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The Worst Talking Head in Sports History

[ 78 ] January 27, 2014 |

Sometimes one image does indeed tell a whole story.

A Little More Austerity Would Encourage Those Slacker Veterans to Pull Their Bootstraps Up Harder

[ 70 ] January 27, 2014 |

America, 2014. A nation where working age people now are the majority of food stamp recipients. I see no alternative other than cutting food stamps to get these lazy welfare cheats off the government teat and back where they belong–homeless and hungry. Take this person:

The newer food stamp recipients include Maggie Barcellano, 25, of Austin, Texas. A high school graduate, she enrolled in college but didn’t complete her nursing degree after she could no longer afford the tuition.

Hoping to boost her credentials, she went through emergency medical technician training with the Army National Guard last year but was unable to find work as a paramedic because of the additional certification and fees required. Barcellano, now the mother of a 3-year-old daughter, finally took a job as a home health aide, working six days a week at $10 an hour. Struggling with the low income, she recently applied for food stamps with the help of the nonprofit Any Baby Can, to help save up for paramedic training.

“It’s devastating,” Barcellano said. “When I left for the Army I was so motivated, thinking I was creating a situation where I could give my daughter what I know she deserves. But when I came back and basically found myself in the same situation, it was like it was all for naught.”

What has she done for this nation? And only working 6 days a week? If she had any motivation, she’d work at least 7. Maybe 8 or 9. That’s what the makers do. That and be born rich, white, privileged, and probably male, use their status to get into the best colleges, join the investment firm where their frat brother’s dad is a partner, and rig the political game through enormous and increasingly unregulated political donations to place more wealth in their Cayman Island bank accounts.

Film Blog (V)

[ 41 ] January 26, 2014 |

Another set of reviews from my mediocre film blog. Waste time discussing as you like. Films since the last update:

Navy Blue Days, Pembroke and Rock, 1925–Stan Laurel running around a Latin American port looking for lovin’.

Fooling Casper, Montgomery, 1928–Lame adaptation of a popular comic strip of the era.

Her, Jonze, 2013–Brilliant. I liked this so much. Choke me with that dead cat.

The Battle of San Pietro, Huston, 1945–Arguably the greatest war documentary ever made.

American Hustle, Russell, 2013–The definition of entertainment, even if the plot was pretty messy. And of course, awesome fashion.

Two-Lane Blacktop, Hellman, 1971–Men. Car. Road. Hear me roar.

The King of Marvin Gardens, Rafelson, 1972–Did not like this much at all.

The Future, July, 2011–July has talent but I mostly didn’t like this film.

On the Edge, Yau, 2006–Very solid Hong Kong gangster/cop film.

Argo, Affleck, 2012–A very solid political thriller. Worthy of Best Picture? Not sure about that. But good.

Inside Llewyn Davis, Coen and Coen, 2013–Minor Coen. Good enough for a night out, but minor. Cat got robbed for Best Actor nomination.

The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid, Kaufman, 1972–Stoned hippie western does Jesse James. Duvall overacts. Cliff Robertson looks like a good hippie sex symbol. Meh.

Foxy Brown, Hill, 1974–It is what it is. Good entertainment. Good movie? Maybe not. Pam Grier could bring it though.

Amour, Haneke, 2012–When Haneke isn’t trying to be a nihilist, he’s a pretty fine filmmaker.

World War I

[ 338 ] January 26, 2014 |

As we reach the centennial of World War I’s commencement, it’s hard for me to see it as anything but one of the stupidest events in modern history. And I use the word “stupid” with great intention, as the lead-up to the war after Franz Ferdinand’s assassination, the alliance system, the militarism, the egos, the ramped up belief in the relationship between masculinity and war (which is not addressed in the linked essay but which was a huge factor at least in Britain and Germany, and later in the U.S.), all of it contributed to a mere 16 million deaths in 4 years for no good reason at all.

