Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Baby Groot! Faking the Rainbow! Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is nearly here!

 Drax: "Do me! Do me! Do me!"

Nebraska's beautiful new sesquicentennial stamp far surpasses the crummy one issued for its centennial

Each spring, about 600,000 Sandhill Cranes — 80% of that bird's population — converge on the
Platte River Valley in Nebraska. It's the greatest wildlife spectacle in North America and nature
lovers from all over the world come to see it.
The description below is from the US Postal Service, which decided that Johnny Carson would make the cut of famous Nebraskans but Dick Cavett wouldn't:
     A new stamp from the U.S. Postal Service® celebrates the 150th anniversary of Nebraska statehood. Nebraska was admitted to the union on March 1, 1867.
     The photograph on this stamp was taken on the banks of the Platte River as sandhill cranes flew low overhead at sunset. At the onset of spring, half a million of these ancient birds return to the river during their annual migration, a spectacle unique to Nebraska. After a day spent feeding in fields nearby, they are seen here scouting for sandbars that provide nighttime roosts safe from riverbank predators. Nebraska photographer Michael Forsberg took the photograph sometime around the year 2000.
     “Nebraska” is derived from the Otoe and Omaha peoples’ phrase meaning “flat water” and “flat river.” The description originally referred to the wide, shallow river that flows eastward into the Missouri River, which serves as Nebraska’s eastern boundary. On early maps, French explorers labeled the river “Platte,” also meaning “flat.”

     Territorial Nebraska was part of the Louisiana Purchase of 1803, the French land sale that nearly doubled U.S. territory. At the time, the territory of Nebraska included not only its present-day area but also portions of present-day Colorado, the Dakotas, Wyoming, and Montana. Enormous buffalo herds on the plains had provided generations of sustenance to the Native American Pawnee people and many other area tribes. Decades after Lewis and Clark explored the newly purchased territory, the U.S. government still considered the land virtually useless—ironic in that Nebraska is now one of the nation’s agricultural giants, particularly in the production of beef, corn, and beans. Nicknamed the Cornhusker State, the 37th state admitted to the union also ranks 37th in population with almost 1.9 million residents.
     Famous Nebraskans include former President Gerald Ford, born in Omaha but raised in Michigan, and three-time presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan, a populist who helped shape the modern Democratic Party. William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody mixed fact and myth in his thrilling Wild West show; his Scout’s Rest Ranch in North Platte is a state historical park. Other celebrated Nebraskans include show business icons Fred Astaire, Henry Fonda, Marlon Brando, and Johnny Carson. Willa Cather’s novels, including O Pioneers! and My Ántonia, masterfully capture Nebraska frontier life.
     Nebraska Statehood is being issued as a Forever® stamp. This Forever stamp will always be equal in value to the current First-Class Mail® one-ounce price.
The beautiful new stamp far outstrips the dull one issued to commemorate Nebraska's centennial. Among the criticisms in 1967 was that the cow pictured really did look like something from 1867.

Below: promotional video for NET's  documentary, Crane Song:

Slate's Aisha Harris: Hollywood really did get
Best Picture right this year

Moonlight is almost a miracle: no movie with a gay lead role has ever been named Best Picture, nor has any recent movie made for a paltry 1.5 million dollars, nor has any movie with black characters that wasn't about racism.
     Even so, Harris didn't pronounce Moonlight the movie of the year lightly; she did the homework that buttressed her case:
Moonlight holds a near-perfect 99 score on Metacritic (vs. La La Land’s still-impressive 93), and lands at No. 4 on the reviews-aggregation site’s all-time list, behind only The Godfather, Boyhood, and Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Red. It also topped the Village Voice’s critics poll for 2016, making this only the second time in the 21st century when the Oscars anointed the same best film of the year as the critics. And as the Wrap reported last week, Moonlight emerged with more of the top film awards throughout the season than any other movie.

