For what it’s worth, 11/06/15

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It’s War on Christmas time again! And just in time for the holidays!

See those red cups up there? Where are the snowflakes? Where are the reindeer? Where are the sleds? Where’s Santa, fer chrissakes?!?!?!?!

I’m telling you, Starbucks really hates the Baby Jesus. Continue reading

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Worth reading II, 07/03/13

Wendy Davis

Wendy Davis shouldn’t be sainted for her filibuster (Kathleen Parker in the Washington Post)

I like Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis. I admire her intelligence, chutzpah and tenacity.

But her elevation to national heroine, essentially owing to her ability to speak for 11 hours straight without a break while wearing (how many times did we hear or read it?) “rouge-red sneakers,” is absurd….

… when the question of whether we should destroy human life at any stage is reduced to theater, leaving many journalists gushing like breathless red-carpet commentators, we have lost more than a sense of decorum.

One may agree with Davis’s principled stand on the Texas bill, which, she argued, tried to do too much. Even so, a little less glee from the bleachers would seem more appropriate to the moment.

This is one helluva read, regardless of where you stand on abortion. Now read it.

Worth reading, 07/03/13

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Congressman: ‘An AR-15 Muzzle Flash Is the New Torch of Liberty’ (US News & World Report)

Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas, is offering the opportunity to grab a free AR-15 “before Obama does.” The winner of the freshman congressman’s semiautomatic sweepstakes will be selected July 4.

 A Tuesday email circulated by Stockman’s campaign organization urged readers to promptly register for the raffle before midnight Wednesday, warning that President Barack Obama plans to rescind the Second Amendment.

“An AR-15 muzzle flash is the new torch of liberty,” the email attributed to Stockman says. “It’s your chance to drive Obama crazy and light a fire for liberty with every trigger pull.”

Just so we’re clear, that’s a U.S. congressman saying that. And for good measure, he adds:

“Obama would love to grab my Bushmaster AR-15 and have it cut into pieces, along with every other gun in America. Well, I won’t let it happen,” Stockman says. “I want to give my Bushmaster AR-15 to you.”

I’m thinking Stockman and Louis Gohmert are neck-and-neck now in the race to replace Michele Bachmann as the Queen of Crazy. (Did I just call Stockman and Gohmert “queens”? Are the teabaggers gonna go all Alec Baldwin on me?)

But seriously . . . How nuts does a congressman have to be to appeal to his base? This is disgraceful.

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I spotted this photo circulating on Facebook. There isn’t a whole lot I can add to this:

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And then there’s this:

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Atlanta Journal-Constitution Publishes Jewish ‘Slur’ In Crossword Puzzle… (Mediaite)

The answer to 32 Down is “JEW.”

And nobody caught this?

Worth reading, 07/02/13

Living With Fire (Alan Dean Foster in the New York Times)

I live in Prescott, Ariz., where a wildfire called the Doce fire is now almost completely contained, after burning 6,767 tinder-dry acres. It started two weeks ago, six miles or so from the house where my wife and I have lived for more than 30 years.

We live in the bottom of a small canyon, and it took a moment for me to realize that the smoke I was seeing from the study window was all wrong. Distant fires, which we are used to, score the blue sky with a thin haze, like a watercolorist’s brown wash. But this cloud was massive, a darker brown, moving too fast, and flush with orange.

I drove to the top of the highest hill behind our house and as I swung around the crest, between homes with neat desert landscaping, a view opened before me that bordered on the apocalyptic. Someone had switched the channel of my life.

This is a riveting op-ed, wonderfully written. A poignant tribute to the 19 heroes who died in Yarnell. And an explanation why, despite the obvious risks, we choose to live in dangerous places.

Be sure to read this one.

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Kirsten Powers: I Don’t Stand With Wendy Davis (Daily Beast)

So no, I don’t stand with Wendy. Nor do most women, as it turns out. According to aJune National Journal poll, 50 percent of women support, and 43 percent oppose, a ban on abortion after 20 weeks, except in cases of rape and incest….

