Monday, October 31, 2011

The End of the Great Wedding Fraud

That's the end of that fraud. And that's really all it was--a fraudulent attempt to keep the "Kardashian" brand alive for another few months. What's next? Well, no one cares.

Once you begin jerking people around and staging these phony events in order to obtain marketing deals and keep your name out there, it usually ends up in tears. Do you think anything really changed when the vows were exchanged? How could it have changed anything? It's not like they had to get their own trailer and live on food stamps.

A Sleeping Giant?

A motivated, united Veterans organization, based on the principles of Occupy Wall Street and on protesting the destruction of the social safety net could be a powerful one. It could actually a sleeping giant, ready to advocate on behalf of the increasing numbers of homeless, disaffected, and abandoned Veterans. But the numbers don't lie--there aren't enough Veterans to really make much of a dent. A lot of men and women have served in over the last ten years. Many of them are scarred for life and are being abandoned every single day by the services they were in and the Veteran's Administration.

I don't think there's any fear in offending or marginalizing the Vets of George W. Bush's wars of conquest and folly. Once these "ingrates" who wore the uniform realize just what the Republican Party wants to do to their fragile system of benefits, the outrage should be sufficient to get the ball rolling. The problem is, there are just enough Vets who are aligned with organizations that take their marching orders from the Republican Party. The movement, should it ever really get rolling, faces the paid shills who know they have to fragment and destroy the credibility of any popular uprising of Veterans.

More power to them. I mean, to us, since I'm a veteran. Make that a small "v" veteran, of course.

Oh, Herman

Why is this coming out now?

Putting this out in January would be better timing. If you haven't already noticed, there's a race on for the Republican nomination to run for President. Between now and then, someone is hoping to raise a lot of money. When it became apparent that Cain was going to soak up some of those dollars, I guess someone pulled the trigger on the release of this information. If the allegations are sickening and overly-frisky in nature, I would think that it would end the Cain campaign.

Whenever you settle a sexual harassment claim, you have to realize that there is paperwork generated. If there was not basis for the harassment, typically the claim is not settled out of court for at least $10K (that's the minimum; if this was settled, I would imagine that the amount was $50K or more). If this paperwork surfaces, the Cain campaign is in jeopardy. Someone may have given the women who filed these claims that, should they violate their confidentiality agreement, a large sum of money will be paid to them in compensation, probably out of the inheritance of the Romney offspring. Oh well.

Herman Cain? President? Please.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Paternalistic Might be a Better Word

Aside from the weirdness of it all, let's skip past the thing about fathers and daughters and get to the right word.

I think the word Canalis would have been better off choosing would have been "paternalistic." For her to suggest that it was like "living a fairy tale" means that she didn't have a real adult relationship with Clooney and that she didn't really have any responsibilities in the relationship. A paternalistic relationship  basically allows one person control while the other person exists without any rights or responsibilities. When you think about it, Canalis was probably in a relationship where she just went along for the ride.

Culturally, this is maybe more of a European kind of relationship than anything else. I'm speculating, but it doesn't sound like it was anything more than a fling based on mutual physical attraction and based entirely on a money-driven lifestyle. It's impossible to say for certain, but why is anyone impressed or intimidated by George Clooney? He's an old man living like a college boy. A great body of acting work, sure. But is he someone to emulate? To admire? Or is he a cautionary tale about never growing up?

Now, is that healthy? No, in the long term, that's not healthy for anyone. So, you have to give her credit for trying to explain what it was like. The problem is, she might have been a bit too forthcoming.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Truth Comes Out When The Party Starts

This is fairly sickening, but probably goes on more than people realize. It is news that there really are people making money off of the misery of their fellow Americans? No, but it is news when it can be presented in a visual way. These photos are the real story.

Who has the karma to be this callous?

The young lady pictured above is not homeless. She is mocking someone who has been made homeless by the predatory tactics of the law firm for which she works or is associated with. She is making light of the fact that Americans are being thrown out of their homes because the Steven J. Baum law firm makes money taking away the homes of people who aren't able to keep up with their mortgage payments. And while someone has to do this work, it is more than apparent that the Baum firm sees this sort of predatory behavior as necessary and justified.

Again, karma is a real bitch. Economic disaster can hit any time and anywhere. And now the world knows what the Baum firm thinks of itself and the people it has spent the last few years tearing apart. Well, 'may you live in interesting times' was never more apt.

Friday, October 28, 2011


I don't think this will cause users of Chapstick to abandon the product. I think, instead, it shows that advertising really does impact people who like to get offended.

There is a sexist element to this ad, but I don't think it's as offensive as it is being made out to be. It's a comedic scene, and on one level, it is exaggerated enough to be funny. The model being depicted here is clearly dressed in a way that makes her look attractive, but it's not like she has an oversized rear end or something sticking out or a gratuitous shot of butt crack. She's being exploited in a hapless, amusing way, digging into the cushions. Her rear end attracts the fixation because that's where some people's minds will go. I look at it and I consider the situation; not that there's anything wrong with looking at her business, of course. How does this sell Chapstick? I can't figure that part out.

