Tuesday Reads: Future of what?


Good Afternoon

Boston Boomer is under the weather today, so I’m bringing you the round up for the day.

First up I have to start this thread with a little tongue in cheek;

Okay, now let’s get serious.

Why do I get the feeling the passengers that were “randomly” chosen for United to “reaccommodate” perhaps had a little more than a random pick behind it?

Controversy over United passenger’s ‘troubled past’ – Business Insider

People are rallying around the passenger who was forcibly removed from a United Airlines flight on Sunday, in response to what many see as attempts to vilify a victim.

On Tuesday, the Louisville Courier-Journal published an article reporting that the passenger, David Dao, “has a troubled history in Kentucky.” The article cites past drug-related felonies in the early 2000s, noting that the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure allowed Dao to resume practicing medicine in 2015.

Soon after the article published, many people took to social media to criticize the Courier-Journal for seemingly attempting to justify an incident in which Dao was dragged from United Express Flight 3411 by law enforcement officers. Dao suffered injuries to his face, and was taken to a local hospital for treatment.

None of this man’s past has anything to do with the atrocious treatment he received…but I would not put it past the company to have orchestrated the chosen 4 for just this possible situation. I bet that is part of the protocol. Pick people that can be exploited negatively in the press if you need to…

Louisville’s Courier-Journal Gets Smacked Around For Piece About United Victim’s Past | Mediaite

More tweets of anger at CJ and support of David Dao at that link.

Onward to the shooting and murder of two people at a California primary school.


The next series of links will deal with Trump and Syria and Russia…Trump and North Korea…China.

I mentioned in a comment last week that my dad is part of this survival group, and that there was a rumor going on about the strike force heading to the Korean Peninsula…well, last night he told me the new rumor is that China is dealing with a huge number of refugees from North Korea flooding into the country because of the fear that tRump is going to blow Kim Jong Un off the planet.

I don’t know, the shit is hitting the fan.


I had to do it…

But here are some news links about all that shit.

Trump threatens via Twitter to ‘solve the problem’ in North Korea | MSNBC

North Korea Threatens ‘Catastrophic Consequences’ Over Approach From U.S. Navy Ships | Mediaite


As for the Syria and Putin and Assad shit. (The word shit has become my go to expression for everything lately, you can take a look at some of these updates.

US plans to attack Syria and blame Assad, Vladimir Putin claims | The Independent

Somehow, Russia knew about Syria’s chemical weapon bombing before it happened – Salon.com

It is all so disturbing.

Did Trump Attack Syria For Personal Profit? | Crooks and Liars

At any other time, the questions raised by (fill in the blank) would be the scandal of the decade. Now, with Donald Trump as president, we call it Monday.

Thursday evening, Trump attacked Syria, a sovereign country, with 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles. This act of war was done without Congressional authorization, even after Trump’s August, 2013, tweet that “Obama needs Congressional approval” before attacking Syria in nearly-identical circumstances.

The following morning, headlines like this one appeared in the business press: Raytheon, maker of Tomahawk missiles, leads premarket rally in defense stocks:

Defense and energy stocks dominated the list of premarket gainers on the S&P 500 Friday, led by Tomahawk missile-maker Raytheon Corp., after U.S. missile strikes against a Syrian air base overnight.

Donald Trump apparently owns Raytheon stock. In May, 2016, Trump reported to the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) that he owned Raytheon stock. Interestingly, this FEC report does not appear to include the extensive web of offshore anonymous shell corporations Trump uses to mask assets.

Since that filing Trump’s assets have not been sold with the proceeds placed into a “blind trust,” and there is no public record of his having otherwise sold the stock. Not only that, but Trump is able to draw cash from his “trust” at any time. He could literally have pocketed cash from his gains from attacking Syria.

Read the rest at the link.

But tRump is not only profiting on the attack in Syria. He is making money on his time off, away from, the White House:


Again, I can’t believe that nothing has been done to move forward with impeachment.


Just a few other links to make you cringe:


Trump and Ryan are planning to gut Social Security | Suburban Guerrilla. Susie Madrak


Federal Judge Rules That Texas Intentionally Discriminated Against Minority Voters | Mother Jones

The Sessions’ Justice Department had tried to stop the ruling.

Read This: The Handmaid’s Tale author on how Trump is too unbelievable for fiction · Great Job, Internet! · The A.V. Club

Margaret Atwood—author of The Handmaid’s Tale and dozens of other novels, short-story collections, children’s books, works of poetry and criticism, and the new comic-book series Angel Catbird—is the subject of a lengthy and insightful profile in The New Yorker. She speaks briefly on Donald Trump’s presidency, telling New Yorker writer Rebecca Mead, “If the election of Donald Trump were fiction… it would be too implausible to satisfy readers.” It’s an insightful viewpoint from the writer of speculative fiction (her preferred term over “science fiction”), who’s penned arguably the most influential speculation through the lens of patriarchy. Atwood goes on to say:

Fiction has to be something that people would actually believe. If you had published it last June, everybody would have said, “That is never going to happen.”

No shit. (See, I’m using that word “shit” for everything!)

This study looks like an interesting read….

No democracy without women’s rights | EurekAlert! Science News

Why did the Arab spring fail? Despite a number of revolutions in the Arab world, in the end only Tunisia emerged as a functioning democracy. Results from an interdisciplinary research project at the University of Gothenburg indicate that the problem might be traced partially to the lack of women’s civil rights in the region.

A new study published in the European Journal of Political Research discusses the importance of women’s rights for countries to become democratic. The researchers used a dataset developed by V-Dem, a research institution cohosted by the University of Gothenburg (Sweden) and the University of Notre Dame (USA). The dataset includes the state of democracy in 177 countries over the years 1900 to 2012.

The study demonstrates that countries do not become fully democratic without political and social rights for women. This is particularly true for the Arab Spring countries, where the failure to foster women’s rights compromised any attempt at democratic governance in the area.

According to Professor Staffan Lindberg, director of the V-Dem Institute, the result is important because it shows that democratic development is not gender blind: societies transitioning from authoritarian regimes strongly need women in order to develop functioning democratic governments.

This next link is for Dak, another grave for you.


The desert bloom from space….is something to see.


And I will end it on that note.

This is an open thread. I hope BB starts to feel better, and that y’all have a good afternoon.




Wednesday: Banjoville, Georgia. A microcosm of Trump Nation.

Good Afternoon

This little section of delight in the North Georgia Mountains…I’ve spoken before of the cross-section of folks who live and breed in the town of Banjoville. Simple kinds of folk, why the sign welcoming people to our county states as much:





I’ll give them the “Scenic Beauty” but as far as the “Friendly People” …that is open for debate.

I’ve noticed the Trump situation has made the bold hateful comments more mainstream. it is acceptable and standard and now common place to find this shit among the facebook pages of the typical Banjoville resident.

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(One of those comments is written by a superintendent of schools…more on that later in the post.)

But there is something more to it than all this hate, which is deep seated in the back mountain town mentality that populates so much of the nation. The Trump Nation. It is a nation that would never support a Cruz or Rubio, because when it comes down to it…they have Latino blood.

There was a tweet I saw yesterday that sums the whole thing up perfectly.


Yes, when it all comes down to it, White always wins.

And this is what I see everywhere I go in Banjoville.

A White Right Wing Christian Hate that is prejudice against any and all who is not “one of them.” Living in a town like that is hell. My family has experienced the discrimination first hand many times. To this point I bring you the reason for this post. The Trump Nation embodied in Banjoville, what does this mean for society.

We live in a town where the Sheriff’s Office is so blatant about their total embrace of the practice of Separation of Church and State. This is the painted image that greats you as you walk into the Sheriff’s Office:


It is a picture by an artist, Beth Sweigard, known for painting fetuses and a sad Jesus…


….or Jesus at the Jewish Peoples’ Wall…


When I first saw that Patriotic Jesus poster in the sheriff’s department, I immediately thought about that other spectacular artist…Jon McNaughton.


