Serena Williams pokes French tennis stiffs in the eye with her tutu

❝ For the stylish 23-time Grand Slam champion’s first match of the 2018 U.S. Open, Williams sported a one-shoulder black athletic tennis dress with a ballerina-esque tutu skirt. The outfit was created by Louis Vuitton and Off-White designer Virgil Abloh…

❝ Williams, who emerged from her first round of the US Open victorious, made headlines for her on-court fashion just days earlier after French Tennis Federation president Bernard Giudicelli told Tennis Magazine that the catsuit that Williams wore to the tournament this year will “no longer be accepted…one must respect the game and the place.”

Every sport has the odd official more concerned with conformity to social norms than experiments which may advance the skill of athletes. Serena answered the French Federation’s Grande Poobah with style and humor.

Snapshots of British eccentricity

Click to enlargeDavid Levenson

For his new collection Slightly Unusual, documentary photographer David Levenson has caught moments of ordinarily surreal British life. He describes each photo in these captions, adding: ‘I try never to be cruel to my subjects. They are just glimpses of everyday life. The sort of thing about which non-photographers might say to each other: “Did you see that?”’

This photo will never leave my brain. I have no recollection of when I first saw this photo; but, this could have been my mom – or my dad. Both were guilty of the same fixation on puzzles and cigarettes.

You needn’t be a Brit to be eccentric.

How to become a real American citizen – overeat and overreact

Click to enlarge – which you must if you’re a Real AmericanAJ Mast/AP

The White House has announced a new campaign to encourage immigrants living in the United States legally to attain citizenship ahead of next year’s presidential election. Here are some ideas to help them speed up the complicated naturalization process.

Attain Median Obesity

The United States has one of the highest obesity rates in the world, so anyone interested in joining up better start packing on the pounds if they want to fit in. The message on the Statue of Liberty mentions “huddled masses yearning to breathe free”, but if that breath isn’t a sort of wheeze you’re going to stand out like a sore thumb. Sure, fattening up will put you at risk for a variety of health problems, but there’s nothing more typically American than dying due to an inability to navigate our complicated and expensive health system.

Provide proof of overwhelming debt

Being an American means investing in the American economy well past the point of responsibility. This is an easy one to pull off, actually – whenever you’re about to make a purchase, check if they have a bigger version of what you’re interested in buying. If they don’t make it in a larger size, order two. The sweat that pours off your brow upon receiving your next credit card statement is watering the tree of liberty…

Become blind to America’s faults and respond to criticism with extreme outrage

Americans are all about freedom of speech as long as that speech it is their own, especially in this golden era of knee-jerk reactions where it’s possible to post comments and tweets faster than you experience moments of introspection. If you want to be an American citizen, learn how to react now and ask questions never, since asking questions is for people from countries founded upon much less invigorating rhetoric.

RTFA for a few more sections – probably obvious to you – otherwise you wouldn’t have read this far. 🙂

This is stuff I figured out when I was about 17 years old. After 60 years of activism the analysis hasn’t especially changed. Don’t get me wrong. A lot has changed – and it wouldn’t have if we left things in the hands of folks like those in this article. It took lots of folks outside the boundaries of convention and conformity to bring progressive change.

We’re still on the outside.

Americans say they go to church about 25% more often than they really do

The United States has long been unusually religious for an affluent, industrialized Western nation — in survey after survey, Americans report relatively high levels of belief in God, affiliation with religious institutions and participation in worship services.

But counting churchgoers has always been a bit tricky. Some congregations tend to over-report attendance, seeking to demonstrate vitality. Others are more scrupulous, especially in denominations where churches pay assessments based on size. And it’s been evident for years that Americans tend to overstate their own religiosity: There is a persistent gap between the number of people who claim to go to worship services and the number who can actually be counted in pews.

The gap grows more striking as America becomes more secular. In recent years, poll after poll has found more Americans who do not identify with a religious tradition, and many denominations show evidence of decline. And yet, Americans continue to report high levels of belief and participation — more than 90 percent of Americans say they believe in God or a universal spirit, and nearly 40 percent report weekly attendance at a worship service, numbers that have remained relatively unchanged for decades.

What’s going on? A new study, released Saturday, suggests that the gradual secularization of the nation has not eliminated the perceived social desirability of going to church, and the result is that Americans exaggerate their religious behavior. That exaggeration is more pronounced among some groups — Catholics, mainline Protestants and, strikingly, the unaffiliated, meaning that even people willing to say they don’t belong to a religious tradition still feel compelled to exaggerate their attendance at worship services…

People appear especially unwilling to say that they “seldom or never” go to worship services. In the phone interviews, only 30 percent described themselves that way, whereas in the online survey 43 percent acknowledged rare attendance. The effect continues even with the unaffiliated: In interviews, 73 percent say they seldom or never attend religious services, but online that number is 91 percent.

