Saturday, May 30, 2009

Been Memed

Agi  has a meme and was kind enough to tag me. This one is not going to be stellar, but I’ll do my best. It’s about your movie rental history or, if you don’t have one of those, then whatever the last ten movies you’ve rented or watched. I’m headed for Epic Fail here because I’m about two decades behind on my movie watching. What makes it even worse is that when I do get around to seeing one it’s likely not going to be anything I’m terribly proud of.

First let me say that Mr.Yenta is in charge of media acquisition around here. If I want to see something I let him know and he’ll see to getting it. He doesn’t rent. He usually buys on eBay. Then he either keeps it if he likes it enough or else sells it back on eBay. Frequently a movie comes out that I think I’d like to see when it’s available on DVD, but by the time it is, I’ve entirely forgotten. So, my recent movie history goes like this:

The two Queen Elizabeth movies. I’m a sucker for historical drama and books, too. Novels and actual biographies. I prefer more pre-Renaissance stuff, but I’ll watch what’s available.

Hancock. Was fun.

Lakeview Terrace. Well, we started it, but neither Mr. Yenta or I was having fun watching it so we decided we didn’t have to finish it if we didn’t want to.

We bought Slumdog Millionaire last week, but haven’t remembered to actually watch it.

Also, bits of whatever inexecrable thing Mr. Yenta is watching on Sci-Fi or Chiller. They often involve giant snakes or other reptiles.

Consider yourselves all tagged if you want to be. You know who you are.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Another Study, Similar Conclusion

John Stuart Mill

Image via Wikipedia

I never meant to say that the Conservatives are generally stupid. I meant to say that stupid people are generally Conservative. I believe that is so obviously and universally admitted a principle that I hardly think any gentleman will deny it. - John Stuart Mill -

Yet another study shows linkage between dumbassness and conservatism.

Conservatism and cognitive ability are negatively correlated. The evidence is based on 1254 community college students and 1600 foreign students seeking entry to United States' universities. At the individual level of analysis, conservatism scores correlate negatively with SAT, Vocabulary, and Analogy test scores. At the national level of analysis, conservatism scores correlate negatively with measures of education (e.g., gross enrollment at primary, secondary, and tertiary levels) and performance on mathematics and reading assessments from the PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) project. They also correlate with components of the Failed States Index and several other measures of economic and political development of nations. Conservatism scores have higher correlations with economic and political measures than estimated IQ scores.

This time it’s all about cognitive ability. The results seem to be strikingly similar in all the studies that come out. There’s more stupidity in the conservative camp. Surprised? Not so much.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Sonia Sotomayor v Bigotry

US Supreme CourtImage by dbking via Flickr

It's kind of redundant to post about this at this point. Every blog that even dabbles in politics is writing about, most better than I could. BUT - just how blatantly bigoted to the Republicans think it's a good idea to be? Do they think that their base of white, angry, frightened senior citizens is going over time? They're exquisitely expressing fear of ethnicity and gender all over the freaking place. Rush says she's an "angry woman". Although I'm not seeing it, I don't really see where he's in a position to criticize anger. It's made him a bundle. Although, of course, he also says that Obama has a chip on his shoulder. Transference much, Rush? Obama surely does have a lot on his shoulders. Not many people can legitimately claim to have the weight of the world on their shoulders, but the POTUS can and when you add all the shit left behind by the Bushies it's a wonder he can stand up, but he does. But you never see a sign of a chip.

This whole "reverse racism" thing might have seemed like a good idea for stirring up the low information, white, male, unemployed demographic, but they're taking it way too far like they've done with everything else and allowing everyone to see exactly what they're about.

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The Goode Family

The Goode FamilyImage via Wikipedia

The Goode Family premier tonight was pretty funny. Because liberals can laugh at themselves - or at least at their friends. We enjoyed it.

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

This Is Unbelievable

Well, it's not really unbelievable but I wish that it was a lot harder to believe. Writechic Press has been devoting a lot of her blog to helping with one particular person's battle to receive lifesaving medical care. This most recent roadblock is just the latest news read backward to learn more.

And if anyone ever again says to you that - A. "People don't die from lack of health care in this country" or B. "Universal health care will lead to rationing and waits for care", you should probably just spit in his eye.

