Saturday, June 30, 2012

All the Way to Timbuktu

What should the United States do? Send five divisions and a coalition force?

If the people of Mali can't stop these armed fighters, then there really is no hope for UNESCO's heritage sites near the famous city of Timbuktu. I suppose there are people who think this version of al Qaeda is a threat, but, really, these are just separatist movements, of which Africa has many. If a country falls into failed state status and ends up being ruled by trucks filled with gunmen, then that's an issue for whom? Can someone unite Africa and create a credible mechanism to deal with these regional and internal issues?

I think this is largely something the locals will have to solve. No one can build your nation for you, and when it falls apart, it really is up to you. Save up and buy some gun trucks of your own.

The destruction of heritage sites is as old as can be. Carthage was once a heritage site, and look what became of it.

Want More Time Off? Sorry, Can't Help You

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

I realize that this is about "elite" workers, but, really, the statistics cover ALL workers, and when we talk about the benefits enjoyed by workers, once it becomes fashionable to take them away from some, the employers will reduce them for all. Yes, even pesky lawyers.

Our Galtian overlords think we are lazy, indolent, overfed, and underworked. That's why they are destroying public sector unions--those people sometimes get as much as six weeks off per year. Since the late 1970s what has happened? Private section union membership has decreased while most of the union membership has stayed in public sector unions. So, the only thing standing in the way of reducing the amount of time off, on average, that the American worker enjoys is the size of the public sector unions. Once they are destroyed, it's over.

The elimination of benefits for workers begins with those who have no voice. Once they see their benefits reduced or eliminated, it becomes easier to chip away at the benefits enjoyed by others. If American workers at all levels remain in a "I've got mine, screw the other guy" tribal mentality, then there's very little left for anyone to wish for. This really is one of those situations where we're all in it together. The people at the very top are hoping on division and strife to destroy huge chunks of the American workforce, and public sector unions are under siege right now. After them, the fatter benefits enjoyed by workers depicted above are next.

If you want to argue that people should have more time off, fine. But don't pretend that employers are going to give that away. They might negotiate with employees for more time off, but unless you are organized, forget about it.

With over 8% unemployment, they're not going to give anyone anything unless it is pried from their greedy, chubby little fingers. And, of course, people hate unions, unions are corrupt, unions are full of mafia members, unions destroyed America five times before Ronald Reagan saved us all, blah, blah, blah...

The simple fact is, tribalism is bringing down America, and our elites couldn't be more pleased with that.

Look at That Face

There are some who speculate that House Speaker John Boehner has a severe drinking problem, and emotional issues, but I will not countenance any of those possibilities here.

He looks like he's have quite a serious sad, though, does he not? When you are at an event, having people take your photo, there are bound to be unflattering shots. One would think that a man who has been in politics for as long as Boehner would remember that.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Katie Holmes is 33

Given that the divorce was filed by Holmes and that she only lasted five years, this entire thing does seem like a contractual obligation that has ended abruptly. The fact that each of the ex-wives of Tom Cruise have been 33 years old when seeking to divorce him does lend itself to some interesting speculation.

It would be tempting to look past all of the celebrity glamour and nonsense and wonder if any of these people are real, but, honestly. The celebrity media does not care. This is just the story of a young woman who married a man who has a lot of money, power, and show business influence and then decided to look elsewhere for whatever it is she couldn't make up when he was not around.

Perfect looking people are usually anything but perfect. This has been true since forever.

Which Way Do You Want It?

President Obama and his socialist minions finally find a way to stay out of the way of small government conservatives and libertarians alike and this is the thanks he gets?

So, the President is not supposed to be spending money that we don't have, but the President is supposed to be spending money on planes that might not even have helped contain this fire because certain wind-driven forest fires cannot be stopped, no matter what?

We don't have any money to spend on health care, a stimulus package, improving our nation's infrastructure (hello, what do you think a fire-fighting plane is part of but the infrastructure of the Federal firefighting effort?), taking care of Veterans, investing in new technologies, getting off foreign oil, or finding renewable energy sources, but we're supposed to buy the idea that there's plenty of money to fight forest fires from the air in Colorado Springs and Colorado Springs only but the Obama Administration has been too slow to spend that money we don't have?

Convoluted logic much? Either you believe in a functioning, active government that spends money and invests in things like planes and technology and preventative forest management or you believe in things like the Ryan budget plan which cuts money for those things and starves old people and gives tax breaks to the wealthy. If you're going to sit here and say you believe in both, get the hell out of town.

That reminds me of a saying. Everybody hates the government, but damned if they don't change their mind when a fire truck pulls up at two in the morning and saves their house from burning down. Damned if they certainly don't.

Another Wingnut Doubles Down on the Crazy

The whiny ass titty baby flag flies proudly...
Guess what, wingnuts?

You lost.

Every time those of us who are progressives and liberals and whatever else that is reasonable loses, we accept the defeat and move on. We keep trying. We never give up.

Those of you who hate America, hate government, and hate it when other people get something that helps keep them alive,  give up and cry when you lose, and you know it. You cry about it like someone just took your ice cream cone and smashed it into the tailpipe of an outbound truck.

Fly your flag upside down, and desecrate it with your nonsense opinions. You are certainly free to do so. But, welcome to being mocked and derided for your lameness and your immaturity. Welcome to being shown the door that helps you exit the arena of public discourse.

By the way, you lost yesterday. Stings like motherfucker, doesn't it?

Go out into whatever community you live in and make loud noises about how you hate this country. Give your last $37 to the Romney campaign and watch them blow through it in nanoseconds while Mitt shakes the Etch-a-Sketch and tries to ignore the fact that Obamacare is, essentially, Romneycare. Why'd you nominate him again? He's not going to beat Obama now, no matter how much money you pour into voter suppression.

