Saturday, August 31, 2013
Monday, August 26, 2013
This week is not a necessarily good blogging week. Tonight I have AA; tomorrow I have my work night; Wednesday AA; Thursday the first Pride Festival meeting for next year; Friday...well...Friday maybe; and then I work the weekend. But Miss B is channeling my inner spirit animal so it's all good.
In other news, now I did not watch the VMAs...but Miley Cyrus...discuss!
As for my weekend, I learned that Jesse James held up a small store in my home county - this being the highlight of my weekend!
I then began working on 1001 MOVIES YOU MUST SEE BEFORE YOU DIIIIIIIE...which because of someone adding all the different editions together is more like 1103 (or possibly 1301) MOVIES YOU MUST SEE BEFORE YOU DIIIIIEEE. I started with the last one: The Artist. Which I highly, highly enjoyed.
Speaking of movies, last week I got to watch a version of Pirates of Penzance starring Kevin Kline and Linda Ronstadt, and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed LR, which made this make me ache quite a bit.
Up next for 1001+ MYMSBYDIIIIIIIE? Hugo...which I will try to watch again. I totally blame my expectations for me not liking it the first time.
Thursday, August 22, 2013
...and declines invitation to Russian film festival. In other news, the sky is blue.
But how is this news? I started watching Buffy in the early Aughts, and I was told he'd come out around that time. (Buffy cause he was in an episode.)
More via BuzzFeed
Image from The Telegraph
I want to thank everybody who has supported me over the last three years. Throughout this long ordeal, your letters of support and encouragement have helped keep me strong. I am forever indebted to those who wrote to me, made a donation to my defense fund, or came to watch a portion of the trial. I would especially like to thank Courage to Resist and the Bradley Manning Support Network for their tireless efforts in raising awareness for my case and providing for my legal representation.
As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me. I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female. Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. I hope that you will support me in this transition. I also request that, starting today, you refer to me by my new name and use the feminine pronoun (except in official mail to the confinement facility). I look forward to receiving letters from supporters and having the opportunity to write back.
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Via Huffington Post
In September 2012 the Library Board of Pulaski County raised property taxes $1 per year for a typical homeowner to maintain the existing level of services in its five libraries. Voters were not given the opportunity to reject the increase; in 2006 however, they were and resoundingly approved a much larger increase to finance a new library.
But in 2006 the county and the country did not have a Tea Party. That movement sprang up early 2009 in fury at the federal government's attempt to help millions of people facing foreclosure stay in their homes. In 2010 it escalated into a full-throated attack on the federal government's attempt to expand medical care access to tens of millions. By 2012 the Tea Party movement's virulent anti-government, anti-tax philosophy and take-no-prisoners, I'm-not-my-brother's-keeper attitude had come to define American politics.
Pulaski County Tea Partiers, justifying their fury by noting the $1 increase had not been voted on by the people began circulating a petition to dissolve the library tax district completely. The effort's leader declared her group would stop accumulating signatures only if all members of the current library board resigned.
The Board did not resign and ultimately the petitioners found they had too little time to gather the necessary signatures. But the Tea Party had demonstrated its strength and revealed its willingness to use scorched earth tactics.
A year before the Pulaski library district raised property taxes without asking voter permission, the Campbell County Library Board proposed a $20 per year tax increase to finance the construction of a new library in the underserved southern part of the County. It would submit the proposal to voters on the November 2012 ballot.
In six public hearings Tea Party members tried to stop the project from being on the ballot. When they failed they asked a lawyer to identify ways to halt the project. He came across a 1964 statute that prohibited library taxing district formed by a petition from voters -- as the Campbell County district was -- to change its tax rate without a petition signed by at least 51 percent of voters in the last election. In January 2012, eleven months before the voters were to decide the issue (they rejected the project) several Tea Party members went to court. A few months later tea party members in Kenton, a neighboring County, did the same.
Library districts argued that they were governed by a 1979 law enacted when high inflation threatened to erode basic services like sewers, sanitation, roads, fire protection and libraries. That law allowed the voters to establish a special purpose taxing district with the authority to raise taxes by 4 percent per year without a popular vote. For 34 years public libraries had operated under that statute. Until the Tea Party suit no one had questioned their right to do so.
