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21 February 2009

Ms. Mason

by: astraea

Work That Tiara, Boy!

By Annie Gowen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 20, 2009; Page B01

Spend time with George Mason University senior Ryan Allen and it's clear why he's a Big Man on Campus. He wears size 12 pumps.

Allen is now -- as of halftime at Saturday's sold-out basketball game against Northeastern at the Patriot Center -- the school's homecoming queen. He received more votes than the two women who vied for the crown.

Allen, who is gay and performs as a popular drag queen at local clubs, assumed the title of Ms. Mason. He was wearing a green-and-gold bow, sewn for him by the theater department costume's shop, that was visible even from the cheap seats, a sequined top, a black skirt and heels. Ricky Malebranche, a junior from Woodbridge, was named Mr. Mason.

19 February 2009

whose reason is it anyway?

by: astraea

23 July 2008 by Bioethicist Tom Shakespeare
Magazine issue 2666
Tom Shakespeare is a research fellow at the Policy, Ethics and Life Sciences Research Centre, set up by Durham and Newcastle universities and the Centre for Life, Newcastle

Great piece. One point:

...People understand the world in stories, not dry rationality. It's not that they are unreasonable, it's that we need ways to look at the world which are both as empirically accurate and rationally sustainable as possible, but which also speak to everyday experience and do not exclude as mere superstition or irrationality the ways most people most of the time live their lives. The trouble is we don't seem to know how to do this...>

I hear ya. Propagandists, preachers, and cult leaders do too. "Jesus" is stories, parables, after all. The hero cult, so big in late antiquity, was the "virtual" version of the long-standing system of enculturation: the great memorized epic. Homer, the Greek and Roman's Bible.

Of course, THEY ALL knew it was story. In our electrified positivistic post-Teller age, where we plug machines into walls, click around the net, flip open the phone, people become so far removed from reality that the world becomes magical. High dependence on instruction manuals and techs comes with it, just to make it all work. We sit back. Abandon ourselves to it. Forget to steer. We BELIEVE.

No wonder simple folks crave a magic book from God, a literal and unassailable truth of all, angels whispering in ears and all else the devil. The great instruction manual of the universe!

Phone home. How can I extend my warrantee?

(picture from
17 February 2009

What would you do with an extra $18,000 in your pocket?

by: astraea

From Robert Greenwald:

What would you do with an extra $18,000 in your pocket?

That's the amount of extra cash each and every Burger King employee in America would have received last year if Goldman Sachs (one of the fast-food chain's largest owners) had shared its bailout billions with rank-and-file workers. Instead, Goldman Sachs squandered 6.5 billion of our taxpayer dollars on bonuses for their financial staff. These were some of the highest bonuses on Wall Street! Meanwhile, Burger King workers earn wages averaging just $14,000 a year -- well below the federal poverty line for a family of three.

Watch the harmful effects of Wall Street's greed:

Goldman Sachs has been having it their way with Burger King workers for too long. It's high time you had it your way with Goldman Sachs. Tell the Wall Street giant how they could have used the $6.5 billion blown on bonuses. We're looking for the most creative, constructive, or comical ideas to curb corporate greed and help fix the financial crisis. We will send all ideas to Goldman Sachs as a reprimand for their wastefulness. The winner of the Have It Your Way with Goldman Sachs contest will have their idea featured in our next video. The contest ends March 3.

Pass this video and contest to your friends and family, and don't forget to digg it. Tell them working people all over the country are pushing back against Wall Street excess. Tell them we're joining with SEIU and others to stage demonstrations and hold Goldman Sachs accountable! And tell them it's time to end this era of corporate greed and impunity.


Robert Greenwald

and the Brave New Films team

P.S. - Do you think Goldman Sachs should be forced to give back their bailout money to taxpayers, should they have to raise Burger King workers' wages, explain their spending to the government, or be left alone because they are living the American dream? Vote now in our online poll.

16 February 2009

Republicans Bail Out

by: astraea

Please send this to your Rush lovin' brother-in-law:

I sit in on the free alaska group on yahoo that Palin's husband made famous: Why? Like Lincoln, I'm interested in the other side of things. Taking the pulse.
Republicans have recently proven they're a wall of making things not work. Republicans from Rush on down are united on one track, a comeback in 2010 & 2012. Step 1: a vow to not vote for anyone who voted for the stimulus.

