Thursday, December 29, 2016

Debbie Reynolds dead at 84, a day after death of daughter, Carrie Fischer

Debbie Reynolds, one of the last studio system stars, passed away yesterday following a stroke suffered while making funeral arrangements for her daughter, Carrie Fischer, who died Tuesday after a heart attack aboard a plane. Both mother and daughter became stars at 19, the former for her role in Singing in the Rain and the latter for hers in Star Wars.
     Reynolds was the first big star to raise money to fight AIDS, even before Elizabeth Taylor, at a time when virtually no celebrities wanted to be associated with the issue.
     Reynolds, born in El Paso, Texas, went to school on the MGM lot with Liz Taylor, who later broke up her marriage to singer Eddie Fischer after her husband, Mike Todd, died in a plane crash. From People:  As Reynolds later put it, Taylor “liked [Eddie] enough to take him without an invitation.”
     Taylor and Reynolds became friends again when each booked passage on a cruise without the other knowing.
     Reynold's second and third husbands (respectively, a gambler and an inept businessman) left her in financial ruin. At one point she kept up appearances (and contacts) by attending Beverly Hills parties while living in her car.
     She was discovered at 16:
     She had planned to be a gym teacher but at 16 won the Miss Burbank beauty contest doing an imitation of her idol Betty Hutton performing. Reynolds had entered for the free blouse and scarf promised each entrant.
     The contest judges — studio talent scouts — were so impressed with her naturalness that they flipped a coin to see who got to interview Reynolds first. Warner Bros. won, and she rode her bike to the screen test.
     In 1996, Reynolds received some of the best reviews of her career for her stint in Mother playing opposite Albert Brooks:
In her review, Janet Maslin wrote that Ms. Reynolds played the role “divinely,” and showed off “both acting expertise and apparent training at the International Mothers’ School for Passive-Aggressive Bedevilment of Children.”
     Here's Reynolds in Singing in the Rain and Tammy and the Bachelor (costars: a young Leslie Nielson and Fay Wray!) and at Victoria's Secret in Mother:

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Bill Moyers explains how Art Pope bought NC for the GOP

 You gotta hand it to the GOP. It will try anything. It ended voter pre-registration of 16- and 17-year-olds in the Tar Heel state by claiming that it exposed teenagers of that age group to pedophiles. Jesse Helms would have been so proud!

North Carolina: Battleground State from on Vimeo.

Monday, December 26, 2016

NE's drinking rate jumps as national rate levels

The number of Nebraskans who drink each month jumped nearly four percent — to 57.43 in 014-15 from 53.59 in 2008-9. The Washington Post says the national rate is virtually unchanged.
     AKSARBENT did a post about this subject in 2013:

NYT: opera about Florida 50s gay witch hunts among 2016's best classical efforts

From the gray lady, herself:
     “Fellow Travelers,” by the composer Gregory Spears and the librettist Greg Pierce, is the most romantic new opera I have seen in years. It’s also one of the most successfully political. Its premiere in June at Cincinnati Opera proved uncannily timely, coming days after the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando. The opera’s story, adapted from Thomas Mallon’s novel, follows the love affair of two federal government workers in the 1950s, under the shadow of the “Lavender Scare,” the gay witch hunt whipped up by Senator Joseph McCarthy. As one character notes, going to the wrong bar back then could lose a gay man his job. Today, more than half a century of presumed progress later, going to the wrong club could cost him his life.
     But what makes “Fellow Travelers” such a satisfying operatic experience is the old-fashioned combination of a swift-flowing and deft libretto and gorgeous music. Mr. Spears has the rare gift of artful plunder, knowing how to pluck stylistic elements from earlier centuries and weave them into a sleek and propulsive score that is accessible but unmistakably modern. With his light touch, Mr. Spears has created a tender study of innocence and the rewards and risks that lie on the other side of its destruction. [Read the review] — CORINNA da FONSECA-WOLLHEIM

USA Today: world-famous Red Army Choir aboard doomed plane

USA Today reports that 64 members of the world-famous Red Army Choir, also known as the Alexandrov Ensemble, were aboard the Russian Defense Ministry Tu-154 which crashed two minutes after taking off from Sochi for a military base in Syria for a New Year's Concert.
     The Russian Defense Ministry said all 92 passengers apparently died in the crash.
     Below: the Red Army Choir backing the Finnish group Leningrad Cowboys performing Sweet Home Alabama.

If you want a drink in Pottersville, you better be straight-acting, buddy

In A Wonderful Life, director Frank Capra went just about as far as 40s Hollywood censors would allow in explicitly depicting aggressive homophobia (directed toward wrongly-suspected heteros, of course). He associated it with the downward spiral of a community in the clutches of Big Money. Remind you of anything?
     Below, Drunk Jimmy Stewart admonishes his bud, "Clarence" (!) about making fairy-type references to wings "around here" but he didn't help his cause much by putting his arm around Clarence and asking him if he had anywhere to sleep, in front of an increasingly hostile and suspicious barkeep, who had alreadyreminded Clarence that "we don't need any characters around to give the joint atmosphere."

Capra reveled in the depiction of a broad pastiche of humanity in his pictures. (Nowdays America calls it diversity and includes black people.) Note the flamboyant, devil-may-care gay sailor in the bus scene of Capra's 30s smash, It Happened One Night at the 1:15 mark:

Read the complaint: first-ever EEOC ND lawsuit over harassment of gay worker filed against oil field services firm, Rocky Mountain Casing Co.