Let's Take Up A Collection

And give Cheney an all expenses paid trip to Spain including one-way airfare. In appreciation for his service to the country and all.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Let Me Talk You Down, Rachel, Hilzoy, et al

This is going to be quick because I'm literally on my way out to work. I've asked my lefty lawyer sister about Obama and preventative detention for some of the Gitmo detainees and the issues surrounding it. By the way, I'd put money on her in a constitutional cage match with any lawyer from the Center for Constitutional Rights or just about any other for that matter. She's wicked smart and very good. She also predicted that there would be this problem of tainted evidence against people we might not be able to let go. What she says, just from reading that part of the speech - is that what Obama is talking about is within the Geneva Convention rules. It does not appear to be about any "unprecedented presidential power" as was asserted on the Rachel Maddow show last night. She's going to study the whole thing and tell me more over the weekend, but this is what I've got off the top of her head:

First a military commision designates who is and who isn't a POW. The Bush administration decided to get around all that by making up the designation of "unlawful enemy combatant" and the Obama administraton is now forced to sort that out years later. Then, once designated a POW we can detain the person for the legnth of the conflict. What could pose a political problem for the administration is that POWs are supposed to be held in humane - very humane - conditions. They are not charged with a crime. The principle is that they're being held to keep them off the battlefield. They wouldn't have to go as far as we did during WWII with some Italian POWs held in the NY area. Some of them got furloughs to go visit Little Italy. We probably wouldn't be doing that. But they should properly be kept in better conditions than prisoners who have been convicted of a crime.

It's not pretty, but it's not ad hoc either. There are complications due to the fact that this conflict is of a different nature, of course. For one thing, if you're designated a POW and the conflict is an insurgency, you could be detained for a long, long time. If the previous administration had been interested in the rule of law everything would be in place by now, but it was more interested in getting around the law. That is one of the many huge differences between the Obama and Bush administrations.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Governor Perry Says He's Not A Rebel, No, No, No

Rick Perry's Texas Tea PartyImage by Mike Licht, via Flickr

Now Rick Perry writes that he never advocated for secession. And he never will. It was just a case of twisting his words. He's clearing it up now. He's just understandably upset over Democratic deficit spending, as opposed to Republican deficit spending which is just fine.

My only question is whether this is something he'll have to apologize to Rush Limbaugh for. Or is it Hannity who's in charge of secession related apologies?
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Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Mentally Stable Need Not Apply

WASHINGTON - MAY 16:   President Barack Obama ...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Acting Globally

I don't really know very much about Governor Huntsman of Utah, other than what I've read recently. The graviment of that is that he's that increasingly rare bird - a Republican and not demonstrably mentally ill. Therefore, he might be able to make a credible run for the presidency in 2012 and apparently was considering doing so. It's early, but it was serious enough for the Michigan County Republican Party to cancel an appearance by Huntsman because of his not being enough of a mouth breathing, knuckle dragging bigot support for civil unions. And now he's going to China to be an ambassador. Ambassador to China is a hugely important job at this moment in history and he seems to be well qualified for it. It's also about as far away from Republican Party politics as he can get.

I was thinking about doing a longer post, speculating about Huntsman's motivation for accepting this post, but it turned out that Steven Benen had already posted exactly what I was thinking, only better. This might be the sort of of post-partisanship that President Obama was talking about. A rival goes to the other side of the world and Jon Huntsman gets to take himself out of action while he sees if the Republican Party is ever going to have room for normal people again. And of course, the crazies don't have to go to the trouble of running off another moderate. They've got enough to do with expelling Charlie Crist and Colin Powell.

Acting Out Locally

Meanwhile, here on Long Island, the teabaggers were at it again. They had what looked to be a pretty lively event on tax day last month, so they decided to do it again for Armed Forces Day. I haven't been able to find any coverage of it online as yet. The only reason I knew about it was that my sister passed it on the road today. She said it was as charming as all these things, with signs that said "Waterboard Pelosi" mixed in with other assorted complaints. I'm not surprised that we have some wingnuts in our midst. Not in the least. Hell, there's a couple down that have matching "Sarah Palin 2012" stickers on their cars already. If that's not scary stupid, I don't know what is.

Still, I was curious about our local teabaggers so I checked them out in the Google and found a Meet-Up site where some of them could be found. There's a message board. There are practical discussions about logistics of their events and stuff like that, but keep going and the crazy rears its head. My favorite was a birther post about an April Fool's joke that they ate up like it was dipped in chocolate. They may live in the area, but they haven't moved into the reality based community.

Speaking of which, where's our daily Cheney? I haven't heard anything new from him for two days now. Have I just missed it?