Human-rights movements have traditionally existed to help the voiceless and those without agency gain progressively more rights. Yet in the case of abortion, the voiceless have progressively lost rights at the hands of people who claim to be human-rights crusaders. Abortion-rights leaders have turned the world upside down. They want us to believe that a grown woman is voiceless, that she has less agency than the infant in her womb who relies on her for life. A woman has so little agency, we are told, that she is incapable of getting an abortion before the fifth month of her pregnancy. To suggest she should do so is a “war on women.” It’s an insult to women dressed up as “women’s rights.”

A very compelling piece on the anti-abortion bill in Texas. This is not an endorsement by any means, but it’s important at least to understand both sides of an argument. Be sure to read this.

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What if Hillary Clinton passes on 2016? (Politico)

For Democrats, there is no fallback: It’s Hillary Clinton or probably a long bout of depression ahead of 2016.

With expectations hitting a fever pitch three-and-a-half years out that Clinton is running for president again, every move she makes – a video endorsing gay marriage, a coy line about supporting a woman president – moves the excitement a notch higher. So too do endorsements from former critics – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, among others….

[T]here is no obvious replacement. And the party would be looking at a mad scramble to fill the Clinton void.

“We would be at sea in a lifeboat with no food, no water, and no land in sight,” said one veteran Democratic operative who has worked on presidential campaigns, and who, like most people interviewed for this story, asked for anonymity to speak candidly about the former first lady. “There is no Plan B.”

It seems absurd that with more than three years to go before the 2016 election, it’s already come down to Hillary or Omigod What Now? for President. But there you have it.

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Statement from Edward Snowden in Moscow (WikiLeaks)

One week ago I left Hong Kong after it became clear that my freedom and safety were under threat for revealing the truth. My continued liberty has been owed to the efforts of friends new and old, family, and others who I have never met and probably never will. I trusted them with my life and they returned that trust with a faith in me for which I will always be thankful.

On Thursday, President Obama declared before the world that he would not permit any diplomatic “wheeling and dealing” over my case. Yet now it is being reported that after promising not to do so, the President ordered his Vice President to pressure the leaders of nations from which I have requested protection to deny my asylum petitions.

This kind of deception from a world leader is not justice, and neither is the extralegal penalty of exile. These are the old, bad tools of political aggression. Their purpose is to frighten, not me, but those who would come after me.

For decades the United States of America has been one of the strongest defenders of the human right to seek asylum. Sadly, this right, laid out and voted for by the U.S. in Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, is now being rejected by the current government of my country. The Obama administration has now adopted the strategy of using citizenship as a weapon. Although I am convicted of nothing, it has unilaterally revoked my passport, leaving me a stateless person. Without any judicial order, the administration now seeks to stop me exercising a basic right. A right that belongs to everybody. The right to seek asylum.

In the end the Obama administration is not afraid of whistleblowers like me, Bradley Manning or Thomas Drake. We are stateless, imprisoned, or powerless. No, the Obama administration is afraid of you. It is afraid of an informed, angry public demanding the constitutional government it was promised — and it should be.

I am unbowed in my convictions and impressed at the efforts taken by so many.

Edward Joseph Snowden

Monday 1st July 2013

Is he right? You decide. I can see both sides of this argument, and my mind is not made up.

I’ll say this much: He’s clearly 30. In many ways, I miss the days when my focus was so narrow.

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AltaVista. What’s That? (New York Times)

AltaVista, once the most advanced and comprehensive search engine on the Web, is just days away from its last breath.

Yes, like you, I thought AltaVista had been extinguished years ago, but apparently not.

A search engine bites the dust. Just 20 years ago, we would have asked, “What’s a search engine?”

Worth reading, 06/21/13

My Abortion, at 23 Weeks (op-ed by Judy Nicastro in the New York Times)

KIRKLAND, Wash. — I BELIEVE that parenthood starts before conception, at the moment you decide you want a child, and are ready and able to create a safe and loving home for her or him. I support abortion rights, but I reject the false distinction between the terms “pro-choice” and “pro-life.” Here’s why.

This is a very compelling argument against limiting abortion to the first 20 weeks, or the first trimester, or to whatever the next set of restrictive laws will try to achieve. Nicastro, carrying twins, learned in her 23rd week of pregnancy that one of the fetuses had a hole in his diaphragm.