Have a look at the screed: Website, the CFIF ORG:">

Do they care if the US economy fails? Well -- if they're not working for it, that means they're working against it. That's just the truth. They've made that choice.

It's a game, of course. Republicans want it both ways. They knew exactly how many could vote against the stim and still have it pass.

We all know this, but the media still doesn't. Evidence? Turn on the tube. Media matters:, Putting the "partisan" in "bipartisanship"

Pretty clear, innit?
12 February 2009

Joaquin Phoenix: google news: 2,576 stories and rising, 2,437,375 blogs...

by: astraea

all over the blogs, the thing with phoenix and letterman. actually, it brings out the cruelty and absurdity of our culture. right off, "why the beard!" why? fuck, it's how we're made! I think phoenix is actually quite brilliant. who does he have to be? he's given us so much of himself -- to us, total strangers. what does he owe letterman, or any of these laughing people?
11 February 2009

People Are Weird

by: Debra

How do I get a job working for a company that will secretly pay me an early million dollar bonus for helping them lose money all year long?  Merrill Lynch had to be taken over by Bank of America and the executives were duly rewarded at the American taxpayer's expense.  Must have been nice to know that you can screw up, get rewarded handsomely and still have a job when your company has to be sold due to fiscal mismanagement. 

Yes, their image is offensive.  As is their behavior and attitude of entitlement.  No amount of regulation at this point is going to change the fact that they took what they wanted and now that their house of cards has fallen down, they want to be chief architect on the next one.  Probably so that they can make sure to build a jacuzzi on the ground floor.  And a train ride will not make you look like a common man.  Even if it does take eight hours.  We know you have private and corporate jets available, you just don't want to be pilloried for flaunting the wealth.  As soon as the hearings are over, the bankers will return to their indulgences.

Oh yeah, that southern route looks safe.  Not.

For some reason I thought I was fairly liberal, open minded and tolerant.  Then I heard about a paraphilia that involves cannibalism and that put an end to my open mindedness.  And zoophilia?  I'm pretty sure that Lady Heather wouldn't approve.  Leave those animals alone.
"You slice off a piece of somebody and together you fry it and cook it and eat it," she said. "There's a Web site for almost anything."

In 2003, a computer technician advertised on the Internet for a well-built male prepared to be slaughtered and then consumed. His willing victim agreed to have his penis cut off, which was flambéed and served up to eat together before the victim died, according to the BBC. The courts debated whether the act constituted murder, because the victim had solicited the act.
That was more than I needed to know. Living frugally should not include cleaning your plate.  If your are full, you are full and eating what's left will only make you fat.  Either try cooking less or cook extra and put it away before you make your plate and you can save money and lose weight at the same time.

Better late than never.  And for the people of Washington, DC, it's about flipping time.  They've been the poster child for taxation without representation for far too long.

Should a woman be on the Stimulus Conference Committee?  Well, let's see.  Women are 51% of the population, the are not getting laid off as quickly as the men (the bright side of earning 77% of what a man did), increasingly the head of household, two women were responsible for amending the senate version of the stimulus package...hmm, I don't know. I guess all those old guys who haven't had to look for a job in years might think about provisions that protect women and children, but I doubt it.


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07 February 2009

bitter, bitter pill

by: astraea

My blood pressure spiked a hole in my brain reading Rolling Stone's Bitter Pill: Created to treat schizophrenia, Zyprexa wound up being used on misbehaving kids. How the pharmaceutical industry turned a flawed and dangerous drug into a $16 billion bonanza (BEN WALLACE-WELLS Posted Jan 28, 2009). [Print view]

Especially note:

Bureaucracies, like fraternities, are idiosyncratic places, formed of personality, habit and tradition. In the FDA, Bush's political appointees were coaxing the agency's bureaucrats and scientists to go easy on the drug manufacturers. "What's different now is a lot of these higher-up career officers are much more industry-friendly than was the case two decades ago," says Dan Carpenter, Freed Professor of Government at Harvard and a leading scholar of the agency. By 2000, when the Los Angeles Times documented how the FDA had approved seven deadly drugs, it turned out that the agency had repeatedly ignored strenuous objections from its own experts.*

