Daily Archive: 02/03/2015

Feb 03 2015

How the NSA Stole Your Privacy

FISA Court Rubberstamped NSA’s Questionable Legal Theories To Grant It Expanded Surveillance Powers

by Tim Cushing, Tech Dirt

Tue, Feb 3rd 2015

More documents have been yanked out of the NSA’s hands, thanks to a New York Times FOIA lawsuit. The documents are from 2007, and they further detail the agency’s warrantless surveillance program which swept up not only phone numbers but also email addresses and content. The program wasn’t actually legal at the time it rolled out. It took the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 to codify this. In the meantime, the agency used interim legislation (2007’s Protect America Act) and some hubris to enhance its haystacking business.



Rather than use the standard definition of a “facility” — that being a base of operations — the NSA chose to read it as an impossible combination of noun and verb. An email address is a “facility” because it “facilitates communications.” Vinson wasn’t too impressed with this, or the fact that the application didn’t contain much in the way of probable cause. As he noted, the NSA’s intention was to collect both sets of data in bulk, far from the targeted surveillance it attempted to portray in its application.

The May 2007 order (also by Roger Vinson) shows that the NSA found a way to get its aims accomplished, despite Vinson’s reluctance. A “new legal theory” was offered by the agency in an amended application and buttressed by Keith Alexander’s declaration that it was all totally legal.

Unfortunately, the order doesn’t detail the NSA’s legal theory, or at least not in any visible way. Vinson’s musings on the NSA’s Plan B turns out to be a bunch of wasted typing. His declaration that on the “basis of facts submitted by the applicant, there is probable cause to believe that…:” is followed by four completely redacted pages.

Following that, Vinson authorizes the NSA’s “roving, multipoint” surveillance, based on the opinion that Congress would have authorized that (and apparently pretty much anything else it may or may not have conceived of) considering the “Government’s national security interests are so great.” This rationale again. And again, presented by an agency whose livelihood depends on the depiction of security threats as perennially “great” and everlasting. Vinson also agreed to contact-chaining using these numbers and email addresses as selectors.



And so, the domestic surveillance that wasn’t (this order — and past ones — draws a very clear line between foreign targets and known US persons) becomes a handy tool for domestic surveillance. As the court notes earlier in the order, because of where the communications and data are collected, there’s no real way to separate US/non-US data without digging through the collection. When it’s discovered, minimization procedures are to apply — except, apparently, if it can hand the data/communications off to the FBI. (The CIA, on the other hand, gets everything, domestic or foreign, apparently only subject to the NSA’s discretion.)

Again, this entire line of surveillance still hadn’t been determined to be completely legal. It took the FISA Amendments Act to codify this particular program. Despite that, it was approved anyway, thanks to the NSA’s willingness to explore as many legal theories as necessary in order to secure the FISA judge’s approval.

That’s the problem with these two orders. We don’t get to see the NSA’s legal wranglings. Those are redacted. And what is actually revealed doesn’t explain much. The May 2007 order notes that the NSA’s arguments are still on shaky ground and the earlier (and much longer) April order handles the entirety of the agency’s legal discussions on its contact-chaining of unrelated “facilities” in a single paragraph.



Simply mentioning a targeted email in the body of an email message is enough “probable cause” for the FISA court, which goes on to note that it’s perfectly OK (in the search for supporting probable cause) for the agency to read nearly any communication that crosses its desk, provided it’s within a step or two of its selectors.

The NSA didn’t get to where it is today overnight. It took a decade of legal wrangling and the steadfast assertion that the terrorist threat to the US is just as strong as it was September 10, 2001. With the assistance of obliging courts and sympathetic legislators, the NSA has become a data and communications behemoth, sucking in vast quantities of both from all over the world.

Feb 03 2015

TPP Giveaways To Big Pharma Will Make You Sick

Don’t Trade Away Our Health

By JOSEPH E. STIGLITZ, The New York Times

JAN. 30, 2015

Among the topics negotiators have considered are some of the most contentious T.P.P. provisions – those relating to intellectual property rights. And we’re not talking just about music downloads and pirated DVDs. These rules could help big pharmaceutical companies maintain or increase their monopoly profits on brand-name drugs.



