Monday, April 29, 2013

Two Gay G.I.s

...debate Bradley Manning.

Some background info here.

The First Active Pro Basketball Player Came Out...

...in 2005.

More discussion here.

It's Always About Turnout

The Associated Press reports:

"America's blacks voted at a higher rate than other minority groups in 2012 and by most measures surpassed the white turnout for the first time, reflecting a deeply polarized presidential election in which blacks strongly supported Barack Obama while many whites stayed home.

Had people voted last November at the same rates they did in 2004, when black turnout was below its current historic levels, Republican Mitt Romney would have won narrowly, according to an analysis conducted for The Associated Press."

O'Connor Uncertain

Sandra Day O'Connor (finally) admits (in public) maybe it was a bad idea for SCOTUS to take Bush v. Gore.

A reminder here that the limited recount that Gore was asking for might have gone Bush's way--but a full recount of the entire state might have given Gore the state, and the Presidency. But either way, the result would have come without the taint of SCOTUS interference--and the Supreme Court could have avoided the damage to its reputation as well.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Sustainability Starts At Home

If you don't want a yellow-pages directory delivered to your door, you have until May 6 to opt-out here.

(Photo by me)

ENDA Reintroduced

"Today, 73 percent of likely voters support ENDA, and that includes a majority of Republicans and self-identified conservatives. Even 50 percent of people who have generally unfavorable views about LGBT people support equal treatment for LGBT workers."

(snip)

"Perhaps what’s most remarkable about the bill is that nine out of ten voters already think its protections are law."

This can pass--if we do the work.

Steve Benen at the Maddowblog looks at the chances.

Chart(s) of the Day

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Reality (Vs TV) Check


"If you want to actually understand why gun control failed, let's try a simple exercise. Raise your hand if you had a strong opinion about the background check bill that was in front of Congress. 

Keep your hand raised if you know how your own Senator voted on it. Otherwise put your hand down.

Keep your hand raised if you actually live in a state that might plausibly elect a Republican to congress. 

Okay, now keep your hand raised if that bill was in the top one or two issues that you'll be voting on in 2014 or 2016. By which I mean, if your Senator votes the wrong way on that bill, you will vote for anyone who opposes them. Anyone--even someone with the wrong opinions on gay marriage, social security reform, transportation subsidies, the Keystone XL pipeline, carbon taxes, marginal tax rates on people who make more than $250k per annum, the deficit, and student loan repayment programs. 

Now look around. Aside from those three guys in the back from Handgun Control Inc., do you know who still has their hand raised? NRA members."

More: Memo: The Aaron Sorkin Model of Political Discourse Doesn't Actually Work

While we're on the subject, this blog post might be old, but it remains just as cogent and worth a read.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Miranda Reality Check

"A newsflash: Miranda does not in any way require the police to warn suspects taken into custody that they don’t have to answer questions or that they have a right to have an attorney present. All that Miranda says is that if the interrogators don’t give the warnings, then (barring an exception), the government won’t be able to introduce into evidence at trial statements the unwarned suspect makes (or the fruits of those statements). Accordingly, there is nothing remotely unusual about the Tsarnaev situation. Millions of criminal suspects are questioned every year by the police (and other law enforcement officials) without ever being advised of their rights under Miranda. Police officers I know tell me they hardly ever Mirandize individuals they arrest because cases in which the arrestee’s statements are relevant to securing a conviction (especially in a world of plea bargaining) are quite unusual." ~Jason Mazzone

The Boston Bombings and Pop-Culture Disorientation

"Daddy, that movie scares me."

"I just tweeted that, you know, very simply, many more questions than answers right now, but feels more like Dog Day Afternoon than, you know, [Zero Dark] Thirty."

"[Oblivion is] one of many science fiction films that are hitting the big screen this year, most of them featuring tales of dystopia. 'We seem to be getting one at least every two weeks.'"

How The NRA Wins

“So they have at least 180,000 that are immediately reactive to anything that’s going on,” Thurber says. “Through the internet, they get mobilized and send a message.”

Blogger Andrew Sullivan aggregates some others' commentary on the reasons for the loss.

And Slate.com explains "the type of president who could cajole the Senate to support gun control would never have been elected in the first place."

What Murdoch Hath Wrought

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Ignorance At The Speed of Light



Before the smoke in Boston has barely cleared... this starts to appear.

A primer on how to recognize (or build) a conspiracy theory here.

Must-Listen of the Day


The seeds of cruelty in all of us, the genetic predispositions of psychopathology, one victim's story, and the Myth of the 20th Century As The Most Violent in History: all of it here.

(Photo: Self-portrait, 2009)

Quotes of the Day


"What matters: 1) who did it; 2) how they did it; 3) why they did it. What doesn't matter: what we call it." ~Nate Silver

“I don’t know what’s going to be revealed to be behind all of this mayhem. One human insect or a poisonous mass of broken sociopaths. But here’s what I DO know. If it’s one person or a HUNDRED people, that number is not even a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population on this planet. You watch the videos of the carnage and there are people running TOWARDS the destruction to help out. … This is a giant planet and we’re lucky to live on it but there are prices and penalties incurred for the daily miracle of existence. One of them is, every once in awhile, the wiring of a tiny sliver of the species gets snarled and they’re pointed towards darkness.

