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6.Oct.2015 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Be very afraid Permalink to this item

Outfit named "Secure Freedom" (using ConservativeHQ's email list, as "one of our advertisers") really really really wants me to Take the Survey on Sharia Law in the United States and to scare the bejeezus out of me for good measure. No fewer than nine, count 'em grapho-buttons with the scary dude with an assault rifle and a middle-eastern look about him and some arabic script I can't decipher. Should Islam's Supremacist Shariah Be Allowed to Transform America? But I can't get past the fact that their logo looks like a cross between The Torch and The Donald.

The orange, white and blue version of their logo

It was not ever thus, as a bit of fingertip sleuthing shows this to be an effort from a 20-some year-old organization named the Center for Security Policy, with a website claiming existence for twenty-three years and twenty-five and a copyright notice claiming the twenty-eight years "1988-2015," with a different version of the logo in monochrome pale blue on dark blue and an image file named "new-branding-logo1.png" and some others on the about-us page with a useful orange hue, collected next to a banner of scaring flags for "Star Spangled Shariah," "Catastrophic Failure," "The Red-Green Axis" (probably not this Red Green), and on and on.

The brain child of one Frank Gaffney, there is no mistake about Shariah being one of its "research areas." They've got a website for "The Threat to America," and mapping Sharia, Secure Freedom Radio, etc. Gaffney's career in government looks to have peaked under Ronald Reagan, when he was Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Policy for seven months. Wikipedia styles Gaffney this morning as "an American conspiracy theorist" with a friendly smile under a penetrating gaze:

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) [which shows him slightly gimlet-eyed], Gaffney went "off the rails" sometime after being forced out at the Pentagon. The SPLC has described him as a formerly "respectable Washington insider" who has become "gripped by paranoid fantasies." According to the SPLC, Gaffney's beliefs stem from the discredited 1991 testimony of a lone Muslim Brotherhood member that he has come to believe is a "smoking gun, a mission statement pointing to a massive Islamist conspiracy under our noses."

David Keene of the American Conservative Union has contended that Gaffney "has become personally and tiresomely obsessed with his weird belief that anyone who doesn't agree with him on everything all the time or treat him with the respect and deference he believes is his due, must be either ignorant of the dangers we face or, in extreme case, dupes of the nation's enemies."

So, ah, I guess I'll pass on the survey jump.

5.Oct.2015 Permanent URL to this day's entry

And speaking of completely random Permalink to this item

Google accidentally put their own domain name up for sale and this MBA candidate took a flyer and dropped $12 for the privilege of being king of the world for a few minutes. Probably just as well they figured it out and yanked it back. Sanmay Ved would've been mighty busy trying to keep up with the customer support requests.

More along the old-fashioned LinkedIn content Permalink to this item

photo just this morning

My attention for business news is "relaxed" these days, but I was piqued by something about RBI governor and repo rates and 6.75% and 4% and wondered whether it was a baseball story or if it was something from another country and took that jump to find Vipul Patel of LION, the founder of Mortgage World and (a?) Home Loan Advisor and E N T R E P R E N E U R writing in bad translation style: "About a two years ago most banks were lending Home Loan at 10.75% to 11.00% range." RBI governor Raghuram Rajan, that's gotta be... somewhere else. See if you can follow the bouncing verb tense in this:

"The Urban Middle Class in the age group of 30-40 would experience a change in home loan eligibility and budget which doubles the purchasing power over the past 3 years.

"A salaried individual aged 30 years with a salary of 15 Lacs & savings of 15 lacs could have bought a house worth 75 to 90 lacs in early 2013, but nothing was available for this budget; then and even now."

Lacs, you say? Sounds like currency of some sort, and yes, and no: Lakh is actually a convenient multiplier of 100,000 for your rupees, written 1,00,000 in the Indian convention of digit grouping. It's fascinating, instructive and incomprehensible all at once. It also looks like the Wikipedia page needs updating for the colloquial forms and usage, as illustrated by Mr. Patel.

LinkedIn suddenly relevant Permalink to this item

Or at least catchy as all get-out in my inbox. I've been pretty good at keeping my response to eye-rolling rather than actually hitting the click bait, but this morning's email feed had me snapping every which way. "I Became a Trending Topic for the Wrong Reasons" was the top item which sounded interesting until the rest of it was "Here's why we [sic] need Peeple, the Positivity App I'm Building" and it was by the CEO of the Peeple App [sic]. Another app, meh.

