09/23/2015 archive

Dispatches From Hellpeckersville-When You Feel It Coming On

I have a tendency towards getting a little depressed every fall. I know this and I have developed certain strategies to deal with it, generally they work well. This year it’s more of a battle, not all that surprising, really. Let’s face it, it’s been kind of a shit year here at chez triv. I’m sabotaging my own strategies now and I have to cut that shit out.

Usually when I feel like this I reach out to spend time with people whose company I enjoy, and who enjoy mine. I have been doing that, but it seems there’s only a few, and although we have a very good time, when it’s over I feel an immediate and drastic letdown. I know that’s an over-reaction, I’m a grown-up, every day is not meant to be a party. They’re coming back in two weeks, not never.

I have to remember to be more like my cat. Sit in that spot of sunshine, damn it. Why does he he get to hog it all? I need to start taking my vitamin D again, because yes, I did let that slide over the summer.

I have picked up my pencils and pens again and not put them down, I’ve even taken to coloring when inspiration will not come, but I have to stop being perpetually dissatisfied with whatever I produce. I almost crumpled up and threw away a perfectly acceptable piece the other night. That little bitch voice in the back of my head was just taunting me: not good enough, triv, nope, not good enough at all. Somehow I made myself get up and walk away before I did it. Not good enough for who? But that’s depression.

I try to count my blessings, and I have many. I don’t fall into this total cult of positivity some practice here in the US, because life ain’t like that. The constant admonitions to always look on the bright side in and of itself is just too much pressure. But taking the time to stop and appreciate the good things I do have? That’s important.

I am staying far away from people and things that piss me off or make me feel bad. As much as I can, anyway. So, needless to say I didn’t watch either Republican debate. I’m watching marathons of Drunk History or stand up comedy, stuff like that. As for people? I don’t want to deal with folks who drain the life out of me just now, so I’m not going to if I don’t absolutely have to.

I don’t know if I’m going to beat it this year. I know I’m not alone, that there are many of us strugglers out there. I know I’m going to keep fighting it. I’m going to keep reminding myself that depression is a filthy liar trying to take me down, and that I’ve beaten it back before. I’m going to forgive myself for thinking it’s my own fault for letting it get so close this year. It’s really not, that’s just another lie depression tries to tell me.

In Memoriam: Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra 1925 – 2015

Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra has left the stadium for the last time. The iconic Yankees catcher passed away early this morning.

He retired after 2,120 major league games with a batting average of .285, and hit 358 home runs in his career. He played in more World Series games than any other Major League Baseball player, was a three-time American League Most Valuable Player, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1972.

He won 10 World Series with the Yankees, and a further three after his playing career finished in coaching roles.

Berra also became well known for an array of colourful quotes, such as: “If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else”; “When you come to a fork in the road … take it”; “It’s like deja vu, all over again”; and, reflecting on his reputation: “I never said most of the things I said.”

His “Yogi-isms” were repeated by presidents, businessmen, celebrities and anyone else who wanted to sound wise, funny, folksy, or all three. The cartoon character Yogi Bear was named after him, something he did not appreciate. “I don’t know why I say these things,” he once told Reuters. “But people understand me.”  [..]

Berra, survived by three sons – Larry, Tim and Dale – as well as 11 grandchildren and one great-grandchild, was once asked by Carmen: “Yogi, you are from St. Louis, we live in New Jersey, and you played ball in New York. If you go before I do, where would you like me to have you buried?”

Berra replied: “I don’t know, surprise me.”

Autumnal Equinox 2015

At 4:21 AM EDT, the Northern Hemisphere passed from Summer into Autumn as the sun passes over the equator heading south to give the Earth’s Southern Hemisphere its turn at Summer. The Autumnal Equinox is also known as: Alban Elfed, Autumn Equinox, Fall Equinox, Cornucopia, Feast of Avilon, Festival of Dionysus, Harvest Home, Harvest Tide, Mabon, Night of the Hunter, Second Harvest Festival, Wine Harvest, Witch’s Thanksgiving, and the first day of autumn. It is the second harvest, a time for gathering the Summer’s last fruits, giving thanks for the harvest and marking a celebration in gratitude as the soil and plants die away.

