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

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Yes, I Still Hate Glocks

I surely do, but this is still funny.

The Game is Rigged; Wall Street Edition

The New York Times recently investigated the ways the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) deals with companies who have violated anti-fraud laws. Very often, the settlement that follows contains a promise not to break the law again, which the Times noted is odd because the company, "after all, was merely promising not to do something that the law already forbids." Often the same corporations violate the law again -- and make the same promise again and again.

The Times found 51 cases over the past 15 years in which 19 Wall Street firms broke anti-fraud laws they had promised not to break. These firms include Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America. When faced with these multiple violations, the SEC simply reaches another settlement and extracts another promise, rather than bring a contempt charge in court.
"You caught us, here's some money, we don't admit to doing anything wrong and we promise never to do what we maintain we didn't do." That would seem to cover it. (The NYT story, in case you're a digital subscriber.)

If you rob a bank, the DoJ and the FBI will send you to jail for a decade or more. But if the banks rob you, they just pay a pissant fine (for them), admit no wrongdoing, nobody goes to jail and it's back to business as usual.

But one judge has had enough:
A federal judge angrily threw out Citigroup Inc's proposed $285 million settlement over the sale of toxic mortgage debt, excoriating the top U.S. market regulator over how it reaches corporate fraud settlements.

U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan said that in agreeing to the settlement, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission appeared uninterested in actually learning what Citigroup did wrong. He also said the regulator erred by asking him to ignore the interests of the public.

"An application of judicial power that does not rest on facts is worse than mindless, it is inherently dangerous," Rakoff wrote in an opinion dated Monday.
That'd be like the prosecution going into court and asking the judge to sign off on a plea-bargain without ever telling the judge what the charges were. Six months in jail would be too much for parking on an expired meter and nowhere near enough for aggravated rape of a minor, but the way the SEC operates, that's just what has been going on.

The opinion of Judge Ratkoff is here. It runs fifteen double-spaced pages.

The trial is set for next summer. And then we'll learn what evil financial fuckery Citigroup pulled off to swindle the people investing with them.

Comcast Customer Support Update

I got off the phone a little bit ago with my friend, whose experiences with Comcast's customer service sparked this post. She was called this morning by some nice guy named Roger. He had her do some stuff to the DVR itself involving accessing some deep-seated features. it didn't work the first two times she tried it, but it did on the third time. Now everything is good.

A few things came out in the call.

First, none of the customer service clowns that she spoke to yesterday documented the calls. Roger told her that Comcast is going to look into that, as the customer service people are supposed to document each call so that the company can tell when there is a real problem with a customer. I know that is supposed to be done, for they certainly do it for their business class customers.*

Second, none of the support people yesterday knew anything about adjusting the internals of the DVR, even though the model of the DVR was always brought to their attention. They were all stuck on the "it must be your TV" script. It would seem to me that Comcast has a training issue.

Third, both she and I believe that Roger the Expert would not have called her if I hadn't blasted Comcast here and if Comcast wasn't paying attention to the blogs. I passed the e-mail address for the "Comcast Cares" people to her, she wrote them last night and voila! problem solved.

It should not take a blogger railing at Comcast to fix a problem that, in retrospect, should have been high on the list of the troubleshooting tree for the tech rep on the phone: "Problem: Picture does not display correctly with new DVR. Customer reports picture was correct for older DVR. Customer reports that HD TV is set for 16:9 picture." The obvious choice should be that maybe the fucking DVR needs to be set up. But Comcast didn't provide any printed documentation on how to do that** and it took five different customer service people and over four hours on the phone over two days for her to get it fixed.

Comcast has a problem with their customer service. They should fix it.

________________________________
* It's not uncommon for Comcast "business class" customers to have just Internet service for $50 a month and yet they get far better customer support than a residential customer who may have $200 a month in services. Go figure that one out.
** My friend is not a techno-geek by any stretch of the imagination.

How to Make a Small Forture in Aviation

First, start with a large fortune.

American Airlines and its parent company, AMR, are bankrupt.

I can understand the romance of aviation. But one has to wonder why anyone would ever invest in an airline. Most are not profitable and, if you look back over time, they have never been profitable in the long term. Buying airline stock now is like buying stock in the New Haven Railroad once was: Maybe you can make money short-term, but if you buy and hold, you'll get fucked.

I've heard it said that the airlines were profitable during the Great Depression. If they were, it was only because they carried airmail. At the time, airmail was the fastest way to send reasonably secure communications. Telegrams were faster, but they were by no means secure. Or if you had a package to send and it had to get there quickly, airmail was it. So one might argue that without the government, there would be no airline industry: There would have been no Boeing-40, -247, no DC-2, -3, -4 which meant that the Army would not have had good air transports available for the war (and quite possibly, no Douglas Aircraft Corp.).

Then there is the point that a number of the airlines, especially Untied and American, would have been out of business after 9-11 if the Federal government had not bailed them out, but a Republican was the president then and the "we don't do bailouts" Republicans seem to not give a shit when there is a GOP president. Just as in the same way, they don't give a shit about the deficit whenever a Republican is sitting in the Oval Office.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Could Comcast's Customer Service Suck Any More?
I Don't Think So!

A friend of mine has a boatload of Comcast: Triple play, HD service, with some pay channels. her DVR box, an Explorer 8100 began skipping on playback. They gave her a new one (or new to her) Explorer 8300.

The box has been refreshed, repowered and still this: A lot of the HD channels appear in 4:3, not 16:9. The TV is a 16:9 HD one. Nothing's been changed. But the damn HD channels are not presenting all of the time in 16:9.

Four calls to customer service. First guy tried to refresh it. Second rep, a woman, dumped the call to Spanish language, and the person there couldn't speak English (which is no real surprise). The third guy couldn't help at all (and he was barely comprehensible). She's now on the phone to the fourth guy to get someone to come out.

