Monday, March 30, 2015

Well, Du-uh... America Now Oligarchy, Not Democracy — Princeton Study

Brendan James at TPM:
A new study from Princeton spells bad news for American democracy—namely, that it no longer exists.

Asking "[w]ho really rules?" researchers Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page argue that over the past few decades America's political system has slowly transformed from a democracy into an oligarchy, where wealthy elites wield most power.

Using data drawn from over 1,800 different policy initiatives from 1981 to 2002, the two conclude that rich, well-connected individuals on the political scene now steer the direction of the country, regardless of or even against the will of the majority of voters.

Mr. James appears to be a young man, but damn, he's learning fast...

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Naomi Klein On Oil Prices, Fossil Fuel Divestment, Better Climate Movement

Some of you know that my admiration for Naomi Klein is such that when my attempt to place a hold at Houston Public Library on her newest book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate, failed, I actually promptly purchased the book, far out of my planned sequence of books to buy. Knowing that, it should hardly surprise you that I found an interview of Klein by May Boeve, executive director of, at a conference on divestment as an activist tactic, to be well worth reading. The interview is in three parts, dealing with oil prices, how to build a better climate movement, and fossil fuel divestment.

And if any old geezer (like me) says "they don't make activists like they used to," point them to Ms. Klein as an example: no, they don't make 'em like they used to; they make 'em better.

Global Climate Change: The Science CANNOT Be Treated As A Matter Of Religion... Or Politics

Tim McDonnell at Grist:
Scientists and science journalists like to say that one of the best ways to tell that climate change is real is to take a look at the changes we can already see: This year is on track to be the hottest ever recorded, and glaciers, corn, and even grizzly bears are responding to the warming. But all those shifts won’t be enough to convince most conservative climate skeptics, a new study in Nature Climate Change finds.

A growing body of recent research suggests a person’s political ideology, economic philosophy, and religious beliefs tend to overwhelm observed facts about global warming. The new study, which was released Monday, put that hypothesis to the test by analyzing Gallup polls taken just after the unusually warm winter of 2012. It found that both Democrats’ and Republicans’ perceptions of the warmer weather in their state tracked fairly well with actual satellite temperature data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. But “for people who said their local winter was warming, the observed temperature anomalies had no effect on the tendency to attribute that to global warming,” explains Aaron McCright, a sociologist at Michigan State University who authored the study.

In other words, the actual temperature had no bearing on whether people believed in climate change. Instead, McCright says, “one of the strongest predictors” is party affiliation: Republicans were far less likely to attribute the warming they felt to human-made climate change than were Democrats. Other variables — gender, age, and level of education — were far less reliable as predictors of a person’s global warming beliefs.

NASA Temp's Feb 2015
(hottest on record)
This result aligns with my personal observations: Republicans or conservatives with whom I am still on speaking terms (i.e., those who are not so irrational moment-to-moment as to preclude reasonable conversation) frequently take the attitude, "You believe one thing; I believe another. So it's a matter of faith, and in America, we have a constitutional requirement to treat all faiths equally under the law. So my belief is as good as your belief, and I don't have to change my life to conform to your belief."

There's literally no arguing with that. But it's wrong.

Florida Sea Level Rise
The problem is, the physical universe does not operate on that basis. Its actual physical behavior, on the grandest and the most microscopic scales, takes no account of what anyone "believes" in a religious sense of the term. The physics of the universe is not a matter of faith, nor an issue to be decided democratically. And that's what we're talking about here: conservatives treat global climate change as if it were a matter of religion.
It's going to be a long, hot century...

Saturday, March 28, 2015

What Freedom Of Religion? Two Daily Kos Posts That Make Me Glad I Just Renewed My ACLU Membership

The part of America's Constitution that we today call the First Amendment begins by getting right to the point:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; ...
This should be a
very small intersection indeed!
This isn't conceptually difficult: you (Congress, and through the Fourteenth Amendment, state legislatures) can't enact laws that require a government at any level to prescribe a specific body of religious belief which everyone must affirm, nor enact laws that use taxpayers' money to support such a belief, or support the activities of a religious institution or denomination.

