Friday, March 23, 2012

Friday Hope Blogging

Flint, Michigan has an elected government once again:

A judge has ruled that the state violated the Open Meetings Act in appointing emergency manager Michael Brown.

Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Rosemarie Aquilina invalidated Brown's appointment and also reinstated the authority of Flint Mayor Dayne Walling and the Flint City Council at a hearing regarding a lawsuit from a city union representative.

The order also invalidated all the orders and actions Brown has taken since he was appointed Dec. 1....
The Susan G. Komen Foundation continues to struggle with the totally unforeseeable consequences of lying shamelessly, playing politics with women's lives and generally being unrepentant assholes:

The chief executives of the Greater New York and Oregon affiliates, among the most outspoken in their criticism of Komen's unsuccessful attempt to defund Planned Parenthood, are leaving. Three officials at the Dallas headquarters have left or announced their resignations, a spokeswoman said.

At the same time, questions are being raised about the breast cancer charity's ability to raise money after the public relations fiasco. The New York affiliate postponed two events, including its annual awards gala, "because we were not certain about our ability to fundraise in the near term," spokesman Vern Calhoun said Wednesday.

The severely conservative NH legislature has refused to strip gay citizens of marriage rights:
One hundred Republicans were among those who opposed HB 437....

State Rep. Keith Murphy (R-Bedford) cited a gay relative who has been in a same-sex relationship for two years when he spoke against HB 437. State Rep. Cameron De Jong (R-Manchester) referenced his faith as he testified against the marriage equality repeal bill that state Rep. David Bates (R-Windham) introduced.

"God is my judge and today I ask you to support equal rights under the law," he said.

NOM's not-at-all-sexually-conflicted president Brian Brown has vowed to hold these lawmakers accountable for pounding him in the ass with Teh Gay Lifestyle. For some reason, this puts me in mind of Mickey Mouse's response to the threats of his arch-enemy Eli Squinch: "More likely, you'll choke yourself to death hatin' people."

Speaking of which, NOM is trying to boycott Starbucks for being rampant and ululant queer-fanciers. Although their coffee is ghastly and their tea is even worse, I'll buy it on principle. I just hope our Gay Overlords won't mind if I don't swallow.

Utah's governor has vetoed an abstinence-only sex education bill:
On Friday, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) vetoed the proposed abstinence-only sex education bill, which would have made all sex ed classes “opt-in” instead of “opt-out” and prohibited any discussions of contraception or homosexuality. Explaining that he found the current sex ed provisions sufficient, he explained he could not sign a bill “that deprives parents of their choice.”
Disability advocates achieved several notable victories in Wisconsin:

Big Win #1: Defeat of the ALEC-Sourced school-voucher bill targeting students with special needs, the so-called "Special Needs Scholarship Program Act"

Big Win #2: Lifting the enrollment caps on Family Care and other long-term care programs for elders & people with disabilities

Big Win #3: Limiting the use of seclusion and restraint in Wisconsin's public schools

Big Win #4: Replacing the outdated and pejorative term "mental retardation" with "intellectual disability" in Wisconsin statute

In a moderately heartening display of relative non-viciousness, the three frontrunning GOP primary candidates have acknowledged that hunting black teenagers for sport is not socially acceptable. For instance:
Santorum, campaigning in Lousiana, said the failure to “immediately go after and prosecute this case” is a “chilling example of horrible decisions.” He added that he thought shooter Geroge Zimmerman was not abiding by Florida’s “stand your ground law.”
Presumably, Dr. Ron Paul has asked an anonymous staffer to write a statement on the Trayvon Martin case. Presumably, he won't bother to acquaint himself with this statement until it turns out to contain racial slurs, at which point he'll accuse the MSM of character assassination.

"Joking" aside, I was not entirely ungobsmacked by this question from a member of Your Liberal Media:
Mr. President, may I ask you about this current case in Florida, very controversial, allegations of lingering racism within our society....
Be it known: It's controversial simply to allege that vestiges of racism may linger — somehow! somewhere! — in American society. Probably because of how views differ and all. For example, some folks think the word "nigger" has some sort of offensive racial subtext, while others think it's just a funny thing to call bad people. Also, some folks will go out of their way to discern racial animus in a photoshopped picture of a black president sprawled in the dirt with a bucket of fried chicken between his legs, while others protest that this interpretation is fundamentally dishonest.

Of course, some irresponsible demagogues [waves modestly] would argue that the mere existence of such "debates" demonstrates that our culture is racist down to its corpuscles. But no one listens to them, thank God, because what would become of Civility?

Onward, sort of, and upward, more or less. It seems that the new president of the World Bank is not named Larry Summers:
Obama pushed for a nominee with broad development experience and was particularly drawn to Kim’s innovative work fighting the spread of AIDS and tuberculosis....

