"Joy and pleasure are as real as pain and sorrow and one must learn what they have to teach. . . ." -- Sean Russell, from Gatherer of Clouds

"If you're not having fun, you're not doing it right." -- Helyn D. Goldenberg

"I love you and I'm not afraid." -- Evanescence, "My Last Breath"

“If I hear ‘not allowed’ much oftener,” said Sam, “I’m going to get angry.” -- J.R.R. Tolkien, from Lord of the Rings

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Saturday Science: "It Takes a Village. . ."

to raise a child."

It seems that there is an evolutionary advantage in altruistic behavior, which seems like a no-brainer, but scientists have to be able to point to specifics. And now it looks as though a group of researchers has found something significant:
Until now, many researchers assumed that spontaneous altruistic behavior in primates could be attributed to factors they would share with humans: advanced cognitive skills, large brains, high social tolerance, collective foraging or the presence of pair bonds or other strong social bonds. As Burkart’s new data now reveal, however, none of these factors reliably predicts whether a primate species will be spontaneously altruistic or not. Instead, another factor that sets us humans apart from the great apes appears to be responsible. Says Burkart: “Spontaneous, altruistic behavior is exclusively found among species where the young are not only cared for by the mother, but also other group members such as siblings, fathers, grandmothers, aunts and uncles.” This behavior is referred to technically as the “cooperative breeding” or “allomaternal care.”

I've held the opinion for a while that the "nuclear family" ideal held out by the anti-gay right -- a father, a mother, 2.4 children, and a dog -- is quite recent and goes against the pattern of the real "traditional" family: parents, children, grandparents, maybe a stray aunt or uncle, and the neighbors. Looks like I was right.

And it looks like that pattern has other benefits:
The significance of this study goes beyond identifying the roots of our altruism. Cooperative behavior also favored the evolution of our exceptional cognitive abilities. During development, human children gradually construct their cognitive skills based on extensive selfless social inputs from caring parents and other helpers, and the researchers believe that it is this new mode of caring that also put our ancestors on the road to our cognitive excellence. This study may, therefore, have just identified the foundation for the process that made us human. As Burkart suggests: “When our hominin ancestors began to raise their offspring cooperatively, they laid the foundation for both our altruism and our exceptional cognition.”

That's part of the new drive to "talk to your baby" that I've been seeing around. From the New York Times:
Another idea, however, is creeping into the policy debate: that the key to early learning is talking — specifically, a child’s exposure to language spoken by parents and caretakers from birth to age 3, the more the better. It turns out, evidence is showing, that the much-ridiculed stream of parent-to-child baby talk — Feel Teddy’s nose! It’s so soft! Cars make noise — look, there’s a yellow one! Baby feels hungry? Now Mommy is opening the refrigerator! — is very, very important.

Another no-brainer: the more you interact with your kid, the better the kid's cognitive development. (And let's face it: language skills are a key component of cognitive development -- that's how we interact with the world.)

So now we're starting to understand how it happened.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Housekeeping Note

OK, the "Reviews: Books: BL Manga" page has been reformatted to bring the style into line with the other pages, and the anime listings on that page have been moved to the Film reviews page.

Which will probably be the next page to update.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Homelessness Edition

In our first story, it's the neighbors:

Two non-profits in Vancouver that serve the homeless had been letting about a half dozen people who struggled to get housing stay in the parking lot they shared. But now the organizations are telling them they can’t stay any longer. The homeless people will be evicted on September 2.

“Where are we going to park? We have nowhere to go,” Amanda Snapp, one of the people who has been living in the lot, told The Columbian. “This place is safe. Where can we go?”

Last week, police responded to a complaint from a neighbor and “reminded” the groups that Vancouver has a no-camping ordinance that applies to parks, streets, and other public property. While the lot is private property, letting people live in it could be a nuisance code violation if property is being stored on it or there are other problems.

Yes, it's Vancouver, but it's also just the tip of the iceberg. I was going to post another quote from the article, but read it -- it's a litany of horrors, including petty little ordinances directed at the homeless.

And gods forbid someone should try to call attention to the problem:
[Miley] Cyrus brought Jesse Helt, a homeless 22-year-old, as her date to the MTV Video Music Awards. She’d met Helt at My Friend’s Place, an L.A. center that aids homeless youth in the city. When Cyrus won Video of the Year, she sent Helt up in her stead. He gave a speech about the plight of homeless youth and directed viewers to Cyrus’s Facebook page, where they could learn more about how to help those in need.

Helt had moved to L.A. from Oregon and was trying to pursue a modeling career without a place to live.

Last night, the Associated Press reported that there’s a warrant out for Helt’s arrest in Oregon: he’d been arrested on charges of criminal mischief, criminal trespass and burglary when he was 18 years old. From the AP story, which ran under the headline “Miley Cyrus’ Date Wanted By Oregon Police“[.]

So of course, guess what the press is concentrating on. Hint: It's not the plight of the homeless.

What burns me is that homelessness is a problem that is solvable. It costs less to provide homes than it does to prosecute and jail the homeless. Chicago, I'm pleased to note, does have programs to help the homeless, including what's known as Plan 2.0:

Chicago’s Plan 2.0 is a broad-ranging, seven-year action plan that reaffirms, builds on the core tenets outlined in Chicago’s original Plan to End Homelessness – homeless prevention, housing first, and wraparound services - and identifies new strategies to improve access and opportunity for those most in need. Announced by Mayor Emanuel and key stakeholders in August 2012, Plan 2.0 includes seven strategic priorities that represent the most cutting-edge thinking on preventing and ending homelessness from around the country. Over 500 local stakeholders participated in the planning process, including 150 people who have experienced homelessness themselves.
(Emphasis added.)

I can't address how well the effort is working -- it's a fairly new program, and there's not a lot of data yet -- but here an article from the Chicago Tribune that has a fairly good take on the strategies and how they're paying off.

It's not just the City that's working on it. Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, a non-profit, offers a wide range of resources, including shelters, for homeless youth.

They're not the only ones. I just googled "chicago resources for homeless" and got over 9 million listings. The first three pages are actual resources, then the news stories start getting listed, but the point is, it's not only possible to do something to help the homeless, it's not hard.

We just have to want to.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Now You Know

why the term "pundit" has come to mean "clueless idiot."

Conservative pundit Ben Stein appeared on Newsmax on Tuesday to discuss the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and challenged the use of the term "unarmed" to describe Brown.

