Culture

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Obama White House Sponsors Young and Rich Narcissistic 1% Fucktards That Will Ruin the World

Proving it is never too late to shine your lame duck ass for a new generation of 1% oligarchs, Barack Obama laid open the real constituency of national politicians. And proved certain any inference that such was only the constituency and province of the GOP, Koch Brothers et. al is false.

If this is not stupid and ugly to the common Democratic fanchild, it is hard to imagine what is, or could be. From the New York Times hagiography:

On a crisp morning in late March, an elite group of 100 young philanthropists and heirs to billionaire family fortunes filed into a cozy auditorium at the White House.

Their name tags read like a catalog of the country’s wealthiest and most influential clans: Rockefeller, Pritzker, Marriott. They were there for a discreet, invitation-only summit hosted by the Obama administration to find common ground between the public sector and the so-called next-generation philanthropists, many of whom stand to inherit billions in private wealth.

“Moon shots!” one administration official said, kicking off the day on an inspirational note to embrace the White House as a partner and catalyst for putting their personal idealism into practice.

“Moon shots!”

I guess the Obama White House couldn’t fathom a better phrase for coming in their pants over big money.

If there is a more sick comment on the perverted state of US national politics, it is hard to imagine what it would be.

We are ruled by a bunch of oligarchs, and political handmaidens that kiss the oligarch’s asses and hew their beck and call. If the fact the great once and forever symbol of the common citizen “hope and change”, Barack Obama, is such a distant leader, constantly beholden to not only the future of the moneyed class, but the current too, then there is no reality for the American public.

The well-heeled group seemed receptive. “I think it’s fantastic,” said Patrick Gage, a 19-year-old heir to the multibillion-dollar Carlson hotel and hospitality fortune. “I’ve never seen anything like this before.” Mr. Gage, physically boyish with naturally swooping Bieber bangs, wore a conservative pinstripe suit and a white oxford shirt. His family’s Carlson company, which owns Radisson hotels, Country Inns and Suites, T.G.I. Friday’s and other brands, is an industry leader in enforcing measures to combat trafficking and involuntary prostitution.

Oh my. And holy crap.

The New York Times penned a factual report of this sick instance. Will the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, or any of the other august opinion pages of national press, deign themselves honest enough to write opinion and/or editorial pieces recognizing this political cancer for what it really is?

If you did not view the video, and listen to the lyrics in the video above, do so. Because that is exactly the class of “super citizens” your elected leaders are beholden to. The handful of billionaires count for far more than the actual billions of people on this earth.

Want proof? Look no further than the “liberal”, “socialist”, “Democratic” Obama White House, who just demonstrated the problem in Technicolor.

And, before you chafe, of course it would be even worse with Republicans in charge. But the question is no longer just which party is in control of the levers of power (though it DOES matter for SCOTUS), but where the values of the country really are.

It is almost impossible to fathom the country’s values are with the pimple faced, Bieber banged, teenager scions of billionaires the Obama White House so calmly and cooly glad-hands.

[Seriously, watch the video from the one, the only, fantastic Tubes:

Young and rich
Everything I desire
Light bulbs with shades
in every room
And work is play--believe me
Nothing must come too hard
It comes in the mail
most everyday

Maybe our leaders should find a more representative, and morally balanced, set of leaders for the future.]

Jan Brewer’s Veto of SB-1062, Timing and Best Interests of Arizona

Grand Canyon SunriseYes, I framed the title of this article as if Governor Brewer has already vetoed the discriminatory piece of legislation known as SB-1062. Because it is a done deal and, frankly, has been from the start. I am thankful for all the support that national people, and regular citizens and groups from all over the country, have given to the veto effort, it has been extremely helpful in giving Brewer cover for the veto to come.

But it was coming anyway, and that was the case from the moment the bill was passed out of the state legislature late in the day last Thursday, February 20.

Indeed, as I write this, MSNBC has Joy Reid on the air babbling about “WHAT HAS TAKEN BREWER SO LONG!”. But that is symbolic of the hyperventilating demagoguery that has also been part of this discussion. The simple fact of the matter is that the bill was not even transmitted to the Governor’s office until Monday the 24th and Brewer did not return from her trip to Washington with other governors until late Tuesday the 25th. So, despite the hue and cry, the first real opportunity for Brewer to formally enter her veto is today. So, what is “taking so long”, at least until today, is not really a mystery in the least.

