Monday, April 29, 2013

Judge not, lest ye be Friedman

Yes, it's Thomas P. Friedman, more frequently addressed as Thomas L. Friedman, Mystax Cholericus, with yet another insight to offer to an astounded public.
Aireekah at regretsy.

This one has to do with his wrath, for the Mustache is wrathful today. He is downright sparked off, in fact. We haven't seen him so indignantly quivering since the Iraq War ended in May 2003.

Yes, of course, May 2003. When did you think the war ended? He took his mustache onto the Charlie Rose show to announce it, on the very same day, May 29, as [jump]

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Nerdpron, er, prom, with swagbag of Tweets

Nerd Judy Holliday in Born Yesterday. From also smarter-than-she-looks romance novelist Sarah MacLean.
No kidding, man. Why, as far as I could tell, nobody mentioned Sarah even once.* [jump]

Beyond the wacky rich

Video: White House Correspondents' Dinner: What it's like to walk the red carpet

Oh, Mikey! You're so—big!
Image from FamousDC.
Before turning to national politics, he covered schools and local governments in rural counties outside Fredericksburg, Va., for The Free Lance-Star, then wrote about Doug Wilder, Oliver North, Chuck Robb and the Bobbitts for the Richmond Times-Dispatch, where he nurtured police sources on overnight ride-alongs through housing projects. Allen also covered Mayor Giuliani, the Connecticut statehouse and the wacky rich of Greenwich for The New York Times.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

George W driven to Rehab

Uncredited image from Esquire.
Apostolic Nuncio to 42nd Street Monsignor Ross Douthat joins the choruses of "He couldn't have been that bad":
a lot of liberal criticism of Bush’s record (and especially his domestic record) looks not only misguided but absurd — and I think many liberals know it. Look at Yglesias’s piece, for instance, listing “positive aspects of the Bush presidency that often get overlooked.” It includes signature Bush-era legislation like No Child Left Behind Medicare Part D, plus smaller initiatives like the AIDS-in-Africa push and the “housing first” approach to homelessness, plus the emergency responses to the financial crash, plus some praise for Bush’s failed immigration push and his overridden farm bill veto. That’s almost his entire domestic policy!
First, whatever Yglesias says about No Child Left Behind and Medicare Part D (you can tell he's neither a parent nor retired) they were disasters. (And yes, I do know Teddy's sacred name was on the former.) Second,
 That’s almost his entire domestic policy!
I just about rest my case. Third,
True, the list doesn’t include the Bush tax cuts...
Now it's his entire domestic policy. I.e., he had virtually none except to bring the country to fiscal ruin. And to note that Democratic legislators have not been very eager to close the cuts in an attempt to spread the Plame, I mean blame, is pretty disingenuous even by the young Monsignor's standards:
but you may have noticed that the Democratic Party showed no enthusiasm for repealing them for anyone except the wealthy. 
The Bush tax cuts didn't especially benefit anybody except the wealthy.
I don’t really think there are a lot of serious Obama-era liberals ready to argue that, say, Bush’s deficits were actually the grave threat to the republic Bush-era liberals made them out to be...
No, they were much worse—Bush's deficits were what above all made it politically impossible to enact an adequate stimulus after the 2008 crash...

Friday, April 26, 2013

Call for Signatures

Via Echidne of the Snakes:
Beatriz wants to live. She's 22 years old and the mother of an infant, but the 18 week pregnancy she's carrying is killing her -- right now as you read this -- and the government of El Salvador has refused to permit an exception to their abortion ban to save her life.
The fetus Beatriz is carrying is anencephalic; it has no brain and won't survive birth even if her health allowed her to carry to full term. More to the point, Beatriz has lupus, worsened by a kidney malfunction, and it's very dangerous for her to be pregnant. But under El Salvador's abortion ban, both Beatriz and any medical staff involved in providing a therapeutic abortion would face criminal charges, carrying penalties as high as 50 years in jail for her and 12 years in jail for her doctors.
El Salvador's minister of health and the attorney general for human rights both support making an exception to the law for this case, but the supreme court is slow-walking it. There's a petition you can sign, here.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Agrupación Ciudadana por la despenalización del aborto Terapéutico, Ético y Eugénesico.  Via  Amnesty USA.

