Current events are below the scam alert.
ongoing scam alert
Police are putting together a case.
(508) 799-8606.

15 Oct 2010
We were asked by a neighbor a number of times over the years to have his company repair our driveway. Finally, this August, I said yes to a patch job, because it's getting to be a problem. This was going to be an under-the-table side job, with materials "left over" from a commercial job. He "just needed some cash to quickly cover a family situation." In a few days this escalated to a cheap full job, with more cash up front. Six weeks later, nothing has been done.
I should have checked before giving him anything, of course - turns out the company has a bad reputation, and paving contractors are exempt from Mass. consumer protection laws! My calls have been answered with excuses and promises of "in a couple of days."
Pusateri douche
Bill Pusateri
BKJ Paving  BBB report
cell 774-242-5155 ["temporarily out of service" since August at least]
A&M Asphalt
home 508-963-5688
2 Ashburnham rd, Worcester, MA 01605

18 Nov 2010
 I put a sign on the front lawn yesterday, with the text: "driveway not done by Bill Pusateri or BKJ Paving."
A neighbor stopped by to say she's been waiting since July for Pusateri to do promised work, and an email from another person saying he's been cheated, too, and contemplating small-claims court.
20 Nov 2010
My sign disappeared during the day. Time to make at least 2 more.
21 Nov 2010
New sign, same text.
22 Nov 2010
Another neighbor came by to say Pusateri did an incomplete, awful, sloppy job on 2 driveways for him, difficult to repair. He thinks a sign of his own might be a good idea. Everyone has similar tales of his patter and exuses.
BKJ owner (he said) came by, seeming upset with Pusateri for putting his business in a bad light. Said he'd be back quickly. More lies.
23 Nov 2010
Sign #2 vanished, mid-day again. I don't wonder who.
It costs $40 to file a small-claims case for under $500.
27 Nov 2010
Sign #3: Pusateri Paving Fraud
It gets knocked down, but hasn't gone missing yet. But I got some phone blah, blah, blah from Pusateri.
1 Dec 2010
Sign vanished, mid-morning. Bill's scams are now featured on Facebook, too.
4 Dec 2010
A neighbor stopped by to say the police are looking into his activities. Left a message with the detective.
7 Dec 2010
Received a phone call from another scammed person. She is looking into a petition/letter to the Attorney General to get the law changed, so such assholes are not exempt from contracting laws.
Put up sign #4. It didn't last to next morning. I'm getting rid of lots of old panels in my cellar this way.
8 Dec 2010.
Sign #5. Vanished night of 12 Dec.
Police are putting together a case.
13 Dec 2010
Sign #6. Now I number them. Heard a story of another neighbor being scammed $1000, and Pusateri being so numb that he came around again with a new $500 offer.

16 Dec 2010 Telegram Scam suspect charged with assault, larceny
WORCESTER —  An Ashburnham Road man was arrested yesterday after police said he used a paving scam to defraud a city resident, and then assaulted the resident when he asked for his money back.
    William Pusateri, 43, of 2 Ashburnham Road, was charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, larceny of more than $250; and intimidation of a witness. He is being held on $2,540 cash bail and will be arraigned today in Central District Court, police said. [continues]

co-opted pagan rituals
axial tilt is the readon for
                                  the deason
19 Dec 2010
Biden parrots Rethuglican talking points about Assange in interview. Who is the terrorist?

Two of the newspapers I was reading online, The Worcester Telegram ans Cape Cod Times, have gone to paid view. Their right, of course, but I wonder how that business model affects their page views and bottom line. Well, the whole industry wonders. It did not work for the NYT op-ed section a year or 2 ago. We stopped subscribing to the Telegram when it offered a cheap rate but didn't honor it, and it's phone reps wouldn't look into it. (And it's a right-wing rag with little content, but 3 readable columnists.) So, for now, I still read the Telegram headlines, and occasionally read an article, and I just don't read CCT at all. I can probably read them thru library web sites, but haven't bothered, yet.
                                  billboard, Blu Oakland
censored mural

Ben Stein must have absolutely amazing work habits. He insisted that "the people who have been laid off and cannot find work are generally people with poor work habits and poor personalities."

16 Dec 2010 Larry Flynt is more of a patriot that any Faux clown or GOP whore. Bradley Manning, apparently, and Julian Assange, definitely, are doing more for human rights than any Rethuglican politician or  American media network. And more than most (or all) Democratic politicians, too.
Fox makes you stupiderExtended exposure to Fox News makes voters stupid, university study finds
By Stephen C. Webster
The troublesome record of spin by conservative television station Fox News has long been a cause for concern to many Americans, who frequently allege that the nation's most viewed "news" network has the effect of dumbing down voters.
Turns out, they were right.
A University of Maryland study (PDF) published earlier this month found that people in the survey who had the most exposure to Fox News were more likely to believe falsehoods and rumors about national and world affairs when compared to those who paid attention to other news outlets.
In a summary carried by Alternet, the following falsehoods were most relayed by Fox News viewers:

    91 percent believed the stimulus legislation lost jobs;

   72 percent believed the health reform law will increase the deficit;

    72 percent believed the economy is getting worse;

    60 percent believed climate change is not occurring;

    49 percent believed income taxes have gone up;

    63 percent believed the stimulus legislation did not include any tax cuts;

    56 percent believed Obama initiated the GM/Chrysler bailout;

    38 percent believed that most Republicans opposed TARP;

    63 percent believed Obama was not born in the U.S. (or that it is unclear).

The poll's findings seem to sync with those of an NBC News survey (PDF) taken during the height of America's health care reform debate, where Fox News viewers were found to be most likely to have believed wildly inaccurate interpretations of the legislation. [continues]
Chris Hayes, on the tax cut deal: "It's the standard bribery model of legislating that has come to characterize Washington in the era of oligarchy: if you want to put food on the table of the unemployed, you must lavishly wine and dine the CEOs and bankers who laid them off."
"If the Commerce Clause can force you to buy insurance, what can't the government force?" Like force emergency rooms to take your uninsured ass and make me pay for it? You don't seem to have a problem with that." Fark headline

11 Dec 2010  more Rethuglican pandering
NYT editorial: Just eight months after the nation was shocked by the death of 29 coal miners in the Upper Big Branch explosion in West Virginia, Republicans have once again pandered to industry and blocked passage of an urgently needed mine safety reform.
    In April’s grief — and the anger over revelations of the mine owner’s shoddy safety record — there were grand bipartisan vows to take action. A very worthy safety measure in the House drew majority support from Democrats but fell short of the two-thirds needed under expedited rules in the lame-duck session.
    Republicans predictably shielded mine owners, citing warnings from the National Association of Manufacturers that the reform might drive up coal prices by expanding government authority and exposing mining companies to greater criminal penalties and damage litigation. That is exactly what this perilously dangerous industry needs. Too many lives have already been lost for the sake of cheap coal.
    The failure was even more egregious in the Senate, where strong reform proposals never saw the heat of debate as the Republican minority wielded its brute dogma of filibustering.
chthulhu santa
Cthulhu’s Hungry

to the tune of “Jesus Loves Me”

Cthulhu’s hungry, this I know
Necronomicon says so
When he comes, we won’t live long
We are weak, but he is strong

Yes, Cthulhu’s hungry
Yes, Cthulhu’s hungry
Yes, Cthulhu’s hungry
Necronomicon says so

chthulhu santa
10 Dec 201 Pander Bear supports Obama's tax cave-in. No surprise there.

9 Dec 2010: Obama Agrees to Extend Republicans' Custody of His Balls, by Andy Borowitz
WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report) -- In an effort to end what he called "the bickering and rancor in Washington," President Barack Obama agreed today to extend Republicans' custody of his balls for an additional two years. ...

9 Dec 2010, Loyalists Fume Over Tax Betrayal - Hardly the Unkindest Bush III Cut of All, by Robert Becker
Encircled by irate liberals, the president has done it now -- confirmed his domestic legacy by re-entrenching into the permanent status quo the “Bush-Obama” tax cuts. If passed, no one in two years, especially the tax-hating House majority, will touch this sacred cow. Though heavily telegraphed, this vaunted sabotage shocked those still clinging to Obama dreams of progressive change, audacity, or hope.
Curiously, and frankly, this pact to sustain low taxes on the rich, however noxious, is a second-order symbolic Armageddon moment. ...

10 Dec 2010, Chris Hayes at DailyKos
The Republicans have spent two years—an entire election cycle and postelection victory lap—repeating with tourettic persistence dire warnings about the existential threat posed by large deficits and mounting government debt.
And yet, amazingly, these same Republicans (and a few conservative Democrats), who love to offer lectures about the necessity of shared sacrifice, also spent the week demanding that all the Bush tax cuts be made permanent, a policy that would increase the debt over the next ten years by an astounding $3.3 trillion.

war criminal Cheney9  Dec 2010    Halliburton may pay $500 million to keep Cheney out of prison: report at Raw Story by Daniel Tencer
Oilfield services company Halliburton is in negotiations with the Nigerian government to keep its former CEO, Dick Cheney, out of prison, according to a news report.
Sources inside Nigeria's Economic and Financial Crimes Commission told GlobalPost this week that a settlement keeping the charges against Cheney out of court could cost as much as $500 million.
Wonder what the stockholders think.
{Update: Halliburton is paying $250 million to Nigeria to drop charges.]

Holy Joe wants to prosecute the New York Times, etc, for printing some of the Wikileaks info. So the rest of the world can easily see what mildly embarrassing things the US has been up to, but we can't? What a teabagger.

F-35The US is abandoning efforts to persuade Israel to renew a freeze on settlement-building as part of efforts to revive Middle East peace talks.
This is a followup to this horrifying example of turpitude, from 15 Nov 2010, "U.S. offers Israel warplanes in return for new settlement freeze
Netanyahu presents security cabinet with Clinton's incentive of 20 F-35 fighter planes and security guarantees in exchange for 90-day West Bank building moratorium." Not all the fanatics are on one side.
    F-35 photo from DefenseIndustryDaily

Avro VulcanThings that fly and stuff
Avro Vulcan


7 Dec 2010 quoted in NYT
    "It's all about you, using your own mind, without any method or schema, to restore order from chaos. And once you have, you can sit back and say, 'Hey, the rest of my life may be a disaster, but at least I have a solution.'"  Marcel Danesi, a professor of anthropology at the University of Toronto and the author of "The Puzzle Instinct: The Meaning of Puzzles in Human Life."
The Many Faces of Hunger, by nonny mouse
A touching personal tale of growing up very poor in America.
6 Dec 2010
Headline: GOP leader Mitch McConnell calls WikiLeaks founder ‘a high-tech terrorist’
[update, 19 Dec 2010: Biden parrots the terrorist Senator.]
McConnell, those of us in the real world call you a rightwing terrorist, denouncing deficit spending as you demand biilions of dollars for your masters but refuse to help those they have thrown out of work.
Charles M. Blow and Rackjite:
She Who Must Not Be Named, by Charles M. Blow

elephant jokeThis is it. This is the last time I’m going to write the name Sarah Palin until she does something truly newsworthy, like declare herself a candidate for the presidency. Until then, I will no longer take part in the left’s obsessive-compulsive fascination with her, which is both unhealthy and counterproductive.
She’s the Zsa Zsa Gabor of American politics. She once did something noteworthy, but she’s now just famous for being famous.
Yet the left continues to elevate her every utterance so that they can mock and deride her. The problem is that this strategy continues to backfire. The more the left tries to paint her as one of the “Mean Girls,” the more the right sees her as “Erin Brockovich.” [Who FOUGHT the corporations, not spread her legs for them.] The never-ending attempts to tear her down only build her up. She’s like the ominous blob in the horror films: the more you shoot at it, the bigger and stronger it becomes.
Yes, she’s about as sharp as a wet balloon, but we already know that.
Rackjite comment:
Of course Mr. Blow is right, but who can really help themselves with such a treasure trove of nasty ignorance? Not me for one!
What Charles misses in this is that it doesn't matter what anyone has to say about Sarah Palin. For the single largest  voting block in America, Evangelical Hillbillies are going to adore her and vote for her no matter what. She represents that dim bulb mentality they can cling to as we have seen with Dan Quayle, George W. Bush, Tammy Fae Bakker, Steve King, Glenn Beck and Joe the Plumber.
4 Dec 2010 WIkileaks
Comments seen:
    So it turns out Julian Assange's warrant for "sexual assault" is actually for "consensual sex without a condom". In other news, the U.S. government can't even orchestrate a decent smear job anymore
color sq
    Conservitards until 2 weeks ago: "Government is bad! They're ineffectual and corrupt! Free speech!"
    Conservitards now: "Assange criticized the US government? KILL HIM!"
        Of course, the Democrats are saying mostly the same thing.

2 Dec 2010
Note sent to Sen. Kerry:
  Looks like your colleauges, and probably you, are about to cave in on extending the tax cuts for billionaires, after you just refused to extend unemployment benefits.
I've been your tepid supporter in the past, based only on those running against you, but if this constant retreat continues I see no point in continuing to vote Democratic, and for you in particular. Most of you seem to just be the limp wing of the Republican national destruction machine.
1 Dec 2010
    The first teabgger senator in action: 2 million face bleak holidays after Scott Brown blocks jobless benefits
    Billions for the rich, but zip for people who (want to) work.
    Some attitudes have been with us a long time: Teabagger in 1860

There was a major bust of Russian spammers a few weeks ago. My spam blocking report has gone from an average of about 100/day to about 5! (But 2 or 3 per day are sneaking through.)

Church talent night - some good, some not. I haven't heard Captain Beefheart since college, and it's still awful.

creation science30 Nov 2010
    Irreducible Incoherence and Intelligent Design: A Look into the Conceptual Toolbox of a Pseudoscience. Maarten Boudry, Stefaan Blancke, and Johan Braeckman. Quarterly Review of Biology 85 (4), 2010 link

21 Nov 2010
via Daily Kos
EJ Dionne: (Washington Post)
Ronald Reagan (bless his sense of humor) loved to say that the problem with his administration was that the right hand didn't know what the far right hand was doing.
So on the one hand, we have to cut, cut, cut because fiscal catastrophe is looming. On the other, we have to make the problem worse by shoveling more money to the rich because ... taking care of those with tidy incomes is contemporary conservatism's highest purpose.

