04/01/2015 archive

Dispatches From Hellpeckersville- My Mom Vapes

My mom doesn’t remember much, in fact, she doesn’t know who the hell I am. She likes me, I’m her BFF, but she doesn’t know my name. The one thing she does remember is that she smokes. This has become a problem. A big one. It isn’t enough anymore just to hide all the lighters, she’s at the point where she’s dangerous. She burns holes in her clothes, knocks the cherry off the end of her cig, she’s even put her smoke out right on the tablecloth, a brand new tablecloth, I don’t mind saying. Want to know the best part? She wasn’t enjoying it much. She would make “yukky” faces and even say, “Blech!” while exhaling, but she wanted to smoke. You can’t convince a person with dementia they don’t want to smoke, they think you’re crazy and evil.

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

Katrina vanden Heuvel: Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty will help neither workers nor consumers

“China wants to write the rules for the world’s fastest-growing region … We should write those rules,” President Obama declared in his State of the Union address. To sell Congress on giving him authority to “fast track” consideration of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade and investment treaty with 12 nations that has been under negotiation for five years, the president argues it is vital that “we” write the rules. The real question, of course, is what does he mean by “we”? [..]

How do trade treaties that undermine workers, cost jobs and create a private, corporate global arbitration system get through Congress? The answer, of course, is the corporate lobby that writes the rules mobilizes big money and armies of lobbyists to drive them through. Most Democrats oppose the treaties, but the Wall Street wing of the party tends to support them. Conservatives would naturally oppose secretive global panels that can force taxpayers to pay damages to companies, but the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable round up votes to get the treaty passed.

So remember, when the president argues that it is vital that “we” write the rules, “we” means not the American people, but corporate and financial interests.

President Obama has dramatically called inequality the defining challenge of our time. But the reason the 1 percent capture virtually all of the income growth in this society, the reason working families are struggling simply to stay afloat, is that the rules are rigged by the powerful to favor themselves. Our trade policies are clear examples of that. America’s middle class will continue to sink until “we” means the American people, not Wall Street and the corporate lobby.

Jessica Valenti: Don’t stress out. Our kids are just fine when their mothers work late

Some welcome news for working moms: you can stay late at the office tonight and your kid will be just fine.

A new study published this April in the Journal of Marriage and Family (pdf) shows that the widely-held belief that young children do better when their mothers spend significant time with them is actually wrong: kids are okay no matter how many hours mom works.

In fact, the stress of trying to live up to unrealistic parenting standards is likely more detrimental to children than a lack of time spent together. The so-called Mommy Wars aren’t just hurting women – they’re hurting kids, as well.  [..]

But, despite the neverending guilt mothers are expected to feel for working outside the home, the results of the study showed that the amount of time parents – mothers, in particular – spend with young children doesn’t have a statistically significant impact on their development or well-being.

Jess Zimmerman: April Fools’ pranks reveal the unfunny future of consumerism

The tech industry, hovering constantly one buzzword away from self-parody, is a hostile environment for mockery. So why are tech companies such zealous April Fools participants, second only perhaps to my cousin, who once pranked my grandmother by snail mail because she’d been warned not to believe anything he said on the phone on 1 April?

This year’s tech industry April Fools’ pranks started sliding out a day in advance. Maybe companies couldn’t bear to keep their jokes under wraps, or maybe they thought they’d sucker more people with a 31 March-dated press release. How else do you explain that, one day before 1 April, we already had Google Panda (a huggable version of Siri), the Samsung Galaxy BLADE edge (which turns your phone into a cleaver), and PACMaps, which merges PacMan with Google Maps. As usual, tech companies are falling all over each other to roll out a gag product, though this is the first time I’ve noticed them being so eager that they bring them out a day early. As usual the offerings are mildly funny, mildly annoying and only barely distinguishable from actual real-life products offered for sale. [..]

Behind the light-heartedness of today’s jokes is a tiny blip of menace: today’s satire is often tomorrow’s reality. On April Fools’ Day we look disconcertingly into our secret cravings and into the future of consumerism, and what we see isn’t all that implausible. No wonder nobody laughs all that hard.

Michelle Goldberg: Indiana Just Sentenced a Woman Convicted of Feticide to Twenty Years in Prison

Indiana’s law allowing discrimination against gay people is not the only reason that the state deserves our opprobrium. It’s also about to become the first state to imprison a woman for what it says is the death of a baby born after an attempted abortion.

