Mark Morford: California floods, America burns, irony explodes (SF Gate)
In my world, alchemy is key. Taking a base matter - a situation, human atrocity, news item, president-elect, you name it - adding something to it, and landing somewhere new - new and, ideally, better than before. […] It simply means, when staring down the barrel of the dour and feeling the temptation to drown in bitter fatalism, to instead take some form of action - any action - toward the good, the nourishing, the positive.
Laura Snapes: "David Bowie: What have we learned since his death?" (The Guardian)
From clues to his cancer hidden in Blackstar's artwork to his mortal fear of Tina Turner … some astounding new Bowie facts have come to light over the last year.
Danuta Kean: Florida librarians accused of creating fake borrowers to save stock (The Guardian)
Two staff at East Lake library suspended after discovery of bogus loans, claimed to be a defence against automatic culling of unread books.
'I fell out of bed laughing': writers on their favourite funny book (The Guardian)
Nina Stibbe, David Nicholls, Bridget Christie and others reveal the books that made them laugh the most.
Dan Shewan: Robots will destroy our jobs - and we're not ready for it (The Guardian)
Two-thirds of Americans believe robots will soon perform most of the work done by humans but 80% also believe their jobs will be unaffected. Time to think again.
Joe Bob Briggs: The Ghoul Was Truly Cool (Taki Magazine)
The death of an actor, especially a character actor, is always a profound event, because at that moment all those years spent in shabby makeup rooms pop into sharp relief, revealing rivulets of love, hate, half-love, friendship, mock friendship, commerce, broken dreams, and forgotten people that have attached themselves to what has inevitably been a messy life full of misremembered colleagues, shady producers, late-night revelry, fleeting triumphs, and shows that closed out of town.
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Jeannie the Teed-Off Temp
Hey, Marty: You don't need to post this to BartcopE! if you don't think it's
appropriate, but I just had to write it and get it off my chest!:
I've been thinking that perhaps we need to give Trump a break...could the guy actually know a enough about acting to judge Meryl Streep after all? Is she, in fact, "overrated"? To be fair, let's look at this objectively!
First of all, we all know by now that Trump's opinion is the only one on earth that really matters, right? Obviously, his opinion would mean so much more than Meryl's millions of fans and the hundreds of peers that voted to honor her with the Cecile B. DeMille Lifetime achievement award at the Golden Globes, her numerous Oscars and hundreds of other nominations and awards she's received throughout her life!
Enough sarcasm though, let's get serious. I once heard another great actress, Jane Fonda, on a late-night talk show, when asked what makes her such an awesome actress, reply that she is a 'good liar', stating that you must be a good liar to be a good actor'. Well, sweetie, I'm sorry to break this news to you but that theory simply doesn't hold up, at least not 100 percent of the time! The problem lies in the fact that the two conditions are not reversible. I.E., while it may very well be true that all good actors must be good liars, Trump has now shown us that being a good liar doesn't necessarily mean that you know jack-shit about acting! I seriously hope that Jane won't take offense at my critique of her idea and that it won't jeopardize my friendship with her. Oh, wait...I don't actually have a friendship with Jane...
One other thing I've been thinking about is that maybe we should have a little more empathy for Melania Trump. Not only does she seem to be without any sort mind of her own, but after all, it is true that she is forced to suffer through Lumpy's disgusting sex drive. With Trump's ego most likely growing stronger every day, think of how much his sick, misogynistic, pussy-grabbing has probably increased over the last couple of months! Think of all the Viagra the guy's got to keep on hand!?
It has occurred to me, though, that Melania may not actually be remaining in this marriage voluntarily! So, Melania, if you are being held against your will, with no apparent, safe way for you and your son to get out, you need to let someone know. You're living in 21st-century America now and you do not have to live that way! To that end...perhaps you could give us some kind of sign, a secret signal that will let the country know you need help. Maybe you could yawn 3 times during Lumpy's inauguration speech, flash us the peace sign or some other cryptic-but-obvious, coded message. I can't guarantee you any actual help, because at this time there aren't any plans for that scenario in place. But, hey, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it...kind of like Donald's plans for repealing Obamacare.
