Thursday, August 31, 2006

just mulling

A thought that occurs to me:

Okay, say you're a Neo-Conservative. You believe in an American Empire. If you are a member of the Lord Bush's Cabal, you even have the power to make that Empire more real. So you invade (oops! "liberate") a smallish oil producing country. Naturally, some of the people there will not appreciate your efforts to "enlighten" them, and will take up arms, most in a clandestine manner. Soldiers, your soldiers, will be killed by these fighters - how do you get them to stop? The usual method, time-honored by conquerors everywhere, has been massive retaliation on local civilian populations. The theory is that if your enemy thinks you will kill his entire family should he kill one soldier, he'll put his weapons away and be a good little subject citizen. This has worked so rarely that one can only conclude that the conquerors know that killing everyone under the guise of "reprisals" is the true goal.
Which brings us back to our own Cabal. How to create a reprisal policy, without actually having "reprisals"? I could be wrong, but I suspect that there are not a lot of American soldiers who would actually carry out, in cold blood, a Nazi-like destruction of a whole village and its inhabitants. Oh, certainly you could find enough to make a special squad, but it couldnt be done quietly; somebody would find out and raise a stink (maybe it could be sub-contracted though, hmmm?).
This, I think, is why the Bush Corporation was so gung-ho on torture: It was as close as they could come to an intimidation tactic like whole-village destruction. Conventional Conqueror Wisdom says, you cannot stop the insurgents if they dont fear you. Obviously, since they are fighting you already, your guns dont scare them. Hot-blooded soldiers might slaughter a few civilians in troublesome areas, but not enough to truly cow a populace, plus it doesnt play well for the folks back home. Torture, though, torture is easier to hide, has a long local history of intimidation, can be explained away as an "aberation" and might even carry the by-product of revealing valuable intelligence. What psychotic, desk-bound Warrior who'd never suffered for even a day in his life could resist such logic!

You're not buying this, are you? Well, I cant say as I blame you. It was just a thought.

I suspect the truth is that Dick Cheney, Alberto Gonzolas, and company are just simply assholes.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Davy Jones

You who just gotta get your delicious fix o' Dave have perhaps been feeling the lack in my posts lately. Sorry. I've just been feeling out of sorts lately. To be honest, the last few days has seen me spending most of my precious blogging essence on other people's blogs! That's right, all my hard-thought thinking has been put someplace other than here! It's okay, though, because, to be honest, better things go on at these blogs than happen here anyway, so really, everyone wins. Well, everyone wins if you actually go to these blogs and read. So, if you absolutely, positively, have to read something by me that doesnt involve lame comments about my weather weaknesses, try the following:

A discussion of schools and teacher compensation on United We Lay
A discussion about pedophilia on Saurly Yours
Another Saur discussion about Race vs. Culture
And, what do guys want, with ~qz~

...of a sort

Today, after nineteen days of 100 degrees or more, we finally had a day with a high of a mere NINETY-EIGHT!
Yay Team!
Personally, I think saying 98° isnt as bad as 100 is a lot like saying $2.93 a gallon for gas isnt as bad as $3.00. Yeah, it's less, but it still hurts. This makes 42 days so far this summer at 100° or more, and summer doesnt really end here until October. No really, it doesnt.

Watch for my Texas Calendar, and you'll see.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

I'm your nutty buddy... I hope

This might sound a bit nutty... okay, a lot nutty...

Human beings, much as we hate to think of ourselves this way, are still animals. As animals, it seems likely that we too have instinct, hardwired survival knowledge leftover from our more primate past. So I find myself wondering if this orgy of gluttony that the country seems to be engaged in, despite the obvious trouble that fast approaches from perhaps more than one quarter, might be instinctual behavior, that our inner monkey senses a time of privation ahead, and so is gorging itself in preparation for leaner times.
How else, other than raw stupidity and greed, can one explain the continued waste of resources that we continue despite dire warnings from economists and climatologists alike?

introducing Thanatos, your fabulous new Death Instinct

Some numbers that need accounting

Want to see some appalling numbers?
  • The United States is 49th in the world in literacy (the New York Times, Dec. 12, 2004).

  • The United States ranked 28th out of 40 countries in mathematical literacy (NYT, Dec. 12, 2004).

  • Our workers are so ignorant and lack so many basic skills that American businesses spend $30 billion a year on remedial training (NYT, Dec. 12, 2004).

  • Foreign applications to U.S. grad schools declined 28 percent last year. Foreign student enrollment on all levels fell for the first time in three decades, but increased greatly in Europe and China. Last year Chinese grad-school graduates in the U.S. dropped 56 percent, Indians 51 percent, South Koreans 28 percent (NYT, Dec. 21, 2004).

