Amercicans for Mitt!

ConOne of many images circulating Twitter abusing the Amercia gaffe.servatism will make you stupid!

Need simple incontrovertible proof?

Willard’s attempt at a viral WEB campaign.

Oosp: Romney’s New App Misspells ‘America’

There are typos, and then there are typos, and then there’s the gift Mitt Romney just handed his online detractors. Romney’s campaign just launched an app that was supposed to let people show their support by taking pictures, overlaying stirring messages on them, like “American Greatness” or “I’m a Mom for Mitt,” and then sharing them on social media with the message, “I’m With Mitt,” Mashable explains. The problem? One of the banners reads, “A BETTER AMERCIA.”

Yeah, there was no chance this wouldn’t instantly become a meme. People who we suspect are not Romney supporters have been feverishly snapping shots of dictionaries, spelling bee participants, toilets, and more, with the “AMERCIA” banner over them, and a Tumblr has cropped up to show off the best of them. Twitter is abuzz with mockery like, “Will Mitt Romney apologize for Amercia?” and “AMERCIA TEH BUETIFLU.” The campaign tells the Washington Post that it’s submitted a fix for the app to Apple.

There is even a Tubmlr that has been started on the gaffe.

BTx3′s favs?

The New Jim Crow – And Exoneration

The common depiction of Justice with a blindfold wasn’t meant as a cover for willful blindness to innocence. To date, 873 people convicted of crimes in our “Justice” system, and in at least one provable case executed have been exonerated. They just didn’t do the crime they were convicted of doing. Some interesting statistics about that -

50 Percent of Those Exonerated in National Registry are Black

The University of the Michigan Law School and the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law have partnered to launch a National Registry of Exonerations that keeps an up to date list of all known exonerations in the United States since 1989. The group’s inaugural report released this week reveals 50 percent of false convictions are of black defendants.

The National Registry of Exoneration documents include 891 exonerations with summaries of the cases and searchable data on each. Their latest report focuses on the 873 exonerations that were entered in the Registry as of March 1, 2012.

Below are key findings from the Center’s study of the 873 exonerated defendants as printed in the report:

  • 93% are men, 7% women;
  • 50% are black, 38% white, 11% Hispanic and 2% Native American or Asian;
  • 37% were exonerated with the help of DNA evidence; 63% without DNA; as a group, they spent more than 10,000 years in prison – an average of more than 11 years each.
  • Since 2000, exonerations have averaged 52 a year – one a week – 40% of which include DNA evidence.
  • The 873 exonerations are mostly rape and murder cases, but the data also include
    many more exonerations for other crimes than previously known.

For all exonerations, the most common causal factors that contributed to the underlying false convictions are perjury or false accusation (51%), mistaken eyewitness identification (43%) and official misconduct (42%) – followed by false or misleading forensic evidence (24%) and false confession (16%).

Of course, 873 is only a small portion of the convictions for crime we see in any year – much less over 30 years. And the fact that 50% of the folks who were exonerated in a system where 50% of the convicted are black, doesn’t necessarily prove racial bias when considered on its own. The vast majority of criminal convictions in the US are for minor drug offenses with major incarceration times. Those are not disprovable by DNA.

What it does mean is, considering the shoestring budget of groups seeking Justice meaning that only the most egregious cases of injustice are pursued, and the fact that States throw the legal kitchen sink at the legal teams seeking exoneration in order to avoid the exoneration and likely cost of a lawsuit for wrongful conviction… The number of wrongful convictions is probably much, much, much higher.

Of Donalds…Duck and Trump

“I do not understand the cost-benefit here. The costs are clear. The benefits, what voter’s going to vote for him because he’s seen with Donald Trump? The cost of appearing with this bloviating ignoramus is obvious, it seems to me. Donald Trump is redundant evidence that if your net worth is high enough, your IQ can be very low and you can still intrude into American politics,” said George Will on ABC This Week(Source: Mediaite)

Beginning to think that The Donald got the idea for that massive combover he wears…

From Donald Duck. Although it looks more like that worn by that other cartoon Duck…Daffy.

Daffy is brought to us by Looney Tunes…

Which seems a perfect name for The Donald’s venture into Birtherism.

