The Watering Hole: March 31 – Don Quixote

Don Quixote and Sancho Panza

Alonso Quijano was a retired country gentleman nearing fifty years of age, who lived in La Mancha with a niece and housekeeper. His reading of books of chivalry to an excess has caused an effect on him, leading to a distortion of his mental state. He accepted every word of the facets of chivalry to be true while chivalry was clearly fiction. Otherwise his wits were intact. He went out as a knight in search of adventure. He donned an old suit of armour, renamed himself “Don Quixote de la Mancha,” and named his skinny horse “Rocinante”. A neighboring farm girl became his lady love and he renamed her, the Dulcinea del Toboso, of which she knew nothing.

He set out ended up at an inn, which he believed to be a castle. He asked the innkeeper, whom he assumed to be the lord, to dub him a knight. He spent the night holding vigil over his armor and became involved in a fight with muleteers who tried to remove his armor from a horse trough so that they could water their mules. The innkeeper then dubbed him a knight just to be rid of him, and he went on his way. Don Quixote, next, “freed” a young boy who was tied to a tree and beaten by his master by making his master swear on the chivalric code to treat the boy fairly. The boy’s beating continued. and Don Quixote had a to-do with traders from Toledo, who denounced Dulcinea as a falsehood and severely beat him only to leave him on the road. He was later found and returned to his home by a peasant.

After recovering, Don Quixote approached a neighbor, Sancho Panza, and enlisted him as his squire, bestowing him governorship of an island. The uneducated Sancho agreed, and the pair sneaked off in the early dawn. It is here that their series of famous adventures begin, starting with Don Quixote’s attack on windmills that he believed to be giants. The two next encountered a group of friars accompanying a lady in a carriage. They were cloaked, as was the lady, as protection from the hot climate and dust. Don Quixote thought the friars to be enchanters who held the lady captive. He knocked a friar from his horse, and was subsequently challenged by an armed Basque travelling with the company. As he had no shield, the Basque used a pillow to protect himself.

In the course of their travels, the two protagonists met innkeepers, prostitutes, goatherds, soldiers, priests, escaped convicts, and scorned lovers. These encounters were intensified by Don Quixote’s imagination into chivalrous quests. fgoes.Don Quixote’s tendency to intervene violently in matters which did not concern him, and his habit of not paying his debts, resulted in many privations, injuries, and humiliations with Sancho always getting the short straw. At the end Don Quixote was persuaded to return to his home village.

Now this tale popped into my mind whilefollowing the campaign of Mitt Romney. Only falsehoods are used to fortify this modern errant knight in his drift to the Republican nomination. For the nation’s well-being, I can only hope that ‘Don’ Romney returns to his village. Otherwise, this nation is destined to enter the fray against imagined enemies!

This is our daily open thread — speak up!

Music Night, March 30, 2012

Beginning next week, Music Night will have a new host. Unless I can persuade him otherwise, we will be alternating Fridays.

This is a really good video of some truly talented musicians. The front men, Flo and Eddie, went out to less-mainstream success in Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention, and over the years a ton of studio work (look ‘em up).And they clearly knew how to have fun.

Maybe Terry will like this one.

The Watering Hole, Thursday, March 29th, 2012: The Republican War on Women, Part 3

This third and final column was published in the Pawling Press on March 23rd, 2012. (See Part 2 below.) As previously stated, there have been updates to this and other legislation assaulting and limiting women’s rights, but I’ll cover those at a later date.

“Good Luck, Ladies”

A few weeks ago, when I first wrote about several States having passed or trying to pass legislation to limit legal abortions, I didn’t realize that this was going to be a multi-part series. Unfortunately, more States continue to try to pass laws infringing on women’s rights and privacy, so here is the third installment.

Arizona, which already has a law in place that bans tax funding for abortions, is now about to defund Planned Parenthood entirely via HB2800, which Governor Jan Brewer is expected to sign into law. As has been stated again and again, abortion services comprise only 3% of the services that Planned Parenthood provides to women. For poorer women who have no health insurance, this will take away their access to free or low-cost mammograms, cancer screening tests and prevention services, STD testing and treatment, and other women’s health services, along with their access to contraception. Former Surgeon General Richard Carmona, now running for Arizona’s U.S. Senate seat, stated, “As a longtime health care professional, I can say without hesitation that restricting access to reproductive health care is detrimental to the health and safety of women. Period.”

