Wheels

I wish you’d never even loved me
Makes it so hard to live without you now.

I always wondered why more people don’t know this song, because it’s such a classic crying in your beer song. Maybe it’s just too raw. Maria McKee with Lone Justice:

Screwing the Greeks

What Germany just did to Greece’s new ruling coalition:

Germany has rejected a Greek request for a six-month extension to its eurozone loan programme.

The rejection came despite the European Commission calling the Greek request “positive” only minutes earlier.

Greece had sought a new six-month assistance package, rather than a renewal of the existing deal that comes with tough austerity conditions.

However, a German finance ministry spokesman said the new plea was “not a substantial proposal for a solution”.

Later on Thursday, Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras and German chancellor Angela Merkel spoke by telephone, according to the Reuters news agency.

One Greek government official described the 50-minute call as “constructive”, adding: “The conversation was held in a positive climate, geared towards finding a mutually beneficial solution for Greece and the eurozone.”

Meanwhile, Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi spoke to Mr Tsipras and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in a further effort to strike a deal, an Italian government source said, according to Reuters.

Greece formally requested a six-month extension to its eurozone loan agreement on Thursday, offering major concessions as it raced to avoid running out of cash within weeks, but the German finance ministry abruptly dismissed the proposal.

The BBC’s Mark Lowen in Athens says Germany’s rejection of the Greek proposal suggested “a rift between Brussels and Berlin at the very highest level”.

“It’s not yet clear which side will prevail, and which side will give ground, but clearly the hopes that Greece was moving towards a deal… have been thrown into doubt once again.”

Sounds like a pitchfork moment to me. May I remind you of how the Greeks have dealt with previous austerity?

Greece-burns

parthenon

greek-protest

The walking man walks on

I kind of thought this might upend this guy’s life. I’m sorry it did, though:

The James Robertson story was supposed to have a happy ending.

The story of the 56-year-old Detroit factory worker who walks 21 miles to and from work each day warmed the hearts of the nation after his tale of perseverance went viral. Some $350,000 was raised for Robertson—not to mention, a local Ford dealership gave him a brand-new 2015 Ford Taurus.

But shortly after the hype started to die down, Robertson told Vice News that he’d received death threats and that his fears increased when he learned that Arthur Neal, an 86-year-old who claimed he’d hit the lottery for $20,000, was found stabbed to death on Feb. 1 in a house not far from where Robertson was living.

According to Vice News, Robertson’s girlfriend, her adult son and her ex-husband—all of whom live in the boarding house where Robertson was paying $200 for rent—began pressuring Robertson, who hasn’t received any money yet, for a payday.

The Detroit police, who believed that Robertson’s car would be stolen, allowed Robertson to park in their lot and recently escorted Robertson back to the house to gather his belongings so that he could move.

“We had a meeting with him [and] he expressed interest that he did not feel safe,” Police Capt. Aric Tosqui told the Detroit Free Press.

The story of a whistleblower

BANK OF AMERICA

Matt Taibbi with a story about Michael Winston, who blew the whistle on Countrywide Mortgages. You can guess how http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/a-whistleblowers-horror-story-20150218#ixzz3S9J9l0Dh“>this all turned out, right?

He says he’s spent over a million dollars fighting Countrywide (and the firm that acquired it, Bank of America) in court. At first, that fight proved a good gamble, as a jury granted him a multi-million-dollar award for retaliation and wrongful termination.

But after Winston won that case, an appellate judge not only wiped out that jury verdict, but allowed Bank of America to counterattack him with a vengeance.

Last summer, the bank vindictively put a lien on Winston’s house (one he’d bought, ironically, with a Countrywide mortgage). The bank eventually beat him for nearly $98,000 in court costs.

That single transaction means a good guy in the crisis drama, Winston, had by the end of 2014 paid a larger individual penalty than virtually every wrongdoer connected with the financial collapse of 2008.

When Winston protested his preposterous punishment on the grounds that a trillion-dollar company recouping legal fees from an unemployed whistleblower was unreasonable and unnecessary, a California Superior Court judge denied his argument — get this — on the grounds that Winston failed to prove a disparity in resources between himself and Bank of America!

This is from the court’s ruling:

Plaintiff argues that the disparity in the resources between the individual plaintiff and the defendant Bank of America make it unfair to place the cost of the premium on plaintiff. Plaintiff offered no evidence in support of this argument; it is rejected.

“I mean, Carlos Slim, the world’s richest individual, is nothing next to Bank of America,” says Winston today. “I just have to shake my head at all of it.”

An articulate, well-educated family man who speaks with great pride about his two grown children, who’ve stood by him throughout his troubles, Winston’s life has been turned upside down by his experience.

“I’ve never in my life not worked, but I’m unemployable now,” says Winston, a longtime high-level executive at blue-chip corporations like McDonnell-Douglas and Lockheed Martin. Although he spent most of a lifetime scrupulously saving, he says he’s “worried now that there will be a time when I won’t be able to support my family.”

Even worse, while the bank was going after his savings, Winston was diagnosed with laryngeal cancer. He has been undergoing painful treatment ever since and is literally fighting for his life now, on top of everything else.

“It’s been a very difficult year,” he says.

Yet Winston would likely bear all of this more easily were it not for bitterness over the fact that the sacrifices of whistleblowers like himself have too often resulted in dead ends or worse in recent years.

The main thing I hate about getting old

scotoma

I was reading before I went to sleep last night when I saw a migraine scotoma appear. (See above picture.) I thought, “Oh shit,” turned off the light and went to sleep. But it was hard to sleep, because the scotoma was so much brighter and more colorful than usual.

I woke up two hours later — and the fucking scotoma was still there! After obsessing for an hour or two about the possibility that Lyme spirochetes are indeed invading my brain, I finally get back to sleep.

So I get up this morning, and a few minutes after I sit down at my desk, the damned thing is back. Which means I pop an Excedrin migraine pill and lie down with my eyes closed. After 20 or so minutes, it goes away. (I time it by how many songs played on the radio, since I can’t see.)

But when I went back to my desk, I noticed right away that my vision had changed. You know how when you lose your glasses, and you find an old pair, and you realize how much stronger your current prescription must be? Like that. Which is a little scary, since my computer glasses are pretty strong to begin with.

I know enough about these ocular migraines to know that, under some circumstances, doctors believe they’re more like mini-strokes. Until today, I haven’t had any of those symptoms. But vision change after a migraine isn’t such a good sign, so I contacted Penn to get an appointment with a neuro-ophthalmologist. (Maybe I should just call Rand Paul.)

And this is what I hate about getting old. You never really know which things to pay attention to.

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