I mean – even Huey, Dewey, and Louie know that one is bull.

Blitzer to Trump: You Look ‘Ridiculous’ on This Birther Stuff

Mitt Romney must be thrilled: On the night he is to clinch the GOP nomination, Donald Trump is stealing some of the thunder with his birther conspiracies, notes the Los Angeles Times. Just hours before Trump was to host a fundraiser in Vegas with the candidate himself, Trump went on CNN and argued with Wolf Blitzer about President Obama’s citizenship.

One highlight of the exchange, in which Trump accused Blitzer and the mainstream media of protecting the president from the birther allegations:

  • Blitzer: “Donald, Donald, you’re beginning to sound a little ridiculous, I have to tell you.”
  • Trump: “No, I think you are, Wolf. Let me tell you something. I think you sound ridiculous.”

Earlier in the day, Trump pushed his view that Obama hasn’t proved he is American-born on CNBC, notes Talking Points Memo.

Godzilla Tuna Alert!

Yeah – They get this big!

Post WWII as the Japanese Film industry developed in the ruins of wartime destruction - the “radioactive monster” meme became a mainstay of the industry by 1954. Godzilla, Mothra, Rodan, Gidorah were all derived in part, if not whole from the radioactivity unleashed from the two atomic bobs dropped on Japan during the war. The movies were hugely popular and even made it into the American market spawning American imitation – where they became embedded in the national psyche. Indeed, the last two Godzilla movies have been American productions with the Monster attacking New York City.

So what do we make of the fact that Tuna which have been radiated by the leaks at the Fukishima reactor damaged by the Tidal wave which hit Japan last year have reached the West Coast of America?

Tuna-zilla anyone? Or Sushi which glows in the dark?

Let’s hope the fear of radioactive Sushi cuts back on the over-fishing of the magnificent fish by the Japanese fleet.

Radioactive bluefin tuna crossed Pacific to U.S.

Across the vast Pacific, the mighty bluefin tuna carried radioactive contamination that leaked from Japan’s crippled nuclear plant to the shores of the United States 6,000 miles away — the first time a huge migrating fish has been shown to carry radioactivity such a distance.

“We were frankly kind of startled,” said Nicholas Fisher, one of the researchers reporting the findings online Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The levels of radioactive cesium were 10 times higher than the amount measured in tuna off the California coast in previous years. But even so, that’s still far below safe-to-eat limits set by the U.S. and Japanese governments.

Previously, smaller fish and plankton were found with elevated levels of radiation in Japanese waters after a magnitude-9 earthquake in March 2011 triggered a tsunami that badly damaged the Fukushima Dai-ichi reactors. Continue reading

A Real Zombie!

Geez! Thisone is like something out of a horror movie where mindless dead people shuffle around attacking and eating the living…

Did this guy watch reruns of “Dawn of the Living Dead” one time too many?

Not sure about the Cops “cocaine overdose” theory – I wasn’t aware cocaine gave you the “munchies”…

Naked man killed by Police near MacArthur Causeway was ‘eating’ face off victim

It was a scene as creepy as a Hannibal Lecter movie.

One man was shot to death by Miami police, and another man is fighting for his life after he was attacked, and his face allegedly half eaten, by a naked man on the MacArthur Causeway off ramp Saturday, police said.

The horror began about 2 p.m. when a series of gunshots were heard on the ramp, which is along NE 13th Street, just south of The Miami Herald building.

According to police sources, a road ranger saw a naked man chewing on another man’s face and shouted on his loud speaker for him to back away. Meanwhile, a woman also saw the incident and flagged down a police officer who was in the area.

The officer, who has not been identified, approached and, seeing what was happening, also ordered the naked man to back away. When he continued the assault, the officer shot him, police sources said. The attacker failed to stop after being shot, forcing the officer to continue firing. Witnesses said they heard at least a half dozen shots. Continue reading

Revenge of the Rust Belt

So now that US Industries have woken up – and finally started realizing that producing many products is cheaper in America…

Where are the new factories going?

Turns out, a majority of them are moving right back where they came from…

The Rust Belt.

