August 2012 Archives

Clint Eastwood Sucked


I love Clint Eastwood. I love his acting, his directing and his movie making. I always have.
But watching him do his disrespectful, rambling and ill-timed stint at the RNC last night was appalling. His speech was destructive and unneeded and he turned a lot of us off.

Sorry Clint, that just sucked the big one.

Scott Free Elections


Judge to Toss Out Changes in Florida Voter Registration

By Lizette Alvarez

A federal judge said on Wednesday that he planned to block provisions of a Florida measure that made it harder for organizations to register voters in the state.

The measure, part of a broad and contentious 2011 election law in Florida, had a serious impact on third-party voter groups, like the League of Women Voters and Rock the Vote, which filed the suit along with the Florida Public Interest Research Group Education Fund. The groups asserted that the new requirements were onerous and made volunteers vulnerable to fines and even felony charges.

Voter registration, particularly among Democratic voters, declined significantly in the past year. The Florida Times-Union reported this week that the number of registered Democrats had increased by only 11,365 from July 1, 2011, to Aug. 1, 2012, a sharply lower figure than in the same periods during the past two presidential races. In 2004, nearly 159,000 new Democrats were registered in that period. In 2008, the number was nearly 260,000.

The 2011 Florida election law required groups that registered voters to turn in their completed forms within 48 hours or risk penalties. As a result, several organizations, including the League of Women Voters and Rock the Vote, stopped working in the state. Previously, groups had 10 days to submit the forms.

Deirdre Macnab, the president of the League of Women Voters of Florida, which suspended its operations for a year, said she was delighted with the ruling.

"It sets an important precedent in Florida and nationally that gives a strong level of protection for third-party registration groups," Ms. Macnab said. "We have been a historical part of America in reaching out to underserved communities."

But, she added, the all-volunteer voter registration groups now face an arduous task. The registration deadline for the November election is five weeks away.

"We have so far now to catch up in making sure that every day Florida voices are going to be heard in a very important election with very important decisions to be made," Ms. Macnab said.

Judge Robert L. Hinkle of Federal District Court in Tallahassee said he expected to prohibit the voter registration restrictions once a federal appeals court dismissed the case. The judge had suspended the restrictions on May 31, calling them "harsh and impractical" and "burdensome." Some voter groups restarted their registration drives after his initial ruling.

Changes to the voter registration process are among several measures in Florida's election law that are now before the courts. Critics of the law, including groups representing minorities, view it as an attempt to suppress voter registration and turnout, particularly among Democratic voters.

A separate federal lawsuit that challenges the election law under the Voting Rights Act is being brought by the Justice Department.

This month, a federal court ruled that a measure in the law curtailing early voting days could depress voter turnout among blacks. The court barred Florida from carrying out the changes in the five Florida counties that are covered by the Voting Rights Act of 1965. That act requires that any changes in voting law must be approved by the Justice Department in certain states and counties with a history of racial discrimination.

PSA: The Reveton Trojan


Latest 'ransomware' attacks are scarily sophisticated

By Herb Weisbaum

Imagine having all of your computer files -- including taxes and other important data -- kidnapped and held for ransom. It's happening more and more. Internet criminals are now targeting U.S. computers with online extortion attacks.

"Ransomware" is not new, but the latest version -- named Reveton -- is more sophisticated than most of this malicious software.

The Reveton Trojan instantly locks the infected computer. Then it displays a message on the screen that looks like it's from the FBI. The bogus message says the user violated federal law by downloading child pornography or illegally using or distributing copyrighted music or video.

To unlock the machine, the user is told to pay a "fine" via a prepaid money card, online payment service or wire transfer.

The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center, reports being "inundated" with complaints about the Reveton ransomware.

"We are getting dozens of complaints every day," IC3's Donna Gregory wrote in a scam alert posted on the FBI website. "Some people have actually paid the so-called fine."

A victim who was instructed to pay a $200 fine told IC3: "The page said if the demands were not met, criminal charges would be filed and my computer would remain locked on that screen."

Keep in mind: The FBI does not ask people for money and never sends unsolicited email.

The feds issued a warning about Reveton in May. Since that time, this malware has become more widespread in both the U.S. and internationally. And it's getting more aggressive.

