Friday, April 26, 2013

Janelle Monae - I Want You Back (Jackson 5 cover) - Coachella 2013 (4/20/13)

Wonderful energy from just last Saturday night at Coachella, but with nostalgic memories of Michael Jackson too!

Jurassic 5 - Coachella 2013

Surprisingly good rap music.

John Fogerty And Sons - Lodi

Apparently John Fogerty has a new album out. They played that ever-popular song on the radio last night that features that familiar town just down the road from here, Lodi. He sounds better than ever! Here he is in Moscow, of all places.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Day In The Life Of A Bernalillo-County A**hole

And I've known so many:
Yet while Frank Ruvolo insists that “I’ve known Kush for several years now and am quite certain he feels horrible about the entire situation,” Kush’s social media history does not reveal a man whose indiscretion was a recent, grief-related outburst, or a guy with too many regrets. Take away his Tuesday evening display of emotion, in which he also referred to county commission chairwoman Maggie Hart Stebbins as a “Gestapo leader” and you’re still left with a guy who doesn’t have a whole hell of a lot of parameters around what he chooses to share.

His “recent activity” on Facebook includes watching a video of a bottomless woman with a “Lost Skirt in Public.” Last summer, he bragged, “McDonald’s sweet tea $1. Throwing it against the windshield of an obnoxious Obama supporter’s car, both priceless and fun.”

He’s posted a snap of a Powerball ticket, musing it could “buy a lot of beer,” and one of a near-empty bottle of Crown Royal with the caption “cold medicine.” He’s declared that “glpbal warming is a bunch of crap” [sic], shared the image of a $274.74 receipt and said, “Our dinner bill and I ripped up a 50 bill in front of the waiter because he sucks and deserves no tip,” and admitted, “I’m dealing with a big bunch of pansies.”

Why so angry, Steve Kush? Could a clue be revealed in your twice-repeated post that “Gays have every bit as much right as the rest of us to be miserable and lose everything they worked for in a bitter divorce”?

If a man has fond reminiscences about “intentionally making inappropriate comments” and “passing out” on a friend’s couch, he’s welcome to them – but when he shares them with the world he’s open to questions of whether he is appropriately representing his party in public.

Mystified By The Donuts

Last night, about 11:03 p.m., someone 'did donuts' in the parking lot behind my bedroom. At first, it was all roaring engine and squealing tires, but it soon vamped up to a possessed mania and a high-pitched wail. The air filled with the scent of burning rubber. Fretting about the danger posed to my parked car, I ran downstairs to get a better glimpse, but only got as far as the yard's gate when their car vanished around the corner. It's never happened before. Will it happen again? A very, very blunt message, but what did it mean? Are the aliens here? Did the terrorists win? Was it a portent?

Never Visited The Appalachian Trail?

No worries. The Appalachian Trail will come to you:
After Sanford published his own cell phone number, House Majority PAC, a Democratic-aligned super PAC, included his number in a fundraising email sent Wednesday.

Sanford responded Thursday by publishing a list of unredacted phone numbers from anybody who had called his cell phone in an attempt to publicly shame them.

...ThinkProgress spoke with three of the people whose numbers appeared on the list – all were surprised and upset to learn their private phone numbers had been published. Darla, who shares a home phone with her 80-year-old mother and 91-year-old father expressed concern that they might receive harassing phone calls. “It opens us up for all kinds of issues,” she noted, adding that Sanford “didn’t even have the courtesy of calling me back to answer my questions.” That Sanford instead decided to make their home phone number public “speaks to the kind of person he is,” she said.

Thomas, who noted that Sanford did not tell callers that he was going to publish their numbers in this fashion, called the move consistent with his record of dishonesty. “I called his office to find out the best spot to get on the Appalachian Trial,” he quipped.

The Internet - A Warning From History

Behold, Eck!!

This was my favorite "Outer Limits" episode when I was a kid.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Beginning Of The End For The Los Angeles Times

When money finally talks, the city will grow deaf:
The Koch boys, whose oil-and-gas-based fortune places them just behind Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Larry Ellison as the wealthiest Americans, have been among the chief donors to the tea party wing of the Republican Party. Their political funding vehicle, Americans for Prosperity, ranked with casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson among the largest funders of right-wing causes and candidates in 2012.

