Thursday, August 21, 2014

Radioactive

Well, I feel safer now:
The number of accused and the duration of cheating are greater than was known when the Navy announced in February that it had discovered cheating on qualification exams by an estimated 20 to 30 sailors seeking to be certified as instructors at the nuclear training unit at Charleston, South Carolina. Students there are trained in nuclear reactor operations to prepare for service on any of the Navy’s 83 nuclear-powered submarines and aircraft carriers.

Neither the instructors nor the students are involved in handling nuclear weapons.

After further investigation the Navy determined that 78 enlisted sailors were implicated. Although the cheating is believed to have been confined to a single unit at Charleston and apparently was not known to commanding officers, the misconduct had been happening since at least 2007, according to Adm. John M. Richardson, director of naval reactors. The exact start of the cheating was not pinpointed.

“There was never any question” that the reactors were being operated safely, he said in an AP interview, yet the cheating was a stunning violation of Navy ethics.
Everything is under control...

Stay Out of The Web

Northern Illinois University literally doesn't want its students going there:
The internet is a dangerous place, and we wouldn’t want students inadvertently coming across something controversial, now would we?

Students who attempt to visit an unauthorized site through the campus network are redirected to a creepy “Web Page Access Warning.” The “warning” is that the students are about to go somewhere that probably violates NIU internet policy. One student reported the policy to Reddit after he received a warning for trying to access the Westboro Bapist Church’s Wikipedia page. That’s right, its Wikipedia page.

NIU cites “common sense, decency, ethical use, civility, and security,” as its various rationales for the policy. Yes, a public institution of higher learning believes that it is just common sense—and ethical—to dissuade students from visiting websites deemed harmful by administrators.
Danger, freedom of expression ahead...

Top Goons

How the Teamsters behave in Boston:
Angry that the show had not signed a Teamsters contract and that the production hired local PA’s to drive cast and crew vehicles, the dozen or so picketers from Boston’s Teamsters Local 25 kept at it for hours, raining down racist, sexist and homophobic threats and slurs as staffers came to and left the set that summer day. Jenn Levy, Bravo’s SVP Production, wasn’t spared. Arriving at the restaurant in her black SUV, she soon found herself running a gauntlet of vitriol. “She got of her car in front of the location and quickly ran through the picket line,” a source said. “They were yelling, ‘You bitch! You slut! We’re gonna get you!’ It went on like that all day.”
Being a thug means never having to apologize...

Clapter And Verse

The perils of comedy in the Obama era:
Clapter is the death knell of comedy, a sure sign that one is reinforcing preconceived notions rather than challenging prevailing norms. But clapter reigns supreme. In the age of Obama, there are a ton of comedians who have prospered by getting the audience to cheer. And there’s a whole separate set of comedians who have prospered by simply going along to get along. Every time I think about humor in the age of Obama, I return to this horribly disheartening line from Between Two Ferns creator Scott Aukerman, who had been asked if Obama pitched jokes for the bit: “I don’t think the president has to pitch jokes, he just says jokes and we enjoy them.”
But is the joke really on those who are supposed to laugh at those in power?

The Cupcake Cops

George Will is fed up:
By printing and borrowing money, government avoids thinking about its proper scope and actual competence. . . . The collapse of confidence in government is not primarily because many conspicuous leaders are conspicuously dimwitted, although when Joe Biden refers to ‘the nation of Africa,’ or Harry Reid disparages the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision as rendered by ‘five white men’ (who included Clarence Thomas), Americans understand that their increasingly ludicrous government lacks adult supervision. What they might not understand is that Reids and Bidens come with government so bereft of restraint and so disoriented by delusions of grandeur that it gives fighting knives to police and grief to purveyors of noncompliant cupcakes.
You can't have your cupcake and eat it, too, nannystaters...

We Is Dumb

Are we getting dumber?
Jan te Nijenhuis, a psychology professor at the University of Amsterdam, says Westerners have lost an average of 14 IQ points since the Victoria Era.

He believes this is due to more intelligent women have fewer children than those who are less clever,The Huffington Post reported.

Dr Woodley and others think humans will gradually become less and less intelligent.

But Dr Flynn says if the decline in IQ scores is the end of the Flynn effect, scores should stabilise.

He thinks that even if humans do become more stupid, better healthcare and technology will mean that all people will have fewer children and the ‘problem’ will regulate itself.
the dumb and dumber era? (Well, from some of what I've seen, I believe it...)

