Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Shock Theater

The play's the thing:
A spokesman for the Globe confirmed five members of the audience fainted in a particularly gory five-minute scene, adding front of house staff are "very well trained to look after people".
It is understood all five fell while watching Lavinia emerge from being brutally rape, with her tongue cut out and holding bloodied stumps for arms.
"Shakespeare definitely didn’t pull any punches when he was writing Titus – it is a brutally violent play and Lucy’s production is a bloody, exhilarating, incense-laden feast for the senses," the spokesman addad. "But not one for the squeamish!"
A lot of the Bard's stuff actually wasn't, when you think about it...

Mad Man

RIP Al Feldstein:
Born in 1925, Feldstein grew up in the Flatbush section of Brooklyn. He found early success as an artist a World's Fair contest for children and later trained at Manhattan's High School of Music and Art and Brooklyn College.

He got his first job in comics as a teenager, drawing background foliage for "Sheena, Queen of the Jungle," which starred a female version of Tarzan.

"Then I got a great promotion," he told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle in a 1997 interview. "I was drawing leopard spots on her groin and breasts."

Feldstein served a stint in the military at the end of World War II, painting murals and drawing cartoons for Army newspapers. After his discharge, he freelanced for various comics before landing at Entertainment Comics.

Feldstein's survivors include his wife, Michelle, stepdaughter Katrina Oppelt, her husband, and two grandsons, the funeral home said.

Designed for children but loved by many adults, Entertainment Comics' titles included Tales From the Crypt, Weird Science and Feldstein's eventual vehicle to fame, Mad.
Generations of kids will always be grateful to him for ruining their minds. RIP.

Free Speech Follies

Democrats have a popularity problem. So what do they want to do about it? Muzzle their critics:
Senate Democrats will schedule a vote this year on a constitutional amendment to reform campaign finance as they face tens of millions of dollars worth of attack ads from conservative groups.

The Senate will vote on an amendment sponsored by Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) that would overturn two recent court cases that have given corporations, labor unions and wealthy individuals free rein to spend freely on federal races.

“The Supreme Court is trying to take this country back to the days of the robber barons, allowing dark money to flood our elections. That needs to stop, and it needs to stop now,” said Senate Rules Committee Chairman Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who announced the plan.

“The only way to undo the damage the court has done is to pass Senator Udall’s amendment to the Constitution, and Senate Democrats are going to try to do that,” he said.

Schumer said the vote would take place by year’s end and called on Republican colleagues to join Democrats to ensure “the wealthy can’t drown out middle-class voices in our Democracy.”
Yes, I'm sure they'd love to help you make it harder for them to criticize the opposition...

Secret Irony

Transparency is what you make of it:
During a gathering here of major Democratic donors this week that has raised more than $30 million for liberal groups, questions about the party’s split personality on the issue were dodged, rejected or answered with an array of rationalizations. That is, when they weren’t met with recriminations or even gentle physical force.

Those who did address the issue at the annual spring meeting of the Democracy Alliance donor club at the Ritz-Carlton sounded not unlike the conservatives who bristle at questions about their own big-money activity. Their donations are animated by a desire to right a country headed down the wrong path, both sides argue.

The liberal strain of the argument is usually sprinkled with a heaping helping of moral superiority. Their most generous backers are giving to candidates and causes that could hurt their bottom line by raising taxes on the denizens of their elite tax bracket, the argument goes, whereas conservative big donors are seeking to pad their pockets by trying to slash taxes and regulations that impinge on their business.

“The people who are giving money into politics here are interested in changing the system. They’re not interested in getting return on investment,” said former Stride Ride president Arnold Hiatt, who donated $1.9 million to Democratic super PACs in 2012, not including gifts to nonprofits that aren’t required to disclose their donors. “You can focus on the irony, but it’s not hypocrisy because we’re not trying to get something for our donations.”
That's their story, and they're sticking to it...

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Lost Sterling

Sterling is out:
"The hateful opinions voiced by that of the man [on the tape] are those of Donald Sterling," NBA commissioner Adam Silver said. "…I'm personally distraught the views expressed by Mr. Sterling came from within an institution that has historically taken such a leadership role in matters of race relations."

As part of the ban, Sterling is not allowed "to attend any NBA games or practices, be present at any Clippers office or facility, or participate in any business or player personnel decisions involving the team." Sterling also will be barred from attending any Board of Governors meetings and participating in any other league activity.

The fine is the maximum the NBA can issue under the NBA constitution, Silver said. Seventy-five percent of the NBA's owners must vote to oust Sterling to force him to sell.

"I fully expect to get the support needed," Silver said.

"Adam has the votes – all of them, I believe," Silver said.

Several groups hoping to purchase the Clippers are already stepping forward with a bidding war expected to exceed $1 billion for the franchise, league sources told Yahoo Sports. Among those groups, Magic Johnson and Guggenheim Partners will be front and center in pursuit of the Clippers.

Silver said Sterling violated league rules through his "expressions of offensive and hurtful views, the impact of which has been widely felt throughout the league."
Back to the locker room, old man...

Back Door Man

The red in the Green:
The whole point of global warming is that it's a rationalization for progressives to do what progressives want to do, which is concentrate more and more power in Washington, more and more Washington power in the executive branch, more and more executive branch power in independent czars and agencies to micromanage the lives of the American people -- our shower heads, our toilets, our bathtubs, our garden hoses. Everything becomes involved in the exigencies of rescuing the planet.

Second, global warming is a religion in the sense that it's a series of propositions that can't be refuted. It's very ironic that the global warming alarmists say, "We are the real defenders of science," and then they adopt the absolute reverse of the scientific attitude, which is openness to evidence. You cannot refute what they say.
Big Environmentalist is watching you...

The Fracking Frontier

Is fracking coming to Nevada?
In a state world-famous as a gold producer, Houstonbased Noble Energy Inc. is looking deep underground to make big bucks from previously untappable oil deposits, spending up to $130 million to identify the possible rewards.

The venture is still in its early stages, with company representatives saying they have yet to assess the true potential, but word is out it could be significant. …

“What’s unique about Nevada is it really is a frontier area,” said Kevin Vorhaben, Rockies business unit manager for Noble Energy. “It’s a chance to get in and really do the right thing for oil and gas development. We’re excited to be in Nevada.” …

Noble’s activities target a checkerboard of private and public land in northeastern Nevada generally located between Elko and Wells north and south of Interstate 80. Sixty-seven percent of the 580-plus square-mile area is privately owned, with the remaining public land managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

The BLM is currently processing environmental assessments for Noble to drill up to 20 wells at Mary’s River, 4 miles northwest of Wells and up to another 20 just west of Jiggs. Fracking would be used to complete all wells drilled.
It would be good if the BLM did something productive in Nevada for a change...

Lost Generation

I think this is what they call rock bottom:
Millennials, which the pollsters defined as peopled aged 18 to 29, have lost trust in a variety of different major public institutions including the President, the military, Congress, the Supreme Court, and the federal government as a whole. Of all the institutions tracked by the poll, the President and the military lost the most trust among young Americans with a seven point drop. Overall, the pollsters said the level of trust millennials have in "most American institutions tested in our survey" had dropped below even "last year’s historically low numbers."
You just can't trust it...

Space Race

I guess it had to happen sooner or later:
Moscow reacted with fury to the inclusion in the sanctions of high-tech exports to Russia and threatened reprisals.

"If their aim is to deliver a blow to Russia's rocket-building sector, then by default, they would be exposing their astronauts on the ISS," Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said, according to the Interfax news agency.

"Sanctions are always a boomerang which come back and painfully hit those who launched them," added Rogozin on a visit to Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in March.

The International Space Station is operated jointly by Russia, the United States, Europe, Japan and Canada. Astronauts and cosmonauts depend on Russian Soyuz rockets to ferry them between it and Earth, ever since NASA scrapped its space shuttles in 2011.
It does seem that the retirement of the Space Shuttle might have been premature...

World Of Yesterday

The way the future wasn't:
That the future, in many of the exhibits and pavilions at the fair, looked almost wholly urban, rather sterile and vaguely Le Corbusierian might be a little disappointing to some viewers today. But when one considers that the 1939 expo — the second-largest American world’s fair of all time — was conceived, planned and executed in the latter years of the Great Depression and on the cusp of the global cataclysm of World War II, there’s something refreshingly and almost audaciously positive about the overall vibe. The exhibits might not have accurately anticipated or imagined what “Tomorrow” actually ended up looking like. But the fact that thousands brought the fair into being, and tens of millions came to witness the results of their effort, reflects an admirable optimism about the distant, if not the immediate, future.
The future is never what you expect it to be...

