Two NYC cops, and their killer, joined an average of 82 Americans killed today, and every day, by guns. Brinsley apparently also shot his girlfriend before departing Baltimore for NYC. She survived. If you have seen some web comments you have probably seen the wingnuts of the right are out in force. In interviews on TV they are implying and/or blaming this tragic crime on, Obama, Al Sharpton, Democrat Mayor deBlasio, blacks in general, and of course 'liberals'.
The last time I wrote about Christmas I thought I was being pretty polite, considering the message I was getting from my friends and relatives and neighbors at the height of the War on Christmas. To wit: How DARE you even THINK about not wishing me a Merry Christmas! Which, of course, led me to respond by pleading "not guilty"--which caused me to tell a lie at Christmas since I didn't feel the least bit guilty. Why would I?
Initially, when Sony announced it was yanking the premiere of the Seth Rogen/James Franco comedy The Interview I thought that Sony's marketing people had come up with a way to make lemonade out of the hacking situation. The media giant could easily cut deals with Amazon, Netflix and the larger cable companies to stream the movie so great that North Korean leader Kim Jung-Un sent terrorists to stop you from seeing it.
New York joins a small but growing conglomeration of states and cities which have instituted bans on fracking, including an astounding decision by the city of Denton, in North Texas, about fifty miles from where I live. The bans are highly significant and give me a shot of optimism here at year end especially because citizen activism has played such a huge roll in these bans. I can remember watching Mark Ruffalo on T.V. a few years back elucidating the health dangers of fracking in his native upstate New York, and truthfully, I thought he was a voice in the wilderness---but his involvement changed things.
Hello folks. Our old friend Wolfrum passed on a splendid invitation to me yesterday. In the early-ish days of the blogosphere, a writer named Al Weisel launched a faux-conservative blog under the pseudonym Jon Swift. His hilarious, award-winning satire quickly propelled him to the top ranks of the blog community, but he generously supported smaller bloggers struggling to gain an audience. One of his outreach projects was an annual competition called, "Best Posts of the Year, Chosen by the Bloggers Themselves."
There's been a ton of ink spilled recently about the dearth of women in STEM fields and there's no shortage of people advocating strategies for significantly increasing the number of women who enter these fields. I was thinking about this yesterday while reading Jeff Guo's Washington Post article about the expanding gender gap in the attainment of college degrees and the theory that it's due to career choice. He mentions the speculation (from Goldin, Katz, and Kuziemko) that this is just a result of natural differences making themselves evident. However, like those who discount the idea that the STEM gap is attributable just to 'boys are better at math,' I've always considered it highly doubtful that this is what is really driving the disparity.
Today, David Brooks gives us the requisite "police officers have hard jobs" column. Whenever we discuss police brutality, somebody says this and in the most recent discussions, it's been said quite often, Police officers have hard jobs. Very few of us non-police officers envy their professions. It has few reliable perks. You can use a siren to run red lights.
I have a fun party story about a road trip that went through Texas, way too fast, wound up in a kind of high speed pursuit and ended with a very reasonable ticket. The punch-line is that the story would have been tragic had the trooper searched my car. What also makes the story kind of funny is that while I was driving way too fast I was in total control of my vehicle, on an empty straight-away in the Texas panhandle. My crime was victim free, as speeding cases go. That the punishment was light was, in the end, appropriate.
Ross Douthat frets that Ferguson is now too ambiguous a story for people who are against the militarization of American police forces to use to make their case. Me, I tend to think that supporters of military-surplus policing always seem to find ambiguity. They have not been phased by actions taken by police forces since at least the WTO protests of the 1990s. Some people just love authority.
“You can do many things with a bayonet, except sit on it.” (Talleyrand)
There is never a good or easy time to argue that the United States should begin to completely reset the character of its foreign policy, especially when the argument being made – as here – is that a key element in that resetting must be a reduction in the scale and role of American arms abroad. Anyone making that kind of case invariably touches a deep American nerve, so that any resulting rebuttal often moves quickly from an argument about facts to one about patriotism.
