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Sunday, December 30, 2012

They Did It

No. 1 seed in the AFC, complete with 1st round bye and home-field advantage.

There's only one team in the NFL that can beat the Broncos this year...and that's the Broncos.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Dont Care Where You Been Sleepin

Lat night I was thinking about some of the Christian music I used to listen to when I was a kid and didn't have control of the...well, back then it was a record player.  There was one record by a family of evangelists --can't remember their names now-- who sang family-friendly songs, one memorable one being about how they taught their godless neighbor how to pray.  I guess I was kind of wondering whatever happened to them.  The kids are all grown now.  Are they still evangelizing?

How do they feel about their parents putting them on record?  I dunno....  Just something to think about, I guess.

But it got me thinking about my absolute favorite Christian musician:  a guy named Don Francisco.  70s haircut, beard, guitar.  And awesome songs.  It's not nostalgia that makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up to this day thinking of his song Too Small a Price.

But I also thought of this song, which is over twenty years old now, and it occurred to me.....holy shit, this Don Francisco guy was ahead of his time, man.

Take a listen:
 
Dont Care Where You Been Sleepin

Writing in "God's voice," as he often does, he lays out a vision of Christian belief that explicitly rejects some of the more intolerant aspects of Evangelism.

Witness:
I don't care where you've been sleeping, I don't who's made your bed
I've already gave My life to set you free;
There's no sin you could imagine that is stronger than my love,
And it's all yours if you'll come home again to Me.
The whole thing made me think of my Mom, who played Don Francisco's records for years, and all the crap she's gone through simply for being who she is, and how comforting this kind of thing must have been when faced with all the homophobic hate that basically defines the modern Evangelical movement.

Jerry Falwell was never man enough to say "I don't care where you've been sleeping," that's for damn sure.

Anyway, I highly recommend going to Don Francisco's website and downloading as many of his MP3s (for free!) that you can.  It's good stuff, even if you're a heathen like me.

Recommendations:

Adam, Where Are You?
Gotta Tell Somebody
Don't Care Where You've Been Sleepin'
Come and Follow Me
He's Alive
I'll Never Let Go of Your Hand
Too Small a Price

Monday, December 24, 2012

Happier Times

This is a song about a shattered love affair, but take out a few lines and it describes how I feel about my life circa Christmas 2012.



The relevant parts:
Shape that I’m in
Never let her down a day in my life
Tree’s all around me
As I see the time pass me by

Never trade you for the world
Never do the things I used to
I guess it’s not good enough
This I see

But I’ll remember happier times

Life it hits me
Comes faster now day by day
Places that I’ve been
Are not the places I wanna be
(PS.  The above vid is taken from Smokin' Joe's Live from Albert Hall concert, which is an awesome show for many reasons...one of them being two drummers!)

Saturday, December 15, 2012

After Earth

Wow....you can't judge a movie by its trailer --not really-- but this looks amazing.



M. Night Shamalayan directed it, though, so you never know...

But I've always preferred brooding Will Smith to mugging Will Smith and I would be very surprised if his character cracks a smile once in this movie.  I got chills listening to his voiceover.

"...You must realize that fear is not real.  It is a product of thoughts you create.  Now do not misunderstand me.  Danger is very real.  But fear is a choice."
I want to get that tattooed on the inside of my eyelids so I can see it every time I close my eyes.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Into the Garbage Chute, Flyboy

Guess who wrote this?

Things like this really make me increasingly convinced that it would not just be nice, but important to see a Star Wars movie that’s centered around a woman who is on the same kind of hero’s journey Luke Skywalker took all those years ago.
Now I don't object to a woman protagonist for the next Star Wars movies, but then again...I've always had a thing for Princess Leia, who --besides looking yummy in her slave outfit-- started out in the first film as a spy stealing secret plans and ended the last film as a gun-toting resistance fighter on the front lines of the battle. All this back when Reagan was president...

I guess Leia's hero journey doesn't count, isn't good enough, or is somehow diminished by Luke Skywalker's hero journey.  (Even though, by the story's own timeline, Leia was well on her hero's journey back when Luke Skywalker was a farmboy with big dreams.)

This is what happens when you mistake tokenism for the genuine article.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Night Shift Blegh

Lord, give me the strength to endure the next few weeks, and the courage to quit my job and find a new one.  I've been talking about it forever, but it's just been talk.  Truth is, I'm scared.  Scared I'll make less money, scared I'll work for a shittier company, scared I won't like it, just scared.

Which is why I need strength and courage, because as scared as I am, I'm twice as over making myself available 24X7, 365 days a year.

Adding random pics to break up the text.  This is a wall in Glenwood Springs.
Right now I'm working the night shift and I've never been so bored in my life.  I'm talking about some existential boredom here.  It's not that I'm sitting around with nothing to do, although I do a fair bit of that on the weekends --by myself in the dark, can't stay up past noon, nor sleep past midnight.  It's just that it's all boring.

I'm boring.  Ask anyone, they'll tell you.  I'm poorly socialized, uncommunicative, and closed off.

And I'm sick of being like that.  I used to have friends.  I used to do things.  Now I just work a shift like a cell phone plan from ten years ago:  nights and weekends, nights and weekends.

I got a message from a buddy sometime this weekend  --not sure when exactly-- chiding me about my fantasy football team.  He says "Dude you gave up weeks ago and you're going to beat me in the playoffs."  It's true.

I did give up weeks ago.  When the season started, Sundays were just another ten hour day for me, a Wednesday or a Thursday.  Not only did I miss the games, I missed the experience.  I missed the commentary, the hype, the feeling of watching --and paying attention to-- a game in progress.

This is an Apache (?) helicopter outside Canon City.
I tried watching replays on my "weekend" but there's nothing more boring than a football game that's already been decided.  Try and avoid scores...try it.  A news junkie like me can resist clicking on the scores, but seeing the "Broncos Beat Everybody" headlines?  A waste of time, man.

And the Broncos are beating everybody.  We're at the top of the AFC?  What the fuck?  And I sleep through the games on Sunday, telling myself I don't care.

I want to get up in the morning, do my work, and then live my life.  I want to go back to school, not for a Computer Science degree or a certification, but for something else.  I want to take a chemistry class.  I don't know anything about chemistry.

I want to join a writer's group.

I want to take a woman, or seven of them, out to dinner any day of the week.

I want to be able to go on a weekend retreat without taking any days off.

Earlier this year, I'm sitting at a church men's retreat, a place I wouldn't normally be if my brother wasn't there and the church wasn't so non-denominational, and I'm telling this guy I just met seconds before all the intimate details of my life, things I'm reluctant to admit to myself.

This is me in Estes Park during the mens' retreat
Things like:  I act like my job is the most important thing in my life, and truth is...it doesn't even rate. The things that do --the people that do-- get the shaft...for a job I don't even really care about!

The good news is that getting a job now will probably be easier than ever.  Not only are there plenty of opportunities --Kaiser is adding 500 IT jobs, I read (that's a LOT!)-- I just don't care anymore.  I saw a six month contract job doing god knows what god knows where making just a few bucks less than what I'm making now.  The shifts started at 5AM and were all over by 7PM.

Sign me up for the early one!


Prediction

By 2050, whatever party is representing white conservatives --whether that continues to be the Republican party, or someone else-- will be pro-gun control. Now I'm not saying pro-gun people in 2012 are racists.

I'm just saying that a pro-gun view is less principled than supporters would have you believe. They would have you believe its based on devotion to Constitutional rights, which...hey, not calling them liars....is hard to believe when you read complaints like this one from Mike Rosen, admitted scam artist and confirmed liar:
Sportscaster Bob Costas stirred a national controversy when he violated that sanctuary to comment on the suicide of Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher after he had murdered his girlfriend, Kasandra Perkins. Costas mounted his soap box for a self-indulgent anti-gun lecture during halftime of the game between the Eagles and Cowboys.
It was annoying and inappropriate.
Got it...2nd amendment rights are immutable.  It doesn't matter if you're homicidal, suicidal, or both...don't touch my guns.

Also, don't speak your mind during a football game.  Especially not during the 90 second half-time commentary section of the football game.  Especially not a few days after a highly-publicized murder-suicide.

