Saturday, February 28, 2015

Star Trek's George Takei recounts the generosity of his friend, Leonard Nimoy

Takei said Nimoy refused a voiceover role in the animated version of Star Trek unless Takei and Nichelle Nichols (Lt. Uhura) were also cast. They were.

ABC bravely points its cameras at Aaron Schock's bright red office walls

     Dan Rather said the camera never blinks, but if you saw ABC's piece on Schock on a big screen TV, you may well have winced at the squint-inducing bordello-red walls of his government office, — complete with pheasant feathers — said to be inspired by Downton Abbey's Red Room, if "inspired" is a synonym for "cut-rate."
     OK. Whatever.
    ABC informs us that Schock is not even among the top ten in Congress in terms of expenses, which is not reassuring. It also turns out that the Peoria, Illinois representative may even less strange than one of his Illinois GOP donors, in whose private plane he took $17,000 worth of rides, at least partially at taxpayer expense.

World News Videos | US News Videos

Patent fight over biological breakthrough of century that could cure HIV and MD

MIT says CRISPR, a new genetic editing technique adapted from bacteria (which are apparently much smarter than you might think), is the biological breakthrough of the new century. In fact, actress Cameron Diaz (who, apparently, is also much smarter than you might think) was on hand to hand over a Silicon Valley "Breakthrough" trophy — which comes with $3,000,000 in prize money. That is, of course, loose couch change compared to the profit potential of the discovery, which is now the subject of a patent fight. From MIT Technology Review:
During the last few months, scientists have shown that it’s possible to use CRISPR to rid mice of muscular dystrophy, cure them of a rare liver disease, make human cells immune to HIV, and genetically modify monkeys

RT: Putin 'immediately informed' of death of rival Boris Nemtsov, shot 4 times on Red Square Bridge

Immediately informed of Nemtsov's death or immediately informed that the deed was done? Inquiring minds want to know. Here's the White House statement:

Friday, February 27, 2015

Aaron Schock gets the Jon Stewart treatment and we're surprised it took this long

A snippet:
Instagram message to Schock:
My congressman is like a thousand years old and never does stuff like this. You're the coolest!
A mocking Stewart speaking like a Valley Girl:
All my congressman does is pass legislation, govern and, like, wear shirts. He's so lame!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

In '05 Deb Fischer voted to make Nebraskans hostages of slow, costly Internet service. Obama changed that

Last month, right wing extremist Sen. Deb Fischer called Obama's FCC Net Neutrality lobbying  "a new federal takeover of state laws governing broadband and the Internet," one of her more ridiculous lies.
     In doing so, she sided once again with Wall St. and against Main St. Nebraska businesses and consumers, telling yet another whopper to spin her corporate sellout.
     The FCC made two significant rulings Thursday: one, treating Internet Service Providers as common carriers, will go a long way toward insuring Net Neutrality.
     Unsurprisingly, the three Democrats on the FCC Board voted to protect Net Neutrality and the two Republicans did not. Surprisingly, not all ISPs are opposed to Net Neutrality. Sprint and T-Mobile, for example, are not lobbying against it like AT&T and Verizon.
     The FCC's other important decision today slapped down laws in two states restricting broadband services by municipalities. Nebraska is one of 19 other states that do that, because in  2005 the Nebraska Unicameral rolled over for ISPs wanting to ban any municipal competition to their substandard offerings, passing what we here at AKSARBENT like to call the Lousy ISP Protection Act (actually LB645).
     Here's who voted for it (you're welcome):

     The class will note Deb Fischer's "Yes" vote (when she was in the Unicameral) to kill off options for rural communities whose private internet service is so bad that they might want to build their own. Several cities have done that, a prospect that scares substandard, greedy ISPs to death. (Broadband can be very profitable: telecom analyst Craig Moffett points out that margins are north of 97%!)
     In his visit (video below) to Cedar Falls, Iowa, President Obama cited cities like Cedar Falls, Chattanooga, Tennessee and Lafayette, Louisiana which built their own broadband services — and which now offer their residents bandwidth "nearly 100 times faster than the national average and deliver it at an affordable price." (When Lafayette Utilities System announced its intention to build a municipal broadband network, it faced three years of court battles with two private, incumbent Internet providers of inferior speed, costing Layfayette $4 million, according to a report from the Center for Public Integrity.)

(At 8:33, above): Right now, about 45 million Americans cannot purchase next-generation broadband... And by the way, only 1/2 of rural Americans can log on at that superfast rate. And if folks do have good, fast Internet, chances are they only have one provider to pick from... What happens when there's no competition? You're stuck on hold, you're watching the  loading icon spin. You're waiting... and waiting... and waiting... and meanwhile, you're wondering why your rates keep getting jacked up when the service doesn't seem to improve...
     In too many places across America, some big companies are doing everything they can to keep out competitors. Today, in 19 states, we've got laws on the books that stamp out competition, that make it really difficult for communities to provide their own broadband the way you guys are. In some states it is virtually impossible to create a community network like the one that you've got here in Cedar Falls. So today I'm saying, we're going to change that. Enough's enough. We're going to change that so every community can do the smart things you guys are doing... I believe that a community has the right to make its own choice and to provide its own broadband if it wants to.
     ...The facts speak for themselves: competition works – when it is allowed to. Throughout the country where we have seen competitive broadband providers come in to a market, prices have gone down and broadband speeds have gone up. No wonder incumbent broadband providers want to legislate rather than innovate.
     ...Removing restrictions on community broadband can expand high-speed Internet access in underserved areas, spurring economic growth and improvements in government services, while enhancing competition.
Here are some informative links about the sorry state of broadband in much of the U.S.A. and what can be done to improve the situation
     Telecom industry groups such as the National Cable & Telecommunications Association have argued that municipal networks are risky investments that could drive cities into debt. These firms and their trade groups have donated millions of dollars to state and federal politicians on both sides of the aisle.
     Besides contributions, the cable lobby has directly submitted legislation to restrict municipal broadband networks and taken fledgling networks to court. Last year, according to a report by Ars Technica, the Kansas Legislature squashed a bill to limit municipal broadband networks that was drafted and submitted by the Kansas Cable Telecommunications Association.