Some versions can turn on the hijacked computer's webcam and show the victim's picture on the frozen screen. Others take the extortion threat to a whole new level.

Pay up or we'll notify the police!
Variants of this malware are infecting computers in Europe and they are devilishly sophisticated. They encrypt all the files on the hard drive. This prevents the owner from accessing them until the ransom is paid to get the decryption key.

"The bad guys have improved the nastiness of this attack," said Chester Wisniewski, a senior security advisor at SophosLabs. "They basically steal all of your documents and lock them in a vault. And only they have the key."

Sophos detected the Troj/Ransom-HC variant in July. It demands $3,000 Euros (about $3,800 in U.S. dollars) to unlock the encrypted data. The encryption is so strong, Wisniewski told me, there's virtually no way for the average PC user to crack it.

"All malware is bad, but it's disturbing that they are able to do this," he said.

The bold extortion message displayed on the screen gives the victim 96 hours to pay up. "Otherwise," it says, "we will send report to the police with special password to decrypt some files which contains (sic) spam software and child pornography files."

"This is pretty scary stuff, said security expert Brian Krebs. "The majority of people who get hit with it would be in a spot because they aren't serious about backing-up their computer."

Expect to see more ransomware -- because online extortion is lucrative. On his security blog, Krebs wrote about income data he obtained for one criminal group that uses Reveton. It shows they made $54,000 in a single day.

"People react to the threat and pay the money," Krebs told me. "The response should be to shut it down, think about it and have a computer repair person look at it."

The Reveton Trojan is delivered by a "drive-by" download. Just visit a compromised website and malware is injected onto your computer without any action on your part. This is why good security software is a must. Set your machine to do this automatically.

But even the best protection won't stop all malware attacks.

If your computer gets infected with this new ransomware, it may difficult or impossible to open your files. That's why it's so important to constantly back-up your data. You need to be prepared for a disaster like this because you may not get a second chance.

The Internet Crime Complaint Center advises victims of a ransomware extortion attempt not to pay any money or provide any personal information.

Remember: Even if you are able to unfreeze your computer on your own, the malware may still operate in the background, capturing account numbers, passwords and other personal information.

Your best bet is to take a compromised computer to a professional to have the malware removed.

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Republican Women Should Vote for Obama


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Hard Choice for the Party of Stupid


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People Don't Understand Punk Art


Actually few of us understand art in general. Personally I think this "amateur" did a great job of modernizing the painting. Can you not still tell it is a portrait of the Son of God?


I can paint that! Wait, no I can't! Amateur artist messes up century-old artwork

By Gael Fashingbauer Cooper

Would you think to match your home-grown painting skills against a classical artist? Probably not, but that's just what a well-intentioned woman in her 80s did recently in Spain.


The three photos above tell the tale. The image on the left is the original work, a century-old oil painting of Christ called "Ecce Homo (Behold the Man)" that was painted on a column inside a church near Zaragoza, Spain, by artist Elias Garcia Martinez.

Over the years, the work began to deteriorate, as shown in the second image. According to the Centre de Estudios Borjanos, the unnamed amateur artist (without permission from the church, needless to say) thought she could improve the work and set to work with paints and brushes. The third picture is the result.

The BBC reports that the woman realized her mistake and contacted Juan Maria Ojeda, a city council member in charge of cultural affairs for the area. "I think she had good intentions," Ojeda told the BBC.

A team of art restoration experts is reportedly examining the painting, will quiz the woman on what materials she used in her attempt, and will figure out how best to proceed.

"If we can't fix it, we will probably cover the wall with a photo of the painting," Ojeda told the BBC.

The BBC Europe correspondent described the painting's current state as resembling "a crayon sketch of a very hairy monkey in an ill-fitting tunic."

While Martinez's work was not considered especially valuable, the BBC reports that the painter's granddaughter had just donated a sum of money to properly restore the peeling image before the helpful would-be artist got involved.