This year’s Harvest Moon happens on September 27 – 28 depending on your location on the globe. In North America, the crest of the moon’s full phase comes on September 27, at 10:51 p.m. EDT, 9:51 p.m CDT, 8:51 p.m. MDT or 7:51 p.m. PDT. The “Harvest Moon” is another name for the full moon that occurs closest to the autumnal equinox, which marks the change of seasons. The moon gets its name from the amount of light it emits, allowing farmers to continue harvesting the summer’s crops through the evening. This years harvest Moon is unique since it is also a super moon, when the moon’s orbit is closest to the earth. There is also full lunar eclipse that will give the moon a reddish hue as the earth’s shadow passes over its surface, thus the term “Blood Moon.”

On the night of Sept. 27 and into the early hours of Sept. 28, the full Moon will glide through the shadow of Earth, turning the Harvest Moon a golden-red color akin to autumn leaves.

The action begins at 9:07 PM Eastern Time on the evening of Sept 27th when the edge of the Moon first enters the amber core of Earth’s shadow.  For the next three hours and 18 minutes, Earth’s shadow will move across the lunar disk.

Totality begins at 10:11 PM Eastern Time.  That’s when the Moon is completely enveloped by the shadow of our planet.  Totality lasts for an hour and 12 minutes so there is plenty of time to soak up the suddenly-red moonlight.

he reason the Moon turns red may be found on the surface of the Moon itself. Using your imagination, fly to the Moon and stand inside a dusty lunar crater.  Look up. Overhead hangs Earth, nightside facing you, completely hiding the sun behind it. The eclipse is underway.

You might suppose that the Earth overhead would be completely dark.  After all, you’re looking at the nightside of our planet. Instead, something amazing happens.  When the sun is located directly behind Earth, the rim of the planet seems to catch fire! The darkened terrestrial disk is ringed by every sunrise and every sunset in the world, all at once. This light filters into the heart of Earth’s shadow, suffusing it with a coppery glow.

Back on Earth, the shadowed Moon becomes a great red orb.

A scientific myth is that day and night are equal around the entire world, not really:

Most Northern Hemisphere locations, however, do not see an exact 12-hour day until a few days after the fall equinox (and a few days before the spring equinox).

The main reason is atmospheric refraction: This bending of the sun’s light allows us to see the entire sun before and after it crosses the horizon. (By definition, actual sunrise occurs as soon as the upper edge of the solar disk appears above the horizon, while sunset occurs the moment the sun’s trailing edge disappears below it – though that’s not how our eyes see it.)

This helps explain why the day is slightly more than 12 hours long on the equinox. It also explains why places on the equator always see just over 12 hours of daylight year-round: It’s because of the angle from which they observe the sun.

Another of the myths connected to this celebration/time of year is the myth of Demeter and Persephone.  The Autumn Equinox signals the descent of Persephone back to the underworld to be with her husband, Hades and the Harvest Mother, Demeter’s mourning for her daughter…thus, the explanation of the dying back of plant life.  This myth gave explanation to our ancient ancestors for the changing of the seasons.  The symbolism that is present for us today is the letting go of our youth, child-bearing years and moving closer to the crone/elder part of our lives.  But it is only a preparation, the opening to what needs to be prepared when the Winter inevitably comes.

I Am The Autumnal Sun ~ by Henry David Thoreau

Sometimes a mortal feels in himself Nature

— not his Father but his Mother stirs

within him, and he becomes immortal with her

immortality. From time to time she claims

kindredship with us, and some globule

from her veins steals up into our own.

I am the autumnal sun,

With autumn gales my race is run;

When will the hazel put forth its flowers,

Or the grape ripen under my bowers?

When will the harvest or the hunter’s moon

Turn my midnight into mid-noon?

I am all sere and yellow,

And to my core mellow.

