Wednesday, June 6, 2012

One Last Call Into The Universe

Ray Bradbury, the world will sorely miss you, sir.

Science fiction writer Ray Bradbury, whose dystopian works served as cautionary tales about perilous futures and reflected the anxieties of post-war America, has died at the age of 91.

Bradbury’s publisher HarperCollins confirmed his death on Tuesday in Los Angeles after an unspecified “lengthy illness,” as tributes poured in from fans and family alike for a man seen as one of the genre’s greatest authors.

His most-remembered work, “Fahrenheit 451″ (1953), was a Cold War-era work about the evils of censorship and thought control in a totalitarian state and reached a worldwide audience as a film adaptation by Francois Truffaut in 1966.

“The great fun in my life has been getting up every morning and rushing to the typewriter because some new idea has hit me,” Bradbury said in 2000.

“The feeling I have every day is very much the same as it was when I was 12,” he said on his 80th birthday.

In all, the award-winning writer penned nearly 600 short stories and 50 books, including “The Martian Chronicles” about human attempts to colonize Mars and the unintended consequences.

“In a career spanning more than seventy years, Ray Bradbury has inspired generations of readers to dream, think, and create,” HarperCollins said in a statement.

He was the last of the big four science fiction masters to depart us for the unknown:  Asimov, Heinlein, Clarke, and finally Ray Bradbury.   Some 4 dozen novels over seven decades.  Eat your heart out, Stephen King.

We'll miss you Ray.  Your books got me through many a late night growing up, because I couldn't put them down.

The Great Prop 8 Debate Update: Accelerate Fate!

As widely expected, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday turned down a full en banc review of the Prop 8 decision striking down the California same-sex marriage ban as unconstitutional earlier this year, putting the case on a 90-day fast track to be taken up by the Supreme Court.

The 9th Circuit Court of appeals declined to take up the case of the constitutionality of California’s Proposition Eight Tuesday morning, suggesting that the same-sex marriage ban could possibly go to the Supreme Court.

The full court of the 9th Circuit refused to hear the case but did place a 90-day hold on its decision, meaning that same sex marriages cannot take place in California during the time period.

If the Supreme Court takes the case, the hearing likely will be held during the spring of 2013. 

So yes, arguments would be in the spring with a decision most likely by next summer.   Better hope that the man in the White House then isn't Mitt Romney, folks...or there's little hope for anything but permanent discrimination against marriage equality.

Greek Fire, Part 59

And now things are Getting Real(tm) in Europe.

Finance ministers and central bank governors from the world’s leading economies agreed to coordinate their response to Europe’s financial crisis on a conference call that dealt with Spain and Greece.

Group of Seven officials said they will work together to help both euro-area countries place their public finances on a sustainable footing, Japanese Finance Minister Jun Azumi told reporters in Tokyo following the call today. Azumi said he urged European leaders to do more to address investors’ concerns about the region’s finances.

European representatives “said they will speed up their efforts to resolve those problems, which was encouraging to us,” Azumi said. “Japan is ready to provide support if there is anything we can do.” The officials didn’t discuss a possible Greek exit from the euro, he said.

Less than two weeks before a Group of 20 summit in Mexico that will take place as Greece holds its second round of elections in as many months, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is facing increasing pressure from colleagues inside and outside the 17-nation euro area to apply Europe’s biggest economy to do more to stem the crisis. With the impact spilling over into the global economy, Spain for the first time today appealed for external funding for its banking system

Yeah.  Suddenly things have gone from nebulous to "coordinated G-7 response needed."  Merkel looks like she's in over her head.  Spain is now asking for money outright.  Greece?  Well, who knows.  But the fire is now burning in the Fatherland.

Buckle up, kids.

Teen On Bike Shoots, Kills Infant

A one-year-old boy is dead after being shot by a teenager on a bike.  He was outside with his father, and was shot in the torso.  He later died during emergency surgery.

Gang rivalry is suspected, but the murderer has not been caught.  The article is short and doesn't say if authorities have any leads or if this was so random that they may never unravel the truth.  This is the kind of crime that is so painful because it is so preventable.

I hope they catch him and that he has a long life in prison.  I'm going to go hug someone now.

School Blows The Call On Athletic Graduate

We have a story of a young man who plays football, and who has struggled in school and has set his sights for college.  Why in the hell would any high school withhold his diploma as punishment?

Apparently if too many people cheer for him.  I kid you not.

"Teachers, other students and other family members who weren't with us were also cheering for him also. He's well known," Traci said.
The excitement proved too much for the administration.
Instead of a diploma, Anthony got a letter from the principal, Marlon Styles, Jr. "I will be holding your diploma in the main office," the letter said, "due to the excessive cheering your guests displayed during the roll call."
"I did nothing wrong except walk across the stage," Anthony said. 

The school demands 20 hours of community service before he can graduate.
Those hours can be split between Anthony and his family, or the senior can perform them all himself. 

