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While watching Orwell Rolls in his Grave a few days ago, I was struck by a quote from the great investigative journalist George Seldes. An open critic of corporate-owned media, Seldes held that:

The main threat to democracy comes not from the extreme left, but from the extreme right, which is able to buy huge sections of the press and radio and wages a constant campaign to smear and discredit every progressive and humanitarian measure.

A people that wants to be free must arm itself with a free press.

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Sat Jul 30, 2011 at 07:00 PM PDT

Top Comments 7.30.11: No News Edition

by carolita

Today is one of those days where I felt a rant coming on and was powerless to help myself – or you. But before I get started, here is a word from our sponsors. . . .

We have so many insightful and powerful diaries written here at Daily Kos. Our diaries inform, inflame, impassion, and even entertain. We Kossacks have strong voices and an even stronger will to be the change we wish to see in this country.

One of the richest, and perhaps most under-appreciated, areas of thought come in the form of comments attached to these diaries.

Here at Top Comments we strive to recognize and promote the talent of this community by highlighting outstanding comments found throughout the day by the diarist, and through nominations by other Kossacks. So when you find a comment that enlightens, entertains, or encourages, send it to:
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Comments should get to the inbox by 9:30 EST to be included that day (but we will carry over later ones). Don’t forget to include

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I hate global climate change. While I don’t demand perfection from the weather, I do prefer some level of predictability. And I’ll define that very loosely, too, but I do wish we could come up with something vaguely familiar for this time of year in this locality.

I’ve been at high whine for a month, since we officially topped 100oF. Although we have had some respite, it has been too close to the century mark too many days. I am way past tired of this. Nothing is growing properly – I don’t know a single person around here with a decent tomato crop, the blackberries are shriveling and dying on the vine, not a single squash plant had any blooms. Even though we are getting rain along, it doesn’t seem to be helping much and my garden is dismal. But so is every other garden around here. And to top it off, the 17 year locusts didn't show up, but they were replaced by a plague of tiny grasshoppers in some areas and bag worms in other locales.

I know many of you are dealing with a similar situation and probably don’t want to hear about it. So let me tell you how I’ve gone about improving my mood (if not that of my husband). This week I did one of my favorite things – and one that I’ve missed for many years now.

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What’s new? Not much, really. The terrorists appear to be winning again, as they continue to hold the U.S. economy hostage. Now they are demanding not only continued tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires, but needy corporations like the oil companies as well.

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Greetings from Computer Hell. This is not the diary I started to post at 9:30 Saturday evening. However, after a complete system crash that required a full-blown system Recovery and six (that’s right, six) restart/recovery events, this is the part of that diary I was able to recover. And that would also explain why I am so late tonight. Just be glad you weren’t around to hear what I had to say while I was “in recovery.”

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I was packing up to return home from a conference Friday when sardonyx called to invite me to write this anniversary diary. Since my old laptop died rather unceremoniously a few weeks ago while I was in Florida and my hotel didn’t provide computers in every room, I had been offline the entire week. Of course I considered it a great honor to be asked and accepted immediately.

If I had a computer available, I might have been better informed on what I was agreeing to do. Of course, I read the previous anniversary diaries, but it’s been a while. When I reread them this weekend, they brought back some wonderful memories and caused a little trepidation. Writing any Anniversary diary is a challenge, and the bar has been raised pretty high around here, as anniversary diaries go.

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Perhaps foreshadowing Memorial Day, the past couple of days have bee filled with sad remembrance for me. Yesterday I was called to the bedside of my aunt, who died a few hours later. She was 96 and my last living relative of my parents’ generation.

And then this morning, like many here, I was shocked and saddened to learn of the death of the great Gil Scott-Heron. Please go and read Clymenestra’s wonderful tribute diary at that link – there are many wonderful comments there, too. Cabbage Rabbit has also written an excellent diary, Gil Scott-Heron: Message To Rappers.

So tonight I decided to take a little stroll down memory lane to find out what else had happened on this day.

