Wednesday Reads: Have a pizza and a smile…or Ex Libris and the Sea.

08d39c20af4c7b7c1da9eb22e1c5047eGood Morning

This should be interesting, I am sitting here trying to write today’s post with a pounding sinus headache, while North by Northwest is on the telly.

68cb62a8eb3ed84d979a189400a62961If my brain is not fully functional because of the sinus…my fingers and my thoughts may be will be forced to wander off into the film as Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint travel by train across the country towards the monument carve out on the mountain, you know the one…with those big ugly men’s faces on it.

The thread will feature plenty of ex libris artwork from various time periods and artist and countries as found on Pinterest…so enjoy them.

eb2ea87b8f543e0636a920e0e41fe361I will start with this first link, a story that I found from a couple of weeks ago, perhaps you have seen it already: Barbara Bowman Speaks About Bill Cosby Sexual Abuse Allegations

Last week, Newsweek interviewed Tamara Green, one of 13 women who accused Bill Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting them in a civil lawsuit brought by Andrea Constand in 2004, and settled under undisclosed terms in 2006. Now, a second woman is speaking out: Barbara Bowman, a 46-year-old artist who says Cosby took her under his wing in the late ‘80s, when she was a teenager — and repeatedly emotionally and physically abused her.

6ae1625fa92c719cd6f424aaeb95e6e9Both Bowman and Green joined the 2004 lawsuit as witnesses after hearing about it on television; neither had anything to gain financially, as the statute of limitations had expired for both of them.

Read the interview at the link, it is something else…then take a few minutes to peek at the comments. Oh they are all the usual shits you would expect, but I thought it was a very believable story.

Next up, some fun…I must tell you, a lot of today’s links are not “trending” news items.  Y’all remember that article about how you say the word youse, you, you all, you guys and what was the other one?  What We Mean When We Say Hello – Deborah Fallows – The Atlantic

The curious geography of American greetings

Last week I wrote about conversation starters that follow “Hello” and “How do you do.” Many dozens of you have 52daba947cfd5c658de9b432ae155f73written in and generously included your comments and interpretations of what you think people actually mean when they say something like “Where do you live?” or “Where are you from?”

Here is what you’ve said so far:

Check it out, I would love to see what this article’s author would think of places like Tampa, that has an influx of different people…from all over.

With all the cold weather, it can suck ass…but look at what beautiful things it can bring: Ice caves in northern Wisconsin are dazzling winter phenomena

Mother Nature has become a  Chihuly-like sculptress in sea caves along Lake Superior in northern Wisconsin. Icicles hang by the thousands in caves at  Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. In warmer weather, the caves would be accessible only by water, but during this consistently cold winter, they are accessible by frozen lakeshore.
Explorers drawn to ice show
( Brian Peterson / Associated Press / February 2, 2014 )

Mother Nature has become a Chihuly-like sculptress in sea caves along Lake Superior in northern Wisconsin. Icicles hang by the thousands in caves at Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. In warmer weather, the caves would be accessible only by water, but during this consistently cold winter, they are accessible by frozen lakeshore.

Lots more pictures at the link.

398dbc133effee7eb5c06975bd0dfc43More “neat” stuff to see: Geologists Glimpse a Heaven Below –

Imagine the frustration faced for so many years by Eric W. Jordan and his colleagues. They could take a pretty good guess at what lay hundreds of feet beneath the macadam-sealed surface of New York City’s streets. They just had no way of knowing for sure.

But the last 10 years or so have been a boon to Mr. Jordan and his fellow geologists; mammoth subterranean excavations for the city’s Third Water Tunnel, the Second Avenue Subway and the Long Island Rail Road’s East Side Access Project have enabled them to see for themselves the rock formations and faults that they had only been able to imagine, undergirding Manhattan.

There is this amazing picture at that link, a massive space within one of the underground tunnels…shitfire! It does not look real but it is…

984408fec6f0fe9deece5270899f2f3aI’ve got another thing for you that is real, but seems surreal. Like a film that should have been directed by David Lynch, Inside the mind of a mass murderer, in drag – Amanpour – Blogs

How do we know what is in the mind of a mass murderer? How about getting them to re-enact those crimes?

That is exactly what documentary filmmaker Joshua Oppenheimer did with several men who participated in mass killings in Indonesia decades ago.

d79ed463194db68bb51a2ff235427b76“It’s tempting to look at them through the lens of sort of fiction storytelling, where you have good guys and bad guys, good guys and then cackling villains,” Oppenheimer told CNN’s Hala Gorani, sitting in for Christiane Amanpour, on Monday.

“When you’re a non-fiction filmmaker, you have to look at the real people you meet.”

Just look at this image from the movie:

To his surprise and horror, they were enthusiastic. They agreed to make a movie about how they killed and allowed him to film the process.

The result is a mind-bending movie within a documentary, by turns emotionally revolting, beautiful, and bizarre – one of the mass killers appears, as often as not, in drag. It is rarely entirely clear what is ‘acting’ and what is genuine.

Alright. Moving on.

19866f965bbdf137de654d938edb63e0While on the subject of film, here is a reminder. Watch Pygmalion (1939) – staring Leslie Howard on Sunday, February 23rd at 12:15 am EST. It is fantastic!

Decades before the 1964 musical My Fair Lady swept the Academy Awards®, the author of Pygmalion, the play on which it was based, became a most unlikely Oscar® winner for the original’s 1938 screen adaptation. Possibly the most intelligent person to win the award (he might have claimed to be the only intelligent man to do so), Shaw holds the distinction of being the only individual to win both an Academy Award® and the Nobel Prize for Literature. Given his disdain for the movies, particularly those adapted from his own plays, it’s a minor miracle the film even got made and turned out to be a brilliant adaptation.


e7e6ea1caa0095cc4bb164461a1e5e9d by Jan Battermann for Eugene StrensThe story of a phonetics professor (modeled on real-life phonetician Henry Sweet) who turns a Cockney flower girl into a lady by teaching her to speak properly touched a chord with audiences, who viewed it as one of the writer’s most romantic plays. It had already been filmed twice, in Germany in 1935 and in the Netherlands in 1937. Shaw had disliked those versions so much that when producer Gabriel Pascal first approached him about filming an English version, the writer turned him down. Only when Pascal promised not to change a word and agreed to cast Wendy Hiller, whom Shaw had admired in stage productions of Pygmalion and St. Joan, did the great writer accede. Although she had already made one film, the low-budget 1937 comedy Lancashire Luck, Pascal gave her introductory billing in Pygmalion at Shaw’s request.

b78f9c96d1c0710899e2152527f8cb4d leboroniThe author did not get his way in casting the male lead, however. His first choice for Henry Higgins was Charles Laughton, but Pascal convinced him that Leslie Howard would make the film more marketable in the U.S. That choice may not have been based solely on the stars’ box-office appeal. In the mid-’30s, Laughton was riding high on a series of popular films, including Ruggles of Red Gap and Mutiny on the Bounty (both 1935). Rather, Pascal may have been appealing to the popular notion that the leading characters eventually married. Shaw had resisted the notion and even wrote a 1916 essay describing Eliza’s life after parting ways with Higgins and decrying the more sentimental interpretations as “lazy dependence on the ready-mades and reach-me-downs of the ragshop in which Romance keeps its stock of ‘happy endings’ to misfit all stories.” With the more romantic Howard cast as Higgins, however, Pascal may have hoped to weight the story towards a more romantic interpretation that would have sold more tickets.

fb24533f0fb9e9c151887ddd327e787fOne way Pascal got around Shaw’s insistence on a word-for-word filming of the play was by hiring him to write the screenplay. That gave the author a chance to incorporate scenes cut from most stage productions because they would have added too many sets (Shaw even had said such scenes were best suited to a film version). The writer also got to expand the scene at the Embassy Ball, where Higgins wins his bet to pass Eliza off as a lady. As a result, Shaw agreed to cut some of the play’s more philosophical speeches, including several of the longer speeches delivered by Eliza’s father. He also grudgingly agreed to include a final scene in which Eliza returns to Higgins, who, unable to express his love for her, demands “Where the devil are my slippers, Eliza?” Shaw would later disavow this ending, insisting that Eliza instead married her high society admirer, Freddie Eynsford-Hill.

