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24 June 2012

Whoops, Vleeptron is a little late with the Solstice, but it's Summer anyway.

Click image to enlarge.

Okay, we're a few days late -- but welcome to Northern Hemisphere Summer (and Southern Hemisphere Winter) anyway. In the Northern Hemisphere, the Solstice was the longest day (longest sunlight) of the year; in the Southern it was the shortest day of the year.


19 June 2012

eine kleine Krellmusik


Click image to enlarge.

The image on the Voyager robot space probes. (NASA after a design by Carl Sagan.)
The NASA robot probe Voyager 1 has recently flown beyond the Heliosphere -- the region of space affected by solar radiation and electromagnetic influence. Voyager 2 is not far behind.

In Small Words, a robot device designed on Earth has, for the first time, left our Solar System and is now sailing through interstellar space. Next stop (if we're lucky) will be another star.

(Our nearest non-Sol star is Barnard's Star, which Wikipedia describes as a "very low-mass red dwarf star about 6 light-years away from Earth in the constellation of Ophiuchus, the Snake-holder." i,e,, it takes light or radio or other emf signals 6 years to make the one-way trip from here to Barnard's Star.)

What surprises we have for the lucky extraterrestrial intelligence which pops the hood on our real old Voyager probes!

They're powered by lumps of plutonium, so 35 years after NASA launched thrm, they're still generating sufficient electrical power (directly from radioactive heat) to perceive their surroundings and send data back. We're still getting information from the Voyagers.

But even after the plutonium fizzles out, the Voyagers contain marvelous goodies for the first
"thinkies" to find them.

Using gold CDs, because gold never rusts or degrades, first there's a wonderful visual image that explains tons of important information about Planet Earth and Homo sapiens. A man and a woman, and their secondary sexual characteristics, and a measuring stick to show our height are shown -- crude mugshots of what our sentient neighbors could expect if they visited and asked to meet the species which runs things around here.

There's chemical information which isn't hard to comprehend. It shows Earth life is mostly composed of Oxygen, Nitrogen, Carbon and Hydrogen.

There's astrogational information to show which planet we're on, and where our Solar System is in the Milky Way Galaxy.

But the really cool stuff isn't in the image. It's in the CD's audio tracks: Earth sounds, Earth noises, and our Human Music.

Kurt Waldheim says Hi and Peace on behalf of the United Nations.

But then the music starts.

To my fellow Kult Members on the yahoogroup f_minor, the No. 1 with a Bullet tracks are the deceased Canadian pianist Glenn Gould playing a section of the Well-Tempered Klavier by Johann Sebastian Bach.

This is Earth's first entry in the Milky Way Music Competition.

Which brings up another amazing space news story. After 10 years of supercomputer analysis, NASA just announced it has finally translated the first Intelligent radio message we have ever received. It says

SEND MORE CHUCK BERRY
(I love that old joke, I'm sorry, I can't stop telling it.)

Yes indeed, if the Sentients play the gold CD (instructions for playing the CD are engraved on the disk), they also get Chuck Berry banging out "Maybelline."

Maybelline
Why can't you be true
Oh Maybelline
Why can't you be true
You been goin' around doing the things you used to do


We KNOW, with absolute certainty, that every sentient civilization in the universe will, eventually, stumble on the truths of mathematics, the same ones that caused all of us so much heartache and woe (because there's a suprise quiz Tuesday morning) from arithmetic to differential equations.

But only Earthies got Chuck Berry. Only Earthies got Johann Sebastian Bach. Only Earthies had Glenn Gould to play him sublimely, and to play Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart so wrong-headedly and at such a krazy-klown tempo. (I think GG plays Mozart ethereally, but I'm in the minority.)

They will crank up the Voyager CDs and hear music they'd never imagined existed before.

Hope they enjoy it. Hope we win the Milky Way Music Prize!

What are the other music entries in the Galactic Competition?

Well, okay, I don't have a lot of Non-Earth Music to play for you.

