Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas, And Such



Hope you all are having wonderful holidays, Christmas or otherwise. Mine has been quite nice. Anyway, wishing the best to all of you, and thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Day For Joy



Happy Winter Solstice (depending on where you are), and I hope you'll also celebrate Global Orgasm for Peace Day today.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Craziness





I think maybe I chose the wrong year to try being sane. For reasons that aren't really clear, I read This, which lead me to this article:









This incident with Iran getting one of our top secret military drones, has been puzzling me since it happened. It's vaguely reminiscent of the alleged killing of Osama Bin Laden, with no evidence shown to the American people. ( Personally, I think he's been dead since around 2003, have seen no evidence otherwise, and think Obama staged the incident just so he could take credit. People prove they're alive by showing up, and he hadn't shown up in any way, in years. )




But we've been hearing reports recently, that socialists and gangs have been infiltrating our military now. So this leaves two very disturbing possibilities left.




One, that Obama passed down direct orders through a trusted chain of command, to land this drone in Iran, possibly sparking a war with Iran, and handing over our top secret military technology to them and their Russian and Chinese allies.




Or it may have been the act of a lone traitor who was operating the drone and decided to do this act on their own.




So then I read Larry Klayman, who claimed that Obama gave Iran the drone because the Iranian government was financing his presidential campaign:






Barack Hussein Obama was complicit in this treasonous act. By allowing the radical Islamic mullahs in Iran, China and Russia to have our highest technology when he simply could have ordered the destruction of the drone once it went down, Obama cemented my strong belief that he is a traitor. That's why I call Obama the "mullah in chief." . Bill Clinton and his criminal wife, Hillary, were the "Manchurian Candidates," but Obama and Hillary are now the "Islamic Iranian Candidates," an analogy the movie that depicted how Chinese communists infiltrated the highest reaches of our government. The primary explanation for Obama and Clinton rolling over for the Iranian Islamist mullahs is that they were paid off, that is, bribed



Now, everyone enjoys a good conspiracy theory. But this is virgin on the re-dick-u-luss. Of course, my sanity may be questioned based on the simple fact that I read these lunatics, and chose to post about it. Not the craziest thing I've ever done, but not the sanest, either.


Added: I am now composing a screed explaining how Obama conspired with Kim-Jong-Un to cause the power outage that delayed the 49ers-Steelers Monday Night Football game.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

And So It Ends

The war in Iraq has officially come to a close, as the last convoy of American troops crosses the border into Kuwait.


BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The last convoy of U.S. soldiers pulled out of Iraq on Sunday, ending nearly nine years of war that cost almost 4,500 American and tens of thousands of Iraqi lives and left a country grappling with political uncertainty.


The war launched in March 2003 with missiles striking Baghdad to oust President Saddam Hussein closes with a fragile democracy still facing insurgents, sectarian tensions and the challenge of defining its place in an Arab region in turmoil.


The final column of around 100 mostly U.S. military MRAP armored vehicles carrying 500 U.S. troops trundled across the southern Iraq desert from their last base through the night and daybreak along an empty highway to the Kuwaiti border.


After Obama announced in October that troops would come home by the end of the year as scheduled, the number of U.S. military bases was whittled down quickly as hundreds of troops and trucks carrying equipment headed south to Kuwait.


Only around 150 U.S. troops will remain in the country attached to a training and cooperation mission at the huge U.S. embassy on the banks of the Tigris river.


At the height of the war, more than 170,000 U.S. troops were in Iraq at more than 500 bases. By Saturday, there were fewer than 3,000 troops, and one base - Contingency Operating Base Adder, 300 km (185 miles) south of Baghdad.


news.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/12/last-us-troops-leave-iraq-ending-war.php?ref=fpa


Well, I guess we should all be glad that it's over, and that Obama kept his promise on Iraq.


Such a stupid and tragic waste. A war begun on lies, whose toll in blood and treasure has yet to be fully paid. The carnage inflicted upon the Iraqi people will linger for decades. And for what? To remove one brutal but impotent dictator from a world with dozens of other brutal dictators, and inflict chaos as a result.

There were never any 'weapons of mass destruction', despite all the right wing media hype. Saddam was never a 'threat' to the United States; only a minor inconvenience with a lot of oil.

We spent (at least) 4,474 American soldiers lives, and well over a trillion dollars destroying Iraq. When it comes to 'weapons of mass destruction', we're by far the world leaders. Meanwhile, we're letting our own country fall into disrepair and decay, citing austerity and budget deficits. Demolishing Iraq's infrastructure took priority over repairing our own. As someone who has worked jobs in both demolition and construction, I know that demolishing things is more fun than building them. But the results are no where near as satisfying.




Have we learned a lesson from our arrogance and hubris? Sadly, I think not. All the republican presidential candidates except Ron Paul are advocating for military action against Iran. The neocons and the military industrial complex continue, their bloodlust unsated. And Dick "the dick" Cheney is still alive, so the world still isn't safe from madmen bent on destruction.




Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Latest Medical Miracle




While reading the headlines this morning, and this article caught my eye:






We have created the ultimate hangover cure in a pill (just in time
for Christmas), claim U.S scientists



Wow, that's great! Medical science that we can really use, right? Then I read the actual article to find out more about this great discovery. Uhm:



Hailed as a miracle cure by its maker, the pill contains 500 milligrams of aspirin, 60 milligrams of caffeine and an antacid to soothe upset stomachs.


Yup, that's quite the 'miracle' cure you've invented there. Nobody ever tried treating a hangover with aspirin, caffeine, and antacid before, right?



Jesus Christ on toast, but it don't take much to qualify for miracle status these days.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

'Here' is not 'There'





While the move to Minnesota has been good for the most part, there are a number of things that I do miss about Flagstaff. Mostly, friends and the community. I got a reminder of this in the comments, when my old buddy (oops, he's not that "old") Bill said:






You missed sampling my brine soaked and smoked wild turkey at Maker's Monday. It got rave reviews!



Dang! Sorry I missed that. Although I have gotten to enjoy the results of one of my housemates having success with deer hunting season. In fact, Venison is on the menu for dinner tonight, so I'm not suffering too badly.



But it is really cold here now. Which means it's time for a truly Minnesota form of insanity: Ice Fishing! Most of the folks I know around here (including the woman I live with, who has a sanity deficiency and two fishing poles) are excitedly gearing up for this. I am not. I have plenty of ice in the freezer, and no one can convince me that 'free range, wild caught' ice is that much better than the domestic commercially produced form. While there are rumors that sometimes people accidentally catch fish along with the ice, everyone clearly agrees that the most prevalent feature is still "ice", which is by nature fornicating cold. So I'm not enthused about this activity.



Maybe if my old buddies like Bill, Urland, Sweaterman, Maverick, Teeter, Bliss!, and the rest of the gang all came up (and Zymurgian came down) for an ice fishing excursion, I could generate some enthusiasm. Otherwise, I'd rather stay warm inside with my boring freezer made ice.


Added: Actually, Bill is enough of a crazy outdoor adventure type that he might enjoy ice fishing.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Playoffs!



Yes, my beloved San Francisco 49'ers are going to the playoffs for the first time since 2002! This makes me quite happy, as it has been a while since the glory years of Montana and Young (I grew up a Niners fan back when John Brodie was the quarterback). Needless to say: Go Niners!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Obscene Weather



The weather gods are after me! Notice how the snow front stretches all the way from my old home in Flagstaff all the way to my new home in Minnesota.


(Commercial break:)
Authoritative voice: "Do you suffer from Spontaneous Combustion? Ask your firefighter if water is right for you!
(End commercial.)
I'll be hiding under my blankets and indulging all my paranoid fantasies now.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving, Y'all!



Hope y'all have plenty of football in the oven and food on the TV. Enjoy the celebration, and thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

11/22



11/22/1963 is a date when the history of America was profoundly changed for the worse.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Battle Lines Being Drawn

(yeah, every blogger on the left has posted this picture)

I admit that I haven't participated in the Occupy protests nearly as frequently as I would have liked. 'Real Life' has a way of keeping so many of us busy, which is why I believe that the Occupy protests actually represent a much larger segment of the population than the physical number of participants. 98% of the 99% sympathize with the cause, but they're too busy dealing with being the living symptoms of the disease to actively confront the source of their suffering.
That could start changing real soon.
Taking a look at the bigger picture: the Occupy protests have gotten large enough that the 1%'ers are getting very nervous and striking back. A few examples: 18 cities coordinated police crack downs on Occupy protests, the police are busting heads, beating up pregnant women, old ladies, judges, legal observers (and see this), reporters, skinny students and military heroes. And they’re using military weapons on the American people (militarization of the police has been ongoing for decades). For example, police have been using military sound cannons on protesters. Indeed, police reportedly used a sound cannon to interrupt and disperse protesters peacefully singing the National Anthem.
And now, as further proof the 1%'ers are getting scared, they're deploying their favorite weapon: lobbyists!


A well-known Washington lobbying firm with links to the financial industry has proposed an $850,000 plan to take on Occupy Wall Street and politicians who might express sympathy for the protests, according to a memo obtained by the MSNBC program "Up w/ Chris Hayes."


The proposal was written on the letterhead of the lobbying firm Clark Lytle Geduldig & Cranford and addressed to one of CLGC's clients, the American Bankers Association.

