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The original bill passed the (Republican-controlled) North Dakota Senate by a close vote of 25-22 and the (Republican) Governor of ND, Jack Dalrymple, announced he would sign it. The (Republican) North Dakota House decided to split it into two bills: One bill would prohibit discrimination against LGBT people in housing -- primarily aparments and rental units -- and in employment. The second bill would prohibit discrimination against LGBT people in public accommodations such as restaurants, bars, hotels, and various other businesses. But the North Dakota House of Representatives voted down both bills.

It's unfortunate. It's the third bill that came to a vote and failed to pass in the last six years. The situation is not quite as bad as Indiana. Several large corporations and the largest universities in the state have LGBT-friendly policies (including non-discrimination policies and offering insurance to spouses or partners). Also, the three largest cities in ND (Fargo, Bismarck, and Grand Forks) have passed various local ordinances that include LGBT people as a protected class, at least within the city limits. It's the rural areas that are the problem.

More details and links under the orange rainbow.

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Friday was the 13th. The second Friday the 13th in a row (because February has 28 days). Two months in a row! Saturday the 14th was a very historical pi day. Sunday the 15th (today) is the Ides of March (when Julius Caesar was assassinated). I'm not sure if Monday is important. And Tuesday the 17th is St. Patrick's Day.

If you need some excuses to get drunk in the next few days, here are some birthdays...

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Sat Mar 07, 2015 at 05:19 AM PST

"I Must Wait For That Small Baby"

by Dbug

Here’s a family story told to me by my grandfather's sister (Astrid Leiseth (Miller), aka "Austie") about her great grandmother Johanna (or Johanne), who was my mother's father's mother's mother's mother, Johanne Sofie Jensdatter Steen. My great aunt Astrid (we always called her "Austie") was my grandfather’s older sister. Incidentally, Austie was born 20 May 1904 in Moorhead, MN, and this story about her great grandmother's death happened on 22 May 1925, which means it happened just two days after Austie turned 21 years old.

More details under the delicious orange cronut

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Tue Mar 03, 2015 at 03:13 AM PST

North Dakota Bonanza Farms

by Dbug

From approximately 1875-1920, North Dakota had many (almost 100) large "bonanza farms," each with thousands or ten of thousands of acres, usually on land that was originally granted by the U.S. government to a railroad company in exchange for building a railroad (and then sold to a bonanza farmer -- or to a group of railroad investors who lived out of state).

After North Dakota became a state, the very first Governor elected was a bonanza farmer. John Miller was a Republican who helped write the ND state constitution and served as Governor of ND from 1889-1891. He then left politics to run his farm. Now, 116 years later, in 2015, the current ND Governor (Jack Dalrymple), also a Republican, is the descendant of a bonanza farmer (from a farm started by a distant cousin of Vice President Dick Cheney, believe it or not). There are Democrats with bonanza farm connections, too. In 2014, George B. Sinner ran and lost as the Democratic candidate for North Dakota's one and only at-large spot in the U.S. House of Representatives. He is the son of former ND Governor George A. Sinner, Governor of ND from 1985 to 1992. The Sinners are descendants of a bonanza farmer. They're Democrats, so they're the good guys.

I will begin with what economists call the Economic Panic of 1873 (connecting the Civil War to Wall Street to Railroads to Farms). It will eventually make sense if you keep reading. More below the orange squiggle.

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We in Minnesota have a Democratic Governor. Our Mark Dayton is a rich Democrat -- the heir of the family who started the Dayton's Department Stores and B. Dalton Bookstores and Target -- and he was educated at Yale, so he's actually pretty smart for a guy who inherited money. Citizens of Wisconsin have a Republican Governor (Scott Walker, who brags about dropping out of college). In Minnesota we have a balanced budget, partly because we raised taxes on the top earners. In Wisconsin, they cut taxes on rich people and are now scrambling to cut spending (including major cuts for the once proud University of Wisconsin (which breaks my heart)). More orange details below the squiggle. Or whatever. Lurid details below the orange squiggle.

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In Vermont, an eighth-grade girl who was studying Latin wrote a letter to the Minority Leader of the Vermont Senate suggesting that Vermont should have a Latin motto, in addition to --  but not replacing -- the official English motto ("Freedom and Unity"). So, the people involved came up with this:

Stella quarta decima fulgeat. The translation: “May the Fourteenth Star Shine Bright,” is a nod to Vermont’s status as the fourteenth state to join the union. Nice. Poetic in both languages.
So then the legislature passes a resolution, which takes very little time and costs no money. Right? Wrong. Guess what happened next?
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Mon Jan 12, 2015 at 07:49 PM PST

Cheap Gas Prices: Good or Bad?

by Dbug

Or could it maybe possibly be a little of both? My local gas station is selling gas for $1.89 a gallon, which is incredibly cheap. Here's a superficial analysis -- off the top of my head -- of why cheap gas is both good and bad, now and in the future, for people in America (and people across the world). There are several ways to think about it. Several angles. Consider the following arguments, to be found under the shining orange natural gas flare fire.

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There's a guy named Jim Wright who writes a blog called "Stonekettle Station." He's not the same Jim Wright who was a Democratic Congressman from Texas. Same name, different guy. This Jim Wright is US Navy (retired) and he lives in Alaska. Here are his thoughts about torture.

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At work on Wednesday, I had a break and went outside to smoke a cigarette and for some reason I remembered an excellent joke. As I stood there in the cold windy weather I was thinking about the Thanksgiving holiday which, to many people, is a time to give thanks to God, which is fine, but... then I was thinking about the way different beliefs in God separate people. Hindus in India don't always get along with Muslims. Protestants and Catholics killed each other for decades in Northern Ireland. Shiites are fighting Sunnis in the Middle East. Jews in Israel are not getting along very well with their Palestinian neighbors. All over the world, even in the U.S., there are conflicts based on religion.

Then I remembered this brilliant Emo Philips joke. Which I'll reveal beneath the orange squiggle of heresy.

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Yeah, it's a mixed metaphor, but whatever. Let's go back 60 years and look at what happened to the Senate during a President's eight years. I'll only look at Presidents who served all eight years (also Presidents who died/resigned and then were succeeded by a VP). If the President has big coat-tails when he's elected to his first term, there's a bigger backlash six years later in the President's final mid-term. Big coat-tails in a President's first election = more backlash six years later.

More under the orange squiggle. It's not complicated.

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A as in Alpha, B as in Bravo, C as in Charlie, blah blah blah. BORING! Today at work I was spelling out something on the phone (an email address) and my brain suddenly thought of "Z as in Zoroastrian." It seemed like a good idea at the time. Maybe it was the coffee and the energy drink in my brain.

I'm tired of the usual words. So here's my suggestion of religious words to replace alpha, bravo, charlie, etc.:

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I thought this was hilarious. It's typical of Republicans who often have no clue. Jeff Johnson, the Republican candidate for Governor of Minnesota says he wants to help the middle class and yet he can't define what the middle class is. More below the orange squiggle.

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