Thursday, November 29, 2012

Some of the Rio Architecture

Rio de Janeiro's architecture is an interesting mix.  It shows the important phases of Rio's growth.  A number of colonial architecture, in phases.
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To the left is one of the churches built in a very gothic style.  This particular church is right off the main square.  When the Portuguese Royal Family fled Napoleon they took the church as a private church for the Royal Family only.
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There are lots of other Gothic type church examples.
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This is the Portuguese Literacy Center - which is the library I showcased from Rio last week.  It is in a very Portuguese Imperial Style.
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This is the Central Bank.  It is in a very Federal / Greek Revival / Edwardian style favored by governments around the world.
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These two pictures both show a style that is shared by New Orleans and Havana.  There are even many examples of this in Australia.  There are cool buildings all over.
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Right off one of the squares at the Centro Metro Stop are these 2 buildings side by side.  They are apartment towers from the 50s/60s next to an early Deco high rise.
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This Deco building was in horrible repair.  But the lines are gorgeous!
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This is the new Catholic Cathedral downtown.  It is meant to evoke a Mayan Temple (why a Mayan Temple in the middle of Brazil - who knows).  If you select this picture to expand it, you can see the Christo statue on the mountain between the Cathedral and the Bell Tower.

Now I had never been in the Cathedral before.  This time I went in and saw the 4 stained glass windows that are beautiful.  All chairs are arraigned towards center.  Hanging from the ceiling right in the middle is the cross that the Preist says Mass underneath.  (At least I think all those are the right Catholic words.)

Gloss Review (the band my nephew is in)

So my nephew Sean (in the topmost left picture with the Sibley High T-Shirt) is in a band, "Gloss."
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We Heart Music (W M - LINK) has a review of their set in at BNLXFest.  I am copying it here - and it includes a link to where you can get the song.  It's a great review.
Gloss (with my nephew in the front right)
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Gloss at Cause Spirits and Soundbar (11/17/12)

If you guy's haven't noticed, I am really fond of Gloss. And if you were at the 2nd day of BNLXFest, you were privy to why that is. 

The five-piece Gloss definitely carries all the wonderful energy of every great shoegaze and dream-pop band from past years. As the crowd packed into the cozy little venue they started with some brand new instrumental material. The instrumental was a hit, Jordan on the drums was killing it. The crowd was grooving and they cheered graciously as the song finished. Gloss definitely has that early Cure influence, but you can tell that Jeff and crew are big fans of DIIV, Wild Nothing, MBV and Sonic Youth, to name a few. 

Their set was as equally as venue-shaking as any of those bands, and as beautiful as the most crypticRobert Smith lyric. Most of the material were new debut’s, some untitled. The band told me that the two tracks after the instrumental were just titled “80’s Cheese” for now. The next two tracks sounded as if members of The Cure had enlisted a young Morrissey to douse his pained vocals with reverb. The brand new track after all the 80’s cheese is called “Jan’s Dream.” And it made their set flow beautifully. They ended it with a solid take on their single, “Front Porch.” 

These guys definitely rocked it out and impressed the crowd. Very loud cheers and applause were given for a band who help start the night out great. The word is that these fellows might be releasing something physical soon, via small Minnesota based indie label;manic pop! records. Stayed tuned, but for now check out the hypnotizing single, “Front Porch” on their Bandcamp. And catch them at the Kitty Kat Club Dec. 3rd with Carroll, Wild Cathedral, and Strange Relations. 

Fiscal Cliff: Episode 3 What if we go over it?

What happens if the USA goes over the "fiscal cliff"?  Seems a fair question giving the total absence of common sense or regard for the average American shown by both parties.
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As an aside, I tried to come up with a cartoon representation of Republicans and Democrats and this was the best I could do....
Get it?  Spineless Jellyfish in Blue and Red?  Yeah, I didn't like it that much either.