In April 2013 two Circuit Court Judges upheld the Tea Party's argument. Judge Julie Reinhardt Ward ruled that the earlier statute trumped the 1979 law. "...(A) library tax created by a petition of the people of a county can only be changed by a petition of the people of that county." Little more than a week later Circuit Court Judge Patricia Summe ruled that Kenton County likewise had been improperly raising taxes since its founding in 1967. The Courts ordered Campbell County to roll back its rates to 1978 levels and Kenton County back to 1967.
By July Tea Party members had filed suits against three more County libraries in northern Kentucky. The courts' decisions could have wide repercussions since 90 percent of library funding in Kentucky comes from local property taxes and 79 out of 106 library districts in Kentucky would be affected by these rulings.
If the courts decisions are upheld and extended, Campbell County's library budget would be slashed by 55 percent, Anderson County's by 60 percent, Montgomery County by 70.
After the first court decision Eric Hermes, one of the lead plaintiffs in the original lawsuit proclaimed, "The people of Campbell County won." To him the Tea Party had struck a blow for freedom. "Our country was founded upon those taking action against tyrannic government."
Tyrannic government? Even though libraries believed they had the authority under the 1979 law to raise taxes 4 percent per year actually they exercised that authority judiciously. From 1978 to 2012 Campbell County raised its library taxes by a total of $45 or 2 percent per year, far below the rate of inflation. Since 1967, Anderson County's library taxing district increased its taxes about 1 percent per year and had not raised the rate since 2009.
During 2012, Kentucky State Auditor Adam Edelen conducted a survey of all special taxing districts in Kentucky. The Auditor's final report cited library districts as models of transparency and accountability, with strong governance and excellent fiscal oversight.
None of that placated the Tea Party. Right after the Campbell County court decision they asked the Judge to place in escrow $2.7 million, more than 55 percent of the library's tax revenue. Doing so would effectively decimate the library system.
Kentucky legislators could fix the problem but they've indicated they won't do anything until a higher court has ruled on it. That could be a year off. Meanwhile cities have to budget for the next fiscal year and any new debt will be considered more risky by investors.
It is both instructive and revealing that the Tea Party would challenge so energetically such a hallowed institution as the public library. One hundred eighty years almost to the day the Kentucky circuit courts issued their decisions, the good citizens of Peterborough, New Hampshire created a radical, uniquely American concept--a taxpayer supported library. All town residents, regardless of income, had the right to freely share the community's stored knowledge. Their only obligation was to return the information on time and in good condition, allowing others to exercise that same right. By 1910 all states had a public library network. Today 9,000 central buildings plus about 7500 branches have made public libraries one of the most ubiquitous of all American institutions. Campbell County's 63,000 residents possess almost 30,000 library cards. Kenton County's library system's million annual visitors not only borrow books and DVDs; they use its computers and its meeting rooms and rely on librarians to help them do their homework or ferret out information about jobs and government services.
The Tea Party argues that a library tax increase of any size, no matter how trivial, is unwarranted because of economic hardship. A far more compelling argument is that times of economic distress demand a larger, not as smaller information commons. When the Great Depression hit in the 1930s public libraries were serving 60 percent of the population. They had so proven their value that very few libraries closed their doors during the 1930s. Indeed, between 1930 and 1940, the nation became home to 765 new ones. In a time of soup lines and economic destitution, the library was known as the "bread line of the spirit". The Packhorse Librarians of Kentucky became famous for their willingness to ride horses with saddlebags full of books to rural households.
In response to the Tea Party lawsuit, one Kentuckian mother wrote about the enormous financial benefit her family gained from participating in the information commons. Her family of six visits the library regularly. They have access to over 550,000 books, CDs, newspapers, magazines, movies and video games. The amount of money her family saves by using the libraries' many resources far surpasses the property tax they pay.
Which is the foundational principle of the public library. We all chip in a little bit to gain access to a free resource beyond our individual budgets. The public library proves that sharing is the wisest of all investments.