A Pioneer Takes Her Leave


I always wanted to have Phillis Diller as my mother if I couldn't have the one I did...not that my mother was comedic or anything. There was just something about Diller's honesty and self-deprecation that made me feel comfortable and familiar. Sad news for me that she is gone, though at 95, I guess you've done your bit and it's time for the next audience. Thanks for it all, made me laugh a lot and never made me cry, not even once. Comedy has changed in all sorts of ways since your heyday 50 years ago, but you were the rock on which so many modern comics, especially the women, have built their acts. A salute and a huge thrown kiss goodbye. Say hi to Fang for us.

Comedian Phyllis Diller dies at 95

phillis.diller.jpgPhyllis Diller, the housewife turned humorist who aimed some of her sharpest barbs at herself, punctuating her jokes with her trademark cackle, died Monday morning in her Los Angeles home at age 95, her agent confirmed to NBC News.

"She was a true pioneer," Fred Wostbrock said. "The first female stand-up comedian. She paved the way for everybody. She paved the way for Joan Rivers, Ellen DeGeneres, Chelsea Handler. Phyllis was the first of the first. The first female to play Vegas ... she was on Broadway, she made movies. She did it all."

Her longtime manager, Milton Suchin, told The Associated press, "She died peacefully in her sleep with a smile on her face."

Smart Glass for Smart Phones


Just having bought one and being a congenital fumbler, I'm interested.

How your phone's screen shatters

You'll know when it's over.

Upon impact, a small amount of elastic energy is converted into acoustic energy -- that resounding indication of breaking glass. But the majority of the elastic energy stored in the glass will be converted into two -- or more -- new surface energies. A crack. Or several cracks. With one eye closed, you'll reach down gingerly, reluctant to turn it over. There won't be any shards to pick up off the pavement, only a phone with a freshly splintered screen, the jagged lines and spiderwebs forming some kind of painful abstract art.

You've just smashed your phone's screen.

The glass layered on the front of your phone is a lot of things: thin, flexible, transparent. But the only two things that matter when you drop it are its hardness and its strength. Hardness is resistance to abrasion. It's your screen's first line of defense against car keys, kitchen tables and concrete. Strength is the relationship between the surface compression and inner tension; it determines, among other things, how many blows a piece of glass can endure before it shatters completely. Glass only breaks in tension, when the force of impact finally overcomes the surface compression. A scratch doesn't shatter glass, but small stresses will eventually lead to a colossal splintering.

Your phone is in fact covered with some very hard, very strong glass that's only 0.8 mm thick. Yet it takes 30 times more force to scratch the iPhone screen than it does a piece of plastic, according to Apple. And under perfect conditions, the latest chemically tempered Corning Gorilla Glass -- which is more likely than not covering the front of the new phone in your pocket -- can withstand around 100,000 pounds of pressure per square inch. Or in English, a 1.18-pound iron ball dropped from six feet.

Building glass that tough is an arduous process. A 400-degree Celsius bath of molten salt replaces the small sodium ions -- the tiny particles that make up aluminosilicate sheet glass -- with larger potassium ones that "stuff" themselves onto the surface, for increased compression. This makes the glass harder and more resistant to deeper scratches. Jets of cold air are then blown across the top of the glass, which allows the outside to cool and harden faster than the inside, giving it lots of compression on the surface, but tension in the middle. The push and pull between the two is what makes tempered glass so strong.

Which is Better?


Answers to the perennial question "Are you better off than you were 4 years ago?"

iswingstate writes:

6 graph interpretations that media & Romney don't want you to know:

1. When W. Bush left office, our GDP was at minus 9 and today is positive 2. Which is better?

2. Size of the economy in the 4 Quarter of 2008 was at 95% of GDP, and today is greater than 102 % of GDP. Which is better?

3. When Bush left office, Down Jones was at 6600 point, and today is at 13,000 points. Similarly, when Bush left office, my 401K was half value. Today my 401 K is double. Which is better?

4. When Bush left office, we had over 12 months jobs lost consecutively, 800K jobs lost per month, spiral to a depression. Mr. Obama stops the bleed out, and has produced over 28 month jobs growth consecutively. Which is better?

5. When Bush left office, corporate profit was down, and today is up 20 - 30 percent higher than 2008. Which is better?

6. When Bush left office, Export was down at minus 30%, and today is positive 7 percent. Both export and import are growing again. Which is better?

