Is that a shrub in your pocket...
Thursday, April 30, 2009
The Super Flu has worked its way to my county now, with a suspected case causing a nearby high school to close. I guess it was inevitable, what with us being only 40 miles from Mexico. Lot of pigs up that way, too, I think. The lo-cal news is now loaded with stories of school districts doing “MRSA Level” cleaning of schools and buses (MRSA being the most recent big scare, of course), interspersed with flashes of the “Swine Flu Hotline” numbers. We’re at Level 5, bitches! Time to get rolling with that duct tape and plastic wrap.
This would be a good time to re-read Stephen King’s “The Stand” (or George R. Stewart’s “Earth Abides”) Maybe they can run “The Stand” mini-series 24/7 on all channels (interrupted only by breaking news of adding new flu cases to a giant electronic map - kinda like Stephen Colbert: “Better Know an Outbreak” - and commercials for Tamiflu®). Should I take this opportunity to remind everyone that Donald Rumsfeld is the former Board Chairman and a shareholder in Gilead Sciences Inc. (former Sec State George Schultz is also on its Board), which developed and holds the patent on Tamiflu®?
On the bright side, the economy still sucks, apparently (yesterday’s slight rise in the Stock Market notwithstanding). On the heels of GM’s decision to kill Pontiac (thereby finally putting an end to the use of the Ottowa Chief - who lead, arguably, the most successful Indian war against Europeans, kicking some major British ass - as a car mascot), it appears that Chrysler’s negotiations with its creditors have broken down. Is the maker of the Edsel and the Pinto destined to become the only US automaker?
In a somewhat ironic twist, the judge in the Fort Dix (where the first - that I remember, anyway - “Swine Flu” scare began in 1976 - before Carter was elected, for those of you who get their history from Michelle Bachman) terrorist attack case (or whatever that was) handed out the final sentences to the “plotters” yesterday. The final tally? Four life terms and one 33-yr sentence, proving that stupidity, apparently, is neither excuse nor reason for leniency.
In a case of what, for a politician, is remarkable consistency, global warming denier James Inhoufe is now denying that Arlen Specter’s jump to the other team is anything but good for the Republican Party. It’s nice to see a man take a firm stand against reality and stick to it.
Breaking News: partial building collapse in NYC. Officials have tentatively identified the cause as Swine Flu.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Pigs, Bears, and a Whole Lotta Bull
OK, so Arlen Specter. Whoopdie freakin' doo. This is a bit like Chamberlain giving Poland to Hitler and declaring victory. Dead Man Walking Specter was about to lost to a wingnut in the Republican primary, paving the way for a Democrat to take the seat in the general election. So the Democrats “win” by promising Specter the support of the leadership (and no primary), in exchange for, um, well, in exchange for nothing.
Specter will continue to be a right-wing champion and vote against things like the rights of working folks to organize, and the Democrats get a mythical filibuster-proof majority on everything but the important votes, when traitors like Joe Lieberman, Arlen Specter, Claire McCaskill, Jane Harman, Dianne Feinstein, etc., will prove what “moderates” they are by caving in to the Republican talking points du jour.
Oh, not all of them at the same time and over the same issues, but under the limp-wristed “leadership” of Harry Reid, they all know they can act as they please (and against the will of those they claim to represent). Still, it’s fun to see all the wingnuts freak out over this.
Back to more normal temperatures today, thank goodness. It was 85 at lunch time yesterday, and down into the 50’s by the time I got the boys out to the park (and a slightly chilly 37 right now). I very much prefer the cooler temperatures for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that it keeps the goddamn bugs down.
Speaking of bugs, the swine flu bug is now blamed for the death if a Texas toddler. A shame, of course, but one has to wonder why we don’t get this kind of media attention for each of the 35,000 annual US flu deaths every year. I guess pigs are just scarier (though not as scary as birds, of course).
Oh well, better get ready for the Today Show. No doubt they’ll have some very, very scary flu news, and they just teased a story on a “pregnant woman who was hit by a car while being chased by a bear” in Colorado Springs (OK, it was a slow-moving car - perhaps being driven by a cartoon machine gun wielding man). Doesn’t get any better than that (unless either she or the bear had the flu). Sure, the story is, like, a week old, but it’s not like Today is a news program.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Please pardon any typos I may have here, but it’s tough to type, what with being triple-gloved and wearing a full-body haz-mat suit. But these precautions are necessary, since there are now some 50 cases of mild flu in the US, including one suspected case just a county or so away from me. And they’re dropping like flies in Mexico City, with
149 152 deaths now blamed on the evil swine flu. Of course, what with the population of the Greater Mexico City Metro Area being about 22 million people and the death rate in Mexico being 4.78 per thousand, about 290 people die every daythere. And about 100 people a day die in the US in car accidents. Still, the flu is nothing to sneeze at.
Or is it? Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America is, um, concerned that this swine flu outbreak is just a scam to get evil baby killer Kathleen Sebelius rammed through as head of HHS. Personally, I think it’s a plot by our Islamic president, in cahoots with the CIA and the Al-Kayders, to unleash a plague upon the free world (the fact that the normally pork-eschewing mooslums would resort to the use of “swine” flu just proves how shamefully ignominious they are).
We must, however, persevere, and I’m not afraid of being afraid for the good of our great nation (minus Texas, of course; are they gone yet?). Not as long as the Internet is still working, anyway, so I can keep up on the important shit, like up to the minute flu updates (this just in, a new case confirmed in Israel!) and tips on staying safe (they just passed along these tips on the lo-cal news: stay away from sick people, wash your hands, and if you’re sick, stay away from the rest of us).
In other important news, Carla Bruni visited Span and Princess Letizia, Osama bin Laden is dead (maybe), conservatives are too stupid to know that Stephen Colbert is kidding, Rush Limbaugh is an asshole, and Kate Walsh’s divorce is getting ugly. I have no idea who Kate Walsh is, but obviously it’s important that I know she’s getting divorced.
We get a break from the heat today, but it’s still gonna be hot to the east and south of us. Especially inside those haz-mat suits.
Monday, April 27, 2009
Did You See Which Way The Swine Flew?