Bottom line is Shaw loved this film version.

7fa59304b52c6ef4b87a2992aa906494 Rudolf Koch (1902-1985) Ex Libris Ursula Laut (1940)At year’s end, it was nominated for four Academy Awards® — including Best Picture, Best Actor (Howard) and Best Actress (Hiller) — years before foreign films were regularly honored at the Oscars®. It won for Shaw’s screenplay, but the author was hardly grateful. Instead, he announced, “It’s an insult for them to offer me any honor, as if they had never heard of me — and it’s very likely they never have. They might as well send an honor to George for being King of England.” His private views may have been more appreciative. Mary Pickford would later report that when she visited Shaw the award was prominently displayed on his mantelpiece.

When novelist Lloyd C. Douglas announced Pygmalion had won Best Screenplay, he quipped, “Mr. Shaw’s story now is as original as it was three 40def3de76e3f32652389ba1e75c3e83 Pavel Šimon Ex-libris Kniha Elisky Pihrtovéthousand years ago.” But though Shaw had, indeed, been inspired by the Greek myth about a sculptor who falls in love with his female statue, his version of the story became as much a part of popular culture as the original legend.

Please stay up and watch it, you will not be disappointed.

Okay, now a quick link to some eye-candy: Anna Sui Fall 2014 Collection | Tom & Lorenzo Fabulous & Opinionated

A sad farewell to actor Christopher Malcolm, Rocky Horror’s Brad, dies aged 67

Tributes are being paid to actor and theatre producer Christopher Malcolm, whose roles included the original Brad Majors in the Rocky Horror Show and Saffy’s gay dad in Absolutely Fabulous.

Christopher Malcolm
Christopher Malcolm starred in 1979 drama The Great Riviera Bank Robbery alongside Ian McShane

His death, aged 67, was confirmed by his daughter Morgan Lloyd Malcolm on Twitter, who wrote: “Today the world lost a beautiful, brilliant man.”

868ee92a6c3e45818072c2bbe5817c37She added he “left peacefully and with dignity. He will always be my hero.”

His starred in films such as The Empire Strikes Back, Labyrinth and Highlander.

Having played Brad Majors in the original production of The Rocky Horror Show in 1974 and co-produced the 1990 West End revival, he then took charge of producing all productions of Richard O’Brien’s much-loved musical around the world.

Since I have been sick, and totally out of the loop, I missed this nugget of news: President Obama Apologizes for Dissing Art History Degrees | Mediaite

1cc23b1ad1f95fb03bcd4632b7b7fb5aIf you got a degree in art history, your eye might have twitched a bit when President Obama said a few weeks ago that Americans would be more well off in the manufacturing industry as opposed to, say, having an art history degree. Well, there is literally nothing these days that doesn’t warrant an apology, and now Obama has apologized for that remark.

Well at least he has made an apology. I guess.

e821cd587ddb9da9bbe88ae9c293f546Then you have the other extreme, a president of a country who is completely off base. I am speaking of Putin of course, and his position on gays. Did y’all see this? Members of Pussy Riot released in Sochi – (I thought that Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were no longer “band members.”)

Two members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot were detained briefly Tuesday in central Sochi, after apparently being considered suspects in a theft at their hotel, and then released.

3036fb590140298455a7ab5b6debbf6e“A survey in connection with the theft at the Hotel Adler is completed, there is no claim against those questioned,” police said in a prepared statement.

Earlier in the day, band members Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova were meeting with journalists when police detained them, according to Tolokonnikova’s husband, Petr Verzilov. Russian media corroborated the report.

“They were put to the floor and beaten and physical force was used to them when they refused to be questioned without the presence of their lawyer, who was on his way to the police department,” Verzilov told reporters.

44c53b4794e42536b91768eff9a5fda7The stories I have read about arrest out of Sochi are scary, what a disgusting display to the world.

Olympic police today re-arrested former Italian member of parliament Vladimir Luxuria for wearing an outfit that was deemed a bit too “gay” for the Sochi Olympics.

Luxuria was wearing rainbow-colored clothing, and a rainbow wig.  She was arrested while walking to her seat at an Olympic hockey game.

The rainbow is now legally suspect in Russia since the passage last year of a draconian anti-gay law that bans what the Russians call “gay propaganda.” In reality, the law bans anything – speech, clothing or actions – that might give the impression that being gay is okay.616078707e29af21c89b13e6bef47d49

For example, the flag of Russia’s autonomous Jewish region came under scrutiny from Moscow because it contains a rainbow. And a newspaper editor was recently fined three-month’s pay for quoting a gay person in a news story in which the gay person defended themselves for having been fired based on their sexual orientation. And under similar legislation in St. Petersburg, a man was arrested for wearing rainbow suspenders.

af88f7c8f87bd263e7800cfcd9597f1bDamn…better not be caught eating Skittles or Lucky Charms in Sochi eh?

This post is getting long so real quick like:

U.S. regulator on India visit calls for greater drug safety collaboration | Reuters

3 peace activists sentenced for breaking into nuclear site – The Washington Post

Official who raised safety concerns at Hanford nuclear site is fired –

d2b7119e87dfa6dfc568111803737bbdAP sources: DOE to OK $6.5B for Georgia nuke plant | AccessNorthGa -That is for a new nuke plant south of Augusta, it was approved in 2010 under Obama’s watch. Doesn’t make me too happy considering there was an 4.1 earthquake not far from there just a few days ago.

A trunk to cry on? Elephants console distressed pals, study says – For such a smart and sympathetic animal to have as a “symbol” of the GOP party? Oh the irony.

The 5 most egregious antiabortion proposals of 2014 (so far) –

ad9879804284d3406c8cb5c61c113102CHARLOTTE: After comment to Gov. McCrory, food store cook fired in Charlotte | State Politics |

One observation, isn’t the Gov a public servant and does he not work for the people aka the food clerk whom he got fired?

Unbelievable: Chevron apologizes for fracking well explosion with coupons for free pizza –

Here’s a photo of the letter and coupon obtained by No Fracking Way. Unlike the long-term health and environment effects of fracking, this special offer expires soon:

All that shit makes this real estate look good, remember that Sky Dancing commune?

