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The place where the world comes together in honesty and mirth.
Windmills Tilted, Scared Cows Butchered, Lies Skewered on the Lance of Reality ... or something to that effect.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Daily Drift

It's been that kind of day ...

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Today is - Freethinkers Day

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Today in History

1813 Jane Austin publishes Pride and Prejudice.
1861 Kansas is admitted into the Union as the 34th state.
1862 William Quantrill and his Confederate raiders attack Danville, Kentucky.
1918 The Supreme Allied Council meets at Versailles.
1926 Violette Neatley Anderson becomes the first African-American woman admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court.
1929 The Seeing Eye, America's first school for training dogs to guide the blind, founded in Nashville, Tennessee.
1931 Winston Churchill resigns as Stanley Baldwin's aide.
1942 German and Italian troops take Benghazi in North Africa.
1944 The world's greatest warship, Missouri, is launched.
1950 Riots break out in Johannesburg, South Africa, over the policy of Apartheid.
1967 Thirty-seven civilians are killed by a U.S. helicopter attack in Vietnam.
1979 President Jimmy Carter commutes the sentence of Patty Hearst.
1984 President Ronald Reagan announces that he will run for a second term.
1984 The Soviets issue a formal complaint against alleged U.S. arms treaty violations.
1991 Iraqi forces attack into Saudi Arabian town of Kafji, but are turned back by Coalition forces.

Non Sequitur


Physicist says he's solved the big mystery - how life came from matter - and he may be right

by Travis Gettys
The origin of life is basically inevitable from a mathematical standpoint, according to one physicist, and "should be as unsurprising as rocks rolling downhill."
Jeremy England, an assistant professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said he's developed a mathematical formula to explain his theory that matter necessarily acquires the key attributes for life if placed under certain conditions.
The 31-year-old England theorized that a group of atoms driven by an external energy source, such as the sun, and placed in a heat bath, such as the ocean or atmosphere, will eventually restructure itself to disperse heat - a defining characteristic of life.

Did you know ...

About these 10 signs religious fundamentalism is is on the decline

These 5 extremist christian "science" teachings

Here's 14 things that will be cheaper in 2014

The AP says Zimmerman painting is a copy of an AP photo

That the Houston cops cuff and detain a man for giving money to the homeless

About how the Clinton surpluses turned into 6 trillion dollar deficit

That from California to Korea, the pentagon runs nearly 200 golf courses

The repugicans Are In Total Retreat As Obamacare Enrollment Skyrockets Past 3 Million

The defeated repugican anti-Obamacare forces are in full retreat after ACA enrollment in healthcare plans surged past 3 million.
In a blog post, HHS reported that,
Since the beginning of open enrollment, millions of Americans are gaining access to health coverage-many for the very first time—thanks to the Affordable Care Act. The most recent data indicates that approximately 3.0 million people have now enrolled in a private health insurance plan through the Federal and State-based Marketplaces since October 1.
Additionally, between October and December over 6.3 million individuals were determined eligible to enroll in Medicaid or CHIP through state agencies and through state-based Marketplaces. These numbers include both Medicaid and CHIP new eligibility determinations in states that expanded coverage, determinations made on prior law, and in some states, Medicaid renewals and groups not affected by the health care law. This does not include eligibility determinations made through HealthCare.gov.
800,000 people have signed up in the few weeks between late December and January 15. This surge in enrollment means that the administration is only 300,000 behind their original target of 3.3 million enrollees. Once the full numbers for January are released, it is expected that the ACA will not only be on target, but may be ahead of schedule.
The mainstream media isn’t reporting this, but the ACA is turning into a huge victory for President Obama.
Before leaving on their current vacation, repugicans signaled their defeat by voting to fund the healthcare law for 2014. Now repugicans like John Boehner and John McCain are completely dropping the repeal and only repeal ruse, and suggesting that the repugican cabal needs to come up with its own healthcare alternative.
It’s too late for alternative plans. The ACA is the law of the land. Millions of people have signed up. This isn’t a policy discussion anymore. Republicans can’t escape the fact that any alternative that they suggest will involve taking health insurance away from millions of people.
The time for repugicans to suggest policy alternatives was in 2009 and 2010, but they chose to demonize the ACA instead of engaging in a serious discussion about healthcare. They put all of their eggs in the ACA failure basket, and now that the program is a success, they suddenly want to talk about healthcare.
The ACA was the original repugican healthcare plan. Anything that they come up with now will be smoke and mirrors that won’t cover the uninsured.
The repugicans are being proven wrong every single day on the ACA. The repugican cabal is still going to try to sucker their base with talk of repeal during the 2014 election campaign, but they are in full retreat. There will be no repeal. It is unlikely the law will ever be replaced. The ACA is here to stay.

