December 31, 2012

Its a whole 'nother year

Make it worthwhile...



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Making a difference

All of the blogs, e-zines, television news and discussion forums are recapping the notable deaths of this past year. Almost all of these seem to be focusing on sports and entertainment celebrities. I thought I'd do a little obit piece for the also-rans... the people who died this year who made a difference that will last longer than the celluloid... most of whom you've never heard of.



Arfa Karim Randhawa, world’s youngest Microsoft certified professional, died at age 16 in January from respiratory arrest resulting from an epileptic seizure. This Pakistani girl was a young computer genius who became the world’s youngest Microsoft Certified Professional at age 9. Bill Gates was so impressed with her smarts that he invited her to visit Microsoft’s U.S. headquarters in 2004. Among her words of wisdom spoken to reporter Todd Bishop: “If you want to do something big in your life, you must remember that shyness is only the mind. If you think shy, you act shy. If you think confident you act confident. Therefore never let shyness conquer your mind.”


F. Sherwood Rowland, Chemist, died at 84 in March. Rowland was groundbreaking researcher who was recognized by the 1995 Nobel Prize in chemistry. In 1974 he and his team discovered that chlorinated fluorocarbons, or CFCs, were damaging the ozone layer. The findings were met with skepticism by the scientific community. Rowland did not shrink from speaking out on the potentially catastrophic consequences of ozone depletion, and he strongly advised politicians and activists to push for a ban on CFCs. Today's discussions of climate change could use more voices like his.


Jack Tramiel died at 83 in April. Tramiel founded Commodore International and in 1982 released the Commodore 64. The little home computer became one of the most popular of all time, selling nearly 17 million units between 1982 and 1994. Born 1928 to a Jewish family in Lodz, Poland, he survived Auschwitz concentration camp and in 1947 emigrated to the U.S. Tramiel claimed that after surviving the Holocaust he could survive just about anything. He purchased chip manufacturer MOS Technology and Atari Corp. from Time Warner Communications.


Sam Porcello was the food scientist who died at 76 in May. Known as “Mr. Oreo,” the 34-year Nabisco veteran held five patents directly related to the Oreo, with the most famous being for the crème filling. As a member of the Nabisco R&D team he was really considered an expert on cocoa, but Porcello also created healthy snacks, including Snackwells products.



Sally Ride, Ph.D., Educator, Astronaut and Physicist died July 23, 2012 at the age of 61, following a 17-month battle with pancreatic cancer. beat out 1,000 other applicants for a spot in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) astronaut program. She went through the program’s rigorous training program and got her chance to go into space and the record books in 1983. After NASA, Sally Ride became the director of the California Space Institute at the University of California, San Diego, as well as a professor of physics at the school in 1989. In 2001, she started her own company to create educational programs and products known as Sally Ride Science to help inspire girls and young women to pursue their interests in science and math. 

Ride received many honors, including the NASA Space Flight Medal and the NCAA’s Theodore Roosevelt Award. She was also inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame and the Astronaut Hall of Fame. Although Sally Ride never publicly stated that she was a lesbian, her official obituary states she was in a 27-year relationship with Dr. Tam O’Shaughnessy, a woman. She will always be remembered as a pioneering astronaut who went where no other woman had gone before.



Robert Ledley, the inventor of the full-body CT scanner, died at age 86 in July. Ledley’s first career was as a dentist, but later became a biomedical researcher. He is credited as a pioneer in the use of computers in the healthcare field. Ledley founded the nonprofit National Biomedical Research Foundation in 1960 to promote the use of computers in biomedicine. His work was recognized with introduction into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1990 and with a National Medal of Technology in 1997.



William Moggridge died in September at age 69. In the late 1970s while with a company called Grid Systems Moggridge came up with the clamshell design used for laptop computers. The $8K, 12-pound device, quite portable for its time, gained prominence through NASA and military use. One of Moggridge’s claims to fame was coining the term “interaction design,” referring to the common sense idea that software and hardware should fit people’s needs. “If there’s a simple, easy principle that binds everything together, it’s probably about starting with the people.”



