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Open Thread's blog

Daily Show Open Thread: "2 Girls 1 GOP"

Jon Stewart's crew covers the Michael Steele scandal over the RNC's spending of donor money at a bondage and lesbian sex club in order to recruit Young Republicans with all of the tact and humor that you would expect from their cutting edge and hard hitting news style:


The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c
2 Girls 1 GOP
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Health Care Reform

This is an Open Thread.

Saturday Morning Open Thread: Random Shots Edition

Okay, by the numbers:

  1. rats fed water sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup developed more belly fat and had an increased level of circulating triglycerides
  2. does 'dark flow' suggest that hundreds of galaxy clusters are being tugged on by the gravity of matter outside the known universe?
  3. Newsweek's Jesse Ellison is not a boy
  4. meet Werner J.A. Dahm, the Air Force’s chief scientist
  5. more doctors are giving up private practices, but it has more to do with steadier income to alleviate crushing medical school debt and nothing to do with the new HCR
  6. the Obama healthcare package attacks wealth disparity, committing itself to an assault on "what historians have called the "age of Reagan."

And with those bits of headline gleaned from Google News, have a great day.

This is an Open Thread.

Wednesday Afternoon Open Thread: "Yes, we can" Redux, The Ugly American Edition

"Yes, we can"...? Hell, yes we did. Now we just need to keep the momentum going. (H/T Moby of DelphiForums.)

On a different note, more and more people are beginning to speak out about -- and point out -- Republican hypocrisy. This isn't the type of leadership we need from any party in America, much less a theoretically important national party in a two-party(-ish) system. An excellent and well-documented smack down of Republican hypocrisy, hysteria, fear-mongering and incitement was posted by Russell King on the TPM Cafe. Read it, and spread it around. For a two party system to work, and for the nation to recover from the mess of the previous 12 or so years of Congressional incompetence, the b.s. has to stop. (Hat-tip to MeMeMeMeMe of DailyKos.)

If ever there was increasing evidence of the wrongness of these insane levels of hyperbole, incitement and hysterical fear-mongering, the recent death threats against the CHILDREN of a member of Congress and the SABOTAGE of propane tanks at a Congressman's home should be more than ample.

Those acting out with threats and acts of violence are the ultimate hypocrites -- they have become domestic terrorists and traitors, all while professing their love of God and country, and the constant agitation and incitement by Republican members of Congress, lobbyists, think-tanks and GOP punditry is only making it worse.

These aren't "patriotic" citizens; these aren't moral, ethical or responsible adults. No, these are the Ugly Americans, and they are doing their best to destroy this nation. They are the darkness that comes when the light of reason is extinguished. They are the cancer that infects the body politic, and they must be confronted in their virulence before the heart and soul of the nation succumb to their ignorance and hatred.

This is an Open Thread.

Tuesday Lunchtime Open Thread: Fractured Regulations, BP Edition

Via Google news, from the New York Times:

BP, Others Push Against Federal Regulation of Fracturing
New York Times - Mike Soraghan

BP America Inc. and two other oil and gas companies are lobbying for the new Senate climate and energy bill to recommend against federal regulation of hydraulic fracturing.

In case you're wondering, hydraulic fracturing isn't good for the environment.

This is an Open Thread.

Saturday Morning Open Thread: Everybody does it, Lehman Brothers Edition

The financial industry meltdown, and the need for reform as well as improved oversight & regulation, was laid out in even more stark contrast as the investigation in the collapse of Lehman Brothers brought more information to light with regard to their short-term lending practices.

From The New York Times, in an article by Michael J. de la Merced:

Now government regulators have what some lawyers call a road map for further inquiry into former Lehman executives like Richard S. Fuld Jr. and the auditing firm Ernst & Young.

Whether the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission will actually pursue their own legal actions is unclear. But legal experts said on Friday that the examiner, Anton R. Valukas, had provided plenty of material for civil regulatory action at the least with his findings of “materially misleading” accounting and “actionable balance sheet manipulation.”

The article goes on to describe an accounting practice referred to as Repo 105 that "helped the investment bank mask the true depths of its financial woes."

Repo? Shades of "Repo Man" re-cut with "Wall Street" with Tracey Walters & Emilio Estevez working for Michael Douglas in some weird Twilight-Zone like section of suburbia...and perhaps incorporating some elements from the new "Repo Men" movie starring Jude Law and Forest Whitaker. But these types of Repo Men -- the folks utilizing the Repo 105 tactic in order to create a façade of financial stability -- actually exist in the real world, and actually engaged in a practice that played a crucial role in masking the meltdown of a major financial institution.

From a WSJ article by Susanne Craig and Mike Spector (subscription req'd, but this bit is the intro):

Six weeks before it went bankrupt, Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. was effectively out of securities that could be used as collateral to back the short-term loans it needed to survive. The bank's subsequent scramble to stay alive exposed the murky but crucial role that short-term lending, done in a corner of Wall Street known as the repo market, plays in the financial world.

If the repo market keeps getting associated with shady practices like this, it's gonna give the entire industry a bad name.