It was back in 1976, as I recall, when I and the other local Eloi heard the sirens, dropped what we were doing, and dutifully marched off to Manley Field House to be vaccinated (with an air gun, which I thought was pretty cool at the time; do they still use those things?) against the dreaded Swine Flu. Of course, the Swine Flu scare turned out to be a load of crap. One poor soldier at the erotically named Fort Dix in NJ - David Lewis - did die after contracting the flu (as for what really killed him, I’ll leave that to the Alex Jones types out there), but another 500 or so soldiers were tested and diagnosed with the flu, though they weren’t even symptomatic. Lewis was the only know casualty. So, excuse me if I’m not feeling properly terrified today.
The vaccine? Well, depending on who you believe, that killed hundreds (and made more seriously ill), and was believed to have been responsible for causing a neurological disease known as Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS). In fact, a CDC study claims that the annual flu vaccine everyone’s always trying to shove in your arm carries a one in a million risk of causing GBS. Even without adjusting for the government bullshit factor (which probably brings it down to one in a 100,000 or so), that’s hundreds of cases a year of a really painful illness that can last for months (if not years) - with a 5% or so death rate - all because it “might” prevent the flu (if they guess correctly and the strains don’t mutate - which they tend to do).
Whereas I’m a reasonably healthy individual with a reasonably intact immune system (in spite of my rather bad habits), and I don’t work in NYC high schools (public health expert Mike Bloomberg says stay home if you feel sick - a genius, that man), I reckon I’ll take my chances. I’ll take a few days of feeling crappy with the flu over a few months of muscle weakness, paralysis, and possible permanent nerve damage. Especially since I haven’t actually gotten the flu in longer than I can remember.
Oh, I know, “I got the flu shot last year and I didn’t get the flu.” Ergo, the flu shot prevented the flu. Yeah, and I keep a lucky coin in my pocket that keeps me from getting attacked by tigers.
B-b-b-b-but it’s the swine flu, and that’s a really scary name. Plus, it’s coming from godless Mexico! And it killed millions in 1918!
Well, actually, it wasn’t the flu virus that killed all those people way back when. It was actually bacteria - bacterial pneumonia, in fact - that did them in.
You should at least feel heartened by the fact that we have “the best health care system in the world.” Assuming you can afford it, and the Governor hasn’t closed your local hospital, of course.
Personally, I think I’ll just stock up on the oil of oregano (well, we already have a little bottle of it, which is about as “stocked up” as we need, since a little dab’ll do ya), and stay the hell away from both people (which I tend to do anyway), and pigs.
It’s supposed to be miserably hot here today (again, but even more so, as we’re supposed to hit 90). I hate to break the news to the dogs, but there’ll be no going to the park today. On the bright side, I have the first of four full days of AJAX and ColdFusion training today (yes, I’ll be able to scrub the sink while generating nearly unlimited amounts of energy at room temperature by Friday), which means I get to hang out at home for an extra hour or so. That’s good, ‘cuz ratfaced Matt Lauer is gonna tell me how to “stay safe” from the dreaded swine flu outbreak.
I guess there just aren’t enough terrorists out there to scare us with these days.
Oh, and Happy Birthday, ma.
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Here in the ‘Cuse, today is supposed to be the kind of day that some people (mostly women, I think, based on the local news twit’s reaction to the local weather dork’s forecast this morning) seem to think is “really great,” but which I think sucks. That is, it’s supposed to be hot — in the upper 80’s, which is too damn hot for me (and the dogs). And my wife, so maybe it’s not a “girl” thing after all. Come to think of it, I seem to recall a time when I was young and actually liked the heat (that was back when heat meant the beach and bikinis, as opposed to sweat and bugs). So maybe it’s just a miserable old bastard thing (speaking only for myself, of course).
How fitting it is, then, that I’m here watching a show about an effort to build a million square mile solar shield made of 16 trillion 2-foot diameter lenses (that are a micron thick and have enough tiny little holes in them to diffract about 2% of the solar energy passing through) and launch it into space. The idea is to put it at the “Lagrangian” (or L1-point), 1 million miles away from Earth. This is a a position in space where there’s no gravitational influence from either the sun or the Earth — so the shield will just kind of hang out there and not move. Little solar powered gizmos will keep them evenly spaced apart.
As an aside, here’s another difference between men and women. They’re getting ready to put a rocket into space to see if these lenses can survive the launch, and after they discuss how many thousands of pounds of explosive hydrogen and nitrous oxide this thing’s loaded with, and how it’s basically a big ass bomb, one of the folks involved in the launch remarks, “I hope it doesn’t blow up.” Then the countdown begins, “10…9…8….” At which point, my wife gets up and leaves the room. Let me tell ya, when a big ass bomb is about to blow up, guys do not leave the room.
Anyhow, according to the egghead who thought this idea up — Roger Angel; Johnny’s brother, I think — deflecting 1.8% of the sun’s energy is enough to return the planet’s average temperature to what it was back before the industrial revolution.
Sounds good, but as far as today goes, I can either sweat my ass off cutting the grass (which I hate to do, because it only seems to encourage it) and trying to get some other shit done around the house, or I can take the dogs up to visit their cousins in the country, where it will hopefully be cooler (and there are a couple of ponds to splash around in), and I can sit in the shade with my sister and her husband, and we can watch watch the dogs play while sipping a cold beverage or two.
Hmm, tough call there.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Plan B from Outer Space
Yet another blow for the champions of sacred life yesterday, as the FDA graciously decided to comply with a court order to make the “morning after pill” (aka, “Plan B” - plan “A” of course being the chastity pledge) available over-the-counter to 17-yr olds (once the drug companies officially request it, which shouldn’t take long; after all, it increases potential market considerably). Unlike the Berverly Hills RU-486 “abortion” pill, Plan B prevents fertilization and, to be effective, needs to be taken within 72-hours of doing the horizontal bop.
God-fearing folks (most of whom do have a lot to fear from God, IMHO, and have a big surprise in store for themselves come judgment day) oppose this move because the pill might possibly (though it’s quite unlikely) interfere with the implantation of a fertilized egg. Randall Terry says it encourages immorality. Or something. I think the right to lifers just oppose everything on general principle. Though “principle” probably isn’t the best word to describe the psychological motivation of a group of people dedicated to the sanctity of life and willing to murder doctors to prove it.