The idiot senator from Oklahoma throws a snowball in the Senate to disprove global warming

From the land of Sally Kerns and the new home of Anita Bryant comes James Inhofe, the chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee — another cruel joke that the GOP has played on America.
     Oh, excuse us: we meant to say the venal senator from Oklahoma, who now has a beautiful color enlargement of his grandchildren printed at taxpayer expense.

They're already changing marriage applications in Lincoln from Bride and Groom to Applicant 1 and Applicant 2

Evidently some people don't have much faith in the powers of persuasion of our esteemed and thoroughly anti-gay marriage Attorney General, Doug Peterson.
     The Omaha World-Herald is reporting that about 50 clergy in the state have already listed themselves on a roster of those willing to marry gay couples which is at this website.

A new beehive so revolutionary it was crowdfunded in FIVE minutes

Australian father and son, Stuart and Cedar Anderson, have invented a new hive for Beekeepers that allows them to simply open a tap to collect honey, a significant improvement over traditional methods:
"Harvesting your honey used to be a real labor of love. You had to protect yourself from stings, fire up a smoker to sedate the bees, crack the hive open, lift heavy boxes, pull out the frames — trying not to squash bees — brush them off or use a leaf blower, transfer the frames to processing shed, hack the wax capping off, filter the honey and clean up all the mess. Then the frames have to go back to the hive again. Now you don't need to do any of that."
     Well, at least not every time.
     The Anderson's Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign, started earlier this week, reached its $70,000 goal in FIVE MINUTES and is now over $3,000,000. Here's a more detailed explanation of their invention.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Meet the Peoria donor who collected $17,000 in political funds and your taxes to fly Aaron Schock around in a private plane

From the Chicago Tribune:
     The group said Schock's office and political funds paid nearly $17,000 to Lobair LLC between 2012 and 2014. Quoting media accounts, the group said Lobair is not a commercial charter service and had one plane owned by Mike Miller of Mike Miller Auto Park in Peoria.
     Miller, a Schock donor, could not be reached for comment.
From YouTube:

Physics girl explains why mirrors 'reverse' images vertically but not horizontally

Turns out mirrors don't reverse anything on the x or y axis, but on the z axis.

Nebraska's biggest paper adds a gay dad occasional poster to momaha blog

Nickolas Kramer got Iowa-married to spouse Jason Cadek in 2013 and have adopted a daughter, Alice. They are plaintiffs to the same-sex marriage suit brought by the ACLU.
     Nebraska's Attorney General, Don Peterson, with the blessing of Governor Pete Ricketts, is spending whatever it takes of your taxes to fight gay marriage every step of the way in Nebraska, even though it is already legal in 37 states and will soon be in every state surrounding Nebraska.
     Kramer's first blog post in the World-Herald made us well up with disgust with Peterson all over again:
     ...Now, imagine that the state you live in doesn't recognize your marriage, or your legal ties to your child. Pretend that the state you live in makes it difficult to get family health insurance, makes you carry an armload of papers to take your child to the doctor, makes you draft durable power-of-attorney documents every six months, excludes your child and spouse for social security and spousal benefits. As a same-sex family, these are just a few of the challenges we face every day.
     ...Because of the laws in Nebraska, my family is at a clear disadvantage. I am the only legal parent of our daughter. Since our marriage is not recognized, we are forbid from completing a second-parent adoption. In the eyes of the law, my husband is a stranger to his daughter. He is unable to make medical decisions, unless he is carrying power-of-attorney papers. We are unable to receive marriage related tax-breaks – don’t even get me started on how complicated it is to file taxes. We may not be able to receive spousal social security or surviving spouse retirement benefits. Without proof of power of attorney, we are unable to make medical decisions for each other in an emergency. The funny thing about all of these issues is that they could be solved with one strike of the judge's gavel.

Billy Eichner shows Conan how to use Grindr

Conan's preliminary Grindr ID, RichGinger, was quickly discarded in favor of Frecklefucker. We refuse to believe that Billy Eichner is actually gay, however.

IL Rep. Schock hires lawyers, PR firm; won't say who paid for luxe London trip while he skipped Congress

Politico is covering the gathering storm over not-gay Peoria, IL GOP Rep. Aaron Schock's unusual travel expenses, suspiciously high sale of his home to a GOP booster / Caterpillar executive and receipt of free decorating services to turn his office into a cheap replica of Downton Abbey's Red Room, though Schock denies ever seeing an episode of the hit show aired by PBS.
     Rep. Aaron Schock has hired two prominent Washington defense attorneys and a public relations firm to respond to the swirling controversy and a potential ethics probe over how he has financed his lavish lifestyle.
     ...POLITICO has repeatedly sought information regarding Schock’s trip in June 2011 to London. He stayed at Claridge’s, a five-star hotel where the least expensive rooms currently cost $500 per night. He also was scheduled to visit the city’s posh clothing stores and dined at Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace, according to the documents.      ... Schock’s office would not say whether he paid for it. If he personally covered the cost of the trip, Schock would not be required to disclose it.
     ...House rules require the Ethics Committee to sign off on any trip paid for by a private source, including charities such as the Prince of Wales Foundation, or a donor. The Prince of Wales Foundation has not responded to multiple requests for comment.
.     ..Schock has attended the Royal Ascot, a world-famous steeplechase, followed by drinks with then-U.S. Ambassador to England Louis Susman and his wife. He also was slated to visit Moss Bros. on Regent Street, one of the most famous men’s clothing stores in Europe, according to his schedule.      Schock also participated in a Patron Dinner at the posh members-only club Annabel’s and was invited to formal dinners at Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace.
     Schock missed two days of votes during the trip. is also taking note of Schock's escapades. There, Michael Winship ripped Schock apart over the Downton Abbey Red Room makeover of his office:
     You’ve heard about how his interior decorator pal, proprietor of a company called Euro Trash, redecorated Schock’s new Capitol Hill office in high “Downton Abbey” style – which is more than somewhat ironic because, as Josh Israel at ThinkProgress pointed out, “Schock has repeatedly voted against federal funding for public broadcasting, voting to defund National Public Radio and for a Paul Ryan budget that zeroed out all funds for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.” But even more important, Schock’s expensive tastes and how he spends money to make money for his party tells a sad story of the state of Congress and campaign fundraising.
     ...In truth, Schock’s office looks more like a cut-rate version of the infamous Red Room in 50 Shades of Grey than the height of inherited, entitled elegance.
     ...Come to think of it, Schock’ new office decor puts us more in mind of a bordello, if it was decorated by Pee Wee Herman. Which might be the more apt metaphor for Congress these days. Although the transfer of cash isn’t supposed to take place on the premises, members are doing very well with their outcall services, whether they’re Republicans or Democrats. As Ken Silverstein recently wrote at The Intercept, we now have “a political consensus that churns out business-friendly policies no matter which party is in power…