Medieval Castle and Hamlet for Sale in Italy: Castello Izzalini

Medieval Castle and Hamlet for Sale in Italy

This medieval hamlet for sale in Umbria, Italy, dates back to the 12th century, as witnessed by the Todi’s Liber Focolarium, da4752fd2eedb621c9525e353c3bf0a1that is the book of the local families. It was then inhabited by 32 families, more or less 150 people.

Somebody get me the phone!

Placed on a hilltop overlooking the Tiber River valley, Izzalini is surrounded by a large proprietary 16,000 sqm forest. You can find there ancient trees, witnessing the history of the place, olive groves, whose fruits’ nectar is the renowned exquisite Umbrian Extra Virgin Oil, pasture for herds, whose milk is used to make the delicious Umbrian cheeses on site and woodland, suitable for different purposes: activities, garden, cultivation (e.g.: vineyard, olives, truffles), etc.

Castle for Sale

Oh you got to go and check the place out. More at the link and since it is a history blog link, it will have plenty of historical background to go with it.  Yeah, history majors kick ass!

Finally, this is real cool: SEE IT: California scuba divers interact with octopus who tries to take camera  – NY Daily News

Innit nature wonderful!

f5dcf14f060722d82b14bb4c2f38e19f Alexandra Von Hellberg

That is all I’ve got today, share your thoughts and links below.

Sunday Reads: Drug and Guns, Shop and Go

Sunday by Johanna Harmon

Sunday by Johanna Harmon found on Pinterest

Good Morning

During my time off, while driving around Banjoville one day with my dad, he pointed out a road sign to me that he knew would get my goat.

He also knew it would be something I probably would talk about here on the blog, take pictures of in fact, and share it with you….of course he was right.

So here beneath the redneck woods, in the haze of blue mountains, amid the squeals of pigs, there is one shop that can meet your need of class III weaponry and fill that prescription of Abilify as well…

Check out this picture below, Sign reads:

McCaysville Drug & Gun
Guns. Ammo. Accessories
Class III Dealer. Prescriptions

Sign reads:

Yeah. I know the picture is not the greatest, it is from my camera phone and it was taken on the move…but you can definitely get the full scope of the situation here. I don’t want to link to the website, and get hammered by gun nuts, trolls or whatnot, but you can find it if you wish by looking it up on your own: mccaysville drug center dot com. The irony of it all, the drug center health mart web page…with this sentence up front and center: YES!  We have guns and drugs!

Hey, if it works for them…fine. But I just think there has to be something fucked up about selling big ass guns at a place that also carries prescription drugs. No, these aren’t the kind of guns they sell at wallyworld btw…these are, “kill every muthafukker in the room” guns:

Now…just how hard is it to get a Class 3 weapon?  Will Hayden: How to Buy Class 3 Weapons

  • Class 3 firearms include machine guns, short-barreled rifles, short-barreled shotguns, suppressors, destructive devices and Any Other Weapons (AOWs).
  • The tax for privately manufacturing any class 3 firearms is $200. Transferring requires a $200 tax for all class 3s except AOW’s, for which the transfer tax is $5.
  • To legally possess a class 3 weapon you must complete a transfer of registration within the NFA registry.
  • There are two ways for you to legally buy a class 3 gun. The first is by transfer after approval by ATF of a registered weapon from its lawful owner residing in the same State as the transferee. The second is by obtaining prior approval from ATF to make NFA firearms.

As for getting that dealer license to sell those class III firearms, well…there is nothing at the ATF website that says you can’t also have prescription drugs sold on the premises, nor is there any info on this during the application process.

Alright, so there’s that.

Now for some newsy items. I knew the Fukushima radiation disaster wasn’t going to be a problem for the IOC: Tokyo selected to host 2020 Summer Olympics – The Hill’s Blog Briefing Room

In seven years, all eyes will be on Tokyo.

The International Olympic Committee voted to send the 2020 Summer Olympics to the Japanese capital on Saturday.

The city beat out Madrid and Istanbul to host the international sporting games.

Forget steroids and enhancement drugs…the athletes will have that special glow in the dark kind of doping they can only get with radiation as high as 2,200 millisieverts (mSv). You think there are British swimmers known for their large “shark fin” noses now? Just imagine what some Godzilla sized rays of nuclear contamination will do to that schnoz.

In other Olympic news: Olympic sports will learn their fate on Sunday | McClatchy

After months of campaigning, revamping and strategic positioning, international federations for wrestling, squash and baseball/softball will find out Sunday if their sports will have Olympic life.

All three will go through a second round of presentations, hoping to earn a place in the 2020 Summer Olympics.

The decision, which will be made in Buenos Aires, Argentina, by the International Olympic Committee’s General Assembly around 10 a.m. Colorado time, comes seven months after wrestling was removed from the IOC’s list of summer Games core sports.

The February ouster prompted wrestling’s international governing body FILA to make possibly the most aggressive changes to its sport among the three finalists that will present their cases before the IOC on Sunday morning.

“We found the strength to change,” said Nenad Lalovic, who took over as president of FILA in February.

The change proved effective as wrestling got new life May 29 when the IOC whittled a field of eight sports to three finalists. The sports that didn’t make the cut were karate, roller sports, sport climbing, wakeboarding and wushu.

Remember, pole dancing is one of the new “sports” competing for a slot in the games.

I am now going to quickly give you some links on a few disturbing issues dealing with the collective war on women.

First two stories on rape, but both are bullshit…and really piss me off.

‘Were you wearing a bra?’ Rape accuser at US Naval Academy faces aggressive and withering questioning on the hearing stand | The Raw Story

The pre-trial hearings in a military courtroom at the U.S. Naval Academy have exposed a Navy midshipman who has accused three academy football players of rape to pointed cross-examination of the kind a civilian accuser wouldn’t face, according to news reports covering the case.

Under defense questioning over the last four days, the accuser has been asked by defense attorneys how wide she opens her mouth during oral sex, how many times a day she lies, whether or not she was wearing underwear or a bra, and other questions that experts interviewed by the Washington Post say would never be allowed in a civilian courtroom.


Her attorney, Susan Burke, filed suit Thursday against the academy and Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Michael H. Miller on her client’s behalf, arguing that the timing and nature of the cross-examination were a form of retaliation directed by Miller. Burke is seeking a court order compelling Miller to refrain from further interference in the case.

The suit alleges that “the Superintendent wanted to sweep the matter under the rug to prevent any reputational harm to the Academy,” and assured her client that “the investigation likely would just ‘go away’ if she signed a declination and refused to cooperate.”

Under pressure from the school and one of the football players, the accuser did not cooperate with an initial investigation but was subsequently ostracized and retaliated against by the football players and the Naval Academy community, Burke said in earlier statements. The academy subsequently disciplined her client for drinking. The accuser sought legal help and the attention of the media in early 2013 and the Navy reopened the investigation, Burke said.

The case stems from charges leveled in June 2012 against three U.S. Naval Academy football players charged with raping a female midshipman and making false statements. The Article 32 proceeding determines if the charges will proceed to a general court-martial. The accuser, a 21-year-old midshipman at the academy who has not been named in major media reports, alleges that she was raped after getting drunk and passing out at an off-campus party in April 2012 in Annapolis, Maryland, site of the elite school.

