Alaska Dispatch News
July 1, 2015
Summer recess can come none too soon for the U.S. Supreme Court—some of those folks clearly need a timeout.
The dissents of Justices Antonin Scalia and John Roberts to last week’s decision on the same-sex marriage for Obergefell v. Hodges removed any doubt these supposed judicial leaders of our society have fallen into “partisan rancor” that “impedes their ability to carry out their functions.” Ironically, those are the words of Chief Justice Roberts describing the dysfunction of Congress in a speech in 2014.
Scalia sounded like a petulant teenager when he said (because he didn’t like the reasoning of the majority of his colleagues) he would “hide his head in a bag” if he were to join in such an opinion of the court written by five of the nine top jurists in the country. And the learned Scalia wrote “Huh?” in his dissent — expressing his puzzlement with the majority ruling. “Huh” in a U.S. Supreme Court opinion?
Until I came across this piece I hadn’t realized that it’s been 10 years since Luther Vandross died. He was one of my favorites since he first appeared on the scene when I was still in high school. Here he is performing a classic that he truly made his own.
Watching Luther’s “A House Is Not a Home” at these awards is to experience someone in complete control. It’s overwhelming. There’s a total lack of self-doubt displayed. You don’t feel like you’re watching a man sing; it’s closer to someone giving a speech, a sermon. It’s so natural that there doesn’t seem to be any thought behind what he’s doing. And it’s a simple performance: There are no aids to give it an extra boost. It’s just Luther onstage, with one spotlight, one microphone stand, one microphone, singing to Dionne Warwick, singing for everyone.
Just a quiet moment at the beach. Natural ambient sound, nothing artificial added. Testing what footage from a 7DII looks like upscaled to 4k in Adobe Premiere.
The ongoing drought in the western United States is evident in the water levels of Shasta Lake, a large reservoir in northern California that counts on rainfall for replenishment. Low water levels can lead to hazardous conditions for local recreation. Many more people are affected by how this limited water resource is allocated for ecological, urban, and agricultural needs downstream.
The Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) on Terra acquired these simulated true-color images of Shasta Lake. The top image shows the lake on September 14, 2005, and the bottom image was acquired on September 2, 2014.
On the day the first image was acquired, the lake’s elevation was 309.4 meters (1,015 feet); nine years later (second image), the lake level had dropped to an elevation of 278.3 meters (913 feet). The water elevation in the reservoir at full capacity would be 325.2 meters (1,067 feet). Light tan colors along the shore are new beach areas that have been uncovered as the water level has dropped. Click on the image comparison tool to see how the shoreline has changed.
The reservoir began to take shape in 1950 with the completion of Shasta Dam, visible in the lower left corner. At the time, it was the second-tallest concrete dam in the world, standing 183.5 meters (602 feet) high and 148.4 meters (487 feet) long. The dam traps water flowing from Squaw Creek and the McCloud, Pit, and Sacramento rivers, as well as smaller creeks and streams. Water released from the dam flows into a continuation of the Sacramento River and, ultimately, into the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and San Francisco Bay.
ISIS — the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria — is one of the least funny organizations on the planet. From child trafficking to attempted genocide, everything they touch turns into a big steaming pile of tragedy. Things seem to be going pretty well for them, too. The West’s new boogeymen captured the city of Ramadi, Iraq, last month, and they appear to be drawing in new recruits slightly faster than American airstrikes can kill them.
But, the truly scary thing is that they seem to have just popped into existence overnight. How many of you had never even heard the term “ISIS” before last year? How is such a spontaneous mass of organized terror even possible? We were wondering that, too, so we sat down with a few people who were on the ground in Iraq during ISIS’s real-life supervillain origin story. We learned that, if we’re not the father of ISIS, the United States is at least some sort of uncle.
While reading this, the only spoiler-free thought I had was “so, have the ends successfully justified the means? Apparently not.” At least the pseudonyms bring a touch of levity.
Tom DeLay appeared on Newsmax TV yesterday, where he told host Steve Malzberg that, just as he had predicted, all Hell is now breaking loose because of the Supreme Court ruling striking down gay marriage bans. Things are now so out of control, DeLay said, that he even knows about a “secret memo” from the Justice Department aimed at legalizing “12 new perversions,” including bestiality and pedophilia.
“We’ve already found a secret memo coming out of the Justice Department,” DeLay claimed. “They’re now going to go after 12 new perversions, things like bestiality, polygamy, having sex with little boys and making that legal. Not only that, but they have a whole list of strategies to go after the churches, the pastors, and any businesses that tries to assert their religious liberty. This is coming and it’s coming like a tidal wave.”
The Media Research Center’s Dan Joseph “goes where no conservative man has ever gone before,” (in the words of Chicks On The Right), in this fake interview, and what follows should not surprise any sane person at all.
Joseph: I’m actually surprised you agreed to this interview Ms. Dunham considering how much you despise -
Dunham: American Republicans?
Joseph: Exactly, but you agreed to it anyway. Why would you do that?
Dunham: Because I have…uh…problems.
Joseph: Clearly. So as a thirty something straight male, I’ve never seen the show Girls. What is it about?
Dunham: My nakedness.
Joseph: I think everyone remembers the first time they saw you with no clothes on.