Antigay CO cake decorator now in NE opposing LBGT antibias employment bill

John Oliver ridiculed Phillips's selective morality at the 10:00 mark here.
Jack Phillips, who ran afoul of the Colorado Civil Rights Commission for refusing to bake a gay couple's wedding cake, appealed to the state's Supreme Court, which refused to hear his appeal.
     Appeals judges did not agree that the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act forced Phillips to endorse any religious views by baking a wedding cake for an LGBT couple, finding instead that it only prohibits Phillips from discriminating against customers based on their sexual orientation.
     Phillips is now claiming, in neighboring Nebraska (opposing Sen. Adam Morfeld's LGBT employment antibias bill, LB173), that "The government's actions have forced me to lose 40 percent of my business," — presumably ignoring revulsion and subsequent avoidance by prospective and current customers on account of his attitude.
     Phillips added, during a Unicameral hearing in Lincoln this week, that the Colorado law he flouted, which bans discrimination in a public place on grounds of sexual orientation, is "similar"to LB173, which would prohibit discrimination in hiring solely on sexual orientation or gender identity in Nebraska.
    Below is Morfeld's introduction of LB586, his 2016 attempt to outlaw anti-LGBT employment discrimination in Nebraska.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Nebraska likes this Best Picture Oscar contender best

Hollywood Studios don’t disclose ticket sales by region, so the New York Times did the next best thing:
...looking at how many active Facebook users in a given county “liked” each of the nominees. Studios increasingly use Facebook as a home base for films, with photos, videos and news regularly fed to fans.
     The Times even published maps for each Best Picture nominee. To a Cornhusker, one map stuck out like a Bill Kintner tweet: the one for Manchester By The Sea. Ninety-one of the state's 93 counties liked this movie; it was more uniformly favored than any other film nominated for Best Picture.
     Only two counties were outliers: Banner and Scottsbluff, and we don't know what their deal is, although it should be noted that they didn't hate the film either.
     Why Manchester By The Sea has such a hold on the state, from Omaha to Alliance, baffles us. Do land-locked farmers fantasize about the seashore? Does Lionsgate have better distribution for its films here? Does the vanilla cast of the cast appeal to rednecks? Search us. Maybe Nebraska simply has better taste in films than in politicians.
     However Manchester puts asses into seats (as they say in showbiz) its ticketholders are in for an magnificent film experience (watch the fire scene, below this paragraph); should the movie lose the Best Picture trophy to LaLa Land, there will be a lot of slow simmering among critics and AKSARBENT be spitting nails right along with them.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Stunning new Panasonic GH5 video released

The GH2 became a cult camera because it was hacked and because it delivered video better than Canon and Nikon DSLRs costing three to five times as much. Now the Lumix GH5 is out, with broadcast quality 4k recorded to an internal card at 4:2:2. No $1000 external HDMI recorder needed. Why pay more? We're utterly enthralled by the direction Panasonic has taken in its newest cameras. For stills, we still reach for the Nikon, but when we want superb video, it's the Panasonic every time. And with 5-axis internal stabilization of the sensor, you probably won't need a Steadicam. If this sounds like an ad, we don't care. Panasonic doesn't need to pay us (and didn't) to drool over stuff this good.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Trump administration so divisive, it even managed to trigger infighting in fake White House West Wing cast!

Bradley Whitford played White House Deputy Chief of Staff Josh Lyman on the NBC television drama The West Wing, with Rob Lowe, who played Deputy White House Communications Director Sam Seaborn in the Josiah Bartlet administration.
     Lowe is a Trump fan. Whitford is not. Hence, the following twitter exchange:

Chew on this: Siberian Tigers joint animal Resistance, take down drone

Joffrey Ballet Gamechangers preview

Facing reelection, GOP Omaha mayor flipflops on LGBT employment rights; Stothert dragged feet on insurance for married gays

Above: Sen. Adam Morfeld, last year, during a lunch rally in support of
LB586, his equal opportunity LGBT employment bill, which was defeated.
He's trying again this year with LB173. You can listen to this year's press
conference on the website of the Nebraska Radio Network
Lincoln state senator Adam Morfeld has reintroduced his employment LGBT anti­discrimination measure (this year, it's called LB173) and held hearings yesterday.
     Omaha's mayor, who is up for reelection seems to have changed her tune, according to the Omaha World-Herald:
     In a letter to the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee, Stothert called the addition of sexual orientation and gender identity to protected categories under state law “important and necessary.”
     “I support LB 173 and the fair, uniform application of civil rights to all persons who live and work in the State of Nebraska,” she said.
     Omaha five years ago passed a similar ordinance to protect gay and transgender people from discrimination. But Stothert, then a member of the City Council, voted against it.
     Former State Sen. Heath Mello, who is challenging Stothert in this year’s race for Omaha mayor, issued a statement Wednesday hailing the bill and saying he doesn’t “wait until election years to support anti-discrimination measures.”
In 2012, Stothert adamantly opposed adding LGBTs as a protected class in Omaha employment to the city's charter:

     Only in 2015 did Stothert finally reverse her stance of refusing health insurance benefits to gay spouses of city employees.
     She had previously maintained that they should bring up the issue during contract negotiations.
     The World-Herald noted that she was one of the last local holdouts on the issue, finally following the lead of La Vista, Bellevue, Douglas County, Sarpy County, OPS, Creighton University, The University of Nebraska, the VA Medical Center, Methodist Health System and Alegent-Creighton/CHI.
     We suspect she was only worried about the city being sued in the aftermath of the Supreme Court's DOMA/Windsor decision.
     In the Unicameral yesterday, the usual suspects showed up to oppose LB173, including the Nebraska Catholic Conference and the Lincoln-based "Nebraska Family Alliance."
     Here's how the Catholic church torpedoed equal employment rights for LGBTs last session:

KETV, World-Herald burn Don Bacon over broken campaign promises to hold town halls

Many GOP lawmakers have stopped holding town halls altogether or are opting for pre-screened substitutes that shield them from angry constituents. In a recent editorial, the Omaha World-Herald bluntly opined, "Let the rabble rouse. There’s a chance proceedings will be disrupted."
     The paper didn't stop there; in a piece by Matthew Hansen, it explained how Don Bacon is stiff-arming unhappy voters:
     “So I commit that once elected that I will be doing town halls in every part of this district ... north Omaha, South Omaha, the west, Valley, Waterloo, Gretna, Papillion, you name it. We’re going to be accessible and available. You shouldn’t be just in your office.”
     Asked to explain that seeming contradiction on Tuesday, Bacon said he is doing in-person sessions at companies and civic groups around Omaha, as well as telephone Q&As. He defines these as town halls, and thus contends that he is living up to his promise to host town halls across the Omaha metro area, though he conceded that they wouldn’t be “total open invite.”

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Aftermath of a carjacking

It started as a home invasion and ended with a helicopter pursuit and a three-car crash on Ames right outside North High Magnet School. Click on photos to enlarge.
Correction: contrary to some early reports, the hijacking did not start as a home invasion, but as an assault in a Goodwill parking lot on Ames. KETV interviewed the victim here.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Publishers Weekly: Simon and Schuster spikes Milo Yiannopoulos book

From Publisher's Weekly:
     A brief statement released by the company read: “After careful consideration, Simon & Schuster and its Threshold Editions imprint have cancelled publication of Dangerous by Milo Yiannopoulos.”
     Dangerous had originally been set to be released in March, but last week Yiannopoulos posted on Facebook that he was delaying publication until June to include the events that took place at the University of California’s Berkeley campus when violent protests forced him to cancel an appearance.
     The Daily Mail says Yiannopoulos lost his "$250,000" book deal. (The $250,000 was an advance, according to The Hollywood Reporter.)

Hiding in plain sight: lost Walt Whitman novella discovered in Library of Congress digital archives

Walt Whitman at 35, from an
1854 steel engraving
A University of Houston grad student found it with his laptop.
     There on his screen, he saw a small ad in an 1852 newspaper. The ad promised "A Rich Revelation": A six-installment piece of fiction called "Life and Adventures of Jack Engle" was coming soon to the Sunday Dispatch, a three-penny weekly published in Manhattan...
     The novel is also being published, in book form, by the University of Iowa Press...
     "Jack Engle," the story of an orphan's adventures, can be classified as sentimentalism, Turpin said. The serial appeared "unsigned, practically unheralded and riddled with typographical errors" — and then, he said, "it sank like a stone." The story received little response. It was never reprinted or reviewed. And Whitman never mentioned it again...
     The discovery of new work by Whitman is a major find, said Stephen Enniss, director of the Harry Ransom Center, a massive arts and humanities archive at the University of Texas at Austin...