Yeah, he is the artist who immortalized Clive Bundy above as some kind of western hero for the nation….


You want a real laugh, take a look at the gallery of patriotic work here jonmcnaughton. com /patriotic/

I’ve seemed to have gotten carried away there, I need to get back to the Banjoville Sheriff Dept.

Everywhere you look there is proof that the Sheriff is a holy man, even a plaque that states he has been to church more times than any other man alive on the planet. ( I kid you not.)

Tell me that a person who is not a “real” Christian will have a equal chance at justice in that building. (The color of their skin goes without saying…back before the State of Georgia forcibly frightened all the immigrants out of town, the officers made most of their arrest by stalking the Spanish Sunday Mass up at the Catholic Church…and pulling over any car leaving the church.)

How about the fine Doctors in the area? Who proudly display their affiliation in The Oathkeepers…Oh yeah, we even have one who is a leading authority member of the affiliation. How does this affect his service to the public…the entire public. (Well, I guess since he is in private practice that is not a legitimate question, but if he is the only doctor your insurance plan accepts what then?)

Then you have the teachers and administrators at the schools, counselors who are partial to the local Banjoville White Christian. Coaches who are prejudice against players… teachers who will penalize a student if they are the wrong” color or even the wrong Christian faith. (Y’all remember Catholics are a no go as well.) This is not something made up…this really happens and it effects the future lives of students.

This is the view of a Trump Nation from my little Banjoville. The hate and bitterness is nothing new, it is just becoming bolder in its execution.

Now he’s hooked the Christian conservatives: Accept it, Donald Trump’s not fading — even more on the right are buying his snake oil – Salon.com

Donald Trump might actually be able to pull it off. A new, nationwide poll from CNN/ORC shows that Trump’s lead in the Republican polls has grown even stronger going into the Iowa caucus, which kicks off the primary season. He’s reached 41 percent support amongst Republican voters, which is more than double what his closest contender, the even more ridiculous Ted Cruz, has. Even more startlingly, Trump’s supporters seem more assured of their votes than the supporters of any other candidate. It seems Trump might do what seemed to be impossible: Overcome the resistance of party leaders to grab the nomination.

…things are looking a lot better for Trump than anyone could have predicted. Part of the issue is that his closest contender, Ted Cruz, hasn’t made the progress he clearly thought he would at this late stage.

Mea culpa time. I’ve long thought that Ted Cruzhad a strong chance of knockingTrump out of the race, and that Cruz would either win the nomination or at least winnow it down so that Rubio could sneak up and grab it. In my own defense, the theory was pretty sound. I argued that Christian right voters would move away from go-nowhere candidates like Mike Huckabee and Ben Carson and coalesce behind a single candidate. It seemed that Cruz, who is an even nastier bully than Trump but speaks fluent evangelical-ese in a way that Trump can’t master, was well-positioned to suction up those Christian right voters.

The evangelicals did abandon the smaller candidates but, in a somewhat surprising twist, they flocked to Trump. Cruz’s once robust support amongst evangelicals is plummeting. He now has only 20 percent of the evangelical vote, whereas Trump has 37 percent of their support.

And now Jerry Falwell Jr. is endorsing Trump. This is doubly huge because Cruz used Liberty University, which Falwell is the president of, as the stage to announce his run for presidency. But such is the Trump-momentum that Cruz is getting left behind even by those whose support he thought he could count on.

Trump’s ability to win over evangelical voters is the surest sign yet that his campaign will not collapse as quickly as every predictive model imaginable suggested it should. Prying Christians off Trump should have been easy! He’s been married three times and literally cheated on his first wife in a church. His attempts to pretend he cares about religion have been limp and unconvincing, and yet, his base of support with evangelicals is only getting stronger.

The best explanation for why comes from Adam Lee of Daylight Atheism, who points out that “evangelicalism isn’t especially concerned with beliefs, nor has it ever has been.”

“Whether it’s Prohibition and communism, dancing and divorce, or abortion and gay marriage, evangelicals’ pet causes have changed radically over the decades,” he adds. “The issues themselves have only ever been important as a boundary marker, a way to delineate Us from Them.”

Trump fails comically to convince anyone he’s ever even cracked a Bible, he is the master at the “us vs. them” narrative. It turns out this is actually all the majority of Christian conservatives needed. All that stuff about Jesus and family values was merely window dressing. All that really matters is being told that people like them are better and more worthy than other people, and whoever can do that the most effectively — turns out that’s Donald Trump – will beat out the competition.

The us vs them….no that is not the right way…it is more like I said above, Trump pulls this “he is one of US” or “they are not one of us”… is more like the wording to me. One of Us being the key phrase. Us being only White Caucasians, accepting Jesus as your Savior kind of Christian, Us.


Anyway, that is my observations of Trump supporters, for another look, take a gander at this: The Return of the Middle American Radical An intellectual history of Trump supporters.

Trump not only got Jerry Falwell yesterday… Evangelical leader Jerry Falwell Jr. endorses Trump – The Washington Post . He also got: Sheriff Joe Arpaio to Endorse Donald Trump in Iowa – First Draft. Political News, Now. – The New York Times and today: Donald Trump wins John Rocker’s endorsement | www.ajc.com

A long read here: How Trump Happened – WSJ.com

However, I think the reason Trump happened is because of the media’s lack of calling Trump out for his racism, sexism, and every other thing the bigoted asshole has done.  Of course the Media isn’t only to blame. I think the corporate powers are a YUUUUGGGEE part of the problem too.

Watch this interview from The Young Turks that touches on the media and corporate sponsors.

Oh, the other points of the interview are very well taken, but y’all get the message here.

Just take a look at the headline from The Washington Examiner: Why can’t Donald Trump handle Megyn Kelly? | Washington Examiner

WTF is that?

Maybe I am being sensitive?

Although the article is not as bad as the headline makes it…

This feud has gotten ridiculous. Republican front-runner and businessman Donald Trump is now threatening to boycott the upcoming GOP debate if host Fox News doesn’t remove Megyn Kelly as a moderator.

I don’t usually like the argument that takes the form of, “if candidate can’t stand up to X, how can they stand up to the Islamic State?” But I do wonder how Trump will be able to handle anyone as president if he can’t take the sort of pointed questions about his weaknesses that originally soured him on Kelly.

It all started last August at the first GOP debate, when Kelly asked Trump about the New York businessman’s comments toward women in the past. The question was one of the most memorable of the debate, and prompted Trump to later claim: “you could see there was blood coming out of her eyes … Blood coming out of her wherever.”

Kelly has recently poked fun at former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s endorsement of Trump, and hosted National Review editor Rich Lowry, whose magazine has come out against the Republican front-runner.

And here we are. This insignificant back and forth has caused Trump, for the fourth time this cycle, to threaten to boycott a debate. Trump said he would boycott two CNN debates if CNN President Jeff Zucker didn’t donate money to charity. He also threatened to pull out of the CNBC debate if the format wasn’t changed (rival Ben Carson made a similar threat as well).

This makes Fox News spokesperson Irena Briganti’s statement all the more relevant: “Donald Trump is just trying to build up the audience for Thursday’s debate, for which we thank him.”

Trump is unlikely to actually boycott the debate and host his own town hall for rival networks, as he has claimed he would do. But if he has no plans to actually do this, his ongoing comments and actions toward Kelly are troubling.

How will Trump handle a hostile press if he is president? We know the press will be more harsh toward a Republican president, and that the press is especially hostile toward Trump, so will he just shut them out? And does Megyn Kelly, on a right-leaning network, really need to be public enemy number one to the Trump campaign?

I realize that this, like everything Trump does, is for attention, but it ultimately brings into question his ability to handle adversity and criticism.

That and imagine his fat sweaty fingers on the button of our nuclear arsenal.