Michael Sam punks idiot TMZ reporter at LAX as BF Vito giggles in background

Sam tossed out a Game of Thrones reference and when it went over the reporter's head, he ran with it. The best part is watching his boyfriend Vito trying — and failing — to keep a straight face.

(Via Queerty)

Here's 'The Great' Bill O'Reilly on Fox and Friends telling a stone cold lie — busted by a phone call recording of O'Reilly himself

At the time he supposedly knocked on a Florida door, only to hear a CIA informant inside blow his brains out, O'Reilly was actually 1200 miles away, in Dallas. There are actual recordings of O'Reilly telling Gaeton Fonzi, a congressional investigator, that he planned to fly to Florida to report on the suicide:
     “Gaeton,” the caller says. “Bill O’Reilly.” Fonzi shares some details of the story, and O’Reilly tells him his travel plans. “I’m coming down there tomorrow,” he says. “I’m coming to Florida.”
     Fonzi tells him to get in contact when he arrives.
     “I’m going to take a night flight if I can,” O’Reilly says, “but I may have to go tomorrow morning.”
      O’Reilly’s utterances prove that he was not knocking on George Mohrenschildt’s doorstep as he now melodramatically claims.

Fare attacked gay Alaska cabbie with claw hammer, then robbed him, then took a nap, then claimed driver tried to rape him

Via Melissa Green of BentAlaska, who reported on the efforts of Fairbanks cabbies and the LGBT community to to raise funds for a cab driver savagely beaten by a robber, come the following details of the appalling attack, from the Fairbanks News Miner:
     Robert Charles Evans, 21 ... called a cab company in the early hours Thursday morning, calling for a particular cab driver, who was identified only by his initials in charging documents.
     The cab driver told Fairbanks police that Evans, sitting in the front seat, asked for a ride to the McGrath Road area but soon began to rub his leg and propositioned the driver for sex.
     The cab driver declined the invitation while driving but drove to his Front Street home about 5 a.m. where he and Evans had sex for more than an hour, documents stated
     Eventually, Evans told the man to close his eyes and began to reach for something, according to court documents
     At that point, everything “went bright,” and he felt Evans hit him in the head multiple times, according to charging documents.
     “He did hit me, I counted approximately eight times, with a hammer, using the claw side of the hammer,” the victim told Magistrate Nikole Schick at arraignments Friday afternoon.
     ...Evans admitted to police he beat the man and struck him with a hammer, but he claimed the cab driver was trying to rape him, according to charging documents...
     There's a lot more here...

GOP threat to slash Homeland Security funding?
Well, at least the party's good for something

It was a GOP president — Bush The Problem Child — who created the vast Homeland Security popup Bureaucracy in the first place.
     The bloated agency with the Naziesque name showers military hardware and cellphone spying equipment on local cops like Monte Hall gave away prizes on Let's Make a Deal, makes terrorist suspects out of birdwatchers if they happen to be snapping pictures of mutant Yellow Breasted Sapsuckers anywhere near Three Mile Island, and now protects Der Fatherland from sledding tots on Capitol Hill.
     The GOP created Homeland Security and its insane budget and the GOP can take it away (or sensibly reduce said funding) for all we care.
     Just don't give the money to the NSA or the CIA, please.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Downton Abbey: footman Thomas moves in on Andy

Looks like Evil Gay Footman Thomas, after rescuing Andy from the gambling hall debt with which the execrable Mrs. Denker saddled him, is about to tick off another item on his agenda.

American Family Assoc., a SPLC-designated hate group, publishes NE 'Anti-Christian Bigotry' map: on it, GLSEN, Lincoln & Omaha Atheists, Americans United

Right Wing Watch reports that the American Family Association of Tupelo, Mississippi has published a national map of groups it has unilaterally convicted of being guilty of "Anti-Christian Bigotry."
     The Southern Poverty Law Center has long classified the AFA itself as an antigay hate group (SPLC has its own hate map of Nebraska.)
     On AFA's hit list are Lincoln and Omaha Atheists, GLSEN (an antibullying, it-gets-better LGBT support group) and the apparently somnolent Nebraska Chapter of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
     Sadly, Agnostic, pro-gay rights AKSARBENT did not make the cut. We're bummed, but neither did One Iowa. We eagerly await next year's American Family Association list with hope and optimism.
     Below, a Rachel Maddow piece about the American Family Association.

We seriously doubt that Frank Sinatra would have approved this Super Bowl ad

But if Hollywood legends are any guide, the endowment reference was probably more true of Sinatra than Tom Brady.

(Via Queerty)

Sen. Ben Sasse must not realize there's a web site that saves his deleted tweets

Politwoops watches for deleted tweets from politicians and retweets any that are vanquished. Below is an inconvenient truth about Sasse — his claim that a trademarked NU character, Herbie Husker, had joined Team Sasse. Four days after Sasse posted the tweet, it simply disappeared — after users started criticizing him for politically exploiting the University's mascot. Poof! All gone!