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So anyway, what happens....
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Episode 3: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly
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Tax Rates:  Well, the Bush tax cuts expire.  For everyone.  That is getting the most attention.  Democrats in the Senate have allowed a vote to continue the current tax rates for the first $250,000 of income, Republicans won't vote on anything piece meal because they say they want a comprehensive solution - and their super rich donors won't let them.  Note: The Republican position is the position shared by California and New York Democrat Senators, where $250,000 per family per year isn't considered "rich" - but the 4 of them all voted for it knowing it was a no go for the Republicans.
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Tax Rates would go back to Clinton Era rates (remember, when the deficit was being paid down and the economy was booming?).
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Other Taxes - For the middle.  If it was only the rates changing, that might not be bad. But the 2% Social Security "holiday" due to the recession will expire as well.
Other Taxes - For the High Middle. Alternative Minimum Tax (which limits your deductions) falls to Clinton Era rates and starts to bite more people.  It was designed to make sure very high earners paid something - but was never indexed to inflation
Other Taxes - For the Wealthy.  Taxes on Capital Gains (where Mittens screwed us all) raise from 15% to 20%.
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Unemployment Insurance: The unemployment insurance period will fall back to state levels (from 99 weeks  / 52 weeks currently).  They have been extended due to the recession, and will probably not be extended again in any case.
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Depending on who you are, you think some of this is good and some is bad.
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Budget Cuts: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
Well, this is a funny one.  Everyone thinks we should cut the budget, but most everyone disagrees on what should be cut.  So the idea was to cut equally what could be.  What is left out? Entitlements (Medicare / Social Security) and Interest on the Debt.  The rest is divided between Defense and Discretionary.
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Everyone has a dog in this hunt.  So I will try not to be partisan on this.  I am just turning to CBS News. (follow up below).
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So maybe, MAYBE, going off the cliff is better than a screwed up deal.  Personally, I don't want to pay for Ann Romney's Olympic Therapy Horse.  A lot of people don't want to give Foreign Aid to Egypt, or Israel.  Or support Pell grants (Mitt said just borrow it from your parents).  At the very least, maybe it's time to look at the details of what we spend - not just wrap it all up in a bow that you just fracking know will mainly support Exxon.
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(CBS on Cuts): What will be cut:
Entitlements: OK, we just said that entitlements won't be cut, but some entitlements will receive a 7.6 percent cut across the board, though benefits won't be affected. The biggest chunk of this section is cuts to Medicare providers - not beneficiaries. Nurses, doctors, and insurance plans would receive a two percent cut in their payments.
In addition, farm subsidies would see reductions and states would see cuts in grants that provide funding social services departments as well as vocation and rehabilitation programs. It is a certainty that states will fight for that funding to stay in place.
Defense Spending: This is an area where Republicans are likely to launch a major opposition campaign because defense programs would receive a 9.4 to 10 percent reduction from its 2013 budget of $580 billion, or about $55 billion. Although the president exempted military personnel pay and benefits, defense programs, including weapons and procurement programs, are subject to half of the automatic budget cuts, even though defense programs are about one-fifth of the federal budget. States that have a very large defense presence have been very vocal about opposing these cuts.
Discretionary Spending: Subject to about 40 percent of the budget cuts in the sequester are discretionary programs. Programs in this budget category, which is one of the smallest slivers of the federal budget pie, are programs Democrats are likely to try and protect.
Programs subject to cuts include international aid, funding for NASA and the Department of Energy's research program. It would cut funding for national parks and resources for the Environmental Protection Agency's toxic waste and water clean up programs. States and cities would see cuts to education funding and community block grants, funding that gives local entities the flexibility to fund necessary programs. Job training programs would also be on the chopping block. Funds for Section 8  and public housing programs, homeless shelters, law enforcement, Head Start programs and low-income heating assistance would also be cut.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Get Some Balls Angus!

