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I have lettuce!

And radishes!

And Deer!

IMG_1968

Funny, I don’t remember planting any Deer.

My cousin gave me a moonflower.  Going to put it in the flower bed right outside the back door once I get rid of the gigantic hosta and the poison ivy.  Why, yes, I DO have an itchy rash on my wrists and ankles.  Why do you ask?

PLUS!

Hillary Clinton just verified her Twitter account.  Here’s what her account profile looks like:

Screen Shot 2013-06-10 at 1.00.48 PM

That doesn’t look like a presidential candidate’s profile.  That looks like someone who wants to express an opinion or two.

Excellent.

You can follow her debut at #tweetsfromhillary.

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Saturday: Banging

The siding guys arrived a little before 9am.  They’re banging on the house right now.  The walls are vibrating.  The side of the house that needs to be replaced is right outside Brooke’s bedroom so I warned her there would be some noise.  But teenagers are like chrysallises.  She’s sleeping right through it and will probably emerge at the crack of noon to go foraging.

In the meantime, I’m emptying my instapaper queue again this morning.  Let’s see, what do we have here:

1.) I LOVE apartmenttherapy.  If you’ve never visited the site you really need to.  Apartmenttherapy is inspiration for decorators on a budget, a place to check out new gadgets, a resource for greener living and growing kids, and kitchen/cooking site.  They also appear to have a social conscience.  I’ve seen more than one post hinting at sympathies to the Occupy movement.  Here’s another.  An apartmenttherapy editor, Sara Gillingham-Ryan, who lives close to Zuccotti park documents the kitchen and food of Occupy Wall Street.  Her piece reaffirms my own impression of Zuccotti during the fall.  It was a vibrant, welcoming place that attracted visitors off the street to come in, find community and talk about what was going on.  Therefore, it was radical, dangerous and had to end.  But don’t worry, Spring is Coming.

2.) I hear they have snow in Davos this year.  If you have the time and money, you might want to check out the “luxury” igloo hotel at Davos.  The concept is interesting.  I just don’t think I would refer to temperatures lower than 68° F as a luxury.  Your mileage may vary.  I think that Occupy has a remote outpost at Davos as well and that Jeff Jarvis was going to go visit.  Check his twitter stream to see if he made it.

3.) Or not.  Twitter just announced that it would abide by the laws in countries where there are proscriptions on certain kinds of twitters.  You mean the effective kind?  Just askin’.  Which is what Jeff Jarvis is getting at in his tweet this morning on Twitter’s announcement:

@jeffjarvisJeff Jarvis
My problem w/#Twitter’s new national capability is that it is a slippery slope of censorship. We need to know its principles.

It’s all part of a pattern.  SOPA, PIPA, Twitter.  Someone has it in for the internet and wants to stomp it dead, dead, dead.  Oh sure, it wouldn’t go away.  But it would devolve into a place where companies sell you stuff on every corner of every page.  You could use it as a reference tool, maybe.  Or as a media consumption device.  Sort of like a giant TV with a zillion channels, all carefully regulated for your protection.  God help you if you try to incite a little insurrection and accidentally reference a bit of copyrighted material.

I think the powers that be suddenly realized that the internet gave people the opportunity to communicate without a filter and circumvent billions of dollars of thought shaping ads and screed.  Well, we can’t have that.  Here comes the crackdown.  This could be the end of a brilliant 20 year experiment that many of us cut our grown up teeth on.  Or it could mean a new opportunity for creativity.  If all that copyrighted material is suddenly off limits, we may see a boom in new, creative content that is royalty free, er, except to anyone in the media.  I’d love to see that kind of intellectual property agreement.

But sooner or later, the bastards will get what they want by buying the right lawmakers.  It goes without saying that we need to get rid of them and it starts at the top with Obama.  No, no, don’t try to scare me with Newt Gingrich.  There are times when you have to stop being afraid that you will not succeed.  There are third party candidates out there.  Pick one, everyone get behind that person and pull.

