05/24/2015 archive

Rant of the Week: Bill Maher: New Rule: Brit for Brains

Bill Maher: New Rule: Brit for Brains

On This Day In History May 24

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.

May 24 is the 144th day of the year (145th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 221 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1775, John Hancock is elected president of the Second Continental Congress.

ohn Hancock is best known for his large signature on the Declaration of Independence, which he jested the British could read without spectacles. He was serving as president of Congress upon the declaration’s adoption on July 4, 1776, and, as such, was the first member of the Congress to sign the historic document.

John Hancock graduated from Harvard University in 1754 at age 17 and, with the help of a large inherited fortune, established himself as Boston’s leading merchant. The British customs raid on one of Hancock’s ships, the sloop Liberty, in 1768 incited riots so severe that the British army fled the city of Boston to its barracks in Boston Harbor. Boston merchants promptly agreed to a non-importation agreement to protest the British action. Two years later, it was a scuffle between Patriot protestors and British soldiers on Hancock’s wharf that set the stage for the Boston Massacre.

Hancock’s involvement with Samuel Adams and his radical group, the Sons of Liberty, won the wealthy merchant the dubious distinction of being one of only two Patriots-the other being Sam Adams-that the Redcoats marching to Lexington in April 1775 to confiscate Patriot arms were ordered to arrest. When British General Thomas Gage offered amnesty to the colonists holding Boston under siege, he excluded the same two men from his offer.

President of Congress

With the war underway, Hancock made his way to the Continental Congress in Philadelphia with the other Massachusetts delegates. On May 24, 1775, he was unanimously elected President of the Continental Congress, succeeding Peyton Randolph after Henry Middleton declined the nomination. Hancock was a good choice for president for several reasons. He was experienced, having often presided over legislative bodies and town meetings in Massachusetts. His wealth and social standing inspired the confidence of moderate delegates, while his association with Boston radicals made him acceptable to other radicals. His position was somewhat ambiguous, because the role of the president was not fully defined, and it was not clear if Randolph had resigned or was on a leave of absence. Like other presidents of Congress, Hancock’s authority was limited to that of a presiding officer. He also had to handle a great deal of official correspondence, and he found it necessary to hire clerks at his own expense to help with the paperwork.

Signing the Declaration

Hancock was president of Congress when the Declaration of Independence was adopted and signed. He is primarily remembered by Americans for his large, flamboyant signature on the Declaration, so much so that “John Hancock” became, in the United States, an informal synonym for signature. According to legend, Hancock signed his name largely and clearly so that King George could read it without his spectacles, but this fanciful story did not appear until many years later.

Punting the Pundits: Sunday Preview Edition

Punting the Punditsis 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

The Sunday Talking Heads:

This Week with George Stephanopolis: The guests on Sunday’s “This Week” is Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a potential 2016 GOP presidential candidate.

The roundtable guests are:  Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MI); Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol; ABC News contributor Donna Brazile; and New York Daily News columnist S.E. Cupp.

NB: “This Week” may be preempted in some markets because of the Indianapolis 500.

Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer: Mr Schieffer’s guests are: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ); Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA); David Rohde, Reuters; and Rajiv Chandrasekaran, former Washington Post bureau chief in Baghdad.

His panel guests are; author Peter Arnett; photographer David Hume Kennerly; author Laura Palmer; and journalist Bill Plante.

Meet the Press with Chuck Todd: We have been spared Chuck & Company today for the English Premier Soccer League. Thank you, England.

State of the Union with Jake Tapper: The CNN “SOTU” web site is even worse than NBC’s “MTP.”

Since it’s a holiday weekend, go do what you enjoy most. Have a happy and safe holiday.

Formula One 2015: Monaco

You may ask me, ‘ek, why do you cover sports?’  There are two reasons.  The Meta one is that as a general interest topic it drives readership and the live blogging commentary creates activity.  Since the action unfolds in a semi-predictable fashion it’s not that that difficult to, with practice, establish a rhythm that does not strain my execrable typing skills (yes, despite years of training by the best teachers I can barely manage three fingers on a good day).  The volume of the commentary demonstrates that despite a lack of peeder type automatic Ajax updating, long, timely, and complicated discussions can be held using pacified’s Java recreation of Scoop (Soapblox).

The second is class warfare, this is why I’m drawn to those that are notoriously obscure and corrupt, like Formula One.

Monaco is the tightest, slowest track on the schedule, kept alive by tradition and the crass display of wealth and privilege.  It is no accident that Monaco is the site of the mid-season meeting of the Formula One executive committee.  You may have money, but do you have Monaco money?

We may look back on this year as the begining of the end.

First of all the positive outcome- they are bringing back refueling.  Why is refueling important?  It’s not just the amount of time a car spends in the pits, fuel is weight and lighter cars are faster and easier on tires.  You have to add this factor into your over all race strategy and complicated is good.  It creates opportunities for overtaking that don’t involve bumping tires in a corner (very dangerous) and instead take place while cars are stopped (somewhat more dangerous for the pit crew, but they do it in IndyCar and Turn Left so how difficult can it be?).