...In their very-brief no-comment on the sale rumors, the Kochs took care to note, “We respect the independence of the journalist institutions” owned by Tribune, but the staffs at those papers fear that, once Kochified, the papers would quickly turn into print versions of Fox News. A recent informal poll that one L.A. Times writer conducted of his colleagues showed that almost all planned to exit if the Kochs took control (and that included sportswriters and arts writers). Those who stayed would have to grapple with how to cover politics and elections in which their paper’s owners played a leading role. It’s also unclear who in Los Angeles, one of the nation’s most liberal cities, would actually want to read such a paper, but then the Kochs don’t appear to view this as a money-making venture.

Though slimmed down from its glory days, the L.A. Times remains a great newspaper, as its recent stories on increasing employer surveillance of blue-collar workers illustrate.

...The bankers’ men on the Tribune board likely view the sale of the papers as a financial transaction, pure and simple. But Times readers (and the Koch brothers themselves) would view a sale to the Kochs as a political transaction first and foremost, turning L.A.’s metropolitan daily into a right-wing mouthpiece whose commitment to empirical journalism would be unproven at best. A newspaper isn’t just a business; it’s also a civic trust. 

New Mexico Republican Compares Minimum-Wage Workers To Prostitutes

But we know who the real hos are:

Not Steve Kush, executive director of the Republican Party of Bernalillo County, New Mexico, though! At a county commission meeting on raising the minimum wage, Kush had this to say about a 19-year-old Working America member there to testify:
Nice hat Working America chick but damn you are a radical bitch
— @snkush via Facebook

Again, 19 years old, not an employee of an advocacy organization, there to tell her elected representatives on the county commission why she wants to see a higher minimum wage. But Kush didn't stop there. As Working America's state director stood to testify, Kush kept going:

Facebook exchange. Republican Party of Bernalillo County, NM, Steve Kush: “Uh oh another Working America chick…nice boots…” describing the organization’s director who was also in line to testify.   Bob Cornelius, the county party’s former executive director and former state land commissioner candidate, replied in comments:
“Maybe she used those shoes to walk Central…”
a reference to Central Avenue, portions of which have been identified as hubs for prostitution.

As you might guess, "walking Central" is a reference to a street where prostitutes gather. And Bob Cornelius, the guy who said that? A former executive director of the county Republican party, and a former candidate for state land commissioner.

So to these New Mexico Republican leaders, raising the minimum wage—an idea with 71 percent support nationally, which 66 percent of Albuquerque voters voted to do in November, and which was passed by the New Mexico state legislature only to be vetoed by the governor—is a "radical" position. And apparently, the offense of being a young woman daring to speak out publicly in disagreement with these princes among men makes you a bitch and a whore. Way to help that whole Republican rebranding effort, guys.

GOP Staffer's Many Guises

Extortionist, Mascot, Whatever-It-Takes, it's all in the greater name and greater good of the Republican Party:
A former intern for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign was arrested Tuesday and charged in federal court with cyber stalking and internet extortion for allegedly obtaining nude photographs of young women and using them to blackmail his victims into sending more nude pictures.

Adam Savader, 21, who is also a former intern of Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign, contacted 15 victims between May 2012 and February 2013, according to affidavit by FBI Special Agent Michael T. Garland. Savader would allegedly contact his victims via text message from a Google Voice number, telling them he had nude pictures and threatening to send them to their parents or post them online unless they sent him more.

Dogs Suffering Through Dress Up

Texans Demand Federal Aid

And I say, "Why?" It wasn't a natural disaster. It had nothing to do with the Federal government at all. If people are suffering let the company owners deal with it.

Time-Lapse From The International Space Station

Meanwhile, Back On Mars

Mars Rover accidentally draws a penis.

The Financial Sector Really, Really Piled On The Debt

And, I guess, given the slow rate of growth of the economy, the real question to ask of Wall Street is: Why so much debt? Was it just pure leverage for speculation? How productive could that have been had it been invested wisely?

In any event, since the crisis, the financial sector has deleveraged fastest. If that had happened without heavy government borrowing, we would have seen a horrifying Depression: the Mother of all Depressions, actually. Instead, we got a milder, but deep and long-lasting Recession.

Deficit History Shows Neurotic Concern Over Deficits Is Unwarranted

Wise words that the our policymakers, led by the GOP, blithely ignore:
In 1816, the net public debt of the UK reached 240 per cent of gross domestic product. This was the fiscal legacy of 125 years of war against France. What economic disaster followed this crushing burden of debt? The industrial revolution.

Yet Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff of Harvard university argued, in a famous paper, that growth slows sharply when the ratio of public debt to GDP exceeds 90 per cent. The UK’s experience in the 19th century is such a powerful exception, because it marked the beginning of the consistent rises in living standards that characterises the world we live in.

