Sarah Palin's Whitman-esque free verse

Paliin's content is nuts. So how does she get so much admiration? Maybe her form is spot-on.

Sarah Palin: The Walt Whitman of Wasilla (New Republic)

There is a strong consensus among Palin scholars as to where she fits into the poetic pantheon: She is heir to the tradition of free-flowing democratic verse that runs from Walt Whitman to Carl Sandburg to Allen Ginsberg. As Michael Solomon writes, “Not since Walt Whitman first heard America singing has a writer captured the hopes and dreams of her people so effortlessly—and with so many gerunds.”

Jason O. Gilbert agrees. “Many critics derided [Palin’s] speech as ‘rambling’ and ‘insane,’” he notes. “These critics are wrong. With a little proper formatting, this speech was poetry, in the tradition of Walt Whitman.”

New York considering outlawing sale of encrypted smartphones

You thought we put a stake through the heart of the crypto apocalypse BS back in the 1990s? IT LIVES! (Not familiar with the crypto wars? Here's a quick bit of background from the Washington Post from a few months back.

Apple iPhone ban? New York looks to outlaw sale of encrypted smartphones | ZDNet (ZDNet)

A proposed bill in New York seeks to require that all smartphones sold in the state can be decrypted or unlocked and proposes hefty fines for vendors failing to comply.

The proposed law marks the latest effort by lawmakers to make it easier for law enforcement to access and read encrypted data stored on smartphones.

Should the proposed bill successfully pass through New York's state assembly and senate, Apple and Google could face fines of $2,500 per device sold in the state after January 1, 2016, if a retailer knowingly sold a smartphone that could not be unlocked or decrypted by the device manufacturer or operating-system provider.

In other words, there's no requirement for Apple, Google, or device makers to create a backdoor. But if any manufacturer wants to sell a smartphone in the state, the device would need to comply with those requirements or else face a civil suit by the attorney general or district attorney.

Kasich rising in NH

I have to admit I'd counted Kasich out. But if he manages even a second place finish in New Hampshire he could still have a shot.

Poll shows Kasich rising in New Hampshire (TheHill)

Ohio Gov. John Kasich is gaining ground in New Hampshire.

Kasich garners 20 percent support in the American Research Group (ARG) poll of the state released Tuesday, second only to Donald Trump’s 27 percent.

Marco Rubio follows Kasich, with 10 percent. Chris Christie and Ted Cruz are tied for fourth with 9 percent, and Jeb Bush has 8 percent.

Kasich’s total is a big jump from the previous edition of the poll a week earlier, when he had 14 percent support.

National Reconnaissance Office serves Cthulu?

A giant tentacled beast grips the earth. An illustration from a Lovecraft story about the Elder Gods? No, a mission logo from the secretive National Reconnaissance Office.

"A little sinister!!" The story behind National Reconnaissance Office's octopus logo (MuckRock)

When the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) announced the upcoming launch of their NROL-39 mission back in December 2013, they didn't get quite the response they had hoped for ...

That might have had something to do with the mission logo being a gigantic octopus devouring the Earth.

...

The 15-page file clears up a lot of questions surrounding the logo approval process - rather than simply being somebody's bad idea that just didn't get squashed, it turns out the octopus had made it across many, many desks before that final OK.

...[A]n article for what appeared to be the ODNI's internal magazine reveals the "secret origin" of the octopus, which has less to do with an admiration of mollusca and more with a faulty component called an "octopus harness."

That article draws from a speech made by the Mission Manager - a full transcription of his remarks are included in the file, and they expand upon NRO's capabilities with a charming obliviousness to just how terrifying all this sounds.

Sanders tied with Clinton in Iowa; if he takes it Dems have a real race

Everyone expected Sanders to beat Clinton in New Hampshire, New England is his home turf. But if he takes Iowa too, that's a gutpunch to the Clinton campaign. The two latest polls have the Democratic race there a tie: this one has him slightly up, a Bloomberg Politics/Des Moines Register poll has him slightly down, both within the margin of error.

