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Archive for July, 2013

The Wheel of Pain…for Dogs.

“The Turnspit Dog, 1500-1900 – A dog specifically bred to run on a small wheel in order to turn meat so it would cook evenly. This took both courage, to stand near the fire, and loyalty, to not to eat the roast. Due to the strenuous nature of the work, a pair of dogs would often work in shifts. This most likely led to the proverb ‘every dog has his day.'”

Time to raise Berk’s retirement age? By way of the re-designed Quiddity, which has tons of intriguing posts up at the moment, a curious history of dog-powered engines. “The last illustration displays a very unique, but now extinct, dog called the Turnspit…bred in Britain for hundreds of years to help with cooking and is the original ‘working dog.'”

Manning Down.

“The ‘aiding the enemy; charge was so preposterous on its face, and so evil in its intent, that it tended to obscure how contrary to acceptable American jurisprudence the entire situation — from his detention to his trial — regarding Bradley Manning was. But it was in that charge that this administration — this Democratic administration, headed by a former professor of constitutional law — demonstrated its willingness, if not its eagerness — to elevate information into a tin god to whom we are all suppliants, and against whom we have no civil rights worthy of the name.”

As the Bradley Manning trial moves to sentencing — I wrote about the case here in March — Esquire’s Charlie Pierce wonders again how we got so far down the rabbit hole. Honestly, we should have a pretty good sense, at this late date, that prosecuting anyone under the godforsaken Espionage Act is generally a terrible idea.

Referring to the most venomous of the charges, which Manning thankfully escaped — that he was willfully “aiding the Enemy” by blowing the whistle on Army misdeeds — Pierce writes: “That anyone in this government thought this is a good idea is something worth studying. Manning’s going to go to jail from now until Christ alone knows when. The people who thought this up are still going to have good government jobs. Something’s not right with that.” Amen.

Heard that Hoot Owl Singing.

The Roots on New Years’ Eve notwithstanding, I’ve been derelict about posting on live entertainment I’ve seen this year, like Louis CK in Baltimore, The Motherf**ker with the Hat at Studio Theater, The Last Five Years in Shirlington, Dean Fields in Arlington and The Postal Service at Merriweather Post.

All that being said, since there’s an especially clear precedent here — 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 — I shouldn’t neglect to mention I caught my tenth Dylan show two weeks ago, as part of the Americana Music Festival (with Ryan Bingham, My Morning Jacket, and Wilco). Here’s the setlist:

Things Have Changed | Love Sick | High Water (For Charley Patton) | Soon After Midnight | Early Roman Kings | Tangled Up In Blue | Duquesne Whistle | She Belongs To Me | Beyond Here Lies Nothin’ | A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall | Blind Willie McTell | Simple Twist Of Fate | Thunder On The Mountain | All Along The Watchtower | Ballad Of A Thin Man

Perhaps it’s because the setlists are fluctuating less this tour, or he’s playing a shorter set, or he’s just inspired by the bands he’s touring with, but this was actually the best I’ve heard Bob sound in awhile. He seemed animated and his voice, while always gravelly these days, sounded more mellifluous than it’s been in many a moon. “Things Have Changed” and “Ballad of a Thin Man” are always favorites, but the highlight for me this time around was finally catching Blind Willie McTell live — You can see it as well above, thanks to Joanna’s Visions.

Also, due to the vagaries of having a job and all that — the festival started at 4:30pm over in Columbia, MD — we missed Ryan Bingham’s set and all but the last song of My Morning Jacket, but here was the evening for the Wilco-inclined (who were also very good):

Ashes of American Flags | Bull Black Nova | Blood of the Lamb | Christ for President | I Am Trying to Break Your Heart | Art of Almost | Jesus, Etc. | Can’t Stand It | Born Alone | Passenger Side | I Got You (At the End of the Century) | Heavy Metal Drummer | I’m the Man Who Loves You | Dawned on Me | A Shot in the Arm | The Lonely 1

So Booker’s a Bust.

“If he is elected to the Senate, Newark Mayor Cory Booker says he will bring a spirit of ‘entrepreneurship’ that the federal government lacks.” Entrepreneurship? Really? Of all the many worthwhile virtues you could have chosen, you emerge with that trite, Powerpoint-y nugget? Oh, hell no. Like the Senate really needs another erstwhile “progressive” who spends all of his days engaging in corporate seminar happy talk.

Like many others, I first began to get a queasy feeling about him when he started shilling for Bain Capital during the election last year. Nonetheless, this recent interview makes clear that Newark Mayor Cory Booker, his enjoyable Twitter feed and hometown heroics notwithstanding, is yet another Carcetti in the making. To wit:

“For Social Security, Booker said he opposes raising the retirement age for most people in the country — except, perhaps, for people in their 20s or younger –- because the country made promises to them.” (my emphasis) — WRONG ANSWER.

Despite all the “Social Security is Doomed!”-type hysteria you see regularly oozing forth from the well-funded Pete Petersons of the world, the Social Security Trust Fund is in fine shape, and would be in even better standing if we worked harder to get the economy moving again. And, to do that, if anything the retirement age should be lowered, so that jobs free up for younger workers.

Also, at a time when the American Dream is on the verge of foundering for all but the wealthiest few, Social Security benefits should be MORE generous, not less. Putting money in consumer’s hands helps to grow the economy — We’ve known this for eighty years now.

