12.18.2014

OK, that, but…

Ted Cruz & Marco Rubio humiliate themselves on Cuba: Inside their Guantanamo hypocrisy - Salon.com

"It’s absolutely true that the most most notorious prison camp on the planet is in Cuba — but it’s run by the U.S. Government. "

Indeed

Mourir pour Sony? | The XX Committee

"Apparently we are supposed to regard the cancellation of a dumb movie as The Worst Thing Ever, since it involves surrender to an ugly regime and its evil ways. The great and the good are now exhorting President Obama to do something about this outrage and teach North Korea to behave. The hideousness of Pyongyang is no more ‘news’ than learning that Hollywood is full of idiots. What exactly the moral outrage contingent wants Washington, DC. to do about Sony’s prostration before the prophets of juche is far from clear."

Ya think?

Sony’s International Incident: Making Kim Jong-un’s Head Explode - NYTimes.com

"Sony’s executives now say they knew that basing a film on the assassination of a living national leader — even a ruthless dictator — had inherent risks."

Based on Sony’s trailer for the movie, The Interview, (maybe it’s still around, maybe it got yanked along with the film itself), we just might owe North Korea a debt of gratitude here. And I don’t mean just for the juicy executive quotes. Either that or possibly I’m just out of touch with what’s funny these days. (OK, you can put your hands down now.)

The usual suspects

Marco Rubio’s fury over the Cuba shift shows why Obama made the right move - The Washington Post

"He threatened to use his new position as a subcommittee chairman on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to block the nomination of an ambassador to Cuba and the building of an embassy there, and he said the better policy would be to increase the Soviet-era sanctions."

File under Stuff You Can Never Unsee

Chicago taxi drivers pose in risqué calendar - NY Daily News

And how many student loans would that be?

Michigan offers Harbaugh 6-year, $48 million deal - NY Daily News

Of course, for $48 million maybe they could finally beat Ohio State, so maybe it’s worth it after all.

First things first

U.S.-Cuba deal caps cigar imports at $100, bans tourism - NY Daily News

"The new U.S.-Cuba deal ends a long-standing ban on importing Cuban tobacco and eases traditionally tense travel bans — but bringing back cigars in bulk and tourism are still off limits.

"The policy change, annouced Wednesday, allows American travelers to bring back $400 worth of goods from Cuba, but it puts a $100 cap on tobacco and alcohol.…

"Plus, $100 doesn't go very far: In Cuba, a box of Cohibas runs between $130 and $150, Welsch estimated."

Any chance of bringing this guy back?

Barry Goldwater - Wikiquote

"Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they're sure trying to do so, it's going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can't and won't compromise. I know, I've tried to deal with them."

Never thought I’d be nostalgic for Goldwater. (A lot more at the link, above.)

12.17.2014

Already

Jeb Bush Wants a Tougher Cuban Embargo | Mother Jones

"It's no surprise that Bush pounced to attack the shift in policy. A few weeks ago, Bush said that the current prohibitions on travel and trade are too loose and that the US government should clamp down harder on the Castro regime."

I have no idea

Merry Christmas, Fox News; this'll keep you going at least until the end of the year

Undernews: America finally talking with Cuba

"US and Cuba are to start talks to normalise diplomatic ties in a historic shift in relations between the two countries, media reports say.…

"US President Barack Obama is making a statement later. "

Da Coach on Da Bears

4 Downs with Ditka: 'I turned the game off' | Chicago Sun-Times

Can we get a do-over?

Chocolate Chip Mint: Anything?

Now we get to the really terrifying stuff

Trebek threatened to quit ‘Jeopardy’: Sony emails | Page Six

Our fearless forecast

Jeb Bush and the Base: It’s More About Persona Than Policies - NYTimes.com

"Mr. Bush could still win even if Tea Party supporters opposed him by a wide margin."

If Bush declares he will win the Republican primary and very possibly win the 2016 general election, especially if his opponent then is Clinton. There. Let’s not have any more discussion of this: That’s our story and we’re sticking to it.

ADD: This this was posted before I learned about today’s announcements involving relations with Cuba. I’m doubling down.

Who cares where it comes from? Let's build a pipeline!

There may actually be life on Mars, according to Curiosity’s new methane data | ExtremeTech

"This methane, which was detected by the Curiosity rover, can only really come from two places: Geological activity… or life."

As long as it doesn’t come through here. We’re opposed to pipelines here. Also, we’re opposed to any source of energy except, currently, the sun. So we’re hoping it stops raining soon.

If we could do fracking on Mars, we might be OK with that.

Yoo runs for cover

Torture memo author John Yoo admits CIA may have gone too far

"John Yoo, the former Justice Department lawyer who authored a series of notorious memos cited by the Bush administration to justify the torture of terrorism detainees, acknowledged on Sunday that the CIA may have broken the law."