Clinton is up in the next two races, Nevada and South Carolina. But if the first four Democratic primaries break out as two for Sanders and two for Clinton, it smashes the DNC/HRC narrative and the Democrats may have a chance of avoiding the doom of a Clinton candidacy. But if it's 3-1 Clinton she'll probably take the nomination, and we'll have a President Rubio or President Cruz to look forward to. If, somehow, Sanders takes Iowa and then parlays that into a further victory in either Nevada or South Carolina and takes three of the first four primaries, Clinton can start planning her concession and retirement, but that's an unlikely scenario -- though some are seeing Nevada as in play.

Sanders Takes Slim Lead Over Clinton in New Iowa Poll (ABC News)

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has climbed to a slim lead over national frontrunner Hillary Clinton in a new Iowa poll.

With just 20 days remaining until the first-in-the-nation caucus, a Quinnipiac University poll released today shows Sanders leading Clinton for the first time in the Hawkeye State with 49 percent support -- his highest support in any Iowa poll yet. Clinton garnered 44 percent support.

That's a 9 percentage point increase for Sanders and a 7-point drop for Clinton since the last Quinnipiac poll in Iowa almost one month ago.

Sanders' lead, which is still barely within the margin of error, is bolstered by a broad gender gap...

Why "Of Oz The Wizard" is a Discordian masterpiece

I don't know what inspired Matt Bucy to take The Wizard of Oz and remix so that every bit of dialog is in alphabetical order. But in so doing he's given a brilliant illustration of one of the core tenet of Discordianism, the "Law of Eristic Escalation": Imposition of Order = escalation of Disorder.

By imposing an order on The Wizard of Oz that does not arise naturally from the work, Bucy has created beautiful chaos. Hail Eris!

Some Madman Edited The Wizard Of Oz To Be In Alphabetical Order, And I Can’t Look Away (www.cinemablend.com)

Sometimes you have to just sit back and appreciate the internet in all of its ludicrous glory. Sure, there will be some of you that think the decision by a deranged editor to slice together all of the dialogue from The Wizard Of Oz in alphabetical order is a giant waste of time, when it actually it should be celebrated for being so hugely superfluous but still finding an audience on the world wide web. The result is also oddly hypnotic. Especially when it gets to actual words....

NYC teacher fired for teaching about Central Park 5

If the truth will rile people up, then the people much not learn the truth. Authoritarianism at its finest.

NYC high school teacher claims she was fired for Central Park Five lessons that administrators feared would create 'riots' (www.nydailynews.com)

A teacher at an Upper West Side high school was fired for creating a curriculum with lessons about the Central Park Five that administrators feared would “rile up” black students, according to a new federal lawsuit.

English teacher Jeena Lee-Walker said her bosses at the High School for Arts, Imagination and Inquiry urged her in November 2013 to be more “balanced” in her approach to the racially charged Central Park jogger case that ended with five black and Latino teens being exonerated after spending several years in prison for the attack.

They told her the lessons could create little “riots,” according to court papers.

You can still send telegrams stop How cool is that stop

I guess most of us thought the telegram died when Western Union shut down their service. But it lives! Now I shall be looking for an excuse to send one.

Technology You Didn't Know Still Existed: The Telegram (Atlas Obscura)

But a handful of companies are carrying on the tradition. Principal amongst them is the International Telegram Company who inherited and still operate Western Union’s former telex and cablegram network. They are well aware of their own anachronism: “Most people are pretty surprised to learn that telegrams still exist, and in fact are still pretty widely used in some parts of the world,” says Colin Stone, Director of Operations. Overall, he says that about 20 million telegrams are still delivered every year.

