Society

You Can't Fight City Hall

People like to think they can make a difference:

Human
waste dumped

A bag of human waste was reported dumped at 2:50 p.m. Monday at Albert Lea City Hall. The incident reportedly happened shortly before 10 a.m.

I don't want to make a wild guess, but I think it was someone who is unhappy with the current direction of the city as a whole and probably not someone who set down their bag of human waste and forgot it.

They Are Full of Crap in Utah

Utah has declared war on pornography at just the right time for Ted Cruz to speak up and say something that will make everyone sick to their stomach. Just how much of a "public health crisis" is pornography? Not so damned much.

Biological examinations of so-called “porn addiction” have generally been fruitless. A2015 neuroscience study published in Biological Psychology found that electrical activity in the brains of people who felt their porn usage was problematic looked nothing like the patterns found in the brains of actual addicts. That didn’t stop the Utah state legislature from declaring that “recent research indicates that pornography is potentially biologically addictive.”

Why might someone believe in “porn addiction” without supporting evidence? Recentresearch in the Archives of Sexual Behavior has shown that “religiosity is robustly predictive of perceived [pornography] addiction.” This perception of addiction is unrelated to actual use. In other words, a religious person who watches pornography once a week is probably more likely to consider himself “addicted” than an atheist who indulges every night.

Relevant here is the fact that most Utah state legislators are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and that one of the most frequently cited figures in anti-porn pseudoscience is Donald Hilton, a Mormon neurosurgeon. The Mormon Church itself has endorsed the concepts of “sexual addiction” and “porn addiction,” treating them under a 12-step model in its Addiction Recovery Program.

It does take a great deal of faith to believe many of the other unscientific claims in SCR9.

For instance, the resolution contends that pornography “can impact brain development.” This claim might appear credible based on a 2014 study that found an association between porn use and gray matter volume in one region of the brain but even the authors of the study note that the relationship may not be causal. The decreased gray matter volume, the authors acknowledge, could simply be “a precondition that makes pornography consumption more rewarding,” rather than a result of frequent viewing over time.

This is about codifying values and not so much about actually taking care of people. This is about modifying behavior through the imposition of values that not everyone shares. 

We have a mental health crisis in this country, that's a given. But there are two contributing factors to how this crisis threatens us as a nation. One, we don't spend enough money to take care of the mentally ill--that's a value judgement made by inept politicians who don't want to see their budgets go haywire and force them to tax the wealthy. Second, we allow too many mentally ill people access to guns because we don't have the courage to change those laws.

And porn is supposed to be an issue here? The puns write themselves--come on.

Fewer and Fewer Bums Out There

Thanks to President Obama, there are fewer bums out there:

The rest of the world economy and Wall Street may have been shaky, but American employers were full steam ahead in March, adding a stronger-than-expected 215,000 jobs, according to new figures Friday from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Average hourly wages rose 0.3 percent, up from the 0.1 percent registered in February. However, the unemployment rate edged up to 5 percent, a slight bump from 4.9 percent a month ago. So far this year, average monthly job gain have averaged out at 209,000.

Now, there may be an uptick of hobos, but that simply means that Obamacare has given them the option of spending the summer on the lam from all the railroad dicks out there because they know that if they take a truncheon to the throat, they can spend a month in County Hospital eating that spread.

I used to think I would end up sleeping under a bridge, using the railroad tracks as a sidewalk. What happened to my dream? How did I end up respectable and bathed?

 

Sovereign Citizens


This is actually part of the strategy of the sovereign citizen movement--take everything that the Federal government has in terms of handouts and put nothing back into the "coffers" of the government.

The Bundy family represents the most successful sovereign citizen outfit in America. They should be prosecuted as a syndicate or a crime family because this is part of a systemic effort to avoid taxation and the paying of fees in order to profit from Federally owned resources. To the Bundy's the fact that the Federal government gave them a "loan" is just part of the scam. They spent that money and laughed about it. They will not pay it back, of course. That's for suckers.

You're the sucker because you weren't smart enough to get a loan that you won't pay back for your "kin" or family.

Hypocrites? No, they're not hypocrites. They hate the government and they're not shy about taking money from it in order to "cripple" it because they don't have any shame. They'll take every penny they can get and whatever else. They don't care about fraud and they don't recognize the courts or official looking papers in the mail. They thumb their nose at it because they've already abandoned any pretense of living like regular citizens.