Monday, April 28, 2014

Out Of Love

They certainly waited long enough:
They said nothing as Obama went on foreign apology tours and stood silent as our allies warned of disastrous consequences. Even now, despite protests from a succession of Pentagon leaders, former Democratic defense hawks are helping Obama hollow out our military as Russia and China expand theirs and al Qaeda extends its footprint.
A king is no king without a court, and Obama has not lacked for lackeys. The system of checks and balances is written into the Constitution, but it is the everyday behavior of Americans of good will that makes the system work.
That system broke down under Obama, and the blame starts with the media. By giving the president the benefit of the doubt at every turn, by making excuses to explain away fiascos, by ignoring corruption, by buying the White House line that his critics were motivated by pure politics or racism, the Times and other organizations played the role of bartender to a man on a bender.
Even worse, they joined the party, forgetting the lessons of history as well as their own responsibilities to put a check on power. A purpose of a free press is to hold government accountable, but there is no fallback when the watchdog voluntarily chooses to be a lapdog.
And now that dog won't hunt anymore...

Pod People

And, even if there isn't a disaster, they'll work as normal Manhattan apartments:
Because of the city’s high population density and the desire to resettle as many residents as possible in their former neighborhoods, the OEM and the Department of Design and Construction (DDC) are developing a new approach to interim housing that provides higher-density living spaces than the single-household homes or trailers typically used for post-disaster housing.

They created a blueprint for the manufactured housing industry to use to create post-disaster housing, including requirements for safety, environmental quality, durability, and universal design.

In 2012, OEM secured funding from FEMA to build a prototype and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was designated as project manager for the prototype construction.

The prototype includes furniture and spaces for cooking, bathing, living and sleeping.

Officials say the stack-able apartments are ideal for the densely populated city.
Thus answering the question, "what if Ikea built apartments?"

Small Time

Our ancestors really were made of stronger stuff:
Experts say humans are past their peak and that modern-day people are 10 per cent smaller and shorter than their hunter-gatherer ancestors.

And if that’s not depressing enough, our brains are also smaller.

The findings reverse perceived wisdom that humans have grown taller and larger, a belief which has grown from data on more recent physical development.

The decline, said scientists, has happened over the past 10,000 years. They blame agriculture, with restricted diets and urbanisation compromising health and leading to the spread of disease.
Hunting and gathering does a body good?

Bench Warmers

There go the judges:
The Center for Public Integrity, in a report being released Monday, found 24 cases in which judges ruled despite owning stock in a company appearing before them. In two other cases, the judges had financial ties to law firms representing one of the parties.

When informed of the conflicts, all 16 judges sent letters to the parties involved in the cases, disclosing the violations. Several judges said their failure to withdraw from the cases was an oversight, the report said. Some of the judges had conflicts in more than one case.
They never heard of recusal?

Eat And Drink Me

At long last, bottled bottled water:
A team led by Rodrigo Garcia Gonzalez has been working on the Ooho water bottle, which, according to Smithsonian magazine, could reduce to obsolescence the 50 billion plastic bottles that Americans use each year.

The Ooho water bottle resembles a jellyfish and is made of edible material.

Gonzalez took inspiration from the culinary technique 'spherification' by legendary Spanish chef Ferran Adria, who used this technique to add juice-filled pearls to bubble tea.

"The main point in manipulating the water as solid ice during the encapsulation is to make it possible to get bigger spheres and allow the calcium and algae to stay exclusively in the membrane," Gonzalez told the Smithsonian.

The scientists received accolades from critics for his invention, but he also revealed that not all reactions were positive. He compares the edible water bottle's fortified layers to a fruit's skin.

"The jelly texture around [the bottles] is something we are not used to yet. Not all of the reactions were positive. Some people say that [the bottles] are like breast implants or jellyfish," he said.
Now, if they could do this with beer...

Toyota, Gone To Texas

Another employer leaves California behind:
Toyota Motor Corp. plans to move large numbers of jobs from its sales and marketing headquarters in Torrance to suburban Dallas, according to a person familiar with the automaker’s plans. …

The automaker won’t be the first big company Texas has poached from California.

Occidental Petroleum Corp. said in February that it was relocating from Los Angeles to Houston, making it one of around 60 companies that have moved to Texas since July 2012, according to Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

Perry last month visited the California to recruit companies. The group Americans for Economic Freedom also recently launched a $300,000 advertising campaign in which Perry contends 50 California companies have plans to expand or relocate in Texas because it offers a better business climate.

Like these other companies, Toyota could also save money in an environment of lower business taxes, real estate prices and cost of living.
Cheer up, Californians-at least you've still got that high-speed train...

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Lights Out

I thought this was what alcohol was for:
In 2005, Stanford scientist Karl Deisseroth discovered how to switch individual brain cells on and off by using light in a technique he dubbed 'optogenetics'.

Research teams around the world have since used this technique to study brain cells, heart cells, stem cells and others regulated by electrical signals.

However, light-sensitive proteins were efficient at switching cells on but proved less effective at turning them off.

Now, after almost a decade of research, scientists have been able to shut down the neurons as well as activate them.

Mr Deisseroth’s team has now re-engineered its light-sensitive proteins to switch cells much more adequately than before. His findings are presented in the journal Science.

Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, which funded the study, said this improved “off” switch will help researchers to better understand the brain circuits involved in behavior, thinking and emotion.
With some people-say, certain celebrities and politicians-this seems to happen frequently...

Stained Sterling

So the owner of the Clippers said something stupid:
TMZ first posted an audio recording Friday of a conversation reportedly between Sterling and his girlfriend, V. Stiviano, where the owner told her not to bring black players to team games or post pictures with African Americans on Instagram. “It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you’re associating with black people. Do you have to?” the voice in the recording says.

Sterling has owned the Clippers since 1981, when they were based in San Diego. Civil rights leaders and NBA stars such as LeBron James and Magic Johnson — whom Sterling singled out as someone not to post on Instagram — have condemned the remarks.
Ironically, he was scheduled to receive a major award, and, perhaps not so surprisingly, is a Democrat. So, is he a card-carrying racist, or an older man from a different generation who got caught saying what he really thinks in private? It may be despicable, but is it punishable?

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Grimm Reaper

If any of this does pan out, then Mr. Grimm deserves to go:
The charges against Mr. Grimm, 44, a Republican who was first elected in 2010 and represents Staten Island and part of Brooklyn, were expected to include mail fraud and wire fraud, and to focus largely on his conduct in connection with a health food restaurant he owned on the Upper East Side of Manhattan after he left the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2006, two of the people said. He was also expected to be charged with obstruction of justice, for allegedly lying under oath in a federal lawsuit.

The investigation of the second-term congressman, by the F.B.I. and the United States attorney’s office in Brooklyn, began more than two years ago with an examination of Mr. Grimm’s fund-raising for his 2010 race and expanded. Two of his fund-raisers have already been charged. One, Diana Durand of Houston, was charged with illegally funneling more than $10,000 into his campaign. The other, Ofer Biton, pleaded guilty to visa fraud charges.
It's easy to be corrupt. It's stupid to do it in one of the few reliably safe seats your party is supposed to have in opposition territory.

War, What Is It Good For?

More than we might realize:
So yes, war is hell — but have you considered the alternatives? When looking upon the long run of history, it becomes clear that through 10,000 years of conflict, humanity has created larger, more organized societies that have greatly reduced the risk that their members will die violently. These better organized societies also have created the conditions for higher living standards and economic growth. War has not only made us safer, but richer, too.
At least for the winners...

The House Stays

"House of Cards" can stay in Maryland:
Production company Media Rights Capital had threaten to leave the state because it looked like Maryland would fall short of meeting the same level of tax credits the show received in previous seasons, igniting a debate among lawmakers over the value of incentives. Some elected officials said that the company’s position felt like extortion.

The show will receive a total of $11.5 million this year — less than the $15 million the production company had been reportedly expecting but apparently enough to stay in the state.

The series had delayed the start of season three to June as state lawmakers raced to come up with funding. Although the Maryland General Assembly came up short in boosting its tax credit program earlier this month, O’Malley’s office said that they negotiated with MRC in the weeks since then to come up with the $11.5 million package that includes productions credits and state budget grants.

“Spoiler alert: We’re going to keep the 3,700 jobs and more than $100 million of economic activity and investment that ‘House of Cards’ generates right here in Maryland,” O’Malley said in a statement. “Media Rights Capital has been a great supporter of the people and entertainment community in Maryland, and we couldn’t be happier to continue our partnership.”
Frank Underwood would be pleased...

