September 30, 2014
Alright, villains. Here is your next picture to snarkify.
Have at it.
And may the Farce be with you.
When Empathy Leads to Scapegoating
A study points out that empathy can make those who feel it more willing to hurt third parties who have done nothing wrong:
A paper just published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin provides evidence that feelings of empathy toward a distressed person can inspire aggressive behavior. For some people, at least, feeling another’s pain is insufficient: You also experience the urge to harm the person they are in conflict or competition with.
University at Buffalo psychologists Anneke Buffone and Michael Poulin found empathy can provoke such behavior even absent “traditional predictors of aggression” such as feeling threatened, or a tendency to act impulsively.
Participants were, to a surprising degree, willing to inflict pain on a second person to help a distressed individual they felt empathy for.
What’s more, it can be activated even “in the absence of wrongdoing or provocation from the target of aggression.” That party doesn’t have to be doing anything wrong; he or she simply has to pose a problem for the person you empathize with.
Kind of puts a whole new spin on the "us vs. them" rhetoric of the income inequality debate, doesn't it?
... participants were, to a surprising degree, willing to inflict pain on a second person to help a distressed individual they felt empathy for. This occurred in spite of the fact that (a) both were total strangers, and (b) the second person had done absolutely nothing wrong.
The results should put a damper on what the researchers call “recent enthusiasm for interventions that involve administering caregiving-related neurohormones or empathy training.”
“Just as the self-esteem movement was not a panacea leading to happy, successful, and well-adapted children,” the researchers write, “oxytocin and/or empathy interventions may not stop problems such as bullying and other forms of aggression and violence, because aggression itself may result from empathy.”
There's a reason justice is traditionally depicted wearing a blindfold.
First up, what kind of blog princess would we be if we selfishly refused to share the hate?
Whilst we heartily agree that the Cards suck, we have two questions:
1. Where are the Yankees, Red Sox, and Braves?
2. No rating for the Most Annoying Mascot? Seriously???
Finally, we have to say we enjoyed football more when there were more running plays:
September 29, 2014
Let The Judgement Begin
I have to say, villains, you did well keeping the commentary at least PG rated. I'm sure the Blog Princess appreciated that after seeing what the Dark Side had to offer this week for snarktillery. heh I like jolting her like that every once in a while. Keeps her on her toes, yanno. If only to get the picture off the top of the page.
But, enough with pickin' on the boss, though, she might take away my ration of beer, and those damn itinerant eskimos keep finding and stealing my stash. So, it's time to get down to old business and the Judgement. And because
I can it's tradition to give a small reminder of the last pic...(and shirley not because I'm taking advantage of the convenient opportunity to put the pic back on the top of the page...because, I'd never do that.)
And we're off like a prom dress!
Kicking off the top ten this week is frequent flyer, his Illudium Q36 Explosive Space Modulator Captionator firmly in hand, dropping the first of many bombs in a vain attempt to stuff the ballot box, "Doctor, I may have to give up gymnastics. Whenever I do a forward somersault, my breasts hurt."
Next up, at number nine, is Capt Mongo's date-night make-up tips, Maybellines new makeup line--guaranteed to get men to look you in the eyes while having those meaningful discussions.
htom enters the top ten at eight with a product review, A rash of repetitive motion medical complains from men threaten the new product; they are having both neck strain and eye muscle strain injuries from the new device.
Seizing the seventh spot this week is frank Karl for Sheila, refused to comment further than, “I’m sorry I rejected that Shaman’s advances, but it does get me a seat in restaurant in Hollywood.”
And rounding out the first half is frequent flyer zipping blindly back through with more ballot bombs for the box, "WOW! Would you look at the 'HEADlights' on THAT GIRL!"
Leading us blindly into the top five is the ocularly-challenged frequent flyer turned weatherman for Melissa had the uncanny ability to tell just how cold it was outside by standing still outside and staring straight ahead. "HMMM--looks like 5 below...."
While YAG puts his finger on a conundrum, Cheryl always wondered why guys tended to ask her only Yes/No questions until she realized she almost never answered them verbally.
Five O'Clock Charlie...um, frequent flyer, swoops in for the final time and grabs the brass ring on his way to Harry's Hangar Hide-Out and drops his final ballot bomb, "This is NOT what I wanted when I told you I wanted a BREAST LIFT, Dr. Ramirez!"
Stealing the silver ring, and entitling himself to another portion of beets, is afe for (exasperated sigh) My eyes are DOWN HERE!
And, grabbing the gold with this Match Game-worthy diffinitive answer, is MJL with Shhh, we're hunting men!
The Incredulity Is Not Us awards go to...
Where do you find these pictures?
Posted by: Grim
Suddenly, mascara seems..... superfluous.
Posted by: Cass
Have you noticed that her left breast sags a bit more than the right?
Have you noticed that her left eye doesn't track with the right?
You HAVEN'T??? ME EITHER!!!
Posted by: frequent flyer
Well, that's it for this week, villains. Congrats to the winners, and thanks everyone for playing.
As per usual, a new pic will be up soon-ish.
Who Says the Economy's Not Growing!
Well, at least the part that's subsidized by your hard earned tax dollars:
645,000 Maryland residents had so-called Obamaphones in 2012 — one hundred times as many people as there were in 2009, and double the number in that state who are supposed to be eligible for the program based on their income.
The program, officially called Lifeline, is run by the Federal Communications Commission and imposes hefty fees on every paying phone company to give free phone service to low-income Americans.
The profits to telecom companies from the free, government-provided phone service are so great that in Nebraska alone, 51 corporations, many of them who are not even traditional phone companies building infrastructure and attracting paying subscribers, fought for a piece of the pie.
That structure allows advocates to argue that it’s not a tax and doesn’t affect the budget, and lessens the extent to which the FCC is beholden to Congress.
Officials admitted Maryland's 10,000 percent increase over three years in a little-noticed hearing before the House's Subcommittee on Communications and Technology in April last year.
"By the third quarter of 2012, the number of Lifeline subscribers in Maryland had risen almost 100 fold to 645,000" compared to three years prior, industry consultant Billy Jack Gregg told Congress.
"Moreover, the current number of Lifeline subscribers in Maryland is almost double the number of low income households in the state" who are eligible.
The FCC says it has since instituted some reforms to put a damper on fraud. Until recently, applicants could self-certify their eligibility, and the FCC found millions of dollars of abuse when it finally checked.
But it only sent letters saying “don’t do it again, or you might be fined” to people who lied on their forms to obtain multiple phones or obtain them even though they had high incomes, it said at the hearing.
And it used the money recovered not to shrink program costs or refund fee-payers, but as free bonus funds that were reinvested to provide free Internet for the poor, with no authorization from Congress.
And then there's this delightful nugget. How do you solve the problem of students borrowing more in federally subsidized student loans than they can afford to pay back? If you guessed, "Shift the cost to taxpayers, and pay no attention to that whole perverse incentive thingie", a stuffed marmoset is on its way to you by parcel post:
Last week we told you about the $20 billion annual rise in Department of Education outlays, due to an increase in student-loan borrowers using income-based repayment programs. Today the Journal reports the disturbing details for taxpayers.
"Enrollment in the plans has surged, thanks in part to a continuing administration publicity campaign. As of June, the number had swelled to 1.91 million Americans holding more than $101 billion in student loans—nearly a 10th of all outstanding federal student debt. The number of borrowers and debt covered roughly has doubled in the past year," reports the Journal.
These plans allow borrowers to reduce monthly payments to just 10% of discretionary income. The loans can then be forgiven after ten years if borrowers work in government or for a non-profit—basically any job as long as it doesn't involve a profit-seeking business.
...So the government is spending taxpayer dollars to encourage young people to avoid repaying loans to taxpayers, while at the same time encouraging these young people to work for outfits that don't pay taxes.
