Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Obama's Weekly Web/Radio Address

Over the past few weeks, Vice President-Elect Biden and I have announced some of the leaders who will advise us as we seek to meet America’s twenty-first century challenges, from strengthening our security, to rebuilding our economy, to preserving our planet for our children and grandchildren. Today, I am pleased to announce members of my science and technology team whose work will be critical to these efforts.

Whether it’s the science to slow global warming; the technology to protect our troops and confront bioterror and weapons of mass destruction; the research to find life-saving cures; or the innovations to remake our industries and create twenty-first century jobs – today, more than ever before, science holds the key to our survival as a planet and our security and prosperity as a nation. It’s time we once again put science at the top of our agenda and worked to restore America’s place as the world leader in science and technology.

Right now, in labs, classrooms and companies across America, our leading minds are hard at work chasing the next big idea, on the cusp of breakthroughs that could revolutionize our lives. But history tells us that they can’t do it alone. From landing on the moon, to sequencing the human genome, to inventing the Internet, America has been the first to cross that new frontier because we had leaders who paved the way: leaders like President Kennedy, who inspired us to push the boundaries of the known world and achieve the impossible; leaders who not only invested in our scientists, but who respected the integrity of the scientific process.

Because the truth is that promoting science isn’t just about providing resources – it’s about protecting free and open inquiry. It’s about ensuring that facts and evidence are never twisted or obscured by politics or ideology. It’s about listening to what our scientists have to say, even when it’s inconvenient – especially when it’s inconvenient. Because the highest purpose of science is the search for knowledge, truth and a greater understanding of the world around us. That will be my goal as President of the United States – and I could not have a better team to guide me in this work.

Dr. John Holdren has agreed to serve as Assistant to the President for Science and Technology and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. John is a professor and Director of the Program on Science, Technology, and Public Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, as well as President and Director of the Woods Hole Research Center. A physicist renowned for his work on climate and energy, he’s received numerous honors and awards for his contributions and has been one of the most passionate and persistent voices of our time about the growing threat of climate change. I look forward to his wise counsel in the years ahead.

John will also serve as a Co-Chair of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology – or PCAST – as will Dr. Harold Varmus and Dr. Eric Lander. Together, they will work to remake PCAST into a vigorous external advisory council that will shape my thinking on scientific aspects of my policy priorities.

Dr. Varmus is no stranger to this work. He is not just a path-breaking scientist, having won a Nobel Prize for his research on the causes of cancer – he also served as Director of the National Institutes of Health during the Clinton Administration. I am grateful he has answered the call to serve once again.

Dr. Eric Lander is the Founding Director of the Broad Institute at MIT and Harvard and was one of the driving forces behind mapping the human genome – one of the greatest scientific achievements in history. I know he will be a powerful voice in my Administration as we seek to find the causes and cures of our most devastating diseases.

Finally, Dr. Jane Lubchenco has accepted my nomination as the Administrator of NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which is devoted to conserving our marine and coastal resources and monitoring our weather. As an internationally known environmental scientist, ecologist and former President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Jane has advised the President and Congress on scientific matters, and I am confident she will provide passionate and dedicated leadership at NOAA.

Working with these leaders, we will seek to draw on the power of science to both meet our challenges across the globe and revitalize our economy here at home. And I’ll be speaking more after the New Year about how my Administration will engage leaders in the technology community and harness technology and innovation to create jobs, enhance America’s competitiveness and advance our national priorities.

I am confident that if we recommit ourselves to discovery; if we support science education to create the next generation of scientists and engineers right here in America; if we have the vision to believe and invest in things unseen, then we can lead the world into a new future of peace and prosperity.

Thank you, and happy holidays everybody.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Franken Takes Lead in Minnesota Senate Race

Up by 266 votes as of 3:20 p.m. EST.

You can watch live streaming video of the Minnesota State Canvassing Board on the Minneapolis Star-Tribune website. Whoops, as I type this Franken's lead went to 267.

Al's a real liberal. I will celebrate when he is sworn in.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I Thought The XFL Folded

He Hate Me chosen to give invocation at Obama inauguration.


Megachurch minister/thief Rick Warren is a hateful bigot who is anti-stem-cell-research, anti-choice, anti-abortion, anti-gay, anti-gay marriage, and basically a big dope. He's gone on Fox Noise in the last month to apologize for the Bush torture regime and to proclaim that Jesus was pro-assassination. Basically he is Jerry Falwell in a fat suit. He's Rupert Murdoch's pastor, for crying out loud. He's a hater.

Obama can throw him bones for the rest of his life and that faker isn't going to change one position. Naive and deeply disappointing decision by Obama. It is a gratituous insult to all of Obama's supporters who support gay rights.

I'll turn my back when he speaks.

Ice Storm Cleanup

Photographs from 1980

Barack Obama, or one of the Jackson 5?

Compare and contrast:

Time Photo Gallery: Obama: The College Years

A 1980 photo shoot reveals a playful side of the President-elect
Photographs by Lisa Jack

Time Out Chicago: What would Nixon do?

Rod Blagoyevich photographed while getting Richard M. Nixon's autograph

Duck Duck Bush

Duck Duck Bush

Go throw things at the Chimperor.