So the kid (now an adult) from "Two and a Half Men" made a video for his church, Forerunner Christian Church.  In the video Angus T. Jones said "If you watch 'Two and a Half Men', pleas stop watching.  It is filling your head with filth. I don't want to be on the show, but I am contracted for 1 more year."
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To me, this opinion is fine and he is okay expressing it.  Look, I often find the show very funny, but it includes recreational drug use, sex outside of marriage (often in multiples greater than 2), extramaterial affairs, theft, sloth and envy.  Kind of like life - and it is often the highest rated comedy there is, but you should feel free to be offended by or not watch it.
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Add to this that Angus was a very young child when he parents got him this gig.  I don't think you can fault an 8 year old for the choices his parents make.  And now he doesn't want to be on or support the show (albeit he does take home $7.9 Million a year for it).  Honestly, I think that is fine and I don't begrudge him the ability to knock it at all.
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But the wussy press release that he and his agent did to cover his ass - well that does fall at the feet of the multi-millionaire 19 year old.  Here is the "clarification" in full.  I don't think this jives with his comments that the show fills your head with filth.
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That or he has the "highest regard" for filth mongers.
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That or he has the highest regard for $7,900,000.00 per year.
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I have been the subject of much discussion, speculation and commentary over the past 24 hours. While I cannot address everything that has been said or right every misstatement or misunderstanding, there is one thing I want to make clear. 
Without qualification, I am grateful to and have the highest regard and respect for all of the wonderful people on Two and Half Men with whom I have worked over the past ten years and who have become an extension of my family. 
Chuck Lorre, Peter Roth and many others at Warner Bros. and CBS are responsible for what has been one of the most significant experiences in my life to date.  I thank them for the opportunity they have given and continue to give me and the help and guidance I have and expect to continue to receive from them. 
I also want all of the crew and cast on our show to know how much I personally care for them and appreciate their support, guidance and love over the years.  I grew up around them and know that the time they spent with me was in many instances more than with their own families.  I learned life lessons from so many of them and will never forget how much positive impact they have had on my life. 
I apologize if my remarks reflect me showing indifference to and disrespect of my colleagues and a lack of appreciation of the extraordinary opportunity of which I have been blessed.  I never intended that.

Mascot of the Month's New Season of The Hour starts tonight

On BBC America!
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Ben strikes back!
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Fiscal Cliff: Episode Two "The Spoilers!"

In our last Episode we saw the major players - and briefly noted how they talk and talk and talk past each other.  BUT ladies and germs, there are always players in the wings.  Call them the Eve Harrington(s) of the Fiscal Talks - because the sit and plot, all the while trying to trip up a deal so they can walk on and take credit.
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First, of course, is Grover Norquist.  At first blush, Grover is a funny looking little man - hard to talk seriously.  But he (of the "Vow For No New Taxes") is durable like a cockroach   He subsists on hot air, TV exposure and Ronald Reagan Porn.  He also seems to have a pathological aversion to shaving products, but that is neither here nor there.
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Grover has been, for a long time, at the heart of this drama.  If any Republican breaks the "Vow*", he marshalls a lot of money to attack them in the primary.  Since (outside of Iowa and California) districts are drawn to be safe to the incumbent party - he can often get the offending politician removed.
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Is there a loophole to Grover's pledge? Hell no!  In fact last year when some Republicans wanted to vote to remove Tax Credits for Oil Companies (yes kids - we in the USA pay Exxon, Mobil and BP to explore - because ... well they only have profits in the $billions of dollars) Grover said eliminating credits is the same as a tax increase.  Which is asinine, and was immediately repeated by Fox News and Rush Limbaugh.
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The second of our little schemers is Eric Cantor, Republican 2nd in command in the House.  He has been eye'ing John Boehner's job with all the subtly of vulture circling a dying man in the desert.  Think of him as Endora, forever behind a staircase moving obstacles in front of our dear Derwood.
 
