Friday, November 12, 2010

TGIF is another way to spell GIFT

A favorite song from a gifted group.
Enjoy the weekend folks, and don't forget:
Don't get too drunk until AFTER you leave work.


Saturday, October 02, 2010

GOP Platform in Song and Dance

OK, so there wasn't really any dancing. Disappointed? Not nearly as much as you will be if the GOP keep their promises.


Friday, September 24, 2010

How much is too much?

For Gawd's sake, this kind of thing pisses me off, and if it doesn't piss you off I submit that there is something fundamentally wrong with you.

A little tidbit from Robert Reich at the Huffington Post: The Super Rich Get Richer, Everyone Else Gets Poorer, and the Democrats Punt

"Charles and David Koch, the energy magnates who are pouring vast sums of money into Republican coffers and sponsoring tea partiers all over America, each gained $5.5 billion of wealth over the past year. Each is now worth $21.5 billion."
Let me put that in perspective for those of you who aren't already pissed off enough just by that blunt factoid. $21.5 BILLION is a shitload of money. More than you'll see in your lifetime, I would wager. I'll even give you odds.

The median American household earns something just above $50,000 per year. That's HOUSEHOLD, not person. Nowadays most families can't get by without two wage earners, and unless they're both lucky enough to have full-time jobs with benefits, this could actually mean the earnings from 3 or even 4 part-time "McJobs."

So sticking with that number, how many households does it take to earn 21.5 BILLION in a year? That would be 2.15 X10^10 divided by 5X10^4, which works out to an astonishing 430,000 households. Almost half a million FAMILIES!!

Let's take into account now that the average household is just above 3.1 persons (Astonishingly low! Back in the '70s it was around 4.5. I guess people simply can't afford to have 4 or 5 kids anymore.) You're now talking about the money that 1,333,000 people of median income live on, enough people to populate a city the size of Dallas, Texas. Which by the way is ninth on the list of largest cities in the US. If you take the worth of both Koch brothers as your starting point, you're somewhere between the size of Chicago and Houston, which are 3rd and 4th respectively.

The Republican party and a significant number of Democrats, Blue Dog and otherwise, don't want the Bush tax cuts to expire. Obama wants to extend them only for people who make less than $250,000 per annum. That's fewer than 2% of the population. Putting that into perspective, someone making a cool quarter of a million a year gets a paycheck of nearly $10,000 every two weeks -- which is about equal to someone working for $10/hr makes in 6 months at 40hrs/wk.

One comment at the HuffPo post asked a simple, pointed question; "How much inequality in wealth can a democracy tolerate?" I of course can't quantify that as easily as I can compare the Koch's wealth to the rest of the country. But I do know this -- the tolerable level has long been passed. America's system of government is a sham, a democracy in name only -- a demock-racy. It should be revolting enough to cause a revolution. The fact that it hasn't is cause for concern.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Mercenaries Afraid of Disclosure Laws

Billion-dollar Whiny Ass Titty Babies!

Defense companies and other major industries are hoping to block disclosure of their own fraudulent or substandard performance in federal contracts, despite a mandate this year by Congress that such potentially embarrassing information be released to the public. Sensitive to concerns raised by the companies, the White House has delayed enacting the little-known disclosure provision while it studies the issue, officials said.

When, if ever, is the White House going to be sensitive to the concerns of the taxpaying public? And do you suppose that studying the issue is going to take...oh, I don't know...maybe into and beyond their second term? The good news: PresBO has himself become an expert on Fraudulent or Substandard Performance issues. So much so that he could create a cabinet-level position out of it.