Cheap shots and expensive lifestyles

De Sacha Guitry à Diane Arnaud.
Please tell me David Petraeus with his visiting professor gig at the Macaulay Honors College, City University of New York, isn't burnishing his academic credentials for that presidential run (perhaps it could be a bipartisan Joint ticket with Anthony Wiener). Washington Post:
Petraeus has a doctorate from Princeton University and has written widely on international relations, military strategy and tactics and national security issues.

He says in a statement released by Macaulay he’s pleased to teach at the college, where most students are children of immigrants. He says he looks forward to leading a seminar on the global economic slowdown.
It would be cool to have one of those certified Serious people out there recommending a fiscal Surge on the Sunday morning shows, though I guess around five years [jump]

Got paranoia? The aha moment

Vaughn Bode's The Man (1972), via Matt Seneca.
Via BooMan, a bit of very strong noticing from Walter Katz at The Week involving Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his mysterious Armenian friend.
in 2008 or 2009, Tamerlan met Misha, a slightly older, heavyset bald man with a long reddish beard. [Tamerlan's ex-brother-in-law] Khozhugov didn't know where they'd met but believed they attended a Boston-area mosque together. Misha was an Armenian native and a convert to Islam and quickly began influencing his new friend, family members said.
Misha, apparently, was the Salafizing influence, who convinced him to give up music, go to mosque regularly, read the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and become a 9/11 truther, and who knows what else?

What occurred to Katz is that all the radical-Muslim conspiracies that our government has stopped since  2001 have had a Misha-like figure, a kind of teacher who explained [jump]

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Shays' Longue Rebellion

Army of Lawyers, from Saratoga in Decline.
Anne Laurie at Balloon Juice notes the startling views of cartoonist Ted Rall, who accepts the need for some gun regulation even as he proclaims himself to be (who knew?) a member of the Water the Tree of Liberty Second Amendment Club. He says, [jump]

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Got paranoia? Cui bono update

I don't so far see anybody outside Chechen nationalist propaganda organs (which can't by definition be believed, no matter how much you might favor one or another of them politically) sharing in my horrible feeling about the origins of the Boston bombing, with one exception: UK diplomat and human rights activist Craig Murray. Here, he outlines why Russian authorities might not be sorry to see Chechen terrorists attack the US:
Cui Bono? Putin. The alleged actions of the Tsarnaev brothers are a massive setback to the cause of Chechen nationalism. The Russian government have been trying for a decade to conflate the repression of Chechen nationalism with the western construct of “the global war on terror”, with very limited diplomatic success. Now expect to hear continually about “Al Qaeda in the Southern Caucasus” in the next few years. Events in Boston have been a massive diplomatic coup for Putin.
Thug-in-chief Ramzan Kadyrov, from Prague Watchdog. Chechens asked for self-government and Vladimir Vladimirovich gave them government by id.

Does distress make me look fat?

David Brooks writes:

I guess everybody has seen the Dove Real Beauty Sketches video five or six times by now, where the women undergo an experiment where they find out that in the eyes of other people they seem better looking than they actually are, if that's not oversimplifying.
I mean, not really an experiment in the sense of science, footnoted and peer-reviewed and so forth. In fact Gail and Frank and everybody up in New York is telling me that it's art, which is absurd. The guy doesn't even draw [jump]

Monday, April 22, 2013

Greetings, Earth Day

Just in time, the Times did something for Earth Day, and I heard about it from Gomez at Atrios:

Hipster fairy? Herbert, by Paulina Cassidy.

The Environmental Protection Agency again is raising objections to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline that would carry oil from western Canada to the Texas Gulf Coast. 
The EPA said that despite more than four years of study, the State Department still has not done sufficient analysis of the project's environmental impact.
Yes, it seems that what's been going on all this time with the Keystone is one of those Village turf wars: the EPA has the expertise to decide just how much of a disaster the pipeline is going to be, but State has the authority to make the decision—because it will cross the international border, apparently making it a Foreign Affair. And the EPA is raising its tiny, tinny, morally and scientifically authoritative voice. I want to believe it will make a difference, I want to believe it will make a difference, I want—clap your hands, children! This sometimes works!

The tale of little white Rambo

Update (error corrected, h/t Tim)
"Funny attractive Mr. Suicide bathtub plug".
Somebody dropped an annoying turd in the comments today, and here is the story.

Last May blogger Feministconservative, a PhD candidate in political science at an unnamed university, got her degree and then took a summer job at the university's admissions office.