Another Arizona bill, HB2625, amends the statute that gives “religious employers” exemption from providing insurance coverage for the birth control pill, unless it is medically necessary for reasons other than birth control. The bill completely removes the State’s statutory definition of “religious employers”, and instead allows “the employer, sponsor, issuer, health care services organization or other entity offering the plan” to deny “coverage of specific items or services… because providing or paying for coverage of the specific items or services is contrary to the[ir] religious beliefs…” In other words, not only the employer – any employer, not just a ‘religious entity’ – but also the health insurance company and, it seems, just about anyone in between, can deny coverage for any services, based on religious grounds. At least this particular bill would theoretically affect men as well as women, even though the majority of its limitations seem to be aimed at women. Maybe it would be a good thing if enough men realized that their healthcare coverage could be limited by someone else’s moral judgment.

On to New Hampshire: HB1659 requires doctors to give women seeking abortions “informational materials” – written by the State – which refer to a link between abortion and breast cancer in several sections. One section reads:

“It is scientifically undisputed that full-term pregnancy reduces a woman’s lifetime risk of breast cancer. It is also undisputed that the earlier a woman has a first full-term pregnancy, the lower her risk of breast cancer becomes, because following a full-term pregnancy the breast tissue exposed to estrogen through the menstrual cycle is more mature and cancer resistant. In fact, for each year that a woman’s first full-term pregnancy is delayed, her risk of breast cancer rises 3.5 percent. The theory that there is a direct link between abortion and breast cancer builds upon this undisputed foundation.”

Too bad that the American Cancer Society disagrees with this “theory that there is a direct link between abortion and breast cancer .” From the ACS website:

“Simply being a woman is the main risk factor for developing breast cancer.”
“Women who have had no children or who had their first child after age 30 have a slightly higher breast cancer risk. Having many pregnancies and becoming pregnant at a young age reduce breast cancer risk. Pregnancy reduces a woman’s total number of lifetime menstrual cycles, which may be the reason for this effect.”
“Several studies have provided very strong data that neither induced abortions nor spontaneous abortions (miscarriages) have an overall effect on the risk of breast cancer.”

So the State of New Hampshire wants to mandate that doctors lie to their female patients. This would violate doctor-patient confidentiality, and would also violate a doctor’s First Amendment rights. Considering that the American Cancer Society says that “having many pregnancies and becoming pregnant at a young age reduce breast cancer risk”, one might wonder why New Hampshire isn’t pushing for teenage girls to get pregnant as early as possible, and keep women reproducing for as long as possible, if the State is so concerned about their risk of breast cancer. (Okay, that last part was sarcasm, but warranted.)

As of this writing, two more States, Pennsylvania and Tennessee, are proposing more anti-abortion legislation. Pennsylvania has its own version of Virginia’s mandated-ultrasound bill, while Tennessee wants, among other things, to publish the names of doctors who perform abortions. Apparently this country hasn’t had enough bombings of clinics, shootings of clinic personnel, and murdering of doctors.

And what do all of these States have in common? All have Republican governors and majority-Republican legislatures. Yes, the “small government, “individual freedom” folks. So, to all of the women who are unlucky enough to live in all of these hostile States, I wish you the best of luck. You’re going to need it.

This is our daily open thread — What’s on your mind?

Thursday, March 29th, 2012: The Republican War on Women: Part 2

The following, my second column on the Republican War on Women (see Part 1 here), was published in the Pawling Press on March 16th. Although a bit outdated, it is a reminder that this is still an ongoing assault.