7. When Bush left office, we have higher trade deficit, and today is a lot less. Which is better?

8. We have higher household income today than when Bush left office. In fact, it's much higher than real GDP. Which is better?

9. Manufactures employment has gone up since Bush left office. Which is better?

Paul Ryan 2002: Who is this guy?


Listen to Paul Ryan in 2002 make an appeal for Kensyian economic stimulus as the "usual bipartisan" way to deal with recessions.
What a difference a decade makes.

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Why I Love Chris Hayes


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That Old Black Ebay Magic


I found this really funny:

eBay bans magic potions, spells and curses

by Helen A.S. Popkin

ebay.potion.jpgJust as crafter nexus Etsy banned the sale of human bones, body parts and anything with a medical drug claim, eBay is slamming the door on the metaphysical. Come September, the online auction site will no longer truck in "advice; spells; curses; hexing; conjuring; magic; prayers; blessing services; magic potions; healing sessions," according to its 2012 Fall Seller Update.

It seems there's an online conspiracy against charlatans afoot,
but the mystery remains why ... and why now?

"EBay regularly reviews categories and updates our policies based on customer feedback," the company said in a statement. "We are discontinuing a small number of categories within the larger metaphysical subcategory, as buyers and sellers have told us that transactions in these categories often result in issues that can be difficult to resolve."

We've reached out eBay to get the specifics of these difficult-to-resolve issues -- chronic Tiki-statue-induced bad luck? Wrong neighbor turned into toad? Spontaneous musical numbers more retro-pastiche than break-away hits? -- and will update this post should the company get back to us and let us know.

It's obvious this latest product ban creates a problem for both snake oil salesmen and the gullible public. Sellers of such intangible goods are sharing their outrage on eBay forums, and a Don't Ban Our Psychics petition is racking up signatures. In these tough economic times, people are desperate to pay a dummy tax and now eBay's robbed them of a convenient outlet to do that.

Sure, there's still the lottery, but then, a lottery ticket won't do you any good without the magical powdered tiger testes required to make it a winning lottery ticket. It's lose, lose, lose across the board.

Further, it's unclear whether trendy, well-respected baloney will also suffer under eBay's latest list of unallowable merchandise. Dreamcatchers, for example. Must they now be listed as "Decorative Wall Thing with Net, Beads and Feathers?" And what about lucky rabbit feet? Is it time for the bunny population to celebrate, or should they worry about that untapped market for mundane rabbit feet?

Suckers should remain at ease however, because if there's anything snake oil salesmen know, it's how to be shifty.

Just as perverts can still find unwashed socks and underwear on eBay if they know the key phrases ("100 percent washed per eBay standards, message me for special packaging requests"), fools will remain soon parted from their cash. All it takes will be a few magic keywords.

Sweetness, Thy name is Sweet


Ya gotta love full circles

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Lapeer Michigan and the Powerball


My first house as a baby was on Lapeer St in Port Huron, MI. When I ran away to Flint, during a blizzard at 13, I went straight west on Lapeer St to the town of Lapeer, where I stopped and built a fire in an abandoned barn in a fleld off the highway. Other than that, I remember driving through it. But that's it for me about Lapeer.
Conrats to the Superball advice, move soon.

Mystery Powerball jackpot winner leaves Michigan town abuzz


By Andrew Mach

Who is the newest Michigan millionaire? That's the question that's been on everyone's minds in Lapeer, Mich., since it was announced that the lone winning ticket for the third-largest Powerball jackpot ever was sold in the town.

The sole winner has yet to come forward, but the mystery has the town at the heart of the Thumb of Michigan buzzing.

"In the past we've had Michigan state lottery winners, but this is a whole different thing," Lapeer City Manager Dale Kerbyson told NBC News. "This money would be enough to buy Lapeer."

The winning ticket was sold at a local Sunoco gas station in the town about 60 miles north of Detroit, but the ticketholder remains anonymous. Under state lottery law, the winner has an entire calendar year to come forward, but residents in Lapeer - population: about 8,800 - are consumed with speculation as to which of their neighbors holds the winning Powerball lottery ticket to a jackpot worth $337 million.