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Let's Keep Not Investigating Torture

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld shares a ...Image via Wikipedia

I have to say that for something that's not being pursued we're getting a lot of new information about the previous administration's actions regarding torture every day. I hope we keep not investigating the whole thing and I certainly hope that the Cheney Family Torture Tour keep doing what they've been doing so well. We're learning a lot more than the details of the Cheney/Bush administrations adventures in " enhanced interrogation".

We might well be learning the why and the who of it. And we're getting daily confirmation that Cheney really was running the show for a long time. And apparently thinks he still is, but hey, don't tell him yet. He's on a pace to move popular opinion firmly to the side of prosecution for war crimes within a few more weeks. That can only help.

So, let's see more of this inaction. It's working pretty well so far.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Secession is Busting Out All Over

NASA Landsat satellite image of Long Island an...Image via Wikipedia

It seems here in Suffolk County, NY, we're really mad and we're going to talk about not taking it anymore. It all has to do with some taxes that are being levied on us to bail out the MTA (Metropolitan Transit Authority). And maybe we send Albany 3 million dollars more a year than we get back, which is entirely possible. So some lawmakers want to have a task force to study secession. This happens periodically. Sometimes it's all of Long Island that wants to secede. Sometimes the East End of Long Island wants to secede from Suffolk County. This year it's just Suffolk wanting out of New York State. Given the regularity with which this kind of sentiment appears I'm not too concerned that anything is going to come of it, other than possibly having to pay to fund a study. It did start me thinking about what secession from a state would entail. Quite a lot, I'd think. Just a few off the top of my head:

  • Stationery, business cards, changes to websites and everything else for every business and government office in Suffolk.
  • License plates. I hope we could at least have pretty ones, like Arizona, for instance.
  • Speaking of license plates, we'll be needing a prison system. We have a county jail. That's suitable for people awaiting trial and maybe people in trouble for not paying child support. If a person if convicted of a serious felony they go "upstate", now. Won't have that option.
  • We have to work out what happens to state property, like the state parkways and the state parks. We have some nice state parks.
  • Counties? We'd be very small. I wonder if Rhode Island has counties.
  • Updated court system. Right now we have things like State Supreme Court.
  • Marriage. We register marriage by town, but we get married "by the power vested in me by the State of New York".
  • Motto, bird, flower, seal
  • Insurance regulations
  • Every single state government function. I think there are a lot of those.
OK, that was just a partial list because I'm too sleepy to keep typing. I just wonder how long it would take to see a return on our investment if we decide to go ahead and secede. I'm betting that could take a while.

Morning addenda:
  • Oh, and the state university system. That's going to be awkward. Just for starters we have a large state university here, complete with a medical school and a big hospital. I think the state will want that back. And then there's the fact that residents have access to a whole lot of state universities and colleges at lower costs than they'd pay if they lived out of state. How we gonna replace that?
  • Health care for lower income people. It's not all medicare and medicaid, folks. We have two state administered plans for health insurance for some of the people that would otherwise be uninsured. One is free and one is lower cost than the same policy would cost on the free market. Are we going to replace that? Just wondering.
It seems like there might be a lot of reasons why this idea never goes anywhere. But I guess we have to vent.

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Democrat Socialist Checking In

All I can say about this is it that I guess maybe if they wanted to follow suit the Democrats could introduce a resolution to rename the Republicans the Poopy Head Party. Then the Republicans could counter with the I'm Rubber, You're Glue resolution. The Democrats would then have to answer with the Oh Yeah, Well Nobody Likes You measure which the Republicans would be hard put to answer.

And people say that the GOP has no ideas...

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Evening Pundits on Wanda

WASHINGTON - MAY 9:  President Barack Obama an...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

The evening returns are in.

Chris Matthews thinks Wanda Sykes thinks wishing kidney failure on Rush Limbaugh was over the top. This is not a surprise. Tweety had to have been a weeny in Catholic school.

Keith Olbermann also thinks she went over the top, not caring for the suggestion that Rushbo was supposed to be the 20th hijacker. You can't bring 911 into a joke. Well, most people shouldn't try it, but Sykes has special comedic abilities. I'm not sure that Olbermann really meant that bit of censure or just feels like it was the fair and balanced thing to say.

Ed Schultz thought she was wonderful. I'm with Ed.

John Stewart is doing a pretty good piece on it right now.