Trade agreements are negotiated by the office of the United States Trade Representative, supposedly on behalf of the American people. Historically, though, the trade representative’s office has aligned itself with corporate interests. If big pharmaceutical companies hold sway – as the leaked documents indicate they do – the T.P.P. could block cheaper generic drugs from the market. Big Pharma’s profits would rise, at the expense of the health of patients and the budgets of consumers and governments.

There are two ways the office of the trade representative can use the T.P.P. to maintain or raise drug prices and profits.

The first is to restrict competition from generics. It’s axiomatic that more competition means lower prices. When companies have to fight for customers, they end up cutting their prices. When a patent expires, any company can enter the market with a generic version of a drug. The differences in prices between brand-name and generic drugs are mind- and budget-blowing. Just the availability of generics drives prices down: In generics-friendly India, for example, Gilead Sciences, which makes an effective hepatitis-C drug, recently announced that it would sell the drug for a little more than 1 percent of the $84,000 it charges here.

That’s why, since the United States opened up its domestic market to generics in 1984, they have grown from 19 percent of prescriptions to 86 percent, by some accounts saving the United States government, consumers and employers more than $100 billion a year. Drug companies stand to gain handsomely if the T.P.P. limits the sale of generics.

The second strategy is to undermine government regulation of drug prices. More competition is not the only way to keep down the prices of essential goods and services. Governments can also directly restrain prices through law, or effectively restrain them by denying reimbursement to patients for “overpriced” drugs – thus encouraging companies to bring down their prices to approved levels. These regulatory approaches are especially important in markets where competition is limited, as it is in the drug market. If the United States Trade Representative gets its way, the T.P.P. will limit the ability of partner countries to restrict prices. And the pharmaceutical companies surely hope the “standard” they help set in this agreement will become global – for example, by becoming the starting point for United States negotiations with the European Union over the same issues.

Americans might shrug at the prospect of soaring drug prices around the world. After all, the United States already allows drug companies to charge what they want. But that doesn’t mean we might not want to change things someday. Here again, the T.P.P. has us cornered: Trade agreements, and in particular individual provisions within them, are typically far more difficult to alter or repeal than domestic laws.

We can’t be sure which of these features have made it through this week’s negotiations. What’s clear is that the overall thrust of the intellectual property section of the T.P.P. is for less competition and higher drug prices. The effects will go beyond the 12 T.P.P. countries. Barriers to generics in the Pacific will put pressure on producers of such drugs in other countries, like India, as well.

Of course, pharmaceutical companies claim they need to charge high prices to fund their research and development. This just isn’t so. For one thing, drug companies spend more on marketing and advertising than on new ideas. Overly restrictive intellectual property rights actually slow new discoveries, by making it more difficult for scientists to build on the research of others and by choking off the exchange of ideas that is critical to innovation. As it is, most of the important innovations come out of our universities and research centers, like the National Institutes of Health, funded by government and foundations.

Feb 03 2015

Slip Sliding Away

Or we can hope so.

Syriza Official Vows to Kill EU-US Trade Deal as ‘Gift to All European People’

by Andrea Germanos, Common Dreams

Monday, February 02, 2015

The TTIP, which would be the biggest trade deal ever, has been criticized as a corporate-friendly deal that threatens food and environmental safety under the guise of “harmonization” of regulations.

Georgios Katrougkalos, now deputy minister for administrative reform, confirmed what he had told EurActiv Greece ahead of his Syriza party’s victory last week: that his parliament would not ratify the trade deal.

“I can ensure you that a Parliament where Syriza holds the majority will never ratify the deal. And this will be a big gift not only to the Greek people but to all the European people,” EurActiv reported Monday.



Friends of the Earth Europe, which plans to hold a demonstration Wednesday to highlight how the TTIP is a “Trojan treaty.”

