Facebook Is The Devil

Josh Marshall has a good piece on Facebook VP of Advertising Rob Goldman’s earlier disingenuous tweets about the way Russians played Facebook like a fiddle to elect Trump, so I won’t rehash that.

But the later tweets embedded above are such classic Silicon Valley bullshit – “my company fucked up our country, shame on the government for not fixing it”. Never mind that Finland is a fairly homogeneous country of fewer than 6 million people which has been facing a real existential threat from Russia ever since WWII. Never mind that Facebook’s walled garden had (and, basically, still has) almost no content standards, no way for the captive audience of that platform to separate truth from bullshit in their feeds. And never mind that the whole platform is designed to keep people trapped inside rather than branching out to more reliable news outlets. No, on Goldman’s account, government needs to clean up the turds his company left on the sidewalk.

Facebook is bad, but Uber is the poster child for this Silicon Valley attitude. On one hand, they shit all over the attempts of government to regulate their ride service, when it’s obvious to anyone whose head isn’t buried in Atlas Shrugged that random strangers giving rides is something that needs a hell of a lot of oversight. On the other hand, as soon as their semi-moron “self driving” cars aren’t able to navigate the roads, government needs to build up road infrastructure so Uber can get rid of their army of underpaid drivers.

It is very god damned telling that a Facebook VP took to Twitter to defend Facebook, because media people generally don’t engage on Facebook. I’m not saying Twitter is an information paradise, but it reaches the low bar of being better than Facebook, which has been losing engagement as they try to deal with the fact that their feeds are garbage.

Sunday Morning Excellent Read / Open Thread: JOY!

Many of you will have seen this already, but I agree it’s worth sharing. Laura M. Holson, at the New York Times:

In the Trump era, Ms. Reid, the daughter of immigrants, has emerged as a heroine of the resistance to his leadership. And her forceful questioning style, matching that on conservative outlets like Fox, has resonated with MSNBC’s viewers. She is popular on social media with fans who fondly call themselves #reiders. Her morning show on Saturday averages nearly 1 million weekly viewers and, for the last four months, she has bested MSNBC’s competitor CNN, according to Nielsen, which tracks television ratings (granted, her competition then is general newsroom updates rather than another headline personality).

“Our prime directive is to constantly remind people that this is not normal and not to allow it to become mundane,” Ms. Reid said in a recent interview at MSNBC’s studios in Midtown Manhattan, referring to the architecture of the Trump presidency. Each week she makes sure to discuss the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. “We feel like one of our duties is to keep that story top of mind because it’s fundamentally about whether we truly choose our own leaders,” she said.

Ms. Reid was born in Brooklyn and raised in Denver alongside two siblings mostly by their mother, a college professor and nutritionist from Guyana; their father left the family when she was a child for his native Democratic Republic of Congo. “He was a phone father,” Ms. Reid said. At 17, she was accepted to Harvard University, where she planned to study medicine.

But her mother died of breast cancer three weeks before school started. “I failed a bunch of classes,” Ms. Reid said. “I was just depressed.” She took a year off, returned to Brooklyn — staying with an aunt and working a temp job at Columbia Pictures — and then switched her major to documentary filmmaking.

“I was thinking Hollywood movies,” she said. “Come to find out Harvard doesn’t do that. So I had to study documentary.”

Ms. Reid had also always been captivated by politics. In the late 1990s she moved to Miami to write for a local television morning show. There, she became a fixture among South Florida lawmakers. She was involved in minority outreach for voter education and blogged. In 2005 she met James Thomas, a longtime disc jockey and radio veteran known as James T, who hired her to produce a talk radio show for listeners in the black community…

Ms. Reid got her television break in 2014 when she was hired by MSNBC to create a daily show called “The Reid Report.” It was short-lived, though, canceled the next year because of poor ratings (along with Ronan Farrow’s). “It was stressful because it was daily,” Ms. Reid said. “There was a lot more management eyes on us. And when it ended, you know, it was not fun. But it did enable me to do something I hadn’t done in my career, which was to actually be a field reporter.”…

In her class for Syracuse, which she teaches in Manhattan, Ms. Reid addresses the precarious definition of what the president calls “fake news,” and why it is a dangerous concept. “Now, something is ‘true’ because you like it,” she said. “If the information is displeasing to you or makes you uncomfortable, or is in opposition to your ideology, then it is ‘fake.’” She is concerned consumers of news will isolate themselves, believing only what makes them feel good. “That’s the problem,” she said…


Apart from applauding our sheroes, what’s on the agenda for the day / week?