That Rosen's "Gums control" article appeared a day after YET ANOTHER gun rampage up in Oregon would be --should be-- pure coincidence...

Remember:  Guns don't kill people.  It says so in the Constitution.  People who should not have guns kill people.

We can do nothing about those people.  We are, after all, as stupid as we are useless.  Cold dead hands and all that.

Competition

I'm pretty sure that everyone in America with a data plan on their cell phone is getting ripped off.  I know I am.  I'm paying more for phone and data on my cell phone than I've ever paid for similar (and superior!) landlined services, even back in the day when a DSL was cutting edge.

And I don't exactly get to vote with my feet since I'm locked into their two-year minimum contract.

Matt Yglesias, perceptive man that he is, notices as well:

Mobile phones have changed enormously over the past six years, but the mobile phone business model has not. You buy a magical device for practically nothing, then find yourself locked into a two-year contract with a baffling, shockingly expensive monthly bill. Not coincidentally, the companies that have led the smartphone revolution—Apple and Google—are consistently among the most admired in America while everybody hates Verizon and AT&T, the leading cellphone operators. The gadgets are great, the billing process is a nightmare.

He mentions this by way of noting that T-Mobile is going the other way:  no cheap or free devices with a lower monthly bill.

Having just re-signed my two-year contract with Sprint a few months ago, and thoroughly regretting the "free" phone I selected, I welcome this move.  I could have gotten a iPhone for a couple hundred bucks, but no....I went for free. 

And got a phone that is five years out of date and doesn't hold a charge for more than 12 hours. 

My choice is to pay out the nose for a new one, only to still be locked into Sprint's anti-competitive contract...or I can take the hit, pay the early cancellation fee, and sign up with the promotional plan for some other carrier.

Either way, I'm going to be out a couple hundred of bucks, even more so if I joined up with T-Mobile.  Short term....looks like I'm stuck with no good options.

But if T-Mobile's plan catches on, it could be good for everyone with a cell phone:

That’s why last week’s announcement is such a game-changer. By dropping the subsidy model entirely, T-Mobile is committing itself to marketing the virtues of honest billing practices. And by securing official Apple support for its network, T-Mobile will be able to compete head-to-head with the other players in terms of handset functionality. If high-end consumers realize what a better deal you can get with the nonsubsidized model, then ultimately AT&T and Verizon will have to start offering that option to compete.

Cell phone companies actually competing? Inconceivable!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Word is Out

Scammy businesspeople have heard that the Aurora city government just isn't very bright.  If they aren't trying to give away free land and tax breaks to out-of-state hotel chains, they're ready to pay $2.75 million for a property they assessed at $77,000. 

They were about to get out-maneuvered by a rich scam artist who sought to convince them they were going to save a little bit of money.

Step 1:  Build with asbestos

Step 2:  Abandon the building 28 years ago but continue to pay taxes on it

Step 3:  Wait until the property --minus your toxic, vacant building-- becomes valuable again

Step 4:  Sell it to the city for millions!

I don't envy the city their choices.  Apparently they can buy the property for $2.75 million and bear the costs of removing the asbestos-contaminated building themselves, or have scam artist guy knock the building down and pay $4 million for the empty lot.

This is one of those reasons why I could never be one of those free-market property-rights absolutists.  This guy can afford to pay taxes on a blighted property for a generation, without ever intending to do anything useful with it besides squeezing some suckers in the city government for millions. That's his right as the owner...but really?

The Fan Fare building has been depressing property values in that area longer than I've had hair on my balls and the city couldn't figure out a way to just come in and take it

Monday, December 10, 2012

Texas Hippie Coalition

While I tuned into KBPI to hear reactions to Nasty's departure, I inadvertently exposed myself to this band:  The Texas Hippie Coalition.

This isn't the song they played, but it's interesting for a couple of reasons.  For one, I love that they have a big bearded fat guy as the singer and that he's going to do all the rock star poses anyway. He has an interesting voice, too, part Oderus from GWAR, part Pete Steele from Type O Negative.  I also love the title of the song:  Pissed off and Mad About It.  (Twice as pissed!) 

The song's okay.  It has a nice groove, but for the most part only one gear.  Towards the end, though, the guy starts doing this throat singing thing that's straight out of Tuva. Talk about a Kargyraa moan.



This is the song I heard on the radio, which is okay too.  I really liked it at first, but then the first verse ended and the chorus started.  We went from musically and lyrically interesting to....meh.



We start here:

Little Sarah was from Texas
She was the preacher's daughter
She never practiced much of
Those things her father taught her

And end here:

C'mon, C'mon, C'mon, Turn it Up

Boring!

Friday, December 07, 2012

Hail Nasty Part 2

Driving home this morning, I tuned in to KBPI to hear Willie B choking up about Nasty's departure. He fought it off, but I think he did cry at one point.

He said Nasty/Willie/everyone didn't want anyone to boycott the station, which a lot of Facebook people threatened to do.

He said that 140 other jockeys around the country were fired, too, and it was a business decision.  Business.  Costs are going up, he said.  Electricity's going up like 264%!  (Yeah, he said it, but c'mon...)

The interesting thing, too, is that he said no one at the station knew about it until yesterday morning.  Corporate's been cooking this up for a while, but gotta love em...they spring it on them all secret-squirrel and sudden-like.

After cutting to a long-ass commercial break (don't have those on my iPod!), they played No Shelter by Rage Against the Machine.  It was....appropriate.



The main attraction distraction
Got you number than number than numb.
Empty your pockets son they got you thinkin' that
What you need is what they sellin'
Make you think that buyin' is rebellin'
From the theaters to malls on every shore
The thin line between entertainment and war
The front line is everywhere there'll be no shelter here

Such Pride!

This is something I'll never get...if you love being white so much, why mark up your whole body with racist tattoos?
This guy's not white. He's blue.

Hail Nasty

So I hear that Uncle Nasty, a staple of Denver radio for decades, was laid off from Clear Channel in a cost-cutting move. And hey, I get it. Live DJs are obsolete and the radio business isn't easy, not since Clear Channel done's their part to rule (or was it ruin?) the market. The last paragraph in this article cracked me up though:
On Wednesday, radio trade publications reported Moody’s analysts believe Clear Channel may have a tough time refinancing more than $10 billion in debt obligations due in 2016. Industry observers speculate that Clear Channel may have to consider a merger or a sell off of some of its assets. The company was acquired by Bain Capital in 2008.
There goes Bain again...creating jobs and improving industries.

Dan Simmons Being Dumb Again

This is what happens when a novelist mistakes himself for a real-life Nostradamus.
My speculative-fiction novel FLASHBACK, with its dystopian future of a debt-broken and politically/socially unraveled near future (2032) America, was based precisely on pursuing fictional premises to the aftermath of nations eagerly amassing unrepayable nation-breaking mountains of debt both here and in Europe.

The specific details of how and when the economic American "Big Crunch" occurred -- sometime in the 2010-2020 decade -- weren't spelled out in the novel. They're being spelled out right now in Obama's and the Democrats' eagerness to go over the 'fiscal cliff" and even permit that Frankenstein-monster-assembled obscenity, Sequestration, to occur so that, in Charles Krauthammer's phrasing, the Democrats can drive a stake through the GOP once and for all. Oh, and end Senate rules protecting the minority, the long tradition of filibuster, while you're at it. Oh, and turn vital government departments such as the Department of Justice and the EPA into political extensions of an Administration's grab for power and "fundamental change". Oh, and tax the national economy first into permanent doldrums and then into a sudden death spiral. Oh, and give the narrowly reelected american president Morsi-like excecutive powers of self-decree and extra-constitutional budget powers while you're at it. Oh, and . . .
Mercifully, Dan Simmons spares us any more "Oh ands." (I think it's because he couldn't think of any more.)

The funny thing --aside from the fact that Simmons thinks he's a seer instead of a storyteller-- is that it's the fiscal cliff that's going to kill us? And quoting Charles Krauthammer approvingly?

If that's where he's getting his information from, it's no wonder it's all garbage. Garbage in, garbage out.

Here's the thing about the "fiscal cliff." This is what it means: The Bush tax cuts expire, which they were designed to do when they were passed ten years ago, and with no budget deal or tax reform, already-agreed-to cuts will commence.

