Clinton and Sanders have their first townhall in New Hampshire without O’Malley right now on CNN. This event comes fresh on heels the historic Clinton win of the Iowa Caucuses. The margin was small, but a win is a win is a win. Sanders is expected to win New Hampshire because of the neighbor effect. They always vote for fellow New Englanders and Sanders is no stranger. CNN has a list of five things to watch. I found this one pretty interesting.
In a similar CNN town hall in Iowa, Sanders absolutely unloaded on Clinton, hammering her as a newcomer to the progressive movement on income inequality, trade, energy and other issues.
Since then, the man who talks about never running a negative ad in his life has approved one that ripped into Goldman Sachs for paying politicians speaking fees — a crystal-clear shot at Clinton who has received that money.
He has complained about the Democratic establishment, complaining about the Democratic National Committee’s decision to hold debates often on weekends and against playoff football games and other high-profile events.
Is Sanders ready to really rip into Clinton?
His winks and nods toward the liberal base are impossible to miss.
On Tuesday in Keene, New Hampshire, Sanders launched into an attack on the Walmart-owning Walton family, saying that “the major welfare abuser in America is the wealthiest family in America.”
No wonder: Walmart is headquartered in Arkansas. Clinton once served on its board. And Alice Walton gave Clinton’s Democratic National Committee Victory Fund $353,000 in December — a contribution just made public in filings Sunday.
Sanders has the podium first. You can watch it live on CNN or here at Raw Story.
This event and the MSNBC debate scheduled for tomorrow night were thrown together rather hastily. Here’s variety’s take on the first part of the Sanders questions.
Ever since they left Iowa, Clinton and Sanders have gotten more pointed, particularly on Twitter, over who can better carry out a set of progressive priorities. Clinton has called herself a “progressive who gets things done,” while Sanders posted a series of tweets suggesting she has shifted her positions on such things as the Keystone pipeline and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, as well as on the question of whether she is a centrist or a liberal.
“You can be a moderate. You can be a progressive. But you cannot be a moderate and a progressive,” Sanders tweeted on Wednesday.
9:10 pm ET: Sanders slams expectations. Bernie Sanders criticized the media for focusing so much on expectations in New Hampshire, where he leads some polls by a significant margin. “That is the media game. That is what the media talks about. Who cares?” he says. Clinton’s campaign has downplayed the state, in hopes of delivering a better-then-expected result. But Sanders, too, cautions that he expects the results to be “close.”
9:15 p.m. ET: How do you pay for it? In the last debate, Clinton pointedly said that she would not raise taxes on the middle class. Sanders has said there will be tax hikes. Sanders said that his proposal for a “medicare for all,” single-payer health care program would raise taxes on those in the “middle of the economy” by about $500 annually. But he tells a questioner that the switch to single payer will reduce medical costs by $5,000.
9:23 p.m. ET: On faith. Cooper asks Sanders about something the Vermont senator rarely talks about on the stump: His faith. “Everybody practices religion in a different way,” says Sanders, who is Jewish. “I would not be running for president of the United States if I did not have very strong religious and spiritual feelings.” He added that on the stump rarely gets that personal, but he did say he worried about a society “where some people say, ‘I don’t care,’” when spirituality to him is a recognition that “we are in this together.”
So, here we go again! Join us!!!
Looks like another big snowstorm is headed my way this afternoon. Blizzard warning south of Boston, winter storm warning for most areas.
Overnight the watches were converted to warnings meaning the likelihood of blizzard conditions and snow exceeding 6 inches has increased. The morning commute will be dry and you will see some dim sunshine. The snow begins this afternoon along the coast and the evening commute will be impacted. The storm is most intense overnight and ends during the morning from west to east on Wednesday….There is a blizzard warning up for Cape Cod, coastal Massachusetts south of Boston, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.
At least I’m not in the blizzard zone for the moment. This appears to be a really big storm. I saw on Twitter this morning that there were whiteout conditions in St. Louis. You can watch a video update the Weather Channel page.
NBC News reports: Winter storm set to ‘go bananas’ across Northeast.
With memories of the dreaded polar vortex still fresh, winter deals another blow Tuesday, slamming the Northeast with a blast of cold air and up to a foot of snow.