"The buzz has been crazy because the whole country was watching, so when they heard it was in Lapeer, people here started getting calls from family, friends, colleagues and acquaintances from absolutely everywhere asking, 'Did you win? Do you know who won?'" Kerbyson said. "Even my 7-year-old daughter said yesterday pointing to people out the window, 'Do you think that person won?' People have almost a suspicion, 'Is that guy next to me the one who won?'"

Should the mystery winner want to take the prize in one lump sum, he or she would be able to take away about $240 million. But the jackpot would impact the rest of Lapeer too. The city stands to take in some $2 million in tax revenue if the winner is a resident of Lapeer.

"We all want to know, but we're also looking at how that money can positively impact the entire community," said Kerbyson, adding that the city would probably use the money to finance a particularly expensive road project in the state.

Kerbyson, who has been the city manager in Lapeer for eight years, described the town as a very blue-collar, middle-class, Midwestern community. He said the added notoriety of the town since the announcement has been a blessing on the people that live there.

Watch the most-viewed videos on

"Everybody in the city is experiencing so much positive attention," Kerbyson said. "There has been a fantastic camaraderie in the city as a result, and this news has almost pulled the city together in a way."

Mayor Bill Sprague is also loving the city's good fortune.

"We've had a saying for many, many years around here that one of our local car dealers had that this is 'Lovely Lapeer' and I guess we might have to change that to 'Lucky Lapeer,' or something," Sprague said.

Ryan and Women's Rights


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O'Donnell Rewrites Paul Ryan


Ayn Rand worshipper no more? Hah!

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Witness to Modern Slavery


For the past two years, photographer Lisa Kristine has traveled the world, documenting the unbearably harsh realities of modern-day slavery. She shares hauntingly beautiful images -- miners in the Congo, brick layers in Nepal -- illuminating the plight of the 27 million souls enslaved worldwide.

Education as a Basic Human Right


What would the planet be like if everyone had free access to university level education?

Romney Wants to Define Ryan


Before the Democrats do...

It's too late. Ryan has already defined himself all too well.

My comment from the Vine:

Ayn Rand acolytes like Ryan are quite similar to any other form of cult driven True Believers; they are sociopaths who depend on the cult credo of choice as a substitute for Self. They are both Selfless and maximally selfish at the same time. It is an incredibly dangerous and destructive form of personality disorder.

If Ryan were living in the 1930's he would have been a model for a certain strain of people who sought to remake the destiny of mankind through a narrow and ruthless application of forced "tough love" on those he considered weak and an impediment to the superman individual. He would have been proud to wear the perfectly fitting uniform over his disciplined physique as he implemented his austere policies on an undisciplined populace naive to the extent his disease.

All cults of the "individual" are operate under a false premise. Ayn Rand's science fiction narrative was based on that same false premise. They believe that the individual is the pinnacle of evolution and that tribes and societies are simply the spring board from which the individual must divorce themselves in order to achieve their cosmic destiny. It is egoism run amok.

Individuals are wholly a creation of the group and cannot come into existence without it, nor can they operate successfully without it.

As I noted in a previous post:

The individual doesn't exist except by way of the group. That is what makes the Randian/Libertarian premise false. Without collective effort the individual never arises. That human animal has no accumulated cultural knowledge, no language, no location in history. It is through the group that these things occur.

Individuals as we think of them are a relatively modern invention and we have yet to determine their final proper role in the tension created between the individual and the collective. It is not a case of one being more important than the other or one deserving a greater allegiance than the other, it is a balancing act. The US constitution does a pretty good job of it, and succeeds primarily because it is flexible, amendable and subject to interpretation with each succeeding generation.

Aside from that initial libertarian ideal and premise of the sanctity of the individual, very few Libertarians have the resources, skills or balls to leave the civilization they constantly berate for the way it is seen to limit individual freedoms and strike out on their own.

Paul Ryan and his policies are a recapitulation of the same errors in thinking that necessitated WWII.

Do not be fooled by his apparent friendly demeanor nor his quasi-rational arguments, both are a ruse and cover for a deep seated hatred for the common man. He admires and strives to be a member of an elite convinced they can change the course of human destiny by bringing into reality the false and ruthless ideas of a long dead science fiction author whom herself, failed to live up to her own imagined ideals.

Romney cannot define Ryan, Ryan has already done that for those paying any attention.

