My three year old daughter and I play a lot of old games together. Her favorite is Donkey Kong. Two days ago, she asked me if she could play as the girl and save Mario. She's played as Princess Toadstool in Super Mario Bros. 2 and naturally just assumed she could do the same in Donkey Kong. I told her we couldn't in that particular Mario game, she seemed really bummed out by that. So what else am I supposed to do? Now I'm up at midnight hacking the ROM, replacing Mario with Pauline.
From Vice: (Photos are hilariously sad)
Dear Hollywood Wax Museum,
I recently visited your Los Angeles location and was exceptionally disappointed with what I saw.
Upon entering, I was greeted by your Tom Hanks in Castaway waxwork. It was not very good. Scary, even.
I have never seen Castaway, so there may actually be a scene in which Tom Hanks becomes blind in one eye, but I doubt that is the case.
But it wasn't just your Tom Hanks that was awful. It was all of your waxworks. They look like something from the nightmares of a person who has been blind since birth and has no real concept of what human beings look like.
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|So it was then and so it is now.|
|Our spiritual wilderness, cold and barren,|
|where sojourners still seek a hopeful star.|
|Our spiritual home where we,|
|as shepherds, stand guard,|
|as we unknowingly wait...|
|In so many forgotten corners of the world,|
|a small infant born in poverty,|
|without a home, without a place.|
|The still, faint hope for the future of the world.|
|Harshness carries in the air, the fields lie barren,|
|the trees themselves are bare|
|as they reach out toward a frozen sky.|
|But we have been given hope,|
|and the sure knowledge that the world will turn.|
|And we herald the spring.|
|How can we keep from telling the world,|
|Jesus is in our lives once more?|
|When even the rocks would cry out,|
|for all to hear, tidings of cheer.|
|Listen to what whispers in our hearts.|
|Listen to the suffering. Listen to the hope.|
|A single hope for a hopeless world.|
|A ray of light in the deepest dark.|
|A window to our inner soul.|
|An infant so small.|
|A promise so great.|
|Christ is born today.|
From KRON 4 - San Francisco, CA:
OAKLAND (KRON) — It’s a story we call, “People That Reunite With Former Friends Behave Nicely.”
While filming a segment for People Behaving Badly about illegal dumping in an Oakland neighborhood on Dec. 9, KRON 4′s Stanley Roberts spoke with a homeless man found rummaging for valuables.
The man, who identified himself as Marcus Malone, told Stanley that he was a landscaper and a music composer. He also revealed his connection to a Bay Area music legend and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Carlos Santana.
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Do you know which words entered the English language around the same time you entered the world? Use our OED birthday word generator to find out! We’ve scoured the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) to find words with a first known usage for each year from 1900 to 2004. Simply select the relevant decade and click on your birth year to discover a word which entered the English language that year.
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“Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men,” he says. Then he paraphrases Corinthians: “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”
- GQ, interviewing Phil Robertson; January, 2014 Issue
The language gets progressively course as the interview goes on.
The idea itself represents the sort of thing many of us hear in Fellowship Hall, occasionally from the pulpit, always on television and radio. We believe. They sin. We'll go to Heaven. They'll go to the everlasting torture of Hell.
The separation of us from them is a prime characteristic of a few, only a few, churches I attended in my own spiritual search over the decades. It was a perfect fortress, a complete system of faith based evidence, the original epistemic closure. We are in the House of God. Outside these walls are the enemy, of us and of God. Their eternal punishment is assured.
That blessed assurance, we were told, comes to us from God's Holy Word. Scripture, at least those parts of scripture that support prevailing prejudice, cannot be challenged, lest we find ourselves in allegiance with the enemy.
When the occasional television guest insists that one sin or another, often the single sin of homosexuality, will send someone outside the realm of God's love, it is often with the assurance that "I don't say it. God says it." Are we to accuse God of bigotry?