But more and more members of Congress, state legislators, state governors, etc., all of them Republican, appear to be incapable of comprehending this simple prohibition: if it's religious, you can't use the government to compel it, prohibit it, fund it, etc.

A couple of examples turned up on Kos in the span of the past week alone. Please read them for a better idea of what these dominionists seem determined to do:
You can say of these people that they are simply unclear on the concept expressed in the "free expression" clause of the First Amendment. I do not believe that. They understand it just fine; they simply don't like it... and they intend to try to violate it (or pretend to try to violate it), as a song-and-dance for their fundamentalist Christian constituents. In other words, they are un‑American.

Got that? Good! Now do what you can to put a stop to it. For example, I keep my ACLU membership up to date. When the great State of Texas tried a few years ago to prohibit my denomination from using its state tax exemption, which to comply with the First Amendment must be available to every religion, the ACLU set them straight. In court!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Kepler Project Finds Earth-Comparable Planet In Star's Habitable Zone

Via ellroon (again!), we read, spellbound, as NASA informs us of the Kepler mission's first "hit" of exactly the sort everyone hoped it would make... not exactly a new event (almost a year old, in fact), but I just noticed it:
Using NASA's Kepler Space Telescope, astronomers have discovered the first Earth-size planet orbiting a star in the "habitable zone" -- the range of distance from a star where liquid water might pool on the surface of an orbiting planet. The discovery of Kepler-186f confirms that planets the size of Earth exist in the habitable zone of stars other than our sun.

While planets have previously been found in the habitable zone, they are all at least 40 percent larger in size than Earth and understanding their makeup is challenging. Kepler-186f is more reminiscent of Earth.

"The discovery of Kepler-186f is a significant step toward finding worlds like our planet Earth," said Paul Hertz, NASA's Astrophysics Division director at the agency's headquarters in Washington. "Future NASA missions, like the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite and the James Webb Space Telescope, will discover the nearest rocky exoplanets and determine their composition and atmospheric conditions, continuing humankind's quest to find truly Earth-like worlds."

Hot-damn! First we discovered a planet orbiting around another star. Then over the years we found hundreds of planets of different fundamental types orbiting around many stars. Now we're seeing something not too different from Earth, though many particulars are not yet known.

I always knew this day would come; what I didn't know is that the discovery would be made within my lifetime... 

(For interested parties, NASA offers some simple explanations about how Kepler accomplishes the detection of exoplanets. And please view visuals on the linked sites; I can't do them justice here with my self-imposed file size limits.)

Monday, March 23, 2015

Wisconsin Republican: Weekends For Me, None For Thee!

To be fair, I must say that not every state has a law requiring all businesses, or businesses over a certain size, etc., to give employees a weekend day off. But Wisconsin is currently such a state.

Wisconsin Republicans want to change that. Why? It's bound to be an unpopular change. I suppose it's "anything to stiff a union" ...

The Republican state senator sponsoring the bill is named Van Wanggaard. If he pushes this bill through, he damned well better guard it; someone whose weekend he trashed might well go after it with a stick, or worse...

One Person's Collection Of Favorite Terry Pratchett Quotes

Via the indispensable Avedon, we have BuzzFeed staff writer Kaye Toal's illustrated personal collection of her favorite quotes from the late (sob!) Sir Terry Pratchett. See how many of them correspond with your own; realize once again the depth of Pratchett's human understanding and his unparalleled and indefatigable ability to express that understanding in words meaningful to everyone.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Why Is Papa Pizza A Republican?

Paul Krugman has an answer of sorts, and I suppose it's plausible, though the whole notion that pizza is partisan strikes me as... ahem... un-American. (Except pizza from Papa John's, of course... now that's partisan... RWNJ-partisan! [CORRECTION: Pizza Hut is even MORE Republican than Papa John's!])

Here's Krugman:
No, really. A recent Bloomberg report noted that major pizza companies have become intensely, aggressively partisan. Pizza Hut gives a remarkable 99 percent of its money to Republicans. Other industry players serve Democrats a somewhat larger slice of the pie (sorry, couldn’t help myself), but, over all, the politics of pizza these days resemble those of, say, coal or tobacco. ...