Obama picked Kim over several more well-known candidates, including Susan Rice, current U.S. ambassador to the United Nations; Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass.; and Lawrence Summers, Obama’s former director of the National Economic Council.
A federal judge has ruled that the FDA must regulate the use of antibiotics in animal feeds:

U.S. Magistrate Judge Theodore Katz ordered the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to begin proceedings unless makers of the drugs can produce evidence that their use is safe.

If they can't, then the FDA must withdraw approval for non-therapeutic use of those drugs, the judge ruled.


The U.S. government is about to bar contractors who use computers bought with federal dollars from dumping the devices in landfills, an official said on Wednesday.

Also, Mitt Romney — that brilliant executive with unmatched real-world experience in visioning and leveraging bleeding-edge HR best practices to help build effective teams capable of seamlessly and efficiently achieving world-class mission-critical synergies in support of top-priority core objectives — has made himself even more unelectable by hiring a catastrophically stupid campaign aide. While Fehrnstrom's Etch-a-Sketch comment is rightly getting most of the laughs, we shouldn't overlook the strategeristical cleverosity of using the term "reset button" in reference to a candidate who's widely mocked as a soulless automaton. Given Romney's shrewd professional eye for talent, judgment and discretion, it's pretty exciting to think about his cabinet picks.

Last, Jim Robinson has advised his Freepers to "fight like banshees." So don't tread on 'em unless you want to hear mournful wailing.

Beetlecam. Amazonian street views. Ads for sea monkeys: a child's portal to the wide world of crushing disappointment. Badge hunting. Evolution of the moon. Photos by Stanko Abadzic (via wood s lot). Eleventwentyseven. And Lisboan vistas nocturnas:

In addition: Aymara time-mapping. Anatomical animation. Anthropogenic sediments. Archiving Eden. Ancient Egyptian headrests. Chymical works. Terrestrial magnetism. Caffeine, empire and effeminate babbling layabouts [waves modestly]. Photos by Olivo Barbieri. And photos by Sergey Makarenkov:

In summation: Watercolor cartography (via things). Camera lucida drawings. Photos of jellyfish. Computer marketing brochures. Big-time sensuality (warning: this cannot be unread). "Dysfunctional family implied as mother has left children and father is not alive" (ditto). The new architecture and the London Zoo. And images of Sydney Harbor Bridge:

(Photo at top by Thomas Smillie, 1890.)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Friday Hope Blogging

Here's an obligatory dose of gall before I slather you with healing balm: I've had several more helpings of the Catholic bishops than I can stand. If this reptilian gaggle of world-hating closet cases would put an eleventillionth as much energy into helping the poor, opposing the death penalty, punishing child abusers and excommunicating war profiteers as they put into officious panty-sniffing misogyny, I might give two strictly procreative fucks about their "conscience." As matters stand, however, I'm in favor of stripping these intolerably smug reprobates of their tax exemption and using the additional revenue to launch them headlong into the sun.

Apropos of which: Given the amount of existential dread produced by sex in general and female sexuality in particular, it's obviously time to classify sexually active women as terrorists. That being the case, someone needs to come up with a color-coded threat advisory chart, and it might as well be yours truly:

Joke, ha ha, as Eeyore would say.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, one of the Republican WI state senators facing a recall will resign:

State Sen. Pam Galloway, who faces a recall election this summer, plans to resign from the Senate shortly, leaving an even split between Republicans and Democrats.
Against all odds, Ken Cuccinelli has somehow managed to say something that's both true and significant:
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) fears a Romney nomination would neutralize the health care reform issue, noting that because RomneyCare was so similar to the Affordable Care Act, “you are effectively giving that issue up” by selecting Romney as the nominee.
As has James Inhofe:
I was actually on your side of this issue [climate change] when I was chairing that committee and I first heard about this. I thought it must be true until I found out what it cost.
And Megan McArdle:
I'm not an expert, and I'm not planning to become one. I've basically outsourced my opinion on the science to people like Jonathan Adler, Ron Bailey, and Pat Michaels of Cato—all of whom concede that anthropogenic global warming is real, though they may contest the likely extent, or desired remedies.
I suggest that we remove "In God We Trust" from our money, and replace it with "I'm not an expert, and I'm not planning to become one."

Speaking of intellectuals, some callow youth from Facebook is buying The New Republic. It's probably not realistic to hope that he'll make all its writers tour the county-fair circuit in a dunking tank filled with raw sewage, as Infinite Justice demands. But we can at least pray that Leon Wieseltier -- a chattering husk who recently called Rachel Maddow's new book "an anthropologically useful document of the new American disaffection with American force" -- will eventually be handed his walking papers. (One of the things Wieseltier objects to is Maddow's "perky self-adoring voice," which is pretty rich coming from a guy who makes George Will sound like Beckett. Physician, fuck thyself!)