Norman “Joe” Woodland created the bar code (along with Bernard “Bob” Silver) while at Drexel University. He died in December at age 91.  He used his knowledge of Morse Code to come up with a technology that is used five billion times every day. In 1992, Woodland received the National Medal of Technology, and in a more modern tribute to Woodland and Silver’s work, Google introduced a Google Doodle atop its search page in 2009 recognizing the 57th anniversary of the patent.



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December 30, 2012

Sunday Funnies














More Funnies BELOW THE FOLD

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December 28, 2012

In the news



A Kentucky man is in hot water after displaying a racist display of President Obama on his front lawn.
According to a local NBC affiliate, Dan Hafley of Casey County has displayed a mannequin of President Obama holding a piece of watermelon in front of his home. While interviewed by the local news, Hafley says that the mannequin was meant to be a "joke" and that it was simply free speech.
"The way I look at it, it's freedom of speech...I don't know how other people will take it."
Hafley continued to joke about the display, noting that many people even stop to take pictures.
"That's my buddy. He don't talk. Don't make no smart comments. If I had a dollar for everyone who stopped and took a picture of it I'd be a millionaire."
While Hafley laughs at his racist attempt at humor, not everyone thinks that the display is so humorous. A local neighbor voiced his displeasure, noting that African-Americans could be offended by viewing the display.
"We don't have black people in this community but I'm sure they travel this road like everybody else does. They could be offended. I don't agree with it."
This isn't the first time someone has put up a racist anti-Obama display. Earlier this year in New Jersey, the owner of a men's clothing store depicted President Obama as a witch doctor on his store window.
HT via www.lex18.com
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December 25, 2012

For your xmas entertainment...

Posted without comment


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Axial tilt...

Its the reason for the season.

Mule Breath wishes the world a happy solstice celebration... regardless of the tradition to which you adhere or the ritual you wish to follow...

...and a satisfying, productive new year!


Jethro Tull - a live performance from 1977
Taken from the then just-released album
Songs from the Wood

Ring Out The Solstice Bells

Now is the solstice of the year,
Winter is the glad song that you hear.
Seven maids move in seven time.
Have the lads up ready in a line.
Ring out these bells.
Ring out, ring solstice bells.
Ring solstice bells.

 Join together beneath the mistletoe.
By the holy oak whereon it grows.
Seven druids dance in seven time.
Sing the song the bells call, loudly chiming.
 Ring out these bells.
Ring out, ring solstice bells.
Ring solstice bells.

 Praise be to the distant sister sun,
Joyful as the silver planets run.
Seven maids move in seven time.
Sing the song the bells call,
loudly chiming. Ring out those bells.
Ring out, ring solstice bells.
Ring solstice bells.
Ring on, ring out.
Ring on, ring out.



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December 24, 2012

A video tribute to Carl Sagan

A Universe Not Made For Us is the first of a 26-part series dedicated to the life and works of Carl Sagan.

   

A Universe Not Made for Us
Video by Callum Sutherland

“     Our ancestors understood origins by extrapolating from their own experience. How else could they have done it? So the Universe was hatched from a cosmic egg, or conceived in the sexual congress of a mother god and a father god, or was a kind of product of the Creator’s workshop—perhaps the latest of many flawed attempts. And the Universe was not much bigger than we see, and not much older than our written or oral records, and nowhere very different from places that we know.

We’ve tended in our cosmologies to make things familiar. Despite all our best efforts, we’ve not been very inventive. In the West, Heaven is placid and fluffy, and Hell is like the inside of a volcano. In many stories, both realms are governed by dominance hierarchies headed by gods or devils. Monotheists talked about the king of kings. In every culture we imagined something like our own political system running the Universe. Few found the similarity suspicious.

Then science came along and taught us that we are not the measure of all things, that there are wonders unimagined, that the Universe is not obliged to conform to what we consider comfortable or plausible. We have learned something about the idiosyncratic nature of our common sense. Science has carried human self-consciousness to a higher level. This is surely a rite of passage, a step towards maturity. It contrasts starkly with the childishness and narcissism of our pre-Copernican notions.

And, again, if we’re not important, not central, not the apple of God’s eye, what is implied for our theologically based moral codes? The discovery of our true bearings in the Cosmos was resisted for so long and to such a degree that many traces of the debate remain, sometimes with the motives of the geocentrists laid bare.