The thing is, when people wearing body armor and brandishing automatic weapons perform in any the consequences usually result in a bunch of innocent people being killed, America's reputation being even further ravaged, and stated* policy objectives being moved even further away from any chance of completion.
(* - as opposed to the real clandestine objectives of world domination and endless war, perpetuating the profits of the mercenaries)
Just one example of how the Blackwater/Xe thugs-r-us boys spread cheer and the Good Will of the American People is seen in this recent story from Peshawar, Pakistan. This brings the meaning of fraudulent and substandard to a new level.
The residents are mainly concerned about Blackwater's reputation as a ruthless, unbridled private army whose employees face multiple charges of murder, child prostitution and weapons smuggling in Iraq.

'Sometimes, these guys stand in the streets and behave rudely with the passers-by, sometimes they point guns at people without provocation' said Imtiaz Gul, an engineer, whose home is a few hundred metres from the US contractor's base on Chanar Road in University Town.

'Who rules our streets, the Pakistani government or the Americans? They have created a state within the state.'
Receiving tens of BILLIONS of fiat dollars from Chinese lenders the federal government, you would think that these civilization-destroying savages would feel some obligation to at least pretend to do the job that they were payed to do. You would be wrong. They are in a class with the Mongol hordes of Atilla the Hun, blithely unconcerned with the devastation they bring with them everywhere they operate. And as I recall about the Huns, they seem to have done sufficient damage to bring Europe into the Dark Ages -- from which it took over a thousand years to recover.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Sunshine Lollipops and Rainbows

Wow, so much good news lately that I may have to put my cynicism on a shelf for a while - where it can keep company with my now-out-of-date pessimism. First of all the gulf is pretty much cleaned up now according to BP and the US government. Even PresBO himself agrees. Sure they've lied to us about this from the get-go, but I'm sure we can trust them this time.

PresBO also announced that troop withdrawal from Iraq was going to be on schedule, exactly as promised. Except that 50,000 troops will still be there, but thats OK! They're 'transitional!!' Please ignore the Blackwater/Xe mercenaries who will also remain behind sucking up US tax dollars to enrich the old Cheney cabal. Anyway the country has been turned into a stable and prosperous bastion of democracy, so mission accomplished there too. I haven't felt this good since I found out that waterboarding wasn't really torture, just a 'little splash of water.'

So come on join in everybody, "Sunshine, lollipops and rainbows.."

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Saturday, May 29, 2010

RIP Dennis Hopper

I'm just now hearing that actor Dennis Hopper has died. The first time I remember seeing him was as Billy in Easy Rider. Brilliant!

According to his IMDB entry he had at that point done dozens of appearances on film and TV including guest appearances on such outstanding shows as Gunsmoke, Bonanza, Zane Grey Theater, and The Big Valley. He was also on some less outstanding fare like Petticoat Junction and The Time Tunnel. Oh well, a guy's gotta earn a living.

He was in a lot of westerns, befitting his birth in Dodge City, Kansas. He didn't have to work too hard to come across as an authentic cowboy. Starting with Giant in 1956 (when I was frickin' three years old!) he was in classics such as:
Cheyenne; Gunfight at the OK Corral (as Billy Clanton); Sugarfoot (as Billy the Kid); From Hell to Texas; The Sons of Katie Elder; The Legend of Jessie James; True Grit -- you get the idea. The list goes on, showing that he did as much to form the public idea of what a cowboy is as John Wayne or Slim Pickens.

A great career spanning over half a century, hopefully a life that was just as great for him as it was for his fans, he'll be missed.

So long, pardner.


