Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Last Call

One of my favorite authors has passed away yesterday and I just found out about it, Anne McCaffrey, best known for her Dragonriders of Pern series, has died at the age of 85.

Anne McCaffrey, legendary SF and fantasy author best known for her Dragonriders of Pern series, has passed away. Random House has confirmed that McCaffrey died of a stroke at her home in Ireland on Monday, November 21. The initial word arrived through author Alan Baxter reporting on behalf of Trent Zelazny.

McCaffrey was the first woman to win a Hugo Award for fiction, the first woman to win a Nebula Award, and the first author to hit the New York Times bestseller list with an SF title (The White Dragon).

McCaffrey leaves behind a tremendous legacy. She was active in the science fiction and fantasy fields right up to her passing and will be greatly missed.

I have a ton of her work and devoured any Pern books I could find as a kid.  As far as I'm concerned, she was one of the Big Three authors in my life, along with Isaac Asimov and Piers Anthony.

Fly with your creations, Anne.  The sky was always yours.

Now With Plenty Of Pepper Jacked Cheese

FOX News and Bill-O come to the defense of UC Davis chancellor Linda Katehi and Cop Of The Year Lt. John Pike with the "industrial strength police pepper spray is totally not that bad, you pussies!" theory.

"I don't think we have the right to Monday-morning quarterback the police," Bill O'Reilly said tonight, discussing the appalling use of pepper spray by UC Davis police on Friday. No, God forbid we Monday-morning quarterback the police, especially, as O'Reilly continued, "at a place like UC Davis, which is a fairly liberal campus."

Indeed: what right do we have to think that Lt. John Pike should probably not have indifferently dusted peacefully sitting protesters with pepper spray from only a few feet away? And, gosh, even if we were going to Monday-morning quarterback the police, shouldn't we remember, as Megyn Kelly tells O'Reilly, that pepper spray is "a food product, essentially"? I mean, Kelly and O'Reilly aren't saying the cops did the right thing! God, no! They're just saying, hey, what right do we have to judge a cop for spraying a simple food product on a bunch of liberal college kids' faces?

It's a just food product.  Pepper spray is just like Frank's Red Hot, only it works on LIBERAL WIMP HIPPIES and how dare you question America's cops while they are protecting us from sedentary young people.  Bill-O totally uses it on his felafels.  It's pain-licious!  Take the Pepper Spray hot wings challenge at a police station near you!

As Uneven As It Comes

America's neighborhoods don't get any more unequal on the income scale than just across the river in Cincy's Over-The-Rhine, and the numbers bear it out in the city's efforts to gentrify the neighborhood in Census Tract 17.

So while two-thirds of Tract 17's 321 households earn less than $10,000 a year and are mired in poverty, a push to gentrify the area has brought a wider mix of incomes to the small neighborhood just outside the downtown business district. Nearly 6 percent of residents there now earn between $25,000 and $49,999. Three percent make $100,000 to $149,999, and yet another 3 percent take in $200,000 or more.

The rare diversity of earnings in Tract 17 caused it to have the nation's most unequal neighborhood income distribution, according to the Census Bureau. And oddly enough, city leaders are striving for that kind of income integration throughout Over-the-Rhine.

Since 2004, Cincinnati Center City Development Corp., a private, nonprofit development group known as "3CDC," has built 200 condominiums, 70 rental units and 100,000 square feet of commercial space in Over-the-Rhine as part of a massive public-private effort to rejuvenate the city's oldest neighborhood.

Its development work stops at the southern border of Tract 17, but the spillover effects are being felt there and throughout the area. Young, middle-class professionals, attracted by the new housing, proximity to downtown workplaces and an energized central entertainment district, have been moving into Over-the-Rhine in increasing numbers.

These mostly white urban homesteaders are providing the income boost that will stabilize the area's tax base and attract more retailers to the mostly black, mostly poor neighborhood that takes its name from German immigrants who settled there in the 1800s.

But Over-the-Rhine's economic renaissance has created some ill will. As 3CDC razes and renovates more buildings, hundreds of longtime residents have been displaced to make way for development. Those who stay fear that they'll be priced out as their neighborhood goes from sketchy to chic.

On the one hand, turning OTR into Cincy's Soho has some considerable benefits.  On the other hand, it's getting rid of a fair amount of low-cost housing in favor of turning the place into hipster central.  There are some really nice shops and place in OTR these days, but there's also a lot of problems still in the neighborhood.  I'm hoping the new City Council will help to make sure that it's a win-win situation for existing residents and the new influx of people.

3CDC's latest project in OTR is Mercer Commons, a $54 million condo renovation which is currently drawing a lot of fire from both the city's historic preservation groups and from community leaders.  The commission has the final say regardless of what concerns critics may raise, and they want to get going on the project ASAP before some $9 million in federal and state funding is lost.  I understand this means jobs, a larger tax base, and further community reinvestment:  exactly what I've been saying Cincinnati and cities across the country need right now.

I just worry about who's going to be around to benefit from it.  The Census numbers do raise something of a concern, I'd think.