During the 80′s and 90′s a lot of American business followed the cattle herd mentality in migrating manufacturing to China – or the next “best” onshore location – the American South. Now I don’t know if it was because at the time, Wall Street was sucking up all the smart MBAs with promises of making millions – or a failure in groupthink…

But a whole bunch of somebodies forgot to put the ancillary costs of offshoring into the equation. From lead laced toys damaging babies, to diaphanous intellectual property protections, to drywall which killed people because of the use of cheaper – poisonous chemicals… The real cost of manufacturing in China is much higher than the wage level would indicate. Thank goodness some folks finally got a clue.

The issue in the South is productivity. American productivity far surpasses that of any other country – and is significantly higher than Chinas. So while the payroll part of manufacturing in China is cheaper – the cost per completed piece is actually higher. Same issue in the South. When you start looking at where your educated workforce is…

It isn’t by and large …There. Meaning productivity is again higher in those old tried and true rust belt states. Further is the cost of conservatives. That is – as long as southern conservatives are dedicated to fighting the Civil War – the number of discrimination lawsuits, and level of employee friction is going to be through the roof, hampering full productivity. Lastly – as recent laws introduced and passed by conservative red state legislatures – such as the anti-immigrant legislation in Georgia where the state’s agricultural workforce was decimated…

You don’t know what stupid, business killing thing they are going to come up with next. Like declaring war on your largest foreign customer.

It’s early – but the “Rust Belt” right about now is looking pretty damn good.

The Revenge of the Rust Belt: How the Midwest Got Its Groove Back

We’re not used to thinking of the old industrial Midwest as a beacon of good news. Just the opposite. It’s Exhibit A in the story of America’s economic decline — a land of hollowed-out factory towns and shrinking cities. There’s an entire genre of photography dedicated to Detroit’s decaying cityscape alone.

Yet, it may be time to rethink that view. Because there are signs that the heart of the rust belt may be finally shaking off its rust.

For the past thirty years or so, there have been two great running narratives about American manufacturing, both of which have been disastrous for the Midwest’s economy. The first has been about the disappearing factory worker — how by shipping some jobs abroad and replacing others with machines, companies have figured out ways to produce more goods with millions of fewer employees on their assembly lines. The second narrative has been about migration — the decision by companies to move production away from once-booming industrial centers of the north, to southern states with weaker unions and lower wages.

Both of those trends, it appears, may have drawn to an end.  Continue reading

Shotgun Wedding…Quebec Style

May maternal grandfather was married twice. The first time in a literal “Shotgun Wedding”, when a local Minister showed up at his door with shotgun and pregnant daughter in tow…

To encourage him to do the right thing. Family rumor has it that within a few hours of the arrival of the Minister, the time required to gather a few witnesses, and a very short guest list – the happy couple was married by his own hand.

The marriage didn’t last, they were divorced several years later after the birth of two children – and he eventually married my Maternal Grandmother.

Like any less than positive event reflecting on the character of a family member – this was hidden as a family secret for years. Leading to the invention of several salacious scenarios where he was seeing the two women at the same time, or wasn’t divorced from the first when he married the second, making lots of fun for those family members who enjoy scandal. Marriage and divorce records prove it didn’t happen that way – but what the hey!

I live in a “Common Law” state – you live with someone for 7 years and you are married by law.

In Quebec, Canada – a recent court decision may result in the largest virtual shotgun wedding in history.

I Don’t! - How a bizarre legal case involving a mysterious billionaire could force 1.2 million Canadians to be married, against their will.

Somewhere in North America, there is a place where little girls don’t give the slightest thought to what kind of wedding dress they’ll wear one day. A place where young men have never heard the expression: “why buy the cow when you can have the milk for free?”—because the milk is always free. A place where no one asks an unmarried couple expecting a baby if they’re getting hitched.

This place is the province of Quebec. The French language spoken here is no guarantee for romance. Couples are practical, and lovers treasure their individuality. Quebec has become one of the least marrying places in the world, thanks to the institution known as “de facto spouses,” But now, thanks to a bizarre legal case entangling a Quebec billionaire and his de facto spouse ,  the freedom to un-marry is under threat. More than 1 million Quebecois in this kind of relationship may soon be automatically married by the state, against their will.