But I have a little.

Here's some music from the ancient long-vanished Krell civilization from Planet Altair 4.

We don't know what they looked like, they left no family photos on the walls, but because of the characteristic shape of their doorways, we deduce they were Large and Triangular.

We have lots of evidence that they were Real Smart -- a hell of a lot smarter than we human knuckledraggers. Most of their underground facilities are still there to explore, and they're still powered up, and they still work. (The Krell machines automatically diagnose and repair themselves.)
 

We don't know why they vanished. Whatever the cause, it was sudden, essentially overnight. And they were gone forever. But they left some of their recorded music behind.

Click HERE and HERE, and you can hear it. It was first heard on Earth in 1956. If you'd like to text a vote for The Krell Songs, or just write a thoughtful review of Krell Music, Leave A Comment.


14 June 2012

Postalö Vleeptron / Rare Antique Stamp: "Geo W. Bush" (head on a pike) / Free HBO / an Idiot like this guy cometh along but once in a lifetime

Click stamp, good chance it gets bigger.

Our satellite TV provider just blessed us with a free week of HBO. What we sampled, movies and original programming, failed to entice us to sign up for this fine and dependable source of digital sludge.

(Well, okay, since ABC TV network pushed Bill Maher's "Politically Incorrect" under a bus in late 2001, HBO picked him up, show has a new name, and it's still Bill Maher sticking his red-hot iron poker into the eyeballs and orafices of USA politics. That's not chopped liver. There's funnier and more incisive elsewhere on the electromagnetic spectrum, but he's pretty funny and he's pretty incisive.


(Sometimes you want to say to Maher: "Thank you, Captain Obvious!")

But we missed this, which, apparently, we could have seen for FREE!

HBO has this very Hot & Now Thing called "Game of Thrones," which I gather is yer basic Fantasie -- the mutant baby that resulted when badly remembered medieval European history had sex with a very stale roulade of folklore and mythology.

Just guessing, but maybe the Major Characters resemble 20-something L.A. hunkolas and hotties with great musculature and (for the Caucasians) tans. Also through the crystal the eldritch mysts part briefly, and I see one role for a semi-famous award-winning Old Person, who plays the Merlin-Gandalf Wizard Guy or Grand Krigat. Don't fuck with him, he can sour your dairy cows or compel you to marry your high school algebra teacher.

I see violence. Medieval revenge perversion Elf Realm violence, violence like you (or your European ancestors) never saw, not even in Cossack and Ostrogoth places. In each episode, the creatures who inhabit this HBO Realm will do stuff to other Realm Denizens which will make you sorry you ever signed up for HBO, and for Christ's sake, who let the kids see this???

Apparently, if we'd been at the right motel with Free HBO, or we hadn't been watching "Bait Car" elsewhere on Basic Satellite, we could have seen the head of the previous President of the United States, George W. Bush, on a pike, or atop a pole a few times.

In olden days, the Winner would often put the Loser's severed head on a high pole in the public square or market for the month following his untimely demise. It was better than a mugshot or a statue or a coin or postage stamp of the Loser. It WAS the Loser (or the part of him from the neck up).

The populace was free to perceive any Official Government Message it chose to see in the Loser's Head on a Tall Pole for a Month. If the only message you got was: "Piss us off and this could be You" -- that interpretation was acceptable to the Government.

Here we have a rare antique Postalö Vleeptron stamp, one of the first stamps PV ever issued. It was part of Postalö Vleeptron's series "Vleeptronian Fantasies of Recent USA Presidents."

The other night during his monologue, David Letterman said -- with a choke of authentic sincerity in his throat -- how much he missed the former Idiot. Presidents you can tell those kind of jokes about night after night after night (because of what they just said and did day after day after day) come along rarely. Like the Transit of Venus. George W. Bush was a Once-in-a-Lifetime Idiot, and the world's comedians miss him deeply.