This Week's WTH: Waterboarding Edition

(CBS ATLANTA) - Police in Clayton County have accused two women of holding down a sick 89-year-old woman and waterboarding her.

The arrest warrants paint an ugly picture on how two care-givers treated 89-year-old Anna Foley, who suffered from dementia.

It allegedly happened at an elderly care facility on Mount Zion Boulevard in Jonesboro back in 2008 -- and it's unbelievable how police said it all started.

The arrest warrants said Jermeller Steed and Cicely Reed engaged in an argument with Foley over ice cream and locked her in a shower room, held her down against her will using a shower curtain and held her wrists and arms.

It goes on to say they sprayed water in Foley's face with a shower nozzle, purposely obstructing her breathing, in a manner similar to waterboarding.

There's just no words.  These women shouldn't just be banned from that facility, but from healthcare in any means, and from any patients or dependents who may come into contact with them.  Judgment like this is beyond education or even punishment in terms of rehabilitation.  Over ice cream?  With an elderly person who suffers from dementia?  Throw the book at them, and keep them away from the general population.

Bachmann and Cain: Here's A Hint

Herman Cain said he believed the sexual harassment charges against him may have been racially motivated.  Now Michele Bachmann says she was shown bias because she's a woman on the Republican ticket (all together now: DUH).

Or maybe it's because they're a couple of assholes.  I'm just saying that's what it sure looks like to me.  I personally don't despise Cain because of his race.  It's more because when he is quizzed on Libya he dodges answering with a no-brainer statement: "I got all this stuff twirling around in my head." Arianna Huffington brilliantly labels this as the campaign trail equivalent of "the dog ate my homework."  Maybe that's our problem, because the Democrats who see through his stupidity and bluster are fully supportive of Obama, who happens to be black but makes a hell of  a lot of sense, and doesn't tell us what's twirling in his head. 

Bachmann earned my wrath when she declared war on the Department of Education.  If she cares about equality for women, she sure has a funny way of showing it with her views on women's health care, and our insurance options.  If you don't meet Bachmann's view of correct, you are shit on the heel of her expensive leather shoe.  And that seems to make up most of the people she claims to want to represent.  You know, the poor people that she and Cain both disdain and work to keep down so the upper crust remains... well, crusty.

Please, for the love of doughnuts, don't let these two idiots turn fact checking into discrimination.  The reality is, they're both unworthy of the title they seek, and give the voters credit for seeing through it.

Black And Blue Friday

This holiday week means Black Friday is coming, and retail chains are bringing out the big guns trying to get Americans into stores.  But since we've been trained to expect deep doorbuster discounts, what will they use this year to get shoppers back into stores as a second recession looms?

Black Thursday, of course.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc, Toys R Us and outlet malls are among those hoping that big discounts on Thursday night will attract shoppers hungry for deals after Thanksgiving meals.

Others such as Target Corp, Macy's Inc and Kohl's Corp will join the fray during the wee hours of Friday, opening their doors hours earlier than in past years.

The early sales, along with more advertising spending, show that retailers are taking no chances as they fight for their share of the limited amount shoppers plan to spend. The moves, which include adding staff, securing bargains on video games and offering free shipping, also can eat into profit margins.

Gross margins at U.S. department stores and broadline chains are expected to fall an average of 0.4 percentage points this year because of higher product, labor and transportation costs, according Barclays Capital analyst Robert Drbul.

Discounts just add to that margin pressure.

"If you're not promotional and you don't have great product, I think you're going to have a very challenging time this holiday season," said Jeff Van Sinderen, senior analyst at B. Riley & Co.

Capitalism doesn't take the day off...not even for Thanksgiving, apparently.  Will it help or hurt the retail chains?  We'll know pretty soon, but my guess is it's going to be a wash compared to last year at best.  Get used to working on Thanksgiving, would be my guess.  It's not just for hospitals and police stations anymore.

Burned After Reading

Mittens is a lousy secret agent, and not too bright to boot.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney admitted Monday that he and his team had destroyed official government records for purely political reasons.

WCVB-TV reported Friday that as Romney’s term as governor Massachusetts was ending, all of his administration’s emails were wiped from the servers. At the same time, eleven of his top aides purchased their computer hard drives for $65 each, and the remaining computers in the governor’s office were wiped clean as well.

After dodging questions about the matter over the weekend, the candidate finally confessed in an interview with the Nashua Telegraph Monday.

“Well, I think in government we should follow the law,” Romney said. “And there has never been an administration that has provided to the opposition research team, or to the public, electronic communications. So ours would have been the first.”

Electronic document laws apparently don't apply to Republicans.  Rick Perry in Texas and Nikki Haley in South Carolina have hit the delete button too as Governor (not to mention Dubya doing it in a higher office)...and of course when you keep the emails, people ask uncomfortable questions about them.  After massive, long, drawn out fights over the emails, that is.

I'd ask what Romney is hiding, but the answer's simple:  the fact that he used to have the opposite position of whatever he has now on a number of issues.


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