Sunday, February 25, 2018

Nero's sunken city:
What happened in Baiae, stayed in Baiae

Surrounded by 24 volcanoes, the Roman resort was a never-ending party of debauchery. Varo, Caesar, Brutus, Cicero and Mark Anthony all had villas in Baiae. One featured a "home theater" that seated 1,400. Nero had two villas (he may have killed his aunt to get one), a barge rowed by male prostitutes, and the best banquets in town.
     From the promos for Nero's Sunken City, an episode of Secrets of the Dead:
     The mere mention of Baiae brought to mind scandal and could ruin your reputation. In one description we have by the writer Seneca, he's walking by the port of Baiae and he sees people staggering around, they're so drunk, there are parties going on at boats on the bay and the air is full of loud music. Varo, for example, says Baiae is the place where old men come to become young boys again and young boys come to become girls.



Thursday, February 22, 2018

NRA dumped by biggest private bank in USA

Today, First National Bank of Omaha announced (via Twitter) that it will sever its relationship with the NRA, via its FirstBank subsidiary, which issues the gun organization's credit cards.
     Sometimes privately-held corporations have a freer hand in acting decisively than do publicly-held firms. First National Omaha is the USA's biggest privately-held bank (assets: $19,000,000,000), and is is run by a 6th generation Lauritzen, Clark, who is in his early 40s.
     The bank has faced vociferous social media criticism in the last several days. Yesterday its NRA Visa sign-up website was taken offline.




Monday, February 19, 2018

Why do you let your congressman allow the NRA to hold the entire federal budget hostage in order to gag gun death research, year after year?

(Click to enlarge)
In 1993, a CDC study reported that residents in homes with a gun faced a 2.7-fold greater risk of homicide and a 4.8-fold greater risk of suicide.
     The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine noted that people living in those homes did not gain the protection they sought.
     The National Rifle Association found the study's conclusions inconvenient, so it moved to suppress their dissemination and got its errand boys and girls in Congress to cut CDC's funding by the amount the study had cost — to intimidate the CDC and researchers.
     But the NRA didn't stop there.
     It also had its congressional representatives add language to the Omnibus spending bill for 1997, directing that “none of the funds … at the [CDC] may be used to advocate or promote gun control.
     This was called the Dickey amendment after Jay Dickey, an Arkansas GOP congressman who introduced it. It has been included in every omnibus appropriations bill since 1997.
     In 2011, Republicans added a Dickey clause to appropriations to the National Institutes of Health funding for 2012.
Click to enlarge and sharpen
     Years later, Dickey (now deceased) had second thoughts. In a joint op-ed in the Washington Post with Mark Rosenberg, who worked on the CDC study which angered the NRA, the two wrote,  “Since the legislation passed in 1996, the United States has spent about $240 million a year on traffic safety research, but there has been almost no publicly funded research on firearm injuries. As a consequence, U.S. scientists cannot answer the most basic question: What works to prevent firearm injuries?”


Oh my. Young male gay Olympians have really lit Austin Ruse's twitter torch.

Porno Pete had better watch his back because Austin Ruse is on fire on twitter! He's been watching the Olympics and is so hot and bothered about gay skaters, skiers and their boyfriends we don't see how he can also manages C-FAM,
the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute, [which] is a member of the World Congress of Families, the coalition working with NOM and others to export anti-LGBT hatred to foreign counties. Back in April, the State Department appointed Ruse to its delegation to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.
     Lovely Austin's equally lovely wife, Cathy, types internet agitprop for the Family Research Council, where she is obsessed with the Girl Scouts, and not in a good way. She says they love Planned Parenthood, but in the last several years her machinations have made them pay more attention to her!

The real reason Adam Rippon backed out of his NBC deal

It's pretty simple. He wanted to enjoy the rest of the games in the Athlete's Village. But the IOC says you can be an athlete at PyeongChang or you can be a reporter, but you can't be both. People accredited as media have to stay out of the Athlete's Village. And competitors staying in the Athlete's Village can't get paid by media outlets to report or comment.This is not a new rule. Below is the edict.
     Media  capacity: Only  persons  accredited  as  media  may  act  as  journalists,  reporters  or  in  any  other related media capacity while they are at the Games.
     Accredited persons who are not accredited media can give interviews to the media but  are not allowed to report on the Games in any media capacity, including by acting on behalf of any media organisation. 
There are more rules, including specific restrictions on social media postings by athletes. Go here. Or here.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Is Trump's neglect of HIV/AIDs an imitation of Russia's?

Late last year Dan Harris, for ABC's Nightline, went to Russia to report, over two nights, the state of that country under Putin. On night two, Harris reported the shocking neglect of Russian authorities in the face of that country's exploding AIDS epidemic and official harassment of Russians trying to stem that tide. From the report, which starts at 2:17 in the video here:


Siberia, home to some of this country's poorest people:
     Here... we're about to see one of the darkest manifestations of the Putin presidency, the grim reality of perhaps the worst AIDS crisis in the developed world.
     ...The AIDS epidemic [fueled largely by heroin addiction] is growing at a frightening speed in Russia, left unchecked for too long, critics say, because Putin, who has wrapped himself in the aura of the Orthodox Church, has resisted addressing these issues. ...Putin's government has damaged efforts to address this crisis. While they do promote monogomy as a fix, they've rejected proven approaches  such as needle exchanges and free condoms, as "Western practices.
     ...In Russia AIDS volunteers face government harrassment and have been classified by Putin's government as foreign agents — in other words, spies.