Oscar-winning Citizen Four director is on Orwellian secret U.S. watch list; has been stopped at border 40 times

This Eurovision entry kicks it

JoeMyGod says 16 songs have been picked to date. This is the only one AKSARBENT really likes.

Monday, February 23, 2015


Glen Greenwald gave a post-Oscar interview to an unusually playful Chris Hayes after the Best Documentary win of Citizen Four, about the revelations of illegal and sweeping NSA surveillance of U.S. citizens, effectively hidden from Congress.
     At the end of his show, Hayes cheerfully bragged to Rachel Maddow how proud he was to have asked Greenwald who he wore to the Oscars. (Answer: Ralph Lifshitz Lauren, because American Airlines lost his tux.)

Greenwald on Buzzfeed's headline exaggeration of his annoyance at Neil Patrick Harris' "treason' joke:
"I hadn't heard the joke. I actually went off stage and people told me about it. I almost tweeted something light-hearted about it and decided it was just too inconsequential even to tweet about. I mean this is like a sitcom actor who had literally just been parading around in his underwear just moments before...
Later a Buzzfeed reporter pressed Greenwald again.
"I said, 'You're going to get me in trouble. I'm trying not to say anything about it... Since you asked, even though it was just a joke, I thought it was pretty irresponsible and stupid,' since Edward Snowden wasn't even charged with treason, let alone convicted of it. It's a pretty serious thing to accuse someone of that in front of a billion people."
Greenwald on the strange ambiance of the Academy Awards:
Greenwald: It's this disgusting ritual of extraordinary opulence and extravagance...
Greenwald: It is. At the same time, it was very surreal. You know, we began the report thinking that our source was going to prison, we were being threatened by the government, and so to be standing there in that setting and have that be one of the outcomes of what we did was definitely very bizarre. 

Former CBS correspondent responds to Bill O'Reilly's "Room Service Eric" slam

Eric Engberg says he did cover the Falklands demonstration in Buenos Aires, and that O'Reilly is nuts.

Astounding results of Omaha World-Herald's poll on gay marriage

This is quite astonishing, although the revelation is probably not that 90% of the readers of Nebraska's biggest paper support gay marriage but that people who read the Omaha World-Herald's content off dead trees don't vote in online polls. The screen cap below was made shortly before 3 p.m. today.

Marriage News Watch: Dubious, desperate actions to stall, stop marriage equality

Nebraska's AG is on board with this approach. We wonder how much he's spending to appeal and delay progress on marriage equality here in Nebraska. The other day he argued that a temporary injunction to stop Nebraska's gay marriage ban would cause "chaos" in the state. Below the Matt Baume video are extended pieces from KMTV and KETV (resourcefully sleuthed by Joe Jervis at JoeMyGod) following last Thursday's U.S. District Court hearing on the ACLU's Nebraska suit to get rid of the state's DOMA law.

More gay trolling from Omaha Live!

Season two kicked off with a not-very-funny excursion into the ditch of discomfited exploration of "bro" (a word we hate) insinuations. No homo, except in every subtextual implication. Meh. Subtle as a brick.

This excellent earlier piece was hilarious. Why? Because an undercurrent is funnier when a talented actor shows it without having it spelled out by a ham-fisted narration.

Here's another earlier piece with cheeky, good-natured tips of the hat to homoeroticism without any hetero condescension. We liked it.

Jon Oliver wonders why any judges are elected, with Alabama's Roy Moore exhibit A

We might add that judges should not be unelected either. There are better ways to get rid of addled or corrupt justices.

AMA's doubletalk about LGBT rights vs. its tolerance of rank bigotry

While reading yet another account of a bigoted doctor (Dr. Vesna Roi of  Eastlake Pediatrics in Roseville, Michigan) refusing care to LGBTs (in this case it was refusing care to the baby of a gay couple) we encountered this:
As it turns out, Roi has free choice too - the American Medical Association says physicians cannot refuse to care for patients based on sexual orientation, but doctors can refuse treatment if it's incompatible with their personal, religious or moral beliefs.
     Evidently the AMA wants to be perceived as supportive of the right of LGBTs to public accommodation, while behind the scenes its tolerance of bigoted physicians is so indulgent that it seems to allow outrageous discrimination against even infant children by its most reprehensibly prejudiced practitioners.
     Hippocrates' little hypocrites.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Nebraska Family Association mounts full-scale attack on LB586, bill to guarantee antibias job protections to LGBTs

NFA is also attacking LB648, a 2nd parent adoption bill because it would make things easier for gay couples whose children are legal strangers to at least one of their parents. Here are the radio attacks NFA is waging:

February 17: Joe Neuhaus — LB586
February 18: Joe Neuhaus — LB586
February 19: Joe Neuhaus — LB648

Of course they have a script:

“Hello, my name is [Full Name] and I am a [job title/occupation] with [employer/organization] in [city]. I am calling today as a constituent of Senator [Last Name] in opposition to LB586.
(Choose one or more of the following points)
  • In America, people should be free to live and work according to their beliefs.
  • Forcing Nebraskans to surrender their faith in order to keep their jobs or run a business is unconstitutional.
  • The government has no business telling Nebraskans how and when they can live out their faith.
  • LB586 demands that Nebraskans choose between two poison pills: comply and desert your faith, or resist and lose your job.
  • LB586 would allow unelected bureaucrats to decide what faith is, who the faithful are, and where and how faith may be lived out.
  • Similar Laws have been used across the country not as a shield against discrimination, but as a sword to punish business owners and people of faith.
I am asking Senator [Last Name] to vote no on LB586. How does Senator [Last Name] plan to vote on this important issue? Thank you for your time and for considering my request.”