“They are going to have quite a snowstorm,” said Kevin Roth, a lead meteorologist with theWeather Channel. “By this evening, all four cities from Philadelphia to Boston could face a pretty bad commute home. We’re expecting a good six to 10 inches. It will be snowing pretty hard.”
“Every once in while these little winter storms go bananas and we think this might be the one,” he added.
Yikes! What the heck does that mean? The story doesn’t explain. But meteorologists are begging us not to call it a “polar vortex.”
Temperatures are set to drop again in the Midwest and Northeast starting Sunday, a forecast that already is prompting the return of the phrase “polar vortex” — widely used to describe the blast of cold air that chilled the U.S. earlier this month. But while the Upper Midwest, Great Lakes and the interior Northeast will experience below-average temperatures in the coming week, don’t call it a “polar vortex,” meteorologists say.
The “polar vortex” is a real weather phenomenon, just not one that actually visits the United States, they say. It’s actually a circular weather pattern that has always been stationed above the Arctic, explains weather.com.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the swirling high-altitude system never moves into the U.S., though parts of it can “break off” and push cold air south.
The cold experienced in early January was actually a result of the polar vortex weakening, becoming warmer and therefore releasing its powerful chill beyond its normal reach through the northern climes, NOAA says.
Weather experts at NOAA said the intense cold air the U.S. has experienced is in fact a result of a warming world and increasing climate variability. While researchers cannot yet determine whether the fluctuations are a result of natural patterns or environmental effects, meteorologists can predict that parts of the U.S. will see freezing weather again in the coming days as a result of a polar vortex breakdown.
Anyway, I’m going to have to rush around this morning. I have a package to mail, and I need to get a couple of things at the grocery store. I do have some interesting reads for you today–some of them are pretty long, but well worth reading.
Yesterday, via Tom Watson at Forbes, I came across an essay by long-time feminist blogger Amanda Hess that Watson says has been “widely discussed” for the past week or so. Somehow I missed it. Hess argues that on-line sexual harassment of women will be “the next civil rights issue.” In the essay, she writes about the frequent on-line attacks she and other female writers have experienced (warning: explicit and violent language). Here are the first few paragraphs.
I was 12 hours into a summer vacation in Palm Springs when my phone hummed to life, buzzing twice next to me in the dark of my hotel room. I squinted at the screen. It was 5:30 a.m., and a friend was texting me from the opposite coast. “Amanda, this twitter account. Freaking out over here,” she wrote. “There is a twitter account that seems to have been set up for the purpose of making death threats to you.”
I dragged myself out of bed and opened my laptop. A few hours earlier, someone going by the username “headlessfemalepig” had sent me seven tweets. “I see you are physically not very attractive. Figured,” the first said. Then: “You suck a lot of drunk and drug fucked guys cocks.” As a female journalist who writes about sex (among other things), none of this feedback was particularly out of the ordinary. But this guy took it to another level: “I am 36 years old, I did 12 years for ‘manslaughter’, I killed a woman, like you, who decided to make fun of guys cocks.” And then: “Happy to say we live in the same state. Im looking you up, and when I find you, im going to rape you and remove your head.” There was more, but the final tweet summed it up: “You are going to die and I am the one who is going to kill you. I promise you this.”
My fingers paused over the keyboard. I felt disoriented and terrified. Then embarrassed for being scared, and, finally, pissed. On the one hand, it seemed unlikely that I’d soon be defiled and decapitated at the hands of a serial rapist-murderer. On the other hand, headlessfemalepig was clearly a deranged individual with a bizarre fixation on me. I picked up my phone and dialed 911.
Read the rest at the link. A number of women have written about this issue, and particularly about the lack of protection for women who are harassed on-line from law enforcement–even though the threats sometimes lead to real-life actions. A couple more recent examples:
Skepchick wrote in October about being harassed for her participation in the on-line atheist community, Why I Don’t Just Go to the Cops.
Amy Wallace wrote about her experiences in a NYT op-ed over the weekend: Life as a Female Journalist: Hot or Not?
