Wednesday, September 30, 2015

I'm Guessing This Isn't a Coincidence

Couldn't Happen to a Nicer Guy

A little background:
Indiana Governor Mike Pence — who frequently refers to himself as “a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican, in that order” — believed that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) would mobilize his conservative base. Instead, it created a backlash that has effectively torpedoed the Republican’s chance at a national office.


even among those respondents who identified as observant Christians, 58 percent believed that discrimination on religious grounds should not be allowed.


Hoosiers reject the idea that a business should be able to refuse service to members of the LGBT community on the basis of religious conviction by a 2-to-1 margin. Moreover — and irrespective of their opinion about the bill — more than 75 percent of Indiana voters say that signing it is a crippling blow to businesses. storation Act (RFRA) would mobilize his conservative base. Instead, it created a backlash that has effectively torpedoed the Republican’s chance at a national office.

And, good on Hoosiers.

Fast forward to today.

A cosposonsor of that "religious freedom" law was Indiana House Majority Leader Jud McMillan. He, too, apparently, believes that gays should not have the same rights as heteros. And, I don't think it's a stretch to suppose that's because he is a "Christian".

And did I mention a total and complete idiot/asshole?
During his five years in the legislature, McMillin has crusaded to “protect the integrity of the institution of marriage.” [...] According to his campaign website, he claimed that “the family has always been the foundation of our strength of community” and that “[i]n these times of turmoil the rest of the country could learn something from our example.”


[But Jud McMillan] resigned suddenly on Tuesday after a sexually compromising video was sent to all of the people on his “Contacts” list, the Advocate’s Bil Browning reports.


Tuesday night he released a statement in which he said that the “time is right for me to pass the torch and spend more time with my family.”
The old "spend more time with my family" meme.
After news of the mass-texting began to circulate, Representative Jud McMillin (R) claimed that his “phone was stolen in Canada and out of my control for about 24 hours. I have just been able to reactivate it under my control. Please disregard any messages you received recently. I am truly sorry for anything offensive you may have received.”
My, my. And how can all his contacts "disregard" a "sexually compromising video" of McMillan after seeing it?
[T]he Advocate reported that the woman on the video was not, in fact, his wife.
Yeah, not sure his family is going to want to spend more time with HIM.

And, it's not his first offense.
In 2005, his career as an assistant county prosecutor in Ohio came to an end amid questions about his sexual conduct. He admitted to a relationship with the complainant in a domestic violence case he was prosecuting, but he insisted the relationship began after he stepped off the case, according to the Dayton Daily News. He resigned a week after he stopped working on the case.

  USA Today
Nor is he alone in his idiocy in the Indiana Legislature.
Rep. Justin Moed, D-Indianapolis, apologized earlier this year after a website exposed his sexting activities with Indiana porn star Sydney Leathers.
WTF is wrong with these people? How stupid do you have to be?

But wait....there's more...
In an unflattering profile by Bilerico, it says that prior to attending the University of Cincinnati, McMillin had been a student at Ball State University. During his time there, he had been on the school’s baseball team. He left the school in his freshman year, 1996, after his team mates accused him of stealing money from them. There’s no mention of McMillin’s time at Ball State on his official profile.

The Bilerico piece also talks about a time when McMillin was in high school in Franklin County, Indiana, and he was involved in the game of “leap frog.” A game where two drivers try to overtake each other on the open road. During one of these games, the man McMillin was racing against crashed into a car, killing a man, Tom Marsh, his wife, and their unborn baby.
How did this asshat get elected to office?

There's No App for That

Tracking the number of deaths caused by US drone strikes in countries like Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia? There’s an app for that. Or rather, there was – until Apple removed it from its app store.

Metadata+ was launched in early 2014 by Josh Begley, a data artist and research editor for The Intercept. It used data from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism to send push notifications to its users whenever someone was killed by a US drone.

The app was rejected five times under its original name of Drones+, before Apple approved it as Metadata+. A year and a half on, the app has been removed from the App Store, with Begley telling users the cause was “excessively crude or objectionable content” – referring to a specific clause in Apple’s developer rules.

The app used text and maps rather than images of the deaths that it reported, so it could not be considered to be even moderately crude.

A screenshot of Begley’s iTunes Connect account published by Gawker makes it clear that it’s the latter half of the clause that caused the removal. “Your app contains content that many users would find objectionable.”

Begley told Gawker that while Metadata+ will continue to work for people who have already installed it, new users will not be able to download it.

