I’m Too Sexy for this Blog

Steve struts his stuff for you ladies:

Specimen.








Balloon Juice Site Rebuild – Thursday Update

Hey, everyone. Anybody interested in an update on the site rebuild?  Lots of site rebuild news to share, and all good, I think!

First, some fun facts from Google Analytics:

– 87% of the Balloon Juice traffic starts at the home page. Good thing I didn’t bet on that; I would have lost my house.

– 70% of the traffic is direct to the site; 15% comes from Google.

– 54% of users are on desktops, about one-third are on mobile, 14% are on tablets.

Before moving on to more interesting news… You guys have my sincere apologies for my not doing my google analytics homework in advance; if I had, the Monday night worries most certainly could have been avoided.

Those of you who were here for the Monday night thread will know that by bedtime on Monday we had kicked front page options #1-5 to the curb. Today I can confirm that the decision to go with full posts on the front page has been finalized, and we have the full support of the developers on that. As the saying goes, if the 87% ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!

More news. The kickoff meeting was on Friday, May 3, the mockup phase began just a week ago on Monday, May 6, and the mockup phase ended just 8 days later on Tuesday, May 14. And the development phase started first thing on Wednesday morning!

This is the most competent, professional and personable team I have ever worked with on a website development project. Every one of them is sharp as a tack, and they totally rolled with the punches when I wrote to them on Friday night. Many of us are old enough to remember when Sally Field won an academy award, and she swooned in her speech: “You like me, you really like me!” Well, this was kind of the anti-Sally-Field email. “They hate it, they really HATE it!” (meaning the Front Page mockup) We were really happy that most of you really liked the Individual Thread mockups, so no take-backs on that, please!

I’ll be putting up a thread at some point over the weekend, asking for testers. We are looking for folks who have time to do some serious testing: pressing every button, clicking every link, trying the same things on multiple devices, operating systems or multiple browsers. So think about whether you’re interested and whether you might have some time for that, and maybe start thinking about the devices etc that you are able to test on because in the testing volunteers thread we will be asking you to provide specific information about your devices, operating systems, and browsers.

My best guess is that testing could start as early as 2 weeks from now, but I expect to have a better idea about that by the end of next week.

The developers use a program called BrowserStack, which says it gives users a seamless experience by testing on 2000+ real devices and browsers instead of using emulators and simulators.

So the developers may well have it covered, but in my opinion there’s nothing like real people who know the ins and outs of a site and the particulars of how we use Balloon Juice to verify that all is good. No rollout of any system has ever been perfect, probably in the history of the world, so I don’t expect this one to be, either. We have some pretty sophisticated users here, so I say we do our best to help find anything there is to find before rollout.

I’ll be taking names and detailed information from testing volunteers on the weekend training thread. In the meantime, have at it.

Edit: every thread needs a photo, right?  My tree peony blooms opened today.








Wag the Dog Open Thread: “Not Saying We Won’t Get Our Hair Mussed… “


No, really. (It was a ‘surprise appearance’ to ‘thank American troops for their service’.

Meanwhile, perpetual war cheerleader Tom Cotton is doing his best General Turgidson imitation:

… because nothing props up a Republican “president”‘s sagging self-esteem poll numbers like a nice photogenic foreign war, amirite?!?

The main firewall against John Bolton and his acolytes right now seems to be that Trump thinks (a)being in charge of a war is too much work; and (b) it would give entirely too much media attention to people who are not Donald Trump. Slender reed.
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John Roberts says “Hold My Beer”

Justice John Paul Stevens:

District of Columbia v. Heller, which recognized an individual right to possess a firearm under the Constitution, is unquestionably the most clearly incorrect decision that the Supreme Court announced during my tenure on the bench.

The text of the Second Amendment unambiguously explains its purpose: “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” When it was adopted, the country was concerned that the power of Congress to disarm the state militias and create a national standing army posed an intolerable threat to the sovereignty of the several states.

***

That’s cold comfort. I have written in other contexts that an amendment to the Constitution to overrule Heller is desperately needed to prevent tragedies such as the massacre of 20 grammar-school children at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012, from ever happening again. But such tragedies have indeed happened again. In the course of writing the chapter of my memoir that discusses Heller, on October 1, 2017, a gunman fired from the 32nd floor of a hotel in Las Vegas, killing at least 58 people and injuring more than 500 more who were attending an outdoor concert. I had not yet finished the chapter when another mass shooting occurred, this one involving the death of 26 people—including three generations of a single family—at a church on November 5, 2017, in Sutherland Springs, Texas. More shootings have happened since.

You ain’t seen nothing yet.








Pence Administration Cracks Down on Nefarious LGBT Plot to Have Children

As you are no doubt aware, same-sex couples cannot conceive children the same way opposite-sex couples can. While many choose to adopt, others choose to make what my husband and I call Science Babies. For male* couples, this usually involves one partner’s sperm and a surrogate; for female* couples, one provides the egg (and often womb), and then there is a sperm donor.