Monday, December 15, 2008

One Year Ago

Reuters: Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama holds a baby during a campaign rally stop in Independence, Iowa, December 15, 2007.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Obama's Weekly Web/Radio Address

Ice Storm Photos

Pine tree boughs after landing on my neighbor's roof and fence

The pine covered with ice

The decimated pine after the sun came out

An icy tree

More Ice Storm Videos

From the Worcester Telegram

Princeton, Mass., from the Metrowest News

Driving through Holden



A Modest Proposal

From John Cole:

A Bailout Plan the GOP Can Support

We need to invade Michigan and rebuild the state from the ground up. We will be greeted as liberators, we have clear supply lines, and we can easily rebuild the auto industry with the kind of money we spend on other countries we invade. Hell, our new Secretary of State, Hillary of Clinton, spent the better part of the past year fighting for the rights of average folks from Michigan, so think of the good will we have with the public. This is very doable. Just tell Congress we will give KBR no-bid contracts to fix Detroit.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Our Amazing Ice Storm

In Worcester, a mess

Boston Globe Photo Gallery: Ice storm slams region

I am one of the few people in my town today with power as 350,000 in Massachusetts lost power last night in a huge ice storm. My friend L has a tree limb on her car and the windshield is smashed; her boyfriend's car's rear windshield got taken out by a limb, too. They couldn't even get to the cars to remove the limbs because of downed power lines. My next door neighbor had a tree limb fall on his roof. It sounded like a shooting gallery this morning with all the limbs breaking off and crashing with all their ice to the ground. I drove in to the Craft Center in Worcester late this afternoon and had to take 4 detours to navigate the mile between my house and Route 190. Saw cars without windows sitting in driveways, trees in front yards, and tree lined roads that looked like they had been decorated with boughs of evergreen from all the cleaned-up branches stacked in the ditches. Plus limbs are still falling off the trees as you drive along the roads, and random tree branches stick out into roadways, so it's quite scary out there. Power will not be restored completely until next week. The grocery stores and gas stations are all closed.

Video of a branch snapping while filming a TV interview:

Good News in Minnesota

From an email from the Franken campaign:

The state canvassing board has soundly rejected the Coleman campaign's attempt to disenfranchise 133 voters in Minneapolis whose ballots were lost during the recount, unanimously deciding to count those votes. In addition, they urged Minnesota's 87 counties to identify, open, and count absentee ballots that were wrongly rejected.

This is a huge win for us, because our position has always been the simple principle that every lawful vote should be counted.

TPM: Franken Gets Big Win At Canvass Board

Al Franken's chances of winning the Minnesota recount may have just gone up astronomically.

The state canvassing board just voted unanimously that absentee ballots that were initially rejected because of clerical errors -- and the current estimate from the hearing is that there could be nearly 1,600 of them, based on some extrapolation -- should be counted, probably the single biggest issue that the Franken campaign has been hammering ever since this recount began, and which really seemed up in the air going into this hearing.

The board can't directly order the county officials to do the counting, only making a formal request to go back and count the votes and then submit amended totals. But many counties have already begun or finished the process of sorting the rejected absentees at the board's request, and board members did castigate any election officials who wouldn't do so, with some of them even leaving open the option of seeking a court order if necessary.

Because of all that, it seems very likely that the vast majority of these ballots will be counted before this is over -- and it could possibly seal the deal for Franken.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Count Every Vote in Minnesota

Great video from the Al Franken campaign:

In the closest Senate race in Minnesota history, every vote should be counted fairly.

But there are Minnesotans who had their votes thrown out, even though they did nothing wrong.

They voted absentee, but their ballots were improperly rejected because of someone elses mistake.

And in the closest Senate race in Minnesota history, their votes remain uncounted.

Participatory Democracy

Obama's transition site,, has a new section for submitting questions to the administration and voting on the questions submitted by others. Check it out:

Open for Questions

The #1 question currently is:

"What will you do to establish transparency and safeguards against waste with the rest of the Wall Street bailout money?"
Diane, New Jersy

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tthe Blagojevich Indictment

My friend J who lives in Chicago points out that corruption in the Illinois Governor's mansion is the rule rather than the exception:
I believe the national incarceration rate in the United States is something like 1%. Compare to Illinois governors since 1961:

Otto Kerner (1961 to 1968). Go to jail? YES

Sam Shapiro (1968-1969). Go to jail? No.

Richard Ogilvie (1969 to 1973) Go to jail? No

Dan Walker (1973 to 1977) Go to jail? YES

James Thompson (1977 to 1991) Go to jail? No

James Edgar (1991 to 1999) Go to jail? No

George Ryan (1999 to 2003) Go to jail? YES

Rod Blagojevich (2003 to present) Go to Jail? NOT YET

In any event, if you are in Springfield, Illinois and see the governor's mansion, I would suggest walking on the other side of the street.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

We Love Lists

My #1 Video of the Campaign

Time: Top Ten Campaign Video Moments

A weird list. The Palin-Couric interviews get #1, that's justifiable, but "Joe Biden's One-Word Debate Answer" and Hillary Clinton's "Soprano's Video" beating's "Yes We Can" video is ridiculous.

My top five:

1. John McCain "The Fundamentals of Our Economy Are Strong" (see above)
2. "Yes We Can"
3. Tina Fey "I Can See Russia From My House"
4. Sarah Palin "In What Respect, Charlie?"
5. Sarah Palin "Putin Rears His Head"

Giving Blood

Life: A view of a poster urging people to donate blood to help wounded soldiers., London, United Kingdom, 1939, Photographer William Vandivert

Nothing to write about, really. I can't get worked up about politics or the economy. We got the right choice in the Presidential race so I feel safe in relaxing a bit. What to rail/write about when I am calm? My life, I guess.

I gave platelets for the first time yesterday. I've been giving blood for the past two years, and this summer the Red Cross sent me a letter saying I have a high platelet level and am eligible to give platelets. (I also have Type A blood, and while Type O is a universal donor for whole blood, Type A is the universal donor for platelets.) Did you know that while whole blood can be stored for up to two months, platelets have a shelf life of six days? And platelets are very important to people being treated for leukemia.

I was a bit nervous about it, surveyed several people about what it was like, and even asked my doctor at my annual physical whether she thought that frequent platelet donation could damage my veins (her answer: no, your veins heal and as long as there is no infection involved, your veins will not be overly scarred.)