The bad news.

Formula One is hemmoraging interest and audience.  Sure Bernie can screw hundreds of Millions from despotic dictatorships for the right to have the Circus visit, but in Europe viewership and attendance is crashing.  No German Grand Prix this year and soon enough no Billion dollar TV contract from Sky and BBC.

Bernie’s solution?  ‘Customer Cars’.  What this means is that there will only be 4 teams on the track- Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull, and McLaren.  If you’re a field filler (not one of the 10 works cars) you’ll pay through the nose for second rate cast offs to fund the development program of the favored four.

Hey, if I wanted to watch Turn Left racing I could.  You know  why I don’t?  It’s BORING!

You want to know what would make a difference?  Subsidized on track testing, looser engine rules, more equitable bonus payouts (teams that use ‘Customer Cars’ are not eligible for any Constructor’s bonuses at all).  Bernie thinks that somehow this all adds up to a new personality-centric, driver oriented system that eliminates paying for seats (hey, how about this radical idea- just ban it) and creates fan interest.

Just.  Like.  Turn Left.

I don’t root for Hamilton (this week Hamilton got the superstar contract, $50 Million a year for 3 years) except to the extent that I think he’s talented and exciting and it irks me to see a robotic asshole like Vettel (or Schumacher) fly off in clean air never to be seen again and have all the commentators proclaim what a great driver he is though his only talents are Qualifying and staying out of trouble in superior machinery.  I have much more respect for Alonso who can make a brick seem racy.

Bernie has picked the the wrong metaphor here.  Scuderia fans are Scuderia fans regardless of results just as in U.S. team sports it hardly matters who’s on the Mets or Green Bay or the Lady Huskies (Men’s Basketball is crap.  Pro Basketball is crap squared).  Drivers are mercenaries, they come and go.  Teams are the soul of the sport and we’re witnessing that soul being ripped out.

And not without consequence, Bernie’s business model can not work.  As interest drains from the sport so will the money until even the tyrants he gets along with so well have no use for this senile old dinosaur.

Oh, racing.  Tight and slow.  No place to pass.  Softs and Super Softs with just the one stop to get legal unless you care to get exotic to relieve the tedium.

The good news is no Chuck Todd.  Coverage on NBC starting at 7:30 am then Premier League Soccer (Another team driven sport, the richest in the world.  Are you listening Bernie?  Of course not.).

Six In The Morning

On Sunday

 Church in Ireland needs ‘reality check’ after gay marriage vote



One of Ireland’s most senior Catholic clerics has called for the Church to take a “reality check” following the country’s overwhelming vote in favour of same-sex marriage.

The first gay marriages are now likely to take place in the early autumn.

Diarmuid Martin, the archbishop of Dublin, said the Church in Ireland needed to reconnect with young people.

The referendum found 62% were in favour of changing the constitution to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry.

Sunday’s Headlines:

Qatar refuses to let Nepalese workers return to attend funerals after quake

Burundian opposition figure shot dead, witnesses say

 Cyber-Attack Warning: Could Hackers Bring Down a Plane?

Mass graves of Rohingya, Bangladeshi migrants in Malaysia’s forests: report

In Jordanian city, cries of ‘Hands Up, Don’t Shoot’ echo Ferguson

The Breakfast Club (Love Minus Zero)

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.

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Breakfast Tune:  Love Minus Zero / No Limit (clawhammer banjo) Marc Nerenberg

Today in History

Highlights of this day in history: Samuel Morse opens America’s first telegraph line; Four men sentenced for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing; Britain’s Queen Victoria born; The Brooklyn Bridge opens; Singer-songwriter Bob Dylan born. (May 24)

Breakfast News & Blogs Below

Fifty Years of Music and Activism with Buffy Sainte-Marie

Back in 1964 musician, songwriter, pacifist, and activist Buffy Saint-Marie wrote the song “Universal Soldier,” one of the best known songs of the anti-war movement of the 60’s. Last week she spent an hour with Democracy Now!‘s Amy Goodman and Juan González to talk about her music and her activism.

Democracy Now! Special: An Hour of Music and Conversation with Legendary Native American Singer-Songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie

The transcript can be found here

In a Democracy Now! special, an hour of conversation and music with Cree Indian singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie. In the turbulent 1960s, she was just out of college but already famous for her beautiful voice and moving lyrics in songs like “Universal Soldier” and “Now that the Buffalo’s Gone.” Over the years, Buffy Sainte-Marie has worked with the American Indian Movement, but also with Sesame Street, and even Hollywood, winning an Academy Award for the song “Up Where We Belong” in 1982. She’s won international recognition for her music, has a PhD in fine arts, and began a foundation for American Indian Education that she remains closely involved with. We speak with the folk icon about her life, her music, censorship, and her singing and speaking out about the struggles of Native American peoples for the past four decades. She also performs live in the firehouse studio.