Friday, November 18, 2011

Friday Hope Blogging

A Kansas judge has dismissed all 23 of the felony charges brought by Phill Kline against Planned Parenthood:

“While additional charges in this case remain, we are pleased the most serious charges have rightfully been dismissed. We are grateful Johnson County taxpayers and Planned Parenthood will no longer waste enormous time and money on these politically motivated allegations brought by now discredited prosecutor Phill Kline,” the organization said in a statement released Wednesday morning.

The Massachusetts legislature has passed a transgender rights bill:
On Wednesday, the Massachusetts state Legislature passed a bill designed to prohibit discrimination against the state's transgender population. The protects against employment, education, and housing discrimination and revises the state's hate crimes law to protect against crimes targeting people based on their gender identity and gender expression. The state House approved the bill late Tuesday and the Senate voted, with little opposition, to pass the legislation on Wednesday.
A federal judge in Texas has ruled that law enforcement agencies need a warrant to track cell phone users by location:

In a victory for the privacy rights of everyone with a cell phone, a court has held that law enforcement agents must get a warrant to access cell phone location records. The ACLU, ACLU of Texas and Electronic Frontier Foundation submitted a brief urging the court to adopt exactly this position. The Constitution requires nothing less.

The Arizona Supreme Court has ruled that Gov. Jan Brewer broke the law by firing redistricting commissioner Colleen Mathis:

In a brief order, the justices brushed aside arguments by Lisa Hauser, the governor’s attorney, that Brewer’s decision was not subject to court review.

More to the point, they said that Brewer’s power to oust a commissioner is limited to situations of substantial neglect of duty or gross misconduct. The justices said that nothing the governor alleged in her letter firing Mathis rises to that level.

Nevada's attorney general has indicted two title officers at Lender Processing Services for mortgage fraud:
The Office of the Nevada Attorney General announced today that the Clark County grand jury has returned a 606 count indictment against two title officers, Gary Trafford and Gerri Sheppard, who directed and supervised a robo-signing scheme which resulted in the filing of tens of thousands of fraudulent documents with the Clark County Recorder’s Office between 2005 and 2008.
A Pentagon whistleblower who lost his job has gotten it back:

A Navy review board has overturned a Marine Corps decision to strip one of its senior science advisors of his security clearances, intervening directly in a case that attracted attention among lawmakers on Capitol Hill and among advocates of enhanced legal protection for military whistleblowers.

Franz Gayl, who complained publicly in 2007 that the Corps had squashed an urgent request from U.S. soldiers in Iraq for heavily armored vehicles, was stripped of his clearances last year and suspended indefinitely with pay.
The Oregon Court of Appeals has extended the state's ban on wolf-killing:
The court reaffirmed an earlier court order prohibiting the killing of two members of the Imnaha pack by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, pending the final outcome of the court’s review of the state’s wildlife laws. Three conservation groups, Cascadia Wildlands, the Center for Biological Diversity and Oregon Wild, had petitioned for review of the wolf-killing rule.
This is interesting:
A Californian startup named Simbol Materials believe that it can extract lithium, as well as zinc and manganese, from the brine that is pumped by geothermal power plants. They expect to be able to compete with the lowest-cost Chilean lithium producers, as well as produce the world's purest lithium carbonate.
More redundantly wealthy capitalist exploiters like this, please:
Patriotic Millionaires for Fiscal Strength has been meeting with congressional leaders this week, continuing their push to raise taxes on the very richest Americans. “We want to pay more taxes,” said California millionaire Doug Edwards, a former marketing director for Google. “If you’re fortunate, and you make more than a million dollars a year, you ought to pay more taxes.” The group even told anti-tax zealot Grover Norquist that he should take his extreme positions and “move to Somalia.”
Apropos of which, it won't come as a surprise to you that the real horror of "job-killing regulations," to industry, is that they create good-paying jobs.

Last, it continues to be just barely conceivable that there may not be some unitary "natural" sexual relationship we can use as a standard for human behavior:

With monogamy so uncommon in the animal world, the idea of lifetime fidelity can seem a little strange, at least to evolutionary biologists.

But in greylag geese, which can live for 20 years and share those years with just one mate, biologists have found a benefit: stress reduction. During fights, males with mates have lower heart rates than their single brethren. If their partners are nearby, they’re even more relaxed.