The worst thing a local cop or deputy sheriff will ever run into is not necessarily an armed criminal. It is a sovereign citizen who is armed has no intention of complying with lawful orders. Yes, they're one and the same thing, but anyone who self-identifies themselves as "sovereign" triggers a lot more alarms than a common criminal.

Microagressions Suck



Just by writing this, Emily Shire committed a microagression!
Before 2015, playing beer pong and pulling all-nighters were the activities most associated with the college experience. That all changed this year.
From large public universities in America’s heartland, like the University of Missouri, to small private colleges along the coasts, like Claremont McKenna College in California, student outrage spread like mono at a frat party.
A new lexicon to cover hot-button campus issues—“microaggressions,” “safe spaces,” “yes means yes”—entered the mainstream as college protests earned increasing national interest, far beyond the academic bubble.
Student outrage doesn't bother me and it shouldn't bother you, either. Let them get spun up about these things--it's not like there aren't people being shot and it's not like women just stopped being raped. Let them have their moment within the safe environment of college to learn how the world really works, and, oh by the way, let them change society for the better by redefining what we can and cannot talk about. Deriding someone's opposition to racism or gender inequality means you're getting a taste of what's around the corner. Eventually, we'll all stop offending one another, even if it means giving up a banh mi sandwich, whatever the hell that is.

How is This Even Legal?


Damn, life is so inconvenient:
Pam McGonigal, who began using Uber last year to ferry her 14-year-old daughter from dance class in Silver Spring, Md., back home to Chevy Chase when she got stuck at work in the District, said she had never considered a taxi for the job.

“I just have reservations about my pretty little girl going out and hailing a cab,” she said.
But Uber’s competitors question whether that trust is misplaced.
Dave Sutton, spokesman for the Rockville-based Taxicab, Limousine & Paratransit Association, noted that officials in Los Angeles and San Francisco have questioned the company’s methods for screening drivers. He said unlike the taxi industry, Uber’s background checks don’t include fingerprinting. Uber officials said the company does not use fingerprinting as part of its background checks, but said they think the process they use is more comprehensive.

“Obviously, everybody loves their kids, but the idea of placing a young person with someone who hasn’t received a criminal background check is terrifying,” Sutton said. “We’re working to make sure that people understand that.”
Oh, yeah--that screening process for cab drivers is embedded in the psyche of the American consumer. Did that cab driver pass his background check, no one has ever asked, ever. Why not just admit you're a shill for the cab companies and Uber made you crap yourself for days at a time?

Some people love their kids more than other people love their kids, and Uber is proof of that? 

No, the proof of that is found in exactly how much of your life you are willing to surrender to the idea that the safe transportation of your children from one place to the other is kinda your own damn responsibility. We are now in an age where it's okay to outsource the schlepping of your offspring to someone who has a car and needs money. No judgment, please. Life is such a pain in the ass for busy people who want to live somewhere nice and do everything all of the time without thinking of the consequences.

They're your kids. You had them. They want to do activity stuff. You're busy. It's easier to put them in a car with a complete stranger and hope like hell everything works out for the best. Yay! No guilt necessary. Don't be a shamer. Be a sharer of space in a car. Get with the program, grampa. 

Jeebus.

The Liberation of Kansas

At some point, a humanitarian mission to liberate the occupied territory known as Kansas will have to be undertaken by peacekeeping forces and by non-governmental organizations that will deliver human rights relief to a badly oppressed people.

Yes, Kansas is full of God-botherers who have no money, no jobs, no health care, dwindling access to education, fracked-out water supplies, no real quality of life to speak of, but they have Jeebus and Sam Brownback and his tax cuts for the wealthy and his failed state government and his promise to make God-bothering look like a trip to a dry well on a prairie filled with nothing.

What does it say about a country where this kind of thing can happen in the year of our bothered God 2015? People need jobs and basic necessities. We see state legislatures tie themselves up in knots trying to legislate against abortions that simply don't happen anymore and they call that good government.

If you live in Kansas, my heart goes out to you. My head wonders what the hell is the wrong with Kansas, but I am not without sympathy.

We're All Eleventh Cousins With Somebody

Jane Austen
This is a little ridiculous:
Jane Austen wrote the ultimate fairy tales, and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge is living one herself. But that's not all these two women have in common. 
The famed romance author (1775-1817) and the newly-minted royal, 29, have family ties, according to findings from Ancestry.com
The ladies are eleventh cousins, six times removed, according to the site, and they are linked through Henry Percy, the second Earl of Northumberland, who was born in 1392. 