Chart of increasing income disparity since 1917.
                                    disparity Slate
19 Nov 2010
There is an article in Commonplace about Anthony Comstock (1844-1915), the evil censor. I didn't know his base was the the YMCA! There another good article there looking at the parallels between Mark Twain and Wong Chin Foo, A Connecticut Yankee in the Court of Wu Chih Tien.

truck balls18 Nov 2010 headline: Carville: If Hillary Gave Obama One Of Her Balls, 'He'd Have Two'
    Can't disagree with that. Krugman notes how he repeats the right-wing mythology of St. Ronnie, etc., too.
Follow-up, 9 Dec 2010: Obama Agrees to Extend Republicans' Custody of His Balls, by Andy Borowitz
WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report) -- In an effort to end what he called "the bickering and rancor in Washington," President Barack Obama agreed today to extend Republicans' custody of his balls for an additional two years. ...

9 Dec 2010, Loyalists Fume Over Tax Betrayal - Hardly the Unkindest Bush III Cut of All, by Robert Becker
Encircled by irate liberals, the president has done it now -- confirmed his domestic legacy by re-entrenching into the permanent status quo the “Bush-Obama” tax cuts. If passed, no one in two years, especially the tax-hating House majority, will touch this sacred cow. Though heavily telegraphed, this vaunted sabotage shocked those still clinging to Obama dreams of progressive change, audacity, or hope.
Curiously, and frankly, this pact to sustain low taxes on the rich, however noxious, is a second-order symbolic Armageddon moment. ...

8 Nov 2010, Kristof at NYT
C.E.O.’s of the largest American companies earned an average of 42 times as much as the average worker in 1980, but 531 times as much in 2001. Perhaps the most astounding statistic is this: From 1980 to 2005, more than four-fifths of the total increase in American incomes went to the richest 1 percent.
half glass

    The country, or at least the media, are in an uproar about the newly intrusive body scans at airports. But what do expect when you invade countries for no good reason, and hype anti-terror 'security' for years, and fawn over a Supreme Court justice who thinks the right to privacy has no Constitutional basis, that it is a "total absurdity"?
color sq
3 Nov 2010 The turtle cometh, by PZ Myers at Pharyngula
It's not surprising that Democrats lost ground. The economy sucks, which means many people are flailing about for change, and we have to admit it: the Democrats are uninspiring, boring, and unfocused. They can't deliver a strong message that makes a case for why we should continue to vote for them, and I know in my case that when I went into the election booth, I was simply making an anti-Rethuglican vote; with the exception of a few local candidates, I was not excited about any of the Democrats here.
What really makes me despair, though, is that I can guess exactly how the Democrats will respond to this drubbing. Instead of refocusing on the liberal and progressive values that ought to be their main message, they're going to turtle up. They do it every time. Instead of trying to distinguish themselves from the loonies on the right, they'll all move closer to what they'll call "moderate", but is actually more of a conservative right-wing position. And the next election will be even worse.
Unless somebody on our side wakes up and realizes that they're in a fight, and that conciliatory measures are not called for. I'm looking at you, Obama. But somehow, I don't think he's the right man for the job.
The majority party usually loses seats at the mid-term election. The shift this time was large but not extraordinary. Some of the more insane Rethuglicans lost their races. This seemed to be overlooked by essentially all the media and commntators, looking for a supposed message from the teabaggers. (Their message is "I want it all, I don't want to share, and I refuse to pay for it.)
As for the Republicans — how can one regard seriously a frightened, greedy, nostalgic huddle of tradesmen and lucky idlers who shut their eyes to history and science, steel their emotions against decent human sympathy, cling to sordid and provincial ideals exalting sheer acquisitiveness and condoning artificial hardship for the non-materially-shrewd, dwell smugly and sentimentally in a distorted dream-cosmos of outmoded phrases and principles and attitudes based on the bygone agricultural-handicraft world, and revel in (consciously or unconsciously) mendacious assumptions (such as the notion that real liberty is synonymous with the single detail of unrestricted economic license or that a rational planning of resource-distribution would contravene some vague and mystical 'American heritage'...) utterly contrary to fact and without the slightest foundation in human experience? Intellectually, the Republican idea deserves the tolerance and respect one gives to the dead. -- HP Lovecraft

A map of college-educated adults shows a similarity to red-blue voting patterns. So do maps of obesity, Union-Confederacy states and urban-rural voting. Color me elitist.
NEA education map

email @ scribe28 Oct 2010 The very bright teenager asks, did I have an email address while an undergrad!

No, it was long before email was invented.


northern harrier
northern harrier (I think), Fort Hill, Eastham, 24 Oct 2010
20 Oct 2010 Palin, Miller and their anti-American pals

    Karl Denninger, financial blogger and one of the originators of the Tea Party "movement," says the movement has been hijacked by the very people it was protesting, and is now obsessed with god, gays and guns. These include "Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Bob Barr, and douchebag groups such as the 'Tea Party Patriots.'"
    Denninger writes: "Tea Party my ass. This was nothing other than the Republican Party stealing the anger of a population that was fed up with the Republican Party's own theft of their tax money at gunpoint to bail out the robbers of Wall Street and fraudulently redirecting it back toward electing the very people who stole all the ****ing money!"
And Karl Rove lies (of course) about the origins and timing of the TeaBaggers, claiming the public was fine with the banker bailout (by Bush) but outraged at Obama's jobs programs.

17 Oct 2010    No way to run a business: includes WorldConnect, a site for posting genealogies. Most of them are recycled junk, not much better than the Mormon dreck, but there are enough good ones to make it one of my most useful sources. My data is posted there, as well as on my own pages. But for the past few days its Search function has been offline, and will be for several weeks, they say! The data is there - you just can't find it. [Followup - the search function was only disabled for a few days.]

We went for a nice, long walk around Buffumville Lake, in Oxford and Charlton, a dam and recreation area operated by the Army Corps of Engineers.
The Trustees of Reservations own many interesting properties
     Shelter Rock, Brookfield
     Doane's Falls, Royalston
Mid-state Trail ... Nice walk from Mt Watatic south to Mt Hunger and back - 4h.
view from Mt Hunger
View north to Mt. Watatic from Mt. Hunger. Conservationists are worried about development and strange old men.

Checking my stats - The popular image ranking changes pretty often, the popular pages less often.
Most popular images:
Diana Riggthe incomparable Diana
never forget 1-31-07
Conan the Barbarian
keep it
(the only figure here I made myself)
raptor jesus teabagger
atheist A we have fossils Glen Beck is
                                        a drug-addled ass-clown
Most popular pages: home
this page
short notes on books read
superstion and reason quotes
Fowle & Fitz 1845 Mass. elementary geography
political quotes
last years' politics, etc
US 1845


A bomb shelter was built on Nantucket for President John F. Kennedy in 1961, disguised by the United States Navy as a "Jet assist takeoff fuel bottle storage area," but was never used.

    cool site; Things that fly and stuff
13 Oct 2010    Ex-top soldier: Iraq war ‘fiasco’ due to Rumsfeld’s lies
    by Daniel Tencer, Raw Story
    The US had no reason to invade Iraq in 2003, and only did so because of "a series of lies" told to the American people by the Bush administration, says Gen. Hugh Shelton, who served for four years as the US's top military officer.
    Shelton, who was the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1997 to 2001, makes the comment in Without Hesitation: The Odyssey of an American Warrior, a soon-to-be-published memoir reviewed at Foreign Policy by Thomas E. Ricks.
    "President Bush and his team got us enmeshed in Iraq based on extraordinarily poor intelligence and a series of lies purporting that we had to protect Americans from Saddam's evil empire because it posed such a threat to our national security," Shelton writes in his memoir.
    According to Ricks, Shelton states that, in order to get the war going, then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld "elbowed aside Gen. Richard Myers and the other members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and also intimidated and flattered Gen. Tommy R. Franks while working directly with him, and so basically went to war without getting the advice of his top military advisors."
    The result, Shelton writes, was a war plan that amounted to a "fiasco."
    Shelton reportedly saves his harshest criticisms for Rumsfeld himself, who he said had "the worst style of leadership I witnessed in 38 years of service."
    Ricks writes:
    After his first meeting with Rumsfeld, Shelton recalls thinking, "We're going to need some heavy-duty cleaning supplies if all we're going to do is waste time having pissing contests like this." When Rumsfeld was proven wrong in a meeting, Shelton says, he wouldn't admit it, but rather would press on and do "his best to stay afloat amid the bullshit he was shoveling out."
"every time someone accuses an atheist of being arrogant — we don't claim to be speaking for a cosmic tyrant who will torture you for eternity if you don't obey us."

Empire apples are wonderful.
I recommend picking them at Tougas Farm, Northboro, Mass.
I like most of their several varieties, but even fresh, Red Delicious apples are awful.
empire apple
From Wikipedia:
The Know-Nothing movement was a nativist American political movement of the 1840s and 1850s. It was empowered by popular fears that the country was being overwhelmed by German and Irish Catholic immigrants, who were often regarded as hostile to Anglo-Saxon values and controlled by the Pope in Rome. Mainly active from 1854 to 1856, it strove to curb immigration and naturalization, though its efforts met with little success. Membership was limited to Protestant males of British lineage over the age of twenty-one. There were few prominent leaders, and the largely middle-class and entirely Protestant membership fragmented over the issue of slavery. Most ended up joining the Republican Party by the time of the 1860 presidential election.

The movement originated in New York in 1843 as the American Republican Party. It spread to other states as the Native American Party and became a national party in 1845. In 1855 it renamed itself the American Party.
The term "Know Nothing" is better remembered than the party itself. In the late 19th century, Democrats would call the Republicans "Know Nothings" in order to secure the votes of Catholics.

The term has become a provocative slur, suggesting that the opponent is both nativist and ignorant. For example, in 2006, an editorial in The Weekly Standard by William Kristol attacked populist Republicans for not recognizing the danger of "turning the GOP into an anti-immigration, Know-Nothing party." The lead editorial of The New York Times for May 20, 2007, on a proposed immigration bill, referred to "this generation's Know-Nothings". An editorial written by Timothy Egan in The New York Times on August 27, 2010, entitled "Building a Nation of Know-Nothings", discussed the widespread belief among Republicans, perpetuated by disreputable media sources, that President Barack Obama is not a legal citizen of the United States and is Muslim.

The platform of the American Party called for, among other things:[citation needed]
Severe limits on immigration, especially from Catholic countries.
Restricting political office to native-born Americans of English and/or Scottish lineage and Protestant persuasion.
Mandating a wait of 21 years before an immigrant could gain citizenship.
Restricting public school teacher positions to Protestants.
Mandating daily Bible readings in public schools.
Restricting the sale of liquor.
Restricting the use of languages other than English.
Considering the Know-Nothings and Tea Crackers - I'm also reminded of Ross Perot's appeal to a certain element. Every Perot bumper sticker I saw was on a pickup, a herd of people who fancied themselves "independent." The Republicans picked up the pieces of the Know-Nothings, marginalized the Perotistas, and mostly control the Teabaggers.

Several partially known American nuclear accidents with weapons and power plants were near disasters, and presumably the tip of the iceberg.

ecard douchebag

pope1854. The Papal Conspiracy Exposed. Rev Edward Beecher. Boston: Stearns & Co.
    A bit of sectarian vitriol, condemning the Romanist system as anti-American, anti-Biblical, bloody, intolerant and totalitarian. Sound familiar? Just the introduction is here. plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose

30 Sep 2010
    "Nothing more symbolizes how the temptations of power can corrupt youthful values and idealism than Secretary Hillary Clinton's invitation to Henry Kissinger and Richard Holbrooke to keynote a major State Department conference on the history of the Indochina war," Fred Branfman wrote on Tuesday, in an article titled "Hillary Clinton and State Dept. to Celebrate War Criminal Henry Kissinger, While the White House Repeats His Deadly Mistakes."
    "As an idealistic college student, Clinton protested Kissinger's mass murder of civilians in Indochina," Branfman continues. "But on Sept. 29 she will introduce Kissinger at the State Department Historian's conference, giving him a platform to continue 40 years of Orwellian deception in which he has sought to blame Congress for the fall of Indochina rather than accepting responsibility for his massive miscalculations and indifference to human suffering."
29 Sep 2010
fat slob on scooterTea & Crackers
How corporate interests and Republican insiders built the Tea Party monster - Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone
At the National Quartet Convention in Louisville, Kentucky:
    "Scanning the thousands of hopped-up faces in the crowd, I am immediately struck by two things. One is that there isn't a single black person here. The other is the truly awesome quantity of medical hardware: Seemingly every third person in the place is sucking oxygen from a tank or propping their giant atrophied glutes on motorized wheelchair-scooters. As Palin launches into her Ronald Reagan impression — "Government's not the solution! Government's the problem!" — the person sitting next to me leans over and explains.
    "The scooters are because of Medicare," he whispers helpfully. "They have these commercials down here: 'You won't even have to pay for your scooter! Medicare will pay!' Practically everyone in Kentucky has one."
    A hall full of elderly white people in Medicare-paid scooters, railing against government spending and imagining themselves revolutionaries as they cheer on the vice-presidential puppet hand-picked by the GOP establishment. If there exists a better snapshot of everything the Tea Party represents, I can't imagine it."
__  _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __

It’s a bright beautiful world to see, but if you would like to experience it as a conservative, put on a welding helmet. -- Rack Jite
__  _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ __

The passion in the [Tea] party is in cultural anxiety. The constitutional and fiscal and social issues are incoherent. You will see various alliances based on this misconception or that fallacy, but essentially you have a bunch of people feeling very insecure and even dislocated by the realities of 21st century America -- most specifically demographic change and economic dislocation. Trying to pull apart the tangled threads of justification and rationalization that each clump of discontent gathers about is a fool's errand. None of it is consistent or considered or rational. The only relevant fact is insecurity. - comment on Kevin Drum's  "Tea Partiers and God", Mother Jones, 21 Sep 2010
Turnidge criminalsTerrorism in America: the Limbaugh effect:
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Fears that newly elected President Barack Obama would curb gun owners' rights served as the catalyst for a father and son to plant a bomb at a bank that killed two police officers and maimed a third, prosecutors said Wednesday.
    Bruce A. Turnidge, 58, and his son, Joshua A. Turnidge, 33, are on trial in Marion County Circuit Court on aggravated murder and other charges that could lead to the death penalty for the Dec. 12, 2008, explosion at the West Coast Bank in Woodburn, Ore.
    The blast killed State Police bomb technician Senior Trooper William Hakim and Woodburn Police Capt. Thomas Tennant. Woodburn Police Chief Russell Scott lost a leg.
On reich wing politics and society:
Everything's so much simpler when you stop worrying about right-on, modern follies like "reason" or "proportion" and just let the contents of your paranoid id run rampage in a reeking spew of ignorant bile. - Flying Rodent
And then there's the Pew Center study just released showing that atheists score much higher on knowledge of religions than American christians, including their knowledge of Christian history and sectarian theology. That's largely because religious affiliation is tribal, not reasoned.