The mast is dropping within my woods,

The winter is lurking within my moods,

And the rustling of the withered leaf

Is the constant music of my grief….

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.

Wednesday is Ladies’ day

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

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Katrina vanden Heuvel: As the 2016 Campaigns Heat Up, the Moment Still Belongs to the People

Maybe the wave of vertigo washed over me the evening one of the cable channels ran the caption, “Awaiting Donald Trump’s National Security Address on the USS Iowa.” Or, perhaps my bout with vertigo this season has simply been caused by all the events I try to make sense of in my job as the Nation’s editor. Just think about what we are witnessing in these vertiginous days: [..]

After all, around the world, there is an uprising against austerity and status-quo politics, and it is having a powerful impact in the United States as the 2016 election campaigns heat up. What seemed impossible – the development of new political movements in Greece and Spain, the selection of Jeremy Corbyn to lead the Labour Party in Britain, the growing political potency of the New Democrats in Canada, the radical politics of South America, the rise of new radical movements in South Africa and many other examples – is playing out in real time. The rules are not merely being rewritten elsewhere; they are being rewritten in the United States. What we know for certain is that this is a moment of political upheaval. A movement moment. Yet, where this moment takes the United States is still an open question, especially in the midst of a campaign that has given us both the unexpectedly strong candidacy of Sanders for the Democratic presidential nomination and the unsettlingly strong candidacy of Trump for the Republican presidential nomination.

What I hope, and increasingly believe, is that this is a vertiginous moment of political possibility and change for the United States.

Amanda Marcottr: How Ted Cruz Gave Away The GOP’s Muslim Strategy

This week has epitomized the bizarro world American politics has become. It’s a week during which the media and politicians have been enraptured by a debate over whether or not a Muslim could become president. [..]

Nope, our entire national press has to be riveted to a hypothetical question for which there is already an answer.

Why? Well, Ted Cruz’s answer to a question about this new controversy hinted at what is really going on here. After affirming that he can read by noting that the constitution requires no religious test for office, Cruz said, “The broader question, and what I think Ben was trying to get at, is what are the consequences been in the last six and a half years of the Obama presidency?”

Say what? Carson said he didn’t think Muslims should be allowed into the office and then he backtracked saying that he just meant that members of that mythical cabal of sharia-law-in-America politicians should be barred. Obama is neither a Muslim nor part of a larger conspiracy to impose sharia law on the United States. So how, exactly, was Carson talking about him?

Obviously the answer is that both Carson and now Cruz are referencing the widespread belief amongst conservatives that Obama is secretly a Muslim but is concealing his true beliefs for nefarious reasons, possibly to impose sharia law on the nation. (Any day now.) The last public poll on this belief showed that 86 percent of Republicans are warm to it, with 54 percent believing that Obama is a Muslim and 32 percent saying they are unsure. Only 14 percent of Republicans correctly describe Obama’s religion as Christian.

In other words, the belief that Obama is a Muslim is an entrenched “fact” on the right, much like the belief that global warming is a hoax or Planned Parenthood is a for-profit company that makes its money selling fetal parts. Carson and Cruz aren’t really talking about a hypothetical Muslim president in some future world. This is all a coded way to talk about Obama.

Ellen Brown: Time for the Nuclear Option: Raining Money on Main Street

Predictions are that we will soon be seeing the “nuclear option” – central bank-created money injected directly into the real economy. All other options having failed, governments will be reduced to issuing money outright to cover budget deficits. So warns a September 18 article on ZeroHedge titled “It Begins: Australia’s Largest Investment Bank Just Said ‘Helicopter Money’ Is 12-18 Months Away.”

Money reformers will say it’s about time. Virtually all money today is created as bank debt, but people can no longer take on more debt. The money supply has shrunk along with people’s ability to borrow new money into existence. Quantitative easing (QE) attempts to re-inflate the money supply by giving money to banks to create more debt, but that policy has failed. It’s time to try dropping some debt-free money on Main Street.