Bad Deal All Around

The government says President Obama broke the law when he traded Berghdal:
“[The Department of Defense] violated section 8111 because it did not notify the relevant congressional committees at least 30 days in advance of the transfer,” the GAO report said. “In addition, because DOD used appropriated funds to carry out the transfer when no money was available for that purpose, DOD violated the Antideficiency Act. The Antideficiency Act prohibits federal agencies from incurring obligations exceeding an amount available in an appropriation.”
It's not like it's the first time that's happened...

Water Town

Water for me, not for thee:
Mr. Manson wants the National Park Service to press the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to end the special exemption from the Endangered Species Act (ESA), but “the Park Service just won’t do it.”


Why not? Jeffrey Olson, National Park Service spokesman, said the agency cannot comment on ongoing litigation, but critics point out that San Joaquin Valley farmers have nowhere near the political clout of San Francisco’s political leadership, which includes Mrs. Pelosi and a good chunk of the state’s dominant liberal power structure.

“I think the law is being subjectively applied,” said Aubrey Bettencourt, executivedirector of the California Water Alliance. “California is a tale of two cities. If you added all the agrarian counties of California together in terms of registered voters, that’s not even enough to offset either San Francisco or Los Angeles. There are not enough votes.”
Unless you're a fish...

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Game Pay

Will this year's Super Bowl halftime performers have to pay for the privilege of working at the big game?
It is unclear how much money the NFL was seeking, and whether it would likely have amounted to more or less than the extra income the chosen performer might stand to generate from the exposure. No decision has been made yet and it is possible another act could be selected.
In NFL, you pay league...

Back To Vacation

Why did President (or is it ex-President) Obama return to Washington?
Obama’s two days in Washington were mostly quiet, and concluded with the president receiving his daily national security briefing in the morning, and joining Vice President Biden to huddle with members of his economic team in the afternoon.

Administration officials have insisted for weeks that the president just wanted to return to the White House for a series of meetings, but the explanation was met with a healthy dose of skepticism, since Obama rarely interrupts his vacations.
Judicial Watch estimates the extra roundtrip cost $1.1 million. Only daughter Malia accompanied Obama back to Washington.

Speculation for why Obama returned focused around the possibility of a secret foreign leader meeting or the roll out of a new administration initiative on immigration or corporate taxes.

But no such explanation materialized.
Keeping up even rare appearances never seems to need one...

Friends On The Inside

Nope, nothing suspicious going on here:
“For me, it’s not a political decision,” Chalmers told the newspaper. “That’s what a grand jury is about – take the emotion out of it and look at the facts and make your best decision based on your life experience.”

More troubling, however, is the fact that Chalmers attended, photographed, and commented on an event with Democratic state Sen. Kirk Watson while grand jury proceedings were ongoing.

Watson was a witness in front of the grand jury. On June 27, 2014, Chalmers shared a photo of the Watson event on a community Facebook page she started called Developer’s Dungeon. “Senator Kirk Watson telling the story of the Wendy Davis fillibuster (sic),” she wrote in a comment accompanying the picture.
A rigged jury is a useful jury...

Endangered Species

Don't kill the dinosaurs:
Alex Stone said he and his classmates were told in class to write a few sentences about themselves, and a "status" as if it was a Facebook page.

Stone said in his "status" he wrote a fictional story that involved the words "gun" and "take care of business."

"I killed my neighbor's pet dinosaur, and, then, in the next status I said I bought the gun to take care of the business," Stone said.

Stone says his statements were taken completely out of context.

"I could understand if they made him re-write it because he did have "gun" in it. But a pet dinosaur?" said Alex's mother Karen Gray."I mean first of all, we don't have dinosaurs anymore. Second of all, he's not even old enough to buy a gun."
Common sense, like the dinosaurs, seems to be extinct...

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Funky Old Man

John McCain does the robot:

Nanny Nation

Do Americans want a nanny state for their kids?
Democrats and Republicans tend to agree the law should require 6-year-olds and 9-year-olds be supervised at public parks, but Republicans (73%) are 15 points more likely than Democrats (58%) to also want the law to apply to 12 year-olds as well. Strong Republicans diverge from independent-leaning Republicans on this issue. Independent-leaning Republicans are actually as likely as Democrats (4 in 10) to say 12 year olds should be allowed to play in public parks unsupervised, compared to 26 percent of strong Republicans.

Americans who think government should promote traditional values are also more likely to say the law should require supervision of 12 year olds at public parks—69 to 55 percent of those who say government should not promote traditional values.
We get the nannies we deserve...