OTOH, if you are not being held captive, if you are actually allowing/inviting that evil, perverted man to defile you then I guess the truth is you don't really deserve our empathy. After all, your life-choices are what put you in the position you're in now. If that's the case, then I can only think of one thing to say: I hope your sugar daddy gives it to you often and rough, you empty-headed gold-digger!
Well, I do feel much better having analyzed these situations fairly and logically...how about you? ;)
Your faithful reader,
from Marc Perkel
from that Mad Cat, JD
JD is a bit under the weather.
Visit JD's site - Kitty Litter Music
In The Chaos Household
More rain coming.
Teases Release Of 'Winds of Winter'
George R.R. Martin
George R.R. Martin has suggested to fans that the next instalment in the "Game of Thrones" book series could finally be released this year reports Vulture.
"Winds of Winter" is due to be the sixth book in George R.R. Martin's "Song of Ice and Fire" series, although the "Game of Thrones" TV show has already overtaken the books.
However fans might not want to get their hopes up just yet.
"Not done yet, but I've made progress. But not as much as I hoped a year ago, when I thought to be done by now."
George R.R. Martin
Building Philippine Underwater Theme Park
American children's television network Nickelodeon has announced it will build an underwater resort and theme park on an island known as the Philippines' last ecological frontier, alarming environmentalists.
The firm behind SpongeBob SquarePants and Dora the Explorer said the park on Palawan island would be part of a 400-hectare (1,000-acre) undersea development showcasing the area's marine life that would give fans a chance to "interact with the brand and the iconic characters they love".
Palawan was chosen for the development because it "is known to have some of the most beautiful beaches in the world today," Ron Johnson, an executive vice president with Viacom International Media Networks, which owns Nickelodeon, said in a statement emailed to AFP on Tuesday.
Viacom's initial statement announcing the project on Monday said the resort would open in 2020 and feature restaurants and lounges six metres (20 feet) below sea level.
But environmental group Greenpeace said it would destroy the area's world-famous marine ecosystem.
Chinese Humanoid Robot
"Jia Jia" can hold a simple conversation and make specific facial expressions when asked, and her creator believes the eerily life-like robot heralds a future of cyborg labour in China.
Billed as China's first human-like robot, Jia Jia was first trotted out last year by a team of engineers at the University of Science and Technology of China.
Team leader Chen Xiaoping sounded like a proud father as he and his prototype appeared Monday at an economic conference organised by banking giant UBS in Shanghai's futuristic financial centre.
Chen predicted that perhaps within a decade artificially intelligent (AI) robots like Jia Jia will begin performing a range of menial tasks in Chinese restaurants, nursing homes, hospitals and households.
With flowing black hair and dressed in a traditional Chinese dress, Jia Jia looks strikingly real. Yet her charm has its limits and simple questions frequently stump her.
Worst Word Of 2016
A panel of German language experts on Tuesday chose "Volksverraeter" (traitor to the people) as the worst word of 2016, saying the term often used by right-wing activists to insult mainstream politicians had Nazi connotations.
The six-member jury described the word as a "relic of dictatorships, including that of the Nazis".
"Used as a reproach against politicians, the word is both un-nuanced and defamatory, stifling the serious conversation and debates necessary in a democracy," it said in a statement.
Chancellor Angela Merkel and Vice-Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel have both been labelled "Volksverraeter" by far-right hecklers over the government's liberal refugee policy that has seen more than a million asylum seekers arrive since 2015.
The term is heavily loaded in Germany, where it evokes memories of Adolf Hitler and his henchmen going after those they labelled enemies of the nation.
What War On Women?
A Tennessee woman initially accused of attempted murder for unsuccessfully using a coat hanger to try to abort a 24-week-old fetus has been released after spending more than a year in jail, law enforcement officials said Tuesday.
Anna Yocca, 32, was arrested after the botched abortion attempt in 2015 in a case that led to complaints by pro-abortion activists in a state where no provider offers the procedure after a fetus reaches 16 weeks.