So I presented myself at the Red Cross's Worcester Pheresis Center yesterday afternoon. Went through the typical pre-donation questionnaire, checks of blood pressure (132/78), iron level (13, 12.5 is the minimum to donate) and then got into the donation chair/chaise. This is what it looked like:

Both arms have to be still for the whole procedure, as there is a needle in both. One needle is taking out the blood, and the blood is returned (along with a little saline) through the other needle. So you can't move, you can't bend your arm, and you can't itch any scratches. The nurse told me that they would itch for me, that's part of the job. Luckily I was able to quell any itching urges. The chair had a built-in heating element on the back, and they covered me with a blanket and gave me a handwarmer for the hand that wasn't squeezing the little ball to make the blood flow, but it was still a little chilly. I had tingling around my mouth and they gave me Tums to up my calcium levels, and advised that the next time I donate I should eat a yogurt beforehand.

There were three movies to choose from, and I chose Made of Honor, figuring that even if I wasn't paying any attention to it, I could still enjoy very handsome Patrick Dempsey. The movie was terrible, and I was way too distracted to follow it at all, so it was OK that I was finished long before the movie ended. The procedure itself took less than an hour. I had juice and cookies and headed home feeling none the worse for the weather. The nurse told me that the entire procedure harvests about 1 teaspoon worth of platelets -- but that is the equivalent of the amount of platelets in 6 pints of whole blood. (This blogger says that 70% of your blood goes through the machine roundtrip during the donation. Ewww.)

You can donate platelets every six days, but I can't imagine doing it that often. I'm going to aim for once a month, which is about twice as often as you can give whole blood. I'm the only person in my family eligible to give blood, as my mom takes several medications, and my brothers and sister all spent more than 3 months in the United Kingdom in the 1980s, so they're disqualified.

I'm not a great lover of the Red Cross as an organization, and I have to question how blood that is donated for free is charged at $600 to $700 a pint to patients in hospitals, but that's a macro question. On a micro level I will continue to give blood to help those that need it, and to build up karma points on my agnostics scorecard (in case there is a heaven).

One of my father's teaching jokes was the Agnostic's Prayer:

Oh God, if there is a God
Save my soul, if I have a soul.

Just in case points.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Best Christmas Albums

I am a collector of many things, among them Christmas CDs. Which makes me look up at the title of this post and realize that I have carbon-dated myself by writing "albums". That's how music came when I was a kid and that's how my brain will continue to refer to CDs unless I really think hard about it.

And of course I love lists. I just compiled a list to post on this post by dooce asking for Christmas music recommendations. So here goes. From my years of collecting and listening to Christmas music, here's my top six list of Christmas CDs/albums:

1. Mixed Nuts Soundtrack. My personal all-time favorite Christmas CD. The best tracks are Fats Domino's "I'll Be Home for Christmas" and Eartha Kitt's "Santa Baby"

2. Vince Guaraldi's A Charlie Brown Christmas. The classic.

3. Bullseye Blues Christmas. Best track, "Five Pound Box of Money" by Michelle "Evil Gal" Willson

4. The Alligator Records Christmas Collection. Best track, Tinsley Ellis's "Santa Claus Wants Some Lovin'"

5. The Platters A Christmas Album,

6. and last but not least, The Brian Setzer Orchestra Boogie Woogie Christmas

Trust But Verify

yahoo: President-elect Barack Obama (L) introduces retired General Eric K. Shinseki as nominee for Veterans Affairs secretary during a news conference in Chicago, December 7, 2008.
REUTERS/John Gress

Barack Obama was elected little more than a month ago. He won't take office for another month and a half. He has run one of the quickest and smoothest transitions ever, rolling out appointees and being essentially a shadow government (for the nonfunctioning Bush bunker White House) in waiting.

So what's the problem? Liberals don't like his cabinet choices. Where are the liberals? Rather than appointing the economists who predicted the meltdown of the mortgage and credit markets, Obama has appointed people who were part of the Wall Street posse that got us into this mess. Apparently sensitive to the criticism, Obama has his deputy Steve Hildebrand post on Huffington Post asking liberals to, essentially, STFU.

Me, I'm still rather sanguine about the whole thing. It's not like FDR appointed a bunch of raging liberals to his Cabinet, and from that group we got the New Deal. (FDR did appoint one raging liberal: Frances Perkins, the first woman ever to hold a Cabinet position, and the longest-serving-ever Secretary of Labor. Obama still needs a Frances Perkins type in his Cabinet.)

But, jeez, he hasn't even taken office yet. Cabinet appointments haven't all been made. He hasn't even announced his Secretary of Labor yet. I am willing to give Obama a little slack here. The people aren't the policies. And while I may not agree with all his appointments (Larry Summers, chauvinist pig, grrrrrr) I'm going to hold my fire for now. I'll wait until actual policy making is done. Patience, people, patience.

Speaking of Cabinet appointments, I was very happy to see that General Eric Shinseki - the guy who told Donald Rumsfeld that his Iraq plan was a crock and got forced out for his truth-telling -- has been named Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

Winter Break

For your offseason/holiday season pleasure, Sawxheads has audio of Jerry Remy singing Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Sleigh Ride.

Like Jerry Remy's dancing, they are both wonderful, awful and hilarious.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Economic Shot in the Arm

Barack Obama concentrates on a shot at Schultzie’s, a bar in South Charleston, W. Va., last May. It’s among the photos by Brooklyn photographer Scout Tufankjian in the book 'Yes We Can,' on sale Monday, Dec. 8.

NYDailyNews: On the road with Obama: An NYC photographer's exclusive

One place where the economy is not failing is Obama merchandise. Vendors in DC are doing a brisk business selling Obama t-shirts, hats, pins and other ephemera. I keep seeing TV ads for Obama plates and coins. And there will be plenty of coffee table books like this one.