And despite the attempts to pin this on the Democrats, it should be said that this is exactly the scenario that Republicans wanted.

When they passed the Bush tax cuts, they knew they would expire in ten years time. Reasonable people asked why we should cut taxes in war time (and at the time, we hadn't yet invaded Iraq) but they were ignored. The Republicans said "So what?" to war-funding and promised cutting rich people's taxes would bring us all economic prosperity, and that sunset provision? Don't worry about it. We Republicans will be a permanent majority in 2012, so we'll just renew them.

(And how's that working out for you? For us?)

Turn out fighting unfunded wars is a good way to go broke. That we cut rich people's taxes and, within a few years, were in a Great Recession. And the permanent majority? They lost the presidency and the Senate last month. It's not even a majority at all.

Mad about "Frankenstein-monster-assembled obscenity, Sequestration?" Hey, I hear that. Unfortunately, the only way to get Republicans to agree to raising the debt ceiling last round was automatic austerity measures if debt talks failed.

It was an election year. Surprise, surprise. Debt talks failed. Republicans and Democrats refused to negotiate (both sides!) and instead held out hope that their guy would win, knowing the election outcome would dictate the policy direction.

It should go without saying that the Republicans did not win the election.

So what we have here is a Republican-designed trap that snared everybody, including the Republicans themselves. If the Bush tax cuts were such a great idea, why not make them permanent? If sequestration was such a bad deal, why demand it as a condition in negotiations on raising the debt ceiling?

It almost like Republicans intentionally do stupid shit that they can then blame on Democrats.

And hey, that's cute and all...but it hasn't really been working out, has it? They're not winning elections and their policies are not being enacted. All that's left at that point, I guess, is to retreat into fantasy, which Simmons has done with remarkable swiftness.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Everyone's a Critic

I am not, I swear, on a jihad against Alyssa Rosenberg.  I think she's a talented writer, just not a very good critic, and this post pretty much encapsulates why:
I skipped Black Rock at Sundance, even though I love The League‘s Kate Aselton, because it takes a lot to get me to watch a horror movie. The last one I watched was Drag Me To Hell, which I watched because it was about the mortgage crisis, and from which I learned that you should never foreclose on a powerful gypsy.
Two things a good critic should do is 1)  try to judge things on their own terms and 2) have an open mind.

For one, Drag Me to Hell was NOT "about the mortgage crisis."  If you haven't seen the movie, Drag Me To Hell is a fairly conventional horror movie about a gypsy curse, a gypsy curse which could have been for anything.   The denied mortgage loan (what gypsy has a mortgage anyway?)  was a plot device. 

But okay, mis-read Drag Me to Hell, fine...    But what's this "it takes a lot to get me to watch a horror movie" stuff?

Granted, I know a lot of people who steer clear of horror movies, or musicals, or foreign films, or any other genre or style or mode.  These people know what they like and what they want and they're reluctant to step outside their comfort zone.  There is nothing wrong with this approach.  Such an approach would describe lots of people.

But almost none of them are critics.

One thing a critic needs and the general public doesn't is an open mind.  In other words, don't cross entire genres off your list.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Best Pranks Ever

These videos had me laughing so hard no sound was coming out.  The guy hiding behind his backpack?  Hilarious.  But the guy who puts his fingers over his eyes and screams?  Oh man....


And then there's this one....oh man.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

A Contrast in Styles

This is how Americans protest things.

This is how European dairy farmers do it.

Seriously, click through to that slideshow.  You will see farmers hosing down cops and the parliament building with milk.  You'll see them blocking streets with their tractors.  You'll see them sling-shotting flares and starting tire fires.

You won't see them sitting on their asses.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Free Music Friday

My brother turned me on to Joe Bonamassa and someday I'll have all of his records.  For now, I've been digging his Live at Albert Hall and Driving Towards the Daylight, which has this song.  I liked it even before I knew Brad Whitford from Aerosmith is playing on it.



I've also been digging the new Grace Potter record, especially this song called Loneliest Soul, but I can't find a decent vid of that, so you're stuck with a cover version of Cortez the Killer.



And if you're mind isn't blown enough, check out this chick:  Ana Popovic, who used to be a little girl from Serbia who loved the blues.  Now she's a guitar goddess.  This song is kind of too smooth jazz-ish for my tastes, but I can admire the playing. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Permanent Underclass

It's useful to remember, I think, who is interested in filling your head with bullshit.  Now I'm not just talking about people who say something that is later proved to be wrong. I'm talking about the people who want you to believe incorrect things because you being stupid is somehow useful to them.  In the business world, such a thing would labeled a scam.

In the world of political commentary, it's a path to employment.

Take Michelle Malkin, who has no credibility outside right-wing propaganda outlets due to her writing style (tabloidy and derisive) and her general approach (towing the party line), but who is useful for making a point.

Witness:


In an article headlined "Walmart vs. the Thugs" with a sub-heading of "The retail giant has powerful adversaries," she writes:
Black Friday always brings out the worst: long lines, short tempers, and random outbreaks of shoppers’ rage. This year, Big Labor will ratchet up the Strikesgiving tension with professional grievance-mongers and workers picketing at 1,000 Walmart stores nationwide.
Attention, Walmart directors: Appeasement of a mob never works. Walmart has tried repeatedly to stave off union thuggery through political “partnerships” and capitulation. It has failed and failed and failed.
 Thuggery?  

Now I know it's just accepted without question on the right that "union = thug," but I don't think any rational person who is not a slave to their ideological biases can fairly describe an American labor union circa 2012 as "a powerful adversary" or that they employ all that much thuggery with their picket lines and peaceful protests.  

It's been a long slow climb to irrelevance for the unions, but according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unions represent under 7% of the country's workers, and the bulk of those are public sector workers.  Now if you're aligned with Michelle Malkin's view, you may be inclined to complain about this.  To you, public sector workers do no actual work.  They just bilk taxpayers... and the unions?  They help.

The problem, of course, is that public sector workers are indeed useful!  (Not all of them and not all the time, but this can be said about private companies, too, can't it?)  And if we don't want our public sector workers to organize into unions, maybe we should stop pretending we can do Furlough Fridays to make up for budget shortfalls.  Maybe we should stop pretending that we can increase work loads and slash pay. Maybe we should acknowledge that incentives aren't just for the executive class.

Nah....better to decry union thuggery and pretend that only good things come out of Wal-Mart's business model.   Seriously....to those who think Wal-Mart is an unalloyed good, I invite you to come to my neighborhood store.  The low prices will dazzle you....and the long lines at the checkout counter will drive you mad.  Thirty check-stands in the place, and only four are open, all of them manned by poorly-compensated, unmotivated employees who don't mind taking their time because, hey...they get paid by the hour and what can you do to them anyway?  They already work at Wal-Mart.

But back to the thug stuff.

Now I'm no expert on thugnaciousness....but I do think it's illustrative that many of the striking employees refuse to give their full names in media interviews, knowing that retaliation is not only possible but likely.  And yet, no one is afraid of the unlikely possibility of union retaliation.

It's anecdotal, but I have a friend who was bragging on Facebook about how her Dad made the news by yelling at the protestors from the safety of his van.  He did so, I suspect, because he knew there would be no consequences.

Those polite sign-holders would just take it.  They'd smile back and wave, maybe turn the other cheek and say, "Thank you, sir.  May I have another?"  They're not going to break his windshield or slash his tires.  They're not going to write down his license plate number and send Bruno and Vinnie over to bust his kneecaps.  Nope, Jimmy Hoffa's been gone for almost 40 years now. 

By the same token, do you think Wal-mart is going to hesitate in calling the police or that the police are going to hesitate in using force?  Hell, just this past week, Walmart workers choked a shoplifting suspect to death.  They killed a guy over a DVD player, that's how committed they are to a non-violent approach.

(Oh, I'm sure John Lennon would be proud about how politely the protesters disperse when the cops show up in riot gear, but that fucker's been gone almost as long as Jimmy Hoffa.  Imagine a world where your peace horseshit worked, John.)