Oh, that's right. No one else wanted to run against the fact that America is a country where we take care of the unlucky, the unfortunate, and where we don't, as the President says, let someone's fortune hang on chance.

Washington D.C. is the place of the status quo, up and until it is time to do something to ensure that the wellbeing of the people is improved, however nominally, by an idea put forward by liberals and opposed by conservatives that, ultimately, becomes the law of the land. Then, the status quo protects itself until the level of outrage in the country rises to another breaking point. On the health care issue, that breaking point passed years ago and now we have reform. We need more reform, and that ball is now rolling in the right direction, forward, and in a progressive manner.

Suck on that and think about what that means for your vaunted ideas.

Your pathetic screeching is unseemly, but it is not without precedent. They howled when Social Security was passed. They screamed when African-Americans gained Civil Rights. There was quite a bit of kvetching when Medicare passed. And, with good reason. Your tribal instincts always come down to a desire to deny everyone else anything decent so that you can keep that extra bit of cash in your pocket for whatever poison you prefer.

Welcome to what America is going to remain, bitches. When you lost yesterday, you lost the biggest game since 1964. And you lost because one of your very own conservative soul mates decided not to ruin American government and jump on the bandwagon to stupid town.

I love winning, and this is my victory lap. Lay down on the track so I can step over you and laugh.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Full Metal Wingnut

You read that correctly.

A man with training in the law of the land actually wrote that "we have to ask the question when do we turn that gun around and say no and resist."

Those are his own words, and his own thoughts, and, of course he cannot bring himself to actually get the words out there as he intended them. Matt Davis is no dummy. He knows he has to couch his violent, eliminationist rhetoric in such a way as to make his intention into a lame and cowardly rhetorical question that he can deny later on.

This is why I insist on pointing out that today's Supreme Court ruling means nothing to people who don't respect the rule of law unless a Republican is the beneficiary of the breaking of the law. When they think a Democrat is breaking the law, suddenly, they hew to the intent of the law as if it were something they, themselves created out of nothing.

For the rest of everyone's natural life, these people will fight to undo what was decided today because they refuse to live in a world where other people have a reasonable expectation to not be ruined and die needlessly if they happen to get sick.

Russell Brand Doesn't Translate Well

A good tag usually employs fewer words, but this one is worthy of mentioning.

Russell Brand had a good thing going in Britain. He made the mistake of thinking that what he does will be accepted in the United States. Aside from a few good performances, what Brand does best is talk about himself. He is his own best character.

So, how does he translate to the American audience? Rather poorly, I'm afraid, and I do like what he does. I like his manic energy and I can get what he's shooting for. But manic doesn't play well in America. Weird has to be harmless and almost sexless, and Brand is neither easy on himself nor is he asexual in any way.

However, FX is probably the best place for him. His show could work if he is allowed to be himself, to be relentlessly British, and to be honest. Since FX has not screwed up Louie, I would imagine they are going to avoid screwing up Brand X.

The Health Care Ruling Reveals the Wingnut Revulsion Towards Taxes

Well, that was quite a ruling, wasn't it?

You can feel the sighs of relief out there (and the gnashing of teeth can be heard as well). American history is one straight line--from the old ways of doing things to a more progressive way of life. Each and every time conservatives try to stop progress, there has to be a ruling or a decision made to allow the American people to continue rolling forward. We ebb and flow, forward and back, but the momentum is usually forward and almost always in the direction of more freedom, not less.

If you think having freedom means not having to worry that getting sick will ruin you financially and destroy your family's way of life, then you ended up a little freer today.

Buried in the ruling is the word tax. The use of the word tax is extremely telling, for this is how the new line of attack will probably form. Conservatives will call this a tax, will rail against it as a huge tax, and will use the word tax so many times, it will take on an ethereal meaning.

The conservatives will never stop trying to kill this legislation. They will never give up. They will use the tax angle to try to chip away at the fact that the government is now in the business of helping people get health care and keep their freedom. This is appropriate and just, and this is what we need in order to transform America into a much better society. When people can live their lives, free of the fear of being ruined by a simple illness, we are already on a common sense path towards a better way of life for all.

Ronald Reagan raised taxes numerous times. Taxes aren't nearly as bad as lying about what is, and what is not a tax. So, when the Chief Justice calls it a tax, that's his opinion. It is not a fact. The Supreme Court hands out opinions, not the truth.

Here's some truth for you--it's Constitutional, and everyone who is mad about that right now needs a hug.

When you're done hugging them, remember. The relentless assault on universal health care coverage continues. The fight to make the law permanent and unassailable is something progressives are going to have to fight for every single day for the rest of our natural lives.

We have to make this legislation and this system better, and we have to keep working at it in the face of an enemy that will never stop trying to ruin government of, by, and for the people because they hate government, they hate you, and they want you to die, sick and alone, because their world doesn't make sense when things go right for others.

Brad DeLong Buries Austerity

The move to austerity crippled Europe; I don't think there is a sane person who would argue otherwise. But, austerity in America has been a huge bust, and you have to champion those who called it for what it was--stupid, irresponsible, and utterly, utterly ruinous.

One quibble--when DeLong celebrates Larry Summers, I know he's praising him in the big picture sense. In the small picture, however, it was Summers who argued against using TARP funds to aid small businesses.

I would argue that America's problem, economically, stems from the fact that not enough was done, or is being done, to stimulate small business activity.

This is the sort of madness that true economists face.

How much faith would you put in that nonsense? And yet, I can guarantee you that far too many decision-makers follow the line of thinking espoused by Pethokoukis rather than Krugman, et al.

