Tag Archives: THe Big Picture

Finally, a little pushback on NSA spying. Obama with brilliant choice to head Olympic delegation. And the year in photos is fabulous

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If it seems like the National Security Association has been doing whatever the hell it damn pleases since 9/11 without any pushback, well, they have.

But maybe, just maybe, there’s finally been a line drawn in the sand. On Monday a federal judge declared the NSA’s phone call data-mining system unconstitutional.

“I cannot imagine a more ‘indiscriminate’ and ‘arbitrary invasion’ than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval,” said Leon, an appointee of President George W. Bush. “Surely, such a program infringes on ‘that degree of privacy’ that the Founders enshrined in the Fourth Amendment.”

Amen. Unfortunately, Leon’s ruling only applied to the case in front of him, but let’s hope it’s a precedent. It amazes me how many American citizens seem to be fine with the NSA doing whatever it wants “in the name of preventing terror.”

It is wrong, wrong, wrong to run roughshod over our civil liberties like the NSA does, and I have a feeling that thanks to Edward Snowden we’re going to be learning about even more heinous activities in the months and years to come.

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**Next up, haven’t linked to one of these in a while, but this is fantastic. The Big Picture, the photojournalism site of the Boston Globe, has put out their best photos of 2013, and there are so many amazing ones here.

Two of my favorites are at the top of this post and above (the little boy among the big boys made me laugh out loud).

Peep the whole gallery here.

**Finally today, I got a real good smile Tuesday night out of this story. We all know how incredibly anti-gay Vladimir Putin has made Russia in recent years, and a major story in the upcoming Winter Olympics will be that nation’s intolerance, and how gay athletes are treated in Sochi.

So with this such a hot button issue, who did Barack Obama appoint to lead the U.S. Delegation at the Olympics? Billie Jean King, legendary tennis player, and Caitlin Cahow, a female hockey player.

Both proudly, openly gay.

No idea if Obama was intentionally poking dictator Putin with this, but you’d have to think so, right?

A great honor for both women; thrilled to see BJK on a world stage like this, where she richly belongs.

I’m off to Mexico for a week of sun and fun. The best pictures of 2012. And “Who’s On First?” starring Fallon, Crystal and Seinfeld

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For the first time since I started this here blog 3 1/2 years ago, I’m taking a full week off from it.

Yep, taking a break for a good reason: My soon-to-be-bride and I are travelling with her family to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, for a week of fun in the sun. When I first heard about the trip opportunity, my initial reaction (being a child of the 1980s) was “Didn’t “The Love Boat” stop there? And wasn’t Puerto Vallarta the trip they always gave away on game shows like “The Joker’s Wild” and “Tic-Tac-Dough?” (Man I love me some Wink Martindale.)

But alas, it’s still around and kicking, so I hope to enjoy some snorkeling, parasailing, and laying around the beach for seven glorious days.

I’ll be back blogging again, probably on New Year’s Day or so. In the meantime, have a wonderful New Year to one and all, and please oh please let them end the NHL lockout while I’m gone.

**Couple more things to leave you with before I go. This was on Jimmy Fallon the other night; the old “Who’s On First” routine that still cracks me up, with some modifications, starring Billy Crystal and Jerry Seinfeld. Funny stuff…

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**Finally, can’t leave without sharing some of the great photos on “The Big Picture” gallery of the best of 2012. I’ve linked to their incredible galleries before, and this one doesn’t disappoint.(besides the one above, No. 11, 32, and 35 are my favorites).

Some amazing photographs showing all kinds of human emotion, each one tells a great story.

Obama finally comes into the light on gay marriage, while North Carolina continues to punish loving couples. And some incredible photos from Afghanistan.

Stomach churning, nerves frayed, dark blue cap tossed across the room a half-dozen times… Rangers playoff hockey, it’s FAN-tastic. Another blown chance to  win a series Wednesday. So frustrating. Game 7 Saturday night. It’s never easy in the playoffs…

He got there. And I’m damn proud to have voted for him, and worked tirelessly as a volunteer for him 3 1/2 years ago.
But man, did it take Barack Obama a long time to acknowledge that gay people ought to have the right to marry who they love.
But I’m not here to be a Negative Nate on a glorious day in this country’s history. Finally, for once, any gay or lesbian person in the United States can look to the President and say “See? He knows it’s fine for two loving people to be married.”
Maybe this was a political move by Obama, especially one day after the voters of North Carolina once again came down on the wrong side of history, resoundingly passing an amendment to the state constitution banning gay marriage.