Personally, I think the way to make Plan B (and RU-486) more palatable to the these folks is to require that each dose come with a handgun. That should get the NRA on board, and once that happens, Operation Rescue will fall in line. Plus, a partnership between gun makers and the pharmaceutical industry just seems like a no-brainer.
Speaking of guns, here’s an idea that’s so perfect, I can’t believe nobody’s thought of it before. The Ohio Militia is calling for “a million armed militia members” to march on DC this July 4th. Oh, it’ll be peaceful, of course. Just heavily armed. I can’t imagine anything bad happening there (and it really ought to cut down on the counter-protesting).
Poor misunderstood former Senator Larry Craig just can't catch a break. Initially, government officials and youth leaders in Craig's hometown of Midvale, Idaho were ecstatic when Larry offered to sponsor the town's Little League team, after the team's sponsor of 17 years - Miller's Weed & Feed - was forced to close its doors in March, another victim of the flagging economy.
Craig's intention was to name the team after the area's two remaining major employers: the Midvale Chicken Processing facility, and the nearby Washington County turkey farm. Unfortunately, "Midvale Cock Gobblers" just wasn't a name the locals were comfortable with, and support for Craig's gesture quickly evaporated. The search for a new team sponsor continues.
A spokesman for Craig said four dozen team t-shirts already printed will be donated to Catholic Charities.
OK, I made that up.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Seeing as we’ve been torturing the Earth for so long, I think it’s appropriate today to celebrate the torture of humans. Not that the Earth is torturing us, of course (though Mother Nature does have a bit of a cruel streak at times). Mostly, we do it to each other. But at least we do it for good reason.
For instance, torturing detainees yielded “high value” information, according to President Obama’s national intelligence director, Dennis Blair. Blair wasn’t particularly specific (a few minutes on the rack ought to change that), but he did say “high value information came from interrogations in which those methods were used and provided a deeper understanding of the al Qa’ida organization that was attacking this country….”
Well, there you go. We were able to draw up an organizational chart on a group that, by definition, has little if any structure. Probably forced the bad guys to do it themselves using Vizio (which can be a bit like torture in and of itself, until you get used to it). No wonder al Qa’ida seems to have hundreds of “number two” men. And #2 out there in the mountains of Afghanistan is no picnic (especially in the winter). But wait, there’s more!
Our brave and noble inquisitors also managed to ferret out “‘a couple of nebulous links’ between al Qaida and Iraq”.
The Bush administration put relentless pressure on interrogators to use harsh methods on detainees in part to find evidence of cooperation between al Qaida and the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s regime, according to a former senior U.S. intelligence official and a former Army psychiatrist.
Cheney’s and Rumsfeld’s people were told repeatedly, by CIA . . . and by others, that there wasn’t any reliable intelligence that pointed to operational ties between bin Laden and Saddam, and that no such ties were likely because the two were fundamentally enemies, not allies.”
Senior administration officials, however, “blew that off and kept insisting that we’d overlooked something, that the interrogators weren’t pushing hard enough, that there had to be something more we could do to get that information,” he said.
That’s right. Without torturing people, the Bush administration wouldn’t even have managed to come up with a half-assed justification for invading a country that wasn’t a threat - imminent or otherwise - to the United States or the rest of the world.
Oh, they could have used some illegal wiretaps, I suppose. Back in the olden days, people like Jane Harman thought that stuff was just peachy.
[According to Harman] when the U.S. Government eavesdropped for years on American citizens with no warrants and in violation of the law, that was “both legal and necessary” as well as “essential to U.S. national security,” and it was the “despicable” whistle-blowers (such as Thomas Tamm) who disclosed that crime and the newspapers which reported it who should have been criminally investigated, but not the lawbreaking government officials.
Now that the government is spying on her, though (albeit legally, and with a warrant), Jane has seen the light.
I’m just very disappointed that my country — I’m an American citizen just like you are — could have permitted what I think is a gross abuse of power in recent years. I’m one member of Congress who may be caught up in it, and I have a bully pulpit and I can fight back. I’m thinking about others who have no bully pulpit, who may not be aware, as I was not, that someone is listening in on their conversations, and they’re innocent Americans.
Sounds like Jane’s gettin’ serious.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Angels and Demons
Looks like Billy Donohue of the Catholic League (I thought that was something to do with the CYO, but I guess not) has his panties in a knot (or maybe his cilice is just too tight) over the upcoming Ron Howard sequel to the Da Vinci Code, “Angels and Demons.” Surprise, surprise. Even less surprising is the fact that Brother Bill hasn’t even seen the movie, and is spreading lies about it (for a $5 donation, you can get a whole booklet of bullshit, which I guess is cheaper than buying a bible - not that I would ever equate the Bible with Bill Donohue’s bullshit).
Back in one of my past lives, I used to run movie theatres. Long before “The Last Temptation of Christ” was released, I got calls from the Jesus crowd urging me not to show this horrible movie (like I personally booked the movies we showed ). The calls ranged from polite to somewhat deranged. When I finally got to see the movie, I couldn’t understand what the problem was. I don’t recall there being anything in there that would have even made my mom uncomfortable.
But the mindless little sheep were told it was an evil movie, and so there was no need to see and judge it for themselves. Yet, when Mel Gibson came out with his torture porn, gore fest “The Passion of the Christ,” the mortification of the flesh crowd wet their chastity belts in their excited rush to the box office.
Speaking of demons, Dick Cheney is running his mouth again, bashing the President of the United States (isn’t that still considered treason, or was that just for the last bunch? I thought there were supposed to be “limits” to free speech?) on Fux News in an interview with meathead Sean Hannity (it pains me to no end that all these assholes seem to be of Irish descent; we’re supposed to be a race of soulful artists and poets, not loudmouth assholes).
“I’ve been concerned at the way we’ve been presented overseas… What I find disturbing is the extent to which he’s gone to Europe and seemed to apologize profusely, been to Mexico and seemed to apologize there,” said Cheney. “The world out there, both our friends and foes, will be quick to take advantage of that… I don’t think we have much to apologize for.”