We were told that, come the Revolution, there would be no math.
Once More Under the Bus, Dear Friends!
Once more under the bus, dear friends, once more;
Lest blame descend upon thy sovereign's head.
In peace there's nothing so becomes a Prez
As boastful taunts and sharp-edged mockery:
But when reality rears its ugly head,
Then imitate the action of the ostrich!
Bury thy face, claim troubles to be inherited,
Obscure past inattention with sur-prised rage;
Then lift the chin with distainful sulk;
Let blameshifting fly from the imperial maw
Like the Nerf cannon; lower thy displeased brow
At fearful minions and questioners of authority alike
O'erwhelming the confused base with ever-shifting statements.
On, on, you noblest Scribblers.
Whose purpose lies in shielding us from reproof!
On “60 Minutes,” the president faulted his spies for failing to predict the rise of ISIS. There’s one problem with that statement: The intelligence analysts did warn about the group.
Nearly eight months ago, some of President Obama’s senior intelligence officials were already warning that ISIS was on the move. In the beginning of 2014, ISIS fighters had defeated Iraqi forces in Fallujah, leading much of the U.S. intelligence community to assess they would try to take more of Iraq.
But in an interview that aired Sunday evening, the president told 60 Minutes that the rise of the group now proclaiming itself a caliphate in territory between Syria and Iraq caught the U.S. intelligence community off guard. Obama specifically blamed James Clapper, the current director of national intelligence: “Our head of the intelligence community, Jim Clapper, has acknowledged that, I think, they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria,” he said.
Reached by The Daily Beast after Obama’s interview aired, one former senior Pentagon official who worked closely on the threat posed by Sunni jihadists in Syria and Iraq was flabbergasted. “Either the president doesn’t read the intelligence he’s getting or he’s bullshitting,” the former official said.
Clapper did tell The Washington Post’s David Ignatius this month that he underestimated the will of the ISIS fighters in Iraq and overestimated the ability of Iraq’s security forces in northern Iraq to counter ISIS. (He also said his analysts warned about the “prowess and capability” of the group.)
Still, other senior intelligence officials have been warning about ISIS for months. In prepared testimony before the annual House and Senate intelligence committees’ threat hearings in January and February, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the recently departed director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said the group would likely make a grab for land before the end of the year. ISIS “probably will attempt to take territory in Iraq and Syria to exhibit its strength in 2014.” Of course, the prediction wasn’t exactly hard to make. By then, Flynn noted, ISIS had taken the cities of Ramadi and Fallujah, and the demonstrated an “ability to concurrently maintain multiple safe havens in Syria.”
The ability of ISIS to hold that territory will depend on its “resources, local support, as well as the responses of [Iraqi security forces] and other opposition groups in Syria,” Flynn added. He noted that while many Sunnis likely opposed ISIS, “some Sunni tribes and insurgent groups appear willing to work tactically with [ISIS] as they share common anti-government goals.”
Flynn was not alone. Clapper himself in that hearing warned that the three most effective jihadist groups in Syria—one of which he said was ISIS—presented a threat as a magnet for attracting foreign fighters. John Brennan, Obama’s CIA director, said he thought both ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, al Qaeda’s formal franchise in Syria, presented a threat to launch external operations against the West.
You knuckledraggers remember Mike Flynn, don't you?
The terrorist ideology behind al Qaeda is expanding significantly—contrary to President Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign theme that declared the Islamist terror threat in decline, according to the outgoing director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.
“It’s not on the run, and that ideology is actually, it’s sadly, it feels like it’s exponentially growing,” DIA Director Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn said during a security conference Saturday.
Flynn was asked about the controversy over Obama’s statements during his 2012 reelection bid that al Qaeda had been “decimated” by the U.S. war on terrorism, and that the group was “on the run” as a result.
Flynn challenged use of the term “core al Qaeda” to identify the group once led by Osama bin Laden and now headed by his deputy, Ayman al Zawahiri.
“My belief—so this is Mike Flynn—core al Qaeda is the ideology,” he said.
The list of people who have warned of the consequences of announcing withdrawal dates and pulling out of Iraq prematurely goes on and on and on. And yet somehow, we're always caught napping.
Why The Long Face???
And don't pretend you people don't do things like this all the time.
When I'm in the pony gear, I feel freer,' she explains. 'It's about who you are, it's about expressing yourself. I become me.'
...'There's something about the way she must feel in her pony finery with her mane and her tail and her ears and her beautiful bridle, the whole nine yards, that liberates her and gives her a more fabulous field in which to gallop.'
And Leanne certainly isn't shy about getting out and about in her pony ensemble, despite the full look including a rather revealing rubber jumpsuit.
From a trip to the shops, a gallop around the yard or even a day out at the races, nowhere is off limits for Leanne's pony persona.
Ah well, as long as everyone involved has signed a consent form in triplicate, who are we to quibble with alternative lifestyles?
September 26, 2014
This is Awesome
CWCID: a co-worker, via this site :)
Things That Terrify Us
In an article published in the September issue of BioEssays, scientists Joe Alcock, Carlo C. Maley, and C. Athena Aktipis reviewed the research on how microbiota affect the brain, and believe there's a strong case that bacteria influence overall eating behavior. It seems that the bacteria in our guts don't simply wait for whatever leftovers we have to offer. They actively seek out their preferred meals through tricksy deception.
“Microbes have the capacity to manipulate behavior and mood through altering the neural signals in the vagus nerve, changing taste receptors, producing toxins to make us feel bad, and releasing chemical rewards to make us feel good,” Aktipis says.
Around 100 million neurons are stationed in the gut, collectively forming the enteric nervous system, also called the "Second Brain." The enteric nervous system is connected to the human brain via the vagus nerve. Thanks to this setup, bacteria are granted streamlined pass to the brain, and they're equipped to take advantage. For example, microbes have genes that allow them to produce hormones like serotonin and dopamine.
Studies in humans have shown that probiotics can improve mood. In mice, the affects are even more pronounced. When a team transplanted the gut bacteria from fearless mice into more anxious mice, the anxious mice began displaying markedly bolder behavior. The behavioral change worked in reverse, too.
"Like microscopic puppetmasters, microbes may control the eating behavior of hosts through a number of potential mechanisms including microbial manipulation of reward pathways, production of toxins that alter mood, changes to receptors including taste receptors, and hijacking of neurotransmission," the researchers write.
Basically, bacteria will send positive signals to the brain when you eat foods that they like, and negative signals when you eat foods they don't like.
They haf vays of makink you pig out on purloined Heath bars.
September 24, 2014
On Grading, A Sensible Compromise
For many moons, the Editorial Staff have labored mightily to point out the many and diverse bad arguments put forward by the WARONBOYS!@!!ELEVENTY!!! crowd. First, there was the "But.... but... we musn't expect boys to work hard in school because it's so.... BORING!" meme:
Note to parents: the world, whether it manifests itself as a prospective employer, a boss, a professor, or a spouse, is under no obligation to rearrange itself to keep your child amused and entertained.
Our own job contains many tedious and even unpleasant tasks, and the notion that one needn't complete assignments unless they are designed to be personally fascinating (or worse, that we need only do things we "see the point of") is about as good a recipe for a lifetime of chronic unemployment and failure as we can imagine.
Adults are - or ought to be - capable of drawing the line between spineless obedience and entitled narcissism. What gets most of us to the point where we're able to make such choices wisely is a lot of experience (much of which involves having our own stupidity and lack of foresight pointed out to us by older and wiser humans).
Children, on the otter heiny, rarely have the wisdom or experience to see the point of most things adults ask them to do. If they did, kids would be running the world and adults would be going to their 10 year olds for pocket money.