Postalö Vleeptron: Antique Stamp
"Geo W. Bush" (head on a pike) 

Fantasies of Recent USA Presidents
issued circa 630000 D2E (Dwingeloo-2 Era)
denomination: 43 new vleepeezz
philatelic value (approximate): U$71,000

**********************

The Los Angeles Times
(daily broadsheet, California USA)
Thursday 14 June 2012

HBO apologizes for
fake George W. Bush
head on 'Game of Thrones'


by Patrick Kevin Day

LOS ANGELES -- The creators of HBO's "Game of Thrones" found themselves in a bit of hot water on Wednesday when word spun around the Internet that former President George W. Bush's likeness made a very unflattering cameo in the first season of the epic fantasy series. 


More specifically: a prop severed head bearing the former president's likeness appeared mounted on a stick.

Though the head was given a wig of long hair, spattered in mud and turned mostly away from the camera, the distinctive upper lip was a giveaway. And the creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss pointed it out in the DVD commentary on the episode.

"George Bush's head appears in a couple of beheading scenes," the duo revealed in their commentary. "It's not a choice, it's not a political statement. We just had to use whatever heads we had lying around."

Though the DVD set has been on the market since early March, it wasn't until this week that the media discovered the bit of trivia buried in the commentary on the show's first season finale.

On Wednesday, HBO and Benioff and Weiss issued statements of apology.

Benioff and Weiss explained, "We use a lot of prosthetic body parts on the show: heads, arms, etc. We can't afford to have these all made from scratch, especially in scenes where we need a lot of them, so we rent them in bulk. After the scene was already shot, someone pointed out that one of the heads looked like George W. Bush.

"In the DVD commentary, we mentioned this, though we should not have. We meant no disrespect to the former president and apologize if anything we said or did suggested otherwise."

HBO added, "We were deeply dismayed to see this and find it unacceptable, disrespectful and in very bad taste. We made this clear to the executive producers of the series who apologized immediately for this inadvertent careless mistake. We are sorry this happened and will have it removed from any future DVD production."

HBO's statement should be of particular note to super-fans, as the version of the "Game of Thrones" DVD set available looks to be a collector's item soon.

The commentary was first shared on the news site Reddit, where commenters quickly began wondering about why the production company would have a George W. Bush head lying around. As one commenter wrote, "I thought everyone just had Bush heads lying around. I keep trying to sell all of mine at garage sales."

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09 June 2012

1st Day Issue wiggle.gif: Transit of Venus 2012 / It's not over till the substantively massive planetary embodiment of the female principle sings / 3 Happy Freezing Blue Nerds in Hawaii


If Venus is not moving across 
the face of the Sun, click RELOAD.


1st Day Issue
Right-Hand Mitten Postal System
animated wiggle.gif
Transit of Venus 15 June 12
Copyright (c) 2012 Ron Bizer
It's not over till the substantially massive panetary embodiment of the female principle sings.
Did you forget to set the alarm or just get beer-drunk or stoned, or just forgot, so you blew off the Transit of Venus last week?
Sucks to be you, Jack or Jill. Your next opportunity to witness a Transit of Venus -- when the planet Venus, appearing as a small black circle, glides sublimely across the face of the Sun -- will be 11 December 2117. Moiself, I shall be 170 years old when I'm wheeled to the Big Panasonic Hologram in the Day Room to watch it. If you are still perky and bouncy and have all your original adult teeth and almost no accumulated cottage-cheese-like cellulite, and like to text your bff whilst careening up the Interstate in your bitchin Camarro, you will be a mere 124 years young when you see the Transit of Venus again.
They come in pairs, so if you fuck up and miss the 2117 show, you get another chance in 2125. Whoever gets a lucky 2nd Chance at the Transit of Venus will almost certainly be bigtime incontinent. 
Awaiting VleeptronZ on our return home from a quick AMTRAK adventure to see kin in Silver Spring, Maryland USA, was this remarkable wiggle.gif commemorative of last week's Transit of Venus, issued by Right-Hand Mitten Postal System (R-HMPS). The stamp was issued where the right hand is attached to the wrist (see Figure 2, above). The artist is the True Authentic Genuine & Talented Professional Visual Artist and U.S. Army War Veteran Ron Bizer, lifelong buddy of SP5 Joe Schlobdowski. VleeptronZ takes credit/responsibility/culpability for contaminating him with Mail Art & Faux Postage.The artist reports:


How’s it going? Basically things are OK here.
The University Lowbrow Astronomers had a presentation Tuesday at one of the Ann Arbor branch libraries and a bunch of telescopes set up on a high point in a local park. How cool was the Transit of Venus event! Chris was worried that we would burn our eyeballs out but everything was alright.

 
I’m attaching my Transit of Venus animated commemorative stamp. Should work in a browser.

Ack! I had to sign up for Medicare. What’s the world coming to?
Heeding wise astronomical advice not to spend 48 minutes staring directly at the Sun, we caught a live satellite TV broadcast from the summit of Mauna Kea extinct (everybody hopes) volcano and its supercallifragialisticexpialidocious optical telescope as Venus glided magnificently across the disk of the Sun. 
The Mauna Kea show was narrated by three young astronomer nerds dressed in Arctic gear and homemade knit wool caps -- Hawaii or not, it's fucking-A cold up there on the summit -- and you never saw Happier Nerds ever. They were shivering, their skins were turning blue, you couldn't wipe the grins off their faces with undiluted sulfuric acid.
They were witnessing the Transit of Venus through one of Earth's newest, most powerful, most remarkably sophisticated optical telescopes.
And now, thanks to Right-Hand Mitten Post, you can, too. Over and over again. And you can send cornbread recipes or porn to your friends and relatives throughout the Five-Planet System using the nifty wiggle.gif stamp.
So, like, who didn't watch the Transit of Venus? Raise your hands, stand up, tell us your names, make sure your Mom and Dad know that you slept through it.
A friend got me a poster of a group of knuckledragging mouth-breathing trogolodytes of all sizes, ages and genders in bowling shirts, and it said
WE DIDN'T SEE HALLEY'S COMET
AND WE DON'T CARE
and it graced my office wall for decades. Because I DID see Halley's Comet -- and spent a gazillion US bucks to get my butt to the desert near Alice Springs, Australia to see that sucker. (Best seats on the Planet in a place not on the verge of a violent popular uprising.)
So if you were sleeping off a cheap domestic beer (for cheap, try a case of Golden Anniversary) drunk and missed the Transit of Venus ...
You blocks, you stones, you worse than senseless things!
-- Shakespeare, "Julius Caesar"
This amazing astonishing supercallifragialisticexpialidocious once-in-a-lifetime crap in the Heavens is FREE! All you have to do is set an alarm, dress appropriately, bring binoculars or a cheap telescope, and stand outside for an hour or so. It's FREE! and IMPORTANT!
Friend of mine went to a ritzy private high school in Manhattan, and the algebra teacher was attempting to cram the Quadratic Formula into 20 nincompoop brains, and he suddenly snapped and started screaming THIS IS IMPORTANT! YOU HAVE TO KNOW THIS! and young Chris Noth (now the deservedly famous actor) said, "Mister Kaplowitz, the only thing we HAVE to do is die." I don't know if Noth ever mastered the Quadratic Formula, but I don't think he got a high mark in Mr. Kaplowitz's gradebook that day.
(I know the Quadratic Formula, and I can Complete the Square all by myself without Googling. Mr. Kaplowitz was right: This stuff is IMPORTANT!)
But what are all such gaieties to me
whose thoughts are full of indices and surds?
x² + 7x + 53
= 11/3
-- Lewis Carroll 
(a math(s) professor)
This is the only poem I know which must be solved for x.
Recent Transits of Venus
Date ...... Time UTC .. Something Else
======================================
1631 Dec 07 05:19 939 "
1639 Dec 04 18:26 524 "
1761 Jun 06 05:19 570 "
1769 Jun 03 22:25 609 "
1874 Dec 09 04:07 830 "
1882 Dec 06 17:06 637 "
2004 Jun 08 08:20 627 "
2012 Jun 06 01:28 553 "
2117 Dec 11 02:48 724 "
2125 Dec 08 16:01 733 "

