Thursday, February 28, 2013

Must-Read of the Day

While many are parsing the current SCOTUS chatter threatening the Voting Rights Act, Ta-Nehisi Coates zooms out. Some samples:

"Lesson One: the rejection of the idea that history exists solely to bolster our self-esteem. "

"Lesson Two: never confuse a belief system with biology."

"America's particular failings are remarkable because America is remarkable, but they are not particularly deviant or outstanding on the misery index. This is just sort of what we do. The question hanging over us though is this: Is this what we what we will always do?"

(Photo by me, from a 2005 trip to DC)

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Reich Said It

"President Obama has the bully pulpit. Americans trust him more than they do congressional Republicans. But he is letting micro-tactics get in the way of the larger truth. And he’s blurring his message with other messages – about gun control, immigration, and the environment. All are important, to be sure. But none has half a chance unless Americans understand how they’re being duped on the really big story."

The rest here.

Coates Said It

Terrorism is politics by other means:

"The ghetto is not a mistake. The racism of white ethnics in Chicago was not due to brainwashing, false consciousness or otherwise being too stupid to recognize their interests. On the contrary, it was the political strategy of one community, attempting to subvert the ambitions of another. The strategy was successful."


Well, whaddya know: Phyllis Schafly is spearheading the effort to kill the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.

Chris Christie & Gays Find Common Ground

Both are unwanted by CPAC 2013.

GOP supports Marriage Equality

Well, seventy-five members of it do:

"Dozens of prominent Republicans — including top advisers to former President George W. Bush, four former governors and two members of Congress — have signed a legal brief arguing that gay people have a constitutional right to marry, a position that amounts to a direct challenge to Speaker John A. Boehner and reflects the civil war in the party since the November election."

The NYTimes story here.

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Wounds of Gun Violence

It's not just the dead and the wounded from the hail of bullets.

It's not just the family and friends of the dead.

It's everyone in a community:

"In December, the Department of Justice released a little-noticed report that suggested that children exposed to community violence might turn to violence themselves as “a source of power, prestige, security, or even belongingness.” The report went on to recommend that these children should be treated by professionals."

It harms everyone. The violence is toxic, like radiation or poison.

This American Life gives some powerful personal perspective--a must listen.

Some used to joke "it's not the bullet that kills you, it's the hole." Actually it's kills or hurts the whole.

The C Word

I hate the "C" word. It's sexist, mean, shallow, and never "new Feminist powering" or reclaimingly constructive (as some claim the "B" word is).

I hate it when it's used to describe anyone, be they nine years old or 29 or 90.

The Onion really did something really dumb. They have the ability to shock and be funny at the same time, but they blew it with the "C" tweet. And let this remind us that the word is just, well, never really good for anything but making someone look petty and desperate to offend.

Now let's let them apologize and then let's all move on.

UPDATE: Which they did.

Glasses That Correct Colorblindness

And only $300. Story here.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Regarding the Presidency and the Oscar Telecast

Before the Republicans whip up too much fury over the First Lady's appearance on the 2013 Oscar show, they might want to review this and this.

Animated GIF of the Night

via Ryan Broderick

When Hollywood Portrays Itself

This Explains So Much...

The median age of an Academy voter is 62. They are 94% Caucasian and 77% male.

Ten things the Oscars won't say.

BASED on a true story...

The historical inaccuracies of Argo.

Bob Dole: Confirm Hagel

The previous leader of the previously Rational Republican Party gives the very qualified SecDef nominee an unqualified thumbs-up:

"Chuck Hagel has spent his entire life in service to his country. He volunteered to fight in Vietnam and did so bravely, side-by-side with his brother and earning two Purple Hearts. He served as Deputy Administrator of the Veterans Administration for President Ronald Reagan and was President & Chief Executive Officer of the World USO.

He represented the people of Nebraska in the Senate with honor for twelve years and was a coauthor of the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill. Hagel's wisdom and courage make him uniquely qualified to be Secretary of Defense and lead the men and women of our armed forces. Chuck Hagel will be an exceptional leader at an important time."

The story here.

Quote of the Day

"I once hosted an OSCAR Party Benefit. Had the worst time. Saw nothing. Enjoyed nothing. OSCARS were made to be watched in underwear." ~Harvey Fierstein

'Cause We Are Liv-ing In An Empirical World, and I Am An Empirical Girl

Beware of science denial.

Are You Never "Off-Line"?

No Matter How Good (Or Bad) The Oscar Show is This Year... couldn't get worse than 1989's show opener.

The poor woman roped into playing Snow White (finally) tells the story.

Richard Brody suggests new award categories.

A reminder of fifty films that should have--but didn't--win Best Picture.

The American Prospect snarls about Oscar-nay-saying.

Jane Mayer pokes holes in the politics of nominee Zero Dark Thirty.

Jimmy Carter sets some of the record straight on Argo.