...[W]hen it comes to urgent hand-delivered messages, the telegram is still the gold standard. “People use them for canceling contracts and sending legal notifications because a copy of the message is retained in our files for 7 years and can be legally verified,” explains Stone. Everything from legal notices to social correspondence for births, funerals and weddings are being routinely sent by telegrams. In the U.S., Stone says that people still send telegrams for a simple reason, echoing the famous quote about why humans climb Mount Everest—"because they can."

Spied-on Congresscritters suddenly discover the value of privacy

While some Democratic partisans have been misrepresenting the NSA's findings to claim that Netanyahu bribed Republican members of Congress, the real story here is the NSA spying on Congress -- and the sudden conversion of former fans of spying into defenders of privacy, now that they find themselves the targets. Hypocrisy is indeed the greatest luxury.

Spying on Congress and Israel: NSA Cheerleaders Discover Value of Privacy Only When Their Own Is Violated (The Intercept)

In January 2014, I debated Rep. Hoekstra about NSA spying and he could not have been more mocking and dismissive of the privacy concerns I was invoking. “Spying is a matter of fact,” he scoffed. As Andrew Krietz, the journalist who covered that debate, reported, Hoekstra “laughs at foreign governments who are shocked they’ve been spied on because they, too, gather information” — referring to anger from German and Brazilian leaders. As TechDirt noted, “Hoekstra attacked a bill called the RESTORE Act, that would have granted a tiny bit more oversight over situations where (you guessed it) the NSA was collecting information on Americans.”

But all that, of course, was before Hoekstra knew that he and his Israeli friends were swept up in the spying of which he was so fond. Now that he knows that it is his privacy and those of his comrades that has been invaded, he is no longer cavalier about it. In fact, he’s so furious that this long-time NSA cheerleader is actually calling for the criminal prosecution of the NSA and Obama officials for the crime of spying on him and his friends.

This pattern — whereby political officials who are vehement supporters of the Surveillance State transform overnight into crusading privacy advocates once they learn that they themselves have been spied on — is one that has repeated itself over and over.

A sympathetic backgrounder on the Malheur NWR protest

I have near zero sympathy for ranchers; their business is built on exploiting public land -- land that belongs to all of us, not just to residents of one state. It's built on externalizing costs and is incompatible with ecological sustainability. Animal agriculture is going to have to go extinct the same way coal mining is, that's just the fact.

And this backgrounder is from an obviously far-right web site, take the details with salt. And the comments section is the usual hive of scum and villainy.

On the other hand, even when people's way of making a living is destructive to the ecosystem, you can't take it away without transitional plans. And I have little tolerance for overreach by federal bureaucracies or for the constant aggressive expansion of federal power into the lives of citizens. Once you understand the evils of our national drug policy -- and I mean "evils" quite literally, there are few things in this world to which that term is more accurately applied -- you never look at government power and criminal justice the same way again.

The very important takeaway here is this: two men, almost certainly over-charged as is the standard federal practice these days, already did their time as convicted and sentenced. The feds, in apparent violation of the double jeopardy and cruel and unusual punishment clauses, have decided they need to be put back in jail for more time on those same charges.

That authoritarian overreach justifies some disruptive protesting, so long as no aggressive violence is used. It is of a piece with broader concerns about criminal justice reform. It's a shame that just as this far-right website doesn't grasp that, and has a whole section dedicated to slandering and vilifying African-American victims of state violence, many progressives and folks on what's left of the American left will not get the point either.

Full Story on What's Going on In Oregon - Militia Take Over Malheur National Wildlife Refuge In Protest to Hammond Family Persecution... (The Last Refuge)

By the 1970’s nearly all the ranches adjacent to the Blitzen Valley were purchased by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and added to the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge covers over 187,000 acres and stretches over 45 miles long and 37 miles wide. The expansion of the refuge grew and surrounds to the Hammond’s ranch. Being approached many times by the FWS, the Hammonds refused to sell. Other ranchers also choose not to sell.

...

(a4) By the 1990’s the Hammonds were one of the very few ranchers that still owned private property adjacent to the refuge....

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