Sunday, January 31, 2010

The French confection

Bob Greene made me laugh this morning, writing about the magazine ad for a Hermès suitcase priced at $27,100. He thought at first it was a joke until the Hermès store in Naples Florida told him that it wasn't even their most expensive bag, which of course is diamond encrusted. This one isn't. It's trimmed in "Evercalf" leather which I suspect to be much like the "rich Corinthian" leather of Chrysler Cordoba fame, which means most of the cost -- at least $27,000 of it -- is in the trademarked name for a perfectly ordinary material. Otherwise it's just a canvas bag, or "officer canvas" as they call it, which means you may have to salute it if you're wearing a Hermès hat.

Why? Greene keeps asking, although I know and you know exactly why anyone would actually buy one at a time when more Americans are cramming their things into shopping carts and Hefty bags and wandering the streets. It's precisely because it cost $27,100 and you can't afford to toss that kind of money away on nonsense, hand stitched or not.

It's not the sort of bag most people would really notice, except that it doesn't have the silly handle and wheels that make our airports seem like farmyards full of goat carts, but then it's designed for another purpose, it's designed both to remind you and to help you forget that there are people -- millions of people trying to support families on one Hermès suitcase a year.

Hey, don't get angry. It's your money and you're taxed enough already. Under Reagan's tax structure you'd have had to make do with Louis Vuitton or, perish the thought, Hartmann, so the country owes it to you and you needed to buy it now, before that Marxist in the White House restores the tax rates of that prince of Capitalism -- right?

Friday, January 29, 2010

It's not true

Nothing is true, all things are permitted
- Hassan i Sabah -

No, I didn't watch the State of the Union Address Wednesday and I haven't read the transcript and I don't care what it says because it doesn't matter. As Justice Alito said, "It's not true." Nothing is true, at least nothing that the opposition, the enemy says and we're all the opposition and we're all the enemy, listening only to ourselves and the prophets who repeat what we want to hear. We're all the majority of course; silent or otherwise and if we're also the persecuted minority, vide supra. The other guy is always Guy Fawkes, plotting to destroy order, even though order itself is the enemy and war is the goal and peace is for the weak.

As the persecuted minority, anything we do is permitted; anything even if it means selling our country to global robber barons and promoting 'every man for himself' anarchy and if we fall down, if chaos comes, we will just deny it and chant the doctrine of less government or more government or whatever it is, because nothing is true and all things are justified.

No, frankly my dear reader, I don't give a damn. I was foolish to hope that the dogs of the fallen regime wouldn't bring down the next one and that the cancer it planted in the court wouldn't aid them in setting the stage for our next Republican president, our first wholly owned president and a subsidiary of Exxon or Humana, or KBR or Halliburton or the People's Bank of China. It's a small world after all and there are a lot of hungry giants.

Yes, they failed to privatize Social Security, they only partially succeeded in privatizing the military, but the goal of privatizing The Legislative and Executive branches is about to follow the privatizing of the Court. Behold the United States of America, inc - or GmbH or SA or Ltd or whatever floats the global boat. But it's not true, as the judge said. You never really wanted reform, did you? No, it never happened and this isn't happening and it's all going to be all right -- just look at the light.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Saved by the cops.

Who knows what Lloyd Woodson planned to do with his room full of weapons; some legal, some very illegal? It's not hard to guess from the little evidence the media gives us, hidden in the boiler-plate harem-scarum hoplophobic verbiage. Newspaper reports seem too involved with making the description of his collection as lurid as possible and not involved enough with evidence about his plans. Indeed, much of What the 43 year old, apparently African-American US Navy veteran had in his motel room was illegal and scary enough: a grenade launcher, for instance and a .50 caliber semi-automatic weapon with the serial numbers filed off. He was wearing body armor. I think we can dismiss the argument that he was not up to no good.

As usual we get the "cache of hundreds of rounds of ammunition" statement, although a recreational shooter intending to spend a few hours at a shooting range might easily go through much more than that. We get "hollow point" as though that's not what one uses for hunting anything from rats at the dump, to rabbits to elk. But, no, Woodson had just come to town, had a map of a military installation and another map of "an out-of-state civilian community." Perhaps you have a road map in your car too.

