Yesterday we had a sort-of mini-family-reunion at my mother’s house in Indiana. We wanted to get a bunch of us together to celebrate my mom’s 89th birthday. I’ve been here for a few weeks already. I had to stay a little longer than I was planning to after my mom broke her wrist.
My brother and his wife and two sons are visiting from Boston, another brother came with his son from Illinois, my sister and her husband came from Indianapolis, and my niece and her husband and son also came from Indianapolis. Only one of my sisters wasn’t here.
It was a lot of fun. We broke out mom’s croquet set, and sat outside talking for hours. My brother John (the one from Boston area) cooked a fantastic meal of grilled steak, roasted potatoes and veggies, and salad; and afterwards we had a birthday cake that my niece from Indy had designed. Across the top was a pastry scrabble board with words like “grandma, mother, birthday on it. (My mom is a scrabble and crossword fan and she recently started a scrabble group with two of her friends).
The day was a reminder to me that family is just about the most important thing in life. I didn’t get that when I was younger and just wanted to get away to a more interesting place; but as I get older, it feels more and more true. Now I understand why my grandparents organized big family “reunions” when I was a kid. In our Catholic family, everyone had lots of kids and we would have huge get-togethers with 30+ kids all running around wildly and adults drinking eating and reminiscing.
But enough about me, let’s see what’s happening the news.
We lost a legendary musician yesterday. Rolling Stone reports: Soul Legend Bobby Womack Dead at 70.
Bobby Womack, the legendary soul singer whose career spanned seven decades, died Friday at age 70. A representative for Womack’s label XL Recordings confirmed the singer’s death to Rolling Stone, but said the cause of death was currently unknown.
The son of two musicians, Womack began his career as a member of Curtis Womack and the Womack Brothers with his siblings Curtis, Harry, Cecil and Friendly Jr. After Sam Cooke signed the group to his SAR Records in 1960, they released a handful of gospel singles before changing their name to the Valentinos and earning success with a more secular, soul- and pop-influenced sound. In 1964, one month after the Valentinos released their hit “It’s All Over Now,” the Rolling Stones put out their version, which went to Number One on the U.K. singles charts.
Three months after the death of Cooke in 1964, Womack married Cooke’s widow, Barbara Campbell, and the Valentinos disbanded after the collapse of SAR Records. After leaving the group, Womack became a session musician, playing guitar on several albums, including Aretha Franklin’s landmark Lady Soul, before releasing his debut album, Fly Me to the Moon, in 1968. A string of successful R&B albums would follow, including Understanding and Across 110th Street, both released in 1972, 1973’s Facts of Life and 1974’s Lookin for a Love Again.
After the death of his brother, Harry, in 1974, Womack’s career stalled, but was revived in 1981 with the R&B hit “If You Think You’re Lonely Now.” Throughout most of the Eighties, the singer struggled with drug addiction, eventually checking himself into a rehabilitation center for treatment. A series of health problems would follow, including diabetes,pneumonia, colon cancer and the early signs of Alzheimer’s disease, though it was unclear if any of these ailments contributed to his death. Womack was declared cancer-free in 2012.
Read the rest at the RS link.
Read a collection of tweets in praise of Womack from The Guardian: Stars pay tribute to the great Bobby Womack.
At the Washington Post, Simon Waxman of the Boston Review has a worthwhile op-ed about the continuing scandal of the Washington Redskins’ refusal to deal with the inherent racism of their team name: The U.S. military’s ongoing slur of Native Americans.
Resistance to the Washington Redskins team name has ebbed and flowed over the years, but thanks in part to letters from 50 senators to the team’s owner, Dan Snyder, and last week’s decision by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to rescind the team’s trademark registration, the campaign to get rid of it has renewed urgency.
Snyder has shrugged off complaints about the name, even claiming that “redskins” is a “badge of honor.” Team president Bruce Allen, protesting too much, says the name “has always been respectful of and shown reverence toward the proud legacy and traditions of Native Americans.”
The team and the NFL are under a great deal of pressure right now,
But even if the NFL and Redskins brass come to their senses and rename the team, a greater symbolic injustice would continue to afflict Indians — an injustice perpetuated not by a football club but by our federal government.
