Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Michael Vlahos Gets a Lot of Things Wrong

Michael Vlahos has written a whopper of a poorly-reasoned article for The Atlantic, and there are numerous points that should be refuted.

Vlahos thinks that we should have encased the armies of World War I in body armor. This was not possible for a number of reasons. The main reason why was national pride; no nation mobilizing for war at that stage of human history was willing to admit that their troops were not "with" God. The collective naivete of the armies that were activated and sent to war in August, 1914 were all "chosen" to execute the national will. Encasing such men in body armor was not a choice for that and several other reasons. They did not know then what we know now, and no one expected their "modern" armies to use Medieval body armor. How absurd.

I think the best part of his article focuses on helmets. He is correct in his assertion that the helmets were, almost uniformly, terrible. However, during the Iraq War, the US Army discovered that the kevlar helmets in use--the supposed height of technological advancement--were inadequate when used to protect soldiers from Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). Special modifications had to be used to make the helmets safer, and this effort had to be funded by civilians. We were terrible then, and not so good now, in other words, but technology marches on.

World War I was fought, initially, with tactics gleaned from the Franco-Prussian war: large bodies of troops were expected to advance, wheel, and encircle other formations. These units were delivered to the front as quickly as humanly possible; troops were already forced to carry rations, ammunition, and their own shelter; wagons were brought behind the armies with other essentials. It would have been impossible for these units to travel as far as they were expected to travel with any extra weight. They were expected to march dozens of miles and then assault other formations.

This would not have been possible with heavily weighted infantrymen on soft ground; in Europe, there were rail lines but the road system was inadequate. Armies were thus organized around rail lines and the importance of using trains to move troops meant that as many men as possible had to be crammed into boxcars. What they carried, to pay tribute to Tim O'Brien, meant as much then as it does now. We have a vastly different delivery system for logistics and we have troops that are now much larger and more physically fit.

The vast majority of engagements in the early days of World War I were fought in wooded areas and where troops sunk into wet ground. Think of the muck of Ypres, for example. Think of the campaign through France and the geography that the armies faced. Many more men would have foundered in the mud or drowned near the great rivers where the battles were fought if they had been asked to maneuver in body armor.

Also, consider these issues.

One, the timetables of mobilization would not have worked with troops encumbered by body armor. They were equipped and marched and sent by train to the various fronts based on strict plans that did not accommodate "extras" or anything of that nature. The troops in the German Army were expected to defeat France in a set number of days. When the German battle plan was executed, men began falling out of the ranks with heart attacks and exhaustion. Despite the fact that the continent had spent decades "militarizing" itself, troops fell out of battle in droves because they were not prepared for the shock of continuous engagement with the enemy.

Two, it would have been impractical for men of the early 20th Century, who were shorter and thinner than we are now, to have worn battle armor and then engaged in a series of battles like the battle for France. They would not have been able to advance or move quickly enough and, because the early battles of the war were fought over open ground, the casualties would have been much higher because slower men would have been exposed to more fire. Attacks were generally "rushed" and used rudimentary tactics. Flanking movements were tried, and many of the men fought or traveled on horseback, making body armor a cruel thing for a horse to have to carry.

Three, artillery fire against massed groups of infantry was known to kill because of concussive effects. Body armor would not have saved any of the men whose internal organs were ruptured by artillery fire that never put a projectile into their bodies. Since many of the men wounded by fragments were wounded by artillery, and since many of these wounds resulted in sepsis, it is possible that body armor could have save some lives. However, it would have slowed men down and made them less responsive to incoming fire.

The gradual arming of troops in body armor throughout the rest of the 20th Century  meant finding a way to adopt the technology to modern standards. tactics were radically altered by World War II but, despite all the hype about "mobilized warfare," most troops were still expected to carry their gear and march long distances, making body armor impractical. Body armor has only thrived in situations where troops can be delivered to the battle in armored personnel carriers.

In point of fact, no one has wanted to go to war in body armor. Where much smaller and less fit men from Medieval times staggered under the weight of armor and breastplates, men in Vietnam, for example, staggered in the tropical heat in their flak jackets, often tossing them away. In the Iraq War, and in Afghanistan, troops often removed plates from their heavy flak vests and ended up being wounded.

Advances in battlefield medicine have saved untold numbers of lives; the quick evacuation of troops has saved more lives, in my opinion, than better body armor. Men in World War I died of things like infection much more quickly because of the soil composition of northern France, for example. They were ravaged by disease and by lice, and infections sent them to the rear almost as fast as the wounds suffered from futile attacks.

How would body armor have saved the men against lice? Against infection? Against the rotting of their feet in wet conditions? I guess I'm not understanding how it would have made that great of an impact.


One of the hottest bands in England right now are Temples, and I don't know anything about them. I do know that I will probably find a way to hear them one of these days. What with blogging, nostalgia, scanning, and work, it's a wonder I even found time to write about anything anymore.

These are some cool images, however. I love the fact that there are such radically different versions of their album.

Guns Are Never the Cause of People Being Killed by Guns

There is no mention in Mr. Forman's letter to the editor about how the gun lobby has, essentially, bought off the United States Senate. There is no mention of the millions that the gun lobby has spent thwarting the will of 90% of the American people. But, you know, video games, whatever.

Laws that would slow down access to guns by criminals and the mentally ill have been blocked because the gun lobby owns the Senate; the Senators who voted against this legislation are reeling because voters are turning on them. The thing is, people in Washington D.C. tend to stay bought up to a point, and that point occurs when the polls go south on them.

The problem is, video games really aren't to blame for anything:

Our "moral panic" is being driven by the fact that people keep getting shot. Why?

Could it be the fact that there are guns everywhere? Or that there are people who have learned to solve their problems with on another by reaching for a readily-available gun?

It couldn't be that, could it?