Stein was discussing the shooting with host Steve Malzberg and said the use of the term "unarmed" to describe Brown, who was "apparently on marijuana," was akin to "calling Sonny Liston unarmed or Cassius Clay unarmed."

"He wasn't unarmed," Stein said. "He was armed with his incredibly strong, scary self."

That's beyond pathetic. That's grasping for straws that aren't even there.

Point one: Have you ever seen anyone high on marijuana get violent? I haven't, and I've had lots of friends and acquaintances who were stoners. The effect has always been just the opposite. (Full disclosure: I tried it twice. I didn't like it.)

Point two: I've dealt with lots of large, strong people and you know what? If you treat them like regular people, they act like regular people -- unless, of course, they're trying to be assholes to start with, but somehow, a man standing there with his hands up doesn't strike me as very threatening.

Have you noticed a tendency on the right to demonize the victims in these cases? Wonder why.

Today's Belly Laugh

A federal judge in Utah has decided in favor of Kody Brown, a fundamentalist Mormon, and his four "wives" (in quotes because he is not legally married to all of them) against the state of Utah, declaring its statute criminalizing cohabitation unconstitutional.
U.S. District Court Judge Clark Waddoups ruled the phrase in the law “‘or cohabits with another person’ is a violation of the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and is without a rational basis under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.”

This case seems to have a somewhat checkered history:

Last December the same judge first ruled in favor of the cast of the TLC reality show Sister Wives, who sued the state over the portion of the law that criminalizes polygamy-style "religious cohabitation." He later rescinded that ruling only to reinstate it today.

Today's decision reaffirms his original ruling and grants damages to the plaintiffs.

What I find funny about it is -- well, read the statement from Brown's family (emphasis mine):

The entire Brown family is gratified and thankful for this final ruling from Judge Waddoups. The decision brings closure for our family and further reaffirms the right of all families to be free from government abuse. While we know that many people do not approve of plural families, it is our family and based on our religious beliefs. Just as we respect the personal and religious choices of other families, we hope that in time all of our neighbors and fellow citizens will come to respect our own choices as part of this wonderful country of different faiths and beliefs. We hope that Attorney General Reyes will see this as a victory of us all in defending the freedom of religion and other rights in our precious Constitution.

As you might expect the "Christians" of the religious right had fits when the original decision was handed down. They're taking the decision as legalizing polygamy, which of course it does not, and you'll note that the judge was very careful to leave Utah's marriage statute basically intact. These are, of course, the same people who insist that bakers, florists, etc., have a right to "religious freedom" when refusing their services to same-sex couples.

I read this story and laughed out loud, which is not something I usually do. (Actually, my initial reaction was "OMG! Next they'll be legalizing same-sex marriage!")

Here's the ruling:

Polygamy ruling in Utah by Ben Winslow

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Culture Break: Philip Glass/Uakti: Tiquiê River / Japurá River

This is from Aguas da Amazonia, which has turned out to be one of my favorite collections of works by Philip Glass, maybe because it is, in a way, not typical Glass. Uakti is the group he worked with on this, and they perform it on the CD.

The Jig Is Up

The World Congress of (Some) Families is due to meet in Australia this weekend, but seem to be having a bit of difficulty in figuring out just where. It seems no one is willing to host their little get-together:

The controversial World Congress of Families conservative Christian conference is in chaos only days before its scheduled start, after four Melbourne venues backed out of hosting the event. . . .

The line-up of anti-euthanasia, anti-divorce and anti-gay speakers from around the world has drawn condemnation from civil rights groups.

“It’s a mess,” Margaret Butts, one of the organisers told Guardian Australia. “We have no venue at the moment – the police are telling us it’s a safety risk because of planned protests and demonstrations.

“We are frantic at the moment trying to organise something else, we’ve had four venue cancellations. I can’t talk to you because we are just too busy right now.”

Among other things, it seems as though they neglected to worry about security, crowd control, and liability insurance.

Previously, they issued a letter condemning -- well, just about everyone:

The letter on the WCF website has been written to respond to what it claims has been “unremitting and grossly misleading attacks” in the lead-up to Saturday’s conference at St Cecilia’s school hall.

“Sexual radicals have launched a smear campaign to discredit the Melbourne conference, which misrepresents the international pro-family movement and the positions of the World Congress of Families,” it reads.

Both stories via Joe.My.God.

As for "misrepresenting" the WCF, I suspect the only ones doing that are the WCF themselves. Here's HRC's report on their activities:

HRC report on World Congress of Families by G-A-Y

I'm not usually prone to rejoicing in the misfortunes of others, but in this case, I'm willing to make an exception.

Yesterday In Chicago

I generally avoid listening to recordings of court proceedings (it's just me -- listening to recordings of people talking annoys me; I don't even listen to the radio any more because the announcers talk too much), but the proceedings in the Seventh Circuit yesterday are priceless. The recordings are all over the Internet; here they are at Good As You.

Most commentators have highlighted the grilling the states' attorneys are getting, but the attorneys for the couples aren't getting off so easily -- it's just that their arguments are stronger -- as in rational.

So listen while you're cleaning house or something.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Today's Police Blotter

The more you hear about the police in various towns and cities in this country, the more you want to move someplace else.

First, a businessman is arrested in Beverly Hills while walking back to feed his meter so he wouldn't get a ticket, and held for six hours. He was a suspect in a bank robbery because he "fit the description." (Hint: he's black.)

Second, in Foney, Texas, a woman and her four kids are pulled over and held at gunpoint because they "fit the description" of four men driving around waving guns. The department refuses to apologize (although one officer on the scene did apologize and try to calm the woman). How could they fit the description? They're black. Apparently, in Texas you can only drive around waving guns if you're white.

In a Greenville, South Carolina, WalMart, police beat a man after tasing him, while he was lying on the ground, because he was behaving erratically, while shoppers begged them to stop. Surprise -- the victim was white.

Last week, in Beavercreek, Ohio, a man was fatally shot by police at a WalMart while walking around with a toy gun he planned to buy. He was shot for "failing to comply with police orders." Ohio's an open carry state, but he was black.

In Ottawa, Kansas, police shot a suicidal teenager 16 times. The kid was apparently unarmed, and his aunt was standing there begging the police to stop.

And finally, not an incident, but a poll: Americans don't seem to have much confidence in their police.

The USA Today/Pew Research Center Poll found that 65 percent of respondents said police did “only a fair” or a poor job in holding police officers accountable when misconduct occurs, compared with 30 percent who say they do an excellent or good job.