Pence coyly accuses USA Today reporter of writing fake news with saying exactly what was fake


Though gay Olympic skater Adam Rippon's mom appears to be trying to finesse the situation, it has become apparent that her son refused to talk to Vice President Pence, who was reportedly angered by remarks made to USA Today Reporter Christine Brennan in January:
The spat between the vice president and the figure skater began when I asked Rippon last month about Pence’s selection for the ceremonial role of leading the U.S. delegation to the Olympic opening ceremony.
     “You mean Mike Pence, the same Mike Pence that funded gay conversion therapy? I’m not buying it,” Rippon said.
     ...He said he would prefer not to meet Pence during the traditional meet-and-greet between the official delegation and U.S. athletes in the hours leading to the opening ceremony.
     ..."Mike Pence doesn’t stand for anything that I really believe in."
     Pence's people denied that he tried to set up a conversation with the U.S. Olympic Committee and accused Christine Brennan of writing fake news, also denying what is presumed to be his approval of funding of so-called gay to straight conversion "therapy," now outlawed for minors in several jurisdictions. Typically, the slippery Pence's vague denial omitted exactly what he was denying.
     Here's how Brennan described Pence's and Rippon's actions to the PBS News Hour.
John Yang:
     You have been reporting on a controversy involving another of the U.S. men’s figure skaters, Adam Rippon, and Vice President Mike Pence. Tell us about that.
Christine Brennan:

     Back in mid-January, I actually interviewed Adam Rippon, who is one of the first openly guy athletes to compete in the Winter Olympic Games for the United States.
     And I talked to him about many things, including Mike Pence being the delegation leader for the U.S. at the opening ceremonies. And Adam Rippon said that — he goes, Mike Pence, the same Mike Pence who funded gay conversion therapy? He said, I’m not buying it, and was very critical of Pence and President Trump.
     And he has already said, as Lindsey Vonn has said as well, the skier, that they will not go to the White House after the Olympics to celebrate to the U.S. Olympic team. Pence’s office actually denied that Pence ever did want to fund gay conversion therapy, although there is interesting wording on his Web site from the year 2000 during a congressional campaign.
     Anyway, we put that in there. Within an hour, heard from the vice president’s office that he wanted to rebut and reply to Adam Rippon.
     Anyway, I have continued to report this story in the last couple of weeks. And my reporting from various sources includes the fact that Pence went so far as to want to have a conversation with Adam Rippon and work through U.S. Olympic Committee channels to try to have that happen.
     And Adam Rippon declined the request from the vice president.
Few LGBTs believe Pence was not in favor of funding conversion "therapy." Here's part of what David Badash, of the New Civil Rights Movement wrote for Raw Story:
     Conversion therapy, also known as reparative therapy, is a dangerous practice that supposedly turns gay people straight. It does not. In fact, every major medical organization has warned of the possible harms it can bring, which noting it is ineffective. It has also been linked to suicide. Judges have ruled it is “fraud.”
     Yet when running for re-election as a U.S. Congressman Mike Pence’s campaign website noted he supported funding the practice, which Pence now denies.
     “The widespread belief that Pence supports gay conversion therapy,” USA Today noted, “comes from a statement he made in 2000 on his congressional campaign website: ‘Resources should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.’ While he didn’t explicitly mention gay conversion therapy, leaders in the LGBT community have said they believe that’s what Pence meant in light of his long-standing opposition to gay rights.”

Monday, February 5, 2018

SNL's Pete Davidson tries to get San Francisco men to take off their pants for a Docker's ad

Last Saturday on SNL, Pete Davidson griped to Colin Jost about the trouble he had in San Francisco getting passersby to take off their pants for a Dockers promotion.
     Geez, we dunno, maybe it was his approach...
Does anyone here wanna take their pants off?
JESUS! NOBODY LIKES ME!
Hey! Sir! You look like you're packing. Would you like to take your pants off?
...[to an Asian guy] First we have to compare wangs. Is that Ok?





Tuesday, December 5, 2017

After Senate vote to slash estate taxes on wealthy Americans and cut deductions to middle class, a Nebraska Senator's office is vandalized

Above: Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE) attends a GOP Senate
fundraiser at luxury Breakers hotel in Palm Beach, Forida.
Following her vote for the Senate's GOP tax reform bill, the Lincoln Haymarket office of Senator Deb Fischer (R-Nebraska) was vandalized.
     Among other things, the bill Fischer voted for will cut corporate taxes to 20% and eliminate taxes on the estates of married couples valued up to almost $22 million.
     Fischer's, and the GOP's, gift to working Americans is the elimination of tax deductions for health insurance and state and local taxes. The GOP bill also makes the $4,050 personal exemption for taxpayers, their spouses and their children disappear.
     The GOP's Senate bill is expected to balloon the U.S. deficit by nearly $1.5 trillion over 10 years and trigger deep, automatic cuts to Medicare. No Democrat voted for it.
Photo: Nebraska Radio Network
     Sometime Sunday night or Monday morning, Senator Fischer's name on a building directory at 440 N 8th St. in Lincoln's gentrified Haymarket District was spray painted, as was the U.S. Senate Seal on the building.
     On a glass door, a vulgarity was written that Sgt. Randy Clark of the Lincoln Police Department would not divulge.
     On the sidewalk outside Fischer's office was written:
  • Never trust a land thief with your well-being
  • trickle down is a LIE
  • #resist, and
  • Tax Reform? Class War
     Fischer's office said local authorities and the U.S. Capitol Police are investigating.
     The reference to Senator Fischer as a land thief refers to her attempt, with her husband, to take possession of a valuable part of a neighbor's ranch through a legal maneuver called "adverse possession," which was a campaign issue when she was first elected to the Senate in 2012.