I'd be willing to bet that if you assessed the pizza Americans eat according to a single categorization, pizza shop or grocery store, you could still detect the partisan difference. Most of the pizza I eat is from the grocer. These days, who can afford to order a fancy pizza out? Republicans, that's who! (YMMV. Just an opinion.)

Loretta Lynch Confirmation Held Up... And Held Up... And...

... held up, by the GOP, of course. Pretty much everyone admits she is well-qualified and will be confirmed if she ever gets a vote in the Senate.

At this point, according to President Obama (heard here on CNN), her nomination has been held up "longer than the five previous attorney general nominees combined" [note: Yahoo! News says seven, not five] delayed each time on an issue completely unrelated either to Lynch herself or to the Attorney General's office, each issue deliberately introduced by the GOP to prevent any advancement of the confirmation process.

Maybe this is politics as usual.

Or maybe this is further evidence that today's GOP is incapable of governing.


Apparently it's a short list, and this, from Bruce Schneier, didn't make it:
Last May, we learned that the NSA intercepts equipment being shipped around the world and installs eavesdropping implants. There were photos of NSA employees opening up a Cisco box. Cisco's CEO John Chambers personally complained to President Obama about this practice, which is not exactly a selling point for Cisco equipment abroad. Der Spiegel published the more complete document, along with a broader story, in January of this year:


Now Cisco is taking matters into its own hands, offering to ship equipment to fake addresses in an effort to avoid NSA interception.

Wassamatter, NSA guys; you not competent to collect what you want without physically installing sh!t on the router while you have it in your clammy hands?

I know no one gives a fv<k whether I approve of any given NSA activity, but c'mon, this is outside the pale. I find myself really tempted to violate Godwin's Law on this one...

Saturday, March 21, 2015

‘New’ Sherlock Holmes Story By Conan Doyle Found After 80 Years

No beating about the bush: it can be read here.

This sort of thing is not unprecedented. Like many authors in the days before authors were owned by publishers and kept confined in stables like race horses, one of the most effective charitable gestures a well-known author could make was to write and contribute his or her own story, using the author's own (in)famous character(s), indirectly urging the reader to participate in that same charity. In this case, Conan Doyle was trying to save an old bridge in Selkirk. The story contains many local references, most of which are beyond my reach, but you may be sure the gentleman reaching for his purse to contribute would have known them all.

Conan Doyle
Conan Doyle wrote enough such stories that I have run across and read one before, but it was in a dead-tree source which I cannot put my hand on at the moment. If I run across another, I'll let you know. Meanwhile, enjoy this one.

H/T ellroon, who finds and points us to a wealth of interesting things!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Gaaaack! Cough Not Worst Ever, But Bad Enough...

This is truly unpleasant. Stella or I (I don't know which yet) will pick up one of my regular meds, not a cough med but one of my ongoing prescriptions, by Sun. at the latest; meanwhile, I feel like a bucket of warm spit. I got little if any sleep last night due to this cough. It's raining, again, not the worst I've ever seen, but enough to inconvenience us. Sometimes the good Dog just doesn't want you to get out of bed, and like a fool, I ignored her and did that anyway. Now I'd better go empty the spit bucket. Don't expect a lot of blogging today, or tomorrow. Thanks for your patience!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Boy Howdy, Are Tom Engelhardt And Crew Thought‑Provoking Lately...

Start with the moment's topmost post, Tomgram: Engelhardt, Is a New Political System Emerging in This Country?, and read straight through at least Nan Levinson's cheekily titled sub-post, The Big Dick School of American Patriotism And What We Make of It. Have you read it? Now tell me: does something feel out of balance, and I don't mean the prose?

Let me be clear: I admire Engelhardt and other authors on his site greatly. But in our era, the out-of-balance sensation is sure to afflict any sensible writer, and they are not exceptions to that rule. Now pardon me for a few minutes; I need to have my brain washed... I need water; please hand me a Glass.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Community Cold

Stella has had one version of it for over a week; she got it from literally half her coworkers and brought it home to me. I've had it for 3-4 days, the version that is mostly a head cold and a sore throat... yucky and unpleasant, but not life-threatening.

