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      I woke up last night feeling like I was suffocating, because in my dream I was. It began in a church, or an old university lecture hall. Antique. And everyone in attendance was being asked to say little prayers honoring Jesus. Everyone was reciting little prayers that are common among the devout. But when it was my turn, I stood and exclaimed: Jesus was a ph […]
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Sunday Evening Open Thread

News from a land down under:

THE bra market is expanding, literally. Up to 40 per cent of Australian women now buy bras with a cup size of DD or higher, new figures from lingerie suppliers show.

In the 1950s, the most common bra-cup size was a B – three sizes less than a DD.

Modern breasts are getting so large that some bra companies have introduced cup sizes as high as K, The Sunday Telegraph reports.

Up to 60% of Australian women can crush a Fosters beer can on their forehead.

What’s on your mind?

(just kidding about the beer can thingie)


The Age, by Robin Cowcher

illustration by Robin Cowcher

I learned to read before I went to school. Coming from a dysfunctional and chaotic upbringing, I found an escape valve in reading since I was able to transport myself from my surroundings and shut out the din taking place in another room. A book became not only an outlet but a friend, a comfort, a vehicle of survival. We “exchanged vows”, the book and I: a good story and a Constant Reader. Seldom have we let each other down.

I have participated in other Book Clubs over the years. The overall purpose was to review the book and discuss the intent of the author in bringing the book to life. It is a refreshing concept and allows for a measure of growth along with the unearthed gems of knowledge that may have been overlooked if not for others who gleaned something not quite appreciated by oneself. This learning experience is its own reward.

Our current Book Club was formed almost two years ago as a loose coalition of women who had worked together, albeit in different areas of the enterprise, whose primary interest was a shared love of reading. We knew each other mostly through casual byplays throughout a business day, just enough to say hello in most instances, but enough to agree to meet monthly to discuss an agreed upon “assignment”. Each month a book was proposed, a facilitator assigned, and a date set.

Most of our selections have been well received by the group as a whole. Some have been “bombs”. Still others have crept unexpectedly into our hearts and minds. I am thinking of the memoir we reviewed that was written by a former Peace Corp worker who had been sent to Africa twenty years ago and brought us the life of a woman who served as the village midwife in a primitive setting with few healthcare facilities. Or the story of two Afghan women, married off to the same insufferable man, set against the background of political upheaval, war, and the rise of the Taliban. Or the memoir of a celebrated columnist who wrote about her unorthodox upbringing by hippy parents whose lifestyle deprived their children of the rudimentary basics of life but instilled in them the need to succeed despite the odds. Or our most recent novel that drew the characters in base relief against the background of food preparation which came as a pleasant surprise in and of itself. The review brought emotion and empathy to the forefront as we delved deeper into the meaning of the text presented by a first time author. The enjoyment of those few hours spent together that evening reliving that book alone touched us in ways that we found difficult to express. We had actually coalesced into something beyond mere “book club members” but more so as an evolved group. As we slowly defined the book we were also offering intimate glimpses of ourselves. Astounding!

We all walk different paths in life. We all tend to view the world through different lenses. We come to our own conclusions based on life experiences and our opinions are more often than not shaped by our own limitations. Having the opportunity to discover more than just the surface meaning of a written piece through a Book Club discussion lifts the veil and allows us to tap into something within that is not often openly expressed. We identify, empathize, and unmask the perceptions we often have of one another by how we approach each another in life. We begin to build trust and appreciation and we are able to use the book as the “prop” in tapping that core reserve that is so much individually a part of us. As the author attempts to express their inner selves, opening his or herself up to the critical flow that the words invite, so do the members of the discussion who allow their humanity to be displayed in their efforts to understand. The evaluations are subjective, the inner core exposed. The end result is superb!

It is the written word that promises to heal the world and make a difference. Words do matter! They touch, heal, educate, respond, probe, signal, unite, take root, affirm. A book, a necklace of words strung together like the chords of a symphony, is a necessary part of my daily existence since I was old enough to hold it my own hands and turn the pages without assistance. I may have led a provincial life, unable to travel far beyond my own purview, but in my heart and imagination I have traveled all over the world! This could not have been possible without a book in my hand and the willingness to sign on for the ride.

I bless the authors who have developed my sense of self. The stories that shaped my opinions and entered my thoughts. That served as a form of therapy when certain times in my life demanded as much. And to the Book Club group who have made this section of the “walk” the pleasure that it is. My own words are much too inadequate to express. But I think you know.

Thanks to all who have made this journey with me.  Your essence dominates.

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Sunday: Ask not for whom the pitchfork comes.

PBO made this “you’re in a heap o’trouble” statement to his friends in the financial industry the other day:

The bankers struggled to make themselves clear to the president of the United States.

Arrayed around a long mahogany table in the White House state dining room last week, the CEOs of the most powerful financial institutions in the world offered several explanations for paying high salaries to their employees — and, by extension, to themselves.

“These are complicated companies,” one CEO said. Offered another: “We’re competing for talent on an international market.”

