Category Archives: Uncategorized

Chart of the day: Barry boosts Bush?

The latest numbers from Gallup reveal something most folks probably thought impossible: Dubya’s becoming popular again. We suspect that folks are starting to grasp that his successor apparently loves him so much that he’s doing the very same things Dub did. WWDD?


Mass anti-austerity protests erupt in Europe

First, a report from Al Jazeera:

Demonstrators across Europe have embarked on protests against government austerity measures.

Protesters took to the streets in Spain, Portugal and Greece on Saturday to direct their anger against the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and the European Central Bank (ECB) while in Germany, demonstrators rallied for the second day in succession.

Protesters say they are demonstrating against the institutions’ role in pushing for austerity cutbacks as a way to fight the continent’s debt crisis.

Read the rest.

Next, a video report from RT on the action in Frankfurt:

From the program notes:

Bank in Frankfurt, Germany. The of anti-austerity demonstrators surrounded other financial organs paralysing the area.

They hoped to cut off access to institutions they deem to be at the heart of the recession crippling eurozone countries.

Many workers were advised to stay home.

Later marching on Frankfurt airport, the Blockupy activists were greeted by police who used batons to keep them from disrupting Europe’s busiest air terminal.

Protests in Athens highlight labor conscription

Greece’s center/right coalition government has found a unique qay of fighting protests. The government simply conscripts striking workers, effectively putting them under martial law.

But that didn’t stop a group of workers in Athens today, as Iran’s PressTV reports:

From the program notes:

Teachers, maritime workers, transport employees and local authority workers remain conscripted under military law.

They are prohibited from striking and any industrial action they pursue sets in motion a detention and arrest mechamism enforced by police, authorised by the courts.

Civil mobilisation orders do not expire unless explicitly nulled by the High Court.

Teachers are the most recently conscripted state workers. Their wages and pensions have been slashed by repeated austerity cuts and so has the state funding of public education, all by some 40 percent.

Seamen were conscripted last year, they too are at the mercy of fiscal restrictions demanded by Greece’s troika lenders. Despite conscription, they threaten to hold repeated strikes as of next Wednesday if they are not paid overdue wages by the country’s shipping industry.

Employees at the Athens Urban Rail Transport dared hold a strike earlier in the year but they too were conscripted upon the first hour of their walkout.

Local authority employees were conscripted in 2011.

Chaos erupts in Turkey

Meanwhile, massive protests have erupted across Turkey following brutal police repression of a protest in Istanbul sparked by plans to turn a public park over to private developers for creation of a new shopping mall.

A report from RT:

Ze Frank: The Human Test

Well, are you or aren’t you human?

Take Ze Frank’s test and find out!

Take The Human Test [Volume 1]

Take The Human Test [Volume 2]

Human Test Volume 3: Love & Loss

For more choice goodness, see his vlog.

Mr. Fish: Make Love

From his virtuously venerous blog, Clowncrack:


Mr. Fish: This Just In

From his salubriosly sanguiferous blog, Clowncrack:


Mr. Fish: This Just In

From his serenedipitously sensifacient blog, Clowncrack:


Mr. Fish: Be A Cock

From Clowncrack, his blog of avian aesthesia.


Quote of the day: Journalists, pols, and penises

From the always perceptive journalist and screenwriter David Simon:

I told myself that I wasn’t in journalism to chase something so ordinary, so adolescent as other people’s sexuality, that I wouldn’t play this game, that there were better reasons to be a reporter, and there were better things for readers to consume.  I knew that one soldier opting out from such a lurid and exalted battlefield of the media wars meant nothing, but I did it anyway.  Fuck Gingrich’s divorces.  Fuck Lewinsky.  Fuck where Anthony Weiner found some happy online moments.  I’m not playing anymore.  I long ago ceased to even pretend to care.

