... and then I found five dollars
A society without religion
past years' ramblings
rants, quotes, politics, pictures
5 nov 2012
Mencken, on colleges and sports:
College football would be much more interesting if the faculty played instead of the students, and even more interesting if the trustees played. There would be a great increase in broken arms, legs and necks, and simultaneously an appreciable diminution in the loss to humanity.
“Fringe theories proliferate because the status of science is high and is something worthy of imitating,” Gordin writes. “They are a sign of health, not disease.” His optimism is convincing and appreciated. We need a good prognosis now more than ever. TNR review
20 oct 2012
Among the other figures for whom Gere traces out Minoan connections and coincidences, the biographical material on Robert Graves is particularly striking. Graves, like Harrison, lamented the transition from matriarchy to patriarchy in his Minoan-themed best-seller of 1948, The White Goddess, but in this he was apparently influenced by the years he spent in erotic thrall to the unbalanced American poet Laura Riding, who magnificently declared herself a figure of destiny named "Finality." Graves threw himself out a third-story window on Finality’s behalf but survived to write Goodbye to All That.
snollygoster, n. 1. a mythical beast that preys on poultry and children; 2. A shrewd person not guided by principles, especially a politician.22 sep 2012
This won't end well: Iranian Cult Is No Longer Officially a Terrorist Group
by Spencer Ackerman, Danger Room at Wired.com
Washington’s favorite Iranian terrorist group has likely won. By a forthcoming edict of the State Department, you can now no longer call the Mujahideen-e Khalq — formerly Saddam Hussein’s proxies against the Iranian regime — a terrorist organization. Erasing its status as a cult is a different story.And Massachusetts is not immune to greed/ fundy nuttery, but now the bad guys have a new beachhead here, a for-profit christian college.
"Beneath the mysterious waters of the Sea of Japan, strange symbolic artworks have been spontaneously appearing — intricate mandalas, six feet in diameter, dot the sandy bottom. What could they mean?" Pharyngula
20 sep 2012 Nicholas D. Kristof on Republican echo-chamber whiners and kooks
Kristof mentions a recent major Dartmouth poll, but his link doesn't work. However, it is here. On foreign policy questions, Dem, Rep and Ind respondents basically agreed, though the direction of differences was easily predictable.
A message from Ronny and Nancy
19 sep 2012
A Conservative History of the United States, Jack Hitt, New Yorker
1775: New Hampshire starts the American Revolution: “What I love about New Hampshire… You’re the state where the shot was heard around the world.”—Michele BachmannGeorge Will occasionally says something interesting:
“The great superstition of American politics concerns presidential power and during a presidential year that reaches an apogee and it becomes national narcissism: Anything that happens anywhere in the world, we caused or we could cure with a tweak of presidential rhetoric,” George Will, 16 sep 2012
The right wing believes in "American exceptialism," a term derived from Alexis de Tocqueville's 2-volume Democracy in America (1835 and 1840).
Chris Rodda, at This Week in Christian Nationalism, notes that de Toqueville was not being complimentary, that he was describing an arrogance that Americans learned from our own propaganda. Tocqueville wrote that he did not know of any country where there was "less independence of mind, and true freedom of discussion, than in America." Wiki
7 sep 2012
The Telegram is our city newspaper, and serves the surrounding towns. It has had a right-wing slant for decades, despite being owned now by the NYT. It does have some good columnists, though, including Clive McFarlane. Today he wrote "Voters find uninvited guests at poll," about "observers" during the primary election yesterday. A pair of "observers," a Teabagger and her lawyer, was said to be harassing voters at a minority-heavy precinct in Worcester, and this was confirmed by city officials. The Teabagger does not even live in town (and the lawyer is not identified.)
So far there are well over 100 comments, a high number. Our local infestation of teabaggers parrots the party line about voter fraud, despite the lack of such fraud byvoters, and contrasting with the massive suppression of voting rights by Republican legislatues in several states.
New Orleans Levees Hold, and Outsiders Want InHow many of these people will vote for Republicans, "to get the government off their backs"? Lots of them.
Browsers: I use 4 browsers, because all have features the others don't (as far as I am willing or able to tinker with them.)
Opera has been my main browser for several years. It integrates mail, contact lists, notes, and one-click name/password pasting. It has always had mouse gestures that work well, and I can't stand using browsers that don't use them. It displays some pages badly, won't play some videos, won't work with some secure sites. It's download function often doesn't work. It's relatively easy to find and change settings (I like being able to turn cookies on and off). It has a "find in page" box as part of the tool bar, that I use all the time. The slide-bar for magnification is great.
Firefox seems to be the only browser that easily downloads Flash videos and folders of images from pages of thumbnails (using Download Helper plugin.) It's FireFTP plugin is simple, and there is nothing like it for Opera or Chrome. There are many plugins, most of which I don't use, but I use Mouse Gestures all the time, and DownLoadHelper. It asks to remember passwords, but doesn't seem to make them accessible next time.
SeaMonkey is similar to FireFox, but without most of the plugins. I mostly use it for the built-in HTML editor.
Chrome seems to be a standard for proper web page display, yet displays some text poorly. It's plugins are tightly integrated with Google. It's settings are obscure, as is the Bookmark list It also allows mouse gestures, though that doesn't work well.
I never use Chat with any of them. I use Vuze for torrent downloads. I never use IE, unless an application opens it.
4 sep 2012
The news says that the Dems have gone weak on climate change in their national platform, while of course the Rethugs continue to deny and mock. "Obama has reduced oil imports by 10%" but I assume that's mostly due to the weak economy. And the big energy extractors give all their bribes to the Rethugs and Blue Dogs.
I don't know whether this list is completely accurate, but it's interesting and important:
So as we take this three day holiday, let us not forget or take for granted that labor unions made it possible, as well as these other benefits:
Small sample size, but milk from the supermarket has a longer fridge life than milk from Walgreens.
A family size tube of toothpaste lasts me about 10 months.
I updated Facebook for the first time in months.
The superstitious community is fascinated by a squabble among atheists.