There were similar findings when it came to the question of treating racial groups equally and using the right amount of force. . . .

The numbers, however, were vastly different when divided between black and white people.

More than nine out of 10 African Americans say the police do an “only fair” or poor job when it comes to equal treatment and appropriate force.

Wonder why.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Today's Must Read

A really scary post by Digby:
Ponder this: our government is systematically collecting vast amounts of data and information on US citizens and foreigners around the world and analyzing it for threats. But it is not systematically collecting or analyzing information of US citizens killed by government authorities and actively blocks citizens who try.

Read the post. And then maybe move to Canada?

Marriage News Watch, August 25, 2014

The official summary:

The anti-gay Governor of Indiana just got caught making some wild claims in court, and now a judge has called him out in a sternly-worded ruling. Marriage equality has picked up another victory, with the first federal judge to rule in Florida. There's a new case in Arizona, with an elderly couple about to lose their home; couples are fighting back against stalling tactics in Arkansas; and two major oral arguments are coming up in the next few days.

And a footnote:

Luxembourg's prime minister, Xavier Betell, (on the right) announced yesterday that he and his partner, Gauthier Destenay, (on the left) are engaged. The Prime Minister let it slip that it was Gauthier who did the proposing, but his response was a happy "yes". The two have been in a domestic partnership for four years, and Gauthier regularly attends official functions at the prime minister's side.

Same-sex marriage recognition becomes effective in Luxemburg on January 1, 2015.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Saturday Science: About That Asteroid

A fairly entertaining video on all (or at least most) of the things that actually caused the extinction of the dinosaurs. Hint: the asteroid was the last straw.

And you may have noticed, that was not the only mass extinction -- there has been a whole series of them, including those known as the Big Five, when over half of all species were wiped out. There's actually an earlier one than the first described in that list, the Great Oxygenation Event, marked by the introduction of free oxygen into the atmosphere, which proved toxic to the anaerobic organisms that were the first life on earth. That one was several billion years ago.

And if you were paying attention to the articles at the links, you will have noted that all of these events involved climate change.

A lot of people are saying that we're heading into the sixth mass extinction. But it's not climate change that's driving it -- it looks like that will be, as it has been in the past, the last straw.

In a new review of scientific literature and analysis of data published in Science, an international team of scientists cautions that the loss and decline of animals is contributing to what appears to be the early days of the planet's sixth mass biological extinction event.

Since 1500, more than 320 terrestrial vertebrates have become extinct. Populations of the remaining species show a 25 percent average decline in abundance. The situation is similarly dire for invertebrate animal life.

The article cites a number of possible reasons, but it all boils down to one thing: the rise of agriculture and the concomitant increase in human population.

Freedom of the Press

To self-censor?

From Tom Levenson at Balloon Juice:
If there was a golden age for American media, it was long ago and it was short.

Over at The Atlantic, Torie Rose DeGhett has an excellent, utterly unsurprising article about a photograph taken in the last hours in the first Gulf War.

The work of the the then 28 year old photographer Kenneth Jarecke, the image captures a fact of war hopelessly obscured by the shots that angered Jarecke enough to postpone a planned hiatus from combat photography. “’It was one picture after another of a sunset with camels and a tank.” — or, once combat actually began, gaudy displays of gee whiz toys, the disembodied beauty of missile exhausts, or bloodless shots of tires and twisted metal. War as video game, or a spectacle for the folks back home.

The bulk of Levenson's post is an embroidery on DeGhett's article (at the link, where you can also find the photo, which is under copyright and so does not appear here) detailing the history of this photograph and the fact that no major "news" outlet would touch it.

DeGhett goes farther, though:

Let me say up front that I don’t like the press,” one Air Force officer declared, starting a January 1991 press briefing on a blunt note. The military’s bitterness toward the media was in no small part a legacy of the Vietnam coverage decades before. By the time the Gulf War started, the Pentagon had developed access policies that drew on press restrictions used in the U.S. wars in Grenada and Panama in the 1980s. Under this so-called “pool” system, the military grouped print, TV, and radio reporters together with cameramen and photojournalists and sent these small teams on orchestrated press junkets, supervised by Public Affairs Officers (PAOs) who kept a close watch on their charges.

The "free press" has learned its lesson. Granted, it's impossible to present all the news that's happening every day. Editorial choices have to be made, priorities implemented, but if you view more than one news source, you know some stories are being buried. Levenson, though, points out something from DeGhett's article we all need to keep in mind:
The key here, as DeGhett writes, is that there was no military pressure not to publish Jarecke’s photograph. The war was over by the time his film got back to the facility in Saudi Arabia where the press pools operated. The decision to withhold the shot from the American public was made by the American press, by editors at the major magazines, at The New York Times, at the wire service. The chokehold on information at the top of the mainstream media was tight enough back then that most newspaper editors, DeGhett reports, never saw the image, never got to make their choice to publish or hide.

You can guess the excuses. “Think of the children!” For the more sophisticated, a jaded response:

Aidan Sullivan, the pictures editor for the British Sunday Times, told the British Journal of Photography on March 14 that he had opted instead for a wide shot of the carnage: a desert highway littered with rubble. He challenged the Observer: “We would have thought our readers could work out that a lot of people had died in those vehicles. Do you have to show it to them?”

Why yes, Mr. Sullivan, you do.
Emphasis added.

There are days I just want to give up. Read both articles.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Giggle du Jour

First, from the inimitable Brian Brown, via Joe.My.God.:
After winning many lawsuits in lower federal courts presided over by hand-picked, liberal, activist judges, the momentum behind the marriage redefinition agenda is waning. Remember, in addition to the Supreme Court's intervention in Utah and Virginia, federal judges in states like Wisconsin are taking notice and issuing stays on their own decisions to allow the legal process to play out. Much, much more importantly, we recently won a case at the lower level in Tennessee! You might not know about it because the media is doing everything it can to ignore the facts. The rush to judgment declaring marriage to be unconstitutional is not only premature — it's flat out wrong! Won't you please give a generous donation today to help NOM continue fighting to defend marriage and the faith communities that sustain it?

We'll not dwell on the many howlers in this short quote (the best being "The rush to judgment declaring marriage to be unconstitutional. . . ." WTF?), because you can spot them easily enough.

And now, the punchline:

Via the ACLU of Florida:

Today, a federal district court judge in Tallahassee held that Florida’s discriminatory marriage ban cannot be enforced in accordance with the U.S. Constitution. The ruling applies both to the granting of marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Florida and the recognition of the marriages of same-sex couples performed outside of the state.