Burke said in a statement earlier this year that her client “woke up at the football house the next morning with little recall of what had occurred. She learned from friends and social media that three football players were claiming to have had sexual intercourse with her while she was incapacitated.”

Oh, but this is not the only rape case in the news today dealing with college football players, check this out: Disturbing Allegations Emerge In Vanderbilt Rape Case

Further details have come out concerning the June 23 rape of a 21-year-old woman that led to the dismissal of four Vanderbilt football players, including junior college transfer, Brandon Vandenburg. According to a report from BuzzFeed, the incident was worse than previously reported and at least one source believes head coach James Franklin tried to cover it up.

In August, Vandenburg and three others—Brandon Banks, JaBorian McKenzie, and Cory Batey—were charged with five counts each of aggravated rape and two counts of aggravated sexual battery. The alleged rape occurred in Gillette House on the Vanderbilt campus, where a second-floor door was destroyed—seemingly kicked in—and security footage showed a stream of men entering and exiting a room. Then Vandenburg threw a towel over the camera.

It’s believed the woman was raped in the room and then moved while the camera was obscured. The woman was reportedly unconscious while Vandenburg had sex with her. After the other three players entered the room, she was penetrated with random objects. Vandenburg recorded and took pictures. The woman had no recollection of any of it until she began to hear about the pictures and video. An attorney who has seen the video told BuzzFeed that there is “a strong racial component” to the footage, without elaborating.

Here is the kicker:

A source close to one of the dismissed players thinks coach Franklin urged one of the players to delete a video after viewing it.

I’m 99.9 percent sure that Franklin saw the video,” the source said. “And I wouldn’t be surprised if the public finds this out soon.”

“Coach Franklin denies that emphatically,” said Hal Hardin, Franklin’s attorney. “People always speculate and gossip. There is no truth to that accusation whatsoever. It’s inflammatory.”

Three other men—including suspended wide receiver, Chris Boyd—were later indicted for allegedly urging Vandenburg to delete the video and deleting the video and photos from their own phones.

Franklin has turned the team into a “winning” team, from what I can see…he’s given the university its first successful season in a long time. According to USA Today, Franklin made over 1.8 million in 2011, and it is speculated that his contract over the next few years will be substantially higher. He isn’t going anywhere, and you can bet he will be protected by the administration. However, I am not sure what to make of this bit from the buzzfeed link:

Franklin’s self-described “extreme personality” is the marvel of players and fans alike. His voluble nature has also garnered unwanted headlines. During a radio interview last June, he said that he doesn’t hire an assistant coach until he sees his wife. “If she looks the part, and she’s a D-1 recruit, then you got a chance to get hired. That’s part of the deal.”

On Twitter, Franklin, who has more than 24,000 followers, backpedaled from the comment: “My foot does not taste good, I hope I did not offend any1, I love and respect ALL, have a great day, enjoy the fam & don’t forget to #AnchorDown,” citing the Commadores’ de facto slogan — which Franklin came up with and popularized.

Other woman’s issues links:

Texas truck customizer advertises with image of abducted, hog-tied woman | The Raw Story

Truck with abducted woman via screencap

Residents in Waco, TX are angry over a company’s decision to advertise with a realistic depiction of an abducted and hog-tied woman in a truck bed. According to KTEM News, sign-making and marketing firm Hornet Signs designed the truck decal for an employee’s vehicle to advertise its car wrap services.

“I wasn’t expecting the reactions that we got,” said Hornet Signs owner Brad Kolb. “Nor was it anything we condone or anything else, but it was just something more or less that we just had to put out there and see who notices it.”

Some people noticed the vehicle in traffic and called police.

Kolb said that the woman on the decal is an employee who agreed to be photographed and that orders for car wraps and decals have gone up since the sign hit the streets.

Geez, WTF?

Meanwhile, in my state of Georgia, this is happening: Ga. PSC may give $10K fine to anti-abortion group | AccessNorthGa

Two elected utility regulators in Georgia want to give a $10,000 fine from a telephone company to a religious anti-abortion charity with past financial ties to one of the officials, a proposal that the attorney general’s office is calling unconstitutional. But the state attorney general has thrown cold water on the idea.

Under a settlement, Peerless Network of Georgia LLC will pay a $10,000 penalty for failing to file required reports. Civil penalties usually go to Georgia’s state treasury.

Instead, Public Service Commissioner H. Doug Everett proposed this week that the telephone company pay the penalty as a contribution to the Atlanta branch of Care Net, where his wife works as unpaid volunteer. The organization is a Christian charity that discourages women from having abortions. It offers pregnancy tests, ultrasounds and baby supplies to expectant mothers, according to its website and tax filings.


Emails released under Georgia’s open records law show that the attorney general’s office has cautioned that state regulators do not have the authority to approve such a deal. In an Aug. 29 email, Senior Assistant Attorney General Daniel Walsh wrote that the Public Service Commission can allow violators to make alternate settlements rather than paying fines, such as by offering consumer refunds or funding training to prevent natural gas accidents.

“Here, I don’t see a plausible connection between a utility regulation and a pregnancy center,” Walsh wrote.

After utility regulators ignored that advice, Attorney General Sam Olens wrote them a letter Wednesday warning that the plan violated Georgia’s state constitution.

“Despite the obvious good intentions of those expressing an interest in a settlement agreement that would provide funds to various non-profit organizations, the law simply does not permit such a result,” Olens wrote.

Everett said there is a legitimate tie. Peerless admitted in filings that it failed to comply with several rules, including procedures to ensure the confidentiality of family violence shelters. Everett said Care Net assists pregnant women who are abused and need shelter, although it does not operate any shelter services itself. Peerless officials did not return a call seeking comment.

“I can’t understand why this one was singled out,” Everett said.

Allowing the company to make a donation to Care Net rather than paying a fine to the state could raise questions over the constitutional separation of church and state. Care Net says on its website that its mission includes, “Sharing the truth that Jesus Christ offers thereby making voluntary pregnancy termination unnecessary and undesirable.”

When I read this article, I felt physically ill. 10 fucking thousand dollars. Unbelievable! I want to scream into my pillow as I write this. Ugh.

Here is a good link for you though, something to work on and work toward: Where We Go From Here… #HB2 – Jessica W. Luther

People want to do stuff. People are itching to be active, to participate, to rally, to…DO.

Everyone is going to have their own opinion on what we should be DOING at this point. And I’m great with that. The fact is, we should all be doing whatever we are comfortable with, what we have the time to do, etc.

So, I’d like to just start a conversation about it. I AM NOT – by any means – some kind of expert on this. My only real organizing was at the Texas capitol this summer, a bathing in the fire.

If you have ideas that I should add to this list, please leave a comment or shoot me an email.

Take a look at Jessica’s list, it is detailed and a great place to start…oh, Ralph and Mona, be sure to pass it on your friends in Texas!

This post is long, and it is already after 2:30 in the morning and I want to go to bed, the rest of the morning’s reads will be in link dump fashion.  We will go in chronological order, okay?