So was he planning to shoot up a Navy base? Sure sounds like it and I'm sure glad a suspicious bystander reported him and the New Jersey Police arrested him, but what surprises me is that I haven't heard the usual Fox-based outrage that this isn't being sold as a Terrorist Attack and that Fox isn't already shrieking about how Obama isn't running down the street yelling "Terrorist attack run for your lives" as they did when the underwear bomber tried to blow up a Detroit bound airliner.

That just proves that boy in the White House just isn't up to keeping us all safe, after all. The very idea that the New Jersey police would be able to stop an armed assault is part of Obama's plot to sell us on the idea that there's any other way to deal with terrorism than to be terrified into bombing some godforsaken piece of desert. It's a war on Terror, you know, not a game of cops and robbers.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Hams in Haiti

Amateur radio is "low tech" says CNN. Isn't it interesting that in this day of "high tech" cell phones a few Haitians were able to contact people outside of Haiti using that funny, nerdy old thing: amateur radio? How quaint.

For some of us who have invested tens of thousands on extremely complex, digital signal processing communications equipment: transceivers, computers, amplifiers, tuners, towers, stacked rotating antenna arrays would find that condescension infuriating. Many of us who belong to organized emergency communications groups who hold regular drills; many of us who man worldwide radio nets and are trained to expeditiously handle messages, routine or emergency from land based and maritime stations, find this insulting in the extreme.

Low tech? It's a meaningless phrase. Cell phones are limited low power radios and nothing more. They only operate as far as the nearest tower which needs a power grid and a working phone system. Ham radios have worldwide range. Your cell phone can't operate from above the AM broadcast band up to microwaves. It can't access the amateur satellites ( yes, there are a bunch of them.) It can't handle AM, FM, SSB, RTTY, PSK-31, Packet, Video or a host of other digital modes hams have available. If your phone company's tower is down, you can't re-rout your own calls through a neighboring state - or country. You can't build or jury rig your own cell phone. Hams can and we don't charge.

Yes, only a few Hatians managed to contact the outside world before outside agencies arrived, but there are only a handful of operators in that impoverished country. When they did make contact, an organized net was already in place with translators and technical advisers and it was able to immediately forward messages anywhere -- free of charge. The day after the quake, I listened as a Ham calmly advised a Missionary in Haiti how to adjust his equipment to compensate for run down batteries. I heard the same missionary advise the US of a severe aftershock, of large groups leaving the capitol on foot. I heard another asking for emergency insulin and report that he was fleeing in a radio equipped jeep while being hunted by "men with guns." American hams helped him to report his position without giving it away to the gang chasing him. Do I resent being described as some crackpot with archaic equipment just accidentally being of use? You bet.

No, your cell phone may play games and even mix drinks for you, but the communication ability is through the ordinary phone system only and that's almost always the first thing to fail. Comments at the CNN article seem to think the problem was with charging dead phones, but of course a cell phone without the huge, fragile infrastructure is useless. If the lines are down, if the power is out, you phones won't work -- end of story. After any Hurricane, you'll notice people flipping light switches again and again and staring at their useless iPhones in disbelief -- realizing they can't call the police, the fire department, an ambulance or check with the outside world in any way. I know, I've been through three of them. I'm an assistant emergency communications coordinator for my county and an official emergency station and if we have yet another one, I or someone like me, could save your life. That "high tech" enough for ya?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Back to the future

Only a year into Ronald Reagan's first term, some pundits were calling him a one-term president. Only hours into Bill Clinton's first term many were saying the same thing. Barak Obama hasn't been spared the would-be self fulfilling prophecy either. Republicans and the corporate interests who own them have been focusing on the upcoming elections since November 2008 and now, the Supreme Court has given them what may be just what they need to make their reconquista possible. Indeed the midterm elections may have their outcome affected by new, less restrictive rules regarding campaign spending by corporations.
"Our nation's speech dynamic is changing, and informative voices should not have to circumvent onerous restrictions to exercise their First Amendment rights,"
wrote Kennedy for the majority, setting aside a century's limited progress in separating the power of money from the power of the vote. By "informative voices" of course, he means The Insurance industry, the Health care industry, The Oil Companies and all who seek to profit by influencing and restricting our choices. That's one small step for KBR, Halliburton, United Health Care, Exxon and Cargill -- and one giant step backwards for you and me.