Here's the full ruling.

The judge issued a stay pending appeal. Any bets on Brian Brown being back tomorrow calling that routine stay a "victory"?

Today in Christian Love

There are decent people in this country. And then there are those who aren't decent. They're known as "conservatives."
Spend some time following internet conversations about your liberal cause of the day (global warming, racial injustice, etc) and eventually someone will get to the nut of why the issue pisses many people off: they think activists want them to feel guilty and they don’t want to feel guilty. That’s pretty much it. A huge part of our failure to do anything about the climate disaster or racist asshole cops comes from people protecting their delicate ego.

Take for example the reaction when Mark Lane, an apparantly wonderful guy and excellent dad who runs Poppa’s Fresh Fish Company in San Diego, took in a Guatemalan family of four who had been processed by ICE while they looked for family with whom to live until their court appearance.

Sounds like a good guy, right -- just the sort of person we all like to think we are. Well, maybe not all of us:

But the decision to take in the family has also made him the target of threatening emails, falsified Yelp reviews, phone calls, and death threats by anti-immigrant activists.

“I needed to show my three boys that we don’t use hate,” Lane recently told ThinkProgress. “That’s why I started the ‘Boycott Murrieta’ Facebook page. We were advocating for the children.”

You know what? These assholes should feel guilty. (And of course, the question that always occurs to me: how many of them do you think identify themselves as Christians? Don't misunderstand: I've known enough real Christians that I'm very much aware that this particular subset -- the ones I describe as "Christians," with sarcasm quotes, are not representative. Not even close.)

To compound matters, this is what these families and these children are fleeing (via Digby):

By the time Isaias Sosa turned 14, he'd already seen 15 bullet-riddled bodies laid out in his neighborhood of Cabañas, one of the most violent in this tropical metropolis. He rarely ventured outside his grandmother's home, fortified with a wrought iron gate and concertina wire.

But what pushed him to act was the death of his pregnant cousin, who was gunned down in 2012 by street gang members at the neighborhood gym. Sosa loaded a backpack, pocketed $500 from his mother's purse, memorized his aunt's phone number in Washington state and headed for southern Mexico, where he joined others riding north on top of one of the freight trains known as La Bestia, or the Beast. . . .

"There are many youngsters who only three days after they've been deported are killed, shot by a firearm," said Hector Hernandez, who runs the morgue in San Pedro Sula. "They return just to die."

At least five, perhaps as many as 10, of the 42 children slain here since February had been recently deported from the U.S., Hernandez said.

Sorry, I just can't wrap my head around the idea that there are people in this country who would consign anyone, much less children, to conditions like that.

And just to justify the title of this post, let me jump over to this story at Joe.My.God.:

The Archdiocese of Cincinnati has issued a call for Catholics to refrain from participating in the viral ice bucket challenge because it funds an ALS study that uses embryonic stem cells.

"The beneficiary of the ice-bucket challenge funds a study using embryonic stem cells, which can only be obtained by destroying embryonic life. For that reason, we have determined that our schools should not raise money for the ALS Association, and should instead – if they wish – donate to another organization doing ALS research," the Archdiocese wrote in a prepared statement.

I'm not going to start on the Catholic Church, which I consider one of the most morally bankrupt institutions in the history of Western civilization. The idea of forbidding the faithful from participating in fundraising for the organization that probably has the best chance of finding a cure of ALS because it "violates Church teaching" speaks for itself: life begins at conception and ends at birth.

I confess I don't understand how a religion that started off offering a positive message became so completely perverted.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Culture Break: Dmitri Shostakovich, String Quartet No. 8

The Borodin Quartet did the recordings I had on LP of the Shostakovich string quartets. Two things: I've always loved chamber music, particularly quartets, and Shostakovich put most of his creativity into his quartets, simply because they weren't as public as his larger works, which embody the required bombast -- because Stalin.

At any rate, it's some terrific music, but be warned: it's about 22 minutes.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


"Reviews: Graphic Lit" now includes all my graphic lit reviews from Epinions, Rambles, and Sleeping Hedgehog, as does "Reviews: BL Manga," which is still being reformatted.

I've written too many damn' reviews.

Monday, August 18, 2014

On Ferguson: Today's Must Watch

John Oliver rips everyone involved in militarizing the police a new one.

Marriage News Watch, August 18, 2014


Here's more on that judge in Tennessee.

And here's the ruling. It's pretty lame.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Still Updating Pages

More Graphic Lit, and additions to BL Manga, which is also being reformatted to bring it into line with the other pages.

I've written too many reviews. I don't want to tell you how many times I had to check to see if I'd written something.

Reviews in Brief: Marjorie Liu, Mike Perkins: Astonishing X-Men, #48-56

OK, I admit it: I started following Astonishing X-Men because #51 was getting a lot of hype in the blogosphere because that was the wedding issue: Northstar, Jean-Claude Beaubier, married his boyfriend, Kyle Jinadu. This story actually starts a little before that, though.

Northstar has been having dreams – nightmares, in which the X-Men turn against him. And then the team is attacked by the Marauders, headed by Chimera, and a group of mercenaries. But it seems that Chimera is being controlled by someone else – not a mutant with superpowers, but someone very ambitious with some high-grade, cutting-edge tech, who intends to turn the X-men into her tools.

And in the middle of all this, Jean-Claude and Kyle get married.

The main story arc is pretty much standard fare, but very well done – tight and focused, with some surprising revelations and character development that’s a notch above what you expect from a superhero comic.

As for the relationship between Kyle and Jean-Claude, writer Marjorie Liu actually uses it to advance the plot in a number of instances – it’s an integral part of the story, not just a throw-away. (You can read my reaction to it here.)

Mike Perkins did the art, and my comments in the review of #51 hold: it’s well done, although sometimes a little too detailed, but the layouts are clear and the narrative doesn’t falter. Andy Troy’s color is fairly highly modeled, but it doesn’t detract from the images.

On the whole, this is a series worth looking at – Liu has done an excellent job of handling the gay relationship and it’s an absorbing story.

(A note: Northstar is sometimes referred to as "Jean-Claude" and sometimes as "Jean-Paul," in case you were wondering about the discrepancy between this and the Epinions review. Not My Fault.)