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Saturday, May 9, 2009

Happy Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day to all you mothers out there. I thought I’d  meditate on my mom a little bit. I think I’ve posted all this before in other places, but it’s what I’m thinking about this Mother’s Day, so there you go. I’ve posted this photo before, too, but I love to remember the time this was taken. We went down to Ocean City, NJ, where we met up with a bunch of friends and went to see Arlo at the Music Pier there and hung out around the boardwalk for a couple of days. I don’t remember exactly what year it was, but I do know it was the last big thing we did together and I’m so glad she decided to come along on that trip. When she was feeling like herself she was up for anything. Actually, one of the things that made her last year or so so hard was that she believed she was still up for anything but it was simply no longer true.


Mom died at the age of 85 – which is fantastic for her side of the family – in 2006.  I can tell you exactly what day she started her decline into dementia. It was Election Night, 2004. We had to call 911 and spent much of the night at the ER as she had the first and most likely the worst of a whole lot of mini-strokes which first took her short term memory and then took away more and more brain functions, including some that keep you alive. That Election Night is what did it.  God, she hated Bush. Every time she regained consciousness she asked about the Election and insisted that it could be a mistake and we could all wake up and found that Kerry had actually won.

How I wish she could have held on at least until the Democrats took Congress in 2006. And if she could have voted for Obama and seen him elected, well, she could have gone with the feeling that the world had made some progress after all, instead of going downhill and backwards with astonishing speed. It would have made her truly happy. Anyway, I miss her. I don’t think that you ever really get over missing people that are gone. I think you just learn to co-exist with the inevitable losses that life brings.

The Not Necessarily Final Frontier

Star Trek 2009 - new cast collage

Image by Las Valley 702 via Flickr

We went to see the new Star Trek movie tonight. If you have the least little bit of trekkie in you, you should see it. Whether it stands up entirely on its own, I couldn’t really say. I do know that the audience applauded at the end, and no one was in costume. Not even a set of Vulcan ears that I noticed.

There was a plot. It involved  timeline confusion and a lot of disaster of apocalyptic proportions and lots and lots of heroism. The usual stuff. I was pretty impressed with the visuals, but I would guess that fantastic effects are par for the course with today’s technology. The acting was just fine all around. Zachary Quinto did a bang-up job of evolving from not quite Spock to a damned good Spock as as the film went on. Chris Pine – hotter than William Shatner ever was. I’m just saying. Don’t get me wrong. I loved Shatner as Kirk and I like him as the Priceline guy today, but I never really got what the big intergalactic attraction was. It was Spock who was the real sex god in the original series. In this movie, when you find a green girl wrapped around Kirk it’s much easier to see why. This guy would appeal to any species, I’m sure. 

What really impressed me most were the costume designers and the make-up artists. They should win something for blending the Sixties vibe and a futuristic look so successfully. The men were relatively simple. They mostly wore original series Star Fleet threads, although in his pre-Star Fleet days they did a James Dean thing with Kirk that definitely worked.  What was kind of amazing is how they managed to modernize the women’s looks while keeping them in the absurd miniskirts and make-up – including Cleopatra eyeliner and false eyelashes – that they wore in the original series.  They toned it all down and sleeked it all up and it worked, assuming that you’re suspending disbelief anyway. Even the hair was just right. Kind of sixties, but nothing bouffant. A triumph of art and science.

The film cries out for a sequel. Or…what would you call a sequel to the prequel? I don’t know. But I’d go to see it.

ADDENDUM: How could I forget to mention the Romulans. They looked fabulous. These Romulans didn’t just look like Vulcans only less so. They had their own outlaw villain thing going on. Tattooed heads, black duster looking garments and their own special ears. Very effective.

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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Happy Birthday, Chanel

Just wanted to say Happy 21st to our local celebrity.

Happy Birthday, Chanel. Hope you’re enjoying all all the buzz. You definitely prove that it’s never too late to be a star.

Next to Leave?


Well, there are some rumors. Elephants have been heard to trumpet their discomfort with the message of the Grumpy Old Party. Frankly, they’re embarrassed at this point. The Republican Party of today no longer reflects pachyderm culture, values, nor their interests, which run to environmentalism and wildlife preservation and refuge. Would it really be a surprise if they decided to end their relationship with the Republican Party?