The EZ Kick


So Yvonne this is how the embed idea works:

Intro cartoon:

EZKick is ideal for salons in assisted living facilities and retirement communities and every beauty/barber/spa salon should have at least one chair with an EZKick footrest attachment for the safety, comfort and convenience of mobility impaired clients.

EZKick transforms your standard salon chair instantly, making it safe and accessible to mobility impaired clients. It is simple to install and operate. Made of stainless steel with an electro-polished finish, EZKick will be a lasting piece of equipment serving you and your clientele for years to come.

EZKick allows clients a clear way in and out of the salon chair, without struggling to step over the footrest. The EZKick footrest remains in the lowered (collapsed) position until your client is comfortably seated. Once seated, simply reposition EZKick into the extended, locked position for foot rest comfort. When the client is ready to get up, EZKick is easily lowered (collapsed) to give the client a safe and clear path. EZKick makes transferring from a wheelchair or walker safer and easier. Clean-up around the chair becomes easy and fast.

And the real time short:

EZKick, addressing the special challenges presented by the physically impaired, elderly and handicapped. EZKick, creating multiple advertising and marketing opportunities for you and your salon or facility.

EZKick is now available from Beauty On Duty, Inc. Call us at 863-984-8838 Order online at

Or email us at:

Yvonne Parkel, President

Final List From the Vine



Here it is! My final list of those who Romney should never pick:

It can't be Daniels; he scares first wives, ex-wives, the first wife a second time (but living next door), oh hell, just wives in general.

It can't be Ryan; he scares seniors, at least those who haven't done him the favor of dying already.

It can't be Pawlenty; he scares himself.

It can't be Rubio; he scares Latinos, or at least Latinos who are brown.

It can't be Condi; she scares Mormons, or at least Mormons who are white.

It can't be Portman; he scares people who remember Bush.

It can't be Jeb; he IS a Bush.

It can't be Paul; he scares people who can't remember a dang thing.

It can't be Jindal; he scares the entire cast of The Simpsons, with the possible exception of Apu at the Kwik-E-Mart.

It can't be Trump; he scares Mr. Burns. Who would have thought THAT possible?

It can't be Haley; she scares the Far Right wing.

It can't be Christie; he scares the entire chicken.

It can't be Ayotte; she scares men.

It can't be McDonnell; he scares women. Well, those know.

It can't be Bachman; she scares the living.

It can't be Cheney; he scares the dead, as well as anyone waiting on a transplant list.

It can't be someone human; too stark a contrast.

That leaves Palin.

Wait, let's start over.

Vulture/Voucher 2012 ?


Romney picking thin lipped and Ayn Rand acolyte Paul Ryan as VP is so Palin-esque it makes me think that the Old Guard Republicans have realized that they were facing sure defeat with Romney as the candidate and knowing there was no way they had time to put up anyone else this close to the convention, instead decided to turn their attention to 2016 and are field testing Ryan and his extremism for that election.

Doing a cut and run on the 2012 Presidency also allows them to focus on the congressional elections and try to lock up the House and Senate with Republican majorities to block any progress by Obama for the next 4 years using the momentum of the present Tea party hysterics. They then can try to regain more central control and discipline by cutting the more radical elements loose before the 2016 election.

I just can't see the Republican party thinking it can win at all with Ryan. He's their death knell. On the other hand, maybe their just that stupid and suffering from the toxicity of their own echo chamber. Who knows with this Teapublican party anymore?

Romney picks Paul Ryan


By Domenico Montanaro and Mark Murray

Mitt Romney's campaign has announced that the presumptive GOP nominee has chosen House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan as his vice-presidential running mate. The two candidates will appear together at a campaign event in Norfolk, VA Saturday morning.

The official announcement will be in front of the U.S.S. Wisconsin -- which just happens to be Ryan's home state.

After three sources close to the Romney campaign indicated to NBC News late Friday night that Ryan would be the pick, the Romney camp issued a press release just after 7:00 am ET, stating: "Mitt Romney & Paul Ryan: America's Comeback Team." Around the same time, the campaign's "VP app" also announced that Ryan would be the choice.