It's not like anyone out there is clamoring for the George W. Bush coffee table books, anyway.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

"Financial Crisis: The Musical"

Lyrics: B. Hopman Vocals: R. Hopman

The Shock Market is out of control!! Gall Street is crumbling!! Your savings have been 401KOD!! Just when you thought the economy has hit a low note, here comes a real chorus of gloom and doom. It won't take a degree in economics to enjoy this musical parody. Just a degree of humor. (Special appearance by John McCain.)

PEBO's Weekly Web/Radio Address

Only 45 days until PEBO becomes PBO. Bush will stop pretending to be a rancher and move in to his new mansion with wet bar. I hope the wet bar is supplied with plenty of pretzels.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Daily Inspiration

BBC: A woman admires a New Zealand Maori Tekoteko, or house gable apex figure, at an exhibition in Sydney, Australia.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Proposition 8 - The Musical

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

Where were all these people before the election? As a Massachusetts resident I've been through more than one political campaign involving gay marriage. Our local groups besieged us with messages from both sides, (yea MassEquality! boo several religious groups). I can't believe that LGBT groups in California got outworked and out-organized (no pun intended) on such an important issue.

Here are the credits to figure out who's who in the cast:

Conceived and Written (six weeks later than he shoulda) by Marc Shaiman
Directed and Staged by: Adam Shankman
Produced by Adam Shankman, Marc Shaiman and Mike Farah
Edited by Bradly Schulz and Drew Antzis
Cast (in order of appearance) California Gays and The People That Love Them
Jordan Ballard,
Margaret Cho,
Barrett Foa,
J.B. Ghuman,
John Hill,
Andy Richter,
Maya Rudolph,
Rashad Naylor,
Nicole Parker Proposition 8'ers and The People That Follow Them
Prop 8 Leader- John C. Reilly
Prop 8 Leader's #1 Wife- Allison Janney
Prop 8 Leader's #2 Wife- Kathy Najimy
Riffing Prop 8'er-Jenifer Lewis
A Preacher- Craig Robinson
Scary Catholic School Girls From Hell-Rashida Jones, Lake Bell, Sarah Chalke
The Frightened Villagers Katharine "Kooks" Leonard, Seth Morris, Denise "Esi!" Piane, Lucian Piane, Richard Read, Seth Redford, Quinton Strack, Tate Taylor, Brunson Green
Jesus Christ Jack Black
A Very Smart Fellow Neil Patrick Harris
Piano Player Marc "Marc" Shaiman ----
Co-Choreographer: Anne "Mama" Fletcher
Recorded and Mixed by Frank Wolfe & Greg Hayes
Director of Photography: Michael Barrett
Camera Operators: Jake Szymanski, Bradly Schulz and Drew Antzis
Production designer: Nelson Coates
Costume designer: Shanna Knecht
Costume assistants: Leslie Schilling, Annalisa Adams, Elizabeth Abate
Hair: Laura Sanchez
Make-up: Shauna O'Toole, Atticuss Sharp
Production sound: Bradford Craig
Music editor: Lisa Jaime
Music assistant: Brian Naguit Snacky: "Snacky"
Special Thanks to Adam McKay for the nudge

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Plus ca Change

CJ Gunther for The New York Times
The operators of the Out of Town News, which opened in 1955, say the business is no longer profitable and they will leave when their lease expires.

Another institution of my youth goes under:

Boston Globe: Out of Town News, Harvard Square landmark, may close

NYTimes: A New Sign of Change at the Gates of Harvard

Road Trip

Telegraph (uk):
Decades of burying rubbish underground in Naples has created an astonishing network of underground stalactites made entirely of trash

Heading to Virginia to visit my sister for Thanksgiving; posting will be light or nonexistent for the next week.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Make Me Puke

Oink, a male chauvinist pig goes to the White House. This is your brain on dope. Or testerone.

HuffPo: Larry Summers: Director Of National Economic Council, Top Adviser To Obama

ABC News reports that Obama has tapped Larry Summers to be his top economic adviser.

Can you imagine Obama naming as his top economic adviser someone who said in an address to an academic conference that blacks might have innate differences that explain their failure to attain high positions in the sciences and engineering? And that when asked to explain his racist remarks, this supposed intellectual stated this was a legitimate hypothesis? That he was just trying to be provocative? And complained about political correctness?

That person would not be named economic adviser, I posit, but a man who said those things about women has.

I want some of my money back, Barack.

President-Elect Obama's Weekly Web Address


I Read The News Today, Oh Boy: November 22, 2008

Life: Macy's Thanksgiving Parade
Looking down onto fish balloon & crowds lining street during Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. November 25, 1941, Photographer: John Phillips

Wicked cold here today, big wind gusts outside. Brrr.

Today is the 45th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. I was only 6 so I don't remember it that well. I remember being sent home from school early. It was the first time I saw my parents cry. The TV was on all the time for several days, the black and white Zenith a constant presence, my parents tearing up and leaving the room every once in awhile. I remember the funeral, the huge cortege, the slow, heavy pomp and circumstance of it all, and of course John John saluting the casket (hard to believe that he is dead). Others remember November 22, 1963 here, here, here, and here.

The Obama daughters are going to attend Sidwell Friends School, the same private school that Chelsea Clinton went to, where they will join Joe Biden's granddaughters as students.

President-Elect Obama is poised to name Timothy Greithner Treasury Secretary, Bill Richardson Commerce Secretary (those two are pretty well confirmed), and Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva as Secretary of the Interior (not final). So far, a very strong group, less progressive than I would like and not enough vagina-Americans. (Check out Tzvee's Talmudic Blog for a day-by-day rundown on whether or not Obama's appointees are Jews. So far the Jewish-Americans are kicking the Vagina-American's asses, metaphorically speaking. Maybe that's because they earned it: 78% of Jews voted for Barack. Yes they did. But Barack, come on, more vagina-Americans. Especially if you're going to put the loathesome Larry Summers in the White House. We've got the necessities, really.)