Really, Dick? Hey, isn’t time you took a vacation? I hear Spain is beautiful this time of year. Maybe Uncle Dick is just getting a little stressed out with the release of the torture memos and the rising clamor for an investigation. Sadly, I don’t think Dick and and his merry band of torturers have much to worry about, but you’d think he’d shut up and show a little more appreciation to Obama, who apparently just wants to “move on.”
Watch out, Dick. If you keep pushing him, Obama may just turn into that closet liberal all you wingnuts keep claiming he is.
Looks like there was a big fire at Jimmy Dean’s house in Virginia last night. I know what you’re thinking: “Jimmy Dean’s still alive?” I guess so. Apparently he doesn’t eat his own sausage. I must say, I’m kind of surprised to hear he’s only 80 years old. Seems like his TV show was forever ago.
Monday, April 20, 2009
Good news this morning. Time Warner’s attempt to institute “metered” Internet access (paying by the byte for downloads) in Rochester has failed miserably. This will hopefully put an end to this sort of nonsense. Otherwise, I’m too tired from the weekend to say much, except “smoke it if you got it.”
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Spring Game Day
Today, spring football practice winds up for the SU football team, culminating in the annual spring scrimmage. Few people outside of these parts care, of course, but here, we’re all hoping that our new coach can turn things around. He has a pretty tough job ahead of him, but so far, so good. We’ll have to see if that translates into wins.
Just so you don’t think we’re all a bunch of tea-bagging assholes up here, I thought I’d offer up this story. It’s about a woman paralyzed from the waist down in a car accident. While she was in the hospital, her family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and complete strangers decided to surprise her with a wheelchair ramp. One thing led to another, and they wound up tearing the house down to the frame and completely remodeling it, adding two entrances with ramps, new windows, floors and door frames, a new roof, new water and heating systems, and they even re-landscaped her property.
Inspiring story, to be sure. Funny, though, if the government had had a hand in it, it would’ve been condemned as an act of evil socialism.
This woman from the UK with the nice voice - Susan Boyle - has become quite a hit. I heard them discussing her on an NPR news show yesterday while I was on my way to one of those socialist, government-sponsored parks that the tea-baggers want to do away with. They were trying to decide if this was a “big” story because it shows that you shouldn’t judge someone by appearances.
No, that’s not it. The real story is that, taken collectively, human beings are really shallow, nasty scumbags, who laugh at a woman coming out on stage to perform because she doesn’t conform to what society has decided people should look like. We squirm with delighted anticipation at the prospect of them making a fool of themselves right there on the teevee, and can’t wait for Simon Cowlick (or whatever that fuck’s name is) to berate and humiliate them for our own amusement. I personally see no reason to watch people being deliberately mean to other people on the teevee (don’t we have enough of that in the “real” world?), and no reason to make a point of putting “contestants” on TV, just for the purpose of being laughed at.
I admit I don’t get the whole televised Karaoke thing, but surely they could weed out the people with no talent in the auditions. Except, where would the “fun” be in that?
Of course, Susan Boyle does have talent (a nice enough voice, I guess; I’m no expert), so good for her. If she makes us think twice before assuming that somebody who isn’t “beautiful” will suck, then that’s fine. But the “big” story (IMHO), is what a fucked-up value system we humans (at least we “Western” humans) have.
Here’s hoping we get our shit together some day. And win a few football games, too.
Friday, April 17, 2009
Don't Let the Panhandle Hit Ya in the Ass On Your Way Out
I’ll miss Texas. I’ve never actually been there, but I often enjoy Austin City Limits. And I like Lyle Lovett (never could understand what he saw in Julia Roberts, but love is a funny thing) and Willie Nelson. Still, I’m looking at the 2000 Presidential election, and without Texas, it looks like Gore 266 - Bush 239 (Kerry would still have come out on the short end, 252-251, but I hear Georgia is looking to secede, too). Plus, Texas is the second largest recipient of Federal tax dollars (California being #1 and New York being #3).
Of course, Texas rakes in more than they pay out, unlike both NY and CA, which both pay out way more than they see from the Feds. And, if we believe the assertion that capital punishment is a deterrent to murder while noting that Texas’ per capita murder rate is above the national average (20th in the US) even though they execute more people than anybody (and have the second highest per capita execution rate), we have to conclude that Texas is full of cold-blooded killers. Either that or the death penalty isn’t much of a deterrent - and we all know that can’t be true.
Oh, I reckon we’ll miss their oil. But without the Texas oil lobby writing our energy policy, maybe we can get off the fossil fuel, and stop spending trillions protecting US oil interests in the Middle East. We’d also be able to funnel more FEMA dollars into helping out LA, FL, and the other Gulf and coastal states during hurricane season if we didn’t have to spend it on Houston, Galveston, etc.
I don’t eat beef, so they can keep their cattle (there’s always Canada for the meatheads out there; if we wanted to keep it an even 50 states, we could invite Ontario to join, but we’d have to get our shit together and enact universal health care first), and I’m not sure what else Texas has (unless there’s a market for brush, tumbleweeds, and road apples out there that I’m not aware of).
Plus, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but God seems to hate Texas; seems like it’s always either flooded or drought-stricken. If being a good Christian is supposed to afford you a “protective shield” from God, then somebody’s not getting the job done down there.
So, yeah, I’ll miss Texas, and I feel bad for all the good folks down there, but between the drain on the Federal treasury, the corrupt politicians, the cold-blooded killers, and it being god-forsaken, I guess if they want to go, well, so be it. Whether Texans want to see if they can get a better deal from Mexico, or just become free-agents (they can even elect dubya President of Texas), I wish them all the best.
Vaya con Dios amigos!
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Significant, Systemic, yet Unintentional
Turns out, the NSA has been spying on us even more than they’re supposed to (and they’re supposed to spy on us a lot, I think). They call it an “overcollection” problem, and they even spied on a sitting Congressman. I thought it was the FBI’s job to spy on Congress? I think the NSA is a bunch of douchebags, so I’m calling on all real Americans come together en masse and hold D-bag parties (dates and locations TBA) to D-bag the NSA.