A Castellan Claims his Castles: Textualization of Claims in Eleventh-Century Aquitaine By Indrayani Battle

The Conventum inter Guillelmum Aquitanorum Comitem et Hugonem Chilarchum is a 340-line, highly descriptive document of claims, counter-claims, and often violent conflicts, all revolving around property, between Hugh of Lusignan and Count William of Aquitaine, written by an unidentified author and scribe. This eleventh-century document is written in a conversational mode, largely using direct speech, and from a secular perspective, since both parties are lay lords. It is the textualization, or the writing down, of a series of events and oral transactions of the demands of Hugh for the properties he claimed by right of inheritance, either directly or by proximity to his kin. The textualization allowed the author to control the information that was incorporated into the text, thereby to be passed into the future. While historians have called the document highly unusual, because of its length, because of its direct speech, because of its one-sided portrayal of events, and because there is no comparative document from the region, they nevertheless study the document for lord-vassal relationships of the eleventh century. However, the question of why the document was written has still not been adequately answered, although a few historians have put forward their assertions of the document as literature rather than history. These assertions seem largely based on the Conventum’s grammatical or narrative structure, which are only a part of its textualization.

…the importance of the document lies in this textualization of legal claims as understood in the moral standards and accepted norms of conduct in the eleventh century, all of which provide the events therein with legal validity and thus, by extension, to the agreement itself. This type of evaluation allows the text to take its place with other legal documents of the early-eleventh century. I further maintain that Hugh had the document written to formalize his claims, not only against Count William of Aquitaine but also against Count Fulk Nerra of Anjou, since most of the lands that Hugh claimed were under men commended to Anjou.

To do this I examine the importance of land, its role in the attainment of personal power, its role in the identity-formation of a family, the methods of its acquisition, the disputes around its inheritance and ownership, and the methods of dispute settlement, including the role of violence. In the upheavals of the early eleventh century, textualization of land holdings and their dispute settlements provided a permanent record for family identity and for the legal procedures that were employed. The thesis also examines the geo-political implication for the setting of the Conventum, the power struggle between the Counts William and Fulk, and the possession of allodial or free lands and their added influence on the bargaining power of the lords. Then, I trace the importance of textualization as a continuation of the documentation process already prevalent under the Carolingians. Subsequently, it is necessary to look at some of the words and portrayed events that indicate the use of customary procedures by Hugh in making his claims. The thesis also examines the oath of fidelity to see how the relationship of a lord and his man was defined, how the oath affected the conduct of each to the other, and its implications in the ongoing debate over the lord-vassal relationship and thus the feudalization of eleventh-century social structure.

Click here to read this thesis from North Carolina State University

Keep those themes of legal argument and documents and such…and the use of words and language in mind.

On to the next link, Richard III had stomach worms, research reveals – This Britain – UK – The Independent

Richard III suffered from a roundworm infection, according to research carried out on his skeleton.

The remains of the king, who ruled England from 1483-85, were discovered last year under a  council car park in Leicester.

Cambridge University researchers used a powerful microscope to examine soil samples from his pelvis and skull as well as soil surrounding the grave.

They found multiple roundworm eggs in the pelvis sample. But there was no sign of eggs in soil from the skull and few around the grave, suggesting a roundworm infection rather than contamination by later dumping of human waste in the area.

Damn, not only did he suffer Scoliosis, have a club foot and other maladies, but he had worms too!

From World Wide Words Newsletter: 7 Sep 2013 There are two cool entries for you:


The name of this delightful vegetable has swung from classical Latin to rustic reinvention and back during its history in English.

It first appears in English around 1000. Its name was taken from medieval Latin sparagus but by the sixteenth century it had come sperach or sperage. It might well have stayed like that had it not been for herbalists, who knew the classical Latin name was asparagus, itself borrowed from the Greek. Their influence meant that that name became quite widely known during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries alongside the older names. Nicholas Culpeper, for example, headed an entry in his herbal of 1653 as “Asparagus, Sparagus, or Sperage”, thus covering all bases.

Non-scholars had trouble with asparagus and did what the medieval Latin writers had done — leave off the unstressed initial vowel, so making it sparagus again. But they went one step further, converting it by folk etymology into forms that seemed to make more sense, either sparagrass or sparrowgrass. The latter form became common in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries:

So home, and having brought home with me from Fenchurch Street a hundred of sparrowgrass, cost 18d.

Diary, by Samuel Pepys, 20 April 1667.

In the eighteenth century sparrowgrass was so much the standard and polite term that John Walker commented in his Critical Pronouncing Dictionary in 1791: “‘Sparrow-grass’ is so general that ‘asparagus’ has an air of stiffness and pedantry”.

I guess you would say asparagus with the pinky finger raised?

Curry favour

Q From Patrick Martin: As I gave the cat its supper, I said to my wife that I was doing it to curry favour with the cat. Out of curiosity I looked curry up in the two-volume Oxford dictionary to see where this expression comes from. The explanation involved a chestnut horse. This seems a bit far-fetched. Is there a better explanation?

A Believe it or not, the explanation is correct. But then, it’s an odd phrase — why should curry have anything to do with winning the favour of somebody or ingratiating oneself with him?

Its origin lies in a French medieval allegorical poem called the Roman de Fauvel, written by Gervais de Bus and Chaillou de Pesstain in the early 1300s. Fauvel was a horse, a conniving stallion, and the poem is a satire on the corruption of social life. He decided he didn’t like his stable and moved into his master’s house, becoming the master and being visited by church leaders and politicians who sought his favour.

That is some horse!

There are several layers of meaning in his name: fauve is French for a colour variously translated as chestnut, reddish-yellow, tawny or fawn. A close English equivalent is the rather rare fallow, as in fallow deer, an animal with a brownish coat (it may be that uncultivated ground is also said to be fallow because it looks that colour). Fauve is also a collective name, originally les bêtes fauves, for a class of wild animals whose coats are tawny, such as lions and tigers, and hence ferocious wild animals (the fauverie in a French zoo houses the big cats). In the poem, the name Fauvel can moreover be glossed as fau-vel, a veiled lie, but it is actually a partial acronym of the initial letters of the French words for six sins: flatterie, avarice, vilenie, variété, envie, and lâcheté (flattery, avarice, depravity, fickleness, envy and cowardice). His colour also evokes the old medieval proverbial belief that a fallow horse was a symbol of dishonesty.

The poem was well known among educated people in Britain, who began to refer to Fauvel, variously spelled, as a symbol of cunning and depravity. That soon became curry Favel. This curry has nothing to do with Indian food (a word that came into English only at the end of the sixteenth century via Portuguese from Tamil kari, a sauce or relish) but is another ancient word from a French source, still common in English, which means to rub down or comb a horse. The idea behind currying Favel is that the horse was highly susceptible to flattery, figuratively a kind of stroking.

For people who didn’t know the poem — then, as now, that was almost everybody — Fauvel or Favel meant nothing. Favour seemed much more sensible a word and by the early part of the sixteenth century popular etymology had changed it and so it has remained ever since.

Alright, now a book review link: Brief Review of “The Great Dissent” by Thomas Healy (UPDATED) | The Volokh ConspiracyThe Volokh Conspiracy

“The Great Dissent: How Oliver Wendell Holmes Changed His Mind–and Changed the History of Free Speech in America” by law professor Thomas Healy.