We all have family ties with royalty or the historically famous or both. I don't think this is newsworthy at all.

The very nature of modern life dictates that we all come from common ancestors and a bloodline that traces back to someone notable in history, and this is true for all of the cultures of the Earth as well. This is not a white European fact; it's true for people from all over. The fact that they had to go back to 1392 to find a common ancestor is enough for a good laugh. And I don't know what's funnier--going back 619 years or expecting useful information out of People magazine.
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Burying the Heart of the Last of the Hapsburgs


This is the end of a historical epoch--and they're sticking with medieval tradition and they're burying his heart in a separate place. This is the sort of thing that wouldn't have raised any eyebrows a hundred years ago. Today, you wonder if someone isn't going to file a lawsuit to reunite the man and his internal organ.

What is the Alternative to College?


This is a great story about why there is something broken with the system that educates people in this country:
Just 11 percent of low-income students who are the first in their family to attend college will have a college degree within six years of enrolling in school. This stems from many issues. Students from low-income backgrounds often attend high schools without rigorous college-prep tracks, meaning their access to good information on higher education may be inadequate. Many of them are also significantly behind academically, which stymies them from applying or being accepted to certain schools. And to make matters worse, thousands of colleges across the country lack resources or programs earmarked for low-income or first generation students. That means that, while many schools enroll these students, few are equipped to actually graduate them.
The European method of getting around this is to legitimize the idea of a vocational education. In America, we are telling kids that they're special and that they have to get a college degree or they'll end up in a filthy, despicable union job. In Germany, for example, they segregate kids in high school based on how smart they are and they provide a union job and training so that the work force can be professionalized and trained.

We can't follow the European model because that would mean that someone's kid, who has pulled C's for years, is a dumbass and will only be a sad and lowly plumber. Never mind the fact that a certified and trained union plumber can made damned good money--America is the land of the middle manager who barely graduated after six years in a state school.

I think it has something to do with the fact that Americans have been conditioned to hate actual skills and competence in another person and that union membership is akin to being in a child molestation ring, but that's shrill and unfair to put into print.

There's a racket and a scam behind charging people $150,000 for an education that will allow someone to get a job making $30K per year--the educator is making money and the employer is saving money. The bankrupt, uneducated person stuck with the bill is of no consideration to anyone.

The Rams Belong in Los Angeles


Since the people St. Louis are hell-bent on driving away tourism and decency, practically at the same time, why not remove the NFL franchise known as the St. Louis Rams and move it to Los Angeles? I hear there used to be a thing called the L.A. Rams and that they played at the Coliseum.

You couldn't script a better break between sports franchise and community than this.

Bill Cosby and Serial Rape


It would appear that Bill Cosby has a problem with being accused of committing serial rape in this country. Did he commit any crimes overseas? Is there any way to bring him to justice in another jurisdiction? Why is he getting away with it?

The statute of limitations has rendered Cosby untouchable. He will likely go the way of Joe Paterno, disgraced but wealthy and confused about his status.

This country can forgive a lot of things. Cosby raped his way through a lot of lives, it would appear.

Norman Rogers is a horrible, horrible man. He was said, in effect, that an adult male can use the $300 hooker to solve a lot of problems.

"A fifty dollar whore is good in a pinch, but she is desperate and sometimes unattractive. If you pay $300 for the services of a professional working girl, you can expect that she will be reasonably attractive and unwilling to turn on you. Bill Cosby could have hired a $300 girl every week of the year. That's $15,600 per calendar year, including your Christmas Ham Boning or whatever you want to call it. Over the course of forty years, that's a grand total of $624,000 spent on discreet, professional sex workers."

As Norman horribly explains, this would save many men a great deal of grief.

"Bill Cosby could have spent a mere $15,600 per year playing hide the baloney and all he would be guilty of is being a horndog. I am not condoning legalized prostitution--I think what they have in Las Vegas is a good model for what we should have in every state. We need special economic zones where regulated adult behavior is tolerated and controlled. Stephen Hawking uses professional women and people consider him a saintly genius. If Cosby were a mere whoremonger, he would likely be making over $10 million a year right now. Contrast that with a controlled budget for getting some ass on the side."

"What an old fool. He reminds me of Tiger Woods, who lost over a hundred million dollars for sex that would have cost him, at best, a few hundred thousand dollars."