Saturday, December 2, 2017

The Sound of Music line that sends LGBTs into apoplectic paroxysms of laughter

This slightly edited excerpt makes sure everyone can spot the line, which was not overlooked in the 2006 Will and Grace Sound of Music parody. (Here, at 22:00)


Monday, November 27, 2017

Watch the new Tom Steyer "Need to Impeach" ad airing on Omaha TV

Steyer's website is here.


Osaka Mayor cancels sister city ties to San Francisco after it installs statue of "comfort women" forced to work in WWII Japanese brothels

Yoshimura
Sixty years ago, Japan's third-largest city, Osaka, and San Francisco became "sister cities."
     Friday, Osaka Mayor Hirofumi Yoshimura vowed to end the relationship after San Francisco officially designated as city property a statue memorializing WWII "comfort women" forced to work in Japanese brothels to service the country's soldiers.
     “Our relationship of trust was completely destroyed,” Yoshimura said, according to the Asahi Shimbun. “I will dissolve the sister-city relationship.”
     ...Despite attempts to block the installation of the statue from the Japanese Consulate in San Francisco and a concerted email campaign from Japanese nationals, the statue was erected in St. Mary's Square on Sept. 23.      ...At a news conference Friday, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that the San Francisco statue and others like it were “extremely regrettable” and that Japan would “continue making every effort so that things like this won’t happen again.”
     However, the activists behind San Francisco's statue have said that the response to its installation angered them. “I think it's a shame,” Julie Tang, a retired San Francisco Superior Court judge, told the San Francisco Chronicle on Friday. “They’re turning history on its head. Yoshimura is turning this into a geopolitical issue. It’s not. It’s a human rights issue. This is a global women’s issue to fight against sexual violence and using women as sex objects as a strategy of war.”
     The Japan Times reports that some politicians in the Osaka city assembly also were concerned that Yoshimura's actions could harm the city's reputation abroad, and petitioned him to find a solution through dialogue.
     Three Nebraska communities have sister city ties to two Japanese cities: Arapahoe and Hastings with Ozu and Omaha with Shizuoka.
     Nebraska's first international office, the Nebraska Center Japan, opened in Yokohoma in 2006 and is the main point of contact for Japanese businesses looking for business opportunities in Nebraska.
     It is led by Koji Nagasaka, who serves as executive director of the office. Nagasaka-san leads a team promoting Nebraska’s products and services and connects Nebraska businesses with Japanese companies.

What North Sea oil? Tiny Eigg, 7 miles off Scotland, runs on solar, wind & hydro power, says 60 Minutes


From the show:
None of these younger people would be here without the island's tiny, but unique power grid that runs almost entirely on renewable energy. A combination of wind, hydroelectric and solar, the first time it's ever been accomplished anywhere.
     Maggie Fyffe: That is the biggest and most impressive project that we've done.
     Steve Kroft: It's changed everything, right?
     Maggie Fyffe: Oh, yeah. It's made life so much easier.
     It was designed and funded with multiple grants mostly from the European Union and engineers from all over the world have come to study it. Like everything else on Eigg, it is run and maintained by revolving committees of islanders, the only visible sign of any sort of government.

Monday, November 20, 2017

7 reasons Neb. Public Service Commissioner Crystal Rhoades voted "no" on Keystone XL today

Source: Vice News
At today's meeting of the Nebraska Public Service Commission, the three members who ok'd TransCanada's eminent domain march through Nebraska to the BP-fouled Gulf of Mexico did not articulate a single reason for their approval of Keystone XL.
     Those members were Tim Schram of Gretna, Frank Landis of Lincoln and Rod Johnson of Sutton.
     Johnson had issued a toothless written admonition: he "sternly warned" TransCanada, according to the World-Herald, about its many promises, "including that the Keystone XL would be the safest pipeline in history, and that all farmland would be restored."
     “Nebraskans are counting on that,” he wrote, presumably with an unspoken threat that he would gum TransCanada to death if it misbehaves.
     TransCanada's recently-built Keystone 1 leaked 12-14 times in its first year depending on how you define "leak." Last week it poured 210,000 gallons of carcinogenic oil and associated solvents into a field in neighboring South Dakota.
     We use the word "oil" loosely. It's actually dilbit (diluted bitumen, or tar sands slurry) which is like liquid sandpaper on pipes. It has to be heated up to 160 degrees to flow, must be thinned by carcinogenic solvents like benzene and other stuff TransCanada won't disclose and it must be pressurized up to 1600 PSI. (Sweet crude from Saudi only needs about half that much pressure.)
     Because dilbit is technically not oil, TransCanada, nice company that it is, refuses to pay 9 cents per barrel into the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund.
     Unlike the men, the two women on Nebraska's Public Service Commission ixnayed TransCanada's application: Mary Ridder of Callaway and Crystal Rhoades of Omaha, the personal choice of former Public Service Commissioner pitbull Anne Boyle, whom Rhodes replaced on the commission in 2014.