 Also: Gay life in the small towns and man camps of North Dakota's oil boom

Above: life can be grim for LGBT oil workers
in sparsely populated North Dakota
The complaint was filed over the outrageous treatment of Michael Allyn, a driver for Rocky Mountain Casing Co., the main office of which did not provide anyone willing to comment on the lawsuit to the Williston Herald:
     Multiple allegations about harassment by other employees and a supervisor are made in the suit, including claims that another employee attempted to sexually assault Allyn, that Allyn was called homophobic slurs by other employees, that he was given pornographic magazines, that his supervisor made offensive jokes about gay people and that his supervisor gave him a hat with the Spanish slang word for homosexual on it.
     "Employers must realize that harassing someone because of his or her perceived sexual orientation violates the law just as does other types of harassment based on sex, or harassment based on race, or harassment based on religion," Julianne Bowman, director for EEOC's Chicago District Office said in a news release. "This kind of abuse is unacceptable and illegal."
     The EEOC attempted to reach an agreement with the company before filing a lawsuit, according to court records, but was unable to do so.
Courtesy of Equality Case Files

Hat Tip: LGBTQ Nation

Jon Stewart salutes White House incoming with a repurposed anecdote!

You may also like:
Rufus Wainwright's extraordinary musical rendition of Shakespeare's 29th sonnet,
When in Disgrace with Fortune and Men's Eyes, performed at the Royal Shakespeare Company's extravaganza commemorating the 400th anniversary of the Bard's death.

An airplane was about to crash. There were four passengers on board, but only three parachutes. The first passenger said, "I am Steph Curry, the best NBA basketball player. The Warriors and my millions of fans need me, and I can't afford to die." So he took the first pack and left the plane.
     The second passenger, Donald Trump, said, "I am the newly-elected U.S. President, and I am the smartest President in American history, so my people don't want me to die." He took the second pack and jumped out of the plane.
     The third passenger, the Pope, said to the fourth passenger, a 10-year-old schoolboy, "My son, I am old and don't have many years left; you have more years ahead, so I will sacrifice my life and let you have the last parachute."
     The little boy said, "That's okay, Your Holiness — there's a parachute left for you. America's smartest President took my school bag.
                                                               —Via Margo Howard (@Margoandhow)

Sunday, December 25, 2016

If President Trump puts a stop to this before he's impeached, AKSARBENT won't bitch

From the YouTube description: Ambassador [Caroline] Kennedy and U.S. Mission Japan staff in Tokyo, Sapporo, Nagoya, Osaka, Fukuoka, and Naha got into the holiday spirit and showed off their dance moves. Check out our rendition of the "Koi Dance" (Love Dance) from one of the most popular TV shows in Japan this season.

David Sedaris reads his account of stint as fed-up department store elf

Nobody reads The Night Before Christmas like Whoopi Goldberg

Rufus Wainwright SANG a stunning rendition of Sonnet 29 at the Royal Shakespeare Company

They say that in Italy, the home of the sonnet, rhymes are easier, but Shakespeare made a good account of himself in When in Disgrace with Fortune and Men's Eyes, (#29) which gay performer/composer Rufus Wainwright set to music beautifully (Don't try setting a Shakespeare sonnet to music at home, boys and girls.) and performed in April at the Royal Shakespeare Company's 400th anniversary commemoration of the death of William Shakespeare.
The Sanders Portrait, said to be the only true
likeness of Shakespeare painted in his lifetime
     Dame Judy, Sir Ian, Prince Charles, Benedict Cumberbatch and other luminaries performed (yes, Prince Charles had a part in a skit), but we thought Wainwright's stunning performance of his ingenious melody was absolutely, positively, hands-down, the best thing in the show.
     Rufus's musician father, Loudon, now deceased, would must have been so very proud of his boy. You can see the whole thing on Great Performances (telecast two days ago on PBS) with Rufus's performance at about the 1:16:45 mark, but the karaoke version below, with the emphasis on Shakespeare's lines, is at least as affecting, if less majestic, without the backup singers and orchestra.
    It is Sonnet 20 that is almost universally acknowledged to have been addressed to a young man, but many critics think #29 was, too. If you're skeptical, AKSARBENT invites YOU to argue with Camille Paglia. We're way too chicken.
     Fortune and Men's Eyes, which took its name from this sonnet, was a shocking prison drama written in the late 60s by Canadian playwright John Herbert and produced off-Broadway in 1967, just before the greater on-Broadway success of Mart Crowley's The Boys In The Band.
     Dustin Hoffman workshopped Fortune and Men's Eyes at the Actor's Studio, with Jon Voight as Smitty, the character raped behind bars, and Don Johnson played the same role in the L.A. version, directed by Sal Mineo. In the film, Wendell Burton (who played Liza Minelli's boyfriend in The Sterile Cuckoo) was Smitty.

Friday, December 23, 2016

What's that song in the Dior J'Adore TV ad?

The mesmorizing soundtrack to the Christmas Dior J'Adore TV ad (below) is Woodkid's I Love You, (below below). You're welcome.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The best ad of 2016: Colgate's, aired during the Super Bowl

Most PSAs (or PSA-like) ads are run at 3 a.m., a farcical sop to the FCC's public interest imperative money-grubbing TV stations. Colgate's ad reached a huge audience, and it paid a lot of money to have it broadcast. Colgate should get a Clio for this.