Cannonball

A candidate and his cannon:

Money Train

By hook or by crook, Jerry Brown is determined to get that train:
Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed using one-third of funds raised annually through cap-and-trade auctions to help pay for high-speed rail. State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg has proposed using one-fifth of those funds. If some version of those proposals passes the Democrat-dominated legislature in coming months, the state says it will use the guaranteed funding to leverage various new sources of financing to quicken the pace of construction.

"An ongoing revenue stream is very important to us, because that would allow us to use financing, whether it is some type of revenue bond or some other financing mechanism," said Dan Richard, chairman of the California High-Speed Rail Authority. "We could build simultaneous sections, and when you are looking at a project that is of this magnitude…anything you can do to shorten that time frame or do things in parallel as opposed to in sequence is going to mean big savings."
But will anyone actually ride the damn thing?

Free Agents

Northwestern University players appear to have rejected unionization:
The unionization push has become a hot topic in sports media and a political lightning rod. The university, coaching staff, and many former players have come out strongly against the idea, and some current members of the team have suggested that they weren’t painted an accurate picture of coming attractions when they were pressured to sign the petition that set all of this into motion.
Are you ready for some union heartache?

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Chicago Story

How CNN wanted to make Rahmbo a star:
More than 700 emails reviewed by the Tribune reveal that the production team worked hand in hand with the mayor's advisers to develop storylines, arrange specific camera shots and review news releases officially announcing the show.
Producers asked the mayor's office to help them set up key interactions in what the cable network has billed as a nonscripted eight-part series, including Emanuel's visits with the school principal who emerged as a star of the show, emails show. …
The production team for the series, whose final episode aired Thursday night, told Emanuel's staff that particular scenes would present the mayor in a positive light, with one of the producers expressing a desire to showcase the mayor "as the star that he really is."
Don't quit your day job, kid...

Dangerous Kid Stuff

Fatal measles cases make a comeback:
Since 2000, the highly contagious disease has been considered eliminated in the United States, aside from occasional small outbreaks sparked by overseas travelers. For most of the last decade, the nation was seeing only about 60 cases a year.

But since 2010, the average has been nearly 160.

“This increase in cases may be a `new normal,’ unfortunately,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

Contributing to the problem: Decades of measles vaccination campaigns have been so successful that many doctors have never seen a case, don’t realize how contagious it is, and may not take necessary steps to stop it from spreading.

Among the 58 cases reported from California, at least 11 were infected in doctor’s offices, hospitals or other health-care settings, according to a report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. New York City health officials say two of their 26 cases were infected in medical facilities. …

There has been no measles deaths reported in the U.S. since 2003. “But the way we’re going, we feel it (another) is inevitable,” Schuchat said.
Needless to say, this has become a growing problem, for which the only cure is real education, not scare tactics.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Check This

No, more government checks won't help:
Writing checks to the bottom 70 percent would probably alleviate some of the worst stresses of being a single mother -- but even in Scandinavia, the children of single parents still don’t do as well as children raised in intact households. Similarly, an unemployment check eases the financial stress of joblessness, but not the psychological pain of being out of work. To the extent that it helps people to stay on the dole and look for a perfect job that doesn’t exist, it may make people less happy, not more so.

Writing checks to the bottom 70 percent will not prevent a factory from moving to China or find meaningful replacement work for the 50-year-old accountant who has been there for 20 years. It will not bring back the feeling that you can expect each year to be better than the last in tangible ways.

We hear a lot about minimum-wage workers and their problems, which are all too real. But the problem for minimum-wage workers is not that fast food and retail jobs don’t pay well; they never paid well. The problem for these workers is that they can’t get a regular schedule or full-time hours, because owners now use advanced software to minimize their labor costs at maximum inconvenience to low-wage workers. The problem is that owners can get away with this, demanding that workers make 60 hours available in order to pick up 25, because there are fewer and fewer better jobs that you can move on to with minimal education. And that in this dreadful job market, many of them are trying to support a few kids and maybe a laid-off sibling with what one person can make selling ultracheap food. This was never remotely feasible. But the breakdown of families and the low-skilled labor market mean that an increasing number of people are trying to pull off this impossible feat.

Writing a check will let a high-school dropout sit at home with her three children, but it will not make her employable at something better than McDonald's. It will not create a more hopeful future for those children.
Dependency rarely does...

Clean Note

Finally-the self-cleaning car:
Nissan says it is the first carmaker to apply the trade-marked technology called Ultra-Ever Dry® on automotive bodywork and will be testing it ‘in the real world’ over the coming months at its European Technical Centre at Cranfield in Bedfordshire.

Explaining how the dirt-repellent coating works, a Nissan spokesman said: ‘By creating a protective layer of air between the paint and environment, it effectively stops standing water and road spray from creating dirty marks on the car's surface.’

The Note already features a ‘wash and blow dry' function on its rear view camera. This uses water and compressed air to automatically keep the lens free of dirt and ensure the Notes' safety sensors work in all conditions.

A spokesman said: ‘So far, the coating has responded well to common use cases including rain, spray, frost, sleet and standing water.’

Chief marketing manager Geraldine Ingham said; ‘The Nissan Note has been carefully engineered to take the stress out of customer driving and Nissan's engineers are constantly thinking of new ways to make families' lives easier.

‘We are committed to addressing everyday problems our customers face and will always consider testing exciting, cutting edge technology like this incredible coating application.’
Now, if they could just come up with one that has its own drive-thru...

Sometimes A Cigar Is Just A Regulatory Instrument

The new smoking regulations are here:
The Food and Drug Administration will for the first time regulate the booming market of electronic cigarettes, as well as cigars, pipe tobacco and hookahs, under a proposal to be released Thursday.

The move would begin to place restrictions on e-cigarettes, a nearly $2 billion industry thatfor years has operated outside the reach of federal regulators. If adopted, the government’s plan would force manufacturers to curb sales to minors, stop handing out free samples, place health warning labels on their products and disclose the ingredients. Makers of e-cigarettes also would be banned from making health-related claims without scientific evidence.
Isn't that what the EPA already does?

Drone Jam

Drones give a command performance:

The Drinking Age Game

Is it time for a change?
Learning how to drink responsibly is a basic lesson in growing up — as it is in wine-drinking France or in Germany, with its family-oriented beer gardens and festivals. Wine was built into my own Italian-American upbringing, where children were given sips of my grandfather’s homemade wine. This civilized practice descends from antiquity. Beer was a nourishing food in Egypt and Mesopotamia, and wine was identified with the life force in Greece and Rome: In vino veritas (In wine, truth). Wine as a sacred symbol of unity and regeneration remains in the Christian Communion service. Virginia Woolf wrote that wine with a fine meal lights a “subtle and subterranean glow, which is the rich yellow flame of rational intercourse.”

What this cruel 1984 law did is deprive young people of safe spaces where they could happily drink cheap beer, socialize, chat and flirt in a free but controlled public environment. Hence in the 1980s we immediately got the scourge of crude binge drinking at campus fraternity keg parties, cut off from the adult world. Women in that boorish free-for-all were suddenly fighting off date rape. Club drugs — ecstasy, methamphetamine, ketamine (a veterinary tranquilizer) — surged at raves for teenagers and on the gay male circuit scene.
Can we make drinking civilized again?

Double-Wide Open Spaces

Why tornadoes attack trailer parks:
Researchers looked at 60 years worth of climatological data from the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center, and found tornadoes touch down most often in “transition zones” – areas where a dramatic change in landscape takes place. In other words, where tall buildings end and farmlands begin, or where a forest stops and the plains start.

Indiana state climatologist Dev Niyogi, who co-authored the study, said the data might explain why mobile home parks are often called tornado magnets, as they’re typically located just outside city limits in open fields.
Tornadoes and country folk seem to have one thing in common-a dislike of big cities...

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Blue Money

One rich white guy doesn't like being compared to certain other rich white guys:
Liberal billionaire Tom Steyer insisted Tuesday that he’s not the left’s version of the Koch brothers. …

Charles and David Koch’s priorities “line up perfectly with their pocketbooks — and that’s not true for us,” Steyer said.

A Koch spokesman objected to Steyer’s characterization.

“That assertion is false and disingenuous, and people can see through that. Koch opposes all mandates and subsidies, even when they exist for businesses in which we operate. In doing so, we act against our self-interest. We have been consistent in this position for over 40 years,” spokesman Robert Tappan said in an email. …

But Steyer countered that there are major differences between himself and the Koch brothers, and he argued that his operation is “completely open” and transparent. “I think they have not been huge embracers of transparency,” he said of the Kochs.