Also joining the demonstration is Guy Taylor, trade campaigner for Global Justice Now and an organizer for actions Wednesday, who said in a statement: “It’s unheard of to see so many people traveling to Brussels to lobby their MEPs like this, and that’s testament to just how hugely controversial and unpopular TTIP has become. David Cameron waxes lyrical about national sovereignty, but in pushing for this deal he is willfully handing sovereignty to big business. The deal is not really about trade, it’s about entrenching the position of the one percent. It should be abandoned.”

Underscoring similar concerns is 31-year-old Ross Mackay, who will be joining the actions in Brussels. He told the Scotland Herald, “TTIP is not really about opening up trade and harmonizing tariffs and regulations; it’s about a race to the bottom, locked-in privatization, and a seismic shift in power away from people and their elected governments towards corporations.”

Another reminder of why these “Trade” deals are bad-

Two Leaks Reveal How TAFTA/TTIP’s Regulatory Co-operation Body Will Undermine Sovereignty And Democracy

by Glyn Moody, Tech Dirt

Mon, Feb 2nd 2015

(I)n a single week, we have had two important leaks in this area, both confirming those initial ideas sketched out in 2013 are still very much how TAFTA/TTIP aims to bring about the desired regulatory harmonization.

Corporate Europe Observatory obtained a very recent draft copy of the EU’s proposals for the chapter covering regulatory co-operation (pdf), which describes a new transatlantic organization, now called the Regulatory Cooperation Body.



Along with this new opportunity for lobbyists to try to shape, slow down or even block new regulations, the EU proposes to hand them a powerful weapon — the impact assessment.



As Corporate Europe Observatory points out, the only criteria taken into account are impacts on trade or investment. So, for example, new environmental rules might well do wonders for reducing air pollution, but if they have an adverse effect on US or EU companies’ sales or investments, they would be marked as undesirable. This is likely to have a severe chilling effect on bringing in new standards that protect the public but might impose new costs on business.

The other leak, obtained by the Greens MEP Michel Reimon, concerns regulatory co-operation in the field of finance (pdf). This is a contentious area: the US is reluctant to harmonize financial regulations through TAFTA/TTIP because Europe’s are weaker; for the same reason, the European finance industry is keen to use TAFTA/TTIP as a way of undermining America’s more stringent rules.



That is, the European Commission wants the US to sign up to TTIP without any specification of exactly how the new Financial Regulatory Forum will work, or what powers it will have. This seems a clear effort to sneak in elements later that the US is currently resisting.

What these important leaks confirm is that the regulatory co-operation that lies at the heart of TAFTA/TTIP would undermine sovereignty on both sides of the Atlantic. The Regulatory Cooperation Body would provide an important new forum for corporate lobbyists to intervene even earlier in the life of proposed rules and regulations than they do now — and long before lawmakers have a chance to express their views. The end-result is likely to be an impoverishment not just of public policy-making, but of democracy itself.

Finally, we have some new video about SYRIZA and the direction they are taking-

Bill Black

Transcript

Democracy Now

Transcript

Debt Swaps

Transcript

Feb 03 2015

The Anti-Vaxxer Hoax

In the last few years there have been increasing reports of outbreaks of childhood diseases that were thought to have been eradicated, or at least very rare occurring in UN-vaccinated migrant populations and third world countries. In the last few months, there have been outbreaks of pertussis and measles in cities across the US. This is troubling and the main cause appears to be a growing group of people who have fallen for a debunk premise that vaccines for these diseases were somehow linked to the rise in autism. The British doctor who wrote that paper has been prosecuted for fraud and has lost his license to even practice medicine. Let’s be very clear about these vaccines. They are safe and they work. There is no debate, or at least there shouldn’t be.

MSNBC’s “All In” host Chris Hayes is joined by Retro Report‘s Bonnie Bertram to trace the current anti-vaccine movement back to one debunked, discredited study published in 1998.

Yet, the myth persists and it is putting not only the children whose parents refuse to vaccinate them but everyone else. Now, right wing politicians who are vying for the 2016 presidential campaign have been pandering for the votes of these ignorant people. The hypocrisy of the politicians reeks:

The vaccination controversy is a twist on an old problem for the Republican Party: how to approach matters that have largely been settled among scientists but are not widely accepted by conservatives.