Getting Away With It

It would appear that Mr. Dotcom is going to get away with whatever it is he was doing. A number of people might call it online storage, but the theft of intellectual property is fairly profitable. Somewhere, a Federal prosecutor is wondering what it's going to look like when this case falls apart.

I guess no one wants to harsh the buzz of being able to steal other people's ideas and work.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Join the Army, Be a Roadie

These are Military Occupational Specialty modifiers or codes that are being floated under the new update and change to the job categories used in the United States Army. In the years ahead, these are the kinds of jobs that are going to be filled by skilled people, not just people who want a military career. As jobs dry up in America, these slots will become more and more competitive.

I especially like the one at the bottom, which, for all intents and purposes, should just be changed to "roadie."

Nine-Victor is very appropriate, though. Will the Army add vocalists? I believe that they will, eventually.

Science Always Wins in the End

There is a knee-slapper buried in this story. When they say that "Army Brass" interfered, what they mean to say is that "business as usual" took hold and science was given the old heave-ho. How many weapons systems and bases and active duty units are still around because of "business as usual" and not because of "common sense, needs of the Army, and basic facts?"

I am glad I never wore this particular uniform. This is what I wore, save for those two or three times they had us put on the desert camouflage variant.

While they are probably more comfortable than the summer-weight BDUs, being susceptible to enemy fire everywhere except in a gravel pit is not something you want to walk around in. I still think what you see above is perfectly fine for regular wear. No one knows where the next war is going to be fought; why not plan for a woodland battle somewhere on the Central European plain?

CNN and Fox News Are Not in the Same Business

I really hate it when people think there is some comparison between CNN and Fox News.

This pet peeve of mine stems from the fact that I remember what CNN used to be because I watched it in the mid-1980s and enjoyed what they did. I became a news junkie primarily because CNN was in the news business and did a great job of making the news interesting and worthwhile. It was never something that you would use exclusively; CNN and the networks and the newspapers and the magazines added up to a much richer variety of sources for news.

But CNN never got into the news business to present "liberal" news. That's a fallacy. CNN got into the news business because there were no 24-hour news channels on cable television. Fox News was created so that this myth about a "liberal" bias in news could continue to be spread around like manure. But, really, it was the idea of Rupert Murdoch to bring to the United States what he had been doing in the Australian and British media, and his idea was to spread his ideology through his businesses and ram conservatism down the throats of people. Even with all of that laid bare in the British hearings on his dealings, Americans are still unaware of how insidious this really is.

CNN is about information; Fox News is about advocacy. They are not in the same business. Putting the numbers up and trying to say that Fox News has a better business model is misleading. How much accuracy is in the information transmitted to the public by each network? If you're trying to compare news and talk programs to ideologically slanted programs, you're not comparing anything that is equal in scope.

It is not CNN's fault that the American people refuse to be informed. It's merely the end of their business model. As CNN goes, so goes the decline of the three network news programs that, somehow, cling to life.

MSNBC is certainly trying to compete with Fox News in the same business, but NBC is responsible for the fact that MSNBC has to compete with one hand and two legs tied behind its collective back. At the corporate level, Fox News is encouraged to show bias and lie to viewers. NBC, on the other hand, frets over the liberal content of MSNBC and censors them, heavily. Don't believe me? Ask Phil Donahue, Ashleigh Banfield, and Keith Olbermann what they think.

And, really, it all comes down to Olbermann. If CNN gave Olbermann an hour in prime time, and let him do what he does, he'd clean up in the demographics (Fox News has great ratings, but lousy demographics because they attract older, less affluent viewers).

Olbermann will never get that chance. The only "opinion" we allow in America to be broadcast, uncensored and with the full approval of corporate management is a conservative one. Liberal opinion is not allowed to flourish.

So, what can fix CNN? Well, if the American people were to suddenly become interested in actual information, that might help. But Americans don't want information. They want advocacy, entertainment, and nothing else.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Now That's Crazy

I'm not going to argue that pets don't comfort people. They certainly do. But what is at work here goes beyond common sense.

It would appear that Aubrey O'Day simply doesn't want to have her dogs shipped in their crates with the other animals that are shipped on the plane. To go out and get a doctor to sign off on something like this makes a mockery of mental health issues in our society.

There's a fine line between being a lazy pain in the ass and being actually crazy. Leave it to a reality television star to straddle that line in public.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The End of Democracy in Europe

Now, let's talk about democracy.

Greece just had elections.

Greece is trying to find a way to meet its obligations.

Several members of that new Greek government are incapacitated, thus forcing those within Greece to find new leaders and follow whatever procedures are in place to move forward. Greece cannot meet its obligations unless it follows the rule of law and finds a way to put the right people in places where decisions are going to be made. Greece is trying to apply a democratic solution here. That is not possible given that the position taken by those who control the fate of Greece will not allow any deviation from a path that is already laid out.

The way for Greece to meet those obligations is to negotiate within its borders and with the European governing bodies that are helping it.

If there is a political settlement here, it has to come from negotiation. With these new elections and with these new figures, there has to be some flexibility or else the voice of the Greek voter becomes drowned out by a process that is certainly not democratic. The process hasn't been voted on by anyone, but those making the decisions have just faced the voters.

However, the German position is, no more negotiations, and no more politics. No more democracy, in other words, no matter what the circumstances.

Democracy, then, does not exist in Europe. Certainly not if one country is dictating to another how to proceed.


I had completely forgotten about Wimbledon, what with the Queen's Jubilee and the Olympics this summer.

How daunting must it be to have to hold this tournament in the middle between these two events, and how difficult it must be to live in London and environs right now. Is it possible that this will make this year's tournament better, or worse? I have no idea.