At a time of national outrage as concerns the true loyalties of our elected representatives, could this affirmation of the power of money over the power of the individual come at a worse time?

Today's ruling, by Big Money's representatives in the court may not change much, considering the ease with which corporations have been able to influence every last detail of our lives as it is, but it's a bad step in a bad direction.

The unbearable luxury of truth

"and how much more falsity is still necessary to me that I may therewith always reassure myself regarding the luxury of my truth."

-Friedrich Nietzsche-

Quick, hurry, watch this video right away before "they" pull it. Watch it before "they zap it off the internet" because it's a video of Obama admitting that he grew up with Muslims and is "one of them." Watch carefully and you can see where it was edited. It's the third one in my in-box this week and the week's not over. Videos about impaling Christian babies on the "Scimitar of Muslim justice." Obama in a Ukrainian porn video -- hurry, before it gets pulled as part of his obvious Marxist agenda! Even a dog knows better than to swallow anything from Obama, but we swallow the slander with infinite glee. In YouTube we trust and ain't it fun to hate Obama?

How many thousands of years ago was it that merely saying President Bush was embarrassing was enough to ruin your career and get you excoriated on Fox News, and reading the names of the fallen in Iraq was an outrageous attempt to criticize the president that bordered on treason? Go back and look -- quickly -- before history is rewritten.

UnitedHealth, the largest US health insurer by market capitalization, posted earnings of $944 million in the fourth quarter of 2009, up from $726 million in 2008, it was announced this morning. That's a 30% increase -- what recession?

Last week I got a bill for over $700 for some routine blood work. Good thing I can afford Blue Cross at $1500 a month with a $2500 deductible, but still, I pay in far more than I get out of it seeing as that's how private insurance works and how they need to make 30 or 40 percent to keep the stockholders fat. Good thing for UnitedHealth if the Sleaze Lords defeat "Obama's" Marxist agenda!

America hates the President, America hates the courts, hates the Congress, hates the Government. America doesn't trust science, doesn't trust educated people, doesn't trust Liberals. Americans believe they're smart, that their opinions are valid; their superstitions, their fears, their prejudices and that they're being oppressed by everyone but those who get rich from their suffering. America trusts anonymous e-mails, Rush Limbaugh and YouTube. Americans love comfort, security and luxury, especially if they have more of it than their neighbors. Of course paying for it with cash is Communism, but what's a little falsity? It's free and abundant -- and it's fun!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Me too! I was disgusting too!

The first thing that came to mind when I saw George Bush and Bill Clinton trying to control their mutual loathing while sharing a podium for the President's bi-partisan humanitarian effort, was that Clinton shouldn't be forced to associate with the most embarrassing thing that ever crept into the White House on two legs; the most embarrassing president we have had in our history. He shouldn't be forced to work with a party whose major spokesmen are still giggling about it being a publicity stunt to gain favor with "light skinned and dark skinned" groups and recommending against saving any lives.

I think we should call it the Coulter principle: find some tragedy, some enormity, some egregious horror and turn it inside out.
" Clinton is a 'national embarrassment' and Bush shouldn't be 'forced' to partner with him" hissed the wicked witch on Fox News' Geraldo at Large last Sunday. "To force poor ex-President Bush -- like he hasn't suffered enough -- to be hanging around with Bill Clinton, who's leaving his essence on Kleenex in the White House..."
Sleazy enough for you?

As Raw Story tells us, Coulter seems to feel she missed the sleaze train with the tragedy in Haiti, with Robertson, Beck and Limbaugh scooping her badly while she was off in the bushes shedding her skin.
"Stop asking about Rush's statement. I made some controversial statements this week too,"
she warned Geraldo. I'm quite sure she did -- it's just that the screams of a quarter million maimed and dying people drowned her out.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Glenn Beck is Satan incarnate

So if Rush Limbaugh is the worst person in the world, what does that make Glenn Beck, whose latest excretion regarding Haiti rides on Limbaugh like a rocket on a big fat booster stage? What did he say, you ask? He said that Obama is dividing the nation by responding too quickly to the apocalypse in Haiti.