Yup. Take me back to the 1950’s. The important description of the corruption of conformity – is what people feel required to be the standard of conformity. The consistent best example in American history alongside going to war.

Consider not only the advertising job inflicted on the populace in general by virtually all politicians and pundits. As far as they’re concerned you’re not capable of providing leadership unless you say “God bless the United States of America” at the end of every speech. Look around at every institution and which are tax-free? Even if they offer no special impetus to the progress of the whole nation?

Little wonder that folks generally are embarrassed to tell the truth about their own conclusions on science, reality and some invisible white guy in the clouds.

NSA surveillance achieves what every dictator loves – self censorship


Many groups have claimed that the NSA’s surveillance program is an unconstitutional violation of privacy. But a different type of challenge is growing teeth. Led by civil liberties group the Electronic Frontier Foundation, more than 20 organizations, with interests ranging from marijuana to guns, are currently suing the federal government. They believe the NSA surveillance program has a chilling effect on speech, thus violating the First Amendment.

…the PEN American Center, a group that defends free expression and human rights, managed to get a sense of its scope. Of the more than 500 writers they surveyed, one in six said they had avoided writing or speaking about a certain topic, and almost one in four reported that they had self-censored via e-mail or on the phone.

In the survey, which was conducted online by the public opinion research firm the FDR Group, writers expressed wariness about researching and writing on national security, the Middle East, the drug wars, liberal organizing like the Occupy movement, and child abuse and child pornography. Sixteen percent of survey respondents said they refrained from conducting Internet searches or visiting websites on topics that may be considered controversial or suspect…

“I think people were afraid that something would put them on a watch list, impede their ability to travel,” Suzanne Nossel, the executive director of the PEN American Center, told America Tonight. “Writers who have an immigration status that gets reviewed periodically on some occasions expressed concern.”

One PEN member described undergoing two special security searches on the U.S.-Mexico border last summer, and discovering that he or she (the respondents were anonymous) was on a government list. The member believes it’s because of an essay he or she wrote about finding a poem on a Libyan Jihad website, and seeing how its message “might be a comfort to jihadists…”

By far the greatest concern, however, was about communicating with sources abroad. Thirty-nine percent reported they thought it was “very likely” that a phone call made to a region of the world known to be hostile to the U.S. would be recorded.

…Americans care a whole lot about freedom. In fact, if any value could be called the country’s core, freedom of speech would probably win. And – “the uber-users of free expression,” as Nossel puts it — the authors, the journalists – are especially concerned about the NSA’s reach. Sixty-six percent of PEN’s survey respondents disapprove of the NSA’s surveillance apparatus…

Freedom of speech is also a powerfully bipartisan rallying cry. In June, the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit against the NSA, claiming the mass collection of phone records undermined both privacy and freedom of association. In September, the NRA filed a legal brief in support, expressing its concern that the NSA could track its members, potential members and supporters, “potentially chilling their willingness to communicate with the NRA.”

“In some ways, it doesn’t matter how many members it is. Once it’s one person, it’s unconstitutional.”

The games these creeps play are endlessly devious and corrupt. One of their favorites I became accustomed to – once the FBI learned I wouldn’t provide them info on folks opposing the VietNam War – they’d go to less experienced, newer, younger activists to ask questions about my activities. They made it seem as threatening as they could to me; but, the intent was to intimidate those just starting to question the Establishment.

The tactic often had the desired effect on young folks just setting out on a career and trying to bring their conscience along with them.

Our government is monitoring Main Street America

A detailed, in-depth report from the Washington POST on the state of surveillance – your government keeping an eye on you:

Nine years after the terrorist attacks of 2001, the United States is assembling a vast domestic intelligence apparatus to collect information about Americans, using the FBI, local police, state homeland security offices and military criminal investigators.

The system, by far the largest and most technologically sophisticated in the nation’s history, collects, stores and analyzes information about thousands of U.S. citizens and residents, many of whom have not been accused of any wrongdoing.

The government’s goal is to have every state and local law enforcement agency in the country feed information to Washington to buttress the work of the FBI, which is in charge of terrorism investigations in the United States…

The Cold War is over. Excepting the federal bureaucracy has decreed the security interests of the nation are best served by keeping an eye on you. A bigger, stronger, better-funded apparatus for spying on American citizens than anything ever deemed useful in the bad old days.

