boss is.

Also: WATCH: Drone Captures Intense, Unsettling Footage of Kiev Aflame | Mediaite

Protestors have taken the city of Kiev for now and protestors have flocked into the empty presidential compound. But during the height of chaos this week, one news outlet managed to capture stunning footage of Kiev from above with the help of a drone.

The drone, utilized by the German news agency Ruptly, captured some pretty unsettling footage showing parts of the city up in flames after days and days of protests. Thursday was the bloodiest day of the conflict thus far, with dozens killed and hundreds more injured as protestors faced off with Ukraine police forces.

Video at the link.

Woman Wearing Purple Hat - Toulouse Lautrec

Woman Wearing Purple Hat – Toulouse Lautrec

Hey, but Europe/Eastern Europe/Central Asia etc, aren’t the only places having it out, down in South America: Venezuela death toll reaches 11 as protests continue – latimes.com

Opponents and supporters of President Nicolas Maduro held massive demonstrations Saturday in central Caracas and other Venezuelan cities as the unofficial death toll rose to 11 in more than a week of unrest.

Leading the opposition demonstration in eastern Caracas was Liliana Tintori, wife of Leopoldo Lopez, the former Caracas borough mayor who was arrested this week and charged with inciting violence that has erupted during protests.

Lopez and other opposition leaders say armed pro-government vigilantes have been responsible for the deaths and that the opposition has demonstrated peacefully to protest rising crime and shortages. Speaking at a rally attended by tens of thousands of mostly white-shirted opposition members, Tintori said her husband has been jailed unjustly.

Moderne Welt (The Modern World) magazine

Moderne Welt (The Modern World) magazine

“No one can tell me this is not a dictatorship. This is a dictatorship,” said Tintori who shared the platform with opposition leaders Maria Corina Machado and former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles. “No one can tell me we are divided. We are united. Leopoldo will do what is necessary so that Venezuelans unite in peace, and can walk the streets in safety.”

Now, back to the USA…Y’all heard about the shit Ted Nugent said about Obama, calling him a  ‘subhuman mongrel.’   Take a look at this: The GOP, Race and Ted Nugent: If you won’t Denounce Nazi Insults, What does that Say about You? | Informed Comment

On Friday, Nugent “apologized” (though “not to president Obama”) for using the language insofar as it embarrassed other Republicans associated with him. That is, he did not actually apologize at all.

Sarah Palin said of Abbott, “if he’s good enough for Ted Nugent, he’s good enough for me!” Sen. Ted Cruz, quizzed on Nugent’s language, replied that he was sure that President Obama’s Hollywood friends had also said some extreme things.

Really, Ted? This comment is just “extreme”? And which liberal in the film industry has said anything like that?

The fact is that the Republican Party today has a problem with race. Not across the board, but it is there. The Party is is disproportionately made up of self-conceived white southerners with some white Midwesterners and westerners, allied with Wall Street big money. It has even lost the majority of Asian-Americans and Arab-Americans, and can’t get even a plurality of Latinos or more than a handful of African-Americans (traditionally Republicans before the 1970s) to vote for it. The Tea Party and other currents in the party often express white male rage about the rise of the minorities, and the party’s refusal to consider immigration reform is rooted in that rage.

vt 1907 Félix Edouard Vallotton (Swiss artist, 1865-1925) The Purple Hat

1907 Félix Edouard Vallotton (Swiss artist, 1865-1925) The Purple Hat

Of course you can read more at the link.

There was also some news about asshole cops:

New Jersey man escapes 5 year sentence after dash cam footage clears him, indicts cops | The Raw Story

Austin police chief says jaywalkers should be happy they’re not sexually assaulted by cops | The Raw Story

That is quality top notch policing if you ask me. /snark

More ridiculous crap to get you worked up here…I got this petition notice in my email yesterday.

Petition | TED Talks: Lift Your Ban on Abortion! | Change.org

In an article in The Nation by Jessica Valenti, TED content director and TEDWomen co-host Kelly Stoetzel said that abortion does not fit into the focus on “wider issues of justice, inequality and human rights.” She said that “Abortion is more of a topical issue we wouldn’t take a position on, any more than we’d take a position on a state tax bill.”

Portrait of a woman in a purple hat 1912 Lovis Corinth

Portrait of a woman in a purple hat 1912 Lovis Corinth

But that’s just it – access to abortion IS an issue of justice, inequality, and human rights. As NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue noted in her letter, last year the United Nations special rapporteur on torture, Juan E. Méndez, issued a report declaring that denying women access to abortion amounts to torture. If families cannot care for, feed, or plan their families adequately, they are more likely to remain in poverty. That’s inequality. As Tara Culp-Ressler points out, 47,000 women die from unsafe abortions every year. Not talking about abortion has many consequences.  It leads to inadequate support for people who have abortions, lack of insurance coverage of abortion, and even unsafe abortions.