AKSARBENT has a script too:

“Hello, my name is [Full Name] and I am a [job title/occupation] with [employer/organization] in [city]. I am calling today as a constituent of Senator [Last Name]. I would like you to introduce legislation terminating Christians, Muslims and other adherents of religion as a protected class in Nebraska statutes.
(Choose one or more of the following points)
  • In America, people should be free to live and work according to their non-beliefs.
  • Forcing Nebraskans to surrender their Atheist or Agnostic principles in order to keep their jobs or run a business is unconstitutional.
  • The government has no business telling Nebraskans how and when they can live out their non-beliefs.
  • Current law forcing Nebraska Atheists, Agnostics and LGBTs to hire pushy, evangelizing Christers makes them choose between two poison pills: comply and desert your non-belief in God and principles of discouraging discriminatory activism and hate speech in your business, or resist and face government sanctions.
  • Laws giving Christers special privileges allow unelected bureaucrats to dictate the behavior of nonbelievers and interfere with them following their consciences.
  • Similar Laws have been used across the country not as a shield against discrimination, but as a sword to Atheist and Agnostic business owners.
I am asking Senator [Last Name] to introduce legislation removing religion as a protected class with special privileges. How does Senator [Last Name] plan to act on this important issue? Thank you for your time and for considering my request.”

1959: Redcaps at Union Station in Omaha

Bob Fahey, at left, is now 86. Union Station became the Western Heritage Museum in 1975 and is now called the Durham Museum. Burlington Station, next door, will soon be the new home of KETV.

'Lenard Nemoy' interviews his personal bodybuilder friend about becoming chiseled

Season Two of Omaha Live premiered last night. We liked the breaking news satire and the computer matching service for not-gay bros, but they're not on YouTube yet, so watch this, which we overlooked:

NE AG Doug Peterson is VERY offended at being called a bigot stalling gay marriage on taxpayer's dime

Religious right winger and Agenda 21 conspiracy theorist nutbag Doug Peterson (Nebraska's new attorney general!) wants you to know that the push for gay marriage isn't really about the survivor of a male couple having to pay tens of thousands of dollars in inheritance taxes for stuff he had already paid for before his partner of 28 years died.
     It's not really about two gay women (one of whom has stage IV cancer) who are raising children and now have to worry about custody rights (and inheritance taxes) for the survivor, and about the very real threat that she might have to sell the house and move herself and the kids elsewhere.
     No, it's not about them at all! It's really all about Attorney General Doug Peterson's hurt feelings when he is called a homophobic bigot for stalling gay marriage in Nebraska and billing taxpayers for his recalcitrant religious agenda when 37 other states are already marrying gay couples or will shortly.
     From KETV's video, below:
I'm a little bit concerned in our society now that there is somewhat of an intolerance for those who kick gay families to the curb support traditional families. Being called narrow-minded. Being called bigoted. That's unfair.
Those readers who are wondering exactly how much Doug Peterson is spending to delay gay marriage in the Cornhusker State might do well to heed a recent tweet from the ACLU informing curious Nebraskans that they need only make a request under Nebraska’s public records law to find out. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Lied Center: Nice Work If You Can Get It

     Oh look, now AKSARBENT has decided it's a theater critic!
Lied Center website
     Though we grew up in Lincoln, we moved to Omaha as the Lied Center was being constructed and until last night had never stepped in the place. Shame on us for waiting until the 25th anniversary of Lincoln's performing arts center to pay our respects. The joint is well maintained, as you might guess from merely looking up at the sidewalk overhang at the entrance: 406 globe lights and not one was burnt out.
Intermission at Thursday's Lied
Center performance of
Nice Work If You Can Get It
     Inside, the main stage seats 2,192 in uncomfortably narrow seats but is otherwise a delightful venue. The temperature of the theater ranged from perfect to invigoratingly cool, just the way we like things.
      What we saw was a touring version of Nice Work If You Can Get It, a frothy concoction built around George and Ira Gershwin songs, which landed on Broadway in 2012 after several previous iterations under various names. We were told at the pre-performance talk that actual musicals featuring Gershwin songs from the early 19th century had plots too flimsy to amuse modern audiences.
     All we have to say to that is that the puffball book of Nice Work certainly amused to distraction Ms. Chucklehead in the row behind us as well as the rest of the audience, which seemed entirely too charmed by the flow of C-Minus sitcom-grade laugh lines delivered by a hammy troupe who seemed to regard the entire exercise as scenery-chewing camp.
     Regrettably, unlike drag queens and Frank "My leaves are turning" Sinatra, none of this crew seemed to knew how to make a campy line sound genuinely funny. It's possible, you know.
     A few things got us going: A drunk latching on to a chandelier when you aren't expecting her to swing from it is always hilarious. So was, to us, the line shouted in the general direction of the  bait shop / speakeasy, "This is the police. We have you surrounded. Except for the back door." We liked that a lot. So did the show's writer, evidently, as he milked the line again later, with "back window" replacing "back door."
Nice Work If You Can Get It number
from 2012 Tony Awards, via CBS
     A scene in which Mariah MacFarlane sang a lovely and beautifully-played rendition of Someone To Watch Over Me, while brandishing a rifle to protect her bootleg stash, was wickedly and  subversively funny, as was watching male lead Alex Enterline surf the bathing suit areas of the rest of the male cast members on his back as they rotated themselves like logs on the stage. THIS IS WHAT AKSARENT LOOKS FOR IN MUSICAL COMEDY!!! You can watch Kelli O'Hara do the former at 00:46 and Matthew Broderick do the latter at 3:05 at the 2012 Tony Awards Show here.
     But that was it for yours truly, if not the indulgent, tirelessly-fascinated audience, most of which gave the cast a standing ovation, even though the actors weren't up to the task of wringing deserving laughs out of a mediocre script. Or maybe they didn't try. (Why bother if an undemanding audience already thinks the jokes are hysterical?)
     The worst moment in the show was a titillating queer sop thrown to the audience when the judge, apropos of  nothing, suddenly announced his affection for the butler and kissed him on the mouth. This unexpected kink excited hundreds of thrill-seeking suburban heteros in the crowd and made AKSARBENT want to yell "Oh, go fuck yourselves" at the stage, but we're far too well behaved to say anything like that in public — only in the privacy of the Internet.
     What about the music? Well, who are we to bitch about George Gershwin? Even though we prefer orchestras, not six- or seven-piece bands, we understand the economic limitations of road companies and smallish venues.
     In any case the score's performance was expertly mixed to great effect, considering the paucity of musicians, and wonderfully arranged throughout, we thought. While we didn't give the production a standing ovation, we did saunter over to the edge of the small-ensemble pit and happily watched the musicians play as the audience filed out. We'd hire this group for any party and then ignore the guests.
     We also liked the substitution the cast made for taking a bow — a choreographed revisitation of "Fascinating Rhythm" staged so that each individual or small group got his, her or their due.
     Costumes: we liked the flapper dresses better than most of the jokes and we're not into women's clothing.
     Dancing/choreography: not as good as West Side Story, better than an Andy Williams special. (Our host, a theater queen aficionado, said the dancing was unusually energetic.)
     Aside: In the highlight video at the top of this post, of the touring company which performed in Lincoln last night, a male cast member makes the same amazing leap that made the Lied Center audience (and us) gasp.
     Verdict: worth the ticket price, and we saw it from one of the first five rows. (Thanks, L.V.!)

