Monday, August 3, 2015

Firedoglake Ends; Shadowproof Begins In Its Place

The End of Firedoglake. The Beginning of Shadowproof. The Bookmark you'll need for Shadowproof in your blogroll.

Thanks to Jane for starting this wonderful site (Firedoglake; farewell!) for people like me, a place where the Democratic Party may be necessary but is unfortunately not enough in our world. Thanks to Kevin Gosztola for grabbing and lifting the torch (Shadowproof, welcome!) on behalf of all that's right Left and decent in American politics. Both of you deserve more than just our thanks for a job well-done... and a job yet to be done. Best wishes in your new endeavor!

(SP will appear here in the blogroll on the left as soon as I can construct an entry for it.)

Sunday, August 2, 2015

TX DPS Agents Guarding State Senate Chamber Must All Be Suffering ‘Time-Of-Month’...

... What else could explain their confiscation of tampons from women entering the state Senate gallery? I mean, it's not as if they're protecting public safety; if they were, they'd be confiscating guns instead... oh, wait, if you have a CHP you can carry your piece right into the gallery. For a moment I mistakenly thought we were in the State of Sanity...

Bribe for
TX Senator?
If all those agents are in such desperate need of tampons, surely it would be a kindness on our part to send them a few, preferably for free (though I'll leave that up to you), preferably unused (though that, too, is optional).

Gift-wrapping is unnecessary. Indeed, the male senators would probably prefer your donation not be made in public (which may be a good reason for you to do exactly that...)

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Bill Bates Passed Away,
Twenty Years Ago Today

Editor of college news-
paper, San Marcos, TX
My father, Bill Bates... trained as a journalist, served in combat in W.W.II in the US Navy, worked as a middle school teacher and guidance counselor (his true calling)... passed away on Aug. 1, 1995. It's been 20 years, but to those of us who loved him, his death aches in our hearts as if it happened yesterday.

A word to the wise, gleaned from Dad's death experience: if you smoke, stop now; if you don't smoke, don't start. Here ends the PSA. [/sigh]

President Carter On American Government Today

Interviewed by Thom Hartmann (YouTube), the venerable former President Jimmy Carter has something to say about the nature of American government today:
... It [the extreme role of money in politics since the Citizens United ruling - SB] violates the essence of what makes America a great country, in its political system. Now it's just an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery being the essence of getting the nominations for president or elected president. And the same thing applies to governors and US senators and Congressmembers. So now we've just seen a complete subversion of our political system as a payoff to major contributors, who want and expect and sometimes get, uh, favors for themselves after the election's over. ...
Please, readers, be sure to listen to the entire interview. And to Mr. Carter: you go, Mr. President! (We all should exhibit such crystal clarity at age 90. Carter was not the greatest president, but he was probably the most honest one since Honest Abe...)

(H/T Sara Jerde at TPM.)

TPP Copyright Trap

As the final tricks... and traps... are inserted into the secret Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) notes that "Officials are now working overtime to finalize the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a secret controversial trade agreement that would trap the U.S. and its partners into excessive copyright term lengths."

That's all we need: more extreme copyright terms of any sort. ABC/Disney has been using copyright for years to protect the Mouse essentially forever; we don't need more of that. Copyright was never intended by our nation's founders to obstruct future generations from creativity based on our own copyrighted creations, but these traps in the TPP appear to do exactly that.

EFF has put up a letter to the Registrar of Copyrights Maria Pallante urging her to thwart these gratuitous extensions of copyright as part of an otherwise truly unfortunate trade agreement (the text of which is still being kept secret from us). Please sign the letter; your descendants will thank you some day.
the TPP ©!

Friday, July 31, 2015

Friday, Esther Sat On My Lap

Warning: the gaze of this cat melts hearts of stone!

(If possible, Esther misses Stella even more than I do. And Lily is inconsolable. Good thing their Human Mom returns Sunday evening!)

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Guardian US Employees Vote... Unanimously... To Unionize

Some people just know how to do it right!

OT, Stella is leaving today for a three-day visit with her brothers and their spouses. This will be the first encounter either of us has had with commercial air travel since, well, since before 9/11/2001, if I recall correctly. [CORRECTION: I remembered at least one other flight Stella made, about the time we moved to Our House.] I don't envy her that encounter, but at least I'm not going along, and Stella, unlike me, is diplomatic enough not to make any sarcastic remarks to the official pokers/prodders, which might be beyond my personal restraint. Meanwhile, the kitties and I are going to find the house mighty quiet until Stella returns...