Only one lung chamber had formed, and it was only 20 percent complete. If our boy survived birth, he would be on oxygen and other life supports for a long time. The thought of hearing him gasp for air and linger in pain was our nightmare.

Anti-abortionists say abortion is murder, period, end of conversation. (Though they often permit exceptions for rape and incest, which I think is inconsistent with their doctrine. The fetus is not responsible for the conditions of its creation. If abortion is murder, isn’t it also murder to abort a fetus that results from incest or rape?)

I say the writer made the right decision, however painful. Aborting a fetus in this sort of condition at 23 weeks is much more merciful and compassionate than condemning it to a short lifetime of constant agony once it’s born.

Read the op-ed. You decide.

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Seen on Facebook:

(h/t Lori Day)

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Men Over 40 Should Think Twice Before Running Triathlons (Bloomberg)

(h/t Mike Regan)

For men competing in triathlons past the age of 40, the grueling slog to the finish line could be their last.

As the average age of competitors in endurance sports rises, a spate of deaths during races or intense workouts highlights the risks of excessive strain on the heart through vigorous exercise in middle age.

OK, I’m convinced. No more triathlons for me.

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Solstice in Times Square: Athleta Mind Over Madness Yoga

(h/t Josh Miller)

Anyone can find tranquility on top of a mountain.
Can you find it in the middle of Times Square?

Find tranquility and transcendence in the midst of the world’s most commercial, frenetic and urban place, Times Square. Thousands of yoga enthusiasts will come together for a collective ohm on the longest day of the year (June 21st) to participate in an all day yoga festival.

Celebrate the sun, summer and creativity at the Crossroads of the World with five free outdoor yoga classes. Participants will receive a Solstice gift bag* and Athleta will provide free yoga mats* to the first 1,200 that arrive to each class.

Oh, I’m just dying to be one of a few thousand fools practicing yoga in Times Square. Sun salutation, anyone?

On the other hand, it’s so hard to pass up a free Solstice gift bag.

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New Jersey Bans Trash-Talking in High School Sports (nbcnewyork.com)

New Jersey high school athletes who talk trash could find their teams penalized and themselves under investigation by state officials.

In announcing the new policy, the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association and the state Attorney General’s Office said it brings athletic events into line with the state’s anti-bullying law for schools.

According to the policy, sports participants could be in trouble and under investigation by the state Civil Rights Division if they make harassing statements related to gender, race, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation or religion.

There once was a baseball player named Dummy Hoy. These days, you could never call him Dummy (not that he could hear you if you did). I guess it’s a good thing that we’re going to ban trash-talking. But the world sure has changed, hasn’t it?

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In Ali’s Voice From the Past, a Stand for the Ages (William C. Rhoden in the New York Times)

I woke up Thursday morning and heard a familiar voice that I thought was part of a dream: Muhammad Ali was discussing why he had refused to be inducted into the Army….

I have stopped using the word hero to describe greatness.

In an era of unimaginable intrusions into our private lives, the would-be hero walks on a rug that can be snatched away at a moment’s notice. Better to talk about someone’s heroic moment or performing a heroic act.

Muhammad Ali is a great man. What he did 46 years was a heroic deed for the ages.

Each generation has its own method of protest and resistance. Listening to Ali on Thursday morning was a reminder that courage, honor and integrity are timeless.

Excellent piece. Don’t miss this one.

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Checking Out (Timothy Egan in the New York Times)

[T]he main factor in workplace discontent is not wages, benefits or hours, but the boss. Yes, that cretin from Kentucky Fried Chicken, in countless forms. The survey said there was consistent anger at management types who failed to so much as ask employees about their opinion of the job. Ever….

What the Gallup survey makes clear is that the easiest way to make life better in the workplace is the simplest: all those unctuous, self-important, clueless bosses out there could notice the toiling subordinate who’s been taking up space for many years. Fake it, if you have to, just to see what it feels like.

If you’ve ever had an abusive boss, you need to read this. If you’re a boss, you need to read this even more.