You have to make this more egalitarian and show a dude or a kid or a friend in there trying to help. A dog digging into the cushions would have helped mitigate the charges of sexism, but I could be entirely wrong about that. People love to get offended.

As a piece of advertising, the message is confusing, and I think that's why so many people got upset. The ad has been pulled, and Chapstick's poor handling of the reaction to the ad is probably the bigger part of the story. Deleting the blogger's comments was like throwing a jelly jar full of gas into the flaming jaws of social media oblivion.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Clear Channel Moves to Destroy the Radio Industry Some More

Two of the stupidest things that I ever did in my life were:

  • Go to broadcasting school at Brown Institute in Minneapolis, Minnesota for broadcasting
  • Go to Winona State University in Winona, Minnesota for a broadcasting degree

I finished the first one, walked away from the second one, and ended my broadcasting "career" in the early 1990s. Simply put, there was no way that I was going to be able to make a living at it. I was not talented enough at that early age to find full-time employment, and I failed to establish myself early on. I tried it for about four or five years, on and off, and it was a debacle. Yes, I've done many a stupid thing. Those two things were really, really stupid and I regret them every day. Well, no. I just thought about it today for the first time in ages. Life has a way of moving on.

This has left me with mixed emotions about the broadcasting industry. This industry doesn't really exist anymore. Everything is automated, everything is garbage, and people don't know that they're listening to a very pale imitation of what it was. The days of having a radio station where people actually worked and did the actual broadcasting are over. Now, a radio station is an office or a closet with someone who keeps the automated signal running and with someone who will sell the ads, make a small commission, and then move up in the world to selling used cars or something like that.

It used to be, you had a sales staff, a news staff, a sports staff, a broadcasting staff, and a support staff of people in just one radio station. Thirty or forty people would work at a radio station in the old days, and that was just the full-time personnel. There are a few places like that, but that's mostly gone now.

One of the things that helped kill radio was the belief that consolidating radio stations, automating them, and using them as turnkey businesses would keep the industry afloat. All it did was drive out thousands of people and ruin the medium of radio broadcasting. Satellite radio has hurt it, but it didn't kill it. The Internet probably could kill it, but who knows. But radio was killed by the mentality of Clear Channel, and that's all I have to say about that.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

ACORN Does Not Exist

I get what's happening in this article.

The word ACORN is repeated over and over again, almost as if Fox News is trying to run some serious black hat SEO through the Internets. Which is fine. The only thing left to do in the face of a legitimate popular uprising is to put on that black hat and throw anything and everything against the wall and pray that enough over-outraged old bluehairs are still angrily pounding out searches for ACORN and whatever else. I tried ACORN and FREE SAMMICHES a little while ago and I got nothin'.

ACORN no longer exists. The premise of this article is ridiculous. If you want to sit there and tell me that it is big news that the former employees and office space of an organization that used to organize in communities throughout the country on behalf of the poor and disenfranchised is being used to support a popular protest on behalf of the poor and disenfranchised, then go ahead. There are a lot of unemployed people out there, and a lot of them used to work for ACORN. Now they're involved with Occupy Wall Street.

So freakin' what? Once again, ACORN does not exist. But the outrage, phony as it is and misguided as all hell, still does.

Cracking the Copiale Cipher

The Copiale Cipher is now broken. It turns out, the whole thing was about initiating people into a secret society.

The story of how it was broken is the fascinating part. What's actually in the book is less interesting to me than the process which cracked it wide open:

There are people who might argue that these eggheads should be applying themselves to practical applications. That's nonsense. Problem solving is never a useless endeavor. If you want to know what ails this sad sack of a country, look no further than our inability to teach things like common sense and problem solving to the general population.

The skills acquired while figuring out this puzzle add value to what is happening at the University of Southern California. If anything, give these people a prize and then, quietly, perhaps, teach others how to do what they're doing.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Over the Moon in Brisbane

No, you shouldn't moon the Queen of England. I can't believe we're even having this discussion.

Unsanitary and unpleasant, yes. But, what do you accomplish by mooning the Queen? You accomplish nothing, you end up bothering a lot of busy people who have to protect the Queen from real outrages and the like, and you end up ruining a perfectly good Australian flag.

There's no victory here. Only chafing and poor hygiene choices.

A Set of Instructions, Dashed Off Quickly

I'm not posting this for my artistic abilities or anything like that. It isn't even remotely brilliant. But it does serve as an example of technical writing.

In order to demonstrate to someone who borrowed our cordless drill how to make it work, I took a piece of notepad paper and drew the diagram above. In many cases, it's OK to assume that people will "figure it out on their own." But when you are learning about technical writing, you should take the time to create things that save people time and aggravation.

This diagram tackles the one thing about the drill that isn't as easy or instinctive as it probably should be. It's important to be able to change out the drill bit and remove the assembly part that holds the thing that you can use as a screwdriver. Now, I don't know the exact terminology of all of that stuff, but I could look it up. Instead, I could just show a person how to change out the pieces and not get bogged down in details.

This diagram, for example, shows the exploded view but doesn't tackle the real world necessity of making quick changes to the drill configuration.

