Paul Krugman: TINA and the ACA (NY Times Blog)
That's why Obamacare opponents really had to stop it before it happened. As long as it was just a plan, they could insist that it was unworkable - that it would not, in fact, cover the uninsured, that costs would soar, that it would cripple the economy. And the official GOP position is indeed that the law has failed; who you gonna believe, us or your lying eyes? But none of the bad things that were supposed to happen, did. And the repeal-and-replace crowd cannot come up with an alternative, because there isn't one.
Paul Krugman: Liber8 BB-8! (NY Times Blog)
Think about the droids [in The Force Awakens]: they're obviously sentient, are depicted as having emotions, form friendships. They are, in effect, people. Yet they're treated as indentured servants at best, even by the good guys: Poe is referred to as BB-8's "master". If the movie had put a flesh-and-blood creature in that kind of position, the unacceptable connotations would be obvious. So what's with the assumption of organic privilege?
Paul Krugman: Oil Goes Nonlinear (NY Times Blog)
When oil prices began their big plunge, it was widely assumed that the economic effects would be positive. Some of us were a bit skeptical. But maybe not skeptical enough: taking a global view, there's a pretty good case that the oil plunge is having a distinctly negative impact. Why?
HENRY ROLLINS: BOWIE'S BLACKSTAR IS ON THE LEVEL OF LOW AND HEROES (LA Weekly)
For those who have not listened to David Bowie beyond his singles or the inescapable Let's Dance album, I hope you allow yourself to do so. I can't think of any other single artist who not only covered so much ground but broke it (and himself) as well. The entire time, he kept just out of reach, even at his most radio-friendly pop moments - those perhaps being his biggest put-on of all. As good as music gets can be found on any number of his albums.
Deborah Orr: Lemmy gambled and won - but kids, don't try this at home (The Guardian)
As the New Year's honours list shows, the conventional route to success is the same as it ever was, even as the mainstream sends off rebels with a wry smile.
Alison Flood: Philip Pullman resigns as Oxford literary festival patron over lack of pay for authors (The Guardian)
Bestselling writer says organisers 'expecting authors to work for free' conflicts with his role as president of society that campaigns for author wages.
Michele Hanson: Another lost lunch club, another activity for older people gone (The Guardian)
Thanks to government cuts, services for the elderly have dwindled, which has meant goodbye to social life and exercise for thousands, leaving them less happy, less healthy and lacking a much-needed community.
Oliver Burkeman: Is our destiny in our own hands? (The Guardian)
Maybe it's too awful to admit we're stumbling mapless among the trees, or that our choices don't make much difference.
DeviantArt Gallery of Russian Cosplayers Rei-Doll and Ryoko-Demon.
Rei-Doll and Ryoko-Demon: Signed Posters
Buy Signed Posters or Photo Cards of Photos from the DeviantArt Gallery of Russian Cosplayers Rei-Doll and Ryoko-Demon.
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David Bruce has over 80 Kindle books on Amazon.com.
"Doug's Most Shared Facebook Post" Today
Michelle in AZ
from Marc Perkel
from that Mad Cat, JD
THE RELIGIOUS RIGHT IS WRONG!
NO MORE WAR!
"...HYPERBOLE IN A DEBATE THAT LOST RELEVANCE LONG AGO."
THE STUPID "JESUS FREAK" REPUBLICANS!
WHAT ARE YOU SMOKING BABE?
FEEL THE BERN!
FEEL THE BERN! PART TWO.
FEEL THE BERN! PART THREE.
THE EVIL REPUBLICANS!
THE WELFARE QUEENS!
GOD, THIS IS AWFUL!
Visit JD's site - Kitty Litter Music
In The Chaos Household
Comedy Central has finally started listing Larry Wilmore's guests. Finally!
Finally Tops US Chart
David Bowie's final album on Sunday hit number one in the United States, his adopted home, with the British music legend posthumously achieving a feat he never managed in life.
"Blackstar," which was released two days before Bowie's January 10 death from a secret battle with cancer, debuted at number one on the Billboard album chart for the week through Thursday.
Amid the outpouring of grief, Bowie not only scored his first US number one album but became among the rare artists to have two in the top five, with his greatest hits collection "Best of Bowie," released in 2002, hitting number four.
"Blackstar" -- which came out on Bowie's 69th birthday -- had immediately won critical acclaim for its experimentalism as the long-reinventing artist developed a dark, hard jazz sound.
"Blackstar" also opened at number one in Britain, where it was Bowie's 10th chart-topping album.