It is a dance Republican candidates often do when they hedge their answers about whether evolution should be taught in schools. It is what makes the fight over global warming such a liability for their party, and what led last year to a widely criticized response to the Ebola scare.

As concern spread about an Ebola outbreak in the United States, physicians criticized Republican lawmakers – including Mr. Christie – who called for strict quarantines of people who may have been exposed to the virus. In some cases, Republicans proposed banning people who had been to the hardest-hit West African countries from entering the United States, even though public health officials warned that would only make it more difficult to stop Ebola’s spread.

Yet, they think that it’s OK for parents not to vaccinate their children against diseases that are far more contagious and killed more than the the two people who contracted Ebola from Eric Duncan who died of the disease in Dallas.


There was one far right presidential hopeful that actually said something that made sense:

Ben Carson, a potential Republican presidential candidate, on Monday strongly backed vaccinations, splitting from two possible rivals who suggested parents should decide whether to immunize their children.

“Although I strongly believe in individual rights and the rights of parents to raise their children as they see fit, I also recognize that public health and public safety are extremely important in our society,” Carson, a retired pediatric neurosurgeon, told The Hill in a statement.

“Certain communicable diseases have been largely eradicated by immunization policies in this country and we should not allow those diseases to return by foregoing safe immunization programs, for philosophical, religious or other reasons when we have the means to eradicate them,” he added.

There should be few exemptions to getting vaccinated and those should only be for persons who have a medical contraindication to vaccination, not religion or some personal philosophy. The ignorant and dangerous anti-vaccination movement needs to be stopped and all children eligible for vaccines should get them, as soon as possible.

Feb 03 2015

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”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Joseph E. Stiglitz: Don’t Trade Away Our Health

A secretive group met behind closed doors in New York this week. What they decided may lead to higher drug prices for you and hundreds of millions around the world.

Representatives from the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim countries convened to decide the future of their trade relations in the so-called Trans-Pacific Partnership (T.P.P.). Powerful companies appear to have been given influence over the proceedings, even as full access is withheld from many government officials from the partnership countries.

Among the topics negotiators have considered are some of the most contentious T.P.P. provisions – those relating to intellectual property rights. And we’re not talking just about music downloads and pirated DVDs. These rules could help big pharmaceutical companies maintain or increase their monopoly profits on brand-name drugs.

Dean Baker: Is Hillary Clinton in the Bottom 3 Percent? Turning the Corner on CEO Pay

Most of the people who have direct dealings with the former secretary of state seem to regard her very highly, certainly not in the bottom 3 percent of the population. The same could be said about former Florida governor and likely presidential candidate Jeb Bush. Erskine Bowles, the former Clinton chief of staff and patron saint of the deficit hawks, also would not usually be put in the bottom 3 percent. [..]

This is not a job where poor performance carries much of a price. Erskine Bowles was on the board of Morgan Stanley in 2008, when the Fed had to turn it into a bank holding company on an emergency basis to save it from bankruptcy. Bowles is still there today as the lead director.

The reason that the rest of us should care about corporate directors is that these are the people who determine the pay of corporate CEOs. As CEO pay has rocketed from being 20 to 30 times as much as the pay of an ordinary worker back in the 1970s to being 200 or 300 times as much today, it was the corporate directors who signed the contracts. They were the ones who said it was necessary to keep giving CEOs ever higher pay, ostensibly in the interests of the shareholders.

Amanda Marcotte: Don’t Want To Vaccinate Your Kid? You Should Get Fined $5,000

It’s not just that anti-vaccination is selfish. It’s selfishness for its own sake, a way for snobs to distinguish themselves from the vaccinating masses. Anti-vaccination is tailormade for deeply selfish people, because it gives them a chance to show off how superior they think they are while shifting the cost of their choice on other people, from their own children to the beleaguered school officials and pediatricians who have to deal with them.

