Thursday, September 30, 2010

that's something, at least

Breaking Bad joins the short listFN of TV programs that I can watch without feeling insulted by moronic concepts or shitty writing.

One of my friends recommended it recently, and 2 days ago I rented Season 2 on DVD, without seeing any of Season 1 or any other episode or info about the show.  Last night I watched the first 2 episodes and finally turned off the TV/DVD player at 3:00 AM partway through the 3d episode.

Extra nice to watch on DVD w/o commercials etc. Commercials are the primary reason why I don't watch broadcast TV, with lousy programming of the shows proper being the close 2d place reason.

_________________________________

FN - The short list includes:  Sons of Anarchy, Deadwood, Dexter, House, and now, Breaking Bad.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

ken "crackpot realist" silverstein leaves Harper's, stays with "reality"

I'm afraid he's serious in this one.  Excerpt:
For my part, I have lived in Washington long enough to have realistic hopes; for example, given political realities, passing a single payer bill was not going to happen.
Of course it wasn't "realistic" to think it could pass. It's not "realistic" to think Ken Silverstein's new jobs at Open Society Institute and Global Witness will require him to assess any "unrealistic" landscapes or observe any "unrealistic" indicia of culpability among his heroes, confreres, or paymasters.

Slickness never goes out of style.  It just changes paymasters.

the pit

from Richard's blog, following an entry discussing the death of Seth Walsh, who appears to have killed himself at age 13 after some relentless bullying on his sexual orientation.

Richard opens his post with this loaded question:
Fifty or sixty years from now, will the public consider these suicides as comparable to the lynchings of African Americans?
To which I replied:

*************************************************

Comment No. 1:

Suicide isn't lynching. 

End of comparison.


Comment No. 2:

The prior comment may have seemed insensitive where I was just trying to be accurate.

It should be clear that lynching is murder of another, whereas suicide is murder of the self.  In suicide the victim has a choice, in murder the victim has no choice.

People commit suicide for a whole variety of reasons.  Teasing does not explain suicide.  What did young Mr Walsh have happening in his life apart from the teasing, and why did he have a problem coping with teasing?  Teasing happens in every walk of childhood life, to everyone.  Even the successful HS QB gets teased.  The brainiacs who later run business empires (Bill Gates) get teased horribly. 

Blaming the teasers for young Mr Walsh's suicide is an easy explanation, an easy scapegoating, and an easy way of inflaming people's biases.

I suggest examining separate issues here:

1) the cruelty of teasing -- its spectrum of felt impact, depending on the feeler's sensitivities to the various forms and types of teasing used.

2) the variant of teasing that involves allegations regarding one's "manhood" -- existential delegitimization.

3) the variant of teasing on "manhood" that involves allegations regarding homosexuality -- ostracism added to the mix.

4) the emotional landscape of an early male teen and the vulnerability to suicidal ideation for teasing experiences.

You've lumped them all together as if they're the same exact causative chain.  I don't think they are.

NB:  I work with middle school kids who have sexual identity issues.


Comment No. 3:

No. 3 and I'll be done then, I promise.

I agree with the rest of your post, Richard. I was just torqued by the equation of lynching and suicide. No doubt young Mr Walsh was teased to the point that it caused some emotional breakage, but I'd doubt the teasing alone can be said to cause him to kill himself. It's likely that a whole conglomerate of vibes from other humans worked together to make him feel unloved and unwanted. The teasing likely was just a part of that conglomerate. As a matter of timing I guess it could be a cliche'd straw on the camel's back, but that's not the same as being a sole cause.

For more likely direct causes I'd look at his family life and his closest circle of daily acquaintances, the people whose love and admiration he sought most -- and how those people treated him in return.

Anyone who gets teased regularly by verbal bullies knows that if you receive it often enough it becomes like traffic noise to a new big-city transplant -- eventually it becomes part of the sonic landscape and is less disruptive. The power of feeling an insult depends heavily on how much weight we give the person's message, and we have the ability to give or not give another person the power to insult us deeply. We can choose to not care about them, or their opinions.

For a middle-school aged boy, the ability to choose not to care isn't as accessible as it is to an adult with some rings on his/her trunk. So I don't want to overplay the voluntariness aspect too heavily.

The biggest problem is that middle school is when kids are at their most vulnerable, emotionally. Early puberty is a weird time for even the most well-loved, well-cared-for kid. For kids who may feel already, pre-puberty, like they don't belong in their own skin, it can be a super-scary time, existentially.

If blame's gonna be cast outside young Mr Walsh, I'd more likely impose a piece of that blame on everyone who interacted in some negative way with him during his life. That's a lot of blame to spread around. And honestly I don't see the point of such blaming, other than to vent frustration at the pig-headedness of many Americans.

****************************************************

Some of us humans have the curse or blessing or gift or burden of an extreme sensitivity on many or all existential issues. We are the ones who suffer debilitating long-term depressions, who spend time in the pit of existential nothingness and begin questioning the value of continued existence.

I don't know how many people out there in the world ever have that experience, and of those who have, I don't know to what extent the emptiness was felt and for how long the value of existence lay in question. I only know that I would never want anyone else I know to experience what I have. I will say only this about my experiences: William Styron's Darkness Visible is said to be a good portrait of a severe depression, and when I read that book I didn't even realize he was talking about being in a severe depression, because it didn't sound anywhere near as disorienting, pained, and harrowing as what I've felt.

F Scott Fitzgerald's The Crack-Up has some parts that do a pretty good job of describing how disturbing it can be.  But even those good passages don't convey the worst part, which is the unending existential pain, a pain that isn't traceable to a physical wound, and one that doesn't feel anything like severe physical pain.  Severe physical pain I've had from broken bones, torn ligaments, and post-surgical trauma tended to be localized and while severe, was somehow easier to cope with as rationally related to the physical injury or surgical trauma. 

Existential pain is diffuse and not really felt as a localized thing.  In my experience it is like being crushed or suffocated, while also being pulled apart.  There's also no concept or force that can be imagined or seen as the reason for the pain.  It just is, and it is crushing me while also pulling me apart. 

This much --what I have just described, in completely inadequate terms, giving no shape or vector or force to the power of the experience-- I have felt.  Or experienced.

I am not gay.  So I do not know what that part of young Mr Walsh's experience was like.

But I'd still be very reluctant to put a whole bag o' blame on the teasers.

gossip, mistaken for insightful analysis

"Did you hear that Janey was breaking up with Steve?"

"NO WAY!  They are the ideal couple!"

"It's true.  Steve heard that Janey told Mary that Steve is a jerk."

"Well I heard that Mary told Janey that Steve was gay and was sleeping with Mary's younger brother Giovanni."

"Our social circle will be in UTTER CHAOS unless Janey and Steve reconcile.  We'd all better do our part to get Janey and Steve back together again.  Cast your vote now!"

Should Janey and Steve split, or reconicle?

___ Split

___ Reconcile

VOTE NOW!

(...or else be forced to read more of this kind of bullshit.)

(ALSO:  Frat Baby comes out of the closet here.)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

the white man's fire

Mr and Ms Progressive, I want you to sit down.  I have something to ask you.

Can I get you a drink?  Some vitamin water perhaps?  A spinach smoothie?  With wheatgrass?  Okay.  Be right back.

(Oxtrot walks back to the Beverage Counter of this fine yupscale emporium, a healthy foods store that strives to remind its customers how enlightened, elite, entitled and excellent they truly are.)

(Oxtrot returns with a barely concealed smirk after just passing a Very Respectable early 50s couple dressed in new, completely unused Patagonia clothing, who were overheard discussing their son's horrifying dilemma of having to choose among Stanford, Yale, Harvard and Oxford)

Here you are.

What I wanted to ask you about was something having to do with your perspective on the role of government.  I get the feeling that you don't like me and my views because I want to shrink the government, while you want to expand it.  And at first I didn't understand why that would make you so antagonistic toward me.  I couldn't understand the anger because I thought you, like me, would be suspicious of the government's intentions and would be interested in minimizing your interactions with and dependency on that government.

But I think you really like the government, you trust it, you want it to protect you and keep you safe.  Isn't that really what you're angry about?

Isn't it really that you think my desire to shrink the government will make you unsafe?

The way you lit into me when I objected to the forced construction of sidewalks at property owner expense with the burden of having to meet city standards... that was the first sign I had that you really do not think of anyone disagreeing with your conclusion that you know what is best for me.

It doesn't even matter that I remind you what bothers me about it.  You know.  The property is being condemned at my expense.

If I have to pay for it, it should be mine.  Not yours.  Or ours.

Mine.

But you make me treat it as Yours, because I have to keep it free of ice and snow for You even when I wouldn't shovel it for myself.

Because it frightens you to imagine yourself, or your children, encountering an unshoveled sidewalk!

Or the absence of a sidewalk!

It's so unsafe!  I need to think of the children!

But why is it my obligation?  If the streets are too unsafe for kids to walk on, to play on, then we need to control the vehicular traffic on those streets, right?  Slow it down, make it yield, make it respect pedestrians, bicyclists, and most of all children, right?