Tim Minchin is a hilarious, foul-mouthed breath of fresh air. Americans & evolution     the pederast with the hat
The second, especially, is NSFW.

I answered a phone push-poll for the tea cracker, Lamb, running against Jim McGovern for Congress. They aren't even pretending to be neutral. My support for McGovern is tepid, based on his weak civil rights record, but he's a paragon by comparison. There's also an even farther right candidate, Stupa, but no Green-Rainbow candidate..

As always, I will write in "abolish the Governor's Council" instead of voting for any candidate.

Kovic24 Sep 2010
WATERBURY — A Connecticut man is under arrest after he allegedly stole an American flag from Waterbury's Town Plot Park and hoisted a stuffed hippopotamus toy in its place. Jeffrey Kovic, 23, of Waterbury is being held with bail set at $100,000 on misdemeanor larceny, criminal mischief and conspiracy charges.City police tell the Republican-American of Waterbury that they're also seeking arrest warrants for several minors suspected of taking part in last week's incident and damaging park bleachers.

22 Sep 2010
Bob Altemeyer's Comments on the Tea Party Movement, and his book, The Authoritarians (PDFs). Fascinating, convincing analysis of the mind set that sees Beck, Limbaugh, Palin, and priests, etc  as truthful leaders.

19 Sep 2010
Scalia assholeBenito Scalia, a Reagan appointee considered to the worst asshat on the bench, told an audience at UC Hastings Law School in San Francisco that the court's recognition of a constitutional right to privacy -- the basis of Roe v. Wade -- is a "total absurdity," ...
Stephen Colbert reports and analyzes this.
17 Sep 2010
Religious fundamentalists alone are a huge popular grouping in the United States, which resembles pre-industrial societies in that regard. This is a culture in which three-fourths of the population believe in religious miracles, half believe in the devil, 83 percent believe that the Bible is the 'actual' or the inspired word of God, 39 percent believe in the Biblical prediction of Armageddon and 'accept it with a certain fatalism,' a mere 9 percent accept Darwinian evolution while 44 percent believe that 'God created man pretty much in his present form at one time within the last 10,000 years,' and so on. The 'God and Country rally' that opened the national Republican convention is one remarkable illustration, which aroused no little amazement in conservative circles in Europe. - Noam Chomsky, "'Mandate for Change,' or Business as Usual," Z Magazine, February 1993, pp. 32-33
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
Compare complex and hard-to-understand scientific reasoning with the powerfully simple “God created it” and it’s really like giving a small kid a choice between “Vitamin enriched protein augmented Spirulina fortified Ginseng extract” and “Chocolate ice-cream” - Krish Ashok
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Rethuglicans suck diseased dick"Even as they hammer Democrats for running up record budget deficits," Lori Montgomery writes in the Washington Post, "Senate Republicans are rolling out a plan to permanently extend an array of expiring tax breaks that would deprive the Treasury of more than $4 trillion over the next decade, nearly doubling projected deficits over that period unless dramatic spending cuts are made." That means the GOP proposal would be four times worse for the deficit than health care reform and the stimulus package combined. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky defended the plan, insisting, "We have a spending problem. We spend too much. We don't have a taxing problem. We don't tax too little." But he hasn't proposed linking the tax cuts to any spending cuts, leading Matt Yglesias to declare, "Conservatives don't care about the deficit." "If conservatives in the Senate wanted to pair tax cuts with spending offsets, they could have written a bill that does that," he says. But they didn't. - Slate

the pigs don't know when they have
                              it goodAs the Washington Post reported, the price tag for the Republican scheme is staggering. Among the highlights of the McConnell bill are preventing a return of upper bracket income tax and capital gains rates to their Clinton-era levels and cutting the estate tax even as the threshold is raised to $5 million per person. Oh, and red ink as far as the eye can see:
    The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office recently forecast that a similar, slightly more expensive package that includes a full repeal of the estate tax would force the nation to borrow an additional $3.9 trillion over the next decade and increase interest payments on the national debt by $950 billion. That's more than four times the projected deficit impact of President Obama's health-care overhaul and stimulus package combined.
    And as the Post's Ezra Klein pointed out, unlike the health care law (which cuts the deficit) and stimulus spending (which is temporary), the Republican bill is forever:
    There is no policy that President Obama has passed or proposed that added as much to the deficit as the Republican Party's $3.9 trillion extension of the Bush tax cuts...Republicans and tea party candidates are both running campaigns based around concern for the deficit. But both, to my knowledge, support the single-largest increase in the deficit that anyone of either party has proposed in memory.
    But making matters worse - much worse - for working Americans is that the Republican plan would also make today's unprecedented income inequality a permanent fixture of the U.S. economy. - Crooks and liars

12 Sep 2020 PZ Myers at Pharyngula on civil rights vs.special rights for the superstitious
... Informing me that the Muslims are genuinely and sincerely and deeply offended is not informative — contrary to the suggestion that I must have an empathy deficit to be unaware of that, I know that and appreciate the fact that their feelings are hurt and they are angry and outraged. My point is that I don't care, and neither should anyone else. The Abrahamic religions are all about fostering that feeling of oppression, even when it isn't there, and hearing yet another one of the more deranged members of the People of the Book whine that we show insufficient respect for their mythology gives me the same feeling of exasperation I felt when my small children would wail about not getting a candy bar in the grocery store. Fine, you can be mad about your deprivation, but that does not obligate me to serve your whims. ...

[On the other hand, the book-burning threats are pourly gasoline on a fire of insanity, which endangers innocent people.]

1gingrich whore2 Sep 2010
"Newt Gingrich may not be a 'birther' -- a believer in the false claim that Barack Obama was born in Kenya -- but he evidently doesn't have a problem pandering to that demographic.
In an interview with the National Review, the former Republican speaker of the House said Obama's perspective on the world is 'factually insane' and the president's actions only make sense when it's understood that he has a "Kenyan, anti-colonial" attitude.
Gingrich, now tipped as a potential presidential candidate in 2012, told NRO that Obama 'worked very hard at being a person who is normal, reasonable, moderate, bipartisan, transparent, accommodating — none of which was true.' " Rawstory continues
The notion that a radical is one who hates his country is naive and usually idiotic. He is, more likely, one who loves his country more than the rest of us, and is thus more disturbed than the rest of us when he sees it debauched. He is not a bad citizen turning to crime; he is a good citizen driven to despair. - HL Mencken

monkfishProvincetown Advocate, 29 apr 1943, p1
"As for Austin Jason, veteran of the Grand Banks, who has wrung more water out of his mittens than most of the others around here have sailed over, he can't see what all this fuss about rationing is all about. Hell's bells, says he, Cape Codders have always been rationed, leastways, until these new-fangled stores came in and the old folks died off. Why, for five and a half months on a Grand Banks trip, nobody beard of fresh meat, much less steak. Fried cod heads for breakfast, cod head chowder for dinner and halibut fins for supper, with maybe a bread pudding with some molasses once in a while and coffee that lasted like it was made from old ground-up shoes. Saturday nights there was a pot of beans with some pork in it, and sometimes the cook served up some "salt horse."
"Nobody worried about it and everybody et and was healthy.—just as healthy as anybody today, maybe more so. We're here, ain't we?"
We had to admit that Austin was very much here as he swung a festoon of monkey-fiah by way of emphasis. "Imagine me eatin' monkey-fish!" says Austin, "But there ain't no call at all for this fuss about rationing. We've always had it," says he with a final swing of the monkey-fish." PA archives

30 Aug 2010 Bush's poodle is a superstitious goober:
“Those who scorn God and those who do violence in God’s name, both represent views of religion. But both offer no hope for faith in the twenty first century.” Tony Blair, speaking at Georgetown University for the Common Word conference of Muslim and Christian scholars.

good riddance:
Blockbuster to Go Bust in September
Unable to compete against Netflix and Redbox, the failing video rental giant is expected to file bankruptcy in September.

Fred Koch fascist assholeKochs Exposed For Insidious Role In Crafting The Modern Right
23 Aug 2010, by Lee Fang
The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer published an explosive investigative piece detailing the role of the Koch family in orchestrating not only the Tea Party movement, but much of the modern right-wing infrastructure. The brothers David and Charles Koch, heirs to the oil and chemical conglomerate Koch Industries, have founded or funded dozens of conservative or libertarian publications, think tanks, and attack groups. Their father, Fred Koch, similarly fueled the paranoid right-wing movements of the fifties and sixties through his financing of the John Birch Society.
QuislingHow Fox Betrayed Petraeus
By Frank Rich
NYT August 21, 2010
...    So virulent is the Islamophobic hysteria of the neocon and Fox News right — abetted by the useful idiocy of the Anti-Defamation League, Harry Reid and other cowed Democrats — that it has also rendered Gen. David Petraeus’s last-ditch counterinsurgency strategy for fighting the war inoperative. How do you win Muslim hearts and minds in Kandahar when you are calling Muslims every filthy name in the book in New York?
    You’d think that American hawks invested in the Afghanistan “surge” would not act against their own professed interests. But they couldn’t stop themselves from placing cynical domestic politics over country. The ginned-up rage over the “ground zero mosque” was not motivated by a serious desire to protect America from the real threat of terrorists lurking at home and abroad — a threat this furor has in all likelihood exacerbated — but by the potential short-term rewards of winning votes by pandering to fear during an election season.

Straight Dope
"I think it's poetically appropriate that Joseph Pujol, better known as Le Petomane (which we may loosely translate as "the fartiste") should emanate from France, without doubt the most pretentious nation on the face of the earth. Le Petomane performed his unique act from 1887 to 1914, and became one of his country's best-known vaudevillians. At one point he was earning 20,000 francs a week, compared to 8,000 for his contemporary Sarah Bernhardt. The true artistic priorities of the French public are thus admirably revealed.
Joseph Pujol, born in Marseilles in 1857, owed his remarkable career to an extraordinary ability to control the muscles of his abdomen and anus. As a youth he discovered he could take in via the rectum as much as two liters of water, which he could then expel at will. Later he found he could do the same thing with air. At first he employed this talent solely for the entertainment of his friends, obviously a very refined and intelligent bunch, but after working quietly for some years as a baker, he was encouraged to give public performances. The first of these, in Marseilles in 1887, met with some initial skepticism, petomanie ("fartistry") being something of a novelty even for the French, but within a few days Le Petomane's winning manner and solidly professional performance had won audiences over. From then on it was one triumph after another."
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All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit. - Thomas Paine,  The Age of Reason
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
treason has a price
"Burn the Confederate Flag Day is a protest against the right's exploitation of racial prejudice for political gain. We urge you to burn the Confederate flag, a long-time symbol of racial hatred, on Sept 12, the date when the racially-divisive Tea Party holds its annual hate fest."
                                    Nathan Forrest
Pharyngula thread on it, from which I learned that there are fanatical liars still defending Confederate treason, and that there are pedantic vexillologists quibbling over the "proper" Confederate flag and how/when to fly the infamous battle rag.
O beautiful, for racist skies
For white supremacy
For Rush and Glenn
Our favorite guys
and NASCAR fantasy!
America! America!
The immigrant expel
Protect us good white Christian folk,
the rest condemn to hell.
swastika confederate flag

Teabaggers: Outraged that Bush bailed out the banks, although they blame Obama for it, but outraged further that the Demoncrats might tax the loot.
A recentTelegram letter tried to defend the teabaggers against the racism charge, in particular, in a muddy way, by invoking the compromise that gave 3/5 of a census person to slaves. Apparently that was his way of saying the Teabaggers are a "deep cave" movement, that he won't disavow the inclusion of pants-wetters, birthers, truthers, Birchers, Republicans, Becktards, Dittoheads, plutocrats' bootlickers, gun droolers, libertarians, authoritarians, racists and bigots, creationists, neo-Confederates and secessionists, dominionists, Klanners, anti-Semites, anti-barcoders (but for identity documents for brown people), xenophobes, gold bugs, climate denialists, torturers, etc. He claims the Tea Party is NOT a party, just a movement, so it doesn't have a platform, just principles, but wouldn't say what those alleged principles are. Looks to me like he's saying that since all his 'Bagger brethren agree that the Negro in the White House must go, it must be done. He seems to think that collection makes a majority, when obviously it's just the looniest of the people who didn't vote for Obama in the first place.

Bob Altemeyer's Comments on the Tea Party Movement, and his book, The Authoritarians (PDFs).

Al Franken, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right:
Any time that a liberal points out that the wealthy are disproportionately benefiting from Bush's tax policies, Republicans shout, "class warfare!"

In her book A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous Fourteenth Century, Barbara Tuchman writes about a peasant revolt in 1358 that began in the village of St. Leu and spread throughout the Oise Valley. At one estate, the serfs sacked the manor house, killed the knight, and roasted him on a spit in front of his wife and kids. Then, after ten or twelve peasants violated the lady, with the children still watching, they forced her to eat the roasted flesh of her dead husband and then killed her.

That is class warfare.

Arguing over the optimum marginal tax rate for the top one percent is not.