Along similar lines, I came across this 2010 article in The Boston Globe that provides some insight into why some people spend so much time and energy writing angry comments on line: Inside the mind of the anonymous online poster. The author got an interview with a frequent commenter to The Boston Globe website. He also discusses the problems newspapers face in dealing with angry and trolling comments from anonymous people. Here’s an excerpt:
On Monday, May 17, at 2 p.m., a breaking news article headlined “Obama’s aunt given OK to stay in United States” hits the home page of Boston.com. In a matter of seconds, the first anonymous online comment appears. A reader with the handle of Peregrinite writes, “of course she can . . . can someone appeal.”
Certain topics never fail to generate a flood of impassioned reactions online: immigration, President Obama, federal taxes, “birthers,” and race. This story about Obama’s Kenyan aunt, who had been exposed as an illegal immigrant living in public housing in Boston and who was now seeking asylum, manages to pull strands from all five of those contentious subjects.
In the next few minutes, several equally innocuous posts follow, including a rare comment in favor of the judge’s decision. Then the name-calling begins. At 2:03 p.m., a commenter with the pseudonym of Craptulous calls the aunt, Zeituni Onyango, a “foreign free-loader.” Seconds later comes the lament from Redzone 300: “Just another reason to hate are [sic] corrupt government.”
News websites from across the country struggle to maintain civility in their online comments forums. But given their anonymous nature and anything-goes ethos, these forums can sometimes feel as ungovernable as the tribal lands of Pakistan.
Read much more at the link.
Yesterday I also happened upon a fascinating article by national security and tech journalist Dan Verton. In the piece, Verton tries to come up with a psychological profile of NSA leaker Edward snowden: What does the history of insider espionage say about Edward Snowden?
He wasn’t the first and will certainly not be the last member of the U.S. intelligence community to betray the trust of his nation. But what do we really know about Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked thousands of documents detailing NSA’s domestic and global eavesdropping programs?
The truth is we know very little about Snowden beyond what the media outlets that have a vested interest in protecting him choose to report. But when viewed through the prism of the last 25 years of insider espionage, the Edward Snowden we do know seems to fit the typical profile of the trusted insider struggling to overcome personal and professional shortcomings, and suffering from a warped sense of moral superiority.
More than a decade worth of studies into the psychological profiles of malicious insiders have revealed several common characteristics that make information technology professionals — particularly system administrators, like Edward Snowden — an “at risk” population for malicious insider activity.
Verton discusses Snowden’s history in the light of a study of IT administrators who eventually sabotaged their employers in some way: Inside the Mind of the Insider, by Eric D. Shaw, Jerrold M. Post, and Keven G. Ruby. These are both fairly long pieces, but if you have any interest in the ongoing Snowden saga, they are must reads! A bit more from Verton:
Born in 1983, Snowden grew up in North Carolina and Maryland. His father was a Coast Guard officer and his mother worked as a court administrator. They divorced in 2001, and Snowden went to live with his mother. His parents claim Snowden was ill as a teenager and failed to graduate high school. He eventually studied at a local community college to obtain a G.E.D.
Snowden was 17 when al-Qaida launched its attacks against the United States on Sept. 11, 2001. At that time, he adopted an online persona he called “The One True Hooha” at the website Ars Technica, where he participated in chat forums for gamers and hackers. His studies at a local community college would once again fall short of a degree.
In 2003, Snowden decided to join the Army Reserve, and requested a chance to undergo evaluation training for Special Forces to, in his words, “fight to help free people from oppression.”
Yet again, the young Snowden would fall short. He was dropped from the program and discharged from the Army four months later. Snowden claims to have broken both of his legs during training, but to date has provided no evidence. The Army has confirmed his service, but would not release his service record summary, known as a DD-214.
“He comes from a family that has a high need for achievement, but his experience is one disaster after another,” Stock said.
Lots more educated speculation on Snowden’s motives at the link.
In other news . . .
Here’s a spy story I hadn’t heard about in the mainstream media. Report: Israel Passes U.S. Military Technology to China.
Secret U.S. missile and electro-optics technology was transferred to China recently by Israel, prompting anger from the U.S. and causing a senior Israeli defense official to resign.
The head of defense exports for the Israeli Defense Ministry resigned after a U.S. investigation concluded that technology, including a miniature refrigeration system manufactured by Ricor and used for missiles and in electro-optic equipment, was sent to China, according to the Israeli newspaper Maariv.