…the book is a lively read, and provides a good amount of interesting information about Holmes in general, and how he came to be (rather suddenly, after having not been at all) a champion of judicial protection of freedom of speech.

Want to read David Bernstein’s complaints about Healy’s book…go check out the rest of the review at the link above.

Finally, Virgin Galactic Broke The Sound Barrier and the Footage is Pretty Stunning [Video] Did anyone else just hear the Star Trek song start playing in their head? | Geekosystem

Wanna know what it’s like to sit on the back of a rocket ship and watch as it breaks the sound barrier? Because for their recent test of SpaceShipTwo’s reentry systems, Virgin Galactic stuck a camera onto the tail of the rocket and recorded its ascent into orbit. This is one of those videos you need to watch in 1080p — trust us, it’s worth the load time.

Y’all have a wonderful Sunday, please stop and let us know what you are reading and thinking about today.

Friday Nite Lite: Oscars and “Owlcatraz”

Good Evening!

It is a big weekend for Hollywood, the Academy Awards are Sunday night, so we will start tonight’s cartoons with a few funnies about that golden bald man.

Nate Silver has some predictions up at his blog, Oscar Predictions, Election-Style .He is putting his statistics and calculations to work using:

the other awards that were given out in the run-up to the Oscars: the closest equivalent to pre-election polls. These have always been the best predictors of Oscar success. In fact, I have grown wary that methods that seek to account for a more complex array of factors are picking up on a lot of spurious correlations and identifying more noise than signal. If a film is the cinematic equivalent of Tim Pawlenty — something that looks like a contender in the abstract, but which isn’t picking up much support from actual voters — we should be skeptical that it would suddenly turn things around.

Just as our election forecasts assign more weight to certain polls, we do not treat all awards equally. Instead, some awards have a strong track record of picking the Oscar winners in their categories, whereas others almost never get the answer right (here’s looking at you, Los Angeles Film Critics Association).

These patterns aren’t random: instead, the main reason that some awards perform better is because some of them are voted on by people who will also vote for the Oscars. For instance, many members of the Screen Actors Guild will vote both for the SAG Awards and for the Oscars. In contrast to these “insider” awards are those like the Golden Globes, which are voted upon by “outsiders” like journalists or critics; these tend to be less reliable.

Go check out his predictions, and I will make sure to update you all on Nate’s results.

Now for the cartoons.

Cagle Post » Oscar Picks

127652 600 Oscar Picks cartoons

2/24 Luckovich cartoon: The winner is… | Mike Luckovich


Cagle Post » The Sequester

127544 600 The Sequester cartoons

This is a good segue to cartoons about Sequester…

Cagle Post » Sequester countdown

127640 600 Sequester countdown cartoons

Cagle Post » Knowing Where to Cut

127648 600 Knowing Where to Cut cartoons

Cagle Post » Sequestration Immolation

127604 600 Sequestration Immolation cartoons

Cagle Post » Three Blind Mice

127655 600 Three Blind Mice cartoons

Now, this next cartoon is very clever…even if we may disagree with it:  Cagle Post » Obama’s monster

127548 600 Obamas monster cartoons

I can’t help it, I am a sucker for Frankenstein.

Personally, I think they all are to blame!  One more for you on the Sequester.

2/20 Luckovich cartoon: Space invader | Mike Luckovich


Okay, have you heard about the Olympics cutting wrestling from the games…

Cagle Post » Wrestling Cut

127570 600 Wrestling Cut cartoons

Cagle Post » Olympic Wresting

127660 600 Olympic Wresting cartoons

Now for the gun issue:

Cagle Post » Nut or Shooter

127417 600 Nut or Shooter cartoons

Cagle Post » Guns And Jobs

127647 600 Guns And Jobs cartoons

This one above is thought provoking…

Let’s end this with a few odds and ends:

Cagle Post » China cyber hacking

127644 600 China cyber hacking cartoons

Cagle Post » The New Normal

127603 600 The New Normal cartoons

Cagle Post » Alabama lawmaker says babies are organs

127474 600 Alabama lawmaker says babies are organs cartoons

This is an open thread…

Sunday Reads: Part B

Wow, I am not sure what is going on, but I am still tired! So here is the rest of the post from this morning. In link dump fashion of course. Grab some crackers or chips or melba toast and dig into these delectable DIPS…(Dumbass Intolerant PLUB Sentiments)

Go and read this link that PDgray shared…Sarah J. Jackson: What’s Wrong with Media Coverage of Women Olympians?

Then, go read this thing from Fox News…Serena flubs crowning moment

Then, take a look at this one…These Three Court Rulings on Women’s Health Will Give You a Rage Headache

Are you feeling it yet?

This one is sure to add one more layer to the already over topped sexist, racist, misogynistic hate encrusted Ritz cracker: From Bachmann to Romney: Coded racial rhetoric is out of control

Let’s start loading up on another chip, cause mine just broke under the weight of all that crap above…and besides we don’t want to double-dip a chip.

More DIPS shit?  Basu: GOP opens door to a partisan judiciary

So it’s come to this. The Iowa Republican Party is demanding the state’s judiciary square its rulings with a GOP party platform plank, or be punished.

That’s in effect what party Chairman A.J. Spiker is doing when he calls on voters to oust Iowa Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins at the polls in November. Wiggins is targeted for being on the court that unanimously ruled the state cannot deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Using buzzwords about “activist judges” imposing their personal views, Spiker said, “The people of Iowa are tired of increasingly powerful bureaucrats arrogantly and deceitfully instituting law when they have no justification or ability to do so.” Actually, what Wiggins did was read the Iowa Constitution — exactly as the other six justices, both appointees by Republican and Democratic governors, did.

Woooo, after that kind of snacking I think we are ready for something to drink. So take a long pull on this cool one:

Ethiopian Sets Olympic Record in Women’s Marathon –

Daniel Garcia/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Ethiopia’s Tiki Gelana handled the field and the rain to finish the women’s marathon in record time.

On the narrow streets of Sunday’s women’s Olympic marathon, Tiki Gelana of Ethiopia reached for her water bottle and collided with another runner just beyond the halfway point. She fell to the ground and scraped her right elbow. She got up and was bumped again.

“I said, ‘Oh wow, I’m not going to finish,’ ” Gelana said. “I just concentrated on running. All of a sudden I made it.”

She did not see the runner who knocked her down inadvertently as runners scrambled to get their liquids and avoid dehydration. But Gelana climbed to her feet, remained poised and set an Olympic record to win in 2 hours 23 minutes 7 seconds.

Congratulations Tiki!

Here is another cool drink to sip from: The women changing Britain’s unions

women union leaders

From left, Sian Rabi-Laleh of Unison, Alice Hood and Scarlet Harris of the TUC, Helen Parker-Jayne Isibor of the Musicians’ Union, Becky Wright of the TUC and Natalie Jacottet of the CWU. Photograph: Suki Dhanda

In 1943, Women’s Own reported an astonishing feat. “Job experts said that no woman could do boring, screwing a breech ring for the barrel of a six-pounder tank gun in a giant lathe, but Miss Megan Lewis, 22… has been doing it at the ordnance factory where 80% of machine operatives are women. She said, ‘I learned by watching the setter at the machine. Officials were astounded.'”