I must say it doesn't look like a very substantial dissertation, and I wouldn't be too impressed with the school that gave her a degree for it, or too surprised if it [jump]

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Every good big does fine

Thomas P. Friedman, better known as Thomas L. Friedman, Mystax Miraculi (Mustache of Wonder), is a Liberal (i.e. a worshiper in the cult of Father Liber and his consort Libera whose feast the Romans celebrated on the future St. Patrick's Day and in similar fashion except without dyeing the beer; then again it did feature a very large phallus image held aloft through a street parade, garlanded at the end by a virtuous matron), and therefore attached to certain ideas that you and I do not necessarily oppose, in spite of the [jump]
Liber and Libera. Drawing by Georg Friedric Creuzer (1771-1858) cited in The Pictorial Language of Hieronymus Bosch by Clement A. Wertheim Aymes (via hub pages)

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Notes on Caucasians

Caucus race. By ArtSpark Theatre.
I have been somewhat amused by the discussion of their ethnicity. Before we knew that they were literally from the Caucuses, and therefore quintessentially caucasian, there was debate about whether they were white or not. 
The brothers are ethnic Chechens whose family moved around the war-torn Caucuses region when the boys were young.

Grassley inappropriate

The melting of the polar icecaps? Nah, that's not a problem.

Eighty-seven gun deaths every day? Please, it's not like the victims haven't been born yet...

No, when you want to talk about serious problems, how about the fact that some potential foreign terrorists might be getting disability payments, or earned income tax relief. Or maybe not. But that's the thing, isn't it, there's nothing in the law that says they can't, and those precious dollars, if they exist, could be used to buy gallons and gallons of ethanol:
“...How do we ensure that people who wish to do us harm are not eligible for benefits under the immigration laws, including this new bill before us?” (Raw Story)
Glad you got your priorities all worked out, Chuckles.
Senator Charles Grassley, in his stylish cash-register-tape cravat. (When my Aunt Emma got to be his age she was, similarly, given to putting paper napkins on her head at odd moments.) No, wait, it's an optical illusion; actually a briefing paper the hot-under-the-collar senator is using as a fan. AP photo.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Cheap shots and copycat things

Dylan Byers contemplating the Boston Marathon in Politico has a rare moment of self-knowledge (via TenGrain):
We’re standing on the verge of a very important national conversation about something, and we have no idea what it is.
It's that recurrent nightmare where you're about to go on Stephanopoulos and an assistant comes into the green room to tell you McCain can't make it and you look in the mirror and your hair is like totally weird...
Politico staff ID.

The latest news in humility

Saw this as a little boy, possibly with my grandmother.
I hope Brooks was wearing his helmet when he wrote today's column, because in attempting a rare triple troll somersault, he appears to have landed on his head.
Liberals are furious, but the gun issue will not significantly damage the Republican Party. Sure, it looks bad to oppose background checks, which have overwhelming popular support. Sure, the Republican position will further taint the party’s image in places like the suburbs of Philadelphia and Northern Virginia. Sure, the party looks extreme when it can’t accept a bill sponsored by the conservative Senator Joe Manchin and the very conservative Senator Pat Toomey.
But, let’s face it...
... if the insurgent right defeats immigration reform, that will be a sign that the party’s self-marginalization will continue. The revolution devours its own.
Siebrand Circus, early 1950s. From The Circus Blog.
Or, in Shorter form:
The good news is, nothing can damage the Republican party. The bad news is, that's because it's already FUBAR.

Got paranoia?

I'm about to do something really irresponsible, improper, and generally out of line. But unlike others who have been doing the same thing this week, I'm doing it against the stereotype blaming of an ethnic or religious group. Also it's my blog.
Georgia near the Chechen border. Photo by cinto2.
Remember the apartment house bombings in Buynaksk, Moscow, and Volgodonsk in September 1999, killing 293 people and injuring 651? The Russian authorities blamed it on Chechen separatists (though none of the alleged leaders of the plot were brought to trial), and this was one of the two major pretexts for the Second Chechen War.

Not everybody agreed with the hypothesis, though. Two famous writers, Aleksandr Litvinenko and Anna Politkovskaya, believed the bombings were a wag-the-dog operation carried out by the FSB (successor agency to the Soviet KGB), and Litvinenko [jump]

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Is conservatism a mental illness?