It is from that tradition that Phil Robertson explains that we do not condemn gay people and others outside the faith. It is God who judges the sinners who surround the walls of the church, threatening our own redemption with ideas and concepts that challenge God's word. And it is God alone who declares such people to be intrinsically worthless, beyond the boundaries of God's love. We speak to them, urging them to come in from the cold. We must not hear them or their ideas.
We never, ever judge someone on who’s going to heaven, hell. That’s the Almighty’s job. We just love ’em, give ’em the good news about Jesus — whether they’re homosexuals, drunks, terrorists. We let God sort ’em out later, you see what I’m saying?
- Phil Robertson, in GQ
"...homosexuals, drunks, terrorists."
That grouping had to have offended those gay people who paid attention. To me the insistence that God withdraws his love from gay people, that their intrinsic worth is not so intrinsic after all, that strikes me as a denial of all that is good and true about the faith I follow. It is such division that Jesus rebuked with varying degrees of anger as he confronted the literalists of those days.
Many, not all, conservatives defend the right of Phil Robertson to offer his opinions, however rancid they may seem to us. They view objections as a violation of Robertson's first amendment rights. Juan Williams, discussing the issue with fellow Fox News panelists, points out the hypocrisy. Mediaite provides the clip.
The right goes after Martin Bashir, they wanted Martin Bashir fired. Dixie Chicks! Remember Dixie Chicks, or Tim Robbins, or Bill Maher? All of that, the right says get them out of here. But, when people, then they want to cry foul when people are intolerant of them.
- Juan Williams, on Fox News Sunday, December 22, 2013
The first amendment does not ensure the right to one's own television program. It does ensure that opinions are not subject to government censorship.
Martin Bashir parted company with MSNBC when he suggested that someone might want to put waste materials in the mouth of Sarah Palin the next time she opens it. I don't know, off hand, of anyone who was not offended by that. I was.
I doubt that conservatives would less enraged if Martin Bashir had offered a Biblical explanation. Perhaps if he had quoted the Gospel according to Matthew, that it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles, but what comes out of the mouth. As Jesus puts it, "what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart..."
Perhaps we should agree that a biblical citation should not mitigate an attack on a group of people who are not hurting anyone.
We certainly should insist that government keep out of the business of policing offensive language. I defend your right to offend me.
How about we let media corporations sort out their contractual right to determine what degree of hate speech they will tolerate?
And let's accept some degree of personal responsibility. As decent human beings, we ought to be personally offended by bigotry.
Does an Increase in British Economy Prove Austerity Works? (8:50) - Click for Podcast
For Original Text
Why Does President Obama Refuse to Listen to Tom Price? (6:25) - Click for Podcast
For Original Text
Joe Scarborough and the Situation Room Photo Conspiracy (5:38) - Click for Podcast
For Original Text
Why do we have to do this, Sir? argues that the advent is less about waiting than about impatience, that John the Baptist had his anguished doubts, and that impatient, anguished doubt is accompanied by a mustard seed of humble birth.
Last Of The Millenniums notices arguments that the first amendment guarantees a position on your own reality show, and answers that highly selective cherry picking from scripture is no excuse for ignorance of what is in the rest of the Bible.
Mad Mike's America is not surprised by Duck remarks. Phil Robertson has not been shy in expressing opinions about gays for years.
The Moderate Voice quotes the great Ta-Nehisi Coates in reaction to Duck Dynasty views on happy, singing, black people who had no problem with Jim Crow in the good old pre-civil rights days.
Rumproast waits to applaud the budget play of Murray and Ryan until the second act, in which Paul Ryan announces he intends to shut down the government after all.
Jonathan Bernstein, writing for A Plain Blog about Politics, suggests that, as healthcare reform becomes a success, Obamacare will disappear from the national vocabulary. Conservatives will refer to it as something else.
Conservative James Wigderson has a straight forward report on an alderman who used his influence to sex offenders evicted in his district by threatening the landlord with investigations into code violations. The alderman is now investigated for abuse of office. James' own reaction, or lack of it, serves as a sort of Rohrshack test for the reader. Well done, James.