Late Night Horrorshow Open Thread: Who Does the NRA Actually Represent?


Ever wonder if maybe the monsters are already here on Maple Street?


And speaking of politicians who are neither Democrats nor helpful when it comes to gun safety measures…
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We never got if off on that revolution stuff

It’s been kind of a brutal week politically. There’s something to remember though: things will change politically when the baby boomers die off and millennials become the dominant political block in our country.

I don’t know that well how baby boomers think, but I do understand how my generation, Gen X, does, to some extent. And I think millennials see the world very differently than my generation does. It’s fair to say that I, and many of you, grew up in a world where Broderism, and worse yet Reaganism, was pushed on us by the media in a way that is not that different from what goes on in North Korea. I try very hard not to be both sides person, but the truth is…it’s hard not to have it in the back of your mind sometimes. It was pushed into our heads for so long. And also too, my generation always felt (correctly) that the world is a shitty place that we’d never be able to change. In a lot of ways, we are, to quote the boomers’ biggest obsession, like a dog that’s been beaten too much.

And a huge proportion of people over 60 have been completely brainwashed by Murdoch media.

A lot has been made about the how the kids at Parkland have reacted eloquently and angrily to the school shooting. They think it’s outrageous that we don’t have gun control but they don’t think gun control is a lost cause, and it’s not in their lifetimes. (It will be quite a while.)

I truly believe that the current political situation is just a phase. It’s a damaging one, unfortunately, but it will end. The group of people my age and older are a lost cause, but the next generation, whatever problems it may have, lacks the political pathologies that have taken our government into a ditch.

Puppers Open Thread

I was just telling a friend this, and thought I would share with you all. I got new neighbors a couple months ago- she is a nurse and he is a cop, and they live across the street two doors down. Young- early 20’s, and seem to be very nice. I took them a lemon meringue pie I bought from the church women’s club semi-annual bake sale and chatted with them as they were moving in and met her mom, who was there helping, and they seem like good people. At any rate, they had one small barky dog in the same size range as my herd, but they recently got the most adorable Pyrenees puppy.

Every time I come home from somewhere and I see her out (I always drive in that direction around the block so that my car is parked on the right side of the road facing the correct way), I roll down my window and say hi and she gets all excited, and sits there and wait for me as I park my car and walk back down to love on her.

She is absolutely adorable and the softest, sweetest thing you have ever met. I wish I could adequately describe how delightful her fur is to touch. And she has this ginormous cold wet nose. She just *extreme Oprah voice* AMAZING.

I’m currently being weighed down by two dogs and a cat watching television:

Lily is to my side, and you can’t see her. I’m starting to lose feeling in my left foot, but every time I try to move slightly Steve digs in with his claws, so I am hoping when it dies and the foot needs to be amputated the surgeon will be understanding.

Recipe Thread: Winter Cooking Blues

As promised..

I’m so very tired of winter cooking. Stews, soups (ok, I’m never really tired of soup), roasted meats and veggies. Time to freshen things up.

But with what? The produce section is often disappointing with flavorless items that haven’t seen the light of day. But there are some bright spots and with those I can wave away the winter cooking blues.

First up: Peppers and onions.

This is the time of year when you can find a variety of sweet peppers in all kinds of colors at a pretty reasonable price. My recipes are usually fairly simple. Heat up olive oil, add thinly sliced onions and peppers, season with a dash of salt and pepper. Sauté until they soften and onion are golden. Remove from heat and now you can cook up any number of things: chicken marinated in lemon juice and pepper, thin beef strips marinated in teriyaki and ponzu sauce, pork medallions marinated in apple juice and a bit of apple cider vinegar. The ideas are endless. Serve over rice, mashed potatoes, butter noodles, quinoa…

Or how about Fajitas? That recipe is here.

Next up: Fresh salads.

I found a nice jicama one day and realized I hadn’t made a batch of Jicama Slaw since last summer.  A big bowl of that in the refrigerator to munch on all week really lifted the flavor blahs. You can find the recipe here.

Two other summer favorites that are easy to make mid-winter: Potato Salads (recipes here) and Coleslaw (recipe here).

How about fruits?

Now is the time for Strawberries (recipes here and here)

Blood Oranges (recipes here)

And Grapes – one of my favorite grape recipes is Grapes and Sausagesrecipe here.