In Mr. Forman's world, his "gut" tells him the dirty liberals and their evil money men in Hollywood are ruining the country. This is what's happening while guns spill all over the place, out of waistbands, out of suitcases, out of drawers and into the hands of people who are pulling the triggers and killing one another, often by accident.

When people are dying because of accidental gun deaths, how on Earth could anyone argue that this is happening because of video games?

This is Going to Turn Out Just Fine

There are no downsides to making a pornographic film before you're even actually famous for doing something significant or otherwise, and this is because, you know, Kim Kardashian or something.

Plenty of people make a living, legitimately and proudly, in the adult film industry. What they do not need are "tourists" like Abraham.

Really, when this is over, I hope someone remembers to point out that going backdoor at the beginning of your career is not the strategy you want to use in the adult film industry.

Monday, April 29, 2013

David Frum Doesn't Understand What Drugs Are

When it comes to social commentary, you can safely ignore David Frum.

Here, he seizes on the background information that surrounds the documentary film Oxyana. This film deals with the misery surrounding the widespread abuse of Oxycontin in a small West Virginia town. Here's how David Frum views the issue:
Many people can experiment with drugs, then quit without excessive trouble. Some people can use drugs for years and remain more or less functional. But more of us - most of us - can't. I haven't seen Oxyana yet myself. But I'm looking forward to seeing somebody speak up for those who need their ability to "say no" to be supported by the law, not undermined by it.
First of all, there is a massive difference between recreational drugs and prescription drugs. In the case of Oceana, West Virginia, the difference couldn't be more stark--doctors and pharmacies and pharmaceutical companies have profited handsomely at the expense of the citizens who were handed Oxycontin prescriptions to help them deal with "pain." This is a case of for-profit exploitation, and a tragic one at that.

Second, Frum's assertion that people can experiment and use drugs for years and then quit is also a ridiculous statement--the difference here, again, is between recreational drugs and prescription drugs. There is a vast difference between someone who uses medical marijuana to manage pain and someone who uses Oxycontin. One is socially unacceptable and we cannot get a handle on it; the other creates painful addiction and dependency. Conservatives like Frum think that marijuana equals instant death and misery from drugs; anything distributed from a pharmacy for big bucks has to be safe to use. Their mindset is crippling the health care in this country. 

Third, he adopts the idea that the law is a crutch for people who can't say no, and this espouses the idea that people who are poor and weak get exactly what God intended for them when their lives derail. Opioids, and Oxycontin in particular, are dangerous, addictive substances. You cannot prescribe them to people and then just cut them off. The law is incapable of handing the social ramifications of legally putting people on an addictive substance that then requires them to break the law--and destroy their own lives--in order to keep getting that substance. 

Who should we jail? The victims of Oxycontin or the people who have made millions profiting from the misery it has created? If you're David Frum, you kick the druggies and the hippies and you write it all off to the fact that they're probably getting what they deserve anyway. Reality need not interfere when you're cherry-picking things that reinforce your belief in the superiority of those who haven't yet been prescribed the drugs that could destroy their lives. 

If someone were to put Frum on Oxycontin for a year and then not give him something to help him transition, I wonder how long it would take for him to visit Rush Limbaugh's doctor?

Sandra Day O'Connor Regrets Bush v. Gore

Why didn't Justice Sandra Day O'Connor find her courage to speak out a long time ago? Why didn't she make this part of her judicial legacy by standing up for the uncounted voters?

There is something that resonates in the conservative mindset--the voter is irrelevant, or liberal, or going to vote against conservative principles anyway, so why not disenfranchise them to allow conservatives to "protect" America's way of life? Why not bring "balance" to the equation by disregarding the proletariat and the plebes and the great unwashed?

The Supreme Court, in my lifetime, has been a disgraceful institution. Sandra Day O'Connor brought little if anything to the court to begin with; why bother to express regret now? Oh, that's right. The legacy of the Bush Administration has swamped the paper boats and she sees her legacy as being complicit in the establishment of one of history's greatest failures. You have to sympathize with anyone trying to run from that tidal wave of fail.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

You Cannot Stop Stupidity on the Internet

The correct answer to this question about how to correct people who spread hoaxes and things of that nature is this: you don't have to bother with idiots.

That's right. You're not responsible for idiocy and stupidity on the Internet.

It has always been there; go back to the late 1990s and look, if you can, at any message board or any chat room and there you will find trolls, idiots, stooges, and earnest folk. You will find unimaginable ignorance on a grand scale. You'll find howling crazies and people pretending to be masters of the dark art of knowing something about that which they could not possibly know anything about.

If you have a friend on Facebook who spreads around the hoaxes and the deliberately false things that people with an agenda push out there to make money off of--think of the people who run ads, constantly, about buying and investing in gold and silver--then, brother, unfriend that jerk and think about moving to a better social media platform.

Google+ is full of nutjobs. Last night, some clown tried to tell me that Benghazi happened after Obama had been in office for five years. President Obama hasn't even been in office for five years yet; that will happen on January 20, 2014. But this assclown's lack of math skills did not bother me. I just said "I win the thread" and let him spew invectives against me. Who has the time for such trash?

George Jones Will Soon Be Forgotten

There are a lot of polite things being said about the late George Jones, but, please. The greatest singer ever? The best there ever was? Hardly.

George Jones had great talent and ability, but much of that was thrown away. The vast majority of his career and his recorded output consists of treacly schlock and throwaway garbage. He recorded a staggering number of songs no one will ever hear and which no one will ever buy. He signed away his rights on terrible deals, abused drugs and alcohol like a champ, and leaves behind a few well-regarded phases of a career that was probably too long and too full of trash.

Johnny Cash was a polite man, and Johnny Cash loved George Jones. But it is Cash who leaves behind a career worth something, despite his own periods of creative decline.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Our Elites Refuse to be Criticized, Even by One of Their Own


How much fun are the American people having right now? The economy is stalled, there are no jobs, everyone's broke, and we're looking at a summer where more and more young people are going to be underemployed and looking at starting college in the fall with less and less of a reason to expect a job should they graduate.