- Tim McGaha at Tim's Thoughtful Spot continues his week by week chronicle of 150 years ago, as a Union charge up a hill succeeds because it was so unexpected. It was unexpected because the charge was pretty much accidental.
The debate doesn't irritate me. It's the lack of debate about the deficit.
Republicans demand the nation's deficit be reduced immediately. Democrats respond with a boast. The national deficit has been slashed by half since President Obama took office. Republicans reply that the deficit had ballooned in the final months of the Bush administration to meet the Wall Street financial crisis, so cutting that temporary monstrosity in half means very little.
The working assumption that Democrats and Republicans share seems to be that deficit reduction is the top domestic priority and that it must be accomplished immediately.
Most economists, pretty much all mainstream economists who believe in testing theories against actual historical numbers, tell us that two simple lessons have been learned in the past 80 years.
Deficits are a good, very good, thing during hard economic times.
- Deficits are a bad, very bad, thing during prosperous times.
In 1932, Governor Franklin Roosevelt campaigned against deficit spending. But he also campaigned on a I'll-try-anything-once platform of dealing with the Great Depression. Try something. It it doesn't work, discard it and try something else.
It wasn't long after taking office that President Roosevelt began to run out of things to try. A new theory by economist Maynard Keynes held up well when tested with economic data. The government began to spend more than it took in. And people began finding jobs.
It was sort of toe-in-the-water at first. Deficit spending went against everything that seemed to make intuitive sense. Little by little, Democrats began increasing deficits. The economy began to heal.
In 1937, screams about the size of the deficit began to haunt. Roosevelt began to cut the deficit back. And the economy took a severe dip.
It wasn't until the Empire of Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and World War II began that deficits really exploded. A Nazi takeover of the country was more scary, even to Republicans, than deficits. Nobody wanted an AmeriKa spelled with a K.
The Greatest Generation won the war with an interesting side effect. By the time the fighting stopped and everyone came home, the Great Depression had disappeared. Deficit spending had worked.
Economists tell us that economies do return to normal eventually, even if government policies get it wrong. Deficit spending, if it's big enough, makes big recessions into smaller recessions, and ends them much more quickly.
History is filled with examples.
President Bill Clinton followed the mainstream model. By the time he left office, the deficit had turned into a surplus. Times went from bad to great. The deficit that had been generated during harder times was now being paid back. Pretty much every projection showed that the entire national debt could be paid back in our lifetime.
Deficits in hard times, pay it back in prosperous times. It worked.
President George W. Bush went way opposite. He increased the deficit right away, even though times were good. Instead of applying the surplus to paying back, he cut taxes - mostly for the wealthy.
In 2008, everything crashed. High deficits rescued the country from full scale depression. When President Obama took office, another set of deficit spending got the country started back toward recovery. The stimulus program was a lot less than it should have been, and it was scaled back more by timid Democrats and hostile Republicans.
In the meantime, Europe went into a policy of full blown austerity. Those in charge insisted that deficit cutting right now was the path to recovery. It was Roosevelt's 1937 lesson relearned. The longest, and deepest, recession since the Great Depression still continues in Europe. Only now is a tepid recovery just beginning, five years behind the United States.
The main person in charge of Britain's economy is George Osborne. His title is Chancellor of the Exchequer. He insists that the slight increase in Britain's economy after those years in the pit proves the policy of austerity was right all along.
Britain, the U.S. and others in the West do not have to accept defeat in the global race and resign ourselves to eroding living standards. The way to avoid this fate is to acknowledge two premises about the modern economy—and then take the necessary actions to surmount our nations' economic problems.
First, we are not going to get richer by borrowing more from others in the world just so that we can buy the things they make. We have to earn our own way in the world, by making our countries attractive to overseas investment, better educating our workforces, and providing a climate in which our businesses are able to produce goods and services of sufficient quality that the rest of the world wants to buy them.