Is it too late for Occupy Parking?

Greenfield to hold lottery for “premium” parking permits | The Recorder

"Lane Kelly, Greenfield’s finance director, said the town will designate about half of the spaces in four of the town’s downtown parking lots as ‘premium’ spaces in an effort to open up space and make it easier for people who shop, dine, volunteer or go to the movies to find a place to park. They also aim to make it easier to find parking for people who plan to take the train when Amtrak returns to Greenfield."

A triumph of medical science

John McCain: The Anti-Cheney on Torture - NYTimes.com

"Last Friday, after the publication of the Senate Intelligence Committee report on the Central Intelligence Agency’s history of torture and deceit post-9/11, Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican who was tortured as a prisoner in North Vietnam, appeared on the Charlie Rose show.

"Watching was like taking an anti-Cheney pill."

12.16.2014

I sailed to France on thiis ship in 1958

SS United States is being prepared for a new life

"The SS United States was launched in 1952 as the world's fastest ocean liner, and it still holds the record for speediest trans-Atlantic voyage. The ship was partially funded by the Navy with the idea that it could be converted one day into an extremely efficient troop transporter."

Who says the universe is expanding?

No, this is not suspicious or anything

Men Who Love Spicy Food Have More Testosterone | TIME

Sounds fair to me

Native American Council Offers Amnesty to 220 Million Undocumented Whites - The Daily Currant

"'Any white person with a criminal record, however, will be deported in the next 90 days back to their ancestral homeland. Rush Limbaugh will be going to Germany. Justin Bieber will depart for Canada. And the entire cast of Jersey Shore will be returning to Italy.'"

Now nut rage? Really?

Korean Air to be sanctioned for nut rage cover-up - Yahoo News

"Cho, who was head of cabin service at Korean Air, ordered a senior flight attendant off a Dec. 5 flight after she was served macadamia nuts in a bag, instead of on a plate, in what she thought was a breach of service protocol in first class."

The high speed train from Vermont…

…will finally be here December 22, we’re told, although it won’t actually be from Vermont, it’ll  be from right here. The Vermont part has been indefinitely postponed and maybe, just maybe, changed to Montreal. But just three days before Christmas, the high speed train will be here. Santa Claus won’t be aboard. The Governor will.

Down at the John W. Olver International Bus Station work is furiously underway to build a platform beside the track. The track runs right by the bus station which, when it was built a few years ago with stimulus money, was intended to be a train station too, but nobody though to build the platform because it was thought back then, we suppose, the train would never actually arrive. But now we know it will. December 22.

There’s no time (and perhaps no money) to build a permanent platform by the track so construction of a temporary platform is hurriedly underway. From the looks of it, it’s intended to be temporary for a long, long time.

But no matter. The high speed train will leave from here on December 22 around 1:30 PM and arrive in New York City about 6:30, in plenty of time for a fashionably late East Coast supper and perhaps a show. There is no return train until the next morning, so take your jammies if you go. 

Yes. The high speed train will take you from here to New York City in five hours flat. Or, if you prefer, you can drive it (according to Google) in a little over three.

Rah rah

A Not-So-Brief and Extremely Sordid History of Cheerleading | Mother Jones

"1911: Harvard President A. Lawrence Lowell describes cheerleading as 'the worst means of expressing emotion ever invented.' In response, The Nation defends the activity: 'The reputation of having been a valiant 'cheer-leader' is one of the most valuable things a boy can take away from college. As a title to promotion in professional or public life, it ranks hardly second to that of being a quarterback.'"

Gotta love that Wisconsin cuisine

Wisconsin man tells fish story during drunken driving stop | Reuters

"(Reuters) - A Wisconsin man told a sheriff's deputy he had not been drinking, but rather eating beer-battered fish when he was pulled over for what could be his 10th drunken driving offense, according to an incident report released on Wednesday."

12.14.2014

A treat

Paris, City of Light, in Black and White (Photos) - The Daily Beast

Just as we suspected

Yak Dung Is Making Climate Change Worse

"Cult hit" is almost always a bad sign, moviewise

26 Streaming Shows You Should Get Addicted to This Winter | TIME

"After many requests, Netflix secured the rights to the newest British cult hit Happy Valley."

“British cult hit” is just plain terrifying.

A matter of definition

Opinion: The case against publishing hacked Sony e-mails - CSMonitor.com

"We’re not talking about whistleblowing or related matters of political import where important discussions need to be had. This is nothing more than privacy evisceration courtesy of media opportunism."

When we’re talking about my stuff it’s privacy.

When we’re talking about your stuff it’s transparency.

See how that works?

End-of-year lists are even more boring that everyday lists, except maybe a few

The Least Fascinating People of 2014 - NY Daily News

"Down here in the tabloid trenches, we also must deal daily with people who somehow keep getting their names in the news, but who hold, frankly, no fascination whatsoever."