“I think they’re in a very, very different position than me and from the people that I work with. And the fact that we’re on opposite sides of the table on a lot of issues — that is true. But the way that we’re approaching them is very, very different,” he said.
His money is "good..."

Nest Egg

Out: Protecting wildlife. In: Protecting traffic cams.
Maryland Transportation Authority reportedly removed a nest three times from the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, before a branch was spotted lying before the camera again late Tuesday, according to the Baltimore Sun.

"We're concerned because she's blocking one of our traffic cameras that we use for monitoring traffic conditions at the bridge," John Sales, an authority spokesman told the Baltimore Sun.

“The camera moves back and forth and we notice whenever it does that the bird gets agitated,” he said.

Sales said the MDTA was given permission from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to remove the nests as long as there were no eggs.

“I think it’s a wise decision,” Joel Dunn, executive director of the Chesapeake Conservancy told MyFoxDC.com.

“There are lots of other alternative sites for them to nest. In fact, we actually saw them flying just down the street here looking at a couple of other options,” he said.
The authorities are probably just unhappy that they can't ticket the birds...

NYPD #Fail

The NYPD tries Twitter:
The New York Police Department’s #myNYPD social engagement campaign went haywire after floods of disillusioned Twitter users used a hashtag as an opportunity to shed light on alleged police brutality.
Plenty of @NYPDNews followers used the disclosed hashtag to share chipper, smiling photos of themselves with NYPD officers across the city. The department’s official account retweeted these with pride but was also met with photos that were much less than positive.
Whoops...

Zoom

That's a fast elevator:
Hitachi has announced that its new high-speed elevator for the Guangzhou CTF Financial Centre will travel at a stomach churning 1,200 meters per minute (45mph), a speed that will allow it to reach the 95th floor in just 43 seconds.

Along with its sister machine it is to be the flagship of a 95 lift fleet that will bear economists, officials and guests up and down the 530 meter tall building. The sky scraper will even be fitted with double decker lifts to utilise all vertical space.

The company told reporters that the lift will employ the latest technologies to ensure a smooth ride and to prevent vibrations and noise.

The lifts safety was also guaranteed with state-of-the-art brakes fitted that can sustain temperatures of over 300 degrees Celsius and still operate.
Going up?

Falling Rocks

I was expecting an Earth-shattering kaboom:
Asteroids caused 26 nuclear-scale explosions in the Earth's atmosphere between 2000 and 2013, a new report reveals.

Some were more powerful – in one case, dozens of times stronger – than the atom bomb blast that destroyed Hiroshima in 1945 with an energy yield equivalent to 16 kilotons of TNT.

Most occurred too high in the atmosphere to cause any serious damage on the ground. But the evidence was a sobering reminder of how vulnerable the Earth was to the threat from space, scientists said.

The impacts were recorded by the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organisation, which operates a global network of sensors set up to detect nuclear weapon detonations. None of the asteroids were picked up or tracked in advance by any space- or Earth-based observatory
Bruce Willis was unavailable for comment...

Bonus Day

The IRS knows who to thank:
More than 2,800 workers got bonuses despite facing a disciplinary action in the previous year, including 1,150 who owed back taxes, said a report by J. Russell George, the Treasury inspector general for tax administration. The bonuses were awarded from October 2010 through December 2012.

George's report said the bonus program doesn't violate federal regulations, but it's inconsistent with the IRS mission to enforce tax laws.

"These awards are designed to recognize and reward IRS employees for a job well done, and that is appropriate, because the IRS should encourage good performance," George said. "However, while not prohibited, providing awards to employees who have been disciplined for failing to pay federal taxes appears to create a conflict with the IRS's charge of ensuring the integrity of the system of tax administration."
Or, not...

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Jet Setter

Happy Earth Day, Obama style:
Not including his motorcades in Oso, Washington, the site of a recent devastating mudslide, his trip will consume an estimated 35,565 gallons of fuel.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the statistics arm of the Department of Energy, burning each gallon emits 21.1 pounds of carbon dioxide, bringing the president's Earth Day carbon footprint to more than 375.7 tons.

The White House did not respond to a question about any measures it might be taking – planting trees, for instance – to offset those emissions.
They've got more than enough hot air for climate change to go around...

For The Working Man

It turns out that the UAW didn't have much of a case in Tennessee:
“Our staff attorneys were down in Chattanooga today. They were prepared to present evidence and make the case in these hearings that the results of the election should stand.

“The UAW thought there was a chance they could hold this hearing and only have one side present it. They thought they would be able to cherry-pick the evidence and get the judge to order a re-run election on that basis,” Semmens said.

Semmens said UAW officials panicked once they learned the opposing side could cross-examine pro-union witnesses.

“When they realized that all of that was going to happen I think that’s a very big reason why they said, ‘You know what? We don’t want to go forward,’” Semmens said, despite the fact he previously complained of a pro-union bias among NLRB members under President Obama.

But even the UAW knew it didn’t have a strong enough case for an appeal, he said.
They couldn't muscle their way in after all...

Mind Readers

Telepathy, for real?
Mind reading technology isn't yet where the sci-fi thrillers predict it will go, but researchers like Just aren't ruling out such a future.

"In principle, our thoughts could someday be readable," said Just, who directs the school's Center for Cognitive Brain Imaging. "I don't think we have to worry about this in the next 5-10 years, but it's interesting to think about. What if all of our thoughts were public?"

He can imagine a terrifying version of that future, where officials read minds in order to gain control over them. But he prefers to envision a more positive one, with mind reading devices offering opportunities to people with disabilities — and the rest of us.
The tinfoil hat crowd was right? Who knew?

Aero Waves

What a win for Aero could mean:
If the Supreme Court rules that Aereo’s service is legal, the decision could throw a wrench into the highly lucrative broadcast business model, in which cable and satellite companies pay billions to the TV companies for the right to broadcast popular programming. Such retransmission fees are projected to reach $4 billion this year and $7.6 billion by 2019, according to research firm SNL Kagan.

The broadcasters say that an Aereo victory could prompt them to yank their programming from free TV and move it to pay channels like Showtime. The National Football League and Major League Baseball, which are supporting the TV companies, have threatened to take high-profile broadcasts like the Super Bowl and World Series to cable. Aereo says such a move would “disenfranchise” millions of Americans who still rely on antennas for local news and other programming.
To stream, or not to stream?

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Runner

He's the first American male to win the Boston Marathon since 1983:
Keflezighi crossed the finish line with a time of 2:08:37, 11 seconds ahead of second place finisher Wilson Chebet of Kenya.

The 38-year-old from San Diego looked over his shoulder several times over the final mile. After realizing he wouldn't be caught, he raised his sunglasses, began pumping his right fist and made the sign of the cross

Keflezighi is a three-time Olympian who won the 2009 New York City Marathon and a silver medal at the 2004 Olympics in Athens. His previous best finish at the Boston Marathon was third in 2006.
Congratulations to all who attended.

Big Fish

Nessie, found at last?
Nessie’s fan club devotees say they have ruled out all other possibilities for the grainy image, including a floating log or a giant seal. But one skeptic, deep-sea biologist Andrew David Thaler, debunks the theory on his website SouthernFriedScience.com, saying that the image shows the wake of a boat.

One of the people who alerted the Loch Ness Monster Fan Club to the new images was Andrew Dixon, 26, a charity worker from Durham who told London’s Daily Mail he found it by accident.

"It was a total fluke that I found it. I was looking at satellite images of my town and then just thought I’d have a look at Loch Ness. The first thing that came into my head when I saw it was, 'That’s the Loch Ness Monster.' It was the shape of it; I thought it had to be something more than a shadow,” Dixon told the Mail.

Cynic Chris Matyszczyk, of CNet, suggests the excitement may be manufactured by Apple, as the image can only be viewed on iPads or iPhones. “It's clear the company's executives have been worried that Samsung has stolen the mantle of cool…but surely Apple can have nothing to do with the revelation that the Loch Ness Monster has suddenly become visible on Apple Maps. And only on Apple Maps,” Matyszcyk wrote on the site.
Maybe Nessie just likes Macs better...

The Eye On Defense

Yes, CBS is ideologically skewed:
ATTKISSON: You know, it’s fairly well discussed inside CBS News that there are some managers recently who have been so ideologically entrenched that there is a feeling and discussion that some of them, certainly not all of them, have a difficult time viewing a story that may reflect negatively upon government or the administration as a story of value.

STELTER: So you’re saying they are liberal or Democrats?