What the fuck? Why is it so hard to get an answer from these asswipes? Do they specialize in non-support support calls?

She's going to switch service in short order if those jagoffs can't fix it for her.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Brownbacking Apology

Gov. Brownback apologized for his staff brownbacking about a snarky tweet by a teenager.

The Shawnee Mission School District overruled the demand of the high school principal, Karl R. Krawitz, that Emma Sullivan apologize to Brownback for hurting his feelings. Apparently, Krawitz has not apologized for his total ignorance of the First Amendment.

Because he is a school administrator and as we all should know by now, holding such a job pretty much requires that one undergo a cortex-ectomy in order to do the job right.

Still unanswered is why Governor Browback has a staffer whose job it to scour social media for snarky comments about the governor. Is that person's job being funded with taxpayer money? Are the good people of Kansas paying for some hypersensitive asshat to run a Twitter patrol?

I'm Going to Give Up Chocolate Ice Cream; Federal Adulterated Foods Edition

It seems that chocolate ice cream is often an amalgamation of other ice cream flavors that the factory fucked up. They put portions of the screwed-up ice cream into chocolate ice cream because the chocolate flavor masks the additions. So you could be eating part-blueberry, part-walnut, part-butterscotch, all mixed in with chocolate.

And it seems that ice cream is, by far, not the only food that gets "reconditioned".

Hey, FDA, you guys were brought into existence by the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, not the Reconditioned Food Act, or the Acceptably Adulterated Food Act.

Whiny-Ass Cry-Baby Politicians; Kansas Edition

I first saw this story over the weekend: Some Kansas teenager on a student trip to the state capitol made a snarky Twitter comment about the governor, some thin-skinned weasel named Sam Brownback. The governor' lackeys complained to the school about it. So the school's principal bitched out the kid and ordered her to write a letter of apology to the weasel.

The student, Emma Sullivan, so far, is refusing to write the letter. Good for her.

I imagine by now that the hashtag #CrybabyBrownback is in use on Twitter.* And so it should. How much of a cry-baby does a politician have to be to complain "to the proper authorities" about what a kid has to say?

And how much of a slimy brown-noser does a school principal have to be in order to haul a student into his office and demand that the kid write a letter of apology to a politician who was so offended because the kid said something mean about him?

One of the people tweeting about this suggested that we make a verb out of Brownback's name, so you would be "Brownbacking" when you "whine and complain when you've been insulted". This is an example: Rick Santorum was Brownbacking about his name being Google-bombed.

Maybe Brownback can start his day this morning by reading about an obscure concept known as "freedom of speech".

(And it's got to sting the cry-baby governor that Emma now has about twice as many Twitter followers as he does.)
__________________________
* She used the hashtag #heblowsalot, which works, too.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

MSL

No, not "mean sea level", the "Mars Science Laboratory."

Caturday; Away Edition

George shows off his one white whisker.


George and Jake are gathering some photons.


Queen Gracie.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Da Boid is in da Ovan!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Historical Pepper Spray

From here, by suggestion in the comments.


Food-Based Condiments That Should Be Served in the Fox News Cafeteria

Mustard gas. Cyanide. Ricin. (H/T)

Almost anything is hazardous if you concentrate it enough. Chemists say that it's the dose that kills you. I wonder what would happen to blithering idiots like Megyn Kelly if she was dropped into a hyperbaric chamber on pure oxygen for four atmospheres. (Just looked it up: Blindness and death.) Drinking too much water results in water intoxication, which has killed people.

But why am I going on about this? Everyone should know by now that Fox News is a pro-police state propaganda channel, unless, of course, the cops are going after the Tea party. Then they revert into civil libertarians.

The Cops Told Me I Could Rob That Bank, I Tells Ya!

That is the newest excuse being trotted out by the banksters: The regulators told them that it was OK to be scumbags and thieves.

Like this is any surprise. The Bush and Clinton Administrations eviscerated the regulators. The Republicans, in particular, have been blatant in their opinion that regulators solely exist to make life easier for the regulated industries.

But it's pretty brazen to basically say that one shouldn't be prosecuted for bank robbery because the cops were otherwise engaged in scarfing down crullers and coffee.

Yo-Ho-Ho, Mr. Data!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Next: Pepper Spray to Be Served in School Cafeterias

Since Fox News seems to think that pepper spray is a "food product"", one supposes that dispensers of OC will soon be found in the school lunch line.

Folks on Amazon
are adding helpful reviews.

It'll help add flavor to the new vegetable that the GOP is promoting: Pizza.

Ohhhh-kayyyy



(Roberta has a different one.)

Blogging will be sporadic for the next several days. I'll be away and, what the hell, it's not like I'm being paid for this gig.

Happy Thanksgiving!

11/22/1963

48 years ago, everything changed.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Difference Between the Navy and Civilian Institutions

In the Navy, if a facility or ship commander screws up, they get fired and maybe sent to prison.

In civilian life, a chief executive takes "full responsibility", keeps their job and fires other people.
"I am deeply saddened that this happened on our campus, and as chancellor, I take full responsibility for the incident," [UC-Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi] said.
She "takes full responsibility" and because she says that she's not to blame, she gets to keep her job.

In 19th Century Europe, she would have been given a nice presentation revolver, such as this:


But there would have only been one cartridge in the cartridge block of the case.

The Japanese, of course, had a different gift:


But nowadays, "I accept full responsibility" is equivalent to: "I did nuttin' wrong, it was all of them odder guys, see? I'm innocent, I tells ya!"

Funny thing about academia: "Zero tolerance" doesn't apply to any of the administrators' fuckups. A kid screws up, no tolerance. A teacher screws up, down comes the hammer. An administrator screws up, well, they'll find someone else to blame.

Stalin Would Have Had Them All Shot.