Senate repugicans To Announce Plan To Take Away Healthcare from 10 Million Americans

Senate repugicans are about to propose an alternative to Obamacare that involves taking health insurance coverage away from nearly 10 million people, and replacing it with a tax credit.
On Face The Nation Bill Kristol broke the news,
Senior repugicans senators tomorrow are going to lay out the outlines of legislation, which I think will become real legislation, that would be a wingnut alternative to Obamacare. It would deal with the preexisting condition problem. It would have tax credits for the poor. It would get rid of the ridiculous bureaucracy regulation limitations of Obamacare, and I think this will be Senators Coburn, Senator Coburn who’s retiring very well respected, Senator Hatch whose the ranking Republican of the Finance Committee, will become chairman of Senate Finance next year if Republicans win the Senate, and Senator Burr who’s senior on the Health Committee, so this is a serious piece of legislation. It could get pretty across the board support from repugicans. There’s some tweaks in it. There will be some debate among repugicans and wingnuts about how generous to be with the subsidies, with the tax credits and so forth, but I really think it will make it harder for the president and Democrats to say that repugicans have no alternative.
Bob Schieffer ask Kristol if this could pass, and Kristol’s response revealed the depths of repugican delusions about Obamacare, “If repugicans win the Senate in November, I think in 2015 you could imagine a repugican Senate and a repugican House passing this. The repugican House might even pass it this year, then it’s up to the president whether he wants to abandon Obamacare and sign on to a sensible healthcare reform.”
The plan that Kristol hinted at sounds a lot like John McCain’s healthcare reform plan when he ran for office in 2008. Basically, the repugican plan is gut the ACA’s regulations and requirements that insurance companies have to sell a good product at an affordable price, kill the ACA and replace it with a tax credit.
The practical effect of what repugicans are proposing is to take away access to healthcare from the 3 million plus who have signed up through the exchanges and the 6.3 million people who are eligible for coverage under the Medicaid expansion.
So the repugican plan is to take healthcare away from nearly 10 million Americans, and replace their health insurance with a tax credit. The repugican plan would take away access to healthcare for 20 million Americans, and it will do nothing to cover the uninsured and expand coverage.
The repugicans aren’t interested in proposing real healthcare reform. They are trying to score cheap political points by reviving and tweaking the same garbage healthcare proposal they have been pushing for nearly a decade. By proposing a healthcare reform that would take away coverage from millions of people, The repugicans are setting themselves up for a major political fall.
In short, the repugican plan to reform healthcare is to make sure that fewer people have health insurance. I can’t wait for them to try and sell this to voters ahead of 2014 election. This is an example of how the repugican cabal excels at finding new and different ways to self destruct. Please proceed, repugicans. Please proceed.

While Lying About the ACA Ted Cruz Demands An Apology From President Obama

While lying about the ACA on Face The Nation, Ted Cruz had the gall to demand an apology from President Obama for things that have never happened.
Transcript via Face The Nation:
BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, of course what he would say is that he is creating more jobs, that unemployment is going down and on and on. But we’ll leave that for the Democrats to talk about. Lemme ask you this. You became a celebrity when you led the drive to shut down the government over Obamacare. But afterwards, your fellow repugicans said you’d led them over a cliff. Can you conceive of any situation in which you would do that again, try to shut down the government in exchange or in demand for some action by the president?
SEN. TED CRUZ: Well, Bob, with all due respect, I don’t agree with the premise of your question. Throughout the government shutdown, I opposed a government shutdown. I said we shouldn’t shut down the government. I think it was a mistake that President Obama and the Democrats shut the government down this fall.
The reason they did so is that President Obama dug in and said he wouldn’t compromise and he wouldn’t negotiate. In fact, I went to one of the most surreal meetings I’ve ever been at, where President Obama invited all the senate repugicans to go up to the White House. He sat us in a room. This is in the middle of the shutdown.

And he said, “I invited you here to tell you I will not negotiate. I will not compromise on anything.” That’s why we had a shutdown. That was a mistake. But, you know, in terms of whether we should’ve stood and fought on Obamacare, I think the proof is in the pudding. Millions of people across the country have seen now why we were standing and fighting, because Obamacare’s a disaster.
And, you know, for the State of the Union, one of the things President Obama really oughta do is look in the TV camera and say to the over five million Americans all across this country who’ve had their health insurance canceled because of Obamacare, to look in the camera and say, “I’m sorry. I told you if you like your health insurance plan, you can keep it.
“I told you if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. And that wasn’t true. I’m sorry.” But then, Bob, here’s the real kicker. If you’re really sorry, you don’t just say you’re sorry. You actually do something to fix the problem. The pattern we’ve seen over and over again with this president is he says–
SEN. TED CRUZ: –he’s sorry and he expresses outrage but then he doesn’t fix the problem. He keeps doing it over and over again.
As usual, everything Sen. Cruz said about the ACA was a total lie. The biggest lie that Cruz is clinging to is that 5 million people have lost their insurance. A report from the Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee found that of the millions who received cancelation notices, the actual number of people who lost their insurance is 10,000. Of the 99.8% who received a cancelation notice, millions renewed their existing policy and an additional 1.4 million are eligible for federal subsidies through the exchange.
As far as the problem not being fixed is concerned, in the middle of November 2013, President Obama allowed people to keep their insurance plans that had been canceled because they did not meet the original ACA requirements. The ACA is turning out to be the exact opposite of the disaster that Sen. Cruz is describing. Three million people have signed up for coverage, and another 6.3 million are eligible for the Medicaid expansion.
What is the President supposed to be apologizing for? The truth did creep in to the conversation as Cruz slightly changed one of his talking points. Instead of the president lied about being able to keep your plan, he’s now saying that the president lied about being able to keep your doctor. However, not being able to keep your doctor isn’t something that’s exclusive to the ACA. Insurance plans, and the doctors who accept them, change on a regular basis. It is not unusual to have to go see a different doctor at some point because they either stop taking your insurance, or they leave an insurance company’s provider network. It happens every year.
Ted Cruz is lying about the ACA, and demanding that President Obama apologize for things that have not happened. Cruz has invented his own Obamacare reality. He is still trotting out the same lies that he touting during the government shutdown. Sen. Cruz has managed to rewrite history to absolve from any blame from the government shutdown that he caused, and he expects President Obama to apologize for Cruz’s imaginary Obamacare disaster.
Sen. Cruz is one who owes America an apology for orchestrating a government shutdown that cost taxpayers $24 billion. President Obama has nothing to apologize for. In fact, he deserves praise for opening the door for tens of millions of Americans to get access to affordable health care.
It is the height of arrogance for Ted Cruz to demand anything from President Obama. Cruz is entitled to nothing, but the contempt and scorn that he has already earned from millions of Americans.
Just remember, as Ted Cruz enjoys his Goldman Sachs provided health insurance, he wants to take yours away.