I've been thinking a lot about this since my last post, worried I'm being too radical, worried that I'm a short and curly away from advocating a violent uprising or something.  But the more I think about it, the less worried I get.

The unions will never have access to the legitimate forces of violence.  Walmart can call the cops to kick protesters off private property, but the unions can't call the cops because Walmart cut their hours.  Try and steal a DVD player from the store, and you'll be detained and possibly killed.  But if Walmart cuts your wages, who are you going to call?

To me, it's pretty clear what's going on here:  The powerful have recourse, while the powerless have....nothing.  And while I do see how cleverly the powerful have arranged things to be so, I do not understand why the powerless acquiesce so slavishly to it.  Do they not realize such quiescence is one of the reasons they are powerless?

Me, I think it's pretty bold that the bulk of Walmart's profits go to the Walton family heirs, to the tune of billions.  It's claimed the six Walton heirs are worth as much almost 50 million US households.  Perfectly legal, but bold...especially when the company's compensation policies are so stingy.

The worker side needs to consider something just as bold, and since they (being the weak) will never have cover of the law, don't worry about it being the proper, decent thing to do.  I guess at the end of the day, these people need to ask what they want more:  to be right or to be respected?

Walmart doesn't always concern themselves with doing the right thing, but they make very sure that their rights are respected.   The workers should find some wisdom in that.  This is real life here, people. 

It's not fair.  The righteous do not always triumph. The strong will survive and the weak will perish.  It's law of the jungle time:  might makes right and woe to the conquered. They thought being nice would earn them some points, and what happens?  They get called thugs anyway.  Maybe it's time to earn the label. 

Make it so Michelle Malkin is afraid to give out her last name for fear of retaliation....

Saturday, November 24, 2012

From the "No Shit" Department

Saw this headline on Huff Post.  Part of me feels bad that the Walmart strike failed, but the other part of me is thinking, "Well, what'd you expect?"

I'm not going to defend Walmart's business practices, some of which are indefensible and some of which are awesome, but I do think we need to, as a society, recognize there are limits to what standing around holding signs can accomplish.

If it's important to keep order and you're willing to accept glacially slow, gradual change on a generational scale, by all means...hold your signs.  Just know that abortion is still legal, Mumia is still on death row, and the only people willing to give peace a chance are these sign-holding hippies with their good intentions and their activist bullshit.

If you want a sudden, jarring change --like say, a complete revision of Walmart's labor practices-- you gotta bring the pitchforks.

Now I'm not arguing for suicide bombers blowing up Black Friday sales or even roving mobs running through stores smashing merchandise. But if these protesters were harassing shoppers and blocking the doors and slashing tires in the parking lot and throwing rocks at the cops, how many people would be lining up for the cheap TVs at Walmart?

Not many, I'm guessing.

Forget Ghandi.  Forget Martin Luther King.  They were cut down by their enemies, only to come back as ghosts insubstantial as air.  Righteousness didn't save Jesus and he was supposedly a god.

No, remember Brennus the Gaul instead.  He sacked Rome back when it was a Hellenic backwater, and when the Romans complained about their ill treatment, Brennus drew his sword and said "Vae victis."

Woe to the conquered.

The protesters are already familiar with this concept, even if they don't realize they've been conquered.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Black Friday

I have no way of proving this, but I suspect that we are being scammed --yet again-- with Black Friday bullshit.  I mean, you can't really convince me that the pent-up demand for low prices that's unleashed in Wal-Marts and Best Buys all over the country is due to seasonal gift-giving. 

Here's an article that found that not all Black Friday "deals" are the year's lowest prices anyway.

Black Friday is a scam, America.  Don't be scammed.

The Unbearable Predictability of Mike Rosen

Mike Rosen, promoter of Ponzi schemes and reliable right-wing radio talker, on "Twinkienomics:"
Hostess had been in financial distress for some time, filing for bankruptcy in 2004 and again in 2009, at which time it was rescued from oblivion by a team of hedge fund and private equity investors. In January 2012, it filed for bankruptcy yet again, citing an operating loss of $341 million, declining market share and increases in uncontrollable costs for ingredients and fuels.

Even more crippling were counterproductive work rules, unsustainable labor costs and $2 billion in unfunded pension liabilities, the consequences of having to deal with no fewer than 12 different unions representing its employees.
Think about that, folks with brains.

Just think about it. Counterproductive work rules were, according to Mike Rosen, Ponzi-scheme promoter, even more crippling than multiple bankruptcies, a nine-figure operating loss, declining market share, and ingredient/fuel costs.

Sadly, the "counterproductive work rules" were part and parcel of the wage cuts demanded in the first bankruptcy. A lot of people have complained that the union drivers were prohibited from unloading their own trucks. At first glance, that sounds stupid.

But consider the circumstances. While Hostess was negotiating for wage cuts for the drivers, the drivers were negotiating with Hostess for work rules. They bargained. "Yes," the drivers said, "I will accept a pay cut, but you will have to get someone else to unload the trucks."

That's not stupid. That's reasonable. So stuff the "counterproductive work rules" nonsense. Hostess asked for them when they asked for a 30% pay cut.

Who wanted that trade-off? Not the unions...

I've already demonstrated in a previous post that the "unsustainable labor costs" stuff is abject nonsense. Hostess themselves created that problem by cutting wages to the point that no one wanted to work for them anymore. I'm sure there are other, better ways of making sure your labor costs are unsustainable, but this is a pretty good method.


You gotta love Rosen's devotion to right wing orthodoxy though.  He concludes with this:
Like so much of our society today, too many unionists have an entitlement mentality regarding their jobs, their pay and their benefits that exceeds the value they add to what they produce. They don't care about consumers, investors, management or taxpayers. Twinkienomics is a reality check.
Consider that, folks with brains.

Expecting to be paid for your labor, expecting your company to keep their promises, this is an "entitlement mentality."  I can't believe the Post continues to print this drivel.  It's not only factually wrong, it's offensive.

Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!  It's just another 40 hour work week for me, with no sleep and a family get together wedged in there somewhere.  I don't mind too much.  I'm a big boy.

What I mind are the dummies I had to talk to tonight. I spent fifteen minutes trying to help two different people locate a power cable.  My mind reels whenever this happens.  I simply cannot understand how locating a power cable can be difficult.

Reading and interpreting the event logs, configuring the operating system, mapping out the network routing ...that's the complicated stuff.  Unplugging and plugging in a computer?  That's basic, man.  Basic. 

This is precisely why I want a career change.  Someone needs to guide these know-nothings along, but who said it had to be me?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Hostess

Last week it was announced that Hostess would shut down and their brands would be liquidated.  Eighteen thousand people would lose their jobs and Twinkies will go away for a while before coming back made by Mexicans working for Bimbo.

It's a sad story, made sadder that this company has been in and out bankruptcy (mostly in) since 2004.  Of course, the usual suspects blamed the unions for rejecting the company's generous(?) offer of a 30% pay cut, this on top of the pay cuts the unions already agreed to.

It's cute and everything, and it fits well with a certain Romnian worldview, but it's wrong.  For one thing, that denies the traditional role between management and labor.  Labor does the work.  Management makes the decisions.  We can't blame the truck drivers and the bread cutters and the Twinkie fillers for management's failure to balance the books after nearly a decade, even with onerous work rules.

But consider this, from Jacobin magazine:
In a piece for Salon, Jake Blumgart interviewed a bakery worker who had been at the company for 14 years. “In 2005, before concessions I made $48,000, last year I made $34,000…. I would make $25,000 in five years if I took their offer. It will be hard to replace the job I had, but it will be easy to replace the job they were trying to give me.

What we have here is a situation where a company offered a wage in the marketplace and couldn’t get any workers to accept it. Consequently, it went out of business. The word “competitive” gets thrown around a lot, often with the murkiest of meanings, but in this case there can be no doubt at all that a company, Hostess, was unable to pay a competitive wage. Ninety-two percent of its workers voted to walk out on their jobs rather than accept its wage, and they stayed out even after they were told it was the company’s final offer.
By all the canons of competitiveness, it was the company that was deluded. Hey, it’s a tough labor market out there. Hostess just couldn’t compete.
So while I can understand why people of a certain ideological bent are eager to blame the union's refusal to accept a pay cut as the final dagger in the heart of a beloved company, it's just not the case.

