Seen on the street in Kyiv.

Words of Advice:

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

“The Mob takes the Fifth. If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?” -- The TOFF *

"Foreign Relations Boil Down to Two Things: Talking With People or Killing Them." -- Unknown

“Speed is a poor substitute for accuracy.” -- Real, no-shit, fortune from a fortune cookie

"If you believe that you are talking to G-d, you can justify anything.” — my Dad

"Colt .45s; putting bad guys in the ground since 1873." -- Unknown

"Stay Strapped or Get Clapped." -- probably not Mr. Rogers

"The Dildo of Karma rarely comes lubed." -- Unknown

"Eck!" -- George the Cat

* "TOFF" = Treasonous Orange Fat Fuck,
"FOFF" = Felonious Old Fat Fuck,
"COFF" = Convicted Old Felonious Fool,
A/K/A Commandante (or Cadet) Bone Spurs,
A/K/A El Caudillo de Mar-a-Lago, A/K/A the Asset,
A/K/A P01135809, A/K/A Dementia Donnie, A/K/A Felon^34,
A/K/A Dolt-45, A/K/A Don Snoreleone

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Because, After All, It's Not About the People.
It's All About Him

It is not about health care or principles or any of that shit. It is all about Joe Lieberman's pathetic wrinkled old ego.
"I feel relevant,'' Lieberman said in a conference call with a handful of Connecticut reporters this afternoon.
That is all that it is about. Lieberman needs to have his overblown sense of self-importance catered to. He was probably feeling all neglected as the Democrats and the White House was fawning over Sen. Olympia Snow, so Lieberman had to hog the spotlight to let the Democrats know that he matters.

Fuck him. LBJ used to say "better to have him inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in." That's not true of Lieberman; he is inside the Democrats' tent and he is pissing all over them.

There is no difference between having 60 Democrats in the senatorial caucus, counting Lieberman, and having 59 votes without him. Lieberman is an wholly untrustworthy and thoroughly self-absorbed scumbag. He has proven, time and time again, that he will slip the knife into the back of the Democratic caucus whenever it suits him, which just happens to be whenever. he feels the need to be on camera.

It'd be better for the Democrats if he were a Republican, for then he would just be one of a group of 41 obstructionist skells and he would be interchangeable with all of those other hairy bags of mostly water and sleaze.


Supplies in Space

A Russian "Progress" supply ship approaches the ISS.

Found here.


George, being himself, which is to say "brimming with attitude."

Jake, nice and still for a no-flash shot.

Gracie, no flash. This was a one-second exposure and it came out a little dark. It was hard as hell to frame it and I'm amazed that she was as still as she was.

Standard time starts at 2AM tomorrow. Which means, for the next week, at least, they are going to be trying to get me up at 5:30AM, because to them, it is late and "Moooom, we're staarrrvvvvinngggg!"

Friday, October 30, 2009

Truly, a Modest Proposal

On March 14, 2010, when it comes time once again for Daylight Savings Time, let's try something different. Instead of moving the clocks forward one hour, let's just move them forward 30 minutes.

And then let's leave them there. No more of this "spring forward, fall back" crap, that'll just be the new standard time.

A Stalker's Paradise

Best Buy, which is selling a great tool for stalking (or painting) people. As in this definition of "painting".

Oh sure, Best Buy will earnestly claim that this gizmo is designed to be used by concerned parents, not by vengeful ex-lovers or ex-husbands or stalkers. They'll be shocked and horrified if a stalker uses this thing to track and kill someone.

But we know better, don't we?

Speaking of People Who Should Be Severely Flogged

I nominate Gore Vidal, for this comment about the Polanski matter:
Look, am I going to sit and weep every time a young hooker feels as though she’s been taken advantage of?
"Misogynistic" doesn't even begin the cover the ground for that arrogant and hateful old fart.

Let's refresh, shall we: Polanski gave a 13 year old girl champagne, quaaludes and then proceeded to rape her. He committed forcible rape and sodomy on a child. For that, the fucking Hollywood community lionizes him as some sort of persecuted darling?

Like hell. Polanski should have been drawn and quartered. They should have staked him out in a clearing and let the coyotes and vultures eat him alive. They should have then mounted his head on a pike outside of the entrance to Paramount Studios as a warning to the other creative douchebags who think they can do whatever the fuck they want to.

Yeah, yeah, I know. "Vengeance is bad, blah, blah, blah." Maybe so. But this adulation that the "creative community" has been heaping on that fucking little kiddy-rapist is stomach-churning.

(And fuck the French for sheltering that piece of vomit for 30 years. Somebody please tell the Germans that we won't intervene next time.)



So the Colonials are starving to death and being eaten by the local predators, both animal and human.

Toljaso, I did.

The Wimpification of Halloween, or
Why School Administrators Need to Be Beaten With Chains

It's Halloween, kids. Try not to have any fun at school. If your kid wants to dress up like Martin van Buren, fine. Zombies, no.

They want to "portray positive images". Where is the fun in that? Speaking of zombies, school administrators would be the only people safe in a zombie outbreak, as they have no brains to be eaten.

The Fox News Smackdown

Fox News is a propaganda tool of the GOP. Get used to it.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
For Fox Sake!
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

They didn't even scratch the surface.

Update: Via GTF (who calls Jon Stewart "the smartest man on TV"), James Fallows's take on this.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Zero Tolerance, Zero Brains; School Edition (Yet Again)

Does one have to be a drooling automaton in order to be a school administrator? Do they take them in for brain surgery and remove their cerebral cortexes before putting them in an office?

Sure seems like it.
An 11-year-old Des Moines girl was at home on suspension Tuesday for bringing a handful of empty shotgun shells to school last week.
When you read the article, note that the school's policy bans "live ammunition". Yet:
Principal Randy Gordon said the shells were considered ammunition even though they were empty, and were therefore against school policy.
Which makes him, quite possibly, the dumbest person on the planet. Considering that he had to beat out George Bush and Glenn Beck for the title, that's a remarkable achievement.

Is Anyone Really Surprised at This?