Explaining the Debt Ceiling for Dummies – The repugican Edition

by Allen Clifton  
debtceilingWords really don’t convey how annoying the “debt ceiling debate” has become for me.  I struggle to even call it a debate because anyone who’s really considering not raising it is a damn fool – and you shouldn’t debate with fools.
I don’t even mind if you want to use the act of raising the debt ceiling as a catalyst to talk about ways we might address our national debt.  We do have to tackle our national debt so that’s a real debate that we can always address.  Granted, Republicans and Democrats almost completely disagree on how to address it, but it’s still a logical debate to have.

But whether or not to raise the debt ceiling isn’t a debate! 
Here’s the official description from the U.S. Department of the Treasury:
The debt limit is the total amount of money that the United States government is authorized to borrow to meet its existing legal obligations, including Social Security and Medicare benefits, military salaries, interest on the national debt, tax refunds, and other payments. The debt limit does not authorize new spending commitments. It simply allows the government to finance existing legal obligations that Congresses and presidents of both parties have made in the past.
It “does not authorize new spending commitments.”
This is something every single repugican in Congress knows.  So when they sit there and repeat their worn out propaganda (which is exactly what it is – blatant propaganda) about raising the debt ceiling is tantamount to “giving the president a blank check,” they’re flat-out lying.
The debt ceiling is simply a procedural vote that allows the United States government to pay money that it’s already agreed to pay. 
Also known as money we’ve already approved to spend in various spending bills passed by Congress. Again, it has nothing to do with new spending.  
This isn’t a complicated situation, because again – there is no debate.
The repugicans can lie about it all day, while Faux News and other wingnut media outlets support their propaganda – but that doesn’t change the reality of what raising the debt ceiling means.
And let’s not forget that repugicans did it seven times during the shrub’s eight junta.  Amazing how they didn’t seem to mind doing it nearly every year when a repugican squatted in the White House.

So, once again, the debt ceiling is not about new spending.  It’s not about “handing over a blank check to the president.”  All it does is allow the government to pay its bills on money we’ve already agreed to spend.
That’s it.  No debate.  No spin.  No partisan politics.
The End.
Yes, it’s really that simple.

Why the hyper-rich turn into crybabies when "one percent" is invoked

The Wall Street Journal published a letter by Tom Perkins (the "Perkins" in the venture capital firm "Kleiner Perkins") in which he compared rhetoric about the unjust riches of the "1 percent" to the events of Kristallnacht, the overture to the Holocaust. In a terrific editorial, Josh Marshall explains why the hyper-rich turn into such crybabies when it's pointed out that they've gamed the system so that they grow richer and richer while everyone else gets poorer:
One is the simple but massive run up in the concentration of wealth itself over the past two generations. There's a slice of the population, whether it's the top 1% or .01% or whatever, that doesn't just have more stuff and money. The sheer scale of the difference means they live what is simply a qualitatively different kind of existence. That gulf creates estrangement and alienation, and one of a particular sort in a democracy where such a minuscule sliver of the population can't hope to protect itself alone at the ballot box.
Let's call this socioeconomic acrophobia.
A second is tied specifically to the 2008 financial crisis. The last 35 years or so have seen a period in which the celebration of wealth and the wealthy has been near the extreme end of the pendulum swing that has moved back and forth over the course of American history. Let's not distract ourselves, for the moment, with whether this view is right or wrong. It's a pendulum swing as old as America. In this view, the super rich, the founders and most successful entrepreneurs, not only wow us by their genius and success but are also seen as the people driving forward the society and economy and prosperity for everyone. That's a nice climate to be wealthy in.
That all changed very abruptly at the end of 2008.
Suddenly, there was vast public animus at "Wall Street" and the Big Banks, exacerbated massively by the politics of the bailout. And not just from the left but from the right too, though in a different form. Pretty deserved on many levels: the financial sector, the figurative "Wall Street", had come close to crashing the global economic system by a mix of irresponsible risk taking and gaming the political system to permit this high-risk, wealth-juicing leverage. But if we're to understand the psychology of the individuals involved we must appreciate the whipsaw nature of that experience.