ATTKISSON: I don’t know what their registered party is, I just know that the tendency on the part of some of these managers who have key influences has been they never mind the stories that seem to, for example, and I did plenty of them, go against the grain of the Republican Party, but they do often seem to feel defensive about, almost, personally defensive about stories that could make the government look bad. Even if it’s something as simple as a government waste story that doesn’t pinpoint anybody in particularly and it takes on both parties. It seems as though some of them were sensitive about any story that might appear as though it criticizes the government.
At least as long as it's a Democratic one...

Full Nest

They're the live-in generation:
At a time when the still sluggish economy has sent a flood of jobless young adults back home, older people are quietly moving in with their parents at twice the rate of their younger counterparts.

For seven years through 2012, the number of Californians aged 50 to 64 who live in their parents' homes swelled 67.6% to about 194,000, according to the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and the Insight Center for Community Economic Development.

The jump is almost exclusively the result of financial hardship caused by the recession rather than for other reasons, such as the need to care for aging parents, said Steven P. Wallace, a UCLA professor of public health who crunched the data.

"The numbers are pretty amazing," Wallace said. "It's an age group that you normally think of as pretty financially stable. They're mid-career. They may be thinking ahead toward retirement. They've got a nest egg going. And then all of a sudden you see this huge push back into their parents' homes."
You can't go home again-unless you have to?

Union Blues And Greens

Much to the consternation of environmentalists, unions are flexing their pro-drilling muscle:
The increasing use of union construction labor has given energy companies a powerful ally as drilling is debated in communities nationwide. Many Republicans have been pro-drilling, but now some unions traditionally associated with Democrats are using their political clout to urge politicians to reject bans on pipelines or drilling.

For example, LIUNA has urged members of Congress to support liquefied natural gas exports and regional gas pipeline expansions, and union members plan to participate in a pro-drilling rally in Pennsylvania's capital next month.

"The unions are powerful and influential," said David Masur, director of Penn Environment, which has been critical of the drilling boom.

The Marcellus and Utica shale fields, rich in natural gas and oil, lie deep underneath large parts of Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia, and more than 6,000 new wells have been drilled there over the last five years.
The economic benefits do tend to have an impact on one's outlook...

Making The Rounds

House calls are back:
Home care is generally cheaper than hospital care, and for more than a decade, government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid have worked to create incentives for hospitals to switch to less-expensive treatment. Recently, under the Affordable Care Act, Medicare has begun to penalize hospitals when, under certain conditions, patients are readmitted within 30 days after discharge.

Some insurers, including Medicare, pay for house calls by doctors and nurses specializing in advanced care. In cases where insurance does not cover this type of palliative care, hospitals are financing it themselves, sometimes with grants.

Dr. Steven Pantilat, an internal medicine physician who leads the palliative care program at the University of California, San Francisco, says his hospital subsidizes some home care because “there is sufficient improvement in quality and costs to make the investment a good idea all around.”
The way things are going, this might be the best option available for most patients...

Wheel In The Sky

It's certainly one way of getting there:
As unlikely as it sounds, officials believe the boy rode in the tiny, cramped compartment for almost five hours, at altitudes that reached 38,000 feet, without oxygen and under subzero temperatures.

"It sounds really incredible," said aviation expert Jeff Wise. "Being in a wheel well is like all of a sudden being on top of Mount Everest."

Between the oxygen depletion and the cold, life expectancy "is measured in minutes," Wise said.
But some people have survived. Since 1947, 105 people are known to have attempted to fly inside wheel wells on 94 flights worldwide, the Federal Aviation Administration's Civil Aerospace Medical Institute says. Of those, 25 made it through, including a 9-year-old child -- a survival rate of 24%. One of the flights went as high as 39,000 feet.

The conditions can put stowaways in a virtual "hibernative" state, the FAA says.

Someone could slip into unconsciousness so that the body cools and "the central nervous system is preserved," said CNN aviation expert Michael Kay. Also, he said, "there could be a situation where inside the bay is warmer than the external air temperature and you wouldn't get the instantaneous freezing of the skin."

Still, "for somebody to survive multiple hours with that lack of oxygen and that cold is just miraculous," airline analyst Peter Forman told CNN affiliate KHON in Honolulu.
That's one way to put it...

Take A Powder

Are you ready for...powdered alcohol?
This week, the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau approved the powdered booze product, and its makers hopes to unleash it on an unsuspecting public this fall.

Palcohol's website, which has since been scrubbed, once advertised the powder as the solution to many of the modern drinker's most pressing problems.
What could go wrong?

At Ease

The best campaign ad of the year?
As I’ve noted before, the knock on Cotton has always been that he’s too stiff and serious — that you’d rather have a beer with Pryor. This humorous ad (coupled with the music) shows Cotton’s personality, and undermines the notion that he’s aloof.

Brain Games

The man who became an accidental math genius:
“I watch the cream stirred into the brew. The perfect spiral is an important shape to me. It’s a fractal. Suddenly, it’s not just my morning cup of joe, it’s geometry speaking to me.”

Padgett’s world is bursting with mathematical patterns. He is one of a few people in the world who can draw approximations of fractals, the repeating geometric patterns that are building blocks of everything in the known universe, by hand. Tree leaves outside his window are evidence of Pythagoras’ Theorem. The arc that light makes when it bounces off his car proves the power of pi.

He sees the parts that make up the whole. And his world is never boring, never without amazement. Even his dreams are made up of geometry.

“I can barely remember a time,” the 43-year-old says, “when I saw the world the way most everyone else does.”
Never underestimate the man with a mullet...

Looking For David Gregory

The host of "Meet The Press" was apparently psychologically evaluated:
Gregory’s job does not appear to be in any immediate jeopardy, but there are plenty of signs of concern.

Last year, the network undertook an unusual assessment of the 43-year-old journalist, commissioning a psychological consultant to interview his friends and even his wife. The idea, according to a network spokeswoman, Meghan Pianta, was “to get perspective and insight from people who know him best.” But the research project struck some at NBC as odd, given that Gregory has been employed there for nearly 20 years.
Of course, he might have needed help in the past:

Hot Corn

Biofuel isn't better:
A $500,000 study paid for by the federal government and released Sunday in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Climate Change concludes that biofuels made with corn residue release 7 percent more greenhouse gases in the early years compared with conventional gasoline.

While biofuels are better in the long run, the study says they won't meet a standard set in a 2007 energy law to qualify as renewable fuel.

The conclusions deal a blow to what are known as cellulosic biofuels, which have received more than a billion dollars in federal support but have struggled to meet volume targets mandated by law. About half of the initial market in cellulosics is expected to be derived from corn residue.
The whole effort does seem a bit premature in hindsight...

Train Kept A Rollin'

Don't you hate it when that happens:

Imaginary Friends For Sale

Who wants to buy a friend?
Bots have been around for years and they used to be easy to spot. They had random photos for avatars (often of a sultry woman), used computer-generated names (like Jen934107), and shared utter drivel (mostly links to pornography sites).

But today’s bots, to better camouflage their identity, have real-sounding names. They keep human hours, stopping activity during the middle of the night and picking up again in the morning. They share photos, laugh out loud — LOL! — and even engage in conversations with each other. And there are millions of them.

These imaginary citizens of the Internet have surprising power, making celebrities, wannabe celebrities and companies seem more popular than they really are, swaying public opinion about culture and products and, in some instances, influencing political agendas.
Perhaps it's not too surprising that imaginary friends were created by people with no real ones of their own...

It's In The Big Hole

Trying new ways of saving golf:
Many of golf’s leaders are so convinced the sport is in danger of following the baby boomer generation into the grave that an internal rebellion has led to alternative forms of golf with new equipment, new rules and radical changes to courses. The goal is to alter the game’s reputation in order to recruit lapsed golfers and a younger demographic.

“We’ve got to stop scaring people away from golf by telling them that there is only one way to play the game and it includes these specific guidelines,” said Ted Bishop, the president of the P.G.A. of America, who also owns a large Indiana golf complex. “We’ve got to offer more forms of golf for people to try. We have to do something to get them into the fold, and then maybe they’ll have this idea it’s supposed to be fun.”

Among the unconventional types of golf is an entry-level version in which the holes are 15 inches wide, about four times the width of a standard hole.

A 15-inch-hole event was held here at the Reynolds Plantation resort on Monday. It featured the top professional golfers Sergio García and Justin Rose, the defending United States Open champion.

“A 15-inch hole could help junior golfers, beginning golfers and older golfers score better, play faster and like golf more,” said Mr. García, who shot a six-under-par 30 for nine holes in the exhibition.

Mr. Rose said he was planning to use an expanded hole to reintroduce the game to his 5-year-old son, who rejected the game recently after he had tired of failing at it.