Heather Digby Parton: Ted Cruz’s diabolical shutdown strategy: Why the GOP senator wants to watch the world burn

The government is hurtling towards yet another shutdown this fall. The man with the most to gain: Ted Cruz

The conventional wisdom says that these GOP shutdowns in off-years work a lot better than they would in a presidential year due to the Republican turn out advantage in mid-terms. And it’s fairly certain that the disastrous Obamacare website rollout stepped on the story of Republican overreach in 2013. Nonetheless the right wing is convinced that this is a big winner for them – and frankly, even if it isn’t, they don’t care. To people who believe in the marrow of their bones that government is a bad actor designed to make their lives miserable, shutting it down, even temporarily, is a good thing in and of itself. And who knows? It might just make the other side break one of these days.

So, here we are in the fall, once again, facing a government shutdown. The committees have not done their jobs, there is no budget, and the expiration of the current budget appropriations is almost upon us. In normal times the congress would simply pass a continuing resolution and get back to work to run the government. Instead, we are facing another “showdown”.

Jess Zimmmerman: Apple, your anti-choice tendencies are showing in your app store

Lady Parts Justice, a self-described “cabal” of pro-choice comedians, released a satirical app called “Hinder” that lets you left-swipe through a whole three-ring circus of conservative politicians bent on curtailing reproductive freedom. Each pol’s profile has more information on his (or her, but probably his) bad opinions on abortion, sex education and women in general. You can play with it on the Lady Parts Justice site, if you want to (or not! They support your choice). But you can’t find it on Apple’s App Store. Apple rejected Hinder this month, even though its guidelines explicitly allow political satire. [..]

But being merely an all right app is not what kept Hinder out of the App Store. (If that were the standard of inclusion, there would be way fewer apps overall.) Rather, it’s been barred under Apple’s rule against anything “defamatory, offensive, mean-spirited or likely to place the targeted individual or group in harm’s way.” Let me repeat: an app that accurately states politicians’ publicly held positions on reproductive rights and sex education is considered “mean-spirited” and “defamatory”.

Nobody who followed the “Siri, find me an abortion” story thinks this is about “defamatory” content. (If you missed it: Apple’s virtual personal assistant refused to find abortion clinics and occasionally directed people to “crisis pregnancy centers”, which push an anti-choice agenda in the guise of safeguarding women’s health.) And it’s definitely not about a little salty language. This is a symptom of Apple’s ongoing hostility towards reproductive rights.

Victoria Bassetti: Beware the Billionaire Gunslinger

With his blowsy hair, pinstripe suits, and brash New York attitude, Donald Trump resembles nothing so much as a gunslinging cowboy. Rick Perry may have presented himself as the real Westerner in the Republican presidential primary, but it’s the Donald’s campaign mythos that most closely resembles a classic Western.

He is the bronco-buster striding into town, looking for justice, willing to stand up to the corrupt sheriff and the local railroad bossman.

The Donald has freely accused his opponents of being part of the corrupt town gang he’s here to stare down.

Hilary, Jeb and Scott and Marco: “It’s like puppets…bing, bing,” Trump says. “They’re totally controlled, totally controlled by special interests, lobbyist, and donors. They’re totally.”

But not the Donald. He wears a white ten-gallon hat.

The Breakfast Club (Autumn Begins)

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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This Day in History

Richard Nixon gives his ‘Checkers’ speech; Rome’s Augustus Caesar born; Lewis and Clark finish trek to America’s West; Psychologist Sigmund Freud dies; Musicians Ray Charles and Bruce Springsteen born.

Breakfast Tunes

Something to Think about over Coffee Prozac

The autumn wind is a pirate. Blustering in from sea with a rollicking song he sweeps along swaggering boisterously. His face is weather beaten, he wears a hooded sash with a silver hat about his head… The autumn wind is a Raider, pillaging just for fun.

Steve Sabol

On This Day In History September 23

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.