Return of mountain lions to Black Hills is saving car insurers $630,000 per year

Mountain lions are top level predators, but they aren't the most dangerous animals in America. Deer are. They are vectors for disease. Plus, a peer-reviewed study claims your chances of hitting one are 1 in 170. If true, that means about 1.24 million collisions a year and nearly $5 billion in costs for car insurers. From a fascinating piece in Slate.
     When Gilbert and her team looked at mountain lion recolonization in the western part of South Dakota, they found that from 2005–2012, deer-vehicle collisions fell by 9 percent, resulting in $1.1 million in annual societal benefits for the citizens of western South Dakota... By avoiding an estimated 158 deer vehicle collisions annually, auto insurers are already saving roughly $630,000 a year in payouts in the Black Hills.
     ... Livestock owners in the East will have concerns about mountain lions eating their animals. Realistically, cougar depredation happens rarely: In 2010, only 1 of out every 200 cattle that died in the U.S. that year was killed by a mountain lion. However, that will be small comfort to livestock owners who lose their animals, so insurers could establish a fund to compensate livestock owners for their losses and to help them lessen the already small chance of attacks before they happen.
     Of course, some car insurance companies are indistinguishable from cougars.
Once, a woman backed into AKSARBENT's car.
     When we were "interviewed" by her insurance company, Nationwide, the questions were obviously designed to establish contributory negligence on our part. (There was none; we weren't even moving.)
     Nationwide made us a cheap ass offer which did not cover the damage. We subsequently discovered that the company does respond favorably to a firm communication from a good attorney. Below is the experience of a well-known jingle writer who has no more love for Nationwide than AKSARBENT does.

Cop warns speeding kid, then ties his tie for him

The Wisconsin college student was rushing to find a friend, because he didn't know how to tie his tie for an important school presentation. He got a warning, then the cop did it for him.
     WTF? There aren't tutorials on the Internet for how to do this? We think this scenario is already giving gay porn producers ideas.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

KMTV reveals Fremont/Costco switcheroo: chicken plant will be 44% larger

The old plan called for a 250,000 square foot plant, generating 232 million lbs of chicken shit.
     The new plant will be 360,000 square feet, requiring more water, sewer, electric and gas. New plans were submitted just days ago, and approved by the Fremont planning board yesterday. The Fremont City Council will take up the issue Tuesday, December 27th.

Happy 40th, Steadicam!

The first use of a Steadicam was a tracking shot in 1976's Bound For Glory. But because the second movie to feature a Steadicam, Rocky, made it to theaters first, that's when the public first saw a Steadicam scene — of Sylvester Stallone running up those steps in sweatpants.
     Nowdays, any schmuck can get a Steadicam Jr., for his cellphone. Don't ask AKSARBENT how it knows this, but we assure you: using any Steadicam effectively takes practice.
     Hint: if you don't balance a camera stabilization system right, it will always sway on you. That comes from being bottom-heavy from too much counterweight.
     How much is too much?
     Perform the drop test: before leveling the camera, grab the bottom of the stabilizer (i.e., Steadicam, GlideCam, etc.) and swing it up so that the camera/stabilizer are parallel, not perpendicular, to the ground. Then let go. If properly counterweighted, the stabilizer should take 1-2 seconds to drop. (Two seconds is better.) You're welcome.

What's behind NC GOP's Stalinist power grab? Panic over burgeoning Moral Monday movement

North Carolina voters protest GOP powergrab on Thursday outside
state's General Assembly. Photo via The Atlantic.
Mark Joseph Stern, in Slate, explained the shocking litany of sweeping last-minute changes made by GOP super­majorities in the North Carolina House and Senate after the defeat of GOP Governor and the defeat of a conservative North Carolina Supreme Court Justice.
     Below, the Rev. William J. Barber II, a Protestant minister, president of the North Carolina NAACP and founder of Moral Mondays, a grass-roots movement for racial and economic justice, explains why the GOP is panicking:
     This brazen power grab only confirms their fear of North Carolina's interracial nonpartisan Forward Together Moral Movement, better known as "Moral Monday." According to a December 5 analysis by Public Policy Polling, "The seeds of McCrory's defeat really were planted by the Moral Monday movement," which lowered the popular Republican governor's polls from 65 to 35 and gave McCrory "39 months in a row of an underwater approval rating." Moral Monday recently helped oust McCrory and elect Justice Morgan by a total of 345,000 votes.
     Though their current attempt to block the will of the people is morally wrong, the extremist supermajority's fear of the voters is well grounded. This past July, the US Court of Appeals for the 4th District ruled in North Carolina NAACP v. McCrory that the extremists in the General Assembly had "targeted African Americans with almost surgical precision," and overturned the state's 2013 voter suppression bill.
     Another coalition victory in federal court overturned the legislature's "racial gerrymander" in 28 districts, requiring new district lines and a special election in 2017; the US Supreme Court is reviewing that case now.

