Friday, September 19, 2014

Hit Machine

Digging for dirt is big business:
The risks of wading into the thorny major issues vexing the body politic are rising, while the rewards are diminishing. There’s the growing intensity of a media cycle fueled by the salacious and voyeuristic. And, while there is exponentially more information available online about politicians and anyone in public life, there are ever fewer traditional political journalists to process and report on it.

These ferocious crosscurrents are being harnessed by an increasingly robust opposition research field that has grown from an ad-hoc collection of henchman roving from campaign to campaign into a lucrative private industry that is teeming with ambitious young operatives attracted by the glamour of notching scalps.
Perhaps Don Henley said it best:

Spooked

No more spy games?
The pause in decades of espionage, which remains partially in effect, was designed to give CIA officers time to examine whether they were being careful enough and to evaluate whether spying on allies is worth running the risk of discovery, said a U.S. official who has been briefed on the situation.

Under the stand-down order, case officers in Europe largely have been forbidden from undertaking "unilateral operations" such as meeting with sources they have recruited within allied governments. Such clandestine meetings are the bedrock of spying.

CIA officers are still allowed to meet with their counterparts in the host country's intelligence service, conduct joint operations with host country services and conduct operations with the approval of the host government. Recently, unilateral operations targeting third country nationals — Russians in France, for example —were restarted. But most meetings with sources who are host nationals remain on hold, as do new recruitments.

The CIA declined to comment.
They could, but then they'd have to kill you...

Occupy Nothing

Whatever happened to Occupy Wall Street?
The latest research from YouGov shows that most Americans (55%) say that the Occupy Wall Street movement has had no impact on the country. Overall, only 18% say that it had a positive impact, while 27% say that its impact was negative. Democrats are the most likely to say its impact was positive (28%) and to say that it had no impact (58%). Most independents say that it had no impact (55%), but 30% think that it had a negative impact. Fully 41% of Republicans, however, think that the movement's impact was negative while 50% think it had no impact.
You'd think it was a bunch of white liberal upper-income college students wasting their time, or something...

Divided We Stand

I guess it's a good thing this hasn't come to a vote, yet:
Some 23.9 percent of Americans polled from Aug. 23 through Sept. 16 said they strongly supported or tended to support the idea of their state breaking away, while 53.3 percent of the 8,952 respondents strongly opposed or tended to oppose the notion.

The urge to sever ties with Washington cuts across party lines and regions, though Republicans and residents of rural Western states are generally warmer to the idea than Democrats and Northeasterners, according to the poll.

Anger with President Barack Obama's handling of issues ranging from healthcare reform to the rise of Islamic State militants drives some of the feeling, with Republican respondents citing dissatisfaction with his administration as coloring their thinking.

But others said long-running Washington gridlock had prompted them to wonder if their states would be better off striking out on their own, a move no U.S. state has tried in the 150 years since the bloody Civil War that led to the end of slavery in the South.
Back then, it was North and South. Today, it seems to be Washington and everyone else...

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Under The Bridge

Sorry, conspiracy theorists:
The U.S. Justice Department investigation into New Jersey Gov.Chris Christie’s role in “Bridgegate” has thus far uncovered no information he either knew in advance or directed the closure of traffic lanes on the George Washington Bridge, federal officials tell NBC 4 New York.

The September 2013 closures — where several entrance lanes to the George Washington Bridge in Ft. Lee were shut down causing a traffic nightmare for commuters — has been the subject of several federal and state investigations.

Federal officials caution that the investigation begun nine months ago is ongoing and that no final determination has been made, but say that after nine months authorities have uncovered no information Christie either knew in advance or ordered the closure of traffic lanes.
That sound you hear is MSNBC's head exploding...

Robot Law

What happens when you give a robot "morality?"
The so-called ‘Ethical robot’, also known as the Asimov robot, after the science fiction writer whose work inspired the film ‘I, Robot’, saved robots, acting the part of humans, from falling into a hole: but often stood by and let them trundle into the danger zone.

The experiment used robots programmed to be ‘aware’ of their surroundings, and with a separate program which instructed the robot to save lives where possible.