Now, let’s talk about why the veto was a foregone conclusion if you really understand Arizona politics. First off, let me start by saying that the often popular characterization of Jan Brewer as a raging ideological shrew is not particularly accurate on the whole. In fact, my take on her going back to the 1980s, when she was a somewhat amusingly unfiltered voice in the state house of Representatives, is that she is personally a decent lady, albeit one of a conservative bent. She is, however, an aggressively pragmatic politician, which factors into the following reasons she was going to veto SB-1062 from the get go.

Here are several of the critical reasons why:

1) Brewer took some hard lumps, and rightfully so, in the matter of SB 1070, the 2010 immigration enforcement law that was discriminatory in animus, and saw up close and personal what wrath could be generated by business and the national public on an issue like this. And, by the way, it should be noted that SB-1062 does not just provide enhanced sanction of discrimination against the LGBT community, but potentially a whole spectrum of other groups. These groups matter, and Brewer knows it.

2) Brewer has, for pretty much the entirety of her career been shepherded and advised by a close group of advisors, with the most primary one being Chuck Coughlin. There are others of current significance, including Grant Woods and Matthew Benson. Any move Brewer makes has involved advice from her inner circle and she listens to them. And she should, they have taken her way further than ever was imaginable when she started off in the legislature. What is one defining focus among all these critical advisors, but, again, notably Coughlin? The Arizona business community. Always. And the advisors, too, remember the 1070 strife and have seen the trend and movement in the country and courts on LGBT rights. Coughlin et. al are the definition of conservative, but they are not stupid.

3) The Arizona business community was hoping they never had to get to this point, but once SB-1062 was passed, there was simply no question but that they would lobby hard against signature by the Governor. It was far from just me who realized this, so too did one of the best local political reporters, Brahm Resnik. So too did long time Republican PR and political specialist Barrett Marson:

Just a few hours after passage of #SB1062, can there be any doubt that @GovBrewer will veto it? Biz groups en masse coming out against.

And boy have they. As a native here, it has actually been pretty refreshing to see big business step up on this one as they have. The Arizona Chamber of Commerce, Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, Southern Arizona Leadership Council, Intel, Apple, JPMorgan Chase, GoDaddy Group, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, Marriott Hotels, all major newspapers and a plethora of others started stepping up almost immediately on passage

There are other reasons, including the nearly across the spectrum outcry of major Arizona politicians, including both US senators, and even several of the state legislators who originally voted for the pernicious SB-1062. But my original analysis, along with many here in the Copper State, was that veto was inevitable because of the business interest.

Once the issue of “if” there will be a veto was out of the way, the real question became “when”. As described above, the timing of the veto did not even start until presentment to the Governor’s office Monday, and, really, last night when Jan Brewer returned to Phoenix. But now it is time. The damage and unnecessary humiliation from the whackadoodle legislature is already significant. Governor Brewer IS going to veto this thing, and she should do herself, and the state, a serious favor and do so immediately. I started agitating for this before Brewer even returned from Washington DC.

The point was also made this morning by a prominent Democrat in the state senate, Anna Tovar:

Well, we are very optimistic she will veto the bill, but again, every second she doesn’t veto the bill is a black mark on the state of Arizona. We’ve asked the governor as of yesterday to swiftly veto this bill when she arrived yesterday, the second she got off the plane.

Arizona is in the headlines for all the wrong reasons, we want to focus on the priorities of our state.

That is a fact. Republicans are saying it, Democrats are saying it, the business community is saying it, I am saying it. Brewer has until late Saturday night to issue the veto before SB-1062 becomes law. It is widely expected she will do it, at a minimum, before Friday night’s Arizona Chamber of Commerce dinner honoring her, and that is almost certainly correct. But Friday afternoon is not soon enough. Not at all.

It is absolutely in the best interests of both the state of Arizona and Jan Brewer to issue her veto of SB-1062 immediately.