Aug 2010
There are 48 4,000-ft mountains in New Hampshire, by the criteria of the AMC. Should be 48 spectacular views, right? No, because the summits of most are now crowded with dense scrub spruce trees, so there is essentially no view at all. My solution would be for the US Forest Service to helicopter in a big wood chipper and a crew to clear view lines. It would attract more climbers to the less-climbed mountains, and relieve pressure on the ones that do have views. We just climbed popular Mt Osceola - nice view south (and a difficult view north), with its eroded trail; then Mt Tecumseh nearby - hardly any view, longer trail in much better condition.
    The teen does these climbs in half the time of the old man, running part of the way.
Mt Osceola, NH
old man and teen, Mt. Osceola, NH
view from Mt
                          Tecumseh, lowest of the NH 4000-footers
view from Mt Tecumseh
    Later in August: We climbed 2 2300-ft peaks near Lake George, NY, Prospect and Buck mountains. Great views from both.
view of Lake George
                          from Buck Mountain
view of Lake George from Buck Mountain, with my favorite teen, wearing the same clothes
We camped for a week at Lake George, NY, at a state campground in the town of Lake George. The town itself is a rather horrible tourist-centered mess of miniature golf, motels, gift shops and restaurants - fun for about 2 hours. The lake is quite scenic, with small mountains scattered around. All of the public swimming beaches we saw had roped-off areas just a few feet wide that one is supposed to stay inside, and zooming motorboats roaring by. We miss the ocean.
We had a lot of fun tubing on the Sacandaga river - as usual the rafting company had a photographer stationed at a key point - she got a good shot of me clinging to my tube after falling out, but it was far too expensive to buy. Glens Falls seemed like a nice small city. We climbed Prospect and Buck mountains - great views from both. There are mayflowers growing on Prospect mountain.
Bolton is a small town on the west shore with upscale shops and restaurants. I had most fun in the antique shops. At the other end of the antique shop scale, there was a horribly cluttered, dusty, leaky store near Ticonderoga, with the usual glassware and rusty mysteries, but also guns and animal parts, and a creepy attendant.
Fort Ticonderoga has been on my travel list for ages, and I expected it to be a highlight of the trip, but I was underwhelmed. It is run by a private non-profit (the Feds refused it a number of times, a long time ago), on what seems to be a very limited budget. The staff in the fort, in the middle of tourist season, seemed to consist of 2 adult costumed interpreters and several junior-high students who changed costumes to be French and English fife-and-drums and cannoneers. They have a large collection of real 18th century cannons and mortars. The fort rebuilding seems well done, but the upper halttsls are filled with the irrelevant old stuff that historical societies used to collect, and if there are cellars and magazines underneath, they are not open to view. The Armory has a substantial collection of antique guns, which bore me. The site is impressive, and it's easy to see how it once guarded the strategic route between Lakes Champlain and George. The gardens are nice, the lodge in severe disrepair. (This contrasts with the rebuilt fortress at Louisburg, Cape Breton, where most of the cannon are fake., but there is a large staff.)
teenage cannoneers
Ticonderoga gun crew

Filtered-out spam has been hitting 100/day, just in my alumni account, and Verizon stops additional ones. Later in Aug.: over 200/day sometimes! Mostly penis enhancers, drugs for impotence and pain, and fake watches, plus some suspicious software, "business opportunities," and a few Nigerian scams. Haven't seen the penny-stocks scams in a long time, and I never did get the fundagelical and winger magic money scams for the particularly feeble-minded.

Sure-Jell is powdered pectin, and Certo is liquid. Both are made by Kraft, but their proportions in recipes are quite different. Since I didn't know this before, and made a batch of jelly with Certo that did not set-up, I think Kraft should mention this in its recipes. Sure-Jell is considerably cheaper.
3 cups elderberry juice
.25 cup lemon juice
1 box Sure-Jell
4.5 cups sugar
3 cups elderberry juice
.25 cup lemon juice
2 packets (1 box, 4 oz) Certo
7 cups sugar
I picked 7 gallons of berries with stems in 45 min from our bushes, not trying to be thorough, leaving some for the birds. It took 2 hours to strip the berries from the stems, yielding 3 1/2 gallons of berries. And several hours and a very messy kitchen to get about 2 dozen 8-oz jars of finished jelly. I remade the runny Certo jelly with more sugar, and that set. The "no-sugar pectin" small batch didn't set, even in the fridge, even though I included a cup of sugar.

10 Aug 2010
Fark story: Small government Tea Party candidate from New York vows to use eminent domain to stop the "Ground Zero" mosque, presumably without his head exploding from cognitive dissonance LGF

worthwhile comments:
Republican campaign plan:
    1. Choose wedge issue for this election cycle - abortion, gays, immigrants, muslims, etc. to rally the social conservative base.
    2. Pass small, cosmetic and largely symbolic bills on the matter above once in power.
    3. Pass your real agenda: deregulation of corporations and tax cuts for the wealthiest.
    4. Laugh at your stooge followers who think you actually care about their problems and concerns.
    5. Repeat.

    To patriotic Americans, freedom is the most important thing we have. We are willing to die for it. Those who sacrifice themselves for the sake of others freedom are considered heroes. More important than life itself.
    On 9/11 Americans were attacked by our enemies. That attack hit American Muslims harder than anyone else, since while other Americans are able to move on and rebuild these Americans are still under attack.
    The attack that is currently being levied against American Muslims is worse than the attacks on 9/11. Instead of thousands of victims there are millions. Instead of their lives the attackers are taking liberty. Instead of the enemy they are being attacked by their countrymen.
    I feel this is worse than 9/11 because while those attacks were horrible, they didn't weaken America. Attacking other Americans is going to have longer lasting effects. These traitors aren't even trading essential liberties for something as desirable as security, they are doing it for spite. Against Americans, for an attack on America.
1)Foreign Muslims attack US
2)Americans attack American Muslims
3)Foreign Muslims use these attacks for recruitment
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
Buchanan coinWhy the US keeps minting coins people hate and won't use
 By Daniel Nasaw
BBC News, Washington
    Use of the $1 coin instead of a note could save the US $700m per year, but Americans won't carry it
    In hidden vaults across the country, the US government is building a stockpile of $1 coins. The hoard has topped $1.1bn - imagine a stack of coins reaching almost seven times higher than the International Space Station - and the piles have grown so large the US Federal Reserve is running out of storage space.
    Americans won't use the coins, preferring $1 notes. But the US keeps minting them anyway, and the Fed estimates it already has enough $1 coins to last the next 10 years. And at the current rate, the inventory will grow to $2bn (£1.3bn) by 2016, the Fed estimates.
    The coins began to pile up in 2007 when a law went into effect creating a new series of $1 coins commemorating dead US presidents. Already stamped into millions of pieces of eight-gram, manganese-brass alloy are presidents no-one even remembers anymore, like Franklin Pierce, and ineffectual executives like James Buchanan, whose incompetence historians say helped lead the US to civil war.
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Sharon Angle speech and photo op in San Diego: The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, is a far-right organization that propagates absurd anti-government conspiracy theories. The group has called the establishment of Medicare “evil” and “immoral”; has denied the link between HIV and AIDS; has argued that the FDA is unconstitutional; has promoted “one of Angle’s previously expressed theories that abortion may cause breast cancer“; and has even warned that President Obama may have used a “covert form of hypnosis” to win over voters.
tricorn1 Aug 2010
The Washington Post has a piece on an upsurge of visitors to Colonial Williamsburg, teabaggers looking for validation of their opinions. The staff are bemused.

Good news, so far. The Mass. legislature and Gov. Patrick disagree over the insane gambling bill, and he will veto it, largely because the corrupt goober in charge of the House tried to ram through a no-bid award of slot machines for his district's race tracks. DeLeo continues to lie:
“Make no mistake about it, anything short of Governor Patrick signing this bill represents a decision to kill the prospects of 15,000 new jobs and bring immediate local aid to our cities and towns,’’ said DeLeo, with 100 lawmakers standing behind him. - Boston Globe
I wrote a note of support to Gov. Patrick. My notes to Sen. Chandler and Rep. Day, some months ago, were never acknowledged.

30 July 2010     Where Are The Prosecutions? SEC Lets Citi Execs Go Free After $40 Billion Subprime Lie
Zach Carter, Campaign for America's Future
What is the penalty for bankers who tell $40 billion lies? Somewhere between nothing and a rounding-error on your bonus. Citigroup CFO Gary Crittenden will pay $100,000 to settle allegations that he screwed over his own investors. The year of the alleged wrongdoing, Crittenden took home $19.4 million. That's right. Crittenden will lose one-half of one percent of his income from the year he hid a quagmire of bailout-inducing insanity from his own investors. That's it. No indictment. No prison time. Crittenden doesn't even have to formally acknowledge any wrongdoing. [continues]
28 July 2010     Attention Bigots: There Is Already a Mosque Near the WTC Site
Wonkette operative “Evan B.” writes: “The debate over the planned mosque at Ground Zero seems a bit retarded to me; I work directly between the planned mosque and a mosque that has existed before 9/11 and continues to operate to this day. The existing mosque and the proposed mosque are probably 800 feet apart; one city block, let’s say.” This is humorous! LISTEN UP, HATEFUL ASSHOLES: The end is near! The Muslins have already invaded that city you call godless yet love because terrorism happened there! YOU ARE RIGHT TO BE VERY, VERY SCARED AND ANGRY ABOUT THIS! So you have to kill yourselves right now! It is the only way!

When the right-wing noise machine starts promoting another alleged scandal, you shouldn’t suspect that it’s fake — you should presume that it’s fake, until further evidence becomes available.  Paul Krugman, NYT

9 Nov 1863, Gettysburg

Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate; we cannot consecrate; we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us, the living, rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion; that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. - Abraham Lincoln

Toles on Breibart
Frank Zappa's song to Boner, Newt, Crybaby and Gasbag:
When the Lie's So Big
Barcelona, 1988

They got lies so big
They don't make a noise
They tell 'em so well
Like a secret disease
That makes you go numb

With a big ol' lie
And a flag and a pie
And a mom and a bible
Most folks are just liable
To buy any line
Any place, any time

When the lie's so big
As in Robertson's case,
(That sinister face
Behind all the Jesus hurrah)

Could result in the end
To a worrisome trend
In which every American
Not "born again"
Could be punished in cruel and unusual ways
By this treacherous cretin
Who tells everyone
That he's Jesus' best friend

When the lie's so big
And the fog gets so thick
And the facts disappear
The Republican Trick
Can be played out again
People, please tell me when
We'll be rid of these men?
Just who do they really
Suppose that they are?
And how did they manage to travel as far
As they seem to have come?
Were we really that dumb?

People, wake up
Figure it out
Religious fanatics
Around and about
The Court House, The State House,
The Congress, The White House

Criminal saints
With a "Heavenly Mission" --
A nation enraptured
By pure superstition

When the lie's so big
And the fog gets so thick
And the facts disappear
The Republican Trick
Can be played out again
People, please tell me when
We'll be rid of these men!

Pyrosmoa atlanticum15 July 2010
Pyrosomes are a class of colonial urochordates, often luminescent, which typically form a cone or cylinder that is centimeters to meters long. They are best known from tropical surface waters, but also live at great depths. A report [and another] read today says the BP oil disaster is killing large numbers, which may have significant effects on the food chain. This is a little-studied, hard to study, group of animals, which I had never heard of until now, and I don't know what to make of the reports.
Nature report of their role in marine carbon cycle, Armstong 2009
Underwater nature films
Pyrosoma atlanticum

12 Jul 2010
Ross Douthat actually made some sense!
The Class War We Need

The rich are different from you and me. They know how to game the system.
That’s one interpretation, at least, of last week’s news that Americans with million-dollar mortgages are defaulting at almost twice the rate of the typical homeowner. It suggests an infuriating scenario in which the average American slaves away to keep Wells Fargo or Bank of America off his back, while fat cats and high fliers cut their losses and sail off to the next investment opportunity.

That isn’t exactly what’s happening, most likely. Just because you have a million-dollar mortgage doesn’t make you a millionaire, and a lot of the fat-cat defaulters probably aren’t that fat anymore. ... Still, ... knowing that thousands of similarly profligate homeowners are simply walking away from their debts, it’s easy to succumb to a little class-warrior fantasizing. (Pitchforks, tar, feathers ... that sort of thing.)

The trick is to channel those impulses in a constructive direction. The left-wing instinct, when faced with high-rolling irresponsibility, is usually to call for tax increases on the rich. But the problem, here and elsewhere, isn’t exactly that we tax high rollers’ incomes too lightly. It’s that we subsidize their irresponsibility too heavily — underwriting their bad bets and bailing out their follies. The class warfare we need is a conservative class warfare, which would force the million-dollar defaulters to pay their own way from here on out.
This policy is typical of the way the federal government does business. In case after case, Washington’s web of subsidies and tax breaks effectively takes money from the middle class and hands it out to speculators and have-mores. We subsidize drug companies, oil companies, agribusinesses disguised as “family farms” and “clean energy” firms that aren’t energy-efficient at all. We give tax breaks to immensely profitable corporations that don’t need the money and boondoggles [Slate corn Corn dogs] that wouldn’t exist without government favoritism.

And we do more of it every day. Take Barack Obama’s initiative to double U.S. exports in the next five years. As The Washington Examiner’s Tim Carney points out, it involves the purest sort of corporate welfare: We’re lending money to foreign governments or companies so that they’ll buy from Boeing and Pfizer and Archer Daniels Midland. That’s good news for those companies’ stockholders and C.E.O.’s. But the money to pay for it ultimately comes out of middle-class pocketbooks.
But of course he blames Obama for much of this, as if these were new problems, instead of just the same old politics.
And George Will had an article on the evils of social activism, interesting and informative if you can ignore his perspective. Another round of Prohibition, anyone?
Did a sense of shame ever reside in our Republican toadies? You can't stop people who are never embarrassed by themselves. Will's readiness to turn a sow's ear into a silk purse can be cited as world class sycophancy. - Norman Mailer, about George Will, 3/14/2002 Boston Globe letter
11 Jul 2010
Dana Milbank at the Washington Post had a well-researched article about how Gov. Jan Brewer and Sen. Grampa McCain, etc.  were flat-out lying about the crimes of Mexican immigrants. He used the real police and FBI data. The wingnuts just went ballistic in the comments (nearly 2000, so far), without any counter evidence (of course), with vile and idiotic ad hominem attacks, irrelevant shaggy dog stories, and far-winger rants.
Headless bodies and other immigration tall tales in Arizona    
By Dana Milbank
Sunday, July 11, 2010
Two months ago, the Arizona Republic published an exhaustive report that found that, according to statistics from the FBI and Arizona police agencies, crime in Arizona border towns has been "essentially flat for the past decade." For example, "In 2000, there were 23 rapes, robberies and murders in Nogales, Ariz. Last year, despite nearly a decade of population growth, there were 19 such crimes." The Pima County sheriff reported that "the border has never been more secure."

FBI statistics show violent crime rates in all of the border states are lower than they were a decade ago -- yet Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) reports that the violence is "the worst I have ever seen." President Obama justifiably asserted last week that "the southern border is more secure today than any time in the past 20 years," yet Rush Limbaugh judged the president to be "fit for the psycho ward" on the basis of that remark. ...
There's Brewer's claim that "the majority" of people immigrating illegally "are coming here and they're bringing drugs, and they're doing drop houses and they're extorting people and they're terrorizing the families. That is the truth." No, it isn't. The Border Patrol's Tucson Sector has apprehended more than 170,000 undocumented immigrants since Oct. 1, but only about 1,100 drug prosecutions have been filed in Arizona in that time.