I like to think I have a foul-mouth vocabulary second to none, but I'm nearly speechless.
"I also believe this is dividing the nation…to where the nation sees him react so rapidly on Haiti and yet he couldn’t react rapidly on Afghanistan. He couldn’t react rapidly on Ft. Hood. He couldn’t react rapidly on our own airplanes with an underwear bomber…it doesn’t make sense. [...] Three different events and Haiti is the only one. I think personally that it deepens he divide to see him react this rapidly to Haiti."
Yes, the divide is clear: it's Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh and Pat Robertson on one side and everything good, compassionate or concerned in any way with humanity on the other. This is simply the voice of smug, self-satisfied evil; snickering, whining, mocking evil.

And the Foxes are talking about running him for president. The other side of the "divide" would like to run him out of the country on a rail.

This Just in:

Iowa Representative Steve King has a brilliant idea. Instead of giving Haitian illegals in the US an extra 18 months to stay here rather than recieve what is today a death sentence, King would have us deport them immediately. Presumably that would entail pushing them out of an Airplane, since there's no place to land or walking the plank since the seaport is destroyed. Need I mention that King is a Republican.

Hey God -- are you listening to this shit?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Fox can't count

Either that or they just lie, and lie, and lie. I've lost count of how many grossly misstated or simply invented figures have been given out on Fox News recently. Not that it's a new thing, but someone needs to remind them that there is a substantial difference between 15% and 0.15%

"The big banks are set to pay out a record $145 billion in bonuses for 2009. Some Americans outraged by this. President Obama looking to ease some of that anger, promoting a 15 percent tax on the banks that remained or have remained or have returned to profitability."

No, Foxy Friends, President Obama is not supporting a 15% tax on banks that have already repaid the TARP money; the discussion is about a 0.15 percent fee on the largest and most highly leveraged banks like Citibank, with more than $50 billion in consolidated assets. Here's the actual news.

Here's the Fox News:
"It's being assessed only against the banks that have already paid back with interest the TARP money they got. So essentially they're paying back for the banks, they're paying back for Fannie and Freddie, who are not paying -- paying back for the cars, rather. Not the weak ones still in the red which continue to be a drain on the Treasury, like for example, Citibank."

Sloppy journalism? Egregious lie? It's hard to prove either way, but it happens again and again and somehow the misleading, or fake or distorted "news" always favors the Fox Faithful and damns the Democrats. In either case, that Fox is a genuine news organization is not in doubt -- they're not. Rarely will a Fox only viewer ever hear a retraction or correction or apology and only sometimes will they hear the truth. You can count on that.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Let them die - not one more dollar!

I've lived in declared disaster areas several times and have been involved in emergency communications and food distribution during three category 2 hurricanes in the last 5 years alone and of course, the destruction of property, the loss of power for months is no fun, but to compare any of that with what's going on in Haiti right at this moment shows the inadequacy of the word disaster. In Haiti, the lives of almost all have been a disaster all along and they are a living hell for the lucky survivors.

The first I heard about the earthquake in Haiti was a communication from the ARRL, which represents Amateur Radio in the US, asking us to keep certain emergency frequencies open and to listen for any communications coming out of Haiti. I heard nothing myself, although the Caribbean is at my doorstep. There was nothing but background noise on 14,300 Mhz -- the Intercontinental Assistance and Traffic Net (IATN) until the Rev John Henault, HH6JH, made contact late Wednesday morning. He said that he was safe, but had no power and no phone service. He was operating on battery power and hoping to get a generator running later in the day so he could report on conditions.

It's been reported that the UN peacekeeping force headquarters building has collapsed and may have killed everyone inside including the UN envoy. About 150 U.N. staff members remain unaccounted for and 22 are confirmed dead.

It may be a while before any final death toll can be determined. In a country of such massive poverty people will continue to succumb to disease, starvation and dehydration, but it will, no doubt be a very large number. France has airplanes on the way and the US has arrived and secured the airport so that emergency aid can land safely. President Obama has pledged $100 million in relief and has assured what remains of the Haitian people that they will not be forgotten. The Red Cross is actively soliciting funds with telethons and operators are standing by as you read this.