Mitch McConnell Threatens To Destroy The Economy Unless Obama Approves Keystone XL

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (r-KY) made an appearance on Faux News Sunday this past Sunday. Speaking with host Chris Wallace, McConnell touched on a variety of subjects, ranging from the minimum wage, unemployment benefits and the repugican cabl’s chances of taking over the Senate. However, the most interesting part of the interview came when Wallace started discussing the upcoming debt ceiling with the Senator. McConnell basically stated that the repugicans will once again try to use the debt limit as a hostage to get what they want.

WALLACE: You heard, as you were coming in, my discussion with Dan Pfeiffer about raising the debt limit. After the government shutdown in October, which repugicans took the hit for, you were quoted as saying, “We are not going to threaten default again by attaching conditions.” But more recently, you said you don’t think there’s any chance that a clean, without any condition debt bill could get through the Senate.
So, which is it?
MCCONNELL: Well, those statements are not inconsistent. I mean, some of the most significant legislation passed in the last 50 years have been in conjunction with the debt ceiling, Congressional Review Act, the Clinton and repugican Congress deficit reduction package in the late ’90s that led to three years in a row of balanced budgets, the Budget Control Act we just did in 2011.
I think for the president to ask for a clean debt ceiling when we have the debt the size of our economy is irresponsible.
So, we ought to discuss adding something to his request to raise the debt ceiling that does something about the debt or produces at least something positive for our country.
WALLACE: But you just heard Dan Pfeiffer say the president is where he is and he’s not going to bargain. He’s not going to put something on the debt limit. The fact is, and, you know, they talk about the definition of insanity of doing the same thing over and over again –
WALLACE: – and expecting different result. When you get in these crises, whether it’s a government shutdown or a possible default, the public tends to side with the president at a time when the president’s numbers are low and you’ve got ObamaCare creating a lot of concerns about this president, you really want to get in a fight over the debt limit?
MCCONNELL: What we want to do is try to accomplish something for the country and I think the president — any president’s request to raise the debt ceiling, whether this one or previous presidents, is a good opportunity to try to do something about the debt. I think the president is taking an unreasonable position to suggest that we ought to treat his request to raise the debt ceiling like some kind of motherhood resolution that everybody says aye and we don’t do anything, when we have the stagnant economy and this massive debt created under his administration.
WALLACE: So, are you saying right here, we are going to attach something to the debt ceiling? And if so, what?
MCCONNELL: What I’m saying is we ought to attach something significant for the country to his request to increase the debt ceiling. That’s been the pattern for 50 years going back to the Eisenhower administration.
I think it’s the responsible thing to do for the country. I think he’s the one being irresponsible by saying oh, just raise the debt ceiling. We’re not going to do anything about the debt or anything else that’s important to the country.
WALLACE: Any specific idea?
MCCONNELL: Keystone Pipeline, a good example of something that would create jobs for the American people. The House of Representatives will initiate the discussion on the debt ceiling increase. They probably will have other ideas.
There you have it. McConnell said that he is going to use the debt ceiling to get the Keystone XL pipeline approved. While repugicans keep touting the project as a jobs provider and a path towards energy independence, it will not do either of those things. Instead, it is something the Koch Brothers want passed so they can rake in billions and billions of dollars. In essence, it is yet another social welfare program for billionaires that repugicans are trying to sell to the American public as necessary for the economy and the country’s energy needs.
What I found entertaining in the interview is that Wallace tried to enlighten the Senator that fighting over the debt ceiling is going to be a loser for the repugican cabal. Yet, McConnell still went ahead and pointed out that he is going to try to use the ‘negotiations’ to get perks for his rich buddies. Of course, there will be no negotiations because the President has stated time and time again that he will not place the full faith and credit of the United States on the line, especially when repugicans are trying to use it as a hostage to get things that they want.
With the national deficit shrinking at the fastest rate since World War II, repugicans don’t have a leg to stand on when it comes to making demands around raising the debt ceiling. Yet, they still insist on making attempts to do real damage to the economy and the country as a whole just to get their way. In the end, they will once again take us to the brink and face real political damage by doing it. They haven’t learned a thing since taking over the House in 2010. Somehow, they believe that government should work by temper tantrum.