Today’s story, along with related material on The Post’s Web site, examines how Top Secret America plays out at the local level. It describes a web of 4,058 federal, state and local organizations, each with its own counterterrorism responsibilities and jurisdictions. At least 935 of these organizations have been created since the 2001 attacks or became involved in counterterrorism for the first time after 9/11…

* Technologies and techniques honed for use on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan have migrated into the hands of law enforcement agencies in America.

* The FBI is building a database with the names and certain personal information, such as employment history, of thousands of U.S. citizens and residents whom a local police officer or a fellow citizen believed to be acting suspiciously. It is accessible to an increasing number of local law enforcement and military criminal investigators, increasing concerns that it could somehow end up in the public domain.

* Seeking to learn more about Islam and terrorism, some law enforcement agencies have hired as trainers self-described experts whose extremist views on Islam and terrorism are considered inaccurate and counterproductive by the FBI and U.S. intelligence agencies.

* The Department of Homeland Security sends its state and local partners intelligence reports with little meaningful guidance, and state reports have sometimes inappropriately reported on lawful meetings.

RTFA. You may as well know who’s behind the wheel of that black Crown Vic parked down at the foot of your driveway.

Oh, and please – my dear Liberal friends, understand that Barack Obama’s dedication to conformity, spying on citizens, jive rationales for budget-busting copper connivance is in no way different from George W. Bush. The bigot-based followers who transferred their xenophobia from Russians to Arabs aren’t a niche phenomenon.

Craven acquiescence to Big Brother wasn’t limited to conservatives in the day of Uncle Joe McCarthy. Dishwater liberals are just as likely to vote in Congress for “enhanced” security measures as anyone else.

Same as it ever was.

The new USA: Chess players, like Socrates, busted for corrupting the youth.

“Ah, now isn’t that much better,” asked a soothing Nurse Ratched.

Police officers approached [seven chess players in Upper Manhattan] at the stone chess tables in Inwood Hill Park and issued them summonses for failure to comply with signs.

The tables are behind the gates of the park’s Emerson Playground, which the signs in question state is off limits to adults unaccompanied by minors… to deter what a parks official called “inappropriate adult use of space designated specifically for children.”…

The tables are separated from the rest of the play area by a fence, [and reportedly] there were no children present at the time.

“This incident is an embarrassment to the officers from the 34th Precinct who felt that it was necessary to use their badge and authority to issue such a random summons,” Joanna Johnston, who said that her 7-year-old son learned to play chess from the men in the playground, wrote in a letter to the police and the mayor.

Careful, lady. The parent lobby is not going to like you one bit. Children must be protected from the sight of adults playing chess. We wouldn’t want them to grow up reading Averbakh.

Now do you wonder why Fischer spit?

What your cubicle says about you?

I’m a news junkie. Years living on the road accentuated the habit. Back when CNN was a news channel.

One of my morning habits is reviewing news being covered on TV; then, switching over to my favorite sources on the Web to look deeper into the stories, finding the stories sharp enough to be ignored by the clueless breed that owns the Fifth Estate in the United States.

“My cubicle tells others three things that are of utmost importance to me — faith, family and my small business,” says Carmin Wharton, an educator from Tampa, Florida.

Among the items: family pictures, a floral centerpiece from her daughter’s wedding reception, small spiritual books, file folders for her business and stone-like plaques with single words such as “harmony” and “rejoice…”

“When decorating a cubicle, consider corporate/office culture,” notes Deborah Brown-Volkman of East Moriches, New York, a career coach and author of “How to Feel Great at Work Every Day.”

You want to be an individual, but you also want to fit in. The goal is to find a blend between the two…”

A tidy space can make workers appear more productive and competent — and oftentimes they do indeed perform better…

Even if you aren’t the kind of worker who has a specific place for every document, giving the appearance that you do could improve your reputation…

The article goes on and on, including examples, anecdotes.

There is no shortage of Americans who only live and work like prairie dogs. Since they’re not in danger of extinction – other than at the hands of the politicians they elect to office – they don’t need or deserve special protection.

I guess that’s who this article is aimed at. But, self-help instruction passed off as “news” is sophistry I resent as much as corporate publicity releases, political handouts and authors with a new book showing up on news shows as experts the day before release of their tome.

The article is crap. CNN distributing it is crap. They get themselves off the hook – they presume – by identifying the source as a business partner of theirs. Doesn’t make it smell better.