But President Barack Obama wasn’t in a mood to hear them out. He stopped the conversation and offered a blunt reminder of the public’s reaction to such explanations. “Be careful how you make those statements, gentlemen. The public isn’t buying that.”

“My administration,” the president added, “is the only thing between you and the pitchforks.”

Yeah?  Well, that’s the problem, Barry.  You are deflecting all the rage and ire onto the banker boys.  We’re comin’ to get’em and there’s nothing standing between us and the $1500 suits but you and Jon Favreau.

Not so fast.  The real target of my rage isn’t the banker who is by nature reckless, selfish and greedy.  Oh, no, not by a long shot.  My anger is directed at the people who were supposed to keep the beasts caged in the first place.  Sure, it would have been nice to let them play in a natural habitat setting where they could fell a few hapless antelope.  But someone should have been keeping an eye on the electric fence.  *THAT’S* who I am sharpening my tines for.  And that would include Barney Frank, Chris Dodd, all of the Republicans who have served in Congress, Executive or Judicial branch in the past 30 years and YOU.

The banker dudes paid you well for keeping the power off of the fence.  Like the true shmoozer you are, acquiring the office was as far as your plans went.  The real process of governing means you have to shoulder the responsibility and fulfill your constitutional oath to “promote the General Welfare.”   (I’ve given up on your intention to “protect the blessings of liberty”, considering how you cheated your way into the nomination with the caucuses, the RBC hearing and the help of the superdelegates you paid off with banker-buddy dollars) Willam Black, senior regulator of the S&L crisis, thinks that you and Geithner are afraid to tell the country just how bad the bankers have screwed things up.  Judging from the stunned expressions on my friends’ faces, who have stashed away all of their money in 401K’s and other investments as they were instructed, you have a very limited amount of time before they snap out of their state of shock and come a-lookin’ for you.  Your reticence to rein the bankers in may have created the biggest surge in liberalism the country has seen since 1930.

We’ve got about 18 months to take over Congress.  It can be done, Barry.  People are really angry and there are a lot of motivated and intelligent PUMA-esque people out there who may be unemployed and find a Congressional salary very much to their liking.  Wouldn’t that frost Pelosi’s and Reid’s crockies?  We can be very demanding.

Here’s some of my demands:

  • Bonuses should be limited to 15% of total compensation.  That’s right, bankers should be forced to live on s straight salary and bonuses given for good customer service.  Those customers are US.  You want to talk merit pay?  Ok, we institute merit pay for bankers.  Restore our confidence and you will get paid a nice salary.  F^&* us over, you get nothing.
  • Cancel the debts on the credit default swaps.  As far as I know, they weren’t insured by the FDIC.  Gambling is Ok as long as you do it with your own money.  If we the taxpayers didn’t agree to insure them before they created the “instrument”, there is no reason why we should agree to bail them out now.  We shouldn’t have to honor a gambling debt.
  • Take Citigroup, Bank of America and the other two almost insolvent banks into receivership.  Quit conflating it with nationalization.  Just get it done already.
  • Get rid of Geithner, Summers and the rest of the Goldman Sachs operation they rode in on.
  • Leave the autoworkers alone and fire the pension fund managers who played with our retirements.  Recapitalize the pensions and leave the fricking bankers to fend for themselves.
  • Address the mortgage principle problem for those of us with house values that are now underwater.  Failure to do so will result in many homeowners walking away from their obligations and make the financial crisis worse.  We know Hillary would have been on top of this problem by now.  Too bad for us, we got stuck with you.  If you don’t have time to do it right, you won’t have time to do it over, so, get on it now.

I’m also getting really tired of the finance industry wailing that the full faith and credit of the US is on the line if we don’t pay off the people who bet over and over again using CDS’s.  We guarantee bank deposits of up to $250,000.  We have (had) rules in place for pension funds.  We had regulations on the insurance industry.  If the banking and insurance industry found ways around what regulation was left to fritter away money and didn’t take advantage of the insurance we the taxpayers provided, tough.  We are not responsible for protecting the lifestyles of the rich and shameless while the auto assembly line guy watches the only job he’s ever had get terminated because some rich asshole in the CEO’s office couldn’t think beyond the next quarter’s earnings. We know that it’s going to be painful to get out of this mess but for gawd’s sakes, don’t prolong it.  Every month, 600K+ people are losing their jobs, including lots of people we know.  Our patience is wearing thin.

Take this seriously, Barry, Barney and Chris and all you faithless superdelegates.  The deflection to the banking boys will only last a short time.  Destitution has a wonderful way of concentrating the mind.  It won’t be long before the public finds out that the people who are standing in the way are the ones who need the sharp poke in the ass.

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Let them eat cake


From The Guardian:

Bankers rage at G20 “witch hunt”

Bankers and hedge fund managers were furious yesterday at attempts by the G20 to cap their pay and regulate them for the first time, calling it a “witch hunt” by world leaders.