Amusing: Suit to recover money for old Romney family debt
"William Jordan Flake and Miles P Romney “were patriarchs of adjoining Mormon communities in the high, cold, hard country of northern Arizona, a region known as Apache County”. Although both men ran into trouble with local communities over their “scandalous practice of polygamy”, Flake was a “deeply respected man”, according to Freeman. Romney, on the other hand, was described by one newspaper editor as “a mass of putrid pus and rotten goose pimples; a skunk, with the face of a baboon, the character of a louse, the breath of a buzzard and the record of a perjurer and common drunkard.”
2 sep 2012
Short nature videos with wonderful shots in close-up and time-lapse.
Bain, Romney, extortion and tax evasionThe Pirate Bay founder arrested in Cambodia, while banksters walk free. Steal from the corporations = bad. Steal from everyone else = good.
1 sep 2012 Investigation of potential kayak route in Worcester, Mass.
The maps show water connections among a series of ponds, reservoirs and brooks on the west side of Worcester (coming from surrounding towns), gradually making their way to the Blackstone River. How far can they be kayaked? I began an exploration on foot, walking along Beaver Brook, and around Coes Reservoir and Coes Pond, which drain to Beaver Brook, then becomes Middle River further along in Worcester.
The upper part of Beaver Brook is underground. Beaver Brook Parkway runs along its west side, from May St to Park Ave. The brook emerges at Maywood St, crosses under Park Ave and Beaver St, and merges with the short brook draining Coes Pond. As it emerges at Maywood St, it may not be boatable (late summer), but further along kayaking would be easy. Access is a problem, with an overgrown steep bank on both sides and houses along the east side. Not scenic, either (I expect).
Coes Reservoir runs NNW-SSE. It's a good sized lake, about 1/4 by 3/4 miles, mostly wooded on its eastern and northern sides, and with houses and Mill St along its western side. The dam is the southern side, and it drains to Coes Pond. There are 4 small wooded islands. According to the street map, water comes from "Williams Millpond," which on aerial photos is completely overgrown. Coes has a siltation problem as well. Boating would be easy on the reservoir. There are public beaches on the southeast at Culumbus Park (not explored), and on the southwest at Coes Pond Beach.
The spillway to Coes Pond is a steep incline of rock and concrete, possibly walkable, but the stream is a trickle among large rocks. Access is not possible from Lakeside Ave, with a large locked fence. There is no public vehicle access to the dam. At his season very little water is exiting. Coes Pond is a shallow, weedy pond with another dam at its exit. Access is possible along Coes St and from commercial lots at Coes St & Park Ave. I did not explore along Lakeside Ave, which runs along the other side. The stream draining into and out of Coes Pond is a trickle among large rocks. The stream goes under Park Ave and merges with Beaver Brook.
Beaver Brook further down runs in a concrete gutter - to be explored further.
31 aug 2012
Police investigate massive maple syrup theft30 aug 2012
Even a Fox employee was aware that Paul Ryan is a serial liar:
29 aug 2012 Paul Krugman on Romney/Ryan and the convention:... to anyone paying the slightest bit of attention to facts, Ryan’s speech was an apparent attempt to set the world record for the greatest number of blatant lies and misrepresentations slipped into a single political speech. On this measure, while it was Romney who ran the Olympics, Ryan earned the gold.
The GOP campaign is based on five main themes, three negative and two positive.
28 aug 2012 Thinking of repressive Russian actions in particular, but the world in general: There are so many important things worthy of attention, yet in a big, big world many of them are "dog bites man," and nearly passed over.
Another one: Israel cleared over Gaza activist death
"Israel was not at fault for the death of US activist Rachel Corrie, killed in Gaza by an Israeli army bulldozer in 2003, an Israeli court rules."
Nine years to reach a predetermined verdict.
You're So Bain
At The New York Times, Thom Shanker reports:
The Ten Best Reasons To Be A Religious Missionary In France During The Viet Nam War -
watch more funny videos
26 aug 2012
Obama still doesn't get it: Republicans Will Be Willing To Deal In My Second Term
I may vote Green.
“Listen, here’s the thing about politics: It’s not an expression of your moral purity and your ethics and your probity and your fond dreams of some utopian future. Progressive people constantly fail to get this.” -- Tony Kushner
"We offer a range of services that provide our clients with a one-stop shop for their outsource requirements."25 aug 2012
Kayaked a couple miles of the Swift River in Belchertown with the Worcester Kayaking Meetup. I was late arriving due to relying on the usual shitty internet directions, complicated by lack of road signs, and forgetting that the group leader had posted better directions. The put-in is on Cold Spring Rd in Belchertown. (I arrived via the Pike, but returned on Rte. 9, which is far more interesting.) They waited a while, but I had to catch up. The river here is flatwater, with a significant current at the north end. It's clear and rather cold, seems to go from a few inches deep to 10 ft. The banks are completely wooded, except for the house plots. There is a mix of houses on the lower section, from shacks to nice houses, and some camping sites, and few on the upper section. The river is very popular with trout fishers, and I saw a good number of rainbow? trout. Also dozens of black ducks.
This happened 1 July, but Saginaw officials have just released a video.
NYPD: Empire State Victims Hit by Police Gunfire
Deskarati and Kuriositas are wonderful. Deskarati's headings are Science, Technology, History, Arts, and Others. Kuriositas's headings are Animations, Architecture, Art, Fun, Places, Nature, Sciences, and Movies. I expect there are other sites rather like them, and I hope to find them. Suggestions welcome.
I've been refinishing a dresser, probably made in the 1920s or 1930s. It's made of red oak, with poplar drawer parts and a softwood back. Some fool painted it white, and it's been a bitch getting nearly all the white out of the grain and crevices. The style is plain, Mission-like, and the construction is medium quality. more
20 aug 2012
I've been neglecting this since June, so I'll catch up a bit.
For a long time, the most annoying sounds of summer have been lawnmowers and loud vehicles, especially motorcycles. Now I've got something new at the top of the list: leaf blowers. Their pointless use and intermittent roar annoys the hell out of me. A headline, not pursued, hints that Arlington, Mass. has banned the damned things, at least for summer use.