“Hell Hath No Fury…”

On February 16th, Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA), held a hearing regarding the new contraception coverage rule in the Affordable Care Act. Congressman Issa’s stated reason for the hearing was to obtain testimony as to whether the new rule infringed on ‘religious freedom’, and the only witnesses allowed to testify were male religious leaders. Congressman Issa refused to hear the testimony of Ms. Sandra Fluke, a third-year law student at Georgetown University, a Catholic university whose insurance does not cover the birth control pill. Ms. Fluke was prepared to testify, in part, about a schoolmate who needed the pill in order to control an ovarian growth, being afflicted with polycystic ovarian syndrome. The schoolmate’s inability to afford the medication led to the eventual surgical removal of one of her ovaries due to the size of the out-of-control growth.

After she was not allowed to testify at Congressman Issa’s hearing, Ms. Fluke gave her prepared testimony at a Democratic forum (Democrats, being in the minority in the House, are not allowed to hold actual hearings) and subsequently the news media began covering the story.

Enter right-wing radio’s Rush Limbaugh: either unaware of, or deliberately disregarding, the actual testimony of Ms. Fluke, Mr. Limbaugh attacked, calling Ms. Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute.” Mr. Limbaugh lied about Ms. Fluke’s testimony, saying that she “went before a Congressional committee and said she’s having so much sex she’s going broke buying contraceptives and wants us to buy them” and “she wants us to pay for her to have sex.” Mr. Limbaugh topped off his disgusting remarks with:

“So Miss Fluke, and the rest of you Feminazis, here’s the deal. If we are going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus pay for you to have sex. We want something for it. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.”

Despite the outrage that ensued, Mr. Limbaugh continued his barrage against Ms. Fluke for several more days, while Fox News ‘personalities’ defended his stance and joined the sexist attack. Finally, enough of his sponsors having dropped their advertising, Mr. Limbaugh issued a non-apology apology.

This story, in my opinion, is important for two reasons. One reason is that Rush Limbaugh is the de facto ruler of the Republican Party. In 2009, after Mr. Limbaugh’s remarks about ‘wanting Obama to fail’, then-RNC Chairman Michael Steele stated, “Rush is not the head of the Republican Party. He’s an entertainer whose show is incendiary and ugly.” Mr. Limbaugh lambasted Mr. Steele, saying that Steele ought to resign from the RNC Chairmanship. Mr. Steele then issued a statement including “My intent was not to go after Rush – I have enormous respect for Rush Limbaugh, he is a national conservative leader …There was no attempt on my part to diminish his voice or his leadership.” Other Republicans who have had to apologize to Mr. Limbaugh include former S.C. Governor Mark Sanford and Congressman Phil Gingrey of Georgia.

Neither Mitt Romney nor Rick Santorum has condemned Mr. Limbaugh’s sexist and despicable remarks. Mitt Romney (who still receives investment income from Bain Capital, which owns Clear Channel Communications, whose Premiere Radio Networks Inc. hosts Limbaugh’s program) would only say: “I’ll just say this, which is, it’s not the language I would have used,” and I’m not going to weigh in on that particular controversy.” Rick Santorum’s comment about Rush Limbaugh’s remarks was “He’s being absurd, but that’s you know, an entertainer can be absurd.” Could either candidate possibly have been more mealy-mouthed about such horrible slurs?

The second reason why this is important is because of the current Republican attacks on contraception and women’s reproductive rights. Rick Santorum has said more than once that he believes that “contraception is wrong.” Numerous states have either proposed or passed legislation, including “personhood” amendments, severely limiting or denying women’s access to legal abortions or certain types of contraception. In the U.S. Senate, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) proposed an amendment to the Public Health Service Act which would exempt “any individual or entity” from having to “offer, provide, or purchase coverage for a contraceptive or sterilization service, or related education or counseling, to which that individual or entity is opposed on the basis of religious belief.” Senator Rubio’s name has been bandied about as the possible Vice Presidential candidate. Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) offered an amendment which went even further, allowing any type of healthcare services to be denied for religious or “conscience” reasons. These amendments, together referred to as the Blunt-Rubio Amendment, were only narrowly defeated.