But what if we changed the equation, so that parents could not shift all the costs for their choice onto others? The easiest and most straightforward way to do that would be to start fining parents who don’t vaccinate, with exceptions for the few that have immune-suppressed kids who can’t handle it. It’s the only thing that actually addresses the deep selfishness at the heart of anti-vaccination. Appealing to the common good won’t work, since they think they are better than common. Appealing to their own pocketbooks, on the other hand, might just work.

Considering that anti-vaccination is primarily a matter of elite people showing off their elite status through anti-vaccination, the fine can’t be small or they’ll just see it as the price of doing business. Perhaps $5,000, per kid, per year the kids aren’t vaccinated. The money can go toward paying for public health initiatives for people who would kill to have the access to healthcare that anti-vaccination people turn their noses up to. Not only would that actually help people, but it would highlight some of the unspoken classism underlying the anti-vaccination movement. I realize that just straight-up fining people is politically unpopular in our era of soft

Robert Reich: Welcome to the Share-the-Scraps Economy

How would you like to live in an economy where robots do everything that can be predictably programmed in advance, and almost all profits go to the robots’ owners?

Meanwhile, human beings do the work that’s unpredictable – odd jobs, on-call projects, fetching and fixing, driving and delivering, tiny tasks needed at any and all hours – and patch together barely enough to live on.

Brace yourself. This is the economy we’re now barreling toward.

They’re Uber drivers, Instacart shoppers, and Airbnb hosts. They include Taskrabbit jobbers, Upcounsel’s on-demand attorneys, and Healthtap’s on-line doctors.

They’re Mechanical Turks.

The euphemism is the “share” economy. A more accurate term would be the “share-the-scraps” economy.

Michelangelo Signorile: Does Mike Huckabee Really Believe Serving Gays Is Like Forcing Jews to Sell ‘Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp’?

Just a week ago, Mormon church leaders held a scam of a press conference in which they claimed to support anti-discrimination protections for LGBT people, whom they agreed had been discriminated against for centuries. This was at first a shocker, because only seven years ago they urged church members to promote that very discrimination. They implored them to help stop gay marriage in another state, California, raising millions of dollars and sending missionaries door to door in California, telling people to vote for hate and pass Prop 8. And the leaders weren’t now offering an apology for that recent horrendous action. [..]

Mike Huckabee on Sunday spelled it out a bit more (though it’s still quite unclear), outlining the parameters of how this debate may take place among GOP potential presidential contenders. Speaking on CNN, he compared homosexuality to drinking, swearing or liking “classical music and ballet and opera.” As he explained it, these are all “lifestyles” and choices — the long-time anti-gay lie on homosexuality — and said that he has many friends who do or like those things, but they’re not his “cup of tea.” Protecting religious liberties thus means that Christians should not have to accept, or cater to, people whose choices are an affront to their faith.

And that’s when Huckabee defined a bit more just what safeguarding religious liberties means — and how Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and others will have to address it. Amid the stories of bakers and florists turning away gay customers seeking services for their weddings, and for-profit wedding chapels refusing to marry gays, Huckabee, though he wasn’t very clear, seemed to be likening laws protecting gays in these businesses to forcing Jews to “serve bacon-wrapped shrimp in their deli.”

Will Rogers: Hiding in Plain Sight: America’s Most Effective Conservation Program

On Monday, the White House released its latest budget proposal, a thick and heavy document with hundreds of pages and hundreds of thousands of numbers detailing how the Obama Administration intends to spend almost $4 trillion in the year which begins next October 1.

Budget day is part of the ritual of Washington D.C., with supporters of the White House praising the president’s choices, and opponents criticizing them. That holds true regardless of which party controls the White House and Congress.

Buried in today’s budget is a plan to spend $900 million next year for a program which has been one of the most effective in the nation since it was created 50 years ago. It is the Land and Water Conservation Fund, often referred to inside the Beltway by its acronym — LWCF. And we strongly applaud the president’s recommendation and will be working to secure congressional approval.

Feb 03 2015

TBC: Morning Musing 2.3.15

I have 3 articles for your perusal this morning.