At night, I have adequate concentration to read novels, news and blogs, but not to follow anything complex or to write anything of much substance; don't expect any intellectual tours de force from me this week. I've successfully read a not unduly challenging private eye novel and had rather less success facing some of Noam Chomsky's oeuvre for the first time... and I do want to give Chomsky his due; IMHO he deserves my close attention.

Beyond that, my intake has been confined mostly to PBS Kids, probably entertaining because I don't have kids, PBS or otherwise.

I'll check in occasionally, but don't expect any great works from me until I stop drowning in my own fluids and rasping every word I speak.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Cassini Spacecraft Notes Saturn Moon May Support Life In Its Subsurface Ocean

Andrew Coates at Juan Cole's Informed Comment:

Saturn’s moon Enceladus has an Ocean, Geysers and maybe Life

The Cassini mission that has investigated Saturn since 2004 has revealed much about the giant planet and its many moons. Perhaps most tantalising is the discovery that the moon Enceladus is the source of strong geysers ejecting plumes of water and ice.

A new study of Cassini data published in Nature by Hsiang-Wen Hsu and colleagues reveals these plumes are laced with grains of sand. This indicates that hydrothermal activity may be at work in Enceladus’ sub-surface ocean, and propels this tiny moon into the extremely exclusive club of locations that could harbour life.

The club’s only current member is Earth, of course – although it’s very possible that Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons, is, like Enceladus, also a candidate. What they have in common is that they host liquid oceans of salty water that exists in contact with a rocky, silicate seabed from which the oceans can absorb complex minerals and elements.


Cool! There's still no certainty, but as recently as a decade ago, I'd have put my money on "Earth alone" as the home of life in our Solar System. Now we have several possibilities. Enceladus was discovered in 1789 by William Herschel; between that long history and the Cassini mission, there is basis for some credible speculation about how it works, subsurface ocean and all. Here's a diagram of one of the models of its cryovolcanism (click for larger image):

Even if this tiny moon doesn't support life, its name could serve to advise you what to order if it's your very first trip to a Mexican restaurant...

Saturday, March 14, 2015

‘CISA Isn't About Cybersecurity, It's About Surveillance’

It seems these days that no bad bill that's been killed (*cough* CISPA *cough*) stays dead, and these undead bills, in this case transparently renamed CISA, stalk the halls of Congress looking to give America's law enforcement entities surveillance powers over its citizens, powers unheard of in the entire history of the Republic. Here's some of what you need to know, from
This bill as it stands is condemned by every one of these experts, yet is under consideration now by the Senate Select Committee. If CISA should pass and be signed into law, at least... at the very least... your Fourth Amendment rights will lie dead in the street, trampled by the forces who believe every American should be subject to surveillance, everywhere s/he goes, in every activity, at any time.

How little difference one letter makes!
How does that sound to you? Right... me too. Please read the linked articles and then HOWL to Congress, for all the good it will do...

Alzheimer's Disease: Possible Breakthrough Treatment — Ultrasound

If you have a family member who suffers Alzheimer's disease, you know firsthand how devastating the condition is to the sufferer and his/her family. Even as one who never for a moment contemplated a career in medicine, I spent many hours attempting to read medical journal articles on Alzheimer's research published between about 1986 and 1990, the year my mother died of this relentless destroyer of the human brain. At the time, no one, medical professional or otherwise, had any idea that 25 years later medical science still would not have a sufficiently clear understanding of the nature of the disease to undertake to use available techniques to treat it, let alone cure it.

Fast-forward past 25 years of Alzheimer's research and many hopeful but failed attempts at finding effective treatment... it's been a bleak quarter century for families like mine, especially those families in which there are indications of a genetic component, a family connection, in the propagation of the disease.

Finally (we can hope it's "finally"), Walter Einenkel at Kos points out an article in The Guardian detailing how researchers at University of Queensland in Brisbane undertook a wholly new approach, using ultrasound to break up the tangles of plaques in the brain that are a primary manifestation of Alzheimer's. So far, tests have been done only in mice, but the resulting improvement in function in most of the treated mice is very promising. One problem in many previous attempts at drug-based treatments is the blood-brain barrier, which is apparently no barrier to sound waves.

(I was already having difficulty sleeping tonight; now I know I may as well give up... at least for a change it's good news keeping me awake!)