Protests against these misogynistic right-wing legislative attacks, and outrage over the verbal vitriol from right-winger Rush Limbaugh, have been widespread and increasing. As of this writing, over 140 advertisers have abandoned sponsorship of Rush Limbaugh’s show. Republican popularity among women has been dropping (46%-42% favored a Republican-run Congress last summer, now 51%-36% favor the Democrats.) Although several prominent Republicans (including Senator John McCain of Arizona and Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts) have condemned Mr. Limbaugh’s despicable remarks, the two front-running Republican candidates, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, haven’t displayed the leadership and strength of character to do so. Why not? And what does this say about them?

Part 3, today’s Watering Hole, to follow shortly…

The Watering Hole, Wednesday, March 28, 2012: In Memoriam

Crystal Time

 Who counts the sand

Who counts the sand
Falling gently in the hourglass?
Each grain a memory,
A memory in a crystal of time.

Who counts the tears
That fall in silent rage?
Each tear an outcry,
For vengeance in due time.

As the sand and tear drops fall;
Gath’ring torrents to the sea,
Who can stop the tide?
Who can change the course?
Who can heal the pain of each crystal memory?

Who will stop the sand?
Who will stop the tears
From falling, from falling?
Who will come to stop the children
From killing,
From dying?

Who will look into every grain
Of crystal time,
And hear mothers’ voices calling,
Crying,
Crying,
Dying…

When will the sand stop falling?
When will there be
The Counter of the Sand?

************************************************

Contemplations

Grieve for me a little while,
then smile,
and weep no more.

To face the end of one’s mortality,
That’s the easy thing.

But life!

To go on,
Takes all the courage and strength of one’s soul.

There’s the knowing and understanding of it all,
Which we may ne’er do.
And when we do,
It won’t mean a thing.

But love!

To go on,
Living and loving,
That’s the thing,
We all must do.

© 2012 Briseadh na Faire
(Photo from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bogenfreund/556656621/)

TODAYS OPEN THREAD IS DEDICATED TO EVERYONE WHO HAS EVER LOST A LOVED ONE.
YOU MAY ADD YOUR THOUGHTS ON THIS,
OR ON ANY OTHER TOPIC, 
AS THE SPIRIT MOVES YOU.

The Watering Hole, Monday, March 26th, 2012: The Republican War on Women, Part 1

The Republican’s war on women’s rights is being waged so quickly that it’s been hard to keep up with every skirmish. I began writing about it in my columns in the Pawling Press several weeks ago. The following is the first of these columns, as published in the Pawling Press on Friday, February 24th, 2012:

“Personhood vs Women’s Rights”

On both the Federal and the State levels, Republican legislators have been attempting to limit women’s reproductive rights and personal freedoms. Since January of 2011, twenty-eight pieces of legislation have been introduced, considered, or passed in either the House or the Senate, aiming to chip away at the currently legal access to abortion and family-planning services. In the last few years, fourteen states either have tried to pass, or are about to pass, “Personhood” legislation declaring that human life begins at the moment of conception.

On February 16th, the Oklahoma State Senate passed SB-1433, which in part states:

“1. The life of each human being begins at conception;”
“2. Unborn children have protectable interests in life, health, and well-being;
“C. The laws of this state shall be interpreted and construed to acknowledge on behalf of the unborn child at every stage of development all the rights, privileges, and immunities available to other persons, citizens, and residents of this state.”
“E. Nothing in this section shall be interpreted as creating a cause of action against a woman for indirectly harming her unborn child by failing to properly care for herself or by failing to follow any particular program of prenatal care.”

Oklahoma State Medical Association spokesman Wes Glinsmann, describing the Association’s opposition to the bill, stated, “As broad and vaguely worded as it was, we are concerned about some of the unintended consequences regarding contraception, in vitro fertilization, ectopic pregnancies, things of that nature.”

According to the Tulsa News, State Senator Brian Crain, the author of the Oklahoma bill, “…said the measure will not outlaw abortion because the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade, is still on the books.” However, after reading SB-1433 (and there is little more to it than what I have quoted), I do not see how Senator Crain can honestly say that the measure would not outlaw abortion. I also do not see how, since Sections ‘2’ and ‘C’ above seem to be contradicted by Section ‘E’, this law would be enforceable. If it is unenforceable, then what exactly is the point of the legislation in the first place?