De facto spouses are defined by Quebec’s law as two people who have been living together for a year or more without being married and who check the “couple” box on their income tax statement form. Quebec’s lawmakers have deliberately chosen not to give de facto couples the same rights and responsibilities that married couples have under the Law of Quebec, to preserve the freedom of choice. Upon the termination of a relationship, “no matter how long cohabitation has lasted, de facto spouses have no legal support obligation to each other, even if one spouse is in need and the other has a high income.” Quebec is the only province in Canada where spousal support payments are not recognized by law for de facto spouses.

Other countries also recognize the status of common-law couples, including France and the Scandinavian nations. In the United States, common law marriage is a legal status in a minority of states.

The very religious province of Quebec traditionally perceived de facto spouses as a threat to the social order. But the “Quiet Revolution” starting in the 1960s led to a radical rejection of the church, a decline in religious weddings, and a reform of the Family Law that introduced the notion of de facto unions in 1979. The status gained more recognition during the ’80s and ’90s, mostly thanks to lobbying by gay rights advocates.

The institution has become wildly popular in Quebec, for gays and straights. Anastonishing 34.6 percent of all Quebec couples are de facto couples, and one half of couples under 40 are not married. A full 60 percent of Quebec children are born out of wedlock. ( – More -)

Of Melungeons and Other Historical Mysteries

Arch Goins and family, Melungeons from Graysville, Tennessee, c. 1920s

Arch Goins and family, Melungeons from Graysville, Tennessee, c. 1920s

When Dr. Thomas Walker and Daniel Boone first explored what they would name the Cumberland Gap, the pass which allowed western expansion by the colonists in the Mid-Atlantic region in 1750 – they found a group of folks living in the area who were not Native Americans. They spoke English, and by appearances were neither white, black, or Native American. They became known as Melungeons, partially based on an early statement by one of the group that they were “Portugee”.

Theories have abounded as to how thee folks got there, and from where they came from. The most romantic of which claimed that they were descendants of survivors of the “Lost Colony” and Virginia Dare on Roanoke Island near the border of Virginia and North Carolina who mysteriously disappeared in 1586/7. Others have it they were the descendants of Portugese sailors and Turkish slaves who had been shipwrecked along the Barrier Islands protecting the Carolina and Virginia coasts during the 15th or 16th Century. Still another had them as descendents of slaves originating from the first Spanish Colony located on the Virginia/North Carolina Coast founded by Lucas Vázquez de Ayllón in 1526, which was destroyed by a slave revolt.

None of these historical theories was true.

Another long standing mystery is what happened to the initial African slaves brought to Virginia in 1619. Because there were no slave laws in Virgina at that time – they were purchased as Indentured Servants. Serving of a period of years to pay back the cost of their voyage – or “purchase” cost…

After which they became free, along with the hundreds of thousands of white Europeans who had been brought to the Colonies as Indentured Servants typically to pay off their debts. Permanent black slavery wasnt legally institutionalized in Virginia until about 1670, when a number of “Slave Codes” were ratified in response to several slave revolts, and complaints of slave owners about the economic cost of having to free their slaves.  So what happened in the intervening period to these black folks who were brought to America – served as Indentured labor and paid off their debt to be free? The commonly accepted story is that they intermarried with Native Americas – which is only partially true.

Laws against miscegenation between black and white were codified about 1660 in Virginia. The issue was in large part that by treaty (with Native Americans) and law – the status of a couple’s children, slave or free – was based on the status of the Mother. Thus if an African male slave married and had children with a white female Indentured Servant – any resulting children were freedmen. This posed an economic conundrum for Virginia slave holders, and a loss of valuable property in the form of new slaves. Thus we start to see laws being put into place to prevent this.

Unions between black and white was far more common than many historians would have you believe – and not just the result of the slave Master raping their slave women. By some calculations, supported by DNA tests – about 30% of what is now considered the white population of the US, whose families lived in slave states before the Civil War have black Sub-Saharan ancestry. The result of these marriages was the establishment of large bi- and tri- racial communities in Virginia, North and South Carolina, and Louisiana. The groundbreaking work of Professor Paul Heinegg, of the University of Virginia “Free  African American Families of Virginia and North Carolina” and which has been expanded to now include Maryland, Delaware, and other states  - found that the genesis of most Free African American families before the Civil War in Virginia and North Carolina was the result of these unions between black males and white women. If you will recall, Thomas Jefferson kept his offspring from Sally Hemmings in slavery.