Second, our governments have to live within their means, and not pile up deficits and debts that will burden future generations with the taxes to pay for them. We have to reduce entitlements and drive value for money through government, so we can focus public spending on areas likely to enhance our productivity.
- George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, in the Wall Street Journal, December 16, 2013
When you get around Mr. Osbourne's pejorative description of mainstream economics, "get richer by borrowing more from others in the world just so that we can buy the things they make", he makes two assumptions.
His first premise is that if more goods are produced in a country, the rest of the world will line up to buy. It's kind of like building a better mousetrap and having the world beat a path to your door. He puts it this way: "produce goods and services of sufficient quality that the rest of the world wants to buy them."
In fact, actual experience demonstrates the problem with this approach. When potential customers are struggling to survive, they tend not to buy extras. The current problem pretty much everywhere is lack of demand, not lack of production. If you can't sell what you are already producing, will tax incentives make you decide to invest and produce more?
His second assumption is that deficits must be slashed during a recession, including cutting benefits to those struggling to get by - what he calls "entitlements": "governments have to live within their means, and not pile up deficits and debts" and "We have to reduce entitlements."
In bad times, and in good times, there is a legitimate debate about the level we should tax the wealthy to help those struggling. How strong should we want the social safety net to be? My vote would be much stronger than it is, but there are arguments on the other side.
What is counter to decades of actual evidence is cutting deficits during hard times, what is commonly called austerity. In fact, austerity has so affected Britain's economy, that earlier this year it was announced that all the cost cutting, throwing the unemployed and vulnerable aside, had indeed affected the deficit. The deficit had gotten - are you ready? - bigger, not smaller. Austerity during hard times just makes hard times harder. It turns out to be no more than an attempt to starve the patient back to health.
It is worth examining a key word used by Mr. Osbourne in his piece for the Wall Street Journal. It is the word "premises" as in "acknowledge two premises about the modern economy—and then take the necessary actions to surmount our nations' economic problems."
A premise is an assumption made without examining actual evidence.
Those who insist on deficit reduction during hard times, cutting back on unemployment compensation, slashing food programs, cutting Social Security, attacking the well being of the most vulnerable, believe they will be helping the rest of us by boosting the economy.
They feel no need to look to actual history, actual evidence, what mainstream economists have learned by comparing policies to numbers.
Austerity, deficit reduction during hard times, is not a conclusion based on evidence.
It is a premise based on - well - nothing.
From the Dallas Morning News
WASHINGTON — Sen. Ted Cruz, elected 13 months ago by actual voters, said Thursday he’d prefer to see state legislators pick U.S. senators – as they were until a century ago, when the 17th Amendment came along.
Direct election of senators has eroded states’ rights, Cruz argued, speaking to a ballroom filled with conservative state lawmakers from around the country.
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From Canadian Broadcasting:
Industry Minister James Moore has apologized for saying it's not the federal government's role to ensure hungry children are fed.
"In response to a question from a reporter last week, I made an insensitive comment that I deeply regret. I apologize," Moore said in a statement on his website Monday, referring to his comment to a Vancouver radio reporter on Friday.
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From the Leicester Mercury:
More than 200 crime suspects are being urged to turn themselves in or face spending Christmas Day eating a microwave meal in a police cell.
Police began sending Christmas cards to the suspects in the past few days to warn them to contact their nearest police stations as soon as possible.
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Promo for documentary on Mitt Romney's Presidential campaign begins with the moment he discovered he was not going to win.
If you happen to have a billion dollars and you want to start a corporation, chances are you'll go to one specific place to incorporate. Many, many years ago, that used to be New Jersey. That was because New Jersey had very few regulations, very little in the way of corporate tax, and lawmakers who were quite willing to look the other way if the circumstances were right.