Thursday, February 19, 2015

1964: Leslie Goldstein, a.k.a. Gore, and the wrecking crew open one of the most legendary shows in rock history, and it was all free

If you were lucky enough to be a high school kid in Santa Monica in 1964, you could have scored free tickets to a show with the following performers (the Rolling Stones were last on the bill) backed by the hit-making "wrecking crew" of the best sidemen and women in the record industry. If you weren't in high school in Santa Monica in 1964 you can finally get the show on DVD but you gots to pay...

  • The Barbarians
  • The Beach Boys
  • Chuck Berry
  • James Brown and The Famous Flames
  • Marvin Gaye (with backing vocals by The Blossoms)
  • Gerry & the Pacemakers
  • Lesley Gore
  • Jan and Dean
  • Billy J. Kramer and The Dakotas
  • Smokey Robinson and The Miracles
  • The Rolling Stones
  • The Supremes
  • The house band, known collectively as The Wrecking Crew, was under the musical direction of Jack Nitzsche and included drummer Hal Blaine, electric bass player Jimmy Bond, guitarists Tommy Tedesco, Bill Aken, and Glen Campbell, upright bassist Lyle Ritz, and pianist Leon Russell, saxophonist Plas Johnson and others.

From Wikipedia:

     T.A.M.I. Show is a 1964 concert film released by American International Pictures. It includes performances by numerous popular rock and roll and R&B musicians from the United States and England. The concert was held at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium on October 28 and 29, 1964. Free tickets were distributed to local high school students. The acronym "T.A.M.I." was used inconsistently in the show's publicity to mean both "Teenage Awards Music International" and "Teen Age Music International".
     The best footage from each of the two concert dates was edited into the film, which was released on December 29, 1964. Jan and Dean emceed the event and performed its theme song, "Here They Come (From All Over the World)" written by Los Angeles composers P.F. Sloan and Steve Barri. Jack Nitzsche was the show's music director.
     The film was shot by director Steve Binder and his crew from The Steve Allen Show, using a precursor to High Definition television called "Electronovision" invented by the self-taught "electronics whiz," Bill Sargent. The film was the second of a handful of productions that used the system. By capturing more than 800 lines of resolution at 25 frame/s, the video could be converted to film via kinescope recording with sufficiently enhanced resolution to allow big-screen enlargement. It is considered one of the seminal events in the pioneering of music films, and more importantly, the later concept of music videos.
     T.A.M.I. Show is particularly well known for James Brown's performance, which features his legendary dance moves and explosive energy. In interviews, Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones has claimed that choosing to follow Brown & The Famous Flames was the biggest mistake of their careers, because no matter how well they performed, they could not top him. In a web-published interview, Binder takes credit for persuading the Stones to follow James Brown, and serve as the centerpiece for the grand finale where all the performers dance together onstage.
     The show also featured The Supremes during their reign as the most successful female recording group of the era. The band had three chart-topping singles from July 1964 to December 1964, with the album "Where Did Our Love Go" reaching number two. Diana Ross would go on to work with the director Steve Binder on several of her television specials, including her first solo television special and her famous Central Park concert, Live from New York Worldwide: For One and for All.
     Throughout the show, numerous go-go dancers performed in the background or beside the performers under the direction of choreographer David Winters. Among them were Teri Garr and Toni Basil. According to filmmaker John Landis, he and David Cassidy, both seventh grade classmates at the time, were in the audience for the show.
     In 2006, T.A.M.I. Show was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry. Dick Clark Productions later acquired ownership of the concert from Sargent.

A PFLAG China LGBT video gets 100,000,000+ views

Chinese, without the dubious heritage of a Judeo-Christian tradition, aren't an especially homophobic people, but there is overwhelming pressure for children to marry and produce at least 1 grandkid.
     More than 700 million migrant Chinese workers will return home this weekend to celebrate the start of Year of the Ram, beginning Thursday.
     If 3% of them are gay, that's 21 million sons and daughters with 42 million parental units. No wonder the video has become so widely seen.
    Here's part of the annotation for the English-translated version (with occasionally white-on-white subtitles) of the video produced by PFLAG China:
     For LGBT people who are not out to their families, going home for Chinese New Year is more of a torture, as they will have to face the #1 question being asked by family and relatives : where is your boy/girlfriend (of opposite sex)?
     This newly released video, produced by PFLAG China, sending a powerful message to both LGBT people and their families – coming out, going home. At the end of the video are some of the Rainbow Mamas from all over China, whom not only supported their own children (LGBT) but also give courage to others.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Here are all the NE state senators who backed the GOP's latest voter suppression attempt to the bitter end

Tea Party tool, Sen. Tyson Larson, and his LB111 Voter ID bill were bracketed today in a 25-15 vote after a filibuster led by Sen. Morfeld, who has helped quash similar attempts in the past, even before he became a state senator.
     Now that LB111 is dead for 2015, one assumes Tyson Larson can get back to running interference for the institutional torture of farm animals.
     Those who say Voter ID is a solution in search of a problem in Nebraska don't understand how the minds of senators supporting such legislation work. To them the "problem" is poor people who vote Democratic and it does have a solution: rigging the election process to silence them. The would-be perps, members of the Nebraska GOP (surprise!) are below.