Unions between black slaves and white indentured servants were not rare – a situation creating the need (at least from the slave owners viewpoint) for laws prohibiting such unions. Which leaves the question – where did these families, established before the permanent slave laws,  go after finishing their indenture?

Part of my own family were what is called”Atlantic Creoles” (descendants of a white Sea Captain and an “Indian” woman who moved to Montgomery County  from what is now the Norfolk/Newport News area in 1719) whose children migrated from Montgomery County, Virginia on the lower Rappahannock River to an area near the Cumberland Gap on what is now the Virginia – West Virginia border to escape re-enslavement. They would fight a nearly 50 year legal battle in the Courts to retain their freedom. There was already a thriving black (or tri-racial) community there. What they did was to follow the path after the American Revolution of many European-American settlers and move west to the “frontier”, forming stable communities along the Virginia -West Virginia border.

Indeed there is evidence through letters that Confederate troops stayed out of certain counties in Virginia and North Carolina because the majority of the residents were freedmen who took a dim view of Confederates and would shoot any Confederate who wandered into the wrong territory. I have more then anecdotal evidence that being a slave catcher wandering onto some of those counties was a terminal profession. You can track some of that looking at General Sheridan’s campaign in the Shenandoah - looking at where they DIDN’T fight the Rebs.

My Dad, who was a Historian always claimed that the Melungeons of the region were actually the descendants of the first Africans brought to America who had intermarried with white Indentured Servants and had served out their indenture and moved to the remote area to escape persecution.

Turns out he was right. He referred to these folks as “cousins” – although I never figured out why, or have proven any direct family relationship with any of the 40 or so Melungeon families. He was also good friends with one of the Goins family descendants.

Melungeon history researchers at various times have claimed that several famous people were descendants of Melungeons, including Elvis Presley, Ava Gardner, and Abraham Lincoln. That is in all likleyhood wishful thinking – as I have never heard on any evidence to back such claims. The truth of which would be explosive.

Melungeon DNA Study Reveals Ancestry, Upsets ‘A Whole Lot Of People’

For years, varied and sometimes wild claims have been made about the origins of a group of dark-skinned Appalachian residents once known derisively as the Melungeons. Some speculated they were descended from Portuguese explorers, or perhaps from Turkish slaves or Gypsies.

Now a new DNA study in the Journal of Genetic Genealogy attempts to separate truth from oral tradition and wishful thinking. The study found the truth to be somewhat less exotic: Genetic evidence shows that the families historically called Melungeons are the offspring of sub-Saharan African men and white women of northern or central European origin. Continue reading

The New Jim Crow – The Conservative “Race War”

The present blooming fantasy of white victimization has roots in the peculiar violent institutions of the 19th-century American South. In the distant mirror of history, it’s easy to spot the irony and the guilt: even before the Civil War began, whites worried that their slaves would rise up and repay their masters in kind — filch the fruit of their labor, rape them, and beat them, sometimes to death. As soon as the balance of power shifted and news of Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Courthouse circulated throughout the former slave states, those fears ran amok

A common recruiting method of white supremacist groups is to play on their potential member’s percieved “victimization” by minorities. Ergo – that they are failures in life because black/brown/yellow/green folks were “given” jobs or opportunity over them because of race. As I have said before the conservative side of the American political spectrum has absorbed a lot of ideas from the racist right, and mainstreamed them into conservative mantra and consciousness.

The narrative is pretty much laid out in the video below -

One of the most flagrant results of this was the perversion of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division under the Bushit Administration as a vehicle to track down and prosecute incidences of “reverse discrimination. That is, discrimination against whites by minorities. The problem being that after 8 years and spending hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer money…

Only one verifiable case was ever found by said lawyers. This despite over 13,000 cases of classical discrimination being filed a year by minorities.

Reality and logic play no part in this from a group of folks who believe the presence of two, self styled “Black Panthers” at a Pennsylvania polling place during the 2008 Presidential Election was enough to sway voters across the country to vote for a black man – and that such constituted a “massive” level of voting fraud…

Despite consistent and massive efforts by Republicans in 2000 and 2004 for limit minority voting though denying the availability of voting machines, and “erasing” large number of minority voters from the rolls in Florida based on “faulty” data.