A few people in the media are finally paying attention to lying swine anti-historian David Barton. His latest book, The Jefferson Lies, was voted "the least credible history book in print" by the users of the History News Network website, so his right-wing religious publisher recalled all copies, and Glen Beck has taken it up. The nutosphrere of course sees him as a brave martyr. Barton's older lies
Dear Ann Romney: Get Off Your High HorseLetter to my mediocre Congresscritter, 28 jul 2012:
It's past time to begin the impeachment of Antonin Scalia. His selective and insane opinions on the Constitution, masquerading as "originalism," are an embarrassment and danger to us all. This weekend he has come out again for banning contraception, and for probably allowing protected ownership of hand-held anti-aircraft missiles (while banning axes.) This has got to stop.
(Also sent to Kerry and Brown.)
"When Fascism came to America, it was wrapped in excess body fat & carrying a misspelled sign."
The new robber barons: how taxpayers subsidize CEOs’ multimillion salaries
simpleton, fool. birdbrain, blockhead, bonehead, boob, buffoon, clod, clown, cretin, dimwit, dolt, dope, dunce, dunderhead, fathead, idiot, ignoramus, imbecile, jerk, lamebrain, lunkhead, moron, nitwit, numskull, oaf, stooge, teatard
I got into a silly argument with a PC crowd on Pharyngula about using the term "retarded." It's a term I essentially never use, myself, but it's a common insult. Someone posted a comment, using the nym "totallyretarded," and got jumped on. Pharyngula allows all sort of insults based on education and intelligence, but there is a loud clique that objects just to "retard" and "retarded." I pointed out that all sorts of synonyms are allowed, with some frequently used there, and that "retarded" is a relatively new euphemism for the older terms. One commenter, at least partially on my side, noted that while "retard" and "retarded" are schoolyard insults, the terms come from the euphemism "mentally retarded." At least one retard couldn't see that.
11 june 2012
News from the nutosphere: Romney adviser: Obama to blame for public sector job losses - Bay Buchanan
Daughter of war criminal says, "Et tu, Obama." - Liz Cheney
KKK more liberal than Georgia legislature- wants to join "Adopt a highway".
Virginia and North Carolina legislatures outlaw "climate change." - just the words, not the facts. But they'll be whining with both hands out for reconstruction money when reality sets in (but will certainly outlaw the term "reconstruction.)" Meanwhile the developers and their puppets will have moved on.
Haven't heard anything from the flag worshipers for a long time. So many hobby-horses, such short attention spans.
5 may 2008
Creating ignorant zombies: Hagee brainwashing, an excerpt from Matt Taibbi's book, The Great Derangement.
7 jun 2012
A Keen Observer
by Carlo Baldino, Worcester Telegram & Gazette
DELUSIONAL OR NAIVE
I don’t understand it. I just don’t understand it. I bought gas yesterday for $3.51 a gallon. Gas prices are down, and there’s not one word of praise coming from Republicans for President Obama’s role in reducing the cost of driving.
When gas prices were up, they were screaming bloody murder that it was all his fault. He wouldn’t sign on to the Keystone Pipeline, and he wouldn’t go along with the idiotic Republican “drill, baby, drill” solution. Soon gas was going to cost $4 a gallon, and $5 a gallon by summer, and you’d see the American people throw Obama out of office in November so they’d get cheap gas for their roomy, comfortable, high-powered vehicles. Americans are entitled to drive in luxury without worrying about fuel costs. What is this, Europe? You want us to drive a small car with a manual transmission? That’s unpatriotic.
Newt Gingrich promised $2.50 gasoline if he were elected, so just imagine what Willard Romney would do. He knows a lot about the car business, so it’s believable he’d be able to control gasoline prices. After all, he was willing to let GM and Chrysler go bankrupt. He criticized Obama for bailing the auto industry out, and then when it made a comeback he tried to take credit for it. I’m surprised he hasn’t taken credit for today’s lower gas prices, and for the killing of Osama Bin Laden. Wasn’t Romney responsible for landing a man on the moon, too? ...
May 18, 2012
Why Bambi Must Go
By Daniel Cristol, NYT op-ed contributor
THIS month is the peak of spring bird migration, when New Yorkers flock to Central Park, craning their necks to catch a glimpse of refueling warblers.
But the treetops hold fewer feathered gems each spring, to the point that a typical middle-aged bird-watcher now feels triumphant upon seeing a single bay-breasted or Canada warbler, two of the dozens of disappearing species common in our youth.
Humanity’s assault on migratory birds includes a familiar litany of human-made perils — clearing of forests, predation by cats and poisoning by the toxic byproducts of agriculture and industry. But one of the biggest contributors to the decline in migratory bird populations has gone largely unnoticed: white-tailed deer. ...
The real reason that we can’t have the Ten Commandments in a courthouse: You cannot post “Thou shalt not steal,” “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” and “Thou shalt not lie” in a building full of lawyers, judges, and politicians. It creates a hostile work environment. -- George Carlin
Germany's police force: they fired just 85 bullets in all of 2011, and 49 were warning shots.
May 16, 2012
If it's responsible or science-based, the Republicans oppose it:
The Grand Old Party and the Sea, NYT13 may 2012. Apropos of nothing: Pemmican. Stuff I've heard about since my childhood interest in Indians, and then my teen years in Scouts, without knowing details. This is the storage form of meat used by some North American tribes, consisting of dried meat mixed with fat. (There are also fish versions.) It will keep for several years. There are different alleged authentic recipes with adamant supporters, as if there was one recipe used by hundreds of tribes, over hundreds or thousands of years.
Add fish and oceans to the long list of environmental issues that House Republicans do not much care about. Last week, the House voted to deny further financing to a federal program that helps regulate commercial fisheries and has been increasingly important to the recovery of several at-risk species. For good measure, it also killed financing for a worthy effort by the Obama administration to improve the health of America’s coastal waters.
Figures released on Monday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration showed that six fish species — including haddock and summer flounder — had rebounded to sustainable levels over the past year. This good news is in part the result of a strategy called “catch shares,” under which regional fish councils set overall limits on the annual harvest and then apportion the catch among individual fishermen.
Most commercial fishermen support this program, which was strongly backed by President George W. Bush. ...
Some U.S. Fisheries Rebounding
Kieran Mulvaney, Discovery News, 17 may 2012
Six U.S. fish populations were "rebuilt to healthy levels" in 2011, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In its annual report to Congress, NOAA stated that numbers of Bering Sea snow crab, Atlantic coast summer flounder, Gulf of Maine haddock, northern California coast Chinook salmon, Washington coast coho salmon, and Pacific coast widow rockfish were now at "optimum population levels", bringing the number of rebuilt U.S. marine fish populations this century to 27.