Hollywood Reporter's worst interview subject of 2016

The Hollywood Reporter interviewed 10 celebrities in their 90s. Only one interview was a trainwreck. The reporter, looking back, now thinks it was funny. So do we.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Guest Post: Columnist Margo Howard's farewell to Zsa Zsa Gabor

From Wikipedia: For eight years, Margo Howard (@Margoandhow on twitter) wrote the Dear Prudence column featured in Slate magazine. Dear Prudence also was featured on National Public Radio and syndicated in more than 200 newspapers. In February 2006, she left the Dear Prudence column, and began writing a Dear Margo column for Women on the Web ( and for Creators Syndicate. On May 11, 2013, Howard ended the Dear Margo column, announcing that she was retiring from writing on a deadline and saying, "I plan to write long-form pieces as the spirit moves me."
     Howard is the only child of Julius Lederer, founder of Budget Rent-A-Car, and
Eppie Lederer, better known as Ann Landers. Howard's aunt, referred to in the postscript, was better known as Dear Abby. Howard's newest book is Eat, Drink and Remarry.

     AKSARBENT reprints Howard's piece, below, with the permission of the author. The photos were added by AKSARBENT.

Gabor before and after her arrest for slapping a traffic cop.
She always maintained the temple, even in a mugshot.
     Zsa Zsa Gabor was a pistol. I had a long interview lunch with her, many years ago, in Chicago. It was in the early 70’s. We were at the fabled Pump Room at the Ambassador East Hotel. It was … memorable. I pulled out that column just to make sure I have my facts and her quotes right.

     This was my lede: “Husbands are so possessive. They always want to know who you’re dating.” At least, that had been  ZZ’s experience, which was one of the reasons she liked being single --  at that moment.  It afforded her so much more … freedom. “It’s hard, dollink, to be married.” And it was apparently hard not to be. She had been wed, in order of appearance, at that time, to “The Turk,” who was minister of Propaganda (one assumes inTurkey), Conrad Hilton ("He looked just like Daddy"), George Sanders, Herb Hutner, and Joshua Condon. (Her current husband, the phony prince, came many years later, and I think there were a few more before him.)

     She told me that when she came to Hollywood, as Miss Hungary, every man was after her. It would seem that most of them caught her. She said that her “good background showed,” and that she was very beautiful – which I do not doubt. What was doubtful, however, was her age. If you believed her stated age through the years, she would have been Miss Hungary when she was 6.

     She asked me if I knew she had dated JFK. I said I had not known, but what were her thoughts when he married Jackie? “Vell, dollink, she vent to ze highest bidder.” (We are getting into the pots and kettles department here, so let’s just finesse that one.) She told me that at the present time she had several “hot dates” and that Henry Kissinger was a “beau.” (The dueling accents must have been wonderful to hear.) “And then of course, there’s my big love for years, but his vife is so louzy about it!” She confided that it was Anthony Quayle.

     Lest you be misled, Zsa Zsa had other interests besides men. One was money. She had a line of cosmetics named for her which she said “did fantastic.” I asked why she and so many other movie people were in the cosmetic and perfume business. “Because it’s a license to steal, dollink.” And on one of her fingers was yet another source of income: a huge imitation diamond which she also endorses. “Dimonaire pays me 2% on all their sales for wearing their things. If you write a couple good words about them I’m sure they’d zend you one.”

     She did actually once make it to Broadway when she played the lead in “Forty Carats,” replacing Julie Harris, and played it in a few touring companies. She pooh-poohed the notion that she was playing herself. “Zome people say zat, but it’s not true. She’s a real estate broker with no jewelry or nothing.” She told me she was the highest paid stage actress in the world. I let that one ride. And just then the highest paid stage actress in the world was presented with the check. “Who’s going to take care of this?” she asked. I said of course the reporter pays.

     There was a postscript to this interview. When the column ran, she didn’t care for it, and made it known to my mother’s twin sister when she encountered her at a party in Beverly Hills some weeks later. “Vich vun are you, dollink – the vun vit the bitchy daughter what writes?” And my aunt, bless her, said, “No, I’m the one with the bitchy daughter who does other things.”
     So here’s to you, Double Z. You brought a lot of flash and glamour to the scene, and God knows, entertainment.

Hungarian actress, Zsa Zsa Gabor, dead at 99

Married nine times (first at 20, last at 70), sister to Eva, star of TV's Green Acres, and elder sister Magda, Zsa Zsa once recalled that after a fundraiser for Richard Nixon, the Secret Service left the gate to her Beverly Hills home ajar. Zsa Zsa was felled by a heart attack. Recent medical issues resulted in the amputation of one of her legs.

Mayor Jean Stothert's little-known sisters, Jan and Joan, show up at the wrong polling place

Also: Mayor Stothert tells KETV that LGBTs misunderstand her. Sure they do...

From @LiveFromOmaha:

Media killed political stars

According to Wikipedia, "the first music video shown on MTV was The Buggles' "Video Killed the Radio Star", originally only available to homes in New Jersey." Here's a repurposing of that from Omaha Live! chronicling the reality TV landscape than spawned the phenomenon of Donald Trump.

Fake news: The Onion's viciously funny 'expose' of Facebook as a CIA program

Thursday, December 15, 2016

10,000 comments at about Sprint's Midwest Outage

The electrical fire at Sprint's Omaha wireline switching facility, which affected 236 cell towers in Omaha alone, generated thousands of comments on The all-day outage affected QuickTrip (which uses Sprint to connect pumps to registers), some Target stores (using Sprint Point-of-Sale services which were unable to process debit and credit cards and coupons), as well as Virgin Mobile, Boost Mobile and Assurance (!) Wireless (a lifeline phone provider), all owned by Sprint, which is now controlled by a Japanese company.