The right wing’s “racial services machine” though the “7 Sisters”, a group of right wing foundations which pour hundreds of millions of dollars a year into conservative think tanks and causes – supports this sort of racial narrative to the tune of an estimated $100 million a year. These groups have funded the publication of books by folks such as Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray “The Bell Curve”, Sowell’s contributions to  TownhallWorldNetDaily,OneNewsNow and the Jewish World Review,  Dinesh D’Souza whose book “The End of Racism oddly enough inadvertently makes the case for racism’s continued existence, and Jared Taylor’s “The Color of Crime” using faulty logic and fake statistics to make the case for black on white crime. Fox News advances these narratives though such commentators as Sean Hannity, and as of late Bill O’Reilly.

Black conservatives are well funded to support the narrative that whites are under attack by “Speakers Bureaus” such as Project 21, and trusty, safe black conservatives like Sowell, whose recent article fully supported the existence of a “war” by black folks against white folks based on anecdotal evidence

The problem being, just like the “New Black Panther Party” (having nothing to do with the original Black Panthers and consisting of perhaps 50 members nationwide) controversy, and the “Reverse Discrimination Controversy” – there is no statistical evidence to support that in any way that whites are being targeted by roving gangs of black or brown folks attacking white folks in any numbers beyond random.

Conversely – spending $100 million a year in investing in racist narratives…

Totally deconstructs the idea that racism is no longer a factor in American life.

The “white victimization” industry promoted by right wing media, and their well paid quasi scientific cohorts has very real consequences.

These cases are similar to the hue and cry raised over the “Central Park Jogger” case in the 90′s – where gangs of black youth, supposedly “wilding” were convicted of the brutal beating and rape of a woman jogging in Central Park. The tragedy of the victim was compounded by the fact that the courts convicted 5 innocent kids of the crime, adding additional victims to the carnage - who had been convicted largely due to the media hype, and assumption of guilt by the media and police who beat “confessions” out of the youths…

And of course, most recently the Trayvon Martin murder.

In Conservative Media, A “Race War” Rages

It was near midnight on April 14 when the Chevy Cavalier carrying Dave Forster and Marjon Rostami rolled to a stop at a red light in Norfolk, Va. As the pair waited, one of a crowd of teenagers on the sidewalk threw a rock at the passenger seat window, prompting Forster to get out of the car and confront the aggressor.

That’s when the beating began. Continue reading

“Never Make a Pretty Woman Your Wife”…Or Apparently, a Dumb One

Wow – My first thought in reading this article was “this explains the popularity among women of those dreadful Uggs boots!”

Recall this image of Venus Williams -

Looking dumb as a beauty strategy to attract guys.

It also goes a long way to explaining conservative men walking around with tented trousers at the thought of the Sno’ Ho’ – Sarah Palin…

And the lore (and allure) of the “dumb blonde” stereotype.

Do Men Find Dumb-Looking Women More Attractive?

Ask a straight man, “How do you like your women?” and it’s unlikely he’ll answer, “Dumb and sleepy.” But according to new findings, these characteristics—and any other traits suggesting that the lady isn’t particularly alert—are precisely what the human male has evolved to look for in a one-night-stand.

In an article soon to be published in Evolution and Human Behavior, University of Texas–Austin graduate student Cari Goetz and her colleagues explored what they called the sexual exploitability hypothesis. The hypothesis is based on thedifferences between male and female reproductive strategies as humans evolved. For ancestral women, casual intercourse with an emotionally unattached man who had no clear intention of sticking around to raise any resulting offspring constituted a massive genetic gamble. By contrast, for a man with somewhere around 85 million sperm cells churned out every day—per testicle—the frivolous expenditure of gametes was far less detrimental to his genetic interests. Goetz and her team began with the assumption that—because our brains evolved long before prophylactics entered the picture—female cognition is still sensitive to the pregnancy-related consequences of uncommitted sex and women remain more reluctant than men to engage in it. They set out to test the idea that any indication that a woman’s guard is lowered—that she’s “sexually exploitable”—is a turn-on for your average man. “[T]he assessment of a woman’s immediate vulnerability,” surmise the authors, “may be central to the activation of psychological mechanisms related to sexual exploitation.”