Now that that's out of the way: Metrocake. Photos by Richard Mosse. Some remarks on Euplectella aspergillum, or the Venus flower basket. Landscape architecture vs. zoning for apartheid vs. the history of conceptual modeling (your Venn diagram is due in the morning). The digital Dead Sea Scrolls. Daily life in Greek and Roman Egypt. Daily life in Xiangtangshan. Daily life in Oxyrhynchus. The Royal Society and the origins of scientific communication. Magic in late antiquity. Vidéothèque du CNRS. Women with deadlines. Le Petit Journal des Refusées. Example of midcentury design from No Barcode. A new island (via Cheryl). Socket mapping. And volcano mapping:

(Image at top: "The Mysterious Bird" by Charles Burchfield, 1917.)

Friday, November 11, 2011

Friday Hope Blogging

“If you think you’re going to stop us, you’re crazy. You will not stop us. We will beat you.” --John Kasich.

Or not:

The fight to defeat Ohio's Issue 2 was one more look at what a determined mobilization of the 99 percent can look like. And holy crap, what a victory it led to: with 99 percent of votes reporting, the margin is 61-39.
"I will not back off until we solve the problem of this illegal invasion. Invaders, that's what they are. Invaders on the American sovereignty and it can't be tolerated." --Russell Pearce

Sez you, tough guy:

In an apparent rebuke to his hard-line politics, Arizona state Senate President Russell Pearce was recalled by voters Tuesday. Senator Pearce was the author of the state's tough anti-illegal immigration law that has spawned copycat laws in several states from Utah to Alabama.

"I think the election is going to be about Michigan's past versus Michigan's future." -- Paul Scott

Give that man a cigar!
State Rep. Paul Scott, R-Grand Blanc, became the first state legislator to be recalled in a generation after he conceded defeat in a recall election today....

The recall of Scott is, "unfortunate," said state GOP chairman Robert Schostak. "But the voters have spoken and we have to live with it.
"People here in Iowa...were very offended that three judges substituted their opinions for the will of the people.” --Michele Bachmann

Apparently, they've gotten over it:
Pro-family groups in Iowa say hopes for a marriage amendment in that state have all but faded now that Tuesday’s election has left Democrats in control off the State Senate.
Speaking of the will of the people:
Openly gay and lesbian candidates endorsed by the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund won election to municipal, judicial and state legislative offices from coast to coast Tuesday night....

Candidates in Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Charlotte, N.C., made history, becoming the first openly gay or lesbian candidates elected to those city councils. In Virginia, Adam Ebbin became the first openly gay person elected to the State Senate, and in New Jersey, Tim Eustace became the first non-incumbent openly gay candidate to win a seat in the State Assembly.

Furthermore, 70 large companies have come out against DOMA:
Top U.S. companies including Google, Microsoft, and Starbucks took the unusual step on Thursday of legally documenting their opposition to the Defense of Marriage Act.

A brief filed in court comes from 70 businesses and organizations that want their voice heard on the constitutionality of DOMA, which bans same-sex marriage from being recognized federally and stops couples married in states such as Massachusetts from having their weddings recognized in less accepting places such as Alabama.

The companies paint the law as an overburdening government regulation that should be repealed.
Sorry, Michele, but that's capitalism for ya. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned!

Of course, Big Homo's outest and proudest victory was in Maine, where a mincing coterie of queer-friendly voters flagrantly gay-married themselves to the fruitiest faggotry of all:
Despite a warning from Maine’s Republican party that a gay rights group supported same day registration, state voters restored the option by a three-to-two margin Tuesday night.
The Will of the People also thwarted the GOP's attempt to raise zygotes to the God-exalted status of corporations:

An extreme measure that would have given legal "personhood" status to undeveloped zygotes failed among ultra-conservative Mississippi voters Tuesday night, after a history of being rejected twice in Colorado and a struggle to even get on ballots in nine other states. But Personhood USA fully blames the Mississippi loss on Planned Parenthood.

"It's not because the people are not pro-life," Keith Mason, a co-founder of Personhood USA, said on Tuesday. "It's because Planned Parenthood put a lot of misconceptions and lies in front of folks and created a lot of confusion."

Fair enough. Teh People are staunchly pro-life; they just happened to find the satanic sophistries of the baby-killers momentarily plausible. This figurative shotgun marriage will never last, unlike the real kind.