Gut Reaction

Does your bacteria have you under its control?
We’ve come to appreciate how beneficial our microbes are — breaking down our food, fighting off infections and nurturing our immune system. It’s a lovely, invisible garden we should be tending for our own well-being.

But in the journal Bioessays, a team of scientists has raised a creepier possibility. Perhaps our menagerie of germs is also influencing our behavior in order to advance its own evolutionary success — giving us cravings for certain foods, for example.

Maybe the microbiome is our puppet master.
We are already assimilated?

The Smoke-Filled Oval Room

President Obama worksbehind closed doors:
Mr. Obama’s increasingly expansive appetite for the use of unilateral action on issues including immigration, tax policy and gay rights has emboldened activists and businesses to flock to the administration with their policy wish lists. It also has opened the president, already facing charges of executive overreach, to criticism that he is presiding over opaque policy-making, with the potential to reward political backers at the expense of other interests, including some on the losing side who are threatening to sue.
And not just them...

The Long Arm Of The Past

Your record follows you:
Many people who have never faced charges, or have had charges dropped, find that a lingering arrest record can ruin their chance to secure employment, loans and housing. Even in cases of a mistaken arrest, the damaging documents aren’t automatically removed. In other instances, arrest information is forwarded to the FBI but not necessarily updated there when a case is thrown out locally. Only half of the records with the FBI have fully up-to-date information.

“There is a myth that if you are arrested and cleared that it has no impact,” says Paul Butler, professor of law at Georgetown Law. “It’s not like the arrest never happened.”
Free and clear? Not always...

Texas Inquisition

Even the New York times agrees that the attempted prosecution of Rick Perry is bogus:
Governors and presidents threaten vetoes and engage in horse-trading all the time to get what they want, but for that kind of political activity to become criminal requires far more evidence than has been revealed in the Perry case so far. Perhaps Mr. McCrum will have some solid proof to show once the case heads to trial. But, for now, Texas voters should be more furious at Mr. Perry for refusing to expand Medicaid, and for all the favors he has done for big donors, than for a budget veto.
Sometimes a ham sandwich is just a ham sandwich...

Monday, August 18, 2014

Going My Way?

Would you pick up a robot hitchhiker?
HitchBOT, created by team of Ontario-based communication researchers studying the relationship between people and technology, will reach its final destination Sunday in Victoria, British Columbia, where it will receive a traditional aboriginal canoe greeting at Victoria Harbor.

"What we wanted to do is situate robotics and artificial technologies into unlikely scenarios and push the limits of what it's capable of," said David Smith, the robot's co-creator, who teaches at Ontario's McMaster University. "It's challenging but it can also be highly engaging and entertaining as hitchBOT has proven."
Even robot overlords need a lift once in a while...

The Dark Side

The tourism for places that aren't in other guide books:
Just about every article on dark tourism, including Luongo's, is quick to mention that there's nothing new about our interest in going to places associated with death. Public hangings, for instance, were once the norm. During July 1861, several sightseers packed picnic baskets before heading out to witness one of the earlier battles of the American Civil War. People have flocked to the Colosseum for years. What sets Dark Tourism apart as something new, however, is the tourism industry's packaging and marketing of such places.
Humanity's dark side for fun and profit?

The Libertarian Generation

These are not your baby boomer parents' liberals:
What makes this generation particularly notable is that they don’t conform to conventional political stereotypes. In particular, their increased social liberalism has not gone in lockstep with economic liberalism.

To this point, Thomas Edsall in the New York Times citing a recent Pew survey observes the "emergence of a cohort of younger voters who are loyal to the Democratic Party, but much less focused on economic redistribution than on issues of personal and sexual autonomy." Edsall cites an email exchange with Andrew Kohut of the Pew Research Center, in which Kohut further explains, "There is a libertarian streak that is apparent among these left-of-center young people. Socially liberal but very wary of government."
The streak is alive...

Non-Political Science

Silencing dissenters won't end debate:
Genuine scientific inquiry is degraded when science becomes politicized. The standards that have prevailed since the Scientific Revolution conflict with the advocacy needs of politics, and AGW would be finished as the basis of a political program if confidence in its scientific consensus were undermined. Its advocates’ evasion of rigorous falsifiability tests points to AGW’s current weakness as a science. As an academic critic of the science on which AGW rests, Murry Salby may have been silenced for now. The observed behavior of nature, from which he draws his analysis, cannot be dismissed so readily.
But the "experts" will do their best to try...