Under Bush, experts say, the FDA has effectively become enrolled in the erosion of its own power. Instead of supporting consumers harmed by dangerous drugs, Troy's office began filing briefs on behalf of drug companies facing lawsuits from the families of people harmed by medications. In some cases, congressional investigators found, Troy operated in concert with the pharmaceutical companies. The number of warning letters issued by the FDA, a key indicator of how vigilant the agency is at tracking violations by drug manufacturers, has now fallen to half what it had been at the end of the Clinton administration. The industry is also well connected with Republican power: Former president George H.W. Bush has served on the board of directors of Eli Lilly, and Mitch Daniels, his son's former budget director, served as the company's vice president.

"With the FDA where it is, the pharmaceutical companies control far too much of the process, from the trials to the marketing," says Abramson, the Harvard instructor. A decade ago, it was a few figures on the fringe of the medical profession who sensed the trouble in this, and they had the feel of people who had been gazing into the vortex too long. Now it is professors at Yale and Harvard, and, in the case of the atypicals, by implication, the government itself.

*Sounds like what happened on Wall St., yes?

Long article, but so important, the stuff's impact in our lives. And this is just what we know about one drug. With the FDA so lax, the incentives for profit, and the proven willingness to put patients (hell, to CREATE patients) at risk, how can there not be more?

Eli Lilly, making billions by forcing and pimping bad drugs on a grand scale. Read it, read all of it. (Remember when Firth sneaked a provision in the Patriot Act to absolve Lilly of damages its vaccines might cause? And Judith Miller and the smallpox scare, forcing that lethal vaccine on health care workers? Bush's WMD hoax killed more than we know.)

And then think about how many commercials you will endure tonight that try to sell you drugs. Ask your doctor, they urge, images on screen smiling through the side effects. You couldn't pick up a magazine in the last few years without seeing ads asking you to rate yourself, answer a few questions and see if you are bipolar. (Drugs can help!) Reading Bitter Pill, I couldn't help multiply this to the whole population -- especially to Medicare, the rare program buffeted by Bush, making sure the drug companies got their cut. Oil and drugs, consistently the most profitable industries of all.

It's clear that fixing the health care system is essential to fixing the economy. Not just by overseeing the drugs industry, but by giving employers a break from trying to keep an impossible insurance system going.

Meanwhile, keep all this in mind, the obfuscation and sleight of hand of the last eight years, as you watch Krugman, that rare voice of sanity, countering the memory management efforts of team java.

Krugman on economy, stimulus fight

Feb. 6: The New York Times' Paul Krugman - winner of the 2008 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences - joins the Morning Joe gang to discuss the economic downturn and President Barack Obama's legislation.
05 February 2009

Out Of Their Minds

by: Debra

OMG! WTF?  First of all, he divorced her.  Second of all, and most importantly, when one is murdered one has not broken their lease and they certainly shouldn't be accused of giving "insufficient notice to vacate". 

My landlord is holding fast to evicting mom and me, will not budge on the issue.  Even though I have broken no rules, am current on the rent (I paid January's rent before Christmas) and literally have nowhere else to go, he wants us out.  Still no reason given.  And thanks to the Governator and the obstructionist Republicans who won't vote on the budget unless it includes all cuts and no tax hikes to get the state out of debt, I don't know if I will even receive a paycheck for taking care of mom.  I contacted Zoe Lofgren, my supposed Representative in Washington, and her staff blew me off with some phone numbers that just went to answering machines.  They can kiss my vote goodbye.  I haven't slept in two days and am in a permanent anxiety state.  I guess catching a break is not my thing.

A Black Manhattan recipe.  The King of Zembla (dude, it's time for a new post)  introduced me to Manhattans and the variation sounds interesting.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg has pancreatic cancer.  What a shame.  Somehow I doubt she will do as well as Patrick Swayze.  I tried to watch The Beast but it didn't interest me.

How can they be broke?  They charged me so much in fees last year that I know I paid someone's bonus.  They are just trying to avoid paying the Closson settlement over the ATM fees.  It was a stupid move to buy Countrywide.  Very stupid.  Buying Merrill Lynch wasn't very smart either.  Becoming a monopoly isn't as easy as it looks.


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