Words of Advice:

"Never Feel Sorry For Anyone Who Owns an Airplane."-- Tina Marie

"
If Something Seems To Be Too Good To Be True, It's Best To Shoot It, Just In Case." -- Fiona Glenanne

"
Flying the Airplane is More Important than Radioing Your Plight to a Person on the Ground
Who is Incapable of Understanding or Doing Anything About It.
" -- Unknown

"There seems to be almost no problem that Congress cannot, by diligent efforts and careful legislative drafting, make ten times worse." -- Me

"What the hell is an `Aluminum Falcon'?" -- Emperor Palpatine

"Eck!" -- George the Cat

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

May 2010 bring health, wealth and happiness to all of the readers of this blog.

(I'll settle for it being better than 2009.)

Limbaugh the Stalker?

Anyone know why he chose to take a vacation in Hawaii?

Seems kind of odd for two reasons: First, President Obama and his family are in Hawaii (his home state). One would suppose that Limbaugh would be more likely to want to visit the resting place of Karl Marx than be in the same state as the President. Did anyone check Limbaugh's luggage to see if he brought his .338 Lapua with him?

Second, don't conservatives tend to regard Hawaii as some sort of foreign and exotic land?

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Pigeon Impossible

About time for some mindless fun around here.



Go to "full screen", it's worth it.

For All of Those Screaming for Janet Napolitano's Head

Ask yourself this:

Does the CIA work for her?

Do the people who screen passengers in Lagos or Amsterdam work for her?

Do the people at the Bureau of Consular Affairs, the ones who issue visas, work for her?

The short answer to all of those questions is "no".

So what would you want to fire her for? Shooting off her mouth on ABC's "This Week" last Sunday?

And if so, then what the fuck is wrong with this country? You didn't see any cabinet officials fired for torturing people or illegally wiretapping Americans or any of the other stupid crap that was done by the last administration. The only guy Bush ever fired were Rumsfeld and Gonzo, who were fired for the sin of screwing up badly enough to cost the GOP control of the Congress three years ago. Even then, Torturer Dick tried to protect Rumsfeld. And Gonzo got some "wingnut welfare" no-show teaching job at the Texas Tech School of Heavy Equipment Repair.

So, if you're a Republican official, commission of war crimes and gross incompetence: Good.

If you're a Democratic official, saying something stupid on television: zOMG!!!!1! Release the Hounds of Hell!!!1!1!!

The Sanctity of Marriage

Once again, the "marriage is a blessed sacrament" does not apply to prominent Republicans.

I have no problems with couples divorcing. I'd rather see them end marriages through the legal system, rather than with alternative methods such as golf clubs and wood-chippers. I've known couples who proclaimed that they'd be married forever and that "divorce is against G-d's laws", only to avail themselves of a divorce when their marriages soured.

But it gripes me to see the "pro-marriage" crowd so accepting of terminating their own marriages, even as they try to make divorces harder to get.

And then there is the whole "we think marriage is a sacrament, we'll divorce whenever it suits us, but you frakking faggots can't get married" hypocrisy.

Judicial Stem-Winder

IndyMac Bank F.S.B. v. Yano-Horoski, 2009 WL 4544742, which was decided last month in Suffolk County, NY. The judge was ripshit at the bad faith of IndyMac Bank, which refused every attempt to try and arrange refinancing or alternative arrangements to pay the debt. Foreclosure is an equitable remedy, which gives a judge the opportunity to do what is fair, given the conduct of the parties. And since IndyMac's conduct was found to be especially objectionable, the judge let them have it with both barrels:
An objective and painstaking examination of the totality of the facts and circumstances herein leads this Court to the inescapable conclusion that the affirmative conduct exhibited by Plaintiff at least since since February 24, 2009 (and perhaps earlier) has been and is inequitable, unconscionable, vexatious and opprobrious. The Court is constrained, solely as a result of Plaintiff's affirmative acts, to conclude that Plaintiff's conduct is wholly unsupportable at law or in equity, greatly egregious and so completely devoid of good faith that equity cannot be permitted to intervene on its behalf. Indeed, Plaintiff's actions toward Defendant in this matter have been harsh, repugnant, shocking and repulsive to the extent that it must be appropriately sanctioned so as to deter it from imposing further mortifying abuse against Defendant. ... This Court is of the opinion that cancellation of the indebtedness and discharge of the mortgage, when taken together, constitute the appropriate equitable disposition under the unique facts and circumstances presented herein.
And that is what he ordered.

Part-Time Republican Deficit Hawks

Orrin Hatch has tacitly admitted that Republicans care about the deficit only when Democrats are in power:
As for their newfound worries about big government health expansions, they essentially say: That was then, this is now. Six years ago, "it was standard practice not to pay for things," said Sen. Orrin Hatch.
The Republicans also did not care bout the budget deficit during the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George Bush the First. But they went positively batshit about it during the administrations of Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and now, Barack Obama.

Republicans: Deficit hawks when they are not in charge. But that is consistent, ina way, because they are chicken hawks when they are too old to serve.

(H/T)

Harvesting the Tea-Baggers

The people who set up one of the astroturf teabagging groups took most of the money that they spent and paid it to themselves (64% of it).

Nice work if you can get it.

Now Hear This: Commence Operation Pants-Wetting!

A Chinese admiral has proposed that China negotiate deals for overseas naval bases.

The neocons will be shitting copiously into their britches over this one. We shall see how quickly they can shift gears from crapping their jeans over the Attack of the Underwear Bomber.

The Arc of History

Stolen from here:
CHURCHILL, 1940: Yeah, you keep bombing us. We'll be in the pub, flipping you off. I'm slapping Rolls-Royce engines into untested flying coffins to knock you out of the skies, and then I'm sending angry Welshmen to burn your country from the Rhine to the Polish border.

FDR, 1941: Oh, I'm sorry, was wiping out our entire Pacific fleet supposed to intimidate us? We have nothing to fear but fear itself, and right now we're coming to kick your ass with brand new ships riveted by waitresses. How's that going to feel?

AMERICAN CONSERVATIVES, 2001-2009: BE AFRAID!! Oh God, the Brown Bad people could strike any moment! They could strike ... NOW!! AHHHH. Okay, how about .. NOW!! AAGAGAHAHAHHAG! Quick, do whatever we tell you, and believe whatever we tell you, or YOU WILL BE KILLED BY BROWN PEOPLE!! PUT DOWN THAT SIPPY CUP!!
The original post of this concluded with some sage advice about terrorism:
It's now part of our life. Let's try not to hop like the trained monkeys every time it happens.

Eight Years

That is how long the Federal government has had to address the issue of information sharing among Federal agencies. Failure of government agencies to share information was one of the points raised by the investigations of the 9-11 attacks in 2001. It is now the end of 2009 and the failure of Federal agencies to share intelligence information has been raised in the aftermath of the attempted underwear bombing.

I gather it was far easier for Dick the Torturer to order that people be waterboarded than it was for hm to try and fix the intelligence issues. The Bush Administration had seven years to do something about this, other than stupid shit such as vacuuming everyone's e-mails and listening in on telephone calls of soldiers in Iraq calling home to their loved ones. Trampling on the Constitution is simple, settling bureaucratic turf wars is a Sisyphean task.