Do it now. Do not wait one more painful and damaging second.

Super Bowl Sex Trafficking Trash Talk 2014

Now that the super exciting Pro Bowl is over (shoot that thing and put us all out of its worthless misery), we are down to just one last football game. But it is a good one, with the top ranked team in each conference representing, and the best offense versus the best defense. And all that jazz.

And, really, what else is there to say about the game at this point? It has been the fascination of sports, general and entertainment media for two weeks of hype now. I could take you through the normal rundown on the teams, but why? My one real take is that the game boils down not to Denver’s offense or Seattle’s defense, but rather to Denver’s defense. Peyton and the Broncos will score some points no matter how well they are defended. The same cannot necessarily be said about the Seahawks. So, if the Broncos defense plays big, Denver wins. If not, they don’t.

Can’t wait to find out; will be one hell of an exciting game to watch. If you can’t wait and want a simulation, this Breaking Madden piece is pretty great.

So, let’s talk for a bit about the game itself in terms of what it means and does for the host city. Does hosting a Super Bowl mean as much to a city as is commonly claimed?

Here is a report on the effects of 2008 Super Bowl XLII on the greater Phoenix area by the Arizona State University WP Carey School of Business. The results claim:

Super Bowl festivities generated a record $500.6 million in direct and indirect spending by visiting fans and organizations, according to the newly released Super Bowl impact study produced by the W. P. Carey MBA Sports Business program.

The gross impact of a half billion dollars in the Arizona marketplace brings rejuvenation to an economy that has been weakened by a recession.

The ripple effect of return visits, family and company relocations, and word-of-mouth marketing nationally could equal or exceed the record Super Bowl spending in years to come.

That is in line with many of the claims that are commonly pitched for Super Bowls, but is that right?

Well, maybe not. There are a lot of demands on a host city, and they really add up. One of the best journalists out there writing on the intersection of sports and society is Travis Waldron, and he reported this on the eve of last year’s Super Bowl in New Orleans:

Those estimates, though, are likely fool’s gold, according to an assortment of academic research into the actual economic impact of Super Bowls and other major sporting events. When professors Victor Matheson and Robert Baade studied the economic impact of Super Bowls from 1973 to 1997, they found that the games boosted city economies by about $30 million, “roughly one-tenth the figures touted by the NFL” and an even smaller fraction of what New Orleans officials predict. A later Baade and Matheson study found that the economic impact of a Super Bowl is “on average one-quarter or less the magnitude of the most recent NFL estimates.”

Similarly, a 1999 paper from professor Philip Porter found that the Super Bowl had virtually no effect on a city’s economy. Research on other events New Orleans has hosted, including the men’s Final Four, is similar. When Baade and Matheson studied Final Fours, they found that the events tend “not to translate into any measurable benefits to the host cities.”

There are multiple reasons the estimates are often overstated. Impact estimates usually take into account how much money will be spent in the city during an event like the Super Bowl without examining how much potential spending will be lost because people don’t visit or leave the city to avoid the crowd — that is, the impact studies account for gross spending, but not net spending. And the estimates rarely include the additional cost of putting on the event, further distorting the disparity between gross and net spending figures.

Frankly, I find the Williams College study undergirding Travis’ argument far more persuasive than the happy face one put out here by ASU that is cited above. Still, even if the net impact is “only” 150-200 million dollars, that is a good thing for a city’s economy. And I don’t know what people going to the Super Bowl in cold weather place like New Jersey/New York are going to come away Continue reading

Glass Shattered: California Supreme Court Denies Stephen Glass Law License

The decision is in, and the California Supreme Court has made their decision to refuse to grant Stephen Glass a law license in the State of California.

We conclude that on this record he has not sustained his heavy burden of demonstrating rehabilitation and fitness for the practice of law.

The full opinion is here.

Ironically, the California Bar’s initial hearing officer, the entity that actually deals with line level lawyers and their practice on a day to day basis in California, found Glass had demonstrated reform and good character so as to be fit for practice. The The State Bar Court Review Department independently reviewed the record and agreed with the initial finding of character fitness for practice. Instead, it was the more insulated elitists in the Bar Committee, and ultimately in the California Supreme Court, who thought otherwise.