VA house sends antiLGBT freedom-to-discriminate bill to Dem Gov., who vows veto; here's every Rep. and Sen. who voted against LGBTs

From HRC:
     HB 2025 could allow taxpayer-funded organizations, like homeless shelters and adoption agencies, to refuse service to same-sex couples, transgender people, and anyone suspected of having intimate relationships outside of a heterosexual marriage (such as single mothers or a cohabiting straight couple) without losing taxpayer funding, contracts, licensing, or other forms of state recognition...
     “Let’s be clear, HB 2025 is nothing more than a thinly veiled legislative assault on LGBTQ Virginians and visitors to the state,” said HRC Senior Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs JoDee Winterhof. “The measure has nothing to do with the right to practice one’s religion -- which is already firmly protected in the U.S. Constitution -- and everything to do with enshrining taxpayer-funded discrimination against LGBTQ people into law. Just as we saw in North Carolina, HB 2025 would no doubt inflict profound harm on Virginia’s people, reputation, and economy. Governor McAuliffe must follow through on his promise to veto this repulsive proposal.”
Virginians: here are links to lists of every legislator who passed antiLGBT bill in the Senate. The House vote, when broken down by representative, will be linked to here.

In the mean time, here is a raw tabulation of today's antiLGBT House vote, without party affiliation information:

YEAS--Adams, Albo, Anderson, Austin, Bell, Richard P., Bell, Robert B., Bloxom, Byron, Campbell, Cline, Cole, Collins, Cox, Dudenhefer, Farrell, Freitas, Garrett, Gilbert, Greason, Habeeb, Head, Helsel, Hodges, Hugo, Ingram, Jones, Kilgore, Knight, Landes, LaRock, Leftwich, LeMunyon, Lingamfelter, Marshall, D.W., Marshall, R.G., Massie, Miller, Miyares, O'Bannon, O'Quinn, Orrock, Peace, Pillion, Pogge, Poindexter, Ransone, Robinson, Rush, Ware, Webert, Wilt, Wright, Yancey, Mr. Speaker--54.

NAYS--Aird, Bagby, Bell, John J., Bourne, Boysko, Bulova, Carr, Davis, Edmunds, Filler-Corn, Hayes, Heretick, Herring, Hester, Holcomb, Hope, James, Keam, Krizek, Levine, Lindsey, Lopez, McQuinn, Mullin, Murphy, Plum, Price, Rasoul, Sickles, Simon, Stolle, Sullivan, Torian, Toscano, Tyler, Villanueva, Watts, Yost--38.

John Oliver: We have no idea what Trump is talking about either, Sweden; also: Jessica Fletcher is a serial killer!

Safe bet: You won't see anything like this NZ bank ad from First National Omaha or TD Ameritrade anytime soon

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Adults-only Mac and Cheese

You won't believe, until you try it, that a dish with just four ingredients and this easy to make can taste so rich and full bodied!
  • 1 1/4 cups of elbow macaroni (it cooks fast and holds thin sauce better)
  • 2 oz. plain goat cheese (1/2 of a small log, or crumbled. It'll be melted, so who cares?)
  • 4 oz. of a dry, crisp white wine, like Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc or Unoaked Chardonnay
  • 16 medium, peeled shrimp, cut into quarters
While boiling the macaroni to desired firmness, melt the goat cheese in the wine in a small saucepan. Cook long enough to boil off the alcohol. When pasta is finished, pour it into a large bowl and thoroughly mix in the shrimp. Distribute contents to 2-4 serving bowls and add sauce. Eat with a spoon like the kid you used to be, as the thin sauce collects at the bottom.

That one time Dick Cavett walked off his own show but returned when audience chanted 'We Want Dick!'

There were warning rumblings from the Nebraska talk show host that he had had enough, like "This is the reason I didn't join a fraternity." His unruly guests, Peter Falk, John Cassavetes and Ben Gazzara denied it when Cavett asked if they were all smashed.
     Just before the host finally took a hike from his own set, he announced: "You've seen three guys fall down, right? Wanna see something else?"