Friday, March 13, 2015

Rev. Franklin Graham Employs Aggie Pistol

There is no version of the Far-Right Rev. Franklin Graham's argument here that does not point, like the infamous Aggie pistol, right back at the Rev. himself. Brendan James at TPM:
The Rev. Franklin Graham on Wednesday hypothesized that President Obama's hesitancy to fight the Islamic State terror group was because Obama's mother "must have been a Muslim."

In a clip flagged by Right Wing Watch, the son of renowned pastor Rev. Billy Graham spoke to Family Research Council head Tony Perkins in a radio interview.

"His mother must have been a Muslim," Graham said. "We don't know that, but she married two Muslim men, so there must have been something there."

"And the framework that the President has growing up, his influences in his life, was that of Islam," he added.

Aggie pistol
OK. Let's accept the Rev. Graham's stated opinion at face value, and render the quotation just a teensy bit different for the sake of argument:
President Barack Obama on Wednesday hypothesized that Rev. Franklin Graham's eagerness to fight the Islamic State terror group was because Graham's father "must have been a radical Christian fundamentalist."

[etc. ad nauseam]
Sauce for the goose and the gander, eh? D'ya think Billy just shifted a bit in his grave when his son let fly with that? [CORRECTION: per Mustang Bobby in comments, Billy is still alive. According to Wikipedia, he is 96.]

Thursday, March 12, 2015

I'm A Little Busy Here...

... with household duties, medical matters, feeding cats, herding cats, etc., all things that cannot be put off but are nonetheless not paid work. Have patience,please; I haven't forgotten the blog.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

My State Rep, A Republican, Says Women Will Die If Texas Lege Renders Cancer Screening Unavailable By Forcing Planned Parenthood Clinics To Close

Sarah Davis
It is hardly news that the Texas GOP has made repeated attempts to impose the harshest strictures on women's health clinics that offer abortion in Texas, such as Planned Parenthood, no matter what other essential medical services those clinics offer women. It is news (from Tara Culp‑Ressler at Think Progress, March 10) that a Republican legislator has come out in opposition to her party's attempts to kill women by denying them high-quality cancer screening in an attempt to deny them constitutionally protected access to abortion.

That legislator, State Rep. Sarah Davis (R-TX134), represents my district.

I have long since taken a solemn vow not to vote for any Republican unless Abraham Lincoln rises from the grave and runs in a district in which I am registered to vote. At least Lege elections are in even-numbered years, so I have some time to think about this race.

The problem, of course, is not what Rep. Davis would do independently; rather, it's what she could be pressured into doing along with her party. And the R-dominated Texas Lege, under a new, presumably ideologically driven Repub governor, could make laws that could literally kill women by the thousands, and GOPers in the Lege have not been shy about attempting those very laws.

I have often wished for an active pro-choice or at least pro-women's-rights movement within the GOP. All that proves is that one should be careful what s/he wishes for!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

OK TP/GOP State House Candidate Advocates Stoning Gay People To Death

... here. And I don't mean with newly legalized marijuana. The craziness gets worse every day...

Americans: Did You Set Your Clocks Forward? Good For You!

Last night was the night...

Saturday, March 7, 2015

18 Years — Cause For Celebration

 As of today, Stella and I have been an "item" for 18 years. This Lichtenstein-like work shows "Stella," but with all due respect to people who love their kids, the woman depicted here expresses (sarcastically) an attitude for both of us. Search the Web for "forgot to have children" and you'll learn how very many people feel that way!

We plan a splendid meal (probably at Vietopia), a walk in a park (weather permitting) and... our signature activity for most such celebrations... a trip to a bookstore!

Friday, March 6, 2015

‘Chocolate Snorting’? Tell Me You're Joking, Please!

No, apparently not; someone actually sells a device for it. Here's Miranda Alexander Webber at Reuters:
(Reuters) - When Belgian chocolatier Dominique Persoone created a chocolate-sniffing device for a Rolling Stones party in 2007, he never imagined demand would stretch much beyond the rock 'n' roll scene. But, seven years later, he has sold 25,000 of them.

I like chocolate as much as the next blogger, and I generally have a box of cocoa around the kitchen for the few recipes that call for it... but I think I'll pass on this delivery method!