Glass’s conduct as a journalist exhibited moral turpitude sustained over an extended period. As the Review Department dissent emphasized, he engaged in “fraud of staggering‟ proportions” and he “use[d] . . . his exceptional writing skills to publicly and falsely malign people and organizations for actions they did not do and faults they did not have.” As the dissent further commented, for two years he “engaged in a multi-layered, complex, and harmful course of public dishonesty.” Glass’s journalistic dishonesty was not a single lapse of judgment, which we have sometimes excused, but involved significant deceit sustained unremittingly for a period of years. (See Hall v. Committee of Bar Examiners (1979) 25 Cal.3d 730, 742 [applications may be rejected in cases of “numerous fraudulent acts” and “false statements”].) Glass’s deceit also was motivated by professional ambition, betrayed a vicious, mean spirit and a complete lack of compassion for others, along with arrogance and prejudice against various ethnic groups. In all these respects, his misconduct bore directly on his character in matters that are critical to the practice of law.

and

Glass’s misconduct was also reprehensible because it took place while he was pursuing a law degree and license to practice law, when the importance of honesty should have gained new meaning and significance for him.

Moreover, Glass’s lack of integrity and forthrightness continued beyond the time he was engaged in journalism. Once he was exposed, Glass‟s response was to protect himself, not to freely and fully admit and catalogue all of his fabrications. He never fully cooperated with his employers to clarify the record, failed to carefully review the editorials they published to describe the fabrications to their readership, made misrepresentations to The New Republic regarding some of his work during the period he purported to be cooperating with that magazine, and indeed some of his fabrications did not come to light until the California State Bar proceedings. He refused to speak to his editor at George magazine when the latter called to ask for help in identifying fabrications in the articles Glass wrote for that magazine.

The decision goes on to hammer Glass about as hard as could be imagined in every aspect of his prior conduct, rehabilitation and application for bar membership. The decision is every bit as venomous and scathing as the oral argument was (further discussed below).

Back in August of last year, I wrote about the attempt of failed, story inventing journalist Stephen Glass’ attempt to gain his license to practice law in the State of California. I drew a comparison between the beyond commendable success Shon Hopwood has found in gaining an exclusive Continue reading

9th Circuit Extends Equal Protection (and Batson) to Sexual Identity

In yet another win for equality, and equal protection, on issues involving sexual orientation and identity, the Ninth Circuit has issued an important opinion holding Batson v. Kentucky protections apply to sexual orientation issues in jury selection.

The case is Smithkline Beecham Corp, dba GSK v. Abbott Laboroatories, and the decision is here.

This case evolved out of a licensing dispute between two pharmaceutical makers of HIV medications. GSK contended Abbott violated antitrust laws, dealt in bad faith and otherwise engaged in unfair trade practices by licensing to GSK the authority to market an Abbott HIV drug in conjunction with one of its own and then increasing the price of the Abbott drug fourfold, so as to drive business to Abbott’s own combination drug.

Judge Steve Reinhardt set the table:

During jury selection, Abbott used its first peremptory strike against the only self-identified gay member of the venire. GSK challenged the strike under Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79 (1986), arguing that it was impermissibly made on the basis of sexual orientation. The district judge denied the challenge.

This appeal’s central question is whether equal protection prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation in jury selection. We must first decide whether classifications based on sexual orientation are subject to a standard higher than rational basis review. We hold that such classifications are subject to heightened scrutiny. We also hold that equal protection prohibits peremptory strikes based on sexual orientation and remand for a new trial.

The fact the court unanimously found that heightened scrutiny applies is critical. Finding heightened scrutiny controlling on sexual preference issues has been the holy grail for a long time, and exactly what the Supreme Court ducked in Windsor (mostly) and Perry (completely through avoidance).