Similarly-worded “personhood” legislation is pending in Virginia (SB-484.) This bill includes an “informed consent” requirement, which, in plain English, “Requires that, as a component of informed consent to an abortion, to determine gestation age, every pregnant female shall undergo ultrasound imaging…”

Any woman who has undergone ultrasound imaging for other gynecological reasons knows that it is an invasive, often painful and humiliating procedure, involving a large cold probe and lengthy poking around in one’s internal private parts. Although the excuse for mandating this procedure is to “determine gestation age”, it is a completely unnecessary requirement for a woman about to have an abortion, unless one makes the ridiculous assumption that no woman has any idea when she got pregnant.

It seems that the sole purpose of these measures is to intimidate women seeking legal abortions by placing as many hurdles as possible in their way. It is remarkable that the same people who are vehemently opposed to the Affordable Care Act (spuriously referred to as “Obamacare”) as “big government” and “putting Federal bureaucracy between a doctor and a patient” are more than willing to have the State do exactly the same thing that they decry.

Looking at the Republican Presidential candidates’ field, it now seems that Rick Santorum, who opposes even contraception due to his religious beliefs, is the front-runner. This should frighten every woman of child-bearing age who does not want her reproductive rights diminished.

I was pleased to find that a group exists called Republican Majority for Choice, whose principles seem to be more in keeping with traditional moderate Republican values. From their website:

“The Republican Majority for Choice is an organization of Republican men and women… who believe in our Party’s traditional principles of individual liberty, strong national security and sound economic reason. We endorse the ‘big tent’ philosophy of inclusion and tolerance on social issues.”
“We support the protection of reproductive rights, including the full range of reproductive options. We believe that personal and medical decisions are best made between a woman, her doctor and her family and out of the hands of government. We are deeply concerned with direction of our Party if it continues to endorse a social agenda that is both intrusive and alienating. Our Party is naively discounting its mainstream members for those who represent the extreme right and believe it is their way or no way.”

This is what Republicans USED to stand for; why have so many of them strayed so far to the extreme right? For a party which touts itself as the party of personal freedom and small government, this interference in women’s lives and basic privacy should be against everything they supposedly believe.

Parts 2 and 3 to be posted shortly…

This is our daily open thread — What’s on your mind?

It’s Time To Talk About Our Guns

On Feb 26,2012, in Sanford, Florida, 17-year-old, 140-pound, Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by 28-year-old, 250-pound George Zimmerman. Zimmerman has said that it was a case of self-defense. Despite the many facts that have come to light since the shooting, Zimmerman remains a free man, who hasn’t yet been arrested. The Sanford Police report also raises some questions on its own, such as why less than one minute elapsed from the time 9-1-1 was called until the time the police arrived to find Trayvon Martin face down and dead. If accurate, it would mean that George Zimmerman could not wait one single minute from the time he was told they did not need him to follow Trayvon until the time he killed him. [NOTE: Many people have brought up the racial aspects of this case, but since race has nothing whatsoever to do with the discussion I am having here, I have intentionally left those aspects out. I completely agree that had Zimmerman been black and his victim a 17-year-old white male, he would have been arrested immediately. But let's save the racial aspects for another discussion.]

Although Zimmerman’s lawyer has said his client would not be invoking it, at the middle of this controversy is a law known colloquially as the “Stand Your Ground Law.” It says, in essence, that if you reasonably believe your life is in danger, you can use deadly force to defend yourself. The law was modeled on laws designed and written by ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative group of legislators and corporations that propose bills to be passed by the states. Believe me when I say they are not acting in your best interests. They are dangerous, and the laws they’ve helped pass have put innocent people in danger. They must be exposed and dealt with, but for now we as a nation must once and for all settle this matter of what the true meaning and intent of the Second Amendment is, and what role guns should have in our Society.

For the record, and so that there is no misunderstanding about the topic Continue reading

The Watering Hole: March 24 – Science vs. Myth

This is the start of a discussion that I started to put together on the physics of splitting a log.