Trump: ‘Obviously’ I Was Joking About Shooting People And Not Losing Votes

“It Was Like a Fascist Rally”: Sikh Protester Ejected From Trump Event Speaks Out

On Cruz and Rubio, Jesus thumping there way to Iowa:

Ted Cruz’s Evangelical Gamble – The New York Times

Rubio presses ‘Judeo-Christian values’ in Iowa | TheHill

Cruz’s Constant References to Jesus Drive Millions to Atheism – The New Yorker

Other links…

Trump Said He Bought Windows From China Because America’s Were Too Expensive – The Daily Beast

The Progressive Policy Donald Trump Just Embraced | ThinkProgress

Donald Trump endorses an idea liberals love: letting Medicare negotiate drug prices – Vox

Noam Chomsky Says GOP Is ‘Literally A Serious Danger To Human Survival’

As Donald Trump and Ted Cruz Soar, G.O.P. Leaders’ Exasperation Grows – The New York Times

Well what do you expect when you have GOP politicians like these:

Maine Gov. LePage: Bring back the guillotine

Racist, bigoted Facebook posts from top schools official can’t be tolerated

Leaked Documents Undermine Official Story Of Flint Water Crisis | ThinkProgress


In other news:

Denmark approves controversial refugee bill allowing police to seize asylum seekers’ cash and valuables | Europe | News | The Independent

Is the Oregon Standoff Over Yet?

Ammon And Ryan Bundy Arrested In Oregon; One Militant Dies In Shootout With Law Enforcement | ThinkProgress

After Bundy Arrest, Remaining Militia Says They Will Continue Occupation And Are Prepared To Die | ThinkProgress

Eyewitnesses Give Conflicting Accounts Of How Rancher Was Killed In Standoff

Christie ‘Glad’ That ‘Thin-Skinned’ Trump Skipping Fox News Debate


That is all, more updates and links in the comment section below.

This is an open thread y’all….

Wednesday Reads : Sanity by the numbers, one…two…three.


IMG_0269It’s as easy to learn as your ABCs.

I can’t remember the exact date, but it has been a while.

It must have been around the time when Hobby Lobby was in the news? Or maybe it was before that, Troy Davis? Perhaps.

No, it was after Davis…after the Jesus in my Uterus decisions…and the Bundy Ranch militias, the Wendy Davis defeat and the countless scenes of police brutality and idiotic right-wing shitheads stoking the embarrassing political cable TV dumb ass reality show that stands for our elected officials.

Y’all know what I am talking about. We have seen it here on the blog, Mona aka called it Political Affected Disorder. It was really something serious for a few of us…like me. What would have taken just an evening to bring me down from an anxiety and depressed mood brought on by the absolute ridiculous hate filled rant of Bachmann back in the day, now took days to calm down.

01dbdc170d6dd355a6193c16cee70ce34432f820c6There was other things going on at home, yeah but there was something else about the feelings of defeat and real disgust that were different this time around. I didn’t have that anger like I did in 2008. That anger that pushed me, with a vengeance. No, this was not the same.

I’ve been worn down, depression does that I guess.

My only way to keep some sense of sanity was to avoid the news and stop going online all together.

I could not bring myself to comment on the blog anymore. Doing the afternoon news threads was unbearable. I avoided almost anything, just researching articles the evening before my post…and catching up on the threads that Boston Boomer and Dakinikat had written the days before. (Actually, I still do this…I can’t help it, it is my only way to protect myself because I feel like if I get back involved as I once was…I will really loose it. Mentally.)

So. I check out. Only to “check in” on Tuesday evenings or Wednesday mornings…same goes for Saturday nights and Sunday mornings….that is when I will look at what has happened with the circus show of current events.

The reason I bring all this up, is because I felt I had to explain. The reasons for why I am hardly ever here.

01b41dc1a4e96508765900f5356c0326e1cfa5d679Now a few links to illustrate my point…and then I can toss it over to you.

Better Watch Your Mouth, Donald Trump Suing Everyone Who’s Mean To Him – Wonkette

We decided Steve King and Ben Carson were wrong about Muslims holding public office in 2006 – AMERICAblog News

Digby at Salon: Ted Cruz’s diabolical shutdown strategy: Why the GOP senator wants to watch the world burn – Salon.com

Hillary Clinton Confronted on Whether She Created Birtherism | Mediaite

Jimmy Carter says democracy is dead: You need at least $200 million to run for president of US ‘oligarchy’

01c56254b774595814be41cad582d1b606ae3de4dfA stunning stat about pay seems impossible but actually is true – The Washington Post

Once upon a time, American men used to get something called a “raise.”

That is when your employer would actually pay you more money. Now, it is true that some people still have experience with this all-but-forgotten practice, but even the ones who do tend not to get pay increases that keep up with price increases. That is why, as David Wessel of the Brookings Institution points out, the typical male worker actually saw his after-inflation pay fall between 1973 and 2014.

What is four lost decades between friends?

01114ef2c238d003fab0228e72d59c08827f563788I won’t go into the discussion of women and their earning power, cough….cough.

When the Womb Is a Crime Scene – ProPublica

Alabama has turned hundreds of pregnant women into felons for using drugs — even when they’re legal and the kids turn out fine.

Mathematician Declares War On Kansas Republicans For Committing Election Fraud (VIDEO) «

Donald Trump Heading To Extremist Religious Right Summit | Right Wing Watch

Constitution 101 for Presidents | Linda R. Monk, J.D.

Obama to Pope: “We Stand With You In Defense Of Religious Freedom” | Video | RealClearPolitics

This next thread from Wonkette is something you have to read in full: Let’s Meet The Biggest Loser Candidate In America. His Name Is Carl! – Wonkette

Look at this bunch of . . .

Four candidates are vying for the seat: 1. a dreamy young GOP lawyer who is on the Richmond School Board, 2. a filthy rich Democrat who is a real estate developer and a county supervisor, 3. an independent community organizer who used to be a county supervisor, and 4. our subject today: Libertarian Carl Loser.

Forgot to ask him where I could get one of those sweet lapel pins.

And other stories of note:

New York Yankees Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra dies at 90

The baseball world got some sad news late Tuesday evening when the Yogi BerraMuseum announced via their Twitter account that the New York Yankees Hall of Fame catcher had died at the age of 90.

Berra is considered the greatest catcher of all-time, and is a New York Yankees legend. His No. 8 jersey is retired at the Yankees monument park.

"1953 Bowman Yogi Berra" by Bowman Gum - Heritage Auctions. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.



The 18-time All-Star took home three MVP awards in 1951, 954 and 1955. He is one of just six managers to lead both the National and American league teams to the World Series.

More than the man himself, Berra was a larger-than-life personality who would speak to the media freely, delivering some of the most memorable quotes in history often known as “Yogi-isms.”

Here are some of the most memorable Yogi-isms from the Yankees’ legendary backstop.

“We made too many wrong mistakes.”

“Congratulations. I knew the record would stand until it was broken.”

“A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore.”

“Baseball is ninety percent mental, and the other half is physical.”

“When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

“You can observe a lot by just watching.”

“It’s like déjà vu all over again.”

“It ain’t over till it’s over.”

“Always go to other people’s funerals, otherwise they won’t come to yours.”

We promise there will be a lot of people at your funeral, Yogi. Rest in peace.



That is it for today, this is an open thread.

BTW, Happy 18th Birthday Jake…wow…




Wednesday Reads: History according to Lego and other things

5116b9018bff112970689c3d9157ac0b (1)Good Morning

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

Over a thousand pictures here: Lego Art on Pinterest 

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

e7a647c998afa3841b4466b2288f71a8And more artsy fartsy stuff here: Lego Creations on Pinterest

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

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

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

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


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

This thing is amazing!

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

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

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

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

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

This is not the first rodeo for The Brickman…

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

16 Images to Illustrate the Blizzard of 2015 – Scientific American

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Go and read how it has changed at the link.

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

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

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

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

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

Check this shit out:

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

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

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

cde3bc59f08305a4960d464aff53632aVideo and more info at the links.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Environmental racism’

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

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

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

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

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

Inequality in the Air We Breathe? – NYTimes.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I just get so damn sick about all this.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


Have you seen this?