     Rhoades, the only PSC member to comment at today's hearing, had plenty to say before she voted no. We have transcribed her remarks below. KMTV, Omaha's CBS affiliate, put the entire Public Service Commission meeting (eight minutes!) on Youtube. Said Crystal:
I'm going to be voting no on this application for the following reasons:
     1. The route violates the due process of landowners. There are at least 40 landowners along the approved route who may not even know that their land is in this pipeline's path. Since they may not know that they are in the path of the pipeline, they may not have participated in this proceeding and may not have had an opportunity to make a case before this commission.
     2. The federal and state agencies conducted studies of the proposed route, but the route that's being approved here today is a different route, quite simply. The mainline alternative route was not the focus of that intense study.
     3. While the routes have moved off of the official map of the Sandhills, both routes, both the preferred and the mainline alternative route still run through several miles of fragile soils that have a high probability of landslide and will be difficult to restore, once they are disturbed.
     4. The mainline alternative route crosses the Ogallala Aquifer in Nebraska.
     5. The applicant provided insufficient evidence to substantiate any positive economic impact in Nebraska for this project. No contracts have been entered into by Keystone or TransCanada with any Nebraska Labor Union or with any contractor. There was no evidence provided that any of the jobs created by the construction of this project would be given to Nebraska residents. The short-term increases in property taxes collected will not offset the losses to the overall value of the land through which this major oil pipeline runs. Further, the limitations in the orderly development and operations of the affected land will result in a loss of land value from the limitations. The Nebraska Department of Revenue could not conclude that this project would have a positive tax impact for Nebraska.
     6. The applicant admitted that it had not spoken with the Nebraska native tribes. The applicant reported, according to DOS that they had worked with the Southern Ponca Tribe, who reside in Oklahoma, not in Nebraska.
     [7.] And finally, another utility corridor exists that could feasibly and beneficially be used for this route. The applicant did not prove that twinning or co-locating the Keystone XL pipeline with the Keystone 1 pipeline in eastern Nebraska was not feasible and beneficial. Rather, Keystone stated it was not their preference to use that corridor. The applicants did not refute the landowners' argument that using the existing Keystone 1 corridor would avoid fragile soils, reduce impacts to endangered species and avoid widespread controversy and opposition to this project.
     For those reasons, I will be voting no.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

A second Omaha antiLGBT pastor gets busted in a sex scandal

Pastor Klint
Another of the 200+ Christian signatories (#120) to an expensive 2012 Omaha World-Herald ad opposing equal protection for Omaha LGBTs has been arrested in a sex scandal, for allegedly screwing a 15-year-old female sex trafficking victim. WOWT had this to say:
     Klint Bitter turned himself in at the Sarpy County Jail Tuesday. He's charged with first-degree sexual assault of a child. The 34-year-old allegedly answered an online ad posted by a sex trafficking suspect in Bellevue.
      Bitter was a pastor of kids and student ministry at Christ Community Church near 108th and Harney. Church officials said Bitter has been fired from that position.
Pastor Brad
     Mr. Bitter is now conjoined in infamy with Pastor Brad Hoefs, who was cited in May 1995 by Officer Not-THAT-Friendly, of the Omaha Police Dept., for exposing himself and masturbating, either in front of or next to two men by a parking lot at Lake Cunningham Park.
     Sadly this caused King of Kings (a West Omaha megachurch) to cut him loose him as pastor.
     However, he was cut considerably more slack by Community of Grace Lutheran Church in Elkhorn, which hired him and which is where he "pastors" now, despite having been cited AGAIN in 2002 in the same park for the same behavior, presumably by a different OPD undercover officer.
     (Dude! Look for cop shoes; undercover flatfoots often don't change them when they go homo-hunting for either entrapment or preserving the decorum of parks so that the little kids who frequent them at 3 a.m aren't traumatized by tableaus straight out of their dad's or uncles's or brother's gay porn.)
     After Grace declined to cashier Hoefs after Park Perv Pastor: The Sequel  he became a state-certified Intentional Peer Support Specialist (?) and was appointed by former Governor Heineman to serve on the State Advisory Committee on Mental Health Services.
     Here's what Brrrrradley had to say about the incident:
After experiencing a bipolar relapse in 2002 Brad knew it was time to start attending a support group since lack of knowledge about his disorder was at the core reason for his relapse.
     "Bipolar relapse" is one way of putting it. Bisexual relapse might be another, if bisexuality were a mental illness, WHICH IT IS NOT, OK? Also, why evoke Polar Bears, who have enough trouble, what with global warming and EPA dirtbag Scott Pruitt?
     Brrrradley has been married to his "high school sweetheart," Donna for 34 years. (AKSARBENT is not even going to ask what HER deal is, we'll just remind our long-suffering readers that her sporadically-devoted husband Hoefs was signatory 19 on the anti-LGBT-rights Heritage Coalition ad.)
     Bonus: Omaha's very own Death-to-Gays Pastor, Philip Kayser, also signed the ad (#183).