Some Things Never Change

And that is the Wingnut reaction to any attempted terrorist attack, which can be described as a form of Mad Lib:
"zOMG, the (name of terrorist group) (what they did) (name of target)! We have to prove our manhood yet again by invading/bombing the shit out of (name of country)."
And, of course, if any terrorist is captured, the Wingnuts will demand that the guy be tortured.

They are such fearful and pathetic creatures. If it were not for the real consequences they have brought about because their ideas come from watching episodes of "24", I would feel pity for their pathetic souls. But I do not feel pity. I feel contempt and disgust, for the Wingnuts have damaged our nation far more than any terrorist has managed to do to date.

If al Qaeda ever manages to detonate a dirty bomb or a nuke, the Wingnuts will try to complete the work of the terrorists by destroying our constitutional form of government in favor of a tyrannical system. You can bet the farm on that.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Regional War, Global Catastrophe

An article in the current issue of Scientific American puts forth the theory that if India and Pakistan engage in an all-out nuclear war, the smoke from the fires of their burning cities will bring about a nuclear autumn. The authors suggest that in the actual attacks, 20 million people will die outright. The nuclear autumn will result in global crop failures and a resulting famine that will kill a billion more.

If that were not bad enough, there would be a depletion of the ozone layer that would reduce the protection from UV radiation to that of the Antarctic area in summer. Even though the Sun would be partially obscured by smoke in the stratosphere, there would be a shitload more cases of skin cancer. And there would be UV damage to the surviving plants.

Unfortunately, the article is not available online, but there are similar articles out there.

Excuse Me, I Have to Go Throw Up, Now.

The Glock 1911.

Goddess, I hope that this is some sick fuck's idea of a joke.

One Significant Difference Between the Bush Administration and the Taliban

The Taliban is planning for what they will do if they win in Afghanistan. They have governors appointed for almost all provinces. They have appointed cabinet ministers.

Compare and contrast that to the Bush Administration, which did zero planning and allocated no resources in advance of the fighting to prepare for what came afterwards.

(Not that there was much else to distinguish the two groups, as they held common beliefs in science, the use of the death penalty, the importance of education and a complete lack of tolerance for dissent.)

A Witch!!! Burn Her!!!1!!

That is basically what still goes on in Saudi Arabia, where a man has been sentenced to death for being a sorcerer.

Yes, we are about to enter the second decade of the 21st Century, not the 17th Century. Except in places like Saudi Arabia.

AUUGGHH! The Stupid! It Burns!

Congressman Peter King (R-NY):
"100% of the Islamic terrorists who are coming against us are Muslims."
That makes about as much sense as saying that "100% of the Klan church-bombers in the `60s were white people." They are statements that are (a) true, (b) useless from a security standpoint and (c) needlessly inflame the situation.

Anyone who thinks clowns like King or Hoekstra really care about improving security at airports probably also believes in unicorns. It is all about politics and scoring points for those bombastic fools.

Health Insurance; Another Idea

This idea probably makes too much sense to ever be adopted.

Following the Money; Corrupt Bastards Edition

The greedy, blood-drenched motherfuckers people who are profiting from our nation's current "system" of delivering health care, which spends far more money per capita than any other nation, are lining up to try and block any implementation of health care reform on a state level, and they are handing out boatloads of cash in order to accomplish it.
Like about a dozen other states, Florida is debating a proposed amendment to its state constitution that would try to block, at least symbolically, much of the proposed federal health care overhaul on the grounds that it tramples individual liberty.

But what unites the proposal’s legislative backers is more than ideology. Its 42 co-sponsors, all Republicans, were almost all recipients of outsized campaign contributions from major health care interests, a total of about $765,000 in 2008, according to a new study by the National Institute on Money in State Politics, a nonpartisan group based in Helena, Mont.
Billions and billions of dollars, which those fuckers have harvested from the premiums that we paid them in order to have health insurance.

The rate of inflation for 2008 was 3.8%, for 2009 it is shaping up to be 1.8%. Contrast that with the rate increases of health insurance companies; I've talked to some small business owners who are facing premium hikes of 20%. Even the GOP-mouthpiece WSJ noted that health insurance premiums for the `00s went up 131% though the rate of inflation for the decade was 28%.

The real truth of the matter is that the insurance industry is really happy with the current state of affairs. They ratchet up the premiums by huge amounts, they have departments which are dedicated to denying payment to the insured and their CEOs are paid amounts that would seem small only if compared to that of Ponzi schemershedge-fund managers. They will fight any change tooth-and-nail, for the very last thing they care about is serving the needs of their customers.

Monday, December 28, 2009

New Land-Speed Reversal Record

Reuters:
The system aimed at keeping air travel secure failed when a Nigerian man who was suspected of ties to militants managed to smuggle explosives aboard a flight, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said on Monday. "It did," Napolitano said in an interview on NBC's Today Show, when asked if the system "failed miserably."
At least she's not sticking with the "heckuvajob" line, so there is one improvement.

By the way, has anyone else noted that NWA 253 was painted in Delta colors? NWA was acquired by the Deltoids, I'm sort of surprised that the code for the flight was NWA rather than DAL. On the other hand, it's working out pretty well for Delta that it is Northwest Airlines that has been tagged with being the victim of the Underpants Bomber.

Very Cool

A graphical representation of gravity wells.

The Zero Decade

Paul Krugman explains why the decade ending should be called the "Zero Decade", to symbolize the fact that people, other than the rich, lost economic ground over the decade. He steps through a number of examples as to why just about everyone lost ground and then administers a damning indictment:
What was truly impressive about the decade past, however, was our unwillingness, as a nation, to learn from our mistakes.

Even as the dot-com bubble deflated, credulous bankers and investors began inflating a new bubble in housing. Even after famous, admired companies like Enron and WorldCom were revealed to have been Potemkin corporations with facades built out of creative accounting, analysts and investors believed banks’ claims about their own financial strength and bought into the hype about investments they didn’t understand. Even after triggering a global economic collapse, and having to be rescued at taxpayers’ expense, bankers wasted no time going right back to the culture of giant bonuses and excessive leverage.

Then there are the politicians. Even now, it’s hard to get Democrats, President Obama included, to deliver a full-throated critique of the practices that got us into the mess we’re in. And as for the Republicans: now that their policies of tax cuts and deregulation have led us into an economic quagmire, their prescription for recovery is — tax cuts and deregulation.
The politicians are really pathetic. Democrats are largely spineless. Republicans are throwbacks to the Dark Ages, in that they are completely unwilling to let facts interfere with their ideology. Even though George W. Bush and Richard Cheney gulped when faced with an economic abyss and did what they could to dodge the edge of the cliff, most everyone else in their party was more than willing to march over the cliff in lockstep to their Randite ideology.
The party of Hoover was largely more than willing to redo the Great Depression and, if the Bush Administration had not stood up to them, that is were we would be right now.

Even now, it is shaping up that this recession may last nearly as long as the Depression did, in that the economy may not be back to nearly full employment and some growth in the standard of living until the next decade. That may not be fixable, largely because the politicians are either too ideologically bound or too cowardly to try to fix it.