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Why not Eve, Eve, little Miss Evil?  Well, Eve Harrington schemed and waiting for a misstep to further her career, Endora screws with Derwood because she can.  And yes, Representative Cantor is Jewish.  He started the big march of Jewish voters to the Republican Party only to find no one followed him there.
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Episode 2: Super Grover Strikes Back!
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As the Fiscal Cliff looms closer, our intrepid gang of "leaders" waddle towards the promises land - where the goal of meeting the deficit target occurs without going over the cliff.   FYI, wily Endora help crafted this self-same cliff last year!  As the land begins to drop away, some Republicans are making  sounds of revenue increases.
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Super Grover no like!
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So Sgt. Schultz and Gladys quickly say they won't raise tax rates, but fix loop-holes to raise tax revenue.  Not on the rich or the poor, but on the big middle that really has to pay taxes (not like Sir Romney's 13% rate).  When a television interviewer asked Speaker Boehner if, not two days ago he was talking about tax rates, Schultes remembered nut-thing about that conversation. Nothing!
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Super Grover happy.
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The Senate has already passed legislation to keep the Bush tax cuts for the first $250,000 of personal income (after deductions).  Super Grover no like that!
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So Sgt. Schultz does..
(looks off-stage... 
waits for directions
... and)
does NOT approve of that.
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Super Grover happy again.
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But Larry Tate has a little thing up his sleeve.  President Bush 2 (who is beyond parody) made those very "Bush Tax Cuts" temporary and ready to expire**.  So if Sgt. Schultz doesn't nothing, tax rates for everyone go up!  Oh no!  Electorate not happy!
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Sgt. Schultz could offer to pass tax relief for everyone who makes less than $250,000 (say 99% of Americans), but that make Super Grover not happy!  In fact, that might make Super Grover very very cross.  Although Endora might find it fun.
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What will Sgt. Schultz do?  Can he get President Gumby to give him cover?  Can Larry Tate say sober long enough to make his cunning plan work (yes - for the Brits out there, Harry Reid was going to be Baldrick, but I don't think enough on this side of the pond would get it).
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*Vow is the right word, since NY Rep. Peter King said he didn't feel permanently committed to never raise taxes, and Grover said that Mrs. King should see how he respects vows.  That didn't end pretty - Mr and Mrs King have been married 30+ years.  Super Grover made Representative very mad!
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** Why are the Tax Cuts temporary?  Because President Bush Two (really - beyond parody) said that they would pay for themselves and NOT raise the deficit.  The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (under Republican control) did not buy that "logic".  So the compromise was to make them temporary - and once they proved to pay for themselves they could be permanent.  How'd that work out?   

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

So THAT was what that was about

Last night, we had dinner with Pinkerton and as we sat around the table, the Empire State Building starting going crazy!  We didn't know what it was (the site said white / white / white).
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Today I read it was set to music to test the new LED lights.  It was nuts.  The first part is "meh", but then it gets fun.
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The Fiscal Cliff: Soap Opera Version - Episode 1

One cannot take the "fiscal cliff" seriously.  It was an artificially created problem when the Republicans demanded to extend the Bush Tax Cuts and simultaneously demanded to lower the debt - and held the debt ceiling hostage to this.  The Democrats contributed by inaction, too afraid to raise taxes or cut entitlements.
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As Lewis Black once said, "The only thing stupider than a Republican or a Democrat... is when these these assholes get together!"
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And so, they created this situation.  If nothing happens than:
1. Huge cuts go into effect equally to the Defense Department and the Entitlement Programs!
2. The Bush Era Tax Cuts expire.
3. The temporary payroll tax cuts expire.
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Of course
1. Happens over time - and won't kill anything.
3. Occurs to us poor saps that work for a living.
But #2 effects people that contribute to elections - so we have an emergency!
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It is boring and nothing much will happen in the end - "Grand Bargin" or not.  So let's look at it like a Soap Opera.
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Episode #1 - The Players:
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Democratic Senate Leader Harry Reid.  He is the Larry Tate of politics.  He blusters and waves his arms.  He says "I'll reform filibusters.  I'll delivery the Senate.  I know Mitt Romney hasn't paid taxes in 10 years."  But you know at the end of the night he'll be flustered, confused and trying to get his drunk ass into a car to drive home.

