this n that

Obama State Of The Union Speech 2011: FULL TEXT. By most accounts on twitter, a fairly mundane — even boring — speech. But you know what? Obama tends to put out exactly what’s needed for a particular speech. So he blew our socks off in Tucson — but here? There wasn’t anyone to stomp on, really. For good or bad, he doesn’t seem to expend excess energy on every single speech.

Anyway, the GOP response was given by Paul Ryan. What amazes me is the part where Michelle Bachman speaks… for the Tea Party. The fuck? That’s some crazy pull they have over the GOP, and it’s going to make 2012 very interesting. A lot of commentary about her staring about four inches to the right of the camera — but doesn’t she lean right anyway? (Ahem 😀 ) And apparently the Libertarian Party also gave a response, but no one commented on it.

Quite possibly the funniest tweet: Michele Bachmann will push Tea Party agenda, including Don’t Add, Don’t Spell. #SOTU from Andy Borowitz. WaPo’s take: Obama’s SOTU, Ryan’s response, Bachmann’s banality.

A Modest Step, Some Sharp Complaints addresses LGBT issues in SOTU — plenty of ground still to cover.

Is American Higher Ed Screwed? Conservatives Try to Privatize College As Tuition Soars

s in most corners of American life, crisis is the new normal in academia. Investment returns to university endowments have plummeted, state aid is being cut, and critical federal stimulus dollars are running out. Tuition is up, enrollment is being capped, positions are being eliminated, and universities are increasingly relying on part-time adjunct faculty that shuttle from campus to campus in an effort to cobble together a paycheck.

Parents, out-of-work and saddled with depleted savings and home values, are less able to afford tuition than ever. As these axes fall, conservatives are pushing to remake universities in the image of private corporations: budgets dependent on the generosity of rich people, professors instructed to prove their market fitness or pack their bags, and cuts to the humanities in favor of more “practical” courses of study.

This is precisely what rich people want… education for the rich, not the poor. A well educated population is a menace to their vision of the “ideal” nation chock full of corporate welfare benefits while denying anything of substance to anyone else.

Not as bad as I feared: Olbermann’s Exit Deal Means He’s Barred from TV for Months. Six to nine months — which means he could be reporting on the 2012 elections after all. Some were speculating two years, so this is much better.

Oh, hey remember the TSA’s backscatter scanners? Jesse “The Body” Ventura objects to airport body scans. As he notes, “he has to go through the scans despite the fact that he is a frequent flyer, a former governor, a U.S. Navy veteran, and has an easily verifiable medical condition.” I am dismayed, although not surprised, that this issue has sunk back into obscurity. I should note that when I flew earlier this month, while there were backscatter scanners, there were also normal magnetic scanners, and I simply & quietly joined those lines. Of course, I don’t have titanium hip implants or anything, so I didn’t get pulled out even from there for the grope sessions.

If we could figure out some way to tax this, I wouldn’t be quite so outraged: Fox Gives GOP Presidential Wannabes $54.7 Million in Free Advertising. But yeah. Corporate welfare at it’s “best”…

Should Churches Be Taxed? OMG Yes! You know why? In order to not tax a church, the government is put in the position of defining what a church is and what it may or may not do to qualify (via the Internal Revenue Code) which violates the separation of church and state. Best to stay out of that entirely and tax it like any other business (and the churches can still apply for a charitable 501c3 type of nonprofit like any other charitable business — which BTW does not allow political campaigning or endorsements, and requires open financial books… *ahem* ).

This question was asked before Egypt went up in flames on the 25th, but I think it still bears watching. We may be on the verge of witnessing significant changes in this part of the world: Is Algeria next? Like Tunisia, Algeria has a large, younger, disaffected, educated class — who are killing themselves in the attempted journeys to Europe. But right now all eyes are on Egypt — and this is a much larger country — 80 million to Tunisia’s 10. If Egypt falls, more countries almost certainly will. See for example: A Region’s Unrest Scrambles U.S. Foreign Policy and Egypt protesters face internet clampdown. There has not been much U.S. mainstream media coverage of this as far as I can tell, but BBC is on it: Egypt protests: Three killed in ‘day of revolt’ and more.

This article speaks to the troubling accumulation of police brutality incidents across the U.S. — is it getting to the point where we don’t notice all the new events because of how many there are? An Isolated Incident Per Day.

Back to the NBC/Comcast merger. Here’s a run down of why it’s such a bad thing to merge them. This site lists all the organizations and properties these behemoths own. I’m still shocked this was approved, because this has to run afoul of federal antitrust statutes.

More on climate change: Topsy-Turvy Weather Tied to Weaker Arctic ‘Fence’. Maybe this helps explain why San Diego had the coldest & rainiest summer & fall? And now winter is surprisingly sunny and mild right now…

Interesting peek in tribal courts that we don’t pay attention to: Cherokee Nation court says treaty declares freedmen members. If I understand this correctly, there’s a treaty that says freed slaves of the Native Americans are to be considered tribal members, although at present blood ties is the only membership recognized, and there’s a group of descendants from those freed men who are suing for the right to be full tribal members. I am not clear if these people are black, or white, or some other race/tribe but they are apparently not of Cherokee blood.

And just because I have a personal interest in meditation: Meditation Correlated With Structural Changes In The Brain. Maybe that will give you a better idea of what’s going on in my noodle 🙂

I’m going to turn briefly to some matters of geekdom, although there are plenty of non-geek people running WordPress, using smartphones, and looking for good ways to protect passwords, so read on! First, we have a excellent tutorial here on what to watch out for when searching for free WordPress themes: Why You Should Never Search For Free WordPress Themes in Google or Anywhere Else. I picked up some good tips here, but it’s not at all obscure stuff: it’s laid out nicely for anyone to understand what to watch out for and how to avoid it.

Watch out for the security risks of smart phones. These mobile operating systems are not as secure as a Windows installation (where the new updates and patches are immediately applied) or a Unix/Linux/Mac install (ditto). Patches and security updates for Apple’s iPhone are sketchy, and even Google’s Android system isn’t getting patches as often as it should: Don’t Sacrifice Security on Mobile Devices.

And finally, an excellent overview of how to have unbreakable passwords while not making it impossible for you to come up with the passwords as needed: Password Hashing: A Neat Idea That Can Help to Protect Your Online Accounts. I really have to implement this myself although I’ve got half of it there already.

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