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

‘Dickless’ Chris Christie Re: States Where Marijuana Is Legal

Sara Jerde at TPM:
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) suggested in a town hall meeting Tuesday that residents of states where marijuana is legal roll their blunts and smoke up before the next presidential inauguration, according to Bloomberg News.

"If you’re getting high in Colorado today, enjoy it,” said Christie, a 2016 presidential candidate, during the town hall meeting in New Hampshire, according to Bloomberg. “As of January 2017, I will enforce the federal laws.


Right. And in reply, all those tokers you're addressing will say to you, "Brainless Fat Boy, beat your dick while you still have it: as of January 2017, you may find it missing..."

The Last Of The Big Flats

A chain pharmacy with a huge presence in Houston carried a truly undistinguished lager named Big Flats, which a quick google tells me has been around since 1901. Starting in the week before Super Bowl Sunday a few years ago and continuing through those years, the pharmacy sold Big Flats really, really cheap, and for good reason. But sometimes a guy (in the gender-nonspecific sense of the term) needs a beer even if that guy is not flush with cash, so over the past few years I've drunk a fair amount of it. Here's a can (and half a glass) of Big Flats sitting on the table next to my reading chair (click the pic for a lager beer, uh, a larger image):

Well, that pharmacy just discontinued selling Big Flats. Since I'm not quite ready to inflect my pitch from Flats to Sharps (which is neither cheap nor alcoholic), I'll be consuming that pharmacy's new cheap beer, Frio, another undistinguished lager and, worse yet, a "light" beer. But I like the pic on the Big Flats can (hmm... based on the pic, is it "a lager for a logger"?), so for pure nostalgia I snapped it in its natural habitat as seen above.

Here's to cheap beer for tough times!

Morning Misc.

And one for fellow Texans...
ADDENDUM: "We have to find a new balance," the Pope is quoted as saying. I am sorry to hear the Pope has lost one of his athletic shoes... <grin_duck_run />

Monday, July 27, 2015

Ms. Klein On Shocks, Mass Privatization, The Second Wave Of Colonialism, Neoliberalism And The Role Of The US

From Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine, pp. 244-5:

The regimes that imposed mass privatization on Argentina and Bolivia were both held up in Washington as examples of how shock therapy could be imposed peacefully and democratically, without coups or repression. Although it's true that they did not begin in a hail of gunfire, it is surely significant that both ended in one.

In much of the Southern Hemisphere, neoliberalism is frequently spoken of as "the second colonial pillage": in the first pillage, the riches were seized from the land, and in the second they were stripped from the state. After every one of these profit frenzies come the promises: next time, there will be firm laws in place before a country's assets are sold off, and the entire process will be watched over by eagle-eyed regulators and investigators with unimpeachable ethics. Next time there will be "institution building" before privatizations (to use the post-Russia parlance). But calling for law and order after the profits have all been moved offshore is really just a way of legalizing the theft ex post facto, much as the European colonizers locked in their land grabs with treaties. Lawlessness on the frontier, as Adam Smith understood, is not the problem but the point, as much a part of the game as the contrite hand-wringing and the pledges to do better next time.
I can't help remembering the many instances detailed by the late, great Howard Zinn in his People's History of the United States, of European (and later European-American) colonizers' land grabs, forcible displacements, uncalled‑for physical abuse and gradual but relentless extermination of the continent's First Peoples. It seems we haven't changed very much since our colonial days. [/sigh]

Shatner: Sen. Cruz's Remark About Kirk ‘Silly’

Awwww, gimme a f^<kin' break!

It's been said before, and knowing the Rethugs, it'll be said again. The only part of it that is true is that a lot of military men and women are GOPers. The related fact not stated by Cruz is that a lot of them are NOT Republicans. I've encountered plenty of each, including some excellent officers, and there is simply no basis for Cruz to go predicting someone's politics from their excellence as an officer.