Fact is, if the company hadn't been able to collectively bargain for the first round of paycuts, their inability to pay their workers would have been apparent much, much earlier. Thanks to the unions, the company got everyone to say yes to a pay cut. If the company had to bargain individually with workers, it's entirely possible --guaranteed, even?-- that a sizable percentage of the workforce would say no and leave the company on their own accord.

So while it sucks that these guys are losing their jobs, there is a huge silver lining. Short-term, they're unemployed right before the holidays.

In the long run, though, they now have the opportunity to seek better employment at well-managed firms, which --and perhaps this doesn't need to be said--is better for their long-term prosperity than taking yet another pay cut to prop up a company run by nincompoops.

As the wise man said, better to die on your feet than live on your knees.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Fell in Love With A Girl

I fell in love this weekend.

I went to a ranch supply store in Westminster with my brother, niece, and a family friend.  I wanted to look at the Levis, so me and my niece went over to the clothes.  A very attractive employee asked if I needed any help.

I didn't, not really, but like a sitcom character, I decided to pretend to be helpless.  I let her give me a guided tour of the jeans, then we made our way over to the boots.  My niece wanted to try on some "cute shoes," so with the help of this fine store employee, we tried on every boot on the shelf, settling (of course) on the pink ones.

Back to the jeans.  At this point, I had monopolized this girl's time for a good twenty minutes, growing more attracted to her with each passing minute.  The purple feather earrings?  Loved them.  The glasses and slightly crooked teeth?  So endearing.  She had the cutest smile, which came easily at all my jokes.  The way she filled her jeans?  Glorious.

I started to wonder...Does this girl like me?  Is she picking up on the fact like that I like her?  How can I steer this conversation from "How does this whole shrink-to-fit thing work?" to "How would you like to get some dinner?"

Alas, the uncertainty got to me.   I couldn't tell if the girl was giving me a vibe...or just excellent customer service.  (Either way, she was a ten!)   I also suspected that she was young, much too young for this 36 year old.  As it turns out, I did not make a pass at her.

And good call, too.  I looked her up on Facebook when I got home.  (Don't sneer.  That's not creepy.)

She graduated high school last year.  Doh!

Corporations Are People, My Friends

Ezra Klein, making sense on the Papa John's Obamacare strategy:
Businesses try to cut costs. One way they do that is by skimping on employee pay and benefits. The Affordable Care Act, at least in the short-term, will raise costs on businesses that have pursued that particular cost-cutting strategy. 
I love that Klein used the word "skimping" here. Of course, the fast food industry doesn't just skimp on employee pay and bennies.  They skimp on pretty much everything that has to do with their business, with the exception of marketing.  If it weren't for the marketing, Big Macs would have to sell themselves.

Have you ever had a Big Mac?  They do not sell themselves... 
As Slate’s Matt Yglesias has noted, that makes the Affordable Care Act an intervention on a particularly worrying change in the economy. In recent years, corporate profits, measured as a percentage of the U.S. economy have been hitting record highs, even as the share of those profits that go to workers have hit record lows.
Once you understand that, it's a little harder to go along with the "corporations are people" line of argument.  At best, it's a crude oversimplification.  Corporations aren't so much people as they are two distinct classes of people.

You have the makers, who do the work...and the takers, who pocket the profit.  (Rimshot!)  I kid, I kid.

More Klein:
The health-reform law won’t reverse that trend, but for the businesses that are doing the most to drive it — the ones that have cut costs and boosted profits by paying their workers very little and refusing to offer them decent health insurance — the Affordable Care Act will force them to contribute a bit more toward their workers’ health care or raise their prices. And if they choose the latter route, then fine: It levels the playing field between them and their competitors who haven’t taken a low-road approach to paying their workers. That gives pizza companies that do pay their employees well a slightly better position in the marketplace than they have today.

That won’t make Papa John’s feel better, and it shouldn’t. The Affordable Care Act isn’t helpful to their business strategy. Rather, it’s helpful to the business strategies of companies that have sought success by paying their workers good wages, giving them reasonable benefits, and delivering a higher quality product. Which should make us feel better.

Yes! He gets it. The low-pay/crappy product model is a choice, and a not very helpful one. Time to choose a better way, America.

Speaking of...that clown who promised to add a 5% Obamacare surcharge to the customer's of his various Denny's restaurants? He's backing down now after talking to the Denny's CEO.
"While we respect the decision of an independent business owner to speak out on this or other topics and express their personal views, his statements do not capture the respect by Denny’s, the Denny’s Franchisee Association or our franchise community at large for our hardworking employees or for our valued customers," John Miller, CEO of Denny's Corp., said in a statement.
Good call, Mr. Miller.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Nice Try, Mr. McCain

John McCain has been one of the more vocal critics attacking the President's handling of the Benghazi attacks.  Provided the opportunity to attend a closed-door Congressional hearing on the subject, McCain skipped it!

So some free advice for anyone tempted to listen to McCain on the subject:  He literally doesn't know what he's talking about. 

Ignore him.

Nice Try, Mr. Jindal

Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana, wrote an op-ed for CNN the other day. Much of it is a breath of fresh air, but some of it is the same old claptrap.

For instance, the good stuff:
2. Compete for every single vote. The 47% and the 53%. And any other combination of numbers that adds up to 100 percent.
Good idea. Should have stopped there, and not said this:
President Barack Obama and the Democrats can continue trying to divide America into groups of warring communities with competing interests, but we will have none of it. We are going after every vote as we try to unite all Americans.
Sorry, Bobby, but it's your guys who have been playing the "divide America" game.

From Sarah Palin's "real Americans" bullshit to Mitt Romney's "47%" myth. Obama has been consistently repeating for years the old canard "We're not blue states and red states, we're the United States."

 If you want to "unite all Americans" drop the finger pointing. Other than that, good start.

Make It Stop

Why am I not surprised? Alyssa Rosenberg writes about Kerry Washington's show Scandal and discovers....
Alyssa Rosenberg explores how ABC’s “Scandal” mishandles women in Washington and female political power.
Of course it does...

 I can't comment on the substance of the post because, well, I didn't bother reading all of it and to make matters worse, I'm not familiar with the show. I just think if you spend all your time looking for all the myriad ways TV shows "fail women," you're going to find them.

That's not to say that TV shows routinely fail women, just that maybe you shouldn't be looking for that shit.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Asshole

This guy:
While some business owners threaten to cut workers' hours to avoid paying for their health care, a West Palm Beach, Fla., restaurant owner is going even further. John Metz said he will add a 5 percent surcharge to customers' bills to offset what he said are the increased costs of Obamacare, along with reducing his employees' hours.
His justification:
"If I leave the prices the same, but say on the menu that there is a 5 percent surcharge for Obamacare, customers have two choices. They can either pay it and tip 15 or 20 percent, or if they really feel so inclined, they can reduce the amount of tip they give to the server, who is the primary beneficiary of Obamacare," Metz told The Huffington Post. "Although it may sound terrible that I'm doing this, it's the only alternative. I've got to pass the cost on to the consumer."
No, dude...it's not your "only alternative." You can be one of those "jobs creators" that doesn't fuck over his employees.

But no, like the Pizza Hut lady, this guy sees only two options: Screwing the customer...or his employees.

I mean, it's cute and everything, but seriously this shit needs to stop. Have some respect for the people who make you your living. Is that too much to ask?

This, I think, is more revealing than the guy intended:
Despite the one-two hit his employees might take with possibly fewer hours and lower tips, Metz said he is not anti-insurance. His current coverage for full-time employees costs him $5,000 to $6,000 annually, he said. "Obviously, I'd love to cover all our employees under that insurance," he said, "But to pay $5,000 per employee would cost us $175,000 per restaurant, and unfortunately, most of our restaurants don't make $175,000 a year. I can't afford it."
You can't afford it? It's really going to suck when your employees cannot afford to continue working for you.

Then what? Take the Mexicans out of the kitchen and put them out front?

I swear, man, the older I get, the less tolerant I am of the lazy, greedy fuckers who run fast food empires, for many reasons. They refuse to serve quality food, refuse to fairly compensate their workers, and these places are everywhere.