More On Your Local Military

uh, I mean "police." Howie Klein has some background on the increasing militarization of our police forces -- and a run-down of who supported Alan Grayson's amendment to curtail this trend, by forbidding the DoD to make surplus and used military equipment available to local police forces. The amendment failed 62-355. Of that 62, 19 were Republicans. No, it's not a partisan issue. (My rep, Jan Schakowsky, was the only rep from not only Chicago but from Illinois to vote in favor of the amendment. I think people here need to be asking some hard questions. People all over the country need to ask some hard questions.)

And now the feds are maybe having second thoughts. Maybe. Somehow, it's all about the safety of officers and not about intimidating the populace. Sure.

The LAPD's deputy chief, Michael Downing, who heads the department's counterterrorism and special operations bureau, said officers are dealing with "an adversary who is more sophisticated, more tactically trained."

Downing emphasized that though police might train with soldiers, they're not warriors with a mission to kill but public servants with no "enemies."

"In police work there are times we have to become soldiers and control through force and fear," Downing said. "But we have to come back to being a public servant as quick as we can to establish that normality and that ethical stature with communities, because they're the ones who give us the authority to do our police work."

Maybe it's worth noting that LAPD has one of the worst records in the country on police brutality and excessive force.

Klein goes back over the past few years noting that even the right has questioned this military build-up in our cities and towns. Worth reading. If you want a look at how ridiculous this has gotten, read this.

Here's Rachel Maddow taking a longer look at protests and police responses, all the way back to Madison in 1967.

Interestingly enough, she doesn't mention Chicago, 1968.

In spite of Maddow's positive ending -- Highway Patrol Commander Ron Johnson being called in to take over command of the situation in Ferguson and his complete shift of focus -- it doesn't look like it's going to be easy.

One thing that has gone largely unremarked in the commentary on Ferguson, although Maddow hinted at it and the story on Johnson points it up, is what I can only call "police culture." Somehow, it's become "us vs. them," the "them" being the people the police are supposed to be protecting. At least, that has become the public perception -- especially in black neighborhoods nationwide, but don't think that this particular white guy doesn't tense up a little when he sees a cop on the street. Downing's comment about "enemies" rings a little hollow. (It's not just the possibility of being beaten up, arrested, tased or shot because some cop's having a bad day. Well, actually, yes it is.)

And the police are a club, and I defy anyone to prove otherwise. They'll protect their own. Now, most officers are good guys -- they're honest, they're just trying to do a very difficult job -- but their culture is working against it. And then there are the assholes. (I've had both positive and negative encounters with police -- yes, some of them are assholes.) There are enough of the latter to poison things, given the club mentality of most police forces.

I consider Commander Johnson's approach to be a good sign, if he can overcome the territorialism of the local police.

And maybe the first step is to get rid of the fancy equipment -- what the hell do local police need with tanks? (If your Congressperson is one of the 355 who voted against Grayson's amendment, don't write them -- call their office and give them hell.)

Friday, August 15, 2014

Two of My Favorite Things

Henry Cavill and animals. I had no idea Cavill was an animal person, but that just makes him more adorable.

Watch this short video:

For those who don't know, the Durrell Wildlife Park was started by Gerald Durrell, younger brother of famous author Lawrence Durrell (if you haven't read The Alexandria Quartet, you must), and was himself a talented writer who turned out a number of very funny books about the Durrell family and his own adventures as an animal collector for zoos. He became an ardent conservationist, hence the founding of the park.

Cavill is also something of a conservationist, as witness his own site, Cavill Conservation.

Via Socialite Life.

More Reviews

Back to updating the "Reviews" pages -- starting to add in Sleeping Hedgehog reviews, beginning with Graphic Lit.

It's partial. There are a lot of them. Enough that I've had to check to be sure some of them were mine.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Your New, Modern Police Force

Johnson County, Indiana, has 140,000 residents. That's about the population of my old neighborhood in Chicago. That's the whole county, outside of Indianapolis. This is the newest toy acquired by the County Sheriff's department. You're going to have to go here to watch the video -- Blogger won't accept the embed code and it's not on YouTube. (You mean there are things that are not on YouTube?)

To protect police officers? From what?

You might want to compare this with the pictures from Ferguson, MO, that I linked to a day or two ago.

Do I detect the faintest whiff of bullshit?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Culture Break: Ludwig van Beethoven, String Quartet No. 15, Op. 132

I remember the first time I heard Beethoven's "Heiliger Dankgesang," from the String Quartet in A minor, Op. 132. It was many, many years ago, at a concert by the Fine Arts Quartet in Chicago, at the old Goodman Theatre. My boyfriend and I had season tickets, perfect seats. He looked over to say something to me and said later, "You were just sitting there quietly with tears streaming down your face." It's some of the most profoundly affecting music I've ever heard.

Here's the first part of it, by the Stradivari Quartet, at a live performance in 2011:

And here's the second:

Why Do I Read the News?

Some mornings it's just not copacetic.

From Digby, a photo essay on the Ferguson police.

Follow that up with this image from TPM:

As for how the police are reacting to the demonstrations in Ferguson, read this from John Cole.

Oh, and another shooting by police in suburban St. Louis.

And our president's strong stand on torture:

Be sure to read Digby's commentary on that one.

And Maha on how "free speech" is strangling American democracy.

Political campaign advertisements have never been famous for candor or veracity. But it seems to me we’ve hit a perfect storm of circumstances in which our cherished value of free speech could be our undoing. Citizens United; extreme wealth concentrated in the hands of a few people with extreme views and no scruples; Fox News; media technology that quickly spreads unfiltered disinformation to targeted audiences — these things have contributed to an unprecedented corruption of political discourse.

That's about all I can take this morning.

Yes, I know it's a link dump. Deal with it.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Chicago Side

Via Digby, I ran across this: it's a statement from Zephyr Teachout, who is running against Andrew Cuomo in the Democratic primary for governor of New York. So why did I title it "The Chicago Side"? Well, there's this:

Andrew Cuomo is the Governor of New York, and he takes a lot of money from large powerful interests and then hands out tax credits to them. It's a Reaganomics model of financial monopoly capitalism. But the problem here isn't just Cuomo, it's that people like Cuomo dominate the Democratic establishment. Rahm Emanuel, Tim Geithner, Larry Summers, Robert Rubin, and so on and so forth, these people believe in a world where powerful economic interests control our lives and fate through monopoly power, and their partners in government help structure those monopolies. Political corruption and economic monopoly are two sides of the same coin-- too much concentrated power in too few hands.