I think this idea will go viral, and my goal is to raise enough money to leave a million D-bags (or at least one D-bag for every D-bag in the NSA) on the steps of the NSA (assuming they have steps; can’t say as I recall what their building looks like). And by “my goal,” what I mean to say is I hope somebody else will do it. Maybe Move-On or something. If you can’t make it to a party near you, then stay at home and D-bag yourself (which is a lot easier than T-bagging yourself, unless you’re really, really flexible).
Speaking of douchebags, our Governor is planning on introducing legislation to legalize gay marriage in New York. That’s all well and good (hard for me to believe it requires new legislation; if it’s legal for one person to marry another person, then that’s all we should need), but I can’t help but think this is some sort of a plan by Paterson to improve his popularity ratings. Everybody pretty much despises him at this point, so if he at least can improve his popularity with gay people, his numbers have to go up at least a little bit. Kind of a “gay bump.” The anti-human rights people are poised to oppose the legislation, of course (ironic that these are the same people who were running around T-bagging each other yesterday).
In other douchebag news (or, rather, news involving douche bags), 63% of Minnesotans want Norm Coleman to give it up already. Apparently 37% of Minnesotans are lawyers.
Another beautiful day shaping up here. I’ll have to fire up a couple of web cam sites at work so I can see it.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Giving It Away for Free
For many radio stations, it appears, they’re getting what they pay for. Rush Limbaugh gives his show away for free to small and medium markets, in exchange for advertising time. Doesn’t really surprise, me, and I reckon that’s probably been Air America’s business plan, too. Unfortunately, as regards their current lineup, I doubt they can even give it away.
As many of us struggle to get our shit (and dollars) together to pay our taxes, it’s comforting to know that offshore corporate tax scams are stealing $100 billion a year (give or take) in tax revenue that the rest of us have to make up for. You can see a state-by-state breakdown of how much you’re getting fleeced for here. In New York, it’s over $8 billion. That’s about half of the State’s budget deficit (the one that’s got Governor Blinky calling for layoffs and massive cuts to health care and education - among other things). In other words, if we could recover that money, we’d balance the books in two years. In theory, anyway. In practice, Republicans would just ram through tax cuts for rich people and we’d be in the same hole we’re in now.
Still, you’d think if they can tell you how much money we’re supposed to be getting, they could change the tax laws to plug the hole in the dike. But that’s probably just Socialist crazy talk.
I hope this isn’t too obvious:
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
It’s that time of year when they offer tax filing tidbits, and here’s one I thought was pretty interesting: debt reduction. Turns out, if you’re in the hole, debt-wise (you know, like, you’ve been laid off or hit by medical bills or that big balloon payment came due), and managed to get your credit card company or somebody else to whom you owe money to forgive part of the debt, the amount that was written off is taxable income, so you’ve got to declare it.
At the same time, the credit card company gets to write that same amount off as a loss. Now, let’s review:
You struggle to make minimum payments for a few years, paying thousands in interest and barely touching the principal. If you’re “lucky,” after making back two or three (or corporate Jesus know how many) times what they loaned you in the first place, they “forgive” what’s left that you owe, and you have to add that amount as taxable income, while the
corporate pirates brave captains of industry that made money off your misfortune get a tax write-off. Sounds fair to me.
No word yet on whether taxpayer bailout money counts as corporate income. My guess? Not so much.
Makes you want to jump into a pen full of polar bears.
Monday, April 13, 2009
Bears Just Wanna Have Fun
It seems once or twice a year we need to go over this, so here we go again….
Yes, polar bears are very cute. And yes, they do, indeed, want to play with you. But no, it will not be as much fun as you thought it was gonna be. For you.
For the bears, however, it’ll be a pleasant diversion from a boring day of lying around the pool getting ogled by stupid tourists.
Of course, the big news of the weekend (other than the new Obama dog) was the successful rescue of Captain Phillips from the dread Somali pirates. We’re all happy about that (well, most of us; polls show that 3 out of 4 pirates disapprove of the way the situation was resolved), but there seems to be an awful lot of animosity out there directed toward the pirates. I don’t know why, really. They’ve obviously identified a niche in the market, which they’re attempting to fill.
When their actions result in loss of life or tear apart a family, we call them pirates and criminals. When a CEO decides to move his company’s manufacturing to Indonesia in order to exploit the cheap labor (and, in the process, destroy the lives of hundreds of families), we call him a shrewd businessman. When an insurance company denies a claim for a life-saving procedure to save money, we call it the “best health care in the world.” If a financial institution uses every loophole imaginable to avoid paying taxes, then takes billions in tax payer dollars in order to pay more in annual bonuses than most taxpayers will make in a lifetime, it’s called “contractual obligation.”
At least the pirates don’t hide behind the “invisible hand of the market” and “fiduciary responsibility” to justify their actions. They know the risks and rewards of their chosen profession, and if they wind up with a bullet in the head, well, so be it. They may be greedy criminals who don’t care who they have to kill or ruin to get their way, but at least they aren’t pretending to be saintly, misunderstood captains of industry making the world a better place. They may be scumbags, but at least they’re not lying, pretentious scumbags.
Which I guess is the difference between pirates and capitalists.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
I’ve been eating a lot of stir-fry veggies these days (mostly because it’s easy, and I may not be cheap, but I’m definitely easy). That, and the rather copious amounts of Cascazilla red ale I’ve been consuming since they jacked up the price of Hop Devil, means I can pretty much fart on demand (not wimpy farts, either, but knock-the-buzzard-off-shit-wagon, peel-the-wallpaper-off-the-wall farts that even the dogs run away from). If Captain Richard Phillips ate stir fry and drank beer, this whole goddamn hostage thing would have been over days ago (the pirates would be begging the US Navy to throw them in the brig).
It comes in pretty handy at the store when those pushy goddamn women seem intent on shoving their grocery carts up my ass. I also like to pause and leave a little something behind for those people that feel compelled to catch up on old times with their long lost friends in the middle of the goddamn aisle while the rest of us are just trying to pick up beer and veggies and get home.
It never ceases to amaze me that it apparently has never dawned on so many of these idiots that there are actually other people in the world. Sure, but run them over with your shopping basket, and you’re the asshole.
Friday, April 10, 2009
What's So Good About It?