Despite having the time to save one out of two ‘humans’ from the 'hole', the robot failed to do so more than half of the time. In the final experiment, the robot only saved the ‘people’ 16 out of 33 times.
....

The problem isn’t - thankfully - that robots are enemies of humankind, but that the robot tried too hard to save lives. Three times out of 33, the robot manages, through a cunning series of lunges, to save BOTH. The other times, it appears as if the robot can’t decide.

“The problem is that the Asimov robot sometimes dithers,” says Winfield. “It notices one human robot, starts toward it but then almost immediately notices the other. It changes its mind. And the time lost dithering means the Asimov robot cannot prevent either robot from falling into the hole.”
Ethical logic can be a deadly thing...

A Reporter Alone

Eric Holder and Media Matters go after a reporter for actually doing his job:
To be sure, Boyle is not a reporter who is beloved by other reporters and he’s been critiqued on any number of matters that include his youthful chipmunk cheeks, his previously questionable Twitter avatar and his TV skills. But his beat was DOJ and Eric Holder and shouldn’t a reporter be commended for going after an enterprising story or two on his beat?

Even Slate‘s Dave Weigel agreed with that sentiment. “I see Media Matters giving Holder a huzzah for calling the Caller out,” he wrote in November 2011. “But calling it out for what? Are news organizations not allowed to enterprise stories by asking people whether they think someone should resign? News organizations do this all the time. The Caller’s ‘sin’ seems to be doing it with no back-up from the rest of the press.
It's tough doing other peoples' job for them...

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Blame Starts Here

Is it finally time to put the blame where it belongs?
It’s true that Obama hasn’t replicated Bush’s offenses, and it’s consoling. But it isn’t exactly reason for a parade, and it doesn’t inoculate him. The culpability that lies elsewhere doesn’t relieve the responsibilities that are now his.
No matter how hard his fans wish he could avoid them...

Failing Grade

Doctors give Obamacare an F:
In their comments that were included (but kept anonymous) in the report, a number of doctors complained about the vast amount of bureaucracy that has been added to the medical profession.

In their comments that were included (but kept anonymous) in the report, a number of doctors complained about the vast amount of bureaucracy that has been added to the medical profession.

"Get government OUT of healthcare," one doctor wrote.

Another wrote, "Repeal Obamacare."

Another comment read, "I'm a Canadian physician practicing in the United States. The politicians and policy makers need to understand that government involvement in healthcare never works."
I'm sure the "experts" like Michael Moore will be happy to tell them why they're wrong...

Debbie Downers

Not everyone in her party is a fan:
The perception of critics is that Wasserman Schultz spends more energy tending to her own political ambitions than helping Democrats win. This includes using meetings with DNC donors to solicit contributions for her own PAC and campaign committee, traveling to uncompetitive districts to court House colleagues for her potential leadership bid and having DNC-paid staff focus on her personal political agenda.
A politician with her own agenda? I am shocked.

Three The Hard Way

Bob Corker doesn't like what's going on:
Kerry got into a heated exchange with Corker who said, "I want to say as I said personally, we have three senators, president, vice president, secretary of state, that are exercising terrible judgment right now. And to say that you're going to do this regardless of what we say, you're not going to ask for buy-in by the United States Senate or House of Representatives on behalf of the American people in a conflict that's going to be multiyear. Some people say a decade. Taking us into another country with a different enemy, is exercising the worst judgment possible."
There seems to be more than enough of that to go around, at that...

Questions, Questions

Why is a university asking students and faculty abiut their sex lives-and threatening to punish them if they don't answer?
Jerry Knighton, Director of the Office of Access and Equity, told Campus Reform that the mandatory course is to comply with requirements from the Office of Civil Rights to ensure that federally funded colleges are educated on Title IX. Knighton said other institutions may have different approaches.

The email also said that students can choose whether or not to answer the questions truthfully. Dr. J. David Woodard, a political science professor at Clemson, told Campus Reform that he had heard from several students who had simply made up answers to the questions.

“I don’t understand why the university has a right to mandate this as forcible information when it’s so private, it’s personal, and no one should have to give that up,” Woodard told Campus Reform in an interview. “It’s so much of a disconnect from what we know this campus to be.”
You vill answer der question...