The Batson challenge was effectively uncontroverted materially by Abbot, and the court found exactly that. The far more important discussion, however, comes in the analysis of whether the violation by Abbott violated the Equal Protection Clause. This is a necessary question because, while the Supreme Court in J.E.B. v. Alabama extended Batson protections to gender, and Continue reading

“Righteous:” Noah’s Ark’s Funding Woes

131204 Creation DinosaurThe Noah’s Ark Amusement Park plan may collapse by February because of funding woes.

A Kentucky theme park to be built around a full-scale replica of Noah’s Ark may sink unless investors purchase about $29 million in unrated municipal bonds by Feb. 6.

The northern Kentucky city of Williamstown in December issued taxable debt for affiliates of Answers in Genesis, a Christian nonprofit, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Even though $26.5 million of securities have been sold, the project needs to sell at least $55 million in total to avoid triggering a redemption of all the bonds, Ken Ham, the nonprofit’s president, said in an e-mail to supporters yesterday. Without the proceeds, construction funding will fall short, he said.

“We still need those Ark supporters who weren’t able to purchase the Ark bonds at closing to prayerfully consider participating in a secondary bond delivery at the level they had indicated to us,” Ham said. “Will you please step out in faith with us?”

Proceeds are intended to help build a 510-foot (155.4-meter, or 300 cubit) wooden ship, the centerpiece of a planned biblical theme park called Ark Encounter.

I find the possibility that Noah’s Ark may go unfunded remarkable, given one of my favorite details from the affiliated Creation Museum.

As the picture above shows, the Creation people believe the dinosaurs marched onto the Ark along with all the other 2-by-2s. Somehow, that helps them prove the dinosaurs were killed in the Flood rather than killed off by natural selection or a meteor or climate change.*

But once you’ve got dinosaurs (and giraffes) on the Ark, you create another problem: the Ark must be veryvery big. I forget how big they said it was, but it was veryvery big (510 feet? That wouldn’t fit dinosaurs!).

131204 Creation Workers 1

And that creates another problem.

How did Noah and his family build such a veryvery big Ark by themselves?

One exhibit provides some possible answers, but doesn’t claim to know. God gave advance warning to Noah, you see, so maybe he and his sons really did build such a veryvery big Ark by themselves.

With ingenuity and very thorough planning, it is conceivable that Noah and his family could have built the ark without any help.

The exhibit went to the trouble of inventing another possible solution, complete with mannequins depicting it: labor.

On the other hand, his family did not have to build the ark alone. After centuries of righteous living, Noah may have been wealthy enough to hire shipbuilders. Paid workers may have been his audience, while Noah, a “preacher of righteousness,” warned them of the coming judgment. [my emphasis]

The Creation people didn’t consider another likely solution, if Noah had help, which is that he had slaves. Perhaps they didn’t consider it because it would conflict with another explanation the Museum offers, that only a distorted view of the Bible would justify slavery (implying too that the many societies that enslaved in the name of Christianity have nothing to do with the nice Creation people).

But even if Noah actually paid his workers, it seems, he would have been the kind of boss who lets his employees slave over building a veryvery big Ark for months and years, but then leaves them to die in a massive Flood right after they’ve built it.

You know? A “righteous” employer.

The other thing we learn from this exhibit, of course, is that righteous people get the money they need to build their Arks.


*No, I don’t understand how the Flood killed off the dinosaurs if they got on the Ark, as depicted in one of the dioramas at the museum prepping for the Ark Park. If they got on the Ark, wouldn’t they still be running around? Maybe Noah’s family ate them?

The Disturbingly Hollow Message of the Alan Turing Pardon

Famed World War II code breaker, and computer pioneer, Alan Turing has been pardoned by the British government. From the New York Times story:

Nearly 60 years after his death, Alan Turing, the British mathematician regarded as one of the central figures in the development of the computer, received a formal pardon from Queen Elizabeth II on Monday for his conviction in 1952 on charges of homosexuality, at the time a criminal offense in Britain.
….
The British prime minister, David Cameron, said in a statement: “His action saved countless lives. He also left a remarkable national legacy through his substantial scientific achievements, often being referred to as the ‘father of modern computing.’ ”

Mr. Turing committed suicide in 1954, two years after his conviction on charges of gross indecency.
….
When Mr. Turing was convicted in 1952, he was sentenced — as an alternative to prison — to chemical castration by a series of injections of female hormones. He also lost his security clearance because of the conviction. He committed suicide by eating an apple believed to have been laced with cyanide.