What do we really want from philosophy and religion? Palliatives? Therapy? Comfort? Do we want reassuring fables or an understanding of our actual circumstances? Dismay that the Universe does not conform to our preferences seems childish. You might think that grown-ups would be ashamed to put such disappointments into print. The fashionable way of doing this is not to blame the Universe—which seems truly pointless—but rather to blame the means by which we know the Universe, namely science.

Science has taught us that, because we have a talent for deceiving ourselves, subjectivity may not freely reign.

Its conclusions derive from the interrogation of Nature, and are not in all cases predesigned to satisfy our wants.

We recognize that even revered religious leaders, the products of their time as we are of ours, may have made mistakes. Religions contradict one another on small matters, such as whether we should put on a hat or take one off on entering a house of worship, or whether we should eat beef and eschew pork or the other way around, all the way to the most central issues, such as whether there are no gods, one God, or many gods.

If you lived two or three millennia ago, there was no shame in holding that the Universe was made for us. It was an appealing thesis consistent with everything we knew; it was what the most learned among us taught without qualification. But we have found out much since then. Defending such a position today amounts to willful disregard of the evidence, and a flight from self-knowledge.

We long to be here for a purpose, even though, despite much self-deception, none is evident.

Our time is burdened under the cumulative weight of successive debunkings of our conceits: We’re Johnny-come-latelies. We live in the cosmic boondocks. We emerged from microbes and muck. Apes are our cousins. Our thoughts and feelings are not fully under our own control. There may be much smarter and very different beings elsewhere. And on top of all this, we’re making a mess of our planet and becoming a danger to ourselves.

The trapdoor beneath our feet swings open. We find ourselves in bottomless free fall. We are lost in a great darkness, and there’s no one to send out a search party. Given so harsh a reality, of course we’re tempted to shut our eyes and pretend that we’re safe and snug at home, that the fall is only a bad dream.

Once we overcome our fear of being tiny, we find ourselves on the threshold of a vast and awesome Universe that utterly dwarfs—in time, in space, and in potential—the tidy anthropocentric proscenium of our ancestors. We gaze across billions of light-years of space to view the Universe shortly after the Big Bang, and plumb the fine structure of matter. We peer down into the core of our planet, and the blazing interior of our star. We read the genetic language in which is written the diverse skills and propensities of every being on Earth. We uncover hidden chapters in the record of our own origins, and with some anguish better understand our nature and prospects. We invent and refine agriculture, without which almost all of us would starve to death. We create medicines and vaccines that save the lives of billions. We communicate at the speed of light, and whip around the Earth in an hour and a half. We have sent dozens of ships to more than seventy worlds, and four spacecraft to the stars.

To our ancestors there was much in Nature to be afraid of—lightning, storms, earthquakes, volcanos, plagues, drought, long winters. Religions arose in part as attempts to propitiate and control, if not much to understand, the disorderly aspect of Nature.

How much more satisfying had we been placed in a garden custom-made for us, its other occupants put there for us to use as we saw fit. There is a celebrated story in the Western tradition like this, except that not quite everything was there for us. There was one particular tree of which we were not to partake, a tree of knowledge. Knowledge and understanding and wisdom were forbidden to us in this story. We were to be kept ignorant. But we couldn’t help ourselves. We were starving for knowledge—created hungry, you might say. This was the origin of all our troubles. In particular, it is why we no longer live in a garden: We found out too much. So long as we were incurious and obedient, I imagine, we could console ourselves with our importance and centrality, and tell ourselves that we were the reason the Universe was made. As we began to indulge our curiosity, though, to explore, to learn how the Universe really is, we expelled ourselves from Eden. Angels with a flaming sword were set as sentries at the gates of Paradise to bar our return. The gardeners became exiles and wanderers. Occasionally we mourn that lost world, but that, it seems to me, is maudlin and sentimental. We could not happily have remained ignorant forever.

There is in this Universe much of what seems to be design.

But instead, we repeatedly discover that natural processes—collisional selection of worlds, say, or natural selection of gene pools, or even the convection pattern in a pot of boiling water—can extract order out of chaos, and deceive us into deducing purpose where there is none.