Exploded views are nice, but, really. What value are they? Isn't this more than you need to know? Because, what you really need is to be able to make the thing work the way that you want it to. And when operating the drill, being able to change it from making holes to putting things together is a critical function.

So, I drew out what I thought was the one critical function. I didn't do anything spectacular; I went for quick and functional, adding the details and descriptions that I thought would work best. I could have used less text, and maybe drawn a three dimensional arrow, but I didn't have the time or the inclination to really go all out.

All I did was communicate through text and pictures. What I wanted to do was make it easier to perform one critical function on the drill. All I needed was a quick diagram. And no, the user didn't have a problem with the drill. Was that because of my diagram or did they already know how to use the drill? I have no idea. But I did what I did to save them the time and trouble, and I think that's what technical writing is about.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Kicked Out of the Pumpkin Patch?

Doug Hutchinson's best buds are probably feeling a little left out right now. And that's okay--I don't think they mind being ignored or abandoned because they can keep up with Doug whenever he goes into public places and lets people stare at his wife. And take pictures. And all that good stuff.

Anyway, can a bromance survive a 17 year-old wife who looks like Courtney Stodden? It would have to be a bromance based on trust and commitment, and not so much on player hating.

I'm not even sure if I can publish these pictures. Don't tell the po-po on me, alright?

What Really Happened After the 1986 Tax Reform

Martin Feldstein at the Wall Street Journal is arguing that the tax reform enacted in 1986 had a positive impact on the American economy. In many ways, sure, I'll buy that. He even goes so far as to say that, when you cut taxes, the amount of actual taxes paid into the system goes up, not down.

Ignoring the usual "trickle down" theories that go with this sort of thing, I'll add one piece of evidence which will show what tax cuts really do to the American economy. Taxes paid into the system are important, don't get me wrong, and Feldstein is not a liar, a cheat, or a thief in any sense of the word because he seems to be making a great partial argument. As seen above, he actually has evidence to back him up. But his evidence is missing something crucial.

The rest of the argument is here:

When we cut taxes, for some bizarre reason, the amount of wealth concentrated at the top goes up and when we raise taxes, it goes down. Look at three specific areas on that table. In 1922, the American economy wasn't in great shape, but wealth was more evenly distributed; when we skip ahead to 1929, look at how much wealth became concentrated upwards in this country, thanks to the policies of Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge (and a little Herbert Hoover thrown in). The mantra of the 1920s was fiscal responsibility and no Federal spending.

After that, the tax rates kept things more or less in balance, and it was a sustainable balance that led to the great economic expansion of the American economy. Our economy grew when our top tax rates were in the 90 percentile range and the wealthy still held on to their money. During the 1940s and 1950s, the wealthy enjoyed an almost steady hold on around 30% of the nation's wealth; that would drop precipitously in the 1970s under Nixon and Ford. That's the economic record we should be investigating. What happened? Insert your own OMG and your own LOL on that one.

Our Gross Domestic Product has been growing at a massive rate, don't get me wrong. This rising tide has lifted a great many boats. But our economy is stagnating and wages are going down; it's time for a change of direction.

Look at what happens after 1986, as seen above. The bottom 99% of the economy saw their portion of the nation's wealth shrink by 4%. That's a shocking drop, even more so since it had fallen by roughly 12% in just ten years. So much for the Reagan tax cuts--all they did was redistribute income upwards.

Look at the spike that occurs after the Bush tax cuts--another sharp redistribution of wealth upwards, resulting in a steady, almost confiscatory level of wealth redistribution that continued unabated through the last decade. The wealthy are enjoying twenty-odd years of fabulousness and fatuousness that is absolutely killing out economy. Feldstein argues that one of the improvements that came about after 1986 was in the area of entrepreneurship and risk taking. How's that working out for us now? The wealthy are not creating jobs; they're hoarding their ill-gotten gains. This is why there's so much legitimate anger out there.

This is what tax cuts do--they put more wealth into the pockets of the top tiers of the economy. They do not increase the amount of wealth held by the bottom 99%. That's a fallacy that is constantly being rammed into this debate. Unemployment is a much larger issue, and when there is low unemployment, tax receipts increase because more people are paying into the system. That accounts for part of what Feldstein is saying, but not all of it. Unfortunately, we can't afford any more tax cuts. Not for another generation. But the Wall Street Journal is never going to stop beating that dead horse, no matter what.

Hey, That's No Way to Say Thank You

Out of sheer decency and common sense, people like this should be thanking President Obama. And if they cannot bring themselves to do just that, they should shut up and pretend they didn't notice that the President of the United States basically just got done bailing the country out of a major foreign policy blunder and nightmare.

Being stuck in Iraq in 2008 didn't help the Republican Party at the polls. Ending the war now and pulling out gets this issue out of the discussion with regards to 2012. No one should bring it up. Both parties, tainted by their funding and support of the war, should move on and treat it like it didn't even happen.

Instead, we have nonsense like this.