Tom Brokaw, who never met a powerful person he couldn't defer to, dared to say something critical about the youngsters who aren't as good at their job as he once thought he was (and, really, Brokaw's legacy is that he never went toe-to-toe with anyone like Dan Rather did and that's gotta sting) and now they've enlisted the furious writers at Politico to continue to denigrate anyone who gets between them and the people they perform the lickspittle backflip in front of for points, not style. Who are these people? They're the incompetents who can't lead, can't write, can't analyze, and survive through their connections. They're the ones for whom merit is something the nobodies have to worry about. They're the clowns who think everyone laughs at them without being able to see their own makeup.

Here's the most asinine thing you're going to read today (unless you're reading a conservative blog):
“As a former White House Correspondent, it’s really nice for people in politics and media to come together and have a little weekend of fun,” MSNBC host Alex Wagner told POLITICO at a reception at the Hay Adams hotel. “I understand the idea of the ‘celebrification’ of the event but I think it’s more of a testament to how interesting and compelling Washington politics is to the outside world.”
It would be really nice if these people remembered that their mission once was to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. Jeebus, what a pant load of self-congratulatory nonsense that turned out to be. Shame on you, Miss Wagner.

Who's doing something about this?

Not the President, but I'm sure he'd like to.

Not the Congress, because the only thing that will move them to action is when their plane ride home is threatened or when someone who donates the maximum calls their office.

Not the business community, which is raking in profits, cutting workers, and moving money to whichever offshore account can be operated under the radar.

Not the press because they are too busy sucking up to power.

So, really. Have a night of fun and enjoy yourselves. Congratulate yourselves on the fine year you've had informing no one of anything useful. We'll manage out here in the desert. You don't even have to phone it in for the rest of the week.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Sarah Palin Has Gone Completely Out of Her Mind

You know Sarah Palin has gone crazy when she's linking her own "appearances" in public to those of the President, as if they were somehow "equals" in any kind of debate about how Americans live.

You know Sarah Palin has lost her marbles when she has started to repeat the "Planned Parenthood is the Devil" nonsense that didn't win very many Republicans elected office last year.

You know Sarah Palin is dumb as a box of rocks when she cites--get this--Jonah Goldberg as an authority on anything other than wearing a pantload of shame into the Waffle House.

You know Sarah Palin can't string two coherent thoughts together when "doctor" Gosnell is the living embodiment of why we need Planned Parenthood.

You know Sarah Palin is crackers when she thinks anyone cares what she thinks about unborn babies, knowing full well she's not exactly the mother of the year, or any year.

You know Sarah Palin is off her rocker when she cites the "pro-abortion centers" as if they, umm, actually existed. Because there is no such thing as a center that is pro-abortion in a way where they are excited to be performing abortions on women who legally ask for them.

You know Sarah Palin is a bag of nuts just because she was able to come up with two whole thick paragraphs about how indignant she is that the sitting President of the United States forgot to ask her for permission to appear in front of a group that takes care of women.

Why are we paying attention to this woman? Oh, that's right. She's crazy, and it's funny.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Spain's Lost Generation

I would urge everyone to begin following what is happening in Spain right now; this report from the BBC certainly helps with the underlying causes of what could be a massive wave of discontent and unrest in Spanish society.

For years, the Spanish government has been trying to get a handle on the nation's fiscal woes through tough austerity measures; this has crippled Spanish society and sent millions to join a multitude of unlucky people who are now virtually permanently unemployed. Spain is facing a crisis that could create a powderkeg situation; anyone and everyone who can leave is leaving the country to find work in other countries in the Eurozone. When I lived in Germany last year, it was not uncommon to meet people working in entry level positions who were from Spain (as well as Italy and wherever else there was a "crisis" of unemployment).

The Eurozone has a single currency but an aversion to allowing actual politics to solve the problems that are undermining the currency. Austerity is being forced on societies like Spain's and that is creating an impossible situation for the people who live there to continue to tolerate.

Of all of Europe's nations right now, I would say that Spain is the most restive, and a revolution or a change of government is certainly possible. Massive displays of public unrest there would not surprise me at all. Is anyone paying attention? Well, the Eurozone ministers are, and they're not going to bail out Spain's government. Austerity is all they have, and they're going to keep forcing it on people, even those who can't take another summer of it.

Aikman in 2016

Ladies and Gentleman, former professional quarterback Troy Aikman, attending the opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Library.

Aikman should declare himself a Republican and start raising money. If he were to pronounce nothing as to how he feels about the issues, and if he were somehow able to raise fifty million dollars by the end of the year, he'd have a lock on the nomination.

Today's Yukfest Brought to You by the Big Dog

 Our elites enjoy the company of each other, even when History's Greatest Monster (TM), James Earl Carter, is present.


A $250 Million Dollar Monument to Failure

The greatest failures in American history were the election and subsequent re-election of George W. Bush. No two decisions have ever hurt the American people more in terms of lost opportunities, the ruins of war, and the collapse of the American economy. Choosing Bush over Gore and Bush over Kerry meant ruin and failure and so, today, we see the first attempts at salvaging the careers of those who propped up Bush.

His administration was an abject failure. It destroyed American foreign policy achievements, wrecked our military, ruined our economy, and left us with debt, division, and misery. Bush was worse than Herbert Hoover and he was worse than any president ever, up to and including anyone who you can think of. No other president left us with such devastation. He was the plague, and people are still shaking it off, trying to get the sores and the bumps left behind to fade away.