Thursday, October 26, 2017

Totally unacceptable behavior by Grandma's elegant Collie

A not-so-rough Collie who isn't the subject of this anecdote
My grandmother had a beautiful female Collie who I think could have bested Lassie in any dog show run by right-thinking judges, although "Lassie" was actally a laddie named Pal, making the dog TV's first transgender star.
     (Male dogs shed less in the summer than do females and look better on camera.)
     Anyway, every visitor to my grandmother's living room wanted to pet her striking dog and would call out to her. After a suitable delay, she would usually oblige and glide over to accept her tribute.
     But 30 to 60 seconds of stroking and patting would inevitably affect her stomach, causing her to look up at her admirer of the moment with what was assumed to be a beauteous dog gaze of gratitude and affection.
     It was nothing of the sort. She was simply (spoiler) straightening her esophagus.
     This was the moment at which I would start to giggle and grandma would bite her lower lip because we knew what was about to befall the guest: the reception of a loud belch.
     Alas, this was before digicams and viral videos, or YouTube would be sending AKSARBENT regular if measly checks.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Scandal's Tony Goldwyn tells Access Hollywood about his casting couch rodeo

Tony Goldwyn in 1990 smash, Ghost
Tony Goldwyn, a current star of ABC's Scandal, and the hot bad guy in Ghost, told Access Hollywood that a dude tried to wrangle him in a casting couch rodeo during his last year of acting school.
     Goldwyn's grandfather was the legendary Hollywood mogul Sam Goldwyn, the "G" in MGM.
     Below is New York Times film critic A. Scott Berg's description of Sam Goldwyn, from the author's 1989 biography:
     Goldwyn's short-lived marriage to Blanche Lasky, which would yield a shamefully neglected child named Ruth, ended acrimoniously in 1915, and Goldwyn, who had many affairs throughout his long life, became known as a ''chaser.'' A producer with a casting couch. The model for Ivor Llewellyn in P. G. Wodehouse's ''Luck of the Bodkins'' and Tepperman in Norman Mailer's ''Deer Park'' - two cases of bruised writers who had worked for Goldwyn getting their own back.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Desperate Cheeto:
Randy Rainbow repurposes Despacito

Despacito was the hit of the summer (4.2 BILLION views on Youtube.) Here, Randy borrows it for a wildly clever diss of Donald.



Bonus: a local Trump rip you probably haven't seen if you don't live in Omaha or Lincoln.



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Friday, October 20, 2017

Will & Grace's gay conversion camp kissoff was a potshot aimed at Mike Pence; guest star: Omaha's Andrew Rannells


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Thursday's Will & Grace, which slammed so-called conversion therapy camps run by right-wing Christian sects, slyly dissed homophobic VP Mike Pence and while doing so, snagged more viewers than any other scripted show of the week.
     Said Variety:
     Will & Grace was steady in its fourth week, ranking as the top-rated and most-watched scripted show of Thursday night according to Nielsen overnight data.
     Airing at 9 p.m. on NBC, “Will & Grace” averaged a 1.7 rating in adults 18-49 and 6.5 million total viewers.
     Glee coach Jane Lynch and Omaha's Andrew Rannells (who originated the role of Elder Price in Broadway's Book of Mormon) appeared as recently-married, allegedly straight counselors at Camp Straighten Arrow, where Rannell's character was challenged by interloper Will to a contest against his (nonexistent) Camp KickAMo. Both Lynch and Rannells are gay in life.



     The germ of the episode was planted by VP Mike Pence's support of discredited, ineffective and cruel conversion therapy programs which have been outlawed in several jurisdictions when minors are targeted. Via The Wrap:
     Series co-creators Max Mutchnick and David Kohan told TheWrap that their decision to introduce Skip — whose father is Jack’s son Elliot (Michael Angarano) — came about following Trump’s 2016 election win and in light of Pence’s link to so-called “gay-conversion therapy.”
      “It must have come from our interest in wanting to do an episode on conversion therapy because we were already into the presidency of the game show host that’s in the White House,” Mutchnick said. “We knew it was something that was on the minds of a lot of people because the vice president was a person that believed in the barbaric practice of conversion therapy. We don’t recognize it as a form of therapy — we only recognize it as a form of torture.”

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Maybe Jane Raybould should give that blogger who trolls Russia's most homophobic grocery chain one of B&R's old signs


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Attn: fruits -- a vintage B&R slur of LGBTs,
from its Lincoln store at 17th & Washington.
Democrat Jane Raybould is running against the execrable US Senate incumbent Deb Fischer (R-MitchMcConnell), who never met a homophobic Trump nominee she wouldn't rubber stamp.
     Raybould's campaign kickoff was at her family's Lincoln store that viciously mocked LGBTs with gratuitously nasty signage during Anita Bryant's Jihad against them.
     As far as we know, Raybould has never acknowledged or apologized for her family business's disgusting behavior.