In the United States today, the names Apache, Comanche, Chinook, Lakota, Cheyenne and Kiowa apply not only to Indian tribes but also to military helicopters. Add in the Black Hawk, named for a leader of the Sauk tribe. Then there is the Tomahawk, a low-altitude missile, and a drone named for an Indian chief, Gray Eagle. Operation Geronimo was the end of Osama bin Laden.
Why do we name our battles and weapons after people we have vanquished? For the same reason the Washington team is the Redskins and my hometown Red Sox go to Cleveland to play the Indians and to Atlanta to play the Braves: because the myth of the worthy native adversary is more palatable than the reality — the conquered tribes of this land were not rivals but victims, cheated and impossibly outgunned.
The destruction of the Indians was asymmetric war, compounded by deviousness in the name of imperialist manifest destiny. White America shot, imprisoned, lied, swindled, preached, bought, built and voted its way to domination. Identifying our powerful weapons and victorious campaigns with those we subjugated serves to lighten the burden of our guilt. It confuses violation with a fair fight.
It’s an excellent essay. I hope the powers that be will get the message.
Another op-ed at The New York Times argues against popular claims that marijuana is an effective treatment for untold numbers of illnesses: Politicians Prescriptions for Marijuana Defy Doctors and Data. It appears that the NYT has fixed it’s website so that you can’t copy and paste anything anymore, so you’ll need to go to the link to read the article by Catherine St. Louis. It’s quite interesting and compelling.
What the hell is going on down in Mississippi. I haven’t been following the story closely, but this is stunning: Tea party leader Mayfield dies in apparent suicide.
Attorney Mark Mayfield was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound Friday at his Ridgeland home.
Mayfield, vice chairman of the Mississippi Tea Party, was one of three men charged with conspiring with Clayton Kelly to photograph U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran’s bedridden wife in her nursing home to use in a political video against Cochran in the Republican Senate primary against state Sen. Chris McDaniel.
Ridgeland police said they received a 911 call at 9:03 a.m. from a woman who said her husband had just shot himself.
Officers responded to the home on Cherry Laurel Lane in the Bridgewater subdivision at 9:07 a.m. and were directed by Mayfield’s wife to a storage room in the garage.
Officers found Mayfield lying on the floor with a single gunshot wound to his head, according to a Ridgeland Police Department statement. Police found a “large caliber revolver” near the body. “The death is classified as a death investigation-pending, due to an awaiting autopsy to be performed at an undetermined time.” ….
Mayfield of Ridgeland, an attorney and state and local tea party leader, was arrested by the Madison police Department last month along with Richard Sager, a Laurel elementary school P.E. teacher and high school soccer coach. Police said they also charged John Beachman Mary of Hattiesburg, but he was not taken into custody because of “extensive medical conditions.” All face felony conspiracy charges. Sager also was charged with felony tampering with evidence, and Mary faces two conspiracy counts.
Much more at the link.
Even more bizarre, Buzzfeed’s Andrew Kaczynski reports: McDaniel Campaign Staffer Blames Tea Party’s Leader Suicide On Political Opponents.
The strange and ugly Mississippi Republican Senate primary turned tragic when Mark Mayfield was found dead Friday. Mayfield was a lawyer and board member of the Central Mississippi tea party and one of the alleged conspirators in the case surrounding the break-in and photographing of incumbent Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran’s bedridden wife in her nursing home.
Mayfield’s death was an apparent suicide, according to reports.
On Twitter, one high-level McDaniel staffer, policy director Keith Plunkett wrote:
“A good man is gone today bc of a campaign to destroy lives. To all “so called” Republican leaders who joined lockstep: I WILL NOT REST!”
More tweets at Buzzfeed.
I’m going to end there, because there are numerous relative milling around me wondering why I’m typing on a computer instead of joining the group. What stories are you following today? Please share your thoughts and links on the comment thread.
Guess you can tell from the title of this post, animals will play a feature role in today’s reads. Right now here in Banjoville the skies are opening up and raining down cats and dogs. Loud thunder is shaking the house, and that means lightning…real bad lightning…so I best make this post short and sweet. So here are your morning reads in link dump fashion.
Well, down in Miami the police roughed up a kid who was holding a puppy because he looked at them funny. I should say not funny as in funny amusing, but as they put it….”dehumanizing.”