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was greeted by catcalls when he stepped into the ring after a mixed martial arts fight at a Moscow arena on Sunday night.

The whistles and shouts, heard clearly on the live television broadcast, were an unprecedented rebuke as Putin prepares to return to the presidency next year.
The upcoming presidential election in Russia is even more of a sham than the `04 presidential election was here (or any number of elections in Chicago). Russians seemed to be resigned to that, but that doesn't mean that they have to like it.

I Call "Bullshit"; Stupor-Committee Edition

Republicans proclaim they tried to reach a deal for cutting the deficit.

Bullshit. Their so-called deal was to close tax exemptions that benefit the middle class and then lower the top tax rate on the wealthy from 35% to 28%. So the rich would pay less taxes while you would be taxed on contributions to your IRA and HSA accounts.

Yeah, such a deal they had for you.

This super-committee was designed to fail, once Democrats in Congress began to understood that their previous Neville-Chamberlainesque strategy was not playing well back home.

It was the tax increases signed by President George H.W. Bush that put this country on the path to reduce the Federal deficit. It was the tax cuts signed by his imbecilic spendthrift son which put us where we are today.

British Tabloids Co-Opt the Banksters' Excuses

Read to the bottom of this story and you'll see that one of the mouthpieces for the British tabloids is offering this excuse for their hacking of mobile phones: We only provided what people wanted.

Which, when you drill down to it, is the same excuse that the banksters have offered ever since their bullshit mortgage-backed securities brought down the economy: "We only offered those crappy-ass mortgages because people would take them."

Which, when you think about it, also justifies selling kiddie porn, meth, contract killings and human slaves.

Meet the New Bosses, Same as the Old Bosses; Egyptian Edition

Protesters calling for Egypt's military to hand over power have beaten back a new raid by security forces to evict them from Cairo's Tahrir Square after more than 48 hours of violence in the heart of the Egyptian capital.

Security forces fired tear gas and attacked a makeshift field hospital on Monday morning, while protesters broke up pavements to hurl chunks of concrete at police.
The Egyptian military has no intention of submitting to civilian rule. They've pretty much had it their own way for the last sixty years. It seems that the Egyptians are realizing that forcing Mubarak out of office did not mean that they also forced out the regime.

Still Relevant Words

Jay Leno from 2008:
"It looks like the government is going to bail out CitiGroup, yet they don't want to bail out the auto companies. See, I don't think this is fair. I mean, blue collar guys who make our cars, they don't get the bailout. But the white collar guys on Wall Street, they get the bailout. You know what I think we should do? I think they should work together. I think the guys in Detroit should keep making the cars, and the guys on Wall Street should be making the license plates."

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Scumbag Lobbyists Solicit Banksters as Clients

A well-known Washington lobbying firm with links to the financial industry has proposed an $850,000 plan to take on Occupy Wall Street and politicians who might express sympathy for the protests, according to a memo obtained by the MSNBC program “Up w/ Chris Hayes.”

The proposal was written on the letterhead of the lobbying firm Clark Lytle Geduldig & Cranford and addressed to one of CLGC’s clients, the American Bankers Association.
I don't know why they need to spend that kind of money, for the already have Fox News and the Department of Homeland Security in their pockets.

On second thought, maybe they need the money to counter these images:




Truth in Political Advertising; Russian Edition

The billboard reads: "It doesn't matter anyway, you won't notice the difference."


It is referring, of course, to Vladimir Putin's certain bid to replace Dmitri Medvedev as president of Russia. The bear is the symbol of the United Russia party. The sheep, well, you can figure that one out.

(Yes, it's probably satirical.)

Best Idea That I've Read In a Long Time; Bunker-Busting Edition

It is this:

It doesn't matter how deeply the Iranians or anyone else dig their bunkers for any purpose. They still have to get in and out of them for the bunkers to be usable.

So the Air Force does not need to know where the bunkers are or how deeply they are set into the earth and under what kind of rock. They need to know where the access points are to the bunkers.

So bomb the fucking doors. And if they dig out the craters, bomb them again. If you know where the elevator shafts are to the bunker, bomb them, as well. If if access is by a horizontal shaft through a mountain, then bring the mountain down on the access shaft.

The Absolute Standard Way to Detect Police-State Methods

It is this variants of this line: "If you've done nothing wrong, you have nothing to fear."

Every time the cops trot out that line, you can figure they're creeping closer and closer to a 1984-level security state.

(Some earlier posts on this topic.)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Caturday

Jake is snoozing on his bed. By "his", because he is the one one who normally uses it.


Gracie is resting inside of a grocery bag.


George is sleeping inside his carrier. It makes for a pretty difficult photo by ambient light.

If Bull Connor Had Pepper Spray

You would have seen this:


Instead of this:


And this:


There is no "to protect and to serve" ethos anymore. It is all "to repress and suppress". The police will reap a bitter harvest from this.

Take a look at the collar insignia of that cop with the pepper spray. He is a lieutenant, the equivalent of a NYPD white shirt. There is something really creepy in all this, as the police brass seem to feel that they have to wag their dicks to show their underlings that they bosses are still bad dudes. That poor man probably needs some serious professional help. He should at least be transferred to the Rubber Gun Squad.

They still do it the Bull Connor way:

Friday, November 18, 2011

No Nudie-Scopes in Europe

The European Union has banned the use of the Nudie-Scopes that the TSA is so fond of using. The Europeans believe that there are health and privacy concerns that the makers of the virtual strip-search machines have not addressed.

Party Like It's 1992

In 1991, the incumbent president, George H.W. Bush was hugely popular. The Persian Gulf War had ended with very few American casualties. As it was then time to plan campaigns for the upcoming election, the senior stars of the Democratic party apparently did not see a road to victory. So they chose to sit that one out and wait for 1996, when the Republicans would probably be stuck with Danny Quayle as their candidate. They apparently thought that it would be a good race for the younger Democrats with presidential aspirations to get their feet wet in the game.