In a small but nasty administrative decision, the Pence wing of the administration has combined forces with the Trump wing to begin challenging birthright citizenship for gay couples who have Science Babies overseas:

Last summer, the State Department issued new rules unilaterally changing the department’s interpretation of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), a 1952 law that, along with the 14th Amendment, codifies eligibility for U.S. birthright citizenship.

“The U.S. Department of State interprets the INA to mean that a child born abroad must be biologically related to a U.S. citizen parent,” the State Department’s website says. “Even if local law recognizes a surrogacy agreement and finds that U.S. parents are the legal parents of a child conceived and born abroad… if the child does not have a biological connection to a U.S. citizen parent, the child will not be a U.S. citizen at birth.”

Under the policy[…] children born via gestational surrogacy and other forms of assisted reproductive technology (ART) are considered to be born “out of wedlock,” in the State Department’s words—even if their parents, like Roee and Adiel, are legally married.

I’m sure you’ll be shocked to learn that these new rules only seem to apply to children born to same-sex couples.

For parents of non-traditional families, the policy change has been a disaster, leaving them to navigate the labyrinthine immigration legal system with little guidance from the State Department and, at the moment, little recourse for appeal. Children of U.S. citizens are put at risk of deportation or even statelessness—despite no textual legal basis for the policy.

[…]“Assumption of parentage,” as the State Department calls it, now seems to LGBT parents to be reserved solely for heterosexual married couples.

Indeed, friends of ours recently had a Science Baby who was born in Thailand, and they had to jump through a number of hoops, including several genetic tests, to get the kid a passport. The whole article shows just how much of a mess the administrative state is for same-sex couples right now. The pretzels we had to twist ourselves into pre-Obergefell and Windsor have ramifications that will echo through our lives until this is cleaned up by actual laws. Which will not happen any time soon. In the meantime, administrations which decide that they can reinterpret the law to their liking, since nobody is likely to stop them, will do so.

What’s most galling for me is that this is not a large number of people. Many of these people are servicemembers. There is no legitimate reason to do this. I can’t even imagine what they’ll cook up in court to make it seem like there is. In the Trump era, they don’t even have the goddamn courtesy to give us a pretext any more.

*Chromosomal sex








On the Road and In Your Backyard

Good Morning All,

On The Road and In Your Backyard is a weekday feature spotlighting reader submissions. From the exotic to the familiar, please share your part of the world, whether you’re traveling or just in your locality. Share some photos and a narrative, let us see through your pictures and words. We’re so lucky each and every day to see and appreciate the world around us!

Submissions from commenters are welcome at tools.balloon-juice.com

Have a wonderful day, and enjoy the pictures!

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Thursday Morning Open Thread: Here We Go Again

(Tom Toles via GoComics.com)
.

I’m old enough I can remember being thrilled when Roe v Wade passed. At the time, my teenage self couldn’t imagine that we’d have to fight the same battles against ignorance, hypocrisy, and misogyny all over again… but the older I got, the more it became clear it would happen, sooner or later.








Cold Grey Pre-Dawn Open Thread: Cosplay Socialists for Fox

Elsewhere in the Extremely Online multiverse…


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Late Night Thieves’ Paradise Open Thread: SPACE PIRATES!!!

There’s a joke to be made that Ted Cruz might possibly be a space alien in a badly-designed human suit, but seriously: even TV Tropes doesn’t take ‘Space Pirates’ seriously.

Of course, Raphael ‘Ted’ Cruz is taking the resulting online abuse predictably:


 
Presumably related, somehow, to Cruz’s new boogeymonsters (note Rep. Johnson’s home state):

“Education – feh! SPACE PIRATES, pew pew pew!”








Catitude

He’s a little pissed but coming around:

Lily has no idea what is going on and is just living her best life.

*** Update ***

Steve had a special dinner, has recovered from the trauma of the experience, and is now loving on me pretty hard:

He’s perched on the arm of my chair, where he spends most every night, and we are getting along like peas and carrots.








Floriduh! Man & Woman: Easily Triggered and Not Very Bright Edition

Oy vey…

From NBC News:

A Florida man called police to report a comedian of Middle Eastern descent who he believed had told a joke that showed support for terrorism.

Standup comic Ahmed Ahmed, who is of Egyptian descent, poked fun at negative stereotypes of Muslims during a set at Off The Hook Comedy Club in Naples, Florida, on Saturday night.

“Clap if you’re from the Middle East,” Ahmed said, according to a clip posted on the club’s Facebook page.

After a smattering of cheers, Ahmed slyly responded: “All right. We got a handful of us in in here, nice. But, hey, it only takes one of us … to tell a joke.”

At least one member of the audience didn’t get the punchline.