CLGC's memo proposes that the ABA pay CLGC $850,000 to conduct "opposition research" on Occupy Wall Street in order to construct "negative narratives" about the protests and allied politicians....
Two of the memo's authors, partners Sam Geduldig and Jay Cranford, previously worked for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio.../
nomoremister.blogspot.com/2011/11/gulling-zillionaire-rubes-i-cant-tell.html#links


Funny, I thought the corporate media was already doing their masters bidding. But I guess sometimes you have to elevate the propaganda even further. So remember: "protester" is another word for "dirty fucking hippie", and being poor is a sign that you're just lazy. Make sure that all the "real Americans" hate and fear the 'radicals', lest they join into some sort of rebellion.
Our current reality is a direct result of the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision. Our democracy went up for sale to the highest bidder, and naturally, the richest were able to buy the most politicians to run the government for their benefit. Historically, free elections inoculated America against revolution, as we could 'throw the bums out' every couple of years. But the game is now thoroughly rigged: the rich own all the candidates, control the airwaves, and are well on their way to disenfranchising the most oppressed parts of the population.
I doubt this is going to end well...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Invading Australia



As I'm sure you've heard (sarcasm), America will soon be deploying Marines to Australia. OK, the deployment doesn't involve any fighting, but it is another example of how out of whack our priorities are:



President Obama and Prime Minister Julia Gillard of Australia announced plans on Wednesday for the first sustained American military presence in Australia, a relatively small deployment that is still a major symbol of American intentions to use regional alliances to counterbalance a rising China...


The first 200 to 250 Marines will arrive next year, with forces rotating in and out and eventually building to 2,500-strong, the two leaders said.
www.nytimes.com/2011/11/17/world/asia/obama-and-gillard-expand-us-australia-military-ties.html?_r=2&hp


Let's see...Sec. of Def. Panetta recently screamed at the thought of any defense budget cuts possibly coming from the 'congressional super committee', but we have plenty of money to send Marines to Australia, as some sort of message to China. A very cunning plan...I guess.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Thought of the day

I wouldn't mind the fact that the news drives me to drink if it would at least pay the tab and drive me home afterwards.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Latest Circus

Not that I really wanted to post anything about Ol' Hermie Cain, but...I mean, the guy ran a chain that made one of the worst fast food pizzas imaginable, and now he's running for president? New rule: if ya' can't make a decent pizza, ya' can't be president ( I am assuming Barack can pull it off).
Now Ol' Hermie's got himself a 'sex scandal', which is a guaranteed way to get yourself a lot of media attention. And on a few rare occasions, some actual consequences (ask John Edwards). The media know that old marketing axiom: sex sells. It sells much better than politics, no matter how simple you make your slogan.
Which is why we'll get lots and lots of air time on this "scandal", but the very real nationally damaging historic crimes committed by The Cheney never caught the media's interest. Ol' Hermie is just the latest act to be thrust on stage.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Powered By The People



It's such a simple idea: people can generate power. The Occupy movement grasps the concept. And when Mayor Bloombulbug took away the gas powered generators, bicycle generators fired up:



Having lost their gas-powered generators, the protestors at Occupy Wall Street are turning to a more eco-friendly alternative: pedal power.


Keegan Stephan, a bike mechanic and environmentalist at the Zuccotti Park site of the protest in New York, has been pedaling a stationary bronze Schwinn bicycle to provide energy for the protesters' encampment.


"People get really excited when they see these bikes," George Pingeon, a bike tour guide involved with the effort, told the New York Times.


How does the contraption work? The bike is connected to a flywheel, which in turn connects to a dynamo, the Times explains. That dynamo creates energy, which flows through a motor and a one-way diode to charge a black battery.


news.yahoo.com/blogs/lookout/power-people-occupy-wall-street-uses-bikes-generate-141853827.html


Generating electricity is really rather simple: spin the reverse of an electric motor, and electricity comes out. Spinning a generator by using a bicycle is not a new concept. But, hey, you've got a lot of people; let them make their own power.

Now all we need to do is translate this into the political process.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Suggested Reading



I highly recommend that you go read our old blog buddy Badtux's piece Occupy Wall Street in one picture. Sample:



60% of Americans own less than 5% of America. I.e., they're flat broke, lacking the fundamental capital to do anything at all to improve their economic position. Meanwhile, 5% of Americans own 59.4% of America. The top 5%, and especially the top 1%, have set up an anti-capitalist system where they are the rulers, and the bottom 60% are their serfs. This isn't capitalism. This is neo-feudalism.


...



This is not sustainable in a democracy. It isn't. OWS is just a canary in the coal mine here. The amount of pressure building down below is enormous and when it blows... nothing good will happen, guaranteed. Nothing good.