On The Job Debt

Government job training trains no one:
Many graduates wind up significantly worse off than when they started — mired in unemployment and debt from training for positions that do not exist, and they end up working elsewhere for minimum wage.

Split between federal and state governments — federal officials dispense the money and states license the training — the initiative lacks rigorous oversight by either. It includes institutions that require thousands of hours of instruction and charge more than the most elite private colleges. Some courses are offered at for-profit colleges that have committed fraud in their search for federal funding. This includes Corinthian Colleges Inc., which reached an agreement last month with the federal Education Department to shut down or sell many of its campuses.
Several years and thousands of dollars wasted? Sounds like college...

The View From Above

Spoken like a snob:
“I think if you were to go around to most of the — what I would think of as super-sophisticated people who think about politics and policy more than five minutes a month — we are doing really well.”


“And the question in the United States of America is how are we doing with everybody else, which is the 99.5 percent of the people whose lives are very busy and complicated and pressing and they don’t have a lot of time to think about the things that don’t immediately impact themselves and their family.
We are the 99.5 percent...

Fire Birds

Going green literally burns:
More than 300,000 mirrors, each the size of a garage door, reflect solar rays onto three boiler towers each looming up to 40 stories high. The water inside is heated to produce steam, which turns turbines that generate enough electricity for 140,000 homes.

Sun rays sent up by the field of mirrors are bright enough to dazzle pilots flying in and out of Las Vegas and Los Angeles.

Federal wildlife officials said Ivanpah might act as a "mega-trap" for wildlife, with the bright light of the plant attracting insects, which in turn attract insect-eating birds that fly to their death in the intensely focused light rays.

Federal and state biologists call the number of deaths significant, based on sightings of birds getting singed and falling, and on retrieval of carcasses with feathers charred too severely for flight.
When it comes to environmentalism, everybody gets burned...

Let Them Eat Granola

Snacks for me, not for thee:
Students are already revolting against the newly-implemented school snack regulations that affect what is sold in vending machines.

They will probably be equally upset to learn the vending machine just across the hall – in the teachers lounge – is exempt from the regulations.

In the Spring 2014 issue of School Nutrition News, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction rationalized school employees can continue to get candy bars and Fritos from the vending machine in the teachers lounge. They’re exempt from the new rules because “they aren’t accessible to students.”
Sounds like an invitation to a raid...

Top Cop Comes To Town

I'm sure everything will be completely fair and above board:
President Barack Obama is sending Attorney General Eric Holder to Ferguson, Missouri, to meet with federal law enforcement authorities investigating the police shooting of an unarmed teenager.

Obama says Holder will travel to the St. Louis suburb on Wednesday.

Holder recently authorized a federal autopsy on the body of Michael Brown, the unarmed 18-year-old who was fatally shot on Aug. 9. Brown was black; the officer who shot him was white.
It's not as if he doesn't have friends down there...

Process Servers

Silly liberals, transparency is for kids:
A watchdog group on Monday sued the U.S. government, accusing the Obama White House of interfering in and thwarting the release of public documents under the Freedom of Information Act.

The lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia by the group Cause of Action (CoA) names 12 federal agencies that delayed the release of documents so officials could consult with White House under a new process established in spring 2009.

The process, which gave White House officials review authority over documents that federal agencies wanted to release that mentioned the White House or presidential aides, was based on a previously secret April 15, 2009 memo by then-White House Counsel Gregory Craig that instructed all federal agencies to consult with Mr. Obama’s lawyers on the release of documents containing “White House equities.”

The lawsuit challenges that process, and says the term “White House equities” was never mentioned in the FOIA law and has been used to delay the legitimate release of public information.
It bears repeating: you will know what they want you to know-and always intended it that way...

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Blogging In The Years: 1969

The big concert is over:
As the music wailed on into the early morning hours, more than 100 campfires - fed by fence-posts and any other wood the young people could lay their hands on- flickered around the hillside that formed a natural amphitheater for the festival.

By midnight nearly half of the 300,000 fans who had camped here for the weekend had left. A thunderstorm late yesterday afternoon provided the first big impetus to depart, and a steady stream continued to leave through the night.

Drugs and auto traffic continued to be the main headaches.

But the crowd itself was extremely well-behaved. As Dr. William Abruzzi, the festival's chief medical officer, put it: "There has been no violence whatsoever, which is remarkable for a crowd of this size. These people are really beautiful.
But dig the coverage from the hip crew at CBS:

The Return

Washington's prodigal son comes home, for now:
The White House has been cagey about why the president needs to be back in Washington for those discussions. He's received multiple briefings on both issues while on vacation. The White House had also already announced Obama's plans to return to Washington before the U.S. airstrikes in Iraq began and before the shooting of a teen in Ferguson that sparked protests.