As bad arguments go, this one is particularly destructive. It's right up there with the equally preposterous notion - sadly prevalent when we were just a rosy-cheeked little Editorial Staff - that girls won't read unless they are fed a special diet of Things Girls Like to Read. It must be nice to live in a fantasy world where people seriously believe the world exists to make them feel important and valued, employers will cater to their every whim, and workers will only have to perform tasks that amuse and entertain them.
Then there was the chorus of folks who clamored that boys were doing worse in school over time. This is true only if you magically change the definition of "worse" to make improvements over time look like something bad:
1. More young men (both in absolute numbers, and as a proportion of all men) going to college than before.
2. Half as many boys dropping out of high school.
3. Boys/men are getting better grades than they used to.
4. Math SAT scores for boys have risen over time.
The debate got so silly that people were seriously suggesting that boys - apparently because "fairness" demands that we lower expectations for anyone carrying a Y chromosome - should not be expected to show up for exams or meet deadlines because they are special snowflakes whose every whim must be catered to by the educational establishment:
The solution:Woodward supports the contention that grades should not be based on behavior unrelated to learning and knowledge.
Grades should not be based upon attendance, punctuality, or behavior in class.
Grades should not be used to reward or to punish students. The purpose of the grade is to represent what students have learned.
Homework completion should not be a part of the grade. For many reasons homework completion is not an indicator of what was learned.
Based on this seminal (pun fully intended) research, the Editorial Staff have decided to eliminate all deadlines from the workplace... but only for male co-workers, who cannot be expected to follow rules, complete assignments on time, or - apparently - even be at work during normal working hours. The poor dears - one must make allowances...
All of these arguments had previously been put forward by feminists looking to redress gender-related disparities in educational outcomes. They were bad arguments then, and they're still bad arguments when the opposing side uses them. We on the right should know, having dismissed them as worthless just a few years ago.
So imagine our delight to see (finally!) a sensible suggestion that (we think) would help both boys and girls become better students and more well rounded adults:
Teachers realized that a sizable chunk of kids who aced tests trundled along each year getting C’s, D’s, and F’s. At the same time, about 10 percent of the students who consistently obtained A’s and B’s did poorly on important tests. Grading policies were revamped and school officials smartly decided to furnish kids with two separate grades each semester. One grade was given for good work habits and citizenship, which they called a “life skills grade.” A “knowledge grade” was given based on average scores across important tests. Tests could be retaken at any point in the semester, provided a student was up to date on homework.
Here's why the Editorial Staff like this suggestion.
The purpose of grading is to provide information about a student's level of performance, subject matter mastery, and preparedness to move to the next level. Having tutored college algebra, stats, and calculus in college, we often saw students who had passed tests at the previous level - but who had not mastered the material, nor the skills needed for more advanced math - fail Calculus. As a wee lass (and up until her 30s) the Editorial Staff were - in matters academic, at least - far more like a boy than a girl. Put simply, we aced tests (often getting the highest grade in the class on exams) and were terrible about doing homework or turning in what we considered to be "boring" or "pointless" assignments.
A student like that may have memorized the material, but he or she has serious deficits in the skills study after study has found are crucial to long term success:
What Drs. Seligman and Duckworth label “self-discipline,” other researchers name “conscientiousness.” Or, a predisposition to plan ahead, set goals, and persist in the face of frustrations and setbacks. Conscientiousness is uniformly considered by social scientists to be an inborn personality trait that is not evenly distributed across all humans. In fact, a host of cross-cultural studies show that females tend to be more conscientious than males. One such study by Lindsay Reddington out of Columbia University even found that female college students are far more likely than males to jot down detailed notes in class, transcribe what professors say more accurately, and remember lecture content better. Arguably, boys’ less developed conscientiousness leaves them at a disadvantage in school settings where grades heavily weight good organizational skills alongside demonstrations of acquired knowledge.
The thing is, conscientiousness can be taught. That may well be the primary task for parents and teachers: passing a test is like having a fish. Mastering the skills needed to succeed across the board is more like knowing how to fish. Guess which one is more predictive of life success?
Having raised two sons to adulthood, the Editorial Staff are pretty sure that lowering expectations for boys (and worse, failing to teach them self-discipline and self-control) is not the answer. The military knows this - that's why the armed forces consistently turn around lives and produce so many successful men and women:
When video of Adm. William H. McRaven's 2014 commencement address at the University of Texas at Austin was posted online, the speech went viral. Millions of viewers will remember the core message summed up in his memorable line: "If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed."
The Navy SEAL veteran recalled that "if you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter. If you can't do the little things right, you will never do the big things right. And, if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made—that you made—and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better."
Attention to detail counts, and conscientiousness - widely poo-poohed by conservatives when doing so supports the WARONBOYS message, but lauded by them when it comes in handy for explaining disparate outcomes in other areas of life - is a trump card, beside which most other traits pale in comparison.
The real world demands that adults pay attention to their surroundings, pay their bills on time, perform boring tasks well and thoroughly. A grading system that allows students to take credit for skills they've mastered (taking tests, completing assignments on time, or hopefully both) is more accurate and informative than one that makes it impossible for employers or colleges to correctly assess a student's strengths or weaknesses.
We've often thought that most girls may need coaching to test up to their potential and most boys probably need help with following directions and completing tasks on time. Wouldn't it make sense for grades to explicitly track performance in both areas?
Discuss amongst your ownselves, haters.
September 23, 2014
Alright, villains. Here is your next picture to snarkify.
Have at it.
And may the Farce be with you.
September 22, 2014
Let The Judgement Begin - Two-Fisted Drinking School Daze Edition
Alright, y'all, I finally got to sit down and get the Judgement done. (And there was much rejoicing, I know.) So with a quick reminder of the first picture...
...it's time to take care of old business.
Kicking off the first top five is YAG with After so many humiliating defeats and the hands of James Bond, Jaws had such a difficult time finding high paying Henchmen jobs that his daughter had to rent out her forehead as a billboard.
In fourth place, frequent flyer drops out of the clouds to give us "After posting this 'selfie' on Facebook, Cynthia couldn't figure out why her social life took a sudden downturn..."
Grabbing the first brass ring is OBH (aka IGotBupkis) and "Wait? That was... LSD?"
Taking the silver of this first edition for what will shirley come to be yet another nom de snark is afe and Come join me in worshipping my unholy master, Satan, Lord Host of the Hoary Netherworld! I look forward to consuming your SOOOUULLLL! On Tuesdays, we get to chew gravel.
Which brings me to number one for number one and Don Brouhaha's And this week at the Tokio Hotel Dinner Theater, "The Shining" as performed by West Monkton Teenage Tumbling and Dance Team!
Very well done, villains. You guys really make it difficult to pick the winners every time. (I was going to say "week", but after these past couple of contests, figured I couldn't really say that right now. heh)
Now, on to the the bonus pic and the last of the old business...
YAG again kicks this one off with what seems suspiciously like a voice of experience, One should never threaten engineering students with "Oh yeah, what are you going to do about it?"
Grim, at number four, gives a little insight into the lesser-known rituals of military life, The platoon welcomes the new lieutenant.
OBH grabs the brass rings yet again with the frat perspective, Jason began to get really concerned when he realized this was only the "duck duck" part of his frat's "duck duck goose" hazing ritual.
Slipping the silver ring off the hook is htom for A group of well-prepared engineering students demonstrate the true power of duct tape to a doubting business administration student.
And, last but not least, frank Karl grabs the gold for this gem George, yes your duct tape bomb works, but we're not sure what it's good for.
Thanks again for a difficult contest to judge villains. Again, I apologize for my delinquency, and as a small form of penance, I offer a few more pictures from the Last Best Place...
(And with a special nod to htom. Enjoy.)