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Stepping Out

Meet the power walkers:
“The type of people you find on Capitol Hill are very competitive by nature,” said Alexa Marrero, a senior aide to Upton who competes with him. (He accuses her of cheating by moving to the Hill so she could walk to work.) “You have a bunch of Type A personalities in jobs prone to keeping you behind a desk all day, so there are a lot of people who have found this as a fun way to get up.”

The competitions are changing official Washington behavior in some corners. Elected officials insist on parking far away for meetings to get in their 10,000 steps a day, the total often recommended by fitness experts and dietitians. Legislative correspondents — they are underdogs in competitions because they answer e-mails all day — are finding ways to be at their desks less. Boehner’s staff even holds meetings in the Capitol Rotunda while walking in circles, which is not meant to be a metaphor for Washington politics.
“It’s much more pleasant to walk around this beautiful building than sit in some bland conference room,” said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel, who uses a Fitbit.
At least afterwards they can claim they're too exhausted to do anything...

Club Book

What's a Facebook for rich people like?
In screen shots, user profiles include access to activity, profile, notifications, messages, location, friends, and followers. An update box lets you tell fellow members "where you are and what you're up to."
Users will also get unlimited cloud file storage, which is "similar to paid services like Dropbox or SkyDrive (and might very well replace those services for you)," the company said, without elaborating.
Your money will also provide an ad-free environment. Members can post ads in a classified section, but the site promised to "never" display third-party advertising or promote certain products.
The perks end there, though. "Please understand that Netropolitan is NOT a concierge service," the company said. "Our Member Service Associates will not book you a charter jet, or find you tickets to a sold-out Broadway show. They exist solely to help members technically navigate and find their way around the social club."
The rich are different from the rest of us-they have their own social networks...

The Grimdark Ages

Are people tired of the same old post-apocalyptic shtick?
"Maybe people are getting a little sick of the post-apocalyptic, dark, angst-ridden, suicidal movies. There's maybe a few too many of those," Foster said Tuesday during an appearance at the Bank of America 2014 Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference.

The Imax exec added that tentpoles that performed well this summer, including Guardians of the Galaxy, "had a twinkle in their eye," or were mischievous and fun.
Bring back the twinkle! Or at least that gleam...

Old Debts

The debt that doesn't end:
A]n estimated two million Americans age 60 and older … are in debt from unpaid student loans, according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Its August Household Debt and Credit Report said the number of aging Americans with outstanding student loans had almost tripled from about 700,000 in 2005, whether from long-ago loans for their own educations or more recent borrowing to pay for college degrees for family members. . . . While older debtors account for a small fraction of student loan borrowers, who have accumulated nearly $1 trillion in such debt, the effect of owing a constantly ballooning amount of debt but having a fixed income can be onerous, said Senator Bill Nelson, Democrat of Florida, chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging.
It doesn't look so good for the current generation, either...

Anti-Feminist Feminism

If you're a feminist, do you have to be a liberal one?
If feminism is about empowering women to participate in American civic and social life without regard to the ends they pursue with that power and freedom, then of course these women are feminists. The opposite of being a feminist in this sense isn't to be an anti-abortion libertarian; it is to be powerless.

But many self-described feminists today define feminism in a way that is far more ideological and includes a range of specific policy proposals. To be a feminist in this sense, you must support abortion rights through all three trimesters, favor paid family leave, back government subsidized child care, and so forth.

Which means that to be considered a feminist, you must be a liberal Democrat.
Or you're not a "real" feminist...

The Dark Side

How much could Yahoo have been fined by the Government? Check out the chart:
Yahoo’s longtime outside counsel, Marc Zwillinger, who was lead attorney in the unsuccessful fight against the government’s data demand, calculated the cost of resistance at more than $25 million after the first month and $400 million in the second month. “And practically speaking,” Zwillinger noted in a blog post published Monday afternoon, “coercive civil fines means that the government would seek increased fines, with no ceiling, until Yahoo complied.”
Maybe the government should have stuck with the Death Star...