But the vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evil doers and, more importantly, the damage they wreak. This is beyond religion or creed or nation. We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We’d have eaten ourselves alive long ago. So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, 'The good outnumber you, and we always will,'” – Patton Oswalt

(Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Monday, April 15, 2013

Rand Goes To Howard

"From his first lame joke, Paul condescended to his audience by repeatedly underestimating their knowledge of a subject they almost certainly understand better than he does. Institutions like Howard exist in part because much of America once refused to educate blacks and whites together. Paul might as well go to NASA to lecture the scientists on astrophysics."

More at MotherJones.com

Ta-Nehisi Coates's take on the Rand speech here.

Nate Silver assesses Rand Paul's chances in 2016 here.

In Other SCOTUS News That Has Nothing To Do With Marriage Equality


The Supremes contemplate the legality of patenting human genes.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Forward

"President Barack Obama has drawn a line in the sand in his ongoing fight with budget-cutting lawmakers when it comes to future federal funding for research and development. He’s calling for reversing recent spending cuts to most sectors of R&D spending and adding new funds for many areas next year — despite tough fiscal times.

Big winners in the president’s budget include the Department of Energy, whose funding would rise 18 percent. The National Science Foundation, U.S. Geological Survey and National Institute of Standards and Technology would also see healthy increases. The Health and Human Services Department, which houses the National Institutes of Health, would see a slight increase from 2012 — again, all before accounting for inflation."
The story here.

Preview of Previews


The Other Courts


While so many people are focused on SCOTUS, we might want to notice the GOP scheme to pack the second-highest court in the United States.

Will DE Get ME?


Reuters: "Delaware could become the 10th U.S. state to extend marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples, as Governor Jack Markell announced a bill on Thursday to legalize same-sex marriage."

Bitcoin Bust


Value of the new currency plummeted 61% yesterday.

Forward


Notes blogger Andrew Sullivan:

If the Obama budget were implemented, and if current trends continue, the deficit will have come down by 47 percent in four years. In relation to GDP, it will have declined from “10.1 percent of GDP in 2009 to a projected 6 percent in fiscal 2013 (it’ll probably be less), and 4.4 percent of GDP in fiscal 2014.”

Good Question of the Day


IRS, FYI...



"Under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) of 1986, government officials only need a subpoena, issued without a judge's approval, to read emails that have been opened or that are more than 180 days old."


Details here.

Chart of the Day


The Right To Erasure


The ability to forget is as important as our ability to remember, says Viktor Mayer-Schönberger

Wonderful Waste Of Time

Another reason we have the Interwebs.

Another, here.

Budge It

More info here.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

"Turns out the wolf is real."


Former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau on The Sequester.

Okay To Go?

The next year will be a crucial time in the efforts to send a privately-funded mission to Mars in 2018:

"We acknowledge the reach that this represents," Taber MacCallum, Inspiration Mars' chief technology officer, said of getting everything organized in less than five years. "The next year of effort on this is really going to tell, I think, whether or not we are able to close this as a mission."

Big Air Package

The latest from artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude

Monday, April 08, 2013

Death Etiquette

Glenn Greenwald considers the implications--and dangers--of the "not speak ill of the dead" assumption when applied to political figures.

Sounds Like A Retro-Burt-Bacharach-esque Song Title

Black & Red

Ta-Nehisi Coates on Black Conservatives and the GOP:

"It's perfectly respectable to think Obamacare is bad for the country. It's less respectable to claim that Obama isn't an African-American. It's perfectly respectable to believe in a flat tax. It's less respectable to tell a room full of white people that Obama, isn't "a strong black man" or that he has "never been a part of the black experience in America." It's respectable to believe that the Ryan Budget is the key to the future. It's less respectable to believe that equating same-sex marriage with child-rape puts you on Harriet Tubman status."

Painting the House Blue Again

“Democrats have identified 52 possible districts where they could flip a seat, many in suburban areas where party officials hope to attract candidates who can break free from traditional partisan labels. … Democrats did well last year, but fell 17 seats short of the majority in the House. And only once in the past 60 years has the president’s party gained seats at the halfway point of his second term. … Rothenberg Political Report rates only 50 total seats as competitive, split evenly between the two sides. Republicans … need to win just nine of the 50 battleground seats to secure the majority.”

More here.

(Photo by me, from the Washington State Democratic Convention, 2008)

"Stop Externalising Your Life"

We need not post every damned thing online:

"The key thing to remember is that you are not enriching your experiences by sharing them online; you’re detracting from them because all your efforts are focussed on making them look attractive to other people. Your experience of something, even if similar to the experience of many others, is unique and cannot be reproduced within the constraints of social media. So internalise that experience instead. Think about it. Go home and think about it some more. Write about it in more than 140 characters; on paper even. Paint a picture of it. Talk about it face to face with your friends. Talk about how it made you feel."

Me? I rarely Tweet, I don't have an Instagram account, and I'm weaning myself from Facebook.

At One Hundred

Some portraits of centenarians by Karsten Thormaehlen

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Friday, April 05, 2013

The Modern Moloch

The latest terrific 99% Invisible podcast offers a peek back in time before cars ruled the road--and how they took it over--as well as the origin of the term "jay walk."

(Credit: Works Progress Administration/Federal Art  Poster illustrated by Isadore Posoff, 1937)

ASMR



Act Two of this past week's episode of This American Life finally provided me an official term for something I myself sometimes experience.

(Photo: Self-portraits, mid/late 1990s)

The Tyranny of the Now


Narrative Collapse, Digiphrenia, Overwinding, Fractalnoia, and Apocalypto.

Must-Listen of the Week: Douglas Rushkoff discusses his new book, Present Shock.

(Parody design by me, from way back in the 90s)