In total, NOAA concluded that 36 of 258 populations that were assessed are subject to overfishing - i.e. being fished at too high a level. That's four fewer than in 2010. And 45 of 219 populations are already overfished, a decline of three from 2010 figures.
NOAA's Galen Tromble told the Associated Press that the figures show "we're starting to see the results" of rebuilding plans begun 10-15 years ago.
However, the picture is far from universally rosy. Thirteen of the 45 overfished stocks are in the waters off New England, which is "defying the positive trends." A 2011 assessment of Gulf of Maine cod, which showed that "the linchpin stock of New England's inshore fleet not rebuilding quickly," was not peer-reviewed in time to be included in the report to Congress, but has resulted in a 22 percent reduction in the 2012 quota.
Tromble argued that the New England situation reflected the fact that the fish stocks in that region have been heavily-fished, by both domestic and, for many years, foreign fisheries for a prolonged period relative to the rest of the country.
The consensus recipe is a 1:1 mixture of finely ground/powdered dried lean meat and rendered hard fat. Dried berries are a part of most recipes,which others scorn. Marrow fat is said to have been the favorite for taste, but tallow/suet seems to be the common fat. There are apparently no modern commercial producers of the real thing, perhaps because uncooked meat wouldn't pass government rules.
Buffalo pemmican became a commercial item for the 18th-19th-century Canadian fur trade, and even a factor in fur company-settler-Metis trade wars. I wonder how the rendering could have been efficiently done before European metalware, and therefore whether pemmican was widely used before that. And the tribes were not huge buffalo hunters until they acquired horses...
I had planned to keep careful track of the process, but it stretched over some weeks, one piece at a time.
Beef suet sells for $1.29/lb at the supermarket I diced/fragmented 2.4 lb (1.1 kg) of frozen suet to small pieces, which is easy.
Rendering: It was heated for 2-3 hrs at moderately low heat (with a small amount of water, which is said to inhibit sticking and help the initial melting.) I stirred from time to time. I stopped when the bubbling stopped (the water had boiled off) and all the tissue chunks seemed extracted. I didn't get the "crackling" pieces mentioned by others, but soggy bits instead, and suspect my rendering temperature was low. Result was a bit over 2 pints (1 liter) of honey colored clear oil, which hardens to off-white tallow.
The meat was 2.4 lb (1.2 kg) of 87% lean hamburger. I put it through a hand-cranked meat grinder, but suspect this was pointless. It was dried by spreading on a cookie sheet and heating at 180-200 F several hours. It smelled like cooking meat, and the temp was likely higher than needed or desired. It dried to a rubbery lump stage. This was put into a food processor to turn into granular bits, and dried for an hour or 2 more, to be sure of drying. The result was 210 g of dried meat.
I had intended to try 2 versions - one with blueberries, and one with salt and cayenne. I added 10g freeze-dried blueberries to 105g meat, and mixed in 4 oz (~120g) melted tallow. This was intended to be the 1:1 ratio of solid to tallow generally recommended, but there was clearly far more oil than needed to "just wet" the solids. It took all the rest of the meat granules to get to the "just wet" appearance specified. This was spread in a shallow tray.
To whom it applies:
1 may 2012 Bird cams are soothing to watch. Cornell has this one of a great blue heron nest.
2 may 2012
... But that's not all George Romney did. As Rick Perlstein recalled of Mitt's dad, the Michigan Governor and American Motors magnate (who ironically also met with that infamous community organizer Saul Alinsky):
As a CEO he would give back part of his salary and bonus to the company when he thought they were too high. He offered a pioneering profit-sharing plan to his employees. Most strikingly, asked about the idea that "rugged individualism" was the key to America's success, he snapped back, "It's nothing but a political banner to cover up greed."
C&L 26 apr
24 apr 2012 Insolvency, tax cuts, military spending and social security
Armando, at DailyKos
... It is
as much a lie to say Social Security is "going
bankrupt" or "insolvent" as it is to say the
military is going bankrupt.
One of my major childhood and adolescent activities was making models of ships, planes, spacecraft, and sometimes cars from model kits. I had dozens of them. In fact I still have a few, plastic-wrapped in boxes for decades, one my father started when I was very little, ones my son wasn't interested in, and a big model of the USS Constitution acquired with my house. But the old ones sat in the attic of my parents'' house, gradually getting fragile bits broken off as stuff got moved around now and then, for 40 years. Now that house is my brother's, and he's insulating the attic, and everything needs to get moved out. I was prepared to agonize over which favorite one or two to keep, as I moved box after box downstairs and outside. I pulled them out, and laid them on the grass. I still knew the names of most of the ships, and the aircraft types, and the spacecraft programs. But they were bedraggled, dusty, and I was bemused that I had once been so proud on the paint jobs. I took pictures, then into the dumpster they went.
I remember some others, though, which I didn't find. And I kept the Gemini astronauts.
21 apr 2012 Interesting. and good job, FBI: In Nov 2011, as the FBI realized that taking down a criminal botnet would negatively affect half a million victims, it set up a server to continue their internet service for several months with it's security partner, DCWG.org. But now it's time for that to end, so there are newspaper stories on it, to warn people, to ask them to remove the botnet malware from their PCs.Remembering Project Gemini - The Atlantic, 2012 - 41 big photos
Birds at the feeder: Mourning doves swallow black sunflower seeds whole, while the finches and sparrows crack them open and swallow just the kernel.
I thought John Carter of Mars was pretty good. The cinematography was very well done, but the plot suffers from being 100-year-old pulp fiction. I don't know whether the motives of the bad guys are in the books, but they are absent in the movie. I think it should have been released as summer fodder.
And I rewatched Across the Universe (2007), a very good story set to Beatles music.
20 apr 2012
A Point of View: In defence of obscure words
Will Self, BBC
The suspicion that mass media lead to a banal middlebrow culture is as old as the printing press - arguably even older, given that Plato thought that writing was itself an intolerable derogation of the poetry of the spoken word. But from the vantage of each successive wave crest of popularisation, the anxieties of preceding generations seem touchingly premature.
