Video of the day


Blog research

So, I recently participated in an academic survey of blogging/bloggers conducted by some German academics.  Apparently, what they’d really like to get is more survey responses from commenters.  And, since I love social science and blogging comments, here you go…

Dear bloggers,

We would like to invite you to participate in a study on bloggers’ participation in virtual communities of practice (see that is being conducted at Walden University (USA) and Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (Germany). To participate, please follow this link:

Once you are there, please indicate “” as the name of the blog this questionnaire will refer to, and the nickname you use to post comments to this blog.

Your nickname will allow us to connect your responses with your activity in the blog community. We assume this nickname is not your real name. Nevertheless, all collected data will be de-identified, meaning that after linking your responses to your blog, your blog name will be replaced by a number. The collected data will be anonymously handled.

Thank you very much for supporting our research!

Best regards

Beate Baltes, Ed.D.
Walden University, USA

Nic. Nistor, Ph.D.
Walden University, USA
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Germany

Mis-understanding Moral Monday

Great, great column by NC Policy Watch’s Rob Schofeld on how Republicans just don’t “get” Moral Monday.  It’s pretty short and worth reading, but here’s the awesome part:

So, setting aside the possibility that the attacks are just the desperate dishonesty of a political attack group that would do and say just about anything (something that admittedly remains a distinct possibility), how can one explain such rubbish?

The “rubbish” being the idea that protesters are simply upset because their government grants are threatened  (See here).

Here’s the other most likely explanation: simple ideology-induced obliviousness.

By all indications, the Pope-Civitas people are so enmeshed in the world of market fundamentalist economics – a place in which the personal acquisition and accumulation of wealth and property is endlessly celebrated and assumed as the driving human instinct and predictor of human behavior in all circumstances – that they simply can’t grasp the notion that Moral Monday protesters would be seeking to vindicate something higher – something like…wait for it, morality.

So poisoned are they by the toxic dog-eat-dog doctrines of Milton Friedman, Ayn Rand et al., that they are literally incapable of responding intelligently to a passionate, morality-based movement that’s about fighting for intentional public solutions to serve the common good.

Put simply, the Pope-Civitasers appear to have become blinded by their own propaganda. Like old Soviet-era Stalinists and modern religious theocrats they find it impossible to acknowledge the simple truth that’s painted in living color right before their eyes – namely, that millions of North Carolinians are not buying the snake oil they and their allies are selling and do not want to see the clock of state turned back a half-century or more.

It’s called a filibuster damnit!!

Headline from the Post on-line this afternoon:

Senate student loan interest rate bill fails on procedural vote


A Senate bill that would freeze a low interest rate on one type of federal student loan for another year, along with buying lawmakers more time to craft a long-term strategy for setting all education loan interest rates, failed to clear a procedural vote Wednesday afternoon. That bounces the issue back to negotiations yet again, as lawmakers try to reach a consensus before the August recess, at which point most students will have to lock in their loans for the coming school year.

The vote was 51 in favor and 49 opposed, not enough to advance the bill.  [emphasis mine]

You’ve got to love the Orwellian Republican talking points on this (via Weigel):

Democrats (in both houses) prefered to just extend the 3.2 percent rate. Today the Senate held a cloture vote that would have allowed a vote on such a plan. Every single Republican voted against it, joined by one Democrat, Joe Manchin, and one independent, Angus King. (Harry Reid voted against it in order to retain the ability to bring it up later.)*

So what’s the headline? “The Senate failed,” of course.

That AP story, like many stories on the vote, doesn’t describe the actual breakdown of senators. But what happened, as usual, was that a majority of senators wanted to move ahead, and a filibuster stopped them. The low attention paid to the topic allowed John Boehner to claim that the Senate hadn’t really even tried to do anything: “Republicans acted to protect students from higher interest rates and make college more affordable, yet Senate Democratic leaders let student loan interest rates double without passing any legislation to address the issue.” They did have legislation, but Republicans want you to look past the people who filibustered it and think that the House, with its plan that would actually raise rates somewhat, is the only body acting. Rather than anyone take the lead on a compromise, 51 percent of the membership of one house is going to try to message the hell out of this, and 51 percent of the other house will respond.

Argh.  Most depressing is just how effectively this repeated failure of basic journalism does the Republicans’ job for them.  A reasonably savvy FB friend of mine just shared a link on this story with the comment, “#‎FireEveryoneInCongress‬”  I suggested that #FireRepublicans might be more appropriate.