The "defeated enemy" was the Ba'ath Party of Iraq, and they were run out of power by April, 2003. What we have had since then is a protracted fight against an assortment of insurgent elements trying to gain power by any means necessary. The people who threw us out received a great deal of CIA support gaining and holding office; these are our handpicked lackeys who did this. The fact that they get their marching orders from Iran is actually our fault.

And President Obama just fixed this problem. All we need to do now is wait for one serious attack and abandon our embassy and leave entirely. Only the Iraqi people can build the new Iraq and, given what has happened, I don't think they want us around anymore. We should oblige them and leave entirely.

Every Republican candidate for the Presidency should be asked if they think we should deploy 5 or 6 divisions to Iraq and start over again. I'd be curious if any of them think we should muster a force that can re-occupy Iraq.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Libya is Going to End Up Like Iran?

Noel Sheppard is not a very bright man:

The conservative punditocracy is going crazy right now. President Obama keeps smiling and he keeps taking out dictators, terrorists, and thugs. He's killing so many of them right now, they don't know what to do.

So, when Sheppard panics and says that Libya might become a Muslim theocracy like Iran, he reveals just how ignorant he is of what's really happening in the world. Libya is 97% or so Sunni; Iran is a theocratic state where the dominant religion is Shia, with about 90% of Iranians identifying themselves as such.

Sunni and Shia? What's that? Well, those are the two main branches of Islam that oppose one another. But, my guess is, Libya will have a lot of problems in the years to come, not the least of which are a result of the fact that the Bush Administration coddled Gaddafi and allowed him to consolidate his hold on power. That will all have to be sorted out by a government that will struggle to get on its feet.

I'm sure that they will make noises about being conservative and establishing Islamic law. This is nothing new. Libya could very well end up being a very secular state as compared to other countries where Muslims are in the majority. I wouldn't put much stock in it, however. I also wouldn't put much stock in talk of establishing democracy, either. When the power struggle is over, expect another quasi-strongman to emerge but one that is friendlier to business interests and a little more willing to share power.

How's that for a spectacular fail?

Screwing Veterans is a Republican Virtue

Ronald and Allis Radosh love to revise history and dress it up in such a way as to present a "new way forward" based on the crazy and immoral things that were done long ago. They have now given considerable thought to the idea that this country needs another Warren G. Harding. Inadvertently, they praise Harding's stand against paying World War I veterans a bonus when they should have, umm, not brought that up at all.

How do you assess Harding in the context of modern politics? Well, his Administration was corrupt and full of cronies, which is no mean trick in American politics.

Easily one of the greatest failures in American History, Harding represents another Republican icon (although he is so far removed from the public consciousness that I doubt more than a handful of Americans could identify him as such) of fiscal conservative values that can be held up and celebrated by the Radosh team. They're desperate for anyone who can lay claim to "balancing the budget." What hogwash. By slicing out Harding's fiscal record (which is irrelevant because the Federal Government didn't have to deal with a Department of Defense fighting a war on terror or with Social Security, Medicaid or Medicare at that time because they hadn't even been thought up), they hope to pin the hopes of a desperately broke nation on a misguided example.

Ronald and Allis Radosh are peddling nonsense. They pass themselves off as historians but they're incapable of looking at history through anything other than a filter that suggests their love of making things up to fit a narrative that they know, as educated people, is far-fetched and ridiculous. This country doesn't need another Warren G. Harding and they know it.

The easiest way to puncture the nonsense here is to look at what America's Gross Domestic Product was in the 1920s.

So what if Harding balanced the budget? If we had Harding's budget, we wouldn't have anywhere near the GDP we currently possess. Look at how America's economy has grown since then. We're talking apples and oranges.

Harding's budgets in 1921 and 1922 were about $10.5 and 9.3 billion dollars. Adjusted, that would make these budgets about $126,832,864,068 and $119,890,800,003 in today's dollars (assuming my math is even remotely correct). 

As compared to our current budget, which runs into the trillions, the fact that Harding "balanced" the budget is irrelevant; he didn't have to work with the Congress nearly as hard to do so because there weren't any entitlements to speak of. Also note that Federal spending was higher, in relation to GDP during Harding's time than it is today. Not that much higher, but still.

Further, the Radoshes know full well that Harding cut taxes in the early 1920s, bringing the top rate down from 73% to 42%. And this "triggered" a great deal of economic growth. That is, until the bubble burst, giving us the Great Depression, which left the Federal Government completely without any ability to manage the impact of instant poverty and unemployment on tens of millions of Americans. Those were great days for American business, don't get me wrong. But the philosophy enacted by Harding and carried into the Coolidge and Hoover Administrations destroyed our economy.

Finally, there's this tidbit from their article:

Here's how "brilliant" Harding's actions were--the act passed in 1924 because Congress overrode Calvin Coolidge's veto, and did so in order to stave off being thrown out of office. In the summer of 1932, the Bonus Army marched on Washington D.C., and rioted when the Hoover Administration wouldn't do anything to accelerate the payment of the benefits in order to help people who were desperate for any kind of support.

But the Radoshes know that, too. And what they know is that screwing veterans is a priority of the Republican Party, and always has been and always will be. Their little column is yet another example of how the conservative punditry in this country celebrates kicking people when they are down and denying veterans their benefits and rights.