During the second world war, most women were at work against the wishes of the trade unions. Traditionally, unions argued that men needed to earn a “family wage” sufficient to keep a wife and children and this should not be undercut by women claiming male skilled jobs and equal pay; a woman’s place was in the home. Employment was – and still often is – segregated. Men then were employed in heavy industry, women in the low-paid business of care, secretarial and admin work and the service sector.

Trade unions are an important component in a democratic society, but for decades they did not serve women well. Strikes and negotiations were a beer-and-sandwiches job almost exclusively conducted by and for “the brothers”. Meetings were at night, when most women were at home engaged in ironing shirts and childcare. “I’m all right, Jack” was the slogan while, with honourable exceptions, the men paid scant attention to the needs of Jill, often the sole breadwinner in the family. The image of the average trade unionist was a white, working-class and blue-collar bloke: “male, pale and stale”.

That was just a taste, go read the rest at the link.

There is a lot going on in Syria, here are a few updates:

 Syria conflict: Troops ‘mass for Aleppo assault’

More than 20,000 Syrian troops are massed around Aleppo, military sources say, as fighting rages for control of the country’s second city.

Fighter jets, helicopters and artillery have pounded rebel positions ahead of a feared full-scale assault within days.

Tanks are trying to push into two key rebel-held areas, the opposition says.

Syrian Forces Pound Rebel Positions in Aleppo

The opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that more than 40 Syrians, including 25 civilians, were verified as killed Sunday in the country. The casualties have not been independently verified.

Meanwhile, Iranian media said Tehran has asked Turkey and Qatar to help secure the release of 48 Iranian nationals kidnapped Saturday in Damascus.  Iran said the victims were religious pilgrims, but a brigade commander with the Free Syrian Army describes them as elite Iranian Revolutionary Guards.

Iran backs the Syrian government, while Turkey and Qatar support the Syrian opposition.

Read this letter to the editor of the Washington Post:  Why John Kerry tested engagement with Syria written by…

Jodi B. Seth, Washington

The writer is communications director for the Senate ­Foreign Relations Committee, which is chaired by Sen. John F. Kerry.

Which states:

I was stunned to read the assertion that Bashar al-Assad ever had “prominent admirers in the United States, including Sen. John F. Kerry” [“For besieged Syrian dictator Assad, only exit may be body bag,” front page, Aug. 1]. Mr. Kerry never claimed or believed that Mr. Assad was a “reformer” or had any interest beyond regime survival. But that one interest was the reason that former secretaries of state James Baker and Henry Kissinger and Sens. Kerry (D-Mass.) and Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) believed it was worth testing U.S. engagement with Damascus, after eight years of isolationist policies had moved Syria only closer to Iran.

I have another letter/op-ed for you, this time about Walmart and Minimum wage:  Marcus Edgerson: Walmart Worker Speaks Out: Raise the Minimum Wage to Get My Vote

I am family man, I have a wife and I just had a child. I am also a veteran, a Marine who served during Operation Iraqi Freedom. I now work at Walmart, serving customers every day. While I am excited and appreciative to have a job, I wish that I was paid enough to make ends meet. I currently make $7.70 an hour, three cents more than Florida’s minimum wage. At 30 hours per week, that’s a little more than $12,000 per year. That is just not enough to pay for food, rent and and still pay for things like car insurance. I don’t drive now because I can’t afford it. And believe me, it is hard to survive in South Florida without a car.

However, not everyone at Walmart makes minimum wage. Mike Duke, our CEO, made $18 million last year. That’s close to $9,000 an hour. Many Walmart workers would be happy to make $9 an hour.

And we will close this article about Mars, let’s hope Curiosity sticks the landing!  NASA hopes Curiosity landing site is a Grand Canyon of Mars

In the spring of 1869, a geology professor who had lost an arm to a musket ball at the Battle of Shiloh led a tortuous journey down a canyon that had been etched into stone, a mile deep, by the unremitting force of the Colorado River.

There, in what would become known as the Grand Canyon, John Wesley Powell found a diary of the Earth’s adolescence — layer upon layer of varied, exposed rock spanning 2 billion years. If there were a Bible of geology, Powell wrote, this would be the Book of Revelation.

On Sunday, 143 years later, scientists will attempt to retrace that journey — on Mars.

Have a good day y’all, I am going back to bed!

Saturday Reads: Tax Returns, True Crime, Olympic Porn, and More

Good Morning!!

It looks like Tim Pawlenty might be the perfect VP match for Mitt Romney. He has had some issues with his financial disclosure forms and he refused to release his tax returns as Governor of Minnesota. From the Guardian:

Democrats have been digging into a web of allegations from nine years ago which involved Pawlenty’s use of a shell corporation to shield $60,000 in payments from a telecommunications group during his election campaign that were not declared to the state’s campaign finance board. The money came from a firm run by a prominent Republican strategist. Pawlenty had until recently been a board member.

Opponents accused Pawlenty of accepting an unethical and possibly illegal salary to campaign. The scandal widened because the telecommunications group making the payments was exposed for scamming customers, many of them elderly.

Pawlenty is touted as a leading candidate to be Mitt Romney’s running-mate in part because his background is seen as a political antidote to Romney’s life of privilege. He is the working class son of a truck driver, who knows adversity after his mother died while he was a boy and his father lost his job.

But if he is on the Republican ticket, a fresh airing of the allegations from 2003 is not only likely to undermine Pawlenty’s attempts to portray himself as the voice of the working man but threatens to draw unwelcome attention to difficult issues for Romney – the pressure to release his own tax returns, the morality of his business practices and the parking of millions of dollars in shell companies.

And if Romney turns Pawlenty down for VP, he (Romney) will look like a hypocrite.

I posted this link on Thursday morning, but I think it bears repeating. This op-ed in the NYT by Michael J. Graetz is the best thing I’ve read so far on what Mitt Romney may be hiding by not releasing his tax returns. Graetz discusses Romney’s huge IRA:

With an I.R.A. account of $20 million to $101 million, the tax savings would be more than a few pennies.

The I.R.A. also allows Mr. Romney to diversify his large holdings tax-free, avoiding the 15 percent tax on capital gains that would otherwise apply. His financial disclosure further reveals that his I.R.A. freed him from paying currently the 35 percent income tax on hundreds of thousands of dollars of interest income each year.

Given the extraordinary size of his I.R.A., we have to presume that Mr. Romney valued the assets he put in his retirement account at far less than he would have sold them for. Otherwise it is quite a trick to turn contributions that are limited to $30,000 to $50,000 a year into the $20 million to $101 million he now has there. But we cannot be certain; his meager disclosure of tax records and financial information does not indicate what kind of assets were put into the I.R.A.

He also addresses Romney’s offshore accounts, and concludes that

Mr. Romney is an Olympic-level athlete at the tax avoidance game. Rich people don’t send their money to Bermuda or the Cayman Islands for the weather.

The part I found most interesting was Graetz’ discussion of Romney’s transfers of funds to his sons. Graetz suggests that Romney may not have paid any gift tax on the $100 million trust fund he established in 1995; because it is well known that the IRS doesn’t generally audit gift tax returns.