“Lately, I’ve been having a hard time getting him to pick up a club,” Mr. Rose said.
Golf does require discipline and work. Maybe that's part of the reason it seems so outdated...

The Image Makers

Can advertising be too manipulative?
A new bill introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives aims at curbing overzealous photoshopping of models and celebrities in advertisements.
Called the “Truth in Advertising Act,” the bill was co-sponsored by Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen from Florida and Democratic Rep. Lois Capps of California.
Advocates for the bill want more regulation for photoshopped images that appear in advertisements and other media.
“An increasing amount of academic evidence links exposure to such altered images with emotional, mental, and physical health issues, including eating disorders, especially among children and teenagers,” reads an excerpt of the bill. “There is particular concern about the marketing of such images to children and teenagers.”
Members of the Eating Disorder Coalition (EDC) met with lawmakers last month to lobby for the bill.
Seth Matlins, a marketer and an originator of the bill, said seeing his children react to advertising images without understanding they were manipulated made him want to work on the bill.
“In simplest terms we’re trying to protect the consumer,” said Matlins a partner with the EDC. “People are saying enough is enough. We are and have been manipulated by these ads for so long.”
And, yet, somehow, the rest of us without disorders seem to survive...

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Red Cross

From Godless to God-fearing?
Officially, the People's Republic of China is an atheist country but that is changing fast as many of its 1.3 billion citizens seek meaning and spiritual comfort that neither communism nor capitalism seem to have supplied.

Christian congregations in particular have skyrocketed since churches began reopening when Chairman Mao's death in 1976 signalled the end of the Cultural Revolution.

Less than four decades later, some believe China is now poised to become not just the world's number one economy but also its most numerous Christian nation.

"By my calculations China is destined to become the largest Christian country in the world very soon," said Fenggang Yang, a professor of sociology at Purdue University and author of Religion in China: Survival and Revival under Communist Rule.

"It is going to be less than a generation. Not many people are prepared for this dramatic change."
The Chairman must be spinning in his glass coffin...

Don't Mention The Malaise

For Democrats, some election-year advice:
Don't talk about the economic recovery. It's a political loser.

So say Democratic strategists in a blunt declaration that such talk skips over "how much trouble people are in, and doesn't convince them that policymakers really understand or are even focusing on the problems they continue to face."

In addition, Stan Greenberg, James Carville and others wrote that in head-to-head polling tests the mere mention of the word "recovery" is trumped by a Republican assertion that the Obama administration has had six years to get the economy moving and its policies haven't worked.

Coincidentally or not, Democrats have largely shelved the "R'' word.
If they talk about it too much, folks might realize it's not actually happening...

A Little Rebellion

Antonin Scalia channels his inner Thomas Jefferson:
Speaking at the University of Tennessee College of Law on Tuesday, the longest-serving justice currently on the bench was asked by a student about the constitutionality of the income tax, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports.
Scalia responded that the government has the right to implement the tax, “but if it reaches a certain point, perhaps you should revolt.”
The justice was invited by the UT law school to present its annual “Rose Lecture,” and discussed events throughout his career such as his 1989 decision to rule with the majority that flag-burning was constitutionally protected speech. Scalia was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court by President Ronald Reagan in 1986.
A student tax protest?

Life Before Drudge

Even back in the early days of the Web, they were afraid:
The infamous 1995 "conspiracy commerce memo" tried to demonize and discredit alternative media outlets on the right to mainstream media organizations and D.C. establishment figures.
The memo notes that the "Internet has become one of the major and most dynamic modes of communication" and "can link people, groups and organizations together instantly."
"Moreover, it allows an extraordinary amount of unregulated data and information to be located in one area and available to all," the memo states. "The right wing has seized upon the Internet as a means of communicating its ideas to people. Moreover, evidence exists that Republican staffers surf the Internet, interacting with extremists in order to exchange ideas and information.”
The memo also states that conservative think tanks serve as a training ground for future leaders and says conservative institutions "are to today's media age of political organizations what the Democratic big city party machines were to the New Deal era of political organization"
The memo talks about the media frenzy, the blow back strategy, and slams outlets unfavorable to the Clinton White House as "sources without credibility" before calling Richard Mellon Scaife the "vanguard" of the conspiracy movement that spread stories and "theories" about Jennifer Flowers, Paula Jones, and Vince Foster.
“Scaife along with a handful of other wealthy individuals and foundations use their power to control the Republican Party's agenda and viewpoints," the memo says. "Scaife, in particular, is one of the major backers of Newt Gingrich. Interestingly enough, Gingrich's views on Vince Foster seemed to dovetail with Scaife's following Scaife's pumping of thousands of dollars into Gingrich's GOPAC's coffers."
Drudge forever changed journalism in January of 1998 when he reported that Bill Clinton had a sexual relationship with a White House intern and that Newsweek killed the story to protect its ally in the White House.
And thus it was that the narrative was lost by those then in power...

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Land, Lots Of Land

This land is whose land?
Lawmakers from Western states said Friday that the time has come for them to take control of federal lands within their borders and suggested the standoff this month between a Nevada rancher and the federal government was a problem waiting to happen.

"What’s happened in Nevada is really just a symptom of a much larger problem," Utah House Speaker Becky Lockhart, a Republican, told The Salt Lake Tribune.

The lawmakers -- more than 50 of them from nine Western states -- made their proclamations at the Legislative Summit on the Transfer for Public Lands, in Utah, which was scheduled before this month’s standoff between Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and the Bureau of Land Management.
....

The idea of Western states taking control of parts of wide tracts of federal land is nothing new. Those involved in the so-called Sagebrush Rebellion and similar movements have argued for decades that states and local governments west of the Mississippi River often can best manage the land and that doing so would allow them to use it to improve their economies.

On Friday, political leaders from the nine states convened for the first time to talk about their joint goal of wresting control of oil-, timber -and mineral-rich lands away from the U.S. government, according to the paper.

"It’s simply time," said Utah state Rep. Ken Ivory, a Republican who co-organized the summit with Montana state Sen. Jennifer Fielder. "The urgency is now."
The fierce urgency of land ownership...

The Chicago Way

Is Chicago cooking its crime stats?
...an investigation published by Chicago Magazine claims that the “progress” is an illusion. The article says that under pressure from Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Chicago cops have been reclassifying murders and violent crimes. The result is a nearly unprecedented drop in numbers.

"This is a betrayal of public trust in a sense that Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Superintendent Garry McCarthy are public servants. They are paid by our tax dollars and we deserve in return truth from them,” said Elizabeth Fenner, Editor in Chief of Chicago Magazine.

McCarthy responded that the article is “patently false” and he criticized the near total reliance on anonymous sources. “I'm troubled by it because it hurts our credibility while we're trying to build our credibility," he said.
How can you build on a double negative like that?

Friday, April 18, 2014

Psycho Cat 2

Not another one:
"The cat ran and jumped on his leg and was like, attached to him," the cat's owner, who was clawed in the face, told News10.net. "He's never been an aggressive cat, he's never been mean, he just flipped."

The cat, named Khat, reportedly even attacked firefighters who were sent to the Roseville home.

"We tried to push it into a cage, and it grabbed on to my engineer's boot and turnout bottom and was hissing and going off."

The station reported that the family suffered from superficial wounds and the cat was taken to the SPCA.
Presumably for therapy...

Paradise Lust

Finally:
House and Senate members are still negotiating on the version of House Bill 1926 they will send to the governor. But they agree that the crime bill should revoke a peculiar exemption that permits police to have sex with prostitutes.

Originally the bill would have ended the exemption. In February, the House Judiciary Committee amended the bill to preserve the exemption. The weakened bill passed the House. The Senate then amended the bill to end the loophole.

Democratic Rep. Karl Rhoads, the House Judiciary Committee chairman, said Thursday he wants to return to the bill's original language and bar police from engaging in sex or sadomasochistic acts with prostitutes.
They'll have to pay for it like everyone else...

Almost Earth 2

A near twin of Earth has been found:
The planet, known as Kepler-186f, is “more of an Earth cousin than an Earth twin,” Elisa Quintana, an astronomer at the SETI Institute at NASA Ames Research Center, told the journal Science. Quintana is the lead author of a report on the planet published by Science this week.

“This discovery does confirm that Earth-sized planets do exist in the habitable zones of other stars,” Quintana said during a Thursday news briefing at NASA Headquarters.

