Monday, December 31, 2007
Saturday, December 29, 2007
Terry Pratchett has alzheimers. Words cannot express how bummed out I am about this. Not my words, anyway. No doubt Terry could do it just right. If you've never heard of Pratchett, start with Good Omens. Or The Wee Free Men. Or just about anything, really.
Friday, December 28, 2007
I warn you, this is addictive. It's an air force test, and as far as I can tell, the trick is to not move too quickly or too far.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
A question came from the audience along the lines of: "What about fascists? If you take your view, it may not be possible to say conclusively that fascists are wrong".
"No, that’s right," the speaker said, "But I don’t need to say they’re wrong. I just need to say they’re bastards."
from a comment at Big Ideas
Friday, December 21, 2007
Thursday, December 20, 2007
What began as a troubling year for Bush, facing a new, energetic Democratic Congress, ended in triumph for the president as frustrated Democrats nursed their losses. Democrats failed in their No. 1 objective to stop the war in Iraq and bowed to Bush and his veto threats on tax policies, energy legislation, children's health insurance and general spending.This was not Lord Bush's victory, or at least, this was not a victory made by Lord Bush. This was a self-defeat for the Democratic "leadership". If there has ever been a bigger bunch of pussies in the hallowed halls of congress, it has not been during my lifetime*.
Somehow, a group of people who've risen to the top of the power food-chain have failed to grasp the role that image plays in this nation's psyche, a role that the Republicans have grasped with gusto and played to the hilt.
From the start, Democrats should have been sending Bush bill after bill, doing the job that Americans elected them to do. They should have done this regardless of any threat of veto. In the Senate, where things are often harder to get done, compromise might have been acceptable, but not the capitulation which has marked 2007.
If you watched that video from yesterday, you heard Mr. Israel worrying about how Bill Clinton shut down the government in 1994 by vetoing the budget handed him by an "entitlement"-slashing Republican congress. That veto was widely regarded as a defeat for the congress, but that's less because Clinton won than it was because the Republicans were mean-spirited asshats, and most people knew that. In 1994, Clinton was polling at around two-thirds, but in the here and now, Bush is at one third on a good day, and he is the mean-spirited asshat, not the congress.
Congress has the moral and Constitutional authority to cut off funding, to bring home the troops, to cancel tax breaks given to the Oil Companies in addition to the boondogle provided by the Iraq war, to reject candidates who are unsuitable for administering laws, and to investigate whatever it considers to be transgressions of the law, those laws having been created by congress in the first place.
I dont know how much of this the nation will take lying down. Then again, maybe the nations been doing a bit too much lying around anyway. Maybe it's time to get up and get a little loose.
* admittedly, not all that long, relatively.
So, anyway, two things occur to me:
1. How stupid do those who confirmed Mukasey as Attorney General feel now?
2. How convieniently timed is this revelation by the CIA, about inflamatory tapes that no longer exist (and so inflame passions only abstractly), which comes at a time when the White House is getting hammered by the press (hell, by everybody) over the NIE?
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Okay, now, I dont want anyone to think that my happiness revolves around food, even if it is frequently true. But I do want to give you a "recipe" today, since I recently finished off this dish, and I love it, love it, love it. It's nice, simple Guy Food:
- Get 1 box of Hamburger Helper Cheeseburger Macaroni, plus a pound of hamburger, some milk and whatever else you need to follow the instructions with.
- Now follow those instructions (oh, and add some chopped onion when you brown the meat, and be sure and season it, too; salt, pepper, garlic powder, whatever).
- When the Helper is done, open up a can of Ranch Style Beans and dump them in (you might drain them first, or you might not).
- microwave a cup or so of frozen corn, then dump that in. You can use the canned stuff, but I really dont recommend it. Frozen is better.
- Stir it up (I know it seems obvious, but still).
- Dont just sit there, eat it! Have it with a nice salad, too (use Green Goddess dressing, just for fun).
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Yeah, if you want to call the richest 1% the "underpinning", then King George isnt a big, fat liar, I suppose. With forty percent of America's wealth under their belt, those 3 million folks are doing pretty darn "good".
On the other hand...
Bush tried to position himself as an advocate for working families by taking aim at his favorite target: the Democratic Congress.
"The Congress cannot take economic vitality for granted," Bush said.