Ah, yes, Rahm Emanuel, Mayor of Chicago. My joke used to be that Obama sent Emanuel back to Chicago to localize the damage. It's turned out not to be such a joke.

I see it in little things that on the surface look to be what we'd consider good. The City, for example, is pushing bicycles as an alternate form of transportation: there are now stations where you can rent a bike for the day all just about anywhere. (According to Wikipedia, at present there are stations from Berwyn Ave. [5300 North] to 59th Street in the south and Kedzie [3200 West].) Two things: this is being run by a commercial enterprise, Alta Bicycle Share, under contract to the City, and it's publicly funded -- we're paying Alta to do this. It's not all that cheap -- $7 per day, 30 minute limit on single rides, then you either have to walk or change bikes at a new station. If you're someone who wants to cycle, you're better off buying a second-hand bike. And I've noticed that the smaller, independent bike rental places are all gone.

And CTA ridership is way down -- whole bus routes are being cancelled.

And, although the Mayor ostensibly doesn't have a lot of clout in this area (and if you believe that, I have a bridge I'd like to sell you), the CTA has instituted a new fare payment system, Ventra, which again, on the surface looks good: you have a card that you can load online or at an el station or at certain vendors (Walgreen's, some currency exchanges). Just tap your card on the reader and you're in. If the reader decides to read your card. And if you've remembered to add value -- the reader, by the way, doesn't tell you how much you have left. The web site can be a nightmare (I finally had to call the customer service line to get into it -- some know-it-all had pre-registered my card, but didn't give me the log on info). If you hit a peak period at the customer service number, the automated system will cheerfully inform you that the estimated waiting time is X minutes, and then hang up. Oh, and of course, this is being run by a commercial enterprise under contract to the CTA/Pace. Rumor has it that this company has been kicked out of three or four other cities because the system was such a disaster. It's not really very good.

I'm not even going to get into the disaster that is our school system -- the Mayor, it seems, is pushing privatization (wonder why), and not doing much to revamp what we've got.

And always, in Chicago, the first question you have to ask yourself is "Who's getting the kickbacks?" Maybe no one, but there's a lot of history that says otherwise.

At any rate, go read the article at Hullabaloo. It's a good analysis of what's wrong with the Democratic Party, at least the so-called "centrists" -- they're just as caught up in Reaganomics as the Republicans, just less honest about it.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Marriage News Watch, August 11, 2014

The official summary:

There's been some action in western states this week. Wisconsin organizers have formed a new group called Wisconsin Unites for Marriage. Their goal is public education while also persuading Attorney General J. B. Van Hollen to drop his defense of the state's marriage ban. A federal judge ruled against Wisconsin's law in June, and oral argument in an appeal is scheduled for August 26th, along with a hearing on an Indiana case.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Idiot du Jour

Rick Joyner "proves" that evolution is impossible.

Do I really have to say anything?

Reviews in Brief: Gail Simone, Freddie Williams II: The Movement, #1-12

I’ve been catching up on the monthly comics that I have been following, but not following, if you catch my meaning. (Life has a way of intruding, sometimes.)

Gail Simone has been one of my favorite comics writers for a while now, ever since I read her Secret Six series. She has a way of making her characters very real – they’re not all sweetness and light, but they’re not morbidly self-absorbed. In The Movement, she brings us a bunch of teenagers with particular abilities who have decided to take Coral City – or their part of it, the “Tweens,” the area between Tenth and Twentieth Streets – back from a corrupt police force. They wind up taking on not only the police department, but City Hall and ultimately, the man who is actually running things, even though he holds no formal office. Then, they tangle with Batgirl, who comes to Coral City in pursuit of a fugitive – who isn’t really a criminal. And finally, they defeat the Cornea Killer, who has been killing the homeless and taking their eyes.

Simone’s ability with character is in full evidence here, not only with the team members – a group of misfits who’ve banded together as much because they have no place else to go as for any other reason – but, most tellingly, the villain in chief, James Cannon, the aforementioned man who’s really in charge, who ultimately turns out to be a man who bit off more than he could chew – not the movement, but his chief tool for “cleaning up” his city.

The story arcs are good an tight, but there’s room for some history as we learn who these kids are and how they got here. Dialogue is sharp and to the point, and even the narration tells us what we need to know and no more.

Freddie Williams II did the art, and it’s right on target – comic realism, leaning a bit toward the comic but not enough to undercut the realism. Chris Sotomayor’s color is apt, a little dark, but it fits the setting and mood. Narrative flow is good – the layouts are not rigid, with a fair amount of overlapping frames, but it’s always clear.

Sadly, the series didn’t get the fan support it deserved – which means, in the world of comic publishing, that sales weren’t good enough – so it ends rather abruptly with #12.

If you’re interested in my reaction to Secret Six, the reviews are at Sleeping Hedgehog – look for Gail Simone under “Graphic Lit.”

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Saturday Science: About Those Surviving Dinosaurs

Well, we call them "birds" these days. It seems that, unlike everything else, they kept getting smaller.

Our research shows that the ancestors of birds were the only lineage of dinosaurs to continually shrink in size for an extended period of time (at least 50 million years, and perhaps twice as long). They were also the fastest-evolving lineage of dinosaurs.

Oh, and if you're wondering about feathers, well -- they were pretty common among dinosaurs:

We now know that many bipedal, meat-eating dinosaurs (theropods) – including relatives of T. rex and Velociraptor – were adorned with a variety of feathers. They were preserved in such detail in fine volcanic ash that often even their colours can be reconstructed. Plumage might have even been present in all dinosaurs.

The article is worth reading, although I found it a little dry. But there's a video for those with short attention spans:

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Today in Disgusting People

At the risk of repeating myself, I'm going to state this again: if you want to see an example of someone with no moral foundation whatsoever, pick any major figure on the "Christian" right. Exhibit A, via Joe.My.God.:

I wonder how the Ebola doctor feels now that his humanitarian trip has cost a Christian charity much more than any services he rendered. What was the point? Whatever good Dr. Kent Brantly did in Liberia has now been overwhelmed by the more than $2 million already paid by the Christian charities Samaritan's Purse and SIM USA just to fly him and his nurse home in separate Gulfstream jets, specially equipped with medical tents, and to care for them at one of America's premier hospitals. (This trip may be the first real-world demonstration of the economics of Obamacare.) Why did Dr. Brantly have to go to Africa? The very first 'risk factor' listed by the Mayo Clinic for Ebola -- an incurable disease with a 90 percent fatality rate -- is: 'Travel to Africa.' Can't anyone serve Christ in America anymore? All our elite cultural institutions laugh at virginity and celebrate promiscuity. So no, there's nothing for a Christian to do here.