She pleaded not guilty to a charge of attempted murder of the fetus in 2015. However, in a plea deal with prosecutors, Yocca pleaded guilty on Monday to a lesser charge of attempting to procure a miscarriage, according to the Daily News Journal in Murfreesboro.
The attempted murder charge was dropped last year but she remained in jail, unable to make her $200,000 bond on lesser charges of assault and attempted criminal abortion.
Those charges were dropped on Monday as part of the plea deal.
A Michigan doctor accused of sexually abusing gymnasts was sued Tuesday by 18 women and girls, the latest legal action over alleged assaults, mostly at his clinic at Michigan State University.
The lawsuit against Dr. Larry Nassar, Michigan State, USA Gymnastics and a Lansing-area gymnastics club was filed in federal court in western Michigan. It makes claims of civil rights violations, discrimination and negligence.
The Associated Press usually doesn't name people who allege sexual abuse, but one of the plaintiffs, Rachael Denhollander, 32, of Louisville, Kentucky, talked publicly about the lawsuit. She said she was assaulted by Nassar while seeing him for wrist and back injuries at age 15 in 2000.
Denhollander, who was a gymnast, said she didn't file a complaint at the time because she believed her "voice would not be heard." She said Nassar was held in high esteem at Michigan State and was also affiliated with USA Gymnastics.
The abuse alleged by the 18 women and girls occurred over 20 years. They ranged in age from 9 to 29 at the time.
On the Move
Antarctic Science Lab
A British scientific base in Antarctica is on the move to a new location, to avoid being cut adrift by a crack in a floating ice shelf.
The British Antarctic Survey (BAS) announced on New Year's Eve that the first module of the Halley VI Research Station was towed by tractors to a new site on the Brunt Ice Shelf in Antarctica's Weddell Sea, 14 miles (23 kilometers) east of its former location.
The remaining seven main buildings of the modular research base will be towed to the new site over the coming weeks, as the relocation team takes advantage of the 24 hours of daylight during the brief Antarctic summer.
The modern Halley base is the sixth British research station of that name built on the floating Brunt Ice Shelf since 1956. Each of its main modules is equipped with hydraulic legs and skis, but this is the first time they have been moved since the new base became operational in 2012.
The Brunt Ice Shelf is typically around 490 feet (150 meters) thick. But scientists have learned that a long-dormant chasm in the ice southeast of the base is now growing by more than 1 mile (1.7 kilometers) each year, and threatens to eventually cut the base off from the inland section of the ice shelf.
Antarctic Science Lab
Resistance Heats Up At 11th Hour
Environmentalists are mobilizing against President-elect Donald Trump's (R-Grifter) nomination for secretary of state, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, in the hours leading up to his Senate confirmation hearing Wednesday.
A collection of green and liberal organizations - including Greenpeace USA and Oil Change International - projected "Reject Rex" and similar messages on the side of the Harry S. Truman Building, the headquarters of the State Department, in Washington, D.C., on Monday night.
Naomi Ages, the climate liability campaigner for Greenpeace USA, said it's ridiculous that the chief executive of an oil company would be selected to succeed John Kerry as secretary of state, the chief diplomat representing the interests of the American people around the world.
"He has no diplomatic experience. He has no government experience. He's only ever worked for ExxonMobil for 41 years. So his loyalty is to ExxonMobil and his experience is extracting oil for profit and for burning carbon. Neither of those things qualify you to be the secretary of state," Ages said in an interview with Yahoo News.
6,000 Turtles Rescued
Indian police said Wednesday they had recovered more than 6,000 freshwater turtles weighing over four tonnes from poachers who planned to smuggle them to Southeast Asia, in the country's largest-ever wildlife haul.
The 6,430 flapshell turtles were discovered stuffed into 140 jute bags in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday.
Indian flapshell turtles are not particularly rare but are a protected species under the Wildlife Protection Act.
Their meat is considered an aphrodisiac while the bones are powdered for use in traditional medicine and soups.