The media are complicit in the selling of Bush as a decent man. That is irrelevant. He was an incompetent man, and being nice to the plebes and backslapping with the commoners is irrelevant in any meaningful discussion of his legacy, which is a legacy of shame and failure. They spent $250 million dollars building a monument to folly that the American people can visit any time they want. They might as well have built it on the deck of the Carnival Cruise ship Triumph, and I hope someone remembered the Mission Accomplished banner.

Seriously. Where's that banner and why doesn't it hang over the entrance to the Bush Presidential library?

Trying to salvage the Bush legacy is like pounding sand for the staffers and appointees. They know that their ties to Bush will likely cost them future earnings. They know that having a Bush 43 marker on their resume is like showing a conviction for a sex offense when trying to get a job protecting public safety. They know they have to rehabilitate Bush's legacy for him because, well, he has never cared what anyone thought of him. Bush's sole rationale for running for President stemmed from the fact that he wanted to be commissioner of baseball one day. If anyone wanted to take bets on that eventuality, I would refer them to the line in Vegas. Once Bud Selig is finally gone, I'm guessing Bush will take the job.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Since I don't know anything about Stephanie Cutter, I'll just say this--if you are trying to gain ratings and popularity, why would you put one of the most unsavory and detested men in American history on your network?

Newt Gingrich has been rejected by the very people who agree with him politically; he is the most rejected Republican Speaker of the House in recorded history. He is so hated by Republicans that it would be impossible for him to ever get more than one or two out of ten Americans to even tolerate his presence.

I mean, sure. Crossfire would be a show about watching Gingrich being humiliated in public. The problem is, no one can humiliate Gingrich because he is impossible to nail down on any issue. He will lie about his record, lie about what he has done, and lie about history in order to advance his own agenda. He is an inveterate liar and a hypocrite who cannot be held accountable for anything he has ever done because, in his mind, he didn't do it and if he did, it was the greatest thing ever.

CNN is rapidly becoming a severe and obvious joke. Why would you trust any network that paid money to have Newt Gingrich come in the air and say something?

Ancient DNA Reveals Europe's Dynamic Genetic History

Ancient DNA reveals Europe's dynamic genetic history

The story I've linked to above reminds me of my visit to the Celtic Museum in Hochdorf, Germany. You can see the diversity at that site, and you can see how ingenious they were, especially when it came to agriculture, technology, and paying tribute to their dead.

Did He Do It?

Talk about getting it wrong.

Given what has happened in the last week or so, someone should start questioning why the director of the FBI still has a job at this point.

A Culture War Against Contractors Who Don't Follow Instructions

This was an issue several years ago, and now it has popped up again because, well, we have to show America how the libruls are hating Jeebus and ruining our military.

The problem is, the contractor added something to a deliverable that made that an issue for the government. See how far you'll get by ignoring what the government tells you when you are on the hook for a massive, lucrative contract to deliver something as specific as a scope.

The military doesn't want to deal with the controversy; they want a scope that meets their specifications and doesn't "add" anything that will throw unwanted attention towards something they are paying a lot of money to acquire. The beauty of our military is that it is full of people from all walks of life, some of whom don't believe in God, and we accommodate them because our society is dedicated to protecting the rights of the minority.

People can make this about religion all they want, but it really does come down to making the government happy when they're spending huge amounts of money to get a product from a company. You either meet their standards or you go back to doing business in the private sector. It really is that simple.

This Did Not Happen

In light of everything that has been going on, some troll out there is going to be visited upon by a really, really pissed off Federal response. You see, there's this thing called the Internet and it has gotten to the point where it's impossible to know where the truth begins and where some sociopath ends.

Good luck to you, Mr. I'm Going to Hack the Associated Press and Have Some Lulz. When they are done finding you, you're going to need a very, very good lawyer.

There Will Be No Mercy

It simply would not matter if they found that Tamerlan Tsarnaev suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE); there will be no mercy or understanding for him or his surviving brother. And that's not entirely a bad thing because an outpouring of sympathy or empathy might encourage others to express their rage through terrorism. We don't need that as a society.

We do need to establish what the hell went wrong with their lives. That does not mean that there will be forgiveness. It means there will be accountability and information that will come from the tragedy. The doctors are quick to say that they don't "think" it played a role in Tsarnaev's decision to bomb the Boston Marathon. This is not because there is actual information in hand (something you'd think a doctor would want to have BEFORE making any kind of a pronouncement) but because they know they would be hounded for saying what they are saying.

Perhaps the anti-immigration crowd will come for blood and destroy these two men. It wouldn't change the fact that Tsarnaev's brain was turned to mush by being a boxer. And it won't change what happened. What I can't understand is, why wouldn't someone want to establish what could have caused this man to become radicalized and irrational?

Chickening Out Over Nothing

The "political tension" in the region is, in actuality, just the status quo. There has been an elevated amount of tension but a surprisingly calm response from the South Korean government. While these faint-hearted golfers stay home, thousands of Americans are in South Korea right now, braving the ridiculous rhetoric of a North Korean government that is run by a soon-to-be diabetic assclown.

American troops stand watch, ready to defend golfers from around the world. The courses on Kunsan and Osan Air Force Bases are surrounded by fighter planes, armed Airmen, and air defense equipment. There is even an NCO or two who can get a weapon out of an arms room and ride around in a golf cart, presumably when he gets the golf cart properly dispatched and when it isn't raining (for safety reasons, obviously).

The golf course on Camp Walker is near Taegu in the southern part of the country. It isn't fancy, but it is pleasant enough for Army officers. You can still visit driving ranges on a number of Army posts and they don't cost much.

Despite this, and despite the fact that there are American military dependents still in South Korea, these poor golfers still won't come to South Korea and play. They are probably much safer there than anywhere in the Southern United States, but try explaining that to anyone who doesn't live where there are attack helicopters and steadfast Airmen ready to defend the golf courses of the finest military in the world.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Reese Witherspoon's Drunken Antics

Reese Witherspoon is the new mother of the year, apparently. Whether she had her child or children with her in the car when she was with a drunken driver is irrelevant--she was drunk herself. And she's more than willing to say, to a police officer, "do you know my name?"