Ann Coulter. How did you guess?

Would it be safe to say, do you think, that Coulter is more concerned with money than with anything else? Certainly more than actually following the teachings of Christ. Offhand, I'd say that whatever good Dr. Brantly did in Liberia is more than Coulter's going to manage in her whole life. By the way, the fatality rate for Ebola is about 50%.

And there are plenty of people serving Christ in America, in a much more substantive way than Coulter seems to be able to comprehend. (Hint: it doesn't involve wagging your finger at everyone who's not just like you.) They just don't want to be associated with the likes of Ann Coulter.

Sixth Circuit Oral Arguments on Marriage Cases

Here's a summary from NYT. Looks too close to call.

Do You Ever Wonder Why

conditions in Central America are so bad that people are sending their children to the US? Mahablog has a couple of articles that seem to go together. This one by A. W. Gaffney reaches back into history:
But why is the region so underdeveloped, why is poverty so entrenched, and why has the colonial legacy of inequality proven so resistant to social and political change? Though the situation is admittedly complex, the dismal state of affairs in Central America is in no small part the result of the failure of social democratic and left-of-center governments to maintain power and enact socioeconomic change; this failure, in turn, is sadly (in part) the consequence of the ironic “success” of U.S. foreign policy.

His first example is Guatemala:
As it did elsewhere, the legacy of the colonial and postcolonial era meant massive inequalities in land ownership in Guatemala, with large numbers of dispossessed peasants condemned to lives of severe poverty. This status quo was maintained in the 1930s and ’40s by the U.S.-supported dictator Jorge Ubico, but it was challenged following his overthrow in 1944, particularly after the election of Jacobo Árbenz in 1951. “All the riches of Guatemala,” Árbenz announced at his inauguration, “are not as important as the life, the freedom, the dignity, the health and the happiness of the most humble of its people.” And he delivered: In seeking to take Guatemala out of feudalism, Árbenz redistributed lands of the United Fruit Company (with full compensation) to landless peasants.

Perhaps unsurprisingly – in the context of the reductionist zero-sum politics of the Cold War – Árbenz was soon deemed a communist threat; however strong his democratic credentials and however nonexistent Soviet involvement might be, his days were numbered.

In Operation PBSUCCESS, the CIA achieved the overthrow of Árbenz by destabilizing the Guatemalan economy, engaging in various innovative forms of psychological warfare and ultimately orchestrating an invasion of the country from Honduras in 1954. Following his overthrow, a military dictatorship was installed, and variably supported, for decades. But this status quo could only be maintained with violence and authoritarianism; insurgency would follow, while inequality and social deprivation would remain largely untouched.

I suppose it's not so surprising that the teabaggers became such a force in American politics -- this has always been a fairly conservative country, and more than a little paranoid: to see a democratically elected government in a tiny Central American country as a threat strikes me as more than a little out there. And let's face it: there's a strain in this country that finds violence and authoritarianism very appealing -- have you noticed your local police department lately?

I recommend Gaffney's whole article. It's pretty shocking.

Maha leads off with this editorial from NYT; like her, I think it's the best summary of the mess Republicans have made of immigration reform that I've seen.

The House speaker, John Boehner, tried on Thursday to pass a bill dealing with the crisis of migrant children at the Texas border — a harsh bill to deport the children more quickly to their violent home countries in Central America, and to add more layers of border enforcement. But it wasn’t harsh enough to suit the Tea Party, and it was pulled for lack of votes. The hapless House leadership had to drag members back from the start of a five-week vacation to try again on Friday.

The revised legislation sought to appease the hard-liners, who were insisting on swiftly expelling migrant children but also intent on killing the Obama administration’s program to halt the deportations of young immigrants known as Dreamers. Tea Party members believe, delusionally, that the program, called DACA, has some connection to the recent surge of child migrants, who would never qualify for it. On Friday night, the House passed a bill that dragged immigration reform so far to the right that it would never become law.

As Congress takes the rest of the summer off, there may be no two happier House Republicans than Steve King and Michele Bachmann, charter members of the “hell no” caucus that resolutely blocks all efforts at sensible immigration reform.

When you can't hope to pass a law that doesn't please the likes of Michele Bachmann and Steve King, you are in serious trouble. And Ted Cruz is doing somersaults.

What I find most worrisome is that people actually voted for these assholes.

In the meantime, we still have a humanitarian crisis to deal with, and the Republicans are doing what they do best: not dealing with it. It doesn't help that patent lies like the "luxury resorts for illegal immigrants" mantra are freely circulating on the right, notwithstanding the fact that they've been debunked any number of times.

I know I'm preaching to the choir, but can't we get rid of these morons?

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Culture Break: Pentatonix: "We Are Ninjas"

Pop culture, this time. A capella, with dancers. This is fast and fun.

I may actually see the movie, although I have to admit the trailers haven't been that inspiring.

As for Pentatonix, I'm always amazed that five unaccompanied voices can produce that rich, layered sound.


This, from Sara Espinoza of the Florida Democratic League (which has nothing to do with the Florida Democratic Party -- quite the opposite, in fact), after the third decision in about two weeks finding Florida's anti-marriage constitutional amendment violates the US Constitution, as quoted by Joe.My.God:

In yet another incident of judicial corruption and lawlessness in South Florida over the last 18 days, today, Broward County Circuit Judge Dale Cohen overthrew Florida’s voter-approved Constitution and denied Floridians their fundamental voter rights. Millions of Americans died fighting in battlefields around the world to defend the constitutional rights Judge Cohen has denied Floridians todays. He has violated his Oath of Office and the Code Judicial Conduct. This is a racist ruling that destroys public confidence in the judiciary and inflicts irreparable harm to respect for the Rule of Law. Cohen’s lawless decision to overthrow Florida’s Constitution, violate constitutional separation of powers, and deny fundamental voter rights is in brazen contempt to the legally binding precedent established by the U.S. Supreme Court in U.S. vs. Windsor. In so doing, Mr. Cohen has also offended basic human decency, violated his Oath of Office, the Code of Judicial Conduct, and the Florida Bar Canons of Ethics. Cohen has forfeited his legacy and his right to remain on the bench.

Just for fun:

"lawlessness" -- This is a particularly nonsensical characterization that's become part of the bigots' rquired vocabulary over the past few months. Can someone explain to me how a judicial decision can be lawless? I think the technical term for that is "oxymoron."