"The most negative thing Congress can do in the face of economic uncertainty is to raise taxes on the American people," Bush said.
The audience of roughly 80 people listened to Bush with respectful silence. Yet a line that normally gets him applause — "I'll veto any tax increase" — drew no reaction at all.
Holy crap! No reaction to tax vetoes? Let's remember something very important here about the audience (hell, any audience) when Commander Chimp was speaking: they are a bunch of ringers. Dissent is not allowed in a Bush audience, which is generally stacked with members of the Still-Delusional Third (or whatever the number is these days). Even this audience failed to applaud his "no taxes" mantra, which may just be a clear indication that America is finally waking up to the enormous hole into which it has dug itself. Or maybe not. But you have to be pretty blind not to see at least some of our economic woes.
- Record debt
- massive trade deficit
- Negative savings levels
- devaluation of our currency
- stagnant pay rates (for most of us)
- growing poverty
- gas prices (not to mention record oil profits)
- inflation (yeah, you heard me, and you know it's true)
Maybe it wont come to that. Let's hope so, anyway. I mean, enlightened self-interest ought to say that if you have a quarter-million dollars, and have to give up, say, as much as even half through various economic policies, you've still got $125,000,000. That's enough to live fairly comfortably on, right? Or maybe not. Certainly there are days when I wonder how I get by on .05% of that.
Still, it may be a sacrifice we'll all have to make. I'm sure ol' Dubs will wave the flag just as vigorously when a bit of economic patriotism is called for, right?
* i.e., rose-colored short-sightedness
** and those little bastards are a lot stronger than they look
Hey, check out some more numbers from the Existentialist Cowboy; seems even the government knows it policies are bullshit, they just dont say it in so many words.
Monday, December 17, 2007
Two months ago, President Bush made a strong argument for updating a law which oversees the government's ability to engage in surveillance of Americans and non-citizens, which requires warrants from a secret court. He spoke of the importance to our nation's security to have a bill ready for him to sign, so as to not "limit" his administration's anti-terrorism activities.There's more, of course, but we all know how the script goes these days, dont we? There'll be lots of hand-wringing from "Democratic" leaders, a few "incendiary" comments from real liberals, some near accusations of treason from Republicans, some actual accusations of treason from a "conservative" pundit or two, and then, once more, King George will get his way, and America will slide a little bit farther down into that ditch we used to call fascism, but now have rebranded as Patriotism™.
"Congress and the President have no higher responsibility than protecting the American people from enemies who attacked our country," he said.
But underneath this urgency was a threat: Even if Congress sent him an updated Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) bill with the provisions he said were required to pursue wiretaps of individuals with a minimum of judicial oversight, Mr. Bush said he would veto it if it did not also include an extraneous provision: immunity to telecommunications companies from liability for their past participation in the administration's wiretaps.
And it's all so unnecessary. Once again, the Democrats are falling into the veto trap. You know, the one where Lord Bush says, "do what I want, or the government will grind to a halt and life as we know it will end!"
Hey! Let it. As far as I'm concerned, this government needs to grind to a halt. In fact, it cant do that soon enough, for me. I didnt choose any of the people who "represent" me in the government. Even had their opponents won, they still wouldnt have been anything more than the lesser of two increasingly obnoxious and downright sulphurous evils. So please, grind the government to a halt, end life as we know it right now.
Wouldnt that be a nice holiday* gift?
Because I gotta tell ya', life as I know it isnt all that great. I'd kind of like to go back to life as I remember it. You know, under that "bad" president we used to have. Yeah, I know, it's a pipe dream. We can never go back, we will apparently only be allowed to goose-step our way into a more "secure" future.
* Yeah, I said "holiday": fuck you, Bill O.
DALLAS (Reuters Life!) - More Americans believe in a literal hell and the devil than Darwin's theory of evolution, according to a new Harris poll released on Thursday.If you've ever wondered what will cause America to loose our world leadership position (I mean, aside from neo-con foriegn policy), look no further than our increasingly stupid attitude about science. What is the world's future (economically, anyway) going to be based on, science or philosphy?