As soon as you do that, it's over. The cops don't care and no one else cares.

I wonder if Al Michaels tried to pull the biography card on the cops when he was busted this weekend?

UPDATED, with the mug shot.

What Has Gotten Into Al Michaels?

This is somewhat shocking on a few different levels. First, this is 2013 and this is not how we expect sports broadcasters who aren't named Pat O'Brien to behave. Second, it reminds me of the warts-and-all life of Pat Summerall, who passed away last week.

What is a man of Al Michael's age and position doing getting caught driving drunk? What's the real story here?

The New York Post is a Shameless Disgrace of a Media Organization

One of the good things that could come out of the bombing of the Boston Marathon is a comprehensive evaluation of how the media botched and bungled everything that was in front of them. The American people were left uninformed, misled, and chasing after the wrong suspects.

For the people of Boston, this was like being run over after being driven off the road. The public interest was not served by anything that the New York Post did to cover this story. A community was left gripped in fear largely because the people who were responsible for disseminating critical information acted like THEY WERE THE STORY by bragging about their own "scoops" which turned out to be wrong. Lives were upended and infamy was rained down upon the innocent simply because the New York Post, in a rush to be first, identified the wrong suspects. Repeatedly.

It cannot be stressed enough--this is one of those times when, Thank God, the media didn't get anyone killed by being grossly incompetent.

The New York Post was, in my opinion, the worst offender by a country mile. This is the newspaper that ruined several lives and got the biggest story wrong; it identified the wrong suspects, put their photos out there, and, given the violence that was visited upon the community, could have gotten two innocent men killed. Or it could have gotten anyone who even looked like the innocent men killed as well.

Rupert Murdoch has nothing to defend here. The New York Post should be left bankrupt by the decisions of a civil court and, in true Murdoch newspaper fashion, it should be shut down and abandoned in shame.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Gwyneth Paltrow Needs a Better Publicist

The days of Gwyneth Paltrow being able to pass herself off as normal and "one of us" are over. She needs to fire whoever is doing her publicity and find a way to stop being one of the most hated celebrities in Hollywood. Going away for a while would help.

Why would you allow stories like this to be dumped out onto the wire? Why would you court disaster by talking about how you once had to shave your head years ago? Wouldn't it be a better strategy to simply be nice to people and hope no one notices that you're in one of the biggest movies of the summer so that they can be impressed with how well you handled your part?

Friday, April 19, 2013

Celebrate a Return to Normalcy in Boston

No American city should ever live in fear.

What the people of Boston have been through this past week is difficult to put into words. Fear, and what it can do to people, has taken center stage.

Let's hope that fear leaves Boston for good and that some justice and some sort of closure can come out of what happened there. The shattered lives of so many people deserve more than what they normally get in this country--platitudes and nothing much from their elected leaders, empty promises from people who claim to know what's best, and indifference from an easily distracted population.

What's promising though is that there were people who ran to help, who helped the police find the people who did this, and there have been people giving money to help the victims. We should celebrate the good in people, the good in belonging to a community, and the return to normalcy that Boston has earned.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Some People Have a Curious Notion of Who Jesus Really Was

I'm starting to think that the only time people remember Jesus and his teachings occurs when it is time to make other people knuckle under and suffer.

Abstinence and chastity are fine concepts, but this is the 21st Century and flogging oneself with leather and wire isn't really doable in the age of the iPad.

Time to Shutter the New York Post

Those are the actual suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing. Earlier, the New York Post told everyone it was these two guys:

At some point, the closure of the New York Post will have to happen because the lawsuits being filed, as we speak, will drain it of whatever value it has left.

You can't shit the bed like this and survive. I refuse to believe that the people who have been defamed by the New York Post are going to walk away empty-handed. Some how, this news organization has to be held accountable for such a glaringly obvious demonstration of incompetence.

XX is Dead at Age XX

Whoever let this hit the wire is a nincompoop.

Are These The Guys? Can You Trust the New York Post?

This is what is being circulated by the New York Post. No one will confirm if these are, in fact, the suspects wanted for questioning in Boston.

If the New York Post is wrong, no one should ever trust that news outlet again.

UPDATE: Max Read at Gawker says nope:

"BAG MEN," the New York Post's front cover brays this morning, underneath a photo of two Boston Marathon spectators. "Feds seek these two pictured at Boston Marathon." After its embarrassing performance on Monday in the aftermath of the marathon bombings, has the Post redeemed itself by scooping the first, much-discussed photos of the suspects? 
No. As CBS' John Miller reports, neither man is likely to be a suspect in the bombings, and these are not the pictures of the possible suspects that authorities plan on releasing. But I didn't need John Miller to tell me that— the "persons of interest" in the photos are two local kids who had already been checked out by Reddit and other message-board "crowd-sleuthing" efforts yesterday, and found to be a incredibly unlikely suspects. 
As we documented yesterday, the a large and active community of amateur detectives, dedicated to the close examination of photographs of the scene, emerged on the link-sharing site Reddit (and elsewhere) in the aftermath of Monday's bombing. Their efforts were going about as well as you might imagine, which is to say, not very well—lots of MS-Paint circles and lots of near-baseless speculation. 
But thanks to their ability to do really basic internet detective work, they managed to figure out pretty quickly that the guy in the blue track jacket almost certainly isn't a bomber. All they had to do was find his Facebook. I was able to do it pretty quickly: He's a Moroccan-American kid, a local high-school soccer player and track runner (possibly he and his friend's track outfits could have been a tipoff that they were actually interested in the race?) who works at Subway and likes How High and The Hunger Games.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Abstract Number One April 2013

A blinding swirl, and a new discovery--paint with glitter in it.