The claim that illegal immigrants are behind most killings of law-enforcement personnel is also bunk. Arizona state Sen. Sylvia Allen claimed that "in the last few years 80 percent of our law enforcement that have been killed or wounded have been by an illegal." A Phoenix police spokesman told the Arizona Republic's E.J. Montini that the real figure for such killings is less than 25 percent, and that there are no statistics on the wounding of officers.

So what is this "terrible border security crisis" that Brewer says has only "gotten worse"? She complained recently to Fox News's Greta Van Susteren about the Obama administration's handling of the border: "They haven't did [sic] their job."

But really the person who hasn't did her job is Brewer. She should screw her head back on and start telling Americans the truth.
I've never understood how illegal immigration is supposed to be a liberal plot. Seems to me the major direct benficiaries are landlords and business owners, prime tea bagger material. Liberals just want them treated humanely. Liberal commentators also point out how Reagan, Bush, etc gave amnesty to previous generations of them, but the wingers know amnesty is part of Obama's plot to impose socialism. The Rethuglicans, in control and out of control, have done nothing constructive about the "problem" they now scream about. (Their border wall is a sick, expensive, incomplete joke.) Just partisan politics.

9 Jul 2010 Biggest defaulters on mortgages are the rich
by Jed Lewison, NYT
More than one in seven homeowners with loans in excess of a million dollars are seriously delinquent, according to data compiled for The New York Times by the real estate analytics firm CoreLogic. By contrast, homeowners with less lavish housing are much more likely to keep writing checks to their lender. About one in 12 mortgages below the million-dollar mark is delinquent.
Though it is hard to prove, the CoreLogic data suggest that many of the well-to-do are purposely dumping their financially draining properties, just as they would any sour investment. “The rich are different: they are more ruthless,” said Sam Khater, CoreLogic’s senior economist.
I'm sure this news will generate outrage from right-wing ideologues, screaming about how these people are undermining the national economy and the moral fabric of our community, right? It'll be just like the way they blamed the entire financial system collapse on ACORN and the Community Reinvestment Act and racial and ethnic minorities, right? More likely, they'll just continue to stick their heads in the sand, hope nothing changes, and then repeat the whole cycle all over again.
[article has links to the whores at nationreview, faux and medianutters]
common tern
common tern diving, July 2010, Barlow's Landing, Pocasset

30 jun 2010
Local petty corruption?: the parking lot at the Worcester Public Library has meters, cheap enough at 25¢ per half hour.  But several meters were damaged, then removed, more than a year ago. I assume those unmetered spaces are taken by the first city employees to arrive in the morning. Who damaged them? There is not an epidemic of meter vandalizing, so I believe it was specific. And yes, I use those spaces when I can.

Study: US media redefined torture after US started practicing it [not a surprise]
torture is Republican and wanker
                          DemocratBy Daniel Tencer at Rawstory
Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

The US news media radically changed how it reported on the issue of waterboarding after it emerged that US forces had used the practice, says a new study from Harvard University.

The study also found a double standard when defining waterboarding, with news sources commonly referring to waterboarding as "torture" when talking about foreign countries using the practice, but declining to do so when it's being carried out by the United States.

"From the early 1930's until the modern story broke in 2004, the newspapers that covered waterboarding almost uniformly called the practice torture or implied it was torture: The New York Times characterized it thus in 81.5% (44 of 54) of articles on the subject and The Los Angeles Times did so in 96.3% of articles (26 of 27). By contrast, from 2002-2008, the studied newspapers almost never referred to waterboarding as torture. The New York Times called waterboarding torture or implied it was torture in just 2 of 143 articles (1.4%). The Los Angeles Times did so in 4.8% of articles (3 of 63). The Wall Street Journal characterized the practice as torture in just 1 of 63 articles (1.6%). USA Today never called waterboarding torture or implied it was torture."

The study went on to note a marked difference in the way waterboarding is portrayed when the individuals doing the waterboarding are American, and when they're not.

"[N]ewspapers are much more likely to call waterboarding torture if a country other than the United States is the perpetrator. In The New York Times, 85.8% of articles (28 of 33) that dealt with a country other than the United States using waterboarding called it torture or implied it was torture while only 7.69% (16 of 208) did so when the United States was responsible. The Los Angeles Times characterized the practice as torture in 91.3% of articles (21 of 23) when another country was the violator, but in only 11.4% of articles (9 of 79) when the United States was the perpetrator." ...

     The NYT belatedly comments on agribusiness abuse of antibiotics. Scientists and health researchers have been complaining for decades.

Antibiotics and Agriculture

The Food and Drug Administration is taking some long overdue but still too timid steps to rein in excessive use of antibiotics in American agriculture. For years now industrial and many smaller-scale farmers have routinely fed antibiotics to their cattle, pigs and chickens to protect them from infectious diseases but also to spur growth and weight gain while using less feed. That may be good for agricultural production, but it is almost surely bad for the public’s health. [continues]

29 jun 2010    Report faults U.S. for being too optimistic about Afghan security capabilities
By Karen DeYoung
Washington Post

The U.S. military has systematically overstated or failed to adequately measure the capabilities of Afghan security forces, whose performance is key to the Obama administration's exit strategy for the war, according to a new government audit. Efforts to prepare and equip Afghan forces are also plagued by a shortage of U.S.-led coalition trainers and mentors and a corrupt and inadequate Afghan logistics system, the report by the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction said. The coalition did not challenge the findings and acknowledged significant ongoing problems. But [of course] it said the report, released Monday, was outdated and failed to take sufficient account of recent improvements in the training program. [bullshit] ...

black-backed gull
great black-backed gull chick, Monomoy, jun 2010

John M. Mitchell, U.S. attorney general from 1969-1972, once said, "The conservation movement is a breeding ground of communists and other subversives. We intend to clean them out, even if it means rounding up every birdwatcher in the country."

saw whet owlWhen we were at our Wellfleet cottage, I heard an unfamiliar bird call. I've heard it in other years, too, but this time made a point of trying to identify it. I asked the experts at the Cornell Ornithology lab, who made several good suggestions based on my inadequate description, but the calls were not right. I bought a book & CD of frog calls - and learned something about them, but my call wasn't there. Finally, I listened to my Elliott & Stokes CDs of recorded calls, and, That's it! - a Northern saw-whet owl. They are rather common, say the descriptions, but their calls had never sunk it before (and I've never actually seen one.)

22 jun 2010 advertising scam: betterlinkadvertising

18 jun 2010
All songs about bells, or at least all the folk songs I've ever heard about bells, are awful.

And why is Bruce Springsteen rich and famous? His good song is Pink Cadilllac, and all the others sound like each other, muddy and mumbled.
Does the guy always have to sing like he's constipated and trying to force a log out? - comment at Pharyngula, 7 dec 2010
New theme for the decade, First we hang all the bankers.

17 Jun 2010
Pharmaceutical Companies Back Away From New Research
Slate synopsis, Reuters original
Research and development jobs for big pharmaceutical companies aren't as readily available as they once were, Reuters reports, and there's a reason behind the cutbacks: patent expirations. Over the next five years, $142 billion worth of prescription drug patents are scheduled to expire, and Big Pharma companies are bracing for the financial hit of cheaper generics. This is "the biggest 'cliff' of patent expiries in the history of the pharmaceuticals industry," Reuters says, and when you take into account new regulatory measures and a decline in new drugs launched annually, it's no wonder that companies are acting early. Despite a jump in new drug approvals in the mid-1990s, "the industry today produces roughly the same number of new medicines that it did 60 years ago," and there have been fewer blockbuster products. As a result, companies are pulling back from research and shifting focus toward other areas: breaking into emerging markets and focusing on nonprescription drugs. In India, drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline has been pumping millions into promoting a malted milk drink for the elderly. Many companies are also buying into smaller biotech firms in the hopes that innovation will come from the outside. But if things remain on course, a health care investment firm manager tells Reuters, "In the 21st century …  Big Pharma will primarily be a distribution business."
16 Jun 2010
WASHINGTON – The two chief authors of the Senate energy and climate bill joined 20 other Democrats Tuesday evening to help defeat a motion that would have stripped $35 billion in special tax breaks for big oil companies. Sens. John Kerry (D-MA) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) cast their votes against the amendment introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) to H.R. 4213, the "American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act." It failed 35-61. -- Rawstory

SCA logo Student Conservation Association
Our favorite teen is working at SCA this month, maintaining the Appalachian Trail in the Berkshires.

16 Jun 2010
    2010 Census

    I've been working for the Census for several weeks, part of the follow-up crew to get info from the people who did not mail in the Census in reasonable time. The hours are fairly flexible, the money reasonably good, my colleagues are interesting, and I get excercise climbing hills and stairs. Our sector is all within about 3 miles of home, and I've learned a lot about neighborhoods of Worcester I hardly knew existed. Most of the respondents have been helpful, once I catch them at home, but there are some whiney teabaggers (is that redundant?), suspicious (of my job) immigrants, and nasty jerks (probably hiding something, and/or mentally ill.)  Landlords do not know the law, and are mostly unhelpful when I resort to them for information.
The most common obnoxious peple are the ones who mailed in the Census a month or two late, yet berate the government for being incompetent and wasting money (a news article said that it costs about 23 cents to process a mailed-in form, and $57 on average for us to follow up on the non-responders). That said, some people say they did send  the form on time, and I believe some. (However, many tenants claim to have only one or two people in their apartment, and are likely lying, as was a certain overpaid, arrogant public employee, concerning a mother-in-law apartment.) I think sternly worded reminders of the law should be given after several gentle ones, with publicized fines for non-compliance.
    One cranky  nit-wit said the census is a waste of money, since the government could just spend a few seconds with its computers and get all the information. Where does he imagine data comes from?

    As for the buildings—I am mostly visiting triple-deckers, Worcester's most common, private low-income to low-middle income housing. Most have been covered with vinyl siding, many had their front porches removed (typical slumlord move), the back stairwell is often the original battleship-gray paint. The woodwork inside is sometimes the old stuff, in beautiful condition, sometimes hidden under multiple layers of paint, sometimes removed and replaced with cheap modern crap. In one neighborhood the houses often had a panel beside the front door with the remnants of speaker tubes and doorbells. I didn't see anything that made me want to jail the slumlords, but they won't get any sympathy, either. The few really disgusting apartments were the tenants' fault. Most of the people in poor neighborhoods drive much nicer cars than I do.
    And as for the Census bureaucracy —the rules keep changing for us enumerators, and it seems even worse for the crew leaders. At first we were supposed to make only 3 contact attempts, then 6, then "whatever it takes." Although resident interviews are best, we were encouraged to ask neighbors and landlords after initial attempts, but those proxy responses are now problematic. Refusals and deletions now require a crew leader to confirm (refusals are often unpleasant, so there is a tendency to avoid repeated nastiness, but sometimes we can catch another, more reasonable resident later.)  The local office is weeks behind processing some of the incoming reports (but our pay checks come on time!) W
hen no one answers at a house or apartment, we leave a Notice of Visit, with a Census office contact phone number, so they can phone in their info or schedule an enumerator visit, etc. Several people from my sets tried and failed with that, so I have been leaving my own cell number lately.    
    Each data set comes as a binder with addresses to check on, a set of labeled questionaires for the non-responders, and a set of maps. The maps are completely useless; I tried using them, but always ended up using web maps or my own map book. The Census-numbered addresses within apartment buildings sometimes have no relation to the actual apartment numbers, so I wasted time trying to contact people who had actually turned in the form on time (and most apartment buildings do not have tenant names on the mailboxes or door-bells, and the door-bells seem to be functional less than half the time, anyway.)
    However, there is not enough work.
    The next phase is validation, checking on the vacancies, deletions, refusals, incompletes and probably sampling the normal ones with repeat interviews. So far, the bureaucracy is not being informative, which is frustrating.
    As a genealogist, I'm disappointed with th
e info requested. There is vastly less interesting information than in Censuses from a hundred years ago. Then the Census asked, among other things, name, age, relationship, marital status, time married, occupation, home/farm rental/ownership, birth state/country, parents birth state/country and language, race, disability, ability to read/write, immigration and naturalization dates for immigrants, school attendance for children, and for (married?) women the number of children born and number living. See  the census forms from 1900, 1910 (PDFs). We are not asking for citizenship. Why? One reason is so as to get a fuller count of residents. Non-citiizens will be more likely to feel included, and not scared off. There certainly is a point to asking for citizenship, but politicians left and right from places with a high non-citizen population want the numbers to be a high as possible. Even the deranged right-wing (e.g., Bachmann), which  was telling people to refuse to be counted, was apparently not trying to tell the Census to only count citizens.
    One of my colleagues is a college student of Hispanic origin. He was searched, interrogated and nearly arrested by Worcester police for "breaking and entering" while doing his job correctly. Only the arrival of a supervisor led to his release.

    I worked the validation phase for 2 weeks, which largely meant double-checking deletions and poorly documented vacancies. Lots of apologies for rechecking, insincerely blaming the Government for my assignment, when the usual problem was actuallly lazy tenants and landlords who don't know/won't obey the law.

Five ridiculous gun myths everyone believes, thanks to the movies

14 Jun 2010 Pakistani intel continues support of Taliban
Slate, from Guardian
In an explosive report released by the London School of Economics, researcher Matt Waldman accused Pakistan's spy agency, the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence, of supporting the Taliban. According to the report, "Pakistani intelligence is so deeply involved in the arming and funding of the Afghan Taliban that it holds a seat on the militant leadership council and has sent the president, Asif Ali Zardari, to make prison visits to captured leaders," the Guardian reported.
22 May 2010 The problem of portolan charts; how did they originate? Washington Post

Widely applicable, but directly relevant to the Texas School Board textbook situation, where the nutters are trying to impose their lies and biases on Texas, and thereby much of the country:

Telling lies to the young is wrong.
Proving to them that lies are true is wrong.
Telling them that God's in his heaven
and all's well with the world is wrong.
The young know what you mean. The young are people.
Tell them the difficulties can't be counted
and let them see not only what will be
but see with clarity these present times
Say obstacles exist they must encounter,
sorrow happens, hardship happens.
The hell with it. Who never knew
the price of happiness will not be happy.
Forgive no error you recognize,
it will repeat itself, increase,
and afterwards our pupils
will not forgive in us what we forgave.