Part of the decision to head back to Washington appears aimed at countering criticism that Obama is spending two weeks on a resort island in the midst of so many foreign and domestic crises.
I'm sure he'll be back golfing in no time...

Blade

Don't bring a knife to a mastodon fight:
A 22,000-year-old mastodon skull and tool dredged from the seafloor in the Chesapeake Bay hints of early settlers in North America. The two relics, which were pulled up together, may come from a place that hasn’t been dry land since 14,000 years ago. If so, the combination of the finds may suggest that people lived in North America, and possibly butchered the mastodon, thousands of years before people from the Clovis culture, who are widely thought to be the first settlers of North America and the ancestors of all living Native Americans.
It was a rough neighborhood back then...

Heartbeats

Students in Iowa must wear heart monitors:
"It will be a large portion of their grade, because we want to grade them on what they're actually doing in our class," Dubuque Schools Athletic and Wellness Director Amy Hawkins told ABC News.

Teachers will use the information collected from the heart rate monitors to write report cards.

"It really takes the opinion out of things," Hawkins said. "You know it's not really 'I think your kid is doing this and this in class.'"
Have a heart...or get an F?

Popped

The creator of the pop-up ad comes clean:
It was a way to associate an ad with a user’s page without putting it directly on the page, which advertisers worried would imply an association between their brand and the page’s content. Specifically, we came up with it when a major car company freaked out that they’d bought a banner ad on a page that celebrated anal sex. I wrote the code to launch the window and run an ad in it. I’m sorry. Our intentions were good.
So now you know...

A Note A Day

Reading doctor's notes can be good for all concerned:
In 2010, Tom Delbanco, an internist, and Jan Walker, a nurse and researcher, started an experiment called OpenNotes that let patients read what their primary care providers write about them. They hypothesized that giving patients access to notes would allow them to become more engaged in their care.

Many doctors resisted the idea. Wouldn't open medical records inhibit what they wrote about sensitive issues, such as substance abuse? What if patients misunderstood the notes? Would that lead to more lawsuits? And what would patients do with all the information anyway?

After the first year, the results were striking: 80 percent of patients who saw their records reported better understanding of their medical condition and said they were in better control of their health. Two-thirds reported that they were better at sticking with their prescriptions. Ninety-nine percent of the patients wanted OpenNotes to continue, and no doctor withdrew from the pilot. Instead, they shared anecdotes like mine. When patients see their records, there's more trust and more accuracy.
It does help when you can actually understand what your doctor wrote without having to be a handwriting expert...

Smart Stuff

How to look more intelligent:
Other ways to signal intelligence without opening your mouth include walking at the same pace as those around you. Subjects in one study rated a person moving faster or slower than “normal human walking speed” as less competent and intelligent [2]. Speaking of incompetence: don’t drink in public, at least not at work functions. The perceived association between alcohol and stupid behavior is so strong, according to a 2013 study, that merely holding a beer makes you appear dumber [3].
Note to politicians who might be thinking of holding a beer summit...

Out In The Cold

Is the power grid ready for winter?
This year, if you get the kind of winter that we had in 2009-2010 or 2002-2003 with the nation’s grid on the ropes the way it is and some of these regulations that I hear about coming down that are supposed to close plants on January 1st – and what I know, because we’re involved in getting people ready to fight snow in cities around the country – this could be a very, very big economic impact on the winter. And we’re very concerned about that.
The EPA-keeping America in the dark for its own good...

Chinese Flight

Who's leaving China?
Most are tourists who come home. But rapidly growing numbers are college students and the wealthy, and many of them stay away for good. A survey by the Shanghai research firm Hurun Report shows that 64% of China's rich—defined as those with assets of more than $1.6 million—are either emigrating or planning to.

To be sure, the departure of China's brightest and best for study and work isn't a fresh phenomenon. China's communist revolution was led, after all, by intellectuals schooled in Europe. What's new is that they are planning to leave the country in its ascendancy. More and more talented Chinese are looking at the upward trajectory of this emerging superpower and deciding, nevertheless, that they're better off elsewhere.
Ironically, many Americans now feel the same way...

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Out In The Cold

Are social conservatives alone in the libertarian moment?
Many social conservatives say they feel politically isolated as the country seems to be hurtling to the left, with marijuana now legal in Colorado and gay marriage gaining ground across the nation. They feel out of place in a GOP increasingly dominated by tea party activists and libertarians who prefer to focus on taxes and the role of government and often disagree with social conservatives on drugs or gay rights.