I can only agree, and wish that I could explain it so clearly.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Ending the Disaster



The absolute worst mistake in the history of American foreign policy is coming to an end as Obama has announced the complete withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq. I suppose this is a good thing, pursuant to the first rule of holes: when you're in one, stop digging. But nothing 'good' has or will come out of our horrible misadventure that was the invasion of Iraq. The price paid will be beyond measure, but here's a quick look at some of the costs:



8 years, 260 days since Secretary of State Colin Powell presented evidence of Saddam Hussein’s biological weapons program


8 years, 215 days since the March 20, 2003 invasion of Iraq


8 years, 175 days since President George W. Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” speech on the USS Abraham Lincoln


4,479 U.S. military fatalities


30,182 U.S. military injuries


468 contractor fatalities


103,142 – 112,708 documented civilian deaths


2.8 million internally displaced Iraqis


$806 billion in federal funding for the Iraq War through FY2011


$3 – $5 trillion in total economic cost to the United States of the Iraq war according to economist Joseph E. Stiglitz and Linda J. Blimes


$60 billion in U.S. expenditures lost to waste and fraud in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001


0 weapons of mass destruction found in Iraq


thinkprogress.org/security/2011/10/21/350368/iraq-by-the-numbers-the-worlds-costliest-cakewalk/


When the shrub/Cheney misadministration slunk into power they made clear their intention to invade Iraq as soon as they could conjure up a plausible pretext. 9/11 became that 'justification', despite the fact that there was absolutely zero connection. Let's face it: the American public was rather gullible at the time, and could easily be sold that a known dusky "boogyman" was a valid target for retribution. All that was required to substitute "Saddam" for "Osama" was a relentless front page marketing campaign, and the phrase "weapons of mass destruction" certainly sounds scary, especially when repeated often and loudly enough.

It was all a pack of lies.

The real legacy of the war in Iraq wont be told for years, and many of the realities may never be faced. America unilaterally invaded another country without justification or provocation, slaughtered civilians and committed atrocities that we will never be held truly accountable for. We wasted trillions of dollars on death and destruction, while our own country and citizens fell into poverty and decay. Shrub and 'the Cheney' truly are guilty of an astounding array of war crimes, but will never be tried in any court of law despite all the evidence against them.

In short: an incredible amount was lost and absolutely nothing was gained by going to war in Iraq. Forgive me if I don't feel much like celebrating its end.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Rangers? Bummer.

Once again, the Texas Rangers will represent the American League in the World Series. I hate the Rangers (almost as much as I hate the Yankees), and will never forgive them for one simple reason: they effectively are guilty of giving us shrub Bush. Shrub owned a minority share of the team (thanks to a sweetheart family deal) which he sold to finance his run for governor of Texas, which then led to his (Supreme Court aided) disastrous elevation to president. The country has yet to recover from his mis-administration, and the Rangers are partially to blame.
If you watched the games on TV, there was shrub at every Texas home game, yucking it up from his luxury box like the spoiled rich kid with a shiny toy that he is. And I'm sure we'll see him at every Texas home game during the series, when the only place I'd ever want to see his smirking mug is on trial at the Hague.
Last year it was very easy to root against the Rangers, as they were playing my beloved Giants. This year, they will be opposed by one of two teams (either the Cardinals or the Brewers) for whom I generally have rather neutral feelings. But I'm rooting for either one over the hated Rangers. Normally, I don't think of baseball as a political issue. But I'm willing to make an exception for shrub and the Rangers.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Some Thoughts on Occupy Minneapolis

Having spent the majority of yesterday at the Occupy Minneapolis protests, I'm going to share a few of my observations. The crowd, while not huge, was large enough to be notable. At the peak, I'd estimate around 800-1,000 people (I'm pretty good at estimating crowd sizes, having worked rock concerts for a lot of years), but only about 500 'real' participants, the rest being passersby who kind of 'stopped in'. Very diverse; the usual drum circle hippies that the media likes to focus on, a strong union turnout (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, United Steel Workers, Nursing and Teachers Unions all having a notable presence), lots of seniors, and a whole bunch of 'just plain working class folks', along with the LaRouche and Paulite fringe. Which is great, with the minor exception that there always seemed to be three different bullhorns shouting to different audiences at the same time. And the free food booths had vegan tabouli and the greasiest cheeseburgers I've ever seen, all available at the same time.
Quite a few witty signs. The one I carried read "We don't make bootstraps in America anymore", which may have been a little too subtle. I actually had a lady tell me "Your sign is wrong. Target sells American made bootstraps", and when I tried to explain that it was an 'analogy' she just looked confused. Sorry, no pics, as my camera failed to survive my last river trip before I moved up here.
It's true that, as the media pundits love to point out, there's no clear 'message' or 'agenda' coming out of the Occupy demonstrations, but I think that could be a strength rather than a weakness. What there clearly was is a general consensus that things are going very badly for most of us, that it is wrong and unfair, and that the country needs to seriously reevaluate the way that our economy works. That over riding feeling is likely far more important than any one single policy proposal, given that "one size fits all" doesn't work for all the "99%" present. And I don't believe that the majority wanted any one "answer" so much as they just want a fair chance. The vast majority of the crowd are the type of working people who could 'get by' in the past, but now can't find jobs or fear losing the jobs they have, are overwhelmed by costs from housing and medical care, and are generally afraid for their and their children's future. They're not looking for a revolution; rather, they just want to have a system that works.
So how meaningful is it? I'm really not certain. I do know that this was very different from any other protest I've ever participated in (and believe me, as an old liberal hippie, I've been part of many protests), and it looks to be growing. If I were a "1%er", I'd be worried.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Occupy Everywhere