Object to the actual killing all you want - that will continue.

If you want to know about "every reported covert US drone strike,"  you can follow Begley's Dronestream on Twitter.  Take a peak.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

That's Because You Aren't a Pharmaceutical Lobbyist


In nine hours, Edward Snowden's followers numbered over 700,000.  At 8:00 CST, he had 726,000.  At 8:05, 730,000.  He's averaging over 1,000 new followers per minute.

Permit me a merry giggle.

Astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson Re: Edward Snowden

By the way, Ed Snowden just opened a Twitter account four hours ago.  And at this point (2:59 pm), his account shows 487,000 followers.  (Update 3:16 pm - now 524,000.   Update 8:00 pm - now 726,000)


(Update 9/30 7:00 am CST: 964,000 followers.)

UPDATE:  9:30 am, 9/30/15
Now, I'm hooked on watching the followers number.  At this time, he has surpassed the 1 million mark. Sadly, I have to go to work.  But!  I'll be back.

Here are the Snowden conversations Tyson references:

Monday, September 28, 2015

That Old Reagan Meme

"The blue bars are the bottom 90% of the population 

by income; the red bars are the top 10%."

And, the notations on this chart don't point out that even though it was Reagan who won with the question "Are you better off?", it was during his terms that the distribution of wealth skyrocketed in favor of the rich and against 90% of the population.  Maybe that's why he was asking.  If the 90% were better off than they were four years earlier, he needed to get in and fix that!

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

No Money to Be Made

Shell has abandoned its controversial drilling operations in the Alaskan Arctic in the face of mounting opposition.

Its decision, which has been welcomed by environmental campaigners, follows disappointing results from an exploratory well drilled 80 miles off Alaska’s north-west coast. Shell said it had found oil and gas but not in sufficient quantities.


Shell has also privately made clear it is taken aback by the public protests against the drilling which are threatening to seriously damage its reputation.

They're claiming Shell's reputation is good at this point?

The withdrawal came six weeks after the final U.S. clearance and three months after Shell was still defending the project, a rapid change of heart for such a large company that shows it is preparing for a prolonged period of low oil prices while trying to close its $70 billion takeover of rival BG.


"The entire episode has been a very costly error for the company both financially and reputationally," said analysts at Deutsche Bank, who estimate the Shell's Arctic exploration project could cost the company about $9 billion.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Republican Party of Adolescents

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

On a Technical Note

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Designers with access to the best toys do indeed drive the industry.  But it does seem like eventually their "futuristic" designs reach the masses.  The masses just don't ever get to be on the bleeding edge.  I'm not sure there's a moral judgment to be made in that, but maybe there is.  The wealthy always get the best and they always get it first.  It's a capitalistic world we live in, and it takes capital to have privilege.  That's the whole point, isn't it?

All This Talk About Another Government Shutdown

It's never really a government shutdown, is it?

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Hugo Chavez' Evil Legacy

...but hey, say what you will anyway.

How the Poor Get Poorer

Many states issue their own pre-paid cards to dispense welfare payments. As a result, those who do not live near the right bank lose out, either from ATM withdrawal charges or from a long trek to make a withdrawal. Other terms can rankle; in Indiana, welfare cards allow only one free ATM withdrawal a month. If claimants check their balance at a machine it costs 40 cents. (Kansas recently abandoned, at the last minute, a plan to limit cash withdrawals to $25 a day, which would have required many costly trips to the cashpoint.)

To access credit, the poor typically rely on high-cost payday lenders. In 2013 the median such loan was $350, lasted two weeks and carried a charge of $15 per $100 borrowed—an interest rate of 322% (a typical credit card charges 15%). [...] In 2014 nearly half of American households said they could not cover an unexpected $400 expense without borrowing or selling something; 2% said this would cause them to resort to payday lending.


The prices of items which soak up much of their budgets—such as rent, food and energy—have risen faster than other goods and services. Falling oil and energy prices may be reversing that trend, though typically the poor own fewer cars, so benefit less from cheaper petrol.


As a result of this inflation premium, prices rose 3.2% more for the poor [from 2000-2013 (latest figures available)]. [...] These figures may understate the disparity, because they do not include employer contributions to health insurance, which [...] make up a bigger proportion of the total pay of the poor.


[I]nequality is worse than income figures alone suggest. This is true even before non-financial disparities, such as the implications for health of living on a low income, are considered.

Of course, it's their own fault. Or maybe God just doesn't love them.