So, it's Saturday -- what's going on in your little corner of the market? This is an Open Thread.

Recommended TED - The LXD: In the Internet age, dance evolves ...

Originally posted 2010-03-06 01:08:17 -0500. Bumped & promoted. -- GH

Some of the astonishing ways that people channel the creative spirit through their bodies, brought to you by TED.

The LXD (the Legion of Extraordinary Dancers) electrify the TED2010 stage with an emerging global street-dance culture, revved up by the Internet. In a preview of Jon Chu’s upcoming Web series, this astonishing troupe show off their superpowers.


Saturday Morning Open Thread: Taxing Patience, IRS Edition

Tax-time is fast approaching, so expect to see a lot more humor circulating the internet along these lines:

At the end of the tax year, the IRS office sent an inspector to audit the books of a local hospital. While the IRS agent was checking the books he turned to the CFO of the hospital and said, "I notice you buy a lot of bandages. What do you do with the end of the roll when there's too little left to be of any use?"

"Good question," noted the CFO. "We save them up and send them back to the bandage company and every now and then they send us a free box of bandages."

"Oh," replied the auditor, somewhat disappointed that his unusual question had a practical answer. But on he went, in his obnoxious way.

"What about all these plaster purchases? What do you do with what's left over after setting a cast on a patient?"

"Ah, yes," replied the CFO, realizing that the inspector was trying to trap him with an unanswerable question. "We save it and send it back to the manufacturer, and every now and then they send us a free package of plaster."

"I see," replied the auditor, thinking hard about how he could fluster the know-it-all CFO.

"Well," he went on, "What do you do with all the leftover foreskins from the circumcisions you perform?"

"Here, too, we do not waste," answered the CFO. "What we do is save all the little foreskins and send them to the IRS Office, and about once a year they send us a complete dick."

Hat-tip lizart8 of DelphiForums.

I've seen a fair share of IRS-related horror stories, but I've also had the opportunity to work at the IRS, to work with and get to know people who worked at the IRS and who worked with people on taxes, and to work with people at the IRS who work with tax payers who have problems with relation to their returns (late / delinquent / missing returns, etc.), and what I've noted overall is that -- for the most part, in my direct experience, the people at the IRS aren't out to screw the average American taxpayer and will work to help ensure that the average taxpayer with their tax-related issues and responsibilities.

So, enjoy the jokes -- there are some definite dicks running about at the IRS and in nearly every business, government or otherwise -- but don't forget that it's humor. There are many, many hard-working individuals at all levels of the IRS who, like you, are also taxpayers and who take pride in their work. They strive to provide excellent customer service, and often have real reason to be proud in the often thankless tasks they perform. Give 'em a break.

And now, below the fold, please share any stories of success or strife that you may have stumbled across through the years.

This is an Open Thread.

For more information: www.irs.gov

Friday Evening Open Thread: Ocean-Going Iceberg, Global Circulation Edition

Hat-tip roxy, for a comment in the previous open thread.

A glacial collision in Antarctica may impact ocean currents, and could also result in the reduction of the overall amount of oxygen in the sea. Via MSNBC:

SINGAPORE - An iceberg the size of Luxembourg has broken off from a glacier in Antarctica after being rammed by another giant iceberg, scientists said Friday, in an event that could affect ocean circulation patterns.

The 965-square-mile iceberg broke off earlier this month from the Mertz Glacier's 100-mile floating tongue of ice that sticks out into the Southern Ocean.

The collision has since halved the size of the tongue that drains ice from the vast East Antarctic ice sheet.


The two icebergs are now drifting together about 60 to 90 miles off Antarctica following the collision on Feb. 12 or Feb. 13, said Australian Antarctic Division glaciologist Neal Young.


Experts said with part of the glacier gone, the area could fill with sea ice, which would disrupt the ability for the dense and cold water to sink. This sinking water is what spills into ocean basins and feeds the global ocean currents with oxygen.


As there are only a few areas in the world where this occurs, a slowing of the process would mean less oxygen supplied into the deep currents that feed the oceans.


"There may be regions of the world's oceans that lose oxygen, and then of course most of the life there will die," said Mario Hoppema, chemical oceanographer at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Germany.

Major bummer, folks.

Thoughts on this and anything else are welcome in comments; this is an Open Thread.

Friday Morning Open Thread: Life On Mars, NASA Goals & Priorities Edition

NASA needs a goal, a destination and objective upon which to focus, else it is going nowhere. That's effectively what US Sentators told the space agency on Wednesday. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden disagreed.

...Bolden said after the hearing that critics were confusing the lack of a specific destination or timetable with the lack of a goal.

NASA has a goal, a big one, Bolden said. It's going to Mars. But Bolden added that getting astronauts to Mars is more than a decade away and NASA needs to upgrade its technology or else it never will get there.

"We want to go to Mars," Bolden said. "We can't get there right now because we don't have the technology to do it."

That is why he said the new NASA plan invests in developing in-orbit fuel depots, inflatable spaceship parts, new types of propulsion and other technology.

Bolden would not even guess when NASA would try to send astronauts to Mars, but said the technology NASA is studying could cut the trip to the Red Planet from three months to a matter of days if it works.