Meanwhile, the list of possible front-runners for the party’s 2016 presidential nomination includes New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who has a limited relationship with evangelical activists, and the libertarian-leaning Paul, the senator from Kentucky who only recently began reaching out to social conservatives. One prominent establishment favorite weighing a bid, Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), is a supporter of legal same-sex marriage who claims his views on the issue could help him and his party appeal to younger voters.
There was once a huge gulf between libertarians and the GOP, as well. Perhaps this too, shall pass...

No Reply At All

President Obama sees all, does nothing:
“I certainly do not think President Obama is responsible for all of the world crises that have taken place during his time in office,” said William C. Inboden, a former national security aide to President George W. Bush and executive director of the William P. Clements Jr. Center on History, Strategy and Statecraft at the University of Texas. “But he is responsible for actions and attitudes he took that have contributed to some of those crises — and he is also responsible for how he responds, or fails to respond.”
The President does have a busy golf schedule...

Texas Ham Sandwich

Why is Rick Perry being indicted?
The “crime” for which Perry faces a sentence of 5 to 99 years in prison is vetoing funding for a state agency. The conventions of reporting — which treat the fact of an indictment as the primary news, and its merit as a secondary analytic question — make it difficult for people reading the news to grasp just how farfetched this indictment is.
....

Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg — a Democrat who oversees the state’s Public Corruption unit — was arrested for driving very, very drunk. What followed was a relatively ordinary political dispute. Perry, not unreasonably, urged Lehmberg to resign. Democrats, not unreasonably, resisted out of fear that Perry would replace her with a Republican. Perry, not unreasonably, announced and carried out a threat to veto funding for her agency until Lehmberg resigned.

True, I do not have a fancy law degree from Harvard or Yale or, for that matter, anywhere. I am but a humble country blogger. And yet, having read the indictment, legal training of any kind seems unnecessary to grasp its flimsiness. . . . To describe the indictment as “frivolous” gives it far more credence than it deserves.
And, not unreasonably, Perry is resisting.

The Party Left Him

Joe Piscopo on why he is no longer a Democrat:
I was a Democrat because I believed in civil rights, like Lyndon Johnson. I was a Democrat because while it was clear to me that the Republican politicians were out of touch and cared for only the upper class, Democrats like Franklin Roosevelt cared for the masses and helping the working man. I was a Democrat because I believed in a strong defense and opposed communism, like John F. Kennedy. And I was a Democrat because I loved the fact that Kennedy understood we needed lower marginal tax rates.

By and large, none of these values are represented in the Democratic Party today. From where I’m standing, the party has largely abandoned its commitment to civil rights and instead allows race-baiters to be national power brokers. As spokesman for the Boys and Girls Clubs of New Jersey, I am hurt that there is not one Democrat in Washington who cares enough about the great inner cities of this country to help those in dire distress from poverty and crime. These cities are in worse shape than those countries from which all those illegal “children” crossing our borders daily are coming.

In my home state, if I can walk the streets of Camden to try to help the disenfranchised, why can’t the Democrat in the White House walk the South Side of his hometown and do the same? In terms of caring for the working class, it seems as though Democrats are more interested in catering to the special interests, such as the trial lawyers, lobbyists and George Soros who fund their campaigns — rather than fighting for small-business relief to allow a higher minimum wage or (God forbid) middle-class tax relief.
Unfortunately, it hasn't been that Democratic Party for a long time...

A Canal Runs Through It

Happy 100th anniversary to the Panama Canal:
The French took on the project in the 1880s behind engineer and Suez Canal mastermind Ferdinand de Lesseps. But after over 20,000 workers died, largely due to disease, the rock bed proved too difficult to cut through, and the project suffered financial problems, they left the effort. Theodore Roosevelt took over the Panama Canal project in 1902—a move that led to Panama's independence from Colombia and gave the U.S. rights to a 10-mile stretch. (Per a 1977 agreement, the United States returned the land to Panama in 1999.)

More than a decade later—following nearly 6,000 more worker deaths—the canal opened in 1914. Where traveling from the Atlantic to the Pacific previously took thousands of miles and weeks or months, it could now be done in just 48 miles and less than 10 hours.
It's a shame that something like it probably couldn't be done today (in the U.S. at least.)