Militarized police

I haven’t been keeping up with Radley Balko as much lately, but I do love the job he does covering the excesses of our criminal justice system.  Apparently he’s got a new book out on the militarization of our police and there’s a really nice excerpt in Salon.  It is absolutely chock full of disturbing anecdotes of police thinking they are an occupying army and running roughshod over the rights of citizens.  Here’s the anecdote that starts it all off:

Sal Culosi is dead because he bet on a football game — but it wasn’t a bookie or a loan shark who killed him. His local government killed him, ostensibly to protect him from his gambling habit.

Several months earlier at a local bar, Fairfax County, Virginia, detective David Baucum overheard the thirty-eight-year-old optometrist and some friends wagering on a college football game. “To Sal, betting a few bills on the Redskins was a stress reliever, done among friends,” a friend of Culosi’s told me shortly after his death. “None of us single, successful professionals ever thought that betting fifty bucks or so on the Virginia–Virginia Tech football game was a crime worthy of investigation.” Baucum apparently did. After overhearing the men wagering, Baucum befriended Culosi as a cover to begin investigating him. During the next several months, he talked Culosi into raising the stakes of what Culosi thought were just more fun wagers between friends to make watching sports more interesting. Eventually Culosi and Baucum bet more than $2,000 in a single day. Under Virginia law, that was enough for police to charge Culosi with running a gambling operation. And that’s when they brought in the SWAT team.

On the night of January 24, 2006, Baucum called Culosi and arranged a time to drop by to collect his winnings. When Culosi, barefoot and clad in a T-shirt and jeans, stepped out of his house to meet the man he thought was a friend, the SWAT team began to move in. Seconds later, Det. Deval Bullock, who had been on duty since 4:00 AM and hadn’t slept in seventeen hours, fired a bullet that pierced Culosi’s heart.

Sal Culosi’s last words were to Baucum, the cop he thought was a friend: “Dude, what are you doing?”

In March 2006, just two months after its ridiculous gambling investigation resulted in the death of an unarmed man, the Fairfax County Police Department issued a press release warning residents not to participate in office betting pools tied to the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. The title: “Illegal Gambling Not Worth the Risk.” Given the proximity to Culosi’s death, residents could be forgiven for thinking the police department believed wagering on sports was a crime punishable by execution.

He also goes into detail about a “pet” concern of his, the fact that it seems police seem to indiscriminately shoot dogs they come across in arrests and are, apparently, not even trained at all in the matter.  Anyway, seriously, read the whole thing.

Photo(s) of the day

The Telegraph has a gallery of past winners of British Landscape Photo award winners.  Some amazing, amazing photos (though, a few strike me as a little heavy on the HDR).  I could not choose just one.  The first makes me think of the Hogwarts Express and the latter combines two great themes– lightning and lighthouses.

David Horner / Rex Features (2586808k) The Viaduct at Ribblehead, North Yorkshire
The Viaduct at Ribblehead, North YorkshirePicture: David Horner / Rex Features
Jamie Russell / Rex Features (2586808a) Lightning over St Catherine's Lighthouse, Isle of Wight
Lightning over St Catherine’s Lighthouse, Isle of WightPicture: Jamie Russell / Rex Features

We’ve made the big time

Wow, as seemingly all my NC liberal friends on FB have noted, the New York Times actually had an editorial today on the embarrassment of our NC Republican government.  The shenanigans going on a few miles to the east of me truly are a national political story.  I’m sure there’s very little new here for readers of this blog, but if anybody says to you, “so, what’s the deal with North Carolina?” this editorial is a great summary.  To wit:

In January, after the election of Pat McCrory as governor, Republicans took control of both the executive and legislative branches for the first time since Reconstruction. Since then, state government has become a demolition derby, tearing down years of progress in public education, tax policy, racial equality in the courtroom and access to the ballot…

North Carolina was once considered a beacon of farsightedness in the South, an exception in a region of poor education, intolerance and tightfistedness. In a few short months, Republicans have begun to dismantle a reputation that took years to build.

Yep.  That’s the biggest shame of this.  As in all things in life it is so much easier to destroy than to create.  North Carolina had a great brand which has surely led to great benefit to the state over the years and all that hard work of investing in education, infrastructure, and forward-thinking industry is being rapidly undone.  I love this state and I plan on being buried in Cary, NC in another 40+ years or so, but I truly worry that our future trajectory is going to be so much worse than it otherwise would have been.

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