The burgeoning private prison system is concentrated in the reddest states that went for John McCain. Why? To gerrymander Congress. Because prisoners are counted as residents of the state where they are incarcerated by the United States census. Check out the counties with big prison populations on this map. If your neighbor is arrested in Massachusetts, and gets shipped to a private prison in South Carolina, they're counted as a resident of South Carolina for census purposes. The federal government's crackdown on immigration has also increased the prison population.

Is GE corn from Monsanto the Roman lead pipe of our age? Another terrifying story of the Republican Party's theory of deregulation gone horribly amuck: scientific tests have found that genetically engineered corn is linked to increased infertility. As scientists tested successive generations of mice, "the infertility of the GM-corn-fed rodents became more pronounced with each passing litter." Monsanto may be poisoning our planet forever and causing our own extinction.

If you're driving somewhere for Thanksgiving, read this excellent article at dailykos on how to share the road with truckers, how to drive in bad weather, how to react to problems. Just an excellent refresher on being a good driver.

Hoop Dreams

The Chicago Tribune catches up with the stars of the 1994 documentary Hoop Dreams, Arthur Agee and William Gates.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Copernicus' Remains Identified Through DNA

yahoo: In this image provided by the Kronenberg Foundation in Warsaw on Thursday, Nov. 20, 2008, a computer-generated reconstruction of what astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus may have looked like on the basis of a skull discovered in the cathedral in Frombork, northern Poland, is seen. Polish and Swedish researchers said Thursday they have identified the remains of Nicolaus Copernicus by comparing DNA from a skeleton they have found with that taken from hair retrieved from one of the 16th-century astronomer's books.
(AP Photo/Kronenberg Foundation, HO)

AP (via Yahoo): Scientists say Copernicus' remains, grave found

WARSAW, Poland – Researchers said Thursday they have identified the remains of Nicolaus Copernicus by comparing DNA from a skeleton and hair retrieved from one of the 16th-century astronomer's books. The findings could put an end to centuries of speculation about the exact resting spot of Copernicus, a priest and astronomer whose theories identified the Sun, not the Earth, as the center of the universe.

Polish archaeologist Jerzy Gassowski told a news conference that forensic facial reconstruction of the skull, missing the lower jaw, his team found in 2005 buried in a Roman Catholic Cathedral in Frombork, Poland, bears striking resemblance to existing portraits of Copernicus.

The reconstruction shows a broken nose and other features that resemble a self-portrait of Copernicus, and the skull bears a cut mark above the left eye that corresponds with a scar shown in the painting.

This story reminds me of the novel People of The Book by Geraldine Brooks (author of the March). People of the Book is like a literary CSI, where a rare books expert traces the history of a real book, the Sarajevo Haggadah, through its 600-year-history using modern methods of evidence collection and analysis. Not as good as March, but it's tough to top a Pulitzer Prize-winner.

Tom Friedman's Wife's Mall Development Company Nears Bankruptcy

Ha, ha.

Moon of Alabama: Friedman Talks His Book

Read the whole thing.

Coleman Lead Down to 136 votes

Minnesota Star-Tribune: Day 2: 46 percent of ballots recounted; Coleman’s lead slips
After Thursday's work, there were only 136 separating the candidates, and hundreds more challenged ballots.

There's a video embedded in the article showing the elections officials eyeballing and counting the votes, one by one.

This race will probably come down to the fights over rejected votes, including absentee and provisional ballots.

Maybe Now He'll Revisit His Position on FISA

We can't trust eavesdroppers. Privacy, schmivacy.

CNN: Obama's cell phone records breached

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Records from a cell phone used by President-elect Obama were improperly breached, apparently by employees of the cell phone company, his transition team said Thursday.

Spokesman Robert Gibbs said the team was notified Wednesday by Verizon Wireless that it appears an employee improperly went through billing records for the phone, which Gibbs said Obama no longer uses.

In an internal company e-mail obtained by CNN, Verizon Wireless President and CEO Lowell McAdam disclosed Wednesday that "the personal wireless account of President-elect Barack Obama had been accessed by employees not authorized to do so" in recent months.

BoingBoing: Obama's Cellphone Records Breached by Verizon Employees

Senators Laud Convicted Felon Ted Stevens

Only a bunch of rich, out of touch millionaires with free health care and untouchable pensions, as the economy spirals in freefall, could spend an hour feting their pal, convicted felon Ted Stevens.

Here's his standing ovation, and a nauseating paean to [convicted on seven counts of corruption] Sen. Toobz from Harry Reid.

Rachel Maddow rips the Senators a new one:

Katie Couric Discusses Sarah Palin Interviews

On David Letterman Wednesday night:

"Clearly, she was struggling with some of those answers."

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Attorney General Michael Mukasey Collapses (Updated)

HuffPo: Attorney General Michael Mukasey Collapses While Giving Speech

Update 11/20 at 10:44 PM EST: The Associated Press reports:

WASHINGTON - Attorney General Michael Mukasey collapsed during a speech Thursday night and was being taken to a hospital.

Associate Attorney General Kevin O'Connor said Mukasey began shaking while addressing the Federalist Society at a Washington hotel.

"He just started shaking and he collapsed," O'Connor said. "They're very concerned."

O'Connor said he did not know whether Mukasey, 67, had regained consciousness."

Mukasey was 20 minutes into his speech before he collapsed.

Best wishes to AG Mukasey and thoughts to his family.

UPDATE: An eyewitness account.

