Mar 212016

I’m off to another late start today, because, before doing my research, I planned my grocery list for the week.  Then I made a five day batch of my infamous γέεννα chili.  I’ll eat a bunch tonight, and tomorrow, I’ll look for Republicans to stand in front of.  I’m about to take a break for lunch, and I’m just starting to write.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 3:55 (average 5:21).  To do it, click here. How did you do?

From Daily Kos: Ted Koppel and Bill O’Reilly are apparently friendly. They seem to have a professional relationship that extends into cocktail parties and other events that I think can be described as “swanky.” Koppel will have civil conversations with O’Reilly on The O’Reilly Factor—it usually coincides with promoting a book. Bill, feeling the pressure of last night’s [3/3] debate coming up and the interview with Republican frontrunner Donald Trump in his future, wanted to get some pointers from the veteran Koppel.


And Koppel accurately describing the Republican Reichsministry of Propaganda, Faux Noise, is nothing new, as you shall see.

From YouTube: Ted Koppel: Fox News ‘Bad for America’


Kudos to Koppel. Honest unbiased journalism is usually categorized as "liberal", because the center of the media spectrum is so far right-biased. What O’Lielly calls noble, I call evil.

From NY Times: Shouts of “U.S.A.!” and “Obama!” echoed over the stone plazas as President Obama and his family made their way around rain-slicked courtyards in Old Havana on Sunday evening, savoring the adulation of Cubans welcoming him warmly despite a driving rain as he began a history-making visit.

“Welcome to Cuba! We like you!” a man shouted as Mr. Obama’s entourage passed. Above, a woman applauded and hooted from her wrought-iron balcony.

Later, a motorcade including the presidential limousine, adorned for the first time with Cuban and American flags, snaked through narrow streets where elated residents, their clothing soaked from waiting in the rain, hoisted cellphones and cheered the first sitting American leader to set foot on Cuban soil in 88 years.

Mr. Obama himself marveled aloud at the significance of his trip.

“It’s a historic opportunity to engage directly with the Cuban people and to forge new agreements and commercial deals,” he told employees of the United States Embassy, his first stop in the country, “and build new ties between our two peoples, and for me to lay out my vision for a future that’s brighter than our past.”

Kudos to Obama. Kudos to Cuba. Pffffffft!! to the Republican Party for trying to sabotage peace.



Jan 312016

It’s time to turn the page on another month.  This morning I cooked an entire package of bacon to eat with breakfasts over the next two weeks.  Standing up on George, every time something needs to be done, makes it a lot of work.  To day is sort of a holy day in the Church of the Ellipsoid Orb.  I may not even meditate.  The league has ruined the Pro Bowl.  Holding it before the Super Bowl prevents players from the league’s two best teams from participating.  Making it a pick-up game instead of AFC against NFC eliminates conference pride as a motive to play harder.  They should go back to the way it used to be.  I hope your January was happy, memorable, and productive.

Jig Zone Puzzle:

Today’s took me 5:15 (average 8:09).  To do it, click here. n How did you do?

Short Takes:

From Daily Kos: One of the most important differences between Sanders and Clinton summarized in one image.


That one says it all!

From NY Times: For the past painful year, the Republican presidential contenders have been bombarding Americans with empty propaganda slogans and competing, bizarrely, to present themselves as the least experienced person for the most important elected job in the world. Democratic primary voters, on the other hand, after a substantive debate over real issues, have the chance to nominate one of the most broadly and deeply qualified presidential candidates in modern history.

Hillary Clinton would be the first woman nominated by a major party. She served as a senator from a major state (New York) and as secretary of state — not to mention her experience on the national stage as first lady with her brilliant and flawed husband, President Bill Clinton. The Times editorial board has endorsed her three times for federal office — twice for Senate and once in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary — and is doing so again with confidence and enthusiasm.

Mrs. Clinton’s main opponent, Senator Bernie Sanders, a self-described Democratic Socialist, has proved to be more formidable than most people, including Mrs. Clinton, anticipated. He has brought income inequality and the lingering pain of the middle class to center stage and pushed Mrs. Clinton a bit more to the left than she might have gone on economic issues. Mr. Sanders has also surfaced important foreign policy questions, including the need for greater restraint in the use of military force.