Yes, I said, "paint with glitter in it."

Why this wasn't invented a million years ago, I don't know. I love the stuff.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Roger Waters is Going to Think About It

If this were anyone but Roger Waters, I would suspect that this is about money. In his case, I don't think it is about money. I think that Waters wants to be on the correct side of the issue. He has more money than God, he's been touring for years, and he doesn't need the money.

Now, having said that, should he boycott playing in Israel? Absolutely. If you believe in human rights, then what the Israeli government is doing to the Palestinian Arabs who live in Israel proper is not right. Israel has long been the victim of aggression and terrorism, however. So, you have to weigh those two things. Ultimately, staying out of that region is a healthy way to express displeasure with the logjam of diplomacy that prevents anyone from getting anywhere with the peace process.

Really, though. It's nothing to do with music. It's about who you want to play in front of, and Waters is thinking very seriously about who he plays for.

Why Won't Anyone Think of the Markets?

Whoever told poor Patti Domm to write this article--or, better yet, whoever failed to throw it in the trash before it hit the website--should be fired.

CNBC is all about the markets, national tragedies be damned.

Here's the answer to a question no one has been asking--who gives a shit what Wall Street thinks of what happened in Boston?


In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing, there was an outpouring of help.

For everyone you see on the ground, there is someone coming to help. There are two or three people coming to help. In moments, these people would be picked up, dragged, carried, wheeled or moved to a better, safer place.

Help is what you get when you have a society where people give a shit about other people. I don't mean to make this utterly crude, but if you have lived your life until now smirking about the misfortunes of others and railing against things like pensions for public employees, welfare for the poor, and Social Security for the old, then I don't think you're going to really, fully understand what it means to give a shit about other people.

Help is something that we take for granted unless we really need it and it isn't there. In the city of Boston, there are thousands of people who work as police, fire, and emergency workers. They work in hospitals and clinics and they volunteer for events like the Boston Marathon. In order to do these things, you don't have to be a saint but you kinda have to give a shit about other people. You have to belong to the community, not just sit on your fat ass and suck the life out of it.

When I heard the coverage, I remember hearing a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan talk about how the horrors of those places had been brought to this country. The things that this veteran smelled, heard, and felt reminded him of being overseas in a war zone, and yet, he was in Boston, Massachusetts. If that doesn't serve as a wake up call for people to try to start giving a shit about how what we do overseas can visit us here in this country, I don't know what will.

We are told that we go to war overseas to keep us safe at home; that's sometimes right but it is also true that we sometimes go to war just because we give a shit about people in other countries. Well, in some cases, we get lied into a war and we end up wrecking things with good intentions. That does not mean that the people we send to do those things are to blame.

Have we brought our foreign wars home? I hope to hell not. More than a few people noticed that bombs kill people in Baghdad almost all the time. Their lives aren't worth any less than the lives of our fellow Americans. Are there people there who run to help? I hope so. Without those people, our collective idea of society crumbles into ruin. In Iraq, the people who do the bombings are dedicated to the idea of destroying their own country from within. Whoever did this in Boston has either decided to do just that or they're here to bring America's wars home to the American people. Either way, what does that matter to the victims?

Look at them in the picture above. They are stunned and frightened, even as people run to help. What could possibly justify anything they went through today?

Why are we even talking about who did this when we should be screaming about why anyone would ever do anything remotely like this? What could any of this mean when meaningless violence is right there, staring at us in the face? What could anyone do in the aftermath besides help? No one's running to safety; no one is pointing a figure at a possible culprit.

They're helping. That's what matters to the victims. They don't care about anything other than being helped.

In the days ahead, someone's going to make political hay out of this. I don't care who they are--they're going to say something that will be blog worthy. Good for them--I hope they get their moment in the sun. I hope they make people uncomfortable and I hope the money flows into their re-election coffers. I'm positive about people, cynical about politicians, and neutral on who we can blame for screwing up the world.

The bottom line is, we should be highly skeptical of the people who start wars and maintain wars overseas who want to take away our freedoms just to "keep us safe." There isn't anything anyone can do to keep us safe from madmen with guns and bombs. Anyone who wants to give their life doing something insane to hurt others is going to do whatever they can and no amount of legislation is going to stop them.

What they will never stop are the people who rush in to help in the aftermath of such things. When I look at what happened in Boston, I think about the people who helped. They gave a shit today. The people who looked to blame others or demonize American citizens and who, up to now, have never done a single solitary thing to help anyone but themselves should shut up and be thankful that it wasn't them laying on the ground with ball bearings blown into their legs.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Hagel Drops Medal for Drone Operators

Hagel drops controversial medal for drone operators

Back in March, the medal was halted, pending a review. The results are in, and the Nintendo Medal for Valor has been dropped like a hot potato.

Think of this as part of Leon Panetta's embarrassing tenure in the Obama Administration, which was as big of a mistake as keeping General David Petraeus around.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Suddenly Everyone is a Medical Professional

If there is widespread abuse of Adderall, then take it off the market.

Whatever Lindsay Lohan is into, and it probably isn't good, it doesn't really matter what the opinion is of Adderall when her problems run deeper than a prescription drug. It's a matter of where she is at mentally and physically, and Adderall might actually be helping her with a real case of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

The problem is, Adderall is not what anyone should be giving to children; it's an adult drug and Lohan is an adult. If her doctor has her on it, then who should be second guessing that diagnosis--a rehabilitation center or TMZ?

Glee: 'Tasteless’ or ’brilliant’?

’Glee’ school shooting episode: ’Tasteless’ or ’brilliant’? Fans weigh in

Irrelevant is my take on it.

I have never seen Glee as anything other than a television show too enamored with itself to ever matter.

Are Arizona’s National Forests Worth Destroying?