The Missions Mountains with the Jocko glacier on the center right.
The Mission Mountains this time from the National Bison Range
Again, the Missions and Jocko glacier with a resident of the range...
This guy is just a baby, and I'm sitting in my Durango taking this picture straight on with him.
However, this one, taken at a *bit* of distance, was taller than my Durango, and he really didn't like it when we stopped to watch him and the herd around him.
So much so that he charged us. At which point, we decided it was time to move along. Hey, we on the Dark Side may be a little crazy, but we are not, I repeat not, fools. Which, as it turned out, was not such a bad time to leave afterall...
Thanks for your patience, villains. Of course, I realize and fully admit that a good portion of the silence was due to the apparent absence of a certain Red Sox-loving attorney who despises vowels (which makes me wonder what his legal briefs - no, not those - look like.) However, I'm sure he'll soon remedy that.
Congrats to the winners! Thanks for
voluntarily submitting yourselves to my completely unpredictable snark and judgement playing.
As per usual, another pic will be up...soon-ish.
Mr. Pendragon is a former British army soldier and biker gang leader, who used to be called John Rothwell and later went by several names including "Mad Dog." In 1986, believing himself to be a reincarnation of the legendary King Arthur, he legally changed his name to Arthur Uther Pendragon. He then founded a Druid order and bought a long sword that featured in the 1981 movie "Excalibur." Some modern Druids say that King Arthur—who is said to have lived in 5th and 6th century England—was the first Druid king.
Mr. Pendragon sees his order as the political faction of the Druid movement, promoting a largely libertarian and green agenda. For him, the resemblance to the original King Arthur is clear. "He rode around on a horse and fought people," Mr. Pendragon says. "I bang Druids' heads together and fight English Heritage."
We cannot believe Grim isn't all over this one. Slacker.
And here we thought we'd seen the last of the Hating Haters Who Hate when The Shrub left office....
The man who was the top Marine general from 2006 until his retirement in 2010 says President Barack Obama’s strategy to defeat the terrorist group the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria is doomed to fail.
“I don’t think the president’s plan has a snowball’s chance in hell of succeeding,” retired Marine General James Conway, who served as the 34th Commandant of the Marine Corps during the end of the Bush administration and the beginning of the Obama administration, said at the Maverick PAC Conference in Washington, D.C. Friday, according to a source in attendance.
...Obama’s strategy to degrade and destroy ISIS has come under fire in recent days for other reasons as well, especially for preemptively taking off the table the possibility of using American combat troops to achieve the mission.
“You just don’t take anything off the table up front, which it appears the administration has tried to do,” retired Gen. James Mattis, who served as head of Central Command from 2010 until his retirement in 2013, told the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday.
“Specifically, if this threat to our nation is determined to be as significant as I believe it is, we may not wish to reassure our enemies in advance that they will not see American ‘boots on the ground,’” he added. “If a brigade of our paratroopers or a battalion landing team of our Marines would strengthen our allies at a key juncture and create havoc/humiliation for our adversaries, then we should do what is necessary with our forces that exist for that very purpose.”
Won't *someone* please step up to the plate and support Our President's enlightened and uber-inclusive policies?
We urge President Obama to immediately and publicly recognize that Mr. Omar J. Gonzalez, an oppressed migrant, was merely looking for a better life when he entered the White House after going over the classist, divisive and needless fence.
In the interest of White House diversity and what will surely result in adding to the rich tapestry of love and community, we further demand that the President reform the mean-spirited laws regulating access to the People's House. For justice and peace, upon his next return from the back-nine, Mr. Obama must award permanent lawful WH residency to Mr. Gonzalez and his family, along with a permit to work there. Because.
Act now. Add your voice to the throngs of huddled masses, yearning to breathe free (or something like that).
We can't wait for Congress to act. It takes a village. Be the change we seek.
At Last, Our Long National Nightmare is OVER
I do not know how you peoples have been living with the suspense.
I really don't. Shockingly, he's not even a Rethug:
For days, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has refused to reveal which male colleague called her "chubby," an anecdote she's used to demonstrate problems facing female politicians.
Now, the New York Times reports that it was the late Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii.
Inouye allegedly squeezed Gillibrand's waist and said, “Don’t lose too much weight now. I like my women chubby!”
I wouldn't read too much into this, peoples. After all, when a Rethuglican misspeaks, I think we can all admit that's some kind of Freudian slip that inadvertently reveals a putrid, seething mass of intolerant HomophobicRacistOtheristSexistPiggery. But when a Democrat says the same thing, hey, it just shows he's human:
The vice president's gaffe history is legendary; mistakes are expected. But three slips in the space of a mere 24 hours? That's a Biden record.
In a Tuesday speech, the vice president referred to people who sold bad loans to service members as "Shylocks," a Jewish slur derived from Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice.
[But unlike the entire Republican Party...] Biden doesn't have a history of antisemitism or racism toward Asian people. "Clearly, there was no ill intent here," said Abraham Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, of Biden's Shylock comment. "There is no truer friend of the Jewish people than Joe Biden."
He does, however, have a storied history of blunders. One of the most memorable came in 2007, when he called Obama "the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy." That didn't prevent the two from teaming up for the Democratic ticket.
Leave Joe Biden alone. HE'S A HUMAN!!!!
September 19, 2014
...try and explain *this* one.
Back in April, the Blog Princess had a weird dream involving giant sand dunes, an Elvis costume, the Twist, and a band of marauding wolves:
I was dressed in a white Elvis suit, and as I walked slowly to the top of the dune every so often a wolf would make a run at me, snarling and snapping. Obviously, there was only one sane course of action: I began to do the Twist. Just as the wolf got near I would freeze in mid-twist with both fingers pointing at him.
Wolves find this sort of thing very disconcerting...
They aren't the only ones.
This morning, we awoke about 4 am and sprang forth from betwixt the Marital Sheets with our usual alacrity. Not sure what woke us up, but we were having a very vivid dream in which The Spousal Unit's boss (a 2 or 3 star general - we forget which - whom we have only met a few times) figured prominently.
Apparently we had been invited to some sort of soiree, to which we had been asked to bring...
...wait for it...
...a bottle of red wine and a raw steamship
roast round of beef.[Ed. Note: " *&^%$#@! smart a$$ picky, picky, picky.... :p"] This sort of thing happens to us all the time.
The party was outdoors and very formal. Suddenly we noticed multiple guests, raw
roast beef in hand, heading for what we could only guess was a refrigerator. So we retrieved our roast round of beef (inexplicably, already in a refrigerator) and set out to find a new home for it. But the crowds were swarming and all of a sudden, there were multiple suites of rooms - sort of like at a resort - that had deluxe kitchens in them. We headed for one that didn't look too crowded, but this one (of course) did not have a refrigerator.
There was a hotel gift shop off to one side and a door with Halloween decorations on the other. Out of this door ran a bunch of kids in costumes. A boy about 10 or so in a skeleton costume ran up to me and took my hand, pulling me (and my raw roast beef) into what looked like a makeshift Haunted House that I somehow knew was called The Spooky Cave.
I did not trust this boy, and suspected he was really after my roast (translation for bloggers from the great-and-apparently-very-literal-minded State of Georgia: "uncooked, steamship round of beef" :p).
I woke up, just as darkness enveloped me and dry ice mist colored by some weird green light drifted over my feet.
Thank Gaia it's Friday.
September 18, 2014
Apparently, it really bites to be on the receiving end of Occupy tactics. And really, who could have foreseen such a shocking development?
Three years after the Occupy Wall Street movement began, an unlikely conflict has emerged over one of the cause’s most precious tools: a Twitter account.