When I first read about the Occupy Wall Street protests, my cynical response was "like that'll accomplish anything." Tomorrow, I will be joining in at the Occupy Minneapolis protest.
What changed? Well, momentum for one major thing. Seems like a lot of people were just waiting for a venue to express their anger at our current economic situation. Once the protests achieved that critical level of mass where the media could no longer ignore them, and more people became aware that they weren't alone in their angst, protests began springing up all around the country. Now, every major city has one. And a lot of smaller towns are getting action, too.
The (corporate owned) media has tried to downplay it, and marginalize the crowds as being "hippies and anarchists", but it isn't working. For one simple reason: the public sees the protesters, and they see themselves. Working Americans who've played by the rules but are struggling harder and harder just to survive, barely employed or unemployed, while the wealthiest grow increasingly richer. The general public may be dumb, but they're not stupid; they know that something is going dramatically wrong in this country, and that they're the ones getting screwed.
It was entertaining to watch the 'pundits' in the first week or so of Occupy Wall Street, all agreeing that the protesters had "no clear message or agenda." Which, while partly true, is absolutely irrelevant. Remember back during Stephen Colbert's rally where the crowd was chanting "three word slogan, three word slogan" over and over? That was brilliant satire. The simple fact is that there is no simple slogan or message to address the complex problems facing us. We need a systemic change, and right now those in power are doing all they can to prevent any such change. Just look at the congressional republicans (not that the democrats are a whole lot better) who claim to be about "jobs, jobs, jobs" and address this by attempting to further restrict women's access to abortion. Not quite sure how that agenda is supposed to work, but they seem to believe that it will hurt Obama's chances of re-election so they're pushing it as far as they can.
Ya' wanna boost America's economy? It really wouldn't be that hard to do. Just drop a few trillion dollars on infrastructure repair and upgrade. Doing that would require a lot of workers, who then would have more income, which they would then spend buying things, which would boost that magical 'consumer spending' that business so covets. "But we don't have the money because of the deficit" conservatives will scream. Funny, we had plenty of trillions to spend destroying and rebuilding the infrastructure of Iraq and Afghanistan (OK, not that Afghanistan had any real infrastructure to destroy, but we're rebuilding one anyway) and besides, as my blog friend badtux the snarky penguin likes to point out, the government owns a printing press. During a recession, putting more money into circulation is a smart move; austerity only prolongs the recession. Oh, and all those workers: They'd be paying taxes on that income, instead of not paying income tax due to a lack of income. I know that this will come as a shock to the tea party folk, but most people don't mind paying taxes if they're earning more money.
Will these protests actually accomplish any change? I have no idea. I do know that it's worth a try. I know that protesting against the Iraq war didn't prevent it. But sitting around, doing nothing, certainly isn't going to effect any change. And this movement seems to be growing and spreading. If enough of us are out there showing our faces and raising our voices, that top 1% just might get nervous enough and realise that there's a limit to how much they can get away with. If they're halfway smart, they'll understand that the time to engage in some wealth redistribution is before the pitchforks and torches enter their gated communities.
So I'll be joining my local Occupy protest. And I hope you will, too. After all, it's not like we have the money to buy our own congressperson. But if there are enough of us out there, we might be able to scare them into action. Besides, anything that upsets Eric Cantor is a thing well worth doing.
Added: My old pal monkeyfister is back in action, and he's on fire about the Occupy protests.
Added 2: Heres some maps for Occupy Everywhere and Occupy Together. Hope there's one near you!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Happy National Vodka Day

Happy National Vodka Day. While I’m more of a beer guy myself, I support this holiday. More - here, here and here. And all my old friends in Arizona can celebrate with local vodka from my friends at www.arizonahighspirits.com/index.php.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Today's "Did You Know?"

Did you know that...
If you hold your ear up against a strangers leg, you can hear



them saying "what the fuck are you doing?"

It's true.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

History and Technology



That is a photo of the card catalog of the Library of Congress around 1918. Now, many of us carry all that information and more around in our pocket. Less than a century later.

Which is why I'm always skeptical when I hear someone projecting what the future will be like in more than a fairly short period. Especially economists.

If someone in 1918 said "in less than a century, we'll fit all this onto something the size of a small book" they'd most likely land in an asylum.

(Prompted by a conversation today with a person who was quite adamantly telling me about the future of technology. I'm not saying that he was wrong; just that I'm skeptical that his predictions will be the actual reality.)

(Also, I thought Sweaterman would like the pic.)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Latest Sign of the Apocalypse



OK, not really. But it is a break with one of those traditions that had been true throughout my life:



Hoping to boost sagging revenue, the U.S. Postal Service on Monday abandoned its longstanding rule that stamps cannot feature people who are still alive and is asking the public for suggestions.


http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_STAMPS_ALIVE?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT


It was a concrete rule that the only way to get on a postage stamp was to die. And it was a sacred truth that anybody on a U.S. stamp was dead.