Top row:
David Bloomfield, District 17, 402-471-2716,
Lydia Brasch, District 16, 402-471-2728,
Joni Craighead, District 6, 402-471-2714,
Laura Ebke, District 32, 402-471-2711,
Curt Friesen, District 34, 402-471-2630,
Middle row:
Tommy Garrett, District 3, 402-471-2627,
Michael Groene, District 42, 402-471-2729,
Dan Hughes, District 44, 402-471-2805,
Bill Kintner, District 2, 402-471-2613,
Tyson Larson, District 40, 402-471-2801,
Bottom Row
John Murante, District 49, 402-471-2725,
Ken Schilz, District 47, 402-471-2616,
David Schnoor, District 15, 402-471-2625,
John Stinner Sr., District 48, 402-471-2802,
Matt Williams, District 36, 402-471-2642,

Dashcam video shows Alabama cop slamming Indian grandfather to ground, paralyzing him

After injuring the 59-year-old man's spine, the brain-dead cops moved him around (real smart) and asked him if he was OK. Eric Sloan Parker has been fired from the Madison, AL police department and charged with 3rd degree assault.

Pussy Riot's first English release is 'I Can't Breathe'

If Putin were a smarter man than he is, he would lay off Pussy Riot — this song is a much stronger indictment of American police brutality than any of his lackeys at Russia Today have come up with.

The closet and the GOP didn't own Leslie Gore

Leslie Gore died Monday in Manhattan's NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital at age 68. The New York Times reported that Lois Sasson, her partner of 33 years, said the cause was lung cancer. (Gore didn't smoke.)
     Her first hit, in 1963 at 16, It's My Party and I'll Cry If I Want To, was Quincy Jone's first pop hit too. At 18, instead of touring, she went to Sarah Lawrence College and majored in English and American Literature. That and the British Invasion stalled her career.
    In 2005, she came out:
     Gore spoke publicly for the first time about her sexuality when she hosted several episodes for a PBS series called “In the Life,” a news magazine that highlighted gay and lesbian issues. She talked about her partner, Sasson.
     “I decided to host a couple of the ‘In the Life’ programs,” she told the New York Times in 2005. “And I did that really as a result of meeting a lot of young gay people in the Midwest who really had nothing to relate to. At least I felt this program is presenting them with some options.”
     “I saw what a difference a show like ‘In the Life’ can make to their lives in some of these small towns where, you know, there are probably two gay people in the whole damn town,” she added in an interview with After Ellen. “It’s made real inroads for them. They come and talk to me about this stuff, so I know how important it is.”


If you know who Leslie Gore is, you undoubtedly have heard her big hits It's My Party, Judy's Turn to Cry, You Don't Own Me, Sunshine, and Lollipops and Rainbows. But her range and intelligence as a singer weren't defined by those alone. Listen to what she brought to Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow, and Fools Rush In, below, and you'll more fully appreciate how talented and versatile a singer she really was.

Privacy: Visa, Mastercard to fight fraud by acquiring your fingerprints, voiceprints, facial features and tracking your cell phone

In Europe, where governments and citizens take a dimmer view of ever-escalating corporate intrusions on your personal privacy, credit cards have been smartened with embedded chips to reduce fraud.
     Here in the U.S., the credit card industry and merchants won't spend the money to upgrade cards and point-of-sale systems, which has resulted in wave after wave of data breaches affecting millions of credit (and debit) card holders. Now that they're finally addressing the problem, it is via methods that encroach further on your privacy.
     Visa wants to put a app on your smart phone that tracks you every second of your life, whether you're shopping or not, and CNET's editor-at-large, Tim Stevens, thinks that's fine. Here is his rationalization:
"I'm a little more concerned about having my credit card stolen than in Visa knowing where I am," he said. "When you think about it, whenever you use your Visa card they know exactly where you are and exactly when you were there."
     We think this attitude is appalling. When VISA and MasterCard refused to do for Americans what they did for Europeans, banks, stores and consumers paid the price in higher costs, higher prices, defensive credit monitoring and millions of hours of paperwork by Americans who surely had better things to do than pour over statements to separate fraudulent purchases from those they actually made.
     Now that the credit card industry has finally decided to do something, that something seems to be forcing consumers to make a rigged choice of facing an increasing risk of fraud-diminished credit ratings or the obliteration of more of their privacy.
     Here are some questions that CNET's Tim Stevens didn't ask and seemed to cavalierly dismiss, along with the spectacularly unconcerned CBS This Morning cohost, Gayle King:
  • How long will this tracking information be retained?
  • What if a divorce lawyer subpoenas it?
  • What if the government uses it as a weapon against journalists to see who's been exposing misconduct?
  • How long will it be before credit card companies demand your voiceprints, finger prints, facial features and insist that you install a tracking app on your cell phone as a condition for issuing you a credit card instead of cleaning up their act in ways that don't obliterate what's left of your privacy?
     Most large corporations already force you to relinquish the right to sue them — no matter how outrageous their behavior — in user agreements that legally compel you to settle disagreements via binding arbitration adjudicated by organizations they hire.
     Will this also exempt them from liability when their dossiers on your constant whereabouts, your face, your fingerprints and your voice inevitably fall into the hands of hackers, stalkers, or terrorists or combinations thereof?
     We wonder what Corporate America will think of next, but we're afraid to ask.