September 23 is the 266th day of the year (267th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 99 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1964, the Paris Opera, Palais Garnier, unveils a stunning new ceiling painted as a gift by Belorussian-born artist Marc Chagall, who spent much of his life in France. The ceiling was typical of Chagall’s masterpieces–childlike in its apparent simplicity yet luminous with color and evocative of the world of dreams and the subconscious. . . .

. . . . Andre Malraux, the French minister of culture, commissioned him to design a new ceiling for the Paris Opera after seeing Chagall’s work in Daphnis et Chloe. Working with a surface of 560 square meters, Chagall divided the ceiling into color zones that he filled with landscapes and figures representing the luminaries of opera and ballet. The ceiling was unveiled on September 23, 1964, during a performance of the same Daphnis et Chloe. As usual, a few detractors condemned Chagall’s work as overly primitive, but this criticism was drowned out in the general acclaim for the work. In 1966, as a gift to the city that had sheltered him during World War II, he painted two vast murals for New York’s Metropolitan Opera House (1966).

In 1977, France honored Chagall with a retrospective exhibition at the Louvre in Paris. He continued to work vigorously until his death in 1985 at the age of 97.

The unveiling of the ceiling coincided with the publication of The Phantom of the Opera (“Le Fantôme de l’Opéra”) by Gaston Leroux.

It was first published as a serialization in “Le Gaulois” from September 23, 1909 to January 8, 1910. Initially, the story sold very poorly upon publication in book form and was even out of print several times during the twentieth century, despite the success of its various film and stage adaptations. The most notable of these were the 1925 film depiction and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1986 musical. The Phantom of the Opera musical is now the longest running Broadway show in history, and one of the most lucrative entertainment enterprises of all time.

The Daily Late Nightly Show (Bridge, is it a Sport?)

First of all, I told you so-

American TV’s most awkward & painful tradition: Why politicians need to stop going on late-night talk shows

by Jack Mirkinson, Salon

Monday, Sep 21, 2015 05:58 AM EST

I, for one, wish no politician would ever darken the door of any talk show host. It would save us all a fair bit of misery. But that is a battle I shall never win, and because I am a self-loathing masochist, I’ve been watching a lot of the appearances that the 2016 crowd has been making on these shows.

The one thing that almost all of these segments-from Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump’s trips to the “Tonight” show to Jeb Bush and Bernie Sanders’ get-togethers with Stephen Colbert-is their utter pointlessness. They’re not interesting, they’re not funny, and yet if the candidates avoid them, the press will talk about how scared they are of dealing with the supposed bear pit that is the talk show circuit.

In a sign of the limits of Fallon’s political imagination, both sketches featured his impersonation of Trump. In one, he and Trump sit on opposite sides of a mirror as Trump “interviews” himself. How will Trump create jobs? “I just will,” the real Trump says. Hilarious! In another, Fallon-as-Trump “interviews” Clinton-as-Clinton. Sample Clinton dialogue: “America was built by people who came here, they worked their hearts out for a better life!” (She also makes fun of his hair. And she smiles!) Thank god Hillary Clinton finally got a platform to say that!

Fallon’s actual interviewing technique is just a cut above. His probing of Clinton’s email scandal lasted about 90 seconds before he moved on to selfies.

The one man who sailed through his talk show appearance and came out neither embarrassed nor wounded was Bernie Sanders. He came out, barked out his talking points, didn’t try to be funny, the New York crowd predictably ate it up, applause rained down, he left, done and done. Now that’s how you do it. Either everybody should act like Sanders or we should just ban the talk show appearance altogether. There are no other choices.

I don’t want to give you the impression Mirkinson was any more complimentary of Stephen’s interviews than Fallon’s because he wasn’t.  Sorry if that bothers you, my point was about Bernie’s performance, not Colbert’s, and I’ve personally never felt he was an especially good interviewer except by comparison to almost everyone else, though I will grant his preparation is always obvious.