Mighty Typography, by Inde/AdventFont.
1. Edmund Burke on the sublime: God as terror
WHATEVER is fitted in any sort to excite the ideas of pain and danger, that is to say, whatever is in any sort terrible, or is conversant about terrible objects, or operates in a manner analogous to terror, is a source of the sublime; that is, it is productive of the strongest emotion which the mind is capable of feeling. I say the strongest emotion, because I am satisfied the ideas of pain are much more powerful than those which enter on the part of pleasure. Without all doubt, the torments which we may be made to suffer are much greater in their effect on the body and mind, than any pleasure which the most learned voluptuary could suggest, or than the liveliest imagination, and the most sound and exquisitely sensible body, could enjoy. (I/7) [jump]

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Fool report

Barack Obama in the Rose Garden after the failure of gun control legislation in the Senate:
I’m going to speak plainly and honestly about what’s happened here because the American people are trying to figure out how can something have 90 percent support and yet not happen. 
Hey, you know what? Maybe you could try speaking plainly and honestly all the time. Because there's all sorts of stuff the American people are trying to figure out. Or for that matter just for the hell of it. And you're good at it, too.

Court Fool.--Fac-simile of a Woodcut in the "Cosmographie Universelle" of Munster: folio (Basle, 1552). Image date: ca. 1874. From Eon Images.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Sunday morning getting down

Digby Village Hall, North Kerstevens, Lincolnshire.
Cokie Roberts came up with something. No, really, on a subject she is no doubt passionately interested in, that of who gets invited to Sunday morning talk shows, in the context of Marco Rubio's unprecedented feat yesterday of appearing on seven different programs, which has obviously set certain pulses racing: Chris Cilizza, of the Washington Post's The Fix (Is In) with a video mashup, Adam Clark Estes of The Atlantic Wire ("basically every Sunday morning talk show known to man") , and so on.

We-all on the Upper Left Side have our own ways of discussing the phenomenon, based on the well-respected though unproven hypothesis that the Sunday talk [jump]

Hey, guess what happened

to my neighborhood?
Callery pear on W. 69th St. by Bosc d'Anjou (a pear-fect pseudonym).
The white flowers of callery pear explode one day seemingly out of nowhere. Then, after a couple of weeks, a single sharp wind knocks them all down and shady summer begins.


Nothing I want to say about Boston. I hope everyone that is OK stays OK and everyone that is not OK will get better, or as much better as possible.
Photo by Bella Szandelszky/AP, via NPR.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Muscular moderation

Hold your guts up. Via Mind-Body Moderate.
David Brooks announces that
It’s time to entertain the possibility that President Obama is a right-wing extremist. 
"I say, Holmes, is that an unconventional thought seeping out of the Times?" "I believe so, Watson. A Friedmanity, to be precise, like 'the earth is flat'. It is intended to attract our attention." "Ah, clever bastards."
After all, look at where he’s taking the country over his second term.
"I say, is Obama taking the country somewhere?" "I don't believe they've given him the keys."

It's time to entertain the possibility that David Brooks is a Communist provocateur. I mean, look at what he's calling out Obama for in his current column.

We're living in a country whose government is unable to control its expenditures, as all the Wise Ones agree. Indeed, in some areas it's hard to say they're wrong. The federal, state, and local authorities spend over a trillion dollars a year (around $3000 [jump]

Don't that take the cake!

Pam Ferris as Miss Trunchbull in Danny DeVito's 1996 Matilda.

So police chief Mike Berkemeier of Laurelville, Ohio (a village of some 527 people in Hocking County) found a cake on his kitchen counter when he woke up on Easter morning. So he ate it. He did not ask his girlfriend where the cake came from, or his daughter, or anybody else including the most relevant person, the daughter's friend's boyfriend who seems to have served as the family's personal Easter bunny. [jump]

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Dream piece

Hey, I had a blogging dream. President Obama had floated a proposal to change the way lawyers are trained in the US—there would be an undergraduate law degree for people who wanted to practice some kind of basic law and then postgraduate work for specialists—and I was trying to write a blog post about it.

Obviously I was pretty glad to wake up and get out of that, you can imagine what a tedious post it was going to be, but I forced myself to remember it, all day, so I could note the event here. I don't know that I've ever had a less interesting dream. I don't even know if there is any actual subject matter there, but if there is I don't care whether I ever learn about it. Why are brains so weird?