4.) Jay Rosen says that Republican voters are living in a different reality:

So I’m not saying that the Democrats and progressives are the ones who are in touch with reality, while conservatives and Republicans are not. (But I guarantee you some will read it that way.) I’m saying that the tendency toward wish fulfillment, selective memory, ideological blindness, truth-busting demagoguery and denial of the inconvenient fact remains within normal trouble-making bounds for the Democratic coalition. But it has broken through the normal limits on the Republican side, an historical development that we don’t understand very well. That is, we don’t know the reasons for it, why it happened when it did, or what might reverse it. (We also need to know the degree to which it is a global phenomenon among conservative parties in mature democracies, or an American thing.) Political scientists: help!

I think wish fulfillment is at the core of the religious Republicans’ worldview.  If you are wishing soooooo hard that the Rapture is going to come and destroy all of your enemies and family members who wouldn’t listen to you, then what does it matter how crazy your politics get?  Any thought that leads you closer to that eventuality is permissible.

One of my Dad’s favorite sayings was “Wishing doesn’t make it so.” He must have driven social conservatives nuts with that kind of clear thinking. {{snicker}}

***************************

Argghhhh!  It’s always something.  The siding looks like a perfect match, even though it’s vinyl and the rest of the house is aluminum.  But the trim was ordered in the wrong color.  They delivered white, I need Navajo White.  It’s in the covenant.  And even if it were the right color, we’re a box short.  So, it’s not going to get finished today.  It’s on the side of the house that is not visible to the street but *is* visible to my neighbor, the cul-de-sac busy body and general itch with a B.  She’s got me fined before when I left cabinets on the sidewalk from my kitchen demo.  Most of them got taken by Craigslist foragers but there were two that were not and I pulled my back last summer so I couldn’t lift them to the dumpster, which I am not allowed to leave them in anyway.  $25.00/day until I could get someone to help me get rid of them.  You would think that someone so obsessed with the condition of the neighborhood would lend a helping hand.  No, not this one.  It’s much more fun to leave nasty anonymous notes on your neighbors door and sic the association on them.   I can just picture the fine that will be in my mailbox if the siding is left unfinished one second longer than Mrs. NebbyNose can tolerate. I can not *WAIT* to get out of NJ and the damn townhouse association strike force.

The Confluence is not nor ever has been birther territory

It’s strange that we even have to reiterate this fact but I was going through some Twitter references and found that someone proclaimed that we were birthers.  Not only am I a birther but according to this smear artist, I am “one of the worst”.  Whoever this person is wants to associate this site with the stupidist waste of time since the end of the 2008 election and seeks to embarrass us and tag anyone who references us guilty by association.  I guess we must still be making an impact if they’re willing to go this far.

Anyone who has been following this blog knows we have never been birthers.  In fact, we wrote several posts encouraging the birthers to give it up and stop looking stupid.  They didn’t, but some of them were so offended by our unwelcoming attitude towards anything birther that they went away. And that’s fine with me.  If you’re anger and frustration leads you to believe something that is unreal, then please don’t hang around here.

But what does this smear say about the smearer?  I don’t know but it does come on the heels of the posts I made about thought reform techniques and since there are people at DailyKos (geekesque comes to mind) who still can’t resist an opportunity to make shit up about me and this site, I’m inclined to believe it was someone like that who didn’t like what I wrote about DailyKos and decided to drop that crazy bit of misinformation into the twittersphere.

Normally, I don’t respond to our critics.  In fact, I don’t even read them.  But people believe stuff that isn’t true, which is why I wrote those posts on thought reform and high control group recruitment techniques.  This much is true: you will never find a post or comment from me in favor of birtherism.  Quite the opposite.  On the other hand, you most certainly will find love bombing, phobia induction, categorization, shunning, behavioral controls and conversion testimonials at DailyKos and these tend to get more pronounced during election years.  That doesn’t mean that DailyKos is a cult but the site is vulnerable, whether intentionally or not, to high control group tactics.

Readers are advised to consider what is more dangerous to their political mental health: a site that encourages decision making based on independent thinking and principles or one based on using well known compliance techniques in order to persuade the individual to conform to the herd.

#opBlackout January 23, 2012

Most of you have probably seen this by now.  Internet giants Wikipedia, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, AOL, PayPal and others are contemplating an internet blackout of their services for January 23 to protest proposed SOPA legislation to be voted on January 24.