Monday, October 9, 2017

Dutch mock America's 'NRAA' gun problem: Hi. I'm Mike. I haven't shot anyone in 6 years and 41 days


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And here's Nebraska's very own NRA gun moll, Senator Deb Fischer:

60 minutes: How Facebook's GOP employees showed Trump campaign how to snag rural votes



Last night's Lesley Stahl 60 Minutes interview with Kansan Brad Parscale was stunning. Any Democratic operative who didn't watch this on CBS or doesn't on the internet isn't doing their job.
     Facebook had GOP employees inside the Trump campaign showing it how to microtarget voters using Facebook's excruciatingly detailed dossiers on its users, right down to what color donate buttons should be for each user.
     Parscale claims Facebook offered Hillary Clinton the same help with its Democratic employees but Clinton turned them down. CBS verified Parscale's assertion with people from the Clinton campaign, who confirmed it.
Lesley Stahl: One of the best things Facebook did for you, I heard, was penetrate the rural vote. Is that correct?
Brad Parscale: Yeah. So Facebook now lets you get to places and places possibly that you would never go with TV ads. Now, I can find, you know, 15 people in the Florida Panhandle that I would never buy a TV commercial for. And, we took opportunities that I think the other side didn't.
Lesley Stahl: Like what?
Brad Parscale: Well, we had our-- their staff embedded inside our offices.
Lesley Stahl: What?
Brad Parscale: Yeah, Facebook employees would show up for work every day in our offices.
Lesley Stahl: Whoa, wait a minute. Facebook employees showed up at the Trump headquarters—
Brad Parscale: Google employees, and Twitter employees.
Lesley Stahl: They were embedded in your campaign?
Brad Parscale: I mean, like, they were there multiple days a week, three, four days a week, two days week, five days a week—
Lesley Stahl: What were they doing inside? I mean—
Brad Parscale: Helping teach us how to use their platform... Lesley Stahl: How do you know they weren't Trojan Horses?
...Brad Parscale: They already have groups of people in their political divisions that are Republican and Democrat.
...Lesley Stahl: Did Hillary's campaign have someone embedded—
Brad Parscale: I had heard that they didn't accept any of their offers.
People in the Clinton campaign confirmed that the offer was made and turned down.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The NRA death cult's Nebraska gun moll


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The video may take a few seconds to load. More details in AKSARBENT's previous post...


Saturday, September 30, 2017

New Deb Fischer bill makes it easy for felons, domestic abusers and the mentally ill to buy gun silencers; prohibits state, local control

On April 17, 2013, Senator Deb Fischer voted to help the NRA kill an amendment limiting the size of firearm magazines. On May 20, 2015, Omaha Police Officer Kerrie Orozco died at the hands of a gang member wielding a Glock 9mm pistal with a high capacity drum magazine (right).
     Now Fischer is at it again. one of 18 cosponsors of the Share Act and so-called Hearing Protection Act, NRA/gun manufacturer initiatives. The Hearing Protection Act (How laughable is that? Shooters can't wear ear muffs?) "amends the federal criminal code to preempt state or local laws that tax or regulate firearm silencers."
The SHARE Act would remove silencers from the National Firearms Act, and for the first time in more than 80 years, make it easy for anyone — including felons, domestic abusers and people with dangerous mental illnesses, like the gunman at Virginia Tech — to buy silencers without a background check, simply by finding an unlicensed seller. [Nearly all private gun sales are by unlicensed sellers.]
Jeff Twig, a survivor of the Virginia Tech massacre, is disturbed by what Senator Fischer and her Republican colleagues are doing. In a USA Today piece entitled Say no to gun silencer bill. I survived Virginia Tech because I heard shots he wrote:
     I was sitting in class at Virginia Tech when the gunman opened fire down the hallway. I remember the sound of the gunshots. Despite becoming accustomed to the loud masonry work around my classroom that semester, I knew that this was different. The loud and piercing sound of the gunfire let me know that something terrible was happening. My professor quickly braced himself against the door as my classmates and I opened windows from which to escape.
     It was a 19-foot drop from the windows to the ground. As the gunshots grew louder and louder, I knew it would be dangerous to jump, but even more dangerous to stay put. So I jumped. When I hit the ground, I broke both the tibia and fibula in my left leg. I got out, but 32 people were shot and killed that day, including my classmate and professor.
     Simply put: For me, hearing the sound of gunshots meant the difference between life and death. They were so loud and distinctive that my classmates and I knew to take action immediately. Law enforcement officers rely on the sound of gunfire, too. Police and first responders are expected to hear, locate and react quickly to gunshots.
     As a survivor of the Virginia Tech shooting, I know that gun lobby-backed legislation being pushed through Congress could make mass shootings even more deadly, and make it more difficult for law enforcement to do their jobs and  keep people safe.
     It’s worth mentioning that the Virginia Tech shooting was far from the only time that survivors heard gunshots and knew they had to react quickly. More recently, in Alexandria, Va., members of Congress were practicing for the congressional baseball game when a gunman opened fire. Those who were there said that they,  too, recognized the sound of gunshots, and knew to take cover in the dugout.
     Omaha's ShotSpotter system, already miserable as a tool for actually catching shooters, if you believe Forbes's stats, may be compromised if Fischer's bill making it easier for violent criminals to acquire silencers becomes law.
If a silencer is used or shots are fired into a car and the vehicle absorbs the acoustic energy of the blast, the sound may elude the sensors, said Ralph Clark, ShotSpotter’s chief executive.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

In Downsizing, Alexander Payne's first film since Nebraska, Matt Damon shrinks himself to 5"