As we know now, things didn't work out so well for either Bush or those Democrats. The savings and loan debacle* triggered a recession that lasted for several years. President Bush also agreed to raise taxes in order to help bring the deficit under control,** a deficit which had been more than tripled by both his and the Reagan Administrations. But since Republican voters like to prattle about the deficit, but they hate doing anything about it that doesn't solely land on the backs of the poor and working classes, Bush was not very popular with the pre-Tea party wing of the GOP.

Into the election fray stepped a truly batshit-crazy egomaniac by the name of Henry Ross Perot.*** Perot siphoned off the similarly batshit-nutso GOP voters, as well as a certain percentage of the disaffected independents. On the other hand, the Democratic voters pretty much stuck with their party's candidate, a young man from Arkansas who was heretofore best known for giving an half-hour-long speech at the 1988 convention that almost resulted in his being arrested for "murder by boredom".

Clinton got just under 45 million votes which, in a two-man race at the time, probably would have sent him home. Perot siphoned off just under 20 million votes and Bush got 39 million votes. I know that there was a lot of polling on this subject, but my gut feeling then was that, regardless of what they told the pollsters, without Perot, enough voters would have held their noses and voted "R" so that Bush would have squeaked by.

I bring this up because I believe that, without some spoiling event, that 2012 will see Obama re-elected. The stronger Republicans have chosen to sit this one out, despite the entreaties of the party stalwarts. You don't have to look very hard to find conservatives bemoaning the pack of chowderheads who make up the ABM candidates and their sinking suspicion that Romney will be the electoral equivalent of Barbaro. The GOP nominating structure seems designed to squeeze its candidates into positions that will be indefensible during the general election campaign. And there is no sign that any well-financed liberal will step up to challenge this President in either the primary or general elections.

Which is why I believe that Obama will win.****
_______________________
* Brought on by deregulation of the S&Ls, both Federally and especially in Texas.
** It worked, only to be undone by his idiot son.
*** He preferred to go by his middle name, like John Edgar Hoover and Willard Mitt Romney.
**** On the other hand, I thought Kerry would win in `04. (And yes, I know the credible allegations that the GOP stole the election in Ohio, so spare me that point.)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Slow-Speed Rail

Take a look at the timetable for Amtrak's Vermonter. From White River Junction, VT to New Haven, CT, the rail line pretty much parallels I-91 and US-5. By rail, that is a distance of 196 miles. It takes Amtrak 5 hours and 20 minutes to travel that distance.

That's an average speed of 36.7mph. It probably would be faster to drive Route 5 the entire length of the trip. By car, you'd make it in three hours and that's if you obeyed the speed limits.

I'll bet that 100 years ago, it took less than 5:20 to ride the steam trans from White River Jct. to New Haven.

Don't Tell Delta About This!

Because I can totally see them trying to do this:
LONDON — Airlines have already begun charging for food, drinks, seat assignments and baggage. Now one is demanding that passengers cough up extra cash on board for fuel.

Hundreds of passengers traveling from India to Britain were stranded for six hours in Vienna when their Comtel Air flight stopped for fuel on Tuesday. The charter service asked them to kick in more than 20,000 pounds ($31,000) to fund the rest of the flight to Birmingham, England.

Which, of course, is a reason for me to once again post this video:

Once a Pack of Goons, Always a Pack of Goons; NYPD Edition

The surveillance state tactics of the NYPD nowadays are nothing new.

China's Navy

This is a Stratfor discussion about the Chinese Navy and what the two men in the video think China may do with it.



What I found interesting were George Friedman's comments on the numbers of people in China who are not participating in the Chinese economic miracle: 600 million Chinese live in households earning less than $3/day, 440 million live in households earning between $3 and $6 a day, while 60 million live in households earning $20,000 a year. That's over a billion people in the country who have seen little benefit in China's export-driven economy and who cannot afford to buy the wide range of consumer goods that China makes.

So if Europe implodes economically, which seems to be more likely each day, and that causes America to slip deeper into this lesser depression, then China will see its export markets decimated.

Which may be why there are so many stories about the Chinese government trying to stamp out any hint of Internet enabled dissent on microblogs. The Chinese government will do whatever it takes to keep order and stability and, as history has shown, if that means that they will end up killing a goodly number of people to do it, they will have no qualms about opening fire.

Self-Defense and Violence

There is a lot of food for thought in this post.

If someone breaks into your home while you are in there, in all probability, he intends to kill you. Professional burglars make certain that a home is unoccupied before breaking in.

The hardest point for people to understand may be this: If a criminal grabs your wife or kid and tells you that he won't hurt the hostage if you surrender, that is the wrong thing to do. Shoot the fucker if you can or run away, but doing what a hostage-taker wants will only lead to disaster. If he says that he will kill your kid if you don't surrender, the odds are that he was going to kill the child anyway. Only if you surrender, then he gets to kill you, as well. But if you surrender, he gets to kill both of you at his leisure.

(H/T)

From a few years back, my one experience with this issue.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

To Fly

British Airways commercial, the long version.



If you love airplanes, this should put a lump in your throat. And you probably can identify every one of those airplanes.

The ABM Race in the GOP

"ABM" as in "Anybody But Mitt":
CONCORD, NH (The Borowitz Report) – The race for the Republican presidential nomination took an unexpected turn today as a new poll showed that a startled deer was the new GOP frontrunner.

Bucky, the red deer who is the first choice of likely Republican voters is believed to be the first woodland creature ever to lead a major party’s presidential field.

“Voters like what they see in Bucky,” said veteran political strategist Ed Rollins, who has signed on to helm the red deer’s primary campaign. “The fact that he is unable to speak is a major asset.”
That is very close to the truth, for it seems that the GOP stalwarts are scrambling to find anyone who can speak lucidly and yet motivate the crazy-ass Teapartiers as well as the Christian Taliban to turn out on Election Day.