On Monday, 33-year-old Purvi Patel, an unmarried woman from a conservative Hindu family who bought abortion drugs online, was sentenced to twenty years in prison for the crimes of feticide and neglect of a dependent. It was not the first time that feticide laws, passed under the guise of protecting pregnant women from attack, have been turned against pregnant women themselves. Indiana, after all, was also the state that jailed Bei Bei Shuai, an immigrant who tried to commit suicide by poisoning herself while pregnant, and whose baby later died. But the Patel case is still a disturbing landmark. “Yes, the feticide laws in other states have been used to arrest and sometimes punish the pregnant women herself,” says Lynn Paltrow, executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women, which advised Patel’s defense. “This is the first time it’s being used to punish what they say is an attempted self-abortion.” [..]

Indiana strengthened its feticide law in 2009, after a pregnant woman who was shot during a bank robbery lost the twins she was carrying. Under the statute, feticide applies in cases where a “person…knowingly or intentionally terminates a human pregnancy with an intention other than to produce a live birth or to remove a dead fetus.” There is an exemption for legal abortion, but no explicit one for self-abortion. Reproductive rights activists like Paltrow have long contended that such laws, championed by conservatives, are a sneaky way of eroding abortion rights, and the Patel case shows that they are right. We’ve reached a point where desperate women who end their pregnancies before viability are going to prison.

Linda Greenhouse: The Supreme Court’s Death Trap

You wouldn’t know it from the death penalty proceeding about to take place in the Boston Marathon case, or from Utah’s reauthorization of the firing squad, or the spate of botched lethal injections, but capital punishment in the United States is becoming vestigial.

The number of death sentences imposed last year, 72, was the lowest in 40 years. The number of executions, 35, was the lowest since 1994, less than half the modern peak of 98, reached in 1999. Seven states, the fewest in 25 years, carried out executions.

California has the country’s biggest death row, with more than 700 inmates. Many more of them die of natural causes – two since mid-March – than by execution. Last July, a federal district judge, Cormac J. Carney, concluding that California’s death penalty had become “dysfunctional,” “random” and devoid of “penological purpose,” declared it unconstitutional (pdf); the state is appealing.

In 2008, two years before he retired, Justice John Paul Stevens renounced the death penalty. His nuanced opinion (pdf) in Baze v. Rees (pdf) rewards rereading. No current justice has taken up the call. I’m not so naïve as to predict that a majority of the Supreme Court will declare the death penalty unconstitutional anytime soon. But the voice of even one member of the court could set a clarifying marker to which others would have to respond. And it just might over time point the way to freeing the court – and the rest of us – from the machinery of death.

Elise Czajkowski: Can Trevor Noah fill Jon Stewart’s big shoes for ‘Indecision 2016’?

This morning, Comedy Central officially announced 31-year-old South African comedian Trevor Noah as the third host of its flagship late-night show, The Daily Show. Noah has been slowly working his way up the ladder of US comedy over the last few years, with his own Showtime special and appearances on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and The Late Show with David Letterman. When he joined The Daily Show back in December as an international correspondent, it seemed like a forward-thinking move on the part of the network. But it’s a big jump to take over from Jon Stewart, whose wry voice has become a pillar of American satire. [..]

Noah’s presence should an international flavour to the show, hopefully breaking it out of its obsession with the 24-hour news channels and petty Washington bickering. It was Stewart who swung the show sharply towards politics when he took over in 1999; there’s no reason that Noah couldn’t change the direction once again.

Stewart hasn’t officially announced his leaving date, confirming that it will be sometime in 2015. Noah’s tour schedule has him booked at shows in the UK as late as 22 October, which means he’s probably not to take over the chair until late in the year. Between then and now, he’s got a lot of studying to do.

The Breakfast Club (First Anniversary)

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Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover  we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

Today is the First Anniversary Of The Breakfast Club founded by That Group, a bunch of true left wing advocates for democracy and freedom. We are still here pointing out the lies, the absurd, the truth and still having a good laugh. We offer a place for the disenfranchised left to voice their distrust of the government and disgust with the current political system. It’s a  place where we can discuss solutions and ideas. We are here everyday and will be in the future. Our three sites may not garner the attention that they deserve but we aren’t going away. Thank you all for reading and writing and thinking.

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This Day in History

Slobodan Milosevic arrested; US forces invade Okinawa during WWII; Nazi Germany begins persecuting Jews; Pvt. Jessica Lynch rescued in Iraq; Marvin Gaye killed.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

The first of April is the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year.

Mark Twain

On This Day In History April 1

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.

April 1 is the 91st day of the year (92nd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 274 days remaining until the end of the year. April 1 is most notable in the Western world for being April Fools’ Day.

On this day in 1700, English pranksters begin popularizing the annual tradition of April Fools’ Day by playing practical jokes on each other.