The significance of our lives and our fragile planet is then determined only by our own wisdom and courage. We are the custodians of life’s meaning. We long for a Parent to care for us, to forgive us our errors, to save us from our childish mistakes. But knowledge is preferable to ignorance. Better by far to embrace the hard truth than a reassuring fable.

If we crave some cosmic purpose, then let us find ourselves a worthy goal. 
— Carl Sagan (1934–1996)
Astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, and popularizer of science

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December 23, 2012

Sunday Funnies










More funnies BELOW THE FOLD...

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December 22, 2012

Why Westboro Baptist gets away with obnoxious shit

and why... even though they are a bunch of obscene, obnoxious, offensive assholes... that is okay.

The 5-4 Supreme Court case of Rosenberger v. University of Virginia has been cited by those arguing that the government may not impose viewpoint-based restrictions by revoking the tax-exempt status of the Westboro Baptist Church. The case involved the University’s refusal to use the Student Activities Fund (SAF) to pay for a Christian student newspaper, Wide Awake. The University argued that an SAF Guideline prohibited funds going to an activity that “primarily promotes or manifests a particular belie[f] in or about a deity or an ultimate reality.” The District Court ruled for the University, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit disagreed saying that there is a “presumptive violation of the Speech Clause when viewpoint discrimination was invoked to deny third party payment otherwise available.” 

The Court held that “[t]he Guideline invoked to deny SAF support, both in its terms and in its application to these petitioners, is a denial of their right of free speech.” J. O’Connor, wrote in her concurrence, that “[w}hen two bedrock principles so conflict, understandably neither can provide the definitive answer.”

 J. Kennedy, in the opinion of the Court, wrote:
The first danger to liberty lies in granting the State the power to examine publications to determine whether or not they are based on some ultimate idea and if so for the State to classify them. The second, and corollary, danger is to speech from the chilling of individual thought and expression.

 J. Souter, in his dissent, wrote, after noting the publication’s proselytizing: 
Using public funds for the direct subsidization of preaching the word is categorically forbidden under the Establishment Clause, and if the Clause was meant to accomplish nothing else, it was meant to bar this use of public money.

 J. Souter quoted James Madison’s Memorial and Remonstrance, in which Madison opposed “A Bill establishing a provision for Teachers of the Christian Religion,” and wrote:
Who does not see that . . . the same authority which can force a citizen to contribute three pence only of his property for the support of any one establishment, may force him to conform to any other establishment in all cases whatsoever?

J. Thomas points out that Madison’s opposition to the bill that required contribution to religious entities was because the bill singled out those entities for special benefits.

Madison noted that the bill “violates the equality which ought to be the basis of every law.”

 J. Souter notes the inequality, and writes that evenhandedness:
as one element of a permissibly attenuated benefit is, of course, a far cry from evenhandedness as a sufficient condition of constitutionality for direct financial support of religious proselytization, and our cases have unsurprisingly repudiated any such attempt to cut the Establishment Clause down to a mere prohibition against unequal direct aid.
The direct financial aid found in Rosenberger is different from the indirect aid found with tax-exempt entities such as the Westboro Baptist Church. J. Souter’s compelling arguments against direct aid wouldn’t see to apply to the indirect financial aid we find in tax exemption.

Mr. Drumm has this one nailed. We may not like some of the sewage that bubbles up in a cloak of constitutional protection, but we must swallow the desire to deny them that right. If we do not, we disallow ourselves the same protection. 

As abhorrent as I find the Westboro loons, I see no legal remedy that would allow the force of law to silence them that would not come around to bite us all in the butt. 

H/T: David Drumm,  Eugene Volokh, Jonathan Turley.

December 21, 2012

I wondered where Michelle Malkin got her leads...

... and I may have hit the motherlode.

"URGENT UPDATE on Connecticut Shooting

I believe our GOVERNMENT shot those kids and teachers and used Adam Lanza and his family to pull it off. They might have killed two birds with one stone. One: If these men are involved in the LIBOR scandal, they can manipulate their testimony. Two: they get gun control. How very, very clever and efficient of them, right? I hate to say it. I hate to put myself ‘out there’ with this because I KNOW how I will be attacked. But I don’t do this for anyone’s approval. I do it to help the American People."