...As Mark Blyth of Brown University notes in a splendid new book, great economists of the 18th century, such as David Hume and Adam Smith warned against excessive public debt. Embroiled in frequent wars, the British state ignored them. Yet the warnings must have appeared all too credible. Between 1815 and 1855, for example, debt interest accounted for close to half of all UK public spending.

Nevertheless, the UK grew out of its debt. By the early 1860s, debt had already fallen below 90 per cent of GDP. ... Yet this occurred despite the colossal debt burden in a country with a very limited tax-raising capacity. Moreover, that debt was not accumulated for productive purposes. It was used to fund the most destructive of activities: war. Quite simply, there is no iron law that growth must collapse after debt exceeds 90 per cent of GDP.

...Nevertheless, their work and that of others supports the proposition that slower growth is associated with higher debt. But an association is definitely not a cause. ... Consider Japan: is its high debt a cause of its slow growth or a consequence? My answer would be: the latter. Again, did high debt cause today’s low UK growth? No. Before the crisis, UK net public debt was close to its lowest ratio to GDP in the past 300 years. The UK’s rising debt is a result of slow growth or, more precisely, of the cause of that low growth – a huge financial crisis.

...It follows that, in assessing the consequences of debt for growth, one must ask why the debt rose in the first place. Were wars being financed? Was there fiscal profligacy in boom times, which is almost certain to lower growth? Was the spending on high-quality public assets, conducive to growth? Finally, did the rise in public debt follow a private sector financial bust?
Different causes of high debt will have distinct results.

...In that situation, immediate fiscal austerity will be counterproductive. It will drive the economy into a deep recession, while achieving only a limited reduction in deficits and debt. ... Stimulus is merely not always wrong, as “austerians” seem to believe.

Apprehensive Over The New Neighbor

E.: MMMMMAAAAARRRRCCCC! He's in the yard again! He's old! His head is bent down!

M.: Front or back yard? He seems to be everywhere.

E.: Now he's sawing wood with a jigsaw! Do you hear it?

M.: Ummmm, no.

E.: You need to get your hearing checked. Anyway, last night, he was fixing bicycles. I was afraid to go outside! MMMMAAAAARRRRRCCCCC! Maybe he will chop our arms and legs off!

M.: Well, it's probably a good thing they now have a handyman next door. Goodness knows we all need help around here.

E.: It could be worse.

M.: We could have those guys again who were sleeping out back through cold winter nights in their car.


M.: Someone who likes to fix things is a plus.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Mick Jagger On 'The Californians'

The Milky Way, As Seen From Australia

30-second time exposure.

Weasel Supreme

Rand Paul throws the baby, the bathwater, the diapers, and everything else out the window. Here is this principled libertarian, on drones:
“If someone comes out of a liquor store with a weapon and fifty dollars in cash I don’t care if a Drone kills him or a policeman kills him, but it’s different if they want to come fly over your hot tub, or your yard just because they want to do surveillance on everyone, and they want to watch your activities.”
I started playing around with drones (got distracted lately, though) and actually agree with Paul here, despite our radically-different sympathies. But if we all agree - liberals, conservatives, and libertarians alike - then our civil liberties as we used to understand them are toast. Because Paul's exception here is the entire ball game; the entire ball of wax. Any governmental intrusion can ALWAYS be justified as saving lives. ALWAYS! Time for the black helicopters!

Super Tweaker At Wal-Mart

Hilarious, and sad.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Caldwell B. Cladwell Lives!

One of the richest CEOs in the world explains that all he wants is for water to be fairly-priced:
Brabeck then goes on to offer his view of water, calling it the “most important raw material” in the world. Brabeck disagrees with unnamed non-governmental organizations (NGOs) about water being a human right instead saying he agrees with those who want water to be assigned a market value and therefore managed by private interests.

Driving Less

Driving is definitely-down, particularly among young people:
Ever since the recession hit in late 2007, Americans have been driving less and less. ... But it’s striking that Americans are still cutting back on driving even though the economy is growing again.

... Since June 2005, vehicle miles driven have fallen 8.75 percent. The decline has persisted for 92 months and there’s no sign it’s abating.

What’s happening? High gasoline prices are one obvious factor. The price at the pump has been lurching upward since 2005 and appears to be forcing people off the road:

But that’s probably not the whole story. The correlation isn’t perfect, for one. And vehicle miles driven have continued to drop since 2011, even though retail gas prices have remained relatively stable (though still at a historically high level).

The aging of the Baby Boom generation is a second big factor here. Americans over the age of 55 tend to drive less, so the fact that the United States is aging overall makes a difference.