06 June 2012

Annie Lenox sings at QE2;s Diamond Jubilee Concert /

Annie Lenox sings "Must Be Talking to an Angel" at the Diamond Jubilee Concert for HRH Queen Elizabeth II:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D9ub5LbggEw

recovered rare wiggle.gif of the amazing BUNYIP supercomputer whose adorable little penguins solved previously unsolveable problems


If the penguins aren't wiggling, click RELOAD.
They finally unplugged it and carted it in disconnected sections to Canberra's Scrap Metal & Plastic Junkyard -- Rubbish Heap, I think Australians call it -- but for 10 years, BUNYIP was one of Earth's fastest, most powerful (public-access) supercomputers.

It was named, of course, for the rarely (if ever) glimpsed Dreaded Monster of the Australian Outback, the Bunyipnstrus bunyipia australiensis.
This is what it looked like when it was running and crushing previously unsolvable problems with a dismissive wave of its superhands. It was a Linux-based machine, so a series of adorable little penguins shuttle hither and yon from section to section to perform its superfunctions at superspeed and superefficiency.
I had to beg two perfect strangers at the Australian National University Supercomputer Center in Canberra (the capital of Australia) for this spectacular wiggle.gif, I'd lost my old one, and now the ANU computer is in lockdown because Evil Hackers have been digitally sodomizing parts of it. (We suspect Teenagers.)
Both perfect strangers -- one, a chemist Ph.D. woman who supercomputes her investigations into modest-size molecules, had never even heard of BUNYIP -- very kindly and promptly broke into their sealed computer and fetched me the wonderful image of the Great Australian Supercomputer Which Runs on Adorable Penguins.

05 June 2012

Legalize it! Don't criticize it! Stop throwing non-white teens in jail and giving them life-long criminal records!

N.Y. governor proposes decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana

By Chris Boyette, CNN
updated 9:01 PM EDT, Mon June 4, 2012
Under current New York laws, possessing a small amount of marijuana in public view is a Class B misdemeanor.
Under current New York laws, possessing a small amount of marijuana in public view is a Class B misdemeanor.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A 1977 law makes private possession of 25 grams or less a non-criminal violation
  • But if the marijuana is publicly visible, the same amount is a Class B misdemeanor
  • Cuomo is asking that small amounts even in public view be decriminalized
  • Selling and smoking or burning marijuana would still be a crime
New York (CNN) -- New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is asking state legislators to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana that are in public view.
Saying the aim was to avoid unnecessary misdemeanor charges against thousands of New Yorkers -- "disproportionately black and Hispanic youth," according to a statement from the governor's office -- the legislation "brings consistency and fairness" to New York's marijuana laws.

"There is a blatant inconsistency. If you possess marijuana privately it is a violation, if you show it in public it's a crime. It's incongruous. It's inconsistent the way it has been enforced," Cuomo told reporters at a press conference in Albany on Monday.

In 1977, New York's legislature reduced the penalty for possessing 25 grams or less of marijuana to a non-criminal violation carrying a fine of no more than $100 for first-time offenders -- as long as the marijuana was in private possession and not in public view.
If the marijuana is out and viewable in public -- as it might be when someone is asked to empty his or her pockets during a so-called police "stop and frisk" -- it becomes a Class B misdemeanor.

Selling and smoking or burning marijuana is still a crime, and Cuomo is not suggesting changing that.
"The statute as currently written unnecessarily subjects tens of thousands of people to criminal arrest and prosecution for very small quantities of marijuana," said New York State Assembly member Hakeem Jeffries.
"The overwhelming majority of people who have been arrested as a result of the way that the statute is currently written come from the black and Latino community," Jeffries said, adding that statistics and studies show that marijuana possession and use "is far more racially diverse."