Take the American cultural critic Dwight MacDonald, who coined the expression "midcult" to refer to those works which "pretend to respect the standards of high culture, while in fact (they) water them down and vulgarize them". MacDonald was writing at a time when Nabokov's Lolita was the fastest-selling novel in American history.
18 apr 2012 Religious discrimination by Romney's cronies.
Lizard-brained partner of murderous kleptocrats does logic:
“Yeah,” Robertson agreed. “Is it guilt? Do we think that we have sinned and therefore we have destroyed our planet and therefore we’re going to get it in the neck?”
“Just keep in mind that Mars, and say, ‘How many SUVs, how many oil refineries are there on Mars?’ And yet, it’s the relationship to the sun that is effecting the climate on Mars,” he concluded.
Mitt Romney, American Parasite
The Presidential candidate's years at Bain represent everything you hate about capitalism
Pete Kotz, Seattle Weekly
..."Romney is not a vulture capitalist, as Rick Perry says, since vultures eat dead carcasses," notes Josh Kosman, who's written about the private equity business for 15 years. He's "more of a parasitic capitalist, since he destroys profitable businesses." ...More on Lyme Disease and testing.
In January, The Wall
Street Journal did
its best to piece together Romney's track
record, reviewing 77 investments made under
his direction. It turned out that nearly one
in three of the companies experienced severe
financial trouble. One in five wound up in
The almost-state of Franklin, 1784-1788. Failed secession from North Carolina.
13 apr 2012
Actually, Nooners has a point. John Wayne is the perfect embodiment of the Republican Party. C&L 4-13-2012
The problem, of course, is that John Wayne was a drunk, a drug addict, a serial womanizer, an abusive husband -- and most importantly -- a draft-dodging chickenhawk. While other actors of his generation volunteered to fight in World War II, Wayne stayed stateside to make movies and get rich playing dress up soldier. Years later, this same man who chose not to fight in the war against fascism said that those opposed to the Vietnam War should be shot. There may not be a more perfect embodiment of a man who spouts right-wing "virtues" while actually leading a life exactly in opposition to those virtues.
12 apr 2012 Cannibalize the Future
Paul Krugman, NYT
One general rule of modern politics is that the people who talk most about future generations — who go around solemnly declaring that we’re burdening our children with debt — are, in practice, the people most eager to sacrifice our future for short-term political gain. You can see that principle at work in the House Republican budget, which starts with dire warnings about the evils of deficits, then calls for tax cuts that would make the deficit even bigger, offset only by the claim to have a secret plan to make up for the revenue losses somehow or other.
And you can see it in the actions of Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey, who talks loudly about acting responsibly but may actually be the least responsible governor the state has ever had.
6 apr 2012 Climate change is a moral issue, on par with slavery. Jim Hansen, NASA climate scientist, from Rawstory
Averting the worst consequences of human-induced climate change is a “great moral issue” on a par with slavery, according to the leading Nasa climate scientist Prof Jim Hansen.
He argues that storing up expensive and destructive consequences for society in future is an “injustice of one generation to others”.
Hansen, ... awarded the prestigious Edinburgh Medal [on 10 apr 2012] for his contribution to science, [called] in his acceptance speech for a worldwide tax on all carbon emissions.
In his lecture, Hansen argue[d] that the challenge facing future generations from climate change is so urgent that a flat-rate global tax is needed to force immediate cuts in fossil fuel use. Ahead of receiving the award – which has previously been given to Sir David Attenborough, the ecologist James Lovelock, and the economist Amartya Sen – Hansen told the Guardian that the latest climate models had shown the planet was on the brink of an emergency. He said humanity faces repeated natural disasters from extreme weather events which would affect large areas of the planet.
“The situation we’re creating for young people and future generations is that we’re handing them a climate system which is potentially out of their control,” he said. “We’re in an emergency: you can see what’s on the horizon over the next few decades with the effects it will have on ecosystems, sea level and species extinction.”
Now 70, Hansen is regarded as one of the most influential figures in climate science; the creator of one of the first global climate models, his pioneering role in warning about global warming is frequently cited by climate campaigners such as former US vice president Al Gore and in earlier science prizes, including the $1m Dan David prize. He has been arrested more than once for his role in protests against coal energy.
Hansen argue[d] in his lecture that current generations have an over-riding moral duty to their children and grandchildren to take immediate action. Describing this as an issue of inter-generational justice on a par with ending slavery, Hansen said: “Our parents didn’t know that they were causing a problem for future generations but we can only pretend we don’t know because the science is now crystal clear.
The one-millionth photo at ISS
first American spacewalk, Edward White, 3 jun 1965
State Liquor, 370 Park Ave., Worcester - Seedy, with Limbaugh bloviating on the TV. Ick.
Thomas Hardy Ale still tastes like rancid treacle. Good thing it comes in small bottles.
Opa Opa IPA is drinkable, but has an unpleasant spoiled note. I like Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA, Wachusett IPA, Harpoon IPA.
Are the "New Black Panthers" a fraud by Fox or other wingers?
From TED: SmartBird, a herring-gull shaped robot that flies by flapping its wings.
And Festo's SmartInversion, "a helium-filled flying object that moves through the air by turning inside-out." Neat trick, assuming it's real; horrible video.
I was mentioning the little remote controlled helicopter robots to someone who said there are much bigger ones, and wouldn't it be interesting to equip them with paint guns and patrol Wall Street for banksters.
My bank is United Bank, based in Springfield Ma. It sent one of those notices we always dread or ignore, about changing terms of service. But no! This was an nice enhancement, saying United will refund up to $10 in ATM fees per statement cycle. I like my bank.
Rep. Paul Ryan's teabagger budget passed the House last week. Paul Krugman commented on it in the NYT. I liked a response by Northsider:
Here's more food for thought: If it's really true that there are $700 billion in annual "loopholes" worth closing, that means there are $700 billion in tax increases for somebody. Maybe somebody like you. Surely, not for the 1% and the corporations who call the shots in the radical right wing Republican Party. So, Mr. Ryan, if you are serious about this and not just making stuff up, please specify your $700 billion in annual tax increases.