Kepler-186f goes around an M-type dwarf star that’s smaller and cooler than our sun. But it orbits much closer to its parent star than Earth does, within what would be Mercury’s orbit in our own solar system. Those two factors combine to produce an environment that could allow for liquid water on the surface, assuming that the planet had a heat-trapping atmosphere.
Greetings, cousin...

The Long Pipeline

The Obama administration needs just a little more time on this Keystone thing:
The indefinite extension could put off a decision on the pipeline, which would carry crude oil from Canadian tar sands to American refineries, until after November’s midterm elections.

“On April 18, 2014, the Department of State notified the eight federal agencies specified in Executive Order 13337 we will provide more time for the submission of their views on the proposed Keystone Pipeline Project,” the department said in a statement. “Agencies need additional time based on the uncertainty created by the on-going litigation in the Nebraska Supreme Court which could ultimately affect the pipeline route in that state. In addition, during this time we will review and appropriately consider the unprecedented number of new public comments, approximately 2.5 million, received during the public comment period that closed on March 7, 2014.

“The Permit process will conclude once factors that have a significant impact on determining the national interest of the proposed project have been evaluated and appropriately reflected in the decision documents,” the State Department statement continued. “The Department will give the agencies sufficient time to submit their views.”
Everything can wait until the last minute in an election year...

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Flushed

Just ugh:
Portland officials said Wednesday they are flushing away millions of gallons of treated water for the second time in less than three years because someone urinated into a city reservoir.

In June 2011, the city drained a 7.5 million-gallon reservoir at Mount Tabor in southeast Portland. This time, 38 million gallons from a different reservoir at the same location will be discarded after a 19-year-old was videotaped in the act.

"The basic commandment of the Water Bureau is to provide clean, cold and constant water to its customers," bureau administrator David Shaff said Wednesday. "And the premise behind that is we don't have pee in it."

The open reservoirs hold water that has already been treated and goes directly into mains for distribution to customers.

The urine poses little risk — animals routinely deposit waste without creating a public health crisis — but Shaff said he doesn't want to serve water that was deliberately tainted.

"There is at least a perceived difference from my perspective," Shaff said. "I could be wrong on that, but the reality is our customers don't anticipate drinking water that's been contaminated by some yahoo who decided to pee into a reservoir."
Keep it clean, people...

Baby Bigots

Can babies be racist?
Forty white 15-month-old infants and their mothers participated in the study. The babies sat on their mother’s lap while watching toys being divided. One person divided the toys evenly, while another divided the toys unevenly.

The babies then were able to choose who to play with and 70 percent of the babies chose to play with the person who divided the toys evenly.

The researchers say that this showed that when people are the same race as the baby, the baby will choose their playmates based on fairness.

The researchers then tried another experiment. For the second test, 80 white 15-month-old babies watched as toys were distributed. This time half the babies watched as more toys were given to the Asian recipient; and the other half watched as more were given to a white recipient.
The babies were then let to choose a playmate and more times chose the white recipient.

“If all babies care about is fairness, then they would always pick the fair distributor, but we’re also seeing that they’re interested in consequences for their own group members,” Sommerville said.

Researchers say that these findings take race into account when babies choose a playmate.
“Babies are sensitive to how people of the same ethnicity as the infant, versus a different ethnicity, are treated – they weren’t just interested in who was being fair or unfair,” Monica Burns, co-author of the study and a former UW Psychology undergraduate student, and currently a psychology graduate student at Harvard University, said. “It’s interesting how infants integrate information before choosing who to interact with, they’re not just choosing based on a single dimension.”

Sommerville did point out that this research does not mean that babies are racist.

“Racism connotes hostility,” she said, “and that’s not what we studied.”
But is that what is being taught?

Faking The Grade

The class that wasn't there:
John Dunphy Jr., who was named principal of Philadelphia’s High School for the Creative and Performing Arts in July, was removed by the district in October for allegedly creating a phony world history course and then doling out fake grades to 18 juniors at the school, the Philadelphia Daily News reports.

It’s unclear why Dunphy invented the class, which is required for graduation from the school, which has a national reputation in arts education and has produced musical groups like Boyz II Men and musicians such as Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, the drummer for The Roots.

The development has forced Philadelphia school district officials to report the matter to the state Department of Education, which may trigger a formal investigation into the incident, the newspaper reports.

“The kids were never enrolled in this independent-study class,” one parent, who requested anonymity, told the newspaper.
If you want an imaginary education, this is the way to go...

Cookie Madness

It was a bad cookie:
“Right off the bat 15 percent of people can have a psychotic reaction and someone who has never used before is at an even greater risk,” said addiction expert Dr. Christian Thurstone.
Thurstone is an addiction expert with Denver Health and said unlike smoking marijuana which makes it’s way quickly to the brain. Ingesting it means it takes longer to impact the body and to feel a high.
“Using edibles it can be very easy to over consume a marijuana edible,” said Thurstone.
In this case Pongi’s friends said the dispensary clerk “advised they divide the cookie into six pieces and eat one piece at a time.”
They also said after 30 minutes “Levi said he didn’t feel anything and he ate the entire cookie immediately.”
Before the end of the night his friends said Pongi began to act strangely and paranoid and then began to destroy things in their hotel room.
One friend told police he “tried to grab Levi because Levi was getting ‘crazy’ destroying lamps and TV. Levi ran out of the room and jumped off the balcony.”
Yes, it can mess you up.

Liar In Chief

This doesn't bode well for the Legacy:
Sixty-one percent of respondents in the poll released Thursday said Obama lies at least some of the time on important issues. An additional 20 percent said he lies every now and then.

Only 15 percent believe the president is completely truthful.

Predictably, Republicans were more likely to believe Obama is a liar, with 85 percent saying he lies some or most of the time. Thirty-one percent of Democrats said the president is always truthful.

What's interesting is that independents were slightly more likely to believe Obama lies at least some of the time — 63 percent, compared with 61 percent for the total sample.
You can still fool some of the people some of the time-if they want to be fooled...

Blown Away

Are wind farm subsidies just a fad after all?
Experts at Capital Alpha Partners, one of a burgeoning group of research firms that provides political intelligence for investors, wrote last week that the appetite on Capitol Hill for continuing the wind energy production tax credit (PTC) is declining.

In a report obtained by the Washington Free Beacon, Capital Alpha writes that a combination of flagging political will and changing market environments could signal the decline, and possibly the end, of the two-decades-old tax credit for the wind industry.

"There comes a time when subsidies which are popular to start with become less popular as conditions change," the report says. "The wind PTC may be reaching that point-not just because some in Congress are losing patience with the so-called tax extenders, but also because fundamental market conditions are putting the traditional utility model under stress."
If you build it, they may not fund...

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Regulation Economy

They just keep coming:
Congress may be mired in gridlock, but the federal bureaucracy is busier than ever. In 2013 the Federal Register contained 3,659 "final" rules, which means they now must be obeyed, and 2,594 proposed rules on their way to becoming orders from political headquarters.

The Federal Register finished 2013 at 79,311 pages, the fourth highest total in history. That didn't match President Obama's 2010 all-time record of 81,405 pages. But Mr. Obama can console himself by noting that of the five highest Federal Register page counts, four have occurred on his watch. The other was 79,435 pages under President George W. Bush in 2008.

And the feds aren't letting up. Mr. Crews reports that there are another 3,305 regulations moving through the pipeline on their way to being proposed. One hundred and ninety-one of those are "economically significant" rules, which are defined as having costs of at least $100 million a year. Keep in mind that the feds routinely low-ball their cost estimates so the public will continue to think regulation is free.

Drawing largely on government statistics, Mr. Crews estimates that the overall cost of regulatory compliance and its economic impact is about $1.9 trillion annually. This means that the burden of complying with federal rules costs roughly the annual GDP of Australia, Canada or Italy.
The regulation economy is a state in and of itself...

Targets

Lerner was all in for prosecuting conservative groups:
Judicial Watch today released a new batch of internal IRS documents revealing that former IRS official Lois Lerner communicated with the Department of Justice (DOJ) about whether it was possible to criminally prosecute certain tax-exempt entities. The documents were obtained as a result of an October 2013 Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed against the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) after the agency refused to respond to four FOIA requests dating back to May 2013.

The newly released IRS documents contain an email exchange between Lerner and Nikole C. Flax, then-Chief of Staff to then-Acting IRS Commissioner Steven T. Miller discussing plans to work with the DOJ to prosecute nonprofit groups that “lied” (Lerner’s quotation marks) about political activities. The exchange includes the following:

May 8, 2013: Lerner to Flax
I got a call today from Richard Pilger Director Elections Crimes Branch at DOJ … He wanted to know who at IRS the DOJ folk s [sic] could talk to about Sen. Whitehouse idea at the hearing that DOJ could piece together false statement cases about applicants who “lied” on their 1024s –saying they weren’t planning on doing political activity, and then turning around and making large visible political expenditures. DOJ is feeling like it needs to respond, but want to talk to the right folks at IRS to see whether there are impediments from our side and what, if any damage this might do to IRS programs.