Following the embedded links and the sidebar blogroll leads to even more bizarre discoveries. 

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December 20, 2012

...on a mote of dust

It was 1990. Carl Sagan had argued mightily to get NASA to turn the Voyager I spacecraft around as it departed planetary confines for the vastness of space. Sagan wanted the camera pointed sunward just long enough to capture an image of our planet from the edge of our solar system.  


Voyager was 3.7 million miles from home. The photo, later titled "The Pale Blue Dot," depicts Earth as a small speck of light suspended in a sunbeam. Sagan wrote about it for a presentation given shortly after the photo was taken... speaking with words that fill the human mind with wonder and with perspective... in typical Sagan fashion. 

"We succeeded in taking that picture, and, if you look at it, you see a dot. That's here... That's home... That's us... 

On it, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever lived, lived out their lives. The aggregate of all our joys and sufferings, thousands of confident religions, ideologies and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilizations, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every hopeful child, every mother and father, every inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every superstar, every supreme leader, every saint and sinner in the history of our species, lived there on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam.

The earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and in triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. 

Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of the dot on scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner of the dot. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. 

Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity... in all this vastness... there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us. 

It's been said that astronomy is a humbling, and I might add, a character-building experience. To my mind, there is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known." 

Four years later, the title of the photograph would be used by Sagan as the main title of his book, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space, and would be used as he traveled the country and the world promoting understanding through the lens of science. The following is an excellent animated video clip in which Sagan's voice can be heard.

 

Two years after the book was published he would succumb to the ravages of pneumonia. Sagan had long suffered from the effects of myelodysplasia, and his death came as no surprise. He died with his beloved wife, Ann Druyan, by his side. 

Sagan's final book, The Demon Haunted World - Science as a Candle in the Dark, was nearing completion at the time of his death. Ann had been by his side helping put his final words to paper. Sagan died before the final chapter was completed. Ann Druyan finished it for  him. Sagan's final tome serves as just another reminder of the massive contributions this man has given humankind. Sagan's remains were buried at Lakeview Cemetery in Ithaca, New York.

-- Carl Sagan, November 9,1934 - December 20, 1996

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December 19, 2012

New Orleans Schools Reject Creationism

No Teacher ‘Shall Teach Any Aspect Of Religious Faith As Science’ 

By Zack Beauchamp on Dec 19, 2012 at 11:49 am

A Louisiana school district voted on Wednesday to ban from its schools any textbooks and school curricula that follows the guidelines of Texas’ extreme, ideological standards. 

Texas approved a hard-right curriculum in 2010 that taught utterly misleading assertions as fact — suggesting, for example, that Senator Joseph McCarthy’s anti-Communist witch hunt had been vindicated and that the Crusades didn’t happen. But Orleans Parish (which covers New Orleans) schools were so worried about the spread of misinformation that it approved explicit rules in protest of Texas’s guidelines, requiring teachers to teach accurate historical and scientific information which wouldn’t necessarily be conveyed under Texas rules: 

“No history textbook shall be approved which has been adjusted in accordance with the State of Texas revisionist guidelines nor shall any science textbook be approved which presents creationism or intelligent design as science or scientific theories…No teacher of any discipline of science shall teach any aspect of religious faith as science or in a science class,” it reads. “No teacher of any discipline of science shall teach creationism or intelligent design in classes designated as science classes.” 

Though Texas cannot legally require the teaching of creationism, Governor Rick Perry (R-TX) has said “we teach both creation and evolution our public schools” as a consequence of his policy choices. 

Two years ago, proposed Texas textbook changes sparked outrage by rewriting history along right-wing lines and minimizing slavery. While not fully successful, the watered-down version still conveyed an entirely skewed vision of history. A recent review of the books, for example, found a consistent pattern of viciously negative portrayals of Muslims and Islam. 

 UPDATE

A state law, the Louisiana Science Education Act, opens the door to teaching creationism in schools. The Orleans County vote was aimed to be a protest against this state law.