Here's a jet plane with a 43-lb engine (!) and a 17-foot wingspan

The entire plane weighs 416 lbs and carries 860 lbs of pilot, fuel and gear. The engine is 10 inches by 30 inches. But it's a gas guzzler and will burn through the 30 gallons of fuel in an FLS Microjet in about an hour. From 21st Century Propulsion:
Czech company PBS Velká Bíteš, a.s., sells a small (2.5-foot x 10-inch nacelle), lightweight (43 pounds) TJ-100 turbojet that has been used in a variety of experimental aircraft. Like all turbojets, it isn't exactly stingy on fuel—burning over 30 gallons per hour—and it isn't exactly what you want for short takeoffs. Still, Bob Carlton of Desert Aerospace, who has worked on several PBS applications, says it's exciting: "Jet thrust is not the same as thrust from a prop. Prop thrust decreases with speed, jet thrust increases with speed. In car terms, a prop is like having only first gear (or first and second with constant speed). A jet is more like only having sixth.

Thanks, Homeland Security!

Here, apparently, is Homeland Security's contribution to a Nuclear Regulatory Agency analysis of upstream dam flooding and the integrity of the soon-to-be-shut-down Ft. Calhoun nuclear facility north of Omaha. Freedom!

Video: founders created Electoral College as a failsafe device, not a rubber stamp

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Can you see me now? Sprint sign gone at switch facility that caught fire, causing 6-state outage for Sprint, Boost and Virgin Mobile users

Sprint's Omaha wireline switching facility, cause of a 6-state, all-day outage
for Sprint, Virgin Mobile and Boost Mobile customers.
A 4:45 am electrical fire Tuesday at Sprint's Omaha wireline facility southeast of the Old Market ko'd a generator and power to half of the facility, and sent a contractor Sprint employee to the hospital with shock and burns. The building, which used to to bear a Sprint logo, is now unmarked. (The sign may have been removed before the accident.)
     The outage affected Sprint, Virgin Mobile and Boost customers in six states: Lincoln and Omaha areas in Nebraska, Western Iowa, the Dakotas, Minneapolis and Kansas City, Missouri. 911 service via Sprint was also down for the count for many customers. 236-250 of Sprint's cellular towers were affected.
     Target stores in Lincoln, Omaha, Minneapolis and elsewhere, which use Sprint systems for POS (point of sale) transactions, were unable to process coupons, debit and credit cards.
     KETV's weatherman complained on-air that he wasn't getting temperatures from many weather reporting stations, because of "the Sprint deal."
     Sprint is majority-owned by SoftBank, the Japanese group controlled by the billionaire Masayoshi Son.
     AKSARBENT drove by the facility at 7:00 pm and spotted a semi with a huge Cummins generator and workmen from Miller Electric leaving the building. By 7:30 Sprint, Virgin Mobile and Boost Mobile phones started working again.
     Virgin Mobile customers who call are getting refunds for the outage.
     Below: KMTV's coverage by Megan Hahn, an excellent exporter.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

BOOM! Alien attack on conservative W. Omaha begins

In the wee hours of the morning a large boom (or two!) was heard all over West Omaha, according to twitter (well, @MeanStreetsOMA, anyway. Click on the graphic below to embiggen for reading.).
     The startling noise was heard on Giles from 96th to 164th, L from 98th to 120th, Harrison from 108th to 180th, Q from 132nd to 156th, as well as on 80th & Blondo, 132nd & Center  and 90th & Dodge.
     Until Mallory Maddox tells us otherwise, we are assuming a retaliatory strike by an outraged universe on that part of Omaha most responsible for electing Donald Trump.
     AKSARBENT invites all readers who are either spoken to by God or in regular contact with space aliens to contact us for an explanation. You must, however, reach a consensus before bothering us. That is all.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Meet the Trump man gathering info for a purge of Energy Dept. scientists

Responsible news organizations are saying that it's "unclear" how the Trump administration will act on the information it is now gathering about scientists studying climate change at the Department of Energy. If you want to place any bets on this, bet on purge.
     Meet Thomas Pyle, who is directing the Trump administration's energy transition team, and how Mother Jones sums up his resume:
     Leading Trump's energy transition team is Tom Pyle, who is currently the president of the American Energy Alliance. Pyle was previously a policy analyst for former Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas) before becoming director of federal affairs for Koch Industries.
From the Washington Post:
     One question zeroed in on the issue of the “social cost of carbon,” a way of calculating the consequences of greenhouse gas emissions. The transition team asked for a list of department employees or contractors who attended interagency meetings, the dates of the meetings, and emails and other materials associated with them...
Click on questionnaire excerpt to enlarge and read
     The questionnaire also appeared to take aim at the national laboratories, which operate with a high degree of independence but are part of the Energy Department. The questionnaire asked for a list of the top 20 salaried employees of the labs, the labs’ peer-reviewed publications over the past three years, a list of their professional society memberships, affiliations, and the websites they maintain or contribute to “during work hours.” Researchers at national labs focus on a range of issues, including renewable-energy development and climate analysis...
     You can read the entire questionnaire here. Or peruse the excerpt, above.

     Bloomberg broke this story, but now WaPo (above and below), the NYT and NPR and others are covering it too.