Get over it, Cruz: your assertion... and you... are full of crap.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Texas Supreme Court Boots Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO)

The ordinance (.pdf) would have prohibited "any type of discrimination based on sex, race, color, ethnicity, national origin, age, familial status, marital status, military status, religion, disability, sexual orientation, genetic information, gender identity, or pregnancy," which are defined as "protected characteristics in city employment, city services, city contracting practices, housing, public accommodations, and private employment": in short, most basic human rights for city employees and contractors, city residents, residents in city public housing, public accommodations (i.e., businesses already obligated to be available to any member of the public who requires their goods and services) and employees of private companies over which the city has jurisdiction. (IANAL; please do not rely on this list, which is for explanatory purposes only, in any legal matters!)

The most frequent objection among opponents comes from people who dislike the ordinance's explicit protection of the rights of LGBTQ people. Heaven forfend that gay people should receive the least shred of human rights from their government, but Dog help them if they fail to pay their taxes. [/sarcasm]

Only in Texas, I hear you murmur (or shout), but I'll bet you a dollar that Texas is only the first among a number of states to void such city ordinances.

Houston has until Aug. 24 to repeal the ordinance or else place it on the November ballot for citizen approval. Again I hear you muttering, that approval will never happen, but I'm not so sure of that; Houston is, or at least has been, the most or second most politically Democratic (cap-D) city in Texas for many years, and it is my perception that all this anti-rights bullcrap is coming from our very Republican state supreme court, not the population at large, certainly not Houston's population.

This invalidation is yet more proof that the Texas Supreme Court, an elected body, is a virtually wholly partisan Republican entity. And to think it used to be the 'publicans who whined about "agenda-based adjudication" ...

AFTERTHOUGHT: I meant to say that it is a really bad sign when any government in a supposedly free and open society institutes laws which specifically remove people's rights rather than protecting them. (Right-wing readers: don't bother giving me that BS about "freedom of religion" ... no matter how many Bible-thumpers proclaim it, genuine "freedom of religion" is NOT equivalent to "freedom to force other people to behave in accordance with your religion." All our nation's founders turn in their graves every time someone asserts that.)

Krugman Quote

I've been reading a rather dated (1999) Krugman book, more for the segment he appended in later editions about the crisis of 2008, but the whole thing has been an education for me, as is usual with his books. Here's the quotation:
"But hype springs eternal..."
— Paul Krugman, The Return of Depression Economics / and the crisis of 2008, p. 146.
You know, I think I really like the guy...

Friday Catch-Up

Too much celebration of Stella's 64th left me in no condition to blog for a couple of days. Here's a list of... uh... stuff... to clear the desktop of things that accumulated:

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Happy Birthday To Stella, From ‘Vera, Chuck And Dave’

Which birthday? This birthday! [YouTube video]

Stella, Steve, Kemah Jazz Festival, 2011
I could spend a whole graf listing Stella's virtues (compassion, intelligence, talent as a painter and writer, etc. etc.), but the daily reality of living with Stella, the one I couldn't ignore if I tried, is that this now 64-year-old woman looks about 32. Or younger. And it's a great-looking 32 she looks... her facial features, complexion, figure and the rest all contribute to my distraction. When asked how she manages to keep her, um, stellar appearance, she invariably replies, "It's all those young male virgins I sacrifice." I have no idea where she finds them in this day and age. Or why, having found them, she continues to hang around with me. My good fortune!

Monday, July 20, 2015

AAAS Science Magazine: Best. Email. List. Evah? They've Convinced Me!

Pluto - Geysers?
(see link below)
You can view the individual emails as web pages; if you do so, they're nearly as full of colorful pics as the magazine itself. (IOW, it's very high-quality advertising... and it may well succeed in selling to me at some point.) The pages appear to be persistent, or else they are regenerated when you return to the links later on, and the content is so overwhelming in quantity that I bookmark most items for later reading.

As an example, here are a few items I found interesting among probably a couple hundred others in recently received list messages; the articles are aimed less at scientists than at educated, fascinated nonscientist readers (you have to learn to tolerate the headline writers):

(H/T NTodd, not for any particular item but for making me aware of the list itself and the online mag behind it.)

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Why A Democratic Doggerelist Wants Donald Trump
As The GOP Presidential Candidate

Bump chump clump dump frump
grump hump jump lump mump(s)
plump pump slump stump sump trump.

About That Planned Parenthood Sting/Hit-Piece Video...