According to data released by the governor's office, 2,000 arrests for small amounts of marijuana were made in 1990. In 2011, over 50,000 arrests were made. Fifty percent of those arrested were under 25 years old, and 82% were black or Latino. Less than 10% were ever convicted of a crime.

"The human costs to each defendant charged with a misdemeanor are serious," said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr., supporting Cuomo's proposal. "The simple and fair change proposed by Gov. Cuomo will help us redirect significant resources to the most violent criminals and serious crime problems, and, frankly, it is the right thing to do."

According to the governor's office, 94% of arrests for small amounts of marijuana in the state are in New York City, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the New York Police Department and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly have come under fire in recent years for the department's much-criticized "stop and frisk" policy.


"Overly punitive charges have a harmful effect on our justice system. They can ruin lives, waste taxpayer money on unneeded trials, and breed distrust between communities and law enforcement," said Gabriel Sayegh, New York state director for the Drug Policy Alliance.

Last year Kelly issued a policy order directing officers to issue violations, rather than misdemeanors, for small amounts of marijuana discovered during street searches, and Monday, Bloomberg issued a statement in support of Cuomo's comments.

"The governor's proposal today is consistent with the commissioner's directive, and strikes the right balance by ensuring that the NYPD will continue to have the tools it needs to maintain public safety -- including making arrests for selling or smoking marijuana," he said. 

"Thanks to the NYPD, our city has come a long way from the days when marijuana was routinely sold and smoked on our streets without repercussions."

At the press conference Monday, Kelly said, "I was asked to respond to criticism by some members of the (City) Council that the Police Department was making, quote, 'too many' arrests for small amounts of marijuana. And my response to them, was, 'Well, your option is to go to Albany and get the law changed' -- better that than having New York City police officers turn a blind eye to the law as it was written, and as it is still written."

- 30 -
 

PizzaQ -- what the heck is this?

Click image, maybe it gets bigger.

I hope it wiggles for you.

6 slices anchovies and pepperoni.
 

04 June 2012

HEY! TRANSIT OF VENUS! DON'T MISS IT! BUY THE T-SHIRT!

 Click map to enlarge.

Here's where you can (or can't) see the Transit of Venus, when the planet Venus -- appearing as a small black circle -- will cross the disk of the Sun.

If you sleep through it, your next chance to see the Transit of Venus will be in 2117.

Depending on where you are, the Transit

begins: 22:09 UTC Tuesday 5 June 2012
ends: 04:49 UTC Wednesday 6 June 2012

Fudge Factor: +/- 7 minutes

Don't stare directly at the Sun or you'll go blind.

Click HERE for Transit of Venus 2012 souvenirs, coffee mugs, t-shirts, etc.

 

02 June 2012

Mitt Romney sneakily gutted Massachusetts civil rights government policies

We knew he was a violent homophobe and was cruel to the family dog, and he told us he doesn't care about poor people, and he was a draft-evader during the Vietnam War, and enjoys firing people ...

But Mitt's a sneaky racist who hates civil rights, too. 

The Republicans have really picked a great candidate this time around.

==============

The Associated Press
(USA newswire)
Saturday 2 June 2012


Romney Scuttled, Revived
Massachusetts 
Affirmative Action

by Andrew Miga

With a few strokes of his pen on a sleepy holiday six months after he became governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney quietly scuttled the state government's long-standing affirmative action policies.

There were no news conferences, no press releases trumpeting Romney's executive order on Bunker Hill Day, June 17, 2003, in the deserted Statehouse. But when civil rights leaders, black lawmakers and other minority groups finally learned of Romney's move two months later, it sparked a public furor.

Romney drew criticism for cutting the enforcement teeth out of the law and rolling back more than two decades of affirmative action advances.