(Credit: Photo by Tom Vezo/Save the Scenic Santa Ritas via Earth Island Journal)

Are Arizona’s national forests worth destroying?

This is insane.

We used to have an environmental movement in this country. Now, with a Democratic President, the criticism of this administration on environmental matters has ground to a halt. Five years ago, this would have galvanized people. Now, it's buried in the papers and ignored.

The Obama Administration needs to stop this, and if they don't, they're wrong. What the hell happened to the idea that destroying a national forest was an automatic, no-brainer answer in the emphatic negative? You don't destroy national forests. Period. End of story.

You Cannot Ban People From Exposing Terrible Things

Since when does someone breaking the law get to claim that their privacy has been violated? I don't get that at all.

Utah and Iowa, according to the latest news, have banned people from making undercover or surreptitious recordings of the terrible conditions animals are being held in, as well as slaughterhouse practices and things of that nature. No one's privacy needs protection--what needs protecting are the animals. What a pant load all of this is.

Exposing cruelty is an essential First Amendment right. Laws that restrict this free speech should be struck down quickly and efficiently, and this need not go all the way to the horrible Supreme Court of the United States. I would hate to hear Antonin Scalia expounding on how recording animal cruelty is an illegal activity; I'm sure he would sound like an utter jackass with no grounding in the law, as per usual.

No wonder the rest of the world is confused by the direction of America. We have pretended to be about free speech while ensuring that corporations are equal to people and while criminalizing the exposure of animal cruelty.

Another Win for Gun Dealers in America

This is absolutely the case in America--when there's a high-profile shooting of almost any kind, gun dealers reap the rewards. They benefit from the fear that the government is going to regulate guns in a smarter way because there is an undercurrent of fear and paranoia around guns that will always exist so long as lobbying groups are able to lie about the government and gun laws.

The gun lobby has constructed a victory that rests on a foundation of dead bodies. Gun violence claims so many lives, no one can fully keep track of how many people actually die every day from accidents, suicides, mistakes, robberies, and intentional homicides. The proliferation of cheap handguns has transformed American society in ways we don't fully comprehend--it does not make for a politer society, it makes for a society where random gun violence is normal in urban areas. And yet, people in rural areas continue to stock up on guns and ammunition, fearful that they will be cut off.

How about a $25 tax on every box of ammunition? How about a $50 tax on every handgun being sold today? Would that help? No, of course not--people would still buy the ammo and the weapons, and they would line the coffers of the same government that cannot sensibly regulate a dangerous product. Guns are merely a consumer product that is not properly regulated in this society. Legal? Sure. But properly regulated and controlled as a dangerous item? Of course not.

That would take a courage we don't see from the people who purport to lead America. They are addicted to campaign contributions, and this money is soaked in blood.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Jonathan Winters 1925-2013

Would You Take Foreign Policy Advice From This Man?

I find it hard to believe that anyone would listen to Dick Cheney talk about foreign policy:
...the former vice president’s assessment was indeed concise: “We’re in deep doo-doo.” 
That may be the kind of technical jargon he mastered during years of running the Pentagon, but I think we kinda know what he means. 
How to get out of the doo-doo? Well, that’s a whole other question.
Bush’s father was the first public figure associated with the phrase, so it’s nice to see it’s still getting traction decades later.
This might be somewhat unfair to Cheney. CNN reported Cheney’s stark assessment on Kim Jong-un’s recent saber rattling, citing an unnamed aide. Cheney is also reported to have said that the United States has little intel on the situation in the secretive communist country, and so “you never know what they’re thinking.” 
It’s hard to argue with either conclusion. It’s a lot easier to invade a country that doesn’t have weapons of mass destruction, despite Cheney’s claims to the contrary a decade ago, than one that is actually developing nuclear weapons.
That's Howard Kurtz paying homage to the idea that Cheney knows what he is talking about when it comes to dealing with foreign regimes that threaten the stability of the region in which they are located.

When you parse the favorability granted by Kurtz towards the idea that Cheney is talking like an insider and like a foreign policy expert, you come away with the idea that Kurtz clearly wants Cheney back in charge of things. He clearly wants that savvy and that expertise to guide us back into a disastrous war of choice in an Asian country. They used to say that you should never fight a land war in Asia. Bush and Cheney started two of them, finished neither of them, and wanted to start three or four more. That's your expert? That's your daddy figure?

Cheney's analysis of North Korea is useless. It was him and John Bolton who spearheaded the insane policies towards North Korea during the Bush Administration years, and it led to the acquisition of nuclear weapons. They did nothing to stop this and they were disengaged and refused to use basic diplomacy. What a record.

Kurtz cannot acknowledge the failure of Dick Cheney to positively or competently guide any aspect of American foreign policy. He cannot apply a basic standard towards Cheney and dismiss anything he says based on his actual record. When you look at the failures associated with Cheney, a rational person would conclude that no one should seek his counsel on anything other than bankrupting the country and ruining the military.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

This Is How You Become an Ex-Marine

One of the things that bothers me about the media is their almost willful ignorance of all things military-related. There are no ex-Marines. Once a Marine, always a Marine. Once you become a Marine, you may leave active duty; you may retire. You do not stop being a Marine unless you disgrace yourself beyond a reasonable doubt. And yet, every time you see an article about someone who used to be on active duty, they are called an "ex-Marine." This is a term that should be banned from use. Well, it should only be used when you have examples of someone who has, by way of their conduct, lost the right to proudly call themselves a Marine.