Worse, within the lifetimes of many of the readers of this post, the entire mess will repeat because the same gutless wonders in politics are too corrupt or afraid to do anything to bring serious reform to the financial pirates services "industry".

We are so screwed.

Chowderheads

There must be something in the DNA of politicians and bureaucrats that make them unable to confront a reality. For the statements coming out of the Obama Administration following the attempted underwear bombing of NWA 253 are eerily reminiscent of the "heckuvajob" crap ladled out by the loyal Bushies.
“The system has worked really very, very smoothly over the course of the past several days,” Janet Napolitano, the Homeland Security secretary said, in an interview on “This Week” on ABC. Robert Gibbs, the White House spokesman, used nearly the same language on “Face the Nation” on CBS, saying that “in many ways, this system has worked.”
What "system" worked? The Underwear Bomber got on the flight with his semi-explosive underwear. There was no high-order detonation, due either to the failure of the plan or due to the bomber being jumped by other passengers. By the "the system worked" logic, we might as well lend every passenger a handgun when they board their flights.

"The system worked?" Heckuvajob, Janet.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Thank You, Wall Street, Republican Bank Deregulators, George W. Bush and All of You Assholes At Goldman Sachs Who "Are Doing God's Work"

This is what you clowns have brought us:
Most economists say it could take at least until 2015 for the unemployment rate to drop down to a historically more normal 5.5 percent. And with the job market likely to stay weak, some also foresee another decade of wage stagnation.

Even though the economy will likely keep growing, the pace is expected to be plodding. That will make employers reluctant to hire. Further contributing to high unemployment is the likelihood of more people competing for jobs, baby boomers delaying retirement and interest rates edging higher.

All this would come after a decade that created relatively few jobs: a net total of just 464,000. By contrast, 21.7 million new jobs were generated between 1989 and 1999.
You jackasses in both parties (I'm looking at you, Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers), though predominantly Republicans, trashed the economy. You deregulated the financial industry and they industriously got busy building an entire Ponzi economy. The Republican "cut taxes for the rich and everything will be groovy" ramped up the deficit across the now-ending decade and created about a fiftieth as many jobs as the 1990s.

But oh, the `naughts was a great decade for the top 0.1% of the economic spectrum (George W. Bush's peeps). And it appears that the teens will also be great for those on the top of the pyramid. As for the vast majority of those of us further down the economic pyramid, things have sucked and will apparently continue to suck.

Nothing is going to change, for the party of Hoover is more than happy to do everything they can to continue to keep working men and women down. They will fight any attempt to further stimulate the economy to get more people working, for high unemployment can work to keep wages down, which Republicans are all in favor of seeing take place. The following decade may very well help push the Republican goal of destroying the middle class closer to fruition.

Rocking Gifts

I got this, which was a very good read:
And a used one of these:
As I had noted over a year ago, a friend bought it. She hated it because the cord is too short for her needs and the beater bar seems to trip offline very easily. Every time she complained about it, I offered to take it off her hands (I'm all about public service like that). She finaly had enough of it and gave it to me.

I have an apartment and the cord is long enough so that I can easily do a room. I vacuumed two days before the cats and I went away for Xmas. I tried the Dyson when I came home and the amount of cat hair and general crap the vacuum pulled up was astonishing, to say the least.

I'll take apart my old vacuum as much as I can, clean it up and it's off to Goodwill for it.

Terrorism

The purpose of terrorism is to terrorize. So what has the Underwear Bomber managed to do?

Think of the sheer stupidity of "Sit In Your Seats With Your Laps Empty For the Last Hour of the Flight (Or the Air Marshal Will Shoot You in the Head)" rule. What is so magical about the last hour of the flight? Anyone who smuggled a bomb or an Insane Chemist Bomb-Making Kit(tm) on board could try to blow the thing up at any point of the flight. (Don't expect the DBP to figure that one out, by the way.)

Our government will pour billions of dollars into the detection of underpants made out of bomb-precursor chemicals. Millions of air travelers will be further inconvenienced. Millions more travelers, when there is a choice, will opt not to fly to avoid the hassle. That will further hurt the airlines and vacation businesses which depend on long-distance travel. (On the other hand, it will be good for local attractions, drivable destinations and Amtrak.)

All of this without doing much more than scorching the terrorist. I'd rate the attack as "very successful".

Update: If you are flying on an international flight, better bring a dead-tree book with you (or sedate yourself) as DBP may be preparing to ban the use of all personal electronic devices.

Shit. Why not just put all of the passengers in restraints, like Con Air? The guards flight attendants can just walk up and down the rows with Klingon pain-sticks and zap anyone who says anything at all.

(H/T)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Drive or Take a Bus or Take a Train or even a Ship

Videoconference, even. But whatever you do, it would seem that flying on an airliner should be the very last thing you would want to do. Dental surgery would probably be more enjoyable, at this point. For flying on a commercial airliner, which has not been much in the way of fun since 9-11, is about to get a lot worse.

For the last hour of the flight, you now have to sit in your seat with your hands folded in your lap. No food, no computer, no nothing. And if you think you might have to use the bathroom, expect to be arrested and charged with failure to obey a cabin Nazi, or some other felony beef, so you might as well wear one of those homicidal-astronaut diapers.

The "nothing in your lap, sit down and shut up for the last hour" is nothing other than the same sort of security theater bullshit that one would expect from the lovable stormtroopers at the DBP. The fear-mongerers have to be seen to be doing something, however ineffectual, so each time some bozo tries something, they will make flying even more and more like being incarcerated in a prison. Sooner or later, all passengers will be required to strip naked and will then be issued disposable coveralls and booties for their flight. That may sound ludicrous, but the day is coming. And you can just bet your ass that there are people in the DBP who are planning for the implementation of such a procedure.

Caturday Preloaded

With the holidays, blogging may be somewhat light. Keeping that in mind, I am uploading this Caturday three days in advance.

Presenting probably the most photographed cat in recent history of the InterTubes: Gracie

She had a butt-washing inflicted upon her. Oh, the indignity!



Jake, sitting on one of his favorite places to lie down. He really likes th e back of that chair.


George is busy plotting his next attempt to take over the world.

And with that, I have some packing to get to.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Holidays

A few videos, in the event that you've had enough of your family today:

BSG Santa (thanks to Marc)



Where Father Christmas roams:



The caution video:



And one that has nothing to do with the season, only because I know one of the kids:

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

That is all.

Gunnie Stuff

Here, doggie, doggie, doggie!  Jest a leetle closr, plz.
moar funny pictures

Anyway, I received the latest copy of "American Rifleman" in my mail. Sig-Sauer has released a new and improved 5.56mm black rifle, just like very other fricking gun manufacturer on the planet. And, in a stunning bit of innovation (or adopting an innovation that dates back 40 years), Sig is using a gas-piston to drive the bolt on their AR. The article doesn't mention whether the rifle takes STANAG magazines.

By now, wouldn't it be a far shorter list to name the companies that don't make a 5.56mm AR?

Seriously, though, if you have an AR already and you want a gas-piston system, why not just save a boatload of cash and buy a new barreled upper receiver for your rifle?