Sad Panda (Team 190) upsets the Monkeys
Robot basketball at Florida Atlantic University, with Team 190 briefly shown at sec 19-24
Observations from the political call center:
Moat of us, I think, really do like to talk with you. We calmly accept it, but we know you are probably lying when you say you are "just going going out the door," "on another line," "expecting an important call," "waiting for your taxes" or "too busy." You often deny your identity. You may or may not have money to donate. You may or may not be out of work. You may or may not have just sent the client a check last week. If you're "at work" or "at a meeting," why did you answer the phone?
Maybe those are the white lies that lubricate social interactions, as you make excuses for avoiding social responsibility, evade unexpected solicitors, or feel overwhelmed by pleading from so many causes.
The auto-dialer will keep on making calls, day after day, until someone picks up, speaks to us, and says yes, no or "take me off the call list." You have to specifically say. "Take me off the call list," and it only applies to that client organization's list. We are not allowed to leave phone messages, so if you screen your calls, you're going to get upset at the calls without messages. The auto-dialer could display a company or client identity, instead of a blocked number, but the company and clients prefer not to, for reasons unknown to us callers. Yet some phones do display the company, and some seem to display the number.
It is a small minority of people who contribute to political campaigns, and you get put on lists as possible supporters, so we aren't cold-calling. We know you are being deluged with phone calls, emails and real mail - it would make our job much easier if you were not. It's our job to persuade you of the urgency of our cause, and why this cause is a little more important than that one. It's only April, and people are already experiencing donor fatigue. But there is another group of potential donors that claims it wants to wait until the election is closer. I wish we had a response code for that, at least to test that population by following up.
We can legally call from 8:30 AM to 9:00 PM, local time. So the computers (or supervisors) know when to open and close time zones. It works pretty well, but we get a few people taking their phone numbers as they move, from New York to California, for example; they are usually gracious at being woken at 7 AM. Seems to be only Californians who are furious at being woken at 9 or 10 AM. I don't usually work Sundays, but when I have, there are people upset at being called (although it was their decision to answer a blocked call.)
I looked for a call center image to accompany this text, but nearly all are of pretty, smiling young women. All in all, that's not us. We are male and female, very varied in age, ethnicity, body art and education. No one could look at us and then make even mediocre predictions on the top callers.
Lanternfishes are small mesopelagic fish of the large family Myctophidae. One of two families in the order Myctophiformes, the Myctophidae are represented by 246 species in 33 genera, and are found in oceans worldwide. They are aptly named after their conspicuous use of bioluminescence. Their sister family, the Neoscopelidae, are much fewer in number but superficially very similar; at least one neoscopelid shares the common name 'lanternfish': the large-scaled lantern fish, Neoscopelus macrolepidotus.
Sampling via deep trawling indicates that lanternfish account for as much as 65% of all deep sea fish biomass. Indeed, lanternfish are among the most widely distributed, populous, and diverse of all vertebrates, playing an important ecological role as prey for larger organisms. With an estimated global biomass of 550 - 660 million metric tonnes, several times the entire world fisheries catch, lanternfish also account for much of the biomass responsible for the deep scattering layer of the world's oceans.
"The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller
40 Years Ago Today: Teh Stupid Came to Stay.
On March 22, 1972 the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse, chaired by former Pennsylvania governor Raymond P. Shafer, recommended that Congress amend federal law so that the use and possession of cannabis would no longer be a criminal offense. State legislatures, the commission added, should do likewise.22 mar 2012 Spring weather is here, the windows are partly open, and the dicks with loud motorcycles are roaring back and forth, preening assholiness.
“[T]he criminal law is too harsh a tool to apply to personal possession even in the effort to discourage use,”concluded the 13-member commission, which included nine hand-picked appointees of then-president Richard Nixon, “It implies an overwhelming indictment of the behavior which we believe is not appropriate. The actual and potential harm of use of the drug is not great enough to justify intrusion by the criminal law into private behavior, a step which our society takes only with the greatest reluctance.The criminal law is "too harsh a tool". Eloquently worded, don't you think?
“… Therefore, the Commission recommends ... [that the] possession of marijuana for personal use no longer be an offense, [and that the] casual distribution of small amounts of marihuana for no remuneration, or insignificant remuneration, no longer be an offense.”
However the very harsh tool, Richard Nixon, on his own, apparently, decided that this was the wrong answer and chucked the Shafer Commission Report into the trash and made "reefer madness" - marijuana prohibition and all the propaganda that goes with it - Republican Gospel.
My large bird feeder is divided in two, and this winter I've been filling both sides with black oil sunflower seed. The house sparrows love it, and there have been 30 at once, on the feeder and the shelf below. House finches also come, in pairs and small groups, and wb nuthatches fly in to poke around, usually grab a single seed and fly off again. Occasional downy woodpeckers do the same. The sparrow have emptied the feeder in 5 days, sometimes, and they get to be boring, so I was interested in attracting other birds. One recommendation, perhaps from Audubon, was to use striped sunflower seed, which are larger and tougher than the black oil seed. The sparrows definitely prefer the oil seed: I filled one side with oil seed and the other with striped seed. The oil seed was gone in about 6 days, and after3 weeks, the striped seed is only half gone. House finches are most common now, with only the striped seed left. I get occasional bluejays, mourning doves, downys. sparrows. A titmouse was feeding 2 days ago. I put the thistle feeder out for the season, and have seen a couple of house finches at it.
How much do small prey distinguish among threats? Do the small birds at my feeder know which large birds overhead are threats? There are small groups of crows, ring-billed gulls, turkey vultures, and Canada geese flying around and passing by pretty often, and sometimes a red-tail hawk. Do the potential prey know that only the hawk is really dangerous?
20 mar 2012 Heart of Darkness, on the war in Afghanistan
Maureen Dowd, NYT
The epitaph of our Sisyphean decade of two agonizing wars was written last year by then-Secretary of Defense Bob Gates: “Any future defense secretary who advises the president to send a big American land army into Asia, or into the Middle East or Africa, should have his head examined.”
18 mar 2012
Police state thuggery in New York and St Louis.
I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half. -- Jay Gould (1836-1892)
Murder seems to be legal in Florida, at least if the victim is black and the shooter not, and there are no eye-witnesses. Trayvon Martin was murdered by George Zimmerman, on 26 feb 2012 in Sanford Fla.