But way to illustrate an innate mastery of the nonsense language that is Grand Bargain Washington-ese, before even setting foot in this town. It’s like you’ve been to the same fundraisers or something. And here’s more from the same interview:

“And he said he believes the federal government has gone too far in its secret surveillance programs, but he called Holt’s position that Congress should throw out the Patriot Act and start over ‘a little irresponsible.’ (my emphasis) WRONG ANSWER.

Really, at this late date, do I really have to explain why the PATRIOT Act was a terrible overreach and thoroughly un-American piece of legislation? We’ve already seen Senate Dems fold like an accordion on this issue in 2006 and 2011. But, here again, notice how Booker is pulling an Obama and hemming and hawing about how the surveillance state is out of whack, all the while promising to maintain its fundament, foundation, and cornerstone.

Yeah, sorry, Mayor Booker. Like I said, you appear to have done well in Newark, and keeping it real on Twitter is fun and all. But we hardly need any more mealy-mouthed Third Way types parroting pro-business talking points and Beltway pablum in the United States Senate. No mas.

The Arctic Depression.

“The release of methane from thawing permafrost beneath the East Siberian Sea, off northern Russia, alone comes with an average global price tag of $60 trillion in the absence of mitigating action — a figure comparable to the size of the world economy in 2012 (about $70 trillion). The total cost of Arctic change will be much higher.”

A new scientific analysis estimates the global cost of the melting Arctic, and it’s extremely terribad — $60 TRILLION bad. “Many experts now say that if recent trends continue and Arctic sea ice continues its ‘death spiral,’ we will see a ‘near ice-free Arctic in summer’ within a decade. That may well usher in a permanent change toward extreme, prolonged weather events ‘such as drought, flooding, cold spells and heat waves.'” So, hey, instead of working to address this multi-trillion dollar crisis before it hits, let’s just spend years and years and years sweating the deficit. Now, that’s leadership.

Update Per Mother Jones, the potentiality of such a methane bomb is in some dispute: “Bear in mind that there are many good reasons to be skeptical of a methane disaster — it is hardly a matter of scientific consensus that this is a real concern. And that stands in stark contrast to the issue of climate change in general, an issue on which scientists are overwhelmingly aligned (and where the solution remains incredibly obvious: cutting carbon emissions).”

Orange is the Same Old Black.

“Last month, President Obama quietly did something that should shake every American to the core. Seeking to enforce federal crack cocaine laws that have since been repealed, the Obama administration asked a federal appeals court to ensure that thousands of human beings, mostly poor and mostly black, remain locked in prison – even though everyone agrees that there is no justification for them to be there.”

Yet another for the Hope-and-Change file: Obama’s DOJ urges the Courts to keep prisoners convicted under outdated sentencing requirements in jail, because…because…well, it’s hard to fathom, really. “For several years, federal judges have done nothing to remedy this injustice; one famously concluded that the prisoners sentenced under the old law had simply ‘lost on a temporal roll of the cosmic dice”. So, there are American citizens serving tens of thousands of years in prison because, according to all three branches of government, it’s just their tough luck?”

If you’re keeping score at home, folks, Obama’s Department of Justice has basically said at this point that whistleblowers and non-violent drug offenders should get the book thrown at them, but economy-toppling banksters and torturers should walk free. Yessir, they’re really speaking truth-to-power over at DOJ these days. What a courageous bunch.

That Foul-Mouthed Doctor..Who?

“His briefing notes were written in alphabetti spaghetti! When I left, I nearly tripped up over his f**king umbilical cord…Apparently, your f**king master race of highly-gifted toddlers can’t quite get the job done between breast feeds and playing with their Power Rangers. So, an actual grown-up has been asked to f**king bail you out!”

Sorry, Anthony Weiner’s Comm Director, you’re doing it wrong (although TPM should’ve obviously known that unfortunate rant was off-the-record.) In any case, Buzzfeed offers 21 Simple Ways to Swear Like Malcolm Tucker. Is this something Doctor #12 might have to keep in mind…?

Update: “‘It’s so wonderful not to keep this secret any longer, but it’s been so fantastic,’ he said after the news was revealed on a live BBC One show.” Capaldi it is. Great choice, and he’s a longtime Dr. Who fanboy to boot.

The Minimum is Not Enough.

“As of today, it’s been four years since the last increase in the federal minimum wage, to $7.25 per hour, or $15,000 per year for full-time work…[T]he current level, by all measures, is just too low…[I]f it had kept up with inflation since its peak in 1968, the federal minimum wage would now be $10.75 an hour. And if the minimum wage had grown along with workers’ productivity, it would be as high as $17.19 today.”

After four years of inaction, CEPR examines the costs of a stagnant minimum wage. Conversely, raising the minimum to $10.10 an hour — as supported by 80% of Americans — would create an estimated 300,000 jobs and add $33 billion to the economy. So you’d think Congress would get on that, yes? Umm…

In very related news, a new AP poll finds that, as a result of stagnant wages, income inequality, and a deteriorating job market, fully 80% of Americans experience poverty, unemployment, and deprivation at some point in their lives. “By 2030, based on the current trend of widening income inequality, close to 85 percent of all working-age adults in the U.S. will experience bouts of economic insecurity.” The American Dream, now with Vegas casino odds.

Knocker of Knocks.

Round the decay of that colossal wreck, nothing beside remains: In anticipation of the final eight episodes, Bryan Cranston’s Walter White reads Percy Shelley’s Ozymandias. Breaking Bad returns Sunday, August 11th, meaning you now have less than two weeks to beat the Lego game.

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