Association By Smell

Can someone's politics be identified by their B.O.?
A new study in the American Journal of Political Science from Brown’s Rose McDermott, Harvard’s Dustin Tingley, and Penn State’s Peter K. Hatemi has found preliminary evidence that people are more attracted to the body odors of others with similar political beliefs. In the study, participants rated the attractiveness of vials of body odors obtained from “strong liberals” and “strong conservatives” on a five-point scale. The participants had no prior knowledge of which vial belonged to which partisan armpit.

Some participants had particularly strong reactions to the vials, as the paper explains:

In one particularly illustrative case, a participant asked the experimenter if she could take one of the vials home with her because she thought it was ‘the best perfume I ever smelled’; the vial was from a male who shared an ideology similar to the evaluator. She was preceded by another respondent with an ideology opposite to the person who provided the exact same sample; this participant reported that the vial had ‘gone rancid’ and suggested it needed to be replaced.
Many feel that way when the opposition is in power...

Space Race

NASA gets back into the space travel business:
The Commercial Crew Transportation Capability contract aims to restore an American capability to launch astronauts from U.S. soil to the International Space Station by the end of 2017. Since the end of the Space Shuttle program in 2011, American astronauts have been transported to space on Russian-built Soyuz vessels.

"We know that going to space is hard," said Kathy Lueders, NASA's Commercial Crew program manager, during a press conference at Kennedy Space Center. "NASA and aerospace industry have accomplished hard things in the past."

In addition to SpaceX and Boeing, Sierra Nevada and Blue Origin were all in the running for the $6.8 billion contract.
And congratulations to the folks at SpaceX, for helping pave the way.

Scotland The Unready?

David Cameron pleads with Scotland to stay:

Don't Mention The Polls

is Obama an unpopular president? Not according to network news:
Media Research Center analysts reviewed every reference on the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts to public opinion polls from January 1 through August 31, 2014, and from the same time period in 2006. Eight years ago, the networks aired 124 evening news reports which cited public opinion polls about either President Bush’s overall approval rating or his handling of specific policies. In 2014, those same broadcasts produced only nine reports which mentioned public opinion surveys related to President Obama.

In Bush’s case, the networks routinely highlighted his falling approval ratings to illustrate his political weakness, and regularly cited polling data showing public disapproval of policies such as the Iraq war. This year, even as President Obama has suffered his own political meltdown, the networks have spared him from such coverage.
You don't hurt the boss's feelings...

The Lonely Man

Suppose they gave a climate change summit and nobody came?
Aussie PM Tony Abbott today defended his decision not to hop on an earlier flight to America, so he could attend the UN climate conference in New York, because he has more important matters to attend to, such as running the country.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi have also indicated they likely won’t attend the summit.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has indicated he will not be attending.

Even Angela Merkel, President of über green Germany, will not be attending the UN climate summit
Maybe Leonardo DiCaprio is available...

Plague War

Obama declares war on Ebola:
The U.S. plan, a dramatic increase from Washington's initial response last week, won praise from aid workers and officials in the region. But health experts said it was still not enough to contain the epidemic, which is quickly growing and has caused local healthcare systems to buckle from the strain.
U.S. officials said the focus of the military deployment would be Liberia, a nation founded by freed American slaves that is the hardest hit of the countries affected by the crisis.
....

His plan calls for sending the 3,000 troops, including engineers and medical personnel, to build 17 treatment centres with 100 beds each, train thousands of healthcare workers and establish a military control centre for coordination of the relief effort, U.S. officials told reporters. The White House said the service members will not be responsible for direct patient care.
We shall fight it in the hospitals...

Monday, September 15, 2014

Game Stupidity On

Swatting comes to gaming:
Authorities say the hoax that initially targeted celebrities has now become a way for players of combat-themed video games to retaliate against opponents while thousands of spectators watch. The perpetrators can watch their hijinks unfold minute by minute in a window that shows a live video image of other players.
“It’s like creating your own episode of ‘Cops,'” said Dr. John Grohol, a research psychologist who studies online behavior, referring to the long-running reality TV show that follows officers on patrol.
The players, who are often many miles away, look up their opponent’s addresses in phone directories, sometimes using services that can find unlisted numbers. They also exploit online programs that trick 911 dispatchers into believing an emergency call is coming from the victim’s phone or address. All the while, they conceal their own identities and locations.
Cowards and losers usually do...