Domino’s Unleashes the Most Terrifying Print Ad in History


Domino's Unleashes the Most Terrifying Print Ad in History




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


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



Medieval Connections to ‘Classical Roots’

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

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

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

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


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



Sunday Reads: Faults, Fashions and Failures

René Gruau (February 4, 1909 - March 31, 2004)

René Gruau (February 4, 1909 – March 31, 2004)

Good Morning

I hope that those of you trapped beneath the ice and snow, are safe and doing fine. Some of the pictures out of Texas are amazing. I have a house full of munchkins as I write this post (Saturday night) and it is wonderful to hear laughter from my daughter’s room.

So, with that in mind, here is your post for this cold December morning. (Written by a distracted mum, so mind the awkwardness.)

By the way, all the illustrations are by René Gruau (February 4, 1909 – March 31, 2004)

db61c4c953a98b16cf6640008fbe4f07…a renowned fashion illustrator whose exaggerated portrayal of fashion design through painting has had a lasting effect on the fashion industry . Because of Gruau’s inherent skills and creativity, contributed to a change in the entire fashion industry through the new pictures that represented the already popular designs created by designers in the industry. The benefits, including economic stimulation and enhancement of advertising are still vividly presented in the industry today via a new way of fashion illustration, fashion photography. Gruau became one of the best known and favorite artists of the haute couture world during the 1940s and 50s working with Femina, Marie-Claire, L’Officiel, L’Album Du Figaro and an assortment of “high-style” magazines.[3] Gruau’s artwork is recognized and commended internationally in some of Paris and Italy’s most prestigious art museums including the Louvre in Paris and the blank in Italy. in addition to his international fame and recognition, “Gruau’s artwork is known for its timeless and enduring style”.[3]

You can find many more of these beautiful fashion illustrations here: RENE GRUAU

I will have more fashion links later in the post, now let’s get to some “newsy” links.

Fur lined coat by Christian Dior, illustrated by Rene Gruau, Sept. 1947

Fur lined coat by Christian Dior, illustrated by Rene Gruau, Sept. 1947

There is some disturbing policy news out of Japan, Japan’s controversial new state secrets law condemned as ‘the largest ever threat to democracy in postwar Japan’ by Nobel academics | The Raw Story

Japan’s controversial new state secrets law was condemned Saturday as “the largest ever threat to democracy in postwar Japan” by a group of academics, including two Nobel prize winners, reports said.

On Friday Japan’s parliament adopted a new law handing out stiffer penalties for those who spill state secrets, despite a public outcry over fears the legislation was draconian and would impinge on press freedom and the public’s right to know.

In a strongly worded attack on the new law, a group of 31 academics, including Nobel Prize winners Toshihide Maskawa and Hideki Shirakawa, accused the Japanese government of threatening “the fundamental human rights and pacifist principles” established by the country’s constitution.

The controversial bill, proposed by the right-wing government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, was approved by the Senate on Friday evening, a few days after it was passed in the lower house.

The Senate vote in favour was expected as the coalition government led by Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) holds a majority of seats there.

The opposition raised motions to stop the law but each move was rejected by the LDP members and their allies.

ecbfca7e86759bf5f3aec18f230d6af0 René Gruau February 4, 1909 - March 31, 2004Sounds like Japan has their own form of “GOP” like assholes in control, and they are making a mess of things.

The scholars’ statement — which Kyodo said was also endorsed by a further 3,150 academics — condemned the country’s ruling bloc of behaving in a way that was “reminiscent of the prewar government that wrested away freedom of thought and freedom of the press” by pushing the law through both Japan’s legislative chambers.

Shirakawa was awarded the Nobel prize for chemistry in 2000 while Maskawa won the prestigious award for physics in 2008. The Kyodo report did not name any of the other academics who signed the statement.

The law allows government ministers to designate as a state secret information related to defence, diplomacy, counter-intelligence and counter-terrorism.

Abe has argued that the measure is necessary to plug a notoriously leaky government machine, which prevents its chief ally the United States from sharing intelligence.

But critics say the categories are so vague that almost anything could fit the definition. They worry that information that is embarrassing to governing politicians or to their patrons could easily be hidden from public view.

They point to the way that Tokyo withheld news of the severity of the nuclear disaster at Fukushima in 2011, and say a state that already operates largely behind closed doors will become even more secretive.

That problem is exacerbated by a relatively weak institutional press.

Oh yeah, weak press? Hmmm, that does sound familiar. But ours is weak because of who “sponsors” it…

6370cad63893b416dc8e81fcfb81f373 René Gruau February 4, 1909 - March 31, 2004Those convicted of leaking “state secrets” could get long prison terms, up to ten years…and anyone encouraging someone to spill the beans…they could get up to five years in prison, the language so vague….it may even include journalist and lawyers.

And talking about Japan: Largest Fault Slip Ever Recorded Generated Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami

The magnitude 9.0 earthquake that unleashed the devastating 2011 tsunami in Japan was triggered by the largest fault slip ever recorded, the journal Science reported Thursday.

By measuring the frictional heat produced by the fault slip during the earthquake, researchers from the University of California, Santa Cruz and other organizations found that friction along the Tohoku fault was remarkably low when the earthquake struck on March 11, 2011.

“The Tohoku fault is more slippery than anyone expected,” said Emily Brodsky, a geophysicist at UC Santa Cruz. Brodsky acted as co-author for three papers on the Tohoku earthquake published in the journal Science this week.

The scientist say the fault is slippery as a banana peel.

Researcher Patrick Fulton, first author of the paper focusing on temperature measurements, concurred.

“The large slip at shallow depths contributed to the tsunami that caused so much damage in Japan. Usually, these earthquakes don’t rupture all the way to the surface,” he said.

Fulton said that the low resistance to slip along the Tohoku fault can help explain the staggering 165-foot displacement, or movement, that occurred to the seafloor during the earthquake. That low friction, he said, was exacerbated by an abundance of weak, slippery clay material in the fault zone.

Read more at the link…it is an interesting read.

69d44649ebc5a5ff7e7ab476273125eb René Gruau February 4, 1909 - March 31, 2004Back at home, this little tidbit of news due to an asshole out of California: Global Hawk Air Force Budget Cuts – Business Insider

A $114 million contract to build three more Global Hawk high-altitude unmanned surveillance aircraft was announced back in September, despite the Air Force not even wanting them.

Facing budget cuts and wanting to save some cash (about $2.5 billion over five years), the Air Force was planning to stop buying the pricey — and rather unreliable — drones and mothball the remainder of the fleet in favor of the battle-tested and accomplished U2 spy plane.

“The Block 30 [Global Hawk aircraft] is not operationally effective,” the Pentagon’s top testing official had declared in a blunt May 2011 report, according to The Center for Public Integrity.

But the Pentagon was no match for forces on Capitol Hill, as an article written by W.J. Hennigan in the Los Angeles Times points out:

“Northrop responded sharply, saying the U-2 “places pilots in danger, has limited flight duration and provides limited sensor capacity.”

In the end, the Air Force didn’t win that skirmish. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-Santa Clarita), whose congressional district includes Palmdale, jumped in to rescue the project. Congress restored the funding, and last month Northrop received a $114-million contract to build three more drones, saving thousands of jobs.”

e92d7e333fae1aebcb25d52bf5912709Go and read all the money that was put into military programs the military did not want. And then…read this op/ed from the LA Times: The saddest Christmas wish lists ever

I was standing in line at the post office when a sign caught my eye: “Operation Santa 2013.” According to the poster, “answering letters to Santa has been a holiday custom for over 100 years.” Those who wanted to participate could choose one of the many letters to Santa received by the post office and write back as Santa, sending the gift requested.

How cute, I thought. Kids request presents from “Santa” and they actually arrive.