No real shock, here:
In-Q-Tel, the investment arm of the CIA and the wider intelligence community, is putting cash into Visible Technologies, a software firm that specializes in monitoring social media. It’s part of a larger movement within the spy services to get better at using ”open source intelligence” — information that’s publicly available, but often hidden in the flood of TV shows, newspaper articles, blog posts, online videos and radio reports generated every day.

Visible crawls over half a million web 2.0 sites a day, scraping more than a million posts and conversations taking place on blogs, online forums, Flickr, YouTube, Twitter and Amazon. (It doesn’t touch closed social networks, like Facebook, at the moment.) Customers get customized, real-time feeds of what’s being said on these sites, based on a series of keywords.
No fucking shit, people. If you post on a public network (such as having a public blog, like this one), anyone can read it, including the CIA, FBI, MI6, FSB, Mossad, etc., etc.

Here's a tip: If you don't want your writings read, don't post them on the motherfuckering Internet!

A Little Light Reading

The FBI's Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide. It is a PDF that is nearly 14Mb in size and is 269 pages long.

Valerie Caproni, general counsel for the FBI:
"I don’t like to think of us as a spy agency because that makes me really nervous. We don’t want to live in an environment where people in the United States think the government is spying on them. That’s an oppressive environment to live in and we don’t want to live that way.”
But then she went on to note that the FBI is becoming more "intelligence driven". Which pretty much means that the FBI is a spy agency, regardless of whether that term makes the FBI's lawyers like to think of it that way.


The morning began with stepping in a nice small pile of cat barf. There were two piles, both places so close to the door of my bedroom as to guarantee that I would step in one of them. I fed the cats, went to the bathroom and saw that my hair was in a state that could have scared the fingernails off of Freddy Kruger.

Otherwise, I would be commenting extensively on this:
“There is no piece of land in Afghanistan that has not been occupied by one of our soldiers at some time or another. Nevertheless much of the territory stays in the hands of the terrorists. We control the provincial centers, but we cannot maintain political control over the territory we seize.

“Our soldiers are not to blame. They’ve fought incredibly bravely in adverse conditions. But to occupy towns and villages temporarily has little value in such a vast land where the insurgents can just disappear into the hills.” ...

“Without [more equipment], without a lot more men, this war will continue for a very, very long time” -- Marshal Sergei Akhromeyev, Chief of the Soviet General Staff, November 13, 1986.
If one reads up a little on the Soviet Union's war in Afghanistan, one can find comments about generals who, before the war started, advised caution, given the experiences of the British and Russian armies in Central Asia in the 1800s. They were told to shut up and do their jobs. One can imagine that similar conversations took place in Ft. Fumble in 2001.

And so, here we are.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Too Close to Be Humor?

The Onion:
KABUL, AFGHANISTAN— According to sources at the Pentagon, American quagmire-building efforts continued apace in Afghanistan this week, as the geographically rugged, politically unstable region remained ungovernable, death tolls continued to rise, and the grim military campaign persisted as hopelessly as ever.

In fact, many government officials now believe that the United States and its allies could be as little as six months away from their ultimate goal: the total quagmirification of Afghanistan.
"Quagmirification." That's a word that sounds like something out of "Firefly".

In Vegas? Might Want to Avoid the Vinter's Grill

Unless your idea of fun is to sit at a table and wait over a half an hour for your server to bring your drink order and to ask what you want to order for dinner. I say "over a half an hour" because that is how long this writer sat there, waiting, before her party gave up and went somewhere else to eat.

(Oh, and Cycles & More still sucks.)


Old military humor:
"I need three volunteers for a patrol: You, you and you."

This comes to mind as the Navy is getting to make some academy pukes volunteer for submarine duty:
In a message to the Brigade of Midshipmen on Tuesday, the academy’s director of professional development, Capt. Stephen Evans, wrote that the academy this year was required to send 125 officers into the nuclear submarine training pipeline, but that only 92 had been accepted by Naval Reactors. That meant 33 midshipmen would be asked to volunteer or told to become sub nukes.
I guess my reaction can be summed up in two words: "Tough shit."

Everyone in the armed forces knows (or should know) that the needs of the service take priority over everything else. They do try to accommodate the needs of people, but if they need a warm sack of meat in a job and you're the one that comes to mind, off you go.

Big Surprise, Eh?

The CIA has been paying off Ahmed Wali Karzai for years. He the brother of President Karzai and is an alleged kingpin in the Afghan heroin trade.

I suppose the CIA does some good work. An argument could be made that their successes are largely secret. But sometimes it seems that when there is a really serious foreign policy screwup, where the reverberations last for decades, you can find the CIA's fingerprints all over it.

Update: Abu Muqawama's take on this:
Again, I am not in a position to confirm or deny that the CIA has an enduring relationship with AWK, and I am telling the truth when I tell you that all I "know" about this is what I read in the open source world. But you can be darn sure that if we think that AWK is the CIA's guy, the Afghans most certainly believe that to be the case.
Abu Muqawama calls the article in the NY Times "the most important article on Afghanistan you'll read this week."

Men Who Stare at Goats

That movie had better have a shitload of good comments before I would consider going to it. George Clooney has been in two of the three biggest stinkers that I have ever seen,[1] and they were sort of purported to be funny.

[1]"Confessions of a Dangerous Mind" and "Burn After Reading." The third is "the English Patient." A close fourth was "the Cell."

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Great Britain- Formerly a Free Nation

Now a nation where the courts let corporations use a law, which was written to stop domestic abusers, to stifle public protests.

Connecticut: Thanks for Nothing

You fucking Nutmeggers just had to send that crypto-Republican Lieberman back to the Senate in 2006, didn't you? You couldn't send him off to retirement, to be another one of those conservative pundits on Fox who regularly give tug jobs to Republican politicians, no, you couldn't. You just had to send that drooling backstabbing cocksucking little fuck back to Congress.

Well, he is at it again
, lining up with his asswipe buddies in the GOP to protect the interests of the health insurers and, as is the pattern and practice of Republicans, giving a hearty "fuck you" to the working people.

So thanks for nothing, Connecticut. If you want to redeem yourselves, call that little fucktard's office at (202) 224-4041 or (860) 549-8463 and politely explain to the soulless troll who answers the line that you strongly disagree with the scaly old douchebag's senator's position on this issue.