Mitt Romney is Not One of Us

I shouldn't use DISQUS as my personal trolling site, but I just can't stop laughing at this idea that Mitt Romney is going to govern as a "republican" if he wins in November. He's proven, time and again, that no issue is worth defending. No position is worth holding if it means a political disadvantage, no matter how small.

He'll betray the conservative cause if it means a second term, or a favorable advantage, or a slight win, or a better view from his lofty perch. He is not a man of principle. He is a man of expediency and pragmatism.

Why can't anyone see that?

The Blurred Stairway

This is now, unofficially, the worst photo on the whole blog.


The obligatory photo blog rainbow.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Hate is Spread Far and Wide

I'm still not aware of any actual "gun control" that has been put into effect since whenever, but, damned if there aren't people who are terrified of something that isn't happening and are hell-bent on making money from something that no one is proposing to do.

Religious nuttery and far-right politics go hand in hand. And these people are going to vote for a moderate Mormon flip-flopper? I still cannot understand why anyone thinks Mitt Romney is going to automatically bring these people out to vote--unless, of course, he can run a campaign that whips up enough irrational hatred of the President.

I Love Getting Trolled by Donald Crispis

The pride of Perth, Australia. Apparently, some fellow names Donald Crispis likes to make all kinds of comments, often one after the other, unaware of this thing called comment moderation.

Note the url which brought him here, and then note the high level of discourse this individual is capable of. I have a feeling I am not the only person he has trolled today.

Donald Crispis, come on back and let's talk this through. I'm sure that you're a reasonable fellow in front of your boss at the place where you don't work very hard being mediocre.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Endless Speculation About Stonehenge Continues Unabated

There are so many theories about Stonehenge, it's a wonder it doesn't explain the theory of why one of your socks is always missing after you put your clothes in the dryer. Here is yet another attempt to achieve the impossible.

Does it matter to keep making these theories? I suppose that scientists will always look for new and exciting ways to restate the obvious. Stonehenge is a Neolithic monument that is actually part of a massive site called England. It is not one place; it is actually a part of a much larger series of circles and other monuments, many of which people ignore or do not understand.

The story of Stonehenge is lost. The Neolithics are gone. The stones remain. We will never discover anything approaching a "real" purpose. We can, however, embrace what is left and avoid having to control the story. Can't it be a fantastic place? Can't it just be a Neolithic space observatory? Why does it have to be about pottery and modern politics? Next you'll tell me that Stonehenge is where the celebrities went to mix it up with the commoners. Who were the paparazzi of 2675 B.C.?

The Neolithics had their own way of doing things. Unless someone figures out how to dig one of them up and conduct an interview in the lost language of their people, you can forget about "unlocking" the mystery of Stonehenge. We are never going to figure them out. They were as human as your or I, and they had a complexity that is universal to the human experience.

Why did they build it? Why not? And, oh by the way, why do you need that answer? Is that because you want to know, or does it serve the needs of people who want to put the ancients in their place?

If they can be made to appear as ignorant savages, then not knowing why they did what they did makes perfect sense.

What shocks me is that people do not know how "common" henges and things of that nature really are. Check out The Modern Antiquarian. Educate yourself. There is no better resource out there for coming to the conclusion that, hey, we're never going to figure it out so we might as well just enjoy what was left behind.

They worshipped the way the stars and the sun and the moon worked. They didn't hide behind a church hierarchy to keep people ignorant and in the dark. Their church was the world, and they aligned the stones and the mounds to calculate when the sun and the moon were going to be every day of the year. They understood the movement of the heavens and what it meant to them is never going to be understood by us.

Don't give money to people who cannot prove what Stonehenge really was. Rejoice in the complexity that is the human experience. Build your own version somewhere. Dedicate your life to the movement of the sun through the sky and change the landscape with piles of stones to help you track what's happening. Chant, dance, and sing when you think you have something that approximates an answer. Then, get back to me and tell me what you think. I can guarantee you--you'll know more than any "scientist" ever will.

Bruce Springsteen Doesn't Care About Chris Christie

There are about fifty or sixty things wrong here--wrong with this post, wrong with the idea that Bruce Springsteen, who is an artist, is supposed to kiss the ass of Chris Christie, who is a politician, but still.

I think what Jeffrey Goldberg does here is our modern day version of navel gazing. He is so wrapped up in the idea that a serious artist is supposed to care about a politician that he fails to understand that if that politician stands for, and runs against, and speaks against, virtually everything that the artist has spoken out about that it stands to reason that the artist is not going to want to socialize with the politician. Goldberg thinks that, at this elite level, that integrity doesn't count for anything. Well, if Christ Christie is trying to find a way to destroy the unions that represent teachers, then Bruce Springsteen might have a problem being associated with that sort of thing, especially since those are the "heroes" that Springsteen probably wants everyone to respect and emulate, rather than himself. I am not aware of any songs about teachers, politicians, or navel-gazing journalists that Springsteen has done, but there it is.

Goldberg begins and ends his fawning piece without realizing is that Springsteen creates music that comforts the afflicted, and afflicts the comfortable--something that we used to have when there was a working press in this country. Goldberg might explode if he discovered his own lack of self-awareness on that front.

He told me once that he accepts Springsteen’s “limousine liberal” politics the way a spouse accepts an annoying tic in her partner. “There is some of his work that is dour and down,” he says, “but the thing that attracted me to his music is how aspirational it is—aspirational to success, to fun, to being a better person, to figuring out how to make your life better—and you can’t say that about most people’s music. They become successful and then they become self-consumed and then boring and narcissistic.” 
He turns to Velez, who runs New Jersey’s hard-pressed social-services agencies. “Hey, you, you’re the commissioner of human services, this is for you, pay attention.” Velez, who grew up in a trailer park in the Meadowlands (and who is a holdover from the Corzine administration), says of Springsteen’s preoccupation with the poor: “I always find this part very inauthentic.” 
From the indifferent reaction of the crowd, not too many people understand, or care, what Springsteen is saying. Christie takes solace in this.
And Goldberg can't figure out why Springsteen doesn't want anything to do with Christie? Wow.