"We're oh-so-close, but we've got to invest in that technology," Bolden testified.

Bolden is correct; the amount of technological, economic and industrial growth that resulted from our push to the Moon resulted in many of the marvelous advances in science that have revolutionized many areas in the public and private sectors.

Another goal -- one that has been "out there" for a while and constantly revived -- is the desire to bring back samples of Martian life for study on Earth:

"At this particular time, I can't provide a date certain for the first human mission to Mars," Bolden told the Senate's science and space subcommittee. However, Bolden recently told the Houston Chronicle's editorial board it was his "personal vision" to put NASA on a path toward a human Mars landing sometime in the 2030s.

That's the kind of talk that could energize further robotic exploration of Mars, including two-way trips. "Non-human sample return would feed very directly into the technology for human exploration," Conley told me.

If Bolden's vision holds true, a lot of questions will have to be answered in the next 20 years. Conley said one biggie is how safe astronauts would be on the Red Planet. A report from the National Research Council, titled "Safe on Mars," outlined a whole list of potential nasties ranging from alien microbes to toxic hexavalent chromium. Some of those risks can be assessed only by up-close analysis of Martian samples, Conley said.

Of course, bringing back samples of extra-terrestrial life has its own inherent risks, as speculated in science fiction fare such The Andromeda Strain, Alien and -- perhaps most appropriate of the three -- Species. From the article cited above by Alan Boyles on MSNBC,

When fresh Martian material is brought back - either by astronauts or by special-delivery robots - it'll have to be contained much more tightly than the Apollo moonwalkers were 40 years ago. The way Rummel sees it, our planet was lucky that the moon was most sincerely dead. "If there had been anything alive on the moon at that time, it would be alive here now," he said. (On the flip side, we may have left something alive on the moon.)

NASA's plans call for Martian samples to be handled as if they were top-priority biohazards, in a containment facility equivalent to a Biosafety Level 4 lab.

Ideally, such a lab would also have the contact numbers for Michael Madsen and Sigourney Weaver.

This is an Open Thread.

Thursday Morning Open Thread: World Wide Web, Google Privacy Case Edition

A recent ruling in an Italian court has posed an interesting question regarding the responsibility and accountability of internet content providers in the global worldwide marketplace. From CNET:

Will an Italian court's decision to convict three Google executives of invasion of privacy have widespread effects on the Internet beyond Italian borders?

Google certainly thinks so, but it could take a significant change in thinking around the globe to prove Italy is not an outlier. Three Google executives, including head lawyer David Drummond and Chief Privacy Counsel Peter Fleischer, were convicted of invasion of privacy Wednesday by a court in Milan because a video of students taunting an autistic boy was uploaded to Google Video in 2006. George Reyes, who was chief financial officer but left the company in 2008, was also convicted.

The judge ruled that Google had a duty to make sure the video didn't violate Italian privacy laws before it was displayed on Google Video, and since Italian law allows individual employees of a company to be held liable for the actions of their corporations, the individual executives were subject to trial. The obvious implication of the decision is that Google employees are now personally liable for all the content hosted on its site in Italy, forcing the company to either ban user-generated content from its sites or carefully review each submission.

Since the Milan decision could impact "the policy of the U.S government to support Internet freedom around the world," the ongoing developments around this case should prove to be quite interesting.

What's your take -- how do you see the Internet, and where do you stand on how the policies and practices of other nations should impact the availability and access to information? How does this impact the concept of net neutrality here at home, and what other implications do you foresee?

Add your thoughts in the comments; let's see where this takes us. And remember: This is an Open Thread.

Wednesday Morning Open Thread: Boehner v. Boehner, Rachel Maddow Edition

Rachel Maddow points out the stark reality: the GOP has no plan beyond saying "No" to health reform, and this is perfectly encapsulated simply by comparing the hypocritical criticisms of John Boehner -- first the plan was too long, now the outline for the healthcare plan is too short. If ever any person clearly earned the title of "Goldilocks" on the Hill, our man with the elephantine orange perpetual tint John Boehner is that person.


Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Reality laps satire yet again.

This is an Open Thread.

Hat-tip to LordRag of DelphiForums for the catch.

Sunday Early Open Thread: 'Growing Pains' Andrew Koenig Missing, Zap2It Edition

Andrew KoenigCelebrity Andrew Koenig has been missing for a week. He was last seen on 2/14, and missed a flight in Vancouver on 2/16.

From a blog post by by radio host Jesse Thorn,

If you've seen Andrew since February 14th, contact Detective Raymond Payette of the Vancouver PD at 604-717-2534.

The information for this article was based directly upon the Daily Dish Rag entry on Zap2It.com cited at the top of the page; the accompanying image is also from the same article on Zap2It.com. Hat-tip to Lordrag of DelphiForums for the heads-up.

Whenever a person "goes missing" -- whether a celebrity or not, adult or child -- it's important to keep family, friends and loved ones in mind. Please pass the information around, particularly if you know anyone located in Vancouver or if you are located there yourself.

Thank you.

This is an Open Thread.

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