I said four months ago that if the goal of the Republicans was to defeat President Obama, they already had the candidate who could do that: Jon Huntsman. I have not changed my opinion.

Huntsman's problem is that he sees himself as an American, not just a party member. So when a president from the other party called and said: "I need you to serve our country", Huntsman said he would. That is anathema to the batshit-insane Republicans, who would rather chow down on a bowl of ground glass and chopped-up clock springs than work for a Democrat.*

Bishop Romney's problem, of course, is that nobody trusts him. Name a topic and you will find that Romney has been on both sides of the issue. The only thing that Romney believes in is his own ambition. He'd say anything or do anything to win an election. He has no lodestone, other than maybe his church, and that makes people very uncomfortable.

Which is why it is comically plausible that the party of Hoover would want to vote for a deer.
________________________
*Tehy will make an exception if the job involves shooting foreigners.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Greedy Fucktard Retail Corporations

As stores up the ante with earlier holiday hours that creep into Thanksgiving night, Black Friday is turning into Black Thursday, and some shoppers and employees aren't happy about it.

•Toys R Us said Monday that it will open at 9 p.m. on Thanksgiving, an hour earlier than last year and the earliest of any retailer so far this year.

•Walmart will open at 10 p.m., two hours ahead of last year's midnight opening.
So how about this: Pay the employees triple-time on a purely voluntary basis. Any supervisor who pressures anyone to work who doesn't want to give up their Thanksgiving would be tied to a post outside the store and flogged.

What is the point of having a national holiday if the retail fuckers open their stores for the pathetic losers who cannot go a day without throwing their money down on the checkout counter? Veterans' Day has already been gutted into a meaningless prostration to the Gods of Consumerism. Cannot we keep one holiday in this country safe from the grasping of the retail corporations?

"Religious Liberty", My Ass

The Catholic Church is seeking to cloak trying to use the law to discriminate against people as "religious liberty".

They're probably kicking themselves in the ass because they didn't think of that argument as a way of stymieing investigations into their kiddie-raping priests.

Funny thing how Catholicism and the Dixie version of Christianity gets themselves all in a tizzy about gays marrying. But all of that stuff that their Savior preached about caring for the poor and the sick and the lame doesn't seem to matter to them. And all the stuff about how being rich is a great hindrance to being saved because people tend to care more for the trappings of being rich than the people around them, that gets shrugged off.

When I listen to the words of the self-styled evangelical politicians, it seems to me that I have rarely heard a pack of people that were more hateful and judgmental than those birds.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Trapped

Zillow reports that 28.% of American homeowners are "underwater", in that they owe more on their homes than the homes are worth. I'll bet that in some places, like the Las Vegas area, it probably is closer to 50%.

Even if those homeowners can get their lenders to agree to a short sale,* what they put into the house, from down payments to improvements, are lost to them. People who had to save for years to afford their down payments and closing costs may end up having to rent from here on out. Millions of homeowners played by the rules. They did what they were supposed to do.

But the greed of the banksters trumped all. Those fuckers all made money from both sides of the housing debacle, both the rise and the crash. And now, they are doing what they can to inflate their bonuses.

The banksters say: "Ask not what I can do for America, ask only what I can steal with both hands." Those criminals have transferred trillions of dollars of wealth from the middle class to the ultra-rich by their schemes and machinations.

There will be a reckoning some day.
________________________________
* Good luck with that, since thanks to bundling and the CDOs, who owns the mortgage and has the power to agree to that is arguable.

Keep Pulling Your Accounts From Those Guys

There is another story in today's NY Times about how the big banksters keep trying to nickel-and-dime their customers.

Lose your debit card? Bank of America will ding you $5.

Want to make a check deposit with your smartphone? US Bankcorp will smack you fifty cents a check.

Want to transfer your money to a checking account that offers a better deal? Citibank tries to make that as hard as possible.

They aren't the only ones. All of the big banksters are trying to come up with new ways to shake down their customers. They keep cutting the interest on savings accounts and they are reaping billions by that one move.

There is a way to fight back against the banksters: Move your money! Credit unions. Local banks. Online banks. You don't have to just sit there and take this shit from the banksters. Fight back! Hit them where it hurts them the most.

Move your money!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Taser Death Verdict

A Taser was used by police to kill a 17 year old boy. The kid's parents sued Taser, which lost big time in court.

I hope the verdict stands up on appeal, but I am not holding my breath. My impression has been that Federal appellate courts are all too willing to throw out civil jury verdicts when a company loses.

What's a Little Propaganda Between Friends?

Like his counterparts across the country, Mayor Mike Winder unabashedly promotes his community. But the style is unorthodox: He uses an alias and freelances upbeat articles about West Valley City, Utah.

Winder, mayor of the state's second-largest city, said he took the approach because the media spent too much time on crime coverage.

He unapologetically revealed himself this week, insisting the balance was needed.

"I thought about all the people just reading about crime in our city and nothing better," Winder said Friday. "I'm trying to stand up for us because we do get the short end of the stick — negative stories."
There are two things going on here. First is the repugnant fact that a politician resorted to sock-puppet journalism to plant stories that both lauded his crime-ridden town and praised the job that he was doing.

He used his pseudonym to plant propaganda pieces for things he favored, such as a bond issue:
Winder had seven articles published in the Oquirrh Times as Richard Burwash between September and December 2010. The news stories included a three-part series in October 2010 touting reasons voters should approve a $25 million bond measure for parks and trails.

Winder quotes himself in each of those stories and also uses anonymous city employees as sources. Opponents of the bond and their concerns were not mentioned in any of the stories. The bond ultimately failed.
Winder, like every other politician who is caught doing something wrong, fell back on the "lapse in judgement" excuse, conveniently glossing over the point that he was also planting stories as part of his side job with a lobbying group.