On the Northern Kentucky Tea Party blog, Legate Damar asks, "Why should my neighbors be able to rent non-educational DVDs and video games at a cost to the tax payer when I rent mine at Redbox? Redbox charges a $1.27 per movie including taxes which I think is a steal." First of all, no one rents anything from the library. They borrow it from their community. Second, the economic case for going to the library rather than Redbox is incontestable. Assuming I borrow just one DVD a week, I'll save some $70 a year, as much or more than my household pays in taxes for the entire library.
Revealingly, the Tea Party's vigilance over the dollar we spend for public services doesn't seem to extend to the dollar we spend for private services, even when they are supplied by regulated monopolies. In Kentucky the rates of cable companies, the phone companies, the electric utilities are all subject to government oversight. But when Kentucky utilities recently proposed to increase utility bills ten times more than any proposed library tax the Tea Party was MIA. According to the FCC cable companies raised their prices at twice the rate of inflation from 1995 to 2010, boosting the average household's bill by an astonishing $400 a year. The Tea Party circulated no petitions. Its members filed no lawsuits.
But if a library raises taxes by $1 a year the tea party's pitchforks appear, the Declaration of Independence is waved, the Founding Fathers invoked, an American-as-apple-pie institution forcefully attacked.
If the courts uphold the decision most counties in Kentucky will require a 51 percent vote simply to keep their libraries open. The turnout in off year elections is notoriously low and negative voters usually turn out in much higher numbers. If the initiatives lose each Kentucky household will be $50 richer. But their communities will be immeasurably poorer.
Via Huffington Post
Nir Arieli's portrait series "Men" places men in traditionally feminine spaces and postures, illuminating the human characteristics that have, over time, become decidedly feminine traits. The following male muses are making us wish men felt free to explore their feminine sides more often. Behold, 11 reasons men should get in touch with a softer self.
British actor Benedict Cumberbatch had a suggestion for the photographers camped outside the BBC Sherlock set Saturday in Cardiff, Wales. As he exited his trailer, Cumberbatch hid his face behind a hooded jacket and glasses and held up a sign reading, “Go photograph Egypt and show the world something important.”
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
Books at the library get handled. A lot. And, therefore, they must be replaced, and in the replacing I find older titles that I never knew about or only marginally knew about and find new-to-me titles that I want to read.
From Roger Rosenblatt, author of the bestsellers Making Toast and Unless It Moves the Human Heart, comes a moving meditation on the passages of grief, the solace of solitude, and the redemptive power of love.
In Making Toast, Roger Rosenblatt shared the story of his family in the days and months after the death of his thirty-eight-year-old daughter, Amy. Now, in Kayak Morning, he offers a personal meditation on grief itself. “Everybody grieves,” he writes. From that terse, melancholy observation emerges a work of art that addresses the universal experience of loss.
On a quiet Sunday morning, two and a half years after Amy’s death, Roger heads out in his kayak. He observes,“You can’t always make your way in the world by moving up. Or down, for that matter. Boats move laterally on water, which levels everything. It is one of the two great levelers.” Part elegy, part quest, Kayak Morning explores Roger’s years as a journalist, the comforts of literature, and the value of solitude, poignantly reminding us that grief is not apart from life but encompasses it. In recalling to us what we have lost, grief by necessity resurrects what we have had.
David Sedaris's beloved holiday collection is new again with six more pieces, including a never before published story. Along with such favorites as the diaries of a Macy's elf and the annals of two very competitive families, are Sedaris's tales of tardy trick-or-treaters ("Us and Them"); the difficulties of explaining the Easter Bunny to the French ("Jesus Shaves"); what to do when you've been locked out in a snowstorm ("Let It Snow"); the puzzling Christmas traditions of other nations ("Six to Eight Black Men"); what Halloween at the medical examiner's looks like ("The Monster Mash"); and a barnyard secret Santa scheme gone awry ("Cow and Turkey").
No matter what your favorite holiday, you won't want to miss celebrating it with the author who has been called "one of the funniest writers alive" (Economist).
In this series of notes, opinions, experiences, and reflections, Thomas Merton examines some of the most urgent questions of our age. With his characteristic forcefulness and candor, he brings the reader face-to-face with such provocative and controversial issues as the “death of God,” politics, modern life and values, and racial strife–issues that are as relevant today as they were fifty years ago.
Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander is Merton at his best–detached but not unpassionate, humorous yet sensitive, at all times alive and searching, with a gift for language which has made him one of the most widely read and influential spiritual writers of our time.
"Equal parts Groucho Marx and Stephen Jay Gould, both enlightening and entertaining."—Sunday Denver Post & Rocky Mountain News
The best-selling author of Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers now trains her considerable wit and curiosity on the human soul. What happens when we die? Does the light just go out and that's that—the million-year nap? Or will some part of my personality, my me-ness persist? What will that feel like? What will I do all day? Is there a place to plug in my lap-top?" In an attempt to find out, Mary Roach brings her tireless curiosity to bear on an array of contemporary and historical soul-searchers: scientists, schemers, engineers, mediums, all trying to prove (or disprove) that life goes on after we die. She begins the journey in rural India with a reincarnation researcher and ends up in a University of Virginia operating room where cardiologists have installed equipment near the ceiling to study out-of-body near-death experiences. Along the way, she enrolls in an English medium school, gets electromagnetically haunted at a university in Ontario, and visits a Duke University professor with a plan to weigh the consciousness of a leech. Her historical wanderings unearth soul-seeking philosophers who rummaged through cadavers and calves' heads, a North Carolina lawsuit that established legal precedence for ghosts, and the last surviving sample of "ectoplasm" in a Cambridge University archive.
In the rush of modern life, we tend to lose touch with the peace that is available in each moment. World-renowned Zen master, spiritual leader, and author Thich Nhat Hanh shows us how to make positive use of the very situations that usually pressure and antagonize us. For him a ringing telephone can be a signal to call us back to our true selves. Dirty dishes, red lights, and traffic jams are spiritual friends on the path to "mindfulness"—the process of keeping our consciousness alive to our present experience and reality. The most profound satisfactions, the deepest feelings of joy and completeness lie as close at hand as our next aware breath and the smile we can form right now.
Lucidly and beautifully written, Peace Is Every Step contains commentaries and meditations, personal anecdotes and stories from Nhat Hanh's experiences as a peace activist, teacher, and community leader. It begins where the reader already is—in the kitchen, office, driving a car, walking a part—and shows how deep meditative presence is available now. Nhat Hanh provides exercises to increase our awareness of our own body and mind through conscious breathing, which can bring immediate joy and peace. Nhat Hanh also shows how to be aware of relationships with others and of the world around us, its beauty and also its pollution and injustices. the deceptively simple practices of Peace Is Every Step encourage the reader to work for peace in the world as he or she continues to work on sustaining inner peace by turning the "mindless" into the mindFUL.
In this modern spiritual classic, a world spiritual leader and Zen master shows how to adapt simple Zen principles for daily living and the way to peace--the first practical book on the subject since Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind. Peace Is Every Step offers ways to use everyday events--washing dishes, eating a meal, sitting in traffic--in the quest for peace and fulfillment.
Why do we routinely choose options that don’t meet our short-term needs and undermine our long-term goals? Why do we willingly expose ourselves to temptations that undercut our hard-fought progress to overcome addictions? Why are we prone to assigning meaning to statistically common coincidences? Why do we insist we’re right even when evidence contradicts us? This book reveals a remarkable paradox: what your brain wants is frequently not what your brain needs. In fact, much of what makes our brains "happy" leads to errors, biases, and distortions, which make getting out of our own way extremely difficult. The author's search includes forays into evolutionary and social psychology, cognitive science, neurology, and even marketing and economics—as well as interviews with many of the top thinkers in psychology and neuroscience today. From this research-based platform, DiSalvo draws out insights that we can use to identify our brains’ foibles and turn our awareness into edifying action. Ultimately, he argues, the research does not serve up ready-made answers, but provides us with actionable clues for overcoming the plight of our advanced brains and, consequently, living more fulfilled lives.
Image via Time Photos
Mystery writer Elmore Leonard has died at age 87.