Oh.  I see your face scrunching into a frown.

You don't like the idea of no-sidewalks.

There were sidewalks back in Milwaukee's suburbs, weren't there?  There were sidewalks in Chicago, weren't there?  And in that very cool town Portland Oregon, they had really keen sidewalks there didn't they?

So naturally we need them here, and I need to pay for them.  Even though I don't want them.

Yes, I have determined it to be true, Mr and Ms Progressive.

You are afraid of taking responsibility for your own life, and the lives of your offspring, ad infinitum.  You want to accede as much responsibility as you possibly can.

And you're happy to hand it over to the government.  The local, the county, the state, the federal.  As many layers as possible.

For as much security as is possible.

Which is the strategy of someone who is terribly insecure, no matter how many fine trappings of an elite, enlightened lifestyle that someone may possess.  You look constantly for more security from someone or something other than yourself. 

You won't ever be secure.  You wouldn't know what it would feel like, because you've never tried to provide it for yourself.  You wouldn't dare.  You're afraid you'd fail at it.

You can't imagine what you need for security because you can't imagine being responsible for your own security.

Remind me, again, why you moved to Montana.  Would you please?

throw erasers at the blackboard when the teacher turns her back

A Horde of Angry Libertarians

donuts and jigsaws

from a comment I left at JRB's.

************************************

1999-2000 I experimented with Christianity by going to a local Presby church and getting to know the associate pastor. The whole religion thing never stuck but I did learn one good spiritual thing from that time: the idea the people have a _____-shaped hole in their conscious existential landscape, and they seek to fill that hole with something. Of course the Xtians say "with God" is the proper fit for that particular space on the jigsaw puzzle, but to be honest even the most regular churchgoer isn't really operating at such an existentially aware or questioning level.

Mostly, they just want good cover for their **real** chosen jigsaw piece: materialism/consumerism. And lots of modern Xtian churches are eager to fill that need, to never question materialism as a spiritual thing worthy of your or God's attention. The New Testament has so many modern interpretations and so many assisting "Readers" that tell you what ol' Jesus was saying... the ways in which it's reinterpreted to make capitalism glossy and materialism honorable and Godlike... well, unsurprising probably to any deep skeptic but still it was informative for me.

Folks who dismiss Xtians entirely would be wise to read some Wendell Berry, especially his book about farming -- The Unsettling of America. What Are People For? is another good one.

I'm just not with them on that "God-shaped hole" gig. I think the hole has a flexible shape and can be filled with any activity that gives one a feeling of existential bliss or belonging.

Too many Americans fill that hole with materialism, consumerism, greed, acquisitiveness, envy, me-first-ism, and then look for a religious or sociopolitical thing to give them cover for that hole-filling.

************************************************************

Other donuts worth eating if still hungry:

The Moviegoer

Money

Suttree

The Snakebite Letters

A Frolic of His Own

interminable

Not happening here!

GOOPERS are worse!

Gotta break a few eggs (terrorist noggins) to make an omelete!

Greenwald's a genius!

Obama critics are treasonous traitors!

and more clueless dipshittery at John Cole's Semen-in-a-test-tube.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Blah blah, dee blah, duh blah blah blah. WONH WONH WOOOONNNNH!

For wonkery fans, wheezing analyses of quasi-legalese are probably like steep, rocky, technical alpine descents are for me on a mtn bike.

But there's only one thing you really need to know about The Obamessiah's claiming state secrets privileges blocking disclosure of  detention and murder ops:
it's not a legal/constitutional issue.
The justification is being hung on the notion of "state secrets." 

"State secrets" do not have a legitimate claim to any express legal protection under the US Constitution.FN

The miraculous thing about this concept of "state secrets" is that the very notion of alleging something is a "state secret" taints the disposition of whomever is given authority to determine the legitimacy of the claim to secrecy.  The only person I'd trust to judge the legitimacy of the claim to "state secret" status would be a person who would not be upset personally (existentially, financially, socially) if his decision would call into question or otherwise bring down the government claiming the secrecy need.  Everyone else is going to be biased toward thinking the government honest, morally upright, and deserving of deference when it claims a "need" for secrecy.

That's surely the case brought to you by President Obama.  Here's what Obama's saying, no matter what his words literally contain:
Trust us. We will keep you safe, but we need to keep you ignorant of how we use our power against those we want to detain or kill for whatever capricious reason I or my appointees may offer on behalf of the financial and social backers we serve.
***********************

Lawyers who do corporate interest litigation are master craftsmen of obscuring predatory behavior and criminal urges with formal, starched-collar legal proprieties.  That's what distinguishes a person as a corporate litigator -- a slickness in rhetoric (if he's a trial lawyer), a deceptive enticement with logical prose (if she's an appellate lawyer or, at a more junior level, an associate in the litigation section).  The velvet stiletto is never felt until after the killing strike has been delivered.

The lower down the socioeconomic ranks his client base, the less slippery a litigator's approach.  Personal injury lawyers who spend all their time in trial court on small dollar cases are overt about their client's outsized greed.  They play an emotional appeal.

The further up the economic ladder you go, the more obscure the client's greed.  Overheard discussing work, the top litigators serving the biggest American, multinational and foreign businesses would appear to be discussing competing types of loss accounting.

And often times they are.

But just as often, the dry starched nature of the subject matter hides real economic inequities, genuine theft, sanctioned by the American Justice System.

Don't believe me?

Spend an afternoon on your computer, running searches on your favorite search engine, on the status of damages paid by Exxon for its Prince William Sound spill in 1989.  Check to see how much environmental remediation actually was done by Exxon, or its contractors.

If that gets your motor running, investigate the use of asbestos in American industry, and the litigation concerning the human health costs of exposure to asbestos.  Please remember to not be shocked when you learn that manufacturers of asbestos insulating materials knew for decades that their workers would have lung diseases, and never did anything to improve workplace safety, and never admitted liability for the problems they caused among their workers, or among other workers who later encountered the asbestos insulation in different settings.

An interesting dynamic arises when you work in the asbestos litigation world.  At the trial court level you have the plaintiffs' lawyers representing blue collar clients.  Factory workers, plumbers, construction contractors, roofers are their typical clients.  On the defense side though, you have a different group of people.  Clients range from big asbestos manufacturers to two-man plumbing companies.  The lawyers representing the former group are noticeably slicker.  More expensive suits, more formalized in their manner.  At the other end, representing the little businesses, you see lawyers who are much closer in character to the small businesses they represent.  They're not as fancy as the guy representing Johns-Manville, but they are a bit more polished than the principal business man running a 3-man roofing operation business client.

***********************

Politicians break down the same way.  At the very top, the politicians usually resemble corporate defense litigators.  They are slick salesmen for a predatory perspective, and they can make you feel honored to be in their presence, while they are selling you ideas that will mean your very socio-economic destruction.  Most people don't see this because they're expecting negative interests to play out more immediately.  If they're not immediately harmed, they don't often see the harm.

Time passes, and possible concerns over negative impacts...

...they fade away...

...wither...

...and eventually die.

A good white-shoe corporate defense litigator knows how to water down any negative result by extending its impact over time.  Big business is used to long-term financial arrangements, since finance capital = big business.  "Sure, we'll agree to settle with a payment of 6.5 million in penalties.  We'll pay it over 20 years."

Joe and Ethyl Sixpack often feel so powerless that they are happy to take structured settlements instead of lump-sum payment, and a good corporate interest litigator knows how to sell a structured settlement if he has to settle a case with a person of modest income.  So what if Joe and Ethyl are in their late 70s, a 20 year payment scheme is good for them!  They'd just blow it all in one lump sum, this way they'll have more to spend for longer!

(note the settlement balance reverts to the corporate interest payor if both payees die before the term ends.  score!  the martinis are on me tonight, Binkley!)

If you take a second to think about it, that's exactly what Obama sold us recently in his health care "reform."

WONH WONH WOOOOONNNNH!
_____________________________

FN - The only way you can claim such Constitutional authority is to boot-strap an argument based on the Constitution's recognition of Treason as an offense against the government.
Article III section 3

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attained.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

greed hiding behind a pretense of criticizing capitalism

not unlike Naomi Klein's bullshit.

"naked capitalism" discussion on "angry leftists" and their lack of an "outlet"

thoughts:

1) Max Keiser = amoral greedhead, analog to Mark Zuckerberg

2) Marsha = naive to the point of self-destruction

3) interesting comment by cullpepper:
There are two basic type of politically active young these days.

The first, are part of the system. This is more important than party affiliation or class or race. You do your time, you play the game and eventually you become a capital-B Bureaucrat with guaranteed wages, health care and a vapid (if kabuki-theater) involvement in policy, politics or the vast world of non-profits (which endlessly re-sharpen their mission statements to ensure next year’s grants from the central bureaucracy and wealthy elite).