And now that I think about it, a Lady Gaga postage stamp could really be a sign that civilization is doomed.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Dormant; Not Dead, But Changing



This old blog has been suffering from an abundance of inactivity lately, I know. There's a reasonably good reason for this, at least in my mind: I've been making major life changes. While I rarely post much 'personal blogging', I'll share this update.

For a variety of reasons, I've moved from my beloved Flagstaff, AZ, to Minnesota. It was a difficult decision, as I have many dear friends in Flag. Not to mention Minnesota winters, which I'm not really looking forward to. But after 17 years in Flag (city motto: poverty with a view), my life had become quite stagnant. Here in Minnesota I've got good job prospects and a good woman to share my life with. And I really needed to get out of the rut my life was in.

I have no idea whether this change will lead to more blogging or even less, but at least the politics will be better. Heck, in the senate alone I just traded John McCain and Jon Kyl for Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken. Which is a damn good trade when you think about it.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Obligatory 9/11 Post

There is no 'win' in a war against a verb.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Presidents and Chess




Read a very interesting article on which US Presidents played chess. I happen to enjoy a good game of chess, myself. I'm not saying that playing chess means that you are smarter-I know plenty of smart people who don't play-but it is a game where intelligence matters.

(sorry, I tried to post the table, but the formatting is royally screwed up. Just go to the link to see.)




Now, what first struck me is the party breakdown among those who have been President during my lifetime. Every Democratic since LBJ has been a chess player, while Dwight Eisenhower was the only Republican who played (and the last decent Republican President in my opinion) during my lifetime.




Doesn't prove anything, but it is an interesting (at least to me) division.


Friday, August 26, 2011

Hurricane Advice

With hurricane Irene bearing down on the east coast, blog friend Jack of What Would Jack Do has posted A few tips on hurricane preparation for the uninitiated, and it's a great read. My favorite tip:



4. Alcohol (and limes). I can’t stress this enough. No self-respecting human being should EVER have to face an approaching tropical storm of ANY strength without a sizable supply of alcohol and associated accoutrements.

Seriously though, this looks like a very real threat and I urge all my east coast readers to take all appropriate precautions.
Added: Here's FEMA's Hurricane preparedness page.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Could Be Worse




Haven't felt like posting anything about the stupid bullshit debt ceiling debate as the whole process has been disgusting and depressing. A crisis ginned up by thugs to force a choice between cutting federal spending during a recession (a very bad idea) or defaulting and blowing up the whole global economy (a really, really, really very bad idea) ain't much of a choice.


So now we've got a "compromise" that's only 'very bad' as opposed to a total disaster. The rethugs get to expand their policy of "death to the poor", the dims continue to be weak and useless, and the recession will grind on even longer. No new jobs for anyone, even though that is what the economy actually needs.


The only good thing in the whole process was Rep. Gabrielle Giffords makes first return to House since Jan. 8th shooting to cast vote in favor of debt deal. Everything else was dismal.

Added: Passed the senate 74-26. Now we get another "bi-partisan commission", and we all know that those always work wonders.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Pics that made me happy

My beloved San Francisco Giants being honored at the White House.


I wonder if 'The Beard' could help with the debt ceiling negotiations?


Monday, July 25, 2011

Congrats, New York



Gay people are getting married in New York, and that's a great thing. My view on gay marriage is really quite simple: 'equal rights' means equal rights for all.

I'm reminded of Branch Rickey's statement on the integration of baseball, "I truly believe that future generations will look back and wonder what all the fuss was about."

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Current Budget Priorities

(click for big)
The above graphic comparing the cost of going to The moon vs. Afghanistan(the moon landing was cheaper, even after adjusting for inflation) got me thinking about how much America's priorities have changed in my lifetime. While the comparison between the space program and our current wars is more "apples to hubcaps" than "apples to oranges", it still is a clear example of changes in government expenditures. The end of America's manned space program and the shuttle program is a fact; the end of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are future hypotheticals at best.
As congress and the administration engage in kabuki theater around the budget and deficit, parsing away on how much they should kill the 'American dream' by (one side wants it completely extinct, while the other side would leave a small sliver on life support), I despair at the choices being made. We've gone from "anything is possible" to "everything is impossible" in a few short decades. The future is most certainly not what it used to be.
Which is why I rarely feel like blogging anymore...
Added: here's a good read: Social Security's Been Successful For Eighty Years. Reaganisn's Been A Failure For Thirty.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Charming Fellow




(Cloud over Flagstaff. Photo by George Breed)


My local Congressman, Paul Gosar, is a pretty typical wingnut repub. But he's usually just clueless and not particularly notable. However, one of his staffers has resigned after a series of violent tweets that sound very disturbing for anyone here locally:






A staffer in the Flagstaff office of Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) who used his Twitter account to trumpet the downfall of former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) resigned Friday after Roll Call discovered violent messages he tweeted.