Another Israeli news site, Aretz Sheva, reports the U.S. is concerned the technology could ultimately find its way to Iran, which last year sought to buy military equipment from China for its nuclear program.
That sounds scarier than the stuff Glenn Greenwald has been dribbling out.
From The New Statesman, here’s an exhibit I’d love to see if only I were in London: A history of psychology, warts and mysteries and all.
It looks more like an art installation than the remains of a 400-year-old experiment: a life-size image of a man rendered in dark, angry scrawls on a wooden panel. It is, in fact, a human nervous system, painstakingly removed from a corpse by Italian medical students and then varnished on to the dissecting table. Scientists in the 17th century believed that human beings were animated by the “animal spirit” that flowed from the brain down the nerves.
The display is part of the “Mind Maps” exhibition at the Science Museum in London, which explores how people have tried to gain a better understanding of their minds.
That sounds amazing.
Finally, a funny story from CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360: CNN reporter high during Anderson Cooper marijuana TV segment.
Poor Randi Kaye. The CNN reporter was sent to Denver for a week as part of the network’s “Gone to Pot” series, and in one of her later segments investigated dispensary tours that are being compared to Napa Valley wine tastings.
Kaye followed around a 72-year-old woman named Barbara Harvey, who is a huge fan of marijuana, and joined Harvey on a day-long dispensary tour where she spent much of her time in a limo being surrounded by people smoking marijuana with the windows rolled up. The CNN journalist tells Anderson Cooper she accidentally got a contact high after being stuck in a limo with Harvey for so long, though Cooper believes this is her “career highlight.”
At around the 4:30 mark in the above video, viewers can see Kaye in all her stoned glory. Kaye is all giggles and run-on sentences when talking about the cannabis business post-pot legalization in Colorado.
So . . . what are your recommended reads for today? Please post your links on any topic in the comment thread.
I don’t usually follow media gossip, but I’ve been seeing a lot of bashing of Matt Lauer out of the corner of my eye lately; so this is kind of interesting. It’s all over Twitter that NBC has offered Anderson Cooper Matt Lauer’s job on the Today Snow, and supposedly Lauer is OK with it. He’s been somewhat of a media punching bag since he drove Ann Curry off the Today Show.
Sources connected with NBC tell TMZ … network honchos approached Anderson Cooper about the possibility of replacing Matt Lauer on the “Today” show at some point … not immediately but at some point.
There is a story on Deadline.com that Matt made a call to Anderson to express his disapproval … TMZ has confirmed that is inaccurate and that call never happened.
In fact, sources connected with the network and Lauer tell TMZ that Lauer is actually on board with the idea of Anderson replacing him … and he actually planned to have a meeting with Anderson to sit down and discuss it.
Matt Lauer has been the subject of much scrutiny recently as reports of what really transpired in the Ann Curry ousting come to light and ratings continue to decline.
And it appears the brass at NBC are now looking to possibly replace Lauer.
Deadline’s Nellie Andreeva reports exclusively:
I hear NBC toppers recently reached out to CNN’s Anderson Cooper to replace Lauer on the show before the end of the year. After their initial approach to Cooper, I hear NBC reached out to Lauer to get his blessing about the changeover. But I heard they got pushback from the Today veteran, who contacted Cooper to express his disapproval. I also hear that call caught Cooper by surprise, as he had assumed Lauer had been brought on board before NBC began making overtures. Cooper has been one of the leading faces at CNN, though I hear his contract has an out, and he previously was able to do his syndicated daytime talk show in addition to his CNN program.
If (like me) you didn’t follow the recent gossip closely, Here’s some more detail on Lauer’s treatment of Ann Curry in a New York Magazine cover story. And here’s the gist, in case you don’t want to wade through the whole thing:
In his new cover story for New York magazine, Joe Hagan offers the most in-depth look at the Today show ratings disaster that has created Matt Lauer’s weeks-long attempt at image rehabilitation, and it’s now clear that the defining moment that brought the morning show crashing down to Earth — the exit of Ann Curry — was something of a cross between the fourth circle of Hell and running with the Heathers in high school: Curry got pranked, she got her clothes made fun of, she was prevented from reaching out to Robin Roberts, and her legacy lives on as a punching bag for NBC to defend the man who couldn’t share camera time with her anymore.