She's a Bloody Idiot

Sarah Palin gives a Thanksgiving pardon to a single turkey, then oblivious to the slaughter, stands in front of a turkey beheading operation while being interviewed for three long minutes.

The sanitized MSNBC version (with hilarious MSNBC captioning, like “Gov. Palin Not Realizing Incongruity Of Her Words Versus Her Backdrop.”):

The bloodier raw footage from YouTube:

I bet there are bloody flecks on her coffee cup. Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwww.

Are You My Mother?

When I flew to Virginia to guard a polling place for Election Day, the woman in the seat next to me turned out to be flying to West Palm Beach to do the same thing. We chatted about our work and support for Obama, and then conversation turned to McCain and Palin. At one point she leaned in and said conspiratorially "I do not believe that is her baby." And I knew immediately what she was talking about, and I agreed with her. Once you've read the whole story, you may agree with us, too.

This post from the blog Palin's Deceptions lays out the case that Sarah Palin's child Trig is not hers. It lays out in detail the absurd story Palin told about having her water break in Texas, giving a speech, taking two four-hour flights with a two-hour layover, then driving by car to her hometown hospital. At the same time she supposedly had this baby, her 16-year-old daughter had moved in with Palin's sister and missed five months of school, supposedly because she had mono. I've had mono, and known kids who had mono. No one I've ever known with mono ever missed more than a week of school. I think that kid missed five months of school because she was pregnant and had a baby. And Palin thought she would get away with lying and saying it was her kid.

You can make up your own mind, but I'm convinced that the story is a lie.

I Read The News Today, Oh Boy: November 20, 2008

Life: Sightseers hanging out of the windows in the crown of the Statue of Liberty w. the NJ shore in the bkgd., 1951, Photographer Margaret Bourke-White

If I were President, I'd reopen the head of the Statue of Liberty to tourists as a symbol of change and a salute to freedom.

David Brauer at the Minnesota Post says Al Franken netted 43 votes yesterday, the first day of the Minnesota Senate race recount. [If you want to play Recount along at home, Minnesota Public Radio has pictures of 11 challenged ballots; you can vote who you think should have gotten the vote (if anyone) and see how others voted on the same ballot. It's interesting.]

In the other outstanding Senate seat, the odious Saxby Chambliss maintains his lead over Democrat Jim Martin. Time for Obama to weigh in; he should be using his email list to fundraise, and voters in Georgia should be told to go to the polls for Martin because "Obama Sent Me".

In one of the last three Congressional races yet to be decided, Republican Steve Stivers lead of 149 votes over Democrat Mary Jo Kilroy could be erased, as a federal judge rules that 27,000 provisional ballots must be counted. (As you can imagine, Democrat Kilroy brought suit, and Republican Stivers was arguing against counting the votes.)

The indefatigable Henry Waxman (CA), has succeeded in his bid to take the chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee from 82-year-old John Dingell of Michigan, who has been in Congress longer than I have been alive (since 1955). Waxman is a bulldog who will put the environment ahead of the auto industry, reversing the committee's priorities under Dingell. Who should replace Waxman on the Oversight Committee? Emptywheel recommends Elijah Cummings (MD) or Dennis Kucinich (OH).

John Kerry will become Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (the committee he testified to against the Vietnam War in 1971) when Joe Biden resigns from the Senate. Kerry has an ambitious agenda according to the Boston Globe.

Arizona governor Janet Napolitano will be named Secretary of Homeland Security. John McCain must be happy to hear this news, as polls show she would beat him if both run for his Arizona Senate seat in 2010.

The economy sucks roundup: Unemployment claims hit 16-year high; stock markets fell to new lows; home starts the lowest since records started being kept over 50 years ago; Congress is delaying the vote on the auto industry bailout. The Bush Economy continues to implode.

Economic glimmer of hope news: The price of a barrel of oil drops below $50 for the first time since 2005; Congress will extend unemployment benefits, and even dumbfuck Bush will sign the bill.

A federal judge has ordered the release of five Algerian men who have been held unlawfully in Guantanamo Bay for seven (7) years. Bush's illegal torture chamber is the greatest shame of his eight shameful years in office.

Barely political and a huge time-waster: Super Obama World, where a Super Mario-like Obama collects American flag points and has to watch out for lipsticked pigs.

Annals of Lame Duckitude

Daily Inspiration

I believe this little guy is the ancestor of Alfred E. Neuman:

Life: Pre Columbian Art
Photographer: Andreas Feininger

Compare and contrast:

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

VIdeo of the Day

Crazy ball skills by 5-year-old Milan Simon Tuttle. Someone buy that girl a WNBA ball and uniform!


Life like models for use in science and health lectures manufactured at Cologne [Germany] Health Museum, February 1955, Photographer: Ralph Crane

Lincoln and his Team of Rivals -- is it all a big myth?

Glenn Greenwald (Glennzilla) likes Eric Holder as Attorney General on cursory examination.

Tom Daschle reportedly will be named Secretary of Health and Human Services.

Bush to Country: Choke on My Exhaust Fumes

Haze obscures a view in Virginia's Shenandoah National Park. (By David A. Fahrenthold -- The Washington Post)

More environmental madness from The Worst President Ever. Hopefully President Obama can roll back this cock-eyed plan quickly.

WaPo: EPA Moves to Ease Air Rules for Parks
Regional Administrators Decry Decision

The Environmental Protection Agency is finalizing new air-quality rules that would make it easier to build coal-fired power plants, oil refineries and other major polluters near national parks and wilderness areas, even though half of the EPA's 10 regional administrators formally dissented from the decision and four others criticized the move in writing.

Documents obtained by The Washington Post show that the administration's push to weaken Clean Air Act protections for "Class 1 areas" nationwide has sparked fierce resistance from senior agency officials. All but two of the regional administrators objecting to the proposed rule are political appointees.