That is about as nice, concise and antiseptic a take as can be had on the matter. The truth, and scathing comment on society therein, is quite a bit darker and uglier.

As Alice Bell put it in the Guardian:

That Turing’s work helped win the war, and that it has had such a large social and economic impact beyond that, makes his treatment by the state especially embarrassing. But his life and his homosexuality are no more meaningful just because he was a genius we (perhaps despite ourselves) managed to benefit from. To use his work in computer science as a basis for this pardon seems to trivialise both the huge contribution of that work and, perhaps more importantly, the history of gay rights.

Right. But it is even darker than the common story of privilege and celebrity gaining advantage. That the pardon came nearly sixty years after Turing’s death in forced shame (whether by suicide or not), makes the pardon act almost sad and meaningless. It does nothing for Turing, at this point it is mostly a cute and happy Christmas feel good move for the British throne and government. The hollowness of the move at this point saps much of the joy.

The criminal charge Turing was convicted of was section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885. Turing was hardly an isolated case; we hear now about him only because of his celebrity. As David Allen Green relates, there were a LOT of others:

In practice, if the police obtained sufficient evidence they would normally prosecute, and the courts would then usually convict. In all there were an estimated 75,000 convictions under section 11 (and its successor offence in the Sexual Offences Act 1956). One of these convictions was of Oscar Wilde, who was sentenced in 1895 to two years’ hard labour (the “severest sentence that the law allows” remarked the judge). But, perhaps counter-intuitively, most of these prosecutions did not happen in the days of Victorian prudery, but in the two to three decades after 1931.

One of these prosecutions was to be of Turing.

And the pardon was not just meaningless to Turing because he was dead the date, lo some 59 years later, when it was issued, it was meaningless too because if Turing were still alive, the equivalent would had already been available by act of law. As David Allen Green further relates:

A recent statute – the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 – provides a scheme where those who had been convicted of the section 11 offence (and similar offences) can apply for their entire criminal records to be removed if the facts of the case would no longer count as a crime. It would be as if the offence had not been committed at all. These are not pardons – they go much further: the 2012 scheme removes the taint of criminality altogether, and with no fussing about not affecting the conviction or the sentence.

But the 2012 scheme is only for those still alive.

Lastly, Green goes back to the “why only Turing” bit that ought to gnaw at all who celebrate the pardon today:

Turing’s conviction was just one of about 75,000 under a vindictive law. But here is no logical reason why his should be regarded as a unique case. The actual wrong done to Turing was also one done to many thousands of men, and so any righting of that wrong must apply to those men too.

If Alan Turing is to be pardoned then so should all men convicted under section 11 if the facts of their cases would not be a crime today. But a better posthumous gesture would be to simply extend the 2012 scheme to all those who are now dead. Removing the criminal records completely of all those prosecuted who would not be prosecuted today on the same facts would be a better legislative gesture than a single statutory pardon, if there is to be a legislative gesture at all.

Precisely. If you want to honor Turing, make right not just by him, but all those similarly situated. And there are a lot of such men in history. This supposedly benevolent act of the Queen and British government rings hollow and self serving, there is much more than one heroic man to atone for.

Lastly, I urge a full read of David Allen Green’s piece in the New Statesman. It is long and detailed, but truly tells the full tale that ought be told regarding the atrocious history of Alan Turing’s offense, conviction then, and disturbingly hollow pardon now. And, the beauty of it is, Green penned his piece over six months ago, long before today’s pardon came down.

GM’s New CEO: This Model Has Titanium Features

Mary Barra, CEO-General MotorsThe woman in the photo at the right has big titanium ovaries — not malleable brass or rusting iron. Do I know Mary Barra personally to attest to this fact? No. But I have a pretty damned good idea where GM’s new CEO has been, and it takes a pretty tough set of specifications to survive the road she’s traveled.