Mad Mechanical Men

It's the rise of the shills:
Companies from Cadillac to Maker's Mark are utilizing automatons to make us think that not only are they the brands of today, but instead are furtively grasping at the future. And to be clear, we are not talking about CGI hyper-real fiction droids like Svedka’s discontinued Fembot. These are real, bread and butter, build-me-a-Tesla-type robots. Ones that, if we are not careful, may evolve into Skynet.
Would you buy a new car from this robot?

Climate Change Is Bleeding

Real science doesn't need an actor:
Science is never settled, but the current state of “climate change” science is quite clear: There is essentially zero evidence that carbon dioxide from human activities is causing catastrophic climate change.
Yes, the “executive summary” of reports from the UN’s International Panel on Climate Change continues to sound the alarm — but the summary is written by the politicians. The scientific bulk of the report, while still tinged with improper advocacy, has all but thrown in the towel.
And the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change lists thousands of scientific papers that either debunk or cast serious doubt on the supposed “consensus” model.
Oregon-based physicist Gordon Fulks sums it up well: “CO2 is said to be responsible for global warming that is not occurring, for accelerated sea-level rise that is not occurring, for net glacial and sea ice melt that is not occurring . . . and for increasing extreme weather that is not occurring.”
If it doesn't exist, they make it up. Hollywood is good at that sort of thing...

Ms. Football

Should Condi Rice lead the NFL?
Earlier this week the Washington Post carried a piece by a member of its editorial board calling for Ms Rice, 59, to take over from Mr Goodell, who has come under fire over his handling of the domestic violence scandal which has engulfed the sport.
Politicians and women’s groups were enraged by the NFL’s decision to impose what they regarded as an inadequate two match ban on Ray Rice, the Baltimore Ravens’ running back who knocked his fiancée out cold in the lift of a New Jersey casino.
Why should she waste her time with thugs and criminals? She's already done that as Secretary of State...

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Nerd Country

Are we living in a nerd world now?
An engineering degree is also no longer a requisite to using technology, as seemingly anyone today can install a printer or upload a video. Similarly, another signifier of nerd status — knowing obscure facts about favorite subjects — has also lost its currency. The total number of “Simpsons” characters or the name of a constellation is only a Wikipedia entry away.

“Growing up, pre-Internet, possession of knowledge was such an identifier,” said Dave Goetsch, a co-executive producer of “The Big Bang Theory.” “That is no longer true; the Internet flattens things out.”
It's finally cool to be uncool...

Wilderness Run

Mark Sanford just can't seem to help himself:
So now Sanford, after a hard-won partial recovery from the problems he made for himself in 2009, has created all sorts of new, and very public, problems for himself in 2014. And they are likely to continue. Sanford now has two media-savvy women mad at him; they are unlikely to remain silent.

Sanford was the butt of a million jokes during the hiking-the-Appalachian-trail affair. Now, even as he asks South Carolinians for their votes again, many will be mocking him for turning his romantic travails into a very public melodrama. And of course, Sanford has no one to blame but himself.
Sad, but all too true...

As Goes Scotland...

What hath Scotland wrought?
From Catalonia to Kurdistan to Quebec, nationalist and separatist movements in Europe and beyond are watching the Scottish independence referendum closely — sometimes more so than Britons themselves, who seem to have only just woken up to the possibility that Scotland might vote next Thursday to bring to an end a 307-year union. A curious collection of left and right, rich and poor, marginal and mainstream, these movements are united in the hope that their shared ambition for more self-determination will get a lift from an independent Scotland.
What happens in Scotland, might not stay in Scotland?

Democrats Versus Free Speech

Why are Democrats so against the First Amendment?
Democrats pushing the measure to repeal free speech pretend that it is a campaign-finance measure, but the only criteria it establishes for Congress to ban an advertisement — or a book, or a film, or a television show, or a magazine — is that money is expended in an attempt to influence a political outcome. Under those rules, the Ohio Inquisition’s successful move to ban billboards critical of an embattled Democratic congressman would have been totally acceptable under the provisions of a gutted First Amendment.
Money talks in politics-and the Democrats want to make sure that their opponents can't spend theirs against them...