P. S. - Also, too, they're endangered enough on their own. They shouldn't have to worry about two kinds of extinction at once.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

There Will Be No Listening - per Rush

New Kids On The Block - Greatest Hits album coverImage via Wikipedia

The Old Kids on the Block wanted to listen to you. Well, some of you. Mostly just the ones who had thoughts about rebranding the cool new version of the GOP. Not so much anyone who was looking for more substantive changes. So Eric, Jeb, John and Mittens started this listening tour.

Even that is too much for Rush Limbaugh to allow. After all, why would Boss Rush want anyone to listen to anyone but him? Soooo - now it's a "La-la-la, I can't hear you!" tour. Doesn't make much difference. The Republican party is not currently inclined to learn anything by listening to regular people.

It's kind of interesting. Today's Republicans seem to be very hierarchical. They certainly don't listen to anyone below them - like voters, for instance. But they do seem to love being led around by the nose by anyone who can pass as the Alpha Male. Right now that's Rush Limbaugh, in the absence of any serious leadership, I suppose. Maybe they got used to be slapped around by Dick Cheney for eight years and decided they enjoyed the abuse.

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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

We Can Haz Cheezburger

But not without carping from the right, of course!

Specter Working On Remembering Which Team He's On - or Whoops!

Arlen Specter, member of the United States Sen...Image via Wikipedia

Arlen Specter either kind of forgot which party he was in or else he just remembered he wants to be the Democratic candidate for his seat next year. So when he said, "There’s still time for the Minnesota courts to do justice and declare Norm Coleman the winner." he was just a little confused and now he's sort of taken it back.

Good thinking, Arlen. After all, he could have just stayed where he was if he was interested in losing the primary, right? Maybe he'll rethink some of his positions, too, or is that too much to hope for?

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Monday, May 4, 2009

Outliving the Bastards

Bruce and Pete at 2009 Inauguration

Image by earmuffboy via Flickr

I was going to write something about Pete Seeger’s 90th birthday, even though I was sadly absent from the concert but got kind of absorbed in the situation described iin the post below. Now the first thing in the morning there’s this interesting take on the show on TPM.  It’s about how the audience cheered every time the President’s name was mentioned and that there was a letter from President Obama, saluting Pete. And it’s about how unusual this kind of thing is at a concert, let alone a leftie concert.

Best of all was this:

Springsteen said that he never saw Seeger more happy than at Obama's inauguration, noting that Seeger saw Obama's ascendancy as proof that he, Seeger, had "outlived the bastards."

My favorite place to see Pete Seeger is right near New York City because the old commies come. And I mean old. You can tell who they are because they fly their old style commie flag high in the form of headgear.  Fiddler’s caps for the men and berets for the women. And they’re about a hundred years old and have been going to see Pete for many decades, since he performed with Woody Guthrie and so many others. They come out for Arlo, too, if he’s right in the city. And now they get to feel they’ve outlived the bastards. They deserve it. May it be true.

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Sunday, May 3, 2009

Weird Condition r Us

ripVanWinkle We’ve been spending the evening trying to diagnose Mr. Yenta, and by “we” I mean my sister and me. Mr. Yenta is asleep, and is likely to stay that way for some time. That’s the problem.  As I’ve mentioned before, Mr. Yenta has a number of things wrong with him. Physical things, I mean. This is not a critique of a husband. There’s Type I Diabetes with related complications including an unusually bad case of neuropathy. To complicate matters he lost a kidney to cancer and has phlebitis. Naturally this all involves a lot of different medications and getting to the cause of something new can be complicated. Which is why we’re working on the diagnosis ourselves. Doctors have done tests and not found anything that explains it yet. But he sleeps. And when I say sleeps I mean he sleeps deeply for a couple of days at a time. Sometimes more. He gets up only to answer nature’s call and when I wake him for meals. In between these bouts he’s reasonably energetic, busy and – well – normal. But this episodes have been getting more frequent and lasting longer since right after the holidays. They usually come right before or after a painful bout of neuropathy, so I’m assuming it’s related, but since it can be before or after it’s probably a little complicated.

This is completely contrary to his normal nature. He’s been an early riser since we’ve been married. Sure he might take an afternoon nap or fall asleep earlier than he plans in the evening, but this is a whole different thing. The closest we’ve really come is finding a rare syndrome that normally affects adolescent boys.  Of course we have to go back to the doctor and probably get a new referral to a neurologist for this, but being sure he’ll be awake to keep an appointment is a challenge. I mean, once this takes hold, he cannot be moved.

So that’s a lot of what’s been keeping us busy of late. Sleeping.