A new front has opened in the War on Christmas: Coastal academic elites are using junk science -- possibly involving stem cells from pre-born children -- to keep those filthy OWS hippies from freezing to death over the winter.
Because of time and funding constraints—not to mention the ban on flammable materials—they are focused on low-tech solutions. Engineers are testing various materials to wrap heated bricks that would give off heat without burning skin. They are also exploring different methods of keeping water hot over long periods of time beyond a simple thermos, which maintains, but doesn’t radiate, heat. And they’re experimenting with different canopy materials to keep snow off of the roofs of tents and create dead air space, which boosts temperature.
Their ultimate aim, undoubtedly, is to create a human/hippie hybrid that will be able to masturbate publicly even at subzero temperatures.

The Internet: Open for business:
Today in the Senate there was a major win for freedom of speech and the Internet. In a largely partisan vote Senate Democrats defeated a resolution introduced by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) which would have overturned the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) open Internet rules that are set to go into effect this month.
Australia will impose a carbon tax, which is being hailed as a death knell for civilization in the usual quarters. In a terrifying sign of things to come, scientists at MIT are working on some sort of parabolic trough for cooking fronds and bracken, which the pagan one-worlders will eventually force us to install in our gender-neutral caves:
MIT researchers say a hybrid solar-thermoelectric system they’re working on would provide a big advantage over conventional solar cells or solar thermal systems, particularly for household use: the ability to produce heat and electricity simultaneously. They propose accomplishing this mean feat through a clever reconfiguration of the standard parabolic trough.
The Keystone XL pipeline has been postponed:
"A done deal has come spectacularly undone. The American people spoke loudly and today the President responded, at least in part," said Bill McKibben, one of the major organizers of the fight against the pipeline. "Six months ago, almost no one outside the pipeline route even knew about Keystone XL. One month ago, a secret poll of 'energy insiders' by the National Journal found that 'virtually all' expected easy approval of the pipeline by year’s end. As late as last week the CBC reported that TransCanada was moving huge quantities of pipe across the border and seizing land by eminent domain, certain that its permit would be granted."
Meanwhile, California has installed 1 gigawatt of solar power:

California has hit a major renewable energy milestone: 1 gigawatt — or 1,000 megawatts — of solar power has been installed on rooftops throughout the state, according to a report to be released Wednesday by Environment California, a statewide advocacy group.

One gigawatt is … enough energy to power 750,000 homes. Five countries have hit the 1 gigawatt installation mark to date: Germany, Spain, Japan, Italy and the Czech Republic. California has installed more solar power than France, China and Belgium.

Bank Transfer Day went well, especially for the banks. Thanks to this largely symbolic display of public outrage, they will no longer have to sully their coffers with some parking-lot attendant's heirloom jar of Indian head pennies:
[T]he banks are going to be better off because they are getting rid of their least-profitable or not profitable clients. It helps them stem this tsunami of cash that’s been flowing in that they don’t know what to do with.
As Thoreau said, "Simplify, simplify." What bank wouldn't be grateful to purge this parasite from its money-clogged bowels?

Mike Fox Sr., a beer magnate and well-known philanthropist, is set to announce Friday that he is divesting his long-held personal Bank of America account, which contains several hundred thousand dollars, in an effort to promote social and economic justice.

Fox said Thursday that he has also asked his executive team to move a $4 million-plus line of credit held by M.E. Fox & Co. from Bank of America to another institution.

And what bank wouldn't welcome friendly competition like this?

Last week I posted on an appeal by UK-based Civilisedmoney, which was seeking investors for creating a peer-funded, transparent alternative to mainstream banks.

Now that appeal is over, and the company raised its target of £100,000 (about US$150,000) in 9 Days.
OMG SOCIALISM!!!1eleventillion:

As one might imagine, NASA employees utilize some serious high tech gadgetry. And as it stands right now, every time an engineer needs a microprocessor-controlled power tool or space-proof half-ratcheting torque wrenches for a specific project, they put in an order for a new one. That ends up creating a decent amount of redundancy, with different subagencies ordering the same high-tech parts, or failing to find suitable used ones.

So, one NASA employee has a bright idea -- start the most futuristic tool-lending library the world has ever seen. Matthew Ritsko, a NASA employee from Maryland has put the scheme forward as a cost-saving measure, as part of the Obama administration's SAVE initiative, which asks government employees to submit ideas for paring down federal expenditures.

The Laughable Game of What D'Ye Buy. Das Hofopernensemble der Ära Mahler Schellackaufnahmen, 1902 – 1912. Different voices from Wales, different modernists from Ireland, different prints from the Urals. Palladio and Britain. Firework packaging of the 1980s. Attentional landscapes. And ephemeral folk figures:

And so to bed.

(Image at top: "Election Night" by John Sloan, 1907.)