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Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConell.  Yes, he looks like a turtle, but don't let looks and actions fool you.  He is forever watching... waiting... and screaming to no effect.  He sees intrige where no one else does, and normally ascribes it to the wrong thing.  Yes, Mitch McConell is Gladys Kravitz.
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Republican House Leader John Boehner.  He forgets what he said and saw 2 minutes ago.  He has the ability to deliver almost no votes (see Eric Cantor in Episode #2 tomorrow).  When trouble happens, he sees nothing, he hears nothing.  He is Sargent Schultz.
 
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Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi. Can you believe she is still around?  She lead the House Democrats when they loss of the majority.  Now, most other leaders in that situation leave gracefully (or ugly - I'm looking at you Newt), but not Nancy.  She finds a way to stay like... like... like an unwanted house guest.


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President Obama.  Gumby.  That man can be sliced, diced and spread across multiple rooms and somehow get back together and stand up.  His strong point is not strength, per say, but persistance.  I just wish he would articulate what he has persistance for.
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And today's episode of "As The Fiscal Cliff Crumbles"... Senior US Leaders in discussion...

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Essance of Rio

First, it is hard to blog remotely; neither the iPad or iPhone can use flash, and so I am limited in layout. That is why pictures sent always show at a single size AND there isn't really text with it. But enough whinging.
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So, I find Rio is all about the beach culture, even for those far from the ocean. The water, wether beach or harbor or views of both, are omnipresent. On the weekends or holidays families from across the city come to promenade along one of the many different beaches. Don't get me wrong, they are NUTS for futbol, but that isn't the overwhelming vibe of the city.
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The only thing I can compare it to are small surfing towns. It looks a little like Honolulu, but many fewer tourist compared to locals. Honolulu is like a vacation city. Rio has the relaxed vibe as a real CITY city. The people are really nice here and it is much safer than 3years ago and scads safer than the first time we were here (9years?). . Anywho....home tonight.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Saturday, November 17, 2012

This is Texan for "Timeless Elegance"

What if everything we thought was... backwards?

Okay, stay with me for a moment, because dear friends, I am walking a fine line for a few moments.  You can spare a few moments on nincompoopery, right?
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I no longer tend to listen to the insane rants of deluded talking heads.  Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck, Rev. Al Sharpton and most of the others.  In particular one Ann Coulter.  Because I really think she says stuff just to make money and get headlines.  She goes more and more brazenly over the top that it seems obvious to me.  And, I figure, why give her the satisfaction of rising to the bait.
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See, I don't think she believes much of the crap she says.  So it doesn't bug me.
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This is where we go to the big leap. What if Karl Rove is a Democrat?
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Stay with me.  I am not saying that Turd Blossom didn't love him some George W., but what if - like Ken Mehlmen - he now regrets his crappy ways?  How best to serve the opposition?
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Well, he raised massive amounts of money during both the John McCain and Mitt Romney campaigns. "American Crossroads" alone raised and spent almost $500,000,000.00 (five hundred million) in the  2010 campaign.  They lost the Presidency and all but 1 of the nine Senate Races they backed.
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People have said, "You couldn't get worse returns if you tried!"  But Karl Rove is smart, maybe he was trying to get those returns!  How better to help the Democrats, than infiltrate the Republicans from inside.  He is like the perfect double agent.
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Gay marriage?
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Without Karl's kamikaze attacks in 2004 the issue would never have been defined as something that was right to do.  It wasn't until Karl demonized fags - but people actually know gay people that aren't disgusting child molesting freaks.  So it backfired in the long run.... or did it?  Was it Turd Blossom's plot all along that a backlash would sooner or later develop?  After all, his Lieutenant as Republican Party Chair was Ken Mehlmen, who is (wait for it) gay and is now working for gay marriage!
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Every time someone popped up during the Republican Primary - Herman Cain, Michelle Bachman, Rick Santorum - Karl was there on Fox running them own saying that the only one that could beat Obama was Mitt Romney.  MITT ROMNEY - the man with a car elevator!
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And, at the end of the night, he even made Fox and the Romney campaign silly by broadcasting on air (at FOX NEWS no less) that Ohio wasn't really over...  They hadn't really lost...  It was all still going to turn...  Even today he says that people voting in higher than expected numbers somehow amounted to voter suppression.
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Maybe the Turd Blossom really does smell that sweet?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Truth-iness in Advertising