Yevgeny Yevtushenko (from Pharyngula)
"Writing letters to elected representatives has the same effect on public policy that praying to Jesus has on cancer." - Tim Kreider, comment on RawStory

8 May 2010
One of the more idiotic teabagger talking points is that Clinton, Frank, the Dems, or somebody, 'pushed' the banks into lending to people who couldn't afford a mortgage. It's never explained how that could happen. As I saw it, the banks, allowed to speculate by Rethuglican deregulation of their industry, saw an opportunity to make billions by passing along the risk to speculators. It mostly worked, except they were still holding some of the garbage when the bubble burst, and we the taxpayers, and our children, are left to make up the loss.
There's bipartisan blame, but I know which party has been screaming for deregulation most. - T&G comment by culch

2 may 2010
29 apr 2010 Reagan admin ‘hyped Soviet failures into threats,’ documents show
 RawStory by Daniel Tencer

In its efforts to keep Congress funding huge military budgets in the 1980s, the Reagan administration exaggerated the threat from the Soviet Union's military projects, newly published documents show.

Documents posted online Thursday at the National Security Archives chronicle a Soviet physicist's efforts to dispel claims about the USSR's secretive weapons programs by bringing US officials to Russia to examine top-secret weapons sites. Those tours, which took place around 1987, "showed that the Reagan administration had exaggerated Soviet capabilities and also that the Soviet military machine was not as technologically advanced as had been thought," the National Security Archives stated in a press release.

Those documents were first brought to light in a recent book by David E. Hoffman, The Dead Hand. The book chronicles the Soviet effort to build a system for an "automatic retaliatory nuclear strike on the United States." But, as the released documents show, that effort, as well as other weapons programs, were never near fruition. The National Security Archives states:
The Pentagon published a glossy annual booklet, Soviet Military Power, a propaganda piece designed to help boost congressional support for Reagan’s military spending. The fourth edition, published in April, 1985, contained the claim that the Soviets had “two ground-based lasers that are capable of attacking satellites in various orbits.”

In Soviet Military Power, the Pentagon included an artists’ conception, a black-and-white pencil sketch, showing what purported to be the Saryshagan proving ground. A building with a dome on top was shown firing a white laser beam into the heavens.
"In fact, the long, expensive search to build laser weapons against targets in space had, up to this point, totally fizzled," the Archives press release states. "The Soviets had not given up hope, but the glossy Pentagon booklet took old failures and hyped them into new threats."

Many historians argue that the Reagan administration's hyping of the Soviet threat and its efforts to build the space-based Strategic Defense Initiative ("Star Wars") amounted to a "bluff" that was nonetheless successful in pushing the Soviet Union into backing off from the Cold War.

The newly-released documents show just how truly incapable the Soviet Union was of matching US military power, despite its ambitious projects. The documents show that Soviet physicist Yevgeny Velikhov, who had brought US officials to a number of Soviet military sites, had tried to persuade the central committee of the Communist Party to allow Americans to tour the testing facility at Saryshagan, which was at the heart of US claims about a Soviet space missile plan.

The documents show the Soviet government rejected the request, but not because it was trying to hide a major new military capability. Rather, "the American visitors would quickly realize the Soviet equipment was really quite old," the National Security Archives state. "The only thing to hide at Sary Shagan was the painful truth: Soviet technology was way behind.
"So, let's see...
Reagan's list of accomplishments:

1. Provided amnesty for most illegal aliens.
2. Knowingly sold weapons to known terrorists and then lied about it until it became inconvenient.
3. Imported crack cocaine to underprivileged communities in California and Florida.
4. Created the permanent national debt and the corresponding permanent national tax burden.
5. Actively lied to the American people about the Soviet threat, literally terrorizing us into complying with his corporate-welfare tax schemes (ransom demands).
6. Gave us two Bush presidencies.

And this is the guy Teabaggers and other Republicans hold up as an example?
comment by AtlanticCapers
My memory of the Reagan years.
12 Apr 2010
    Massachusetts is poised to pass casino gambling bills. What a disgusting situation. The reasons given are lies supported by misleading and partial statistics and analyses.
    At a personal level, I support what amounts to a tax on stupidity, but at a societal level I think it is counter-productive. Gambling on games, cards, dice, etc. contributes nothing whatsoever to society. The profits usually go to distant millionaires, often with organized crime connections, instead of being spent within the community. There is a culture of loan-sharking, drug use, and prostitution that goes with casinos. I find it hard to believe that the problems of increased crime rates, or decreased  family solvency and cohesion
caused by gambling addiction will be adequately addressed by the state.
    The state cannot eliminate gambling, but actively encouraging it is wrong.

    "The Connecticut legislature is considering a bill that would remove teh statute of limitations on child sex abuse cases. Guess who is opposing the bill. No, it's not NAMBLA. No, it's not a mob of sexually precocious toddlers. It's…the Catholic Church! You probably didn't see that one coming.
    The reason they oppose it isn't some conservative legal principle. They spilled the beans already — it's the cost to the church.
    The proposed change to the law would put "all Church institutions, including your parish, at risk," says the letter, which was signed by Connecticut's three Roman Catholic bishops.
    Oh? Why are they worried? Do they have a gang of septuagenarian child molesters tucked away somewhere in the bosom of the Connecticut church? Pharyngula, 12 Apr 2010

When you are looking at truth versus gossip, truth doesn't stand a chance - Barbara Mikkelson,

Despite the eternal conservative fantasy that things were always more "moral" in the old days, we have these quotes from Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956):
    In this world of sin and sorrow, there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican.

    Suppose two-thirds of the members of the national House of Representatives were dumped into the Washington garbage incinerator tomorrow, what would we lose to offset our gain of their salaries and the salaries of their parasites?

    To wage a war for a purely moral reason is as absurd as to ravish a woman for a purely moral reason.

    Democracy is grounded upon so childish a complex of fallacies that they must be protected by a rigid system of taboos, else even halfwits would argue it to pieces. Its first concern must thus be to penalize the free play of ideas.

    Of government, at least in democratic states, it may be said briefly that it is an agency engaged wholesale, and as a matter of solemn duty, in the performance of acts which all self-respecting individuals refrain from as a matter of common decency.

The two greatest obstacles to democracy in the United States are, first, the widespread delusion among the poor that we have a democracy, and second, the chronic terror among the rich, lest we get it. - Edward Dowling, 1941

What has 'theology' ever said that is of the smallest use to anybody? When has 'theology' ever said anything that is demonstrably true and is not obvious? … What makes you think that 'theology' is a subject at all? - Richard Dawkins, biologist (Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, 1991)

Alice Cooper - clowns will eat me
Beck is an insane whoreThe major Fox clown-whore made 32 million dollars last year for his efforsts to drive the country insane and encourage a coup.
Using my right wing reporting tool kit: this was reported in a teabagger newspaper: ‘Glenn Beck raped and killed a little girl.’

"Virginia has been making big leaps lately in the category of general craziness. We all remember the Legislature’s heroic work in passing a bill to protect Virginia citizens from having microchips planted in their bodies against their will. And that the sponsor said he was concerned the chips could be a “mark of the beast” that would be used by the Antichrist at the end of days." - Gail Collins, NYT

9 Apr 2010 Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld Knowingly Kept Innocent Men at Guantanamo
    A new statement from inside the old Administration, backed by General Colin Powell himself, claims that President Bush and Vice President Cheney kept innocent men in Guantanamo so they wouldn't harm their push for war in Iraq. ...
All year, so far: Tiger Woods' golf and bimbo scores have been an international obsession, impossible to avoid. As for me, if he vanished from the news, I wouldn't notice or care.

VaranusApr 2010 The Skeptic's Dictionary - posts on media spin, update on the satanic ritual accusation insanity, Texas revisionism ...
    The Straight Dope - "in 1950s Chicago, bombs were a routine means of interpersonal communication. "
    National Geographic - New Giant Lizard Discovery "an Unprecedented Surprise" Human-size lizard hid from science high in the trees. [The quote is dumb, but the story cool.]

Old Beatles' songs on the radio: they've aged well, and most music is/was soon forgettable.

5 Apr 2010 on the use of drones to kill Taliban:
Predator"Two of the government supporters said they knew of civilians, including friends, who had been killed by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. But, they said, they are prepared to sacrifice the civilians if it means North Waziristan will be rid of the militants, in particular the Arabs.
'On balance, the drones may have killed 100, 200, 500 civilians,” said one of the men. “If you look at the other guys, the Arabs and the kidnappings and the targeted killings, I would go for the drones.' ” NYT
2 Apr 2010 Fark comment thread on Texas history revisionism and other recent wingnut statements
madmann         2010-04-02
Gordon Bennett: The rules have changed. We are allowed to make up our own history it seems, and state it as the truth. Fine.
Republicans invented cancer and rape.
The Republican party was founded on the principle that drowning puppies and kittens with your bare hands is fun and should be promoted in schools.
Republicans have tiny, reptilian brains. They all feed off of human misery and suffering.
Wait, you're confusing me... I thought these were all going to be made up.
2 Apr 2010 CIA’s top spy: No losses from waterboarding ban
Michael Sulick, head of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service, told a student audience last week that the spy agency has seen no fall-off in intelligence since waterboarding was banned by the Obama administration.
"I don’t think we’ve suffered at all from an intelligence standpoint," Sulick told students and some faculty members at Fordham University, his alma mater, on March 25. [continues]
teabagging hypocrites3 Apr 2010 - Rawstory comment:
Dear Teabagging Hick Terrorists,
Now is your time to step up to the plate, or shut the f**k up. Here is your anti-socialist teabagging pledge. Sign it. ...
on the Health Care "Reform" process:
"When you think of the vast majorities they have in Congress, and they had the bribe back room deals, corruption," Hannity continued, "that's because of the Tea Party movement, all these Tim McVeigh wannabes." *

Fark comments:
 It honestly shocks me that there are actual people out there who are this abjectly, hopelessly stupid. And they're breathing my goddamned air.
I wish they'd stop.
Just think. The passage of Obamacare means they get the same quality medical care you get...and will live as long as you. Darwin loses.
elitist bastardon the idiotic hoopla aver politicians and clowns using the term "retarded:"
Fark comment: You know, sometimes it's really hard not to feel elitist.
My new quote for 2010: Just because I make you feel inferior, doesn't make me an elitist.

... You insensitive Arsehole! I can't believe people still use the "r-word" in t his day and age. If you weren't some kind of mother-sister lovin' hick, you'd know civilized people don't talk that way anymore.
The term is, and say it with me, "Palin-American."
"Retarded" was invented as a euphemism for the people earlier called "feeble-minded," imbeciles, morons, etc., which are terms we are still allowed to use (and frequently do) for people who annoy us with opinions or actions we disagree with. The new PC euphemism for people genuinely afflicted is "developmentally delayed," and the mocking version is "rides the short bus."
 21 Mar 2010 Thomas Friedman at NYT on the benefits of immigrants. America's Real Dream Team
    I have the pleasure of knowing one of the honored students.

bluefin tuna20 Mar 2010
The Fishing Lobby Wins Again
NYT editorial,: March 19, 2010
Thursday was a terrible day for bluefin tuna.
    By a depressingly lopsided margin, countries meeting in Doha at the United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species rejected a proposal by Monaco and the United States to ban international trade in Atlantic bluefin tuna, which is spiraling toward extinction. The convention had earlier rejected, also by a wide margin, a softer motion by the Europeans that would have placed the tuna high on the international list of endangered species but delayed a trading ban for one year.
    The vote split partly along developed/developing nation lines. But make no mistake: It was largely the result of relentless lobbying by Japan, whose citizens consume four-fifths of the world’s bluefin tuna, thus providing a steady market for poorer countries with big fishing industries like Tunisia.
    Marine Fish Conservation Network
19 Mar 2010
Empathy failed
Posted by Avram Grumer, at Making Light

Peter Watts has been found guilty of being assaulted by a border guard. The actual charge was obstructing a border officer. The other charges were refuted in court, but there remained the fact that Watts, having just been punched twice in the head, did not immediately drop to the ground when ordered to do so, instead asking what the problem was. Apparently, this is a felony. Peter Watts' blog
12 Mar 2010
undereducatedThe Great School Delusion, at The American Prospect
       David L. Kirp | March 12, 2010   
 A review of The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education by Diane Ravitch, Basic Books. "
An education reformer discovers that tests, standards, and other silver bullets are no substitute for hard teaching."

A member of the Bush Dept. Education, a former supporter of No Child Left Behind, says it's a bad idea, that can't work.
2009, from Strident Centrist
Treason committed by Richard Perle and Douglas Feith.

Who’s Afraid of Sibel Edmonds?       PDF
The gagged whistleblower goes on the record.

By Sibel Edmonds and Philip Giraldi

    Sibel Edmonds has a story to tell. She went to work as a Turkish and Farsi translator for the FBI five days after 9/11. Part of her job was to translate and transcribe recordings of conversations between suspected Turkish intelligence agents and their American contacts. She was fired from the FBI in April 2002 after she raised concerns that one of the translators in her section was a member of a Turkish organization that was under investigation for bribing senior government officials and members of Congress, drug trafficking, illegal weapons sales, money laundering, and nuclear proliferation. She appealed her termination, but was more alarmed that no effort was being made to address the corruption that she had been monitoring.
    A Department of Justice inspector general’s report called Edmonds’s allegations “credible,” “serious,” and “warrant[ing] a thorough and careful review by the FBI.” Ranking Senate Judiciary Committee members Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) have backed her publicly. “60 Minutes” launched an investigation of her claims and found them believable. No one has ever disproved any of Edmonds’s revelations, which she says can be verified by FBI investigative files.
    John Ashcroft’s Justice Department confirmed Edmonds’s veracity in a backhanded way by twice invoking the dubious State Secrets Privilege so she could not tell what she knows. The ACLU has called her “the most gagged person in the history of the United States of America.” [continues]
[And don't forget that vile weasel, Karl Rove.]

March 2010, Montreal
    We just spent 4 days in Montreal, and had a nice time. It would have been more fun if we had more money, but when is that not true? It is unfortunate for us that the Canadian dollar is about at par with the US dollar now, unlike on our previous trips.
    As people usually write: Montreal is close enough to drive to easily (about 5 h), but foreign enough to be interesting. Everyone we tried could speak English - sometimes it was clearly their second  or third language, and sometimes there were only little clues that French was their first language. I asked a Biod
ôme guide for help in pronunciation, and then she asked me a question on English grammar (how to use the plurals of 'fish'.) We even heard a family that switched back and forth among themselves. Our French is poor, and clerks and guides hear that and speak to us in English. Other times, something about us says 'English-speaker' or 'American' before we speak (and it's not always just looking clueless.)
    Highlights: the Biodôme (again) [see penguin webcam], the Botanical Garden greenhouses,  the sights of Vieux Montréal and the Latin Quarter, a Tiffany glass exhibit at the
Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal, the variety of ethnic restaurants (we ate Lebanese, Indian, Mexican and French), the fast and clean Metro (where a ticket-booth worker said "Welcome to Montreal" when we presented our passes.). Lowlights: too many smokers, Quebec highways are horribly signed, and even Canadian TV "news" is obsessed with Tiger Woods. We did an interested-student tour of McGill, but at 34,000 students, it just seems too big and not far enough away for our too-soon college student. Quebec drivers have a poor reputation on Cape Cod, about par with New York and New Jersey drivers, but in Montreal they were very courteous. The "underground malls" in Montreal (and Toronto) continue to unimpress, but maybe they are useful in the depths of winter.