In the end, though, Mr. Sanders does not have the breadth of experience or policy ideas that Mrs. Clinton offers. His boldest proposals — to break up the banks and to start all over on health care reform with a Medicare-for-all system — have earned him support among alienated middle-class voters and young people. But his plans for achieving them aren’t realistic, while Mrs. Clinton has very good, and achievable, proposals in both areas.

I think the Times’ endorsement of Hillary reflects their establishment view. In spite of Hillary’s greater breadth of experience, I consider Bernie the better candidate. But either is an infinite improvement over any Republican candidate.

From PBS (2006): …he [Walter Cronkite] went to Vietnam and reported that he had seen the lies, corruption, and stalemate in that war and that it was time for us to go.

President Lyndon Johnson listened to Cronkite’s verdict with dismay and real sadness. As he famously remarked to an aide, “If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost America.” After all, this was not one of the young, brash reporters like Morley Safer or Jack Laurence pricking the president’s power. It was Cronkite, veteran of World War II, a man of unimpeachable patriotism… [emphasis added]

Many of you commented sadness over the Tet Offensive, portrayed in yesterday’s Cartoon. But, I think it was the best thing that could have happened. Up until that time, the peace movement, though able to field as many as 500,000 demonstrators, was relatively small, made up mostly of students. Most Americans believed the military that we were willing the war and it was almost over. Tet exposed the lies, and because of it, Walter Cronkite went to Vietnam to see for himself. His report, something we would never see today from a network anchor, turned the majority of Americans strongly against the war. Tet was the turning point that, eventually, brought the war to an end.



A Republican day of wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Jan 172016

Today is another high holy day in the Church of the Ellipsoid Orb.  Congrats to the Patriots and the Cardinals who the Orb blessed yesterday.  The later game was a nail biter, but I have to say, as a disinterested party, that the Cardinals had extraordinary assistance from the Zebras on more than one occasion.  Today I suspect that the Panthers will dine on Fricassee of Seachicken.  My Broncos can beet the Steelers, if the right Broncos show up and stay for all 60 minutes.  I don’t have to tell you my plans for the day.

Jig Zoned Puzzle:

Today’s took me 4:43 (average 6:03).  To do it, click here.  How did you do?

Short Takes:

From The New Yorker: A fact checker who has vetted all of the 2016 Republican Presidential debates was hospitalized for exhaustion during the sixth G.O.P. forum in Charleston on Thursday evening.

Martin Slessky, a former journalist who works for HonestyWatch, a Minnesota-based fact-checking organization, was resting comfortably after suffering what his doctors called a “total physical and mental collapse” during Thursday’s debate.

Harland Dorrinson, the executive director of HonestyWatch, said he first became concerned about Slessky’s health when the fact checker started having heart palpitations and shortness of breath every time Texas senator Ted Cruz spoke.

“I turned to Martin and said, ‘Are you all right? Are you going to be able to make it through this?’ ” Dorrinson said. “And he said, ‘I’ll be fine. Ben Carson is starting to talk now, that’ll be soothing.’ ”

But moments later, when New Jersey governor Chris Christie falsely claimed that he never supported the nomination of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Slessky experienced acute dizziness and blurry vision, and was immediately rushed to the hospital.

Andy, I’m amazed his job didn’t kill him.

From Daily Kos: Charles Carter and Vincent Smith were right-wing extremists planning a "Paul Revere 2016 Final March to Restore America" [Republican Ammosexuals Delinked] — a cross-country caravan to “remove the corrupt leadership that has taken over our beloved country and ousted her God and constitution.“

On Monday, police in Grayson County, Texas reported one person was dead as the result of a gunshot wound to the head. Although they didn’t name the victim or the suspect, Raw Story​ notes that right-wingers on Facebook were quick to identify the victim as Charles Carter and the shooter as Vincent Smith: [Republicans delinked]

Posthumous Barf Bag Alert!!


Throw the book at the Republican murderer. I shall not mourn the victim.