The Evil Giant Global Vampire Squid Bet Heavily on the Failure Of Its Own Products

It seems that the economy-wreckers at Goldman Sachs not only just bet against their own products; they were actively selling their own CDOs short to the point that questions are arising whether Goldman Sachs knowingly sold securities that were guaranteed to fail so that Goldman Sachs could make a shitload of money from selling them to investors and then sold them short so that Goldman Sachs could make another shitload of money when those "securities" inevitably went sour:
“The simultaneous selling of securities to customers and shorting them because they believed they were going to default is the most cynical use of credit information that I have ever seen,” said Sylvain R. Raynes, an expert in structured finance at R & R Consulting in New York. “When you buy protection against an event that you have a hand in causing, you are buying fire insurance on someone else’s house and then committing arson.”
The financial arson allegedly committed by Goldman Sachs did not just burn down a house. It burned down the global economy.

Let me put it plainly: Those fuckers at Goldman Sachs (and other banks) are alleged to have deliberately created the housing bubble. They pumped up the housing market by artificially creating a huge demand for CDOs, which made sub-prime and adjustable-rate mortgages ridiculously cheap. That flood of cheap money then drove up housing prices. And when it crashed, the very same evil bastards who drove up the housing market profited immensely from its collapse.

Don't expect much from the Federal government as far as investigating this global act of financial arson, as administration after administration has been riddled/infiltrated/infected/contaminated with people who worked at Goldman Sachs. They will do what they always have done, protect their friends and fuck over the American people. If anyone from those fraudulent operations ever goes to jail for this, it will be because a state attorney general or a county prosecutor went after them. (I'm looking at you, Andrew Cuomo and Cyrus Vance, Jr. Let's see if Vance can fill Robert Morgenthau's shoes.)

The article in the NY Times is a long one, but it is worth reading as it names some of the douchebags who were behind this giant global fraud. If you have a house that you cannot sell because you are underwater on the mortgage, if you have already lost your home, if you are paying on a mortgage that will soon reset to a much higher rate (and which you cannot refinance because the mortgage amount far exceeds the value of the house), if you are one of the millions of people who have lost their jobs in the Goldman Sachs Recession or if you are one of the millions more who have had their pay slashed (whether by reduction in your hours worked or by an outright pay cut), you ought to read the article.

No wonder those fuckers at Goldman Sachs are buying guns.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Really Lame-Ass Christmas Shopping

I really do hope that the readers of this blog are not buying packs of condoms or batteries at the convenience store early Christmas morning because they've run out of gift ideas.

Tax the Churches

If they want to play in the World of Caesar, they can damn well pay taxes.
Leadership aides say progressives are prepared to take it on the chin and will vote for a final bill without a public option. But they say pro-life Democrats will seek direction from the U.S. Conference of Bishops as to whether they can support an amendment weaker than Rep. Bart Stupak's, thus setting up what will likely be the most difficult negotiation before a final vote.
I don't expect much out of any of the organized churches anymore. They seem to be very comfortable playing the game of politics and, to my mind, they are now just lobbying groups. They are no different than the AMA, AOPA, NRA, NOW, or the health insurance lobby in that regard. After financial scandal after financial scandal and the conversion of the Catholic church hierarchy into the Society for the Protection of Child Molesters, nothing much surprises me.

So no, I am not surprised that there are politicians who bounce legislation off the Conference of Bishops, just as they would off of any other lobbying or special interest group to whom they are beholden.

And given all of the above (and the advisory, below), I am not bothered by the fact that a German pope is pushing forward saintifying Pope Pius the 12th. If the Vatican wants to take the position that "Pius was a good Christian, even if he didn't do or say jack-shit during the Holocaust", that's their right.[1]

[1] They can promote Reinhard Heydrich to sainthood for all I care.


Advisory: I will own up to a degree of ingrained prejudice, here. The immigrant generation of my family suffered no small degree of abuse back in the Old Country from the hands of the local Christian peasantry; whether they were Roman Catholics or Eastern Orthodox was a distinction lost on them. When I was very young, one of my great-aunts, who appeared to me to be older than the planet itself, pulled me aside and said: "When it is time for you to bring home who you intend to marry, remember this: Better a schvartze than a Catholic."

Another Reason Not to Trust the Washington Post

In the recent "don't bring a gun to a snowball fight" incident, the WaPo disregarded both the eyewitness reports of one of its own employees and video that was available on YouTube in favor of going with a "oh, our cops would never do that" statement by the police brass.

First off, anyone who does not understand that the reflexive reaction of any police agency is going to be to deny that anything bad was ever done by any officer probably also believes in unicorns and pots of gold at the ends of rainbows.

Second, the reaction of the WaPo illuminates their mindset of defaulting to the official account (at least from authoritarian organizations, like the police and the Bush Administration) despite evidence that the officials are either simply wrong or are actively lying.

One would think that "question authority" would be instinctive in reporters. But not at the Post. They seem to have learned nothing from their stenographic coverage of the Bush Administration.

Cumshaw

"Cumshaw" is/was a military slang term for stuff that a unit "acquired" outside of the normal supply chain.

There is a shitload of it in Iraq. Apparently there is no real plan for dealing with it.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Coffee!!!

It's even good for you:
Drinking coffee is associated with a reduced risk of liver disease and Type 2 diabetes. The latter is backed up by a study published this month in the Archives of Internal Medicine; it suggested that three to four cups of joe a day might reduce chances of developing Type 2 diabetes by roughly 25 percent.
I'd blog some more about this, but I'm suddenly feeling the need for more of that healthy stuff.

If You Want to Name Your Son After a Third-World Shithole of a City

Why not name the kid "Mogadishu" or "Djibouti"?

I am asking because "Aiden" is the most popular name for boys in this fucktard of a decade.

Nosferatu Says No

Rudy Guiliani has opted not to run for the U.S. Senate.

I can't blame him on two counts. First off, he is making a boatload of money right now. Second, based on what has been going on in the Senate for the last few years, who the hell would want to be a senator?

Which brings me to this clip from Rachel Maddow about the use of the filibuster by the party of Hoover:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

"Nebraskans are very special", as in "they all ride the short bus". But New Yorkers are not exactly a cheery bunch these days.

Orange Fraud Alert

I blogged yesterday about the fraudster who conned millions of dollars out of our government by claiming to be able to decode secret messages embedded in al Jazeera's broadcasts.

The story was on the Rachel Maddow Show last night:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Monday, December 21, 2009

Heh.


(h/t)

The Bush Decade

Time's verdict on the `00s, in a story from November:
At exactly two minutes after midnight on Jan. 1, 2000, an alarm sounded at a nuclear power plant in Onagawa, Japan. Government officials and computer scientists around the globe held their breath. Was this the beginning of a massive Y2K computer meltdown? Actually, no. It was an isolated event, one of a handful of glitches to occur (including the failure of 500 slot machines at two racetracks in Delaware) as the sun rose on the new decade. The dreaded millennial meltdown never happened.

