What’s really important?

People are dying in New Zealand from an earthquake. Jets have bombed Libyan protesters. And yet media time is wasted on Justin Bieber’s “shocking new haircut”! This planet needs an enema.

House Republicans go completely daffy

One amendment calls for “defunding Obama’s teleprompters.” REALLY? What happened to “JOBS JOBS JOBS”? House Republicans, you are a ridiculous, silly, and completely useless lot. I propose we cut spending by eliminating all of your salaries, not to mention your health insurance coverage that I and all taxpayers are paying for. Get off the socialist teat, how about it?

Since the House Appropriations Committee introduced its stopgap budget proposal late last week, lawmakers have introduced more than 400 amendments that the chamber will be busy considering this week. Some amendments would restore funding for programs on the chopping block, others would make even deeper cuts to reduce the deficit and many reflect long-held partisan priorities.

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.), for example, has introduced an amendment that bars the General Services Administration from paying construction or leasing costs for any federal building in the nation’s capital. This situation could potentially lead to federal buildings that are leased, rather than owned by GSA, possibly defaulting on their lease agreements.

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.) has offered an amendment that would prohibit the president from using federal funds to pay for the salaries and expenses of his “czars” — the shorthand for White House officials who are appointed without Senate confirmation. However, Scalise lists the specific names of positions that cannot receive the funds. Conceivably, the President could simply rename those jobs.

Rep. Paul Broun’s (R-Ga.) amendment mandates that no federal funds may be spent on vacant federal properties. However, this could result in properties — such as the White Oak Federal Department of Agriculture building in Maryland, which is 90 percent finished but still unoccupied — being left vacant and unfinished.

Rep. Steve Womack (R-Ark.) intended to introduce an amendment that would prohibit federal funds from being used to buy and maintain teleprompters for President Obama, but his spokesman told The Huffington Post that they couldn’t get the Congressional Budget Office’s score in time to submit it. The congressman plans to introduce it in the future though and anticipates it could save taxpayers $5 million.

Anti-choice movement targets another doctor

Dr. Mila Means, a Wichita family practitioner who is the target of anti-abortion activists talks with Rachel Maddow about murder, intimidation and threats by the anti-abortion movement and the effort to provide women the health services to which they have a legal, Constitutional right.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

The bookstores are going away

The news has been rumbling for a little while now that Borders, the number two traditional bookseller in the USA is likely going into bankruptcy next week.

It strikes me as incredibly sad when I’m in a mall that a few years ago had three booksellers, and today has none. And that seems to be the case at many malls and shopping centers. Yes, we can buy books online, but there’s something about book browsing in a big store with thousands of books from which to choose.

On the other hand, I’ll never forget my experience with the young woman behind the counter at Borders, when I asked if they had any Thurber in stock.

“Who?” she asked.

“Thurber, James Thurber.”

“How do you spell that?”

“T h u r b e r.”

She looked perplexed. “And what genre would that be?”

“Funny… you LOOK like you’ve been to college…”

Stephen Colbert takes on Bill O’Reilly and his "tides prove God" argument

If you can’t see the media, go here.

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Georgetown neuroscientist searches for the cause of tinnitus

Article posted today on the PBS web site:

dr_transcript_pullout There is no treatment, and little consensus on what causes tinnitus. But Josef Rauschecker, a Georgetown University Medical Center neuroscientist, wants to change that. He has been studying […] to better understand the physiological mechanisms responsible for tinnitus. He believes it is caused by a confluence of events: hearing damage combined with functional changes in the limbic system, the part of the brain responsible for both interpreting sound and regulating emotion.

Here’s how he explains it. All patients with tinnitus have some degree of hearing damage. But most people with hearing loss have a built-in mechanism that prevents them from hearing phantom sounds, an “intrinsic noise cancellation system,” he calls it. Within the brain’s limbic system, he believes, is the switch that turns off the phantom sounds for most people. When that switch is dysfunctional, the result can be tinnitus.

Rauschecker and his team published a study last month in the journal Neuron that showed that patients with tinnitus were more likely to have structural changes in the brain’s prefrontal cortex and hyperactivity in the nucleus accumbens, a region of neurons deep in the brain, known to play a role in pleasure, addiction, aggression and fear.

“The nucleus accumbens is the last station in the processing pathway,” Rauschecker said. “And it signals, ‘this is bad, bad, bad.’ And the ventromedial prefrontal cortex that would normally make it go away is broken.”

For many patients, the tinnitus gets worse at times of high emotion or anxiety. Clinical depression rates are estimated to be more than twice the national average among tinnitus patients.

Read the entire article here.