The second, drop out. They have no faith in capitalism, central economy, “free markets” (bwhahaha, does anyone actually think their free?) or public political discourse. (Hard to blame them, when policy positions are clearly double-faced to make nice on talking points while rewarding campaign contributors.) These drop outs USED TO BE the political left, back when you dinosaurs were smoking pot and experimenting with free love. (P.S. Thanks for anti-biotic resistant syphilis. Jerks.) So what do they do now? The join underground political movements dedicated, not to reform, but to destruction. They have no faith in the process, so they don’t seek reform, they seek avoidance until the System itself is so rotten it collapses.
I think cullpepper describes a lot of, if not all "progressives" with his first category of "part of the system" people.  I think cullpepper's missing something by calling both categories "young" because that qualifier doesn't seem to apply at all -- I think there are middle-aged and even elder people who can be described that way.  Noam Chomsky fits within the "part of the system" group and he's not young nor middle-aged.

In his second category, cullpepper's snide rebuke of the self-congratulatory hippie generation (the real hippies, the pseudo-activists of the late 60s and early 70s whose "activism" consisted of listening to whatever was trendy-hip radio and originating a "lifestyle" (but not a life) involving Tim Leary's tune in, turn on, drop out (or whatever it was) mantra) is pretty funny.  I was old and aware enough back then to now remember clearly the original hippie era with its "unisex" emphasis and the goofy poses and products that were sold by enterprising young (and not-so...) greedheads.  Every modern "hippie" I have met (young people under 30 who wear the emblems and adopt the poses of the '67-'72 era's OGsFN) is completely unaware of how he/she is continuing a capitalist fad while pretending to be against "the Man" and "the System" and "the Corporate world."

That shit is irony embodied and funny in its own way, but if you're seriously examining American culture from the perspective of wanting things to change, you can't take those "hippies" seriously as being "activists" who do anything effective.

Except maybe giving old religionists, squares, authoritarians something to be pissed off about, that is.

Clearly cullpepper doesn't want the system to break down and be reformed as something non- or anti-capitalist.  His snide attitude toward the second category's "waiting for collapse" reveals disdain for the idea of rejecting capitalism.

Gates well-kept.  Flock well-tended.  The Lord of the Manor will be pleased.  Other lairds have seen their flocks perish; mutton is in high demand this year.

__________________________

FN- ...with functional analogs among any current trend's clique of scenesters, such as hipsters and their "messenger bike" fixies from the past 5 years.

Friday, September 24, 2010

on personality cults

From one of my comments at JRB's place:
The truth of something depends on its veracity, and not on the identity of the person who first proposes it.
This point was something I raised in a discussion of anarchism, and in response to JRB's observations about Proudhon.

Another example: the truths about capitalism observed by Karl Marx are true no matter who first observed them. It makes no difference that Karl Marx first put his observations in a form that was persuasive to subsequent pedants, academics, scholars.

What matters is what is true, not who observes it.

By focusing on Marx, or Proudhon, we make it about the man and not the truth. And what purpose does that personality focus serve?

Let me give an example from a simple personal injury lawsuit setting.

Karl Marx is driving a red Simca on Capital Blvd.  Adam Smith is driving a green Cadillac on State St.  At the intersection of State and Capital, Smith encounters a red traffic signal and Marx encounters a green one.

Marx passes into the intersection on the green signal, and is t-boned by Smith, who has ignored the red signal. 

The color of the traffic signals is an objective, verifiable fact.  Whether Smith had a green or red signal depends not on what Smith or a witness says, but on the color of the signal.

it's all about the opening scene

Dennis Perrin's latest is a good read.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

not funny. nope.

but I thought it was obvious

A couple years ago I used to read Stan Goff's Feral Scholar pretty regularly.  At some point maybe 15 months ago, a discussion arose following one of his entries in which I suggested that war, and all killing via militarism, is murder in fact if not murder as a matter of criminal law.

Stan's reply was to correct me, and say that war is politics achieved by other means.

I guess that little diversion works for Stan, or worked for Stan, in the context of his former soldier status.  How else could he live with his years of active duty?  Who would happily call himself a hit man, aside from Cusack's character in Grosse Pointe Blank?

Suggesting that war is politics by other means and not murder is pure escapism.  Most human societies have decided that it is wrong to kill a fellow human for any reason outside self-defense, with but three exceptions I know:

war
abortion
capital punishment

Thus, it was avoidance when Goff said war is not murder.  And I tried to put him back on the topic of wrongful killing of another (the legal basis for murder), but he wanted to focus on the aims behind the killing.  As I suggested then, focusing on the aims and motives only addresses the degree of the murder crime, or possibly the downgrade to manslaughter in the case of accidental killings.

War is murder.  It is always murder.  It contains every aspect of first-degree murder, most especially conscious killing of another with malice aforethought.

That it is not considered murder is one of the nifty tricks of human self-delusion (what intellectual hipsters call "cognitive dissonance").  We pretend that it's okay to murder someone with cold malice and advance planning, provided the label "war" is attached.

Not all former military personnel see things as Goff argued against me.

Witness Karen Kwiatkowski:  War is Murder.
____________________________________________

NB: This is a restatement and/or continuation of a June 2009 post: it's not murder if you call it war. Corrections, comments on inconsistencies, browbeating, berating welcome.

peevish

Brian Mullin is a useless bike/part tester and even more useless writer about bikes and parts.

statistical analysis

Theme:  pwoggies and libwools follow and comment on politics as sideline observers with no real experience in The Game, much like "sports fans" follow and comment on Pro Sports without any real experience in The Game.  The fan of Pro Sports distinguishes him/herself with statistical analytic prowess, mimicking the Famous Talking Sports Personalities who do "color commentary" at Pro Sports events and "insight" during wrap-up shows etc.

Using Statistical Analysis of comment frequency and content here at Oxtrot Industries (a member of the CFO Business Paradigm), I note the following:

Glenn Greenwald is beyond criticism.

Whenever I mock Greenwald, nobody comments.

Strange, that.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

cheap seats

as in, not going to the 110 dB Megaplex theatre, but instead DVDing it.

The Ghost Writer is worth your time. 

Ewan McGregor's okay.  Pierce Brosnan is good.  Olivia Williams plays the same role she played on that highly-overrated Jackoff Wheezin vehicle Droolhouse... err, ahhh, Dollhouse.  Since she's fairly effective in that limited application, she's okay too.  Kim Cattrall is sufficiently well blended, cold and strangely sexy.  Tom Wilkinson again out-acts everyone he's sharing the screen with, as he did in Michael Clayton.

The real thing is the story and the setting, both of which are compelling or at least were to me.  Relevant to America's role in global politics 2010, for sure.

Having been a ghost writer myself, I could relate to the strange pressures that McGregor's MacGuffin character was suffering.  Polanski's done a good job with this one.

Monday, September 20, 2010

macadam, concrete, chipseal, tarry drizzle

That's right, motherfucker.

Pavement.

Jayne Hamster has a fleeting attack from that thing others have, called "a conscience."

But she's still trying to wrap her head around the problem.

MEMORANDUM

TO:  J_Hamster

FROM:  CFOxtrot

DATE:  September 20, 2010

RE:  Health Care "Reform"
______________________________________________________________________

J_H, a personal reflection upon continuing to try to "wrap your head around" something that has been obvious to all half-witted, semi-conscious observers of the American Political Landscape does not help support the pose you have adopted.  Because this adopted pose consists of being an informed, wise analyst of the American Political Landscape, and because your readership-slash-fawning-fanbase hangs on your words and assimilates them as fact, I think it necessary to help correct these eventual "facts" your FDL cliqueteers will be adopting and regurgitating in their electronic and meatspace travels. 

Those of us who have paid attention to the post-Vietnam War era of American domestic fiscal and business policies are well aware that in 2010, the corporate business class are engaged in a charade of beleaguered, crippled status requiring Federal Treasury assistance.  The charade includes a posture suggesting the hobbled status arose unexpectedly, through unforeseeable turns of events in American society.

In the health care arena, we have watched as the post-Vietnam era has moved us quickly toward robber baron profiteering for those persons and business entities engaged either directly or tangentially in health care.  Medical care has moved from a service-oriented line of work that puts a patient's health before profits, to a profit-driven variant of greedy mercenary behavior.   Patients are not seen as hurting humans who deserve empathetic, affordable assistance.  Rather, they are seen as profit vectors.

By installing Kathleen Sibelius as his HHS Secretary, Your Boyfriend BHO POTUS 44 showed you and millions of "supporters" like you just exactly where he would lead any "reforms" of the health care segment of American society.  Sibelius is the former Commissioner of Insurance for the state of Kansas, in which role she quickly and steadily was known for siding with insurance companies whenever those companies' interests were in contest with policyholders or claimants.  Sibelius quickly made KS an "insurance-friendly climate" and this track record is what you should be following. 

Sadly, instead, you have chosen to think Your Boyfriend's Appointment means Sibelius and her Dept of HHS would be doing your bidding, rather than the bidding of insurance carriers, HMOs, hospital administrators, medical device manufacturers, pharmaceutical makers, benefits administrators, doctors, nurses, and contractors who provide services to doctors and hospitals.