Land Of The Taxed

Congratulations, liberals-America now has a worse business climate than Europe:
With the developed world's highest corporate tax rate at over 39% including state levies, plus a rare demand that money earned overseas should be taxed as if it were earned domestically, the U.S. is almost in a class by itself. It ranks just behind Spain and Italy, of all economic humiliations. America did beat Portugal and France, which is currently run by an avowed socialist.
....

The new ranking is especially timely coming amid the campaign led by Messrs. Obama and Schumer to punish companies that move their legal domicile overseas to be able to reinvest future profits in the U.S. without paying the punitive American tax rate. If they succeed, the U.S. could fall to dead last on next year's ranking. Now there's a second-term legacy project for the President.

The new index also suggests taxation is a greater burden on business in the U.S. than in countries that American liberals have long praised as models of enlightened big government. Finland, Germany, Norway and Sweden, with their large social safety nets, all finish in the top 20 on the new ranking. The United Kingdom manages to fund socialized medicine while finishing 11 spots ahead of the U.S.

The new champion of tax competitiveness is Estonia, where—liberals may be astonished to learn—people enjoy the rule of law and even paved roads, despite reasonable tax rates.
Maybe that's the difference...

The Smell Of The Herd

Are we all just part of the crowd?
Recent studies suggest that our sensitivity to crowds is built into our perceptual system and operates in a remarkably swift and automatic way. In a 2012 paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, A.C. Gallup, then at Princeton University, and colleagues looked at the crowds that gather in shopping centers and train stations.

In one study, a few ringers simply joined the crowd and stared up at a spot in the sky for 60 seconds. Then the researchers recorded and analyzed the movements of the people around them. The scientists found that within seconds hundreds of people coordinated their attention in a highly systematic way. People consistently stopped to look toward exactly the same spot as the ringers.
We are all Walkers, we just don't know it?

Green Tightwad

So where's Richard Branson's money?
The British entrepreneur famously promised to divert a share of the profits from his Virgin airlines empire to find a cleaner fuel, after a 2006 private meeting with Al Gore.

Branson went on to found a $25m Earth prize for a technology that could safely suck 1bn tons of carbon a year from the atmosphere. In 2009, he set up the Carbon War Room, an NGO which works on business solutions for climate change.

But by Klein’s estimate, Branson’s “firm commitment” of $3bn failed to materialise.

“So the sceptics might be right: Branson’s various climate adventures may indeed prove to have all been a spectacle, a Virgin production, with everyone’s favourite bearded billionaire playing the part of planetary saviour to build his brand, land on late night TV, fend off regulators, and feel good about doing bad,” Klein writes in This Changes Everything, Capitalism vs The Climate.
Sacrifice as they say, not as they do...

Myth Gun Busters

The Democrats made it up:
Democrats decided to push for a ban of what seemed like the most dangerous guns in America: assault weapons, which were presented by the media as the gun of choice for drug dealers and criminals, and which many in law enforcement wanted to get off the streets.

This politically defined category of guns — a selection of rifles, shotguns and handguns with “military-style” features — only figured in about 2 percent of gun crimes nationwide before the ban.

Handguns were used in more than 80 percent of murders each year, but gun control advocates had failed to interest enough of the public in a handgun ban. Handguns were the weapons most likely to kill you, but they were associated by the public with self-defense.
The scarier-looking the gun, the easier it was to target...

Here Come The Judges

This would explain a few things:
Democratic appointees who hear cases full time now hold a majority of seats on nine of the 13 United States Courts of Appeals. When Mr. Obama took office, only one of those courts had more full-time judges nominated by a Democrat.

The shift, one of the most significant but unheralded accomplishments of the Obama era, is likely to have ramifications for how the courts decide the legality of some of the president’s most controversial actions on health care, immigration and clean air. Since today’s Congress has been a graveyard for legislative accomplishment, these judicial confirmations are likely to be among its most enduring acts.
So I guess President Obama has that going for him, at least...

Happy Town

Santa Monica wants to know how happy you are:
This week, officials will begin asking residents how involved they are in community activities, if they know who to turn to in times of crisis, if they know their neighbors, how healthy they are, how lonely they might be and how good an education they believe their kids are receiving. Then they'll examine what changes are needed to make life better.