Statistics show that 1 in 3 women will have an abortion by the time they turn 45, but because of silence and stigma, they often don’t feel safe enough to talk about their abortion. I know this from experience. I felt ashamed and isolated for six years. I had no one to talk to. The people I meet who’ve had abortions feel it too. Abortion stigma hurts. Can we talk about it?

By talking openly about abortion, TED Talks will reach out to millions of people with abortion experiences and tell us that we matter. Our stories matter.

Susan Seated Outdoors, Wearing a Purple Hat Mary Cassat oil on canvas, ca. 1881

Susan Seated Outdoors, Wearing a Purple Hat Mary Cassat oil on canvas, ca. 1881

What if TED spread a great new idea – how to listen to people’s experience with compassion, love, and without judgment?

Those of us who have had abortions, and our loved ones, hear you. We are watching you. Will you take a moment to listen to us? Will you help share our stories?

TED Talks have the power to shift abortion stigma. They have the power to create a space within TED where people can hear nuanced, honest abortion stories. Our voices need to be heard. TED Talks: Lift Your Ban on Abortion!

If you can go on TED Talks and listen to the shit talks they have by Jesus freaks Rick Warren, Billy Graham, A.J. Jacobs, then I think they have enough space to hold talks on women’s issues as important as rights to safe legal abortion.

Look at this interesting map, I wonder what Dak has to say about it: Income Inequality Is Even Worse In Big Cities: Study

Woman with Purple Hat Gustav Klimt (Austrian, 1862-1918) oil on canvas, 1912

Woman with Purple Hat Gustav Klimt (Austrian, 1862-1918) oil on canvas, 1912

As for something fun: 15 Made-Up Words That You Should Start Using Right Now

Ever heard of “nurdeling”? You know, the act of sticking your cold feet under someone’s butt on the couch. How about a “woolly-doop-doop”? That thing, when you’re driving and you go fast over a bump in the road, and that it makes your stomach jump a little. Not ringing any bells?

Well, that’s because these are made-up words, courtesy of “The Made-Up Words Project.” The hilarious illustration series is the brainchild of designer Rinee Shah, a San Francisco-based artist who sketches out the meanings of comically nonsensical terms. Particularly, words that are commonplace amongst certain groups of friends and family members that, for one reason or another, just stuck.

You can see Shah artwork here: The Made-Up Words Project

I am thinking of sending her my daughter’s phrase “Coochie Day” you know, what she calls those days when only beings with “coochies” go out and do something special.  No “dingys” aloud!

Okay, on to news out of the NFL:

Pablo Picasso Bust of a Woman Wearing a Striped Hat

Pablo Picasso Bust of a Woman Wearing a Striped Hat

NFL to adopt 15-yard penalty for use of racial slur? – CBSSports.com

John Wooten, head of the Fritz Pollard Alliance that monitors diversity in the NFL, said he expects the league’s competition committee to enact a rule at the owner’s meeting next month making it an automatic 15-yard penalty if a player uses the N-word on the field, with a second infraction meriting an ejection.

I wonder when the use of the word “Redskins” will get the same kind of racial allocation?

Michael Sam is ready to be judged on his merits on football field – latimes.com

Michael Sam stepped onto stage and looked into what might have been the largest media gathering in the history of the NFL scouting combine. Hundreds of reporters clustered in, and there were three rows of TV and video cameras.

“I just wish you guys would just see me as Michael Sam the football player,” the Missouri defensive end said, “instead of Michael Sam the gay football player.”

Then again, it was Sam who generated the story with his announcement two weeks ago he is homosexual, telling his story to the New York Times and ESPN. He is on track to become the first openly gay professional athlete in a major American team sport, and he acknowledges the significance of his place in history.

“Everything that my Mizzou family has done for me has been amazing,” he said, wearing a small, rainbow-colored “Stand With Sam” button on his NFL-issued sweatsuit. “I walk around campus and dozens of students and faculty give me hugs or kisses, start crying in my arms. It’s unbelievable.”

Headdress - WOMAN OF THE TIME OF HENRY VIII

Headdress – WOMAN OF THE TIME OF HENRY VIII

I think it is wonderful and brave of Sam to come out like he did. It should not be such a big deal, but believe me it is. I know in all these years of NFL there have been gay players on the field. It would be crazy to think that the NFL has been “gay free,” just as it is to think Sochi is “gay free.”

And even though I could usually care less about the draft, I am paying attention to it this time.

Oh, and btw: SOCHI, Russia: Billie Jean King sends message of support to Russia’s LGBT community | Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics | McClatchy DC

Tennis great Billie Jean King arrived for Sunday’s closing of the 2014 Winter Olympics with a message for Russia’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community: Hang in, hang on, and you’re not alone.