While you continue to "try to wrap your head around" the idea that Your Boyfriend would do even the tiniest thing that might hurt poor peopleFN, I would urge you to consider the near-impossible:  that you have been gravely mistaken regarding the intentions of Your Boyfriend.

Because really, J_H, he just wanted a quick fuck.  Not a long-term relationship.  A dirty, connection-free fuck.

I hope you're not carrying his child.  It would really suck to see this huge error of yours compounded through the next generation.
___________________________

FN - Defined practically, from an FDL perspective, as those idiots who don't make as much money as we do and don't have the same education and work experience we do, with "we" meaning "average FDL reader."

Bwaaaaah hah hah hah hah hah. Urp. Uh. Here comes the vomit!

Our Constitutional Lawyer:
I think Jon Stewart is one of the most incisive and effective commentators in the country,...
...because the only people I know personally, the only people I hang around, are merit-stuffed liberals and political-correctness-bound progressives.

Right, Glenn?

Errr, ahhh... I mean, "Correct, Glenn?"

(Wouldn't want anyone accusing me of labelling Our Constitutional Lawyer as a "rightist" or anything.)

If Glenn Greenwald were half the legal analyst he pretends, he wouldn't be bumbling around a Foppish Dandy Periodical and instead would be offering real legal analysis to those who need to understand The Law.

If Glenn Greenwald were half the political analyst his fan-base pretends, he wouldn't be bumbling around a Foppish Dandy Periodical and instead would be working at reforming the American political landscape with effective insights coupled with suggestions on changes that would make real differences.

Instead, he's hanging around a Foppish Dandy Periodical, fellating Jon Stewart. And Stephen Colbert.  Now I'm sure that's titillating to the guy-on-guyFN lusters who wouldn't mind seeing some softcore involving Stewart, Greenwald, Colbert and a squeeze bottle of baby oil. But it's not indicative of legal scholarship nor political acumen, is it?

Is it?

It's more like fodder for Bohemian Grove.

__________________________

FN - As compared to Stratford-on-Guy.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Ritz crackers







Now that's a good cracker!

words and phrases that need to die

backstory (and/or back story)

meme

teachable moment

austerity

meritocracy / meritocrat

creative class

Tea Party

terrorism

Homeland Security

Transportation Security

progressive

liberal

Republican

Democrat

Thursday, September 16, 2010

More clueless hopey-changey

Elizabeth Warren is god-like!

counting backwards

In 1985 I graduated from college after 7 years and 3 schools (2 of which I was booted from, academically -- meaning, failed out) and celebrated that fact by getting my right knee's ACL rebuilt by Dr Richard Ray of Allegheny General in Pittsburgh PA.  I didn't live in Pittsburgh but one of my friends in college, a fellow soccer player, had many knee injuries and had a successful reconstruction from the same MD.  So I had the surgery done and stayed at the friend's house for some 3 weeks after the surgery.

When I returned to DC I got around the town on crutches and spent the rest of the summer crutch-walking through the bars of Georgetown with several college era friends.  Tooling around on crutches when drunk is a great experience that everyone should have.  It builds character, balance, and humility.

My friends from that era all have gone on to great things by most American standards -- one is a lobbyist in DC whose last big client was Wal-Mart; another is an architect whose firm specializes in airports; a 3d is a pilot with Delta; and my 4th good friend from that era is an insurance man who specializes in group health care plans.

I wasn't sure what to do with myself after college.  I got a BS in biology, which isn't suitable for much.  My first job was with a biotechnology firm in Walkersville, MD, not far from Fort Detrick.  That job lasted 3 months, I quit because the work was dull, demeaning and intellectually un-challenging.  They required everyone in my position to have a BS in biology or chemistry but nothing in the job entailed use of that education.  It was monkey-work.

When I quit the biotech job my friend JK (the now-lobbyist) suggested I come to work at the DC law firm where he was serving as a paralegal.  At that firm I met a young woman lawyer from Georgia named LS.  LS was married but liked to go out on her own to see bands, and she would sometimes go with me and JK to see bands around the DC area.  As a result of those after-work adventures LS and I found we had a similar sarcastic sense of humor, and she recommended two books to me:  JK Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces, and Paul Fussell's Class.

I was just killing some time bouncing back and forth with Google and Wikipedia searches and stumbled upon Fussell and was reminded of Class.  Which took me to an essay at The Atlantic on that book.

I guess today is a nostalgic day.

Flicking the bean, stroking the beanpole

Oh god... oh god... oh god... OH MY GAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHD!

Ahhh.  That was good.  Got any cigarettes?

Nuthin' like a little onanism to start the day.

Okay, diddlers:  here's your Kleenex.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Henry Louis

In the early 90s I lived in Baltimore and out of embarrassment for never having done so previously, began reading a lot of essays by the Sage of Baltimore.  One particular statement of his that really resonated for me when I first read it some 20 years ago was just posted over at Reality Zone:
"All government, in its essence, is a conspiracy against the superior man: its one permanent object is to oppress him and cripple him. If it be aristocratic in organization, then it seeks to protect the man who is superior only in law against the man who is superior in fact; if it be democratic, then it seeks to protect the man who is inferior in every way against both. One of its primary functions is to regiment men by force, to make them as much alike as possible and as dependent upon one another as possible, to search out and combat originality among them. All it can see in an original idea is potential change, and hence an invasion of its prerogatives. The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself, without regard to the prevailing superstitions and taboos. Almost inevitably he comes to the conclusion that the government he lives under is dishonest, insane and intolerable, and so, if he is romantic, he tries to change it. And even if he is not romantic personally he is very apt to spread discontent among those who are."

- H.L. Mencken
During his time, Mencken was savaged --wrongly, IMO-- for being a supposed anti-Semite.  I've read a lot of his stuff that supposedly "proved" his anti-Semitism, and didn't detect a whiff of it.  But then, I'm not Abe Foxman or Binny Netanyahu.

It's back and forth, like a ping-pong match between Nadal and Federer

...sometimes in the (+) column, sometimes in the (-) column. This time it's (+), an entry at Corrente by Hugh.

Leaving Firedoglake

Note Our Constitutional Lawyer'sFN peripheral involvement. Well done! But I note that I wish Hugh had earlier researched Bruce "Hack-hack-hack!" Fein's ill-stated reputation as a Constitutional law expert. More properly Fein is a butcher of Constitutional principles, akin to Joe Pesci's scene in Goodfellas when he borrows a knife from his mother under the pretense of removing a deer from the car's grille.

________________________

FN -- See Item (2) here.

And here's Jay with the wrap-up. Take it away, Jay!

at Skookum:

Akin to the workshop floor color-coded teams, the Democrats, Republicans, and Tea Partiers compete within the rules laid down by their owners; in the end, it doesn't matter how many teams the corporate aristocracy has, as long as they perpetuate the myth of competitive democracy. As in capitalist-sponsored activism, if you take their money, they own you.

Short. Accurate. To the point.

I'm not keen on Goebbels, nor Hamshers...

...which may suggest I dislike rodents.  But that's not true.  I like rodents and their cousins, am amused by chipmunks and squirrels, enjoy watching prairie dogs, and am always happy to see a marmot.

Jane Hamsher's firedoglake is an outpost that typically reminds me of that group of annoyances that I categorize mainly under "more, better Democrats," and therefore I have little use for Hamsher's own little tea-party, even if her tea is an infused, high-born Earl Grey and not a cheap bucket of sun tea brewed on the double-wide's front steps.

However, now and again the FDLers find clean, HIV-free needles within that stack of Donklepraise Hay.

Blackwater served as Monsanto's intelligence arm

How much do I admire Erik Prince? This much!

Mike Ruppert's "Collapse"

I rented this movie a few days back and watched it last night.  I've read Ruppert for quite a few years, always have found his lines of analysis and thought to be well-grounded.  Hell, I don't even hold his former cop status against him, and I hate coppers like I hate liars, murderers and thieves.

Pardon the redundancy there.

Collapse is perhaps too brief, but there was very little in it that I found specious or flat-out wrong.  It's as much about Ruppert's own journey as it is about his analysis of why we are in the global clusterfuck right now.  Distilled to its essence, Ruppert's argument is this:

1) America works on a theme of endless progress & growth

2) America's whole system is premised on oil

3) Oil is running out --we are post-peak, we have found every accessible and economically feasible oil reserve worth tapping-- and those who strategize long-term economic positions for American business interests know this, but cannot dare tell the American people for fear of massive panic and revolution.

4) Since the resource is running dry, there cannot be more "growth" or "progress" premised on an oil-based economy.  We have passed the point where oil reserves can support the global population, but the population keeps growing, and the use of oil grows with it.

4) Other nations around the world that aren't as well-heeled, oil-wise, compared to America are seeing revolutionary movements (i.e. Greece).

5) The same revolutionary urges will hit Americans when they grasp the significance of our situation, and people should begin preparing for a changed life in America.