Rush Limbaugh wasted no time weighing in on the suffering of millions, on the slow, sordid, lonely deaths of countless children, on the agony of those crushed by fallen buildings:
"This will play right into Obama's hands. He's humanitarian, compassionate. They'll use this to burnish their, shall we say, "credibility" with the black community--in the both light-skinned and dark-skinned black community in this country. It's made-to-order for them. That's why he couldn't wait to get out there, could not wait to get out there."

Yes, Rush is a heavyweight in more than one way. Limbaugh, who lives in barely imaginable luxury simply doesn't want another damned thing done for those ungrateful "light-skinned and dark-skinned" people, dying of thirst, hunger and disease. As to private donations to the Red Cross? Forget it!
"we've already donated to Haiti--it's called the U.S. income tax."

Of course Rush cares about some people, particularly when he can use their deaths to defame anything he defines as liberal: things other people call decency or charity, or humanity, or compassion. We're supposed to be outraged in perpetuity at the death of any American citizen at the hands of Muslims - White citizens preferred of course, but Rush doesn't give a damn or a dollar for anyone else.

Remember that the next time you listen to him, the next time you think it's so cute how he lampoons his shoddy straw men. Remember the next time you patronize his sponsors. This is the man who looks into the eyes of a bereaved mother, a dying child and says "screw you and screw anyone who gives a damn."

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Ruminations on a cold morning

App - app app app - app app! No, it's not the AFLAC duck, or a farmyard full of turkeys a week before Thanksgiving. It's not your neighbor's nasty little Lhasa Apso, it's the sound of consumers quacking away in consumer-speak in the American night. The malls are full of it, the AT&T and Verizon stores should hand out earplugs because of it --APP APP APP! Getcher apps here -- apps! Apps, apps.

"To most people, an "app" is something you download on your smartphone to help you do a specific task."

says this morning. I guess most people now means airheaded and hysterically eager to buy consumers between the ages of 13 and 24. Those are the people most retailers are interested in and the most likely to speak the language of consumerism, invented to make it difficult to speak without advertising a product or concept thereby.

So what happens when you want to apply for something? Do you app on some sunscreen at the beach? So what ever happened to "application" in the sense of software designed to perform some function? I guess it got teenagerized into a form more easily entered on a telephone keypad derived from the dial phones that began to go out of fashion around 1960. Most people indeed. So I guess for the newspeak speaker it's now silly to talk of developing computer applications and ridiculous all the more if we shorten it to "app." To me it's all something that springs most rhymingly to mind.

Yeah, yeah, it's more "evolution" only it's not - it's intelligent design because language now is a consumer product which changes to suit corporate sales, not our communications needs. That's why we have "realtor" for real estate broker, why they sell "homes" and not houses or apartments, why we have "mobile estates" rather than trailers and why health is now "wellness." It's why we have pre-owned cars on the used car lots, patriot acts and worse.

Of course it's not all bad. We now have "tweet" which is easier to type than "mind-numbing and narcissistic banality" although "blog" works almost as well there; which brings me to the point at which I'd better rest my case.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Cry havoc -- please!

Adis Medunjanin and Zarein Ahmedzay were arrested very early this morning in New York as part of an investigation into a foiled plot to explode a bomb on the 8th anniversary of 9/11/2001. Najibullah Zazi and two other men are already in custody on charges related to this attempt. The evidence against the men seems substantial and we can expect that he won't be the only one to spend the rest of his life in prison.

Of course this is an outrage. If we had a real Republican he-man in office we wouldn't be calling this a foiled plot or talking about trials and convictions, we'd be screaming Terrorist attack - terrorist attack and the cruise missiles would already be on course for somewhere.

So, I'm sure it won't be long before Snarlin' Dick is back on TV explaining to us that our educated and therefore unmanly President is pretending, by not running naked through the streets screaming TERRORIST ATTACK, that "we are not at war." Of course it takes considerable screaming and snarling to keep the discussion away from what a real war really is -- especially one in which victory is nearly impossible to define much less than to achieve.

