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Fri Feb 27, 2015 at 06:23 PM PST

Remembering Leonard Nimoy

by CleverNickName

Normally, I’m pretty good with words. At the moment, I’m not at my best, for reasons I hope are self evident. However, I’m going to do my best to remember someone who gave more to my life than he ever knew.

I never got to know Leonard Nimoy the way my fellow cast members did, so I can’t remember him in the personal way that they can. I didn’t know Leonard as a friend, or even as a colleague. I can’t tell you what he was like off the set, because I never had the privilege of visiting with him off the set. In fact, by the time he worked on Next Generation, my character was off exploring other planes of existence, and I was a nineteen year-old kid who was stumbling around, trying to figure out what he was going to do with the rest of his life.

When you are part of the Star Trek family — and that’s what it is, in ways that are as wonderful and complicated as all families are — you are part of a very small and special group, where news travels fast. Though I never got to be close to Leonard, I knew that he was a wonderful and lovely man, because that’s all anyone ever said about him. I feel that I haven’t earned the right to eulogize him, but a lot of people are asking me to, so if you’ll allow me a few minutes of your time, I’d like to do my best to remember Leonard the way most of us will be remembering him today: as the actor who played a character who was deeply important to all of our lives, because everyone who watched and loved Star Trek is part of our extended family.

When I was a kid, long before I put on Wesley Crusher’s sweaters or piloted the Enterprise, I loved Star Trek. I watched it all the time in syndication on our black and white television, and when the other kids at school wanted to play CHiPs or the A-Team on the playground, I wanted to turn the jungle gym into the Enterprise. On those rare occasions that I convinced my classmates that we were boldly going toward new worlds on lunch recess, one of the Cool Kids would claim the role of Captain Kirk, and I would always happily assume the role of Mister Spock.

I was too young to fully understand why, but as I got older and looked back on those years, it became clear: I identified with Spock because he was weird, and cerebral, and he was different from everyone else. He was just like me, but the things that made me a target of ridicule on the playground made him a valuable and vital member of his ship’s crew. In ways that I couldn’t articulate at the time, I wanted to be Mister Spock because if I was, I could be myself –quiet, bookish, alien to the people around me — and it wouldn’t be weird. It would be awesome.

When I was cast to play Wesley Crusher, and became part of the Star Trek family, one of the first things I got excited about was meeting Mister Spock, and the actor who played him. It never happened, really, so I never got to know the man behind the ears and the eyebrows and the character that meant so much to me. But as I said on Twitter this morning, we in the Next Generation stood upon his shoulders, and we got to explore a universe that wouldn’t have existed without him. I’ve met thousands of people over the last decade, who have told me that Wesley Crusher meant the same thing to them that Mister Spock meant to me, and for that I am eternally grateful to everyone who was part of Star Trek before I was, including Leonard.

Mister Spock made it okay for me to be the weird kid who eventually grew into a slightly-less weird adult, but it was Leonard Nimoy who made Mister Spock live, and who made Star Trek — and every science fiction TV series since 1966 — possible.

Thank you, Leonard, for making it okay to be me, and for making it possible for me to explore brave new worlds, and boldly go where you had gone before. I wish I’d gotten to know you the way so many others did, because everyone says you were as awesome and wonderful as I hoped you would be. Rest in peace, sir.

(Crossposted from my blog at wilwheaton.net)

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My friend, Zoë Keating, is a musician, wife and mother. Recently, her husband was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. He is Vegan, and has never smoked anything in his life.

Zoë writes:

On May 13 an MRI found 20 tumors in my husbands brain. On May 15 he could barely breathe and was in a lot of pain. A CT scan that day revealed he had a softball-sized tumor in his lung, tumors in his other lung, his liver and possibly his bones. On our way home from the imaging center our primary care doc called and told us to turn around and get to the hospital right away. My husband was admitted and they promptly removed more than a pint of fluid from his lungs, which helped him breathe better. We were there for 6 days while they performed a bronchoscopy, did more scans, gave him drugs to stop his brain from swelling and administered emergency chemo.
Zoë and Jeff submitted their claim to their health insurance provider, Anthem Blue Cross. Their claim was reviewed by an OB-GYN instead of an Oncologist for some reason, and that person decided to deny their claim:
"Coverage for the requested service is denied because the service does not meet the criteria for “medical necessity” under your description of benefits. To assist our Medical Director in making this decision, we have put a process in place to send all information about the service to a clinical reviewer with appropriate credentials. Based on their opinion, we have determined that covered for the requested service is denied. Our Medical Reviewer Layma Jarjour MD has determined we cannot approve your hospital stay for cancer. We do not have enough facts to show that it was medically necessary. "
Jeff was admitted to the hospital because he had cancerous tumors all over his fucking body, his lungs were filling with fluid, and if he was not admitted, he. Would. Die. For some reason, Medical Reviewer Layma Jarjour MD decided that this was not "medically necessary."

If putting someone into the hospital to save their life because their lungs are filling with fluid and that person will die if they are not treated immediately is not "medically necessary", what is?!

Zoë pointed out that "Anthem is owned by WellPoint. Did you know Wellpoint CEO Joseph Swedish earned almost $17 million during his first year on the job? Now you know how they can afford to pay him."

I hope that, by shining some light on this, Anthem Blue Cross will reverse its decision, and honor their claim. They are suffering enough right now, and don't need this crap.

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I heard it on Twitter, and I can't believe it's happening:

On Tuesday evening, CNBC reporter David Farber tweeted that Comcast would announce its purchase of Time Warner Cable on Wednesday morning, according to unnamed sources. The deal would be an “all stock deal” with Comcast paying $159 per share, about $23 per share higher than Time Warner's stock is currently trading.

Barrons reports that Time Warner Cable has 277.9 million shares outstanding, putting the deal at $44.2 billion. The Wall Street Journal's sources report a higher number, saying that the deal to be announced tomorrow will total $45.2 billion.

The nation's two biggest cable companies, merging into a giant monopolistic behemoth ... what could possibly go wrong?

Here are representatives from Time Warner and Comcast, when reached for comment:

And here's an interesting footnote, from Brian Stelter on Twitter: "...Timely example: David Cohen, Comcast's head of lobbying, corporate communications, etc was a guest at the WH state dinner last night."

It's ... it's almost like money is more important than the public interest, but that's just CRAZY.

... isn't it?

Discuss

Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 03:06 PM PDT

OMG SEXTING

by CleverNickName

Nobody fucking cares, and there are real things happening in the world that actually affect people.

Weiner may or may not be the best candidate for NYC mayor, but it's his policies that matter. Grow up, media.

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In 2008, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell declared that his top priority was to ensure that Barack Obama was a one-term president. In his failed pursuit of that goal, he has led his party to unprecedented obstructionism, abusing the filibuster to bring all Senate business to a halt.

In the 2012 election, Americans overwhelmingly re-elected President Obama, cast more votes for Democrats than Republicans, and increased the Democratic majority in the Senate.

Millions of Democratic voters urged Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to change the Senate rules in response to Senate Republican’s unprecedented filibuster abuse.

Unfortunately, Senator Reid ignored the warnings of his own party and the Democratic base. Unfortunately, Senator Reid reached a meaningless agreement with Senator McConnell that has done nothing to restore the rights of the majority. The Senate is as dysfunctional as ever, and Senate Republicans are even filibustering cabinet nominees for the first time in history.

Senator Reid has threatened to revisit the rules several times since the toothless agreement was reached and Republican obstructionism continued, but so far nothing has changed. In fact, a small group of Republican senators, representing less than 11% of the population, is capable of completely controlling all Senate business. Due to this historical abuse of the filibuster, a minority of Republican Senators frequently goes further than just preventing votes on bills: they don't even allow bills to be debated. This is wrong. This is undemocratic, and it needs to stop.

It’s time to tell Senator Reid we told you so, Harry.

It's easy to be cynical and think that nothing will ever change, but you miss one hundred percent of the shots you don't take, and we have to try something. Please visit this website my friend Sean and I made, and send Senator Reid a postcard demanding he take action to restore the rights of the majority in the Senate, so that unprecedented Republican obstructionism is no longer able to prevent the governing of America.

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This is absolutely infuriating. A tiny, tiny, statistically-meaningless group of radical extremists are deliberately making life more dangerous for all of us who live in this country.