They do this in the name of being fiscally responsible. Well, where was that fiscal responsibility when we were marching off to war? 

This kind of nonsense sickens me. It lays the groundwork for destroying all of the safety nets enacted since the Great Depression. That's what they want--they want people to have nothing, and to get squeezed so badly that all they can do is cry out for mercy and end up with Federal troops chasing them out of town with bayonets.

So much for their command of "history."

Friday, October 21, 2011

Bromance, by Tim Berg

Something I Might Employ

This is the famous robotic arm that is writing out the Bible in Gothic script outside of the cathedral in Trier.

I think if I were to use this thing, I might get somewhere with this project.

A lot of what I have done and organized has been scrapped. I am reorganizing the whole blog thing as well--having 12 or 13 blogs really isn't conducive to writing stories, but, then again, there is no down side to being busy and creative all of the time.

Remember Me?

The media's obsessive reporting of everything Sarah Palin ever said, did, or posted on Facebook ended recently. There were whole entire days when the media establishment was tied up in knots over what she had to say about things that were well beyond her paygrade.

I guess when you tease everyone about running for President, and then, when you get to the point where you either have to run for President or withdraw gracefully, you should probably run for President. The realization that no one cares about anything she has to say must have hit home. What a pleasant day that must have been around the house.

A cursory glance at what comes back when hitting the "Add Zemanta" button (listed below) shows that she is out there, trying to gin up some outrage and attention. Yawn.

Sarah Palin appears to be finished as a media icon. By failing to run for the highest office in the land, she has shown all of her cards and they ended up being blank. Another rusted out, broken-down car on the highway of life fades into the rearview mirror. Who was she and why did anyone bother to worry about her in the first place?
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Instructional Fail

Miss Dana Long catches a technical writing failure, and this speaks volumes as to how important it is to think before affixing a label, and it also demonstrates that if your product has severe limitations, putting warning labels on it isn't the solution.

Why would someone build a product with cup holders so weak that they cannot hold any kind of a beverage in a safe manner? That makes no sense.

These Are My Glad Rags

The headlines and the cheap shots say that this is Christina Aguilera, and that she has left her home to go somewhere in the Los Angeles area and buy lingerie.

So what? Why use this as an opportunity to make a joke?

Oh, wait. No pants? Stiletto heels? And a trucker cap?

Now I get it.

One Million Moms Can't Get Their Heads Around the Appeal of Schweddy Balls

At least these panicked, reactionary prudes are organized. It takes a great deal of effort to get a successful boycott off the ground, what with all of the apathy and economic desperation out there. I'm glad these people have found something serious and substantive to do with their time. What's worse? A high-end ice cream product or the typical swill of violence and sexism force-fed to our kids every day?

Are the One Million Moms boycotting things like MTV, Fox News and edible underwear? If not, then they should be.

Why Won't Americans Pick Potatoes?

This is where you have to comment on the brilliant leadership of the State of Alabama. Every one of them thought that if they could just drive out the so-called "illegal immigrants" that it would magically fix everything. It didn't. Now they have produce rotting in the fields, which will drive up prices and hit the people at the bottom of the economic spectrum even harder. When you make healthy food too expensive to buy, you create a downward spiral for public health and public wellness. The only left to do is eat the seed corn, buy more Twinkies, and stock up on insulin.

It actually reveals a great deal about this country and it speaks volumes about why the rhetoric has gotten it wrong every time. Let me just say that if there weren't low-paying, hard labor jobs in this country that ordinary Americans were unwilling to do, we wouldn't be having this discussion. The fact is, these jobs have always been around. Remember slavery? That's what slavery was designed to do--fix the problem of how you get human beings to do backbreaking work. Migrant workers have had to fill a lot of the labor gaps in this country's history and they have had to do it for terrible wages. Think of that sort of life--months and months on end of doing nothing but farm work, hoping to make enough money to survive. And these are the people who are the problem?

No, they're not the problem. Poor people are not the problem with America's economy or society or culture. The real problems run deeper than that. Americans are conditioned to vote against their own economic self-interest and they are fed lies about why times are tough. It's that simple.

After shooting itself in the foot, and after terrorizing thousands of families, Alabama still can't figure out how to deal with this issue. There is high unemployment throughout the state, but nobody is willing to go pick potatoes and harvest other crops by hand. You see, that's "Mexican" work and people who have a very high opinion of themselves simply refuse to spend more than a pleasant, sunny morning working in the fields. Oh, the horror of it all! Having to bend over and pick things up--why, that's just not right. Americans should be in charge of the people who have to do that sort of thing, right? And when the jobs of the overseers are filled up, certainly we can create jobs were decent Americans can stand around with cattle prods and shotguns to ensure that no one misses a potato or takes a twenty minute break, right?

Hey, instead of spending Saturday watching college football, get out there and spend ten or twelve hours picking up vegetables in the field, okay? And then come back and tell me that things are better now that all of the "illegal immigrants" are gone.

People in Alabama screamed for this law and now they don't know what to do. There is work waiting for them, but they are unwilling to do it. They are too lazy to do it. There are people who have seen their unemployment benefits run completely out and they are not ready to go into the fields and dig potatoes out of the ground for any amount of money.