from Gawker
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Unionmade is an upscale men's clothing store, based in San Francisco and celebrated by GQ, that sells $258 "Vintage Styled Work Shirts" and $68 Cow Horn Combs and $565 "Vintage" Levi Jeans, and things of that nature. The company says that it "aims to improve the lives of our customers, community and suppliers by offering fairly priced products made from the best available materials." You might want to know, however, that Unionmade's products are notunion made.
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If you want to have an attractively curated store that sells insanely overpriced clothes designed to mimic the clothes that poor people wore a century ago, fine. But calling your store "Unionmade" (and modeling your logo on the AFL-CIO's) while not selling union made goods is just as asinine and insulting as calling your store "Americanmade" while selling things manufactured in China. It's blatantly misleading. It's fraudulent. It's the fashion equivalent of a TV preacher using Jesus love for the poor as a selling point to line his own pockets. On the other hand, subjugating the meaning of a real, serious political issue that affects millions of people's lives to the fact that you like the vibe of the sound of the name of it seems perfectly in character for a store that sells luxury-priced 1890s miners clothes to affluent people who will wear them while sitting inside their air-conditioned advertising agency office job.
We emailed Unionmade about this, and received the following response:
You are correct, though some of the brands we carry are union made, many are not. The unfortunate reality is that there are not many unions left in the garment industry and so the name was cultivated as a signifier of well-made and aesthetically timeless goods. There have been customers that take issue with the store's name and we certainly understand and respect their opinion, though by and large the majority of our customers understand the use of the name as an overarching narrative of the store. This being that we strive to carry well-made items that will age well in regard to both wear from use and stylistically.

Good Job Eric Cantor (really!)

Generally I am not a fan of Eric Cantor, House Minority Whip. But in the recent Patreus Affair, I give him full props!
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• And Eric Cantor explained to reporters why he kept quiet on David Petraeus’ affair: ”I had no way of corroborating the story I was told, and I thought that the best thing at the time was not to politicize it and to put national security first.”

Fascinating Maps of Sea Level Rise v Population of 10 cities

After Hurricane Sandy, there has been renewed interest in Sea Level rise and population.  One of the interesting articles is on Data Pointed (LINK).
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The author maps 10 US cities in population to height above Sea Level - indicating what a Sea Level rise might mean.  And yes, he discusses that they might not rise at all or that a few warm summers in a row and the Greenland ices plops off and raises everything 25 feet. (Above is (left to right) Miami, New Orleans, Tampa.
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Cities that have it bad... New Orleans (of course) Boston, Tampa, Miami and San Jose.  New York doesn't have it to easy either (mainly in New Jersey).
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LA blue is high ground (25 feet +)

It is also amazing to see LA.  In the mid-lower right is the border of Orange County and LA almost at sea level - the big brown square.  This, by the by, is where I went to High School - which is why it was so easy to bike to the beach after school!  I rode my bike down the San Gabriel River.
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Yes, that San Gabriel River.
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The River with a LOT of water in it.
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There was a path on the top, but all the cool kids rode on the bottom and up and down the sides.  You had to watch for surprise inlets (like the on in the mid-distance on the left) where the wall just stopped with no warning.
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Ah youth.