It should be pointed out that Norman Rogers is a horrible man and his views are neither condoned nor understood.

A Student of the Game


Attendance at college football games is declining rapidly in this country. It may have something to do with the fact that college football programs are in decline as well:
Despite the ready availability of tickets at University of Michigan's “The Big House”—the largest college football stadium with the capacity to hold 109,901 Wolverine fans—sales have dropped precipitously in their student section. In 2013, the Michigan student section had about 19,000. This season, that number is somewhere between 13,000 and 14,000. In response to declining student attendance, athletic director Dave Brandon announced a decrease in student season ticket prices by 37.5 percent for next year.
That was published today. Michigan football is in the toilet--the team sucks, Dave Brandon is already history, and kids are paying way too much for an education that won't get them decent jobs.

When you have student loan debt through the roof, nobody is going to reach deep in their pocket and give to an alumni association. That's because they're broke paying back loans.

The "duh" factor in this story is incredible.

This is Sexist


Veev vodka is hoping you'll accept the joke here. Unfortunately, it's a transparently sexist and somewhat culturally insensitive ad.

The stereotypically harsh and unattractive Russian/Slavic/Eastern European depiction of a hectoring wife is supposed to sell alcohol to who, exactly? I'm not sure who the target audience is but any man married to a "beast like this" (which is what the advertiser is signaling here) must want to drink themselves into a state of unconsciousness.

When you're using humor to kick down here, you have to remember that there is a fine line between satire and being stupid about cultural signifiers. You're not supposed to link your product to something that doesn't have some sort of redeeming quality. Being smashed, cheating on your wife, and fostering a stereotype isn't exactly the smart or uplifting quality being sought here.

Veev makes a vodka that is useful for your suicide by drinking because your horrible wife is a sexless babushka? Really? And now that means you gotta get a third or fourth bottle for your bros?

Stupid. And, of course, sexist.

Wal-Mart Gives Itself a Tax Cut


Did you know that Wal-Mart can give itself a tax cut?

The act of dropping health care coverage for 30,000 workers amounts to a savings of $500 million dollars per year. I think that that number is low because Wal-Mart is going to make a whole lot more of their employees fall into that category in order to boost their savings (which are not needed, of course, because Wal-Mart is an insanely profitable business).

Your taxes will have to cover that difference because those workers will now have to rely on government benefits or emergency room services or some other form of funding for their health care costs. In many cases, they'll just pay more out of pocket, thereby receiving a pay cut on top of the tax increase you'll get in order to help make up the difference.

Wal-Mart takes the savings and passes them on to you. Only you're not making more money, either.

What I don't understand is, how much longer can we continue to pretend that Wal-Mart has been good for America in any way, shape or form? We're now addicted to cheap consumer goods made elsewhere. We're used to covering the costs of feeding and sheltering people who work for Wal-Mart and receive low pay and can't make ends meet. Now we're going to be handed another segment of the gainfully-employed population that will require health care coverage.

It's awful.

And, what's more, Wal-Mart managers are going to be under pressure to arbitrarily and unfairly cut hours and put more people in the cohort that is losing health care coverage. They'll do that by quietly reducing hours for people who are already on the bubble. Shopping there is already more of a nightmare than it was twenty years ago precisely because they cut the hours of the very same people who are there to help customers and get them through the check stands. The very definition of hell is Wal-Mart on a Friday night at 10:30.

The margins are incredibly thin now--disaster awaits anyone who is unlucky enough to lose a few hours a week or a little bit of insurance.

A one billion dollar a year tax increase on Wal-Mart would be welcome. Good luck ever seeing that in your lifetime.

The Horrible World of Chuck Beaver


Good God.

Chuck Beaver has been arrested for a morals crime?

I doubt very much that anyone would have thought that Chuck Beaver would be a perv.

If Chuck Beaver is a bad guy, who the hell is a good guy?

Chuck Beaver is a guy you have a barbecue with. He's the guy you go golfing with. He's good people when there aren't any other people around.

But, no. Chuck Beaver is one of those people you can't socialize with anymore. He's too stupid to be on the Internet, too horny to let into your house, and he's done. America chews these people up and it spits them out. They run afoul of the law and ruin themselves. No one looks at the cops and their greasy little tactics and the photos they use to catch Chuck Beaver and his ilk. We just want them out there, trying to catch a few more Chuck Beavers.

Well, goddamn, son. Chuck Beaver caught himself.