Instead, it was the American Dream that was about to dim. Bookended by 9/11 at the start and a financial wipeout at the end, the first 10 years of this century will very likely go down as the most dispiriting and disillusioning decade Americans have lived through in the post–World War II era. We're still weeks away from the end of '09, but it's not too early to pass judgment. Call it the Decade from Hell, or the Reckoning, or the Decade of Broken Dreams, or the Lost Decade. Call it whatever you want — just give thanks that it is nearly over.
I thought the 1970s sucked pretty bad, but that was a golden decade compared to the one wrought largely by George W. Bush, a decade where the Republican doctrine of "hooray for the rich and fuck everyone else" was on full display. Time's story goes on:
For the average working stiff, it was a pretty lousy 10 years. The median household income in 2000 was $52,500. Last year (the most recent year available) it was $50,303. And given that the unemployment rate has climbed to 10.2%, income will almost certainly drop again this year. Low-income Americans fared even worse. In 2000, 11.3% of Americans were living below the poverty line. By 2008, that number had risen to 13.2%. Meanwhile, the percentage of Americans without health insurance increased from 13.7% to 15.4%
Bu you can bet your ass that the Republicans think that this decade was just peachy, if you disregard the collapse of the economy, Hurricane Katrina, 9/11, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the functional collapse of our government. Since the decade was a good one for the rich, the heart and soul of the GOP, they may have a point. But for those of us who make less than one of Bush's peeps, it was a pretty tough decade.

(H/T)

Just When You Thought You Heard It All About the Bush Administration

Bush's DBP and CIA made FEMA look like a world-class operation:
A self-styled Nevada codebreaker convinced the CIA he could decode secret terrorist targeting information sent through Al Jazeera broadcasts, prompting the Bush White House to raise the terror alert level to Orange (high) in December 2003, with Tom Ridge warning of "near-term attacks that could either rival or exceed what we experience on September 11," according to a new report in Playboy.

The report deals another blow to the credibility of the Department of Homeland Security's color-coded terror alert system, and comes after Ridge's claim that the system was used as a political tool when he was DHS secretary
This clown defrauded the government out of millions of dollars. Why isn't he living down the cellblock from Bernie Madoff?

Where Rape Victims Get Sent to Prison

The US Army, now. There would seem to be no exception for being raped. But only men who are non-rapers would be punished under the policy:
"When a soldier becomes pregnant or causes a soldier to become pregnant through consensual activity, the redeployment of the pregnant soldier creates a void in the unit and has a negative impact on the unit’s ability to accomplish its mission," an Army spokesman said. (emphasis mine)
The wording is quite striking and I have to think that, as it was no doubt run through a battery of lawyers, it is intentional. Rape is a felony, so the rapists don't get off scot-free (if they are caught). But the women get punished in any event, whether or not the sex act was consensual. And since the Republicans have manged to outlaw abortions at military hospitals, the women have no choice in that regard, as well.

(H/T)

Despicable

A Republican asks people to pray for bad things to happen to one Democratic senator:
At 4 p.m. Sunday afternoon -- nine hours before the 1 a.m. vote that would effectively clinch the legislation's passage -- Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) went to the Senate floor to propose a prayer. "What the American people ought to pray is that somebody can't make the vote tonight," he said. "That's what they ought to pray."
I should be shocked and outraged, but that is pretty much par for the course for the party of Hoover. They chose to bet that the Democrats could not get their act together, they bet wrong, and now they are praying for divine intervention.

It's about what I would have expected from Coburn, a patently evil fucktard who made a point of shafting disabled veterans. The rest of that drooling pack of fear-mongers who make up the GOP Senate caucus were, in truth, cowed into submission by the batshit-crazy far-rightists of the their party, who made it plain that if their Senators vote for even one thing that President Obama wants, they will be punished. So the Hooverite Senators held up votes on defense spending as a tactic to delay the health care bill, something that if the Democrats had dared to do under Bush, the GOP would have been screaming cries of treason.

The Republicans have chosen the path of obstructionism for the sake of pure partisanship. They may pay a price for that in November, for obstructionism does not play well with independent voters.

(H/T)

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Speaking of Idiots Who Should Be Flogged

The five Polish chuckleheads who stole the "Arbeit Macht Frei" sign from the gates of Auschwitz.

Kudos to the Polish cops for cracking the case before the sign was melted into scrap.

Don't Bring a Gun to a Snowball Fight

A DC cop pulled a gun when his Hummer was pelted with snowballs.

If a civilian had been stupid enough to do that, he's be looking at some serious jail time. Care to bet that the DC cops will probably just sweep it under the rug?

Question to You .45 Geeks

I need a decent holster for one of these:

Actually, I need two holsters: One for inside-waistband carry, one for outside. I don't know from the "paddle" style and I've never used anything before that wasn't made from the outside of a steer.

Any recommendations?

Health Care Reform, Brought to You By the Club for Growth

Paul Krugman suggests that credit for the health care bill goes, in part, to the Club for Growth, as they drove Sen. Arlen Specter out of the Republican party.

There is something to that, I think. There is also something to the argument that because the Republicans chose this bill to stage a partisan fistfight, they sacrificed the chance to have any influence over the contents of the bill itself. The Republicans bet the store that the Democrats would never hang together and, as of tonight, it looks like they have lost that one.

Crime Scene

A fowl crime, indeed.

The carcass is on the lower left, miscellaneous bits are in the roasting pan on the right and the deboned meat is in the bowl. I wear the blue gloves to keep my hands from being bathed in chicken grease.

As soon as I took the bird out of the oven to cool, George took up station in the kitchen to be first in line to get some freshly cooked chicken. The chicken will supply lunchmeat for sandwiches and a couple of suppers. The leftover goop in the roasting pan, once it cools and begins to solidify, will be dumpster food. Yes, I know I could make chicken soup. That ambitious, I am not.

The storm that just blew through here dumped less than 4" of dry, powdery snow around these parts. The people along the coastline in southeastern New England got pasted pretty hard.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

An Open Letter to Those Who Would Oppose the Health Insurance Bill Because It Is Not Good Enough

What is your alternative, other than muttering "a pox on both your houses" and walking away?

We have previously seen the cost of not participating or casting protest votes. I would respectfully suggest that anybody who thinks that the period from 2001 through 2008 would not have been any different if the Naderite protest voters had instead bothered to vote for Gore has mush for brains.

The forces of corporatism, bigotry, intolerance and fascism have been at this for decades. They have been pushing this country further and further to the right. We gave them two bloody noses in `06 an `08. They have not gone away, they have come out with all of their fury against the health care bill and, although they have weakened it considerably, they have not yet won.

The intolerant, anti-worker and pro-servitude forces on the Right have not given up. They will never give up. They are like zombies; they never stop coming at you. You can either fight them or die.

If you give up and walk away from trying to stop them, you might as well sign up with them, become one of Fat Rush's dittoheads and buy all of Glenn Beck's books, because by not fighting them, you are tacitly approving of where they want to take this country.

If you want the evil bastards on the Right to win, then just walk away, tune in some mindless entertainment on Fox and stop caring, for that is what they want.

So, What's Happening in the Clean World?

I've been offline last night and this morning.

This is why:
Monster Hunter International is just fun to read. Lots of guns, monsters of all kind, saving the world and a little bit of romance thrown in for spice.