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December 16, 2012

Sunday funnies










These are no so funny. Back to the regular funnies

December 14, 2012

Another Etch-a-Sketch


It happens so infrequently that when a Republican says or does something that actually promotes a sensible idea… it can be rather startling. It surprises me whenever one of these modern-day religious right crusaders has anything to say that even remotely promotes a woman’s right to choose, but Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal has done just that. From the WSJ:

“The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists announced its support last month for selling oral contraceptives over the counter without a prescription in the United States. I agree with this opinion, which if embraced by the federal government would take contraception out of the political arena.”

However, In the same WSJ piece, Jindal goes out on a limb in a twisted and tortured effort to deflect the criticism many GOPers have so justly earned. He does so with a demonstrable lie:

“As a conservative Republican, I believe that we have been stupid to let the Democrats demagogue the contraceptives issue and pretend, during debates about health-care insurance, that Republicans are somehow against birth control. It's a disingenuous political argument they make.”

Is that so? A “disingenuous” argument that “they” make…

Does Brother Bobby not think the American people have memories? Does Mr. Jindal not understand that the people can hear what the religious right has been saying… notice how they have behaved once they achieved majority? Does he think we don’t read? Listen to the radio? Watch television? Is he expecting us to have short memories?

That would be a mistake, Mr. Jindal.

Let us recount just a few of the more recent, and memorable bits of evidence that the current crop of Republicans is top-heavy with old, white bible-thumpers who are either ignorant, stupid, truth-impaired or simply dishonest when it comes to equality and the rights of the alternatively plumbed segment of our population.

Let’s see… the garbage got rolling back in the George W. Bush administration. In 2008 we saw John McCain and Sarah Palin, and four years later we find Rick SantorumNewt GingrichRick Perry and the Texas LegislatureMichelle Bachmann… and even Mitt Romney. The only top tier Republican presidential candidates in a dozen years to not get caught up hook, line and sinker in the shove-it-down-your-throat religious dogma of anti-contraception, anti-choice and anti-equality were John McCain… who moderated his stance after initially voting for the Blunt Amendment, and Jon Huntsman… who actually got a nod for his stance by that far-left ezine, Media matters. Huntsman was also the first to exit the field, reemerging as the Libertarian candidate.

But the clown car is far from empty. Recent history provides us with a wealth of Republicans wanting their women barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen. For instance we have the likes of Jon KylScott WalkerTodd AkinRichard MourdockJan Brewer, a dozen Attorneys General, including Colorado’s John Suthers and Nebraska’s Jon Bruning, "Ultrasound" Bob McDonnell, Lovable Louie Gohmert, wannabe congress critter Danny Rehberg,Tea Party hack Tom Smith, all-around hack Rush Limbaugh [You Tube] and a host of others.

  • For the complete review of state level actions in 2011 click here.
  • For summaries of major state-level actions in 2011, click here.
  • For a table showing reproductive health and rights-related provisions enacted in 2011, click here.
  • For the status of state law and policy on key reproductive health and rights issues, click here.

The 2010 Republican takeover of the Congress, many statehouses and governor’s mansions begat the 2011 onslaught of anti-woman and anti-science bills (where Huntsman again stands a fair distance from the rest of the GOP.)

And then of course there was Jindal himself joining in with the rest of the moronic, anti-science Republicans. These actions have nothing at all to do with demagoguery, Mr. Jindal, and everything to do with religious social engineering. Your comments to the contrary speak of a familiar arrogance.

Brother Bobby is Johnny-come-lately to this dog and pony show. Perhaps the former silence was because he was angling for the VP slot on the Romney ticket (Romney would have fared far better) or maybe he is just bright enough to after-the-fact see the writing left on the walls from the 2012 elections. Whatever his reason I’m glad he is willing now to step back from the anti-equality stance of the Republican religionistas and call them out on that which lost for them.

Still, new spots on an old dog don’t go unnoticed. Until the smackdown of the anti-woman, anti-choice agenda, Jindal supported the “love it or Leave it” GOP in lockstep. Because of that he deserves watching. He might be the real-meal-deal, but we’ve already had to suffer one flip flopper. I’m not all that keen on the thought of having to go through that again.

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December 13, 2012

Goodhair back in the clown car

... and Texas women better keep their powder dry. The first bill on Guv. Goodhair's list of "emergencies," with full support from the teabagger section, is another attempt to foist their personal religious beliefs onto the taxpayers. Never let it be said that a teabagger let a little thing like our U.S. Constitution (or ethics) stand in the way of dogma.