Companies including Google, Facebook, Twitter, PayPal, Yahoo! and Wikipedia are said to be discussing a coordinated blackout of services to demonstrate the potential effect SOPA would have on the Internet, something already being called a “nuclear option” of protesting. The rumors surrounding the potential blackout were only strengthened by Markham Erickson, executive director of trade association NetCoalition, who told FoxNews that “a number of companies have had discussions about [blacking out services]” last week.

According to Erickson, the companies are well aware of how serious an act such a blackout would be:

“This type of thing doesn’t happen because companies typically don’t want to put their users in that position. The difference is that these bills so fundamentally change the way the Internet works. People need to understand the effect this special-interest legislation will have on those who use the Internet.”

The idea of an Internet blackout should seem familiar to anyone who’s been paying attention to the debate so far. In addition to a blackout already carried out by Mozilla, hacking group Anonymous proposed the same thing a couple of weeks ago, suggesting that sites replace their front pages with a statement protesting SOPA. That suggestion itself came a week after Jimmy Wales had asked Wikipedia users about the possibility of blacking out that site in protest of the bill.

I think they’re serious.  Holy hemiola, we’d have to look stuff up and talk on the phone.  I know it sounds trivial but I think about how I use each one of these services each day and how without them, I would feel disabled.  We would have to relearn how to do things all over again.

Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google said:

The bills “give the U.S. government and copyright holders extraordinary powers including the ability to hijack DNS (the Internet’s naming system) and censor search results (and this is even without so much as a proper court trial),” Brin wrote last month on his Google+ page as Congress was considering the measures. “While I support their goal of reducing copyright infringement (which I don’t believe these acts would accomplish), I am shocked that our lawmakers would contemplate such measures that would put us on a par with the most oppressive nations in the world.”

That CNN article also writes that:

When contacted by CNN, none of those companies would confirm that such a drastic move had ever been considered. By Friday, the advocate whose comments had fueled the speculation appeared to back away from claims that a Web blackout was still likely to occur.

“Internet and technology companies will continue to educate policymakers and other stakeholders on the problems with the (legislation),” Markham Erickson, director of Web trade associationNetCoalition, said in a statement. “An ‘Internet blackout’ would obviously be both drastic and unprecedented.”

Or maybe they’re just not going to tell us what day or hour.  Sort of like Armageddon.

Al Gore appears to oppose SOPA as well.  In a recent speech, “the ex-veep warned that proposals to levy an Internet death penalty against allegedly piratical Web sites “would very probably have the effect of really shutting down the vibrancy of the Internet.”” and  “anything that would serve to threaten the vibrancy and freedom of the Internet in the future, I’m against.”  There was a youtube video of Gore’s remarks on the subject but somewhat ironically, it was deleted from the internet.

I hope they go through with it.  Enough with the copyright smokescreen.  This is a great way for media giants to shut down, well, whatever they want to shut down.  It’s not in their best interests to have people making snide and unpleasant remarks about them.  They’ll be like the whiny billionaires and make our stuff disappear. Oh, they won’t mean to delete your occupy videos and tweets because of alleged copyright violations.  But if you can’t use the internet to file a complaint, you’re kinda stuck, right?

So, black them out for a day and plunge us back to 1992 when no one had ever heard of a browser and we were all just thrilled to death that we could ftp the soda machine in the Computer Science building at CMU to see if the cokes were cold yet.  I hope WordPress, Typepad and other hosting sites follow suit.  But google is going to be a real problem because it affects so many businesses and industries.  I use google to find free scientific software, look up papers and unknown terms, as well as for mail, addresses and phone numbers.  I don’t even know where my phone books are.

This should be good.

And here’s a video from Anonymous on #opBlackout.  It’s pretty heavy on the ominous.

*********************************

In other news: Ron Paul gave a speech in NH.  His buzzword appears to be “liberty”.  Has anyone ever sat down with Paul and asked him to explain just what liberty means to him and whether it applies to all American Citizens equally or just 49% of them?  You can hear a lot of cheering in the background.  It sounds like a bunch of guys.  It has to be guys.  I’d just like to point out that, once again, the so-called liberals are willing to sell out their sisters just so they can say they stopped a war.  And let me add the disclaimer that I opposed these stupid wars from the very beginning when many on the left were supporting them.  I have a brother over there, a brother who was stupid enough to be all enthusiastic about us kicking ass in Iraq 8 years ago and over which we had the kind of argument over dinner that leads to siblings referring to their relationsip as “estranged”.  (Betcha he wishes he’d listented to me now) I want the wars to stop sucking blood and money from us as much as Noam Chomsky.  But getting us out of a mess that Bush deliberately chained us to is not going to be easy and I don’t want to get saddled with Ron Paul for four years.  I want an FDR style Democrat in the White House who will not sacrifice women to score political points with the religious and who has enough foreign policy experience to not trigger Pakistan to go off on a hissy fit.  Enough of the female sacrifices and the economic inertia.  Get Obama out of the White House and replace him with someone who will act like they give a f^*&.  And if you can’t think through this problem long enough to abandon Paul and his Dickensian worldview, you’re no progressive.