Uttar Pradesh is home to 14 of India's 28 endangered turtle species and at least 20,000 are reportedly smuggled out of the state every year.
As German tanks encircled the Polish town of Katowice, rookie British newspaper reporter Clare Hollingworth picked up the phone and dialed the British Embassy. An official there didn't believe what she told him, so she dangled the phone out the window so he could hear the ominous rumbling for himself.
"Listen!" she implored. "Can't you hear it?"
Hollingworth was 27, and just a week into her job with the Daily Telegraph of London. She had the scoop of a lifetime: World War II had just begun.
She hung up and called the Telegraph's Warsaw correspondent, who dictated to London her story about the Nazi invasion of southern Poland in late August 1939.
As the Nazis moved in, Hollingworth scrambled to get out of Poland, sometimes sleeping in cars, and eventually made her way to Romania. Hollingworth, who died at the age of was 105, would go on to write many more chapters in a decades-long career as a foreign correspondent.
A determined journalist who defied gender barriers and narrowly escaped death several times on the job, Hollingworth spent much of her life on the front lines of major conflicts, including in the Middle East, North Africa and Vietnam, for British newspapers. She spent the last three decades in Hong Kong after being one of the few Western journalists stationed in China in the 1970s.
She won major British journalism awards including a "What The Papers Say" lifetime achievement award and was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II. Former British Prime Minister Ted Heath and former Hong Kong Gov. Chris Patten were fans of Hollingworth, while various British generals wrote about her fondly.
Hollingworth was born Oct. 10, 1911, to a middle-class family in the village of Knighton in Leicestershire, England. Her father ran a boot factory founded by her grandfather. She took brief courses in Croatian at Zagreb University, international relations in Switzerland and Slavonic studies in London. She worked as a secretary and then at a British newspaper's refugee charity in Poland while writing occasional articles about the looming war in Europe. Friends influenced her decision to focus on journalism rather than politics.
The Daily Telegraph's editor gave her a job as a stringer and sent her to Poland, partly because of her work with refugees in that country, according to her great-nephew Patrick Garrett.
During her five months with the charity, Hollingworth played an important role in helping an estimated 3,000 refugees trying to escape the Nazis flee to Britain by arranging visas for them, a little known fact that Garrett unearthed in research for his 2016 biography of his great-aunt, "Of Fortunes and War."
After the Polish invasion, Hollingworth covered the Romanian revolution and hostilities in North Africa. When Allied forces captured Tripoli in 1943, British Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery ordered her back to Cairo because he didn't want women around. So she instead got herself accredited with U.S. forces in Algeria.
Later she reported on the fall of the Balkan states to communism, and on Cold War espionage, including the case of Kim Philby, a British journalist and Soviet double agent. Hollingworth wrote for many publications in her career, including the Economist, the Manchester Guardian and the Daily Express.
Hollingworth was close to danger for decades. In 1946, she was standing 300 yards (meters) from the King David Hotel in Jerusalem when it was destroyed by a bomb planted by militant Zionists that killed nearly 100 people.
While covering the Algerian war for independence in 1962, Hollingworth defied members of a French far-right group who rounded up foreign journalists and threatened some of them with execution.
Covering the Vietnam War, Hollingworth flew aboard U.S. military aircraft on supply runs and bombing missions.
Hollingworth became the Telegraph's first resident China correspondent when the paper sent her to Beijing - then known as Peking - in 1973, a year after President Richard Nixon's landmark visit that eventually led to formal ties between Washington and Beijing.
She moved to Hong Kong in 1981. She had intended to stay temporarily as she wrote a book about Mao Zedong, but decided to stay to watch the negotiations over Britain's return of Hong Kong to China in 1997 and never left.
Hollingworth wrote articles for the International Herald Tribune and Asian Wall Street Journal well into her old age. She was known for visiting the Foreign Correspondent's Club every day, where her domestic helpers read newspapers to her because of her failing eyesight and where friends and admirers helped her celebrate her 105th birthday with cake.