For the past several weeks, we’ve seen Lauer, Camp Lauer, and NBC executives trip over themselves trying to figure out how to talk to the media and spin the official history of Curry’s demise as a refresh for Today and especially Lauer. Talk to the Daily Beast‘s Howard Kurtz, and you can come away with a glossy, press release masquerading as an “exclusive.” Don’t talk to The New York Times‘s Brian Stelter, or you’ll find out Lauer is basically Voldemort in the halls of NBC.
Which brings us to New York‘s Hagan, who goes more than 6,500 words deep, with the official blessing of NBC… but also a blessed bit of honest analysis and reporting. On the surface, you can see Lauer and executives stick to the tracings of the NBC script so far — that Curry’s exit wasn’t his fault, that NBC executives made the decision, that Lauer was just caught in the crossfire. But Hagan’s piece digs into the deeper reality that Lauer in some respects failed at the basics of his job, and that those failures slid past executives who were so quick to lower the axe on Curry.
Read the highlights at the Business Insider link above.
The big question is who will replace Anderson Cooper? Who would want to work for CNN?
Please don’t feel you have to discuss this story–talk about anything you want. I just thought we needed a fresh thread.
I am not up for much lately, so here goes a quick news round-up. Surprises out of swamp, as Obama picks a girl to head the Secret Service…Secret Service Gets First Female Director
President Obama on Tuesday appointed Julia A. Pierson, a longtime Secret Service agent, as the first woman to head the agency best known for protecting the president, vice president and their families.
Ms. Pierson, the chief of staff to Mark J. Sullivan, who retired as director last month, will take over at a time when the Secret Service is still recovering from a prostitution scandal last year that held it up to public ridicule, generated Congressional hearings and cost a number of agents their jobs.
The appointment represented a milestone for law enforcement, putting a woman at the top of an agency with a storied past and a Hollywood-fueled image of Clint Eastwood-style men with sunglasses and earpieces stoically guarding the commander in chief at home and abroad. Mr. Obama has also installed women as directors of the Marshals Service and Drug Enforcement Administration, but the Secret Service has a unique visibility.
Of course Pierson is highly qualified.
With 30 years of experience in the Secret Service, Ms. Pierson, 53, boasts a résumé much like those of her predecessors, including a stint on the first President George Bush’s protective detail. But the timing of her selection inevitably means that Washington will be watching closely to see how or if she changes a male-driven culture that came under harsh scrutiny when agents were caught employing prostitutes in Colombia before Mr. Obama arrived for a visit.
“During the Colombia prostitution scandal, the Secret Service lost the trust of many Americans and failed to live up to the high expectations placed on it,” Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa. “Ms. Pierson has a lot of work ahead of her to create a culture that respects the important job the agency is tasked with. I hope she succeeds in restoring lost credibility in the Secret Service.”
In a statement, Mr. Obama said Ms. Pierson “exemplified the spirit and dedication” of the agency but made no mention of the scandal.
Now we wait for the Senate to confirm…
This next article is on sleep, or should I say little bit of sleep. Can you train yourself to get by on less sleep?
Margaret Thatcher did it. So did Salvador Dali. They survived the day with only a few hours of sleep. The question is whether you can force yourself to do the same.
We waste a third of our lives sleeping – or that’s how some people see it. When there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day, you yearn to be like the former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who was said to get by on just four hours sleep a night, or the artist Salvador Dali who wasted as little time as possible slumbering.
There is a quite a range in the number of hours we like to sleep. As Jim Horne writes in Sleepfaring, 80% of us manage between six and nine hours a night; the other 20% sleep more or less than this. But how easy is it to change your regular schedule? If you force yourself to get out of bed a couple of hours early every day will your body eventually become accustomed to it? Sadly not.
There is plenty of evidence that a lack of sleep has an adverse effect. We do not simply adjust to it – in the short-term it reduces our concentration, and if it’s extreme it makes us confused and distressed, and turns us into such poor drivers that it’s the equivalent of being drunk. The long-term effects are even more worrying. Repeatedly getting less sleep than you need over the course of decades is associated with an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.