Miami-Dade Police allegedly handcuffed and choked a 14 year old boy while he was carrying a newborn puppy for giving them a “dehumanizing” stare. A court case over the incident will begin on July 16th.
Tremaine McMillian was, by his account, playing on a beach with a friend and his puppy on the Miami boardwalk when police came over to tell them to stop “roughousing.” Though the police later admitted the boys’ activity was neither criminal nor violent, they asked the boys where their parents were. McMillian directed the officers to his nearby mother, and that’s where the family and the police’s story diverge.
McMillian and his mother, Maurissa Holmes, say the police chased down McMillian on ATVs and attacked him essentially without provocation. “The police officers were on their ATVs, and my son was walking,” Holmes said. “They jumped off their ATVs, grabbed him and slammed him to the ground.”
You can read the police’s version at the link, you can also see video of the arrest as well…there are some discrepancies however…pointed out by Tommy Christopher…check this out.
…there’s another painfully adorable detail that was left out of that report. Here’s what Miami-Dade Police Detective Alvaro Zabaletatold CBS 4:
Miami-Dade Police Detective Alvaro Zabaleta told D’Oench it was just after 11:00 am on Memorial Day on Haulover Beach when officers saw McMillian slamming another teenager on to the sand.
“They told him that behavior was unacceptable,” said Zabaleta. “He walked away and officers followed him. They asked where his parents were. He said he was not going to take them to them. When he started to leave the beach area, officers had to get off their ATVs to detain him. He had closed arms, clenched fists and pulled his arm away.”
“Once he was approaching the road, the officers restrained him. Again his body language was that he was stiffening up and pulling away,” said Zabaleta. “Now you’re resisting officers at that point and when the hands are swinging and you are resisting officers, at that point you have to be taken into custody.”
“Of course we have to neutralize the threat,” said Zabaleta. “When you have somebody resistant to them and pulling away and somebody clenching their fists and flailing their arms, that’s a threat.”
He said the police report did not indicate that a puppy was involved.
“At that point we are not concerned with a puppy,” said Zabaleta. “We are concerned with the threat to the officer.”
So, the police don’t seem to be disputing that the puppy was there, just that he didn’t merit inclusion in the report. But if the puppy was there, then how do police explain this?
“How could I be clenching my fists when I was taking care of my puppy and giving him some milk with a bottle?” asked McMillian.
I mean the kid was giving the newborn puppy a bottle of milk…WTF?
Shit…with the way law enforcement authorities are reporting things lately, that bottle of milk could have been a rocket launcher and the puppy? Well that was no puppy, that was a dwarf Muslim terrorist, hey….don’t mistake that fur for the towel on his head. /snark
I want to bring this story to your attention, it is about pigs but not the real animals. U.S. Naval Academy football players investigated for sexual assault | Reuters
Three members of the U.S. Naval Academy football team are being investigated for the alleged sexual assault of a female student, the Pentagon said on Friday, the latest in a string of scandals that have thrown a spotlight on sex crimes in the military.
The alleged incident took place in April 2012, when the student attended a party at the off-campus “football house” in Annapolis, Maryland and became intoxicated, her attorney, Susan Burke, said in a statement.
“She 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,” Burke said, without identifying her client by name.
No charges have been brought forth yet, this is still being investigated.
Burke said that one of the football players pressured the woman not to cooperate with an initial investigation into the case. She initially followed that advice, but was still “ostracized and retaliated against by the football players and the Naval Academy community.” She was also disciplined for drinking, Burke said in a statement.
In early 2013, the female student decided to seek legal help and the Navy re-opened the investigation, Burke said.
“Over time, the midshipman began to recover from the trauma, and became angered at the lack of justice and retaliation in her case,” she said.
I am sure that this investigation will eventually end up like these cases usually do. But with the congressional hearings coming up…maybe there will be a fire under the ass of these military brass and justice will finally take a front seat and not get molested like so many of these women service members.
Here is yet another article about shitty pay and what it does to the economy. One Walmart’s Low Wages Could Cost Taxpayers $900,000 Per Year, House Dems Find
Then you have the other side of the coin, y’all heard that Tumblr was sold to Yahoo for 1.1 billion dollars…check this out: Tumblr’s Creative Director Quits
On to something more interesting, these next two links are about different things…but deal with the same subject.