No Clemency For Jonathan Pollard

How does CNN allow this nonsense to appear? What a pack of lies.

Jonathan Pollard did irreparable harm to the interests and intelligence capabilities of the United States of America by passing classified material to Israel. He should never be granted clemency.

There is a cottage industry out there, trying to generate enough smoke to hide the facts--and the fact remains, Pollard burned a massive hole in the intelligence gathering capability of the United States. He deserves to spend the rest of his life right where he is today.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Virgin Airlines Leads the Way

There is almost no chance I'll be able to fly Virgin Airlines this summer, but, if I could, I certainly would.

But, then there are people who will say, oh, it's all a sham. Well, so what? At least they are trying.

Virgin Airlines Leads the Way

There is almost no chance I'll be able to fly Virgin Airlines this summer, but, if I could, I certainly would.

But, then there are people who will say, oh, it's all a sham. Well, so what? At least they are trying.

The Sky Overhead

This is what the sky looked like about twenty minutes ago.

I have applied no Photoshop trickery or witchcraft. This was the backend of a front that just rolled across Southern Germany, making it rain.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A Government Completely Off the Rails

America, your government at work.

No thinking person really thinks there is anything here for poor Congressman Darrell Issa to hang his hat on. If you go through the "evidence," it is plainly clear that this is a manufactured piece of phony outrage, keep alive through the machinations of a party of people for whom 2001-09 never happened.

I mean, honestly. Does Issa not realize that there actually is, thanks to the Bush Administration, a theory of the unitary executive and that, no matter what, "Fast and Furious" is a Bush-era scandal in the making?

Really. Honestly. Contempt of Congress? Please.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Alec Baldwin is Suffering From Pilates Rage

Alec Baldwin sure has lost a lot of weight, hasn't he? Well, if there's one lesson to be learned from this incident with the paparazzi, it is this: pilates rage is real.

I don't have a lot of science to back any of this up, but that has never held me back. I'm crawling through Season 5 of 30 Rock on DVD, and the episodes that aren't damaged by the rough handling of the library patrons show a Baldwin brother emeritus on the doughy side. And, let's face it--we're all a little on the doughy side.

Sometime last whenever because who the hell knows, Baldwin started to do pilates, which is an exercise regimen that builds the core muscles in your gut by working them relentlessly.

Baldwin himself has Tweeted that pilates has saved his life.

Well, I should say, it has "saved" him but it is not a specific enough Tweet to indicate his life, his marriage, his way of getting around in the world, or if it did, in fact, save him from having to go to a more expensive gym.

It is my considered opinion that these workouts turn a person into a clenched ball of rage.

You cannot discount the fact that the common ulcer tends to cause severe abdominal pain, and ulcers are caused by going around with clenched gut muscles and eating things that are full of acid. Stress contributes to ulcers, and sit-ups and holding a 30-centimeter inflated rubber ball between the legs in an upright position while screaming in pain can cause stress. Having to roll forward on a mat while someone in better shape than you howls in distress after expelling everything in their colon through a lycra garment in your general vicinity also causes stress. It is a logical fallacy, perhaps, but it does contain more logic than fallacy to conclude that pilates adds to stress in the period before the person doing pilates actually begins to see an improvement in their physical appearance.

In Baldwin's case, he is noticeably thinner, his hair is looking better, and he has a much more attractive mate these days. He probably has money and notoriety in amounts that are more pleasant to contemplate. But he stands to lose it all by punching photographers. He stands to end up in jail now because his bottled jar of screeching inner rage popped out like a sideboob full of intrigue at the wrong formal dinner party.

The only salvation he has is the pilates rage defense. He must claim that the endorphins and adrenaline running through his system have been sent into spasms of overdrive because of the intense pilates workouts that he has been thinking about doing over the course of the last few weeks. He must begin to lay the groundwork for the common law defense of "pilates rage."

"Road rage" came into vogue years ago, and has served as a useless legal defense precisely because no one could tie it to diet, weight, or exercise. A smart lawyer could succeed in setting a new precedence here if he or she could tie road rage to a parcel of junk science and get a useless judge to rule favorably. If "pilates rage" can be found to be real, and there's no common sense reason why is should, then celebrities might find it useful whenever they get caught on film turning out somebody's lights on a public street in front of, ahem, a courthouse.

Anyone with a law degree should be able to understand where I'm coming from.

Ed Helms is a Talented Fellow

This is what it looks like when a creative person finds a hot streak.

I have always liked Ed Helms, and I think he has a great deal of potential as a person who can make films and do television and not embarrass himself or become painful to watch. One of his best moments, anywhere, was when he punched the wall in (Season 3?) the offices of Dunder Mifflin and had to go seek anger management counseling. There was a sharp turn in the tone of the episode, and Helms uncorked a great deal of rage. His performance was spot-on, and Steve Carell found his inner thespian and responded accordingly. That was when I definitely knew that The Office was no throwaway, and I am glad they kept Helms.

But, really now. A film with Jennifer Aniston and Jason Sudeikis? How bad is that going to suck?

The Smart Money is On Tim Pawlenty

There are distinct advantages if Mitt Romney picks Tim Pawlenty to be his running mate. 