There’s something horribly wrong with a world where tickets to see
Arnold Dorsey Engelbert Humperdinck are 150% more expensive than tickets to see Buddy Guy. I mean, Engelbert was a hit with the old broads (like my mom) back in the 60’s, but most of those women (like my mom) must be dead by now. And, let’s face it, Engelbert Humperdinck is no Tom Jones.
Buddy Guy at #30 in the top 100 Guitarists of all time shows what a piece of crap Rolling Stone - Matt Taibi aside - magazine is (or at least has become); one gets the impression that they’ve never heard - let alone seen - Buddy play. I’d ask them how they came up with that list, but Obama would probably invoke state secrets. I used to wonder how bad things could get if Bush wasn’t a dummy. Obama is certainly no dummy.
It occurs to me that only Christians (and maybe “24″ fans), with their penchant for torture porn, would call a day where you get nailed to a cross and left to suffer and die (after having your ass kicked all day dragging said cross through town) “good.”
But have a good Friday (so to speak) anyway.
Thursday, April 09, 2009
Today is the end of an era here in the ‘Cuse, as the Syracuse China plant closes its doors. Oh, the current parent company - Libby - will keep stamping “Syracuse” on a line of china; it just won’t be made in the United States (let alone Syracuse) anymore. Let’s hope there aren’t any heavily armed and close to the edge paranoid schizophrenics amongst the soon to be unemployed. To add injury to injury, the Ball Corporation announced it’s closing their plant here, in July. Not to worry, though; we’re building a really, really big mall.
We have a bit of an eccentric stove in my house (it’s a Tappan - a brand I cannot recommend). It worked fairly well when I first bought it, but soon developed some sort of a neural disorder affecting the electronic burner ignition system. You turn, say, the right front knob, and the left rear burner starts sparking. Or you turn the front left one on, and the left rear one sparks. Or you turn the front left knob a little bit, and the front right one sparks, but you turn the knob a little further, and the right rear one starts. Unfortunately it’s not consistent, so you’re never sure which one will spark. I’ve gotten pretty good at figuring out which one’s clicking, and then turning on the gas to the one that seems to be firing (which of course causes a third burner to start clicking).
Sometimes I just turn ‘em all on, and hope at least one of the damn things lights up (which can take a while, allowing the gas to accumulate under a frying pan or something, before suddenly exploding in a huge fireball, which is simultaneously very scary and really cool - especially if the kitchen lights are off). It’s kind of fun standing there, listening to the gas come rolling out and the four sparkers clicking, deciding how long to wait before shutting them off (I can hear Clint Eastwood whispering in my ear through clenched teeth, “are you feeling lucky, punk?”). Kind of a kitchen version of “chicken.”
Of course, sometimes you might want a specific burner to light, so you have to do it the old fashioned way - with a match. For this purpose, we have a box of wooden kitchen matches up in the cupboard. This box (which precedes my presence in the house), has a rather emphatically scrawled (complete with multiple underlines)
written across the top of the box. It doesn’t take much imagination to envision how that came to be (makes me laugh every time I see it).
Now, I’m sure there are many of you out there (particularly the females) who are saying to yourselves, “well that’s a very smart thing to do, labeling the top of the box so you don’t spill all the matches out.” And I suppose it is, but to me it epitomizes one of the differences between men and women - namely, the lack of an inclination to check before fully committing to a course of action that may have unpleasant ramifications (you know, like invading and occupying Iraq, or increasing troop levels in Afghanistan ). The prime example of this, of course, is the toilet seat. Men who live with women are typically forced to put the toilet seat down (unless we want to be awakened in the middle of the night by an outraged - and somewhat damp - woman, hovering over us menacing, cursing like a sailor, and threatening a rather specific sort of bodily harm).
Contrary to popular belief, there are times that I, too, require the seat to be down, and on those occasions, I naturally check to make sure it is down before I assume the position (much like I only partially slide the match box cover open, until I’m sure I’ve got it right-side up). Now, I’ll admit that I’ve never actually fallen into the toilet, but I’m fairly certain that if it happened once, I’d never forget to check again.
I can hear the women out there now saying, “I don’t need the seat up, so why should I have to put it down?” A fair point, I guess, except I would counter with the argument that, while you don’t need the seat up, I’m pretty sure you’d just as soon that I didn’t leave it down (on a side note, it was years before it suddenly dawned on me one day why public toilet seats are horseshoe shaped). I’ve always thought the best way to get a woman to quit complaining about you not putting the seat down is to stop putting it up.
But, of course, putting the seat down is a small gesture, and the desire to preserve the peace greatly outweighs the slight effort it takes (and of course I refer not to physical effort, but the effort to remember to do it). Especially if you’d like to wake up with all the body parts you went to bed with (John Wayne Bobbitt left the seat up one time too many after a drunken night out on the town).
As I used to tell my stepson (who suffered alone in a house full of four women, and two female cats before I came along), you gotta pick your battles; no point in squandering good will on something trivial. In fact, in our house, putting the seat down isn’t enough; I have to put the lid down, too (not sure if Granny drowned in a past life or something).
Not on Sunday, though, as we’ll be having Easter dinner over at my in-laws, where my father-in-law is king of his castle, and a man is free to leave the seat up to his heart’s content.
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
Guns Don't Kill People - People with Guns Kill People
Since March 10th, 57 people have been shot to death by eight gunmen (slightly more than 7 each; pretty good average). This would be cause for a little bit of concern, were it not for the fact that all of them (or at least most of them) had legal gun permits. Thank goodness for that. I mean, after all, if guns had been illegal, then these guys would have been criminals (and if Jiverly was Wong, I don’t wanna be Wight). You might think that all this gun violence would lead to more strict gun control laws, especially with the namby-pamby liberal wimps running the government. You would, of course, be wrong.
After seeing the devastation a couple of (legal) handguns can do in the paws of one crazy Vietnamese immigrant, you’d think maybe we would ban (or at least limit) more powerful assault-type weapons, which would seem to have no real legitimate use (other than, maybe, an assault or something). Well, last month a bunch of fruity House Democrats tried to do just that. Fortunately, a group of 65 more manly Democrats - led by Rep. Mike Ross of Arkansas (Arkansas is definitely on my list of places I don’t want to live, though that’s admittedly got a lot to do with the heat) - stepped in, and notified AG Eric Holder that they opposed not only a ban on military-style guns, but also efforts “to pass any similar law.”