(H/T Avedon.)

In other food-related news, you can add bacon to the list of inadequately inspected foods. (FWIW, Morningstar Farms offers a perfectly acceptable vegetarian bacon substitute; we consume quite a bit of it around Our House. Try some; go whole hog!)

Thursday, March 5, 2015

NASA Study: Mars Oceans Larger, Deeper, Lasted Longer Than Previously Thought

Michele Starr at c|net gives the particulars. Some people (John Gribbin comes to mind) are not going to be happy with the increasing likelihood that Mars long ago had sufficient water that the question of whether it ever supported life will surely now have to be reevaluated.


Oldest Known Footage Of NYC Appears

Jen Hayden at Kos tells us about it; some of it predates the turn of the 20th century. The World Trade Center is superposed for a few seconds to show its later (and former) location. If you're a New Yorker, 120 years old and nostalgic, this should be good viewing...

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

SCOTUS Will Hear King v. Burwell, Affordable Care Act Case, Today

A straightforward explanation of the points at issue is available from Jessica Mason Pieklo at RH Reality Check. A live-blog of the decision as it is issued is provided by SCOTUSblog's Kali Borkoski. Note that only decisions will be live-blogged; live-blogging of arguments from within the chamber is not permitted. (SCOTUSblog has a workaround: aperiodically one of their attendees leaves the chamber and reports. If I recall, that person cannot be readmitted, but I'm not sure of that.)

ACA (Anti-Care Actors)?
If plaintiffs petitioners succeed in persuading the Court to rule that, based on four words in isolation, Congress really intended to punish citizens of states that did not set up their own exchanges (depending instead on the federal exchange), millions of Americans will lose their newly acquired health insurance.

This is Chief Justice John Roberts's second chance to kill and bury the Affordable Care Act... or not. He is regarded as the swing vote on this case. The Act survived the Court's first ruling.

A subset of Republicans has been trying again to kill the ACA ever since. Very probably, if Roberts votes against it, the ACA will go down in flames; if that happens, Roberts will earn his "ace" rating for exhibiting the baldfaced inconsistency of voting against his own earlier ruling. Republicans in Congress whine endlessly about the ACA, but they have carefully avoided constructing their own viable alternative. As always, they'd rather spite the President than save your health insurance.

Is this a great country, or what? (Hint: I'm betting on "what.")

AFTERTHOUGHT: Scalia is a piece of work. Here's Sahil Kapur at TPM, quoting parts of the verbal sparring in the hearing...
WASHINGTON — Justice Antonin Scalia expressed confidence on Wednesday morning that Congress would act to mitigate the damage if the Supreme Court ruled to invalidate Obamacare subsidies for millions of Americans.

"You really think Congress is just going to sit there while all the disastrous consequences ensue?" he asked Obama administration lawyer Don Verrilli.

The U.S. solicitor general had a sarcastic retort.

"This Congress, your honor?"

The audience in the packed courtroom laughed.

"Yes," Scalia protested, "I think this Congress would act."

NO rational person... no RATIONAL person... could come to that conclusion about the TP-controlled Congress we have right now. If the Supreme Court kills Obamacare, I am sure as I'm sitting here that it will stay dead.

UPDATE: No decision in King v. Burwell today. Not too surprising...

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Netanyahu May Reveal US-Iran Negotiation Secrets

Washington (CNN)The Obama administration is bracing for Benjamin Netanyahu to spill secret details of Iran nuclear talks, as both camps traded last-minute political jabs ahead of the Israeli prime minister's controversial address to Congress at 11 a.m. EST on Tuesday.

The White House is uncertain what precise details may come out but aides spent Monday frantically mobilizing after Israeli officials said that the prime minister planned to disclose sensitive details of an agreement taking shape in talks between six world powers and Iran, which has entered a delicate final stage.

This man is not an ally of the United States. If he leaks American secrets for political reasons, there must be diplomatic consequences.

ADDENDUM: Juan Cole's article "4 Things more Dangerous to Israel than Iran’s civilian Nuclear Enrichment" is well worth reading.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Feeling No Pain — DOGGEREL!