But then senior editor John Abell's Daily Pulse gave me the backstory with an irresistable second item headline (after I'd jumped for peace breaking out beween Google and Microsoft, who've apparently settled a patent dispute).

Soylent Green is Peeple Another reputational service is trying to break through, but the pre-launch backlash is so intense, Peeple may never live it down. As initially sketched out, anyone using "Yelp for People" would be able to start a rating page on anyone else — no opt-out. What could possibly go wrong? “If you turn what should be an Onion article into an app, you're not a startup, you're a sociopath,” one random Twitter person suggested. Another: “so #peeple is what happens when two popular mean girls from your high school grow up & decide to make a slam book for the entire world?” The founders (two women, though surely not mean girls in high school) are having second thoughts, but the official launch is still scheduled for November.

The must-have app that was built on blurting of 140 or fewer characters now has pictures and stuff (you must've known this), and offers a sneak peek of the cute, parrot-based, lower-cased "peeple" logo, with the curiously just-clipped subhead "Character is Destin" and the whoops that's gratuitous "An app for the People" sub-subhead. Abhimanyu Ghoshal got a head start on Monday morning's top news because maybe he's on the other side of the dateline. Peeple's CEO and author of the LinkedIn piece ok maybe I should read it for the whole story decided it needed some changes before launch (like, um, everything does?) and now it's pointless because it's only positive. No everybody in with no opt-out, no instant defamation with 48-hour waiting period to remove negative comments and hell, "There is no way to even make negative comments." Yeah, that's D.O.A.

See, all LinkedIn needed was better headline writing.

Also, if I'd watched John Oliver's Last Week Tonight, I would've already known "that sounds awful." ("Have you ever been on the internet?") And that this has been going on for most of a week. Is there an international weekline?

3.Oct.2015 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Did he say that out loud? Permalink to this item

A funny thing happened to Kevin McCarthy on his way to becoming Speaker of the House; he mistook the friendly audience of a Fox News studio and partisan hack Sean Hannity for a confessional, and bragged up how effectively the Benghazi Committee helped tank Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers.

Indignation ensued! Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee (most recently newsworthy for his dud infographic torpedo aimed at Planned Parenthood), "doubled down Thursday on his call for McCarthy to apologize for his Benghazi remarks, calling them “absolutely inappropriate” and “absolutely wrong” during an appearance on MSNBC," Scott Wong reports for The Hill. There is "confusion," not really cleared up by the Majority Leader's attempts to undo.

McCarthy returned to Fox News on Thursday night to walk back his comments. He said he already told Gowdy he regretted his statement and insisted the gaffe would not hurt his chance to become Speaker.

"It was never my intention to ever imply that this committee was political. Because we all know it is not. And it has one sole purpose: Let's find the truth wherever the truth takes us," McCarthy told host Bret Baier. "And you know what? Sometimes truth comes out, and other manners, and let's not let politics hold that back."

We all know it is not? Ha ha ha. But yeah, sometimes truth comes out.

McCarthy's flown under my political radar while he's been #2 under Boehner, but it appears that he could be spilling quite a few more beans in the days to come, going by Dana Milbank's assessment of McCarthy's challenges with the language.

"McCarthy’s difficulties were particularly alarming, both because he was mostly reading from a text and because he’s about to enter a very public glare in which his every word, or attempted word, will be analyzed. With the death of Yogi Berra, the new speaker may become the most famous mis-speaker in America."

The "good news" is that if he does manage to bumble to election as Speaker, "his colleagues won't be listening to him anyway"; "the backbenchers are used to leading their leaders," and how in the world is this guy going to keep from getting railroaded by the No to Everything end of the caucus if he can't navigate a prepared text?

Your tax dollars at work Permalink to this item

Something about a hurricane, viewed from outside our planet's atmosphere... a feast of images from the International Space Station, with Joaquin at the top of the page, but lots more to amaze down the page. Super typhoon Maysak from 6 months ago, for example, is a jaw-dropper.