Well good for them.
Speaking of places I don’t want to live, the Texas Senate (where legislators are allowed to bring weapons to work) easily passed bills that would allow employees to bring weapons to work (as long as they leave them locked in their cars; not sure what the penalty would be for bringing the guns in and shooting your co-workers; probably a stiff fine), and to allow folks to bring their guns to a bar - as long as the bar doesn’t have a “no guns allowed” sign. But what real Texas bar would have a fruity policy like that? Guns and alcohol? What could be wrong with that? And Texas is also considering allowing students to bring concealed weapons to campus. Sounds good to me. I remember going to college, and the kids I went to school with were all quite mature and responsible.
I wonder if we can get federal vouchers for bulletproof vests?
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
Murderers, Hypocrites, and Traitors
The Minnesota Senate election recount is winding its way down, with just a few hundred unopened absentee ballots left to be opened and counted. Then we can move on to the never-ending legal appeals phase, with Coleman being urged to fight on by the likes of chinless closet queen (he may be in the closet, but the closet door is pretty wide open) Mitch McConnell and Krazy Jon Kyle (note to Kyl: real Americans spell John with an “h”).
I just don’t understand how people can claim Republicans are rigid and incapable of evolving.
For instance, McConnell, who now says “the court’s decision in Minnesota…leaves no other choice but to continue the process to ensure that every legal vote is counted,” sung a different tune back in 2000, when, just three weeks into the Florida recount process, he implored Al Gore to
be a “statesman” and “give it up.” “Enough is enough,” McConnell said. “Where do the interests of the country begin and the interests of the campaign end?”
Kyl, of course, threatened Senate Democrats (on the floor of the Senate, no less) if they attempted to seat Franken before Coleman managed to exhaust all legal maneuvers (no matter how frivolous, apparently).
“Clearly there’s something wrong here and it has to be resolved by court,” Kyl said. “There are no stipulations for when proceedings must be completed.”
Back in 2000? Kyl was concerned for Al Gore’s reputation, should he “back in to the Presidency.”
Then, of course, there’s Coleman himself. When he led on election night, he offered Al Franken some advice:
“If you asked me what I would do, I would step back,” Coleman said of a recount, the night of the election, when he was ahead. “I just think the healing process is so important.”
a working person an anti-union scumbag corporation, you have a friend in Arkansas. “Democratic” Senator Blanche Lincoln has declared that she will not support the Employee Free Choice Act.
“I cannot support that bill,” Lincoln said, according to Arkansas Business. “Cannot support that bill in its current form. Cannot support and will not support moving it forward in its current form.
I guess Wal-Mart has a lot more pull in Arkansas than working stiffs do. No surprise there, I guess.
Around these parts, the big news is the letter that the Binghamton shooter (not gonna give him any post-mortem props by using his name) sent to a local news station. They’re sending the packet off to Quantico to work up a profile on the guy or something. Let me guess, he was fucking nuts? Beyond that, the only thing it really tells me is that he was a Time-Warner cable subscriber (since that channel is a TW only cable news station), and possibly a Va-Tech mass murderer fanboy.
Over 50 people killed in mass shooting in the past month? Makes you wonder how many other ticking bombs there are out there (perhaps right there in your classroom, office, or over-priced coffee shop). I’m just glad I live in a country where everyone - no matter how insane - has the right to own as many guns as they can afford.
“And you have a nice day.”
Monday, April 06, 2009
What God Wants, God Gets
I caught a few minutes of "Terms of Endearment" over the weekend (it's one of those movies where I think I've seen the entire movie, but never all in one sitting, and certainly not in order). Watching Shirley MacLaine reminded me of a couple of morning DJs (if you can actually call them that; they don't typically play much in the way of music on these morning shows) who were making fun of her belief in reincarnation and past lives.
Funny how anybody who believes in past lives, ghosts, and anything even vaguely "supernatural" is a nut job, but nobody thinks twice about those who believe in an invisible man in the sky who is all-powerful and loves us, yet allows horrible things to happen to good people because he's opted for a "hands-off" management style. Hell, you can even spend millions of dollars to build elaborate "houses" for him (or should I say, "Him?") to hang out in, while so many of his "children" go homeless and unfed.
I started thinking about this when I read this story on last week's "Binghamton Massacre."
The wounded receptionist who feigned her death during the massacre at the American Civic Association in Binghamton told her priests that God gave her the strength to call 911 after being shot in the abdomen.
Isn't that always the way with God? Too little, too late. Now, god bless (so to speak) this woman (I have no desire to disparage her faith or her courage; who knows how many more people this guy would've killed if she hadn't gotten the cops there), and all the victims and survivors and their families, but, really. If god is going to intervene, why the hell not give this disturbed gunman the "strength" to kill himself (or at least check in to a mental facility) before going in and murdering 13 innocent people? Or how about giving him lousy aim, so he misses everybody? Or, hey, I know: why not keep companies like Shop-Vac and IBM from shipping jobs overseas and pushing guys like this over the edge?
Just sayin'. I don't think you can have it both ways, true believers. Either god is pretty much indifferent to all the pain and suffering that goes on down here on Earth, or he's actually behind it all (working, of course, in "mysterious ways").
Oh, I know, there's always the "free will" argument, but I've always thought that was a cop out. Yeah, I suppose if you drop a hundred dollar bill on the floor, I have the free will to either pick it up and hand it to you, or put it in my pocket. But, thankfully, I've never had (and hopefully will never develop) the compulsion to perpetrate any heinous acts of violence. It isn't moral superiority overriding my aberrant "free will" desires that's kept me from killing young boys, cutting them up, and then keeping their parts in the refrigerator for when I get a case of the late night munchies, or climbing to the top of a bell tower with a high-powered rifle and starting to shoot, or kidnapping women and keeping them in an underground bunker all these years.
Someone (or some thing) has to put those kinds of notions into your head, and give you the desire to act upon them. And if you're going to give that invisible guy in the sky credit for the good stuff that happens in the world, then I think you need to assign at least a little bit of responsibility for the bad shit to him, too.