My Father, by Phy La (Cyprus)

Friday, April 12, 2013

Cheap shots: Swat edition

How you can tell the permanent presidential campaign really is in pause mode in spite of the commentariat: when its gumshoe department as represented by Adam Nagourney of the New York Times (famed for his hard-hitting work on Cap'n McCain) is reduced to writing epic screeds on the latest plague to afflict Hollywood, "swatting", in which pranksters call LA's police to report ghastly crimes being committed at the homes of celebrities of the Russell Brand caliber, so as to bring down a SWAT team.
The Los Angeles Police Department sent officers racing up the narrow twists and turns of North Doheny Drive leading to the Brand home. There, guns drawn in a cul-de-sac, they found only a shocked and frightened housekeeper taking out the garbage. Mr. Brand had left 30 minutes earlier.
Ooh, Mr. Nagourney, your paragraphs are so—taut!
Chinese swat team, by 9one.
Of course there is a campaign going on in New York City, but all the candidates to date seemed doomed to be politicians instead of reality-show contestants, in spite [jump]

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Please, Mr. Speaker, don't throw me into that chained CPI!

The Booman has now explained it all for us as to how the Social Security cuts are going to be OK, as I expected they would be (remember this olden Goldie?) and I suggest you read it right now rather than wait around for me to try to understand it clearly enough to explain it again.

There is certainly something very wrong with the idea of chaining the Consumer Price Index to the idea of inflation by product substitution turned upside down, if that's [jump]

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


Just noticed this in a letter to the editor from last week's New Yorker:

Swartz was apparently familiar with laws protecting proprietary-information-management systems, so he should not have been surprised by the severity of the prosecution’s response to his crime. It is a crime, and not a victimless one. I am a retired journalist; during my working years, my salary depended, and today my pension relies, on people paying for copyrighted content. In recent years, as the business that supports journalism has declined, thousands of journalists have lost pay, benefits, and, ultimately, their jobs. Some people may consider illegally downloading content from the “1942 edition of the Journal of Botany” to be benign, but downloading periodicals such as the New York Times—or The New Yorker, for that matter—without paying for them would harm the people who worked for those publications in the past and who write for them today. 
The ignorant cruelty of that is up there with Byron's savage dismissal of Keats's death—
'Tis strange the mind, that very fiery particle,
Should let itself be snuff'd out by an article.
 —which I'm sure he would have regretted if he had understood what he was talking about. In particular the writer does not seem to know, and Larissa Macfarquhar's [jump]

Let them study cake

WIBV TV Buffalo:
BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - Roswell Park Cancer Institute is expected to be hit hard by government spending cuts.
The world-renowned hospital is expected to lose $6 million in research funding because of the sequester. Officials predict the loss of money could lead to reduced treatment time and job cuts.
Lab retirement cake from Cake Central.
South Florida Sun-Sentinel:
With hopes of finding out why older people get diseases like osteoporosis, dementia and arthritis, scientist Laura Niedernhofer came to Scripps Florida in Jupiter last year to do research on aging and degenerative diseases. "There's some underlying change. That's why older people are vulnerable," she said. [jump]

Justice delayed is justice derided

Via Hindustan Times.
New York Post:

A New York judge yesterday blasted federal “sequestration” cuts, calling it “stunning” that they could force him to delay the start of a terrorism trial for Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law. 
Manhattan federal Judge Lewis Kaplan appeared flabbergasted when a defense lawyer for Sulaiman Abu Ghaith said mandatory work furloughs would make it “very difficult to be ready” for trial by September. 
Kaplan began calling the situation “ironic” before noting that was “not exactly the right word.”
Republicans say you can't put a terrorist on civilian trial in New York City, it's too dangerous. Administration says you can too, and does it, repeatedly, with success, but that doesn't stop the Republicans. Finally, five years later, a terrorist trial is in trouble. Why? Republican budget terrorism! Hey, Judge, you may be able to use "ironic" after all!

Airborne Elephant Watch: En route with the Secretary

Elephants fly away on love, from Etsy.
The "Islamist" Egyptian president didn't, as it turned out, throw any comedians into prison for the crime of insulting him (what's known in Shariah as lèse-majesté—oh, excuse me, I guess that's what you call it in Catholic; turns out Prophet Muhammad didn't [jump]

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The tissue samples are next to the Hot Pockets

Rebecca Riggins, an assistant professor of oncology at Georgetown University, was about to stick a FedEx shipping label onto a package containing about two dozen samples of human breast tumors for analysis when the phone rang. Her team was in the process of investigating why certain types of breast cancer respond well to the common hormone therapy Tamoxifen while others fare poorly. The tumor analysis was a critical part of the project. 
The Feb. 25 phone call was from her colleague, the study's principal investigator. Program officials at the National Institutes of Health had just told him to expect at least a 50 percent reduction in funding to their research. It was part of the sequestration cuts to the federal budget, which include 5.1 percent cuts across the board to non-defense agencies. 
She had no choice but to put the mailing on hold and move the samples to the freezer, where they remain today. 
Riggins' team can no longer afford to continue some of their more expensive experiments, like the tumor analyses. And they're scaling back their smaller experiments involving breast cancer cells grown in the lab and mouse model studies.
I swear I do not hope Senator Portman's son gets breast cancer. But it would be nice if something got their attention.