Winter Flying

These photos were taken after the first significant snowfall. The first one shows a DeHavilland Beaver on amphibious floats, flaring for its landing.


Any light snow accumulation on the tailplane of a Cessna tends to put them into a taildragger posture.

Caturday

Jake is lying on one of his favorite spots: The back cushion of my couch.


Gracie. You can see that the cushion behind her has been deformed by Jake lying on it. I must have had the settings off, hence the bluish cast, but I used the same settings to take the photo of Jake, who was all of two feet away.



George is mulling over whether to take another nap.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Liar of the Year

Sarah Palin wins the dubious honor of being the liar of the year, for her whopper of a lie about the "death panels".

The silver and bronze medals for lying went to Glenn Beck and Orly Taitz.

A Hard-Boiled Christmas

"Ho-ho-fucking-ho"

Pass the Health Care Bill

I know it's nowhere near perfect. But let's get it done.

What persuaded me was the analogy to the Civil Rights Acts. There have been eight Federal Civil Rights Acts. The 1957 Civil Rights Act, which established the Civil Rights Commission, was vehemently opposed by the racist wing of the Democratic Party, back in a time before the two parties switched sides. The 1871 Civil Rights Act is the one which gives the Feds the power to criminally prosecute civil rights violations. The 1960 Civil Rights Act, the first of the voting rights acts, was also vigorously opposed by the white supremacists, as were all of the `60s era civil rights and voting laws. It took a lot of time and several laws to come close to getting it right. And there is still more work to be done in the civil rights field, all of which is also vigorously opposed by the goons in the pro-discrimination party.

We should not let the perfect become the enemy of the possible.

Pass the bill.

Your Friday Doom and Gloom

Actually, I wrote it on Tuesday, but I put it up on another blog, so if you want to be even more depressed in this holiday season, go read it.

The Vindictive Viper of Voluntown

There is an old Russian tale of a peasant who was walking down a path in the woods. Suddenly, in a flash of light and a burst of smoke, a genie appeared before the peasant. "Do not be afraid," pronounced the genie, "for I am here to grant you one wish. But before you tell me what you desire, I must also tell you that your neighbor, Boris Pavelevich, will receive twice of what you ask.

The peasant thought for a minute and then made his wish: "I wish that you would remove one of my testicles."
That story came to mind when I read this one:
[Sen. Joesph] Lieberman had supported the Medicare buy-in proposal in the past — both as the Democrats’ vice presidential nominee in 2000 and in more recent discussions about the health care system. In an interview this year, he reiterated his support for the concept.

But in the interview, Mr. Lieberman said that he grew apprehensive when a formal proposal began to take shape. He said he worried that the program would lead to financial trouble and contribute to the instability of the existing Medicare program.

And he said he was particularly troubled by the overly enthusiastic reaction to the proposal by some liberals, including Representative Anthony Weiner, Democrat of New York, who champions a fully government-run health care system.
It takes a pretty small-minded and pathetic excuse for a human being to change one's mind and oppose something which one had supported for years all because that person is holding a grudge against the people who now support the same thing.

So it is clear, now: Lieberman's obstructive tactics are not about what is best for the people of this nation or, for that matter, the people of Connecticut. He clearly does not give a rat's ass about that. He does not give a shit about anything other than smacking around his political enemies. He is motivated, above all, by vengeance. Lieberman will have his revenge on those who voted against him in his run for the presidency in `04 and his failed bid to be re-nominated in `06, no matter what the cost to anyone else in this nation.

If the stakes were lower, I might even pity Joe Lieberman for devolving into such a vindictive shell of a man.

One Too Many Shots to the Head

There is concern that hockey players are subject to risk of the same long-term brain damage now known to be occurring in football players. The NHL, of course, is "studying" the problem and will probably take no action at least over the short haul.

That story led me to wonder, when I read this, whether or not elderly former martial arts practitioners, those who have taken a few too many karate kicks to the head, might not also be suffering from a form of dementia brought on by chronic head trauma.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

What the Streetwalker of Stonington Has in Common With China

Both Lieberman and China turn out to be pimples on the ass of progress:
All eyes are now on China to see if it will allow itself to be cast in the role of the villain who prevented a new international climate deal and deprived the world's poorest people of the chance to get substantial new aid to tackle the effects of global warming which are now inevitable.

Yeah, Like Nobody Saw This Coming

WASHINGTON -- Militants in Iraq have used $26 off-the-shelf software to intercept live video feeds from U.S. Predator drones, potentially providing them with information they need to evade or monitor U.S. military operations.

Senior defense and intelligence officials said Iranian-backed insurgents intercepted the video feeds by taking advantage of an unprotected communications link in some of the remotely flown planes' systems.
I find it astonishing that there apparently are people in our government who have never heard of the terms "electronic warfare" or "signals intelligence." Anyone in our government who does not understand that there are other nations who have a real interest in monitoring all of the various electronic signals to and from the drones in use and then figuring out ways to hack into them has mush for brains. There may be a mindset among some in our government that our opponents are a bunch of cave-dwelling goons who, other than using Kalashnikovs, prefer to live at the technological level of the 7th Century.

That would be an incredibly foolish mindset to have.

Drool



Link to description.

Other than my first computer, an IBM PS/2-30, every desktop computer I have owned has been either scratch-built or a salvaged unit with some newer parts. My current desktop at home is an IBM 8000 series that I dug out of a dumpster and installed new RAM, a hard drive and a better optical drive. The keyboard is the old Model M that came with the PS/2. My work computer (my own) is a second-hand eMachines with newer RAM and a DVD/RW drive.

The Philco computer, though, I could seriously go for.

(H/T)

Old Airshow Video



Not to take anything away from this, but loops and barrel rolls, when properly done, are not high-G maneuvers. It is impressive to see a transport class aircraft barrel-rolled and looped, but they all can do it (other than the new generation computer controlled airplanes, that is). There has been film of Bob Hoover doing loops and barrel rolls while pouring water into a glass on the glareshield of his Twin Commander. Probably every airplane back in the `30s was also spin-tested and capable.

But from what I've been told, the control forces of a Tri-Motor about required a weight-lifting physique, which makes this old film more impressive.

Happy Wright Brothers Day!

An Argument to Kill the Bill

It is a good one.


Olbermann makes a strong argument: Obama needs to stand for something.

I doubt if he is listening.

Bunk

Not just health care reform, but financial reform. Now Paul Volcker is saying we should re-enact Glass-Steagall.

We can either have real and proven financial reform or we can just fiddle around the edges, which is what the financial industry is lobbying for, and then, in less than a decade, it will all spectacularly fall apart again. Only the next collapse will be even more severe and then the bankers may not be able to escape being dragged down to Battery Park to be the guest of honor at a necktie party.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Another One of Those Good Old Republican Family Values

Stalking. And what is even creepier... his boss thinks it was just fine for the creepazoid to be using voter lists to stalk women.

That's about par for the course for the Pro-Rape party.

You Cannot Make This Shit Up

MOSCOW (Reuters) - NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen asked Russia on Wednesday to give the Western military alliance more help in Afghanistan but failed to get an immediate pledge of assistance from the Kremlin.
I suppose that "Вы курите крак?" (are you smoking crack) would seem to be the appropriate response.