From NY Times: The United States and European nations lifted oil and financial sanctions on Iran and released roughly $100 billion of its assets after international inspectors concluded that the country had followed through on promises to dismantle large sections of its nuclear program.

So far diplomacy has worked, and Iran has taken steps that Republicans predicted would never happen. Nevertheless, Republicans are still beating the drums of war.



Nov 252015

Hmmmmmmmmmmm . . . it was an ordinary day with nothing untoward happening.  Something must be wrong! Even the weather was great and no sibling rivalries from the feline side of the family!  I'll celebrate while I can!

Puzzle — Today’s took me 2:42 (average 4:41). To do it, click here. How did you do? 

Short Takes

Daily Kos  While Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning and John Kiriakou are vilified for revealing vital information about spying and bombing and torture, a man who conspired with Goldman Sachs to make billions of dollars on the planned failure of subprime mortgages was honored by New York University for his "Outstanding Contributions to Society." 

This is one example of the distorted thinking leading to the demise of a once-vibrant American society. There are other signs of decay: 

1. A House Bill Would View Corporate Crimes as 'Honest Mistakes' 

Wealthy conservatives are pushing a bill that would excuse corporate leaders from financial fraud, environmental pollution, and other crimes that America's greatest criminals deem simply reckless or negligent. The Heritage Foundation attempts to rationalize, saying "someone who simply has an accident by being slightly careless can hardly be said to have acted with a 'guilty mind.'" 

One must wonder, then, what extremes of evil, in the minds of conservatives, led to criminal charges against people apparently aware of their actions: the Ohio woman who took coins from a fountain to buy food; the California man who broke into a church kitchen to find something to eat; and the 90-year-old Florida activist who boldly tried to feed the homeless

Of course, even without the explicit protection of Congress, CEOs are rarely charged for their crimes. Not a single Wall Street executive faced prosecution for the fraud-ridden 2008 financial crisis. 

Click through for 4 more signs of a decaying society.  These bring to mind scenes in Detroit where water and sanitation was cut off to thousands because they couldn't pay for water etc, bills usually being a couple hundred dollars.  But some golf courses etc owned and used by the wealthy, with arrears in the thousands and tens of thousands of dollars, had no water cut offs.  It isn't hard to see who has their priorities screwed up.

Politicususa — Now, it appears that Fox News, the religious right, and conservative pundits have another “war on Christmas” enemy to add to their growing list of atheists, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews, Wiccans, Heathens, and Muslims who they say hate Christmas. The newest combatant joining the fake war on Christmas went beyond opposing saying Merry Christmas or protesting against Christian Christmas displays on government property and actually assailed the holiday celebration as a farce; likely because he is the supreme leader of the Catholic Church and not involved in conservative America’s silly Christmas outrage.

Pope On War

During a Mass at Casa Santa Maria, Pope Francis quietly committed one of the most heinous sins to American conservatives and religious right fanatics. There have been a world of things this “progressive” Pope has said to incite Republicans, conservatives, and evangelicals to abject anger and outrage, and each and every time it is because he talks like the Christian bible’s humanitarian Jesus. This latest incident is no different and is another signal that on a couple of important issues, Francis is a progressive pope; and an honest-to-dog humanitarian.

Click through for the rest.  I can hear Bill O'Reilly now, totally apoplectic, screaming that the Pope has no idea what he's talking about!  I am not a catholic, but I can definitely get behind him on some issues, and this is one.  I have felt for years that Christmas is about excessive and conspicuous consumption.  The real Christmas comes every day wrapped in plain, unadorned paper.  It is the extended hand to refugees, a kind word, volunteering in a soup kitchen or a food bank so others might have food, holding the hand of someone who is afraid, and many more.

Talking Points Memo — Writing for the 7th Circuit majority, Judge Richard Posner called the contention that the law would protect women's health "nonexistent." He said the law would put more women in danger by increasing the waiting times for abortions, which could push some procedures into the second trimester.

"What makes no sense is to abridge the constitutional right to abortion on the basis of spurious contentions regarding women's health — and the abridgement challenged in this case would actually endanger women's health," he wrote.