Civil rights leaders said his order stripped minorities, women, disabled people and veterans of equal access protections for state government jobs and replaced them with broad guidelines. They complained Romney hadn't consulted them before making such drastic changes, snubbing the very kind of inclusion he professed to support.

"It was done under the radar and there was a big backlash," said Michael Curry, president of the Boston branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. "It was clear Romney really did not have an appreciation for the affirmative action policies long in place."

Romney responded by creating an advisory panel to recommend changes. But he eventually retreated completely, leaving the state's old policies in place.

The likely Republican presidential nominee's handling of affirmative action may offer insights into how he would deal with civil rights issues if he defeats Barack Obama, the nation's first black president, in the fall election. Romney hasn't talked much about affirmative action on the campaign trail.

Romney's campaign did not respond to requests for comment.

"This is the canary in the coal mine on how he feels about civil rights issues," said Julie Patino, who was deputy director of the state's affirmative action office from 1995 to 1999. "It was a cloaked and unilateral move that eradicated years and years of civil rights advances and history. It was an astonishing act."

Patino said the state's long, tortured history of race relations, including the violence over school busing that tore apart Boston in the 1970s, made Massachusetts' affirmative action laws especially critical.

Massachusetts government for decades has been a patronage haven for well-connected family members and friends of state lawmakers. The informal system of doling out state job spoils was dubbed "Irish affirmative action" in a nod to the powerful sway Irish-American pols in particular have long enjoyed on Beacon Hill.

Romney has said he supports workplace diversity but opposes quotas in hiring, government contracting, school admissions and the like.

"I believe our nation is at its best when people are evaluated as individuals," he said in a 2008 Washington Post issues survey. "I do support encouraging inclusiveness and diversity, and I encourage the disclosure of the numbers of women and minorities in top positions of companies and government -- not to impose a quota but to shine light on the situation."

Responding to the uproar in 2003, Romney insisted he wasn't trying to undercut the state's affirmative action policies. He stressed his commitment to workforce diversity, saying he had simply wanted to broaden, streamline and update the old policies.

"I'm actually very proud of the progress that we're making in the area of affirmative action," he said in August 2003. "We're making a very aggressive effort to change our culture to be more inclusive."

Romney's executive order eliminated the state's Office of Affirmative Action, which required executive agencies to have civil rights officers in charge of monitoring the hiring of minorities, women and people with disabilities. A new state diversity office was created, along with broad goals and guidelines.

Black leaders and civil rights groups said Romney's order lacked enforcement mechanisms and removed penalties for agencies not complying with the state's diversity efforts.

The Boston Globe scolded him in an editorial, saying "Governor Romney sent exactly the wrong message in signing an executive order to revamp the state's affirmative action program, consigning to the trash heap 33 years of guarantees that minorities and women would have equal access to state jobs."

To quell such criticism, Romney appointed a special advisory panel that included minority and civil rights leaders to recommend changes.

"The changes the panel wanted became too hot for the administration to deal with," said Leonard Alkins, who was head of the NAACP's Boston branch during the controversy and was a member of Romney's advisory panel. Alkins said many of the panel's recommendations were aimed at bolstering the policies Romney had abolished.

Romney essentially walked away from the fight, ignoring his own advisory panel. Instead, he had state officials effectively follow the old affirmative action policies he had formally revoked with his executive order.

It wasn't until Deval Patrick, a Democrat who was the state's first black governor, took office in 2007 that the old policies were formally reinstated.

Alkins said Romney never seemed to grasp that the aim of the state's affirmative action policies was to protect people who were wrongfully denied equal rights in the workplace.

"I felt that the governor was out of touch," said Alkins. "He was very uncomfortable with the issue of race and how you would address issues such as affirmative action."

The policies Romney erased with his executive order had been started three decades earlier by Republican former Gov. Frank Sargent and were substantially expanded by Democratic former Gov. Michael Dukakis in 1983. Three Republican governors who directly preceded Romney had left the policies in place.

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