These are fairly vague points but I think a lot of people either don't get them, or deny their truth.  It's tough to talk on specifics when the audience doesn't even grasp the generalities.  So I don't fault the movie for being too general/vague, although from where I sit, I would have enjoyed more detail.  I've already grasped the importance of the arguments Ruppert is making.  Most of my friends have not.

Ruppert cites Elisabeth Kubler-Ross's famous analysis of grieving, an analysis taught in psychology and in medical care (i.e. nursing) fields, and says Americans are at the cusp of moving from the denial stage to the anger stage.  I would agree.

I think it's worth watching.

Related tangentially:  Singularity -- Mistaking the Alligator for the Swamp

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Hungry? How about some pie? It's up there... in the sky.

Alas, only a few days after posting something for the (+) column, lambert is back to fantasy-land. The fantasy is a recurring, familiar one: Elizabeth Warren is a champion of the little guy, even though she's a Harvard professor, even though her "radicalism" (bwaaaaah hah hah hah hah hah!) is little more than pro-business "fairness".

Clue for the Pwoggies: Elizabeth Warren and/or the new Consumer Protection entity proffered by Team Obamadonkle are a charade. If the new CP entity is created and staffed, it will be theatre, like the FDA guarding Rx pharma. If Warren is appointed to head the agency, it will be a symbolic victory, like Condi Rice being the first Black woman Secretary in a Cabinet position.

Let's not think of what actually could work. Let's just be crackpot realists.

Note:  lambert likes Warren.  I guess that shows he hob-nobs with The Crimson.  Bully for you, lambert.  I do not like Elizabeth Warren because she is to consumer reform what The Obama Plan was to health care reform.  That she is a Crimson prof should be an automatic DQ for the wise, but maybe wisdom's in short supply at Corrente.

Chris Hedges modifies Tina Fey/Jim Kunstler, retains fan-base

Shorter Chris Hedges:
The Democrats don't deserve your pity. Instead, they deserve your loyalty, invigorated with a notion of pressuring for change.

The Republicans aren't the problem. The problem is the "liberals" gave up on the working class.  So don't vote for "liberal" Democrats, vote for "progressive" ones.
Shorter CF Oxtrot:

Chris Hedges is having a really hard time removing that Donkey tattoo from his heart but anyway -- he's gonna hang with Dem vs Repub, the Eternal Super Bowl of American Politics.

Jim Kunstler takes a cue from Tina Fey

In keeping with my goal of appeasing my time-burdened Professional / Yuppie readership, I hereby truncate the latest Clusterfuck Nation.

Shorter Jim Kunstler:

I'm fucking ecstatic that I'm not one of them, not a Tea Party supporter.  Those Tea Partiers are the main problem right now, they frighten me because they have such strange tastes and interests.  Doubtless they intend to capture me and subject me to medieval torture.

If Passover is...

...a time for unleavened bread, then it is a time for self-sacrifice.  Flatbreads are for the low-born, eh?

Consider the present American era as a protracted Passover period, socioeconomically if not theologically.

So let us pray.

Our dollar,
which art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy blingdom come,
thy shills be fun,
with business as the leaven.
Give us this day
our daily debt.
Forgive us our cash purchases
as we forgive those
who seek to barter.
And lead us not into economic freedom,
but deliver us from poverty.
For thine is the interest, the vig, and the juice.
For ever and ever.
Amen.

another brilliant entry from Dmitry Orlov

I swear he's the smartest fucker blogging.

The Future is Rated "B"

fumigators!

Dennis Perrin's latest.  Dig on Louis C.K.'s video especially.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

What an ass.

No, not talking about Jessica Biel there.  Talking about something else.

During the time I've been living in __________ --12 years now-- I have watched a slow influx of yuppies, the "professionals" that I was warned by my first employer's HR manager the town "didn't have enough of."  She apparently was concerned that I am a "professional" and was moving here in hopes I'd find a fleet of "professionals" to join happily for a great yuppie valhalla in the northern Rockies. 

I warned that HR manager that I wanted nothing of the sort, sought no yuppie valhalla, and in fact was moving to __________ precisely to avoid the "professionals" I'd grown up among, gone to school with, worked with.  I was escaping them, not seeking them.

Because I tend to be skeptical, I didn't buy a house when I first moved here.  I was skeptical that I'd want to remain here long enough to actually consider buying a house.  I've never been keen on "putting down roots" anywhere, so up to the time when I moved to ____________ I'd never bought a house.  Always rented.  Buying a house seemed not only a financial burden but a big logistical one too if I should try to move away. 

Well, that's how it's played out for me.  I bought a house in 2003 and now I'm ready to move but my house would need a good amount of work to be sellable or rentable, it's a shithole really.  And I lack the funds to fix up the house to rent or sell it.  So it's a regular set of deluxe fetters, this house.

The things that are driving me out of _____________ revolve around the way the town feels to me as a place for working, playing, socializing.  I moved here specifically because it was laid-back, uncrowded, empty MTB trails that were more primitive than not, empty ski lifts at the local lift-served ski hill, lots of unskied backcountry, and plenty of great streams to fish.  The "laid-back" portion is very subjective and depends on two main things, the pace of the town's daily interactions, and the attitudes displayed by people in those interactions. 

My approach to life has always involved getting to know my immediate environs before figuring out how I want to interact with that environment.  For my athletic stuff, I have always followed an apprenticeship sort of perspective, where I would find knowledgeable and skilled people who can introduce me to different layers, depths, ideas within the activity.  New places to fish, for example, were discovered by getting to know experienced fishermen, learning what they like to fish, discussing what I like to fish, and sharing ideas.  I've also used impersonal routes like books that talk up Stream X, River D, WQR Brook, etc., but I prefer the down-low approach over the broadcast approach.

It seems to me that popularizing something always works to its detriment.  When a small, friendly ski hill gets talked-up all around the nation, it draws more people from elsewhere, people who are used to skiing big, unfriendly ski hills.  They first go there to experience something "quaint" and secretly to admire themselves for having much nicer amenities where they usually ski, even if they must be shared with shoulder-to-shoulder crowds of people.  Then a few of them "relocate" to the region and begin skiing the formerly "quaint" ski hill regularly.  They start pestering the ski hill's owners to pave the driveway and keep it perfectly plowed, because it's "safer."  They complain about the slow lifts and begin clamoring for faster lifts.  Soon the formerly "quaint" ski hill is over-run with hordes of skiers, and can't hold fresh snow lines for anyone longer than 3 hours after opening. 

Now the place has become precisely what the city-slicker wanted.  Faster.  More "modern."  More "convenient."  So what if it's more expensive?  The city-slicker has a fat income, the "more expensive" is to him de minimis and quickly ignored.

Trout streams suffer the same problems.  Once enough people hear about a stream, it becomes a real pain in the ass to fish, unless your idea of trout fishing is fishing in the middle of a big party.  Might as well have a keg, a band, and some fireworks too.  Who brought the volleyball net & posts?  YAY!

The traffic in my town has become a real pain.  A route that takes me 5 mins at 8 AM on a Sunday will take me 25 mins if followed Mon-Sat between 7 AM and 7 PM.  Streets I walk my dog on are now filled with cars hauling ass 15 mph over the 25 mph limit, where they used to be empty.  4-way stop signs have become like Death Race 2000 -- drivers compete to see who can ignore everyone else faster, and jump into the intersection first.  Actually stopping for a 4-way stop sign is something the cool kids just don't have to do, I guess.

Especially when you're busy texting someone while driving.

What I don't get:  if someone wants to live in a city, why don't they just move to a city?  Why would they want the city to come to them?

Laziness?

I imagine it's because people who grow up in small towns think that "the city" is, in various ways, "better" than their small town.  They think more city-like = better... = how things ought to be.  When I meet people who grew up and still live in small towns and idolize cities, I strongly urge them to move to a city and live there for a decade before assuming cities are holy lands of sophistication and wonder. 

*   *   *   *   *   *   *

About 5 years or so ago, David Sirota gained some sort of small cult following in my town.  I'd hear people talk about him as if he were wise, worldly, and understanding of the secret machinery of politics.  So I went and read some David Sirota and began realizing, after reading Sirota, just how poorly informed most people in my town are. 

Sirota's one of those "more, better Democrats" bozos.  Purely partisan, not interested in what actually could improve life for most Americans.  Sirota's happy as long as his income stays comfortable allowing him and his yupster family to hop from the latest cool place to live to a new, emerging hipster haven as trends dictate. 

He got a job as a consultant to a few politicians in my state and somehow that made people in my town assume Sirota knew the difference between Hamm's and Rainier.

I just stumbled across something earlier this AM that showed Sirota is still working that "more, better Democrats" angle of his.