I guess the answer now is to criminalize laziness. Alabama should now pass a law that says that anyone who can't walk into a dirt field and harvest a cash crop for fifty or sixty hours per week should flee the state in the middle of the night and abandon their belongings and disrupt the lives of their children.

Sympathy Does Not Enter Into This Equation

I place human life over animal life, and, for that I suppose I deserve a bit of abuse. I don't know why, but oh well. You have to take a stand on these issues and you have to be willing to take your lumps.

Training military medical personnel with live pigs ensures that they will be ready to face the blood, trauma and stress of taking care of live human beings when they are wounded or injured. This is a proven technique that helps medical professionals connect with another living thing and do whatever it takes to keep it alive. This is vital and badly needed training. The more training we do like this, the better off the personnel are going to be when they face a serious situation.

I do not condone cruelty to the pig, and I acknowledge that it is a creature that has endure a lot of pain before ultimately dying. But human life has to come first.

Now, there have been calls for change, and I acknowledge those. Can they create an artificial person that reacts like a human being would under similar circumstances? Well, that would be fantastic technology. Until then, they have to keep training with pigs and, in some cases, goats. If they trained with dogs, well, the science isn't exactly there (pigs are the best candidates, as far as I know) and people would really get bent out of shape.

I'm not going to add anything about the end of exercise pig BBQ, so let's finish on a high note.

Senator Mark Rubio is Not a Cuban Exile

The Rubio family left Cuba before Fidel Castro came back to Cuba in November of 1956 to begin his armed revolution against the Batista government? That's an incredible revelation and it means, in essence, that Rubio is not the son of exiles.

I think the definition is fairly clear--you can call yourself a Cuban exile if you actually fled the Castro government. Rubio's parents left before there was even a hint of a Castro takeover. The Batista government released Castro and his followers from prison because they weren't considered a serious threat after their first failed attempt to overthrow the government. No matter how anyone wants to slice it, to have left Cuba in 1956 meant that the Rubio family was fleeing for economic reasons or from the Batista regime, not from the Castro regime. I cannot believe that this distinction is not a significant one for anyone versed in the details of the Cuban Revolution.

I suppose people will rewrite this history and try to save Rubio's reputation. That's too bad. They should abandon this liar now.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Gaddafi Meets His Destiny

A fitting end to one of the great monsters of the modern era. How did this man rule for 40 years? What's wrong with the world we live in?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Is Mong an Offensive Term?

Ricky Gervais is being taken to task for someone else's bad science.

After being criticized for using the term "mong," Gervais has basically defended himself with that tried and true method of saying "so what?" Somewhere in the evolution of this term, "mong" became shorthand for someone with Down's Syndrome, and it became a term that many people find offensive.

If you go back to where the word originated from, you can see that it comes from some bad science:

The meaning of the word "mong" has changed and I don't think Gervais intended to harm anyone by using it. The term itself should not be used, but then we get into censorship and all that. I don't think an enlightened person would use that term, but that's just my elitism showing through I guess.

Perhaps there's a bigger divide between British and American comedy that needs to be addressed. As with anything, as soon as you offend someone, you've lost most of the battle before you can even begin to mount a defense.

Or have you?

There's a growing movement out there that suggests that personal outrage is getting out of hand. Are you entitled to your outrage? Yes. Are you entitled to making your outrage my problem? Well, it this is about a level of hate speech that crosses the line into incitement of violence and hatred, then the outrage of the public ends up in that codified area of the law where it becomes illegal to incite violence or hatred through speech. I don't think calling someone a "mong" is enlightened or accurate, but it doesn't cross the line.
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Cheap Shots

This is one of the sillier pieces of counter-occupy propaganda that is flooding the Internet. Cheap shots are easy to take. The problem is, pointing out that these people use products and protest corporations is fairly simple-minded. They're protesting the fact that the corporations are violating a basic social compact with the American public.

And, in point of fact, many of them are there because one of the things these corporations "made" was a product that repackaged thousands of home mortgages into junk debt which they sold and resold multiple times in order to destroy communities and create a vast amount of misery and hardship for these same people who are protesting.

I don't see them wearing or using their repackaged mortgage products because those things weren't marketed and sold to the American people. They were traded by speculators and fund managers and crooks and thieves and they helped ruin the American economy. That's patriotism, though. In the richest nation on Earth, you are free to create an instrument of destroying the economic fabric of the nation and no one thinks twice about punching the hippie who notices what you did.

As with anything, there's a little "more" to this story.

Here's Where it Gets All Meta

Felix Salmon looks at how this image went viral, and he gets into the reasons why the expression of such a complex idea has succeeded in boosting the legitimacy of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

What's under attack right now is legitimacy. There are no deep thinkers working for Andrew Breitbart, but Memeorandum is full of their posts right now. His organization is using code words like rape and violence to attack the legitimacy of the first real popular uprising in America since the Vietnam War. I can think of only a handful of other movements--the efforts of family farmers in the 1980s to hang on to their legacy and the quick flameout of the H. Ross Perot movement in the 1990s--that came close to approximating what we're seeing now. Breitbart's minions are going to pounce on anything that looks Marxist, sexist, or ridiculous.