Alexander Payne already has two Oscars (for his part in writing The Descendants, and Sideways) but we predict Downsizing will be his biggest box office hit. It's Sci-Fi, but fun and co-opts the current zeitgeist about the effect of global warming (Harvey and Irma) and what can be done about it, albeit in an outlandish way.
     Payne's crowd-pleasing feature opened the Venice Film Festival and Variety's valentine to the movie called it Honey I Shrunk The Kids for adults.
Damon's Omaha home in Downsizing
was this duplex at 4631 Douglas St.
     Downsizing is the fifth Payne feature to be at least partially filmed in Nebraska and the fourth to be filmed in his hometown, Omaha. Citizen Ruth, Election, and About Schmidt were mostly filmed here. 2013's Nebraska was nominated for 6 Oscars, but won none and only pulled in about $17 million at the box office. It was filmed in Allen, Battle Creek, Elgin, Hooper, Lincoln, Lyons, Madison, Norfolk, Osmond, Pierce, Plainview, Stanton, and Tilden but not Omaha.
     AKSARBENT's favorite Payne film remains About Schmidt, which we think has the best performance Jack Nicholson has ever committed to film.




Saturday, September 9, 2017

Junk science in Stanford's artificial intelligence gayface study that Newsweek, The Guardian,
The Economist
and Big Gay missed

Not very well, it can't, Newsweek. Take a class in statistics.
Stanford is about to publish an idiotic artificial intelligence gayface study that claims AI can identify people's sexual orientation by their photographs. (We didn't know Stanford's Graduate School of Business was so well-versed in sociological studies, did you?)
     GLAAD and HRC are, of course, apoplectic and have Issued A Press Release through Drew Anderson, GLAAD's "Rapid Response" czar.
     The press release ripped the study for being irresponsible, for being white-centric, for ignoring bi's, for getting pictures from dating sites, for not being peer reviewed, and blah blah blah.
     The Stanford Biz School Boy Wizards struck back, accusing HRC and GLADD of issuing a press release containing "poorly researched opinions of non-scientists" and of being irresponsible themselves ("I'm rubber, you're glue, whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you.") They also said their study was peer-reviewed though they didn't say by whom.
     We think the study is crap, although Newsweek, The Guardian and The Economist, among others, completely fell for it.
     Why do we think the study is crap? Because AKSARBENT published a post back in March about research on "gaydar" by the very smart University of Wisconsin at Madison Department of Psychology, that's why.
     The U. of WI busted, once and for all, ALL studies which test gaydar (we include robot gaydar) by using using test populations that are 1/2 gay and 1/2 straight.
     Guess what! The Stanford Study was a paired study!

     You'd think GLAAD and HRC would have grabbed on to this fundamental methodology flaw like junkyard dogs, but they completely missed it, as they were undoubtedly planning the menus for their next celebrity fundraising banquets.
     According to the U of WI Department of Psychology, the problem is this: since only 3-8% of the population is gay, any study which shows people (or, presumably, computers) two pictures and says pick the gay one, is bullshit. What a gaydar study (and we can't imagine anything less worth studying) should do is to show someone, or some thing, 100 people (or voices or whatever) and tell them to pick out the 3-8 gay wads.
     After all, even flipping a coin gives you a success rate of 50% if there are only 2 choices.
     William Cox, Assistant Scientist, Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, (Go Badgers!) wrote the article about debunking the myth of gaydar (and poorly designed gaydar studies), with help from two other Wisconsin psych profs and a graduate student in psychology (Alyssa Bischmann) from THE UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA! (Yay! Go Big Red!) We excerpt:
     But as we’ve been able to show in two recent papers, all of these previous studies fall prey to a mathematical error that, when corrected, actually leads to the opposite conclusion: Most of the time, gaydar will be highly inaccurate.
     How can this be, if people in these studies are accurate at rates significantly higher than 50 percent?
      There’s a problem in the basic premise of these studies: Namely, having a pool of people in which 50 percent of the targets are gay. In the real world, only around 3 to 8 percent of adults identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual.
     What does this mean for interpreting the 60 percent accuracy rate? Think about what the 60 percent accuracy means for the straight targets in these studies. If people have 60 percent accuracy in identifying who is straight, it means that 40 percent of the time, straight people are incorrectly categorized. In a world where 95 percent of people are straight, 60 percent accuracy means that for every 100 people, there will be 38 straight people incorrectly assumed to be gay, but only three gay people correctly categorized.
     Therefore, the 60 percent accuracy in the lab studies translates to 93 percent inaccuracy for identifying who is gay in the real world (38 / [38 + 3] = 92.7 percent). Even when people seem gay – and set off all the alarms on your gaydar – it’s far more likely that they’re straight. More straight people will seem to be gay than there are actual gay people in total.
     Guess what AKSARBENT did, kids? We applied the above example to the Stanford AI research and found a real world inaccuracy rate of 71% and 68% in spotting gay women. The Stanford study used photos of 35,000 people. We assumed 17,500 (half) were women, but a variance wouldn't change the inaccuracy percentage. We also chose 5% (between 3-8%) as the real world percentage of gay women. We didn't take into account bisexuals, but then, neither did the Stanford Business School tabulators. We're not statisticians, so let us know if our arithmetic is off, but really, it's pretty simple.
      As for men, you can do that exercise yourself, Dear Reader. Click the table below to enlarge.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

1971: Dick Cavett asks Kirk Douglas, "Are you as big as you want to be?"