Some people quite like the job he is doing however-

Stephen Colbert dismantles Ted Cruz’s anti-gay bigotry & tax cut fanaticism

by Sophia Tesfaye, Salon

Tuesday, Sep 22, 2015 04:47 PM EST

Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz paid a visit to Stephen Colbert’s two-week-old “Late Show” set last night and sat for a grilling over the legacy of conservative icon Ronald Reagan tougher than any question the Texas senator fielded at last week’s debate at Reagan’s presidential library.

Colbert’s Ted Cruz (calm and fair) smackdown: How “The Late Show” is triumphing with even-handed intelligence in these polarized times

by Scott Timberg, Salon

Tuesday, Sep 22, 2015 12:33 PM EST

Since his debut helming David Letterman’s old show, a few optimists predicted that Colbert – who has also recently dropped an old mask of his own – would become an important and grownup player in the discussion of politics. It’s still early, but so far he’s made good on these hopes. He’s now had Jeb Bush, Joe Biden, and Sen. Bernie Sanders on his show, and he’s demonstrated that he can speak, with a mix of seriousness and humor, to political figures better than just about anyone on television. Coming so soon after the weirdly brain-dead GOP debate on CNN, with its pandering questions, the Cruz interview served as a reminder of how valuable a part of the mix Colbert is becoming.

The Cruz interview started out conventional and light-hearted; it didn’t reveal much but allowed Colbert to connect with the jowly Texan. The highlight of the interview came when Colbert asked Cruz about the unreflective Reagan-worship in today’s GOP, which was on evidence at the debate the Reagan Library and on Cruz’s discussion of Reagan Democrats. “Reagan raised taxes, okay,” Colbert asked. “Reagan actually had an amnesty program for illegal immigrants. Neither of those things would allow Reagan to be nominated today. So to what level can you truly emulate Ronald Reagan?… Could you agree with Reagan on those two things?”

Cruz tried to squirm out, and on the issue of compromising like the Gipper had done, gave a twangy response as to why he would not “give in more to Barack Obama.” He later fell back on the usual half-truths about the miracle of the Reagan economy and his supposed shrinking of the government. (No mention of years of recession or the tripling of the deficit or the undercutting of the middle class or the way the economic cycle Reagan presided over led to the Bush I slump.)

Instead of rolling over, Colbert came right back.

When the two discussed gay marriage, and the audience began to boo Cruz, Colbert announced, “Guys, guys, however you feel, he’s my guest, so please don’t boo him.” You can dislike Cruz (as I do) and also think this may’ve been the most important line of the night.

Not every loose end was followed up. But the main way this interview could have been improved was to simply make it longer.

Colbert’s interview with Bush – which was effective not because it sparkled, but because he allowed the candidate to decisively reveal his own tone-deafness – and his ability to open Joe Biden up about the death of his son, show his real skill. Part of it comes from prodding, part of it from allowing these guys to be themselves.

Of course Timberg also calls Jon Stewart an “angry liberal” which everyone who reads these pieces knows is a laughable falsehood.  To think that Colbert’s show was more “centrist”, reasonable, and less strident than Jon’s demonstrates a profound ignorance of the content under discussion.

Tonight is The Donald who is vastly more entertaining than Cruz who even on review I think was soporific.  Thank goodness for that since his other guest is also political (and probably less interesting than last night’s snooze-Cruz) Ernest Moniz, current Secretary of Energy.  The musical guest is Raury.

The New Continuity

Timberg did like Larry’s Sanders piece.

As for Sanders, Larry Wilmore had more fun with him than Colbert did. Despite at least one great question from Colbert – why didn’t Sanders realize what an insult the term “socialist” was supposed to be? – and a joke about “messages from giant corporations to pay our bills,” Sanders offered pretty familiar stuff about Scandinavia and college costs and corporate America. Powerful, and things we need to hear, but standard stump-speech stuff. (Colbert does get points for asking about SuperPACs.)

Bernie, Bernie, Bernie

I didn’t think it was all that, but it did generate a lot of positive buzz.

Tonightly the subject is the YouTube sensation, Pizza Rat

Our panel is Sal Vulcano, Elana Duffy, Egypt Sherrod, and Benari Poulten.