29% of Trump voters don't think votes from California should count in election

Hmmm, now that the Roberts Supreme Court has weakened the voting rights act, maybe we can reinstitute literacy tests with a current events section to weed out certain voters.... And we're not talking about Californians or blacks, if you catch our drift.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Brady Bunch girl takes on 'faggot ass' detractor

Update: Olsen has been fired from her L.A. radio gig. 
Don't let the pigtails fool you. Susan Olsen (aka Cindy Brady) will take you down if you diss her favorite pig, Donald Trump, or her.
     Actor-producer-activist Leon Acord-Whiting ripped Olsen for her comments on LA Talk Radio where she has a show called “Two Chicks Talkin’ Politics,” and then on facebook, at which point Olsen emptied her spleen in his general direction with the quote above (Click to enlarge the picture if you can't read the quote.)
     Wonkette thinks Mr. and Mrs. Brady should have left Cindy behind when they visited the Grand Canyon.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Mayor Jean Stothert tells KETV she's been 'misunderstood' by LGBTs. Oh, please

Now that she's running for reelection, Jean Stothert has created a so-called LGBTQ "Advisory Board" and is working on an executive order (no details, of course) regarding them. Stothert supports antigay Gov. Ricketts, antigay Attorney General Doug Peterson and has towed the Nebraska GOP's party line of blocking every legitimate attempt by LGBTs to attain fair treatment in housing, employment and marriage. Below is a July, 2015 AKSARBENT post about Stothert's ongoing hostility toward LGBTs and her skill at camouflaging that animus:

Anti-gay Omaha mayor, a BS genius, claims SCOTUS marriage ruling "allows" city to offer health benefits to gay couples
Covergirl Jean Stothert
Now that the Supreme Court has forced her to, Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert will finally "sign an executive order Tuesday that will provide health benefits to the same-sex spouses of eligible full-time employees of the city," reports KETV.
     Stothert, who is a disinformation genius, said:
The Supreme Court decision allows the city to offer these benefits to all employees and their same-sex spouses without negotiating. I believe it is important to act quickly and appropriately following the Supreme Court decision.
     Translation: If I stall any longer, the city will be sued by married gay couples, so it's important to act quickly, now that my little con is up.
     The World-Herald put it this way:
     The City of Omaha will offer health insurance benefits to all married same-sex spouses of city employees after being one of the last local holdouts on the issue.
     Mayor Jean Stothert previously argued that city employees should bring up the issue during contract negotiations if they wanted such benefits.
     Translation: Even though my administration could have done this unilaterally, like La Vista, Bellevue, Douglas County, Sarpy County, OPS, Creighton, University of Nebraska, the VA Medical Center, Methodist Health System and Alegent/Creighton/CHI, and even though Blue Cross Blue Shield changed its definition of spouse to include same-sex couples last year after the DOMA/Windsor decision, it was more fun to me to ransom benefits for gay employees in exchange for other concessions in labor negotiations because that's how homophobic, divide-and-conquer GOP politicians roll!

Below: Mayor Stothert when she was a City Council member, opposing a gay rights ordinance in Omaha shortly before being outvoted.
     Hey kids! Here's how to rip off the Jean Stothert video below from AKSARBENT for your facebook page or blog: Just cut and paste the YouTube code below to your facebook page or website (no autoplay or ads):

Like this post? Share it via social media icons below.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Some restaurants ban violent racists.
Applebees protects them

From The Daily Beast:
     A Georgia firefighter was indicted Wednesday for allegedly spewing racial slurs and aiming a handgun at a black couple at an Applebee’s last year.
     The announcement came hours after The Daily Beast revealed initial misdemeanor charges against former Savannah fire captain Barry Arnold were quietly dropped.
Customers, former customers and never-to-be customers are treating the Savannah/Abercorn Applebees about as well as it treated two black customers on the restaurant's facebook page.

Oakland warehouse fire claimed Orange Light synthpop duo Introflirt. Keyboardist was a NE native

Lincoln native Nicole Renae Siegrist, 29, who went by the name Denalda, has been identified by Oakland, California authorities as one of the victims of that city's warehouse fire last week, which may have been caused by a refrigerator.
     She was the keyboard player for the synthpop group Introflirt.  Ben Runnels, the lead singer/guitarist, also died in the fire.
     From the AP:
     They named their last album "Temporary Heaven" to describe the fleeting nature of life and the moments of happiness when people feel completely comfortable with who they are, no matter how different from others they may be, said Brendan Dreaper, who helps operate Mixtape, the Oakland-based company that managed Introflirt.
     That's also the message the two friends would want the world to remember about their music, Dreaper said. They dubbed their sound "croonwave" and made it their mission to create a "soundtrack for the insecure," according to Mixtape.
     "You may feel like an outsider, but that's your advantage in life," Dreaper said. "They were completely comfortable with being themselves. I think they did achieve that. I know people connected to them. The music did that for them, as well. It made them feel happy about themselves."
Runnels, who played guitar and sang, was introverted but connected to people through his music, Dreaper said.
     Siegrist, who played the synthesizer, was an outgoing "free spirit" who used herself as a canvas, painting black streaks or bold marks on her face to contrast with outfits like a veil, halo of flowers and white dress.