During the primacy of the Occupy movement in New York, people across the country followed @OccupyWallStNYC and other social media accounts to track the latest developments, from encampments to conflicts. Now one group of activists is accusing a former comrade of taking unilateral control of the shared account and locking out the organizers he had once collaborated with.
According to a lawsuit, which was filed on Wednesday in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, the Twitter account was created in summer 2011 by Adbusters, the Canadian magazine that first called for an occupation of Wall Street. The resulting protests began on Sept. 17, 2011.
Adbusters turned the account over to Marisa Holmes, the lawsuit said, a filmmaker and activist who had helped to moderate Occupy meetings in August 2011 in Tompkins Square Park. Ms. Holmes, in turn, gave others access to the account, which now has 177,000 followers.
But in August, Justin Wedes, one of those with access, changed the passwords and locked out his fellow administrators, according to the lawsuit.
“Each and every day that goes by while Wedes remains in control of the Twitter account is another day of plaintiff’s lost opportunity to speak to the Twitter audience that they worked to cultivate and rightly should control,” the suit states.
Mr. Wedes did not respond to requests for comment via phone or email. But in a blog post dated four days after the lockout, he wrote that he disbanded the collective of administrators because relationships among the group had become fractious.
“Clearly the question of ownership of the account is a contentious one, and I don’t pretend to have all the answers,” he wrote, adding that he planned to put the account “in the hands of responsible stewards.”
Let's see if we've got this straight: the folks who wanted everything to be shared equally are now fighting over "ownership" and "control" of resources???? As in, "This is mine and I claim the exclusive right to use it (including the right to prevent YOU from using it)"?
This is priceless:
Not long after the lawsuit was filed on Wednesday, the account offered a new post: “Lawyers are the tools of the 1% and their children. We believe in class war.”
We Expect Big Changes....
Every man comfortable enough with his masculinity to squeeze into performance-enhancing lycra athletic body wear has sooner or later confronted the next frontier: The question of whether to shave his legs!
Aside from perhaps staunch feminists, female athletes don't face this social conundrum. Among male athletes, the otherwise socially uncool body-smoothing "manscaping" has long been a tradition. Cyclists will tell you that it might improve recovery from road rash or make leg massages better. They'll also admit that it's fashion. Tough, big-deal bike riders do it. Nobody races Le Tour de France with hairy legs. Male shaving is a form of machismo.
We are not sure what word comes to mind first when the subject of Manscaping comes up, but we are pretty sure it isn't "machismo".
But we digress...
It also has negligible performance benefits, or so the conventional wisdom goes. Now, new data from men on bikes in wind tunnels contradicts this view. Bicyclists were measured to move more quickly with shaved legs! In theory this makes sense. Generally, smooth surfaces are more aerodynamic than rough or uneven ones.
Aerodynamics is so important to cyclists because the practical limit of their speed is not their muscle power, but the aerodynamic drag of their ride: bike and body. Terminal velocity on level ground (on a properly geared ride) is determined by how cleanly the forward-facing shapes cut into the wind. The more carefully a surface cleaves oncoming air into parts without disturbing it into a chaotic turbulent mess, the faster it goes.
An everyday pleasure rider may hit 15 mph on a brisk ride, a commuter may cruise at 16-18, and a professional racer can hold speeds in the mid 20s. A rider on a bike with an extremely aerodynamic fairing like the nose of a rocket can reach speeds of more than 80 mph!
"Aero" has become a huge buzzword and selling point in the cycling industry. Most competitive races have actually banned certain bike designs for being too fast. Within a limited bicycle geometry range, the next gains to be made are those from the other half of the aerodynamics of the system: the rider himself. Riders often employ a hunched position, with the arms out and the head tucked down, to reduce aerodynamic profile. They may smooth even their natural body profiles with seamless skinsuits.
Here's where the hairy legs come in. Smooth legs should be slightly more aerodynamic than hairy or, heaven forbid, "stubbly" legs, right?
Previous tests said no, there was no measurable effect. Leg-shaving is just machismo. This new test says otherwise. A cyclist going into the wind tunnel for aero testing at the bike industry "Specialized" forgot to shave his legs first. His test showed significantly higher drag. Surprised, he came back days later with legs as smooth as a baby's cheek, in addition to a 7% gain in aerodynamic slipperiness!
Science has spoken! And the science is settled. Don't be a denier.
And remember: the catchphrase of the day is "aerodynamic slipperiness" :p
September 17, 2014
Since y'all don't seem to mind, and a few have asked for more, here are a few more pictures from Glacier.
A closer view of Clement's Mtn with McDonald Creek in the foreground.
McDonald Creek cuts through granite and other mountain stone as it rushes down the hillside...
...briefly resting in deep green pools before continuing it's frosty journey. Yes, that water is cold - about 30 degrees in these standing pools.
And with those mesmerizing pools at your feet, you look through the trees...
There's no doubt that you're in a magical place.
Then, when we got to the other side and Kintla Lake, the magic didn't stop for, as the sun began to slide down the other side of the Big Sky, the water began to turn to liquid silver and gold...
And, then, when you thought it couldn't get any better than this, a blessing arrives in the most sacred form found in my Native heritage ....
Like I said, y'all, when I got back to civilization, I *did* feel bad for forgetting to do as I'd said I would. But, in my life, *meat space* comes first.
Not that I don't love ya.
Who else lets, nay volunteers for, me to snark at them by posting captions for my plethora of pictures and then submitting to my Judgement afterward?
Hope you enjoyed the pix!
September 16, 2014
Ian Desmond is the Man
That is all.
Not So Much An Apology
As an explanation. I know I said I would judge both contests last week, and such was my full intent until I received an invitation that I would have regretted declining.
The first dusting of snow of the year at Glacier National Park made for the beginning of a truly amazing day. With McDonald Creek in the foreground, Mt. Vaught sits at 8,850' in the left foreground while Heaven's Peak stretches up to 8,987' in the distance. To the right, Clement's Mtn at 8,760' brushes off the last of the morning mist.
Unfortunately, the snow closed Going To The Sun road past a certain point, but that in no way, shape or form means the Park is a wash. After turning around at the closure point, we decided to meander back down McDonald Creek...
...to a point where the water falls into crystal clear pools of glacier-fed water. This was taken from about 30' above a very quickly moving current.
Frames by such ridgelines as this with Mt. Brown at 8,565', it's easy to imagine you've stumbled onto a Peter Jackson "Lord of the Rings" movie set.
Next up, was a drive to the far west side of the park, and damn near Canada.
In the foreground to the right is Numa Ridge. Just beyond in the center-left Kintla peak soars to 10,101' with the Kintla Glacier (one of the 26 remaining glaciers in Glacier National park) just below it. Farther to the left are the Boundary Mtns separating the United States from Canada. After a 16 mile drive up into those mountains, we arrived at Kintla Lake...
...framed by the Boundary Mtns.
As the day was getting late, and we had miles to go just to get back to pavement, this was the end of our travels for the day. As the aspenglow slowly climbed the mountains and descended into the valleys, we made our way down a meandering river road back to civilization.
Aaaand I remembered that I was supposed to have judged the caption contests.
Ah well, such is life.
Judgement will be coming soon.
Good News and Bad News
The good news is that, if they're willing to admit fault and want to change, domestic abusers can learn better ways to resolving marital disputes:
While both men and women commit acts of intimate-partner violence, as experts call it, approximately 85% of victims are female. Decades of studies show that about 60% to 70% of abusive men who complete a comprehensive batterer treatment program can reform, says Jeffrey L. Edleson, professor and dean of the School of Social Welfare at the University of California, Berkeley, and an expert on domestic abuse.
One of the most thorough and well-designed studies on the topic was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and conducted by Edward Gondolf, now a professor emeritus at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. It was summarized in 2004 in the journal Aggression and Violent Behavior. The study spent four years following 618 men who entered batterer-intervention programs in one of four cities, as well as their female partners starting when the men entered the program.