The Real World Story of Human Lives Sacrificed at the Altar of Deregulation

I went to one of those “poisoned citizens” meetings the other night. It was a community meeting called by a couple of outside law firms that have just sued a number of corporate polluters for freely releasing their deadly environmental cargo upon unsuspecting and vulnerable neighbors. The community gathering was held in a Spartanburg, South Carolina hotel. Cannon’s Campground residents were there in force. They’re proud, hard working and contributing members of society and, thanks to repugican-enabling destruction of unions and wages, don’t have the proverbial pot to piss in. What a great number of them do have is cancer.
Many of their number are sick as dogs with existing cancers, leukemia, tumors and other physical insults caused by living too close to a certain kind of manufacturing facility; the kind that pollutes your water, property, possessions and loved ones while the state of South Carolina, its elected representatives and the governor look the other way…and have for decades!
The first couple I met included a husband who has suffered, really suffered, from lung cancer. He’s had a lung removed and, frankly, doesn’t look too good. He told me a half-dozen of his fellow workers and neighboring friends have died of cancer.
During the meeting, a man of about 50 told of battling thyroid cancer, repeated kidney stones and having half a lung removed. The lady sitting two seats down is currently battling a serious cancer. It seemed every other seat was occupied with somebody that either had cancer, lived next door to a sufferer or lost somebody near and dear to them to lung cancer or leukemia or whatever other health effect death-ray carcinogens can bring.
I’d say every resident of the affected area in attendance had been impacted by illness and death almost certainly caused by chemicals originating at the plant site in question, a former Hoechst Celanese manufacturing site. Hoechst sold off the the most offensive site and a number of companies have come and gone from the compressed cluster of sites in the last decades. The suit covers the time span from 1967 to the present time. Most of the corporate occupants are included in the suit, being accused of leaving a deadly trail of deadly stuff in their wake.
January 7 of this year, a couple of law firms decided to file the class action suit in the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina. The action makes for 92 pages of interesting, if grotesque, reading. I commend it to you. You’ll be stunned by the repeated and dangerous and, most likely, deadly ineptness.
It’s what progressives are talking about when they bitch about pollution and its impact on populations. Here is the best reasoning for the action taken from the lawsuit, itself.
“For over 40 years, numerous corporate entities have polluted the groundwater of the Cannon’s Campground community and the surface water of the nearby Pacolet River and its tributary creeks by improperly handling and disposing hazardous chemicals that were either components or by-products of the polyester manufacturing process conducted at what is commonly referred to as the Hoechst-Celanese manufacturing plant and its neighboring facilities
The extent of the pollution poses an imminent and substantial endangerment to the health of the members of the community and to the environment itself and was carried out—and is still being carried out—by the owners of the plant in violation of federal and South Carolina law.”
The defendants, with Hoechst Celanese as their centerpiece, are mostly in the polymer manufacturing business and are from far-flung regions of the globe, many corporately intertwined with Celanese. You see, not only does the U.S. send their s**t polluters overseas, other countries return the favor. There are so many mergers, spinoffs and ownership changes, that getting much of anything from these outfits will be an incredible challenge.
The section on violating state and federal law is a stretch since state regulations and their enforcement or punitive action by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is laughable to the point of embarrassment. At many stages, Celanese self-reported to the state. What they and DHEC didn’t do in far too many cases was any followup or warnings.
The state, its agencies and elected and appointed officials currently do everything possible to kiss corporate butt even when it means sacrificing human life. Oh, they’ll make promises. DHEC keeps promising to check this and that; sometimes they do, sometimes not. They run phony studies and often proclaim that the accused corporations hands are clean, when the immediate residential and surrounding areas are filthy with carcinogenic chemicals.
A recent study example exposed by a former resident, was a combined DHEC and federal EPA study that found no cancer clusters adjacent to the sites. Of course they expanded the study area to the entire zip code, well beyond the immediate areas of the plant to dilute and distort the results.
In one case DHEC was told of 20 private wells that were at risk. Apparently, none of the owners were ever notified whether anything was done. Residents of a mobile home park ACROSS THE STREET from a plant were not told of chemical problems years ago. In another case, a company estimated a release of 1,4-Dioxane, claiming 11,200 pounds one year. The actual figure, 52,743 pounds.
A Celanese spokesman was quoted in the paper as saying “There was no connection between contaminated groundwater at the site and the groundwater in the communities because the areas are separated by streams acting as discharge boundaries.” He ignores overwhelming evidence that local citizens are surrounded by deadly cancer-causing chemicals above them, below them, in their well water, streams, even in the bedrock. The community is one big concentration camp of dire health risks.
A piece of bad news is that in terms of “smokestack” pollution, it’s very difficult to pin its consequences on one company. All that mixture of crap don’t you know. And on an individual basis, for lung cancer sufferers, the first question out of the corporate lawyers mouth: “DO YOU OR HAVE YOU EVER SMOKED?”
Then there are time considerations. The defendants will try to get the suit tossed. If unsuccessful, they’ll employ every delaying tactic known to the legal profession. A decade to a decision is not out of the question followed by a year or two for the miniscule payout.
I looked over the crowd at one point. Politically, they weren’t my people. I doubt they suffered the gay population kindly. There was faux-camo garb everywhere. Theirs were multi-gun homes and the men were mostly tough looking customers hardened by decades of hard labor. If they voted, they almost certainly followed tea party directives.
These are people who need to be Democrats. Maybe a few will realize what great harm tea party policies are bringing to them and their families.

