Author: Actor 212

Today, I Am the Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth

No, I’m not dying…well, not yet. A series of events have conflued and I am able to take an extended sabbatical from all forms of wage-earning to pursue some things in my personal and artistic life. I anticipate at least a month off, but more likely, I will be off work until the end of the year.

It’s a beautiful opportunity to write, shoot photos, dive and vacation, and release some of the stress that working some 40 years (since sophomore year of college) has built into my body. Mostly, I get to clean up the rat hole I live in and ride my bike to boot.

I’m excited and terrified, at the same moment. This is now on me. I don’t have a boss to complain about – the Bag of Salted Rat Dicks was fired, altho his tenure will outlast mine, but only by dint of some legal wrangling on his part – and while I don’t have a routine, I have to put one into place until I’m comfortable being busy doin’ nothin’, as the old Beach Boys tune put it.

As events have unfolded over the past four months, it seems more and more likely that I picked the perfect opportunity to walk out, because my suspicion is I would eventually have been carried out on my shield.

I paid attention, and the world told me what to do, is the message.

I’ll still be blogging, perhaps even more frequently and at more places. One cannot tell these things in advance. My first adventure awaits in two weeks, and then the looking glass is entered upon my return.

Wish me luck, gang!

Russia Will Only Get Worse. Maybe.

Putin is on the horns of a dilemna. For the first time since the dismantling of the Soviet Union, Russia faces a severe economic crisis – after enjoying years of relative prosperity – and she has a warmongering chief executive. This is a nexus of events that will shape and define Russia for at least the next decade.

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Round Two

So the Teabaggers have another chance to pick off a few incumbent Republicans that they deem as too cozy with Obama.

What?

Voters head to the polls today in six states to cast ballots in a the latest round of primary and runoff elections in the heart of nominating season. The marquee congressional contest is in South Carolina, where there is really only one number on the mind of Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R): 50 percent.

Fifty percent would mean Graham can avoid a runoff. His numbers hover just below that mark, a sign of voter anger (and let’s face it, apathy) over Congress.

Also in the spotlight today, Eric Cantor also faces a must-win situation, which is very likely, but the margin of victory will be closely watched for keys to Teabagger frustration with his performance these past two years. If he comes in under 20%, it could stoke the fires for further Teabagger unrest.

The really interesting race is out in Nevada, where the Lieutenant Governor’s spot is up for grabs. If a Democrat – in this instance, Lucy Flores – wins the general election, Governor Brian Sandoval may have to postpone his attempt to win Harry Reid’s seat, as the governor’s office would flip parties. Sandoval has to count on the lesser of two evils to win the Republican primary today, in order for Flores to face a real challenger in November.

As noted earlier this year, the Teabagger influence in elections is waning, and this is most notable in this primary season: Primaries are where hardcore voters turn out, and the numbers of overall votes are lower, reinforcing the influence a voting bloc may have.

By blowing up early this year, the Teabaggers have pretty much slid into obscurity. It will be a long time before Republicans have any influence in the nation.

Infectious Dis-Ease

It appears our ammosexuality is contagious:

(CNN) — In a country often stereotyped for being too genteel, the Canadian city of Moncton prides itself on a special distinction: It was named the most polite.

So what happened here Wednesday seems unimaginable to residents.

A man dressed in fatigues and carrying a rifle went on a rampage, killing three police officers and wounding two others.

Police posted to social media a photograph of a man dressed in fatigues, carrying what appeared to be a rifle.

Thursday morning, the shooter was still on the loose.

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By Your Leave

I meant to blog about this when the baseball season opened in April but it slipped my mind. Thankfully I have a second chance to:

CHICAGO — New York Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy and his family will be guests at the White House on Monday for a discussion about the state of working dads.

Murphy received talk-radio backlash after choosing to take paternity leave and miss the team’s first two games of the season to be present for the birth of his first child on March 31. Murphy’s wife Tori gave birth to 8-pound, 2-ounce son Noah about an hour before the first pitch of the Mets’ season.

The White House Summit on Working Families will be held in the South Court Auditorium of the White House. It aims to advance talk about how fathers play a role at home, discuss the challenges of balancing a career and family, and advocate for rights such as parental leave from work.

Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors Jason Furman will participate in the discussion along with Murphy.

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The Price of Freedom

People are allowed to think, say, and yes, even tweet whatever the hell they want, so long as their actions do not contravene the law. They are still American citizens:

Since Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was captured in the mountains of Afghanistan in 2009, his father had become an expert on Guantanamo Bay’s detainees. It was out of necessity, because the Taliban demanded that the United States free prisoners from Guantanamo in exchange for Bergdahl.

“No family in the United States understands the detainee issue like ours,” Robert Bergdahl said in a 2011 plea to his son’s captors.

So it wasn’t entirely unusual when Bergdahl apparently published a tweet last week about Guantanamo’s detainees. Except this tweet was directed at a Taliban spokesman. And it came just four days before it was announced that his son was finally being released.

“I am still working to free all Guantanamo prisoners,” the tweet said, according to various screen grabs. The tweet was subsequently deleted. “God will repay for the death of every Afghan child, ameen.”