It's Sunday

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

It's Sunday

Obama, too?  Surely they didn't drink the water then.

This is not the first time Brady has pulled a stunt like this, with the Philadelphia Daily News reporting he did the same thing after President Obama's inauguration, though he just saved that glass and did not drink from it.

That's what I thought. The big payoff for capturing the glasses is the e-bay (or estate sale) value.

I wonder what Pope Frank thinks about this.


It's Sunday

Take a look.  You may be surprised.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Friday, September 25, 2015

First Came the Free Speech Zones

Now the Free Speech Topics.
One of the most dangerous threats to campus free speech has been emerging at the highest levels of the University of California system, the sprawling collection of 10 campuses which includes UCLA and UC Berkeley. The University’s governing Board of Regents, with the support of University President Janet Napolitano and egged on by the State’s legislature, has been attempting to adopt new speech codes that – in the name of combating “anti-Semitism” – would formally ban various forms of Israel criticism and anti-Israel activism.

Under the most stringent such regulations, students found to be in violation of these codes would face suspension or expulsion. In July, it appeared that the Regents were poised to enact the most extreme version, but decided instead to push the decision off until September, when they instead would adopt non-binding guidelines to define “hate speech” and “intolerance.”


The San Francisco Chronicle put it this way: “Regent Dick Blum said his wife, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., ‘is prepared to be critical of this university’ unless UC not only tackles anti-Jewish bigotry but also makes clear that perpetrators will be punished.” The lawyer Ken White wrote that “Blum threatened that his wife . . .would interfere and make trouble if the Regents didn’t commit to punish people for prohibited speech.”


Blum’s verbatim comments at the Regents meeting are even creepier than that reporting suggests:


Not only is Blum demanding adoption of the State Department definition, despite the fact that (more accurately: because) it would encompass some forms of BDS activism and even criticisms of Israel. But, worse, he’s also insisting that it be binding and that students who express the ideas that fall within the State Department definition be suspended from school or expelled. And he’s overtly threatening that if he does not get his way, then his wife – “Your Senior Senator” – will get very upset and start publicly attacking the university, a threat that public school administrators who rely on the government for their budgets take very seriously.

  Glenn Greenwald
Don't mess with DiFi.
To ban the expression of any political ideas in such a setting would not only be wildly anti-intellectual but also patently unconstitutional.
But totally modern Amerikan.

 ...but hey, do what you will anyway.

"Karma Police"

[B]illions of digital records about ordinary people’s online activities were being stored every day. Among them were details cataloging visits to porn, social media and news websites, search engines, chat forums, and blogs.

The mass surveillance operation — code-named KARMA POLICE — was launched by British spies about seven years ago without any public debate or scrutiny. It was just one part of a giant global Internet spying apparatus built by the United Kingdom’s electronic eavesdropping agency, Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ.


The surveillance is underpinned by an opaque legal regime that has authorized GCHQ to sift through huge archives of metadata about the private phone calls, emails and Internet browsing logs of Brits, Americans, and any other citizens — all without a court order or judicial warrant.


As of 2012, GCHQ was storing about 50 billion metadata records about online communications and Web browsing activity every day, with plans in place to boost capacity to 100 billion daily by the end of that year. The agency, under cover of secrecy, was working to create what it said would soon be the biggest government surveillance system anywhere in the world.

  The Intercept
To be shared as requested by other governments' spies, you can be sure.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Not Soon Enough

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice suggested Thursday that she is done with politics. "I'm quite content to spend my life helping young people find themselves, I've had my fill of politics," Rice said at an event in Hong Kong, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported.

  The Hill
Indeed, she got quite full. Her investments in oil fattened her up nicely.

Your Nobel Peace Prize Winner

As Saudi Arabia continues U.S.-backed strikes in Yemen and Washington lifts its freeze on military to aid to Egypt, new figures show President Obama has overseen a major increase in weapons sales since taking office. The majority of weapons exports under Obama have gone to the Middle East and Persian Gulf. Saudi Arabia tops the list at $46 billion in new agreements. We are joined by William Hartung, who says that even after adjusting for inflation, "the volume of major deals concluded by the Obama administration in its first five years exceeds the amount approved by the Bush administration in its full eight years in office by nearly $30 billion. That also means that the Obama administration has approved more arms sales than any U.S. administration since World War II."

  Democracy Now!
...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

And Now for Something Totally Different...

Courtesy of Pulp Librarian

Check out the clever comments.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.