Sunday, December 16, 2007
That's right, it's the Best of 2007 at the Carnival of the Liberals (#53), and I got into it! Yay, me! And you know what? I got in because I'm fuckin' great, man! No more false modesty for this boy, 'cause I rock. Why I'm not rolling in endorsement money is beyond me. Oh, except that I would never sell out, that's right, never. Money? Feh! Who needs it? All I require is the occassional verification that I'm not flapping my fingers in vain. All that crap about writing even if no one read it? Lies, lies, lies. But no more! This feels good, and I'm not afraid to say so. It was worth every dollar in bribery I spent... not that I did that, of course. That would be wrong.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Hell, I'd do it. If I had any money that is. But then, I'm selfish, and I really do want one of those computers, and this is the only way to get one. So if anyone out there would like make my Christmas a really kick-ass one, feel free to pay for this for me. Really, I'd appreciate it. I'll even write a post thanking you, and I'd do it using bright green keys.
Friday, December 14, 2007
Without a draft or a revitalized Reserve and National Guard that ties the military closer to civilian society, in the decades ahead American troops may become less soldiers, marines, sailors and airmen, and more purple warriors—in essence a guild in which the profession of combat-arms is passed down from father to son. It is striking how many troops I know whose parents and other relatives had also been in the service, especially among the units whose members face the highest level of personal risk. Contrast this with the fact that, at the 2006 Stanford commencement ceremony, Maj. General Lehnert, whose son was the lone graduating student from a military family, was struck by how many of the other parents had never even met a member of the military before he introduced himself.Now, one of the things that's always made me think that America was fairly immune to the kind of military coups that go down in other countries is that it seemed inconceivable that the military here would rebel against it's own people. However, if the above statement is accurate, how much longer before the disconnect between military personel and the general citizenry becomes so great that it becomes, not a case of turning on our own, but rather turning on those who "just dont understand"? David Brin has made the arguement (backed up here and there by articles within the MSN) that the military is becoming more evangelical, which further pushes them into an us-vs-them mentality.
I'm not a big fan of war, and I think "patriotism" is a suckers game that our leaders use to manipulate us. That said, I also think we've got a serious problem in this country with our pride in the nation. Oh, sure, people claim to "proud to be American", but when it comes to sacrificing something, anything, for that nation, well, forget it.
Taxes to pay for the improvement of the nation? Read my lips! Buy American? But the Chinese stuff is cheaper and I cant buy that 42" LCD TV if I spend an extra 25% on U.S.-made socks. Drive a smaller, more fuel efficient car? But how will I haul all my stuff?
Folks, it's time for the return of a National Service requirement. Not necessarily into the military, but some form of service. Maybe it'd be miltary service, maybe it'd be something more like the old WPA, maybe it'd be something like the Peace Corp, either abroad or at home*. Whatever it was though, dragging our youth out of their shells, out of the comfortable little worlds that they've built for themselves in their first 18-24 years (we can be flexible), and making them interact with parts of America that they havent before can only be beneficial to the nation, right?
We dont want to pay taxes? Fine, I can understand that. But how about we pay with some sweat? How about we get off our lazy, entitled asses, and actually do something to make this country great, rather than trying to buy it that way through the Free Market.
If you want something done right, do it yourself. Because you cannot get anything done as well through delegation as you can through personal interest.
* there's a name for this organization, actually, but I cannot remember what it is.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Now here we are running up to the 2008 presidential race, and it's starting to like like we're going to have to choose the candidate which frightens us the least, and that's just sad.
Monday, December 10, 2007
Want proof (other than trying to blog-surf yourself): look at your sitemeter stats, and tell me if you see any indicators that people showed up from the next blog button. They used to appear right after you posted, but it's been a while since I've seen any sign of someone showing up that way.
Sunday, December 09, 2007
Frank Miller rocked, by the way.
I also just discovered that the Des Moines Register was bought by the Gannett "News" Corporation, which explains why it wasnt nearly as good when I visited Iowa this November as I remember it being when I was a kid.
Friday, December 07, 2007
Thursday, December 06, 2007
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
I love a good TV show, but they rarely love me. Frank's Place, Wonderfalls, and, after the fact, Dead Like Me and Firefly. Or maybe it's not me, maybe it's the networks.
Anyway, this is the first* part of the pilot of "Cupid", a briefly aired show which showcased the manic charms of Jeremy Piven. It's fun, it's clever, and it disappeared leaving a lot of loose ends. Watch them all (the episodes, not the loose ends) on YouTube.