The study found that at the 30-month follow-up, more than 80% of the men had not re-assaulted their partner in the previous year, and at the 48-month follow-up, 90% of the men had not assaulted their partner in the past year. The treatment programs were small education-therapy groups, meeting at least once a week for between four months and a year. "Men who completed the program were much less likely to abuse their partners," Dr. Gondolf says.
The study also showed that at both of these follow-up points, two-thirds of the women (some the original partners of the men, some new) said that their quality of life had improved, and 85% of the women said they felt very safe.
One of the main reasons the blog princess stated up front that she would leave if she was physically threatened was the fear of having her children grow up in a home with a violent father as an example. That kind of conditioning is hard to overcome.
On the bad news front, it turns out that forgiving a philandering spouse can cause other people to view you as weak:
Forgiveness has been linked to health and happiness. But it may be dangerous to your social status.
That’s the conclusion of a newly published study, which finds people—particularly those in leadership positions—pay a price when they forgive a mate for infidelity.
“Even with a clear indication that the romantic partner apologized, and the recognition that to forgive is a mature reaction, observers viewed a victim who forgave to be weak and incompetent,” reports a research team led by psychologist Heather J. Smith of Sonoma State University. “This research suggests there are negative consequences for victims who forgive.”
...Why the harsh judgments of the wronged person?
“A victim who forgives a romantic partner can fail to affirm shared values about how people should respond to sexual infidelity,” the researchers write. They add that the importance of upholding such values increases “if other audiences might view the victim as a group representative.”
Furthermore, they note that third parties could feel that “victims who forgave their romantic partner failed to address the power and status inequity that the original offense created.” Doing so, in some people’s eyes, is a sign of weakness.
So if you’re in a position of prominence, your actions have symbolic value whether you want them to or not. And the symbolism of forgiving a straying mate is decidedly double-edged.
We found this interesting in light of the oft-expressed belief that women are especially hard on cheaters out of some purported, gender-specific insecurity and/or desire to control men. That theory has never really made much sense to us. For years, most studies consistently found that men were less likely to forgive infidelity.
But I've always wondered how much of that tendency was innate and how much was influenced by culture and/or circumstances:
"Women are more likely to take into account their children, their economics, their general survival," Schwartz said. "Men are just crushed or upset about what happened to them. They won't think as quickly about their children as the first or second issue; but they will eventually consider that." She added that men generally experience a flooding of anger over the violation.
That rise in blood pressure could result from a guy's perception of cheating as something done to him more than something done to the relationship.
"Men are less willing to forgive," said Ruth Houston, founder of www.InfidelityAdvice.com and author of "Is He Cheating on You? - 829 Telltale Signs." She added, "Men view infidelity as a statement about their manhood, so it's such an affront to him that most men cannot get over this hurdle."
Practical concerns can also steer a woman in one direction or the other.
"Wives are also less likely to consider divorce if they are economically dependent on their husbands, have children or hold strong religious views," Amato said. "Nevertheless, most wives at least consider the option of divorce. And, in fact, infidelity is the marital problem most likely to lead to divorce."
Thank Gaia we have scientists to tell us these things:
In three studies, “individuals who were poached by their current romantic partners were less committed, less satisfied, and less invested in their relationships,” reports a research team led by psychologist Joshua Foster of the University of South Alabama.
Those who reported they had been poached from another partner began the study with lower levels of commitment to their current mate, “and in general these functioning differences grew wider as the study progressed.”
“They also paid more attention to romantic alternatives, perceived their alternatives to be of higher quality, and engaged in higher rates of infidelity.”
Shocking, we know.
September 11, 2014
On September 11th, Two Americas
This is a reprise of a post I wrote on September 11th, 2010.
I spent Wednesday afternoon at Nationals Park watching my home town team play baseball.
It was one of those impossibly idyllic days you only get in September. Here in DC we look forward to them all year; look forward to a break from the heat and humidity, to warm days punctuated by cool breezes that lift our hair along with our spirits; to golden moments perfectly suspended between endless summer and the gloom of approaching winter. My firm was having a Team Building event and so - though I have little in common with the sales staff besides working for the same company - I gamely joined them in the pursuit of something that seems to hover just out of our reach these days: unity of identity and purpose.
The home team lost, but somehow even that didn't matter. It was a beautiful September day and we were full to the brim with hot dogs and beer and happiness; united for a moment by the glorious feeling of playing hooky from the responsibilities that awaited us back at the office.
Perfection, ephemeral as an Indian summer afternoon.
On the way back reality, held at bay by those ballpark gates and the tantalizing possibility of extra innings, began its relentless assault on our senses. Route 66 might as well have been a parking lot. Jokes gradually gave way to silence as we pulled out our cellphones, checked messages and email and mentally braced ourselves for the shock of re-entry.
That's when it happened. Someone said, "I can't believe it will be nine years this week since 9/11". And one by one we began to remember where we were, what we were doing, how it felt. It was this generation's "Where were you when they shot JFK?" moment and for a brief shining moment the shared memory pulled us back from the brink and made us one again.
But like everything that seems impossibly perfect, that moment wasn't meant to last.
Remind any group of Americans about 9/11 and for a moment we'll put aside our differences, put aside our disparate values and priorities. For a moment - but only for a moment - everything else is burned away by the searing memory of the mutual shock and loss and disbelief that gripped us: Republicans, small L libertarians and Democrats alike. For an instant all of that will be forgotten as we remember what's important: that somehow, despite the thousand threats to our security and peace of mind; despite madmen who strap bombs to their chests, zealots with box cutters, and idiots who burn Korans, we are alive.
This week, on the ninth anniversary of that awful day John Edwards' Two Americas stand side by side, an eerie memorial to those vanished Twin Towers. They have long since crumbled into dust, their twisted girders repurposed and reforged into an enduring symbol of American strength and resolve.
Or at least that is how one of the two Americas sees it. That America sees the last flickers of the defiant spirit, the resourcefulness and ingenuity that built this country. It is reassured and reaffirmed by the visible reminder that we still produce leaders who make hard decisions and accept the consequences. This America attributes our current security to our willingness to defend ourselves; to men and women who have given up that most precious of commodities - time with loved ones, or even their very lives - to ensure that no more brilliant autumn mornings will be rocked by unexpected bolts from the blue.
The other America sees hate, paranoia, a foolish overreaction to a minor threat. That America wants to move on already. It is weary of war and its discontents and suspicious of American exceptionalism. It only wants to be left in peace, citing the absence of a follow on attack as proof that (had we only possessed the surety that comes with 20/20 hindsight) we could have reacted differently but achieved essentially the same results. Bin Laden would not have tried again. He would have slunk back to the far reaches of Pakistan to lick his non-existent wounds, or been captured. Somehow they know this. Saddam would not, as he did during the 1990s, once again send an invading army over the border to attack his neighbors. He would not use chemical weapons on his own people. He would give up his nuclear aspirations and cease funding acts of terrorism. He would bow to the will of the global community and meekly allow arms inspectors full access. The leopard would change his spots.
Which of these two Americas is right? Who are we, really? The truth is that we cannot know what future would have followed the path not taken. Nine years after 9/11 we would like clarity. We would like closure. But we will not have either of these things. Certainty is a dream - as much a dream as the illusion of invulnerability that united us until 8:46 a.m. Eastern time nine years ago.
We cannot rewrite the past; cannot shape a happier ending for the story that began nearly a decade ago. What we can do, is remember:
In St. Augustine, Dan Hill was laying tile in his upstairs bathroom when his wife called, "Dan, get down here! An airplane just flew into the World Trade Center. It's a terrible accident." Hill hurried downstairs, and then the phone rang. It was Rescorla, calling from his cell phone.