If not, then go fuck yourselves.

Vultures. Vampires. Wall Street

The guy who built AIG is trying to pirate its employees in order to build AIG 2.0.

I don't buy, not even for a picosecond, that AIG turned into a massive money-sucking trainwreck in just three years.

Monday, October 26, 2009

I Guess Ensigns Don't Need to Know Jack Shit

Navy OCS is 12 weeks long.

I guess you don't need to know a lot of shit anymore in order to be an ensign. In the mid `70s, OCS was 19 weeks long. Then they cut it to 16 weeks. Back then, every ensign coming out of OCS had to be able to compute and plot celestial navigation and visual navigation fixes. In-shore navigation was practiced on WW2-surplus YPs in the waters off the Newport Naval Station.

They probably don't teach any of that crap anymore, since they have gone from 133-day-wonders to 84-day-wonders.

Happy Anniversary

To the last known case of naturally-occurring smallpox, which was diagnosed 32 years ago. It took 18 years of vaccinating the world's population to eradicate the disease from the title the proposal to eradicate smallpox was adopted by the World Health Assembly until the disease was eradicated.

When the proposal was adopted, two million people were killed each year from smallpox. Before the first primitive smallpox vaccines were developed, 400,000 Europeans died each year from smallpox. Every seventh child in Russia was killed by smallpox.

Vaccination defeated smallpox. Not homepathy, not pseudo-science cures. If the current anti-vaccination lunatics were around decades ago, there still would be smallpox epidemics, though in a form of brutal justice, they would be restricted to the children of the anti-vaccination morons.

HK. Because You Suck. And We Hate You.

Two years since the original post, the fun continues.

There is a basic reason why one should probably consider lower-end pistols for carry purposes: If you ever have to shoot somebody with one, the gun will be history. No matter how righteous the shooting is, the cops will take it for evidence. If you cap someone with a $3,000 custom 1911, you can pretty much count on it disappearing from the police property room by the time the investigation ends. You'll probably get a cheap-ass Taurus back, though.

Whichever you choose to carry, make sure it works. And carry it with you! A cheap little gun is better than no gun at all.

Unabashed Shnorring

Look, I know that hard times have arrived. The economists, at least some of them, say that this recession is over.

I am not seeing it. I don't know too many people who are. I see empty stores. I drove past a small strip-mall yesterday that was completed last year and has no tenants. I know another one that is a year old and is 25% occupied, a third that is two years old and is 50% occupied.

Most people don't realize that a lot of commercial real estate loans are done on a far shorter term than residential loans, unless the SBA is involved or the loan is bond-financed through a local industrial development agency. Five year balloon loans are very common. Which means that, if you do the math, that a lot of commercial loans taken out during the recent boom are soon to become due on places that cannot now meet the loan-to-value criteria of banks. Which means a wave of commercial defaults and foreclosures. So times may be getting harder.

I don't know. But what I do know is that there are a lot of men and women who stepped up and went to war when this nation asked them to. There are ones who have been badly hurt and for some, technology may offer some relief. GPSs for those with short-term memory problems who tend to get lost. Voice-operated computers for those who cannot work a keyboard. We can all help for that.

So please, if you can throw a few bucks to Project Valour-IT, click in the center of the thermometer to the right (at the top of the right-hand column) and give a little to help those who gave a lot.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Great Britain- a Police State

If you publicly protest anything in the nation that was formerly regarded as Great Britain, you are a "domestic extremist." Don't matter if you have not done anything wrong, for at the cops take the view that you might, someday. And you bear watching. If you attend protests, or even if your car happens to be near one, you will be tracked. And watched by the British secret police.

So be a good little subject, go eat your fish & chips, have a pint and don't worry your little head about anything.

And do be a good little chap and try not to recall that you once were free to speak your mind and to protest. For those days are gone in Britain.


It is pretty much past peak around here, but I was able to find some foliage. Pretty much allof he woods are second-growth forests, which took over after farming was largely abandoned in this area following the First World War. Much of the human-edible crop farming followed the railroads to the Midwest. Fodder for horses and cows was widely grown; hay farming for horses petered out in the 1920s with the widespread adoption of motorized vehicle. Better transport, refrigeration and pasteurization moved the dairy farms to places where land was a lot flatter, less rocky and easier to frame. The trees took over

This is a high-tension powerline as it cuts its way through the woods.

Just beyond the lake, the trees have lost their leaves, but not at the lake itself.

That fire was probably at least 20 miles away.

In a few weeks at most, the landscape will be mostly brown, gray and some green from pine trees. It will stay that way until Winter takes hold, if it does. Last year was pretty bleak for snow fall.

Sucking It Up While the Sucking Is Good

Health insurance companies are whacking small business owners with a whopping increase in premiums. This is not solely due to rises in the cost of health care, but is, in large measure, due to the prospect of health insurance reform.

The health insurers are making one last rapacious pass through the wallets of small businesses and their workers, many of whom have to pay a significant share of the premiums.

Health insurers are turning out to be the true villains of the reform debate. The GOP is just a set of reflexive villains; they'd be against a proposal to cure cancer if the current administration sought to fund a project in that regard.

To be fair, other industries are doing the same thing. The consumer price index has slid, but colleges are on their march to put the cost of a college education back where it was 100 years ago: Affordable only to the wealthy. Higher education needs to re-think its operation and reducing costs, which they haven't done. But they are still not the single-minded greedy swine that the insurance industry is. I can think of one insurance company that touts its "low rates", which they can offer because if you ever have to press a claim against them, they will fight you bitterly to the last nickel, you may have to sue them and that is if you are one of their customers.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

There Is an Election in These Parts

In a little over a week. It's amazing how many incumbents now have web sites and new features where they are eager to talk to the rabble their constituents and find out what is on their minds and where they eagerly promise to do what they can to help out the voters. My favorite was a sign I saw that said "re-elect me, a fresh look at government."

Color me cynical. I'll bet that those web sites go inactive the day after the election. We won't hear a peep out of any of them for the next 21 or 45 months. Then they will all surface, again, to proclaim how much they really and truly care about us.