From the Washington Post:
What made Mr. Leonard stand out among other chroniclers of crime and punishment was his voice — laconic, funny, unsentimental — and his ruthlessly coherent vision of life in the lower depths. As described in a 2008 Washington Post profile, Mr. Leonard’s world is “populated by cops who aren’t exactly good, crooks who aren’t exactly bad, and women who have an eye for the in-between.”
Via Wonkblog: How Elmore Leonard wrote all his books
Monday, August 19, 2013
I'm currently reading this one:
T.H. White, whose The Sword in the Stone has been read by hundreds of thousands, now at last has turned his hand to retelling the entire Arthurian Epic. The Once and Future King takes Arthur from the glorious lyrical phase of his youth through the disillusioning early years of his reign to the mature years in which his vision of the Round Table develops into the search for the Holy Grail and finally to his weary old age. In part, T.H. White has drawn on published material which he has revised and reworked heavily to bring form and continuity to an overall work, a tetralogy which will stand as unique and vivid and quite apart from the individual effects of the various particular books. And in part the author has created new material as enchanting as any he has ever set on paper.
When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe. From New York Times bestselling writer Brian K. Vaughan (Y: The Last Man, Ex Machina) and critically acclaimed artist Fiona Staples (Mystery Society, North 40), Saga is the sweeping tale of one young family fighting to find their place in the worlds. Fantasy and science fiction are wed like never before in this sexy, subversive drama for adults.
This specially priced volume collects the first six issues of the smash-hit series The Onion A.V. Club calls "the emotional epic Hollywood wishes it could make."
Winner of the 2013 Eisner Awards for Best New Series and Best Continuing Series.
Brian K. Vaughan is the winner of the 2013 Eisner Award for Best Writer for Saga
"[Andrea Barrett's] work stands out for its sheer intelligence…The overall effect is quietly dazzling."—New York Times Book Review
Winner of the National Book Award for her collection of stories Ship Fever, Andrea Barrett has become one of our most admired and beloved writers. In this magnificent new book, she unfolds five pivotal moments in the lives of her characters and in the history of knowledge.
During the summer of 1908, twelve-year-old Constantine Boyd is witness to an explosion of home-spun investigation — from experiments with cave-dwelling fish without eyes to scientifically bred crops to motorized bicycles and the flight of an early aeroplane. In 1920, a popular science writer and young widow tries, immediately after the bloodbath of the First World War, to explain the new theory of relativity to an audience (herself included) desperate to believe in an “ether of space” housing spirits of the dead. Half a century earlier, in 1873, a famous biologist struggles to maintain his sense of the hierarchies of nature as Darwin’s new theory of evolution threatens to make him ridiculous in the eyes of a precocious student. The twentieth-century realms of science and war collide in the last two stories, as developments in genetics and X-ray technology that had once held so much promise fail to protect humans—among them, a young American soldier, Constantine Boyd, sent to Archangel, Russia, in 1919—from the failures of governments and from the brutality of war.
In these brilliant fictions rich with fact, Barrett explores the thrill and sense of loss that come with scientific progress and the personal passions and impersonal politics that shape all human knowledge.
Bestselling author Carolyn Jess-Cooke has written a brilliant novel of suspense that delves into the recesses of the human mind and soul—perfect for fans of Gillian Flynn and Lisa Unger. The Boy Who Could See Demons follows a child psychologist who comes up against a career-defining case—one that threatens to unravel her own painful past and jeopardizes the life of a boy who can see the impossible.
Dr. Anya Molokova, a child psychiatrist, is called in to work at MacNeice House, an adolescent mental health treatment center. There she is told to observe and assess Alex Connolly, a keenly intelligent, sensitive ten-year-old coping with his mother’s latest suicide attempt. Alex is in need of serious counseling: He has been harming himself and others, often during blackouts. At the root of his destructive behavior, Alex claims, is his imaginary “friend” Ruen, a cunning demon who urges Alex to bend to his often violent will.
But Anya has seen this kind of behavior before—with her own daughter, Poppy, who suffered from early-onset schizophrenia. Determined to help Alex out of his darkness, Anya begins to treat the child. But soon strange and alarming coincidences compel Anya to wonder: Is Alex’s condition a cruel trick of the mind? Or is Ruen not so make-believe after all? The reality, it turns out, is more terrifying than anything she has ever encountered.