This young man is well on his way to becoming a disgrace:
A former Marine has been arrested in the beating of two men outside a popular gay bar in Southern California last year and will face hate-crime charges for using anti-gay slurs during the attack, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office said Thursday.
John Kelly O'Leary, 21, was arrested Monday by police in Evergreen Park, Ill., Deputy District Attorney Gretchen Ford of the hate crimes unit said in a statement. O'Leary was discharged from the Marines on Oct. 19, according to the Press-Telegram of Long Beach, which first reported the charges. He will be extradited from Illinois to California to face the charges.
O'Leary and a group of friends, including other Marines, went to the Silver Fox bar in Long Beach, Calif. in the early morning hours of Sept. 3, 2012. O'Leary was accused of shouting anti-gay slurs outside the bar at closing time, which triggered the hate crime charge, said Jane Robison, a spokeswoman for the district attorney's office.
It would be fair to say that associating him with the Marine Corps is wrong at this point. He is not behaving like a member of the military. He is some other kind of a piece of work--a homophobic moron who wants to live out his young life based on violence and hate. 

What people don't understand is that the military is going to integrate gays and lesbians long before the rest of society accomplishes this task, and they'll kick people out if they have to do so. Whatever it was that kept John Kelly O'Leary from re-enlisting in the Marines is not mentioned in the article. Clearly, he didn't learn anything while in the service.

The Vikings Were Here First

The image you see above is important because it demonstrates that history has been wrong for far too long. The Vikings were the first Europeans to discover North America, and they were far more sophisticated and learned than we give them credit for:
(a) The wooden disc fragment (found in southern Greenland) onto which the Viking navigators scratched some hyperbolic curves [1]. (b) The reconstructed sundial used by the Vikings for navigation on the open sea. The left, gray part of the disc has not been found. (c) Three-dimensional drawing of the Viking sundial with a conical vertical gnomon and its shadow, the endpoint of which touches the hyperbola scratched into the horizontal wooden disc. (d) Sky-polarimetric navigation by Vikings can only function if the direction of skylight polarization (symbolized by double-headed arrows) is perpendicular to the plane of scattering (determined by the sun, the observer and the celestial point observed).
The ability of the Vikings to cross the North Atlantic in small boats is not in dispute; what is in dispute is this whole business of Columbus Day. It is the one American holiday that I wish would be discontinued. Christopher Columbus didn't discover anything even remotely "American" and the Vikings were here long before any other Europeans. If they were settled in Greenland in the 10th Century, why wouldn't they have explored further? 

Their ability to navigate the Atlantic allowed for them to explore vast areas of the North American continent. And yet, no one wants to fully acknowledge this because, well, the Vikings didn't write American history, did they?

Patti Smith Meets the New Pope

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This matters because Brian Williams missed the juxtaposition of it all. Back in the 1970s, Patti Smith appeared on Saturday Night Live and sang, on Easter Sunday (after midnight), that Jesus did not die for her sins. Now, she's visiting the Pope in Rome, and it's all good.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

When Horrible People Refuse to Go Away

Anthony Weiner won't go away:
One day in early February, I met Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin for breakfast at the Gramercy Park Hotel, one of their regular joints, just a few blocks from their apartment on Park Avenue South. The first thing Weiner said when I sat down was that their 13-month-old son, Jordan, had just moments ago taken his first step. They were both giddy, kvelling with baby-pride, especially Weiner, who, with all his free time, has become his son’s primary caretaker. This is what life is like now for the man whose name is invariably followed in print by some version of “the disgraced former congressman who sent out a lewd picture of himself via Twitter.” He seems to spend much of his time within a five-block radius of his apartment: going to the park with Jordan; picking up his wife’s dry cleaning and doing the grocery shopping; eating at his brother Jason’s two restaurants in the neighborhood. This is what happens after a scandal: Ranks are closed and the world shrinks to a tiny dot. It is a life in retreat. And for a man who was known, pre-scandal, for his overweening ambition, his constant presence on cable news, his hard-charging schedule that verged on lunacy, well, it has been quite a change.

Yes, they are a loving couple with a child--that means he should now be mayor of New York City? Please.

This is a horrible piece of journalism, right down to the far-too-wordy first paragraph and the blind insertion of the writer, Jonathan Van Meter, into the piece right from the beginning. Yes, it's a feature story for the "magazine" section but, really, it's a political piece designed to make Weiner palatable for higher office once again.

Decency and manners mean nothing to people like Weiner. He should find a nice job in the private sector and make a good living. He has given up his right to serve the public because he demonstrated that he had absolutely poor judgment and poor character. Lying about sex isn't the issue; using social media to insert himself, and his nakedness, into the lives of others demonstrated his inability to separate his private life from his public life as a sitting member of Congress.

He exposed himself to blackmail, first and foremost, and because he was a sitting member of the House Intelligence Committee and held a high security clearance, he could have been blackmailed into damaging the safety and security of this country.

As mayor of New York City, Weiner would receive intelligence materials and briefings with classified material, albeit of the kind that would be sanitized in ways to make it more confidential than secret. But the larger issue here is that Weiner has already demonstrated that he lacks the judgment to have access to such material.

He should be forgiven, obviously, but he should not be given access to classified information. It really is that simple. He is an ego-driven deviant who refuses to go away. In and of itself, that should have been the focus of this fluff piece rather than how he is a doting father with a wife whose own self-esteem precluded her from leaving him. Clearly, he wanted sex with all of those other women in order to fill a hole in himself no one else could, and now he wants power again?

If New Yorkers give it to him, they're the ones who will be wishing they hadn't.

How Ignorant Do You Think We Are?

Sue Paterno can talk all she wants, but it isn't going to change the fact that no one believes that she and her husband, Joe Paterno, were that stupid. You mean you want everyone to believe that a couple of Catholics living in this day and age didn't know about child predators? Please.

They didn't want to see what Jerry Sandusky was doing. They wanted to remain as ignorant as possible so that they could get away with doing nothing about him. They wanted to sweep it under the rug and live out their lives untainted so that they could bask in glory and adulation.

When you help a child rapist "groom" his victims you are culpable for what happened to them. How smart was it for her to make such an admission? The lawyers for the victims of Jerry Sandusky should be looking at the millions Joe Pa left behind.