What bugs me about ___________ mainly can be distilled to this:  too many people who think like Sirota have moved here.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

MYOB more, preach less

The respectable-looking middle-aged man walked comfortably onto the dais. His green corduroy slacks, dirty buck shoes and rumpled tweed jacket suggested he was a comfortable upper-middle class American from a fine Eastern Establishment suburb of a major Eastern city, and very probably the driver of a new-ish Volvo or Saab, with a healthy Scandinavian balance of practicality, luxury, and hesitant but earnest sportiness. His otherwise generic face had a neatly trimmed salt-and-pepper beard and horn-rimmed glasses, and the remainder of his presence suggested the type of "learned authority" one might see on a PBS "educational" program.

He stopped walking at the podium, removed the microphone that rested atop the podium, and clipped it to his jacket's lapel, then walked slowly toward the well in front of the dais, containing a large oval table around which 12 people were seated, people of various ages, genders, and appearance.

"Ladies and gentlemen, good evening. My name is Hylton Pochrisse, and I will be your host this evening for our round-table discussion of behavioral standards in polite society. We'll be discussing four different topics tonight, and I'll be your moderator. Topic Number One:  Rude Behavior."

A thirty-something woman seated at the right-hand side of the table spoke first.

"Mr Pochrisse, I was listening to Terry Gross on Fresh Aire the other day, and Terry said that our biggest problem in America today is the Tea Party and their racist hatred of our wonderful President."

The learned gentleman responded with calm self-assurance.

"Call me Hy. And yes, I know the show you speak of. I heard it myself. Heard it right after I got back from experiencing the tragedy of Glenn Beck's Meeting on the Mall. I must say, I agree completely with Terry. We should be concerned first and foremost with the Tea Party."

The 30-something woman's eyes lit up as she leaned forward in her chair. She nearly cut off his last words.

"So, Hy, what do you suggest we should do about the Tea Party?"

"I think we don't need to fear. Thankfully our glorious President has put the US Department of Justice on 24-7-365 duty to create safeguards for preservation of civil behavior in America. In fact, just recently, two different US Courts of Appeals ruled that we have much stronger protections against Tea Party people than previously imagined. We can thank US Attorney General Eric Holder for putting some of the nation's finest legal minds to work on these issues. And we can thank the Third Circuit and Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeals for seeing the issues clearly enough to give us the necessary safeguards against dangerous insurrection from bigots, racists, and rednecks."

At this point an elderly woman, perhaps in her mid to late 70s, spoke up with some hesitation.

"Mr. Pochrisse?"

"Yes, go ahead, please."

"I'm troubled by another thing I'm witnessing in our society. I'm talking about a bumper sticker I saw recently, containing a silhouette of a woman, a man, and a child. My friends at the wonderful liberal blog, Daily Kos, tell me that those stickers might very well be a secret handshake of sorts for the various dangerous Christian Fundamentalists who oppose gay marriage. My grand-daughter Tiffany has a friend who is gay. Mr. Pochrisse, I'm wondering if you can tell us anything about that."

"Excellent question. Yes, I have seen those decals you mention. Personally, at first I thought they were something like a nostalgic look backward at the TV shows of the 1950s, like Father Knows Best. The decals I've seen suggest the man is in a business suit and the woman is in a full skirt of the type we can see on old TV shows from the 1950s. So at first I thought they were some kind of nostalgia sharing. But I got curious, and started asking around. I talked to my friend who teaches a course on 21st Century American Pop Culture at a well known university, and this friend told me the shocking truth. And that shocking truth is that you are correct, these decals are produced by and for opponents of gay marriage."

"But what can we do about these trends? They frighten me. I worry about how safe America is for gays and lesbians now. I worry about my grand-daughter Tiffany. Is she going to get attacked by Sarah Palin's supporters?"

"Madam, I believe this is a fairly disturbing trend, but I also think that it is nothing more than a trend among very polite people who are not inclined to be dangerous to others. Think of the symbolism: the family in the decal are dressed like well-behaved people on their way home from church, perhaps from the funeral of the father's aunt. Does that seem like thuggish behavior to you, madam?"

"I'm not sure. I don't know any of these people personally. I assume they are dangerous because they disagree with me. It seems like everyone who disagrees with me is dangerous. That's how it seems when I listen to that wonderful Keith Olbermann or that very funny Jon Stewart. Such nice boys, so smart and so well-informed."

"I would think of it this way, madam. Putting that decal on the family vehicle is the most aggressive and confrontational act these people are likely to commit. I think you have a lot more to worry about from people who have a bumper sticker that says My child beat up your Honor Student. Those stickers are found on vehicles driven by working-class, poor people who usually resolve all their problems with violence. They are the ones you should be afraid of, madam."

"But Mr Pochrisse, what can I do?"

"Madam, I suggest finding your own bumper sticker to tell those people how you feel."

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Lately I've been noticing a lot of Yup-Rigs in my town sporting a particular decal:


What I have found really interesting is the first few people I've witnessed (by driving behind them) with these stickers have been very aggressive, impatient drivers whose driving tactics suggested a whole lot of barking and very little tail-wagging.

But hey, at least they're sporting the right slogan.  Even if they're not exactly following their own prescription found in the decal's mandate.

Another Strauss waltz, this time the dance jumps from the East Coast to the West Coast, never skipping a beat

3 Obama Successes You Probably Haven’t Heard About

Fuckin' A!

Dubya may have been hubris-laden enough to declare the Constitution is "just a piece of paper," but it took a real man -- Barry O -- to wipe his ass with it.

Apparently, ol' Dubbs is all talk, no action.

Good thing Our Obamessiah knows how to trample a civil right or two.

 Fuck y'all peons, just fuck right the fuck off.

To the victor go the spoils, biiiiiiiiiitch.

It's okay, really.  'Cause he's all well-educated, 'n' shit.  Went to the nation's finest schools, worked as a community organizer, taught Constitutional Law.  He's our first Black President, you stupid redneck!  He's single-handedly moved us past bigotry, prejudice and racism!

I got better things to do.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Yep, I'm a misogynist.

Ethan's soliciting some photoshopping mayhem with a photo he got from Duncan. I'm not much good at photo manipulation, but I can take a crack at a caption, so I did. Below I've reprinted the substance of the caption as I posted it at Ethan's, but changed in style.

The Obamessiah and the 
Childhood Steward at the opposite end
are doing a
primitive ritual of penis-worship.
They present man- and woman-sized
phalluses
to the photographer,
as a celebration of fecundity.
The two children in the middle are showing us
the extremes of vaginal muscle tone,
symbolically speaking,
as experienced by the penetrating male.

Modern American Political Machinery

Reality Zone has a new posted essay from Jim Hightower covering the tactics of the Koch Brothers.  I would urge everyone to read it, and to do this specifically:  while reading the essay, try not to take the partisan bait, and try to ask yourself what interests work likewise on the Democrat side of the Federal aisle.

To what extent is Barack Obama a product of a similar machinery creating pseudo-grass-roots "support" that is a front for corporate moneyed interests?

To what extent is the Democratic Party a gigantic corporate/wealthy interest agent, which produces all kinds of ersatz imagery regarding representing the common man and typical woman?

Hightower's essay isn't really just about the Koch Brothers and how they use their immense wealth to create pseudo-populist reactionary trends in the public's ideological landscape.  It's really about how well-heeled and well-connected Americans create immense theatre that distracts Charles and Elizabeth Countryclub, Joe and Ethyl Sixpack, Landon and Patricia Liberal, and Marco and Liza Progressive by letting those folks think the theatre suggests whose interests are really at stake here.

Obama has been a lapdog for corporate, wealthy interests since he finished his formal schooling.  Even his stint as a so-called community organizer was about advancing the interests of the wealthy and the corporate-business-minded Americans within that "community" he was "organizing."  Thus, to anyone who bothered to investigate Obama's schooling and work history, it shouldn't have been surprising that Obama's cabinet essentially would be a replica of Bush43's cabinet, nor that Obama's grand policy strokes would be a continuation of those made by Bush43 (Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran, health care, bank bailouts, Wall Street bailouts, corporate welfare, paranoid "homeland security" that crushes individual liberties, a non-response to Deepwater Horizon mirroring the non-response to Hurricane Katrina, et cetera).

It's because the same kinds of interests run both parties, Donkeys and Elephants alike, no matter what they tell you as their sales pitch.  These interests involve corporate aggrandizement -- bailouts; regulations and laws that intentionally favor the businesses they are supposed to restrain; "enforcement" administrators and federal lawyers who start their analysis from the perspective of expansive corporate rights that essentially go beyond laissez-faire and actually are hands-on promotion of corporate interests.FN

You know, they had a similar system in Italy under Benito Mussolini. 

Know them by what they do, not by what they say.

________________________

FN - This is one place where I agree with some libertarians who say we've never had a "free market" in the USA.  Generally the "market" has been affirmatively regulated, and by this ("affirmative") I mean the regulation has favored what the regulated industries wanted.  The regulation pleases liberals and progressives, who think almost always of "more, better regulation" as a response to any socioeconomic ailment in American society.  To the libs and pwogs, the regulation is its own value, so affirmative regulation wouldn't --and perhaps couldn't-- be a bad thing.  To tell the truth, I've never heard a lib or pwog suggest to me that regulation ever is bad.  I don't think it's possible for libs or pwogs to acknowledge the destructiveness of affirmative regulation.