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Bill Maher calls Milo Yiannopoulos an 'impish British fag'; Larry Wilmore twice tells him to go fuck himself

Milo Whachamacallit*, a professional insult-comic troller and alt-right dahlink now banned from Twitter, confronted the panel on Bill Maher and was told to fuck off, or variations thereof (bottom video) twice by Larry Wilmore and once by ex-spook Malcolm Nance, who replaced Intercept cofounder Jeremy Scahill, who refused to appear on Maher's show with Milos.
     We think Maher was being overly diplomatic when he referred to Milo as an "impish British fag (top video.)
We can't spell Yiannopoulos. Is it OK if we call him Tallulah Lunkhead?

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Trump's looming trade war could wreck the one bright spot in U.S. balance of payments: ag exports

Photo: StevanBaird via Flickr
Politico has a very illuminating piece on how Trump's looming trade war could claim as collateral damage the one bright spot in America's balance of trade: the huge trade surplus that farmers have been running since the 1960s. Last year it was $16 billion, and this year it is expected to be $21.5 billion. Contrast that with the $86 billion balance of trade deficit in manufactured goods.

The Trump administration has come out of the gate seemingly gearing up for a trade war -- withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, threatening to pull out of NAFTA and rattling relations with Mexican President Peña Nieto with talk of paying for a wall along the southern border by imposing taxes on imports. The goal is to restore U.S. manufacturing jobs in languishing industries like steel, and help the Rust Belt factory workers who turned out to vote Trump. But farmers and ranchers have a lot to lose, and they’re are starting to worry their entire industry will be collateral damage in Trump’s trade experiment.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Sorry, pedophiles. This Man Boy Scouts video probably isn't what you were expecting

The server ate Betsy Devos's homework!

It's Betsy Devos's first miracle! And it started when George Takei tweeted to his 2 moolsillion plus followers that her Dept. of Education removed web pages (She works fast, doesn't she?) that contained information on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (Many cherry-picking, for-profit charter schools hate the pesky law that costs them a lot of money, especially when informed parents insist on accommodations for special needs kids).

After that, tweet was retweeted FOURTEEN THOUSAND TIMES. and after THAT, people noticed that the information had MAGICALLY REAPPEARED somewhere else with a different web address — and a WRITTEN EXCUSE! (Click graphic below to enlarge it enough to read Devos's alibi, highlighted in yellow.

Friday, February 10, 2017

More Nebraskans identify as LGBT than in any surrounding state except one

Gallup's operations center, in Omaha.
Gallup's newest national LGBT survey, and why the polling giant thinks the percentage of people who self-identify as LGBT is increasing, here.

SD GOP killed ethics measure approved by voters; prevented them from passing it again

In November, South Dakota voters approved an anti-corruption referendum, Measure 22, intended to limit the influence of campaign cash and interloping lobbyists. The South Dakota GOP overturned the law with an "emergency clause."
     Voters won't be able to resurrect the referendum.
     Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R) claimed the initiative was the work of out of state "scam artists" and that voters were "hoodwinked."
     Pender, Nebraska Native Drey Samuelson, who was instrumental in the advancement of Measure 22, served as former senator Tim Johnson’s (D) chief of staff for 28 years and co-founded TakeItBack.org, the group that pushed the measure locally with backing from a Massachusetts organization, Represent.us.
     More from the Washington Post:
[State Rep. Larry] Rhoden said lawmakers are considering replacement ethics legislation and added there was no rush to do something: “We are pretty squeaky clean, and I can say that with a great deal of pride in South Dakota; the ethics among the people that serve the state in the legislature, I would call impeccable.”
    The nonpartisan Center for Public Integrity recently ranked South Dakota 47th in the nation for accountability, largely because of its lax lobbying laws. “Little to none of [state legislative and lobbyist interaction] is reported to the public in any detail,” the report said.
     The state has been wracked by two major ethics scandals in the past two years: Investigations into misuse of the federal green card program for wealthy immigrant investors and the theft by a private company of more than $1 million of federal grant money to help Native Americans get ready for college.
     As a grim aside, people implicated in both scandals either committed suicide or murder or both.