Saturday, November 10, 2007

Friday, November 9, 2007

There Are No UFO's

I now have conclusive proof that UFO's do not exist. My proof: The utterly corrupt and dishonest former Governor Fife Symington claims he saw one:

(CNN) -- In 1997, during my second term as governor of Arizona, I saw something that defied logic and challenged my reality.

I witnessed a massive delta-shaped, craft silently navigate over Squaw Peak, a mountain range in Phoenix, Arizona. It was truly breathtaking. I was absolutely stunned because I was turning to the west looking for the distant Phoenix Lights.

To my astonishment this apparition appeared; this dramatically large, very distinctive leading edge with some enormous lights was traveling through the Arizona sky.

As a pilot and a former Air Force Officer, I can definitively say that this
craft did not resemble any man-made object I'd ever seen.

http://www.cnn.com/2007/TECH/science/11/09/simington.ufocommentary/index.html?iref=mpstoryview


Given that anything Symington says is patently untrue, there must not be any UFO's (I'm sorry, Mr. Kucinich, but Mr. Symington's dishonesty outweighs your honesty by several magnitudes).

This Weeks Boobie



For Friday, a masked boobie with an egg (also known as a "potential future boobie").

Thursday, November 8, 2007

A Level of Idealism

Over a beer with Zymurgian, the discussion turned to "waterboarding" and why it's wrong. I'll try not to be a naive idealist, but here goes. America used to stand for the "ideal" in human rights. By saying that our interrogation techniques are "classified", America has tacitly admitted to engaging in torture. And that tacit admission has destroyed our credibility on the international stage. While Zymurgian rightly pointed out that all wars include atrocities, in my life it was never considered that American policy would accept torture. Shrub changed all that. When our "policy" is now "classified" as far as interrogation, we have lost the moral standing to condemn the brutal practices of others.
A very stupid person at the bar said "they do worse in ...", and I tried to explain that this argument was shot down when I was a child. Simply put, "johnny did something worse" was shot down by my mother's "that doesn't change the fact that what you did was wrong".
My good friend "ducky" (yes, that is his nickname) is a Vietnam vet, who saw more shit than I can even imagine, pointed out that while atrocities occurred in Vietnam, they were considered crimes. He pointed to several cases where people who engaged in brutal acts were prosecuted.
Now we have Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib as a legacy. This is now "policy". The fact that an AG nominee won't state that "waterboarding" is illegal is a symbolic admission that we have abandoned the American ideal.
This is the tragedy of shrub. We are no longer the symbol of "idealism".
Added: The Senate confirmed Mukasy. Torture is now official policy.

A Photo

Guess where this is. Here's a truly beautiful photo album . Take a look at some places the Cheney would like to bomb.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Dear Landlord

Along with every other thing that could cause anxiety, today I'm having "landlord induced anxiety". Here's why I'm worried: The roof over my head.
I've been living in this house for about six years. The roof leaks in several places. We don't complain too much, because the rent is low for the local market. As long as I've lived here, the landlord has talked about putting a new roof on the house, which would be a good idea. But I don't have much faith.
Today, I heard tromping on the roof. It was a young man taking measurements and planning the replacement of the roof. I talked, and he explained that he's our landlords daughters boyfriend. That somehow was a qualification.
Our landlord is a really nice guy, but he's cheap and unreliable. Over a year ago, he decided to re-paint the house. Today, half the house has primer, but no new paint. The other half still has the old paint.
So I'm worried about the "new" roof. It is November. While we've had unusually dry, warm weather, we will get snow sometime soon. I fear that the roof project will begin, and then be forgotten.
I'd really rather have a roof over my head for the winter, even if it leaks.

The Upcoming Disaster

$100 a barrel for oil? Go read our pal monkeyfister for a ton of insight and information (and yes, Sweaterman, I'm glad I didn't take the bet). The falling dollar? No, I'm talking about a REAL disaster: The hops shortage:

A worldwide shortage of hops — a key beer-making ingredient — could have a big effect on the taste of specialty brews and force smaller microbreweries to hike the price of their products.The shortage can be blamed on a perfect storm of events — bad weather in hop-growing areas of the United States, Europe and Australia and a depressed U.S. dollar.


Brian Titus, president of Halifax's Garrison Brewing Company, said his brewmaster isn't sure he'll be able to make some of his beers in the new year because he hasn't been able to find some varieties of hops at all.


"It's bordering on disastrous actually. If you don't have hops then you don't have beer," said Titus.


The shortage has some breweries rethinking their brews and possibly changing beer recipes to cut down on the use of hops.


"So maybe you find something that smells similar but doesn't have the same taste profile and it doesn't have the same bitterness," said Titus.


Industry analysts speculate the shortage could force smaller breweries to hike the price of some beers by as much as 10 per cent.


Larger breweries are less likely to have to raise prices because they buy in bulk with long-term contracts.


Craft brewers don't have the means to hedge against rising prices, like their industrial rivals.


http://www.cbc.ca/consumer/story/2007/11/01/hops-shortage.html?ref=rss





This is really hitting home. My local brewery had to make a hops substitution for their latest batch of IPA, and Zymurgian has altered recipes for his 2 latest batches of homebrew. As someone who likes "hoppy" beers, I'm really worried.

Added: Here are some links to the oil/dollar issue:

DOLLAR NEW LOW...

OIL NEW HIGH...