Headline of the Day

"Angry Teabaggers To March Around With Guns All Day Today, What Could Go Wrong?"

The Reich Words

"Why Customers are Disappearing, Why Higher Unemployment Is the Likely Result, and Why Many in Washington Don't Have Half a Brain."

Award of the State

Bette Davis reads a letter of thanks from the Motion Picture Academy to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt at the Academy Awards dinner, February 1941.

Friday, February 22, 2013

So Now Everyone Can CTFO about the Associated Press Stylebook Entry on Same-Sex Married Couples

A big thanks to the NLGJA. Now, let's move on.

Great Ball of Fire

Be Careful About Canonizing Aaron Swartz

So warns Seattle Weekly's Chris Ruen; worth a read.

Newsflash: Fast Food Is Addictive

The New York Times reports the science that says so.

The Reddest Democrat? The Bluest Republican?

Slate has the scoop.

Meanwhile, the NYTimes' Nate Silver runs the numbers on the chances of the GOP retaking the US Senate in 2014.

To One, or To Zero

Now playing in Seattle: The Hamlet Machine:

Inside the theater, her team of programmers and designers is busy debugging and fine-tuning "the machine," a complex network of lights, sound, text, and math that will, with the help of actor Scott Shepherd, perform her recombinant Hamlet. Or maybe it isn't "her" Hamlet—the entire show will be auto-generated every night, and even Shepherd is at the mercy of the machine, which will tell him what to say and when.

"We'll just push play, sit back, and watch," Dorsen says. "We're running the show with no human intervention." Her expression is a combination of worried, trying-to-not-look-worried, and thrilled.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Nebulae in 3D

The Hanging

"The body of William Sparkman Jr., a 51-year-old census worker, was found in 2009 in an isolated cemetery in the Appalachian region of Kentucky. He hung naked from a tree, hands bound, the word FED scrawled in black marker across his chest. Sparkman's death briefly made headlines: to some, it seemed to implicate our polarized politics; to others, a region long known for its insularity. And then the case disappeared from the national view. Here is the story of what really happened to Bill Sparkman, a complex man whom few people truly knew."
The rest of the story here.

Finally, Drudge Explained the Onion, folks.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Mirror, Mirror

"This is the third year that the Republicans’ Tea Party faction has elbowed its way into the post-sotu spotlight. Its previous spokespersons, Representative Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain, the pizza mini-mogul, were marginal cranks. Rand Paul, though a crank, is not so marginal: like Rubio, he is a member of the United States Senate, nominally subject to the disciplines of that august body’s Republican caucus. In the wake of November’s Democratic sweep of the popular vote—White House, Senate, House of Representatives—the G.O.P. is turning on itself. Karl Rove’s Super pac, American Crossroads, has started a pest-control subsidiary called the Conservative Victory Project, tasked with delousing the Party of hard-to-elect Senate hopefuls like Representative Steve King, the gay-baiting Iowa birther, and Representative Paul Broun, of Georgia, who regards evolution, embryology, and the Big Bang theory as 'lies from the pit of Hell.' Fox News appears to be on board, but much of the 'base' is not. 'This is war,' Michelle Malkin, the popular blogger, wrote. 'The civil war has begun,' David Bossie, the president of Citizens United (the group behind the case), announced." ~Hendrik Hertzberg at The New Yorker
The rest here.

Nineteen Clicks

"Despite there being something like 1 trillion pieces of Web out there (websites, hosted images, videos, etc), you can navigate from any one of them to another in 19 clicks or fewer."

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Quote of the Day

“I tell my students, 'When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else. This is not just a grab-bag candy game.” ~Toni Morrison, who turned 80 this week

Silver Runs Rubio's Numbers

How electable is Marco Rubio in 2016?
An early analysis by Nate Silver here.

(Photo by J. Scott Applewhite – AP)

Someone Takes A Bite Out Of Apple...

First Facebook, now Apple: Hackers are busy bees, stinging big corporations.

Now, if we can just get Zuckerberg and Cook to get their companies to pay their fair share of taxes. (For the record, I don't think hacker-attacks help make that happen.)

(Photo of me by Bucephalus Alexander)

When There's Nothing To Watch On TV...

There's always a cable channel for--and by--the autistic.

Guess What The TEA Party Does To Those Who Turn On Them?

Karl Rove finds out.

Why Do Big Cities Vote Blue?

The Atlantic magazine considers the question.

(Map by MPI's Zara Matheson)

Team Blue Raises More Green Than Team Red

RollCall reports that in first month of this year, the Dems outraised the GOP.

In Other Space-Rock News...

What to name the two newly-discovered moons of Pluto?

The SETI Institute asks for help.

(My two choices, Romulus and Remus, are unfortunately not on the ballot.)

The Next Wed State?

The citizens of Illinois back full marriage equality 50-29, a new poll shows.

"Fresh Pressure"

The Hill says the GOP doesn't fear voter blowback from the sequester happening.