The point that is getting less traction is that the newspaper which ran the stories, the Deseret News, was relying on contributors like Winder because the newspaper cut back on its own staff of reporters. They set themselves up to be used by clowns by Winder.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Got a Spare $50K?

Then you can buy a newly-manufactured Colt 1877 Gatling gun! It's chambered in period-correct .45-70, which should be a real gas if you were to load them with black powder.



The price is from RUMINT, so if you can afford one, you'll have to have a dealer call Colt's wholesaler for price info.

Caturday; Away Edition

Bella is hiding from my cats.


Rocky, friendly as ever.


My cats took over a couch. From front to rear, George, Gracie and Jake.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Child Raping at Penn State

In five stunning days, a child sex abuse scandal that rocked the state's flagship public university led to the departure Wednesday of Penn State University President Graham Spanier and its legendary football coach Joe Paterno.

At a late night news conference that followed an emergency closed-door session on campus, John Surma, board of trustees vice chairman said Mr. Spanier was no longer president by mutual agreement and that Mr. Paterno had been fired.
Does anyone not understand that sexually abusing a child is a serious crime? Do organizations not comprehend after all this time that no matter who was the perpetrator, who their friends are or who they work for, the allegation must be reported to the cops?

No coverup. No sweeping it under the rug. No trying to counsel the offender. No treating it as "an internal matter". It is a law enforcement matter, just as though the alleged offender had walked into the office and shot somebody.

Raping the Land, Robbing the Taxpayers; PA Edition

The Teabagger who is the governor of Pennsylvania wants to make sure that well drillers continue to skate away from their wells.

When a well is drilled in private or state property, the driller is required to post a bond to cover the costs of capping the well. The bond for a well on private property is nowhere near the cost of actually capping the well, and both the Republicans in the state legislature and the Governor are just fine with that.

What will happen is that when a well is abandoned, the taxpayers of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania will have to pay for capping the well. Because the drillers, who by then will be long gone, sure as shit won't.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Have a Miscarriage, Go to Jail for Murder

That may sound far-fetched. However, I submit, Gentle Reader, that if the so-called "Personhood Amendment" passes in Mississippi, that is exactly what will happen.

A woman who is has a difficult pregnancy in Mississippi will run the risk of prison time or not inconceivably, being executed. If you don't believe that prosecutors in Mississippi will not end up targeting poor mothers who had miscarriages and trying to send those mothers to prison, if not Death Row, then I respectfully submit that you should read up on the sheer vindictiveness of the legal system in that part of this nation.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Chrysler Could Make Shit

They did an excellent job during the Second World War when they made Bofors 40mm antiaircraft guns.

Two datapoints: It took Bofors 450 man-hours to make each gun. Chrysler got that down to ten man-hours. The extractor of a Bofors-made gun was good for 1,500 rounds. Chrysler re-engineered it and tripled that life-span.

(H/T)

The Only Kardashian Divorce Post You'll See On This Blog

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Send Your Disabled Child to a New York State Facility
And You'll Probably Get Him Back In a Box

In New York, it is unusually common for developmentally disabled people in state care to die for reasons other than natural causes.
That includes deaths like lowering quadriplegics into tubs, turning on the taps and then walking away as the patient drowns. Letting people who can't handle stairs go down them unsupervised. letting people choke to death. Inadequate fire safety rules, in that "group homes" are classified as residences not custodial care facilities. "Paper" fire drills.

This bears repeating: Placing a person in a New York State custodial care facility for disabled or mentally challenged adults is tantamount to signing a death warrant. There is little state supervision, for the state government clearly does not give a fuck.

Why This Movie?

Clint Eastwood is making a movie about J. Edgar Hoover.

Why would anyone be interested in seeing a movie about a man who did more than any single other individual to turn this country into a police state? Hoover was a thug whose sole guiding star was his own personal power and his own ego. Hoover had whoever he wanted wiretapped without a court order. Hoover's FBI conducted warrantless "black bag" searches. The FBI acted to deny Americans of their First Amendment rights.

None of the above is my opinion. It is all factual, as found by the an in-depth congressional investigation in the 1970s.

His FBI was an agency that regarded itself as being above the law. To some extent, that attitude remains to this day.

Unless this movie exposes Hoover as the hypocritical fascist that he was, why make it?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Hell, I Thought That They Were Doing This All Along

The Justice Department has gotten the message from journalists, interest groups and government watchdogs and has decided to withdraw its proposal to allow federal agencies to lie to people seeking sensitive documents under the Freedom of Information Act.

Republicans Thank All Veterans

Even veterans of the Soviet Navy:


Did they just buy a stock photo of an old veteran and nobody even looked at it?

Well, it could have been worse. They could have used a photo of this guy:

Caturday

Gracie goes the camouflage route, lying on a white carpet.


George.


Jake comes out of the closet. There is an empty spot under the bottommost shelf that he uses for a refuge.

Friday, November 4, 2011

OWS: Galactic Edition

From here:


(H/T)

When Does It Become a "Criminal Organization"?

Murdoch's empire, as now the phone hacking and police payoff scandal is spreading to other Murdoch newspapers in the UK.

Police Torture; Oakland Edition

How else to describe both the brutal beating by the Oakland police of another veteran and the deliberate withholding of medical treatment?

Bullying Is Just Peachy, If It is Based on Religious Beliefs

That's the way it is in Michigan. Because the Republicans want to make sure that tormenting gay kids is legal.

Would You Ask a Crook About Making Theft Illegal?

But that's pretty much the way things go with the banksters: The people who were at the core of looting the American economy are being allowed to weigh in on the regulations to limit their chances of doing it again.
Months before MF Global teetered on the brink, federal regulators were seeking to rein in the types of risky trades that contributed to the firm’s collapse. But they faced opposition from an influential opponent: Jon S. Corzine, the head of the then little-known brokerage firm.