Volare? Uh, no.

The Navy grounded the Blue Angels on Tuesday, canceling all shows for the remainder of 2013 due to cutbacks mandated under sequestration, NBC News reported. (via TPM)
Talk to me, Goose.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Call any vegetable! Call it by name!

This month chances are it may not respond to you, as communications are down. Sequester!
Le bonne fleur. (Ugh! USDA French proofreaders must have been furloughed too, that should be La bonne fleur.)
The industry will not escape unscathed from mandated sequester cuts in the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other federal agencies.
The USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service said in mid-March it is suspending several reports for the balance of the fiscal year because of budget cuts caused by sequestration. Of those important to the industry, the USDA said it did not plan to issue the potato stocks report and those for all non-citrus fruit, nut and vegetable forecasts and estimates.
The list of suspended fruit crop estimates includes the closely watched first estimate of the 2013 apple crop, released in August.
What’s more, export promotion funds in the Market Access Program for U.S. fresh produce exports were cut by 10% by the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service.
Of course, this says nothing of expected cutbacks in border service by the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol in coming weeks.
The by-now familiar sequestration cuts were put in motion during the 2011 debt ceiling negotiations, as a plan to motivate lawmakers to stop disagreements over the federal budget from being kicked down the road indefinitely.
It hasn’t worked, of course, but that is no reason to hold U.S. agriculture hostage to Washington’s dysfunction. (The Packer)

Not to bury Thatcher

Nor to praise her either (RIP!!), but just to call attention to some language abuse.

NPR's London correspondent Philip Reeves on the late baroness (not yet online):
But they keep quoting her doing it—"The lady's not for turning."
  • Keeps saying that while some saw her as an icon of British conservatism, of a status like Churchill's, others saw her as a destroyer of trade unions and divider of rich from poor: this is not two different opinions but one opinion expressed from two different directions
  • Keeps calling her "Britain's first female prime minister" as if we aren't sure whether there have been any more of them (finally at 8:30 a female news reader adds, "and so far only")
  • Keeps referring to her as a "statesman"—should it be stateswoman? statesperson?
BBC showed an NPR-like centripetality in going for its commentary on Thatcher's death from the "left" to Lord (formerly Dr.) David Owen, possibly the only Briton to have done more to destroy socialism in the UK than Thatcher herself.

From CNN via Raw Story. Not meant to suggest that the baroness was a child rapist, but that is Sir Jimmy Savile (OBE KCSG) with her, and it looks as if they had a good deal in common, starting with a hairdresser. 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Leave no child unpunished

This is an old one already, via ThinkProgress: Republicans in the Tennessee state legislature are proposing to cut welfare checks by 30% for families whose kids are deemed to be making insufficient progress in school.
When [Sen. Stacey] Campfield introduced the legislation in January, he said parents have “gotten away with doing absolutely nothing to help their children” in school. “That’s child abuse to me,” he added. Tennessee already ties welfare to education by mandating a 20 percent cut in benefits if students do not meet attendance standards, but this change would place the burden of maintaining benefits squarely on children, who would face costing their family much-needed assistance if they don’t keep up in school.
I guess there are a number of things that might be called child abuse. But obviously only one way to respond: make sure that child gets less to eat.
Stacey Campfield, from Queerty.
Senator Campfield (R-Knox County) is the one who introduced the "Don't Say Gay" bill in the Tennessee legislature forbidding mentions of non-Levitical sexual acts in Tennessee schools (K-8), later modified into the "Tell the Parents" bill which requires teachers and counselors to inform the parents of any child who thinks he or she might be gay. No suggestion, as far as I know, of docking welfare payments to families with gay children.