    A little side trip along the way was to the Snowflake Museum in Jericho, Vermont. This is in the Red Mill, of the former Chittenden Mills, now also used for village offices and a nice gift shop. Jericho also happens to be where my grandfather was born, 25 Dec 1906, but the family is not mentioned in the History of Jericho.
snowflake setFrom the earliest memories of our childhood, many of us can remember hearing the phrase "no two snowflakes are alike". This discovery was made in the small rural town of Jericho, Vermont by Wilson A. Bentley (1865-1931).

A self educated farmer, Bentley attracted world attention with his pioneering work in the area of photomicrography, most notably his extensive work with snow crystals (commonly known as snowflakes). By adapting a microscope to a bellows camera, and years of trial and error, he became the first person to photograph a single snow crystal in 1885.

The criminals who are the banking system don't credit our mortgage payments until the last moment, to maximize the interest charged. The electric and phone companies credit us quickly, 1-2 days after mailing the check, because they don't charge interest. All of them charge extra, sometimes, for paying by phone or computer, even though it saves them time and payroll. But the credit card companies are in another league of criminality.

TRove turdblossomurdblossom has published a whole book of lies and excuses, and he's proud that his administration tortured people. Military veterans note note that he and other neocon chickenhawk torture fans.did not serve. Frank Rich comment, 14 Mar 2010

14 Mar 2010, interesting NYT op-ed by Sean Wilentz, defending the reputation of Ulysses Grant against the Confederate revisionists and Ray-gun idolators.

Looking at school department records from the 1920s and 1930s - school nurses took note of underweight, under-nourished poor children. Now those poor children are fat, and the media are having  a tut-tut frenzy. Mrs Grundy is sure she knows what the problem is, and how to solve it.

11 Mar 2010 "Rep. Alan Grayson came to the House Floor today to introduce the Public Option Act, which would allow all Americans to buy into Medicare at cost. The bill is 4 pages long, and calls for an unsubsidized option for any American to choose Medicare over private insurers. ..."
    Okay, it makes sense at first, but then I wonder, how would that actually get calculated? Insurers have risk pools, because different groups have different risks and therefore different costs/prices. How would the government do that? And how exactly does a government calculate "cost"?
    A recent Kathleen Parker column (?) (that I can't find online now) claims that the current version of the "health care reform" bill extends the Nebraska, Florida, Louisiana bribes to cover many more places, for much longer. And Pelosi has buried the single-payer concept. While the insurers are raising premiums by double digits all round. To me, the "reform" has become just an example of corruption-by-compromise, which will do nothing useful. And Faux News lies, lies, lies.
death panels    Meanwhile, the tea-baggers are gathering steam, claiming to be for fiscal responsibilty and to be unlike the Dems and Reps. Who can argue with that? But behind that veneer, they vear off into all sorts of wing-nuttery of religion, libertarianism, states' rights, racism and gun droolery (see 'Oath Keepers' below). They seem incapable of understanding what "the government(s)" does(do) for them, or how it gets paid for. A relative emailed a teabagger rant to me a few days ago, full of complaints about the government. Yet the husband has a very secure government job, with phenomenal vacation time, pension plan and health insurance. And another relative sent a popular far-right rant by "Michael Connelly, Retired attorney, Constitutional Law Instructor, Carrollton, Texas" about thow "ObamaCare" was unConstitutional for several reasons  — yet as far as I seen, even the worst wackos in Congress and the Supreme Court are not making those arguments [2 weeks later, yes the pols are, now]. Connelly's supposed qualifications and background are invisible to Google.

    I have my own states' rights scheme. Massachusetts contributes far more to the Feds than it gets back, as do several other states. Yet the worst (most red-neck and corrupt) politicians are from the states that get far more than they contribute. So I propose a Constitutional amendment requiring that states get back at least 95% of what they contribute, with borrowed money spent in the same proportions, with a 3/5 majority required for each override, except in case of Congressionally declared war. It would include all expentitures and revenues. What would that do for pork projects, agriculture and business subsidies? I have no idea how that would be applied to multi-state and international companies.

You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them. — Ray Bradbury

Whatever happened to the nutter obsession of a few years ago with music lyrics, and playing records backwards?

It would be interesting to have an IMAX movie about sailing the Straits of Magellen. But I'd get seasick.

History is mostly guessing; the rest is prejudice. Will and Ariel Durant (1885-1981) (1898-1981)
It is always too little, or too late, or both. And that is the road to disaster David Lloyd George (1863-1945)

3 Mar 2010
BOSTON — (AP)  The state Senate voted Tuesday to ban text messaging while driving and to require motorists 75 and older to undergo regular cognitive and physical screenings. ...

Some of the fiercest debate came over the question of mandating tests for older drivers. The Senate bill would require drivers ages 75 to 80 to pass cognitive and physical tests. Drivers older than 80 would have to pass the tests every three years. Initially the tests were to be conducted at the Registry of Motor Vehicles, but senators decided instead to have the RMV create a form and allow a driver's doctor conduct the tests. The House bill would require vision tests at the RMV every five years for drivers 75 and older.
Sen. Gale D. Candaras, D-Wilbraham, said targeting older drivers is “plainly age discrimination,” especially when older drivers would have to pay up to a $30 fee for tests that younger drivers would not be required to take. “This section creates a presumption that persons 75 or older are threats behind the wheel,” said Candaras. She also warned that the bill would turn “active seniors into shut-ins” by denying them access to cars.
It creates the possibility of testing drivers likely to have faltering driving skills. As for "turn[ing] “active seniors into shut-ins” by denying them access to cars," if they can't pass a test administered by their own doctors, they damn well should NOT be on the road.

23 Feb 2010
The software for HP 6500 OfficeJet all-in-one is crappy, crappy, crappy. It crashes for no obvious reason, requiring hours' worth of time and aggravation to fix. Apparently it conflicts with other standard apps, like Adobe. All I'm trying to do is scan a line drawing.  It sux, sux, sux.
The drawing:
wider crap

9 Feb 2010 pandering pols and brain-dead fishermen
The Congressional act that is the legal backbone of U.S. fisheries management came under fire this week, as U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, and U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., requested an independent review of the science that supports the current timelines for rebuilding fish stocks.

In a letter sent Tuesday to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration administrator Jane Lubchenco, Snowe and Frank referred to the 1996 Magnuson-Stevens fishing act requirement that fish stocks be rebuilt within 10 years as an "arbitrary timeline" not based in science.

They asked Lubchenco to request an independent study by the National Academy of Science looking at the scientific justification for the 10-year mandate, at the feasibility of restoring all fish stocks simultaneously and the impact of non-fishing factors like climate change.

In an e-mail response to questions from the Times yesterday, Frank also called the rebuilding period "rigid" and "excessively punitive. Flexibility is needed to mitigate socioeconomic impacts to fishing communities and the businesses that rely on commercial fishing," Frank wrote.
The fishermen, including generations of my ancestors, spent 400 years destroying the fishing stocks, moving further and further off-shore, going deeper and deeper, to less and less desirable species. Now, when the government makes a slow start at restoring stock health, they still scream.
The basic law in question was passed 14 years ago. Nothing much has improved, and the government is trying something else, which seems to have worked in other parts of the country.

18 feb 2010
Pro-torture teabagger Sen. Scott Brown expresses sympathy for, or solidarity with, with the Austin terrorist. What's next - a statue of Timothy McVeigh, a postage stamp for a KKK anniversary?

                 the neocon wet dream
Diana Rigg
the incomparable Diana Rigg,
just because                    

18 Feb 2010, from Pharyngula: Christopher Maloney is a quack.
"Maloney is a naturopath in the state of Maine, where quacks like him get to call themselves "doctors". These so-called "doctors" get to make recommendations like this, in which he disparages standard flu vaccines and suggests these useless prescriptions:

Parents waiting for vaccinations can provide their children with black elderberry, which blocks the H1N1 virus. A single garlic capsule daily cuts in half the incidence and the severity of a flu episode for children.

There's another way you can tell he's a quack. When a student, Michael Hawkins, dared to criticize him, pointing out that "Naturopathic medicine is pure bull" and stating that naturopaths are underqualified and do not deserve the title of "doctor," [Andreas Moritz] took action to silence him. After all, we can't have people questioning quacks — that just makes them look even more ridiculous, which could lead to a loss of business."

18 Feb 2010 Andreas Moritz is a cancer quack
        Posted on: February 18, 2010, by PZ Myers

"The Prime Quack has been identified: Andreas Moritz. He has admitted to getting Wordpress to pull Michael Hawkins' blog, and is also threatening me, now. ...
Moritz is a cancer quack. He is an evil man who takes advantage of others' pain for his own profit.
Here's what he says about cancer.
Cancer has always been an extremely rare illness, except in industrialized nations during the past 40-50 years. Human genes have not significantly changed for thousands of years. Why would they change so drastically now, and suddenly decide to kill scores of people? The answer to this question is amazingly simple: Damaged or faulty genes do not kill anyone. Cancer does not kill a person afflicted with it! What kills a cancer patient is not the tumor, but the numerous reasons behind cell mutation and tumor growth. These root causes should be the focus of every cancer treatment, yet most oncologists typically ignore them. Constant conflicts, guilt and shame, for example, can easily paralyze the body's most basic functions, and lead to the growth of a cancerous tumor. "[continues]

Ted Rall - park
                                bench boys are stupid

Republicans, hypocrisy and politics
  The Republicans get to benefit from the current financial problems in all ways:
     The get to keep the loot they stole under Bush.
     Their bankers and investors get to keep the loot they steal/stole from us during the bailouts, while the politicians wail (but in fact do nothing).
     If the Dems had refused to vote for the bailouts Bush wanted, they would be blamed for the crash.
     They get to blame Obama (and Clinton), even though it was obviously the Bush administration's policies that caused it. (Yes the Dems were complicit, and some Repubs possibly acted responsibly.)
     When the economy gets better, they get to say it would have happened anyway, or even faster without the Dems.
     They get to bring home the pork projects they voted against, and still complain about waste and fraud.

Guy Fawkes. "The last man to go into parliament with either an honest motive or a workable plan for carrying it out. And we burn him in effigy."
Guy Fawkes
Remember, remember the fifth of November,
The gunpowder treason and plot,
I see no reason
Why the gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot.

Bush war criminal
Hell, no.


2D Goggles
                  barnacles2D Goggles Dangerous Adventures in Comics
     The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage
              Steam-punk comics and blog.

12 Feb: Darwin Day
Darwin's Lurid Theory
February 5, 2010
FBI wants records kept of Web sites visited
by Declan McCullagh,
WASHINGTON —The FBI is pressing Internet service providers to record which Web sites customers visit and retain those logs for two years, a requirement that law enforcement believes could help it in investigations of child pornography and other serious crimes.

FBI Director Robert Mueller supports storing Internet users' "origin and destination information," a bureau attorney said at a federal task force meeting on Thursday.

As far back as a 2006 speech, Mueller had called for data retention on the part of Internet providers, and emphasized the point two years later when explicitly asking Congress to enact a law making it mandatory. But it had not been clear before that the FBI was asking companies to begin to keep logs of what Web sites are visited, which few if any currently do.
Motta pointed to a 2006 resolution from the International Association of Chiefs of Police, which called for the "retention of customer subscriber information, and source and destination information for a minimum specified reasonable period of time so that it will be available to the law enforcement community."

Recording what Web sites are visited, though, is likely to draw both practical and privacy objections.

"We're not set up to keep URL information anywhere in the network," said Drew Arena, Verizon's vice president and associate general counsel for law enforcement compliance.

And, Arena added, "if you were do to deep packet inspection to see all the URLs, you would arguably violate the Wiretap Act."


What remains unclear are the details of what the FBI is proposing. The possibilities include requiring an Internet provider to log the Internet protocol (IP) address of a Web site visited, or the domain name such as, a host name such as, or the actual URL

Faux "News" and the drug-addled clowns are pretending that the climate is not changing, because it snowed in DC.
climate change Pett

    It is because it is more egotistical that the patriotism of the American is more easily roused and more easily affronted. He has been educated to despise all other countries and to look upon his own as the first in the world; he has been taught that all other nations are slaves to despots and that the American citizen only is free, and this is never contradicted. For although thousands may in their own hearts fFaux Newseel the falsehood of their assertions, there is not one who will venture to express his opinion. The government sets the example, the press follows it, and the people receive the incense of flattery, which in other countries is offered to the court alone, and if it were not for the occasional compunctions and doubts, which his real good sense will sometimes visit him with, the more enlightened American would be happy in his own delusions, as the majority most certainly may be said to be. . . . (p. 442-3), Capt. Frederick Marryat, A Diary in America, with remarks on its Institutions, 1838
Limbaugh oxycontin whore

7 Feb 2010
We were in Providence for a meeting, but had time to kill and shopping to do, so we went to the Providence Mall. Nice mall, as such things go, but a horrible, horrible parking garage. Then we were back on the streets, with no signs to clue us in about where to turn next. Ended up quite lost, late for the meeting, but found a police cruiser with two cops, who wrote very careful and accurate directions to get us there. Maps would have worked eventually, but there's nothing like expert help.
Providence is slightly smaller than Worcester, but seems much more impressive. The government buildings are a big factor in that, as in Albany. The area around Brown Univ. that we visited is nice, with its late 19th-Century houses.