But another huge part of the story is that young Americans are driving much, much less. Between 2001 and 2009, the average yearly number of miles driven by 16- to 34-year-olds dropped a staggering 23 percent.

...The cost of driving has gone up. In some ways, it’s become more expensive to drive a car over the years. Rising gas prices are the most visible factor, but there are others. As I noted last week, there’s evidence that high student debt is hampering some younger borrowers from buying cars. And auto-insurance rates have soared in recent years, driven by a boom in commodity prices (which make repairs more expensive) and higher health care costs.

...It’s harder to get a license. From 1996 to 2006, every state enacted graduated driving laws that make it more cumbersome for young people to get licenses.

...Technology is making it easier to go car-free. For one, there’s Facebook: “Communications technology, which provides young people with new social networking and recreational possibilities, has become a substitute for some car trips.”

The Economics Graduate Student Who Slaughtered The Elites

Not that hard to do when economists base their opinions on ideology rather than data:
Herndon became instantly famous in nerdy economics circles this week as the lead author of a recent paper, "Does High Public Debt Consistently Stifle Economic Growth? A Critique of Reinhart and Rogoff," that took aim at a massively influential study by two Harvard professors named Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff. Herndon found some hidden errors in Reinhart and Rogoff's data set, then calmly took the entire study out back and slaughtered it.

...Herndon, who did his undergraduate study at Evergreen State College, first started looking into Reinhart and Rogoff's work as part of an assignment for an econometrics course that involved replicating the data work behind a well-known study. Herndon chose Reinhart and Rogoff's 2010 paper, "Growth in a Time of Debt," in part, because it has been one of the most politically influential economic papers of the last decade. It claims, among other things, that countries whose debt exceeds 90 percent of their annual GDP experience slower growth than countries with lower debt loads — a figure that has been cited by people like Paul Ryan and Tim Geithner to justify slashing government spending and implementing other austerity measures on struggling economies.

Before he turned in his report, Herndon repeatedly e-mailed Reinhart and Rogoff to get their data set, so he could compare it to his own work. But because he was a lowly graduate student asking favors of some of the most respected economists in the world, he got no reply, until one afternoon, when he was sitting on his girlfriend's couch.

"I checked my e-mail, and saw that I had received a reply from Carmen Reinhart," he says. "She said she didn't have time to look into my query, but that here was the data, and I should feel free to publish whatever results I found."

Herndon pulled up an Excel spreadsheet containing Reinhart's data and quickly spotted something that looked odd.

"I clicked on cell L51, and saw that they had only averaged rows 30 through 44, instead of rows 30 through 49."

What Herndon had discovered was that by making a sloppy computing error, Reinhart and Rogoff had forgotten to include a critical piece of data about countries with high debt-to-GDP ratios that would have affected their overall calculations. They had also excluded data from Canada, New Zealand, and Australia — all countries that experienced solid growth during periods of high debt and would thus undercut their thesis that high debt forestalls growth.

...When Herndon and his professors published their study, the reaction was nearly immediate. After Konczal's blog post went viral, Reinhart and Rogoff — who got a fawning New York Times profile when their book was released — were forced to admit their embarrassing error (although they still defended the basic findings of their survey). And today, another UMass Amherst professor, Arindrajit Dube, followed up on Herndon's paper with additional proof that there were serious theoretical and causal problems (as opposed to just sloppy Excel work) in the Reinhart-Rogoff study. Observers have been raising serious questions about what Herndon's work means for the future of austerity politics, and Reinhart and Rogoff's respectability as scholars.

...But Herndon's finding won't likely stop politicians from trying to reduce the deficit. The global march for austerity began before Reinhart and Rogoff's work was published, and will continue as long as there are people who believe that governments can shrink their way to prosperity

CORE At The Crocker

I blogged about this in 2010, but it's useful to remind oneself just how good CORE is.

She Keeps Bees - Found You Out

Badtux likes this.

"Oklahoma!" - DMTC - Marc Pictures

Bramlett has pictures. Here are some of me. Noah's mom also took pictures, some of them of me that provoked much mirth (I have strange expressions).

The Brilliance Of Texas Zoning Laws

Just a brilliant way those free-market zealots in West, Texas arranged things.

Fructose Intolerance

During my annual health checkup at the doctor this morning, I asked him: "Have you ever heard of 'fructose intolerance'?" He stopped tapping my back and shook his head in puzzlement. "Oh, it's just that walking here on the sidewalk this morning I met a woman dragging a suitcase who said she just got off the bus from Stockton and who asked for four dollars because she was suffering from 'fructose intolerance'. So, I gave her five dollars." We both had a hearty laugh, and he resumed tapping my back.