The man called the Collier County Sheriff’s Department and told a deputy that Ahmed was organizing people of Middle Eastern descent to possibly commit terrorism.

“He said, `That’s great.’ He said, `We can organize our own little terrorist organization,’ and I don’t think that was right. I mean it really bothered me,” the caller said, according to audio of the call released by the sheriff’s department. “And I yelled out, `And the paddy wagon is going to be outside to get all of you.’ “

The man added: “My wife and I looked at each other and we felt very uncomfortable.”

The caller told authorities he was only at the club because he was given free tickets.

Ahmed told NBC News on Wednesday that the “it only takes one of us” line is in his regular act and it’s never sparked any blowback.

“I’ve told that joke about 1,000 times around the world,” Ahmed said. “Whatever he heard and what I said are two different things.”

The comic said he stuck around after Saturday’s show to meet with any fans who wanted to speak with him or snap pictures.

“Terrorists don’t do meet-and-greets,” the comic said. “We don’t say, `Death to America!’ and then, `But wait, let’s do selfies first.’ “

Deputies showed up to the club Sunday before Ahmed’s set that night, briefly interviewed him and left without incident.

“They couldn’t have been nicer,” Ahmed said of the responding deputies. “One of them said, `Don’t change anything, keep doing what you’re doing.’ That was refreshing to hear.”

Club owner Brien Spina said he’s been booking Ahmed to his club for more than a decade, and won’t stop now.

“For me it was a great joke. I stand behind him,” said Spina, who booked Ahmed for another gig, on Wednesday of next week. “His show is great.”

The comic said he has no ill will toward the caller. If anything, he wants to shake his hand.

“I want to say, `Thank you,’ to him,” Ahmed said. “He got more publicity for me in that one phone call than ever. You want to talk about a blessing in disguise.”

Given that this took place in one of the more reactionary portions of the Gunshine State, Ahmed is lucky that this guy just called the cops.

You just gotta laugh. At the morons.

Open thread!








Open Thread: Duck, Duck, Crab

Wait. What?

Now you can all have nightmares like I had after seeing this…

I am heading out of town and won’t be around much to post until I return, so this Pearl update will have to hold you.

She has finally figured out she’s a duck and no longer follows me everywhere (yes, I am both relieved and sad).  And after a few hours behind the pet yard she easily integrated with the other ducks.

Mabel would chase her. Mabel is the brown one and until she started chasing her, I thought she was mild-mannered. Who knew she was the strong silent type. Pearl does not back down, just goes back to try and make friends. And for some reason, she follows Maddie (my grey one) all around, much to Maddie’s annoyance.

She still sleeps inside at night, but once I return I’ll see about moving her to the coop. I assume if there is trouble they will make such ruckus I’ll be able to go out and stop it.

I have to finish up work and packing. So you’re on your own. Open thread








Wednesday Evening Open Thread: Round ‘Em Up








RAWR

He’s back under the deck where he likes to spend his afternoons. We’ll see how pissed he is later.








Schaden, meet Freude

Everything the Shitgibbon touches turns to…well, merde:

Late last year, in a Miami conference room, a consultant for President Trump’s company said business at his prized 643-room Doral resort was in sharp decline.

At Doral, which Trump has listed in federal disclosures as his biggest moneymaker hotel, room rates, banquets, golf and overall revenue were all down since 2015. In two years, the resort’s net operating income — a key figure, representing the amount left over after expenses are paid — had fallen by 69 percent.

But what about that Trump economic boom? Alas:

Even in a vigorous economy, the property was missing the Trump Organization’s internal business targets; for instance, the club expected to take in $85 million in revenue in 2017 but took in just $75 million.

And what could be the reason that a venerable, once-much-admired, landmark property would do so poorly?

“They are severely underperforming” other resorts in the area, tax consultant Jessica Vachiratevanurak told a Miami-Dade County official in a bid to lower the property’s tax bill. The reason, she said: “There is some negative connotation that is associated with the brand.”

I have never met Ms. Vachiratevarunak, but I already admire her greatly. That last line? Olympic-level shade.

The WaPo article linked above is full of similar delights:

On one recent weekday in Miami, the JW Marriott Miami Turnberry Resort and Spa — a top competitor of Doral’s — was bustling with families eating dinner and children playing in the pool.

A few miles away, Trump’s Doral was shining, spotless and heavily branded. The Trump name was on chocolate bars ($5) and shot glasses ($10), and even on the paper inserts at the bottom of the bathroom wastebaskets.

But it was also much quieter.

Carl Goldstein — a retired butcher, visiting as part of a Passover tour group — had the lobby almost to himself.

It turns out that racism and viciousness drive away sponsors and guests? Whodathunkit?

TL:DR Incompetent grifter’s grift cracks.

This thread…it is open.

Image: Jan Steen, Dancing Peasants at an Inn1646