"While legislators begin to file legislation during this pre-filing period that began today, they, too, look forward to supporting the flagship Pro-Life bill for the next session: Texas Right to Life’s Pre-born Pain Bill."

I've got a feeling this state is boing to be turning blue a lot quicker even than we'd hoped.

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December 11, 2012

Was the Libertarian darling an Illegal Immigrant?


In 1926 a young woman with the birth name Alisa Rozenbaum immigrated to America from Soviet Russia. In order for Alisa to obtain a passport and the tourist visa that she used to travel to America, she had to resort to illegal means. She had to become a criminal. Alisa and her family spent years and expended great effort convincing U.S consular officials that she was only visiting America for holiday, and that she would return to Russia so she could marry her fiancé… a fellow Russian citizen.

So what were her crimes? Under American law this young lady perjured herself in sworn statements and interviews. She also made false statements to government officials and deliberately falsified documents. Therefore Alisa’s passport and all visas were obtained illegally and therefore were invalid. She was coming to America as an illegal immigrant, and she knew it. 

Of course it was to her great benefit... a benefit she no doubt understood, that in the 20’s immigrants from Soviet ruled states were seldom prosecuted for whatever criminal actions they had employed while "escaping" the clutches of the communists and migrating to the U.S.

So Alisa entered America in 1926 as what today would be an "illegal immigrant." Some on the right still dispute this fact, but it was was made manifestly true three years later when her tourist visa expired and she remained in country. We know this to be true because we know Alisa’s passport and visa were issued on October 29, 1925, and we know that both had a three year expiration. At that time in our history extensions were just not granted.

Alisa never returned to Russia... never saw her family again. She never planned to. It is of interest to note that some modern day Libertarian cultists insist that Alisa defected. Some insist that she was issued only a 6-month passport. This is proven incorrect by her own statements, both in her testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee and later in series of recorded interviews with biographer Barbara Branden (whose husband Nathaniel later became one of Alisa’s many illicit lovers). It was in these interviews where Alisa unabashedly admits to her immigration violations.

Both her passport and visa expired sometime before October 29, 1928. Because of all of the deception employed to obtain the passport and gain entry into America, Alisa was illegally in this country from the moment she stepped on U.S. soil, but from the day in 1928 when her passport expired until her 1929 marriage to an American citizen, she was doubly so. Alisa proudly admitted that her behavior was criminal. The right wingers know this and still accept her... they idolize her.

Alisa’s misdemeanors world have technically barred an immigrant from achieving citizenship, but marriage to an American opened the path. Laws have changed so that this is not true today. A 21st century Alisa would be jailed and deported, but in 1929 it was a common path to citizenship for old world immigrant girls to find an American sugar-daddy. Alisa was just using the system. It was behavior that would serve her well over the course of her lifetime.

Of course all of this was in the days before this constant din of hateful, anti-immigrant rhetoric… when Americans were still capable of compassion... of conceptual thought... and when minor technicalities like violations of immigration law could be overlooked for the greater good. Today, because of the constant barrage of right wing hate-mongering Americans see immigrants not as a potential resource… but as a threat to be dealt with.

This is so ironic considering the pedestal upon which these same right-wingers have placed the illegal immigrant known as Alisa Rozenbaum.

Today such a story could not be written. It is modern neo-con mantra that illegal immigrants must be boxed up and deported en-mass, and that immigration reform will come only after the borders have been secured. Would be immigrants, even when not trying to enter the country by nefarious means, are viewed somehow as less than human... certainly less than American. U.S. Immigration services and consular officials are not expected to respect the rights of foreign nationals, and indeed are discouraged from such behavior.

Where Alisa met almost no resistance and later became an iconic figure in American political rhetoric, even would-be legal immigrants today could be subjected to years of legal limbo and arbitrary, humiliating subjection to bureaucratic song and dance. Under the systems and attitudes of today our Libertarian friends (and Paul Ryan) would be deprived of one of their most cherished icons.

Alisa (Alice) Rozenbaum… AKA Ayn Rand… would not be welcome in America today.

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December 9, 2012

Sunday Funnies











Funnies continue BELOW THE FOLD...

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