I suppose I should not be so blatantly cynical about this. None of them are going to be honest and say: "Vote for me, I'm not as much of a corrupt cocksucker as my opponent is." But it bothers me when I see elected officials who are basically invisible for years suddenly start to promote their accessibility to the public and their concern for the well-being of the electorate.

Spare us. We know better.


I'm not a big fan of Al Roker, he strikes me as being 98% clown and 2% weatherman. And I was really pre-loaded to tee off on "Wake Up With Al", his gig on the Weather Channel.

But, nah. At least when I tune in to see the "Local on the 8s", the music is much better on his show than the usual elevator-grade crap the Weather Channel normally uses for that feature.

(By the way, is it a rule at the Weather Channel that most of the white women have to be blondes, whether real or synthetic? I occasionally see a woman with auburn hair, but no brunettes.)


Gracie is a little loopy after a session with a brand-new catnip toy.

Jake is going for some fresh catnip that I spread on the scratching pad.

George has some thing about lying in cat carriers. This one was out because gracie was making a trip to the vet the following day.

This is when I thouhgt George was was sulking, but he really had an upset stomach.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Republicans (and Inouye) For Rape

A blog.

If Win 7 is Supposed to Be Leaner than Vista

You might ask why Microsoft's BK tie-in promotion in Japan has seven patties of beef and over 1,000 calories.

Bloatware. Bloatfood.

Win 7 takes up something like 16Gb on a drive, all to just give one the opportunity to run other programs.

If I were writing the laws, I'm make MS support NT-5 (`00 Pro and XP) forever. NT-5 is possibly the only OS that they ever managed to (eventually) get right.

RIP, Soupy

Soupy Sales has died. He was 83.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Someone Remind Me Again

Weren't the elections in 2006 and 2008 partly about throwing out the bums who were beholden to corporate insterests and who didn't give a fuck about the American People?

So why this:
An amendment that would prevent the government from working with contractors who denied victims of assault the right to bring their case to court is in danger of being watered down or stripped entirely from a larger defense appropriations bill.

Multiple sources have told the Huffington Post that Sen. Dan Inouye, a longtime Democrat from Hawaii, is considering removing or altering the provision, which was offered by Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and passed by the Senate several weeks ago.
Nice to see that Sen. Inouye is so concerned about protecting the rights of Department of Defense contractors over women who get stuffed into shipping containers and gang-raped by contract workers. Nice to see that large campaign contributions work to gut a 68-30 vote.

The Senate is filled with fucking sleazeballs and Pro-Rape Inouye is very high up on the list.

John Cole is right
: With Democrats like Inouye, who needs the GOP?


Here I thought I could just sit on the couch after dinner, read some stuff and maybe write something. George is on the arm of the couch to my right. Gracie is lying next to my left leg. Jake is lying on the back of the couch next to my head.

All three are purring away, though Gracie is occasionally giving Jake the "Stare of Death."

3 = 1

That is the equation that ought to be kept in mind when reading about China's finishing the construction of an old Soviet aircraft carrier and training pilots. For if China intends to operate her carrier at any significant distance from her home port in China, she will need at least three, if not four carriers in order to sustain one at sea.

Three is the bare minimum. Four is better. Four gives you one ship on station, one ship in a major maintenance availability (ie, an overhaul), one ship working up to deploy to relieve the ship on station, and one ship which has recently returned and is undergoing the training and maintenance to prepare for her next deployment. The four-to-one rule also applies to the escorts and the aircraft units.

A carrier that is conducting extensive air operations needs supply ships to resupply her on a frequent basis. The further away the carrier is operating from her base of supply, the more supply ships are needed. It could be that they will need five sets of replenishment ships to keep one carrier group at sea on an extended deployment, and that is with none of the supply ships out of service for maintenance and overhauls.

For a nation with one or two carriers, they are better viewed as mobile coastal airfields which probably won't be operating more than a few hundred miles, at best, from their ports. One or two Chinese carriers may unsettle the other nations of East Asia, but they will not be a significant threat to any other area.

You're Better Off Getting a Loan From Vinnie the Hammer

First Premier Bank is offering credit cards with an annual interest rate of 79.9%.

The only difference between First Premier Bank and your local loan shark is that your kneecaps are safe if you default on First Premier.


Vampire Squid Update

The Bush Administration's Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson's secret meeting with the Board of Directors of Goldman Sachs in 2008, which was held in Moscow.

Jesus Horatio Christ on Roller Skates! Does anybody now no longer argue that the entire TARP program, as put together by Paulson, was not riddled with insider preferences and good-ole-boyism? Paulson let Lehman Brothers fail, but there was no way that he was going to let his asshole-buddies at Goldman Sachs be thrown out on the street.

Needless to say, the Goldman Sachs alumni in the Obama Administration will make goddamn sure that nothing is ever done about this.

Bet you won't hear a peep out of any of the Wingnuts on this, too. They're all about defending the rich and fucking over the middle class and the poor.


And They Said That the Iraq War Was Not About Oil

Except when they want it to be about oil, I guess:
Oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens told Congress on Wednesday that U.S. energy companies are "entitled" to some of Iraq's crude because of the large number of American troops that lost their lives fighting in the country and the U.S. taxpayer money spent in Iraq.
"Entitled"? Sort of like the way that the United Fruit Company was "entitled" to control Nicaragua or the British East India Company was "entitled" to control South Asia?

I didn't see any U.S. oil company making large donations to the Treasury to help offset the cost of the Iraq War. If anything, when the price of oil spiked, the oil companies made huge profits and I didn't see them offering to share any of it.

"Entitled", my ass.

What to Blog About, What to Blog About


Gracie got a trip to the vet yesterday. Part of it was for her periodic butt-shave. The other part was to discuss her arthritis. She hates the carrier; as I was carrying her over to it, she peed. I was dressed for work and with great luck, she missed me. But there I was, with a yowling cat in her carrier, on my knees, cleaning up cat piss. No stain, no smell, for I got it fast. Her arthritis is not good, but she still gets around. Gracie is 12. One of her littermates is still around, semi-feral (and spayed); she is a bit lighter than Gracie and she also shows signs of arthritis.