Or maybe it's just Monday.
Friday, April 03, 2009
All Tied Up
Today’s sign of how shitty the economy is (not to mention our “leadership” here in NY State), is the cancellation of the Empire State Games - an Olympics-style competition for amateur athletes from around the State, who participate in several different age groups. The games began here in Syracuse back in 1978, and were the first State games in the US. They were so successful that they spurred similar games in many other states.
Originally, the games were supposed to stay in Syracuse (since we’re in the middle of the State, and probably since nobody else actually wanted them). They were done so well and brought so much money in to the local economy ($10- $12 million) that other cities in the State started whining, and the games began to rotate around in 1985.
Now, our short-sighted Governor (pun intended) has seen fit to remove all funding for the games. The state’s share of the games’ budget (a whopping $1.7 million out of $3 million) will help cut the state’s $16 billion budget deficit by, oh let’s see, about one one-hundredth of one percent. Never mind the impact on Poughkeepsie (this year’s venue) in tough economic times, how much revenue will the state will lose in sales tax, hotel surcharges, etc.? Well, never mind. That would be thinking ahead, and if there’s one thing we don’t here in NY, it’s think ahead (otherwise maybe we wouldn’t have cut taxes for the rich folks quite so much while times were good).
Another example of these hard times is the decision by my old high school to go digital-only with the school newspaper, after more than 50 years of producing a print version. Funny, it calls the paper “award winning,” but I don’t remember it winning any awards (truth be told,
I’m not even sure I remember having a school newspaper - I don’t exactly think of high school as my “Glory Days”), though it must be true, ‘cuz I remember the catch name, “Rampages.” We were the “Red Rams.” Get it? Hey, don’t look at me, I didn’t name it.
The only thing I really remember about high school was that it was surrounded by woods, and we had so many kids in my gym class, that when we played baseball, I used to drift out to deep right field and kind of keep on drifting until I was in the woods and gone. Nobody ever noticed. That’s always been my one true talent in life: not being noticed.
The race for Kirsten Gillibrand’s House seat (NY-20) is basically tied now. I’ve seen reports of both candidates up by 12 votes, and the Democrat up by 6. So, this isn’t likely to be over any time soon. In the meantime, though, we can look forward to tonight’s Real Time with Bill Maher. And oh, what a show he’s got in store for us tonight.
Bill’s guests tonight include the man with the the oldest toupee in the news business, the semi-retired Sam Donaldson. Bill also welcomes (for some reason), major asshole David “squeaky” Frum, journalist Reihan Salam, and comedian Carol Leifer. But all of those guest pale in comparison to this week’s #1 guest who will share his vast (some might say unmatched) knowledge of politics, economics, foreign affairs, and soil pipes. Yes, you guessed it, Bill welcomes Joe “the plumber” Wurzelbacher to the show. Maybe he can borrow Sam’s toupee?
Joe the plumber and David Frum on one show? I’m not sure I can watch that. I might have to strangle somebody.
Thursday, April 02, 2009
You Don't Have to be Blonde to be Dumb
So, no matter how pissed off the world is at the US, it appears that Michelle Obama is going over quite well overseas. Good thing, 'cuz I saw the photo of her and the other G-20 "first ladies," and she looks like she could kick every one of their asses (and most of their husbands') with one sleeveless arm tied behind her back (and I was afraid she was accidentally going to step on the Queen of England and squash her like a bug). The only person I can think of that Michelle might have trouble with is, is Barbara Bush (the first one), and that's only 'cuz Bar could ugly her to death.
Angie Harmon gave a two-part interview with Fox News, where (in part) she details all the things she just loves about being a Republican.
"I think one of the greatest things about the Republican Party is the understanding, we don't point fingers and we have class...
Not all of us are supposed to believe the same things and think the same way," she added. "I think the difference between the parties is, with the Democrats you can sit down with them and have a 15 minute conversation and if you're not believing everything they say and buying into what they're selling you, it is like you're some dumb hick who doesn't deserve to live here anymore. But with the Republicans, it is like okay I want to know what you know, you want to know what I know, okay great lets go have a beer after work, we're still friends.
I'd like to see Michelle Obama kick her ass.
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
April Fools Day
AKA, "Holy Shit it's April and I Haven't Even Thought About Doing My Taxes" Day.
The special election to fill Kirsten Gillibrand's vacant House seat has ended in a virtual dead heat, with the Democrat up by 65 votes (absentee ballots have yet to be counted). This would be an insurmountable lead for a Republican, but since it's a Democrat ahead, I think we can count on months of litigation (in fact, the Republican went to court even before the polls closed). I'm pretty sure this won't go on as long as the Senate nonsense in MN, though (which, I'm pretty sure, will only end after the 2014 election - and only if that one isn't close).
In another sad sign of the times, the CNY SPCA appears to be on the verge of closing. Donations are down, and pet drop-offs are up. This is pretty sad news, since the SPCA is a "no-kill" shelter, and other, smaller alternatives can't handle the volume of animals that they do.
Sy Hersh says Dick Cheney has a mole (maybe lots of moles) in the Obama Administration, and can still influence policy to some extent. Don't we hang spies? I'd be willing to keep a cage open at Gitmo for Cheney, and I think it would be appropriate to authorize "harsh interrogation techniques" on him, in order to get to the bottom of this (chain him to a 500 pound weight, and throw him into the river. If he lives, he's a witch, and should be burned. If he drowns, he was innocent, and will be seated next to Jeebus in God's kingdom). After all, there could be a Manchurian Candidate embedded in the administration, and we can't take any chances.
Lucky Barack Obama, who gets to try and pick up the pieces now that Humpty Dumpty and Humpty Dumptier are out of office. Looks like World Leaders are in no mood for our shit anymore, and are set to try and push Obama around. Any reason you cowards couldn't have done this while President Asswipe was still in office? Personally, I think we ought to adopt a policy of strict isolationism (except for Canada and Mexico) and tell the world to go fix itself while we take some time just for ourselves, to figure out who we are and get our collective heads together.
Uh-oh, better go. The Today Show just started, and I can't deal with the stoopid this morning. Have a good one.