Subway Partners With Michelle Obama, wingnuts Lose Their Minds With Hate

by Erin Nanasi 

SubwayThis past Thursday, Subway announced they were joining Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign. They posted the following statement to their Facebook page:
So proud to team up with the Partnership for a Healthier America and the First Lady’s Let’s Move initiative in our continued effort to offer healthier choices to families and encourage kids to pile on the veggies!

Given how many obese kids there are in America, I don’t see how anyone could possibly have a problem with this. Subway has been marketing their food as a healthy alternative to standard fast food fare for years, and millions of people love Subway sandwiches and salads. Heck, Subway gave us Jared Fogle.

Statistical Fact

What’s the difference between the average male teen and the nerd teen? Not as much as you might think. The illustration makes the picture much more clear, so to speak. Statistical Fact is the name of the webcomic by Eric Erbes, and in no way implies that I checked out the numbers behind the assertion.

Texas governor Rick Perry moots pot decriminalization

Texas Governor Rick Perry has endorsed the idea of decriminalizing marijuana. Note that this is not Colorado/Washington-style legalization (which would give Texas access to a flood of tax-dollars from a legal industry), rather, it's decriminalization, which means that you will get a ticket if you get caught with small amounts of pot. That deprives the state of tax revenue, but saves the state some money on the prison system, and allows police the all-important discretion to disproportionately hassle brown people and anyone they find suspicious

Buddhist Student Told to Change his Religion if he Doesn’t Want to be Taught Creationism in School

The Louisiana teacher's logic is that "if evolution was real, it would still be happening: Apes would be turning into humans today."
We hear constantly of this imagined war on christmas and by extension, on christianity, how christians are so persecuted in this country for their beliefs. Yet it isn’t christians who are being told by teachers that they’re stupid or that if they don’t like evolution they should become atheists. No, that is what christians are doing to non-christians. Which is no surprise really, since however enlightened some christians might be today, the false cult of christianity has a 2,000 year-old history of this type of behavior. At Negreet High School in Sabine Parish, Louisiana, teacher Rita Roark told class of sixth graders that god made the universe 6,000 years ago, that evolution is impossible, and that the Bible is “100 percent true.” Obviously, none of those kids are going to grow up to become astrophysicists without some deprogramming.
Her logic was that, “if evolution was real, it would still be happening: Apes would be turning into humans today.”
Apparently, Roark learned logic atthe same school as Ted Nugent.
One test question stated, “ISN’T IT AMAZING WHAT THE _____________ HAS MADE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
Students were expected to fill in the blank – with “lord.” I mean, who else in Louisiana, home of the Duck Dynasty?
One student, however, who is of Thai descent and who happens to be a Buddhist, declined to play that game and wrote in something else – “lord Buddha.” Roark chose to respond by publicly humiliating him in front of the class, saying “Yes! That is right! I had a student miss that on his test.”
I don’t remember that happening when I got a math question wrong. Or science. I don’t remember my teachers feeling the need to have the whole class laugh at me.
But this isn’t science or math. This is religion. Religion is being taught in our public schools. I thought it was bad enough when my son’s own school snuck in “god bless America” at a Broadway musical show put on by the students by appealing to its status as a song from a Broadway play.
But this is beyond the pale. And it gets worse.
When told that the student was Buddhist and did not believe in God, Roark’s response was an outraged, “you’re stupid if you don’t believe in god.” Sounding more like Nugent with every utterance, she also said Buddhism was itself “stupid.”
When his parents complained to Sabine Parish Superintendent Sara Ebarb, Ebarb unhelpfully advised them that “this is the Bible belt” and that they have to expect to “see god here.” Her solution was that the student change his religion.
Or move to another school district where “there are more Asians.” This is the option the family eventually took, moving their son to a school 25 miles away.
The ACLU has taken this case and filed suit. Both the Department of Education and the Department of Justice are investigating. But however it turns out, this is just one more example of how whatever the Religio-wingnuts say, the opposite is true. And however it turns out, the way in which it will be presented by the wingnut media and by the repugican cabal and religio-wingnuts is that a christian teacher is being persecuted for standing up for her beliefs. Faux News so far has brushed over the incident, without providing a link to the ACLU suit in question, or providing the ugly specifics in the case.
No mention will be made that the Constitution is being violated, and, in fact, they will; continue to pretend to be protecting the First Amendment of the Constitution.
Because there is no crime for those who have christ. It was that way in the fifth century when the Egyptian monk Shenoute burned his Pagan neighbors house, and it is that way today in America, where laws are being formulated to forgive any crime on account of religious belief.
It is not christians being persecuted in the United States, but non-christians: atheists, Buddhists, Muslims, Pagans – anyone who declines to accept the “lord jesus christ.”
At least the lord jesus christ the religio-wingnuts insist upon. You can bet your bottom dollar jesus himself would be driven out of these schools if he showed up today. After all, as Ann Coulter said on the Donny Deutsch show, “We just want jews to be perfected” and the big strike against jesus of Nazareth in evangelical eyes is that the poor guy – well, besides being poor and unemployed and an immigrant (Nothing good comes out of Galilee) – was an unperfected jew.