First Flower Blooms
International Space Station
For the first time ever, a flower has bloomed in space, aboard the International Space Station. This brings cosmic explorers one step closer to growing other flowering plants in space, like tomatoes, which NASA says it hopes to do in 2018.
On Saturday, American astronaut Scott Kelly, who has been working since March 2015 on the space laboratory and has become its resident gardner, gleefully announced on Twitter that he successfully coaxed the brightly colored Zinnia to blossom, a big accomplishment, as less than a month ago, the plants were moldy and shriveled.
But even the space mold held some interest to researchers, so it was collected and frozen so it can be returned to Earth for study.
For scientists back on Earth, the flowering experiment, called "Veggie," will allow them to better understand how plants grow in microgravity. For the astronauts in space, growing the quick-sprouting Zinnias is important practice for growing fresh food on longer space missions in the future.
Astronauts eat mostly food that has been freeze-dried for long storage. Fresh fruits and vegetables do show up occasionally at the space station with other supply deliveries, but they run out quickly.
International Space Station
Cosmic Particles Collected In Pyramid
An international team of researchers said Sunday they will soon begin analyzing cosmic particles collected inside Egypt's Bent Pyramid to search for clues as to how it was built and learn more about the 4,600-year-old structure.
Mehdi Tayoubi, president of the Heritage Innovation Preservation Institute, said that plates planted inside the pyramid last month have collected data on radiographic particles known as muons that rain down from the earth's atmosphere.
The particles pass through empty spaces but can be absorbed or deflected by harder surfaces. By studying particle accumulations, scientists may learn more about the construction of the pyramid, built by the Pharaoh Snefru.
"For the construction of the pyramids, there is no single theory that is 100 percent proven or checked; They are all theories and hypotheses," said Hany Helal, the institute's vice president.
"What we are trying to do with the new technology, we would like to either confirm or change or upgrade or modify the hypotheses that we have on how the pyramids were constructed," he said.
NYC Deal Reached
New York City officials announced Sunday that a deal has been reached to keep some horse-drawn carriages in Central Park and build a new in-park stable for the horses rather than ban them altogether.
The horses currently live in private stables on Manhattan's West Side, and animal rights advocates have been fighting to get the carriages banned entirely, calling it inhumane to keep horses in loud, car-clogged Manhattan. The Democratic mayor also pledged when he was sworn in two years ago to end the popular carriage rides through the park. But that was met with public and political opposition.
City officials Sunday said the deal would eventually reduce the number of licensed horses from about 180 to 95 when a permanent home is built for them in Central Park by Oct. 1, 2018. The agreement also limits the operation of horse-drawn carriages, with the exception of travel to and from their existing stables to Central Park beginning June 1.
Once the stable is complete, all travel and operations will be inside Central Park, providing space for 68 carriages and 75 horses, officials said. Horses not at work must be on furlough outside the city.
The number of hours per day a carriage may operate will be limited to 9 hours in any 24-hour period beginning Dec. 1 and carriages will be able to charge an extra $5 for trips after 6 p.m. between Nov. 15th and Jan. 5, and on Valentine's Day or Easter, officials said. Also, pedicabs will not be permitted to operate in the park south of the 85th Street Transverse, beginning June 1.
U.S. civil rights hero Martin Luther King Jr. and Civil War Confederate commander General Robert E. Lee will share a common holiday on Monday in three southern states, but perhaps for the final time in one of them, Arkansas.
The state's Republican governor is pushing to separate the joint celebration after critics said it is an insult for the man who fought to end racial segregation to share a day with a man who fought to preserve slavery.
Arkansas, Mississippi and Alabama for years have observed a joint holiday for King and Lee, whose birthdays are just four days apart.
Arkansas in the 1940s set up a day in mid-January to honor Lee and created a holiday for King in 1983. Two years after that, it combined the two for a joint day marked on the third Monday in January.
David Ayers says he feared for his life during the nearly 12 years he spent in a prison for a murder that evidence showed he didn't commit.
The 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals voided Ayers' conviction in 2010, and he was freed nearly a year later. A federal court jury in 2013 awarded him $13.2 million, a verdict upheld by the appeals court.
But Ayers hasn't received a dime, and it's unclear if he will.
Cleveland says it owes him nothing and the judgment was against the two homicide detectives who helped convict him, not the city. It further argues the judgment was erased in a bankruptcy filed by one of the detectives.