To me, this commitment to crap from our fast food industry is a serious national problem on so many levels. We have unclean, poorly managed restaurants staffed by low-wage employees serving non-nutritious and bad-tasting food that comes from inhumane and environmentally suspect factory farms. It's a problem.

We Dodged a Bullet, America

After losing the election, Romney is still talking to wealthy donors, still lying:
"What the president, president's campaign did was focus on certain members of his base coalition, give them extraordinary financial gifts from the government, and then work very aggressively to turn them out to vote," Romney said in the afternoon call, according to audio aired on ABC News.

Romney, who lost to Obama by 126 electoral votes, said the president courted voters by offering policies - some of them this election year - that appealed to key constituencies.

"With regards to the young people, for instance, a forgiveness of college loan interest, was a big gift," Romney said, according to The New York Times.

"Free contraceptives were very big with young college-aged women," he continued. "And then, finally, Obamacare also made a difference for them, because as you know, anybody now 26 years of age and younger was now going to be part of their parents' plan, and that was a big gift to young people. They turned out in large numbers, a larger share in this election even than in 2008."
So let's review...forgiveness of college loan interest, "free" contraceptives, and Obamacare.

One policy is forward-looking. One should not spend one's working life paying off their education debt. It's not indentured servitude, but it's close.

The contraception thing is a lie. Including contraception in someone's insurance plan doesn't make it free any more than including flu shots in their insurance plan makes that free. I think, by definition, if I'm paying for something, then that shit ain't free.

And the young people on their parents' insurance plans? Oh, what a gift!

The funny thing is that rather than eschew the gift-promising, Romney was doing it too. And in a more generous, less helpful way, too.

I guess what I'm saying is that if you're promising to give rich people a tax cut, then you can't complain about someone else promising to forgive the interest on a student loan.

The Rosenberg Project

I've kind of made a hobby of slamming on Alyssa Rosenberg here on my blog, and I feel kind of bad about it.  Sometimes.

Other times, it's wholly deserved.  Take this item on Mindy Kaling's new show, headlined: 

Why ‘The Mindy Project’ Is As Big A Mess As Its Heroine’s Love Life

As soon as I saw that, I knew exactly what complaints she would make.  The male characters are too...male.  The female characters are bad representatives for their gender.  Women's issues are neglected.  Blah blah blah.  You know, the whole "socialist realism" bullshit wherein all art and entertainment must advance the goals and aspirations of "the Movement."

I mean, I knew --knew-- that Rosenberg wouldn't react well to the character of Danny Castellano.  He's too much of a cad, too obnoxious, too recognizably male.  That insecurity masking itself as confidence?  That "I say hurtful things to dull my inner pain?"  It's so familiar to me as "things guys do" that it's easy to forget the character was written by a woman, a woman -- I submit-- more familiar with and understanding of the male psyche than Rosenberg is on her best day.

Take this:
In the pilot, for example, Danny told Mindy, in a line laced with some real ugliness, that if she really wanted to look nice for a date that she should lose 15 pounds.
And yes, in the aforementioned scene, it was part of some back and forth argumentative banter, but "real ugliness?" C'mon, man.

The joke was that Danny was trying to be helpful, but that he just sucks at it.  And are we supposed to believe that fictional Mindy did not wake up that morning, step on the fictional scale, looked into the fictional mirror, and thought to herself that she needed to lose fifteen fictional pounds?  Deep down, she agrees with Danny, and for the very same reasons. Me, I think it's a pretty bold choice --writing-wise-- to give Danny the opportunity to say what Mindy is thinking. 

Not only does it establish Danny's character as an insensitive male, it creates conflict within the scene, and it leaves open the intriguing possibility that they're both wrong, that they both need to stop being so damn shallow.

Much easier to dismiss all that stuff and just focus on the man calling the woman fat.

Missed completely in Rosenberg's criticism is a scene from this week's episode.  The morning after a romantic encounter with her love interest, Mindy wears his shirt in the morning.   It's so cute and charming, the post-coital woman wearing the post-coital man's shirt.

But when he comes in wearing her pants, too short at the ankles, too wide at the hips, it's most definitely NOT cute and NOT charming.  Indeed, she's somewhat offended by it.  That not only struck me as a realistic reaction, it also seemed like an interesting commentary on the equality of the sexes, or lack thereof. 

Rather than appreciate that kind of subtlety, Rosenberg is too busy checking off boxes on her politically correct worksheet.  I don't think I would feel comfortable writing this sentence, and not only because I have a penis:
But that total disinterest in actual women’s health pervades the show.
Why would any rational person expect it to grapple with actual women's health?   It's a comedy set in a doctor's office.  I can't tell if Rosenberg wants to see a "very special episode," superficially dealing with weighty subjects like the sitcoms of the 80s, or if she would prefer the show be a self-serious ripped-from-the-headlines drama.

And does it really matter?  Rosenberg has demonstrated time and again that she prefers to view fictional characters as representatives of a particular class, race, or gender rather than representatives of a particular personality type.  That's a critic's luxury.

People who have actually created a character knows that's a recipe for two-dimensional cardboard characters that interest no one. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Some Nights and One Foot

I've really been digging that new record from fun, the short-pants wearing band that doesn't capitalize their name.  Their style of music is not normally my thing, but I like it.  The layered, anthemic vocals are awesome and it sounds good.  I can even appreciate the singer's sometimes oversharing lyrics.  He doesn't just get personal, he gets specific.

The fashion thing...yeah, okay.  I mean, I'm not one to talk.  I only started wearing cowboy boots six months ago.

But the short pants?  The "I will wear my sleeves rolled?"  (Do I dare eat a peach?)  Um, no....

But these songs...man, they're good.

There's this one called One Foot.  I had this one echoing in my ears all night.  And I don't mean this to sound pejorative, but I got a very gay vibe off this one.   It's in the second verse, which includes the awesome line:

I will die for my own sins, thanks a lot.



And then there's this one.  Endure the indulgent first few minutes and ponder the Civil War motif.  I did at first.  But then listen to the music.  It's worth it.


Good Work, David Frum

Criticizing the"Conservative Bubble," David Frum writes:
It will be a great first step when conservatives insist upon accurate political information. But the job cannot be considered finished until conservatives reject media that feed them false information about public policy as well.

Good Work, Matt Yglesias

Republicans are in a contemplative mood since basically losing the 2012 election cycle. This idea that they need to reform their party platform seems to be (finally) sinking in. Here's Matt Yglesias commenting on some of Bobby Jindal's ideas about how the GOP will change:
Republicans would like to win more elections but don't want to change their policies, so they're eager for a candidate who has "new ideas" but no new ideas.
I highlight both this quote and the Weigel one below because I think it hints that the GOP is going to have a hard time conning the country in the foreseeable future.

There was a big 30 year stretch when it was easy. Sell weapons to the Iranians? Blame Ollie North. Monica Lewinsky's dress, Saddam's WMD, the birth certificate. It's been one con after another.

But we're onto them.

Good Work, Dave Weigel

Read this Dave Weigel story for some further info on the Petraeus affair story, but more than that, read it for this glorious paragraph:
Why did the agent take this story to Republicans? According to the New York Times, the agent had an unspecified “worldview” that led him to suspect “a politically motivated cover-up to protect President Obama.” As of today, he’s totally alone in that. Republicans don’t want to speculate about the Petraeus scandal. They resent that it’s coming up. They want to focus on the Sept. 11 killings in Benghazi—which they fear has been covered up in a politically motivated plot to protect President Obama.
Did you catch that? Read it again.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Carry On

I saw these guys on Saturday Night Live and I dunno...I don't like their pants, their shirts, or their haircuts, but I do like their music.

Oh wait...he's wearing an old school Nuggets jersey in one shot.  I do like that shirt.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Cool Shit Found on the Internet

I'm probably the only person on the planet who would think this was cool, but check this headline:


Cuauhtemoc Medina Wins Hopps Award

 

It's an unusual name, yes, but the cool thing (to me) is that it's a Nahuatl (ie, Aztec) name.

Indeed, Cuauhtemoc was the last ruler of the Aztecs ever before their final defeat at the hands of Cortes and his conquistadors.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Blade Runner

I've known since the "Director's Cut" that Ridley Scott always intended to hint that Harrison Ford's character in Blade Runner was an android.  I never got why, though.