Although the day, also called All Fools’ Day, has been celebrated for several centuries by different cultures, its exact origins remain a mystery. Some historians speculate that April Fools’ Day dates back to 1582, when France switched from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar, as called for by the Council of Trent in 1563. People who were slow to get the news or failed to recognize that the start of the new year had moved to January 1 and continued to celebrate it during the last week of March through April 1 became the butt of jokes and hoaxes. These included having paper fish placed on their backs and being referred to as “poisson d’avril” (April fish), said to symbolize a young, easily caught fish and a gullible person.

Historians have also linked April Fools’ Day to ancient festivals such as Hilaria, which was celebrated in Rome at the end of March and involved people dressing up in disguises. There’s also speculation that April Fools’ Day was tied to the vernal equinox, or first day of spring in the Northern Hemisphere, when Mother Nature fooled people with changing, unpredictable weather.

April Fools’ Day is celebrated all around the world on the April 1 of every year. Sometimes referred to as All Fools’ Day, April 1 is not a national holiday, but is widely recognized and celebrated as a day where everyone plays all kind of joke and foolishness. The day is marked by the commission of good humoured or funny jokes, hoaxes, and other practical jokes of varying sophistication on friends, family members, teachers, neighbors, work associates, etc.

Traditionally, in some countries such as New Zealand, Ireland, the UK, Australia, and South Africa, the jokes only last until noon, and someone who plays a trick after noon is called an “April Fool”.

Elsewhere, such as in France, Italy, South Korea, Japan, Russia, The Netherlands, Germany, Brazil, Canada, and the U.S., the jokes last all day. The earliest recorded association between April 1 and foolishness can be found in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (1392). Many writers suggest that the restoration of the January 1 as New Year’s Day in the 16th century was responsible for the creation of the holiday, but this theory does not explain earlier references.

But I feel MUCH less rampagey now!

Those who know me well understand I’m a great green rage monster barely held in check-

My anger is mostly self directed at my failure to live up to my own expectations of personal performance.  I’m really quite easy to work with.  When I delegate I empower.  This is not a competition.

Besides I would lose.  My self assessment is that most of what I produce is crap I’d much rather forget than analyze.  Like the Impressionists I invite you to examine not the brush strokes but the big canvas.

This is my 10th anniversary as a writer on the Internet (I was born a writer) and earless or not I intend to continue until the gulfs drag me down.

It little profits that an idle king, by this still hearth, among these barren crags, matched with an aged wife, I mete and dole unequal laws unto a savage race, that hoard and sleep, and feed, and know not me.

I cannot rest from travel: I will drink Life to the lees!

All times I have enjoyed greatly, have suffered greatly, both with those that loved me, and alone on shore, and when through scudding drifts the rainy Hyades vext the dim sea-  I am become a name for always roaming with a hungry heart.

Much have I seen and known.  Cities of men and manners, climates, councils, governments.  Myself not least, but honored of them all.

And drunk delight of battle with my peers far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.

I am a part of all that I have met; yet all experience is an arch wherethrough gleams that untravelled world, whose margin fades for ever and for ever when I move.

How dull it is to pause, to make an end, to rust unburnished, not to shine in use!  As though to breathe were life.

Life piled on life were all too little, and of one to me scant remains, but every hour is saved from that eternal silence something more, a bringer of new things.

And vile it were for some three suns to store and hoard myself and this gray spirit yearning in desire to follow knowledge like a sinking star beyond the utmost bounds of human thought.

This is my son, mine own Telemachus to whom I leave the sceptre and the isle, well-loved of me, discerning to fulfill this labour, by slow prudence to make mild a rugged people, and through soft degrees subdue them to the useful and the good.  Most blameless is he, centred in the sphere of common duties, decent not to fail in offices of tenderness, and pay meet adoration to my household gods when I am gone.  He works his work, I mine.

There lies the port, the vessel puffs her sail.

There gloom the dark broad seas.

My mariners, souls that have toiled and wrought, and thought with me; that ever with a frolic welcome took the thunder and the sunshine, and opposed free hearts, free foreheads…

You and I are old.

Old age hath yet his honour and his toil.

Death closes all- but something ere the end, some work of noble note, may yet be done, not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.

The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks.

The long day wanes.

The slow moon climbs

The deep moans round with many voices.

Come, my friends!  ‘Tis not too late to seek a newer world, push off, and sitting well in order smite the sounding furrows; for my purpose holds!

To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths of all the western stars, until I die.

It may be that the gulfs will wash us down.

It may be that we shall touch the Happy Isles, and see the great Achilles, whom we knew.

Though much is taken, much abides, and though we are not now that strength which in old days moved heaven and earth; that which we are, we are-

One equal temper of heroic hearts,

Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will to strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Ulysses, Tennyson