Sunday night, George was lying in one of the cat condos with his head towards the back. Even catnip did not interest him. I thought he was sulking about something. Evidently, he was not feeling well, for the next morning, there was a huge splash of barf on one of my area rugs and he seemed to be feeling a lot better. I cleaned it up with some product that is supposed to be great for pet stains (something about "banana oil"). It worked, but I guess I should have diluted it, for did it ever reek. It was 31degF out and I had the windows open and a vent fan running.

Jake is fine. From time to time, I pick him up and cradle him in one arm, on his back and scratch his chest, neck and jaw with my other hand. I have to slouch back in the couch for this to work, for he is not a tiny cat, but he loves it.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Bernie Kerik, Then and Now

When he was a cop:

When he was allegedly scamming the Iraq Provisional Authority by allegedly pretending to train Iraqi police:

With Chimpy, when Bernie was under consideration for being the Director of the DBP:

With Il Duce, Jr. (Rudy Giuliani):

And finally, as Prisoner No. 210717 in the Westchester County Jail:

Being Raped is a Pre-Existing Condition

At least to health insurance companies. So is being beaten by your husband or boyfriend.

It is getting harder and harder for me to not see the people running the health insurance companies, let alone those who work for the industry's trade groups, such as "America's Health Insurance Plans", or those who lobby on their behalf, as anything other than despicable lumps of sentient slime. Calling them "vultures" would be an insult to carrion-feeders.

(After all, there are 30 GOP Senators who are pro-gang rape, so none of this should be too surprising.)

Don't Taze Me in the Chest, Bro

That's what the Taser folks are now advising, because of the risk of inducing an "adverse cardiac event", which is medicalese for "death".

They defibrillate a heart by applying an electric shock. Electrocution kills people by stopping the heart. So why anyone ever thought that it would be perfectly harmless to blast a person's torso with an electric shock is rather incomprehensible.

Some Pretty Fantastic Camera

The Kennedy Space Center tracked the ISS passing by.

That is a ground-based camera looking at something that is 200 miles overhead.


The Entire Plot of Terminator V


UPDATE: Via e-mail, it was suggested that the proper name would be "the Entire Plot of a Remake of Terminator", or words to that effect. That's probably true, but I'll leave it as it is.

Break Up the Banks

Paul Volker, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve, is offering advice that nobody wants to hear:
He wants the nation’s banks to be prohibited from owning and trading risky securities, the very practice that got the biggest ones into deep trouble in 2008. And the administration is saying no, it will not separate commercial banking from investment operations.
The only viable solution, in the Volcker view, is to break up the giants. JPMorgan Chase would have to give up the trading operations acquired from Bear Stearns. Bank of America and Merrill Lynch would go back to being separate companies. Goldman Sachs could no longer be a bank holding company. It’s a tall order, and to achieve it Congress would have to enact a modern-day version of the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act, which mandated separation.
Volker has it right. Letting the banks stay in the investment business, even if they are heavily regulated, will not work. Over time, regulators tend to adopt the view that they are there to serve the regulated, not the public. Call it a bureaucratic version of the Stockholm Syndrome, if you like. Alan Greenspan is right in that we cannot outlaw economic euphoria, but we damn sure can make it difficult for the banks to play that game again.

The banks fucking around with risky investments and collapsing the economy as a result has now happened twice in less than 20 years, if you do not count the period of time between the enactment of the Glass-Steagall Act in 1933 and its repeal by the Gramm-Leach Act in 1999. The problem here is that Lawrence Summers, chief of President Obama's Council of Economic Advisors, was one of the guys involved in killing Glass-Steagall and Timothy Geithner, the Secretary of the Treasury, represents Wall Street, so those two guys are not going to change anything. The banks are all saying "we learned our lesson, trust us", which is like trusting a smack addict to stop using heroin after recovering from a bad hit.

Two things need to be done: First, we need to re-enact an updated version of Glass-Steagall. Second, we need to break up the largest banks. "Too big to fail" should mean "too big to be permitted to exist." Nuclear weapons are designed to be "single-point safe", so that if one point of a nuclear weapon is hit hard (say by a bullet), the bomb doesn't have a high-order detonation. Our economy should be the same way; the failure of one bank (or any other entity, such as AIG) should not be enough to cause an economic catastrophe.

The largest banks need to be broken up. All banks need to be prohibited from operating as investment houses.

Which is why the various banking lobbyists are deploying sacks of bribe campaign contributions to make certain that those things never happen.

The Banks Should Pay Bonuses, But....

...they should pay them to the government.

I am being totally serious about this. The banks are not in a position to make money because of their financial acumen. They are in a position to make money because the Bush Administration stepped up to the plate and saved them from their own folly.[1] If the Bush Administration had not proposed the TARP bailout program (and if the Congress had not enacted it), mot of the large banks in this country would have failed.[2]

The point is this: The largest banks exist only because we, the American taxpayers, through the Department of the Treasury, saved their asses. The bonuses that the banks feel that they can pay should be in the form of checks payable to the Treasurer of the United States.

[1] Yes, I said something complementary to the Bush Administration. Get over it.
[2] Of course, our economy and the overall global economy would have then imploded in a way that would have made this current recession look like a dream of good times, a prospect that was so terrifying that it made George Bush and Dick Cheney start channeling FDR.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Where the Fuck Were These Guys When George W. Bush Was Treating the Constitution Like a Sheet of Toilet Paper?

Searches without warrants. Arrests and detentions without probable cause. Misuse of the material witness statutes. Wiretapping everybody. Vacuuming everyone's e-mail. Putting people on no-fly lists because they dissented from the Iraq War. Massive detentions of peaceful protesters. Brutality. Torture. Arresting people because they wore the wrong t-shirt.

None of that, absolutely none of that, bothered the "Oath Keepers". All of those guys couldn't have been happier at everything that the Bush Administration did.

They were silent as church mice.

But now, oh now, let some Democrat become president and these guys are coming out of the fucking woodwork because all of a sudden, they are so concerned about the Constitution.

I call "bullshit."

