Daily Archive: 12/30/2013

Dec 30 2013

Computer Meltdown

Don’t even ask.

Have some movie instead.

Dec 30 2013

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

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Paul Krugman: Fiscal Fever Breaks

In 2012 President Obama, ever hopeful that reason would prevail, predicted that his re-election would finally break the G.O.P.’s “fever.” It didn’t.

But the intransigence of the right wasn’t the only disease troubling America’s body politic in 2012. We were also suffering from fiscal fever: the insistence by virtually the entire political and media establishment that budget deficits were our most important and urgent economic problem, even though the federal government could borrow at incredibly low interest rates. Instead of talking about mass unemployment and soaring inequality, Washington was almost exclusively focused on the alleged need to slash spending (which would worsen the jobs crisis) and hack away at the social safety net (which would worsen inequality).

So the good news is that this fever, unlike the fever of the Tea Party, has finally broken. [..]

Still, does any of this matter? You could argue that it doesn’t – that fiscal scolds may have lost control of the conversation, but that we’re still doing terrible things like cutting off benefits to the long-term unemployed. But while policy remains terrible, we’re finally starting to talk about real issues like inequality, not a fake fiscal crisis. And that has to be a move in the right direction.

New York Times Editorial Board: The Slow Demise of Capital Punishment

More states are coming to recognize that the death penalty is arbitrary, racially biased and prone to catastrophic error. Even those that have not abolished capital punishment are no longer carrying it out in practice. [,,]

As it becomes less frequent, the death penalty also becomes more limited to an extremely small slice of the country, and therefore all the more arbitrary in its application. All 80 death sentences in 2013 came from only about 2 percent of counties in the entire country, and all 39 executions – more than half occurred in Texas and Florida – took place in about 1 percent of all counties, according to a new report by the Death Penalty Information Center. Eighty-five percent of all counties have not had a single execution in more than 45 years.

Richard (RJ) Eskow: Was This the Social Contract’s Comeback Year?

What a difference a year makes. Last year at this time, a president and a party who had just won an election with progressive rhetoric were quickly pivoting toward a “Grand Bargain” which would cut Social Security and Medicare. Leaders in both parties were obsessed with deficits, and there was “bipartisan” consensus that these “entitlements” needed to be cut. The only questions left to debate were when they would be cut, and by how much. To resist these moves was to be dismissed as “unserious” and “extreme” — in Washington, in newsprint, and on the airwaves.

Today the forces of corporate consensus are on the defensive. It’s considered politically reckless to get too far out front on the subject of benefit cuts. Some of the think tanks who advocated Austerity Lite one year ago are focused now on inequality. And, as the leaders of Third Way learned recently, the same rhetoric which earned nods of approval all across Washington this time last year can get you slapped down today.

Social Security is a vital program, but the implications of this shifting debate run even deeper, to the future of the social contract itself.

Andy Fitzgerald: Why won’t the west call out Saudi Arabia for persecution of democratic activists?

A Saudi activist was sentenced to four years and 300 lashes. He is the fourth to be imprisoned from one organization this year

At the memorial for Nelson Mandela, President Barack Obama eulogized the fallen leader:

   Like Gandhi, he would lead a resistance movement – a movement that at its start held little prospect of success. Like [Martin Luther] King, he would give potent voice to the claims of the oppressed.

Listening in the crowd sat Prince Muqrin bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s second deputy prime minister. Apparently the words were lost on the government His Royal Highness was representing (though it’s questionable he even relayed the message), because within the next week, a Saudi judge sentenced democratic activist Omar al-Saeed to 4 years in prison and 300 lashes. His crime: calling for a constitutional monarchy (a government that would likely outlaw such cruel and unusual punishment). [..]

Supporters of democracy should not be afraid to name, shame, and directly confront tyranny wherever it is seen. Whether it is in Russia or China, or perpetrated under the guise of “national security” by the United States or the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Those that deem oppression a strategic necessity or its elimination an impossibility almost always end up on the “wrong side of history”.

David Dennis: Politico’s 2014 ‘journalists to watch’ list doesn’t have a single person of color

American media is still struggling to find diverse voices. Part of the problem goes back to unpaid internships

A few months ago, I wrote a commentary for the Guardian about how unpaid internships create an unfair funnel system to media outlets. They create a homogenous voice that excludes those who don’t have the money or privilege to work for free. This, to me, is the biggest challenge facing the media. Cities like New Orleans, Chicago’s South Side or Gary, Indiana are underrepresented or misrepresented in the media because there aren’t enough journalists who come from those or similar areas to tell the stories.

The proof of the “blacking out” of the media has shown its face again in a Politico list of US journalists to watch in 2014. The list doesn’t have a single person of color on it. Politico’s list spans almost every major publication or media outlet in the country from ESPN to CNN and beyond. The Politico article mentions these reporters’ great work in the areas of politics, sports, and more, but where is the diversity? Do we honestly not have any journalists of color in the upper tier?

John Nichols: Holiday in Austerity Land: 1.3 Million Americans Lose Jobless Benefits

When it was initially discussed as a rude repercussion of a bungled budget deal, the prospect that 1.3 million Americans would lose long-term unemployment benefits just days after Christmas was bad enough.

Now, that the day has come, however, it stands as a stark reminder of the extent to which the United States has regressed from the days when Franklin Delano Roosevelt greeted the Holiday Season with a celebration of the fact that: “Today neighborliness no longer can be confined to one’s little neighborhood. Life has become too complex for that. In our country neighborliness has gradually spread its boundaries-from town, to county, to State and now at last to the whole Nation.”

Imagine a country that, during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, abandons those hit hardest by economic turbulence, and you have a sense of what the United States has become under the cruel hand not just of House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan – who refused to agree to any budget deal that included an extension of benefits – and those members of Congress, Republicans and Democrats, who compromised with the failed Republican vice presidential candidate’s austerity agenda.

Dec 30 2013

On This Day In History December 30

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

December 30 is the 364th day of the year (365th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There is one day remaining until the end of the year.

Today history was made in in Parson’s Kansas where the last roll of Kodachrome was processed at Dwayne’s Photo Shop, the only Kodak certified processor of Kodachrome film in the world as of 2010. The final roll of 36-frame Kodachrome to be manufactured was tracked by National Geographic; it was shot by photographer Steve McCurry.

For Kodachrome Fans, Road Ends at Photo Lab in Kansas By A. G. Sulzberger

PARSONS, Kan. – An unlikely pilgrimage is under way to Dwayne’s Photo, a small family business that has through luck and persistence become the last processor in the world of Kodachrome, the first successful color film and still the most beloved.

That celebrated 75-year run from mainstream to niche photography is scheduled to come to an end on Thursday when the last processing machine is shut down here to be sold for scrap.

One of the toughest decisions was how to deal with the dozens of requests from amateurs and professionals alike to provide the last roll to be processed.

In the end, it was determined that a roll belonging to Dwayne Steinle, the owner, would be last. It took three tries to find a camera that worked. And over the course of the week he fired off shots of his house, his family and downtown Parsons. The last frame is already planned for Thursday, a picture of all the employees standing in front of Dwayne’s wearing shirts with the epitaph: “The best slide and movie film in history is now officially retired. Kodachrome: 1935-2010.”

A Color-Saturated Sun Sets on Kodachrome

I have fond memories of my 35mm Yashika and Canon cameras.