Saturday Night Opossum Blogging

[ 120 ] January 25, 2014 |

I used to think opossums were kind of nasty. It’s not their fault, they are just kind of ugly. Then I was walking on the campus of the University of Texas at night. I was walking on a little pedestrian bridge over a creek and there were a couple in the creek below. I watched them for like 5 minutes and realized how cool they actually are. Totally changed my perspective on them.

And of course, edible.

China Solar

[ 23 ] January 25, 2014 |

While we all know of the environmental disaster that is China and the huge problems the Chinese government has had in managing that pollution, especially given the emphasis it places on economic growth and the control local party officials have over these matters in the their localities, it’s also true that China is eating our lunch when it comes to promoting solar power and getting facilities installed. Whether this happens fast enough to mitigate China’s enormous impact upon climate change, well I’m skeptical. But unlike the United States, the Chinese government also sees the necessity to transitioning to renewables.

Plutocrat Fears of the New Gilded Age

[ 162 ] January 25, 2014 |

Back in the Gilded Age, every strike, every worker movement, every bit of organizing was seen by the plutocrats as the coming of a revolution that would kill them all. See the response to the Tompkins Square unemployment marches, which the rich saw as the Paris Commune coming to America. Similarly, with every funeral, every note of music, every coming of the night, slave owners fretted about their human property rising up and killing them all, turning South Carolina into Haiti. That’s what I thought of when I read this letter to the editor in the Wall Street Journal:

Regarding your editorial “Censors on Campus” (Jan. 18): Writing from the epicenter of progressive thought, San Francisco, I would call attention to the parallels of fascist Nazi Germany to its war on its “one percent,” namely its Jews, to the progressive war on the American one percent, namely the “rich.”

From the Occupy movement to the demonization of the rich embedded in virtually every word of our local newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle, I perceive a rising tide of hatred of the successful one percent. There is outraged public reaction to the Google buses carrying technology workers from the city to the peninsula high-tech companies which employ them. We have outrage over the rising real-estate prices which these “techno geeks” can pay. We have, for example, libelous and cruel attacks in the Chronicle on our number-one celebrity, the author Danielle Steel, alleging that she is a “snob” despite the millions she has spent on our city’s homeless and mentally ill over the past decades.

This is a very dangerous drift in our American thinking. Kristallnacht was unthinkable in 1930; is its descendent “progressive” radicalism unthinkable now?

Tom Perkins

Perkins is a cofounder of this venture capital firm.

I suppose we could take this as positive, that a few fast food workers demanding $15 are actually scaring the plutocracy. But I don’t see it that way. They are so secure in their position that they have the luxury of freaking out over each cent or right the poor demand from their betters.

….Our lovely plutocrat Mr. Perkins was once convicted of involuntary manslaughter in France for killing a man after running over another boat while yacht racing.

Lonnie Holley

[ 12 ] January 24, 2014 |

I saw Lonnie Holley open for Bill Callahan in October. I had never heard of him before. I looked him up and found out he was some kind of artist but that’s it. So I appreciated this long profile of him. He was great live. It’s pretty weird but totally mesmerizing. Cool stuff. This video includes a bunch of his art and his style of only playing the black keys.

And for good measure, the best song off the new Callahan album.

Corporations and Climate Change

[ 19 ] January 24, 2014 |

It’s entirely likely that if the United States government ever does anything about climate change, it’s going to be spurred by corporations worried about how it will affect their future profits. That doesn’t mean I’m optimistic. For every company that sees threat in climate change, others see profit either now or in the future. And the culture of quarterly income reports makes any real long-term thinking unlikely. But at least it’s in the minds of some of the plutocracy interested in protecting their own wealth.

Republican Outreach to Women

[ 35 ] January 23, 2014 |

The Republican Party’s message to women has really improved. So much evidence.

Exhibit A:

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) said that the government shouldn’t help women who can’t control their “libido or their reproductive system” by providing co-pay-free birth control and that Democrats are encouraging women to be “victims of their gender.”

Huckabee made the comments during a speech at the Republican National Committee’s winter meeting on Thursday.