TPM:

Even the most popular gun control measures seem to be going nowhere in the Senate.

Despite a concerted push from President Obama, Democratic leaders see no clear path to securing the 60 votes needed to break a promised Republican filibuster and ensure passage of legislation mandating background checks for gun purchases. Along with getting no help from Republicans, numerous Democrats facing re-election next year are skittish.

Reid can use a procedural option and open debate on the bill with 50 votes, thanks to a temporary provision in the bipartisan rules change enacted in January. That would guarantee Republicans two amendments, which they’ll likely use to poison the legislation, but Democrats could defeat those amendments with 41 votes — not a hard task. But even then, they’ll need 60 votes to end debate and proceed to a final up-or-down vote on the legislation. And that’s why Republicans are so confidently forecasting failure for the bill.

“I think that legislation is going nowhere,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told CNN on Sunday.

The same day on NBC, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) called the idea of mandatory background checks for gun purchases “a bridge too far” — even as nine in 10 Americans say they support it.

90% of Americans support comprehensive background checks for gun purchases. Put ten people in a room, and one of them opposes. Just one. If you had ten people in a room, nine of them wanted to pass a law, and one of them didn't, what would happen in a democracy?

Oh, that's right. In a democracy, the majority rules. Last time I checked, 90% wasn't just a majority ... it was an overwhelming majority.
Congress has a responsibility to reflect the will of the American people, and any representative or senator who does not work to pass background check legislation is violating his or her duty to his or her constituents.

Dear Congress: you were elected to govern, and to heed the will of the American People. The American People have spoken as loudly and clearly as we ever have about anything, and your refusal to hear us is sickening, and un-American.

And Harry Reid, and the Dinosaur Democrats who refused to do anything about filibuster reform? We told you so. We told you so, and you should be ashamed of yourselves, you cowards.

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I was just thinking last night about how great it would be if President Obama cared as much about protecting Medicare and Medicaid as he cares about making a fucking "grand bargain" with lunatics who have a 10% approval rating from the country.

I keep thinking about how great it would be of the Obama the GOP keeps talking about -- the one who wants to give universal healthcare to Americans, strongly regulate industry, and ensure everyone has a fair shot to make something out of their lives even if they're not born rich and white -- was actually our President. I mean, that's the guy the majority of Americans voted for in 2012, and it would be great if he showed up. Or existed at all.

But this guy, who refuses to hold the torturers and Wall Street criminals accountable (but punishes whistleblowers) claims the right to assassinate any American, anywhere, without due process (but won't tell Americans why), and cares more about making a deal with  a party that refuses to accept anything other than what a Romney presidency would have given us (something resoundingly rejected by voters)? This guy sucks. At this point, Occam's Razor says that Barack Obama isn't getting rolled or negotiating against himself. Occam's Razor says that he is this guy, and that's a profound disappointment.

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Greg Sargent:

Norman Ornstein, an observer of Congress for decades, literally wrote the book on GOP obstructionism. So I asked him what he thought of the disappointing filibuster reform deal reached today between Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell. His reply:
“To avoid disruption right now, they opted for greater efficiency in the operation of the Senate, rather than providing a much higher hurdle for obstructionism. They are going to make it easier to move things, but they are not extracting a price for bad behavior right now.”
This is exactly the problem. Today’s reforms do nothing to discourage, or extract any price whatsoever for, precisely the type of unprecedented and destructive party-wide obstructionism that launched the push for reform in the first place.
This is why I’m so angry with Harry Reid and the Dinosaur Democrats in the Senate who are too timid to do a fucking thing to reform the way they do things in the upper chamber.

The GOP has learned over and over again, going all the way back to fucking Watergate though Iran Contra to stealing the 2000 election to torture to the endless fucking list of abuses of power by the Bush/Cheney administration that they can do literally any goddamn thing they want, and there will never, ever, be any consequences for it (except maybe a primary challenge from an even crazier right wing lunatic because they weren’t crazy enough.)

The GOP House and much of the Senate behave like spoiled bratty children, and not even the Democrats who have the fucking majority -- increased after the last election -- will be the adults in the room. It's sickening.

This pathetic excuse I keep hearing that it sets a bad precedent and would be used against a Democratic minority is infuriating.