Based on his aggressive tax planning, revealed in the 2010 returns he has released and his approval of a notably dicey tax avoidance strategy in 1994 when he headed the audit committee of the board of Marriott International, my bet is that — if Mr. Romney filed a gift tax return for these transfers at all — he put a low or even zero value on the gifts, certainly a small fraction of the price at which he would have sold the transferred assets to an unrelated party….According to a partner at Mr. Romney’s trustee’s law firm, valuing carried interests, such as Mr. Romney’s interests in the private equity company Bain Capital, at zero for gift tax purposes was common advice given to clients like Mr. Romney in the 1990s and early 2000s.

At this point, I’m convinced that there is some really hinky stuff going on in those returns. Otherwise Romney would have released them by now. But he’s dreaming if he thinks the press will stop focusing on this.

Yesterday, Wimpy Willard dodged questions about Michelle Bachmann’s muslim witch hunt and the Chick-fil-A controversy. Alex Seitz-Wald at Salon:

Mitt Romney failed to join other Republican leaders today in condemning Rep. Michele Bachmann’s witch hunt against Muslims in the U.S. government, telling reporters at a campaign stop in Las Vegas that it was not “part of my campaign.” Republicans like Sen. John McCain and House Speaker John Boehner, among others, have spoken out publicly against Bachmann’s campaign, but when Romney was asked about it, along with the controversy over Chick-fil-A, he dodged the question. “I’m not going to tell other people what things to talk about. Those are not things that are part of my campaign,” the presumed GOP nominee said at a rare press availability after a campaign stop.

Nothing really new about that–just more evidence of Romney cowardice.

We’ve been talking about how the female Olympic athletes are forced to wear skimpy costumes, presumably to attract the male audience. But at The Daily Beast Tricia Romano has a different take: The Olympics or Soft Porn? Female, Gay Fans Gawking at Male Athletes

Ripped, tanned men seemingly carved out of marble are making women and gay men happy—very happy—during these Olympics, spurring Internet memes and social-media buzz. It’s like the Channing Tatum male-stripper movie Magic Mike got a sequel—a very (thankfully) long sequel—one that’s also preciously short on plot but long on beefcake.

While women have long provided daydream fodder for men and lesbians—say hello to the field hockey team when not checking out the scantily clad ladies taking part in the beach volleyball competition—London’s Games seem to be drumming up a particularly focused interest in celebrating the fine male physique.

American gold-medal swimmers Ryan Lochte and Nathan Adrian might have gained notoriety for winning races, but they became instant sex symbols the second they stepped out of the pool. In the days since their London debut, you can read all about Ryan Lochte’s penchant for one-night stands, and there are entire articles parsing the hot-but-dumb problem posed by Lochte, and conversely how smart and sweet Adrian is and whether or not he has a girlfriend. (He’s single! Ready, set, go!).

I was at the grocery store yesterday afternoon, and I noticed that the National Enquirer had a big splashy story about James Holmes, the “Dark Knight Shooter. I was sorely tempted to buy a copy, but I resisted. It’s just as well, because I discovered the story was on-line. In case you’re interest, here’s the “scoop” in this week’s Enquirer.


There aren’t a lot of revelations. They quote a fellow student who was supposedly freaked out by Holmes:

by the time he got to graduate school, Holmes had grown into a creepy individual who frightened others just by his presence.

“I’d seen him many times, always walking alone,” a fellow student at the University of Colorado Denver told The ENQUIRER. “He was very odd, walking around with a blank stare on his face like he didn’t see anyone else. Sometimes he was talking to himself, in an angry tone. I would cross the street when I saw him coming.

“He may have been a nerd, but he was tall and muscular which can be very intimidating. I felt like he was the kind of guy you didn’t want to be around if he snapped.”

The article also says that Holmes’ admired Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik.

In emulation of Breivik, Holmes spent the days leading up to his massacre of the innocent by bingeing on Internet sex and real-world drugs. He reportedly took the prescription painkiller Vicodin just before the shootings.

Holmes shared another trait with Breivik – a fascination with the extremely violent video game World of Warcraft.

I’m not sure where they got that. I suppose it could be a law enforcement source–or they could have made it up out of whole cloth.

There are a couple of other sensational stories on Holmes over there–look if you dare.

In other true crime news, the judge in the Drew Peterson case denied the defense’s request for a mistrial, and testimony continued yesterday. Anna Marie Doman, the sister of Peterson’s wife Kathleen Savio, testified that her sister had said that Peterson had threatened to kill her.

“She was afraid,” Doman said. “She said Drew had told her he was going to kill her. She wasn’t going to make it to the divorce settlement, and she wasn’t going to get his pension or the kids.”

After two years of court battles over the issue, it was the first hearsay statement heard by jurors in Peterson’s murder trial, allowing Savio to speak from beyond the grave.

As she described talking with Savio in her Romeoville home in 2004, Doman testified that Savio extracted a promise to take care of her kids, a vow Doman acknowledged she had failed to act upon.

“She made me promise over and over that I was going to take care of the boys,” Doman said. “She said, ‘I want you to say it — you’ll take care of my kids.'”

After a misstep by a defense attorney, Doman also was allowed to testify about a previously excluded statement — that Peterson had told Savio he would kill her and make it look like an accident.

I heard an interesting story on NPR a couple of days ago. It’s an interview with David Niose, a lawyer from Boston who has written a book called Nonbeliever Nation: The Rise of Secular Americans. Here’s the blurb from the show:

The religious right has been a disaster for this country, according to David Niose, president of the American Humanist Association. It has imposed an outsized and overbearing influence on our national politics at the expense of reason, critical thinking, science and ethics. And he goes further, saying the rise of the religious right correlates with an array of social ills — from high rates of violent crime and teen pregnancy to low rates of scientific literacy.

But he says there’s a growing movement to counter the religious right. Secular Americans — non-religious believers who for a long time were marginalized in America — are now emerging as a force to be reckoned with.

While a large majority of Americans say they still believe in God, many are losing faith in organized religion. At the same time, the number of Americans who say they don’t have any religious identity has doubled since 1980.

I hope you’ll give it a listen. There also a link to some excerpts from the book at The Humanist if you’re interested.

I found this interesting piece at Raw Story: Mayans may have used chocolate in cooking 2,500 years ago

When the Spanish conquistadores invaded Mexico 500 years ago, they found the emperor Moctezuma drinking a exotic beverage called xocóatl with his breakfast. Made from ground cacao beans that had been boiled in water, spiced, and beaten to a froth, it was literally the drink of kings, permitted only to rulers and other high aristocrats.

Until now, it has been believed that chocolate was consumed in ancient Mexico only in the form of a beverage and not as a food or condiment. However, that belief has been challenged by the discovery in the Yucatan of a 2,500 year old plate with traces of chocolate residue.

The discovery, which was announced this week by Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History, suggests that present-day Mexican dishes, like the chocolate-based mole sauce often served over meats, may have ancient roots.

Previous excavations have revealed traces of chocolate on drinking vessels used by the Olmecs and other early Mexican cultures as far back as 2000 BC, but this is the first find involving plates.

Smart people, those Mayans.

Now what are your recommendations for weekend reading?