But what about those people who do happily appear to manage on fewer hours than the rest of us? Why does it not seem to make them ill?
All that article makes me think of that episode of Seinfeld, where Kramer only sleeps 20 minutes every 3 hours…
“My brain is mossy Jerry, mossy…”
I’ve got two more links for you, hellish ideas and torturous settlements.
The Worst Idea In The History Of Cable News: An Anderson Cooper-Kathy Griffin Series on CNN | Mediaite- Oh yeah, this is a bad combination…I think I would rather do my nails in a Cuisinart than watch those too together again…ugh. Their partnership while covering the New York New Years Eve celebration was horrifying. I am not the only one who thinks this is a bad idea…from Joe Concha:
So it’s safe to say that I remember where I was ten minutes ago at 8:10 PM EST when I heard the apocalyptic (unconfirmed) report that CNN, C-N-N, actually filmed a pilot today starring Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin at Time Warner Studios in New York, according to Deadline.com.
My reaction caused paint chips to fall off my ceiling:
It’s one thing to put the Cooper and Griffin together on New Year’s Eve: Most folks watching that night are already overserved, likely older (See: Not out, but struggling to stay awake until midnight and watching a cable news network’s coverage of the ball dropping in Times Square in the process). Some tune to CNN because somewhere in the back of their brain, they recall reading about Griffin doing something provocative, something wild in the past, like dropping a completely-planned F-bomb or performing an oral rendition on her openly gay co-host (not that there’s anything wrong with that). So they tune in to witness the now-contrived bit, perhaps for no other reason but lack of a better idea.
Older? I don’t know about that, viewers were either drunk or strung out tired, probably from too little sleep due to following the whacked out theory Kramer had in that video up top.
I don’t know if a show with Cooper and Griffin falls under the definition of torture…but the ride this guy took at Disneyland sure as hell sounds like torture to me…It’s A Small World ride breaks down, forces disabled man to listen to that song for 30 minutes
For one man at Disneyland, it was less a world of laughter than world of tears.
Disneyland has paid disabled man Jose Martinez $8,000. Their crime? Not evacuating him from It’s A Small World after the ride broke down in 2009, leaving him listening to that song for half an hour.
The song couldn’t be shut off. Most adults are ready to strangle someone after going through the ride at regular speed. Like the song says, “It’s a world of hopes, it’s a world of fears,” and this sounds like it belongs on most of our top fear lists.
Martinez’s lawyer, David Geffen (no relation?), says that Martinez was the only passenger not evacuated when the ride broke down in 2009, according to the Associated Press. Geffen also says that Disneyland staff failed to call the fire department to help free Martinez.
Martinez uses a wheelchair, as well as suffering from panic attacks and high blood pressure, Geffen says, according to the AP. He also had to use the restroom for much of the time — all while being surrounded by water. Those oceans must have started to seem pretty wide.
Martinez wasn’t medically stabilized for three hours, Geffen said, according to the AP. Geffen said that half of the award was for pain and suffering, while the other half is for violating disability laws.
Ooof, that makes me think of a couple of other funny video clips…
This version of It’s a Duff World from the Simpsons:
In the episode entitled “Selma’s Choice“, Bart and Lisa Simpson travel with their aunt Selma to Duff Gardens, a parody of the Busch Gardens amusement park, but also containing elements of Disneyland. In the gift shop, Bart spots “beer goggles“, spectacles that mimic what drunks see: they make Aunt Selma appear young, feminine, and beautiful to Bart – and also, somehow, alter her voice. Later, they see the mascots of Duff Beer, the Seven Duffs.
In the same episode, there is also a direct parody of the “It’s a Small World” attraction at Disney parks. In the cartoon, the boats float on a brown liquid as animatronic children sing “Duff beer for me, Duff beer for you, I’ll have a Duff, You have one, too,” over and over again. Lisa drinks the liquid in the ride on a dare from Bart, and she freaks out from its hallucinogenic properties.
Here is a bit clip of the ride…Duff beer world:
And then this episode from Family Guy: The Courtship of Stewie’s Father, where Peter takes Stewie…
…to Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. Excited at the prospect of visiting Disney World, Stewie forgives Peter, although pretending to be annoyed. When the pair arrive, Peter inadvertently loses Stewie, who is captured by Disney World employees and forced to sing at the Tiny World ride, complying to do so after learning that the alternative is to be in a Christmas movie with Tim Allen.