Friday, May 07, 2010

Human Arrogance Examined

TAGS: Science, Evolution, Life, Human Race, Arrogance, Religion
I want to discuss science if I may. Specifically in an area that really arouses my passions: That is the ridiculous and arrogant assumption that the universe and everything in it was created with it's future inhabiting by mankind in mind. We've all heard the arguments about irreducible complexity and so forth. It's the basis of the idea of intelligent design. I say "idea" because "theory" isn't apt in this case. Theory is the analysis of facts and how they relate to one another while intelligent design takes facts and assumptions and even made up notions and preconceptions and compares them.
I'm not here to discuss intelligent design though. I want to address the over arching concept that without a whole lot of very specific events occurring, humanity wouldn't be here. That is absolutely true, without a doubt. If Theia hadn't smacked the Earth hard almost four and a half billion years ago, the moon wouldn't exist and our rotation and axis wouldn't be as stable as it is. There is a theory that if the Snowball Earth Era hadn't happened, life would have never been under so much pressure to adapt and to then be poised for the Cambrian Explosion when the planet finally thawed, ushering in the Phanerozoic Eon. If the Permian extinction hadn't occurred, maybe creatures related to Dimetrodon would rule the Earth and if not for a huge impact at the end of the Cretaceous, sentient dinosaurs may be quarreling about science versus religion.
We can argue and speculate about the details but it is certain that had some or all of these events not happened, the human race would not exist. We can go back even further and imagine that gravity never separated out of the electromagnetic, strong and weak forces at the very beginning of the creation of the universe with the Big Bang, leading to an endless ocean of subatomic particles that may have formed atoms but never bunched together to form anything more massive or complex than hydrogen or helium. No gravity = no stars = no people. Anywhere. There is also growing evidence that a gamma ray burst in our distant past may have also contributed to genetic modification of ancient and primitive life on Earth. What if the poles of that star had been pointed a few degrees away from us? Would I be sitting here typing this? Chances are I wouldn't be.
So yes. Except for a very specific grouping of some very unlikely events, the human race would not exist. Period. But does that then prove some divine guidance? Does that support the idea of an omnipotent sky daddy manipulating events and conditions to bring about the human race? I don't believe it does. The fact is that the universe doesn't have the properties it does for the benefit of mankind, rather WE have the properties we do because of the universe we evolved in. We owe our form, our method of reproduction, the mixture of gases we require, the temperature ranges we need, our nutritional requirements and etc because we evolved within this universe and on this planet. Conditions on Earth aren't perfect for us. We are perfect for the conditions on Earth. Assuming that life couldn't exist without those very specific circumstances and that intelligent life wouldn't be on the Earth at all if not for an accidental series of events is the very pinnacle of human arrogance. WE almost certainly wouldn't be here but I believe that life would go merrily on without us. Imagine that.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Don't Ask, Don't Tell Before and After

Some of the readers here are familiar with the general parameters of my story so I won't get too specific. I used to be an airframe technician for F-14A aircraft during the last half of the 1980s until early 1991. Although I wasn't a huge fan of the United States Navy, I enjoyed my job and I was good at it. VERY good. In fact I was so good that after I had been outed as transgendered, (by a "friend" who used his knowledge to distract from his second DUI offense), and after I had gone to Captain's Mast and after I had been told they were going to strip me of rank, benefits I'd earned and half of my pay, I was actually involuntarily EXTENDED to serve in the first Persian Gulf War. You see, though I had been deemed "unfit" to serve, I was the only person qualified to troubleshoot launches for the airframes shop and to act as flight deck safety at the same time. They told me I was being unceremoniously discharged but had to stay long enough to qualify people to replace me.
Before the hostilities were ended, I was on my way back to the states. Within 24 hours of landing, I had been reduced two pay grades, stripped of the benefits I'd earned and given an "Other Than Honorable" discharge. I say this not because I'm still wallowing in self pity after all of these years but to point out that, abominable as it is, the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy is a relative newcomer and much, MUCH better than the previous patchwork of regulations regarding LGBT service people. Then, it was largely up to the unit commander what happened to an outed person. In my own case, the unit commander had no problem with it because he knew me and what I was capable of. I was told nothing was going to happen. That was before the change of command. The new skipper DID have a problem with it, a huge one. As I hadn't even violated the UCMJ, charges were trumped up to get rid of me. I fought for a while but it was clear from the beginning that they would wear me down eventually. If they want you gone, gone you will be.
Don't Ask, Don't Tell was a compromise, (or capitulation), made by President Clinton and was codified into law on December 21, 1993 when Clinton issued Department of Defense Directive 1304.26, requiring the DOD to stop asking applicants and active duty service members to disclose their sexual orientation. It not only supposedly put a stop to that, it also homogenized the penalties and in most cases softened them, for violators of the policy against LGBT persons. For example, it was no longer solely up to the unit commanding officer what penalty violators would pay, they would all be given administrative discharges under honorable conditions, allowing them to keep their rank, pay and benefits. It didn't stop the harassment or the witch hunts though.
Though I detest the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, it is leaps and bounds better than what used to happen prior to it coming into effect. Randy Shilts wrote an excellent book called "Conduct Unbecoming" about lesbians and Gays in the military and I recommend it to people who harbor illusions about what the policy used to be and what it is today. As much as I would like to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", I have never heard of the policy being repealed for transgendered people, just for lesbians and gays. Presumably transgendered Americans will still be sexually assaulted, harassed and hounded out of the service on trumped up charges. That doesn't seem to bother gay leaders much, most of whom have never served.
I'll close by dispelling a few myths:
Myth 1) The military is some hyper macho organization, rampant with homophobes and conservative bigots.
Fact: The military is a reflection of society, except a more disciplined reflection for the most part and a much younger one overall than society as a whole.
Myth 2) Congress has to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell
Fact: Don't Ask, Don't Tell is a Department of Defense Directive, later codified into law. The commander in chief could repeal it unilaterally and immediately.
Myth 3) Repeal of DA,DT would affect unit cohesion
Fact: Actually this one is true, it will make it much better since dishonesty breeds mistrust, honesty can only foster greater trust.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Open Thread