Faster Than an SR-71

Flying skivvies:

Most of the SR-71 fleet was retired in 1989, though a few flew in the 1990s. The Air Force brass hated the SR-71 (probably more than they hate the A-10), so it was retired as soon as they could finish gutting the program.

I understand why some folks were in favor of a separate air force in the 1940s, but the splitting of the Air Force from the Army following World War II has, to my mind, proven to be one of the most costly bureaucratic blunders that this nation has ever made. Other than the strategic deterrence mission, the job of the Air Force is to support the riflemen on the ground. But everyone recognizes that the Air Force has never been in love with the air-to-mud mission role (which is why the Air Force keeps trying to kill off the A-10s), greatly preferring the air-to-air "white scarf around the neck, tally-ho on the blighters" combat mission, to the detriment of everything else, including ground attack, reconnaissance and trash-hauling.

Probably serves them right that drones are going to put most of the zoomies out of a job in another decade or two.


Monday, October 19, 2009

When "Calculated Risk" Means "Not Getting Caught".

For years, whenever anyone asked Raj Rajaratnam about the success of his hedge fund, the Galleon Group, he chalked it up to being hungrier than everyone else.

The Surprise-O-Meter barely budged off the peg for this one:
“It is pride, and I want to win,” Mr. Rajaratnam said in “The New Investment Superstars,” a book by Lois Peltz published in 2001. “After awhile, money is not the motivation. I want to win every time. Taking calculated risks gets my adrenaline pumping.”

Now prosecutors are claiming that Mr. Rajaratnam, 52, crossed the line into criminal activity.

At dawn on Friday, Mr. Rajaratnam was arrested at his expensive Manhattan home, charged with running the biggest insider trading scheme involving a hedge fund. He and five others are accused by the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission of relying on a vast network of company insiders and consultants to make more than $20 million in profit from 2006 to 2009.

Mr. Rajaratnam’s lawyer has said his client is innocent.
Last comment first: Of course his lawyer says he's innocent. Everybody's lawyers say that. When was the last time you saw some guy who got arrested's lawyer step in front of the cameras and say: "We always wondered when that filthy sonuvabitch would get caught red-handed"?

I imagine that folks are going to look at the fact that this guy is worth well over a billion smackaroos and ask why he'd risk it all for a comparatively measly sum of $20 million over nearly four years. Ego, pride, hubris, maybe? Or maybe that $20 million is only what the prosecutors think they can prove and the real amount of ill-gotten gains is far higher? Maybe insider trading was the majority of the way they got their information?

Zero Tolerance, Zero Discretion, Zero Brains; Part Duh

An Eagle Scout was suspended for 20 days for having a 2" pocketknife locked in his car:
Matthew Whalen, a senior at Lansingburgh Senior High School, says he follows the Boy Scout motto and is always prepared, stocking his car with a sleeping bag, water, a ready-to-eat meal — and the knife, which was given to him by his grandfather, a police chief in a nearby town.

But Lansingburgh High has a zero-tolerance policy, and when school officials discovered that Whalen kept his knife locked in his car, he says, they suspended him for five days — and then tacked on an additional 15 after a hearing.
I do not understand why we don't just program a bunch of old Commodore 64s and set them up in the school administrative offices to make these decisions. You could even do it with a series of flow-charts and save over a hundred grand per school by shit-canning the principals.

Zero tolerance policies exist only to protect lazy-ass bureaucrats (like school administrators), who are afraid of having to make a decision and then defend it. Any third-grader can tell the difference between a gang-banger carrying a switchblade into class and a scout ho has a knife in his car as part of an emergency kit and that 3rd grader would be able to coherently explain the difference.

But school administrators are not smarter than third graders. I'm by no means confident that the average principal could outwit a bag of hammers.


Smart Move, Maybe?

The White House signaled Sunday that President Obama would postpone any decision on sending more troops to Afghanistan until the disputed election there had been settled and resulted in a government that could work with the United States. ... The question at the heart of the matter, said President Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, is not “how many troops you send, but do you have a credible Afghan partner for this process that can provide the security and the type of services that the Afghan people need?”
There is no point trying to prop up an illegitimate government in Afghanistan. That is a fool's errand at best. Counterinsurgency requires a legitimate national government for without a legitimate government, it would be like building a house on quicksand. If raw military power was what was needed, the Afghan schools today would be teaching Russian as a second language.

I cannot emphasize this enough: Without a legitimate government in Afghanistan, all we can do now is to decide when we will leave the country to the Taliban. Not "if".

A lot also hinges on Pakistan's offensive into South Waziristan. With their recent bombing attacks, the militants may have overreached. They may have made the case to the people that the militants' presence in Pakistan can no longer be tolerated.

Rudy Plays the Race Card, Again

From a campaign appearance by Rudy the Brown Shirt on behalf of Billionaire Mike:
Raising the specter of a return to higher crime and greater anxiety, former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani warned on Sunday that New York could become a more dangerous city if Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg is not re-elected in November.

Mr. Giuliani did not mention Mr. Bloomberg’s Democratic challenger, William C. Thompson Jr., by name. But during the first of two campaign events alongside Mr. Bloomberg, he said that not long ago many parts of the city were gripped by “the fear of going out at night and walking the streets.”

“You know exactly what I’m talking about,” Mr. Giuliani said at a breakfast sponsored by the Jewish Community Council in Borough Park, Brooklyn. “This city could very easily be taken back in a very different direction — it could very easily be taken back to the way it was with the wrong political leadership.”
Does anybody not understand what Giuliani was saying, there?[1] This is beyond reprehensible. Giuliani is no different from the old racist white politicians (who were all Democrats until President Johnson signed the 1960s civil rights acts and until the GOP welcomed them with open arms) who used to stand up and rant about how the nigras were going to sit in classrooms next to white girls and rape them.

[1]Translation: "If the Democrats win, the niggers and spics will be mugging you again."

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Why Aren't These Guys in Jail By Now?