As a former United States senator and a former governor of New Jersey, as well as the leader of Goldman Sachs in the 1990s, Mr. Corzine carried significant weight in the worlds of Washington and Wall Street. While other financial firms employed teams of lobbyists to fight the new regulation, MF Global’s chief executive in meetings over the last year personally pressed regulators to halt their plans.
Note that Corzine has hired a criminal defense lawyer, which is a pretty good indication that something funky went on.

The government has to stop taking advice from the very crooks who stole billions, if not trillions of dollars from the rest of us.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

I Paid More In Federal Taxes Last Year Than Boeing Aircraft or General Electric

And hell, I didn't work the last four months of the year!

I'm not talking as a percentage, I'll talking about actual dollar amount.

So now we know that GE's "imagination at work" describes what their tax lawyers and accountants do.

Don't Let The MBAs Do This

That would be take a push to buy American-made products and turn it into a cover for turning out shoddy goods.

You know that I have a less than exalted opinion of the professional managers. If there was a campaign to bring jobs back and buy good made in this country, then I would fully expect to happen what did over thirty years ago: Such a campaign was used to hide the truth that, at the time, a whole class of American-made products sucked.

In the 1970s and 1980s, the automakers got behind a "Buy `Murrican, Y'all" campaign. They saw that, at the time, as the way to combat the bitter pill that Datsun, Toyota and Honda were making better cars. That was a time when Ford stood for "Found On Road, Dead", Dodge meant "Drips Oil Drops Grease Everywhere" and Chrysler meant "Company Has Recommended that You Start Learning Engine Repair". Detroit made crappy cars and they continued to make them because customers had no choice. So if you wanted a car that ran reasonably trouble three, you had to trade in that POS within three years, that didn't bother Detroit. Less Quality = More Profits!

But when consumers realized that they had a choice and they could buy a well-made car for the same price, they did so, in droves. An entire generation came to associate "made in Detroit" with "dogshit on wheels". Whether or not the Formerly Big Three learned their lesson is another question, but they have had to battle a well-earned reputation for making gasoline-powered garbage.

That was the professional managers' doing. Would you want to buy a car that was made by company run by Mitt Romney?

You can't trust those guys. Not now. Not ever.

Wørd; OWS Edition

BadTux makes a very good point in this post: The Occupy Wall Street protests are a symptom of something that is very wrong in this country, namely, the hyper-concentration of wealth in this country in the hands of very few people.

We can fix things, now, and go back towards the days when workers were paid a living wage and the managers were paid a good amount, not a rapacious amount. Or the country can try to clamp down on the protestors.

But keep this in mind: The protests are a symptom of what is wrong. They are a symptom of the fact that class mobility has stagnated.* Masking or ignoring symptoms is a bad idea. It's like playing the radio louder to cover up the squeaking noise coming from the engine. Or taking aspirin to quiet that annoying pain in your chest. All masking symptoms does is ensure that when the problem does overcome the masking, it comes back stronger and louder.

Let's assume that the wealthy succeed, for now, in continuing on with their raping of the rest of America. When the blowup comes, either way, the rich will lose, for either they will have everything taken away from them in a violent revolution, or they will impose a police state. The former is self-evident. In the latter case, the rich are OK until those holding the guns ask themselves "why are we working for those guys" and then they take it for themselves.

If you think that is impossible, then ask "who is the richest man in Europe." You might be surprised to know that it is not a person with business acumen or inheritance. It is the man with the guns.

So this is the choice facing the very top of the pyramid: Engage in an open discussion, now, of how to reform the system so that the rest of Americans have a chance to succeed. We need to get back to the days when it was more merit-based than based on who your parents were.**

We can go back to making the inter-generational concentration of wealth disfavored once again, to reduce the importance of Lucky Sperm Lotto.*** Or we can kick this can down the road.

_______________________________
* A key indication of that has been the ultra-conservative attack on public education.
** Anybody who believes that George W. Bush would have been president if he had grown up being raised by a single mother in Texas had better put down the meth pipe.
*** An exemption for family farms is good. An exemption for Koch Industries is not.

One Way to Start the Restoration of the Greatness of America

Go to every business school in the country, lock the faculty inside and implode the fucking buildings. Then you go to about half of the law schools and repeat the exercise.*

"Professional managers" have had their fingers on the dismantling of the American manufacturing base. Their focus on "the bottom line", on quarterly profits, and their self-interest in arranging things so they get paid based on short-term results have been the overwhelming factor in the decline of manufacturing, which was the major source of decent jobs for high-school graduates.

I also don't want to overlook the corrosive effect of several large retail chains, whose focus on price over any degree of quality helped to push the making of a lot of goods offshore. Between those asswipes and the MBAs, factories have been chasing the cheapest workers, as they moved from the northeast to the south, then to Mexico, Honduras, Taiwan, China and more recently, to Vietnam and Burma. They seek places where workers get paid very little and the governments are unconcerned with issues such as pollution and worker safety.

Because cleaning up one's operation and providing a safe workplace costs money that otherwise would go into the pockets of the MBAs.

The corrosive effect of the focus on the bottom line is also playing out across the state of Connecticut. The main electrical utility in the state, Connecticut Light and Power, has so slashed the number of line repair and maintenance crews that every time there is a little bit of a problem, CL&P has to hire contractors from as far away as Michigan.

It's not just CL&P, of course. All of the utilities have slashed maintenance. You can drive around just about everywhere and see utility lines that have become overgrown with vegetation, to the point that the only ones that they sort of still try to keep clear are very high-tension lines. They have taken a Ford Pinto mentality that it's cheaper to repair line breaks than it is to prevent them.