"overthrew Florida's voter-approved Constitution" -- No, the Florida constitution is still there; there's just one illegal amendment that's been nullified.

"denied Floridians their fundamental voter rights" -- Neither Floridians nor anyone else has the right to vote on the civil rights of minorities. That's a well-established principle of American law, and the rationale behind the Bill of Rights: to remove that question from the vicissitudes of the popular whim.

"Millions of Americans died fighting in battlefields around the world to defend the constitutional rights Judge Cohen has denied Floridians todays [sic]." The first WTF? moment. Judge Cohen didn't deny anyone's constitutional rights -- he affirmed them.

"This is a racist ruling that destroys public confidence in the judiciary and inflicts irreparable harm to respect for the Rule of Law." The second WTF? moment. Racist? Excuse me? And I'd like to point out that the right has very little respect for the rule of law. Those of us who actually know how this country is supposed to work are fine with this decision.

I'm sorry -- it degenerates into pure babble, none of which makes any sense. I'm sure this woman's been taking English lessons from Sarah Palin.

And to repeat: The Florida Democratic League bills itself, according to Joe Jervis, as the "largest Hispanic-led Democratic voters' organization." They're about to be sued by the state Democratic party for misrepresenting themselves. They are not Democrats.

This one certainly deserves a Through the Looking Glass Award.

Oh, and Sara Espinoza must be really hysterical now -- a judge in Palm Beach county just ruled against the state, bringing the total to four decisions against the anti-marriage amendment in less than three weeks.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Another Cute du Jour

This one's special, what with my involvement in Sleeping Hedgehog and all:

Monday, August 04, 2014

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Reviews in Brief: Warren Ellis’ Ocean

I’ve been doing some catching up (well, a lot of catching up) and ran across Warren Ellis’ Ocean in my stack of unread comics. As one might expect of Ellis, it’s pungent and heavily political, and it’s a good tight story.

UN Weapons Inspector Nathan Kane is on his way to the Jovian moon Europa – it seems the staff of Cold Harbor, the UN outpost station there, has discovered something in Europa’s all-encompassing ocean that could be of concern.

Also of concern is the much more elaborate and better-equipped station belonging to DOORS, a super-conglomerate that includes not only various sub-corporations, but a couple of countries.

And then there’s the matter of someone trying to kill Kane before he ever gets to Cold Harbor.

The political content is sometimes pretty blatant, sometimes not so much: the idea of a huge corporation being able to undertake investigations on another planet with much more in the way of resources to command than the equivalent government facility is almost too familiar: add together government priorities and perennial lack of funding, and there you are. What’s not so obvious are things like the staff of the DOORS station having to give up their own personalities and become, literally, corporate cogs for the duration of their employment.

Ellis’ dialogue is, as always, very naturalistic and very refreshing, full of the asides, non sequiturs and wisecracks that make up just about anyone’s daily conversation. And characters become distinct and individual with a few broad strokes – not fully developed, but developed enough to make us believe them.

Chris Sprouse and Karl story, respectively penciler and inker, have turned out artwork that is almost perfect – not too much detail, but enough, with frames lean enough to avoid obfuscating the narrative; layout is pretty standard frame-follows-frank, but there’s enough variation that they don’t get repetitive, and the frames themselves are lively enough to hold interest. The efforts of the various colorists are pretty much seamless, and the colors give just enough shading to avoid an overly flat rendering.

And it’s Warren Ellis. If you haven’t read it, go find it.

(Wildstorm, 2006)

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Today in Disgusting People

Ann Coulter seems to be trying for a comeback. Now she's weighing in on the refugee children:

Appearing on Fox News Hannity, frequent guest Ann Coulter told host Sean Hannity that she wished Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was “our president,” so he could deal with our border problems the way he deals with border issues in his own country.

Comparing tunnels found at the U.S./Mexican border with tunnels used by Hamas, Coulter asserted the U.S. is being invaded.

“More than a hundred tunnels have been found on our border,” Coulter said. “To smuggle in weapons, guns, they’re invading, They’re murdering, they’re raping. The head of the DEA said about a year ago that he thinks the surge of homicides in Chicago is a Mexican drug cartel. . . . "

“We need a Netanyahu here. Can you imagine all these — yes, sometimes Palestinian kids get killed, ” she said as she began to laugh. “That’s because they are, they’re associated with a terrorist organization that is harming Israel, and Netanyahu doesn’t care what the religious leaders say, weeping about Palestinian children. He doesn’t care what the UN says. He doesn’t care what the media says.”

Emphasis added.

So, if you know anything about the horror that is the way Netanyahu's government is dealing with Gaza, that will give you a good idea of how far out there Coulter has gone to maintain her Teabagger Barbie status. Enzo at Aksarbent has been following Gaza pretty closely; read his posts here and here, and then just scroll down. See this one, especially, if you want to get a clear idea of how morally and ethically bankrupt Israel has become under Netanhayu. Words fail me.

So this is what Coulter is advocating as US policy regarding refugee children who are fleeing unbelievably grim conditions in Central America.

I've noted a number of times that the right has very little understanding of the concept of morality, usually in connection with their blanket condemnation of same-sex relationships based on the three-thousand year old tribal taboos of a bunch of Middle Eastern nomads. Coulter has just raised that issue a couple of degrees of magnitude. It's quite obvious she has no moral foundation whatsoever.

Addendum: This is the sort of thing Coulter is advocating:
“To me, they’re breaking the law when they come here,” a hooded man identifying himself as Robert Jones said. “If we can’t turn them back, I think if we pop a couple of them off and leave the corpses laying on the border, maybe they’ll see that we’re serious about stopping immigration.”

Shooting kids. Well, we do it all the time here in the good ol' US of A, so why not brown kids, too? That's probably even better -- at least, to people like this asshole.

Cute du Jour

I wish there was a video.

Zoo Berlin recently welcomed five baby Capybaras to their South American exhibit! Born just several weeks ago, the five pups, along with mother, Lucia, explored their enclosure for the first time! Careful to stay close to mother and each other, they enjoyed their time investigating various aspects of their home at the zoo.

We have a pair of capybaras at Lincoln Park Zoo, but they don't seem to be interested in breeding. Pity.

More pictures and much more information at the link.

Via Digby

Friday, August 01, 2014

Another Page

The "Reviews: Books: Fiction and Poetry" page is now completely updated.