And lastly, this episode of South Park, Big Gay Al’s Big Gay Boat Ride.
You can see the full episode here, Big Gay Al’s Big Gay Boat Ride (Season 1, Episode 4) – Full Episode Player – South Park Studios, or you can watch the song clip here: Big Gay Boat Ride – Video Clips – South Park Studios
Y’all enjoy your day, and please have a Duff Beer for me…will ya?
M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening
Just saw this headline from Raw Story… “Mass bird and fish deaths becoming worldwide phenomenon.”
From the link…
The mysterious deaths of thousands of birds and fish is no longer confined to the US.
About 50 to 100 dead birds were discovered on a highway in central Sweden Tuesday. Scientists don’t know what killed the jackdaws but one veterinarian suspects they may have been frightened by fireworks and then run over by a car.
The Brazillian site Paraná-Online noted that 100 tons of fish have turned up dead off the coast of Paraná since last Thursday.
“We will wait to see what happened, but speculations suggest that fish may have died due to an environmental imbalance, dropping a fishing boat or leakage of chemicals,” Captain Edson Oliveira Avila, regional coordinator of Civil Defense in the Paraná region, told Paraná-Online.
Then I saw this in the comments at the Raw Story link — from the Baltimore Sun — “Frigid water blamed for 2 million dead fish in Chesapeake Bay“:
An estimated 2 million fish have been reported dead from the Bay Bridge south to Tangier Sound, according to the Maryland Department of the Environment, which investigates fish kills. The dead fish are primarily adult spot, with some juvenile croakers.
This of course is all on the heels of the mass bird deaths in AR and LA, as the Christian Science Monitor sums up:
Thousands of red-winged blackbirds, cowbirds, starlings, and grackles dead in Arkansas. Five hundred more in Louisiana. Fifty jackdaws fall on a street in Stockholm. And around the world, millions of fish floating belly-up.
The CS Monitor article goes on to say:
It’s the stuff of apocalyptic novels. Scientists have not yet ruled out pollution or chemical toxins as the cause of nearly a dozen mass animal die-offs, from Arkansas to Brazil, in the last week. But as officials investigate, both the mundane and the intriguing are emerging as potential causes.
Because birds are considered indicator species that reflect the health of the surrounding environment, the spate of mass deaths has unsettled many Americans.
Over in Sweden, via thelocal.se — “Swedish birds ‘scared to death’: veterinarian“:
Shortly before midnight on Tuesday, residents found 50 to 100 jackdaws on a street in Falköping southeast of Skövde. The incident echoed a number of unexplained incidents earlier this week across the southern US.
County veterinarian Robert ter Horst believes that the birds may have been literally scared to death by fireworks set off on Tuesday night.
“We have received information from local residents last night. Our main theory is that the birds were scared away because of the fireworks and landed on the road, but couldn’t fly away from the stress and were hit by a car,” he explained to The Local on Wednesday.
I skimmed through Huffpo’s reporting on the bird and fish deaths real quick and looks like New Zealand is joining the unfortunate club.
From the NZ Herald — “Hundreds of snapper dead on beaches“:
Fisheries officials are investigating the death of hundreds of snapper washed up on Coromandel Peninsula beaches.
Beachgoers at Little Bay and Waikawau Bay found the fish – many with their eyes missing – dead on the sand yesterday.
A Department of Conservation official told Mr Hughes fish in the Coromandel area were starving because of weather conditions.
I don’t want to jump to any rash conclusions or bypass the work of experts to tease out what’s really going on here using the scientific method, but I have to say that thus far all these “official” attempts to explain what happened are sounding even hokier than the apocalyptic and government conspiracy scenarios.
I glanced over at the Scientific American to see if by chance there was anything there yet that could shed some light on what in the world is happening. I didn’t find anything on the current spate of deaths, but I found this entry on SciAm’s Extinction Countdown blog, from a week ago:
Frigid waters off the coast of Florida have killed a record number of endangered manatees this year, according to state wildlife officials. The manatee—full name, the West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus)—has been protected by the Endangered Species Act since 1974.