Why aren't these guys being hounded through the streets?
As the housing market collapsed in late 2007, Moody's Investors Service, whose investment ratings were widely trusted, responded by purging analysts and executives who warned of trouble and promoting those who helped Wall Street plunge the country into its worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

A McClatchy investigation has found that Moody's punished executives who questioned why the company was risking its reputation by putting its profits ahead of providing trustworthy ratings for investment offerings.

Instead, Moody's promoted executives who headed its "structured finance" division, which assisted Wall Street in packaging loans into securities for sale to investors. It also stacked its compliance department with the people who awarded the highest ratings to pools of mortgages that soon were downgraded to junk. Such products have another name now: "toxic assets."
This was fraud, a con game. Moody's was complicit in the corruption of the entire investment system. Once upon a time, investors made money by investing in companies that made things or offered services. Being a successful investor was about identifying potential in products or companies and then putting money into it.

That changed, beginning in 1999 when the Gramm-Leachman Act changed the rules of the game, though some might argue that it really started to change in the 1980s. Investing went from identifying potential for making peoples' live, if not the world, better and, at the higher levels it became largely a swindle. Moody's, and the other ratings companies, became willing participants in the frauds. Those who knew that the securities were prettied-up dog shit sold them to those who did not.

It was a massive global game of three-card monte. Those fuckers stole trillions of dollars and brought the economy of the planet to its knees.

Why they are not already in jail is a shameful question for our time.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

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The Rich Call for the Waabulance

Aw, gee. Rich fuckers don't like that they are feeling that people are blaming them for greedily sinking the economy. And of course, they found some shlock-ass pseudo-shrink to say that it is "unhealthy" to blame the rich.

Awwww, My heart bleeds for them. Call the Waabulance.

They're lucky that they aren't riding in a tumbril.

We Always Suspected That He Was Seriously Retarded

Davenoon over at LGM has picked up on the fact that the Teary-Eyed Moron on the GOP Propaganda Channel (formerly known as Fox News) has been getting all teary-eyed over the "Golden Age of America", which, in the mind of the TEM, was the 1970s.

Really. This just proves my suspicion that to any particular person, the "Golden Age" was a time that they were either a child or which occurred before they were born. TEM was a child back then.

I wasn't. So, from my recollection, let's take a step into the Wayback Machine.

The harbinger of the 1970s was the first Moon mission of the 1970s, Apollo 13, which almost ended in tragedy when a liquid oxygen tank in the Service Module exploded. The decade opened with a drawdown of American troops on the battlefields of Vietnam and a ramping up of the air war against North Vietnam. After the mining of Haiphong Harbor, which cut off all shipping into that port, North Vietnam agreed to peace talks, which ultimately led to a colorable excuse for the U.S. to end its combat operations in the Vietnam War in 1973. With American troops out of the way, North Vietnam built up its conventional forces and crushed South Vietnam less that two years later.

As the decade opened, the President, Richard M. Nixon, was a man who was so paranoid that he really needed professional help, if not a stay in a psychiatric hospital. He was convinced that everyone was out to get him (he held a special fear of Jews) and, faced with probably the lamest Democratic presidential candidate since 1924, Nixon ordered that the Democratic campaign headquarters be wired with listening devices. That led, within two years, to the prospect of certain impeachment by the House and likely conviction by the Senate, so after having declared that "I am not a crook", Nixon fled the White House.

Terrorism came onto the world's radar on live TV at the Munich Olympics in 1972.

The most serious Arab-Israeli war began in October of 1973. Egypt achieved some degree of surprise and overran the Israeli outposts in the Sinai along the Suez Canal. The largest tank battle since the Battle of Kursk took place in the Sinai. Israel ultimately prevailed, but only with a very heavy American resupply effort (following Israel's private threat to use its nuclear weapons if it was going to lose). The Yom Kippur War resulted in the first Arab Oil Embargo, which tripped up the world's economy, leading to lines at gasoline stations and an overnight doubling of the price of gasoline.

The fallout of the oil price spike was large price rises throughout the economy. The subsequent recession resulted in a situation of both inflation and no economic growth, known as "stagflation." This also effectively marked the end of the economic postwar period after the Second World War. The American automobile industry, which for years had been producing cars that were both low mileage and of extremely crappy workmanship, was unable to adjust to a sudden need for higher-mileage vehicles. Three Japanese car makers, Datsun, Toyota and Honda, had such vehicles and greatly expanded their sales networks in the U.S. Their cars turned around the decades-old stereotype of Japanese goods being shoddy, as Americans discovered that Japanese cars were of far higher quality than American cars. A generation of Americans came to equate American-made cars with being pieces of shit (the joke was that Ford stood for "fix or repair daily") and the American automobile industry has never recovered.

Stagflation continued throughout the 1970s. By the late 1970s, inflation was approaching 20%. In 1979, the Shah of Iran was deposed, which substituted a brutally corrupt monarchy for a brutally corrupt theocracy. The Iranian Revolution led to another disruption of the world's oil supply, which led, in turn, to another doubling of the price of gasoline and another period of gasoline shortages. The president at the time was Jimmy Cater, who ended his term of office with few people really caring that he was gone.

Culturally, disco reigned. Enough said.

The 1970s were no shining time. TEM has proved his utter moronosity by even suggesting as much.


I have more photos of Gracie than of any other cat. She is very photogenic and she usually cooperates. Her bed once belonged to Teddy, until he died. The other cats use it, as well, but is is primarily Gracie's bed, now.

Jake in a pensive mood.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Comparison Shopping

For handguns.

The Past

Nynex had some great commercials for their yellow pages. It was sort of nerdy-type fun when they put out a new one; the game was to see if you could guess what the category happened to be.

But that's now an almost-dead method of finding anyone. I receive a couple of new copies each year for the different local service areas and I almost always have them in the recycling bin within two weeks of receiving them.

Mental Health Break

And I Want a LearJet.... And a Pony.

Gen. Stanley McChrystal wants a minimum of 40,000 more troops (60,000 to 80,000 preferred) for Afghanistan. The problem is that nobody has figured out where all of those warm bodies will come from. 40,000 is for McChrystal's "medium risk of losing this fucking war" option.

The Marines can send 7,400 more. The Army can send 25,000 more. That's it and they are tapped out.