The arguments about character?  That human sexuality isn’t the most compartmentalized element of our nature?  That if someone will lie about sex, they’ll lie about other things? Really?  No, sorry, fuck that tripe.  Character has become the self-righteous rallying cry of far greater hypocrisy than any cheating husband.  It’s the excuse that makes our prurient leer seem meaningful and reasoned.

Observe the process by which we remove some of the most essential American figures of the last century for having failed to corral their sexual organs in the marital bedroom:  Roosevelt, gone.  Eisenhower, gone.  Kennedy, gone.  Lyndon Johnson, gone.  Clinton, gone.  Martin Luther King, Jr., gone.  Edward Murrow, gone.   Follow the gamboling penis to an arid expanse of sociopolitical wasteland, where many of the greatest visionaries and actors can never tred, a desert in which only the Calvin Coolidges and Richard Nixons remain standing.   Anyone who looks at the history of mankind and argues that private sexual fidelity exists in direct proportion to political greatness or moral leadership is either a chump or a liar.

Read the rest.

Headline of the day: Hot times in Lake Woebegone

Where temperatures, like the children, are all above average.

From a Greg Mitchell post for The Nation:

My Son, Age 25, Has Never Been Around for a Cooler-Than-Average Month

And for some graphic proof of his assertion, here’s a NASA animation of global temperatures from 1880 through 2011, using 1950 as a baseline [more here]:

Mr. Fish: Paper Pulp Fiction

From his blog of disilluding diegesis, Clowncrack.


Headline of the day II: Call it class unconsciousness

From the Village Voice:

Mike Bloomberg And His 11 Homes Think New York Homeless Shelters Are Too Damn Nice. Homeless Disagree

Headline of the day: Barry’s friends in high places

From GlobalPost:

Global business executives love Barack Obama?

Yes, according to a survey by the Financial Times and The Economist that says Obama would be better for the global economy than Mitt Romney.

And a final wedding picture [we promise]

Daughter and mom embrace after the ceremony.

12 August 2012, Nikon D300, 40 mm, ISO 400, 1/60 sec, f8

Blast from the past: Groucho’s Fathers Day songs

On Dick Cavett’s talk show:

Headline of the day: Back to the drawing board?

From CNBC:

Hitchhiker writing ‘The Kindness of America’ memoir shot by motorist in Montana

Mr. Fish: The Un-Masquerade Party

From his happily hellacious blog, Clowncrack:


Quote of the day: The didn’t ‘Like’ it

Estonian journalist Priit Pullerits writing in Postimees via Presseurop. [Unlike the would-be mountaineers, most Estonian reject Facebook out of privacy concerns, he writes.]

Sometime ago, Alar Sikk, the Estonian mountaineer who rose to fame when he climbed Everest, was chatting with Estonian TV celebrity Vahur Kersna, about his expedition to Mount Kazbek [in Georgia]. Sikk remarked that many of the potential participants in the expedition gave up on the project when they learned that the journey would take nine days. For them, the idea of spending that much time away from Facebook was simply unbearable.

May Day 2012, in the spirit of a day for all of us

Mr. Fish: Room Service

From his deliriously delightful blog, Clowncrack.

A game of Monopoly: The digital book edition

Uncle Sam has finally taken notice that digital powerhouses are taking over the world of books.

The bottom line: Electronic publication is the wave of the future, and gatekeepers like Amazon and Apple have created a virtual monopoly, forcing bricks-and-mortar publishers to offer their authors’ wares at rock-bottom prices.

Not only do these policies impact the publishers, but they hit hardest at authors [esnl included], whose revenues from their works are based on a percentage of the sales prices charged by their publishers.

Amazon and Apple are the leading players in the digital book distribution, effectively forming a duopoly that aims to drive prices paid to publishers to rock bottom if they want their works distributed on the fastest-growing market for the [formerly] printed word.

Amazon has been a ferocious fighter in the drive to corporatize just about everything. Among other things, they tried unsuccessfully to claim ownership of “one click shopping.” Sometimes ally/sometimes ally Apple, in turn, has sued Amazon over their use of the term “app store.”