9 mar 2012 James Randi, America, the Beautiful (And Nutty): A Skeptic’s Lament
And so I begin my work here at Wired Opinion with a direct, firm, personal statement of my own convictions, derived from 60+ years of close association with dedicated scientists and the responsible media:Those very popular mythical beasties — ESP, psychokinesis, prophecy, etc. — don’t exist.
Homeopathy is a dangerous farce.
Faith-healing is a deadly joke.
Perpetual motion is a juvenile dream.
Uri Geller is a 4-trick magician.
The dead don’t talk to anyone.
Religion is an ancient notion we need to get over.
And then was Martin Luther, referring to Copernicus:
"There is talk of a new astrologer who wants to prove that the earth moves and goes around instead of the sky, the sun, the moon, just as if somebody were moving in a carriage or ship might hold that he was sitting still and at rest while the earth and the trees walked and moved. But that is how things are nowadays: when a man wishes to be clever he must . . . invent something special, and the way he does it must needs be the best! The fool wants to turn the whole art of astronomy upside-down. However, as Holy Scripture tells us, so did Joshua bid the sun to stand still and not the earth."
If I were religious, I'd say, "Rot in Hell, Breitbart." But good riddance, anyway.
The recent Faux outrage over a description of Catholic ritual reminds me:
The Papal Conspiracy Exposed. Rev Edward Beecher. 1854. Boston: Stearns & Co.
A bit of sectarian vitriol, condemning the Romanist system as anti-American, anti-Biblical, bloody, intolerant and totalitarian.
29 feb 2012 Goodbye, First Amendment: ‘Trespass Bill’ will make protest illegal
Just when you thought the government couldn’t ruin the First Amendment any further: The House of Representatives approved a bill on Monday that outlaws protests in instances where some government officials are nearby, whether or not you even know it.
The US House of Representatives voted 388-to-3 in favor of H.R. 347 late Monday, a bill which is being dubbed the Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011. In the bill, Congress officially makes it illegal to trespass on the grounds of the White House, which, on the surface, seems not just harmless and necessary, but somewhat shocking that such a rule isn’t already on the books. The wording in the bill, however, extends to allow the government to go after much more than tourists that transverse the wrought iron White House fence.
Under the act, the government is also given the power to bring charges against Americans engaged in political protest anywhere in the country. ...
The meaning of religious freedom, I fear, is sometimes greatly misapprehended. It is taken to be a sort of immunity, not merely from governmental control but also from public opinion. A dunderhead gets himself a long-tailed coat, rises behind the sacred desk, and emits such bilge as would gag a Hottentot. Is it to pass unchallenged? If so, then what we have is not religious freedom at all, but the most intolerable and outrageous variety of religious despotism. Any fool, once he is admitted to holy orders, becomes infallible. Any half-wit, by the simple device of ascribing his delusions to revelation, takes on an authority that is denied to all the rest of us. - HL Mencken
26 feb 2012 Too Big to Fail: An Executive Suite True-Life Tale
By Sam Pizzigati at OurFuture.org
If a blunder you committed cost your employer $4 million, how long would you stay employed? In America today, a CEO can cost his company $4 billion and still collect both a paycheck and a bonus.
People in America get fired all the time. Break too many plates as a dishwasher, lose too many games as a coach, miss too many deadlines as a reporter, you’re going to be history.
Consider Randall Stephenson, the chief exec at telecom giant AT&T. Stephenson had a bad year in 2011. A really bad year. His decisions cost AT&T over $4 billion. What price did Stephenson pay for this debacle? Last week we learned that price — and much more about the dysfunction that defines us.
assets did Stephenson's T-Mobile fiasco cost AT&T? Try this analogy.
Imagine a terribly disgruntled AT&T employee out to inflict as much damage on the company as he possible could.
This troubled employee picks up a sledgehammer and walks up and down the aisles of an AT&T mobile phone warehouse, smashing one $100 phone box after another. He can smash 10 boxes a minute, 600 an hour. After an eight-hour day, he has inflicted $480,000 worth of destruction.
How long would this destructive demon have to keep that sledgehammer swinging to do as much damage to AT&T's bottom line as CEO Randall Stephenson's $4.2 billion T-Mobile merger break-up? Another 8,749 days.
The disgruntled employee in this parable, needless to say, would be fired — and spend no small amount of time in prison. The actual penalty on Stephenson? Did he lose his job for costing AT&T all those billions?
Not even close. Stephenson, AT&T corporate filings revealed Tuesday, didn’t even lose his bonus. AT&T paid the CEO, for his 2011 executive labors, $1.6 million in base salary, $3.8 million in cash bonus “incentive award,” $12.7 million in stock compensation, and enough other goodies to value his total pay at $22 million.
Interesting penalty. Stephenson saw his pay drop less than 9 percent for an executive performance that dropped AT&T annual earnings by 52 percent.
How Ma Bell Shelved the Future for 60 Years - Gizmodo
Bell Labs invented the telephone answering machine with magnetic tape in the early 1930s, but suppressed it for inane business reasons.
A Dallas-area physician has been arrested and indicted for allegedly bilking Medicare of more than $350 million for bogus health care services.
The federal indictment charges that Dr. Jacques Roy of Rockwall, Texas, had also created a fake identity and sent money offshore with intentions to flee the country.
The indictment charges that Roy, who owned Medistat Group Associates in DeSoto, Texas, "engaged in a staggering and long-running fraud scheme," billing Medicare for more than $350 million and Medicaid for more than $24 million on behalf of 11,000 purported beneficiaries.
Roy's office manager as well as five owners of home health agencis were also indicted in the alleged scheme that federal law enforcement officials called the largest healthcare fraud case in the nation's history, the Chicago Tribune reports.
Under the alleged fraud scheme, the doctor and his office manager in DeSoto, Texas, Teri Sivils, who was also charged, allegedly sent healthcare “recruiters” door-to-door asking residents to sign forms that contained the doctor’s electronic signature and stated that he had seen the residents professionally for medical services he never provided.
They also allegedly dispatched more “recruiters” to a homeless shelter in Dallas, paying $50 to every street person they coaxed from a nearby parking lot and signed him up on the bogus forms.