“If the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of government then so be it! Let us take that discussion all across America because women are far more than the Democrats have played them to be,” Huckabee said.

Huckabee argued that Democrats “think that women are nothing more than helpless and hopeless creatures whose only goal in life is to have the government provide for them birth control medication.”

Huckabee also argued that his party is not waging a war on women.

“The fact is the Republicans don’t have a war on women, they have a war for women, to empower them to be something other than victims of their gender,” Huckabee said.

Exhibit B:

A Republican congressman published a memoir last month in which he expresses his belief that “the wife is to submit to the husband,” The Washington Post reported on Wednesday.

Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.), a Vietnam veteran, explains in his book that families, like the military command, need a leadership structure in which every person has a role. He says the wife’s role, according to the Bible, is to be obedient to her husband.

“The wife is to voluntarily submit, just as the husband is to lovingly lead and sacrifice,” he writes. “The husband’s part is to show up during the times of deep stress, take the leadership role and be accountable for the outcome, blaming no one else.”

Pearce goes on to write that the wife should have a say in important family decisions and that her submission does mean the husband should have “authoritarian control” or be considered superior.

“The wife’s submission is not a matter of superior versus inferior; rather, it is self-imposed as a matter of obedience to the Lord and of love for her husband,” he writes.

Exhibit C:

A Kentucky lawmaker is attempting to tack an anti-abortion amendment on to a state domestic violence bill, claiming that abortion is “the most brutal form of domestic violence.”

Kentucky State Rep. Joe Fischer (R-Fort Thomas) amended the bill, which expands domestic violence protections to include dating couples, to include a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

“The most brutal form of domestic violence is the violence against unborn children. And, this particular bill would prohibit abortions after the fetus feels pain, which is 20 weeks and older,” Fischer said of his amendment, according to WFPL.

Exhibit D:

After taking a drubbing in last year’s state elections, Virginia Republicans are debating whether their party has come to be defined by its extremists. But in a congressional district in Northern Virginia, one of the state’s main instigators of culture warfare, state Sen. Richard H. “Dick” Black, is running in the Republican primary to replace longtime GOP moderate Rep. Frank Wolf, who is retiring. And he’s guaranteed to ignite wedge-issue passion. Exhibit A: As a state legislator, Black opposed making spousal rape a crime, citing the impossibility of convicting a husband accused of raping his wife “when they’re living together, sleeping in the same bed, she’s in a nightie, and so forth.”

Black has referred to emergency contraception, which does not cause abortions, as “baby pesticide.” Black also fought to block a statue of Abraham Lincoln at a former Confederate site in Richmond. He wasn’t sure, he explained at the time, that statues of Lincoln belonged in Virginia. He has argued that abortion is a worse evil than slavery. And once, to demonstrate why libraries should block pornography on their computers, Black invited a TV reporter to film him using a library terminal to watch violent rape porn.

I could go on. And on. And on.

True Freedom is Keeping Proprietary Chemicals From Regulators

[ 22 ] January 23, 2014 |

If you wanted to develop a corporation that personified evil, you couldn’t do better than Freedom Industries:

Federal and state officials were scrambling today following the surprise disclosure on Tuesday about an additional chemical that was in the tank the spilled “Crude MCHM” into the Elk River two weeks ago.

Freedom Industries disclosed the information to state and federal regulators on Tuesday morning, but health impacts of the chemical remain unclear, and Freedom Industries has claimed the exact identity of the substance is “proprietary.”

In an email to state officials Tuesday night and a press statement this morning, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control noted that data about the potential health effects of the chemical “PPH” are — like the information on Crude MCHM — “very limited.”

The EPA could do something about this:

Denison wondered if the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency would exercise its rarely used authority under the Toxic Substances Control Act to compel disclosure of the exact identity of PPH.

Terri White, an EPA spokeswoman, did not respond to requests for comment.

We’ll see if they do. This should be a clear call for an Obama EPA.

Today in the Sixth Extinction

[ 12 ] January 23, 2014 |

The situation for rhinos in southern Africa is grim indeed.

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