A rich and deeply moving page-turner, The Boy Who Could See Demons sets out to challenge the imagination and capture the way life takes unexpected turns. In the best storytelling tradition, it leaves the reader changed.
It's the first summer of lust for 14-year-old Jim Finnegan, a boy trying to become a man in 1980s Dublin. Jim's vivid and winning voice leaps off the page and into the reader's heart as he watches his parents argue, his five older sisters fight, and the local network of mothers gossip. Jim hilariously recounts his life dealing with the politics of his boisterous family, taking breakneck bike rides with his best friend, dancing to Foreigner on his boombox, and quietly coveting the local girls from afar.
Over the summer, Jim wins the attention of a beautiful older girl-but he also becomes the unwilling target of a devious religious figure in the community. His life starts to unravel as he faces consequences from both his love for his girlfriend and his attempts to avoid the Parish Priest. When he and his girlfriend take a ferry for a clandestine trip to London, the dark and difficult repercussions from the trip force Jim to look for the solution to all his problems in some very unusual places.
THE FIELDS is an unforgettable story of an extraordinary character. It's a portrait of a boy who sinks into troubles as he grows into a man, and the loving but fractured family that might be his downfall-or his salvation. Lyrical, funny, and endlessly inventive, it is a brilliant debut from a remarkable new voice.
In other words, hey, y'all. :)
Thursday, August 8, 2013
Image via Towleroad
He was an early Real World cast member and AIDS activist.
Sean Sasser, whose marriage to fellow Real World star Pedro Zamora was considered a landmark moment in TV history and pre-dated legal marriages in California by nearly a decade, has died. He was 44.
Judd Winick, who also appeared on The Real World: San Francisco, mentioned the news on Twitter, writing, "Our friend Sean Sasser has died. Our love goes out to his family & husband Michael. We will miss u so much."
Zamora died in 1994, hours after the season finale aired, says MTV. Sasser, who was also HIV-positive, went on to work for political and social organizations and become a well-known AIDS activist, says MTV.
According to his life partner, Michael Kaplan, Sasser died of mesothelioma, a rare cancer of the lungs. According to Queerty, Sasser was living in Washington and working as a pastry chef.
Sunday, August 4, 2013
While I've liked Peter Capaldi in both Doctor Who and Torchwood, I find it strange that a) they're going back up in age - it seemed the Doctor was simply going to get younger and younger, though I guess a Doctor wearing diapers would not have worked - and b) he's been in both (as I said) Doctor Who and Torchwood so it seems strange to then make him the Doctor.
Saturday, August 3, 2013
Image via news.com.au
Other than the usual stupidity, I mean.
Caroline Criado-Perez, the feminist activist who successfully campaigned to make Jane Austen the new face of Britain's 10-pound note, has been inundated with hundreds of death and rape threats on Twitter after the banknote news broke last week. Criado-Perez responded by retweeting the threats to her followers. Some of the more printable examples include: "I will find you and you don't want to know what I will do when I do, you're pathetic, kill yourself before i do." and "Hey sweetheart, give me a call when you're ready to be put in your place." British police arrested a man over the weekend "on suspicion of harassment offences," but the threats didn't stop. When British Parliament member Stella Creasy spoke out in support of Criado-Perez, she also received rape threats, which she in turn retweeted. This has sparked debate in the U.K. about whether Twitter is responsible for regulating such threats. CNN reports: "Twitter UK's General Manager Tony Wang said the social-networking company takes online abuse very seriously, offering to suspend accounts, and called on people to report any 'violation of Twitter rules.' " Separately, one of the world's most eminent classicists, Mary Beard, promised Monday to publicly shame those who send her misogynistic messages on Twitter, tweeting, "I'm not going to be terrorised." A man who purportedly sent the Cambridge professor crude messages Monday swiftly begged her forgiveness after another Twitter user threatened to tell his mother what he had written.
I'm not sure why of all the news that came through this week, this made me break my blogger silence, but of all the news I've read it has the most "what the fuck"ness of the rest.