Does anyone really believe that the very same GOP that wants to rig the electoral college and gerrymandered their way into a House majority despite clearly losing the popular vote, would never use the “so-called nuclear option” to change the rules of the Senate at their first opportunity?!

This is why Democrats consistently lose: they don’t even bring a knife to a gunfight; they show up to the gunfight and hope that saying “please” will stop the bullets.

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Greg Sargent:

And so the current Republican demand, as I understand it, is that Dems must agree to Social Security cuts and a higher income threshold for the lower tax rates (either $400,000 or $500,000, depending on the source), in exchange for  an extension of middle class tax cuts (which Republicans also want) and an extension of unemployment benefits. If Dems don’t give up those things, while allowing Republicans to retain their debt ceiling leverage, taxes go up on everybody and unemployment benefits expire for over two million Americans.

Why would Democrats agree to Social Security cuts and lower tax rates on many wealthy households even as Republicans hold on to their leverage to extract still more in spending cuts later? No wonder a Dem aide described this as a “serious setback.”

When will the goddamn Democrats learn that the GOP is not now and has not been negotiating in good faith?

The American People overwhelmingly support the White House position in polling now (and at the polls last month). At this point, the Democrats and the White House should tell the GOP to go fuck themselves, dare them to vote no on an extension of unemployment and lower tax rates for people earning less than $250,000 a year, and then use the new senate and house that we elected in response to years of GOP obstructionism to get something new done on or about January 3.

There isn’t going to be a Grand Bargain. There never was going to be a Grand Bargain. These people are nihilists, Donnie.

At this point, we don't need to remind McConnell and Boehner that they lost. We need to remind Reid and President Obama that they won.

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Not The Onion: Barbara Boxer, one of the most liberal and wonderful Democratic Senators in the country, in the bluest state of them all, wants to put the National Guard into our public schools.

Days after California’s liberal Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer gave an impassioned floor speech saying that big steps must be taken to stop gun violence that is killing 87 people a day across America, she proposed a bill to give governors power to deploy National Guard troops in public schools—or assign them to local police departments, freeing them to put police in schools.

“Is it not part of the national defense to make sure that your children are safe?” Boxer said at a press conference, where she unveiled the Save Our Schools Act.

This. Is. Insane.

There is overwhelming evidence that this idea will never work. Reality-based humans correctly mocked and ridiculed this idea when it was floated by the NRA, and I'm just baffled as to why Senator Boxer -- who I've voted for in every election since I was able -- would suggest such a thing.

It's bad enough that we have the corporatist pseudodemocrat Dianne Feinstein to deal with here in California, but I've always been able to rely on Senator Boxer to be a strong liberal voice and advocate for our causes.

I would love to know exactly what she's thinking, and I hope to find out when I call her first thing in the morning.

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I don't think I've ever agreed with David Frum about anything, but his Twitter tonightpretty much nails it:

He has screen after screen of entries like this, with links to every tragic example of entirely avoidable gun violence that the NRA thinks could be simply solved with even more guns.

It's a pretty powerful statement, from someone who I would never expect to make it.

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If I may be indulged in a bit of paraphrasing:

Obama: I tried to change Washington on my own so it would work for the American People again, but I couldn't do it because Republicans refused to work with me and the Democrats in Congress. I was able to accomplish some pretty good things, though, because the American People wanted those things done, and they pressured Congress to act. If I get a second term, I want and need the American People to be even more involved in governing our country.

Romney: AH-HA! GAFFE! HE SAID YOU CAN'T CHANGE WASHINGTON! HE ADMITS HE'S A FAILURE FOR PETE'S SAKE! MARVELOUS!

American People: Um, that's not what he said at all, Mitt.

Romney: FORTY-SEVEN PERCENT OF YOU NEED TO SHUT UP AND KNOW YOUR PLACE. AREN'T YOU PAYING ATTENTION?! IT! WAS! A! GAFFE!

American People: Are you really saying it's a gaffe to suggest that American People get more involved in the governing of our country?

Ann Romney: You people need to realize this was a gaffe, you people.

Romney: YES! GAME CHANGER! MARVELOUS!

American People: This is why you're going to lose, jack ass.

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