No more, though. In 1899, Delaware decided to out-New Jersey New Jersey with an even more friendly environment of tax benefits, almost no regulation, and corporate favoring liability laws. There are no limits on interest rates, which attracts credit card companies. Delaware even provides an office to advise corporations on how to best take advantage of Delaware laws. Who needs a lawyer when you have such an ally willing to provide free legal guidance?
So why this degree of governmental generosity? Ever hear of the car sales rep who insists that the dealer makes no money at all from each sale, but makes it up in volume?
Cutting income from each corporation that operates from Delaware means lots and lots of corporations will do business from Delaware. In fact, most companies on the two major stock exchanges are Delaware corporations. Not quite two thirds of all Fortune 500 companies are incorporated in Delaware. They really do make it up in volume.
Even if a company's stockholders are all from other states, even if all of the customers of a business are from other states, a corporation is governed by the laws of Delaware.
It's as if states are encouraged to participate in a race to the bottom, in terms of consumer protection or charging corporations a proportionate share of taxes. Delaware wins the race to the bottom.
Insurance providers are a different sort of company. They are regulated by the states in which they actually do business. One of the most feared offices in the insurance industry is that of the state insurance commissioner. The degree to which insurance commissioners actually protect consumers varies from state to state. Junk policies that charge for almost no real protection do proliferate in state markets.
But you stand a better chance of getting a fair deal with a state insurance commissioner than with most state corporate regulators. That's because insurance is regulated by the state the insured lives in, rather than where the corporation has a postal mailbox to serve as a home office. There is no incentive in insurance for states to race to the bottom.
I was thinking of the contrast between Delaware and insurance commissioners when I came upon a statement by an angry Republican member of Congress. President Obama has slammed Republicans for refusing to come up with ways to insure every American. He has expressed a willingness to listen to good ideas when they come from from Republicans.
Representative Tom Price (R-GA) says that simply has been untrue.
We've actually called him. We've contacted the White House repeatedly, and silence. It's crickets. The fact of the matter is they don't want to have to talk about the quality of health care, accessibility to health care, affordability of health care. What they want is the government to control health care.
- Representative Tom Price (R-GA), Fox & Friends, December 16, 2013
The plan offered by Representative Price begins with what he refers to as "buying across state lines."
We will go the Delaware route, ending the practice of regulating insurance by the state where the insured lives, replacing it with regulation only where the insurance company is located. I'm thinking of how well Delaware has protected consumers like you and me, when we have a dispute with a credit card company.
A race to the bottom is what most experts predict. The incentive of attracting huge insurance corporations to a friendly state host will overcome the incentive to protect consumers in some other state.
In addition to allowing insurance corporations to shake off state regulations by selling insurance without local state regulation, Representative Price proposes to offer a voucher system through tax deductions. The formula will tend to help the wealthy more than the middle class.
Finally, Tom Price calls for the end of lawsuits when doctors get negligent with the lives of patients. Representative Price calls this an end to costly defensive medicine.
Let's see what Representative Price suggests, in his own words:
Purchasing across state lines, making sure that you equalize the tax treatment for individuals so that folks have the same tax incentive to purchase health coverage as businesses.
You make it so that every single American has the financial feasibility to purchase coverage through deductions and credits and advancable credits and refundable advancable credits.
Then there are wonderful ways to save literally hundreds of billions of dollars in healthcare by ending the practice of defensive medicine.
- Representative Tom Price (R-GA), Fox & Friends, December 16, 2013
So Representative Price has a three point plan:
End what state protections exist for consumers by allowing only whatever regulation is provided by whatever state an insurance corporation selects for a home office.
purchasing across state lines
End what legal protections now exist in case of medical negligence.
ending the practice of defensive medicine
Provide a voucher plan through another tax deduction aimed at the very wealthy.
deductions and credits
and advancable credits
and refundable advancable credits
Surely, we can see why the Representative has become so irritated. The Obama administration has not seriously considered replacing the Affordable Care Act with a reduction in protection combined with substantial reductions in taxes for the wealthy.
How very odd.