I remember walking to the mailbox with my own letters to Santa as a child. One of my mother’s favorite Christmas stories was how, when I was 4, I mistakenly threw my peanut butter sandwich into the mailbox instead of my letter. Santa brought me a whole jar of peanut butter that year.

I couldn’t wait until my kids were old enough to write letters to Santa. Now they are too old for Santa Claus and I miss him, so Operation Santa seemed perfect for me.

Bright and early on Dec. 3, the first day the program got underway, I drove to the main Los Angeles post office at Gage and Central to choose my letter. I walked into a large, decorated room where Cleo, the “elf in charge,” was waiting. I expected letters full of misspelled words and little-kid grammar, asking for Legos and Barbies, skateboards and My Little Pony. I knew there’d be those who asked for phones or IPads or Xboxes, or other things out of my price range, but I figured I could find some little boy who still wanted a fire engine.

What I found were pleas from parents. A mother out of work said her family would eat, but there wouldn’t be any presents. A dad wrote that his kids needed school supplies. Parents with two kids, three kids, maybe more, were hoping for help with what they couldn’t provide. A dad just out of prison wanted to make Christmas special for the kids he hadn’t seen for so long. A disabled grandmother asked for a church dress for her granddaughter.

I was overwhelmed. Many of the letters — even the ones from kids — asked for groceries and shoes, clothing and shampoo. One child wrote: “Please bring my mommy some food. She’s been good this year.”

2644c4a9d02166b511a38f2f881886f0The rest is heartbreaking….especially for me, because my good friend Jessica is one of those mommas who is having a difficult time this year getting a few gifts for her two boys. Seeing her on Facebook looking for “barter or trade” items makes me so sad.

Elf Cleo sat beside me at the table checking in a new batch of letters. She told me 90% of the Santa requests sent to the post office never get answered. Many are written at homeless shelters and city food banks and after-school programs. (I found one letter in which a young teenager asked for gifts for the shelter workers.) Cleo said that every once in a while a family’s gift comes back unopened, marked address unknown. She wonders: Have they moved into a shelter? A car? Onto the street?

I read a lot of letters, and I felt worse and worse. I didn’t know how to choose. The single dad who needed diapers? The 17-year-old asking for a backpack for her little sister? I believe in holiday magic, but there just didn’t seem to be enough of it to go around.

After you read the rest of that op/ed, take a look at this: What If Your Income Grew As Fast As the 1 Percent’s? Try Our Calculator | Mother Jones

The richest 1 percent of Americans have seen their average income jump more than 270 percent over the past five decades. Meanwhile, the average income of the least wealthy 90 percent of Americans grew an anemic 22 percent during that time. (Those figures are based on inflation-adjusted real dollars.)

So how much would you be earning today if the phenomenal income growth at the very top of the income scale had trickled down to most Americans? Use this calculator to find out.

355e0d9096b5052db00f789a294db74eAll you crime newsy people will eat up this next juicy link: Why Couldn’t Worst Crime Lab Employee Get Fired? — Daily Intelligencer

That’s the question an exhaustive new report on a particularly incompetent lab worker at the office of New York’s medical examiner. Over two years, the office has been looking into how she mislabeled evidence (mixing up suspect and victim’s names), ignored or missed DNA samples, failed to test evidence, and couldn’t understand basic concepts for testimony. But even though her supervisors knew about “myriad failures,” they didn’t fire her. The only news in this story that instills confidence in the city’s forensics lab: She left on her own in 2011.

Which is connected to a New York Times story here: The City Is Not Handling Its DNA Evidence Too Well

and here: Report Details the Extent of a Crime Lab Technician’s Errors in Handling Evidence

Alright, now for the fashion links. Orchid…that is the new hot color for 2014! Actually it is officially called “Radiant Orchid” but that link goes to an AP article so you will need to read about the “creativity” of the color purple on your own.

Rene Gruau Les Girls

Rene Gruau Les Girls

Well, for me…talking creativity in fashion? How about iconic? Marilyn Monroe’s Magician–the One and Only Travilla | GlamAmor

Whenever I want to illustrate the power of costume design, the person I always turn to is the legendary William (“Billy”) Travilla.  I can usually convince any crowd with two simple words:  Marilyn Monroe.  As of 1952, Travilla was responsible for her fashion on film, which included iconic work in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), How to Marry a Millionaire (1953), and The Seven Year Itch (1955).  He designed for her offscreen as well.  In short, as the world continues to obsess over the style of Marilyn Monroe, we are all also celebrating the talent of Travilla.

Though perhaps best known for his work in the 1950s, his career stretched from film in the 1940s to television of the 1980s where he helped shape the style of the decade in shows such as Dallas and KnotsLanding. As a result, there is a nearly endless list of celebrities who absolutely adored him.  Barbara Stanwyck, Lana Turner, Ava Gardner, Lauren Bacall, Loretta Young, Ann-Margret, Faye Dunaway, Debbie Reynolds, Joanne Woodward, Mitzi Gaynor, Diahann Carrol, Sharon Tate…this is only the beginning.  As biographer and Travilla Foundation founder Kimberley Ashley observes, “Many celebrities of the golden era of Hollywood depended upon the Travilla touch for their career success.  He touched their lives with his silver screen alchemy.”

Oooo, love that quote, those last three words drip with perfect illusion. Just go to GlamAmor blog and read the rest. Enjoy it!

bf3645c296d1b500010e0fd32ee87db7Then take a look at this: 17 Times The Fashion Was The Best Part Of The Movie

Forget the plot — some movies are best remembered for the costumes.

At least, that’s how we feel. We appreciate a well-directed film with good cinematography as much as the next film buffs, but some movies capture a style era so perfectly, we can’t help but leave inspired to emulate the characters. Below, we’ve rounded the films with fashion we’ll never forget… even if we can’t remember anything else about them.

And what is fashion without scent? A Whiff on the Wild Side: Confessions of a Vintage Perfume Addict That is an excerpt of a book on perfumes, it even has some of the reviews of old vintage scents.  Scent and Subversion: Decoding a Century of Provocative Perfume: Barbara Herman

Another book link for you, this time a discussion of an anthology: Why Writers Love New York City (and Then Leave It) – Marie-Helene Westgate – The Atlantic

In the new anthology Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving New York, contributors share the experience of moving to New York in pursuit of the writing life. In essay after essay, writers describe their experiences moving to New York from Long Island, New Jersey, California, and overseas. Anyone from anywhere can come to New York City in pursuit of fame, riches, and romance, and as a result, Goodbye to All That captures New York’s uniquely nuanced, overlapping landscape of cultures and geographies that for millions feels at once deeply personal and communal.

But while something deeper also reveals itself in the pages: Some thread of pure accident runs through the story of each writer’s dream of making it in the big city.

9724a76138f5e2711314732765c7459fAfter you read that interview piece, if the book seems interesting, find it here: Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving New York: Sari Botton

Did you know that the Neanderthals used to decorate their caves? Well, not in the way we do…but: New evidence suggests Neanderthals organized their living spaces

Scientists have found that Neanderthals organized their living spaces in ways that would be familiar to modern humans, a discovery that once again shows similarities between these two close cousins.

The findings, published in the latest edition of the Canadian Journal of Archaeology, indicate that Neanderthals butchered animals, made tools and gathered round the fire in different parts of their shelters.

“There has been this idea that Neanderthals did not have an organized use of space, something that has always been attributed to humans,” said Julien Riel-Salvatore, assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Colorado Denver and lead author of the study. “But we found that Neanderthals did not just throw their stuff everywhere but in fact were organized and purposeful when it came to domestic space.”

Go figure.

5d68e77fac27dec4a1d7efbc5fe851e7And if that does not make you think twice about things and mans place in the animal kingdom, maybe this will: Honeybees Can Recognize Individual Human Faces: Scientific American

The ability to tell individual faces apart was long thought to be exclusive to large-brained mammals. But in recent years a number of studies have shown that, in fact, some wasps can facially recognize one another. And honeybees can learn human faces, too. In their article in the December issue of Scientific American, biologists Elizabeth Tibbetts of the University of Michigan and Adrian Dyer of RMIT University in Melbourne describe these findings and what they reveal about the neural requirements for seemingly complex cognitive tasks.