"The administration's staunch commitment to coal is so deep that they're willing to sacrifice our national parks on the way out the door," [Mark Wentzler of the National Parks Conservation Association] said.

If the EPA adopts the rule change, Wenzler added, his group plans to file a petition for reconsideration with the agency, which would allow the incoming Obama administration to reverse the policy. If the new rule is enacted, the association estimates it would ease the way for the construction of at least two dozen coal-fired utilities within 186 miles of 10 national parks.

I Read The News Today, Oh Boy: November 19, 2008

Life: Yr. End Issue-Sculpture Garden
"Monumental Head," bronze sculpture by Alberto Giacometti photographed in garden of Hirshhorn estate in Greenwich, Ct., 1973, Photographer Gjon Mili

The morning news shows are leading with today's message from Al Qaida threatening and insulting President-Elect Barack Obama. I am greatly amused to see the corporate media identify "house negro" as a racial insult, as Rush Limbaugh has been calling Obama "Barack the Magic Negro" for over a year and they have ignored his blatant racism.

Obama will appoint Eric Holder as his Attorney General, the first black AG in history. Pros: Holder has come out strongly in favor of the Geneva Conventions and against torture and Guantanamo. Cons: His corporate work, with Scooter Libby to get Marc Rich a pardon, and getting Chiquita Brands a slap on the wrist for hiring death squads to kill union organizers in Columbia. As I always say of defense lawyers, he's the best lawyer money can buy, so hopefully he will bring his prodigious skills over to the light for Obama. Here's a dailykos diary on the value of corporate lawyers.

Much gnashing of teeth from the corporate media about Hillary Clinton as SOS. Must be a good appointment then, if David Broder and David Ignatious and Thomas Friedman and Maureen Dowd are all wailing "Not Hillary!" They might get their way anyway, as Hillary is said to be unsure whether or not to accept the appointment.

Headline of the day: Texas grand Jury indicts Cheney, Gonzales

Rich, heartless bastard Mittwit Romney says: Let the auto companies go bankrupt. Yeah, let hundreds of thousands of workers eat cake. The progressive policy must be precisely the opposite. Here's a more responsible solution: The Right Way to Bail Out the Auto Industry

The Minnesota Senate recount starts today, with Norm Coleman holding a 215 vote, .008% lead. As Franken's spokesperson said, the score is 0-0 with 2.9 million votes to be counted. And as an aside, Traitor Joe Lieberman wrote an editorial for a Minnesota paper defending his pal Norm Coleman. The Senate Democrats should be ashamed of letting Judas Joe keep his committee chairmanship.

Looks like Missouri is no longer the nation's election bellwether, as McCain will take the Missouri electoral votes with a 4355 vote margin.

Obama's Possible Supreme Court Nominees reviews the possibilities. Their top ten candidates:

Sonia Sotomayor, 54 (I once argued an appellate case in front of her, and my knees-shaking impression was that she was very sparkly and vivacious. And kind.)

Deval Patrick, 52 (my governor!)

Elena Kagan, 48

Merrick Garland, 56

Cass Sunstein, 54

Diane P. Wood, 58

Jennifer Granholm, 49

Leah Ward Sears, 53

Harold Hongju Koh, 53

Ruben Castillo, 54

The Los Angeles Times also reviews the possibilities, and names many from's list, as well as

Janet Napolitano, 50 (governor of Arizona)

Life Magazine Photo Archive Now Online

Artist Pablo Picasso wearing a cow's head mask on beach at Golfe Juan near Vallauris, France, 1949
Photographer: Gjon Mili

LIFE photo archive hosted by Google

Guardian (uk): Life magazine photo collection goes online

One of the biggest photo collections in the world that ranges from the 1880s through to the seminal moments of the 20th century and on into the present day was made available to the public online yesterday.

The bulk of the archive is from Life magazine, the premier platform for photojournalists in the 20th century. About 10m images will eventually be available, from Marilyn Monroe and JFK to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. About 97% of the pictures have never been seen before.

Google announced yesterday it had done a deal with Life to put their pictures online. Also available is work from other archives, much of it collected by the former Time publisher Henry Luce.

The collection includes the entire works of Life photographers Alfred Eisenstaedt, Gjon Mili and Nina Leen. Also available are: the Zapruder film of the Kennedy assassination; Dahlstrom glass plates of New York from the 1880s; and Hugo Jaeger Nazi-era Germany 1937-1944.

Carved tribal drinking mug from Africa.
Date taken: 1901

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

All Hail American League MVP Pedroia the Destroia

Boston Globe: Most Valuable: Pedroia

Pedroia was named the American League Most Valuable Player today, becoming the first Red Sox player to earn the honor since Mo Vaughn in 1995. It is the 10th MVP award in club history. Minnesota's Justin Morneau finished second, and Pedroia's teammate, Kevin Youkilis, finished third.

Pedroia, who became just the eighth player in AL history to earn MVP, Gold Glove, and Silver Slugger awards in the same season


The 25-year-old Pedroia emerged as a franchise cornerstone and an offensive force in his second full major league season, batting .326 with 17 home runs and 83 RBIs while establishing franchise records for a season by a second baseman in runs, hits, doubles, batting average, total bases, and extra-base hits. He is the first Red Sox second baseman ever to be named MVP and the first AL player at his position to be so honored since Nellie Fox of the White Sox in 1959.


He became the third major league second baseman ever to tally 100 runs, 200 hits, 50 doubles, and 20 steals in a season, joining the Yankees' Alfonso Soriano (2002) and the Astros' Craig Biggio (1998).

After a slow start -- he was batting .260 on June 13 -- the fiery Pedroia was consistently outstanding through the rest of the summer, but his MVP candidacy gained momentum during a late-season stretch when he seemed to singlehandedly carry the Sox.