Dunham: It was a painful public event.
Joseph: Interestingly, the psychiatry industry has boomed since that happened.
Joseph: Why would you want to be associated with a show that’s so god awful?
Dunham: I love the snacks.
Joseph: They have snacks on the set?
Dunham: Uh…french fries. I eat french fries for breakfast, at two in the afternoon yesterday …
Dunham: I really love to eat tacos, and…the list goes on and on.
Joseph: Have you ever eaten a vegetable?
Dunham: I have never had that.
Joseph: Just like the junk food, huh…
Dunham: This roll of fat on my stomach is evidence.
Now here is what Dunham was really talking about when she said “this roll of fat on my stomach is evidence,” in full context. Keep in mind that it was Andrew Breitbart, of all people, who once said “context is everything”:
Jian Ghomeshi: There’s a lot of revelations here. I mean there’s a lot of open, candid stuff here. You just said a moment ago - the lists of food were the most embarrassing?
Dunham: I think there’s something so intimate about listing what you ate and revealing the pathology around food, and also so much of my public image has been about a woman who doesn’t care what people think about my body, and so to admit in the pages of the book that I went through a phase where every almond that I put in my mouth was recorded felt like an inconsistency in my personal politics, and that was stressful.
Ghomeshi: So you fear being seen as a hypocrite?
Dunham: When I was writing that, I was like, “I am a hypocrite,” because I’m the one who’s going around saying, “you don’t need to be on a diet, you can wear the body that you have proudly,” and here I spent nine months drinking Ex-Lax tea and eating quarter portions of macrobiotic food, and then shaming myself and - but the thing that’s comforting is how many other women have gone, “that is my experience with food,” or have gone, “that is my experience with sex,” and it makes the world feel smaller. In some way, this is all a selfish exercise to make me feel less alone (laughs).
Ghomeshi: I mean it feels less like hypocrisy when you’re being so open about something that’s difficult, right?
Dunham: Well that’s great to hear. I mean that was the most private document that exists in my computer. I did not write that list of food - consumed food items - for a reader, I wrote it for myself in a supercharged period in my life. It was like, my movie had just come out, I was starting a pilot, and I was like, “Am I supposed to undergo this massive change?” I never imagined that I would have any kind of life in “Hollywood,” and then I wondered, “Am I supposed to undergo some massive shift and become the most beautified version of myself?” Because I think the best way I can explain it is that we have such a focus as a culture on will power and being, you know, the slimmest, most toned, most self actualized, the most Zen, and when you don’t have a body that fits the norm, you feel like your failings as a person are being presented outwardly. I was like, this roll of fat on my stomach is evidence that “I’m never going to be serious enough, I’m never going to have enough will power, I’m never going to be strong enough, I’m too lazy,” and letting go of that was really big for me.
Yeah, this is a window into the entire psychology behind the whole “South Will Rise Again!” and “Heritage not hate” mind-sets. Read this excellent first-person account of what it was like to lead tours through a former slave plantation, and to have angry white people attack for daring to suggest that black slaves did not lead a life of luxury.
There’s an entire subset of southern white racists that cannot, WILL NOT, allow themselves or anyone else, to admit that slavery was wrong, bad, evil. They desperately try to turn the conversation into a false equivalency by bringing up cases where white people had it tough:
Other guests seemed to have come around to slavery apologetics through a different route: They seemed find part of their identity in a sense of class victimhood, and they were unwilling to share the sympathy and attention of victimhood with black Americans. As Frank Guan pointed out in the New Republic, explicitness of racism tends to be inversely proportional to social class. Guests who expressed racism most openly to me often appeared to have had recent ancestors who were poor, who were prevented by convention and economics from rising in social status, and who were exploited by the powerful — but who were protected by their whiteness from the extreme oppression visited on African Americans. These guests felt that the deck had been stacked against them for generations, and their sense of ancestral victimhood was so personal that the suggestion that any group of people had it worse than their ancestors did was a threat to their sense of self.
These slavery apologists were less invested in defending slavery per se than in defending slaveowners, and they weren’t defending slaveowners so much as themselves.
There’s a lot here that makes sense. I find myself continually frustrated at the pushback I see from friends and relatives who will fight to their last breath to try to minimize what happened to slaves, while maximizing their own family histories of hardship and suffering.
For all the RWNJs supposed adherence to the cult of self-reliance, and taking responsibility for one’s life circumstances, there is underlying it all, this sense of victimhood, of blaming liberals, the media, gays, blacks, feminists, etc. for everything that has ever gone wrong in their lives. The author’s suggestion that to engage with them in a more gentle, accepting way, is one that in my better moments, I try to approximate.
Amidst the recent spate of aggressive displays of racism (church shootings, church burnings, announced KKK rallies, etc.) it’s nice to come across signs of progress. Misty Copeland’s story is one of those signs and it’s an inspiring tale of achievement.
I do wonder about the thought process behind stories like Misty Copeland, Athlete. I’ve often heard that ballet dancers should be looked at as athletes if you consider the physical abilities on display. But the long history of blacks being described as “natural athletes”, often in an attempt to diminish their hard work, gives me pause when I see the “athlete” label put on this ballerina.