“Having the Winter Olympics here, the situation here in Russia, has opened up dialogue,” King said Saturday. “I’m always big on love over hate, and I think it’s important that everyone’s treated equally and good to each other. Hopefully, the LGBT community here in Russia knows that they’re not alone and we’ll learn from them.”

King, who is gay, is part of the official U.S. delegation that will witness the end of the 23-day international sports festival. Her presence represents the United States’ objection to a so-called “anti-propaganda” law that Russian President Vladimir Putin signed last June.

Gustav Klimt

Gustav Klimt

In other Olympic news, did you see the racist comments from Ashley Wagner Blasts Olympic Figure Skating Judging, Calls For An End To Anonymous Judging

Well, for a little more analysis on that statement of Wagner: Why Ashley Wagner Is Wrong About Figure Skating

The American skater who ended up in seventh place yesterday is all over the news this morning saying she feels cheated — actually, “gypped” is the word she unfortunately used. Wagner is already known for the face she made when she got a low score during the team competition earlier in the games. Now she’s publicly questioning the sport’s judging system.

[…]

Before the scores even came in commentator Tara Lipinski noted, “To the audience it may look perfect, but when the judges go back and examine those landings she’s going to lose a lot of points.”

“A few shaky landings, a few issues here and there, landing on two feet,” said Johnny Weir. “But it wasn’t a flying endorsement of Ashley Wagner.”

Acapulco Coke Original 1957 Vintage Print Ad

Acapulco Coke Original 1957 Vintage Print Ad

Weir used the word endorsement because her selection for the U.S. Olympic team was surprising after a poor performance at Nationals — an unofficial qualifying event for the American team — where she finished fourth and fell twice. But the skating association sent Wagner to the Olympics because she has more experience in the international competitive circuit than skater who finished ahead of her, Mirai Nagasu.

Wagner’s skates at the Olympics are certainly a huge personal victory after all that doubt and pressure. Taking her bows after the long program, she was celebrating like she had the skate of her life. And her performances were fun to watch and both good ones — but just because she didn’t fall doesn’t mean they were great. And it doesn’t mean, as she is suggesting, that she deserves to place higher than other skaters who did fall, especially when those other skaters landed more difficult jumps more beautifully than she did. Her remarks are poor sportsmanship — and seem to be a campaign to change the sport to favor those who don’t take risks.

Enough of that shit, now for some interesting and pretty links.

Massive logging leaves deep scars in Eastern Europe

With its steep, forested mountains set against blue skies, Romania’s central Pojarna Valley once looked like a postcard landscape but illegal logging has turned the site into an ugly scar.

Ilegally deforested mountains in Pojarna Valley, in the heart of the Romanian Carpathians are pictured on January 16, 2014

“The guys who did this used excavators. They even destroyed the young trees,” said Gheorghe Ridichie, an official at Romania’s forestry ministry, pointing to thousands of stumps poking out of the valley’s now-barren slopes.

Barren slopes to bare naked bodies: Photos Of Nude Dancers Show A Very Different Side Of The Human Body (NSFW)

Ludovic Florent‘s series “Poussières d’étoiles” (Stardust). In it, the French photographer captures the fluid movements of nude dancers, their bodies partially covered by clouds of dust that both obscure and accentuate the curves and lines of their muscles. The images provide a very different perspective of the human body, emphasizing the dynamic potential of bare forms.

lady_victorian_traveler_print-r73bbe529314d478782117cbea42ba49f_nur_8byvr_512Go and see how beautiful those forms and images are…

Finally, FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.: Sharks may hold key to hurricane forecasts | MCT National News | McClatchy DC

More than 750 sharks, tarpon, tuna and billfish, fitted with satellite-linked tags, are providing scientists with data on temperature and salinity at various depths in the Atlantic, Gulf and Caribbean. It’s information they hope could someday be used to improve hurricane forecasts, since a storm’s strength largely depends on how much warm water it will encounter.

“What the fish are providing is a profile of the ocean’s heat structure,” said Jerald Ault, a marine biology professor at the University of Miami. “You get a picture of what the upper layers of the ocean look like.”

Ault and other scientists at UM’s Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science started tagging tarpon in 2001 and sharks in 2010 to learn more about migration, feeding and reproduction. About three years ago, they discovered a remarkable pattern: the fish remained in waters that were about 79 degrees, the minimum required for tropical systems to develop.

In addition, many swam into the waters around tropical systems, which churned up nutrients and made hunting for food easier.

That’s when scientists realized that fish could provide accurate ocean temperatures, which could be fed into the computer models that forecasters use to develop tropical predictions.

Funny how animals can predict things like weather, storms, earthquake and tsunamis?  Some can even tell when people are about to have epileptic seizures. I don’t know, something to think about on this Sunday Morning isn’t it?

Share your links with us today!