The main advantage? Pawlenty is not insane. How many prominent Republicans can you say that of at this juncture? The second advantage is that Pawlenty has executive experience in excess of four years, which is more than Chris Christie and four times as much as Sarah Palin. Third, he is a regular joe as compared to the wealthy members of the Republican establishment, and would help blunt criticism of Romney as being a wealthy, out of touch plutocrat.

Aside from the fact that he is dull as dishwater, there are no downsides to the choice of Pawlenty.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Stay Classy, Republicans

Yes, the joke certainly is on President Obama.
Inside, a fake birth certificate for Barack Hussein Obama made reference to the disproven controversy over the president’s origins. It was stamped “Bull—-.” A graffito advised “For a Good Time call 800-Michelle (crossed out), Hillary (crossed out) and Pelosi (circled in red.)”
Oh, and the thing comes with fake bullet holes. That was a really, really smart touch. Birther friendly, childish, sexist and tinged with the violent eliminationist rhetoric of the right wing.

Suck it, libtards.

Very classy, indeed. But, hey. Someone somewhere pointed out the fact that the Romneys claimed their dressage horse as a $77,000 tax loss, and that's unfair and shrill, so we're even.

CEO Pay Continues to Rise

There is a great deal of suffering in the United States, but none of it is being experienced at the top. The pay of CEOs, on average, rose 2 percent in 2010 and 5 percent in 2011. Despite the fact that tax rates are incredibly low on the wealthy, job creation is still muddled and troubled and the rich are getting richer. At what point do people begin to realize that the shakedown of the American people has entered a tenth calendar year and is shooting for an eleventh with no break in sight?

So, if we were to raise the tax rate on everyone who makes more than a half a million per year by six percent, we'd fall into revolution and anarchy, would we not?

It is patently unethical to continue in this manner. The wealthy in America enjoy a standard of living completely unheard of on Earth as it is in Heaven. The suffering at the bottom grows and the comfort of those at the top races into the stratosphere. And Mitt Romney could very well be the next President, guaranteeing four straight years of unrestrained corporate greed with zero accountability.


Saturday, June 16, 2012

Yes, You Are Fortunate

A very, very stirring sentiment.

What Happens When the Banks Are Empty?

Correct me if I am wrong, but, when the banks are empty of deposits, there really is no reason to consider them banks anymore, right? And, when that happens, the economies of Spain and Greece are going to collapse further, and whatever cash these poor people have hoarded is going to be worthless anyway, wouldn't you say? Because that is what is happening right now--in parts of Europe, people are taking their cash out of the banks. These would be the same banks everyone is trying to prop up.

So, what we have here is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you believe everything is failing, then your actions will contribute to that failure, especially if you no longer trust the institutions of the society in which you live.

Has anybody figured out what will happen when these countries tip into anarchy, revolution, and civil war? Or is everyone of the opinion that people are just going to sit around with no money, no jobs, no food, no homes and enjoy the summer weather?

About a hundred years ago, all of Europe fell into a massive war over far, far less than what is happening right now. Then, it was a misunderstanding among cousins and the death of some fat member of one of the royal families. Now, it is the story of millions and millions of people being asked to suffer needlessly for the sins of the elites.

The War on Women Continues Unabated

Today's modern Republican Party is obsessed with the controlling of ladyparts. In legislature after legislature, spread all throughout the land, the Republicans are hoping to control as much of the ladypart agenda as possible. They are even willing to go so far as to make people stop saying the words that actually describe ladyparts.

This poor lady serves with dunces and fools. Her entire caucus needs to take this issue to the extremes and shame every ounce of their opposition. If it shuts down the business of the state of Michigan, so be it. The Republicans are not going to stop until they have every woman in America wearing a corset, a chastity belt, and a gag.

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Return of Insult Comedy

Jack McBrayer and Triumph stop by a Chicago eatery. This is what insult comedy is all about--unrestrained glee and rapid fire shots to the gut. And McBrayer is genuinely funny and decent enough to make it work.


That Familiar Dot Matrix Printer Sound

This is the printer that prints prescription forms at my doctor's office--an Epson DotMatrix LQ-580. The forms that it prints are simply inserted in the top and they kick out at the bottom. My particular form was missing lines--a symptom, no doubt, of the fact that this particular printer is probably not much longer for this world.

Antiquated (really?) equipment has always interested me. What do you do with millions of perfectly good items that are simply old and clunky? Do you chuck something and upgrade as often as possible? You can still get printer cartridges, of course, and they're a mere ten dollars for a ribbon that gets reused until there is, literally, nothing left of it. Ten dollars! No wonder Epson would prefer it if you'd upgrade to a new printer that has a thumbnail-sized ink cartridge that costs fifty dollars a pop.

I upgrade printers and scanners, especially, since a lot of what I do requires scanning to be done on a regular basis. And so, for lack of space, a lot of perfectly good stuff gets donated, recycled, or thrown out.

What does a place like a doctor's office do? Can they get a modern printer that is compatible with their existing equipment? Do they have to now suffer through an expensive upgrade to get a modern printer when the LQ-580 finally ups and chokes and spits out a mangled form? Will a technician have to come for an expensive fee and configure everything (and, invariably, come back and re-do it every time the configuration is lost or corrupted?) to fit the new way of doing things?

The printer I saw was well-used and encrusted in the back with grime; the kind of grime that only accumulates through years of regular use. Let us not forget that this is a printer that is fully compatible with MS-Windows 3.1, which I last used in 1995 or thereabouts (no Windows 95 for the cruddy people I once worked for in Chanhassen, Minnesota). It still had that familiar mechanical ripping sound as it imprinted faded ink onto the paper. That is a sound that I will never forget since I once made good use of an Apple dot matrix printer back in the day.