He also said that a woman who experiences complications from an abortion will go to the nearest hospital, which will treat her regardless of whether her abortion doctor has admitting privileges there.

Click through to read the rest.  Of course the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear a Texas case come spring which will affect all states.

My Universe h/t John Gray, Care2

At least this young lady got the kitten's bumb and not claws as was my misfortune when I was the trampoline 7 yearrs ago!

Oct 042015

I thought today would be a generally laid back day.  Yeh, right!  After finishing a doctor's appointment and one other short errand, I thought I would play with my kids for a bit and then get down to doing some research for the coming days.  Things didn't unfold like that.  A call from my student, Lucia, had me at her house helping with some paperwork.  I didn't arrive home until after 7 pm and I was tired. I did however get some research done, but that other chore . . . laundry . . . never got done.  I must get it done tomorrow!

Puzzle — Today’s took me 3:23 (average 5:00). To do it, click here. How did you do? For those that don't know, we always do the 48 piece classic.

Short Takes

Foreign Policy — I suspect it is because we mistakenly confuse a desire for peace with weakness and we assume anyone who exhibits a passionate commitment to peace is some sort of “Kumbaya”-singing idealist who just doesn’t understand how the world works and is therefore not tough enough for the Big Job. As Leslie Gelb, the former president of the Council on Foreign Relations and an experienced national security professional, admitted a few years ago that preserving one’s credibility in the foreign-policy establishment requires a certain enthusiasm for the use of military power. Even Obama felt compelled to give a rather hawkish speech when he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize (!), lest anyone infer he wasn’t tough enough to be the Leader of the Free World.

The current veneration of all things military reinforces this problem, to the point that hardly any politicians or ordinary citizens will utter a critical word about “the troops” or their commanders. The United States has become better at starting wars than at winning or finishing them, yet it still treats unsuccessful generals with enormous deference and punctuates sporting contests with aerial flybys and other displays of martial fervor. I’m all for thanking veterans for their service and respecting their sacrifices, but I’d rather show it by providing better medical treatment for veterans afterward than by giving the Pentagon a free pass.

Read the rest of this interesting article at Foreign Policy.  What should peace look like?  Should it be just the cessation of hostilities, or should it be deeper, more profound?

Upworthy — Right now, in the small village of Deh'Subz, Afghanistan, the first private, free, rural women's college in the nation's history is being built.

The pioneer behind the project?

Photo courtesy of Razia's Ray of Hope Foundation.

71-year-old Razia Jan, an educator who grew up in a more liberal Afghanistan before Taliban occupation. She later moved to the U.S. to attend Harvard University and then settled in Massachusetts.

Read more about how Razia Jan is changing the lives of girl's, their parents and their villages.  About a month ago, I posted Get Girls Back in the Classroom in Care2.  If you did not have a chance to sign it then, please consider it today.  An educated girl makes a big difference to herself, her family and her community.  and let us not forget Malala Yousafzai who said  "I truly believe the only way we can create global peace is through not only educating our minds, but our hearts and our souls."

Foreign Policy — On Thursday afternoon, the world received its answer. After months of speculation, India finally released its formal greenhouse gas emissions plan for the COP 21 conference. And the answer is promising.

Fossil fuels will still make up a large percentage of the global energy mix until at least 2040 — even with robust growth of renewables. This is particularly true of India. The Indian INDC partially acknowledges this, to the extent that, while promising action on climate change, it also asks the developed world for “equitable carbon and development space” — in essence, arguing that since India has been responsible for a historically low proportion of emissions activity, it cannot be asked to make drastic emissions cuts at a time when it needs as much effort as possible directed at fighting endemic poverty. If developed nations wish India to be a responsible player on climate change, this plan argues, the country needs assistance, especially financial, in aggressively adopting new low- and zero-carbon technologies.

Read the whole article at Foreign Policy.  India has some doable goals for emissions, but with so many of her people caught in profound poverty, it won't be easy, nor will it be short term.

My Universe —   

Thanks to Ted W and Carol B @ Care2 for finding this gem.

Having lived in the north, I can relate!