Ah, modern medicine! Stella has been suffering sustained headaches for about 24 hours now; I don't know if they're migraines but if they are, I hope this new procedure developed at Albany Medical Center and SUNY Empire State College can help her. First a few details:

Minimally invasive migraine treatment 'reduced painkiller use in 88% of patients'

At the Society of Interventional Radiology's Annual Scientific Meeting, clinicians from Albany Medical Center and the State University New York Empire State College in Saratoga Springs, NY, explained how the new treatment - image-guided, intranasal sphenopalatine ganglion (SPG) blocks - provided ongoing relief to migraine patients.

"Migraine headaches are one of the most common, debilitating diseases in the United States, and the cost and side effects of medicine to address migraines can be overwhelming," says Dr. Kenneth Mandato, the study's lead researcher and an interventional radiologist at Albany Medical Center.

"Intranasal sphenopalatine ganglion blocks are image-guided, targeted, breakthrough treatments," he elaborates. "They offer a patient-centered therapy that has the potential to break the migraine cycle and quickly improve patients' quality of life."


The treatment is minimally invasive and involves 4% lidocaine being administered to the patient via a "spaghetti-sized catheter" inserted through the patient's nasal passage. Through this route, the lidocaine is delivered to the patient's sphenopalatine ganglion - a bundle of nerves just behind the nose that are associated with migraines.

Well, OK, that sounds good! Now the doggerel...

Research and Envelopment
Your head hurts? Great!
Now Empire State
Has something for your pain:
If you're not dead,
They've got a med
That goes against migraine.

With Albany,
Their SPG
Is playing with your blocks:
Their tiny hose
Goes up your nose...
Don't squirt it on your socks!

The lidocaine
Will ease your pain
(For eighty-eight percent of you);
Now bring your purse:
You won't get worse...
But they will have their rent of you!

- SB the YDD

‘Justice Deferred [sic]’ And ‘Too Big To Jail’

First, let me offer my thanks to friends/neighbors George and Barbara B-not-Bush, who provided me unasked with their print copy of this month's New York Review of Books. And while I do not know the man face to face (perhaps fortunately, as that is because I have not confronted the federal bench), I have come to have great respect for Jed S. Rakoff, US District Judge for the Southern District of New York, writer for NY Review of occasional reviews of nontechnical legal books, such as the one this post focuses on, Brandon L. Garrett's Too Big to Jail: How Prosecutors Compromise with Corporations.

I don't think I need to explain to any of you why you should care about this matter, but here's the short of it: in the past couple of decades, Justice departments of presidents of both major political parties have worked out agreements with large corporations such that the corporation is not prosecuted and not punished for clearly illegal misdeeds... and the persons responsible, be they board members, upper-level managers, legal teams, professional investment staff, or anyone else employed by these corporations, are not prosecuted or retrained at all. In other words, crimes are committed and noted, slaps on wrists are administered, and the people who committed them are not so much as formally reprimanded, let alone charged. Needless to say, the frequency of such crimes is growing greatly; that's what happens when felonies are simply neglected without any attempt to punish their perpetrators or to repair the faulty corporate procedures that allow them... indeed, encourage them... to be committed.

Judge Rakoff outlines the contents of Mr. Garrett's book much better than I can. Please read the review at the link above.

(Aside: regrettably, HPL seems not to have even one copy of this book, though they have at least one other book by Garrett in their catalog. Too Big to Jail is not even an expensive book on Amazon; I may get one myself.)

In Case You Had Forgotten, Bill Moyers And Two Legal Scholars Explain How Citizens United Allows Corp's To Buy Elections

The video below appears originally as the first video on this page. Please watch Bill Moyers interviewing Monica Youn, an attorney at the Brennan Center for Justice, and Zephyr Teachout, a professor at Fordham School of Law, on the direct and indirect consequences of Citizens United:

If we want to preserve any semblance of democracy in America, we must find a way to rid ourselves of that execrable Supreme Court ruling. Otherwise the Golden Rule applies ("those who have the gold make the rules"), and we the people (except for the very wealthy) will have no participatory role in our government, and our flag may as well look like this:

I understand Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has a good campaign underway to rid us of Citizens United; perhaps you can join his effort. If that doesn't suit you, please find something, or prepare to lose your democracy.

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