  • The World Health Organization "ranked the countries of the world in terms of overall health performance, and the U.S. [was]...37th." In the fairness of health care, we're 54th. "The irony is that the United States spends more per capita for health care than any other nation in the world" (The European Dream, pp.79-80).

  • "The U.S. and South Africa are the only two developed countries in the world that do not provide health care for all their citizens" (The European Dream, p.80). Lack of health insurance coverage causes 18,000 unnecessary American deaths a year. (That's six times the number of people killed on 9/11.) (NYT, Jan. 12, 2005.)

  • "Of the 20 most developed countries in the world, the U.S. was dead last in the growth rate of total compensation to its workforce in the 1980s.... In the 1990s, the U.S. average compensation growth rate grew only slightly, at an annual rate of about 0.1 percent" (The European Dream, p.39). Yet Americans work longer hours per year than any other industrialized country, and get less vacation time.

  • As of June, 2004, the U.S. imported more food than it exported (NYT, Dec. 12, 2004).
These figures are just a sample of Michael Ventura's proof that something very, very wrong has happened in a country that likes to call itself "the Greatest Nation in the World".

This is for Poobah, sort of by request. I think it gets things in a nutshell, at the root of the figures, as it were:
Sorry, but it's not my drawing (I actually think I could do better than that)(but not today).

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

quote for the day

The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believed that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." I nodded and murmered something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. "That's not the way reality works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors... and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."
RON SUSKIND, quoting a "senior advisor" to President Bush

To my mind, this about says it all about the Bush Administration.

holy crap quote of the day

"It's easier to make one single porcelain little girl dance than it is to make puppets out of three thousand grown-ups."

Stolen from the Rude Pundit. Read the post, but be forwarned, it's appalling and true.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

strategy for the day

Okay Everybody, here's a talking point for you: Stop refering to the Republican Party as "conservatives", as many conservatives will tell you that the GOP has betrayed true conservative thought.

Is it true? Hell, I dont know, but we're talking about election politics here, and breaking the deadly stranglehold that Lord Bush's Cabal has on America today. First step to doing that is get the Republican Party out of power.
Inherently, there is nothing wrong with conservatism, we need it as much as we need liberalism. But the pendulum has swung a bit too far, and it's time to bring it bak this way. The best route to this is to break up the coalition that is currently the GOP. Or at least to make its members less gung ho to show up on Election Day. Criticizing the Party rather than conservatives might be one way to do the trick.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

heat and wave: the story continues

Have I mentioned yet that it's hot? I feel like I'm wintering in the North, only it's heat keeping me in, rather than cold. Maybe that's the problem. In the winter, you want to stay in, because it's inhospitable outside. But in the summer, you dont need special clothes (just the lack of them), and the sun is shining. But, still, it's inhospitable as hell (literally, just like Hell, but without the flames and sulpher)(but Rick Perry does qualify as Satan).
Anyway, for all you wussies out there in the North who were complaining about the heat a couple of weeks ago, I noticed that it's pretty much cooled down to a normal summer heat. Here in Texas though, the summer just keeps on giving. We've had twelve 100-degree days in a row so far, and a total of 35 100-degree days overall this summer (the chart below represents the temperatures thru Friday). Tomorrow will be over 100. Next week is calling for temps merely in the upper nineties (oh. joy.), so maybe that'll give us a bit of "relief".
Okay, so there were worse years.  This year still sucks.
Expect to see more bitching.


I wasnt paying attention, or I would have mentioned this earlier. We have officially (at least by CNN numbers) lost more soldiers in Iraq than the number of people killed killed in the September 11 attacks. And for what?

Thursday, August 17, 2006

hot time, summer in the city

Okay, imagine your at a family gathering. Uncle Joe, the family ditto-head, is ranting about how global warming is all a myth. Here's what you do: Go out to your car, and start it up. Then, go get Uncle Joe, grab his hand, and hold it about a half an inch from the tailpipe opening. Within seconds he will yell, "Hey, leggo my hand, you're burning me!" Will this demonstration prove to be anything besides a way to be cruel to aging Conservatives? Well, no, not by itself, it wont.