First, now this is a guy they should have made the movie about:

I was an American sniper, and Chris Kyle’s war was not my war

During my combat tour I never saw the Iraqis as “savages.” They were a friendly culture who believed in hospitality, and were sometimes positive to a fault. The people are proud of their history, education system and national identity. I have listened to children share old-soul wisdom, and I have watched adults laugh and play with the naiveté of schoolboys. I met some incredible Iraqis during and after my deployment, and it is shameful to know that the movie has furthered ignorance that might put them in danger.

Unlike Chris Kyle, who claimed his PTSD came from the inability to save more service members, most of the damage to my mental health was what I call “moral injury,” which is becoming a popular term in many veteran circles.

As a sniper I was not usually the victim of a traumatic event, but the perpetrator of violence and death. My actions in combat would have been more acceptable to me if I could cloak myself in the belief that the whole mission was for a greater good. Instead, I watched as the purpose of the mission slowly unraveled.

Jump!

Feb 03 2015

On This Day In History February 3

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.

February 3 is the 34th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 331 days remaining until the end of the year (332 in leap years).

On this day in 1959, “the music died” when rising American rock stars Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson are killed when their chartered Beechcraft Bonanza plane crashes in Iowa a few minutes after takeoff from Mason City on a flight headed for Moorehead, Minnesota. Investigators blamed the crash on bad weather and pilot error. Holly and his band, the Crickets, had just scored a No. 1 hit with “That’ll Be the Day.”

After mechanical difficulties with the tour bus, Holly had chartered a plane for his band to fly between stops on the Winter Dance Party Tour. However, Richardson, who had the flu, convinced Holly’s band member Waylon Jennings to give up his seat, and Ritchie Valens won a coin toss for another seat on the plane.

Crash

The plane took off at around 12:55 AM Central Time. Just after 1:00 AM Central Time, Mr. Hubert Dwyer, a commercial pilot and owner of the plane, observing from a platform outside the tower, “saw the tail light of the aircraft gradually descend until out of sight.”

Peterson had told Dwyer he would file a flight plan with Air Traffic Control by radio after departure. When he did not call the Air Traffic Control communicator with his flight plan, Dwyer requested that Air Traffic Control continue to attempt to establish radio contact, but all attempts were unsuccessful.

By 3:30 AM, when Hector Airport in Fargo, North Dakota, had not heard from Peterson, Dwyer contacted authorities and reported the aircraft missing.

Around 9:15 AM, Dwyer took off in another small plane to fly Peterson’s intended route. A short time later, he spotted the wreckage in a cornfield belonging to Albert Juhl, about five miles (8 km) northwest of the airport.

The Bonanza was at a slight downward angle and banked to the right when it struck the ground at around 170 miles per hour (270 km/h). The plane tumbled and skidded another 570 feet (170 m) across the frozen landscape before the crumpled ball of wreckage piled against a wire fence at the edge of Juhl’s property. The bodies of Holly and Valens lay near the plane, Richardson was thrown over the fence and into the cornfield of Juhl’s neighbor Oscar Moffett, and the body of Peterson remained entangled inside the plane’s wreckage. Surf Ballroom manager Carroll Anderson, who drove the musicians to the airport and witnessed the plane’s takeoff, made positive identifications of the musicians.

All four had died instantly from “gross trauma” to the brain, the county coroner Ralph Smiley declared. Holly’s death certificate detailed the multiple injuries which show that he surely died on impact:

The body of Charles H. Holley was clothed in an outer jacket of yellow leather-like material in which four seams in the back were split almost full length. The skull was split medially in the forehead and this extended into the vertex region. Approximately half the brain tissue was absent. There was bleeding from both ears, and the face showed multiple lacerations. The consistency of the chest was soft due to extensive crushing injury to the bony structure.[…] Both thighs and legs showed multiple fractures.