So what can be done? They can go back to 15-month tours, but that almost broke the Army in Iraq and the generals don't want to do that again.

Close the German bases and send everyone? Yank everyone out of South Korea and tell the North Koreans that any attack will be met with a nuclear response (Japan will just love the idea of radioactive fallout)?

Park all of the F-22s in the Arizona desert and send the people n those squadrons to Afghanistan? I think there are nine F-22 squadrons, give or take. I've no idea how many zoomies are in a squadron, but even if it is 500, that's only another 4,500 people and they'd need to go to the six-week "trigger-pulling" school.

Park all of the aircraft carriers? There are 3,000+ sailors in the ship's company of a CVN, but you'd still need enough to keep it maintained to some basic level and to provide for security and fire watches. The reactor spaces still need to be manned, so maybe you could reduce by half? That gives you 15,000, maybe more if you lay up the CVN's escorts. Then countries around the world start to freak out and alliances start to shift. And then you have to figure out where you are going to get the air support that was flying from the CVNs.

Gen. Westmoreland wanted another 250,000 troops in 1968 (over the 500,000+ already there) and that is what ultimately broke the back of the Vietnam War. McChrystal's desire for 80,000 more troops may very well do the same for the Afghan War.

Fuck Them

Saudi Arabia is trying to enlist other oil-producing countries to support a provocative idea: if wealthy countries reduce their oil consumption to combat global warming, they should pay compensation to oil producers.
I suppose that compensation was also paid to hat-makers in the early 1960s or to buggy-whip makers 100 years ago.

Fuck them. They've had no compunction at trying to manipulate the world oil market to maximize their cash flow. If the world develops that there is a lessened demand for oil and the price of oil drops and their cash flow dries up, then screw them.

Saudi Arabia has been selling crude for decades and they have had shiploads of cash to play with for decades. They have used the money to fund a massive welfare state and a religious theocracy. The last time I checked, over a quarter of all Saudi college graduates majored in "Islamic Studies", which may be nourishing for their souls, but that degree is as useful as a major in Underwater Basket-Weaving. They have done very little to build a national economy that is based on anything other than pumping dead dinosaur juice. The idea that we should pay them extra to do what they should have been doing since the 1970s, at the latest, is galling in the extreme.

They'll find no sympathy on this blog.


Farscape Kittehs

MY Side! Your Side! My Side! Your Side!
moar funny pictures

Bernie Sanders is Either Very Polite

or very, very stupid. An article about the debate on health care insurance among Senate Democrats had this nugget:
Senator Sanders said the debate Thursday “went up a few decibels higher than it usually does in caucus meetings.” He said he had told [Senator] Baucus that more than 60 percent of the public and more than 80 percent of Democrats supported creation of a public insurance plan. “It’s difficult to understand why we can’t give the American people what they want,” Mr. Sanders said.
It's not difficult to understand at all. Sen. Baucus has taken millions of dollars in campaign contributions from the health insurance industry. That's why Stephen Colbert suggested sending your medical bills to Baucus. Industries do not give millions of dollars to any one politician because they are boosters of the democratic process. They give that kind of cash because they are getting something for their money and Baucus has been giving them very good value for their money.

Bernie Sanders was probably being polite. He has to know what is going on.

And it will probably get worse once the fascist wing of the Supreme Court removes all restrictions on corporations financing politicians.

The Second Most Unfavorable Place to Fight a War in Asia

According to a letter written by Senator Richard Russell in 1966, the second most unfavorable place to fight a war in Asia was Vietnam. He was against the war.

In his view, the most unfavorable place to fight a war in Asia was Afghanistan.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Defending the Honor of Neanderthals

If Neanderthals were still around, they would be taking considerable offense at being compared to Republicans. This blog post explains why. (H/T)

Meanwhile, some of the true knuckle-draggers are planning to engage in their favorite pastime: book burning and, believe it or not, Texas has Dental Cops.

This "Miscegenation" Bullshit Was Supposed to Have Been Settled 42 Years Ago

Loving v. Virginia settled the question as to whether it was legal to deny marriage licenses to interracial couples with a strong and firm "No".

But the law cuts no ice in Louisiana, where that Good Ole Southern Racism just keeps ticking along, as a judge there refused to marry an interracial couple "for the sake of the children".

Power Tools

Bigger Bonuses for Bankers

Bankers, at least in London are expecting big bonuses. AIG is paying large bonuses, in part with the nearly $200 billion of taxpayer money they received to keep them from going belly-up. We propped the shit out of Goldman-Sachs and those fuckers are going to pay huge bonuses (along with setting up some sort of bullshit charity as political cover). And one apologist for the bankers says that bonuses "did not cause the crunch".

Which, of course, is bullshit. Think about it for a few seconds. Let's say you're a investment banker. You're working on Wall Street. You get bonuses that depend on your doing deals. So you set up some sort of pool of collateralized debt obligations and you market it at as triple-A rated security. The "securities" sell to investors around the world and you collect your bonus.

This is the key: It has zero effect on your bonus. Your bank doesn't care about the fact that you just marketed and sold securities that were nothing other than repackaged dog shit. The deal was done, the bank collected huge fees from putting the securities together and you got your cut of that. Provided that the bank wasn't stupid enough to believe its own hype and didn't buy any of the Love Canal Mortgage Securities you just sold to the patsies, there is no harm to the bank.

This point cannot be driven home hard enough: The bankers were paid to do the deals, they were not paid based on the quality of the products. Nothing has been done to prevent them from marketing more of those shitty "securities", their buddies in the ratings companies will continue to rate them highly, suckers will continue to buy them and the bankers will continue to give bribes to make giant campaign contributions to legislators to make sure that nothing ever does change.

We have learned nothing from the financial collapse of 2008.

We are so screwed.

Operation Radioactive Rabbit Shit

This is not a joke, it seems that rabbit droppings from rabbits in Hanford, Washington have enough radiation to be detectable by a fly-by radiation monitor.

"Bright-Sided", the Bullshit of Positive Thinking

I am so buying this book:
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Barbara Ehrenreich
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorRon Paul Interview

If you haven't read her earlier book "Nickel and Dimed", you should.