BTW, I’d just like to note that if this is some kind of reverse psychology strategy to get us to vote for Obama as the lesser evil, it won’t work for me.  I will never vote for Obama because 1.) he’s been a lousy president and responsible for the livelihoods ruined and families made homeless by his finance industry backed policies, 2.) if he did a lousy job for the first four years, he sure as hell won’t stand up to congressional Republicans in the second four and 3.) our right to vote is our one sacrament and he and the DNC violated that right for 18,000,000 of us in 2008.  That is unforgivable for a politician.  So, if you’re a progressive male, and they’re almost always men, and you are playing some political game of chicken with us, be careful because you might just get stuck with a hardass Republican.  This is not the way to win friends and influence people.

Anyway, here’s the speech.  You be the judge.

Iranian Government and State-Run Media Escalate Conflict

Faezeh Hashemi, daughter of Ali Rafsanjani

Faezeh Hashemi, daughter of Ali Rafsanjani

It appears that the Iranian government is getting increasingly desperate. Earlier today several relatives of former Iranian president Ali Akbar Hashimi Rafsanjani, including his daughter, were arrested and detained for a time. According to The New York Times,

Mr. Rafsanjani, one of the fathers of the Iranian revolution, has been locked in a power struggle with Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and worked closely with the reform movement during the disputed presidential election. Sunday morning, state television said five members of his family had been detained, including Mr. Rafsanjani’s daughter, Faezeh Hashemi. Later, family members said all had been released.

The detentions suggested that Mr. Khamenei was facing entrenched resistance among some members of the elite. Though rivalries among top clerics in Iran have been a feature of Iranian politics since the 1979 revolution, analysts said that open factional competition amid a major political crisis could hinder Mr. Khamenei’s ability to restore order.

Now the Washington Post is reporting that the Iranian state-controlled media is calling losing presidential candidate Mir Hussein Mousavi a “criminal” and claiming that protesters are members of a terrorist group based in France, Mudjehadin-e khalq.

Authorities appeared to be seeking to blame the violence on radicals. State television charged that “the presence of terrorists . . . was tangible” in Saturday’s events. It asked viewers to send videoclips of protestors in order to help authorities to arrest them.

Scenes of the violent protest were shown frequently on Iranian state television and in a special broadcast the rioters were said to be members of the Paris based Mudjehadin-e khalq organization, an Islamist Marxist group that is labeled by the United States as a terrorist organization. After siding with Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war and a series of terrorists attacks, the group has little support among most Iranians.

Audio clips were played of alleged telephone recordings in which people said to be members of the organization urge others to get information about the protests to Western news organizations. Despite the media claims, involvement of the group seems highly unlikely since supporters are rare in Iran.

In addition, the Post reports that Mousavi has not made any public appearances today, and his followers are very worried that he may be arrested. The Post says that it is becoming clear that there is power struggle going on in the Iranian government between Rafsanjani and Ayatolla Khamenei. Continue reading

Your Breakfast Read: Tweedly-deedly-dee!

The ominous clouds still hover over New Jersey.  It’s less than a week from the summer solstice and I am still wearing flannels.  It’s a balmy 62 degrees.  Brrrrrrrr!  What I wouldn’t give to be somewhere else.  Like…

Breakfast on Santorini

Breakfast on Santorini

Grab a seat, er, a chair.