Time Warp: The Modern religio-wingnuts and American theocracy

Today's wingnut repugicans yearn for a much simpler time. Unfortunately, that time occurred two millennia ago and bears no resemblance to the modern day.…
Today’s repugicans are stuck in time.
religious right The repglicans in the year 2014 yearn for a past that fits their idyllic view of what life should be like.  They clamor for a time and place that they believe best represents their view of an ideal society.  For many repugicans today, it can be argued that their utopian society occurred during the 1950s, a time where America prospered both domestically as well as internationally and was seen as the envy of the world.  It was this time and place that many repugicans reference when they describe how far America has come since its “glory age” of the 1950s.
However, upon closer examination, the rosy retrospection that repugicans give this era does not hold up under scrutiny.  For example, the 1950s was a time period of extreme civil unrest and a period consisting of rampant discrimination of minorities, especially in the south.  Sure, American universities were the envy of the world, but it also helped that during that time period, the top marginal tax rate was 90% on the wealthiest Americans.  And, despite being the preeminent world power, the United States was not involved in any prolonged internationally conflict, thus leaving our military industrial complex starving as we as a nation were temporarily unable to quench our hunger for some kind of international conflict.
It is with this realization in mind that today’s repugican cabal has been forced to find an alternate time period that best exemplifies their views.  For them, it has to be a time period that is both well-chronicled as well as historically significant.  It has to be a time period viewed favorably by a large percentage of Americans and it has to be one where most Americans have an appreciation of the people and what they were going through at that time.  Lastly, it has to be a time period where the actions of the people could be understood as necessarily for a way to continue to live their life the way they most saw fit.
For today’s repugicans the answer is simple:  They yearn for life in modern-day America to be exactly like it was 2,000 years ago in the Middle East.
Time and time again, repugicans publicly express views in which the vast majority of Americans do not agree.  Whether it’s Mike Huckabee claiming women are sex-crazed nymphomaniacs or repugicans ignoring scientific evidence of global warming, it seems that today’s repugican cabal refuses to acknowledge the rapidly changing demographics of 21st century America.  Time and time again they seem to be on the wrong side of every major issue facing this country:  Gay marriage, legalized marijuana, immigration reform, a raised minimum wage, the rights of unions, environmental regulations, and the list goes on and on.  Why is it that a modern-day political party in a two-system state would literally be on the wrong side of every major important political issue of the day and would, in turn, be unwilling to compromise its views even if it meant certain electoral defeat in national elections?
The answer lies in the ultimate aspirations of the repugican cabal:  To have a 21st century American theocracy.
The signs have always been there, albeit in small patches.  States like Texas beginning to teach creationism in schools.  The repugican cabal’s self-delusionsal annual War On Xmas during the holiday season.  A state keeping a brain-dead woman alive so that her child may be born because that state values the sanctity of life of the unborn child.  It is cases that these that show the modern repugican cabal is slowly trying to create a modern nation-state that adheres to the values and principals of the Middle East just over 2,000 years ago.
As absurd as it sounds, one can’t help but notice the similarities.  During the time of christ, there was an extreme discrepancy between the wealthy and the poor.  Those in the lower classes did not have the same rights as those wealthy property owners.  Women were expected to be subservient to their husbands.  War and conflict were common and those that were successful in war often reached the highest rung of society.  Homosexuality was not common and was seen as deviant behavior.  Religion was at the center of daily life and it offered the only way to atone for a person’s sins.
Sound familiar?
Today’s repugican cabal consists of an unholy alliance between the business wing of the cabal and the religio-wingnuts.  What better way to meld the two seemingly unrelated groups than through a religious lens?  What today’s repugican cabal has done has been to essentially use the views of the religio-wingnuts to convince Americans that the current path we’re on is not a desirable one.  Today’s repugican cabal believes that the time of jesus christ was one that should be emulated today.  Never mind the fact that the Middle East of 2,000 years ago was a time of extreme strife and violence.  No, what matters to today’s repugicans is that they can easily manipulate their base’s perceptions of a time period that happened so long ago.  By convincing their religious core that the United States is moving further and further away from what it was like in jesus’ time, the repugican cabal is attempting to convince Americans today that the country is heading down a path that will ultimately lead to death and destruction unless the country comes around and stands up to this terrible onslaught.
Unfortunately for the repugican cabal, Americans today realize that no matter how much they want it to be, America is not a christian theocracy.



It's all in the mind ...

The glorification of models is especially troubling for women, as they see thinness being associated with beauty, leading to eating disorders. But just how long does it take to affect someone? Laci answers this tough question.
Could you manipulate anyone into doing anything for you? Probably not, but there are some ways to make the odds more in your favor. Sit down with Laci as she tells you exactly what you need to do to get anything you want. Sort of.
People who claim to have ESP are picking up on something, but it's not brain waves. Laci and Anthony discuss how your super-sleuth brain can pick up on a lot of subtle nuances, maybe even one that could help you solve a murder.