That is what professional managers do: They figure out whatever will put the most money into their pockets right now. They postpone repairs and maintenance, not only is it more profitable in the short therm to do that, but because they also are betting that by the time the entire house of cards cashes down, it will be somebody else's problem.

That same mentality is behind the underfunded maintenance of American roads. One example which is New York, which has deliberately raided the highway maintenance fund for years, which is not the only dedicated user-funded maintenance fund that they've tried to raid.

You know things are bad when car companies make commercials that say "American roads suck."



We need to get back to making shit right. We can do that, in part, by relegating the MBA degree to the same amount of respect as having a degree in advanced heraldry.**
___________________________
*Start by torching every one that has opened since 1975.
** That's not entirely fair. The MBA degree should be regarded as the equivalent of being convicted for being a homicidal pedophile.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Edjumacation From the Banksters

TD Bank wants to educate its customers on how to avoid nickel-and-diming fees that TD Bank will charge them.*

Here's my simple guide to avoiding those fees if you are a customer of TD Bank:

Close your accounts. Move your money elsewhere.

This has been a public service message from EBM. You're welcome
_______________
*The fees are a hell of a lot more than either a nickel or a dime, but you get my drift.

Jail to the Banksters!

Federal prosecutors and the FBI are set to join the inquiry into what happened to hundreds of millions of dollars invested with a securities firm headed by former New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine, officials familiar with the case told NBC New York.
In case you've forgotten, Corzine was the CEO of the most vicious of the banksters, Goldman Sachs.

The Distinction Between Ignorance and Stupid

You can't fix "stupid".
As allegations of sexual harassment from the 1990's continue to loom over Herman Cain's campaign this week, the GOP frontrunner is also raising eyebrows with his foreign policy remarks.

In an interview Monday, Cain said part of China's threat to the United States stems from its attempts to develop nuclear weapons -- even though China tested its first nuclear weapon in 1964.
China has ICBMs. They have ballistic missile submarines.

This isn't a matter of not knowing who the president is Uzbekistan. This is not knowing a central fact of global military matters: Who the major nuclear powers are.

Can Cain possibly be this ignorant? Does he even know what an ICBM is?

Because Congress Has Nothing Else With Which to Occupy Its Time During the 109 Days That They Are Scheduled to Be Working

WASHINGTON — The House on Tuesday passed a non-binding resolution reaffirming "In God We Trust" as the national motto.
Because the nation is not at war, they've agreed on a budget for FY 2012, they've done what they can to fix the economy so it's time for bullshit and flowers!

OK, to be fair, the 109 days in session for the year is next year. This year, they're planning to work a whopping 111 days. Oh, the humanity!

Ten holidays a year. 104 weekend days. If you get two weeks of vacation a year, which many workers do not, that's another ten days off. 124 days off, so you're working 241 days a year. Which means that this year, on 130 days that you're working, your Congressman is pretty much just fucking off or trying to extort money get campaign contributions from large banks, the Chamber of Commerce or all the other professional cocksuckers who infest the political system.

One Terrorism Story That Will Be Quickly Buried On Fox News

Atlanta (CNN) -- Federal agents charged four Georgia men they say are part of a fringe militia group with plotting to attack government officials with explosives and the biotoxin ricin, prosecutors in Atlanta announced Tuesday.

A government informant recorded the men discussing plans to manufacture ricin, a highly poisonous substance derived from castor beans, and attack Justice Department officials, federal judges and Internal Revenue Service agents, according to court papers released Tuesday afternoon.
Oh, they'll mention it. They kind of have to at least acknowledge that this happened.

But it'll be quickly buried. Because "White Male Christian Right-Wing Terrorist" does not fit into the Fox News narrative. So they'll shift over to the impending Kardashian divorce and try to make a point about how this country needs to follow the moral sensibilities of, you know, the guys who were plotting to poison lots of people in Atlanta.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Well, Crap

William the Coroner has died.
William Zeus Bligh-Glover, M.D. 
1968-2011

(H/T1, H/T2)

The Second World War

A photographic series.

Some of it is very grim. All of it is worth your time.

(H/T)

Keep Pulling Your Accounts From Those Guys

Yes, I know that the banksters who imposed or planned to impose debit card fees have changed their minds, all, that is, except the mouthbreathing swine at Bank of America.

I say: Keep closing those accounts regardless.

The reason I say that is because those banksters are just going to try with other fees. They'll charge you for receiving a statement by mail. They'll charge you for using a live teller. They'll charge you for moving money from your savings account to your checking account. They'll charge you for doing a transaction online.

They'll figure out other ways to separate you from your money.

So keep closing those accounts. Don't use their ATMs. They're feeling some pain, now. Keep inflicting it. Through our government, we, the American people, made it possible for those fuckers to keep drawing multi-million dollar paychecks and bonuses. It wasn't the banksters financial acumen which avoided what would have been the Great Bank Crash of 2008. It was our money that did that. And boy oh boy, with all of the fees those fuckers keep trying to impose, can't you just feel the gratitude and love they have towards us for saving their bespoke-suited asses.

Multi-million dollar salaries, my ass. In a just Universe, their heads would have long ago rotted away on pikes. In a reasonably fair Universe, they would be lining up for meals inside of a few Federal prisons.

But no. They set up this recession. They pumped up the housing market by offering sub-prime and similar loans. It was the banksters that opted to offer "liar loans" and "nina loans". It was the big banksters that bundled the loans into toxic securities and sold them, which removed those rotten loans from their local portfolios. It was the banksters, the really crooked ones, who offered those securities and then sold them short. And now the banksters keep trying to cover up their misdeeds with robo-signed mortgages and other fraudulent documents.

So now that the last Congress cracked down, just a tad (for the present Congress would no no such thing), the banksters are screaming and trying to gouge the small customers.

Fuck them. Fuck them hard. Keep pulling your accounts from them.