On the newsfront, Hillary says she don’t know nothin’ about Twitter (she’s being coy), but apparently it’s very important to young people.  Er, I guess that would be us, the middle aged, uneducated womenfolk and guys of The Confluence.  Ok, at the risk of sounding like a Hillary groupie, which I could very well be, I just have to point out something that she says a lot but which seems to go over the Obots’ heads: she always grounds her reasons for doing or supporting things in some principle.  In the case of twitter and the Iran election:

Clinton said she considered it important to keep “that line of communication open and enabling people to share information, particularly at a time when there [were] not many other sources of information. . . . It is a fundamental right for people to be able to communicate.”

Making a decision is so much easier when you know what you stand for.  Obama should try it sometime.

Oh and check this out.

What a lovely shade of green.  She’s also a proponent of having votes counted (you have to wait til the very end).  Who knew?

By the way, Hillary broke her elbow on her way to the WH yesterday.  She will need surgery in the upcoming week to fix it properly.  Having broken my wrist in three places a couple of years ago, I sympathize.  The pain and swelling isn’t pleasant.  We hope it’s of short duration.

E.J. Dionne asks a very good question: “Where did we get the idea that the only good health care bill is a bipartisan bill?” I was wondering when someone in Versailles would start to snap out of it.  Bipartisanship in itself is not a goal.  Affordable, universal healthcare is the goal.  And once you figure that out, you also quickly realize that Republicans don’t really want affordable, universal healthcare.  Way to go, E.J.!  He can be taught.  Give him a biscuit.

The NYTimes reports that Ayatollah Khamenei blinks again.  Iran’s Guardian Council is offering to meet with the opposition candidates to discuss their grievances.  I like the way Moussavi, Karoubi and others are handling the uprising but this meeting could be tricky.  The Guardian Council appears to be offering an olive branch with the expectation that the protestors will get sick of waiting and go back to work.   The meetings are scheduled for next week or Saturday at the earliest.  Why wait?  Why not today? Let’s get down to business. The disruption in telecommunications must be doing a number on day to day business.  It’s a showdown.  Stay tuned.

For the parents out there who think the world has gone mad trying to keep kids ultra safe, check out one of my new favorite blogs by Lenore Skenazy called Free Range Kids.  Some of the stories she has assembled make you scratch your head and say WTF???  Yes, you really can overdo the safety thing.  Let’s give back childhood to our kids and quit micromanaging their lives.  (She says as she quietly commits her daughter to 5 weeks of intense algebra)

Podcasts du Jour: Paul Krugman gave a series of lectures in London last week and he has made them available for the rest of us via podcast.  I listened to parts 1 and 2 yesterday.  Sometimes, he gets a bit geeky and I’m no economist so some of it goes over head.  But you should be able to follow along pretty well and get the gist of it.  Krugman’s style is, well, a bit geeky.  It take a little getting used to but he’s got some charming antedotes and appreciates Monty Python and finds CD players in cars newfangled innovations.  Highly recommended.


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U.S. State Department Asked Twitter To Reschedule Down Time

Rally in Tehran, June 16, 2009

Rally in Tehran, June 16, 2009

Yesterday Twitter announced it would have 90 minutes of down time at 9:45 Pacific time while they did some site maintenance. Thousands of Twitterers begged for the site to be left up, since Twitter has become an important source of communication for Iranians who are trying to get news out to the world and to reach out to other people. At first Twitter said they couldn’t change the down time, but then in the evening they announced it would be rescheduled until this afternoon. Now it turns out that it was the State Department that prevailed upon Twitter to keep the lines of communication open during daytime hours in Iran.

From CNN Political Ticker:

U.S. officials say the Internet, and specifically social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, are providing the United States with critical information in the face of Iranian authorities banning western journalists from covering political rallies.

“There are lots of people here watching” at bureaus and offices across the State Department, one senior official said. “There are some interesting messages going up.”

Because the United States has no relations with Iran and does not have an embassy there, it is relying on media reports and the State Department’s Iran Watch Offices in embassies around the world. The largest such offices are in Dubai, Berlin and London, all home to large Iranian expatriate communities.

While officials would not say whether they were communicating with Iranians directly, one senior official noted that the United States is learning about certain people being picked up for questioning by authorities through posts on Twitter.

I’m not really sure how to feel about this. I certainly hope the State Department has other sources of information besides the ones available to the rest of us. Nevertheless, this news provides more reinforcement for the notion that has gone viral lately: that Twitter and Facebook, like blogs, have a valuable role to play in citizen journalism. Continue reading