Senator Campfield has a deep and abiding interest in non-Levitical intercourse, which he believes is the cause of HIV and AIDS:
In a January 2012 interview with Michelangelo Signorile, he stated "most people realize that AIDS came from the homosexual community – it was one guy screwing a monkey, if I recall correctly, and then having sex with men. It was an airline pilot, if I recall.... My understanding is that it is virtually – not completely, but virtually – impossible to contract AIDS through heterosexual sex...very rarely [transmitted]." He later quoted the odds of heterosexual vaginal transmission at 1 in 5 million. (Wikipedia)
Another of his bills, introduced back in 2007,
would require death certificates for aborted fetuses, which would be likely to create public records identifying women who have abortions....  “At least we would see how many lives are being ended out there by abortions,” Mr. Campfield said. The number of abortions reported to the state Office of Vital Records is already publicly available. (New York Times)
He is perhaps best summed up in the words of his pal Senator Mark Green (chaplain of the Republican senatorial caucus):

Oops, that's from Campfield's blog! Now I'm in for it:
Any unapproved quotation from this blog in any part shall be seen as admission by the user to its value as a commercial product and shall be billed at the rate of $1,000.00 per word or the highest rate allowed by law for the complete artice plus any and all legal expenses to collect this amount. 

Government didn't build that.

In fact nobody did. I wonder where all those job creators were.
The Department of Homeland Security campus might have gotten built by 2021 under last year's projections;  maybe we should get the volunteer organizations together and make the homeland a quilt.
Engineering News-Record via Glass Magazine:
The Associated General Contractors of America released a 24-page sequestration report in February, providing a closer look at the construction segments that would feel the budget reductions the most. While several government construction arenas are exempt— the Highway Trust Fund, the Airport Improvement Program, Department of Veterans Affairs accounts, and General Services Administration accounts—the impact of the cuts on other parts of governmental construction spending could be severe, and could cause a ripple effect of slowed spending throughout the economy, according to the report. The sequestration cuts to construction for this fiscal year “could put some 114,000 jobs, $13.6 billion in GDP and $4.4 billion in personal income at risk,” according to the report. 

Not killing anybody yet

Your waiting room will be with you in a moment, sir.
CBS News:

For Tom McCloskey, a painful change is coming to an already difficult routine. For nine years he's been a chemotherapy patient at North Shore Hematology Oncology. But now, he'll have to be treated at a hospital instead.
"It's scary. I know how they treat me here and I know how they get treated in the hospital," McCloskey told WCBS-TV.
He's one of thousands of senior citizens with cancer being told by clinics to get their treatment elsewhere. At North Shore Hematology Oncology alone, 5,000 patients have been told they can no longer be treated. Patients blame lawmakers.
"Every one of them should be fired," said McCloskey.
They're victims of sequester cuts from the bitter federal budget fight. Across-the-board cuts went into effect March 1. Medicare saw only 2 percent cut, but when it comes to expensive chemo drugs, that is still big bucks.

Tangs for the memories

Statue of Chen Zi'ang in Datang Furong Gardens, Xi'an.
Chen Zi'ang was relatively old when he came to Chang'an to take the imperial examinations toward the end of the 7th century, already 24; he was wealthy, and perhaps on that account not so anxious to start on his career as civil servant. But he was eager to start his career as a poet.

However he was unable to attract any attention from connoisseurs until one day in a market when he saw a man selling a "barbarian" string instrument—possibly a xiqin, the two-string fiddle played with a bamboo stick for a bow, made by the Kumo Xi people of what is now Manchuria, which was the first bowed instrument ever played at the imperial court and the earliest ancestor of the modern erhu. At any rate it was a rare and advanced instrument with a high price and nobody wanted to buy it, and Chen may have identified with its plight; he "looked left and right" and bought the thing for a thousand strings of cash. "I'm good at this," he said.

That got people interested: "Ooh, can we hear?" "Come to my place tomorrow," said Chen.

When they arrived the next day, Chen had laid out a feast, with the foreign instrument in a place of honor, and after they had eaten and drunk, he took the fiddle in his hands and addressed them all: "I am Chen Zi'ang from Shu state, I have read a lot of books and come to the capital and written my things in obscurity, a mediocrity, like dust. This instrument is merely for entertainers to earn their living, why should anyone pay attention to that?" After which he smashed the fiddle on the ground, and then distributed copies of his poems to the assembled crowd. From that day onwards his reputation began to spread through the Tang capital.