A retired Black disabled vet said,
. "...to recite the Pledge of Allegiance and sing the National Anthem causes conflict within me. I grew up watching Cowboys vs. Indians every Saturday morning, John Wayne war movies, and the Combat TV program. In a nutshell, I knew early on it was my destiny to become a 'fighting man' who would proudly wear the uniform of MY country because I would make my fellow countrymen proud. I would die, with honor. Taps played at my funeral, followed by a rifle volley...
I'm having a hard time believing Darren Wilson's story, particularly where he says that Michael Brown, while struggling for the cop's weapon in a confrontation that lasted less than a minute, said, "you're too much of a pussy to shoot me." This brings to mind the words that George Zimmerman put into the mouth of Trayvon Martin -- all bluster and villainy, the street thug equivalent of Dr. Doom telling Mr. Fantastic that "You'll crumble before the power of my atomic nullifier!" rather than just using the damned thing.
John Kennedy, even with his publicly reported physical frailties, was a man with an almost mythical presence. He was young and vibrant, he had a beautiful wife and two small children, and, true or not, we perceived him as the peoples' president--as close to being one of us, his wealth notwithstanding, as we were likely to get. He was the FDR we had been wishing for.
I go a little nuts when I hear Democrats talk about the recent election in terms of programs and policies---that we simply didn't blow our own horns loudly enough. We exist in a society so dominated by a media focus on celebrity that no subject with even a smidgen of factual information has a chance of taking more than one breath in a public forum. Last week a space ship landed on a comet---breathtaking. Unfortunately the comet landing was easily upstaged with a camera lens which landed on Kim Kardashian's bare backside. Personally, I did not go looking for Kim's buttocks. But every time I turned on my computer, there was the picture again and again. Kim has reached the lunar landing level of celebrity status---her latest quip being, "One large cheek for man, the other cheek for mankind". Democrats will win when they master the art of manufactured personas and studied quips, not when they can explain policies better.
In the wake of an electoral setback on the scale experienced by the Democrats two weeks ago, the temptation to immediately rush to judgment is enormous. So also, if my e-mails and robo-calls are any guide, is the temptation to engage in yet more fundraising, as though money was the big thing of which Democrats were short. But both temptations need to be resisted. We need to throw less money and more brainpower at our politics, and we need to take our time doing both.
The Silk Road might have started as a libertarian experiment, but it was doomed to end as a fiefdom run by pirate kings. The Hidden Wiki holds the keys to a secret internet. To reach it, you need a special browser that can access ‘Tor Hidden Services’ – websites that have chosen to obscure their physical location. Sites such as the Hidden Wiki provide unreliable treasure maps. They publish lists of the special addresses for sites where you can use Bitcoin to buy drugs or stolen credit card numbers, play strange games, or simply talk, perhaps on subjects too delicate for the open web. The lists are often untrustworthy. Sometimes the addresses are out-of-date. Sometimes they are actively deceptive.
The murder of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov: “The investigation is considering several versions,” the statements said. The first it listed was: “a murder as a provocation to destabilize the political situation in the country, where the figure of Nemtsov could have become a sort of sacrificial victim for those who stop at nothing to achieve their political goals.” Putin has said he will "personally oversee" the investigation.
GOP Anti-vaxxer: Rep. Barry Loudermilk, a Georgia Republican.....chair of a key congressional subcommittee on science and technology...responding to a woman who asked whether he'd be looking into...if the (CDC) had covered up information linking vaccines to autism. He responded with a rather unscientific personal anecdote: "I believe it's the parents' decision whether to immunize or not…Most of our children, we didn't immunize. They're healthy."
The culture wars continued: Avijit Roy, whose Mukto-Mona (Free-mind) blog championed liberal secular writing in the Muslim-majority nation, attacked along with his wife in Dhaka...Roy, said to be around 40, is the second Bangladeshi blogger to have been murdered in two years and the fourth writer to have been attacked since 2004. Hardline Islamist groups have long demanded the public execution of atheist bloggers and sought new laws to combat writing critical of Islam....