March 2011
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Month March 2011

This is real life, not the Onion

Arizona might be giving the anti-immigrant attacks a rest in its legislature, but out on the streets not much has changed. On Tuesday Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio announced the launch of “Operation Desert Sky,” an airborne version of his controversial crime sweeps. This time he wants to send 30 pilots into the air with M-16s and a .50-caliber machine gun so they can intercept people trying to cross the border.

“We’re going to use our automatic weapons if we have to, and I’m tired of my deputies having to chase these people and I’m sure the air posse will be able to spot these guys running as they do constantly from us,” Arpaio told Phoenix’s KSAZ.

Arpaio said Operation Desert Sky won’t distract normal law enforcement work because it will be staffed by citizen vigilantes and deputies from human smuggling and drug enforcement units.

Last week Arpaio took heat from locals for palling around with action star Steven Seagal and greenlighting an estimated $10,000 in equipment and staff time be used to go investigate a suspected cockfighting ring. Seagal rolled up to the suspect’s home in a tank, and crashed through the front wall of the man’s home.

(via Colorlines)

You’re On, My Friend

Extremely loud guy with group of friends: If you feed a chicken some chicken, it’s called forced cannibalism and is technically animal cruelty.
Taller, quieter guy: Why is it animal cruelty?
Extremely loud guy: If a species eats its own species, it will get something called a prion disease. It’s a degenerative brain thing most often, that’s where mad cow disease came from. It’s also why you’re not supposed to eat people. It’s not just because it’d be a dick move, you’d go crazy and probably eat more people. By the way, if you ever kill someone and want to kind of get away with it, eat them. You’ll get off on an insanity plea because of the prion disease.

–1 Train

(via Overheard in New York)

Mr. Speaker, tear down this pizza wall

New York has a new state budget. The $132.5 billion budget contains a 2 percent spending cut and eliminates $10 billion, with historic cuts to schools, public colleges, social service programs and health care.

The spending plan passed on time in the early hours of Thursday morning, but the news was overshadowed by noisy day-long protests at the Capitol.

… As dinnertime approached, tensions came to a head when state officials tried to deny the demonstrators the delivery of pizzas.

The protesters, who intended to stay overnight at the Capitol, were counting on 70 pizzas to sustain them through the night. But state troopers, who allowed legislative staff to have food delivered, at first denied the pizza delivery, leading to chants of “no pizza, no peace.”

Finally two Democratic Senators from the New York City, Kevin Parker and Bill Perkins, intervened.

(via WNYC, State Legislature Passes On-Time Budget Amid Protests)

How’d You Know?

Hippie chick: After choir, I’m going downtown for a five rhythms meeting.
Sleepy woman: Huh?
Hippie chick: Five rhythms. It’s like dance meditation.
Sleepy woman: Free your mind, and the rest will follow? That kinda shit?
Hippie chick: Yup. The rhythms are flowing, staccato, lyrical, chaos and stillness.
Sleepy woman: And with your powers combined, you make captain planet?

–A Train

(via Overheard in New York)

Mural of Maine’s Workers Becomes Political Target

Panels 7-9: The 1937 Strike, Francis Perkins, and Rosie the Riveter.

Panels 1-11.

Steven Greenhouse, Gov. Paul LePage Takes Aim at Mural to Maine’s Workers, N.Y. Times, Mar. 24, 2011, at A18.

Clashes at state capitols over organized labor have become commonplace this year, with protesters throughout the country objecting to proposed limits on collective bargaining and cuts in benefits. Maine’s governor, Paul LePage, has opened a new — and unlikely — front in the battle between some lawmakers and unions: a 36-foot-wide mural in the state’s Department of Labor building in Augusta.

The three-year-old mural has 11 panels showing scenes of Maine workers, including colonial-era shoemaking apprentices, lumberjacks, a “Rosie the Riveter” in a shipyard and a 1986 paper mill strike. Taken together, his administration deems these scenes too one-sided in favor of unions.

A spokeswoman said Mr. LePage, a Republican, ordered the mural removed after several business officials complained about it and after the governor received an anonymous fax saying it was reminiscent of “communist North Korea where they use these murals to brainwash the masses.”

Perigee Moon

“Indeed, contrary to some reports circulating the Internet, perigee Moons do not trigger natural disasters.”

On March 19th, a full Moon of rare size and beauty will rise in the east at sunset. It’s a super “perigee moon”–the biggest in almost 20 years.

“The last full Moon so big and close to Earth occurred in March of 1993,” says Geoff Chester of the US Naval Observatory in Washington DC. “I’d say it’s worth a look.”

Full Moons vary in size because of the oval shape of the Moon’s orbit. It is an ellipse with one side (perigee) about 50,000 km closer to Earth than the other (apogee): diagram. Nearby perigee moons are about 14% bigger and 30% brighter than lesser moons that occur on the apogee side of the Moon’s orbit.

(via Nasa)

I don’t know

Time to Choose, David Shrigley

Seat 29E

From Letters of Note:

Mid-flight on December 21st, 2004, a Continental Airlines passenger — “disgusted” with the location of his seat due to its proximity to the lavatory — humorously wrote the following letter of complaint to the airline’s headquarters. The now-infamous letter, complete with illustrations and vivid descriptions of the passenger’s stench-filled discomfort, found its way onto the Internet soon after being received by the company’s Customer Care department in April of 2005; and has since been confirmed as genuine by an apologetic company spokeswoman named Courtney Wilcox:

“The letter is not totally accurate and uses sarcastic humor to make the seat sound a lot worse than it is. But we don’t want to pooh-pooh this customer’s concerns — seat 29D is less than ideal. Most flights are not sold out and normally we can easily re-seat a customer who prefers not to sit in this location. However, the Dec. 21 flight was completely full, and we have apologized to the customer who wrote to us about the concerns. If there was a quick and easy solution to this problem we would do it in a whiz. However, the aircraft configuration is fixed and there is little we can do at this point to just flush away the issue.”

The victim’s identity remains a mystery.

Follow the link for the “now-infamous letter, complete with illustrations and vivid descriptions of the passenger’s stench-filled discomfort.”

The Time a British Man Mistook Daylight Saving Time for an Alien Abduction

I probably have a similar batch of confidential sketches circa 1986-87:

UK Ministry of Defense

The United Kingdom has released a few dozen formerly confidential UFO files, and along with some awesome sketches, like the one above of a pink crop-circle-making spaceship with ankh-shaped windows, they also contain some great UFO sighting fails. For example, in 1998 a London man spotted a UFO in the sky above his garden in the middle of the night (i.e., was wasted), then went to bed, and upon waking up realized that he had gained “a whole hour” of time. ”I am now beginning to wonder if I was abducted,” he told the Ministry of Defense. But no. It was daylight saving time.

(via New York Magazine and Telegraph UK)

NYCLU: Judge Rebuffs Bid to Learn Locations of NYPD Cameras

Mark Hamblett, Judge Rebuffs Bid to Learn Locations of NYPD Cameras, N.Y.L. J., Mar. 14, 2011, at 1.

The Department of Homeland Security does not have to reveal the locations of surveillance cameras installed as part of the Lower Manhattan Security Initiative, according to a federal judge.

Southern District Judge John G. Koeltl last week granted partial summary judgment for the government in a case brought under the Freedom of Information Act by the New York Civil Liberties Union.

The NYCLU has already obtained thousands of documents in New York Civil Liberties Union v. Department of Homeland Security, 09 Civ. 5325, as it tries to learn more about the security initiative by the New York City Police Department, which received a grant for the program from Homeland Security.