And of course, the affirmative regulation pleases to no end the Republicans, who are to a man capitalists and profiteers first and foremost.  That the bureaucracy creates waste is irrelevant when the bureaucracy is doing what the capitalist wants. The paleoconservatives dislike the bureaucracy enough to get rankled on this, but apparently most of them have left the GOP for the Libertarian Party.

The strange (or not so...) parallels to Israel

Glen Ford:
Every utterance that urges organizers of the Cordoba House, a proposed community center with room for prayer, to respect the “sensitivities” (or, sometimes, “sensibilities”) of Muslim-haters, represents a great leap backward in U.S. history, to a time when the typical white American believed Blacks should not attempt to integrate neighborhoods and schools that did not want them. Such intrusions on white turf and hearth, although conceded as possibly within Black people’s legal rights, were deemed grossly “insensitive” to the feelings of whites. The onus was on the Black intruder, whose legal rights were morally trumped by white people’s right to be unmolested by the repugnant and scary presence of Negroes.

There is not an iota of difference between such Thirties-, Forties- and Fifties-era attitudes, and Sen. Reid’s judgment that Cordoba House “should be built some place else.” Reid, of Nevada, fits right in with the 67 percent of New Yorkers surveyed in a recent New York Times poll who said the “mosque” planners should find “a less controversial location” – that is, someplace that, theoretically, wouldn’t upset the Muslim-haters.
You know, I've long said that the problem of Israel vs Palestine has almost everything to do with choosing a very "controversial location" for Israel. They should have located Israel somewhere "less controversial" in order to avoid irritating the Palestinians, right? I mean, what's good for the goose is good for the gander, right?

Let's boil the Cordoba House objections to their essence:  certain American Jews and American Christians have a reflexive, ignorant, irrational fear and hatred of Muslims.  Among the people I know who are rabidly anti-Muslim, most are American Jews.  If I'm paying attention to Glenn Beck (which I don't, really) I assume the objections to Islam come from American Christians.  I guess it depends on where I look.

Either way, if the rule is avoiding controversy, I say we dismantle Israel and send the tribes back into diaspora.  Then, we should remove all churches and synagogues from Manhattan.

After we've done that, we can talk about whether Cordoba House should be built, and where.

Yes, the rest of Glen Ford's essay is well worth reading.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

yep

dig it.

Another cue from the Tee Vee

If you were living on a small island with a population of 250 people and the island's workings were run by a group of 12 called the "Chosen," what would you do if the Chosen began running the island in a way that benefited only the Chosen and their small group of sycophants -- another 18 people, for a total of 30 residents?

What would you do?

Would you allow the Chosen to hold a new selection for a new group of Chosen?

What if their rules for the new selection limited your selection to the 18 people who were the present Chosen's sycophants?

Would you continue to let the Chosen tell you how the island should run?

What if your friend --let's call him Todd-- suggested creating from the remaining 220 islanders, a new group of Chosen, under a new set of rules that addressed the problems leading up to the current Chosen running their plutocracy?

Would you think Todd's idea had merit? Would you think you could improve personally upon the present Chosen and their 18 sycophants, from among the remaining 220 island residents?

Would you think it possible to improve upon what the present Chosen have been doing?

Tina Fey to Donklebots: Congratulate yourselves!...

...on not being Sarah Palin supporters!


If you laugh at Sarah Palin, you are superior to Sarah Palin.  It's very important that you meet up with friends and commiserate over the fact that Sarah Palin is alive, and bust a collective gut over how Palin gets mocked severely by Fey.  It's truly funny to promote your own ego at the expense of someone else.  That's the purest essence of existential comedy.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *
The above is a result of my watching TV this past weekend, including SNL on Saturday night. Don't know whether the episode was new or a re-run, but it contained a Fey skit busting on Sarah Palin. The smugness was nauseating, comparable to Syrup of Ipecac.

I was prompted to post it after reading Jack's entry here.

one for the (+) column

lambert:
I think the legacy parties are a single entity that needs to be destroyed, and I'm doing my little bit to bring that about. You might call it the "Lincoln 1860 on Steroids" Plan, because after the Whigs went down the shitter, the country got Lincoln. I think that if either the Ds or the Rs crack, the system will collapse. Now, I'm trying to take down the Ds because I know them the best. But I don't care which one goes first.
ayup!

I'm goin' OSTRICH, baby!

Reality Zone has posted an interesting essay from ZeroHedge, it's worth reading. Excerpt:
Perhaps the greatest misconception of all, especially in economics, is that bad news encourages bad events. That the truth is hazardous, and for the economy to remain healthy, the establishment must continue to lie. The presumption that our financial system is so dependent on our mass psychology is complete nonsense. The dollar is being fundamentally debased whether or not we blindly “believe” the dollar is fine. Our country is facing unserviceable national debts whether or not we force ourselves to think positive thoughts. The stock market is exceedingly overpriced and primed for collapse even if you and I ignore all the warning signs and drink margaritas on white sandy beaches all day with big dumb smiles on our faces. Two plus two equals four no matter what the psychological state of our society is. The facts are not subject to my “good vibes” or “bad vibes”, and if this is the best argument MSM pundits can make against legitimate alternative financial analysts, then I think they need to pack it up and leave the thinking to more adequate men.

Paid fellators usually are called "whores," "prostitutes," or "rent boys."

1) Salon soothes the silk cravat -and- pinot grigio crowd of Uberdonkle Patriots:
Obama has fewer judge confirmations than Nixon.
A Republican effort to block the president has resulted in the largest judiciary drought in 40 years.
Excuse me, Foppish Dandies of Salon, but the Republicans can't control judicial appointments because they don't have any power right now. Nice try, though, you pack of Rent Boys.

2) It would appear that Our Constitutional LawyerFN has waded into the thicket and bramble of IOZ's comment thread.

3) I'm soliciting explanations --especially those which touch on the human psyche-- for the fad of putting these decals in the rear window of one's car/truck/SUV/crossover/whatever:



______________________________

FN - Also known as Glenn Greenwald.

Monday, September 6, 2010

nice work, Sam

Local lad gone big-time, Sam Schultz, was the highest-placing American racer in the Men's Elite XC class at the recent UCI World Championships at Mont Saint-Anne. His 20th place finish put him ahead of many other American XC racers who have been beating him all season (Todd Wells, Adam Craig, Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski).

The linked story at Cycling News has Sam saying the course "was rad." Based on these pictures, I'd agree!

money for nothing, undergrad chicks for free!

What, really, does it take to be the Professor of Political Science at a northeastern college?

If the college is Hofstra, what it takes is a whole lot of inability to understand the American culture mixed with a perspective that blames Republicans for everything, even when Democrats control all of the federal power.

I knew more about American politics than David Michael Green before I even went to college.  "Professor" Green doesn't know anything about American politics, though, so my statement about my own comparative knowledge isn't bragging.  Anyone who isn't comatose knows more about American politics than Green knows.

This assumes that Green's various public essays are plumbing the depths and scanning the breadths of the full scope of Green's political acumen.  I suppose there is the chance that Green is playing dumb and is holding his best moves for the 12th dimensional level of this futuristic chess game that Green and his Main Man, BHO, are playing.

Bishop to Queen's level 3... take that, Sarah Palin!
Professor David Michael Green and his team-mate, President Barack Hussein Obama, make a pivotal move in their 12-Dimensional Chess Game against Sarah Palin and the Evil Rethuglicans

I hear that if Tina Fey were an undergrad, she'd be at Hofstra, and would be a regular fuck-bunny for "Professor" Green.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

fundamentals

One of the most frequent topics that catches my eye on MTB forums is the question of what new 6" do-it-all wonder-bike should someone buy.  This is the hot category of the past few years, the goal of the mfrs has been to build 6" travel bikes that weigh less than 30 lbs, pedal uphill like a XC race bike, and descend like a DH bike.

Sort of.

I mean, the XC bike will always be faster uphill and the DH bike will always be faster on descents when the hills are hills and not just little undulations.  But then if your hills are little undulations there's no reason to be looking at a FS bike let alone one with 6" travel.

Which raises the question:  in exactly what situation is a 6" travel bike useful?

I've been riding MTBs for a long time.  My first proper MTB was one I bought in 1991 or thereabouts, a fully-rigid, low-end Trek 930.  No suspension.  Old canti brakes, not even Vs.  I bought it because I wanted to get back into riding bicycles on dirt, something I did as a kid on a BMX-ish converted Schwinn Sting-Ray.  At the time I'd been riding road bikes since 1985, when I had my right knee's ACL rebuilt and needed a good rehab and replacement for the 5 mile daily run that was usual before I had the surgery.  The orthopod suggested cycling, I went and bought Cannondale's cheapest road bike, a touring model called the something 300.  R300, maybe.