Investigators concluded that the crash was due to a combination of poor weather conditions and pilot error. Peterson, working on his Instrument Rating, was still taking flight instrumentation tests and was not yet rated for flight into weather that would have required operation of the aircraft solely by reference to his instruments rather than by means of his own vision. The final Civil Aeronautics Board report noted that Peterson had taken his instrument training on airplanes equipped with an artificial horizon attitude indicator and not the far-less-common Sperry Attitude Gyro on the Bonanza. Critically, the two instruments display the aircraft pitch attitude in the exact opposite manner; therefore, the board thought that this could have caused Peterson to think he was ascending when he was in fact descending. They also found that Peterson was not given adequate warnings about the weather conditions of his route, which, given his known limitations, might have caused him to postpone the flight.

Feb 03 2015

The Daily/Nightly Show (Phat)

Actually, tonight’s topic is obesity and it’s arguably the #1 public health problem in the United States today, not that it kills you directly but because it’s a contributing factor to many other things like coronary disease and diabetes.  I don’t mind admitting to you that my doctors have strongly advised I drop at least 20 pounds and I think I could lose another 20 and feel much better than I do.

A major part of it is my sedentary lifestyle.  As a writer and a computer tech I spend waaay too much time staring at screens and tapping keyboards and when the weather breaks (6 weeks from now Punxsutawney Phil assures me) I’ll have to start walking on a regular basis, not the least because I’m planning on doing some sightseeing again this summer and while there was a time that 5 miles didn’t seem like much my goals are now more modest than that.

Another item that puts this subject in the news is the recent death of Colleen McCullough, author of The Thorn Birds, and her obituary in Murdoch owned The Australian the first half of which commented unflatteringly on her weight and physical appearance and only added as an afterthought her amazing accomplishments as a teacher, librarian, journalist, and neuroscientist (including 10 years as a Professor at Yale Medical School).

Oh, and she was only like the best selling Australian author ever with over 25 books to her credit.

I expect that might come up at some point, as well as the fact that proper nutrition declines with income level as the foods that are the cheapest and easiest to prepare are also the ones that promote obesity and in many urban neighborhoods markets are long and difficult journeys using public transportation while there’s a fast food joint on every corner.

What I’d ask Larry to keep 100 is this-

If your wife could look like Halle Berry would you want her to?

This is actually a trick question because Halle Berry is severely diabetic and has to use Insulin, a very strict diet, and daily exercise just to survive.

Now Some More Jokes About Balls

Continuity

Would You Marry A Republican?

This week’s guests-

The Daily Show

Martin Short got his start on SCTV which was screamingly funny and much better than Saturday Night Live except under the original cast and the original cast with Bill Murray.  He’ll be talking about either his work in Inherent Vice, his TV show Mulaney, or his upcoming Broadway role in It’s Only a Play.

Sarah Chayes 2 part web exclusive extended interview and the real news below.

Feb 03 2015

Groundhog Day

What would you do if you were stuck in one place and every day was exactly the same, and nothing that you did mattered?

That about sums it up for me.

Ned?  Ned Ryerson?!

You like boats, but not the ocean. You go to a lake in summer with your family up in the mountains. There’s a long wooden dock and a boathouse with boards missing from the roof, and a place you used to crawl underneath to be alone. You’re a sucker for French poetry and rhinestones. You’re very generous. You’re kind to strangers and children, and when you stand in the snow you look like an angel.

How are you doing this?

I told you. I wake up every day, right here, right in Punxsutawney, and it’s always February 2nd, and there’s nothing I can do about it.

How appropriate

It’s the Mind

Feb 03 2015

Groundhog Day

What would you do if you were stuck in one place and every day was exactly the same, and nothing that you did mattered?

That about sums it up for me.

Ned?  Ned Ryerson?!

You like boats, but not the ocean. You go to a lake in summer with your family up in the mountains. There’s a long wooden dock and a boathouse with boards missing from the roof, and a place you used to crawl underneath to be alone. You’re a sucker for French poetry and rhinestones. You’re very generous. You’re kind to strangers and children, and when you stand in the snow you look like an angel.

How are you doing this?

I told you. I wake up every day, right here, right in Punxsutawney, and it’s always February 2nd, and there’s nothing I can do about it.

How appropriate

It’s the Mind

Older posts «

Fetch more items