Read more here:
     As a Lincoln resident, Segrist — who went by Denalda Nicole Renae — was a highly active and beloved member of its music scene, most recently performing as electronic project Vanfantom. She was also in the band Two Black Cats with Bryan Klopping, Amy Gordon and Sam Segrist, as well as The Heroic Little Band of Rebels with Travis Beck and Ian Egenberger.
     Our hearts go out to her family and friends, and to all those affected by the tragedy. If you would like to share thoughts on Nicole for publication, reach out to
Below, Introflirt's live performance of the chillingly-named Orange Light, from its album, Temporary Heaven:

Weather Channel terminates, with extreme prejudice and snark, Breitbart's anti-Global Warming agitprop

Hot weather girl atmospheric scientist Kait Parker torched the fake news site, now run by alt-right generalissimo and professional reactionary provocateur Steve Bannon, who is now Donald Trump's "chief strategist and a senior advisor."
     Bannon's Breitbart piece borrowed heavily from an article Britain's second-largest tabloid, The Daily Mail, a fine exemplar of either peerless journalism or breathtaking plagiarism, depending on your point of view.
     As she demolished the three pillars of Breitbart's argument, a dishonest and unscientific attempt to throw cold water on the Global Warming phenomenon, Parker noted: "Science doesn't care about your opinion."
     Would that Trump lemmings shared that indifference...

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Would overturning gay marriage make a mockery of SCOTUS stare decis policy?

There are a lot of wonderful writers who read the tea leaves of SCOTUS and explain their motives after the fact. We particularly like Nina Totenberg, NPR's goddess of legal exposition, Slate's Mark Joseph Stern, who is incisive, lively, a good writer, gay and who takes an adorable picture, and Dahlia Lithwick, also of Slate, who always leaves us civilians with a better understanding of the overlords jurisprudence. Now it seems that Slate has added another great explainer to its stable: Lara Bazelon
     Her recent piece explains John Robert's alleged concern about his legacy (which must have been vacationing in Bermuda when he participated in the overtly political SCOTUS decision (unsigned!) to stop the Florida recount in 2000, handing the White House to Bush the Stupid. (Sandra Day O'Connor has admitted she has buyer's remorse over signing on to that and now maintains that SCOTUS shouldn't have taken the case.)
     The court's reliance on precedence, we are told, is called stare decis, latin for "to stand by things decided."
     The Supreme Court, Bazelon informs us, has a policy about when it may chuck stare decis: 
     But if one relic can be overturned, why not others? It is a fair question. The short answer is that the court’s policy is not to deviate from stare decisis except under the most extraordinary circumstances. It is only permissible when the rule has proved unworkable or anachronistic, when so few people rely upon it that its disappearance will not cause a societal disruption, or when the facts have changed so dramatically “as to have robbed the old rule of significant application or justification.”
And how would a reversal of Obergefell, (the court's marriage decision, in which Roberts voted in the anti-gay marriage minority) comport with the above guidelines? Bazelon continues:
     The laws upholding the right to choose and the right to marry are not unworkable in practice and they are anything but anachronistic. Nor has there been a dramatic change in the underlying facts that robs the laws of their relevance or justification. The only reason to overturn these precedents is ideology: that is, a majority of justices who believe that abortion and gay marriage are morally wrong. Should Roberts allow the ideologues to have their way, the consequence will be a terrible disruption to the lives of millions of people who have come to rely on these constitutionally enshrined rights when making crucial life decisions. And the Roberts court would go down in history as having bankrupted the only branch left to stand by things decided.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Well, this looks like a lot of fun: La La Land

The critical buzz so far this season is loudest about two films: Jackie, the Natalie Portman tour de force examining Mrs. Kennedy's assassination ordeal and her canny concoction of a mythological JFk (she first used Camelot as a metaphor for her husband's presidency in a Life interview a week after he died) and La La Land, the giddy, gorgeous and dazzlingly romantic musical starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. Below is the trailer for the latter:

Guest post: How conservatives can address Climate Change

Above: wildfire in Chattanooga, TN, one of several which ravaged the Volunteer State
this week after the longest drought ever recorded in Tennessee.
The author, Frances Mendenhall, of Omaha, is a longtime Nebraska citizen activist and was a leader in opposing the siting of a nuclear waste dump in Morrill County, Nebraska, in the 1980s. Gov. Ben Nelson ultimately scuttled that plan, advanced by both Gov. Bob Kerrey and Gov. Kay Orr. Mendenhall is a member of Citizens' Climate Lobby. She emailed AKSARBENT the following piece today (in rich text format (.rtf) instead of .txt format. Ugh! Grr...)
George Shultz, Secretary of State under Reagan, offered President-elect Trump advice including an admonition to take climate change seriously. (OWH 11/20, p. 7B "Shultz to Trump: Remember your friends").
     "People who say the climate isn't changing are in the process of getting mugged by reality," said Shultz, referring to Trump's campaign claim that global warming is a hoax, promoted by the Chinese.  Shultz supports a revenue neutral carbon tax.
     President-elect Trump appears to have softened his campaign position on climate change, most recently promising to have an "open mind" about it (Trump begins backing off campaign vows on Clinton, Climate, Omaha World Herald 11/23).
     In 2009, Trump signed a public letter calling for cuts in America's greenhouse gas emissions, although most of his statements and tweets have not favored carbon mitigation.
     Military leaders are not waiting to get mugged by reality. Chuck Hagel and others now refer to climate change as a threat multiplier, and are incorporating plans for the increased extreme weather events, floods, droughts, and rising sea level.
     Other conservatives  are increasingly open to climate measures.
     Carlos Curbelo, a Republican congressman from the tip of Florida, formed the Bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus  last March. Curbello acted in response to the presence of sea water in the streets of his Miami. The caucus now has 20 members, 10 of whom are Republicans.
     The Gibson Resolution, introduced by Republican Chris Gibson, which acknowledged the need to address the human causes of climate change, was signed by 15 Republican members of Congress.
     Nonetheless, as reports from the climate conferences indicate, the U.S. is behind most of the rest of the world in reducing carbon emissions.
     Jerry Taylor, founder of the Libertarian Niskanen Center, believes that opposition of many to taking action on climate change is based on the belief that any action to reduce emissions will usher in a kind or regulatory nightmare that would be worse than any threat posed by climate change.  Taylor supports a revenue neutral carbon tax to reduce carbon emissions.
     My organization, Citizens Climate Lobby, has as its main goal, the passage of such legislation.We call it  Carbon Fee and Dividend. Citizens Climate Lobby has identified enough bipartisan support for this measure that they have set their goal to get the bill introduced and passed in 2017. No one imagines that it will be easy. Nonetheless, since the election, interest and support for the organization has spiked, with traffic to our website increasing eight fold, and participation in local events more than doubling.
     Here is how the measure works.
     A small but steadily increasing fee is placed on fossil fuels, i.e., coal, gas, and oil. All of the money collected is returned to American households.
     The result of a carbon fee will be a slow rise in the price of carbon based fuels. As a cigarette tax has reduced smoking, a price on carbon based fuels will reduce their use.
     Investors, utilities, and energy producers will have a predictable market signal that will allow them to make changes and increase profits. Some large companies, inclulding Exxon Mobil, have even begun to incorporate carbon pricing in their long-term plans.
     This solution bypasses regulations, subsidies, and big government.
     The winners and losers will be picked only by market forces.
     Economic modeling shows that It will stimulate the economy and create 2.8 million jobs in 20 years.
     It will incentivize needed technological progress, such as battery development, improved photovoltaics, biofuels to power aviation.
     Most households will bring in more income from the dividend than they have to pay out in additional direct and indirect costs of fuel.
     The air will be cleaner and health expenditures will drop. Our energy sources will be within our borders, and we will not risk going to war to protect them. Those who dream of getting off the grid, will be able to do it. We will move into a future independent of all the risks of mining, transporting, and storing fossil fuels.
     George Shultz regards cutting carbon emissions as a wise insurance policy. Even for those who question whether human activity is causing climate change, Carbon Fee and Dividend, with all its benefits, is, as Trump himself might say, a really good deal.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Hitler worries that Breitbart's boycott of Kellogs will fail

We add one to the memes that use a brief excerpt from Constantin Films' serious and well-made film about the last days of Hitler, entitled "Downfall." Unfortunately, Hitler's meth problem resulted in him misreading Breitbart honcho Steve Bannon's name as "Cannon." Sad!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Help wanted: U.S. cowboys. Must relocate to Russia

Above: a versatile Russian Lada automobile
transports a load of hay

Russia, which has lots of dairy cows but few others, is looking to beef up its livestock by jumpstarting its cattle operations by importing thousands of cows from America and elsewhere, thereby skipping a hundred years of U.S. breeding to make animals specifically for beef.
     By copying the structure of Western beef operations, Miratorg skipped more steps. Miratorg is single-handedly trying to create an American-style beef industry, but in a very condensed time period. It now has about 400,000 cows, the largest herd in the world. The company has had to build fences in a country without any, to train veterinarians, and to also import everything from horses and grass seed to tractors. But the hardest part of managing this immense operation is not the science or the planning.
     It’s finding workers. Cowboys.
     So the company imported some of them, too.
     One of them, Shawn Weekes, has been in Russia for two years. He’s a fourth-generation, Montana-born cowboy with a great, big mustache, Western boots, a hat, and a tucked in button up shirt. “I grew up doing this,” he said. “A rope was actually my first toy."
More at Newsworks... Or at NPR. Or the New York Times.

HuffPo: Trump pick Todd Ricketts has "a thin resume and a fat wallet"

Donald Trump's never-ending river of bullshit nearly overflowed its banks with his statement about picking the scion of billionaire TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts as his #2 pick at Commerce. The Ricketts family, you will recall, is the one Trump savaged in a tweet, warning them to heel as they "have a lot to hide." Here's what Trump released:
“Todd Ricketts is an immensely successful businessman with unparalleled knowledge of the finance industry." Also: Ricketts has “years of hands-on experience in the finance industry,” and “like President-elect Trump, Mr. Ricketts will use this knowledge to fix the broken Washington D.C. system.”
The Huffington Post looked into this specious praise:
According to his professional biography, Ricketts spent his “career as an entrepreneur and investor in the securities industry working at the New York City-based NASDAQ start-up, Knight Securities.” 
     But Ricketts only worked there for 14 months, a spokeswoman for the company told The Huffington Post, from September 1997 to November 1998. And as for Ricketts’ career as “an immensely successful businessman,” it appears to consist of a defunct eco-tourism venture and a local bike shop that Ricketts bought a few years ago to save it from going out of business.