We live in a world of planned obsolescence, but don't tell that to the people who need the damned printer to work.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Google vs Facebook Infographic

Well, there are some lessons here.

First of all, I tend to follow photographers and writers and artists on Google+. Women are well represented in those ranks. I do not get into the whole "resharing" of popular songs thing. There are Google+ users that do not engage; they share other posts or they share videos of songs they like. This really isn't engagement.

Second, Google+ is still in its infancy. A year ago, I wasn't on Google+. Now, I have over 3,800 followers and I've dropped Tumblr, Posterous, and, for all intents and purposes, Twitter.

It is too soon to beat the drum for the funeral march to begin; besides, sharing happens inside of circles. That sharing is not measured anywhere.

The Douchebags of Fox and Friends

There's a moment here where you realize that it is probably just a put-on, but if either Brian Kilmeade or Steve Doocy find themselves in the unemployment line tomorrow, then it will be evident that this sort of douchebaggery is not welcome at Fox.

I don't think Gretchen Carlson was that upset. I would be willing to wager that she has to deal with this sort of thing all the time.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Women Can and Will go to Ranger School and Do Just Fine

>>The Ranger ethos is designed to be deadly serious yet self-deprecating, focused entirely on teamwork and mission accomplishment. Rangers put the mission first, their unit and fellow soldiers next, and themselves last. The selfishness so rampant elsewhere in our society has never existed in the Ranger brotherhood.<<

Stephen Kilcullen could be used as an example of what a failed, selfish officer sometimes does when there's a war on--he "left" the Army in 2004. Who is he to lecture anyone about what women can do?

Why? Was he medically unfit? Was he unable to get promoted? We did he take eleven years of military experience and abandon his brothers in arms? Did he forget that there were sisters in arms in the units that he served in as well?

This man has no online biography. Does he have any credibility to go against the prevailing wishes of the senior ranks of the United States Army? I don't see where he does.

There are a number of Rangers who go to Ranger school and never spend a day in the 75th Ranger Regiment.

You are not a Ranger unless you serve in the Regiment. You can see how people like Kilcullen will leave that part out of their op-ed. A woman who goes to the Ranger Regiment, gets her Ranger tab (Ranger school is TRADOC, and TRADOC should be wide open anyway), and serves in the Regiment is going to be accorded a great deal of respect.

Those that do the school and refuse a chance to go to the Ranger Regiment are common enough already. They take the tab and leave Ranger school and don't take their experience to a unit where they can live the life and expand upon their skills. Ranger school is a great start--but you have to serve in a unit that actually does that sort of thing, day in, day out, in order to advance further and become proficient with those skills. The school assesses whether or not an individual can get to the proficient stage; the continuing education and experience is where that proficiency is honed.

Did Kilcullen get his tab and leave those offers to join a Ranger battalion behind? Was he even offered a slot? Just because a soldier gets their Ranger tab, it does not automatically make them anything other than a graduate. And graduates have been known to bail on their chance to go to an assignment where they can hone their skills.

So much for their dedication. For them, the tab means everything and actually serving in a Ranger unit is not a ticket they are willing to punch. So much for selflessness. Kilcullen punched that ticket and probably developed a fondness for waving it in the faces of anyone who wasn't wearing that tab. Perhaps he was gracious about it. His op-ed does not suggest too much in the way of grace. So much for teamwork, right?

If a woman can meet the physical rigors of Ranger school, and succeed as a member of the infantry, then we are a better, more well-protected nation for that. The history of the military is not about men who command men in battle so much as it is a history of having exceptional people rise through the ranks and persevere and succeed ahead of all others. You can be damned certain that the women who are on active duty right now are exceeding every expectation out there, up to and including the expectations of the senior leadership of the Army. Don't Ask, Don't Tell went away in large part because too many women with a great deal of professional expertise were being drummed out for being lesbians, and this was depleting the senior ranks of a number of potential generals and admirals.

There are females who are going to go to Ranger school and fail, and they'll fail alongside men. The few that will succeed alongside men are going to be those exceptional people who we can build a military around. Clap wildly and ignore the jealousy of those who are being passed up.

Insert any bias against "that group" for doing "this thing" in the military. Blacks becoming officers, women becoming pilots, and so on and so forth. There will always be a contingent that thinks there is a line "that group" cannot cross. Well, when the barriers come down, "that group" always exceeds the standards and a new normal is established. When women start earning Ranger tabs and leading infantry into battle, your new normal is going to make heads spin. Then, we're on to a new example of how "that group" can't do something they'll eventually end up doing.

Mr. Kilcullen can wish all he wants, but the daughters of those officers are going to keep changing the face of the military, and the only standard should be a willingness to sacrifice everything for the mission. Women are doing that right now, and have been for as long as they've had a chance to get in uniform and serve.

And at least they're not running out on their country in a time of war.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Keep Your Student Loans

I have to say, I cannot find anything here that I can agree with. The piece is well researched, but my life experiences are getting in the way of my coming to some sort of an understanding as to why going into debt is a motivator to finish college.

As a veteran finishing my degree with the wonderful assistance of the 21st Century GI Bill, I am allowed and encouraged to borrow thousands of dollars I do not need. These loans pop up and I decline them (subsidized and unsubsidized) because I have to apply for Federal Student Aid to be considered for a scholarship (which covers costs not covered by the GI Bill).

So, I'm borrowing nothing, paying for school, and I'll be done with my degree program in a few months. How am I contributing to the decline of Western Civilization by not going into debt?

Somewhere, there's a Republican who should be sending me some lovely parting gifts for doing all of this while not adding to our massive Federal deficits (oh, wait--I'm pulling in VA benefits--I really am destroying America, aren't I?)