"It's really about trying to get a much clearer understanding of who the people of Santa Monica are, what they are doing and what we can do on a local government level to help ensure people are thriving," said Julie Rusk, assistant director of community and cultural services.

Some of the other four cities that won grants are going the more traditional route. Houston, for example, plans on building a better trash-collection system.
In Santa Monica, waste is what you make of it...

The Great Whitewash Of History

Which was the party of officially sanctioned prejudice, again?
The politicians who fought for segregation in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s were uniformly Democrats like George Wallace (who won his last election in 1982, as a Democrat), Orval Faubus and Strom Thurmond (who left the Democrats when he gave up supporting segregation). Former KKK members in national life included Democratic Senator and Supreme Court Justice (appointed by FDR) Hugo Black, who sat on the Court until the 1970s, and Senator Robert Byrd, who was still in the Senate until his death in Barack Obama’s second year in office.

If you want to put these facts in some historical context, of course, we can talk about history and context. But the Democrats’ official campaign website doesn’t do that – it never apologizes to African-Americans for the party’s history of supporting slavery and segregation, and actively celebrates the last 200 years of the Party’s history as an unbroken record of virtue in which “our party has led the fight for civil rights.” The only possible justification for this is the Democrats’ confidence that their own voters are completely ignorant of history.
Which is how the Democratic leadership would prefer it...

Stand At Attention (Even If You Can't)

Kanye West displays his keen observation skills:
The setting was the Qantas Credit Union Arena in Sydney, Australia, and West reportedly announced, “I can’t do this song. I can’t do this show until everybody stand up… Unless you got a handicap pass and you get special parking and shit. ‘Imma see you if you ain’t standing up, believe me, I’m very good at that.” Then came the foot-in-mouth moment. Most of the fans got up and boogied, but then West spotted a pair who’d remained in their seats, and refused to continue the show until the stood up and danced like the rest. One of the fans raised a prosthetic limb, thereby proving that she did “get special parking and shit,” to which West replied, “Okay, you fine.”

West then homed in on Fan No. 2, who was still seated. He stopped performing the tune “The Good Life” and declared, “This is the longest I’ve had to wait to do a song, it’s unbelievable.” The crowd was reportedly trying to clue in Kanye to his epic blunder, with the entire section making wheelchair signals with their arms. But to no avail. West sent his bulky bodyguard Pascal Duvier into the crowd to confirm that the seated fan was, in fact, in a wheelchair. When it was confirmed, West said, “He is in a wheelchair? It’s fine!”
The intelligence of Kanye West is not to be underestimated...

Oh Say Can You Party

America's national anthem, a party song?
Most elementary school classes note that the music for "The Star-Spangled Banner" came from a British drinking song. But in his well-received book, historian Marc Ferris, author of “Star-Spangled Banner: The Unlikely Story of America's National Anthem” (John Hopkins University Press, August 2014) gives a more sophisticated reading.

“The words of ‘To Anacreon in Heaven,’ the song that Francis Scott Key borrowed for the melody of 'The Star-Spangled Banner,' is a sly 1700’s paean to drinking and sex. Though understated, the line 'I’ll instruct you, like me to entwine; The myrtle of Venus with Bacchus’s vine' is unambiguous,” he wrote.
Party on, Francis...

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Golden Dreams

Some advice for struggling writers:
If you only write one book in your whole life, and only sell 600 copies or less, nonetheless, I assure you, I solemnly assure you, that this book will be someone’s absolutely favorite book of all time, and it will come to him on some dark day and give him sunlight, and open his eyes and fill his heart and make him see things in life even you never suspected, and will be his most precious tale, and it will live in his heart like the Book of Gold.
Be persistent, be golden...

Tax 'Em If You've Got 'Em

The health police are getting desperate:
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “Raising taxes on tobacco in support of the reduction of tobacco consumption is a core element of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), an international treaty that entered into force in 2005 and has been endorsed by 178 Parties.”

“Raising taxes on tobacco is the most effective way to reduce use and save lives,” added WHO Director-General Dr Margaret Chan. “Determined action on tobacco tax policy hits the industry where it hurts.”
Along with everyone else...

Civilization

Nancy Pelosi opines: