Friday, February 27, 2015

Clutch My Pearls!!! Wait, throw the teacher in jail.

Anal Sex does seem awfully high on this list 
So in Kansas a parent was freaked the hell out by a Sex - Ed poster on a Science classroom wall.  The poster is here, and is surprisingly thorough in its list of methods of expressing affection.
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But this poster was approved by the school district (and the state) as part of an abstinence only sex education program.  My guess is that some of these were deemed appropriate and some we explained as "not abstinence".
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Well, the good people of Kansas were outraged and had the posters removed.  So far so normal.
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Nw there are working on a law (already passed the Senate - the "liberal" body) to remove protections of teachers with regards to distributing pornography.  They can go to jail.  As, they want this science teacher to do.  Because.. even if it is  an abstinence only education poster that was approved - and even if it was only viewable by 13 year olds - well past puberty - it is just the same as pornography.  Yes, even if it is part of a approved sex-ed curriculum, the Kansas Legislature wants those teachers in jail.
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Along with posters that mention the unmentionable, naughty books like The Red Badge of Courage, Huckleberry Finn and dirty parts of Twilight will get a teacher thrown in jail.
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Link from the Topeka Capital-Journal.
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Funny this, the Topeka Capital-Journal has, in the story, self-censored the words "vaginal" and "masturbation" from the poster - although they are allowed to print "anal sex".
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The Washington Post Does calls Bullshit

(LINK)
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Quick word out to Europeans who might not know, the Honorable Senator James Inhofe is the Chairman of Senate Environmental Committee.  Honest.
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The Washington Post has written a very funny article that is meaner than I would be normally re: James Inhofe - Climate Denyer.  Here it is...
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 February 26 at 5:16 PM  

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) has, once and for all, disproven climate change. While "eggheads" at "science laboratories" were busy worrying about how the increase in heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere was leading to a long-term upward shift in temperatures and increased atmospheric moisture, Inhofe happened to notice that it was cold outside. Weirdly cold outside. So cold, in fact, that water falling from the sky had frozen solid.
So he brought some of this frozen water into the Capitol and onto the Senate floor to show everyone, but mostly to show the eggheads.
Inhofe brings snowball on Senate floor to dispute climate change(0:52)
Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) brought a real snowball onto the Senate floor to discusses climate change. (C-SPAN)
He referred back to the time that his kids made an igloo -- and then dropped his bombshell: "It's very, very cold out. Very unseasonable." Inhofe, who is also chairman of the Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee, then turned to his prop for a bit of "scientific analysis."
"So," he said, throwing the snowball to the sitting Senate president, "catch this." Whether the snowball was caught was not known at the time of writing.
How cold is it out? It is below freezing! Last week it was even colder, so cold that records in the region were being broken. Today? Eh, not so much. Especially compared to the history of temperatures on this day.
Now, global warming skepticism skeptics might argue that Inhofe, the author of a book about global warming called "The Greatest Hoax," is using one bit of weather-related data to try to disprove a well-established, very long-term trend. They might note that temperatures in February are supposed to be cold in the Northern Hemisphere since it is a season called "winter." They might point out that at the same time D.C. was very cold, the West Coast was very warm, which is less expected during "winter." And they might note that the government did indeed declare 2014 to be the warmest year on record, a detail that is not disproven by a snowball in the year 2015. (The sad irony of that, though: Much of the eastern U.S. recorded colder than normal temperatures -- and that is where Inhofe goes to work.)
But those skepticism skeptics are wrong. Why? Look at that snowball.

Game over.



Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Words to Get Me Through the Winter...

I do not like winter Sam I am.  I do not like it on a plane, I do not like it on a train.  I do not like it here or there, I do not like it anywhere.
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So when I ask myself why am I here, I always here the voice of Elle Wood's father in my head - and Elle's response is the only one that makes sense.
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Father...

Why!? Button...
There's no film studios.
It's cold and dark.
No valet park.
All the girls have different noses.

Christ, Button,
It's like the damn frontier
Tell me what you want
Than you can't get right here....

Elle

Love... I'm going there for love.
And love will get me through
I can live without Sun and Valets.
It's a price that I can pay...


(PS: In my head, the words are a little different...)

Ship Ahoy

There is a ship on the front of the New Museum.  I am not sure why, but I kind of dig it.
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Why does every state get 2 Senators except New York....

Every state it in the US gets 2 Senators. Except New York.  We get Senator Kristin Gillbrand (whom I love) and we give our other spot up to Israel, who gets Charles Schumer.
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Senator Chuck has decided not just to attend Bibi's Republican Dog and Pony show, but to urge others Democrats to attend and to urge President Obama to talk with Bibi while he is here.
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I love his public answer, "I don't know" if President Obama should meet Bibi.  This is like telling Charlie Brown that Lucy will really hold the ball this time.

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Look, I am understand the close and wonderful relationship between the US and Israel.  I admire most of their policies, their democracy and defend their right to self-defense.  And, I think it is perfectly reasonable for Bibi Netanyahu to want to undermine the world's talks with Iran.  As a matter of Israeli security, it might make sense (although Mossad would disagree).
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What annoys me is that Charles Schumer is promoting Israeli interests over American interests.  He is welcoming a foreign politician who has  inserted himself in the last election for the opposing party and is publicly rebuking President Obama.  I may not love Obama, but I damn sure don't love a Senator from my party that chooses a foreign power over the US.
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And Chuckie isn't content to simply spit on the President and the process here.  No, he has to go on record to encourage other Democrats to spit on the global peace process as well.  To join the Republicans to embarrass President Obama.
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So Charles Schumer has chosen Israel and the Republicans over the chance for a negotiated settlement with Iran.  Which, duh, the whole point of sanctions was to get them to the negotiating table. Why deny us all the chance to finish negotiations?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

And The Stomach Bone is connected to the Vagina Bone

Ahhh.. Idaho - famous potatoes indeed.
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Somethings stand alone as nincompoopery and need only the light of day.
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Vito Barbieri, a state congressman in Idaho, was busying passing laws against doctors prescribing birth control over the phone.  During this discussion (which later passed based on a party line vote - of course, the whole "hearing" was a shame), Vito asked why a doctor couldn't do a vaginal examine by having a woman swallow a small camera and just firing up when it hit the vagina.

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This would be hilarious, except of course, it is men like these that decide what type of patient care a woman gets when there is anything involving her lady bits.
Famous Potatoes Indeed

DHS (Department of Homeland Security) Kabuki - on both sides

The Republicans thought things would change when they controlled the Senate.  They did not understand how the Senate operates.  Much like Democrats when they controlled both houses, it turns out even with "control" of the Senate - you don't have control.
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Any Senator, at anytime, for any reason can call a filibuster.  And it takes 60 votes to override a filibuster.  And the Republicans in the Senate - like the Democrats before them, don't have 60 votes.
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The current Kabuki Theater comes courtesy of the Tea Party Republicans and President Obama.
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Last year, like the 3 years before that, the House Republicans refused to take up an Immigration Bill that passed the Senate with Republican and Democratic votes.  So President Obama made this rather innocuous move.
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President Obama redirected the the Immigration Department (which is under Homeland Security) to focus on serious criminals in the US system for deportation, not otherwise law abiding immigrants. 
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Had he stopped there, the Right would be in uproar.  Since they were demonizing him anyway, he went one further.  If an immigrant had a child or close relative that was legally in the United States, had paid taxes for 5 years and had not criminal history, that person could apply for legal status.
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And howls of "amnesty" went up and the Republicans start frothing at the mouth.
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This delayed our national budget to the point that Congress finally passed spending authorization for a year, but funded Homeland Security for only 2 months.
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As an aside, this was called, by the by, a "Cromnibus" - Brangelina type amalgamation of "Continuing Resolution" and "Omnibus spending bills", although it sounds a little like a sex act on public transportation.
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Since then the House of Representatives passed a funding law for the DHS, but that legally revokes the President's action on registering immigrants.  And then they went a step further.
You can see the spin: Washington Post (rather centrist) blames republicans and Fox News (rather right wing) lays the blame on the Democrats.  All the regular actors are taking up their roles.
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The House of Representatives passed a law reversing the older policy of the nation - and many states - making "dreamers" legal.  "Dreamers" in our parlance are those immigrants that were brought here illegally when they were very young.  The Dream Act made those immigrants legal residents if they were in school or the military, had been brought here as minors and had no arrests.  Before that, they would apply for college, maybe get a scholarship or maybe get deported.  Often to countries where they didn't know the language or have relatives any longer.
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The funding which passed the House of Representatives can't pass the Senate.  And, technically, only the House of Representatives can initiate a funding bill.  The result is a bit in the air at this point.  The Senate may try to "fix" the DHS funding and remove the immigration pieces, but the House says it won't pass that (a "clean" bill).
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This looks bad for the Republicans who wanted to use their majorities in the 2 years until the next election to prove they were "grown ups that can govern".
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It isn't really that much of a big deal, since about 225,000 of the 255,000 employees of the DHS work in "essential" jobs and have to work anyway.  But if the TSA (those people at the airports) are laid off again, then the squealing will be pretty damn loud.
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And so we return to the place we never left, the asinine Kabuki theater that American Politics has become.

A Trip To The Rubin Museum of Art

New York has a plethora of small art museums created, I suppose, by very rich collectors.  Apparently there are big tax breaks for this, which is okay if you happen to live in New York.  Luckily, I do.  These aren't like the Mitchell Museum of Early Iowan Thimbles, but real amazing art displays.
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This week-end we went to The Rubin Museum of Art (RubinMuseum.org), which was astounding.  It is primarily a Himalayan / Nepalese art museum with some great works.
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My favorite is a Temple interior in which many art pieces are there.  But the best is that an audio guide tells you what everything is, why it is located where it is and what it means.
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Very cool.
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The Buddhist Temple
There was a temporary exhibit called Witness At The Crossroads, which was all about the travels in the mid-50s of a photojournalist who traveled from Turkey through the silk road through Iran, Afghanistan, India, China and Japan.  His photograph was evocative of a moment when these lands were all reasonable open.  Before wars in Afghanistan and the Cultural Revolution in China.  It was very cool.
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From the Witness At the Crossroads exhibit - Afghanistan's Khyber Pass
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Two of the five museum floors from the staircase

Monday, February 23, 2015

Boston Globe's graphic is screwed up big time

The Harvard Grads over at the Boston Globe may be smart as hell, but they might want to outsource their web programing.  They have a reasonably nice State by State Gay Marriage Rights graphic (LINK), but when you select "Nationwide" instead of "State by State", it gives you the status on all 101 states plus DC.
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Wow, that is a lot of states.  I would say, roughly double the number of actual states we have.  Apparently, 75 of the 50 statues allow gay marriage.
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Friday, February 20, 2015

They finally figured out how to get me to the gym regularly....

He works our here while he rehearses and stars in the new Radio City Music Hall Show...
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So What! Not everything is about the gays!

Let me say this, so you don't have to...
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So What?
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It is a trade deal, not a kiss on the cheek.
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Trade deals aren't about the gays.  Otherwise we wouldn't trade with Egypt, Saudi Arabia or Alabama.
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Commerce is not (usually) about social ills.  Now... we do try to limit or embargo trade with foreign governments in some cases.  But that isn't because they hate (or kill) gays. It is because their regimes are doing something threatening to us or our allies (I'm looking at you Iran and North Korea).
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We also have trade deals with nations that condone violence against women.  We have trade deals with countries that have child labor.  If you are a strict anti-abortion activists, we have trade deals with countries that don't outlaw Abortion (most of Europe).  If you are a pro-choice candidate, then we have trade deals where the authorities allow women to die instead of have an medically required abortion (Ireland and Brazil).
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Being gay, I take a personal interest here.  Don't squeal over things that are stupid.  It makes us all look bad.  Just like drivers with the Jesus Saves bumper stickers embarrass all Christian church goers when they cut-off someone in traffic and then flip them off.  You're making us look petty.  Knock it off.

Wrong Answer: First Say - That's Great - Let's Build On That

People, please!
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The answer when something is positive, but not where you want to be is not to shit on it.  The proper response is to congratulate the person (or companY) that did a good thing.  Then - maybe next week, maybe even later in the same paragraph - say that is a good start, a great start, how do we together decide where the finish line should be.
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If I saw this headline - and was an owner of Walmart, my response would be "screw them, I can't make them happy no matter what so I will stop trying".
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Good grief people "you catch more flies with honey" has been a mantra for over 100 years!.
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Thursday, February 19, 2015

"Mistakes Made" Hee Hee Hee

Ladies and Germs - your next Great White Hope - Jeb Bush.
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Jeb had his big "foreign policy" speech the other day.  LINK to YouTube.  Aside from mixing up Iran and Iraq and having no policy on ISIS except to do what President Obama is doing only - you know - Florida style, his speech was pretty boring and meandering.

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But then in the Q&A he got to his big brother's war.  This is what he said...
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BUSH: Let’s go to Iraq. There were mistakes made in Iraq, for sure. Using the intelligence capability that everybody embraced about weapons of mass destruction was not – turns out not to be accurate. Not creating an environment of security after the successful taking out of Hussein was a mistake, because Iraqis wanted security most – more than anything else. But my brother’s administration, through the surge, which was one of the most heroic acts of courage, politically, that any president’s done, because there was no support for it. It was hugely successful and it created a stability that, when the new president came in, he could have built on to create a fragile but more stable situation that would not have allowed for the void to be filled. The void has been filled because we created the void.
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Let's unpack those nuggets, shall we...
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 There were mistakes made in Iraq, for sure. .. Mistakes.  A War that was un-necessary, based on lies and cost $1Trillion dollars (that is $1,000,000,000,000.00) - Mistakes!  200,000 Iraqis dead because of this.   Mistakes - sure.  What is a big mistake to him.?
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Using the intelligence capability that everybody embraced about weapons of mass destruction was not – turns out not to be accurate. .."everybody embraced"?  Well, not the actual weapons inspectors we forced in. Turns out they were right.  Not the people that voted against the war ("cough" Barack Obama "cough").  Not the the British intelligence.  Not the CIA intelligence teams on the ground.  So not really "everybody".
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Not creating an environment of security after the successful taking out of Hussein was a mistake, because Iraqis wanted security most – more than anything else. .."an environment of security"  wow, that sounds fluffy.  An environment of security - like we gave out lumpy pillows.  Actually, we released the entire security apparatus and governing structure onto the street with no government in place.  We created spheres of influence pitting the various factions against each other (which leads directly to ISIS).  I am sure the dead people in Erbil will appreciate that we now admit we didn't create "an environment of security".
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But my brother’s administration, through the surge, which was one of the most heroic acts of courage, politically, that any president’s done, because there was no support for it...Courage..
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It was hugely successful and it created a stability that, when the new president came in, he could have built on to create a fragile but more stable situation that would not have allowed for the void to be filled. The void has been filled because we created the void... Could Obama really have filled the void?  How, by some magical spirit?  The surge left militias roaming the country keeping peace at any price.   The "surge" left a government allied to Iran in place with no representation from the non-ruling groups.  The "surge" left a government that did not sign an extension of forces contract with Bush or Obama - despite a push from both of them to implement it.  I get it, blaming Obama is easy, simple minded and plays to the base well.
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Look, I think Obama is a lousy President.  I don't know why; he is moral, smart and strives to be the leader of all of us.  But he's a dud.  However I am happier with this dud than the bomb-happy deficit building numskull before him.
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Elect Jeb - 8 more years of W's policies.  We have almost fixed the country, time to go back into endless war and not pay for it. Bush in 2016!

The Difference Between Candidates and Presidents - Don't Be a Dumbshit

One hopes that people are not idiots.  But one hopes that Fox News has the best interests of American (or at least the truth) in mind.  One often has one's hopes dashed.

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In this case I speak of the kerfuffle caused by the President stating the following in the White House yesterday...  No religion is responsible for terrorism. People are responsible for terrorism,”
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 As sure as maggots race to dead flesh, Sen. Ted Cruz and Rudy Giuliani criticized the president for trying to disassociate ISIS from Islam, even though it calls itself the Islamic State and wants to establish a caliphate in the Middle East. Cruz called Obama “an apologist for radical Islamic terorrists” (LINK) and Giuliani told a private group dinner, “I do not believe, and I know this is a horrible thing to say, but I do not believe that the president loves America.” The former mayor of New York City added, “He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country.”(LINK)
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So why does the President not call out Islam.  Perhaps because our allis in the fight against ISIS are Islamic (Jordan, Kuwait, UAE, Turkey, Iraq, Egypt).  And - maybe - so he doesn't want to insult EVERY ONE of our allies right now.
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And maybe he doesn't want to call out all other muslim countries (Indonesia, Bangladesh, Malaysia, UAE, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco - from the top of my pointy head) and muslim people as terrorists because, you know, THEY AREN'T.
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There is a small sub-set of crazy ass Islamic Terrorists in the middle east.  We need to deal with them, not alienate the muslims who are fighting them on the ground.
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This would be like me calling everyone in Texas a supporter of a Bloviating Stupid Ass Canadian Reject Turned Lying Senator - when most of the people in Texas did not vote at all, much less vote for him.
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Candidates are exempt from the need to think things through, it makes for great fund-raising and TV time.  But the public (us) we aren't exempt from that.  If we choose dumb-shits, then they send people to fight with allies, and then they insult them.  Don't be a dumb-shit.  We have plenty and they are all running or thinking about running for President.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Crazy Train Pulls Into Oklahoma

What is it with the legislature of states in the midwest - south now a days?  Arkansas we discussed, Kansas we discussed.  Now Oklahoma (which touches both of them) has decided to up the crazy ante.
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They have long hated the gays - introducing anti-homo legislation there is a reflexive reaction to the sun coming up, but this is a whole different kind of crazy.
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To discuss this, we will have to explain to our European friends what an "AP Class" is.  Untied States High schools are public (in the open to everyone sense, not in the British Public really means expensive Private School sense).
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Because of this, they cater to all skill sets.  Some schools have "AP Classes".  These are "Advanced Placement" and if you complete them with a satisfactory grade, you are allowed to take a college test. If you get a high enough grade on this University level class, you can "pass out of them" at University.  It is a way to help really smart and/or over-achieving students get a heads start on University and save some time and money.
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Oklahoma is voting to de-fund AP American History, because it teaches the history of the United States but doesn't include American "Exceptionalism".  The idea that American is not a normal country, but an exceptional one designated by God.  (LINK).
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This is a new one even for me.  I was familiar with the Colorado plan to get rid of AP History because it taught that the United States had slavery.
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I do like the woman who wrote this and her last paragraph.  She is normally pretty low key, but this, apparently, has her hot.
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There’s a profound insecurity at the heart of any agenda that presumes that if kids aren’t spoon fed a black and white fairy tale of our national greatness, they’ll have no pride or loyalty. Arrogance isn’t patriotism, and education isn’t indoctrination. And anyone who doesn’t comprehend that difference doesn’t just need a history lesson, he needs a dictionary

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The "Great Laboratories of Democracy" - Poor Montana

The article below is written by a Democrat.  But not just any Democrat, Eric Stern is Deputy Secretary of State in Montana.  Apparently in the last election, control of the Montana Legislature moved - rather strongly, to the right.  This is a funny (but true) article from Salon - and I am copying it here (LINK).
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I copy it because it expressed nincompoopery better than I can - even if I made this shit up.
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In 1932 Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandis said that the states were the laboratories of democracy.  If that is the case, someone might want to take the Bunsen Burner away from Montana.
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Here are the 10 most bizarre Tea Party bills currently being debated in the Montana Legislature, which is now controlled by the right wing of the Republican Party.  Some of these bills, believe it or not, have a chance of making it to the governor’s desk.
1) Prepare for National Ammunition shortage (SB 122).  When Obama comes to get our guns and bullets, Montana will be ready.  This bill cites the “serious risk” that America might run out of ammunition and exempts Montana’s ammo manufacturers from paying any taxes at all, as an incentive to produce more bullets so we can survive the Obama gun rapture. Its author, Matt Rosendale, was an unsuccessful congressional candidate in 2014 whose campaign ads featured him shooting drones out of the air with a rifle.
2) Establish Armed Militias in Every Town (SB 130). Even if we have enough bullets, Montana could still be in grave danger from the federal government.  This bill would protect citizens by creating local paramilitary groups across the state, known as “home guards,” and would allow sheriffs to mobilize these troops for whatever reason they so choose, without the governor’s consent.  This concept is supported enthusiastically by militia groups whose members enjoy stockpiling firearms but sometimes go to prison.
3) Require that nipples and areolae be fully concealed; prohibit “simulated genitalia”  (HB 365).  Our state already has a general law against indecent exposure but Montana’s social conservatives feel it isn’t enough.  The new proposal lists body parts.  Specifically, it would prohibit “exposing the anus, areola or nipple with anything less than a fully opaque covering.”  Better yet, it would forbid the wearing of “any costume or covering that gives the appearance of, or simulates, the genitals, nipple or areola.”  So much for my Halloween idea.
4) Montana Legislative Dress Code.  A young conservative ascended to speaker of the House this year, and his first order of business was to propose a new dress code that advised women “to be mindful of necklines and skirt lengths” and also to wear only “dress blouses or suit-like dresses,” and never “jersey or fleece material” or leggings.  Areolae and nipples were not mentioned.
5) “Encourage Critical Thinking in the Classroom” is the title of HB 321.  The preamble of this legislation says, “The scientific community has not resolved or answered the questions related to the origins of all life or the origin of our universe.”  It would give public school teachers legal immunity if they want to teach “alternative” theories.
6) Allow Concealed Weapons in Bars, Banks, and on Campuses (HB 371, SB 143).  There are a few places where Montana has always forbidden citizens from carrying weapons, including financial institutions, places where booze is served and college campuses.  The Tea Party feels Montana would be a safer place if we rescind these rules.  One point where they yielded, however: Bars on campuses will still be allowed to have a no weapons policy.  So students wanting to stand their ground will have to go off campus.
7) Ban “Foreign or Religious Law” From American Courts (SB 199).  The purpose of this law is to prevent Muslims from using Shariah law to co-opt our legal institutions.  This is a serious threat in Montana where the Muslim population is probably .001 percent.
8) Return All Federal Lands to State Ownership (LC 1758 et al).  This concept comes out of a growing national movement (think Cliven Bundy) whose members do not recognize the right of the U.S. government to own large pieces of land such as national parks and forests.   The bill effectively proclaims that these lands belong to Montana, rather than America, and demands that the U.S. government return them.  The Montana Republican Party platform also calls for this.
9) Nullify All Federal Gun Laws (HB 203). This bill declares that Montana may selectively recognize or ignore federal firearms laws, such as a ban on machine guns.  Better yet, it makes it a crime for a policeman to even try to enforce such laws.  The bill’s author, Montana’s Tea Party leader Art Wittich, has been known to enjoy nullifying laws himself.  He will soon be on trial for having ignored Montana’s campaign donations laws.
10) Allow Hunting With Silencers (HB 250).  The people behind this idea think that big game hunting is too difficult under current rules, because if you take a shot and miss, the animal hears the gunfire and runs.  Then you have to pursue him (or her), which could take a whole day.  That’s called “fair chase” but many Tea Party types believe this burdens their freedom. They think the Second Amendment guarantees them a Second Shot.

Monday, February 16, 2015

You Don't Have To Watch Fox News To Call Bullshit On This.

Norm Chomsky is a very intelligent, very left-wing professor / writer / political analyst / stacking-horse of the right.  He is very smart, but often makes inane comments which serve to verify the worst things Fox News says.
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This head-line "America paved the way for ISIS" is just such and inane comment.
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His argument is, basically, that once America and Britain invaded Bagdad, THEN we let loose the Sunni vs. Shi'a armageddon.
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Which is both true, and bullshit.  Bullshit because leaving Saddam Hussien in power was a slow moving ISIS (torture, public executions and violence against the regime) only Saddam had the good sense not to broadcast all of it.
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This is particularly bullshit given that much of the current ISIS landscape was created in Syria during the Spring Uprisings, which we were (thankfully) absent.  ISIS is a variant of the local Syria / Iraqi / Shi'a Al Queda.  Regardless of our breaking Iraq, Syria was set to explode during the Arab Spring along these particular fault lines.
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Had we sent arms to the rebels, ISIS would now have those weapons.  Had we support Syria's dictator - we would be accused of helping a murderer.  And a Russian backed murderer at that.
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The Middle East can neither be broken or fixed by America, except around the fringes.  We can still remove leaders of state, but we can't prop up ones we like.  ISIS would have come about with or without our support.
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ISIS is, at core, a local response to a local problem (Shi'a - Sunni hatred).  The sooner we learn that trying to fix this (or assign blame) is like peeing into a windstorm, the better for all involved

54 Below: Chess

Last night we went to see a group of people sing songs from the musical Chess.  I have never seen Chess - it played only 6 months in New York - before I was a traveler (1988).
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It was held at a Cabaret called "54 Below".  You can see any number of Broadway people sing there by checking out YouTube and putting in 54 Below.  What is amazing is the singing chops these folks have.  It is below the Roundabout Theater conversion of the old Studio 54 into a theater.  Cabaret - with Alan Cummings is playing there now.
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Well the basement has been turned into an upscale nightclub.
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They were all Broadway performers and had gotten together for a night - with only 2 weeks rehearsal - to sing these songs.  We were all blown away.  Eddie and I went with Sam and Val - which was fun because Sam is singing there in a month - so we did get to meet a bunch of people.
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Both Ed and I (and Val and sam) love the music from the show.  This was interesting because they had different people sing as different characters - there wasn't only 1 Russian - 3 different guys sang his different songs.  So it was wonderful.  A lot of people blew me away, but these two were my favorites.
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This is Jessica Hendy who sang a couple of our favorite songs - many of the duets with different people.  She sang "Heaven Help My Heart", alone, then sang "I Know Him So Well" and "You and I" with other singers.  She had the pipes to pull off a song alone, but could sync with someone else wonderfully.  She was also very sultry.

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This is Mike Schwitter - who had runs in Pippin and Next To Normal in the later parts of the show that I missed.  But he absolutely rocked The Arbiter roles in a couple of songs.  Alas, no muscle shirt last night, simply a black suit and black shirt.

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Rachel Ulanet sang "Nobody's on Nobody's Side" and "Someone Else's Story".  She kicked ass on those songs, and they are Ed's favorite, so -since we stayed after so Sam could talk with his friend the musical director - Ed got to tell her.  She was great.
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Jeremy Kushnier sang the opening as the American and the song "One Night In Bangkok" like a man possessed.  All in all, a fantastic show.  He was, apparently, in Jersey Boys, which I why I never saw him :-).
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Sunday, February 15, 2015

Valentine's Day Yoga

Yesterday Ed and I went to Yoga.  The teacher, after saying see didn't want to take Valentine's Day to talk about "Love", talked instead about Contentment (as love :-).
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But she did ask us to thing of a Person that was very important to us and hold it into our hearts as we did Yoga.
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Of course, I held my Eddie in a picture like this...
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Which was all good until I started sweating and swaying and hating yoga for the moment, and I took it all out on the cute little Eddie in the picture.  Because he was the one that made me go!!!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Woooooooo, Pig! Sooie!

It has been a big year for Arkansas.  Less than a year ago, University of Arkansas was officially granted a trademark for Woooooooo, Pig! Sooie! (LINK)
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And, if that wasn't enough they have just hog-wrassled the title of "Biggest Haters of Fags" in the country back from Kansas.
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As you might have read here, just last week, Sam Brownback, governor of state of Kansas issued a State Order that removed any and all Lesbian and Gay protections in the work place.  Meaning that people employed by the state of Kansas - or any company it contracts with - can be fired for being gay.
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"Well," Arkansas says," we stole your state name and added shit, we can just steal that idea and add more shit.  Because no one hates fags more than us.  No One!"
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So the state legislature (both the House and the Senate) passed a new law that not only invalidates any city or county laws that might require equal employment protection under the law, but any law requiring equal treatment of any type to faggots.  It actually prohibits any city or county  from passing any law that would go so far as to protect faggots from being fired just because they are faggots.  You are free to fire them, kick them out of their rented homes, require higher car insurance premiums, deny them service - pretty much anything you want except actually assault us physically.
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Damn it, they gave up slaves. They gave up on the Southwest Football Conference.  They gave up marrying their sisters.  Those Razorbacks damn sure ain't going to give up on hating faggots.
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The Governor will not sign it, nor will he veto it.  That way it becomes law automatically without him having to take stand.
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Wooo Pig.
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Don't worry Kansas - Arkansas may have one up'ed you legally, but you still have the Westboro Baptist Church.

Don't Get Cocky Liberals - We Have Our Own Dipshits...

I subscribe - as you all know - to a liberal doctrine.  I still believe that education is good, science helps man and there are some things (...establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity...) that a government can do that the Koch Brothers can't.
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And I often find fault with our Politicians, right and left - but mainly right - that worship at the alter of Campaign funds.  But I want to call out a writer on the left that is bat-shit crazy.

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Every time I read something by him (Patrick L. Smith) in Salon, I question their sanity.   Does Salon really think this guy deserves a platform from which to spew nincompoopery?  His claim to fame is He was the International Herald Tribune’s bureau chief in Hong Kong and then Tokyo from 1985 to 1992.  Which sounds very impressive until you realize that the International Herald Tribune is still published and what has he done since then?  I mean 1985 was 30 years ago.  He hasn't done much in the last 23 years and I think maybe he has lost it a little.
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He has been on a kick about how the West started the War in Ukraine every since Russia annexed Crimea.  At first I though he might just be a Russian apologist, but now I think he is, instead, nuts.  He sees conspiracies everywhere, and he might be right in a place or two, once upon a time.  But now he seems them everywhere all the time.
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I picture a crazy old man, holding up the New York Times every morning screaming about what a Conservative Rag it has become.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's Walk on the Wild Side

Wisconsin is a very schizophrenic state, more so than most because it is so very very divided.  Often it is described, politically, as "purple", that is neither Red (Republican) nor Blue (Democratic) but a place where they are independent and middle of the road.
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Wisconsin is "WI" in the upper middle of the map....
It is not.  It is VERY Blue in some areas and VERY Red in others.  That yields a swing state, but not one that creates nice middle of the road politicians.  They are either pretty damn liberal (Russ Feingold) or crazy ass right wingers (Joe McCarthy).
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Washington Post on Scott Walker's London Trip
Which brings us to Scott Walker - nut job Governor and the latest, "great mid-west Republican hope for President".  
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Some poor mid-west schlub is fostered off on the American public every 4 years.  Last time it was Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, the time before that it was Wisconsin Tommy Thompson, why back int he day it was even Michigan Governor George Romney (Mitt's pop).
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Governor Scott Walker (this years Yugo with a brand new Buick label) , is a piece of work (here is a LINK to a story on his recent campaign trip to London).   He dropped out of Marquette and now seems hell bent on ruining higher education int he state.  The budget for the University has steadily dropped (which isn't unusual), but he won't let the University run independently.  The University of Wisconsin asked to be free'd from the State and go private to keep up it's level of education and research, but the Governor said no.
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This year the Governor cut $300 Million from the University's budget, but refused the request from the University to raise fees, saying professors could just work harder.  (You can't really "just work harder" to replace a $300 Million dollar cut).  And, if the problems were all financial I would understand his thinking (kind of - I would still let them raise fees - but he wants to gut the system).  However, in that same budget he has allocated $245 Million for a new sports stadium in Milwaukee.  So it is just priorities not funds.
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Then there is the "Wisconsin Ideal".  Kind of a guiding principal of the university.  It spells out how the University functions as a source of knowledge for the people of Wisconsin.  In his budget he also proposed changes to the Wisconsin Ideal.  At first he said it was accidental.  Which was a lie as they found all the emails on it.
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This is from a Wisconsin OpEd (LINK), but the red strike outs are the actual changes he made to the Wisconsin Ideal.  He, obviously, is not a fan of education.  Which is odd, because it is the one thing where America still leads the world.  Why would you screw with that?
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Thursday, February 12, 2015

I Wonder If It Is Me - or the World?

Trevor has the right idea about life right now.
You know I used to find the world amusing.  I suppose this was back before the internet and we didn't know all the crazy shit that was going on.
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Really - CRAZY.
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For example, the other day the Koch Brothers spent upwards of $600,000,000.00 dollars to stop a Republican plan to insure uninsured Tennessee residents by using Federal Funds via the Affordable Care Act.  (LINK, LINK).
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Just the other day Sam Brownback, Governor of Train Wreck Kansas which cannot no longer balance their budget, did two asinine things.  After cutting school funding again (below the level the Kansas State Supreme Court said was legal, he decided to borrow money to fund the State's pension obligations, and then invest the borrowed money in the stock market.  You know, hoping that solves his money problems (LINK).
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I used to think the Republicans were all for an honest, conservative government, but they now appear to just hate everyone that isn't a white male or docile female.
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To make his State republicans happy Mr. Brownback also rolled back work place discrimination laws protecting gays and lesbians. (LINK) Because nothing makes them happier than having the ability to walk up to someone and say, "Hey Mr. Homosexual, you're fired - we don't like gays here."
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Rick Perry said in New Hampshire that Texans don't want Health Insurance - that is why they have the highest number and rate of uninsured in the Nation.  (LINK) To get Medicate in Texas you have to make less than 19% of the poverty, or about $433 for a family of four.  So if you make $10,000 a year in Texas for a family of four - you choose not to have insurance because that is the way you like it.
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Alabama says they have the right to ignore the Supreme Court of the United States, because they justices don't hate fags enough.
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New York Mayor Bill DeBlasio is a freaking nut job.
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And I wonder if this was always the way it was, but before the Internet we just didn't know.
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I don't think so, but I am not sure.  We seem to be headed, full steam ahead for the rocks, alá the Concordia.
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All of which is, I suppose, a way of saying that I think I am about done blogging.  The world has moved on to Facebook and even a blurb of a blog is too much to read anymore.  the world is not making sense to me, and trying to write about it is hurting my brain.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Perhaps it was the Triumph of Low Expectations

Jupiter Ascending got some horrible reviews and Ed and I went to see it last week-end.  We liked it.  It was pretty fun, goofy int he right places, beautiful in most places and had some great action.
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Low expectations always help. and there were the occasional plot flaws, but in general it is a fun way to spend an afternoon.
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And Eddie liked that it was set (in many parts) in Chicago.

Very Very Sad Face


Monday, February 09, 2015

And The Good News Keeps On Coming....

From Scientific American (LINK)...
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Blood type may affect brain function as we age, according to a new large, long-term study. People with the rare AB blood type, present in less than 10 percent of the population, have a higher than usual risk of cognitive problems as they age.
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The researchers zeroed in on 495 individuals who showed significant declines on at least two of the three phone survey tests.
When they compared that cognitively declining group with 587 participants whose mental muster remained robust, researchers found that impairment in thinking was roughly 82 percent more likely in individuals with AB blood type than in those with A, B or O blood types, even after taking their race, sex and geography into account. The finding was published online last September in Neurology.
The seemingly surprising result has some precedent: past studies suggest non-O blood types are linked to elevated incidence of heart disease, stroke and blood clots—vascular conditions that could affect brain function. Yet these cardiovascular consequences are believed to be linked to the way non-O blood types coagulate, which did not seem to contribute to the cognitive effects described in the new study. The researchers speculate that other blood-group differences, such as how likely cells are to stick to one another or to blood vessel walls, might affect brain function.
Cushman emphasizes the need for follow-up studies not only to verify the blood type/brain function association but also to untangle mechanisms for it. 
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Fiddly Fuck sign me-> AB+

Alabama: Leading the Way Backward for over 150 years!

One Alabama - you cradle of hatred and bigotry - nice to see you true to form.   So heart-warming to be part of your history of being on the wrong side...
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For those of you that are unaware, Gay Marriage has been upheld by all Federal Circuit Courts (but 1).  For the states under those Circuit Courts, it is the legally binding United states law that Gay Marriage must be allowed in that particular state.
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This annoys and infuriates many states, many people and many state judges, but has been implemented now across the land - you know "respect for the rule of the law" and all that.  Except Alabama.  Today it was suppose to be the law in Alabama.  But Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore forbid it.

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"Can he do that?" you ask.  Of course not.  It is a grandstanding gesture of hatred that is the norm for Alabama.
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In 1861 (over 150 years ago), Alabama issued order of session to create a government with other slaveholding states - specifically calling out slavery as the reason.
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Having lost the war and their minds, in 1901 Alabama created their 6th constitution - and the longest still operating constitution in the world.  It's length due to the state representatives' desire to keep the races apart in perpetuity (LINK).  It specifically forbade blacks and whites from attending the same schools.
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Gov. Wallace facing down feds...
In 1963, the Governor himself stood at the University of Alabama to block the entrance of two black students that were admitted.
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And it isn't just blacks and gays.  Chief Justice Moore hates everyone that isn't his type of Christian.  He was removed as a judge once before for refusing to remove the 10 Commandments from the State Courthouse.  He said this about other religions (LINK).
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“Everybody, to include the U.S. Supreme Court, has been deceived as to one little word in the First Amendment called ‘religion.' They can't define it They can't define it the way Mason, Madison and even the United State Supreme Court defined it, 'the duties we owe to the creator and the manner of discharging it.' They don’t want to do that, because that acknowledges a creator god. Buddha didn't create us. Mohammed didn't create us. It's the god of the Holy Scriptures...They didn't bring a Koran over on the pilgrim ship, Mayflower. Let's get real. Let's go back and learn our history."
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Absolutism is great in a person (maybe) or a preacher (definitely)but not so much a State Judge.
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What New Hell Is This?

I went to walk Trevor this morning and it didn't look that horrible.
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But as I stepped outside I was greeted by something new.
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This is my 8th winter in New York.  I thought I had seen most all of it.  The lightening (that everyone "misses" in LA).  Back here everyone loves lightening, it inspires mid-westerns with dreams of their youth at home.  In LA it causes wild-fires.  I get the fascination, it is interesting, but it doesn't thrill me.  We agree to disagree about lightening.
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Then there is snow.  Fluffy snow.  Wet snow.  Heavy snow.  Snow flakes.  Sleety snow.  Dry snow.  Snow bursts. Snow showers. Sun Snow.  Blizzard.  Storm. Noreaster.  Freezing Rain.  Hail.
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I thought I had been through it all.  So, as I stepped out this morning and was pelted by tiny little ice daggers, I thought to myself.  What fresh hell is this?
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I am not sure it has a name - but neither Trevor nor I like it.
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It is like walking into a sea of gnats.  But instead of the buzzing and occasional gnat in the eye, it is thousands of little ice knives that stab, but leave no wound.  No wound except sucking the soul out of you.

Friday, February 06, 2015

The Flirt (a blurb and the re-telling)


As a Amazon Prime member, I get the daily deals list for Kindle books.  I often use them.  Today a book came with a cover I just had to investigate.
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The cover needs no fixing; Our heroine, young Elizabeth, is leaning against a young strappin' tree of a certain girth, fanning herself - as the irascible Lord Charles Lufford looks on.  Politely holding a hat to hide his throbbing man-hood, which is afixin' to burst out of its cotton confinement. 
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For no reason what so ever, I decided to read the blurb.  And I have figured out a way to completely fix it.
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First.  The original....
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Tongues were set wagging when Elizabeth Markham's glamorous young parents were killed, leaving their only child to the unspeakable class of poor relation. Forced to live with her cruel, miserly uncle Julius, Elizabeth was forbidden to participate in the season's festivities. Elizabeth realized that marriage was her only escape, and she decided on a daring plan: she would trick her way into the Duke of Dunster's exclusive house party and snare one of the eligible bachelors sure to be happy to dance with her. 

Elizabeth's plan succeeded swimmingly, as she flirted with everyone with the exception of the arrogant Lord Charles Lufford, who was considered by those in the know to be quite a catch. She ignored Charles thoroughly until her uncle discovered her deception and it was, of all people, Charles who saved her - by announcing their engagement! 

But Elizabeth's troubles were far from over. In her absence she had come into an inheritance and her uncle, along with another sinister party, would rather see her dead than receive.
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Let us not dwell on M.C.Beaton's run on sentences and happenstance use of punctuation (glass houses and all...).
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No - here is the problem.  This parable of love and lust in the antebellum south needs to be spoken with a south southern drawl.  Like Scarlett O'Hara, or Senator Lindsey Graham.   Like this...
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My oh my, how tongues were set awaggin' when Elizabeth Markham's glamorous young parents were killed, leaving their only child orphaned. And then, horrors, to be raised by an unspeakable class of poor relation. Forced to live with her cruel, miserly uncle Julius, with only her personal slave in attendance, poor Elizabeth was forbidden even to participate in the season's festivities; the apple bob, the bar-b-que, the lynchings - why it was more than she could take.

 After more than a week in the heartless, cold home of her closeted-Yankee Uncle, Elizabeth realized that marriage was her only escape.  She was after all, a budding beauty of 16 - almost a spinster. Miss Elizabeth decided on a daring plan: she would trick her way into the Duke of Dunster's exclusive house party.  There, her delicate fan and ample dewy bosom on display, she would surely snare one of the eligible bachelors.  They would as happy to dance with her as Prissy was to bring her her morning Mint Julip. 

Miss Elizabeth's plan succeeded swimmingly, as she flirted with everyone, like a common strumpet. She flirted with everyone, that is except the arrogant Lord Charles Lufford, who was considered by those in the know to be quite a catch. She ignored Charles thoroughly - she hadn't watch Gone With The Wind 20 times for nuttin'. Yes she ignored that dastardly Rhett Butler until her uncle discovered her deception and it was, of all people, Charles who saved her - by announcing their engagement!  She swooned!

But Elizabeth's troubles were far from over.  Surprisingly, a unexpected announcement of engagement by a man she had never spoken to, did not clear up all of her problems.  Mercy, what more does a girl have to do?  In her absence she had come into an inheritance and her uncle, along with another sinister party, would rather see her dead than receive it.  Bad luck really.

Why oh why, it is near to impossible to life your simple as a rich southern new bride (with a fabulous bosom), married to a man you hardly know, running from a unspeakable class of money-grubbing Uncle Orange Julis.  Prissy - cocktails in the music room, now!