Shit. They can learn human faces? Damn, does that mean that the military could train honeybees to become assassins? Think about it. Mercenary “Killer Bees” that are trained to go after a specific target’s face. Hey, that would make a great Roland Emmerich movie eh?

The last link for you today is a follow-up on a story from long ago. How An Abused Lion, Tiger And Bear Became An Unlikely Family (PHOTOS)

Baloo the bear, Leo the lion, and Shere Khan the tiger (all three known as BLT) were brought together as 2-month-old cubs and have grown up as a family.

The trio was originally owned by a drug dealer who didn’t properly care for them, leading to neglect, poor health and severe injuries.

In 2001, Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary, a nonprofit that cares for animals in need, came to the rescue, and took them to Locust Grove, Georgia, where they were treated for injuries.


“We could have separated them,” Diane Smith, assistant director of the Noah’s Ark Zoo told the Telegraph. “But since they came as a kind of family, the zoo decided to keep them together.”

I wrote about these three buddies when I started blogging for Sky Dancing years ago. Well, it turns out the fence around their little home need some improvements.

…the government passed new federal regulations requiring big cat enclosures to have 16 foot fences put up, which would take effect in October of this year. Baloo, Leo and Shere Khan’s fence was only 8 feet high. If these regulations weren’t met, the three animals would have to split up.

Rebuilding the fence would cost $489,000.

With October slowly approaching, The Sanctuary entered a contest to help raise money. On August 15, CrowdRise, an online fundraising site, teamed up with RYOT, a social news platform to announce a challenge called #STARTARYOT, according to ncronline.com. They offered $75,000 to the nonprofit that raised the most money in five weeks.

On Oct. 10, they had announced that Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary had won. They even received an extra $10,000 for attracting the most unique visitors during the last week of the challenge.

Additionally, they were able to raise $362,269 through crowd-funding. The installment company even agreed to discount the price of the new fence.

And once more, all is right in the BLT-land.


Innit that great! There are lots of more photos at the link…go see the three amigos together. So dang cute!

That is my post for today. Stay warm and happy!

Evening News Reads: The Court Jester

Artwork from one of King Henry VIII book of animal illustrations.

Artwork from one of King Henry VIII book of animal illustrations.


Good Evening

Well, there has been an arrest made involving Liberty Reserve. I don’t know the complete story about this latest money scheme, but it is a big one.

U.S. accuses currency exchange of laundering $6 billion | Reuters

U.S. prosecutors have filed an indictment against the operators of digital currency exchange Liberty Reserve, accusing the Costa Rica-based company of helping criminals around the world launder more than $6 billion in illicit funds linked to everything from child pornography to software for hacking into banks.

The indictment unsealed on Tuesday said Liberty Reserve had more than a million users worldwide, including at least 200,000 in the United States, and virtually all of its business was related to suspected criminal activity.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara called the case perhaps “the largest international money laundering case ever brought by the United States.”

“Liberty Reserve has emerged as one of the principal means by which cyber-criminals around the world distribute, store and launder the proceeds of their illegal activity,” according to the indictment filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

There was another train crash today, what is that saying…they always comes in threes?

15 Freight Train Cars Derail in Maryland, One Person Injured – ABC News

PHOTO: A fire burns at the site of a CSX freight train derailment, May 28, 2013, in White Marsh, Md., where fire officials say the train crashed into a trash truck, causing an explosion that rattled homes at least a half-mile away and collapsed nearby bui

Fifteen freight train cars derailed in an industrial area of Maryland this afternoon causing an explosion, the collapse of several buildings and leaving one person in serious condition, according to authorities.

The CSX train derailed in the White Marsh area around 2 p.m., according to officials.

“Several buildings collapsed at the site of the train derailment,” Baltimore County public safety information specialist Louise Feher told ABCNews.com.

An overturned garbage truck could be seen at the scene and the driver was the injured person, according to the Baltimore County Police and Fire Department. The truck driver was removed from the truck and taken to a hospital. The driver is in serious but stable conditions, authorities said.

The train and truck collided, but officials have not yet provided details on the collision or whether the collision caused the derailment.

Down in Florida today, things are revving up for the George Zimmerman trial which starts in two weeks. I have a few links for you on the latest ruling from Circuit Judge Debra S. Nelson:

George Zimmerman returns to court for pretrial hearing – OrlandoSentinel.com

At the start of George Zimmerman‘s murder trial, which begins in two weeks, expect Trayvon Martin to be portrayed as an innocent teenager, an unarmed 17-year-old who was killed while walking home in the rain.

By the time it concludes, however, jurors may have a more menacing view of him.

In rat-a-tat fashion, Circuit Judge Debra S. Nelson buzzed through a series of pretrial motions on Tuesday, laying the groundwork for what jurors will hear during the second-degree murder trial, expected to be one of the most watched this year.

One of the judge’s clearest rulings: Defense attorneys will not get more time to prepare. Jury selection will begin June 10, when 500 potential jurors are scheduled walk through the courthouse doors.

And, in general, she banned defense attorneys from introducing reputation-damaging evidence about Trayvon — but she left lots of wiggle room.

If defense attorneys can convince her during the course of the trial that it’s relevant, she may allow them to put on evidence showing that at the time of his death, Trayvon had marijuana in his system; that he had discipline problems at school; and that he had a history of fighting.

After Tuesday’s two-hour hearing, defense attorney Mark O’Mara predicted he would be able to show their relevance.

“I’m hopeful I’ll be able to lay a foundation to get it in,” he said.

Specifically, he was referring to text messages found on Trayvon’s cell phone, which indicate, among other things, that the Miami Gardens teenager was involved in competitive fighting.

Mara said he was happy with the judge’s decision. I bet he was…This is from the local newspaper…I wonder what sort of jury pool this will leave the prosecution to pick from.

Also happy with the judge’s rulings was Benjamin Crump, an attorney for Trayvon’s family, who interpreted them as outright bans.

The judge did issue some of those: Jurors will not hear about Trayvon’s prior marijuana use nor will they see a photo of him wearing a set of gold teeth.

Those rulings came because last week, defense attorneys released a glut of evidence, including photos from Trayvon’s cell phone that showed potted marijuana plants, a semiautomatic handgun and text messages revealing discipline problems at school and that his mother had asked him to move out.

Crump on Tuesday described that as defense attorneys “polluting the jury pool.”

“Trayvon Martin did not have a gun,” Crump said. “Trayvon Martin did not get out of his car and chase anyone. Trayvon Martin did not shoot and kill anyone.”

A few more takes on the Trayvon Martin Case:

Judge in Trayvon Martin Case Puts Limits on Defense – NYTimes.com

At a hearing on Tuesday in a Seminole County court, Circuit Judge Debra Steinberg Nelson denied a string of defense motions concerning evidence that was intended to portray Mr. Martin as a troubled teenager with a propensity for fighting and an interest in guns. Prosecutors argued that such evidence had nothing to do with Mr. Martin’s death.

Mr. Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old, was killed in Sanford, Fla., on Feb. 26, 2012, by Mr. Zimmerman, who said he shot him in self-defense.

Mark O’Mara, Mr. Zimmerman’s lawyer, argued that Mr. Martin’s drug use could have made him aggressive and paranoid, which the defense said might have prompted him to attack Mr. Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer who is in his late 20s.

“All of that fits in squarely to what the defense is going to present: that George Zimmerman was put in the position that he had to act in self-defense,” Mr. O’Mara, said. “How could you keep us from arguing that?”

Judge Nelson replied: “The rules of evidence keep you from doing it.”