R. Crumb print: On the Crest of a Wave

 This is one of my favorite Crumb covers.
In 1990, Crumb drew this cartoon for the cover of Fantagraphic's The Complete Crumb Volume 6. The volume contained his work created on the crest of the wave, late 1969 and early 1970, just before the youth movement came crashing down. Crumb's talents as an editorial cartoonist are well displayed here, humorously summarizing his generation's youthful and naive expectation for a better world. Crumb recently told printer Alex Wood, "There were very few people who were aware the wave was going to crash when we were on the crest." And the cartoon depicts this: there are several terrified hippies who are aware of the impending confrontation with reality. Crumb reworked the illustration for this etching edition. Image size: aproximately 9" x 7". Emboss size: 10" x 8.5". Paper size: 14" x 13". Printed on archival Hahnemuhle paper. 50 in the edition, 5 artist proofs, 3 printer proofs. Guaranteed satisfaction.

Elementary School Students Discover A Slave Burial Ground

Students and teachers from a school in the South Bronx saw an old photo entitled “Slave Burying Ground” and decided to track down the location of the burial ground in the pic.
Using census data, maps and old city documents they were able to pinpoint the location to just outside the Joseph Rodman Drake Park in Hunt’s Point, uncovering an unmarked slave burial ground hundreds of years old.
The location was confirmed by researchers, who had previously discovered the bodies using radar but had yet to officially recognize the plot as historically significant. Now credit for the discovery will go to those inquisitive students from P.S. 48, and a little piece of New York's history will be uncovered.

Antique Machine Plays Violin

Swedish-American inventor Henry Konrad Sandell designed this device, the Mills Violano Virtuoso. It's like a mechanical player piano, but it plays a violin. He patented it in 1905 along with Henry S. Mills of the Mills Novelty Company, a firm that made a wide variety of coin operated machines. Later designs added a piano in order to make the music more enjoyable than a solo violin could manage. Here's how the violin component functioned:
The strings are bowed by four small wheels made of discs of celluloid clamped together, applying just the right pressure to the strings. These are driven by a delicate variable speed controlled motor to vary the volume of sound produced. The vibrato is produced by shaking the tailpiece of the violin with a series of pneumatic pistons operated by a vacuum pump.
Some models had not just 1, but 2 violins. You can watch a video below of one of these Double Deluxe Violano Virtuosos.

From Hummingbird Heads To Poison Rings

Indulging Our Antique Jewelry Obsession

Did you know jewelry used to be a lot wilder than it is now? Women once wore dead birds, hair-braid bracelets, and skeleton figures. You won't believe these 25 spectacular jewelry finds.

Collectors Weekly has an interview with jewelry historian Monica McLaughlin. Every so often, she unearths the most breathtaking, bizarre, and unbelievably intricate works of antique fine jewelry.

Daily Comic Relief


History, Science and Frankenstein

The new film 'I, Frankenstein' is the latest update to a 200-year-old cautionary tale about science and technology.

The Last Days of Blackbeard

Blackbeard was the most famous of all the 18-century pirates that looted and plundered their way around the New World. He commandeered ship after ship, freed slaves, enriched the towns in which his crew took refuge, and became a folk hero. And did it all in a career that lasted only about five years!
Over the first three weeks of October 1717, Blackbeard terrorized the approaches to the Chesapeake Bay, Philadelphia and New York Harbor, never staying more than 48 hours in one place. He captured at least 15 vessels, becoming the most feared pirate in the Americas practically overnight. Traumatized captains poured into Philadelphia and New York with tales of woe: cargoes thrown into the sea; pirates leaving vessels and their crews to run aground after hacking down their masts and cutting loose their anchors; an entire cargo of indentured servants whisked away, perhaps because they wanted to join the pirates’ ranks as so many other members of captured ships did. “Pirates...now Swarm in America and increase their numbers by almost every Vessel they take,” Philadelphia merchant James Logan wrote a friend in London after Blackbeard’s raids. “If speedy care be not taken they will become formidable...and [they] know our govern[men]t can make no defence.”
Another fascinating discovery is that there are no accounts of Blackbeard ever killing anyone. With his reputation established, he didn’t have to. An article from Smithsonian magazine examines the life of Edward Thatch, with new information gleaned from wide-ranging documents uncovered in only the past few years. It covers not only his last days, but the entire period in which Blackbeard ruled the seas.

Early Spanish Hunter-Gatherer Was Dark and Blue-Eyed

Long before there were farmers in Europe there were dark-skinned, blue-eyed hunter-gatherers who had surprisingly modern immunities to diseases.

Lingonberry Shown to Fight Fat

Lingonberries could be wonder fruits for the waist line, while a├žai berries led to fat gain in mice.

Animal News

The first shark caught under a controversial new Australian culling policy aimed at reducing fatal attacks was shot dead Sunday.
The eagle on the brink of extinction was killed inside a conservation group's breeding center when a branch fell on its cage.
As the ice melts, polar bears are shifting to land-based food, such as snow geese, eggs and caribou.
A dog's personality is revealed when walking with other dogs, new research finds. 
A wild sea otter and her baby show up at the Monterey Aquarium's tide pool area, charming everyone in sight.
The aquarium in Sochi has confirmed that it has acquired at least one orca from the wild as an attraction at the Olympic Games.
The unique mating calls accompanied by ripples in pond water attract the wrong attention.

Animal Pictures