Because we need one, as usual. And as usual, I'm too damned lazy to put up anything of substance.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Tea Bagger Airforce

There's an old joke that's so lame that it's reserved for those occasions when someone you know gets 'decorated' by a pigeon or seagull. "Aren't you glad that cows don't fly?"
You should have seen a flying cow here
Well, I guess if one had said that about the anti-government Teabagger crowd any time before today, it wouldn't have been much of a joke.

Sadly, that's all changed with the latest incident: a pilot named Joseph Andrew Stark flew his small plane into an IRS office today. It wasn't long before it was revealed that he had written a rat-wanger 'manifesto' -- boilerplate screed indicting Big Government and taxation in general.

Of course the mainstream media will avoid tying this in to the identical boilerplate screed that is voiced at any teabagger rally. They will also do their damnedest to pretend that an obvious act of domestic terrorism is nothing of the sort because it comes from someone on the right who is whiter than rice.


UPDATE: OK, I'm going to have to deliver a full-bore mea culpa on some of the above. No excuses, I was simply mislead by some descriptions of Mr. Stark's 'manifesto' (which is also misleading - it's nothing of the sort.) and speculation that he was a member of the 'tea party.' Here's the text of his swan song, preserved at The Smoking Gun. Stark's original website was understandably shut down by the hosting server.

It doesn't strike me as being overtly political, save for the fact that he obviously wanted his last act to be a wake up call to the rest of the country. It does sound desperate, but what would you expect from a suicide note, however lengthy? And a lot of his complaints are exactly those that have been voice here for quite some time - not against big government per se, but against a corrupt system that no longer responds to the people, because it no longer has to.

I'm going to wait this one out before I offer any further opinions. Jumping into a story with both feet before all the facts are in is not something I'm any damned good at.

I 'spoke' in haste. My bad.

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Saturday, February 06, 2010

FBI Wants ISPs to Spy on You

Fourth Amendment Goes the Way of Habeas Corpus

From Cnet News:

WASHINGTON--The FBI is pressing Internet service providers to record which Web sites customers visit and retain those logs for two years, a requirement that law enforcement believes could help it in investigations of child pornography and other serious crimes.

FBI Director Robert Mueller supports storing Internet users' "origin and destination information," a bureau attorney said at a federal task force meeting on Thursday.