Roll Call learned on Friday that Blake Schritter, a caseworker and office manager in one of Gosar’s district offices, had posted messages about drunken exploits and his desire to gun down professors and postal workers.



http://www.rollcall.com/news/rep_gosar_staffer_quits_after_violent_twitter_posts-207127-1.html?pos=htmbtxt



For example, he wants to shoot NAU professors:




"I can’t believe how unprofessional liberal professors can be. I’m sitting here, cleaning my gun, thinking...this is a classroom!!!” Schritter, a graduate student in Northern Arizona University’s criminology program who also graduated from the school's criminal justice program, posted on June 23.


And the local postal workers (many of whom are friends of mine):




On June 2 he tweeted: “The line at the post office is moving at a glacial pace. I’m ready to open fire with a handgun to get some damn service!”


Come election time, it might be a good idea to remember the kind of charming people Rep. Gosar chooses to employ to staff his local office.

Also, this being Arizona, this guy is free to carry his guns all around town, concealed if he so desires.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Truth



This one is for Fearguth at Bildungblog, who makes me jealous.

One Last Time



Atlantis had a successful liftoff this morning, the last space shuttle flight. The end of thirty years of service.

What makes this such a melancholy moment is that this is the effective death of America's manned space program. As someone who grew up with the glory of the race to the moon, space was always exciting. We believed that we could do anything; that science, technology, and invention were our future.

But America is now a dying empire, and this is our last big show of our prowess. We can't build anymore manned spacecraft programs. The simple fact that a thirty year old vehicle is the best we have (and are retiring) makes me sad. Thirty years without advancing any further, nor any plan to advance ahead.

Another dream from our childhood now dying, and it's all downhill from here.

Friday, July 1, 2011

How Exciting



For the most part, I've been ignoring the republican presidential primary contenders. A circus only made up of clowns has very little entertainment value. But now that Thaddeus McCotter is filing his presidential paperwork today and plans to formally announce tomorrow, I just might have to take interest. He's such an exciting candidate, after all. Right?

< /satire >

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Beer History



File this under "jobs I wish I had":


Really interesting for us beer fans.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The 40 Year War



On June 17th, 1971, Richard Nixon declared a "war" on drugs. It really should have been called a "war on some people who use some drugs", as pharmaceuticals have obviously been given a pass. Fourty years later we have the worlds highest rate of incarceration, drug gangs, and millions of lives ruined, but plenty of 'illegal' drugs available. Could we declare 'peace' now? Because this war will never be won.

Long time blog friend badtux the snarky penguin has a great piece, An anniversary on the topic. Well worth reading.

(Also, I apologize for the lack of posts lately. I just really haven't felt much like blogging about stuff recently.)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Hullabaloo



Spending the day at Flagstaff Hullabaloo (www.flagstaffhullabaloo.com), a "celebration of all things Flagstaff", which includes the reunion of iconic local band Onus B. Johnson. This should be fun.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Ancient History



File under "things that make me feel old": Today would be John F. Kennedy's 94th birthday, were he still alive. Because of that day in Dallas, I'll always remember him as a 'young' man, and wonder how our history might have been so different had he lived a long, full life.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Buster Broken




This is a very sad day for all of us Giants fans. Buster Posey suffered a broken ankle in a collision at the plate in last night's game. Posey was an essential key part in the Giants quest to repeat as world champions, not only because he's a great hitter but because of the way he handles the Giants pitchers. It's hard to see the Giants succeeding without him.


Damn!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Another Failed Rapture

Once again, an 'end of the world' prophecy has been proven wrong. That makes five or six apocalypses I've lived through (not counting the shrub administration).

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Rapture Flow Chart

(Click for big enough to read)
As this chart clearly shows, you are not going to be raptured. Of course, the mere fact that you are reading this blog is proof of impure thoughts, so you will be "left behind".
Also, I really wish the rapture were true. It would be nice to be rid of all those self-righteous evangelicals.
More beer for the rest of us...

Friday, May 20, 2011

Please, Bring on the Rapture




I know I'm a bad blogger. I'm actually kinda hoping that the 'Rapture' actually does happen tomorrow. It won't, but I wouldn't miss some of the crazy fundies. Of course, most of them are way too hypocritical to actually meet there purity standards. A lot of "Christians" aren't going to be happy come Sunday.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Running of the Newt



Now that the slimy Newt is an announced candidate in the 2012 GOP goat rodeo, we need a good conspiracy theory for him. I demand an investigation!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Happy 80th, Kid



Willie Mays, the "say hey kid", turns 80 today. It is not an exaggeration to call him the greatest baseball player of all time. And certainly one of the classiest.

On afternoon back in May of 1964, I was sitting in a grade school classroom, when my Father showed up. He told my teacher that I had a dentist appointment, and took me out of class. But he didn't take me to the dentist. Instead, we went to Candlestick Park, where my Dad got us center field bleacher seats. My first baseball game. Dad told me to watch Willie, as he was (according to Dad) "the greatest ballplayer you'll ever see." 47 years later, Dad was still right. I've never seen another player who's as good at every facet of the game. Willie Mays remains the greatest baseball player I've ever seen.