First, this article from the New York Times: Justice Dept. Reports Rise in Prosecutions on Indian Lands
The Justice Department said this week that it had increased its rate of criminal prosecutions in Indian country by more than 50 percent in the past four years, a period in which violent crime on the nation’s Indian reservations has soared and tribes have complained of lawlessness.
The data, part of a Justice Department report released Thursday, found that United States attorneys had prosecuted about 69 percent of the 3,145 criminal cases referred to their offices from Indian country last year — an improvement over 2011, when the federal government tried 63 percent of 2,840 criminal cases in Indian country.
The report comes amid a wave of violent crime on Indian lands and criticism of the Justice Department by tribal officials who say United States attorneys pursue far too few violent criminal cases on reservations.
Prosecutors say they must decline many Indian country cases — about 60 percent of the total — because of a lack of evidence.
The feds usually prosecute murder, rape and white-collar crimes, but these numbers are a bit confusing because there is a new law that went into effect which includes various other violent crimes.
Previous government data have cited violent crimes, which presented a more pessimistic picture: that the Justice Department files charges in only about half of Indian country murder investigations and one-third of sexual assault cases. The data also showed the number of prosecutions by United States attorneys of violent crimes fell by 3 percent from 2000 to 2010, even as crime on some reservations increased by 50 percent or more.
But the report released this week does not separate the number of federal prosecutions for violent crimes. Instead, the report groups them with drug cases and white-collar crime.
On Friday, Wyn Hornbuckle, a Justice Department spokesman, said the analysis did not specify figures for violent crime because the department was not required to do so by the Tribal Law and Order Act, a 2010 law that mandates that the department release prosecution rates in Indian country. (This week’s report is the agency’s first since the law went into effect.)
I guess these reports are just like any other reports out there, what the hell do they really tell us? And do they exist so people can twist these department figures to their advantage, and by doing that manipulate the dialogue to justify their own agenda. (I know the answer to that…)
The other link is this: Do Mascots Need Modernizing? « The Dish
Earlier this week, ten members of Congress sent a letter to the front office of the Washington Redskins, pushing them to select a new mascot:
In this day and age, it is imperative that you uphold your moral responsibility to disavow the usage of racial slurs. The usage of the “R-word” is especially harmful to Native American youth, tending to lower their sense of dignity and self-esteem. It also diminishes feelings of community worth among the Native American tribes and dampens the aspirations of their people. We look forward to working with you to find a solution to this important matter.
This is something that I am hesitant to get involved in. I am no fan of the Atlanta Braves, but they also have an Indian mascot. There is talk of getting the government involved, like previous strategy used by the JFK admin when the Redskins owners would not integrate the team. See the JFKs guys would not allow the Redskins on the stadium property because it was federal land…however,
Doug Mataconis disagrees with the liberal lawmakers’ strategy:
I have to wonder why this is something that Members of Congress need to be getting involved in, or why legislation is necessary to address something that is, in the end, a private business matter.
The people who don’t like the name are free to protest it. Dan Snyder and the rest of Redskins ownership are free to reject their pleas. If there ever comes a time when the public sympathizes with the protesters, then perhaps the team will feel the kind of economic pressure most likely to cause them to change positions, then we’ll likely see a name change of some kind.
Personally, I think the odds of that happening are pretty remote. The Redskins name has been in existence now since 1933 when the football version of the Boston Braves changed its name to Boston Redskins before moving to Washington, D.C. several years later. We’re not that far away from the 100th anniversary of that name. It’s going to be around for a long time to come, and I’m just fine with that.
Well, the Redskins play on the FedEx field in Maryland now…and it isn’t on Federal land. Like I said, I don’t know how I feel about this…guess we will talk about it in the comments below.