As far back as a 2006 speech, Mueller had called for data retention on the part of Internet providers, and emphasized the point two years later when explicitly asking Congress to enact a law making it mandatory. But it had not been clear before that the FBI was asking companies to begin to keep logs of what Web sites are visited, which few if any currently do.

The FBI is not alone in renewing its push for data retention. As CNET reported earlier this week, a survey of state computer crime investigators found them to be nearly unanimous in supporting the idea. Matt Dunn, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent in the Department of Homeland Security, also expressed support for the idea during the task force meeting.

Greg Motta, the chief of the FBI's digital evidence section, said that the bureau was trying to preserve its existing ability to conduct criminal investigations. Federal regulations in place since at least 1986 require phone companies that offer toll service to "retain for a period of 18 months" records including "the name, address, and telephone number of the caller, telephone number called, date, time and length of the call."

But the good news is that if you're not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about. Frankly I'd describe this as universal warrantless wiretapping. If this is allowed the government would essentially have the 'right' to enter your home without a warrant and gather evidence against you for a crime that you have not yet formed any intention of committing. Shades of 'Minority Report.'

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah

AKA: "PresBO's State of the Union Address."

(It'll be interesting to see how he tries to talk himself out of the mess he's gotten into after a full year of kow-towing to the Republican obstructionists, with nothing to show for it.)


Friday, January 15, 2010

Open Thread

I've been applying all my spare time for the last couple days to trying to fix a friend's computer. Who knew that on today's internet you need an anti-virus program that's up to date, an anti-spyware AND a firewall? At least. Otherwise your machine will turn into a spam-bot, slow down to a crawl, and send ads for boner juice all over the world 24/7 until your ISP bans you for breaching their terms of service.

So this is what I've been doing a lot lately:

And with lots of this going on

On the thread below

it's gotten pretty long. So here's a new one.

Hopefully I'll scrape together some time to put up a real post sometime in the near future.


Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Way to Stay Classy Alaska

I heard this on the local radio station today: The city of Fairbanks Alaska put an ice sculpture of Al Gore on display for the second year, supposedly to ridicule Gore's concern over climate change. Ooooh, clever.
"Why didn't the sculpture melt if global warming is true, huh?"
Short answer: It's fucking ALASKA in the middle of winter you fucktard!!

At any rate, a heinous site called Al Gore is bragging about how this year's 8,000 lb sculpture is so much better than last year's because 1) it has audio - Gore's Copenhagen speech from last month and 2) the statue this year has been hooked up to the exhaust of a pickup truck, so that it belches noxious fumes as Gore 'speaks.' Get it? Gore is full of hot air, and they're so smart that they'll idle a truck all day and ruin Fairbanks' air quality just to make that juvenile point. "They" being designer Craig Compeau (who apparently also runs the Al Gore Lies site) and sculptor Steve Dean. They're so proud of themselves they've made a YouTube video of the sculpture.

Gore gives Copenhagen Speech

Belches Truck Exhaust

Now I wouldn't want to get so snarky here that I point out that Alaska is a state that is utterly corrupted by the influence of oil, or that they gave us both Ted Stevens and Sarah Palin, two of the most corrupt and clueless politicians to ever belch hot air. This really puts pressure on the teabag crowd to come up with something even stoopuder. OTOH it makes it significantly reduces the effort Keith Olbermann has to put out for his next Worst Persons In The World segment.

Oh, and that radio show I was listening to? The story was being used in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada as a lead-in to a Public Service announcement reminding people of a by-law that goes into effect today. In Peterborough if you idle your vehicle for more than 2 minutes you face a $30 fine. Not everybody is in a hurry to destroy the planet.

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Tuesday, January 05, 2010

This Blog Needs a New Thread

And Since We Haven't Posted a Music Video
For a While
This classic from the Staples Singers totally rocked my world when Rachel Maddow used it on her New Years Eve show. I'm using it in hopes that some of her cool will rub off on me.