“Regulation is generally bad. You should let the market decide what the people will get paid,” said Matthew Prest, managing director at Close Brothers investment bank. “Sometimes regulation has the opposite effect of what you want and I think bankers’ salaries regulation would fall under that category. I don’t hear anybody calling for Hollywood star salary caps. This is a trendy, fashionable thing to do, it will have bad consequences.”

The m****r-f*****g bastards are upset??? Why don’t they just say “Let them eat cake” and get it over with?

These f**ksticks are obviously so far removed from the rest of us that they have no clue how enraged we are.  People aren’t peeved or miffed, they are apoplectic with fury.  Normally law-abiding citizens are seriously talking about violence – and others just nod their heads in agreement.  The last time people were this pissed off we invaded a couple countries.

Serenity now!  Serenity now!

Serenity now! Serenity now!

Compare and contrast:

Teddy Roosevelt:

Too much cannot be said against the men of wealth who sacrifice everything to getting wealth. There is not in the world a more ignoble character than the mere money-getting American, insensible to every duty, regardless of every principle, bent only on amassing a fortune, and putting his fortune only to the basest uses —whether these uses be to speculate in stocks and wreck railroads himself, or to allow his son to lead a life of foolish and expensive idleness and gross debauchery, or to purchase some scoundrel of high social position, foreign or native, for his daughter. Such a man is only the more dangerous if he occasionally does some deed like founding a college or endowing a church, which makes those good people who are also foolish forget his real iniquity. These men are equally careless of the working men, whom they oppress, and of the State, whose existence they imperil. There are not very many of them, but there is a very great number of men who approach more or less closely to the type, and, just in so far as they do so approach, they are curses to the country.

Franklin D. Roosevelt:

Finally, in our progress toward a resumption of work we require two safeguards against a return of the evils of the old order; there must be a strict supervision of all banking and credits and investments; there must be an end to speculation with other people’s money, and there must be provision for an adequate but sound currency.

Barack Obama:

I, I, would say that, er … if you look at … the, the sources of this crisis … the United States certainly has some accounting to do with respect to . . . a regulatory system that was inadequate to the massive changes that have taken place in the global financial system … I think what is also true is that … here in Great Britain … … here in continental Europe … around the world. We were seeing the same mismatch between the regulatory regimes that were in place and er … the highly integrated, er, global capital markets that have emerged … . So at this point, I’m less interested in … identifying blame than fixing the problem. I think we’ve taken some very aggressive steps in the United States to do so, not just responding to the immediate crisis, ensuring banks are adequately capitalized, er, dealing with the enormous, er … drop-off in demand and contraction that has taken place. More importantly, for the long term, making sure that we’ve got a set of, er, er, regulations that are up to the task, er, and that includes, er, a number that will be discussed at this summit. I think there’s a lot of convergence between all the parties involved about the need, for example, to focus not on the legal form that a particular financial product takes or the institution it emerges from, but rather what’s the risk involved, what’s the function of this product and how do we regulate that adequately, much more effective coordination, er, between countries so we can, er, anticipate the risks that are involved there. Dealing with the, er, problem of derivatives markets, making sure we have set up systems, er, that can reduce some of the risks there. So, I actually think … there’s enormous consensus that has emerged in terms of what we need to do now and, er … I’m a great believer in looking forwards than looking backwards.

From the Washington Post:

The Obama administration is engineering its new bailout initiatives in a way that it believes will allow firms benefiting from the programs to avoid restrictions imposed by Congress, including limits on lavish executive pay, according to government officials.

We needed a hero.  We got a ZERO.


That’ll Learn ‘Em!


Following is the text of President Obama’s statement Sunday on North Korea’s rocket launching, as released by the White House:

North Korea’s development and proliferation of ballistic missile technology pose a threat to the northeast Asian region and to international peace and security. The launch today of a Taepo-dong 2 missile was a clear violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1718, which expressly prohibits North Korea from conducting ballistic missile-related activities of any kind. With this provocative act, North Korea has ignored its international obligations, rejected unequivocal calls for restraint, and further isolated itself from the community of nations.

We will immediately consult with our allies in the region, including Japan and the Republic of Korea, and members of the U.N. Security Council to bring this matter before the Council. I urge North Korea to abide fully by the resolutions of the U.N. Security Council and to refrain from further provocative actions.

Preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery is a high priority for my administration. The United States is fully committed to maintaining security and stability in northeast Asia and we will continue working for the verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula through the Six-Party Talks. The Six-Party Talks provide the forum for achieving denuclearization, reducing tensions, and for resolving other issues of concern between North Korea, its four neighbors, and the United States. North Korea has a pathway to acceptance in the international community, but it will not find that acceptance unless it abandons its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and abides by its international obligations and commitments. (emphasis added)

IOW – Other than this “sternly worded” statement we ain’t gonna do diddley-squat.  That statement sure isn’t gonna scare anyone.  But I guess there’s not much we could do to a petty dictator whose power is based on a cult of personality anyway.

No, not Obama, this guy:

Kim Jong il

Kim Jong il

Saturday Late Night Open Thread

“When I see a painting like this I get emotionally erect”