Ralph posted a link to an article about the DOJ Press Leaks by Walter Pincus last week in the comments and I thought everyone would appreciate this response from the ACLU. (I remembered the name Pincus because of Seinfeld…and Kramer, “Poor little Pincus.”) Anyway: Responding to The Washington Post’s Walter Pincus on Leaks and Shield Laws | American Civil Liberties Union
A bit of Manhattan History for those of you who are the nostalgic types: 1930s New York subway train makes rare trip from Queens to Manhattan
May 30, 2013: In this photo provided by the New York Mass Transit Administration, an unidentified MTA employee checks the platform from between the cars of a 1930’s era subway train in the Queens borough of New York. (AP/Mass Transit Administration)
Lucky straphangers who happened to be in the right place at the right time on Thursday got to ride in eight subway cars purchased between 1930 and 1939.
The Metropolitan Transit Authority says some of the cars were taken out of the New York Transit Museum to commemorate the opening of a stretch of subway tracks badly damaged during Superstorm Sandy.
After the ceremony, the cars were put into regular passenger service for one quick trip from Queens to upper Manhattan.
Riders on board the train took pictures and gawked at its old-school style. Ads for Clark bars, fireworks shows on Coney Island and Levy’s Rye Bread adorned the walls.
More history for you, this is Breaking Bad meets Inglorious Basturds: Crystal Meth Origins Link Back to Nazi Germany and World War II – SPIEGEL ONLINE
Crystal meth is notorious for being highly addictive and ravaging countless communities. But few know that the drug can be traced back to Nazi Germany, where it first became popular as a way to keep pilots and soldiers alert in battle during World War II.
“Alertness aid” read the packaging, to be taken “to maintain wakefulness.” But “only from time to time,” it warned, followed by a large exclamation point.
The young soldier, though, needed more of the drug, much more. He was exhausted by the war, becoming “cold and apathetic, completely without interests,” as he himself observed. In letters sent home by the army postal service, he asked his family to send more. On May 20, 1940, for example, he wrote: “Perhaps you could obtain some more Pervitin for my supplies?” He found just one pill was as effective for staying alert as liters of strong coffee. And — even better — when he took the drug, all his worries seemed to disappear. For a couple of hours, he felt happy.
This 22-year-old, who wrote numerous letters home begging for more Pervitin, was not just any soldier — he was Heinrich Böll, who would go on to become one of Germany’s leading postwar writers and win a Nobel Prize for literature in 1972. And the drug he asked for is now illegal, notoriously so. We now know it as crystal meth.
Man, that is some fucked up shit.
Alright, since we touched on chemistry…here is a link that ties in perfectly. Molecule Chemical Bond Images From UC Berkeley | Geekosystem
Have you ever looked at a textbook diagram of the chemical bonds that make up molecules and thought to yourself, “This is just a dumb drawing — how do they know what it even looks like in real life?” Well stop it. Stop it right now. Felix Fischer of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is going to show you what it looks like with these gorgeous high-resolution images of individual carbon atoms linking together. And guess what? They look just like they do in the textbooks. Happy now?
I swear I had no idea these things really looked like this! Did you? Go to the link to read the rest. Amazing.
Back now to my own comfort zone: ‘Amazingly rare’ letter written by Robert the Bruce to Edward II found (But I gotta say, I hated the movie Braveheart!)
An unknown and “amazingly rare” letter written by Robert the Bruce at a pivotal point of the Wars of Scottish Independence has been uncovered by a Scottish academic.
In the letter, the fearsome Scottish warrior appeals to the English King Edward II for an end to “persecution and disturbance”. It was sent in 1310, less than four years before Bannockburn, the victory that paved the way for Scottish independence.
Dauvit Broun, professor of Scottish History at the University of Glasgow, found the letter in The British Library while studying a manuscript written by the monks of Kirkstall Abbey about 500 years ago. The correspondence happened to be copied by the monks into their manuscript, the original has not survived.
Professor Broun said: “It’s amazingly rare, a freak survival. There’s nothing like this that survives from around that time.”
Listen to the tone of Robert the Bruce…
Bruce wrote to “beseech” the king that “you would take pains to cease from our persecution and the disturbance of the people of our kingdom in order that devastation and the spilling of a neighbour’s blood may henceforth stop.”
Take a look at the rest of the article at the link. I wish they had printed the full letter. I would have loved to read the whole thing myself.
Real quick archeology links:
Earlier this week I linked to the female mammoth with flowing blood that was found in Siberia…well, this was another cool “ice age” related article that I was planning on sharing with you: Centuries-old frozen plants revived
Plants that were frozen during the “Little Ice Age” centuries ago have been observed sprouting new growth, scientists say.