Like our valiant war on poverty, war on drugs, war on crime and war on pornography, this one resembles a struggle against human nature; that nature including religion, nationalism and the tendency to hate people we see as exploiting and manipulating us. Fail to make that all change and you fail to win. In saner times and amongst saner people the eternal struggle against crime has usually been seen as the job of law enforcement and indeed this failed plot was foiled by good police work and a little luck. To men like Cheney, the danger in foiling plots and prosecuting the criminals who attempt to carry them out is precisely that we have a harder time crying war and without a war, we have to conduct ourselves more in accordance with the law and indeed with reasonableness and sanity.

That the terrorist acts carried out in Oklahoma City and at the World Trade Center resulted in the perpetrators being caught, imprisoned and even executed will remain a thorn in the paws of people like Cheney for whom the system needs to be shown as not working when it's under a Democratic administration and working well when under a Republican. So what if it results in hundreds of thousands of innocent casualties, the destruction of countries, the exile of its citizens and of course, the creation of vastly increased anti-American hatred. In this respect, Cheney's objectives, being aided by every attack and thwarted by every foiled attack or captured terrorist, are often congruent with the objectives of al Qaeda and similar groups. In other words, America's success -- Obama's success and Clinton's successes in finding and capturing terrorists hurts Cheney and Associates; hurts their chances of defaming the Democrats, returning the berserkers to power and keeping those huge Halliburton checks rolling in.

If you're following this line of reasoning, you won't be surprised that I'm concluding that Snarlin' Dick wants more than anything to keep us all crying "terrorist attack" and to keep them coming. By the way, isn't being on the side of terrorists treason?

Something in the water

New York City water tastes like turpentine
Lord, Lord
And I ain't gonna drink it any more

-from an old blues song-

There must be something in the water if former New York Mayor Ed Koch is insisting that "hundreds of millions" of Muslims are terrorists, but that we're all too afraid to mention it for fear of offending. I don't think it's turpentine.

He didn't give Foxman Neil Cavuto any source for this magic number yesterday or for any other part of his assertion or did he attempt to explain why anyone would feel we're afraid to offend countries we're bombing, maintaining sanctions on, or already occupying. Is it true what they say about New Yorkers if not blowing someone to bits is considered timidity or perhaps an excess of politeness?

And then there's Rudy "9/11" Giuliani who announced to ABC's George Stephanopoulos today that there were no domestic terrorist attacks during George W. Bush's watch.
" . . . we had no domestic attacks under Bush; we had one under Obama."
There must be a lot of something in the water. Between 9/11 and the Anthrax bio-attack, there were over 3000 victims of domestic terrorism. To think there were people who wanted to elect this putz president!

The real agenda of course, is to find fault with the president for not running down the street screaming "terror - terror" which the victims of Republimentia feel is the best way to deal with an unsuccessful suicide bombing. He needs to be more theatrical, to talk more of fear than of courage, to scream and yell and look for bogey men rather than calmly to get on with the business of improving our defenses. Sadly it's not just ex-mayors of New York drinking from this well. They're hardly alone in their hatred of Democrats of color and they're hardly alone in their desire to make the government so dysfunctional that they can slither back into control amidst the chaos. There are millions of them, you know.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Unholy and Anti-American Trifecta

The latest proof that "Obama is tearing apart the fabric of America" as Sean "Insanity" Hannity recently observed, hit my in-box with a time stamp only minutes ahead of Urban Legends refutation of the e-mail claiming that our president was the first to hit the "unholy and Anti-American Trifecta" by failing to show up at the Army Navy game, not attend any Christmas religious observance, and stay on vacation following a terrorist attack.

He must be doing rather well if this is the smelliest crock they can come up with -- and of course and as usual, it is indeed a crock. George W. Bush, the president most often described during his term as the right hand of Jesus missed 5 out of 8 of them. Woodrow Wilson didn't attend a Christmas church service in 1914, nor did Herbert Hoover in 1929, nor Lyndon Johnson in 1968. It would take some research, but I'm willing to bet this isn't unique or uncommon. Presidents haven't always been expected to be examples of public religiosity after all and Christmas was opulently celebrated at the White House this year, even if Fox took pains not to notice.