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Sat May 21, 2011 at 07:05 PM PDT

Top Comments 5.21.11: Zombies Edition

by carolita

Well I see you haven’t been raptured either. Now that we have the planet to ourselves, maybe we won’t have to put up with anymore posturing from politicians pandering to the fundamentalists and fundamentalists trying to take over the government. Time to break out the Rapture Rules and go get that Mercedes SLK before skip945 gets to it.

But that’s all just wishful thinking.  What are the odds that any of them would actually be raptured. One thing is for sure, if there ever is a real Rapture the “dormitory” at C Street will still be fully occupied afterward.

And now that the pseudo-Rapture is past, we have another great fear looming – zombies. Not only has Zombie Reagan staged a comeback, but our computers are rapidly being infested with Zombie Cookies and the CDC is warning of a Zombie Apocalypse!

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Everyone needs some entertainment from time to time. This is probably more true today, as the stresses of too little time, too little money combine with information overload and high-demand life circumstances. Activities like movies and concerts are becoming prohibitively expensive for many people. But the default of staying home with the TV machine can be damaging to your mental health and make you feel unsafe in your own home.

So tonight I am going to share a couple of sites that have risen to  the top of my entertainment speed dial. The first features a plethora of interesting and useful things packaged in a soothing orange. The second has a decidedly Scottish accent, and it is filled with weird creatures doing unexpected things.

Speaking of entertainment, before we go any further, I want to say Happy Birthday to one of my favorite artists – David Byrne. Here is one of my all-time favorite Talking Heads songs, Stay Up Late:

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Given the number of people who died during three days and the fact that May is typically the month with the most tornadoes, I thought I would share some of my experiences. I was fortunate to have a father who grew up in Kansas long before NOAA or weather broadcasts or even radar. Surviving there meant learning how to “read” the sky and what to do with the information it provided.

I have been traveling recently and I was heading home last Monday during the huge tornado outbreak across the southern states. Unfortunately, this gave me the opportunity to use many of the tornado survival skills I have honed while living most of my life in “Tornado Alley.” By Monday evening, I saw three tornadoes touch down, including one that turned out to me more than one-half-mile wide and literally pulled the pavement up from the ground along its path.

So what do you do when you are driving down the highway and tornadoes start dropping in your path?

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Did you ever have that feeling that something is going on, but you don’t quite know what it is? I had that inkling early this morning when I checked my e-mail and saw an enormous list of messages from companies that rarely, if ever, send me email. For the most part, I am one of those who always checks (or unchecks) the box to subscribe for online helluvadeals from “us or our partners,” so I don’t get a lot of that.

Today, however, I discovered that even those companies that don’t send me regular newsletters or sales promos still give out my email address. I know that because many of them wrote to apologize. Oh, yes, and to warn me that my information had been compromised.

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Today I was aimlessly channel-checking and ran across one of my favorite programs – Conversations with History on UCTV. Created and hosted by Harry Kriesler, the Executive Director of the Institute of International Studies at the University of California at Berkeley, Conversations with History is an interview program, created as “a way to capture and preserve through conversation and technology the intellectual ferment of our times.”

Today Dr. Kriesler was interviewing Gideon Rose, editor of Foreign Affairs magazine, on his new book How Wars End. Topics covered include: his intellectual journey, the challenges of editing Foreign Affairs, public discourse on international affairs, the interplay between ideas and action, the politics of ending wars, Obama's strategy in Afghanistan, and the lessons to be learned from the record of American war termination from World War I to the second Iraq War.  I found it encouraging, in this era of endless and ever-multiplying wars, that someone at least remembered that wars could be ended.

Rose did a lot more than that. This was a brilliant interview with someone who clearly is not afraid to think deeply about issues and, more importantly, to tell the truth. I have not read How Wars End, but after hearing this interview, it is at the top of my reading list. I will hit some of the program highlights below the fold and link to the hour-long video in the Tip Jar.

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