They're not stinting on the pixels, either. Joaquin's portrait is available in its full 4928 x 3280 glory, a bit grainy in the vast storm, but plenty to look at around the scene. The night lights and edge of the envelope, for example:

NASA image from the International Space Station, link to original

2.Oct.2015 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Yellow river Permalink to this item

Forgive the headline writer for the "watershed moment," and enjoy a more interesting report after the Gold King mine blowout and the Animas River running an other-wordly yellow into web newsrooms all across the internet. No question it was a blunder and P.R. nightmare for the EPA, but there's this, to set the context:

"Silverton residents have another term for the color Cement Creek turned in the mine blowout’s aftermath: familiar. Every spring, during peak runoff, Cement Creek – and in turn, a portion of the Animas River downstream – run almost that same turbid, nasty hue.

"It’s the nature of the place.

"From its headwaters in the shadow of the Red Mountains, Cement Creek plummets past a cluster of leaky old mine adits on the slopes of Bonita Peak in the upper reaches of the Cement Creek drainage, passing right beneath the now-infamous Gold King Mine."

And on through a ghost town, and past the water treatment plant that's been dismantled and six more miles to Silverton, Colorado, draining "one of the most heavily mineralized and volcanized patches of the earth’s crust."

In addition to it being a regular thing, it's not as terrible as it looks (assuming you're not a fish or desperately thirsty). It probably is on the Superfund scale of trouble, and maybe this episode will convince Silverton to stop resisting that designation. Or maybe not. Either way, it's a fascinating, long story about the legacy and future of the wild west.

1.Oct.2015 Permanent URL to this day's entry

Jobs search Permalink to this item

Funny that Carly Fiorina should bring up her palling around with Steve Jobs as a badge of honor. Oh right, he'd been fired from his job, too, "twice." Steve Levy's interesting take on how Jobs fleeced Fiorina proceeds dryly:

"Unlike Jobs, however, Fiorina did not go on to start a company, buy another small company and sell it for billions, or return to the place that fired her and restore it to glory. But the point of the story was that Steve was on her side, and by aligning herself with the sainted innovator, Fiorina racked up triple-bonus debate points.

As if. Her post-firing career has been primarily about self-aggrandizement (which, ok, she shared the penchant for that with Jobs), and little else. There is no tangible (let alone durable) innovation that she or anyone else can point to that came out of her brief stint at the top of Hewlett Packard. And no, giving her "triple-bonus debate points" in a field of smaller-than-life contenders to the GOP nomination does not count.

The Pope and mis-messaging Permalink to this item

The National Catholic Reporter's Vatican correspondent has some unanswered questions about how in the world Pope Francis had that arranged meeting with the newsy County Clerk from Kentucky. Read through that before you enjoy the palace intrigue speculation from Charles Pierce, for Esquire about whether Pope Francis was swindled into the meeting. He makes it sound amply plausible and amply intriguing.

I like the part about how it was an ABC reporter who just happened to ask that make-believe "generic" question about consciencious objection on the plane ride home, and then ABC worked up an "exclusive" with "noted civic layabout Kim Davis." Maybe just a coincidence, eh.

Retired Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire, and Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress Gene Robinson elucidates the difference between Kim Davis and a conscientious objector. Time's subhead is that the Pope "picked the wrong messenger for this lesson," but the evidence isn't very good that this was the Pope's choice. Never mind the chip on his shoulder (understandably, over being labeled "intrinsically disordered") or whether the Pope was mishandled, his point's a good one:

"Kim Davis has a constitutional right to her opinion, but she does not have a constitutional right to stay in a job whose duties she is unwilling to perform."

Update: More responses from spokesmen (they're always men, eh?) as the Pope and his people walk back the jolly inference of "validates everything" that Davis told ABC News. No. Not even. Per the statement:

"Pope Francis met with several dozen persons who had been invited by the Nunciature to greet him as he prepared to leave Washington for New York City. Such brief greetings occur on all papal visits and are due to the Pope's characteristic kindness and availability. The only real audience granted by the Pope at the Nunciature was with one of his former students and his family.

"The Pope did not enter into the details of the situation of Mrs. Davis and his meeting with her should not be considered a form of support of her position in all of its particular and complex aspects."

The religion that Davis came upon recently is not even the Pope's; story says the rather generic brand of "Apostolic Christian," adding another layer of weirdness. She wasn't interested in keeping the rosaries the Pope gave her, but her Catholic parents will appreciate the hand-me-downs, presumably.


Tom von Alten
ISSN 1534-0007