That should be enough help you get through a few more weeks of winter while dreaming of the fresh vegetables soon to come from gardens and farm stands.

Bonus Recipe:

Pasta photo by JeffreyW

Pasta w/Spinach Cheese Marinara Sauce: 

  • 2 tsp to 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 4 mushrooms, washed & sliced
  • ½ green pepper, chopped
  • 2-14 oz cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste*
  • 3 cups fresh spinach, chopped
  • 2 tsp basil, crushed
  • 2 tsp oregano, crushed
  • 1 tsp thyme, crushed
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • ½ cup grated Romano cheese
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 12 oz bow-tie pasta (farfalle)

2 saucepans

Bring water for pasta to a boil in large saucepan, add pasta and cook according to directions to al dente.

Meanwhile, heat oil in the other saucepan; sauté onions, mushrooms & peppers until onions are golden.  Add remaining ingredients (except pasta) bring to a low boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat to med-low, cover and let simmer until pasta is done cooking. As the pasta finishes up, add a ladle or two of pasta water to the sauce.

Drain pasta well and toss together with sauce.  Serve with additional Parmesan & Romano cheeses if desired.

*you can freeze the remainder in an ice cube tray and store in a freezer bag.


And of course, bonus puppies. There is a complete update and lots more photos here.

What’s on your menu tonight?

Gun Safety Open Thread: The Status Quo Will Continue, Until It Erodes Away

I can remember when asking someone not to smoke in a clearly marked NO SMOKING area was considered a social gaffe. Pushy! Uncivil! It was the 1980s…

The NRA, because they need the sales, is committed to bribing or threatening lawmakers into insisting that more guns be allowed in more places. There’s a loud, angry minority of our fellow citizens who are convinced that more guns in more places is their only protection against… everything. But IIRC, there was a lot higher percentage of adult American smokers when the first serious smoking laws were passed than there are “NRA priority voters” now…

Took a look around, see which way the wind blow

Whenever I see an interesting article about a possible Democratic presidential candidate, I’m going to put something up about it here. Unless it’s Joe Biden or Bernie, I think they’re too old.

Here’s a brief one, by George Will of all people, about Eric Garcetti, mayor of LA. I don’t agree with Will on much in general (and don’t appreciate the swipe at Obama), but I think he’s right that being a mayor of a big city is at least as challenging as being a Senator or the governor of a small state. And I like the argument in favor of sanctuary cities.

I’d been ignoring Garcetti because I had him mixed up with the previous mayor of LA, whom I don’t like.

Tell me about any interesting articles about possible presidential candidates in the comments!

And let’s raise a little more money for the DLCC, which is doing a great job helping Democrats take back the state houses.

Goal Thermometer

Well That’s Just What We Needed

So the flooding has subsided slightly, all the roads are a disaster zone with the edges washed away and half the guard rails just hanging off cliffs, so OF COURSE the temperatures have dropped to 30 and it is snowing.

Democrats Should Be Championing This

This is awesome:

On the same day a Philly.com op-ed was published in which Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner (and Mayor Kenney) admitted the failure that was the “War on Drugs,” in the 1980s and ’90s, the DA’s office announced that it is suing 10 pharmaceutical companies in connection with the opioid epidemic and is dropping all outstanding marijuana possession charges.

In just a little over a month since taking office, Krasner has already built on the progress that began under former mayor Michael Nutter’s administration by further reforming the city’s drug policy to the point where getting busted with pot now no longer means a court date is in your future. Krasner says citations are issued approximately 90 percent of the time someone is caught with marijuana.

“What we’re talking about is the 10 percent or so that are being charged as they used to be, as misdemeanors in court,” Krasner said during a press conference Thursday. From now on, the DA will advise his staff not to pursue criminal charges against anyone arrested for marijuana possession in the city. Citations currently range from $25 for possession to $100 for those caught toking up in public.

“I did it because I felt it was the right thing to do,” Krasner said when asked of his motivation. “We could use those resources to solve homicides.”

Additionally, the DA’s office said that it had filed a lawsuit on February 2nd against Big Pharma under Pennsylvania’s Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Laws for their alleged role in creating the city’s opioid epidemic. The defendants are Purdue Pharma, L.P.; Purdue Pharma, Inc.; The Purdue Frederick Company, Inc.; Allergan Finance, LLC; Cephalon, Inc.; Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc.; Endo Health Solutions, Inc.; Endo Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; and Johnson & Johnson.