CBS's post-Valentine's Day profile of Dan Savage opens with Ann Landers, and their common desk

We've no doubt that Savage bought Lander's desk for sentimental reasons ("I wanted to keep it in the advice columnist business."), but the publicity he has got from the purchase almost makes one think it was a calculated move.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

National Organization for Marriage's unscrupulous Bryan Brown still flogging his lie about Catholic Charities

Bryan Brown debated a lackluster Susan of Lambda Legal about gay marriage last week on C-SPAN's Washington Journal and managed one outright lie and one outrageous deception in the same sentence when he implied that the State of Massachusetts shut down the Catholic Charities adoption agency because of same sex marriage. The truth, of course, is that the state told Catholic Charities that it couldn't discriminate against qualified gay couples in adoption with taxpayer funding, so the organization chose to close and leave children in the lurch. And the state's beef wasn't gay marriage but the state's inclusion of gays as a class protected from discrimination in 1989.
     The Mormons still run an adoption agency in Massachusetts — because they no longer discriminate with taxpayer money, but with their own. Host Juana Summers allowed Brown to get away with the same blatant, two-pronged falsehood that he has peddled dozens of times in televised interviews.
  From the C-SPAN transcript ("Charities" misspelling corrected), which only covered the first 1/3 of the show:
     39:43 [AKSARBENT transcript] Think about the reality that we now have religious organizations told that they can't place needy children for adoption simply because they, according to the dictates of their conscience, can't place children with same sex couples. That is a direct threat to religious liberty.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Video: hundreds in Topeka protest Gov. Brownback's cancellation of exec. order of LGBT job bias protection

Blistering editorial here
It seems that Gov. Brownback's fealty to Kansas' #1 GOP puppetmasters, the Koch Brothers, has made him the new Scott Walker. The mad-as-hell demonstrators who showed up on Valentine's Day weren't just LGBTs. Plenty were straight Kansans angry at Brownback's other policies. Said Planting Peace's Davis Hammet: "There's gonna be people out here every week. I mean, I already know next week there's children that are gonna come and occupy the Capitol, that's how bad things are getting."
     The governor whose executive order Brownback just rescinded isn't happy about it either. From the Kansas City Business Journal:
     Former Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius decried her successor's rescinding of employment protection for lesbian, gay and transgender state employees, calling it "distressing," the Lawrence Journal-World reports.
     Speaking Thursday evening at the Dole Institute in Lawrence, Sebelius said she had "no idea what problem he was trying to solve" in striking down an order she signed in 2007.
     From the Topeka Capitol-Journal:
     To Tom Witt, executive director of Equality Kansas, removing the protection not only threatens some employees’ livelihoods, but insults them and their work for the state.
     “(Brownback) told every one of them that is L, G, B or T, ‘I don’t value you,’” he said.
     Witt urged the crowd to continue protesting and to support HB 2323, which would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the state’s anti-discrimination laws. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. John Carmichael, D-Wichita, spoke during the rally about how Kansas and the United States have expanded equality over time to women, racial minorities, immigrants and people with disabilities.

Last minute Obamacare nag by POTUS is pretty funny

Obama is mastering social media/Internet the way FDR tackled radio. For you procrastinators, there are some reported glitches as of Saturday afternoon, but if you can't get signed up by Sunday's midnight deadline due to website or phone problems, you can get an extension.

Margo Howard's unstintingly frank eat, drink & remarry

AKSARBENT has a lot of admiration for someone willing to honestly expose her own mistakes — in the hope that others don't repeat them — and gracefully weather the inevitable ensuing snark, which we assume is more intense when that someone is a successful dispenser of advice column counsel.
     Margo Howard, who once ruthlessly mocked herself as the "Zsa Zsa Gabor of Lake Michigan," has written a fascinating (she seems to have met just about everybody), witty read about being a "rice-scarred" woman who was "always the bride, never the bridesmaid."
     One thing we didn't know was that while Howard's mom, "Ann Landers," was a celebrated career woman, that career did not begin until Margo was 15; she actually was raised by a stay-at-home mom.
     An excerpt (from which Michele Bachmann probably could have profited had it been written years ago, had Michele read it, and if Bachmann weren't fucking crazy):
Three previous proposals had been nonstarters and were certainly never taken seriously by me. One came from a Chicagoan in his late ‘thirties with whom I went out maybe half a dozen times. He was rumored to be gay and was a real fashion plate who loved to cha-cha. I was 18 (still in high school!)when the dancing fashion plate popped the question and I, of course, declined, recognizing that while I would have given him hetero cred, I did not need someone to pick out my clothes. And I also knew I was never going to marry anybody when I was 18.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Ford's Valentine to feminists

This is the car company's best viral advertising since the Fiesta Zombie ad. (We're not counting the notorious, unused Indian Ford bondage print ads.)

Jon Stewart: KS Gov. Sam Brownback clicked his heels 3 times and said 'There's no place like homophobia!'

In the show, Stewart makes a gaspingly funny suggestion about google-bombing a politician with the almost-there name "Brownback" the same way Dan Savage did it to another antigay politician named "Santorum."

Microwaves that heat food right the first time and binaural audio that makes anything else sound fake

Infrared sensors are now cheap and so are displays, so WHY NOT PUT BOTH IN A MICROWAVE, HUH?

If you have headphones or earbuds, listen up. Binaurally mic'd audio makes everything else sound fake.

Netflix: House of Cash

Netflix is no longer streaming Brokeback Mountain, but if you want a good cry without waiting for the mailman*, er "letter carrier," then peruse the chart below and remember Warren Buffet's advice: Powerball is a tax on stupidity.

*This reminds AKSARBENT of an amusing story told to us in a Compuserve (yeah we go back THAT far!) gay chatroom by a guy who said he was a postman, a claim we doubted, so we asked him the best and worst things about his job because we are the curious sort, we are.
     The worst: dogs. (Duh.)
     The best: When the mailman had to deliver something requiring a signature to a hung-over, but hot dude on a Saturday morning and the guy would stumble out of bed with nothing on, peek through the curtain, and think: "Aw, it's just the mailman," and open the door.
     We asked if he ever embarrassed himself in such situations by becoming visibly excited, and our digital correspondent said: "No, you can just shift your mailbag a little."
     That's when we decided he wasn't bullshitting us.