Like her I grew up in the I-75 corridor in Michigan, where much of the automotive industry’s OEM facilities and Tiers 1 through 3 suppliers could be found. Like her father, my father worked in the automotive business; if her household was like mine, there were copies of Car and Driver, Road & Track, machinist, tool-and-die, and metalforming magazines cluttering coffee tables or in dad’s man-cave. The smell of machine oil and the grit of metal chips are familiar, as are an ever-present collection of safety glasses, hearing protection, and greasy jumpsuits. Picture a garage like that in Clint Eastwood’s movie Gran Torino; I’ll lay good money her dad probably spent a lot of his free time between shifts in a home shop like that, and where she might have been found as well if he needed a hand or she needed a tool to fix something.

It was in her blood, I’m sure; I’ll bet she could taste it. I’m pretty certain this is why she went into engineering, and likely why she went to that particular private engineering school.

After working for a couple years as a high school engineering co-op student I had been accepted at the same school, but I went a different road, preferring business and then-nascent computing technology over engineering. My daughter, though, is at that school now. She could taste it, too; we have pictures of her at age nine, wearing safety glasses, proudly holding her first aluminum machined part. She’s the first person her dad asks for help when working on the cars at home.

I wish now I’d taken pictures of her the time she was so damned mad at her brother and his friend for accidentally breaking the sibling-shared PlayStation 2 console. She ripped it down, diagnosed it using internet research, fixed and reassembled it on her own in an afternoon.

Driven to identify and solve the problem — that’s what it takes to choose engineering as a career, particularly if you are a woman.

Sure, men too must be driven to pursue the same field, but they don’t face the hurdles that women faced then or even now, 30 years after General Motors’ new CEO first started college at the former General Motors Institute. Nobody ever questions a boy’s right to pursue engineering, or a man’s right to practice that discipline. Nobody ever questions the gender of a man with an engineering degree when he makes it to the pinnacle of the corporate ladder. Continue reading

Thanksgiving: Scarcity among Bounty

BountySome of you may have already grown tired of my tweets expressing awe that, rather than the 15 pound turkey I had ordered from our farmers, I came home Tuesday with a 21 pounder. They just didn’t have any smaller birds this year, it seems.

So there she is, our enormous bird, all slathered with bacon, also from Jill and Mary, far more than we need but enough that we’ll be enjoying (frozen) leftovers until summer.

It somehow feels appropriate that the turkeys are so big this year.

Last year, the farmers in Michigan — and those of us who purchase directly from them — seemed to reach Thanksgiving with a shocked worry. The summer of drought had devastated key Michigan crops, especially the state’s tart cherries. You couldn’t find Michigan pears and other orchard crops were similarly scarce. Meat farmers, even those who rely on local grains, had to cope with CAFOs from Indiana buying up all Michigan’s straw and grain; people thinned herds because there wasn’t enough food to make it through the winter. A number of the farmers we rely on seemed worried whether they would make it.

So while this year’s record floods brought new worries, when the crops all came in in order, and in great bounty, it was a relief. Fat Al Gore hadn’t done us in yet! I had enough tart cherries to dry and will still have MI pears in the fridge for several weeks yet. A local craft cider maker recently told me that scores of farmers with orchards of old, forgotten (but tasty!) apple varietals could save those orchards because they had a buyer for their boom harvest this year. And for Mr. EW and I, in the home we moved into the day before Thanksgiving last year, we’ve even still got green tomatoes, kale, and carrots from our garden.

Done BountyThe harvest was especially generous this year.

But I’m also acutely aware that so many Michiganders — my neighbors — enjoy little of that bounty. MI was in a depression before the economy crashed, and too many people have never recovered. Because our unemployment remains among the highest, Michiganders will have access, still, to somewhat extended unemployment benefits. But every one of those long-term unemployed represents a family that may never recover from financial setback. Add in the cuts to food stamps, and I worry that what Mother Nature has spared (thus far), our dysfunctional society has condemned to suffer.

And so as we sit down to our MI wine and turkey and bacon and brussel sprouts and spuds and sage-and-sunchoke-stuffing and cranberries and pumpkin pie and cream, I will be grateful for this year’s bounty. I will be thankful for the gifts my family provided me and the support and community our readers have given. I will be grateful for that enormous turkey.