If you doubt me, take a look at the Willie Mays page at Baseball Reference. Other players may have been better at one part of the game or another. But Willie was among the best at hitting, power, speed, fielding, and throwing of all time. He was the complete package.

So, Happy Birthday, Willie. Thank you for letting me watch, and learn to appreciate, the greatness of baseball.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

5/5



I don't care what day you say it is. I am not putting my mayonnaise in my sink.

Keeping it Simple

Seems like the whole (never) right wing is freaking out that Obama got Osama. They feel that shrub should be getting the credit.
Here's the simple response:
Shrub disbanded the CIA's bin Laden task force in 2005.
Obama reinstated the bin Laden task force shortly after taking office in 2009.
Those are the facts. Deal with it, wingnuts.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Geek Humor



May the Fourth be with you!

Monday, May 2, 2011

A Few More Thoughts on bin Laden's Death




Obviously, this is major news. But like most major news stories, the killing of Osama bin Laden will have ramifications and repercussions that will take time to play out. Still, I have some thoughts that I want to express.


First, a little personal background: I first took interest in bin Laden in the late 1990's after the African Embassy and U.S.S. Cole bombings. I'd been interested in Middle East politics and history for many years, and began trying to learn Arabic in 1995. As I read more of bin Laden's fatwas and began to understand more about Al Qaeda's brand of Wahhabi extremism, I became convinced that his threats were quite real. Osama was a quite complex man, an extremely wealthy, western educated Saudi elite who embraced a primitive fanaticism for an Islamic caliphate coupled with extreme anti-Americanism. In his many fatwas, he was strikingly clear about his plans for jihad against the U.S. and the types of tactics he intended to utilize. When 9/11 occurred, my immediate reaction was "damn, bin Laden pulled it off" (ask Sweaterman, who was stuck listening to my rants hours before the media made the Al Qaeda connection) as it was the type of attack I had been expecting. Really, he told us what he intended to do long before he actually did it, in accordance with Islamic laws of war, but it certainly seemed that the shrub administration ignored his words as the 'ravings of a madman'. Which was a frustrating issue; it was easy to dismiss bin Laden's threats because they sounded 'crazy' to our world view, but I never doubted that he was honest about his intentions nor doubt his capabilities.


Obligatory reading: the much more knowledgeable Juan Cole at Informed Comment has posted his thoughts titled Obama and the End of Al-Qaeda, which has both a very complete history of bin Laden and a thoughtful look at the implications of his death. A small sample:






Then he and his number two man, Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahiri, came to the conclusion that the reason they could not overthrow the governments of Egypt (Hosni Mubarak’s dictatorship) and Saudi Arabia and so forth was that these were backed by the United States. They decided it had been a mistake to hit the “near enemy” first. They decided to hit the “far enemy” on American soil. Bin Laden thought that if only he could entice the US into the Middle East, he could do to it what he thought he had done to the Soviet Union.



http://www.juancole.com/2011/05/obama-and-the-end-of-al-qaeda.html



One salient fact that most Americans don't understand, and would vehemently deny: Osama bin Laden is winning his war. He made quite clear that his strategy was to destroy the American economy, and thereby empire, by dragging us into a prolonged occupation and warfare in the Islamic Middle East. Shrub did exactly what Osama desired by invading Iraq, and the subsequent draining of the American economy has been exactly what he intended to achieve. His death does nothing to change that reality.


After 9/11 and the invasion of Afghanistan, bin Laden ceded all operational control of Al Qaeda. He became a figurehead who hoped to inspire the offspring of multiple regional splinter groups, and again he has been successful. Killing him may seem like a symbolic victory for America, but his martyrdom is also the symbolism he intended. The only way this will benefit America will be if it hastens our withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, and if we change our counter terrorism strategy away from military intervention towards greater intelligence gathering and very carefully targeted operations.


Killing Osama was necessary for the American psyche, but we're still in the same mess today as we were yesterday.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Finally



Interesting that Osama bin Laden has finally met justice. I'm surprised by a few of the details. Near Islamabad. In a mansion. In a firefight. Lengthy intelligence operation.

The media seem to forget that bin Laden issued his Fatwa against America long before 9/11. They do remember shrub saying "dead or alive", but will they notice that it was actually Obama who got Osama? And if what Obama said is anywhere close to the truth, they're actually engaging in useful intelligence. And some old fashioned spywork.

One big factor is that ISI was clearly involved. That will have some serious political implications in both Pakistan and Afghanistan,

Al Queda will still exist, but without bin Laden it will be weaker. So today's news is good.

May Day



Sorry about the paucity of posts. Between 'blogger malaise' and my internet service being down repeatedly, there hasn't been much activity here. Just a brief note to Verizon: 'upgrading' is a term that usually means improving service in some way, not making it crash every other day.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Earth Day Boobies

Boobies are one of the nice things about Earth. Also, happy 'above average' Friday.