Reminds me of an old 60′s song…

This is an inflammatory hypothesis, of course, and the language employed in the field doesn’t help matters. It’s worth noting that in the evolutionary psychology sense, the word exploitable simply means that a woman is willing or can be more easily pressured into having sex—which takes her own desires, rather disturbingly, out of the equation. Even if she’s the aggressor, a prostitute, or a certifiable nymphomaniac, having casual sex with her would still constitute “exploiting” her (or at least her body), according to this model.  Continue reading

Smackwater Jack’s Squirt Gun

This one is downright strange.  Seems to me that there is a lot of information on the Internet, including YouTube videos, of what happens when a gun explodes.  While there are plastic guns – they are pretty carefully designed not to explode when fired. One has to assume the unsuccessful designs never made it to market - because many of the unsuccessful designers are no longer with us. That self inflicted Darwin – self elimination from the gene pool thing again…

Man Makes Shotgun Out of Super Soaker

Among the 100 or so guns confiscated in southeast Fresno over the last three months, Sergeant Mark Hudson says one in particular certainly stands out.

“It’s dangerous for those officers being out on the street to see something like this obviously,” Hudson said.

Fresno Police say 54-year-old Randy Smith was walking in the area of Barton and Nevada on Saturday night.

He had a “Super Soaker” water gun hanging around his neck from a sling.

Normally, officers might not think much of it.

But police say they were just briefed about people turning toys into shotguns.

So they stopped Smith, and sure enough, instead of water inside his gun, he had a real shotgun shell.

“He took the Super Soaker apart, was able to fashion a barrel to where he was able to make what’s considered a zip gun, where you can fire one round through it. In this case it was a 20 gauge shotgun shell,” Hudson said.

“The guy that made that gun, he probably got maybe $30 worth of parts,” Bill Mayfield, who works at Gilmay Guns in Fresno, said.

Mayfield says it doesn’t take a gunsmith to make something like this.

But it’s definitely not a smart move.

“The firearms cartridge with the gun powder is an explosive. The device they’re building has to be able to contain the pressure of that explosion,” Mayfield said. “So they’re just relying on, maybe this will hold up. Well, you could be putting a gun next to your head, or you could be putting a hand grenade next to your head.”

Smith faces a laundry list of charges, including being a convicted felon in possession of ammunition, a felon in possession of a firearm, manufacture of an illegal weapon and a misdemeanor warrant.

How Do You Make Our Schools Smarter… By Dumbing Down Our Elected Officials?

A favorite Republican whipping post is our “failing” educational system”…

The problem being that many of the Republicans who most vociferously shout about American Educational shortcomings…

Have benefited so little from their experience  in a learning environment.

I mean, if the first step to building a strong house is to dig a good foundation…

Then you best better hire a builder with more than a passing familiarity with a shovel.

Didn’t do so great on that last vocabulary test? That’s OK, there’s a place in Congress for you. The current class of congressmembers speaks at a 10.6 grade level—down almost a full grade from 2005′s 11.5 grade level on the Flesch-Kincaid scale. According to a political scientist at the Sunlight Foundation, the open government group that ran the numbers, one reason for the decline is the influx of new members who were elected in 2010, many of them with Tea Party support. “Particularly among the newest members of Congress, as you move out from the center and toward either end of the political spectrum, the grade level goes down, and that pattern is particularly pronounced on the right,” he says. In easier-to-understand terms: All of the 10 members who speak at the lowest grade levels are Republicans, and nearly all are freshmen.

Sophomoric? Members Of Congress Talk Like 10th-Graders, Analysis Shows

It turns out that the sophistication of congressional speech-making is on the decline, according to the open government group the Sunlight Foundation. Since 2005, the average grade level at which members of Congress speak has fallen by almost a full grade.

Making The Grade

The Sunlight Foundation analyzed the Congressional Record and found that Congress’ ranking on the Flesch-Kincaid scale — which evaluates readability — has dropped a grade level in recent years.