Commentary: Judge’s Decision in Trayvon Trial Sets the Stage | News | BET

In recent weeks, the actions of Mark O’Mara, the lawyer for Zimmerman, have clearly been geared toward developing a public relations campaign to portray the young Trayvon as negatively as possible. Zimmerman’s lawyer has been working overtime to get into the public consciousness images of Trayvon as a discipline problem at school and elsewhere, as someone prone toward violence and someone who was, quite simply, a menace.

O’Mara is an experienced lawyer who surely knew that none of the information and photos he was peddling would be admissible in his opening arguments in court. However, he engaged in a clever effort to prejudice any potential jurors. It was his calculation that the continued flow of negative information about Trayvon couldn’t help but seep into the minds of the potential jury and help create doubt upon the character of the teenager.

In many ways, the events of the last weeks, coupled with the ruling Tuesday by Circuit Judge Debra S. Nelson, have set the stage for the epic trial that is to begin June 10 in Sanford, Florida, the very city where the teenage Martin was shot and killed by Zimmerman in a dark gated community. Indeed, it signals the unofficial beginning of the trial.

It represents a battle between the two sides of what images of the two central figures in the case will prevail. Zimmerman’s attorney is seeking to make Trayvon Martin out to be some ne’er-do-well thug so sinister that a jury could readily understand why a neighborhood watch volunteer like Zimmerman might reasonably shoot and kill him.

To that end, O’Mara and the defense team have worked feverishly even into the three-day Memorial Day weekend to release photos of Trayvon with gold teeth, of information regarding the teenager’s marijuana use as well as revelations of him fighting or being suspended from his high school.

Well, they have done a good job of getting that negative image of Martin out there. Like I said up top, Mara is doing this for one thing only…speaking of which, look at this next link: Sanford residents discuss impact of George Zimmerman case | Bay News 9

The upcoming George Zimmerman Trial, and everything that has led up to it, has changed the city of Sanford forever.

With the trial just days away, a panel of six Sanford residents from several different backgrounds talked about how they’ve been affected by it.

Go and see what this “panel” of residents had to say.

Oh and one more Trayvon link: Attempts blocked to discredit Trayvon Martin – Salon.com

I can already anticipate the “discussion” this trial will bring about within the blogosphere…oof!

Finally, this little funny story.

Last night while TCM was on my TV, and I was about doing laundry, ironing shirts and other things I caught just a mention of one word in a trailer of a movie that TCM is showing later on this week. Well, when I heard this one word I had to stop all I was doing and rush to the TV to see what film it was so that I could schedule the DVR to record it.  The trailer is below, go ahead and give it a look-see and I bet you will be able to guess which part made my ears perk up take notice!

Y’all have a wonderful evening, this is an open thread.

Good Night, Good Luck: Thoughts on Murrow, Journalism and Responsibility


Good Afternoon

Thursday night I watched the film Good Night and Good Luck, with David Strathairn and George Clooney. I am sure that many of you saw this film when it came out eight years ago. (Yes, that is 8 years…)

I saw it too back then, but I had not seen it in years…and I never saw the short featurette interviews with the real people portrayed in the film.  Joe and Shirley Wershba, Milo Radulovich, Ed Murrow’s son and Fred Friendly’s son discuss Murrow and give some thoughts on the use of television media during the time of the McCarthy hearings. I say television because Ed Murrow was concerned about how viewing the image or picture being broadcast on the screen would change the news story he was telling.

It is fortunate that I found this featurette on the web, it is only 15 minutes but if you can, watch it before you read the rest of my post.

Good Night, And Good Luck – Featurette | SPIKE

Fred Friendly’s widow states that Ed Murrow was, “dubious” about the change from his radio show, “Hear It Now” to the television version “See It Now.”  It was Murrow’s belief that the camera changed the story, that people processed visual information and news differently than they did when just listening to the words being said.  According to Murrow’s son, the camera invaded the news story, especially in those early days of news broadcast, with the lights and large equipment needed to air the programs, it changed the dynamics of the story in a real big way.

It was during this time the news took on an editorial flavor; there aren’t always two sides to a story. McCarthyism was destroying the country. Murrow got this message out to his viewers, knowing what was at stake.  It was personal and it was risky…

The Murrow team had been collecting film on Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy where ever he went…and used it when they got the evidence they needed. Murrow got to the truth of the story by taking McCarthy’s own words and actions and putting them on the air.

Joe Wershba says that Murrow knew the tremendous power of television media…he describes the agonizing question of whether Murrow had the right to use this power against McCarthy. Think about it…Here you have McCarthy, trampling the rights and civil liberties given by the Constitution, and yet McCarthy got all this power because of the very rights he was running over.

This is where Milo Radulovich comes in. Radulovich,

…was an American citizen (born in Detroit) of Serbian descent and former reserve Air Force lieutenant who was accused of being a security risk for maintaining a “close and continuing relationship”[1] with his father and sister, in violation of Air Force regulation 35-62.[2] His case was publicized nationally by Edward Murrow on October 20, 1953, on Murrow’s program, See It Now:

That [Air Force regulation 35-62] is a regulation which states that ‘A man may be regarded as a security risk if he has close and continuing associations with communists or people believed to have communist sympathies.’ Lieutenant Radulovich was asked to resign in August. He declined. A board was called and heard his case. At the end, it was recommended that he be severed from the Air Force. Although it was also stated that there was no question whatever as to the Lieutenant’s loyalty.—Edward R. Murrow[3][4]

Murrow used Radulovich’s personal story to get the point across. And when the Air Force finally reinstated Radulovich, people realized just how powerful television journalism was, and Murrow felt the consequences would be great.

On the featurette, Fred Friendly’s son says that “overall climate of television news” today is frightening…and that his father would be horrified by it.

Well, this horrifying evolution of television news can be primarily shouldered by the corporations…specifically the advertising money these corporations brought in…the airwaves were originally thought of as the people’s airways…that the news had to be given to the public straight. But then the news programs became a money-maker, news stories became entertainment. And with this entertainment, the trust people had in broadcasters like Murrow disappeared.

Friendly’s son says in the interview up top, television was making more money doing its worst…than it did doing its best. (Ain’t that the truth!)

Shirley Wershba states how important it was to get the truth to the stories, they used McCarthy own words in their reports, pointing out the hypocrisies and the craziness of McCarthyism. They researched and were very careful with what they reported on the news. It is not like that today. We have seen too many times the mistakes, blatant ones at that, made by the press…they are careless with the facts.

Responsibility. It is something that both MSM broadcast news and the people watching it must take seriously.  Responsibility is vitally necessary to get the facts down right. George Clooney says at the end of the featurette he hopes the film Good Night and Good Luck will bring the issue of responsibility to the discussion and I agree with him; we need to talk about responsibility.

I guess my point with all this is just how important it is to question things.

Maybe that is why people like Jon Stewart, sites like Wikileaks, and those who blog and pick apart news reports are popular with folks who look for the big picture, the ones who don’t accept the cropped version as the final word. It is our responsibility to dig deeper than what we see, hear and read in news broadcast…and in journalism media today. I think too many people are not doing their homework. They take whatever bits and pieces they get from MSM and leave it at that. It is a shame, because this lack of attention is causing present day extremist the likes of McCarthy to flourish in our government and politics.

It is ironic, the very rights these extremist are out to destroy… are the ones that allow them to carry out their agenda. The difference between now and Murrow’s time comes down to this…us.

We…the public.

Were our standards were higher? Eh, I don’t know, but I do feel however that responsibility is key.

It seems that there are less Murrows and Friendlys out there who feel responsible to the people, and more importantly…it seems to me the public has become full of people who don’t feel responsible to truth. We get fed the news and opinions the corporations and sponsors want us to eat…but few question it.

I wish news outlets weren’t controlled by the money companies pay to advertise on their shows, websites or blogs. It makes me think about Murrow’s anxiety about the power of television. Think about how the internet has changed the news narrative. The internet is just another powerful technology…like television was in its day….only the web is instantaneous. It is distracting and full of things that manipulate our opinions.  But…the internet is also a tool we can use to be responsible to the truth, if we use it responsibly.