"I don't understand how he's being punished for something he has no control over," Traci said. "I just thought that was ludicrous... I have no clue where the logic comes in."
There is so much wrong with this I don't even know where to begin.  At best, this is a knee-jerk reaction by a school administration that believes it can order adults to perform community service for a little cheering.  Or a lot of cheering.  What the hell ever, since when is cheering education a bad thing?

I could not find mention of harm done to property.  No stadium stomps or crazy shenanigans.  Just cheering.

His mother called enough, and I back her and him a hundred percent.  This is insane.

Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principal

You can only know where Mitt Romney's current political position is at any given moment, or the vector of him changing that position when asked by a reporter, but you can never know both his position and his direction at the same time.

When Mitt Romney left office as Massachusetts governor, his aides removed all emails from a server computer in the governor's office, and purchased and carted off hard drives from 17 state-owned personal computers, according to a current state official.

But a small cache of emails survived, including some that have never publicly surfaced surrounding Mr. Romney's efforts to pass his now-controversial health-care law. The emails show the Republican governor was closely engaged in negotiating details of the bill, working with top Democratic state leaders and drafting early copies of opinion articles backing it.

Mr. Romney and his aides, meanwhile, strongly defended the so-called individual mandate, a requirement that everyone in Massachusetts have or buy heath insurance. And they privately discussed ideas that might be anathema to today's GOP—including publicly shaming companies that didn't provide enough health insurance to employees.

Mr. Romney signed the bill April 12, 2006, and that night sent an email thanking a top aide, saying the law would help "hundreds of thousands of people…have healthier and happier lives."

At this point Mittens is praying that the Supreme Court has to completely strike down the Affordable Care Act, because if they don't, he's toast.   And yes, I'm well aware of the fact the article's from Rupert Murdoch's Wall Street Journal and that this is a fire break being set against a much larger wildfire in the wake of the SCOTUS decision on the ACA.

If all this came to light after the SCOTUS decision on the ACA, Romney loses no matter what he does.  If it comes out now, before the decision, then the ruling itself could obliterate this down the memory hole (but only if the law is totally vacated.)  If the law remains without the mandate, it's going to be ugly for both President Obama and Mitt Romney.  If the law remains untouched, same thing.  But if the law is struck down, both sides have to come up with a replacement plan, and that differentiation is the only thing saving Mitt from millions of Republicans yelling RINO and staying home in November.

So yes, this is coming out on it can be turned into Mitt's latest etch-a-sketch later.

Fire Walker Chronicles, Part 10

The good news:  Turnout in Wisconsin was massive yesterday.  The bad news:  the election wasn't about Scott Walker at all, but whether or not recalls over policy were even appropriate...and Wisconsin said "no".

Republican Gov. Scott Walker has won the Wisconsin governor’s recall over Democratic Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, holding onto his job after his push to slash collective bargaining rights for public employees sparked intense statewide backlash.

Walker’s win caps a chaotic year in Wisconsin, marked by heated demonstrations, endless campaigning and a flood of outside money, all of which vaulted the state from ordinary battleground to Ground Zero of the national political debate — and elevated Walker to national superstardom among the Republican faithful.

Walker was favored from the outset, bolstered by an enormous cash advantage, and a firewall of support from national Republican figures.

And Walker went on to win by pretty much the 7 point margin all the polls were predicting, 53-46.   So what happened?  It's actually quite simple if you look at the exit polls.  The final question there was the key to the entire recall election.  When asked  "Do you think recall elections are appropriate"  some 60% of Wisconsin voters said "Only for official misconduct" and another 10% said "never".  And despite the allegations of Walker's shadowy dealings, the 60% who said that policy wasn't a reason to recall Walker voted 68-31% for Walker.

That was your ball game, right there.  Scott Walker's $30 million plus convinced voters that a recall over policy and allegations alone was unusual (it was) and unprecedented (also true given only 2 other sitting governors being recalled) and harmful to the democratic process (something I'd have to agree with).  Walker's massive cash advantage painted the recall process itself as the bad guy here, not Barrett and certainly not Walker himself.  All the down-ticket Republicans survived their recall as a result.  Some 18% of folks who favor Barack Obama in November voted not for Scott Walker, but against the recall process itself.

Anyone who tells you this has to do with unions, President Obama, the economy, jobs, Mitt Romney, same-sex marriage, the transit of Venus or the season finale of Mad Men is full of crap.  This recall election was about precisely one thing -- the recall election itself -- and it lost pretty resoundingly.  That's it.  That's the entire election.   Republicans spent a huge amount of cash convincing people to vote Walker as a protest against being able to exercise their rights to vote to be able to remove a sitting politician.   They used tens of millions to define the election on terms favorable to Walker and the GOP, and it worked as intended as all incumbent Republicans survived.

End of story.

Moving forward.


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