I told him that sounded like we might need several folks from IRS…

May 9, 2013: Flax to Lerner
I think we should do it – also need to include CI [Criminal Investigation Division], which we can help coordinate. Also, we need to reach out to FEC. Does it make sense to consider including them in this or keep it separate?

Lerner then “handed off” scheduling the issue to Senior Technical Adviser, Attorney Nancy Marks, who was then supposed to set up the meeting with the DOJ. Lerner also decided that it would be DOJ’s decision as to whether representatives from the Federal Election Commission would attend.
I do believe this is what they call a smoking gun...

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Cliff Notes

A reminder from Charles Krauthammer:

Progressive Regression

What happened to libertarian progressives?
From a libertarian perspective, '90s progressives were good on issues the New Democrats stunk up (particularly criminal justice and the drug war) and bad on those that made the Clintonites worthwhile, such as lowering trade barriers and restraining federal budget growth. At their best, such as at the "shadow conventions" organized by Arianna Huffington in 2000, progressives of the era challenged both parties to address long-neglected issues and reverse government policies that actively damaged people's lives.

Since many of the people who self-identified that way came of political age in the '60s and '70s, progressives on the whole clearly belonged to the longhaired side of the culture war. They were the ones mocking the squares, pushing the envelope on free expression, and taking up arms in the sexual revolution.
Not anymore, unfortunately...

Government Property Values

More land for the government?
The federal government hasn’t even designated the requisite cash it takes to properly manage the property it already owns, resulting in a major maintenance backlog, and yet it is constantly acquiring more land — largely via the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which President Obama has oh-so-proudly declared he will fully fund to the tune of around $900 million a year. Perhaps instead of using that money to acquire more land and thus expand those restrictive land-use policies, the feds could instead use that money to better steward the existing federal estate? And hey, while they’re at it, perhaps they could actually sell off some of the federal estate, or even just relinquish some of it to state control, the better to service that $17 trillion debt in which we’re floundering?
Land for them, not for thee...

Stumbling Blocks

Are kids forgetting how to use their fingers?
Many children aged just three or four can “swipe a screen” but have little or no dexterity in their fingers after spending hours glued to iPads, it was claimed.
Members of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers also warned how some older children were unable to complete traditional pen and paper exams because their memory had been eroded by overexposure to screen-based technology.
They called on parents to crackdown on tablet computer use and even turn off wi-fi at night to address the problem.
The comments were made after Ofcom figures showed the proportion of households with tablet computers more than doubled from 20 to 51 per cent last year.
The finger of youth, having swiped, works no more...

Spies On The Prize

The NSA revelations take top prize:
The awards came amid an unusual political climate with the newspapers earning both praise for revealing the global scope of the surveillance operations and criticism for leaking secret documents.

The US unit of the British newspaper was honored for "helping through aggressive reporting to spark a debate about the relationship between the government and the public over issues of security and privacy," the committee said.

It recognized The Post for its "authoritative and insightful reports that helped the public understand how the (NSA) disclosures fit into the larger framework of national security."

The shared award went to the two newspapers credited with breaking the news about NSA surveillance programs, without specifically citing the journalists involved.
Eric Snowden declares victory, but does he deserve the credit?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Merge Select

Some mergers seem to be more equal than others:
FCC Chairman Genachowski is a longtime technology advisor for Barack Obama, serving on his transition team. Obama appointed him FCC Chairman in 2009. He and his wife, another Obama appointee, are long time Obama donors. Ms. Hesse, then in charge of the AT&T merger at FCC, has donated more than $6K to Obama for America. In a policy forum last year, Ms. Hesse stated the Obama Administration’s approach to antitrust was “vigorous enforcement.” But does that apply evenly across all merger applications?

On February 14, 2014, Comcast announced intent to acquire Time Warner Cable in a deal worth $45.2 billion—$6 billion more than the AT&T/T-Mobile deal. This merger would also result in an approximate 40% market share. Overseeing this application at DOJ will be vigorous enforcer Deputy AG Hesse. As with AT&T, will the FCC and Department of Justice deny the Comcast merger, and in record time?

If AT&T is “red,” Comcast and Time Warner Cable are deep “blue.” In 2012, Comcast employees donated $465K to the Democrat National Committee vs. $114K to the Republican National Committee and supported Obama over Republican Mitt Romney by nearly four to one. Time Warner donations were $442K Obama and $28K Romney.

Comcast also has two Obama cronies working the merger. CEO Brian Roberts is an Obama golfing buddy whose political giving is 90% Democratic. Overseeing the merger is Comcast Executive Vice President David Cohen.
"Friendly" mergers with friends...

Der Naked German

Germans bare all:
Around the continent, Germans have the reputation of being “nudist obsessive” as well as “tanning obsessive.” It’s no surprise that many nudist beaches around Europe are frequented mostly by Germans — as are saunas and Turkish baths, where it’s a safe assumption that the most comfortable naked body walking nearby belongs to a German.

“Germans are often considered to be more at one with nature than us prudish Brits,” the Mail Online commented.

Atlantic Cities reaches an interesting conclusion: “Allowing nude sunbathing in these six places, Munich is in many ways only acknowledging a practice that has gone on for years.”
You can literally be comfortable in your own skin, so to speak...

Dusty Trails

Why is Harry Reid so interested in a cattle ranch?
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said little as federal agents seized and then released cattle last week from the Bundy ranch, but there is little doubt that the highly charged episode was threatening to become a political headache for the Nevada Democrat.

The Bureau of Land Management is headed by former longtime Reid aide Neil Kornze, who was confirmed by the Senate as BLM director on Tuesday, just as federal authorities descended on the cattle ranch outside Mesquite, Nev.
....

Speculation spiked in recent days over Mr. Reid’s connection to the BLM episode, in which federal contractors seized about 400 head of cattle from 68-year-old rancher Cliven Bundy over his refusal to pay an estimated $1 million in grazing fees over 20 years.

“It was likely pressure from upstairs, rather than weapons from the field, that changed his mind on the matter,” the liberal group Americans Against the Tea Party said in an online post. “Fact is, Harry Reid probably didn’t want his name attached to the biggest civilian massacre in U.S. history right before election season.”
Sorry, Harry-no acreage for you...

V Cream

Just in time for Spring:
The Arousal flavour contains around 25mg of Viagra per scoop. It was created on specific request from a celebrity customer of South Wales ice cream company, Lick Me I’m Delicious.

Inventor Charlie Harry Francis added the Viagra to the ice cream and used champagne for flavour to complete the bespoke recipe.

Viagra is available in 25 milligrams, 50 milligrams, and 100 milligrams. For most patients, the recommended dose is 50 milligrams.

Mr Francis says he was approached by an ‘A-list celebrity’ to create the very specific flavour for a party, and spent a few days perfecting the recipe.

He said: ‘It's all very secretive. We had to sign a confidentiality agreement so I can't reveal the name of the client.

‘All I'm allowed to say is it was for a party and that they were very happy with the end result and that I made “the required amount”.'
Bob Dole waited a long time for this...

Changes

Better late than never:
he Internal Revenue Service is prepared to rewrite a proposed rule regulating the political activities of non-profit groups to address complaints from the right and left that it goes too far, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said Monday.

"In all likelihood we will re-propose a redefined rule and ask for more public comment," Koskinen told USA TODAY's Capital Download. It's a process he predicts will take "until the end of the year and beyond" to complete. The proposed regulation of groups known as 501(c)(4)s drew a record 150,000 comments before the deadline in late February.

He said the new rule would take into account backlash from conservative Tea Party groups as well as some liberal advocacy organizations that the agency's proposal – intended to address concerns that the tax-exempt groups were engaged in partisan warfare – would bar, even voter education and registration programs.

He was interviewed on the eve of Tax Day, the April 15 deadline for Americans to file their returns.

"I think we have to take all of that into consideration," Koskinen told the weekly video newsmaker series. "There are very thoughtful comments and concerns, and one of the questions that has evoked a lot of comment is, once you define what political activity is, to what organizations should it apply in the 501(c) context and how much of it should be allowed? All of that is going to be very important."
At least as long as people are paying attention...

Wage Hike Slaves

Who could have seen this coming? The working poor are making more per hour but taking home less pay. The University of Washington paper asse...