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Friday Photo, number whatever

This is beautiful beyond words. Admire it, or also get extra points if you know what it is.

Answer here. There’s also a video, which I can’t stop re-running. (Give it some time. It seems that nothing is happening for quite a while.)

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This would be funny if . . .

If it didn’t cost an arm and a leg, especially since I only have one leg left, financially speaking.

Remember when GM needed to be bailed out to the tune of $17,000,000,000? For that, they had to make some sort of statement of progress by about now. So, being law-abiding citizens, they’re doing it.

Not too surprisingly, the progress has been retrograde. Now they and Chrysler want $30,000,000,000 more. And GM is talking about laying off another 47,000 people globally. Forget the human beings involved for a moment, and think about how much the unemployment benefits are going to cost in the US alone. Add that on top of the $30,000,000,000.

Now comes the funny part. Today’s headline: GM market capitalization drops below $1 billion.

You could own the company for less than $1 billion.

But we’re probably going to fork over more than $47,000,000,000 because it’s against our religion to buy the company for $1 billion. Or something like that.

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The right left

Shorter Glenn Greenwald: quixote has been right all along. And also especially this

Not only that, but I and many others were right when it would have done some good.

If I do say so myself.

Bah. And humbug.

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Scorecard 2

This is bad.

The other stuff so far has been not good, like lollygagging around with a half-strength half-witted stimulus bill. Some of it has been very not good, like dumping poor women overboard to save a few hundredths of one percentage point on that stupid bill.

But this is of “Now is the time for your tears” caliber. Via Greenwald:

Today the Obama administration was required to file with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals its position in this case — i.e., whether it would continue the Bush administration’s abusive reliance on the “state secrets” privilege to prevent courts from ruling on such matters, or whether they would adhere to Obama’s previous claims about his beliefs on “state secrets” by withdrawing that position and allowing these victims their day in court. …

[Judge speaking with Dept. of Justice lawyer:]

“Is there anything material that has happened” that might have caused the Justice Department to shift its views, asked Judge Mary M. Schroeder, an appointee of President Jimmy Carter, coyly referring to the recent election.

“No, your honor,” Mr. Letter replied.

“The change in administration has no bearing?” she asked.

“No, your honor,” he said once more. The position he was taking in court on behalf of the government had been “thoroughly vetted with the appropriate officials within the new administration,” and “these are the authorized positions,” he said.

“Thoroughly vetted with the appropriate officials within the new administration”: that’s about as explicit as it gets. …[T]his was an active and conscious decision on the part of the Obama DOJ to embrace one of the most extreme abuses of the Bush presidency. …

It isn’t merely that the Obama DOJ is invoking the privilege for this particular case, which contains allegations of torture that are as brutal and severe as any. That’s bad enough. But worse is that they’re invoking the most abusive parts of the Bush theory: namely, that the privilege can be used to block the adjudication of entire cases (rather than, say, justify the concealment of specific classified documents or other pieces of evidence), and, worse still, can be used to prevent judicial scrutiny even when the alleged government conduct is blatantly illegal and, as here, a war crime of the greatest seriousness.

They’re embracing a theory that literally places government officials beyond the rule of law.

They’re embracing a theory that literally places government officials beyond the rule of law.

They’re embracing a theory that literally places government officials beyond the rule of law.

They’re embracing a theory that literally places government officials beyond the rule of law.

The first scorecard was posted Dec. 8, 2008, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

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Geoengineering: a cure worse than the disease

The global warming news is grim. Just two recent headlines: Acid oceans need urgent action and Irreversible climate change due to carbon dioxide emissions. If you follow anybody’s writing on the topic (e.g. mine 2005 and 2007) you know all too much about the grimness. But where we make our mistake, you and me, is assuming that once the slower people finally recognize the facts, they’ll want to stop poisoning the planet.

Ha.

Now that they’re finally noticing that we’re headed to a hot place in a handbasket, they have a better answer. Geoengineering! We’re so good at controlling planetary processes, the best thing to do is mess with them!

Here, just for kicks, are some of the bright ideas, ranging in light level from black hole to guttering-candle-in-the-darkness. (To be fair to some of the scientists involved, they’re perfectly aware that the best of these are stopgaps, not solutions.) Read more »

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Bill Gates: Better Without Windows

You know what’s scary? I’m starting to like Bill Gates. Like everyone else, he seems to be doing a lot better since he shed Microsoft.

First there was this. I didn’t even know the man had a sense of humor, let alone a good one. Suddenly, I was half as annoyed at Windows as I usually am. Illogical, but there it is.

And now, via Slashdot, there’s this:

Bill Gates Unleashes Swarm of Mosquitoes

“Microsoft founder turned philanthropist Bill Gates released a glass full of mosquitoes at an elite Technology, Entertainment, Design Conference to make a point about the deadly sting of malaria. “Malaria is spread by mosquitoes,” Gates said while opening a jar on stage at a gathering known to attract technology kings, politicians, and Hollywood stars. “I brought some. Here I’ll let them roam around. There is no reason only poor people should be infected.”

I’m that close to becoming a fan.

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Losing Friends

I’m feeling melancholy. Maybe it’s a belated fit of New Year’s Eve Auld Lang Syne. (A procrastinator can’t be expected to have fits on time.) Whatever it is, I’m missing some of the late great voices in blogspace.

  • Salam Pax (You have to change your browser prefs to a white background to see the writing….) Update: after crossposting at Shakesville, a commenter there pointed out that Salam is now here! Hurrah! He’s back!
  • Riverbend
  • Clay Pot
  • Homeless Girl (which used to be http://being-homeless.livejournal.com/ but even the archive is gone.)
  • The Religious Policeman (Actually, I sort of know where this one is. He went off to write a book, but he hasn’t come back.)

They’ve fallen silent, one by one. Good friends, people who cared enough to tell the truth and let us see some of their world. People who are kind, funny, brilliant. People I love.

Where are they now?

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