During a five-game period when Youkilis was briefly sidelined, Pedroia batted cleanup and hit .667 (12 for 18) with four doubles, two home runs, seven RBIs, and six runs scored. He batted .345 with an OPS of .949 in the second half, and in August and September, he batted a combined .353 with a .995 OPS.

Gold Glove awards aren't always the best indicator of good defensive play, but Pedroia truly did have an outstanding year with the glove. He made just six errors at second base, the same number of miscues he committed during his rookie season.

He finished second to Oakland's Mark Ellis in fielding percentage for AL players with at least 100 games at the position. His .992 was barely eclipsed by Ellis's .993, and it stands as the third-best percentage ever by a Red Sox second baseman, behind Mark Loretta (.994 in 2006) and Bobby Doerr (.993 in 1948).


Youkilis finished sixth in the AL in batting (.312), sixth in on-base percentage (.390), third in slugging (.569), and fourth in OPS (.958). He won the Hank Aaron Award as the best offensive performer in the league, but did not win the Silver Slugger award at first base, losing out in a vote of managers and coaches to Morneau.

Pedroia, who made just $457,000 last season, didn't have an MVP bonus provision in his contract. Morneau earned $75,000, while Youkilis got $25,000.

ESPN: Pedroia beats out Morneau to win AL MVP Pedroia named AL MVP
Teammate Youkilis gets two first-place votes, finishes third

NYTimes: Pedroia Is American League M.V.P.

Bye Bye Sen. Toobz (Updated)

Mark Begich's lead over Senator Ted Stevens is now 3,724. That is a difference of 1.18% which would give Begich the seat outright. Automatic recount would only be triggered by a margin of less than .5%.

No more Ted Stevens for us! We'll have to make do with Sen. Toobz greatest hit:

UPDATE: The Anchorage Daily News has called the race for Begich, as only 2,500 votes remain to be counted.

Congratulations to Senator Mark Begich!

I Read The News Today, Oh Boy: November 18, 2008

Tee shirts celebrating the victory of President-elect Barack Obama are offered for sale at a shop on Michigan Avenue November 17, 2008 in Chicago, Illinois. Obama, a long-time resident of Chicago, has set up his presidential transition office in the federal building a few blocks off Michigan Avenue. By Scott Olson/Getty Images.

We don't just need more Democrats -- we need better Democrats; the Senate Democrats are poised to leave Traitor Joe Lieberman in charge of the Homeland Security Committee. He failed to investigate the Bush Administration's failures in Katrina and Iraq during the past two years, but you can be sure he will be in high dudgeon soon enough for some perceived weakness by Obama. This is just disgusting behavior on the part of Senate Democrats who may as well be wearing "kick me" signs on their backs today.

In other bad news, AP reports that Obama's Justice Department will not prosecute anyone for torture. Again, this is a sign of weakness on Obama's part, and of not knowing his recent history. Democrats failed to prosecute the Iran-Contra criminals in the 1980s; and they formed the nucleus of the PNAC that led us into the disastrous war with Iraq. The torture cabal must be prosecuted and imprisoned so that they can't regroup and take over government again in 15 or 20 years. What Digby said: "when you let Republicans get away with murder, they will do it again."

Bushco is "burrowing" political appointees into civil service jobs -- career jobs -- in federal agencies. They're going to spend the next 63 days laying landmines for the Obama Administration.

Obama has named two attorneys who have fought in favor of Net Neutrality to head his FCC transition team.

Gregory Craig has been named Obama's White House counsel; he "quarterbacked" President Clinton's impeachment team.

The TSA's security theatre of the absurd is completely ineffective. Their own statistics show that less than 1% of people singled out for "behavior detection" were arrested (1,266 arrests of more than 160,000 people searched). As BoingBoing notes, who could have anticipated that a "'behavior detection' system whereby slack-jawed, water-confiscating security officers [are] trained to recognize your 'micro expressions' and single you out on the basis of a twitchy eyelid or a sweaty upper lip" would not work?

Query: Is Lisa Miller, Society Editor of the Newsweek (and OnFaith panelist at the Washington Post), the AntiChrist? Because she wrote a column that will be published in next week's Newsweek asking the same question about Barack Obama. Newsweek, asking if our next President is the AntiChrist. As evidence of bias, I present the fact that Newsweek never asked this question of either George W. Bush or Dickhead Cheney, both of whom could credibly claim to be Satan walking. Seriously, Newsweek: WTF?

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Hooky The sculpture "Fruits of Paradise - Pear" by Chinese artist couple Wu Shaoxiang and Jian Shuo is exhibited Thursday, Nov. 13, 2008 in Zurich, Switzerland. The art fair "Kunst08" will open Friday, Nov. 14 and last for three days.

Off for an unplugged weekend, back Sunday night.

Daily Inspiration

yahoo: A visitor passes by Vitaly Pushnitsky's sculpture 'Son' displayed at an exhibition during an independent national Russian award in contemporary art Kandinsky Prize at the Central House of Artists in Moscow, November 6, 2008.
(Denis Sinyakov/Reuters)

Hamster On a Piano

Friday, November 14, 2008

More Inspiration

A clay man sports an elaborate headdress at the Museum of Archaeology in Campeche, Mexico, which features various such depictions of ancient Maya in traditional dress.
(Paul Ross)

Experts describe the terra-cotta statuettes as the finest figurine art of ancient America. The museum in Campeche houses one of the most complete collections of Maya art in Mexico.
(Paul Ross)

Archaeologists say the Maya figures were buried with each deceased person on the island of Jaina, as many as 10,000 in all.
(Paul Ross)

Less politics, more art. From this Los Angeles Times travel section article.