"Are you watching TV?" he asked. "What do you think?"
"Hard to tell. It could have been an accident, but I can't see a commercial airliner getting that far off."
"I'm evacuating right now," Rescorla said.
Hill could hear Rescorla issuing orders through the bullhorn. He was calm and collected, never raising his voice. Then Hill heard him break into song:
Men of Cornwall stop your dreaming;
Can't you see their spearpoints gleaming?
See their warriors' pennants streaming
To this battlefield.
Men of Cornwall stand ye steady;
It cannot be ever said ye
for the battle were not ready;
Stand and never yield!
Rescorla came back on the phone. "Pack a bag and get up here," he said. "You can be my consultant again." He added that the Port Authority was telling him not to evacuate and to order people to stay at their desks.
"What'd you say?" Hill asked.
"I said, 'Piss off, you son of a bitch,' " Rescorla replied. "Everything above where that plane hit is going to collapse, and it's going to take the whole building with it. I'm getting my people the fuck out of here." Then he said, "I got to go. Get your shit in one basket and get ready to come up."
Hill turned back to the TV and, within minutes, saw the second plane execute a sharp left turn and plunge into the south tower. Susan saw it, too, and frantically phoned her husband's office. No one answered.
About fifteen minutes later, the phone rang. It was Rick. She burst into tears and couldn't talk.
"Stop crying," he told her. "I have to get these people out safely. If something should happen to me, I want you to know I've never been happier. You made my life."
If we are to remember on this day then we should remember all of it, without flinching and without prettying up the messy parts.
Nine years into this war on Islamic extremism we hear a lot about lives destroyed by war. We hear of shattered limbs and broken minds; of suicides, despair, and shadowy figures living under bridges because they can't ever, truly, return from war. The America they left no longer exists for them.
And the hell of it is that all of this is true. Every painful, stinking bit. But it is not the whole truth. The whole truth is that the horrors of war rend and tear at our spirits but they also stiffen our spines and harden our resolve. War gives us back broken children, husbands, wives but also survivors who emerge stronger than ever from the crucible of war. Heroes like Rick Rescorla - a man who, for over a decade, kept watch over the workers at the World Trade Center against an enemy no one else took seriously.
And without men like Rick - without men hardened by horrors most of us cannot imagine even in our worst nightmares - a lot more than 3000 people would have died. Up to 2600 more, by some counts.
Sitting there in that van on Route 66, it wasn't the morning of September 11th that I remembered.
It was a moment that occurred at dusk several weeks later. I've forgotten the exact date now. I was alone - living at my mother in law's empty house in Arlington as I waited for our retirement home to be completed in western Maryland. My husband, a Marine Lieutenant Colonel at the time, was on duty at the Pentagon; one of a skeleton staff still manning its silent halls filled with the acrid scent of smoke. I smelled it on him every dawn when he slipped into bed beside me, moments before my alarm went off.
I got home from work late (as usual) and hurried around the unfamiliar house searching for candles, matches, a sweater to protect me from the autumn chill. And precisely at sunset I gathered these things and went out onto the flagstone patio. Although I could not see them, nearly every door on the silent suburban street was filled with mothers, fathers, children crowding into cramped doorframes. I couldn't see them, but I felt their presence.
And as the sun slipped slowly out of sight on the horizon, tiny flames lit up the autumn dusk like fireflies. For a moment - one, golden moment - the two Americas were united in grief and loss and anger. And the world grieved with us.
It didn't last, but then such moments aren't meant to last. With the dawn the two Americas parted again, standing side by side like those Twin Towers. We desperately want there to be only one, but that is not the America we know. America was born in revolution and dissent and baptized by years of bitter war and violent enmity. America is the product of a clash of ideas - rich, landed gentry who distrusted the passions of the common people and firebrands who envisioned a people whose ardent love of liberty would no more countenance the tyranny of home grown despots than they would the rule of a foreign power.
America embodies the tension between liberty and responsibility and the truth is that we need both if we are to remain a free and prosperous people. In a way, those Twin Towers were a more apt symbol than we knew.
They are gone. Only we remain. We, the people of the United States of America with all our differences, arguments and competing visions. It is the from clash between these visions, and not from some illusive dream of unity, that we will form that more perfect union our forebears envisioned.
The land of the free, made possible by the brave.
September 10, 2014
Ray Rice and Female Privilege
So this whole kerfuffle over Ray Rice clocking his then-fiancé puzzles the Editorial Staff mightily.
One the one hand, seeing a guy that size literally knock a physically smaller/weaker person unconscious and then casually drag her across the floor is sickening. But the calls for boycotting the NFL (or suggestions that watching football amounts to "co-signing" violence against women, or even more bizarrely, that doing away with football is some kind of Important Step In The Fight Against Domestic Violence) are just mind numbingly stupid.
Does anyone seriously believe we'd be having this conversation if Ray Rice had clocked a physically smaller man? The thought is laughable. Football players commit crimes all the time. Some of them are minor, some are truly reprehensible. This is not news:
It has been an awful offseason for the NFL.
Twenty-seven active players have been arrested in total so far, most notably star New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez. Since the Super Bowl on February 3, NFL players have been arrested for common crimes like DUI and public intoxication, but also for things like street racing, child abuse, and trying to solicit a prostitute.
In 1999, there was even a study that compared relative crime rates between NFL players and a relevant sample of young men. Inconveniently for the uber-outraged, the study found that normalized offense rates (incidents per 100,000) for NFL players were less than half those in the general population (see bottom line in the table below):
Why should it matter more when NFL players commit violent acts against women (at rates that - at least in 1999 - were half those in the relevant general population!) than when they commit violent acts against men (and especially, physically smaller men)? Isn't this simply a form of blatant female privilege to match the oft-cited male privilege that apparently needs to be "checked" because.... equality!!!?
Sometimes the only way to get a man to listen to you is to knock him upside the head. That's true for other men, too: once in a while, a man just needs a good knock on his door.
The double-standard is wise and proper, though, because if he knocks you back he could kill you.
We're not sure we agree with Grim. It's actually fairly rare for men to be physically disciplined these days, and in any case "the end justifies the means" isn't a terribly strong argument. The Marine Corps seems to be able to get men to pay attention without hitting them.
We're not really sure what the feminist argument for treating women differently in these cases would be. There's a clear legal precedent for punishing battery that leads to serious injuries more seriously than cases where the injuries are minor or even nonexistent. Don't we already have a rule in place for dealing with such cases that doesn't involve a sexist double standard that argues that women are weaker and less capable of defending themselves than men (except, of course, in combat situations and when applying for any job with physical fitness/strength standards)?
Sounds to us like someone needs to totally check their female privilege.
IG: Justice Department Impeding Our Investigations
The executive branch department responsible for enforcing the law is instead preventing the law from being enforced? Incroyable!
The Inspector General Act of 1978 grants IGs "access to all records, reports, audits, reviews, documents, papers, recommendations or other material" within a federal department or agency.
Horowitz said he appreciated efforts by Attorney General Eric Holder and Deputy Attorney General James Cole to intervene on behalf of IG requests.
But Horowitz said having to rely upon DOJ's senior leaders to gain access to documents Congress clearly intends to be given to IGs on request is inconsistent with the law.
In addition, such dependence "compromises our independence. The IG Act expressly provides that an independent inspector general should decide whether documents are relevant to an IG's work; however, the current process at the department instead places that decision and authority in the leadership of the agency that is being subjected to our oversight."
Well dang. If the press corps isn't going to be independent, we see no real reason why the IG corps should expect to be.
The Fan Saga Continues....