Trickshot Dick misses again

Dick Cheney Was Lying About Torture - Mark Fallon - POLITICO Magazine

"As special agent in charge of the criminal investigation task force with investigators and intelligence personnel at Guantanamo Bay, Afghanistan, and Iraq, I was privy to the information provided by Khalid Sheik Mohammed. I was aware of no valuable information that came from waterboarding.…Cheney’s claim that the frequent waterboarding of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed ‘produced phenomenal results for us' is simply false."

This whole “torture works” crowd is just plain embarrassing. 

12.13.2014

Cute

U.S. pastor against gay-marriage dresses horse up in wedding gown

"'Do you take this horse to be your unnatural wedded spouse to have and to hold,' one of his signs read."

Will this nonsense ever end? It doesn’t seem likely. While washing dishes a while ago I cranked up a (pretty nifty) app called TuneIn Radio on my iPhone and started listing to something called Redstate Talk Radio, a conservative site dedicated, seemingly, to 40-year old boys giggling. I never got the joke. Maybe I just didn’t have enough dirty dishes. But I’m sure it was at least as funny as a horse in a wedding gown. 

Not very, in other words.

You don't have to work for Sony to wind up with your foot in your mouth

REVIEW: Don’t Let Your People Go See Exodus: Gods and Kings | TIME

"‘I can’t mount a film of this budget [$130 million, plus about $70 million in tax rebates], and say that my lead actor is Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such,’ [the film’s director] told Variety. "

Wait, what?

This Baby Sleeping on Top of a Santa Will Warm Your Heart | TIME

"Her mother, Jennifer Sawyer Genna of Abingdon, Md., told the paper that the youngster ‘passed out so Santa decided to take a ‘little snooze’ for her first picture!’"

Passed out? 

O'Rourke, all is forgiven

Up to a Point: They Made Me Write About Lena Dunham - The Daily Beast

"I lived in New York for fifteen years. No one had been to Brooklyn since the Dodgers left in 1957."

Beating the Christmas rush

Is This the End of Michele Bachmann? - Melinda Henneberger - POLITICO Magazine

"On Tuesday, in what the retiring congresswoman from Minnesota figured would be her last White House holiday party, Bachmann used the grip-and-grin moment when she got her picture taken with President Obama to raise a reliably grin-killing topic. ‘The U.S. needs to take out Iran’s nuclear facilities today,’ she informed him."

So sad to see her go.

Is this the party of the season?

The president, the panic, and the cromnibus - Jake Sherman and John Bresnahan - POLITICO

"The House Appropriations Committee, which wrote the bill, partied late into the night in its third-floor Capitol office suite."

Eh. Probably not.

Wait, New Hampshire has a football team?

New Hampshire tops Chattanooga 35-30 in FCS quarterfinals

"The top-seeded Wildcats scored twice in a span of 2 minutes, 19 seconds early in the fourth quarter to finally pull away in a 35-30 win over Chattanooga on Friday night in an FCS quarterfinal."

12.12.2014

First, strap your head on nice and tight

This Optical Illusion Video Will Make Your Surroundings Spin

[Noted by Some Guy in Seattle.]

A little late but still funny

cartoon141124-02_full_900x600.jpg 900×600 pixels

But you can't tell him much

Carr: You can always tell a Harvard man | Boston Herald

Plain words

The Torture Report is Only the First Step | Just Security

"In short, the ‘torture debate’ is over. The report teaches us that the costs of the program far outweighed any supposed benefits. We can no longer pretend that torture is somehow a necessary means to achieve some greater good. Nor, if the world continues to be populated by terrorist threats, is there is any way we can torture our way to security. And when torture is practiced regularly and systematically, it is no longer a means; it becomes the end in itself. As George Orwell wrote in Nineteen Eighty-Four: ‘The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture…. Now you begin to understand me.’"
String Theory
 
iPhone photo: Phil Compton

It's OK to break the law if you're scared

(Or really, really scared, according to rightish critics of the recently-released Senate torture report.)

Charles Krauthammer: A travesty of a torture report - NY Daily News

"In the aftermath of 9/11, there was nothing irrational about believing a second attack was a serious possibility…"

(Krauthammer also cites "a deadly anthrax attack of unknown origin” as something we were scared of, although not so scared we bothered to figure out who did it.)

And then the ever-dependable Trickshot Dick chimes in.

Dick Cheney: Senate ‘torture’ report ‘full of crap’ - NY Daily News

"'The report's full of crap,’ he added, before later admitting that he hadn’t even read it .…
""What are we supposed to do, kiss him on both cheeks and say, 'Please, please, tell us what you know?' Of course not," Cheney said."

Oh that Dick. Always good for a laugh.