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Republicans Suck

Would You Buy A Used Hostage From This Man?

Really:

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl can expect a buoyant homecoming after five years in Taliban hands, but those in the government who worked for his release face mounting questions over the prisoner swap that won his freedom.

Even in the first hours of Bergdahl’s handoff to U.S. special forces in eastern Afghanistan, it was clear this would not be an uncomplicated yellow-ribbon celebration. Five terrorist suspects also walked free, stirring a debate in Washington over whether the exchange will heighten the risk of other Americans being snatched as bargaining chips and whether the released detainees — several senior Taliban figures among them — would find their way back to the fight.

U.S. officials said Sunday that Bergdahl’s health and safety appeared in jeopardy, prompting rapid action to secure his release. “Had we waited and lost him,” said national security adviser Susan Rice, “I don’t think anybody would have forgiven the United States government.”

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In Memoriam: Don Stewart

In addition to the vacuum left by the death of Maya Angelou – and I am thankful to my 10th grade English Lit teacher who forced us to read I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings – another tragic loss happened in my circle yesterday.

He was a man you probably never heard of, yet his actions, his energy, changed your world for the better. His only real claim to fame on a scale you’d know was an appearance in a Sunday comic, Dondi.

He has been knighted by the Dutch royal family for his tireless work in the pursuit of environmental security.

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Exporting Our National Experience

Damned Lefty!

This is going to be an interesting and intriguing visit to Cooperstown by President Obama today:

WASHINGTON (AP) – Promoting travel to the U.S. as a job creator, President Barack Obama is planning new steps to make it easier for people from other countries to visit the 50 states and spend money at their hotels, restaurants, tourist attractions and other businesses.

Obama planned to discuss the economic benefits of tourism to the U.S. and the latest steps he is taking to boost it at the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York, on Thursday.

Obama acted two years ago to speed the processing of tourist visas for visitors from China and Brazil, steps that have dramatically reduced the length of time people from those populous countries have to wait for approval to travel to the U.S., said administration officials who previewed the president’s trip for reporters.

On Thursday he will tackle the flip side of the problem: long waits for processing at U.S. airports and other ports of entry once tourists arrive.

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Used Teabags

I wrote a few weeks ago that the Tea Party was a drying wart on the American political landscape, a view cinched last night:

FORTUNE — Tactically, the Republican establishment is routing the Tea Party. The insurgency’s backslide has been apparent all year, as its handpicked challengers to GOP incumbents failed to gain traction, groups representing it in Washington overreached, and the deficit concerns stoking its base waned. But yesterday, the “backslide” slid right back off a cliff. Tea Party-backed candidates in three key primary races suffered decisive losses in Kentucky, Georgia, and Idaho.

With the handwriting on the wall, deep-pocketed conservative sponsors huddled last Thursday and stewed over how to force the GOP to double down on hard-right policy positions. Those include opposition to a big immigration deal, same-sex marriage, and abortion rights — issues toxic to the imperative of broadening the party’s demographic coalition. But the movement’s electoral drubbing suggests its grip on the Republican agenda may finally be breaking.

The question is what will replace it. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, one of the big victors in yesterday’s contests, was explicit with Fortune earlier this year that Senate Republicans will not unify behind a governing vision before the November midterms. And even if a more moderate brand of Republicanism is ascendant, the term itself remains relative — and murky.

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Modern Alchemy

Well, now…

God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. Then a trio of physicists said, “We have a simple idea for turning that light into matter” – and they may set off a race to demonstrate an idea first proposed 80 years ago.

Albert Einstein’s most famous equation, E = mc2, showed that there is a direct relationship between the mass of an object and the amount of energy it contains. Then physicists Gregory Breit and John A. Wheeler built on Einstein’s work by arguing that it ought to be possible to take two photons (pieces of light that are considered pure energy) and convert them into a pair of particles (an electron and its antimatter counterpart, a positron).

In their 1934 scientific article describing what came to be known as the Breit-Wheeler process, the pair weren’t exactly optimistic that their theoretical prediction would could ever be confirmed in practice. “It is hopeless to try to observe pair formation in laboratory experiments,” they wrote in the journal Physical Review.

Oh well, one out of two ain’t bad.

In a study published online Sunday in the journal Nature Photonics, three physicists from Imperial College London and the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg, Germany, propose a relatively straightforward method for witnessing the conversion of two photons into two particles. The trio came up with the idea and hammered out the key details in a single, coffee-fueled day, according to Imperial.

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Welcome to the World of Realpolitik, China!

The dwindling world of Communism is getting more and more aggressive: towards each other.

Chinese authorities said Sunday that more than 3,000 Chinese had already been evacuated from Vietnam after protests over China’s decision to move an oil rig into disputed waters of the South China Sea spiraled into riots last week in which foreign-owned factories were burned and looted.

Two Chinese citizens were killed in the violence and more than 100 were injured, authorities said.

The crisis has frayed ties between the two Communist-run Asian nations, and there is little sign of either side backing down over the increasingly bitter territorial dispute.

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