The image that you see above operates on an intellectual plane so high above their paygrade that what they really ought to be doing is building a series of walled compounds so that they can protect dear Andrew from the unwashed masses. Breitbart once famously told people that "we have guns." I hope that gives him comfort because there is no one who really has his back. The people in the uniformed military that he claims will use force to support what he's doing command people who understand where they fall in the economic spectrum, and they are the members of the 99% who count themselves lucky to be in uniform. They understand what a lawful order is, and they're not going to turn their weapons on American citizens. I'm sorry, but it ain't happening.

The real danger is that this will flame out. Since this movement requires people to place themselves in both physical and economic jeopardy, I think that the influx of financial support has really helped ward off the collapse of the movement. People need to be fed and given some basic amenities while they're in the streets, and that appears to be happening. Those who can't make it to Manhattan are creating movements wherever they live. Occupy Miami might have to keep things rocking and rolling so that Occupy Chicago can survive the winter.

It sort of reminds me of the controversy over holding the Super Bowl in a cold-weather open stadium--will it create a sense of magic if the game is played in snow or will it lead to lawsuits once the drunks start showing signs of frostbite? People are prepared to endure misery to make their point. This is the peace movement we should have had eight years ago. If this thing survives the winter, it will be the second coming of Valley Forge. Wear a turtleneck and drink something warm, whether you're going to the game or to Occupy International Falls.

Using financial instruments of mass destruction, too much wealth has been concentrated in the hands of too few. This is the beginning of that correction, and the ideas being expressed are far more subtle and brilliant for the traditional practices of paid shills to counter. People may not understand what's going on in that sign, but they damned sure understand what a robber baron is and they do know how that phase of American history turned out.
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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Feeling Like a Blogger Again

Ah, it's good to be back on the blog, getting stuff done.

Lowe's Shuts Down a Handful of Stores, Distressing More of the Gentlefolk

Store Closing Fact Sheet - 10.17.11
An interesting document, and the thing that caught my eye is the fact that, from New Jersey to Maine, things aren't going very well for Lowe's right now. With almost half of the stores being closed in this area, there isn't much to celebrate in the economy right now. If Lowe's can't make it, what does that say about the possibility that a lot retail businesses are on the verge of folding? And, if they are, doesn't that mean thousands and thousands of people who are now underemployed are going to be out of work?

No wonder people are Occupying Wall Street. Every time there's a clear indication of what's going on, we get media confusion and obfuscation. It's a better story when you can read about the dirty hippies stealing from each other and doing drugs, isn't it? Meanwhile, thousands more out of work.

Comparative Essay

The Calf Bearer and the Joy of Life

Shia LaBeouf Really Isn't That Tough

Apparently, Shia LaBeouf likes to use his face to beat people up with, and he starts with their fists and works his way up from there. If he was even remotely tough or capable in a street fight, I would think that he would be on his feet getting his ass kicked, rather than rolling in the gutter looking up at blubber and fists.

I think he's a talented young man. He has the goods, to put it in a way that people can understand. He is practically the only reason why I bothered to start a blog called Celebrity Disaster, and he is certainly finding his way through youth, douchebaggedness, and the seedy underbelly of large North American cities. When all is said and done, all that matters is what Us Magazine says about your last stint in rehab, not what happens at the box office.

This is a bonafide movie star, one of the few remaining in existence. He and Will Smith are two guys who can call themselves movie stars right now, basically because Ryan Reynolds, Adam Sandler, and Seth Rogen aren't. And this valuable, talented young man has no one helping him and no one keeping him from getting his ass kicked in public by common shirtless nobodies.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

We Are Here For That Purpose

Rick Perry has problems, but his wife isn't creating new ones. She's revealing how twisted the Republican nomination process has become.

Using tears in public to decry the fact that her husband, a Christian, has been attacked on all sides and then telling people that he has been called to run for the Presidency by God is a little like saying that the Perry campaign is on a mission to take America back from the Godless and to stop the Mormons. We may well be witnessing the first real major campaign in modern American politics that will utterly demonize the Mormon faith. I think there are enough people out there who will make this happen on Perry's behalf. They don't want Mitt Romney, and they don't want that Huntsman fellow, either, whoever he is.

The only chance Perry has right now is to completely and utterly stop attending debates and to stop speaking in public. He has to run a campaign inside of a citadel. He has to find a dozen or so surrogates to terrify Republican primary voters into thinking that the Mormon faith is profane and anti-Christian. And then he has to hope and pray that his own TV ads drive enough voters away so that he can finish in second or third place often enough to survive into April and May of next year.

If not, he's finished. And no amount of boo-hooing is going to change that.

Why Would You Go Forward With This Interview?

How is it that people cannot pick up on the fact that Hank Williams Jr. was not in any frame of mind to comment seriously on politics during the course of this interview? The Fox & Friends crew baited him and let him repeat horrible things. Had this happened on any other outlet, the hypocritical condemnations would pour forth.