It's all about that damn unicorn.

In one scene, Ford's Deckard is falling asleep and has a dream about a unicorn.  It's not really important to know why he's dreaming of a unicorn or what the unicorn represents.  Just know he's dreaming about a unicorn.

Throughout the movie, he is "handled" (in a CIA kind of way, as opposed to a Catholic priest kind of way) by a cop played by Edward James Olmos.  His character speaks a pidgin language and is strangely fond of making little origami figures and leaving them around.  It's not really important to know why he makes origami figures.  Just know that he makes them.

At the very end of the movie, after the unicorn dream, after tracking down and killing all the rogue replicants, Harrison Ford is leaving his apartment with his replicant girlfriend and finds a tiny little unicorn origami figure in the hall.

You see, the unicorn dream wasn't a dream at all.  It was a memory implant.  And that unicorn origami figure in the hallway was just Edward James Olmos's way of saying, "I know you were implanted with a unicorn dream."

Makes sense, right?

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Hard To Take Ya Seriously

When you're writing stuff like this:
Johnson’s success shows that Americans are interested in what the GOP has always said it stood for but never delivered on: A government that stays out of the boardroom and out of the bedroom.
Johnson got a little over 1% of the vote.

A curious definition of "success," innit?

(And, seriously, when did the GOP say it was going to stay out of the bedroom?)

Disgraceful

Brendan Behan once wrote: "I have never seen a situation so dismal that a policeman couldn't make it worse."

That quote came to mind when I read about this story.

If you're handcuffing and arresting 60-year-old ladies because they spoke for more than three minutes.....you're doing it wrong!

Good Riddance

Linked for one reason and one reason only....ridicule:
I've soured on electoral politics given what happened last night. I believe now the best course of action is outright revolt. What do I mean by that?

Well, to each his own. Some may choose to push secession in their state legislatures. Others may choose to leave the U.S. for good (Costa Rica, Switzerland, Italy, Argentina, Hong Kong, Israel). Still others may want to personally separate themselves from the United States here in North America while still living under communist rule' the Glenn Beck, grab your guns, food storage, build bunkers, survivalist route. I heartily endorse all these efforts.

However, for me, I'm choosing another rather unique path; a personal boycott, if you will. Starting early this morning, I am going to un-friend every single individual on Facebook who voted for Obama, or I even suspect may have Democrat leanings. I will do the same in person. All family and friends, even close family and friends, who I know to be Democrats are hereby dead to me. I vow never to speak to them again for the rest of my life, or have any communications with them. They are in short, the enemies of liberty. They deserve nothing less than hatred and utter contempt.
Two words, man...grow up. I'd almost prefer this guy run off to Costa Rica with his tail between his legs than this "I'll just be a dick" method.

This is exactly why I will NEVER be a Libertarian and will argue with them endlessly. It has been my experience that while Libertarians make faint noises about freedom, their primary motivation is a distorted sense of their own superiority.

 Listen to this guy call other people "the enemies of liberty" even as he hangs a big "NO DEMOCRATS" sign around his life. 

Are we supposed to mourn this or something?  Cry out in horror?  Please....you're doing us a favor.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Tears of Importent Rage


I don't mean to gloat, but c'mon...you would think Obama's re-election would convince some folks on the right that they need to re-think their approach.

But no, I log into Facebook and see on Uncle Jim's wall (in response to Jim's all too reasonable call for unity) some guy complaining that Obama's Marxism is going to turn the US into a third world country.

To me, that shit is absurd on its face. I have serious doubts that this guy --and I don't know him-- can describe Marxism much less offer a cogent critique of it, but he heard Obama was a Marxist on some radio show, knows Marxism is evil, and so here he is, fecklessly repeating it on Facebook and wondering why everyone else isn't just accepting it as credulously as he did.

And why should we? Over the last ten years, people on the right have grown all too comfortable with lying:   lying to each other, lying to themselves, lying about other people.

Remember when Saddam Hussein had WMD?  Remember when John McCain said "The fundamentals of economy are strong," even though we're still dealing with a massive recession years later.

Remember when they said Obama was born in a foreign country?  Remember when climate change was a hoax?  When allowing gay people to serve openly in the military or get married would destroy "traditional America?"

You go down the list and it's been wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong pretty much the whole way down. But no one on the right seems to notice and if they do, they don't care.

Uncle Jim's original Facebook post about unity was spot on.  But then later, he said in response to the "Marxist Third World" guy that he was "right on the money."

No, man.  That shit is so far off the mark, it's not even funny.  It's actually embarrassing.  How's that saying go?  "Better to have people think you're a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt."

I have to say...I don't think Obama won re-election on Tuesday due to the strength of his first term.  I think he won re-election on Tuesday due to the weakness of his opposition.  Did they really think 4 years of birtherism and crying socialism at every turn was going to help them?

Sorry, guys, there aren't enough stupid people in the world and sooner or later you have to deliver the goods.  If you say Iraq had WMD, then they better have WMD.  If you say the president was born in Kenya, then he better have been born in Kenya.  If you say climate change is a hoax or that people in the military are not mature enough to serve alongside gays or that raped women can terminate pregnancies through intrauterine chemistry, then you better make sure that shit turns out to be true.

If you don't want people to laugh at you, that is. 

Yes We Can? Yes, Weed Id

In addition to giving our electoral votes to Barack Obama (your welcome), Colorado also legalized marijuana for recreational use. Medical marijuana is and always was a sham towards that end and, well.....I guess it worked!

This, I did not know: 
 The elimination of penalties for possessing up to an ounce of marijuana (if you are 21 or older) takes effect right away in both states. But the provisions allowing commercial production and sale of cannabis for recreational use require regulations that will be written during the next year. The Washington Liquor Control Board has until December 1, 2013, to adopt regulations for marijuana growers, wholesalers, processors, and retailers. The deadline in Colorado, where cannabis businesses will be overseen by the state Department of Revenue, is July 1, 2013. Colorado's law, unlike Washington's, also allows home cultivation of up to six plants and nonprofit transfers of up to an ounce, so Colorado pot smokers will have an immediate state-legal source of marijuana.
I had a "red card" for a year, and while I did get it so I could go to the weed store, I also intended to get some clones. I never did, though. Might have to reconsider.

The Election

Told ya Obama would win....

Not only am I glad that the next four years will not be about abortion and gay marriage and invading Iran, but I'm glad that Mitt Romney's political career is over.

I'm sure he's a great guy.  But politically.....something to be discouraged.

Daniel Larison, writing at the American Conservative, explains why:
Traditional conservatives can’t celebrate Obama’s re-election, but they certainly shouldn’t be disconsolate over Romney’s loss, either. Romney represented almost everything that was wrong, misguided, and self-destructive in the Republican Party and the conservative movement. His defeat is a good outcome for the cause of peace and liberty in the country as a whole and within the Republican Party. The public rejected a candidate of fathomless cynicism and dishonesty, and that has to be greeted as a small, encouraging sign that there are still some things that Americans won’t tolerate in their leaders. Very few candidates have deserved to lose an election as richly as Romney deserved to lose this one.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Super Diamond

Saturday night I saw a couple of tribute bands bring down the house at the Ogden Theater, first the U2 tribute Under a Blood Red Sky and then the Neil Diamond tribute Super Diamond. I have to say...there is no shame in being in a tribute band, especially if you bring the thunder.

Pick the right band and your audience will be full of beautiful women. I've been to rock shows full of hairy dudes and their unlucky girlfriends. This was way cooler.

I wasn't as familiar with Neil Diamond's work as I thought I was. My brother said this was my song:


I can see his point, but this one speaks to me more:


I dunno know what it is, but my chair just will not listen.

Funny part of the night, which I wish I would have got on video, was when my brother went down to the front of the stage and had a little moment with Fake Bono.  He just went down to take some pictures and a minute later Fake Bono's singing to him and throwing him high fives...

It was funny.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Surveillance Camera Man



Pure brilliance.

Earth Rocker

New Clutch album.....coming next year.

That's going to be a long wait, man.