The Romney campaign billed the ticket "America's comeback team" in the release announcing the decision, saying that Ryan "has worked tirelessly leading the effort to reign in federal spending and increase accountability to taxpayers."

With recent national polls showing Romney trailing President Barack Obama, Ryan is a bold pick. He will excite economic conservatives, and is considered one of his party's rising stars.

But his budget plan -- which would substantially transform Medicare and Medicaid -- is a lightning rod. In fact, Democrats argue that Ryan's selection marks an opportunity to highlight Ryan's desired changes to Medicare, which include giving future seniors a voucher or premium support to help pay for their health insurance. Under Ryan's plan, future seniors would have the choice of using the voucher/premium support to purchase private insurance or through Medicare's traditional fee-for-service model.

"We've spent 18 months trying to make House races about their plan for Medicare and Mitt Romney just did it for us overnight," said one Democratic operative.

Ryan had been the focus of intense VP speculation for the last few days. Washington economic conservatives -- including the Wall Street Journal editorial page and the Weekly Standard -- have pushed for his selection.

In addition, Romney told NBC's Chuck Todd on Thursday he was looking for someone with "a vision for the country," who "adds something to the political discourse about the direction of the country" -- a sign that he might make a bold pick in Ryan.

At 11:11 pm ET, the Romney campaign announced that it would be making its VP selection on Saturday. And as First Read reported earlier this week, the VP finalists were Ryan, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, and Ohio Sen. Rob Portman.

This is seriously fucked up


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Needed AP Apology & Retraction


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It's Not Romney


Poor guy...he's going to get slaughtered.
Republicans have lost control of their message, which was a mess to begin with.

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What I said


In a discussion of gay parenting:

Raging Capitalist said:
The facts are obvious here. The child will be raised in an environment where the values of family are at best distorted. The child will be taught values inconsistent with the teachings of the Church's. Please have enough sense to recognize the comment is not about hate as it is often severely confused to be.

So I said:

The actual facts are that you are using Church doctrine to rationalize bigotry which is all too frequently the case in these posts.

Religious thinking is "magical" thinking which cannot be corroborated by any test in the real world and therefore should never be used to demonstrate the validity of human behavior of any sort outside the confines of the religion itself. It has no meaning for people outside of the context of the faith involved. The churches values are certainly not my values and any parallels that might arise are purely coincidental.

If you want to discuss the merits of same sex parenting then it must be done using evidence and reasoning with no appeal to religious thinking since religious thinking is not universal and therefore cannot be used in any meaningful public policy discussion.

Then in another area of the same discussion, I said:

When you have to resort to "faith" rather than reality and facts to bolster your reasons for being anti-gay you have already lost the argument, especially given that Christianity is a minority religion in that most people on the planet don't even believe in it's tenets. Saying you are against same sex adoptions because the parents are inherently "sinners" according to your "faith" isn't just arrogant and majorly judgmental, it's also completely out of touch with reality.

Why I Love Humans #36: Curiosity


The Nasa project of that name, I mean.

The 7 Minutes of Terror

Now it's all up to NASA's Curiosity rover

By Alan Boyle

After eight years of planning and eight months of interplanetary travel, NASA's Mars Science Laboratory is expected to pull off a touchdown of Super Bowl proportions without any further human assistance.

The $2.5 billion probe is right on target for its designated landing zone in 96-mile-wide (154-kilometer-wide) Gale Crater -- so much on target that mission managers decided to pass up their last scheduled opportunity to upload fresh data on the spacecraft's position, said mission team member John Essmiller.

That means that if everything proceeds as expected, scientists and engineers here at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory will merely be watching along with everyone else from now until they're due to receive word of Mars Science Laboratory's landing at 10:31 p.m. PT Sunday (1:31 a.m. ET Monday).

"We're all along for the ride," said Adam Steltzner, the JPL engineer in charge of the spacecraft's landing sequence.

Studying the chemistry of life
The Mars Science Laboratory mission is aimed at putting the 1-ton, car-sized Curiosity rover on the surface inside Gale Crater. Scientists say a 3-mile-high (5-kilometer-high) mountain inside the crater could preserve billions of years' worth of geological history, shedding light on the planet's transition from its warmer, wetter past to its current cold, dry climate.