8 Feb 2010 Jacob Weisberg in Slate:
Down With the People: Blame the childish, ignorant American public—not politicians—for our political and economic crisis
   In trying to explain why our political paralysis seems to have gotten so much worse over the past year, analysts have rounded up a plausible collection of reasons including: President Obama's tactical missteps, the obstinacy of congressional Republicans, rising partisanship in Washington, the blustering idiocracy of the cable-news stations, and the Senate filibuster, which has devolved into a super-majority threshold for any important legislation. These are all large factors, to be sure, but that list neglects what may be the biggest culprit in our current predicament: the childishness, ignorance, and growing incoherence of the public at large.
   At the root of this kind of self-contradiction is our historical, nationally characterological ambivalence about government. We want Washington and the states to fix all of our problems now. At the same time, we want government to shrink, spend less, and reduce our taxes. We dislike government in the abstract: According to CNN, 67 percent of people favor balancing the budget even when the country is in a recession or a war, which is madness. But we love government in the particular: Even larger majorities oppose the kind of spending cuts that would reduce projected deficits, let alone eliminate them. Nearly half the public wants to cancel the Obama stimulus, and a strong majority doesn't want another round of it. But 80-plus percent of people want to extend unemployment benefits and to spend more money on roads and bridges. There's another term for that stuff: more stimulus spending.
   The politicians thriving at the moment are the ones who embody this live-for-the-today mentality, those best able to call for the impossible with a straight face. Take Scott Brown, the newly elected Senator from Massachusetts. Brown wants government to take in less revenue: He has signed a no-new-taxes pledge and called for an across-the-board tax cut on families and businesses. But Brown doesn't want government to spend any less money: He opposes reductions in Medicare payments and all other spending cuts of any significance. He says we can lower deficits above 10 percent of GDP—the largest deficits since World War II, deficits so large that they threaten our future as the world's leading military and economic power—simply by cutting government waste. No sensible person who has spent five minutes looking at the budget thinks that's remotely possible. The charitable interpretation is that Brown embodies naive optimism, an approach to politics that Ronald Reagan left as one of his more dubious legacies to Republican Party. A better explanation is that Brown is consciously pandering to the public's ignorance and illusions the same way the rest of his Republican colleagues are.

never forget1 Feb 2010, Christopher Hitchens in Slate
A Nation of Racist Dwarfs: Kim Jong-il's regime is even weirder and more despicable than you thought.

Teen Pregnancies, Births, and Abortions Increase
By Peggy Peck, Executive Editor, MedPage Today
Published: January 26, 2010     

After a decade of decline, the rate of teenage pregnancies increased by 3% in 2006 as 750,000 women younger than 20 became pregnant, according to a report released by the Guttmacher Institute. The pregnancy rate was 71.5 pregnancies per 1,000 girls ages 15-19 ... And as pregnancies increased, so did births  — 41.9 births per 1,000 U.S. teenage girls, which was 4% higher than in 2005  — and abortions, which increased by 1% from 2005 to 2006.

In a prepared statement, Planned Parenthood blamed abstinence-only sex education programs for the uptick. "It is a tragedy that after a decade of progress in reducing the rate of teenage pregnancy we are witnessing a substantial increase in the number of teens who are getting pregnant," Planned Parenthood said.

In a statement released last May in conjunction with the "National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy" the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), agreed that comprehensive sex education was likely to be more effective than abstinence-only programs. "Abstinence works for some teens, but the idea that most teens will wait to have sex indefinitely is rigid and impractical," said Richard S. Guido, MD, chair of the ACOG's Committee on Adolescent Health Care.

But the Guttmacher report suggested that the reasons for increase may be more complex, including "shifts in the racial and ethnic composition of the population, increases in poverty, the growth of abstinence-only sex education programs at the expense of comprehensive programs, and changes in public perception and attitudes toward both teenage and unintended pregnancy."

Among black teenagers the pregnancy rate was 126.3 per 1,000 versus 44 per 1,000 non-Hispanic white teenagers.

A breakdown by state revealed that New Mexico had the highest teenage pregnancy rate, followed by Nevada, Arizona, Texas, and Mississippi. Conversely, the lowest teenage pregnancy rate was in New Hampshire  — 33 pregnancies per 1,000  — followed by Vermont, Maine, Minnesota, and North Dakota. Texas had the highest rate of births to teenage mothers  — 62 per 1,000  — and New York had the highest rate of abortions among teenagers, 41 per 1,000.
21 Jan 2010: The US Supreme Court endorses political corruption. Olbermann's scenario part 1part 2

Leftist ideas on Haitian history are as stupid, insane and unrealistic as the righties'.

What you see is news, what you know is background, what you feel is opinion.  — Lester Markel (1894-1977)

Scott Brown teabaggerJan 2010
Scott Brown trounced Martha Coakley, to become our new Senator. The Democrats and "moderate" chattering class are wailing that now now nothing progressive will get done. Somehow it doesn't matter that the Dems still have 58 members in the Senate, and that Dim Bush pushed through his agenda with a slim majority just a few years ago.

Why did Coakley lose? Obama hasn't overcome the Bush disaster. Coakely assumed she'd win handily, then campaigned badly. Coakley was the leader in the Fells Acres daycare travesty of justice. The reichwing hate machine lied, lied, lied. Brown is handsome and articulate (even though nearly everything he says is ridiculous.)

So the minority party, strong supporters of torture, militarism and unjustified war, suppression of civil rights, bad education, income disparity, superstition and government handouts to their base, prevents any action by the majority party, strong supporters of superstition and handouts to its base, and tacit supporters of torture, militarism and unjustified war, suppression of civil rights, bad education and income disparity.
Rackjite on Brown, and again,
"Oh, one more thing. He was not only a Birther, but even worse. Brown was one of the main whack-jobs to push the theory that...."Obama was born out of wedlock!""

24 Oct 2009  The Worcester Telegram ran a puff piece on the treasonous wing-nuts who call themselves Oath Keepers.
brown shirtsFollowup:

Crooks and Liars
Thursday January 21, 2010 06:00 am
'Oath Keepers' Leader Arrested for Child Rape; Cops Find Stolen Grenade Launcher In His House
By Susie Madrak

     We first noticed Marine Sgt. Charles Dyer, aka "July4Patriot," back in March, when we ran one of the first reports on the "Oath Keepers" bloc of the Tea Party movement  — an organization devoted to recruiting military and police-force veterans into a Patriot-movement belief system predicated on a series of paranoid conspiracy theories, especially the notion that the federal government intends to begin rounding up citizens and putting them in concentration camps.
     Dyer played a prominent role in connecting the Oath Keepers to the Tea Party movement, speaking at a July 4 Tea Party rally in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. And he's been involved in organizing militia "maneuvers" in Oklahoma.
     Dyer cropped up again in the news  — this time in the police blotter for allegedly raping a 7-year-old girl:
An ex-military man has been arrested on charges of rape of a child and forcible sodomy.
     Charles Alan Dyer, 29, of Marlow, was arrested Tuesday afternoon by Stephens County Sheriff’s deputies, said Sheriff Wayne McKinney. Dyer served in the United States Marines in Iraq.
Oh, and guess what police found when they searched his home:
During the search the sheriff’s deputies noted several firearms and a device believed to be a Colt M-203, 40-millimeter grenade launcher, a complaint filed in the United States District Court of Western Oklahoma by Alcohol, Firearms and Tobacco Special Agent Brett Williams said.
As the story from KAUZ-TV notes, Dyer had a history of making bizarre claims in his videos  — as well as violent fears of being arrested.
“We come home and those bastards want to talk about how we’re domestic terrorists and a threat to this country. It makes me so angry,” said Charles Dyer, who has been accused of committing rape.
     ... More incriminating evidence against Dyer has surfaced in a YouTube video. The video shows Dyer, a former U.S. Marine, talking proudly about domestic terrorism. “Join the military?”, said Dyer. “Depends on what you want to do with it. Me? I'm going to use my training and become one of those domestic terrorists that you’re so afraid of from the DHS reports.”
     ... “I’m certainly not going to be hiding from my command anymore. I’m not hiding from ATF. Not hiding from FBI. Any organization. If they want to come get me I’m not going to be afraid,” Dyer said.
     “Patriots, we are not overpowered. If we united under one banner and fight for our children’s liberity and the constitution, our resolve is invincible to any standing army,” Dyer said.
GossipBoy is reporting that the rape victim was a close family member. They also report that Dyer had been in touch with a fellow militiaman linked to explosives dealing, and that when bomb-sniffing dogs searched Dyer's home, they indicated explosives had been stored there recently.
     Meanwhile, unsurprisingly, the folks at American Resistance Movement  — a group Dyer was also prominently involved in  — are claiming that Dyer was set up, and the girl who accused him was "programmed" to do so. Accordingly, they've set up a "Free July4Patriot" fund, with a little button on their front page so you can donate.
     Also, Dyer's YouTube page remains active.
     Every movement attracts its freaks. But the Patriot movement attracts an inordinate number of them  — and particularly people with a pedophilia problem. (I can list at least 10 different prominent figures in the Northwest's Patriot movement in the 1990s who had a history of being charged with abusing and abducting children.) Evidently, being a pedophile leads to resentment of the government  — probably for its desire to lock you away.

consumer comments

"Savers" is a new chain of used clothing (and random stuff) stores. I'm impressed. And there are the Salvation Army storees, as well.

We just discovered Horseneck Beach in Westport, Mass. It seem to be the closest ocean beach to us, about 90 min. Parking is $7, the bathhouses are new, the beach is long and wide and clean, the waves are fairly big. You can't use boogy boards in the lifeguarded area, but can walk beyond that. And Handy Hill Creamery is on the way, on Rt 88, with good ice cream, fast and friendly service.

Stewart's is a NY chain of gas stations/convenience stores. We are quite impressed, compared to the Mass. chains. They are clean, spacious, with good prices, light food service and ice cream, booths to eat and read at, toilets.

My wireless Logitech mouse died, and apparently they don't make similar ones now. It ate batteries, but a wonderful feature was tha built-in volume control. Nothing similar is available at Bestbuy.

Boston Public Library ( supposedly has huge digital resources online, but I find the system awkward to use, buggy, with unhelpful staff, and often no usable results. Today, it doesn't matter what I want, the answer is:
This document is not available due to either:
     - the document is outside of your library's subscription, or
     - the document is very recent and is currently being loaded - please try again later.
[I'm logged in directly, and looking for Boston and New York info from 1896-1953.]
(Jul 2010, and other times) [Unsatisfactory answer: BPL is arguing with ProQuest about paying for service.]
Walgreens has fairly cheap photo developing, but its web site does not give prices for film processing, or even indicate thay can do it, only having prices for digital printing and related services. A moron at the phone help desk couldn't understand the situation. The actual store employees are always helpful. July 2010

I was pleasantly surprised to find that Clark Color Labs still exists, and has very good prices, and will develop my obsolete 110 film.
We still have a couple of dozen rolls of print film, and several disposable 35mm cameras, a fairly good 35 mm SLR, a cheap 35mm panoramic camera, reloadable very cheap 35mm cameras that originally were intended for underwater use, and a 40-year-old 110 camera with one film cassette left. And a disc camera for which there is no film, and several defunct 35mm cameras, and defunct digital cameras, ...
We have have had a number of digital cameras with very short lives - a bit of dust jams them fatally (as does major shock.) Digital is enormously convenient when it works, except for the shutter lag time, and the inability to see the screen in bright light. But they are fragile, and eat batterys.

22 jun 2010 advertising scam: betterlinkadvertising

I hate dropdown lists.
I hate web site dropdown country lists that start with "Albania." That's just incompetent design. First of all, the site should know what country you are connecting from. Even if not, it should offer the most likely countries first.
I especially hate US dropdown lists for states. Yes, the "M" states are confusing, but the zip code is completely sufficient, and always needs to be included as well. And if the lists must exist, let them fully open.

I needed a few feet of fine fishing line for a craft project, and was resigned to buying a small reel with a life-time supply. But the clerk at Dick's Sporting Goods asked what I actually wanted, and offered me several thicknesses, and cut off a long piece for free. Nice!

When Honey Farms and Cumberland Farms has "2 for $x" items, they really do enforce the single price when I want just one bag, bottle, etc. I don't think that's true at the supermarkets, but could check. That's obnoxious.

Once again, I note that the compact fluorescent "bulbs" last a small fraction of their alleged lifetime. Expensive, supposedly dimmable bulbs lasted less than a year, infrequently used, rarely dimmed. I look forward to LED lights taking over the market, or some newer, safe technology. So far LEDs are expensive, but the prices are dropping and the uses expanding.

Why do computer monitors burn out quickly? Our regular TVs are more than 25 years old, and one is watched several hours per day. But several monitors have died in under 5 years, including a Dell flatscreen in about 1 year.
CD drives in computers and boom-boxes also die quickly, usually with very, very light use  — we have lost several.

Media Monkey works much better than iTunes to organize and play our music files. The free version is sufficient for me. is a source of relatively cheap mp3s, but it hijacks FireFox with its own unauthorized toolbar. And it lacks much of  the music I would like to have.

AVG is good, free anti-virus software, but it also inserts an extra, annoying toolbar into FireFox, apparently without permission.

We have a new HP OfficeJet 6500 all-in-one printer/scanner. It calls for its installation CD after every reboot of the PC. That's crappy software design. The software is crappy, crappy, crappy. It crashes for no obvious reason, requiring hours' worth of time and aggravation to fix. Apparently it conflicts with other standard apps, like Adobe. All I'm trying to do is scan a line drawing.  It sux, sux, sux.
Latest annoyance: it is printing things a day after it was supposed to, and printed out a form with word salad!
March - had to uninstall and reinstall again to get it to do anything. This takes at least an hour, with reboots to finish both uninstalling and installing, after going through the hours of mess of trying to figure out where the problem is. And the uninstall froze too.
October - It printed several pages 24 hours after the Print order, as well as several other pages (overlapping sets!) only 8 hours late.

I had some hundreds or even thousands of image, music, doc and pdf files that were frozen - they could not be opened, moved, renamed or deleted. After trying several products, and asking advice of friends and online for years, I finally found Unlocker Assistant, freeware that works. Image and music files just need to be renamed or moved within a hard drive, usually. Pdf files were more of a problem, but I finally discovered that what works is to move them to another drive. The only problem is that Unlocker Assistant does not remember which locations to move things to. The early version would only move one file at a time, but the latest can move many files at once, and sometimes whole folders. (Jan 2010)

Nov 2009 - Travelodge, Latham, NY
Cheap ($54) and really shabby. Bad directions.

Mar 2010 - rue Sherbrooke, Centreville, Montreal
moderate weekday price, clean, helpful staff, desk lamp has a non-working switch requiring the wall plug to be inserted/pulled and it was not fixed, tub drained badly, next to Metro but not in heart of Latin Quarter as claimed, crappy coffee maker, CRT TV with few channels

May 2010 - -- Latham, NY
Cheap ($45), comfortable, clean, modern. One night --didn't even turn the TV on.

good service, bad service
Comments welcome, dumb ones subject to posting.
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