Scary Thought

There was guy on CNN, some expert talking about the storm damage in NYC, and he said something like (paraphrasing) "The city is going to have to be redesigned." And it occurred to me that he's probably right.

Horror Writers of the 90s

I have not yet finished reading Kathe Koja's The Cipher, though my Kindle informs me that I have 13% left.  Hate to say it, but I no longer care what --if anything-- happens and I no longer care if I've wasted my time.

I'm pretty sure that I did.

But I did go ahead and splurge on a bunch of eBooks from other horror writers I used to read back in the day, writers like F. Paul Wilson, Ray Garton, Richard Christian Matheson and David J. Schow.  Prior to the digital book revolution (which I am slowly coming around to) their books were hard to find, you know, from being long out of print, released by small houses, or various other 20th Century problems.

It's almost like they said to themselves, "If I re-release my old stuff, maybe that 15 year old kid who read it in 91 will want to buy it again a week before his 36th birthday."   Maybe.....

At any rate, I have been enjoying this stuff way more than I've enjoyed the best (?) parts of The Cipher

First allow me to provide you a small taste of what you will read in the Cipher, plucked randomly from the page I'm currently on:
"I did my best to ignore them all, sat finishing my meal: a warm ginger ale, chewy antique saltines, and raisins, a little red box of raisins and my eyes filled with quick and stupid tears: I remembered eating them in my lunch at school, saving the box to prop on my desk and pretend the Sun Maid was winking at me.  As I thought this the little face on the box came alive, melted like living wax to become Nakota's, complete with her customary impatient sneer, the basket she held filled not with grapes but tiny skulls."
Pages and pages of this kind of thing, elaborate descriptions of head and bodyaches, needless details on the horrible thing he's eating, and this horrible Nakota character.  Ugh.  She's so unpleasant that only a female writer could get away with creating her.

Not my thing....

This, the first lines of David J. Schow's story The Shaft, is more my speed:
I made it to the rail just in time to watch Chiquita destroy an aluminum umbrella table, face-first, five stories below the balcony on which I stood.  She missed the pool by a good ten feet.
Oh man, a breath of fresh air! It's coherent, vivid, and concise. It's even kind of funny, in a twisted way. Not a single word is wasted. Not a single extraneous detail is added. Koja's writing is often vivid, too...but --I'm sorry-- a vivid description of a woman splattering in an "aluminum umbrella table" is simply more interesting than a vivid description of "chewy antique saltines."

Friday, November 02, 2012

Shill...or Hack?

Conor Friedersdorf nails it with this:

America is filled with people who think its okay to lie, bullshit, or otherwise misrepresent the truth in order to advance the electoral prospects of a politician or the cause of a governing coalition. Let's call them shills. Other people aren't necessarily aware that they're misrepresenting the truth, but their work is so shaped by what would advance the causes of a candidate or governing coalition that it's often indistinguishable from the shills. We'll call them hacks. In a better world, journalists would be sworn enemies of shills and hacks, and the best are. Unfortunately, the press, especially the political press, has more than its share of shills and hacks.
It came to mind when I read this nonsense from Michael Medved.

In a sense, the recent media mantra about Chris Christie “rescuing” or “saving” the Obama campaign reflects the same sense of desperation about the president’s prospects. Why would a confident, successful chief executive who has masterfully concluded his triumphant term ever require rescue from the boisterous governor of New Jersey?
I can't tell if Medved is being a hack or just a shill.  Much has been made of Chris Christie's embrace of Obama, parsing the electoral prospects.  What does this mean for the election?

I dunno...probably nothing.  But I think it's interested that Medved portrays Obama as the desperate one and Christie as the savior.  It's cute and everything, but really??

Look at this photo:
Considering what you've seen on the news about how Sandy rearranged the state of New Jersey, do you think it's accurate to characterize the interaction between these two men as a desperate Obama coming to Christie for election help?  Is that's what's happening in this picture?

I submit that Christie is desperate for Obama's help and for more important reasons than electoral politics.

I do love this though:
Nevertheless, Republicans look and sound notably more energized and exuberant than their Democratic counterparts as they swagger with self-assurance toward the electoral finish line.
This seems to be true. There does seem to be a lot of swagger and self-assurance.   Yesterday I saw a Juggalo-sized. Romney window decal on a car.  But swagger and self-assurance can only take you so far.

Eventually you have to deliver the goods, and in this case..... it's the votes.  It appears that will not occur:

I suspect Republicans are going to swagger and self-assure themselves into a loss.  And they will have hack/shill Michael Medved cheering them along to their doom.  Good job, guys.

(And seriously, guys, the Bush years taught us that you need more than swagger.  Why is this lesson not sinking in?)

The Regulator

If you want to do yourself one favor today, listen to this song. C'mon. Five minutes. It won't kill ya.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Headline of the Day

Comes courtesy of Matt Yglesias in response to Romney's food drive for Sandy victims:

If Mitt Romney Wants To Help Hurricane Victims, He Should Donate Some Of His Vast Fortune

Too clever by half, Matt!  Says Matt:
 Mitt Romney has a boatload of money—specifically an estimated $250 million in wealth. Not only that, but Romney's campaign and GOP-aligned groups are poised to spend tens of millions of dollars on television advertising in the final week of the campaign. A candidate who genuinely wanted to sacrifice some campaign opportunities in order to help people would take some of that money and give it to storm relief charities rather than spend it on TV ads. 
Yes, makes sense. But "Mitt Romney" and "genuine" do not belong in the same sentence. This is a guy who, at 65 years old, dyes his hair to make it look like he's just now starting to go gray. Look, there's only one thing that Mitt Romney "genuinely wants to sacrifice." And that's the country, sacrificed for another rich man's tax cut.

Posted Now For Future Reference

We all know I laugh at Libertarians and argue with conservatives. In 2012, Libertarians are "most likely to believe untrue things" and conservatives are "most likely to say untrue things." It's a problem, but it's not my problem.

Here is a symposium of who Reason Magazine's contributors are voting for.

Summary: If they're voting, they break for Gary Johnson. (Indeed, Johnson gets only a few more votes than "No one.")

Here is a symposium of who The American Conservative's contributors are voting for.

This one is a bit more diverse, with some endorsing Romney, some endorsing Obama, a few endorsing Johnson, and some doing the whole "I'm not voting thing." There's even a few "write-in for Paul" votes.

This tells me a few things:

1) Support for Romney is tepid, at best. He will no doubt get the "Team Republican" votes, and many right-leaning voters will naturally prefer him to Obama. But I'm getting a very Gore/Kerry loser vibe here, with support but little enthusiasm.

2) Libertarians have a very inflated sense of their own importance. (Shocker, I know, huh?) They've been talking up Gary Johnson for years, all the way back to when he was governor of New Mexico. They wanted him to win the GOP nomination, even though the GOP wouldn't even let him participate in the debates. Now he's on a Presidential ballot and will no doubt garner some votes.

Very few of them....

In 2008, the Libertarian candidate --also a former Republican-- Bob Barr got 523,713 votes. (It was less than half a percentage of the total vote.) Not to sniff, because that's a lot of people, but it's statistically insignificant.

John McCain lodged 59,934,814 votes, literally over a thousand times more votes than the Libertarian candidate.

I suspect Johnson may do marginally better than (the embarrassing) Bob Barr but even if he doubles the 2008 vote, he will still have attracted a little over a million people.

In a country of over 300 million people.

After a months-long election season.

No matter how you cut it, Gary Johnson is not popular, not a viable candidate, not even a viable protest vote. In other words, he's the perfect candidate for a political movement that's also not popular, has no viable governing philosophy, and lives in protest of the 99% of this country who have a different opinion.

Check Gary Johnson's vote totals next week.  And then weigh Libertarian commentary accordingly.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Charging For Wireless Versus Wireless Charging

You know you're too tainted by capitalism when you see a headline that says "Starbucks Tests Wireless Mobile Charging in 17 Stores" and you think, the rip-off never ends, does it?  

See, I thought they were going to start charging, you know, money for wireless mobile, but no....they're talking about wireless charging, as in, charging your devices with no cords. Which instantly takes that story from "They'll fleece ya for everything" territory to "Wow, that's pretty cool."