Reuters says Obama's ready to apply fresh pressure on the Republicans to avoid cuts.

Newt says the GOP is doing it wrong.

What do you say? Tell Congress.

The Hagel Finagle

"As I’ve written before, a huge amount of this is opposition to any US defense secretary who doesn’t see Israel as a 51st state or somehow subject to evangelical theological doctrines that over-rule any diplomatic ones. And insofar as Israel is an issue, they particularly oppose a defense secretary who believes that Israel’s continued settlement of the West Bank is a huge liability for the US in its relationship with the entire Muslim and Arab world and a constant recruiting mechanism for terrorists to attack the West. Then there’s Hagel’s deadly combination of two Purple Hearts and a foreign policy realism versus Dick Cheney’s five deferments in Vietnam and 'ignorant interventionism'." ~Andrew Sullivan
The rest here.

Deep Time

How can we create ways for data to survive for hundreds or thousands of years--and still be understood?

And what about warning the future generations about all the toxic pollution we're putting into storage?

The Long Now Foundation thinks about these things.

Radiolab has an interesting episode about time, including a clock that will not "chime" for 1,594 years. Another great episode features Oliver Sacks and how whales might hear Beethoven.

Sixty-Three Percent Of Republicans

The usually-conservative-skewed Rasumussen finds 63% of GOP voters think Republicans in Congress are out of touch.

The Emily Dickinson of Street Photography

An amazing story behind this woman and her wonderful photographs.
Soon to be a documentary.

Remote Control

"Teaching parents to switch channels from violent shows to educational TV can improve preschoolers' behavior, even without getting them to watch less, a study found."

(Animated gif by me.)

Retirement Woes

"For the first time since the New Deal, a majority of Americans are headed toward a retirement in which they will be financially worse off than their parents, jeopardizing a long era of improved living standards for the nation’s elderly, according to a growing consensus of new research."

The story here.

Let The Word Go Forth

Monday, February 18, 2013

Obama Wants (To Map) Your Brain

"The Obama administration is planning a decade-long scientific effort to examine the workings of the human brain and build a comprehensive map of its activity, seeking to do for the brain what the Human Genome Project did for genetics."
Full NYT story here.

UPDATE:  We're already getting some very interesting  scans showing brain wiring...

Rock Lexicon

February 18, 1970

On this day, forty-three years ago, the Chicago Seven were acquitted of charges of conspiracy to incite a riot at the '68 Democratic National Convention.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

If US States Were Countries

The Economist magazine compares
U.S. states to world economies GDP.

Take It Away, Dina

Animated Gif of the Week

Earth's Ten Greatest Hits

The Gold Border Magazine folks informs us that Chicxulub was but one of the biggest rock phenomenoa to hit Terra.

Installation of the Week

San Francisco's Bay Bridge in Lights


On February 18, Yoko Ono turns 80.

The Queer Census

Gallup tallies up the percentages of U.S. adults who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender and shows us the results state by state.

Personally, I can testify it was quite a change going from growing up in 2.7% Idaho to living in 4.0% Washington state. (Frankly the first number seems high and the second number seems low...)


As I keep saying, the key questions of this century will be:
What is true? What is real?

The other term I expect (eventually) to catch on: 
Errorism: (n) a specific information-age anxiety
or disorientation due to a conflicting mass 
of purported "facts" or information.


The driving force pushing the Senate Blockage of Hagel? points the finger at sensational conservative bloggers.

When Galaxies Collide...

How They Built "House of Cards"

Spacey and Fincher talk about the making of the popular, acclaimed NetFlix series, as well as their previous collaboration on Se7en.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

I See Chia People

Organic sculptures made of soil and wheat grass seeds
by Mathilde Roussel.

Mash-Up of the Week

(Hat-tip to Bucephalus Alexander)

(Dollar) Signs in the Skies?

Meteorite reminds some of the financial potential of asteroid mining. (A whole new meaning to "market crash"?)

Size Matters

CPAC 2013's Tent Stays Small

Guns? Great! Gays? Gag. Story here.

Russian Meteorite Not Related To Asteroid 2012 DA14


How did we happen to get so many dash-cam videos of the Russian meteorite? 

Like a Poem

"In one video, the car comes to a stop at a red light. The turn signal starts its distinctive clacking. The oncoming cars still have their headlights on, and tram lines crisscross the darkened sky. A white, blazing fireball shimmers in the sky, glowing like a Disney shooting star—like something that would precede the materialization of a fairy godmother. As it races toward the horizon, the driver launches into an unhurried stream of Russian profanity, starting with 'What the fuck is that?' and getting gradually more colorful. The light changes and, with a few parting profanities, he turns right. The whole scene takes forty-nine seconds. It’s like reading a poem."
Read more.


Blogger Andrew Sullivan asks the question.
American Prospect's Jamelle Bouie fumes.
Wonkette has her own unique take.