What happened to this man's mind?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Good News for Catholics of Royal Blood and Standing

Much of what is being proposed by the Prime Minister does away with centuries of anti-Catholic vitriol and equalizes the sexes. This is good news for anyone harboring secret feelings towards Catholicism, and that's about it.

These changes seem to signal that Britain is not ready to get rid of the monarchy. By making it all more equal, egalitarian, and palatable, perhaps all Cameron is doing is postponing the day of dissolution of the monarchy. This new couple seems to be in it for the long haul.  If they can maintain their status as one of the most wildly popular couples in history, their grandchildren will probably live in an England that is ready to be ruled under this new Act of Settlement.

Hold On Before You Pass Judgement

The rapidly infamous "Corn Maze" family that called 911 when they got lost is probably going to be the victim of a lot of cheap shots and quick takes and that's what this whole blogging thing is now--an automated joke machine.

Count me out of that nonsense.

First of all, why didn't the facility have an elevated cherry picker or bucket suspended in the air adjacent to the maze to "help" people who needed it? I suppose it would be fun to do the maze without a visual clue, but the thing is, public safety is important. At a minimum, having someone up there with a communications device of some kind to help would be smart.

Second of all, calling 911 solved the problem. I hope they are not fined for that.

Third, this was no ordinary "corn maze." This thing covered 7 acres and was not cut into rows and whatnot--it was cut into curves and circles, as the image above attests. I can see why they got lost. This was clearly not designed for a quick trip in and out, otherwise, why would they be charging $18 for the venue? That's right--they were charging premium prices because of the size and complexity of the maze. That was the thinking behind the creation of the maze. The owner himself says that a person would need about an hour to get through it. Well, which person? What if they needed more or less than that?

Let's not forget that this didn't happen during the day, either. It was dark when they called 911 and the farm had closed. A K9 unit had to go in with flashlights and find them. I can understand why people would want to make fun of them and question their judgement. There's no questioning the fact that they got lost, they needed help, and the police responded. Whether or not the family ends up having to pay for the cost of their rescue is another matter entirely.

No cheap shots here. I can see why they called 911. Now, was it wise to go in with an infant? No. But that's neither here nor there in this case.

Does This Sound Like Justice?

Nothing I'm reading here sounds like justice. It sounds like economic displacement and xenophobia.

Ideally, yes you'd want people to come here legally and make a life for themselves. These people couldn't do that. But they were still able to get trailers, put their kids in schools, find work, pay taxes, and live in these communities. In many cases, Hispanic workers in the deepest parts of the South outwork everyone around them and live happy, productive lives with sound family values.

Hispanic families are stronger than other families because they find a way to live their lives according to basic rules that I certainly find appealing. They are honest, trustworthy, and do things that are very admirable. They take care of the elderly members of their family, their extended family structure means more children have more positive role models, and their way of life is centered around celebrating their family relationships and, basically, staying out of the way of everyone else.

I'm generalizing, and I'm stereotyping, but I get sick of all the negative stuff that I read and hear. If you look at that trailer, and consider it the best chance those kids playing soccer had in this world, and then you read about how their terrified parents basically had to give away everything they own for nothing and flee the state of Alabama in the dead of night, praying that a Johnny Law wouldn't stop them and demand papers from them, well, you have to wonder why even bother having a country anymore.

I would rather have Hispanic family values around me than the ones found in many parts of white Alabama, where alcoholism, divorce, violence, and infidelity seems to have a free rein (I use that rather than "free reign" because it's the correct form) in those communities. We're all just people. Everyone is basically just trying to live their lives and not get hassled. African-Americans have been trying to find a hassle-free way to live with the establishment in Alabama since before anyone knew there was an Alabama.

And yet, the powers that be in that state cannot lead, cannot do the decent thing, and cannot make a law that doesn't stick a fist in the eye of liberty and grind a boot heel into the throat of decency. As God is my witness, I'll never live in Alabama, ever.

Gingrich Remains Impressed With His Own Intellect

A Republican is someone who thinks that Democrats should be in jail. A Democrat is someone who thinks criminals should be in jail. Clearly, the charismatically free and ridiculously out of touch candidate who calls himself Newt Gingrich has never been acquainted with this thing we call the rule of law, but oh well. He is failing and desperate. Flop sweat appears on his lip when asked any question not rooted in his own slipping grasp of American history. His poor wife, with her deer-in-the-headlights stare, simply cannot warm the hearts of people who write checks. Does he have a loyal child who doesn't harbor feelings of betrayal for the abandonment of some discarded wife somewhere? Can't that child be coaxed into saying something decent about this man? Or is that an impossibility for which there is no hope?

Why is he still in the race? He hasn't caught fire and he won't catch fire as a candidate. He is reduced to pleading for money from people who roll their eyes at his fervent belief in his own competence. No one in modern American politics has failed as often as Gingrich, and his team is winning. His team is full of politicians who win, and win big. Sadly, none of that has ever rubbed off on him.

Representative Barney Frank got in a great line when asked for his response:

In a perfect world, the story about the Republican debate would lead with Frank's zinger.