Samples of 400-year-old plants known as bryophytes have flourished under laboratory conditions.
Researchers say this back-from-the-dead trick has implications for how ecosystems recover from the planet’s cyclic long periods of ice coverage. The findings appear in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The receding glaciers are exposing land that has not seen daylight since the mini ice age.
Bryophytes are different from the land plants that we know best, in that they do not have vascular tissue that helps pump fluids around different parts of the organism.
They can survive being completely desiccated in long Arctic winters, returning to growth in warmer times, but Dr La Farge was surprised by an emergence of bryophytes that had been buried under ice for so long.
“When we looked at them in detail and brought them to the lab, I could see some of the stems actually had new growth of green lateral branches, and that said to me that these guys are regenerating in the field, and that blew my mind,” she told BBC News.
“If you think of ice sheets covering the landscape, we’ve always thought that plants have to come in from refugia around the margins of an ice system, never considering land plants as coming out from underneath a glacier.”
But the retreating ice at Sverdrup Pass, where the Teardrop Glacier is located, is uncovering an array of life, including cyanobacteria and green terrestrial algae. Many of the species spotted there are entirely new to science.
And from that story of new life from ancient plants to a post in The Atlantic, I will just put it here because…well, you all will see why: Why the Boomers Are the Most Hated Generation – Edward Tenner – The Atlantic (Look at the comments, some of them are funny and vicious indeed.)
While you “feast” on that, take a look at this op/ed from the LA Times…Jefferson Davis’ ‘presidential’ library – It offers a rallying point for the myth of a gentle and just South dragged into the War of Northern Aggression.
And then…think about that little island in the Mediterranean for all us Sky Dancers to escape to: The island of long life – On the Greek island of Ikaria, life is sweet… and very, very long. So what is the locals’ secret?
BTW, did you see my man Samuel L Jackson and his latest video? Samuel L. Jackson Quitting Acting To Pursue A ‘Life Of Vigilantism’? | Mediaite
Samuel L. Jacksonsubmitted a challenge to the Reddit community this week. “It’s simple,” he wrote, “write 300 words and the most upvoted post I’ll read out loud in monologue form.” Today, Jackson posted the winning monologue video and it was just as “bad-ass” as promised.
“Hi, I’m Samuel L. Jackson,” he began, “I’m sorry to disappoint you, Reddit, but I’ve decided to break the rules of my own competition.” From there, the actor said he wanted to “speak to you all from my own heart, in my own words” before announcing that he was “quitting acting and pursuing a life of vigilantism.” Fortunately for fans of one of America’s most prolific actors, this was all part of the winning submission from Reddit user adiddy.
I love this mutha…
Jackson set up the unconventional contest to help raise money for the Alzheimer’s Association, and revealed on Reddit that the campaign had raised over $130,000. Everyone who donated was entered to win lunch with Jackson and a trip to his UK celebrity golf tournament.
The whole thing almost got “derailed by the internet forum 4Chan”but here it is…
Whoa….ooooeeee, that dude is awesome.
Now for the animals.
Farmers shear an alpaca at a zoo in Shijiazhuang, Hebei province, May 30, 2013…
Scrawny under all that fleece aren’t they. I just got one thing to say, that alpaca is not getting sheared by someone looking to spin the fiber into yarn. What a waste! Butcher of a job…
What a difference….those of you inclined to fiber fun, check out the video and watch these guys get sheared.
And see how the fiber is prepared:
Alright then, moving on to the penguins.
To greet African leaders arriving for conference in Japan, event organizers force group of Penguins to dress up in ‘African’ costumes …
And finally, meet Chris P. Bacon: The wheelchair pig
A Florida veterinarian who fashioned a wheelchair for his pet pig has just signed a three-book publishing deal on the life and adventures of his little friend he named Chris P. Bacon.
That’ll do pig. Oh he is so damn cute.
Geez, 3360 words later, short and sweet my ass!
That should keep everyone busy, now some of you will have storms to look out for today, so stay alert: Severe Weather Warnings Page
And if you are around, stop and leave a comment or two….have a wonderful day!