Curiosity is the biggest and most capable robotic laboratory ever sent to another celestial body: Its 10 scientific instruments are designed to study the chemistry of Mars' rocks, soil and atmosphere and determine whether the Red Planet had the right stuff to be habitable in ancient times. Some scientists think Curiosity could even detect the signs of present-day life, although NASA doesn't go that far.

A successful landing would open the way for at least two years of exploration, potentially reinvigorating America's space program. Failure could kick off a years-long cycle of soul-searching.

UPDATE: NASA's Curiosity rover scores touchdown on Mars

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My first exposure to Vidal's work was when as a teenager I read Last Exit to Brooklyn and realized that not all adults were idiots or liars and that truth could be told. An especially delicious memory of Vidal for me can be found in the acerbic debates he had with his great conservative opponent William Buckley who once said of Vidal, "Did I not despise the man so much he would be quite the dear friend."

A five part interview of the two men offering their opinions of the 1968 Democratic Convention protests and the police riots that occurred can be found here.

Celebrated author, playwright Gore Vidal dies at 86

By Hillel Italie and Andrew Dalton

gore.vidal.jpgAuthor, playwright, politician and commentator Gore Vidal, whose vast and sharpened range of published works and public remarks were stamped by his immodest wit and unconventional wisdom, died Tuesday at age 86 in Los Angeles.

Vidal died at his home in the Hollywood Hills at about 6:45 p.m. of complications from pneumonia, his nephew Burr Steers said. Vidal had been living alone in the home and had been sick for "quite a while," Steers said.

In a world more to his liking, Vidal might have been president, or even king. He had an aristocrat's bearing -- tall, handsome and composed -- and an authoritative baritone ideal for summoning an aide or courtier.

But Vidal made his living -- a very good living -- from challenging power, not holding it. He was wealthy and famous and committed to exposing a system often led by men he knew firsthand. During the days of Franklin Roosevelt, one of the few leaders whom Vidal admired, he might have been called a "traitor to his class." The real traitors, Vidal would respond, were the upholders of his class.

Vidal "meant everything to me when I was learning how to write and learning how to read," Dave Eggers said at the 2009 National Book Awards ceremony, where he and Vidal received honorary citations. "His words, his intellect, his activism, his ability and willingness to always speak up and hold his government accountable, especially, has been so inspiring to me I can't articulate it."

A genuine celebrity
Along with such contemporaries as Norman Mailer and Truman Capote, he was among the last generation of literary writers who were also genuine celebrities -- regulars on talk shows and in gossip columns, personalities of such size and appeal that even those who hadn't read their books knew their names.

His works included hundreds of essays, the best-selling novels "Lincoln" and "Myra Breckenridge" and the Tony-nominated play "The Best Man," a melodrama about a presidential convention revived on Broadway in 2012. Vidal appeared cold and cynical on the surface, dispassionately predicting the fall of democracy, the American empire's decline or the destruction of the environment. But he bore a melancholy regard for lost worlds, for reason and the primacy of the written word, for "the ancient American sense that whatever is wrong with human society can be put right by human action."

Vidal was uncomfortable with the literary and political establishment, and the feeling was mutual. Beyond his honorary National Book Award, he won few major writing prizes, lost both times he ran for office and initially declined membership into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, joking that he already belonged to the Diners Club. (He was eventually admitted, in 1999).

But he was widely admired as an independent thinker -- in the tradition of Mark Twain and H.L. Mencken -- about literature, culture, politics and, as he liked to call it, "the birds and the bees." He picked apart politicians, living and dead; mocked religion and prudery; opposed wars from Vietnam to Iraq and insulted his peers like no other, once observing that the three saddest words in the English language were "Joyce Carol Oates." (The happiest words: "I told you so").

Ralph Ellison labeled him a "campy patrician." Vidal had an old-fashioned belief in honor, but a modern will to live as he pleased. He wrote in the memoir "Palimpsest" that he had more than 1,000 "sexual encounters," nothing special, he added, compared to the pursuits of such peers as John F. Kennedy and Tennessee Williams. Vidal was fond of drink and alleged that he had sampled every major drug, once. He never married and for decades shared a scenic villa in Ravello, Italy, with companion Howard Austen.

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