But here's where the lesson comes in: that heat from the tailpipe, the heat that was burning ol' Joe's hand, doesnt go away. Oh, sure, ten feet from the car you wont feel it, but that's because it dissipated.
Heat, like any energy, doesnt just go away, it instead spreads itself out as part of Energy's relentless attempt to equalize itself out over the entire span of Creation (this process, fortunately, takes a really, really long time, and is otherwise known as entropy).
On a more local scale, one little car engine doesnt add much heat to your environment. There is a lot of matter for the heat to spread itself out to. But there's more than just one car, isnt there? There are millions of them. Each one of them is burning fuel, and not very efficiently, I might add. The average automobile engine is only about 20% efficient, in other words, only 20% of the energy potential of the fuel goes into making the car go, the rest is just waste heat. (dont feel too bad, those bulbs you light your house with are only about 5% efficient). Heat that is then dissipated into the world around you. Over time, this has to have a warming effect.
How about another demonstration, this one less cruel. Get into your car, drive out into the countryside, far from the things of, if not Man, then City. Ahhh, that's better, isnt it? It's cooler out in the country. That's partly because you're no longer surrounded by cars, trucks, signs, and electronic devices, all generating heat (feel your TV, or your phone charger) as they go about their business, heat which spreads out and disperses into the things around it.
But there's something else going on out in the countryside, also. Sunlight, rather than falling on the concrete, brick, metal and asphalt of the city (where it is stored, and then radiated back out later on), falls on plants (assuming you're not in a desert). Plants use this energy (heat) from the sun to convert matter into more plant. Dont ask me how much energy they absorb, it's probably not a very large amount, though. But, again, like your car in reverse, there are a lot of plants.

Okay, now lets get back to your car. What does it burn? Unless you're a really Green type, it probably burns a petroleum product, like gasoline. Where does gasoline come from? It's made from crude oil. And what is crude oil? It is the decomposed and compressed remains of millions, billions of years of plant matter. You are in effect, using solar energy, collected over eons by the patient harvesting of plantlife. Unfortunately, as I said before, we only use about 20% of the trapped energy to get about. The rest is heat, solar heat (sort of), released back onto your town, almost all within the last 100 years or so. Every car does this. Every tractor-trailer rig. Every diesel locomotive, lawn mower, leaf-blower, motorcycle, motorboat and jetski.

Think about that, next time you're sitting in your car, engine idling to keep the A/C running.

Then multiply it by millions of times.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

a bit of a story and a question

I was reading this science fiction book called "The Fall of Hyperion", by Dan Simmons. In it, a network of planetary portals which allowed travel instantly between planets was destroyed, bringing the civilization it created to total collapse. The effect on various planets was described briefly for each. Here was one of them:
On Qom-Riyadh a self-appointed fundamentalist Shiite ayatollah rode out of the desert, called a hundred thousand followers to him, and wiped out the Suni Home Rule government within hours. The new revolutionary government returned power to the mullahs and set back the clock two thousand years. The people rioted with joy.
This was published in 1990.
Is this an age old pattern among muslims (or any religion) that Simmons used to look prescient? Was he prescient? Or is this perhaps the way we of the West perceive followers of Islam, as a backwards-facing people who want nothing but the destruction of civilization?
Maybe I'm reading too much into this.

One brief thought: I love how, in sci-fi, even when civilization collapses, entire planets are portrayed as going one way or another. Just like here and now on Earth, right?

Saturday, August 12, 2006

a snippet of a dream

this is St. Olaf, in case you were wonderingThis was part of a dream I had the other night: I was walking down a darkened hallway, or perhaps it was a city street. It was not a particularly menacing place, just a dark one, with dim triangles of light angling across the path and disappearing up the walls. Ahead, in the shadows, were two figures, cloaked in darkeness, playing catch from side to side. But when I got up to them, they had stopped, and no one was there except two saint statues, one of which was holding an orb. It was a sweet, playful moment amidst the usual intrigue, chasing, and real estate of my dreams.

Friday, August 11, 2006

quote for the day, plus 2 films

"I'm completely in favor of the separation of Church and State. My idea is that these two institutions screw us up enough on their own, so both of them together is certain death."

George Carlin (swiped from pillsburyjoughboy)

Oh, and check out this video, 'cause it's fuckin' hilarious.

So's this.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

oh, yeah...

If the Rev was still reading, I'd ask him if he remembers something, but maybe someone else out there remembers this also. A while back, there was someone going around posting this huge whacked-out diatribe in peoples' comments. It dealt with aliens and war and was just plain nuts. Similar, in fact, to this one. Did anyone else get a similar thing? And could the nut-job leaving these crazy things, please, at least leave them on a post of relevence? (rhetorical question)

Monday, August 07, 2006

happy birthday!

This day marks what I would call the one-year mark of this blog. I know I wrote a piece back in June (belatedly) which also was an anniversary post, but well, while technically true, today, August 7th, is what I consider to be the true anniversary. This is the day that I first ranted on-line.

I've been looking forward to this day for over a month, but now that it's here, I just cant seem to drum up the narcissism necessary for a good birthday piece. I really am quite sad about this.

I'm actually having a tough time right now drumming up any enthusiasm for the blog at all. Dont worry, it's no doubt a passing phase, ending about the same time that school starts, and the household routines return to normal (or at least, to routine).

And that's all for now, really. Sorry about that.