I once had a dream wherein I was in a lush landscape, and a tall bird-like creature with no beak standing upright looked very much like these guys, only yellow.  Maybe it wasn't a dream...maybe it was an out-of-body experience on IO!!  Yeah, that's the ticket.  

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Can't Get No Respect

Check out David Cameron's latest tweet. Well, check out the responses. (Better hurry before it comes down.)

Camron's first tweet since PigGate says UK will commit $100m to refugee camps because "Making sure people are well looked after stops them making the dangerous journey to Europe."

Some people wanted to know "where the hell" the money was coming from; some wanted money going to take care of the British poor; but by far the most wanted to rub his face in the pig story.

The Trump Wall

An engineer has written an article about the (un)feasibility of building the proposed border wall. Excerpts:
[Such a wall would require t]welve million, six hundred thousand cubic yards of concrete.


That quantity of concrete could pave a one-lane road from New York to Los Angeles, going the long way around the Earth, which would probably be just as useful.


The men and women doing the work of actually installing the wall would have to be provided with food, water, shelter, lavatory facilities, safety equipment, transportation, and medical care, and would sometimes be miles away from a population center of any size. Sure, some people would be willing to to do the work, but at what price? Would Trump hire Mexicans?


Trump’s border wall is not impossible, but it would certainly be a more challenging endeavor than he would ever lead you to believe.
...but hey, do what you will anyway.

UPDATE 9/24:

Monday, September 21, 2015

It's Still Going Strong

This could get ugly...

And somewhere there must be an all Scottish Twitter fest, nae?

Ahmed Mohammed and the Clock

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Why the Right Thing Doesn't Happen

[I]n 1993 advocates of single-payer healthcare met with Hillary Clinton when she was in charge of the Clinton administration’s attempt to overhaul the health insurance system. She told them they’d persuaded her that single-payer was clearly the rational way to go. But, she suggested, that was irrelevant, asking, “is there any force on the face of the earth that could counter the hundreds of millions of dollars the insurance industry would spend fighting that?” When they suggested leadership from the president of the United States, she scoffed: “Tell me something real.”

  The Intercept

In Poor Taste

I got sidetracked into a set of twitters this morning:  Pig Gate and Cameron's Pig

It seems that a tabloid published a story that British PM David Cameron had (at least) once porked a dead pig's mouth.  Eww.  I know.  But, okay.  I'll bite.

WARNING:  Nothing important, newsworthy or meaningful follows.

I have heard of that practice before - the secret men's societies having members do something that would give the society something to hold over their heads to prevent anyone talking about the society.  But stuffing your junk in a pig's mouth seems like something that would only lead to lots of jokes if it became public.  It wouldn't cost anything politically.*  Maybe if the pig were alive.  At any rate, whether this actually happened or not, it did indeed lead to lots of jokes, and I've enjoyed the punny ones.  (I can't keep up though, it's stampeding fast.)

And my favorite:



...but hey, do what you will anyway.

*Well, I was wrong.  It does have a political cost in this case.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Rewriting History

FAIR has noted before how America’s well-documented clandestine activities in Syria have been routinely ignored when the corporate media discuss the Obama administration’s “hands-off” approach to the four-and-a-half-year-long conflict. This past week, two pieces—one in the New York Times detailing the “finger pointing” over Obama’s “failed” Syria policy, and a Vox “explainer” of the Syrian civil war—did one better: They didn’t just omit the fact that the CIA has been arming, training and funding rebels since 2012, they heavily implied they had never done so.


Reuters and the Washington Post’s reports on the US’s Syrian strategy revamp, while they didn’t fudge history as bad as the Times and Vox, also ignored any attempts by the CIA to back Syrian opposition rebels. This crucial piece of history is routinely omitted from mainstream public discourse.


By whitewashing the West’s clandestine involvement in Syria, the media not only portrays Russia as the sole contributor to hostilities, it absolves Europe and the United States of their own guilt in helping create a refugee crisis and fuel a civil war that has devastated so many for so long.


How can the public have an honest conversation about what the US should or shouldn’t do in Syria next when the most respected newspaper in the US can’t honestly acknowledge what we have done thus far?

  Adam Johnson
...but hey, do what you will anyway.

What? No Sarah?

A desperate call must have gone out from the National GOP leadership.


...but hey, do what you will anyway.

What If?

It certainly sounds like a threat.  And I have to assume that's a definite risk/problem with any country having a strong military.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

It's Sunday

Compare and contrast:

In case you think I've picked unrepresentative pictures, go ahead, pick your own.