As guests went, Kirk Douglas was maybe a five, but Cavett was hilarious, starting with a good monologue. Early in the interview, Douglas snapped AKSARBENT's attention to attention with a promising anecdote about picking up a hitchhiking sailor, which, regrettably, did not have the kind of happy ending we like to hear about.
     Later, Douglas got Cavett to take off his tie and loosen his collar, unleashing the host's inner exhibitionist and causing him to unbutton his shirt to his stomach; he went no further as it became evident that Douglas would not go further, even when Cavett playfully accused Douglas of being afraid of exposing another dimple.
     Douglas's beard hid his chin, but only accentuated his cheek-bones, and the star never looked hotter than when he flashed carnivorous smiles and eye glints to the camera.
     The business about "Are you as big as you want to be?" was about Douglas's height (5'11'') and the relative presence of actors in life versus on the screen. Cavett was trolling, of course and Douglas bit with a take of mock horror.




Cavett's 1971 monologue:
     Dick introduced himself as Kirk Douglas, then claimed he elicited heavy squinting or heavy *something* in the balcony. Then he admitted that he wasn't Kirk Douglas because how could there be a talk show host named Douglas? (Mike; google it kids.)
     He noted that Sterling Moss, the racing driver, had his license suspended over a traffic violation, which he claimed was like someone taking Van Cliburn's piano, or Bob Rosengarden's (his bandleader) frisbee.
     He related that New York's Commissioner of Public Health had declared all beaches safe; it was the ocean that was polluted.
     He added that New York's lifeguards were not currently on strike, but told the audience that if they started to drown and a lifeguard swam up to rescue them and asked if they supported labor or management, that they should know what to say.
     He also told a sexist joke about how one of his secretaries was quitting because she was made to feel like a dummy and that she said her notice would be effective the end of June or the first of July, whichever came first.
     Sexist joke #2 was his note that the PlayTex company had hired a PR firm to oppose the no-bra look. Cavett suggested a slogan: "Support our girls at the front."

Friday, August 25, 2017

Jane Raybould kicks off Senate campaign at family store that viciously mocked LGBTs 40 years ago

In June of 1977, Miami voters, led by singer and former Miss Oklahoma Anita Bryant, repealed the city's gay antidiscrimination ordinance, prompting a nationwide boycott of Florida citrus and Bryant's subsequent dismissal as the Florida Citrus Commission's commercial spokesman.
     At the time, Senate candidate Jane Raybould's father owned Russ's Market, at 17th & Washington in Lincoln, which was then called B&R IGA. That's where, tomorrow, she will kick off her Senate campaign to unseat Deb Fischer. (The "R" in B&R stands for Russ.)
     AKSARBENT lived in Lincoln then, and was appalled at the Raybould store's nasty, publicly-displayed signage ridiculing gay people with the crudest possible stereotypes.
     In fact, we were so disgusted that we took the photo below with our Minolta SRT-202 on Tri-X film and never shopped at a B&R store again. (The photo may have been taken in the early months of 1978 when sales on grapefruit would have been in fuller swing, as was Bryant's antigay traveling Jihaad, which went on the road to other cities.)
     Jane Raybould would have been about 18 or 19 at the time and perhaps already working in the family business. Hope she didn't draw the sign herself.
Separated at birth? 2018 NE Senate candidates Deb Fischer (left) and Jane Raybould.
      Regardless, we hope the family's attitudes toward LGBTs have evolved since then, as, according to its website, B&R Stores now owns
...18 stores located in seven cities across Nebraska and Iowa and employs more than 2,000 people, nearly 1,000 of which are employee owners. B&R Stores, Inc., is committed to being an active partner with each of the communities it serves in an effort to enhance the lives of both its customers and employees.
     Perhaps, during Saturday's kickoff, Jane Raybould will be good enough to produce a printed employment application for her family's grocery chain, so that Nebraska's 50,000 LGBTs can see, in black and white, what her family business's policy is now, in respect of hiring LGBTs.
     B&R's online application (retrieved yesterday) contained no information whatsoever regarding its discrimination policy.


Above: B&R IGA's grapefruit sale signage packed nearly every gay stereotype you can think of into one nasty caricature. Pompadour? Check. Platform shoes? Check. Ridiculous nails? Check. Earring? Check. Puffy, ruffled lace sleeves? Check. Plus, a pig's nose.
     And in case all that didn't sufficiently impart the Raybould family's demeaning message, the "fruit" part of grapefruit was underlined twice.
     When are homophobic enterprises going to realize that minorities never forget gratuitous attacks — even after 40 years?
     By the way, kids: 1978 wasn't really the dark ages in respect of the gay civil rights movement. We remember that guests on the Tonight Show then, regularly trashed Anita Bryant's bigotry, as did SNL. Guess the Raybould family business didn't get the memo.





Monday, August 14, 2017

Photos: Yesterday's Omaha USATriathlon sprint

A lot of Omaha Church Ladies weren't in church Sunday morning... Click on photos to enlarge. If you reuse these pics for publication, credit @AKSARBENT unless the photo already has a credit.







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