You don't need me to tell you what's known about the video of three "activists" pretending to be from a biomedical research company, talking over a meal with Dr. Deborah Nucatola, senior director of medical services at Planned Parenthood, who clearly had no idea she was talking to anti–choice zealots intent on framing Planned Parenthood. You don't need me because it's been all over the news. But you're about to hear from me anyway. If you don't like what you read, follow the links. If you refuse to contemplate these credible sources, don't blame me.

It depends on the news source you read or view whether you are told that the distributed short video was edited down from a three–hour conversation. The approximately nine–minute, cut–and–paste, highly edited hit piece, which apparently is the version most people have seen, does not lead a reasonable person to the same conclusion as the three–hour video. Many who have seen both versions say the short version is crap. But it is crap that could affect congressional votes on funding for women's health organizations... and not just Planned Parenthood; apparently the Susan G. Komen for the Cure non–profit is being hit as well for its financial support to Planned Parenthood even though that support is NOT abortion–related at all.

In any case, here is a short reading list you may find helpful in understanding Dr. Nucatola's rather astringent rendering of a sensitive subject (she thought she was talking to other physicians, and believe me, from my own experience, such astringency is the way docs talk among themselves) and why I consider what these three domestic terrorists did as nothing less than murder–by–proxy, or at least assault–by–proxy, of all the women (tens of thousands? hundreds of thousands? more?) to whom reproductive health care services were available only through Planned Parenthood or similar clinics:

Saturday, July 18, 2015

‘ACLU Loses Lawsuit In An Attempt To Force Catholic Hospital’ To Save Tamesha Means's Life

The post subject is my deliberate and hostile parody of the hed at LifeNews (sorry, no link from here) which concluded "to do abortions." Personally I have zero problems with the notion that a hospital should be "force[d]" to take all medically responsible measures to save a woman's life... or take down its bloody shingle and get out of the medical business. Yeah, I know: YMMV...

Here is the ACLU's page on the lawsuit they lost, Tamesha Means v. United States Conference of Catholic Bishops... that is, if you're even looking for another possible interpretation. The guys in the reddish robes and beanies, the ones with huge chips on their shoulders, certainly aren't.

Some will doubtless say I am hostile to religion and to religious rights. F^<k that; I have even been an official member of a denomination that included several US presidents in history. No, what I am hostile to is hospitals that knowingly deprive women of treatment, of knowledge about their condition, of even the ethical minimum... referral to another hospital or clinic where they will be helped... hospitals that send women home to die without medical care. THAT is what I am hostile to, and proud of it.

For your consideration, here is an opinion piece about "The Top 5 Scariest Things Catholic Bishops Have Said About Women." It is written by a woman, not an old man in a beanie... you gotta problem with that?

Friday, July 17, 2015

Handel: Water Music And Music For The Royal Fireworks — BBC Proms 2012

I have a lot to say about these two works and this performance, but perhaps first you should just take an hour out of your day (a well-spent hour, surely — actually more!) to listen to this performance by Le Concert Spirituel conducted by Monsieur Hervé Niquet. The word for the day, the word for this orchestra, this conductor and (to a much lesser degree) this festive music is "idiosyncratic," and I'm going to let you go to the music before I say anything more:

I'll be back sometime this weekend. There will be a quiz. Here's a sample question for you:

George Frideric (or Frederick) Handel (born Georg Friedrich Händel) was
  1. German
  2. Italian
  3. British
  4. All of the above
  5. None of the above

(Answer: 4. Look it up. Or Mother Wikipedia will tell you. Born Halle, Duchy of Magdeburg, Holy Roman Empire; studied in Halle, Hamburg and Italy; lived out his life and fulfilled his promise in a surpassing wonderful career in London.)

UPDATE: forget about the quiz. If people are disinclined to read this blog already, what will they do when confronted with the classroom of their youth? Right. I'd rather keep the two readers I have left.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

My Wishes For George H.W. Bush's Speedy Recovery

According to reports, he fractured a neck vertebra in a fall at home in Maine. Notwithstanding the vast distance between his politics and mine, and his apparent attempt to start a dynasty of US monarchs presidents, I bear him no ill will, and hope he is able to stick around for many years to come.

(... as a bad example...)

Static Pages (About, Quotes, etc.)

No Police Like H•lmes