My completion of my degree has nothing to do with debt, loans, grants, or otherwise; I'm completing my degree because I want it. If a person does not have the discipline or will to get their degree, they won't get their degree. Saying that someone who works long hours is setting themselves up for failure is counterintuitive because, to me, that sounds like they want their degree.

Oh, and pretty much the only reason why I get VA benefits is because I joined under the Student Loan Repayment Program, which wiped out the ill-considered loans I took while going to college twenty years ago. How's that for coming around full circle?

Anger Gets Things Done

One of the many, many failed wingnut bloggers has gone all-in against getting "angry" and getting things done:

Clearly, this is not a young man who has ever had to work hard for a living. Anger is a motivator; it gets the adrenaline pumping. Anger, in the hands of a reasonable person who knows how to function in society, is a motivator.

His followers must be shocked or confused; my hunch is that many of them are relieved. It's hard to sustain the belief that something is worth fighting for.

If you go to a museum here in Europe, you will see what several thousand years of anger looks like. Anger built the Roman Empire. Anger created towns, cities and villages--an anger born of the fact that "we will protect ourselves from all of you marauding assholes."

Anger built countless masterpieces of architecture which still stand today. Anger created society. Culture is the result of anger--as in, "I am angry that you cannot see the wonder in what we, as a people, mean in relation to what those jackasses on the other side of the river have going on."

Anger is what makes a person paint something for no money. Slopping paint on canvas is easy enough, but it is anger which drives talent and ability to the point where what appears on the canvas has depth, thought, meaning and context. Painting an apple sitting on a table is one thing; painting Judas and his kiss comes from passion, rage, inspiration and a place where anger finds a familiar home.

Anger is a force multiplier. America did not not crush the enemies of freedom and democracy without first getting pretty fucking angry. Ever seen a picture of Generals Patton, Sherman, or Washington where they weren't permanently suppressing the urge to scream at someone wearing the wrong brocade or stripe or shoe the wrong way? America's military leaders used anger to ensure that their goddamned troops were ready to kill the sons of bitches who opposed them, up to and including the ones who were already running from the battlefield in disgrace. Washington's reports to the Continental Congress were some of the angriest writings done by any of the founders. Sherman's destruction of white privilege and power in the deep south was the angriest thing ever done to a genteel sort of people who preferred sipping lemonade and watching their slaves bend over and do the work. Patton's anger may have gone too far at times, but that meant having to stop the troops before swinging up into the Red Army's flank and starting a whole new war just to sustain the righteous buzz of anger unleashed on the shores of Normandy.

Laying around and having a soft, soft buzz going never really did much of anything except dent a couch. Do you want some munchies to go with your me-time? Because you have to get angry with yourself to improve yourself. You have to get angry if you want to prove your coach wrong--and that means angry sessions of practice, coupled with soul-searching and self-correction. Anger motivates people to lose weight--anger at a world in which everything you eat is configured to poison you. Anger sends people to work every day in this country. Anger gets your ass out of bed in the morning.

And here we have a man who has done nothing but pound his pud in public decry anger? All because someone has decided to act like a jackass and go too far?

Good. Those of us who give a shit--and you have to be angry to care these days--have things to do.

As the old saying goes, lead, follow or get out of the way--because an angry version of Hell itself follows, son.

The Irrelevance of Don Imus

The 2012 Presidential Election is gearing up, and I suddenly remembered what it was that was missing.

Don Imus.

Of course, Imus is still where he...was. He's on...he's on...

Ah, yes. He's on Fox Business, whatever that still is. Or, more accurately, he's simulcasting from a Fox property and he's still on terrestrial radio, right? His website has no listing for a radio station in Washington D.C., Maryland or Virginia, but that cannot be correct. I have a hard time believing that he cannot be heard in Washington D.C. I just can't tell you which station still carries his show. There isn't one listed.

I do know that he's on WABC in New York City, and I would imagine that that is his flagship station. You cannot get Imus in a number of states, most notably, the blue state of Minnesota. You cannot get him in Texas (which I find absolutely to mean the end of his radio program sooner rather than later) or in Wisconsin, which just convulsed and gave us the top political story of the spring, but you can get him out of Omaha.

If Imus was on late at night, he'd still have a national AM radio audience, but, as it is, his relevance and his reach have faded considerably. Could he have ever been considered a national radio personality? Perhaps. But, he is certainly irrelevant now and sinking fast. By the time we come back around to do this in four years, there almost certainly won't be a Don Imus on the radio outside of New York City and a few affiliates.

At one time, the likes of Senator John McCain and a whole host of political power hitters would regularly appear on his show. Before he was fired by MSNBC, Imus was certainly relevant to national politics and he was able to make and break news. He has always been able to sell books--the one mainstay of his program was always the fact that if you had a political biography or a political book to sell, you had to punch the ticket and go sit for at least twenty minutes of abuse from Don Imus.

Now? Forget about it.

Did you know that Charles McCord left his show? I couldn't tell you when, but McCord announced his retirement over a year ago. Talk about a nothing story.

I realize that we're in June, and nothing is going on. But his guests lately are a reminder of how far he has fallen. Why he gives air time to the insanity that is Bo Dietl is difficult to fathom; I cannot tell you who Michael Riedel or Casey Anderson are without cheating and looking up their names.

If you check the programming schedule, this is not such a bad thing. Imus is now at his ranch. Perhaps, one day soon, he'll just say to hell with it and stay there. He might as well. The American political scene has moved on, grateful that they do not have to suffer through his mock humiliation anymore. He is irrelevant, and none of those people want anything to do with him ever again.

The marketplace has spoken, but Imus hasn't heard anything in a long time.