I wish people would question, research and look for truth behind every news report being told. I worry that there is no longer a responsible collective voice standing up for what is right or true….unlike the era of McCarthy, we do not have that voice…the sense of duty or obligation to stand up to the money men behind the corporations, politicians and the advertising and lobbying dollars they use to get what they want.  And, they have the ambitious McCarthys of today, to do the job for them.

The batshit crazy. It’s been going on for so many years…and my fear is it will keep on going.

Will it ever stop?

Keeping all this in mind, take a look at a few of these links:

Last week Glenn Greenwald had an article about Bob Woodward…you can read it here: Bob Woodward embodies US political culture in a single outburst

I want to bring this part of Greenwald’s post to your attention…where he mentions an essay written by Lewis Lapham back in 2008:

Bob Woodward fulfills an important function. Just as Tim Russert was long held up as the scary bulldog questioner who proved the existence of an adversarial TV press while the reality was that, as Harper’s [sic] Lewis Lapham famously put it, he maintained “the on-air persona of an attentive and accommodating headwaiter”, the decades-old Woodward lore plays a critical role in maintaining the fiction of a watchdog press corps even though he is one of the most faithful servants of the war machine and the national security and surveillance states. Every once and awhile, the mask falls, and it’s a good thing when it does.

This last paragraph stuck with me, and when I watched Good Night, and Good Luck last night…particularly the featurette, I went back to the Greenwald post and dug a little bit deeper.

Greenwald links to this Gawker post from Aug. 2008, A Careful Evisceration Of Tim Russert. Which I will highlight this statement:

…Lapham, sometimes slammed as insufferable bore, has spun a compelling essay out of his rough initial pronouncement that “1,000 people came to [Russert’s] memorial service because essentially he was a shill for the government.”

This is little nugget from New York Magazine in July of 2008, again in reference to Lapham’s essay: Lewis Lapham Unhappy With Political Journalism, Including Tim Russert

Lewis Lapham isn’t happy with political journalism today. “There was a time in America when the press and the government were on opposite sides of the field,” he said at a premiere party for Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson on June 25. “The press was supposed to speak on behalf of the people. The new tradition is that the press speaks on behalf of the government.” An example? “Tim Russert was a spokesman for power, wealth, and privilege,” Lapham said. “That’s why 1,000 people came to his memorial service. Because essentially he was a shill for the government. It didn’t matter whether it was Democratic or Republican. It was for the status quo.” What about Russert’s rep for catching pols in lies? “That was bullshit,” he said. “Thompson and Russert were two opposite poles.”

Well, here is the actual essay Greenwald is refering to: [Notebook] | Elegy for a Rubber Stamp, by Lewis Lapham | Harper’s Magazine

Please read the entire essay, but I just want to point out a few paragraphs to look out for:

Many people loved Russert, and I don’t doubt that they had reason to do so. I’m sure that most of what was said about him on camera was true: that he was a devoted father, a devout Catholic, and a faithful friend, generous in spirit and a joyful noise unto the Lord. I mean no disrespect to his widow or to his son, but if I have no reason to doubt his virtues as a man, neither do I have any reason to credit the miracle of Russert as a journalist eager to speak truth to power. In his professional as opposed to his personal character, his on-air persona was that of an attentive and accommodating headwaiter, as helpless as Charlie Rose in his infatuation with A-list celebrity, his modus operandi the same one that pointed Rameau’s obliging nephew to the roast pheasant and the coupe aux marrons in eighteenth-century Paris: “Butter people up, good God, butter them up.”

With the butter Russert was a master craftsman, his specialty the mixing of it with just the right drizzle of salt. The weekend videotapes, presumably intended to display Russert at the top of his game, deconstructed the recipe. To an important personage Russert asked one or two faintly impertinent questions, usually about a subject of little or no concern to anybody outside the rope lines around official Washington; sometimes he discovered a contradiction between a recently issued press release and one that was distributed by the same politician some months or years previously. No matter with which spoon Rus sert stirred the butter, the reply was of no interest to him, not worth his notice or further comment. He had sprinkled his trademark salt, his work was done. The important personage was free to choose from a menu offering three forms of response—silence, spin, rancid lie. If silence, Russert moved on to another topic; if spin, he nodded wisely; if rancid lie, he swallowed it.

A couple more:

The attitude doesn’t lead to the digging up of much news that might be of interest to the American people, but it endeared Russert to his patrons and clients. Madeleine Albright, secretary of state in the Clinton Administration, expressed her gratitude to Olbermann: “Tim was amazing because I can tell you that, as a public official, it was really, first of all, a treat to get on the show.” Two days later, over at NBC, Mary Matalin (former CBS and CNN talk-show host, former counselor to Vice President Dick Cheney) seconded the motion, attributing Russert’s profound knowledge of national politics to his superb qualities as a rubber stamp. “He respected politicians,” Matalin said. “He knew that they got blamed for everything, got credit for nothing. He knew how much they meant. He never treated them with the cynicism that attends some of these interviews. So they had a place to be loved.” Remembering Russert on ABC, Sam Donaldson explained why too much salt in the butter makes it harder to spread: “He [Russert] understood as well as anyone, maybe better than almost anyone, that the reason political reporters are there is not to speak truth to power . . . but to make those who say we have the truth—politicians—explain it.”

Speaking truth to power doesn’t make successful Sunday-morning television, leads to “jealousy, upsets, persecution,” doesn’t draw a salary of $5 million a year. The notion that journalists were once in the habit of doing so we borrow from the medium of print, from writers in the tradition of Mark Twain, Upton Sinclair,

H. L. Mencken, I. F. Stone, Hunter Thompson, and Walter Karp, who assumed that what was once known as “the press” received its accreditation as a fourth estate on the theory that it represented the interests of the citizenry as opposed to those of the government. Long ago in the days before journalists became celebrities, their enterprise was reviled and poorly paid, and it was understood by working newspapermen that the presence of more than two people at their funeral could be taken as a sign that they had disgraced the profession.

On television the voices of dissent can’t be counted upon to match the studio drapes or serve as tasteful lead-ins to the advertisements for Pantene Pro-V and the U.S. Marine Corps. What we now know as the “news media” serve at the pleasure of the corporate sponsor, their purpose not to tell truth to the powerful but to transmit lies to the powerless. Like Russert, who served his apprenticeship as an aide-de-camp to the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, most of the prominent figures in the Washington press corps (among them George Stephanopoulos, Bob Woodward, and Karl Rove) began their careers as bagmen in the employ of a dissembling politician or a corrupt legislature. Regarding themselves as de facto members of government, enabling and codependent, their point of view is that of the country’s landlords, their practice equivalent to what is known among Wall Street stock-market touts as “securitizing the junk.” When requesting explanations from secretaries of defense or congressional committee chairmen, they do so with the understanding that any explanation will do. Explain to us, my captain, why the United States must go to war in Iraq, and we will relay the message to the American people in words of one or two syllables. Instruct us, Mr. Chairman, in the reasons why K-Street lobbyists produce the paper that Congress passes into law, and we will show that the reasons are healthy, wealthy, and wise. Do not be frightened by our pretending to be suspicious or scornful. Together with the television camera that sees but doesn’t think, we’re here to watch, to fall in with your whims and approve your injustices. Give us this day our daily bread, and we will hide your vices in the rosebushes of salacious gossip and clothe your crimes in the aura of inspirational anecdote.

Indeed, it all comes down to the idea of truth in journalism according to the corporate sponsors…batshit crazy is now becoming symbolic of the myth that there is a “free press” in this country….when the obvious conclusion seems to me centered on one thing…the lack of responsibility from both the media journalist…and their viewing and reading public.

Batshit crazy…Will it ever stop?

In all honesty, the answer to my question above is simple.

No, it will never stop as long as we, the people, fail to hold our “free press” accountable to the responsibility of journalism.

It’s a very sorry sad situation…and it’s a damn shame.