Thanks to the 6 years of road riding, by the time I bought that first MTB, I'd already learned efficient cycling fundamentals like proper bike fit, efficient use of gears, good pedaling dynamics, and the rudimentary basics of bike handling.  I'd also spent a good number of years riding off-road motorcycles, starting with a Honda Trail 50 in jr high school (which I shared with my younger brother), then moving to a Kawasaki KX 90 and then later, a used Yamaha YZ 250 that I bought off my friend KD who raced motocross.  The moto experience taught me about handling a 2-wheeler off-road, using body english and terrain-reading skills along with basic braking, shifting, acceleration skills. Coincidentally, it was the moto riding experience that made me convert my Schwinn krate bike into a BMX-ified Sting-Ray.

During the 20 years I've been riding MTBs, I've owned all types of MTBs.  I've had rigid bikes, front-suspension bikes, full-suspension bikes.  I've had full-suspension (FS) bikes with 4" travel, 5" travel, 6" travel, 7" travel and 8" travel.

The biggest thing I learned about bigger travel bikes is they show you how little skill and courage you actually possess in comparison to the most skillful riders on the planet.  I out-rode my first FS bike, a 4" travel bike, and broke the frame by using it on drops that probably weren't within its design ideas.  But other than that, I didn't find myself out-riding my bikes.  Generally I found that the more I gave them, the more they asked of me.

You can out-ride a 5" travel or 6" travel bike by being low-skilled and taking it on bigger terrain, steeper rockier stuff at high speeds, or big drops/jumps.  You can break one by doing that stuff.  So you have to examine what you intend to do, and what is the bike intended to do.

The modern "all-mountain" standard of 6" travel seems pretty arbitrary to me, and I think it's excessive.  My general thinking is this:  if you are riding your bike in a way that actually uses 6" of travel at the front and back, you're probably riding extremely rough terrain, or doing pretty big drops/jumps.FN  Rough terrain and big jumps/drops require heavier duty parts.  Heavier duty parts = heavier bike.  Heavier bike = useless weight dragged along if you're doing a lot of climbing.

But the idea of a 6" travel, sub-30-lbs bike is to be able to do a lot of climbing, while getting to a really rough descent that will require 6" travel.

See the conundrum?

I don't weigh a lot.  I weigh 150 lbs.  That's close to industry targets on "average" riders, which I understand to be somewhere in the range of 5'10" and 165 lbs.  You'd think that at 150 lbs I wouldn't need extra-beefy wheels or tires -- and I don't.  I don't start to see a need for beefy wheels and tires until I get into really rough terrain ridden at what would be DH race speeds.

Currently I have two MTBs.  One is a hardtail singlespeed with 29" wheel format, the other is a 26" wheeled FS bike with 5.75" travel out back and 6.2" travel up front.  I can ride them on the same terrain, the same kinds of rides -- and I do just that.  I alternate at random, depending on which ride experience I want.  If I ride the singlespeed I know that means I'll walk more of the uphill but in the bargain the bike is lighter for pushing along as I walk.  When I have to walk the FS bike uphill I'm always hoping it's a short walk.  The weight difference is only about 5 lbs (and maybe even less) but I can feel that difference pushing the bike, or portaging it over deadfall, through streams, and over fences.

There are other differences too.  The FS bike naturally has a softer ride, which my aging body with many orthopaedic injuries will always appreciate on longer rides, or rides that are jackhammer-rough for long periods of time.  The FS bike's slightly smaller wheels provide quicker turning and quicker acceleration, and they also fall more deeply into holes.  The deeper hole-falling can be an advantage if used to pump the trail for extra speed... or it can slow me down more when I am not riding smoothly or aggressively enough.

The big-wheeled singlespeed is more like a locomotive, it is slower to get up to speed and a bit more stable once moving.  By not falling into as many holes or as deeply into those holes that catch it, it holds momentum better through irregular terrain.  Generally.  Even though it has no rear suspension.  I have to ride "light" and float the bike through irregular terrain, adding suspension with my body where there is none on the bike's rear wheel.

The big-wheeled bike also climbs a bit better, provided I can stay on top of the gear... that is, it climbs better until I have to walk, and then it climbs less well -- but pushes uphill better!

*   *   *   *   *   *   *

The MTB rides I do tend to range from 3 hrs to 9 hrs, with the weekday rides averaging 3.5 or 4 hours and the weekend rides averaging probably 6 or 7 hrs.  Given where I live, these rides all involve a lot of climbing.  A lot.  And often the climbs are steep.  Sometimes they're steep and loose, sometimes steep and rocky, sometimes steep and rutty, sometimes steep and rooty.  Sometimes they're steep and loose, rocky, rutty, rooty.  Sometimes they're pretty smooth and still steep.  Generally, though, the climbs are pretty tough on the rides I choose to do.  This is not to say I'm a badass climber.  I'm not.  Among my riding friends I'm probably the weakest and slowest climber most days.  Every now and then I feel strong and I don't mind the pain of climbing, but usually I defer to relative comfort and pedal uphill at a slower pace and lower heart rate.

Our nearest in-town trails used to be fairly technical, but over the 12 years I've lived here the town has seen a lot of new people move in, and a lot of new MTB rider traffic on the trails.  The negative impact of the increased traffic is that what used to be obstacles in the trail bed now are things people ride around, in a much-wider trail bed.  People have ridden around most obstacles, nearly doubling the trail width in the process.  The end result is less-technical trails.  But we still have plenty of technical challenge in the alpine zones, where trails are more primitive and generally more rocky, steeper, narrower, and sketchier.

Probably the received "common wisdom" on my bike choice would be to ride the singlespeed on the less-technical in-town trails, and the FS bike on the more technical alpine rides.  That seems to be the thinking that I gather on bike choice when I read people's comments on various MTB forums -- singlespeeds are for tame trails and only a fool rides them on tough terrain or long climbs; FS bikes are made for rough terrain.

But I'd say it really depends on what kind of riding I want to do.  I just have to use more skill, more finesse, better terrain reading, better strategy on where and when to lay down the power and where/when to rest when I use the singlespeed on a long alpine ride

*   *   *   *   *   *   *

My guess is that a lot of the people who are looking at buying a 6" travel bike won't be using much of that travel on most of their rides.  As I said above, it takes pretty big terrain, or high speeds, to use 6" of travel if your bike's suspension is set up correctly.  And I don't think most people on 6" travel bikes are in such big terrain at such high speeds.

I think a lot of riders on the new "all-mountain" standard 6" travel FS bikes would be happier on 4" or 5" travel FS bikes, bikes that are lighter, with more efficiency.

But they'd lose their tough guy image at the trail head, when they park next to Doctor Dan and Lawyer Lou who are busy unloading their $6,000 all-carbon wonder bikes. It's important, apparently, for a lot of cyclists to have the proper "image" at the trail head parking lot.FN2

They could earn back some tough guy points with a singlespeed, though.  Any time some person comments on my riding singlespeed, it's always something like, "wow, you must be strong" or "you must be a badass."  Well, it has made me stronger, but I'm not strong compared to my riding friends.  And whether I'm a "badass," that's a silly thing to wonder about.  There's always a better rider somewhere.

The problem with choosing the hardtail singlespeed is that it requires more finesse and skill to achieve the same level of "floaty" comfort that a FS bike inherently provides.  And, apparently, most riders don't want to put in the time to earn those skills.  They'd rather let the bike handle it.


______________________________

FN - Frequently I hear or read people's statements that heavier riders need more travel because they will blow through smaller travel amounts, due to their heavier weight.  This is completely incorrect.  FS designs use spring rates to account for rider weight, not travel amount.  A heavier rider uses a firmer spring rate, not more travel.  If a rider blows through his travel quickly, he needs to use a firmer spring rate and possibly more damping. What heavier riders need more of --generally speaking, in comparison to lighter riders-- in a FS frame design is torsional and lateral stiffness in the frame. Since the industry tends to design bikes around 5'10" 165 lbs riders, the frames are generally designed for such riders' loads. Sometimes a heavier rider will feel more flex in a frame than his much lighter counterpart. Assuming more travel is the answer, that's an indirect route to the same end. Bigger-travel bikes tend to have more beefy, less flexible frames because bigger travel = bigger terrain, design-wise. Bigger terrain = higher loads & stresses on the bike. But for more efficiency, bigger riders should just stick with the travel that suits their intended riding, and adjust their spring rates to get optimal suspension performance.

FN2 - This is my appraisal from pedaling through the parking lots of the trail heads at the riding areas in my town. I pedal from my house and don't drive my bike over there in my truck -- why do that? I'm going for a ride, not a drive!  In any event, the trail heads in my town have become a "scene" where people hang out, talk bikes, drink beers.  I don't see this as a good development, but apparently my town's newest transplants think it's the only way to ride MTBs -- drive it to the trail, use the trail head parking lot as an integral part of the "experience."  It just adds in too much Rooster Strut display -- my car is cooler than your car, my truck more badass than your truck, my bike rack swankier than yours, my tailgate-party-equipment cooler and more expensive.  And that's not even getting to the subject of the bikes or the trails themselves, is it?