This is how an engineer would start to describe the process of wood splitting:

The illustration below shows the effects of a wedge being driven into a log. This is merely meant as an illustration for the mathematics.

A Log-Splitting Wedge being Applied

First, the illustration will be simplified so it and the math will seem less complex.

Wedge Reduced to Basic Elements

We will use μ to represent the coefficient of friction along the vector lines XB and XA between the wood being split and the soft iron of the wedge itself. This works because that is the symbol used to represent that effect in science and engineering.

The mechanical advantage in this system is XF/AB, when friction is ignored which is how vector logic allows one to do since the other factors came be treated as separate vectors and the sum of all forces along a common direction can be used. We will use the line XY to define the vector of the sum of all forces since that is the common line along which the wedge is driven.

To find the effects of friction, we need to transpose the direction of frictional forces to vector XY. This actually poses a mechanical disadvantage as it takes away from the energy delivered by the sledge or hammer…

Now to the meat of the matter:

An ordinary fellow would merely say that the mechanical advantage would be equivalent to the the length of the wedge divided by its width at the top.

I had intended to present the exact solution to this problem, but I think I have said enough to describe the complexities that can be inserted into any problem.

These complexities have entered the political arena and it is the sheer complexity can be used to describe any problem with the public unable to see what is real.

Global warming is a case in point. One party can say it is not real because it still snows in the winter. The other party can merely ask John Q. voter to go out in March (In the northern hemisphere) and see whether he needs a parka. Still one side can use its observation to refute the other side’s. Evolution, Intelligent Design and Genesis can be used to explain why human beings exist in their present state.

Enough people believe that the Bible holds all truths and can never be refuted and science takes the other case, which, in turn, makes either argument unacceptable to the other group. Science occupies the back burner more often than not because it is difficult for the average savage to grasp.

To put everything into perspective, physicists are helping to design modern combustion engines. Up to about 1965, engineers were king. Now knowledge of physical principles have entered the process. As new fuel injection and chamber design have entered the design process, engineers are needed less than scientists. In the next graduation, engineers trained in the physical design of efficient combustion engines and carbonation will enter the fray. This is like what has happened in the design of integrated circuits.

This is our Open Thread. Please feel free to present your thoughts on any topic that comes to mind.

The Watering Hole, Thursday, March 22nd, 2012: Neighborhood Wildlife

Living in a rural area, with a pond down the yard and a swamp nearby, we do get some interesting visitors. The swampy area connects two sections of The Great Swamp, which stretches through several towns just west of Route 22. Canoeing and kayaking through the swamp are popular among local birders.

Mallards are common visitors to our own pond, but we don’t normally see them out walking the streets, like the female here:

Female Mallard out for a stroll


A more unusual visitor to our pond was this great egret:
great egret visiting pond

Great Egret Visiting Pond


A much more frightening-looking local denizen sometimes crosses through our yard to get from the pond to the swamp:
Snapping Turtle

Snapping Turtle crossing the road to get to the other side


But we also get some much cuter guests, such as these baby skunks, whose antics had us grinning with delight:
Litter of Skunks

Litter of Skunks

Ah, the joys of country living!

This is our daily open thread — so, what’s on your mind?

old souls

Slowing down and looking at the subtle forms in the geology, I encountered this sensuous sculpture in the sandstone, and added my own enhancement in the form of a rock for an eye.

Lazing at her feet, my eye missed this acolyte lounging in the afternoon sun till we were eyeball to eyeball.

Further on I found the remains of a previous pilgrim to the shrine…

The Watering Hole, Wednesday, March 21, 2012 Sin Tax Syntax

Is it over, yet?

The good ol’ U.S.of A. has long had sin taxes – taxes on things that are “bad” for you like cigarettes and alcohol.

But in a new twist to an old theme, Republicans are now saying we should not have to pay for things we morally disapprove. Things like abortion or birth control.

Well…ok. I’m “pro-life” insofar as I don’t believe in waging war for regime change, or the death penalty. So, my taxes should not pay for wars, nor killing people. Right?