"Please get involved again in Afghanistan" is a request to the Russians that would be about as attractive to Moscow as if the Chinese had asked us for help with their little border war with Vietnam in the late `70s and early `80s. Either that, or the sound that the Muscovites are hearing now is laughter emanating from the Kremlin.

Howard Dean Is Wrong

I am surprised, really, that Dr. Dean is so full of shit on this one:
in a blow to the bill grinding through the Senate, Howard Dean bluntly called for the bill to be killed in a pre-recorded interview set to air later this afternoon [12/15/09], denouncing it as “the collapse of health care reform in the United States Senate,” the reporter who conducted the interview tells me.
First off, there is no "start over". Starting over will embolden the Republicans, who have 40 seats in the Senate and nominally another one to three (Lieberman, Nelson and Baucus). Starting over would mean that there would be no health care bill in this Congress.

Second, it is now or not for a very long time. Unless the Republicans have a complete political melt-down, the rule will probably hold that the party in power loses seats in a mid-term election. The Democrats only have to lose one seat and then the goose-stepping lock-stepping hive-minded Republicans will be poised to block everything. Winning two seats may not be impossible for the Democrats (and it would enable the Democrats to kick that sorry-assed Trollop of Torrington to the curb), but if you want to start over, you are, in essence, betting health insurance on the less-than-likely chance that the Democrats will gain seats in the Senate.

Is that a bet you want to place? I do not.

It is either a fucked-up bill, now, or no bill. No bill means no reform until sometime after 2020. Are you willing to wait that long and let the status quo continue on, with more and more people being denied coverage for pre-existing conditions that don't pre-exist and the entirety of the health care system being run solely for the benefit of the insurance companies?

Warring On Music

Cranky Prof's daughter has been committed to the battle. Read the comments, as well.

(Why the title of this post, you ask? Read on.)

The Harlot of Hartford

After all, Hartford is a city that is home to a number of insurance companies and Lieberman has had their interests in the front of his mind.
on Monday night, Democratic senators emerged from a tense 90-minute closed-door session and suggested that they were on the verge of bowing to Mr. Lieberman’s main demands: that they scrap a plan to let people buy into Medicare beginning at age 55, and scotch even a fallback version of a new government-run health insurance plan, or public option
It's a safe bet that Lieberman cares nothing about the tens of millions of Americans without health insurance. All he gives a shit about is sticking it to everyone who thinks that health insurance reform was a good idea. Now, all we have is a bill that will make insurance companies even richer-- just what Lieberman wants.

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The Giant Vampire Squid Now Sucks Even More!

If you thought that Goldman Sachs was a financial vampire that was happy to take part in destroying the world's economy as long as they got something out of the deal, then buckle your seat belt-- they have gotten far worse under ol' "God's Work" Blankfein.
Interviews with nearly 20 current and former Goldman partners paint a portrait of a bank driven by hard-charging traders like Mr. Blankfein, who wager vast sums in world markets in hopes of quick profits. Discreet bankers who give advice to corporate clients and help them raise capital — once a major source of earnings for Goldman — have been eclipsed, these people said.
It would seem to me that if even the people who were and are partners at Goldman Sachs say that the company has become even more venal and greedy than they once were, then things are very bad.

It also means that those bastards will cheerfully further the destruction of our nations economy by exporting tens of millions of jobs and doing everything they can to impoverish the middle class as long as the greedy spoogebuckets at Goldman make money at it.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

787

It flies!

Something New to Scare the Shit Out of You

A robot capable of transiting oceans underwater.
Named after the New Jersey university's athletic teams and officially designated RU-27 in a long line of related devices, this one was always known simply as "Scarlet." Like Charles Lindbergh's Spirit of St. Louis, or perhaps Columbus's Pinta and Niña, it seemed more a living thing than a mechanical conveyance. But unlike them, Scarlet crossed the Atlantic without a single passenger.
Great, just fucking great. Some assholes built a torpedo capable of transiting an ocean. Nothing like making an underwater cruise missile with a range of a few thousand miles. With GPS, the thing could cross an ocean, go into a harbor mouth and then - blammo!

The only two warheads that would be workable would be a bottom-dwelling mine to sink a large ship or a nuke. So don't be surprised if the old technology of antisubmarine nets makes a comeback.

So Why Not Put Them in the Hamptons?

Oh, but you know the tony folk would raise holy hell if a wind farm was situated offshore of the Hamptons, or, for that matter, Fire Island.
COPENHAGEN - Mayor Bloomberg toured an enormous set of high-tech windmills anchored miles offshore here - and said Monday he wants to build the same thing off the Rockaways.

"It's pretty hard to find any reason against it," Bloomberg said after donning a bright orange suit and safety gear to see the 91 turbines slowly spinning above the ocean, where they make up the world's largest wind farm, generating 209 megawatts of power.
The Rockaways aren't poor country, but they are not places that rich folk tend to congregate. So it sort of makes sense that ol' Billionaire Mike is in favor of putting a wind farm off the Rockaways, for he isn't going to meet people at society cocktail parties who would give him grief over it.

This is not a new thing. Lots of the rich environmentalists were in favor of siting wind farms in upstate New York or in Vermont or Maine, but when Cape Wind wanted to put them off of Hyannis, MA, oh, the cries, the outrage coming from the same people who think renewable energy is a good thing.

It is, so long as long as they don't have to look at the wind turbines, that is.

An Airport Story

And a good one, at that. This guy is a really talented writer.

The Airport Flash Fiction roster is here.

Grumble

I have not found the setting in Winders 7 where I can stop the frigging mouse from actuating things just because the pointer is touching a button or link.

Any thoughts?

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Top 5 Rules of Airline Flying

MSNBC has their top five rules of airline flying.Here are mine:
  1. Stay home and do it by videoconference if at all possible. If not;
  2. Amtrak; or
  3. Drive; or
  4. Fly private. Even bouncing around for five hours and two legs in a Cessna 172 beats having to deal with the strip-searching and luggage-contents-stealing goons of the TSA. But if all else fails;
  5. Send a ticket to whomever you need to see and have them come to you.

The Weasel of Bridgeport

No surprise here: Lieberman was for an expansion of Medicaid to people age 55 as recently as three months ago.
By allowing citizens who are not eligible for Medicare or Medicaid to buy in for a rate below the private market, the government can extend coverage to more of those who are currently uninsured, he said.
There is probably no small amount of things that I could say about the complete lack of integrity, thorough dishonesty, utter self-absorbed shamelessness and non-existent political courage of Joe Lieberman, not to mention his completely blasted and shriveled-up cinder of a soul, but I think you know how I feel about that little putz,

Do What is Good For the Environment

That is Mayor Bloomberg's view, as long as it doesn't impact his lifestyle any.

Every Time There is a Cold Snap

The Climate Change Deniers start crying "if the Earth is warming, why is it cold today", which makes about as much sense as saying "if the Detroit Lions suck, why have they won two games this year".