Here's the story: Jeremy Piven is a man being held on a psych charge because he believes himself to be Cupid, the god of Love. He is released in to the care of a psychologist, Paula Marshall, who also happens to write a well-know Chicago advice column to the love-lorn and run a singles therapy group. How's that for a set up? Cupid claims that he wont be allowed back to Olympus until he unites 100 couple in "true love" without the aid of his magic darts, which he then proceeds to attempt (with varying success) for the course of the show.
Is he really Cupid? I dont know, and if it's contained in the first 9 minutes of the pilot, we may never know, because it's missing. I'm not going to say that it's a great show, but it is highly entertaining.
* part 2, actually, part 1 is here, but part 2 is better
Props to Bill, by the way, for pointing me to it.
Tuesday, December 04, 2007
Do you think the Iraqis would have done it? I dont know either, but I think for many Iraqis, 10,000 $US would be nothing to sneeze at. I know I wouldnt sneeze at it. Hell, here in America we gave away millions to our own rich for a mere 600 pieces of silver, and that was more of a payday loan than anything.
It would have been a bargain, though. We've since spent over twice that, to say nothing of the lives lost on both sides. We all would have benefitted from such a plan, excepting perhaps Halliburton.
The crazy thing is that this is America, a land where most people are actually convinced that they can buy whatever it is that they want. I guess what we wanted more than anything was a bar fight.
Yee-ha. Be careful what you wish for young country, or you shall surely get it.
Incidentally, using the figure given in the link above, so far the war has cost us a mere $1500+ for every man, woman and child in America. How's that for a bargain? Isnt it better than some boring old bridges, or an affordable college education, or health care for everyone?
previously posted with smaller numbers
Monday, December 03, 2007
"Note to Red Staters"
"Next shareholder's meeting: no more proxy voting!"
"Joining the Blogstorm"
"Another War Casualty"
Also, I need to have it in by midnight, so, no pressure.
Addendum: well, it's after midnight (EST) and I made my choice, so, never mind.
Sunday, December 02, 2007
Okay, admittedly, putting this video on my blog to help raise the Rev's stats is a little Barry Bonds-ish, but it's for a good cause, so I'll do it anyway.
Saturday, December 01, 2007
Here's what I can imagine: Suppose, instead of destroying an oil-producing country (or two) in what will probably be a futile effort to ensure a steady supply of (environment destroying) oil and gasoline, we had built an infrastructure for recharging electric cars? Set up a sytem so that every restaurant and every park and every mall, hell, every parking lot had a recharge station. No, they wouldnt be free, you'd swipe a card through, or feed quarters or something like that, but you could do it everywhere.
As more and more people switched over to electric cars (or modified hybrids), business owners would perhaps notice that sales were increasing as people, having stopped for a while to charge their cars, look for things to do including shopping at the retail outlets next to the charging stations. Parks, which should be among the first places that charging stations are set up, would also see increased usage (and I bet there would be a drop in accidents and incidents of road-rage as people are forced to take breaks every few hours to recharge their batteries (literally and figuretively). GM's EV-1 proved that the electric car can be a viable option (despite the destruction of all the cars and what I suspect is a bit of the Assasination Effect), and I'll bet right now that GM is perhaps rethinking their earlier strategy (had GM continued to develop, market and build the EV-1, imagine the position they'd be in right now).
Unfortunately, that hasnt happened. But hey! Dont dispair. One of the advantage of America having spent decades building crap cars is that there's plenty of rolling stock out there just waiting to be converted to electric. Sure it's a pain in the ass, but it'll be your gasoline avoiding, non-carbon emitting, I'm-greener-than-you-so-suck-it-neighbor pain in the ass.
Oh, and for anyone who'd like to extoll the virtues of the hybrid engine, I'm with you and all, but I'd also point out that a hybrid engine is even more complicated (and therefore prone to breakdown and profitable repairwork) than a regular internal combustion engine. The primary reason that people prefer a hybrid over a straight electric vehicle is range, and the lack thereof in a vehicle powered solely by battery.
Oh, and here's a question for any engineering types out there: Why cant you have an electric car that has an auxillary gas-powered generator sending juice to the batteries? I assume that there is a good reason why no one seems to set up a car that way, so what is it? Just curious.