White Boy Wednesday


The leader of a North Carolina based group associated with the Ku Klux Klan says he is glad that a woman died while taking part in a protest in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend.

In the early 1900s, long after slaveholders in the South failed in their attempt to destroy the United States, there was a movement to rewrite the history of the Civil War, to change the national story about what had caused it, as well as the aborted aftermath historians call Reconstruction. This concerted effort involved the raising of statues to celebrate generals who fought to destroy what Lincoln called a nation dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Perhaps the greatest achievement of this movement to reframe the Confederacy and the aftermath of its defeat by the Union was the histrionic American movie “Birth of a Nation.” But the lie of the “noble cause” and the genteel South was spread throughout textbooks and memorialized by the names put on elementary schools, public parks and public roads. The movie and the various statues of traitorous soldiers served to justify the rise of both the Ku Klux Klan and the Jim Crow laws enshrining white privilege in both the North and the South.

Monuments speak to us across time. They tell stories in stone across generations. This is why the names of schools and the statues of the honored dead are worth fighting about. The lie of the noble cause is the history the American right wing seeks to preserve and protect and bring to our attention. This is the history behind the statue of Robert E. Lee now disgracing the liberal college town of Charlottesville, Va.


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Big Brother Tuesday


The Department of Justice has requested information on visitors to a website used to organize protests against President Trump, the Los Angeles-based Dreamhost said in a blog post published on Monday.

Dreamhost, a web hosting provider, said that it has been working with the Department of Justice for several months on the request, which believes goes too far under the Constitution.

DreamHost claimed that the complying with the request from the Justice Department would amount to handing over roughly 1.3 million visitor IP addresses to the government, in addition to contact information, email content and photos of thousands of visitors to the website, which was involved in organizing protests against Trump on Inauguration Day.
“That information could be used to identify any individuals who used this site to exercise and express political speech protected under the Constitution’s First Amendment,” DreamHost wrote in the blog post on Monday. “That should be enough to set alarm bells off in anyone’s mind.”


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Magma Monday


Gas the Humans!!

Scientists have uncovered the largest volcanic region on Earth – two kilometres below the surface of the vast ice sheet that covers west Antarctica.

The project, by Edinburgh University researchers, has revealed almost 100 volcanoes – with the highest as tall as the Eiger, which stands at almost 4,000 metres in Switzerland.

Geologists say this huge region is likely to dwarf that of east Africa’s volcanic ridge, currently rated the densest concentration of volcanoes in the world.

@ TG

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Eclipsicle Sunday

WEIRD WAYS TO OBSERVE THE ECLIPSE: During the Great American Solar Eclipse on Aug. 21, 2017, most of the USA will experience a partial eclipse. This means the bright surface of the sun will be only partially covered; the crescent shaped-part that sticks out from behind the Moon will be just as bright and blinding as ever. How do you observe such a thing? The answer many be found in your pantry:

“Try a water biscuit,” suggests Duncan Waldron of Brisbane, Australia. “Tiny holes in the cracker project very nice images of the crescent sun.”

Anything with tiny holes can be used to witness the eclipse. Other kitchen items that work are vegetable steamers and colanders (spaghetti strainers).

Or, just go outside and look at the ground. Beneath any leafy tree, you might be surprised to find hundreds of crescent-shaped sunbeams dappling the grass. Overlapping leaves create a myriad of natural little pinhole cameras, each one casting an image of the crescent-sun onto the ground beneath the canopy.

No trees? Try this trick: Criss-cross your fingers waffle-style and let the sun shine through the matrix of holes. You can cast crescent suns on sidewalks, driveways, friends, cats and dogs—you name it. This opens up a seldom-tapped well of possibilities for hand shadows, like the crescent-eyed turkey shown above.


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Psychopathic Saturday



It’s been quite some time since Americans—and citizens of other nations—had to worry about nuclear war during their daily lives. But it has taken just a few tweets and a couple of utterances from President Donald Trump to remind people that the planet can be turned into ashes by the act of one man. So perhaps Trump should be thanked for providing a sort of real-time public service announcement.

Yet Trump himself has no need for such a reminder. For decades, nuclear weapons—and the prospect of nuclear annihilation—have weighed upon his mind, as I pointed out several months ago. Unfortunately, the contradictory thoughts he has expressed on the subject—most notably that he would make a great nuclear arms negotiator and that nuclear war might indeed be inevitable—are not reassuring for anyone freaking out over the current Trump-generated tweet-crisis involving North Korea and its nuclear weapons program.

In a 1984 interview with the Washington Post, Trump, then merely a 38-year-old celebrity developer, shared his fantasies: He was hoping to build the “greatest hotel in the world” and construct the world’s “tallest” building in New York City—and one day become the United States’ chief negotiator with the Soviet Union for nuclear weapons. In between boasts of how rich and famous he was, Trump declared that he could negotiate a great nuclear arms deal with Moscow and said he wanted to head the US arms negotiating squad. “He says he has never acted on his nuclear concern,” the newspaper reported. “But he says that his good friend Roy Cohn, the flamboyant Republican lawyer, has told him this interview is a perfect time to start.”

David Corn @ MJ

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Teaching Thursday


Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse…

Just ask middle and high school students about their society’s basic institutions, courts, trial by jury, the law of wrongful injuries (tort law), or about their civil rights and liberties — and the duties that accompany these rights — and you’re likely to draw blank gazes. In 2006, a poll revealed that more high school students knew the names of the Three Stooges than the names of the three branches of government. Just last year after my address to the student assembly of a preparatory school, a small gathering of students who wanted to talk could not name their state’s governor, senators or representatives to Congress — notwithstanding the ballyhooed information source that is misnamed the “smartphone” in their hands.

The imbalance between the vocational emphasis in education and the civic experience is vast. Civics, as a topic, is not a standalone subject in most schools anymore. And where it is, the textbooks are so dry, dreary and self-censoring of controversial subjects that reading them is like reading a microwave oven manual.


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