(And as someone who lived in North Carolina for three years, let me say I’m embarrassed for the people of that state, but not surprised. This is a state that sent the most racist Senator of the 20th century, Jesse Helms, repeatedly back to Congress. It’s so distressing to see so many people so intolerant and bigoted toward others. It’s a beautiful state, but its got some ugly people in it. And I’m not talking about looks.)
Then again, how could it be political if N.C. is involved? Obama won the Tar Heel State thanks to heavy African-American turnout in ’08, but today’s decision will surely cost him N.C.
Anyway, maybe it was political. But I don’t care. Finally, the President has spoken up and said what should not even be up for debate: Everyone in this country has the same right to marry their loved one.

Good for Obama. Good for America. It’s about time the leader of the free world took this stance publicly.
As usual, Andrew Sullivan says it way better than I could here.

**Finally today, the folks at Boston.com’s awesome photo site “The Big Picture” have come up with another beautiful gallery. Check out these fabulous photos from Afghanistan; it’s such a beautiful country when seen through the lens…

A great comparison/theory on Rick Perry. An incredible juggling act. And the photos of 9/11, over 10 years.

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Ross Douthat is a conservative columnist now with The New York Times. He’s always struck me as a fairly reasonable conservative; not a right-wing loon with no ability to see the other side.
Anyway, he’s a good writer, and he made an excellent analogy the other day that struck me as being really accurate. He wrote that Rick Perry is in many ways the Howard Dean 2004 of this GOP presidential race.
Because Perry, like Dean, whipped the extremes of his party into a frothy frenzy during primary season, but ultimately had so many fatal flaws that the majority of the party realized they were unelectable.
And that’s what I think is happening with Perry. Even the other GOP presidential candidates think he’s too extreme, and thankfully he’s being exposed for the bullying fraud that he really is.
Check out Douthat’s analysis here.

And, just for fun, let’s revisit this old treasure. Ahh, Howard, you enthusiastic bastard, you.

**Once again, the Boston Globe website photo project, The Big Picture, has blown me away. Amazing photojournalism here, folks.

Check out their photo gallery (one of the shots is above) of 10 years of progress at Ground Zero here.

**Finally, this juggling woman impressed me big-time. Watch how he uses his feet and his hands and doesn’t miss a beat. Definitely one skill I would love to have; I can’t imagine how much practice it takes to do something like this:

Obama’s disappointing troops withdrawal plan. A closed restaurant makes me sad. And incredible photos of the sun

Tennis fans: Check out my Wimbledon blog here, featuring a soon-to-be infamous clip of Dick Enberg accidentally saying something dirty. Also, I played my last tennis match as a Floridian Wednesday night; pulled out a tight 7-6, 6-4 win. Was it important to me that I leave on a triumph? You bet your ass it was.

So President Barack Obama went on television Wednesday night, and said that we would withdraw 10,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2011, and that the rest of the 33,000 troops who went over there as part of the “surge” would be coming home by the end of next summer.

Great! Terrific! Fantastic! Except, you know, that means there will still be close to 70,000 troops in Afghanistan. They’ll be brought home, Obama said, sometime in 2014.
Which means by that point we’ll have been in Afghanistan for 12 years. TWELVE YEARS.
Sigh. This president has become a full-fledged war president, hasn’t he? Twelve years in Afghanistan, a place that has become the 21st century Vietnam.
Things ain’t changing over there. They’re not going to change no matter how many American troops are on the ground.
Once again, Barack Obama takes the slow, incremental approach. Once again, those of us who believe this war should end immediately are told to be patient, he’s doing the right thing, etc.
Wrong. Bring the damn troops home now. Enough is enough.

**So there’s a restaurant in Daytona Beach that I pass every day going to and from work.
It’s called Billy’s Tap Room, and in its heyday it was a pretty popular place. It was one of those pubs where regulars met to discuss their lives, have a few drinks, and eat some food.
Anyway, it went out of business last June, and people were sad, stories about it were written in the paper, the passing of a landmark, yada yada yada.
And yet, 12 months later, the sign for the place is still up. Every day, people are reminded that what used be a great place no longer exists.
Why is the sign still up? Who knows. Shouldn’t someone take it down? Probably. But it just makes me a little sad that people who loved the place have to constantly be reminded that it’s not there anymore.  It just lingers as a memory of better times.

**I think I’ve pimped the way-cool Boston Globe feature called The Big Picture before; they basically take an event, or series of events, and run some incredible, large photographs.
The latest installment is about the summer solstice, and other great photos of the sun setting since early June.
No. 7,  No. 23, and No. 26 are just breathtaking, but most of them are really beautiful.