Should we allow each individual tax payer the right to pick and choose what his or her taxes pay for, based on their individual moral beliefs?

If a small segment of our population can block taxes from paying for abortions and womens’ health care based on their moral beliefs, what other programs can we defund, based on your moral beliefs?

THIS BE THE OPEN THREAD OF THE DAY. FEEL FREE TO EXPRESS YOUR MORAL OUTRAGE!

The Watering Hole: March 20th – Europe’s Hate Crimes

Ok, ok. I knooow. There’s Illinois tonight. But still. Europe has it’s own stories to tell. We do have elections coming up, some really important, too. Most prominently France. And here’s what setting me off, once again:

You do not pander to the right wing haters without consequences. Marine LePen, daughter of ill-reputed right winger Jean-Marie LePen is running at around 16% of votes in recent polls.16% that Nicolas Sarkozy desperately wants to have, to get a second term. Sarko himself has been busily blaming minorities for France’s problems for years now, to get the right to vote for him and LePen wouldn’t be her father’s daughter if she didn’t, never mind her switch of focus.

Look what happens:

The neighborhood near Toulouse railway station where the Rue Jules Dalou is located is shabby and depressing. The houses are narrow and mostly only two stories high. There are no gourmet shops or chic boutiques. It’s a long way from the image of France that you see in the tourist brochures.

On any normal evening, the area would be deserted at 10 p.m., but this is not a normal evening. Since Monday morning, nothing in Toulouse is normal. That was when an unknown perpetrator on a motor scooter drove into the Rue Jules Dalou and shot dead three children and a teacher.

The shooting took place in front of and inside a Jewish school, the Collège et Lycée Ozar Hatorah. Now, photographers, cameramen and reporters are gathered in a crowd outside the cordoned-off building. Local residents, students and friends have placed flowers at the entrance, where the killer fired the first shots. “You will always be angels,” is written on one of the notes.

The four haven’t been the only ones to die. Three paratroopers of North African descent were killed recently as well as well as one of Caribean descent wounded. By the same perp.

This, obviously, reminds me of the German so-called Döner killings mentioned in the earlier post on the subject. Random shootings of immigrant small business owners, that could recently be traced back to a Nazi cell.

I dare to predict it is going to be a right wing Neo-Nazi behind this all. He will be, of course, a lone lunatic, as the three Germans behind the killings were lone lunatics, as Breivik was a lone lunatic and it has nothing at all to do with the fact, that hate speech and pandering to the right wing of politicians is making the Nazi’s sick views legitimate and sets the violence off. Nothing at all.

This is our open thread. Join us and yes, you may mention Illinois.

March 21st, UPDATE: The Washington Post has an UPDATE today.

The Watering Hole: March 19 — The San Juan Capistrano Swallows

From the Wiki:

The Cliff Swallow (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota) is a migratory bird that spends its winters in GoyaArgentina but makes the 6,000-mile (10,000 km) trek north to the warmer climes of the American Southwest in springtime. According to legend the birds, who have visited the San Juan Capistrano area every Summer for centuries, first took refuge at the Mission when an irate innkeeper began destroying their mud nests (the birds also frequent the Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo).[118] The Mission’s location near two rivers made it an ideal location for the swallows to nest, as there was a constant supply of the insects on which they feed, and the young birds are well-protected inside the ruins of the old stone church.

In addition to all that, it would have been my Mom’s 73rd birthday today.  She used to tell us about the swallows returning to Mission San Juan Capistrano each year, just for her birthday.  Happy Birthday, Mom!

This is our daily open thread – better late than never!

President Obama’s Weekly Address: Ending Oil Subsidies

Oil companies are some of the most profitable entities on this planet, and yet we give them billions of taxpayer dollars as subsidies.  Stop the insanity!

I do wish the President would stop using the words “foreign oil.”  It’s ALL foreign oil, even the stuff we pump out of the ground ourselves.  That might be nitpicky, but it’s only perpetuating the misinformed belief of many Americans that “drill baby drill” means less dependence on “foreign oil.”