GOLD $850

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

One State, Two State, Red State, Blue State

In regards to Py's earlier post on the "beginning" of the election campaign, it's nice to see how things have changed.

Remember this picture?


Well, it seems that some things are, ahem, a little different now:


And while I agree with Py that the 2008 election is far from decided right now, that blue picture shore duz warm my heart.

Another Bad Idea

There are so many bad ideas in our current society that I can be called "petty" for being upset about this, but I'm against this idea:

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- For the first time Tuesday, baseball general managers recommended instant replay be used to help umpires make difficult decisions.

The recommendation, by a 25-5 vote, was limited to boundary calls -- whether potential home runs are fair or foul, whether balls go over fences or hit the top and bounce back, and whether fans interfere with possible homers.

http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/news;_ylt=AuhD4G5t2tyKykgQoeipLGgRvLYF?slug=ap-instantreplay&prov=ap&type=lgns



I've been a baseball fan since I was a small child, and played for decades, so maybe I'm a traditionalist. But a part of the beauty of the game is the human factor of the umpires. In the course of the long season, bad calls even out. And they give us fans something to argue about. Instant replay will only slow the game down, while removing some of the inherent emotion.
Then again, I still oppose the designated hitter rule.

52 Weeks


Today we are 52 weeks away from the election, so it's now truly campaign season (yeah, I know the campaigns started a long time ago, but I consider that "pre-season"). Now we'll get to see who's got the best arm when slinging the mud. We'll watch the media spin the images to fit the pre-planned narrative. By the time the actual votes are cast, the average voter will be disgusted with the entire process. They'll be voting for whoever they hate the least.
Brilliant prognostication, right? Not really. Just the observations of a political junkie who's been involved in every election since 1968.
The consensus amongst the pundits seems to be that the Dems are a shoe in, in the wake of the disaster that is shrub. I don't buy it. There is plenty of time for slime.
Likewise, the punditocracy has chosen Hillary as the winning Dem. I remain unconvinced. While she has great name recognition, she's not that popular with the general public. The question is whether Obama/Edwards/Other can take advantage of the opening.
On the rethuglican side...agh, I'm not going there (I would rather retain my lunch). Suffice to say that the eventual nominee will be a white guy who the media will portray as strong and manly. The talking heads will swoon over him while blathering for hours on any petty flaw they can find on the Democratic nominee.
Thanks to the flurry of early primaries, the nominees will probably be chosen by February, leaving plenty of time for a long mud slinging season. But there is a real possibility that all the early primaries will split between candidates, creating an intense political playoff lasting into March. We'll see.
The bottom line is that we will not get the person who would be the best President, but rather the person with the best mud slinging and dodging talent. It's a strange, sad system.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Pakistan



I have been trying to write a "smart" post on Pakistan, but it keeps falling apart. Basically, "what a fucking mess" is not a profound insight. The best insight I've come to is the old axiom "there are no national allies, only national interests".

General Musharraf is engaging in a power consolidation. He's suspended the courts, arrested the opposition, and is now dealing with rioting lawyers. It has nothing to do with terrorism, as Musharraf has basically taken the appeasement route with the islamist factions, ceding a fair amount of autonomy to the tribal regions in the northeast.

Shrub and Condi are calling for a return to "democracy" and elections. But you can tell that they really don't want it. Musharraf has been our guy, and they don't want to risk the possibility that Pakistan would end up with a leader less friendly to America.

And there are the nukes.

For real analysis, I suggest Barnett Rubin at Informed Comment: Global Affairs

Added: Shrub adds his own brand of ... well...whatever he adds:

on Secretary Rice's recent phone call with President Musharraf. I asked the Secretary to call him to convey this message: that we expect there to be elections as soon as possible, and that the President should remove his military uniform.

So he told Condi to tell Musharraf to "get naked"? That's just weird.

(sorry. the writers guild is on strike.)

Inflating Value

Yesterday I jokingly posted the results of "what is your blog worth?". I found some amusement that somehow this blog could have a dollar value, since it produces nothing tangible or marketable.
But it got me thinking about the inflating value that markets place on assets that have no intrinsic worth. As Citibank is reporting a loss of $11 billion dollars in what are basically unregulated markets that are based purely on speculation, I'm wondering where the next shoe will drop. I look at the stock market which currently operates like a giant casino, as opposed to an actual investment in solid business practices. Google is now the fifth most "valuable" corporation, based on stock prices. This makes no sense. I mean, Google is a wonderful thing, but what do they actually produce? Advertisements to sell products that others produce.
I'm no economist, but I wonder how much of our financial system is really one big ponzi scheme? The real estate bubble assumed that there would always be someone who would pay more for the house in the future. The stock market assumes that someone will be willing to pay more for the stock tomorrow. And the federal budget assumes that other countries will continue to buy our debt.
How many of these "assets" have any more intrinsic value than this blog?

Story Time

Over at Jones Town our dear friend Dcup of PoliTits has written a masterful piece of short fiction. I strongly suggest that you go read. I'm not going to spoil it for you, but suffice to say that it's quite timely and it fits with some of the feelings of paranoia that occur as a result of our current political climate.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Pygalgia Sells Out

I decided to plug Pygalgia into "how much is your blog worth?" and got this as a result:




Your blog, http://www.pygalgia.blogspot.com/, is worth
$19,758.90


My blog is worth $19,758.90.
How much is your blog worth?






So Pygalgia is now up for sale. Heck, I'll settle for the straight $19K, never mind the change.