Give the church a place in the Constitution, let her touch once more the sword of power, and the priceless fruit of all ages will turn to ashes on the lips of men. [Ingersoll's Works, Vol. 1, p. 203]
lobsters grow on trees. I mean, this is economic nonsense.” - George Will
"I'll believe corporations are people when Texas executes one" - Bill Moyers on Colbert
“Ron Paul… you know, I heard somebody say he was like insecticide - 98 percent of it’s inert gases, but it’s the two percent that’s left that will kill you." from TPM
22 feb 2012 Shrimp's Carbon Footprint Is 10 Times Greater Than Beef's
—By Tom Philpott, Mother Jones
... It turns out, not surprisingly, that plates mounded with cheap shrimp float on a veritable sea of ecological and social trouble. In his excellent 2008 book Bottomfeeder: How to Eat Ethically in a World of Vanishing Seafood, the Canadian journalist Taras Grescoe took a hard look at the Asian operations that supply our shrimp. His conclusion: "The simple fact is, if you're eating cheap shrimp today, it almost certainly comes from a turbid, pesticide- and antibiotic-filled, virus-laden pond in the tropical climes of one of the world's poorest nations."
"J. Boone Kaufman, University of Oregon, calls the shrimp-farming style that prevails in Asia "the equivalent of slash-and-burn agriculture," because farm operators typically "only last for 5 years or so before the buildup of sludge in the ponds and the acid sulfate soil renders them unfit for shrimp," he told Science."
more at Wired
25 feb 2012 Social situation maps at Rural Assistance Center - state by state maps of many health and education statistics
health insurance coverage, 2006
18 feb 2012: breitbart; a festering boil on the anus of public discourse. (from Alec Baldwin, via RS)
Karl Rove meets Inigo Montoya
related: The Superiority Complex of Vaccination Foes
By Amanda Marcotte, Slate, 13 feb 2012
13 feb 2012: romney: to defecate in terror. (via Rawstory)
Bottom line: the polluters are paying their whores well.
15 feb 2012 Leaked docs: Heartland Institute think tank pays climate contrarians very well
By John Timmer
The scientific findings relevant to climate change generally appear in journals that the public will never look at. Instead, the public battle over the science and its policy implications often boils down to a battle between scientific societies like the AAAS and National Academies of Science and think tanks like the Cato Institute and Heartland Institute, which contest the scientific consensus. The Heartland has even set up a contrarian counterpart to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, called the NIPCC (for "nongovernmental" and "international," naturally).
Yesterday, a series of documents that allegedly originated form the Heartland were leaked to a prominent climate blog. The documents reveal that most of the funding for its climate activities come from a small range of very generous donors, and that big plans are afoot for 2012. If the Heartland has its way, it will fund the launch of a new website by meteorologist and climate skeptic Anthony Watts, and prepare a school curriculum intended to keep teachers from addressing climate science.
13 feb 2012 Lowering reich-wing standards, week by week:
"We are not auditioning for fearless leader. We don't need a president to tell us in what direction to go. We know what direction to go...We just need a president to sign this stuff. We don't need someone to think it up or design it...Pick a Republican with enough working digits to handle a pen..." — Grover Norquist at CPAC
12 feb 2012. Rep.
Steve King and the scary lightbulbs of scary doom
10 feb 2012. I'm adding Google trackers to many pages,
and testing their ads on a few major pages.
10 feb 2012 -- Some things never change
(Tom Paxton, Ramblin' Boy, 1964)
Civil rights leaders are a pain in the neck
Can't hold a candle to Chang Kai Shek
How do I know? I read it in the Daily News
Ban the bombers are afraid of a fight
Peace hurts business and that ain't right
How do I know? I read it in the Daily News
Daily News, daily blues
Pick up a copy any time you choose
Seven little pennies in the newsboy's hand
And you ride right along to never, never land
We got to bomb Castro, got to bomb him flat
He's too damn successful and we can't risk that
How do I know? I read it in the Daily News
There's millions of commies in the freedom fight
Yelling for Lenin and civil rights
How do I know? I read it in the Daily News
Seems like the whole damn world's gone wrong
Saint Joe McCarthy is dead and gone
How do I know? I read it in the Daily News
Don't try to make me change my mind with facts
To hell with the graduated income tax
How do I know? I read it in the Daily News
John Paul Getty is just plain folks
The UN charter is a cruel hoax
How do I know? I read it in the Daily News
J. Edgar Hoover is the man of the hour
All he needs is just a little more power
How do I know? I read it in the Daily News
Copyright Cherry Lane Music Publishing Co., Inc.
Youtube - Raymond Crooke version (not bad, but he's no Tom Paxton)
Captain Samuel Eddy CRUD Emporium: Pop Rock was named, and learned to play CRUD, but not very well.
5 feb 2012.
I screwed up the formatting of last year's
page, and hadn't gotten around to getting a new template
until now. But I have been saving some material.
O beautiful for Cayman Isles
It's not that I'm an introvert.
It's just that I'm silently plotting a way to kill you
all to stop your incessant CHATTERING DRIVEL...
vs. the plutocrats:
Payday loan criminals, by National
Public Action, via CrooksAndLiars
26 jan 2012 DailyKos. Scrutiny of Willard's tax records revealed three million dollars in a forgotten account, which he dismissed as trivial.
"Trivial? A three million dollar error is trivial, now? Good God, if I accidentally discovered that my bank account had three million more dollars than I thought it did, that wouldn't be trivial, that would would be an occurrence of the caliber of discovering sentient Pop Tarts." -- comment
"Unlimited growth is the ideology of a cancer cell." -- Edward Abbey
12 jan 2012. James Bond villains blamed for nuclear's bad image
By Sean Coughlan, BBC News education correspondent
The evil villains in James Bond movies are being blamed for casting a long-lasting shadow over the image of nuclear power, says the president of the Royal Society of Chemistry. Prof David Phillips says that Dr No, with his personal nuclear reactor, helped to create a "remorselessly grim" reputation for atomic energy. Prof Phillips was speaking ahead of the 50th anniversary of the movie. The chemistry organisation says it wants a "renaissance" in nuclear power.
Prof Phillips says the popularity of the Dr No movie from 1962 created an enduringly negative image of nuclear power - as something dangerous that could be wielded by megalomaniacs with aspirations to world domination.
The evil Dr No was foiled by James Bond: Sean Connery and Ursula Andress in the 1962 movie
The whole religious complexion of the modern world is due to the absence from Jerusalem of a Lunatic Asylum. -- Havelock Ellis