Here There Be Dragons

Who you gonna call?
Rossendale Council was asked to detail its employment of exorcists and faith healers. Worthing Council was asked to explain its emergency plans for meteor strikes and solar flares. Birmingham was asked to reveal how many requests it's had to screen public buildings for ghosts.

And there be dragons in northwest England, apparently. One fact-seeker asked Wigan Council: "What plans are in place to protect the town from a dragon attack?"
No word on elves or faeries...

Friday, August 15, 2014

Swarm

You will be assimilated:

Final Move

It must be that violent intellectual culture:
Hundreds of spectators attending the 41st Chess Olympiad in Tromsø, Norway, and countless others watching live TV coverage on Norway's state broadcaster, reacted with shock after Kurt Meier, 67, a Swiss-born member of the Seychelles team, collapsed on Thursday afternoon, during his final match of the marathon two-week contest. Despite immediate medical attention at the scene he died later in hospital.

Hours later, a player from Uzbekistan who has not yet been named was found dead in his hotel room in central Tromsø. Norwegian police and the event's organisers said on Friday they were not treating the deaths as suspicious.

"We regard these as tragic but natural deaths," said Jarle Heitmann, a spokesman for the Chess Olympiad. "When so many people are gathered for such a long time, these things can happen."

The Olympiad involved 1,800 competitors from 174 countries, accompanied by more than 1,000 coaches, delegates and fans.

The event sees players compete in national teams over 11 rounds, often playing matches that last for up to six hours, and claims a worldwide online audience of tens of millions.

There were brief scenes of panic in the hall after Meier's collapse, when spectators reportedly mistook a defibrillator for a weapon. Play was briefly suspended before his death was marked with a minute's silence during the closing ceremony.

While the causes of the two men's deaths are still unknown, they will raise questions about the mental and physical stress that tournaments place on players.
Shouldn't ESPN be all over this?

Perry, Pinched

Rick Perry is in trouble:
A special prosecutor spent months calling witnesses and presenting evidence that Perry broke the law when he promised publicly to nix $7.5 million over two years for the public integrity unit run by the office of Travis County Democratic District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg. Lehmberg was convicted of drunken driving, but refused Perry's calls to resign.

Perry's general counsel, Marry Anne Wiley, defended the governor's action.

"The veto in question was made in accordance with the veto authority afforded to every governor under the Texas Constitution," she said. "We will continue to aggressively defend the governor's lawful and constitutional action, and believe we will ultimately prevail."
The prosecution doesn't exactly have a star witness:

The Legacy Of Psychobabble

The supporters of a California professor who attacked a pro-life student come to some rather interesting conclusions about her actions:
Some of the letters were written on UCSB letterhead, presumably on university equipment and university time. Among them is one from history professor Paul Spikard, who states that his colleague is the object of “an energetic smear campaign that seems to have little to do with her person or her actions, and a great deal to do with fomenting racial hatred and rallying right-wing political sentiment.”

“It would be tragic if Dr. Miller-Young were sentenced to jail time or mandatory anger management classes based on the press’ portrayal of her as an Angry Black Woman.”

He cites no reports or stories to back up the claim.

Another letter of support, also on UCSB letterhead, comes from Eileen Boris, a professor in the Department of Feminist Studies.

Prof. Boris seeks clemency for her colleague, stating, “she was at the stage of a pregnancy when one is not fully one’s self fully, so the image of a severed fetus appeared threatening.”

“If she appears smiling on camera,” Prof. Boris continues, “she is ‘wearing the mask,’ that is, she is hiding her actual state through a strategy of self-presentation that is a cultural legacy of slavery.”
So the next time you hit somebody, just call it a strategy of self-presentation...

No Obamacare Near Me

A government worker's union comes out against Obamacare for its members:
With a Republican-controlled House of Representatives that was elected on a message of reining in federal spending, the NTEU's been on alert for any and all legislation that proposes reducing pay and benefits for federal workers. In fact, on the union's website, there's a handy list of 13 active pieces of legislation (all sponsored by Republicans) that the NTEU says it wants to stop. "Warning!" reads the top of the fact sheet. "Which of these bills could hurt you? ALL OF THEM."

Among the bills is H.R. 1780, sponsored by Michigan Republican Dave Camp. The NTEU says the bill could hurt workers because it would "require most federal employees to leave the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program...and instead join health plans established under the Affordable Care Act."
Now they know how other workers feel...