As to staying on vacation after a failed terrorist attack in which nobody but the attacker was hurt, the claim would require that he had ignored it and had spent the day on the beach, which of course isn't true. The President travels with his flying White House and a large staff, briefings were held, he ordered beefed up security and passenger screenings and ordered a review of the terrorist watch list and made statements to the public.

This being the 21st century, being in Honolulu or being in Washington DC has little bearing on the effectiveness of the president. Certainly jumping on AF 1 and heading as fast and far away from DC, as the previous president did after an actual and successful attack doesn't make the current President look all that bad, nor does the fact that the Republican broke all records for vacation time.

Please do remember, far milder criticism of Bush resulted in cries of treason from the same people who insist that the country is being destroyed and make up lies to prove it. He's here, he's President, he's black. Get the hell over it and stop trying to sabotage my country.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

On a clear day

"I don’t see a clear angle on the anus." Said Adam's Apple Ann Coulter to Bill O'Reilly last night.
Never mind Ann, I think we have a very good angle on an anus right here.

Objecting to the idea of Body scanners at airports, Ann insisted they wouldn't be effective because you can't look up people's rectums or under their foreskins, so those would be a great place to hide bombs. Of course Muslims circumcise their sons but that's OK, nobody expects sanity from Ann and her fans wouldn't know sanity if they saw it but they sure seem familiar with looking at assholes in the mirror.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Imagine billions and billions and billions of blogs.

I hate the word "blog" the way I hate most cutesy, childish terms like "cookie" that have somehow infiltrated the world of computers. At least the attempt to make us all say 'puter died the miserable death it deserved, but we're stuck with blog. It's even lost the vestigial apostrophe it sometimes used to have when 'blog was a cute adolescent bit of geeky hipness. Peter Merholz, in fact is given credit for coining 'blog' on his Petermemes personal website in the Oxford Dictionary. But that was ten years ago - back in ancient times only very uncool people remember, and when cell phones were larger and were for making phone calls, 'text' was a noun and not everyone had a weblog.

Of course without Brad Graham complaining in jest about that annoying word on his blog Bradlands back in 1999, we wouldn't have the word 'blogosphere.'

Where are we headed? Will personal publishing soon be described as being "as simple as falling off a blog"? Shall we see ultra-conservative gays start weblogs and dub themselves Blog Cabin Republicans? Track the tides with an Ebb Blog? Is blog- (or -blog) poised to become the prefix/suffix of the next century? Will we soon suffer from (and tire of) blogorreah? Despite its whimsical provenance, it's an awkward, homely little word.

Goodbye, cyberspace! Hello, blogiverse! Blogosphere? Blogmos? (Carl Sagan: "Imagine billions and billions and billions of blogs.")

Graham was found dead yesterday in his St. Louis home of "natural causes." Goodbye Brad -- we'll always have blogosphere.

Monday, January 04, 2010

What a field day for the heat

Tourism is big business in Florida and in these weak-dollar days, much of it is from abroad. Of course it's not what it used to be and one of the reasons I've heard from regular visitors from Europe is the hassle of entry. Fingerprinting, revealing financial records, confiscation of computers are amongst the stories I hear and I've met people who have their Florida Winter houses and condos up for sale, because they're tired of being treated as insurgents.

Arriving on the Queen Mary in Queens' Grill class, you may feel in the lap of luxury, but one foot in the good old USA and you may feel that bad old cold war Soviet bloc vibe. It's going to get worse and yes, it's because the terrorists have won again without having to blow up anything.

General Thomas McInerney USAF (Ret.) said on Fox this weekend that we should strip search Muslim men entering the US and he may get his wish.
"every individual flying into the US from anywhere in the world traveling from or through nations that are state sponsors of terrorism or other countries of interest will be required to go through enhanced screening."
says the TSA. All passengers flying into the United States from abroad will be subject to random screening. Starting today, there will be a lot of patting down of brown behinds because although there are only four countries listed as "State Sponsors of Terrorism:" Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria, an unnamed Administration official told Politico today that passengers from other countries like Nigeria, Pakistan and Yemen will be searched as well. Think that's going to stop them? I don't either. One would-be attacker with a Canadian or UK passport will force us to put everyone up against he wall - and what about an American citizen with a surname like Jones -- or McVeigh? Think the TSA is relieved we won't be hosting the Olympics in Chicago? Me too.