Meanwhile, in West Virginia:

West Virginia lawmakers rejected a proposal Thursday that would have required drug companies to report the number of prescription opioids manufactured and shipped to the state during the past decade.

By a 20-11 vote, state senators shot down a proposed amendment to legislation that aims to curb the proliferation of prescription painkillers across West Virginia.

Sen. Stephen Baldwin, D-Greenbrier, who offered the amendment, said the state has failed to hold drug companies accountable for the opioid epidemic. He called the manufacturers and distributors “one of the primary perpetrators” of the public health crisis that claims 880 lives a year and costs the state an estimated $8 billion.

“These are companies that profited tremendously when they sold us these opioids, and now they continue to profit by selling us medication-assisted-treatment drugs to get us off the opioids we’re addicted to,” Baldwin said. “They profited from our misery.”

Senate Republicans who voted against the amendment said the measure would likely impede federal lawsuits filed by cities and towns across the state against drug distributors and manufacturers. Those cases have been consolidated with lawsuits in other states and are being heard by a federal judge in Cleveland.

Protecting businesses from their actions is our state’s #1 priority.

Russiagate Open Thread: Into the Wayback Machine…



Yeah, but at least the Democrats aren’t actively abetting our foreign enemies…

Two Things That Give Me Hope

Yesterday, Betty wrote about signs of hope that this shooting might cause some change. I’m not a natural optimist about the human condition, but I’m feeling just a wee bit hopeful, for two reasons.

First, this mom explains the stark, ugly, brutal reality of “active shooter training” better than I ever could:

According to the ALICE training company, over 1 million kids have been exposed to the notion that they should scurry around like noisy frightened rabbits if someone with a gun starts shooting up their school.

Second, we naturally focus on the children and adults who are killed or maimed in these shootings, but the damage goes far beyond that:

On that day, Townville’s [S.C.] kids joined a group that now includes more than 150,000 students, attending at least 170 primary or secondary schools, who have experienced a shooting on campus since the Columbine High School massacre in 1999, according to a Post analysis of online archives, state and federal enrollment figures and news stories. That doesn’t count dozens of suicides, accidents and after-school assaults that have also exposed children to gunfire.

That number surprised the hell out of me, even though I should have imagined it. 150,000 kids felt, to some extent, the sheer terror of possible violent death. Many of them have lasting psychic scars, like the 7 year-old girl profiled in the piece where that stat is quoted.

These are just two examples of how we are inflicting damage upon our children just to mollify a bunch of gun humpers with big mouths and deep pockets. At some time – and I’m not going to delude myself into thinking that time is now – we’re going to say enough.

Saturday Morning Open Thread: Adventure Tourism in Glorious Wakanda!

The Spousal Unit and I intend to make one of our rare forays to see this in an actual movie theatre. Just not this weekend, cuz we’re old and not good with crowds. (And there will *be* crowds — quite possibly our local chains are already sold out.) Herewith some links to stuff about the movie that y’all might find interesting.


The first movie I remember seeing in a theater had a black hero. Lando Calrissian, played by Billy Dee Williams, didn’t have any superpowers, but he ran his own city. That movie, the 1980 Star Wars sequel The Empire Strikes Back, introduced Calrissian as a complicated human being who still did the right thing. That’s one reason I grew up knowing I could be the same.

If you are reading this and you are white, seeing people who look like you in mass media probably isn’t something you think about often. Every day, the culture reflects not only you but nearly infinite versions of you—executives, poets, garbage collectors, soldiers, nurses and so on. The world shows you that your possibilities are boundless. Now, after a brief respite, you again have a President.

Those of us who are not white have considerably more trouble not only finding representation of ourselves in mass media and other arenas of public life, but also finding representation that indicates that our humanity is multi­faceted. Relating to characters onscreen is necessary not merely for us to feel seen and understood, but also for others who need to see and understand us. When it doesn’t happen, we are all the poorer for it…

Derek Robertson, at Politico, “How the Quietly Radical ‘Black Panther’ Took Over Hollywood”:

[I]f you’ve been on the internet at any point over the past 12 months, you’ve likely noticed the intensifying hype around that hero’s upcoming film, the 18th in Marvel Studios’ endless procession of world-beating blockbusters. With a nostalgist in the White House who seems to relish sticking his finger in the country’s open wound of racial grievance, it’s easy to understand why a big-budget, black-directed superhero film featuring an almost entirely black cast would be cause for celebration. But its appeal doesn’t lie solely in backlash. Black Panther may have never sold as many copies as Spider-Man or The Incredible Hulk, but the series’ history and politics are as rich and unique as either, if not more so—and they explain how this moment helped poise a formerly second-string hero to shatter box-office records…

The cultural critic Mark Dery coined the term “Afrofuturism” in a 1993 essay, referring to the loosely defined common characteristics of black science fiction in art spanning from Sun Ra’s experimental jazz to the novels of Octavia Butler. Author and UCLA professor Tananarive Due recently described its unique function in the African diaspora as a “reimagining of race, racial constructs, history … and liberation themes, through what we call a speculative lens.” Black Panther, both the comic series and the film, falls squarely on this continuum, as has been noted in several features leading up to the movie’s release. Due, on a recent podcast appearance, discussed Afro-futurism’s galvanizing effect in providing representations of black “power, technological prowess, courage, family [and] community.”

The upcoming film is the most prominent example of the phenomenon thus far, directed and co-written by Fruitvale Station and Creed auteur Ryan Coogler with the full production and marketing strength of the Disney-industrial complex behind him. It pits the Panther, portrayed by Chadwick Boseman, against Erik Killmonger (portrayed by frequent Coogler collaborator Michael B. Jordan), an American rival and mercenary who aims to usurp his throne and foment a global revolution…

Zack Linly, in the Washington Post:

The enthusiasm around “Black Panther” isn’t just about finally getting to see a mostly black action blockbuster, a milestone we should have been celebrating decades ago. It’s about being able to go to the movies without feeling like the future of black film is at stake.
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Commenter WaterGirl is, as many of you are aware from her comments, puppysitting. Apparently some of you who are aware have been asking for pictures. Well here they are. I have no ideas what the puppies’ names are, that wasn’t included (apparently I don’t need to know), so pester WaterGirl in the comments for the specifics. Her dogs, Tucker and Henry are marked below their individuals pictures.



Open thread!

Cruel to be Kine

This post was overtaken by fast moving Mueller events earlier today so I’m reposting it now.

Don’t ever let some snooty keyboard player tell you that they invented the Theme and Variations. It was us, the fretboard players! I have a theory why we did so; the particular technical demands of the instrument require lots of practice to get a piece of music under one’s fingers. Guitarists can be trained to sight-read fluently, but in general we don’t. We hole up in our bedrooms or studios or dining room tables and hammer away at something for weeks or months or even years. So, the stuff we learn carves a deep groove. Plus we want to get value for our effort, so we come up with ways to spin stuff out another sixteen bars or times through the verse. Variation comes naturally to us. Even intermediate players feel the call to improvise and compose. Learning guitar music is quite a solitary pursuit, too. There’s no conductor beating time and telling us we’re done with our part, no other musicians to yield to. We can just go on and on if the fancy takes us.  That’s my theory, anyway.

As I mentioned earlier this week, I am working up a set of stuff suitable for background music for happy hours and the like. I’ve decided that it will take the shape of a walk through music history. Partially for aesthetic purposes and also for practical ones. My repertoire is spread pretty evenly from the Renaissance up to the 20th century. I tell you this to illustrate how a a swell idea blossoms into an arduous task, an untenable ordeal, and finally a high-minded failure. But it keeps me off the pavement.

The vihuelaist (the vihuela is a cousin of the guitar) Luis de Narvaez  set of “differencias” or variations was the first ever published. This is his Guardame las Vacas which is in a slightly different in character. It is a set of variations based not on a theme but a ground. That is, a set of chords that repeats over and over. If you listen closely you can hear the harmony I play repeats while what goes over the top becomes increasingly more elaborate. Jimi Hendrix’s “Hey Joe” is a bit like that, for reference. If you listen to his guitar part you will find rather than strumming some set pattern he varies it with almost every iteration. Did he know he was partaking of a centuries old guitar tradition? Very likely, I think!

Still a little rough (I just started it in earnest a few weeks ago), but coming around nicely. I’m like the only classical player I know who doesn’t know this one already. Shameful. Just one of those odd lacunas in one’s education.

I think both Luis de Narvaez and Jimi Hendrix would recognize a tip jar when they see it. And this is mine. It is the fund that’s split between all eventual
Democratic nominees in House districts currently held by Republicans.

Goal Thermometer