Sorry for going AWOL last week. The Blog Princess is in St. Louis for another week and is still having laptop issues involving a recalcitrant cooling fan. So blogging is going to be light until next week.
Whilst we are playing with our granddaughter's adorable toes, this excellent column by Michael Barone is worth a read:
America’s two great political parties are constantly transforming themselves, sometimes in small increments, sometimes in sudden lurches.
...But when the other party has held the White House for an extended period, the transformation process can be stormy and chaotic. Which is a pretty apt description of the Republican Party over the past few years. Its two living ex-presidents, the George Bushes, withdrew from active politics immediately after leaving the White House, and its two most recent nominees, John McCain and Mitt Romney, say they are not running for president again, although they do weigh in on issues. There is no obvious heir apparent and there are many politicians who may seek the 2016 presidential nomination. More than usual, the opposition party is up for grabs.
As the cartoon images of elephant and donkey suggest, our two parties are different kinds of animals. Republicans have generally been more cohesive, with a core made up of politicians and voters who see themselves, and are seen by others, as typical Americans — white Northern Protestants in the 19th century, married white Christians today. But those groups, by themselves, have never been a majority of the nation. The Democratic Party has been made up of disparate groups of people regarded, by themselves and others, as outsiders in some way — Southern whites and Catholic immigrants in the 19th century, blacks and gentry liberals today. Our electoral system motivates both to amass coalitions larger than 50 percent of voters. Democrats tend to do so by adding additional disparate groups. Republicans tend to do so by coming up with appeals that unite their base and erode Democrats’ support from others.
In the past 100 years there has been a certain rhythm, a familiar though not inevitable pattern, in coalition construction and deconstruction. A party’s nominee for president is elected. In his first years he advances a legislative agenda that all members of his party and, usually, some in the opposition party support. He is re-elected or, as in 1924 and 1964, the vice president who succeeds him is elected by a substantial margin. In the last century, the only years when previously elected presidents were defeated after one term were 1932, 1980 and 1992. Then, in the president’s second term, events turn sour, legislative initiatives are defeated, the opposition party coalesces and the president’s party splinters. Among members of his party, gratitude for past achievements dims, and frustration grows over roads not taken and goals not achieved. Disillusion accelerates as fears grow that the opposite party’s nominee will win the next election. The party in power splinters and either erupts openly or seethes silently with discontent. The party out of power grapples first with the task of selecting a new nominee and, perhaps more importantly, of settling on policy initiatives and priorities.
Back in 2009, we made some very similar observations:
Another meme popular among frustrated conservatives is that Bush is responsible for our defeat in 2008 and the resulting disarray of the Rethuglican party. Not to put too fine a point on it, but an objective examination of the historical record provides no evidence to support the notion that a third term of Republican leadership in the Oval Office was George Bush's to lose...
... (pre- and post-1950) any uninterrupted stretch where one party occupied the Oval Office for MORE than two terms is noted.
The salient observation? Prior to 1950, extended one-party rule was more the norm than the exception.
Since 1950, extended one-party rule has been the exception rather than the norm. In fact, it has happened only once.
But by all means, let us blame Bush for our defeat in 2008. It is always so much easier than looking at facts that inconveniently undermine what we'd like to believe, especially when this involves that rather startling notion that we live under a two party system in which - oddly enough - the party not in power tends to feel bitter, cheated, aggrieved, disaffected and angry.
...and the party in power tends to wear out its welcome if it's "lucky" enough to stay in the White House for two terms.
Justice Dept. Official "Audibly Shaken"
Justice Dept. official asks Democratic Congressman's office to help him leak documents to the press, gets wrong number:
Apparently thinking he had reached the office of Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.), Fallon said the department wanted congressional staffers to get documents to selected reporters so that officials could comment on them “before the majority” did. After Issa spokesman Frederick Hill replied that Oversight Committee staffers would have to examine those documents first, the line went silent, and Fallon placed the call on hold for three minutes.
When he returned to the line, Fallon was “audibly shaken,” according to an account of the conversation that Issa recounts in a letter sent to Holder.
The Justice official then said there had been a “change in plans,” that no documents would be released on Friday and that the main reason for the call was to seek a thaw in relations between the department and Oversight Republicans.
Issa said it’s clear that the Justice official meant to call Democratic staff and argued the mix-up is proof that President Obama’s administration and Cummings have been collaborating to “prejudice the committee’s work through under-the-table coordination.”
“This highly partisan and combative approach to oversight by the department shows a disregard for the independent investigatory prerogatives of Congress and a deliberate attempt to influence the course of a congressional investigation,” Issa wrote to Holder, adding that it was “unseemly” for the department to favor one party over the other when it came to sharing information.
The documents, Issa added in the letter, are about Andrew Strelka, a former Justice attorney that once worked for Lois Lerner, the ex-IRS official at the center of the Tea Party controversy.
Hmmm... Strelka... the name seems familiar...
We will admit to being more than a little confusicated by this whole IRS brouhaha. If this is just another phony, made up controversy, why would the Justice department work so hard at damage control? If only there were some kind of mechanism for partisan journalists to plan how best to present the White House's preferred narrative to the public...
Do we sense a Chill Wind threatening our free and independent press corps? Heaven forfend!
September 09, 2014
“A few years ago, the terrorist organization Hamas, sent a gift to the President of Israel in an elaborate box with a note. After having the box checked for safety reasons, the President of Israel, Mr. Shimon Peres, opened the box and saw that the content was feces (aka, shit, merde).
He opened the note which said “For you and the proud people of Israel.”
Being a wise and experienced person, he decided to reciprocate, sending Hamas a very pretty package and a note. The leaders of Hamas were very surprised to receive the parcel and opened it very carefully suspecting that it might contain a bomb. But to their surprise they saw that it contained a tiny computer 'chip'. The chip was rechargeable with solar energy, had a 1800 Terabyte memory and could output a 3D hologram display, capable of functioning in any type of cellular phone, tablet or laptop. It was one of the world’s most advanced technologies. Invented and produced in Israel. The accompanying note to the Hamas leaders stated very courteously…
“Every leader gives the best his people can roduce.”
Tip o'the Stetson: Bookworm Room
September 05, 2014
Caption Contest - Bonus School Daze Edition
It's Friday. The first Friday back to school. You know what that means....football and frat parties!
So, here is another pic for y'all to snarkify.
Judgement for both will commence next week.
Have at it, villains.
And may the Farce be with you.
September 02, 2014
Caption Contest - School Daze Edition
Alright, villains. Here is your next picture to snarkify.
Have at it.
And may the Farce be with you.
Let The Judgement Begin
Hope y'all had a fantastic Labor Day weekend...the official end of summer. Well, except here at the lake where it's sunny, 75, and I didn't have to go to school today.
However, I do have old business to attend to, so with that, a quick review of last week's picture...
...and the Judgement is off to the
Laying on the tinder and kindling, at number five, is Grim for "Why'd he call you shorty? 'Cause you're small! Small! Ess-Emm-All."
Bringing the timbers in fourth place is new comer frank Karl and this imperative, Who say we can['t] be the new Sammy Davis Jr and Jerry Lewis?
George Pal, despite the weight of the gas can, still manages to grab the brass ring for Ladies and gentlemen... gracing our stage tonight... direct from their long engagement at the Burlesque Follies... for your entertainment and edification... give it up for... PATHOS AND BATHOS!!
frequent flyer swoops out of the clouds long enough to snatch the silver and jet back off in a trail of sparks and flame, "hey boys--where da white women at?"
Meanwhile, afe fans the flame ever brighter, the better to show off his second consecutive gold ring, with Chris is feeling a tingle running up his Sharpton.
Congrats to this week's winners. Great job villains, once again your excellent entries made for a difficult judgement. Thanks for playing.
As usual, the next picture will be up....