Don't Give A Damn

Joe Scarborough takes note of Obama's early retirement:

Entering The Arena

A former basketball star is not impressed:
too EVERY African American out there..how dumb are we really???every time we hear some bad news, the first thing we do is #RIOT #ROB #STEAL #BURN sh-t in our OWN neighborhoods..this racism fight has never been #blackvswhite, it’s ALWAYS been #blackvsblack from what the stats.. About 10 riots from the black community over the years and the only thing damaged ,was the BLACK COMMUNITY by The BLACK COMMUNITY..only reason they issue riot police isssss just in case you actually got smart enough to walk 6 blocks ,YALL ain’t f---ing up white rich s--- smdh
...

FAMILiES of the victims pleaseeeeee stop asking #alsharpton to speak or ur behalf,you have a better chance having #caesar the monkey from #planetoftheapes to get justice for you..the stats also show AL coon sharpton has not helped one situation he has protested at,he actually made it worst and because of him the jury goes the other way..(think about it) Jena six,trayvon and the list goes back way back..#AL ur like a #THOT in the club,lookn for attention what u said at trayvons rally #enoughisenough ur right were tired of u PRETENDING.
Unfortunately, for some fake outrage is more profitable than the real thing. Meanwhile, back in Missouri:
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon (D) announced Thursday afternoon that Johnson would take over security, and vowed that officers would take a different approach to handling the massive crowds that have taken to Ferguson’s streets each night.

Not only did Johnson march with the protesters, but he vowed to not blockade the street, to set up a media staging center, and to ensure that residents’ rights to assemble and protest were not infringed upon. Officers working crowd control, he said, have been told they must take off their gas masks.

“When I see a young lady cry because of fear of this uniform, that’s a problem.” Johnson said. “We’ve got to solve that.”

And the difference from protests at similar times in the evening on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday was massive. By this time on Wednesday, police had detained protesters, by this point on Monday officers had begun deploying tear-gas canisters at residents who would not disperse.
What a difference a change in leadership makes.

Win This Vote

How desperate can you get?
Alarmed that fewer than one-fourth of voters are showing up for municipal elections, the Los Angeles Ethics Commission voted Thursday to recommend that the City Council look at using cash prizes to lure a greater number of people to the polls.

On a 3-0 vote, the panel said it wanted City Council President Herb Wesson's Rules, Elections and Intergovernmental Relations Committee to seriously consider the use of financial incentives and a random drawing during its elections, possibly as soon as next year.

Depending on the source of city funds, the idea could require a ballot measure. Commissioners said they were unsure how big the prizes should be or how many should be offered, saying a pilot program should first be used to test the concept.

"Maybe it's $25,000 maybe it's $50,000," said Commission President Nathan Hochman. "That's where the pilot program comes in -- to figure out what ... number and amount of prizes would actually get people to the voting box."
Maybe they should be asking why people don't want to vote, instead of trying to buy them...

Movie Night, Government Style

It's Federally funded sex and violence:
The National Endowment for the Arts directly funded at least 39 film festivals last fiscal year at a cost to taxpayers of $845,000. That doesn’t include the dozens of other festivals funded by federal dollars funneled through state and local arts agencies.

Among the films featured at taxpayer-subsidized film festivals were “Wawd Ahp,” a short film in which a rapper decapitates himself, then has sex with his own severed head in a bathtub; and “Eczemus,” which uses stop-motion animation to portray a man urinating a stream of blood while pummeling a baby bird to death and watching his dog defecate.

“Farah Goes Bang,” a feature about a young woman’s desperate attempts to lose her virginity while working for John F. Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign, has been shown at several film festivals funded by the NEA over the past two years.

For spending tax dollars on film expositions that many taxpayers would find repulsive, the National Endowment for the Arts earns this week’s Golden Hammer, a distinction given by The Washington Times to examples of questionable taxpayer spending.

On its website, the endowment says these film festivals are “exemplary projects” that give the public an opportunity to “experience and participate in the arts.”
Ah, yes-"quality" films...

Manbearpig's Money

Al Gore gets scammed?
Current TV co-founders Al Gore and Joel Hyatt have launched a fraud and breach-of-contract lawsuit claiming that Al Jazeera is withholding money from its $500 million purchase of the cable news network.

The complaint was filed under seal in the Delaware Court of Chancery.

Former U.S. vice president Al Gore is being represented by David Boies, the attorney who memorably represented him in the 2000 battle over a Florida election recount.

"Al Jazeera America wants to give itself a discount on the purchase price that was agreed to nearly two years ago," says Boies in a statement. "We are asking the Court to order Al Jazeera America to stop wrongfully withholding the escrow funds that belong to Current's former shareholders."
He's super serial!