“I have felt used by people who presented themselves as my friends and whom I hadn’t seen more than once or twice in my life. They have used that to their own benefit. But it’s an experience we all go through,” he told Argentine journalist Marcelo Gallardo, a real-life friend since the days when the pope was bishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires.

“Friendship in the utilitarian sense – let’s see what advantage I can gain by getting close to this person and becoming friends – that pains me,” he told Gallardo in the interview which was broadcast on Sunday.

“Friendship is something sacred. The Bible says to have one or two friends.”

I did not know that. I feel so holy.
Echoing the bold appeal to care for the planet he issued in a sweeping encyclical in June, the pope condemned humankind’s “abuse of creation”.

“We’re not friends of creation. Sometimes we treat it like our worst enemy. Think of deforestation, misuse of water, methods of extracting minerals with elements like arsenic and cyanide that end up making people sick,” he said.

Of fundamentalists, he said: “Their mission is to destroy in the name of an idea, not a reality ... They kill, attack, destroy, malign in the name of an ideological god.”

The interview came as the pope prepares to visit Cuba and the US from 19 to 28 September.
He'll be fine in Cuba, but I hope he has good bodyguards in the US, because after that comment about fundamentalists, he's reinvigorated their animosity toward Catholics, and the Westboro Baptist protestors may have just gained mob support.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Serious Socialism in the US: Alaska

In Alaska, [...] the state owns the oil fields.

  Open Democracy
Okay, but I did not know this until today:  Alaskan residents are guaranteed a (variable) annual dividend from the sale of the oil.  All you have to be is a citizen.  The program has been running since 1982.
The PFD is derived from the returns of the APF’s investments. With some effort to smooth out the ups and downs, the dividend fluctuates with the markets. In 2008, the dividend (plus a onetime supplement of $1,200) reached a high of $3,269, which comes to $16,345 for a family of five. After the financial meltdown of 2008, the dividend has declined, reaching $878 per year in 2012. That’s still $4,390 for a family of five. Now that world markets have come back, the APF recently reach a new high of $46 billion. Higher dividends are likely to follow in a few years.
I'm beginning to get even a fuller picture of rabid Republican Sarah Palin and her clan.

Speaking of Sarah Palin, she only got to shoot wolves from her helicopters...

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Bill Maher Has Become Dennis Miller - Not Funny Any More

Friday, September 18, 2015

What's Going On in Shively, Kentucky?

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) - JCPS has confirmed that police are responding to an 'active shooter' situation at Western High School in Shively.

SHIVELY, Ky. —Shively police are looking for the person they say shot a 17-year-old in the stomach just before 3 p.m. Thursday

Shively and Louisville firefighters were called to the school, located at 2501 Rockford Lane, shortly after 12 p.m. Tuesday.

After multiple tests by both department, officials still weren't able to figure out it exactly what it was.

A helicopter scoured the area around Western High School in Shively on Saturday evening before police closed in around a home across the street.


[O]ne young man was killed and two others were taken to University of Louisville Hospital in critical condition after being shot, a police spokeswoman said. All are between 15 and 19-years old.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Just As You Already Knew

[A] former director of the Norwegian Nobel Institute has acknowledged that, in hindsight, he's not so sure if giving the prize to Obama was a good move.

A good move? A good MOVE!? Is the Nobel Peace Prize not given as an honor reward? A move, he says? As in a game? A gambit?  This seems to be an admission that the prize committee isn't giving awards for accolades earned, as you might be expected to believe.
In a new memoir titled "Secretary of Peace: 25 years with the Nobel Prize," Geir Lundestad, the non-voting Director of the Nobel Institute until 2014, writes that he has developed doubts about the Norwegian Nobel Committee's decision to grant Obama the Nobel Peace Prize over the past six years. While the prize was designed to encourage the new president, it may have not have worked out as intended.
So the prize is meaningless after all.  The Nobel Committee intends not to honor merited work but to influence future action.  It's not a prize; it's a bribe.  ($1.4 million to Obama in 2009.)
Following the media interest in Lundestad's memoir, the Norwegian historian called a press conference on Thursday to deny that he had implied that Obama didn't deserve the prize.
Sounds to me like he did.  Well, it wouldn't have been deserved if it meant anything.

Guess who never won the Peace Prize?  Gandhi.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Bye Bye Middle Class

Hello Third World.


The bottom is truly dropping out for the middle class.

No Means Yes to Some Men

...but hey, do what you will anyway.