But let’s remember those who face scarcity among the bounty.

Updated with pic of done turkey. Before the 7.5 pounds of leftovers, I mean.

 

50 Years: That Day, JFK and Today

UnknownWhere were you fifty years ago today? If you were old enough to remember at all, then you undoubtedly remember where you were on Friday November 22, 1963 at 12:30 pm central standard time.

I was at a desk, two from the rear, in the left most row, in Mrs. Hollingshead’s first grade class. Each kid had their own desk, and they were big, made out of solid wood and heavy. They had to be heavy, of course, because they were going to protect us when we ducked and covered from a Soviet nuclear strike. There were, as there were in most elementary school classrooms of the day, a large clock and a big speaker on the wall up above the teacher’s desk.

I can’t remember what subject we were working on, but the principal’s voice suddenly came over the loudspeaker. This alone meant there was something important up, because that only usually occurred for morning announcements at the start of the school day and for special occasions. The voice of Mr. Flake, the principal, was somber, halting and different; perhaps detached is the word. There was a prelude to the effect that this was a serious moment and that the teachers should make sure that all students were at their desks and that all, both young and old, were to pay attention.

There had occurred a tragic and shocking event that we all needed to know about. Our attention was required.

Then the hammer fell and our little world literally caved in.

President John Fitzgerald Kennedy had been assassinated. Shot and killed in Dallas Texas. Then without a moment’s pause, we were told that the nation was safe, Vice-President Johnson was in charge, the government was functioning and that we need not have any concerns about our own safety. We were not at war.

Twenty four some odd little hearts stopped, plus one from Mrs. Hollingshead. You could literally feel the life being sucked out of the room like air lost to a vacuum. Many of us began looking out the window, because no matter what Mr. Flake said, if our President was dead, we were at war and the warheads were coming. They had to be in the sky. They were going to be there.

Unlike the hokey color coded terror alerts, ginned up fear mongering of Bush/Cheney, Ashcroft and Ridge, and today the terroristic fearmongering of Keith Alexander, James Clapper, Mike Rogers and Dianne Feinstein, things were dead nuts serious at the height of the cold war. If President Kennedy had been killed, we were at war; the missiles were on their way. Had to be. Looking back, the school officials and teachers had to have been as devastated and afraid as we were, yet they were remarkable. They kept themselves in one piece, held us together, talked and comforted us into calm.

We had not been back in class from lunch break for long; it was still early afternoon in the west. Before the announcement was made, the decision by the school officials had been made to send us home. The busses would be lined up and ready to go in twenty minutes. Until then there would be a brief quiet period and then the teachers would talk to us and further calm the situation. Then off we would go to try to forge a path with our families, who would need us as much as we Continue reading

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bmaz It is pretty hard to imagine Sebastian Vettel being a more selfish loathsome prick. #F1
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bmaz Team orders against Sebastian Vettel? Whoa, but Vettel is, once again, like last year, a fucking selfish dickhead. What a punk jerk.
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bmaz @AskZelda_ Well, other than that it was during NFL Playoffs (Ronnie LOVES the Packers), it is awfully attractive, no? http://t.co/m7aEAMMTig
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bmaz NICO! Whoa, what a ballsy move on Vettel. #F1
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bmaz So, what in the world did the Williams crew do to Massa's car?? Man, that was brutal.
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bmaz @AskZelda_ I have a Ronald Reagan mask from a Halloween in the 80's, do you think that would work? http://t.co/ksltCAaG4w
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bmaz @misterdevans just after the turn of the hour.
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bmaz Obama White House Sponsors Young and Rich Narcissistic 1% Fucktards That Will Ruin the World One Day http://t.co/XhEZdHp3yO Seriously
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bmaz @dceiver @ryangrim @HuffPostLive Lotta repetitive emphasis there. Is this like "All work and no play make Jack a dull boy" from The Shining?
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bmaz Now plattered: Ten Years After Undead (a new copy cause my old one was totally dead).
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bmaz @FrancisJeffrey7 @MarkSZaidEsq @Thomas_Drake1 @TimmyTokyo1 Not quite sure what to make of that, can you rephrase?
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