It appears Cleveland is planning a similar strategy over a $5.5 million verdict returned in September against a police officer who fatally shot Kenny Smith outside a nightclub in 2012. That verdict has been appealed, but the city in November hired a bankruptcy attorney for the officer.
Mobster Posed As Rancher
A Boston mobster who posed as an Idaho rancher for more than a decade goes to court in Boise next month.
Enrico Ponzo, 47, is representing himself and plans to argue that he suffered from a mental defect, reported the Idaho Statesman. His court filing did not give details on his mental condition, but noted that the judge who oversaw his 2013 Boston trial ordered treatment for a "mental defect."
Ponzo went by the name Jeffrey John "Jay" Shaw while living in Idaho. He is charged with the unlawful possession of firearms, identity theft and possession of documents with intent to use them fraudulently.
He was arrested in February 2011 after authorities were tipped off about his true identity. They found 22 rifles, eight handguns and 34,000 rounds of ammunition at his home near Marsing.
Authorities also found forged driver's licenses and ID cards with the names of at least 10 people Ponzo impersonated during his 16 years on the run. He hid out in five different states before moving to Idaho.
After months of predicting a comeback for their preferred candidates, Republican establishment leaders now concede the first two contests of the presidential race, in Iowa and New Hampshire early next month, are Donald Trump's (R-Wichser) and Ted Cruz's (R-Pendejo) to lose.
That leaves many GOP traditionalists, who fear each candidate would be a disaster in the November general election, pinning their White House hopes on a feat no Republican has pulled off in modern political history: securing the nomination without winning at least one of the first two states on the calendar.
It's a risky strategy at best, and party officials are hoping that weaker candidates will drop out before the South Carolina primary that follows New Hampshire, allowing voters to more easily coalesce behind an alternative to the billionaire real estate mogul and the Texas senator.
Trump and Cruz are atop the field in Iowa, where voters caucus Feb. 1. Preference polls find Trump with a commanding lead in New Hampshire, which votes Feb. 9, and Cruz in the mix for second place.
The nine others in Republicans race are fighting to emerge from the pack; there's little sign anyone will drop out before voting begins.
Turning Ex-Concentration Camp Into Luxury Hotel
Montenegro has defended its decision to allow an island fortress and wartime concentration camp to be transformed into a luxury resort, a move that has sparked anger among relatives of its former prisoners.
Situated on Mamula island in the Adriatic sea in the popular Bay of Kotor, the 19th century fort was run by fascist Italian forces during World War II as a concentration camp where dozens of inmates are believed to have died.
Now the Balkan country has granted a 49-year lease to Swiss-Egyptian company Orascom to invest 15 million euros ($16 million) to build a high-end hotel with a spa and marina jetty.
Relatives of some of those detained at Mamula during the war have however come together to oppose the project, which they say is inappropriate given the island's dark past.
John B. Mansbridge
John B. Mansbridge, the two-time Oscar-nominated art director known for his work on such films as Tron, Bedknobs and Broomsticks and many other Disney films, has died. He was 98.
Mansbridge, who did everything from Citizen Kane (1941) to Frankenweenie (1984) and received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Art Directors Guild in 2006, died Monday, his family announced. He was a resident of La Quinta, Calif.
Mansbridge spent more than two decades at Disney as a designer and supervising art director for live-action features and received his Oscar noms for the studio's Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971) and The Island at the Top of the World (1974).
In addition to Tron (1982), his lengthy list of Disney credits as an art director/production designer includes The Love Bug (1968) and its sequels, The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes (1969), The World's Greatest Athlete (1973), Freaky Friday (1976), The Shaggy D.A. (1976) and the Tim Burton short Frankenweenie (1984).
Mansbridge also won an Emmy Award in 1988 for outstanding art direction for his work on the CBS series Beauty and the Beast.
A native of Geddes, S.D., Mansbridge served as an uncredited draftsman on Citizen Kane for director Orson Welles and worked in the RKO art department under six-time Oscar nominee Van Nest Polglase.
He was brought to Disney in the 1950s by Polglase's frequent collaborator, production designer Carroll Clark, a seven-time Oscar nominee known for such films as Notorious, Mary Poppins and The Absent-Minded Professor. He would prove to be Mansbridge's mentor.
Mansbridge also worked on the 1950s TV show Adventures of Superman and the 1980s revival of The Twilight Zone.
Survivors include his son Mark Mansbridge; also an art director and production designer, his credits include The Matrix Reloaded (2003), Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008), Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014) and, in a nice bit of synergy, Tron: Legacy (2010).
John B. Mansbridge