Now the fight over electronic publishing is headed to the courtroom.

From Brian Braiker of The Guardian:

The US government has accused Apple and five book publishers of colluding to fix the prices of ebooks.

A lawsuit filed in New York on Wednesday said Apple had conspired with publishers in response to Amazon’s success in selling ebooks for just under $10.

It said the alleged price-fixing came as Apple prepared to launched the iPad and was guaranteed a 30% commission on each ebook sold.

The publishers listed in the lawsuit include Hachette SA, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin and Simon & Schuster.

Hachette, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster settled their suits on Wednesday. Bloomberg News reported that Apple and Macmillan had refused to engage in settlement talks with the US department of justice, and will argue that pricing agreements between Apple and publishers improved competition in a field that had been hitherto dominated by Amazon.

Apple has not yet made a statement in reaction to the legal action.

Read the rest.

Macmillan wasn’t always Amazon’s BFF.

Apple Insider’s Stash Lane reported on an earlier battle two years ago:

Days after Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduced the iPad and implied e-book prices would go up, Amazon gave in to a standoff with book publisher Macmillan, raising prices to between $12.99 and $14.99.

This weekend, Amazon had temporarily ceased selling titles from Macmillan as a pricing dispute between the two companies found no resolution. But Sunday, Amazon conceded and posted an announcement on its Kindle Community forums.

Calling Macmillan one of the “big six” publishers, Amazon said the company “clearly communicated” that they want to charge between $12.99 and $14.99 for e-book versions of bestsellers and most hardcover releases. Though Amazon strongly disagrees with Macmillan’s stance, they raised the white flag.

“We want you to know that ultimately, however, we will have to capitulate and accept Macmillan’s terms because Macmillan has a monopoly over their own titles, and we will want to offer them to you even at prices we believe are needlessly high for e-books,” the announcement said. “Amazon customers will at that point decide for themselves whether they believe it’s reasonable to pay $14.99 for a bestselling e-book.

Read the rest.

Federal action puts Amazon in driver’s seat

Now that Apple and its publishing allies are headed to what promises to be a long and bloody legal battle, there’s already one clear winner: Amazon.

From David Streitfeld of the New York Times:

The government’s decision to pursue major publishers on antitrust charges has put the Internet retailer Amazon in a powerful position: the nation’s largest bookseller may now get to decide how much an e-book will cost, and the book world is quaking over the potential consequences.

As soon as the Department of Justice announced Wednesday that it was suing five major publishers and Apple on price-fixing charges, and simultaneously settling with three of them, Amazon announced plans to push down prices on e-books. The price of some major titles could fall to $9.99 or less from $14.99, saving voracious readers a bundle.

But publishers and booksellers argue that any victory for consumers will be short-lived, and that the ultimate effect of the antitrust suit will be to exchange a perceived monopoly for a real one. Amazon, already the dominant force in the industry, will hold all the cards.

“Amazon must be unbelievably happy today,” said Michael Norris, a book publishing analyst with Simba Information. “Had they been puppeteering this whole play, it could not have worked out better for them.”

Read the rest.

Publishers, writers hard hit by Amazon’s power play

While Amazon’s move saves readers a lot of money, it’s certain to cost publishers and writers dearly, since lower prices mean lower revenues for the publishers and reduced royalties for the folks who create the books.

Just how hard is Amazon hitting the publishing world?

Consider this from Amy Martinez of the Seattle Times:

The bad news came to McFarland & Co. in an email from The world’s largest Internet retailer wanted better wholesale terms for the small publisher’s books. Starting Jan. 1, 2012 — then only 19 days away — Amazon would buy the publisher’s books at 45 percent off the cover price, roughly double its current price break.

For McFarland, an independent publisher of scholarly books situated in the mountains of North Carolina, Amazon’s email presented a money-losing proposition.

“It was the apocalypse,” said Karl-Heinz Roseman, director of sales Continue reading