Average grade level of Congressional speeches

Every word members of Congress say on the floor of the House or Senate is documented in the Congressional Record. The Sunlight Foundation took the entire Congressional Record dating back to the 1990s and plugged it into a searchable database.

Lee Drutman, a political scientist at Sunlight, took all those speeches and ran them through an algorithm to determine the grade level of congressional discourse.

“We just kind of did it for fun, and I was kind of shocked when I plotted that data and I saw that, oh my God, there’s been a real drop-off in the last several years,” he says.

In 2005, Congress spoke at an 11.5 grade level on the Flesch-Kincaid scale. Now, it’s 10.6. In other words, Congress dropped from talking like juniors to talking like sophomores.

Of the 10 members speaking at the lowest grade level, all but two are freshmen, and every one is a Republican. For the record, though, Drutman isn’t passing judgment about whether speaking at a lower grade level is a good thing or a bad thing.

South Carolina Republican Rep. Mick Mulvaney ranks the very lowest, with a grade level of 7.94. Continue reading

American Zombies – Cadillacs and Conservatives

Cadillac had a problem about 10 years ago when it’s marketing folks finally came to the realization their buyers were dying off…

Literally.

Cadillac’s market appeal was to folks over 60 who had grown up with large American style cars, a shrinking demographic. Younger folks who had been weaned on smaller, typically foreign cars preferred the smaller size and handling characteristics of foreign luxury makes, versus the bloated floating gunboat handling common to America cars. They were much more likely to gravitate to Acura, Lexus, or Mercedes than to buy a “hog”.

The CTS was designed to attract younger buyers with style, handling, and performance competitive with foreign Luxury brands.

In response to the realization that their market was literally dying out – the company went on a crash campaign to attract younger buyers by introducing models like the CTX whose handling and performance characteristics were more in line with their foreign competitors.  Now – the company didn’t really have a change of heart as the Brobdingnagian gas guzzler SUV line proved – and their clinging to the 60′s era American maxim that more cubic inches and horsepower makes up for all design shortcomings…

But – they at least (grudgingly) are making an effort.

Which puts them far ahead of Republicans, who are facing the same market issue. Their market is white, male in their 60′s and 70′s and dying off. Not soon enough for many of us – but thank God for small favors. Their counter approach seems to be to turn their believers into Zombies – a technology which worked with some success in creating the Tea Party. Unfortunately the technical difficulty of retainng live, functioning brain cells is still beyond their reach – resulting in even bigger problems.

Case in point -

GOP problem: ‘Their voters are white, aging and dying off’

When presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney appears before Latino small-business owners in Washington on Wednesday, he’ll address a group whose explosive birth rates foreshadow a seismic political shift in GOP strongholds in the Deep South and Southwest.

“The Republicans’ problem is their voters are white, aging and dying off,” said David Bositis, a senior research associate at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, who studies minority political engagement.

“There will come a time when they suffer catastrophic losses with the realization of the population changes.” Continue reading

Was Columbus Jewish?

One of those historical mysteries was the actual background of Christopher Columbus, the European credited with “finding” the Americas. Some scholars now believe that Columbus was actually Jewish, and hid his background and religion to escape persecution common in Europe at that time. This would be interesting, as Columbus is also widely seen as opening the “New World” to Christianity.

Artist depictions of Columbus landing often include Christian Symbols and the presence of the Church in the form of a Priest carrying the Cross.

Was Columbus secretly a Jew?

Today marks the 508th anniversary of the death of Christopher Columbus.

Everybody knows the story of Columbus, right? He was an Italian explorer from Genoa who set sail in 1492 to enrich the Spanish monarchs with gold and spices from the orient. Not quite.

For too long, scholars have ignored Columbus’s grand passion: the quest to liberate Jerusalem from the Muslims.

During Columbus’s lifetime, Jews became the target of fanatical religious persecution. On March 31, 1492, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella proclaimed that all Jews were to be expelled from Spain. The edict especially targeted the 800,000 Jews who had never converted, and gave them four months to pack up and get out. Continue reading

Corey Booker’s Walk Back

Corey Booker quickly walked back his criticism of the Obama campaign hammering Willard Romney for his role in Bain Capital destroying jobs…

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