He eventually became a minister in the court of China's only female emperor, Wu Zetian, and was drawn into court intrigues that brought him to prison and and early death, in 705. In poetry he is remembered as the most important pioneer of the characteristic Tang dynasty style, which took inspiration from the folklike manner of China's most archaic poetry to create its own spare modernism. He is represented in the anthology 300 Tang Poems by the quatrain Deng Youzhou tai ge (Song on climbing a Youzhou gate-tower). This poem was written in 696, when Chen was serving as a civilian advisor in General Wang Xiaojie's campaign against a rebellion of Khitan people in China's far northeast, and suffering bitterly from Wang's inability to follow his advice. Youzhou was the first city built around the site of modern Beijing, in those days a frontier outpost, and one may imagine the gate-tower being one of those gatehouses in the Great Wall to which tourists in Beijing are always taken, though artists have seen it entirely differently (see below). This is my translation:
In the fore, in the past, no old ones show themselves,
behind, in the afterwards, no new generation arrives;

one studies heaven and earth, endlessly, endlessly, and
being alone is sad, and yet tears fall.
The traditional image of the poet on the gate-tower.
The Chinese text, in simplified characters, is as follows:


前不见古人, 后不见来者;
念天地之悠悠, 独怆然而涕下。 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Who could have suspected?

Dave Morris's Frankenstein app, via The Guardian.
Mr. Bill Gates in the Washington Post!!!
Efforts are being made to define effective teaching and give teachers the support they need to be as effective as possible. But as states and districts rush to implement new teacher development and evaluation systems, there is a risk they’ll use hastily contrived, unproven measures. One glaring example is the rush to develop new assessments in grades and subjects not currently covered by state tests. Some states and districts are talking about developing tests for all subjects, including choir and gym, just so they have something to measure.

In one Midwestern state, for example, a 166-page Physical Education Evaluation Instrument holds teachers accountable for ensuring that students meet state-defined targets for physical education, such as consistently demonstrating “correct skipping technique with a smooth and effortless rhythm” and “strike consistently a ball with a paddle to a target area with accuracy and good technique.” I’m not making this up!

This is one reason there is a backlash against standardized tests — in particular, using student test scores as the primary basis for making decisions about firing, promoting and compensating teachers. I’m all for accountability, but I understand teachers’ concerns and frustrations.
Well, I have to say this makes me feel a lot better, about humanity in general and about Barack Obama in particular. Neither Obama nor Gates is a vile union-hating blood-sucking thug with a secret plan to turn America's public-school children into soulless factory robots. Au contraire! If their ideas about educational reform (not to be confused with rephorm) could be implemented, it might well be an on-the-whole okay thing.

But will somebody kindly tell me how the blessed fuck such smart guys have managed to be so blindingly stupid? Will you please explain to me how they have gotten themselves associated with plans that are clearly designed to turn America's public-school children into soulless factory robots? Can you give me one good reason why they should be working with fools, liars, and incompetents like Arne Duncan, Michelle Rhee, and Thomas P. Friedman (better known as Thomas L. Friedman, the Schnurrbart des Ewig-Daseins), while ignoring Diane Ravitch as a Dirty Fucking Hippy? Just asking.
From Charfade at DeviantArt.
In other news, Dr. Victor Frankenstein published an op-ed piece in the Geneva Villager:
Horace-Bénédict de Saussure may be the best mountain climber in town, but you'd hardly guess that from watching him tooling his way up Mont Blanc: he seems totally distracted, stopping every two or three minutes to examine a bug or a striation in the rock. If you were scouting for mountain climbers, he'd be your last choice, alongside Ferdinand the Bull. But you'd be making a mistake.

Just as today's sports coaches have recognized that supreme athletic ability is a highly complex phenomenon and developed whole batteries of tests to help them identify promising young talents, so have biologists in nearby Germany come to understand the complexity of life itself—pretty deft segue, huh?—, and learned how to take a Raggedy Ann or Andy of scavenged corpse parts and literally reanimate it through the miracle of electromagnetism, turning it into a living, breathing Creature, capable of reason, passion, and reverence for its Creator (that would be yours truly).

But you can't just turn such a thing on and then duck out the lab window and take off for Geneva, marry your fiancée, and forget the whole thing. A Creature is a big responsibility, capable of great goodness and great harm. You have to take care of it in a holistic way, feeding and clothing it, showing it affection, cultivating its strength and grace as well as its intellect, artistic sensibilities, and emotions. You have to—Aargh, I hear its fiendish footsteps! Tell Elisabeth I may be late for dinner!