Our policy of acting incrementally and only in response to specific provocation makes it all too easy and particularly when no plot need actually succeed in doing anything but costing us more and making us panic. Why not simply recruit some passionate fool and give him a defective device when there's less chance of retaliation and it still hurts us so much? Face it, terror is the objective of terrorism and they just won again.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Tiger Tiger

Tiger Tiger sinning bright
Crashed his SUV one night

Brit Hume here for the amazing Redeem-O-Matic Christian sinwashing system. That's right folks, no accountability, no bitchy paybacks, no hard work, no punishment, no silly pagan begging for rice in uncomfortable robes! This miracle device lets you feel like you're off the hook instantly and it won't cost you a dime. Come to Jesus now ( 'cause you know we can't do this all day) and we'll double the offer -- you get 14 adulteries washed for one dunk.

Fox hound Hume tells nominally Buddhist Tiger Woods and us that Buddhism is a second rate religion because you don't get the same quick-kick forgiven feeling you get with Christianity. No, really.
'Tiger turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world."
said Hume to Chris Wallace on Fox this morning. Well I don't know about old Prune Face, but I would prefer my "great example" to spend more than a Sunday morning's glossolalia session and perhaps seek to make amends to his wife and children -- perhaps even to any of those women he may have deluded into thinking their relationships were going anywhere before punching the reset button on his moral character.

Of course the selling of Christianity like some labor saving kitchen device or laundry product should offend Christians and I'm sure it does, hell, I feel offended for them, but that's Fox, and that's Hume. Join our tribe, buy our stories, splash on some anger sauce and religious whitewash and you'll feel better about your sorry self right away. You getting this camera guy?

Saturday, January 02, 2010

The Irish Inquisition

I watched Julia Sweeney in Letting Go of God on Showtime the other night. Seeing how her thought processes led her at first to reject Biblical literalism and finally Theism and religion in general, put a big smile on my face since it mirrored my own in so much detail. For some reason it seems like the large majority of atheists I know come either from Roman Catholic or Jewish backgrounds but I won't speculate here about the reasons.

There is evidence that religiosity in the US is on the decline, with fewer people seeing religion as a solely positive influence and more feeling that religious teachings are out of date, but of course the opposition makes a lot of noise and has a lot of political power. I don't know whether any of the above applies in heavily Catholic Ireland, but the anti-blasphemy law which went into effect yesterday is sure to be challenged and the high profile of some of the challengers is sure to cause considerable embarrassment to those who have to enforce it. Whether Catholics in Ireland are as likely to let go of God as they are elsewhere, those in Ireland who have and those of other traditions are going to have a field day.

The Irish constitution extends religious freedom only to Christians and that may be a surprise to many who see Europe in general as moving away from belief and from Church domination. It's worthy of curiosity to see whether the ordinary practice of other religious traditions will constitute blasphemy as well. Will it be blasphemous to say that Jesus was not the actual son of God but permissible to accuse Jews of murdering him and of eating Christian babies? I guess we'll see. Will showing Letting go of God be punishable? Will it be illegal to publish Nietzsche, or Dawkins? Michael Nugent, chairman of Atheist Ireland calls this idea
"dangerous because it incentives [sic] religious outrage, and because Islamic states led by Pakistan are already using the wording of this Irish law to promote new blasphemy laws at UN level."
Dangerous indeed and so diametrically opposed to American views of religion -- at least as reflected by those who wrote the Constitution -- that an attempt to import it to the US wouldn't be surprising. I remember former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani's attempt to close the Brooklyn Museum because of a painting he considered blasphemous. ( it wasn't) Many people still wish ihe could have been successful.

The US constitution certainly does not grant special rights to Christians or to any other religious groups and that fact seems to be a massive thorn in the side of the religious right; a thorn they'd love to remove and I will be amazed if some Republican doesn't attempt to introduce something similar by next Christmas. The test of the Irish law is in whether it outrages a large number of people and if we had such a law within the viewership of Fox, we can be sure that outrage would flow forth like a mighty flood of medieval values upon the land and our courts would grind to a halt whild civilization is one again snatched from the jaws of victory.