Our Indo-Kenyan Islamo-Muslim Usurper-in-Chief continues to ram Teh Gay Lifestyle vigorously down our throats.
Earlier this afternoon, the Senate confirmed Judge Michael Fitzgerald to a federal court in California by a 91-6 vote....Fitzgerald joins Nathan, Oetken and a Clinton appointee named Deborah Batts as one of the only four openly gay lifetime tenured federal judges in American history.
An attendee of Grover Norquist's Purity Ball has apparently fallen off the chastity wagon:

Freshman Republican Rep. Rick Crawford will propose a surtax on millionaires Thursday morning, a crack in the steadfast GOP opposition to extracting more money from the nation’s top earners. [...]

Crawford will propose the additional tax— expected to be north of 2.5 percent — on individual income over $1 million as part of a broader fiscal responsibility package.

The DOJ has blocked right-wing attempts at voter suppression in Texas and Wisconsin:

The U.S. Justice Department yesterday told Texas officials the state failed to show that the statute signed into law by Governor Rick Perry last year won’t have a discriminatory effect on Latino voters while a Wisconsin state court judge held that an ID law enacted by fellow Republican Governor Scott Walker last year, unconstitutionally burdens the rights of eligible citizens....

“Voter fraud is no more poisonous to our democracy than voter suppression,” Dane County, Wisconsin Circuit Judge Richard Niess said in his ruling yesterday barring enforcement of that state’s law. “Indeed they are two heads on the same monster.”

It's just barely possible that clearcutting rainforests is not in humanity's best interests:
The world may soon benefit from a plant long-used by indigenous people in the Peruvian Amazon for toothaches, eliminating the need for local injections in some cases. Researchers have created a medicinal gel from a plant known commonly as spilanthes extract (Acmella Oleracea), which could become a fully natural alternative to current anesthetics and may even have a wide-range of applications beyond dental care.
African leaders are establishing the world's largest conservation area:

In a ceremony this week, leaders from Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe have agreed to establish a sprawling 170,000 square mile preserve to span respective borders for the sake of wildlife. Up until now, the five nations had each independently maintained a total of 36 unconnected conservation zones, but that model proved insufficient from protecting migrating animals along their cross-border migrations.

Global poverty has apparently decreased over the last 20 years:
The new estimates show that in 2008, the first year of the finance-and-food crisis, both the number and share of the population living on less than $1.25 a day (at 2005 prices, the most commonly accepted poverty line) was falling in every part of the world. This was the first instance of declines across the board since the bank started collecting the figures in 1981.
(h/t: Cheryl.)

Hooray for eventual, shame-driven consumer semi-choice!
The U.S. Department of Agriculture will offer schools choice in ground beef buys amid growing concern over an ammonia-treated filler critics call "pink slime."

Under the change to be announced Thursday, schools will be able to choose between beef patties made with the filler or bulk ground beef without it. The policy will affect food at schools this fall because of existing contracts.

Pink slime notwithstanding, the kids are alright:

I am 8 years old and like most kids I like balloons. But I’m really worried about what they are doing to our environment and wildlife. Why is throwing trash along the side of a road illegal, but releasing balloons in the sky to explode and fall to the ground in pieces legal? To me it seems that releasing balloons into the air is the same thing as littering and laws need to be put in place to protect both our marine and terrestrial wildlife.

Meerkat pups (via Feministing). Seeds from Hiroshima (via Cheryl). Seeds from the Pleistocene (via Karin). A subterranean clock, and the looming threat of socialized time. Photographer hlaus explores Iceland. Photographer Sarah Elliot explores New Orleans. Photographer Lewis Hine explores one of Newt Gingrich's big ideas. And photographer David Creedon explores the abandoned homes of Irish emigrants:

The Siege and Commune of Paris, 1870-1871
. Designing Canberra. We are here. What the censor saw. What the censor didn't see. What a robot saw (via things). Planetary Folklore. A galactic atlas. Fifty-five female photographers. And a Swiss collection of sheet music.

(Photo at top: "Western Skies Motel, Colorado" by Ernst Haas, 1978.)

Friday, March 02, 2012

Design for the One Percent

A Daily Caller columnist recently argued that the government should force food stamp recipients to buy low-grade food in drab packaging, in order to teach these soi-disant "poor people" a tough lesson about freedom and responsibility and taxation and so forth.

I seem to be suffering from outrage fatigue, because instead of fantasizing about the guillotine, I found myself pondering the logistics of setting official specifications for poor-quality, revenge-oriented food, and of creating a style guide for socially stigmatizing package design.

With these interesting issues in mind, I've taken a stab at designing some product labels for a new taxpayer-funded line of shameful, marginally nutritious foodstuffs. While I can't pretend that they'll deliver the stern dose of humiliation hungry poor people and their hapless children deserve — only the withering patrician scorn of a God-appointed billionaire can do that — I do hope they'll inspire crueler people to produce uglier work.

(Image at top: "The Rich Man and Lazarus the Beggar" by Gustave Doré.)