Of course, the point that 2009 is on track to be one of the warmest years in the last 160 years or that this decade is the warmest of all or that severe droughts are occurring or that the Antarctic ice sheet is melting faster than expected or that the Arctic Ocean will be free of ice in the summer in many of our lifetimes or that the snows of Kilimanjaro will soon be just a distant memory or that the Andean glaciers are disappearing and that if you want to see glaciers in Glacier National Park, you'd best get a move on makes no impression on the deniers.

Morning Choices

You can read this story about Traitor Joe (may the tens of millions of people who cannot afford health insurance live long enough to urinate on his grave).

You can read how Rupert Murdoch is turning the WSJ into a neo-con propaganda outlet (as everyone prophesied).

Or you can watch this video of a cute kitten:



My advice is that you go with the kitten.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

One of Rich's Better Efforts

His column today in the NY Times. Here are a few paragraphs:
What gives our Great Recession its particular darkness — and gives ["Up in the Air"] its haunting afterlife — is the disconnect between the corporate culture that is dictating the firing and the rest of us. In the shorthand of the day, it’s the dichotomy between Wall Street and Main Street, though that oversimplifies the divide. This disconnect isn’t just about the huge gap in income between the financial sector and the rest of America. Nor is it just about the inequities of a government bailout that rescued the irresponsible bankers who helped crash the economy while shortchanging the innocent victims of their reckless gambles. What “Up in the Air” captures is less didactic. It makes palpable the cultural and even physical chasm that opened up between the two Americas for years before the financial collapse.

The private-equity deal makers who bought and sold once-solid companies like trading cards, saddling them with debt, never saw the workers whose jobs were shredded by their cunning games of financial looting. The geniuses in Washington and on Wall Street who invented junk mortgages and then bundled and sold them as securities didn’t live in the same neighborhoods as the mortgagees, small investors and retirees left holding the bag once the housing bubble burst.

Those at the top are separated from the consequences of their actions. They are exemplified by Robert Rubin, formerly of Citigroup and a mentor to both Obama’s Treasury secretary and chief economic adviser. He looked the other way when his bank made ruinous high-risk bets, and then cashed out and split, leaving taxpayers to pay for the wreckage while he escaped any accountability. Such economic wise men peer down at the country from a hermetically sealed bubble of privilege and self-interest, much as Ryan does from the plane flying him to his next mass firing. And they tend to think, as Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs notoriously put it, that they are doing “God’s work” to sustain our free-market system.
I have been of the opinion for more than a year that those bastards should have been dragged down to Battery Park and given one of Dr. Guillotine's haircuts. They deserved no less.

The banks and Wall Street do fill a vital function. But in recent decades, much of what they have done is to engage in variations on "pump and dump" frauds. The mortgage market meltdown was largely due to the bankers and financiers creating an artificially energetic market for garbage securities. The various levels of financial guys, from the low-level mortgage brokers to the thieves who created collateralized mortgage securities all got paid commissions from arranging and finalizing the creation of those toxic securities, leaving the end investors and the property owners holding the bags. Because property values have declined, the owners of those homes can neither sell nor refinance them. The securities are worthless and are dragging down the investors who purchased them.

The middlemen, including Goldman Sachs, all made a shitload of money. They crashed the economy and they are still collecting huge bonuses. That they even have jobs now is due to the fact that we, the American people, acting through our government, bailed them out. But when you hear them talk, it seems as they all think that it was their business acumen, rather than taxpayer dollars, that made them able to not only keep their mansions, their weekend places in the Hamptons, and their damned jobs.

I think the better idea is to invest in pitchfork and tar futures. There may be a huge demand for them.

Laptop

The new laptop is here, HP Probook 4510s. It came with XP-Pro and a disk for Windows 7 Pro. So, before I did anything, I just dropped in the Win-7 disk and let it rip.

One thing I have to get used to is that this is the first laptop I've ever had which has a full-size keyboard. I like having the separate number pad, but I am going to have to get used to not having my right hand at the edge of the keyboard on a laptop.

I also need to finish loading software and transferring files, but so far, it seems nice. And I need to figure out how to use the bloody camera...

PSA

This is a Public Service Announcement from your Blog Mother:

If you happen to live in the northern portions of the U.S., where winter brings snowy and icy weather and road conditions, and you cannot drive competently in any road conditions other than dry pavement:

When the road is snowy or icy, stay the fuck home!

(Either that, or move to Florida with all of the other idiots who cannot drive in bad weather and who could not figure out how to vote in `00.
)

This has been a Public Service Announcement from your Blog Mother.

p.s.: If you are such a self-important jackass that, when the traffic on the Interstate is at a standstill and you then go driving down the breakdown lane because you can't be bothered to be delayed, two words of advice for you: Die soon.

That is all.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Unspoken Thing About Drone Attacks

The one unspoken fact about the use of Predator drones in Pakistan to kill militants is that the drone strikes have the tacit approval of the Pakistani government. That was the case when General Musharraf was running the country and it remains true under President Zardari.

Say there was an insurgency in Mexico and the top rebels had homes in Arizona. If the Mexican Air Force were to conduct bombing raids against locations in Tucson, would we be quiet about it? Would there not be strident demands in Congress to do something about Mexico's trampling on American sovereignty?

Betcher ass there would.

Yet the drone attacks are expanding, which tells me that the Pakistani government, for all of the offense that many in Pakistan are taking against the attacks (for the same reasons we would) are fine with it. And they will permit the attacks to go on until the domestic political cost is too high to bear, or until the Taliban leadership relocates to more populated areas in Pakistan. Which they can do, and may be doing, but that also exposes them to more traditional forms of undercover attacks.

If You Thought That the Language Barrier Was a Problem In Iraq

It is far worse in Afghanistan:
The Department of Defense can't train enough new military interpreters, so it has to hire local people. That is difficult in Afghanistan. The problem is that the local terrorists realize that the interpreters are important, and they, well, terrorize the interpreters into quitting or, even better, becoming a terrorist spy.

Caturday!!

"Your offering does not please me, peasant!"


Gracie is not amused. In the background, you can see the reason why.


George is looking for a spot to lie down in (yes, this table is mine).

Friday, December 11, 2009

Happy Hanukkah


I even had candles on hand! (This one is not mine, I don't have a table with that much uncluttered surface area.)

Happy Hannukha

DILLIGAF

Fuck the Banks Right Back

Default and then rent. Seriously. If your house is worth far less than what you owe, you're basically renting it from the bank and you have to do all of the repairs and replace the appliances and all of that ownership shit.

Talk to an attorney, though, before you pull the trigger on it.

(H/T)

Hooray for the Banks and Fuck You

That's the message from the House of Representatives:
In a victory for the banking industry, the House of Representatives voted Friday to reject a measure that would have allowed bankruptcy judges to change the terms of mortgages for distressed homeowners. ... Republicans and an army of lobbyists for banks and Wall Street firms, whose profits would be threatened by reforms, have fought for months to weaken and delay the bill.
While I would fully expect that the Republicans would kowtow to the needs of the banks and Wall Street, it took a non-insignificant number of greedy-ass Democrats to go along.

While the Congress and the courts are diligently protecting the interests of the rich and powerful, expect more shit like this to go down.